The Here and Now

Sometimes I write 5 times a day, sometimes I'll write 5 times a month. Either way, I hope you'll come back and check up on me :) If you're not sure whether you want to stay or go, read my About Me dohickey.

Friday, November 03, 2006

By the Time you Read this, the Links will be Dead...

An MSN article today in the Slate Magazine Today's Pictures area featured a book from 1993 by photographer Martin Parr, entitled Bored Couples.

Martin Parr (b. 1952) has been a social photographer, if you will, since his boyhood. He takes pictures of things that really make you think about the moment; what was taking place at the time the picture was shot...what the subjects were thinking, etc. I had never heard of him until seeing the article today, but right away his images struck me.

Bored Couples contains 22 images shot from the mid-eighties up until the book's publication, mostly taken in Europe. Looking at these pictures, I feel saddened, to think that these relationships exist so stagnantly on film. They make me wonder if these couples are happy outside of the public eye. They make me wonder if maybe these people enjoy the silence. They make me wonder if maybe the picture was simply taken during a lull in conversation.

There are those who think that silence is golden...I don't happen to be one of them. I am the Chattiest Cathy you'll ever meet! Well, maybe. But you understand what I'm getting at. I have a tendency to talk my boyfriend's ear off at times, whereas he doesn't mind the silence. I don't know whether it has to do with being female, or just being me, but every time the room is silent, it makes me think that something is wrong. "Why isn't he talking to me?" I wonder. Of course, he just thinks I'm crazy for being so paranoid about things. I wonder what we would look like caught on film, with no soundtrack to accompany it. I wonder what an outsider would think of our relationship. Heck, I even wonder what they think of us when they're sitting 2 feet away.

It's really hard to know what people are like, without talking to them. Even when you do talk to people, you never genuinely know what they're like. You only know exactly what a person is like, when you're that person, I guess. Even then, some people still question themselves. (But that is all another subject for another day).

Back to the book, though.

I am not the kind of person that is moved by art. Some people will cry at the sight of a Rembrandt. Me? I’m more along the lines of “Cool! It’s a Rembrandt!”. But there is just something about these pictures that screams to me of loneliness and lost love. Maybe when I’m older, I’ll realize you don’t have to talk every waking moment to still be in a wonderful, happy, successful relationship. Maybe. Here’s hoping, I guess. For my sake, as well as for my boyfriend’s. :)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Through the Mill: The Story of Addie Card

On today, there was a link to Museum Day (yay!) sponsored by the Smithsonian, and so I followed a link from there to their magazine, and found the story of Addie Card.

It's the story of a young girl who was involved in child labor. Or rather, it's the story of A PHOTO of a young girl who was involved in child labor. I am not sure if I'd ever seen the photo prior to reading the article, though now there's a slight familiarity with it. The author of the article has written a novel about it, and I'd like to read it. Of course, there are so many things on my to-read list. But this one will definitely get added. The theme of the story brings to mind something I've always wanted to discuss with other people. Photos.

Have you ever just randomly just thought about a photo someone might have taken of you, that you never got to see how it turned out? Well, of course, I guess that mainly applies to the pre-digicam era, because now there's instant gratification. But back when I was in school, I remember friends taking pictures of me on their disposable cameras. Capturing moments on film that I'd mostly never get a look at. Sure, there were Polaroids too, but you got to see those in a matter of minutes. The 35mm film? Well, that ended up going to the developer (if you were lucky and didn't let it sit around for years...not that I have disposables from 2 years ago that I still need to develop or anything...), and then the little white envelopes (with the Kodak ads on them, of course!) would inadvertantly get tossed into a drawer somewhere and not looked at for awhile. If you lived near your friend, you had a slight chance of getting to see the picture if you happened to be in their room shuffling around with them, but if you met the person at summer camp? Forget it.
I wonder how many pictures of me there are just randomly floating around the country...from Field Days, church camps, and other times past. I wonder how many people have those pictures in acid-free photo boxes, and how many still have them sitting in the bottom of random cardboard boxes filled with school relics. I wonder if those people who forgot to write my name and the date on the back still remember who I am. I'm guilty of forgetting.

I have one photo box...a deep burgandy one I picked up at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It's your standard acid-free cardboard kind, with fil-o-fax dividers to write the event or year or whatever else on. I don't use those dividers. My pictures are all just thrown into the box. I finally got around, this past January, to making an actual photo album with family pictures in it. Never did finish my only started scrapbook though, one from last summer when a close friend visited from England. But I look through those pictures a few times a year, planning to organize them somehow. But there are just too many category options, so they generally just go back in the jumble. I tend to take out pictures that I finally have decided ARE too blurry to keep, like everyone said they were but I refused to believe. I look at them and realize how many names I've forgotten, and wonder if maybe the only reason I remember some of those names is simply because I remembered to write the names on the back at the time. I'm not sure if I ever throw out the pictures of the people whose names I've forgotten. The sensible part of me right now wants to say that I do, but the sentimental side of me (which keeps every movie stub, random napkins from places, ALL her notes from friends from middle school) says I don't throw them out. The minute I do, I'll remember the person and wish I had their picture or something silly like that.

I always intend to do something with those trinkets...make a scrapbook of my boyfriend and i's relationship....make a trip journal....but they sit in that box, waiting. Just like the pictures.

What about you? Do you ever wonder about those pictures you don't get the chance to see? Do you put your movie stubs somewhere special, or just dump them in a pile? Do you shake it like a Polaroid picture?

I wonder what Addie Card thought about that picture that was taken of her. I wonder if she ever got to see it, or if she ever wondered what became of it?

Monday, July 03, 2006

I just got back from seeing The Devil Wears Prada. By myself. Which is a huge deal for me.

I’ve never gone to a movie alone. The boyfriend went to see X-Men 3 for a second time, so I opted for Anne Hathaway. We were supposed to have seen X-Men with said friend last weekend, but we went with someone else. So the boyfriend took it upon himself to pretend that he hadn’t already seen it. I never get to see girlie movies, so I took this as an opportunity. It was such a thrilling experience. I know it may sound dumb to those of you who go see movies by yourself on a regular basis, but this was a whole new concept for me.

I actually focused on the movie the entire time, which is crazy considering I have diagnosed ADHD, and even more so considering I tend to fall asleep during movies at home. Normally, people sitting around me bother me, what with the crackling of candy wrappers, and the flipping open of cell phones (the light!! Ack!), but that didn’t happen at all tonight.

I put on a cute top (pink and black, of course ;)), painted my nails, spritzed some perfume, and we were out the door. I will admit there were a couple times I thought maybe I’d just see X-Men, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Noone walked past me without saying excuse me (I had an aisle seat), and there was room for me to get comfortable without being paranoid of people. I usually feel like people are scrutinizing my every move, but tonight I didn’t have a concern for them at all. It was me and my movie (oh, and my Junior Mints).

This is something I’ll definitely have to look into doing more often. :)

(Oh, and it gave me two new must-reads, of course ;))

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Of course, I haven't yet been able to think of anything worth writing here (no CLUE where all those brilliant ideas I had before I started this thing have gone to!), but I ran across this little article about books, and the thought we may or may not place into the handling of them, in my July issue of O! yesterday. So I'm typing it out for your perusal, with the formatting as close to the original as possible. Enjoy.


Shelf Awareness

Do you alphabetize your books, treat them as decorative objets, or live in constant danger of a giant bookslide? How we handle our books speaks volumes about who we are. Deborah Way asks a few writers how their libraries stack up.

In college I spent a lot of time with Virginia Woolf, and when I was done, I was done. Maybe it's because I wrote my senior essay on her when I would rather have been out playing. Or because the finished product showed exactly how little effort I put forth. Or because no matter how much she excited my English-major brain, reading Woolf was always more labor than love. Whatever the reason, she became a de-acquired taste, and 20 years later, I'm still punishing her. While the vast majority of my books live in my living room, where the action is, Woolf has been exiled to the front hallway with Thucydides and the other old bores.

I hang on to her, though, because as much as I shudder to think of rereading those novels and essays, I did read them in the first place. As the writer Lee Martin says of the books he can't bring himself to pitch, "They're still part of my book-gathering record."

What to do with books-with their sheer physical presence--is a question that plagues and delights writers, most of whom have, if not theories, as least strong opinions on the subject. Martin, who was a memoirist before he was a novelist, treats his library like an anthropological trove. Books are evidence of bygone interests and tastes; bookmarks--a Peanuts cartoon, a sheet of Duncan yo-yo tricks--are artifacts; and the shelves themselves, repositories for relics with narrative powers of their own: "a rock from the murder scene that became part of my latest novel, a handbell my mother used when she was a teacher in a one-room school, an iron hammer my father could screw into the end of his prosthetic arm."

Let's hope that the journalist Caitlin Flanagan never visits Martin. Flanagan is the daughter of the late writer and scholar Thomas Flanagan, and she believes--with imperious certainty--in following "all the old rules." "Although it looks beautiful," she says, "the bookcase is not a decorating element, so no knicknacks! The contents and arrangement of one's bookshelves are vital clues to one's interests and education. Anyone worth her salt will walk straight to a bookcase when she visits, so you'd better be ready! The shelves should be full but not crammed. The spines must be flush with the edge of the case. The books should be arranged by subject or author, and they should impress and slightly intimidate."

And then there's Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak, who says, "I don't give a rat's ass what my bookshelves look like. I just want them to contain books that rock me and might do the same for my pals."

Alone among writers I know, Almond still borrows from the library. ("The important thing is to keep the book in your mind, not on your property," he says.) That's one answer to the challenge faced by all pathological readers: how to avoid living in a home so overrun by books that, as the poet Andrew Hudgins describes, they're "draped on the headboard like laundry on a line." Though he aspires to Flanagan-esque order, Hudgins falls far short of the ideal. "When I have room, I front books up to the edge of the shelves as I was taught when I stocked Nilla Wafers and Nutter Butters," he says. "But many are shelved double deep, with more books piled on top. I find it cozy. And when the bookcases are on exterior walls, surely the books provide good insulation."

For other writers, there's only one answer to book proliferation: move. In the math of literature lovers, more space equals more room for books. Or in the case of novelist and journalist Jennifer Egan, more room where it counts. Unlike most writers, for whom a library is very much a thing to be shared, Egan likes to keep her books to herself. "There is something private, to me," she says, "about what I have read and loved--not to mention what I am ashamed not to have read--that makes me prefer to keep my books in an area that isn't completely public. When I lived in a studio apartment, this wasn't possible, but now that I've moved, I've been able to disentangle the books from the public space."

The sense of books as inviolate extends to the way Egan reads. "I used to mark passages of interest, but I found that I was so offended and distracted by the markings that I couldn't reread the books," she says. "So I now employ a complex system of page foldings and ghostly fingernail indentations. I indicate words whose meanings I'm not sure of and words I want to remember and use myself. I'm often left to wonder what led me to note a passage, and I find that more intriguing than some pen slash with a silly scrawl beside it."

Meanwhile, the novelist Eric McGraw, who is married to the poet Hudgins, defaces books with gusto. "I not only underline, in ink; I keep a list on the flyleaf of pages with especially good underlinings," she says. "This is one reason my husband only grudgingly lets me read his books--and keeps an eye on me while I do. He says I mangle books. He's right. I crack spines. I dog-ear pages. After I've read a book, it looks conquered. I like that."

Don't tell McGraw, but Hudgins has found an even stranger kick: "I do get a weird thrill when I'm writing about a book--I buy an extra copy just so I can tear out pages I want to quote. That's kind of kinky fun."

~O, The Oprah Magazine - July 2006 issue - Vol. 7, Num. 7 - Pgs. 104, 106

:) At the bottom of the article, there is also a list of organizations that you can happily send your old (but still loved!) titles to.

Books for Soldiers - Members of the Armed Forces make requests online, and you send the literary goodness directly to them.

Write a Prisoner - This site regularly posts requests from prison libraries. Please consult individual listings for specific needs.

International Book Project - This 40-year young non-profit humanitarian organization sends books to schools, churches, and orphanages throughout the world.

So, what about YOU? Are you a Hudgins or a McGraw? :) Personally, I don't even OWN a bookshelf (I KNOW, I KNOW!). I'm still a youngin', though. It is definitely the top item on my "Things to Buy" list for when I'm able to be a grown-up and buy the home furnishings I want (i.e. whenever my house is clean enough on a consistent basis to be able to put something as nice as a bookshelf up). And I definitely dog-ear pages. And I've taken to writing in all of my magazines, ripping out articles of interest that remind me of friends (which, inevitably, never end up getting into the mail).

Books are near and dear to my heart; they are things which I cherish as I'm reading them, but seemingly never pick up again after the last word of the last page. I have a habit of removing the dust jackets and sitting them aside until I'm done reading the book, and then I put them back on. As much as I love them, I haven't read many books, but I have a lot on my to-read list. My favorite book (favorite, as in, I've read it 3 or 4 times, which, knowing how I am, totally says a lot) is Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood, by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey. The longest book I've ever read was East of Eden, of course by Steinbeck.

What are YOUR reading habits like? What are you reading RIGHT NOW? What's the last page YOU dog-eared? :)

Monday, June 26, 2006

You Are the Swedish Chef

"Bork! Bork! Bork!"
You're happy and energetic - with borderline manic tendencies.
No one really gets you. And frankly, you don't even get you.
But, you sure can whip up a great chocolate mousse

No, this isn't going to be one of those blogs where all I ever post is quiz, survey, and "thing" results. But I felt this one was appropriate and would sum me up for ya'll right from the beginning. :P

Friday, June 23, 2006

So, this blogging thing isn't going so well. I'd started this blog as an attempt to expose a different side of myself than I normally show, and that side appears to be either boring, or, well, non-existent. And here I was thinking I'd have all these great ideas. But I don't. In the meantime, I guess I'll just post a list of all the journals that I keep up with on a daily basis. Just a temporary roll call of things I'm into rightthisverysecond (in pseudo-weirdo order, because I have nicknames for all these people so I can remember the reason I added them to even begin with).

A Dress A Day
Better Butter
The Brown Dress Lady
Pea Soup
Home Grown
Lazy Cow
Badger's Other One
Vast Verandah
Mixed With Sugar
Mom's Daily Dose
Painting Chef
Christy in Alaska
Turkey Feathers
Elder Scrolls Oblivion
American in Paris
Mel's Other Blog
The Naked Ledger
Pine Curtain
Tiny Kingdom
Vegan Lunch Box
Useless Men
Want Not
Advice Smackdown

So there it is. If you notice you're on there, and wonder how I got to you, I could probably figure it out. But generally, it's either because a) I liked a comment you left on someone else's blog I read, and so read your journal in turn, b) a blog I read happened to post a link to yours and I followed it and liked it, or c) hell if I know. But let it be known that all of this nonsense started back last July when I found Marthas' site via a Livejournal link to a Theme-day blog listing, and then through her found Amalah, and through Amalah found Blackbird, and most of ya'll are here via Blackbirds' comment pages. This internet thing is quite twisty and turny, and you click a link or two and before you know it, you can't even remember how you got where you are. So click around, and get lost (but come back!).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

25 Things About Me (or, What Makes Me So Darn Quirky)

1. Hi. I’m Laura. 100 doesn’t seem like such a big number, until you start to make a fact sheet about yourself and are crossing your fingers that you can come up with that many things worth sharing.

2. I live…somewhere. And part of the purpose of this blog is to see if I can stop over-sharing information with complete strangers. So this is a start.

3. I’m nearing 25, and it scares me.

4. I don’t have any kids, but I’d like some. After marriage, of course.

5. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 years. Some days it’s glorious, some days not-so-much, but we stick with it. :)

6. Suze Orman answered a letter in a recent issue of O! magazine where a woman said she was 30, and had a savings of $30,000. This baffled me, so much so that I forgot what the letter was even asking. But I, at that point, took it upon myself to also have $30,000 saved up by my 30th. My short-term goal is $3,000 by my upcoming birthday. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. :) I’m constantly making progress on that goal.

7. Another goal of mine is to lose weight. In the past 24 hours, I’ve heard mention of people saying that the best short-term goal is 10% of your body weight. So there you have it. That’s what I’m reaching towards.

8. I don’t like to shake hands.

9. I don’t like phones that smell like perfume. Your perfume shouldn’t linger behind you for miles. It’s a pet peeve when phones smell like anything other than the plastic they’re made of.

10. I love buying things to mail to long-distance int0rweb buddies, but chances are it’ll be about a year after I tell you that I’ve bought something for you before you actually receive it.

11. I don’t like being made to feel stupid. But I guess most people don’t.

12. I never took classes after I graduated from high school. I feel that I am becoming dumber on a daily basis. I hate that.

13. I grew up in a Baptist church. I don’t have any issues with the church, but I no longer attend one.

14. I currently participate in live cast performances of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Talk about a far cry from spending my Friday nights at church lock-ins.

15. I am typing this in Word, capitalizing things without the help of the editor thingie. Mainly because I hate typing in caps online, but I am doing it here so that you will still think me smart (see #11). I don’t like that Word has put a red squiggle under “thingie”.

16. I haven’t figured out my dream career yet. All’s I know is I am not in it currently (see #3).

17. My least favorite thing to capitalize online is my “i”. I always try to use proper grammar and punctuation, though (well, other than the caps. SHOOSH!).

18. People think I’m odd. I guess I am. And I won’t lie that it bugs me to be odd. I’m down with the whole “conformity is boring”…“what IS normal, anyways?”…sort of thinking, but it’s something completely different when you are 24 and not yet down with your “oddness”.

19. I have a dog (a precious poodle-like pitbull), and a snake (a ball python). My tarantula died in molt on Memorial Day weekend. BSL scares me, but I don’t do anything about it. I really SHOULD be more proactive.

20. I listen to all sorts of music.

21. I have no sense of style, whatsoever. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have SOME sense of style, but I can never afford to cater to it. I dress in whatever fits and is clean.

22. I’m not a foodie, but I wish I was. I like learning about new foods, and I like taking pictures of food. The boyfriend calls me crazy for it (see #23).

23. I’m a pseudo-photographer. I take pictures of any and everything. Only, like, 1 in 15 ever turn out decently enough for the eyes of others.

24. I hate housework, especially laundry. I can’t understand how all the women before me have managed to do it successful without their house falling in around them, or dying of exhaustion. It gives me a newfound respect for mothers.

25. 25 is quite enough, dontcha think? I’ll add to this list as I deem necessary.