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The Evolution Will Not Be Instagrammed

So, today is the 10 year anniversary of the day my father committed suicide. I was going to write a very dramatic blog post about how tragedy has visited my life too often and my life was unfair, but a funny thing happened on the way to this ten year anniversary. I started to see my life differently.

 (bryan farley)

If life is unfair, I have the advantage, at least for today.

 (bryan farley)

Since I met Brad Paisley two weeks ago, Robin Williams committed suicide. Williams was 63, the same age that my father was when he committed suicide. On August 14, 2014, Paul McCartney played the last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  Tonight I danced with a kind woman from the Havin’ Fun Bunch. I returned from photographing roller derby just in time to hear the song, “When I’m 64.” The Havin’ Fun Bunch had a Disney themed party this year. Every year their mission is to have fun. I just started it.

Having Fun Bunch-6592

You can read more about the direction I was going to take by reading my Notes on a Blog post. I needed to go through all of those steps before I could decide to be grateful and have fun.

I visited my farmers’ market friends from Fresno County. I visited a high school friend (a FriendInCheeses indeed!) who also happened to be in San Francisco’s Mission District today. Later I drove to Sacramento and photographed a really cute baby. I would have taken more baby pictures, but roller derby teams from Santa Cruz and Sacred (Sacramento)  interfered with the Roller Derby photo shoot .

 (bryan farley)

I met some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen today. They all look so similar, and yet very different.

 (bryan farley)

A year ago today I started working at a high school. I loved teaching photography, yearbook and journalism.  I do not know why I am no longer there, but I trust that something will work out. One year ago, I titled my post, “On Track – Nine Years Later.”  Paisley mentioned Mark Twain during our discussion. I do not know much about Twain, but I remember the quote, “even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” I guess I needed to move.

 (bryan farley)

I only have a few more minutes left on August 16, 2014. I am probably going to leave my amazing DoubleTree by Hilton suite (thanks Mario!) and go out for a little bit. I will upload photos later and edit this post. I will also add more to my new “Notes on a Blog.” I am truly thankful to all the people who have helped me the last 10 years, 20 years, 30 years and 40 years and 46 years. Again, it seems unfair how much I have been able to do, because of the changes I have been forced to make.

 (bryan farley)

As I was talking with two different high school friends, I was reminded how I signed my old high school yearbooks. (Danny, I think I took the salutation from Brian with an “i”). When I was in high school, I wrote, “Take Care and Risks.” It sounded cool, but now that I have experienced a little more tragedy, I would change my salutation to

Take Risks and Take Care….

Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care to appreciate the little things.

 

 

Music is the Best Medicine

If Music is the best medicine, what do you take with a Whiskey Lullaby?

 (bryan farley)

So I went to see Brad Paisley on Saturday night at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, California. When I say that I went “to see Brad Paisley,” I mean that I went to talk to him and photograph his show. Paisley contacted me after I had written a blog post regarding a seizure joke he made on live television. Paisley seemed genuinely apologetic during our online communications, but until I met him in person I doubted if he had even sent the messages.

  (bryan farley)

When people ask me what is it like having epilepsy, I can now tell them about the Brad Paisley Experience. Having epilepsy is not normal. Having epilepsy is watching television and hearing one of your favorite musicians say something that trivialized a deadly health condition. You will want to protect your friends who have seizures and your friends who love country music. This is what it means to have epilepsy. You are protecting other people, because of something you have.

 (bryan farley)

Epilepsy is electric and invisible. I started receiving electronic messages that were difficult to trust. “Hey, Brad here.” Dude kept writing. I mean, he wrote to me more about my blog posts than my mom. (Note to mom: You are falling behind Brad) That is what it means to have epilepsy. You are grocery shopping and you receive electronic surges out of nowhere. Sometimes the messages knock you down. Sometimes the messages are from Brad Paisley. You do not try to explain, because you know that nobody is going to believe you. Keep Calm and Shop On.

 (bryan farley)

The most normal part about the Brad Paisley Experience was talking to Brad Paisley. This is clearly not normal either. I get that. I wish I could see a replay of my interactions from Saturday so you could see how badly I communicated with everyone except Brad Paisley, at least until I began photographing the show.

This is what I told him.

 (bryan farley)

He reached out. Occasionally, someone will see me on the news or read something I wrote and contact me, but it is rare. It just so happens that Paisley is a well known artist. It means a great deal to me when anyone contacts me and I am grateful to have the opportunity.

We talked more about music, the show and our background. He is someone I respect and if our lives were different, I could see being friends with him. As people age, it is difficult to make new friends. I imagine that it is more difficult for celebrities.

  (bryan farley)

This is what I did not tell him.

In ten days it will have been ten years since my dad shot himself. If my father had not committed suicide, I would not have become an epilepsy advocate. Next month, I will have had epilepsy for thirty years, and I had been silent for most of the time. I threw myself into suicide support groups and other related activities so that I could, in part, reduce my stress to prevent people from knowing that I had epilepsy. I wanted to keep my secret.

 (bryan farley)

Dealing with my father’s suicide gave me the strength to deal with almost anything. Paisley’s duet Whiskey Lullaby reminds me of my father. The songs also reminds me to live life fully. When nobody was available, I was able to call on Paisley, or Lady Day or Coltrane… to help me Act Naturally.

One day I might be able to live naturally.

More from the show here

Note to Notes: On August 10, I added a new section on my old blog called Notes on a Blog. This is a stream of consciousness reference section to help me and readers.

It is Official – The Derby Double

I first published this blog post on Saturday July 19, 2014, one week after the Bay Area Derby Girls regular season double header at The Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. The bouts decided which teams will skate for the regular season title on August 23, 2014. You can see the entire photo gallery here.

I chose photos that highlighted the work of the officials. I liked the idea of my post, but my words bored me. I wanted to say something better to honor the contributions of derby officials. I do not know if my edits will improve the article, but at least I can think about how I can express myself better for the next time.

 (bryan farley)

At derby bouts, I wish I could follow myself around and take my picture. Nearly everyone who participates has a derby name and persona. I am P Giddy. P Giddy is a great name, but I struggle putting on my persona. How do the derby officials do it? How can so many people adopt a persona that allows them to enforce the rules?

 (bryan farley)

I probably photograph the officials as often as I photograph the skaters. In roller derby, there are a lot of officials. I think that there are seven skating officials during each bout. Even when I am trying to photograph the action, I notice the officials. There are two officials in the foreground and one in the background. (There might be another one to the right.)

 (bryan farley)

Derby officials must constantly watch moving objects that shift in different directions. The photo above was taken shortly before the image below.

 (bryan farley)

Even when the officials remain in one place so that they can see better, the action still moves in opposite directions. Skaters constantly block views. At the Craneway Pavilion, sunlight also filters onto the track.

 

 (bryan farley)

Many people go to roller derby, because it is fun. Many fans do not know the rules. I do not really know the rules, but the officials know. Derby officials are constantly communicating with each other. I do not know what they are discussing, but they always seem to be communicating with each other.

 (bryan farley)

Even though I do not know what the officials are saying, I know that derby officials are part of the derby community. They have derby names and personas. They practice. They work. They have their own elbow pads and helmets.

 (bryan farley)

At a double header, I take about 600 images. Only about half of my images are of the skaters. The other half are of the officials and other derby community. This image above is a good example of many images I have taken of derby officials.

The officials are visible. The officials are dedicated. The officials work together.

That combination contributes to derby’s growing popularity.

 (bryan farley)

The visible, dedicated team of officials seem to be everywhere. I noticed as the lights became stronger, the non skating officials’ shadows became larger during the second bout when players arrived in the penalty box.

 (bryan farley)

Usually, I might edit a photo like this so that the action is tighter. (In other words, I would crop the photo so that the viewer does not see the two people on the left.) I also might eliminate the photo, because I probably have better action photos, but I like this one to show how officials work during a bout.

 (bryan farley)

I probably notice officials, because I umpired baseball for several years. Players, coaches and fans yelled at me. Some people believed it was “part of the game.” When people yelled, they often did not even know the rules. Once people knew me, they usually treated me better, even when I missed a call. Why are baseball umpires kept anonymous?

 (bryan farley)

Derby fans know the officials and treat them respectfully. Is this the secret? If we want to increase civility, do we increase interaction with those who maintain it?

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