LIFE HAS BEEN AMAZINGLY GOOD for me over the years. Even when I look back and recall the trials and tribulations that have popped up again and again. They have shaped me, tempered me into who I am today.
As a child, I felt ostracized. Different from others because I was such a “dummy”—and danced to a different drum. I loved art, read voraciously (once I learned to deal with my dyslexia), and was just coming into my own both artistically and as a writer. Sadly, school did a great job of squelching my artistic side and my peers squelched my writing. I learned to do any art or writing “in secret”, not showing anyone, until it finally faded into distant memories, lying dormant for what felt like ages. I did continue to read though, and in my subconscious, my painterly and writerly sides were preparing themselves.
It wasn’t until much later in my life that I started to do both again.
I did manage to keep playing with my cameras. First (as a middle schooler) a Swinger—the kids version of the Polaroid camera and a Kodak Instamatic…then a neat little video camera–prehistoric compared to what’s out there today. Sadly, I never developed the last roll on it from my days at the original Pepperdine University in Watts during the civil unrest. Sometimes I wonder if there is someone out there that could salvage it. Then, as an adult, I graduated to an Olympus SLR. Together, my husband and I would go camping and take copious photos of our trips. I have many, many wonderful years of memories from that camera. My husband purchased it for me–selling an old collectable camera to get this new one (and several lenses) for me. So sweet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those were pretty sweet treasures he gave up for me. I wish I’d known (insert serious guilt here).
That Olympus saw some serious usage—and abuse (well, mostly the lenses, but the body as well). It was responsible for scooping up the frosting off my nephew’s cake (I don’t think his mom ever completely forgave me for destroying her beautiful creation…)—for some reason, I had to reach over to the other side of the table while I was wearing the camera around my neck…oops.
And, was never the same after my little ‘incident’ in a helicopter that couldn’t stay in the sky…all the dings left in the body jostled the mirrors big time. Even though we sent it in for repairs…it just wasn’t the same. I never sold it…just finally retired it to a drawer. Perhaps some day, I’ll pull it out and give it a go—if I want to try my hand at film again (I am so over-the-moon sold on digital)…
I have drawers…many drawers filled with little boxes of negatives and packages of photos—both mine and my husband’s. Many of them are from before we even knew each other. Memories of his I’ll never fully understand without him there to explain the photos…where and why they were taken, the subjects in the photos—things like that. I haven’t taken the time to go through any of them (his or mine)—sorting the good shots from the bad…and the multiples. Maybe because there’s still too many memories attached to most of them. When my husband and I went on a trip, many times we ended up capturing the same image. Sometimes, it was interesting to see if there were any differences—little nuances that one might have seen that the other did not. Occasionally, yes.
At some point, when my daughter was beginning to show an interest in photography, we ended up with two Pentax K-100 digital cameras—one for me, one for her—plus matching tripods…and accessories (insert huge grin here)—lots of accessories. I don’t even know how long ago that was—middle school? Freshman in high school? We’d go out on little photo walks, taking pictures and—sometimes the three of us, but usually, just the two of us. I loved those times. All too soon, she grew up and away, spending more time with friends, taking photography classes and spreading her wings in preparation of flying off into her own life. We both still own our Pentax cameras. I’ve added a few lenses plus different sizes of tripods while she has stayed with the original equipment that came with hers (though, she is thinking of upgrading—I’m glad to see that). I’ve also purchased several other cameras (Canon and Nikon), but always find that I fall back on my Pentax for trips or when I just want something comfortable and familiar.
My pivotal year for writing was probably 1999. My storytelling in the schools was winding down to just a few a year. I’d started scribbling thoughts onto paper the year before, with the idea of doing personalized short stories—perhaps even transcribing the taped classroom stories and creating an anthology of those, but when my mom died suddenly in the spring of ’99, that all changed. That’s when I took on the responsibility of watching after my dad, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and I had more time on my hands—so I wrote…and wrote. I found myself getting more serious with it and it started to become what I now fondly call my “never-ending story” that is still unfolding, even today. I did create some personalized short stories for some people, but it never took off, even though I do still offer the service.
Then, it was about four or five years ago that I seriously started tinkering with art, taking classes at one of our local community colleges. As my skills improved, I had this grand idea (when the Fort Ord area opened up and the housing went up for sale) to purchase four of the barracks and turn them into an art haven of sorts…yup—a grand idea…that never came to fruition.
Whilst I mulled over that idea, I became aware of a new venture proposed by one of the teachers at the community college I attended. Being lazy, and far short of the needed capital to begin my own venture, I turned my energies over to this lovely, creative lady, Denese Sanders. Her ideas and plans were sound and, though less grand than my own (and therefore, far more doable financially), would be more likely to make it off the ground! Open Ground Studios came into being almost two years ago and I have loved every minute there—being part of this creative community, making friends, taking classes/workshops, learning and creating art. OGS fills a much needed niche in the community and I’m glad I’m part of it. I’ve turned into the unofficial photographer for events too—capturing people being creative—and I love that.
Just the other day, in my busy rushing around—running to Open Ground Studios to work on my writing and then onto a sundry of little chores, I stopped off at my daughter’s home and we chatted for a bit. At the end, we discussed her upcoming birthday—deciding when to celebrate with the traditional birthday dinner. And as I left, she asked if I was free on the Friday before to go to Point Lobos with our cameras. I imagine my face answered the question quite easily—I probably had a grin from ear to ear. The thought of a simple walk in my favorite park is delightful, but to include my daughter and cameras was more than perfect. Of course, I said yes. Wheee!
Art, in whatever form one chooses—and writing, can create a very insulated, quiet life. It is very easy to become a bit of a hermit. So, finding ways to interact becomes important. Time spent with my daughter, chatting, tromping (hmm…maybe we should tippy-toe if we want to capture any wildlife) through the underbrush, trees and over rocks is a wonderful way to socialize. I can hardly wait for that Friday! Another is to spend time at Open Ground Studios, where I can, of course, find time to spend alone to work (whether it be art or writing), but can also find other artists to engage in conversation, to observe them working on their art form. Plus, there are always workshops and classes going on at OGS, so I get to learn and improve my skills as I socialize. The best of both worlds.
I know this blog has become quite inelegant…rambling hither and yon, but these are thought that needed to be sung out in this new year. The joys of art, of photography, of writing—of life…the frustrations that accompany growing up…trials and tribulations—and joys of life.
It’s what makes us who we are, don’t you think?