Monday, May 16, 2016


Names have been changed to protect the innocent...well, the slightly guilty, but we're spinning it as innocence...maybe the better word is the fact that I'm telling their stories...anonymously. 

Dear Life,

Craigslist is a scary place. Personal ads. Political venting. Weird, vague ads that may or MAY NOT be what you had in mind. I had a friend who bought bunk beds off of Craigslist once...bunk beds. Really. How dangerous could that be? Apparently VERY. Especially when your children break out with crazy bites from bugs that hid in the crevices of said bunk bed set. Ugh...makes me want to dip my laptop in bleach just thinking about it. 

I know that things in my life are super busy, but I always decide (DECIDE) that I need to add a little more chaos to the mix. You know, for fun. And to make things more interesting. So, puppies. Not puppY. PuppIES. Yes, that is plural. Yes, that means more than one. Yes, crazy. Yes, deliberate. 

#must love dogs
I have this weird animal magnetism thing. It's kind of been an annoyance in my family. I should be terrified of them because of a rogue accident injury when I was 3, but the truth is I completely love dogs. I've been raised with dogs. My boxer bulldog mix (Max the destroyer) died last July. It took a LONG while to get past that. Well, mostly get past it. I think a part of me will never get over it. When we reached the part where we thought we were ready to have a dog again I started looking with shelters. We actually adopted a dog from a local shelter - went through the process of the home inspection, etc...and then the poor dog just couldn't adjust. And by that, I mean that he tried to bite a bunch of people. No can do. Especially with kids. We just weren't the right family for him...although, truth be it told, I don't know who/what scenario would be right for that kind of dog. Stress and adjustment, I completely can roll with. Biting - not so much. 

#call me, maybe
I didn't want to go the route of a puppy mill. I don't need a purebred dog. Max the destroyer was a mix and he was beautiful, smart, well-natured. I started looking in the weird recycler/penny saver ads where the listings are super vague because to get the almost free ad, you can only have like 5 words. "Dog. Cheap. Ventura. Call 888-8888." Mainly because I don't have the time to call mystery numbers to hash out if there's a remote possibility of interest, I moved on. Craigslist became the next step in finding. Craigslist similarly has weird, imaginatively spelled, but consistently vague ads...but my favorites almost always have something like 'must be real.' Or 'must not be a time-waster.' lol. 'k. I totally know what they mean, but the literal take on those phrases creates, for me, mostly comical, ridiculous imagery. Not that I need a whole lot of help to get there on my own, but that's not the point.

#the dealer
I found a simple ad for boxer/lab mix puppies. Locally. I made an appointment by email to meet the puppies and see if anything clicked. I know what you're thinking, "riiiight. "MEET" Good luck with that." But for serious, I wanted to be sure before I took one home. I've been through enough shelters, etc. and didn't feel that pull. I met Jones in a McDonald's parking lot in the back by the drive through. It almost felt like a drug deal. Maybe I should have had someone go with me. Don't worry - I had someone tracking me. I let 5 people know where I was going. But it was funny - he drove what looked to be an unmarked cop car. Only, there was a large bin in the back seat with 5 black/brownish and white labs in it...and it was over. I had to get two...because having one alone during the day while we're all at school and work is sad. Because teaching a dog that they're biting too hard is often a hit or miss...but when they're playing with each other - the message comes across loud and clear. The companionship was the main idea. And the fact that I loved them both. So there. 

#padding, please
Puppies are really, REAAALLLY like caring for human newborns. I mean, I was SUPER lucky. My own babies/children slept through the night almost immediately and were fairly easy. Having two baby dogs is like having infant twins. I find us saying things like, 'Shhhh!! You'll wake the puppies!' or 'Oohh, I need to change that." Or, 'do you think they're hungry?' I also get to experience the mid-night care involved. I am summoned to get up at 12, at 2, at 4 to clean dog poop tracked all over the bathroom floor - thank you for almost howling to get me up to take care of this. Can I tell you? Puppy pads. Brilliant. I love them. They're like floor diapers. Yesterday, when the puppies ACTUALLY used them of their own accord, it was like winning the lottery. For reals. Celebratory shouts and all. Even a few tears. Even dropping to knees to thank the heavens above. AND this morning, I was going to get up to run at an ungodly hour before my day started...I second-thought it. Because going into the bathroom to brush my teeth and pull up my hair (NECESSARY) would wake the puppies. And they need their sleep. They're growing dogs. There's also something singularly sweet about having a tiny bitty super soft baby animal all curled up by your heart. It makes me all melty. AND now they're starting to recognize their names...and that makes me possessive-like. MY puppies. MINE. 

I feel lucky - lucky that my Craigslist experience was relatively uneventful. I don't know that I would look for bedding or shoes or a potential date from that resource, or even recommend it to others in search of such this particular case, I can just be grateful that it was a total find...and that I am completely in love with what I got. :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

#lifehacks, no I mean like hacking, like coughing...

Dear Life,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you, most sarcastically, for the illness with which you so charmingly bestowed upon me for the last two weeks and counting. Sickness is about as fun as sitting motionless on the the worst a car that has no air conditioning...with a passenger who is loud, sweaty, needs to floss and smells like old chili, but doesn't know it. There's only so long that you can be amenable with the mentioned circumstances before you really badly just want to push the car over the Hollywood sign, or lay into the passenger (from a distance, please) about simple logistics relative to hygiene. But having a cold, and then the flu, and then strep (and other fun sinus infections simultaneously) is not fun, nor fair, nor equitable. And this vicious strain of illness, Life!?! It just won't let a girl go! It grips ambitiously to any weakness in bronchioles that lead to alveoli (part of the lungs), or remote propensities for a throat to become infectious. I don't need to give the boyfriend-who-doesn't-want-to-let-go analogy, Life. You should get this pretty quickly and easily without my gnashing of teeth or wringing of hands - even though it's amusing to watch. Bottom line? Boo, Life. Just boo.

Did you know, Life, that like, 4 people in my office also succumbed to your ruthlessness? We're going to install a lysol tent at the entrance of our building. All employees, visitors, EVE.RY.ONE. will have to walk through it and be sprayed/hosed to limit/hopefully completely eliminate/no, violently dissolve in an invasive fashion the spread of communicable viruses/germs/microbials. Yay for email, because if we actually had to talk to each other face to face, it would be like the toy bin at a preschool - we'll pass those germs here and over there and everywhere - but for wretched, definitely unwelcome colds. I actually wrapped my door knobs with tape. And I am going to wear a face mask and gloves when I go into my management meeting. Because I'm sick of being sick! It's wearying. And annoying. And expensive - thank you EVERY KNOWN DRUG for coughs and flus and sinus pressure that makes you want to cry. Ugh - illusive. And feeling like you've been hit by a truck is only amusing in theory. All those remedies that vaguely promised poor liver.

Yay for technology and being able to work from home for the last two weeks in pajamas. When my codine-laced cough syrup (that was supposed to make my throat NOT feel like I had swallowed a bottle brush) kicked in, it was nice to pretty much pass out, and come-to a couple hours later, and not miss too much. I think my work-peeps appreciated that payroll still happened despite not sitting in my chair, and not being in my office. Yay for my sidekick, Ham, who made sure I was connected even though I was way out there.

Yay for my kid who is currently home-schooled, who would peek his head in every so often to ask if there was anything that I needed. Yay for his compassion and hospitality. Yay for the orange tree in our back yard that magically produced a glass of tart deliciousness. I have no idea who did it for me, it just appeared between my periods of black-out.

Yay for past episodes of Criminal Minds. Yay for kleenex with lotion in it. Yay for watermelon. Yay for my mom giving me a super soft blanket that made me feel cozy but not suffocated. Yay for my friend who brought me delicious chicken soup. Yay for my man who would let me talk to him about geography and weird curiosities for hours on end because I accidentally took a day-time flu relief pill instead of a night-time flu relief pill - you know, the one that would have made me comatose for 10 hours...whoops. Let's talk about Holland! Achoo. Poor man.

So, dude, Life - I think I've met my quota for sickness for a LONG while. Can't we do sickness like jury duty - at maximum once a year - and I may miss for a few years while other people take their turn? That would better, I think. And more efficient. Just think it over.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016, really...I pose people. that's my job.

Dear Life,

Now that the holidays are over and I finally put the stockings away (YESTERDAY), I can come back to some humorously ironic sense of normalcy. Humorous AND ironic in a sense that only a primarily single mother of 3 children-who works more than full time-and is finishing a second graduate degree-and has a photography business-and is trying to get a music career off the ground would readily understand. But I know you feel me, life.

So, speaking of photography business, let's talk photo gigs (as this will nicely segue into my rant)...service oriented professions CAN be wonderfully gratifying. I mean, being privy to a front-row view of major life events, or even capturing real-time memories...pfff...there's nothing like it. It's also a tremendous responsibility. And getting paid to make art from nouns that can transform into something that shows unique beauty is flat amazing. The flip side is that in some cases, sometimes, generally, people are/can be a little crazy, a touch inconsiderate, and flat out not so nice...I won't even touch the bridezilla topic, other than to say yes, I've totally worked with them...and no, I'd really rather not again in the future.

#art for minimum wage
I think it positively HILARIOUS (in a harshly sarcastic way) that people are (more than once) under the mistaken impression that photographers 1) are obligated to take their event. And then think, 2) that said photographer must discount that time. I've had a handful of people over the years who have tried to wheel and deal the photography aspect of their event like they were buying a car. It's crazy. Ask yourself what you would like to be paid if you were spending anywhere between 4 to 8 hours on-site, only then to have to go home, upload, sort, edit, and post all of the images you've collected...for EACH job. What would your time be worth? What would your end product be worth? Perhaps you would reconsider offering your photographer $10 an hour. Don't get me wrong, there are a TON of peeps with cameras out there who think they've got an eye and can do what a professional does. I'm certain they would be stoked for the/any opportunity. But I also can guarantee that you will very much get/not get what you pay for.

#it's an investment in memories
Life, there's not a fellow respected photographer that I've ever met that doesn't spend deliberate, dedicated time processing, reviewing, even editing (for their client's sake, even if the client didn't pay for retouching - they just do it because it improves the overall), before they turn those images around. For a work-intensive project (like a wedding, or senior photos, or portraits, or, or, or...), it adds up to HOURS of work before you receive a site link or an appointment for a viewing. A SEASONED photographer goes for at LEAST $100/hour for a shoot. That's a per-hour minimum. That's someone who is has a candid/photojournalistic style. Someone that is more fashion-photography oriented will go for much higher depending on the experience and effort that they pour into your project. Some will/won't charge for travel time (depending on the location), but you should know that this whole process is their livelihood. Photographers are generally IN the business because they love to do it. But these hours matter. And they will work to make sure that they capture and create something that will take you back to those exact moments every time you glance at that photograph.

#the help? huh?
Some people also will treat photographers like they're sub-human...which is ridiculous. You WANT us to catch great moments, right? When you treat us like we're less...well, it may coincidentally happen that you end up with lots of photos of your guests with their mouths full, or blinking, or whatever. Not really. A professional will be annoyed by it, but will totally maintain. Even if we want to give you an album full of blinks and oopses in reply to your poor attitude. We may just save those photos for ourselves to giggle later. Not that I've done that...right?

#that's stealing
Despite all of this (wait, I'm saving my last peeve for last, but this is a good one), it's APPALLING that people think they can steal work! Ever had a photograph with a watermark that was on a website mysteriously appear on facebook in a weird cropped format that was clearly taken by a cell phone from a computer? Scandalous. If you made a deal with the photographer, they would probably allow you the rights to use fully on facebook. But come on. If you haven't paid for the work, it's not yet yours.

OKOKOK, I know you're saying that some photographers are REALLY expensive and I just really wanted that ONE image and and and. NO. There are THOUSANDS of photographers that are out there are are reasonably priced. Some will ask you what your budget is to see if they can work something out. If you have a relative, they may even do it for less. And if you have a friend who is a photographer, they may do it just because they love you. MAYBE. But that's for them to decide. I've given plenty a session as senior gift, or the like. It DOESN'T mean that I will do it for every client. (Some one that was referred was annoyed that I quoted her full price. Her friend had only paid "this" much. I had never met this person, didn't have a working relationship with them, but I had the referrer as a long time client.) I've also discounted work because people will allow me to use their images on my site as portfolio work. I've also have photographers discount their work because I've advertised for them by way of a blog, etc. There is an honest way to use work that is not yours. Get permission. Work it out. Just don't pirate images from the little guy. That $10K that you agreed to/invested in for your wedding - that's paying for a mortgage, for braces, for a family to's paying that photographer to pour their heart into their work and give you something remarkable. Don't think they have a gig like that every day. And be respectful of that contribution. Again, if it was yours, how would you react?

#magic camera
So, I think the most common funny is when people comment on my camera. In the following context: "Wow, that's such a beautiful picture! That must be some camera!" Yep. Yep, it's COMPLETELY my camera. My camera just magically creates art when I click this little button thingey on the top. Never mind that I've been handling an SLR since I was 11. Never mind that I've been professionally shooting and in the market for the last 15. Nope - thank mercy and heaven that I have a good camera! That's like someone making the most exquisite dinner and someone correlating the result to the quality of the oven. Wow, that must be SOME oven. Yah.

The truth is that someone could have the BEST CAMERA ON THE PLANET and still take shoddy, non-descript pictures. A camera is a tool/instrument. What makes it work and create results is the talent/skill/ability of the operator. Think of it in a cooking perspective: when, say, Bobby Flay uses a pan, HE works it. When a novice uses the same pan, for the same dish, it may have some noted variations or results. The pan in and of itself cannot make a dish, only aid in the the means. It's the same concept with a camera. Likewise, a master could create amazing results with a point and shoot, or even an insta-matic, and for fun, sometimes photographers do. It alters perspective. It limits some aspects of the process, but the challenge is good for growth and thinking outside of the box.

Case in point, I did a photo gig for my company. I took some manufacturing-esque photographs of items totally unique to our shop. People off of the street would not recognize some of these items, in fact many of them have an abstract feel to them, but employees walking through the plant know what they are - handle them every day. This was an artistic expression of these, sometimes mundane, articles that were posed in a different light...and noticed through this medium. I had them blown up and then it was decided to have them installed all over the facility. And that comment came out, "Wow, that must be some camera." Not really. I used my iPhone to take the images. And not a fancy 6S. My little, non-spectacular 5 series. Maybe I just got the magically-special iPhone.

 Do you think somewhere there's also a computer that will draft my work for me, or shoes that can run for me, or where can I pick up that stove that makes my dinner for me?? That would be greeeeeeat.

Say cheeeeeeese,