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9.06.2010

A PICTURE'S WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, OR SOMETIMES LESS

There are two kinds of people - those who take pictures and those who don't.  Those who record every event no matter the significance; births, the entire first year of life, playing, sitting, breathing, bar mitzvahs, the Superbowl party at their house, the zoo, birthdays, family game night, all sporting events of their kids lives, the school play, every family gathering, vacation, their friends kids, preschool-elementary-junior high-high school and college graduation (all arrays of varying cap & gowns), the junior high band concert, major childhood injuries that involve crying and anything else that can be put in a scrapbook with a caption gets photographed.  Then, well, there is me.  The other category - those who don't take pictures.  There are some pictures taken by me of my daughter in the first couple years of life and then they taper off from little to virtually nothing.  I would have to say most of the pictures in my possession were not taken by me, but my mother.  She is uncategorically in the first category of excessive picture takers, but with one exception; a great many of her pictures are well, bad.  My sisters and I can't always figure out why she took them and what was going on with her camera when she was.  She religiously, after every family gathering, will send all three of her daughters copies of pictures that pertain to their family taken by her camera.  That's how my boxes of pictures came to be.  I always had great intentions of recording an event, would sometimes even remember to take the camera with me.  Something I learned though, to get a picture you have to take the camera out of the bag.  My problem has always been I live very much in the moment - richly in fact.  Feeling it, savoring it at the time, recording the emotions & thoughts in my heart and head.  I'm way better at that than I am cameras.  What about all the bad pictures taken of me over my lifetime against my will.  Just to name a few; curly blond hair showcasing my strong-willed look standing on top of the piano bench in my little blue dress at 2 or 3 years old (my parents recording what would be a regular facial expression on me - a combination of nixxieness & strong willedness).  My third grade school picture with my ever popular "shag" haircut, hounds tooth dress and a look that said "I've had mono this school year" (really did have mono).  Standing in line waiting on the school photographer to say "next" you were handed a small black "picture day" comb.  My third grade teacher, who I hated with a passion bigger than most things I loved, proceeded to comb my hair the opposite direction that it was meant to go.  Why should it surprise me coming from a teacher who, during lunch duty, would eat the stewed tomatoes right off your tray (not complaining about that one redeeming thing about her)!  My mom took a picture of me the first Sunday I took my daughter to church.  It's a funny picture when I look at it.  I am so young at 21 years old and etched across my face is a look of love mixed with equal amounts of terror.  The picture was taken after we had to turn back home for me to change my shirt which in the 6 mile drive had gotten soaked with breast milk - thus the terror recorded in the picture:)  There is another picture of me that screams one of the things I love - laughing.  Recorded yet again by my mother at a family gathering at her house.  It shows me slapping the table with tears streaming down my face after my brother-in-law told this story about a lady in their church who could only say "howdy doody wow".  I was a skinny kid growing up (till the summer I worked at the bakery) so most summer pictures show my twig legs and body (my sisters lovingly at the time referred to me as "Festus", a gauntlet looking character from the show "Gunsmoke"...why couldn't I be "Kitty"!)   There are not a lot of shots of me being very girlish.  Mostly tomboyish, holding cats, being dirty and always sporting some interesting haircut and conversation bubble above my head.  Another feature that can be seen clearly in every photo of me growing up, that is since the lip incident to the present, is my very crooked smile. It's up for debate whether that crookedness was there previous to my sisters pushing me down causing a gash from the bottom of my nose to the top of my lip.  They then, in loving sisterliness, pulled it apart to see the gash.  Unfortunately it wasn't a straight line cut, but ran off the center line to my right.  I remember no stitches, no crying and a somewhat not as straight smile from then on out (certain people comment on that crookedness and find it endearing or call it my shitty little smile).  Pictures record emotions in still life too.  Like the time while on vacation in California I dropped my parents hotel room key in the unheated, frigidly cold pool in San Francisco.  They made me dive in and get it with both water and air temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  The photo captures me surfacing, the key in hand, and anger and hypothermia flashing across my face.  Or, my junior prom picture of me and my date.  I am in a pink with gray dotted dress that my mom made - ugh:(  My date's pants are so short you can see his socks, his vest is too small and above my head silently are the words, "This is NOT going to be fun!" (and it wasn't).  The focal point of many of my pictures and my sisters, highlight the haircuts given us by our aunt, who was a beautician. There are pictures with newly donned "shag" cuts, the Dorothy Hamil, long styles, short styles and bangs cut nearly to the scalp (it was about time and economy for my mom).   Don't worry, mom recorded it on her Kodak:) 

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