16 September 2009


you know those people that start blogs and then never actually post blogs? i've apparently become one of them. it's been close to a month and a half since my last post. life has been good during that time... vacation to illinois / wisconsin, out-of-town visitors (trish and george): see kb's blog for a recap.

then andi and beth came into town, and we went to the jemez hot springs (nearly died getting there), spent time cooking (and eating), shopping, and playing putt putt. it's nice to have out-of-town guests who re-introduce you to the place you've been living for years.

we had a labor day barbeque and poker game with some good friends...

claudia and michelle are two of my favorite people in albuquerque. kb and i have decided to move out of abq in the spring, which most of you probably know already. it's time. next st. patrick's day will mark my 6th year in new mexico. when i first moved out here, i was fresh out of college, 22 years old. it was tough at first, feeling alone in a foreign place, but i met some good friends early on, and they helped me through the dark years of a bad relationship. now, i feel happier than i've ever been... it seems like i went through what i did to come out on the other side whole, and strong, and open to the first healthy relationship i've probably ever had. plus, i got a master's degree. bonus! all told, my albuquerque chapter is over, and now, i'm getting ready for a move to another totally foreign place (that is COLD!). this time, it's not out of desperation or a lack of options, but an excited and hopeful step forward.

my 28th birthday this past saturday reminded me how much i've changed since i moved out here. i have always been a diva on my birthday, always had ridiculously high expectations (that set me up for disappointment) and needed big parties and friends and who knows what to be happy. well, this year, i woke up to a cold on saturday. i had to cancel our plans to go out for casual drinks with friends and stay home sick. despite feeling like crap, it was one of the best birthdays i have had.

being sick forced me to relax, and i had no expectations. kb was so sweet to me, and we spent the day reading outside on a blanket, watching a couple episodes of dexter, cooking chicken soup and just spending time together. i opened presents from my mom and my aunt, and got a silly amount of pleasure from people's facebook wishes.

perhaps my favorite part was having birthday candles in my rainbow sherbert (and kb having one in her coffee ice cream). i had three candles, but just made one wish and multiplied it by three. kb made a wish because i really wanted her to have a candle too; it felt right =)

just a few years ago, i was forcing everyone present (everyone!) to take jager shots in my honor, and this year, i was happier than ever to spend the day in pajamas. kb's mom says it's maturity, which i find flattering, but i'm not sure that's it. i'm starting to avoid setting specific — and high — expectations for holidays like new year's, birthdays, anniversaries. starting to believe that planning isn't always the way to go, and sometimes a quiet or unexpected celebration is better than a blowout party. the best moments can't be planned.

on my birthday two years ago, i was staying on abbie's couch, at the bitter end of an abusive three-year relationship. i was on top of the world because i was free, despite using the trunk of my car as a closet and a book shelf. eight or ten of us went out to gecko's for drinks, and this girl from my brand new grad school cohort showed up.... the (i assumed) straight girl who was looking super hot. she gave me a sweet birthday letter (which i read in the bathroom) and i didn't give it much thought after that. it was a good night, all-in-all, and when we got back to abbie and candace's house, they said, that girl has a crush on you! no way, i said, she's just a straight girl from school. i showed them her letter, though, and they were convinced. i wasn't. but a couple of nights later, she made it very obvious...

so, my birthday signifies something different to me now. an anniversary of sorts, of a new start to my life, of a new and beautiful beginning that doesn't require the roller coaster of expectations and disappointments because it is perfect... not flawless, but perfect in that i wouldn't change a thing.

with love! //k

06 August 2009

cha cha cha!

tonight, katie and i went to our first ballroom dance lesson. it was incredible! who knew?! i have not taken a dance class since i was probably four. we learned some basic steps of the cha cha cha from a fabulous instructor named rosa at emotions in motion. i met rosa when she came to the under 21 group where i’m a facilitator, to show the kids how to dance the merengue. i was petrified before we went tonight… and for at least the first fifteen minutes, blushing and jittery. i felt like a teenager on stage at a talent show, but without a talent… so shy, and a bit of a joker. there were two other couples there, on this ladies’ only night. one clearly lesbian couple, and two older women named harriett and lucille, who i think were straight. so we were the youngest couple there by probably 30 years. we all wore traffic cone orange nametags. being completely sober and dancing in a brightly-lit room, in front of a mirror (and other people) is certainly different for me! wow.

it was my idea to start going to these dance lessons. i am not a dancer; i’m an athlete. katie b. is the dancer, yet i didn’t want to go for her, but for me. for both of us really, but it wasn’t some sacrifice i was making for her. i knew i would love it, and lately, i’ve been seeking activities that are far outside of my comfort zone. interactive, creative, different things that make me feel better, and make me a better person.

i’ll tell you the best part, though: that i am the leader. so katie is the better dancer, the one who has actually taken dance classes before, and i am the one leading her. i bring her body toward mine or away, lead her into a turn and bring her back. i use my strength to keep us tight, keep us going in the right direction. it felt so good! to be in control, to be in charge, to lead in a way that makes it easy to follow, which means, in part, not to have spaghetti arms, as katie pointed out.

i never thought i would actually go to a dance class, nor did i ever imagine i would love it so much. incredible! i'm a little in shock, and i wish kb felt better so we could be cha-cha-ing around the living room right now! i assumed it would just be something to laugh about because i would be terrible, stepping on katie’s feet, losing the beat. but i wasn’t, somehow! i got it, and we weren’t stumbling or fumbling. we got it. of course, it was basic and it was slow (that’s what rosa said, but it seemed wicked fast to me!). i felt so confident and physically good after we got out. i am excited that this is going to be a part of my life, and my relationship… and as cheesy as it might sound, i really think that the physical decision-making, the kinetic learning and the dynamic interaction that happens while we’re dancing can’t help but spill over into the rest of my (and our) life!

now I’ll probably dream in one-two-cha-cha-chas…!

hawking beer in the sun...

albuquerque is hot. really, really hot. the “dry heat” that people who live in humid climates say is so much better than the muggy, damp summer weather is still HOT! and it isn’t arizona, but this 100 degree weather for days with no promise of rain is oppressive beyond belief. the plants can’t get enough water, the a/c can’t cool the pre-heated car down, the shade is even unbearable. you can’t escape it. (UPDATE: it actually rained for a hot second this afternoon, contradicting my blog before i could even put it up!)

sometimes i feel like i might actually be cooking… which is why i wanted to see if i could fry an egg on the hood of my car. well, the actual reason it occurred to me was that i came home one day to find a plastic toy egg, sunny side up, in the driveway.

not on the edge or the sidewalk, but almost up by the house. either the universe was confirming that it was indeed really, really flipping hot, or maybe the kids across the street were playing house in front of our house. anyway, the real egg-cooking experiment failed tragically, but more on that later, because i’m going to give it another shot.

i’m surprised i didn’t get heat stroke yesterday. aside from my full-time, pay-the-bills job, i hawk beer at all of the journal pavilion concerts. which means that i carry 30 16-ounce beers and two bags of ice and walk up and down the lawn selling people $9 refreshments. to give you an idea how hot it was, i literally drank a gallon of water during those five hours, and didn’t pee once. not once! and i always have to pee! working these concerts is always an adventure. i don’t really need the extra money, but it is incredibly satisfying to work so physically hard. it’s also satisfying to know that i’m really, really good at it. every few shows, a girl shows up, convinced she can do it, and quits within twenty minutes because she can’t carry an unwieldy 60 pounds on her back and navigate the rowdy lawn crowds. so it’s me and a bunch of guys, who might be bigger or look stronger, but can’t haul ass like i can, and never sell as much as i do. so many customers last night told me that my beers were colder than the last guy’s, and that i actually poured it right (how hard is it to pour a beer? really, how hard?).

i realize i sound cocky. i so rarely feel that way. but this is a job where i feel like a warrior, a bad ass. so maybe i’m doing the work of a 19-year-old boy, but i don’t care. i’m a roving bartender, developing relationships with people, making small talk, having fun, all while doing an intense, almost non-stop workout. roaming through the crowds carrying a ton of beer, and hundreds of dollars in cash. i’ve been punched, propositioned, groped, abused, but in a way that i feel completely in control somehow. i don’t take any shit from anyone; if anything, i give it right back. people try to push me around, but i don’t let them; i feel so strong, in such a position of power (despite the ridiculousness of the job!)

last night, two different people told me i wasn’t old enough to be serving beer. sweet! i turn 28 next month, and people think i’m 18?! whoa. one of those people was only 2 years older than me, and the other was a hairy trucker guy with his hairy trucker guy wife who told me i was cute and all, but not old enough. huh? last year, i was always coming home from shows, telling katie stories about being hit on, told i was cute or hot… this year, not so much. it’s a little worrisome… and last night, it was just the trucker guy. weird!

i don’t mind the whistles, the people who yell “beer guy!” “beer boy!” “beer man!” “hey you!” i ignore and avoid the people who are jerks, and i have fun with the people who are cool. i am constantly amazed at the generosity people show me with tips. last night, i made $47 just in tips, selling $9 buds and bud lights! i do save people the trip, the wait in line, and give them the coldest beer in the whole venue. but still, that means $20 for two bud lights. crazy. when i set that bucket full of ice and beer down, people can hear how heavy it is. they give me props… and dollar bills.

usually i have crazy stories… but the crue fest last night was relatively tame, for me at least. well, there was a ten-minute hailstorm that didn’t manage to puncture the heat, but did drench us all, and made those already smelly sweaty people even smellier. it hailed sideways. hard; it hurt. i kept getting hail in my ears. that’s a funny feeling.

02 August 2009

sunday afternoon camera musings...

so my quest for the handmade, the long way, the “traditional” process has perhaps been thwarted today. yesterday, i took a roll of black and white pictures with my dad’s old canon ae-1 camera. it’s beautiful.

and i don’t really know how to use it. i needed the manual to figure out how to load the film, and flipping through it made me realize that if pictures came out well, it would be a fluke, because with a manual camera, you really do have control over so many parts of the picture-taking process. and apparently cameras have diaphragms. who knew?

so i took 24 pictures... some of a stunning kb...

...(well, she took a few too!)

...and got them developed today. at walgreens. and i found out that the film is not even true black and white film because it has to be processed in color chemicals. boo.

what i want is for someone to teach me how to use that camera. i don’t want to read a book about it and experiment on my own, become self-taught. nope. i want someone to show me how to use this machine. and i want to develop the pictures myself in a darkroom, not drop it off at a drug store to be run through a machine. i want control of the process; i want to know how to work the medium.

i figured that an intro photo class at UNM would be a good place to start, right? well, aj told me today that all of those intro classes are digital, that they don’t work with manual cameras anymore or use a darkroom. there might be a special “old fashioned” class for that in the future.

i long for those old methods. sure, i primarily write on a computer, for grad school, at work, and at home, but i also write letters and make art on my manual typewriters. i value the process of putting the word on paper. i like how the typewriter key stamps an inked impression onto the paper, how the bell rings to remind you to return the carriage. we type virtual words on virtual pieces of paper that we can then send to a printer to make tangible. i’m certainly not a technophobe, or a luddite, but i believe that the process itself is important, and beautiful.

clearly, if you take a typing class now, you sit in front of a computer, not a typewriter, and there are important reasons for that. writing for business, for school, for SPEED… of course on a computer! but for art? which brings me back to the disappointing news about the photo class. i love actually using typewriters; so do many old men. but manual cameras and darkroom developing… aren't those less obscure? isn’t that process central for an artist?

i know i’m searching for some kind of “purity” of process, or “traditional” method that doesn’t really exist. i have romantic notions of the authentic that i know i have invented or inherited, but still don’t want to abandon. i’m looking at my pictures right now, in prints and on a cd, and i’m adjusting the levels, increasing or decreasing the exposure, digitally playing with them so they look good, because on their own, most of them don’t! but i feel guilty as i do, as though i’m undermining their integrity somehow. photos are always manipulated realities, whether they are digitally or manually altered, or left entirely alone. we use them to represent truth, to serve as evidence, but they are moments without context, images loaded with meaning, ready to be admired, interpreted, framed, cherished or discarded. so why the attachment to the old ways, why the insistence on taking photos that are somehow more real? there is at least a sense of permanency with film – you can’t take a picture, hate it, delete it, retake it (ad nauseam). you don’t know what a picture looks like until you develop it. and it’s not contained on a tiny photo card, but imprinted on a roll of film, as type-written words on a page can’t be deleted or moved around at will. the process matters. so do the ingredients.

ANYWAY, i’m off to do yardwork during the hottest part of the day. seems like a good idea. and as soon as kb gets home from her new job, we’re going to find out if it’s hot enough in albuquerque today to fry an egg on the hood of my car. i think it is! stay tuned…

01 August 2009

questionable produce and excessive snack purchases

now everything i see wants to be a blog post. it's been a lazy saturday for me, but we've had so many productive ones that maybe this is a needed change!

mainly, i just wanted to discuss some anxiety i've been having about two snack-related problems. last week, i was intent on learning web design, but before taking a class, i wanted to read one of those dummies books.

so i get one on amazon, while i'm sitting at work, munching on pirate's booty (popcorn-like stuff i was recently introduced to) and trying to figure out what i should get from amazon to qualify for free shipping. and i think... hmm, this pirate's booty is delicious, and kb likes it... why don't i get that? i can never resist that free super saver shipping. oy.

have you ever ordered food from amazon? oh lord. well, i hadn't, and 12 bags sounded like a good idea. after i ordered it, i kind of wanted to keep it a surprise, because i thought it was a really weird thing to buy, and it would be funny if the mailman handed an unsuspecting kb this huge box of snacks. i'm weird. but i broke down and told her about it, and she confirmed that i'm really weird and then told me she didn't even like that stuff! so now, i need some people to come over and eat snacks with me (for some reason, it's now totally unappealing to me too).

why do i care? i'm not sure. i've been a little high-strung lately!

and then the other snack-related problem. we bought (my idea) this seedless watermelon a month and a half ago before having a bbq, and never used it. i don't really like watermelon, nor does kb, and it's been a month and a half. is it still good? it seems good; it's still firm. we've been moving it around the house because it's always in the way, and i can't throw it away because it's 5 pounds of possibly good watermelon. could i give it to someone? who would want it? "hey, here's a really old, questionably good watermelon. good luck!"

i'll just put it out there: if you want this beautiful specimen... send me an email. i will deliver it personally.

sigh. i need to relax!

popping the blog cherry

so this is the obligatory first blog post... the explanation of why the blog, what to expect from the blog (or what not to), some kind of introduction of myself to readers who probably already know me. i've recently started writing again. after two years of academic immersion, i had forgotten how good it feels to write just for myself. which is typically what i do... i write something, a piece of memoir, maybe a prose poem, or an anecdote, words that feel good to write... and then read it to kb or a friend, or to myself, for the satisfaction of having an audience.

i suppose a blog is an extension of that. a chance to share the writing that feels good for me to get out, and interact with people in a very techy, post-modern sort of way. i have resisted blogging in the past because i didn't think anyone would care to read it, and frankly, i didn't think i would particularly care to write it. plus, i work in front of a computer 8 hours a day (well, for the whole workday, however long that is), so the last thing i want to do in my off-time is look at a computer screen.

but the inadvertant peer pressure from a few key people-turned-bloggers, my girlfriend, a friend in d.c., one in ohio, and a guy partially named olas in albuquerque, has me feeling somewhat left out. so here goes. blog time.

a couple of things:

i've turned into a gardener fairly recently, and i'm good at it (it's true!). see the hand-made garden below:

and some delicious things have come out of this garden so far this summer...

the title of my blog owes to my love of the process of creating things by hand, whether forgoing pre-made ingredients, growing my own produce, taking photos with a manual camera or writing on a typewriter.

at the root of this blogging endeavor for me is the very urgent need for creative expression. i'm paying the bills, and holding out for the next year in an office job that is threatening to steal my spirit. but don't worry, this blog won't be a therapy session... it will be a space for me to remember what and who i love, and if you (whoever you are) get something out of reading it, all the better.