I could have done so much more

Tonight my first assignment for my photo class was due, and I barely scraped nine images together. (Have I mentioned that I’m taking a photography class at Watkins? Maybe that was just on Twitter.) Part of the problem with waiting until the weekend to do everything is that I forgot how lazy I am on the weekend. Also, the weather was shitty so I didn’t really go out anywhere.

Nevertheless, the teacher had some nice things to say about these images. He didn’t say anything negative, which I guess I should be happy about. But I’m taking this class because I want to improve, so some constructive criticism might have been helpful. Believe it or not I’m pretty good at taking criticism—as long as it’s from someone who is clearly an expert on the subject or at least more educated on it than I am. Nothing pisses me off more than someone who knows just as much or less than I do about something trying to tell me how I fucked up.

Anyway, here’s a mosaic of my shots from the first assignment (you can find the full set here). The assignment was to play around with various shutter speeds and see what happens.

Shutter Speed Priority

I think I have a problem

Tonight, after a few hours of playing Oblivion, I went upstairs to clean my bathtub, which had been clogged pretty badly. As I bent down to scrub near the drain, I noticed an odd-shaped piece of funk. Not even considering the sulfuric acid cleaner I had used this morning or the fact that it creates rust on cheap stainless steel upon contact, my first thought was “CLANNFEAR CLAWS!!”

I only played for about two hours today, I swear.

On feminism

Recently I was talking with a friend about a creepy comment a man made to her, and I got really upset during the conversation. I guess I was just triggered by the idea that some men still think it’s OK to be patronizing and make sexually charged and inappropriate jokes to women they work with. I mean, being a condescending sexist pig to any woman has always inexcusable, but I thought we left the whole sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace thing back in the 1980s? Apparently not.

Anyway, after the conversation I started wondering if it’s possible to be part feminist, or if that’s something you have to commit to 100 percent. Because truth be told, I don’t think the feminists would accept me. For one thing, I’m married, and it seems like some feminists don’t take kindly to women who get married. (Although Ian does most of the cooking, so maybe that would earn me back some feminism points? Or would he earn them?)

Also, I think a lot of women do some stupid-ass shit that only makes the rest of us look bad. I think a lot of men are stupid, too, don’t get me wrong, but nothing irks me more than to see some woman cooing her way through life, relying on her vagina to get her what she wants instead of actually trying to learn something or be independent.

Actually, maybe that makes me a feminist?

But again, I have no aversion to the words “cunt” or “chick,” though I can’t stand to hear a man call a woman a “dumb bitch” when she is engaging in an activity that has nothing to do with lacking intelligence or possessing the anatomy of a female dog.

I don’t know where this leaves me. I don’t think there’s anything women can’t do as well as men (speaking in general terms; don’t comment that you want to see me play basketball against Michael Jordan now), except write our names in the snow of course. But I do think women tend to have a greater capacity for balancing right and left brain, creativity and science, so to speak.

And, of course, we’re just plain sexier.

Keep in mind this is all coming from someone who never wears makeup, plays video games for hours at a time, and sees no problem with farting and belching (actually I find it quite funny), but loves to write and take photos and longs to have hair that doesn’t always look like I just woke up.

Maybe I’m just a mess. But I’m OK with that.

Well hello there.

Life always seems to get in the way of blogging, and a year from now I’ll be kicking myself for not keeping a better record of my life in the season that is always my favorite.

Research tells me that people like reading stuff on the Internet in list format, so here’s a list of what’s going on with me lately:

1. I’m taking a photography class at Watkins (College of Art and Design) with my friend and co-worker Jamie. I took a few photo classes in high school and college, but as this class’ teacher pointed out, learning with film is different than learning with digital. And while I have the basic concepts down, I wanted a refresher. So much of what I shoot is just seeing what works, which I know can be a valid way of doing things, but I’d also like to learn more about the science behind it while pushing myself creatively. I’ll probably post some of my pictures from the class assignments here on this blog, and I’m sure I’ll be posting them over on my Flickr site.

2. In less than two weeks Ian and I will have been married for a year. It’s kind of surreal that it’s been a year already, but at the same time that confirms my hope that getting married doesn’t change things drastically if you were already doing it right.

2a. Yesterday I agonized all day over buying a new Crumpler bag, the 5 Million Dollar Home (I already have the 4MDH but wanted one slightly bigger so I could use it as my purse and carry my camera with me all the time), but ultimately held off because I was unsure of parting with the money. And then I came home and tried to discuss it with Ian, only to find out that he had bought it for me that day–and it was supposed to be my anniversary surprise! So I felt kind of bad I ruined the surprise but I was really touched that he remembered I had wanted it (I hadn’t told him about the agonizing earlier in the day). And he had brought home a pizza from our new favorite local pizza joint, Sal’s. It was really nice to come home to those surprises. I’m lucky.

3. My grandma was in the hospital recently, but was released yesterday and sent home on pain management medications. My mom said they’re trying to decide if it’s a blockage in her liver or pancreatic cancer, but either way there’s really not much to be done since she’s 93. I feel OK in knowing I was just up there in August to see her, but I also feel like there’s never enough time to just sit on the couch and talk about the old days with her. She might be feeble and have achy bones, but the woman can remember back to the Great Depression like a champion.

4. My middle sister Katie got engaged about a month or so ago to Junnhi, who she’s dated since high school. Don’t worry, I approve. They decided to copy take a cue (haha, kidding Katie!) from Ian and I and elope–to freakin’ Hawaii!–and then celebrate with peeps afterward. My mom is throwing them a family reception, which I’d love to attend but I doubt I will since the chances of my dad making it all about him and turning it into a WHY WON’T YOU JUST PRETEND I AM NOT ABUSIVE fiasco if I show up and refuse to engage him are pretty high. But Ian and I will be there for the friends-only reception they’re going to have at a bar, so it’s all good.

5. October is going to be a busy and fun month and I’m so excited! Plans (work schedule permitting–I’m busy busy on a huge project) include our wedding anniversary celebration, Oktoberfest in Nashville, Jack Daniel’s BBQ fest and a Halloween party at our house. Those of you who may remember the tradition of the Halloween party at Ian’s house in college, get ready: We’re bringing it back and adding trivia.

Edited to add: Ian pointed out I was kind of rude to mention a Halloween party without also including an invitation to anyone who was reading. So, if you’re reading, I know you (no creepers, sorry!), and you haven’t received an invite or evite and would like to come hang out with us, please email me and I’ll send you the details. And I’m sorry if I made you feel excluded.

A catalyst

As I sat on the couch tonight watching “Biography: Reba McEntire,” it reminded me of how much of an influence she was in my decision to move to Nashville 12 years ago. I mean, I left home to get away from my abusive father, but I would not have chosen Nashville had I not heard Reba’s music.

I discovered Reba my sophomore year of high school and was hooked immediately. Never having even listened to country music before, she opened my eyes to a whole new culture. Country music back then was different than it is now, and I immersed myself in all it had to offer, and all that it meant.

When it became clear that I had to get out, Nashville became an obvious choice.

Every time I was hit, yelled at, called stupid or ugly or worthless, Reba’s music kept me going. I can still feel the softness of my old blue comforter as I wrapped myself in it and cried myself to sleep to “Read My Mind,” and the song “Is There Life out There” took on a whole new meaning for a teenage girl ready to start living her life without constant fear and sadness.

And while nobody at my school listened to country (I got made fun of occasionally for not hiding my “weird” obsession), it helped my mom and I stay close. Despite my dad’s ridicule and bitching, my mom took me to several country music concerts, and I’ll never forget her waiting in line with me for hours at Blockbuster on my seventeenth birthday to get tickets for my first Reba McEntire concert. I still have that ticket stub—and the pictures from the concert, I think.

I stopped listening to country music soon after I arrived in Nashville, ironically, a change I attribute to over-saturation, not needing an escape anymore and the fact that country music started to head toward the shitter become indecipherable from pop.

But I will always love Reba. She is what led me here, to a life where I am happy and safe and able to love and be loved back without conditions or dread. And as melodramatic as it sounds, when I think back to a few extraordinarily dark moments, she saved my life.

Someone call Wilford Brimley

As if today didn’t suck enough already, at five minutes to 5 p.m. I realized that the vet double-charged me for Evil Twin’s insulin and prescription food this weekend. The receptionist was on the phone while she was ringing me up and told me the charge didn’t go through and needed to swipe my card again, but it must have worked once she hung up. I knew it was going to happen; I even told Ian that in the car.

I called the vet and was told I’d need to bring in my debit card and a bank statement, which sounds reasonable except that I don’t get paper statements and the online ones don’t show my debit card number (or even my name, for that matter), just the last four digits of the checking account. But they all know us at the vet, so hopefully they won’t give me a hard time tomorrow about it. Otherwise I guess I’ll have to call Regions and file a fraud report.

I know it’s not a huge deal, but I want my $100 back, dammit!!

I can feel it coming in the air tonight

(Oh Lord.)

According to the calendar fall is almost here, but for all intents and purposes (mine, at least), it’s already upon us. Clear, bright daytimes followed by crisp, sleek evenings; that feeling of being right there inside nature as it whistles in my ear… It’s right here. I’m becoming fully aware of its onset with each of my senses.

This is my favorite time of year. I am my happiest in September, October and November of each year. But especially October. I love October.

The slow death of the green is beautiful, with its explosions of reds and yellows and browns, and the only comfort I take in the gray that eventually appears is the knowledge that the cycle will begin again, full-blast, a few months later.

Each fall I decide the earth is too beautiful to be atheist and try to reconcile with my pagan tendencies. Each year I get too self-conscious to give them the attention they deserve, but this year feels different. This year I’m not going to give up.

So bring it, nature. I need your help.