There’s a shot by American photographer Bill Owens that conveys my day-to-day routine fairly well. It’s of a woman with her hair in rollers holding up a portly baby against the backdrop of a cluttered kitchen. When I first saw it, I couldn’t settle on her expression — is she forlorn and giving up on the suburban dream of a bright and peaceful life in a McMansion with 2.5 kids and a dutiful husband? Is she content even with all the work she can’t seem to keep up with, because she has a clear place in the universe as Wife/Mother?
From some digging, apparently the photograph has a caption at the bottom that the version I saw had redacted: “How can I worry about the damned dishes when there are children dying in Vietnam.” When he was interviewed about why he liked to include captions on his photographs, Owens commented “Sometimes when you photograph a person, they have something completely opposite to say…you find contradictions.” He was surprised that a suburban housewife going about her routine would have such lofty political concerns.
Then there’s me. Going about my boring work-toddler-sleep routine. My hair’s not in rollers (who has time for that?), but my baby is (slightly) less chubby and the kitchen sink is usually clear (I like to eat off paper plates). But there are streams of philsophical consciousness that punctuate an otherwise banal day. And maybe that’s the type of blog post I should try to find more time to write.