July 7th, 2005

The Camera Famileye

We got Skylar a camera Tuesday. When I took her to the Center For Creative Photography the week before last it was clear that she was intellectually ready for one. And since we're going to D.C. this weekend, it seemed like a good time. I got my camera when I was about her age. Of course, mine was a 126 Kodak. Hers is a $230 dollar digital number. But when you factor in the cost of film and the freedom that digital photography provides, the discrepancy doesn't seem quite so large.

The camera is easier to use than ours, I think, but not by much. It will take her a while to have full control over her picture-making. In the meantime, though, she's already demonstrating a distinct and interesting eye, similar in some respects to her mother's but a little more given to abstraction for abstraction's sake. Or maybe I'm just imagining that. Somehow, though, I think there's purpose to the Bean's practicing. For one thing, she's already quoting masterpieces of Western visual art:

Sure, the placement of the flash was an accident and that of elizabeg may have been too. What's interesting to me, though, is that she was happy with the result when she viewed it today. "That looks cool!" I wonder if other six-year-olds would have had that response. Prepare to see more Bean shots during our trip; I'm sure there will be some interesting ones.
  • Current Music
    Cracker's "Sweet Thistle Pie" on the iPod Shuffle

Repetitive Motion

My body knows what to do, even if my eyes do not. Down and in, just like this morning. "All that trimming is making me stronger," I tell you, deciding which lights to turn on and which ones to leave off. I love it when the branches finally snap, descending on my head and arms like angry insects. I've even grown fond of the special itch that follows. I watch my chest muscles tense in the mirror, delighted to have the distraction. It keeps me from seeing what I'd rather not. "There's a reason birds don't build nests in mesquite trees," I say, to anyone who will listen. I keep on pushing. Everything narrows. The sidewalk turns green.

* * *


I look in the mirror because I want to look in the mirror. You are looking too, this time. For years you pretended not to. Once, at a party, you pulled me into the middle room of the hosts' narrow, high-ceilinged apartment, the one with a bed in it and not much else and said, "Look, they have a mirror in the same place we have a mirror." And then I realized that you might be stealing a glance here and there. Now it's all out in the open. You look. I look. And we see ourselves looking. "I need to stop eating so much toast before bed," you tell me later, like you do almost every night. "Or my ass is never going to get any smaller."

* * *


"Look," I say, "I'm doing the trimming." Andrew Marvell had his mower. Why shouldn't I have a lopper? Snap. I'm making pictures of what I want to see: blue-gray roses bunched together, rolls of red nearly falling off the bed, the way your hair flops when you turn your head to the left. Snap. The heat is oppressive because it is coming from inside us. Snap. I keep on going because it looks like the right thing to do. Snap. Someone is going to have to sweep this mess off the sidewalk.