Friday, December 13, 2013

My Love Wears Pajamas

Remember when you were a kid on a sleep over? Remember how much fun you had with your friends staying up way later than you should have? Those were some of my favorite memories from childhood.

Once we get older we get dressed up. We get dressed up to go to work, we get dressed up to go out on dates. We get dressed up because we want to project the best version of ourselves. Yet even as an adult I have come to realize that some of the most meaningful moments of my life have been spent in my pajamas.

I had an awful day at work and my best friend offered to hang out with me. It was finals week and he was in the middle of taking tests and writing papers. The only time he had available was late at night. I had to be back at work before the sun came up but I still wanted him to come over. When he came to the door I was already wearing my pajamas. A bright pink top with dark blue mismatching bottoms that are much too long for my height. We each grab a beer from the fridge, sat at the table, and unleashed conversation.

We talked about the day and it was such a comfort to know one person who would put their busy life on hold to make me feel like a priority even it was so late at night. It is hard to find time when we are both so busy but I cherish the fact that there is no time of day or night that we would not save for each other.

As the conversation began to wind down we glanced at the clock. It was 1:30 in the morning.

"Don't you have to be up for work soon?" he laughed.
"It was worth it" I smiled and I walked him to the door. The bottoms of my pajama pants sweeping the tile floor at my feet.

I let his empty beer bottle linger on my kitchen counter until the next morning. A reminder that the best company does not require getting dressed up. The best company shows up when you need it the most. 

Not long after that another best friend had to be hospitalized over the Thanksgiving holiday. She was sent home to tough out the remainder of her pain. She called me early that morning and asked if I would pick up her prescriptions.

"Of course" I said and I drove to her house. I didn't even think about getting dressed. I left the house in a pair of pajama shorts speckled with paint and a sweater that is becoming patterned with holes.

When I arrived with the medications I watched as she began read the bottles trying to remember which one was the one that was making her nauseous. A sat with her as she called her mother to give her an update. Her dogs became the guardians at our feet while she talked about the future and how her current condition could affect her.

We talked until the medications began to make her sleepy again. We curled up on the couch under soft blankets and I watched as she began to doze off. Just when I was sure she was about to fall asleep she looked up at me and said "True love is being able to take a nap with someone." I couldn't agree more.

I have known her since high school and lived together for a total of five years. In the process of become best friends and my most beloved roommate we achieved a certain level of comfort. Although it may be fun to get dressed up I realize that my favorite people in this world are the ones you can be at ease with when you may feel that you are at your worst. 

This body composed of curves isn't made to fit into structured lines. I want a love that is beyond conventional. I want a love that is completely at peace. No need to look your best, just to be comfortable in being nothing but who you truly are.

Colorful, worn-in, and relaxing - My love wears pajamas.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Survivor

Back in 2011 I visited my best friend who was living in Virginia at the time. We went to Washington D.C. and I was thrilled to see that the Natural History Museum had a featured exhibit on human evolution. I ended up coming across something that stuck with me for a long time. 

The hallways were filled with fascinating displays and I bounded from one glass case to the next. There were weapons and recreations of cave paintings. Colorful maps of how we spread across the Earth lined the walls.

Off-set in one of the smaller rooms was a modest yet profound gallery. It held mostly fragments of bone. It was a room dedicated to our ancestors who died by harsh means. It was meant to serve as a reminder that most of our history was a very real struggle between life and death. 

There was the small fossilized foot of a toddler with crocodile teeth marks torn all the way through. Grooves made by jaguar teeth decorate the skull of an adolescent. But the one I remember the most was the skull and arm bones of an adult male. 

Walking up to his display case my first assumption was that he died from the large dent left in his skull, but the huge difference in the size between his right and left arm raised my curiosity.

The explanation next to the bones reads as follows: Blow to the head - At young age this Neanderthal experienced a crushing blow to his head. It damaged the left eye socket and the brain area that controls the right side of the body, leading to a withered right arm. Nevertheless, he lived until 35-45 years of age. His group must have looked after him. 

As it turns out this individual suffered a blow to his head early in his life that not only crushed in part of his skull and left eye socket but it had also damaged the part of the brain that we now know controls the right side of the body. His right arm bone was far more slender and weaker than his apparently normal left arm.

What was so remarkable about his massive injuries was that based on the healing of the bones scientists were able to determine that this individual lived to be in his late thirties to early forties - which was about the average life expectancy.

How on earth could a man crippled physically - as well as possibly mentally and emotionally - survive so many years beyond the initial injury? What was even more astonishing was that he was not even a modern human. He was a Neanderthal.

Hundreds of thousands of years before modern medicine and what we would consider society, healthy males were needed to hunt. He, more than likely, would not have been able to participate in such rough and demanding physical activity. He would have been a burden. Yet his age and the healing of his bones tell a unexpectedly beautiful story: He was looked after.

He would never have been able to survive on his own after sustaining such a traumatic injury. But there were those who would not leave him behind. He was feed, clothed, and given shelter. He remained with his tribe and whatever burden he may have been, he was not abandoned.

We don't often think of Neanderthals in this way. They are presented to us as a brutish, less intelligent versions of ourselves. They faded away and so we assumed dominance. But slowly it is beginning to emerge that this lost species had achieved a surprising amount of culture. The oldest known cave paintings and burial sites are thought to be Neanderthal. And when you are looking at the bones of a Neanderthal who could never have survived alone, it is impossible to see them without a culture. The level of compassion for this man must have been amazing.

It makes you wonder how he even got hurt in the first place. Who was the one who found him or was with him when it happened? How did they even treat his wounds at the time? Today we can see how the injury affected him physically but we can never know the full extent of the damage. Did the blow to his head hinder his eyesight? Did it affect his memory? Did he suffer from chronic headaches? Did it change his personality in some way? Did those who looked after him feel like they lost a part of him or were they relived that they still had him around? How did he compensate for the lack of development on the right side of his body? How did he cope with knowing he would never be the same again?

Other visitors to the museum move past me, eager to see the next exhibit. I stand still looking down at his skull with my fingers pressed against the glass. It is a miracle that someone even found his remains. What are the odds that I'd be standing over a man that died so long ago and be able to know a little bit about his life? I have so many questions that I will never know the answers to. Sometimes all you can do is just let yourself feel. I am so moved by the life of this man and what he must have gone through. I am grateful for this touching window into the past and this profound example of humanity. My eyes tear up and I linger by his bones. For a moment the distance between our lives seems so small. The museum buzzes with movement around me but I remain still. I share a moment of silence with this survivor.

Monday, November 18, 2013

DRIP's One Year Anniversary

On Saturday, November 16th DRIP celebrated one year of being open on International Drive in Orlando Florida. It was a night to honor our success as well as our family of supporters. Past and present cast members could all be seen side by side in a delightful reunion. It was beautifully overwhelming to be surrounded by so much love and creativity. 


Tinkerbelle has been with the show since before we opened our doors and she was instrumental in coming up with the shows lighting design. Dimitri originally came to the show as a guest in March. He loved the show so much that he saw it multiple times and asked if he could work with us. For the past year I have worked with Tink and Dimitri the closest and they have become good friends as well as an adorable couple. Tink received her first tattoo on the day of our anniversary. It matched Dimitri's and highlights their love of the Harry Potter series. 


After the show the band was planning on moving into the bar area to perform more songs and keep the party going. We had a singer joining us for the event but David, our musical director, asked the cast and crew if they wanted to sing any songs. Tink, pictured above with the band, practices her performance of Ylvis's viral hit "What Does The Fox Say?"

I also got the chance to sing. I performed "I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. My best friend Matt was en route to the show when I was called up to the stage. I began singing and was overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm from my fellow cast members, most of whom had no idea that I could sing. It was my first time singing in front of an audience and there I was with a full band behind me and 130 guests watching. I had a blast doing it! It is something that I wish I did more often and I was truly grateful for the experience. 

Just as I began the second verse Matt rushed in through the door waving his hands. Our eyes meet and I smiled. I was so happy that he made it in the nick of time. 


After I got off stage we embraced and he smiled "I had no idea you could do that!" I was so overjoyed to have him there with me that night. 


This is one of my favorite photos from that night. Mariko, our CEO and Creative Director, decided to surprise us with framed posters that said "Original Cast and Crew". From left to right: Jessie Sander, our principal dancer who has also done a considerable amount of production work with us as well, Mariko, Tink, and myself. The four of us have been a solid team long before we opened the doors.

This past year has certainly been one of the most rewarding years of my life. Looking back it is amazing to see how far we have come and how hard we all strived. I could not imaging working with better group of people. I know in my heart that we have become an unstoppable force and that this was only the beginning.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Feet: Part 7


Resting my legs on the wall adjacent to my bed. One of the first pictures I took in my new apartment. I thoroughly enjoy having the place all to myself. 


Watching the waves rush past my feet back to the ocean on an overcast summer getaway. 


One of the first things I do when I get home from work is remove my shoes. As soon as I did I realized that I had to go to the laundry room. I grabbed a pair of sandals and headed out. As I was reaching for my keys I looked down and laughed. I was still in my black uniform but my feet looked unusually tropical. 


The photo was taken after I got home from a DRIP show. The paint had soaked through my clothes and shoes to create an interesting swirl pattern - as well as imprint the elastic band of my sock. 


The photo was originally sent to one of my friends as a joke after I had finally worn out a pair of sandals. When we met up I said "You know, I realized that it might have been a little strange sending you a photo of my feet. Sorry if that was weird."

He laughed "I knew you were at DRIP from the concrete floor and the sand. But I was more surprised that you had perfectly painted toenails." 

"Yeah" I smiled "It's kinda my thing." 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The T-shirt Workshop

Part of the experience of coming to a DRIP show is getting your t-shirt cut by one of our designers. Recently, our Creative Director decided that it would be beneficial for our other staff member to learn some of the basics. We gathered any old clothing to practice on and we met for the workshop. 

The following photos are the result of our creative experiments running wild. 


This is Kirby, one of the guitarists for the show. He is modeling a shirt that I got carried away with.  The words on the shirt read "Who needs Photoshop when you have a body like this." 


Kirby and one of our crew members Dimitri - joyfully playing with the newly cut fringe on their shirts. 


Jessie, one of our principal dancers, modeling a very official "Sacurrity" t-shirt with a twisted waistband and one missing sleeve. 


Musical Director David modeling some of the left over sleeves while guitarist Steve contemplates his next design. 


Crew member Ashlyn works diligently while Dimitri models his mask. 

I cherish this silly days of child-like silliness and creativity. We grow so much when we allow ourselves to play. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Last Flight

I was walking into Walgreens one day when I noticed something unusual on the ground. I decided to get a closer look. 


It appeared that a tiny little bird accidently flew into the exterior wall of the building and a fell to its death. Its wings were still partially spread out as though it was still in mid fight. Beyond that, there were no other signs of injury or disease. It looked as though the small piece of plant material may have been carried by the bird before it fell. 

Poor little thing. She must not have been there long before I found her. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Goddess of War


I want love scratched from my memory. Remove from the back of my eyelids so I may have one place to find solace. Take it from my heart for it interferes with the rhythm of my joy.

Or maybe it’s just your version of it that I've grown distasteful of.  

It is blessing to have a courageous heart and strong mind but a curse to be the only one. I still know what treasures they are so I refuse to wish them away. Rather, I will cultivate them and make them my most powerful weapons. Yet I still crave to be more at peace with my destiny:

“Stay on the path as much as you can. It is your path only.”

A message given from the Oracle -  I already know these words will haunt me.

Those who assume themselves to be victors are the ones who perceive love to be a game. 
But I am not the Queen of Hearts; I am the Goddess of War.

And you cannot conquer something you cannot control. If you knew what forces you were provoking you would never tempt Fate.

Love, seduction, and scandal belong to Aphrodite. I have no use for them. I want justice. Retribution. Let this be my battle cry. I want to use your sins as currency. You will be in debt for mistakes you could never afford to make.

You can not bargain with me because you do not have anything I want. My ears are deaf to the pleas of the weak. If you were fighting for the right reasons you never have to beg for anything - especially forgiveness. The dead weight of your corrupt heart is more burden than I would ever choose to bare.

There is a reason I don't take prisoners. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thank You For Reminding Me

Thank you for reminding me that even though I don't always get what I want, I do always get just what I need.

Thank you for reminding me that new friendships can be just as meaningful as ones that have a long history.

Thank you for reminding me of the joy of checking my phone for no other reason than the messages you send make me smile.

Thank you for reminding me that swearing, sarcasm, and making random noises at each other can be the basis of a language that is good enough to be ours alone.

Thank you for reminding me that unladylike behavior can get you farther in life than following the rules. And that being called a bitch by someone of like mind is a compliment just as much as it is coming from someone who is threatened by you.

Thank you for reminding me that being unique and intimidating is nothing to apologize for.

Thank you for reminding me that this job only pays minimum wage and we are going to make it worth while by laughing through it. You can turn a mundane day into magic.

Thank you for reminding me that moving past the hurt of previous relationships can be beautiful and liberating. I wish I had your strength years ago.

Thank you for reminding me that giving the boys a run for their money is giving them just what they need. The strong ones will understand.

Thank you for reminding me that drinking wine, painting nails, and talking shit are the ties that bind.

Thank you for reminding me what it feels like to have one female friend who not only reminds me of my childhood but makes me feel like my inner child is the most accessible part of myself.

Thank you for reminding me that I need to make more time to enjoy life. You have given me so many reasons to laugh.

Thank you for reminding me that getting into trouble is completely worth it.

Thank you for reminding me that being smart, tough, and crazy is only way to be.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Swing

At DRIP the crew and I arrive early to set up the show. One day I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back Tink and Dimitri had decided it was play time. 


Their moves could have put the performers to shame. 


I love having a job that allows me to access my inner child so readily and I cherish the fun we can muster even on the busiest of days. These two can light the room with their smiles.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Murky Depths

During my trip to the Tampa Aquarium one of the most captivating creatures I came across was also one of the most challenging to get a good look at - the Octopus. 

At first I approached the dark tank not sure what I was supposed to be looking at. Then I saw one long arm pressed against the glass towards the bottom. He was hiding in the shadows under a rocky canopy. 


He was difficult to see and most other people at the aquarium passed by without a second look. I knelt down to be at his eye level. He moved his tentacle aside and shifted to get a better look at me. 


We started at each other for a few moments.

For such a foreign looking animal people often over look how intelligent they are. Beautifully sensitive and surprisingly powerful, there is a long list of things they are capable of. They can detect signs of underwater volcanic activity well before any tangible clues become evident and they have an astonishing ability to change the color and texture of their skin in the blink of an eye.

There are also many stories of octopi who have escaped tanks only to be found walking around in a lab or breaking in to food storage containers.

We continue to study each other through the glass that divides our two lives and I wonder if he requires any special precautions.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Tampa Aquarium

One day my best friend Amber called me and asked if I would take a trip to Tampa for a girls weekend. I jumped at the chance. She had recently gotten married and I was working two jobs so we hadn't had many chances to catch up with each other. A weekend to ourselves sounded like a perfect idea. 

On a whim we ended up going to the Florida Aquarium. I hadn't been in years and I loved every minute of it. 


The Upside Down Jellyfish. Normally it does what its name suggests, but these three individuals were pulsing with their bells pressed against the glass. 


This stream of bubbles was filtering its way up to the top of one of the tanks. I love the way I was able to catch the view from under the surface of the water all the way up to trees and glass ceiling above. 


This lovely little Sea Turtle had a missing front flipper from a previous accident. I was lucky enough to snap this shot while he was resting at the bottom just as a shark was swimming past. 


Some tiny fish darting past some elegant sea grass. 


Amber silhouetted in the process of capturing the image of a fish against the neon backdrop of the tank. 


Certainly one of my more unique shots from the trip. This tank was supposed to hold a tiny octopus but was instead undergoing some minor renovations. 


Stunning shot of a beam of sunlight slicing through a murky tank. 


A school of Lookdowns swirling around a column. 


One of my absolute favorite places in any aquarium is the Stingray touch tank. Once the harmful barbs are removed these surprisingly docile creatures become easily approachable. I never get tired of watching children smile when one glides just under their finger tips. I was lucky enough to get a shot of this young man petting one of the Stingrays who seemed to enjoy the attention. 






A delicate Sea Horse gently wrapped around a small patch of sea weed. 


A "bouquet" of Sea Horses. 


I took this photo on the drive home. The famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the distance behind the rain drizzled windshield. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Morning Routine

There aren't many occasions where I get to sleep in. Those lazy morning usually start early anyway.

My cat loves to wake me up around 8:00am so I can feed him. After he is done eating he will climb back on my bed and insist that I open up the blinds for him so that he can enjoy the view.  He will lay on the pillow as close to my face as possible, and together we greet the day.


Friday, August 30, 2013

The Only One

My father is an only child who's mother passed away when he was twelve. Her name was Marie and she died 23 years before I was born but my parents gave me her name as my middle name. There aren't many photos from my dad's side of the family, but I treasure the ones we have.

Years ago I was looking through some of the photos and I came across an unusual one. It was a small photo of my father sitting in between my grandparents holding the family dog. The frame was very old and seemed heavy and awkward. I asked my father about it and he told me that it wasn't actually a picture frame at all. It was an old clock that had stopped working. Rather than repair it, my grandfather took out all the internal mechanisms and inserted the photograph. I feel in love with it right then and there. Not only was it a beautiful photo but it resided in a frame that my grandfather had made. He loved the clock so much that he wanted to use it to hold a family photo.

The last time I saw my grandfather was when I was twelve years old. He lived in Wisconsin and his house seemed like it was filled with magic. The two story house was old and it was stuffed with relics from the past. I had never seen so many antiques packed into one place before. It was interesting because they belonged to him and everything had a story.

I remember when we visited I stayed in the room in the attic, which had been my father old bedroom. It was hot because their was little air circulation from the rest of the house. I found a box with a desk fan from the 60's which had never been opened. I pulled out the fan - it had these bright blue translucent blades and it was in perfect condition. I plugged it in and worked flawlessly. I also found one of the purses my grandmother used to have. My grandfather had kept it all those years. When I opened it I found a tube of her lipstick that was half used. The tip was shaped by the angle she held it at her mouth when she applied it. I also found her emergency card with instructions on how to take care of her diabetes if she every became ill while she was out. I remember sitting in the attic with tears rolling down my cheeks. The only thing I ever had from my grandmother was her name. To sit there and hold something that she had with her everyday was beautiful. I never felt so close to my grandmother.

I felt the same way when I held the old clock that my grandfather had turned into a picture frame. He passed away a few years after we had visited him. His house was sold and we only had a few things left that belonged to him. The most meaningful one to me was the clock he loved enough to re-purpose into a frame for a family photo. I loved the photo of my family but I also loved it even more because it was in something that he worked on.

For years I had it proudly displayed my room. When I moved to Orlando it moved with me. Eight moves in under ten years and that photo has always been in a place of honor.

Recently my parents came to visit me and my father noticed the photo. He hadn't seen it in years. He held it in his hands and said "Take good care of this. It is the only photo of me and my parents together."

"Really?" I was shocked "This is the only photo of you, grandma, and grandpa together?"
"Yes" He said "This is the only one."

I guess it was hard for me to believe at first. Cameras are so pervasive today but they were far less common and much more expensive when my father was a child. I had loved this photo all these years and I am still finding out how unique and special that it truly is.


The photo of my grandfather, father, and grandmother from April 1959. Approximately one year before my grandmother passed way. My father, who was eleven at the time, is holding the family dog Terry in his lap. (We love to tease my mother about this because her name is Terri). They are sitting on the couch that was in the living room in their house in Wisconsin. The photo was taken by family friends and you can see their reflection in the mirror above my grandparents heads as well as the flash that went off when the photo was taken.

I chose to shoot this photograph on the sidewalk outside of my apartment. To me it has become a beautiful symbol of the passing of time. The photo was taken in black and white in Wisconsin in 1959, placed in an antique clock by my grandfather and kept all these years. It was taken down to Florida and it now kept by me - the oldest grandchild the one who is named after my grandmother.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Cicada

I stumbled across this unusual sight when I arrived home from work. Just to the right of my door was a cicada. Most of the time I have only seen the shed exoskeletons that they leave behind. This was the first time I had ever seen one newly emerged as an adult. 


It was still clinging to its old skin and had not yet achieved its true darker color. Its soft and vulnerable body was still shiny in the flash of the camera. Its long, iridescent wings building strength before it takes its first flight to the trees to sing.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Electric Storm

I took this photo while riding with my friend in the car. We were coming back from Wekiwa Springs after being rained out. At this point it was no longer raining, however, the sky was still buzzing with activity. 


I love the way the frenetic energy of the sky is mirrored by the blurred lights as we drove by. The short bursts of neon yellow in contrast to the cosmic swirls of blue and gray. Most dusk skies are full of serenity, but this sky looked like a beautifully chaotic electric storm.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Grecian

I recently came across this sketch I had made a while back while waiting for some repairs to be done on my car. I find that my need to create and fill time has lead to the production of some unexpected and beautiful pieces. 



Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Battle Scars For The Warrior Queen

On June 27th I managed to fall twelve feet off a ladder. I landed in relative safety only to have the ladder come crashing down on my face. I had to pull myself out from under the ladder and find my coworkers for assistance. They took me to the nearest emergency room where I received a tetanus shot, two rounds of X-rays, and eight stitches. Turns out I had a broken nose.

I still consider myself lucky. I had managed to break the bone, not the cartilage, so nothing needed to be reset. I just had to wait for the bone to heal. As I laid there getting stitched I realized that this was the first time in my life I had broken a bone. I also remembered that my grandfather had broken his nose when he was a young man, however, he had broken the cartilage. He nose was never the same after that but it did give him a slightly more rugged appearance that was very reminiscent of Clint Eastwood. That little thought brought me a lot of comfort as I stared up at the hospital ceiling. 

I also remembered my grandfather saying things like "Don't use up all your tears now. You've got to save some for later."

After the doctor was done giving me my stitches Mariko asked if I wanted her to take a photo. I said yes. 

Thursday , June 27 at the Dr. Phillips Hospital - Photo by Mariko.

I know most people would never dream of having their photo taken right after they get stitches, but being the kind of photographer that I am I thought it would be a great opportunity. I was glad she was there to take pictures. 

Even though I had never broken a bone before I still have many cuts and scrapes on my body. I never bought into the idea that the only way for me to be pretty is to have perfectly smooth skin. Being an artist has made given me the knowledge that it is more important to create. My hands will have many cuts and my legs will have many bruises. The scars are a reminder of what you have survived and overcome. I never wanted to hide my face because I was never ashamed of what happened. On the contrary - I am very proud of my body's ability to heal and what I have been able to do. 

Thursday, June 27th - Photo by Mariko. 

I decided to continue with the photographs until my stitches were removed. 

Friday, June 28th

Day one: I sat by the computer with my "breakfast" admiring how bad the bruise had gotten. I'm wondering if my red lipstick is going to clash with these raccoon eyes. 

Saturday, June 29th

My mother and sister came to visit over the weekend to make sure I was ok. I was a little surprised to see the bruising had reached both sides of my face. 

Saturday, June 29th

That very same night I performed in the show at DRIP. Most people expected me to take the day off. I certainly would have had a good reason, but I am much tougher than that. I love the defiance in my eyes and the satisfaction I achieved from doing my job. 

Sunday, June 30th

Going to the Lake Eola Farmers Market with my mother and sister. This was the first attempt I made at looking decent since I broke my nose. 

Monday, July 1st

The puffiness in my face was finally starting to subside, however, I still wanted a close up shot of all the extra color around my eye. 

Monday, July 1st

I took this photo after one of my shifts at Starbucks. Most customers would stare at my face but were too afraid to ask about it. I am sure most people assumed it was the result of domestic violence. I was never ashamed of my face or tried to cover it up in any way. Frankly, I preferred to make jokes about it. I often replied to customers stares with "I was in a cage fight." 

Tuesday, July 2nd

Wednesday, July 3rd

Thursday, July 4th

Red lips, white skin, and blue stitches... Happy 4th of July! 

Friday, July 5th

And finally - the stitches are out! I can scratch my nose in peace.