I’m in a ridiculously good mood: I just found out that I made the Dean’s List again this semester. SO stoked. In the past, I wanted to make the Dean’s List solely for bragging rights (I can admit to that), but now, I have to make the Dean’s List or there’s no going forward. When I begin working on my Master’s degree- just around the corner- there’ll be no such thing as “making a C”. If you receive a C in psychology at the Master’s level, you’re automatically expelled from the program. Yep; anything less than a B- and you’re considered a failure. So, I set the bar really high for myself every semester because I have to. But my semester’s finally over, and I have until July 7th to relax and enjoy my summer (and work on my photography & art). It’s OVER! 🙂
I’ve got until Sunday to cover 400 pages- midterms. [Insert scream here!]
Midterms (and finals) are always so much freaking pressure! I’m still at a B+ in Behavioral Neuroscience and a strong A in Cognitive Psychology, but any ole way you slice it- midterms are crazy. I find myself using straight up avoidance (which is actually worse than denial, because at least with denial, you’re not always aware that you’re in denial, but with avoidance, it’s sort of like knowing you’re in denial and choosing to do so anyway- and yes, I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a psychologist!) and so it’s Friday night and I’m down to the wire.
What am I doing? Installing Still Life II. I actually get to be the detective and the abducted person who’s trapped in the psycho serial killer’s booby trap-laden house (think : “Saw”).
Avoidance. Utter, blatant avoidance.
But fun! 🙂
And this is for you, Gav. I know you’ve been down lately, and you’re not feeling much inspired, but I want you to know just how much you inspire me. I have so much respect for you because over the past 8 years or so that I’ve known you (originally from Redbubble) but here too these past few years, you go out – day after day- and shoot nothing but black and white/monochrome. Street scenes, people- life. And, you have a prominent talent with shadows and lighting- which I love. I’ve only shared this with one other person, but I’ve decided to devote an entire year- all of 2015- to solely black and white/monochromatic photography. No colour allowed! For an entire year. it’s going to be great. 🙂 So, while you feel “blah” lately, please know that your work and talent continues to inspire others. This is for you:
…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!
And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.
Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂
I don’t know how much longer I can do this school thing. Many of my friends are now applying for residencies- Bell, a brilliant writer has just applied to a writer’s residency in a remote fishing village in the Arctic Circle and another friend just got back from her residency in a remote rural area in Southern Iceland. I could probably list 50 others (no, seriously) right off the top of my head who are flying here and there and working hard on their exhibitions. They’re truly amaaaaaazing people and I’m really getting to the point to where I miss the crap out of them! It’s more than that. When you form a bond with a tight group of artists- for years- you come to know each other so well. And, you become a cycle of flowing water, each watering the other and eventually, you’re not even “you” any more but hundreds of other people- all reflecting one another.
Because of the hardships that have smacked me down over the past few months, I’ve had to put off my schoolwork until the last minute. I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Now, I’m facing 30 assignments in two combined classes and my deadline is March 7th. Am I screwed, or what?!
I have the resources to take a year off. I won’t have any extra money, but I would be able to minimally pay my bills and rent, buy food, but not much more. I’m not ready to jump into a “career”, socially speaking, not until I finish school, and so I’ve been in this tailspin for quite some time. My complaints are still the same. I want to do so many things with my art and music: I simply can’t as long as I’m in school.
And school is choking the living daylight out of me. Sure, I’m accomplishing small goals, always. But my bigger ones are drying up, such as, making a music CD, doing more school readings with my book- guh. I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Tonight, I’m supposed to work on my assignments, but I have to hook up with my art peeps and reconnect.
I can’t believe it’s March and there’s this much snow on the ground.
My red wine awaits. I have to take a freaking break before I blow a gasket.
I’ll be back…
Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:
a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)
Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.
I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.
- Go into the light!
Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
- Embrace your flaws
As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s natural. Guys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
- Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
- Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
- Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.
There you have it.
So I just received my second rejection. The first was from the Beliot Poetry Journal (which was really sweet of the editor to tell me that although they were going to pass on my “self-confessional PSYCH ward poetic experience” he’s glad I’ve survived all of the things I’ve been through- haha…love that) and the second was from The New Yorker- a different poem entirely.
I won’t lie. The first one stung. Like a bee. Right in the head. (Obviously, it hit the ego more than the heart, but at least I’m aware of this.) What, I have an ego? YES. I frikking have an ego! Guh…it gets old. I’m fairly certain any artist, musician, or writer knows damn well what I’m talking about. There’s a fine line between wanting to share your art and wanting to feed your ego: this is the truth and it’s how it is. As artists, we like to dress things up like that old beast just doesn’t exist and we simply “are driven to create!” but what drives us? If we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that at least sometimes, it’s the ego. If we’re in denial, we’ll say, “it’s just something I feel I have to do!” (Etc.)
So, there’s always that battle: self vs. art vs. self and striving to be more than simply wanting to get that little stroke that pushes you to your next piece. This is what I’m always thinking of when I submit new art somewhere: what am I searching for? Simply sharing this piece? What is my message? Am I imparting enough of myself in this piece so that people can feel it? I need to be saying something. Yes, the “praise” and the feedback come with the territory- that does feel like a warm, squishy blanket of “acceptance”- sure it does, but I want to know that I’m making an impression on somebody and adding something- no matter how small- to their lives, or the way they think, see, and feel.
Which brings me back to rejection. As in, “rejected by editors”. Maybe I’m a bit of a sadist, but I’m celebrating being rejected. Yes, I’m serious! I was rejected from the New Yorker,-come on…it’s The New Yorker for crying out loud. Being rejected from The New Yorker is a rite of passage. While the first rejection stung (get over yourself, kid!) I was completely elated by the 2nd one. Tickled. Serious tickled, because although I’ve been writing since I was a teenager (poems, songs, short stories, etc.) and have never had any education there at all- even having dropped out of high school in the 10th grade- I’m still acutely aware of my own ignorance as a writer, and, a poet. By claiming total ignorance, I can open my eyes and mind and have the necessary depth to fill in with an education in Creative Writing. Because I’m going into this saying “I know nothing”, I can learn so much more. Ego deflated!
I’ve created a Poem folder on my laptop, and also, a “Rejection” folder. It’s the rejection folder that will drive me in my art and work far more than any other. It’s proof that I have tried and do try and will not stop trying. I’m copying and pasting every rejection into that folder (dated, filed away).
Failure is nothing more than proof that you have tried.
I also entered my first short story competition last night- the top prize is $3,000. That one is going to hurt. Ha. But, it’s being slapped down in life that I have turned into an art form, so, the more rejections I receive (and there will be plenty); the more food for more art. It’s a self-sustaining cycle but one that holds valuable lessons for me, and I cherish them dearly.
I awoke yesterday morning to this beautiful sight: shadows on my tent wall. I can’t describe my semi-obsession with shadows, even still- after years of photographing and studying them. When I’m surrounded by them, or even in their presence, I feel as if I’m with friends. They move and change and shift and breathe and swell and grow; so many times I’ve been too full of words to say anything and I’ve sat silently among them- as still as a stone- and they moved for me.
They tell stories. They have seen thousands of years and they speak- but not with words. In pictures.
Lately, I’ve been battling this inner identity war: the artist vs. the academic. My mind tells me that I must finish my degree and then pursue a second one in Criminology and Law. It’s my destiny: I’m going to help people. I’m going to stack up a few more certificates along the way (perhaps) and continue to strive in my work so that I can be of some value to others. But the academic is murdering the artist. The artist is now anorexic and throwing fits and lashing out- and really, do I really want to wait until I’m in my 50’s before I do gallery showings and such? Probably 80% of my closest friends have had numerous juried-in showings, publishings, and commercial successes. I want to work on my “Habitat” series and future showing, probably in New York, but I won’t ever do that as long as I’m in school. I simply cannot do both. I’m the first person to go to college in my family- at least on this side of Texas- and then there is only one who has beside me. I come from a family of women who believe that their roles
do not cannot extend further than the bedroom and the kitchen, and then those roles are still firmly instilled into them by a man, or, patriarch.
My free-thinking, wild, Bohemian daughter (Heidi) opened my eyes to exactly how medieval that all is, and she is my strongest influence and inspiration over the years. She’s had her brow and septum pierced, sports a rather large tattoo on her left shoulder, has died her hair pink, green, yellow and blue (was blue in there too?) and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
I know that I’ll probably be in school for another three years at least, and then what? Will I be fulfilled as a parole officer? A probation officer? My “artist self” is throwing a fit. I want to take pictures! I want to edit. I want to write poetry again- something I haven’t done in almost two decades. The artist isn’t dying, only sleeping, but I don’t know how much longer I can hang on. I want to record my songs and produce again- so many things I want to do that will simply have to wait.
And so I will.
“Third Base” biker bar- early Sunday morning drive-by/50 MM natural lighting/manual
There’s something about typing late at night that’s so very gratifying. Maybe it’s the “me time”, I don’t know. Josh is sitting beside me and everything in life has fallen back into place. It’s funny how that goes; all of the “normal everyday things” that one simply expects to be there over time are there, and they’re very small things not even worth mentioning. But take those little “connectors” away- those small unmentionables and it shakes the very foundation of all that is solid in your life. This proves to me that it IS the little things that are most important to me. When they’re gone- everything changes down to the very way you perceive the world to be. When Josh and I are tight, as we are now- the world is “doable”. I’m careful to give him his space and am even suggesting he get a shed so he can have a bit of a man-cave going on. (Guys need a “safe place” to go where there are no women. It’s funny to think about, but it’s so very true. I support him in those endeavors fully.)
The construction trailer outside didn’t work out so well. The new management approached us and gave us a 2 hour warning to move it or lose it. They had already called the police and a tow truck. We were in a bit of a jam, but that’s when I’m at my best, not surprisingly. Maybe it’s all of those McGuyver episodes (or the hundreds of adventure games I’ve played over the years) but I like to get creative and resourceful with practically nothing. We called the Uhaul facility- they had no trucks with a hitch at the moment. After several other phone calls, we were able to find a guy that hauled it away to storage at the drop of a dime. Josh would have lost his trailer for good- it would have just been too expensive to try and retrieve it. Darn it. That means he’ll have to actually stay INSIDE here with me. (I’ll try to not be disappointed.)
I wonder what Josh thinks about me sitting here typing all of our business to the world. 🙂 He’s a good sport.
We have to be up at 8 in the morning- there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Josh is getting ready to start his semester also- I love it when we’re both in school at the same time. He’s working on General Studies for now but he’s considering moving in the direction of Physics. (He and his sister are both terribly smart.)
I have a Health Psychology assignment to do first thing when I get up and after that, a Public Speaking assignment + 25 more pre-calculus problems and that’s all before 10:00 a.m.! Life is a blur.
But at least I’m using exclamation points again so hey- it’s not all bad.
And smiley faces.
I adore Einstein. And so, I redecorated my living room wall. It’s my “happy place”. I drink tea there, watch “Chopped” there, (study there) and really, just stare off at the pretty colours and lament that Einstein is dead.
He was a good one.
I’ve decided that after I graduate (later this year, or perhaps as early as 2014) I’m interested in transferring over to a B.A. in Sociology. I entertained the notion of a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and I think I’d make an excellent parole officer, but my heart is in sociology. Plus, I’d like to travel extensively. We’ll see how that works out.
I’ve decided to learn Swahili. Why? Because I’ve been overwhelmed lately. When I’m overwhelmed, I don’t like to taper down. Rather, I jack it up. I study something new or hone my skills in a new craft, talent, or ambition (such as gourmet cooking, a musical instrument, or new medium in art) and I can’t think of anything that I want to do more right now than learn Swahili.
Ok. I can think of about nine other things. But Swahili is pretty high on the list. Besides, I have dreams of going to Africa one day and volunteering some time in an orphanage or two. I can choose to be lazy and let somebody interpret our communications, or actually learn Swahili. I choose the latter.
There are a few “eligible bachelors” who are doing very well for themselves who have let me know that they’re interested in me. But I would have to completely put my dreams and ambitions on the back burner, yet again, to foster my energies on somebody else and darn it- I’m just not going to do that.
Sorry, gentlemen. I am OFF the market.
I’m going to learn Swahili and travel and make a CD of my songs and do all sorts of things that I’ve never done before. Now I’m off to study for an exam in metamorphic rocks and make Swedish meatballs just for me.
Air kisses dahling…