Taking Myself Way Too Seriously

What follows is me working out some “stuff” up there in the ol’ brain pan. A bit indulgent to do this publicly, but maybe putting it out there helps someone else. Or makes me accountable for my own crap. Either way.

So here it is… I have been taking part in a Flickr group that challenges its members to do a new macro photo every week based on a theme the moderators choose.

I started participating on December 4th with this photo:

©2018 Karen Fayeth

I felt clever. Sassy. Like my photo was more creative and of better quality than the others in the group. Go me! I was rewarded with well over one hundred faves in the first day. Hey, fun!

So I kept going. Each week working hard and having fun doing these weekly photo challenges. Creating a new image every week. Some weeks I worked really hard (or agonized) over executing my idea.

Other weeks it came easy to me, I snapped a photo that was exactly what I wanted and went on about my day.

But always having fun and not taking it too seriously.

Until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago I stopped having fun and got deadly (overly) serious about my weekly photo entry.

Let me back up. This Flickr group is huge, over 13,000 members. Each Monday between 800 to 1,200 photos are posted for the theme. This means in order to function, the group must be tightly moderated. And it is. Tightly.

I both like and respect that there are heavily enforced rules for the group. But I also HATE it because I’m an *artist* and The Muse can’t be contained by your silly rules. I should be able to break them because MY work is the best.

Yeah, okay. I own it. I got weird. I hate it when I get weird.

The week’s theme was monochromatic, and I turned this one in:

©2018 Karen Fayeth

I really like this photo. I worked hard on it and felt really good about it. I feel like I did something worthwhile. Artistic.

Less than ten minutes after adding it to the group, a moderator pulled it, telling me “This is not monochromatic, I can see both brown and green.”

I seethed. I stewed. I started looking at other photos in the group and found SEVERAL that also had tiny bits of another color that made it through the moderator’s net.

I bellowed about how unfair it was. I started making a list of all the other photos that were let through. I prepared to launch my vitriol on anyone who would listen and demand answers for my mistreatment. How could they hate my photo so much!?!?! (I know, I know)

Then I went to talk to The Good Man, and as I detailed all the ways I had been wronged, I heard myself. I listened to my words and realized…aw damn…I’d stopped having fun. I was this worked up over a photo on Flickr in a group where the only prize is some eyes seeing the photo and some faves.

Yeah. I hit the wall pretty hard. This came just a day after struggling with a story for a writing contest that just would not gel for me. I hadn’t given myself enough time to work on it and the story would not come together no matter how hard I tried. I tried to shotgun it and I failed hard. I did still turn in the story but I know it’s not good.

You see, I wasn’t mad at that stupid unfair moderator. I was mad at me.

And that’s no way to create. That is the antithesis of creativity. This dampens The Muse.

So I went all the way there and now I’m reeling myself back in. I swear. I sat my Muse and my brain down and we had a talk. Feelings were felt and admonitions were issued. Promises to be better. To loosen up. To remember why I do any of my creative work…to have fun. To let the creativity out. To create something.

And I’m better. I am. The following week I swore I wasn’t going to participate in the Flickr group again, but that was EXACTLY why I needed to get back in the game. So I made a photo based on the theme “in a bottle.”

Here’s my Valentine to myself. Green like the Hulk who gets very, very mad. Sweet like the victory of turning out a piece of art and something I really like. It also met the rules and made it past the moderators.

©2018 Karen Fayeth

Lesson learned. Scars formed. Exterior just a little bit tougher.

And this week? Try, try again.

The M Stands Accused

On or about the day of September 18 in the year of our Lord two thousand and twelve, the defendant was seen both loitering and malingering in the hallway at my place of employ.

Slouching fetchingly on the top of a lateral file cabinet. The tramp.

And on said date, on or about 3:42pm, the defendant stands accused of calling out in a beckoning, sultry, irresistible manner.

So alluring was this siren call that no reasonable man or woman, especially woman, could be expected to maintain even a modicum of self-control in the face of such raw, base power.

As a result of the defendant’s irresponsible actions, the victim was thusly lured to the defendant and did partake of the goodies offered thereto.

And it was good.

However, the defendant now stands accused of gross misconduct, excessive deliciousness, and being the addictive combination of sugar, fat and salt.

The victim hereby claims damages to her waistline, thighs and double chin. And a big pile of guilt on her shoulders for all to see.

And so, you criminal, you plague of society, you vile tempter, how to you plead in the face of such strong allegations?

Peanut Butter M&M’s, you sneaky bastards!

Playing silent eh? We’ll see about that.

You and your little friends, you are going to be put away someplace for a very long time.

A very, very long time.

Git in mah bellay!

Image from Terribly Awesome.


In honor of Halloween, the scariest day of the year, I figured I’d do a little mental deep dive and reveal some of my most scary nightmares.

Perhaps in the light of day they won’t seem so scary, right? Maybe I can take some of the fear out of them.

I had one of these dreams last night and found it hard to shake off. So let’s start with that one.

I’m in my car, driving too fast, and suddenly, my brakes don’t work. The pedal feels right, I’m pressing on it and it gives resistance, but the car isn’t slowing down. I grab frantically for the handbrake but that does no good. I try to take the car out of gear, but that doesn’t work….often I’m rolling down a hill. Sometimes it’s in San Francisco.

Only once in my life did I had something similar happen. I was in college and driving my dad’s old ’72 full size Blazer, and the master cylinder was going out. I rolled to an intersection, hit the brakes, and it went all the way to the floor. Yipes! I was able to get my toe under the pedal, lift it, and kept pumping the brakes until I finally stopped. I was scared, but thankfully got through that safely.

I have no idea what this inability to stop is about but it *freaks* me out. I was all jittery driving to work this morning.

I’m in danger, I turn to run, but my legs are heavy and I can’t run. I’m making a running motion but moving slower than molasses in January. I bend over and use my arms to help me run/crawl, scratching at the ground trying to get away.

I think this one is a fairly common dream. A lot of people have it. I’m not much of a runner in real life and I think this dream plays on my own insecurities about that fact. Like, if I was ever really in trouble, could I run away?


I’m in college. It’s finals week. Trouble is, there is a class that I haven’t bothered to attend all semester. I’m freaking out! What am I going to do? There is no way I can pass this class! I’m going to fail!

The class I forgot to attend is usually a math class (my absolute worst subject). Sometimes it’s accounting. Lately it’s morphed into that god awful advanced Economics night class I had in grad school.

This is such a weenie nightmare. I can’t believe how much it totally freaks me out. Oh dear, I might fail a class. Big deal!

But I wake from this dream *frantic* and freaking out.

The monsters of the mind are far worse than any creepy Halloween story, I guess.

I’m staying in a really nice hotel. I go to my room and check in. Then I leave my room for some reason, I need ice, I need to find something to eat, whatever. And then I can’t find my way back to my room. I go up and down stairs. I wander through hallways of the hotel. I keep taking the elevator and it puts me on floors I don’t recognize. The more I try to find my way back, the more lost I become. I start getting more and more frantic.

This dream often takes place in a huge Las Vegas casino (ever felt hopelessly lost inside of a huge casino in real life? I sure have.). Sometimes it takes place on a college campus or a high school building. It’s a dream of chasing my tail ’round and ’round.

Whenever I check into a hotel in my real life, I inevitably try to find landmarks so I can find my way back, owing to my whackadelic brain and this dream that recurs month after month, year after year.

Tornados. Enough said.

I’ve chronicled my own Really Bad Day dancing with a tornado in Carlsbad. I think that one afternoon left me irrevocably scarred.

Ok, of all of my frightful dreams, at least this on and the brakes going out are dreams that I can go “well yeah, that’s actually scary!”

I think the rest of my nightmares listed are pretty much crazy machinations of an over emotional brain.

To misquote Emerson, simply hobgoblins of my little mind.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Devil graphic by Viktors Kozers and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

You Want Bridge? I got Bridge.

Today’s Theme Thursday is bridge, and since I have a mild obsession with photographing bridges, this is right in my wheelhouse.

I like to photograph bridges from a car while traversing them (an iPhone camera is perfect for this task), which is both fun, and creates some unique shots. Here are a few of my favorites.

Let’s start with photos of the Golden Gate. It’s so beautiful that honestly, it’s hard to take a bad photo. The challenge is creating something that’s not been done before.

I have a lot of photos of the Golden Gate since I can’t be in the vicinity without snapping a few shots, so there was a lot to choose from.

The most unique of all my Golden Gate photos came from the QuadCam iPhone app. The balance of blue sky and orange bridge knocks me out. This exactly how it looks when The Good Man drives and I hang my head out the window to see the bridge as it goes by.

I never get tired of it.

Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

For years I was so enamored of the Golden Gate that I all but ignored the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It’s an odd ball bridge, a mash up of two styles. But the more I drive the bridge, the more I appreciate both halves of the Bay Bridge and just how hard this poor bridge works every day.

Here’s the eastern span (soon to be replaced by a new design):

Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

And here’s the western span, a fascinating suspension:

Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

How about the lesser known but still really cool Carquinez Bridge? Like the Bay Bridge, it’s got two looks depending on which direction you are driving.

Heading north, it looks a lot like the eastern span of the Bay Bridge:

Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

Heading south it has a simple but elegant suspension design:

Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

Northern California has so many beautiful bridges to keep me and my lens occupies for years. And then, every now and again, I get a chance to get out of California and photograph other bridges.

I fell head over heels in love with the Brooklyn Bridge the instant I set foot on it. That stone structure is so incredible and powerful. And again, it’s so often photographed that I tried very hard to see something different through the lens.

I’d love to go back and try again since my photography skills have improved a lot since this was taken.

Copyright 2006, Karen Fayeth

There is a little bridge that crosses a bit of the Bay inlet near where I work. I’ve been thinking about that bridge for several weeks and it’s next on my list to photograph. It’s a short pedestrian bridge but comes with no small amount of charm.

I do love bridges

If you want more of a New Mexico flavor, keep an eye on Jim Baca’s blog, Bridges on the Rio Grande. It’s a project to document every bridge over the sometimes muddy sometimes mighty river from the Head Waters to the Gulf of Mexico.

All photos copyright Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this and every page of this blog.

A Cacophony of Noms

Over this past weekend, The Good Man and I got together to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day with my in-laws. It’s always nice to have a chance to catch up with family.

The place we chose to eat was a nice hotel with a Sunday buffet brunch and a live jazz trio to add ambiance.

The family all got dressed up and converged on the hotel. The jazz was lovely. The setting sublime. Mimosas were poured. Chatter happened. Then the waiter said “go ahead and get started” and we were off to wander around the wonderland of food.

I have to admit that at first I could only stumble about with an empty plate. I was both surprised and astounded by all the food.

Prime rib and pancakes, sushi and dim sum, a huge table of seafood of all varieties! And that was only the beginning.

One part of me was like “Yeah baby!” I could easily envision myself much like Cookie Monster, shoveling it all in there while grunting “ahm nom nom nom nom!”

But another part of me was almost turned off by the literal piles of food. Good lord! So much food! A first world problem, to be sure.

After walking around in a daze, I finally dove in. I made the conscious decision NOT to lay right down and devour the entire dessert table (it was tempting). Instead I chose only the things I knew for sure I’d like and in small amounts. I had to remind myself that I could return for more if needed. That ol’ demon self-control.

I think the key to a buffet is if you take something you don’t really care for…don’t eat it. Yes, I know for many the idea of wasting food is terrible, but in this scenario, it’s almost necessary.

In the past, I’ve had occasion to think about the “I have to get my money’s worth out of the buffet!” concept. This plagues a lot of people and causes the desire to eat as much as possible. This is fairly common, actually. I’ve personally succumbed to this thought.

To be honest, the cost of the buffet is less about how much one can eat and more about how many choices the establishment is able to provide. It costs money to have enough people to put on a spread like that.

A buffet is certainly a deliciously dangerous place for a food lover like me, but it’s also a boon for a food lover. A buffet provides a huge range of choices that I’d just never get with a traditional sit down and order off the menu type of meal.

It’s all about balance.

At the end of the day, the intent was to be with family, not Cookie Monster the entire meat carving station. Though the thought did cross my mind…