Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10 Picturesque Things

10 things about my photography class since writing about it essay style is clearly not working for me.

1. I think I owe everyone who has gotten a photo shoot from me a new session free of charge because I know a lot more now. Some of it I learned from doing your shoot and a lot of it I learned from this class. Feel free to contact me to get that debt repaid.

2. I took the class at The International Center for Photography (ICP) which, as the name suggests, is kind of hoity toity. At first I was scared that it would be too difficult for me and I would be the least knowledgeable person there. Then the confirmation letter stated more than once, "No point and shoot cameras allowed!" and I wondered if the class would be too easy, covering things like the on button and the auto focus feature. It was just right. I learned a lot of technical stuff that I would never have guessed I needed to know and some things that I knew a little about and some things that I'd known a long time ago but that had become jumbled in my mind over time. I had to work to keep up but I didn't feel in over my head.

3. The teacher was Maynard Switzer, a travel, portrait and fashion photographer who apprenticed with Richard Avedon. He switched fully over to digital photography about 6 years ago and as he learned the differences between it and film photography he realized that a lot of photographers, even professionals, hadn't tumbled to the adjustments that needed to be made. He decided to give this introductory course to ensure that people were getting a good foundation. I would take any course he taught from macrame to composition and everything in between, he's that good. Unfortunately for me he makes a fine living actually taking photographs and this is the only teaching he does regularly.

4. Not the first thing he said but one of the biggest and simplest was to explain why he recommends shooting in RAW. The files are much larger, you can't attach them to things or e-mail them to people but, if you're doing any post-processing to your images, then RAW gives you more options. RAW provides you with more data to manipulate. If you shoot in JPEG you're letting the camera make a lot of choices for you and, though we learned to make the most of the settings in the camera, it is a much less powerful and detailed computer so you're losing a lot of versatility. Hence my switch to RAW and my need for a new hard drive and a new memory card. Not to mention the fact that I'm probably going to break down and get Photoshop Elements or something so I'm not using the free photo software from Apple. I think that'll open up even more options for me.

5. At one point he looked around the room, stood up and set down his notes. He then proceeded to explain how nervous we were making him and showed us very specifically how to wrap our camera strap around the lens every time we set it down to reduce the likelihood of someone snagging the strap and dragging our expensive equipment to its death. It's the little things, right? That's kind of a no-brainer and yet, despite the numerous close calls I've had, I never thought of it.

6. I learned a really simple thing about focusing that I'd taught myself previously but never felt confident about. Let's say that you're using autofocus and you are looking at a little kid in a field of daisies. You want the little kid to be in focus, you don't so much care how focused the daisies are but you want the kid to be in the lower right hand corner of the photo. Using autofocus you just put the kid in the center of the lens, half press the shutter to focus, move the lens to frame the shot as you prefer without lifting your finger from the button then finish depressing the shutter to take the picture. Voila. For example I used it here and you'll see it a lot in the mermaid photos once we hit the beach.

7. I understand aperture or Fstop or the amount of light one's lens is letting in on a given shot now. That's always been a little baffling to me for some reason but I keep having it explained to me by different people in different ways and this time I think I've got it. I don't know all the details but I know enough that I can shoot in Aperture Priority (I choose the Fstop, the camera chooses the shutter speed) with abandon.

8. I can also shoot in Shutter priority (I choose the shutter speed, the camera matches that to an Fstop) and, in a pinch, I think I could shoot full manual, I'd just have to work out which buttons will correspond to which command when I go full manual. Like shooting in RAW this means that I'm making more choices rather than letting the camera make them and that's better. At least for me it is.

9. When I walked out of that class I was afraid to pick up my camera. I had like 16 pages of notes and so many things that I was supposed to try so I could decide for myself what worked and like 10 things I was always supposed to do and know and check before I made a move. It was overwhelming. I forced myself to take a few photos at lunch and then basically put down the camera for about 3 days. I finally made myself take it on a dog walk to the park and made myself use some of the knowledge, just what I could remember, no note reading as I walked. So now I've gotten a few things solidly under my belt. I read over my notes on the bus up to New England earlier in the month but haven't used them again, even to write this post. So it's about time to dig a little deeper. Perhaps on the plane ride to the West Coast next week.

10. The expense of this "hobby" or "outlet" hit me full force. In order to process and store photos it's not practical to be running obsolete or hand me down computer equipment and that's what I have. Though I can do a lot with the lens I have, I could do much more with two, or even one more and lenses can be very expensive. A flash, something that would facilitate indoor and portrait photos, is also not cheap. Plus I'd also probably need to take a flash class. This class helped me to figure out that I don't learn well from non-narrative non-fiction. Instruction booklets are good to refresh my memory but for learning new concepts I need to have a lecture demonstration. There's the software I mentioned above and the camera bag I bought on Friday, too. I can go along quite well with the equipment I have and the skills I have but in order to make it to a new level (not something that needs to happen immediately, I just got to this level) I'll require an infusion of cash. I don't see that happening right now, but I'm going to try. I hear this "manifesting" thing is all the rage.

*You may get another 10 things post about this subject or perhaps an essay even. This doesn't cover everything I learned in my class but it's a good start.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Do Yourself A Favor, You Deserve It

Buy this CD.

I haven't heard a note of it. I haven't even heard stories about the recording of one note of it. I still feel entirely secure in recommending the new solo disc from my good friend, the excellent Carolann Solebello, because she's a woman who does nothing partially assed. It's whole assed or nothing and she has the talent and the dedication to back up all of her dreams. Of late she's been devoting her musical efforts to being one third of Red Molly. As they've built a larger audience they've been able to rest, write and follow their inspiration to other projects, the better to feed the trio in the long run. Carolann's inspiration led to a new solo CD (and a chorus of "Finally!" was heard from her fans) that I can all but guarantee you will love. Don't take my word for it, let's get some quotes.

Well, sure, I like her pretty well. I married her, didn't I?

Carolann sings like an angel!
- Carmencita's sister

Mommy, shhhhh!
- Music Kid

Now, I suppose you could wait until Christmas to buy yourself a present but how much better to buy it for yourself now then come Christmas you can get it for everybody else!

Congratulations my friend! I can't wait to hear every single note.

(Looks like I'll have an opportunity to barter for my copy this week or next.)

(I might have taken a little poetic license with a couple of these quotes. Just a little. One of them is precisely accurate, though, I promise.)

(I didn't ask if I could use the photo since I was using it to promote the CD. It's a risk, I know, and I will take it down if anybody asks. In the meantime another reason to buy the CD is so you can read the jacket and tell me who gets photo credit!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Glee Club!

The computers are backed up, the pictures are uploaded and I've begun the processing. I put up a bunch today and I'll do the rest as time wears on. It's going to take a while, though. I took over 300 that day. So go check out the Flickr set and check back as I add more.

This one is a favorite. I love to see my friend happy and I fell in love with this pirate. He had a flask in his boot and I only wish we could have sat on the curb, and had a slug or two and kept laughing with him and his friends. If perchance he'd whisked me away to his pirate ship to, er, walk his plank, if you will, I also would not have objected even a little.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Like a Group of Lions

It's Gay Pride 2009 here in NYC today. The Village will be a seething mass of happy humanity all day and night. There will, of course, be quieter moments, times to mark memories. Specifically, this year is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. I knew it was a big event in the LGBT community but didn't know exactly what happened so today, in honor of Pride and to share with you, fair internet, I looked it up. There was a time when establishments serving LGBT patrons were targeted for shake downs. The police would routinely raid gay bars, appropriating money and arresting patrons. On June 27, 1969 in the midst of a raid on the Stonewall Inn a riot was sparked. No one knows what it was, could have been a lesbian resisting arrest or a drag queen inciting the crowd with a fierce pose but the LGBT community fought back for the first time, much to the surprise of the raiders.

So today we celebrate standing up for who we are and what we believe in. We celebrate those we love and what they deserve. We stand proud and thank those before us who struck a defiant pose.

Happy Pride, y'all!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Anatomy Of Farewell

When Ed McMahon's death was announced yesterday I was sad but not crushed. I wasn't a big Tonight Show fan, though I fully appreciate the genius of both Johnny Carson and McMahon.

Today Farrah Fawcett's death was announced and, despite not having followed her since Charlie's Angels days, I was deeply sad. Especially because she and Ryan O'Neal had announced their plans to remarry but not been able yet to follow through. Ridiculous, huh? Especially coming from a woman who is so conflicted about the relative usefulness of marriage.

Then this evening, by chance, a neighbor told me that Michael Jackson had died. I verified with the internet and thought I should feel more than surprised. He was a much more integral part of my formative years than either McMahon or Fawcett. But I didn't. In a restaurant, waiting in line for the rest room, I saw the television screens filled with mourners outside the hospital, experts being interviewed about his career and music and I felt bad for his family and for his loss but worse for Farrah. She'd been so ill and it was just the culmination of some extremely hard years for her and in a heartbeat even her loss was overshadowed.

On Facebook the chit chat in my age bracket is nearly all of celebrity death. Gar's update was, I thought, the kindest and most satisfying, "g'bye jocko. now you are free." It was Flea, though, who on her blog gave the most fitting tribute of the day. It's short and evocative and to the point and, to my mind, does Farrah the honor she deserves.

Godspeed you unlikely trio, may flights of angels...

Triumph! (Mostly)

Despite a truly horrific spate of technical difficulties as I tried to leave the office and some other bad mojo (so sorry, dog, I didn't realize I could tip you over) I did fire up the 1TB Delight last night. I was able to transfer all the photos to her but haven't been able to back up the entire computer, which I'd really like to do before I delete all the pics and add new. (Does anyone know where I can find the download link to the Mac backup program whose icon is a little orange umbrella? I can't find it anymore and I need it. Is this yet another reason to hate MobileMe?) So I'm going to work on that tonight...after I go out to dinner.

I did take the time to pull one photo out so I could share. This is a marker for a defunct institution in my home town that is close to my heart. I haven't noticed the marker for ages but while I was home I practically stumbled across it while walking from breakfast with Chili to lunch with my mom and Aunt Rena. Please note the non-centeredness of the subject, the intensity of color and the purposeful use of depth of field. I have my photography class to thank for that. And I still promise to write about the class, just haven't had brain space. It'll probably come out in drips and drabs as I post more photos. Whew! This technical stuff is whupping my behind. Thanks for all our encouragement and assistance.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Those Crazy Kids!

I finally watched American Graffiti last night. I spent a little time talking about it over at PPP. Please take a gander and maybe even comment over there if you don't mind. Hopefully my fellow contributors will see some comments and feel inspired to write about their recent viewings because I feel like I've been hogging the blog lately. Nobody likes a Blog Hog.

Elle et Arrivee

1TB of storagey goodness.

May the powers that be prevent me from frying her connections the way I fried the last one.

Mermaid pictures to follow (after a certain amount of anxiety and rending of garments given that I have to hook it all up and figure out how to move all the date into it).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten of One One Tenth of The Other


2. That pic was taken by the lovely Michelle as Teddy's Girl & I waited for a bus that never came. Even if it had I probably wouldn't have fit on. Michelle's dog, Ben, did not attend the parade with us. He had some important napping to do.

3. By virtue of the alphabet (oh ye virtuous alphabet) Alex is the first person on my phone's contact list. When I opened my contacts to call someone today his name was highlighted in red. I wondered what it meant. Was it some super secret thing from Verizon? Is he even a Verizon customer? Did his number change? Is Big Brother watching me? Then I remembered that a certain 18-month-old friend spent a long time with my phone last night. I asked him to figure out how to make it vibe then ring but apparently he had other plans. I have no idea how to change it back. Even when Alex is miles away kids still gravitate toward him.

4. On an errand to a steak house (mark the date, I suspect you'll never hear those words from me again) I, for the first time, wandered through the block of Times Square that has been taken over by pedestrians. Mayor Mike bought some lawn chairs (incidentally totally different chairs than the ones in the NYT link photo) and blocked off the street. Only half the area has lawn chairs and for some reason the powers that be set them up in rows all facing into the bustle of the "square." Weirdly almost every person has plumped themselves down in one of these chairs exactly as it was set. They sit in orderly rows not looking at their companions as if they were attending Times Square: The Movie instead of experiencing the real thing. It's weird.

5. Today I bought a 1T external hard drive from Newegg. I hope it gets here soon. Many thanks to everyone who chimed in on the issue.

6. I'm making a bunch of desserts and having people over to eat them on Sat night. Want to join?

7. A request was made to use a scene from one of my plays in a scene night for an acting class up near my home town. How nice is that? They'll even be including my bio in the program. Yay for substantive scenes for two women!

8. My iPod has started doing this thing. I put it on Shuffle All. If I don't like what's playing I skip to the next song until I get to something I want to hear then I let it play through for a bit, sometimes getting some fun new-to-me music (I download a lot of music from friends sound unheard so there's a lot on there I don't know well). Often I skip through a lot of stuff before I land. Recently the almighty pod has started playing a whole bunch of selections by whatever artist I land on after a skipping stint. While I'm skipping it's usually a different artist every time I hit the button but after I stop it stays the course. It never used to do something that specific. Did it?

9. There was one part of this entry of Dooce's that made me jump up and down screaming YES YES YES! I'm probably kind of the only one.

10. Apparently there's been an HIV outbreak in the porn industry. Nice to know that even the porn powers that be are corrupt assholes here in the US. I've got nothing against porn, I actually like a lot of it, but fucking (literally) with people's health is bull. I hate that. (Yes, I know, health can be screwed up by a lot more than HIV when you're a sex worker. And yet some people manage to survive and thrive. With HIV, the survival rate drops significantly and companies are, essentially, labeling the humans that work for them expendable by running a system that eschews prevention.) I've almost always had my porn purchased for me, well, all the video has been certainly, so it's not like I can withold my vast cash expenditures from the industry. How about if I just suggest we all switch to Comstock's films instead? (Do I need to tell you that the last two links aren't safe for work? Well, there I did anyway. I hope you didn't need that, though.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ashes, Ashes We All Fall Down

So, this happened a couple of blocks from my house yesterday. Buildings fall down in the city relatively frequently. Sometimes the results are tragic and other times, like this one, people make the right call at the right time and everyone gets out OK. Two buildings worth of families have been made homeless, though, as the building next door has been damaged enough by the fall that it will also have to be razed.

In an instance of serendipity Mighty Girl linked to 100 Abandoned Houses today. Those houses are all in Detroit and its environs. The Sweet Juniper crowd has held my interest in Detroit, feeding off the short time I spent there when I worked in MI, for a long while now. I've said over and over how I watch Detroit as a trailer of what's to come in my city. I know, though, that it's not just Detroit. Buffalo, for instance, has similar photo sets dedicated to it. I pore over the captures and let my mixed feelings bubble around. On the one hand it's petrifying because these houses are proof that once there was prosperity and community and abundance and now Ridley Scott could film a feature there. On the other hand I see the potential in each structure. The middle of the road houses don't interest me as much. I like the tall, brick, arched ones and the cozy clapboard ones and wish for floor plans so I could plot where my studio would be and if I need a fence for the dog to roam. I am a sucker for potential, especially in real estate, it's probably my upbringing.

Go on an click that link, blur your eyes a bit, look into the past and see if you can see a future.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Full To The Blessed Brim

This image is from post-parade yesterday. It's a recreation of this image from a few years ago.

The bad news is that it's the only image from the day that I'll be able to contribute for a while. I have filled up all the hard disks in my house. Chock full, no way to delete enough to limp along for a few more months even. I couldn't even do any processing so this is straight out of the camera.

I'll be buying an external hard drive or two just as soon as possible. I'm thinking newegg probably, I've heard they have good deals. I just don't know how much space I should get. My photography class (I promise, more on that later) taught me that I really need to be shooting in RAW or I'm letting the camera make all my decisions for me and I'm smarter than the camera (I hope). RAW takes a lot, lot more space hence the immediate filling up. Sigh. I am anxious about this development...oh lord, you don't want to hear why any more than I want to say it again. It's about money and money scares the crap out of me almost as much as not having enough money, bleargh.

Here's a photo of my girl. She got a Nintendo DS from her mom for birthday today and I'm told that her flesh has already fused around the device. And here I thought 8 was the socks and underwear birthday. My how times have changed. I love her even if I can't believe she's 8. I vow to conquer my fear of money so I can share how much fun we had together.

Happy Birthday my dear! And many, many more!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Best. Birthday. EVER!

Alita's refrain today was, "This is my best birthday EVER!"

Given that a decent portion of the day was spent standing wet and cold on a street in Coney Island it was music to my ears. She insists that the leg up for this particular birthday was that she met a real, live version of Ariel, one that might have been in the Broadway show (or at least the first bus & truck, we didn't ask). It might also have the tiniest bit to do with the fact that after the parade she was allowed to go swimming in the (freezing cold!) ocean but I don't want to contradict the birthday girl.

A day like this, one where you go to do something fun but there is adversity (see: pouring down like we were in a freaking dunk tank, a dunk tank in a gentle wind tunnel), could easily have turned sour. We observed tears and shivering and fits from many a young participant. With a lesser kid we might have had very little fun. With a lesser mom we might not have had the chance to try. We had bands on either side of us and we were not accompanied by a lesser kid and we chose to have fun. We were in fact accompanied by one of the best kids to walk the planet. I marvel at her every day and even exhausted and creaky as I am this evening I am enormously grateful to know a kid who chooses this way to celebrate her birthday, who chooses me as one of the people to spend it with and who navigates this world with such grace and joy.

I can't believe she's 8. I can't wait to see what it brings.

Islands In My Stream

Could sleep a few more minutes but what about the schedule do I have time oh no must get up walk dog get backapack back home bake cakes clean kitchen bake more sew sew sew shower hair out shop for present movie John Travolta's cool mustache funny exciting friends buy present long line walk walk walk home on subway weird guy "All women are government agents. When you give any woman information make sure that it is false." home sew sew walk dog sew sew sew eat costume stand turn turn turn spray SPRAY?!?! IN THE HOUSE?!?!! turn flower pull hook caught I'M CAUGHT! hook fix turn spray sew lights it lights up can you reach the battery pack no there up there no there ok cool heh heh ice cream break ooo and cake more flowers MORE FLOWERS spr...er...there's a cat out here on the roof....your cat! here kitty come here oh crap I can't go out there my costume won't fit find the food ok ok here he is where's she ok got it can see both of them close the window please more flowers walk dog sleep could sleep a few more minutes no get up get up must hurry shower eat blog gah!!!!!!

So, I'm off to the Mermaid Parade today, y'all. It's gonna be a circus, especially if the thunderstorms start before we're done. Cross your fingers for me, please. And have a great day!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dude, Just.....DUDE!

It's freaking pouring down rain today. I just dried out and it was time to get out for lunch and errands (remind me to tell you how not having groceries delivered actually costs me money). Hit the dollar store for costume-related items (if you need more starch in your shorts just give me a call!) and, as usual, the Impulse Purchase Fairy whacked me with her wand. You can get a 2 pack of poptarts for only 59 cents and I succumbed (my raw food advocate friend who just dissed ketchup on my Facebook status would probably suggest this is like popping myself repeatedly in the temple with a 9 iron). The thing is, for 59 cents your poptarts have to be themed. I always get the NASCAR ones. NASCAR trivia on my comfort food. I have a sudden urge for spray cheese and Budweiser.

But not until I've finished my poptart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dear MAB, I Remember

A whole long time in the past I went to college with MAB. One of our teachers used to teach us a sort of history of dance in America from the Cakewalk to the Lindy Hop. Much of the semester was devoted to the Shim Sham, which is a gloriously fun, if difficult, sort of a soft shoe kind of a thing. The final part of the lesson is, of course, to make the dances your own and MAB was part of a small group of intensely creative guys who found a current song and performed the whole Shim Sham, in the characters they'd developed, using this song.

Apparently a week or so ago Craig Ferguson resurrected the song for one of his fun pre-show videos (thank you DVR technology). He didn't include the Shim Sham but he did make me want to dance it again. If you need a little pick-me-up then surely the beat beat beat of these tom toms will give you a lift.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Starry Starry Tuesday

I took off work yesterday so that today is Tuesday is taking a bit of getting used to. I had a post ready to go but then, it was Tuesday and...I wanted to do my 10 Things. At this juncture it's always good to have a starred file. Let's see what mine has in it.

1. In the wake of all these hate killings it's nice to know that some old folks in Wisconsin are sticking to good old fashioned censorship by book burning. Someone please explain to me why they aren't immediately laughed out of court when their suit says this, "the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library," and that it contains derogatory language that could "put one's life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike." about a young adult novel. (Hat tip to Gaiman.)

2. An anti-choice blogger made up a pregnancy and a terminally ill fetus to, I don't know, illustrate her anti-choice point, I guess. That's super respectful of all parents with challenging pregnancies, terminally ill fetuses and dying children, don't you think? (Feministing, of course.)

3. People on both sides of the proverbial political fence are making really shitty jokes lately. Per Aaryn Belfer a GOP activist in SC joked about our First Lady, genetics and gorillas. Meanwhile, per Gothamist, here in NYC David Letterman joked about Alaska's First Daughters, A-Rod and rape. And to think Comedy Central has to bleep out half the Friars' Roasts because they're unfit for public consumption.

4. On a more upbeat note, a friend and colleague of Dr. Tiller is planning to step in and continue some of the services that Tiller can no longer offer. Which is good news on its own but great news given that Operation Rescue is making noise about buying Tiller's clinic for their own purposes. (Also Feministing.)

5. Over at the Women's Colony the Minnesota Matron posted just a short piece about a student's reaction to Shakespeare. The time consuming thing was not reading it but the laughing I did afterward. And then the crying.

6. Dude! There's a bowling alley in the basement of my favorite museum! Not open to the public but there must be some way I can work around that, mustn't there? (NY Times, give them some love or they'll sell your home town newspaper, too.)

7. Jail House Bar Mitzvah. I don't know what else to say about that. (Also Gothamist.)

8. This doesn't necessarily have to be a link (though here's one from Feministing) but I wonder about the 88-year-old perpetrator of the Holocaust Museum shooting. Did he act on his own or was he put forth as the point man for a group? Did he just build up all this resentment and, finally, at 88 he just couldn't hold it in anymore or was he the oldest member of a group so they sent him in since he'd do less jail time?

9. Apparently radical pro-lifers are feeling powerless (and thus feel it's OK to call for the death of their opposers and other elected officials). This baffles. I mean, I get feeling powerless, I spent the Bush years (father and son) and, frankly, some of the Clinton years feeling absolutely powerless and not a little angry about it. I wonder, as I did about the Holocaust Museum shooting, about the correlation between the rise in high profile hate crime (I don't know if overall there's a rise but certainly the level of the crimes is escalating, I think) and a perceived powerlessness by certain ideological groups. I said to a friend (a middle class white collar caucasian straight man) the other day "They're all middle class, or better, white, big, swinging dicks, how powerless can they possibly be?!" Fortunately my friend laughed and did not feel the need to swing his dick in a threatening manner. What I said was flip, certainly, and played for laughs but there's a kernel in there that isn't untrue. Just because we've got one non-white person in the presidency and one non-white woman in line to be part of the higher judiciary does not mean that the white, middle class and be-penised are now oppressed. But they feel that way, certain segments really seem to feel that way and I think that fear is what's fueling a boat load of hate and it's making me kind of angry. Even if you were being oppressed (and I don't think that word means what you think it means) TAKE YOUR FUCKING TURN! Ideally, it'll be a turn taking thing as we work toward full equality, don't you think? Anyway...

10. And, since I'm still putting off a gyn and a dentist appointment because the health care system gives me the vapors, I'll close with health care. Did you know that a small border town in TX has the highest health care costs in the country? Do you know why? (Hint: It's not due to illegal immigration.) [New Yorker via Open Wallet.]

What are you learning this week? Teach me, please.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Return

So, I'm back. Took me about an hour just to get through my Facebook updates. I mean, really, you know you're in trouble when you log in to your Google Reader and it says you have 318 things to read. Woof.

I did a lot of things this weekend. Lest you think I was holding out on you, none of those things was attending a wedding. On the way to the lobsterbake we drive past a very popular place to have one's wedding photos taken. This young lady and her new husband were being ferried there by a chauffeured antique car and all traffic was forced to stop as they disembarked and tipped him. Queen Bee pulled up close while we waited so I could snap a couple of shots. She looks quite happy and delightful, does she not? In person she looked a good deal more wary and disturbed. I wish them both well.

But what did you do, Kizz? you may be asking. I bought clothes, I was handed down clothes, I made cookies, I had breakfast with Chili, I went to two graduation parties for people I didn't know at all, I went to a lobsterbake and talked to a bunch of people, I took photos, I hung out with Aunt Rena and mom, I helped mom learn how to get the photos off her camera, I bought a new SD card for my camera, I painted my nails, I had a breakfast with The Athlete which may go down in my own personal Best Of archives. In short, it was a very good weekend.

The being offline things was interesting. I didn't mind it at all, really. The hardest part was not going to the internet for all the answers. Turns out there wasn't anything I needed to know that couldn't wait a bit. I bet you knew that already, though, didn't you?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hello & Goodbye

I'm sort of reviving Fucking Floral Friday.

This is one of the first photos I've taken post-photography class. Probably you can't tell but maybe you can. I'm not sure I can. I learned a lot but I can only assimilate so much at a time. I've only just regained enough confidence to pick the camera up again.

I haven't spent any time really comparing the work or playing around with processing but I'm posting it anyway because I'm not going to be around these parts for a while. (Internet stalkers take note!) I'm shaking things up for myself and not bringing my computer with me for my trip to NH. I'll be gone from early tomorrow morning until late Sunday night and I don't anticipate having much time or access to the frabjous intarwebs.

I'll miss you but I hope to return refreshed and inspired with lots of stories to tell. Have a grand and glorious weekend. I can't wait to read all about it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Strengths?

Today did not play to my strengths.

I like a good plan. In point of fact I love a good plan. I love it when a plan comes together. I love executing a plan. I love putting all the pieces of the plan in the perfect order. I love announcing a plan. I especially love recruiting people to participate in a plan. Reviewing a plan? A thrill of indecent proportions.

Some of you may be staring quizzically at the screen. "But Kizz," you're thinking, "you just told us you're headed to New England this weekend, I'm supposed to see you but there's no plan for that yet. It's less than 2 days away! Why no plan?" And here is the honest truth: it is harder for me to have a plan and have that plan get changed than it is to not have a plan at all. So sometimes I wait until the last minute to make a plan, while doing extensive research, so that when the plan becomes official it'll be what it is, no changes, no deviations, just a thing of beauty to be blindly followed.

I realize that this is not a fabulous trait. It's not even a mildly admirable one. In a woman who desires a living-in-the-moment career more than anything else in her heart it is a detriment, a hurdle whose challenge would be comical if it weren't so stupidly tragic. I actually try really hard to work on it. Last year when Gar was here I pushed my limits, even. There was a plan and everyone gathered for the plan and the minute we all showed up nothing went according to plan for, like, 2 and a half days straight. For Gar and Pony Express is was bliss, an adventure to be remembered and revered. It was a great couple of days, I loved all the things we did and all the people we did them with. At 2 in the morning on the 3rd day, walking past the front door to my house as the plan changed yet again my head actually came unscrewed and whirled around the sidewalk for about a minute and a half before returning to my shoulders. Pony Express almost wet herself laughing.

Today tested me again. I couldn't make plans and all the plans I had received separate wrenches thrown in at varying speeds and angles. I spent the day ratcheting things around to a new normal. Nothing bad happened, nothing was particularly difficult, there was neither death nor dismemberment. It's clear, though, that I'm a good ways away from being cured of my little compulsions.

Perhaps I should make a plan.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Of Rings And Things

1. New ring. Last ring. Love ring.

2. My photography class was so good and yet so scary that I had to force myself to pick up the camera again and just try.

3. I am in the itchy throat stage of healing. So glad to be almost healed.

4. He's back!

5. Headed to NH this weekend. Crustaceans beware!

6. Dr. Tiller's clinic is permanently closed and none of his family members will continue to work in the field. So I guess that's way more than one win for the anti-choicers.

7. The New York State legislature is getting downright Shakespearean! GovPat says, "I would not plan on the leaving the state right now. Right now, if there's any type of misunderstanding or who is next in charge, I would think the best thing for me to do is to stay here." Seriously, dude? I fear the reins have been ripped from your hands and the horses are hurtling toward the cliff.

8. Speaking of notable quotables, here's what Bret Michaels (yes, of Poison) had to say after taking a piece of scenery to the face at the Tonys on Sunday, "All I remember is Shrek and the donkey helping me up, and Liza [Minnelli] giving me a towel."

9. I read such praise on Facebook this morning for the thrilling thunderstorms we had in the 5 boroughs last night. Perhaps if thunder and lightning didn't signal imminent death to my dog I would feel the same. Instead I just feel tired. Very tired.

10. There's this wonderful photo in the White House photo stream (though I'm linking to its use on Feministing) of people watching President Obama speak in Cairo last week. It's simple, nothing especially compelling, unless you take a little time with it. I want to talk about it, ramble on about my impressions and tell you how to see it. On the other hand I think that's a bad idea. Go take a look and see how it makes you feel. Then look again and consider how different a photo it might have been if the young man to the right had been the focus instead.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I Was A Turtle

My friend, H, teaches pre-school adn she is so good at it that sometimes it hurts to look at her. She used to be a classroom teacher then she was an administrator and now she teaches drama and movement. I went to play in one of her movement classes on Friday.

First I got a tour of this fabulous school. They've just put together a library about which I could go on for pages and pages. They have an art room, a drama room, a gym and, of course, the movement/music room. They have a couple of overhead projectors and one of them is in the drama room. H has been using them to tell stories and have the kids make and interact with images. That project alone made me never want to leave the building.

The class itself was about 45 minutes of pure colored energy. 11 kids made entirely of light, motion and ideas swarmed in and all but took over (in a good way). We sat on our spots, we warmed up, we talked a little (well, we talked in a group purpose a little) then we got up and we moved. We were animals and insects and birds, there were ribbon sticks and lots of music and, dude, it was awesome. I was a turtle, and a bird (unspecified) and a slightly scary stranger. I didn't mean to be that last one but it just sort of happens when you drop in on a pre-school class. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes against. I helped get one girl to put on her own shoes with the "You can do that? Wow, I'd like to see" gambit. I got a couple of spirited boys to lower their volume and keep moving. I also dissolved into giggles because one boy had that infectious sort of laugh, even though he was using his power for evil.

When it was all over I basically wanted to say, "Sign me up!" Yeah, they were wackier and louder and a little more intractable than I remembered but they were also that enormous kind of beautiful. The ages of 2-6 are pretty much my favorites. I like things about all the other ages but 2-6, even at their worst, encompass all the things I love from the alpha to the omega about kids. I had fun. A lot of fun.

And I got to play with an overhead projector. Nobody ever let me do that before.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

In Briefs (No That's Not It!)

Being the only student in a class, even a class where you lie on the floor, is hard work.

I had fun with the kids.

I learned so much that my brain is entirely full and I haven't been able to pick up my camera since.

I only managed half the evening with friends.

I have clean underwear!

I am sick. (Not deathly ill, though it felt like that for a while, but a crazy quick onset cold with sore throat and a bunch of really gross bodily fluids. As a result I completely checked out of my life last night around 10pm and am just re-entering now. If I owe you anything [e-mail, monologue, answer, phone call, $10] I'll catch up on it tomorrow, I just really needed to feel better first.)

Hats off to the inventor of the DVR! I need to go to sleep but I don't want to miss a moment of the Tonys. (Yay NPH!)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Consider This

From yesterday:

1. Research indicates that all Starbucks locations have reduced their seating by about 33%. I can only assume that this is to increase their turnover. On a rainy day this is an act of aggression against the common people who have no office in which to stay dry between jobs.

2. We all, every one of us, needs to have an overhead projector at our disposal. A collection of interesting and colorful objects to go with it wouldn't be bad either.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Ladies & Germs, I am excited and exhausted. Fortunately the excited is winning but I think I'm going to tumble into bed rather than write something of substance here. Tomorrow I'm headed to my class as usual but then I'll get to go play with a real, live New York City gang! Gang of pre-schoolers but a gang, nonetheless, and I hear they're dangerous. Then I've got to do some laundry (dear lord, you should have seen what I wore to work today, disgraceful) because I haven't done that in a month but I can't dilly dally. I have to pack my bag and study my materials and rest up and get ready to go to my very first photography class. Like, ever. I'm afraid it'll be too hard. I'm afraid it'll be too easy. I so want it to solve all my problems. Oo, I have to remember to charge my camera battery! Then I rush home and walk the dog and rush back to Manhattan for a dinner I cruise directed for a visiting friend. I may sleep all day Sunday. Oh crap, except that I have to work on my costume!

Hope you've got some good stuff planned for the next couple of days. If my head doesn't fly off from all the adrenaline I'll come back and tell you all about my weekend.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


On Sunday the anti-choice movement had a big win. A huge win, actually. A win that represents a 50% reduction in the availability of certain crucial services for women's health nation wide. It doesn't matter if you don't align yourself with so-called pro-life organizations or if you're against murder or if you're vegan and wear only naturally occurring hemp. If you are anti-choice in any way somebody handed you an enormous win on Sunday when he shot and killed Dr. George Tiller.

Is it everything you were hoping for?

If I sound angry it's because I am. It's a boiling, crazy, frustrated lividity in the center of a huge lobster pot of sadness and not a little fear. I'm told by a former head of Planned Parenthood that my feelings should spur me to action. I'm told by Susie Bright that this act of terrorism will result in a backlash against political conservatives no matter what I do. I'm told by NBC News that there's nothing to be angry about, Dr. Tiller was killed by his reputation, not by a misogynistic nutjob.

I'm being told a lot of stuff. As are we all. Fortunately, as a fully functioning human being and member of society (no matter what anyone tries to tell me to the contrary) I can choose who to listen to and what to take away from all this advice. I'm going to choose to stay angry for a while. I'm not sure how long because I'm angry at a lot of people. Sure I'm angry at people who are anti-choice and thereby supported a culture of disrespect and danger. I'm also angry at the shooter, of course. I'm a little angry at whoever was making security decisions for Dr. Tiller and a lot angry at the various levels of the justice system that allowed his killer to roam free despite numerous acts of terror and violence against people engaged in pro-choice work over the course of the last 20 years. Mostly, though, I'm angry at myself. I'm angry that I've never volunteered my time or money to Dr. Tiller and the one other gentleman in our country who provides similar services. I'm especially angry that, despite practice and education and sheer determination, I have been unable to form words and craft sentences convincingly enough to change minds and increase the culture of choice, choice for all, such that not only would Dr. Tiller still be alive he'd have enough colleagues to care for the women of our nation with the same three dimensional, compassionate approach that he pioneered.

All I can do is keep trying. I feel like I'm saying that about a lot of things lately. The anger will help with that at first. Then it will fade. It always does, if only a little. I will keep trying to resolve that anger into action, into words, and into hope that all women will have access to competent and compassionate reproductive care based on their own, highly individual choices and that with that access we will see a reduction in the need for some of the services in question.

You, the winners, if you will, I ask you to take this occasion to move forward as well. I ask you to challenge your perception of the average woman seeking an abortion. I ask you to investigate the increase of infertility treatment in our country and its relationship to abortion services and the women who require them. I ask that you think really hard about the women you know and make a weighty choice about whether denying certain choices to your perceived Average Woman Seeking An Abortion is worth also denying full choice to the women you love and respect.

It's a long journey, this road to equality. We are only partway there and someone keeps moving the finish line. For all of us, the "winners" and the losers, I post below the places I have gone to be educated since Dr. Tiller was gunned down last Sunday. Knowledge is power, right? And we need fuel for forward motion.

  • A couple of extra pieces of info on abortion and on Dr. Tiller's Memorial Fund via Feministing.
  • A video about the pro-life (a subset of anti-choice) movement's reaction to Tiller's death. Keep in mind that some of these groups had "Tiller Watch" sites urging their followers to act against Tiller and his colleagues which mysteriously started showing 404 error pages just minutes after news of the shooting broke.
  • Here's Moxie's post about being a pro-choice Christian and how she feels about this crime.
  • Aaryn Belfer wrote about the word terrorism and how it relates to violence against pro-choice supporters.
  • Feministing has done a round up of how we can support the pro-choice movement in honor of Dr. Tiller and in honor of our own beliefs. The one that speaks to me is donating to Medical Students For Choice. While the debate rages on opportunities for learning abortion-related procedures dwindle which has the potential to kill a lot of women, even women who don't fit what you might think of as the typical profile of an abortion seeker.
  • Here is Feministing's original post on the tragedy which includes news links about the killing as well as links to stories they posted about Dr. Tiller while he was still alive.

Whoever you are and whatever you believe, thank you for reading. Thank you especially to SAA for letting me know how hard you were listening. It took me a long time to write this post and knowing you are out there made it possible.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Under Accomplished

On Sunday someone I hadn't seen in about three years asked me, "What are you up to?" I replied, "Nothing, absolutely nothing."

It was an inappropriate response. I still feel bad about it because I'm sure it came across as rude but it was all I had. I feel as though I am doing so much and accomplishing nothing. Partly this is because I'm not accomplishing as much as I'd like, partly it's because I've been met with some rejection of late and partly it's because I'm coming up on some social situations where I'm going to have to summarize my life a lot and I'm fucked if I know what I'm going to say about it that's not going to make me sound pathetic and/or ridiculous. Marketing oneself is a Herculean task and I'm always afraid the lion is going to win, so to speak. Oft time (see above re: inappropriate response) the lion eats my shorts. Sigh.

In lieu of a chair, a whip and a top hat I'll do 10 Things That I Have Accomplished (no time frame, not sure how far back I'm going to have to go to get 10).

1. I half-secured care for my dog. That sounds like a half accomplishment but it's a full one because it's care for the pooch for my lobsterbake trip (Thanks Kath!) and important knowledge about what I still need to do before my West Coast trip. Knowledge is power...or something.

2. I secured care for the dog for my West Coast trip. My dog will not only have excellent care she will be taken to the country for the weekend. She'll be happy to see me back, I'm sure, but I'm willing to bet she'll be disappointed in how I live my sorry one-neighborhood life.

3. I bought my airplane ticket to the West Coast. Non-stop. Good price. Not as early as I thought it'd be and yet still so early my heart hurts thinking about it.

4. I found all the old drafts of my Chekhov play so I can read through that and clean it up before I send it out.

5. I found some old drafts of the Speed Dating play so I can clean that up before I send that out.

6. I arranged to visit a class in a pre-school where I would like to sub and/or teach. That will happen on Friday. Must remember to confirm.

7. I had brunch with 2 women I haven't seen in far too long. One from here in NYC and one from the West Coast who I will see in July as well. As always, even when I was seeing them once a week, I learned a lot.

8. I learned on Sunday that we're headed to the Mermaid Parade again this year and we have a theme: Roses. I've bought some supplies, spread the word and even have people working on my costume (though one of those people doesn't know it yet). My earrings may even light up, that's all I'm willing to divulge.

9. Got my low water pressure problem in my kitchen fixed. This produced more problems and cost rather a lot of money but, like the dog care thing, a first step is an accomplishment. I guess. The whole thing is eating me up with rage but at least it's a new problem to tackle, right? Right? Fuck!

10. I've been writing on a newish project. No idea where it's going to go but it's the only thing I can seem to write these days so I'm really forcing myself to make time for it and that's...nice.

Wow, so you walk up to me at a party, don't know me too well, ask me about my life, how many of the things on this list wouldn't you be embarrassed to hear? I might need to make some shit up.

Or, you know, actually accomplish something.