Darkroom Adventures

I've been sick since Sunday and it's sucked quite a bit. It's been (not unlike the stock market) inconsistently getting better and worse and better and worse over the past few days. (Not necessarily in that order.) But I've been downing orange juice like no other, and hopefully the combination of rest, juice, tea, and medicine has started turning the tide. Honestly: who gets sick to start off a semester of school?

After an afternoon nap, I was feeling well enough this evening to spend some time in the craft studio darkroom. Because hey, I finished this roll of film almost three weeks ago and I wasn't about to get lazy and pay someone else to do it. And I get cabin fever all too easily; I can't think of more than five instances where I spent more than 18 consecutive hours at home.

In my negatives binder, the last page is dated "Dec 2006 - Jan 2007." Damn. It's been a while.

From the Flickr page:

Gabe

Gabe is THE most adorable kid around.

I took this picture, and then he ran up to me and tugged at my shirt saying, "Let me see! Let me see!"

"It's not a digital camera," I told him. "It's film."

He walked away with a dejected "Oh..."

I sighed. "...I guess you don't even know what that is." None of our family friends still use film.

Kids these days.

I love the bordered negative carrier I was using, by the way.

Some selects from the Facebook set of New Year's photos:
Toasting
Group portrait

Those shot glasses were made out of frozen Kool-Aid, by the way.

And oh, what the hell. A photo of Jenn's cats that we're taking care of right now, because it's the first thing I've shot with my good digital camera in almost a month now.
Kitty Love

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In other news, I checked out House of Leaves from the library today, because Glenn mentioned it to me and it seemed like something I'd enjoy. Read up on the formatting of the book and you'll see why I'm so interested in it.

I've already got a few things to say and a few quotes to hand out. Stay tuned.

A Resolution

It's 21 days in, but I think I finally have a resolution.

I need to shoot more pictures. Something about the past two weeks has been nagging at me to do so. Opportunities, messages, conversations -- everything's telling me that I miss the days of shooting like a madman.

So the moment I finish doing all of this crazy website development for the Maneater (lord help me) and some of these other freelance jobs I have going on, I really really really want to start taking up photo assignments again. Of course that's contingent on finishing that major project first.

I have a camera and lenses -- worth too many months of rent -- that I worked so hard to get... And I haven't even used it more than once or twice in two months. And that just sucks.

If all fails, it'll give me more things to post on this ol' blog of mine: I'm averaging 1-3 things per month right now. I know I love the distraction of reading other people's blogs, so I'm sure (or at least, I'm hoping) it'd be appreciated.

In the meantime, for the couple people who haven't already seen 'em: Some of the photos I got developed today. And the full album's here on Facebook, publicly accessible so you don't need an account there.

$7 roll of film in a $5 cheapo camera = priceless.

Lauren

Moody Sara

Intensity

Intensity is the word this year because I've been bringing a lot of it. I've got an attitude like "no more bullshit, I'm getting things done." I've been working for real, instead of slacking off. I've been learning new things. I've gotten out more. I've been more brutally honest. Or maybe just more brutal. Confrontational. I seem to have lost some (or a lot?) of the restraint I had.

It's come to my attention this week that I'm prone to ranting again. That my verbal assaults are more piercing and drawn out than they'd been. I've had no less than five conversations this week in which I probably came down too hard (with one of truth, frustration, anger, or depression) on the ears that had the misfortune of being tuned to my voice.

Did I really just tell her that?

Did I really just go off on him?

Maybe it's all of this work that I'm trying to get done before school starts up again.

It sure isn't the alcohol because of my relative sobriety for most of these conversations and the fact that this hadn't happened before in similar circumstances.

Maybe it's just the culmination of a lot of things that have built up for weeks, months, and years for me.

Whatever the reason, I'm evidently more high-strung than I used to be.

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A year ago I sat at my favorite coffee shop with a few friends of mine, joking around about growing up and getting old. Joking around about that "bitter old man" stereotype.

"Maybe I’ll grow up to be bitter," I told them, "just to spite all of you."

I said this with the biggest, most amused smile on my face.

"Tigas, I can’t possibly picture you ever being bitter," one of them said. The tone in her voice as if I was winning the yearbook award for "Least Likely To Be A Bitter Old Man."

I was happy and fine then, in spite of the shit I'd been through. And I really can't tell you what's changed between then and now.

Every so often I hit these low points that seem completely unrelated to anything in my life. It's a nonsensical feeling along the lines of "not having a very good time" that pops up at random occasions when (as far as I know) most of what I've got and what I'm in the middle of is as good as I could ask for. Family, friends, work, school, it's all going pretty well right now -- and how often has that happened for me in the past what, four years?

And that's part of the reason I feel like I need change so much: especially with relation to how my life is going, I don't think I'm enjoying myself as much as I used to. I have a lot of what I want, but I don't seem to want what I have. It's like I don't really feel like myself in these places and circumstances anymore.

On and off for months I've become worried that (self-prophecy be damned) I'm turning jaded and bitter at the world.

Twelve days in and I'm already wondering what this year might turn out to be.

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I know I only wrote the vague feeling and the sense of these things and not any underlying reasons. This was intentional. And there are no guesses to reasons here, either. For everyone's sake, I'd rather thoughts like that usually stay off the record.

Clean Break

Transitioning between the ramp and the highway, I burst into laughter.

It was 5 AM.

January 1.

2008.

Finally, the new year. Something to get away from what I wrongly thought would be "lucky number seven." Up to this point, sevens were always lucky for me. Ask my parents: I was born on March 7, 1987, just before 7pm, weighing in at 7lbs, 7oz. If you were like me, you'd love to believe this means something.

Finally, 2008. My symbol of finally having beaten the odds by surviving 2007.

I was laughing to myself in my car.

It was 2008. And I'd already had a couple of real good, heart-to-heart conversations this year.

To think -- one of the more uneventful crushes I had last school year... (Uneventful? Well, look at what happened to other crushes I'd had. Between "groupcest," general drama, being played, or friends and I falling for the same girl at once... sheer normalcy was uneventful in itself. Or is there such a thing as "normal" these days?)

In a strange way, it apparently wasn't uneventful as I'd thought. To me, perhaps it was, but it was a bit more connected for a few others close to me.

I'm not sure what was worse -- the mild jaw-dropping feeling I got as she spoke to me, or the odd and interesting side story that I couldn't tell her.

I should have figured things weren't actually as simple as I'd thought.

I reverted back to being shy and cautious last year and I guess that whole situation is precisely what I'd avoided. Unknowingly and jokingly, she told me that I "should be proud" of this.

I laughed to myself on the highway.

If she only knew.

---

The lowest points of this year represent the lowest I've ever felt in almost every aspect of my life: mental, productive, social, spiritual, and emotional. I remember staring myself down in the mirror not too long ago and seeing the broken shell of a persona that used to be smarter, happier, friendlier, more caring, and more enthusiastic than the man in the mirror.

Groucho Marx once said "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."

I think back to three, four, five years ago and in my mind some of those things actually seem more authentically "me" than some of the things I've done this year. Especially over the past three or four months, I feel like at times I've been becoming nothing more than a shell of a man and simply going through the motions of the day.

I've been myself before. But this wasn't it.

It's not that I'm in a bad spot right now or that my life right now is all that terrible -- far from it. But, I've been getting this feeling lately, as if I'm coming to the realization that I'm not really attached at all to these things I've surrounded myself with and the actions that I pursue day in and day out. I'm just going through motions where once I had a drive and a belief upon which I acted on.

My sense of "belonging" has been fading in and out like it's decided on something random like a coin flip.

And while I'd like to blame the past year on that reason, I know it's just part of the mess. It's like saying "my desk is messy, I should clean it" when you haven't looked at your closet yet.

I'm going to admit that I'm finally trying again. In school and in my external life. Cleaning some of that stuff up, if you will.

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Luck was on my side tonight and I want to believe it means something for the upcoming year. A couple of near-miracles, just enough to tease some hope out of me:

In a game of "up the river, down the river" (essentially a 14 card one-man "higher or lower" drinking game) I made it up the river (first seven cards) and nearly the entire way back flawlessly, only guessing the last one wrong. Never seen a perfect game in my life, and I've never seen anyone come as close as the very last card. That's damn well bringing a perfect game into the ninth inning and giving up a hit to one of the last two batters.

And in a game of beer pong, facing a six cup loss, I nearly made a miracle happen by sinking five straight cups on rebuttals. Finally, we lost on the sixth. It's like being down 30-7 going into the fourth quarter, making a miraculous comeback, but not being able to put up the final score to win the game.

If you were like me, you'd love to believe this means something. Like "I'm going to do something nearly miraculous this year, but come up just short." Hell, I hope not.

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I learned a lot about myself last year. But I also realized that I've lost track of who I actually am.

If I say I'm going to go "find myself" this year, I'm going to say it with honesty. (Or at least I'll go find a few more things to add to the list of "things I'm not.")

I'm going to go find myself and some faith. Faith in myself, my friends, my family, humanity in general, and any higher power out there. Seems like faith's been hiding from me for a long, long time now.

The sun comes up in an hour. Though I'll be asleep by then, I'll be excited for it.

Everyone here, is wondering what it's like to be with somebody else
Everyone here's to blame,
Everyone here gets caught up in the pleasure of the pain,
Everyone hides shades of shame,
but looking inside we're the same, we're all the same
And we're all grown now, but we don't know how
To get it back to good
--"Back 2 Good," by Matchbox Twenty