Saturday, January 10, 2015

experiments in film, #4

I got some new film developed today. Seeing the scanned images pop up in Lightroom from the walgreens CD may not be quite as romantic as flipping through actual prints, but I do love that feeling of seeing those photos that I'd forgotten I took and swooning at them.

Aside: I think my new favorite film may be superia 200.

The rest of the roll is posted over here.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

tattoo #2

I spent much of my New Year's Eve at a tattoo shop in Austin, with my sisters and mother, getting matching tattoos in honor of my brother.

Jenny, Criss, and I had first talked about doing a sibling tattoo back in July, intending to try to get it done while we were all in Austin at that time, but couldn't get it together with a design and schedule. So we kept talking about it the past few months, settled on something we all liked and set about researching tattoo artists. We settled on Darryl Hanna from Golden Age Tattoo, who had an awesome portfolio and got back to us right away, excited about our idea and working with us. We all planned to be in Austin again for Christmas and New year's, so we scheduled our appointment for Dec 27th. 

Early last month I told our mom about our plans. I was a little worried about what her reaction would be-- she's never liked tattoos. But she was genuinely touched by us wanting to do this as our tribute to JC, and said she would love to come along with us to see it happen. 

As it turned out, Darryl got food poisoning on the 27th so had to cancel, but he was awesome about making sure he still fit us in since he knew we had a deadline, and was able to reschedule for the 31st. We spent a good 2 hours hashing out the final design, then got to work. Mom was there, and admitted that she had been considering joining us in getting a tattoo as well, but had apprehensions about our placement and the size. Darryl was amazing through this whole process-- both working with us to settle the original design, asking questions to help us clarify what we wanted, advising us on what would work and what wouldn't, and being patient as we went back and forth. Then he talked with Mom while he was tattooing us to help her decide what she wanted to do, and how to alter the design to work for her (placing it higher up on her arm, and slightly smaller size).  And then she went for it, rock-star Mom that she is. 

Brave Jen, going first.

The "after" shot (taken the next day).

So, the design: we drew inspiration from a few of JC's favorite things... the death star is for him, the smaller stars remind me of the ones on the Harry Potter pages and represent us three sisters, and the quote by Carl Sagan just ties it all together really nicely. Fun fact: that is my handwriting.

Monday, December 22, 2014

on my mind

After 5 months of working intensely long hours, Zach's been "on the beach" (aka between projects, aka not going in to work) for the past 2 weeks. So that's been nice, getting to actually see him and spend time together. They said this part of the job would be kinda boom-and-bust, with intense working periods and random time off, and I guess we finally got to the "random time off" part.

Quinn is enjoying preschool, or at least seems to like it ok and has made some buddies-- it's pretty fun to watch them run around wildly together during their outdoor time when I go pick him up every day. Though he still tells me he misses me while at school, and talks about liking being at home better.

Most of the time I feel pretty good about homeschooling with Donovan, with occasional bouts of oh-my-god-I'm-fucking-it-all-up. But I figure that's kinda just part of parenting-- the occasional freak-outs are just a normal part of everything. D is enjoying it, and it's so nice having everything be more relaxed We're slowly building up our networks-- we've got a solid homeschool group we belong to, I've kinda accidentally become an organizer for a local monthly lego group, and have some other stuff in the works. For the first few months after we moved D was having such a hard time with the adjustment, just missing our life in NH and wanting to just stay home and be pretty anti-social. He's really turned it around in the past couple months, and now happily comes out to park days and engages easily with other kids there. Sometimes you just need a little time, I guess.

Over the weekend we went to this low-tide walk with the Marine Science Institute. We didn't find as many fun critters as we'd hoped (partially bc the waves were way high so we didn't dare go as close to the water's edge as we might otherwise) but the boys still loved climbing over the rocks, and playing on the beach. And I took a bunch of pictures.

I'm looking forward to and also trying to gear myself up for Christmas, as this is the first year without JC and that absence will be especially palpable, I'm sure, once we get to my mom's house. It tears at my heart a little as I watch D get into so many of the things JC loved, imagining them talking Star Wars and maybe making short movies together. Alas.

Every year I write up a year-in-review type letter/post, and I still want to write one for 2014 but it just feels overwhelming. I kinda can't believe how many big things got packed into this one year. It's kinda hard to look back and think clearly about it all.

I wrapped the boys' gifts tonight. I both feel a little bad that they're getting only a handful of small things from us, and also realize they already have beyond plenty and get stuff randomly throughout the year and will get more stuff from family anyway. So, we'll have our small family christmas here, then fly to Texas to see my family, which I expect will be fun and loud and lovely and chaotic, as always, just also tinged with a bit of bittersweet sadness.

Hugs to all who are missing someone over the holidays.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a few thoughts on ferguson, and what you can do to help

I've been reading over updates and postings about the grand jury's decision to not charge Darren Wilson for killing Mike Brown, and I don't even know what to say. I see a lot more people speaking out on facebook than I've seen before, so that feels like progress. And yet this whole thing is still so disappointing, so heartbreaking. I've seen comments that make my blood boil.

"What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Wouldn't Mike Brown like to know?
"Those looters are thugs, destroying property like that!" And taking a life doesn't matter?
"The riots just show mob mentality, no one respects your position when you act like that." Yeah well, no one's seemed to respect their position after 3 months of peaceful protests, either. I don't know that violence is the answer, but keeping calm and quiet doesn't seem to be helping much, either.

I look at my boys, my sweet pale-skinned blond-haired boys, and I know I need to talk to them about this. About the racism they will grow up around, the injustices happening all the time, the privilege we enjoy that isolates us from it. I look at D, not quite yet 7 years old, and he seems way too young to hear about these things. And yet I know there are black parents all around the country who have to sit down their boys (and girls) of the same age and have The Talk in hopes of protecting them.

The thing is, I believe that it may very well be the case that Darren Wilson honestly feared for his life and that Mike Brown was not actually a threat. I think Wilson is a product of our racist culture, that teaches us that black people are scary and dangerous and aggressive. The media continues to feed this stereotype by painting peaceful protests as angry riots, and the police by responding to a group of people exercising their right to protest by coming out in full riot gear and sniper rifles and tear gas. And as long as we keep believing in this magically dangerous and hyperaggressive negro, and as long as we keep taking the killer's word for things and not question these murders, we will continue to have white police officers and citizens overreact and harm innocent people.

Chart showing how rare it is for grand juries not to indict

In Defense of Black Rage: Michael Brown, police, and the American dream 
"I believe that racism exists in the inexplicable sense of fear, unsafety and gnawing anxiety that white people, be they officers with guns or just general folks moving about their lives, have when they encounter black people. I believe racism exists in that sense of mistrust, the extra precautions white people take when they encounter black people. I believe all these emotions have emerged from a lifetime of media consumption subtly communicating that black people are criminal, a lifetime of seeing most people in power look just like you, a lifetime of being the majority population. "

Self-Segregation: Why It's So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson
"But these are not stories most whites are socially positioned to hear. Widespread social separation is the root of divergent reactions along racial lines to events such as the Watts riots, the O.J. Simpson verdict, and, more recently, the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. For most white Americans, #hoodies and #handsupdontshoot and the images that have accompanied these hashtags on social media may feel alien and off-putting given their communal contexts and social networks."
A Black man is killed by the police every 28 hours in the US

21 Things You Can't Do While Black

What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About the Police
"Every black male I've ever met has had this talk, and it's likely that I'll have to give it one day too. There are so many things I need to tell my future son, already, before I've birthed him; so many innocuous, trite thoughts that may not make a single difference. Don't wear a hoodie. Don't try to break up a fight. Don't talk back to cops. Don't ask for help. But they're all variations of a single theme: Don't give them an excuse to kill you."

So, what can you do?

Color of Change's Petition for Mike Brown

12 Things White People Can Do Now for Ferguson

A list of resources, funds, petitions, etc, you can use to help Ferguson

A simple and beautiful take on how to talk to kids about their privilege

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monterey trip and other stuff we've been up to

This past weekend we drove down to Monterey for a couple days a little family trip, and to take advantage of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Homeschool Days program. The aquarium was awesome, of course, and D enjoyed it though Q may still have been a bit too young or just hit on the wrong day or whatever. But it went ok. We also spent some time at some beaches along the coast. The boys loved climbing up and down rocks along the beaches, and had a grand ole time feeling small crabs to sea anemones and watching what happened. I felt that familiar frustration at having my camera along and wanting to capture so much more, but being divided between that and helping watch the kids and keep them safe. The usual photographer parent dilemma. But, I still got some good stuff, that I will upload at some point...

It was nice to get some good family time together on our trip. It's been rough with Zach's job, he likes it and all but he's been working 80-hour weeks. So I'm solo parenting all week, and at least he's home and usually doesn't have to work on weekends, but then those weekends are crammed with trying to spend time together as a family, me and Zach to get to hang out a bit as a couple, me to get some time on my own, to see any friends we wanna hang out with, etc. Sometimes it feels like we've totally got the hang of this and are doing fine, other times it's like we're all getting so worn out with this current schedule and it feels totally unsustainable. In a few months Zach is supposed to shift to a different group and things should slow down a bit (perhaps working a more manageable 60hrs/week?). And I guess we'll just see how that goes.

The boys are doing ok, they're in a phase where they're fighting/annoying each other more than they used to, which is a bit, um, trying on all of us. We are all (me included) working on controlling our tempers and finding appropriate ways to express and vent our frustrations. It is so maddening to hear them screaming at each other yet again, but then five minutes later they are calmly and politely figuring out a compromise to whatever they were fighting over and I need to hold on to those moments more, remember those, hope for what is developing. We also have some good leads on homeschool groups and park days/activities that have shown promise. For a long time after our move D was being pretty anti-social, not wanting to play with other kids much at all as he dealt with his homesickness. But the past few weeks he's seemed more open, more sociable, actually running off to play with other kids at the park rather than scowling at my side demanding to go home. So, big improvement. We'll see what comes of it.


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