31 May 2005
Don't throw your stuff away, Shane, unless you really want to. Ticket stubs and trinkets are triggers to memories. Without the trigger, the memory may exist in your mind, but you're less likely to draw it out. Sure you can write about it, photograph it, and for some things that's enough, but sometimes it's more satisfying to hold something you saved, or drew, or wrote a long time ago.
As for a future beyond your life, some of your trinkets will still have value. To your descendants, it will be things that were yours, pieces of the Shane puzzle, proof that you had a life prior to being a dad or a granddad. They don't have to know how you valued it specifically to be able to value it themselves. As for strangers who encounter your stuff, sometimes the most interesting stuff at tag sales are things that no one can identify.
I'm not saying you should save everything: be selective. For myself, I find weeding to be the best approach. As things lose value to me, I get rid of them. It's an ongoing process which highlights those things which remain important to me.
30 May 2005
In early May, we started holding our weekly full band rehearsals outside in the parking lot so we could practice walking in formation. Dress right, dress forward: which is to say keep in line with the person all the way to your right, and keep in line with the person in front of you. Though the number of rows could vary from year to year depending on how many people were in the band, I always held the right-most position for the saxophones (a small honor as I set the spacing between my row and the row ahead).
To give our marching group a bit more heft, it included band members from 7th through 12th grades. A couple of 6th graders would get the "honor" of carrying the banner in front. For drum major, a few factors weighed in to the choice: would his or her instrument be missed from the group? did he or she want to do it? and most importantly, could he or she fit into the small white uniform with gold trim?
The rest of us wore maroon suits with gold stripes down the sides of the pants, a white overlay with a stiff uncomfortable collar, and the stupid tall fuzzy hats. Unfortunately, the uniforms were bought when the band still marched for a Halloween parade, so they were made of heavy wool. For certain portions of the parade (it was actually 2 small parades), the band had to stand in the full sun while several speeches were made, the poem "In Flanders Fields" was read by a pretty, attention-hungry girl from the band, and "Taps" was played and then played again in the distance for an echo effect. Here we'd lose one to three people to heat exhaustion despite my Mom's efforts.
Of her own volition, she brought water and passed the bottles through the ranks during the speeches. They were the original (now old) style green Gatorade bottles with the long straw coming out of the top. Eventually we convinced our band director to let us take off the helmets during the speeches, and still we were all dripping with sweat.
The parade started in one town cemetery and ended in the other. There we dispersed, stripping off sweaty layers, packing up instruments, and walking to the VFW for free sodas. Then I'd go home, rinse off, and change clothes before heading to the annual picnic at our band director's house. Getting up for the parade may not have been what I wanted to do at the time, but it's certainly memorable.
29 May 2005
'Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth,' said Legolas.
(The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien)
Though there is no deed of mine that I would deem great, I find comfort in these words for there are accomplishments from my past of which I was proud that have diminished in importance over time. I wonder if it's a trait peculiar to Americans to assume you're only as good as the next thing you do, no resting on laurels and all that. A first novel or film can be great, but if their second doesn't surpass it, many sink to the level of one-hit-wonder. That's unfortunate, a detriment to creativity.
26 May 2005
These figures have been sitting on my desk for over a week waiting for me to shoot and then post about them. It was a comment I made yesterday on Nickerblog that finally spurred me to action; I realized that without thinking I'd acknowledged my love of sci-fi in a way that made me sound like a total geek. I don't think of myself as one even though I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy; I'm just a person that likes great stories in whatever form or genre they may take.
And now at the risk of sounding more geeky, I'll get back to the figures: I rescued them from a bag of other dolls, figures, and assorted plastic limbs that my mom found in her basement. For years, I've kept a lone storm trooper figure as a token of my affection for the early films. Not the best symbol perhaps, but it was all I had (I wasn't about to spend some obscene amount of money for some e-Bay still-in-the-box character- less geeky, right?). Anyway, that's why discovering Chewie and Obi-Wan was so cool to me even if Ben is missing his light saber. Also cool is reading the copyright info stamped into the plastic: they're all from 1977. Now if only I could find Han.
25 May 2005
I love that sound of basketballs hitting the ground, the backboard, the rim, swishing through the net. I wish I had my own hoop to play at. Sometimes I think of asking to play across the street, but it seems too weird, as if I'd be interfering in some alternate universe version of my high school days. In my glimpses of the kids across the street, I see another life I could've lead here. Not really since I would've had to have been a different type of person than I am; perhaps it's just a view of other possible lives to be had on this street at the age I was when I first moved here. Lives that seem more popular and easy-going than my adolescent experiences here, but then all I see is surface: walking home from the bus, getting picked up by friends, pulling the trash barrels in, or mowing the lawn. Who am I to judge the difficulty or ease of their experiences from my tremendously slim vantage and why do I think of it at all? Just another means of reviewing my life and my choices I suppose.
23 May 2005
Where will I want to be in a year (geographically and career-wise)?
Answer: I won't know until next year, although I know it won't be different from now unless I start making some changes.
Unfortunately, my choices now all hinge on speculation. It's as bad as that annoying interview question: where do you see yourself in 5 years? I feel like I'm doing well if I don't picture myself dead. O' for some clarity.
21 May 2005
Clouds have covered the moon and my mind alike is in shadow. The moon at least peers out on occasion bright and clear through the trees. If only I had some career I wanted to pursue, something to hold my interest for at least a decade. If I make the move, I will likely take one of the office jobs I keep calling a waste of my time here, only I'd be in a place with possibly better social opportunities. Though I like the area as far as I've seen, I do not readily see any larger career I could pursue there. I know there's nothing much for me here, so that's knowing something. I need more specifics and then... then I need to make choices.
20 May 2005
I love living in a place where I can hit a matinee of SW opening weekend with no hassle: no lines, no waiting of any kind: just walk up and buy a ticket. Since I generally hate crowded theaters, I took the precaution of attending a showing before schools let out, and it paid off admirably with an audience size of about 10. I'm still kind of amazed they had showings at 3:45 and 6:00 AM this morning- I doubt they had more than 6 people between both shows.
All this is in contrast to my LA movie going experiences. In particular, I remember going with a friend to see Titanic three months after it'd come out. The showing we'd wanted to attend was sold out so we bought tickets to see it 2 hours later since it was still showing on multiple screens. After bumming around Burbank for a couple hours, we waited in line to get into the theater. Our showing was sold out as well so the theater was packed. During the previews, the man sitting behind me sneezed on my neck. Throughout the whole film, a Chinese man next to me kept repeating lines from the film just after they'd been said, and then he would turn to his companion and translate it into Chinese. That film never had a prayer at sucking me in.
Hooray for empty theaters!
19 May 2005
On the way home, we took a different route and passed a yard with some ponies, a mostly black adult goat, and two white miniature or pygmy goats butting heads. If I'd just read that I'd picture the charge and tangle of horns whipping violently about, but in this case the little goats just sauntered up to one another and put their heads together to play or merely satisfy an itch they each had on the top of their heads. They were adorable.
In the yard of my dreams, I can imagine being greatly amused by a couple of laid back mini-goats.
17 May 2005
16 May 2005
15 May 2005
"What do you think we were doing last year on May 15th?" my dad called from the hallway. Mom was washing up in her bathroom and didn't hear him; I had just globbed an excessive amount of lotion onto my palm and was easing it back into the dispenser. He walked up to the open doorway of my bathroom and said, "I guess you guys didn't hear me."
"No, I did, but I figured mom didn't." The answer to his question had already come to me: last year in May, we'd all been in Ventura and the only distinctive outing that came to mind was a boat trip to an island national park.
Before I could bother to say as much out loud, Dad announced, "We went to Anacapa. A year ago we were getting soaked and freezing our asses off."
Cutting across the ocean swells had caused a lot of water to surge over the boat's edge, much of it hitting me in the face. My raincoat had shielded the rest of me from most of it, and after a brief respite at the top of the island, my shorts had mostly dried out. I don't remember freezing. What I do remember distinctly is that Anacapa is where I lost my favorite sunglasses. Does lost even apply if you know where you left them but were just unable to retrieve them? That was perhaps the worst part of the loss.
I'd found the shades a few years earlier when I was visiting my parents. At one time they were probably my brother's; they were definitely from the eighties. The frames were black plastic and narrow, but not too narrow. The lenses were mirrored and curved around the sides making them excellent for driving. Since they were old, I was concerned that they wouldn't meet current standards for blocking UV radiation. I spent several weeks looking for a new pair like them and couldn't find anything close. I changed my tactics and found a place to test the shades; they blocked 92% of the UV rays and the technician said that was good enough. From then on, they were the only pair I'd wear. I felt cool in those shades as well as protected by their mirrored lenses. They were out of step with current trends but in step with my outlook. I loved those shades.
On the plateau of Anacapa, I took a lot of photographs. Sunglasses get in the way of shooting, so I hung them from my t-shirt collar while I explored. Having done this often, I knew I only had to be careful not to lose them if I bent over. The boat that took us to the island was on a strict schedule and being late for its return meant being stuck on the island overnight with no provisions or supplies. The time to leave was rapidly approaching so I made my way back past the spartan welcome center and paused at the base of a flagpole to get my gear in order. I placed my hat, camera, backpack, and sunglasses on the ground so I could put on the shirt and jacket tied around my waist. I thought more people would be heading back to the boat at this point and surmised I might be early. As I put my camera in its case and secured it in my backpack, a few stragglers appeared, and I realized that everyone had probably already descended the stairs down the side of the cliff to the dock which meant I was running late. I gathered my stuff and hustled to the stairs. There were a lot of people on the landing, but they had started loading the boat. I found my parents and waited to get on.
The swells were significant, so you had to wait for the boat to rise up to the dock's edge before stepping over. Then the boat would drop 6 feet and then rise again for the next passenger. Though there was a crew mate on the dock and one on the boat to help people across, some people stepped at an off moment and needed to be pulled back to the dock. Sometimes the swell dropped more rapidly than expected effectively removing the floor from the person who'd just stepped over. I don't have a fear of heights, but this was daunting. The two women helping people across were accustomed to it and attended to each person with a smile. We were on a schedule so there was no time for phobias; the second time the boat rose for me, I stepped across.
This time I opted to sit in the back of the boat preferring seasickness to getting drenched. I watched the boat rise and fall while passengers stepped aboard. I reached for my sunglasses and they weren't hanging from my shirt; I checked all my pockets, tore through my backpack, and looked around me on the boat: they were gone. I looked up at the twelve flights of black metal stairs leading to the island's plateau. My sunglasses were sitting under that damn flagpole just where I'd left them. There were only a handful of people left to board, and even if they would let me off (which I seriously doubted), they would be done loading passengers before I could climb the 153 stairs, retrieve my shades, and return. Time to act shortened with each rise of the boat. Maybe someone picked them up and would turn them in to lost & found. Maybe I could ask the crew to look for them when they returned the next day. Maybe my sunglasses are still somewhere on the boat. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Though I did force myself later to ask a crew mate if they were in the lost & found, I knew they were gone. All the maybes had just been thoughts to make myself feel better for not even attempting to get off the lurching boat to retrieve them. In my heart, I knew they were too cool to turn in, so I tried to picture the new pair I would replace them with already knowing I'd never find a pair just like them.
I was morose for days, the glaring sun a constant reminder of my failure. In a store in Santa Barbara, I did find a couple of comparable pairs, but they were designer frames costing $150 or more. Considering I'd just lost a pair, I wasn't willing to make that investment. Eventually I found a pair for eight bucks (I really should've bought a spare pair) that I've grown fond of. The frames are lighter, still black, with a sort of boxy narrow look with near black lenses, more modern.
When Dad brought up Anacapa this morning, I tried to stifle my loss with memories of the island's impressive vistas, but they just weren't as important to me. I miss my old shades.
14 May 2005
Nearly every afternoon, my parents drive to Dunkin' Donuts for their midday jolts. 1 medium coffee black, no sugar; 1 medium coffee with just milk. If I'm along for the ride, I typically get nothing, but occasionally I'll feel like a chocolate glazed donut. The name is misleading since a number of franchises use the same name to describe two different donuts: one is a glazed donut with chocolate icing, the other a chocolate cake donut with a sugar glaze. I'm only interested in the latter but am always resigned to the fifty/fifty shot I have of getting what I want in the same way that when I ask for bacon, I request it burnt but have never sent it back if it was soggy.
Since my dad does the driving and hence the ordering, it can become a complex request. Within the car, we'll go through what I actually mean even though I've told him to just say, "chocolate glazed donut." Then he goes through the rigamarole over the intercom which embarrasses me and is exacerbated by his hearing loss. The only way really to be sure is to look in the bag once they hand it over.
One particular day, we had all successfully received what we wanted, and my dad pulled over on a back road so he could take a sip. It's not a place I would've stopped as it was fairly industrial, but at least we were in the semi-shade of a tree. Ahead of us, another car stopped at the edge of a parking lot that met our road. An old man got out and when I next looked up, an arc of piss was hitting the base of a tree. "Lovely," my dad commented.
"Yeah," I agreed. Mom was sitting in back and probably couldn't see, so we didn't draw her attention to it. Though the old man was a hundred or so feet from us, I wondered why he wasn't facing away or on the other side of the tree. I looked at his car and got my answer: he had a passenger and was facing away from her. Classy.
If nothing else, I felt good about my instinct not to park there.
12 May 2005
The search is what everyone would undertake if he were not stuck in the everydayness of his own life. To be aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.
11 May 2005
Except for a blonde woman who appeared incredibly bored as she leaned on the counter, the salon was empty; I took it as a good sign and hoped she wasn't just a receptionist. She wasn't, so we walked back to her chair.
For the first time since my early teen years, or possibly before, I skipped the shampoo despite knowing how much better it is for your cut to skip the shampoo at home and have them do it so they can cut your hair wet. I shed a great deal, and the last time I got my hair cut, the woman washing my hair commented that there was enough hair in the sink to make a toupee; I was so embarrassed (and still am apparently) I refused to face that scenario again even though I'm now thousands of miles from that hairdresser.
"So what do you want done?"
"Just cut it off to here." I gestured along my chin.
She spritzed my hair damp and continued, "Do you do this every summer?"
"Pretty much." In reality, it was only the second year I'd gone from long to short (usually it's just short), but I understood she was making sure I wouldn't be shocked with 5 inches less hair. We talked for a couple of minutes about people who do freak out which always seemed excessive to me: it's hair, it'll grow out.
Another hairdresser walked in and answered the phone. My hairdresser ignored it until the second excitedly proclaimed, "It's for you, and it's a man." She excused herself to take the call, and I gave her a worldly nod.
She soon returned and snipped a few last strands. From a drawer, she pulled out an electric razor to "clean up" my neck. When my brother and I were both in our teens, he confided to me, "Guys don't like girls with hairy necks." That's currently the pinnacle of brotherly advice I've received in my lifetime.
The buzzing stopped and she set the razor down. "So what now?"
It took me a second to realize she was asking what kind of styling I wanted. "Nothing."
"Do you want me to blow it dry?"
"Do you want any product?"
"Ok." She pulled the cape off my neck, shaking my locks to the floor. "That's the easiest cut I've had in a long time."
As I walked out, I realized it was the easiest cut I've had in ages as well. The whole thing took less than 7 minutes including her man diversion. She never asked me what I do for a living, if I'm a student, or how long I've lived here. She didn't gasp upon discovering a small streak of grey hair I've had since I was sixteen or point out the new single silver strands I've started to notice here and there. Her disinterest produced my great satisfaction.
10 May 2005
09 May 2005
Originally uploaded by nomad claire.
It's hard for me to recall a time when I was shorter than an informational plaque, but there I am standing next to the lunar module at Cape Canaveral.
(Click the photo for a larger version.)
08 May 2005
For those of you who've never met Friday, she's a very particular cat. On most accounts we get along rather well, but it's worth mentioning that most people do not have a great deal of success with her. Even all of the vet's staff dread Friday which accounts for the literal, big black 'X' on her chart.
On my first try, she really didn't want to leave her sunny windowsill so I didn't press the issue. The second attempt got further, but she ran off after spitting out the pill. We had a long talk about the importance of her taking her medication. (Of all things, she's an epileptic cat.) I gave her time to think about her behavior, and it's time I try again.
As I'm here typing, you can tell I'm not relishing the idea. She was much more well behaved when I gave her a pill the other day when Al was next to me. Figures. Thus far, Al's the only one who can give Friday her pills without inducing intense trauma.
Ok, I can do this. Maybe I'll just put on a few more protective layers before I head downstairs to try again.
07 May 2005
06 May 2005
At this moment, I have ten rolls of unexposed film sitting on a shelf in my room. It started with five rolls this past winter. I'm particular with my prints and have been pleased with the efforts of Photoworks for years. Though they are more expensive than a local drugstore, their print quality is higher. Periodically they offer discount coupons, and it is in waiting for a particular one that I shot five more rolls. I hate feeling that as soon as I give in and mail the film, the $10 off processing coupon will arrive by email, but since they are promoting other new products right now, it could be a very long wait, and that's not good for the film.
Beyond the expense, I wonder if they're worth developing at all, not because they'll be bad shots, but because I already have thousands of photos which do nothing but sit in diligently labeled envelopes. Many of the shots deserve more than that; otherwise, they may as well remain my personal mental snaps.
That said, the 1981 episodic version will always hold a fond place in my memory.
04 May 2005
You will step on the soil of many countries.
Lucky numbers 2, 7, 10, 12, 13, 20
Of course this could be some cruel trick wherein the prophecy is fulfilled some day I take my niece to Epcot and there's a world dirt exhibit. But for tonight, I will enjoy the luck that lead me to choose the cookie with this fortune in it.
In my optimistic mind's eye, 35 is when I'm confident, focused, and successful on my terms. It's been that way for a couple of years though, and I haven't changed much, so I'm not convinced I'll pull it off.
03 May 2005
I can't picture doing anything for that long- except possibly writing, but it's not like you become aid to the assistant novelist and work your way up to author. Initially though, I need to convince myself that there is a future decades away that I need to invest in now, that it's worth the effort.
02 May 2005
Originally uploaded by nomad claire.
Mom ran into two of our neighbors today; they live diagonally behind us and have 3 daughters (I would guess 6, 4, and brand-new). They had seen the bear (of which I'm immensely jealous) as well as the wild turkey.
With a humorous glint in her eye, Mom relayed to me that they'd named the turkey Tyler. It didn't seem amusing to me, but rather obvious that the turkey deserved a name because I'd already named him Fred; I just hadn't told anyone. When I mentioned this to my mom, she said, "Maybe his name's Fred Tyler."
"Or Tyler Fred," I offered.
But now it's been a few hours and their name has grown on me. Turkey Tyler, Tyler the Turkey- it just sounds right.
01 May 2005
Mom pulled over and the three of us set chase. Within moments we discovered that turkeys can run fast, and the field was wildly uneven, full of holes and ditches. After 50 feet or so, I stumbled and slammed my knees into the ground. They hurt but the whole enterprise was too entertaining for me to be upset by skinned knees. The turkeys were out of reach, but it was just as well, we admitted on the walk back to the car, since none of us knew what to do if we caught up to one.