Dec 19 2005

2005-12-19

I haven’t had much time to write lately, too busy shooting. Here’s a couple from the weekend:

Mane
Pacific Beach

Green/Blue
Sunset Cliffs


Dec 12 2005

2005-12-12

From Sunset Cliffs:

Map


Dec 10 2005

Recognition

Standing, perhaps appearing lost or confused, a tourist, in reality analyzing the ambient light. Looking for the angle. Debating between the f/4.6 and f/3.0 at 35 millimeters. The camera’s strap is pulling against my neck, lens bag weighing my shoulder, and I nestle into the load. My finger caresses the shutter release.

A friendly honk jumps out from behind me, from the mouth of the one way street. She’s stopped in a dirty black station wagon plastered in bumper stickers. I don’t recognize her, but she’s waving, and I’m waving and returning her smile, searching for a recognition that’s dodging me. Do I know her? She’s cute, I think, but the connection is fleeting, the slow motion of an impending car accident without fear, a clarity of essence but blur of detail.

She keeps waving and smiling, tossing her head lightly in laughter – a genuine room-brightening smile, and I do the same but don’t know if I’m illuminating any room, if my smile would make you stop down your aperture.

Her brakes stutter. Another car has met her at the intersection, a car not smiling at a pedestrian, tentatively nudging past the stop sign. She has the right of way but isn’t utilizing it. She looks from me to the other car, and back to me for a final glance before accelerating into her turn.

My eyes trail her exhaust, and I wonder, Why didn’t I take a picture?


Dec 9 2005

Period

Love it, live it, use it. Even Thomas Mann and Pynchon, convoluted and extended as their sentences may be, use it. Joyce and Cummings didn’t always use it, but they were genius enough to do so. You and I are not.

When someone asks you a question, answer. Don’t hem and haw about. Affirmative, negative, expository, interrogative, or just a simple “I don’t know,” will suffice. Once you’ve made your point, stop. It’s terminal. Even a question mark has a period in it.

It seems that some people don’t believe their point has been absorbed until they are interrupted, and they’ll keep on trucking, increasingly vague, dancing around their answer, redundant, excessive, repetitious, restating in different formulations, an interminable stretch of annoyance. It’s perfectly acceptable, preferable even, to conclude your response with “Does that answer your question?” or “Does that make sense?” at which point you have reached another period. Even more confidently, just stop. Wait for them to indicate they need clarification or elaboration.

You can also utilize someone else’s period. After they’ve asked a question or made a statement you want to respond to, bask in the silence of that termination, think about your answer, allow yourself to prepare. They’ll appreciate the consideration you’re giving their thoughts.

Commas, semi-colons, colons, hyphens – ellipses even, a band of commas disguised as periods – all leave wanting, suspended. We’re looking for the followup, the resolution, and ultimately … a conclusion. Even when trailing off satisfactorily, we have an ellipses trailed by what? A period. A stop.

A period allows you to stop and rest, to appreciate Cage’s symphony. Yes, even Cage had a period to his compositions: at precisely four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cage knew the value of a period, he stretched a period from a pit stop to a stroll along the avenue. He inverted it. It was the journey. A period can be enjoyed indefinitely, there’s no requirement that space be filled with sound just for it’s own sake, an prosaic interlude between periods. Periods are not nothing, they are not the tick marks between inches that are compelling only due to that which they demarcate, they are significant in their own right. Each has it’s own flavor and characteristics, and can never be duplicated. Periods are snowflakes. Periods are fractals. Periods are books and songs and conversations and seasons and small woodland creatures. Periods are silence fraught with ambiance. Periods are.

In other words, sometimes you just need to shut the fuck up.


Dec 6 2005

Idiot

We met at a Sunnyslope party, one of the other public high schools in Phoenix. She was slender and a little taller than most of the girls I’d been out with. Large eyes with a softened Eastern European face. I most vividly remember her hair, half-coiled locks playfully falling past her shoulders, flaxen and iridescent, conspiring to reflect glimmers of summer lemons and autumn beiges. It was light, playful, and seductive all at once.

I didn’t think I had a chance with her. Everyone was flirting with her, and much more successfully than me. I allowed myself to float to the periphery, interjecting occasional jokes or comments when appropriate, or wandering about the party to see who else was about. Definitely not imposing my presence. In my detached joviality I somehow impressed her, and just before leaving, I capitalized on my departure and set a date with her for the next weekend.

In the days to follow, we’d talk on the phone while I’d deperately fight a horrible head cold. I was torn between rescheduling and following through. The thought of missing an evening with such a beautiful creature haunted me, so I just jacked myself on Sudafed and picked her up.

We had coffee, and saw “Interview with a Vampire,” hand in hand. We may have sequestered ourselves in the corner of a party later, but the next prominent frames of memory arrived during the drop-off.


“So what happened with Colleen last night, B? She’s smokin’ hot,” Gil queries over our customary evening coffee.

“Uh, yeah, not much.” I know what’s coming.

“What? She looked into you.”

“Yeah, so I really started digging this girl, and I’ve got this wicked cold, right? So when I dropped her off, I just kind of bit her neck in a sort of sexy way, you know, long and slow, like a vampire, but I didn’t want to kiss her and saddle her with this cold. It’s awful. I think she wanted the kiss.”

“You what? You dumb fuck.”

“Yeah.”

“When a girl you dig wants to kiss you, you kiss her. She knew you had a cold and she still wanted to kiss you, so you fucking _do_ it. Fuck, that girl would’ve rocked your world, she would’ve been off your lips and on your crotch in no time flat.” Gil has a sort of vulgar elegance to his logic.

“Yeah. I know. I’m a dumb-ass nice-guy. Too nice.”

“Yeah, you gotta fix that.”

“I know.”

She never returned any of my subsequent calls. This is why nice guys never get the girl (or more accurately, overly nice guys) – they never step up, even when it’s patently obvious they should. Yeah, I missed out on who-knows-what with a wonderful and attractive girl, but I also learned a hell of a lesson at a relatively early age. No, I didn’t turn into an asshole (I don’t think) – but I definitely learned to read when I needed to put on my aggressive hat. Just ‘cause you’re nice doesn’t mean that you should be everyone’s mum; people make their own decisions. Sack up and take a swing, let others deal with the consequences if they’ve already decided that they want to so.

Damn, I was an idiot.

Sometimes I still am.


Dec 3 2005

Inscrutable

She smiles with superficial saccharine in her eyes. “Can I pull you pull away from here for a few?” I’m not even facing her, I’m looking across the club to another stage.

“Pardon?” I heard her, but I’m buying time, trying to figure out how to be polite in my refusal, trying to justify why I’m at a strip club when I’m not buying.

“Private dance, honey?” toying with her brunette curls.

“No, thank you though.” I make sure she sees me turn my eyes toward another barely clad girl, a blond one, to make her think that I have my eyes on some other prize. I don’t.

Another approaches, although in jeans and a button up. She’s off duty, just hanging at work in her off hours. “Are you bored or something?”

“No, just tired.” In a way I’m lying, in a way I am bored. But if I’m looking for something else to do, it’s going to bed. I’ve never been a fan of strip clubs unless you’ve got a girl you’re there with or returning home to. Since I currently have neither, I see no reason to be at a strip joint with four guys. If I drop twenty bucks at a bar, at least I might get some interesting conversation out of my investment. I’m tempted to get a private dance, and just retire for a few minutes in a secluded area to talk, to see what makes her tick – but I’m under no delusions that these girls are doing anything but working. This is how they pay the rent, appearing salacious through some invisible wall of detachment, and I don’t want to pierce that veil. It seems more invasive than grabbing her inappropriately, violating her mind as opposed to her body.

The question could have been innocent enough, however. Perhaps she thought I was bored because she was bored, because of her assessment as this place being uncharacteristically dead, because I have this implacable face when no muscles are being used. It’s a slick blank slate, unwilling to wear whatever emotion is painted upon it, the colors sliding off and down to my feet, but inviting the attempt. I’ve been told this by many people over the years – that when not smiling, frowning, or otherwise projecting, my expression when completely relaxed is a difficult read. You can tell there’s gears turning, but there’s no noticeable manifestation.

Of course, it’s closing in on 2 AM, we’ve been all the way from Del Mar (hoping to manually stimulate serendipity, but without luck) to downtown. The driver is sober, the rest are not, and I’m somewhere in between. I’m already looking toward tomorrow, toward the December Nights and a birthday party. I don’t really want to be here, so I’m not letting my eyes linger on the women as they saunter past, I’m not smiling invitingly in their direction from across the room. I’m trying to keep from wasting their time as I know I’m not spending any money. Keep walking ladies, some other guy will be paying your rent tonight.

So my mind wanders, I fabricate stories for the girls, I create pasts and presents and futures. I wonder whose in school and what they’re studying, whose on drugs and what kinds, whose married and divorced who has boyfriends or girlfriends. I wonder what part of me is in them, and vice versa. I’d recently met a girl at UCSD going for a Bachelors in Mathematics who danced for a living, and I scan the crowd looking for hidden contemplations of Laplace transforms and non-Euclidean geometries.

I think back to my first divorce – well, not my divorce, but the first time one of my married friends got divorced, nearly ten years ago. I look for the pale skin of a wedding band removed on the girls’ second to last digit. Could I be married to a dancer? Could I be married at all? Most of the unions I’d witnessed had fallen, the only people I knew that recommended marriage where those in their first few years of marriage. I recall a line from my second novel-in-suspended-progress, _Andre thought all relationships had a ten year shelf life. If you made it past that, at least half of the couple was privately despondent, or you married a Twinkie. I wonder if I believe that.

Is a lack of desire to get married closing out opportunities, sheltering oneself from the possibility of the pain of divorce? Is it a refusal to live and experience life? Escapism, a lack of maturity, a fear of commitment? Or, alternatively, is it merely a recognition that things will always change, that life is a serious of mutable experiences, and marriage an artificial brace attempting to stifle change, an insufficient force against the juggernaut of personal evolution?

The lights go up, the bar cleared, and we’re kicked out let our fantasies weave us home through the early morning mists. Tonight, I don’t dream.