My birthday was on Saturday, so we took the occasion to take the kids to the fair, along with Juliette's sister Noelle and brother-in-law Ricardo. It was our first time going to the fair in five or six years--the first time ever for Ricardo and the kids--and both Juliette and I noticed how much more crowded it was than we remembered. None of us were quite sure why, though I suspect it had something to do with the economy and the cheap price of entry compared to the local amusement parks.
Having been through this once before, it's no surprise to me that Eva puts everything into her mouth. It's a little surprising, though, how good she is at it. Fingers? Yep. Jason's toys? Check. Tonight she helped herself to about half of Juliette's dinner, and where Jason would have had it all over his face, chest, hands, and hair at that age, Eva managed to get the bulk of it into her mouth. With finger dexterity like that, maybe it's time to start looking into some early violin programs. They take 9-month-olds, right?
As you may have noticed, I've made some changes to the site design. I've been wanting to do this for a while now, partially in order to better feature my photos, but also just because the old design was feeling kind of stale. The changes are almost entirely cosmetic, but, as always, if you find that something isn't working properly, please let me know. You can find my email address on the "About" page.
Look at her. She's just fallen on her face, trying to crawl but unable to coordinate her limbs properly, but she's not upset or frustrated. She's calm and interested, nothing more. It looks as though she just decided to take a quick break right there, and as soon as she's ready she'll be back at it. Which is, in fact, just what happened.
She's not always an angel, but she's so often so good-natured that I can't help but wonder where she gets it from. Not from me, certainly.
This photo was taken less than three weeks ago. She not only crawls well now, she's even started pulling herself up on the furniture. Still calm, interested, and happy, but I'm going to have to move a lot quicker now.
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting that afternoon, but it wasn't a corral full of people getting makeovers from sailors, next to a stage where other, more scantily clad sailors were tap-dancing. I'm not sure if the DJ was expecting to have his picture taken by a shlubby-looking guy in worn-out jeans and scuffed New Balance sneakers, but I guess it was a day of surprises for everyone.
Ice Cream Truck
I still remember the excitement I felt as a kid when the chiming notes of "The Entertainer" would waft in through my bedroom window at my dad's house. It's funny, I probably only ever actually bought anything from an ice cream truck a handful of times, yet the memory of that song and that bedroom and that feeling remain in my mind. Much more than the actual treats, and certainly much more than the people driving the trucks, who were probably at least as bored as "Tammy" here.
Juliette doesn't have these memories, growing up out in the sticks as she did. Even my town, where I grew up with my mom, was too small and rural for ice cream trucks--I only ever heard them on the weekends my brother and I spent at our dad's. But now I live in a city, on a normal suburban block, and I see an ice cream truck go by every couple of days. I wonder what my own kids will think about that, thirty years from now.
I guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Parenthood is always a bit of a balance between utter chaos and quiet profundity. Sometimes both at once.
If we let him, Jason would put his entire room into his bed before going to sleep--he'd fall asleep on top of a giant pile of books and toys, which he would then proceed to kick onto the floor over the course of the night. It's looking like Eva will be the same way.
Lifting your daughter over your head and listening to the sound of her laughter, then ignoring the fact that your arms are tired when your son asks for a turn, because it's fair, and anyway it's worth it to hear him laugh, too.
Sending your son to "time out" because he threw a ball at your face, even though you had just told him not to; listening to him scream about not wanting to, but not giving in; ending the whole thing with an explanation and a hug; and knowing that, even though he'll do it again, he means it when he says he won't.
Getting choked up at the card your son "wrote" for you, even though in it he says that you're 12 years older than you are and makes a big deal about how much you like to eat beans.
Taking a moment to marvel at how tiny and adorable your daughter's feet are--even though they are so much bigger than they were just a few months ago--then having your reverie interrupted by noticing that her toenails are getting long and wondering whether to go get the clippers or just bite them.
Ultimately, a difficult thing to summarize or quantify, and maybe the most important thing you've ever done.
Just Keep Swimming
Juliette asked me tonight how I was feeling. Honestly, I'm starting to feel like I'm floating again. I've reached a plateau with my photography where I'm not advancing commercially or artistically. My portrait bookings are sporadic, and while my clients have universally been happy with the photographs I make with them, I don't feel like I'm making much progress, if any, toward a self-sustaining life in photography. Nor do I have the time to dedicate toward building that business.
On the other hand, while I'm proud of how far I've come artistically with my personal work, I have very few outlets for that work and essentially no useful criticism. I've gotten a few photos into some curated groups on Flickr, but even though that was and is exciting, there's nothing there for me to build on, and no real feedback as to what's working and what's not, whether my rejects have shown potential or are just crap. The few critiques I've solicited have been generally positive--some overwhelmingly so--but while that's a nice ego boost it does nothing to help me grow as an artist.
And so, I feel adrift, directionless. I don't have the time or resources to pursue further training, and I don't have much in the way of an artistic community to bounce ideas off of and to give me feedback and criticism. I'm just continuing to do what I've been doing, but it feels more like I'm treading water than making any kind of forward progress.
I'm not really sure where to go from here, except that I know I don't want to give up. I know that when I look at pictures like the one above, it makes me happy--happy because of the moment in the picture and happy because I was able to make that image. That ought to be enough, but for whatever reason, it's not. So I suppose until I figure things out, there's nothing to do except take Dory's advice: just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.