Bleh. And non-bleh.

1. I'm not NOT writing about last Friday for any particular reason.  SO many people have done it and have crafted beautiful posts, etc.  It's not just that I don't have anything new to add, it's not that I think nonsense on my blog (me me me) is more important.  I just have Very Big Feelings about it while ALSO feeling like it's so far away from anything I can understand (although I don't think empathy really equals assumed ownership) and I can't sum it up and, well, it's there.  Like it is for everyone, I think.

2. I assume everyones schedule is jam-packed and insane right now, but hopefully yours involves more cookies and parties and sparkly dresses.  I haven't had a cookie (save for a few Candy Cane Oreos I used to hold me over from my morning stress bagel to my 4pm lunch) and I skipped a party I was SO excited about last Friday because it started at 8pm and I got home from work about 830.  I don't own a sparkly dress.  I have bought three gifts for Christmas and this afternoon I realized that THAT IS HAPPENING IN ABOUT THREE DAYS, HOLY BAJEEZ.  One of the gifts I bought turned out to be a microscopic doll and although my 4 yr old niece is small, she's not THAT SMALL, AMAZON.

I'm fortunate (?) that my company closes down between Christmas and New Year's, but while this seems exciting! and wonderful! and permissive!, it is also a bit of a PAIN IN THE ASS because it just means that there are THINGS that have to be accomplished NOW and if they are not accomplished there will be NO ONE to do them later and then I'll be over a week behind.  I am having stress nightmares about our international partners emailing me and saying if I miss a deadline before the New Year something won't happen and things won't ship and I WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING.  But I won't GET that email because we're TECHNICALLY CLOSED and I will come back on Jan 2nd or 3rd (I should clear up when that date actually IS) and everything will be ruined.  RUINED.  

Clearly, I am a hair stressed.

And then tonight was my first big Christmas-y event, the Christmas Pageant/Concert/Thing at my nephew's school and I picked up my mom to save her from driving and parking and taking herself since she's on the way and I use my heater (I suspect she doesn't use the heater in her car because it uses up some expensive… car resource that does not exist).  It was so cute and my nephew actually sang with his class this year (the first graders) and the kindergartners BELTED their song and everyone was DARLING and I got to hold my two-month-old niece who was wearing a penguin hat and LO! HOLIDAY SPIRIT arrived on the wings of a brilliant, packed church and small-people voices.

3. I have a lot (A LOT) of good.

    I shot an AMAZING wedding earlier this month and got to hang out with some internet friends and it was PHENOMENAL.  (I shot ANOTHER internet friend just after Thanksgiving and her family was so beautiful and I had so much FUN.  I sometimes find it odd that I ever thought the internet was full of strange people (although, well, at the time I had plenty of experience backing up THAT theory too).  I'm so pleased to have found all the BEST Internet People.)

    My family made Christmas tamales when I was in New Orleans.  This means that I don't have to do ANY dinner cooking for the day and ALSO, I did not have to do any PREP in November and I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT WAS GREAT PLANNING.

    My tiny niece was baptized last Saturday and she's so cute and it's fun to REMEMBER that and there's Chrism and AH.  THAT was a good day.  My sister made tacos.  I got her a fair trade stuffed lamb.  (Hippie.) (Me.)

    I LOVE my job.  Even the stress dreams don't take anything away from it.

    Last night I met up with an old coworker (from the Job from Hell) and it was fun and she's looking for a new job and I might be able to help her.  It would be nice to have more people I like around me and it would be AWESOME to get her on board with my company (for everyone).  Also, there was wine and beet bruschetta and avocado bruschetta.

    My Birchbox had Kerastase samples. Who could ask for anything more?

*** 

I'm going to post the rest of my New Orleans pictures here because (at my posting rate) you'd still be seeing them in MARCH.  Ah, New Orleans.  That's ANOTHER great thing.

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On Nice Pocket Friends

I've been hesitant to respond to comments (or even post) since my post before last where I talk about food and eating and how I just don't feel like myself.  Thank you, everyone, for your nice words and you all are lovely and I wish you could come over for champagne.  I have VERY nice pocket friends and VERY nice out-of-pocket friends and I am a lucky, loved girl.

***

1. New realization: good intentions don't really matter if you don't DO THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO.

Ok, so this is kind of a dumb statement. I get it. Not Earth shattering. It's another variation of needing to get organized and remembering the things that I want to do, the things that are REALLY important to me that I, I don't know, push further and further down my to-do list.  Actually, THAT'S the problem.  I don't HAVE a to-do list.  I get these ideas and I'm excited about them and I start on Step 1 of 5.  But then shit stays at Step 2 for an ungodly amount of time until I REMEMBER and THEN it happens.  New idea (which I'm CLEARLY the FIRST PERSON IN HISTORY TO HAVE): WRITE THINGS DOWN. FORCE YOURSELF.

This doesn't happen at work. I don't miss things and I'm actually (annoyingly) the kind of person who is frustrated if OTHER people miss things.  Certainly, when someone is PAYING you MONEY to follow through on a set list of tasks, most people are going to do that. (Surprisingly, not all! It's shocking!)  But at work, I always know what I'm supposed to be doing and when it's supposed to be done and I work well under those conditions. Make a to-do list, SELF. THIS IS SIMPLE. GEEZ.

2. I am terrified of goats.

Several years ago, when my boyfriend and I had just started dating, we were talking on the phone late at night.  I guess he didn't know about this goat fear of mine and we started talking about it and I'm like "LOOK. Goats. They are TERRIFYING." As someone who grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, who HAD goats and thinks baby goats are some of the cutest creatures EVER, well.  Let's just say he didn't understand.  "Goats are great!  They climb EVERYWHERE and they eat things and they're really nice! They're just goats! What kind of person is scared of goats?"

THIS KIND OF PERSON RIGHT HERE.

So, to bolster my argument surrounding goats and their sheer horror, I told him that they have scary devil eyes.  And, although he wasn't in the room or even within a 30 mile radius, I decided to Google image search "goat eyes." Because I am clearly not smart and ALSO, I must have FORGOTTEN how the internet WORKS. YOU probably know what happens when you Google image search "goat eyes" because you're an intelligent person who knows that you're just going to have about TWENTY GOAT EYES STARING AT YOU FROM A LUMINESCENT SCREEN.

About this time, I notice that someone is shining a flashlight into my window.  I was renting a house with my best friends and their two babies at the time (long story involving an under-water townhouse and a fast adoption) and despite the crowd, I was still my regular paranoid self.  Our back yard kind of backed up against the neighbor's yard and they had dogs (well, we ALSO had dogs) and I'm thinking it's the guy next door looking for poop/raccoons/runaway pets.  But it keeps happening and, given the fact that an entire goat farm just climbed through my computer screen and violated me with their square beady pupils, I GET SCARED.  ANYTHING COULD BE HAPPENING.  UFO? SERIAL KILLER WITH BAD FLASHLIGHT SKILLS? OFFENDED GOATS?

If you don't agree that I had every right to be completely and OUTRAGEOUSLY terrified, well, I just don't understand your nonchalance.  I'm still on the phone and Kevin is saying "go to the window and LOOK, I'm sure it's NOTHING", but I've watched enough Law and Order to know that the people who go to the window either get killed first or see things that they don't want to see that THEN makes them the NEXT person to get killed somewhere down the line.  Someone who is 30 miles away who IS NOT SEEING THE FLASHLIGHT IN MY ROOM isn't helping me and the house is SILENT and no one else knows about the murderer/goat hoard/aliens and so I get OFF the phone ("yawn, it's SO late, I'm just GOING TO GO TO BED, night night now, NO BIGGIE.") and decide that I will SLEEP ON THE COUCH because THAT IS SAFE. (This is poor thinking, I know.)

I'm laying on this cold leather couch, stiff as board just WAITING and the damn cat won't shut up and he comes over and tries to lay RIGHT on my CHEST and I'm convinced that this cat (who is old with no teeth and who doesn't like to cuddle) is having some sixth sense about the criminal danger that we are both in when there is a HUGE crash and a deep rumble and the house shakes and then rain starts falling in bucket-sized drops.

And that is how I learn that lightening storms sometimes disguise themselves as serial killer with a flashlight.

***

Still on New Orleans shots from the Garden District.  (Jess- I can't wait to see if you have something similar!!)

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On The Blathering 2012

The Blathering.  MAN.

I knew of the event in its first year, but it was just far enough away and I was just too shy and too removed from Internet life to feel comfy enough to meet these lovely ladies who were meeting so closeby.  I wanted to be in Chicago, I REALLY wanted to be in Austin, but NOW.  I finally made it to NOLA.

The benefit to (probably) being one of the last recappers for the weekend means that I can kind of see what everyone else has written and STEAL THEIR IDEAS.  Don't think I won't, new friends.  I CAN TALK A LOT, you might have noticed this by now. 

I think the thing about the Blathering is this: you will meet the most amazing ladies.  And you will LIKE them, you will want to know more about them, their families, their accomplishments.  You'll find insane senses of humor that match yours and people who like to just walk around as much as you do and people who don't think it's weird that you know more about their kids than you know about your coworkers kids.  And these people will know you, at least a little, and when they ask to meet up to get a meal or wait for a cab it will be NORMAL. Your inbox might grow a little and your texts might increase and your Twitter feed will explode.  You'll find your newest role models, people who you can reach out to, ladies that will inspire the crap out of you and make you want to be better and more and, at the same time, exactly who you are.

Here are the things *I* will not forget: 

– I have met lots of people at airports.  People I KNOW in REAL LIFE and have MET BEFORE.  And I've been awkward and uncomfortable and very "oh, remember me?! Now we're going to hang out and I haven't seen you in ages!"  This was NOT my experience.  I get off the plane, my almost-dead phone starts buzzing (with ANONYMOUS numbers because even though I STARTED the Facebook cell number posting, I didn't DO anything with it).  I meet @jayesel (happy and charming), @lauradiniwilk (hilarious and comfy instantly), @happilyeverme and @littlemissmel (GORGEOUS AND from near me- stealing her) and instantly we're talking about Blathering alibis and Jen's due date and BAM.  Four people I could comfortably rely on for the rest of the weekend in case everyone else was insane.

– @happilyeverme and I walk forever (STARVING) before… deciding on a lunch spot across the street from the hotel.  Po' Boys.  Talking to M about her babies and her work and, you guys- SHE IS FUNNY.  Beautiful and sweet and down-for-you in the way that makes you want to have many adventures together because she would never, ever leave you in a dark alley.

– I meet my Th night roommates (@rambleginger (of the perfect hair and famous politics who oozes kindness and smarts) and @barbetti (a great mom role model who is tall and sweet and is SERIOUSLY pretty)) for five minutes before caving for a supposedly quick nap.  Wake up and am walking around disoriented-ly when they come back from the evenings plans.  (Whoops.)  But it's ok because we stay up talking and laughing and I finish their drinks from Port of Call and I'm pretty sure I tell them about taking family road trips in a one-ton truck and sleeping on a shelf made for plants.  You can tell them anything.  Also, ask them about books you should read.

– Friday brunch at the Court of Two Sisters.  Light on the jazz, heavy on the cake options.  I give @shelikespurple (my internet soulmate) her first hug, order a screwdriver and luck into a table with her, @kristie999 (HOT and CLASSY), @rambleginger, @jesabesblog (BE HER FRIEND, she is wise) and @ebj123 (you adorable crafty genius, sorry about that bird poop).  Eat a biscuit in line, have too much (impossible) cheese on my omelet.

– Stroll with @snoozical (SO funny, completely down to Earth, AWESOME) and @megglesp (SHARP, so pretty, also instantly comfy).  Find a chandelier slightly out of budget ($185,000) and a gay wedding complete with a second-line parade.  Make a new friend at Lush who invites me to his drag show.

– Friday night dinner.  Meet almost everyone.  People are rad.  @twoadults (totally understands how much I want to squeeze her babies, GORGEOUS, funny) hangs out with me, even when @polkadot_hippo (Alligator Poem reader, RIDICULOUSLY witty, coming to a city near me) comes over and makes fun of my life-long desire for a Segway tour. 

– Saturday morning tour of Sucre, the Garden District, Lafayette Cemetery #1 with @happilyeverme, @mamabub (BEST roommate ever, sassy, AMAZING hair, SWEET as can be, FUN IN A MAJOR WAY) and @justexpressive (another of those people I've wanted to meet since forever, just as genuine and great as can be expected. This is repetitive, I KNOW, but she is also SO PRETTY.)  @justexpressive and I basically take the same exact pictures.

– Beignets with @mamabub, @lifeinatinytown (another super-mom, warm, incredibly friendly) and @sarabelleplaine (covet her hair, HILARIOUS, SMART).  Followed by headshots with @smmollahan (cute!, manages to be everywhere at once, very caring).  My MINOR Blathering regret is not shooting my headshot people FIRST THING because this ended up being my only shoot over the weekend and I'm so sad to have missed @mauralessa, @shelikespurple and @snoozical.

– Saturday night dinner.  Hanging out with my table ladies (all mentioned above except for @psuedostoops who is TALL and STUNNING and smart and @hbapothecary who is JUST AS ADVERTISED plus an EXTRA dose of awesomeness and sweetness).  Meeting @narmalie who is not only gorgeous and talented and funny, but in LOVE with her job, passionate about her family and New Orleans and education and GAH, listening to her and @psuedostoops? I WAS IN HEAVEN.

– Sunday morning breakfast goodbyes at the B&B.  Quick headshots (which are lovely) with @justexpressive, I'll show you soon.  Realizing that I missed so many ladies, some of who I spoke to a little, ALL of who I sincerely was excited to meet.  @booksnchickens, WHAT HAPPENED.  I HAD SO MUCH TO SAY TO YOU and you just IMAGINED ME A HUSBAND!  With photographic proof!  @Amy_Estes, you live close and thus CANNOT escape! @LittleLeafAsh, you didn't get to practice with my 50mm and I didn't get to fawn all over your bangs and Gabe and nerdy photo nerdiness.  @laurenpetron, @arwenelizabeth: We barely spoke, but I'm pretending we got more time in because I consider you BOTH internet bright spots, INTERNET SUPERNOVAS, in fact.  We'll catch up on all that unnecessary "talking" later.  

– I mentioned my MINOR regret, but my MAJOR regret? The same as everyone else: not getting to speak to everyone I wanted to and put them on speed dial.  Missing @simplykat and @stateiamin, not talking enough to @aprilapryll and @bearca and @andreaunplugged and @cluelesshopeful and @mrsdangelo and @tubasheila.  Sitting at a table with @notraisingbrats and @hillarycopsey and not saying MORE, because I LOVE them.  Not making @ericahuff adopt me.  Letting @regan talk me into her signature drink (The UBER classy Sparkling @Regan), but not making her tell me her running secrets.  Meeting @mauralessa after YEARS of considering her one of the sweetest and most LOVELY people on the internet and wanting to adopt her mom and make her let me shoot her wedding BUT THERE WAS NO TIME, I AM SORRY MAURA.  I need to go to PHILLY.

-Sunday.  The SAINTS/FALCONS game (thanks to @ericahuff and @regan, SERIOUS SERIOUS THANKS) with @smacdo03. Pretzels.  I don't have to say more because I WENT TO A SAINTS GAME AT THE SUPERDOME.  And Sarah is AMAZING company who sang the Star Spangled Banner like a foot away from me with the voice of an angel.  She is SO GREAT and easy to talk to and thank YOU too because it would NOT have been the same with anyone else.

– Staying with @snoozical and @Incog (seriously.  This gal is SO thoughtful and funny and delightful.  SO MUCH DELIGHT.) for one last night.  A perfect wind-down complete with a reappearing @rambleginger for another dinner and more beignets.  Even MORE Sucre the next morning and I bought a photo of a little girl (which didn't sound creepy until Susie pointed it out. "Oh, you went to New Orleans and you bought a little girl?" THANK YOU, SUSIE.)

* I was one of those people who really didn't want to name names because GAH! What if I forget someone?! So, please, forgive me if I did and let's text or something.  REALLY.

Also! I used Twitter handles because it seemed the most… anonymous? If you'd prefer different, PLEASE tell me and I'm happy to change or unlink ASAP.

UPDATE: DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I just had to get out of bed because I MISSED A VERY, EXTREMELY important section.  I BASICALLY SKIPPED THE ORGANIZERS.  The very people who go OUT OF THEIR WAY to make our time awesome and special and organized and pretty.  I wish that I could have had more time with @adellstevens, @mightymaggie, @notthatyouasked and @insidedog along with the organizers I did get to hang out with a bit and mentioned up above.  Seriously, your committment to this event and to making everyone have a great time is phenomenal and SO appreciated and I know that YOU all are the very reason that WE all had so much fun.  THANK YOU.

***

This gorgeous dog (and his/her gorgeous friend) were somewhere in the Garden District.  I wanted to steal him, but then they started growling so maybe it was a good thing I didn't.  Also, my luggage was big, but not THAT big.

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On trophies

Six.

***

1. I am miserable at receiving compliments.

Everyone is SO nice and says such nice THINGS and I… cringe.  And I'm so thankful for your lovely words, really, I AM.  But as gracious as I like to think I am, compliments leave me frantic and I don't know how to respond like a normal human being.  

You are all very nice.  THANK YOU.  Times a million.

2. I apologize a lot.

My awesome friend, A (who is my very first friend that went from BEST FRIEND/PERSON ON EARTH to blog reader instead of the other way around) pointed out that I apologized a lot in my video.  And it's true, I apologize a whole heck of a lot.  I'm sorry.

3. I was once tricked into going to a rave and it's kind of a fun story.

I don't really have anything against raves and it would have been fun, maybe, IF SOMEONE HAD WARNED ME.  Except for the 16 year olds in what amounts to underwear because I am worried about them and there are MANY dark corners and hordes of people and a lot of them are probably on drugs.  (It is ENTIRELY possible that I was one of maybe three people who were NOT on drugs and I am kind of old enough to be their PARENT and I wanted to give them all cardigans.)  There was very little to eat, drinks were CRAZY expensive, it didn't feel like there was enough water for this BLAZING hot evening and lots of people were so out of it that they just sat down where ever they were and everyone kind of… stepped on them.

Please don't feel judged if you ever invite me to a music festival and I ask lots of follow up questions.

***

One of the outrageous things I said in my video yesterday was "Look at my ACHIEVEMENTS" with a sweeping arm gesture.  Followed by "next, I will show you my trophies" and a stage whisper of "I don't actually have any trophies." This is a lie and so here it is: my trophy.  Now you've seen it all.

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On first videos

FIVE. (It's going to be mandatory now, sorry.)

***

IT IS OVER EIGHT MINUTES.  I am SORRY.

I promise my chin is not as scary in real life.

Be gentle.

 

*** 

This shot has been the background of my phone since I took it.  One of my favorites ever taken on a cell phone.

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On happy police

FOUR DAYS.  Clearly, this daily numbering is going to get old.  But, FOUR DAYS.  I cannot quite believe it.

***

1. I did not go on a beach vacation until I was 28 years old.

I was born with genes that make it a little bit impossible for me to relax.  It feels comfortable to work with a packed schedule and no wiggle room with lots of demands.  I clean my bathroom for fun.  Washing dishes is delightful, as is laundry.  Busy is good.

I had done plenty of traveling by the time I was 28.  But every place was to a destination where I had a plan and an agenda and a stack of places the I Needed to visit.  Not much time for relaxing, although I will admit that the one traveling companion I had who made me get up at 5:15 am to walk 4.5 miles to the train station for a day long trip with 8 hours on a train was EVEN A LITTLE MUCH FOR ME.

But then I was invited to a girlfriend's parent's time share in Mexico and it was like MAGIC.  I had two choices for my daytime activity: beach? Or POOL?  Did I want to make myself a steak salad or have someone cook for me at the on-site restaurants.  Yes, I WOULD like a margarita!

Since then, I usually rent a car so that I can get around to take pictures and experience the location.  But on NO schedule with FEW expectations.  I highly recommend this variety of traveling.

2. I have less hair on one side of my head than the other.'

Significantly so.  To the point that if you simply place your hands on my skull you will notice that one side is sufficiently padded and the other side is "oops, you may be knocked over if a pigeon poops there."  I'm not sure why or how or when it happened, but it's true.  One hairdresser tried to pretend it was a "thing" that people just didn't know about (kind of how "everyone" has one larger foot?) except… I think she was messing with me.  I have never met anyone else with this ailment.

My superpower is inadequate hair and clogged drains.

(PS. THIS bullet point explains yesterday's post title.  I LOST the original and had to re-write and MISSED the tidbit.  QUALITY CONTROL was OBVIOUSLY taking one of those DO NOTHING BEACH VACATIONS.)

3. I'm really, really good in an emergency.

Considering my use of capitalization and emphasis, you might think that I'm really animated.  And you would be right!  

But not in emergencies.  In emergencies, I am different.  I will calm you down and get you help and stay with you so you will not panic.  I will not be grossed out or overwhelmed or faint.  I will be EFFICIENT!  And SOOTHING.

I mean, don't HAVE an emergency, seriously.  But… you know.

(I am really a nurturer by nature.  I want to HELP you.  And make things BETTER.  LET'S TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING SO YOU FEEL NICE AGAIN. )

4. I have two namesake items: Carla-bombs and Carla-Mel Squares.

The first is the result of having my first car bomb on a grad school trip to New York City.  I posit that I did not EVER hit TRUE DRUNKENESS that evening.  I had approximately thirteen.

(Also, I think perhaps no one calls them car bombs anymore?  Like, it's offensive or something?  I am not sure…)

The second is the world's most delightful treat, which I make every year for the holidays.  If you're British or know someone who is British or just like… Britain, you might know of these: caramel squares, usually eaten along with tea. (Or, if you're me, shoved into my mouth at any point during the day because DELICIOUS.)

Not many people know of them here, so when I started making them they became a little famous and one thing led to another and, well, SIGNATURE DESSERT.  It is not so bad to have one of these, especially when they're quite easy to whip up and people act as though you've gifted them gold bars upon receipt.  I suggest that you limit the supply of your signature dessert because I'm pretty sure 95% of the reason people act as though these are GIFTS FROM HEAVEN is the scarcity.

***

I traveled to St. Thomas a year or two ago to shoot a wedding.  We happened to arrive on the last day of Carnaval and I was caught off guard by an amazing street parade downtown.  These pictures are some of my favorites, particularly the second shot where you can see the policeman capturing the moment.

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On thinning hair

THREE DAYS.  THREE.

***

1. I would like to eat all your cheese, meat, carbohydrates and vegetables.  I would TECHNICALLY love to eat all your fruit, but I won't.

I, well, I can't stand the texture of fruit.  I don't like pulp or seeds or little fuzz.  It makes my mouth forget to work right.  Which is a DAMN SHAME because fruit is DELICIOUS.  Thankfully, I can do most any fruit item without the textures and consume plenty of apples and grapes and sometimes bananas.

2. I really, really love clean cars but I've kind of come to the conclusion that I will never actually HAVE a clean car on a consistent basis.

I tend to be the type of person who lives out of my car a lot: an overnight bag, extra gym clothes, close-toed shoes, a beach chair (you never know when you'll go to the beach! Or when you'll need extra seating!)

3. I have developed a taste for roller coasters which sadly did not develop when I was a teenager and could actually SPEND TIME and GO TO PLACES WITH ROLLER COASTERS.

I remember going to Six Flags parks and going on SOME rides but not the BIG RIDES because (and I have discussed this somewhere before) I'm NOT an adrenaline junkie.  Even skiing scares the shit of me.  I like to prevent moving my body forward rapidly because everything in my head starts to scream that THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE, DUMMY.

I've gotten over this, mostly, with fun and fast and exciting roller coasters.  I have not forgiven skiing for it's lack of safety.

***

A few months ago, the space shuttle Endeavor was making a retirement tour of the US.  I happened to be photographing an adorable little family the morning that it was scheduled to (unknowingly) be flying over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Tons of people were out and it was honestly, one of those very cool and exciting things that you know you'll remember forever.

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