Thursday, January 27, 2005

No Snow Love

I had no idea what I was in for moving to New England. I imagined it would be a total culture and climate shift, but I underestimated the extent of this. January, my first January in Boston, was a month to remember but also forget.

Snow. Snow used to make me happy. My mom knows this--as a kid who always refused to get out of bed in the morning, she used to pull the "Get up and see the snow that fell last night!" which always worked. Now, snow equals dread--Alex put it all very nicely in his recent post. My disdain for snow is unfortunate because I really used to love the way city streets would fall silent and mostly motionless with snowfall. I still like this but I have a newfound sense of reality and unfortunately this serene segment of the New England snow experience doesn't last more than an hour or two. Snow is big business here. People spend and make a lot of money removing it and people expect life will go on as usual regardless.

In Seattle, snowfall means a day off, and not just for kids--everyone stays home. It's sort of like community hooky but I guess it's not really hooky because everyone stays home. People in Seattle really appreciate the snow not only for its beauty, although brief, but the no-questions-asked day-off it brings. Here in Boston, there's really no such thing. Nobody seems to really think snow is an excuse for not going to work, or canceling your usual routine. This city is well equipped with snow killing equipment and so as soon as the white hush takes effect, the plows come out, ruining the tranquility I long for.

Mind you, there is still snow on the streets here. No matter how many plows there are in this city, there's no way all the snow that fell last week could be removed. Although I complain about the rapid snow removal, I'm also beginning to wish it would not snow again for a very long time and that all the snow left would be carted away.

End of story: My relationship with snow has changed a lot. Where I once saw snow as a pretty white blanket I now see snow as a backdrop for gunk--it attracts the usual garbage, dog pee, vomit, and muck. But all this, against a white background, is really well, gross.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Our Neighbors, The Dirty Pigs

If you know me, you know I can sometimes be direct, really direct to the point of rudeness (sorry to those of you on the receiving end of this). Thankfully, I have my dear husband to act as my filter--last night he again proved to me that without him I might have 2 black eyes a good part of the time.

Let me first state something essential to this story: Boston is dirty. When I say dirty, I mean garbage is everywhere and where there is litter there are sure to be litterbugs. These aren’t the sort of people who look around to see if anyone will catch them being litterbugs. Instead, they are the watch-me-throw-this-and-I-dare-you-to-say-anything sort. Alex is the only person I’ve ever heard confront this problem, which makes me believe people just don’t care, or dont' think it’s their place to say anything.

We all know cities are dirtier then suburbs, but why? Is it that city life kills the clean gene? I just can’t understand it. I may be anal retentive, bordering on obsessive compulsive, but I believe people need to do their part to keep common spaces presentable. Every Monday I am reminded of just how little people care about this and what pigs they are.

Sunday night the garbage and recycling goes out onto the street. In our 5 unit apartment building, there seem to be at least 3 people living in each unit, with the exception of us. From my brief interactions in the hall, weekend noise levels, the glass and aluminum contents of recycling bins, and the fact that living in an apartment building with a constant collection of garbage in front causes little action, I am left to believe my neighbors can’t be older than 25.

Come Monday morning the collection and of garbage in front of our house ranges from the normal black garbage bags, to broken chairs and deteriorated paper bags of cat litter, complete with cat turds. All of this is arranged in a fashion that would make any garbage man mad, which is why that very garbage man selects only the garbage contained in bags or in a recycle bins to put in his truck. I know our trash arrangement angers him—last week, awakened by the rumbling engine, the crashing of glass, and the requisite beep- beep, I rushed to the window to watch him in action. What I saw makes me think garbage collection could be an anger management technique. Only about ¾ of any bin's contents actually make it to the truck and the force with which he hurdles the empty garbage bins onto the sidewalk, always leaving a sort of obstacle course for pedestrians, makes me fear him.

In his wake we are left with a street in true Boston form--trashy. Alex and I always go and pick up the garbage flying about and put it in one of the empty bins. I know we aren't the first people out the door in the morning which means our neighbors just step over everything like it's not their problem. They also fail to pick up their garbage left behind. On two occasions, last and this week, garbage from one entire household was not picked up (the same people who left the cat litter pile).

Last week, out to correct the situation, and knowing he was the more diplomatic of the two us, Alex created a very nice sign, complete with a smiley face and a cute play on words, asking people to please pick up their trash if it is not picked up my the trash guy. This went over well. The trash was picked up and our note was even embellished by a neighbor who put up an equally nice note with instructions about how to manage trash/recycling day. I was too quick to feel a sense of relief. It's a different week, same issue. This week’s trash was left out until last night when Alex finally picked it up off the street but only after I left a note and black garbage back taped on the entry door saying, “To the person whose garbage is still on the street, please accept this gift, a trash bag to put your junk in. Thanks, Christina Apt. 5."

Okay, I was mad and this was the nicest note I could come up with. I was reluctant to put it up so I called Alex to ask his diplomatic opinion on the matter but his cell phone was off. I thought about my note and thought “Hey, it bugged him too, and this note is kind of nice and I’m even offering a trash bag as a gift.’ So, I went for it. I tiptoed downstairs and taped it to the door and raced back up stairs with quickness. My need to tiptoe should have tipped me off—it was probably a bad idea. I then proceeded to have second thoughts--"Did I spell everything correctly? I better run down and check," which I did. Then fear--"Am I going to get my butt kicked someday because I signed my name? Or, if there is a fire and I don't make it out and the fire man happens to ask the person the note was directed to if there is anyone inside, would they say no and I’d burn to death?" You can see I have a vivid imagination, but of the worst kind.

I went to the window to check if anyone had accepted my gift, nope.

Finally Alex comes home. In his hand is a black bag and my note. I ask, “So you didn't like my note?” "It was a bit abrasive and there are probably better ways of getting what you want." Why is it that as soon as he points this out I can see so clearly? I of course try to brush it off with things like "Well, I'm mad and they should know better" or " I thought it was kind of nice and a little bit funny".

My lesson in this story and many in many others is always consult your better, much wiser, half before acting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My First Day/Night at School

Last night Alex and I took the commuter rail up to the beautiful town of Waltham, not so much for the nature beauty or ambiance of this little town, but because my long awaited photography program began. I'm pretty excited to have something to do--it's been a long long long 6 months here and I'm hoping, as the saying goes, that "time flies when you're having fun."

As with all educational institutions, the first day is boring with a capital B. The approach to the first day, from grammar schools to professional photography schools worldwide is always the same--a big chunk of time spent reading the rules and regulations and, everyone's favorite, the get to know you/me activities. These diversions from the more important issues at hand, in this case photography, always require an incredibly unique and captivating description of oneself to a room full of complete, but not for long, strangers. Why is it I am always one of the last people to go and when my turn arrives I'm sweating bullets and need to use the bathroom? If the conversation in my head were to be aired, people would think I had multiple personality disorder. The voices go something like this: "What would happen if I said I was a published author who can speak 12 obscure languages and hope to aspire to become a pornography photographer?" I steer myself back with "no, you are an adult, say something adult and silence your inner Katrinka” (note: Katrinka was the bad, and make believe, girl I blamed things on as a kid--like the time I tried to flush a brush down the toilet).
Last nights introductions were not unique in that they required some gimmicky addition to “Hello my name is…”. In this case, were asked to talk about a place we'd recently been, something we like to do, something we've always wanted to do, and a place we'd rather be, if we ever dared to not want to be there. Wanting to sound as interesting as possible I naturally pulled the Ghana card. I mean who could blame me? How many people have been to Ghana and can say their husband grew up there? The rest wasn't so exciting. I like to eat and knit, I'd like to milk a cow, and I would of course rather be in Seattle, but only if I wasn't able to be in that room at that very moment.

Another one of the activities, one which I had never encountered before, required me to count the number of f's on the small card I was handed.

Go ahead and count for yourself.


How many did you get?

I got 4. I was told to recount, again I counted 4. Then all of the people like me were told to stand in a corner of the room while the rest of the people, the people who counted the correct number of Fs were opposite us. Finally the truth, and the point of the exercise, were revealed: There are 6 f's (I think) and over the next year and half the people who only saw 4fs would learn to see all the f's they couldn’t see before. Uhm, okay, so is it just me or does that statement seem like a big dunce hat? For the record, my hat was tallest. J

Well, it's not that big of a deal. I'm just being..... well.... me :)

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's trip out to wonderful Waltham. I have homework, which is exciting. I have to start cataloguing photos I like--I'm not prone to walking around with scissors so I think I'll create an electronic file. I also have to bring in a photo I find especially well done or captivating--not sure what I'll bring yet, but I'll post it here when I do.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Light Vision

A Grim Exercise: Think for a moment what it would be like to go blind. Imagine all the things you'd probably never do again.

Here's my list:
Run to save my life, dance, watch a movie, oogle at my gorgeous husband, knit, cook, clean out the litter box, and complain about my cellulite or fat knees. The one thing that would really put a kink in my life would be my inability to do something I really love, photography.

If Michael Richard, the amazing guy the LA Times did a piece on, knew about the above list he'd tell me to scratch off the last item. The notion that photography is painting with light really rings true in his case.