Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In recent years I thought it would be fun to be a columnist, and perhaps not a very hard job. However, I have since learned that it’s a lot harder than I thought. Even though I have no editor to report to or deadline to keep, I still find it difficult to come up with a meaningful topic every week. I believe in “quality” rather than “quantity,” which is why there may be lapses between my blog entries.

Since I haven’t come up with any good ideas of my own to write about, I’ll use one of the writing prompts from a new book I recently acquired called "Old Friend from Far Away (The Practice of Writing Memoir)" by Natalie Goldberg.

“Tell Me About the Best Moment You’ve Experienced”

I know most people would say either their wedding day or the day they had their first child, but for me, it was the day my parents came to visit me in England.

I had lived there nearly two years (since getting married to a Brit) and would soon be moving to another city. For my parents, it was their first time “across the pond.” My sister, who had been to England about ten years previously, was tagging along.

My husband and I booked a room at our favorite hotel near the airport (The Travel Inn) and stayed there the night before since we’d have an early morning picking them up from Gatwick. Although it would have been funny to hold a sign, we didn’t think of it in time, so instead just looked for three bleary-eyed Americans and spotted them in no time at all. Hugs all around before heading to Baggage Retrieval to collect their luggage.

After rounding up their suitcases, it soon became obvious that it was going to take some clever maneuvering to fit them all in our tiny little Nissan, as well as making room for 5 adults. My husband, who has always been good with spatial relations, managed to squeeze us all in, though there was a suitcase wedged between my mom, sister, and I in the back seat. It was far from comfortable for the approximately three hour journey back home, but we all managed.

First thing we did after arriving at our semi-detached home in Gloucester, was go out to lunch. I can’t remember if we walked or drove, but we went to a neighborhood pub so my parents could try some real British food. I think my dad might have had curry, and my sister a jacket (baked) potato with beans. I’m not sure what my mom had. I also remember stopping at the small grocer’s next door to pick up some sweet cherries to snack on later.

Since everyone’s appetites were satiated, there was only one other thing to do, have a kip (nap) for the rest of the afternoon. My husband and I stayed up since we weren’t suffering from the jet lag that the others were.

We stayed in for dinner and I made pasta bake and a salad, proving that I had learned a few useful skills since getting married.

After dinner my sister gave me a belated birthday present she had made for me. It was a little scrapbook featuring the family dog, Comet. It was so sentimental that I just cried – because I missed him so much, and because I was so happy to have my family see me in my new life in this wonderful country.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Miscellanious Thoughts on Photography...

I’ve given many reasons for why I enjoy photography and why I started taking pictures, but perhaps the most obvious reason has never been stated. That reason is because I’m lazy. I’ve been trained as a journalist and as a writer to take down all of life’s details and turn it into an article or a story, something to perhaps educate or entertain people.

Although I still take down the occasional note when I visit places, I’ve gotten lax and found it’s easier just to document something, and then refer to the picture if I want to make any further notes.

Maybe that’s not the right reason to take photos, but it’s just a conclusion I came to recently.

I found this comment (which I thought was interesting) on a website showing some of Julius Shulman’s photos:

Ken Carpenter (ken_carpenter) wrote:
When I read his (Julius Shulman’s) remark about "taking a 1000 photos and then, simply selecting the best, I smiled from ear to ear! I agree that digital is a brilliant concept and, has its place. But to me, photography has become more of an "Exercise in Deletion", rather than a creative art form. When Alfred Steglitz stood for 4 hours in the snow, until the image came to photography!

I sooo agree!

An excerpt from Michael Palin’s New Europe book (pg 125):

“Away from the parade ground there is much letting down of hair. Stalls have appeared under the trees in the centre of town, a Ukranian musical group is playing heart-rending melodies and, as in Chisinau yesterday, it’s the seventy-year-olds who lead the on-street dancing. I watch mesmerized as an old woman reveals a mouthful of monumental gold crowns as she’s twirled round and round by an old man in a suit, who a moment ago had been a lovely figure sitting on a bench.

In the West, all this would be recorded, filmed, photographed. Looking around the crowd here in Tiraspol I can’t, apart from our own, see a single camcorder, mobile phone or digital camera.

They’re just watching.”

Sometimes I feel like I must have ADD, because I often find I can't enjoy going on excursions without taking along my camera and shooting even the most mundane things to keep myself constantly amused. Sometimes I get nervous because I wonder if I'll have time to see everything and document it, instead of just looking around with my own two eyes and just enjoy the moment.

Since the invention of the digital camera and camera phone, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. It's like an addiction I'm not sure I can shake. Of course I don't take a camera everywhere with me, but when I do, I feel so compelled to use it all the time. The only time I don't necessarily care about taking pictures is when I am focused on shopping. Even then, sometimes I'll take the occasional picture if I come across anything unusual that I don't necessarily want to buy.

It would be interesting if they had support groups for this - Photobugs Anonymous. "Hello. My name is -------- and I have a photo addiction."

I probably wouldn't feel so guilty if I could at least make a living off of it, but so far I've only sold two pictures (though not for cash), and mostly just do it for fun, rather than profit. I think if I had to make a living from it, it would probably cease being fun and just be too much hard work.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


If I wasn’t counting calories….

I’d have a big bowl of chocolate Wheetos (found only in the UK as far as I know) for breakfast, a peanut butter (crunchy of course) and jelly (grape) sandwich for lunch, fritoes on the side, and then either a Hostess cupcake or Ho-Ho for dessert, followed by a tall glass of chocolate milk or Hi-C orange drink. I might also have a cup of yogurt and/or an apple (for moistness).

If money were no object…

I would definitely go on more vacations, buy more books, and do a lot more shopping!!! (I’d also have more than one house and neither would be where I am living now!)

If time wasn’t an issue…

I would definitely go on more vacations, and probably accomplish a lot more with my hobbies. I’d probably watch a lot more TV and movies, and maybe read more books. This probably has as much to do with my attention span as it does with how many hours are in a day.

If there were no dress code…

I’d probably wear jeans and hoodies all the time (though I’d probably get sick of them, so I suppose it’s good that I have to dress up for work).

If I weren’t so old…

I’d probably own more stuffed animals (I’m sure my husband thinks I have too many already) and dress younger in more cutesy tops with rainbows and peace symbols on them. I might see the attraction of Hannah Montana and all her cute teen friends. I might stay up later and see what all the fuss is about with late night TV (have taped the occasional program and don’t think any of them are worth staying up for). I might enjoy concerts more. I don’t understand why people try to get up on stage when they’ll only get carried off forcibly, which has got to be more than a little embarrassing.

If I had more time and stamina…

I’d like to drive cross country and take a lot of pictures along the way; maybe try some diner pie.

If there were no consequences…

I’d tell off (and maybe inflict physical violence if I were really upset) everyone who ever offended me or I thought was being rude.

If I knew I only had a year to live…

I would travel to all the places I’ve always wanted to go (maybe for 6 months or so), then maybe spend the last six months relaxing, reading, watching movies/TV with family and friends, and happily eating whatever I like (I hope!).