Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fracture


                We moved away from Fort Thomas when I was a toddler. All of my memories stem from visits home; what fun times they were. We’d gather for potlucks or cookouts, the entire family squeezed into someone’s apartment or spread out under the shelter at a local park. The aunts and uncles would talk as the cousins played. I loved these visits, being able to reconnect and laugh and enjoy the company of people that I love without doubt.
                As a child, I did not understand the intricacies of the various relationships. I figured life was as sunny and carefree as I experienced those get-togethers. I thought that they went on when we weren’t there and that when we returned life would pick up all the same- just set a few more places at the table, the whole family is here tonight. I imagined my son’s birthdays (as all other birthdays) would be gatherings of the whole family where he could experience the love I’d grown up with. The uncles and aunts would assume the role in various forms that my Grandfather Cole had occupied as the patriarch of the family. We cousins would act in the roles our parents had presumed in younger days just as our children would take our places. Maybe at some point in the future I would incorporate a new husband and maybe another child into these rituals.
                As an adult, I understand now why certain parts of the family couldn’t make it to one function or another. When I was younger, I had been told it was scheduling conflicts. No, it’s just conflicts. My aunts never have gotten along and now see no reason to hide it- maybe they themselves never hid it but it was hidden from me. This family that I used to love and admire as a Rockwellian cohesive home has fractured along lines I can’t even begin to sort out. As I love both of my aunts, I have had the privilege of spending time with the both of them and have learned two sides to many stories. I see a lot of hurt, a lot of misunderstandings and a lot of pride, and I see it on both sides of this riff. It breaks my heart but it angers me more than anything because my son will not know a family that can put aside their differences long enough to celebrate a wedding, birthday, or anniversary. My original plan of having the whole family to celebrate my son’s birthday has fizzled into just the smallest of affairs with my immediate family; I will not choose sides. My Mom told me how upset she is because she had really wanted to make her and Dad’s fortieth anniversary special with the whole family but, like my son’s birthday, if Person X comes, person Y won’t come and if Person Y isn’t coming than Person Z won’t be there and before you know it, something as beautiful as a fortieth wedding anniversary (an increasingly rare feat these days that should be celebrated) is perverted into just the latest battleground for this war.
                There will be no winners here and everyone is losing.  Instead of medals, we will all have scars crosshatching our hearts from this sharp word or that misunderstanding.  Instead of being able to turn to a strong and wide safety net when our lives get rough, we are left scowling in corners and trading petty barbs. And the worst part is that it’s become generational. This pathetic, petty nonsense gets passed along the bloodlines along with our stout builds and blue eyes.
                Well, I’m bowing out. I will have none of it. My door will always be open for my family and my son, Gods willing, will grow to love each of my family as I do. There are fine people in this family, people I may not always agree with but people that I still love and respect. I hope everyone else knows it, too. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Moving Day

                Moving Day broke exceptionally early. Our house still needed to be cleaned and our trailer loaded before the early departure time of six AM. Elijah had been up a lot the night before so I pulled myself from bed sluggishly at five AM and began cleaning what I could. Breakfast was something quickly thrown together from the scraps of food still left in the house. Knowing that I was going to be cleaning all morning, I skipped the shower and went straight to work on scrubbing the tub. Other people began to rise as well and it quickly became apparent that we’d bitten off more than we could.
                It was going to be another hot day; this time tipping the scales at a whopping 104 plus excessive humidity. Needless to say, Mom was down for the count before too long, cloistering herself in her bathroom to use her nebulizer. Dad and Douglas worked relentlessly at fitting everything we’d decided to move ourselves into the trailer. What had been an easy “We have plenty of room” quickly turned into “Not everything is going to fit.” While Elijah slept, I busied myself collecting trash, sweeping the floors, and forcibly choosing to remain hyper-analytical for fear that the sizing stress would suck me in and I’d have a breakdown.
                We did not make our six AM departure. In fact, we sailed right by it along with seven, eight, and nine o’clock as well. By eleven thirty, we finally decided enough was enough.  Mom was at the end of her rope trying to find those last minute things. Dad discovered a huge pile of things he couldn’t bare to part with but didn’t have room to take, and Elijah had woken up eager to help the only way a bored two year old knows how to- he got in the way. We packed the Jeep, the Impala, and the trailer to the brim. Dad and Douglas piled into the Jeep with our Border Collie Seumas. Elijah, Mom, the cat Socks, and I shoe-horned ourselves into the Impala and we made our way to our first stop: a real breakfast which, at that point, was off the lunch menu at McDonalds.
                We ate in the car and shared easy laughs. So Mom could relax, I took the wheel first and we headed out of town. Socks began meowing; something he didn’t stop save for a few short naps, until let out of his cage in Kentucky.
                Before long, though, it became apparent that the Jeep was pulling too much weight. We went back and forth over our walkie-talkies to decide our best course of action. It was decided that we’d switch to a truck. Dad and Douglas would drive in that, Mom would take the Jeep with the dog, and I’d take the Impala with the cat and my kid. We pulled over in Chapel Hill- not two hours from home- and Dad, Douglas, and I began the long process of switching everything over. Mom stayed in the Jeep and Elijah stayed in the car with the windows rolled down. I checked on him occasionally and it was obvious he was getting uncomfortable so I kept pushing the water on him.
                When everything was loaded onto the truck, it must have been close to two. We got into our vehicles and began the caravan to Kentucky once again. Before long, I knew something was wrong with Elijah. He was tomato-red and despondent. In the rearview mirror, he stared at nothing with blank eyes. It was obvious that the heat had taken a toll on him. I said his name over and over, louder and more desperately. When he didn’t respond, I slammed on the horn repeatedly in an attempt to get Mom and Dad’s attention and pulled over. I quickly got out f the car on the side of the freeway and went to my son. Again, I called and called his name but he just stared someplace beyond me. It was only when I gave him a firm shake that he began to cry. I gave him soda to drink since I knew he’d have more of that than water, and got back in the car, driving quickly to catch up with my folks to get help. It wasn’t long before I spotted the Jeep and the U-Haul. I slid in behind then and cast a happy smile to Elijah in the rearview mirror. He was, once again, red faced and despondent. This time, I put on the hazard lights and sped dangerously quickly to get around them, blasting my horn as I went. We pulled over and Dad had me strip him down to his diaper. We gave him more to drink and decided he needed someplace cooler so we found a truck stop. I cooled Elijah off in the bathroom, before getting more soda from a waitress and having him sit in the restaurant’s air conditioning. When he started talking about all the trucks, I knew he was getting better so we got back into the car and drove on.
                Someplace in Virginia, we hit a traffic jam that extended for miles and hours. We all crawled along at a snail’s pace, occasionally weaving through the traffic in an attempt to find a quicker lane. Somewhere along the way, Mom- the only one without a cell phone that worked or a walkie talkie- got separated from us. We spent the next few hours driving through every rest area and squeaking around Beckley, West Virginia (a place they had often stopped for dinner on trips to Cincinnati) trying to find her. The sun fell behind the hills and our worry grew. We called the state police to see if there had been any sort of distress calls from her. Around nine-thirty, we found her. She had asked another motorist at a rest area if we could use his phone.
Our reunion was short, however. The anxiety of losing Mom had both kept me awake and drained me of my energy. Someplace outside of Charleston, my vision began to blur and I began to lose my depth perception. The car lights all had tracers. I told my folks I was going to pull over and get a motel for the night. They decided to carry on. At eleven o’clock, I handed off Socks to my Mom and took Elijah to the Knights Inn in Charleston, West Virginia.
Had I had even a smidge more energy, I’d have left the motel as soon as I unlocked the door to my room. It was frigid and everything had a bizarre sticky filminess to it as if someone had used too high a concentration of the cheapest soap possible to clean (and failed miserably at cleaning). There was a hole in the wall where the door handle had hit it and a spot on the floor than sank as if the boards beneath had rotted through and were covered with cheap carpet instead of fixed. Elijah was thrilled! He ran around the room, playing with the microwave that was haphazardly stacked upon a dorm style mini fridge on the floor. He tried in vain to climb onto the high beds and giggled the whole time. It was after midnight before I was able to pull him close to me (since he didn’t want to sleep in his own double bed) and drift off to sleep. I woke at five and took a surprisingly good shower. While Elijah slept, I organized the car a little better and threw awake the assortment of garbage we’d collected. Elijah woke up around seven and put up a fight about leaving the motel. He pouted all the way to Cracker Barrel where we celebrated his second birthday.
We drove straight from there to Newport, Kentucky. Elijah drifted off to sleep in the back and I, not fully recovered, yawned in the front. Hitting Kentucky gave me a little boost and I enjoyed the great feeling of “home” that had visited me when I first walked the streets of Seattle. I’m not sure how acres of corn, horses, and barns and rain soaked city streets can inspire the same feelings but they did.
Instead of going straight to my folk’s new home where the movers would surely be, I took Elijah to the Newport Aquarium where he darted from one exhibit to another like one of the fish in the tanks. He loved the frogs and the jellyfish. It took him a good long time, however, to cross the glass parts of the walkways where you can see the water below. At the gift store, he got a little plastic fish that swims with him at every bath and a sippy cup that broke the next day.
After that, we hit up Skyline Chili for lunch and took it home. Unbeknownst to me, my Uncle Gordon whom I’d not seen in years, followed me to the new house. He got out the same time I did and welcomed me home with a bottle of Patron, thus securing the “Coolest Uncle Ever” title and instilling in me the idea that maybe I can have two homes: my beloved Pacific Northwest and the home that we left when I was three: Kentucky.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Biography of My Depression

   I'm reading "An Unquiet Mind" right now which is about a psychologist with manic depression. It inspired me to give a brief (twenty years condensed into four and a half pages) history of mine..... 

             I remember when I was a young girl, maybe ten or so, and commenting to my Mom that I did not think I smiled as much as other people. She said that people often did not smile and I said that I thought this was different. I didn’t feel happy like others did.
                Shortly thereafter, I was sent to my first psychologist. My fears and desires were very limited, like those of most ten year olds, and her great solution was to get a cat to replace one I’d been very close to up until her recent death. The following birthday, my dad took me to the shelter and I picked out a lovely and sweet black and white cat. Little surprise, a new cat did nothing to quiet the growing shadows that were being to spread from the corners of my mind.
                As far as upbringings go, mine was fairly normal on a superficial level. I was the only girl, third born in a flock of four. My dad was in the Navy reserves until I was about seven, at which point he went on active duty. My mom was a part time nurse and full time mother. The oldest brother showed a remarkable interest in architecture and was encouraged from an early age. My youngest brother adored the outdoors and was an active Boy Scout, obtaining Eagle Scout status and his Order of the Arrow. The middle brother has mild to moderate autism and has been in need of constant attention. Then, there was me.
                I’ve never truly felt like I belonged with my family. Whether they’ve pushed me away or I left of my own free will, I do not know; the feeling so old and pervasive. However, the distance between us has always been a constant source of inner (and sometimes outer) turmoil for me. Things were about the same in school; my classmates always commenting on how shy or quiet I was. Throughout the years, I’ve become more open with my friends and have a fantastic circle of people that I’m honored to know. In many ways, I am closer to several of them than I am my family, who seem to lead lives rather insularly. This is especially true with my dad who, at this point, I’ve all but given up on developing the sort of close relationship that I so desperately long for with him. There is a bitter irony knowing that we were closest when farthest apart.
                The incident with the first psychologist was certainly not my last. From her, I went to a rather well respected and charming one by the name of Rachel who was fantastic at using tools to help me open up and communicate with her. It was she who I first confessed to being suicidal and she who saw the need for my first hospitalization.
                To be twelve and sent to a psychiatric hospital is a wretched thing. I remember packing my things in the late evening and the overwhelming sense of embarrassment I felt. My Dad told me he was disappointed in me which only deepened my shame. The drive to the private hospital was dreadfully tense and the admission process equally so. Upon being admitted, I was strip searched and put in solitary confinement for the night. The next morning, I met a slew of other kids my age or a bit older that had been runaways, or depressed, or gotten into drugs; mostly pot. Most of us were military dependents and we all seemed to have “Daddy Issues.” Overall, it was not something I’d ever hope to repeat. I found the doctors interesting and enjoyed the time one-on-one but it was few and far between. Most of the time was spent in the group, being forced to talk about things I felt were deeply personal and no one’s business but mine and my doctors.’ My first roommate drew wretchedly detailed pictures of death and smuggled cigarettes hidden in her vagina that she’d chain smoke in the bathroom. She would threaten me with a longer stay if I told anyone what she was up to. As she was older than I, I believed her and sat at the small desk in our room, looking at nothing and trying not to smell it either.
It wasn’t long before I was switched into a room with a kinder, gentler girl who was very friendly and, on one particular morning, did my hair in a pretty French braid. I looked so much “improved” that morning that they offered me a surprise day pass to see my family; an awkward day of long pauses and feeling more fractured from them than usual. I don’t remember her name but I do remember being surprised to find out that this bright ray of light in my life was equally depressed as I. During that period, I met my first homosexual, an endearingly kind sixteen year old named Mike who was admitted because he tried to kill himself when his parents lambasted him for being gay. I also had my first boyfriend to whom I was not very kind. It was shortly after I moved from the state that I found out he had killed himself.
                There were other wonderful kids there whose names and faces I’ve forgotten over the years. I think that I gained a bit of empathy while there and began to realize that we all fight our own battles; not always publically. I also felt like a caged animal, stalking the walls of my prison and admiring the boy that tried to escape. My heart ached most for the few of us who were deemed “LT” that is, destined for the long term treatment facility in Mississippi. Unlike most of us, LTs would not be going home in six weeks’ time. They’d have walls to stare at for eighteen months or more.
                Moving to Chicago did little to alleviate the sinking feeling inside. The neighborhood around the military base was rough, the school was horrible, and I continued to butt heads with my father. For a mental break, I began to volunteer at the Naval Hospital. It was there that I met a young ensign who seemed wildly charismatic, charming, and good looking. They called him Dennis the Menace for his mischievous ways. I fell hard for him and we spent many an evening searching out corners of the hospital wing to neck and fondle each other. It was only after a month or so of this intense game, his wife showed up on the floor with their two children in tow. I found out that Dennis was four years older than he had told me and that I was incredibly na├»ve to think I’d been something special. In fact, I’d been just another knot on his long line of misdeeds. Dennis the Menace indeed.
                Shortly thereafter, I was admitted to another hospital after stumbling into the ER blithering about Dennis, the fights with my dad, and the overwhelming desire to die. I’d been lying in bed, staring at the walls, twisting, turning, sobbing and scratching at my wrists. It was to the hospital or suicide. I chose the hospital which resulted in embarrassing scandal for my parents and the return of that horrible caged animal feeling when they were called to admit me.
This stay wasn’t so long which was probably best for me anyway. As I hated the staff and felt wholly uncomfortable being with people who had much more serious problems than I, I felt the best way to get out was to play along, working everyday on perfecting my answers to gain what I ultimately wanted: freedom. While there, I met the man who would become my psychologist for the next three years.
Dr. G was a kind man with an honest desire to help people but I’m not sure he was the best fit for me. Never once could I open up to him about the plethora of boys and young sailors that I began cavorting with. He never knew that I had a friend that had an abortion or the deep feelings the news had stirred in me- or that her boyfriend had shared my bed as well. He didn’t know I was planning to run away until I was already several states east. He didn’t know that gang violence had ended the life of one of my friends and nearly took the life of another. These things, I feel, you ought to be able to tell someone paid to listen. All in all, while his intentions were good, admirable even, I never felt close enough to trust him. Of all the weekly sessions, the things I got most from him were to dye my hair if I wanted to (suddenly the permission halted any longing for blue hair) and to “stop” being Pagan. Fifteen years later, I’m an ordained Pagan minister with a Pagan son.
No, I got better therapy with the horses. Shortly after moving to Chicago, I began riding and was soon offered a job at the stable in exchange for my lessons. Nothing halted a black mood quicker than to see my “babies.” Many an evening, I would go into the stall of a particularly beautiful grey gelding and lay my head on his shoulder. He stood patiently, neither eating nor begging attention, and simply let me stand with him. It was then that I knew Grace and my heart broke a thousand times over when he was sold.
My dad officially retired from the Navy when I was sixteen and we settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. If the Chicago years had been difficult, North Carolina was the worst. I felt wholly out of my element. Attending public school was an outright disaster (I’d chosen to homeschool after the death of my friend) and a few months into it, I found the safety and comforts of my bed to be far preferable to tally interacting with hundreds of obnoxious, lively teenagers. During Thanksgiving break, I resolved not to go back but instead finish high school at home.
My parents found another doctor for me to go to. She was very kind but couldn’t figure out why I was still in therapy. In her mind, I had all the tools to conquer depression. It was simply a matter of using them. Her attitude was more along the lines of: there is nothing that you want that you can’t have. Now, go get it.
The best thing she ever gave me, though, was encouragement to pursue photography. It was in her office that I saw pictures of the Great Wall of China and fell in love. Photography has been a fantastic source of self-expression since then.
Unfortunately, all that prodding to use “I feel” statements and encourage closeness with my family did nothing to ease the tension between my father and me. During a particularly angry outburst with him, he told me that I could leave if I didn’t like the way the house was run. So, I did. I moved to Washington State.
I honestly wish that I could say moving to Washington alleviated my depression. It certainly lessened it quite a bit but it never left completely. Instead, though, of long simmering bouts that were tolerable, I went through shorter, darker bursts. The man that I moved in with seemed to me a completely different person than the one I’d met online and spoken with over the phone so often. He had this manipulative way of wording things so that it was never his fault. Was I completely free of blame? Of course not. A healthy dose of stubbornness combined with the naivety of an 18 year old made me a very tough person to live with, not to mention that my mind is more often focused on anything other than cleaning and general housework. We fought quite a bit but I was never really depressed in the 18 months or so that we lived together.
In fact, I went several years without any real signs of clinical depression. There would be a small bout here or there but I could still get out of bed and function. I had to. During those years I got married and my husband had the most difficult time keeping a job. Every day, I would wake up and knew that I had two choices: to stay in bed and risk losing my job, too, that would send us down a spiraling path of debt leading to possible eviction and the ruination of our marriage or I could go to work and, if nothing else, take care of the financial part of my issues. At work, I was blessed with many friends who showered me with love, affection, support, and an ear to vent to: all the things that keep depression under control for me.
In the fall of 2007, however, that support wasn’t enough. My husband had just spent the last two years suffering from, attempting to diagnose, and ultimately treating an exceeding rare form of cancer. Shortly after his treatment end, I suffered the miscarriage and took it especially hard. Dreaming of our child had been a coping mechanism I’d relied on during those many dark months. To lose that child broke me. When my OBGYN wrongly diagnosed me with high blood pressure and prescribed me a medication that caused heart damage, I had all that I could take. I was not quite 27 with a barren womb where life was supposed to be growing, a broken husband that escaped with more and more frequency into his music and other friends, and a heart that was both quite literally and figuratively broken. Piled on top of the job I disliked and a brother at war, it was simply too much.
One day, when my husband was at band practice, I grabbed a handful of pills- a combination of the drugs that had caused the damage and the pills used to treat the damage. The first had caused a severe drop in blood pressure which caused my heart to race. The second slowed the racing of my heart. It seemed logical that if I were to overdose on a combination of the two, my heart would slowly stop and I would die a peaceful death long before my husband returned. My heart would simply slow down and halt. I took the pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other. My heart, funny enough, was racing and my hand shook. This was something that I’d pondered for weeks. I’d researched each pill. I knew the doses to take. I put on the clothes I wanted to be found in and I had decided that I would commit the act in the bathroom so that if any vomiting occurred (a possible side effect of one of the drugs), it would be one less thing to worry about. Hopefully, I’d vomit into the toilet.
I don’t know if it was the Gods or willpower or a combination of both, but I stopped just short of swallowing the pills. Some little thing flickered inside my head at just the right moment and, instead of swallowing the pills, I dropped them into the toilet. I emptied both bottles and flushed. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t watch them wistfully or regret my choice in the weeks to come.
When I later told my husband what I had done, he called me crazy. He acted, I felt, as if this were a burden unto him. My depression became his annoyance.
The next time it hit was the fall of 2009. My son had just been born and I suffered from post-partum depression. I hated breastfeeding and began to resent my newborn son for it. I hated that my original three months of maternity leave had to be cut to six weeks, and I hated that while I was feeling this way, my husband was out, playing his music and hiding late night visits from a particular female “friend” from me. Although he swore nothing was happening, I often didn’t find out about these visits until much later and then only by accident. When I expressed dissatisfaction in our marriage, he “jokingly” said that if we were to divorce, he’d tell my son I was dead so I’d never see him. Those words hurt me so deeply that I almost went into the traffic right there and then. To him, a joke is a joke regardless of the pain it causes.
I went to a therapist for a couple of sessions. The first was okay and I felt good to know was getting help. However, the one with my husband resulted in him carrying on about how great music is and deflecting all other questions with the therapist doing nothing to steer things back onto track about the crumbling family. The third, and our final visit together, is when she suggested we take out credit cards to support me staying at home with Elijah. To this day, I still cannot understand what would cause a trained professional to offer such foolish advice.
As you know, our relationship deteriorated into regular screaming matches and a long overdue divorce that I celebrated with considerable joy (and tequila).
I wish I could say that my depression has abated recently. The thrill of starting over, of going back to school, of being with my son so much, and being away from my now ex, ought to raise my spirits. In some lights, I see it as a good thing. In others, though, I’m still very much homesick for Washington. While I can’t say I’ve missed my ex for a moment, I do miss his parents and my friends. I miss the drizzling rain, the lush landscape, the wildlife, and the sense of belonging that I’ve always felt in Washington. Plus, it’s no easy task to be with my parents again. My relationship with my dad is the worst it’s ever been and I desperately long for my own space. Plus, I’m especially worried about not having a job in Cincinnati and I’ve made some friends here that my heart is breaking over the thought of leaving. Even doing my best to keep myself aloof (which I’m not very good at, mind you), the idea of not seeing these people kills me a little.
The other day, I broke down and cried to my Mom for a very long time. It’s always a hard thing to do because she always suggests some sort of medical treatment (I feel I ought to be able to do this on my own by now) and the fact that her mom committed suicide must make it incredibly hard for her to know that it’s a thought her daughter has entertained on occasion. But, ultimately, the cry was a good thing. I have honestly felt better since then and am hoping that the city I always referred to as home before I knew my northwestern one will welcome me back with open arms.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Stand Corrected....

                I was invited out to lunch by a certain sous chef I’ve spoken about in the past. As usual, I won’t name names (although, if you guess, apparently I can’t help but nod) but it’s the guy with the “DB” sweater. His first invitation was a tad clunky and awkward, leaving me to ponder if it had been a real invite or another bit of his ribbing. So, at work today, I asked if the particular restaurant was open on Sundays (I had it in my mind that it was not which did not help my confusion). When he said that it was, I asked if he’d like to come to lunch with me, figuring that the best way to stop my confusion was to risk looking a little foolish. It was at this point that he informed me (rather exasperatingly) that he’d already invited me so I told him that I’d love to (which is better than the “I’ll think about it” that I gave the cook that invited me to drinks after work. Honestly, if this invite thing had been cleared up earlier, I could have said I already had plans which would have been considerably more gracious).
                So, after work we went to a restaurant I’d actually interviewed at when I first arrived in Raleigh. We had pita sandwiches and baklava. Save for the pickled vegetables on my sandwich that I was not a huge fan of, the food itself was nice; lighter fare with good texture and just enough to fill you up but not so much you’d be dragging tail by four).
                The conversation wasn’t too stilted thanks to having known each other for four months. We talked about our hometowns, the restaurants we want to open, our dreams, schooling, and those other subjects than generally fill the air when you’re feeling someone out for the first time outside of work.
                And I’m ready to admit that I was (partially) wrong. He’s a really, really nice guy with an interesting history. I think he has walls and I think that some people can be deterred by those walls but the person I had lunch with today seemed genuinely sweet and a nice guy. I hope that one day he feels comfortable enough to let others see who I saw today. I really wish I’d seen this part of him and learned what I did of him during lunch earlier.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Never Too Late...

                I have been a bad, bad girl recently. I know I should be saving up for my apartment (I have $3,000 thus far so it’s not been a total bust) but I saw these three photography books as of late that I just have to have. The first was a Steve McCurry book called “The Unguarded Moment” that I actually first saw months ago but couldn’t justify the expense for.  Somehow, though, after selling my Jetta, I just happened to go to the mall to run a quick errand. I just happened into Barnes and Noble, just happened to pick up the book, and just happened to be out at the car with it and a receipt clutched firmly in my hands. Of course, I have flipped through it many times since then, admiring the lighting, the composition, the feeling and the thoughts behind each picture. I’ve imagined taking those pictures myself. What would I have done differently? What did I really enjoy? How would I interact with each of the individuals seen through the viewfinder on my camera?
I found out that Steve McCurry offered expeditions to various parts of the world so, of course, now I want nothing more than to go to Cambodia or India or Afghanistan and shoot the people there. Those of you that know me best wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve often fantasized about being a world-weary photographer and bringing awareness to various situations.
Funny enough, that leads to the second book. It’s a thick tome of some of the Magnum photographers’ best works (Magnum is an agency for some of the most amazing photographers in the world. If you’ve ever seen a truly powerful image of a world event, it could very easily been shot by a Magnum photographer). I first saw this book at the Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater, Washington shortly after 9/11. The book is filled with pictures of every aspect human life; our greatest celebrations to our darkest hours. On one of the pages, there is a photo of a girl in Sarajevo. The blast from a bomb has knocked her from her feet. She’s bruised and dirty on the ground. A short distance away, a dog is lying in a puddle of blood. There is an intensity, an anger, and a sorrow,  about that picture that, ten years after the fact, has stuck with me. After 9/11, some people wanted to join the military to defend our country or to seek revenge. I considered joining so I could shoot like the Magnum photographers. The book is currently for sale at another bookstore in town.
The third book has a simple tan cover. It’s called “At Work” and it lets you know front, back, and spine. It’s by the famed photographer Annie Liebovitz. In it, you’ll find several of her most famous portraits but infinitely more important than the images is the text that accompanies them. Reading what she thinks and feels about her work, how she came to be the artist she is, and all the triumphs and tribulations along the way make her seem more real and the dream more attainable. I bought it yesterday and am half way through it.
Along with the Leibovitz book, I bought a bookmark (a rare feat for me) with the quote “It’s never too late to be what you could have been” engraved on it. Good words for us all, I think.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chef Humpty

                Because nothing says “America” like hamburgers and God, I’m eating a left over charred nugget of cow flesh and listening to Cantate Domino by Sulpitia Cesis. Honestly, I love choral music. It probably has something to do with my love of history, religion, and foreign language; most definitely my love of foreign music because if this were in English it would probably be something like “Goooooddddddddd, Gooooooooooddddddd, Gooooooooooddddddd is Soooooooooooo Aaaaaaawwwwweeeeeesssssssooooommmmmeeeeee.” As much like reading about and studying religion, I’m not too big into being proselytized to. It’s sort of like scientists at the CDC. Just because they may like studying the latest flesh eating disease doesn’t mean they want to catch it. Did I just compare religion to necrotizing fasciitis? I believe I did. (But it’s really not- maybe more like meningitis in some cases but those are actually few and far between). Unlike flesh eating superbugs, choral music is also very soothing. I feel like I ought to light some candles and sway or something. Instead, I’m going to write about the intended subject that caused me to open Word tonight: this guy at work.
                This guy at work will henceforth be known as DB. Don’t worry. Those aren’t his real initials but if I were buying him a monogrammed sweater, that’d be what I’d have put on it because the thought of this guy wearing a sweater with DB on it, cracks me up.
                DB, as you might have surmised, means “douchebag” and I do use that term with the utmost affection because, as much as his presence grates my nerves, I actually sort of enjoy it. Why do I enjoy the company of a douchebag? I don’t know. Why was I marri- okay, that’s too easy, even for me. Let’s just say, it’s familiar territory but, instead of holding it in, I flip it right back.
                Anyway, DB can be such a total, well, douchebag.  Case in point, one of my friends complimented him on his food and his response was “For $32,000 tuition, it had better look good.” To a coworker tonight: he told him we couldn’t have any of the pizza that a customer didn’t pick up AFTER DB ate a slice right in front of said coworker. To me, “I like a lot of hiking, mountain climbing, and biking; you couldn’t keep up” when I asked what his hobbies were (because douchebaggery ain’t a hobby, yo!). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, his attitude is bordering on legendary. It seems everyone has a story of this guy’s, er, non-hobby.
                But here’s the thing that gets me: I think (maybe wishfully) that it’s all an act. Maybe he’s scarred or damaged goods because sometimes he can almost be pleasant and the one time he really hurt me, he acted really sheepish about it when he realized what he’d done. Maybe, hopefully, he has this huge douche wall that protects a shy or scared or fragile guy. I like to think so. I like to think that that guy is really sweet to his family and snuggles with kittens or something utterly fluffy. Maybe he writes really awkward searingly personal poetry and cries when he makes an especially good meal at home. Or maybe he secretly knits little sweaters for orphaned kittens and puppies at the no-kill shelters and can describe the best peach of his life.
                And then there’s this other part of me that mockingly imagines that he’s so stand offish and jackass-y because he’s got some horrible, deep secret that will destroy us all one day and he doesn’t want to get close for fear of it interfering with the “MASTER PLAN.”
                Or maybe he’s just a douchebag. Meh.
                The funniest thing, though, is that if I treat him the way he treats us, he acts offended. Is it hurt? Is it shock that someone would throw a tomato as “His Highness?” Is he trying to remember the places I love so he releases the flesh eating brain disease (that is not religion) there first? I really do not know. And so, I try to be nice to him but, well, sometimes I just have to snap at him because walls or no, I can't help but throw rocks at Humpty Dumpty.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Better Day

Today was a better day over all. I woke up to a sympathy card from my folks and a list of bakeries, delis, and organic stores in the Cincinnati area. There's one place that has, like, eleven locations and was started back in the sixties. My folks got their wedding cake there in '74 so it would be very, very cool to work there.

And, I guess since Whole Foods is all jacked up, I could work part time at the bakery and go to school and have the government support us for a bit. Hell, I've been working since I was twelve (paper route and baby sitting to pay for my riding lessons) and paying taxes since I was sixteen. I feel entitled to some government relief. We all know Medicare and SSI are going to be gone by the time I retire anyway so I might as well get something while there's still something to pick. It would certainly be a humbler lifestyle but that might be an okay pay off if it brings a better future overall. Besides, I'm sure listening to the cracked out ramblings whistled through the broken teeth of my prostitute neighbor would surely inspire a story or two. Just got to stay positive!

Plus, I got a text from Paul saying that child support was being deducted from his check which make me wonder if the full amount was deducted this time. Wouldn't that be nice? There's a two week delay so it will be a bit before we find out.

And, since our shifts were opposite, there were no snarky comments to deal with today; just the crazy Chicken Nin-cha (don't ask- or ask and be confused).

Then, on the way home, I saw two lovely deer sprint off into a farmer's field and, even after a long day in a hot, humid kitchen, I'm still porting envy-inducing mermaid curls. FTW!