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How to Disappear Completely

I wake early and slip as silently as possible out of bed, quietly gathering clothes and camera gear and making my way to a neighborhood park to shoot the eclipse. It is completely dark and very cold when I pull up to the edge of the lake and the shadow is only beginning to show on the upper edge of the moon. It is also very comfortable in the car and as the seat warmers kick in I decide I can wait until the eclipse gets a little further along to set up my shot. After a few minutes I turn off the radio and sit there in silence, watching the shadow slowly slowly eat the moon.

Last weekend I was Skyping with a friend who asked me if I get much alone time. Um, my commute, I noted a little more bitterly than I intended. Three-year-olds, husbands, and work collaborators seem to demand a lot of attention.

People start pulling up to the lake, getting out to watch the moon.

Commute. Alone. If I'm going to insist on being one of those wasteful Americans in my gas-guzzling car driving to work by myself, maybe I should take advantage of the chance to be alone.  I noticed this last week and resisted the habit of making phone calls on the way to work.  Quiet.

Long lenses and tripods begin to populate the lakeshore.  Orange creeps into the eastern sky behind me.  In the car I am alone.

I sit for an hour and a half. The eclipse is so gradual but somehow the moon becomes a sliver suddenly, and it's sinking toward the mountains fast. I came here to take a picture - the third month in a row I have tried in vain to shoot the full moon - but by the time I get the tripod out of the car I don't have time to find the right place to set up or frame the shot the way I'd imagined.

It's strange that you can race through life at such a pace as to approach terminal velocity, but when you do sit you can totally lose track of the urge to move at all.

In the end, I only fired a couple frames of the eclipse. Immediately after it sunk behind the mountains I had to fight off regret for not trying harder to get the shot. Missed opportunity! What was I thinking?! It's not the shot I came here to make!

But the warmth. The quiet. The shadows. The light.




A Day in the Life

morning, in four stepsThe day started in pitch black, with the yelping of the dog outside and the acrid, burning sulfer smell of a skunk attack wafting through my bedroom window.  Will climbed back into bed, announcing that our dog had an altercation and Will had put him in the backyard.  I looked at the clock.  It said 1:00am.  I rolled back over, groggily, and finished the night with the uneasy sleep of someone marinating in skunk fumes.

By sunrise I realized that this whole affair was probably my fault because I drank too much wine with our houseguest the night before and left the dog outside.  Obviously my penance would be to spearhead the disaster recovery efforts.  Google revealed the recipe for deskunkification and I hit up three stores before I found one open.

In case you ever need this semi-effective skunk remedy: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 quart peroxide, 2 teaspoons dish soap.  And old clothes that you can throw away and rubber gloves.

This was a form of torture for me, and obviously also for Milo.

351.365 50mm f2 1/200 ISO 200So yeah.  All this excitement before 8:00.

I vow to lay off the sauce and head for work.

Work, work, work.  Something about Miss USA, drag queens, and Rosie O'Donnell.

Race home to pick up the child and see our houseguest who has a pot of green chile stew simmering on the stovetop and who, conveniently, was there to sign for the UPS package delivering my new lens.  I deserve this splurge, dog-skunk incident notwithstanding, because it's almost my birthday and I am almost finishing this 365 project.

Then, because she is awesome, and also because most of my friends have to agree to be photo subjects, and because I can not wait (obviously) to test drive the new lens, Amber agrees to put on mascara and be my guinea pig.

Amber is a chef, yogini, traveler, and all-around bright light who is busy dreaming up many cool things.  I am sure you'll hear more from her, here and elsewhere.  She is also eminently patient with me and my addled photographic fumblings.

I noticed during this brief shoot how much energy it takes to be creative and also how tired I was.  So we went home, ate green chile, limited our wine intake, and I collapsed into bed with my dog on the floor next to me, smelling faintly of skunk.