Let’s Review: A Pictorial, Circa 2013

Past pictorials: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

This year has been… overwhelming. I finished school and celebrated my graduation with Bill and Aaron and Michelle. We got Piper. We went Jeepin’, but less than we did last year. We decided to move to Maine and were within a week of actually GOING, then those plans were cancelled. We went on a terrific Maine vacation with Bill’s sister and her boyfriend. I changed jobs at AcronymCo and soothed my disappointment in not moving to Maine by truly enjoying my new group and new environment. We remodeled our upstairs bathrooms and got the house painted. I decided to take a hiatus from freelance work and just enjoy my life and family and friends and only have one job to concentrate on. Kim came out for a visit and we got really, really drunk. I didn’t journal NEARLY often enough, which I’m going to try to change in 2014.

January

A photo shoot at Tempe Town Lake

I played with the new point and shoot camera I got for Christmas.  Bailey continued to be desperately pretty.

I played with the new point and shoot camera I got for Christmas. Bailey continued to be desperately pretty.

February

We adopted Piper.

We went to a car show.

We Jeeped the Montana Mountain Trail.

March

We went to the Renaissance Festival.

April

I got my diploma.

I got my diploma.

I celebrated my graduation.

I celebrated my graduation.

Bill got a new motorcycle.

Bill got a new motorcycle.

May

We went camping with Aaron and Michelle and the pups.

We went camping with Aaron and Michelle and the pups.

We donated BOXES and BAGS of stuff in prep for our (aborted) move to Maine.

We donated BOXES and BAGS of stuff in prep for our (aborted) move to Maine.

June

Wedding planning with Michelle.

Wedding planning with Michelle.

We went to Maine (click for photo set).

A Bailey Island sunset.

July

We went to Flagstaff and celebrated Aaron and Michelle’s engagement (click for photo set).

Michelle and Aaron and Rendezvous.

August

After July’s disappointment, wherein we learned the Maine dream wasn’t happening, I didn’t pick up my camera again until October. I didn’t even really take any cell phone pictures. I wrote this and this and was just sad in general.

September

We went to see John Caparulo at the Improv with Amanda, Aaron and Michelle. Amanda has a photo of me and John somewhere, in which I manage to look enormous beside him. Trick of the camera! Swear!

Snerkology celebrated its twelfth anniversary.

October

Back to Flagstaff to celebrate Bill’s birthday.

November

Kim visited, and we went to Sedona (click to see photo set).

Enjoying the view.

We went shooting, and shot at least a dozen different kinds of pistols and rifles. This is Amanda being a total badass.

December

We Jeeped Four Peaks Mountain.

Bill TOTALLY won Christmas.

Bill TOTALLY won Christmas.

This is the photo that was made from:

Me and Grammy.

Next weekend we’re headed back up to that cabin in Flagstaff that we rented last winter. It’ll be a very good way to start off 2014. There will be photos, OH YES, there will be photos.

I hope you all had a FANTASTIC holiday, and may 2014 bring you many many blessings!

Best Friends Forever, Actually

Me and Kim This is the earliest picture I have of me and Kim. There may be older photos, lost in the boxes in my Grandmother’s basement. It looks like we were, what? Around six or seven here? Grandma let us spend the night in her bed (I don’t remember now why it was such a special thing to be able to sleep in Grandma’s bed, unless it was just because it was bigger?), and the dolls in our laps were made by Grandma and my mother. Four of them are here with me, now.

Neither Kim or I can remember exactly how old we were when we first met. Probably around four or five. She, her parents and her little brother lived one town over, the next-door neighbors of my Aunt Marge and Uncle Jim. To be literal about it, Marge was the daughter of my grandmother’s older sister. So she was actually my first cousin once removed but was titled “Aunt” just as every other older female relative whose connection was less than straightforward.

Visits at Marge and Jim’s house were less than entertaining to a small child – they were, after all, my Grandmother’s compatriots. Always talking about dead relatives I didn’t know and days past I didn’t understand and ailments I wished they wouldn’t describe. I’m sure, in an effort one afternoon to get me out of their hair so they could visit, they took me over to the neighbors to introduce me to “little Kimmy”. We became immediate and fast friends, and considered it fate that our birthdays were only five days apart. Every visit to Marge and Jim’s thereafter had me asking, “Will Kim be home?” before we even got in the car. Grandma would never call ahead (visits to Marge and Jim’s were not dependent upon Kim’s availability to entertain me, after all), so after my obligatory hug and kiss to Marge and Jim, I’d make a beeline across the lawn. Kim’s mom would generally answer my knock on the door – if Kim was home, we’d run up the stairs to her room, or to the connecting yards behind the house and the swing that hung from one of the trees. If she wasn’t home, Kim’s mom would kindly let me sit at their kitchen table and wait, kicking the rungs of the chair and gabbing her ears off (I think they marveled – patiently – at how much I always seemed to have to say). If nobody at all was home, I’d trudge back to Marge and Jim’s and sit on the stairs beyond the dining room that lead to their second-story bedroom, reading whatever book I’d brought with me.

We had many sleepovers between our two houses. I have so many memories – staying up and whispering under the covers until Grandma went to bed, listening for her snoring to start, then sneaking out into the kitchen to make pancakes and “Mimosas” (7-up and orange juice). Kim patiently teaching me how to ski under the lights at Lost Valley. Pressing our arms, palms-down, in the doorway that lead to Kim’s kitchen – holding the position for a minute, then walking forward and feeling our arms “float” upward. Alternating between avoiding Kim’s little brother Kevin, then enlisting him into our fort building and hide-and-seeking. Making up dances in the living room, then performing for tolerant grown-ups. Getting a new tape, then learning the lyrics to every song by playing, writing furiously, stopping, rewinding, playing, writing… until we had it all down and could triumphantly sing the whole song through. Splitting birthday cake – chocolate with chocolate frosting – at my Grandmother’s kitchen table.

Kim is one of the only constants that has spanned my lifetime. She’s the only life-long friend I’ve ever had. We’ve never quarreled, not even in the inevitable way of teenage girls. We’ve never even had a disagreement. At least, not one that I can recall. Just true, pure, honest and lovely friendship. And it’s just as true, pure, honest and lovely today as it was when we were children.

I moved to Arizona when I was nineteen, and years would go by where we wouldn’t see one another. We’d exchange the occasional letter, the even more occasional phone call, and we’d manage to see each other every second or third trip I made home. She attended Grandma’s funeral, and I was so surprised and grateful for her presence. We communicated more through e-mail, and Facebook, as the years went by. I had a good visit with her a few years ago when I went home, and again last summer when we were on Bailey Island. Then last week we FINALLY made good on the vow that she’d visit us in Arizona some day. A plan 20 years in the making. But who’s counting, right?

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We picked her up from the airport late in the evening on Wednesday the 6th. I’m pretty sure we didn’t go to bed until well after 2:00 in the morning. We ordered a pizza and relaxed, and started getting all caught up with each other. The dogs were THRILLED to have another lady to love on ‘em, and I’m pretty sure they’re still missing her, almost a week after she left.

My manager graciously let me work from home during her visit, since I’m out of vacation time after the moving-not-moving debacle of this summer. Bill was able to take the days off, though, and set out with a vengeance to entertain Kim. Thursday morning everyone just hung around the house, and we went to Salty’s (pictured above) for lunch and took Kim on a brief tour of the luxury neighborhoods in Scottsdale. We grabbed a couple of drinks at Tonic after work, and introduced her to the awesomeness that is an Espos chimichanga.

Friday morning Bill and Kim took off to drive the Apache Trail, while I pouted at home and worked. When I learned that they had lunch at Tortilla Flat I pouted even harder. Then we all got fancy and went to The Keg for steak dinners. We had a few cocktails there, then met Aaron and Michelle at Tonic for a few more cocktails. THEN everyone piled back to our house for a few MORE cocktails. And singing. And dancing. And playing darts. And pool. And laying on the floor giggling.

Kim and I never got that right of passage, of going out and getting drunk together. Well. NAILED IT, even if it was a bit overdue.

Saturday we held down the couches, and sipped 7-up, and nibbled on pretzels, and moaned and groaned. The bunch of us (including Amanda) planned on meeting back up at Tonic to watch a band that night. Everybody else made it but me. I just couldn’t pull it off.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about THAT.

Sunday we rolled out of the house in the Jeep. We drove all the way up to Flagstaff, then took scenic route 89A back down into Sedona. We had lunch at the Open Range Grill & Tavern, then explored our favorite Jeep trail in the whole state, the Broken Arrow Trail.

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We had a FANTASTIC time. The weather was beautiful, the company was exceptional, and the scenery was outstanding. We got back home close to 7:00 and didn’t have energy to do more than order some sandwiches from Jimmy John’s and call it a night.

Kim’s flight didn’t leave until after 10:00 p.m. on Monday night, so we spent the day relaxing and visiting. She took the dogs for walks while I was busy working, and spent a lot of time on the patio soaking up the sun before she headed back to Maine. Our November weather differs quite a bit from hers! I crocked a potroast for dinner, and all too soon it was time to pile back into the truck and head to the airport.

We exchanged long hugs at the terminal, with promises to make this kind of trip an annual thing. I choked back tears as she walked through the doors, and kept choking them back on the drive back home. Once home, Bill asked me to check the sink in the guest room upstairs to make sure it wasn’t leaking (he’d installed it just the day before Kim arrived). I opened the cabinet and discovered a gift bag. My “Oh, MAN” had Bill running up the stairs, expecting a leak. I just stood there, holding the present Kim left me and bawling.

Then next day I found a card that she’d left on the kitchen table, along with a long heartfelt letter expressing all the same feelings of friendship, connection and history that I feel for her. And that got me bawling AGAIN. I miss her, have missed her for years, and wish more than ever that we’d managed to move to Maine so we could see each other all the time.

I’m so grateful that our friendship isn’t the kind that’s tested by time and distance. Kim always has been and always will be my best friend forever.

Letting go of my ambitions

I’ve decided to put Beyond Megapixels on hiatus. How long of a hiatus remains to be seen.

I first started writing for BMP back in August of 2009. I then purchased it, with my partner Steve Russell, in April of 2011. Steve entered retirement in 2012 and decided to take a break from BMP in August of that year. So, with the exception of that year and a half that he and I split writing responsibilities, I’ve been the only contributor to the site. I’ve written more than five hundred photography-related articles… actually, the number might be closer to a thousand. I’d have to check.

I’m burned out. Uninspired. Without a large overhaul and a complete redirect and re-dedication to the effort, I feel like I’ve taken BMP as far as it can go. So, it may be time to let it go.

It’s a decision I’m still waffling over, and I’m giving myself permission to just let it sit until the new year. There’s a wealth of information in the archives that still benefit beginner and intermediate photographers. So I don’t want to shut the site down, at least not right now.

Knowing that the site is there, waiting to be updated, has seriously put a cramp in the enjoyment of my own photography. Like, every time I pick up a camera or process a photo I automatically feel obligated to somehow turn it into an article. I’m skimming or even skipping articles posted by the photographers and photography websites I follow because their great content just serves to make me feel guilty that I’m not putting the time or effort into my own photography website.

Feelings of guilt and obligation are serious red flags that a change needs to be made. Letting the website go isn’t failure, after all. I really feel like I offered a lot to the folks who read the site, and helped a lot of folks find their way around their cameras and discover their creativity. Endings and beginnings are a part of life. It’s just sometimes hard to tell where those endings lie, and hard to sense when those beginnings occur.

A couple of years ago my freelance writing and photography projects were plentiful, and kept me seriously busy. Now, with BMP on hiatus, I have no freelance obligations of any kind. I weaned my clients down to a minimum while I was in school, finished in March but didn’t pick up any additional clients because I thought we were moving to Maine. So now here I am, school done, no freelance obligations, still in Arizona, time on my hands, and absolutely zero inspiration or desire to pursue anything.

I will probably start putting feelers out after the new year for more writing projects, that may or may not have anything to do with photography. I really enjoy freelance writing and have discovered that I like providing a wide variety of articles and content. I don’t want to be responsible for the entire content and smooth running of a business website. My personal blog is enough, thank you very much.

I’ve decided it’s okay to readjust my ambitions. I’m going to put more effort into the things that make me happy, do them for me, and absolve myself of my own guilt. There is no reason at all that every waking minute of every day needs to be spent pursuing MORE. I lived for years with that very feeling… that if I had a free minute or hour or afternoon I should be writing or studying or post-processing or developing a tutorial or administering a website or doing SOMETHING.

Now? I’m going to journal. And take pictures. Cook, and read. Love on my husband. Cherish my friends. Get outdoors. Play with my dogs. Focus on my career at AcronymCo, but not let work rule my life.

Slow down, simplify, and just be happy.

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Speaking of happy, my childhood friend Kim came out for her visit and just flew back home last night. We had a WONDERFUL time and I cried when she left. I have an entry lined up about our time together, but I want to finish processing the pictures that I took (for FUN!) and add them before I post.

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