Month: June 2014

Face your fears

Face your worst fears:

I am deadly afraid of the DMV office.

This is a place where whole afternoons go to die. A place where slow, surly, indifferent service, frustration, boredom, and public wearing of crocs and sweatpants eats at the soul and causes irreparable psychological and physical harm. But today I had no choice but to return the plates for my recently and miraculously sold 200,000 mile plus Subaru or risk liability for the misfortunes and/or misdeeds of the poor sucker who bought my car.

Upon entering the dreaded office, a vivid vision of my worst nightmares presented itself to me in gory detail. The entire waiting room was filled with an army of characters who would have failed a casting call for The People of Wallmart, all displaying a range of facial expressions and postures that indicated states of minds ranging from severe annoyance to on the verge of perpetrating a mass shooting. My palms went clammy and my mouth went dry. I felt a little lightheaded and suddenly wished that I had visited the bathroom once more before leaving the house. Too late now. Screwing up every subatomic particle of my courage, I took a ticket from the LED adorned dispenser and scanned the nearly full rows of seats, searching for a spot next to someone who appeared least capable or likely of perpetrating a random act of violence against a fellow sufferer, but not yet requiring adult diapers. Just then The Voice of What passes for God at that address boomed over the loudspeaker.

“Ticket number 2257, window Two.”

I looked at my ticket for the first time and saw the magical digits 2257 printed in bold black thermal ink. Not trusting the evidence offered by my eyes, still adjusting to the indoor lighting, I checked the ticket again and then the LED board overhead, which both corroborated my suspicion that a miracle had indeed taken place. Mine was the first number called! Ignoring the lethal stares that no doubt every one of them was drilling into my vital organs in hopes of willing me to drop dead, I attempted to casually saunter past the assembled ranks of disgruntled would be New York State motorists to window number two, where I was pleasantly greeted by a smiling young man who promptly received my plates and issued a receipt with a courteous nod. I wished him eternal happiness and a long life, and quickly exited the building past the rows of the unfortunate, my mission executed in less time than it took me to type this report.

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a hard earned lesson

A few years ago I was going to do a “mixed blood” portrait project in collaboration with a good friend. We even built a website and bought the domain name “Mixedblood.org.” Our idea was to focus on images and narratives about mixed blood individuals. Then I traveled to Mexico for a couple of weeks and the experience of being immersed in a society where everyone had mixed blood was exhilarating — but also made me question the logic of the whole enterprise. I also felt that something else was missing from our idea, & just couldn’t make it work conceptually in my head. Then Life happened and we never did get that project off the ground. So seeing this article about the work of CYJO is a bit bittersweet. Now I realize in a big “Aha!” moment that it was the uniqueness of mixed “race”(whatever that means) FAMILIES such as the one from which I came, that allow and require the children to forge their own sense of identity from diverse cultural influences. Being of mixed race is a phenomenon that transcends the individual and can only be shown in the context of a family. Cyjo figures that out and made the project work. I can draw two lessons from this realization: 1. If you have a project idea, GET IT DONE before someone else beats you to it. (Not the first time I’ve “learned” this lesson the hard way!) and 2. Don’t get too stuck on an initial idea of how to execute a concept- think all the way around it to to see if there’s a better way to approach the problem. Both my partner and I were pretty alienated from our own families at the time and no doubt we wore blinders to the importance of family in the story we were trying to tell. A little less focus on our own situations and more openness to that of others would have let us see what now seems an obvious solution to the problem.

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