Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carte de Visite: Three English Gentlemen

Back in the late 1960s, as my grandmother fought her final battles with the cancer that would kill her, I realized that my knowledge of her family would go with her. The more I pestered her for stories, the more she kept saying that she didn’t know any. Finally one day I sat her down with her mother’s photo album and asked her to identify who the people were and what she knew about them. From there the stories flowed.

“That’s Mrs. Kelly who cooked for us. One time she came in to my mother and complained, ‘Mrs. Vandoler, Hyatt (my brother) spitted in the milk.’ ‘What did you do?’ ‘Why I just dipped it out. His spit is clean.’” She laughed and laughed remembering the story. So it went for a magical hour.

The pictures in that album became my link to the people I would research for the next ten years. But it was the people I didn’t find in the album who were equally fascinating. What stories, I wondered, might their pictures have told?

Perhaps that explains why I have developed one of my guilty pleasures over the last few years: collecting vintage photographs. Through antique stores and ebay, I have amassed a large collection of CDV, tintypes, and snapshots. One of my current focuses is the CDV (carte de viste) from the 1860s. I planning to write a novel centered in that time period and gradually people in the collection are being cast in the visuals I’m imaging for the novel.

Periodically, I will post some of my collection here on my blog.
[Sorry the pictures are branded, but I have had some people who have taken images of mine and then published them as their own.]

John Worsnop, Photographer
Bridge Street
Rothbury [England?]
Negatives kept. Copies always be had.

Monday, June 28, 2010

All You Need Is Love

In my life, there have been some songs that have resonated so strongly that they can instantly get a reaction from me. "All You Need Is Love" is one of those songs. I used it as the finale of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which I had placed in the 1960s.

On December 7, 2009, people in 156 countries made their individual versions which were then all cut together to support a global fund to fight AIDS in Africa.

Listening to it, how can you not sing along?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dance with me

This looks like great fun. What happened to line dancing anyway?

Dance with Me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learning about Seductive Design

Andy Budd of has a really interesting lecture on applying to the principals of seduction with web design. Although it's a filmed lecture, if you do web design there are ideas you can use.

Andy Budd - Seductive Design from Build on Vimeo.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Leave Me"

It's not often that a three minute film can tug at the heart strings. But this short film from Daros Films, about the power of a broken camera, does just that.

Leave Me from Daros Films on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Heart Attack

The heart attack came at 4:10 on a Sunday morning. I was supposed to cantor that morning for the 9:30 Mass and I wasn’t too comfortable with the psalm I had to sing.

The first thing I noticed was one of my cats had her paw on my arm as if she was trying to wake me. I don’t know; maybe I was moaning in my sleep or something. As I turned over, I felt the pain in my chest. It felt as if someone had hit me as hard as they could on my breast bone. I sat up and tried to tell myself it was nothing. But I had a triple bypass five years ago and although I didn’t have a heart attack then, I knew what the symptoms meant. And I knew that the new feeling I was having, feeling clammy, was another one. I got up and turned on Google just to tell myself I wasn’t being melodramatic. And then I got dressed.

“It’s fourfucking20inmorning,” I told myself.

I couldn’t face having an ambulance come and carry me off—the last time it happened in my apartment complex, the lady never returned. So I did the man-thing. I gathered my medication (so I wouldn’t have to try to remember what I take) and took a baby aspirin, found my Kindle and its cord, made sure I had my ICE information in my wallet, and then drove myself to the local hospital which is about eight blocks away. No one was on the road and I kept saying to me, “You’re doing fine…”

When I walked into the emergency room entrance, there was no one around. I walked toward the emergency ward and finally saw a nurse. “I’m having incredible chest pains,” I said. “Oh, God,” she said quietly and had me give the initial check-in information.

By that point things in my memory begin to blur. I know they led me to a bed and I was surprised they didn’t have me remove my Levis. They gave me baby aspirin, a nitroglycerine tablet and morphine to calm the heart attack that they determined was going on. It took till almost 8 in the morning for the whole thing to subside. The doctor who became my cardiologist told me later that I’d had a “mild heart attack.”

The doctors at the hospital determined fairly quickly that they wanted me at their larger hospital in Chicago where the equipment and the level of care would be better suited for what I was going through. So I was transferred by ambulance to the hospital. I remember watching the ride through the doors and wondering what would happen if the doors flew opened.

For four days I was in the Rush Cardiac Emergency Ward. Great nurses, good doctors. After the angiogram which determined that one of the grafts from my triple bypass--the one with an artery from my arm—had failed. “But,” explained my cardiologist, “there were lots of little veins which had grown there providing the heart oxygen.” (At least that’s the explanation as I remember it.) I had worried I would have another bypass surgery, but instead a regimen of medicine was prescribed.

I was fascinated to see my heart on a sonogram. And I’ve never heard the different sounds the heart makes in the various cavities. I learned a lot of new things.

At one point I worried how incapacitated I would be. “Can I drive?” I asked my doctor’s assistant. “Why not,” she laughed, “you only had a heart attack.”

My school was incredibly supportive. In spite of us only having three weeks of school left, my colleagues covered my classes. When I returned to work the Friday before the last week, one of my freshmen girls was the first to see me walk toward the classroom. She literally beamed. And when the kids got in class, they gave me a standing ovation. It still makes me smile. Later for my junior class, I usually stand at the door and give the kids the equivalent of a high-five—we hit elbows since swine flu made us all worry about spreading germs. Well, I started the elbows with the kids and one of them said, “I want a hug.” So he got one. And many in the class lined up for theirs also.

Having a heart attack leaves me in a new category. I don’t feel much different than I did, but I do get more tired than before. I realize I have to spend part of my summer trying to build up my strength.

The change I know I have to deal with is suggested in the statistic which says, “One out of every three people who have heart attacks suffer from depression afterwards.” Believing I was close to death, whether I was or not, suddenly makes me question lots of things about my life that I thought I had already found answers for. I had a brother and a sister and parents and grandparents—all of whom are gone. And I’m not sure I’m ready to follow them this soon. I have five books I want to finish—all in various stages of completion. I have artwork I want to do. But I have to fight the feeling that it may not really matter.