Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

My Year in Photos / February 24, 2009 / Comment on this

I’ve posted my 2008 collection for My Year in Photos.

smell / October 16, 2008 / Comment on this

The thing that gets me about all beers and most wines so far, (besides just generally bad taste), is the smell. And the first thing people keep telling me to do it to smell these drinks. But the smell immediately pulls me back about 25 years. Every single time, I’m put back in my frame of mind as a kid. People who smelled constantly of alcohol. The 5 gallon bottles of uber-cheap wine. A lot of less than positive stuff.
I’m not saying the drinking I’m doing is bad. (Although red wine still consistently tastes like feet). Just a trigger for early, ingrained things. Amazing what smells can do.

morning / December 17, 2007 / Comment on this

I have always liked wandering around in cities at ridiculous hours. Everything takes on a surreal quality. I used to work a semi-third shift at a newspaper, and would come home at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning, in a small town. And everything was quiet. It was when I first notice that night time tends to have no weather. Especially no wind. It’s a Twilight Zone episode, where you’re wandering around an abandoned city and nothings moving. My favorite memory of that job and those people happened when two of my coworkers, driving home from the same job, pulled over and started a snoball fight, in a suprisingly bright street at 3am.
The last couple weeks, I’ve gone to a club about 6 or 7 blocks away. It’s very nice not having to think about how I will get home. If someone offers me a ride, great. But otherwise, it’s nothing more than a short walk. And I’ve been stopping at CVS on my way home, since I’m inevitably hungry by the time I get out of the club.This CVS just makes me cringe in daylight. It’s every depressing aspect of city life all rolled into one little cell. But at 3am, even it becomes fascinating. And everyone wandering the aisles looks briefly at you as you pass, probably wondering why you would be out at such a strange hour in a place like this, (forgtting of course that they’re also doing the same).
About 4 o’clock this morning, I went down to the lobby to get a soda from the machine. Someone was running the dryer in the on-floor laundry room. That’s life in the middle of the night. You know it’s out there, but it’s all locked up behind walls and doors.

… all alone in the moonlight. / July 18, 2005 / Comment on this

Being an adult can be pretty cool. I get to have provolone whenever I want. The way I remember it, provolone was a special treat when I was growing up. Cheese usually meant New York Sharp Cheddar or occasionally those big government blocks of orange stuff. But provolone was special. It has this great, smooth taste. And it was round! The only other non-cubicle cheese I had any experience with were those things you get at Christmas with nuts all over the outside. I mean… my grandparents had round cheese. But it was always blue cheese or soft stuff. Blue cheese is mold, so… you know… ew. And cheese shouldn’t be soft and gooey. Butter is soft and gooey… not cheese. But occasionally we could get provolone. I don’t remember ever having it after Morelli’s closed. But Morelli’s had a little, mini deli counter thing. We could go in there and tell them how much money we had for this, and they knew just how much to cut. I can even remember going in there once with my own money, and buying it as a snack. Not a ten-cent popsicle, or fried pig-skins. But provolone. There was a little thrill involved… doing something surely wrong.
You can add that to my list of geek-hoods. Cheese Geek.
I don’t even know how long it’s been since I had a winter wardrobe?. I distinctly remember having winter and summer clothes, that were stored away in chests and closets during the off-season. Never liked that of course, because it meant giving up my favorite clothes. But outside a couple sweaters and my heavy coat, I don’t have much in the way of seasonal wear anymore. Spending so much time inside, even my shorts and sandals get continuous wear throughout the year.
I was thinking earlier tonight, as I stood at the window smelling the summer, how much I missed summer evenings in small towns. It meant coming in, tired and dirty. You could feel the day unwinding, like a cat yawning and hunting for that perfect spot to take a nap. You saw neighbors who’d just finished their days. The windows were open, of course, so you could still hear the city finding its way home. It’s not so much the event, as the feeling. Sort-of a tired joy, with no worries about tomorrow.
Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine does a good job of capturing the mood.
I also stood watching Pixel, just after I’d fed her, earlier tonight. I leaned against the corner in the kitchen, sweating from the humidity. Something about taking care of her is so much more real and tangible than all the other so-called adult things I do. Doesn’t hurt, I suppose, that there’s some very tangible feedback involved. It was sort of a mellower versions of one of those, “Whoa…. this is my life” moments. A sudden burst of self-awareness. You can see exactly where you are in the scale of everything in your life. Or maybe it’s just me feeling old, in bits and pieces?
Where am I? No idea. Some things in my life are so very adult and as-expected, that it’s almost depressing in it’s mundanity. Other things I do or have leave me feeling like I’m refusing to grow up and be responsible. I don’t have a reference point on many of these things, either, which makes it harder. My mother admits to having watched a lot of TV. But no adult I knew growing up could have spent time on the ‘Net. How does that measure up? Are reading things online that your friends have written, or seeing what artists have created, any more or less a reasonable thing to do than watching Carol Burnette? Going out to clubs and bars is something wholly new to my life. There were no clubs and bars where I grew up. Well… bars, yes. But not quite to the social extent they are here. My apartment certainly doesn’t look adult to me. But then, my friends are practically still living in frat houses. And, you know… a complete lack of romantic female companionship makes it hard to tell if I even could manage an adult relationship.
But is there anything inherently bad in the way I live my life? No. I’m no hermit by any means. I’m always looking for new things to scare myself with. I take full advantage of the freedom offered by a single life.
So yeah…
I got that going for me.

Microwave / June 8, 2005 / Comment on this

I think the best monetary investment I’ve made since moving down to DC is in my microwave. I’ve had the damn thing since 1998. There’s no other piece of electronics in this apartment that’s lasted that long, other than maybe a few watches missing their bands.
I bought it the first day I moved into this apartment. After my uncle had helped me move my shit into this place, I immediately took off for Sears, back out in Bethesda, where the day had started. At the time, it was the only place I was aware of that sold such large appliances. I was pretty excited. There was something so empowering and adult about buying a microwave. (yes, I have been a geek for a long time).
I picked out a reasonably sized one. Didn’t really think I needed the one’s large enough to dry laundry in. They sent me around to the back of the store — literally — to the pick-up counter. A ridiculous amount of time later, someone brought out my new thing.
The back of Sears, out at Montgomery Mall, is sort of around the corner, 90 degrees from the bus stop. I’m no small person, for sure, but even so, it was a pretty large box. Not heavy… just unwieldy. But now that I had it, I needed to get it home. And my only option was public transit. Of course, as I rounded the corner, I noticed the bus was already sitting there, loading passengers. I have no idea how, but I managed, carrying this box as big as my upper half, to jog across a mall parking lot. I have this picture in my mind of the little kid with a school bag three times his size, trying to run.
I wrestled it onto the bus, and apologized to each passenger who couldn’t get by me. I must have transferred to the subway at some point, but I don’t even remember how I navigated the escalators. From the subway, I would have had to carry it at least another 5 or 6 blocks to my apartment.
I’m a notorious saver of boxes. I always feel as if I may need it again, should I decide to sell or ship an item. But as soon as the microwave came out of the box, the box went into the trash. Well… you know… once I figured out where the trash room was. This was still my first day in the new apartment.
The microwave fit perfectly on my counter. It always sits in the same place. I’ve used it every day, without fail, I’m sure. Always works exactly as expected.
A good buy.
I sat back to rest and try to watch Hercules on a really scratchy channel, before I started to unpack.

Life from the back of a pickup / February 2, 2005 / Comment on this

Jessica was one of those friendships that was always doomed to self-destruct. For two years I watched her shed off another friend every three or four months, like ridding herself of an old skin. So it’s not really shocking that the time eventually came. But meanwhile… we had some fun.
Through Jessica, I was also friends with Michelle. Had a tiny little crush on Michelle, in the way that even though I didn’t think she was anything like what I would be interested in… I was still interested. But then, of course, there was also Michelle’s older boyfriend Mike. Mike… who had a job and drove a pickup. Drove the pickup while we sat in the back watching for cops. Nothing to make you feel like a redneck more than riding through the parking lot of a plaza in the back of a pickup whose tailgate won’t close properly. Or from the same spot, watching a country highway go by at 70 miles an hour.
Kashong Glen has been around longer than dirt. And that whole time, kids have been going there to drink and do stupid things. We hiked all the way down the Glen, without thinking that we’d have to hike all the way back up to get the truck.
I can remember all of use being out in front of Michelle’s house on her family’s farm. After she threatened us with the garden hose, I successfully charged her, but eventually fell fatally drenched. Inside we watched bad movies in a really small living room with many really big couches. Everything was brown. Or at least that’s the was I remember it. And when Mike bought a house, we all helped move furniture from the barn over to his new place.
There were parties at the end of the school year at Jessi’s place. I rushed out at the last minute, having nearly forgotten to burn my French notes and workbook on the miserable little campfire in the driveway. Across the driveway was a huge fucking pool. I sat on a floating air mattress one night and talked with Volivia, who was one of the family’s foster children that summer. We talked long into dusk, after everyone else had given up on us and gone to dry out on the porch. Michelle warned me to be careful, when I finally came in to get changed, because Volivia could get me into bed like that if she wanted to. Yeah. I was really worried about that. Next summer, after she had moved back home next to the hair stylist, Matishma moved in with Jessi’s family. Maybe this is where I started falling in love with bad women’
It’s really not the same taking the subway over to Rock Creek Park. I miss pickup trucks.

Disturbing people professionally for over 10 years / December 7, 2004 / Comment on this

I forwarded my family a knitting pattern, today, since so many of them are craft freaks. A pattern for a knitted uterus. My aunt’s response was a “That’s interesting!” that you could almost see being said to the 8-year-old that brings in the dead squirrel.
That kinda shit makes my day.
My shoulder hurts like a sunnuvabitch. and there’s still not much you can really do in the way of diagnosing yourself. (The last time I tried to find any medical diagnosis online was when I was mugged and wondered if I had a concussion.) I thought maybe I just pulled a muscle in my sleep last night. But it’s not really a particular action-related thing, so much as a dull pain that fades in and out.
But since Sara decided to make fun of me, I’ve promised to haunt her if I die from this.
But unless the pain has been building up over a long time, or I recently shoulder-checked an Izuzu, I must be imagining it. Or so they say.
It would really suck to die before I had a chance to become senile and finally have an excuse for my actions.
You know…
There’s this image of “a dark and dreary night”, summoned up by an after hours rainfall. And yeah, I can see why in rural areas, where a nighttime sky normally filled with thousands of stars and a huge moon are suddenly obscured.* But every time the water falls from the sky, this five-lane road in below my window becomes a sort-of black mirror, casting a colorless brightness. When everything dries up, the asphalt becomes a black hole, just sucking up all the light you can throw at.
* Picture it: ten years ago (fuck!). While working at Camp Seneca Lake, I escaped one night to go to a Aerosmith concert in Syracuse. Being on the kitchen staff, they really didn’t care what we did so long as the bodies were cleaned up before morning. But at 10, they did lock the gate at the top of the road leading to camp. Returning after the concert at about 1 in the morning, without a flashlight, on an overcast night, in the middle of dense woods. I’ve been walking in the woods after dark for decades, (double fuck!) but it must have taken me an hour, and an entire pack of matches, to find my way down the pitch black road. If anything so much as a squirrel had run across my path, I would have no doubt taken off and run face first into a tree. Not a pretty sight to find in the morning.
Okay… so maybe that’s only interesting to me.
I was very easy to amuse that summer. It was the worst job I ever had. Two years before there had been a child abuse scandal, so everyone was still overly cautious. Several members of the kitchen staff were in prison just few months later. We were considered slightly better than hostile vagrants by the directors, (who amazingly are still there) and their staff.
Still gotta love the day my friend from college showed up to take me away for the weekend. This was a very white, very rich, and very conservative camp. And I was sitting on the porch with the Director when a fresh-off-the-line, glaringly-white sports car pulls up, and a beautiful girl from Hong Kong steps out. (Audrey Shum, if you’re out there.) Talk about being out of place. Best of all, she didn’t even notice. So I just waved to the Director whose mind had hit a roadblock, and got the hell out of dodge.
No doubt anyone brave enough to start reading this entry has long ago given up. But… you know… when I look back over my 500 plus entries, these little personal things are what stand out, not the links to articles, or quotes, or whatnot. So I don’t know what you’re here for… but this is me.

bucket rides / August 19, 2002 / Comment on this

Nothing brings home the truth that you come from a small town than finding out the big attractions at this years festival included rides in the bucket of a power company truck.
I woulda so been there.

I am tired as / December 17, 2001 / Comment on this

I am tired as shit.
Keep your comments to yourself.
This day just did not want to be. It raced through itself, accomplishing little, and meaning less. Even my daily newsletter was pretty empty.
I didn’t even have a chance to get pissed off at anyone new today.
I remember a teacher in school left jaw droppingly shocked when I used the term ‘pissed off’. I really couldn’t believe it. Of all things to be offended by, descriptions of anatomical functions dont get much tamer than “PO’d”. I don’t think this teacher ever left her room, for in the halls she surely would have expanded her vocabulary.
Imagine… a teacher with no practical knowledge.

I miss doing laundry / November 11, 2001 / Comment on this

I miss doing laundry in college.
Women don’t sneak their underwear in with my clothes any more.

I miss. I miss / October 11, 2001 / Comment on this

< nostalgia >
I miss.
I miss sitting on the trunk of a car as dusk rolls over, with nothing better to do than sit there talking.
I misss the sound of crickets outside my window as I fall asleep (not the one damn cricket in DC who has choosen to roost outside my window whenever it rains).
I miss the scene outside my bedroom window that didn’t change in 18 years of living there. I can still see the chipped gray paint on the neighbors apartment building. And the painting of window lights across the neighborhood every night.
I miss sitting in the back of a pickup going 80 down the road to Kashong Glen.
I miss jumping through foot deep snow on a regular basis, and seeing 20 foot high piles of snow in the supermarket parking lot that would still be there in May.
I miss sitting in the rocking chairs on my grandparent’s porch, watching the day fade away. The same house where the egg man delivered on a regular basis, and we could hear the ice cream truck coming from 5 blocks away.
I miss the time when the most powerful act, natural or manufactured, that I had ever seen was watching the lake that had risen 9 feet. (That’s an estimated 10,221,120,000 cubic feet of water). It was this massive body of dark gray matter threatening to overtake the land.
< / nostaligia >

kitchen, home / November 7, 1997 / Comment on this


sometimes you gotta be.

there are just some things that can only be accomplished or fixed by going slightly crazy.

I remember my freshman year in college. i had nowhere to sleep one night thanks
to a practical joke that had left my bed soaked. so I asked a close female friend of mine if I could use the spare bed in her room. she was fine with that, a little more fine than I knew. when i showed up that night, and was laying on the spare bed, she turned off the lights, turned on some slow music, and climbed into bed. When she patted the bed next to her and started saying, “you come sleep here, you come sleep here”, well, my mind just sort of iced over. I was a college freshman at a technical school. according to all known laws of physics, a woman shouldnt be willing to sleep with me for three more years.

So what’s the solution. Just ramble on senselessly, telling bad jokes, and being a little nuts. Hey, I didnt offend the woman, and was able to calm my own nerves. (For those nosey people who wanna know how that turned out, ask me)

I was a leader of types on my dorm floor for several years too. I found no easier way to bring together groups of people who hated each other, or at best were apathetic, than to do something totally unnecessary, illogical, orreverant, and insane.

Anyone who’s ever been in college also knows what finals week is like. Imagine having a dentists appointment, your in-laws visit, your wife leaving you for your sister, and getting replaced at work by nothing; all in one day. Then multiply this by 7 days. You begin to get an idea. Whats the best cure….

studying? *BEEEP* wrong answer…
sleeping? *BEEEP* sometimes, but not ussually…

a road trip to a local restaurant to eat something called a garbage plate that contains materials that dont fit into any of the known food groups, followed by a viewing of MST3K in the lounge till 3 in the morning. (all this ussually followed by a deep meaningfull discussion none of the participants remember in the morning)

*ding**ding**ding**ding* correct

Or a girl you care very much about, who though you haven’t been talking to lately, has apologized and promised to come visit in a week or so to talk. Then, a week later, she dies in a plane crash on the way home from spring break. Yet again, my brain just sorta shut down, while I hid in my room a few days, yelling at the walls and at myself.

yeah, there’s some things only going crazy can help.

Gannet Multimedia Lab, RIT / October 17, 1997 / Comment on this

There are things I will miss about college. I dont think any of them have to do with class. I did learn a few things, but I coulda done that anywhere.

But here are my friends. For the first time in my life I could say that an mean it. People who cared about you, people who where there for you.

“A friend is someone who has seen you at your worst and still likes you”

Where else will I:

  • be awake at 4 in the morning, discussing the benefits of playdough.
  • go for a walk to the supermarket (wegmans) at midnight.
  • get to decide I am just too tired to go to that 8 am meeting or class.
  • talk about religion for hours and actually remain interested in the conversation.
  • trade racist jokes and insults with my friends (who are Korean, Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese).
  • be able to eat something called a garbage plate.
  • be able to feel im not staying up late until I see the sun rise.
  • mention anything about computers without getting a blank stare in response.

  • have someone yelling at me one day and crying on my shoulder the next.

These are my family, my friends, my life. Its all Ive known for the last four years, a time when I did a helluva lotta changing. I am no longer the person I was at home, and dont like it there. So I am off to make my fortune ($1.25) in the real world.

Gannet Multimedia Lab, RIT / October 6, 1997 / Comment on this

I never expected anything normal at college. Everyone has seen Animal House, or some other cheesy frat/college/20something movie. In fact, I revel in the notion that I am far from normal. I find no greater comment than when people tell me I’m crazy.
But some things are just nuts.
Take my nickname for example. Sometime around my sophmore year, I aquired the nickname “Bitch”. This might be fine except for the fact I am a 6’3″, 180 lb. male. Hardly femanine. However, (thanks to Matt Williams) I will forever be known to many as a female dog.
Like I said, I love being abnormal. But a nickname like this does cause some strange situations:
Sam is walking down the walkway to class and thought he saw me ahead of him. So he yells out “Hey Bitch!”. Oops…not me. But suddenly a very annoyed stranger who is ready to fight. Needless to say, Sam doesnt talk to me until I get close enough to identify now.
I love to pick on Lea. Sweet, innocent girl. I was holding some money for her one day. I refused to give it back for a little while, when she started getting annoyed. So out of her mouth comes: “Gimme my money, Bitch!” (Can you say cheesy 70’s pimp lingo? I knew you could.)
Or try explaining to your female supervisor at work why someone just said “hey Bitch” as they walk past the two of you in the hall.
And every year, the freshman have the worst time. They are nervous to begin with, and someone then tells them to call this guy Bitch. Takes ’em weeks to get used to it. Personally, I refuse to tell them my real name.
I just know someday I’ll walk into a job interview for an executive position, only to be greeted by “Hey Bitch!”