091105 – Yesterday.
Seventh floor, somewhere in Chocolate City, just down the street from the Big White Building where all the troubles of the world are born. Wringing an existence from this town means elevator speeches, and learning when to nod your head and just say “Yeah…”
Listening to: Clutch, Killing Joke and Nick Cave, amped off my face on a cup of heavy fuel – Colombian, black, two sugars. Waiting for: assignment feedback.
My task, photograph a roomful sullen adults attending what must be the single most boring event on the planet; a teleconference, in which a wisened figure in enormous glasses drones on about contractual requirements, and the proper formating thereof: “Now when I… started doing this in nineteen seventy… five, we didn’t have… the same template… that you see on the screen. We had something… different.”
I can geek out on most anything. Add this to my ‘except’ list.
I enter quietly and wait against the back wall, waiting, thinking it through. How to shoot this? Low light, and the room looks empty, uninteresting. Lining them up against a wall won’t work, and whatever interest they have in the subject matter must be preserved in order to look real.
The instructor calls for a break and I spring into action, explaining myself and my purpose as I begin rearranging some of the furniture, visually reducing the size of the room. Moving with certainty and speaking authoritatively will take you far in this world.
“Uh, excuse me? Why is this photo being taken?” The demanding voice of dissent belonged to a dumpy, dour-faced thing toward the back, a half-empty bottle of Diet Product Placement on the table before her.
“Just doing my job, ma’am.”
“Well, I don’t want to be in it.” Arms crossed over her chest, disapproval written across her forehead. Good luck, wild horses. “Why can’t you just do a group photo or have us stand in front of the screen?”
“That takes you out of context, ma’am.” We are nothing without our manners. Thumbs are good, too. “I was assigned to capture a certain shot a certain way. Putting you in front of the projector means you get a bright light in your eyes, resulting in an even funnier face.” Oops. I’d taken my mouth off of the ‘safety’ setting again.
“Who do you work for?” The rest of the room were subtly ignoring her, or helping me move furniture. I remained motionless, meeting the glare of her tired eyes. I could have been an ass about it, but I calmly fed her a string of department numbers, and name-dropped my supervisor, who sits pretty far up on the food chain. I ended the sentence with “ma’am.”
“Well…” Her response was non-commital, as she thought this through. I hadn’t really won, and she hadn’t really lost. I got my shots, left. The rest of the day crawled by like a bowl of unhappy oatmeal.
Last night: my train to Maryland smelled like a lion had taken a crap in the air ducts. I tried to picture this taking place.
Later, another coffee house, another page filled, another pen spitting its last. The never-ending quest to capture the blitzkrieg butterfly of the brain. Feel the bright red burn of an idea, the resulting smell of smoke and burning tissue, the urge to capture a concept – seal it in a jar, paste it in a book, put it on display, cup it in the hands, take a picture of it, sketch it in pen: “There is something else in here with me, something staring back from behind the curtain!”
Listening to an older couple discuss the unsexy mechanics of relationships: household chores, bank accounts, wills. Use the following words in a sentence to your loved one: “Well, when you die…”
Watching a new relationship take hold and bloom is like watching two massive spherical computers, each bristling with spikes and amature. At the end of those arms are various ports and devices; plugs, nodes, hardware, software. These represent likes and dislikes, concerns, needs, skills, and must-haves:
“Does your port/need #11,345 mesh with my port/need 12,345? If it’s at least a v.2, we can discuss. If not, it’s a mark against. Conversely, I shall strive to meet your expectation for cleanliness, #556. My own port is a #400 series, but I make up for it with my grandmother’s recipes, represented here by nodes #223 – 470.” The sound of servos whirring, sphere rotating on their X,Y in an effort to be compatible.
“Reptiles. Yeah, now see, they’ve got scales and stuff. They have their babies in eggs. Sure, like birds. Now mammals, they have their babies live, kicking and screaming, already worrying about college, playground heartbreak, and the child’s 21st birthday hangover. Do alien species ever have to sweat this kind of shit? ‘Dragnor supped of the brew of the Lathgor, and suffered from an excess of chuth’lah.'”
There will be sandwiches,