Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lights, Camera……Oh My……

Sometimes in life we hear things that we don’t like and can take these words very personally and despite our best effort to have tough skin, they hurt. Last night my photographs were critiqued in class and it was absolutely brutal…..brutal… ….especially since I was feeling confident that I had done a decent job for my first assignment. First off, they were projected on a ten foot screen, and my own initial reaction upon seeing them this big was…yuk…..That looks like crap. Therefore, it was no surprise that Jones, my teacher, had nothing nice to say about them either. In fact, probably his lack of words and body reaction certified how unimpressed he was. Now, Jones is a; grey haired, hat wearing, Vietnam Vet, beer drinking, chain smoking, full of life, quick witted, great story teller and a no “B.S” kind of guy – a character straight out of a movie . He reminds me of an old Indiana Jones armed with a camera, instead of a whip. He's been a professional photographer since he has 19 years old, and knows his business. Anyway, I see my errors and I understand exactly what he is talking about, but it hurt my ego nonetheless. The photographs from the other students received similar reactions, and his critiques were spot on, there was not one picture where I thought he was being too harsh, but rather thought it was constructive criticism, but when the critic falls on something you’ve created, it can be hard to remove the rose colored glasses.

As I left class and drove out of the parking lot, I was experiencing a physical reaction that I can best describe as shaken, not stirred….and not the 007 persona of confidence with martini in hand, but as if I was the martini inside that silver cylinder being thrashed up and down, then poured into a glass and swallowed whole. I had to remind myself that I am a student of photography and shouldn’t be so hard on myself and actually try and learn something from this dreadful experience. I mean these were the first pictures I took whereby I actually set my camera on Manual and had to figure out the lighting and composition in relation to my lens and all that jazz…..all this technical stuff to do with a camera gets my mind in a flurry. Jones talks a million miles a minute about f-stops and shutter speeds, in comparison to the distance of the subject , in relation to the light and equivalencies being in multiples and oh my……. I understand it in theory, but need to understand it like I understand the alphabet. So, like any good student, I will be doing a lot of homework this week to engrain these concepts in my mind so that they become second nature to me. I won’t let this brutal experience detour me from doing what I love…it will only make me work harder, learn more and strive to be better. I guess I’ve forgotten what it is like to fail on a test in school….

Saturday, January 26, 2008

To be or not to be

There are days when we feel on top of the world, when everything is aligned and the stars seem to shine just for us. Those days when magic happens, when lighting couldn’t strike us down, when bouncing up and down on the bed seems like a minor expression of how we’ve grown, loved, accomplished, gained, or triumphed.

And some days we feel so low that getting out of bed can feel like a chore. When these days occur, I feel ashamed and guilty, especially when I have so much to be grateful for. You know, I have two hands, two legs, a functional brain and all that – so why, like today, when I am merely sick, my nose red raw, my back aching from coughing and sneezing like I have epilepsy and feeling overly emotional, why, do I feel guilt because I don’t want to get out of bed? I don’t want to have to make breakfast for my daughter, I don’t feel like making her brush her teeth, I don’t feel like drawing pictures, I don’t want to do the dishes, or make the beds -- I just don’t feel like it. But the guilt overwhelms me, so I get up and do it anyway, and cried the entire time, feeling downright sorry for myself. Now I feel guilty that I am crying in front of my kid. I tell myself to toughen up and pull myself together……you’re a mother for god sake; this is your responsibility, your duty.

Being a single mother is no walk in the park, and my hat goes off to all single mothers around the world. Most female animals raise their young alone, with a rare exception of Emperor Penguins, who mate for life and raise their young together. So, my hat goes off to male Emperor Penguins as well. Actually, I think the American Indians had the right idea about rearing their young within the tribe. Everyone had a responsibility to these children and the child was never without guidance or learning something new from someone within their tribe. Maybe the hippies had the right idea by living in communes, except for the drug use. There are many cultures around the world that live in tribes. What has happened to American society that has pushed us so far away from these values, that living amongst our tribe is ‘unacceptable’? Now we are just a bunch of individualized, free thinking, ambitious, rushing to accomplish something, self important society, that we’ve forgotten how to rear our young within a tribe. Or, maybe it’s just big city living that individualizes us. We all live in little boxes, drive little boxes, shop in little boxes and live for ourselves, instead of some structured social hierarchy. Ok, maybe I am just venting a little because today I wish I could lie in my bed and have someone looking after me for a change - without feeling guilty.

As I write these words now, I can’t contain the tears rolling down my face because I am frustrated and…….… lonely. There it is….the “L” word…..Well, sometimes the truth hurts, to my own ears it sounds like fingernails scrapping down a chalk board. I am trying so hard to be independent and seek my own life, and live it the way I want to live it, but for some reason, I hate doing it alone. I don’t think we’re designed to do it alone; we’re designed to be part of a tribe, to share it…..all of it…the good and the bad.

Shakespeare said, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” Well, my answer is……I would rather be, all that I can be and sometimes that’s lonely, frustrated and downright having a bad day, than not to be, anything I am not.

I did eventually pull up my boot straps and get my sorry ass out of bed and took my girl to Venice, which did make me feel better. She got to scooter her buns off, while I sat on the beach and took photos. Actually it was kind of funny, because as she zoomed around on her scooter with the other skater kids, her eyes taking it all in, she said, “mom…… l like Venice. I want to live here.” Maybe she found her tribe!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It’s Raining……Still

It’s been raining for days and the wind is howling like an old wolf. LA is getting a good old fashion wash, and for once in a long while, we get a break from that terrible smog and pollution that we are all so accustomed to.

The last few days I’ve been cooped up inside with a horrible cold, you know the one where your head feels like it could explode, sinuses are stuffy, cant swallow because your throat is so swollen and a constant chill running through your bones…..the kind that really sucks. Today I thought I would have some relief, but after being up all night with my daughter while she complained that her legs hurt, her back hurt, her nose hurt, her head hurt and I think even a pinky finger hurt, just to make sure I knew how ‘badly’ she hurt……. I was bound for yet another day stuck inside, nursing myself and my daughter back to health. Oh where is my own mother when I need her?

By around 1pm, the intense desire to get outside and away from the four walls of my apartment plagued me until we were both bundled up, red noses, tissues and camera in tow, we headed for the PCH. The rain was pouring hard as we drove along the coast, the swells were huge, the ocean grey, sea gulls being thrown about in the angry winds, as we sat warm and cozy blowing our noses raw.

Couldn’t resist stopping and taking a few pictures along the way, like this photograph; it’s really dark and eerie. Too bad the rain spotted my lens on most of the pictures, but at least I got outside today, even if it is raining……still…..

As a little girl I used to hate the rain
Rain put an end to games I'd love to play
Rain meant running off the beach
And spoilt a perfect day
As a little girl the rain was not my friend
Picnics were out no pretty clothes to wear
Rain meant staying In all day
Or ruining my hair

But I guess I'm changing with the years
Cause now I love the rain it clears the air
Making mirrors out of sidewalks
Painting rainbows everywhere

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dreams of Fascination

Cloudy Sky
Originally uploaded by Trisha Conley
“A proper knowledge of life is a key to explain the phenomena of fascination.”

We’ve all thought about the subject of dreams and wondered how come when our heads hit the pillow and we slip into unconsciousness, the picture theatre show starts rolling, the one we’re writing, producing, directing and staring in. Often, like a forgettable movie, we wake up and have no recollection of having seen the show, while on other nights we can be jolted straight out of bed, with perspiration dripping down our face from a nightmare that we’ve been falling off a 100 story building, yet in the morning we can’t remember what startled us, and other times we wake up calmly and immediately remember the entire show vividly.
Dreams are rather interesting because we can’t see pictures this way when we are awake, the only pictures that fill the scene are the ones we take walking around, looking through our eyes. But, when we close our eyes, it’s as if new methods of seeing come into view. Are the images different or the same? Is it imagination or reality? We are exposed to all our senses when we are awake, like today when I woke up and made my morning cup of Joe, I can smell the brewing beans and it sets off ‘pleasure’ sensation inside my body and the sound of the coffee pot percolating, fires up the anticipation to hear the “beep”, which tells me its ready and when the cup finally hits my lips, I can feel the warmth as it travels down my throat and lands in my tummy. Now, if I were dreaming all this, I don’t have all those other senses, or do I?
I don’t dream that often, but if I do, I seldom remember them in the morning, however, the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a reoccurring dream. I don’t ‘feel’ anything physical from my dream, it is only pictures, but because it has occurred several nights in a row, I decided to have a look on the Internet and see if my reoccurring dream has any kind of meaning, other than my own interpretation. I am unsure if I believe in all this dream interpretation stuff, but I am open to question it. Some things are meant to be kept private, so I won’t divulge all the details, just bits and pieces. Scenes from my dream contain; my bed, hands, wetness, eyes, and love. Now I know that sounds very erotic, but I assure you it is not. The following is the Internet’s interpretation of my homemade movie and maybe the plot will thicken.
“To dream that you are in the bedroom signifies aspects of yourself that you keep private. It also represents feelings regarding your intimate relationships. When the main feature of your dream was the beauty of the eyes, the meaning is that you can count on the sincere love of those who matter to you. Hands represent your relationship to those around you and how you connect with the world. Hands serve as a form of communication. Perhaps you need to extend a helping hand to someone. In particular, the left hand symbolizes your graciousness and feminine, receptive qualities. The right hand symbolizes masculine, active attributes. A dream of love suggests intense feelings carried over from a waking relationship. It implies happiness and contentment with what you have and where you are in life. To dream you are wet signifies spirituality.”
Fascinating…..but what does it mean? If my dream hadn’t been a dream and I had actually experienced it in the physical world, it wouldn’t mean anything, other than an experience I just had, but because it’s a dream, this movie – should it have greater meaning and deeper significance?
For some reason, I am reminded of a French movie I once saw, called A Pure Formality, written and directed by Roman Polanski, most of the movie is filmed in one room and Gerard Depardieu, is being held in a police station being interrogated about a murder, it’s a very clever plot because he doesn’t realize that he’s about to confess his own murder, his suicide, and recall all the events that lead up to it. However, once freed from his shame and guilt and the realization that he’s dead and killed himself, the only thing he wants to take with him into the afterlife, are his photographs, his pictures, his memories.
At the end of my life, when I’m a 102, that’s all I want to take with me, my roll of film engrained with every picture I ever took throughout my life – all the beauty I’ve seen through my eyes and dreams, no matter what they mean.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Five Senses

I decided to make some simple changes in my life, and start doing more things that are completely selfish, indulgent, creative, challenging, fun, enjoyable, and interesting, with the purpose that these changes will expand my horizon and force me to break the daily routine of everyday living. This is a challenge for me, as I find it very easy to get into a rhythm and wind up going in circles doing the same stuff over-and-over again, and never looking out beyond the horizon or stepping over the boundaries to see what might be on the other side. One change I made is starting three classes, two photography courses, and a writer’s workshop. I feel like a fish out of water, sitting in a little chair, with a little desk attached, with my little note pad in hand, writing down every word the teacher says as if my life depends on it, in a room with a bunch of strangers. I am so out of my element and that it is a little scary, but also exhilarating. My head is being filled with new ideas and thoughts and I am having trouble keeping it organized, so, if I sound like a scatter brain, it’s because I am a right now, I can feel my brain cells firing up zipping around in there, but this is a good thing, for the moment anyway.

Writing does not come naturally to me, in fact, I have a hard time with it, and last night my class was about writing confessional style and incorporating the five senses: taste, sound, touch, smell, and sight. My task this week; write about something that fascinates me……where do I begin? Hmmmm…....too may fascinating things…I have to ponder this a little more.

Anyway, last night, while I was standing in the elevator, contemplating my own new experiences, and how uncomfortable it feels to be trying new things, I started thinking about how hard it is to be an artist and how isolating it is to be constantly coming up with new methods, mediums, words, or whatever, to communicate to the rest of the world an idea or concept that will hopefully impact a point of view, or change the way we look at the world, or experience life, or make us smile or feel something that maybe we haven’t felt in a long time, while at the same time digging deep into our own backyard and producing something so personal and private. Yet, for most artists, I imagine it is a compulsion and desire so strong, that doing anything else is simply debilitating to their soul.

I find it incredibly brave when people can expose themselves honestly and write about how they really feel or share a private experience, without regard to what someone else might think about the words left on the page, or like when you go to the theatre and see a performer who has exposed themselves so openly, that your left with a scar of shame or embarrassment because you have witnessed something so private and you wish could be that brave and throw yourself out there like that.

Anyway, I am not sure where I am going with all this, except that I wish I could be more like that, learn to expose myself and not be worried about what someone else might think. Maybe the little changes I am making will help me get there and although they may seem like baby steps, these ‘little’ changes are actually ‘big’ leaps in a new direction

This is from a magnet on my fridge - I am adopting it as my new modus operandi:

Live with intention
Walk to the edge
Listen hard
Practice wellness
Play with abandon
Choose with no regret
Continue to learn
Appreciate your friends
Do what you love
Live as if this is all there is

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Started a photography class last Tuesday and have been working hard to keep my head above water with all that technical aspect and really try learn this stuff; f-stops, exposure, filtration, shutter speeds, lighting, composition, etc, etc...My first "assignment" was to pick a theme, take 10 pictures with different lighting and composition, etc. On Tueday my pictures will be shown in front of about 40 students and Jones, my teacher - he says he doesn't have a first name. Yikes. I am really nervous that my pictures are crap, but that doesn't really matter if I actually learn something......

My theme, a red chair and foot traveling through the seasons.........don't ask me how I came up with that one, because I have no idea.........So, I borrowed a red chair from Design Within Reach and my cousin, Zoe's foot and traveled around LA finding different locations to show the different seasons. A little bit if a challenge, since LA has only 'one' season, but, I pulled it off in 2 days...not too bad. I'll keep you posted on how it goes on Tuesday.

Other than that, I think I have found a place to live for a while...more on that once I know more...

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Today I took my eight year-old daughter to the Geffen Museum of Contemporary Art to see an exhibition by a Japanese Artist named, Murakami. He does Japanese pop art, sculptures, and videos, which are completely intriguing for kids and adults. However, in particular there were two sculptures titled, Milk and Cream. A man and woman, naked holding there private parts, excreting, well…milk and cream. My daughter immediately started laughing, as kids do and said, “Mom, I understand my She’s called milk, but why is He called cream? Shouldn’t he be called Pee, but why is it white?” Well….my heart skipped a beat in a state of slight panic and bewilderment, thinking quickly on my feet, I said, “look over here at this cool painting honey…isn’t this one great….look how cute this is.” However, I could still see my daughters face deep in thought, wonderment, and curiosity trying to solve this riddle of the ‘cream’. As we continued to walk through the exhibition, she asked me several more times about it, and as before, I used the method of distraction. I know my child well enough to know that she is going to ask me about it later and now I am distracted trying to conceive of ways to answer her innocent question.

We then enter the video exhibition and see an animated cartoon in Japanese which is about POO……OH MY. For anyone who knows my daughter, they know she has a fascination with POO and PEE. She laughed louder and harder than anyone did. I thought to myself, well thank goodness, I am probably off the hook now and she will forget about the sculpture. I try never to lie to my child about anything, even the tough questions our innocent little beauties ask. When she asked me if I was Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, I always ask her what she thinks and if she is convinced, I say, “well…. there is your answer honey.” When she asked me how babies are made, I came up with a very expectable answer, which did not involve any graphic details, but was not a lie. I don’t believe in lying to my child because one day she’s going to find out the truth and she’ll never believe a thing I say ever again. This would crush me…so; I do not lie to her. Nevertheless, I am praying she does not ask me about this sculpture, because I still haven’t conjured up an acceptable answer, without lying….

True to form, at the end of the exhibition, she tells me her favorite display was the video about POO……no surprise there…... and….. Milk and Cream. My heart does another leap…Oh please…..don’t ask me. Mind you, I can’t help smiling the entire time, because I can see her innocent mind working overtime trying to figure it out for herself. Then to my utter delight, she says to me, “Mom…I figured out why he’s called cream. He drank her milk and his Pee turned white.” I smiled, and told her how smart she was for figuring that out! I laughed and smiled all the way back to the car and am giggling right now…I got a live one! Glad she figured that out!

You can have a look at Milk and Cream for yourself at this website!

Tonight as I lay next to her, I could feel her staring at me, she reached over and took my hand in hers and said, “I love you more than anything in the entire world mommy.” My heart exploded and as we lay there together, I cannot help but think how I am her entire world. I am her everything. What a responsibility I have. To teach her to be her own person, to guide her to find her own beliefs, show her the difference between right and wrong, shield her from hate and sorrow, to show her the beauty in the world, protect her, keep her safe, love her..….and the list could go on all night long….these thoughts fill me with wonderment, joy, fear, doubt and hope… that I do a good job.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Wishing Fairies

Wishing Fairies
When I was a little girl, my mother told me that if you blew on these little fairies and made a wish, that your wish would come true. I always believed everything my mother said, 'when I was little'.........nonetheless, whenever I see one of these I will usually pick it, blow and make a wish. I made a wish yesterday on this little fairy. Wishing is something we should all do from time-to-time, but as I've grown older and hopefully wiser, I realize that I am the only one who can make my wishes come true.
As my new life unfolds, I feel as though I am standing on a game board at START! Now, I am rolling the dice and will move forward in leaps! Well, if I fall down the ladder now and again...I'll just roll again and get back up.
After all, life is a game right?
In this New Year, I am slowly making progress on my wishes and growing my wings. I shopping for a house. I am going to be very picky about this house, as it will become a home where all creative souls are welcome, a sanctuary, a place that will be all mine, a place to create my new life. Key elements to my new pad will be; Big open kitchen that opens up to a magical yard, art-room, fire place, high ceilings, close to shops and the beach. So, cross your fingers that it's out there and I can afford it! I have enrolled in 2 classes - a photography class and a writing workshop. I start on Tuesday! I am excited about both of these classes, as I haven't attended a school in probably 20-years.....
This year I have decided that my life will be a journey of learning, creating, travel, happiness, love and independence.
I will not go where the path may lead.
I will go where there is no path and leave a trail!