Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

A Week in the Life - Day Three: August 19th, 2010

The dilation of this meme necessitated by my extremely taxing schedule of late is threatening to turn it into an exercise in nostalgia. Friday, when I was still thinking I would post this entry on the one-week anniversary of the date in question, I was reminded of the comparatively peaceful time before my fall semester had fully kicked in. Two days and a whole lot of mesquite processing later, I'm nostalgic for that time I had to think. It's going to be a hard semester.

Anyway, I'd better get to the task at hand. Because one of the commenters on my entry for "Day Two" rightly pointed out that it was exhausting to read, I'm going to do my best to rein in my excursive impulses for this one. But there are some points that must be explained if the entry's documentary value is to be established.

My day began at 3am, after only a few hours sleep, with more "fun" on the computer. The course for which I'd been developing online instructional materials was going to start in a few days and the work had to get done. If I'd known in advance that this job would require me to learn as much about website building as it did, I would have approached it differently. But sometimes you just have to deal with less-than-ideal circumstances. In the end, because the URL and physical location for the site weren't ready until July 30th, I had less than a month to learn how to make things work via trial and error and then make them work in spite of the inevitable errors that creep into a technology-centered project.

The stress of the last-minute tasks in which I was engaged was powerfully enhanced by the fact that my cable modem -- which dates, to be fair, from December, 2002 and is set to be replaced in a few days -- kept cutting out for no apparent reason. This meant that work I would normally have completed in four hours took twice as long. I spent a lot of time staring at the balky device waiting for it to reset, only to witness another "failure to communicate":

Hoping for the orange light at the end of the tunnel

Luckily, my daughter was taking the bus with a friend to her old school, where she planned to visit her favorite teacher ever, the incredible woman who presided over the multi-age classroom in which Skylar spent first and second grade. That meant I didn't have to get her until 3pm. Or, as it turned out, twenty minutes later, because I couldn't find her for the longest time. After some mild and largely irrational panic, though, I located her and her friend and was able to document the end of their nostalgic circuit to see people and places they had especially missed since commencing middle school:

The old stomping grounds

After Skylar's friend had left, she wanted me to take some shots of her at the school. Considering how rarely she is willing to pose, this was a special treat:

Still a Mustang

We walked back to the car along the desert path that she had taken so many times on her way to school in the morning. It was one of the little pleasures that made the otherwise vexing task of trying to beat the bell tolerable. Looking at Skylar walk ahead of me, declaring that she would "find her own path," I couldn't help but perceive the allegorical resonance of the scene. And if you're going to have allegorical resonance, it never hurts for it to be set in a beautiful landscape:

You can go your own way

Because her mother was going out to see a double bill, Skylar and I were supposed to have one of the father-daughter evenings that have sharply diminished in number over the past year. For the majority of this Live Journal's existence, her mother would take a short trip every few months that gave me a taste of what true solo parenting would be like. It wasn't easy, of course, but I came to relish the time I got spend with Skylar that wasn't subject to the unavoidable complexities of triangulation.

On this particular night our destination was Tucson Mall, not a place I normally enjoy spending time in, where Skylar was going to get her reward for a brilliant transition to middle school. That very day Build-a-Bear Workshop was releasing a line of Sanrio items and Skylar was set on obtaining her favorite, Chococat. So I had a mission to accomplish, no matter what the cost.

I knew, though, that she was going to get hungry during what promised to be lengthy sojourn in the Arcades. And I knew that I needed protein to ward off the vertigo that besets me when I'm forced to be a flâneur. Luckily, Skylar's favorite restaurant, Zona 78, lay between her school and the mall. We had to sit in the bar area, due to a wine tasting in our favorite part of the restaurant. But the food was excellent as always and I got to remember other times when the two of us had dined there together:

Zona 78 is a great place to be

Given the fact that her recent mall visits have been oriented towards more teenage fare, I was pleased that she was remaining loyal to her old interests. But I know how long a visit to Build-a-Bear can take, with the lengthy process in which the creature gets stuffed and the even lengthier trying on of clothes afterwards. There's not really anywhere to sit, either. Still, despite being exhausted from the previous day and my very early rise, I patiently waited until Skylar was absolutely certain that she had what she wanted. After all, there might not be too many more occasions for this kind of father-daughter bonding:

Moving forward without forgetting what is behind

After we were finally done at Build-a-Bear, I consented to do some window shopping with Skylar. It used to be that I would literally need to leave the Tucson Mall after an hour, because I felt like I wasn't getting any oxygen. But they seem to have upgraded the air conditioning now, making it possible -- if not desirable -- for me to endure multi-hour visits.

As a consolation for my patience, however, I did insist that Skylar accompany me to the Vans store, since I'm trying to convince her that their classic slip-ons, which I swear by, are "classic" enough for her to choose as an alternative to Converse. She wasn't entirely convinced, but did find some shoes that she liked. And then she got an unexpected bonus, because it turned out that Tucson's first H&M had just opened the day before.

I know that there are problems with H&M. Hell, I know there are problems with almost every clothing and shoe retailer, not to mention the products they sell. But for people of limited means, as we are, the store sure beats the overpriced merchandise they sell at the department stores. Skylar had a blast looking around. And I warded off the grand-opening tumult by looking for interesting things to photograph.

Triple Giants

As it turned out, though, Skylar provided me the best shot when she modeled a trench coat that caught her fancy. I love the fact that she can still move seamlessly between honoring her childhood loves and boldly trying out new possibilities. If she keeps on like this, middle school might not be too bad:

Ready for the noir

When Skylar was trying the trench coat on, she remarked that she liked "the Forties look." She has been getting more and more into the film noir sensibility lately, what with catching classic films at The Fox downtown and even reading James M. Cain's Double Indemnity. That's why she was so enthralled, when we stopped at Casas Adobes Plaza on the way home, with the atmosphere of intrigue generated by its overzealous misters. I was pretty taken with the spectacle myself:

Forties flick in a Forties plaza

We had stopped there for dessert at Frost, the gelato place opened by two guys who attended her elementary school -- and had the same kindergarten teacher that she did -- and middle school. It can be crowded. And the clientele frequently has that icky Northwest Tucson -- self-satisfied, self-righteous, Republican -- vibe. But their gelato is too good to forego. Not to mention that just looking at the way it's displayed can be a satisfying experience:

Frost displays its gelato beautifully

It was the perfect way to round off a wonderful father-daughter evening. By the time we got home, her mother was on her way back to pick up the parental baton and I was looking forward to getting my first good night's sleep in several days.
Tags: a week in the life, autobiography, daughter, documentary impulse, everyday, photography, work

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