First Draft Sneak Peek No. 2
My work thrived on feelings and impulse. Ideas toppled all over themselves in my mind. I started burning through piles of material, shot hundreds of photographs, compared, evaluated, and developed my projects on the go, through trial and error, following my gut instincts.
An epic fail occurred when Andreas sent me on a quest to explore my journalistic capabilities. I picked a refugee camp of Albanian intellectuals who had escaped persecution and found shelter in Switzerland. The Albanian families did their best to survive until they would hopefully get the green light from the Swiss government to enable them to stay legally in Switzerland and acquire a work permit. For now their hands were tied as they tried hard to not be overcome by fear and desperation.
I felt mortified having to photograph them. I spent days amongst the families, listening to their stories, admiring their courage and resilience. We talked way into the night when an armada of cockroaches started to take over the rough shelters where the families were housed. The intellectuals told me about their meaningful lives as college professors, poets, politicians, and thinkers too far ahead of their time as well as too radical and threatening for their political environment.
Andreas kept asking me about my photographic progress. I never photographed. Since the camera hadn’t been a part of our encounters from the beginning, I felt like a traitor, the camera a red-hot piece of molten iron smoldering away in my bag. One day before my final deadline I downed an entire bottle of Baileys, then went to the refugee camp and photographed all day. Still drunk I rushed to the Academy darkroom, developed the films and hoped that I would be able to get at least a handful of presentable prints out of the foggy journalistic endeavor. When I finally opened the developing canister to examine the film I stared at roll after roll of empty film. It dawned on me then. I had been so drunk that I had never removed the lens cap. The refugees had either not noticed or exhibited extreme self-restraint in watching my comical attempts at being a journalist. After I left they must have collapsed with laughter. At least I could rest assured that I had brought some involuntary humor into their otherwise dreary daily routines.
First Draft Sneak Peek No. 1
Navigating through my early childhood already foreshadowed the man I would become. I persevered and solved problems with determination. When my parents went to the opera one evening, I played ball inside our vast penthouse apartment. Konrad was fond of enormous decorative vases that wobbled precariously many times as I ran past them. Konrad and Hildegard often cautioned me and mentioned how expensive the in my mind useless pieces of furniture had been. In the absence of my parents the impossible happened and my soccer ball collided with the biggest, most expensive vase in our living room. For a moment it seemed to simply wobble and settle back to rest in the same space, but then it fell in what seemed like slow motion, hit the stone fireplace and shattered into hundreds of pieces. I had battled with my mother over abstract trifles all through the week. Now I wondered what a true disaster would bring out in her if trifles had aggravated her so much already. To my young mind, the expensive, broken vase was a disaster of grand proportions. I sprung into action and raided our house for solutions. Several minutes later I returned to our living room armed with several packages of super glue. I checked the kitchen clock and calculated that I had roughly four hours before I had to face the wrath of my parents. The vase had been half a meter in diameter and approximately one meter tall. I tackled the pile of shards in front of me like any other puzzle game I had solved over the years. For hours I stared at pottery shards and carefully put the infamous vase back together piece by piece. As the hours passed I felt greater urgency and doubled my efforts. Towards midnight I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time as I contemplated the result of four hours of intense concentration and dedication standing in front of me. I could see what looked like hairline cracks all over the finely sculpted work of pottery yet to the unaware eye my father’s most priced pottery possession looked as proud as ever. Noticing the late hour I ran and hid all evidence of my crime under my bed to discard safely the next day. Then I turned off all the lights, raced to my room and jumped under my blanket.
While in high school I used to sign up for many writing competitions. Once a year the parliament of Southern Germany challenged young writers countrywide. I signed up for their competition every year, then did nothing until two days before the deadline, wrote frantically for the last two days and nights, then ran to deliver my essay in person minutes before closing time. To my eternal surprise I won first price each time. One year the competitors were invited to a day in parliament. I was allowed to give a speech about my essay for the other students. So many years back… I am sixteen in this photograph… Now I seem to have come full circle, except that my work ethic has improved dramatically since then. I think this is what I am meant to do. I am meant to write, give speeches, inspire, and offer my unique view of the world we live in.