Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Pain in my Arm and a Weight Off My Shoulders

I swung through Target this afternoon and came across their flu shot
clinic. I got there ten minutes before it was to end and to my shock
there was no line. There was only a small sign on the front of the
building letting people know it was happening, but I was so stoked! I
get one every year and usually it's a real pain in the ass finding
someplace that has them.  It's like this nagging chore floating in the
back of my head.

I signed up. How much for the shot, I asked the lady. Free if you have
Aetna, she answered. Waaah-hoooo! My lucky day. Free shots for me!
And they give me a little care package with vitamins, anti-bacterial
gel and tissues after you get the poke. Nice to get it done and out of
the way!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Some Clothes

Last night while driving on the highway a motorcycle went zooming by
me, on it a man and a scantily clad woman. She had a helmet on but I
couldn't help but think she'll wish she didn't bother with a helmet if
they wreck - she'll wish she were dead because her entire body would
get shredded up thanks to her lack of cover.

This morning I saw another helmet-related incident. This one much more
benign. I was driving around horse country in Wellington, along a back
road when I slowly passed by a mom and her daughter. The girl was
maybe four and had clearly just been riding a bike or something; She
had on sneakers, kneepads, elbow pads, a helmet, and underpants.  And
that's all.

Yes, you read that right, underpants.

I can see her in the morning getting reading, "OK, kneepads? Check!
Elbow pads? Check! Sneakers? Check! Helmet? Check!  Alright, I've got
my underpants on, I'm ready to go!

The world would be a lot more interesting if we wore the same outfits
we picked-out for ourselves when we were four.

Pulitzer Winner

Last night I went down to Delray to the Palm Beach Photographic
Center. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner in feature photography,
Renee Byer from the Sacramento Bee was going to speak and show her

Byer spent eighteen months with Cyndie and her son, Derek. Derek, who
was eleven, was diagnosed with and dying from neuroblastoma. The
family invited Byer to tell their story from beginning to end, with
hopes that it would get the word out about this leading cause of
childhood death.

I asked her how she handled the experience emotionally. Did she have
other photo assignments while working on this one and did it help?
Yes, she said. She also had an understanding husband who is also a
shooter. This led her to tell a story about her husband's birthday.
She was with Derek, and as 7pm approached, she went to Derek to let
him know she had to leave. It was her husband's birthday, she told
him. Derek, who Byer had thought to be a bit out of it at the time,
perked-up, "Birthday! Does he like Jamba Juice?" he asked her.

"Well, yes, he does," she answered.

"Where's my wallet? Where's my wallet?" Derek riffled around himself,
finally finding it. He pulled out a Jamba Juice card, something he had
received from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, or something similar. He
gave it to Byer to give to her husband. A kid basically on his
deathbed still thinking about others. It was impressive and heart
wrenching simultaneously.

I was grateful she shared that story with us.

The other interesting thing she said, was "Never ask a person how many
children they have other than the one that died. Just because a child
is dead, doesn't mean they are not still with their Mother".

It was a very interesting point.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Believe Me

Every week, I download This American Life and burn a CD (no ipod yet)
and listen to it while driving around for work. This week discussed
how to talk to kids. Talking about sex, asking good questions in
general (did you know kids are totally sick of being asked "How's
school?"). One was about a substitute teacher in a German class. One
of his students was being a pain in the ass and he went up to the kid
and whispered, "Cut the shit..." etc.  Well, the kid went to the
principal and the teacher was called into the office. In a knowing
way, the principal asked the teacher if he'd said what he was accused
of saying. He asked about it in a you-won't-get-busted-if-you-just-lie
kind of way, knowing the kid probably deserved an earful when being a
little brat in the classroom.  So, the teacher said he hadn't spoken
those harsh words and the student protested. The principal told the
student "There must have been some misunderstanding". And sent the
student on his way.

This brings me back to my childhood and makes some things clear to me.
There was a time or two when I was told that I must have misunderstood
something and that I was wrong. Now I know the adults were being
little people.

Somewhere between six and eight years old, I stole some toys from a
neighborhood friend. I knew it was wrong and I apparently wasn't very
good at it. One day, dad came into my room, where in the middle sat a
(in my memory) large brown paper bag filled with my accumulated booty.

The jig was up. I was busted.

Looking back, I'm sure Cindy Ward, my best friend Andy's mom, had
called to tell my parents I'd been lifting stuff from their house.  I
only remember stealing one thing. I mean, I know there was lots, but I
have the actually memory in my head of stealing a little hard rubber
Easter bunny from their windowsill in the kitchen. He was holding a
big colored egg or pushing a wheelbarrow with eggs in it. Something
like that. He was slightly larger than a smurf. Seems I had a thing
for holiday decorations.

So Dad sees this bag in my room, probably after he's been alerted that
his kid's a criminal, and he asks me what it is. I think I mumbled
something about " toys..."  The next thing I recall is Dad
walking me back down to Andy's house where I apologized though giant,
spasming, hiccupping, humiliated sobs, for stealing their stuff.

I do remember that. I felt physically very small standing there.

I don't know why I stole the things, it's not like I was lacking in
stuff. I do know I never stole again.

The reason the radio show made me think of this was the aftermath I
experienced after my short run-in with the law. Everyone in the
neighborhood heard about it, and I think all the parents kept an eye
on me as a result. I remember wondering why. I knew I was never going
to do it again. Why didn't they believe me when I told them the toy I
was holding while playing with their kid was a toy I had brought over
from my house. A toy that belonged to me.  One time, Kathleen Rich's
mom actually made me give her kid MY toy, because she didn't believe
me when I said it was mine.

You suck, Mrs. Rich.

Listening as an adult, I'm sure that bratty kid in the German class
deserved his harsh talking to, but I couldn't help but feel torn when
the adults passed their knowing glance and called the kid a liar.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Poopy Water

The dignified phone conversation with both parents simultaneously
prior to the end of the boil water order a few days ago...

ME -     So, we are still under a boil water notice.
MOM - Ew, what happened?
ME -     I guess they found fecal matter in the water. They don't
really know what happened. (What I meant by this was that to my
knowledge, they had not found the source of the problem).
DAD -  What do you mean they don't know?! Someone crapped in the water!

This might not be funny in type, but in person, it was all in the
delivery. I never thought my Dad putting the right emphasis on the
word "crapped" would keep me giggling days after the comment was made.

I'm such a sixth grader.

No Seatbelts

I was taking Oliver for a walk after work today. There are lots of
little side streets in my neighborhood that we rarely walk, so it was
a nice change. Lots of cool little houses back there.

While walking along one of these side streets, a small car pulled over
and as I passed it I saw there were two women, about in their
thirties, chatting in the front seat. In the back were two small
children, maybe three and five, bouncing all over the place. No seat

I always feel a bit torn in this type of situation. Do I say something
to them? That their kids should be strapped in? I always wonder about
that as far as what's appropriate.

When Shannon and I were meeting for lunch some time back, we both
noticed a car in the parking lot with two kids inside. The car was not
on and there they sat in the heat while their mother shopped nearby
(Shannon saw her get out of the car and head into a nearby store a few
minutes earlier). We both decided we would give her three more minutes
(about ten total, if that) before we would call the police on her for
leaving her kids in a hot car to fry.

But, that's different. You're not going to have a one-on-one
confrontation with this child-cooking-person like you would if you
were to approach a car and say, "Hey, you might want to get them into
seat belts."  I think the reason I am this way - timid about
confronting strangers - is my fear of how they will react. Will I get
a "You're not their mother!"?   I don't know.

What I do know is I shouldn't give a shit about how they are going to
react to me. Really, whatever they say may likely be out of
embarrassment that they got caught being a jackass of a parent.  When
I leave it be and say nothing, I feel like a bit of a jackass of a

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Casing Out a Coffee Shop to Plant a Bomb?

Here in West Palm we are still, after about a week, under a boil water advisory.
So, today I was sent out to photograph the closed Starbucks in various
locations in the city. On Clematis Street downtown, I was crouching
below the large "We are Closed" sign in an effort to get rid of glare
when a cop on a bike approached, "Can I ask what the purpose for your
taking pictures is?"
"The Palm Beach Post" I tell him, and he is satisfied with that
answer. In my head (in this what if scenario), I ask him "What's the
purpose of your nosiness and stupidity?"

I'm wondering to myself what possible questionable thing could I have
been doing with my camera that would warrant asking. I mean, even if I
was shooting into the shop, I'm still on public property.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Nothing Much Going On

I haven't been writing much lately, which, if you are one of my five
readers, you've noticed. Not too much of note going on.

Today was a stellar day - one of my work cameras has appeared to have
vanished into thin air. Perhaps it's in the land of unmatched socks
and pencils that have been used down to stubs and are no longer useful
(read "Owl at Home" Tear-water Tea and you'll know what I'm talking

'Point is, I shot an assignment yesterday afternoon and went straight
back to the office from there. I opened the trunk, took the disk out
of the camera (while not removing the camera) and went straight
upstairs to photo to file the images. It was around noon today, when
Loren sent me out to shoot something regarding the seemingly unending
boil water notice we've been on, that I found no camera in the trunk.

In retracing my steps, I did not even open the trunk, let alone take
the camera out of it. There are no signs of break-in anywhere on the
car, although I've heard Hondas are easy to get into. Maybe I've gone
crazy and can't for the life of me remember bringing the camera with
me into Publix and proceeding to leave the camera in the produce isle
while picking out the perfect asparagus. It appears the damn thing is
just gone.

I appreciated - in these scary times of tight budgets and whatnot - my
boss not freaking out at me. For now, I'll shoot with one camera and
hope to get a call from a pawn shop (the gear is all engraved). Either
that or I'll have a Jan-Brady-losing-her-aunt's-special-necklace
moment and realize that the camera fell from my neck when I got up in
the night to open the window and lean out to look at the stars.

Oh, wait, I have bars on my bedroom window.

I'm screwed.