Saturday, May 31, 2008

Flower Dog.... tired of helping cut out placecards.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

All better!

I actually left work early, got my dentist to call in a prescription for Vicodin and spent the rest of my evening in lessening amounts of pain. And frankly, I spent it, well... a little high. When I woke up this morning, I no longer wished to remove my teeth with a set of pliers. It's all good.

I'm starting to pull together the wording for the ceremony. Is it bad that my favorite wedding poem so far is from "Sex and the City"?

"His hello was the end of her endings
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
His hand would be hers to hold forever
His forever was as simple as her smile
He said she was what was missing
She said instantly she knew
She was a question to be answered
And his answer was “I do.”

-Sara Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh, Hell's Bells

I just went to the dentist for professional teeth-whitening, like the kind they do on Ten Years Younger or Extreme Makeover. Um, did anyone of you know that this hurts like a bitch? Because I did not.

Basically, it stimulates the nerves in the teeth, and I'm getting these "twinges" that hurt so much that they make my mouth water and cause me to involuntarily pound my fist into my thigh. My dentist was truly wonderful, truly sensitive and helpful. (Well, except for him not explaining that this could happen ahead of time, really.)

Apparently, this is rare. I am special! I'm like one of the tiny green aliens in Toy Story at the pizza arcade! Ooooo! The Claw! I have been chooosen!

I'm taking Advil like it's going out of style. I can see a difference in the brightness already, and I'm sure I'll be pleased later. Muc later. Right now I have to find a way to go to work without terrifying the rest of the newsroom as I involuntary pound on my desk for no discernible reason (to them) when my teeth hurt.

What? Oh, don't mind me. I'm just the drooling photographer who's hitting her desk today. Carry on!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh, hey, you know what sucks?

Going to try on my wedding dress, all purty and just delivered to the store, and finding that it's kind of... the wrong dress. I think.

Each dress is made to order, designed to fit your measurements and specifications. The first thing I noticed when the dress came out of the bag was that it had a train. I had requested no train. Then it wouldn't zip, which sucked, because I have been working really, really hard to stay the same size. We took it off, measured me again, double-checked the purchase order, and found my measurements are exactly the same. (breathes sigh of relief). Then we measured the dress and found the circumference of the bustline was five inches smaller than my measuremant and the number on the purchase order.

HA! HA HA HA- hurk! *splat.*


The ladies at the store got on the phone and went very politely but firmly BANANAS on my behalf. The most likely scenario is that there is a woman in a dressing room somewhere going, "Wow! I lost a lot of weight in my boobs! That's weird, my bra size is the, wasn't this supposed to have a chapel-length train?!?!"

The sales rep for the designer swore on a stack of Bibles that there would be a replacement dress at the store in two weeks.

So... that was fun!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Did you send me chocolate?

I've been meaning to ask... did any of you send me chocolate? It arrived shortly after my birthday with a note about seeing them on Martha Stewart and thinking they looked yummy. They are dark chocolate-covered caramels. There was no name with the note! Whom should I thank? :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weekend Whirlwind

Joel and I traveled to PA this weekend for Alissa's graduation and bridal shower.

We had perfect graduation weather. Not too hot, not too cold. I am so, so proud of Alissa for completing her doctorate degree. She earned this degree tackling one paper, one course, one client, one internship/placement/post-doc at a time. She's at the top of her game, headed for the top of her field, and considering I've known her since the days of knock hockey and hot dog roasts 23 years ago, sometimes I'm just in awe.

Alissa's bridesmaids did an amazing job with the shower, including yummy infusion jars of tea and sangria and multiple courses of cookies. Once again, my sister worked her bow hat magic.

And no weekend with mah sisterfriends is complete without countless silly pictures of Gwen being Top Model fierce, Kelly pointing at things, and me passing my camera off to Joel to document that I do, in fact, exist and can be captured in photographic evidence.

You can see slideshows from graduation here and the shower here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Amy and Rafael: Sneak Preview (Inspeccion Previo de Chivato)

For those of you just joining us to view the first photographs from Amy and Rafael's wedding, welcome! Bienvenidos, amigos and familia de Rafael y Amy!

My day began with the groom. El dia commenzo con el novio.

The bridesmaids each wore completely different dresses, in colors that coordinate with their birthstones. Las damas se vestia in colores differentes. Los colores de sus vestidos concordaban con piedras preciosas que corresponde a la fecha de nacimiento.

Oscar, Amy's beloved and elderly dog, completely stole my heart. El perro viejo and querido de la family de Amy me capturo el corazon.

The bride wore her mom's wedding veil, so she was especially emotional when she arranged her blusher before the ceremony. La novia vestia el velo de su madre, asi el momento cuando ella cubrio antes de la ceremonia fue muy emocional.

Two very different views of the bride's entrance... Dos vistas diferentes de la entrada de la novia...

After the ceremony, the day was a blur of celebration. Despues de la ceremonia, el dia era un celebracion sin parar.

Finally, I give you my favorite photo of all. Finalmente, esto foto es mi favorito, sin duda.

Amy and Rafael, may the power of your love continue to sweep you off your feet. Thanks for letting me be a part of your wedding day!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

You know you take your job too seriously when... find yourself fighting back tears when a restaurant manager gets in your face about whether or not you can cut a burrito in half for a food shoot.

In my defense, there were mind-boggling amounts of douchebaggery goin' on there that had nothing to do with MY presence this particular afternoon, but damn.. I will NOT cry over a burrito. Jesus.

Do I need a vacation? I think I need a vacation.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"She keeps her own name, m*therf*ckers!"

So... today is my birthday. I'm 29. It has me feeling a little pensive (Who, me? Drastically over-thinking one of life's ordinary events as a search for a Deeper Meaning? Really? You don't say! ;)

But the impending wedding has me thinking a lot lately about, well, marriage. This is sort of heightened right now with the sale of Nanny's house, watching my parents care for *their* elderly parents, seeing them trying to support each other through the process of managing both my grandmothers' care.

Through all the planning for August 9th, which has been really quite fun, actually, I've been thinking a lot about marriage, about what it means to be a "wife," and that shift in identity. Yeah, I know I'll still be me. I know my day-to-day life won't change much when we get back from the honeymoon. But...

I feel like this is sort of my last birthday as just me, as just Angela Gaul.

My mom asked me last week what, exactly, am I doing about my name. I will always be Angela Gaul in print. I've been publishing for a decade now with that byline. To take on only Joel's last name now would be to erase a career, defined not only by the power of story-telling images but also by that tiny photo credit underneath those images.

If you google my first and last name, you get 378,000 hits. A lot of them are me. There is a woman trying to arrange meet-ups for something called MAM in Texas, which is not me, but a lot of the hits lead you to my work. If you google Photo by Angela Gaul, you get 91,000 hits- which with a few glaring exceptions- are all me. And if you search my name with AP Photo.. 24,000 hits. Yup. All me. There's no way I'm erasing that virtual resume.

I plan to hyphenate in so-called real life, and I had a tiny taste of what that will be like starting not long ago. We switched to a newer online archiving system at work, which will require an additional character in the file names. We always incorporate the date and our initials, and since I needed one more character anyway, I went ahead and added a J to my initials: ALGJ. I like it. I'm keeping my middle name. I don't care. I like my middle name, too. It's mine, I'm keeping it.

I've also decided I don't want to be the anal-retentive and hypothetical, future mom in the neighborhood who corrects her friends' kids. If they called me Mrs. Jackel, eh... Whatevs. I'm not going to tsk and say, "It's, Ms. GAUL-Jackel to you."

But then... something came in the mail yesterday. My in-laws have apparently signed me up for the Charlie Brown Steakhouse Handshake Club, which entitles me to a FREE gift on my birthday! All I have to do ask my server and "they will present you with your own Membership Card on the spot!" Hoo-ray. I belong. Hoo-ray.

Well, Angie Jackel belongs, anyway. Angie Jackel. Happy birthday to her, I guess.

Anyway,the restaurant flyer is hanging on the fridge with a NOW magnet, and every time I walk by it, I think of this hilarious YouTube tribute to Ms. Pac-Man that Alissa showed me a few weeks ago: "She keeps her own name, m*therf*ckers!"

She keeps her own name, indeed.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

One door closing...

This afternoon, my parents sat across the table from an exuberant young couple and signed over the deed to Nanny's house. I'm not gonna lie; I'm so sad. I know my parents' are, too. It was time, though.

Nanny- my paternal grandmother, one of my biggest fans- is still with us, still very much alive. She's in a nursing home now. She has been for almost three years. She doesn't love it... Who would? As nursing homes go, it's pleasant. Nanny had a vibrant social life, for as long as anyone can remember. She started working in her family's beauty shop when she was 15. She's always been surrounded by chatter and life: four sisters and a brother, the ladies at the beauty parlor, a long happy marriage, my dad and eight nieces and nephews, the church ladies, her diner buddies, me and Amanda and our friends.*

*Gwen recently wrote a beautiful post about the scenes she hopes pass before her eyes when she dies. Watching Christmas specials on Nanny's bed made the Greatest Hits list. Me, too, Gwennie. Me, too.

Actually, Nanny has a social life at the nursing home, too. My dad visits every day during the week, and he's become somewhat of a celebrity in the dining hall. Nanny has her pinochle opponent who is 101 or something, and her chocolate dealer. The nutrition staff instituted some kind of "Healthy Eating!" campaign, which the elderly residents hate. Who's it going to hurt if they get extra dessert? They're 90! One of the old guys who lives in his own condo in the assisted living village has a deal with one of the teenagers who delivers from a nearby pizza place. He orders a pizza, and for an extra large tip, asks the pizza guy to stop at a convenience store on his way and bring him candy. The other residents place their orders ahead of time. Did you think I was kidding when I called him the chocolate dealer? I so wasn't kidding.

Anyway, I saw Nanny four days ago. She's fine, excited about the wedding, thrilled to see photos of The Dress for the first time, hanging onto details about flowers and fabrics. She's always been a good sport about looking at my photography. I always take my laptop and share my latest wedding, biggest news stories, nature trips, and artistic experiments. She watched all the videos from my Phantom project and told me all about seeing the movie version in the theatre in the 1940s. She remembered who played the lead role, how scared she was when they showed the Phantom without his mask. She's all there, all the memories and personality and love.

But her house is gone now, sold to a young married couple who looked my parents in the eyes at settlement today and swore they would fill it with more happy memories. I knew this was coming. It was time.

When it first became apparent that Nanny would have to have fulltime care, that in-home health aides weren't working out, that the passing of time was taking its toll, I went through the house and photographed everything, unchanged. I preserved each room in pictures.

I made three memory boxes: one for me, my sister, and my parents. I recorded interviews with members of the family talking about the place, about Move-In Day in 1953, holidays and celebrations. I recorded the metal-on-cement sound of the rolling cushions on the finished basement floor (It's all fun and games until somebody cracks their head on the coffee table!), the sounds of my own footsteps climbing the stairs, the creak of the front door, my sister and me singing Christmas carols. I burned it all onto a CD and added a copy to every memory box.

I filled them with trinkets that Meant Something: matchbooks from my parents' wedding and Nanny and Pop-Pop's 25th anniversary party, poker chips and playing cards bent from years of shuffling with the words "Make checks out to [Pop-Pop's First and Last Name]" on the back. I bought tiny glass vials and decanted a small amount of Nanny's signature perfume and Pop-Pop's cologne. I added Andes mints chocolates and a small container of uncooked pasta to each.

I carefully cut small swatches of fabric from an unseeable part of the upholstered chair in the lliving room where we always posed for pictures growing up. I tucked in hand towels that had long since absorbed the otherwise indescribable soupy, homey smell of the place. I took the black ceramic swan statue whose neck Pop-Pop had to SupergIue back on after one of my plastic jellies flew off and decapitated it from its place on the mantel when I was 5. (Hey, it wasn't my idea to pretend to be Rockettes and form a kick line, AMANDA). Heh. ;) I took the metal Mickey Mouse bank, and the holy water container shaped like the Virgin Mary. (Her blue plastic crown is actually a cap that twists off when you need to bless things.)

This is the house where my dad took my mom when they were first dating. She met her future in-laws for the first time after tripping down some steps and skinning her knees. They were close to the house, so my dad took her there for Bactine and Band-Aids. This is the house whose address I learned to recite in kindergarten right after my own, the second phone number I ever memorized.

This is where I spent countless sick days in elementary school, eating pastina soup and watching The Price is Right and the Munsters if Nanny was preoccupied. She thought it was too scary, but Pop-Pop let me get away with it. This is the setting for the most magical Christmas Eves and countless summer BBQs. There's a steep embankment in the backyard that's perfect for rolling, though my dad always hated mowing the 45-degree angle in spiky golf shoes.

If Nanny weren't still with us, selling her home would have been emotionally treacherous. Her presence is infused in every room. If I couldn't literally pick up the phone and call her right now (It's 2:00 a.m., so I won't but I could), losing that sanctuary and connection to her would be downright heartbreaking.

But the truth is...

We still have Nanny. We have each other. The soul of our family isn't in there. Right now, I could stand up, walk to my memory box and smell the house again. I could play the CD. I can feel the texture of the chair, listen to the sounds of Christmas Eve. I can literally breathe it all in again.

Just as when we die, and our body becomes a mere shell of what once held us, the physical structure of 1747 Billview Drive is only a husk. It's just something that held us all for a while, albeit a long while: seven months shy of 55 years, to be precise.

A window to the past is closing for us, but for one young couple, the front door is opening... I wonder how long it will take them to figure out that humidity makes it stick, and sometimes on summer days you really have to put some oomph into it or go through the garage.