Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick? Or Treat...

You may already know this, but at the risk of being redundant - I feel I gotta go ahead and say it anyway..."I am not a big fan of holidays"...not my birthday, not Christmas, not Mother's Day, (you get the picture)..and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) Halloween is in no way exempt from finding its rightful place on the long list of my least favorite days....even more so lately than in the past though, because - over the last year and a half, I have unofficially celebrated Halloween approximately once or twice a week - by wearing costumes (or more frequently - nothing at all) in order to become the melange of alter-personnae that have thus far appeared in my pics.. Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up (or undressing) for my shoots (matter of fact, I went out and snapped some new pics. today!). But anymore, it feels pretty freakin' pointless to me - to go to the trouble of getting all decked out, just to stand shoulder to shoulder with throngs of other people - all clad in their own ridiculous regalia, and all just because it happens to be some pointless (to me anyway) holiday...

While it's probably pretty clear that I shan't be celebrating Halloween in the traditional sense, tonight - I am rawther eager to publish just one...more...entry, before flipping to November on the calendar. And since it would be awfully fitting to post something sorta ghoulish - I've come up with what I believe to be a reasonable solution: I'll post pictures of myself looking like regular, ole me - wearing "everyday", normal attire - but! In a series of photos that tell a sinister story. Here's the catch though - I am super, double, extra, ultra, mega, mucho tired (plus - my sluggish ass is running outta time) so I'll refrain from adding my personal depiction of this grim and grisly tale...and will instead let you (my dearly beloved readers) - rely on your own imaginations to supply the narrative...

(All pics. snapped on 10/17/11)

Thanks so, so, so, SO much, to the owner of the service center (and to all of the other nice men with whom I chatted) - not only for allowing me to take nakey pics. on the tire pile, but for also being open-minded and chill about the whole thing! (P.S. the young guy with the dark hair and green eyes? hella cute :D)

Thanks also to my friend who had practically just arrived from overseas - and was such a good sport about agreeing to play the role of my nefarious suitor on the fly - you da bess!

...and one final, "Thank You!" to the folks at the bar...was way cool of you guys to let me take these snaps - without giving me the hairy eyeball while I staged 'em.

Oh, and hey! Check this out - I just realized that this is my 100th Big Ugly post!!! Now that's something worthy of celebrating, f'you ask me...(could it be that I'm not such a curmudgeon after all?) Anyway, I am still off to bed...but before I go tuck myself in, "Cin cin!" to all of my fantabulous the folks who so graciously make certain shoots possible...and to my supremely kickass friends...


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Greenhouse Effect

(All pics. snapped on 10/15/11)

Ya''s just not all that often that I get invited to attend social events around here anymore, and so when a couple of weeks ago, a co-worker of mine (I'll call her "Ruby", cuz she's a gem!) asked if I'd like to come to a party that she was to be throwing - I was a.) pleasantly surprised, and b.) absurdly some dorky, freshman kid who'd somehow...miraculously - scored a legitimate invite to an upperclassmen kegger...

Over the past few years, I've grown accustomed to being shunned by the "cool" (*cough*) crowd, and have become quite adept at either nestling comfortably into my solitude...or finding my fun in the company of my children, my small group of loyal friends, and (in very rare instances) whatever love interest happens to be stringing me along at the moment. The weekend of Ruby's party however, I was childless, newly single, and warming up quickly to my "free agent" status - thus, rarin' to get out and mingle among a crowd of peeps - the majority of whom I suspected I'd never met, but more importantly - they didn't know me...which meant that I'd be surrounded by folks who hadn't any preconceived notions about me and my "controversial" "hobby".

My bestie, Curlymoe (who coincidentally, is also newly single...ish) gladly agreed to squire me to the party. Now, for those of you out there who used to read my dating blog - and remember Curlymoe from certain, specific anecdotes - you're probably well aware of the fact that when Curlymoe and I go out together, some sort of crazy shit usually winds up going down. Fully cognizant of that myself, plus eager to make a good impression on Ruby and her guests - I asked Curlymoe to please try and not do anything that might embarrass himself...or me - by association. I can admit that saying such a thing to one's very best friend - is maybe just a teensy bit harsh, and he was obviously wounded (highly insulted?) by the request - but the way I looked at it - we were already poised to stand out as the unfamiliar faces in an otherwise tight-knit group of friends, and so to minimize our chances of attracting the wrong kind of attention, I strategized that it might behoove us to be on our best behavior...for once.

After a leisurely drive along a series of familiar, meandering, back country roads - Curlymoe and I finally spotted Ruby's quaint and tidy farm. As we neared the driveway and turned to pull in - my eyes were drawn to and became locked on a greenhouse that was awash in amber, Autumnal, afternoon light - and (luckily) was situated on the opposite side of the house from where the party appeared to juuust be getting underway. Before even stepping out of my car, I'd already decided that (if Ruby and her roommates were amenable to it) I simply had to get insida that greenhouse, to sneak some impromptu self-snaps before diving into the evening's festivities. 

Ruby knows all about my pics. and my blog, and because she's so genuinely down-to-earth and sweet - she's always come across as being totally supportive of what I do. And so, after saying, "Yes" when I pitched her the greenhouse idea (THANK You!), she then proceeded to give me carte blanche to shoot anywhere else on the farm that appealed to me. See? What did I tell you…she really is an absolute gem!

As soon as Ruby gave me the thumbs-up, I gathered my gear and inconspicuously (or so I thought) slunk down to the greenhouse. I set up my camera, peeled off my clothes, and almost immediately got lost in the "zone" lost in fact, that I was oblivious to the fact that a growing group of party-goers had gathered on the front porch of Ruby's house, which conveniently provided a bird's eye view of the peep show taking place behind the backlit, translucent, greenhouse sheathing...uhhhhhh...whoops. It wasn't until Curlymoe and some random guy barged in on my shoot, (purportedly to give me the heads-up about the fracas, and not to see me naked up close) - that I became aware of the disturbance that I'd unwittingly created. (And to think that I'd been worried that Curlymoe might embarrass me, HA!)

Curlymoe, the random guy and I, awkwardly small-talked until I simply could not take it anymore. At which time I demanded that they both either get naked (to make things fair), or run along - since they were stealing what little time I had left in that light. They opted to scram (thank god) and I went back to what I'd been doing before I was so suddenly and rudely interrupted :) 

As I was finishing up, and preparing to (finally) be social - a couple of connected thoughts gave me pause: I'd gone to Ruby's party with the express notion that my anonymity there, along with (what I'd hoped would be) exemplary behavior - might allow me to socialize without the stigma of being a flagrant, trespassing, naked self-portrait artist - sabotaging my interaction with folks who would ideally form their opinions of me based entirely on face value. Not surprisingly though, my love of (addiction to?) self-portraiture had overridden the original plan...and in the end, I'd put way more heat on myself - than if Curlymoe, had publicly pissed himself, or puked and passed out on Ruby's couch... 

Oddly enough, for as concerned as I'd initially been about making a good impression (much to the chagrin of my wingman, Curlymoe) - I wasn't the least bit ashamed of what I'd done in the greenhouse...despite knowing that I'd fairly well annihilated any chance that anyone at the party - besides Curlymoe, Ruby and her roomies (the only people there who's opinions really did matter) - would be able to look me in the eyes while carrying on a conversation, and not snigger to themselves, or elbow their buddy, or make errant judgement calls - cuz they'd seen the silhouette of my naked body.

*News Flash* I am a shameless opportunist (and apparently more antisocial than maybe I even knew), because instead of throwing myself into the lion's den, immediately following the greenhouse episode - I bolstered the brouhaha by hopping into the barnyard with the pigs (who tried to eat me) and the chickens (who not only looked me in the eyes, but seemed to sorta like me being there with them) and fired off a few additional self-portraits. When I was done, and just starting to steel myself for whatever fallout might ensue upon my delayed arrival to the party (ridicule? the silent treatment? a burning at the stake?), something else occurred to me: I have zero shame over this thing that I do. I stand behind it apologies?...No regrets. And if that means that my art has become more important to me than my reputation...might mean that I'm a crazy bitch? But so be it...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sticking With What I Know

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

Not to dwell on the subject or anything, but...there are a few observations that I feel I must make (in regards to the collapse of my deal with "my date") if this entry is to have any girth whatsoever.

Admittedly, I'm at risk of sounding regrettably cliche - nevertheless, the best analogy that I can come up with to best describe the time that I spent "wrapped around his finger" (as "my date" himself, so glibly boasted...*gag*) is that being with him was comparable to having an undetected, aggressive which (unbeknownst to me at the time) voraciously ate away at my body, mind, and heart. Astonishingly, it wasn't until the carcinogenic tumor was swiftly and successfully removed, that I did finally realize just how ill I'd become - over the three long months that I subconsciously suffered from its debilitating side effects. 

The thing about all of this that's surprised me the most, is how quickly I've fallen out of love with the jerk. I mean seriously, it's only been a week and a half for chrissakes - and already my stomachaches have all but disappeared, my appetite's improving, and I've even been willingly socializing a bit. 

I guess the biggest difference between this break-up and the demise of my other miserable relationships is that - in the past when things ended between me and whatever reprobate I happened to be with at the time - it was more akin to having a gangrenous limb finally amputated. Common sense dictated that performing such a gruesome procedure was imperative, if I was ever to become "whole", happy and healthy once again...but learning how to live with something so major, no longer there - was agonizingly painful, and took ages to overcome. 

"My date" and I however, spent very little time together - he made it quite clear all along, that being with me didn't rate high enough on his list of priorities to take precedence over all of the things that did seem to matter (like lying in bed at his house without me, cuz his T.V.'s soooo much better than mine...or dippin' his wick in god knows how many others...or choosing to ignore my most frantic texts and calls...). Overall, his contributions to the relationship were so few and far between, that adjusting to his absence has been practically effortless...there's simply not much about him to miss. 

Four days after "my date" so callously kicked me to the curb, I was however, still riding the roller coaster of extreme highs and minute grateful that he'd only managed to suck the joy out of three months of my life (as opposed to the far worse alternative of say, three years or more)...the next minute though? I'd be sick to my stomach, because he'd humiliated me...and in doing so - he had dealt the final in a cumulative series of crippling blows - to what little self-confidence I had left. 

As has become somewhat compulsory, I turned to my art in the hopes that it might alleviate the lingering melancholia...because for me, self-portraiture can be the virtual equivalent of soothing tattered nerves the way other people do when they lay in bed watching old movies all day, or eat a quart of vanilla bean ice cream straight outta the carton. And so, desirous of chasing down a lead that had been sent to me by a very thoughtful stranger (THANK You!), I left work and made a pilgrimage to the town where the house in these pics. (barely still) stands. 

Once I located it, I pulled my car off of the single lane, dirt road as much as I was able - and left it conspicuously parked beside a "No Trespassing" sign. It made me nervous, but I could find no better place to safely leave it (without impeding the flow of spotty traffic) while still staying within walking distance of the juicy, come-hither ruin. 

I walked up the lane, and then across the front yard (which was nothing but a sea of waist-high, wild berry bushes, *ow*), and literally the instant I got myself insida that place, the adrenaline kicked worries were behind me (for the time being at least)...and I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be. 

It's been one week since I snapped these pics., and in that time I've taken easily a coupla hundred more - which never would've happened were I still in the paralyzing, stifling clutches of "my (diabolical) date". So if we take that, plus all of the above, yet one step further - mightn't we draw the conclusion that: where relationships are clearly not my area of expertise (nor are they ever very likely to ever be) self-portraiture is something that by now, I know intimately. Like, maybe I should hang up the notion that I'm meant to be with any man...and just stick with the one thing (besides my sweet kids, of course) that's perennially there for me, and so far - has never really let me down…

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can't Win 'Em All

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

Right threatened in my last post - I did in fact answer the calling of that fabulous, fog-filtered moonlight, the other night - and got myself out in it for the sake of my sanity (first and foremost) but also in order to start building up my sorely depleted reserve of self-snaps. And even though the pictures that I brought home didn't turn out nearly as well as I'd hoped that they would - the excursion overall, worked wonders on my shriveling state of well-being...ahhhhh...

Unfortunately though, I'm at a loss for ample enough time with which to break down this shoot in more detail...other than to mention that I did havta trespass in order to get to this place - but I never felt so much as a hint of anxiety over getting busted for poaching, or attacked by wild that was a bit of a buzz-kill. The teensy shred of angst that I weathered, stemmed from not being able to effectively harness that moist, dense, ornery wall of light - which I'd mistakenly believed would be a shoo-in for returning an exceptional set of new pics.. Sadly though, it was not meant to be - as my shitty, little camera simply couldn't seem to cope with the conditions. 

So here I am again...penning yet another abbreviated, lackluster post. And although doing so leaves me with a nagging feeling of guilt, it's honestly all that I can swing at the moment - since so many other demands on my time have left me hamstrung to compose the prose that should've accompanied these pics..

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Big Chill

(Snapped on 10/10/11)

Well folks? I've done it again. I've let myself fall deeply and madly, hard and fast - for yet another coldhearted, duplicitous sonofabitch. And (as could've been predicted) I've suffered the patent consequences of being badly burned by the newest addition to a growing list of baleful, backstabbing bastards - to each of whom I've given much more than I've gotten in return.

To put it mildly, I felt frozen...paralyzed...prostrate...immobile - immediately following "my date's" abrupt, humiliating, and nonnegotiable dismissal of me - presumably so that he could fuck fan the fires with a former flame, who just happened to be flitting about town for a few days...(fml).

In any case, I am eternally grateful for the warmth of good friends (old and new), and my dear, sweet, wonderful children - cuz they thawed out my heart before it turned into a solid block of ice. Love you guys so very much.

Perhaps because I'm in the throes of this brutal, emotional deepfreeze - I feel more eager than ever to delve back into self-portraiture with a ferocious, fiery vengeance...and so, pray you'll forgive me for the brevity of this post - but there's a full moon in the sky and a lovely, patchy fog tonight - both of which seem dead set on melting my woes away.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Obtuse Angles

(All pics. snapped on 10/01/11)

When the owner of this amazing steel fabrication plant, offered it up to me as a potential venue for a new set of self-pics., I was positively beside myself with glee! Ya' see...recently, one of my beloved readers left a comment on the Labor (Day) of Love post - citing (and inquiring about) the fluidity of my poses in many of the pictures that I post - after which, I got it in my mind that maybe I oughtta try and swap out the curvy, willowy movements on which I (perhaps too often) rely - for poses more sinewy and harsh. And, what better place to attempt mimicking hard lines and sharp angles - than in a warehouse, not only constructed with - but also a storehouse for - the very quintessence of rigidity: unmalleable, heavy metal I-beams. 

I arrived at the plant, late in the afternoon on a cold, rainy Saturday - and as the owner showed me around the vast space - my mind was agog as I tried to process the plethora of potential photo-ops, all right there at my disposal. I also knew though, that there was no time to delay - as the muted, diffused, natural light that filled the room just enough so that I could avoid turning on the overhead lights - would lose its intensity with each passing minute. 

After settling on where and how to begin, the owner asked if I'd mind very much, if he stayed and watched while I worked. Feeling sincerely indebted to him for his generous offer to let me shoot there - naturally I said, "No, that's fine. But I will be naked...just so you know". (Dur) Here's the deal with that,'s not so much that I'm shy about my body (obviously) but more that snapping self-portraits in front of an audience (no matter how great or small) inevitably hinders my flow. Nothing against him personally, it's just that it's that much more difficult to get into any sort of a groove if I'm engaging in a running dialog, ya' know? Not to mention, naked or not - I definitely become uncharacteristically self-conscious while experimenting with what stuff works, and what doesn't - if the eyes of another are upon me. I'm a solitary artist, what else can I say...

It does bear mentioning however, that most of the images included in this post would never have come about, had the owner not suggested moving some of those heavy-ass, metal doohickies to different spots (and so kindly helped me do so) in order to get myself situated in places where I would not have been able to in the picture above, for example. 

Sadly though, my excitement over being able to climb up and dangle from that crane, was short-lived. After reviewing each photo as soon as they were snapped, I realized that unless I could get myself into position and perfectly still in 10 seconds (which was nearly impossible since the chain always swung at least a leetle bit, once I grabbed onto it) - in that light with no flash - the images were doomed to be fuzzy. Adding to my chagrin, I had completely neglected to effect anything even remotely angular...and instead, absentmindedly resorted to poses that by now in my pics., have become a dime a dozen.

Although for the most part, I completely whiffed on tapping into the desired "angular" theme - I did (thankfully) manage to keep it in the forefront of my feeble mind for this "plank" set of pics....having latched onto the idea following an incident that occurred at my ex's office, the other day. My son performed this maneuver on top of his dad's desk - boasting, "Check it out, Mom. I'm the only kid in my class who can do this" which I of course, (correctly) interpreted to be some sort of challenge. As soon as I proved to him that his rickety, old mother could do it too, I started mulling over scenarios where it might just work in my voila!  

When it came right down to it though, several factors made this image more difficult to capture than one might ever think...not to mention - slightly less than awesome: 

1.) It's physically taxing to do this move, repeatedly. I mean, whenever people ask me what I do to stay in shape - and I answer honestly by saying, "I do no formal exercise because I'm too poor and have no time, but - my self-portrait shoots do sometimes require an enormous amount of exertion" - this is what I'm talking about when I say those types of things...

2.) Again with the holding perfectly still nonsense...I swear to goodness, if I even moved a fraction of an inch, my feet were completely blurred and obscured.

3.) Out of the 20 + times that I successfully got myself into the "plank" position - there were only two frames in which I was parallel to my perch. All of the other times my feet were either too high, or too low. Admittedly I can be overly o.c.d. about such details, nonetheless - it was still incredibly frustrating...

...and 4.) my insistence to feature as much of the scrummy back (and fore)ground in these pics., ultimately left me with the nagging feeling that my being in them was borderline pointless.

The locker pics. proved to be a continuation of my apparent inability to switch from typical, curvy autopilot poses - to the stiff, akimbo stances that I'd hoped to manifest - and I resorted instead, to the safe but gratifying race against my camera's 10 second timer.

(Just look at how filthy I got rolling around up there!)

By the time I snapped this last group of pics., my camera was balking at the lack of good light, and we were forced to switch on the overheads - which was fine - cuz surprisingly, I actually kinda liked the artificial light that they cast on me and the objects below. But only 9 frames in, juuust as the lamps were getting good and warmed up, my camera decided to quit. 

I was to be going home (I believed) having failed to deliver, since I only marginally broke free from my usual drill. Adding insult to injury - I was shocked to discover, that I only snapped a paltry 80 what had felt like a far more industrious hour and a half.

There's this part of me that's super bummed, because evidently after all this time - I've inadvertently become conditioned to pose in an almost robotic-like manner...that I'm regrettably stuck in my ways, whether I care to accept it or not. And another part reasons, "Yeah but...perhaps creating a signature style isn't really such a bad thing". But there's a competitive, determined side of me that refuses to admit defeat...and if that side has its way, I'll revisit and conquer those damned hard angles yet...