Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cigarettes and Coffee Beans

I looked around at a plaza in Billerica, MA and all I saw was chains. Market Basket, Starbucks, CVS, Dunkin Donuts, Papa Ginos, and on and on. As I was setting up for this picture, an inquisitive man started chatting with me and asked what I up to. I told him my intentions, and he said, "That sounds like something I would do!"

The man had long hair fine enough to float anytime he turned or caught the brunt of a cold breeze. He had just returned from visiting his girlfriend in Florida, and said the gulf side of Florida looked similar to a lot of plazas in the Mass 'burbs: overwheled with unoriginal chain businesses. In Western Florida there were more Walmart's in one town than in the North East and they had different names for their supermarkets.

I told him I stopped by Starbucks because they were the best option for decent Americano between work and home. On my way out, I saw coffee beans above the trash where I expected ashes with a couple cigarettes pressed into the beans in a couple different ways: one forceful, and the other quickly jabbed in. Both cigarettes didn't have lipstick on the ends so I would assume these were placed by two men. Given that it was an ash tray, I was expecting to see more cigarettes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Max (2/?)

I remember one summer where I was finished work at my church in Salem, NH and a couple of the nursery workers had left a couple garbage bags filled with diapers. I enjoyed people thinking of me as a gentlemen so I jumped at the chance to bring the garbage bags to the dumpster. The dumpster was over a hundred feet away and these heavy bags in the warm summer air began smelling less like the plastic on garbage bags and more like rot. When I use the word rot I truly mean radioactive limb generating rot. I started pacing faster towards the dumpster and the momentum was swinging the bags closer to me than I wanted. Holding my arms out kept the bags at a safe distance, but the smell continued to exponentially get worse and I was only halfway to the dumpster. My pacing gradually progressed to speed walking and eventually became an all out sprint for the survival of my nose. I came within 5 feet of the dumpster and swung both bags into the metal dumpster with the toss of an Olympian.

But when I took this picture the predominant smell was diaper genie plastic with a hint of the chemical scent UNUSED pampers have.

My sister said this picture made Max look mature. It may be it's the expression on his face. I do know that he enjoys having his arms free to clench his fists or dangle them as you see here while he's rested in his mothers arms.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Max (1/?)

Having one child and the potential complications that go along with graduating that child into an unpredictable world in a predictable space takes more effort than I anticipated. I figured raising and living with my child would be difficult but rewarding. In reality the difficulty comes from me stretching to understand pain expressed in a quiet but far reaching cry. Interpreting not only my child, but my wife as she passed through moments of what seems to be unending undulating pain in the delivery room.

When my wife, Alyssa, had contractions she would squeeze my hand to have something tangible and physical to hold helping her to endure the internal pain of active labor. I was fortunate enough to see a chart of each contraction that would spike when Alyssa's contraction peaked in intensity (Alyssa would clench my fist during this period) and flatten out when the contraction neared it's end, tying me in a profound way to the initial and painful sacrifice necessary for birth. I mistakenly figured the times between contractions were times for Alyssa to rest free of discomfort.

When Max was born, I looked forward to performing an amazing rite -- watching a child clench it's fist on my finger. The feeling is always surprising to me because I get to understand the contrast between soft fresh skin and the force coming from a newborn's hand over an inch of space.