Photography: Jealousy & Beauty

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I want to get out of my photographs. I keep coming back to two things:

  1. Jealousy: I want to make anyone who looks at my pictures wish there were standing beside me at the moment I took the picture; and
  2. Beauty: I want to make the subject, whether it be a landscape or a person, look beautiful.

I realize there is an opposite side to this. If I were to take pictures of war or tragedy, then I’d probably be going for loneliness and devastation. But the point is that, for me, the spectrum of photography (whatever that means) is both very linear and polarized. Anything in between is probably a bad picture.

Veterans Day

Thank you to all of the veterans who fought for the freedom of the United States of America. I cannot imagine the bravery, selflessness or call to duty to which you committed yourself, and it is something that will forever move me.

It is impossible to argue that I do not take for granted the freedom for which you have risked your life, for no amount of thanks or recognition that I or anyone else gives you could revive what you, your families and friends could have lost – your vigor – your pep – your esprit – your life — your love.

My late grandfather, Clifton Francis Rogers, served for two years on the USS Rowan, landing in Nagasaki. Whether I was too young or it didn’t seem right, I never thanked him for serving, but his service was and continues to be one of the many things I admire about him.

My uncle John Goebel served. Thank you, Uncle John, for your service.

My uncle Guy Goebel served. Thank you, Uncle Guy, for your service.

My uncle Jon Palomaki served. Thank you, Uncle Jon, for your service.

Everyday Everything

She was his everyday everything, and he realized he would never replace – or fill – the part of his heart that he had devoted to her. It’s not that it was off limits, for he had tried to reach it every day since he last called her his love. Instead, the void was simply too enormously significant to fill with any other memory.

He had loved since, but it was never the same. Everything felt like some crude high school mock-up, not a Broadway set. The pinnacle of his recent loves was, to be austere, the destruction of the set pieces and, equally, the black absence of the negative space when it was over. In that space, he could see through to what was left of his shattered and failing memories.

Loop and again, he couldn’t get her out of his mind. But the sad thing was, his memories were fading – not much faster than the basal sliding of a ten-thousand year glacier – but fading nonetheless. Stored sensations that he once carried in and around him now seemed as far away as the migrating sea gulls circling above the summer bay. He devoted hours of his days to trying to remember the details that mattered most – the ones he now missed the most. God, damn it. The beginning wasn’t right and there was no end.

It wasn’t much of a leap to presume that in spite of the bad and the worse, the fighting and the distance, the intrusions by others and the exclusions by one another he could have had her for the rest of his life. They could have persevered.

Love is perseverance he would say aloud when there was nothing else he could do to calm his hands which shook from anger. He would fold them together and say aloud that love is perseverance. That sturdy set around him both walling him in and walling him out.

Written from 11:45pm to 12:15am on Sunday, November 8 and Monday, November 9 of 2009 in my childhood bedroom in Traverse City, Michigan.


Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It’s linked so you can check it out and confirm that I’m not just making up a word. It is short for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write 50,000 words during the month of November without thinking (much) about quality, flow, etc. – the things that usually slow a writer down if he’s trying to do his best writing.

Every year I get excited about possibly participating in NaNoWriMo, but have yet to commit for an entire month. If you do the math, you have to write 1666 words per day to hit 50,000 words by December 1. That is a lot of original content, even if the quality isn’t superb.

I’m dying to do it, though. So I’m thinking of starting now and running a few days into November. (As if I can’t just pick any 30 days of the year!) Also, 50,000 words is short for a novel. I’m thinking of writing a series of short stories.

So this is it. Let the writing begin. (Just FYI, this post is 175 words.)

Finding Meaning

It is just me or do you, too, ever look back at how you spent a day and wish you could have done more with it? Today was not one of those days, but I’ve have a few lately that, if I could tweak them a little, I would. I’m not talking about the days when bizarre or unexpected stuff happens that messes up what you had planned to accomplish. What I’m talking about is those instances when you chose to do a task that, even in the short run, didn’t have that high of a value to you.

For example, a few days ago I opted to sync my Google contacts list with my Apple AddressBook. This wasn’t hard, but it took about an hour by the time I sorted through stuff and shifted files around. This is a chore that I know will make me happy in the very short run. I’ll be able to say, for about 24 hours, that I have no duplicates in my contacts list, that the information is accurate and well organized. In just over a week, however, discrepancies work their way back in, there are two John Smiths, etc. So, I look back at that hour I spent and wonder why I bothered. Did I spend my time wisely?

Multiply that experience by several dozen and you get what I and most people in the digital age deal with on a monthly basis. I don’t have to look hard to find some transient discrepancy within my own little world that could use sprucing up. But why? What is the cost? And what is the alternative?

Why re-sort my storage shed instead of trying to write a book? Why search for duplicate songs in my iTunes instead of learning how to better invest my savings? There are a dozen trade-offs that I face everyday, and many times I make productive decisions, but there is also a lot of waste. The waste is getting to me because there are an increasing number of distractions (for whatever reason).

A certain order is necessary, and a variable amount of time and effort is required to maintain that order. But I’ve always believed in two things:

  1. Little things done right can change big wrong things; and
  2. Never let the big picture fall (too far) out of focus.

I propose that instead of doing something mindless and long-run-irrelevant, find meaning in something – even the little things. I’ll do the same, and the collective improvement will leave us both feeling better about our days past and our days to come.