In the end, despite my initial impulse to stop myself, I decided to bring a camera last night and to be happy to hide behind it well not really. I don't want to simply erase my own behaviors and patterns, what's the point of that? I want to be a better me and I really can't think of how I can get that to happen if I don't include my shooting in it. It's a part of me too. Awww.
As I was driving up to San Francisco it occured to me that the SMS pager client in my Treo stores a different thread for each active address, and that text typed into the thread remained resident even if the message wasn't sent, or threads were switched*. So while I drove up I wrote about a dozen different individualized little SMS New Years greetings, didn't send them, and when my watch read a minute or two before midnight I was able to rapid-fire send them all to different people as if I were the world's fastest T9 typist, and then cap them with a dodgeball to all the people whose addresses didn't already have active threads in my phone.
So anyway, the shooting:
I shot about a short roll of Kodak chromagenic and two rolls of Tri-X in the Elan, armed with a big strobe on a big cord. I found that I could keep the strobe, with the head aimed up parallel to the body, comfortably in my pocket, cords connected, with the camera on my shoulder when I wasn't actively shooting. So my hands and face were open and unhindered to be expressive, give hugs all 'round, etc etc etc. And dressed in black, with a black camera, which drew even more attention to just the light-colored extremities. I love this doggoned "CRS" sweater, I should buy another one.
I was armed lightly glass-wise, just the 28mm. I haven't actually used the Elan all that much, and the AF had a terrible time locking in the dark, crowded bar. Couldn't focus manually if my left hand was busy holding the strobe (or a drink. Or both). So that meant pre-setting the focus to 1m, aperture to f/8 or f/11 and letting the 550EX make a big pop. Blindess in the service of immortality, I say. Had to swap batteries just before midnight, the used ones were hot to the touch when they came out of the strobe.
Karen was the only person I saw that I think I already knew but a number of people said they remembered me from other places and events. I guess they did? In any case a couple of orbits around the bar carrying the camera and holding-up the strobe, without even shooting (and the bartenders were cool about me wandering inside their workspace, as bartenders often are) and then all the 200+ people there knew exactly who I was and sure acted like they were my buddies. I'll consider it an object lesson.
The camera was rarely up. I wasn't hiding. I was shooting but not through a psychological window. I don't know if there's really a difference but it felt like one. Or maybe it was the Cuba Libré.
Woke up late but feeling great and ready to mix-up some Rodinal. Some Bronica negs from yesterday's batch are still drying and they'll need scanning, too. Today will finally be my (one) stay-at-home holiday?
* I guess the memory-cached SMS scheme was a design choice based on the fact that you can be interupted easily by incoming calls.
This is *unlike* the FotoTimer darkroom timer, which I normally use for all my film developement and which loses track and discards its current timing if you get a call while processing film! I learned the hard way to turn wireless mode off *before* starting the developer cycle. Ouch.