Girls and Their Dolls

When my daughter was around 3, she created what my father liked to call “Confederate Graveyards” (don’t ask me why) because she would line up pillows from around the house in a row, stick every doll face down on that pillow, and then cover them entirely with a blanket. The thing was, that’s how she napped in pre-school – you would lay down on a little mattress and the teachers would cover your entire body with a blanket. So my daughter wasn’t burying her dolls, she was putting them to sleep for their naps. I couldn’t find a picture of one, but she had around 10 dolls, so you can imagine the mounds lined up in my living room.

I don’t remember playing with dolls much, and I’m not a very girly-girl, but for my daughter, dolls are a living thing. In addition to putting them down for naps, she also did circle time and taught them like she was taught at her Montessori pre-school. I once opened up her closet to find 3 dolls in the back corner. When I asked her why, she said that “They were bad” and were being punished by getting stuffed into the closet. She didn’t seem to understand that maybe they had paid for their crime.

She’s going on 9 now and her imagination still astounds me. She has full-on conversations. Each doll has its own personality. My daughter teaches her class of dolls and stuffed animals, which now numbers in the 40s. I know have a step-daughter who’s 10 and she is equally (often more) intense about her dolls and play-acting. Like many girls, they have an obsession with American Girl dolls, the bane of any parent’s existence save for Disney. And the American Girl Doll stores are so crafty and clever about playing into this obsession: Come eat with your doll at the cafe! Get your doll’s hair styled! Hers-and-hers outfits so that girl and doll can match (swimsuits, pajamas, dresses, t-shirts, shoes…)

You would think with how much the girls love these dolls (and with how bleeding expensive they are) that they would treat the dolls like they were made out of porcelain and keep it tidy.

Such is not the case, at least not with my girls. They are everywhere in my house. Often lurking behind some corner or in a chair where I mistake that hair for an actual child/person. They freak my sons out, staring at the boys from their perch. Sneaky, sneaky little devils.

Enjoy the horror.

Foto Fridays: Going Meta

It’s a digital photograph of analog photography equipment…how meta.  A couple of months ago, I was home in DC to visit my parents and was advised to pack up all my books and things from the attic.  Now that I have a house of my  own, this was not only a good idea, but I missed my books.  They are old friends that trace a very turbulent part of my history.  The books I read in middle school and high school were a crucial part of my self-discovery.  And while they did hold meaning sitting on the bookshelves of their birth – in a museum kind of way where I could go and look upon the space of my youth, they truly belonged with me. Among the double-packed books was another old, but not forgotten, friend: my Canon FTb Ql camera.

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Foto Friday: Tribute to Neal Tonken

I can’t tell you what staying in public school would have been like for me.  All of my friends growing up were in public school and they all went on to go to college and lead productive, successful lives.  But after a difficult freshman year, my parents thought I would benefit from a smaller setting and put me through the admission process to private school.  In the DC area, private school is a huge thing because most of the public schools in the District are pretty terrible.  (I was across the border in a rich suburb of Maryland with some of the best public schools in the nation.)  And that’s how I found myself attending Sidwell Friends School – the same year that Chelsea Clinton started there.  It’s a school known for its Presidential kids (and kids from senators, congressmen, and other DC elites), a school known for its Quakerism, and one of the few private schools in the DC area that is co-ed.

Like any place, Sidwell had its problems.  And although I did benefit greatly from my education there, I don’t think I benefited from the school in the way my parents’ expected.  But by the time I graduated in 1995, there were things I took with me that only Sidwell could have provided.  And they ended up happening in the same year.

The first was falling in love with Luke Jensen the summer before Senior year.  The second was taking Neal Tonken’s “Fall and the Fallen” Senior English class that fall.

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Photos, Books, Life…

Don’t go thinking I haven’t been doing anything just because I haven’t been posting here!  Oh no!

I think that’s one of the things that we forget as creative people because it’s the WORK that matters, what we PRODUCE that can be touched or watched or absorbed through one sense or another.

But life happens.  And I want to experience it.

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And I’ve also just been busy trying to slog my way through the producing aspects.  So here’s a tally of what’s been going on and I plan to get this website more focused in the coming months!  Including a sneak peak of what I’ve been writing!

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FF: The Human Eye

foto_fridaySometimes cameras fail us.  The human eye is a wonder.  We can see things clearly and at the correct “aperture” despite multiple differences in stops, color temperature.  Cameras can create amazing effects, but every once in a while, no matter how hard I try, I cannot replicate what I see with my human eye.  Above is a picture from inside a log house in Wyoming.  I was stunned by the light that day.  The warmth of the wood, coloring the inside.  I could see everything inside clearly, fully lit by the daylight.  Then, through the windows, I could see the beautiful expanse of land, the house down the street, the mountains, the sky.  I wanted to take a picture of it, capturing the balance between these two images as I saw it: the foreground of the interior and the background of the exterior.  But my camera would either overexpose the windows, blowing them out to white, or underexpose the interior, making it darker than it looked.

This happened again this morning as I walked the kids to school.  I was shooting into the sun, so I wasn’t surprised that the building and the kids were silhouetted, but I was surprised at how well I could see them.  How perfect the lighting.  It was as if I could “zoom” in with my eyes as I watched the kids walk up.  And my camera failed me.  kids_school

I am a very visual person.  What I see before me, every day, effects my mood, my thoughts, my actions, and my inspiration.  When I was a teenager, I had my camera with me always.  Nowadays, with smartphones, we always have our cameras with us, but back then, it was unusual to carry around a 35mm camera everywhere.   But I would see things on the street, in my daily life, and wish I had a camera.  I was constantly looking for the perfect shot to every moment.  In a way, it distanced me from being in the moment because I was always analyzing how I would capture it.  I would despair over forever losing a particular shot if I didn’t have my camera.  I relied on it to document life around me.

Today, I live in a city where there is not much visual aesthetic, but I have found the secret places of beauty.  More importantly, I embrace the moment and the images I’m seeing with my own eyes, not just through a lens.