Delving into Online Classes: My Daily Digital Images Experience

Week two begins


I’m taking an online class. The intention in my enrollment is to fulfill a “teacher recertification” requirement. Yes, I must leave school every day with a bag full of papers needing to be graded and still find time between interactions with my family (and procrastination about aforementioned grading) to take classes. Three degrees mean nothing to the folk handling my credentials. It’s about new and “innovative” teaching techniques, theories, and, let’s be honest, repackaged ideas for meeting the same goal: increasing student engagement and real learning.

Anyway, the class is called Daily Digital Images. It called me to it from the title. I do, afterall, take digital images daily. And yet, a week into the class finds me already behind one assignment. Yes, I’m participating in the forums, but I didn’t do all the work.

Today, especially, I’m finding little motivation to continue. The learning goal for this week is to explore my camera and what features it offers. When I post replies, I do so hoping not to sound pretentious. I don’t want to be the student masquerading as the know-it-all. I’m not the expert in utilizing digital images in the academic classroom. But I know my camera. I shoot all the time. I edit pictures, make art pieces and portraits, and document life. So I find it hard to “contribute to the learning community” with relevant responses (considering my background) while maintaining what will come across as a “positive, supportive and professional tone.” Everytime I post reply, I wonder if my intentions are clear. And I check back to see if there’s further discussion on my point or my question. I really don’t like being the one with no replies!

I’m hoping to shoot around when I get home tonight so I can complete the week’s required exercise. I’ve got to try “something new” with my camera. I’m not sure what that will be. Maybe a new subject? A study in the chaos in my foyer in macro? A test of my lenses with a single, stationary subject? A fiddling with my studio lights?

Boxes in my neighbors’ yards

I suppose I’ve become that nosey neighbor.

It used to be the woman who strategically took her dog for bathroom breaks outside while she chugged a cig and noted the changes of the neighborhood’s inhabitants. She knew folks’ comings and goings, their new arrivals and their sent aways, and she was a master at delivering each person’s juicy gossip – as observed and not told directly. Most of us figured the dog was incontenent; I mean, no dog has to “do his business” every hour on the hour. Talk with it’s owner, though, and it was clear that the “business” was being minded was ours.

And now I find myself being the voyer. When I’m cooking, I’m glancing out the window lightly shielded by the sheer curtains. When I’m outside at the mailbox, I linger a few minutes observing the different vehicles occupying the spaces beside my house. When I walk to the bus stop to meet my son, I note each house’s front lawn – some painstakingly decorated for the seasons despite HOA warnings.

There’s this one house on that route down the street that always causes me pause. The owner (whom I’ve never seen), is a paid-per-delivery employee’s dream. Every day, new packages sit on the porch. They’re in plain sight and carelessly close to a very busy street. And these boxes of many sizes are most often from Amazon, as the bright red tape emblazoned with “fire” entices attention.

Two little brown-and-white dogs sit on either side of the door peering out through the windows that frame it. They watch as I pass by, barking acknowledgement – or warning. They must be waiting for more packages.

The owner is female. I know this because I dared to walk closer and glimpsed her name, which is, coincidentally, merely a letter added to my youngest’s moniker. I wonder what she is ordering. I wonder if her commute is long and she busies herself shopping online. Were those couple of shoe boxes from last week housing sensible work shoes, or does she house a stellar collection of fashionable high heels? I wonder what this woman, with the name invented like my daughter’s, might be like.

And then I walk on by.

Metaphor-in definitions on 9.17

An abstract to concrete excercise:
love is a warm blanket on a cold night
hate is melted chocolate in my purse
kindness is a smile from a stranger in the crowd
pride is a hot air balloon in flight
a secret is is a dandelion in the wind
fear is a strong wind slapping my face
deceit is a fun house mirror
curiousity is a toddler peeking inside a cabinet
culture is a paint tray after the art is done
trouble is a puddle on a New York street
deceit is (also) a rock in the car’s windshied
sympathy is a hug when feeling alone

begun circa 2013, continued 2014 (September)

How to… completely botch a shoot

In five easy steps:

1. Pick out matching outfits; then, when you’ve reached the hustle out the door we’re already late point, discover that part of it is stained or, worse, missing.

2. Fix hair and make up. Inevitably, the weather will turn and you’ll wilt before you arrive at the scene. You will, then, become the “scene.”

3. Travel to the shoot location, set up your tripod. In the natural order of things, turn on your camera – or rather, try to turn it on and discover the batteries dying or dead.

4. Check supplies for back up power. But you’ll quickly realize that the case that holds your essentials is not there, as you intentionally carried it out of its usual spot in the car to inventory, charge, and organize the contents.

5. Pack up belongings and leave the venue. Note: you will not have taken a single shot save the ones your memory captures.

written as a model-the-prompt sometime in Spring 2014

Sunflower in the room of roses

I’m borrowing this phrase from my student’s grandfather. Perhaps he borrowed it from somewhere, too. Nevertheless, it hits home with me as a woman, as a daughter, and as a mother.

Dear Chi,

As you continue in this rough time and space known as “middle school,” as you juggle life in the “tween” years between child and teenager (and, ultimately, adult), please know that I am your biggest fan.

You said yesterday that ‘the worst part about middle school is the people.’

Sure, you’ve felt the sting of the taunts from mean girls. But trust, if they must scoff at you, baby girl, it’s because there’s something lacking in them. You are a sunflower – – bright, standing strong against the elements, and ever-reaching higher for your goals. Do not let these common roses – whose beauty entices but whose thorns cause hurt and harm – convince you that you are less than you are.

IMG0008You may sometimes have days when you stare into that looking glass and scrutinize what you see. Hair, complexion, temporary blemishes might not always be to your ideal. But never for a moment think you aren’t beautiful. Your soft mocha skin, your strong crimped hair, your high cheek bones, almond eyes, broad nose, and full lips are God’s gifts. And, lest I forget to mention, your height (quickly surpassing mine), your svelt athletic figure, your ever-evolving curves of womanhood. Damn, you are stunning.

Yes, I’m your mama. And, frankly, being the parent of the one “going through” is all new to me. But I’ve been where you are. I’ve doubted my worth because someone criticised me. And I learned after countless nights – no, more like years – of feeling less than worthy of praise – that my value is not determined by others. You cannot squelch the mean-spirited intentions of everyone, but you can persevere despite and INSPITE of them. It’s really easy to say in retrospect that you can’t please everyone, but I’m going to say it anyway. Some folk aren’t happy until you are miserable. They make it their goal to crush your momentum towards yours. Believe me when I say that success is something you determine for yourself. Your best is all I ask you to give and regardless of what others may say, you will be accomplished.

You’re mad at me as I write this. You’ve told me not to share with the world my pride. And though I get it, baby girl, you need to know that my success is you. I am in awe of how you’ve matured. I am inspired by your dreams. I am humbled by your achievements.

I know we’re at that point in this mother-daughter relationship where you shy away from my confidences and share your secrets with others. Your interests in boys – the few who, as you’ve said, are not absolute ‘douche bags’ – is guarded. But what you have confided in me makes me worry. You see, you’ve admitted to stepping aside for a friend to pursue her interests. You determined you were less worthy of something than was someone else. And I just cannot understand how you don’t see that you are a prize. You are special. You are rare. And you, my Chi, are coveted. I’ll say no more ‘in public’ about that, as I respect your growing need for privacy. Understand, however, that you cannot let yourself be overlooked to please a friend. No friend would ever want you to cast yourself aside – to dull your shine – so they can glow brighter.

I love you…


He plops down onto a tattered couch. Dust rises as he settles onto the cushions, shifting his weight onto the remaining fluff and off the protruding springs seeking to stab his flesh. Reaching a grubby hand into his bowl of popcorn, he secures a handful of keernels and soggy, nearly stale puffs. He shovels the whole lot into his gaping jaw, a few falling as he chews open-mouthed. He leaves them where they land. Opportunity knocks on his window, and he ignores the sound. He’s mp friend to Doubt – or Ambition – having snubbed them both long ago. Quietly he sits, idly staring at the staic-filled screen of his television. Stillness reminded him once to befriend Contentment – a blind date that has led to a steady relationship. Once, he relentlessly persued Change, but she’d ignored his efforts. She was too fickle anyway, he’d decided. And so he remains, joined soon in embrace with Contentment to waste away the day.

written 09/18/13

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