Monday, February 16, 2015

the circumference of the Salton Sea | photos + words

The Salton Sea is not for the faint of heart, but it is rich in its stillness and history. I recently spent an afternoon exploring this man-made accident and it was unlike anywhere I've been. Sand is scare. Walking to the water is like stepping into fresh powder after a night of snow, but you're actually sinking shin-deep into fish bones. You are often bombarded with the stench of dead animal and rows of rotted trailers that look like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. There are also stretches of beach so quiet and isolated, you feel like the last person in existence. But then the sun sets, swans dot the horizon, and hazy pinks and purples dance together in the sky in ways unlike I've ever seen in Orange County.

Here are some things I did the day I drove the circumference of the Salton Sea:
I wrote a poem that wasn't about an identifiable, real person for the first time. · I bought a book of Greek mythology for $1 from a Salton City thrift store managed by a woman who had been run out of her lifelong home by Hurricane Katrina. · Border Patrol interrogated me about why I was going where I was going, and I contemplated what it'd be like to call my parents for bail. · I let a homeless guy yelling at a bicycle for stealing the woman he loved vent to me about his bad day. · Against all better voices in my head that sounded suspiciously like my mother, I followed a sign for "Desert Daze" scrawled in psychedelic purple type down an unmarked alley that dead-ended in an empty dirt road. I have high hopes that the right time of the year it would dead-end in hippies and Ecstasy. · I sat in fish corpses to get a better photo about 17 times. · A veteran photographer who years before had shot the iconic Bombay Beach trailer showed me the spot where only its ruined frame remained.

Here are some photos I made the day I drove the circumference of the Salton Sea:
(the first I believe to be a former pier; the last, all you'll find left of the "Bombay Beach trailer"; and everything in between is just that.) 

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

the Salton Sea. | a poem

the Salton Sea.

come to me, a reckless love:
balanced on the rust and remains of Bombay Beach,
the sun lit up by salt.

Monday, February 9, 2015

of wine and idealization. | a poem

of wine and idealization.

I make grand dinners
and buy expensive bottles of wine.
Tears have abandoned me
but I dance wildly
to songs about the kind of love
I no longer want.
Time has not matched that --

the inveterate sun we once found underground
bathed in orange walls and dark corners,
now just
wishes that we could have left
some part of ourselves
buried
there
belonging
only
to
that
floor
below.

Remember the first,
sleeping sound upon the certainty
that all we faced
was the eventual overdue morning,
one coated in
youth and frivolity,
blurred glances from faces pushed too close,
and whispers
for the sake of ourselves
to belong to something,

not long enough
before it was our turn
to assign the reality
of idolatry
to one another.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the white space. | a poem.

the white space.

for me
you are forever burrowed,
infuriating,
and i still stare at words you write

hoping the longer i am here
the more i will see in the white spaces,
the silence
and the distance
as the skies
of our respective worlds
entwine themselves
and then retreat
again,
yarn that you spoke of once
stretched out alongside coasts
till
I
dip too close to the darkest of waters,
Icarus of the ocean,
and
you
are left to avoid choice,

continued
to float
or to drown,

to grow
or live as cowards.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

year-in-review: 2014

Confession time: I have loved these end-of-year surveys since I was an angst-ridden teen with a Live Journal account. They are cliche but they kill time and get you thinking -- and even better, writing -- and everyone should do them so you can look back at the you of a year past and laugh at how you thought you had your shit together. I stumbled upon this fantastic collection of 50 year-in-review prompts here, and narrowed it down to 11 because I can't imagine anyone with the patience or interest to read my answers to all 50. (It's 11 and not 10 because even numbers are the devil's work. Also not so confident there is even anyone with the patience to read my answers to 11 now that it's all written and done.)

Who wants to follow suite and post their own? If there's anything I love more than self-indulgent blog posts, it's nosy insights into others' lives and thoughts. DoItDoItDoIt. 

1. What was your favorite place that you visited in 2014?
September took me to San Francisco for a wedding shoot that felt way more like fun than any sort of professional work. In the past, I had always rushed these off-site shoots -- driving nonstop at night, back to work by Monday, with no break or time to breathe in between. This trip I allowed myself a solitary day off of work to enjoy time in the city. I'd been to San Francisco countless times before and was ready for a trip that lacked the touristy charms of the Golden Gate Bridge or Lombard Street. I instead enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee at Saint Frank and headed to Dolores Park with Bukowski's "Love is a Dog From Hell" and no where else to be in the near future. I'd driven by the park before but never stopped to enjoy the scene; it was unlike anywhere I'd ever been. In front of me was a college-aged couple sharing a bottle of wine, falling into each other with the innocent cluelessness that only comes with youth; a group of friends blaring hip-hop from a boom box was drinking rum out of fresh coconuts; a street peddler walked around calmly selling pot truffles he'd made in his own kitchen the night before. The sky was cloudy but the air was warm. I felt more surrounded by life and vivaciousness than I had the entire year leading up to that point.

I have a friend who always tells me to get out of my own head, that my best moments in life and love have been when I wasn't burrowed in my own brain. I stayed lying atop that hill in Dolores Park, still and content, for hours, and I finally felt what my friend meant by that. It is the only time this year I can remember feeling that relaxed, that light, like my heart was floating and there was nothing that could weigh it back down.

2. How did your relationship to your family evolve?
I've never been dishonest with my family but I have been private. That isn't something unique to just them -- for someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, I bury words a lot deeper when it comes to talking about pain or loss with friends and family alike. This was the year I started offering up more vulnerable admissions to my parents before they needed to ask (even when they look at me like I'm a total asshole for breaking up with someone on Christmas Eve Eve -- deserved). But more noticeably to me was my evolving relationship with my brothers; I found myself confiding in my 20-year-old brother about meeting a guy's family, planning "scary video game" nights with the eldest and scheduling "date days" for myself and the youngest. My siblings became my friends this year. While a modicum of this has always existed, as the lone sister it had been easy in the past to head home for a night of wine and Netflix while they all bonded over the latest nerd thing they were into. This became the year I found it fun to mutter good-naturedly under our breath about Mom and Dad to one another, spend hours haggling sheep for wood (Settlers of Catan kicks ass) and fight to the death via Mario Kart.

But sorry guys, I'll never get on board with Magic the Gathering.

3.What single achievement are you most proud of?
This will sound so superficial, and it partly is because manicures are sparkly and pretty, but kicking a 25-yearlong habit of biting my nails tops that list for me. I sucked my thumb until I was 4, and traded that habit for a nail-biting one once I started public school. Growing up, my grandpa was my very favorite person and out of any of my childhood losses, he is the man I will always miss the most. The only time I ever remember him mad at me is when he'd catch me biting my nails. I don't know what it exactly was, but I woke up one day early this year, recently heartbroken and feeling lost, and decided I was done biting my nails. It's cost me probably hundreds of dollars in manicures, and I repaint my nails myself at least 2 times a week -- trading one neuroses for another I guess -- and it's honest to God a daily struggle because I'm the most high-strung, anxious person I know. But every time I catch a glimpse of my nails that aren't bitten down to the skin, I smile and think of my grandpa.

I'm sure I've done a lot this year, but most of those accomplishments were ones I always thought were relatively doable. I wasn't ever that confident I'd kick this habit, so I'm insanely, weirdly proud of the fact I have.


4. If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
Let's go with that nonsensical, vague-as-shit collection of short stories, full of metaphors on life and love wrapped in magical realism a la the world of Aimee Bender. One of those stories would eventually be adapted into a straight-to-DVD indie romantic drama that you only find on Netflix after a few glasses of wine and a bout of insomnia, and you hate it once the credits start rolling because you aren't really sure if anyone is happy or resolute at the end. But you still tell all your friends about it at the coffee shop the next day because it's haunting and you're a pretentious asshole.


5. What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
I hate questions that put numeric limitations on relationships. I think of the recurring people I have returned to and vice versa this year (family excluded), and it's not an answer I could limit to five. I've never had a "best friend" in the singular sense of the word, rather a circle of girls I love like sisters who each make my life special in specific ways. God help the day I get married, because it might be the first time a wedding party has had eight maids of honor.

Kristen makes me feel believed in, strong and independent, and like there is nothing in the world we can't take on; Brittney proves to me there is fun and laughter in every single day -- she reminds me to be happy, which doesn't always come easiest to me; moments with Tori are ones in which you know you are unconditionally loved and cared for, I am jealous of how big her heart is; Kristi is full of adventure and strength, always pushing people to be better; Katie is a rock, and when you are with her, you have faith life is exactly what it's supposed to be at that precise moment; Carli is like looking into a mirror for me, knowing there are people who will understand you to your very core without explanations, just understanding; Celeste brings magic and fairytales to life every time I see her; and Lindsey blends intellectualism and emotions, independence and vulnerability, better than anyone I've ever met. These women are the most beautiful moments of my life.

There are a spattering of others outside of these ladies who have made the year what it is, though perhaps they wouldn't know it. Greg is a source of comedy and stability I admire, someone whose advice I value tremendously; Jake I maybe see the least but is the only man whom I've never hidden a single thing about myself from, and it's good for me to know that can exist; my boss Scott constantly challenges me to remember that there isn't a moment undeserving of creativity, and I need that.

There cannot be just a top five I enjoyed spending time with because they all have molded me this year in ways the others could not.

6. What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise? 
Voluntarily leaving the newsroom and an entire industry after spending a decade there was the goddamn scariest professional decision I've ever made. I don't think I'll ever necessarily find the sense of family and camaraderie that the Register crew provided to me in 2013 and the first half of 2014, but the adventures I've had and the people I've met at Oakley are a breath of fresh air. I've never worked harder or been more challenged somewhere. Pretty sure 2015 is going to kick my ass and then some, but it's going to be a fun ride.

7. How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I finally saw pain as a stepping stone, not an ultimate outcome.

8. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
Stressed. Always stressed. The ability to realize I'm overworked, then pile more work on instead of take a vacation is an innate skill I could win Olympic medals in.

9. Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year? 
Pardon the French, but I remember saying to Carli at the beginning of 2014 that this was going to be the "year of no fucks given and saying yes to it all." I followed through on that, and I'd like to think this year and myself are better for it. From the adventures that were good for me to the transgressions we will never speak of to my mother, there wasn't much I didn't say yes to in the past 12 months. It's why I used real names in No. 5 up there, why I admitted to love multiple times even when it was unrequited, why I cut it short when I knew my heart wasn't in it. I dipped my toe in waters that some might scorn or not understand, but this was the most honest year I've ever lived. Even when that hurt, it was exhilarating.

10. If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
Effervescent. Haphazard. Autonomous.

11. What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?
Growth. I don't feel the need to define it any more than that -- the how's or why's can play out however need be. I never want to look back on a year of life and be the exact same I was at the start. Some years I can be better; I'm sure some years I'll be worse. But I always want to be changing. Life should never be still.

baby slater | newborns

Over in this little corner of the world, 2014 has been an eventful year for me and my girls -- new jobs, new homes, new husbands and new babies, to name just a few. I've been lucky enough to be a part of this group for a decade now, and it's been the biggest blessing to look back on our start and see how we've all grown in different ways in just 10 years. We've traded birthday shots and Undie Runs for annual brunches and even diaper duty, and stayed a family along the way. For any of you who personally know these women I'm talking about, I'd bet you could ask any of us about 2014 and we'd all agree that there's a new man in our lives we've fallen head over heels in love with. I mean, wouldn't you with this face?

babyslater3 

Brittney and Greg welcomed Baby Slater into the world Nov. 12, and we all immediately fell in love with the first newborn of the group. The new parents have done a phenomenal job - even sleep-deprived, they have been high-spirited, selfless and so incredibly loving. This little munchkin has already captured all our hearts, and I know he'll only continue to do so as the months and years go on. Thank you, Brittney and Greg, for giving "Aunt Jackie" the privilege of photographing these early moments in Slater's life. (P.S. It'll never stop. You've opened Pandora's Box; this kid will never not have my camera in his face.)

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Monday, December 29, 2014

ben + jeff | a wedding

Like probably every other 18- to 21-year-old in the entire world, college was one of my favorite times in life -- and a good reason for that was a guy named Jeffrey Harris. Among all the college antics, the memories that stand out most for me from my friendship with Jeff are the stories we'd tell of the day when we'd each finally given up on finding our perfect man, shack up in a mansion and ogle at the pool boy together.

Being as amazing of a person as he is, Jeff of course found his Mr. Right. So though I gave up the mansion and the pool boy, I was lucky enough to trade it in for a friendship with Ben and the privilege to photograph their wedding. Jeff is a great man, and he found his equal and more in Ben; both are kind, generous, honest and unabashedly hilarious. The two were married Sept. 27 in Alameda, Calif., at the Rock Wall Wine Co., complete with a stunning view of the San Francisco skyline and an abundance of love and laughs from their family and friends. I could share about 500 more photos from their big day in addition to these -- the day was that perfect -- but it is an absolute honor to share these ones here. There hasn't been a day that more exemplifies love in my mind from this past year than Ben and Jeff's wedding, and it's one that goes down in the books for me, always.

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