Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Autumn of My Disco Tent Discontent

It has been awhile since I've had the creative spark required to write a post of any substance whatsoever. Several events of the past few weeks have caused me to become very introspective. My 85-year-old mother's health is up and down with several visits to doctors in the past couple of months, and another one scheduled for next Monday.

My brother, who is 62, is saddled with a lot of debt and having his workshop and residence foreclosed upon this month. I have no idea what he's going to do. We've been doing a lot of communicating via email and I suppose there are things he wants to share since we're all getting older -- things like my grandfather being gay. That was a bit of a shocker.

My grandfather died while my mother was pregnant with me in late 1959. My brother would have been 12 at the time I guess. His first wife (he went through three of them) was my grandmother and during my growing up years, she was something of a magnet for gay men. Apparently, that was not something which just suddenly developed in the 1970s. It would have been interesting to have known my grandfather had he lived long enough for me to retain any memory.

My father was very much into photography and passed that hobby to both of his gay sons. He had a darkroom set up at our home for developing pictures which was quite a long and drawn out process involving the use of negatives, and then a light source to project the imagine onto special paper. The image was still not visible until it was placed in a tray of some noxious chemical liquid which would allow the image to develop on the paper. Once the image had reached the desired level, the paper was then transferred to another tray of liquid which would stop the developing process. The photo was then hung to dry and he'd move on to the next negative and repeat this process. This really makes me appreciate digital cameras although aesthetically, the quality of my father's black and white photos was astounding.

He would later purchase a slide projector and a projection screen and we all began buying color slide film which had to be shipped off to be processed. Through the years I snapped a lot of pictures. I took my camera on many trips to Europe and my one trip to Israel and Jordan and captured many slides.

A few years ago my brother gathered up all the dozens of boxes of slides which were stored at my mom's house and took them to his place. He bought a slide scanner and managed to get quite a few saved digitally by 2004 -- photos from the 60s and 70s, but none of my trips overseas yet.

I have been in a state of heightened anxiety about the fate of these slides now that my brother is facing eviction. Last week I was planning a drive to Arkansas to pick them up. Unfortunately my brother was going to be out of town on some work project so I had to cancel my plans. And in a way I was quite relieved at being excused from a 9-hour drive to Little Rock, and then another 3 hours the next morning to the northeast corner of the state. Instead, he's going to keep scanning while he's still living there, and presumably, will box everything else up and ship it on to me at the last minute.

Aside from all that, I've had some sporadic back pain which I know is partly caused by stress, and also by an improper seating arrangement at my desk (which has been corrected), and probably by a mattress which is not suitable for me. It cost quite a bit of money to improve my seating comfort while working. It may cost even more to improve my sleep situation. But hey, I spend 8 hours in the bed and another 10 hours at my desk. It would be money well spent to improve my life in those 18 hours a day.

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