Friday, March 28, 2008

Time Crunch

Hey everyone. Try not to worry if posting here is a little sporadic, at least in the month of April. This next month is going to be so busy, it's more than a little crazy. I've started listing everything out so I can cross things off one at a time:

April 1- Traffic court date for the mean cop (see #6) who gave me a parking ticket while I was covering an accident

April 5th- Headshot session, Alissa arrives for marathon invitation printing session and sleepover (Thai food, yum!)

April 6th- Help Alissa finish assembling her invites (so pretty! pocketfolds with 3-D details)

April 7th- Incredibly unpleasant but necessary doctor's appointment
April 11th- Help friend having surgery, drive to DC
April 12th- Photo scouting, rehearsal dinner for wedding clients

April 13th- Client Wedding (so excited, I love this couple, a handful of my favorite people will be there, and it's a garden tent wedding, similiar to what Joel and I are planning, looking forward to preview.)

April 14th-Drive back to New York
April 17th- Jo arrives from London for big NYC "find an agent" showcase.
April 18th- Day off from work to hang out with Jo
Aptil 19th- Client Newborn portraits in Queens

April 20th- Pope Benedict is coming to New York, got approved by Vatican to shoot big mass in Yankee Stadium.

April 25th- Jo leaves, drive her to airport
April 26th- Trip to Lancaster to drop off tons of accumulated wedding crap
April 27th- Meeting with florist in PA, drive back to New York
May 3rd- My birthday, suit measurement appointments for Dad and Joel
May 4th- Parents in town
May 5th- Sleep like it's my JOB

I figure I'll rest when I die. Bring it on, April! Oof, gently. :)

Monday, March 24, 2008


I'm totally stealing this idea from Gwen, who adapted it from Maggie, who wrote a book about things you should write about on your blog.

So here are just a handful of scenes- more or less in chronological order- that I hope flash before my eyes when I die, now with more fun childhood photos, courtesy of the scanner (Let me know once you get tired of seeing these.)

Being cuddled by Nanny, seeing diamond necklace around her neck that will become my wedding band

Getting tossed in the air by my father playing "Fire in the Hole'

Watching the sun rise over the ocean with my mom

Watching my dad and mom dance to the "Pennsylvania Polka" to humor a bandleader on a paddleboat ride down the Mississippi River during a terrific electrical storm

Parasailing with Brad

Drifting in and out of sleep on a bus trip through Spain

Getting caught in the rain at the Ren Faire in 1997 and full-on stripping off our soaked, heavy costumes in the parking lot

Delicious, inappropriate fit of laughter at yoga with Kelly during which I wet my pants in front of the superintendent's wife

Full-on gut-busting laugh about "Muffy the Marionette Mouse" with the cymbal line, realizing I could be completely myself with new college friends.

Writing every detail of the day Amanda and I met our cousins in Italy into my travel journal while she slept on the train back to Rome.

Finally, finally seeing the Indigo Girls in concert with Jo

Buying my first real camera and going to Doug's Fish Fry to celebrate.

Riding the ATV around the hills of Crowdieknowe in Scotland

Holding Bella in my arms for the first time after she ran out of the rose garden, into the street, then into the backyard at 721 Ostrom.

Watching Andrew watching snow fall on Christmas morning

Driving to N&J's wedding in Cape Cod with Luke and laughing so hard while listening to David Cross standup that I feared for our safety.

Napping with all three pets warm, cuddly, content

Amanda jumping on the bed the day after her wedding, cuddling the gown "she married [her] Tommy in"

Realizing there was an engagement ring in my Cracker Jacks

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Patron Saint

So I was raised Catholic. Confirmed and everything. When you go through confirmation, you're supposed to pick a patron saint. A lot of kids pick saints who share their first or middle names, so your confirmation name is the same. However, there is one unwritten but seemingly unbreakable rule, at least among secularly-schooled, CCD crowd: Girls don't pick patron saints with boys' names and vice versa.

I really wanted to pick St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals) or St. Anthony (patron saint of lost things), but above all else, I was a 13-year-old girl who was REALLY excited about getting her braces off the day before. Standing out and being different and being the only girl with a boy saint? Not happening. So I picked St. Angela Merici. She believed in educating young girls and redistributed her wealth to the poor, which is frankly pretty feminist for a 15th century Italian chick. Anyway.

The thing is? I lose stuff. Always have, always will. Even when I was a baby, I lost stuff.

I had a Lovey, an omnipresent security blanket, (seen here being rescued from the wash line for me by my sister circa 1980) the remnants of which may or may not at this very moment be tucked into a nightstand right next to my bed. Just in case.

(Seen here on my way to my first day of preschool with Lovey, my bag, and Tommy the Tomcat, the first stray to find me, at my feet.)

Lovey went everywhere with me, and therefore, like all things I really want or need to have at a moment's notice, got lost. All the time.

No words can strike fear in my parents' hearts like the words: "I can't find Lovey!" Seriously, next time I'm home, I'm going to wait until my dad is drifting off to sleep in his chair, stand behind him, say those words, and see what happens. Just as an experiment! In the name of science!

Anyway, whenever something was lost, and this was often, my family would pray to St. Anthony: "Good St. Anthony, come around; something's lost and can't be found." For years, this worked like a charm for me. I said this prayer all the time. Things would turn up in the oddest places, places that had been checked numerous times.

Until 1999 or so, when I moved from communion-taking Catholic to communion-abstaining Lapsed Catholic. There are lot of reasons for this, but suffice it to say, the habitual plea for help to St. Anthony, by and large, went unheeded. I've been on my own searching for my keys since I deliberately began voting pro-choice.

So I've been really tired and overworked lately, even more so than usual. Work provides a phenomenal amount of gear that I schlep EVERYWHERE. I have- no joke- hundreds of gadgets and lenses and transmitters and things that go beep in the night- including a three-month-old $400 cell phone. (I didn't buy this, mind you, it was assigned to me. ) I have a deliberate system, a pocket for everything, a hook for keys, a spot for press IDs, etc., but when I get tired, I tend to throw everything in the bags and try to sort it all out later.

This? Is my personal recipe for DOOM.

The first thing that went missing was the $400 cell phone. I had it on opening night of Phantom, and it was on complete vibrate mode in my lap because I still was on call. The next morning, it was gone. Of course, I tore the house apart, dismantled the car, went back to the school, and called it incessantly, listening for telltale thrum of redemption. No luck. Now, the Nournal Jews replaces your first lost company-issued cell phone, an offer I took advantage of in my second year of employment there. The second lost phone is all on you, er, me. I so do not have $400 lying around right now.

Then, I lost a $100 transmitter card that plugs into my laptop and transmits photos and videos to the newsroom via cell phone signal. This is one of those things that has a specific place where it goes so it doesn't get lost. (Because I already lost one in 2005, but in my defense that was a CRAZY spot news scene where there 19 people were injured when the 12-person van they were crammed in hit a tractor trailer. I was the first press on the scene. They were actually triaging people with TAGS. Dude. Terrifying.)

Back to the present. In the midst of dismantling all my bags for the third time in five days (first two rounds for the cell phone, third for the transmitter card), I kind of lost it. It was downright Biblical. I wept. There may have been gnashing of teeth. (How DOES one gnash one's teeth?)

And then... in the middle of plundering my laptop bag, I realized I left a packet of snapshots of Joel and me as children at the office. I was scanning them for a wedding project, and I left them by the scanner. This envelope contained every original snapshot of Joel and his brother Brian, whom you may know passed away in 1998.*

I was driving back to the office, at 11:30 at night, no question.

In the car, crossing the Zappan Bee Tridge, St. Anthony and I had a long talk. All I wanted help finding was the pictures. I prayed. Hard. Don't laugh, but I may have used the words "prodigal Catholic daughter" in my prayer. I promised to give money to Catholic Charities. NOT the Catholic Priests Pediophilia Defense Fund, I told him, but a Catholic charity like the one that ran the after-school program I volunteered for in college.

I arrived at the office close to midnight. The envelope was still by the scanner. Thank God. I got home about 30 minutes later, and slowly started to repack my laptop bag, the contents of which were still all over the living room floor. As I was putting all my gadgets back in their proper places, my hand slid into a pocket that had been checked numerous times, and touched... metal. It was the $100 transmitter card.

Exhausted, I went to bed.

When I woke up a scant six hours later, I had a message on my personal cell phone. My $400 work cell phone- missing with a dead battery for six days- had been located at Nyack High School.

Yeah. Uh huh.

How does St. Anthony's fund for prevention of AIDS and other diseases in 47 schools spread around the slums of Nairobi sound? Sounds good to me, too. :)

*Super Fun Bonus: Courtesy of the scanner, I give you quite possibly the cutest picture ever taken of my future husband (on the right) and his brother.

Also? Joel is a robot.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

WTF Facebook?

So... Facebook. The social networking site. I joined it a few months ago so I could view memorial messages for a teacher I had in high school who died unexpectedly. I haven't been back since.

And then today, I finally, finally caught up with my friend Annie. (Hi Annie!) We literally played phone tag for months. Anyway, we finally talked for three hours tonight, and it was great. She mentioned something about facebook, and a little while ago I signed on again for the hell of it. Now, Annie has ALWAYS surrounded herself with interesting, intelligent people, and her facebook Friend List is no exception.

Looking at that list is FASCINATING. The in-your-face punk girl from high school who Manic Panicked her hair once a week? Her profile picture shows her looking completely normal and decidedly suburban, holding a bouncing baby wearing an actual baby bonnet. Girl from AP English class who wanted to be a doctor? On a medical staff network for a prominent hospital in Houston, Texas. Guy we all lost touch with after he became kind of an ass, couldn't stop talking about how much money he made, then developed a serious drinking problem ? Looks really good actually: all short metrosexual hair, ultra bright teeth and hot bottle blond girlfriend draped all over him.

For a second it makes you want to get back in touch, but then... what do I really have to say? Facebook almost feels like an interactive high school yearbook: tiny pictures, memories you don't really want to, well, remember. "Never forget all the fun we had in AP English. Have a great summer! BFF!"

But the weird thing was the list of people who want to Friend me. Some are, like, actual friends. Like Gwen and College Roommate Jo, who by the way is wearing a pair of kickass cowboy boots in her profile photo. I almost want to ask her to bring them with her from London when she visits next month, so I can borrow them.

But then there are a handful of people who want to Friend me, like my sister's brother-in-law, who are all using photos for their profiles that I shot of them. Now, I like Bill a lot. I'm happy to be his Facebook friend, and I'm flattered he liked a photo of himself that I shot of him at my sister's wedding so much that he pulled it off the CD I burned for him after the big day for his profile picture. It's not a problem, but getting a bunch of Facebook requests from people who are using photos I shot is... a little uncanny.

It was a Twillight Zone moment, like the first time I went to my chiropractor's office, and all the photos on the bulletin board in the waiting room were photos I shot for the newspaper. The staff clipped out pictures of their patients, which isn't uncommon. My orthodontist office used to do the same thing. The weird thing was... they were *all* pictures I shot. Every single one. The receptionist caught me staring warily at the bulletin board, and I had be like, "Um, what do all those pictures have in common to YOU?"

I also had a Friend request from someone I met at Michelle's (Client Bride-Turned-Friend-And-Regular-Commenter) wedding, and - here's where it's hard to be me- I was hurt that his profile picture WASN'T mine. He was dating a nice girl at Michelle's wedding, and he bought a bunch of reprints of himself and his girlfriend to give to their families as Christmas presents. He was all, "I think I'm going to propose; we so want to have you be our photographer!" and.. They're married! And they didn't call me! Boo!* But they want to be Facebook friends? How did they even find me? Who does a Facebook search on the name of a wedding photographer they don't want to hire AFTER their wedding?

Facebook is a strange, strange thing.

*(I'm kidding.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Where I've Been

As I mentioned below, I've been following a local high school through one of the first amateur productions of "Phantom of the Opera" permitted by Andrew Lloyd Webber's licensing company. They're sort of an experiment, to see if high schools can do this. I have literally spent hours upon hours with them, shooting more than a hundred stills and six videos (also below) documenting their progress from from auditions to opening night.

This is my first real push at significant documentary filmmaking work, aside from the 1-2 minute news packages for the newspaper's website and affiliate broadcast. Documentary-style editing is a real bitch, by the way. I actually experimented with two video cameras filming at once.

It's something I've seen wedding videographers do if they're shooting alone. One camera was set up in the middle of the auditorium (usually wedding videographers set it up in the choir loft) and ran a steady take. Then I moved around with my second camera. Oh, and I was shooting stills, too. Because I am a glutton for punishment, what can I say? And I want the shots that I want. Also, I'm doing both video and stills for Alissa's wedding in July. I'll have both Joel and Amanda assisting in July, so that will be much, much easier. Probably.

Anyway, my project is all wrapped up now, more or less. I will be doing one final segment on the conclusion of the show on March 15th.

You know what's helped me keep my sanity, though? These kids are amazing. They are so, so talented. I was able to shoot all through a five-hour rehearsal, log and capture both tapes of that same rehearsal from two different angles, and then go back and line up the audio tracks with excruciating precision ONLY because they're incredibly talented.

Part one features the stage manager. A little fondness, perhaps, because of my own high school experience? Yeah, guilty as charged. This is more of a slideshow approach with stills, because I lost some crucial footage in a hard drive crash. Poop on that.

This is part two, featuring the girl who plays Christine. She is only 15. She's funny and smart and hits that high C in "Think of Me" with a HAMMER, though you can see more of that song in part five.

This is part three, featuring the guy who plays the Phantom. He wants to be a graphic designer with a theater minor. How much you wanna bet he comes back from Winter Break majoring in drama or musical theater? He has such a thoughtful approach to his acting, from his singing style to his use of gesture, that I can't help but marvel at his maturity as a performer.

This is part four, which technically focuses on the director and the way he teaches the kids to succeed. At this point, I was trying to include one major musical number in each movie. This segment features "Masquerade."

This is part five, which focuses on the pit orchestra and the conductor. (I can't post a photo of Gwen from 1993 and not give the pit orchestra a shout-out.) This segment contains "Think of Me" and "Angel of Music," including the bit where the Phantom appears in the mirror.

Finally, part six is the Opening Night segment. If you're skimming this, and who can blame you? This is the segment to watch. These editing techniques are HARD, (please say nice things), and I'm especially proud of how the two cameras captured the falling chandelier. To be fair and to paraphrase some Grand Poobahs of Theatre who saw Opening Night, you know... This isn't Broadway. But what these kids do well, they do SO well that you forget you're watching high school theater. And that suspension of disbelief is a credit to their storytelling, no matter how you slice it.

So this is where I've been, what I've been doing while blogging has been sparse. Those of you who remember Saturdays spent set-painting, who remember how much I loved this musical (and Jon) when I was 15, who know that I sat curled up in theater seats with my fist pressed to my mouth whenever my sister or ex stepped out on stage, who recall that I vicariously lived and died by the names on callback lists in college, you will see how much of my heart went into this project.

And you'll see why I'm just so proud of these kids.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Giving me Paas

Last night we had dinner with friends in Queens. We love taking their kids trick-or-treating and the like, so when I was out grocery shopping on Saturday, I picked up 18 eggs and a couple of Paas Easter egg dyeing kits. It's a little early for Easter, but I thought it would be fun. I picked up two "Traditional PAAS Easter Egg Color Kits" and a special fun glitter paint version.

I was shocked- shocked, I tell you!- when I opened the kits and found little round tablets that you have to dissolve in vinegar. What? WHAT-WHAT-WHAT? Where are the four, tiny, impossible to open, oh-so-spillable, stinky bottles of green, blue, yellow and pink that you daubed on the eggs with q-tips?

Apparently, the Old School method has been discontinued. No one else could remember what I was talking about! Zak waxed at length about how the tablets have been around as long as he can remember. (He's 12.)

I've been looking around online. At least one another person mentioned the same dismay, but their post is dated April 2000.

Whoa. What else have I been missing?


Okay, the comments have prompted me to pull out these old pictures. Look, it's Gwen from 1993! Isn't her "Blossom" hat the coolest? Here, we are, painting Easter eggs with q-tips.

Let's get a close-up on the jars, shall we?


Yes! My sister figured it out! Here they are, the stinky, spillable bottles of Doc Hinkle's Easter Egg dye! Also? How fun to post something lighthearted and get 10 comments right away! I missed you guys. I'm glad the work load has lightened enough to let me get back to my hobbies.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Projects Projects Projects Projects

So I am hopelessly boring, no? It's because I'm working a lot. I know. I told you that. I really don't want to rename this this blog "workaholic life."

This is the sad story I was telling you about before. The family has gotten a lot of support as a result of the article and in the end, after telling us their story, the soldier's mother told us she considered us part of the family. They allowed me to accompany them to their son's place in the cemetery the next day, which is where the non-interview footage comes from. I got to pay my respects to Sgt. Vickerman without the camera as well. It felt important.

This is the video I shot for work:

I'm also trying to wrap up my Phantom of the Opera project. It's supposed to be this five-part series, but we've had some trouble getting it launched every day. Opening Night is Friday, and... you know, I'm just about ready to dot my i's and cross my t's on this one. It's been months with this picture story.

The mundane things going on around here? Let's see. The state of the apartment and its overall cleanliness began to resemble that of medieval squalor. We conquered Mt. Laundry on Sunday. My plan was just to vacuum and dust today, but last night Bella peed in the middle of our bed. Yeah. That's a new one. She's 8. She had just been outside and did her business. This is not a housebreaking issue. I think that Joel is maybe not the only one in the household to feel displeasure at my long work hours. Message received. She got a lot of attention today, and I did more laundry. I made King Crab Legs for dinner.

See? Boring.

In other news, happy birthday to my sister! :) "You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older! And now you're even older! And now you're even older! You're older than you've ever been and now you're even older! And now you're older still!" I think she's sorry she taught me that.

Joel and I made a few more honeymoon plans. We're going to Australia, by the way. We're flying into Sydney and spending a few nights there. One of my client brides' has a brother living in Sydney, and he's already generously offered to show us around a bit when we're there.

Then we're flying to Ayers Rock, the giant monolith in the middle of the desert. We're camping in the National Park there, then driving to Coober Pedy, an opal mining town in the middle of nowhere, pop. 3,000. It's so hot there that people live underground. Joel got my engagement ring from a miner there, and his wife invited us to dinner. We're staying in a B&B that used to be an underground mine shaft. After that, we're driving back to Ayers Rock through some of the best possible nature photography landscapes in the Outback.

Then we fly to Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. We're staying at the Mango Lagoon Resort for a few days of more typical honeymoon-type accommodations, as opposed to the backpacker/road trip plan we'll be on the rest of the time. We'll be there in the off-season, so we got a great deal.

So let's recap: Sad story. Boring work update. Dog pee. Happy Birthday, Manda! Mango Lagoon Resort! Mango, mango, mango-mango-mango! Yup. Still funny a year later.

I can't wait to see the comments on this one...