Friday, August 29, 2008

Things I Learned This Week

1) Work can be good if I'm busy. Which I was. All week. A very nice change of pace.

2) Life is better when Myra is around. But she needs to be off doing her own thing, and I respect and understand that.

3) I have great friends. The best, really.

4) It does not feel good to have your vagina propped open for an extended period of time while a radiologist injects dye into your uterus to make sure your fallopian tubes are open. But it is totally worth the uncomfortableness when you see the dye spill out around your ovaries, thereby letting you know that your tubes are indeed open for business.

5) It's hard to live without a computer. But if you have a husband who recognizes that you have a strong Internet dependency and lets you use his computer, that helps lessen the pain of separation.

6) Sometimes the only thing you can do is make it through a moment. Some days are a-moment-at-a-time days.

7) It's important to keep your eyes open and notice the world around you. I found this little thing on the sidewalk outside my office building and loved photographing it. It's been hanging out on my office windowsill ever since I rescued it.

Happy weekends to all!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Invincible Summer

In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus-

I have a lot of words tumbling around in my brain, but I haven't made sense of them yet. It's kind of like a washer and dryer in my mind right now, only there's still a lot of dirty laundry left in the hamper. But I'm assuming once things are done tossing themselves around, there will be some warm and toasty words just for this blog.

So tonight you get just a quote and a flower.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Amazing Miss Myra and Her Dirty Thirty Celebration!

We interrupt your previously scheduled macro week to bring you breaking birthday news.

It's Myra's 30th birthday today!

When Myra and I saw each other on Saturday, we squealed like a couple of teenagers. After all, it had been five months since she moved to Maryland, and we hadn't seen each other since. We used to see each other every day, so it has been quite the adjustment not having her around all the time. I totally miss her.

But she's here now! We got together and went out to Citrus Park to take some pictures that day. Then we came back and did some shooting around downtown Riverside. We had lunch together yesterday, and I am still holding out hope that I might see her tonight since she's flying back to Maryland tomorrow.

Anyway, I haven't done a lot of work on the computer this week due to two things: 1) my computer is a piece of crap, and 2) my back has been bothering me. So I don't have a lot of pictures from Myra's Dirty 30 session. But here are a couple.

As you can see, Myra let me tie her up. She's a good sport.

I took this one as a homage to a picture taken when Myra was 16. The picture was of her profile, and she was flipping her collar up. It was Myra's idea.

That's all I have for now.

Happy birthday, fwend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This job may be hazardous to your health.

I feel old.

I have always had back problems due to scoliosis, but lately my back has been killing me. A visit to the massage therapist on Friday offered me some temporary relief over the weekend, but yesterday and today I came straight home from work, crawled into a warm bath, and laid in bed, alternating heat and cold on the really sore areas. It literally hurts to sit.

I blame my job. Sitting all day is not exactly great for one's alignment. But hey, at least I've gotten some cool macro shots out of it.

Once I have all the kinks worked out, I'm going to do yoga more often. I'm afraid to do it now for fear of hurting myself any more.

There will be a much cooler post tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Macro and Meme

I'm officially dubbing this week "Macro Week." I am crazy about macros right now. I have been using my 50mm lens as a makeshift macro lens ever since the Mamarazzi workshop, and I just love the slightly blurry, abstract effect it has on photos. Even the most boring, everyday things look so cool close-up.

So, here we go!


Yummy strawberry from the local farmer's market. I love how ghostly the leaves of the strawberry look.


I saw this on Lydia's blog awhile back and decided to play along.

Five Things Found in My Bag

1) Camera. In my backpack, I carry my point and shoot. Currently in my purse, I'm carrying my Canon Rebel. It's an addiction, I tell you.

2) Moleskine. I am a notetaker and a listmaker. (Notetaker! Listmaker! Notetaker, don't you mess around with me!) I write down ideas, things I want to try, things that are recommended to me by others, etc.

3) Flash drive. I am forever saving things on my work computer, so I use this to move them to my home computer.

4) Eleventy billion Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons. Seriously, how much paper do they use printing these things?

5) A small copy of the Tao Te Ching. If there is one belief system that makes the most sense to me, this is it.

Five Favorite Things in My Room

Ahhh, I miss the old days of having my own room. For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume the bedroom is my room.

1) My husband, right when he wakes up in the morning. He is arguably the cutest in the morning when his hair is sticking straight up and he's radiating enough heat to warm the entire apartment.

2) Process scrapbook. I started this back when I did my internship and have kept it up since. It's basically a glorified journal/notebook.

3) Towers of books. I have all the books that I want to read stacked in various places in the bedroom. Supposedly this is not good for purposes of feng shui, but I don't care. Give me reading material or give me death!

4) My kitties! Enough said.

5) Heating pad. I'm addicted to it. I've really made a solid effort at not using it so much in recent months and so far have succeeded at it. But still, I love it.

Five Things I've Always Wanted to Do

1) Publish a book. I've published in several magazines, but I want the book (or several).

2) Travel. I have not done nearly enough of this in my life, unfortunately.

3) Buy a big, old house with hard wood floors and lots of natural light with a huge backyard. I grew up in a big house with four acres of land to run around on, and let me tell you, it's not a bad life.

4) Live in a place that feels like home. I want to live somewhere that suits me. While I'm from south Texas and now hang my hat in southern California, I know that my real home has yet to be found. I feel strongly about Portland, Oregon.

5) Make peace with my past. And by this I mean get full-on closure for things I am not likely to get it for. Yeah, it's totally unrealistic.

Five Things I Am Currently Into

1) Reading. That will never change.

2) Writing. Another thing that will never change.

3) Photography. I don't think this one will change, either.

4) Blogs. I subscribe to so many damn blogs, but I can't help it. They make me so happy.

5) TV on DVD. Hey, another thing that will never change.

In non-meme related news, I got my new driver's license in the mail today. I look like an Oompa Loompa.

Or maybe I look like a tangerine with blonde hair. It's hard to say.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Human's Journey

This may sound crazy, but lately I feel like I've been getting messages from Some Great Beyond. I'm not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination, but things have been happening lately. I feel like I'm being fed pieces of a story a little bit at a time. I have no idea how the story is going to progress, how the characters will evolve, or what the ending will be. All I know is that there is a story, and I'm a part of it. A big part of it, as it turns out.

A couple of weeks ago, my department manager's husband committed suicide. This greatly shook up everyone in my department, me included. I couldn't help but feel that his act was a message for me. A message that read: "Don't ever let yourself get this unhappy. Do something. Do it now!"

I should rephrase that. I am not so self-centered that I think that his suicide was a message especially for me. But it came at such a relevant time that I perceived it to be something to which I really should pay close attention.

You see, I've been going through a lot lately. It seems like the whole world has been on this emotional rollercoaster with me. Everywhere I look, it seems that there are people having similar struggles. I read it on their blogs and see it in their eyes. Unhappiness weighs heavily in the words and on the faces of others. More often than not, it seems we are a tired, sad, defeated people (or maybe it's just me). Perhaps this time of great economic uncertainty has seeped into our consciousness in a way that we can't even begin to explain. I'm not really sure. All I know is that life sucks sometimes. It really, really does.

You know something's really amiss when a person holds a loaded gun to his head and willingly fires it. And it's not like this was an isolated incident. This is the third case of suicide affecting someone in my daily life in the last month.

Life sucks, indeed.

Believe it or not, my current level of unhappiness (which can change dramatically from day to day, by the way) is not based primarily on this, but on my job. I've had this job for two years now. I'm grateful for it. I have a stable (but low) income and decent medical benefits, and my boss is very supportive of my scheduling needs. I have some good experience on my resume. I've met some great people. There are definitely worse places to be.

And yet, I am not happy. From day one, I have known that this job wasn't a great fit for me. For starters, I work in a legal office, and I just don't have the intuition for and appreciation of the law. I'm a paper pusher with really nothing to do most days. For some people this might be a good thing, but not me. I'm a hard worker, and I'm really educated. I'm also pretty darn smart and motivated. I have worked hard at doing nothing for two years now, and if it wasn't for school, I think I'd be an idiot at this point. And believe me, I've made plenty of effort at improving things, but so far nothing has worked. It's really worn me down. Some days I am downright angry about it, and some days I'm just numb. But not every day is a bad one. It's not like I spend every second of my time thinking about how much I hate it. It's more like having this subtle little cloud following me around. Other things in my life are bright and shiny, but sometimes the work cloud really affects my worldview.

All that said, within the past few months, things have gone really downhill. I think I have had at least one work-related meltdown a week this summer. Things have gotten to the point where I probably fall into the category of "depressed person." On these days, I can't help but feel like a failure. After all, I am living the life that I never wanted to live: I wake up, go to work, spend eight hours in a box, go home, rinse, and repeat. But more often, I feel scared. I am scared that I will never have the courage to devote myself to my life's work and that I will die a would-have-been.

This fear of mine, the fear of not ever fully realizing my potential, ranks right up there with my fear of losing someone I love deeply. In a sense, if I never forge a life for myself based on the things I feel passionately about, then I will be losing someone who is very important to me: myself.

At the age of three, I would sit and watch my brother work on his cursive writing skills, and I learned how to write my name in a wobbly script. I like to think that it was then that I began my love affair with writing. I will say that if I didn't realize it at three years old, I knew a few short years later what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer, an author, a sculptor of words, a creator of worlds through the power of the pen.

Knowing what you want to do with your life is like knowing you're in love. You just know. It's nothing that can be explained; it's an abstract feeling with a life of its own, and if you're lucky, it takes the form of something you can see, touch, experience. It becomes something larger than yourself. It's often beautiful, but making it work can be so hard, so draining.

I have been working at writing my whole life. I have filled up probably a hundred journals, written thousands of emails/letters and poems, started hundreds of stories (and written two novels). I have read so many books and blogs and magazines that unless they're really exceptional (or written by my friends), I can't keep them straight anymore. I stare at paintings and photographs and other art objects, and I absorb them. I take an honest look at my life, and then I begin to take it apart and see what it's made of.

I am a writer. Whether or not I am a good writer is irrelevant. I write; this is what I do.

You noticed the certainty with which I delivered that last little bit, yes? It's true: as wishy-washy as I am, that is one thing I do know. But knowing it hasn't made my life any easier. There are still bills to pay, after all.

Truthfully, I'm stubborn. I never wanted to settle for any kind of writing career. I wanted to write stories or novels, and as I got older, my focus fell on poetry. These are not genres that sell, unless you are Stephen King or Danielle Steel or a greeting card poet. But I am not them. I don't know how to create anything that sells. All I know how to create is what I see in front of me. Sometimes I can imagine what exists beyond the frame of my experience and form some impression of that. Oftentimes, the things that I find the most beautiful and meaningful don't seem to be well received by the public. I am okay with that. But there are still bills to pay, after all.

Enter my beloved Canon Rebel, my very first "good" camera.

Long before I laid my greedy little hands on that beauty, my mom bought me my first camera. It was a white Kodak (film, of course). I was eleven years old, and we were on vacation in Colorado. My best photo-related memory of that time we spent in Colorado was buying film that was meant for action shots. So every time one of us took a picture with the camera, the subject would move around like crazy. This resulted in some really hilarious pictures that I will forever treasure. Since that vacation, I have always owned a camera. I have taken great care to document my life through pictures.

We were in New Mexico later that summer, and I snapped a picture of the most beautiful sunset I'd ever seen. To my great disappointment, the picture didn't turn out. (I wish I had known then what I know now!) It was a memory, lost. If I close my eyes, I can vaguely see that New Mexico sunset, but there's nothing to confirm that it was real.

And to me, that's what photography is about: capturing the real, freezing the moment, preserving the memory. The more artfully you can do that, the better. I didn't realize that this was something I really wanted to do until I opened my Canon Rebel on Christmas morning this past year.

I immediately started taking pictures. Of everything. My most noteworthy pictures on that first day were of oranges and a leaf floating in the swimming pool at Roy's grandparents' house. A new love affair had begun: with objects and the quiet lives they lead.

If you've never been a member of the knot or the nest, then you won't understand how cliche it is for a member of those boards to venture out into something like photography or wedding planning after getting married. (It does seem like the cool thing to do, but let's face it - only a very select few can do it well. That's a subject for another post, though.) My own wedding photographer was a knottie-turned-vendor, and for awhile I tried to see myself following in her footsteps. I even turned to her for her thoughts on my photographic awakening, and she gave me some good advice: to pursue my passion and to think outside the box to make it into something. That was in January or February, and I have been thinking ever since.

In the meantime, I've been trying on different roles. I've taken photos of couples, babies, kids, animals, weddings, etc. I have attended a workshop, read books and blogs on the subject, learned how to edit, etc. I even have a name picked out should I ever start my own business. I have a few portrait sessions lined up, and I'm excited about them.

But you know what? There's something missing. Doing portrait sessions is enjoyable, yes. But my heart doesn't feel like it's going to explode with happiness when I'm doing them. I want that feeling. I want to devote my life to something that makes me feel that way.

Roy and I watched Autism: The Musical last week. It's a documentary about the Miracle Project, an organization that works with kids with special needs. It's a pretty amazing film, and you should watch it if you have the chance. It is the coolest thing to see these autistic kids get up in front of a crowd of people and be able to sing and perform, and while watching it, I laughed and cried, sometimes in the same breath. None of those kids could have gotten to that point without their own Coach E, who taught them to push the boundaries of their minds and sing their broken, beautiful hearts out.

I want to be Coach E. I want to give a voice to the voiceless.

There are so many wedding and portrait photography businesses out there, and I subscribe to quite a few of their blogs. I started doing this for research purposes, because for awhile there, as stated before, I was seriously thinking of taking on the wedding photographer role. It seemed to make sense at the time. After all, I had a camera and a decent sense of what makes a picture look good (but don't get me wrong - I am far from knowing all there is to know and from being really good at photography), and I'm sure there are people out there who would pay for my services. And we all know that if you want to make money being a photographer, then wedding photography is the way to go.

It also was the safest and easiest choice. The bridal industry is pretty easy to break into, relatively speaking. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be the enormous amount of bad wedding photographers currently working!

What I have finally realized, though, is that I really lack the passion and drive to be a good wedding photographer. It's a hard job that you have to really want to do. While I respect the hard work that wedding photographers put into their job, I'm not willing to do it because it's just not my thing. I understand that this is one of the most important days of a couple's life, and I don't think I would respond well to that amount of pressure. Plus, I would probably get distracted by a brick wall and miss the ceremony.

And then there's this other thing about wedding and portrait photography. It's a production. It's being set up to unfold in a certain way. The stars of the wedding are wearing costumes and are made to look more beautiful than they usually are. The pictures are taken so as not to appear posed, but they are not as candid as they seem. I don't mean to sound harsh or overcritical or to downplay the emotions experienced during a wedding or a portrait session. The emotions are real, that's for sure. And a gifted photographer will capture them well, creating something concrete for the couple or family to hold onto for the rest of their lives. They will look at those pictures and see themselves at their most beautiful, when they were young and happy and in love.

But what I want to know is this: what happens when the beauty fades? What happens when times get hard and things look bleak? What happens when death comes calling? Who is going to be there to capture those moments?

I want to introduce you to some important bodies of work by some extraordinarily talented photographers. These collections of photographs are not easy to look at; as a matter of fact, they make my heart hurt. They usually make me cry.

I have never been one to shy away from sadness, though, so here goes:

Mashed Potatoes for Breakfast
Days with My Father
Life Before Death
Remember Me

Depressing? Yes. A complete and total downer? Yes.

But necessary? Absolutely.

Without these photos, we would never have the pleasure of knowing these people. And this is important work, just as important as shooting a wedding.

In our wanderings around our town, Roy and I have come across quite a few homeless people. I am admittedly fascinated by them. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they seemed to be non-existent in my hometown, and so I didn't grow up taking it for granted that there would be a homeless person with a sign asking for help at every freeway off-ramp.

But they are everywhere. Every-fucking-where. When I pull up to a stoplight and see a homeless person holding a sign on the corner, I take care to avoid their eyes. I don't know why I do this. It's not that I'm afraid (although I kind of am) or put off by them. It's that I just don't understand what led them to that point of desperation. Who are these people, and how did they get to where they are now?

The other day I was at a stoplight, and again, there was the token homeless person with a sign asking for help. At first I wouldn't even look at him. But then for some reason, I rolled down my window and held out a dollar. The guy began walking towards me, limping like crazy. He had this huge, happy grin on his face. He thanked me profusely. I began to wonder why I had been avoiding eye contact with him in the first place. Is it because I see in him the very thin, very fragile thread that binds us yet separates us at the same time?

We're not so different, you know. We're all just a little lost. We're all just looking for something.

I want to help these lost people, to reach out to them, to show them a better life. I want to document life as it is for them. And I want to portray life as it is for the rest of the world's lost souls: from the stay-at-home mom who hasn't had time to brush her hair to the businessman eating alone at lunch time to the kid who got picked last for dodge ball.

There's more to life than the happiest moment. There are all the moments that follow, that precede, that come in between. And I am a big fan of the everyday. Just as I love dilapidated buildings and silent objects, I love wrinkled faces and heartbroken eyes.

Everyone has a story. And I want to tell it.

So, you see, I've been taking in all this stuff for quite awhile now. All these disjointed pieces are forming this vague picture in my mind. It's a lot like planning a wedding or writing a paper. You start with a bone. Then you build a skeleton. You add in the organs, nerves, muscles, blood. You craft many layers of skin and sew them together, and then you have something flawed, rough, and beautiful.

That's what I'm doing. I'm building something organic. I have this mound of Play-Doh in my hands that's made up of words, photos, smiles, tears, chocolate, and flowers, and someday I will understand what it all means and what I'm supposed to do with it. I will understand what my life's work really is.

In a way, I already understand.

It's the fear of loss, more than anything, that motivates me. Long before I had fears of losing myself and my dreams, there was someone else that I lost. You know how people always talk about the one that got away? For me, that was my dad. (You can read about him here.)

My entire life is a reaction to what happened to him. It's the reason why I'm so hard on myself, why I expect so much of myself, why I am so scared to be left behind, and why I am so sensitive to those who are less fortunate. It's why I embrace the sadness in life as something beautiful, why I always am upfront with my feelings, and why I am so quick to admit when I'm wrong. I can't think of a single issue I have that doesn't have something to do with him and the effect it had on our family.

This isn't necessarily a negative thing. I think I have managed to make the best of a devastating situation, and I have had a lot of help, especially from my mom and brother. (Oh, and therapy! Let's not forget the amazing things that therapy has done for me.)

The point is, my dad never stood a chance against the massive AVM in his brain. It was out of his control. The way he is now is largely out of his control as well. I am in a position to fulfill my purpose in life and to live up to my potential, and he is not. I feel it is my duty to always do my best, to do more than my best - because he can't. This is why I think so damn much about this stuff - because even though he may never notice or pay attention to me or the things I do, I want to be a person of whom he would be proud.

To be less than that is not enough.

And this, my friends, is why I dream. It's why I write, why I take pictures, why I try to soak up the things that make up the world. It's not all for me. It's also for him. And it's for all those others who can't as well.

And here I am, back at the beginning again. I've come full circle - from adulthood to childhood and back again. Life is funny that way. You never know where it's going to take you.

All I really know is that this has been a glorious ride so far, full of the terror and giddiness of the unknown. And despite some of the choices I've made and the heartbreak I've experienced, I really wouldn't change a thing.

As I said in the beginning of this blog entry, I am not a religious person. I don't necessarily believe in fate or absolute truth or that all things happen for a reason. While I often contemplate the universe and our origins and endings, I ultimately don't care where I came from or where I'm going when I die. What matters most is what I do with my time as Leslie.

I think someday I will do something great, whether it's giving birth to a baby who grows up to be a lovely human being, writing an awesome collection of poetry, or documenting the life of a decrepit old house or an ordinary person for the world to always remember. Or maybe, just by facing another day, I have already done something great. There's something heroic in continuing to push on, right?

Yes, I think so. And so, I go on. Pen and paper in hand, camera around my neck, with that ache of love and longing inside, I go on.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Red Kite

I won another print over at today is pretty! It's called "Red Kite."

You may recall that I won another print back in June, so I feel extremely lucky to have gotten another one.

PS - Thanks to all for your kind comments.

PPS - That doozy of a post is coming up very soon, probably this weekend. It's loooooong.

Yesterday I Cried

Moody mofo, checkin' in.

The absolute best thing that you can possibly have when you are crying is a bag full of chocolate, a box full of Kleenex, and someone who loves you nearby. And if you're really lucky, that someone who loves you will make you a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner.

That was me last night. Me and my mini Heath bars and my snotty tissues and my grilled cheese sandwich and my amazing husband who loves me despite the fact that yes, it's true, I am a big ol' crybaby.

I am really glad it's the weekend.

Yesterday, I cried.
I came home, went straight to my room,
sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes, unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.
I cried until my nose was running all over the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.
I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy,
or too tired, or too mad to cry.
I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonored, disrespected,
and disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me in the ways others
did to me the same things I had already done to myself.
I cried for all the things I had given, only to have them stolen;
for all the things I had asked for that had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished, only to give them away,
to people in circumstances, which left me feeling empty,
and battered and plain old used.
I cried because there really does come a time when
the only thing left for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because little boys get left by their daddies;
and little girls get forgotten by their mommies;
and daddies don't know what to do, so they leave;
and mommies get left, so they get mad.
I cried because I had a little boy,
and because I was a little girl,
and because I was a mommy who didn't know what to do,
and because I wanted my daddy to be there so badly until I ached.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt. I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there, the hurt wakes you up.
I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.
I cried because my soul knew that I didn't know
that my soul knew everything that I needed to know.
I cried a soulful cry yesterday, and it felt so good.
It felt so very, very bad.
In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,

Yesterday, I cried
with an agenda.

-Iyanla Vanzant

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Morning Reflections

Good morning.

I have really loved my mornings this summer. I don't go into work until 9:00, so I have had a nice time each morning either hanging out in bed or catching up on my blog reading. Now, if only I could find a job that I really looked forward to...

That reminds me, I still have that big ol' post coming up sometime soon. I'm an editing freak, which is why it's taking so long.

Yesterday after work I came home and did about fifteen minutes of sun salutations, and my back feels much better today.

I'm a little terrified about this weekend. We are taking my computer in to upgrade the RAM and fix the fan. I am so attached to my computer that I don't know how I will cope without it. Sad, indeed. I suppose I will just kick Roy off of his.

This is a vintage camera that I found on etsy. That site is incredible. I hardly ever look at it because I know I'd buy everything. Anyway, I have developed an appreciation for all kinds of cameras and I want to learn how to use them all. I'm not even sure if this one works or not. I mainly bought it to put on display, but I think I'm going to use it as some kind of prop in a shoot I have coming up.

Anyway, yay for Thursday! This week has both flown and dragged.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Watching the Paint Peel

I had originally intended on a longer entry for today, but I'm not feeling all that great. My back is all kinds of fucked up, I am exhausted, and I have a taste in my mouth like I've been sucking on pennies. Oh, and I have a cold sore. I hope I'm not getting sick. I'm going to crawl in bed soon because it just feels like the best place to be.

The above photo was taken while sitting on our front porch after taking a walk yesterday evening. We took a few minutes to just sit and listen to the world whirl away. And I thought about this summer and what a mixed bag it's been. It's been a strange one, all right.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feet and Face

1) My husband has the most beautiful feet.
2) We have the ugliest wood panelling in both bedrooms of our apartment.
3) I think it's very cute that Roy hung up his employee-of-the-quarter plaques that he got from his old job, but I secretly wish that he would take them down because I am not a big fan of the plaque look.

1) I like my new haircut. My bangs are a work in progress, but I like them that way.
2) Do you see that red blotch in the white of my eye? It's been there since the surgery. It makes me look like I've lived a bit.

1) I look like I'm 12 and trying to hug the camera.

I have a doozy of a post coming up. My head has been absolutely swimming with ideas lately. Yesterday, after having a long talk with someone I trust, I began putting my thoughts down on paper. Actually, I began typing. So far I have six single-spaced pages, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's more coming. I'll try to break up the post with some pictures, though.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In the Backyard

Yesterday I went outside with the intent that I was going to take at least one good photo. I ended up taking several good ones in my own backyard.

A macro shot of a flower - I love how abstract this is:

These pictures are of a totally dilapidated building that belongs to our neighbors. This side of the building runs along our backyard. I have always loved just looking at it and decided it was high time that I photographed it. Old buildings are so mysterious and interesting to me.

I hate spiders and anything associated with them. But spiderwebs are part of what make buildings like these have so much character.

I love this window; I love the peeling paint; I love the textures of age.

And I love rust.

I think I'm going to try this every day this week. At least one good photo a day, to be posted the next day.

I've been going through all of my photos that I have stored in Lightroom, editing the halfway decent ones, and trashing the rest. My trash-to-edit ratio is high. Very high. I'd like to close that gap a little. I tend to fire off a bazillion exposures, most of which are total crap.

The good thing about shooting so many damn photos is that there are a lot of cool accidental ones that come out. Sometimes those are my favorites.

Anyway, when I went out and took the above pictures, I noticed that I took them more thoughtfully and thus had less bad ones. So maybe I am already closing the gap a little. It's easy to do that, though, when there isn't much pressure (meaning there aren't people being photographed).

Once I'm done editing all the pictures I have in Lightroom, then I have to figure out a better way to organize them on my hard drive. This is not an easy task for me, but it is thrilling because I'm a nerd and love coming up with organizational schemes. I have often begged people to let me organize their houses. I don't want to clean them, just organize. It soothes the wild beast in me.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anatomy of a Metamorphosis

On Thursday afternoon, I looked like this:

Words cannot express how much I hate the way I look in the above pictures. Oh, well. I'm not the one who took them.

On Thursday evening, after a couple of hours at the salon, I looked like this:

On Friday afternoon, after I'd had my Lasik surgery done and had been put to bed, I looked like this:

After sleeping 16 hours following surgery, being told I now have 20/15 vision, and taking a nice, relaxing shower, here is what I now look like:

I think I like the new me.

How to Renew Your Faith in the Human Race

Last night Roy and I went to Borders, and I found a ton of books I wanted. I pulled out my handy moleskine to write it all down. This morning I could not find my moleskine anywhere. I frantically poured everything out of my purse and searched everywhere I could think of. No moleskine. I was a little upset about this. Even though I've barely begun to put the thing to good use, it had a few things in it that I didn't really want a total stranger to see. (I use my notebooks for pretty much everything: shopping lists, want lists, journal entries, food diaries, etc.)

So we made the trek back to Borders. I went to the information desk to see if anyone had turned it in, while Roy retraced our steps from last night. I was shocked to find that someone had indeed turned in my moleskine! I was ecstatic to hear of this good news, and in my mind, I was thanking this good-hearted stranger profusely.

With moleskine in hand, I headed up the art/photography aisle to look for Roy. I was stopped short by a middle-aged man accompanied by a young boy and a lady (his son and wife, respectively) waving and smiling at me like we were old friends. The guy didn't look familiar at all, so I turned around to make sure there was no one behind me. There wasn't.

Cautiously, I asked, "Are you waving at me?"

Very friendly man (VFM): "Yes, hi."

Me: "Oh! Hi! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude."

Very friendly man's wife: "He just likes to wave at people."

Me: "Oh, okay."

VFM: "Have a good day."

Me: "Okay, thanks. You, too."

It was very odd, but it left me with a good feeling. That encounter combined with finding my moleskine has renewed my faith in the human race.

For today, anyway.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Suddenly I See

twenty years' worth of glasses - $1000 (+ insurance costs)

several pairs of soft contact lenses - $500 (+ insurance costs)

medicine for infections due to soft contact lenses - $50 (+ insurance costs)

co-pay for prescription eye drops for Lasik - $15

Lasik surgery - $3,800

finding out you have 20/15 vision after twenty years of wearing corrective lenses - priceless

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Little Missus in the Hall of Judgment: A Play in Ten Acts

ACT I. May 14, 2006.

Long Suffering Roy (LSR): Leslie, you are the most beautiful woman in the whole world. Even more beautiful than Angelina Jolie. Will you marry me?

Obsessive Compulsive Leslie (OCL): Absofuckinlutely I think we should get married outside and I want you to wear a grey suit and I want to wear a long flowy dress and I want to keep the wedding small and simple do you want to go check out possible wedding sites tomorrow?

LSR: Um, okay.

ACT II. Fall 2006.

OCL: I am a feminist. I have decided to make you pay for the past sins that you crazy lot of males have committed against females. I now refuse to take your name when we get married because I think it is totally unfair and inconvenient to me. I sentence you to a name change. And then I will change my name to your new name because I'm trying to be all innovative and stuff.

LSR: Whatever.

OCL: Huzzah! Victory is mine.

ACT III. June/July 2007.

LSR: I have decided to wait until the last possible minute to change my name because I am bound and determined to inconvenience you, even though we are picking up the marriage license tomorrow.

OCL: Why are our florists so fucking stupid? And why do I have the feeling that something is going to go wrong with our videographer?

LSR: So, about the name change...

OCL: Can we talk about this later? Maybe at a time when I'm not too busy trying not to throw myself out the window?

ACT IV. July 14, 2007.

OCL: Yay, we're married!

LSR: Wanna have sex?

OCL: Please, I'm done with all that. Must bake pies instead.

ACT V. August 8, 2007.

LSR: Your Honor, may it please the court....

Really Stern Judge: Stop that useless drivel, sonny boy. I accept your petition to change your name.

LSR: Hellz yeah!

ACT VI. January 2008.

OCL: I think I'll finally get off my lazy and procrastinating ass and go to the Social Security office to change my name today!

Social Security Clerk: Sorry, we can't do anything. Your marriage license has your husband's old name on it, so we can't change your name to his new one. You'll have to get the marriage license amended. Frankly, it's a stupid name if you ask me. Are you sure you don't want to keep the name you have now?

OCL: Screw you, lady. I guess I'll go to the County Recorder's office and raise hell.

Stupid County Employee: Sorry, I am a useless county employee, and I can't help you at all. As a matter of fact, my brain hurts on a daily basis just from trying to tie my shoes. But if you call the State, they can talk to you about amending your marriage license.

OCL: Okie dokie, I guess I'll call the state office and raise hell.

Stupid Voice Mail: Hi, thanks for calling the totally incompetent state department of incompetency. Please leave a message and we will be sure to never get back to you.

OCL: Hi, I'm OCL. Call me back, yo. Make sure that you don't send me an amendment package, because that would just be too damn easy.

ACT VII. April 2008.

OCL: Dang, I'm tired of waiting for the amendment package from the totally incompetent state department of incompetency. I'm going back to talk to another useless county employee.

Slightly Less Useless County Employee: Okay, here's everything you need to do to get your license amended.

OCL: I think I'm going to just sit on this for a couple of months because that's how I roll.

ACT VIII. June 2008.

OCL: Okay, dammit. I'm really going to do something about this now. I am going to make copies of all this bullshit and send it to be amended tomorrow. I am done procrastinating! I am a brand new me!

Smug Co-Worker: Hey, it says right here online that you cannot amend a name on a marriage license. You'll have to change your name through the courts. Sucks to be you!

OCL: Wow, I spent almost a year waiting on something that I could've found out about online. I love the internetz. Must petition for name change stat.

ACT IX. July 2008.

Money Hungry Clerk: Okay, that'll be $330 for the name change.

OCL: Here you go. It's always fun taking it in the ass.

MHC: I know, right?

ACT X. August 14, 2008:

OCL: Your Honor, may it please the court...

Nice Lady Judge: Please stop that useless drivel. I accept your petition to change your name.

OCL: Holy shit, it's finally over. I have a new name.

LSR: What's your name again?

The End.