She Floats!


In this chapter of Bridgit's adventures, we went to visit some friends of mine in Berkeley for a few hours. Dana and I first met in 1972, about a month after I moved to Eureka from New York City via South Korea. Dana was the first person I met in California who felt like "home". We have remained friends through her divorce, my divorce, several meaningful and well-meaning relationships and partnerships, graduate school for both of us, and our beloved kids growing up and leaving home. There have been far more deaths and severe illnesses among loved ones than we would ever want to count. We even traveled through her amazing battle with a life-threatening sarcoma. She is now two and a half years cancer free.

Dana and I have roots. What we hadn't had together in a long time was a TRULY deep and extended laugh together.

Dana and her husband, Bruce, are into creating costumes big-time, particularly for competitions at the science fiction conventions. They always win a prize. Last year, Dana and Bruce outfitted five different family members for a competition put on by British Airways. They won five pairs of round trip tickets to London!

Dana and Bruce never do anything halfway. Their home reflects their various collaborative projects: masks on the walls full scale costumed models scattered everywhere.  If they are creating theatrical costumes from the Court of Louis XIV, there are books and articles open to visual and written descriptions, information that then translates into their own unique invention.

 Bridgit tries on one of  Dana's masks, Berkeley, 1999 copyright Pam Mendelsohn

In 1977, Dana went back to school to become an architect. At the time, she commented: "At age 30, I wondered what I would do with myself when I grew up. I began hoping for something that would become more than it is when you interact with it, something to get excited about." She's doing it, and collaboratively. In fact, she has just taken on a job designing a virtual reality world. One of the main people involved in the start-up of this new company is none other than her son, Ari. She also just completed costumes for second son Jaron's Commedia play that opened in early March.

Dana and Bruce have been so supportive of my collaboration with Bridgit. They came with me to the Freakatorium to photograph Felicity. It was Dana's idea to take Bridgit to Malta in two-dimensional format. One or the other, Bruce or Dana, has personally scanned every single one of the photographs on this website. I asked Dana to figure out how and what to pose that would reflect her.

Actually, we started with an idea of mine that I couldn't resist. There is a small fountain in Dana and Bruce's home. The fountain contains stones collected from various places that are meaningful to Dana and Bruce -- the roof of the architect Gaudi's apartment, the road near Leed's Castle, an opal-touched stone from a marketplace in Sydney. There are crystals hanging in the nearby window. At 4:30, the sun was projecting the most amazing shadows. So, we set the crystals to spinning and placed Bridgit next to the fountain.

 Bridgit among the crystals and before floating, Berkeley, 1999 copyright Pam Mendelsohn

From the fountain, we moved to Dana's alien Santa Claus -- complete with three arms, a bag of tricks, and the essence of beneficent expression.

 Bridgit with an alien looking a lot like Santa Claus, Berkeley, 1999 copyright Pam Mendelsohn

He and Bridgit are just about the same size. Then Bridgit posed with Dana and a presence very much larger than either one of them. This figure had once served as the Supreme Head/High Priest of an indeterminate future religion where the parishioners were followers of the Grateful Dead. This presence is now seen as a retiring alien who travels the galaxies from the far end of their living room. He is about 8 feet tall with wonderful arms that move. He enfolded Bridgit.

 Bridgit with the former Supreme Head/High Priest of an indeterminate future religion, Berkeley, 1999 copyright Pam Mendelsohn

Dana's idea was a hot tub portrait with the three of us in the picture. The back of the hot tub has a wonderful ledge. Behind it is a convergence of lines created by tiles. So we put Bridgit on the ledge. Then, I set up the tripod, both of us stripped, and I began timed exposures. I guess I looked pretty funny as a stark naked photographer trying to frame us because Dana was already acting pretty silly. But the series of frames in which I have ten seconds to get to the back of the tub before the shutter "blinked" had us helpless with laughter. For the first one, I was just about there, when Dana chortled: " YOUR WATCH!" Click, run, pose, click, run, pose, click, run, pose.

Click, run, pose.  Outcome?  A really good laugh.  Berkeley, 1999 copyright Pam Mendelsohn

Bridgit: would she float? Reason told us that she would, but both of us were imagining her sinking to the bottom of the tub. Worse: would she turn to mildewed mush later on? We took the chance, taping up a hole in her back first. She floats!

Dana has always complained that I never sit still. I noted that I was sitting still in the tub. She noted that I was like a speedboat in the tub, exploring every possible outer edge while I "relaxed." So, I sat still. What a wonderful time we had until we were completely prune-like and anticipating the feel of cozy towels. Except the towels were upstairs at the opposite end of the house.

Mark, Dana and Bruce's housemate, happened to come home just at that moment. Dana called out to him. What a look crossed his face when he came into the tub room: two naked women glowing from laughter and hot water, Bridgit in all her glory, camera on tripod, soaking wet floor from my jumps. Mark got the towels.

When Dana was at the height of her chemotherapy, she was extremely self-conscious about her baldness. She always covered her head: wig, scarf, hat. But, a costuming idea occurred to her. "I couldn't turn away from it," she remembers. "I had to do it. The discomfort of being seen bald yielded to the overwhelming artistic impulse." Dana and Bruce adapted their Warp Technicians outfits by adding a "spike cut" created with a row of three-inch screws for Dana. Bruce's headdress involves broken pieces of CD's. Cyberpunk. And the two went dressed as such to the West Coast Science Fiction Convention in Seattle. Later, they entered the British Airways competition in these costumes. Bridgit and I returned recently for a formal portrait with the Warp Technicians. Now that Dana has a full head of hair, her headdress has been adapted with a wig from which the screws sprout. 



About Bridgit
Bridgit in Malta
Bridgit at St. Brigid's
She Floats!
High Light: The Winter Solstice
Excursion to Primal Decor
Getting to Know Felicity


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