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Rochester Night #4

Rochester Night #4

July 2006 Rochester, NY

____________________________________


Leaning back in my chair on their screened-in porch I watched as Stephe carried all of the various plates and styrofoam take-out boxes from our really wonderful Indian dinner into the house. As he turned the corner into the kitchen, I sat forward, quickly leaning in towards Rose, Stephe’s wife.

“Okay, so tell me,” I said conspiratorially, “Why did you marry him?”

Rose leaned back with a gale of laughter. Bonn, for the umteenth time in our long marriage, gave an embarrassed I-Can’t-Believe-You-Just-Asked-That-Question laugh.

“Well,” Rose said, after she regained her composure. “When I took Stephe home to meet my parents my mother took me aside and said, ‘Now I know I told you that looks don’t mean anything, but...’.”

________________________ . . . ________________________


As I emailed Rose later this past week, my question had nothing to do with looks, but with personality. Let me clearly state for the record that I love Stephe. He’s been a strong, steady friend for years and years, someone who would plan and scheme to help you out if you ever needed help in a myriad of ways. He’s encouraging, steady and has the most amazing ability to “make connections” between incredibly diverse groups of people and make them all work when and if he needs to.

He is also, as Bonn summarized, “eccentric,” in that slightly outlandish and bizarre way that is quite befitting his professorial way of life. It’s an outlook on life and a lifestyle that not many people can work well with. That he may occasionally work to promote that image of himself may be something that only people who have known him for a long period of time may see.

Rose (a name she chose for use here because it would make her smile) answered in email with all of the right reasons. They’ve been together just slightly longer than Bonn and I have been and it’s clear to see that they both love, respect and cherish each other and the life they’ve built together.

________________________ . . . ________________________



Rochester Night #2

Rochester Night #2

July 2006 Rochester, NY

____________________________________


Back in the earliest of the 80s, Stephe and I had planned to NYC and attend the New School. As it turned out, he was able to go a semester before I was and found himself in classes at night and with lots of time on his hands during the days. How he fell into an intensive Deaf Interpreters program, I don’t have any recollection, but he did. When I arrived in NYC he was fluent and I worked a bit to catch up with him. Sign language was fascinating to me, combining both words and a wide range of facial expressions. That I could always fall back on finger-spelling words that I didn’t know the signs for helped as well.

By the end of my first sign language class at the New School I was doing fairly well. When Stephe transfered to Gallaudet University for his “junior year of foreign study” I felt cocky enough to think I could at least fake my way through Gallaudet’s campus well enough.

That led to hanging out with Stephe in the basements of dorm buildings on Friday nights where I eventually met my first wife, a (hearing) grad student in psychology and working a two-year stint at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut.

In all my years of signing I’ve always been much better at signing than I have at understanding other people signing to me. And considering how many years it’s been since I’ve signed on any sort of regular basis, I’m continually surprised at how much vocabulary I still remember.

However, when I was asking Rose why she married Stephe my signing came out all wrong. What I actually signed, I realized later, was, “OK, tell me. Why you meet him?” Luckily, Rose was able to hear my question well enough to understand what I was asking.

________________________ . . . ________________________


Sitting on their back porch we discussed politics, how Stephe and I intertwined with numerous other old friends, many of whom Bonn and Rose had at least heard of in the past. We also talked about art, craft, the difference between art and craft.

At one point Bonn smiled that mildly wicked smile she has at me and announced, “Did you know fivecats is writing a book?”

“What’s it about?” came the natural question.

It’s about two chapters long right now and it sucks so badly that I don’t think even Anne Lamott’s dictate of granting yourself permission to write a sh*tty first draft was meant for something this awful thankyouverymuch. Right now it’s my own personal shame, my own personal cross to bear that I can’t even write something as simple and basic as a story I’ve been playing out and writing out in my head for the past four years, okay? Can we please just leave it at that???

So I didn’t actually say that. I thought most of it while I was actively working to avoid discussing the topic. Rose, however, was relentless in her pursuit of the basic plot. Stephe just sat back and enjoyed watching me squirm.

I fixed a hook on their screened in back porch. I attempted witty diversionary topics of conversation.

Finally, met with glares of annoyance, I gave in.

“Okay,” I said, pointing to Stephe. “But you’re interpreting. Talking about it is awkward enough, but having to try and sign my way through it isn’t going to work.”

Somethings are best left to the experts.

________________________ . . . ________________________



Rochester Night #9

Rochester Night #9

July 2006 Rochester, NY

____________________________________


A quick note to [livejournal.com profile] ubermunkey and [livejournal.com profile] velvetink: the top two images were taken by doing a very slight pan to the left (with the tripod in the exact same place) from where the image in my last post was taken. Checking through my images again I found that I did, indeed, have this image that tied all of these images together.

And, [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi, it still looks like a model train landscape to me. (Maybe it’s the train in the background that does it?)

These were taken from a bridge over the waterway that connects two sections of Rochester. It’s a walking bridge (only) and was clearly made to allow people to better appreciate some of the natural beauty of the city.

I’m curious to see how it looks during the coldest part of the Rochester winters. :-)

...
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Rochester Night #1

Rochester Night #1

July 2006 Rochester, NY

____________________________________


Two weeks, two shows, three out of four sweltering days at the Festival for the Eno, a day at work followed by a long drive up to Rochester, NY to do yet another show -- and to visit with longtime friend Stephe and his wife and genuinely wonderful person in her own right, whom I will happily refer to as Rose -- breaking down from that show on Sunday and immediately driving the first leg of the trip back home that night, followed by a very long day’s worth of driving the next day to actually get home.

Bonn had recommended that I take the following day off. I agreed (rare for me) and told her that I’d be doing nothing but sleeping and taking it easy. So I got up at 10, ate breakfast, went back to sleep, got up around one, puttered around, took a nap from three to seven and got to bed around eleven. Bonn fails to understand how anyone can sleep so much, especially when there’s always so much to do around the house.

Bonn is also convinced she wants us to move to Canada. Or Rochester.

I think we’ve just started creating our own five year plan.

More later.

...
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Stephe

Stephe in Color

August 1978 Bethany Beach, DE

____________________________________


My father emailed me a few weeks ago and wrote:
"We finally cleaned out the basement.  We went through all your boxes from Conn.  Value Village and the trash people got most of the goodies.  I still have two heavy boxes of items which you may want to look through.  I will get around to sending them to you one of these days. "
My initial reaction was, if I've lived without whatever-it-is for the past 15+ years I can probably still live without it.

Still, I kept quiet and decided I was kind of interested in what the mystery boxes might contain.

The first box arrived late last week. There were two pages taken out of the old family photo albums that had pictures from my tenth birthday that had David ("The Axeman") in them. There were only two good pictures of him, but they'll be scanned and sent to his family along with some memories about him that I've been planning on writing for a while.

There were also a collection of songbooks from when I was first learning to play the guitar. (The bulk of the weight in the box)

And then, at the bottom, were a handful of photographs that I'd printed back in high school. Beneath them the bottom of the box was filled with small containers of slides from some summer camps that I'd gone to in the late 70s.

Back in the late 70s I bought a Fuji ST-605, my first SLR and a great, albeit simple, camera. Manual focus, there was a button I pressed to get an internal light meter reading and I shot slides because they were cheaper than film to process. I took pictures like crazy, mostly informal portraits, until I heard a professional photographer say that he was lucky if he got one good shot out of an entire roll of film. I couldn't afford that kind of failure rate and slowly gave it up.

The camera was stolen years later. I didn't bother replacing it until we needed a decent camera for the jewelry business. By then digital had come around and one good shot out of a "roll" was extremely affordable.

From time to time I'm going to be horribly self-indulgent here and post some of those 25+ year old pictures. (Now I just need to find a decent slide scanner)

These first two pictures are of my friend Stephe. Back in the day Stephe was a wild thinker/schemer/planner who, amongst other things, ran for DC City Council, worked with me at The Kite Site in Georgetown and went off to NYC to The New School and was along for the famous Spanish Harlem ride (although, by his own account, he barely remembers it).

Today Stephe is a husband, father of two and an assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He's also been a profilic writer on technology subjects and is the creative force behind the radio show "What the Tech!" (Mentioned here despite the fact that I'm no longer asked to do technology reviews for them)

He's also been a great friend for many, many years.


Stephe

Stephe in B&W

Spring, 1978(?)

____________________________________


And Stephe today, from his RIT page:



...

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