Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Sweet Spot

(All pics. snapped on 5/30/11)

After posting the pictures from a couple of entries ago, the ones with the creek and the vine-covered tree? A little birdy told me that if I turned left, instead of right (duh) on the path that had gotten me to that wonderful place - I'd end up at an even more spectacular spot...which quite frankly, I found hard to believe. But? Whatever. Main thing was, I woke up yesterday morning - ready to find out for myself if it was true. I also awoke after only four hours of sleep - feeling positive and upbeat for the first time in eons, and on a mission to try and stay cool...since it was shaping up to be an oppressively scorching hot day.

Once there on the path, I navigated my way through waist-high prickers and other flora, wondering if I'd ever even find the creek beyond all that overgrowth. But when the rushing sound of water began to gradually crescendo, practically drowning out the din of weed-eaters and lawnmowers and folks yelling at their dogs from their yards - I knew that it would lead me to the mystery location.

However, before leaving the path to attempt navigating my way to the creek - I couldn't resist snapping some pics. of myself scampering over to this fallen tree, and up as high I as I could get in 10 seconds, while allowing enough time to get in position, and try to look like I'd been lazily lying on the limb for awhile...

I'm here to tell ya, this was not as easy as it looks. After 20-some tries, my arms and shoulders ached from having hurriedly hoisted my body up so high. The temperature was soaring, and I was absolutely drenched. It's like this - if I had 'em, I'd have been sweating my balls off. But when the flies began greedily feeding off of the blood from the cuts on both of my knees - I was done. No matter how many times I tried to shoo 'em away, they belligerently returned to keep was freaky.

I collected my stuff and with both arms full, I methodically made my way through the absurdly dense, seemingly never-ending thicket - cussing, and stooped-over in a hunch the whole way. 

By this point, I was more excited about dunking my bedraggled body in some cool, moving water - than I was about staging was so flippin' hot out. And can I just tell you? When I finally came out of the brush to see this? It felt as if I'd reached Nirvana...I literally could...not...believe what was there before my eyes.

After processing the preternatural beauty of this place, while decadently swimming in the pool below the falls - I knew that it was time to get my butt back to work. 

Now one would think that getting good pics. in a setting this superb - would be a cinch, but holy cow did I struggle! Not only to convincingly plant myself amid such natural magnificence, but also to capture a respectable amount of it within each frame. In nearly every shot, I either felt swallowed-up by the greatness of the scene, or that I was incapable of harnessing its magnitude.

I took piles and piles of pics., none of which did the place justice...and in order to ward off encroaching frustration - I thought it might be helpful to take 5. 

While tucked away out of the sun, perched on a cool, moss-covered rock by the waterfall - it occurred to me that it was the first time ever on a shoot, that I was just as content to sit still and do nothing but soak up my stellar surroundings, as I was to be photographing myself among them. It was such a huge relief to feel so calm and peaceful...and to revel in my alone time, once again.

But...for as much as I needed and appreciated the break, I'm hyper and can never sit still for very long. I decided to dive right back into my pics., this time though, I would try aiming my camera in the opposite direction of the falls, towards a more humble, less intimidating part of the creek - hoping it might make a more manageable backdrop.

On my way over to do the nightgown pics., I had to slop through an oozy, muddy bog. I chanted, "Ew?...ew?...ew?" with every slow, squishy step - but only 10 pictures into the nightgown theme, the proverbial light bulb went off and I thought, "Dude...wait. What tha hell am I doing?! I gotsta get down in that muck!"

Upon first sight, I'd thought that the waterfall, and the lagoon-ish green pool - would undoubtedly set the stage for the best pics. of the bunch....but no. It wasn't until I wallowed in that stinky, smooshy mud pit - in front of a nondescript, steep, sandy bank - that I truly found my sweet spot that day...

I havta give a shout-out to the friend who kept me up so late the night before - trust me, the enlightening and uplifting repartee we shared - more than made up for the resulting lack of sleep. Thank you so much for helping me brush myself off - and begin moving forward a bit. 

I also need to thank the "little birdy" who gave me the tip about this incredible venue...oh my god I owe ya' major! Love, love...

And although you'll probably think this is utterly ridiculous - Thanks also to Rob Dyrdek and his Fantasy Factory...the last episode I watched inspired me to snag the phrase "sweet spot" (as always) the show reminded me to think positively, and aim high.

And last but not least - Thank You, dear Mother Nature...for providing so many sweet spots - not just for my pics., but also for sanctuary from the upheaval in my life...

Saturday, May 28, 2011


(Snapped on 4/18/11)

Welp, it's decided...I'm going back to my hermit-like ways.

Sure as hell can't be any worse than these last coupla weeks have been.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beyond the Pale

(Snapped on 3/22/11)

This year, for the first time that I can ever remember - I was actually fond of my white, winter skin. Normally I dread the onset of wintertime's pallor, but because I liked how it looked in my pics. - for once I was grateful for a creamy complexion. 

See the thing is - there were times last summer when I thought that my lily white ass, and boobs that had barely ever seen the light of day - contrasted too severely with my otherwise tawny skin, and detracted from the intended effect of certain of my self-portraits.

(This and all pics. below snapped on 5/23/11)

And as much as I'd like to stay pale for my pics., it's that time of year again...when getting a suntan is practically unavoidable, since I spend so much of each day outside in the sun. The time of year when wearing a bikini is de rigueur (mais bien sur!) as swimming pool attire, and to tolerate the heat while working in my yard, but mostly to ward off a far worse alternative - an unsightly farmer's tan...ew.

For the sake of this summer's self-portraits however, I've decided to adopt a slightly altered plan of action - a more effective line of defense against acquiring tan lines...and that is: whenever (and wherever) possible, I shall spend my time outdoors - completely naked. So there ya' go.

Now obviously, if I'm at the pool, or on the river, or mowing the part of my yard which is right by the road - I've no choice but to cover up a leetle - which does mean there'll be no way of completely avoiding a bikini tan. But I'm hoping that by goin' native and commando, at least part of the time - I'll minimize how noticeable it is.

All right...I hate to say it, but unfortunately here's the part where the carefree tone of this entry, must take a dramatic turn towards the somber...I mean surely after my last two posts, you couldn't possibly have thought that this one would be all sunshine and roses...m'I right?  

Lemme see if I can gingerly explain why I've dumped so much mopiness on you lately, without resorting to the indelicate methods which I used to air my dirty laundry - in my old Big Ugly Blog. In fact, let's stay on the subject of my old blog for a might help to make sense of this mess.

This time last year, I was in the throes of my passion for online dating, and blogging about every gory detail - but was simultaneously discovering a fondness for dash photography...and by mid-summer I had all but phased-out my incessant commingling, to instead focus full-force on a newfound love of 10 second timer self-portraiture. Practically overnight, I had conquered my addiction to racking up innumerable sexual conquests - to have instead become utterly self-absorbed.

I've spent the last 10 months essentially alone, minus a few little slip-ups here and there - but none kept me captivated for very long. And what surprised me the most about the sudden shift from social butterfly to shut-in - was that being a solitary person actually suits me. Flying solo has afforded me the luxury of sheer freedom - to take pictures, to edit and write about them when I want, and all without the pressure of a nagging partner attempting to stake claim on my precious alone time...or a sense of duty to feel that I should forfeit it to them.

But recently I left the confines of my insular, little world...and in doing so - I realized that no matter how content I've convinced myself that I am - something has definitely been missing during this time of self-imposed isolation. I was reminded that one can only go for so long without satisfying the basic human need for physical contact - sadly in this case however, I wound up mixing it up with a person who's actually in no position to have come a-callin'…but also a person possessing many of the qualities that I look for (but rarely find) in a man...and someone for whom I would gladly sacrifice the safe haven of my solitude...

The biggest bitch about all of this, is that suddenly the precious "alone time" that I've relished for so long...only feels lonely, anymore.

I woke up early yesterday morning, with a sour stomach...again...and drove over to Sheetz to fetch a few supplies. As I walked past the newsstand, something on the front page of the local newspaper grabbed me. It was a story so horrifically tragic and close to home, that before I'd left the parking lot I could barely see to drive for all the tears.

By the time I got home, things were much more in perspective. Worrying about whether my skin is tan or not, crying over unattainable boys, wondering if anything good will ever happen - all paled in comparison to the devastating news story. I felt ashamed for getting worked up about problems so comparatively insignificant, and in my immediate and dire need to briefly block it all out - I did the thing that always helps me feel better...I went out and took pictures for hours...and it worked.

(BIG thanks to my friend who offered up his gorgeous secret spot - the setting for this mental health photo shoot)

But at the end of the day, it was back to the reality of dealing with my own messy life. Thanks to this therapeutic photo shoot, though - I had definitely mellowed-out a bunch...

Nevertheless, I'm still on the fence about whether to revert back to the security of my hermit-like ways (because despite this little hiccup - they've worked for me up until now)...or to perhaps continue on an uncertain course - that's sure to go beyond the pale…

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nuff Said

(Snapped on 5/15/11)

Although I did take a ton of self-snaps, this afternoon (truly the one bright spot in my whole entire day) - this pic. will have to tide you over...until I can sort out the thoughts to go along with the new ones...

Uh huh. It's been that kind of week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sux To Be Me

(All pics. snapped on 5/18/11)

I realize it's not like me to post back-to-back Big Ugly entries, like this...but I took this group of pics. earlier today...and if I don't do something with them right this instant - while everything is still so raw...chances are - I'll wind up chickening out. 

Something about them affected me (still is, actually) in the strangest and deepest of ways. This shoot wrecked me...literally broke my sorry ass down. Unlike any other shoot that I've ever undertaken. 

It wasn't even an especially grueling shoot...aside from having to cram myself and my stuff through an open window, in order to get inside the house (but that part was actually kinda fun)...

...Oh - and I did run up and down the staircase 118 I'm definitely feeling that in my calves, right about now...

But you know? There's this part of me that just wants to bury these stupid pictures...spare myself the humiliation of blatantly advertising my irrational and oftentimes volatile moodiness...but more than that - so I can totally forget the thing that made them so emotionally charged to begin with. 

But guess what...I'm not. Because snapping, editing and compiling these photos has been a damned good way to work through some of the heavy energy that the "thing" has riddled me with today...

Honestly? The whole process has been cathartic to the millionth power.

The trouble is, I don't feel much like writing about the "thing"...or the photos...or the shoot...or the aftermath. So I'm afraid it's up to you guys to conjure your own narrative to accompany these pics..

K, so now that that's done...what the hell am I 'sposed to do to distract myself...

...I guess I'll just smoke about 500 more cigarettes...and pound cocktails until I can no longer see straight...yeah...that'll work.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Fog is Slowly Lifting

(All pics. snapped on 5/14/11)

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of a technological nightmare. Like I've seriously felt as if some sort of hex has been placed on me, or that I've done something to piss off the technology gods. On the upside, I've kept myself busy during the downtime - by tidying up my yard, my studio and my house. The bad news though, is that my poor Little Pretties has suffered terrible neglect. Additionally, some funky stuff went down on The Big Ugly's comment board - and this is something that I must explain to readers "Reddogg54" and "Adrian Hudson"...both of whom recently left wonderfully sweet comments about me, my pics. and the blog. 

K, here's the deal: over about a 24 hour period, sometime last week - Blogger was down and I was not able to login to my account, respond to or post comments, or work on entries for either of my blogs. When Blogger was finally back up and running, not only did I discover (upon trying to post it) - that Reddogg54's comment "no longer exists", but two of Adrian Hudson's comments (which had already been posted) had mysteriously been deleted, as had my reply to them...I was so bummed. I couldn't stand that those guys might be sitting there thinking, "What tha hell? She deleted (didn't post) my comment(s)!" 

Anyway, I just wanted to let you two know that although I have no earthly clue why it happened - I am awfully sorry about the snafu...Lord knows I would never do anything to intentionally slight either one of you like that.

Oddly enough (aside from the glitch with the comments) I haven't been all that bothered by not being able to tend to my blogs. Matter of fact, even before everything blog/photo-related essentially went to hell in a hand-basket - I had decided to slow down the frenetic pace at which I'd been snappin' self-portraits and candids, over these last few months - in the hopes that it might be beneficial to my work, in the short term as well as the long run. In other words, I was feeling a wee bit burned-out...and I believed that a brief break would do me and my pictures some good.

It's not uncommon for me to do this, from time to time (as I'm sure by now, you well know). To sort of shut myself off from the rest of the world, so I can sort out whatever may have become rocky or uncertain in my life, or to evaluate my current situation, and ponder potential solutions to whatever may have become problematic. And a classic side-effect of these cyclical reclusive periods - is that basically I've no desire to talk/write...much at all...

As this past weekend approached however, I felt a vague desire to resurface...and possibly even socialize a smidge. So when a friend invited me to come over and visit, it actually sounded appealing...

I had left clearing, almost sunny skies - when I drove from my town towards his place on the mountain, but as I neared the top of that band of the Blue Ridge - the weather conditions dramatically changed. It was much cooler and rainy, and visibility was practically nil - because of a dense fog that had draped itself over the mountaintop. The closer I got to my destination, the more and more anxious I became. I just wanted to be done with the treacherous driving, not so much because I was worried about whether I'd make it to my friend's place in one piece or not, but because for the first time in nearly two weeks - I was seriously jonesin' to do some self-portraits...and since dusk threatened to steal what was left of that fabulously thick, eerie light (the very reason for my urgency to take self-snaps, in the first place) I knew that I needed to just get there...and fast

All I can say is, thank goodness I had the sense to pack up my camera, before heading to my friend's house that night. I hadn't really planned on even taking any pics., but I'd figured it certainly couldn't hurt to carry my gear the event that something should chance to come up.

My friend greeted me in the driveway as I parked my car, hopped out, and spastically gathered what I needed for the shoot. I quickly explained that I'd come inside in a minute - but if it was ok with him, I'd reeeeally like to take a few pictures in the fog first.

I shot from 7:54 to 8:25, at which point nighttime put my spontaneous shoot to bed. I was so thrilled to have snapped a total of 52 frames - that I didn't pay much mind to the cuts on my feet, from having run back and forth across sharp rocks and broken glass...

This impromptu shoot was in no way a panacea for everything that's gone haywire in my life, of late...but it definitely helped to lift the gloomy, heavy fog - that's been draped over me lately...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Starting From Scratch

(All pics. snapped on 4/04/11)

Hey, remember an entry that I posted this past February - in which I blabbed on and on about wanting to simplify my cluttered life, with the first order of business being - to sell my land, house and studio, and move to a cottage on the river? Welp...not so surprisingly, after a couple of months - it became glaringly apparent that I would not soon sell this place for anything close to the (more than reasonable) asking price (thanks very much, economic downturn). What was a bit surprising however, was that I did not pout and sulk and stomp my feet when things didn't go my way, nope. And rather than begrudgingly resign myself to the fact that I had no other choice, but to take my house off the market and stay put - for the first time in ages, I began to appreciate how lucky I am to live here. 

Around the same time that I pulled up the "For Sale" sign, and tucked it away and out of sight - Spring had begun to well - spring. And as the grass, and weeds and trees started sprouting, I realized how unkempt my property had become. Over the entire last growing season, I'd been so engrossed in online dating, which then segued to a growing and eventually even more consuming obsession with dash photography - that even though I'd managed to keep (most of) my lawn mowed, unfortunately that was the extent of a whole year's worth of yard maintenance. All of the flower beds that I had previously kept meticulously manicured, were now thick plots of overgrown weeds. It was upsetting to realize just how far downhill I'd let this place go, and in such a short period of time. 

So. Over these last couple of weeks, I've put most of my energy into getting everything back in tip-top shape. I've barely touched my lonely cameras, haven't written much at all - but I have spent practically every free hour of daylight - bustin' my butt in my gardens and yard. I'm on a roll, you guys - like I'm (almost) not embarrassed when peeps drive by, anymore. The thing is though, there's still tons more to do...but when I did stop for a second, and noticed that it had been over a week since I'd posted anything new on The Big Ugly - I knew that I had to take a break from workin' in the yard, and tend to the other things that are just as (or even more) important to me.

I thumbed through the loads of self-portraits that I'd stockpiled, before being bitten by the gardening bug - in an attempt to pick up where I'd left off, a few entries back...and it was the darndest thing. I was not terribly motivated to write about any of my pics.. At the time that I took them, I remember being so damned excited...couldn't wait until I had the chance to tell their stories. But somehow in letting a little time go by, their luster had kinda worn off. What tha freak?!

Take for example, the pictures that I settled upon writing about in this post. The day that I snapped 'em was one of those magical days. It was early April, but 85 degrees out...I was proudly sporting my most recent thrift store acquisition - a froofy, 1970's bridesmaid's gown (presumably)...and the owner of the historic, brick structure (out front of which most of these pictures were staged) had kindly agreed to let me shoot there. (Thank You, THANK You!)

I spent hours in the middle of this teensy, sleepy town - posing everywhere that my little heart desired...and I felt as if somehow, I was truly living out the nonsensical story that I was pretending to document. 

Some pretty cool stuff happened while I was on this shoot, too... 

...I performed in front of a thin but steady flow of car traffic, oftentimes at very close range - which was awesome cuz I could clearly see the puzzled expressions on the faces of onlookers...something that always gets my heart racing that much faster.

An unexpected freight train came by while coincidentally - I happened to be posing beside the tracks. It was one of the longest trains that (I believe) I've ever seen, and the beauty of that was - it allowed me to squeeze in a good dozen or so pics., before it barreled down the tracks and out of sight. 

At a little after 5 o'clock - the few folks who actually work in the town, closed up shop and left to go me the freedom to do pretty much whatever the hell I pleased...

...which included wading across the cold but refreshing creek...

...slipping out of the now-soggy, red dress...

...and posing in the sparkly water under the warm, late evening sun.

But in reviewing and deciding on which photos to post here, it was as if time (or selective amnesia?) had erased all the fun that I'd had the day I took them...and the pictures themselves did literally nothing to jog any memory of how well I'd mistakenly believed that I had done. Curiously, I found the same thing to be true - no matter which group of pics. I perused. 

I reckon it makes sense that in regards to self-portraiture, a certain degree of homogeneity could be expected...but that doesn't mean that it has to be accepted. 

I'm not sure if I'm maybe growing weary of constantly staring at (and working around) my temperamental, fake boobs and rapidly, aging face (the two main things that consistently ruin otherwise decent images) or if I'm afraid that artistically, I've become a one-trick pony. It's probably a bit of both, and what I'm guessing is something along the lines of this: just like my poor, neglected yard needed a major overhaul, so too might my approach to self-portraiture...