Chemically Fingers, Breakfast and Other Items

I don’t know anything about chemistry. I can’t remember a single thing about chemistry class in high school, or if I even took a chemistry class. This not remembering reminds me of how I don’t remember how to hit a baseball, likely because the coaches sucked or I sucked, or we both sucked and it was never meant to be. Still…

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past week:

  • The chemicals have to be a certain temperature before you dip the film in it.
  • Chemicals stink.
  • Some can’t go down the drain.
  • Thankfully, the cat and dog don’t like them.
  • They can make strange marks on furniture items.
  • They stink.

As you can see, I haven’t learned much. I have learned enough to do this, though:


That’s a mobile, at Hugh, a store in Midtown. I dipped the film in some of those chemicals.

While people shop and sip mulled wine, I take photos of mobiles. Some things never change.

Some things change a lot. I used to write a lot of poetry. I used to make a lot of music. Chances are I’ll get back to that, but for now I have to do this thing. For now I have to drift into a frame. Fill gaps.

I’m not sure where my fleeting nature comes from. Rosie Sharp takes about it well in this write-up I’m grateful for.

How he manages all these things without going insane, well, that’s the challenge of every polymath or creative generalist. As a younger creative person, it used to really freak me out when something that had been a daily practice–whether writing, photography, or fiber arts, which are my mainstays–would just sort of…disappear. I wrote a novel when I lived in New York, and promptly stopped writing fiction for years. I have gone through three prolific poetry phases in life, and spend some time being devastated whenever one ends, convinced I will never write poetry again because I’m not doing it right now. I took literally 10,000+ candid digital images during my time in New York; I’ve taken perhaps 5% of that volume in the same amount of time in Detroit, aside from chronicling art and art events. My point is that creative outcomes can vacillate wildly when you are not devoted to a single discipline (or even when you are!) and that those of us who are going to embrace creative generalism as a lifelong art practice would do well to develop a sense of comfort around the ebbs and flows of our output. Love all our children equally, as it were.



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