The problem with home

I recently went home to DC to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. It had only been a year since my last visit but overall my trips back to DC have grown infrequent in the last few years. For some reason, this visit felt different. Everything FELT different. And everywhere that I turned I not only saw what was in front of me coupled with visions from memory, but visions of what could have been. Visions from my past dreams of what I thought my future would look like overlaid on the reality of that now-future.

My dad and I rode bikes down to the Potomac River and stopped off at a stark wintery sight at Fletcher’s Boathouse. The boarded up rental house. The beached row boats. All useless and waiting to be used. Hibernating but empty. And this metal ball chained to a tree. Everything felt like a metaphor.

Maybe this is what a mid-life crisis looks like for a writer/filmmaker? I’m constantly envisioning lives, characters, scenarios. Everywhere I look is a possible story or scene. As I walked past the Smithsonian castle on the way to the Hirshhorn, I looked down the walkway with all the flowers and vaguely remembered a time I had walked through and sat there and that merged with a dream/thought I had had years ago when I envisioned what my life would be like to live and work in DC. In my younger years, I had done research work down at the Library of Congress and I used to think about what life would be like to live on Capitol Hill and go to the Eastern Market. And suddenly, I was seeing the future that never was, like my own Sliding Doors movie.

I’ve had the benefit of living and visiting in many different places all over the country and abroad and each has a multitude of dream-mes walking around somewhere in the ether, but the emotional impact felt different in the place where I grew up. The sense of loss greater, and I’ve been thinking about what that actually means to me.

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Girls and Their Dolls

When my daughter was around 3, she created what my father liked to call “Confederate Graveyards” (don’t ask me why) because she would line up pillows from around the house in a row, stick every doll face down on that pillow, and then cover them entirely with a blanket. The thing was, that’s how she napped in pre-school – you would lay down on a little mattress and the teachers would cover your entire body with a blanket. So my daughter wasn’t burying her dolls, she was putting them to sleep for their naps. I couldn’t find a picture of one, but she had around 10 dolls, so you can imagine the mounds lined up in my living room.

I don’t remember playing with dolls much, and I’m not a very girly-girl, but for my daughter, dolls are a living thing. In addition to putting them down for naps, she also did circle time and taught them like she was taught at her Montessori pre-school. I once opened up her closet to find 3 dolls in the back corner. When I asked her why, she said that “They were bad” and were being punished by getting stuffed into the closet. She didn’t seem to understand that maybe they had paid for their crime.

She’s going on 9 now and her imagination still astounds me. She has full-on conversations. Each doll has its own personality. My daughter teaches her class of dolls and stuffed animals, which now numbers in the 40s. I know have a step-daughter who’s 10 and she is equally (often more) intense about her dolls and play-acting. Like many girls, they have an obsession with American Girl dolls, the bane of any parent’s existence save for Disney. And the American Girl Doll stores are so crafty and clever about playing into this obsession: Come eat with your doll at the cafe! Get your doll’s hair styled! Hers-and-hers outfits so that girl and doll can match (swimsuits, pajamas, dresses, t-shirts, shoes…)

You would think with how much the girls love these dolls (and with how bleeding expensive they are) that they would treat the dolls like they were made out of porcelain and keep it tidy.

Such is not the case, at least not with my girls. They are everywhere in my house. Often lurking behind some corner or in a chair where I mistake that hair for an actual child/person. They freak my sons out, staring at the boys from their perch. Sneaky, sneaky little devils.

Enjoy the horror.

Foto Fridays: Going Meta

It’s a digital photograph of analog photography equipment…how meta.  A couple of months ago, I was home in DC to visit my parents and was advised to pack up all my books and things from the attic.  Now that I have a house of my  own, this was not only a good idea, but I missed my books.  They are old friends that trace a very turbulent part of my history.  The books I read in middle school and high school were a crucial part of my self-discovery.  And while they did hold meaning sitting on the bookshelves of their birth – in a museum kind of way where I could go and look upon the space of my youth, they truly belonged with me. Among the double-packed books was another old, but not forgotten, friend: my Canon FTb Ql camera.

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Foto Friday: Tribute to Neal Tonken

I can’t tell you what staying in public school would have been like for me.  All of my friends growing up were in public school and they all went on to go to college and lead productive, successful lives.  But after a difficult freshman year, my parents thought I would benefit from a smaller setting and put me through the admission process to private school.  In the DC area, private school is a huge thing because most of the public schools in the District are pretty terrible.  (I was across the border in a rich suburb of Maryland with some of the best public schools in the nation.)  And that’s how I found myself attending Sidwell Friends School – the same year that Chelsea Clinton started there.  It’s a school known for its Presidential kids (and kids from senators, congressmen, and other DC elites), a school known for its Quakerism, and one of the few private schools in the DC area that is co-ed.

Like any place, Sidwell had its problems.  And although I did benefit greatly from my education there, I don’t think I benefited from the school in the way my parents’ expected.  But by the time I graduated in 1995, there were things I took with me that only Sidwell could have provided.  And they ended up happening in the same year.

The first was falling in love with Luke Jensen the summer before Senior year.  The second was taking Neal Tonken’s “Fall and the Fallen” Senior English class that fall.

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Photos, Books, Life…

Don’t go thinking I haven’t been doing anything just because I haven’t been posting here!  Oh no!

I think that’s one of the things that we forget as creative people because it’s the WORK that matters, what we PRODUCE that can be touched or watched or absorbed through one sense or another.

But life happens.  And I want to experience it.

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And I’ve also just been busy trying to slog my way through the producing aspects.  So here’s a tally of what’s been going on and I plan to get this website more focused in the coming months!  Including a sneak peak of what I’ve been writing!

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