Tuesday, June 11, 2024

If You Just Don't Care

I called my mother yesterday morning and asked her how she slept, how she felt.  She slept like a rock, she said, for a long time.  I asked her if she felt anxious.  She said no.  I guess that antihistamine really did its job.  She said the lidocaine patch had helped her back, too.  O.K.  Things were going splendidly.  

On the other hand, I had slept like shit and my lower spine and right hip were killing me.  Selavy.  

Before taking my mother to the hospital, things were swimming along nicely.  Sunday was pretty much like Saturday until mid-afternoon.  I didn't get out, didn't walk or take photos.  I just sat at the computer and edited surf pictures and listened to music.  I hadn't showered, hadn't eaten.  I'd not had any social contact for days, so I decided to go unwashed, to maybe walk around with a camera before getting a big old mimosa.  Wearing yesterday's clothes, I picked up my camera bag, slipped on some flip-flops and headed out the door.  

But, by God, it was hot.  The streets were silent.  Anyone with any sense. . . etc.  I don't have much sense, of course, but I had enough to know that walking around under a sun that could knock you down was a bad idea, so I had a better one.  

When I walked into the cafe, there was a short line to the counter.  All about, however, were young girls lining up to get into the Photo Booth.  The cafe was packed with them, and they all seemed to be in costumes of micro mini puffy chiffon petticoats. 

Were they a team, a tribe, or was this a rage?  I hadn't any idea, but they seemed happy and very excited.  "Their parents must all have died," I thought. . . then, "and it seems to be a good thing."  

Yea, yea, yea. . . whatever.  But you don't get this kind of weirdness anywhere else in town.  

When I got to the counter, the girl smiled and asked, "Large mimosa?"

Well, now. . . that was kind of nice, being remembered and all.  

"Say. . . that's a swell idea," I said.  

She grinned, stepped into the bar, and came back with an armful of oranges.  I watched her slice them in half and press them using the big juicer on the bar.  When she came back, handed me my drink, looked at my Leica and asked, "What are you taking pictures of?"

"Nothing yet."

"Are you a photographer?"

"Everybody with a camera is one, I guess."

"Yea, I guess so."

Fuck it, I thought.  Just do it. 

"D'you want to get me started?"  I asked holding out my camera.  

Oh, boy. . . did she, without hesitation.  She immediately went into "that pose" that you see on Instagram and TikTok, head tilted, eyes wide. . . that smile.  It is ubiquitous.  

"O.K.  Don't smile.  Stop it.  Just look at me."

"Like this?"

She couldn't quite, though, the best she could do being that little Mona Lisa grin.  I told her I would get her a copy once I had the photos cooked up.  

Yesterday, I was up early and decided to finish painting so I could put all the pots and furniture back on the deck and tidy up so my neighbors wouldn't have to look at the mess any longer.  I scraped the peeling paint off the outer wall and  put a coat of Kilz Primer on it.  It would take awhile to dry, so I decided to take a walk.  I had four shots left on my Leica, so I decided to take it along and see if I could finish the roll of film.  When I got to the end of the street, I passed a fellow digging holes in the yard of a hundred year old house that had been turned into condos.  Just as I got past, I heard him yell out in a booming voice, "Hello!"  I turned to face him and said hello back.  He walked toward me and began talking.  It was a little strange, I thought, but he was smiling and being friendly.  He looked at my camera.  

"What are you taking photos of?" he asked.  Well, now.  

"Just anything.  I'm trying to finish up a roll of film.  Here. . . I'll take a photo of you."

He hit an interesting pose and I snapped.  

"If this turns out, I'll get you a copy.  This is a new film and I have never worked with it before, and from what I read, developing it is kind of like experimenting, so. . . . "

"Do you develop your own film?"


I said I'd come by when I finished my walk and get his number so I could text the photo to him.  

And so I went on my way.  I was happy.  I would finish the roll, 36 frames.  But then the counter went to 37. . . 38, 39, 40.  Oh, shit.  I started rapidly winding and releasing the shutter.  Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.  The film had not gone through the camera.  

I would have to tell the fellow, "Never mind."  But I've had a sea change recently, and after a long absence, I've been remembering myself.  It's taken awhile.  But I just don't care too much about what people think anymore.  

It seems to be working.  

Later in the day, I painted the wall with actual paint.  I am sloppy and dripped yellow paint on the green deck, so I will have to touch that up, but this morning, before it rains, I am going to move everything back to the deck.  The cleaning crew comes today and I have much to get done before they do.  Sometime today, the roofer will come to look for the leak.  I still have the apartment stairs to clean and paint, and then I need to attack the mess in the utility shed.  There is no end to the shit that needs to be done.  

But so it goes.  There is a guy I watch on YouTube, Martijn Doolaard, a Dutchman who bought two stone cabins in the Italian Alps that he has, so far, spent two years making livable (link).  I began watching him when he was riding his bike from Canada to the tip Argentina, making videos all the way.  Now, every week, he posts a video of what he has done to the cabins.  It is all work punctuated with cooking and the occasional hike.  It gets to be fairly monotonous at times, of course.  But it is fascinating, too.  Over the years of living alone and working, his personality has changed.  When people do come to help him, he seems odd with them, unable to carry on a conversation.  That's what solitude will do to you, I guess.  You learn to become silent.  You realize that most of life is silliness and jabber, and you begin to avoid it.  People tend to say the same things over and over again, mostly regurgitating something popular they've heard somebody else say.  I think of his videos to get myself working on these mundane chores that are necessary and must be done.  There is goodness in work. . . when it is done.  

But once in awhile. . . you just have to go to the cafe to see.  It is so silly and superfluous. .  . and pretty.  All those little crinoline skirts, ankle socks, and Mary Janes.  And if you're lucky, the girl behind the counter will remember you and know what you want.  

Maybe. . . if you just don't care.  

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