Friday, June 30, 2006

Who hates Stupid Death Week? I do! I do!

There are only 20 minutes left to get yourself killed before I walk out of here at 5 p.m. on the dot. Hear that, citizens? You have only TWENTY minutes to partake in Stupid Death Week before I head home for the long holiday weekend.

This is your last chance to get so drunk that you fall out of a boat and drown, drive drunk and hit an 11-year-old, jump off the Not-Getting-Dooced Bridge, or get beaten to death, okay?

Interestingly enough, Stupid Death Week 2006 brought us a new twist- A teenager's life was saved by his friends WHO HIT HIM WITH THEIR CAR. That's right, folks. A kid got really, really drunk at a graduation party and stumbled into the path of his friends' car. After knocking him over at a very slow rate of speed, someone called 911. The ambulance arrived and pumped his stomach JUST IN TIME to save him from alcohol poisoning. Good thing he got hit oh-so-gently by that car. If he had just passed out on the sidewalk, he would have died. Awesome.

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie wants you to LIVE!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh, Don Piano

My sister sent me an email today that said, "Careful, you may pee yourself if watched on a full bladder" and cut-and-pasted a link to this video. Now, this is not an unreasonable thing for her to warn me about, because I have laughed so hard that I've peed myself more times than someone who has been toilet-trained for more than 25 years really ought to. Yes, I feel closer to you, Internet, for having told you that.

Still, even if you have a bladder of steel, you have been warned.

Friday, June 23, 2006

T is for Tahiti!

Thirty-two years and eleven months ago, my parents got married.

They went to Ocean City, NJ for a few days right after the wedding. They stayed at The Tahitian, a theme hotel a block off the boardwalk. A month later, in August 1973, they flew to Hawaii for their real honeymoon. My mom had never flown before. She had never seen palm trees before. She fell in love with the tropics and latched on to the idea of someday going to Tahiti.

They went to Europe. They found a dog. They bought a house. Amanda was born. Two years after that, I came along. They bought another house. My mom got her masters' degree. My dad got my mom a vanity license plate in the mid-80s. The actual spelling for Tahiti was taken, so he ordered "Tahete" instead. The license plate moved from her elderly little Datsun to a green minivan I drove during college.

They provided every opportunity for my sister and me. They fostered a love for adventure and travel in us. We went to the beach every year, plus road trip vacations every summer. We took music lessons, shared a used car, always got a new formal dress for every prom we each attended. We sent them on a second honeymoon for their 25th anniversary in 1998, with Nanny's help and contributions from guests at a big party in their honor. Obviously, we couldn't afford to send them to Tahiti.

(My mom is making sure they have the special contraption my dad needs to keep from snoring his face off at night. She's saying, "No snoring in Tahiti!") We went to private colleges. I got to study abroad and major in photography (with the required investment in camera gear.) I got help when I moved to Florida and back. Amanda got help with a law degree, an MBA, and a wedding. I have a kind, sweet, generous, well-meaning and OFTEN REPEATED offer for help paying for a wedding.

My mom has always said, "If I never get to Tahiti, go without me and a drink a mai tai in my memory." Honestly, one of my biggest fears (throughout all the years that I have been the appreciative recipient of their generosity) was that they would never get to take this trip. Every time I got to travel and go to college and benefit from their generosity, my mom always said she was enjoying the experiences just as much vicariously through me. I never really understood how that was possible. But... getting to be there and shoot these pictures as they left (they saved a couple hundred bucks by parking the Tahete van on my street and taking a shuttle to the airport), seeing how elated they were to finally, finally take this dream vacation of a lifetime, I think I understand.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Babies R Ev'rywhere

Oh, Lordy, there is a baby boom happening all around me. I have two pregnant co-workers, plus a new dad co-worker. I'm helping plan a baby shower for one of my extended-friend-family members, although we may have to reschedule due to forces of nature. (STAY IN THERE, BABY. Just hang out in there until your mom or her doctor says it's okay to come out! CAN YOU HEAR ME?!? STAY. Good baby.) Hey, it works for dogs. And anyway, I am pro-baby, for other people. Yay, other people!

So with all the expectant ladies (and certainly, definitely, totally some-day-real soon, enjoy-your-romantic-restaurant-date and please-pass-the-mango-ice-cream future expectant lady), I'm finding myself at Babies R Us. Like, a lot.

Which? Can I JUST say? Is a scary, confusing, intimidating warehouse of contraptions that bounce, spin, buzz, warm, sterilize and suck milk out of you. OH MY GOD. I have never felt more like a single childless lady. This is me wandering around the store, right?

"Okay. Okay okay. Six pages of registry here. La la la. I can do this. Like wedding registries. Here we go. Ah yes. "KOALA BABY SWDLR RC BLKT-Ecru. Wants: 1 Has: 0." Aw, let's get that. I like koalas; it's the right price range. BLKT probably means blanket? Sure, it does. I had Lovey, a security blanket that started out as a sheet in my crib. I took the shredded remains of it to college. Aw, yes, let's buy co-worker's future baby a Lovey. Okay. Koalas. Looking for koalas. No koalas. Lots of princess-y items, lots of trains and soft, light blue sporting goods. Stuffed bees. I'm not looking for bees. Aw, look, at the fuzzy purple octopus theme. That would be cute for my eventual future niece or nephew, since my sister and brother-in-law have that mildly nauseating but sweet cuttlefish/cuddlefish nickname thing going on. NO! Focus. Focus on the koalas. Only... Oh. Wait. Koala Baby is a BRAND. Huh. Look at that. And they make sheets! Sheets are like blankets! This might be the right aisle. Dut dut dah- bassinet sheet, fitted sheet, cradle sheet, crib sheet. Crib sheet! Yes, please! Someone come help me cheat!

So, okay. RC BLKT. That probably means "receiving blanket." Sure. Okay. Here we go. Koala Baby aisle. Blankets. Snuggler blanket. Goody. No. The registry says SWDLER. That probably means... swaddler, not swindler. Definitely not snuggler. Who knows ecru? I know ecru. Ecru is a bridesmaid color. Now I have that Passover game in my head. Who knows eight? I know eight! Eight are the days to circumcision. GAH. I don't want to think about circumcision in Babies R Us. OH MY GOD, I HAVE BEEN IN HERE FOR 45 MINUTES AND I JUST WANT TO FIND A KOALA BABY SWADDLER BLANKET IN ECRU.

Fearing I might be minutes away from grabbing a security blanket for myself and finding a nice corner where I can suck my thumb, I took a detour over to cards and picked out a congrats! card for Andrea. Ah, look at the Clearance Plush Toys. Clearance means I could get one or two. Baby's First Easter Bunny? Eh- not so much. A bear with "Gift from God" embroidered on a heart? Nope, not for this baby shower. Too bad Babies R Us doesn't sell "Baby's First Hindu Prayer Book" or "That was a GREAT rebirth!" onsies. Even a "Gift from Gods" Bear would be better. Screw it, back to Linens.

In the end, salvation came in the form of a sales associate named Deepak, coincindentally enough. He helped me staple my two separate registries. He guided me away from the Confusing Linen Aisle Hell to Infant Care. He reeeally wanted to see me a diaper wipe warmer. A wipe warmer? Really? "This is on her registry" he says, pointing to something called "My Brest Friend." WHA-? No. Just no. This is my Best Co-Worker. We're friends, but we're work friends, you know, with the working? Together? I am not getting her ANYTHING that says "Breast" on it. Especially if it's spelled wrong. No.

Aren't there any hooded towels around here? I love the cute baby towels with the hoods. Sigh...

Two hours and $50 later, I fled from the store, shoving birth control pills in my mouth like Tic Tacs.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Thinking of You

Psst! Hi.

There's a new section over there on the side, just under the Previous Entries column. If you should so desire to see how I spend the majority of my time, please go check out those links. (Some of you have seen some of these before.) The one titled "Arangetram" puts the previous entry in greater context.

That aside, a big part of my job is establishing a rapport that gives me intimate, emotional access and FAST. One of the main ways I do it involves sharing a lot about myself, drawing from my own experiences to intimately capture those of otherwise total strangers.

It's sort of like...okay. Long, rambly digression that will all come around to make my point eventually. Stay with me..... I vacillate between thinking that that psychic guy John Edwards is a total quack and the real deal. If you've ever watched his show, when he's giving someone a "cold reading" with messages "from their loved ones on the other side"- he sounds like he's playing charades.

He'll say something along the lines of, "They're showing me yellow roses, which means they want me to acknowledge a birthday." Or he'll say something like, "They're making me feel the same way I felt in my grandmother's attic; what is this? Did you used to play dress-up in an attic?" or "I'm hearing come kind of T name, a TM combination, Tom? Tim? Tommy?" And the people fall over themselves, bursting into tears and giving him lots of verbal and nonverbal clues he can drawn from. Sometimes he says that the energies from the "other side" are giving him clues to the way they passed away by laying the symptoms over his own body; i.e. he feels an abstract sense of a terrible headache; therefore the person he's supposedly communicating with had a brain hemorrhage.

I've read other people's accounts of what happened when they attended a taping. Some think that the production company has staffers who eavesdrop as the audience waits to be seated, then feed the star info about who wants to hear from whom, who brought a snapshot of dear old dad in their purse, etc. Which is probably a lot more likely that actually communicating with the dead. Having never met the man and only seen the edited footage, it's impossible for me to say. Personally, I do think John Edwards MIGHT have some kind of psychic sensibilities and gifts. On the other hand, can such gifts be forced to manifest according to a production company's schedule and box office demand? Probably not. Does he mix authentic readings with hints from eavesdropping staffers to make for better television? Probably.

What does ANY of this have to do with the new Portfolio section on the side? Just that when I'm connecting with subjects to get access, I do something similar. When he says, "they're showing me my own experience to get me to say 'stuffy, dusty attic,'" I'm doing the same thing on the job. Which means, since most of the readers here on the blog are people I've known for a long time, I talk about you guys all the time as I connect with subjects.

So if you look at the work on the side, and you see the teenagers listening to "Seasons of Love;" and if you remember driving around in the summer of 1997 belting out the lyrics, if you remember being 17 and not quite out of the closet, if you wrote a PG 13 arrangement for Senior Music Awards night, if we went to see Rent together, then yes, I was thinking of you when I shot those pictures.

If we played Beethoven together in a high school symphony orchestra, I was thinking of you when I shot those pictures. If you sat next to me in Spanish, if we joked about throwing ourselves a quinceanera in 1995, I was thinking of you when I shot those pictures.

If you ever stood next to me and listened to Taps played by a single trumpet on a windy day, then yes, I was thinking of you.

Last Word

Okay. This is the last word on the topic of weight and body image for the time being. I've been meaning to post this entry for a few days now, but I've been overwhelmingly busy for eight days straight with projects, projects, and more projects, taking an occasional break to cover traffic fatalities and bite Joel's head off over the phone about the proper way to make tomato soup. Lovable, no? :)

Happily, I have the next three days off! Comp time! COMP. TIME. Tomorrow is "Sleep until I'm ready to wake up" day (and clean and grocery shop and prepare for houseguest and make returns and print baby shower invites and mail parent album to clients day.) BUT! None of that has to happen before 2 p.m.

So the last word on weight is.... that women are batshit insane about their bodies. Seriously, I met an amazing, phenomenal woman over the weekend who has achieved international acclaim as a celebrated guru for an intricate, difficult, physically demanding form of classical Indian dance. She sang and drummed for four straight hours, chanting one of her students through a 3,000-year-old ritual that dates back to the temples of her native India. She has given birth to two beautiful, talented daughters, also dancers. And...

She is on a diet. She recently lost 20 pounds, and she wants to lose 20 more. When people (women from all over the world, actually) complimented her and asked her how she did it, she joked (not really), "I'm starving!" I overheard her longing, out loud, for this small pack of M&Ms on the table at least three times.

Almost no one I know is happy with their size. There's no universal correlation between "fat" and miserable; "thin" and content. I wish there was, like, a diagram. Even a confusing one, like the kind they print on the back of pantyhose packages where you can see plain as day- if you are 5'6" and 140 pounds, then your little square is pink and BING! You are happy! Buy the slender size! but if you top 160 pounds then BOO! Your square is aqua and you are miserable and should buy the "Queen" size.**

Who decided that fat women are "queenly," by the way? You hear that all the time. I say, fuck it all, no more coy signs that say "Divas" or "Misses" or "Plus." They should just hang a sign over ALL the clothes that say, "These bathing suits have been made for you by slave children in Indonesia. Every single one of you will hate the way your ass looks no matter what. Drop your money on the counter on your way out, and feel very very guilty about everything."

That is all.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Part Two

Aw, see, you guys are being so nice and wonderful. And I totally, totally appreciate it. And I'm absolutely trying to be funny about the weight issue, and I'm trying to be open and talk about it. I'm not fishing for compliments, because- gah. No.

And... and... I have a friend who needed to hook a breathing apparatus up to a modified car battery-type thing to go to a baseball game this weekend, and while I would take away his pain in a heartbeat, or give him all my extra muscle tone and flesh if I could- I would be hard-pressed to trade my healthy, heavy body for one that just doesn't fucking work. I don't have his courage.

I appreciate the compliments about me being beautiful and gorgeous, and I know being "Rubenesque" (thank you Beki) has its value. (Incidentally, for those of you who only know me in cyberspace- I retouch every photo of myself that you see here. I use PhotoShop's cloning tool to make my hair block out my chins or move the edge of my arm over. This is me unretouched, below)

I can look in the mirror and objectively say- okay, I have pretty hair. The aqua colored contacts work for me, especially if I buy that nice teal t-shirt that will make them stand out more. I've never hated my nose, my ears. I have no disfiguring scars. I'm grateful my parents pushed orthodontics. My body deserves to be treated nicely with the manicures and pedicures and the occasional massage. If the photos bug me, I'll retouch them. End of problem.

Except that it isn't.

Lots of women who are smarter, funnier and better educated than I am have explored how fat is the final frontier of acceptable discrimination. I was watching a stand-up comic the other night who was talking about going to her class reunion, and how she hopes So-and-So-Queen-Bee-Mean-Girl got fat. In her bit, she describes how she got to the reunion and asks about So-and-So, and her former classmates gasp- "Did you know?!?! She DIED"- and the comedienne feigns horror, and in a faux-tearful voice, "Oh, no.. Do you know if- before she died- was she... fat?" Message: Getting fat is worse than being dead.

Of course, the point here is, in part, that significantly smaller people hate their bodies. I was sooo annoyed when other well-known bloggers and their reader/commenters were bitching about their weight and snarking about body image and kissing up to each other, but in all honestly- a part of me was annoyed because the people complaining were all significantly smaller than I am. Anorexic people hate their bodies; larger people hate their bodies. Almost no one is happy. The hate and discomfort is in no way correlates with one's actual measurements and appearance. The hate thrives in in every body type. Objectively, I know this. I know this on so many levels.

But- the mental picture I have of myself just doesn't match the size I am now. I just think of myself as the regular-sized girl I was in high school. (Kelly, right, is purty, no?)

It isn't about society's standards, or pleasing a partner, or gratitude for not needing a wheelchair, or appreciation for one's good features like nice hair and a pretty face. It's the mismatch- not looking like the person I envision myself to be- is fundamentally painful.

The trade-off is: What will I knock out of balance if I proactively try to change my size? Can I be thin again? Yes. Will I be mentally and spiritually whole as I try to shrink my size? Probably not, and when you've peered as closely over the brink as I was in 2001, you aren't eager to stride back to the edge.

How far would *you* go? What would you be willing to risk to look they way you want to?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Hi. I am going to write a post about body image and stuff.
No, I'm not.
Yes, I am.
No, I'm not.
I'm scared.
Me, too.
You "too?" You ARE me.
Oh yeah.
And we're fat.
We're totally fat. But we're *so* healthy right now.
I know.
Don't say "I know" like that. We ARE!
I can feel our chins rubbing against our neck as we dip our head to look at the screen.
Shut up.
YOU shut up.
No, YOU!
Oh, we are SO mature.
I know you are, but what am I?
Fuck off.
No, YOU fuck off.
Look, I am NOT the one having a self-loathing conversation with myself in front of the whole Internet?
Except, see, you ARE.
Fine. We both are. We will both talk about this.
Do you not remember the obsessing? The crying? The money you- Um, WE- Okay, the money WE flushed down the L.A. Weight Loss toilet?!? What about our humiliating stint at Weight Watchers with our high school trig teacher? Do you really think we can diet again without going Nutty Nutty Fruitcake?
Ooh, cake.
Okay, no, seriously. Listen up. You know the dieting was whack.
And we hated it.
I know.
It wasn't like we enjoyed that body very much. It wasn't worth it. Everything about dieting, and stopping dieting, and going out to eat, and trying to eat in public SUCKED.
We wore that bikini, though.
AND WE HATED IT. We HATED wearing it. We worried the whole freakin' time. Stephen took a picture and we freaked out and he had to joke us out of a near nervous breakdown in our favorite vacation town.
That joke involved a reference to a beached whale.
Shut it, you know it was hilarious and absolutely the right thing to say at the time.
Do you realize how awesomely emotionally healthy it has been for us to just EAT without fear these past few years?
Do you know how many women LOATHE food and LOATHE their bodies?
Yes, but-
They hunger, they hurt, they don't eat, they feel guilty when they do eat- Like, GOD. How nice has it been not to think about that crap?
But we're fat now. What would happen if we just tried to diet, like, a little bit? Eat less, move more, practice moderation...?
Dude. Hi. This is me. You. Whoever. We would end up compulsively pulling on our eyebrows and weighing ourselves on "What's your Weight and Lucky Number? scales at rest stops on I-95. We do not do things halfway, like, ever. Case in point, how long is this entry?
Touche....Can we please talk about the Happy Pills now?
I suppose we can. But we are not going off of them.
You know we aren't ever going to lose any real weight while they're increasing our appetite and pulverizing our metabolism.
The Happy Pills increase our ENDORPHINS. Without them, we are one Hot Wheels away from "REDRUM."
Alright. Geez.
Look, we're healthy. We had all those tests and everything to prove it. We are so far from diabetes. We have the cholesterol levels of a Buddhist monk. We have a nice person who loves us and takes the dog and the trash out in the rain. Why can't we leave well enough alone?
We're fat.
You're mean. Look how our career has excelled, what with us focusing on good stuff and having enough energy to carry a heavy camera bag around. Look at what has happened now that we're not wasting all our creative energy hating food. Our body does everything we ask it to. It's strong. And smart! And nice! And full of feminist principles that HATE having this conversation with you! GAH!
You must breathe occasionally, you know.
I know....Okay, look, I know the same drive and ambition we put forth could be lethal if we start applying it to dieting again. I'm proud of who we are, mostly. I know all the logical reasons why dieting is a terrible idea for us. I know beauty is as beauty does. I read "The Beauty Myth" the same time you did.... If we started losing weight, there would be the terrible anxiety over the compliments. And the fear! The fear of gaining it all back! Can't you just accept that this is how we are now?
That's just it.... I don't know if I can.
I know. Me neither.
You know what you need?
Stomach stapling?
A hug?
That, too. I was going to say- You need a 24,000-year-old prehistoric fertility statue carved from an oolitic limestone.
Ah. Why thank you.