I want the president to have committed a treasonous act just as much as anybody, but we'll probably have to settle for him never being indicted for obstruction of justice.
Oh shit, what am I doing?
I have to start scanning my processed film soon. I just counted. There are about 70 rolls, at 36 exposure each. So, I have a lot of work ahead of me - approx. 2500 images. So much work that it is easiest and best to put it off a while longer. But I have run out of digital images. It takes so much time to go through those, also. Why don't I have an eager underling or a protege yet? An avid undergé...
Well, there goes my next chapter in the ongoing saga of #MeToo. Wait, I didn't say she had to be female. I only thought that it must be that way. Lucky me.
I have wanted to tell my #MeToo story here, but it is pointless. A friend told me that I was hers, and it knocked me back several yards when she did. I had never touched her, nor had a sexual encounter with her, and had not tried to. She believed that I had. There was a misunderstanding. Even when we both went through the agreed upon facts together there was no contact nor harassment, only an unintentional poor decision, but it seemed to get my foot in the door and that was all that was needed. I did feel very bad about it - she was a friend and my intention was not to hurt her in any way. She was adamant that I was "like Harvey Weinstein," which impacted the friendship negatively.
I never put her in another one of my films again.
The whole experience saddened and confused me, though I do not pretend to be the victim. I only know that I regret my part in it, but my part did not cross that line, it just crossed her line. It must have. It makes me nervous to even think about it, much less write. I enjoy having close female friends. I need them. Being accused of anything is never pleasant. I know. I have been accused of much. I leave myself open for it and my attitude sometimes even invites it.
If you often project that you are doing nothing wrong then you'll encounter people that will soon disagree. I offended and insulted her. For that, I apologized deeply. For her accusations towards me, I abandoned the friendship. After listening to her, apologizing, and then expressing my feelings about it, I went quiet.
That didn't help anything. When does it?
There are terrible people out there - men and women, I mean. I have found it best to find one woman and try to love her well. Rarely will it be well enough. It is best to be friendly and open with other women - careful in conversation, polite in action. That is no guarantee that someone will not one day find your behavior disagreeable or even offensive. Well, now that I write it out in those terms, mine was.
She didn't fall in love with me. We agreed on that.
It's dread that's been nagging me. I realized this yesterday morning. A friend told me that his neighbor had a "haymaker heart attack." It dawned on me - that's what's troubling me: boring old death. I knew it had a source in something that was causing me some apprehension of doom. The realization fit. I've been thinking too much about dying suddenly. I don't know why. Turning 50, I guess. Friends start talking to you differently. There are reminders of unpleasant things that I should now begin, medical procedures, things to be cautious and wary of, foods to eat or to avoid. There is no sliding into middle age gracefully. There are ligament strains, the perpetual need to hydrate, and to stretch. I wasn't doing any of that, I was just worrying. At other times in my life I might have written these feelings off as part of the luxury of depression. As a parent you have so few places left to hide.
Part of it is also CS. He has been my friend for about 35 years now and he was hurt in an accident recently. I have not dealt with it very well. I never do. Other people being sick or injured causes strange reactions in me. I avoid it and them. Someone once suggested that it may be a byproduct of watching my mother die and not being able to do anything at all about it. That makes sense, but still, it bothers me that I don't have a better game face for my friends being hurt or ill. I tend to keep myself from them, which is the opposite of what someone who cares should do. I know. It's not a matter of being a contrarian in everything. It's a matter of fear.
My favorite photographs and photographers, at least lately on Instagram and elsewhere online, tend to show a world of isolated humans wandering lonely places, often in black and white, blurred in space and time, mere apparitions. There is a sort of singularness to the images that draws me in and fascinates me. Yet, when I look through my own pics I am attracted to fragmented yearnings - my son reaching for affection from his mother.
These images can be viewed as opposites. Everywhere there is loneliness and yearning - ghosts of people, or fragments of ghosts of people never satiated. All that one believes, they see.
I don't care any more, about so many things that seemed so important not so long ago. So, so, so. That's part of why having children must seem so odious to those who don't. Parents stop caring about other things - things shared - and divert their attention and concern to only the one thing, and that one thing can not possibly hold others' interests the way that it does a parent's. So, so, so.
What can be said about it?
I read articles that discuss, statistically, a person's late in life dissatisfaction and disappointment with having had children at all. Many report a sense of disillusion with the results of procreation. That seems plausible. It's perhaps no good to wrap up so much in something whose trajectory is outward. But it is a lot of fun for now, and until very recently it helped keep me from peering too much inward.
The LSD experience can be an interesting one. Acid. If you do it enough times then eventually you will find yourself alone as the drug wears off, with the sensation that all of your friends have drifted away from you and are off elsewhere. Or, if you're like me then you might experience that. Many experience their worst fears come to life's immediate horror at these times, and only wish for the drug to wear off and for the experience to be over, and to sleep. Not me. It's during those times of intense self-reflection that I am most interested in what the drug tends to invite. I would treat it as a sort of spiritual house-cleaning, as mawkish as that may sound. Along with so much expected reflection there was also a recognition of the simplicity of certain things, the sound and tone of one's own voice, and the nature of the things the mind says to itself if you let it.
Lately, for reasons I don't understand, my inner voice has been unusually despondent, and filled with grayness. I'm trying to listen and not be consumed, to laugh along with my own self-directed observations, no matter how bleak. It's not always easy. The years drifting by have a way of robbing some of the frivolity of life, its laughter. I've never been a very lighthearted person but I always felt that I was filled with some strange humor that helped get me by. I felt as if I was getting away with skipping class after class, but now I awake with irrational fears that I have left some assignment undone, and irreverence alone does not always transcend the baseless imaginings. Or, not any more.
I've played a handful of songs on the guitar this morning. I can hear the uncertainty in my voice when I sing. You might hear it, too.
The strangest of moods keeps overtaking me. I struggle to get words around it; some midlife change. Some embarrassment of time. It's all very boring, but aging comes as a personal revelation of sorts, one that defies easy expression. One that I long suspected would arrive and that I would somehow be prepared for, perhaps having accrued so much wisdom. Reading is not synonymous with living. Its descriptions meant to convey are far less mundane. Midlife is no less surprising than youth. It manages to arrive unexpectedly. I spent my youth waiting for something to happen.
Sunshine can help so much, sometimes, when it falls on your skin. I had a much better bike ride yesterday than I did the day before. I was only a minute and a half faster, but felt stronger and fought the road, the bike, and myself less. Perception counts for so much, and at all times.
I don't remember if I ever posted that picture here before. It is near the caldera of the volcano, Irazu. I like it. So many of my pictures are just candid portraits, shot with expensive lenses. There is something compelling, at least to me, about seeing a small remote figure in the distance of an unfamiliar and possibly hostile landscape. I like it.
I remember at the time thinking how far away the boy had wandered, and how long it would take me to run to him if anything went wrong, and then how silly I felt for thinking that I could do anything at all to protect him if the volcano suddenly became active. The rupture in the earth's crust could have burped up any number of gases that might have killed us all quickly. But to the edge we all went and peered over at the mineral rich lake that had formed there. Then we each wandered off our separate ways for a little while.
All day when I lie down I feel as if I am falling into the ground, towards the center of the earth. Even when I open my eyes, it is as if everything is falling up and away from me, like the sudden descent before a waking hypnic twitch.
My son took that picture of me. I like it for that reason, of course. The other day I paid him 50 cents for every chord he could play on the ukulele. He played four: C, Am, F, G. I explained to him that there are a bunch of songs that we can play with those four chords, then proceeded to play him Let It Be by The Beatles and D'yer Maker by Led Zeppelin, but two examples that rely heavily on those chords.
I owe him 2 bucks.
I await the clock's ticking to 4pm, when I am free to go ride my bike up into the hills. It is what I look forward to every day now that the sun is finally out here. Perpetual gray does terrible things to my spirit, and I have so little fight in me, nowhere left to hide or run.
A friend texted me last night verifying that I had insurance and encouraging me to get a colonoscopy now that I'm 50 yrs old. Had I not been so rattled by the sudden thought of silently growing ass-cancer then I would have told him that I thought the entire purpose of this site was just such a prolonged and invasive examination. It's a sort of experiment in anal-gazing, but it sure beats talking to myself out loud about politics.
I am a news feed junky, truly. Not because I thirst for facts or truth, but because I am fascinated with the news cycle. I subscribe to all sorts of different publications, from across the political and social spectrum, and when a big story hits it is really something to watch them compete to own the narrative with their headlines alone. Some outlets are so very good at this. It makes me happy, to watch the manufacturing of the meaning of any given event. I studied this process in school a bit, but never at this level. I am from the older and now forgotten Generation X.
Ok, it's time for me to suit up and prepare to demand the pleasurable exhaustion of my lungs and legs and heart.
It has been raining for weeks, now the sun has come out but I am in a self-imposed prison of sorts. It is a security position at work. I must be within minutes of my computer at all times. Though I am aching to get on my bike and ride.
A new lens arrived in the mail today. It is a beauty, one that I've wanted for a while now - Nikon manual focus 35mm f1.4 AI-S. When I have collected all of the manual film lenses that I want I am certain that the major film manufacturers will cease production. I am like CS in this. What can I do except move to the Ukraine, or somewhere in which some version of 35mm film can still be bought, and all phone calls are made with a rotary dial. What? I should be ostracized from the digital world as a heretic.
Say what you will, but slowly I have accumulated the film camera body (FM3a) and set of prime lenses that I want - 24, 35, 50, 85, and 135. I suppose that I could also have an 18 and 105, also, though I rarely ever bring more than one lens with me when I go out shooting. They are all beauties, each a cascading new height of post-WW II Japanese engineering.
I - on the other hand - have just become a massive dork about them - a form of eccentricity that feels feasible.
If I ever come into money then be assured that I'll roundly denounce Japanese camera and lens maker, then become a newly patriotic German. Touting their strengths. You've been warned. If you're going to be a camera dork then Leica is the system to own. But I am lazy, my aspirations towards snobbishness only ever strive to the mid-market, and I am smitten for the collecting.
It's what happens to a middle aged man when he is left alone with his paycheck.
I have retained so much of the graceless enthusiasm of my childhood.
After a grueling bike ride - mountain, technical, exhausting, 1500 feet of climbing, slow moving progress - in which I further aggravated a ligament or tendon in my left shoulder there was the yearly Pinewood Derby race. I shot with auto-white balance and everything came out terribly yellow and/or red. When will I learn...? I ordered a white balance card. The ligament issue in my shoulder had me walking around as if I had a lame arm, afraid to lift it, then last night I woke up with some muscular issue on the right side which I'm convinced is a reaction to the other side. Pain shot down the side of my neck like electricity sourced from pain. Now I'm walking around as if I have broken my neck several times and the cervical vertebrae - whichever ones are opposite of the atlas and axis - have fused, reducing my head's mobility to near nil.
For two years now I have had almost perpetual ligament injuries and muscular strains of some kind. They just seem to move freely around my body, bouncing from side to side as if playing tennis with my nervous and muscular systems. These pains chew on my mind. The victor malady maybe one day getting to claim the triumph of my suicide. Okay, okay - too dark. But constant physical pain is as legitimate a reason as any other, and there are many. I'm not contemplating suicide. I'm only justifying it, and not necessarily for future reference.
This is why I don't want to write any more. At least for today.
We might adopt this dog soon. We filled out an adoption application with Pets Lifeline. We'll see. We found her wandering the neighborhood last week. I convinced Rachel to leave her alone, though we were concerned. I surmised that she had a collar on and did not accept food or water, so she was somebody's dog that seemed unstressed about being loose. Her owners would find her soon, I reassured everybody.
That didn't happen.
Somebody else in the neighborhood called Pets Lifeline and then she has been there ever since. There was a call-in claiming they knew the dog and so they gave the info, but the Lifeline people called and sent certified letters to the presumed owner, but they never heard back. So, we went to visit her yesterday, with Rhys, so you know how that went. She needs us to save her. I'll think about her name once the adoption is complete, but so far Akira Ichiban Q6 is the working name I've given her.
I am in love with her a little bit, at least to the degree that a person my age can fall for a canine that they barely know. So, a lot. Much more than I would have guessed if someone else was telling me this same story.
I hope that Barkley understands - he's a reasonable Shih Tzu most of the time.
Ok, let's try this writing thing in the early morning once again. What could go wrong? I've just been reading news feeds for the last hour, contemplating, posting rebuttals on social media, etc. My head seems in the right place. I am prepared to do battle with the emptiness below.
It has been raining here for three weeks now. There has hardly been a day without it. When it's not raining the skies remain a reminder that it will again, and soon. Bike rides have been close to impossible. It cripples a part of me. My happiness seems ever waiting. The forecast says the sun is still days away, but getting closer. A man of little faith, I will believe when I can feel it on my skin.
Today will be the Pinewood Derby race. I shaped the wood for the boy and then left the project for him to show interest in. Mom painted the car last night after the boy went to sleep - black. It is meant to suggest the Bat Mobile.
Yes, the two pics in this post were taken under (almost) the same lighting, different cameras. It's what I do now - the projects and pastimes of a seven year old.
Maybe it is better to write at the end of the day. I vacillate uselessly between reflection and opinion. The world has ceased meaning as much for me as it once did. I seek modest pleasures for reasons I barely understand. The moment is here, but I can not grasp it.
I feel adrift in this life, attached mostly to being a father. Some would praise such an admission, telling me what should matter most. It does matter, of course, but I was not quite prepared to relinquish everything to it. Anyone with an imagination is entitled to wonder what their life might have been otherwise. I read recently that those who write their goals down are statistically more likely to achieve them.
On mycomputerI moved pics from one folder to another carelessly, using a search to find them all in their place of chaos, which had the effect of taking all of the images out of their respective folders and scattering them by the thousands into their new folder. A rookie mistake and I should have known better. It has been a while since I had to give any thought.
I picked up my stack of processed film negatives today. There will be one year's worth, unscanned now, in April. Thousands of 35mm images taken this last year, for the having. The most I have ever taken by several factors. I should find the time to catch up. Perhaps I've leaned too far and too long towards just the taking of the pictures, fascinated with the mechanics of framing, the feel of constant composition. Now what.
Again I waited and watched the day move by me before sitting down to test again my feelings. I wanted to post this pic, mostly. The other day we played with four fun dogs plus Barkley at the school field. I like the pic in the way that parents like seeing their kids grow and become. This life's quotidian joys and tussles are both dull and golden and everywhere by all bearings.
Life is simpler and easier on Instagram. You just scroll through your feed and like other people's pictures. What could be easier? There, I am @realq6. There, you will find me to be a peaceful, loving man who is satisfied with liking things that please.
I'm not always the best dad, though it is maybe too early to make that assessment, and I am not the person to make it. But I can't help my devilish nature at times. This morning the boy was telling me about all of the wonderful things that his buddy can do. He rattled off a short catalog of cool things, presumed accomplishments that he employs to wow the kids in the recess yard.
Can he summon the souls of all the dead chickens he has ever eaten?
It is for things like this that I must sometimes censure myself. I have filled that kid's head with so much voodoo and bad info that he'll be lucky to avoid becoming a zealot for the ancient science of astrology.
Okay, I give up. I came here in the hopes of clearing my head of some of the useless noise of the day, but it has only amplified it like listening to mariachi through a bullhorn.
Don't have children. Not because you'll regret it but because your love for them becomes everything. Not a bad gig, at all, but the pay is expensive and the hours are eternal.
Fuck. It's as if I can't stop myself. I can't seem to find a suitable subject to write about and in my eagerness to avoid politics I'm sounding too much like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but without all the pesky intellect. More of a High Maintenance than a Zen or Motorcycles scenario.
Well, what can one do?
People are posting pics of themselves from ten years ago and then other, recent ones. A celebration of time and gravity, it seems. A wrinkle in the space-face continuum. So, here are mine. Do you see now what a decade will do to a man? For the purpose of this post I wish that I had changed genders. It would be more interesting. I could have demanded much more from my readers.
It was interesting to go through old pics that I had taken in NYC and other places. I saved most all the pics I had taken, so it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that I drink too much and I should put my camera down when doing so. It is almost as unsightly as a stumbling drunk - the poor, shaky images from the camera of an amateur. I used to wander around NYC with my camera, ready to annoy people, pretending to be a street photographer. More gutter than street.
I am not being tough on myself. It's all true, I have thousands of very poor images. I took a lot because it was the only way that I could occasionally get good ones. My "abilities" seem to have improved in relation to my gear purchases. It's a bit dispiriting to scroll through past efforts. It has made me want to take a small point-and-shoot out and re-learn everything, starting with patience. Does one learn patience, or just practice it and then sense its value. How often I have told myself to quickly find more of it, then watched the thought depart in such easy dismissal. Need to get some, soon.
I haven't been writing here because I'm struggling finding anything other than my son to care about. I know how tedious it can be to hear someone talk of nothing but their child, or the love that created them. It is worse when they have more than one. The barely concerned listener is expected to remember their differences, as when you start to carelessly read a Russian novel and you can't quite distinguish the individual characters yet. You don't want to go back. You'll just try to pull the story up from the miasma of events and places. You'd rather just be vaguely confused about why any of it matters, until of course one or more of them do something that does.
I began to write about security but became unsure. I realized that anyone reading what I wrote might think that I was referring to financial security, or sexual, national, or anything else that fills in the blank. No matter how I looked at what I was writing it was wrong unless I wrote very explicitly, which then seemed like a confession. There are forms of security in health, self-possession, romantic, and in the basic belief of one's own goodness, and many more. Few of these feelings overlap very much with the others, and most all of them rely on some sense of abundance, or a mechanism to have internal needs met, often by others. It is easy to blur satisfaction with security, in the same way people confuse pleasure with happiness, contention with love, and lubrication for the temporary delights of friction.
Whatever works is my policy. That's why we must build the wall! Security, you see.
You can add the phrase "a sense of" before the word security and it will be equally accurate, if not more so.
My conclusion: security is oftenest an illusion that depends heavily on the illusions of others, and confidence is a form of ignoring the darkest truths of your own imagination. Even the most confident of people must tremble when a doctor privately utters the word "cancer" to them in their office. Followed by the word malignant.
We must move fast. Few sustain a sense of security in such situations. Imagine walking to your car in the parking lot alone, knowing that you must call your significant other or your lone parent and find the words to say what must be said. Heart attacks, likewise, have a crumbling effect on the sense of safety. I've never had one, but I've seen someone having one. They seemed so very concerned about the future, and of course the present. I recall seeing my father thusly, twice before he disappeared.
Well, I had not meant to go so dark so soon in this post. But yes, cancer and heart attacks, in case you had forgotten. That's what I wake up chanting to myself now.... my mantra is the word hypertension... it relaxes me. If you're like me - a white male living in the US in 2010 - then this matrix should help you relax a bit. 49.5% of deaths for white men between the ages of 20-24 is stupidity.
It just occurred to me that the last post I wrote was as a substitution for what would have otherwise been an email response to an occasional reader here. I had meant to write her back, but wrote an unrelated post instead. Does such self-involvement also reduce one's sense of security?
I don't know, but I am a deeply self-involved person, or that is what I tell myself. I thought that I was the relatively moderate one among my friends in terms of living within one's own thoughts, but in mid-life I realized that no, I had just surrounded myself by others who were far worse than me, at least in that one regard. Having your own child can cause you to be less permissive and understanding of childishness in adults, though I hate that effect, rather than relishing it. I want my friends to be silly and selfish. It seems to make possible, or perhaps only easier, the act of creativity. Or, perhaps silliness and selfishness can be the result of creativity. I can suffer whimsy if there is creative output, but what does that say? What a horrible thing to think and feel, that it's time that whimsy produces something useful. Aging is the horror in which the room empties of all but you and your belief that life should be a certain way.
Watching kids will teach you much of what you need to know concerning the tyranny and triumph that is human interaction at the imaginative level. I sit with a (now) seven year old and we work on Lego projects, somewhat together. The impulse to exert your will over that of another's, for the presumed betterment of the creation, runs deep and strong and knows no age. Encouragement gives way to quiet exasperation, then my eventual admission that the boy had a much better idea for a submarine shaped interstellar space laser guided (and firing) ship than I did. It was the shark-shaped fin he added to the top that did it, etc.
Never go toe-to-toe with a seven year old in a Lego battle. That is my wisdom. Once he's done I will pretend that I just thought of a name for the ship, knowing that I had been thinking of it all along, wanting to somehow brand the thing with an indelible tag that includes me in the creative process. He'll just add another shark fin on the bottom and rename it to his liking. That is his wisdom.
It has rained for 24 hours without stop. Or rather, without a break in the glowing grey above. The air is moist and the ground is wet and will be for days. The forecast predicts much more, on this point they are hardly ever wrong. Predicting the weather for a given moment must be very difficult; for a week, sometimes it must be easy. The computer shows a screen full of clouds moving along the coast, dragging precipitation with it. It is heaviest around the SF Bay and north of that where we are, but moves all the way up to Vancouver, becoming sparser and sparser as it goes.
I must go and get a coffee.
Okay, done - delicious clouds in my coffee.
I am charging a camera battery. Today is the boy's birthday. Well, today is his birthday party, the day that he is more likely to remember. I have begun to worry that he will be too much like me when he grows older. Seven seems the right age to kickstart those parental fears into dragon-like flight. I suppose that must be a normal concern for parents, unless you're like mom and you enter an extended period of denial that you ever lived the life that you once did. I'm not sure why women find Jesus once they give birth, but some do. Not the actual Jesus, just some weird echo of saintliness and terra-divinity. Suddenly familiar behaviors become shocking instances of bad manners, the likes of which they have never known. It's pearl clutching time for the aging ravers.
Well, I'm not sure this qualifies as an update on family life. We are just rolling along like everyone, looking for death everywhere in the hopes of avoiding it.
Here is the boy reading Santa's response to his letter and cookies and milk on Christmas morning.
He'll be seven years old on Monday. What more can I say? The kid has changed my view of the world, and of life. I might have done that without him, but I hadn't yet, and that is a project that I might not have ever started.
I am more afraid of things than I used to be. I wander less, am home earlier, drink less, exercise more, practice caution as if it were good manners, and might not ever return to Burning Man.