Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

(All pics. snapped on 8/30/11)

If someone asked me today, "What's the one thing in your life that you would change if you could?" (shocking as this may sound) I would not answer with, "my miserable financial situation"...nope. Although my goal of achieving monetary stability definitely runs a close second, at the moment the number one thing that I'd change - would be the amount of time that I'm able to spend with "my date"...

The reasons for why we hang out so infrequently are too complicated and plentiful to prattle on about here, not to mention - the specifics therein bear no relevance to the story that I'm aiming to tell in this post. What is important though, is that you - my dear readers - know this: there are several unfortunate obstacles (one in particular) that prevent me from being with "my date" at my leisure...and up until about a week ago, this was a fairly substantial bone of contention with me.

Anyone who's known me for a little while or longer, would corroborate the fact that on those rare occasions when a man actually captures and holds my attention (beyond a mere couple of dates, mind), it's not unlike me to fall for the poor, hapless fella - astonishingly hard and ridiculously fast. If you take into account the absurd number of men that I've gone out with over the years - the ratio of duds to studs is pretty lopsided (the duds handily making up the higher percentage, duh). But this may explain why when I do like a guy - he so quickly becomes the virtual center of my universe...and why I ravenously seek to spend every free minute in his company - historically, to the neglect of my best and closest friends.

The thing with "my date" has been much trickier to navigate than most of my prior relationships though, because of pesky time constraints and irritating roadblocks which have forced me to exercise uncharacteristic, and unnaturally-occurring restraint. I've spent much of the time that he and I have been an item - feeling anxious, and rejected, and lonely, and blue. And you know? I'm not sure I would've put up with it all, this early on - for any other guy in the world. Were he not the remarkable man that he is. Most likely, by this point, I would've handed him his walkin' papers, and stormed off in a huff.    

Early last week, when the turmoil was waxing to the point of reaching critical mass - I had an "ah-ha" moment - following what turned out to be an enlightening and encouraging tete a tete with "my date". Just like that it dawned on me, that my tendency to take stuff (that oftentimes has little to do with me) too personally - will do nothing but exacerbate this already difficult situation. And despite my chronic string of emotional melt-downs, "my date" has never given up on me...

I know full well, that the trust issues I'm afflicted with on account of seriously destructive relationships from my past - must be set aside in order for the deal with "my date" to ever thrive, and what's amazing to me - is that after we'd hashed out our concerns and differences the other night - my insecurities and hang-ups began to slowly melt away. Why? Because despite all of the pit-falls and problems that we've had, my date has remained stalwart, shown integrity, and most paramount - he's been honest and I believe that I can trust him implicitly...

Additionally, I accepted that (although it is contrary to my general beliefs and practices) - there are some things that simply cannot be rushed...which is a tough concept to grasp, for someone as urgent and overeager as I can be in my relationships. And it's even harder to be patient when the reasons for having to do so, are entirely out of my control...but I'm determined to try and keep calm, and I mean that.

I know that in saying all of this, I'm at risk of coming across as regrettably naive - and maybe I am, who knows. But I'm not ignoring the fact that this isn't going to get any easier until (at the earliest) next February...and quite frankly? I'll be surprised if it even does then. And so knowing me, I will relapse and experience more episodes of sadness and despair...however - if I can only remind myself that "The best things in life are worth waiting for"...I think I can stay strong enough to get through the rough spots.

Simultaneous to "my date" and I reaching our "breaking point" - I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of two of my readers, both of whom live outside of the U.S., but who just happened to be staying in this area for awhile. The three of us hit it off right away - sipping champagne cocktails and talking for hours. But when they so kindly asked me to hang out with them the next night - my instinct was to politely decline, so that I could stay home holding vigil just in case "my date" should call to talk, or even better - invite me over so we could chat about everything in person.

In the end though, I left my house when "my date" still hadn't phoned, met up once again with my two, new friends - and I could not have been happier that I did. I reasoned, "Where's the sense in putting the rest of my life on hold, while I'm waiting for the impossible to happen, eh?" Plus, I had a crapton of fun with those guys, which reminded me that being in a relationship does not have to mean that you can't still make time to goof off with your friends...especially when they help make the stomach aches go away...

Fast forward one week, when things were markedly improved between "my date" and myself, and with only one of my new pals still here in town visiting. When my friend texted to see what I was doing that night (knowing that I wouldn't be seeing "my date") I said, "I kinda wanna take some pics.. I haven't taken any new ones in ages". We decided to meet for a drink first, while we pondered potential theme and venue options - but got totally off the subject when instead I gushed ad nauseam about "my date", and how relieved I am that crippling self-doubt is beginning to give way to a burgeoning sense of security.

I sat there at the bar, feeling genuinely happy about all sorts of different things - not the least of which - my newfound optimism, and desire to make the most of the unavoidable downtime. I now know that not being able to see my honey as often as I like, doesn't havta mean endless, idle hours spent feeling hopeless and dejected. If I can't be with him, I can keep myself busy with my art, or my friends...or even both! Like on the night that I took the pictures in this post...added bonus - my good friend shot this short video while I worked!

 It goes without saying that "my date" and I still have a long, rocky road ahead of us...but - if I can just stay relaxed and continue to be positive - the rewards that we reap should make it all worth it...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Grind

(All pics. snapped on 8/20/11)

My sincerest apologies for such a one-note set of pics.. Although it was in no way premeditated, their glaring lack of diversity, coincidentally represents just how monotonous my life is steadily becoming.

That's not to say that things these days are boring, per se...just different than what I've grown accustomed to. I love my new job, don't get me wrong about that - but ever since signing on there, the luxury of being able to spontaneously stage my pics. on a whim, has taken a back-seat to a much more mundane routine. 

I'm all by myself, for most of each workday (which is a good thing for many different reasons), and in the beginning I thought that it would provide plenty of time to at least think about what type of self-pics. to take next. But rather than spending the solitary hours plotting and planning as I'd hoped, my mind stays forever fixed on a far less pleasant, but painfully predictable facet of my life - my uncanny ability to get hung up on guys who really don't give a rat's ass about me. Why does this happen? I sincerely don't know...Is it in some way intentional? Chile, you best shut yo' damn mouf! Do you actually think that I would get myself mixed up in one acrimonious romance after another, each of them doomed for failure from the start - on purpose?! Not a chance. If there's one thing in this world that I want more than anything - it is consistency...but not the consistency of an acid stomach each day - over some guy who could take me or leave me. I yearn for the consistency of a comfortable partnership, in which my lover and I treat each other with decency and respect, and where mere kindness is effortless and constant...Long story short, I wanna be happy with one man - like, seriously happy - for as long as absolutely possible...and I honestly don't think that this is asking too much...but evidently it's just not in the cards for me, and the statistics dictate that healthy relationships will probably continue to allude me.   

All righty that I've painted a pretty clear picture of my current, brittle frame of mind - let's talk about the pictures in this post instead, shall we?

The evening that I shot them, I was draggin' ass tired...I'd worked in the morning, and had then come home with the intention of sitting on my riding mower for however many hours I could mow, until dark. But when my lawn tractor died (yet again) I was forced to break out the push mower and do as much as I could stand in the late afternoon humidity and heat. After all that, I was sweaty and gross - and for whatever reason - instead of showering off and chillin' out - I decided to scratch the itch to take some self-portraits, while not only making the most of how grody I already was - but by getting myself even more disgusting first. Implementing the tar and feather technique - I rolled around (all nasty and moist) in the mountain of mulch in my yard. Ew. 

Next - I went inside and globbed dark eye make-up onto my eyes, and my cheeks - and all but eliminated my lips by applying skin-toned concealer onto them. I threw an easy, little shift over my otherwise naked, filthy body, gathered my camera junk, walked up my street, and then marched across a field until I came to this cool, old tunnel which was built god-knows-when - underneath of the railroad tracks that I've featured in The Big Ugly before. 

The bummer was - the field had been freshly bush-hogged, and I had counted on the tall grass that had been there the last time I looked - to screen me from the folks living in the house on the corner, and from motorists on the roadway close by. Sadly, it was not to be. So. For the 40 minutes that I shot this group, I literally never stood straight up. I moved back and forth between my camera and the tunnel, in a crouch hoping that no one would see me. And lemme tell ya' somethin' - that shit'll make your damn quadriceps burn!

Needless to say, because of my limited mobility and theme variations - I ran out of ideas and fuel pretty fast...I was cheered for a second, that self-portraiture had taken my weary mind off of all that's been eating at me lately...but once I was done, it was back to all of the nonsense in my life, that's become much more of a grind than any regular job could ever be...

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's All About the Dress...

(All pics. snapped on 8/10/11)

When I came across this nifty, lime sherbet-colored dress, tucked in between the nightgowns in the lingerie section at one of my most favorite thrift stores - it felt almost as if I'd found buried treasure. I greedily snatched it from the rack, carried it to the check-out counter, paid a whopping 6 bucks for it, and then brought it home to hang amongst all of the other thrift store dresses - in my ever-expanding collection of cheap, secondhand costumes. Meanwhile, I began contemplating just how exactly I might incorporate it into a new set of self-portrait pics.. 

By now I'm sure you guys are well aware that in general, I'm not all that into wearing clothing - but the claustrophobic feeling that I get from being completely, or even partially covered when the weather is exceedingly hot, can make me feel borderline mental. And because of that, along with a weeks-long heat wave - the lime sherbet dress and my excitement about acquiring it...slowly began to wither on the vine, so to speak.

It wasn't until I awoke to a glorious and welcome break in the ridiculously sticky, steamy weather that we'd been suffering, that I could even consider donning the long-sleeved dress with its confining, close-fitting bodice.

After searching images on the internet, in order to help determine make-up, hairstyle and posing options for the day's shoot - I packed up my car and drove to a nearby stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Wearing shorts and a tank top (the dress neatly folded and stowed in my camera bag), I hiked up the path that leads to the breathtaking vista seen in these pics.. Once there, I was delighted to have the place all to myself. But before getting started, I first had to change out of my street clothes and into the dress. Might not seem like such a difficult thing to do, right? Wrong! There were so many snaps and hooks to fasten, and for every two or three that I connected, another one would suddenly pop open...grrrrrrrrr...Thank goodness for the broken piece of mirror that I always keep in my camera bag. Without it, I think I might never have closed the collar of that blasted, lime sherbet nightmare. Oh, and wouldn't ya' know soon as I was dressed and ready to start shooting, a steady stream of visitors (kids and grown-ups alike) wandered up to the very spot where I was trying to work...phooey. 

Which wouldn't have been that big of a deal, had the wind not been gusting and consequently lifting the skirt of the dress, which threatened to give the under-age contingent of the growing audience, a revealing tutorial in female anatomy. I decided it best to slip my shorts back on under the dress, and sit on that big rock, taking in the views - while I waited for all of them to scram.

The cool part though, was that among the folks who joined me on the lookout - were a woman and her daughter - both of whom I have known but not seen for many years. And when everyone had left except the three of us - I asked my old friend if she would mind terribly - if I resumed doing what I'd come there to do. Luckily, she was totes cool with the whole thing...dress blowing, bare girlie parts...and all.

At one point though, after I had set the timer and was getting into position - I turned to see a young couple who had silently appeared there on the rock ledge. Reflexively, I burst out laughing and did my best to try and cover myself with the dress. The photo above is the image that was snapped, after I broke character and turned back into the short, regular ole, goofy, real mefor that startling and awkward, brief moment. 

Not long after the young couple appeared, everyone besides the three of us - got up, departed the high ridge, and fortunately - left to go someplace else. The young couple nestled into a private alcove in the rocks, and stayed so busy canoodling with one another - that they didn't seem to notice me taking the remainder of the pics. that I shot while still wearing the lime sherbet dress.

After I'd milked the dress for all it was worth, and when 30 minutes had passed and no one new had arrived on the scene - I got my usual hankerin' to snap some nude pics....and so I did. The happy, young couple was none the wiser, glory be.

But after only 10 minutes of shooting down in the crevasse - I noticed a man sitting within plain view of my shenanigans. Immediately I began getting dressed...this time for good (I thought). Lord! I'd already been there for a solid 3 hours. I was starving and thirsty and was pretty much ok with how the day's shoot had gone, and so I felt no guilt about sewing things up.

On the way back down the trail to the parking lot where I'd left my car however, I couldn't stop myself from setting up my camera just one...more...time, to see if something good might come from repeatedly slipping in and out of the cramped chink between the two boulders seen in the picture above. There I was...completely naked on the Appalachian Trail - and I'll admit that my heart was absolutely pounding the entire time. I worried about if and when I might disturb a copperhead or rattlesnake in their natural habitat...or if some poor, unsuspecting hiker might saunter stealthily up the path, and get the wrong idea about the peculiar vignette that they'd happened to stumble upon, there in the woods.

But ya' know? For as happy as I was to have finally made use of that inexpensive, lime sherbet dress - in the end - I was far more content to shoot myself wearing nothing more than the skin in which I was born...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When All Else Fails...

(All pics. snapped on 8/05/11)

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but when it comes to adversity - I feel that I am inching ever closer to mastering the art of rolling with the punches. 

Over the course of these last few years that I've spent candidly blogging about my personal life, and my self-portraits - I have gradually learned to embrace being a scandal in the eyes of so many people here in my community. Also, the fact that I have nearly zero interaction with anyone in my immediate family anymore (save my own offspring), literally does nothing to phase me in the slightest.

It may sound strange, but I'm perfectly content to assume the role as black sheep of my family and an outcast of local society. I don't flinch anymore, when I hear secondhand - that (once again) I was the target of ridicule at a cocktail party to which I was of course, not invited...thanks entirely to the thick skin that ensconces me like ironclad armor.

I'm proud to say that I'm even learning how to cope with my grim fiscal picture. Like seriously? If you guys had only just an inkling of how financially screwed I am - you'd likely be stricken with a wicked case of heartburn. But, rather than let any of it eat away at me - I've chosen to adopt the mindset that thinking negatively about such issues can do nothing to resolve them. And although because of this, I could easily be accused of peering at my life from behind a pair of rose-colored glasses - staying upbeat and positive and sincerely believing that soon everything simply has to get better - makes it a helluva lot easier to get through most days.

There is however, one area to which I am still unable to apply these Pollyanna-esque tactics - and that my sweet peeps - is in regards to matters of the heart. The blithe, laissez-faire attitude, and all the tough girl resilience goes right out window - whenever things get wonky between myself and a love interest.

Case in point - last week (for some unknown reason) "my date" seemed hellbent on putting me through my paces...and for four agonizing days and nights, it felt as if there was a noxious tire fire smoldering in my gut. I wanted to eat nothing, but knew that I needed to - and so I did manage to choke down a few tablespoons of peanut butter. Thank goodness I had work to take my mind off of my misery for a few measly hours each day, but for the remainder - all I could do was worry...and stew...and sulk.

I don't know about you guys, but if ever I get into a funk - I become virtually immobile and practically useless. Gone is the motivation to do anything other than muddle through each tediously long day, and ride out the seemingly endless, sleepless nights. By last Friday, I was on my fourth consecutive day of that shit, and because of it - I had become utterly disconsolate. Exacerbating the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and desolation, my kids left with their dad for a week-long vacation... 

There have been numerous times in the recent past, when self-portraiture has proven to be a very effective means by which to tap into those unpleasant emotions, while simultaneously killing what would've otherwise turned into sedentary, melancholy hours. Friday evening, I was not only aware of the fact that the time had drawn nigh to snap some new pics., but also - that doing so might just lift my spirits. And so with nary a plan for what to do when I got there, I galumphed with my gear up the road to a corn field, in the hopes that I might lose myself in my art for a spell. 

Over the first of the two hours that I spent snapping pics., I was admittedly glad to be busy - but discouraged that I still felt so sad. I worked with about as much energy as a corpse, and was only shaken from my catatonia when a pair of enormous male deer scared the Bejesus outta me, by thundering through the corn field, and straight through my shoot - it was crazy! Umpteen acres that they had to traverse, and somehow those bucks found me like a needle in a haystack. 

I stood there for a minute, waiting for the surprise adrenaline rush to subside - and once my hands had stopped trembling, I went back to work. 

By the time it got too dark to continue shooting anymore, I realized that I'd become so immersed in taking my pics., that I had managed to forget all my woes...but when my phone rang and I saw that it was "my date" on the line - it was time to face reality once again.

I really have no way of knowing for sure, how things will end up between me and "my date", especially since my losing record with men has me (almost) convinced that I'm cursed in the relationship department. But there is one thing that I do know for certain - when all else fails, self-portraiture will come to my rescue.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Over a Barrel

(Snapped on 3/22/11)

Ok you guys, sooooo...seems as if I may have gotten myself into a bit of a quandary - here's the deal: Last week, the day before I posted my last blog entry - "my date" texted me from where he works, and out of the blue - asked if I wanted a job. Turned out that one of the girls he works with had quit without warning, and it was crucial that the owners find someone to replace her, asap! I said that I'd do it, because I liked the sound of the job, it's convenient to where I live, and - I had already made up my mind that because of my gloomy financial situation, as soon as my kids went back to school at the end of August - I was gonna havta go out and look for gainful employment anyway. 

I've worked there for a week now, and the good news is - my employers are ace, my co-workers couldn't be any cooler or nicer, and I actually really like what I'm doing. Plus, one of the biggest perks of the job, is that throughout the day - I get to catch fleeting glimpses of the insanely handsome, wise-crackin' man who's not only responsible for getting me the job, but also for stealing my heart...

Because the position is only part time, I was hopeful going in - that my new job wouldn't rob me of precious self-portraiture time. But the truth of the matter is, I haven't snapped a single self-pic. since hopping onboard, and perhaps worse than that even - I've barely even thought about what type of pictures to take next.

I keep telling myself that it's all just a matter of adapting to the time constraints, and that once I'm accustomed to my new schedule - I'll be better able to give both my job and self-portraiture equal attention. Pray tell you'll bear with me while I sort it all out...