Monday, August 30, 2010


I've found some extremely helpful discussion groups on Flikr regarding my choice of camera and all the clicks and whistles that go along with it. Something that's been pretty wonderful is the advice that I can convert four of my older lenses to work perfectly with my new camera. Reading through everything I'm realizing that the lenses I have are pretty great. People have entire groups dedicated to posting shots they're taking with lenses I just happened to inherit and have in my possession for most of my life. sweet.

I'm hoping a few things arrive today - my Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook, my nomination and medical paperwork (my insurance runs out in a month!), my 24mm f/2.8 lens, and an email back from a guy who does AI conversions for older Nikkor lenses. I need to get my medical clearance asap since I'm leaving so soon! Right now all I know is that I'll go sometime in February, but really that's only six months away, which will fly by. I've been thinking about my dog a lot. I think she's going to be the thing/person that's hardest for me to leave; this dog and I have a very special relationship. The dog I grew up with had to be put to sleep in 2006 (I'd had her since 1992) and it was possibly the hardest decision I'd ever had to make and follow through with. It broke my heart and I get teary eyed to this day thinking about her. Anyway, ten months later my mom knocked on my door and handed me a tiny puppy. Scarlet. It took us a while to warm up to one another, she was a little depressed not being around her litter-mates and I was reminded of the dog I'd had to say goodbye to. Eventually we realized that we needed each other, and have been inseparable ever since. This past summer I stayed in South Carolina for a month and a half and Scarlet of course came with me. Long story short my cousin's dog took issue with Scarlet being so precocious around her food and "attacked". We weren't standing in the room with them so we don't know exactly what happened, but it ended with Scarlet's eye being pulled/popped out and we rushed her to the vet ER. She was put through surgery and had her eye sewn shut for a few weeks, but she ended up making a full recovery. I still think that the left eye is a little bigger than the right one and maybe will always be out a little further, but she's alive and can see. Taking care of her and worrying about her has made it that much harder for me to think about leaving her behind for two years (and no, I can't take her with me, nor would I want to... the margin of error is so much smaller in a developing country with the lack of vet care and just the impracticality of trying to travel around the world with a dog... really? please.)

The original point of this post was an idea, one that I've seen a few places on Flickr - a 365 day photographic journey that will start September 1, 2010 and go through September 1, 2011. I'll take at LEAST one picture every day and post them here or on my Flickr account, possibly as part of one of those already established. Knowing that half my time in the next year will be spent in situations that I have NO grasp of right now, I will most likely not be able to post the pictures daily, but I'm definitely going to try to shoot every day. I just invested an ungodly amount of money in a camera and it would be ridiculous not to use it as much as I can.

Oooohhhh... the mail just arrived! Unofficial Volunteer hand book got here, but no nomination yet. UPS tracking says my lens is on the truck for delivery and that my camera will be here tomorrow. I'm off to read & do some financial nonsense.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

pictures pictures pictures

Another blast from the past back story, because I promise everything going forward will make more sense if this is clear.

When I was 12 my dad died. One of the things I snagged from his house (I really don't remember how I got everything...) was his Nikon F from 1970. An old SLR, six lenses, and a whole lot of love. I taught myself to use the camera and have fallen in love with everything photographic since then. I have taken pictures at weddings, of musicians trying to begin their careers, and just about every other situation I am ever in. There is the problem though - film offers limited opportunity to explore and experiment. Of course I can buy a roll of film, read articles on how to shoot a new technique, and then go out and try 36 shots... but I will have NO idea how any of them came out until I get it developed a few days or weeks later. Too much grain? There goes the entire roll. Overexposed? Yep, that sucks. I've wasted so much film trying to get a shot of lightning that it's embarrassing to walk into the developing lab because I know the girl behind the counter is just going to tell me they were all blank. Damn. I needed a new camera. I just ordered a magnificent DSLR that will allow me to play around and try new things, seeing how each and every change I make affects my pictures. I'm tracking my package on UPS and it's been sitting in Georgia for a while, I'm such a twelve year old.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

starting over

So I stumbled upon a couple blogs that I'd written in and left behind, or that I no longer wanted up online. While I understand that nothing is ever *really* gone from the internet, I deleted some things and am starting over.
I spent the last year of my life trying to figure out exactly what I wanted. I was a teacher who wasn't rehired, for reasons unknown to me. (that is a whole other discussion that frankly, I'm tired of discussing). I wasn't sure where I wanted to move to, and the options were endless. I had zero money and no job prospects (since finding a job from a remote location is damned near impossible..) so I moved back in with my mom. I spent a lot of time thinking about my life, not liking my situation, and taking steps to improve it all. I budgeted more carefully than I had ever before, I paid off as much debt as a could, I started a retirement account, and I started to turn things around. I realized that if I wasn't in control of my money, I wouldn't ever have choices in life - my options would be limited by what I could afford. I never wanted to NOT be able to do something because of money.
Fast forward nine months. I was teaching kindergarten with the most awesome group of women ever, but I wasn't rehired. Again. FML. The school year was winding down and I was again scrambling to figure out what to do. I had already planned on going to live with my cousins in SC for the summer to try out a different city and get away from the everyday that was bringing me down. The third day that I was in South Carolina I went on a hike. I came to a mountain lake and was blown away by how pretty and serene it was. I realized that I never wanted to go back to my life again. Not that I wanted to run away or kill myself or anything like that, I just didn't want to stay on the same path I'd been on. I didn't want to trudge along and settle down and do the same thing I'd been doing and just wait for something to happen. Shortly thereafter I logged on to the Peace Corps website and filled out an application.

That was on July 14th. Two weeks later I received an email and a package in the mail saying that my initial application looked good and that I was being sent onto the next round. I got fingerprinted, filled out FBI checklists, hounded people for recommendations, and sent in my college transcripts. Two weeks after that I sent an email checking on everything, got a phone call in return and had an interview scheduled. That was two days ago and when we were done, I got a nomination :) As of now, I will be moving to Africa in February 2011 to live and work for two years as a primary teacher trainer. The next six months will be spent getting medical tests done, x-rays taken, giving my things away, eating at all my favorite places, and seeing as many people as I can before leaving. It sounds really weird when I say it outloud, "I'm moving to Africa for two years."