Friday, November 12, 2010

My Rochester Bucket List

If you haven't heard already via the social realms, Thom and I have decided to make a very big decision and leave our families, careers and lives in Rochester, New York behind for a brand new start in San Francisco, California!

We're both terribly excited for the new change of pace and for the opportunities there.  I can't wait to discover a new city and experience new cultures.  Last week, we made a very quick trip out [40 hours] to see the city and visit my grad school.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, after two years of trying, 7 heartbreaking letters of rejection and one willful spirit later, I have finally reached a ginormous milestone in my photography career and have been accepted into a photography graduate school at the Academy of Art University.  And let me also just say, I cannot freakin wait.  Out comes my trapper keeper, highlighters and backpack...

And so this is the hard to keep secret I've had for a few weeks now.  I mentioned big changes that were going to occur in a past post and so here they are!  Thom and I seem to be domestic traveler extraordinaires.  Our lives will be continually moving back and forth from San Francisco to New York City back to San Francisco to Miami to Key West and finally back to San Francisco.  [And perhaps Rochester sprinkled in here and there]  Add the ill timed holiday season coming upon us and you might just have the perfect recipe for a very stressful move.

We both have realized this and the true reality of leaving our families and childhood areas.  So yesterday, I made a big decision and left my current job, knowing that I would be leaving them sooner rather than the later I had originally hoped for.  And now that I have finally told them, I can now finally tell others.  And it's a huge relief.  I am not one for keeping secrets for very long.  [Cue the visible sigh of relief]

So grad school for me for the next two years and Thom?  He found an amazing application developing job that will have him so close to Fisherman's Warf, that he'll not only smell the salty taste of the bay but also the overwhelming smell of the many hobos which San Francisco is infamously known for.  Horray for that!

With all that said, I am now realizing what I'll be missing and so I will not be taking Rochester for granted!  It's funny to know that simple things like the fall season and snow will not be something I will be experiencing soon in San Francisco.  (Think the last recorded snow fall in San Fran was like in 1978?)  Don't forget New York apples and hayrides too!  And what about chicken wings!  Becoming this nostalgic just makes me a bit sad to be leaving New York and because of that, I've decided to create my Rochester Bucket List.  A list of things that I should do/experience/taste before I leave.

I've come up with a few:

1.  Visit the Memorial Art Gallery one. last. time.
2.  Visit and eat at Donuts Delite up near Irondequoit
3.  Go see one last movie at The Little Theater
4.  Visit the Science Museum on East Ave.  (Never have I ever...)

I suppose I could open this up to the Buffalo area as well since that is where I grew up and I could think of a few places I've been wanting to see or experience or eat at.  Especially eat.  I'm all for great restaurants in the area.

So do you know of some things that aren't worth missing before I leave?  For instance, a great restaurant or place to see?  Leave a comment, let me know. 

And before I end this post, let me just say again that I will miss a lot of great things here in New York.  There are so many memories.  But I am excited for new ones, so it's been fun New York.  You stay classy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why my cat might be a bit more retarded than Allie Brosh's dog.

To begin with, please see Allie Brosh's amazing blog at Hyperbole and a Half.  Please read her post on her reasoning why her pet dog might be retarded.

Inspired by another blogger and her oh-so-funny post on why she feels that her pet dog might be retarded, I couldn't help but begin to wonder on my own pet cat, Connor.  Is my cat slightly retarded? 

Thom and I had adopted Connor from Lollypop Farms, an animal shelter out in Fairport, New York about 8 months ago.  He had seemed to be the most liveliest cat in the shelter with his very loud and outgoing personality and this was a trait that we wanted so badly in a cat.  (I had grown up with cats my whole life and I am 90% sure that they were all very quiet and lethargic; which I hated.  Thom, on the other hand, had never owned a cat in his life, just dogs, and was looking forward to the bright possibilities of pet ownership again, even if it were a cat.)  We couldn't get a dog at the time since our apartment complex wouldn't allow it, so we ended up adopting a spirited, loud and sometimes ferocious, orange and white male domestic short-hair.

Let me also say that we absolutely love our cat.  There is no question or doubt that both of us aren't capable of loving our cat.  Seriously.  We are those annoying and crazy people that tell other sane people about their cat and stories of said cat.  We have no shame.  WE WILL PULL OUT A CELLPHONE AND SHOW YOU PICTURES OF SAID CAT.  So when I finally begin to get into this post and explain my reasoning why my cat is slightly retarded, I mostly mean it in a funny, light and entertaining way.  Not a "survival of the fittest, why I must now put down my retarded cat" way.

So...with all that said.

Reasons why my cat might be retarded:

1.  He looks out the window.  When the shade is drawn.  I'm not sure if perhaps he is actually really smart and is imaging seeing squirrels outside (which he usually does when the shade is up) but he will sit on the edge of the couch and stare at the window with the shade down.  Perhaps it's muscle memory?

2.  He runs into doors.  Sometimes, during the day, we'll crack open the front door of our apartment to let Connor downstairs to lay at the front landing.  There's a lot of sunlight that comes through the windows there and he thoroughly enjoys laying in the warmth, like most cats.  We leave the door semi opened/closed though, mostly to keep in the upstairs heat.  Connor usually knows to snake in and out of the small space between the door opening throughout the day.  Sometimes, when we have to leave and run errands, he'll think that he can sneak his way back down the stairs when we're about to lock up and leave.  (This usually ends with him succeeding and us having to carry him back up the stairs.)

But one day, I got home and cracked the door open a bit to let Connor down the stairs to lay in the sun.  And sure enough, down the stairs he went.  It was around lunch time and so I began to get his regular teaspoon sized meal of wet food out in a dish for him.  Connor must have heard the rustle of his food being prepared and raced up the stairs to get to his lunch.  He does this for every meal, no matter where he might be in the house.

Except this time, instead of his usual meow for food, I heard a loud "thump!".  It seemed that Connor had forgotten about the very visible door that was opened a smidgen and had run at full cat speed right into it in order to get to his lunch.  Poor cat.

3.  He eats a lot of things that he shouldn't.  I've seen this cat eat everything from leaves to spiders to cobwebs to his own fur.  And what's even more ironic is the fact that he'll only eat certain wet foods.  (Chunky rather than pureed)  The other day, I came home and was mortified to learn that Connor had eaten one of my sewing bobbins.

Thom told me that earlier, he had noticed Connor playing but didn't think anything of it.  Connor does this often, like most cats.  Later he found Connor in his "throwing up" position and began to worry.  (Connor's throwing up position is just him sitting down all curled together, arms crossed, eyes closed and tail tucked in.)  Only this time he noticed a small yellow string hanging from his mouth.  I even drew an illustration:

Instantly curious, Thom began to pull the thread.  And I swear, it honestly was like something straight out of a cartoon show.  Thom kept pulling and pulling and pulling and realized after a huge wad of yellow string that Connor must have swallowed one of my bobbins from my sewing desk.  With that realization, Thom kept frantically pulling the string until finally taunt and he had to pull out a very gloppy, gooey and cat vomittity bobbin.  All the while, poor Connor was left looking very dazed and confused at what had just occurred.
4.  He's unaware of pet repelling products.  Did you know that cats don't like the sound of tin foil?  Or if you ever wanted your cat down from a counter, you could spray them with water?  Cats don't like getting wet either.  Sadly, these things do not work with Connor.  For one thing, Connor likes to drink straight out of the faucet.  And I don't mean cute, petite and small sips of water, I mean, he sticks his head directly into the water while simultaneously trying to lick a mix of water and air. Water doesn't really seem to repel him in anyway.  The other day I was putting wet dishes in the dishwasher and Connor just sat right under my feet where countless splatters of water fell upon him.  He never moved an inch.  And when he feels like being an explorer, we'll usually find him in the bathtub. 

Other things like pet repelling covers for couches do not work either.  I only know this because I'm a catalog photographer and needed to photograph said cover in my house using Connor as a "prop" or the pet that was supposed to be repelled by the pet repellent cover.  (In real life, I could care less if Connor got up on the couch.)  Anyway, I was getting ready to photograph this terribly crinkly and foil like cover and kept thinking how much Connor wasn't going to appreciate being the poor modeling victim for my shot.  I was sure that he would hate it.  But instead, like always, he surprised me.

I placed him on the cover and ran to my shutter to get him jumping off the couch but to my amazement, Connor just stood there looking confused like always.  He looked around him, pawed the strange foil like cover, turned himself around and laid right down on the cover!  Some pet repellent!  From then on, it was about 10 minutes of me pleading and begging him to come off the cover in order for me to try and get my shot.  Finally, with the promise of food and Thom's help, we got him to jump off the cover and I was able to get my shot.

Terrible pet repellent cover.  Supposedly to keep pets off of your furniture.
I popped this shot off right away thinking that he'd jump.
Instead he just pawed it.
And finally laid down.
So I'm sure that this list could just get completely out of control and animal rights activists would begin to wonder, so I'll just stop here.  But seriously, I love my pet and think he's just great...but perhaps a bit retarded.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New York Expectations

I was just on the phone talking to a friend.  I was explaining how sometimes I'll envision a situation or event and imagine it's expectations/outcomes before it's occurrence.  I do this a lot.  This past weekend I went to New York City to attend the 2010 PDN Photo Expo at the Jacob Javits Center and every expectation I had for the photo expo and New York itself was met.  No lie.  Every single one.

First off, the Expo itself was of a mediocre regard.  And what I mean to say is that nothing was super special or shown that I hadn't already read about.  The vendors seemed a bit more random this year than last, with stalls like "Shoe Doctor MD" or something like that, I started to wonder if I had the right convention.  The seminars though, were phenomenal.  I attended a lighting lecture and two Photoshop workshops that really are going to be adding the the quality of my work from now on.  Below is an image taken from Carrie Beene's beauty retouching workshop.

Secondly, I'll share with you my lucky chance or fantasy expectation.  Usually those include things like picking up a winning lotto ticket, finding the ultimate bargain deal on clothes or the ever popular, meeting someone famous in a random situation.  The point of these expectations are that they are just-out-of-the-ordinary events that could or could not happen, which usually makes them super special to come across.

Well anyway, I had my fantasy expectation when I met Joey Laurence randomly at a McDonald's by B&H on 34th Street.  If you don't know Joey Laurence, that's okay.  This is more of a photo geek know-how rather than meeting some famous actor or actress that most people would know.  I've been following Joey L through his work, documentaries and his blog for a while now and I have to say that I'm always impressed with his hard work ethic, sense of photography and overall good heart.  So it was an absolute delight to walk into a McDonald's and see him sitting there and eating a burger.

So random and so normal.  Yet it always gets me how we all seem to lose it when we meet or encounter someone that we regard highly.  My situation was no different and if anything, I was full of excitement and the jitters.  I even shamefully interrupted his conversation and asked for a photo with him...I know, I know!  Could I possibly be any worse than the tweens out there -fighting, crying and screaming for Justin Beiber?  Probably not.  But anyway, that was my fantasy expectation of meeting someone famous while in New York.

Thirdly, there are "realistic" expectations that I'll have.  These are the sobering kind of expectations that bring my fantasy expectations down from their high cloud of daydreams.  My realistic expectations were of the normal sort of expectations, like predicting the cold weather and realizing the massive crowds of people on the sub near 5pm or so.  These helped me not to become so disappointed with New York and it's rough nature.  Knowing that I'll probably end up in the subway car with the crazy and soulful beggars is definitely an expectation at the top of this list.  This past weekend I was sandwiched between two beggars on each side of me, panhandling and telling their sad stories.  After transferring onto the L train, a series of small children came aboard and started selling candy bars.  Panhandling never ends in New York and I always manage to see it's rotating barrage of Mariachi Bands and bums from train to train.
Finally and probably because I'm just that kind of food loving person, I always have a food expectation when I travel.  Usually, it's a good expectation of trying a new food or discovering a new favorite restaurant.  (What can I say, I love food!)  Especially being in New York, this expectation is usually always met each time I travel there.

Thom and I went to Williamsburg in search of Blue Bottle Coffee.  Best coffee yet!  Though my friends are pretty much coffee snobs and my father even roasts his own, I really don't know quality coffee by taste.  Heck, I can barely tell the difference between decaf and regular.  Sad.  Verrrrry sad but I really can't.  The only thing I can ever tell is whether or not coffee is old just based on color.  Not even taste!  Ick!

But even with my poor palate, I found Blue Bottle Coffee to be the best and freshest coffee that I've ever had.  If ever in Brooklyn, make your way to Blue Bottle for the best cup around.  (And just a hint, you know a coffee shop is of premium quality when they roast their own beans, like Blue Bottle)

After Blue Bottle, Thom and I headed to Flushing to meet a college friend of mine.  We ended up at a hot pot restaurant that night.  If you're not sure what hot pot is, I say go out and try it!  Great food.  Super Asian and full of flavor.  Thanks again for the superb choice Cindy. 

All in all, a great extended weekend and an amazing photo expo.