Ruminations on old photographs and Halloween.

When my mother moved in with my sister one of the things she gave me was a big blue plastic container full of photos. I was digging through it to see if I could find any Halloween related pictures from when I was a kid. As I searched in vain for anything that might be interesting, two things occurred to me.
 
The first was that we live in an amazing time where practically everyone has a device in their pocket capable of taking not only crystal clear photos of whatever happens to be catching their eye, but crystal clear video too. Most of the photos I found of me as a kid are badly faded despite having been kept in boxes for most of their existence. In fact, the further back the photos went — quite a few of them are actually my grandparent’s albums full of people I haven’t a clue as to who they were — the worse that problem becomes. The lack of resolution becomes apparent too. The ones that survived the best, oddly enough, are the Polaroids that developed instantly, but they’re surprisingly dark compared to the faded traditional shots on film. 
 
The second was I can now see why none of my relatives became professional photographers. (My niece being excluded as she’s an excellent photographer, but has had the benefit of growing up just as digital cameras became ubiquitous.) I have a shitload of photos of random things where it’s not clear just what it was the photographer was trying to capture. A not particularly impressive hill with trees on it here. A random trailer someone in the family most have owned there. Lots and lots of pictures of people — some I barely recognize, some that may as well be extras in a movie — many of which only manage to capture half a head and an elbow that might not belong to the head in question. To be fair, alcohol has never been a stranger to my family tree and it’s entirely possible whoever was taking the pics at the time was more than three sheets to the wind. 
Alas, I didn’t find any adorably cute pics of me in grade school wearing that terrible store bought Spiderman costume with the plastic mask that had edges sharp enough to cut steel. So I’ll have to reuse something I know I’ve posted in the past.

Here’s me as a senior in highschool going as… fuck if I know what it was supposed to be. You can’t see it in the photo, but I had spread liquid latex all over my face while squinching it up and then blow drying it so it had this weird pattern to it. Then I put on silver facepaint, a robe with a hood, and my walking stick I picked up at a Renaissance Festival and that was it. Tah-dah!

Worst. Halloween. Costume. Ever.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Happy day before Christmas!

When I was a kid this was the longest day of the year. The promise the next morning held was enough to make one hold his or her breath in anticipation. My whole body tingled with excitement… or perhaps it was one too many bowls of sugary cereal. Memories can be fuzzy.

The site of the tree with all the wrapped presents made me giddy, which only got worse when thoughts of the additional packages that would appear the next morning after Santa had dropped by. There was also a little anxiety once I was old enough to start picking out gifts for my brother and sister and parents. Would they like what I had gotten for them? This was in the days before Amazon wish lists. The closest analog we had was the annual Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog. Here’s one from 1977 when I was 10 years old. I spent hours digging through it and circling the items I desperately wanted.

I think 1977 was the year we got the Sears Video Arcade System, which was a rebranded Atari 2600 that Sears sold. Another year my dad bought us kids Pachinko machines and I have no idea why. I had never heard of these Japanese spins on pinball machines until that Christmas morning, but we played the hell out of them anyway. Considering that none of the electronics of the machines were intact the fact that they still worked was pretty impressive. Then there was the year I got my ultimate Christmas wish: A minibike. I never thought in a million years it would actually happen, but there it was standing next to the tree one Christmas morning.

These days the excitement level is much lower, but we’re a lot busier. We’re all grown and have extended families of one sort or another so there’s a lot more travel. Today will be spent at my parent’s house where we will have a nice Christmas Eve dinner and exchange gifts with my family members. This tradition has been going on since us kids became adults. It’s one of the few — if not the only — times of the year that all three of us kids are together in the same place with my folks. My nephew, who has just become a Navy medic, will be there this year with his fiance. Also present will be my niece, who is an amazing photographer that I’m hoping to be able to afford to hire someday for some nice pics of myself because I’m a narcissist. My daughter Courtney will arrive with us. It’s one of the few years that all the grandkids will be present in quite some time. Budgets being tight there will be far fewer gifts exchanged, but there’s still some of that old tingle as I look forward to seeing family I’ve not seen in awhile.

I can be a pretty materialistic guy, but I’ve been trying to move away from that as I’ve grown older. My siblings and I aren’t particularly close (literally or figuratively) so I tend to look forward to the few times we do manage to get together. Christmas still holds a lot of magic for me, just a different kind these days. I think that’s a good thing.