Inertia: A Lesson in Part-Time Employment

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So things here have been slow lately. Christmas break left me to lick my wounds, recover, and begin to enjoy life a little at a slower pace. Andrew and I are now engaged and planning a wedding. He finally moved in the middle of December, and things have never been better. I keep thinking of how I am looking forward to practicing a new signature, and how foreign the idea seems every time I sign a receipt or give my name to someone. I am trying to repair ties with my mother, and we are going to go dress shopping in a few weeks and settle on a dress (I have two to choose from, so she will be able to help!). So overall, life is swell and oddly transitional.

Things on the work front though have been a catch all of nothingness. A few interviews, one bite, and a long waiting period. In the meantime, I have a part-time gig at the school I work at, and a few classes in the future just in case I can’t find work once May rolls around. I miss money, but this reprieve has been nice.

You would think that I would have time for more photography and begin to develop that particular skill. I still have a lot of photos from Ireland that I need to post, and yet no real motivation. I wanted to take a photography course, but it did not work out so well with my work schedule. My plan is to sign up for a small workshop once the refund hits my account again. I have taken a few photos just to practice and review how to use the camera in manual. My next step is to go out and practice in public. I heard the star tower near me is a great place to photograph some stars and a lovely city scape of Phoenix.

 

But until then (which will hopefully be soon), I just have a few photos that I thought were great!

 

My formal living room has a cornucopia of furniture from my grandmother. These pieces hold a lot of sentimental value, and I managed to capture some of the special qualities of these pieces:

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On one of these cloudy days in Phoenix, we got a glimpse of not just one, but two rainbows. I am unsure as to whether I like these at all, but the color and lighting is interesting:

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Until next time- E

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Travel Lust

It is no secret that the moment I got back home in August I wanted to leave again. Now I am planning on going somewhere again next year, despite my quitting my job (well, 2 of them; I kept the 3rd) and general lack of direction.

Everything feels so surreal right now. I have always had a purpose and known what I wanted to do with life. But now… now I am just kind of lost. What do I want to do for work? What do I want to do to work on myself? How will I continue to be productive? I have no answers, and I am honestly not concerned with answering them. I just want to recharge and find myself again. I need to rediscover possibilities.

Despite my aimless pursuit of waiting (waiting for the semester to end so I can start life, waiting for my boyfriend to move in, waiting to apply for another job, waiting to pick up photography again), I know one thing for certain: I want to travel. I literally have dreams almost every night about traveling back to Ireland, or in last night’s case, to England, and a random midnight excursion to New Zealand. I have gotten some travel guides to the United Kingdom and I am going to go. Regardless of fear/anxiety, regardless of a lack of funding in my near future, and regardless of the possibility of going alone.

I am anxious to get out there again and feel the plane take off the ground under my feet. I just hope that the quote “not all who wander are lost” is true.

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The Great Hunger

Fin McCool, are you home?

Fin McCool, are you home?

 

Every time I think of Ireland I get the same gut reaction I get when I think of a recent ex. That dirty feeling that suggests you shouldn’t think about them, shouldn’t want to think about them, but you are desperate to relive those good memories anyway.

When I returned back to the States, I was in denial that I was back in a desert with sweltering dry heat that sucks all the life from you. I was in denial that I had to return to  a mundane, lackluster life. I yearned for the rolling green hills, deep accents, and fresh, fresh food (the butter- my god!). I wanted to go back to Ireland and become a wandering vagrant who no one hears from again. I am still desperate to melt into the wide friendly smiles and delve again into velvety Guinness.

To say that it still doesn’t feel as though I am displaced in the US would be a far cry from the current reality of my circumstances. But like the guilty pleasure of a forbidden caress from a past lover, I am looking through pictures, telling stories, and laying my heart open.

Making plans.

 

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Ireland So Far

Fortunately, we have had so much fun so far that I have not had the opportunity to chronicle our travels, adventures, and plenty of misadventures. Unfortunately, there has been so much going on that it has been hard for me to find time to relax, think about the trip so far, look at some pictures, and begin to type out my initial thoughts.

The last six days have been quite a blur to say the least. We blew through Dublin, Belfast, Derry, and now Donegal. We caught and missed busses, hailed cabs (well my friend has), faced sleepless nights with sleepy days (damn you jet lag; thank you, melatonin), and I rode a train for the first time. Many new experiences mark this trip, but they are fondley mixed with old memories from when my friend and I met during our study abroad in Ireland program five years ago.

Today we ventured from an emotional time in Derry as we learned about Bloody Sunday and the stain it has left on the city to the highlights of Donegal town and county. We were fortunate enough to find an early bus into town so that we could hop right on to another bus that would take us through the scenic cliffs and valleys on the western cost of Ireland.

Our first stop was through the small harbor town of Killybegs which was once a mecca for fishing. Our tour guide told us that over the last few years that has not been the case, and a lot of people have had to move or immigrate due to the lack of fishing now in the harbor. After a short stop, we traversed to a nice view of the beach.

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Our next stop was Sliabh Liag cliffs:

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The foggy views did not distract from the beauty of the cliffs on one side and the delicate shades of green on the other.

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I also could not help myself from taking photos of all of the beautiful purple flowers. They were amazing and plentiful.

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Once I finished climbing to a plateau, I saw more unbelievable views of the ocean, greenery, and some sheep. Along with the purple flowers, I am obsessed with the sheep. You don’t get to see them everyday in the states.

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After the somewhat treacherous descent down the hill (not as bad as the Giant’s Causeway though!), we again drove to multiple scenes where we took photos for five minutes. None of them were well composed, but I hope they capture the spirit of the “Wild West” of Ireland.

Our tour guide said that he had a new road that led to some incredibly views, but we might get lost in the process. We all took the risk, and after some doubts, the guide treated us with more views of the Irish countryside.

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This above photo is one of my favorites. I can almost feel the wind on my face and smell the fresh air that enchanted me in this moment. I am going to use this view as my “happy place” from now on. Well, all of Ireland will be my retreat from daily stress at home.

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Last but not least, on our way to Adara there was a waterfall. I am convinced that we stepped into Faery during this tour, and if there had been enchanted food left out by the little folk, then I would have surely eaten it just to stay there.

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(this above picture is a little blurry because of the lack of a tripod- oops)

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And that was the adventure for today. Hopefully I can share more of this adventure while it happens before we leave. Don’t worry, I will definitely post more about our first few days when I get back to the States (unless I find Faery… I wish!).

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Ireland- here I come!

I am about to leave soon (9 days!), and I wanted to do a quick test run of blogging from my iPad and doing pictures. This may happen one more time before I leave.

Right now I am in panic mode because I have a lot to do and of course I procrastinated. Essentially, I just realized that I am leaving NEXT week. I need to:

Purchase a lot of stuff for my trip
Do a lot of printing and double checking
Grade for my class and turn in grades the day before I leave
Waterproof my leather gear (kinky!)
Practice, practice, practice packing (buy some luggage; I need to buy something that is in between carry on and HUGE).

I will be posting from my iPad and I am nervous because I haven’t necessarily used it for a lot of blogging mad picture taking. Hence the practice, or what I should have been doing all summer instead of binge watching HBO shows and OITNB on Netflix. And prepping for fall classes (6 course work load to teach- yikes).

Despite all the stress, I am really excited and nervous. I have wanted to go to Ireland since I got back five years ago. This time I think I will be able to appreciate it more since I get to see some family and friends I made over there. Also, I think five years ago I was oblivious as to how much travel has the ability to change people’s perspectives and help individuals become more cognizant of the world around them. Traveling makes you do things you would never imagine yourself doing (squatting over a toilet in Asia really did that for me).

This trip will be especially challenging because I have only done study abroad. My friend and I are setting the itinerary and schedule ourselves. This time I won’t be able to stay enclosed in my little American bubble. Study abroad programs can really isolate you in other cultures. I have found that I was more of an observer than an active participant in those programs. I want to fully emmerse myself into the great craic and culture of Ireland.

Wish me luck!

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Meteor Crater- Space VS. Earth

This past weekend I went to Flagstaff again to visit my boyfriend (unfortunately, I passed to him the plague known as the common cold, and he is sick right now. I am luckily at the tail end of it). For this photo adventure, I cajoled him into visiting the meteor crater. I had never been to see it, and I wanted to know if it lived up to its hype. 

Let me let you in on a secret: it’s a giant hole in the ground made by a *gasp* meteor. There isn’t that much more to it to be honest. The day was bright and ridiculously windy. Never have I ever had to hold on to a railing to keep myself from being bandied about by the wind (and I am no small woman). I had a hard time taking photos because my hair and scarf were flying in my face (and my mouth), and everything was slightly overexposed now matter how fast the shutter speed or small the aperture. The barren landscape didn’t provide much inspiration for my photos, and so I thought the trip ended up being an exercise in futility. 

Today when I ventured to look at the photos, I was pleasantly surprised. There were some shots that I absolutely loved while a majority of them were hopelessly terrible. So I picked a few to share with you guys as I try not to write off completely what turned out to be a successful field trip (I even have some fun ones to demonstrate how windy it was out there). 

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I think I would be cheating if I claimed this one all for myself. Andrew took this photo after I adjusted the settings for him. I like the depth of perspective this one lends to break up the crater and highlight some of the more interesting parts (looking through the telescopes to see the myriad of things at the bottom of the crater). 

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Despite the bleak landscape/horizon, there were a lot of interesting rocks and smaller plants to look peruse. 

 

And last but not least, here’s a photo of me looking quite silly in the wind:

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It’s Gonna Be May! Chihuly Exhibition in Phoenix

You heard that right; it’s going to be May soon, and the Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens will soon close the door on their Chihuly exhibition. That knowledge prompted me to drag my friend along to go see the amazing works of blown glass. What’s brilliant about this exhibition is that they place the glass throughout the garden so that they become a part of the landscape. It was fun to ramble along the paths and spot pieces of art spread out among the flowers, cacti, and various herbs they have showcased or peeking through the trees. 

I had recently (just the day before) gotten a 50 mm 1.8 lens to go with my camera so that I could achieve some of the more “artistic” shots I was interested in taking. After all, there is only so much one can do with a kit lens, and I certainly needed no encouragement to buy it. Long story short, I fumbled my way through the garden with a lens I wasn’t quite sure how to work. I mean, switching lenses should be easy right? Wrong- it was hard. The first and last half of the collection were shot with my 50 mm and in the middle I ended up switching to my regular kit lens because I am a wimp. 

My friend and I went during the 4 pm-8 pm time slot so that we could take pictures during the day and at night. Unfortunately by the time nightfall actually arrived, I was tired of taking photos and dealing with people being in my shots. There won’t be a lot of shots at night, but I think that the ones taken around the “golden” hour turned out well. I hope that you enjoy the exhibition as much as I did 🙂 

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This is the first piece as you enter the park. I shot it using my 50 mm f/1.8 and 1/2000 shutter speed. I also shot this one at night (below) as we left. These are very uninspired shots, but I think they do a good job of highlighting the enormity of the pieces.

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As you move further in the park, you will encounter the next blue piece: 

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This one was my favorite because it reminded me of tendrils snaking its way through and around itself while reaching for something much bigger than itself. This is one of my favorites because of the way the light filters through the right side of the piece while leaving the left in the dark. 

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This one provides a good perspective on how the glass is worked into the landscape. 

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The red, orange, and yellow pieces were equally impressive. As I gazed into the sky to see this particular sculpture, I loved the way the red contrasted with the blue sky. It was a clear day outside (as always), so there weren’t any clouds to obfuscate the true beauty of the way the light hits the blown glass. 

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Here is another good look at how the glass was worked into the landscape. I liked how they utilized pieces where the shapes were similar to the plants when they could. 

 

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This is another favorite of mine because of the contrast between the green and the purple. The photo also still allows you to see the different details in each of the pieces of glass without them being overwhelming. I am also more drawn the photos with a blurred background to emphasize the subject of the photo. 

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This is when I started to switch back to the kit lens. During the exhibition I wanted to take some photos further away from the work to further demonstrate the way the glass was incorporated into the desert landscape. This particular piece reminded me of Medusa since the outer layers of the glass move outward and undulate like a snake. 

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Once I tired of the glass work, I moved on to the various plants in order to feature the different aspects of the gardens. Below I have the lavender with some yellow glass work behind it. 

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In this photo my main goal was to highlight a few stalks so that you could see detail, but use a blurred background to denote the volume of the flowers. 

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I don’t normally get to see this kind of cacti, so I made sure to snap a quick picture. The tops of the plants look like tiny viking helmets- fitting for such a hardy plant. 

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And last but not least, another shot of the tiny fuzzy flowers with the glass behind it. Again, I love the contrast between the colors and that the background almost looks like it is on fire. Here I switched back to the 50 mm and felt a little more confident after using the kit lens to get back into practice. Overall I feel as though I didn’t do poorly and gained some valuable practice. However, I had to shuffle through a lot of terrible shots just to get to a few good ones. That, I suppose, is normal for any photographer. 

Until the next time! 

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