Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mediocrity vs. Everybody Can

Haven't really ranted in a minute. Not for a lack of having things to rant about. But I guess it's true what they say about having regular sex; it gets that contentment hormone going and you can more readily let things slide.

There's a lot of stuff that REALLY pisses me off: fairweather friends; selfishness; people who are cruel to small children; anyone who threatens or hurts someone I love; folk who don't stretch themselves to learn or try something out of character; people who never say "I'm sorry"; blatant ignorance; intolerance; racist or ant-Semitic people; people who hate Muslims; the Right Wing; Obama-bashers; people who can't say "excuse me"... not because they didn't see you or it was an accident but because they're too much in a rush to stop; not having half and half in my coffee; white sugar; bad food when you're REALLY hungry; the fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup is in absolutely EVERYTHING; people who bitch about women who nurse in public and compare it urinating in public; men who urinate in public; men who don't get why they should pay child support; women who take advantage of child support; men who cheat on good women; women who won't leave useless men (and not abused women cuz that's a separate issue); people who assume that victims of DV are stupid or "want it" ; people who think "that could NEVER happen to me"; and the fact that our society is so technologically advanced that any idiot with a camera or a computer thinks they are a photographer or graphic designer.

And that last thing REALLY pisses me off because it affects my livelihood. Mediocrity has become the norm, is acceptable. Any idiot who goes out and buys a fancy camera and thinks that because they can zoom or take a sharp picture it makes them a photographer really annoys the shit out of me. I think I take pretty good pictures--OK, damn good pictures but I'm no Weegee or Ansel Adams or Henri. But I study those guys, or Sally Man or Diane Arbus or James Vanderzee. I try to visually listen to the images they took; the unspoken body language they captured, the tilt of a chin or the flash of an eye; a mood, an unsung song. A shadow. And know that for a lot of it, it wasn't planned or staged though some of it was. So what muse were they listening to when they caught the moment? When I take a picture I try to listen out, to wait for that moment that speaks. It's a joy when I catch it. Even if no one else likes the picture... if I have captured what I know to be the effervescence of that person or that moment, that joy stays with me everytime I see it.

And photographs are a weird thing; people get really bent out of shape about pictures of themselves, and I've had people get mad at me or think I've done it on purpose. It bewilders me, because the camera doesn't lie. Unlike a drawing or a painting, which is purely subject and interpretive, all a camera can do is capture the moment. With tools like PhotoShop and Lightroom and the popularity of digital photography, light can be corrected, blemishes brushed away, waists whittled... it's hard now to tell the difference between reality and the photographer's fantasy. And photographers are far too prepared to make everything look clean and shiny and appease the person whose picture they took.

There are reasons to have these things, to be sure. These tools have made photography more like painting and there is an art and a definite skillset to achieve "perfection." And I do admire those who are good at these things.

On the other hand, there are a host of really meaningless images out there that won't stand the test of time.... but thanks to the Internet will never, ever go away. It annoys me... because the good, eloquent, hard won images get lost in a vast and endless sea of dreck.

I wonder what the Old Ones would say...

An outshoot of the rant is that because people know they can be "airbrushed" a whole host of folk think they can be models. Or porn stars. Or eye candy. And want their photos taken because they KNOW the rolls can be erased or the weave line cleaned up. Instead of a big chick taking a sensual picture of herself and finding what's attractive in HER, they take a picture expecting you to make them look like a smooth size 8. When they're an 18. Shit. If you're a big girl, BE a big girl.

And then there's the whole graphic design thing. Pixilated images get published in magazines because people don't understand that a 72dpi image CANNOT be blown up to full print size. Nor do they understand why that's important.

And because there are billions of "fonts" out there, no one uses or understands the importance of clean, classic, readable typefaces.

Light "flares" and "drop shadows" make everything shiny; every one uses them. I use them too... people are so used to seeing them they rarely appreciate things that don't "bling". But at least I understand that things should also be well-designed.

There are hundreds of people with computers and "fonts" and Photoshop and think they can write a website or make a poster. No one does any research. No one tries to come up with a concept, tell a story... and worse, they'll accept $20 or $30 dollars to do a bullshit flier that floods the Internet and have no concept of being paid decently for quality work, clean images, readable typeface. In turn, clients don't understand why they should pay $2K for a great CD cover when they can pay Slim $40. The really good designers are now scrabbling for work and are seriously underpaid. The bullshit copyshop owner has a steady stream of lowbudge customers.

To think I suffered, cried, CRAWLED through two years of intense training to come out and be an unemployed design snob. And I STILL have shit to learn, am STILL hard on myself, cannot bring myself to do less than stellar on anything I set my mind too. Even when I'm paid nothing or next to nothing.


I should have been a fucking lawyer. At least I'd be financially compensated for my research, eloquence, and interpretations of facts.

Except I am my father's child; my father the writing snob who never uses the verb "To Be" and couldn't be a lawyer, either...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Annoying Thing

...about contentment is... you end up not having a lot to say.

Art suffers with contentment. Our angst inspires us to vent, create, strive to let out all those feelings churning inside.

Contentment leads to fat. As in belly. Contentment doesn't really make you want to do much other than be content.

So I haven't had much to say. Well, not true really. My mind is constantly turning stuff over, but I've been so busy doing the thing I've been doing, that love ain't got no time for brewing the blues...

I am still mulling over Forgiveness. Struggling with it, really. I tend to think, as I said in another post, that the concept of Forgiveness most often accepted in our current society is more Christian than anything else... in that we should just forgive and forget. Turn the other cheek. Take the blows with love.

But I am not a Christian.

Judaism requires that we must allow ourselves to be appeased... that if someone apologizes sincerely more than once (I think the quote was "three times"), or makes restitution in some form or fashion, that the wronged one should take them at their word and drop the grudge.

I am capable of being appeased. Because I know that if it were me, and I were genuinely sorry, I would be hurt if I tried to make restitution which wasn't accepted.

So I am capable of calling a truce, being appeased. I am NOT capable of "turning the other cheek" or loving someone unconditionally who has wronged me. I've said before that one should love unconditionally... but the person who is being loved has the responsibility of paying it back, or paying it forward. In kind.

But then sometimes you realize you just have to cut your losses and move on. Accept that restitution can't or won't be made. And try not to carry that anger around. Just let it go...

Except for impending doom, my life is OK. My Sun turned eleven. His voice is seriously deep and getting deeper, cracking all the while. His mustache is thicker. When people remark at how much he's grown in the past year and how freaked out they are by his deep voice, I remind them I live with him. I have to see him naked. Which, now I won't. I make him wear clothes. He's taken to walking around for extended periods of time with his shirt off, and I catch him glancing at himself in the mirror. Narcissistic Tendencies have been passed on to another generation.

The mothers of his girl friends in school are way more freaked out about him than his friends are; I'm almost annoyed. I hope their comments don't give him a complex. Of the boys in his class puberty has hit him hardest. My Sun is being seen as a predator, stalking their precious girls. The ironic thing is that at eleven, he is way more interested in football, video games and Nerf guns than he is in girls. The "Eye Candy" pictures floating around my apartment thanks to BigMan don't garner a huge amount of interest but we have extended discussions on how cool his big Nerf gun is and that he wants to be a soldier when he grows up.

The other day, some kid--another boy--found a condom in the school and filled it with water. Aside from the more disturbing questions like, um.... WHERE was the condom found? And in what condition? (Though knowing kids like I do it would have been WAY more interesting in it's shiny wrapper than crumpled up somewhere.) A teacher made the kid do away with said object, but it sparked the question "What is a water condom?" There was a lot of vague information running through the fourth and fifth grade about what a condom was, and in some instances a condom was mistaken for a tampon.

Apparently the Sun was oblivious to the incident itself, and when I asked him about what happened he didn't know, so I told him what I'd heard. I asked him "I DID tell you about condoms, didn't I?" and he looked around, embarrassed. We were in Target. "Mom!"
I continued: "It's not a big deal, and nobody's listening... but I DID tell you, didn't I?"
"Do you remember what it was?"
"Yeah, it's that thing you use so the girl won't have a baby when you have BedLove."
I laughed... not sure how he came up with the term "BedLove" for sex, as opposed to "LoveLove" for just loving people but it makes sense, his term. And I laughed because my kid is so amazingly mature for his age, and smart. I told him so, that I thought he was smart and that I loved him.

We've had a few detailed conversations, usually after watching "Law and Order." One SVU episode in which people were arguing over embryos prompted a discussion of abortion and the RightToLife debate, which sparked another discussion about preventing pregnancy. Another episode, dealing with rape, prompted a discussion about "No means no" and how to keep himself from being accused or from being molested. I have gone into the generalities of things, and a few specific edicts:
  • Don't touch ANYBODY unless it's clear that it's OK with them. But if they say "no" or change their mind, back away. Quick.
  • No ALWAYS means no.
  • No one should touch you without your permission. If someone touches you or approaches you and you feel funny about it, then it's not OK so don't let it continue. Tell someone.
  • If someone gives you the creeps, trust your gut and stay away from them.
  • Sex means babies.
  • No Babies before college.
  • While there are ways to prevent babies before college, they can be unreliable so the best thing to do is just leave the whole thing alone.
Luckily we've already had a teenaged pregnancy in the family, so it's not an abstract concept.

I told him that there was misinformation about condoms and tampons going around his class, but that I was glad he knew what was what. He offered to educated his friends. "NO!" I laughed. "Don't do that, it's OK. Their parents will take care of it, or the principal."

The last thing I need is for my deep-voiced and mustached kid telling other children about condoms. The mothers of little girls would seriously freak out.

This Thursday is the first anniversary of my father losing his leg. Last year this time is such a painful blur. I am so grateful that he is still here. He's come such a long way, and is so much back to himself that earlier in the month I'd gone over to my parent's apartment to hang pictures. It was my birthday gift to BigBear. Poppy was there, watching, commenting. And he got up to go the bathroom and I suddenly realized he was missing a leg. He was so much the Poppy I remembered that I'd almost forgotten.

There's so much more to tell... I need to write regularly. But I forget; my time consumed with the Sun and his violin activities, and hanging with the BigMan.

My brain has not shut off, really, the Voices still chatter. But it is nice to be loved and life is much more bearable than it used to be.

Well, except for the fact that my housing is in SERIOUS jeopardy and if I don't figure shit out I can totally see myself evicted, fighting to pay to keep my stuff in storage, crashing in BigMan's cluttered room in his grandmother's apartment and turning my kid over to his dad. That is my secret and recurring nightmare. But I'm not going to let that happen; I just haven't figured out how, yet... but I will.

I am Ever Hopeful.