Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Documentary: Observation Exercise
8am - this is my weekday ritual of wrestling my 7-year-old out of bed and into his clothes. This child needs something like 13 hours of sleep to function well, so morning always comes too soon. His reticence and petulance are most evident at this time of day - just check out that body language. It's also the time of day when I rediscover, over and over again in low light, how long and lithe this body has become that I once built inside of me.
9:30am - my younger two boys have been told that they cannot play video games unless they can agree on what to play in advance. That proved too difficult, so they resorted to pretending the laundry baskets are rocket ships again. (Which may have been my plan all along.) My 3-year-old is potty training, so he only wears pants when he leaves the house. His little legs have lost most of their baby fat (that light on his legs!), but he's still got it in his cheeks. And he still fits in a laundry basket.
We call her Bunny, and despite being only 18-months-old, she has developed a radar for portable electronic devices and she gets laser-beam-intent on figuring out how to navigate them, while sitting on the kitchen floor. Such a digital native. Also - this captures the conundrum of her hair really well. She won't hold still enough to do a real braid, so we go through a dozen disposable hair elastics every day, and it takes up to 20 minutes to wrestle them all into her hair. The not-quite-symetry in this shot sort of complements her intensity.
Dishes - one of the tasks I tackle multiple, multiple times every day. Because I didn't want to try to find beauty in cleaning my boys' bathroom. Poetry in the Prosaic. Emily in the reflection. Over and over and over.
I did a lot of gardening in the late morning, mostly preparing beds and soil for planting that should have happened last week. But the light outside was too harsh for a good photo. So right as I was finishing I dropped my gloves and trowel on the rug in my garage and grabbed the camera. I finally managed a photo with enough depth of field to have something in focus. I am a visual texture junkie, and so these lambskin gloves make me happy to look at.
My 7-year-old came home from school with his April writing journal. This is an entry about how he was kind when he let his younger brothers play with his plush snakes while he was at school, (he would never think to share when it was inconvenient for him - the turkey) but I love it because it captures a lot of things about our mornings. My son has drawn himself with his red and blue star backpack and his scooter, and our neighbor that comes and waits in our front room every morning while my son drags his feet brushing his teeth and getting his jacket on is standing outside the front door. He even drew his 5-year-old brother wearing his favorite color, green.
Bob left this behind after class. Everybody stayed a few moments after Night and Fog ended to process and decompress, and I think this poor stem is a pretty apt metaphor for how emotionally bereft we all felt.
The carpet and rug at the top of the East Stairs of the D-Wing of the HFAC. Mostly because I love all the texture going on there. The patterns in both carpets, and the difference in frieze between the two fibers, and that nubby little strip of rubber between them.
As soon as I got home from class, this girl was ready for bed. She is a thumb-sucker of the first order. She also has a blankie that she has attached herself to. (See the fabric between her fist and her neck? It's also under her pointer finger as she manages to simultaneously suck that thumb and rub her sweet spot on the blanket) I also kind of love that shine in her hair, because thank-heaven my babysitter bathed everyone and got them into pajamas for me. And the way her hair falls in her eyes is maddening in real life, but adds a lot of interest to this photo. Also - taking this photo while holding her was a trick, but it almost captures the way she clings to me when I'm coming and going. I am her third comfort item.
My 5-year-old, and his joy-face, upside down, hair still wet from his bath. Chewing on his shirt, and his scar on his cheek from the stitches he had to get after splitting his face open in preschool a while back - all reminders of his apraxia. I don't see the scar when I look at him anymore, but I see it when I'm looking at photos. And yes - those are Boba Fett pajamas, and they are compounding his joy. He was facing the window at this moment, and the outer light is complementing his inner light really well. See those catchlights in his eyes?
While my boys were doing gymnastics in the living room, I looked out the front window and noticed that the setting sun was backlighting these pansies so they sort of glowed. I hoard moments like that in a special spot in my brain, a reserve for when life seems colorless. I had to set the camera on the ground, back it up for focus and zoom in to get a shot, but I think it captures some of the luminescence that was happening.
And while I was in the front yard, I also got a shot of my tree peonies, because they are gorgeous, but they last about 3 days. Fleeting, fleeting ruffley things, in the most electric shade of pink. The idea that this photograph will infinitely outlive its subject is a microcosm of the nature of photographic evidence. Almost all photographic images can outlive their live subjects. Not only will this moment pass, and this flower pass, but ultimately this photographer will pass too. So this record of what I saw is also a record of me.