Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Prime Real Estate

I noticed this exquisitely divine, burned-out shell of a house - while out on a motorcycle ride with a good friend, maybe a month ago? My head spun around, as my eyes stayed locked on the towering structure - until I was forced to put them back on the road out in front of me...lest I inadvertently veer into the opposite lane, and straight into oncoming traffic. As soon as I saw it, I knew without a doubt, that sometime in the not so distant future - I would go there alone to take pictures with my phone, and to stage some self-portraits, as well.

Yesterday marked the third time in a week, that I've snuck onto the property, climbed inside of the scrumptious ruin through one of its many inviting window cavities, and taken pictures with my phone and of myself - for many hours.

The first time I went there specifically for self-portraits - I began by shooting in the dump site out in a wooded area behind the brick hull, which I had come across on my previous visit. It appeared that most of the inhabitants' belongings had been carried out, and tossed into several heaps, following the fire that had ravaged their home. Among the disintegrating furniture, faded toys, and kitchen essentials - I found a large pile of damp and dirty, decaying clothes that had become fused - not only to the rusted hangers on which they'd once hung, but also to each other - because of a tightly woven network of threadlike plant roots that stitched the garments together. And although the thought of doing so was undeniably macabre, I decided to rummage through, and choose one item from the mildewy pile that would serve as my costume that day.

Before staging any pics. in the house's interior, I tentatively tippy-toed ever so gingerly, back and forth across the partially collapsed floor a few times. After which I convinced myself that it would in fact hold my weight, and that I would not fall through the ash and other debris, between the charred floor joists, and down into the cellar below...I then set up my camera, and snapped furiously until I ran out of space on my memory card - which was especially disappointing since there were other rooms in the house, and ideas that I'd hoped to explore. Adding insult to injury (as I mentioned in the last post) - I wasn't all that jazzed about most of the selfpics that had maxed-out the queue on my memory card that day.

It wasn't a question of whether or not to sneak in a third time, so that I could add more pics. to the first abbreviated sequence of self shots that I'd taken there - it was entirely a question of when...

(Where's Waldo?)

I tend to obsess over the (more) incredible places that I find, and it's not uncommon for me to visit them repeatedly until I finally get them (mostly) outta my system...this ancient, brick skeleton was certainly no exception. Failed first photo shoot aside, I still couldn't wait to be back there once again...but I would have to...because my kids were to be with me for the next three days, and I'd made plans to do another shoot with fine art nude photographer Tyler Keeler, on Monday (which was totally awesome, btw!)

When I went back yesterday, I was better prepared. My memory card was empty, both camera batteries were charged, I'd left earlier in the day so that the sunlight wouldn't be quite as harsh, and I had come up with an agenda that I actually followed. Things went swimmingly well, I must say.

Before I left to walk back to my car - I thanked the old house, and the spirits that (I presume) might still call it home - for allowing me to shoot there without incident or (serious) injury...and more so than ever, I felt deeply grateful for all of the amazing venues that lure me in, and let me make my art there...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Series of Fortunate Events

 It's already been 8 days since I published my last post, and because I don't want to fall even further behind - I'm gonna save time by keeping the text a little less frilly than usual...

(All pics. snapped on 9/11/12)

- I did a photo shoot on Sunday at a forbidden location, after my 10 year old daughter (of all people) suggested it.

- I was pleased enough with the new pics. to begin writing about them on Monday morning, and when I was only about a paragraph away from finishing the entry - my good friend texted me to see if I wanted to go for a motorcycle ride.

- I saved the nearly completed blog entry, hopped on my moto, and followed my friend until we stopped for lunch - 3 states away in Maryland. 

- Giddy as a school girl about having just put 110 single trip miles on the odometer - I parked my bike in the garage, and kicked back on the front porch with a vodka cocktail in my hand, while my friend swilled his favorite Natty Bo.

- Shortly thereafter, another friend ("Caveman") showed up...and after shootin' the breeze with the two guys for an hour or two, I told them that soon I would have to bid them both farewell...I was growing anxious about getting my blog entry posted in a timely fashion.

- Caveman said, "You should let me write your stupid blog entry"...I asked him if he was serious, he said that he was, and I said, "Ok"...I had never before featured a guest writer on my blog - and so it seemed like a clever idea.

- While emailing Caveman the photos that I'd intended to use in the entry - I got a call from my old friend (the one that I bitched about in last week's post, remember?). He was at his neighbors' house, and he wanted to know if I might like to join them.

- My plan to work on the blog that evening, now safely in Caveman's hands - I was free to go call a truce with my old friend, and then party with him and his pals.

- After my self-portraits came up in conversation, my old friend's neighbor offered to let me take pics. down by the creek that borders his property, where the banged-up Buick (seen in these pics.) sits immobile and cantilevered above the shallow water.

- We all stayed up way too late, but I did still somehow manage to get up early this morning - partly because I was eager to see what Caveman had written about my pics.! Oh, and my old friend and I did bury the I was really glad about that.

- Although I was confused by Caveman's bizarre interpretation of my pics., and not all that psyched to share his off-putting prose with my readers - I felt that I should post his piece anyway...if for no other reason - he had apparently put a lot of time into, I doubted that anyone would find it, um...boring.

- I copied each paragraph that Caveman had composed for the blog, from the email in which I had received it - and pasted it onto the blog entry that I had started, but that only had the images that I'd uploaded - still remaining. Each time that I clicked "publish post" though, and then checked to make sure that everything looked the way that it should? I discovered that much of the text had mysteriously disappeared.

- Next I tried retyping every single word that Caveman had sent to me, directly onto the blog entry form page...but whole blocks of text kept vanishing inexplicably.

- After 15 or so failed attempts to successfully publish the blessed thing, I started to get seriously pissed off.

- I decided that I would try to fix the entry a little later on, and left my house to go stage the Buick pics....before the entire day vanished, as well.

- My old friend's neighbor could not have been more hospitable, just such a supremely nice guy. He showed me how to get to the creek and the car, and left me to do my thing for almost 2 hours. When he realized how long I'd been gone though, he came down to check and make sure that the Buick hadn't toppled off of the bank and landed on top of me.

- The neighbor kept me company while I finished taking my last group of pics., after which we reviewed the entire bunch, and chatted as we bathed in the late, summer sun.

- At that point I realized that it might be more prudent to post these pics., instead of the ones that I'd taken at the forbidden location - those other ones had the potential to land me in hot I wasn't all that keen on publishing Caveman's pejorative narrative. So, see? It was actually a good thing that I hadn't been able to publish that other post.

- I came home, edited and uploaded my pics., and now that I've finished writing about 'em, I think I shall shuffle off to bed feeling content for a change...night, night...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fasten Your Seat Belts...'s apt to be a long and bumpy ride...

(Snapped on 9/02/12)

Ever had one of those days, where you intentionally didn't fasten your seat belt before driving, because you secretly sort of hoped that a tractor trailer might t-bone your car? I'm guessing, probably not...I mean, it's a pretty radically morose thing to consider...and I would reckon that most folks don't usually have those types of thoughts running through their minds very often, if at all. I on the other hand, have had many days lately (entire months even) where I got in my car and drove away unbuckled - ok with the idea that some terrible collision might send me flying through the windshield and hurling to my death...thus effectively putting myself (and everyone else) out of my seemingly perpetual misery.

I'm not saying all of this to make you guys worry about my wellbeing (or jump up and cheer, as the case may be)'s not like I'm actually considering going out and purposely slamming my car into a brick wall, or careening into oncoming traffic...I'm just being brutally honest about the fact that more and more so, over roughly the past year - I've been seriously wondering what the point is in me being here...and so, should fate suddenly decide that it's my time to go, well then I'm good with that...because if nothing else, it would solve a lot of problems.

(Snapped on 8/31/12)

I'm writing about all of this right now, because even though there are genuinely good things slowly beginning to happen (in regards to my art, most specifically) recent disappointments have far outnumbered (and overshadowed) the handful of victories...and this has left me feeling directionless and further questioning what my purpose in this life really is.

Romantic relationships are totally out for the foreseeable future, first of all because what guy around here would have the balls to proudly, and openly date me (The Big Ugly, social outcast, pariah), when there's so much potential backlash involved with such a thing. The best I ever seem cursed to get anymore, is being one jerk after another's dirty, little secret - and I'm here to tell ya', I'm through with that stupid, fucking bullshit. Truth be told though, I'm just kind of ruined on men period (for the time being at least)...thanks to the growing list of assholes who've collectively obliterated my ability to trust, and made me fearful of freely giving the love that I'm dying to give...most notably the last dickhead who burned me way worse than the rest of 'em combined. Well done.

And...although my heart may someday mend enough to love a man again, I doubt that it will ever fully heal following the death of my beloved baby pig. I can't say too much about this cuz it will make me cry.

I was ecstatic a couple of weeks ago, after being offered and accepting a (real!) job that was literally perfect for me. I promptly turned down a different, less appealing offer, and quit my other (not-so-real) job, as I geared up to embark on my new career. But then a few days ago, my future boss left me a voice mail in which he stated that his new business' budget could not support as many employees as he'd hired...and he essentially fired me over the phone, before I ever even went in for training. Double You Tee Eff.

There's lots more, but I won't bore you with all the other stuff now...the point is, because of everything - it's like I'm becoming this bitter, paranoid, cynical, angry bitch - which I hate and yet can't seem to do anything about. I dunno though, it's maybe a step up from being sick with sadness like I was for so long.

(Snapped on 9/02/12)

Anyhoo, when an old friend called me from the track on Friday night, and invited me to come join him and the rest of his racing buddies - I jumped at the chance to stop stewing and fuming, if only for a night - by cutting loose with a fun group of people. Maybe I could even sneak in some selfies while I was there...

By the time I arrived at the trailer where the gang was hangin' out, every last one of 'em was fairly well it was nothing for me to convince them to let me stage my selfpics..

   Woaaaahhh...was this ever a tough one to do. In toto, I ended up with only 32 pics. (most of them crappy) and almost as many men standing around watching while I posed. I have never done semi-nude pictures in front of that many people before...I can't remember a more intimidating shoot. Plus, trying to figure out how to deal with the poor lighting, while simultaneously fielding a barrage of suggestions and commentary from the peanut gallery - had me so flustered that I just never could focus properly. I wasn't entirely bummed though, because if nothing else - I had stepped outside of my comfort zone. I just didn't have a whole helluva lot to show for it.

The next day, I returned to the track to watch my old friend race...and the day after that (Sunday) - I went back to (hopefully) take some daytime pics.. It was most perturbing to me that one of the guys who'd been so friendly, and had encouraged and helped me more than anyone else during my first shoot at the track on Friday night - now shot me dirty looks, and refused to utter a single word to me. Others weren't nearly as icy as all that, but many were definitely cool...even my old friend who'd so kindly seen to it that I got a weekend pass to the three day event, had been so sweet to me on Friday night, and had loaned me his driver's suit and helmet for my pics. (Thank You) - treated me like a second class citizen on Saturday and Sunday (F.U.)

I was there thinking, "Tha freak is wrong with you people?!" Cuz the thing is, I've grown accustomed to getting vibed-out by locals who disapprove of what I do, happens all the time...but at least they're consistent - they hate me just as much one time as they hate me the next. The guys at the track however, had done this complete about face...obviously the alcohol had plenty to do with why they were diggin' my shit on Friday night, but their drastic change in sentiment towards me a mere two days later, seemed absurdly unwarranted. I just couldn't see where I'd done anything so horribly wrong, that I deserved to be snubbed that hard...even while chillin' under the tent dressed in street clothes.

I guess you could say that I have a dichotomous personality - on the one hand I am fiercely defiant, I eschew authority, refusing to be told what I can and cannot do. On the other hand though, I can be easily defeated, I prefer to avoid confrontation, and tend to run away from problems instead of trying to work them out. Both sides of my personality made appearances on Sunday.

After the owner of the trailer, and the owner of the white race car - gave me permission to take pics. using their property for a background and as a prop (and couldn't have been nicer about it - Thank You both, so MUCH!) I confidently went about my business...gradually though, the negative atmosphere got the best of me...and after only one hour, I packed up my gear and went home.  

(Snapped on 9/02/12)

The whole experience upset a lot, for many reasons - which compounded my already fragile state of being. Upon arriving home safely (after intentionally not buckling my safety belt, duh), I began asking myself all sorts of questions. Things like: Why do I continue to put myself through this nonsense, huh? And if it's nonsense, then why is self-portraiture one of the only constants in my life? It's a ton of work, it's exhausting, and it can be somewhat why do I still get so much out of it? Why is what I do, considered to be such a bad thing? When did I get this giant chip on my shoulder? Why do I let the things that people think about, say, and do to me - affect me so deeply sometimes? a goddamned dagger in the heart...

And what I came up with is this: I was 41 years old when I discovered dash photography, and almost immediately I knew that I'd found the thing that I was meant to do...about time, right? I mean, let's face it - 41 is awfully old to be figuring out what you wanna "be" when you grow up. (Too bad I haven't figured out how to make any money doing it yet). Either way though, I'm just grateful that I finally picked it up...because I truly love self-portraiture more than any non-human thing on the planet. It's something that I have to, and will continue to do - for as long as I am physically (and financially) able. And yes, I will continue to get naked in my pics.. Not sure why that's so embarrassing, or threatening(?) to people (except for when they're shitfaced, of course).

Obviously I am well aware that there are many people out there who will never ever get why I take naked pictures of myself and write about them on the internet, and that's fine - they don't have to. But by the same token, I can think of plenty of hobbies and jobs that don't interest me at all (most of them, in fact), that doesn't mean however, that I automatically hate on the people who do happen to dig 'em. In general, I pay no attention to things, people, careers, what have you - that I find overly insulting, boring, or complicated - but - if someone is capable of doing something that I know I could never do - (like my old friend who races cars for example) I feel respect and admiration for them...not resentment, or envy, or hatred.

Just like with any profession or endeavor that someone is passionate about - race car drivers are serious about what they do...their job is risky, dangerous, not for the faint of heart - and because of that they are taken seriously. My brand of dash photography is also risky, (can be) dangerous, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Two very different passions, but with moderately similar why is it that only one of them is taken very seriously? And just so there's no confusion, I will state for the record that I am extremely serious about my art - it is not a joke to me, nor is it some silly, drunken, girls-gone-wild party stunt - nor will it ever be…are we clear? (I'm starting to think that this chip may have been on my shoulder for awhile now, ha!)

Ya' know, most days I'm pretty good at shrugging off the negativity - but on top of everything else that's been going down lately - yesterday was too much for me to bear. I was made to feel ashamed about the thing in my life (besides my babies) of which I am the most proud - my art. It was a first time for that, and it sucked. It definitely didn't help that my old friend who had brought me into the situation on Friday night (presumably as entertainment, in retrospect), talked openly and was complimentary about my pics. with all his friends, and was two-thumbs-up about me staging some that night - ended up acting as the spokesperson on behalf of his disgruntled peers, by chastising me for doing the very thing that he'd bragged about just a couple of nights before (nothing like being exploited and betrayed, by someone you care about, and who you thought cared about you)...classic.

This is all further proof to back up my theory that I'm not maybe supposed to mix with other humans, I don't really fit in with any particular crowd. Well, except for my kids, my best friend, and the clerks at the three places where I shop. Unfortunately though, none of this has done anything to help me determine what the point is in me being here, or what exactly my purpose in life is - quite the contrary...but I do know that self-portraiture is the thing that I must do, and it'll help me to get through this rough patch - it always does. And who knows, if things improve? I might even start fastening my seat belt again...

Oh, and by the way - The Big Ugly is two years old today.