Friday, September 26, 2014

As we all spread ourselves thinner on social media, I'm finding I'm increasingly forgetting to share my work here. The writing and photography and filming are all interconnected, yet they all have their own separate sites, and I'm thinking I need to do some serious culling down of the landing pages. In the meantime, this is my latest music video for Archer Records, "Rabbit" by Amy Lavere, starring the lovely Harlow Sweazy.

1-240 Construction BINGO!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wherein I detail the highs and lows of navigating the nightmare that is interstate/highway construction at the I-40/240 junction and how the existence of the Zipper Method may have broken my brain. 
In bingo format.

From the photographer at your party

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The two sisters were dancing at the anniversary party. You couldn't help but notice them as they were the only two people dancing in the crowd of seated, largely silver-haired set. I put them in their late forties early fifties, their faces lit up with giddy smiles. Catnip to the lady with the camera.  I snapped a few candids of them dancing, and then approached them with my camera and asked to take their portraits. Their smiles vanished. The older sister said no. No? I repeated. I was confused as she had stopped me not twenty minutes earlier to ask me to photograph her sister. Here they were together. It was the 50th anniversary party for a lovely couple, and it was my job to document the festivities.  The husband had wandered by earlier and looked at me, a bit dazed. "So many people to try and talk to," he mumbled as he passed by. "Not enough time to see them all."

I knew how important it was to the hosts to make sure I capture as many people there as possible. These women were family. So I tried again.

No, the other sister said. My wattle. She pointed to her neck. My hair, the other one said. I look awful. 

And so it was all night. Several generations of women trying to make themselves invisible when I approached, trying to hide body parts they found hideous, calling out to me that their stomachs were too fat, they weren't wearing enough makeup.

I ultimately begged the sisters for a photo. They reluctantly complied. 

I came home from the party sad and deflated, and I wrote a letter. I'm reposting it here.

Dear women,

Please stop telling me you are too ugly to be photographed. Please stop glaring at me when I approach you with my camera so that I can document you at your friend's celebration. Or trot out the standard "You brought the lens that's going to make me look less fat/hideous/jowly, right? - your laundry list of self-hatred that you will say out loud as if to beat me to the punch. I'm sorry I got a little angry at you last night when you told me not to take your picture because of your "wattle" because I hear this every. single. time. And you are hurting my heart. You are at this party because you are loved, because you were deemed important and necessary to make this celebration happen. And I get it - I DO. I'm a woman. I've been told that we are all beautiful and then shown - repeatedly - that beauty is a narrowly defined, specific set of traits helpfully detailed on the cover of magazines and in our media. I flinch if a camera phone comes my way and I wasn't ready with my mask of concealer and mascara. But if I always flinched, if I always gave into that desire to hide my face, I would not exist in photographs with my children. The bride, your father, those friends who chose YOU to celebrate a major milestone in their lives will not be able to look back at those photographs when the memories of that night are all fuzzy and see you celebrating with them. I don't have answers. I don't expect to break hundreds of years of biology and aesthetics and shame with a post on Facebook. But take it from the photographer - there's a tiny fraction of the population who are paid to be photographed. The rest of us? We're just here for the party. Don't be afraid to show us you were here. 


the photographer.


The Department of Signs Teaser Trailer

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The teaser trailer is live! 100% guaranteed teasing.

DEPT. OF SIGNS AND MAGICAL INTERVENTION TRAILER from oddly buoyant productions on Vimeo.

The Baby Psychopath Test

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On days that are challenging with D, I try to take a breath before issuing another time out, to try and make a joke instead of glaring him into submission, to patiently redirect him instead of defaulting to a shouting match. You know, to be more mom and less Vince McMahon negotiating his WWE contract.

On days that I've screamed at my son for the 30th time before breakfast to not hit the dog in the face with Mr. Owl, to not run away while I'm trying to wrestle him into diapers/socks/shirts/shorts/pajamas, to not punch his sister/me/father/cereal, to not eat the battery/quarter/entirebananawhole, to not destroy the bill/artwork/receipt/vip paperwork that was supposed to be stacked in the one place he can't reach, to not rip/empty/destroy/inadvertently open the portal to hell out of pure, undiluted rage, I work on my agent query letter for The Baby Psychopath Test and revise some of the entries.


1. When you greet your child in the morning and lay him/her down on the changing table, your baby:

A) Gives you a playful smile. You are their world. 

B) Gives you a playful smile before punching you in the mouth. You were blocking their view of the overhead fan. Bonus points if they simultaneously kicked the diaper cream out of your hand with their (club)foot

C) Coos

2. It's breakfast time. He or she:

A) Beckons, points, signs or states that he/she would like food.

B) Grabs the refrigerator handles and trembles with Hulk-like rage as they have yet to possess the Hulk-strength to open them. They scream at you to open the door. Scream at you when you do open the door.  Scream at the unfairness of not being tall enough to reach the milk. Scream that the milk has not been placed into a cup and into their hand .08 seconds after they demanded.  And continue screaming.

C) Has fed themselves. They have to get back to their infant SAT prep. 

3. Lights out. It's bedtime. Your baby:

A) Goes to sleep.

B) Cries, stalls like a motherf*cker, but goes to sleep.

C) Goes to sleep. Then wakes back up and laughs manically at the ceiling for two hours straight, causing you to lurk outside their door with your smartphone trying to record audio. They stop laughing every time you hit record, because in addition to being in league with the devil, they generally just enjoy f*ing with you.  You regroup, looking through the baby monitor, scanning for the dead relative hovering over your baby's crib, cracking your baby's shit up. They finally go to sleep around midnight. Naturally they are up at 5:45 AM.

4)Your child hits your sister/mother/glass cabinet/dog/refrigerator/front door again, and when picked up and scolded, he or she:

A) Cries and apologizes. Even though the other guy deserved it.

B) Headbutts whoever was stupid enough to pick them up. I mean, did you not just see them punch a CABINET because they thought it was giving them attitude? They live with cretins.

C) Coos. En Espagnol.

5) You google "baby psychopath" and finding nothing, write a quiz based on your actual interactions. You are:

A) Ambivalent about putting this on the internet. Another quiz suggested he might just be a three year old boy. And he's totally sweet when not tearing apart the house with his bare hands.

B) Posting this shit. Because he might actually be the youngest candidate for boarding school in history, and who are you to stand in the way of your child getting a Guinness World record? Or moving to Latvia?

C) Cooing. 

He is 3

Monday, April 14, 2014

And today you are three. It seems just like yesterday that people would ask how old you were, and we would answer, quickly followed by, "and one day he will be four," because we clung to the notion that once we cleared the twos, the terrible, terrible, twos, followed by what parents of a second child know, that three is much, much worse, that one day you would be four.

But now you are three. It's kind of a relief as this was just yesterday.

So two years old ago.

Three. No more tantrums. Complete sentences. Pooping on the potty. Unicorns. It's gonna be epic.

In the meantime, there is Mr. Owl, Murphy your dog/snuggle buddy, a fascination with trucks and earth-moving equipment so intense it's borderline disturbing, daily dance-offs, and a sweet, goofy charm that goes a long way to offsetting those awesome meltdowns. Which aren't going to happen anymore because you are three.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I don't remember what the tears were about. There was an art project, a misspelled word or wrong color choice that had "RUINED THE ENTIRE THING!!!" Or maybe it was her trying to play the melody she had just learned on the piano by ear and it wasn't flowing instantly, perfect. There was mom's assurances that it was just FINE. She just needed to try. And try some more. She was given praise for trying, not, heaven forbid, because she was good or gifted, because if you read the internet these days, we are failing as a nation by telling our children that they are special and have god-given talent. Experts point to studies and depressed adult children who can't get out of their own way, waiting for their dreams to come true from all this magical, sparkly inherent talent while their Chinese counterparts are taking over the economic world through the simple act trying. So I praised her effort and ran upstairs, unnerved by the frustrated screams and tears and she tracked me down minutes later, bearing an index card with a drawing of an angry face, sad slash of a mouth, and these words:

I failed.

It is so hard not to project a 38 year old's lifetime of insecurity and perfectionism and doubt onto this sweet, sad now seven (seven!) year old soul, but my heart sank at these words. Because I wear that little index card like a badge pinned to my chest everyday. Most of my twenties spent on a therapist's couch, reeling with first world guilt over being so fortunate and yet always so paralyzed with indecision and fear. And now this same anxiety expressing itself so fully in someone so tiny and new. So I immediately launched into a laundry list of all the things I had failed at, because I thought it might be helpful for comparison's sake for her to see her mother as the deeply flawed person she is, but as I was reeling off the list: my stained manila enveloped packed with rejection letters from publishing houses, smelly laundry, my inability to finish anything, we both knew it was bullshit. I drive the car and keep the schedule and the passwords to the internet. Mom might be a bit fragile in her soul, but she can hear a tune on the radio and transfer it onto the keyboard in under 60 seconds because I've just got that many more years on my would-be piano prodigy seven year old. I've just lived, and while I tell her this, it does nothing to curb her self-disgust at not mastering a melody in seconds.

But then just a few weeks ago, she was asked to audition for a cabaret in a local production that would be featuring children and adults alike. She didn't have time or the foreshadowing to be afraid. She just did it. And she was cast! Now that she has taken that stage in the empty auditorium in front of the strange, friendly judges, she has been marveled over by all the adults in her life, told how brave she was, how it took such courage to do what she did, when I'm not even sure it occurred to her that she was supposed to be afraid. I can't help but assume that if and when she dares to step onto another stage and take such a risk, she will now be doing so with the very real knowledge that she can fail. That failure is eminent. But my hope is that even though she will likely be dogged by that specter her entire life, she won't be the angry face on the index card, but will continue to try, plinking out one note at a time.