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May 22, 2010

Such, I'm Afraid

Sunday. I watched my Korean soap last night, so to bed at eleven, up this morning at eight, to breakfast and back after nine. The sky clear, the sun out, a decent day ahead. Now for my own head. Well, it's there, feels OK if OK means a reasonably good balance of the usual suspects. We're up for it, maybe a walk through Jack London with a camera later. It's Sunday, after all, not a lot of people around. Restful, in other words, a day to cruise.

No, I didn't get our for the art walk last night, didn't head farther north to the Zombie Crawl in support of one of the local libraries (It's much easier to rationalize dressing up as a zombie, I would imagine, if it's in support of a library. Not much you can't do in support of a library.) but stayed inside and plinked away on the guitar. We had our flask of sake with dinner and I suspect it added to the lead in my butt, but otherwise, all this gibberish aside, a pretty good evening and decent night's sleep.

Listening to XM radio in the background as I'm writing. They're playing old tracks from the late sixties and early seventies, all of them familiar, all of them popular at the time, but with a more “pop” edge, the balance for me not quite right. Not a set you'd have heard on the old KSAN in the early days.

Then something like the Stones’ Wild Horses will come on and remind you why you spent so much time listening the the music back then, spent so much money on records and equipment you really didn't have. Life was easier when there was but this one thing that glued it all together, made it possible to leave the beaten track, forget about what you'd been told was important to make it in this life and explore for an alternative. I don't regret even a minute.

Later. An on the fly decision to walk down to the bus stop, checking the smartphone as I approached to see if I'd missed the bus. It was arriving in two minutes. OK. I can do that.

A walk around the downtown area with a dogleg through Chinatown, curious about the colorful beach umbrellas some of the stores were using along the streets out in front. A little unusual, so many of them scattered around, but then that's what they were, beach looking umbrellas sheltering the passers by from a not overly warm sun. Nothing struck me in the way of pictures. A better photographer wouldn't have had to say that.

So, coffee at a table in front of Peet's. I drank but half, more and more finding coffee tastes stronger and more bitter to me and I often don't finish it. This is true for breakfast, probably shouldn't get the large mug, let them refill a regular cup instead. They now say coffee is good for you, probably why I feel like giving it up.

Still the double vision. No vertigo, nothing like that, but it persisted pretty much through the hour or so I was out. I should be more concerned. It isn't getting better, it could be getting worse. Slowly, yes, but worse is worse. Is this the future for the rest of the life? It's in the way now, won't be any better if it doesn't stop.

I'd say I was bored or in a rut or not paying attention as I was walking. At another time, a younger time, there'd also be a jumpy feeling about it, a feeling that would eventually force you to make a change if it went on too long. I don't get that jumpy aspect. I see the double vision and aching sinus-upper palate are in the way, I see I may at some point want to change my neighborhood, but I don't feel any pressure behind it. I'm comfortable. I'm home now and I'll probably pick up the guitar later without thinking about it. I'm washed out but maybe too comfortably washed out to be washed up (ouch!). For how long?

Later still. A walk to the morning café to have lunch. I was hungry. Told myself I was hungry, anyway, it seems to come and go, something a little different. No double vision. The sinus-upper palate, yes, still in evidence, but losing the double vision makes all the difference. So lunch at the usual place and a walk back to the apartment finding one or two pictures that turned out to be reasonably decent. Better than the one's I took this morning. Maybe true, maybe not.

Sitting in a chair in Splash Pad Park on the way back a young African American dude happened to walk by with a camera around his neck, passing in front of me and noticing the camera on my lap. Not common, but not unusual either when you're out walking to pass another who's out shooting too. He must have thought about it as he passed because he turned around, returned and asked if I were a photographer and if he could ask me a couple of questions.

That's unusual. At his age I wouldn't have had the brains or the understanding to ask a question of someone so much older whom I happened to run across on the street, let alone for a young African American male to ask an old white guy for the favor in Oakland. I was impressed. At his age I wasn't that smart.

Yes I've been a photographer on and off for perhaps twenty years, the first time in my early teens. How long had he been shooting? Two years. He was quite comfortable with Photoshop and Lightroom and he was shooting pretty much everything he found when I asked if he tended to focus on certain subjects.

I gave him my artandlife website address and said I could only think of two things he might find useful, things I hadn't known when I was his age but wish I had: one, that learning photography was like learning any other art or craft: it takes time before you know what you're attracted to shooting and where it might take you. He's been shooting for two years now, so something is pulling him along. Don't be discouraged, it takes time, he needs to find what it is that's piqued his interest.

Secondly, by asking me a question out of the blue he'd shown himself to be very perceptive, not because I was some hot shit photographer, but because he'd understood there was no price in asking. Find other people he knows through their work and ask them for advice. He'll learn, he'll make contacts and he should understand it's flattering as hell when a younger practitioner asks for advice. Flattery will get you everywhere. Keep doing it, use it to advantage. That's the advice I'd have given myself when I was starting.

And if someone had actually given you that advice, what?

It could as easily have gone over my head or around my ears as not. Such, I'm afraid, is life.

The photograph was taken on the sidewalk outside of Ashkenaz Friday night with a Nikon D3 mounted with a 24-120mm f 4.0 Nikkor VR lens.