Yesterday was an amazing day. Weather conditions ranged from a light fog and heavy cloud cover, to clear skies and no breeze. There was just too much to contain in one horizon photo, I went a little shutter-happy and added an extra gallery.
To Marco Polo the world wasn’t round – it wasn’t even flat. The world was a straight line. After a fifteen-day journey you arrive in one city, then after six days in a southeastern direction you arrive in another city. The world is a list of cities and their qualities, seperated by briefly mentioned camel rides, mountain passes, and stretches of desert.
Jeff Schuler thought Beans For Breakfast came from a line in Billy Madison (my old roommate Jon’s favorite movie). Google finds hundreds of other uses of the phrase, so to relieve tension and satisfy my vast readership, I’ll admit that I made the name up all by my own self.
It was the title of my unfinished Nanowrimo novel. The main character would occasionally fry up bacon, eggs, toast, tomatoes, and baked beans for breakfast. He’d picked this up from his father, who had picked it up from his father, who’d picked it up from his childhood growing up in Scotland.
I’d excerpt an appropriate passage here, but looking over it I’m reminded of why I abandoned it half finished. But the whole thing is terrible and awkward, the title was the most elegant part of the story.
Once you learned that I really did have a Scottish grandpa, you might assume that I’d borrowed my character’s habits from my own breakfast/family. Well, no. During the three weeks I was in Scotland I sometimes had beans or black pudding with my breakfast, but I would never be patient enough to assemble a breakfast that included that many elements on my own. My dad makes a fine scrambled egg, but to my knowledge he has never cooked beans before noon. And it was rumored that my grandpa ate only porridge every morning of his life.
Apparently “Get up in the morning, baked beans for breakfast” is an alternate lyric for the line “Get up in the morning, slaving for bread sir” in The Israelites by Desmond Dekker, a reggae song. Either that or it’s a commonly misheard version of that lyric. To confuse matters further, it’s sometimes misheard as “Bake beans for breakfast”. For what it’s worth, the two versions I just downloaded have the “slaving for bread sir” line.
Anyway, I hadn’t heard of the song until today. So the allusion (whether it’s to real words on tape or to something that just exists in a few people’s heads) was accidental.
Robert stopped me on Broadway and started digging around in the Nordstrom bag he’s been carrying his things in. “I finally got my camera out of storage and bought a roll of film. But I ruined the film when I tried to load it.”
He found the camera and handed it to me. I looked it over. It had a zoom lens (“It brings the picture to you,” as Robert put it) and everything seemed to work, though there was a small piece missing at the top of the casing.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Could you loan me some money to get another roll of film? I’d really like to take some pictures.”
I told him that I didn’t have any small bills on me, but agreed to buy him lunch. He gobbled his pizza in record time. He talked about his camera while I finished.
“Don’t you think it would be more important to feed yourself right now then it would be to take pictures?”
Eventually he became resigned to the fact that he wouldn’t have the chance to take any pictures. And I suggested he sell the camera.
“Would you be willing to give me ten bucks for it?”
“No. I don’t really need it. But I’ll bet you’d get more than that for it at a pawnshop.”
I finished my lunch and we walked over to the pawnshop. The man at the counter took one glance at the camera and turned it down.
“Sorry, Nobody’s buying the cameras that I have now. I definitely won’t be able to get rid of something broken like that.”
Robert put the camera back in it’s pouch and we went outside.
“Well, that’s too bad.”
We walked a block and before we split I gave him a ten-dollar bill.
He started crying and asked for a hug.
“Nothing. I’m just so happy. Now I can get some more film. I’ll have Zed help me load it so that I don’t break it this time. I’ll be able to take some pictures now.”
“You really didn’t want to sell that camera.”
“No, I didn’t.”
Ingrid was proudly showing off the fantastic Viewmaster reel she’d made using a special double-lensed camera. The pictures were of a local band.
She claims that her Viewmaster shots are the only ones that turn out. She has trouble figuring out what to try to fit into a standard 2D shot. But when she’s shooting for a Viewmaster reel, she concentrates on making sure there are things in the foreground, the middle-ground, and the background – she lets the other elements of the picture-taking just fall into place.
My brother and his family surfaced in Seattle today, so I met them downtown for lunch. I walked them over to a cheap Chinese restaurant. I think we could all tell right away that it wasn’t going to be very satisfying. I considered herding everyone back outside and taking them to the nice little Vietnamese place, but decided for some reason that we’d already invested too much in the place. We’re sticking with the original plan!
We stumbled through the ordering process, everyone hesitating. At the cash register I made a half-assed attempt to pay, but Chris beat me to it. So I made a show of dropping money into the tip-jar instead. We sat down and when everything was ready, someone dodged the cheap pagoda and panda bear decor and handed us our food on styrofoam plates.
Chris explained why Russians use the same word for both cabbage and broccoli while I picked at my fried rice with a plastic fork.
There was just one fortune cookie among us, sealed in a plastic wrapper. It remained in one piece, though Masha had picked it up and was knocking it against the table. I was thinking about making a big show of opening it, saying, “This fortune will have to apply to all of us.” But while I wasn’t paying attention, it was cracked opened with little fanfare and fed to Masha.
Natasha glanced at the fortune and set it aside.
Chris picked it up and read it. “This is appropriate for us right now.”
He held it out in front of me. “Your wit will prove invaluable today.”
I nodded my head dully and contemplated what role wit was playing in Chris and Natasha’s move back to the U.S.
Natasha looked at the fortune again reading it carefully. She didn’t know what he meant either.
“Whenever we get together,” he said, referring to him and me, “we start talking about everything.”
I suddenly realized what he was saying and laugh, “Right, but we really need the three of us – you, me, and Justin – to really get going . . . and maybe dad to egg us on. We can always bring him over to the dark side.”
And Chris added the final stroke to our painting, “Then mom gets really disgusted with us and says, ‘I need to get out of here.'”
The little picture that Chris and I painted wasn’t really fully developed, but Natasha knew what we were saying. The last handful of times we’ve been together, our dry commentary on nothing in particular has transformed into the three of us pointing out how unbearable we must be.
The other thing about Chris, my dad, and me (not so much Justin, I think) is that we all have stories that we like to repeat over and over as if no one had heard them before, and they usually don’t really have endings.
. . .
I have a new little photo page going, I’m calling it Horizon Line for now. I’m having fun doing it. So far I’ve taken basically the same shot on ten different days and have gotten a pretty surprising range of color palettes and textures. That’s been exciting.
It’s funny that the antidote to the tunnel-vision in my other photo log has such narrow boundaries so far. (I was thinking of going with Artless, instead of Horizon Line.) Antidote, cause, symptom? – I don’t know.
It might sound odd, but seeing the differences in the photos and then watching the whole environment around me when I’m down by the water has really affected how I’ve been looking at the weather, the water (that one element always just hanging in the air, almost making its presence known), and the color around me.
I’ve kind of had my head in the clouds for a couple of weeks, noticeable in the subject matter and infrequency of recent entries I guess.
The city I live in is one where hobos and loners are thoroughly representative of the place, where superstition thrives, and where people often have to live by reading the signs and surfaces of their environment and interpreting them in terms of private, near-magical codes. Moreover, these people seem to me to be not sports or freaks, but to have responded with instinctive accuracy to the conditions of the city.
-Jonathan Raban, Soft City
When I was a kid I thought that giving something up for lent and making a New Year’s resolution were the same thing. I couldn’t conceive that one might better one’s self by doing anything other than giving up some tangible bad quality or vice.
I can’t think of any time that I ever did give something up or make a resolution. (Perhaps I resolved to give up something for lent one year, then gave up making resolutions.) Instead I think I committed myself to a general life of penance toward nothing in particular, in response to nothing I could believe.
This brings us to my Fat Tuesday resolution (and bimonthly blog manifesto/name change) – I’ll stop being a martyr to nothing.