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Archive for June, 2013

High Notes

I’m headed out into the rain for an impromptu photo shoot. I’ll be going to Bernheim Forest- beautiful place. I’m not satisfied with the shadows vs. highlights in my pics- I think I need to drop my AP and increase my ISO- I want heavy blacks. Yeah, these are the things that I ponder much of the time. :0) 

I received a super special email from my Health Psychology instructor; it made me cry. It said:

For assignment three; 
Your work continues to be excellent.  Your answers to each item were complete, supported, reasonable, and demonstrated understanding of the key concepts.  It appears your absorption of the health related information will not only help you but, as an example and source of information, those whom you affect personally and/or in your career.  It is a pleasure to have such a capable student.

 

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Homeless man wanders off with Josh’s change, and his booze.
Louisville, KY- 50 MM/natural lighting/manual

 

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Hell Week x 3

The heat is making us all a little crazy. It’s 86 degrees in this place.

“How do you feel about being cremated, mom?” Brianna asked me nonchalantly.

“Is that what you want? To be cremated?” I asked her.

“Being buried is one of the most vile things you can to to another human being. They drain your blood, fill you with embalming fluid, and stuff cotton in all of your holes.”

“They stuff cotton in all of your holes?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, there’s a Scripture that says we’ll return to the dust. I think that’s a commandment, not a request,” I said. “Do they really stuff cotton in all of your holes?” I asked again.

She said something else but my mind wandered off to thoughts of me, lying on a cold table with bits of cotton hanging out of my holes. Not that I would feel it at all.

“And I don’t want a funeral,” she continued.

“So you’d rather be burned up?” I asked her.

“I don’t want a funeral either,” I said. “Actually, I’ve left that up to Heidi. She’ll do what she wants with me.”

We sat quietly and reflected on the possibilities.

‘”Oh damn! Where did I put my mother?!'” I said to Brianna, mimicking Heidi.

“No,” Brianna said, ” she would pick up a homeless man with you in the back seat. He would be like, ‘What’s in the back?’ And she would be like, ‘ My dead mother,'” said Brianna, sitting upright with a no-nonsensical far away look, pretending to be Heidi.

I laughed as I pictured Heidi toting my cold body halfway across the city, picking up transients along the way- pushing bags and shoving heavy body parts to make more room.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” I said to Brianna. “God forbid, if you should go before me, I’ll honour your request and have you cremated. I give you my word.”

She seemed appeased.
I got up to make noodles.

Josh and I were up at the buttcrack of dawn, as Heidi puts it, praying and getting ready to start our day. We went for a “coffee walk” at 9:00 a.m. which lasted for 20 minutes or so. We’re planning a chamomile tea-walk this evening. We’ve been working relentlessly on our schoolwork since this morning (squeezing in a doctor trip in between classes). I’m so glad Josh and I are both in school simultaneously; we’re a great support system for one another. We know when to put extra pressure on each other and when to tell the other to take a break.

The next three weeks will no doubt be the most academically challenging thing I’ll have ever done. I have no earthly idea how I’m going to do everything I’ve scheduled. It’s shocking to think about. My schedule looks like this:

June 12-Wednesday

Study for Midterm Exam in Earth Science/Take Midterm Exam
Math 2.5 & 2.6
Health Psychology Unit 3
Read Public Speaking Chap 7

June 13-Thursday

Take Math Quiz 2.4-2.6
Read Chapter 10 Earth Science
Read Public Speaking Chap 8

June 14-Friday

Take Earth Science Test 10
Do remaining Assignments in Earth Science
Read Public Speaking Chap. 9

June 15-Saturday

Public Speaking ALL DAY
Do # 3 Public Speaking Written Assignment
Take next EXAM in Public Speaking
Prepare for next 4 speeches

And that’s just the next few days.
Each chapter of each course covers 30-40 pages.

The remainder of the month is staggering. I’m fairly certain that after I graduate, I’ll be working on my B.A. in Sociology and a double minor in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Lots of fun in store for me!

I have so little time now; I’m off to compose a 5 page Health Psychology assignment, read another chapter in Public Speaking and do 25 (more) pre-calculus problems- that will be 50 total for the day. That will add up to over 200 math problems in just the past few days, apart from my other courses.

Time to get cracking.

Au revoir!

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The Fine Art of Picking up Strange Black Men

 

I remember driving in Lousiville, Ky one night. It was summer, loud, stereos were bumping- it was a Saturday night and I was out and about in the bad side of town trying to track down my BFF at the time, Olivia; a large black woman with a brood of kids and grandchildren she’d raised. Olivia is pure gold in my eyes. We met in a homeless shelter. I had been standing along the wall “people watching” and suddenly, a burst of music rolled into the room: Olivia was laughing and dancing and spinning around- completely entertained- with a boom box on her shoulder. She was larger than life! I smiled and knew I had to meet her. 

We talked after some time and realized we immediately liked each other. We spent the next few weeks hanging out together and passing time- smoking weed out back with many of the residents there. One day, I returned to the shelter and Olivia was gone. They told me she’d gotten her own place.  So is the life at a homeless shelter; people come and go- you have to get used to that. Some you see later, some you never see again. It teaches you to love people hard while you have them and let go quickly. That was worked into me many years ago. 

As life would have it, I ended up moving into her neighborhood just a few weeks later. For the next three years we were virtually inseparable. She helped me through some very dark times and I gleaned so many good things from her. I have a very special love for that woman. And a high respect. 

After some time, we both moved out and we lost contact with each other. I had made up my mind on that particular Saturday night that I would track her down. Very much like a gypsy or nomad, I’ve traveled as a wanderer in this world. Nothing has held me back. Being poor certainly hasn’t. If anything, it’s been a catalyst.

But on that night, I set out in my car purposefully driving to the bad end of town. I knew Olivia had moved to the next state over in Kentucky, so I cross the bridge and drove into downtown Louisville. It was a hot, muggy night.

As I headed deeper into the back parts of the city, I popped open an beer, lit up a smoke and turned up the radio. (Back in those days, it was standard to find me driving with a beer nestled in between my legs- a joint or two always close by. A lot has changed since then!)

People stood out on the corners, openly dealing drugs. They knew others knew what they were doing- didn’t care. Cops rarely bothered the little fish anyway. As I was pulling up to a red light, I saw a black guy standing on the corner. I don’t know what grabbed me about him, but something did. Let’s say, it was destiny.

“Hey, you need a ride, man?” I asked him.

“Yeah, yeah…” he said and he hopped in the car.

Now this isn’t the wisest of things to do, no doubt- pick up a black guy I don’t know in the bad part of town. But at that time, I really didn’t care. I was governed by my instincts and driven with a purpose. I had no idea what my purpose was half the time, but I new that I needed to do what I was doing and that’s all I knew.

“Where ya going to, man?”

“My mother’s house,” he said. 

We chitchatted briefly and he told me his story. He had been excommunicated from his family some years before. They had given up on him and pretty much cast him out. I felt really bad for the guy. He went on to tell me that he had only just decided to go and see his mother on that very night, and was in fact pondering the decision when I picked him up. I felt honoured that he would include me in that. Totally. 

We bonded immediately. I may have even smoked a joint with him. It’s no big secret that I was a total stoner back then. I smoked 1 to 3 joints every day for 18 years. As a matter of fact, “stoner” is putting it mildly. My Dad had the best stuff for miles and everybody knew it. He was known for that and so I never lacked for good weed. It’s no wonder I ended up being an artist in life. Weed does that. I know everybody thinks it’s so “bad” and it’s a gateway drug and all kinds of other things that they’ve been taught to believe, but I will always be an advocate for marijuana and a person’s right to smoke it. I just don’t smoke it myself anymore and haven’t for years but I’m strongly for it, if the person and the circumstances are agreeable- let’s put it that way. 

Moving right along, we eventually made it to his mother’s house. I thought we would say our goodbyes right there but he invited me to come along. Wow. He hasn’t seen his mom in years, and is hoping to be reintegrated back into the family unit and now he’s going to bring a stoned white girl with him who picked him up on the corner. Ok!

We stood outside on the porch and I stole a few glances in his direction. Even stoned, I could see a lot. He was hopeful and meek. I really like that guy. That took guts.

The door opened and a small woman stood before us, small in stature but full of expression and total shock. My mind plays it as if it’s in slow motion- her mouth, open with shock- she was yelling and mumbling and screaming to somebody else that their man had come back. I don’t remember his name now. It was 18 years ago.

She ushered us inside and we followed her to a back room where a woman lay in bed. I sat down quietly on the side of a chair and tried to disappear. I could hardly believe I was there and I felt a bit like I was in a movie. The woman in bed was his mother, who immediately cried upon seeing her son. They embraced and he crawled right up next to her and they just held each other and cried together. 

I have absolutely no idea how we got on the subject but they found out that I sang and was a songwriter. What happened next can only be described as something so bizarre that it now seems more like a dream than a memory, but I sang. I sang A Capella, a song that I had written, a song about Jesus. Four strangers sat in the room there- eyes fixed on me- in a semi-petrified state, mouths slightly open. They felt honoured that I would sing for them. I was honoured that they let me.  

I sang from my heart and sang especially for that mother and son. It was one of those rare moments in life that you know has been brought together- orchestrated by God even- that will never happen again: A true once in a lifetime moment. 

The mother cried again and thanked me repeatedly for bringing back her son. I was especially emotional because at that time, I was separated from my own two children who the system had taken from me years before. It brought me great comfort that I could reunite a mom with her son like that, and I cried too.

I hugged them all and made my way back to my car alone. I smiled all the way home.

“You’re awesome, God,” I said, smiling, tears still in my eyes.

He smiled too.

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Prelude to a Photo Walk

I’m supposed to be house cleaning. I cut a deal with Josh- he would clean the back part of the house and I’ll clean the kitchen, etc. He’s living up to his half- no wait- I hear metal clinking outside around his moped area. Hmm…I may have been outfoxed.

We’re going to go on a photo walk today in downtown Old Louisville (Kentucky), home of the Kentucky Derby. It’s an interesting place- a mixing pot. Old, young, poor, wealthy, strange artists (my favourite kinds of people ever), and an array of collective and colourful personalities. We’re going to park in Indiana and walk over the bridge, into Kentucky, have a beer, grab a bite- shoot some people.

With the camera, of course. 🙂

Damn. I’m really going to have to stop with the smilies. It’s ruining my tougher than nails image.

Anywho, we’re lounging about cleaning the house at the moment. Josh starts school soon too. Back when he was here before and we were having major problems, I sort of…smashed his computer. It’s shameful, I know. I was raging at the time and livid about what he was doing online. (As if smashing the computer would help.)

Now, he’s starting school and desperately needs a computer. Although we’ve settled our financial differences and have squared things up, he’s still without a computer so, I did what I had to do and sold my Lensbaby. Ouch. That hurts just typing that. I also sold my swap kit- which was an additional 4 lens set. There’s just no way I could feel good about having my luxurious toys while he suffered. So, I don’t regret it at all- it was the right thing to do. I still have my 18 MP. DSLR and my 50 MM 1.8 (my personal fave). It’s enough.

I feel good knowing that I’ve made retribution and have given Josh enough money to be able to get his computer and book access code. I think I’ve learned a pretty good lesson in all of this. Leave the man alone! Let him breathe and be a person apart from me, even if that means doing something that I deem “bad”. For me, that’s huge.

We went out for drive yesterday to Lexington, Indiana and had a really good time. We took a turn down a long country road and followed a sign that announced “fresh strawberries”. It was like a wild Utopia. The clouds were semi-overcast and casting a cool, grey glow over everything. Almost like golden hour lighting- that pre-storm lighting, which to me is the best ever, and the best for HDRs.

Large thistles grew out of thick stalks in the ground on either side of the road. Although they were deep purple and quite beautiful, I found them even lovelier in black and white:

Image50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual/RAW

I have an abundance of shots taken from yesterday but haven’t had time to get to them. I’ve discovered the beauty of shooting in RAW again. Makes a big difference with image quality.

Josh just pulled up on his sugar-cycle. (I’ve renamed his moped- he does store runs late at night because we’re sugar freaks and consume large amounts of candy while watching Locked Up Abroad late into the night like we did last night.)

And now I have to get back to cleaning. We’re off on a photo walk soon and my regret is that I don’t have a super-wide to shoot with. All of those old architectural jewels in downtown Louisville and I only have my 50 MM. UGH. (Must get a 10-20 soon.)

thistle copy

50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual

(The strawberries were delicious, by the way.)


Praying Down the Rain

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“Oh my goodness, I have a screaming migraine and it’s that time of the month. Is there anything else worse than that for a woman?” I asked.

“Is there anything worse than that for a man?!” Josh answered.

He has a valid point.
I knew it was too good to be true that I wouldn’t get a migraine, especially after mentioning it only yesterday. I awoke this morning with a skull-crushing migraine. it’s 1:15 a.m. and it’s now been almost 24 hours (straight) that I’ve had this. And that’s with pain medication. After several years of battling these things, you really do learn to live with them. I shop, cook, clean, write, do schoolwork- I do everything with a migraine and there really are no words to describe the pain. “Intense” just doesn’t do it and keep in mind that I chose to give birth to 3 children “naturally”, so I would know a thing or two about serious pain. This pain is far worse than childbirth. I didn’t cry or scream when I gave birth to my children. I went in like a soldier- no baby stuff! (Well, ok, “baby stuff” but no “sissy stuff”.) When I delivered my oldest daughter, Heidi, the woman down the hall was screaming her head off. I politely asked the nurse to ask her if she could be a bit quieter because she was distracting me. (Yep, true story, I’m afraid.)

My point is that I believe in “mind over matter”. I went in believing I could control my own pain during childbirth and I certainly did, or at least I psyched myself out to believe that I didn’t have to yell or scream or fall apart during it. (It worked.) So yes, I can take some massive pain. These migraines are no joke! I cry. Lots. I can’t liken it to any other pain I’ve ever known. Because this kind of pain comes with nausea, so it’s not enough that you feel as if your head is being sawn in half (from the back) but also, you get the added benefits of feeling like you’re going to barf continuously. Without ceasing. For 24 and 48 hours straight. It’s there when you go to sleep and it’s there when you wake up and it turns your dreams into night terrors.

Barfing and babies and pain and stuff really does have something to do with praying down the rain. That’s coming up.

In all of this pain, I can be grateful that my prayers were answered. I was in the kitchen yesterday and was so hot and miserable. I said a little prayer: “God, please let it cool down. Send the rain, Lord,” I said. And that was it. No big prayer meeting. It was said in one breath and with little after thought.

I woke up this morning and immediately was surprised. It was almost cold in the room! I looked out the window and the sky was grey and congested. My prayers had been answered, speedily. But it seems I traded in my “speed dial” prayer for a heavy dose of pain. I got the cool air and the rain, but my head was a total mess.

I remember a time when it was raining torrentially and Josh and I were helping a friend move. I was in a pickup truck and there was nobody around.

“God, could you hold off the rain so we can get this stuff moved?” I asked.

It didn’t rain for almost two months afterwards. We had one of the biggest droughts we’d had in years. And another time, I was walking home with a few bags of groceries. Not sure what the car story (or lack of it) was at the time, I just remember walking about a mile or so in the rain. No picnic.

“Lord, please make the rain stop.” And that was all I said. It stopped within the next 2 minutes. I could hardly believe it.

So yes. Now we have rain.
My head is screaming so badly at the moment. I have to go and lie down. The pain is reaching the “maddening” stage and I feel like I could smash glass. 24 hours of relentless pain is right up there with torture. I’m simply exhausted.

The peppermint tea is a small comfort.
Josh made homemade chicken soup.
That was a huge comfort.

🙂

Time to collapse.