Thursday, March 15, 2007

The little sister I never knew I always wanted

Sometimes, when her plans fall through or her friends are all paired off and she doesn't feel like being the third wheel, Mike's daughter hangs out with us. It's kind of a big deal since she is 17 and practically a high school senior and is waaaaay to cool to be hanging out with people who are old, like Mike us. So what if she's just being generous and allowing us to relive our youth for a bit and be seen in public with her? I feel so freaking cool that I find myself checking out all the hot Temecula teenage boys and wondering which one has a Mrs. Robinson complex. Anyway... Sometimes this happens because she's bored and she wants to be entertained. Being that her father and I make a heck of a lot more money than all of her pizza-parlor working friends put together, she figures that she is not only going to be entertained, but lavishly entertained. Like going to Magic Mountain during the day, getting all hopped up on sugar and caffeine and then coming home to go Midnight Bowling and finishing off the day with a soak in the jacuzzi tub while eating pizza and watching movies. And don't even mention going to breakfast the next morning.

But I have to admit that I love it when this happens. Her dad frequently asks if he has to separate the two of us because all of the estrogen-fueled giggling fits are way too much for him to handle. Put all three of us in the car and it is assured that given first crack at seating, he will opt for the back and let the two of us girls man our Ipods and sing every song word for word. She's the girl who won't take no for an answer, asking me every three minutes if I want to watch the latest Will Ferrell movie with her until I finally say yes. She's the girl who loved, LOVED staying up with the "big kids" on New Years and was delighted that you can be a grown-up and still indulge a craving for cheeseburgers and fries at 3:00 in the morning. This is the girl who would rather drive a Jeep than a sports car and when she grows up and gets her own house, she wants to rescue a dog in every color and size. And I think the main reason I've taken such a shine to her, is that this girl reminds me a lot of me. We talk quite a bit, going out to the local coffee shop to get out of the house for a bit. We talk about school and boys - the normal stuff that seems to be on every girl's mind. But we also get into the prickly subjects: how do you remain friends with someone that all your other friends hate? What do you say when they make fun of her? How will I know when I've met THE ONE? What if it happened tomorrow? Do you think I'm too young to realize it for what it would be? And sometimes, like last week, she had a lot going on in her head, but didn't want to talk. So, with her at the wheel and me as the designated DJ, the two of us went for a drive up into Wine Country. We didn't know where we were going or why we were driving aimlessly, but we didn't care. About 20 minutes in, I remembered I had the camera in the back of the car. I've been envisioning a couple different shots lately and figured if we could find the right backdrop, I could try it out. She was game and suddenly the mood changed - we had a mission.

I made her pull off the road and onto a narrow shoulder and then told her to go traipsing around in the tall grass. Nevermind the snake holes and roadside detritus that littered our every step. And don't worry if there is no trail or path - we'll make our own. Three times I made her pull over and each time she was game, up for whatever I asked her to do with minimal complaining. These are what we came up with....

You can see the rest of the set here.

Going through all these pictures made me realize how great she is. She's got her little quirks and rough spots that can sometimes drive me crazy, but we all go through times when we're oh-so-less than perfect. But I want her to know what a beautiful person she is, inside and out. That she's wise beyond her years as well as naive and overprotected. She worries so much about the world and the future and her place in them, but she's so optimistic that it's contagious. She's got a great sense of humor and a near photographic memory and an awesome smile and I just want her to know that everything will work out for her one day... just like it's supposed to. And it will be fan-fucking-tastic.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dog Days

There is this really cool empty lot at the end of my street. I think it is slated to be the grounds for a new church or something like that, but in the two years I've lived up here, nothing has happened. The lot leads to a preserve, the home of the Temecula River (I think). But anyone who grew up in Santee and knows what the area behind Big Rock Park looks like, knows what I'm talking about. (Although I've never checked for crawdads back there.) For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a place where mostly teenagers go when they don't want to be caught doing something. There are some trails, a lot of brush, broken glass and grafitti. Yesterday, I found a shopping cart and a full-sized hide-a-bed, with the bed extended. Although who would even lie down on it fully clothed is beyond me.

Anyway, I took the camera out with the initial intent to photograph this really cool naked tree. Unfortunately, I'm no Ansel Adams and get bored with the run of the mill nature photography, despite all my good intentions. I quickly focused on photographing my dogs who were loving the vast expanse of uncharted territory. Although they were loathe to sit still, I got a few good ones from the afternoon. Despite the fact that I forgot to check my camera settings and shot the whole thing at 1600 ISO. Ugh. Always something like that to remind me I'm an amateur.

To see the rest of the set, go here.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Does this post really have to have a topic?

Because two pints of Smithwicks and a piece of hot pizza burning my mouth tends to distract a girl from a specific theme.

I went to work today knowing that by 7:00pm, I would be presenting my first photo assignment of the year. It's just class as City College, and after all my years of public speaking, shouldn't be a big deal. But somehow it always is. As 7:00pm grew closer, everytime I thought about getting up in front of the class, the more I wanted to skip it. In the end, I made it. But the sentiment was there until about 8:30pm.

After class, I thought I knew what I wanted to do. Go home and proof pictures until midnight, like I do nearly every night. Instead, to even my surprise, I drove past my street and kept going about a mile until I got to the local pub. It's a little Irish-themed place that seems like a cross between a really hip little dive bar and a Claim Jumpers. Yeah, think chain restaurant with a band on a tiny little stage. That's about it. I probably wouldn't frequent it as much as I do, except that there really is nothing to do in Temecula and my spirit isn't broken enough to go hang out at the casinos.

So I went to the pub and ordered a beer. Smithwicks is generally pretty good and tonight did not disappoint. I had no idea there was going to be a band, but I recognized the lead singer as the one from the
Disco Pimps and I knew that it wouldn't be THAT bad. (Afterwards, I decided that yes, they really were that bad. But, I laughed at the crowd while drinking beer, so it was still worth it.) Anyway, I ordered my beer, was given a raffle ticket (I still have no idea what the prize was), and settled down behind a bunch of middle-aged men who could have sworn they were at a frat reunion. At one point I pulled the waitress aside, one of my favorite waitresses - we have a rapport - and said that they were cracking me up with all of their crazy drunken dancing and brash comments. She rolled her eyes in agreement.

After the intermission, the band started really getting into it; leaving out all the disco (they are the disco pimps, remember?) and playing top 40 standards from 'jammin' Z90, three years ago. And then, the lead singer said the thing that's been sticking in my head all night. "Let me hear all the ladies in the crowd! This place is full of hot, Temecula, divorced women!"

Yes, he has a way with words.
And after that, there wasn't much to do but finish my beer and head home.