Great Expectations and Bleak House

I’m one of those odd people who loved high school. I recall sitting in the cafeteria at Seaside High School my senior year thinking, “This is the best time of my life.” Sad, you probably say. Middle school was another story. But, then, does anyone think middle school was the highlight of his or her life?

Being thirteen was hard. I had just returned from grammar school in Australia and had an accent that seemed “snobby” to the other students at Archie Clayton Middle School. My mother was between husbands and we were living at my grandmother’s house. I kept my clothes in a box and slept on a cot in my great-aunt’s room. Good times. In addition, I now realize I had awful taste in shirts.

I had a couple of tricks that helped my daily attitude. As corny as this seems, I tried to recall all the good things that happened each day before I went to sleep. I also was constantly in a planning state for a trip to Walt Disney World. I know, the whole story is sounding Dickensian. I had an issue of World magazine and the fact sheet Questions. Looking at the Questions piece now, I’m not amazed by the low prices, but by the incredibly tight leading of justified Avant Garde Light. How could I read this? I also spent hours trying to decipher the images in World magazine (remember no internet, and 3 television channels). There is one couple that seems to be everywhere. Who were they? How could they be so carefree? Then there is that yellow creature. WTF? I don't know what that is.

One of my favorite blogs is Passport to Dreams Old and New. Cracker Jack writing and incredible images makes this a daily stop for me. One post points directly to this question. The Beard Dude and his Farrah Fawcett-esque girlfriend show up often. Today, I spend a large amount of energy trying to drive clients away from posed and artificial images toward a more authentic journalistic approach. Now, I see how wrong I have been. At 13, I bought the message that this couple had all problems solved and this vacation was the highlight of their existence. From now on, I’m going to request photography of posed couples, men with beards, women with Farrah Fawcett hair, and an unbridled enthusiasm in the most mundane activities.

I make fun of these artifacts now. But these pieces of paper made the difference for me between intense focus and planning of a vacation, or selling dope and robbing 7-11 stores.