That's a Wrap

Hi all,

You may have noticed I haven't posted here in awhile. Well, that's because people change and things change, and for me, this blog is the past. There's a tone to the way I discussed things here that no longer comes out in my words. So, with that, I am going to bring the curtain down on the aries. I will leave the blog up as a memory of all the things I wrote about - a lot of extremely important stuff was put in to words here, and I'm glad that a few of you were here with me.

For now, the next part of my journey is being chronicled at a new blog. If you'd like to follow my life, please do. I would like it.

Thanks so much for all of your love and support and discussion through the years.

Near Mono Lake, CA



Initial Thoughts, 1 Week from Home

- There are still no good radio stations.
- People are larger here. Not always overweight; but just, with an extra few layers of padding.
- I am entranced by billboards and signs here that advertise things I forgot happened.
- There is a particular light that hits the clovers at sunset. It's sublime.
- Hank loves grass.
- Hank loves cats (mostly)
- Hank is loved by everyone he meets.



Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite

Yosemite - Bridalveil Falls



Squares, through Circles

I'm getting out of California for a month in July, and I'm calling it a sabbatical. I'll be working somewhere else, where the colors and compositions are different, where the people are different. I need that.

I have no idea what this Summer and Fall will bring. There are changes afoot and everything may turn upside down at any moment.

So, I am throwing myself in to my work. Because I love it, more than I have ever loved doing anything. When I am not doing it, I think about doing it. I want to be the best. I want to know how everything works and how I can use it for myself. I will basically stop at nothing to achieve this.

So, only a few short weeks before I embark on a different journey, I added a new tool to my family whose last name isn't Canon. And, well - that's not the only difference.

Yashica Mat 124-G

It has it's first roll of Portra 400 in it right now, and while I'm sure this first roll will be a complete failure, all I can think about is holding it, carefully metering the light, and watching the looking lens reflect the frame on to the focusing plane. Winding the film to the next exposure. Waiting for it to get developed. Hoping for success.

Kind of like life right now...

The camera is a Yashica Mat 124 G Twin Lens Reflex medium format camera. It is still a staple in medium format (6x6 square image) world. Also, she needs a name. A good name...



Turn, Turn, Turn

About an hour and a half ago, I stood in the empty kitchen of my two friend's apartment a mile from my house. I had just helped them take all the remaining boxes out to their car, where we had spent forever trying to get their giant TV to fit in the backseat among other piles of stuff.

Then, I hugged them both goodbye, told them to call when they got there, and turned toward my car.
Five years ago at this time, we were all euphoric with the excitement of a big move ahead. Saving money. Planning the final two months of our time in Madison before we left everything for California. We had nothing but big dreams and nothing to lose. We had this amazing friendship between the five of us and knew there would be tribulations, but together, we'd get through them and make things happen in this big, new world.

This, is the end of an era.

Despite the great things ahead for my two friends, and how happy I am for them to be moving on, my heart is broken. It feels like part of us is missing.



I am

Daring to be myself. Despite what seems like an entire world going the other way.



Fun with Squares



Suggestions needed.

My hair is long. I have been growing it out since late 2006. Don't let that fool you - it isn't that long. It grows about as fast as Congress passes bills. It is fine but plentiful, and straight, straight straight. It doesn't curl when I want it to, or stay curled when it does.

If you've known me for any amount of time, you remember my signature haircut - the asymmetrical bob. If you don't remember that one, you'll at least remember the plain old bob - the one I had when I was married, and had variations of for a few years prior. When I think about myself in my head, I remember this hair, and it feels like me. When I see myself in memories, I see this hair. Right now, with the looooong hair, I'm feeling a little out of character.

I thought if I grew my hair out, I'd do all sorts of things with it - put it in big updos, leave it down in big, bouncy curls. I would do those things, if my hair wanted to. But it seems that 90% of the time I'm just huffing out of the bathroom pissed off because it won't do anything but sit and lay and be frizzy on the ends and greasy at the top. Am I just not doing something right? Is there a product, a technique I'm missing? Or, is it just not right for me?

Ladies and gentlemen...the time might have arrived. The time where the hair...goes. Back to the bob.

Random Skinnies

Yes or no? Answer the poll at the top of this post...or leave me a comment.



On Being a Keeper

Don't go in my garage. You will likely not come out alive; or, at least, without imagining me as a 70 year old woman surrounded by boxes, cats and crying on television while the authorities tell me that they cannot find my husband underneath the vintage suitcases and extra chairs. Like this one.

It's not that bad - we clean it once a year-ish, throwing away things that no longer matter and organizing the things that do. But, to people who aren't what I am - a Keeper - it will simply look like piles of things -things - that aren't necessary. Things that make the garage messy and keep my guests from getting their own roll of paper towel.

I call myself a keeper, because that other word - the one that illustrates a popular and frustratingly sad television show - has that connotation that makes it seem as if its a bad thing. And that alone - the idea of Keeping being a bad thing - is something that I struggle with daily.
I have a collection, a massive collection, of vintage train cases and suitcases. None of them cost much, maybe $15 at the most, but most of them were found either dumped by someone else (a few weeks ago I found 4 on the side of the road!) or at thrift stores for pennies. I can't explain to you the feeling I get when I'm perusing the shelves at Goodwill and see a rectangular plastic case of goodness poking out from underneath the heaps of black zip-up rolling bags. Who could give this up? I think to myself. Who would throw such a beautiful and aged item in this bin with the likes of these generic, blah blahs? While I'm checking for fatal flaws (mold, major stains, major rust) I'm imagining where it came from . Who did it belong to? Was it bought by a young woman in 1954 for a cross country adventure? A birthday gift? Something bought but left in the closet until someone finally said "let's take this to Goodwill. You don't use it, you never have". You can always tell how beloved it was by how much wear it has.

And then, I bring it home, and store it with the others. In the garage.

There's so many other things, chairs that look beautiful, have character; the sewing table from the 60s given to me; old vintage radios that I found at Urban Ore for $1 a piece (and couldn't resist); pieces of paper and tidbits of things that I imagine drawing or painting on; knicknacks that call to me; and everything I've bought or been given that has, in my opinion, some use, some value, even if that value is simply a plan, an idea, in my long list of those.
Last year I fully battled my shopping mania and have been very, very successful at learning how to restrain myself and redirect myself. While doing that, I also began to understand why I surrounded myself in things, why it wasn't good for me, and that has helped in many ways to keep me from making lots of trips to the thrift store. However, restraining and fixing that part still hasn't killed the Keeper in me. That part is strong and alive.

I had an idea this morning that I should sell a few of my better train cases and suitcases on etsy, since a seller friend of mine has been very successful at getting great money from hers (she started finding them after I showed her mine). Sorrow came over me. What if a photo project comes along that would be PERFECT for the 20s green case?! And I had sold it off to some other girl somewhere else with another collection of her own.
Somewhere in the faces of these old things, these unique things, I find a personality. I find something I relate to, and a way that we can be mutually beneficial. This is fueled by what I call the Personification Complex (or Brave Little Toaster Syndrome) that affects me and so many kids of my age. The personification of anything that exists (lead by shows such as the Brave Little Toaster, The Velveteen Rabbit, anything made by Pixar, etc) To me, these treasures are alive. I am lucky to have found them; they are lucky to be given a home.

(Go ahead, roll your eyes. Call me crazy. But have you ever thrown a stuffed animal in the garbage?)

I sometimes have the sudden need to simplify. Get rid of everything in this house, everything I've kept just because, everything I've bought simply to make this a home, everything I said I'd do something with but then stored instead. Sometimes I imagine a clean office with no stacked canvases, craft papers, magazines and old sewing books, or irregular bathroom tiles. A garage without train cases. Shelves without oodles of 50s and 60s radios, unique owls, busts of Agatha Christie, and glass birds.

But more often than not, my need to simplify comes from the embarrassment I feel when I watch people discuss Hoarders, or even sometimes, me. I don't want to be the person who has piles so high that food and dead cats become rotten in between. I don't want to be dirty, horribly disorganized and unable to function in my home. Ever. I don't think anyone ever does. It's an illness, one that is sad and should be treated as such.

So, when I imagine my train cases, and my things, I feel tension. So much of what I have describes me - not in the way that a Lamborgini or Gucci dress describes someone - but in the way those things are, and the way they work with me. Is it wrong to want to conserve things that have character that others throw away? Is it wrong to collect?

Is there a happy medium between Keepers and Hoarders? Or, are Keepers always destined to be Hoarders in the end?



First, a photo

I'm planning on blogging a little later today with some actual news and words, but before that, here's a photo of Baby C from yesterday. I had a meeting with a client in San Jose, so I could stop by Taylor's house and hang out with them for a bit. Impromptu photo session!

The older she gets, the more fun I have hanging out with the two of them (no offense Taylor, I always love hanging out with you). Now that Carys is well, more or less, a child, she's able to sort of be involved in our activities rather than being a baby and being cute. I mean, she ate a peep with us yesterday. I can tell that the three of us are going to have a LOT of fun over the years.

Baby C



The Eyes Have It

This little guy's face says it all.

I have a lot to blog about, but for some reason, I just don't have words lately.



Nothing Personal

Or at least, you'd think so by looking at this blog. When was the last time I actually posted anything?!

I'm...exhausted. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of change and circumstance, both good and bad. Or at least, both good and trying. Maybe not bad.

They have to do with changes we knew were coming and had started preparing for, though it seems one cannot truly prepare for these things without without still being shocked and depressed when the inevitable finally happens. To everything, there is a season.

Turn, turn...turn.

And so, we'll start this next chapter of our lives, one we've made outlines for, with pencil, of course, erasing and starting again - for awhile. I'm a believer in forced change. I think that "bad things" make for great opportunities to start fresh. I mean, what's the point in looking back? It's over and done. And in this case, no one is at fault. It just, is. And that's that.

I do know one thing. It's amazing to know that regardless of what happens, you have a home - a marriage that is home, that is really, in the end, all you need. I can't wait to venture on this new path with the Drummer.



Weddings: Danielle and BJ

So, I have a photography blog, but I know that a lot of you don't read it, and well, I want to share pictures with everyone, so I am going to post them on both blogs.

This was an almost impromptu wedding (started planning in Dec, got married in Jan) and it took place between both the b&g's parents houses. I knew it would be a lighting challenge/nightmare, and It definitely was. However, those things are character building, and damnit, no light will defeat me! So, here's a little slideshow of the wedding. I think it went wonderfully. It's not your everyday church and hotel kind of shindig!



We Love the Moon

On Saturday night, we had what is called a Wolf Moon - the biggest full moon of the year. I knew nothing about it until I received a text message from Taylor saying that they suggested I take a photo of the moon since it was so beautiful.

David and I were eating dinner out, so when we finished and stepped outside, I finally saw what she was talking about. It was...giant. And yes, very pretty. So, when we returned home to take Hank for his walk, I took my camera and tele lens out to try and do something I've seen so many other people do: photograph the moon.

Here's what I got:

We love the moon

How I did it:
I took this photo on my Canon XSI with a Sigma 70-300mm zoom telephoto lens. I zoomed all the way in, to 300mm (and this final shot is cropped).
ISO: 400
Aperture: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/160

In post production, I brought the exposure down a tad bit to bring out the dark parts, and I evened out the black levels.

If you are out there with a zoom lens similar to the 70-300 (if you can get anywhere from 200mm-400mm) I would suggest trying to photograph the moon. It's pretty simple and quite awesome to capture a shot where you can really investigate the craters.



Come Back Soon, Conan

And all I ask is one thing...and this is...I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch...please do not be cynical.
I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality.
It doesn't lead anywhere.
Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.
But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you. Amazing things will happen. I'm telling you.
It's just true.

-Conan O'Brien, during his final Tonight Show on January 22, 2010

And, quite possibly the only time in my life, past, present and future that I've laughed heartily at Will Ferrel:

Conan was never the comedian for everybody. He never will be. He is, however, the guy for me, and so many of my friends. I was so happy to see him take over the Tonight Show this Summer, but something always seemed off to me. Conan will always be crude, self-deprecating, and the sort of crazy that doesn't always appease the people who watched Jay Leno. I feel like he watered himself down these past 7 months, and he (and we) will be much happier on another network, where he's appreciated for what he is and how he does it.

His final speech last night solidified him in my mind as one of the most grounded and admirable people in show business. Thanks, Conan, for making me laugh like hell for the past week, and sending me off with a teary eye.

Come back soon!



Free Photo Booth Event!


On Saturday, January 30th I'll be throwing a Photo Booth Party at my studio - err, my garage studio. What's a Photo Booth Party? Well, it's when a photographer (me) creates a photo booth - a backdrop, and a box of crazy props - and invites everyone they know, the people who know them, and anyone else out there who want to come and have their photo taken for free.

Come, stand in my photo booth, and take home two digital files of your photos. You can bring anyone or anything - I'll fit as many people, dogs, or props in to your photo as possible. Looking for a photo of yourself and your dog? Of you and your loved one? Yourself? You and your prized cupcakes? Anything is possible!

I'm a new photographer, and my goal is to meet everyone I can out there. Also, I want you and everyone you know to meet me!

There will be snacks, free yard play for the doggies, and did I mention fun props?

I really hope you can make it. The event will happen starting at around 12 p.m and go until around 5 or 6.

Please tell everyone you know!

If anyone has any questions, they should email me at nissanicole AT gmail.com.




Nissa Said,

January 8, 2010 @ 2:41 am

I too have battled with faith, after losing important people. Yet, the more I learned about (Christian) God, the less I believed in him, or at least, the popular belief of what he is. The older I get, more I see and experience, the further I move from believing in any sort of God or deity. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I do believe in science – in the idea that this is all the circle of life. We started as carbon and end as carbon, recycled in to the earth to be reborn as trees, plants, etc.

Where some find comfort in religion and heaven, I find comfort in the fact that we are all part of this ecosystem, that we contribute to the circle of life, and that while were here, life is precious and should be lived to its fullest. We should be kind, generous and make the earth a great place for all who are here. Each person’s life is a lesson to those who exist after. This is the cycle, and it continues.

I do hope that you find some clarity in this time, whether it’s through your old faith or a new one. I think it’s wonderful that you explore other people’s thoughts and feelings to better understand your own.

That's a comment, left by me, in reply to Her Bad Mother's blog post We, Who Need Such Great Mysteries. Please click on that link to read the post if you have time, because it is a fantastic piece that left me thinking for quite awhile. Catherine recently lost her Father tragically, without notice. Her writings since have been devastatingly heart-wrenching. In this piece, Catherine writes of being unable to accept neither that death is the end, nor that death is a return and a reunion with those you love for eternal life. She's searching for the answer, and speaks truthfully about her desperate desire to find faith, to trust it, to know that this, here, is not the end - or not to.

She doesn't know it, but her post couldn't have come at a more opportune time. A year ago today, a friend of mine committed a murder/suicide. Aside from the fact that he and his wife are dead, little else is known of the circumstances in which me made that particular choice. Unfortunately, the things that are known make the grief more complicated. My friend and his wife were in the middle of a separation headed toward divorce. My friend was visiting a psychiatrist to get a handle on his depression and was taking a popular anti-depressant. Aside from our friendship, I also have a cosmic connection with my friend and his wife, as I officiated their small backyard wedding two years ago.

In this year since, I have struggled to find peace. In hoping to cleanse my soul, I explored many faiths, some for the first time, others for the second or beyond. I have always envied the peace that religion gives to some people around me.

I have furiously held on to pain and anger - tremendous anger - over my friend's choices that somewhere in myself I think I felt I needed to share within when I saw him again. I held on to the sorrow, the pain of not being able to know, not being able to help him and her. I was nauseous with regret for enabling their marriage, which at the time seemed so joyous, so true. Still, there was nothing in faith that gave me peace. Though I have tried, numerous times in my life, to give my sorrow and my pain to God, to free myself in his plan, I just...cannot. I have begged to believe. Begged myself. Why do I hold on to this pain, this anger, this frustration, this sadness - if this is the end? Of what use is this strife?

These things ultimately have led me back here. Here is now, because that's what I understand. When I typed that comment to Her Bad Mother, I realized that something in me has changed. I really, truly believe that which I wrote. If I close my eyes and visualize death followed by nothing - by peace - I am flooded with relief. I'll be honest - at first, it shocks me - but if I let it continue, I see the circle of life, our Earth, and the life around us recycling.

That fighting thought that this can't be the end - we're too smart, too wonderful, too connected - it illuminates the true beauty of human life. But for me, it's not because after death, we're all reunited in heaven. We, to those who come after us, are a lesson. Our actions on this earth change everything. Our hands create brilliance (if we let them) and our love moves mountains. Those things cannot be erased once our lives end. Think about it - you are who you are because of other humans - your family, your friends, people you don't know but run in to, the doctor who fixes you, the guy at the grocery store. And it builds as children are born, raised, and passed into the world. Our journey is less selfish than it seems. We are all but a part of a cycle that will continue far beyond our death.

My friend's actions are accountable only to him. I did what was humanely possible. I gave him what I had to give. I cannot change that I didn't know he would commit this horrible act. I also cannot change that he is gone, for his family, his friends, or myself.

I am accountable for my life. There are no excuses. How do I want to be remembered? What will I give my children, and those who come after me? How will I participate in this cycle? These questions sound contrived, but they are so relevant. With this freedom to believe that the end is the end, I'm left beginning to understand that I need to be more selfless in my life journey. This doesn't mean I shouldn't take care of myself, or be successful for myself, but instead it means that I cannot dwell inside fear, anger, pain, or grief. I need to use the resources around me to contribute, however that contribution formulates. To forgive. To allow myself to understand that with time I WILL age, I WILL change, and eventually, I WILL lose those who are important around me. At the end, I will die, and the energy of my life, my successes, my failures, my lessons will circulate those around me. My body will decompose and give life to something new.

With that, I feel great peace.



100 in 1000

As inspired by other photogs out there, here's my 100 in 1000 (goals for 2010 - 2013)

I will probably post these on the blog somewhere to update as I hopefully complete each goal.

And, if you're out there and want to complete your own list - link back!

100 in 1000

100 in 1000




I thought I was going to have a great post to write today, about this past decade, this past year, and how it's related to my life. I've thought about this particular post for the past week and thought it was going to be great.

Then, today came. And I didn't have anything to say.

I think I just realized I want to look forward. I want to leave what's in the past behind me, the good and the bad. Some great things happened - and some terrible things happened. But, that's likely no different than any decade. Every year is filled with the good and bad.

I like the sound of 2010. It's kind of sci-fi sounding, real futuristic-like. And, it's a round number. We can say twenty-ten instead of two thousand ten, which let's be honest, is too long.

So, instead of writing a post that reflects on this past year, this past decade, I'm just going to look forward, and hope that this can be the year, the decade of happiness and success. Of being the person I feel like I am, not always the person I give to the world at large.


1.365 - Hank, watching

1/365 - 1.1.10

Yes, I'm going to try and do Project 365 again this year. :D If it happens, it happens!


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