Sidewalk Picnic

I bought my first Christmas Gift this weekend. Tiny little piece of shit. But Macy’s already has their ‘holidays’ display out.
Is it really a true, politically-correct, sanitized-for-your-protection ‘holiday display’, if it only contains Christmas Trees, Angels, Nutcrackers, and tinsel? Aren’t they required by law to put in a menorah and something with “Kwanza” written on it, (since no one really knows what Kwanza is about… they need a better marketing plan.).
As usual I went to Eastern Market this morning. After two and a half rows of grandmother’s attic and oriental carpets, I recognized a friend from work, and stopped to annoy them. We stopped to look at hideously overpriced ‘egyptian’ stools, which are “the cheapest in town”, and then bought ourselves a picnic in the Market. We sat on the sidewalk in front of an evicted real estate office and ate. There was a homeless man behind us, with a 5 gallon mayonnaise jar lined with dollar bills. He was a real showman, pulling in passer-bys and whistling classic rock songs or TV themes. He whistles better than anyone I know, and had an amazing ear for getting every note,
After spending way too much time offending the people selling tacky jewelry, my friend dropped me off at home. I didn’t want to be out for too long anyway. I forgot my camera.
I’m obsessive about having a camera with me. I tell people that you have to know that anything can happen at any time in this city. I have pictures of debris clouds from the Pentagon floating over the White House. I have a picture of Janet Reno, who is one of only two famous people I’ve seen in this city unexpectedly; the other one being Donald Rumesfeld. And he looked so old that taking his picture may have stolen his soul, if he has one.
It goes beyond that though. Some people think I’m good at photography. But I know the only real secret to getting good pictures. Take a lot of pictures. I think there’s 130 images in my snapshots. But I have backup CDs of at least 5,500 shots. But still… it’s nice having people think you’re good at something.
I can paint and draw better than you, but I won’t win any awards. And when I show them my portfolio from work, most people just grow a polite smile. (How do you show off the effort and knowledge that goes into making something look unplanned but perfect?)
I’m a natural with digital equipment, from the days I used to play with my mothers pre-LCD calculator. I felt great joy at making it say “hello”. (01134). But companies want degrees and not aptitude. While a job well done may be nice, a training certificate is something you can show the court when you get sued.
I used to be a great friend too. So many people used to come to me when they were feeling terrible, or needed a place away from reality. But then I moved here, and I don’t even know the names of my neighbors.
So I carry a camera and people think I’m good at something.
I don’t really care what those people think. When was the last time you came home and did something more than watch TV and read the jokes someone sent you via email. I’ve painted, drawn, read, taken courses, fixed computers by phone, have a few truly amazing friends, and … taken a few good pictures.

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  1. Yes, you’ve described me. I am jealous of people who go out and create on their spare time.
    -that was funny, the stealing his soul bit !

  2. Nancy Gilbert

    TV is the “soul stealer”. I create quilts, like so many of your very talented aunts.

  3. Candace (Patrick's cousin in Texas)

    I had a website for writer’s once. I closed it. I was tired of only 5 members out of 100 staying active, and even those didn’t write stories! I was tired of their laziness, their procrastination. I didn’t want them reminding me of me! I have no portfolio of new pictures fresh from my Minolta….I don’t even have a new poem or short story written. I’ve been living off the giggles of my children. Being good at something is an amazing feeling. I wish I knew what it REALLY felt like. Maybe when Logan says he loves me more than icecream, maybe that makes up for all the stories I never manage to write….not yet anyway!

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