The Boy With the Red Ball

Boy WIth Red BallI was attempting to get a shot of his sister, who smiled for one second. I dropped to my knees, ready to capture her tiny grin. That second was ruined by a few passerbys.

I missed the shot.

Then the little boy wanders up and stands, perfect positioning in front of my lens, just watching me. I decided to watch back. I remained there, kneeling at his level. We were suddenly in our own little world. He would make little faces at me. I would smile and make faces back.  People passing around and between us, paying us no mind. I couldn’t look away. He just stood there, face after face, until finally raising his red ball over his head, right before running off to join his family in the tent.

It turned out to be my favorite photo of the day. His face, the reflection on the ball, the word hope over his head, the layers upon layers of background. And that one moment between the two of us made me feel something I hope to feel with every photo I take. A true connection. A real relationship between me and my subject that requires no sound, just feeling. 

I had an urge to share that story after looking at the photo again today. It was taken this past Saturday at the Panoply Arts Festival in Huntsville, Alabama. 

This photo and more can be found on my Flickr photostream. It’s where I collect all of my favorite photos from work and personal shoots over the years. Go check them out. And if you have an account, follow me. I love meeting new people through art. 


Is this what you call a ‘new chapter?’

I haven’t slept in days.

Two weeks, actually.

I’ll catch an hour here, and hour or two there, but for some reason, I lie in bed all night long, unable to catch a break from my thoughts. This morning, I watched the sun come up. It crept though my khaki curtains, and blinded me. Forcing me to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water. A kitchen that stands littered with half-packed boxes of odds and ends. Boxes filled with could have beens. With confusion. And news beginnings.

I won’t go into details, but this weekend, I am moving out of my home. To a new home. Technically, it’s not in the same city. Same county, not the same city. Closer to work. Closer to where I wanted to be in the first place. I’m leaving so much behind to focus a bit more on myself. For once. That’s all I’ll say.

And it terrifies me. It scares me. I’ve never been so “spur of the moment.” My life is always full of plans. I’ll eat this meal…that I’ve planned. I’ll work on this drawing…that I’ve planned. I’ll move to this place…like I’ve planned. But this happened so fast. In less than a week, really. And I’m going through with it. No plan. Just going on what I think is best.

But here is the thing about fear.

Fear is what drives us. Comfort is what hinders us. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. Which is why I never want to live in one city for too long. Which is, in part, why I’m scared of commitment. Comfort. I need that fear to drive me. To push me to keep trying new things. To keep reaching for new things. To move. And move. And move. And never get stuck. So rather than letting this comfort take over, like I have done so many times in the past, I’m going to ride out this fear, and see where it takes me.

Here’s to trying new things.

Note to self: 1

Dear self,

Here are things you need to work on. I’m not fussing at you, but at some point (preferably sometime soon), please make sure you start doing at least one (preferably all) of these things:

1.) Read more books. Whatever happened to your reading addiction? You got a job, and then all of a sudden forgot how much you love to read. Fix that. 

2.) Finish your website. Yes. You know the one I’m talking about. You start it. Stop it. Start it. Stop it. Sit down and finish it one day. But first you must…

3.) Make more things to sell. Yeah. Those headbands. Jewelry. Wallets. Clothing. All of those things you’ve made for yourself that people want to buy? Make more so you can make a little extra cash on the side.

4.) Take more photos outside of work. You say you will, and then you never do. Beg your friends to let you practice your portraiture work. What’s great about shooting portraits outside of work is that they don’t involve politicians. And snobby people. 

That is all. For now. Get on it! Thanks.

I can kick a black bear over those mountains over there

While in my car, stopped at a red light early this afternoon, I began to cry–hysterically–over food. I mean, full on freak out session. Just balling and wailing. See, I had gone to the gym two hours prior to this moment, and after the gym, I ran a few errands. And here’s the thing, after working out, I become extremely hungry, and when I don’t get to eat, I become hangry.

Hangry – Hungry and angry, especially when the anger is induced by the hunger. 

That happens more often than it should. During this hangry moment, I began to think of all the wonderful, fattening foods I’m no longer allowed to eat, and that made me even more hangry. I really love food. I actually consider eating a hobby. It’s something I enjoy doing, but now that I’ve decided to make a few healthy changes in my life, I can no longer indulge on the glorious foods I once ate. I know, my life is so hard. (Sarcasm)

But then I got home, ate a giant salad topped with delicious veggies and some roasted chicken from the night before, and suddenly everything was just fine.

Despite how angry and unmotivated I get at times, this whole new lifestyle is actually pretty rewarding. I was never, and I mean never, one for going to the gym. In my 25 years of living, I had probably worked out maybe 46 times total. But now, I have been working out for a year, and I love it. I really do. I mean, when I first started, I wasn’t doing too great. I was unfamiliar with lifts and machines. Didn’t know how to work out specific parts of the body. I had no idea what a “superset” was. I was completely lost. And even a few months of hitting the gym, I still wasn’t completely serious about it.

But over the past 5 months, I’ve really buckled down by lifting more, tracking my strength, adding cardio, and most importantly, eating better. I may sound like one of those crazed gym rats, which I’m definitely not. I’m just really enjoying every step of this process. I have a long way to go. I’m aiming for that point where I can put on an outfit and actually feel comfortable and confident. Not for anyone else. Just for me. It may sound a little superficial, but who doesn’t want to feel good? I just want to whip on a swimsuit in the summertime and be like BOOM!

Anyhew. One thing I’ve learned from working out is that I have extremely strong legs. Like, extremely stroooooong legs, which is quite unbelievable considering I’ve never been much of an athlete. I can press 400 lbs. Okay. So it’s nothing too outrageous, but it’s a lot to me.

Just for fun, here are a few things I can lift, move, and press with my legs:

1.) A drum full of oilOil

2.) An average adult male lionLion

3.) A pianoScreen shot 2014-01-08 at 5.55.36 PM

4.) A black bearScreen shot 2014-01-08 at 5.57.05 PM

5.) And this guy, Tony Picard, the 400 lb. high school running backScreen shot 2014-01-08 at 5.57.36 PM

So, alright, maybe I can’t actually lift or move them with my legs, but it sure is possible. All I’m saying is that, if I was being attacked by a black bear while hiking out in the woods one day, I’d like to thing I could drop kick that big boy off me. Maybe, just maybe, I’d press kick him so hard in the gut that he’d go flying off, in slow motion of course, into the distance, giving me a chance to run to safety, living to to tell the tale of ole Power Legs (that’s me, incase you were wondering.) Now, if that’s not enough to give someone a little confidence, well then, I don’t know what is.

Stop taunting me, donuts. You sweet, sexy donuts.

I quit the detox last night. Immediately after my last post. I made an attempt at eating a bowl of soup, but after a few bites, I began to feel a little nauseated. And after my extreme workout, I definitely needed some nutrients and protein  in my system. So I tossed out the soup and baked up some roasted veggie tostadas, and went to town.

However, even though I’m no longer detoxing, I’m still technically “dieting.” (I like to call it “eating better.” It doesn’t sounded as threatening.) Which means, keeping myself from shoving every single bit of food I see into my salivating mouth, and believe me, that is a struggle. And then someone brought donuts into the office today. I immediately text my friend, which ensues in the most pathetic conversation we’ve ever had.

ME: Someone brought donuts into the office. I WILL MURDER WHOEVER DID THIS!

Jennie: Quick! Rub dirt on all of them. Stomp on them!!!!

ME: That won’t stop me from eating them. I need to leave. Now. Excuse for leaving early: the donuts were taunting me. I just keep peering at them from over the wall at my desk. They look so tasty.

Jennie: Are they Krispy Kreme?

ME: Yes. Krispy Kreme. Assorted dozens. Yes. DOZENS. There is one that has caramel and nuts all over it. I want it so bad. 

You might not find it pathetic, but it is, because every conversation we have is about food. And when Jennie asked if they were Krispy Kreme, I could see her sitting at work dreaming about donuts. Imagining that, she too, was indulging in their sweet, delicious goodness. By the way, Jennie is my workout buddy. And all we talk about at the gym is food and all the stick skinny chicks there with killer thighs and arms.

I think my excuse for leaving early sounds pretty legitimate.

What rhymes with detox soup? Death.

I dropped a paper towel on the floor after washing my hands at the gym, and literally could not bend over to pick it up. Somehow I managed to pull something in my lower back while sleeping last night. Is this what happens once you turn 25?

I also haven’t had real food in two days. I’m attempting a soup detox, and let me tell you, it isn’t going well…at all. I’m hungry, angry and can’t stop dreaming about food when sleeping. Yesterday, I took a short nap, and had this beautiful dream about these chocolate cake balls that were covered in an ooey, gooey hot fudge. I dreamt that I ate an entire pan of them, pulling each one of a chocolate covered tray, and dropping them into my mouth, one by one, hot fudge just oozing everywhere. Insert dirty joke here. Note, I started the detox yesterday. All it took was a few hours for my body to react. And, the soup is so gross that I refuse to eat it. So now, I’m detoxing with starvation since I couldn’t force myself to eat a bowl, not one bowl of it, today.

Chubbs and Gandalf cuddling on the couch.

Chubbs and Gandalf cuddling on the couch.

Before you say anything, yes, I know. It has been pretty much a year since I’ve blogged. See, what had happened was, I got all caught up in work and life that I completely forgot about this little thing. Then, the other day, as I was talking to someone about my photography job with the paper, I had mentioned how I used to be a writer as well. But now that I’m a photojournalist, I rarely have the opportunity to actually publish a written piece in the paper, which led to that individual asking if I still practiced writing. After thinking about it, I realized writing just isn’t something I do anymore. And I grew a little concerned. I mean, I have a B.S. in English and an M.A. in Journalism. I used to write a little everyday, whether it was a short post in my journal or something silly on here, I felt as though I was constantly exercising my skills…and then, out of nowhere, I just stopped.

So, here I am. Back at it once again.

Perhaps I should provide a little update. Just something short and simple, so you all know where I’m at in life. I still work for The Huntsville Times. I’ve been working there for a little over a year now. I moved out of my tiny, cramped apartment this past July (I was tired of everything breaking and getting harassed every time I walked out to my car). Um, I am now the proud mother of three beautiful children: Chubbs, who is now 2, Gandalf and Loki. I guess that is about it. Yes. My life is extremely exciting. I know.

Well, since I have nothing left to say, I’ll end it here. Here’s to exercising my brain this year.

Featured photo taken this past year at the Northeast Alabama State Fair while on assignment for The Times. Considered one of my photos of the year. Read more here.

There’s a gerbil in my closet

I think this whole living alone thing is finally starting to get to me. This morning, I sang a song to Chubbs about how he was “cray cray in the hay hay” for approximately 15 minutes. After the first few verses, which repeated the song title, I added a few robotic dance moves to the mix, and stopped once I realized Chubbs was giving me that head tilt, the one where he’s calling me crazy, but without words.

Yesterday, on my way to Hobby Lobby, I cried in my car while listening to Christmas tunes on the radio. I realized how alone I will be for the holidays, due to work and no off days, and I got a little upset.

I’ve been here for almost two months now and still hang out by myself. Perhaps it’s my own fault since I refuse to go out and meet people. I’ve made some good friends in the past; I just can’t imagine having to go out and do it again. And to be completely honest, I don’t feel like going out to bars to socialize. A girl alone at the bar just screams hit on me.

Instead, I find myself going shopping, not to necessarily purchase anything, but rather talk to my fellow customers, maybe spark up a conversation with the cashier. That’s what I’ve become: a sad, pitiful adult in search of five minute friendships.

But, some good has come out of this loneliness. I’ve become extra crafty. I’ve painted a few canvases for my apartment, tried out a few Pinterest projects, covered my couch with a handmade slipcover and redecorated my living room so it wouldn’t feel so empty. And now that I have a library card, I’ve also been reading a lot more. I’m also joining a gym with hopes of getting back in shape, perhaps shed off some of this anxiety that’s been following me around for the past few weeks.

Now that I think about it, I guess it’s not all bad. Just those few dark moments where I put my disco vinyls on and go roller skating across my carpeted apartment in a pair of bell bottoms or find myself crouched in the corner talking to my plants about my day, checking out the ruckus outside by turning off all of the lights and peeking through my bedroom blinds, rearranging my kitchen for the 23rd time…

Yeah. I’m losing it.

Your friendly neighborhood flasher

I flashed downtown Huntsville today. Numerous amounts of times. Or rather, just one, long, painfully humiliating time. I decided to wear my latest purchase from the thrift store: a gorgeous beige skirt with some funky hunter and pear green pattern to it and some black detailing along the waist. Such a pretty, affordable find. I have been waiting for the perfect day to test it out. I just so happened to pick the windiest day or the year.

Granted, I didn’t know just how flowy this skirt was. Skirt wearing is possible on windy days, as long as they aren’t too billowy. This one was definitely too billowy.

I parked alongside Fountain Circle downtown to go take a food shot for Spark magazine. As I opened the door to the backseat, I felt a sudden breeze hit my underside. Sure enough, I was flashing all of the lovely folks driving through downtown Huntsville. Not the mention the people walking from the courthouse, along the sidewalks, and the owner of Papou’s.

I tried my hardest to hold my skirt down, but wasn’t able to do so with the continuous gush of wind and an armful of camera gear. I tugged and pulled and shrieked in horror, but nothing would stop my bottom from hanging out for all of downtown to see. People slowly creeped by in their cars and a passerby looked at me and said, “Aw, poor thing!”

I finally managed to somehow gather my things and my skirt and shuffle on down the sidewalk toward Cotton Row.

You’re welcome, Huntsville.

And moving on. I feel as though I keep talking about this whole living alone situation, but little incidents such as bugs scuttling into my living room, strange noises coming from outside, and a trail of bad weather heading my way reminds me of why it’s sometimes nice to have a roommate or friend around. I’m terrified of bad weather. The wind is taunting me from earlier, wheezing and whining through my fireplace. I decided it was best to check the weather. It’s been going on all night. 

All I see is this huge (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit) line of red heading toward Huntsville and other areas of Alabama. Thank goodness for Chubbs. I’ll be cuddling up next to him all night.

Until next time…

Time for a cleanin’

My latest goal: wake up in time to shower before work. I’ve been so tired these past two days, so, rather than giving myself some extra time for a cleaning, I’ll sleep on through the morning until I have 30 minutes to get ready and drive to work. I’m going on day 3 of no bathing. I apologize if you find that disgusting or unsanitary. It’s not like I sweat all day at the office or have some strange odor oozing from my armpits. I smell just fine.

Today I realized that, despite my recent move and new career, I am still in that same lazy funk, the same one that’s been following me around for the past few months. I have failed to partake in the activities I planned before the move: exercising, crafting, and venturing about town. Instead, I come home, take Chubbs out to potty, fix dinner, and watch Netflix while I sit on the couch.

I began feeling bad about myself tonight. I noticed a lump of fat overlapping my leggings and decided it was time to engage in some healthy habits. Exercise being the main one. I got on Pinterest and searched for some of those exercise plans where they list out how many of each move you should complete everyday, re-pinned a couple I liked, and prepared myself for a night of exercise.

But then I grew distracted, and, rather than starting my weight-loss plan, I grabbed my package of Double Fudge Twist & Shouts and an ice-cold glass of milk and went to town on some dessert.

I felt even worse. Argh.

Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully I’ll actually do something about this mess I’ve put myself in. On a happier note, I did do something creative today. My man-friend, Jake, is coming into town Thursday night. After all of the things he’s done for me (helped me move to-and-from Anniston, helped me find a place and move to Huntsville, listened to me cry and complain about everything, etc.) I figured I’d treat him to a lovely weekend full of food and adventuring.

One of my plans is to cook lunch and dinner for him everyday that he’s here. Neither one of us have money to spend, so now we can enjoy meals together and not have to worry about blowing $40 plus tip on dinner. While at work, I made these cute and simple menu sheets for him. Kinda cheesy, I know, but I have a plan.

On an even happier note, I finally found a pair of roller skates at the thrift store. One pair and they just so happened to be my size. Amazing, considering I have skis for feet.

I’m planning on glittering them out and strolling about town, once I get comfortable wearing them, of course. I haven’t skated since I was 12. And of course, they need some new wheels, but that nothing a few dollars can’t fix.

Until next time.

A Thief in the Night

I walked into the break room this morning to find a fresh pot of coffee sitting on the burner. Finally. For the past two weeks, I’ve been stuck with the remnants of an early morning brew, which I still drink since I’m usually jetting off somewhere and don’t have time to make a new pot. I also have a working dishwasher, four weeks later. It’s been a good day.

To top it all off, I actually slept through the entire night without one single startled interruption. I’m usually a deep sleeper. Not even killer cranking a chainsaw over my bed could wake me. Not the screech of a pterodactyl flying through my living room. If a train ran straight through my apartment, I wouldn’t even notice until the next morning.

But now that I’m living alone, I think my brain is adjusting to the change. It’s preparing me for a break-in, or, since I live in Huntsville, also known as weird weather central, I’ll be ready to flee from my second story apartment when a bad storm strikes. I will awake from any little sound or thump, and the repercussion of this new talent only causes a day of grogginess and misery upon waking.

My tummy is beginning to rumble. I’m tempted to run home and grab food. Perhaps when I’m there, I can change out of this ridiculous outfit. Apparently I forgot to look in the mirror this morning. No, I take that back. I stared at my reflection for a total of 15 minutes this morning while getting dressed. I remember admiring this outfit as I danced around my room to Santigold’s L.E.S. Artistes.

And then I got to work, and all of that zoomed straight out the window. I don’t understand why. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’m the only one not wearing blazers and button downs, suits and heels. I feel pretty colorful in an office full of gray.

Off to search for features. Stay tuned for photos of my new homemade headboard, courtesy of Pinterest, and the scoop on my latest hair tragedy.