July 2006 Archives

In a few hours I'm leaving for a week's vacation in beautiful Costa Rica!!!

We're going with a company called Costa Rica Rios, and if you want to know what my mom and I will be up to, you can check out the itinerary under the "Explore Costa Rica" section.

Look forward to many stories and photos upon my return!

A note on design & Project Runway

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The outcome of last night's episode of Project Runway came as no surprise to me, and in fact I called it as I saw the final designs.

It's pretty simple. Design doesn't always have to be good, so much as memorable. In the history of design, it's rare that the best designed objects and fashion stand out, so much as the most distinct, recognizable, and signature styles. Think about Eames chairs, Diane Von Furstenberg's wrap dress, Chanel No 5, etc.


Or more tangible examples for my generation (if you grew up in NJ): Hypercolor shirts, Starter jackets, Air Jordans, Sambas, early Macs, Swatch watches, slap bracelets, jelly shoes, and on and on. Sometimes the most iconic designs are utterly impractical, uncomfortable, poorly made, or just plain nonsensical - yet cost a fortune and you just had to have - and other times design and style intersect to make something as good as it is noticeable.

Buyer mentality always goes toward the signature, which accounts in part for our fixation on emblazoning ourselves with logos and brand-names. The celebrity of designers and branding is based on creating an "original" or the first of a trend, such that all others become knock-offs or copies. Those willing to pay out the nose for this "original" want to show that they've done so, hence the need for visible authentication with logos, labels, and the like.

Where this applies to PR (and no, I didn't get distracted shopping for jellies on ebay...) is pretty straight-forward. Katherine made an innocuous dress, Angela made a whoreanus outfit. Katherine's fabric was tasteful, if a little plain, Angela's was awful and tacky and strangely combined. Katherine's style was plain and uninspired, Angela's veered toward "street walker" (in the wholly un-self-aware words of Ivanka Trump).

None of that matters.

Because Angela, while her taste was out the window, sewed her garment technically well. Vera Wang (whom I personally can't stand, but I have to give her credit as a solid designer who knows what she's doing) pointed out that yes, they all hated Angela's dress, but it was well made. Katherine's wasn't. She offered feeble excuses about the machines (which hello, don't forget all the other constestants with beautifully finished garments made on the same machines... or ... hand-sew your hems). She should have known better, but I don't want to beat up on a young designer.

It ultimately, eye-rollingly, does come down to point of view. Angela makes shudderingly awful garments, but she's committed to her vision. Despite all appearances to the contrary, she's not half-assing it -- she's making her ugly clothes well, and if our nation collectively lost its mind (which is entirely possible, seeing some of the abominations we've passed off as high fashion in recent memory), Angela is already rocking a very recognizable signature style which, however comically, she was accurate in pointing out, did not in any way resemble anything else coming down the runway. What it does resemble, I'll leave for a moment.

Katherine's dress could have appeared in any of a hundred thousand generic mall stores, except it would have been better made. If one's vision is limited to plain colors and hoodies, then unfortunately, it's not really a vision so much as maintaining the status quo.

Though there is no denying the input of producers, the drama factors, and so many other reality television cliches, I think this was actually one of the few justifiable and understandable eliminations made in the history of this show, as it actually makes sense design-wise. Again, with no offense to Katherine, who God bless her, has never made anything as insipid as La Jupe du Jour, "an 80's skirt that I re-worked by chopping and shredding as if it was a salad from our garden" (via Angela's website). As an aside, and one can't determine if Angela named it herself or not (though likely), that image file was called "ShortPurpleyShredSkirt." Purpley indeed.

The thing about Angela's designs is that they're not really anything shocking or new, so much as ideas we haven't seen in a while. It actually surprises me that she didn't get along better with Vincent, seeing his affinity for 80s fashion (and what luck for him that leggings, white glasses, and polka dots are actually in style again). At any rate, if you remember (or go back and research) some of the designer trends of the 80s and early 90s, Angela is right in stride, and given her age, I don't suspect it's retro for her, but whatevs. Her vision may be limited by her personality, and that's her own issue to deal with, but in reading through her design and inspiration, she at least thinks she's doing something important and interesting. So she may be edited to appear a horse's ass, but she is a sincere horse's ass, and there's something to be said for that.

Let's not forget the fantastic words of Jean Cocteau:

"Art produces ugly things which frequently become beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time." (via)

And to the amnesiac judges, let's also not forget last season when we start calling Bradley's rather Vosovician top "the most original":

Heh, it's just fashion.

(no images in this post are mine - all via bravotv.com or Google image searches)


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I have a tendency to see similarities in people that others don't always see.

Lately, I haven't been able to stop noticing how much Eric looks like Rainn Wilson (yknow, Dwight) sometimes:

That was when I first met him - awww, so cute.

And also, because they won't stop running promos for Workout while I'm trying to watch Project Runway, I've noticed that Jackie Warner looks a bit like Sara from this past season of America's Next Top Model:

Don't you see it too??

I had a somewhat unplanned trip to New Jersey, as I had to pick up malaria medication for my upcoming vacation (which is in like... days!).

To be honest, it was a nice relief from things around here, seeing as I'd gone over the top in resolution of my intolerance of the heat (somehow I've become a Southern belle who gets the vapors and cannot bear misting). Eric went along with this and agreed we could pull out one of the couches in the living room and sleep directly beneath the air conditioner. Of course once I experienced that kind of heaven, I was reluctant to go back to normal life, that is, detached from a constant stream of comfort. I remembered what I used to like about studio apartments as well - it's like camping!

Also, I got new shoes (Imelda), and I've spent most mornings walking around in pinafores and heels. Fantastically interesting stuff, I know.

I headed down really early Sunday morning, which made for an incredibly pleasant drive. When I was in college in Connecticut, I used to love the drives to New Jersey because it gave me a couple of hours by myself, alone with my thoughts, a luxury I'd forgotten about until recently.

I met up with my parents and we spent most of the morning shopping and gathering a few last-minute things for our trip. It's pretty adorable - my dad is as excited for us as we are, which makes for an energy of anticipation I just love. In the afternoon, we attempted to go sailing and were dissuaded by an absolute lack of wind, so we went back to the house and chilled on the deck. My mom read aloud from the Costa Rica Lonely Planet and another guide book about all the places we'd be going - whereas I was excited before (but also kind of nervous) I am now nothing but thrilled.

My mom's attempts at Spanish pronunciation provided immense entertainment, and we were all in hysterics as she read. One of the sites we're supposed to visit is described as being "great for those who love giant spiders, snakes, mud, and dark." As my mom read this, I turned to my father with a horrified expression and said, "You know if you just add some clowns, I think that's all my worst fears right there!" Fortunately, there are only going to be four people on our trip (at last check), so there will be some leeway as far as what we do and don't do, and we both agreed that this particular trudging through waist-deep muddy water in a dark cave "adventure" is not one we're particularly inclined toward.

I also clarified with my mom that we're definitely not going to be on our diets, and she joked that no, she was planning to bring a box of Nutri System meals with her. We'd go to eat and she'd hold up the cardboard box to say "noodle-oles en agua?" Man I laughed my ass off. My mom is perhaps the funniest person I know, and I am ridiculously psyched to be her travel companion - this trip is gonna rock.

While we were reading and discussing things, I also took photos and discovered an as yet unresolved problem with my zoom lens (have to work on this). Before it fizzled out, however, I took some neat monarch butterfly photos:

The hummingbirds were dog-fighting all over the yard, but too quickly for me to capture. We also watched cardinals, black-capped chickadees, red house finches, and a bunch of other birds coming in to the feeder. I think my mom's description of her house as the "Rumson Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary" is pretty damn accurate.

Some new flowers bloomed as well, including the candy and stargazer lilies, which are among my favorites. The gladiolas are just about to bloom, but I will most likely miss them while I am away. That was something I used to really love about living in New Jersey - observing the different plants in the garden growing and blooming at such perfectly predictable times. At this point, I know down to within a week what I'll be able to shoot whenever I am there, and there is some kind of intense harmony in that. Watching the cycles of nature is comforting and grounding, especially when around here sometimes it feels that every day is the same.

As a slight aside here, I should mention something monumental that's happened in my mind: I've regained my inspiration.

I used to go about life looking around, observing everything and thinking about how one could capture it, recreate it, or in some way share what is so special and invigorating about it. I looked at everything in my world with my palette in mind, considering how I'd mix given colors or how I would present what I was seeing on a canvas. At some point, things shifted, and instead of taking photos with a mind on using them as reference images for paintings, they've become ends unto themselves, deposited to Flickr and (often) forgotten.

I think part of this is to do with vehemently embracing abstraction and telling myself that an abstract painter can't go back to painting representationally, but that's all just ridiculous. It's even more absurd when I remember that my initial mechanism of abstraction was simply looking really, really closely at the tiny details of natural forms, concentrating in on the poignant little moments which give life to matter. They are still what captivates me, but I've eliminated them from my process, such that what I'm painting is wholly synthetic and couldn't be more detached from the natural world which initially impelled me to paint.

That said, I'm going to paint representationally for a while. Flowers, birds, trees, water - whatever I want. By and large, the most genuine moments of discovery in my painting happen when I'm working at achieving something I saw or felt, rather than inventing an entire experience from mental matter or attempting to manipulate or politicize my world to fit into a conceptual model I don't really believe in. Out of mind, into body, basically.

Even though I just recently saw them, I missed being with my family. It was such a treat to get to have dinner with all of them at once, out on the deck, with the dogs underfoot and nature in all its splendor around us.


(Because everybody loves Otto).

I stayed over Sunday night, went shopping through more old clothes that I had stored there (fall pants already fit - yes!), and continued getting amped up for Costa Rica with my mom.

That evening, I had the trippiest, most bizarre and confusing dreams I've had in a long time, which given my ordinary depths of insane dreaming, is saying a lot. I know it's to do with the chloroquinine, but still - crazy. Somewhere in there, I woke up with the resolution that I need to paint what I feel, as described above.

In years gone by (and not so much recently), I used to have dreams about painting, which is to say, I just watched colors of paint get laid down into complete images. Layers and layers of paint over what felt like hours, twisting and blending into completed works which looked nothing like what I usually painted afterwards. It was delightful entertainment for myself, watching my brain deconstruct the process, but ultimately it was also sometimes very frustrating because the instant I'd wake up, I could barely remember what the finished image looked like - it would be an out-of-focus, muted version of what had been so vibrant and alive. For the first time in a really long time, I got back to those paint dreams, and suddenly everything felt right. In one of them, I was painting white birches. In another, flower interiors again (that's how I started my undergraduate thesis). I'm psyched to work again.

On Monday, I woke up so late that my father was getting home from work while I was in pajamas. We talked for a bit (and sucked down salsa and chips - excellent breakfast), then got in touch with my mom and agreed to go sailing. She met us at the horseshoe after work and we had one of the more mellow sunset sails of recent memory. The light was astonishingly beautiful, and the wind was gentle enough to move the boat without disturbing the glistening flow of water.

We talked a lot about the vacations that we took as a family throughout my childhood, and I mentioned how the things that particularly resonated with me were usually free, involved a little work, and were to do with exploring the native environment and culture we were visiting. There truly is no substitute for immersing oneself in all the beauty and life around us.

The ospreys nesting on one of the channel markers now have juveniles who are learning to fly quite successfully. My parents described some of their earlier efforts (overflying the nest, squawking and making a racket like little children), and I was pleased to see how much better they were doing. As we got closer to the nest, they started flying around circling, performing aerial acrobatics, and generally showing off. One in particular kept silhouetting himself against the sunset, and I had a lot of fun watching and photographing him (though I was frustrated that I couldn't use my zoom lens).

I also shot a bunch of reference photos and spent a lot of time just watching the water, the color shifts and reflections. Perhaps I could spend my whole life and never capture something that elegant and perfect, but wow, what a sight.

I've mentioned it to my parents before, but whenever I close my eyes or have that abstract vision which accompanies my sense of home, one of my first images is silver light reflecting on the Navesink. It truly is an amazing place to have grown up, and I realize just how lucky I am that this is the place I consider my first home in the world.
As we sailed into the slip, the sun was setting, painting the sky pink. I swelled up with joy at being alive, with such great company, in such a beautiful place.

So even though it was unplanned, I had an absolutely amazing weekend. If I am this blown away by New Jersey, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle everything in Costa Rica, but God I am excited!

I'm planning to go to the studio for a while tomorrow to get some of the things in my head down. I had initially hoped to get reinspired by my trip, but at this point, I'm so full up with sensation and beauty I think I'm about to burst.


I made two more animations (click to view) - the dithering is still a little off.

I put my photos from this weekend into a new Flickr set, if you'd like to see more.

Oh happy happy day

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This evening I went to the mall by my old apartment, and as I was trying on pants I suddenly realized....

(drum roll)

I am down a pants size! And down TWO skirt sizes!

I have been dieting since the end of February, but getting discouraged because I hadn't really noticed appreciable loss. The other day when I weighed in, I saw I'd lost 20 pounds, but as this hadn't seemed to effect how fat I still felt, I wasn't too excited.

Now that I see where 20 pounds = a pants size, I'm pretty thrilled.

When I got home, I went shopping in my cedar chest full of work clothes (from before grad school, when I slaved in fashion) and was able to pull out a whole big pile of skirts that I had heartbrokenly packed away. These are the clothes I wore the summer before I started dating Eric (back in 2004) - wheee!!!

Theoretically, when I begin classes this fall, I will be able to wear the size I wore when I was first out of undergrad (when I worked in Chelsea)... this is very very very good.

As far as what I purchased tonight, I kicked ass. Tired of this whole ill-fitting boxers (often E's cast-offs) and grungy T-shirts as pajamas situation, I bought a pile of pinafore-style nightgowns which are oh-so-feminine. It's almost a little ridiculous how sweet and cute they are - as I was checking out, the cashier commented on how pretty and well-made they were, and I said yes, they remind me of the dresses my mother used to make for me and the things I used to wear as a little girl. My logic (which gave her a big grin) is that since I can't wear ultra-girly pastel pinafores during the day, I might as well get to wear them at night.

I also got a bunch of cropped pants, long shorts, and capris, as I've decided I have too many cute shoes to keep them covered (oh and hiking - I'm wearing them hiking). In celebration of this, I also got a fantastic pair of bronze heels and some silver flip-flops. Combined with a bunch of things I bought at Sports Authority the other night, I'm now pretty much done with everything I need for Costa Rica, as well as going back to school. Freaking sweet.

Recovered + goodies

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Seconds after posting an annoyed explanation that the last two entries were missing, I figured out how to recover them using my beloved Google Reader (is there anything it can't do??) - I am much less cranky now.

Last night I made a new water animation:

That's from Jamaica Pond in Boston, MA. At the time I was shooting the photos for it, I told Jeremy that I'd make him an animation so he could stare into the water all day.

I also worked on my HDR images from Boston and Elizabeth Park, though it's a little tricky because I have no idea what the different settings in the editor do. I like the way some of them look dream-like or as if they should be illustrating fairy tales. Others just look like poorly-exposed photos to me, so I should definitely learn tone mapping better...

I've made a Flickr set of HDR Images and will be adding or replacing as I generate more.

Summer fun

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This past weekend we met up with Tricky and Rob at the Siren Music Festival in Coney Island. Among other bands, we saw Tapes n' Tapes, The Stills, and Stars - great music. We wandered around playing games and eating bunches of junk food.

Eric and Tricky went for two rounds of go-karts and had ridiculous amounts of fun. Rob and I opted not to, since those two maniacs would already be on the road.

I posted all my photos in a Flickr set.

I took a few videos, which I've posted to YouTube - they are obviously not the highest quality, but you can get a sense of what was going on, and if you have super hearing, you can hear a little bit of Stars' set.

First, regular go-karting.


Then, Eric and Tricky race and cause a pile-up.


Afterwards, I asked Eric if he had fun, and this was his reaction. As for Tricky, his mind was blown. Rob was unimpressed.


Lastly, a shooting game. I think they were shooting the mouth of Osama bin Laden?


Neither of them won, but I think they did pretty well.

I love Coney Island!

After the festival, we met up with Rob's girlfriend Catherine and finally went to the bar across the street from our apartment (which shamefully, Eric and I had never been to). It was fun, though we didn't stay long - we ended up getting White Castle for dinner (because we didn't have enough fatty greasy food at Coney Island), then came back here and chilled for a while, which was a great time.

On Sunday, Eric and I drove up to Ridgefield, where we swam and goofed off with JP. They have a beautiful pool that has some salt solution instead of chlorine, such that I think I could spend all day swimming there.

In the late afternoon, we headed to nearby Lake Mamanasco, where Eric and JP kayaked. I was reluctant to try, as it was getting dark and buggy, then Eric capsized his and got soaked. Whoops. Still it looked like fun, so I will definitely go next time.

As usual, I took a pile of photos and put them in another Flickr set. Yay Flickr.

After showering and changing into dry clothes, we all went out to dinner, originally intending to go to a Mexican place (which was closing) - we ended up at an Olive Garden, where we enjoyed some fine hospitaliano. It's becoming a bit of a running joke with Eric and I because one time when we'd gone to PS1 with Rob & Catherine, we drove clear across Queens & Brooklyn then waited several hours to get into an Olive Garden when we were surrounded by much better restaurants all the way. Similarly, Ridgefield has all these great places to eat, yet we all wanted Olive Garden. Go figure. (It was, in fact, delicious).

We had a lovely visit with Eric's family, then drove back to Brooklyn in the evening. I'm so happy to have free time this summer to go do fun things, visit people, and enjoy ourselves. It is so wonderful!

Summary of photo sets:

Something serious

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When I was first looking for an apartment in this neighborhood, I had a really unpleasant experience right outside. A very beautiful woman was walking rapidly behind me on the sidewalk, seeming upset and in a hurry.

An SUV barrelled down the road and screeched to a halt in the middle of the street. An angry frat-boy looking white guy jumped out, grabbed the girl and threw her against the side of his car, pinning her with his hand around her throat and screaming in her face. As he hollered various racial and sexist epithets, accusing her of all manner of things, she tried hard to keep her composure then broke away from him and continued her brisk pace, keys in hand, toward what is now my apartment building.

As she began to pass me, I turned to her and asked if she was okay, or if she wanted me to call the police. She didn't say anything, but shook her head no and gave me an ominous look I haven't forgotten. The guy shoved me aside as he rushed after her, but thankfully she had gotten inside and pulled the door shut, leaving him to pound on the glass and shout into the lobby.

At the time I was absolutely horrified. This guy looked like your average college meathead - khaki cargo shorts, a striped polo, baseball cap, shaggy hair, leather sandals - and here he was red-faced with veins popping out of his head threatening to slit someone's throat in the middle of the street. I wondered what could drive someone to such ferocious anger and violence, how someone could turn so cruelly into a monster against a woman he had presumably once loved.

This evening, nearly a year later, I had another brush with these thoughts as our bathroom wall shook with the force of someone being thrown into it. Amidst gutteral cries and the sound of further bashings against the wall, I made out a girl yelling "Someone, please call the police!" followed by more awful noise. I called Eric over asking if he'd heard all the commotion, and we stood in the doorway listening, trying to decide what we should do. Evidently the girl had locked herself somewhere safe, as we heard the sounds of her tearfully giving her address over the phone, followed by the guy pleading for forgiveness and saying he hadn't meant to hurt her.

If this were a movie or television show, it would have been that same girl from last summer and we would have had a dramatic exchange in the hallway, but because it is reality, it's another girl getting beat up by yet another abusive man, probably one among a countless sea of victims.

I've always been very sensitive to violence, in both brutal and subtle forms. Emotional or verbal abuse is just as awful as physical, yet we often don't notice the ways people are mistreating one another until someone shows up with bruises and broken bones. I think about how these things escalate from disagreements over everyday things to screaming fights - and I wonder where the line gets crossed, how it becomes okay to slap someone across the face, shake them, throw them against a wall, punch them, or worse.

I know it doesn't start out that way - if it did, we could easily say these women should know to expect it. I look at a guy like Eric, who this evening walked to a grocery to pick up shallots and tofu for me and got excited to find diet cranberry ginger ale that he thought I'd like, and I think it is unfathomable for him to transform into someone who would hit me or do any bodily harm to anyone. In his case, I do believe I'm right, but I realize everyone feels that way about their boyfriends, and no one anticipates death threats on a Thursday night or in the middle of a street on a hot afternoon.

I guess I would just encourage women to look out for themselves and encourage all people to treat each other well. Life is too precious and too short to squander it in anger and violence.

I am a major geek

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major geek

I scored 36.09467% on the Geek Test, qualifying me as a Major Geek.

I maintain that it is not geeky to study grammar for fun, enjoy the Weather Channel, or retain basic knowledge from school. But as Duane and Eric both pointed out, the fact that I protest so much probably means it's true.

Plenty of people own microscopes damnit.

(thank goodness they didn't ask about blogs)

Life of Leisure

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Since getting back I've done a lot of nothing. Actually, I did yoga on Monday and edited photos a lot yesterday. Mostly I've relaxed (much to Eric's annoyance).
But I have been crafting! Or, at least, preparing to craft...
I received a very exciting package which has contributed heartily to my amassing of craft supplies. Previously I had gotten this beautiful yarn:

It is a stretchy cotton-elastic blend, Elann's Esprit in natural and Alaskan blue, which I am using to knit two shrugs (the free pattern which is featured). I knit a little with it and was surprised by just how stretchy it is, which should make for an interesting experience.

When I got that yarn, I had purchased a bunch of supplies for shrug-knitting and predictably messed up the needle size I ordered. I wonder if there are any good uses for size 0 circulars? Damn pull-down menus. In searching for a nearby place to order the proper-size circular needles, I blundered upon Jo-Ann Fabric's site and discovered one can in fact order fabric online!

As it happened, they had two calicoes I adored, so I got enough yardage of each to make the dress and skirt patterns I have not as yet attempted. I may have made peace with my sewing machine, but that doesn't mean I've lost all fear of it.

Those big purple needles are for another new project, which I've begun swatching for - the Eve Sweaterfrom MagKnits March 06. To do so, I got maniacal and ripped apart that huge mockery of a double-width completely-knit scarf - I look forward to seeing how much more interesting the yarn will appear when worked through this pattern.

As I was organizing these new supplies, I discovered several other lengths of fabric (enough for skirts, in fact!) which I had completely forgotten about, so I am well on my way to my dream of making all my own idiosyncratic clothing and never having to buy ill-fitting oddly-colored items from the Gap again. Next step,Project Runway.

Speaking of, I am jump-up-and-down excited for this evening's premier, to a point of being genuinely pathetic, and will most likely weigh in on it once I've thoroughly obsessed.

The rest of my vacation

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After my epic catch-up post yesterday, I am feeling much less descriptive, so - lucky you! - this will be shorter.

On Friday, we headed up to Eric's mom's house in Ridgefield CT. Eric's brother JP had just gotten back from his school in Italy. We had delicious steaks for lunch, then ran errands. Eric learned from my mother and wouldn't stop to get a smoothie until after Radio Shack. Booo. We wanted to get a swim in, but there was not enough time before we had to head up to Hartford. I put these in a Flickr set, which also includes photos from later that night.

We had dinner with Eric's grandmother in Hartford, which was quite a feast. It was basically Thanksgiving dinner - I was beside myself. It was very nice meeting her and getting to know her some, as well as hear about JP's experiences in Italy.

Afterwards, we headed over to Cleo, where we met up with Dan Courtney, Ben, and Dan whose-surname-I-don't-know. A few other people were in and out, but mostly we sat around talking shit for a few hours downstairs.

The next morning we headed up to Boston, originally in two cars and then in one, as Eric and I had to turn back around when JP was having car trouble. It was really fun to drive up all three of us anyway, though it's unfortunate it had to be at the expense of JP's vehicle.

At this point I should mention I've been to Boston exactly three times, usually for some party, and I rarely get to see the city at all. When Jeremy asked what we wanted to do, instead of sight-seeing I said I wanted to find a park somewhere and wander around taking photos. As it happens, Jeremy lives very close to the Emerald Necklace, a very beautiful portion of the city connecting two regions in a scenic and picturesque way. In the center is Jamaica Pond, which we circled, gleefully taking photos all the way. Eric taught me how to shoot HDR images (high dynamic range), which I will discuss later, when I finish working on them.


We all enjoyed our nature time - Jeremy got all worked up seeing white birches, as they reminded him so much of his home in New Hampshire. We talked a lot about camping and being outdoors, and it was just a perfect afternoon. I also discovered that my camera bag functions as an ideal cup-holder, which made the Dunkin Donuts mango-passion fruit smoothie I gulped down that much more enjoyable. I put all my photos from the afternoon into a Jamaica Pond photo set.

In the evening, our friend Richard came up from New York, which was a special treat, as I'd just had so much fun with him that Thursday night. We hung out in Jeremy's apartment in various degrees of intoxication, watching The 40 Year Old Virgin, which I found absolutely hilarious. Whatever Steve Carell does, I will laugh my head off at it.

We had greasy delicious food from a store on Jeremy's corner, then thoroughly glutted and amused, decided perhaps we should be social. We got dressed and headed out, at which point I discovered that my fabulous new party shoes are not very good for fast-paced walking with sneaker-shod boys. I'm not sure why exactly we walked so far, but we ended up taking a cab, and the cab ride home was only five minutes. I've concluded Boston is some confusing vortex, wherein everything takes longer getting there than returning and somehow everyone from Massachusetts is able to live "just outside Boston," as well as possess real estate on the Cape, despite the Cape seeming much smaller than the entire state which, one assumes from descriptions, is comprised largely of Boston and some fringe suburbs. (I know it's not like that, as I've studied a map extensively to try to understand, but you should hear people try to geographically locate themselves there).

We went to a party with some friends from Trinity, which was quite fun. We were at a much different level of sobriety than many of the other guests, but it was great seeing so many people and catching up. We also wandered about on the rooftop - they had a stunning view, and yet again I kicked myself for not bringing a tripod to a social situation. I mean... it's a smalltripod, and it goes with most outfits. At any rate, I took some fun photos, now in a Boston set.

The next morning we said goodbye to Tricky & Jeremy and picked up JP to head back to Hartford. Incidentally, Fresh City wraps? Fantastic.


Because it was such a gorgeous day, we met Duane, Jen & Thomas and Dan Courtney at Elizabeth Park back in Hartford. I'm stunned everytime I see Thomas, as he gets less like a baby and more like a bright, agile child. I may be biased, but he's perhaps the cutest and most clever kid in the planet right now. He also won my heart because he says "Cheese!" and gives a big smile when you take his picture.

It was wonderful and heart-warming through-and-through to be with such great friends on another beautiful day. I really love those guys!

I put more photos into another set - Elizabeth Park - and also took a few more HDR's, to be posted soon.

After the park we went to see Superman Returns, which was umm, pretty. It was reasonably entertaining, but at some point very loud CGI productions get to me. If possible, I think I prefer watching movies at home to in the theater because I can reduce the volume to a sensible level rather than constantly worry I will go deaf from the excessive stimulation of surround sound. Plot-wise the movie was decent, but left a lot of major gaping holes, presumably for franchise development, but aggravating. Just once I would like a superhero movie to stand alone, the way I think some of the Batman's did. Also, for as much as people are overly sensitive to morality or supposedly conservative Christian values, I'm surprised no one has commented on the heavy handedness in this film. Some of the recurring statements were near direct quotes from Scripture, and one lengthy passage with Superman in a suffering Christ-pose floating in space was just too blatant to have missed. Not that it was bad, mind you, I'm just surprised it seems to have flown over with so little notice.

At any rate, it was fun to see a movie with friends again - I haven't done it since last summer I think, during which I had a fever and sun poisoning and barely remember the film.

Eric, JP & I headed back to their grandmother's house and had another fabulous dinner and lovely visit. Eric and I drove home and talked some - he was very tired and there seemed to be a disproportionate amount of teenagers in souped-up Hondas attempting to drag race on the highways. That is one thing I emphatically do not miss about New Jersey, and I think in many ways it is a relief to live in a more pedestrian oriented city where one can go days or weeks without driving around swarming maniacs.

At any rate, it is very good to be home - I've missed our kitties so much it's a little alarming.

To summarize photos from this portion:

It seems I only like coasts...

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States I've been to (Arizona was only a layover):

create your own visited states map

Eric started up his blog again with a new design and a similar post. I am completely put to shame when we compare countries, and this is even including my upcoming trip to Costa Rica - though in my defense, it's kind of hard to see that I've been to Bermuda.

create your own visited countries map

We have resolved that we need to go fill in some states and I absolutely need to exceed 1% of the countries in the world. I'm dying to see my brother's, as he frequently loses count of how many countries he's been to or how many times he's been around the world.

So umm, roadtrip anyone?

I'm sorry to have dropped out of the blogosphere - I've been on vacation effectively since June and I'm enjoying life without the internet.

I'm going to give a lengthy description of where I've been, followed by more extensive thoughts on things when my brain gets back. For ease of narration (and so we can all skim), I'm organizing by date.

Thursday 6/29

As I mentioned, my aunt and grandmother flew in from Hawaii on the 29th, so I went to my parents' house in NJ. I spent the whole afternoon Thursday sitting and talking with my grandmother while my aunt napped (they took the red-eye flight after a full day of work). It was so nice to have several hours to discuss anything and everything and catch up with each other - my gram is an amazing person, and it's such a treat to have her company.

I was in charge of making dinner Thursday night while my dad was at work and my mom at clinic. For this task I had to learn to use the grill... and now I get it. My dad is always happiest while grilling, and I've now also discovered the Zen of grilling. Unfortunately, it took a big fireball and scorching the ends of my hair to sort out how much propane is too much (thankfully my clothing and eyebrows remained unignited). I made lime-and-pepper marinated chicken that even I found delicious. I also cooked rice, and my gram and I prepared squash with Vidalia onion in the pressure cooker (another elusive kitchen device I've never used). My brother came home in time to have dinner with us, and toward the end my dad got home as well. It was nice being there with the house full of people, all of whom enjoyed my cooking and complimented me repeatedly (hehe - I'm only half-joking).

We talked story way into the night once my mom got home from clinic, and then we set up air mattresses whereupon I had perhaps the best sleep I've ever had. That thing was even more comfortable than my mattress at home, and as an added bonus, it was low enough that the cats and Otto could freely hop into bed with me and snuggle up.

Friday 6/30

My mom was off work, so it was a girls' day shopping. We started out going to this great little store called Sasha's in Atlantic Highlands - if you live on the Jersey shore, you owe it to yourself to check that place out, as it's super-fun. I came away with fantastic new party shoes, as well as an awesome fish-shaped bag ideal for carrying one's credit card, cell phone, keys et al. After that, we went to a bakery (the same one where I completely blew it and failed to pig out on pastry). My aunt purchased several dozen hard rolls to pick up just before they left - somehow it never occurrs to me how much we take things like proper hard rolls for granted. I succeeded in pastry for breakfast, purchasing one of the bigger and more delicious eclairs I've had in my life, as well as pignoli-encrusted almond cookies.

We had lunch at the Pour House, which was of course fantastic. Afterwards, we stopped by one of my favorite stores to get lovely frames (on sale!) and quite perfect mats. We went by the Walgreen's I used to work at and my former manager told me her husband had passed away, which was pretty sad. She told me about her plans to move in with her daughter and grandchildren (I believe) and sounded optimistic, but is definitely a changed woman. We ended up coming back fairly early so that my mum could head to Friday evening clinic and I could sit in traffic for an hour to get ink cartridges, then I headed up to Brooklyn.

Friday evening Eric and I (after much "discussion") went to Crobar where our friend Seth was hosting a Zoo party. I revamped my monarch butterfly wings with blaze orange and polarizing reflective pigments in an acrylic binder (yay Painting Processes!) so they would be all blacklight-glowy. I also took out their wire armiture to prevent excessive eye-gouging or other tragedies involving beautiful 94-pound eighteen-year-olds. Lamentably, Eric no longer dances with me (when did that happen??), but it was still a pretty great time. I took a lot of photos of lights, nearly naked people, and the glow guy (none of which came out even remotely in focus). Afterwards I took some night-time photos around Chelsea, which I also posted in the Crobar set in Flickr.

Saturday 7/1

I spent most of Saturday in a state of intense indecision, trying to select photos to present in the summer BWAC show. Literally, I passed hours agonizing in front of my computer, editing things, yelling at myself for not being better organized, then scrapping whole series time after time. Finally I got a good set together and was ready to print, then got into another bout of inadequacy as Eric raised an eyebrow and said something about them being rather predictable. I ended up using my own printer(glad I bought those ink cartridges for Eric's) and matted and framed photos while we watched Vanilla Sky on TV. I couldn't help noticing an astonishing amount of parallels between it and Eyes Wide Shut, and I can't help thinking Tom Cruise (or someone like-minded) is working his own agenda into these films, as their presentation is just so blatant it's nearly absurd. If you are wondering what I'm talking about, think of the use of masks and obstruction of vision and you'll start getting at the heavy-handedness of metaphor in both films.

Sunday 7/2

Finally armed with my beautifully-framed photos (seriously, they looked spectacular), I headed down to the pier to hang my show. I can't explain it, but hanging shows absolutely consumes me with anxiety. I reckon it's the very essence of putting oneself on display for others - I could only feel worse if I were required to hang my panel in the nude and remain within a Lucite box for the duration.

I've also resolved that in future endeavors, I will put the time into making sure I frame or otherwise prepare my pieces so they are naturally level, as this will alleviate many frustrated hours attempting to get them to defy physics and hang straight.

My friend Arden hung about taking many photos of me (which used to unnerve me and now amuses me to no end) and helped me get things centered and level. I'm on a pretty prominent panel again, and even though I am entirely too self-conscious about photography to be presenting it, I think my panel hangs together rather well. I priced them all quite reasonably, fingers crossed they will sell.

In the pitch dark I remembered to run back and snap a quick shot to show my family (which I then promptly forgot to bring to NJ), but this is approximately what my panel looks like. I will attempt to post a virtual version if I get a chance, but if you're able, you should go to the BWAC Summer Show and check it out in person!

After leaving the pier, I headed to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies to get a key lime pie (naturally). That guy is so awesome - I didn't have any cash and only had my credit card with me but his machine was down, so he gave me the pie anyway and said "You'll get me back sometime." (Which reminds me...) I was pretty touched and had my faith in humanity restored a little bit.

As I went to Fairway (ugh) in search of an ATM (which didn't work) I bumbled into another little adventure, where a guy saying he did body work and had tools in his car to fix the boss's wife's car (whatevs) offered to repair my hood and the part of my back bumper recently crushed in (which I don't even think I mentioned, but on Father's Day weekend someone mashed in the corner of my brand-new bumper - argh). It was more money than I wanted to spend on my car, but decidedly less than such repairs would ever cost if I went to my usual body work place (it was even lower than my deductible). With wary caution and endless mental reptition of the phrase "You get what you pay for," I watched him perform miracles in the parking lot.

The bumper is obviously not a perfect repair, but it's good enough to pass for only having been glanced as opposed to victimized by treacherous parallel parking disabilities (literally it was completely concave and he was able to get it nearly flat). This is important because when people see you have one major crumple on your car, they have no qualms about adding scratches and dings. The hood is a flawless repair and actually latches properly now, such that I am no longer in fear of hitting a large bump and having it fly up obstructing my windshield. I also no longer calculate how much my aerodynamics are decreased by these structural problems or how much this costs me in inefficient gas mileage. Most of all, I am no longer angry at whatever family member or alien abductors were responsible for banging up my hood last January before I'd even gotten to see my car after very expensive repairs and replacements (from having been rear-ended last summer).

Point being, it's beautiful now and I came out with even further "hooray humanity" sentiments.

I came back home (forgetting all about that ATM and paying the pie man) and rushed around to pack a bag and get back on the road. The instant I closed my door, the sky fell out, rewarding me with the single most entertaining drive of my life. Coming over the Outerbridge Crossing, the sun was setting to my right and a massive thunderstorm approached from the left, converging in the middle with insanely beautiful light. I watched huge flashes of lightning strike across the sky while my mirrors filled with warm sunset - it was intensely wonderful. I attempted to take photos and got exactly one of lightning. Considering I was driving at around 80 mph, I'll accept that as a victory. The rest are in a Flickr set.

When I got back to my parents' house, I gave my aunt and grandmother birthday presents (my aunt's birthday being June 29th and my grandmother's later this month). My aunt loves purple, so I made her a print of a purple iris, and I made my gram a print of a white rose she'd admired earlier in the week when we were going through photos. They both seemed really touched and my aunt told me she'd had a dream the night before where I was seven and in Hawaii with her telling her where she should hang that exact print. It was fascinating to know other people in my family have such peculiar and accurate dreams.

I had missed dinner, but my parents were happy to make me a fabulous plate which included steak (done to a turn), a salad made of lettuce, tomatoes, avocado & gorgonzola, a steaming bowl of squash and zucchini, potato & macaroni salad... and more than a few rum drinks and glasses of wine. I am drooling in memory. We listened to Andrea Boccelli and swooned over his rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" (which I may upload soon for your listening pleasure). So so beautiful.

We had a lovely conversation, then everyone took their drunken selves to bed smiling and happy. It was such a nice evening.

Monday 7/3

In the morning, my parents and I took the dogs hiking in Hartshorne's, which has quickly become my favorite thing to do I think. I really love hiking, and the trails there are just perfect. It had rained overnight and was still a bit overcast, so it was cool for most of the hike. When we got down to the beach we were the only people around, so my dad was able to throw a dummy for Molly to retrieve from the water. She is so cute swimming it's almost unbearable, but she quickly grew tired of it and returned to the beach. For his part, Otto danced around the edge of the water afraid of getting his feet wet, which answered my "Do dachshunds like swimming?" inquiry. I suspect if it were warmer out, he may have been convinced, but as yet, I'm still deprived of the wonder I imagine would be Otto swimming.

As you may have guessed, I made another Flickr set of hiking.

When we returned from hiking, my dad and I got out the power-washer and went to town on my car and my mom's car. My dad was even able to remove the sticker gunge from the parking mishap way back which has been blocking my blind spot for months. When all the washing was finished, he waxed our cars as well. For the record, my dad officially rocks. Also, the Silver Bullet, with new repairs and sparkling clean, has perhaps not looked so good since I first bought her:

Because the universe has a delightful sense of humor, a bird crapped on the side as soon as I walked out to take a photo. I refrained from documenting this event.

We had lunch out on the deck, then my mom gave my gram a tour of the garden. As I accompanied them, I made mental notes and went back through taking photos, which (you guessed right), I put in yet another Flickr set - July Flowers.

In the evening my parents and aunt went out to see the Red Bank fireworks (reportedly the best in years), but I decided to stay home with my gram. Before they'd even left the driveway, we had Pie Time, during which we finished the rest of the key lime pie from the night before. We chatted some and watched a little TV, but we were both nodding off by 9:00, at which point my gram went up to bed and I watched some more TV until my parents got home. I started reading one of my mom's books, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is set in Botswana and is quite a fun read. I am becoming increasingly aware that I absolutelyhave to go to Africa, and soon.

Tuesday, 7/4

Everyone slept in pretty late, and my gram couldn't get over that this was the last day of their vacation. I agreed that the time had certainly flown by, and I did not envy their impending 5am departure the next day (necessitating a 3am wake-up, incidentally).

We puttered around the house most of the morning, then my parents, aunt & I got in a quick afternoon sail. We were hesitant because it was becoming overcast and all the classic predictors of a thunderstorm were moving in fast, but we were able to get it in and we all came away much more relaxed and happy for it.

At some point in my life, I've developed the ability to forecast weather, and I accurately predicted that there would be a mega kick-ass thunderstorm during which all the rain would dump out, followed by sun and a much cooler, pleasant evening. Eric had gotten in from Brooklyn by the time we got back, so I had cheese and crackers with him, my brother & gram while the rain came down in torrents. All the while I irritatingly professed with absolute assurance that the rain would quit in time for us to walk over to the party we were going to, and sure enough, the sun even came out.

My father's cousin Marty and his housemates had an awesome party in Sea Bright, having erected a gianormous tent on their front lawn and set up trays upon trays of lobster, opilio crab clusters, clams, and all other manner of food. There was even a separate tent just for dessert. (You know this is my kind of party right here).

My brother and our friend Chris showed up later and they shared all the ocean disaster stories they knew along with cousin Marty, making for quite traumatizing discussion. The opilio crabs had everyone talking about that show Deadliest Catch, which I cannot watch because I then have nightmares about my brother in similar seas. It was interesting to hear them all talk about how vulnerable they are and how even the highest precautions still offer no real protection against the elements, without a breath of fear or intimidation in their voices. Of course after a point I had to stop listening, since I am absolutely terrified of the ocean and was beginning to feel sea sick just sitting there.

We went down to a viewing gallery they'd set up to watch the fireworks, which were great fun. I stood behind everyone so I could take photos, some of which came out surprisingly good... though I have not yet gone through and edited them, so you will have to fill in for yourself with one of five hundred thousandsimilar images until I do.

We talked a little more in the evening, though Gram & Elise had to get to bed pretty early, as did my brother. My poor dad was put in charge of wakeups, which went something like:

  • 3am - wake Elise & Gram up
  • 4am - get up and say goodbye to Hawaiian Boardmans
  • 4:30am - wake brother up for work
  • 5am - wake self up, go to work

I am convinced my father is some variety of superhuman.

Eric and my mom and I were up very late talking story, and my mom inadvertently taught Eric some new ways of controlling me (such as, when you want your children to behave while running errands, you make ice cream the last stop of the trip - damnit). E headed back to Brooklyn and I crashed out asleep, where I remained until late the next morning when everyone had already left for the airport, work, etc and somehow managed not to wake me even though I was sleeping in the middle of the dining room floor.

Wednesday 7/5

I spent most of the day goofing off on my mom's computer (though not blogging - sorry bout that), watching some junk TV, and eventually reading. I needed some downtime to be alone and unshowered for a while, so it was a nice relaxing afternoon. My brother got home from work and we talked a bit, then my dad got home. He told me how hungry and tired he'd been all day, having only a packet of Oreos to eat and a consequential sugar crash that made him afraid he'd fall asleep driving (which happened last summer and resulted in a horrifying but thank God non-disastrous careening across multiple lanes of traffic and narrow avoidance of a head-on collision with a huge truck).

We both dozed off in the recliners with the Weather Channel on (perhaps this is where I'm obtaining subliminal weather-forecasting abilities?), then got up when my mom came home. I cooked some pretty delicious sausage and peppers for dinner, and even though I snapped at my dad (he always tells me to cut the sausage into thicker slices than I want), we all enjoyed it immensely. It's very nice to be able to cook well.

In the evening I worked with my mom to design some things, which considering she is a professional in this area, was more likely a case of her watching me fumble trying to get at what she knew how to do much better. Either way, she seemed to appreciate whatever "help" I gave, and the finished products look fantastic, so it worked out marvellously.

Thursday 7/6

I was upset when I woke up because I thought I'd missed saying goodbye to my parents, but it turned out my father had not yet left for work and my mother was working from home. I visited with her and Otto, watching a bunch of Wimbledon to high amusement, chatting some, and eventually got up enough motivation to head back to Brooklyn in the afternoon.

I was able to fill my tank at $2.92 a gallon, up from the $2.85 that station featured earlier in the weekend. Sadly, this was a huge thrill for me. The drive home was actually pleasant, though I got caught in the middle of some baffling procession of fire trucks and police cars through Staten Island. They were parking the fire trucks on bridges and overpasses, lights on, unfurling banners and American flags, and as I got closer to the Verrezano I saw more and more groups of firemen and police officers standing by their vehicles soluting the road. I have no idea what that was all about, but in turning on 1010 WINS to find out, I heard about a huge accident that closed off the upper level of the bridge and successfully avoided the massive congestion that was forming as they began barricading it off.

I got home with enough time to visit with Eric and get all fresh and clean to go to the Trash Bar in Williamsburg, where we saw our friend Rob's band play. They were awesome and we ran into a few friends there, which was a blast. We stayed late into the night, as they continued giving free baskets of tater tots, officially making them the best bar I've been to in Brooklyn thusfar.

I put up a whole set of photos from Thursday night as well, with captions explaining some of why I had such a delightful time and spent most of the night laughing my ass off.

After a late-night trip to the Kellogg's Diner (mmm ruben), I concluded that I love all of my friends and family very much and had a spectacularly awesome few days.

Since this is perhaps the longest entry I've written yet (and Eric keeps asking if I'm still blogging), I'm going to cut off here and write about my weekend in a future entry. Basically I went to Ridgefield, Hartford, Boston, then back to Hartford again, saw tons of people, took tons of photos, and had a wonderful wonderful time.

Summer vacation is the best!

(And in case you haven't been clicking through this post - here are the photo sets from last week in approximate order:)

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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