Thursday, July 21, 2005

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

...when I arrived home from work today and saw THE BROWN BOX sitting on the floor next to the computer. THE BROWN BOX that contained the thing I've been wanting for two years. The CAMERA OF JOY!

...twenty minutes later, when the camera had frozen five times, and been unable to focus in any kind of light I introduced it to, and had a nervous breakdown when I tried to use the zoom.

And so goes the story of my life as it relates to anything a) that I really, really, really want, and b) technological. It's a bad combination for me, to really, really, really want a technological toy.

It's been pretty crummy since about 1:00 today. I got back from a very nice walk at lunch across downtown to the library, in which I saw any number of interesting things, including a bunch of yahoos who don't know how to drive downtown, a bunch of small boys wearing baseball mitts and following their dads to the stadium, a bunch of drunk college-age boys walking toward the stadium, a sad-looking man with only one leg leaning on his crutches against a building, a young teenage boy begging people for change on Fountain Square, a short, fat woman whose legs sticking out under her skirt looked like tree trunks complete with bark, and a tall thin man having both sides of a conversation with himself as he crossed and re-crossed the street. I found some good CDs at the library. I walked back to work and the day went down the shitter. There was a ton of work on my desk, another crisis with B over some stupid grammar rule and her abrasive personality, and traffic was absolutely awful since the Reds game got out just before rush hour. (I rant this rant repeatedly: Why put two huge stadiums *right* downtown? And why continue to have ball games that end five minutes before rush hour starts? Oh Cincinnati. Oh you finicky, coy, stupid creature.) It took more than an hour to get home, and I was so eager, so anxious to get home today. Because THE CAMERA had arrived.

Some small part of me was prepared for this disappointment, but that small part of me that was prepared was not enough to handle the onslaught of angst that the poor functionality of the camera brought out in me. It just crushed me. I felt guilt, too, for thinking that a material object was going to make me happy. I am the least materialistic person I know, and yet I put so much on this camera that when it didn't work, I felt completely terrible.

So I put the dogs outside and curled up on the bed with the door shut and the blinds pulled and laid in the dark and thought about that for a while.

It's not the camera. It's what the camera does. It's how the camera allows me to release the things inside me that make me feel like I'm worth something as a human being. I feel like I am nothing if I'm not creating something. My output swings to different disciplines from time to time--I draw, I sculpt, I take pictures, and most of all I write--but it doesn't matter so much what I'm doing as that I am doing something creative at all. Without an outlet for this urge to create, I get all backed up and fucked up and the little things I take for granted the rest of the time start to go, such as my ability to comprehend sentences longer than five words, or to remember which knob is hot and which is cold on the faucet, or to make it from point A to point B ten miles away on skates through city traffic (and this ability is necessary to my survival as a sane human being).

If I can't create, if I can't put something in the world that wasn't in it before, if I can't shape what's inside me into something I can put outside me and look at and say, I did that, then I'm nothing.

If there's a barrier between me and the thing I want to create, it's terrible to me. It's physically painful, just behind my sternum and gut. Sometimes the barrier is physical; I want to sculpt a dragon and I'm out of clay, or the urge to write something long strikes me but I'm not near a computer and have no paper, or I want to draw but all I have is a busted ball-point pen and a cereal box. Often, the barrier is mental; I can't get past my fear that whatever I might possibly create will be awful, and so I can't create anything at all.

The camera, fortunately, comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee from the company I bought it from through Amazon, a safe-buy guarantee from Amazon, and a warranty from Konica. One of those three options (and I'll be looking into all three tomorrow) ought to get me a refund. I'll have to wait for the refund before I can order another camera, and then wait for that to ship.

It really isn't a bad thing; I'll still get the thing that will allow me to release the creative demon, it will just take longer. That is not horrible.

But I live so temporally. I am almost as existentialist as my dogs. I feel what I feel right now, and feeling the weight of the camera in my hands and feeling the weight of its uselessness in the face of my nearly overwhelming desire for it to work pretty much stunk. I spent the rest of the evening attempting to read, but was unable to string together the words in front of me into any coherent images or ideas in my head, and I thought it would be better if I did *something* creative. The results of that thought are the drawings above. Drawing that wooden, malleable model of the human figure is so mathmatically concrete to me that it always makes me feel validated. Something happens in my brain while I'm drawing that thing; some chemical is released. I can feel it. I become a better person because I understand those lines, and how to use the blank spaces around the figure to create it. The drawings are surely not Van Gogh or Picasso, but they make me feel real. In their case, the product is worth far less than the process.

And so, I have more time to savor the anticipation that the next camera I get will not be a hunk of useless plastic and metal, but it's tinged with annoyance that this had to happen at all when I had so much emotionally riding on it, and fear that I'll get another lemon. My luck with technology is about as golden as my luck with poison ivy.

Speaking of which.

I woke up this morning and realized I am poison-ivy free. The bit on my wrist has turned to the merely annoying dry phase that signals the end of it. I am poison-ivy free for the first time since April.

I can only hope that this signifies some sort of larger positive change in the status of such things as how completely stoopid I am to get so upset over a camera.

Oh yes--to all those interested in the saga of the fickle fighting freshwater fish--they've somehow settled their differences, although they all look a bit worse for the wear. No casualties in the fishtank today, but lord only knows what tomorrow will bring.


At July 22, 2005 12:13 AM, Anonymous Suley said...

"Talkin’ jivey, poison ivy
You ain’t gonna cling to me
Man taker, born faker
I ain’t so blind I can’t see"

At least you are ivy free.

The people of Cincinnati sound like something out of a Bruegel painting.

What CDs did you pick up at the library if I may ask?


At July 22, 2005 6:32 AM, Anonymous E said...

Oh, J....I'm really sorry. I know how it feels to be looking so forward to something, only to have it crash and burn before your eyes. I know it'll all work out, but that doesn't help in dealing with the annoying effort that has to go into getting it fixed and the delay in "releasing the creative beast".

I'm really bummed for you.

At July 22, 2005 7:43 AM, Anonymous M said...

I as well feel bad.
However, I have a solution!
A cold beer. Or four.

At July 22, 2005 8:56 AM, Blogger Pieces of Me said...

I am so sorry...Hopefully it will all be fixed! here from Michele's! Have a great weekend!

At July 22, 2005 9:09 AM, Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

How disappointing that your enw camera doesn't work! That totally sucks!
Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I'm glad to have found yours. Mind if I stop by more often?

At July 22, 2005 11:50 AM, Blogger J. Star said...

Kross-eyed kitty: Of course you can stop back! Please do! :D

Suley: You'll laugh at me.
-Moby, Everything is Wrong (Which for some reason I didn't have)
-Los Lobos, Colossal Head
-Dadawa, Sister Drum
-Tower of Song, covers of Leonard Cohen
-L7, No Doubt (told you you'd laugh) and Wyclef Jean stuff

THanks for the sympathy about the cam, y'all. I'm still wallowing in self-pity. Tonight, per M's suggestion, I will wallow in cold beer.

At July 22, 2005 2:23 PM, Blogger Mr. Brightside said...

Who knew online purchases were so much blind dates? Try and try again. Hopefully your next camera will not be such a disappointment.

At July 22, 2005 2:51 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I'm sorry to read about you going through the camera hassle, but thank goodness for warranties and guarantees! I'm so behind technologically speaking that I still don't own a cell phone, much to the chagrin of family and friends. But if I had one, would they call me? Hmm....

At July 22, 2005 4:38 PM, Anonymous inzane said...

who needs a camera when u can draw like that? technology is a fickle mistress. i'm not sure if i recommend her ;)

still, i can completely sympathize. the last two things i bought (an SD card and a hard drive) both failed on the first use. and me without a friggin receipt. gotta read that mullen book.

At July 22, 2005 8:07 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

You feel worthless without your creative outlet, I feel worthless when I can't ride; it's the definition of who you are. I don't think how you felt was stupid at all. Sounds like a bad day Friday for everyone involved.

Congrats on the poison ivy though, that's got to feel nice!

At July 22, 2005 10:14 PM, Anonymous Suley said...

Are you kidding? Most of those are pretty ill. Everything is Wrong was the first Moby LP I bought. Still love that "sound system rockin'." And Los Lobos? Excellent. My favorite is "Kiko." No Doubt doesn't make me laugh. Tragic Kingdom is one of the best pop albums of the 90s. I have "Tower of Song" as well.

It's a neat snippet of my music collection. I was never much of an L7 fan, though. And Wyclef? Not much of a fan of his solo stuff either.


At July 22, 2005 11:16 PM, Anonymous ciesca said...

ouch, so upsetting that you cam doesn't work well.. but hee, see the positive thing: you'll appreciate something more when you put so much effort getting it! won't you? :)

At July 23, 2005 1:10 PM, Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

You are an artist at heart....!

Have you ever read The Artist's Way? by Julia Cameron?

I think you'd like it!

Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's

And I Quote Blog

At July 23, 2005 2:18 PM, Blogger BG said...

My J. Starry friend... I'm sorry the camera didn't work. On the other hand I LOVE your little drawings.

And just let me tell you... you don't really need a camera to capture moments. As I read your post, I saw what you saw on the streets... and I felt it too. You're great with words!

(I'm talking about the paragraph that begins with the "It's been pretty crummy since about 1:00 today.")

Take care!!!


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