wine and lamps and schools in africa.

I'm in a book club with 30 to 40 year old women who bitch and drink wine and laugh and bitch some more.

We read A Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. The novel was in the 'fad' section of Barnes and Noble. After two or so weeks of the release date it was anointed with a 20% discount sticker on the upper right hand corner because they overstocked. It's a sloppy, not all that interesting satire of what is to come with technology and iphones and the impending doom of the United States government and economy. It had moments of witty and cleverness, but over all it's drenched in badly written social drama scenes. And it's super raunchy.

The majority of our discussion was not about the book, (to my relief, it doesn't merit much discussion except that you should think about the decisions you make and that China is eventually going to kick our red, white, and blue inflated ass)

no, we talked about a lamp purchase.

Michelle and I walked into Andrea's house together. She's back into the social scene. She had a baby six weeks ago and can once again enjoy drinking wine and having sex with her husband. Apparently you have to wait six weeks after giving birth to have sex. (I'm taking notes, folks.)

"Just out of curiosity ladies, how much would you spend on two accent lamps?" Michelle brings up as we all pull out our books from our purses.

I feel a bit out of place. I am wearing Toms shoes, I have no idea what an accent lamp is, and I'm drinking free wine. I'm going to sit out for this discussion.

Andrea speaks up. "Well, what kind of accent lamps are these? Is this the only lighting you have in the room?"

"Mmhmm." Michelle snickers confidently. She's already anticipating the conversation is going in her desired direction.

"I'd spend $250 each." Jade responds.

"If this is a purchase that could make or break the feel of the room, I say $500. each."

I choke on my wine. No one notices, thankfully.

Michelle, now clearly content, decides to tell us the point of her question. "Mike and I got in a fight. Mike's mom gave us $500.00 to spend on the house and we agreed to spend it on lamps for the entry room. I paid $300 for both lamps total. He said I hurt his feelings because I spent too much money."

"Oh my! You are shitting me!" says Linda.

"No, I'm not! He made me cry because he was being so mean, and you know Mike, he is never mean. I was like, what the fuck do you want me to do?" Michelle exclaims.

"Oh okay," Andrea shouts over all the other ladies exclamatory protests. "This is NOT about the lamps. This is about something else. What could it be?"

We spend the rest of the night discussing the alternative, ever so intricate and complicated psychological explanations for why Mike's feeling were hurt over $300.00 lamps.

The next morning I met a bus driver who is trying to raise $10 million dollars for children to go to school in Africa. I am taking pictures for Real Change, a weekly newspaper that the homeless of Seattle sell on the streets. He was on page six. The reporter and I met him in west Seattle. I got there a little early. We had a quick, witty banter about schools and kids and looking for jobs.

"So what exactly are you doing?" I ask.

"I'm about to go around the country and ask every school bus driver, there are 129,000 of them, to give a one time $25 donation to the self-sustaining organization I'm creating for a school principal in Uganda. I'm scared shitless. I have one request as you take your pictures. None of my face, please. It's not about me. It's about the kids."

The man looks like a bus driver. Beer belly, a long pony tail, broken glasses, and a missing tooth. I take a few shots of his hands. The reporter comes and I prepare to leave.

As I walk out of the room he calls out to me.

"Goodbye artist."

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