I have decided to change my priority
without worrying about inferiority
or the ways of the majority.
No longer will I pretend to put domestic concerns
ahead of my life’s purpose — Writing!
Back in the day any writing I did was secondary,
or confined to the secretary’s desk.
For a housewife back then
furtive moments were doled out as rewards
or stray opportunities to pen
wayward words or purloined phrases,
words of wisdom…
a note, a word, a reminder
–confined to the backs of envelopes
or shopping lists,
written in pen or pencil…or lipstick
or eyebrow pencil…
Gone are the days when making soup,
scrubbing and ironing…
or dashing through the store with a grocery cart
–all had top priority over the Writing Art.
No frilly little aprons or caps
are needed to fulfill MY kind of Real Work–
no pretty cotton dresses
and certainly no high heels!
For now on–I have decided that Writing has top priority
and rather than hide it (regardless of seniority)
the thing I do best is the thing I do FIRST.
Once, decades ago, the Chief Photographer at the newspaper where I worked asked me a question that has remained in my thought-processor to emerge every once in awhile:
“Do you want to be a Photographer? Or just a Pitcha-taker.?”
At the time I had only recently began providing photos to accompany my news stories. I had a Yashika-Mat camera, which I had bought for the purpose. It cost $85, which was a considerable amount of money for me, but in retrospect it was a good investment, because during the years I used it, the Yashika paid for itself many times over. I was supporting five children with my earnings as a reporter for the newspaper, and for two years in 1970-1972 my meager pay was most of the time my sole source of income.
At that time I had no formal education beyond high school, although fortunately I had some ability to write cohesive articles and took to news reporting like an Owl to being a bookstore mascot. For 18 years my career as a Journalist survived without higher education. I’m a quick learner, more or less, and passed my trial-by-fire–a tax levy meeting by our local Save Our Schools (SOS) committee and the school board. This was a momentous occasion in shaping the rest of my life beyond then. That meeting coverage, and a feature story anout a meeting at the State Prison Farm, directly led to my position as a reporter.
In October of 1972 (he 28th, forty-three years ago today, in fact) I got remarried. I continued with the newspaper part-time, until my decision to enter community college…to see If I could cope with all that entailed. But that’s another story…
Back in the day of film cameras…which was really not so long ago…my work film was developed and printed by the newspaper photo lab, and I did not do much private family/kids/travel work on company time. Most of those photo shoots featured my late husband’s photos taken with his Konicas and/or others of his cameras…he had been into photography since he was in France during World War II, and did his own developing and printing back then. (Before my time.) Then when we began traveling extensively, we bought roll film and sent it away to be developed and printed. It would take a few days or a week to return.
My skills at photography never really excelled, for a couple of reasons. One is that I did not take the time required to learn technical details of appropriate exposure techniques. The cost involved with print film was also high, so I did not experiment with the camera like I do now in the advent of digital photography. So that meant that the best photos we had…and the greatest number…were Bob’s. We did some Sunday spreads featuring his photography, and my writing.
Photographer or Pitcha-taker? The difference being that a photographer will take the time and effort to acquire as much knowledge and practical skills as possible, and apply it to his or her work. The Photographer works toward capturing the nuances and minute details of the subject, and fuss about color saturation and light conditions, etc., in order to produce work that is as esthetically pleasing as possible.
A Pitcha-taker, on the other hand, points the camera lens at the subject–and shoots. The Pitcha-taker has albums which include coat sleeves, sun-glare, hands in front of faces, cut off heads, weird colors, and pictures of Aunt Bessie with her eyes closed or her mouth out-of-joint. Over-exposed, under-exposed…all kinds of issues that ruin their photos.
Not to say that the Photographer, even professionals, don’t make mistakes…they just discard the “bad” shots, rather than showing them off to audiences and apologizing for their bad quality, as the pitcha-takers do: “Ok, this should have been a really good photo, but this lady moved out of the frame too quickly…see her hat? It was really a nice blue. Sorry its blurry..”
I have five great-grandchildren, and they all have tablets and cell phones…albeit the cell phones are under supervision. They range from 10 to 2 1/2, and the older four are proficient in computer skills (at least on a basic level, two of the kids are seven years old.) The youngest, for obvious reasons does not have a tablet, or access to cell phone use.
Their parents are my grandchildren, all in their 30s. I have a photo of the oldest, at five years, sitting at my good old KayPro II (my first computer) typing away.
No, this isn’t me bragging about my grandkids…it is a treatise on Children and Computers in general. I’m not trying to say that ALL kids everywhere have their own tablets, or even access to them…not even at school. The point I am trying to make is that although it is still the dawning (or maybe the sunrise) of the digital age– and certainly children in certain world societies and/or economic levels have greater exposure to technological break-throughs than others–kids do have access to computers and methods of learning and teaching have changed drastically since “WE” (whoever we are) were kids.
In fact, if I may state the obvious, there are areas in the world that still do not have running water, inside toilets, or electricity. I won’t even go into the issues of politics, availability of education, nor launch into a discussion of poverty-vs-wealth.
There is much discussion about the extent to which children who are not exposed to technological gadgets are deprived.
I will be the first person to admit that the internet is…well, GREAT (to lack a more expansive superlative) and agree that everything anyone could ever possibly want to know is available online. This is excellent. Research possibilities for students of all ages are phenomenal…just enter a key word, and PRESTO! there is a wealth of information. The downside to this is that although there are internet bibliographies, endless links to endless sites, one of the negative aspects is that there is no extraneous information to “discover” along the way of the search.
A good example is The Dictionary. Remember the clunky old book we dragged around, and laboriously searched the pages for a certain vocabulary word. Sure, the word was there (usually, if we had a clue about how to spell it,) but half the fun…or torture…of searching for our destination word, was the bonus appearance of other words popping up during the search.
Unfortunately, now that they have the internet dictionary…the paper dictionaries are becoming obsolete in some places. Please excuse me for being an old-fashion English teacher–which I’m not, exactly….but I maintain that the old dictionaries, and other research tomes, and the endless reference books on the library shelves can’t be replaced with a quickie visit to a dictionary.com site.
But, having said that, I admit to being something of a luddite, (one of those guys that smashed up the new machines because they saw them as taking away jobs) and its quite possible that I don’t know everything about the subject. (Quite likely in fact.)
One more thing…sobering, and widely believed to be impossible, or at least improbable, is that an artificial storage method can fail…power sources can fail. That’s a worst case scenario, of course, but we all know Murphy’s Law: that anything that can go wrong…will. I think that it is risky to try to put all of human knowledge online, at the mercy of cyberspace a la 2001 Space Odyssey.
At the risk of being annoying, I did not know how to spell Odyssey, and didn’t want to leave the post I’m writing and go to a dictionary site…so I used a Latin dictionary. I’m not sure what the point of this paragraph is, except that it illustrates my insecurities about online-posting…it is too easy to lose a post when I leave to snoop around online. That wouldn’t happen with a paper dictionary, except that I can’t find mine.
Sigh… the moral here is the old saw: “…don’t do as I do, do as I say.”