Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And to All a Good Night

This is Meredith, who I was telling you about, with her latte at Cafe Driade today. She's as amazing as she always was. Oh, and, she made me a sweatshirt for my iPod. She's so DIY.

Although the forecast predicted rain for the entirety of my visit home, this is what the sky delivered instead:

This is my mom on her new horse, Tweed. Tweed is blind in one eye.

This is one of our sheep in the pond pasture, watching me with staid curiosity.


I want to wish everyone a very peaceful night and merry Christmas tomorrow, if that's what you're celebrating. Everyone I know is flooding my mind tonight. My friends in Boston, in North Carolina, my friends across this country and in various places around the world, my family here in Hillsborough, my family farther away... those I haven't spoken to, for reasons intentional or otherwise... you are close to my heart, and I'm thinking of you even if you don't know it. I am an insanely lucky girl, and I thank you for being in my life in whatever way you are. Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Familiar Landscapes

The perils of global warming aside, North Carolina is wonderfully warm and damp.

These are of no use to me here, but they look awfully pretty when taken by my new camera.

One of the first requirements upon returning home is going up the road to Underwood's gas-and-grocery for glass-bottle Cokes.

Inside are such gems as decades-old hair pomade and cheap American cigarettes, overalls in all sizes and work boots, rotting vegetables and dusty plastic bottles of soft drink.

The sun came out for real late in the day.

Here's my house at twilight.

And my typical posture since I got home:


Tomorrow I get to see Meredith, my best friend from high school who also went to Oberlin, and soak in some coffee shop culture and trade kid stories; hers from classrooms in New Orleans, mine from a portrait studio in Chestnut Hill, MA.

And isn't it funny how when you're home, you can be at some party of your parents' friends, way, way out in the country, the opposite direction of anyone you know, and among the handful of guests is a person very close to the one person - the one person - you want to avoid? You can feel these things before they happen, so you deal with it better as you get older. It becomes less of a big deal, but it still makes your heart plummet.

More to come from me and my camera during this week home, once the novelty of long naps and staring into space wears off.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Veering from the 9-to-5 is disorienting and strange. Didn't get enough sleep 'cause you were tossing and turning fretting about angry clients and disastrous sittings at the studio? Sleep til 10, even though you have a day's worth of things to accomplish! Don't have to be at work 'til 5? By all means, why not blog?

Really I just wanted to post a few pictures from my "When I Grow Up" party last Saturday. It was a revival of my Pun Party last year, 10 days after I'd moved into the South End. Once again we roasted a turkey from CS, and fired up the yummy pies from Pie in the Sky. This year, the theme was futuristic; what did you want to be when you grew up? What do you want to be when you "grow up"? Kim's graduating grad school in minutes, and I'm sticking a toe (but a big toe) in the photography world, so we figured we better get on it.

The Village People: A construction worker, the head of the Christian Coalition, a pro photog, and an OB-GYN.

Mel readies the stuffed mushrooms.

Oh, and we didn't want to hoard all the cuteness - here's a photo of Zoe, who we kitten-sat for a day while her home was being exterminated for mice. I know, she's not that intimidating, even for a mouse, I guess.

I leave for NC tomorrow after a long day at the studio. Merry merry, everyone.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Slapstick Always Wins

Tonight at work one of the other photographers was teasing me because she overheard me proclaiming ecstaticly to a three-year-old during a sitting, "You LOVE benches!"

We say and do some pretty idiodic things to get the kids to smile. Today, for example, the kid in question was a little, ah, scattered; he was happy to roll on the floor with his shirt over his head, but when it came to sitting still and god forbid smiling in my direction, things were a little more overwhelming for him. Hence the bench idea. I said, in my oh-my-gosh-this-is-going-to-be-so-cool voice, "Hey Jack... do you want to sit on a bench?" And the vocal tone worked, because his eyes got really big and a smile crept on his face and he clapped his hands as I brought the bench onto the canvass. "Yeah!" I cried, "You LOVE benches!"

I had this other one tonight, a gorgeous but painfully shy, bury-your-face-in-mommy's-chest 3-year-old, who I couldn't seem to pry loose long enough to sit on the canvass alone. Gradually I worked my way up from tickling him with our favorite feathered "tickle stick" (a phrase so embarrassing I can't bring myself to say it outloud when the fathers are present, and have finally started calling the feather duster a "tickle monster"), to rolling a ball back and forth (all the while shooting madly, you understand), to, finally, the kicker - banging the ball on my own head as though it were attacking me. He thought this was a riot. If I were allowed to use the images I take, I'd show you the ones of him giggling hysterically, his hands adorably clasped against his cheek. Parents love these photos.

Yesterday, while humiliating myself in similar fashion for an 18-month-old with the old Christmas-ornament-to-the-head routine, I caught myself saying, outloud, "boinky-boinky-boink!" No one but me noticed my immediate flush to the cheeks and clearing of the throat. I wanted to say, "Alright, Junior, seriously, let's get ahold of ourselves. And close your mouth, you look like an idiot."

I'm exhausted. I'm going to return to the adult world now with some rented episodes of Sex and the City.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All Things Bright and Photographic

Variations on Matt with Cup of Coffee

(The lighting in the second one is from the neon sign outside.)

If you're like me, then you methodically check all the blogs you read at once each day, checking for updates and new stories, photos, and adventures. So, two weeks for mine is pretty much the outside window of time I can justify going without posting for my loyal few. Even if all I can give you, really, is crumbs for the birds.

So, here's what:

I left the nonprofit where I worked. Some denial is still in play, I think, because despite how insane it was for the past two months since I gave notice, and the awkward fit of the job for me in the first place, and how ready I am to make this career shift... I still feel like I could go into the office and see everyone any old time I want. The people who work there have been a big, loud, wonderful family to me for the past year, making Boston more "home" than it had ever been, and I can't imagine saying goodbye to them all forever. But they tell me you never really leave CS... you just become a volunteer.

So time now is largely spent at the portriat studio, where I chase children and squeal like a crazy person to get them to look up at me, where I get sneezed and drooled on by babies and overshadowed by parents standing over me calling for the kid's attention. It's insane. But as I get more comfortable and build something of a repor with each family that comes in, I'm learning how to extract something creative and different out of each kid, and just recently have started getting personal requests. People ask for my card, and when they call in for another appointment they ask for me to be their photographer. It's great for my ego.

Yesterday I met with an awesome professional photographer who may have me assist her with some of her upcoming wedding gigs. This means I'll be loading her Hasselblad camera backs, carrying equipment, taking light readings and generally following her around for instruction. I can't wait. She has a big dusty light-filled studio in South Boston, and I get the feeling she's the nurturing type - someone who can introduce me to other photographers, lend me equipment and studio space, instruct me on my work. I have a couple of other contacts to follow up on as well.

Oh, and... the reward for saving off tiny paychecks and putting away money from photo gigs and the studio for the past many months will be trading in my Olympus Evolt-500, a dandy little camera that has served me so well for the past 9 months, in exchange for a Canon 30D, just a little more beefed-up and respectable for me to start calling myself a legitimate event photographer.

And I'm going home to NC for a solid week over Christmas.

Thanks to my friends who are helping me solidify my role in the following exchange:

Random Person: So what do you do?

Jessie: Oh, I just started working in a portrait studio, yeah, it's mostly kids, it's kind of retail-y, but I'm trying to get a foot in--


Random Person: So what do you do?

Jessie: Well I used to work at a nonprofit, but I'm trying to be a photographer, so I'm ya know freelancing a little and working in a portrait--


RP: So what do you do?

JGK: I'm... a... photographer.

[Once more, with feeling.]

JGK: I'm a photographer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And You Would Know.

Last night was luxury.

I got off work at 5, went shopping and bought a couple exciting things, met Melissa for dinner at a restaurant where we got the full gamut of appetizer, entrees, dessert, wine. Afterwards, having no responsibility except to be at work at 9 the next morning, we picked up more wine and headed back to my house, where Kim and Jen joined us in the celebration of the fact that it was a normal Tuesday in Boston, that we were grown-ups with no one telling us to go to bed or not to drink or to clean our rooms. We listened to music, I wailed on my guitar, and then we climbed out onto the roof to enjoy the mild weather and beautiful night. It had been so long since I've had a night like that.

From the roof we could see a man was working in this dim light of his computer through a window, and after a little while of our standing around chatting to each other, he came out onto his porch. He said, "Excuse me, my son is sleeping upstairs, could you please lower your voices?"

I apologized immediately and told him we'd speak more softly. I'm very sensitive to noise myself and I felt pretty bad; the last thing I wanted to do was be inconsiderate -- and who wants to offend one's neighbors? But then, perhaps working up his nerve, he said: "And I've been meaning to ask if you can take that orange... thing inside? It's starting to look like a trailor park over there."

By "orange thing", he meant the folding lawn chair that has been, admittedly, sitting sideways on our roof for months. We've been meaning to let it dry and take it inside, but whenever we think to do it, it's raining. (Also, we call the roof "the veranda", because you actually crawl out onto it from our living room window. But it is, in reality, someone's roof.)

Maybe this guy grew up in a trailor park somewhere, and he was using the comparison an ironic, bemused manner. Maybe he's so bruised by his childhood in a trailor home, and so glad to be free of it, that it pains him to see a lawn chair marring his view.

But as he stood there on the balcony of his multi-story South End home, sympathy was hard to come by. We were all rather dumbfounded, at least enough so that we only came up with appropriate responses once we were back inside.

Like, "And would you mind taking in that thousand-dollar grill and the exotic potted trees for the winter? It's starting to look like a pied-a-terre over there."

Okay, so maybe I'm still working on the witty response.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Of Mice and Me/Words of Thanks

The links to my old entries and archives haven't been working right ever since I changed my template. I figured out that if I republish them entry by entry, the kink irons out, but it may take a while.

The whole way back to Boston from New York tonight, having splurged on Amtrak for this one-night, whirlwind trip rather than my usual Fung-Wah bus jaunt, I read a manuscript of my great-grandmother Lillian's diary, which my great-uncle Mark had typed up, bound, and copied for the whole family and passed out at Thanksgiving dinner this year. Written mostly in 1918 and 1919, while her sweetheart (my great-grandfather from Russia) was on a prolonged business trip in Japan, it describes her life waiting for his return and his proposal. She loved the phrase, "Good night!" as an exclamation, and referred to disappointments as "the fly in the ointment." She sounds just as moody as I am, and I can't wait to read the rest.

I arrived to a dark apartment and the scuttling sounds of a mouse in the the Have-a-Hart trap. A new family of them just moved in, so we reloaded the traps with peanut butter, and sure enough in my absence I caught one of the kids. I took it down to a park across the street and it was gone in a flash. Not five minutes after I'd come back up and reset the trap, snap! We got Momma Mouse. Since I don't, quite figuratively, have-the-hart to break their little necks or poison them and let them die somewhere in my walls, there are lots of trips up and down the crooked staircase to let them go. Some of my friends say they're just going to come right back in, but I've never heard confirmed that mice are smart in that canine way. Anyway, I wish I could convince them not to make themselves quite so at home here. I know Boston rents are ridiculous and the winters are harsh, but... sheesh. I thought I was through with this.

The end is in sight to all this workaholism of the last two months, and it won't be a second too soon. I'm approaching temper-tantrum-tired. No good for anyone.

Here's the view from my aunt and uncle's apartment where we have Thanksgiving dinner every year.

...And here's the view on the inside. Thirty-two of us made it this year.

And I'm going to get in big trouble for posting this picture before printing it out and sending it around to the fam. Be patient, guys... I'll get it to you.

The evening entailed shock upon seeing cousins whose growing-up renders them almost unrecognizable to me from year to year, noisy conversations, remembering the breakdowns of how we're all related, and a little grub.

And now I must crawl in bed and leave the mice to their own brains and devices, 'cause no one's getting a lift to the park across the street until morning. Then it's off to the studio with me. I better brace myself for all the extended families bound to come in tomorrow to have their portraits taken, and arm myself with the patience of a monk.

In closing... wide-screen 20" monitor, the ability to earn and save my own money to afford such expenses, the mobility of getting myself to New York and back without incident, the energy and health to do so, that my immediate family was able to meet me there, that my extended family has been merrily carrying out the tradition for my whole life and longer, my apartment and all its squalor and funkiness, my red clawfoot tub, the five-minute walk between here and Back Bay Station, diaries from people I never got to meet, a mild Fall, so many friends it wears down my phone battery trying to catch up with them all, cell phones, tall leather boots, that public transportation exists, my flannel sheets, a good night's sleep... and finally, my own currently tired, often frivolous, photo-obsessed, pretty normal but sometimes wild and ambling mind. Never a thing to take for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Brief Pie-atus

This is what I'm spending all my time on right now, in addition to the studio on weekends. And yes, I know I'm punny.

Catch ya after the day of thanks!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver, Weave Me a Dream

At least let me build a damn frameset. For the love of God.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Home, As It Were

Just wanted to share some photos from the farm that my sister sent... look at those amazing things she made to eat! A New England fall is just fine, but I miss NC this time of year so much it hurts...

Below is Sensitive New Age Cat, or SNAC. He has a better life since the dumpsters of Oberlin.

Believe it or not, this is how Buddy smiles. I know it sort of looks like he's about to kill you.

Thanks for the pictures, Mandy. I wish I was there to taste your home-cookin'.