Photography in the pandemic (long)

As many of you know I am a photographer. As a photographer I capture moments in time. Once I click the shutter that moment is gone. We will never get that moment back. I mention this because I recently got in an argument with another photographer on a photography forum online. The issue: she was hired to shoot a wedding last year and paid in full. The wedding is in a month and the pandemic isn’t over yet. She is on the fence about canceling or shooting it and wanted advice. I gave my advice.

The wedding was booked and paid for a year ago and is in a month. She knew it was coming up so if she was going to cancel the time to do it was 5+ months ago when the pandemic didn’t end and the lockdowns continued. At this point the couple is thankful that they still have a photographer because venues and catering are probably a nightmare for them. If the wedding gets canceled that is one thing, but they were hired to do a job and accepted payment in full for the job. They should do the job. It isn’t like things were in the beginning. We have social distancing, masking and if you get sick we now have treatments. On top of that more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. This isn’t the same situation we had in the beginning when we didn’t have any of that.

Well, apparently some people got mad about that and feel everyone should stay home and everything should be canceled until the virus is gone from our planet. Ok, look moron. It’s a virus. It will never be completely gone from the planet. Also, everything in life has risks. It’s our job to learn those risks as we grow up and learn to do things as safe as possible knowing the risks and should we end up sick or injured we know where to go for help if we need it. Staying locked in your home in fear is not living…it’s existing. There is a reason why we have prisons for criminals and put little kids in time out. Taking away freedom to live your life as you wish is punishment.

Back to photography… I’m not a fan of shooting portraits. It’s boring. I like landscapes, nature and travel. But I am good at it even if I don’t like it. In this pandemic I have found myself shooting more portraits than I ever have before. Why is this when there are so many portrait photographers out there? Well, it’s because they are terrified and believe everyone should stay in isolation. I don’t feel that way. I feel that life is still happening and once those moments are gone we will never get them back. Photographers are here to capture those moments.

I have a friend who has had 7 miscarriages and finally carried her pregnancy to term with #8 in this pandemic. She wanted to do a maternity photo shoot to capture the joy of this time especially since she does not know if they will ever be able to have another one. The problem… she can’t find a photographer in the lockdown so she contacted me. I agreed to do her photos for her. I don’t know how people can turn down someone who has been through so much sadness and wants to capture the joy of this moment. It isn’t like she can go back and do them later. We did them in a low risk way outdoors I stayed socially distanced from them except when I gave her a gift for the baby. I later took family photos after the birth for their daughters 1st Christmas.

My brother is getting married in September. I did his engagement photos and I’m terrified that their wedding photographer will cancel at the last minute and I’ll end up shooting his wedding rather than enjoying the celebration with my family. Why would I do that? Well, because I’m not going to bail on my brother when he needs me.

I’m just so tired of people using covid as an excuse. So you have sat on your butt for a year and don’t want to go back to work? Is it because you are terrified of covid? Nope. You are still living your life visiting with friends and family and going to the store and whatever else is open at the moment. Just be honest. Don’t say it isn’t safe for you to go back to work. Just say you don’t want to go back to work. It’s ok. You can NOT want to go. I don’t want to go every day but I have a family to support so I put on my shoes and go. Would I like to stay home and enjoy the 50 hours a week of free time with my family? Hell yes! I get it. I don’t want to go to work either. But I’m sure as hell not going to use covid as an excuse and say I can’t go to work because it isn’t safe while I go on about living my life outside my home. Just be honest about it. Just say you got lazy and don’t want to go back to work. Saying it isn’t safe for YOU to go to work while you expect everyone else to go to work is just saying that you are more important than everyone else out there. You are more important than all the essential workers who have kept everything running back when it really was not safe. If you accept a job and got paid for the job then you should do that job. If you want to back out you should refund your fee AND pay the difference for the last minute replacement for the job you were suppose to do if they incur additional costs due to you backing out at the last minute.

The businesses and people that are going to survive this pandemic are going to be the ones who didn’t use it as an excuse to be lazy. They are going to be the ones that paid off debt, saved up to purchase their first home, wrote that book, used the time to get fit, eat healthier, forge a better relationship with their spouse and children. There are 1000 ways to come out of the pandemic better than you went into it.

There are several truths about the past year no matter what your beliefs are on the way the pandemic is being handled where you are from.

Life is moving on.

Relationships are starting and ending.

People are getting married and divorced.

Children are being born and growing up.

People still die.

How do you feel about gatherings? Should we never celebrate again? If you are married how would you feel to have that option taken away from you? How about your children? Do you reflect back on that crying photo with Santa and smile? What if that was taken away from you? Remember the first day of kindergarten? What if that was taken away? High school or college graduation (yours or or child’s)? How about funerals? Should those go away and we no longer get to mourn? Should we visit the sick and dying or let them die alone? How about birthdays? Do we celebrate only the 1st birthday, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 50th, 75th, 100th? Only some? None at all? How about if you beat cancer and didn’t think you would see another birthday but here it is! Do you celebrate?

Do we celebrate life or let let it just go because someone might get sick? What about food poisoning? Someone might get sick. Maybe we should not eat anymore.

Annoyances, craziness and a reminder to be kind

We all have our little things that just annoy the hell out of us but I find that my tolerance for such things is much lower than my pre-covid tolerance.

Now I have always been annoyed by drivers on the freeway that drive significantly slower than the rest of traffic. I don’t care why they are going so slow, but they need to move all the way to the right. If you are going that slow, be a pal and turn on your hazard lights too because you are, in fact a hazard on the road. Just because you have the right number of people in car car does not require you to drive in the carpool lane. Many people are terrified of driving in heavy traffic or next to “the wall” if you are one of those people are are the SLOWEST car on the freeway and driving at least 10 MPH SLOWER than everyone else please, don’t be a jerk and move all the way to the right so the commuters can use the HOV lane to get home before midnight. If you are driving 20+ MPH SLOWER than everyone else pop your hazard lights on to alert other drivers.

Now at least once a month someone stops in the fast track only lane looking for someone to take their toll money on the bridge. We all make mistakes. It happens. But don’t stop. Just go on through and pay your toll violation ticket when you get it in the mail. I see an accident about once every couple months because someone tries to stop when the rest of traffic is trying to speed through or even worse they are trying to cross several lanes on the bridge to get into the proper lane. Safety first people. You miss your exit. You miss your turn. Don’t drive crazy just take the next one. Don’t be a road hazard.

Let’s all be kind. If someone is coming hold the door for them. Let the disabled, elderly and pregnant have the seat on public transportation when it’s crowded. If someone looks lost ask them if they need help. I challenge everyone to do one random act of kindness a day for someone else. So hold the door. Take one minute to make someone else’s day just a little better.

Now let’s talk about the bickering. OMG I’m so tired of it. I have two small boys who are tired of being stuck at home so all they do is fight with each other. I can barely stand 60 seconds on social media right now. Personally, I don’t care what your covid or political beliefs are but just stop the damn fighting. Everyone has a reason for feeling the way they do and everyone and every situation is different. What is right for me may not be right for you. When it comes to the Covid situation, it is evolving all the time so the facts you had yesterday are probably completely irrelevant today. But a few things are sure. 1. There is a virus. 2. At some point the world will need to reopen and life will need to go on. 3. You have the right to make whatever decisions you feel are best for you and your family. 4. You do not have a right to force your opinions on others. We know you are scared. But no one if forcing you to leave the safety of your home. You can stay there. What you can’t do is demand what others can and can’t do because you disagree with them. They are not you and may feel or believe differently than you do. Respect their beliefs and do not push yours on them. It is ok to think differently than others. We are all unique. Respect the differences.

Ten, almost 11 months later I’m really over people telling me what to do.

“YOU NEED TO WEAR A MASK ALL THE TIME OR YOU ARE KILLING PEOPLE” um, no. I’m eating strawberries, in my office, alone until you walked in to tell me that I’m killing people. I’m not killing people. I’m eating, alone until you walked in. Hard to eat and drink with a mask on. If you are that freaked out don’t come in my office.

“YOU ARE TOO CLOSE 6 FEET LADY, 6FEET!!!” Dude, I’m like 12-15 feet away calm the hell down and get a tape measure. Here’s a hint… if you have to YELL or raise your voice so someone can hear your lecture they are too far away from you to catch covid from them. Save your breath.

“YOU NEED YO WAIT FOR ME TO LEAVE BEFORE YOU COME IN THIS AREA” ok, I just want to grab this one package of cheese then you can have the whole deli section to yourself. the cheese is like 10 feet away from your deli sliced meats anyway. You do not own this entire section of the grocery store. I need ONE item and don’t have time or the patience for you to ponder the meaning of life while selecting a lunch meat. (About 15 minutes later I walked past that section again and she was yelling at someone else to step back STILL pondering the lunch meat. I told the guy that she yelled at me 15 minutes ago when I grabbed cheese. Just get your hot links. She hasn’t moved.)

I have heard stories of people jumping into bushes with thorns and poison oak because other hikers were on the same trail going the opposite way. People are jumping into their cars and yelling at people to get away from their children who are still in the shopping cart in grocery store parking lots as people walk by or try to load their own groceries into their car. If you are this paranoid please, order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door to avoid any possible contact with another human. The rest of us just want to do our shopping in peace and move on with life. (Ok, I order my groceries online and have them delivered. It has nothing to do with the virus and everything to do with being too busy to do it myself. I have done this for almost 5 years now and LOVE it!)

It comes down to one thing…people have lost their damn minds. They are so fearful they have lost all ability to think rationally. I beg you, if you are that terrified just stay home. You can have groceries delivered. You don’t need to go hiking or take the dog for a walk. Stay home. Maybe take this time for some zoom therapy sessions to work through some of these issues because at some point you will need to leave your home and interact with another human. You can’t live the rest of your life yelling at people that they can’t have cheese until you are done contemplating all the varieties of lunch meat because you don’t want anyone within 20 feet of you. That is your issue, not theirs. They are not trying to kill you. They just want to get the cheese and get away from you as fast as possible because you are acting like a crazy person. Please, seek therapy and work through your feelings. It can be done in a video visit so you do not need to be near the therapist in person.

If a friend, family member or anyone tells you that you are acting crazy take a deep breath and look at the situation. If the breath isn’t helping and you are still in a panic you need to go back to your safe place, wherever that is and make an appointment to talk to someone. This is a lot and everyone processes differently. With all the craziness out there a lot of people are struggling. You do not have to struggle alone. Talk to someone. It can be a friend, family member, member of the clergy or a medical or mental health professional. Please seek help.

Most of all, everyone has their own issues and some people may not be able to wear a mask because of a medical or psychological issue. This has been a huge topic in the disabled community. It seems about half just will not or can not wear a mask. Most just don’t understand. Some it’s a sensory issue. Some a medical one. I see this a lot in my elderly patients as well. Some just don’t understand why they need to wear the mask when they are not sick. Some have health problems. Don’t judge. Don’t yell. Don’t lecture. If you are concerned about your safety, just distance yourself from them. Problem solved peacefully.

Most of all through all of this…Be kind.

Dare to (travel) dream

One of my best friends lives in Australia. We talk almost every day. I know it sounds crazy but with modern technology it’s possible. She has a friend that lives in the UK that I have never met but have gotten to know in group chats with the three of us. The three of us travelers and we are all struggling with the lockdowns of our countries. So we have started to make plans for the three of us to get together on two different trips based of when our countries free us to roam again.

One of the trips we are planning is for the two of them to come here to California. I will be their lovely tour guide and we will enjoy a few days here in the wine country before starting our road trip north. Talking about where we can go and what we do will largely be figured out by what our UK friend wants to do since I live here and my Aussie friend has been here several times.

The other trip we are talking about is a meetup in the UK. No big plans there yet but it will be a shorter trip of 5-7 days. The two of them will be working some of the days leaving their evenings free. My Aussie friend has a branch there with a team she supervises so she will plan it as a work trip. We will coordinate schedules and I’ll probably play tourist while they are working and meet up with them for lunches and evenings.

I’m looking forward to us all being together. It will be interesting to see how people react to 3 women who are obviously really close but who all have very distinctly different accents. I know when my Aussie friend and I are together we get a lot of people who ask how we know each other. It really confuses people. We are 3 strong, independent women who travel well. We have all traveled the world alone. We all love food and wine and a good laugh with friends.

So even in a pandemic you can close the borders, but you can’t stop people from dreaming about their next trip.

Oh, when I go to the UK for our meetup; I will be bringing as much wine as I can for those evenings together. It’s my job. Well, that and Levi’s in their sizes. 😁

Merry Christmas!

Wow. Christmas is here already. It seems like it snuck up on me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t rushing around like a crazy person. I’m organized and pretty much have all my shopping done before Thanksgiving. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

This Christmas is different from all my other Christmases. We did not have my husband’s family over on Christmas Eve. We will not be cooking a big Christmas dinner tonight. I am really not a fan of Covid Christmas. I miss my big holidays. I miss drinking wine and playing cards. I miss seeing everyone. I miss the laughter. I love my husband and kids, but I miss having a house full of people.

I use to do the traditional holidays going to my parents home for every holiday when I was married to my ex-husband. When we separated my family continued to invite him because he “was part of the family”. I made it clear that inviting him was the same as excluding me because I did not want to be with him and that included holidays. My family thought I was being unreasonable. I thought the divorce was pretty clear that I wanted nothing to do with him. But my family chose to keep inviting him so I started a new tradition of having all holidays with my friends. If you don’t have a place to go you are welcome at my home.

As my friends paired off, got married and had kids (as I did) the gatherings grew. Holidays at my house became a place to go to avoid your family. They became a place to go to stop the fight of who’s family you were going to spend the holiday with. My house took in the strays with no family around. We take friends of friends. Everyone is welcome because no one should spend it alone.

Thankfully, my husband agrees with my open invite policy. At one point I was the person alone with no where to go. I never want anyone I know to feel like that. Because of this, we usually have at least 20 people at a small gathering and have had well over 100 people over for a large gathering (4th of July is our biggest holiday and usually have between 100-150 people over.) 4th of July is bigger than our wedding was. So holidays with just the 4 of us just don’t seem right to me.

Just like the rest of the holidays from Easter on we will adjust. This year the kids will be excited. My older son is getting a new trampoline and my younger son is getting his first bike (with training wheels). So we will have a lot of going up and down the street teaching him to ride to burn off those Christmas cookies and fudge.

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, have a great one! Try to make the best of it despite all the changes. Find some laughter. Eat the cookies. Call your family. Text your friends. Have pie for breakfast. Binge on feel good movies all day. Declare today PJ day and don’t even get dressed. It’s almost the new year. We made it this far we can go a little farther as we wish 2020 goodbye and welcome in 2021 with hope that the worst is behind us.

Adulting

At some point in my life I became an adult. I’m not sure when or how, but it happened. I’m married, with two kids and a mortgage. That isn’t what made me an adult though. This realization came to me as I pulled a shirt out of the washer.

You may wonder how a shirt made me feel like an adult. Well, I got paint on my shirt the first time I wore it. Blue paint on an orange shirt. Not good. The paint had dried by the time I saw it at the end of the evening. I scrubbed it by hand and only got part of it out. The next day I put stain stick on it and washed the shirt in every load of laundry I did. It was still there at the end of the day, although less than in the morning. I added more stain stick. A couple days later I washed it with my kids clothing (they are seriously dirty boys). As I pulled the shirt out the paint was finally gone!

I stared at the shirt sans paint and marveled in the fact that I have mastered laundry. Now it isn’t just the paint on the shirt… In February my sisters house caught on fire and I was given the task of trying to salvage what I could of their closets. Of the 3 of us working on this task I was the only one to be able to get the smoke smell out of the laundry. I even got the smell out of the singed towels that were on fire and used to sop up some of the water from the fire hoses. I showed my sister what I did and she followed my instructions and saved most of their wardrobe. I have mastered laundry. I’m now advising others on how to remove stains.

There’s a young woman that I work with. She is smart and reliable and has a small child just a little younger than my youngest despite the 25 year age difference between us. She often posts “how to” questions on Facebook and I always have an answer. Recently she told me that having me around is like having a live “life-hacker” right there.

Most recently we were plagued with wildfires in my area again. One was really close to us. I have several friends and family that lost their homes. Evacuations came up to the other side of the freeway from us so it was time to prepare for evacuation. It only took us 15 minutes to prep our family of 4 to leave our home with all the photos, documents and irreplaceable mementos. Now we can be out in 5 minutes. Thankfully the winds died down and they got the side of the fire near me under control so we didn’t need to evacuate. When I went back to work a couple days later my coworkers were amazed that I could gather things up that quickly. I thought 15 minutes was a long time.

All of these things as well as many others have shown me that at some point I became an adult. I don’t feel particularly old and wise… ok some days I feel old but I never feel wise. Yet here I am. Master of laundry. Imparting my wisdom of my years into those younger (and sometimes even older) than myself. I’m prepared for emergencies. I am an adult.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Except I am so far behind that I wonder if I can get it all done.

I’m an extremely organized person. I hate to admit it, but I am that type A personality person with everything in its place, a schedule, a to do list and everything is coordinated and color coded and alphabetized… Ok, not everything. But I’m not that far off.

This year I’m behind. I’m never behind. But I had a bit more going on than usual and a lot of it was NOT my stuff. Don’t get me wrong, a marriage, kids, full time job, photography side business and writing a book is a lot for someone to juggle alone. But you see, I have these two friends who need my help. Either one would be there for me in an instant day or night if I needed them so I’m there for them as well and they both need me. You may ask why… well they are both hoarders and they are both moving. One moved about 5 months ago the other one is moving in 5 months from now.

Why does this involve me? Well I’m good with them. I’m organized. I know them well and I know how they think and what is important to them. So I help them work through their stuff. It involves a lot of time and I can only spare a couple hours a week to help them so I need to alternate between them.

Well, when the first friend moved she was no where ready so it took a lot longer to move her than expected. It was crunch time at the end so everything got put in unlabeled boxes and bags and moved to the new house to be sorted later. I spent about 4 weeks in the evenings after work almost every night helping her paint, pack, unpack, move stuff, find boxes five months later we have barely made a dent. Seriously, at least 50% needs to go away. Given away, sold, thrown away… I don’t care where it goes as long as it doesn’t stay there. I have a plan. It will get done. I was helping her last weekend and told her I just can’t help her this weekend because I have too much I need to do of my own stuff but I can start helping again after the new year.

Friend #2 is selling her (very full) house and moving into an RV to travel in her retirement. Probably 90% of what she has needs to go. The rest will go into storage. We have been working on it for the last year and have a plan. We took from September through the end of the year off and will purge hard core after the new year.

As for why I’m so far behind… well my shopping is done. But typically the day after thanksgiving I wrap my gifts and decorate the tree so I can just kick back and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. Well friend #1’s Mom passed away suddenly and she needed help to stay busy so I spent the weekend coming and going to help her stay busy. So none of my stuff got done. It has been like that with me spending all my spare time helping her or spending time with her to help her through this rough patch. I told her this weekend I can’t help her because I need to get my own stuff done and it’s now the last weekend before Christmas. I am out of time.

Next year will be different. Next year I’m going back to having everything done by the end of thanksgiving weekend so I can relax and enjoy the season and not be rushing to finish everything in time. Next year I have goals. I have a plan for 2020.

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope you all have a relaxing holiday season full of joy. But just know if you are behind and still have a lot to do you are not alone.