Sometimes people ask me how I get ideas for blog posts. Really, the question is how do I find enough time to let everyone know about everything that bugs me?

For example, here are photos I've been holding onto for a while. It's a series of the dumbest engagement photos ever. But wait. Before you click I'm going to tell you that they are actually someone's real engagement photos. And if you thought it was too mean to call out David Dellifield for being an asshole to me, then you are probably not going to like that I'm linking to real-life photos to dis them. So if you feel high and mighty, don't click.

Really, though, I encourage you to click. Because first of all, these people liked their photos enough to let their photographer put them on her blog. But also, these photos are part of a trend where people do completely stupid, out-of-the-ordinary things for their engagement photos, so they feel that they will have a special, extraordinary life.

But newsflash to all you newlyweds spending too much money on engagement photos: You will not have even an ordinary life. But you will wish you did. You will dream of an easy family life, and easy marriage, and a dog that is housetrained even when you're gone the whole day. You will not get that. No one does. And everyone wants it.

So the engagement photo trend is terrible. Horrible. And the corollary to that trend is the tablescape trend.

Maria Killam, who is great, and who picked out all the colors for my house that I love, came to my house to visit and started talking about tablescapes. She said they are a huge right now and I need them.

As far as I can tell, they are tsotskes draped all over the surfaces in one's house. They are arrangements of objects that could not withstand normal family life, for people who do not have a normal family life. Tablescapes look like wishscapes — that is, a melange of junk that someone thinks expresses why they are special. (Country Living is full of this stuff, overpriced New York custom-made furniture capped with farm-fetish crap to give a room a rich-but-down-to-earth feel.)

The whole trend reeks of fakery. Just like the staged engagement photos. I often get on my high horse about fakery. I call everyone out on it because I think I’m the queen of coming clean about everything. But the people closest to me are able to call me out on my own fakery.

For instance, I’ll use Xanax for my problems, but I can’t do Xanax all the time or I’d be a narcotic addict. And anyway, I have to save Xanax for when the Farmer wants sex and I’m stuck, curled up in a ball.

Don’t tell me I shouldn’t take a Xanax to have sex, okay? I’m still very fun after just one pill, and I don’t even know if the Farmer can tell the difference. And don’t tell me to meditate instead, because the best meditating I ever do is when I’m on Xanax. Time really goes by fast that way. I can really sit still.

So I’m trying to decide how to manage my problems best: Meditation or medication? I have tried a wide range of medication, but I miss having a mind that races. Do you know how many blog post ideas I have in one day? Ten. Twenty if you count the bad ones. It’s just that I’m too scattered to write one every day.

In hindsight, my racing brain is a big reason I moved from New York City to a farm. Here\’s what I took a photo of the last time I went to New York City: It’s me trying to get visual peace so I can think.

I think I chose to have calmness around me on a farm so I can focus on the craziness in my head.

You can say that this is not functional, but I think this is how most people have wild success in their career. By letting their brain be wild. It’s a choice.

But the people around me might be getting sick of it. And I have had enough comments on this blog from kids whose parents were crazy for me to know that no kid wants a parent whose mind is racing about stuff that is not the kids.

But it’s so hard to give up having a brain that goes nonstop through rants and tirades and ten hours of work in ten minutes. It’s hard to give that up to be a medicated, normal, kind, accommodating, person.

And now, we come full circle. Because I’m telling you that I like being different. Like the people in the engagement photos. I don’t really want that; anyone who thinks they are special is on the road to hell. Because feeling special is just a way to avoid doing the things that most people do to fix the problems that you have.

One way to get ideas about how to do what others do to fix your problems is to find a coach. The New Yorker has a great article about how everyone needs coaching. It’s a surgeon writing about how weird it is that surgeons don’t have coaches and what he does in order to find one for himself. (I honestly feel like the undertone of the article is that, like most surgeons, he has too big an ego to get coaching, and what he really wants is a writing coach, because like most surgeons, he wants to be great at everything.)

But the article is instructive in that we each need a coach in order to get what we want. He has good evidence about that. And I can see that when I coach people it’s so easy to see what they should be doing, so I can understand how I should have a coach for myself, as well.

If I were my own coach, I’d look at the discrepancy between what I say I want and what I’m doing.  I say I want to be calm, but what I’m doing is getting worked up about engagement photos and making a living linking to stuff I hate. This is not really the action of someone who wants to be calm.

I want to be calm for my kids but not so calm that the rest of my life is boring.

You must be wondering what I’m learning in couples therapy. I mean, we go there twice a week. We must be learning something, right? What we are learning is how to calm ourselves down in the moment.

The guy is Don Ferguson, and he wrote this book, and one of his specialties is couples who have some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder attached to them. I think we have that. Probably in both of us. I mean, the Farmer worked on his parents’ farm for 40 years and then they gave their farm to their daughters’ kids instead of the Farmer. While he was still working on the farm. I think that’s a sign that he has had a hard time for a long time.

So, in our therapy, we learn how to calm ourselves down in the middle of whatever we are doing. And while I like to think that the Farmer is emotionally retarded and I’m just going to couples therapy for him to get his shit together, the truth is that I have a lot of the same problems he does.

One of  which is that I can get worked up about anything. Because I think it’s interesting. But I need to be able to stop it quickly if the people around me don’t like it.

So I am choosing meditation over medication. I like the idea of being able to calm down for people I love, but to be not calm for me. I have had my head racing for so long that it’s sort of my comfort zone.

140 replies
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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    ” But you will wish you did. You will dream of an easy family life, and
    easy marriage, and a dog that is housetrained even when you're gone the
    whole day. You will not get that. No one does.”

    Which is weird, because you have exactly described what I go home to.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    ” But you will wish you did. You will dream of an easy family life, and
    easy marriage, and a dog that is housetrained even when you're gone the
    whole day. You will not get that. No one does.”

    Which is weird, because you have exactly described what I go home to.

  3. R.
    R. says:

    Thanks for explaining your attachment to a racing mind. It’s helping me try to understand my mother, who is bipolar and keeps going off her meds for reasons that sound reasonable but that just lead to more mania.

    I really think she just likes being manic (after decades of depression). And I really don’t like her when she’s manic ~ it’s like I’m not in the room with her, it’s just her and her mania filling up all the space. And not liking my mom makes me really uncomfortable, so then I don’t want to talk to her.

    Anyway, this post helps me see her side of things a little more.

    • Missing my mania
      Missing my mania says:

      I have manic depression (aka bipolar disorder). I can’t even remember all of the medications that I have tried. Currently, I’m taking one new mad (lamotrigine, an anticonvulsant) and one old school med (lithium). This combo seem to be working for now. However, like your mother, I miss my hypomanic episodes very much. 

      Life feels so much better in that state. I feel more alive, and things get accomplished. Racing thoughts can be all-consuming at times, but they are so much better than the feeling of just getting by plodding along during “normal” times. Depression sucks, since one doesn’t care about anything, but I’ve dealt with it enough to get out of it.

      If you haven’t read any books about manic depression, I suggest you do some research to help your understanding. Understanding is helpful, but as a potential caregiver, it’s also important that you recognize some symptoms of transitions. As much as I miss the hypomanic states, they have potential to be damaging personally and professionally.

      Kay Jamison’s “An Unquite Mind,” is insightful (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0679763309/?tag=ptrunk-20). Granted, she’s a psychiatrist with access to better resources than most folks, but her story will give you a taste of what mania can be like for some. She has some other writings on the subject that may be interesting as well. I think it would be wise for you to speak with your mother’s doctor for other reading recommendations, particularly from a psychological standpoint with a section for family & friends.

      Good luck!

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous says:

        I want to second that I love Kay Jamison’s book. I read it when I worked for a CEO who had manic depression (he told employees) and then I read that manic depression is a relatively common affliction (is it an affliction? or an advantage? I don’t even know) for CEOs.

        Penelope

  4. dc
    dc says:

    Those photos were horrible and fake and so unreal. The girl wasn’t even smiling half the time. People are so unattached to reality even though they think they are…

    • Margaret
      Margaret says:

      A wise man once said
      “Stay Hungry, Stay foolish”.

      And
       
      “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life”

      So what if they are unaware of the “reality”. That’s their life, their choices, and more power to them for not having to censor themselves to what others would think is ridiculous, or fake or phony.

      So what if they want some theatrics in their lives?

      So what is some of us do believe in happy endings, get our hearts broken, and start all over again?

  5. Ruth Zive
    Ruth Zive says:

    Mediation over medication?  Did you mean meditation?  I’m thoroughly confused (but perhaps that’s what you get when you try and linger inside of Penelope’s head for too long).  

    Also, you shouldn’t use the word retarded.  At least not in that context….

      • Ruth Zive
        Ruth Zive says:

        I understand what retarded means thank you.  Actually, it doesn’t mean ‘less advanced’, it means decelerated, or slowed.  But given Penelope’s tone, and her liberal use of colloquial slang, I found this particular use to be inappropriate.  The word has clinical implications that are somewhat legit (and if the Farmer has a clinical diagnosis of emotional ‘retardation’…if there is such a thing, then I suppose my reaction was unwarranted), but I don’t think that was the intention of the word in this context.  There are sensitivities around the more casual use of the word, and here, I think there is a suggestion that it’s okay to use the word ‘retarded’ or ‘retard’ in an everyday and less clinical fashion.  In fact, the Special Olympics has a global campaign to eliminate the use of the word altogether, even in its most clinical sense.  I support that campaign.

          • Lestamore
            Lestamore says:

            Are there any words you think would not be appropriate for use in a blog like this, words for women or minorities that are not commonly used in polite society?  Those words are more or less banned out of sensitivity to those who have been marginalized with them.  Have you ever heard the ‘r’ word used in a positive way?  For many who have had developmental or cognitive problems, this word reduces their very being and experience into an insult, much like the n word, the c word, or the b word.  Nobody who has heard that word given as the singular justification for abuse, should have to come across it in their casual or professional life, especially when used uncritically, as an insult.  If women and ethnic minorities deserve our respect in regard to the use of derogatory loaded terms, then so do the non-neurotypical and those who are otherwise strongly effected by hearing this word.

  6. L.
    L. says:

    Has it ever occurred to you that the farmer’s parents have changed the will to exclude him because he is married to a crazy person?  Why would they want to take a chance that the family legacy could possibly end up in your hands if he should inherit and die ahead of you?  You must be the daughter-in-law from hell.  You show your contempt for their son in your blogs that publicly ridicule him and violate his privacy.  They probably wonder, daily, why he disrupted his formerly peaceful life for a ride on your crazy train.  So, as a result, they also must question his judgement and fitness to take over their hard-earned family business.

    I’ve known people like you before.  Aspie, be damned.  You’re just a narcissist who takes up all the air in a room and must have complete attention always focused on you.  You are a crazy maker and a drama queen, plain and simple.

    I think it’s rich that you ridicule those who you think are trying to be “special”.  I’ve never seen such desperation to appear “special” than the content of your blog.  It just screams “look at me – I’m one in a million.”  Sadly, you are far too common. 

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      I just wanted to say, whoever you are, that you are way out of line, if you had read even a handful of writings, you would know that.  She has already written that the Farmer is fine with her writing about their life together.  And if you followed his blog as well as Penelope’s, you might see that there does seem to be a good balance and a harmony, as well as genuine love and affection, between the two.  What is your problem, exactly?  It is also the devil’s work to create friction and distress, unnecessarily, for two individuals who are trying to create a life for themselves.  People already have enough stress in life without having to answer to others (whether they are anonymous or not) who are unreasonably judgmental, short-sighted, rude, obscenely intrusive, and perhaps even evil.  Three words: Get A Life.   

      • yet another melissa
        yet another melissa says:

        Can you please provide the link to the farmer’s blog.  I have been searching for a while but have not yet cme across it. Thanks!!

      • Yourjudgement
        Yourjudgement says:

        well, seeing as how she rants and raves on a daily basis. there is no real reason to to follow this INSANE rant AKA ‘blog post’ i am amazed that you see her as genuine. if she has TOO much stress then maybe she shouldn’t write a BLOG!! Where she is openly letting her life unfold before the masses. So it is she who chooses that and there is no wrong or right in one or the other for making judgments. When making a blog public you must be willing to be open to all these things, criticism with love or hate. AND welcome to the wide world of internet!

    • Lestamore
      Lestamore says:

      And what makes YOU think you have the right to call someone else out, especially on their own blog.  This post is 100% hypocritical, I bet you think you are a bold person who says it like it is, but no one wants to hear it, and if you think your observations are so valuable, make your own blog and see how many people care to visit.  The irony of all this ‘specialness’ talk, is that when it comes down to it, our choices and circumstances really do distinguish us from each other.  Penelope has something others want to be a part of despite her shortcomings.  What is far too common are people like you who crave the minute power they can have over others by being an anonymous bully on the internet.  I won’t hazard a guess as to the pathology that might engender such an attitude, but refusing to empathize with behavior you exhibit yourself seems like a good way to stay in denial about your own actions.  You might want to consider that.

    • Lestamore
      Lestamore says:

      And what makes YOU think you have the right to call someone else out, especially on their own blog.  This post is 100% hypocritical, I bet you think you are a bold person who says it like it is, but no one wants to hear it, and if you think your observations are so valuable, make your own blog and see how many people care to visit.  The irony of all this ‘specialness’ talk, is that when it comes down to it, our choices and circumstances really do distinguish us from each other.  Penelope has something others want to be a part of despite her shortcomings.  What is far too common are people like you who crave the minute power they can have over others by being an anonymous bully on the internet.  I won’t hazard a guess as to the pathology that might engender such an attitude, but refusing to empathize with behavior you exhibit yourself seems like a good way to stay in denial about your own actions.  You might want to consider that.

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      I dont see a request for jerks to come on this blog and be jerks. If you dont like the blog, be a gentleman about it and walk away. what, too narcisistic for that? Try topix. you can scream to the universe 24/7, but at least you wont be insulting anyone.

    • Colleen
      Colleen says:

      Penelope doesn’t show contempt for the Farmer. It’s obvious in how she writes about him how much she loves him and how great she thinks he is. That’s how most of her readers will see him too–as being a wonderful person, caring, and even sexy, when most women wouldn’t give him a second glance without the P-related fame. Even when she writes about strife between them, the way she does it is to invite much of the blame on herself. 

      If someone disinherits their son because of his choice of a wife, that indicates something to do with their relationship between them and the son. It has nothing to do with P.

    • Colleen
      Colleen says:

      Penelope doesn’t show contempt for the Farmer. It’s obvious in how she writes about him how much she loves him and how great she thinks he is. That’s how most of her readers will see him too–as being a wonderful person, caring, and even sexy, when most women wouldn’t give him a second glance without the P-related fame. Even when she writes about strife between them, the way she does it is to invite much of the blame on herself. 

      If someone disinherits their son because of his choice of a wife, that indicates something to do with their relationship between them and the son. It has nothing to do with P.

      • MJ
        MJ says:

        Really?  Because I found the comment about the Farmer probably not noticing that she’s on Xanax during sex to not be clearly motivated by love, appreciation and respect.  More of a “dumb, oblivious guy” comment.

        • Colleen
          Colleen says:

          Hmm, I guess we all spin it the way our particular lens of the world is set. To me, the Xanax comment reflects more of self-condemnation on P’s part than saying anything about the Farmer. She’s talking about her own neurosis. Do you see the Farmer as being dumb and oblivious from what she said, or do you see Penelope as being disrespectful? It seems to me more the latter, which is exactly my point–the way she writes is to invite blame on herself. If she truly wanted to make you think the Farmer was dumb I am sure she could easily do that.

  7. Scritch
    Scritch says:

    1. I have no problem with the word retarded. 
    2. Those engagement pictures were hilarious. I’ve seen worse. Couples running behind foliage and peeping out. I wanted to vomit. 
    3. Sex on Xanax sounds like fun. 

  8. Anhelo
    Anhelo says:

    Great decision. 
    I go for the same. I’m a schizotypal and I don’t want to give up my traits, they make me the great person I am. But I don’t want my husband or friends to hate me, so I meditate. And because I meditate, I can, when around people, feel less disturbed.

    • Pen
      Pen says:

      I see P. has written both Meditation and Mediation (seemingly) interchangeably.  I wonder if that was on purpose?   I know she doesn’t worry about typos so I’m not sure.

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous says:

        I changed mediation to meditation. And I think that somehow, taking notice of how similar these spellings are will make me better at word games, which I am already hyperly competitive about. 

        Penelope

  9. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I don’t understand engagement photos.  But then I’m selfish and not just vain, so I would much rather invest in a photo shoot just of me in really good lighting.  I mean, what if you break up, or run for politics?  They’ll dig anything up.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      This is how I feel as well. If you a blowing a lot on the wedding, blow a lot of money on the best photo of your life. 

      Penelope

      • Wayne Smith
        Wayne Smith says:

        From a photographer’s perspective… a lot of photographers use engagement shoots as a way to sell bigger packages and include them “free”. It’s a way for the photographers to spend a little time with the couple before the big day and really get to know them and their tastes so they can be better prepared for the wedding.

      • Davednh
        Davednh says:

        I don’t understand people’s need to judge something they don’t like.  Does it make us feel better about ourselves?  Better than them?  something else?
        I didn’t take engagement photos and am pretty ambivalent about these but it always seemed to me that any desire for a person to go out of their way to tell someone else that the pictures are bad said more about that person than the pictures…
        I know a blog is about opinions but really?  How does calling these out as stupid make your point better than without? Is it funny?  Does it make you feel better?  More importantly, how is this any different than David Dellifield’s tweet?  

        • Guest
          Guest says:

          “I don’t understand people’s need to judge something they don’t like.”

          You are aware you spend the rest of your comment judging something you don’t like? ;)

  10. guest
    guest says:

    Oh if you think that’s a bad engagement photo shoot, check out this one. http://greenweddingshoes.com/the-story-of-red-riding-hood-kelli-taylor/ There is a WHOLE world of insanely bad story time engagement photo shoots. 

  11. guest
    guest says:

    Oh if you think that’s a bad engagement photo shoot, check out this one. http://greenweddingshoes.com/the-story-of-red-riding-hood-kelli-taylor/ There is a WHOLE world of insanely bad story time engagement photo shoots. 

  12. jim
    jim says:

    Calm does not have to equal boring. I’ve been dedicating myself to improving my calm over the past two-three years, and what I’ve found is that smaller things, the kind you don’t notice when you’re not calm, become endlessly fascinating to me.

  13. Adrian
    Adrian says:

    Penelope you might enjoy this recent article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanne-ball/meditation-and-ego_b_1032259.html
    “While spiritual teacher, therapist or life coach may offer help and hope, no one
    can liberate your ego for you. A gentle, effortless technique of transcending is
    one way you can do it for yourself”

  14. ResuMAYDAY
    ResuMAYDAY says:

    How clever and accurate that you compare those posed engagement photos to tablescapes.
    They are both so overly manufactured and forced and only exist to get an “oooh, ahhhh, you’re so much more interesting than me! response” from anyone who looks at either.
    As always, I’m wishing you and the Farmer lots of love and interesting happiness with each other. 

  15. Mikeh
    Mikeh says:

    ~P – I couldn’t agree more about the photo’s. In six months or a year after those kids are married, they will look at each other, ask'”What the Hell were we thinking?” Then find some nice, deep, dark closet shelf to deposit them on never to see the light of day again.

    I also agree on tablescapes. My wife is a big fan of Sandra Lee – who is always closing her show on the Food Network with a tablescape. I still can’t remember which side of the plate the fork goes on.

    I like my Xanax with a Prozac kicker. My doc. keeps wanting me to try a newer generation antidepressant but for me the oldies are the goodies.

    I’ve tried several different types of meditation. I usually wind up spending the entire time meditating on all the things I should be doing instead of meditating. However, I recently tried walking a Labyrinth. To my amazement, I was able to calm down and focus on one thing. I’m thinking about building one (http://www.laughingflowerlabyrinth.com/) in my back yard. You should look in to it, I’m sure you’ve got someplace on the farm to put one.

  16. Desperately Seeking Sky
    Desperately Seeking Sky says:

    I am one of your long-time
    readers, and I do not normally comment on blogs or websites, ever!  However,
    that photo really moved me so much that I felt the need to contribute to the
    conversation.  I have been living in NYC for the past three years, and
    that photo really says it all about why NYC is so stifling.  This city is
    a forest of institutional-looking concrete and steel weeds reaching endlessly
    upwards trying desperately to block out the last remaining emblem of freedom, calm,
    and breathing-room in this city:  the sky.  I hate the fact that you
    can barely see the sky from the street in Manhattan, which happens to be where
    I work, so I am forced to endure this claustrophobia five days a week (thankfully,
    Queens, where I live, is a bit better with respect to sky-view).  The main reason this bothers me so much is
    that I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where the sky takes up more than 60% of
    your field of vision no matter which direction you look.  There is
    something about wide, open, expansive spaciousness that is calming, whether you
    are looking at the sky or even at the ocean (or the Great Lakes, which fool you
    into thinking that you are looking at the ocean).  I love looking out of
    the window in airplanes, because it feels so ethereal, like you are traveling
    through a different dimension.  I also feel like the sky is like a mood
    ring for the world.  It could by clear and crisp, cloudy, hazy, steady
    blue, rainbow-colored at sunset, etc.  No matter how it looks, it is
    always interesting to me and calming.  So the next time I get irritated by
    some tourist who is walking too slow, or the bad smell that seems to emanate
    from nowhere and follow you down the street, or the “what was that?”
    that just dripped on my head, or the intolerable heat in the subway, etc. etc.
    etc.  I will just remember your photo, look upward, and breathe.
     Thanks, Penelope!

    • OccupyClouds
      OccupyClouds says:

      You get an “amen” from the congregation, Desperately Seeking Sky guy.  Lived in NYC for four years and HATED the lack of sky.  I think those tall buildings represent the egos of New York titans (who have control issues, of course) If you block out the sky, you block out a higher power.  And New York is so much about titans believing they are their own highest power.  Everyone in the city, can you look up for a moment?  

      • Desperately Seeking Sky
        Desperately Seeking Sky says:

        That’s a very interesting idea, that tall buildings represent the egos of the New York titans and how they believe that they are their own highest power.  I totally agree.  And, perhaps it is a bit of a Napoleon complex as well.  If they feel small, then they can build a tall building, go to the top floor, and look down their noses at all of the mere mortals on the ground!  So condescending!

        Thanks for your reply!  

  17. Lynnewhiteside
    Lynnewhiteside says:

    It could not be easy in your skin…I feel the same way you do, always in a state of anxiety that shifts from one level to the next.   Breathing Helps Immensely, conscious breathing is the only way, and then, if I don’t want to deal, I take and Atavan, and realize how it feels to be calm at the cellular level. 
    You are doing the best you can, we all are…

  18. Sally
    Sally says:

    I know it’s not nice to laugh at the expense of others, but thank you for those photos, I needed that. And it is such a strain trying to be nice all the time. But it is sad, too. Thinking you are special is not only misguided, it means it is going to take you a lot longer to get through all your crazy baggage to a place of reality.

    The good thing about meditaton (I’ve been at it for decades) is that you can carry it with you wherever you go and it does not take long to have an effect (as opposed to drugs.) I have nothing against meds, sometimes the situation calls for them, but if you understand how it works, meditation can help you observe your mind going through its paces. You can choose whether or not to be sucked into stuff that has nothing to do with presence. 

    The problem for every human being on the planet is addiction to thoughts (mind)–for you “racing and interesting” holds you, for someone else it might be unworthiness, or some other “story.” I’m noticing that you have ambivalent feelings about the racing mind (NYC photo, e.g.) This gets pretty sticky. I’ll stop now. A good laugh takes you out of all of that heavy stuff, too.

    • Justsaying
      Justsaying says:

      Ummmm have you seen engagement photos before this one? I’m assuming not bc your comment is more abysmally stupid then said engagement photos. They are young and in love and yes trendy! Wow it must really suck to be all those things! Get a life

      • Nessa
        Nessa says:

        Nah, I have to say, I’ve looked at a lot and that particular set was bad… the photographer’s other work is better. And my God, who did that girl’s hair?

        • Justsaying
          Justsaying says:

           i’m sorry are you a small business owner that works for yourself? that feeds a family? that needs to make house payments, bills and such on time??? b/c that is part of something that we do as our own bosses, we don’t always get to choose our ‘perfect’ clients. yeah so sometimes we do what it takes to pay the bills. once again, as the photographer stated it was not necessarily her style but sometimes we do what makes the client happiest. as any business owner would.  If a bride were to show up at her shoot on that day with all those props would you have turned your nose up and said, “yeah, that’s not my style, i am not going to photograph you???’ yeah you would have been the shitty one there! let kids be kids. young, trendy and in love. you are not qualified to judge what one person wants and what a photographer shoots. you have no clue as to any of these people and what they want or prefer.  so yeah NAH is what a sheep says. get a life and some real perspective.

          • Nessa
            Nessa says:

            Hmm… insult me all you want, but aesthetics do matter, especially to a photographer–if she wants business, her photos have to be good, even if her clients are flaky and uncreative. I am a small business owner, working for myself, supporting my family, paying bills on time, so don’t assume you know anything about me. 

  19. alwaysshocked
    alwaysshocked says:

    I partly wonder if the post from “L” was written by one of the Farmer’s family members…but I’m not in his family, and I agree with most of the points made, about Pen being a crazy-maker and drama queen and loving special attention.  Most of us want the highest quality relationships and peace at home-a regular life without too much upheaval–especially no ridicule by our nearest and dearest.  I do pity the farmer and wonder how long he can continue with this.  He has lost his good name, his close family, his farm, and all apparently because he got sucked into a “special” woman’s life.  Poor guy.

    • Miles Allen
      Miles Allen says:

      Yep, and what happens when he’s had enough? When she’s been in his face all evening and simply won’t shut up? when he literally can’t get away? folks, this is how homicide happens, with the rising emotional abuse, and , finally, he won’t put up with any more. His family HAS to protect themselves from the crazy woman, and she has certainly shown that she can fuck them all over at will. Kinda scary, ain’t it? Fact is, living out in the cold north is dangerous, and making yourself such a open threat ain’t smart, no matter how many folks you “network” with.

  20. Lestamore
    Lestamore says:

    Ok, I disagree about the engagement photos, I think they are charming and revealing and beautiful, if maybe a little stiff.  I think you are incorrect in saying that they are out of the ordinary because the couple wants to have an exciting life.  I think rather, that these pictures capture where these kids are right now.  this IS their life, and they are holding onto it in whatever way, because life always changes, but they will always have these moments to remember who they were and how they felt one time in their lives.  

    Similarly I am in total disagreement about there being a problem of fakery.  It is true that nobody is really special, and life is a series of practical issues, but you are not anything besides your life.  If you want to change yourself, you change your life, you fake it until you make it.  Its hard to make developing identity look easy, because it’s not, but the idea that people should settle for who they always have been, or who others believe they should be, or what seems the most likely to work out in the end, is to give up, often on the things that  make life good, the moments that get remembered, the tricks that work, and the little things that keep you in love with yourself.  The choices we make in life are creative ones.  To deny that because it is impractical or looks silly is like giving up on a hobby you love because it doesn’t pay the bills.  I mean, sure, pay the bills, but in your spare time, be whoever you want. It isn’t fake, it is the only thing that is real.  

    Finally, what everybody else does only works sometimes.  200 years ago, what everyone else did meant oppression. especially for people like you.  What everyone else does is a starting point, not the end of the line, and if you fail sometimes, and are miserable sometimes, congratulatons, you are human. But if you don’t even try and do something of your own, why do you bother?  I guess by the end of your article, you get to this spot.  Be you for you, and have tools to handle the rest of the world.  

    • Lestamore
      Lestamore says:

      When I say the pictures represent where these people are at now, I mean inside their heads, although I think it is unobservant to discount the idea that this kind of imagery really is their lifestyle.  Lots of young people live 24/7 in the world of their choosing, whether that be 50’s retro, lolita, punk, or whatever.  It may be a phase, but it is also practical reality for many.  It reminds me of tumblr, where people’s personalities can come out in vivid detail through what random pictures and scraps they post, with no actual commentary or voice, just the memeplex they create with their posting choices.

  21. Gayle Smith
    Gayle Smith says:

    Life is play TOO!
    Yes some couples will take those “staged” engagement pictures because well, they are just following whatever the la-de-da of the moment is. So what? Their lives. Others are taking them because well, yeah, it’s theatrical…but so what…it’s fun. And what better way to release both their inner child and inner actor…far better than inflicting the ill effects from suppressing  both those aspects on society as a whole.

    I guess I’m feeling a bit crotchety myself (not so hot weekend)…And this is as much for myself as unsuspecting couples going into the crazy yin-yang life of marriage,,,but Hell to the Yea Dream and Hope dammit. I’d tell them that A, and B, easy family life and easy marriage are possible…and NO,  NOT of the time…but geez…life won’t be HELL all the time either.. The very great news is you [get to] learn from both.

    I’s also add that it is a very good thing that you get to write stuff like this in your blog and if not get paid for it directly, build a bit of social capital…and perhaps in an indirect way find the next investors for your latest ventures. We should all be so lucky…And yea, this may sound a bit boring but girl, damn count your blessings.

  22. nobody
    nobody says:

    Thanks for linking to those engagement photos, mean-spiritedness be damned. They are truly horrible. The least cringeworthy ones (and there are a few) are those where the couple is out of focus, or at a safe distance from the camera, where the fake staginess and unnatural persona they’re putting on is less prominent.

    • Jim
      Jim says:

      wow! nobody! way to own up to your own self! i think that too many of you are being too critical on what a couple wants. that couple is very happy and pleased. i know them. and well, you are just a dick head! congrats asshole!

  23. emily
    emily says:

    other people don’t want you to calm down, they want you to be in control.  you don’t meditate to stop the ideas from flowing, you mediate so you can learn to separate yourself from your thoughts.  once you do you can choose which thoughts you want to act on and why. 

  24. Terri
    Terri says:

    I thought i had you figured out but maybe not. You have  outlandish ideas that aren’t necessarily popular and you aren’t afraid to post them. Controversial, yes, but I have to admire your candid approach. But why do you care what some couple does with their money? If it’s fun for them to look at self-indulging engagement pictures…what the heck, it’s their life…

  25. Elle
    Elle says:

    I actually like the pictures.  They are artistic, pretty and fun.  Isn’t engagement all about pretending you will have that life?  However-I don’t care how cute a sailor he is; I wouldn’t be Mrs ‘Dingman’ for all the money in the world.  That is an unfortunate name.

  26. matt
    matt says:

    I remember hearing an anecdote about some Buddhist monk who said that meditation takes a lot of practice, but if you drink a couple of martini’s before you meditate you can skip about six months worth of practice.

  27. alwaysshocked
    alwaysshocked says:

    There are so many wise voices among the commenters on Penelope’s blog.  With a wise kind word I see the depth of understanding about situations that from my own limited perspective just says —end this painful relationship-now. 

    From experience I understand high strung wounded personalities, Lord knows.  But self preservation always just makes me want to get away from them-or at least out of striking distance.  Yet I am fascinated, because I need to know how this can be fixed/if it can be fixed. 

    I have a problem thinking the relationship between Pen and the Farmer can work.  I feel absolutely certain that if this blog still exists in 2 years (I’ll still be reading it) this marriage will be history and Pen will be agonizing about some other relationship.  I want to see Pen win on her terms but I can’t stand to think of what happens to those around her.   Penelope Trunk has a powerful voice.  Sometimes when a child is broken the whole world is going to suffer.

    • Diana
      Diana says:

      I like your response. But I think I want o be more hopeful for the relationship. I very much hope that the couples counselor knows what s/he is doing, not just yanking their chain. my spouse and I have been through 3 and after the last one, I was so humiliated and enraged I dont think I could go through it again. Not yet sure if we’re going to last, but with Pen, there’s so much at stake: kids, for starters.

  28. Diana
    Diana says:

    Oh, Pen. I hear you.

    “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – €“ Henry Havelock Ellis

    There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in…Leonard Cohen

    Keep being you…d.

  29. Paul Hassing
    Paul Hassing says:

    Hiya, P. I can’t abide fakery either. Or clutter. Fake clutter makes me want to set fire to it! http://myob.com.au/blog/magic-fauxments/

    I can’t meditate either. I have a book called Meditation is Easy. It’s the size of a playing card, but I haven’t made it past page 20. I want to set fire to that too. And mix the ashes with my blood and scratch out a manuscript called Meditation is #*&%ing Impossible! and mail it to the publisher. But that’s just me … :)

  30. Erin McJ
    Erin McJ says:

    Your assertion that nobody has an easy home life is probably wrong.  I wouldn’t say mine is a perfect 10 — my partner and I do fight sometimes — but it’s pretty damn close (and lamps and shoving are never involved).  It makes me sad to think that people believe marital suffering is inevitable.  That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever I heard one.

    • hotsauce
      hotsauce says:

      It’s my first time (and the last) at this blog. Half-way through the post it’s clear the blogger has serious problems of her own. Perhaps it’s therapeutic for her to rant, but she might better spend the time listening, or seeking professional help.

      I’m like you, Erin – very occasional fights, but mostly bliss. All our friends are like that, too. And our engagement photos were fun! :)

      • Ginger
        Ginger says:

        I agree.  The kicker is that now and then, and the nows are just often enough to be rewarding, she comes up with thoughts or ideas that have some value.

        Bloggers need hits to stay afloat.  You don’t acquire blog traffic by being nice, you generate it by being crazy.

  31. my honest answer
    my honest answer says:

    I find it funny when people who reel from one disaster to the next call a settled life ‘boring’. You know what’s boring? Doing the same old sh*t over and over again. Running from one crisis to another, from one man to another, one abuser to another.

    It’s a different kind of boring, but it’s just as predictable.

  32. Rick H.
    Rick H. says:

    Is Xanax good for sleep? I sleep from 11 pm to 2 or 3 am,..my mind races and I need something to get me to doze off for another few hours. Ambien is too strong. Just curious.

  33. Rick H.
    Rick H. says:

    Is Xanax good for sleep? I sleep from 11 pm to 2 or 3 am,..my mind races and I need something to get me to doze off for another few hours. Ambien is too strong. Just curious.

  34. Jerryangelosucks
    Jerryangelosucks says:

    Aight, here goes. I’ve only been on this site for a “minute” as they would say in say Harlem but I have read quite a bit. A) You seem to have fallen into the world of Facebookers (this is original, never heard it b4 so go ahead and give me credit for it, thanxs) that is Facebookers have created a new disorder and that being they “live” for Facebook. Not living for Facebook like addicted to posting but actually living and doing things just so they can post on Facebook. Meaning if Facebook didn’t exist, many of their activities would have not taken place since they would have lived for the moment or lived life “normally”.
     
    This seems to be you. You do things not because you would normally do them but you do them “synthetically” for the purpose of your blog. That really doesn’t make much sense btw. I mean, I would bet the lamp smash against your head thingy would have never happened had this blog not existed but see that’s just plain odd. Now you could argue that it’s positive because “Ive got millions of people ok ok thousands, waiting for my next blog and I need something”. But then again, its the same as the alcoholic making excuses as to why he/she continue to drink, it’s just not healthy nor a valid excuse.

  35. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    I haven’t finished reading this post yet but just had to say this: when you hire a photographer to take engagement and wedding photos, those photos belong to the photographer. The couple gets to buy the images and signs a contract saying that the photographer can use the images anyway they like. So, it’s not like this couple saw the photos and then said, sure put them up on your blog. That’s not how it works. The photographer puts them up on their blog and doesn’t ask the couple which ones they like. For all we know, the couple hates the pictures.

    And my dog is totally housetrained all day long and my marriage is easy, even though, yes, my life isn’t always. In fact, life is hard because it’s important that my marriage be easy.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Re: use of photos: That’s common, but not universal. But it is why everyone should read any agreements they sign, so that you know what everyone’s options are.

  36. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    I like the photos.  They’re corny and staged but they make the couple look good.  In 60 years their Grands will look at them and have some sense of what Grandma and Grandpa saw in each other that resulted in their being alive today.

  37. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    Almost everything to do with weddings involves fakery, not just engagement photos. For starters, the majority of couples fake that they are richer than they are, and have weddings that they patently can’t afford. There’s actually a growing backlash about this. For example, my whole blog is basically about wedding fakery and trying to redefine weddings to something authentic: http://www.frugallywed.wordpress.com

  38. gus
    gus says:

    My biggest question  all these years

    : is farmer an ASPIE or not????And if not ,then what is his diagnosis ?

    please someone answer

  39. Heather
    Heather says:

    Good luck!  I think more than half the battle is just trying to figure out what you want and going for it.  You are moving in a forward direction, and so many people don’t move forward.

  40. Heather
    Heather says:

    Good luck!  I think more than half the battle is just trying to figure out what you want and going for it.  You are moving in a forward direction, and so many people don’t move forward.

  41. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    I was honestly expecting pics of the engagement ceremony. Its so bizarre to the American/Brit readers so you can imagine how dumb it looks to a South Asian like me. If nothing else this is proof that in a recession you can still make money, because there are always be people who will find an excuse to do spend money.

  42. Boston Emily
    Boston Emily says:

    In the off chance that you change your mind and turn back to the wonderful world of drugs, try Wellbutrin.  It’s one of the few anti-depressants/anti-anxiety that is a stimulant. Also it kills your appetite. 

  43. Trendsareawesome
    Trendsareawesome says:

    I think you are WAY overanalyzing these photos. They’re trendy. It’s VERY trendy to do “styled” engagement shoots. Will it be the trend in 5 years? Likely not, at all. Did you perm your hair in the 80’s and tease your bangs 6″ tall? Did you wear bellbottoms? Yep, than you too have participated in a trend before. Do people laugh at it now, heck yeah. Was it fun then, heck yeah it was.

  44. nonya
    nonya says:

    So I’m wondering….did you ask permission to post that photographers material?  You sound bitter and sad and alone.

    • nobody
      nobody says:

      Why would she need permission to post a link to a publicly available photo set? I’m not sure why so many people are obsessing about this.

  45. Susan
    Susan says:

    Love so many things about this piece, mainly the creative use of calming devices. I’m a meditation teacher who has panic attacks. I get so mad when people tell me I should just be able to “breathe through it.” They’ve never had panic attacks, I guess. The only time I can practice WHILE having a panic attack is if I’ve taken something like Xanax, in which case everything slows down enough so I can actually observe my mind in the process of freaking out which is oddly and deeply valuable. Surreal engagement photos notwithstanding.

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