Sunday, November 21, 2004


Post-Sculptural Syndrome (04F-14)

My knees hurt. My back hurts. It takes me a few seconds to get out of a
chair and stand up straight. I feel as if I've been dragged behind a sled
team for a mile or two, without benefit of a sled. Someone threw me out of
a truck going about 40 miles per hour. Or just call it simple: I got hit by
a truck and left by the side of the road. At least this time it was a small

"This time?" you ask. "How often is this man run over by a truck? Is this a
new hobby?"
"No," I'd say. "It's an old hobby. I used to be able to make a sculpture
and then do something else the next day. That was twenty years ago. Tess is
the one who coined the name for the problem. "Are you post-sculptural
today, Larry?"

"Yes." No doubt about it. Small things that I try to pick up get dropped,
big things that I try to walk around get run into. I'm likely to stand in
the middle of the room for several seconds trying to remember why I started
moving. And, when I finally do remember, getting my recalcitrant body in
motion takes some time.

Making a sand sculpture involves all of me. It's a lot of physical work:
carrying sand and water, setting up the form and packing the sand in there
in a carefully controlled manner. This is after getting the whole kit to
the beach by bicycle. After the pile is made I spend the rest of the day
moving around, twisting myself into odd postures as I carve it. Carving is
very demanding mentally. It's design done on the fly, minimal plan,
responding to what I see in the sand. And then I have to load everything
back onto the trailer, drag it across the sand (reminding me of those
'49ers in the Forty MIle Desert), hook it up and then get the whole outfit
home without causing a traffic accident.

Yesterday was a good day. I got to the beach at around 0700 and started the
project by carrying several buckets of fine sand about 150 feet from the
low-tide area to my selected construction site. The rest of the sand I'd
get from the site itself, and mix it with the finer and darker low-tide
sand both to make the pile stronger and to emphasize the layers that form
as I pack it.

I had an idea for the sculpture and actually stayed with part of it, a long
spiral from base to top. It developed a kink in the middle for some reason.
I guess I just didn't want to hew to any plan, even mine. Then I was going
to carve some decorative fine work in the thin sections between major
supports. This sort of thing lights up nicely in the sunset.

Various friends came down to visit. Patrick and Vanessa came first, Mosaic
people from a life group I've attended. Then Sigrid and Ed, who walk the
beach every day and stop when I'm there to chat. They wandered on north and
then Sandra came along. She's another Mosaic member. We talked of blogs and
photography and God while I carved. She wanted to try my new camera so I
showed her the basics and turned her loose. Digital cameras are very
freeing as there is no ongoing expense. The cost of entry is steep, but
after that you can coast; my Powershot cost about $700 two years ago and
the photography I've done with it would have cost about $1000 in film.
It'll take me longer than that to pay for the new one.

In the early afternoon, Rich in his trademark blue jacket came ambling
across the sand. I met him in 1995 and he has since been here for almost
all my sculpture attempts. He does photography while I work, feeds me
cookies and minds the store while I use the restroom, and we tell each
other puns and discuss science fiction.

And then I realized the day was getting away from me. The sun might wait
for Elijah, but it won't wait for me to finish a sculpture. I moved fast,
got it done and prepared for photography. Then I discovered I had no
camera. George and Sandra were trading my EOS 1D back and forth. George is
a serious photographer and was put out that I hadn't brought my tripod.
Sand sculpture suits his photography style because it doesn't move. Anyway,
I needed to get something for my records, so I was glad I had the Powershot
along. I shot a walkaround series with that and then was lucky enough to
get my hands on the big camera for a minute.

The sun came out between a sheet of cloud and the horizon and we got some
nice light, and then it was gone. A red circle, then half circle, then a
spark and then gone. The day was over and we were cold. George and Rich
helped me pull the trailer to my bike, and then we parted. My ride home was
slow but I made it.

I managed to get out of bed this morning. No more than the usual aches and
pains. I had enough brain power to make a bowl of cereal, and then I
decided to fire up the loaner computer and play "Myst Uru." This is a Cyan
product, for which I'm glad Myst 3 and Myst 4 were disappointments, with
the latter being, by my standards, unplayable. Ugly. "Uru" is nice but in
my PSS I missed several obvious cues. Fortunately there's help available
and that got me back in the game.

I did some reading, and also braved the streets to go get my commuter bike
from the shop. I stopped at Mani's first, for a turnover, and then rode the
bus to the bike shop. Riding home was, um, interesting. My brain was
running about half a block behind the bike. Fortunately traffic was light.
The bike, Raven Cloudfinder, runs better with the new bottom bracket but
they forgot to adjust the front derailer so I don't have low gears.

After that I just sort of faded away. I'll be better tomorrow. I promise.
Maybe I'll be able to write then. Something substantive, with decent
spelling and sentences that make sense.

2004 November 21 (evening, to Blog)

Hey Larry...

Come over and read my blog sometime --

Suse is a nickname my coworker gave me, and the "saucy drunk" part has little to do with me being actually drunk (long story, I'll fill you in some other time).

Yay blogs!
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