Thursday, February 25, 2010

Clicky, clicky, whee!

I'm trying to dust off this blog. (The keyword here being "trying".) So, in lieu of words, I'm totally going to picspam y'all with some of the photos I've taken in the last 2 years. Some of these are the most viewed (and sometimes I wonder, "why?") and some of these are just favourites of mine because ... well, because.

Without further ado, images.

(And, damn. I meant to pick, like, 10. Uhm, not so much.)

Congress Created Dust Bowl
This image, by far, has received the most views on my Flickr stream.

This is a close third. (From the Nomeansno show at The Knitting Factory.)

Same show, and I think my favourite from the night.

I don't know why, but I think this? I love.

This one just makes me giggle, on so many levels. (You had to be there.)

One of my nearest and dearest friends. I think I like this one so much because there is just so much of *her* in the eyes.

This weekend was full of so much joy, and happiness, and tears. And it was pretty much summed up when Becca walked down the aisle, with her black parasol, and laughed. And then? Another one of my best friends, her now-husband, cried at the sight of her.

I am happy, nay, joyful, to see that a dance troupe that I was a co-founder of is still alive and kicking.

I think I love this one because G looks *so.damn.serious*. Personally, I think he was trying to not faint.

Again, alive and kicking.

t[df] dancing goodbye
This one I like, and makes me tear-up every time, because the night this photo was taken was at a very sad event. But I caught Sarah and her partner in a moment of pure bliss, and love. Dancing.

Another one of my nearest and dearest friends.

What can I say? I'm a fan of blue.

The colours! The light! (And, dude, he's just purdy.)

High-flying ass. (Both the shot, and the man. MUAH Mish. Love you, mean it.)

I love reflections.

Mmm, candles.

I love the sand. How you can create something right there, in the moment, and then erase it.

The hair!

Random bits of jewelry, on a box.

Yeah. I do the same thing.

Flying hair!

I r not amuzed. Feedz me, beeotch.

YAY! Blue!

Dancing feet ...

I guess I love black and white. (And it is also forgiving of many mistakes.)

What can I say? I like cemeteries.

Red, White, and ... BLUE!

Walking, walking, walking ...

More hair!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pitter patter, pitter patter

Drip, drip, drip.
I hear it, once again.

In each falling drop.
It is felt.

“Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain …”

Drip, drip, drip.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter.


“ … let me be alone again …”

“Do you want more rice, or more beans?”

One year, three years, ten years, later …

… that is the question that Dad asks me.

Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.

The flank steak juices fall.
Drip, drip, fzzz.

“Do you want more rice, or more beans?”
“ … but little does she know that when she left that day, she took my heart …”


Stepping out of my room I smell it again.

Fat, rendering. Juicy, on the grill.

Drip, drip, drip.
Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.

A broken man, flipping sustenance on the grill for his broken girl.

The smell tempts me.

I think it tempts you too …
“Ann Marie, you need to eat.” (I think he is telling me I need to live.)

“Yeah, I guess I am hungry.” (I try to tell him the same.)

Bleary eyed, and sad, you turn to me, facing away from the grill.

“Would you like seconds?” (I think you are trying to say, “I love you”.)

“Yes. I would. Thank you.” (I think I am trying to say, “I love you” back.)

We look at each other, hiding emotions. Eyes and hearts hidden. You scrape the grill, I scrape the plate. And we continue on, silent in our suffering. Forks scraping our plates, saying what we cannot say to each other.

Over the weekend, we listen to music, forgetting our unspoken “grill” conversation.

You turn up the volume dial on the radio.

“ … looking for a brand new start …”

Each of us smile, finally making eye contact. And then go back to our plates, knives and forks digging in.

Drip, drip, drip.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter.

I sit, alone, in my room. As you do, in your own.

“ … rain, please tell me now, does that seem fair …”

Listening. Listening to the “drip-drip” of the rain.

Stepping out of my room, I flash back.
Dinners cooked.

Stepping out of your room, you flash back.
Dinners cooked.

Our eyes meet, and we turn back … heads bowed down.

… pitter-patter, pitter-patter …”

The pitter is the patter of steak, and fat …

… falling to the coals.

Pitter … the scrape of a knife on the plate.

Patter … the throwing of that same knife on a plate.

Pitter-patter … the sound of loss, and anger, being thrown at each other across dinner.

Silent, in our stares. Silent …

… in our silence.

In our blame.

Pitter …

Patter …


I step out of my room, in 2010, and …

I flash back.

Flash back to dinner.

Drip, drip, drip.

The smell of water.
The hiss of meat in the oven.

The sound of rain.
The feeling of drops on the roof.

Both say,
“Hiss, hiss, hiss.”

Both carry with them a smell.
A memory.

Pitter …

Cutlery, falling …

Patter …

Tears, falling …

Pitter …

Tears, falling …

Patter …

Cutlery, falling …


Pitter, patter.

Pitter, patter.

Tears and cutlery have been tossed aside.

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain.

For many years, all I felt was sadness. But now? I get it.

A parent, and even a child, can feel the same pain. The same loss.


What is it telling you?


Friday, November 6, 2009

Searching for our song

You terrify me.
(Please don't break my heart.)

There is so much more I could show you; that I could give you.
(Please don't break my heart.)

But ...
... I am afraid.

Afraid of showing that much to you. Of giving that much to you. I want to. I do.
(And if I do? Please, don't break my heart.)

When I roll over and show you my most vulnerable parts, will you embrace them, or eviscerate them?
(Please don't break my heart.)

But ...
... I am afraid.


I wrote the above because I am feeling raw, and vulnerable. And that vulnerability draws me to write really bad poetry. (If you need an example, please read the above.)

Tonight I curled up on my bed with So You Think You Can Dance, Chinese food delivery, and IM conversations. Any one of the preceding would make me do a wigglesome dance of joy normally, but tonight? Even the combination of all three made me feel unsated. So … the show is over, food has been consumed, and conversations shut down. I still feel restless. What to do?

Oh, I know! Break out the notebook of a dead woman! Let’s see what she has to say …

So … here I sit, in a house that you helped buy, flipping through yellowed paper that was written on before the concept of this house was even realized, reading words that smell of thirty-year old smoke, written by a woman I can only hope to know. But never will.

Even though I am part her, and she is part me, I can only guess to her meaning.

All I have left are these faded words tossed on slips of paper (maybe haphazard, maybe intentional), saved in a chocolate covered, purse-sized notebook.

All I know is that those words, these words held in my hand, written a generation ago, and maybe written before I was even a thought, or a spark, speak to me.

“Though I must fight some battles alone,
I cannot live alone –
I am no longer a separate entity –

For I have come to know the joy of another.”

And …

“The most valuable gift we have to give is ourself. [sic]
And it is within the constant giving of ourself [sic] that happiness

as we desire it

evolves and becomes real.”


These are words, written down by a (now) dead woman. I think they are her own, but I cannot be sure. All I do know is that they touch me, deeply and movingly. And it makes me want her all the more, if just to vent to her. To babble at her. To reach out and touch her; to touch her arm or face or even hand. To grab that hand and bring her in to hug her to myself. To ask her what she meant, and what she was feeling, when she wrote those words down.

Since I can’t do that, I can only imagine, and construct, make-believe conversations. Conversations where I re-create puberty and do the whole, “but Moooooooooom! He said, and then I said, and then he said, and then SHE said, and then THEY said, and … *sob sob* … what does it mean?” (Insert the teenage angsty-voice of your choice here.)

And, since this is my fantasy, I pick up that chocolate notebook, brush off that asshole pubescent girl, and flip through the pages to figure out which question I am asking.

And then she answers with,

“As we listen to the music,
we learn and grow wiser
while searching for our own song
and the message it will sing.”

And then my (now no longer teenaged self) says, “Huh? What the hell are you talking about?” As I throw myself across that twin bed and beat my feet against that horrible flowered comforter, I will scream out, “you just don’t get it! You don’t understand!”

(My unknown question is still unknown. It’s just a feeling. And I still kinda hate that pubescent girl that I once was, once upon a time.)

As my teenaged self yells that invective, “you DON’T UNDERSTAND!” my adult self goes, “oh, shut it! I get it now.”

My adult self says, over the screaming meemies of my teenaged self, to my Mom, “oh, okay. I understand. I get it. You are telling me to listen to the music. Take what I hear and make it my own. March to the beat of my own drummer, right?”

The ghost mom tells the alive me, “yes, exactly.”

The ghost of the teenaged me says, “what the fuck are you talking about?”

But then ghost mom says, “if you see yourself as a rock, no one will touch you.”

The adult me just nods and grins, leaving the teenaged me rolling her eyes. And still kicking her heels in frustration. (Mom and I just giggle. I still kick my heels though.)

At some point Mom wrote down in that chocolate notebook,

“We feel, therefore we are.”

And to that? I say yes.

Nothing more than “yes” can I say in response.


It took me a long time to acknowledge feeling. And to even accept feeling. And to believe that feeling is … okay.

So. If we feel? (That is okay.)

If we feel, we are. (And that acceptance I’m still learning to embrace.)


“We are where love has come to live.”

Mom and Dad are both gone. When I grieve either one, without the other – when I miss Mom, without missing Dad; when I miss Dad, without missing Mom … – I feel guilt. I feel guilt that, at that moment; I am placing one above the other. But I’m not. Only now am I learning that I am grieving the passing of them both. The passing of them as Mom, as Dad. As a couple. And as my parents. And as individuals.

And through this weird fucked up process we call grief am I learning love. Learning love of family. Love of others. Love of this weird thing we call life. Most mostly?

I love Mom. I love Dad. Through them love has found a home within me; their love of each other, their love of me, and their love of … love.

Love lives within me, and therefore?

I love myself.

Otherwise known as “Love of self”.

The very first part that I wrote of, of terror … well, it could apply to friendships. Or to love. Or to my parents. Or yours. Or to yourself.

Actually, it applies to all. And to none.

Love can be terror.

“Reflection is the insight of tomorrow.”

When we reflect, mostly upon ourselves, we view the past. We fear the tomorrow. I say tear down the fear. Tear down the terror. Embrace the tomorrow, and all the weird reflection that comes of it.

As Mom would say …

“Life beats on”

“Live in the happiness with the knowledge that the world will grow a little better with you there.”


I say, “You terrify me.”

I think, “There is so much more I could show you; that I could give you.”

I say, think, and live, “But ... ... I am afraid.”

Taking a page from Mom and Dad, I say to myself, “deal”.

I answer, “But ... ... I am afraid.”


I embody not just Mom and Dad, but also Me, and I say this, and question this …

“What shall I do to love?

What shall I do to belive?

For once in my life I will listen to my parents. I will believe. And I will love.

I hope you can do the same.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A snapshot. Full of pee. Signifying nothing.

So …

I love my boys. I really do. Just over 2 years ago (has it really been that long?) a friend of mine calls me up saying that there were some youngins that were found behind a dumpster, starving and close to death.

She knew I was itching to fill the void that Ms. Liza left when she was unceremoniously a) attacked by a raccoon, b) fought a coyote, or c) lost a fight to a Toyota. (The jury is still pending on cause of death.) I mean, there I was – in my childhood home, sans cat, with only my (soon-to-be-ex, heretofore known as STBE), his dog, and another stray dog. The “guy” level was overwhelming, and the estrogen, after Liza left, was decidedly lacking.

I was a cat, living in a dog world. That shit had to change.

The call …

“Hey, I know this may be a bit too soon, since it’s only been a few months, but this lady at my shop found some kittens … ”

“Ohhhh, I’m not sure. I mean, so much is going on right now, I mean with the house, and the dogs, and the STBE … ”

“But they are SO cute! Here, listen.” (She holds the phone up to some really pathetic meows. My redheaded Virgo partner in crime? She fights dirty.)

“*sigh*. Fine. Let me put on my bra. And some pants. I’ll be there in an hour.”

The meeting …

After fighting Southern California heat, and traffic, in a roller-skate of a car with no air conditioning, I arrive in Riverside. Even if I didn’t bring home an orphan today, I was thankful to finally be out of my car, with some blessedly cool air drying the gallons of sweat dripping off my body.

“Finally! Come here, come here, come here! Just lookit doze cute widdle faces!”

Before I really had a chance to savor not being stuck on the 91, and before I could really grok that it wasn’t eleventy-thousand degrees, I was face to face with this:

Asmo. He's a pisser!

And then? This:

Argus? He's a pisser too!

I was helpless. HELPLESS! How could I say no? (God, I'm a sucker.)

Needless to say, these two little shitheads came home with me that day.

The ride …

These two little no-longer-orphans were now tucked away in a cat carrier on my passenger seat. I had both windows rolled down in my roller-skate, but it was still eleventy-billion degrees out. Their plaintive mews kept cutting into my heart.

“Oh, I know babies. It’s hot out. And you’re scared and trapped in a little box. I’m so sorry. Soon we’ll be home, where you’ll feel the ocean breeze. Kind of. So … tell me … what are your names?”

The bastards played coy with me, and didn’t tell me their names for a full week and a half.

They mewed, and I responded. Even though we bonded during that hellacious drive, they still refused to tell me their names. The whitish one? Just kept staring – he had these huge eyes, that took in everything. The grey one? Well, he stared as well, but it looked like he was plotting at the same time.

Ah, home …

We arrived home and the poor dogs were beside themselves. Kasha was just so excited to have new additions to the home that she just wanted to play. Her form of playing, though, was sniffing the little fuzzballs, bouncing their butts on her nose, and then rolling them around the house. And Teddy? Oh, poor guy … he took one sniff and hid. I guess he remembered some past experience with cats where his nose was decimated. (Can’t really say I blame the guy.)

So, after a week and a half, they deigned to tell me their names.

Argus and Asmo (short for Asmoedus).

They really do live up to their namesakes.

And then the fun began …

Apparently we bonded TOO well on the drive. By this time the STBE was taking turns sleeping on the couch, and in the bed. Soon, the couch was a better option. Why was this? Because the two teensy-tiny hellions were jealous. When he would sleep in bed, they would invariably pee on his head. And on his pillow. Pretty much anything that he touched while in bed? Yep. They peed on it.

One night? They even peed on my hair. (Hand to god. They PEED. ON. MY. HAIR.)

Payback …

They have never really understood the concept that only one thing can occupy one location at one time. Many times, I have gone to sit in “my” place on the couch, only to find it filled with a cat. And though I do lower myself slowly, in the hopes that they will realize their impending doom, they never move.

(I guess my ass isn’t as terrifying as I thought it was.)

Tonight, again, I almost sat on one of the cats.

This time it was different. It may have been the fact that I was really distracted. It may have been the fact that I didn’t pay attention to my surroundings. Or it may have been the fact that I really had to pee.

It wasn't until I felt fur on my rear that I realized one of the cats was drinking out of the toilet.

Thankfully, I was able to reverse course. But if I had peed on Argus' head? I probably would have felt bad.

Just a little. But it did give a whole new meaning to “wet pussy”.

Hmm, maybe I should have. I mean, turn about is fair play, no?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apart from? Or a part of?

I’ve been in, but not of, life.

Too much time spent on the hamster wheel …

… spinning …

… spinning …

spinning … but never moving forward.



I’ve been dreaming.

Wanting to shake up my dream tree. I've been shaking it, but nothing falls.

Dreaming of murderous mafia-zombies.

But sadly not dreaming of being an architect


I am in the world …


… apart from it, but not a part of it.


Too much time spent behind a book, or a lens. Experiencing life only through words on a screen or via second-hand phone conversations. Never first hand, except for momentary grasps. And stolen kisses.

Hiding behind closed doors, because my house is no longer my home. No longer my safe haven.

Living, but only through another’s view.



Maybe what I am trying to say to myself is this …

Self? Stop being a passive observer, and become an active participant in your own damn life.

Self? Stop doing a Phoenix impersonation and use that tinder to build something, instead of burning it down

Self? Remember. Remember that it really isn’t so bad. There is joy in the ordinary. 

Self? Don’t be so afraid of just reaching out and grabbing that hand. Screw your own internal censor.


(I mean, seriously? Self? Get off the wheel. It could be worse – you could have bifurcated paws.)


Get out there. And live.

(And here's a video. Just because it's been in my head for a few days. This song turned me onto the Buena Vista Social Club. The documentary is fantastic too ... rent it. Buy the CD.)



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fathers Day - 2009

As a woman I was always made to feel that Mother’s Day should be my focus. It wasn’t.

Allow me to amend that. It WAS … until I was 5.

Mom and me

After that, though?

It was Father’s Day. THAT was my focus.

Dad wearing tutu From then on, it was just you and me kid.

When I was 7, I gave you your first Mother’s Day card. It was one of the few, very few, times that my grandmother never second-guessed me. There are times that I wish(ed) she would have been that open in other instances …

At first you were confused. But the confusion turned to a smile once you saw what my second grade handwriting said. And then that smile turned to a grimace, a happy grimace nonetheless, as you tried to hide the tears.

Every year thereafter not only did I celebrate you on Father’s Day, you were also lauded on the day reserved for Mother’s. Because that’s what you were to me. Most people didn’t understand … “Uhm, yeah, okay … why are you getting a Mother’s Day card for your Dad?”

Because.” And really?

That’s all I could say.


You either got it, or you didn’t.

Many years after Mom died, I realized that not only were you “Dad”, you also had to fill the role of “Mom”. A small part of me understood that when I first unintentionally got you that first Mother’s Day card. I didn’t know what I was doing then, but later I did. And once I realized that? My heart opened, and then broke. And then? You kept receiving cards. It was no longer “Mother’s” cards, or “Father’s” cards … you got cards. Just because. Because, yes, you were my Father. But you were also my Mother. But most of all? You were my parent.

You were Pops.


There you were, a young, handsome, and virile man. Left floating, seemingly alone, by the death of your “one”. Adrift, with a small child clinging to you. A needy, artistic, and needy child clinging to you for dear life, when all YOU wanted was to be left to do that … float adrift. Drift away.

Thinking back upon that now, as an adult, I must admit this …

I honestly don’t know how you did it.

You started off as this carefree surfer.

Dad after surfing

And then Vietnam …


You admitted that there was another love before Mom. You told me that when you felt I could actually hear it. And I did. Yes, I was hurt. That hurt came from a child’s understanding, a child’s outlook. (“What do you mean? There was ANOTHER woman before Mom?) The child hurt, but the adult understood. The adult felt.

However, the child (and adult) still twinges a bit when she looks upon this photo …

(Am I a horrible person to say that I am so glad that she ISN'T my mom?)

But this adult (and child) is ecstatically happy to realize that she broke your heart. (No, shush. I am NOT happy she broke your heart. But I AM happy to realize that she broke you just enough so that you could meet Mom. And so that you and Mom could meet as partners.)



Your side of the family (my family), says that there are two of you – the pre-Vietnam Chris, and the after-Vietnam Chris.

As much as I would have loved to have known you pre, you wouldn’t be “Dad” to me if you weren’t also the after. I mean … that’s all I knew.

The “pre-Chris” loved his family, and looked after his sister. Yes, he was a bit free, and a bit naive. Always searching for the next wave.

The “after-Chris” was mostly the same but with harder, and sharper, edges. (Still searching for that ever elusive wave, though.) The pre would have tried to talk sense into his brother-in-law, for being too hard on his sister. The after was the one who went searching for the same brother-in-law, gun in hand, for abusing his baby sister. (Thankfully, the after never found him. Otherwise, I would never be here.)

You know what though? I kinda like the “after” …



I saw the sadness, and desperation, in your eyes. Not only was it seen, it was felt.

From you I have learned how to love. I’m not talking about loving family just because they are blood, or loving friends just because they are there… yes, you taught me that. You also showed me what it was to open yourself up fully. To splay yourself, your emotions, your core. To open yourself up to the unknown. You have shown me that you CAN do that.

And you showed me that you can reap those benefits. The benefits being that you reap what you sow ...

... Mom loved you so much ...

... So did I. So do I ...

You have also shown me that when you do that, you leave yourself open to heartache. It’s a heartache I never want to experience. Ever. At least, not in the way that you did.


Until I became headstrong in my teenage years, we were tight. Tight.

Once we gained some space, some distance, only then could we become friends again. For me being an asshole teenager … I apologize. I know you understood, but still. I am sorry. I KNOW you did much worse than I ever did (hell, you even told me of some of your exploits!) But still?

I am sorry.

If there ever comes a day when I do have kids (a day which I hope for, but feel will never happen), I can only hope to be like you. Yes, I do want to be like Mom, juts a little. But mostly?

If I had to choose the parent to emulate, it would be you.


After Mom died, I know you were lost. And I understood that you would have gone away as well … if it wasn’t for me. (And, no, that’s not ego speaking – maybe I was just a responsibility at first, because of grief. But later? After the initial heartbreak? “It was just you and me, kid”.)

But still? Helllloooooooooooo Catholic Guilt ™!

After though… you morphed from Dad into Pops. And I turned from “god damnit! Ann Marie!” into “Bubba”. Or “Bub”.

When you were alive, I never actually liked, or understood, The Beatles. But after you went? I really did try to understand why you loved them so. It took me a while, though. And now?

Now I get it. (Strawberry Fields still flips me the fuck out. I doubt that will ever change. I still sit at that same table, in the same kitchen, and Strawberry Fields still strikes in that same visceral way. Yes, I “get” it now. It still makes me uneasy. And now? Okay … *shrug*)

You and I … we do share genetics. But now, we also share a love of the Fab Four.

When someone says yesterday … I understand it on my level. But I also understand it on yours. And I really do think that is the legacy you left to me. There ARE shadows …

And if you were still here? I would say this to you: the shadows are really the dark parts. Know them. Appreciate them. Roll in them. But please, don’t live in them. Instead, allow them to serve as contrast. As a foil, to the light that you lived.

A light you had so much of.

A light that burned too bright. And too fast. A light that was extinguished too soon.


I can believe in yesterday … and now? I CAN move on to tomorrow.

But only because of you.

I love you, Dad. Granted, I may be away this weekend following my own passion, but I think that you may, just may, understand that. You will never be far from my mind.

This Sunday I will raise my camera, and a glass, and wish you nothing but a slipper tail lobster, some 7&7, and know (hope) that Mom is by your side to share it with you. (And then? In my mind she will make fun of you. With some inside joke that only the two of you know the punchline to.) When the two of you are laughing ... I hope I catch just the faintest whiff of scent ... Shalomar and Cinnamon for her, with just a touch of Old Spice for you. Even though I know you hated it.

And then? Then I will smile. And laugh. And then I will cry through my own inside joke. Damn the rest!

Happy Fathers Day Pops ... wherever you may be.

I chase the light

I chase the light.

The sun through the window shows her face in a way only I know; full of joy, love, and the weight of a world only she knows. And I want to capture it. Gather it to me for always. And then, show that understanding back to the world.

I chase the light.

The music is captured on his face, with eyes half closed, and the beginning of a grin. His toes tap and fingers drum on the almost empty pint of cider, half forgotten. I can see the beginning of a story there.

I chase the light.

A tear leaks from her eye, and it races to catch the smile now unleashed. We all cry, laugh, and scream as they say, “I do”.

I chase the light.

The first time your fingers met mine, I could barely breathe.

I chase the light.

How can you capture a scent?


My friends, my family, my lovers … they aren’t seen as just (or only) human in my eye. They are bits of experience – a scent, a touch, a feeling, a tune, an image.

All fleeting – amorphous moments in time.

But together?





But overwhelmingly?



I wish I had embraced photography and writing sooner than I did. Maybe some of the moments of my life could be tangibly touched or read again. And shared.

But now? Instead of dwelling on “if only”, I will work towards “and then”.

And then? After this photo? After this paragraph? What happened?


Well … you will just have to stay tuned.