Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Short Gift

Once upon a 1980s Christmas, my mom and I conspired to make a photo album for my dad. My mom gave me a camera to use, and I took pictures around the house and neighborhood. My mom titled the album "The World According to Kate." I was around 5 years old. And I was not tall. The world according to me ended up being the view of coffee tables and knees.

I highly recommend this type of photo montage for Father's Day or Mother's Day presents. It is hilarious. Just be sure the intended recipient will react like my dad at the time, who praised my artistic ability and thoughtfulness and did not laugh at my lack of perspective. At least to my face.

Given that I am still not tall, this might explain my fear of crowds. While in pictures, having a vertically limited view is amusing, at the Taste of Chicago, or in a packed bar, it feels like drowning in a sea of shoulders and elbows. I used to teach fifth graders on the south side of Chicago, and they would routinely do and say things that would make my nerves catch fire. A scampering little mouse would spontaneously appear in my muscular system and run through my body and I would yell. I would yell from the bottom of my stomach. It would rip through every fiber of my throat until the yell exploded into the room and didn't have any impact whatsoever.

For some reason, being in crowds now produces the same scampering mouse feeling that my students used to elicit in me. The yelling, however, is frowned upon in general public. Why it is generally accepted in urban public schools remains a matter for another blog entry. The point is, being short makes for some frustrating experiences as an adult, but some truly remarkable photos as a child.

A few years ago, I thought it would be moderately hilarious to repeat this photography experiment at five foot three. So, in the winter of 2003, I took a camera and wandered around my Chicago neighborhood, taking pictures only at my height. The result is somewhat lame. But, when all you see is a trash can and part of a wall, and then you are told that it is Wrigley Field, it is still pretty funny.

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