June 2013 Sampler

by Jim on 2023/06/01

Jimbaux is feeling miles away
You think he’s got it made
He doesn't belong here

I Don’t Belong Here

Greetings, and welcome to the June 2013 Sampler essay. As sampler essays on this publication go, this one is actually rather significant, though not because of either the quality of pictures or the quantity of pictures – or even due to the stories behind the pictures.  A hint as its significance is that I have violated my standard practice of not having songs in sampler posts; the Seether song “Got It Made” really does always make me think of the summer of 2013, as I listened to it plenty then, as it spoke to how I was feeling.

This was the summer of stand-up comedy and music open mics, a summer of thought, introspection, and creativity, a summer of learning about the worlds, at least in southeastern Louisiana, of music and comedy.  It’s something that has taken on new meaning years later.

The summer of stand-up comedy and music performance came to an abrupt end when I was forced back into the classroom to do a job that I no longer had the heart to do.  The rigidity from having to play that role just killed so much of my creativity and general openness. 

I had gotten to know some people and learn some things about myself in the process.  I got to experience highs and lows.  I had hopes.

The longing that fueled all of this now makes much more sense now that I understand that I am autistic, something that I did not know at the time.

Amazingly, to me as I review some old e-mail messages a decade later, I had aspirations and tentative plans to travel far that summer, specifically to the Pacific Northwest, specifically to Bainbridge Island and any other plans that I could visit in the process.

On May 29, I wrote this to a few people:

Also, there are two other matters affecting travel.  I’ve just agreed today to be an instructor at a summer camp that my employer is holding, which will keep me busy until at least June 21.  The fact that I don’t have a position for next school year and am otherwise almost unemployed influenced my decision to take this position, but I’m also supposed to be teaching some digital photography class!  I’ve never done that and would like to do that; so, that should be cool.  A former colleague is running the camp and thought of me to teach the classes.  The other reason making me not want to yet book flights are the musical projects on which I plan to work.  I don’t know how that will go yet.

I ended up working at a summer camp on the West Bank for my employer. I think that the late start time, compared to regular-school-year high-school teaching, allowed me to do the late-night stand-up comedy and music stuff. Just saying that reminds me of a summer school at which I worked three years before in which I had to question my own commitment, as there was plenty plaguing me at the time.

Something that I feel very much worth noting is that, after the end of June 2013, I took essentially no action pictures of trains until November 2, shortly after my last grandparent died and after I had finally figured out what to do next after school-teaching – even though I’d find myself back in the profession twice later. I’ll discuss that more later at the end of the post.

Let’s get to the pictures.

Sunday, The 2nd

Here is an eastbound BNSF Railway manifest train that has just crossed Bayou Des Allemands.

This is the only time that I ever did this shot. I must have been traveling eastbound myself at the time and got ahead of this train. Of course that is the answer! I was headed from Bayouland back to Whoadieville I guess to be back in the latter to start working at summer camp. I did later get a neat shot of this train at Willswood, which I will post on Facebook.

Friday, The 7th

There is nothing here.

I think that this was on Clearview drive in Jefferson.

Tuesday, The 11th

See, okay, knowing now that I am autistic, I realize now that I was trying to be “after-work train picture” guy, as I got this somewhat-high-sun shot on my way out of summer school for the day, as I recall, trying to do the “after work shot” genre.

This is a lame shot of a westbound bare-table train at Willswood, a shot that I’ve done only a few times for reasons that should be obvious.

My back still felt weird.

Thursday, The 13th

This was the day, the afternoon, that I chased a train with the Western Pacific heritage locomotive in the locomotive consist.

Now that I am writing all of this, I vaguely recall thinking at the time about how the workload and daily schedule for the summer camp thing – only about three hours per day – was manageable and that regular ‘jobs” wouldn’t be so onerous if they were like this.

Friday, The 14th

I took many pictures on this day, and the first was at Bayou Saint John north of Dumaine Street.  I almost made it the image from the day to share here, because it was significant to my New Orleans experience even at the time but would become even more significant to my New Orleans experience in 2019 before I departed for good in early 2020, but I ended up using this image instead, because there was a foreshadowing of something that would happen in the fairly near future that I didn’t realize at the time.

Maybe I thought at the time that I was too educated for it, but, a few months later, the thought occurred to me that I should attend that institution, and, a few months after that, I was!

Saturday, The 22nd

I am going to break form here.  My standard practice in these sampler essays is to include one SLR-camera image from each day of the month in which I made SLR-camera images.  That means no images of any other kind, including cell-phone pictures.

I have to make an exception here.  These images may have been taken in the wee hours of Saturday morning, but they are more “Friday night” images.

It’s just my luck that one of the better friends that I made doing stand-up comedy died only a few years later.  Still, it meant so much to me that Jeannie Dean befriended and supported me, even let me stay in her home.

It made me feel like I might have a future in comedy.  That that was false hope doesn’t take away from the gratitude that I have about her friendship.

Sunday, The 23rd

Summer camp had ended.  I was headed back to Bayouland for the night and maybe for longer than that, and I snapped this shot after I had crossed the Mississippi River.

That’s a westbound CSX-to-UP manifest train descending the Huey P. Long Bridge.  Later that evening, at Schriever, I photographed an eastbound BNSF Railway intermodal train and, then, 12 minutes later, Amtrak’s eastbound Sunset Limited.

Sunday, The 30th

Finally, I got this shot at Deckbar to close out a month that I described at the time in a very pensive post that I hope that you read, as it really reflects my general mood at the time.

In another post that September, I showed the pictures from June that had not made it into that prior post.

After that, I took essentially no pictures of trains, other than about three sets of – three instances of – lame grab shots, until November 2, and there is a reason that I called my November 2 pictures “November Newness, A Rebirth”; I had just lost my last grandparent, the weather was finally cool, I finally could see a light at the end of the tunnel of my depressing nightmare of a work arrangement, and I could see a future in going back to school in the next year.

I would go to school for drafting, but, most unfortunately, I would boomerang back to school teaching a couple of times after that.  So, no, I didn’t actually have a way out, but I thought at the time that I did, and it’s all still relevant to this day.

So, that’s what the summer of 2013 means for me, a time of depth, reflection, art, and transition, a difficult, sometimes entertaining, sometimes hopeful, and memorable time.


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