Sunday, July 24, 2005

The End/Beginning is Nigh

As I was showered with gifts yesterday, I began to realize that there is soon going to be something to put into all the pink rompers and creepers and onesies. The child within is now considered full term. At our last doctor’s visit, we were told that it would be best if we scheduled a time to deliver. This will allow the doctors to control how long I am off of the blood thinners (long enough to deliver, but not long enough to clot again). I’ve planned birthday parties before, but never an actual birthday. Seems a bit overwhelming.

Matt’s last day of work at the clinic is August 1. He will start the chaplaincy program at Baptist Hospital August 15. Hopefully this baby will come sometime in between those dates. If not, the hospital has agreed to be flexible with when he starts.

I just thought that you all (whoever still reads our sparse thoughts) would like to know all of that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wrongful Seizure at Bob Dylan

The following is the complete text of a letter to the Editor I submitted recently.


Dear Editor,

On July 2nd, I went to Ray Winder Field to see Bob Dylan. What I didn’t anticipate was bullying and theft from the security staff. When I arrived (dropped off to avoid the parking nightmare), my backpack was searched, my water bottle was tossed but my still film camera was passed over without mention by the gatekeepers. That and the dozens of other cameras and photographers (not to mention camera phones) reassured me that I was alright snapping a few shots of the show. So I did just that, during the opener and through Willy Nelson’s show. When Dylan, my main interest in attending, took the stage I took a few shots, noticing the grim security guy in the corner of the stage.

A few minutes later, a young man with a radio pressed through the crowd to where I was standing and demanded my camera. Over the roar of the crowd and the music I attempted to ascertain who he was and why he thought he had rights to my property. He continued to assert that cameras were “not allowed” and that there had been signs to that effect.* I didn’t want to leave the show I had paid to see, nor did I have any place outside the arena to stash my camera. When asked why I had been singled out, the man pointed to another man dressed in black, on stage who had apparently selected my camera for confiscation. Somewhat stupidly, I gave up the camera after getting Dave’s name and his assurance that I could pick up my camera at the gate. I was pretty sure I had been conned out of an expensive camera until I saw Dave on stage with the man in black finding more cameras. Though I did get my camera back, I never received an explanation as to why they were forbidden or why mine was chosen over the dozens of others. I know many performers, especially older ones like Dylan, dislike flash photography as it can temporarily blind them. I hadn’t been using flash for that reason. But it didn’t occur to me that they were attempting to stop all imaging of the performance. When I checked my film after leaving I found that it had been stolen.

I use the term “stolen” because, after a bit of research, I confirmed my suspicion that in America, the seizure of property, such as film or a camera, is only lawful with a court order or in the context of an arrest by a police officer. Ray Winder Field and its employees are certainly within their rights to withhold permission for photography (as they were likely asked by the performers to do so). However, “taking your film directly or indirectly...can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion.” (Bert P. Krages II, Your Rights and Remedies When Stopped or Confronted for Photography, 2003. ) Reparations for the seizure of film and other property may also be sought in civil court for those so inclined. A simple verbal request to cease taking photos would have been enough, but Dave crossed the line, exposing himself and his employers to potential civil and criminal liability.

More and more amateur and professional photographers across the country are finding their right to create images questioned and violated and their property stolen by private citizens, and well intentioned law enforcement officials. Had I been more aware my rights, my encounter with Dave might have gone differently. It is vital that individual citizens educate themselves about the protections afforded them by the constitution or we will see them evaporate. The website mentioned above is a good place to start.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Dad in the Gaps

Those of us who have been around very long, especially those who have been living with spouses very long, know that we are doomed and blessed to transform into our parents. The way they thought and behaved fills in the gaps for so many thoughts and behaviors it has never occurred to us to question.

Spouses are among the best at spotting these areas where we’ve been stamped by the DNA of their in-laws. Melody was the first to notice that a habit I have of sitting with my left leg bent sideways under my right knee was not an original invention but something my dad commonly did (as documented in a number of photos). This is all the more interesting because he died when I was three, before I could have possibly learned to copy this behavior. As a friend once said, remarking about the similarities between his habits and his father’s, “For people with bodies like ours, this is just a comfortable way to sit.” In turn, I have noticed the way Melody shares her mother’s empathy, intellectual independence, insatiable curiosity and the ability to talk circles around the same topics, spiraling toward some kind of deeper understanding or affirmation.

But it’s not as simple as DNA. Some of the ways we become our parents are clearly learned. I hear my step-dad Shelly every time I respond to Melody with the automatic affirmative “ummhmh.” I feel his same impulse toward discipline in curtailing the tantrums of young children who happen across my path.

This is simultaneously frightening and comforting for those of us who are on the cusp of parenthood. No matter how much you plan and strategize about how you will raise your children, the attitudes, values, postures, insecurities, and hopefully virtues of your parents will fill in the gaps. All the more reason to worry about and trust in your own improvisations, and all the more reason to pray and strive to be the kind of person you want your children to be. They will become like you, without even thinking about it.