Thursday, November 10, 2005

holy holy holy

So, as some of you know, I got a job as a photo archivist (ok, a paid internship and I'm sure they would really just call me an assistant or technician or something) at a monastery. Yes, me, Potty Mouth McPottymoutherson is now working in the same building as a bunch of friars and brothers and monks and priests and lord knows what else. Did you know that there are like 50 different kinds of priests and shit? Archpriests and archbishops and prelates and prefects and even the very reverend monsignor and just the reverend monsignor?

I'm bombarding you with Catholic hierarchy because the other day I was in the archives at the monastery (read: basement with shelves) and I came across the most dreaded photographic archival find ever

---wait for it---

NITRATE BASED NEGATIVE FILM!!!!

YES!!! NITRATE FILM!!!

It had to be the most exciting five minutes of my archival career because, and most of you probably don't know this, nitrate film EXPLODES! It is so combustible at such low temperatures that if there is enough of it a lit cigarette could cause it to --once again for emphasis-- EXPLODE!!!

EXPLOSIONS! FIERY FILM OF DEATH! NOXIOUS GAS AND AUTO-COMBUSTION!!

The first thing I do is jump away from the box with the negatives, break out in a cold sweat, gasp for air, etc.. Whoa. Nitrate film. Two seconds later, I don some gloves and start to poke around in the nitrate. It occurs to me that maybe I don't really know what nitrate film is, maybe I'm wrong, maybe its acetate in really bad condition, so I race over to the internet and look it up.

(The thought "could poking nitrate film cause it to EXPLODE?" got me running too.)

Its a big hell yeah when I check for the classic symptoms of nitrate decomposition. My biggest clue was the smell. Acetate film smells like vinegar, but nitrate really really does not smell like vinegar. In fact, on a scale of vinegar odor to just plain ass, its quite near the ass end.

Then I'm like, what the hell do I do now? Because here at that monastery, I work alone.

I know there is an administrator upstairs and he is usually in plain-clothes, so I think he is secular, but I am not sure. I also know that monks wear robes and don't leave the premises. Well, I've never seen him leave, but I've also never seen him arrive, and I've totally seen those cheating monks walking around in jeans and tee shirts all the time. The best thing to do with these negatives is to get them the hell out of here, but they are official monastery records too. Can monks make decisions like that? Aren't they supposed to be humble? Do I have to go get permission from the Abbott or something? Kiss his hand and bow and cross myself twice?

Seriously, this Catholic hierarchy thing could have caused a serious fire if I wasn't so quick-witted. Everything was sorted out, but the catholic fun doesn't stop there.

Today, I almost ran into a priest. He was dark haired, olive skinned, and really serious looking, in a long black jacket. Just as he was turning the corner coming towards me, some errant breeze caught his jacket and made it bellow ominously around him in a way that reminded me of The Exorcist and The Omen and The Seventh Seal and seriously? I almost shit myself.