Tag Archives: old

play with your toys! or play with your friend’s toys…

I got a scanner from a friend of mine to make “trashograms” for my trashsociety.com blog.  I’ve had a lot of fun making other scanogram (or digital photograms) art projects with it, all random objects sitting around my house.  Check them out…

Playpen prison.

Creepy vintage doll. Can you imagine the look on a kids face opening this up for Christmas?

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1 day until Christmas…

I came home late from work last night and found a small package on my front porch. The package was not a surprise. I was expecting it and I knew what I would find inside. I picked up the vintage gray, mottled paper envelope off the ground and carried it inside.

I had received a phone call a few days ago from my mom, telling me she’s coming to see her grandkids. I had to let her know I don’t have the boys this week, they’re with their dad and I won’t get them back until Christmas day. A day later, she left me a voice mail that she would see the boys over there and she would leave some photos by my front door. My mom came to town yesterday, left the photos, just as she had planned. I suppose she saw the kids too, just as she had planned.

Although I was expecting the package to contain photographs, I wasn’t prepared for the non-accidental, odd collection of them, depicting my life. On one end of the spectrum, photos of my parents before I was even born, at the other end, my pre-divorce family photos. What was I expecting? Some snapshots of my kids from her last visit to Frisco. What should I have expected? Anything but some snapshots. What did I get? Pieces of my life on tiny scraps of matte paper, some mocking happiness, others simply evidence of my existence, all carefully arranged into a loose album of heartache. Merry Christmas.

Enough of that. Wow, only one more day of journaling the 25 days of Christmas. Although the countdown is over, I plan to push the digital pencil one final time for this project, a summary of sorts, on Christmas day.

Transposing my insights, perceptions and visions into comprehensible words is so incredibly challenging for me. Images, no problem. Words, easier said than done. Also, there’s the fear of writing something that nobody will read. I realize I’m somewhat opinionated and can be a pushy activist when I’m passionate about something. To some people, that makes me interesting, to others, I’m probably just plain annoying. For now, we’ll say I’m interestingly annoying.

So many have asked, “Why are you writing? What’s the purpose of blogging the 25 days of Christmas?” I have many reasons.

I want people to see the fun, humor and creativity in everyday life.

Remember, this blog started as a way to showcase silly Christmas yard art. Why do we have plastic Santa statues and hang several strings of tiny bulbs all over the place for Christmas? Even though Christmas yard decor seems to be caricature representations of the Christmas spirit, it’s the juxtaposition of an important birthday and our cultural creativity. The evolution of the Christmas story is like hearing a story through a large circle of people. The story is told by each person in the circle, one person telling the next what they just heard. Once the story has made it’s way around the circle, there might be some small resemblance to the original story, but with personal and cultural embellishments, and sometimes, and element of fantasy.

We’re all quirky in our own ways and I’m simply pointing out that Christmas exaggerates these peculiarities. Let’s enjoy this! Not just around Christmastime, but all year long. I’m throwing out a challenge here. In the next week, take one photo of something amusing, creative or just plain weird. Upload it to your Facebook page, write a couple of sentences about it, then tag me on it. This exercise will change the way you see ordinary, everyday sights. And don’t blame me when you start finding ways to take secret photos, like pretending to talk on the phone while snapping pics. Of course, I would ever consider doing such a thing.

I want to challenge people to think differently about Christmas, including myself.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, this doesn’t require much explanation. Think outside yourself, don’t get sucked into the cultural Christmas entropy and keep making positive changes after Christmas is packed neatly away in the attic. I know I will fall back into my old ways, those of being too busy, but not busyness with a good purpose. I don’t want to forget about meeting Tom on the highway or forget about Flo, the ghost of Christmas future. I want to remember Christ’s birth all year long and be mindful of God’s wonderful gift.

Self expression and personal growth.

Some people cry to express feelings of anguish and sorrow, or some might even show displays of anger. My expression of negative feelings is necessary, however it is manifested through aesthetic, tangible pieces of art. I must convey my pain and pleasure through art, to the point that if I don’t fulfill this need, it will pull me down into the depths of depression. Until yesterday, I thought I was the only person on the planet that deals with emotion this way. I’m not. Just last night, I met someone that has the same affliction.

My writing, as well as my art, tells a story. When I take the time to read my written words and gaze at my own artwork, I learn things about myself that I didn’t know. This is my self-awareness process. Now don’t get me wrong, I have many issues, and some I’m sure many I’m not aware of (which I’m sure will be pointed out by my friends reading this), but it’s helpful to me. Sometimes it’s painful, like looking at the envelope of photographs last night, sometimes it’s helpful, gaining an understanding of why I do things so I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

If you’re looking for warm-fuzzy-happy stories, you won’t be reading this, as you would have clicked away long ago. If you’re looking for some thought-provoking, realistic stories with obscure personal views, then you’ve come to the right place. Christmas is hugely important, and I’m not talking about the stock market implications. The birth of a savior has been overshadowed with the cultural Christmas. I don’t want to be in that shadow.

With my treasure chest of words, I can only hope to make a tiny impact in this large cultural crater. Whether you stumbled upon these blogs by accident, found them through a subject search or you know me and I pestered the crap out of you to read them, my hope is that there might be one tiny little piece of meaningful wisdom that means something to you. If not, this has still been a great experience, as I can use it to better my own life journey. The tattered gray envelope and its contents may represent my past, but does not predict my future. Merry Christmas.


8 days until Christmas…

I want to talk about ghosts, those scary, shadowy phantoms that haunt all of us.  The dictionary definition of a ghost is a dead person’s soul, imagined as a vague, shadowy figure.  My definition is a bit different.  Now maybe I watched too much Casper when I was young, but I think ghosts are typically friendly and they’re usually trying to teach humans a lesson.  Aren’t ghosts just people spirits in 32% transparent bodies with a 78% vivid light outer glow?   Yeah, okay, I spend too much time with Photoshop.  I do believe ghosts can be dead or alive.  Whether it’s the dead ones that are completely invisible or the live ones that are in plain sight, their presence is known.  Yesterday I visited one ghost, and two ghosts visited me.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I have to say, I didn’t want to see this ghost anymore than Scrooge did, but I reluctantly, yet intentionally decided to visit him.  This particular ghost is one that I usually don’t go searching for, but I thought it might shed some light on my Christmas beliefs and struggles with our existing Christmas culture.  This particular ghost is a vintage Poloroid camera, as the ghost of Christmas past has presented himself in photographs.  The person behind the camera?  My grandpa.  He passed away many years ago and I miss him terribly.  My grandpa was a shutterbug and also the designated family photographer.

My first exploration took me to a large box in the garage, filled with old photos that belonged to my grandparents.  I enjoy looking at the past, captured through my grandpa’s eyes, on these little black and white squares.  I love visiting this box, but you couldn’t tell that from the amount of dust on it.  I searched though the box, looking for any Christmas photos I could find.  I found Christmas photos of my dad, aunt and cousins.

The second part of the search took me to my own childhood albums.  These albums were meticulously organized by my mother, every photo page referencing my age in years and months.  I can only imagine what these albums would look like had they known scrapbooking back then.  Not only do these albums contain photographs, but every birthday card I ever received as a child.  There must be hundreds of them, and I would venture to say, there are as many cards as photos.  I guess that explains why I don’t like cards.  All those cards are symbolic of how many superficial contacts my parents had, it was the number that meant something, not the depth of the friendships.  Christmas was no different, there were hundreds of cards taped on the wall, creating an oversized map of  numerical acquaintanceships.  It looked to me like the US, and if anyone looked closely enough, I expect they would have seen tiny little cars driving aimlessly all over it, looking for an unknown destination.

I was an only child until the age of 13, and I was the poster child for ‘spoiled brat’.  The photos I found depict the excess of gifts, boxes in such large quantities they spilled out into the room from under the tree.

I remember getting so many gifts, my mom always shuffling me toward the things she liked best, asking me how much I liked this and how much I liked that.  She was buzzing around the gifts, all the while, reminding me how lucky I was to get all this stuff.  As a child, I remember it being fun getting so many presents, but the moment it was over, the emptiness set in.  I saw my friends and neighbors celebrating Christmas and I could tell, even at that young age, that they were experiencing something I wasn’t.  It looked nice, felt warm and seemed surreal, yet I had no idea what ‘it’ was.

The ghost of Christmas past brings a melancholy gloom, but visiting with this ghost gives me hope.  A hope that I might be able to find ‘it’.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Get it?  Christmas ‘present’?  I crack myself up!  The really funny thing?  This crazy ghost manifested herself in the form of a present, and yes, she led me into the abyss of retail madness.  The human ghost behind the present is Candy.

Remember me telling you a few days ago that I needed to buy one more gift?  Yesterday, I set out to find a pair of mismatched shoes for Candy.  No, you couldn’t pay me enough to go to a mall to shop this time of year, although you could pay me to go there and people watch.

I made my usual discount store rounds, looking for a specific ‘Converse’ style pair of shoes, but in two different colors and patterns.  Now I haven’t been shopping in a long time, but when did all of the shoes turn brown and black?  What happened to all of the fun colors and styles?  Boring!  I received some strange looks as I asked for help, and as I’m guessing, nobody actually goes to the store to purposely purchase a pair of mismatched shoes.

I have to say, I was very excited to find a pair of Sketchers for $16.99.  Yeah!  All I have to do is find another inexpensive pair in the same style, now how hard can that be?  Let me just say that I never intentionally bought a pair of mismatched shoes.  My favorite pair?  One came from Kelly Tuggey, the other from a thrift store.  I really needed to get back to work.  Where should I go to find another pair to stylistically match?

Running out of time to find a deal, I had to settle for a higher priced place.  I finally found a pair of orange Ed Hardy shoes.  Yes Geoff, I paid $49.96 for these puppies!  I know I will never hear the end of this.  That was about half of what they would cost at the mall, but it’s way more than I would ever consider spending for a pair of shoes.  And don’t get me started on the statement part of this!  Ed Hardy… phssshhh.

So what did I learn from this ghost?  I learned that sometimes it’s good to do things you wouldn’t normally do.  The cost, whether financial, emotional or otherwise, is very worth it.  Even though I won’t be there to see Candy open her gift, I know that she will love the shoes.  I’m going to write her a note and have it translated, telling her that she is special and loved not only by me, but everyone.  Yes, Candy is a very special ghost.

The Ghost of Christmas Future

I met the ghost of Christmas future last night and her name is Flo.  She was at the nursing home where our church was hosting a Christmas party for the residents.  This is a photo of Flo talking to one of the kids at the party.  The little girl was asking what her name was and Flo replied, “My name is Flo.  Pretty crappy name, hey?”  She had my full attention now.

Flo and I have the same hair philosophy, wash it, go to bed, and whatever you wake up with is the new style of the day.  Capturing Flo in a photo was a difficult task, as she was working the room at an unbelievably rapid pace.  Her walker, with tennis ball feet, must be jet propelled.

During one of the Christmas songs, she was dancing.  I later told Flo that I captured her dancing on video.  She asked, “Is this the New Year’s party?  You got me dancing?  I don’t remember doing that.  I’m not leaving this party until I see myself on TV.”

Flo is cute and spunky, and in her day, I bet she was a blast to hang out with and had many friends.  Flo disappeared from the party early, I’m assuming to get ready for bed.

A while later, a large group of us went caroling down the halls.  There were four wings, and I so desperately wanted to find Flo again.  Toward the end of the last hall, there it was, Flo’s room.  She and her roommate were sleeping.  I see Flo as the ghost of Christmas future because that will probably be me in 40 years.  We were not allowed to take photos in the rooms, you know, all that HIPPA junk, but when I saw the painting hanging over her bed, it took my breath away.  I had to secretly snap a photo.

In the nursing home filled with small traces of personal artifacts, arranged into the same basic, beige shell, this colorful painting spoke loudly about Flo.  I knew the moment I saw it hanging over Flo’s bed, that she loved color… and loved life.  I so terribly want to know her story, but Flo’s memories have been stolen from her.  Sadly, Alzheimers, or whatever she has, might have taken her memories, but it made me happy that it did not rob her of her wonderful personality.

I told my kids about Flo last night during our prayer time.  Joe prayed for her not to die before he had a chance to meet her.  She might be his ghost as well.

We can all learn from our ghosts, and whether you go seeking them or they come to haunt you.  Don’t be frightened.  Also, don’t ignore them.  Remember these are friendly ghosts, and they want to show you something in your life through their own human experience.  The Christmas spirit?  Yep, it’s a ghost, and I think I’m a little closer to it now.


clean

cleanThis is a light painted photograph that was part of my series called ‘excessable’. 


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