The last week of October found me in Arkansas (and Oklahoma) for a brief visit with Mom, some photography, and some introspection. I’ve been slow in getting the film processed, so look forward to more photographs from this trip in coming weeks.
For now, it’s all about Cinestill films in the Yashica Mat-124, a party, of sorts, in 5 parts.
I. Arkansas 23 with the Yashica 124
I missed the ramp to I49 on the way to Mom’s last month, and so I happily took AR 23 up to Eureka Springs, all the way from Ozark, AR. What a beautiful (and incredibly fun) drive: the Pig Trail Scenic Byway through the Ozark National Forest is all twists and turns and ups and downs. Caroline‘s all wheel drive, “torque vectoring,” and DSG transmission made for a spirited (read: hair-raising) ride…
I stopped a couple of times to take some pictures of what little fall color I saw. I expected to see mostly bare trees with a little bit of brown, but with the incessantly warm days and nights this year, everything was mostly green with just a bit hint of gold and red sprinkled here and there. Definitely strange for the last week of October.
If you ever find yourself in the western half of Arkansas and you’re looking for a drive, give AR 23 a try. It’s a great drive, for sure.
II. Eureka! Cognitive Dissonance!
After a nice rest a Mom’s I took the Yashica Mat-124 out for a walk around town one day, where I finished up a roll of Cinestill 50D and started a roll of 800T. Eureka Springs is a tiny little tourist town in Northwest Arkansas, and it’s really pretty in the late fall, after most of the tourists have left, through the winter, and into the early spring. Then the tourists return and it’s pandemonium (and time for everyone to make as much money as possible before the lean months come in). An aunt and uncle of mine moved to a small mountain cabin outside of town in the early 1980s, and my grandparents retired there for a few years in the late 80s. I have some fond memories of the 3 or 4 summer breaks I spent up there in my tween years.
Mom moved there in the early 2010s, and I’ve been getting to know the place as an adult for awhile now. It’s hard. I took my wife there for our honeymoon in 2013, and we had something of a hard time. It was our first week together, and the first experience I had with islamophobia and racism. Since then, and after some experimentation, my darling, adorable wife and I stick to big cities. I love small towns and the country, but the people there tend to fall into one of three camps: those that fear and/or hate Muslims; those that disapprove strongly of interracial marriage; and those that hate Muslims and interracial marriage. I’ve gotten to where I can tell which is which, just by the looks we get. As a white male in the United States, from this position of great privilege, it’s hard for me and I often don’t know how to handle things.* When I’m by myself, no one gives me a second look, everyone is friendly and ready to take my money. But when I’m with my darling, adorable wife, we get hostile stares, muttered comments, and receive sub-par service (for what I’m used to, as a white American male… it’s probably what most other people get all the time).
So I don’t take my wife to the country very often, and if I do, she stays in the car most of the time. Astaghfirullah.
Anyway. It didn’t matter this time. My darling, adorable wife was busy wrapping up her BA in Social Work, and Mom and I don’t attract any attention at all, so we enjoyed a nice walk around the neighborhood on the uphill side of downtown. It was lovely, really.
We stopped in the gardens of the Crescent Hotel, where I tried, and failed, to capture some butterflies on a late migration (and later tried, and failed, to get the color right in processing… I need to recalibrate my screens I think). The Yashica Mat is a great camera, but I need way more practice with it before I’m capable of capturing small, moving targets with any accuracy.
The next day, Mom and I traveled to Tulsa for [undisclosed, ongoing project]. Not much to say about that, except that Tulsa has one of the best used paperback bookstores I’ve ever been in. On the way out of Arkansas, we passed by the War Eagle Mill, and I had to stop for some good flour and a shot of the single lane bridge.
And once there, I tried (and failed) to shoot some Stephen Shore-inspired things. This is the best one.
So that was my fall vacation on 120… Honestly, I feel really conflicted. I have fond memories of Eureka Springs and really love the country and the mountains. But I love my wife way more, and I feel like I’m cheating on her when I go to beautiful places without her. I’d love to take her along, but the people are so incredibly nasty to us when we’re together. If she was alone or with other women, she probably wouldn’t have as much of a problem. And when I’m alone, the only problem I have is the knowledge that I’m only getting good service and not having a problem with anyone because they don’t know I’m a Muslim and/or don’t know that I’m married to a Bengali. But together, we get (not quite) the worst side of people.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for me, please reach out. I know a big part of my problem is my privilege, but I don’t know how to correct myself. Mostly, I just try to ignore all the conflict in my head and just get on with it, but I’m not sure that’s healthy. May Allah grant me guidance, ameen.
V. a technical note
I recently started loading two rolls of 120 on one Patterson reel. The reel will accept a roll of 220, so 2×120 should be no problem. After my first total screw-up, I’ve started using the tape that holds the start of the roll to the backing paper to tape the two rolls together, but I had some overlap anyway on this one. Oh well, it makes for some interesting errors, maybe.
*This desire to handle things is probably a big part of my privilege, and my problem. I don’t know how to resolve it. May Allah guide me to better.