Photoshop has been my latest obsession. It's been really nice to have something new to spurn motivation and channel my creative impulses into. I've woken up almost every morning with a new idea for a photo, or lain awake nights planning and plotting what possibilities I could explore next. I made a deal with a local antique store to rent props from, and have mapped out locations. This whole planning thing has been quite a new experience for me. Those of you who know me know that I prefer intuition to organization and structure. In the past all of my photography has been just that- I see something that looks nice and I take a picture of it. All of this planning and setting up scenes has, on the whole, been rather disappointing; but I think I'm getting better at it. The photos I've been coming away with are pretty terrible, but I'm really impressed with all I can do with them in Photoshop, and am ultimately rather pleased with the end results.
This past year I've really felt like my life has been in a slump. Maybe it's always been in a slump but I was too preoccupied with university to realize it. As of now I don't have that distraction anymore and certain things are really starting to get to me. I need some more light in my life. I need a place with more windows. I'm tired of living in this dung hole of an apartment. I'd always told myself that it was just a temporary way to save money until I finished my degree. Well, the degree is finished. Time to move. My current plans have failed, as the best laid plans so often do, and now I need to figure out the next step before I lose all momentum. This is difficult, because as I said before, I'm not a planner.
I've been listening to this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFFul1nXwUY incessantly. Hawkmoon 269. I don't know about the video. It's the only way I can think of to get the song where you all can hear it. Just listen to the song. This song has come to characterize a lot of the image work I've been doing lately. After years of being an avid U2 fan, and careful scrutiny of their lyrics, I can say with confidence that this song is not about some girl withholding her love. It's a song about what I feel, what we should all be feeling deep down in our souls. It is the something which is missing in all of our lives. Even as Christians that sense of loss is there, that need, that desire. We're missing that perfect communion with God; love in its complete and perfect form. This world is such a dark place, and we're so used to it that we confuse the thinner linings of brighter clouds with the sun. A couple of my friends have expressed their concern that I've been producing a lot of dark and depressing stuff lately. I suppose I have. But in no way is any of it meant to be hopeless. It is simply that we who recognize this place as fallen, as a temporary home, we know what we're missing. We know what the rest of the world is missing. Why not express that?
For fear of becoming complacent, of forgetting, I need His love.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together."
Friday, January 9, 2009
Posted by John at 11:18 AM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
On my list of annoyances, shopping carts rate on a par with things like houseflies, cancer, and Al Gore. Now before you write me off as a bigot, I will admit that shopping carts, like nuclear weapons, have their uses. I grew up in a family of six, and I know how much work it is to lug a week's worth of food around a grocery store. It wouldn't be possible if not for shopping carts. I also know how much fun it can be to accelerate a cart up to 50mph or so with your car and then send it speeding off into the night. Nevertheless, I think that shopping carts are the spawn of Satan, and I'm going to rant about it.
First of all, shopping carts never work properly. This could be due to the fact that some people spend hours in dark parking lots pushing them with their cars, but regardless, it is a proven fact that most shopping carts are defective. I could go to a brand new store with brand new carts and I would still have to spend 5 minutes sorting through the wasteland of the cart garage thing to find one that doesn't insist on turning left. Something I've never understood is how cart wheels often seem to get clogged with hair. I could understand if they were entwined with plastic bags or something, but hair? Where does the hair come from? From the shoppers? Of course the one cart I might find with functioning wheels will also have a fresh coat of some unidentifiable sticky substance lining the bottom. I usually pretend that some shopper must have just forgotten a bag containing a quart of icecream. That must be it.
Another thing I've noticed is that it seems that shopping carts have gotten continually larger since I was a kid. Usually things get smaller as you get bigger, but this hasn't been the case with shopping carts. I don't remember it being possible to block an entire isle with one cart when I was younger. It never fails to happen now though. In the same way that a soldier surveys the carnage around them, looks down at the blood on their hands and then abandons their weapon to wander forlornly in the world, their eyes forever asking 'why?,' the shopper abandons their cart mid isle, losing themselves in a hypnotic trance, disappearing forever in the the vast evil that is Walmart. Couldn't they at least take the darn thing with them? And how does one manage to turn a cart perpendicular to the isle you're in anyway? That takes some serious effort. Is it also necessary that everyone in the store take a cart with them when they shop? I can't count the number of times I'll see a single person pushing a cart through the checkout stand with two small items in the basket. Now Hummers are unnecessary and wasteful vehicles, and I've heard all sorts of people rant and rave about excess and frivolity in conversations that center around Hummers, but if the average person can't make a modest choice when entering a supermarket, can one really expect them to do better with something major like a vehicle purchase?
Lastly, you can tell a lot about a person's general sense of respect for humanity by watching to see what they do when they've finished unloading their cart. They have those spaces that are cordoned off with concrete bumpers for shoppers to put their carts when they're finished, but roughly half of the population prefers to leave their carts in or next to one of those parking lot planters. I'm not quite sure I understand the logic behind this. Maybe these people think that it's nicer for the cart. I mean, it's nicer to leave a dog tied up in the shade, so shopping cart will probably appreciate it more as well. Or maybe these people can't tell the difference between the concrete perimeter of the planter, and the concrete perimeter of the cart return. There is nothing so frustrating than when one has been driving around looking for a parking space, only to find the last one has been rendered unusable, and that it actually bears a striking resemblance to the crash site of a derailed freight train. I don't understand why stores don't require a $2 deposit to use a cart, and then refund that deposit when the cart is returned to the rack...but of course then some grocery store workers would be out of a job...
Posted by John at 3:55 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
In our never ending effort to bring light and color to this desert town, and ultimately the world, my friends and I have undertaken a new project. We've amassed a large amount of canvas, sewn together, making a screen which stretches about 3 meters by 3 meters. One of my friends used his Photoshop skills (which I'm very jealous of) and combined some photos to make a model of what our painting will look like.
The next step was to project the photoshoped image onto the canvas, and trace the lines.
Our final plan is to cut the painting vertically into three sections. The first pane will display the poppies in the foreground, the second pane will show the setting sun, and the third will contain a Joshua tree. After we've finished and mounted the paintings, we're hoping to sneak out at night and hang it up in some very public place, and see how long it takes for someone to notice and remove it. An anonymous tip to the local paper might also be in order...
Posted by John at 3:57 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Yesterday I took the CSET- or two sections of it at least. This is just another one of those meanders in the trial; a vista overlooking a possible future. Yet I'm stuck here with my indecisiveness, my uncertainties and discontent. You know that feeling you get when all of your friends are off doing something exciting and for whatever reason, you're missing it? That's me. Life is happening, and I'm stuck here. I'm stuck here and I don't even know where 'here' is in relationship to 'there,' or why 'there' is so much better than 'here,' or why I need to be 'there' in the first place. But nevertheless, the feeling remains that there is someplace else I'm supposed to be and something else I'm supposed to be doing there.
"Work to live" they say, but it's really the other way around. We are defined by our work, not by the living that goes on in between. A friend of mine recently pointed out that even Adam had to work in paradise. He was both gardener and steward. Perhaps the difference then was that his work didn't justify his existence.
I got to San Gabriel High School at 1:20pm, and followed the paper signs to the waiting area. There were maybe 100 other people there. Many of them already had the look of teachers, that poise which comes with authority. Ten minutes later they confiscated our cell phones and led us into our assigned classrooms. I was informed that my ball cap was in violation of the "rules," and would either have to be removed or turned around backwards. This made me immediately curious as to whether they had a high incidence of cheating by ball cap. I turned my cap around and took my seat. I glanced around at the other testees, and realized that nearly all of them were taking the math section of the CSET. Ironically, the classroom must have belonged to a math teacher. The walls were plastered with charts displaying mathematical processes and equations. Typical. I suppose I shouldn't complain though. I was the only English major in there. The only help I got was from the alphabet border circling the room just below the ceiling.
I drove back toward the mountains under a line of palmtrees. The sun was sinking toward the coast and the restlessness I felt had become too much. I had to get it out of my system... The little church was bustling with activity when I arrived. I traded my flipflops for the pair of sneakers I kept behind the seat in my truck- the souls covered in duct tape. I payed at the door, just as the band was finishing their warm up. A crowd of people lined the walls, waiting. The music started and I asked the first girl I could find. We took to the floor and the rest of the world melted away. Two hours later I was taking a break near the stage, when the girl who played the tennor sax jumped down and asked me to dance. I noticed that one of her pupils was dialated, and realized that she must be blind in that eye. Even lacking depth perception she wasn't reluctant. I led her in a lindy circle, then a double outside turn, whip, and sweethart. We switched to charlston and back to lindy. The song was fast, and the band was fantastic. The song kept playing, building momentum. My cares and concerns were mixed with sweat and music, all evaporating up into the night.
The moon was full, and the evening was cool. I took the mountain road home. I rounded curves and sped along cliff sides which emptied off into the night. The headlights lit the road only a few feet ahead. This is where so many young people play their game. They drive these roads as fast as they can, often losing control and flying off in darkness. They die young.
Posted by John at 9:14 PM
Friday, June 27, 2008
It's been awhile since I've blogged. It seems like so much has happened in the past month or so, but in reality it hasn't been much at all. I finished up the last of my BA and walked across the stage to receive the little roll of paper which symbolized all that I've accomplished over the past few years. And now I'm free. I'm free to choose my next form of incarceration. And to be honest I'm feeling quite uninspired. This is a statement summing my life in general, not merely my educational pursuits. There are high points and lows. There are those times when inspiration flows in and out like dental floss, or those beaming solar flares shooting out and back through the sun's corona. And then there are times when you float like a leaf on a placid pond, without even a ripple. Here I am, waiting for the wind to blow me. I know from whence my inspiration flows. Sometimes he is there like a pillar of fire, and other times he is the faintest whisper. I'm waiting for that sweet breath of air. My sails are empty.
Posted by John at 4:25 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Ascending the heights he hangs, his movements fluid, graceful and delicate, his hands and feet fitting into cracks and crevices. With the alacrity and finesse of a dancer he works his way up the cliff. He reaches a point and pauses, assessing his route, determining his next movement. The final section is more difficult than anything he has encountered yet. His forearms burn with fatigue and he leans back, straitening his arms and allowing his biceps to rest. He gathers strength for the next move and pushes upward, muscles screaming. A solid hold for his right hand, and a shallow stub of rock slightly supports two fingers of his left. He presses his toe into the smooth slab, his special shoes gripping the sheer surface and giving him traction. With a burst of strength he rises, his left hand shoots up toward the next uncertain hold. His angle is precarious. He jabs for the hold and misses, his left foot breaks loose. He hangs on by his right hand and regains his former footing. His strength is failing. For a brief second doubt enters his mind. It's too difficult and he is too tired. "No!", he tells himself. He must finish! He has the strength to hang on and therefore he has the strength to try. He is roped, making the consequences of failure purely mental, yet he carries on as if the stakes were mortal. His body is racked with pain and exhaustion, but he perseveres, his mind overcoming his physical anguish. His battle is between mind and body.
This is how I feel right now. There is no giving up. I have to press on.
Posted by John at 11:32 AM
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Work, class, appointments and deadlines, soaring gas prices and the plummeting value of the dollar. All of the stress that lie has to offer. The week is over now. People everywhere are winding down so they can gear up for another week of the same. In the last of the failing light I took my bike and headed for the aqueduct bridge on Gotte Hill. It was an evening of Spring's perfection. It's evenings like this which cry out in inspiration to poets and mere mortals alike.
It was late in the twilight hour. The stars were out and the sky was colored from a dark aqua in the west through lavender to midnight blue in the east. I followed the path along the water on my bike. It's course wound around the foothills halfway between the stars and the valley floor. The horizon was a straight line running infinitely off ahead of me, and giving way to the city below. I rode through still pockets of air, some warm and some cool. Each one carrying with it its own unique smells. There was the musky smell of moss and moisture which rises off of bodies of water and carries with it the scent of life and renewal. A second later my face was filled with the breath of the evening, a breeze fell off and away from the curving valleys to the south, and I was surrounded by the aroma of a million flowers, jasmine and primrose, each variation bringing to the surface vivid memories of unseen blossoms, hikes and hills long forgotten. Accompanying the smells were the sounds of crickets and frogs, the world transitioning between light and dark. Mixed with the natural were the sounds of distant neighborhoods. A family laughing, a car door closing, a dog barking. Slowly the streetlights came on in the world below and the weekend was underway.
Posted by John at 10:17 PM