“You only fall in love once, the rest is merely practice
to make sure your heart can take it.”
“A great proportion of the wretchedness which has embittered married life,
has originated in the negligence of trifles. Connubial happiness is a thing
of too fine a texture to be handled roughly. It is a sensitive plant, which will
not bear even the touch of unkindness; a delicate flower, which indifference
will chill and suspicion blast. It must be watered by the showers of tender
affection, expanded by the cheering glow of kindness, and guarded by the
impregnable barrier of unshaken confidence. Thus matured, it will bloom
with fragrance in every season of life, and sweeten even the loneliness of
~ Thomas Sprat
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
~ George Eliot
From: Joseph & Andrea Janda To: ALL Subject: autumn equinox celebration Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 15:13:43 -0400
Howdy all. Been a while since we’ve seen some of you.
So Andrea and I have contemplated the extensive nonsense that would go into a proper wedding, and we are both lukewarm about the time and expense and public show aspects of such an affair. We want to have a big party with friends and family to celebrate, and we’ve pegged that party to next year, between May and October. More precise details will emerge in the next few months.
In the meantime, we’re eloping to home. Next Sunday, which also happens to be the autumn equinox, we will be married by an approved Fairfax Country celebrant in the comfort of our own apartment, possibly in our pajamas. A courthouse wedding without the courthouse, by a woman who was kind enough to agree to come sign the requisite papers without insisting on any kind of ceremony, god-speech, or tepid couples counseling. At 6pm, we’ll have a little autumn soiree (apple pie, apple cider, pumpkin ale, cheeses, and of course more wine than is likely good for us) for friends and family who are within practical driving distance. E-vite to follow.
Well wishes welcome – no gifts.
Talk to you all soon,
Hello Lovelies . . .
Joe encapsulated it best above, he’s a man of many clever, warming words, which is why, you know – i’m marrying him and all.
Please don’t feel obligated to attend or sad if you can’t, you can even call if you’d like! Note – this is a marriage, not a wedding . . . that will come soon enough to include everyone. This little event is also NOT a VIP members only list of invites . . . our apartment is small – we really wanted it to be no fuss, but also wanted it to be symbolic and private. Upon further discussion, we realized, we don’t want to upset anyone and keep it to all ourselves, thus you’re getting this dual-email / letter so you’re not left out!
We are so happy and very much in love and really wanted to be each other’s on our own terms and before the year’s end. September 23rd, the autumn equinox, was the day we had originally planned to be married and so – we’re following through with that. the “real” wedding next year might fall on that day as well, just to recapitulate the event – both a first time for you, and an anniversary & affirmation for us.
Hope this note finds you well and happy . . .
This is the formal press release . . .
of course, we’re going to piss off the traditionalists and a precious few, but this upcoming first step was really for Joe and i. we wanted to be married on the first day of Fall, so we willed it to happen, with or without a “reception” party or anyone’s necessary approval.
kind of takes the pressure off, really.
to us, the marriage is not the orgasm of the relationship, it’s not a culmination of events and a downslide after. that part is in all practicality, just the legalities of the state – a marriage license. i already know i want to commit to Joe forever, now the Commonwealth of Virginia and Fairfax County knows it too. my friends and family have probably figured it out by now, but i urge them NOT to attach too much to how and when i am going to choose to celebrate it so as not to injure anyone’s feelings.
as for the rest – there’s too much treachery in the idea of marriage and what it means to have a wedding. i am not trying to reinvent the fucker, or insult anyone who by family pressure or by personal taste feels they need to hit all the buzzers, in fact, i think all that normal celebration and successive points of play are just lovely – i have attended many many many weddings and know what to do at them. most people do. despite the procedural expectations that is practically engrained in the culture of traditional American weddings (religious or civil), i have even had fun at them, but still – it’s not what i want.
i know precisely what a wedding does NOT mean to me: a horrible dj who insists on the chicken dance, the electric slide and the macarena, nor does it mean sliding a garter belt up my leg in public to “the stripper,” standing in queues for food, or a rushed event where i hardly get to eat wandering with a frozen glazed smile while intrusive flash bulbs go off in my face all day. i am not a photo op, i am a person who loves the people i know and i know they want to see me and my beloved and capture the day for themselves too, but that’s not my idea of relaxing and beautiful, that’s exhausting! and i apologize to anyone for whom that sounds harsh, but i prefer a more subdued and simple affair. and the MONEY shelled out and the arguments that erupt over these things! i won’t even begin on those topics . . .
all the Pavlovian things that people drool over and actually EXPECT at these events: clinking glasses for kisses, tossing bouquets, head tables, cutting the cake after dinner and smashing food into each other’s faces, big, glorious, highly-anticipated, clunky speeches that everyone dislikes writing and is nervous to hear. these items are NOT going to occur at the “community” version of our wedding later. so please don’t expect to be asked to perform and don’t expect to sit, beg and roll over.
we won’t be having a standup wedding party of bridesmaids, so no women in my life will feel slighted or looked over or have to buy a standard, necessary, one-style-fits-none hideous dress worn only once. we will acknowledge everyone integral to the event by their mere invite and presence. sure, mom and dads (who apply) and those who have most closely witnessed the relationship grow will get heavier nods but that’s where the supposed VIP list ends.
we are trying very hard to de-emphasize the “wedding/marriage” aspect of the day coming up in a week. as far as witnessing, no one will see us exchange vows. there aren’t any, really. the celebrant is coming solely to sign papers at 2pm, Joe and i will privately exchange rings and a simple writing project we have agreed to compose for each other, which we will not see from each other until the day. i will assume his last name, we will . . . you know – take a little nap for a few hours, then have people over to eat at 6pm or so.
when the public wedding occurs down the road, we will have a slightly larger celebration that everyone can attend that is well-announced. on this Sunday, we just want to nosh on some food and see some friends and not keep it selfishly for our own. it is more one of our usual roving dinner / wine parties, with a little extra impetus for the gathering.
you know us little heathens, a pagan wedding suits us. i mean, initially, we weren’t going to tell anyone. we were going to just marry in secret and trek out to the woods to see autumn begin and cook dinner and make love and fall asleep joined in one additional way we hadn’t been before. so this Sunday is our compromise.
i’m not a princess or a virgin and i bring no cattle, no land or a dowry, so white is out.
Yeah, it will be ok
Do nothing today
Give yourself a break
Let your imagination run away
~Sunday by Sia
::: ::: ::: :::
Cinnamon rolls are baking somewhere downstairs and the smell has roused me from sleep. the windows in my room are open, it’s 67 degrees, the birds are singing, Odin is sitting on my desk watching them flit by as i type this, and the sun pierces everything in my room, lighting up the coronas around the sunflowers in a vase nodding behind me. Anemone ‘De Caen’ are beginning to bloom as the purple crocus fade down and the yellow daffodils stand up. My Apeldoorn Elite Tulips are starting to shoot buds our from their curled, green rabbit ear leaves. i know all of this because i just wandered out in my cat pajamas, barefooted to see what is coming up out there in my garden. now i’m just waiting for that last frost to seriously be done and i’ll put the seeds in. sometimes it snows in April you know . . .
i move slow on Sundays, meditatively so. i am just now contemplating a shower after daylight savings time forced me to look like i woke up uber-late this morning at 11. there are so many silly little tasks to do . . . but first, i think i will go eat some breakfast and drink some tea and then come back to work on a few things. ALL of them involve my computer and various applications for managing money and photography, which is an interesting theme lately.
i am thrilled to announce, (if i haven’t already told some of you) that i placed in Smithsonian Magazine’s 3rd Annual photo contest with my forest is painted RED. 7,500 photographs were submitted from around the world and 10 Finalists in each of the five categories were chosen: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, Travel and you can now view those photographs HERE. i am prominently featured in the Altered Images Category.
The Grand Prize Winner and the five Category Winners will be revealed in the August 2006 issue of Smithsonian so if i win in my category, i will go to print in the magazine and win $500 plus some other non-cash prizes. i don’t think i’ll win it, but check out what The Grand Prize is . . . no matter what happens, it’s good press as well as a great opportunity for me to be seen and all under the guise of an institution i truly respect. The Smithsonian Institution is “America’s national educational facility with 18 museums, 9 research centers and 120 affiliates around the world.” It was a gift from James Smithson, a British scientist who willed his estate “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . .” i encourage you to read the history.
These last few weeks have been crazy busy with work and little bits of photography. i went to a seminar hosted by Blue Pixel and Nature’s Best Photography which featured Daniel J. Cox, a well-renowned nature photographer featured in National Geographic.
the issues involved in nature photography, from trip planning to capture to workflow, travel to distribution
tips for entering and winning nature photo contests
the importance of conservation and photojournalism
the differences between JPEG and Raw workflows and how to manage color and exposure in each one
how to make effective and accessible archives of your valuable digital negatives
His discussion began pretty pedantically really covering some of the more pedestrian aspects of photography (depth of field, focus, shutter speeds, light metering) that i assumed most would know there. But, his talk on natural conservation and his own photography, lifestyle and travel experiences were wonderful. Some of his knowledge of media types, storage, software, color management and technology were a little behind the curve, but he produces incredible work.
Saturday morning, i shot a very last minute wedding on The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheel riverboat “custom designed for social, corporate, and private entertainment” docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. i was only available for the ceremony and a few formal shots. having NEVER met the bride or groom or wedding party, it made for quite a challenge. i don’t typically do these thrown together things . . . i have a contract and a must-have photo checklist. i typically meet with the couple and the person paying for the photography to get a feel for what they want and what kind of people they are. i like to be prepared and comfortable in my surroundings. this was NOT the case for this event. in fact i found myself crawling over life preserver boxes and behind people, playing “crouching tiger hidden photographer” to get some decent shots.
it’s a real trick to NOT be obnoxious and all over the wedding party when the “stage” for the ceremony is as small as it was, and forget about room to take pictures of the processional and recessional people always forget they are being photographed and walk WAY TOO FAST! i haven’t had the time or the desire to go through the photos yet, but i am hoping i produced something of merit and charm, all things considered. All i know is the whole wedding party lined up on the back of the boat and waved to me on shore as i shot some final photos of them floating off into the harbor. But i wasn’t done . . . then i drove 45 minutes back to Annapolis and went to work at the restaurant and waited tables; a private party of 17 plus a few extra seatings and all in a second floor dining room. So up and down the damn stairs all nite with heavy trays of food and dishes. By the time Sunday arrived, you can now understand why i take them so slowly.
As for the rest of this Sunday . . . i took myself out to breakfast, did some shopping, bought a pair of gauchos and a skirt, took myself out for thai flavored dinner plus a beer. i got a fair amount of reading done at both meals with excerpts from Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. All the while amazed at how friendly and warm people are when the weather is pleasant, even the animals are in a good mood. i walked along past a group of men outside a local pub having some beers and hot wings and i turned to smile and wiggle my fingers, waving down at one of their dogs, a gorgeous white-faced Staffordshire Bull Terrier who in turn sat up, nudged me and licked my fingers gingerly as i walked past.
People seem to lose their damn minds when it’s sunny. on Main Street, a young man was sitting on the sill, legs dangling out his second story window singing to no one in particular and in fact, was making up songs for the passerby. later on West St., i was talking casually to my friend Paul when a truck drove past and a blonde-haired girl squawked into a CB radio as if campaigning, somehow broadcasting “HEY PAUL!” from the passenger seat. Paul responded by stopping mid-sentence, skipping out to the middle of the street, throwing his arms into the air with ROCK ON horns poised on each hand, yelling “WOOOO-HOOO!”
something about a sunny day, a Sunday and all its simple pleasures; sleeping in, familiar faces on walkabout, good food, good news, a good read, pretty things purchased, a nice stroll down streets lined with gardens newly in bloom, phonecalls and messages from dear friends, freshly washed bed linen to lay your head down later.
i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Saturday or Sunday. as midnight approaches, bringing to close a full day lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways.
I am flushed and warm.
I think I may be enormous,
I am so stupidly happy,
. . .
Squelching and squelching
through the beautiful red.
~ Sylvia Plath from Letter In November
It’s not a typo. i read it on a billboard that encouraged me to “Try ThanksLiving,” and it gave me pause, thinking on the implications of living graciously, happily . . . thankfully. In the last few months my reality has been superseding reality TV. This is not to say that i actually watch any of that garbage, but more that i have traded in cultivating my online life for actual life. This is also not an indictment on anyone spending inordinate hours here or copious time on the net blogging, posting photos, chatting, emailing, taking quizzes, general surfing and shopping – as i, of course, partake in all of the aforementioned activities.
But i offer here a pastiche of the sights, sounds, sighs, and movements in my life since September . . . those moments, amusements and muses i am thankful for:
i loved my Autumn . . . i breathed it in deep. That first bit trickled in the window, red and orange and gold and whispering . . . talking some liquid breathy jive about pumpkins big as carriages, soft-bake melt-mouth doughnuts, and oh yeah —- cider like Eve sucked into her mouth on that first bite that day in the garden . . . slightly sin. mostly cinnamon. the cool crush of the weather to come, burning wood, the crunch of leaves, apple cider, cinnamon, brown sugar, gourd vegetables carved out into crescent shapes, stew/goulash boiling, rolling over in a pot for hours in the kitchen, an afternoon nap in a chair, warmed by a slant of sunlight, and a fire in the hearth and in the heart. And there is the settling in: turning a tender eye towards the dying off of things. Pruning, scaling back, simplifying, bedding down for sleep, hibernation, preparation for renewal.
pastoral perfection: Plymouth Orchards, MI
in September, i made a pilgrimage to Michigan to drink apple cider and eat fresh baked donuts, and also to see Imogen Heap – a woman whose music i have listened to and couldn’t pass up the cool venue in my hometown. i had my camera with me and the doorman just assumed i needed a press pass so i spent the concert in the pit, mostly just to the right of the stage where all her gear was set up.
Imogen Heap @ St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, MI
all that time i have spent in my car driving, thinking, working, relaxing, entertaining, sleeping to her music it was so rewarding to see her perform and be at her feet with no obstructions, just awash in her sound. and even moreso – a real treat to be able to tell her so and take photos with her and chat coolly and comfortably like old friends. immi was friendly and warm and told me to come visit with her after the show. later, after most of the people met her and took pictures and she had some time to unwind, when i asked if i could impose for a few pictures myself, she sweetly obliged and invited me to sit not just AT the bar with her, but ON the bar. we hopped up and she flagged down one of the other guys on tour to hand her the Toasted Head Merlot, a wine that features a fire-breathing bear on the label which she drank straight out of the bottle! she asked if her lips or teeth were wine-stained and i assured her she looked fine and we snuggled up for some nice photos together. You can see a collection of my photos from the show HERE.
the drive out to Michigan was interesting . . . i got out of work that nite much later than i anticipated, got home, finished packing, dumped ice into my cooler, burned a long mp3 disc for the car, did my little walk through and checklist, then, at 2am, hit the road.
a little after 5am and just outside of Breezewood, Pennsylvania (nice of them to FORCE corral you through that place to get onto your exit) i stopped at a rest area. my dumb ass forgot the all important pillow and blanket but i crawled over my backseat, folded some clothes into the shape of a pillow, pulled a sweater jacket over my legs, curled into a kitty ball and called it good. for 3 hours. when i woke up it was misty and cool and a light fog was moving through. my mother asked me where i slept and if i was worried about being broken into and raped. i’m pretty sure i just looked like a pile of dirty clothes crumpled into the corner of my backseat, so i had no fear. Besides, my kung fu is superior to most and my ninja style is superb.
i made crazy time, just under 9 hours. This is discounting the 20 minutes it took to get fuel at one stop off the Ohio Turnpike. To clarify – i pulled off because my reserve light didn’t give me quite enough warning and i stalled out directly in front of the toll booth as i remarked to the attendant, “i sure hope they have diesel up the road from here.” Lucky for me, there was hardly anyone pulling off where i had, she and her supervisor pushed me to the side of the road and she indicated the way just down an exit ramp and embankment about 2 blocks up where i could find a diesel pump.
i carefully scaled the hill full of really nice wild flowers and across the gravel and rocks lining an underpass (in my stupid flip flops) and managed to laugh a little as i informed the little old man there behind the counter, “i ran out of fuel at the toll booth, i need to use a gas can if you have one please.”
he grabbed up this big red can and shuffled out to the diesel pump. “how much do you want?”
“oh – i imagine about as much as i can carry up that hill in that thing,” i motioned to the impossible place my car was. he told me that normally someone was hanging about and he would run me up, but not this morning.
he smiled, filled the tank with a gallon or so for me and squinted at the display for a bit. “how much is it?” i asked.
“i can’t see so good, i just had cataract surgery last week,” he laughed. i gave him $6 for what looked like $5.88 and $10 deposit for the tank, told him i’d be back to fill the tank and walked back to my car.
i filled up, primed it and had to crank it for awhile to start it. when you run these things ALL the way out of fuel, they tend to get some air in the line so you have to open the hood, unscrew this little metal circle with teeth that looks like an oversized bottle cap which releases a plunger type thing you must push a little to get the fuel primed, close it off and crank it hard with the pedal to the floor until it roars into life and keep it revved until it no longer stalls when you allow it to drop down into idle.
i drove back and as he placed the 22 cents in my hand he said, “you’re lucky you got it started, most people don’t.” i explained to him the above procedure that most people fail to do with an old Mercedes, thus pissing the car off and NOT getting it started. after that fun adventure, i got underway again. i’m so glad i was not on the side of the highway flagging down a ride.
By mid-month October, my roommates were craving baked pumpkin seeds, so they went and procured some pumpkins from a patch. i told them to bring me home a weird one. they succeeded. it was sort of squat but lovely, like an elliptical planet. and it was nearly RED, with green stripes through it. bravo!
Megan, Tracey, Me, Tiffany, Sally Ren Fest October ’05
i managed to get to the Renaissance Festival, TWICE, the first time i procured some great thistle honey. as always, lots of good food and beer was had, including some evil dessert: cheesecake on a stick, in chocolate. on the second trip it was Oktoberfest and so for the occasion and for breakfast, i ate a spicy sausage with sauerkraut and onions and mustard that came on what looked like a loaf of bread sliced down the middle. when i ordered it ‘loaded’, the clerk yelled “BURPER!” i also had a big scoop of rainbow sherbet, one of my favorite things. we saw Johnny Fox, the sword swallower again, and i saw something i’ve never seen at his performances. a boy child of maybe about 4 or 5 was standing at the side of the stage and as Johnny swallowed the first sword, the boy moved close, curious, with his hands out and Johnny moved toward him, motioning and pointing at the hilt, and he bent close to the boy as the audience gasped and the boy bravely pulled the sword out of his mouth to the wild applause of the crowd! it was one of the most innocent and tough things i’ve ever seen a child do.
Johnny Fox, sword swallower and audience of 1 . . .
Monday nites have been dubbed Wine Nite ay my house . . . me and a bunch of women get together. We also joke and call it the “menstrual hut.” Sometimes men are invited and we call them the “manginas” and encourage them to get in touch with their “inner vagina,” a phrase that is accompanied by a hand gesture (formed by making a prayer-stanced diamond out of pointed hands and planted against one’s barren abdomen.) Sometimes we dance in front of my desk computer (entertainment altar) while iTunes spins a sexy mix. We’ve also danced in my living room to salsa and slow Spanish ballads. As Halloween fell on a Monday this year and we called it HALLOWINE and had Sangria and Spanish wines and tapas of cheese, breads, olive tapenade, dips, tortillas and chocolates. Olivia noted that one Tuesday as she left early, my half-open mouth looked like i’d eaten through a blackberry patch all nite. good times and good girls sprawled on my floor like tinsel torn from trees in the morning.
In October, i spent some time being haunted and walking about town like a ghost, scaring people, scaring myself a bit, but all my reflections showed up in the mirror and i came back, fully fleshed . . .
i met a boy who lives on a boat just south of where i just moved from in June from out of the woods. a graduate research assistant in marine biology. oddly enough, he was from my hometown, in fact – half a block away from my mother’s house and we shared stomping ground though we never met. we spent one glorious and oddly magical evening that led to a morning, proceeded to conquer our muses and write to each other everyday, until – well . . . it’s only slightly complicated from here. he made me recall that kissing is like learning a new language, rolling it around, becoming accustomed to the feel of it in your mouth. sometimes the accent is bad, the pronunciation improper; it can be a disaster. but he and i took to it like naturals – we spoke a very similar if not the same mother tongue. and in many other interesting, puzzling, gorgeous ways. but his life was full – maybe even too full for me. it would be a morning of slow breakfast and desk work, followed by rock climbing in the afternoon, boat maintenance early evening, a film on the wall of his boat and dinner with friends then swing dancing, and finally, as a late nite thunderstorm got underway, the fumbling steps through his new interest in yoga and meditation until he crashed on some random person or friend’s couch.
i admired his passion but eventually, his contact dropped off; partly owing to student life, sailor life, and largely the love life with his ex. his car broke down, he cancelled a date and avoided most future ones then messaged my phone one early random morning where he was in town and i was invited to meet him for coffee. of course, i drink tea but opted for hot chocolate as some strange compromise. we took a walk and soon enough, it was time for both of us to get on with the rest of our days. apart. it was so curious how from our beginnings we held pinkies under the table at dinner on the first date, nearly got arrested in public shortly after making out atop the granite steps and marble columns of a city courthouse, then his hands in my hair, pulling it in several directions and smiling at me half-asleep in the morning and that day, we could only manage an awkward embrace in a circle on the street. he emailed me finally and explained himself and what i already knew. he went back to her. sure darling – no regrets, but there is one sting . . . if his heart was still spoken for, he should’ve reserved his words, his mouth and other parts as well. and thus, so should have i.
i met another boy somewhere in my haunted travels who talked fast and lived even faster. he was a bruised beatnik in black and red, exuding sexual energy from every pore, a quick study who spoke my language, ate my candy, drank my favorite libations, was seemingly versed in the same food, films, books, music. Cocksure braggart, infamous destructor, people collector, devil on a walkabout, too topped-up martini meniscus threatening to spill out over the edges, a dark crescent dangling like broken glass in a shattered window pane, destined to fall, certain to slice, with a predilection for death and discomfort and drug addiction and ready to tell you all the fuck about it . . . he tore at my jeans and broke the zipper – eventually, i had to replace them both . . . some things are far easier to sew up than others, only one of them came back clean and fixed. i still wear the pants around town, but not the boy.
Love is a many-splattered thing so it should be used in good measure, not just tossed around, slapped up, glossed over and painted with a fresh coat over a tired one. i am in no haste to make waste of good stuff and redecorating is a real bitch. i’ve had to do a whole lot of it since June, so i know. i’m not on the fast track to love, but i have realized now, it is possible to love almost anyone in the world if they simply invest, if they simply follow through and keep on doing it. and more than ever, i am far less tolerant of the missed phonecall, the cancelled date, the thoughtless comment, the scattered lifestyle, the broken promise, the hidden agenda, the other woman, the thankless acceptance, the brusque or reserved affections, the little and constant freak-outs and the need for definitions. i now approach love and sex like a Jedi fucking Master and with Yoda’s advice, “do or do not, there is no try.”
but this brings me back to the title of this beast i am laying down for you and me to read here . . . Thanksgiving. i flew out to Detroit at my mother’s insistence and on her dime. my sister Racheal flew in from Los Angeles, me in from Baltimore and both of us WAAAAY earlier than we liked. it was frigid and snowy as we arrived, but after some hot breakfast and some peaceful sleep, me, my two younger sisters, my mother and her husband Frank assembled at the dinner table in the late afternoon for dinner. no one dressed or combed their extreme bed heads sporting hair bent in several directions. we simply shuffled to our chairs, all of us in our pajamas, ate slowly, laughed, talked about sex and food and the wedding we were to attend the following day, went through three bottles of wine, took a nap, had seconds, ate dessert, listened to music and watched a movie, had thirds and went to sleep late, never having to fuss over driving anywhere or getting fancy. it was utterly relaxing.
Racheal enjoying a bit of the bubbly . . .
the next day we attended my cousin Crystal’s wedding. At first – there was concern over family spats and feuding that had been going on behind the scenes, including an escalation that might’ve precluded the bride’s mother, my aunt from attending her own daughter’s wedding. But all turned out well and we had the most popular table as we seemed to be having the most fun. at one point, the 3 sisters, me, Angel and Racheal, ran out in the snow and snapped some photos against the backdrop of twinkle-lit hedges. Even the blind date my sister and her friend Cody set me up with ended up being a lovely person who i am still in touch with . . .
Racheal – Angel – Andrea (me) All three sisters together for one picture . . .
Mike Cody on camera and my sister Racheal being filmed . . .
the rest of the trip was spent hanging out with these two boys, Cody (aka Mike Cody) and his friend since grade school and my blind date Kevin. Cody is a film maker and Kevin is/was as well though he now finds himself composing music and taking photographs more full time. One nite involved much beer, Racheal’s limbs being made up like a heroin addict while Cody did some shots for a film project he is calling Ever Happened, some tinkling on the piano and plucking on guitars in Kevin’s basement studio setup and some general horsing around ’til the wee hours. Nothing quite like getting a bunch of creatively talented people in one room with plenty of alcohol, just enough energy to watch the sun rise and with phasers set to “stun.” And then there was the 2am trip to White Castle Hamburgers but i will omit THAT story. some of the evidence is on cell phone cameras . . .
the head is a crown
a trap with teeth when open,
abound when clamped,
asleep and all these tendrils
of light and ferns
bring inner life
as the outer one burns . . .
Sometimes, it’s impossible to escape your own mind. constant flow of worries and random tasks and preoccupation, consternation, mental masturbation trying to make yourself feel good by arranging, stretching, reordering and so, if you’re like me, you must take it and remove it from the psychic plane, untie the lines, and move it to the physical plane . . . DO something to make it quiet in there with meditative motions. binding. release.
i’ve been spending a lot of nice time with Megan – afternoon lunches, wine drinking, music listening, all of this in preparation for her wedding. we’ve been attending hot hot hot Hot Yoga classes at a nice studio. This is where they heat the room from 90-103 degrees, you wear next to nothing and bend yourself, working slowly into poses in which sweat drips into your eyes from the bridge of your nose, off your fingertips as it rolls down your arms, and you appear to be boffing the invisible. it’s pretty sexy . . . with poses and binding that undo the bindings. release.
One evening, Megan, her friend Violet and i spent a few hours tying chopsticks together with red ribbons: a dragon on one, a phoenix on the other, and the bride and groom’s names on both. These chopsticks were intended as wedding favors for a Chinese Banquet (which i will get to later . . . ) we did this until our fingertips were red-pink like they get when you eat an entire bag of red-dyed pistachio nuts during a Sunday nite movie marathon. (not that i’ve ever done this) This ribbon-affixing job took two bottles of wine to complete . . . i often gauge the difficulty of a job by the number of wine bottles it takes to complete. binding. release.
In between, i brewed a pot of blood orange tea while the three of us sat, steeped, traded stories, broke out the tortilla chips and salsa and somewhere in there, marinated a salmon filet, steamed some spinach and yellow rice all the while, still tying the red ribbons around chopsticks. binding. release.
Megan’s then fiancé, now husband and i went for a late nite walk down to the water after the chopsticks were all tied. It began to rain and he, a gentleman offering his coat asked, “Would you like a hood?”
And me, Red Riding Hood in training quipped, “No thank you, i have hair.” That nite, the three of us sat on a bench by the water and made up one of the most ridiculous parodies sung to the tune of “They can’t take that away from me.” It was a strangely sinister diddy about living in an abusive relationship. And i think now, it was funny, because we laugh at the things we are most afraid of. We cracked ourselves up, though – and really, Michael and Megan are a wonderful couple.
Which leads me to the photos and Megan’s wedding day. It began innocently enough, except for some odd reason, i couldn’t get my car to start, which sent me into a minor panic. We keep a drum of biodiesel on our property which we fill at a station further out as all of our cars are diesel engines and it’s convenient to have and cleaner burning. The morning before the wedding i was running late to work and filled up a container and dumped it into my tank. All i could think was something was wrong with the biodiesel, water in it, too cold of an engine to get it gong. My car was running REALLY sludgy. i called Brooks’ brother at work.
“Hey Jesse, my car is having a hard time starting, cranking really hard and all that. Is something wrong that it won’t tolerate the fuel mix?”
“Oh – did you use the white drum in the garage corner, because that’s cooking oil.”
Jesse then explained he was doing a conversion to an old Mercedes so that installing something to preheat the oil would allow the car to run on it as a regular fuel. i didn’t quite have that luxury and so, just so you know and for fun future reference . . . Mercedes CAN run on fucking WESSON oil.
In any event i had allowed myself plenty of time, got on the road, refilled and evened out the mix and arrived before the bride returned from her hair and nail appointments, so all was good.
The wedding was lovely – FAST, but lovely. The bridal party wore red (my favorite) and all the trees glowed with that same burning . . . The ONLY hitch/drawback was that ever present threat and problem . . . MORE photographers than agreed on. The groom’s mother had asked two friends to shoot some photos for the family and so, there i was jockeying for position and competing with flash banks. It was a bit of a nitemare, but i still think i produced some decent shots. Particularly when we went on a walk and i had more control. And hey – if i didn’t get it all, i’m certain the rest of the family can provide some additional photos.
The wedding was on a Thursday and that Sunday, the Chinese side of Megan’s new family, the inlaws hosted a Chinese Banquet which Brooks and i attended. This was 10 courses of lazy-susaned passed food, some of it very palatable, some of it exotic and texturally offensive, but all of it VERY authentic. It was a nice event.
Megan and i had gone shopping the week before and i had fallen in love with a corset that i bought at her insistence. i finally found one that fit perfectly and when i came out of the dressing room, Megan declared, “i’m not letting you leave without that.” Of course, i realize now that i went shopping with her so she could make me buy things, or so we joked . . .
i’ve been preparing and eating a lot of stir fry lately, chopping fresh vegetables, sometimes adding chicken, but mostly brown and spicy with jasmine rice. call it a kick . . . and also oops i did it again, i cut my hair.
it has some highlights and lowlights ranging in violet, cinnamon, copper, honey and some deep cherry reds. it’s a LOT of fun and feels terrific!
so the purpose of my opening little poem that occurred to me after seeing a pencil sketch (i hope i can find it again so i can share with you the visual inspiration . . .) my thoughts about undoing the bindings and releasing is my latest mantra – the only thing i can do to stay tethered to this world. this and feel connected to my friends and invest time in the people i love. those things and also, make use of the 3-month membership unlimited to the yoga studio that my mother bought me for my upcoming birthday . . .
i will be 33 June 19th, a very nice number. Getting involved in all of these wedding proceedings and pregnancies and births has been nice, to see and feel so much love and investment between people. in some ways too, though i doubt i will ever be married (both for the headache of the preparations and the grim possibility of the need for a clean break should anything go awry) i hate to think like that, but it’s the pragmatist in me that begs to keep my head on straight. i LIKE the idea of marriage, just as i LIKE children, but i don’t think either of those things will be a part of my life.
And i leave this last part to the women who read this . . . do you feel strange or awkward or pressured or sad, or more succinctly like a failure if you don’t find yourself engaged, married and or in the midst of planning a family?
And if you’re someone like me who understands that neither marriage nor children are guarantees that will bind you forever and lovingly to a mate, then – what is the alternative? What types of occupations or commitments or arrangements in your relationship makes you feel like you are safe in this world; that you will be with someone who loves you and reciprocates your loves, needs and desires? What makes you feel like you are doing fine and have no need to keep up with the staus quo?
how do you escape the trappings in your head and make your outer (public) life match the inner (private) life so that your parents will hush and your friends won’t ascribe you to the land of failed or incomplete womanhood?
me – i cut my hair, i go for catharsis, i steep til it’s hot, i change my image, my vision, i mutate my indecision, i sweat out the ills and forego the pills and stretch myself into new positions, walk in the rain, try different fuel sources, tie things with ribbons, put on the corset, cling tight to my friends and love . . .
My internet was down since Saturday, which made things REALLY irritating, especially since i have 2 online courses to keep up with. Where i’m at out here in the sticks means that there is NO cable internet, and even DSL won’t happen as i don’t have a clear shot of the sky what with all these trees. So for now, until they figure out how to bring hi-speed into the house via the phone or power lines or someone from Comcast comes out to develop the area, i am stuck with dual-channel (64K per) old school ISDN, which peaks at 128K and usually hangs out at around 97-98K.
For those of you who don’t know what the hell ISDN is (because it’s THAT fucking OLD) it was developed around 1984 and it stands for Integrated Services Digital Network or as i like to call it (ISDN) “It Still Does Nothing”. Lest i mention we pay just over $200 a month for it since it’s SO old school and it’s considered a metered line and a premium digital service as offered by the phone company, even though it was designed to go over fiber lines and it just comes through the copper ones, slowing it down considerably.
In any event, the reason ours was down is that the phone line had been severed somehow. It hadn’t been properly buried and was all chopped up, thus nothing could dial in. VERIZON (the cocksuckers) came out and ran a temporary line (which works) until they can run a proper one sometime soon. In the next month, maybe longer. Whatever.
Well – i DID get my hair cut and boy is it awesome! Think Agent Dana Scully (actress Gillian Anderson). i brought my hairdresser a bottle of my favorite nail polish and said, “can you do this color?” he smiled and said, “i got that.” The girl in the chair next to me gasped as he cut the first 6 inches off dry – WHACK! Even before i hit the shampoo bowl. Then i came back, he finished the cut by snipping at the last 4 inches and did the color. We went short and choppy with black lowlights, copper/caramel highlights, and candy apple red all over. It’s an exciting Spring change . . . short and vibrant.
new elf do.
The weather has been incredible for two days now – 78-80 degress and sunny. Hell – i even shaved my legs and put on a skirt! i also realize that my car’s AC needs recharging. Luckily, the rain and cool temps are heading in for the weekend so i get a little reprieve. i am officially driving my happy new car now and we are making friends … i even put a sexy raspberry air freshener in it. It has a little devil cat on it with flames and some Nag Champa incense to make it smell like “me” and my house.
So far, i have run out of fuel AND been pulled over in my new car! And all in the same day! GO ME! My car stalled in a traffic circle, i pulled into the gas station 20 feet from me and died RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PUMP! Later i went to see some jazz, had some wine and a nite cap of some Southern Comfort, went tearing down the road at 3am singing Sadé at the top of my lungs NOT looking at the speedometer and got stopped doing 70 in a 50. i told the cop i was “opening it up” and wasn’t used to the better transmission in this Mercedes vs my old one. Holy crap – i sounded like a little twat! “How’s your record?” he asked. “Great,” i replied. “It’s a long winding stretch of road here, people don’t pay attention. You’re not the fastest i’ve seen,” he smiled. And lucky ducky me – i got off with a warning.
How am i going to get this all done?!?!? Social and school obligations are kicking my ass! My friends Dave and Amy are getting married this Saturday afternoon, then i work that evening, on Sunday i am attending an aerial dance performance that Megan (the woman who’s wedding i am photographing in June) is showcased in, and i have homework up to my tits, chin, eyeballs? i dunno, i’m feeling kinda vulgar lately.
well … the wedding was lovely, the church was a lighting nitemare and the reception, a dim catastrophe but i was armed with a great flash and truly pleasant people who enjoyed themselves. the candid shots before and after the ceremony and during the reception turned out wonderful. i have about 800 shots i have to sift through to see just what is what. ceremonies are so rapid fire it is difficult to know where to be and what to look for, especially in the processional and recessional and when all the great moments will happen on cue. this church did not allow flash photography during the ceremony for ANYONE, including the professional photographer and no tripods either.
this meant not a lot of wonderful or focused shots in this near concert dark, buttercream mixed jaundice fluorescent and incandescent lighting altar stage. also – i was only allowed to stand between the edge of the pews and a tall column that repeated on either side of the church, and i could not cross the aisle. i had to go around to the back of the church (this wastes time and screws up shots you will miss.) i will learn to use a higher ISO without fear in the next church situation . . . it just all goes too fast and some of the grain will have to be there in place of blurred movement. and if i have to shoot there again – i will have an assistant. and since the rest of the audience used their cameras and flash i will not hesitate to do the same next time. fuck the obviously ignored rules.
maybe they got some good ceremony shots.
but there was a reason my judgment and reflexes were a bit off . . .
i must note, that despite all this love and celebration, i was sick beyond belief. the nite before it was either samonella from (something i rarely and now, will NEVER eat) the evil Wendy’s cheeseburger i gobbled at 1am, or someone who was ill and handling my food. i caught a 24-hour something or another than (pardon the visuals) opened the sluiceways at both ends. i was reduced to a near-incontinent 90 year-old woman, in the bathroom every 20 minutes or so WHILE i was trying to shoot this wedding. i had to do a wardrobe change just before i left the house. i can laugh about it now, but allow me to share a less than graceful moment – i ruined a pair of pants . . . that’s how bad off i was. i was what they call violently ill, but as they say in the military, it was time to “pull up my boot straps” and head in. i had a job to do and i was already paid. turns out this little bug has been making its way around. people at work. the salon i had visited where the bride had her hair done. co-workers and their children, all with the precise symptoms as mine . . . i was so disappointed to have been sick on such an important day but i informed the bride not to concern herself with me, that i would get through it. i lasted until the end, 9:30, and left as everyone else headed to the after-party.
i spent Sunday morning weeping, cramping, in pain, head-achy and dehydrated, eating popsicles, drinking Gatorade and laying in bed. Brooks thought i needed to go to the hospital, but Tylenol PM and the fluids set me right by Monday.
i should like now to give a HUGE thanks and shout out to my girl Marcy – right before they were about to present the bride and groom as a married couple to the onlookers, the batteries on my flash went dead.
i called her and she was right around the corner, 3 minutes away with 4 fresh AAs! it was the only thing i neglected to pack into my photo bag. i will NEVER forget again. On the same tip, i congratulate Marcy on her new Canon EOS 20D as well! now we have twin cameras to truck around town with. She also purchased a fish-eye lens, and a macro ( which she SO generously lent to me) Of course since i shot at nite, my ISO was left to higher speeds when i was out this AM. i could just kick my own ass sometimes . . . my new mantra “i will get used to this camera, i will be at one with my Canon.”
We started this out with some sunset over the Eastport bridge photos last nite, the same time i also took this shot of the kitty in the candlelit window. It was almost 70 degress yesterday, all the snow melted. And i think it was just so it could rain, then get bitter and windy as hell in order to snow this afternoon.
In other, better news about weddings and warmer weather – i am hired to do another one this June. also for a co-worker and new found friend, Megan. This is turning into a regular gig!
i need more practice and more time to shoot portraits.
and then there’s all my lovely bugs and butterflies waiting for the flowers. oh – and my cocoons . . .