Sunday, January 27, 2013

Inspiration: Congested Sunrises

I am a fan of Sunday mornings; they give me time to transition from my swirly, sleepy dreams into reality. I can be slow and deliberate, appreciating every minute. However, most of my mornings are spent stuck in traffic on the Veterans Expressway. It sounds kind of miserable, but thanks to the beautiful Florida weather and clear skies, I've found a way to turn my commute into my transition time.

I roll down the windows in my car, turn on and turn up some great music, and just wait for that moment when I round the corner from a sea of taillights into the perfect Stay Golden, Ponyboy sunrise. They always surprise me because they are ever changing. Everything, like the clouds, the time, and the moon, seems to have an impact and change the colors and patterns. They make me want to paint. They make me hopeful for the day ahead.

Here are a few that I was able to capture:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Break & A Return

I needed a break from the blog.

In August, I signed up for an online writing class. I hoped to get a few things out of the experience: to make some blogging friends, to find a better focus for my blog, and to be inspired to write more. None of this happened. Everyone was so self-focused and so desperate for attention that it was impossible to learn and get much from the experience. I felt more frustrated and isolated than when I started.

I knew that I needed to take a break. I was trying too hard, and knowing that I was only a few days from a vacation, I planned to take a month off to regroup. That month turned into four months.

Looking back, it feels like a lifetime has passed in those four months.  I discovered Gelly Rolls (and did lots of artwork), had a health scare, learned to care for sea life (sea lions kinda rock it), took some chances, reconnected with friends, got manhandled by a beloved 90’s rock star, fell in love (not the rock star, thank you!), made a crime scene for my Halloween costume, flaked out on another photography class, went to some great concerts (Fiona Apple, The Chevin, Lemonheads, Psychedelic Furs, Weezer, & Glen Hansard), discovered how much I hate ukuleles, empty fan club promises, and mean girls, played a lot of guitar, had my heart broken (still recovering), and found myself brimming with love for my family for their love and support.

But now with the new year, I realize that I miss my blog. I miss writing. Even if I’m only writing this as a record for myself, it helps me to process everything going on, so I’m back. I may need a Schmidt re-launch (If you’re not watching New Girl, go watch now!)... I think my theme will be Crazy Happy Optimistic. Hey, sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it.

Here are some photographs and art from the last four months.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Obsessions, Zentangles (sort of), and Mandalas

As part of my online writing class, I have an assignment to think about my obsessions and whether they help or hinder my creative processes. I can think of lots of my obsessions: amazing music, sunny afternoon cat naps on the couch, the beautiful succession of notes on Here Comes the Sun, emotional, character driven movies and TV shows, great books, my new vegan lifestyle... and now I am worrying about how many obsessions, I was able to come up with in a few minutes.

One of the constants throughout my life has been art. I have the fondest memories of digging through boxes of Crayolas, delighting in the color names and making up my own, and of the excitement in smelling all the scents of a brand new box of Mr Sketch markers. For Christmas, my favorite gifts have always been the art sets, paints, special pens, and beautiful sketch pads. I can still get lost for hours in the aisles of an art supply store, picking out supplies and imagining what I can do with them.

When I apply paint to a page, I can imagine what it might turn into and then am always overwhelmed when it turns into something better that I never could have planned. This process gives me peace and distance from of the messier things in life. It gives me room to breathe and process. I believe it is why I've never lost my need and want to draw, paint, and imagine.

Last March, I tried a few Zentangles. I didn't take a class or read a book; I just tried it. I love the concept that there are no mistakes, only creative bursts that lead you in unexpected directions. It is meditative, calming, and a bit addicting.  I don't do it right, and I wasn't trained, but it doesn't take away any of the enjoyment or benefit.

This process reminds me of drawing and coloring mandalas (beautiful, sacred art in Buddhist and Hindu religions). They are meditative and freeing. Apparently, Carl Jung (very famous psychoanalyst) was a fan of mandalas and likened them to a "representation of the unconscious self".  He used them to work and better himself, and I feel like I've been doing the same thing. 

I spent my Sunday playing, and this is what I created:

The Sun:

The Moon:

A Tree:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Random Photograph (+10)

I’m taking an online writing class, hoping to find a blogging groove that I’ve been missing. As an assignment, I needed to pick a photograph and write about it.

This is my Dad at the Columbus airport waiting to board the plane back to Tampa.

In 2010, I took my first trip back to Columbus, my hometown, since I was a teenager. I met my Dad and we spent a long weekend visiting with family and hanging out. It was fun to see how my brother had remodeled the old house, catch up with my sister-in-law, walk the creek with my niece Elise, and play in snow. I don’t typically spend a lot of one-on-one time with my Dad, so it proved to be a fun, bonding weekend.

On our way home, we were early to the airport, so we ate breakfast and walked through an airport history museum. He’s a pilot, so while the changing of runway patterns is fascinating to him, I was exhausted and dreaming of finding a seat in the terminal and relaxing.

I told him I wanted to sit down, but he wanted to walk around. He gave me a hard time, asking me why I wanted to spend three hours (err… like an hour) sitting at the gate when I was going to spend three hours sitting on a plane.

I suggested, probably in one of my bitchier voices, that I could go and he could find me later and then headed off towards the gate. He must have felt some parental protectiveness or responsibility because he followed me. I tried to explain that I was an adult and didn’t need a chaperone, but he sulked along behind me anyways.

Once we were through security, he made a comment about finding a bathroom and disappeared. I called my mom. I understood that it was silly aggravation rooted in both of our needs to be home and to have some personal space, so I found it humorous. My phone call interrupted him on the other line. My mom didn’t say, but I’m sure that he was explaining how stubborn I was being. No denying, it is bred in my Scottish roots.

When he reappeared, he had coffee and a newspaper and sat down beside me. He made small talk and I knew that he wasn’t mad.

Ten minutes later, he was up at the window, watching the planes and people. Too something to be able to sit still. The lighting was all messed up, but I snapped the photograph because it was so him, fidgeting in the light. The shape of him is so distinct that could be no one else. I probably shouldn’t like that we argued over silliness, but I love that the situation lead me to take one of my favorite photographs of him.

These are some more fun photos from the trip:

Now, when I go to visit, my first favorite thing to do is walk along the creek with my niece Elise. It was always my sanctuary, so I am so happy that she loves being down there as much I did. She is such a firecracker, so animated, emotional, and sweet. I love these moments when we get to walk around because she talks me, tells me about everything, and reminds of a lot of good things.

On this particular trip, I was excited because there were a few traces of snow around on the ground. By the next morning, a snow storm had completed covered the whole town. It was beautiful and magical. I even donned 18 layers of clothes and went sledding with Elise and Christopher (my nephew) on Jones's hill. Just like old times.

I can't begin to tell you the number of times on the trip that my Dad asked What the hell are you taking pictures of now? Don't you have enough already? The answer is always no. Actually, I really wish I hadn't been so shy around everyone and had taken more.

As a side note, I'm still mad at people for telling me that beret looked good, but these are great memories... driving around in a snow storm, meeting lifesized corn statues, and eating dinner at Chef-O-Nette.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Broken Mirror

A few months ago on my morning walk, I noticed that a large mirror had been shattered across the road. All superstitions aside, I was intrigued. The sky was especially blue that morning and the reflection in the mirror was incredibly beautiful. I snapped a photo.

A few days later, someone had brushed a big, intact piece of the mirror into the grass.  I enjoyed the way that the blue sky contrasted with the deep greens of the surrounding grass, so I used it to take a self portrait.

A few days ago, I noticed that the broken pieces still remained. It was harder to see because the grass and plants had started to grow up around and break the pieces apart. I liked that it has lived in that spot for so long, untouched by humans, but was starting to be pulled back into the ground by the plants.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Musical Memories

Earlier this year, I read and really enjoyed Rob Sheffield's song-driven autobiography Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. Reading it made me realize that over the last few years, I've used my blog to write my own autobiography. It is not surprising that my story is best told in the form of a mix tape. I associate people, moments, and feelings with music. Upon hearing a song, I am immediately full-bodied back into a moment or feeling. It is my special, sneaky way to time travel through my best memories.

Some of my favorite musical memory posts include connecting with a college friend, the reason I am so crazy about music in cars, sunny days in the grass, and breaking hearts.

With all of my life changes lately, I've been especially emotional; every song seems to flood me with memories, feelings, and nostalgia. These are some of the weirdest, worst songs, but the memories attached to them will make me love them forever.

Brownsville Station - Smokin’ in the Boys Room

Growing up, I lived next door to my grandparents and spent a lot of time with them. With my grandmother, we played games, watched Lassie, and listened to music. She was a huge fan of country music, so I was exposed to an embarrassing amount of Grand Ole Opry at a very early age.

After school, I usually spent the afternoon with my Grandmother. She had a 45 of Brownsville Station’s Smokin’ in the Boys Room tucked away. On special occasions when it was just the two of us together, I'd ask her to play the song. She would always turn the music up loud, and then together we would sing along and dance. I can attribute my unabashed car dancing and singing to those afternoons.

Vanilla Ice - Havin’ a Roni

In fifth grade, I spent tons of time hanging out with my friend Misty. She lived with her grandparents not too far away from my house, so we would walk and meet at the park between our houses or at our elementary school. Her grandparents were strict and didn’t allow music or television in their house, so I'd always bring my boombox.We watched the boys playing little league games or just hung out on the tire swing and listened to music like Salt-n-Pepa, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.

You won't catch me listening to Ice these days, but I remember us trying to discuss and figure out what a roni was. It still makes me laugh.

Paula Abdul - Rush Rush/ Chicago - Hard To Say I’m Sorry

During one of my middle school summers, I was inseparable with my friend Angie. We had this easy, fun friendship where we never fought and had lots of fun hanging out. The summer was filled with sleepovers and lots of music.

When we stayed at her house, we used her sister's CD player to listen to Paula Abdul’s Spellbound. We kept MTV muted in the background in case the Rush Rush video played. We totally lusted lusted after Keanu Reeves.

She also came with my family to Lake Erie on the weekends. We hung out in the park, constantly scanning for boys and trying to memorize all of the lyrics to Bel Biv Devoe’s Do Me remix. At the trailer, she brought lots of tapes and introduced me to country music (Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and Randy Travis) and started a shared obsession with Chicago.

One Saturday, we sat on the front porch of the trailer while she taught me how to shuffle cards. The boy I adored saw us and spent the entire day hanging out. They tried to teach me to play Rummy, we listened to Chicago, and drank pop (that’s soda for all you non-Ohionans). It was a perfect day.

Beck - Loser

While visiting my sister Anissa in Pittsburgh in 1993, we visited a music store where she bought me Beck’s Loser cassingle (that’s a cassette single). We drove around those big, crazy mountainous roads listening to the song over and over again. She had a stick shift, car and I was amazed at how quickly she could shift gears on those hills (I’m still amazed actually). I don’t know if she loved the song as much as me, but we listened to it loud, screamed along the lyrics, and laughed. I think it might have been the same trip that she bought me some Zima. Just the presence of Zima alone proves it was 1993.

The Cure - Boys Don’t Cry/Faith No More - Anne's Song

I only spent a short amount of time in my high school in Columbus, but it was a great time period. My friend John was always really special to me. We hung out in the mornings and between classes, but still each day after school, we talked on the phone for hours. He was always sweet and patient, listening to my 14 year old girl dramas. I appreciated his snarky sense of humor and his ability to be honest without crushing me (I'm still such an emo).

He always teased me about my love of The Cure/Robert Smith, and thanks to him, I can’t listen to Boys Don’t Cry without singing I’m a fat and whiny guy. It still makes me laugh 16 years later. Ugh... I’m old.

One morning in the commons, John and another friend Brett (Chickenboo) approached me and started singing and acting out the lyrics to Faith No More's Anne's Song. I had no idea what it was at the time, but it made me laugh. The whole thing was maybe 30 seconds, but still, whenever I hear that song, I am back in the lunchroom with my heavy maroon book bag on my back, blushing and giggling like an idiot at those sweet boys.

The Outfield - Your Love

One of the cool things about moving to Florida was getting to hang out with my sister Amanda. She lived about 30 mintues away, so I spent countless weekends hanging out at her house. One of our favorite things to do was to go to thrift store shopping. There was a Veteran’s Administration thrift store close to her house where we always found the coolest vintage stuff; mostly, I remember buying chairs and toddler tees to show our midrifs.

One afternoon while driving home, we were listening to Outfield’s Play Deep. I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but she was torturing me by hitting the brakes hard every few feet, which then made me laugh, making it worse.

Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms

In high school, I bonding with Martha over our shared love of The Cure. She’ll tell you it was when I refused to share my pencils with her during the PSATs, but just ignore her.

One summer during college, I worked at the Gap and had the biggest crush on one of my coworkers. Leaving work one day, he hugged me. I was so excited and when I got into my car, I had been listening to an 80’s mix tape and Cutting Crew’s (I Just) Died In Your Arms was blaring. In my immature, crush silly brain, it felt so perfect, so I told Martha about it. To this day (aka last weekend), she still laughs at me for it .

In honor of the joke, we recorded a video of the two of us singing the song. It lived on my website for years, but somewhere in the process, I lost it. The song still reminds me of the joke.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Photo Booths

Some of my favorite photos ever were taken in photo booths. There is something about four quick shots that  keeps people from over thinking and leaves them less self conscious. The photos are usually funny and animated. It captures golden moments of people's personalities.

I'm currently taking an online writing class, which I'm using to focus on improving my blog. In some ways, I want to find my way back to those emotional, rambling, silly posts that I used to write when I started this thing. There is something irrational and lovely about writing about Pacey Witter and Fall while quoting Yates. 

Anyway, one of my first tasks was to update my About Me page. The text was easy, but I struggled over a photograph to use. I put together a collage of different photos through out my life, but it just didn't feel right right on the page.

At my friend Martha's 80's party last week, we were playing around with Incredibooth (a photo app that mimics a photobooth), which was a complete blast. I played with the app tonight, dug through some older shots I had taken, and then photochopped the following together. It was fun, and I kinda dig it on the page. What do you think?

As a side note, and the first photo is my cat Xander photobombing me. He kept putting his paw on my face, which was cracking me up. The moment was too funny, so I had to include it.