Phil has had some of his incredible border project images picked up by Yahoo News. Click on the Immigration Debate and you will hear his talking about life on the Arizona-Mexico border (he is the third photographer in the slide show). Yeay!
In a couple of hours I head to the airport for my flight to Hartford. My parents recently moved back to Western Massachusetts from suburban Philly, and for the first time in a decade I'm going home for the holidays. Which is not to say that I haven't seen my family or spent Christmas with them for that long, I just always went to Boston where the rest of my family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) live or converge. In the intervening ten years my parents sold the house where I spent most of my youth, moved to a condo in the same town, sold that, moved to a house in southern New Jersey, sold that and moved back to Western Mass., though not the same town where I went to high school (thank God for small mercies). I never saw the condo (except in pictures). And poking through pictures this morning, looking for something that said Pioneer Valley to me, I realized I had no such things... I recently found a roll of film of pictures I shot in high school... but they're pictures of high school, and could have been made anywhere, in any high school, in any town, sometime in the mid-eighties. I think they were shot my freshman year, and they are testimony to how dorky I was (but with an angry, punk rock sort of dorkiness... they kind that said, yeah, I play the violin...what are you staring at, assclown?). They are nearly all pictures of people I was in the orchestra and choir with, and a few scattered pictures of random people about whom I recall certain details, but often not their name. (The Brazilian girl whose family was, I think, Jehovah's Witnesses, who didn't celebrate Christmas, and who wouldn't do surgery when someone in her family was gravely ill... her father? her brother?... she didn't know what to do when I gave her a Christmas present, and I hadn't realized that I wasn't supposed to give her one. I have totally forgotten her name.In an appropriate bookending story, there's also a picture of Laura, whose mother once told us the story of how she scared off Jehovah's who came calling by answering the door in the buff and inviting them in to pray before some Buddha or Vishnu or Shiva statue.)
In any case, the pictures said "high school," but not "Western Mass.," so I ended up going with a picture I made in Maine when I was up there over the summer for a training thing for work. I mean.... New England? Good enough? Probably not really.... which is one of the reasons why I'm bringing a couple of cameras, though I suspect that I will, like I usually do when in my home state, become incapable of seeing anything worth making a picture of. It always makes me think of the people who look at you askance as you make an image of something they think of as ugly or bland or normal or pointless.... what are you taking a picture of that for? I think I glaze over when I'm home and everything seems like something not worth shooting. At the very least I figure I'll take a lot of pictures of my family. I recently found the negs from some family group portraits I did years and years ago... probably twelve... maybe even more like fourteen... years ago. I haven't had a chance to scan them yet, but they were sort of fascinating documents...
I'd also be thinking about how this week has seemed like the end of an era, what with the Godfather of Soul and Gerald Ford dying, and El Jefe seemingly on his last cigar. Though I suppose it's really more confirmation that the era has ended, rather than necessarily closing it. When I was teaching in my last semesters at grad school I had an epiphany one day that I was actually getting old because a) while I would have been very young, I was physically old enough to have given birth to my students-- college students; b) every face looked at me in complete, blank ignorance when mentioned the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon as an example of a pivotal moment in history (apparently 9/11 is the only pivotal moment now in existence); c) not a single one of them knew, even vaguely, who Ollie North was, though one said he'd "heard of" the Iran-Contra Scandal. I figure when college students view a decade as ancient history, it's time has probably come and gone. Of course, they didn't recognize things that happened in their own lifetimes, so perhaps that is an inappropriate bar.
In any case, Pioneer Valley, hooooooo! See y'all in the New Year!
I get why people get depressed at the holidays... Lucky for me, I don't. Lucky for me because for years and years I've had weird, random, unmarked or poorly marked, or shrug kind of holidays-- Thanksgivings or Christmases or New Yearses in Danang or Nanjing or Phnom Penh or Ithaca. (Okay, that last one was depressing). Worst New Years ever is a tie between being trapped in Athens (1995) and the last one I spent in New York (2003). Though they may be the worst simply because I remember them. The only other ones I can remember with specificity is 2005, when I went to a party up the block in DC with my friend Lea, and the millenium, which I spent in Edmonton, Alberta, which rocked. (Though it was seriously mofo cold and I was almost positive the night would end with us at the police station to retrieve my friend's brother. Happily, we managed to drag him into the car before he did too much damage). I recall Thanksgivings more often than Christmases... I think because I often cook for Thanksgiving (though not this year), so I remember the cooking and the hosting.
So it is Christmas eve day, and I am going to be spending today and tomorrow alone. My plan is to do some distinctly unfun things (high on list: cleaning my apartment, including vacuuming and mopping the floors, my least favorite chores; doing laundry because I'm out of clean smalls; writing that paper for that damn conference next month why the hell did I sign on for that jesus that was dumb), but which will bring me yuletide joy because the apartment of unfind-able things has been giving me major anxiety as of late. I got to see my beloved last week (though I certainly wouldn't complain if I got to see him again this week, though the 2300 miles away thing makes it tough to just do dinner. Of course, I figure the whole engagement thing probably means that I'll get to see him for the rest of the Christmases, so that's something ;-P). And I will get to see my family later in the week, which is good since my niece has rapidly gone on growing without me there to watch and has morphed from a gurgly infant who was just starting to focus on people's faces to a walking talking little human bean. I missed crawling entirely. *sigh* I'll also get to see my friend the fabulous Miss A, whom I have not been able to see since she moved to Boston to be with her beloved the same week that my parents moved back to Massachusetts (they had been living twelve miles from each other in greater Philly).
In the meantime, I hadn't made any plans for New Years as it was sounding like everyone I know and love is going to be elsewhere. Meanwhile, I'll be flying back from New England that afternoon, just in time to go home and... go home, I figured. But I found out last night that there will be a burlesque/vaudeville show at the Warehouse on New Years, so on to a night of pasties and bad jokes! And in the meantime, may all of y'all get whatcha wanted under your trees and whatnot, or at least get a little box of happiness. :)
Surely, I'm not the only one who thinks that some news writer peon was being cheeky when they wrote that Miss Nevada was, ahem, "stripped" of her title for... well... stripping? At least down to her thong, in any case. As an aside, doesn't it seem a little odd that Miss Nevada is being stripped (chortle) of her title for partying it up while Miss America gets to hold on to her crown for similar infractions? I mean, these ladies are meant to be representing their states, no? Miss Nevada, people. Shouldn't we be expecting her to walk around sporting ace of spades pasties? Running a bordello? Be pictured flashing her roulette wheel? Getting kissy face with a couple of girls and flashing her thong seems... I dunno... tame? Like she'd decided, in the interest of decorum, to tone the home town style down a bit.
On December 17, 2005 I was in Orlando at the wedding of friends of mine. It was an all day event—a Cambodian wedding in the morning, a church wedding in the afternoon, a western style reception that night. I brought along my cameras and shot pictures as my gift to them, and spent much of the wedding trying to get good images of their numerous, intricately decorated outfits.
At the end of the night, close to midnight, Kanika got up to throw the bouquet. I stood in the middle of a gaggle of young women with my camera. She turned her back on the group, I shot a picture, she threw, the bouquet came flying at me, and the flowers landed in my hand as I blocked. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever “caught” the bouquet. It seemed like an improbable prediction at that moment. (Tradition says that the bride throws her bouquet to the assembled group of all unmarried women in attendance, and the person who catches it is supposed to be the next to wed, or that she will be engaged within the next year).
A few weeks later I met Phil. One year later, December 18,
2006, I made this picture. Maybe there’s something to that bouquet thing after
Last weekend I didn't have much of a weekend since I worked on Saturday. Which meant that on Sunday I was ready either to sleep the entire day away (soooo tempting... though I did come home from work on Saturday and have a two hour nap, so perhaps I'd gotten it out of my system), or do something useless and fun. I opted for plan B-- useless and fun-- and headed up to Bawlmer with a few friends for the Mayor's Christmas Parade. It was amusing-- there were many Shriners steering many different kinds of vehicles, from wheelie-popping ATVs to magic carpet go karts. There was a scary puppet thingy with a karaoke "band" singing Christmas carols (Dr. T's reaction: I'm so glad I'm Jewish). There were roller girls and hons and Hampden folks galore. And there were multiple South American dancing groups literally covered with bells. At least two had banners saying they were Bolivian. Who knew there was such a significant Bolivian presence in Baltimore?
Anyhoo, the next most exciting thing that happened this week was that I finally got a bookshelf in my office, which means I can actually find things now. At least for the moment. I doubt this state of affairs will last, but it's good to feel mildly organized, even briefly.
The happiness of seeing the bus pull up this morning (it's COLD here today, so I was all about some heated public transportation) was deeply mitigated by the presence of a LOUD crazy person with SOMETHING TO SAY. I guess some days I have more patience for this than others. This morning I really wanted to read the Pinney essay I've been picking at all week. But it was absolutely impossible to do so-- I read two paragraphs over and over and over and got nothing from them-- for the distraction of this guy. He had no teeth and as a result had something of a lisp and was hard to understand. He was ostensibly lecturing the bus driver about the horrors of modern life and how the young peoples don't know nothin' about the old peoples and their sacrifices. It wouldn't be the first time I'd heard such a lecture, but there was some serious slippage in his reasoning.
Crazy Guy: These young peoples, they get taught, TAUGHT, in the schools, the schools are teachin' them not to respect their elders. That's how it is now. Used to be that young peoples were respectin' someone who was seventy-eighty years old, now they are learnin' in the schools to be disrespectful of they elders.
Bus Driver: I'm not sure about that. I don't think that's exactly what they are teaching.
Crazy Guy: Yes, it is, it's what they are teaching, it's what they are teaching. These kids they don't know about what we did and they don't realize that it doesn't matter if you have a million dollars, you are still sitting in the back of the bus, because them white people are sitting at the front of the bus the front of the bus is for the white people and the back of the bus is for the black people even the rich black people. (He was sitting in the front most seat of the bus). They should know that black people are more American than George Bush, George Bush ain't no American because black people they pay when they ride on the ae-ro-plane. They pay and George Bush don't pay, and he cain't be as American as black people who pay to ride of the ae-ro-planes because those tickets are expensive they are a million dollars a ticket to ride a ae-ro-plane to another... another.. another nation, another nation. You know it costs a million dollars?
Bus Driver: It doesn't cost a million dollars to ride on the plane-
Crazy Guy: A million dollars. A million dollars to fly to another nation. And black people they just consumers and they do it to theyselves. That's what I hate about black people (he was black), they don't make nuthin', they consumers. The cell phone! That invented by a white guy. The television! That invented by a white guy. The fax machine! That invented by a white guy. You see all that? All invented by the white peoples. Black peoples be buying it all, they cain't pay rent, they cain't pay gas bill, they cain't pay electric bill, but they don't invent nuthin' they just buying the white peoples inventions. But ain't nobody paying those bills, those bills are expensive-- gas bill eight thousand dollars! electric bill twelve thousand dollars! phone bill four thousand dollars!
When I got off the bus I passed by a car with a bumper sticker that amused me momentarily. It said:
A day without sun is, like, night
The bus, the bus. There are two main routes that I ride here, and they serve very different constituencies. The one I take more often runs buses that end up in Anacostia, for the most part. This is the mental health express. I used to take a different line that runs between my hood and the downtown business district. It usually has professionals and service workers shuttling between work and home. When I tell stories of people yelling at themselves to people more familiar with the one that goes downtown they often note that they've never seen anything like that on the other bus line. (Though occasionally it does happen, however, when it does it's usually outside of business hours.)*
Last night the bus-- the one that runs downtown-- pulled up just as I was leaving the gym, so I hopped on for the short ride back to my hood, and was reminded of just how distant the worlds of the two routes were. After last week's ride to insanity, the conversation I heard last night was almost hard to process. Two guys, one standing, one sitting, talking about work. One appeared to work in the Senate (not as, you know, a Senator or whatever... an an aide or something).
Guy 1: So does this mean you're going to be busy next year?
Guy 2: In 2007? Nah... the big push will be in 2008. Of course, everything depends on what happens over the next six months or so, who throws down, how the votes go or whatever.
Of course, it also depends on whether or not a certain senior senator keeps--
Guy 1 and 2 in unison: walking around the Senate floor in his pajamas.
Guy 1: Yeah.
Guy 2: I think certain elements are gunning for him. But the guy does walk around in his pajamas.
Guy 1: Yeah, but I think there isn't enough respect for his, you know, his seniority. I mean, there should just be respect for someone who is that age.
Guy 2: Well, maybe, but he's really that sick he really should step down.
Guy 1: Yeah, I heard he's pretty sick now. Who would you want to take the seat?
Guy 2: (Mentions the name of the governor of the state he'd already mentioned he was from). Ideally, he'd come in-- it would be like a coronation! Who'd run against him? No one. He'd come in, and then be poised for a VP position, depending on who runs, or maybe even Secretary of State.
We pulled up to my stop and I jumped off. I wonder what kind of jammies the guy wears.
*This reminds me that I need to get back to transferring my old blog over... gawd it's such a tedious task.
It's damn cold this morning. Particularly in my apartment. Which felt as though there were no difference between inside and outside. I woke up, shivering, at three in the morning (one of half a dozen times I woke up... the insomnia is starting to really get to me) and dug out that extra comforter-- the signal that winter is really here, even if it was 75 degrees last week. I had a hard time convincing myself to come out from under the comforter, and had to bundle up to wander around the apartment. I was cursing the lack of heat-- had the landlady forgotten to turn it on?-- as I made my coffee. It's never super warm in here (no radiators, just the warm pipes in the ceiling and a space heater when I turn it on, which I hadn't), but this morning it's just damn cold. Like the bitter and biting wind was whipping right through.
That's when I noticed the the front door was cracked open. I guess I'd forgotten to lock it, and the nasty wind blew it open. I would imagine around three in the morning. No wonder it's so damn cold in here.
Andy Field: Discovering Statistics Using SPSS (Introducing Statistical Method)
Surprisingly funny and accessible. It's major downfall? Still about statistics.
George R.R. Martin: A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One
Blah blah blah, what everyone else is saying.