The Creative Circus, a School for Photography

In all my years of schooling, all the years of rushing to turn in college papers, to solve basic Algebra problems, discuss Philosophy and sit through countless boring lectures, it took till this week at this school to solve the basic riddle of the Universe.
All of our genius forefathers did not know shit if they could not make perfect white lines appear on glass edges in photographs. You can have the high end equipment, have taken great photos for years traveling all over the world for years, but the real genius can take an incredible photograph of a spoon.

That shit is not easy.

I think I am prouder of surviving this week than I am over 3 1/2 years of college, maybe because I don’t remember them, or maybe because I saw a grown married man cry by a teacher who can prove Photoshop is incorrect in its percentages of what a Raw image file can contain, that JPEG is for pussies, and I shake now when burning dvds, a trauma now I may never recover seeing as my Macbook can not burn a flippin dvd, for God’s sake.

I have managed to create a new disorder.

DBF. DVD BURNING FAILURE is a disorder I now recognize by blood rushing to my head, rooms starting to spin in slow motion, people’s mouths opening and closing while I feel a deep hand around my throat choking, blood pounding to strange beats any time I hear the sound of any cd or dvd being ejected, even away from school.

I think I may have to start listening to mix tapes from the 80s until I recover.

Yes, besides the disorder, the fact I haven’t slept in days and have complete memory loss have been worth the shitty photos I have taken, the zillion lessons they have brought me.
I also have learned that showing up unannounced to do work alone will put you in the company of hot art directors and copywriters, and so, on top of the shitty photographs, I at least was invited to drink off the pain.

I saw a guy dressed with a scarf and jacket, a rare thing in an art school, gazing up at the sky. He looked like he was memorizing data, mouthing words, his face breaking into confusion, his other hand oddly holding a pen, his body in between these moments would crumple, his head in between his arms.

It was a pattern, and yes, I saw it clearly in five minutes.

“What’s up?’ I asked over the rim of my DVD failing Mac, wondering if he were gay, which when you meet a hot man with a pen in his hand and a lovely scarf, women know to guard their hearts immediately.

“I am obsessed with words.”
Snap. That is the come on line of all time for a girl like me, and so here I was, talking to a copywriter, which I had been wanting to get in their heads, always wondering if my personal ridiculous tales could translate into the advertising world.

I had thought the answer to that would be “NO WAY IN HELL.”
He said he had an ad campaign, that he had to convince with 3 statements how to convince people to START smoking, and so he also had a blog as well, but his was about ridiculous pointless dorky thoughts.
I find late night break rooms to be my favorite place, people hurdled around discussing book bags for children from the village assignment, the ones that will free the child in the tribe to do more homework.

The people all have different backgrounds and ethnicity, even there dogs, yes, dogs are allowed, as long as they look like they just dropped acid. Creatives are the best. And so, here I brain storm with a man asking me about his kid in the jungle, if he could possibly use netting, while he helped me find Barbie sized adult beverages.

My concept of taking Barbie and making her bad ass, turning the good girl image around has gone a little far with the help of art directors, walking by and laughing, turning around to tell me to get needles, coke, rolled up dollar bills, smeared make up.

“Oh, and DEFINITELY get teeny tobasco bottles from Hobby Lobby,” a guy said, barely stopping but rolling past me as I smashed glass to look like barbie had fallen from a chandelier while partying.

Nothing hesitates these people when you need Barbie porn ideas, which is why I belong there. The men of course had great ideas, like to put the video camera in, to tie her hands behind her back in the bath tub scene, since she was obviously into dominatrix, her tiny little pink slippers elegantly next to Kat’s barbie toys I stole.
And so it has been, one adventure after another, laughter in between meltdowns, teachers that inspire or terrify, and the basic promise to myself to just do what is next in line, that I will have an emotional break down if I think about next week.

And so, I shall go finish my homework, my blog missed dearly for its grounding emotional quality it brings, so let the heart pounding begin, which when you hear what I do for homework, it is freakin hilarious.

So far, the assignments for shutter speed and aperture have had me decorating cars and grocery carts, having people spin them or slowly tap them, while a guitar lighter I found that makes sound and lights up has been the silent weapon to help me understand aperture and night settings. I have laughed watching people shoot pumpkins, offer up hand made potato guns, and I have turned my girls into lamps, covering them in lights, asking them to put on ski uniforms to be shot in the tub, for the irony, I said with irritation, Kat not getting the concept.

But, all of this is bullshit, you guys, until I take the perfect spoon, and so, I guess that is when I will be able to break the rules. You have to know them to break them, the only inspiration to do that tedious frustrating lighting to begin with, proving to myself I finally have the right to do what I want fearlessly, instead of happy accidents occurring from time to time.

Until that day, I shall make Barbie porn, dump naked people and shoes into big tanks of water to understand the perfect way to shoot something frozen in action, a creative answer that fuels me like gasoline because this is what I love, and nothing says that like Creatives, up all night writing curse words with sparklers and glow sticks, hoping to capture them perfectly on camera.

A spoon genius.

Auntie Sage

When my oldest brother brought home his future wife, I thought she was feminine, sweet, nurturing, and kind.
She was the leader of a sorority Bible study, authentic and pure, and had this endearing innocence that made you want to hug her, but not, seeing as she is not the huggy mushy type at all, a woman who clearly respected her space, always dressed in Ann Taylor type fashion, with perfect accessories, an air of respect even in tennis shorts, and might I add, has great posture. I thought that was hilarious that she understood my brother’s ways of showing affection, so unnatural and rude, her being so lady like, and yet, he would throw her over the couch like a potato sack, or into the walls with his elbows. She would roll her eyes, indignant, and I would laugh, watching her time after time, be pushed into the pool mid sentence, and wonder how such a classy girl put up with a man who flirted like a twelve year old.
Actually, twelve year old boys are way more mature.
We laugh now that he had warned her before we met that I was a hippy, something I wouldn’t call myself, but can completely understand from his point of view. She is everything I am not.
She is organized, detailed, private, family driven, being from a large network of grandparents who competed to love her, she always saw the importance in traditions, the master mind behind every family event. She is the apple dipped into caramel of fall, the cotton candy of summer, the smell of Christmas in winter, and the table of colored dye and candy eggs of Spring.

I wonder if she knows how much I marvel at her abilities, at what is just natural to her, while I am always holding my list of the two items she has assigned, breathing and praying I don’t forget the napkins and the ice, showing up with them and realizing sometimes she bought them anyway, probably just in case I forgot.

I have seen her grow from a college girl to a married woman to a mother in ten long hard years, and when I look back, I am amazed at what I have seen. The girl who burst into tears at our first Thanksgiving meal as a wife, who apologized and apologized for being homesick, a feeling I so understood when I first married, it just broke my heart. I saw her grieve her father’s heart attack, nurse my brother through a surgery so intense we thought we all might die from fright, a diagnosis we thought could be the end. She waited five years before my brother was ready to have the Prince, my nickname for my nephew, the most beautiful baby boy on the planet. She has been in every step of our experience with my father, through the destruction, and like Divorcee, she has experienced something no one else has language for but us. My favorite detail in getting to know her is that she is not sweet like I thought at all.

She is a warrior, someone you want on your side, so loyal that if you cross someone she loves, or considers family, I would be scared to pass her in the street, her fury of anything unjust you can see in her eyes, feel in her disgust. All the women who have broken the hearts of my brothers along with certain family members I shall refrain from listing, I dare them to cross her.

She is intuitive beyond belief, and it is has been hilarious to see her interact with women she has not believed correct for my brothers. She once turned to me, pregnant at the time, when one brother now married, had brought a rather obnoxious girl eating ribs while arguing loudly to the dinner table.

That is not the girl for him,” she hissed.

She walked all the way to the opposite end of the table from her, disgusted, not speaking to her the entire night, rolling her eyes, and I laughed and laughed. She was dead serious, like it was personal, which family is to her, something I find adorable and scary, my dating life being what it has been, wondering what man Auntie Sage would think right for me.

She has been right about them all so far.

I thought she was a sweet girl that David loved dearly but it wasn’t until I had children that I fell in love with her myself. It has been a humbling shattering ten years since she danced as my brother’s date, at my wedding, and I know I have been a source of incredible fear and pain for everyone in my family, especially when the girls came, and our marriage had become toxic.

Auntie Sage, I shall name her, when I was only bones from stress and grief, showed up with new outfits, toys, and gifts, bringing family to me, if that is what it would take. Kat is just like her in so many ways, in her love of family traditions, and Auntie Sage has shown her all the ways a family can be.

Lola is in love with her shoes, and Auntie Sage, unlike me, gets nice shoes, expensive jewelry, and designer purses. She brings her fashionable new boots and never pays for anything but the best, and she loves them with such purity and kindness that it is making me cry now, wondering how it would have impacted me to have had an Auntie Sage I could always count on, a real relationship with someone who loved me unconditionally as a child.

I see how it affects them in their little spirits, the way they light up when she walks in, the excitement of what she might have bought, or what she has baked, or how she will react when they tell her the latest news.

When I had to leave Divorcee, the most painful tragic fearful place of my life, my brother and she tucked a check in my hand, told me not to pay it back, her chin up and stubborn, and I’ll never forget that. I will never forget the way she mothered them and Baby bro, her gifts to my life have been unmeasurable.

She has taught me a lot about life, about myself.

She has taught me that family has nothing to do with personality, which ours are vastly different, life experiences, knowing we both live life as virtual polar opposites on this planet. Our way of dressing and thinking and being are nothing alike, her dedication to service and church on Sunday something I have always respected, knowing I can not be authentic in a religious system, and yet, I wonder if my own girls should go with her, wanting them to have a full spectrum of what is out there, to choose for themselves, a role

Auntie Sage has played brilliantly in my life.

Family is not about anything but love. I thought being from a house of a bunch of men would mean that having sisters would be holding hands and borrowing clothes, finishing sentences and sharing dreams, talking for hours, a fantasy I always wanted, jealous of everyone else that had it.

Auntie Sage is not my twin, nor do we talk on the phone, finish any sentence without confusion, and I hate lists nor do I cook, while she probably wants to choke me, never knowing if I need to be reminded again for the one thing I need to bring, showing up after she works and works to make each family function perfect. Love transcends all the details, because she is my sister after all, my family, and I wouldn’t change a thing about her, not for any best friend in the world.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Sage.
I bet you thought I forgot. Okay, maybe Nana did mention it, but it wasn’t like I had not written it down.

You are everything I wished I was, so what would I do without you, to complete the missing parts, to fill in the blanks, to make ice cream sundaes and buy ribbons for the girl’s hair?
I would be just a half, but your balance has made this family a whole.

Not to mention, the boys would have married and procreated monster children we would have had to endure for a lifetime, so I consider you not to only be Auntie Sage, but the sole leader as disaster future wife prevention, a title I owe you for life.
That and your promise to take Lola shopping when she is sixteen, for sparkly shiny shoes, lipstick, her call to smell the differences of Gucci and Coach remain a mystery to me, being she is only four.
Me, Kat, and the Prince will wait for you guys to come home, eat whatever you have in the fridge, forget the lists and wander about till we find an adventure and we will burst through the door, late, to tell you guys as you model what you bought, and it will be family, a reminder of my favorite quote that “Normal is just a setting on the dryer.”

Clyde

I have been asked by several people to write a book about some of my dating experiences. OUCH.

I admit that after my divorce I didn’t give a damn, became somewhat a serial dater, protecting my heart so insanely that it just made sense to date the outrageous and ridiculous, rather than risk finding something real.

In fact, I wasn’t real. Not really. Not yet.

I think I will eventually write about some of these experiences, like Mr. Electric, who picked me up at church, took me to Moe‘s, and bought me a car the next day. I think about all the musicians and I just cringe, especially B. H. Rocker, who screamed into microphones and called it music, believing he was so huge underground that I should have to walk behind him into bars. It was for my safety, you see.

The man wore pigtails and different colorful bandanas for God’s sake.

There was the man prescribed to me by my doctor, Prescription Dan, who after coffee, sent a penis shot captured in the midst of ejaculation, a stream so brilliantly photographed, I can’t figure out how he did it. A tripod? My doctor was profusely apologetic.

I think you get the point.

After being devastated with my last boyfriend leaving to live on a boat in Italy, I decided it was time for me to take some serious time out, to refocus, to think about who I was and what I wanted out of life. I buried myself in self help books and work, and at first, I didn’t like what I saw. I avoided mirrors and had night sweats, breaking addictions to sleeping pills and anxiety meds.

I found that all my coping mechanisms came in the form of blue tablets called Xanex and without them, I had to rediscover ways to function. The first thirty days were terrifying. I put one foot in front of the other, took on one day at a time, let every scary emotion I had been running from come to the surface. I wasn’t used to feeling anything much less everything, all at once, all the time.

I felt like I would never stop crying and that I had been issued one big life sentence, a lifetime of pain for all the mistakes I had made, for all the hurt I had accumulated and had been unwilling to address.

And then something rather shocking happened.

Thirty days turned to Sixty and then to Ninety and by the time six months was approaching, I was beginning to not only become comfortable but actually like my own skin. A spark I forgot existed began to ignite inside of me and I was effortlessly laughing, creating, dreaming.

Until my friend M decided it was time for me to be set up on a first date. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Hell no. NO WAY.

I wanted to vomit. I listed out every reason why I was one big mess and she laughed me off saying it would be fun, great, and well past due! It began with text messages and he had this irritating way of making me smile constantly, pulling me in to compulsively checking my phone again and again for what he would say next.

We decided to meet the day after Valentine’s Day and quite frankly, I kind of hoped it might be disastrous, so that I could wipe my hands of this risky relationship business, something I was so tired of failing at.

And well, he wasn’t a disaster at all, damn it.

he was smart, and funny, and kind, and yes, sexy.

The entire time he talked I wondered what the hell he would do with a girl like me. He was a gentleman, thoughtful, believed in taking his time in relationships and I respected him immediately.

There was also something so endearing about his open and honest nature, telling me things about his past relationship that made me know he was healing as well. He let me know things right away that were not easy for me to handle at all, but for some reason, I just couldn’t find any of them reason enough to walk away. And believe me, I tried.

And Oh my goodness, is he funny. Silly, actually and very childlike.

And a really good friend.

On our third date, we went to the movies. It was fun, relaxing, and I didn’t really want it to end at all. He drove me back to my car where we talked for at least an hour, until I noticed a man in a hooded jacket cut across the parking lot, his eyes darting back and forth, and my stomach started to turn.

I felt something might be dreadfully wrong. I felt my blood pressure rise and my heart stop and I worried about what Clyde might have to do, knowing he kept his gun close, having been robbed at gunpoint just earlier this year.

The shady dude slowly opened my car door. I almost vomited. In a flash, I saw every scary horrible scenario flash through my mind like a series of bad movies, but happening to me, to Clyde, to the people who might never see me again.

I froze. My jaw clenched tightly, my fists tight.

“Is that your car, K?” Clyde said quickly, pointing to my actual car a few feet ahead of me, where the relief of the moment melted from shock to hysterics.

I couldn’t stop laughing. It reminded me of nervous relief, and I am definitely the kind of girl that laughs at funerals.

I have been living on edge so long, waiting for someone to hurt me, to break into my car, to crush my heart into a million pieces, to lie, hurt, and suddenly disappear.

My mind has taken over and I see that it has been playing tricks on me, and somehow I had turned a man with a sweatshirt getting in his vehicle into a possible murder scene where I lost my car, possibly Clyde, and myself. I

realize now that I have made the same mistake with my heart, giving it away to unusual suspects and jerking it back before some unlivable crime is committed and in doing this, I have become guarded, afraid, and alone.

I don’t know if I give Clyde my heart some day if he will break it into a million pieces. I just met him.

I don’t know if I can handle the hurt of another failed relationship, what and how much the human spirit can take, but I must have the courage to at least try.

I guess this is what it means to trust, to feel the fear and do it anyway, to surrender to now, to live in the joy of today.

I guess this is what it means to be real.