Wednesday, May 30, 2012

History in photographs

My interest in photography must have started before I was 10, but it was at about that age that I got my first point-and-shoot film camera, a simple Kodak. I wonder if my parents regretted it, with the money they would spend on film for me afterwards (I moved to digital in 2002 so they would only have had to suffer for about 4 years).

In high school, photography was an outlet for me. I shared on DeviantART and got some attention from random people around the world, but nothing in the ways of “internet fame”. I don’t think I was looking for it, either, which is probably healthy for a 14-16 year old teenaged girl. I was severely depressed for several years in high school and taking and editing my photos allowed me to distract myself and find something beautiful in a world that was otherwise dull and pointless.

eye and tear bw

In 2003, I got an edited photo published on the cover of my high school’s literary magazine, and again with another the following year. Up until I applied to Clark University the fall semester of my senior year (got in early decision), I was fairly certain I might apply to a photography school. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t, though I’m not convinced my degree in English Lit with a specialization in Gender Studies wasn’t a complete waste.

More recently, I’ve been asked by some family members and friends what happened to my interest in photography as a career. I’m not sure I ever seriously considered trying to make a living off of it (after chatting with my photography professors at Clark, I know it’s not the most glamorous or monetarily fulfilling job), but I would definitely consider it a hobby. I’m pretty slow about learning and making changes to my photographic habits, but shooting my aunt’s wedding was a nice reminder that it’s something I love and, also, am not terrible at.

I don’t think I’ll ever “go into the business”, but it’s something I love doing and sometimes I need a reminder of that. I am still editing photos from my aunt’s wedding and still learning from the process, and seriously enjoying it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tattoo process–Owl & Eagle

Oops, I promised myself I’d write a blog post today and I have nothing prepared. I don’t even have a new photo! Errr…well I’ll work with what I’ve got, which fortunately means my brain, today!

This entry is a “for future reference” for me, mostly. I thought it would be interesting to revisit my thoughts on my first “real” tattooing process some years from now when I presumably have more. Though this is technically my second, I don’t really count my first.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I am grateful.

I am not feeling awesome today for multiple reasons and I think it’s time for a gratitude post.

Today I am feeling grateful for

  • my boyfriend and his sweetness when I am feeling crummy and being grouchy.
  • good friends.
  • my cat.
  • that, even though I am frustrated about this right now, I have taken the time to educate myself on having the strongest and healthiest body I can to live the most fulfilling life I can.
  • people’s interest in my photography, in the midst of me being very inactive with it, and the chance for my name to be published with my images.
  • the natural light in my apartment.
  • living only 3.5 miles from work so biking to and from may be feasible someday.

And for your amusement, my cat likes to sit very strangely in/near doorways.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some links for a Tuesday

IOU: a post on my new tattoo and how it’s doing (sore, at the moment, and slightly bruised), how I’m currently managing my depression and anxiety. But, for now, have some links!

  • Undervaluing and overvaluing the role of a therapist – I have been in and out of therapy for the past 8 years, at least. I haven’t gone consistently (once every week, two weeks, or monthly) since 2006, but I’m now 2 sessions in with a new therapist that I really like. I think it can be really easy to go either way (undervalue or overvalue) if you’ve ever had a bad experience in therapy, and it’s important to try and be objective about your feelings about therapy, both in and out of the session. I appreciate the personal touch in Vanessa’s post and found it very relatable despite only having been on the patient-side of the experience.
  • The China Study – Fact or Fallacy – I stumbled across this blog the other day while doing some idle research on The China Study (book released in 2004 that uses falsified statistics and data to “prove” that a plant based diet is best for optimal human health). The blogger warns you ahead of time, her posts on the subject are long, but she took the time to analyze the data for you. She’s very hands-off on her findings, which I like, so I didn’t get the sense that she was trying to “convert” anyone to any one way of eating, but just give you the facts and break it down for you. I think it’s really important for people to read posts like this if they aren’t going to do their own research (what the blogger did) and make sure they understand what they are supporting. I have seen and heard so many people sing the praises of this book, and it makes me very sad that they cling to it as a valid argument when the data is wrong. I’m not sure how you can legitimately build an argument from lies.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Photographing my first wedding

Just over a week ago, I drove down to Maryland with Boyfriend for my aunt’s wedding. Back in March, discussing the wedding plans with Vera, I offered to take some photos for her and she graciously accepted. Day of the wedding, I was feeling pretty nervous, wondering how intrusive I could be without actually being intrusive. I saw that a few other people in the crowd (very small “audience” at the ceremony, less than 20 people at a guess) had cameras as well and felt a bit less intimidated.

That's about half of the guests.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Washington DC–vacation for the cheapskate

Getting there

This particular vacation plan was born when I got a JetBlue email advertising cheap flights. My boyfriend and I perused the offerings out of Boston and decided that $39/ticket was more than a little reasonable and that we would be visiting DC again! And this time, we were going to make a real trip out of it, not the less-than-a-day wandering we did two years ago. It was fun, but you really cannot enjoy much that DC has to offer in ~8 hours!

Sleeping – on the cheap

Midday snooze at the hostelSeriously, don’t be afraid of hostels! Check out HostelWorld for ratings and reviews. We stayed at Duo Housing and it was great (recently changed management, hence the iffy ratings!). The staff was super friendly and helpful, we got a “10-cent tour” of the hostel and the manager, Marc, even gave us maps and circled places to check out (as well as places to avoid). We got some of our local transportation tips from him as well. Staying in the largest room (6 bunk beds) was the cheapest option, at $24.50/person/night. That’s at least a quarter of the cost of the cheapest, but least sketchy motel in the city, let alone a damn hotel! Staying in the city is pricey, but hostels (especially when they have nice amenities, such as linens, towels, BBQs on Sundays, and free WiFi) make it totally doable.

Getting around – cheapskate style

First things first, whip out your map and bookmarked Yelp reviews and figure out where you want to go! I guarantee your plans will change once you’re there, but it helps to have an idea. Locate the nearest metro stations to your destinations and use Google Maps to estimate distances and best travel routes from place to place. BE PREPARED TO DO A LOT OFIMAG0040 WALKING. DC is on a grid, and things can seem deceptively close. Unless you are used to walking 10-15 miles a day, those .5-1mile walks will really add up without you noticing, until you feet and calves start hollering. They’ll thank you later.
If, based on your calculations & map perusals, you think you want to use the Metro, I highly recommend investing in a 7-day rail pass. Note that you have to pay to get on and off the subway! The Metro site should help you estimate costs, but the 7-day pass is around $30 and you will probably spend more than that if you’re in the city for a few days at least, if you just load up a card with cash. The buses are apparently pretty irregular, according to our trusted hostel manager, so we didn’t even bother with those. Instead, we used the Circulator buses a few times. They went on routes that were a little more practical for us, and $1 per ride is not bad. It’s a private owned bus system, so the buses are very clean and regular.
Where NOT to go
Our wonderful hostel manager circled a few places on our map to avoid. DC is unfortunately not the safest place, and there are a lot of crime-ridden areas. One area to avoid was the west side of 11th St NW, right across the street from Duo Housing! That side of the street is essentially ghetto. I’m afraid I can’t remember the other places we were informed to avoid, but don’t be afraid to ask the hostel managers for tips. If they’re any kind of decent, they’ll help you out.
My Go-To recommendations
View from the paddle boat
  • If it’s in-season, take a paddleboat out on the Tidal Basin. Don’t forget your sunscreen! $12/hr for a 2-person boat.
  • Smithsonian Museums are FREE and there are a bunch! Check out their events and sites for hours and exhibits. The Air And Space Museum is really fun, especially for kids. We only went to the Castle (original Smithsonian) this time around and even that was pretty cool.2 years ago, not very clean.
  • There are a number of national monuments in Washington DC, most are free to explore (except if you want to go up to the top of the Washington Monument, which is currently closed for renovation). Walking the Mall is totally worth the trek in good weather. Unfortunately that is also under renovation this year, but I bet it’ll be gorgeous next year with the Reflecting Pool all cleaned up!
  • I would highly encourage anyone to go to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and the International Spy Museum! They aren’t free, but many souvenir shops will have brochures and guide books with coupons in them, including for reduced admission. The Spy Museum also has some really fun spy adventures you can sign up for (we did Spy at Night two years ago, it was awesome). It ain’t cheap, but it’s totally fun. You can get coupons for admission by visiting gift shops and picking up their free guidebooks.
  • Georgetown Cupcakes was recommended by the hostel manager, but we didn’t get around to visiting.
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl is especially famous now for Obama going there, but mostly for their absolutely delicious chili dogs. GO HERE. YOU MUST.
  • So many tasty, tasty desserts!P Street by 14th NW has a lot of pubs, restaurants, a Whole Foods, and boutiques. Walk up 14th and check that area out for sure. Stop in at Commissary DC for some delicious eats, sourced from a local farm in Maryland.
  • If you’re going to splurge, go to Co Co. Sala. Despite the tiny food portions, for dinner and dessert, you will totally fill up on the decadence of it all. They even have 3 and 5 course dessert options, which I would love to do if my sweet tooth ever goes crazy.


Please let me know if you enjoyed my (not very) little guide and if you have anything to add about places I mentioned, places to go, places to avoid, travelling on the cheap etc. Thanks!

Magnolias, my favorite tree flowers
New phone background, early-blooming cherry blossoms!
So bright

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wednesday post: in which I ramble and feel good.

Queen Fae, hanging out while I watched a bit of Hellboy II last night.
Meet Fae, also known as Queen Fae, also known as my Hallowe’en cat, who has finally joined us at the apartment! After not really eating after her arrival on Sunday night, she ate all the food that had accumulated in the bowl overnight (I'd put in some tuna, tuna juice, dry food, chicken juice over the course of yesterday morning and evening). She had a few nibbles of the food I put out this morning too, so it looks like we're in the clear there :) She weighed in at a healthy 12.5 lbs (Boyfriend claims she has definitely lost weight since we saw her around Easter, since her belly is no longer dragging on the ground). The vet said he wanted to do blood-work, but that was going to be around $200 more, so fuck that. Boyfriend handled the decline well, it sounds like, since apparently the vet was amused by the way he said, "Um, no." Fae is finding new places to hang out and currently loves any under-bed space and curling up in my Harry Potter closet. CAN YOU TELL I AM SO HAPPY TO HAVE HER WITH ME AT LAST? No more sharing with the family, she's all ours. ;) Well, they can visit.

I'm on a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy/occult kick right now, both literary and otherwise. I might whip out some of my old witchcraft books and see if I still like them (have been trying unsuccessfully to sell "To Ride A Silver Broomstick" by Silver Ravenwolf for years now, what an embarrassing purchase). I consider myself a spiritual person, but not religious. It makes me happy to dream about seasonal altars I'd like to arrange on the desk that serves as a side-board in our dining room. I trust in science, and I think that the function of nature is beautiful and enriching, and I like to connect myself to nature with symbols and personal rituals (mostly just quiet meditation on the greenery and weather I see everyday). The altars help me connect, but I haven't taken the time to make any significant arrangements on it since Winter. I have an Easter basket for next Spring, anyway, and I'm trying to think of an easy altar arrangement to signify the approach of summer, using what I have and what I can collect out doors. The best part about all of this is spiritual enrichment requires no money or resources, only your mind. I don’t feel stressed at all when I dream about wire-wrapping some of the stones I have, or blessing them in the smoke of beeswax candles.

The desk currently has a pirate-themed plastic tablecloth on it, since it serves as an actual side-board when we have parties... It could use a little tidying up. So could the whole apartment, for that matter. No excuses, I must clean up if/when I get bored this evening!

From last fall, there are less computers and bags, and more candles now.
I want to change up the photo arrangement, maybe rotate them out for some posters or other photos, but I don't have a lot that I want to display and I'm not great with figuring out how to arrange them. All of the photos were taken and printed by me while I was in university.

So, this blog post has nothing to do with anything I thought I’d write about today, but that’s okay. I was on a roll and I’m happy with the result!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Happy, happy weekend!

I’m back from the most awesome weekend I have had since I went to Washington DC mid-March! My aunt got married this weekend and I got to see my cousins (and their awesome kids) for the first time since they were married, 8-10 years ago! Even Mr. Boyfriend had a good time romping around with the little kids. It was really wonderful to see my aunt so happy, and it doesn’t hurt that her new husband is a great guy as well. I hope it doesn’t have to be too long before we get down to visit again (or they come up to see us), but we are definitely flying there in the future.

I have lots of photos to edit for my aunt, as I was the official non-official photographer, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll be sure to share some of the pictures when I’m done, but for now, here’s a bee:Poor lil guy lost a leg, I moved him from foot traffic path.


And also, a link:

  • Homemade Sunscreen Bars – Place this among the many projects I will not do until I have a decent amount of surplus cash! But I love the idea of making my own all-natural sunscreen :) One of these days, I’ll get a glass bowl so I can make a double boiler.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

WTH, more links?!

Apparently all I feel like doing this week is sharing links! This is totally fine with me, as I haven’t’ had the brain power to really craft anything more substantial. My journal over on is updated nearly daily, so I get most of my frustrations and thought-analysis done over there.

  • Vitamin D and Cholesterol – The information here on supplements concerns me. I’ve been on a high dose of Vitamin D for some time now. I would love to get out in the sun more, but that requires exposing skin and the weather just won’t allow it right now/for some time now. I wonder if 20 min of day light exposure in the form of a walk after work, once it warms up, would be enough to keep my D levels okay without supplements? Oh yes, read with this warning: she discourages low-fat diets :)
  • Jason Statham is worth a lot – And he’s hot. And I like his acting (probably just being himself). And his body. Is he a genre by himself? Regardless, I approve.
  • Girls participation in PE – I don’t know what the answer is, but separating girls to participate in activities like Zumba is a huge step backwards ala 1950s. I felt very self-conscious in gym class middle school through high school, around the girls and the boys; I felt like my body was going to be judged by everyone and I’ve never stopped getting unwanted comments about how “thin I am”. I think the answer will come from the younger students, in elementary school, and building up confidence and respect for other bodies as well as their own.