We had our annual gathering to ring in the new year, last night. We revisited a couple of traditions, and added in a couple of one-night-only rituals for the troubling year that was 2016, which included burning a cardboard effigy of 2016, and whacking a person dressed up as the evil spirit of 2016 with foam swords. My friends are kind of insane, but in a really good way.

Our longest-standing ritual is to write down things from the year that we wish to leave behind, and burn them in the fire pit. Last night had us commiserating over losses, struggles, and the bleak truths we've seen in our world. We stood around the fire as snow floated down around us, remembering that we have each other, as we consigned sadness to the flames.

This year, it took me a little while to think of things to burn, but I came up with:

  • Old Lady Back Problems - it's getting there, very slowly, but I want to get back to where I can do athletics and not have to think about it.

  • Anxiety and Fatigue - pretty self-explanatory, but after being sick twice in two weeks, I'm looking at some professional help for this.

  • Silencing Myself - I think that I internalized the idea, very early in life, that nobody is listening to what I say, except perhaps to judge or make fun of it. So, even now, I habitually stay pretty quiet. And there are times when I really shouldn't.

  • Racism and Bigotry - again, pretty self-explanatory.

A newer ritual is to reflect on the good things that happened, and stick it to the wall, so we can see and share in each other's good fortune. There are now new engagements, new homes, new jobs, new names, new experiences all over my dining room wall. People made strides towards the lives they wanted, even if those strides were difficult. 2016 was a hard year in a lot of ways, and it felt doubly important to treasure the good parts of it.

For me, I had a pretty good run. My faith was shaken in some parts of my life, but I found solid ground in other arenas. There were times when things seemed to click together in an almost uncanny way, as if they were meant to happen. I think the hardest part of this year, outside of the political/ideological sphere, has been actually internalizing the idea that no, not everything has to be a terrible struggle. I felt a lot of anxiety when I didn't have a reason to--I was waiting for a shoe to drop, when there wasn't a shoe there to begin with. The battle with anxiety is one that I still have to fight in this year to come, and likely in the years after that.

I don't necessarily expect better things from 2017. To do so would be naive. But, I still hope for it every day. I've heard it said that this coming year should be one about community, chosen family, blood family (if those relationships are healthy), and connection, and that's a mission I can wholeheartedly get on board with.

Happy new year, my dears. We've got this, together.

The protests made it onto my street today. I heard the shouts and chants from inside my office, so I grabbed my camera and ran out to the street to see what was happening.

It seemed like a relatively small group, but there were so many young faces in that crowd. They chanted and held signs, but they also hugged, teased, and socialized with each other like kids always do. It felt weird to see the frustration of protest and the behaviors of everyday life alongside each other.

Then, one of my junior skaters spotted me taking photos, and ran up to me to say hello. I've only had a couple of practices with the team so far, so it feels a bit funny to call them "my" juniors, heh. But, even though I've only just started to get to know this teen, I couldn't have been prouder of her.

The group passed by quickly, so she ran off, and I called after her to stay safe. I later learned that it was a group of students from Portland Public Schools, so hopefully that fact will keep them safer.

I'm proud of the young people of my city--they're paying attention, and they're not content to sit by in apathy. But I'm afraid for them, too. I know their future hangs in the balance.

It's been a tough few weeks. Not in a terrible sort of way, so much as in an overwhelming and draining sort of way. I've been working a challenging (but surprisingly enjoyable) part-time coding gig at an office downtown, juggling the workload coming through my own studio, doing my best to be a good captain and a dependable athlete for my team, working towards being a more present friend, and trying to squeeze self-care somewhere in there.

The self-care part, well, hasn't exactly been on-point. Shoehorning an extra 10-20 hours of work into my week has been overwhelming, to say the least, and there's been Life Stuff that's been happening, on top of that. There've been more days than I care to admit where I can barely muster the energy sit and watch television, at the end of the day. I've been allowing myself to rest when I don't feel well, and actually delegating the occasional task, but I also haven't been eating or sleeping particularly well. I physically showed up to everything I could, but only mentally showed up to... maybe half of those things? That's probably being generous.

Last Wednesday, I went to scrimmage, and I showed up. Maybe it was finally catching up on lost sleep, maybe it was the extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, but I felt fully present and excited to play. I'd almost forgotten what that was like, heh. In the following days, I started feeling more energized about a lot of things, and was ready to jump into my Monday, refreshed and ready to tackle everything that comes my way.

Then, my dear old friend Insomnia decided to show up. I laid awake for hours, slept fitfully, and woke up yesterday feeling like garbage. Again.

I looked at my calendar, and it was mostly empty, except for a little lunchtime music show that I'd written down. I was so tempted to just not go, because I felt so exhausted. I was so sure that nobody would miss me, if I didn't show. But, then I thought, "who knows when this will happen again?" And at that point, I decided that I didn't want to make another excuse to not do something. Not today.

So, I went. I brought my camera. I mainly just listened, because I wanted to enjoy the moment, but
I did snap a few photos. It reminded me that I really love watching creative people work. One of my favorite things about taking photos at random events is the opportunity to take a longer look at the expression, the intensity, the love and attention that goes into what they do. Sometimes, you see a flash of bashfulness or disbelief in their face--they're so mentally and emotionally invested in this THING, but they're never quite certain that it will be loved by others, and it feels like a wonderful surprise when it is. It's a moment of honesty and bravery. Seeing that always renews my faith in humanity, at least a little bit.

I cried for a little while, after I left. The sleeplessness, the overwhelm, all of the feelings that I'd been trying to process during the in-between moments finally piled up high enough to break the dam, I guess. I suppose I like to think of myself as the calm center of a given storm--even when things get crazy, I keep that cool exterior, and hope that being calm will let those around me relax, too. I don't often feel moved to tears, but if ever there was a trigger, music is certainly it. I never stop being surprised at how easily music can influence our emotions, if we let it.

I guess this is a note to myself that a big piece of Kindness Without Excuses is to choose those No Excuses moments mindfully. And, perhaps another piece is to remember that I don't have to be cool with everything all the time. My emotions are worthy of space, and sometimes I'll have to make a bit of extra room for them.

I seem to be doing better in the realm of making time for creative projects that aren't for clients, which is good. I've done artwork for three t-shirts so far, and have some nice ideas for the next few.

I also photographed and designed four different posters of travel team skaters as superheroes, in a scant two weeks. It was a concept I absentmindedly wrote down a couple of years ago, so it was pretty exciting that a team fundraiser gave me the excuse to finally put this concept together.

These images were printed out 18"x24" and sold in the fundraiser party's art auction, and pulled in close to $1000 for the team. So, yeah, I think I did all right. ;)

(click to embiggen)

batskeets: (yan!)
I had a Saint Bernard on set for about 20 minutes, during a shoot this past weekend. He was clearly one of those large creatures that has absolutely no concept of how huge he is, and just wants to bounce and race around like a tiny puppy would.

He was the biggest, fluffiest, goofiest guy on the planet, and it was THE BEST.

By some weird twist of fate (namely, an all-day workshop I was supposed to attend getting postponed due to the presenter being sick), I wound up having Saturday completely and totally off. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself. I didn't go to a workshop, or to the studio, or to the Hangar, or to any previously-agreed social obligation. WEIRD.

Joe was leading a walking tour of the food carts, so I spontaneously decided that this would be the day that I finally went on the danged food cart tour, which I've been wanting to do for a while. So, I tagged along and got to try food from a lovely array of food carts West of the river that I'd heard about, but never visited. One had Chinese dumplings that actually reminded me of childhood, and that is most definitely not an easy task.

There were also other, different dumplings, which were not Chinese, but were also notably delicious. And, some of the best falafel I've ever eaten. Oh, and I'd be remiss in my duties if I failed to mention the deep-fried Mars bars! Even 1/3rd of one was enough to last a while, heh.




I've done a bit more wandering around with my camera than usual over the past few weeks, but it was especially nice to be doing so on a gorgeous day like this one. Usually, when I'm shooting a lot for clients, I don't so much feel like shooting outside of a work/portfolio building context, and it was nice to still have the itch when I had some time to myself. Moments are important, even the little ones.

In other news, I went to my first "pre-tryouts" practice for travel team last week, and holy smokes, standards are high. But, they don't seem unattainable. It's a little strange to realize that the group of people whom I perceive to be better skaters than I am is actually getting smaller. There are still people on the A-team who intimidate the bejeezus out of me, but eh, I'll get over it eventually. I learned a ton from that one practice, so regardless of how tryouts actually go, I'm going to come out the other end as a bolder and better skater.

Oh, and this morning? TOTALLY WENT TAP-DANCING. It's been over a decade since I last did that, but I still have my shoes from college, and I found a class through parks and rec that actually fits my schedule. It's a beginner-type class for adults, and I think I might be picking things up a little faster than most--it's amazing how much your body remembers even after that much time--but I had fun, regardless.

And finally, I think I just made myself throw up in my own mouth a little looking at the below, heh. It's good to have talented friends who will coax me out from behind the camera every so often. :) WUV.

I wish there was more money in making pretty fashion photos in this town. Because, y'know, I hate LA, and would probably also not enjoy New York, but damned if I'm not good at it.

Portland Sparkle!

Yeah, even the local alternative weekly likes this shoot. It's not the first time they've run my work, either. Booyah.

In other news, I spent a large part of July 4th road tripping to Seattle, to play in a tournament where you enter with a 5-person team, and play a single, 2-minute jam against all of the other 5-person teams. We were team TACOCAT, because palindromes are great. And so are tacos. And cats. And my ridiculous peacock capri pants.

Most all of the other teams were basically co-ed superteams, so we didn't win the cash prize, but I think we were the first team to beat the team that did win the cash prize, and it was a pretty effin' beautiful jam. And we won at having the most fun, even in spite of Nabi's hematoma of doom.

Shortly after, I got hit by a pretty massive bout of Capital D(epression), and wound up taking most of the rest of July off from derby, and spending a lot of time feeling sad and loafing around in my pajamas. I'm feeling mostly-normal now, so I'm back at it, but in a way, it was almost easier to just feel sad all the time, instead of my usual state of mild-to-moderate stress, tiredness, and aggravation.

I think the hardest part was talking with Joe (and any friends who noticed enough to inquire) about how I was feeling. Mainly, it was the part where he'd ask if there was anything he could do, and I said, "no, there really isn't anything you can do that you're not already doing." Just saying that out loud made me sadder, which, oops. The thing is, well, outside of being your usual thoughtful and caring self, there really isn't much you can do for a depressed person--they just have to give it time and work through it.

On the plus side, I did get back into having fun with cooking, so the time wasn't a total waste. And of course, I did the necessary workthings, so I'm not starving. And just, holy wow, I have the greatest boyfriend.

...aaand I had somewhere I was going with this, but I got distracted by dinner and Fallout 3 last night. Anyhoo, I'm working on a rebrand, have some big potential projects in the pipeline, and I went back to derby last Saturday because I was finally starting to miss it. SO, I guess y'all can rest assured that things are pretty much back to normal now. :)

Oh yeah, and Joe recently became an uncle for the first time (d'aawwwww), so we visited his sister at the hospital, I took some very nice photos for them, and I also got to hold a very tiny human for a while. I guess she liked me, because she completely sacked out in my arms, heh.

Guh. I am so overdue for an update it is downright appalling. XD It's pretty bad that I'm not even sure what I've talked about and what I haven't. But, yeah, I'm thinking bullet points are a good plan.

  • We had a bout a few weeks ago in Eugene--my first Away bout with my team! It was really fun, and I think we played well, and that I, personally, played well. Basically, we won in every way except getting the most points, heh. There was a really terrible jam ref, and I think that killed us--not that we should have won, necessarily, but the score should have been closer. I can't really feel bad, though, seeing as we were playing their all-star travel team, and all.

  • My birthday is coming up, and I've done basically nothing whatsoever to plan for it, heh. I'll be working at a wedding on my actual birthday, so I have an extra week to pull together birthday shindig plans. Honestly, I'm feeling pretty partied-out these days, so just saying, "hey guys, come over and let's eat and play games and hang out," is more than enough to keep me happy. :)

  • Work got stressful for a bit, there. I got a bit freaked about getting new clients, but I've since gotten some new inquiries, thanks to referrals. I made an agency happy with some development work, so hopefully there'll be more coming from them soon. I'm taking a workshop next week that should hopefully teach me how to suck less at networking. I took care of that ethical quandary I mentioned--I asked the recruiter who connected me with the agency, and she apparently told them the situation and got me the all-clear.

  • Joe lives with me now, and it's all been very good and easy. The only real adjustment was reminding myself that I don't *have* to spend every minute with him when he's around, because now he's around all the time. Otherwise, it's been the smoothest sailing possible. :)

  • I somehow managed to tweak my knee a couple of weeks ago, so I wound up taking a couple of weeks off from skating. Yeah, that was the opposite of fun, and I got really sick of doing pushups and such because I couldn't use my dumb legs. Fortunately, I saw the sports med doctor a couple of days ago, and he said there was a chance of a small meniscus tear, but not enough to make him push for an MRI, and definitely not enough to keep me off-skates. I did all the running and jumping and squatting I could muster to test it out, and then I went back to scrimmage yesterday and everything was fine. MY LEGS WORK WOOOOOO!

  • To be honest, I think I fell into a depression for a few weeks, especially after the knee thing. I think that a lot of emotional flotsam and external obligations piled up, and I finally cracked and just didn't feel like doing ANYTHING. Even doing the bare minimum was excruciating, and then losing exercise as an outlet when I hurt my knee was a pretty huge blow in dealing with depression. I've definitely been less social, and I'm not sure I necessarily see that stopping, even now that I'm feeling better--I'm poking my head back out judiciously, but you know? I overdo these things. I'mma give myself some leeway, here.

  • Anyhoo, YES, I'm doing better now. My mood finally started to lift over this past weekend, and now that I'm skating again, I have that outlet again, too. Spending more time alone and playing video games has helped.

  • Yes, depression can also be blamed for my not updating here in FOREVER. I certainly had the time, when work dropped off, but not the energy or wherewithal.

  • Speaking of which, I've been playing a hell of a lot of Mass Effect. It's so good, and I'm weirdly attached to my Shepard, and the characters are well-drawn and the story is incredibly engaging. I wish more sci-fi movies had as much thought put into them as the Mass Effect team put into their games. I'm just starting out with Mass Effect 3, and I can't wait to pick up more party members, so I can kick that whiny-ass tool Kaidan to the curb.

  • Last weekend, I worked a hilaaaarious fundraiser for shelter dogs--basically, my piece of the event was taking photos of people in Glamour Shots style. (did you know that they still exist? They're using less glow filter nowadays, but the cowboy hats and cheesy posing haven't gone away. Haaahahaha.) It's been a more editing-intensive event shoot than my usual, but it's also an oddly fun exercise in doing all of the awful, overprocess-y things I never, ever do to my normal photos. XD See Exhibit A:

HI GUYS. I completely spaced posting notice anywhere outside of FB and Twitter (with as exhausted as I've been all week, I deserve a little slack here) but tonight is my first First Thursday opening in my new studio.

I'll be featuring my new client and pretty photos I took for her lookbook, and we'll also have a local designer of cool hats and accessories. 6:00-8:30pm, near NW 2nd and Couch. Exact address and details are on the Facepages!

And, here is one of many pretty photos you'll see there:
Hammer and Nail
Photo-Making Month #20 - Making a Prettier Princess

Photo #20: Making a Prettier Princess. A makeup artist preps a young girl to model in a runway fashion show. This girl was more than a little excited about having her hair and makeup done by a professional team of stylists.
Photo-Making Month #19 - Ever-Watchful

Photo #19: Ever-Watchful. This pup walked in a fundraiser fashion show for Dove Lewis, in spite of his missing leg. He watched calmly as all the hustle and bustle took place backstage.
Photo-Making Month #18 - Old Becoming New

Photo #18: Old Becoming New. Hastily shot this inside a recently-renovated building. When this space is done, it could be someone's new headquarters. Maybe mine.
Photo-Making Month #17 - Mixed Media

Photo #17: Mixed Media. Autumn builds with plants and color, to frame what we make with metal and glass.
Photo-Making Month #16 - Neon Days

Photo #16: Neon Days. Not quite as arresting as it is at night, but the neon casts its constant light.

Photo-Making Month #15 - I See The Power

Photo #15: I See The Power. A view from the basement.

Photo-Making Month (14) - Limited Beer, Infinite Food

Photo #14: Limited Beer, Infinite Food. This 5-ounce sour beer was delicious, and I was lucky enough to get a glass before it ran out. My identifying tag for my food order lurks in the background--apparently, edibles are more plentiful. ;)
Photo-Making Month (13) - Jim the Photo Maker

Photo #13: Jim the Photo Maker. I get a weird feeling of amusement when I take a photo of someone who's also a photographer. It almost feels like you've gotten away with something you shouldn't have.

(yeah, I realize it's grainy as hell. It was *really* dim in that room, so dim that I wouldn't have been able to get a flash-free shot with my old dSLR. Full-frame sensors are, once again, THE BEST.)
Photo-Making Month (12) Election Night

Photo #12: Election Night. Modern technology continues to affect how we take in important world events--I guarantee there wasn't a single adult in that room who didn't check their smartphone or laptop at some point during the election proceedings.

P.S. I don't even want to tell you how high my ISO had to go for this batch of shots. Eeuuuggh. How did I ever live without a full-frame camera?
Photo-Making Month (11) - Tools of Another Trade

Photo #11: Tools of Another Trade. Thread holds so many of our everyday things together. Human planning, thought, and effort goes into those things.
Photo-Making Month (10) - Fall From Beneath

Photo #10: Fall From Beneath. In the rainy Northwest, it's rare that we get beautiful, sunny, just-the-right-temperature days in November. Sun peeking through yellow leaves of autumn, against the bluest of skies? I don't think I'll ever get tired of that.

March 2017

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