Thursday, November 26, 2009

::merci beaucoup

Last Sunday evening, I gathered with my church family for our annual Thanksgiving service.
I was greeted by this breathtaking image:

My early arrival gave me the delightful opportunity to amble about, snapping shots of whatever moved me.

Many of us shuffled into the sanctuary with heavy hearts, riddled with anxiety over our pastor's serious illness.
As we shared with one another, speaking aloud to express the things for which we are thankful, I believe we were collectively reminded of how overstuffed with blessings we truly are.
Even in seasons of heavy emotional stress, we can still be thankful for the love and compassion drawn upward and outward, splashing on fellow sufferers roundabout us.

Monday, November 23, 2009


One morning last week I babysat my niece, Emma, in the nursery of my parents' church.
She was very talkative, so I decided to try to capture some of her verbiage on video.

Hilarity ensued.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

::photogenic literature

My two favorite hobbies are writing and photography.

I believe this is because I am a natural observer, and those two artistic expressions feel most organic for me.

In 2004, I was about to leave for a trip, about which I felt a fair amount of anxiety.
The night before I left, I met my parents for dinner at a local restaurant.
They had a gift for me.
A Kodak 3.1 mp digital camera. My first.
Since the digital photography revolution had begun, I'd wanted to experiment, and now, here was my chance.
One of the first shots I took, while hiking in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee:


Not terrible, but not fantastic either.

Still, the very notion that I could capture transient moments, freeze them for reflection and recollection, felt absolutely magical.

William Wordsworth once wrote that poetry is "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" and "emotion recollected in tranquility."

I attempt to apply these same notions to my photographic pursuits.

I hope that I have - even if only once or twice - succeeded.'s tricks?

There is a scene in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm - one of the five funniest television shows ever - wherein we find our protagonist, Larry David, in a precarious situation.

He is enjoying dinner at a restaurant with his wife.
He knows that he needs to use the restroom.
However, seated near the restroom, in a completely unavoidable position, is an acquaintance with whom Larry does not wish to speak.
Larry does not wish to speak with this man because Larry hates superficial chit-chat/small talk (or the "stop-and-chat" as he's been known to call it), and ultimately he hates it so much that he leaves the restaurant.
He goes next door to a different restaurant to use the restroom, then comes back and finishes his dinner.

Would I ever do this?
Probably not.
Have I ever wanted to do this?
Oh yes.
Hundreds of times.

Everyday small-town life is overstuffed with "stop-and-chat" opportunities, many of which I have learned to avoid by employing my dear friend's "duck-and-run" maneuver.

I find "small talk" exhausting.
I have accepted it as a necessary evil, but that does not remove my hatred of it.

Questions like
So how have you been?
What have you been up to?

What's new in your life?

What are you doing these days?

make me feel tense, anxious, and irritated.
I understand that the spirit in which they are posed is usually one of kindness and genuine concern.
But I still hate them.

I recently saw an old friend from high school, whom I had not seen in more than a decade.
He asked none of those questions.
He simply gave me a warm, lingering hug, told me how great it was to see me, and we both sat back, settled into our restaurant meal, and the conversation simply flowed. We spoke of experiences both old and new; spoke of our families, our friends, and our memories.

If I want to tell you how I've been, what's new, what I'm doing, what I've been up to?
Rest assured, I will.

But frankly, I'd probably rather talk about Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I have far too many friends who consider themselves "boring."

I assume that they often assign themselves this false classification because they have "settled down" with a spouse and children, so they can no longer be as autonomous as they once were.

I'm certain that this is a "the grass is always greener" sort of thing, but frankly, the stereotypical American societal "single life" is actually what I find boring.
I also find it pointless, vapid, evasive.

I'm not a huge fan of sitting in a bar for hours, choked by cigarette smoke swirling everywhere, annoyed by intoxicated idiots, exhausted by the fact that I'm only there because I don't want to be sitting at home.
So, somehow, driving to a different location to sit with other single people, ingest alcohol, and have shallow conversation means that I have "a social life"?

In so many ways, I wish I could be satisfied by going out to the bar every weekend.
I feel as though I might "fit in" better or feel less isolated.

But the fact is, being in mutual love with someone, creating another human being with them, and nurturing that tiny human as they become who they were created to be?
That doesn't sound boring at all.

Although, since I'm a member of the human race and we're a notoriously restless lot, I bet that I would feel "boring" too.

I'm upset that I live in a body and a culture that are so consumed with desire.
It's as if we are constantly advised that we should have more, do more, be more, because we are so drab and lackluster and no matter what, we will never have or be enough.

Perhaps I am not the only one who could use a healthy dose of the gratitude and contentment of St. Paul.


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