Commercial Record

Blue Star

In the Sticks: Fishing near the Jeremy Barnett/Jason Maracini sculpture installation is an arts adventure. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

By Scott Sullivan
Editor
Atomize
“Welcome to McDonald’s,” a voice crackled through speakers.
“My order’s random.”
“Want fries with that?”
So much for foisting chaos. “Medium, extra crispy with two ketchup packets and a medium Coke, extra ice,” I said. My daughter likes two items medium with extras.
They were short-staffed July 4. The disembodied voice took flesh in the form of one teen entrusted to look through cameras, wear a talk-outside headset with blue light and take my credit card through the first of two sliding drive-up windows. At the second I waited for Flannery’s food, thinking “atomize.”
There were no lines. Kids with the least seniority struggled to make sense of the deep fryer, soda nozzles, ice machine, packaging, would they have to work late and miss the fireworks? That’s why they were scheduled for this day.
At last the bag came. “Ketchup?” I asked. He tossed in a handful. “Happy Fourth,” I said.
Atomize means to:
1) Convert into very fine particles or droplets, e.g. the CO2 depressurized, atomizing the paint into a mist of even-size particles; and
2) Reduce to atoms or other small distinct units, i.e. by disrupting our ties with our neighbors, crime atomizes society. As with any power it’s outcomes can be good, bad or both.
I mean no harm when I try to atomize (break into pixel-like, light-reflecting elements) in a photograph or break down words. What sense do they make in forms now assembled? Where might new components and/or in some other order take us?
By the time I pulled out, a second car had arrived to wait at the windows. Turning hard left I looped around curbside daylilies and followed painted arrows, signs and lanes out of the lot and home with the goods.
Kids outgrow parents yet stay “kids” even as they enlarge our minds. Flannery and I tease each other about how the difference between artistic and autistic are the letters r-u — Are you?
The same foods, clothes, work and sleep habits (I’m diurnal, she and mom nocturnal) are freely-chosen like veins, channel walls or self-imposed prisons to focus flow.
I knocked three times on her bedroom door. “Got the grub.”
“Oh boy,” she said, opening it a crack, taking the food without letting the black dog or cat in, and closing it. As with our pets, she and I observe feeding rituals too with Starbucks.
Near 11:30 a.m. she calls from her bedroom next door to my work den via cell phone.
“Dad?
“Yes.”
“Can you get me the same old same old?”
“No way,” I say, meaning no way I won’t.
Starbucks employees, a rotating cast near her age, know me, what I’ll order and take pictures by how I look at things now I’ve told them: slice of lemon loaf, chocolate chip cookie, ice water. Simple, easy.
Same when I get home with food in two Starbucks-logoed brown paper bags and water in a thin, clear plastic cup whose top pops off when I cling too hard and spills on me.
“Why’s the cup half-full?” she asks, noting too water stains.
“I know nothing.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Who said?”
Then back to my den, like Prospero with Miranda, while in her room she is creates/eats too.
Unable to find much on “atomize” via Google, I tried “granular”: resembling or consisting of small grains or particles.
When I shot film, “grainy” meant thin on dots or pixels, due most often to using a high black-and-white film speed and ISO setting pushing the edge of my gear’s capacity. This was for night and/or indoor high school sports. Football was a stretch too absent a high-speed, cost-heavy zoom/telescopic lens. Worse, I did not read manuals; I learned through failure.
What was called grain in film equates loosely to noise in digital. The image begins to break down and atomize. Pulled apart past coherence because you don’t have the parts.
After last week’s parrots/automatic weapons flap (see apology nearby) when I failed to atomize the automatic weapons creasing a black t-shirt’s flag map, I asked can I still feel doubts and deficiencies as when more impressionable and ripe? Post-mature pains are equally real, just different.
Odds are evening west light will grow bold and deep across a darkening spectrum vanishing. Artificial light time. When young I would speed west across desert hills trying to unset the sun.

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