Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Generator Floor (Holter Dam)

Nicola Tesla, while walking home one evening as the orange sun was sliding down against the purpled earth, suddenly envisioned magnetic poles fixed around the fiery orb--three electrically pulsating phases to be exact--creating a rotating magnetic field around the sun. But not the sun...imagine, instead, the rotor of a motor now grasped and spun by the spinning magnetic field. From that very moment, Tesla invented the future. From that instant, at the close of the 1800's, emerged the AC generators we use today, induction motors, transformers, and our AC power grid. From that sharp moment of insight, Tesla led all of us into the modern era. How is it that he has been forgotten?

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 20, 2010

Again, I Dream of Fish

My mother painted the walls of her bedroom flat black and closed the curtains so not the thinnest sliver of light might slice against the bed or dressers or walls. My father, late one evening, tried to suicide himself in that same black room. Drunk to the point of appearing liquefied, my father aimed the rifle at his own head, wobbled there for a second or two and pulled the trigger. The jacketed round barely grazed his forehead and then ripped through the ceiling and roof of our house before escaping into the starry night.

I dream of fish now—not this instant—but in general. When I remember a dream, when I crash awake from one, almost always, fishes of some kind have been there with me. I recall one dream in which fish swam back and forth under by bedding as I lay there. I first noticed them as bumps graphing delicately arcs under the blankets all around my feet and legs. When lifted my bedding and peered down there, I saw five sleek, neon rainbow trout swirling about. And when I came awake, folded into my blankets exactly as I had been in my dream, I felt cheated that the trout were not really there. Now—this instant—I am very much awake. My mother is twenty-five years gone. My father fifteen. Outside, magpies are to snow and sky what trout are to stony bottom and water.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Entry from My 1999 Journal

One of my coworkers, Gene, is a big stout fellow. When really concentrating on something, a kind of scowl develops on his face. He can appear a bit angry and intimidating at such times. But Gene is a gentle and gregarious and thoughtful and exceptionally intelligent man. Once he starts talking, his keen sense of humor and broad list of interests are enough to disarm anyone. Women love him. After working only two weeks with the Wal-Mart night crew, he had what other electricians began calling ‘Geno’s harem’. A regular fan club. A few weeks ago, Gene shaved all the hair off his head—a look that exaggerated his already deterring first impression. The other day, while dressed in his grubby work bibs and poking around the main floor of Wal-Mart, searching to retrieve a misplaced pair of pliers, a middle-aged woman walked up to him and got right in his face immediately.
“So you’re one of those!” she said, grimacing.
“You’re one of those.”
“One of those...what? Why are you talking to me?”
“One of those white supremacists,” She blurted. She strutted off down the aisle in conclusion.
The episode rattled poor Gene at first. By the time he stood before me, telling me the details, he’d found the lost pliers and his shock had turned to disbelief trying to convince rage to run for president. He squints when disturbed. He was squinting.
“What got her started?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’m just minding my own business, working, and she strolls up and starts in on me. Never seen her before in my life.”
I laughed. “Must be that shiny globular head of yours. And the bibs.”
“People are scary, Mitch.”
“Yeah, they are.”
Sometimes, the littlest thing will set people off. For some reason, Gene’s incident on Wal-Mart’s selling floor brought to mind something that happened in the front yard of my grandparent’s house my sophomore year of highschool. That year, I and a couple other people caught a ride home from school with one of the ranch kids from east of town. He, like most ranch kids, had been given an old car to fix-up long before getting his driver’s license. Most rancher’s kids grow up fast and grow up working. This kid, Rob, knew how weld and twist a wrench and bolt together all manner of broken mechanical contrivances. Rob possessed a stunning intellect as well as phenomenal mechanical skills. Carving and cutting his own parts, he made ships in bottles. He produced his own Indian artifacts—things like bone needles, arrowheads. He enjoyed making all manner of models and miniatures.
Rob enjoyed magic and word games and we often employed spoonerisms in our speaking. For instance, we never said the word ‘before’. Instead, our sentences went like this: “Befive you go, shut that door.” The word ventilator transformed into ventisooner. Stupid stunts were not asinine, they were asiten, perhaps asitwelve if really stupid. As you might guess, a few of Rob’s coils ended up wound a bit too tight. He often tended to over-think his anger and sometimes—in my foreign-born wife’s vernacular—went a little nut.
As I recall that day, Rob and my other pal Roland were wrestling around on the grass. Nothing serious. Just boy stuff. I don’t now recall precisely what unsprung one of the coils in Rob, but something did. Rob, a much bigger person than Roland, flipped Roland off to the side. Roland, seeing the spring slapping the hell out of everything inside Rob as it let loose, scrambled away to a safe distance. Rob flung himself upright, face flushing like a ripening apple. He quickly gauged the distance between he and Roland and then did a funny thing. He stormed out to his car, which he’d left parked just outside the fence on the street. Roland and I assumed he intended to fly off with engine roaring and tires screaming.
Not even close.
Rob, flung open the driver’s door, thrust his arm inside and pulled the keys from the ignition, slammed the door, clomped back to the trunk, heaved it open, reached inside for something.
‘Uh-oh,” Roland emitted.
The two of us made for my Grandparent’s, crooked glassed-in porch. The screen door slapped shut behind us as the two of us pressed our faces against the smudged row of windows level with our heads, looking out to observe history in the making.
Rob rather obsessed about certain ideas and skills he desired to acquire. Enter, stage left, the bullwhip. For the better part of two years, Rob practiced daily with a bullwhip his parents had purchased for him. He became quite skilled—almost proficient enough to turn the pages of a book from across the room. Most of the time, he could perform that trick where you snap cigarette from the lips of someone standing a half-dozen paces away. Not that I would volunteer my lips to prove such.
Pretty easy to guess what Rob removed from the trunk.
Rob unfurled the bullwhip, not bothering to shut the trunk of his old clunker. Lashing out, he cast the whip back and forth like a maniacal fly-fisherman with a fly-rod overjuiced on steroids. Tisnap! Tisnap! He strode back through the gate while conducting the whip high above his head. Tisnap! Tisnap! Once inside the yard, Rob began yelling a really silly thing. “Come out and fight like a man!” Tisnap! Tisnap! “Come out here and fight me like a man, Roland!”
Roland looked over to me. “He can’t be serious.”
I shrugged. “Maybe he is.”
“Do I look stupid? I’m not goin’ out there.”
That’s when we broke into laughter. Our laughter rapidly became entirely intractable. Roland fell back against the wall behind us, spasmodic, rendered to human rubber by the absurdity.
Outside, Rod continued lashing the air with his whip. Tisnap! Tisnap! Tisnap! Tisnap!
Roland and I were fine with riding the bus home from school for the next few weeks.

--Mitchell Hegman