Saturday, September 15, 2012

Living In A Tin Can

This weekend was the Tin Can Tourist - 5th Annual Northeast Regional Rally at Sampson State Park. Nancy has always had a soft spot in her heart for Airstreams, Shastas and Teardrop trailers. This pales though, when compared to her love of vardos (gypsy wagons). At this rally, we found trailers of all sorts. I would guess at over 30 different makers, maybe more. Lots of home made trailers. Copious amounts of restoration and refurbishing. Labors of love, all of them.

In some cases, they were a vintage moment captured in time. Some trailers were very obviously lived in all the time, kids and pets included. It was a fascinating mix, both of trailers and people. What was most fascinating was the sheer number of people we ran into that I had no idea participated in the Tin Can Tourist group. Made me realize that I need to get to know more of these folks. I know it isn't terribly practical for us to run out and buy ourselves an Airstream Bambi... but getting a chance to see how it would feel was definitely a treat.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shorter Days and Longer Shadows

When the kids return to school and the air begins to have a chill in the morning, I am taken back. This week marks the third year since I went in for my colon surgery. So much has happened in these past few years. I've decided that rather than continuing to write about the coma experience on this blog, I am moving it to a new blog:

Feel free to follow along. I have reposted most of the stories from both of my older blogs... the clay blog and then the later photo blog. Where I could, I reposted the images that I included in my original posts.

I found one of my notebooks from last year, and realized that I had jotted down over three pages of notes with each line demarking a unique coma dreamtime experience. There is plenty to write and thankfully lots of time to make it happen. I look forward to hearing what people think on reading some of this material. It sure is odd seeing the words on the page as opposed to the memories in my head.

I guess this is the long way of saying that from now on my posts here will be about my photography process and the subsequent images. All the story stuff has moved. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Surprises in Chinatown

Nancy and I spent this past Saturday walking through Chinatown in NYC. We had briefly visited Philadelphia's Chinatown three years ago during the NCECA clay conference. At that time we joked about how we had never visited NYC with the intention of just wandering through Chinatown. Absolutely worth it.

By getting off the main drag, we were able to be a part of the community as opposed to watching it pass by. I saw vegetables that I had never seen offered before in grocery stores. I saw more varieties of fish and shellfish than I have ever witnessed in our markets. And the smells! At noon, the aroma was fantastic... but by 5pm as we headed out, the fragrance became more of a stench. I blame the 85 degree day with nearly 100% humidity.

I think what I enjoyed most about our stroll through Chinatown (and Little Italy) was the constant surprise. We saw so many massage parlors, herbalists and pharmacies. They had at least one or more on each block. Just the same, there were gift shops tucked into the most tiny of corners and pockets of the street. Following Nancy, we ended up in an upstairs workspace for a business that primarily made frames for Chinese paintings and stone chops for use as signature stamps. While waiting for the gentleman to finish attending to other customers, I poked my head into his storeroom and stumbled on two tall glass bookcases filled with Chinese pottery from pre-historic all the way through export porcelain of the 1700s. It was the most amazing collection I have ever seen outside of a museum. Definitely was not what I was expecting. Surprises were everywhere this weekend!

There is so much I could say about this image... but in the end, if you don't think this is funny, nothing I could say would convince you anyway.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How Should I Feel?

Earlier this week this is how I felt.

Tonight, my girl is struggling with "friend" issues at school. It makes me mad when someone upsets my family. A few days ago I got a rather condescending comment on my blog. Left me feeling surprisingly vulnerable. I am sure the dizziness and vertigo aren't helping matters any.

I don't like feeling this stressed or angry. These issues will pass, with time. In the meanwhile, as I sit here staring at my feelings, I feel like for the first time I have been able to graphically show the tumult I feel... and somehow that visual depiction speaks to me. It isn't who I want to be, but it definitely is who I was at the time.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hell is a Lonesome Place

Hell is a lonesome place.

Dark, wet, and sticky. Smells like the ass-end of a Burger King dumpster on a hot summer's day.

My friends aren't here. This is hell.

If I had friends here it wouldn't be so bad.

The tables in hell are made from perforated metal... large holes maybe an inch across, and then dipped in some grippy plastic. The tops of the tables curve downward slightly, like they were left out in the sun just a touch too long and started to droop.

None of the chairs in hell are comfortable. They either have no backs, or they rock side to side. Find the perfect chair only to realize that the back is broken as you lean back and nearly fall. Stand up and find yourself covered in itchy pet fur, bits of torn wool and reeking of stale urine.

In hell the televisions are always on. Nothing you want to see is on... but the TV strobes in and out of your vision no matter where you look. Compelling, numbing and terrifying at the same time. The audio track fails to sync so the newscaster's voice sounds too much like a detergent commercial.

Hell's designer should be fired on the basis of creating false promises. Everywhere that should be clean is anything but. Places that should be hidden from view, you are forced to walk through. Escalators that lurch and stagger. Handrails wait with splinters and smears of mucus left behind by toddlers too young to know better.

The custodial crew in hell expect everything to be recycled. Not just the good stuff. Everything. When you line up for your meal tray, and try to catch a glimpse of the kitchen, it looks like the food was just pulled out of garbage bags and broken milk crates. It is the smell that gets you though. The same salty, hot oil... the knowing scent of fried something or other. Your mouth waters before you notice the sickly sweet smell of rancid putrification.

In hell there are no bathrooms. Never mind a long line, there are no bathrooms. And worse still, you always need to pee. Every dark corner looks appealing as a place to stop and urinate until you realize that is exactly what everyone else has done. The pain comes in waves. Nausea mixed with sheer terror at having to keep waiting for a real bathroom. There has to be a bathroom somewhere. But there isn't. Hell's plumbing was designed by a general surgeon.

All of the voices in hell combine fingers on a chalkboard with toddler wailing. The resultant reverberation makes conversations sound like the clamor of an engine room on a cruise ship. In hell, you can see the horrific waves of halitosis as people cajole one another. Eventually, even your own inner voice starts to sound like your neighbor's cat in heat at two in the morning.

In hell, your fellow travelers are the bastards who screwed up everything they touched in your life. They are the assholes who broke your heart, teased you, molested you, chose you last for games on the schoolyard. Remembering the spilled milk, torn clothes, bitter iron in your mouth mixed with salty tears and the slurping back of the snot that just won't stop running down your nose... these are the people standing next to you everywhere you go in hell.

There is no view in hell. I tried for over a year to find a place from which to see out. I looked for a window, but all the windows just led to more halls, rooms, and escalators. There is no outside in hell. Everything is wrapped up in the dusty oily resinous exhaust that builds up between the acrid cleaning sessions that happen so infrequently. Touch anything and that grime finds its way on to you with even the slightest brush. Mirrors laugh at your reflection.

I kept waiting for a phone call in hell. All of the cell phones in hell ring incessantly. Not mine. I was surprised to see that there is cell reception in hell. Probably because of AT&T. To this day, I am not sure if that call would have been a pardon or my final sentencing.

I was in hell for over a year. Trying to tell time in perpetual twilight is like vertigo for the timeline.

Next week I begin the observance of my third year since entering the coma. This story was just one of many dozens that came from that experience.