So much for free time.
Maybe it will have the decency not to be released until after all of the festivals I'm attending are over.
So much for free time.
Maybe it will have the decency not to be released until after all of the festivals I'm attending are over.
I get strange looks when I tell people I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Seattle, WA. Most even ask "Why?" Well friends, this is the reason. I am useless in the heat.
I might however change my mind if a pint of ice cream magically appeared before me...
After food we walked over to check out Atomic Boys. It's a neat little store, not just candy, but some Archie McPhee-type stuff, cards, old school magic tricks I used to buy at Seaport Village (What? That's an inadequate point of reference?), and just cool retro kind of stuff. You should check it out if you're in the area. Jer and I each picked out a few pieces of "candy" -- I bought a chocolate nut cluster and a peanut butter mountain and Jer got a Sky Bar and an Abba-Zabba. Then we walked over to Safeway, bought a couple of sodas, then sat on a Hiawatha Park bench and ate our candy loot. I felt like a rebellious little kid, spoiling my dinner, but actually I was only spoiling the Bloody Mary I had with brunch.
Later we made 42 note cards and at 6pm we went to Discovery Park to test out the new lens. My photos turned out mediocre, I think, but maybe I'll be able to do something with them in Photoshop. The sun was in the wrong place rendering my Polarizer useless. Mount Rainier was out though, so I think one of those pictures will turn up in the photoblog. But hey, we certainly got our exercise traipsing out to the lighthouse and back...
Last but not least, we debated about dinner for awhile and ended up on the deck of Madame K's in Ballard. (The GPS is worth its weight in gold, I say.) The restaurant's gimmick is its faux-brothel atmosphere, but the pizza was deep-dish and tasty, the beer was cold, and the deck was relaxing. Not a bad end to a good day.
If you're not a reader of the West Seattle Blog, the sunrise photo I posted yesterday was used to introduce our hot weekend. You can see the article here, if you have any interest.
If you also read the photoblog please act surprised when you see it there later. I just couldn't resist sharing ahead of time.
I'm struggling with some minor, silly things I won't remember in a year and I need to just go post a photo to the photoblog already. Maybe go to bed early. The usual.
Tomorrow is Friday and I've promised Jer I'll play Diablo 2 with him in exchange for going anywhere I want to shoot on Saturday. We're all about the bartering.
Still working my way through the collected works of Haruki Murakami. Putting me in the mood for some Milan Kundera, but really next I should read the set of Fitzgerald I received for Christmas since I've never read any Fitzgerald and I've read Kundera.
I could use a vacation. Maybe one with rum drinks.
The rear door will be a welcome shortcut through the back of the booth -- the last 2 shows would have benefited greatly from this during setup and tear-down. And the French wall is to sit behind. I want my booth to have a gallery feel, and it's hard to feel like you're in a gallery when the photographer and her husband are staring at you from the corner.
I am also making changes to my product line including lowering prices on matted prints to be more in line with my fellow artists. (If you've bought a matted print before now, please let me know and I'll send you a discount on a future purchase.) Otherwise, if you've been holding out, the next fair will be a great place to buy. I won't be lowering the prices again. Absolutely and positively I won't. If anything, they will go up.
I hope to get out and shoot this weekend. It's been a whole month since the Japanese Garden and Snoqualmie Falls. Plus I've got this new lens to try out...
Abruptly changing gears.
There are certain things in my life I do try to keep private on this blog -- especially regarding other people. It is not my place to share what shouldn't be shared. But I also don't want to pretend it didn't happen. So with respect, and because it is very big issue overall, I will tell you this thing.
We received word that a cousin, who is a Marine serving in the Middle East, was seriously injured on Monday. He is a young man who is very special to his family and we are glad he is alive, but there is no way to repay what he has sacrificed.
I like to think there are reasons for everything in this universe but I see very little reason in things like roadside bombs and shrapnel.
I don't know about you, but I am ready for the war to end.
There is bad news in the air.
The fair went well. I have ideas on how to improve for next time. But it can wait. Because now I am going to sleep.
After we got done at 9pm, Jer and I stopped for breakfast dinner at the Hurricane. Then we came home, I settled the credit card machine transactions, and passed out.
Also, thanks to danf, Heather, Andrew, and John for visiting me out there! It was great to see some familiar faces in the crowd.
Fremont Fair hours are 11am to 7pm today if you're looking for something to do. It's a big event -- we have a caricature artist on our right and a soap maker on our left. Truly something for everyone.
Right now it's a bit before 6am. Time to shower, pack the product into the car, and make it all pretty. The fair goes until 8pm tonight, so I won't be home until probably 9 or 9:30. Wish me luck!
If you do end up looking for On Focus Photo at the fair, I should be on N 34th Street, mid-way between Evanston and Phinney and my booth will look roughly like this:
Only 2 days to go!
I talk a good game, but when it comes down to sticking with a budget I have my idiosyncrasies. I become easily excited and impatient, even though I understand how important it is to plan for the long-term.
For example, I broke my 77mm circular polarizer 6 months ago. I turned it, the spring exploded, and half of it fell into a koi pond in San Diego, CA. There was no fixing it. (Sleeps with the fishes, see?)
I was content not to replace it for 6 months because I don't use the wide angle as much now that I have the 50mm fixed and the fish-eye. But... I just bought a fancy new long lens that takes 77mm filters. And a CPL is my most treasured filter. So now I have two lenses that can use this filter. (Also someday when I upgrade bodies I can give any extra filters to Jer)
The CPL I really want is a Singh-Ray, but it is expensive. I know it's priced high for a reason, but I just can't justify the expense yet. What I can justify however, is a $35 Hoya which will get me through the next couple of months. Plus I'd rather buy two of the Singh-Ray graduated neutral density filters (2 stop soft and 3 stop hard) that I've been lusting over for the last 6 years. My priorities may be skewed but at least I have them.
In the end I am about to spend $36 (with shipping) to buy the bare minimum I can get away with -- well that's not exactly true, I could get away with washed out skies and specular reflections if I *have* to, I just don't *want* to. It is the same type of filter that exploded six months ago, but it works well enough.
Back to the point of the story. I'm eating a slice of $1.37 bread from the drug store with a smear of generic brand peanut butter for breakfast every morning, making my own coffee, subsisting on sandwiches for dinner, and the occasional Lean Cuisine on sale, all to save money -- and then I go and buy this filter.
I don't know if I'm ashamed or proud of myself, but I do feel a little bit dirty.
There's just something about Tuesday that leaves me out of sorts. Last week it was the same, only the trigger was a neighbor (of 3 years) asking me if I lived here. As I held my keys to open the lobby door.
I feel like I'm forgetting something important. And nothing will change until I remember. But the longer it takes to remember, the more insistent the nagging becomes.
This is what I get for reading so much Haruki Murakami. The boat was slow tonight, so I read 60 pages of "South of the Border, West of the Sun." Mystery and alcohol abound in his work ... along with pencil notes scrawled in the margins, I'm guessing left by a previous, enthusiastic reader who was assigned to write a very serious paper. I would like to kick her in the shins, by the way. It's like she made up her own private titles for each chapter called things like, "Another woman who has a problem leg" or "it's like they switched lives when he left!" Thanks for the heads up, hon!
I expect spoilers on the Internet. But not in the books I buy.
FREMONT FAIR DETAILS
What: Fremont Fair
Why: to celebrate the Summer Solstice and to support Solid Ground
Fair hours: 10am-8pm, Saturday, June 21
11am-7pm, Sunday, June 22
Where: Fremont, WA (Fremont Avenue North to First Avenue North between North 36th Street and North Canal Street, Seattle)
Getting there: Metro Transit routes 26, 28, 31 and 74 serve the Fremont area. For more information on bus service see tripplanner.metrokc.gov.
Where can I find the On Focus Photo booth: N 34th Street, between Evanston and Phinney (http://www.fremontfair.com/map.php)
I hope you can make it out. I've never been to the fair (or parade) myself, but I hear the painted naked bicyclists are something to see.
I can't wait to buy a house so we get some of those awesome tax breaks. Being married with both spouses working decent jobs seems like a bad thing. And it's especially bad since I don't have a 401(k). I lose out on all sorts of pre-tax goodness.
Eh. It's a small, stupid thing and everything is fine. At least I'm able to tackle it early, although my next paycheck is sure gonna sting.
We ate dinner at Icon Grill, which I first read about in one of those Best of Comfort Food in Seattle stories in a magazine that's still sitting on my floor. Jeremy and I shared a bottle of 2002 Snoqualmie Vineyards Sangiovese that we really liked and then I had the Molasses Glazed Meatloaf. A direct menu quote:
An individual loaf of house cured ground beef, wrapped in apple-wood smoked bacon and baked with molasses glaze. Served with sweet corn cilantro mashed potatoes and blackstrap gravy.
Yes, I enjoyed it. I believe Jer had a steak but I can't recall which one; I was too focused on cleaning my plate. For dessert we shared a HUGE hot fudge sundae. Our server set down the plate, dumped a cone of hot fudge across everything and then offered us toppings -- fresh strawberries, toasted nuts, M&Ms, and whipped cream. Mmmm.
After dinner, I somewhat hobbled to the Paramount Theatre. I decided early on that the key to surviving high heels is to look like you know what you're doing. I totally think I accomplished that.
Our seats weren't terribly far back, row P, but they were more central than I like. There was much head bobbing and trying to see around people all evening. The show however, was FANTASTIC. I spent the night with a big stupid grin on my face.
I've heard the soundtrack a few times -- my introduction to the musical was a YouTube video featuring Warcraft characters dancing to the song "The Internet is for Porn." The audio is kinda NSFW but the video is safe. Oh hey, here it is:
I feel a little weird about typing "warcraft internet porn" in the YouTube search box, but I did it for you. For you!
Anyway, the show was a lot of fun. The integration of puppets was well done, the set was cool but didn't take away from the action, and the actors were highly skilled. Just don't sit behind a series of people with huge heads, that's all I'm saying.
My new lens arrived yesterday. I didn't think it was possible to love an inanimate object so fiercely. By love I mean, worship and not desire. Get your minds out of the gutter, people.
In other news I decided to live dangerously this morning and eat tomato relish on my breakfast sandwich. Hopefully it was made from the non-deadly kind of tomato. AND? I'm wearing a dress with red heels.
I don't even know me anymore.
BUT I DID.
I have a (hypothetical) e-mail in to the guy who sent me the letter with my city license information. But this is just damned frustrating.
So it's like this: I am on a super strict budget because I bought a new lens. I have $15 cash I can spare for happy hour tomorrow night. I look at the money I have, I look at my coffee pot, and think to myself that if I don't spend $2 on coffee tomorrow morning then I have two more dollars to spend on liquid happiness!
Skipping happy hour is not an option by the way. I can count the number of people I've carried on an extended conversation with in the last few days on ... 1 finger. My daily call to Jer. And possibly the bank teller who wanted to tell me about IRAs.
So I washed the stupid coffee pot so I can afford another PBR. The end.
P.S. My life is so damn difficult I'm tearin' up over here.
I was bummed about missing "Bones" and "House," so in true adult fashion I went to bed. I woke up later and the power was out again, so it's just as well. I hope Jer didn't have to stumble into the complex in the dark. Our building's "emergency" lights don't illuminate the first flight of stairs.
I forgot to mention earlier. If you haven't noticed, Sharper Image stores are closing and their merchandise is 20%-40% off. On Saturday I bought a sturdy duffel bag and a carving knife at a great price. It's my serial killer starter kit.
I feel that way about my acoustic guitar. I wish I could play but I don't want to put in the effort or time. And it's been hard to admit, but my fingers are stubby and not particulary nimble.
I'm on the fence about selling it, but I'm leaning towards letting it go. I own what looks almost exactly like this model, however it says Art & Lutherie Ami inside. (According to people on the Internet, it's actually the economy version of the Seagull Grand Parlor acoustic, marketed as the Art & Lutherie Ami.) Handcrafted in LaPatrie, Quebec, Canada (95% Canadian wood used).
I also have a hard case for it, an electronic tuner, and several how-to books. It's a smaller parlor size, perfect for travel or for children to learn on -- or in my case, it was better suited to my smaller female hands. And it's got nylon strings, so a bit more comfortable. It is designed for playing on your lap at home. It has no strap buttons. The body and top are laminated wild cherry and the neck is silver leaf maple with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Nice inlaid rosette around soundhole. Genuine satin lacquer finish for maximum tone.
So I bought it new around 1999 or 2000 and I've played it a few times. Probably 10. Other than that it's lived in the case it's entire life, treated very delicately. Reviews on the Ami model sound quality are very good -- you can see some at this site.
So I think that concludes the research. My price is $315 for the guitar and the hard case and the tuner. The how-to books would be extra. If you'd like to see a picture or ask questions send an email.
The show was at the Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle. We chose to walk a few blocks and parked at 5th and Pike, $7 until midnight. Cold but no rain. Entered the theatre shortly before eight, found our seats, and waited. We were in almost the last row of seats under the balcony, next to the sound guy, and I was worried about acoustics, but it ended up being just fine. If the man himself hadn't been so entertaining, we would've been far more distracted by the constant opening of doors (people! why can't you sit STILL for 40 freakin' minutes) and the random bright bursts of flash photography.
He spoke a bit about "Top Chef," not much. Teased us with hints about the upcoming season of "No Reservations." Shared his global and historical perspective on the evolution of gastronomy -- the first person to eat a snail was not a gourmet! I laughed, I thought, I learned, and I don't think you can ask for more out of an evening.
Jer and I stopped at the Tap House before calling it a night to share a plate of hummus and olive tapenade. I had an apple cider and he ordered a mocha porter. Later I crashed and then it was morning again. Which brings us to now. At some point today I am making a pot of chili, washing laundry, posting my photoblog pics for the week, and doing other photo related stuff.
Fremont Fair is only two weekends away!
I must have hit a good discount night because it was much less than I normally spend and I came out of there with quite a bit of food, plus a bottle of Eos Zinfandel. True, I took advantage of every coupon and discount at my disposal, but my favorite brownie mix (good until 2009) was something like $0.89 versus $2.00. I don't normally buy brownie mix because I end up eating the entire tray myself, but it'll make a nice dessert for lunch and bringing it for lunch has the added benefit that I can control the portion size. The Zatarain's mixes (red beans and rice and so on) were also $1.00 per box so I loaded up. I am an old school sucker for Zatarain. Oh and cans of tuna fish were on sale, mmmm. So if you're like me and enjoy brownies, beans and rice, and tuna salad, it's time to go shopping! Okay, ground beef was on sale too...
It was another night with odd, persistent dreams and I don't feel awake now. Something about finding blood all over the kitchen and evidence of a hastily covered up murder, asking a roommate about it; they said don't worry, that happened a year ago.
A photo booth that was clogged with trash, but I'd paid my dollar so I cleaned it out.
I hope that's not a veiled prediction about my new lens, which by the way has already shipped. In theory, this time next week it will be mine. (Quick tangent: I am researching graduated neutral density filters and I have it narrowed down to Singh-Ray or Hitech, but then I'm not sure whether to go with the Lee or the Cokin "P" filter holder. Decisions, decisions.)
Meanwhile, back in real life, Vash was in rare form batting the blinds to wake me up. He can be such an ass.
It's a good day because it's Friday. Not Friday the 13th yet, but that is only a week away. Tomorrow night Jer and I see Anthony Bourdain give a talk and next Friday we see Avenue Q. And then the following Friday is the Fremont Fair, where I will have my On Focus Photo booth. I have upgraded several components of my display since the last fair and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
So here I am, only five years later and the debt is gone -- with the exception of a small student loan at 3.75% fixed. It's true, my income has increased since then (not hard to beat since I was working at Barnes and Noble) but that's not the whole story.
One day I ran the numbers and realized if I didn't do something soon I would be in serious trouble. As it was, $30,000 seemed insurmountable. The reality of my paychecks versus the fantasy job market that would solve all my problems collided, and I'm only a little ashamed to say I did not handle it gracefully. There were tears and stalled negotiations with the universe.
So I quit school, got a real job, cut up half my credit cards, put the rest in safe place, and made a budget. I tracked every single penny, then categorized the expenses, and then stuck to an ideal plan. Ugh. It was hard. I recorded every stupid purchase. I cut cable down to the minimum. I reduced phone services and changed long-distance providers. I sold a lot of things I liked on half.com and eBay.
It helped that I had Jeremy to share expenses with, but we couldn't live on his salary alone, and I didn't want to pay less than my half. During that time we moved into a place with a washer and dryer -- no more paying for laundry. We ate off of a lot of fast food value menus and brought our lunches to work everyday. I can't think of many vacations we went on, if any. We kept the same cars and the little splurges meant a lot more. I spent a lot of time at the library, and read the books I checked out on the bus. Oh and I exchanged cans and bottles for change at the recycle yard. Almost forgot about that -- then we would go to the $2.50 theatre next door and watch a semi-new release. That's just what we did. Actually, we still do a lot of that, only sometimes I cook now.
And I gave up photography. After quitting school, I couldn't bear to pick up the camera again. At least I saved money on film developing! (Always a bright side.)
In addition to a budget, I looked for ways to earn more. I jumped jobs and took advantage of networking connections. I switched careers. I left the security of the University and I was terrified of screwing up my corporate job for the entire first year. Made myself sick with worry, was on a variety of thyroid medication for a couple of years, and then I got my confidence back. Those things aren't necessarily related but they happened. Think of it as a text montage, maybe play "Eye of the Tiger" in the background.
Fortune can change in an instant. Good or bad. Although I think it's usually a slower progression of circumstances that lead you one way or another. After years of frugal choices, Jer and I are in the good part of the arc. You better believe I'm grateful for every second of it.
I guess what I want to convey here is that if you're facing a mountain of debt like I was, there's hope. You can overcome it. You just have to go slow and steady and realize that every little bit counts. Every stick of gum, every beer at happy hour, every time you get the large soda instead of the small. And just like dieting, I think the first time you realize "This is a total lifestyle change," is when you can really start to make progress. There's not going to be an inheritance that saves you or a lottery win. You just have to commit to the life you're in now and work with what you have. At least, that's what I did after picking my bruised ego off the floor. You may have a different strategy.
Anyway, if you managed to read all that, I tip my hat to you. I am off to steal the blankets from my cats and read the Photographer's Market -- it just arrived from half.com today, old habits die hard.
I need to pick up a few filters now. Probably a new case. Though I did order a lens hood along with the camera. Now I need to sort through the apartment and see what I can sell to subsidize this "impulse buy," which has actually been brewing for the last 3 years. Anyone in the market for an extremely gently used acoustic guitar? More on that later.
What finally put me over the edge is the realization that the 4th of July is next month, and this may be the last year I live where I live -- the last chance for an easy fireworks setup. The last two new lenses I received as gifts from Jer -- the fisheye 10.5mm and the 50mm f/1.4 -- and they improved my picture quality tremendously, so I have high hopes for this one as well. But geez. I will spend (at least) the rest of the week in sticker shock.
Great month to start contributing to my IRA again, huh?
Power was restored at home by then too, only cable was down. Then cable came up then down again and now we have a tentative truce. I hear something blew up somewhere but I have not verified that tale. Wish I could be more specific.
I would've liked to have given this entry more thought and time, but I'm afraid we'll lose Internet again at any moment. (Cable Internet, go figure.) So that's my story.
To pass the time without TV, I've been making note cards and thinking I should really make a disaster kit with candles and stuff. And getting the shakes because I promised a buyer I would send an e-mail update about the status of their photo order tonight, and no can do without Internet. Fret not however, it's all taken care of now. (Like how I threw that in there? That bit about selling prints? So smooth is me.)
Oh, there are chores. I need to edit and post 3 pictures to the photoblog and do many loads of laundry, but right now I haven't yet wasted the day watching bad tv, there are many hours before I need to be presentable again, and it feels like anything is possible.
In weird coincidence news, after 2 months of total inactivity I sold 2 items in 2 days on half.com: a Diana Ross & the Supremes double CD and a copy of Neverwinter Nights for the PC. No sir, I don't see a connection -- unless you count the number two.
We watched "The Apartment" on Friday night and it was very good. It was interesting to see a large office without computers or cubicles and of course, Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon were incredible to watch. I haven't seen nearly enough Billy Wilder films. KCTS has this habit of showing great films without commercials late at night on the weekends, and that's how I also saw "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" for the first time. (Yeah, yeah. My film knowledge is poor. I somehow missed them all the first time around.)
Yesterday Jer and I got takeout from Ezell's Chicken. A lot of food, very tasty. We bought a family deal that included spicy fried chicken, baked beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and added on 2 slices of sweet potato pie. Not particularly healthy, but worth it for the occasional splurge. We borrowed a friend's advanced copy of "War, Inc." starring John Cusack, Marisa Tomei, and Hilary Duff (and Ben Kingsley and Joan Cusack and Dan Aykroyd) and that was our evening. The movie is smart and entertaining, in the tradition of the "Wag the Dog" genre of war/comedy. Only this one is more overtly mocking, I think. I liked it well enough.
And now it's time for PhotoShop.