A Self-Portrait

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It’s been quite a while since I posted daily. I don’t have any immediate plans to get back to that, despite the continuing tag line of “A Daily Journal of a Permanent Resident of Paradise”. However, I found myself at loose ends for an hour or so this afternoon before I go over to the Country Club (where I am not a member, but I sneak in) for some much needed exercise. Yes, MadDog is going running this afternoon. The sky is falling.

This will be a short one. It’s been a long time since I did a self-portrait. It’s good practice for a photographer to work with a subject which he sees every day. I like to do one every few years, just to remember how to do it right and to record what has happened to my mug. Well, it’s shocking!

How did I get so old? I still entertained wild notions of some lingering attractiveness. Sadly, there is no evidence of that. I had no intention of looking so glum. I was going for pensive. I ended up with “prisoner of war”:

I’m not feeling nearly as bad as I look. The last few days may have marked a minor turn-around for me.

I’m optimistic, but it’s still to early to tell.

Now, if I could only get some sleep.

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26 Responses to “A Self-Portrait”

  1. Ray Selby Says:

    Hi Jan, I think you look fine, good head of hair, no hearing aid, good eyesight (no specs), and a sort of mix of Donald Sutherland/Steve Mcqueen and a touch of Charles Bronson….. Hang in there buddy.

  2. MadDog Says:

    Hey, Ray, that’s pretty good company. I cheat on the eyeglasses. I’m virtually blind without them but try not to have my picture taken with them. I’m in the same league with Adolph Hitler on that one.

  3. Rick Loftus, M.D. Says:

    Jan, I think you DO look pensive. But given how hard a time you’ve had sleeping, I think you’d be allowed to look a bit tired. I think you nailed it though.
    I’m glad a hint of optimism might be whispering about you…

  4. MadDog Says:

    Rick, tired is a good word to describe that look. It certainly fits the image and my state of mind. It’s hard for me to believe that medical science has not produced an effective sleep aid. There seem to be so many, but as near as I can tell, each has a significant shortfall or down-side. I cut back to no more than two or three Temazepam tabs a week and that seems to be a sustainable level. If I’m careful when I take them, usually when I wake up between 02:00 and 03:30 and can’t go back to sleep, I can get another two hours or a little more. I seem to be able to function on four or five hours a night. Maybe asking for more is unreasonable.

    Most of what I have read indicates that the need for sleep as one ages does not really change, as I had previously thought. Older folk simply have more fragmented sleep and less per night. This leads to bad sleep habits. One is napping during the day. I’ve never liked that, so it’s not a problem. However the “being in bed when not sleeping” is a big problem. My only TV is in the bedroom, pointed right at the bed, my computer is in there and I usually eat dinner lying back in bed. I probably need to change this. I’m spending far too much time lounging in the place where I’m supposed to sleep.

    Am I going to fix that? Probably not. But I am optimistic!

    And that’s the long reply.

  5. UncaDoug Says:

    For what it’s worth, Jan, it is a few minutes past midnight here in California, and I just woke after four hours … hit the hay abnormally early … perhaps that was my first mistake. I am consistently getting about five hours … will get a couple more before sunrise, but it’s a struggle for me too at 63.

    Our mutual friend fast approaching 43 is in the same league currently because of the go-go-go of her speaking tour. I so admire her stamina. Her “just keep going, just keep rowing” sound bite sticks in my head. At this moment, Roz is en route to Istanbul for a few days then she can soon “collapse” in Leeds, however “collapse” might be defined. They say there is no rest for the weary.

    All best to you, Jan. Just keep going, just keep rowing. You are looking good.

  6. L. Witham Says:

    1. You look like that famous author with the short white beard – ol’ what’s his name! 2) It’s not you but what you’d look like with short hair! 3) I’m glad you’re exercising – I still say that will help you sleep. 4) Have you tried Benedryl? Marsha and I vote for that. 🙂

  7. Tracey Lee Says:

    You remind me of Ernest Hemingway… “Old man and the sea” style …
    I like these quotes of his:

    I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

    The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

    It is a beautiful photo Jan and fitting that it is in B&W

  8. Laura Says:

    Hello, Cousin…………
    I love the photo. Do you look tired? Perhaps. Older? Well, that DOES happen! Pensive? Yes. However, when I first looked at the pic I noticed a bit of a glint around the eyes, and a touch of upturning around the mouth………so I got the positive vibes from the photo. And perhaps a bit of a reminder of my dad, too.

    I hope you are able to repair your sleep habits somehwat: I love the idea of natural aids such as melatonin–as your FB friend recommended. AND moving out of your bed durning non-sleep times as you suggested!

    As far as the lack of glasses is concerned, well, MY bifocals are “no-line”, and my contacts are multifocal! “Only her optometrist knows.” Well, maybe not…………

  9. kristy Says:

    Lovely photo, interesting juxtaposition with it by your id photo on your blog.
    ANy good books on your bedside table? Perhaps reading when you wake up in the night might work better than TV, computer, or random thoughts? Reading usually works for me when fighting jet lag…
    continued prayers!

  10. Walt Says:

    That’s quite a classic-looking B&W portrait. You better hang on to it in case you ever need it for a book jacket!

  11. KP Says:

    Very nice photograph, Jan. The tonality, lighting, contrast and choice of B&W, are all quite striking. I find it both an evocative and emotive portrait – kind of like a passport photo for this current stage of your life journey.

    Like your hair too. (I cut mine short as well – difference is here, it’s starting to get COLD. Doh!) 🙂

  12. MadDog Says:

    Doug, I fully empathise with your sleep problems, believe me! Falling asleep at 20:00 is a tragic error. If I let that happen, like you, I will be awake at midnight and the rest of the night is shot – forget sleep. Five hours seems to be about all that I can hope for these days. If there were any effective sleep aids, I’d take the pills or whatever, but I’ve tried several highly recommended concoctions and none worked for very long. Some had very nasty side effects. Why can’t modern medical science solve such a seemingly simple problem? It seems like a gold mine to me.

    She has been an inspiration to me in several ways, Doug. I have to say that really miss having her around. That “just keep going, just keep rowing” idea is coming in very handy for me in my current state. Frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine her relaxing, though she did fake it rather well for some of the time when she was in Madang.

    Cheers to you, Doug, and I hope you can get some sleep.

  13. MadDog Says:

    Lori, might you be referring to Hemingway? That’s pretty lofty company. Maybe you are referring to this one:

    My hair is about as short as it’s ever going to get, I think. I got a terrible haircut last time. It looks as it it were cut with pruning shears.

    I am going to get more exercise, I hope. Maybe the exercise fairies will visit me at night, eh? I’m going for yoga on Friday afternoon beside the pool at the Madang Lodge. I’m going to wow the ladies with my incredible flexibility. I’m pretzel man!

    I have to be careful with antihistamines, because some of them give me the shakes and funky heart rhythms. Marsha left me a couple of capsules. I may try one tonight.

  14. MadDog Says:

    Tracy, sweetheart, nice to hear from you. Have a look at my reply to Lori’s comment. I refer to a picture of Hemingway which is very similar to my self-portrait.

    Mine is a pretty good picture; I’m quite happy with how it came out. The lighting turned out to be just right which was a surprise, since I was just sitting at my desk shooting by the grey-day light coming in through the window. Monochrome was the only choice. It was too horrible for words in colour.

    I like the quote about being strong in the broken places. I have so many busted bits that I should be like Superman when I heal up.

    Stay cool, baby.

  15. MadDog Says:

    Hey, cuz. Tired, pensive, sad – yes. Dead – no, not yet. The little “Mona Lisa” hint of a smile was possibly a facial tik. No, seriously, I was amused by my own egomania. It doesn’t surprise me that it made you think of your father. I’ve seen several remarks that it looks remarkably like my own father, which is also not surprising.

    Getting away from the bed when I’m not sleeping is going to be a problem, given the way things are presently arranged. I think that I may get a small LCD TV to put in the living room. I’m trying to limit my time staring at the TV, but right now it’s like a security blanket and a distraction. However, I need to have one outside the bedroom so that I don’t end up eating in bed and just laying there because it is the only place to watch the boob tube. The problem with the living room is that it is HOT! The bedroom is air conditioned.

  16. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, maybe I should change my profile pic. It’s very misleading. Still, I wouldn’t want to scare off any potential romance. I still have a lot to give, if I can find a taker. Hee-hee!

    Reading is one of my little tricks for falling back to sleep. It’s better than a Temazepam. The only problem is that I can’t see the book without my glasses, so I either have to fall asleep with them on and wake up an hour later in pain or I have to take them off, which wakes me up and then I have to start all over. Bummer! A guy can’t get a break.

  17. MadDog Says:

    Walt, it would make a cool dust jacket shot, eh? People would say it’s a Hemingway rip-off, though. Oh, if someone would only offer me a book deal. I could write a hum-dinger. My worries would be over.

    Maybe in the next life . . .

  18. MadDog Says:

    Hi, KP. Yeah, I’m very pleased that it turned out so well, considering how little effort it took. I like your “passport” idea. Maybe I have a passport to a happier future. That’s what I look like as I start out. I’m gonna hang onto that.

    My last haircut was an abomination. I don’t know what the lady was thinking. She usually gets it pretty smooth. She’s the only game in town, so I’m stuck with her. At least I only get about three or four a year, so I don’t have to suffer much.

  19. KP Says:

    Hey again,

    I’m sure that’s not the “look” you were after, but for the photo, I think the haircut adds “texture” and matches the mood.

    I hate getting a bad haircut, which I’ve had twice now since I’ve been back; but thankfully yesterday’s was a huge improvement over the first one and I could “fix” the rest at home myself.

    Hang in there and here’s to happier trails along the way.



  20. MadDog Says:

    KP, I didn’t plan to look so old. It’s a bit of a shock to the system.

    I got used to cutting it short when Carol Dover used to cut my hair. The only good thing about a bad haircut is that it doesn’t last forever.

    I’m hanging in mostly because there seems to be no alternative. I just have to be patient and see what happens.

  21. Ahna Says:

    Love the hair cut. But boy oh boy my heart stopped when I saw your portrait. You look like grandpa. I don’t mean that in a bad way but you look so much like him and then some days you look so much like grandma. Well, you better your their son. ha ha. Anyway, your brave, I would never do a portrait of me YUCK! Do you look tired, yes! But that will get better in time. I agree with what Tracy Lee said about Hemingway.

  22. MadDog Says:

    Well, I think the haircut was a terrible one – too chopped up! However, several people have told me it is good. Go figure. I was struck by how much I look like dad. It was also interesting that I got an image that is so much like the one of Hemingway. I wasn’t going for that.

  23. Hans Says:

    I think it could be the best photograph you have ever taken. I was stunned for a moment when I saw it. It’s beautiful.

    You do look like a bit like an Okie refugee from the Dust Bowl, though. Maybe you and some friends should stage a production of a stage version of “The Grapes of Wrath”? 🙂

  24. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Son. Other that the obvious fact that it makes me look my real age, I like it also. It is certainly as honest as I can get. I do confess to Photoshoping a few minor items. I had to correct a bit for lens distortion, as the shot was taken only about a half-metre from my face. That made my chin stick out and my nose even bigger than it is.

    I wish that we still had the Madang Amateur Theatrical Society. I miss those days. I think that we both appeared in stage productions of Oklahoma in a period of only a year or two, eh? Maybe it was longer.

  25. Steve Bennett Says:

    This is a great portrait MadDog! There is a POW feel to this shot, if only a POW could look so strong? Lee Marvin’s image came to my mind…

    By the way, my last haircut was a disaster, to the extent that no scissor has graced itself in my presence for some time now.

  26. MadDog Says:

    Steve, at last, someone agrees with my POW remark. I wish I felt as strong as you suggest. I’m getting some of it back. It’s slow going. I like the Lee Marvin reference – that’s pretty good company for an old dude.

    Fortunately, nobody in Madang cares if you get a bad haircut.