Saturday, January 30, 2010

I heart Julius

I went tonight to see a film, Visual Acoustics, at Webster University. It's about Julius Shulman, the father of modern architecture photography. It's showing again at 7:30 tomorrow night (details here), and you should go see it if you can. It's well worth more than the $6 it costs to get in. It's as much about modern architecture as it is about photography, and it showcases some of the most visually stimulating (and stunning) homes in the world. Of course, I'm already a huge fan of modernism, so this film was eye candy to me. But I think you'll be a fan, too, once you see it!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dear M,

My darling husband,

It is now 1:30 a.m. I went to bed before 10 p.m. last night so I could get a good night's sleep. This is essential when one has a goal of rising at 5:10 to go run. Most of us need a solid 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to be functioning human beings.

I am no longer in that category. I am now in the category of raging insomniac, unable to sleep and pissed off.

Your cell phone alarm, for reasons unknown, has gone off approximately every 9 minutes since midnight.

You can see where this might be conducive to, you know, wakefulness.

Only you can't see that, because for some reason it's not bothering you. You take anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds to realize it's going off, before fumbling around with the damn thing on your nightstand and, also for unknown reasons, hitting "snooze" instead of "off."

I have tried moving to the couch. That doesn't work because a.) it's not too comfortable, b.) I can still hear the alarm and c.) I can't sleep now anyway because I am fully awake and plotting places on your personal self where I may embed the phone in vitriolic retribution.

I begged you to turn it off. I pleaded. I cajoled. I got pissed and snapped at you, which didn't work either since you got pissed right back. Please excuse me if I fail to see any reason why you should be angry.

I am now tempted to take the phone and place it in a cooler. In your car. In the garage. Or just running over it altogether. That would be a less expensive alternative to having a doctor have to surgically remove it from your body. However, that is not as gratifying as my first option.

I am writing this now so later today, when you are sitting at work wondering why your ass is ringing, you know exactly why.

Much love,
Your Wife

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Wahoooo! I shot today, AND I'm in the darkroom doing some editing. And it's already 9:12. Which apparently as of late is rather late for me.

I've been grousing around for days now about the crappy weather. I want the fog and the dampness to lift, already, so I can shoot. And then this morning I visited a friend's blog and her photographs inspired me to go ahead and shoot the gray. So I did. (She's in Chicago, so it seems the entire midwest is shrouded in this damn foggy mess.) And then tonight I had fun farting around in Photoshop.
Nothing spectacular, but it felt great to be shooting again. And now, yawn, it's time for bed.

Christmas Outtakes

I didn't make it into the darkroom last night. I didn't even come close. I fell asleep in the library with a photography magazine in my hands. Out by 9:30. This is getting really pathetic.

I wonder if I'm catching up on all the sleep I missed in two years of school. Or maybe it's the weather and the fact that it's dark by 2 p.m.
But I promised some images, so here are the outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot. Keep in mind that for most of these, my "assistant" was dozing in an armchair behind me. I'm going to have to cut his salary or dock his pay or something. Because while he snoozed, this is what I was dealing with:
Everything ground to a halt here when Zoe decided that she wanted to get her camera and make her own pictures. Given her vantage point, her shots are mainly of M conked out in the chair behind me. Come to think of it, one of those might have been good on the Christmas card, too.
I was trying to adjust lighting here, and instructed Zo to close her eyes so she wouldn't get flashed over and over again. Poor Hoot, though, has no eyelids and took it direct. Nice catchlights in Hoot's eyes, though.

This last one isn't so much an outtake as Zoe turning into the art director and demanding that Hoot have his own Christmas shot. I suppose Hoot with Rudolph is the equivalent of Zoe sitting on Santa's lap.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ga What?

Can someone please explain Lady Gaga to me? I'm just not getting that whole concept.

Her music is like a friggin' ear worm catastrophe though. I heard "Bad Romance" while waiting to donate blood hours ago.

"Ah ah ooh la la, ah ah, ooh la la, ga ga ooh la la."

I mean, really, what is that? It's still stuck in my head, though.

And now she's been named "Creative Director" at Polaroid. Hey, I can do my hair all crazy-like and utter jibberish to a good beat if it'll get me that gig. I'm not wearing the short shorts, though.

Tuesday news (or lack thereof)

I'm getting used to this no-school thing. I had some wine with dinner the other night. Last night I had a Sol with my quesadilla at Hacienda, then fell asleep on the couch before 9 p.m. I'm exercising every day, and my house is getting cleaned out. Tonight I plan to spend many hours goofing around in Photoshop. A girl could get used to this kind of life.

Donated blood today for me mam who has back surgery coming up. There are two bad parts to donating blood. 1.) The stupid finger prick they do to get a drop of blood for iron level testing. They have to do it on your finger and it hurts like hell and then you get a pesky band-aid that makes typing a pain in the butt. That's nothing, though, compared to 2.) having to disclose your weight in the pre-donation assessment. I once overheard a rather overweight woman answer brilliantly:

Red Cross: "How much do you weigh?"
Donor: "Why?"
Red Cross: "You must weigh at least 110 pounds to donate, for health reasons."
Donor: "Oh. Okay. Go ahead and put me down for 111."

I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Never had the guts to use that line myself, though.

Other than that, no news here. I haven't had to pull a Houdini to get my shirt on straight on the treadmill since last week. Zoe's feeling better (she had stomach flu over the weekend). M's birfday is Saturday...he's gonna be 38. Still gets carded, the turd.

If I get through some archived images tonight and find something worthwhile, I'll post it here. I've been rather remiss with the images lately. Time to get back to it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A new exercise routine?

It's easy to see how I could put my shirt on backwards when it's 5:10 in the morning and I'm keeping the room completely dark so as not to awaken my blissfully sleeping husband (I'm a good wife like that). What's not easy to see is how I can not realize that I've done that until I'm on the treadmill, at the gym, and just starting to run.

Being a multi-tasker of the highest order, I figured I'd just do a little switcheroo right quick and be good to go. No problem, right? I mean, I'm the girl who can get a bra off without removing her shirt, and that's saying something given the size of my bras. I figured I'd pull my arms in, rotate the shirt around, and put 'em back through the arm holes. Sounds easy enough and was, what I thought, a fairly logical plan. It sure beat getting off the treadmill and risk losing it to someone.

What I didn't count on is the fact that my exercise shirts, while sleeveless, are also fairly fitted. There's not really room inside the shirt for my torso, the "girls," and my arms. Which I didn't realize until, of course, my arms were both in there and relatively pinned.

This was the point that the treadmill, having finally woken up from sleep mode, decided to start moving. I lurched forward precipitously, trying to figure out how to get my arms out and the damn shirt turned around without killing myself or flashing the entire gym, and desperately hoping that the other early morning gym rats weren't awake enough to watch a heavy-set girl struggle to free herself from her own clothing while moving at a brisk pace on her treadmill.

I finally got free and avoided eye contact with the guy on the treadmill next to me, who I'm sure was either laughing his ass off or wondering if I was having some sort of fit.

Not a real graceful start to the day but I put in my two miles and so am quite pleased.

How to help

I love that our country is showing an outpouring of support for the people of Haiti. If you haven’t made a donation yet, please consider doing so to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. It’s quick and easy and it helps so much.

There’s something else I’d like you to consider. Match your Haiti donation by contributing also to a local non-profit. As a former Red Cross employee (and future volunteer, now that I’m out of school), I can tell you that when fundraising efforts are full-throttle for major national and international relief efforts, local chapters suffer. Donors contribute for the “big stuff” and consider their good deeds done. Meanwhile, local agencies are still working around the clock, every day of the year, providing services right here in our communities. These small disasters don’t garner the media’s attention and so fundraising for them is difficult.

Better yet, make a donation to the Red Cross and don’t designate it for anything. Trust me, that organization knows best how to use your contribution. There are thousands of fine people working for Red Cross around the world, and they are careful stewards of donations. Remember that providing aid when a disaster (natural or man-made) means that the Red Cross must have reserves and supplies on-hand, ready to go. They can’t afford to wait for donations to roll in. So, right now, the organization is tapping into its reserves to provide immediate help to the people of Haiti. Aren’t we lucky to have that kind of resource? Help the Red Cross continue to be ready…donate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Think...then speak

I'm tired this morning. I think I stayed up too late last night, which at 11 p.m. is late for me these days. I have been rather enjoying the luxury of going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even early (one night it was before 9) without worrying that I'm missing an opportunity to get homework done. Early to bed equals early to rise, so I've reinstated my gym routine and am now happily (and sleepily) rolling out of bed at 5:10 a.m. to pull on work-out clothes before bundling up to freeze in the car for two miles. When the weather breaks I may try riding my bike up there, but no way am I climbing on that thing when it's four degrees.

I stayed up last night partly to watch Conan, to see how he'd spin this raw deal he's getting. He did a great job...M and I were in stitches. Hope the guy gets a break.

Attended my first Infertility and Adoption Support board meeting in about a year and a half last night. It's so nice to get my life get to work on the things I want to do. Given my newfound freedom (and apparent zest for torture), I volunteered to pull together our big fundraiser for the year: the annual Trivia Night. I did this only on the condition that, come the night of the event, I'm allowed to purchase a table and attend as a guest. Had way too much fun last year to miss that. And besides, my table has to redeem itself after our ignoble loss to M's table. (Annie Liebovitz didn't shoot for Vogue until the 90s, if at all, and if she did, it was sporadic. She was Rolling Stone's photog for years, and does a lot for Vanity Fair. Vogue? Not so much. You people got a free mulligan on that one.) (Yes, I'm still bitter.)

I don't have a date fact, I don't even have the contact name and number for the church where we hold it to line it up yet. But stay tuned. It'll be sometime in late March or early April, on a Saturday night. It's a fun night to support a wonderful organization.

IAS is hosting an informational booth at the Working Women's Survival Show again this year, and notes were made to warn our booth volunteers about possible insensitivities that could be encountered. I was stunned to learn that many of our volunteers who are struggling with infertility and are at various stages of cycles and medical assistance had to hear women stroll by the booth making comments like, "Damn, I don't need that. I got too many kids already. You can have one of mine!"

My solution was to provide our volunteers with daggers, which they could just whip out, fling, and fell the heartless jerks who obviously can't think before they speak.

Then I realized that probably most people don't realize just how painful infertility is. If you've never experienced it, after all, how are you to know? This is part of our mission, and my personal mission. Educate people about infertility, and banish the stigma associated with it. Most people who are struggling to conceive don't really want to tell the world about it. Who wants to say, "Hey, yeah, I am dying to have a child, but my body won't cooperate..." Ordinary events become extremely painful to endure. A coworker announcing a pregnancy once caused me to lock myself in the bathroom for 30 minutes, crying. I quit going to baby showers altogether. Mother's Day at church was unbearable, as the priest asked all mothers to stand for their special blessing. Illness wasn't hard to feign on that day...I was nauseous from the mere idea of having to suffer through that humiliation. Innocent loved ones would regularly ask, "So when are you going to have a baby?" How would they know that each inquiry felt like a knife to my heart?

I tell you this in the hopes that, if you've never experienced infertility, you'll at least be more sensitive to those of us who have, or who may be currently dealing with it. Having a child is an incredibly personal decision that concerns only two people: the potential parents. I'm not sure why, in our society, questioning people about their reproductive plans has become so commonplace, but I sure wish it would stop. And for Pete's sake, think before you speak if you're walking by someone staffing an infertility booth. There's a reason we're there. Don't make it hard for us to help other people who are hurting just like us.

Two and a third miles at the gym this morning. Back in the volunteer game. Going to bed early and enjoying what's left of The Tonight Show. Good stuff. Glad to be back.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Go Conan

Not that it means anything to anyone, but I feel compelled to voice my support for Conan O'Brien, current host of The Tonight Show on NBC. The guy is getting royally boofed by his network, and worse, it's all public.

I'm not sure why Jay Leno chose 2009 to retire, and then come out of retirement, but none of that is Conan's fault. The man had a contract, for Pete's sake. He worked for years and years to reach this goal, and because of Mr. Leno's apparent lack of ability to hold an audience during prime time, he's getting the shaft. It seems that Leno must have naked pictures of NBC's head of programming or something. Good gawd, cut the man loose already. Quit disrupting everything and everyone because Leno is stamping his feet and demanding his old time slot back. You made your bed, now lie in it.

I can't predict what will happen to Conan. Hopefully another network will pick him up (and his talented staff) and give him a real shot, much like Letterman. Who, incidentally, also got screwed by NBC with its late-night programming choices.

I like Conan. I know a lot of the older generation may not get his brand of humor, but I like the guy. I like his hair. I like his antics. I like his toothy grin. I like Andy Richter's perennial role of stooge extraordinaire. I grew up on Letterman and a little on Carson before the segue into Leno. I enjoyed them all, but honestly, the Tonight Show could use some freshening up. Conan brings that while still maintaining some of the tradition that makes the Tonight Show sparkle. It's a good fit.

So, NBC, hear this from a disgruntled viewer. You lose Conan, you lose me.

I know this doesn't mean much, but dammit, it's the principle of the matter!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tonight's goal: sloth

Five days into 2010 and I am loving this new year. Sunday I renewed my gym membership, and Monday morning I hit the treadmill. My cardiovascular stamina is non-existent, but that's to be expected after two years of the sitting-on-my-ass exercise routine. Two miles yesterday morning, two more today. Mentally, I fell back into the gym like not a day had passed, which was something I had worried about. I mean, a lot changes in your brain in two years. What if I didn't like it anymore? Turns out I still adore it, and realized again just how much I had missed it. My gym did get new treadmills, though, which have been a pain to figure out. First, they have fancy schmancy touch screens that you actually have to read just to turn the damn thing on and get moving. Second, they no longer have little fans on either side of the display, which doesn't sound like much but which feels good when one is dripping in sweat. Minor hindrances in my quest to reclaim my body.

Tonight I have not one single thing I must do. It's the first night like this since we finished school. I mean, I could do some laundry. But I probably won't. I could start cleaning out the storage room in the basement. Nah. I think I'll sit on the couch and finish reading a really good book while watching a bowl game on TV. Sweet. Oh, and I'll go to bed early since I stayed up too late last night and getting up this morning at 5:10 to be at the gym by 5:30 was harder than it needed to be.

I was talking to my friend Stef the other day, and we decided that we're going to have a really great year. Isn't making that decision half the battle? Isn't that part of the whole determining-your-own-fate concept? I'm ready. Two years of grad school and losing whole parts of myself really bring what's important into focus.

I had a meeting today where someone said that, when he was growing up, the discussion around the family dinner table included answering the question, "Who did I help today?" It was not cool with Dad if the answer was, "Nothing." What a great idea. He said there were some days where he and his siblings would be scrambling to find someone to help, just to avoid a stern glare at dinner, but that the notion of continually looking beyond yourself became ingrained, a core part of who each of them are today. What a phenomenal concept.

I have lots to work on in 2010. Tons. More than I can even reveal here right now (keep your pants on...ya'all will find out in good time). I refuse to call them New Year's resolutions because that's a ridiculous notion that is always doomed to fail. And they carry the idea that they should be started on January 1. All at once. Just like that. Setting and achieving goals don't work that way.

Besides, all that sounds like a lot of work, and I really just want to sit on the couch for a night.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

It turns out that Dick Clark isn't the only person who can have a rockin' New Year's Eve. The cousins all gathered around the television last night to play Rock Band, and let me tell ya, we are a bunch of pretty talented people.

Took me a few beers before I worked up the courage, but finally, I was ready. I launched into the Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Give It Away" with gusto, and ended with a whole new respect for lead singer Anthony Kiedis's breath control. 'Course, maybe it's easier when that's what you do for a living, and you're in shape, and not drunk. Just a thought.

Anyway, many many thanks to the whole mess o' cousins who made my New Year's so fun, and to the MIL and FIL for hosting yet another wonderful party.

Here's to a fantastic 2010!