When I moved into this house I said I would use my garage as my new studio. But two years later, I just haven’t done it. There have been a variety of reasons why. Time commitments. Lack of available space. Lack of creative urge. Lack of confidence.
A few months ago, a friend asked me point blank why I wasn’t shooting and I opened my mouth to respond and before I had said much he interrupted and said “BLAH BLAH BLAH! Just pick up the fucking camera and do something.” I was ashamed to see how completely confronted I was by this and went and tried to make the garage work again, getting absolutely no where. There were still too many negative thoughts swirling and too many distractions.
Then more recently, a newer friend asked me the same thing but in a more pointed way that challenged me differently. We talked about it for a while and I realized I was being overwhelmed with the volume of work to make the studio happen instead of looking at individual tasks that can be easily tackled to get to the goal.
This afternoon I went down and tackled one of those tasks and before I knew it, I had tackled four and then suddenly I had a space to shoot with a flat surface and access to natural light. Soon, I was shooting again and doing my happy dance when I know I’ve done something good.
There’s still work to be done to make it a fully functioning studio. There’s still the issue that it’s just a garage and there’s a distinct lack of security or privacy. My desire to do more sexually oriented images may wait for a while. But for now, I’m shooting on a table again and that has made me very happy.
After having such a blustery cold rainy week, getting away on a blazingly sunny Saturday was in in order. We headed up to Hog Island Oyster Farm to spend an afternoon slurping back mollusks and enjoying some much appreciated sun. Located a little over an hour’s drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was a really wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon with some friends. We brought along some good wine and some other picnic like food to make it a fully rounded day and just sat and enjoyed ourselves.
Hog Island Oyster Farms is located on a stretch Tomales Bay near Pt. Reyes with several other oyster farms. This is local eating at its best because you can see from your table the oyster beds where what you’re eating was raised. Make sure you call ahead and reserve a table well in advance because as their website says “demand for picnic tables has grown and weekend tables often book out months in advance.” You can buy your oysters still in the shell or pre-shucked as well as having them grilled by the staff. Shucking the oysters yourself can be a bit of a challenge but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy.
Your table should have some hot sauce on it for adding a dash of heat to the sweet briny oysters. You can also make your own and the recipe below for a standard cocktail sauce makes more than enough for a bushel. You could also make a Mignonette sauce for a extra dash of flavor. We also brought along a couple of bottles of pinot gris which paired beautifully with the oysters. Bring sunscreen since the tables are out in the open. Enjoy the view, enjoy the oysters and enjoy the company. It’s a great way to spend the day.
Cocktail Sauce Recipe
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup horseradish (more or less to taste)
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together and serve next to the oysters. Refrigerate any left overs and use within two weeks.
2013 was a pretty good year over all. Found a new job. Found a boyfriend. Made some new friends. Got closer to my siblings. Became a voting board member of one of the most iconic gay events in the world. Put on three successful pop ups and remembered why I love cooking professionally (and why I don’t do it full time). I continued to find solace and comfort in the practice of locating and preparing food deliberately and consciously.
I tried to practice being more mindful, conscious and kind (still working on that). I tried to let go of things from the past that didn’t help me. There were some speed bumps but honestly there was nothing too traumatic, debilitating or humiliating. Unfortunately, I let some good things like writing, photography and the gym slip.
2014 will be about doing more of the good work and continuing to make better choices and building a life of my own choosing of which I can be proud. I’ll try to keep doing the things I love and learning to do them better.
I’ll treat myself better and by extension treat the people around me better.
I’ll ask questions and try new things.
I’ll try for less bitter and more glitter.
But in the end…I’ll live.
OK people, this isn’t that hard. If you’re taking public transit you need to follow some basic rules whether it’s Muni, or MTA or the T. And yet these very simple concepts seem to elude a lot of people.
1) On an escalator, stand on the right if you’re not going to climb the stairs so that others can get past you.
2) Let others off the train/bus first before trying to get on.
3) Take off your backpack/purse/messenger bag and carry it near your feet so you don’t bash it around like a weapon.
4) Give up your seat to an elderly person or someone who is disabled/ill/pregnant. If they protest that they’re fine, offer once more and then let it be.
5) Say “Excuse me.” if you need to get past someone. Don’t just push them out of the way or elbow between them without saying anything.
6) Don’t stand in the active door and block everyone else.
7) Don’t talk on the phone on a crowded train thereby forcing everyone to listen to you.
8) Don’t eat on the train. Just don’t.
9) Don’t do your make up/clip your nails/pick your nose on the train.
10) Don’t take up more than one seat per person.
Have some basic awareness of the people around you is all I’m saying.
Life is a big ball of stress at the moment. I’m handling things as best I can. Today I retreated to my back yard for some sun.
I’m grateful that the house next door is currently unoccupied. That means I can pick fruit from the trees in their yard that hang over into mine. Bowls full of lemons and blood oranges. The blood oranges are weighing down the three to such a degree that soon I’ll have bowls and blowls of them too. I haven’t decided what to do with these yet, but give me time. The down side is that they are working on the apartments and soon people living there may have something to say about my pilfering. For now, I’m grateful for the bounty.
It’s been a crazy week. Two interviews and a lot of side work. The recruiter inteview went fine and, unlike with several other recruiters, this one actually went through my resume with me and gave me her response and listened to what I’m looking for. I meet with her temp placement colleague on Tuesday. The big interview of the week was for a Catering Manager job. While it was the kind of work that I really wish I was doing, it was clear even to me that I wasn’t a good fit. That being said they seemed to like me and there may be other opportunities to pursue.
I came home from that interview and stood in the kitchen and just started cooking. I do that. I hide behind the processes and the knife work and the fire. It’s give my brain just enough of a pause to begin to process better. This was no different. Soon I have meatballs and tomato sauce simmering away and in another pot, red chard and bacon reducing. Two friends came to dinner and were good enough to sit ad talk over a very nice Pinot. A quickly improvised Apple and Raisin crumble with an oatmeal and butter and oliveoil topping ended things sweetly.
Finding a job is hard for anyone. My resume is pretty eclectic and many recruiters or HR people really don’t know what to do with it. I’m often asked if I’m a caterer or an office manager. With my long term plans nebulous at times, finding an answer that will get me the job is hard. Getting the interview in the first place can often be harder.
So I’ll keep looking and keep applying and keep networking and just keep going. I’ll come up with new plans and new ways to get things done. In the end as long as I can come home and retreat into the kitchen and cook, I’ll be ok.
It really hadn’t sunk in how much I resented losing my previous living situation until someone recently asked me why I wasn’t posting about food and why I wasn’t’ presenting any photography. I partly lied and said I wasn’t feeling creative and I was too busy looking for full time work.
The truth is I missed, and still do for that matter, my old apartment on Pierce St. The 14-foot west facing windows in the dining room had been my primary light source for several years. I developed my skills there and I was struggling in my new home to replicate them. Besides that, my kitchen was smaller, darker and less conducive to spur of the moment food photography.
When my friends and I agreed to move in here, there was an agreement that the garage would become my studio. That was delayed at first as we tried to merge two households into one and purge things we didn’t need any more. Storing our stuff became a creative process that took precedence over taking pictures.
Sure, I could have wandered around my new neighborhood and thrown myself into documenting that (and I still should), but losing the previous space had left me feeling really put out. I resented losing it and more so felt like there was no point in trying. I wasn’t clear exactly how angry I was until I found myself seething about it after a few innocent questions. Something was clearly wrong. As I found myself languishing in bed one day with no sense of creativity and a looming sense of failure, I realized that the only thing standing in my way of getting the studio going in the garage was me.
I went down that day and started moving things around. I realized that I had been sulking and mourning the loss of a good space and was letting that stop me. If I was going to be happy here at all, I needed to adapt and relearn and recreate There’s still more stuff to get rid of, or at least organize better. Yet after an hour of dealing with it head on, all of a sudden I could see space where a paper seamless back drop could go and I could see where I could use some natural light from the back door and I could see where I could get power for my lights.
Today I went down and did some quick and dirty self-portraits. Nothing ground breaking but it was exciting and invigorating to dig out all the equipment and make it work together and begin thinking about process again. I’m not where I was, but I may be on my way to somewhere new.
A quick and dirty self portrait in the new studio.
It finally dawned on me in the shower this morning that one of the points of the internet is to provide access to information from pretty much anywhere. As hot water bounced on my head, I made the mental connection that I should therefor be able to post to my blog from anywhere.
And that’s how I got here today.
Technically I’m at work and shouldn’t be blogging about food and photography. Nor should I be trying to be witty while at work and in the throes of nicotine withdrawal. There will be unavoidably the kind of disconnect one normally experiences when one encounters a drug addict who thinks something is absolutely hysterical while you’re inching away fearing for your life. I have had people suggest that when I’m in the middle of nicotine fit, that a rabid pit bull would be sweeter.
Lately this means that when I’m not at work or at the gym, I’m usually quite happy to be alone in the kitchen. Just me and the food and the process and the results.
And the dishes. Don’t forget doing the dishes. in the past, detoxing from cigarettes has resulted in my frantically cleaning and scrubbing and scraping and scouring my tools and equipment until they not only shine but could be used by NASA as tracking tools for satellites.
But in these times of grumpiness and lack of patience with the most basic of human behaviors, I find myself feeling the most at peace and safe and secure with a large knife in my hand… and reducing a potato down to 1/4″ dice.