Category Archives: photography

I ONLY USE FILM! from my 50mm nikon to my Holga to my Pinhole Polaroid to my 1972 SX70 Polaroid. i just need to find a darkroom these days, it’s getting harder and harder to do just that.

happy anniversary, pig. (a post i hope you read).

it’s been about three weeks since i last posted on here. part of me would like to apologize for my absence, but a larger part of me knows that that would be silly. silly because in the last few weeks i’ve made some significant changes in my life. not as in, i started eating salad instead of cheeseburgers at lunch, but more like saving myself changes. it’s taken up all of my time, which is good. writing on my blog was the least of my worries. it was, quite simply, not a priority. but i do admit that i’ve missed it.

i’m going to begin this post (which i expect to be ridiculously long, be forewarned) with a dialogue from one of my favorite movies, Girl, Interrupted. it’s a beautiful film. it may be a bit trite at times and over dramatized, but it’s a film that has always spoken to me because the main character, Susanna, played by Winona Ryder, is someone i have always felt close to.

Susanna :: “I didn’t try to kill myself. I was just trying to make the shit stop.”

Therapist :: “You swallowed a bottle of advil with a bottle of vodka..”

Susanna :: “I had a headache.”

one year ago yesterday, i arrived in San Francisco. when i moved here, i was broken and lost. i was a complete mess, though my actions and demeanor reflected anything but. my eyes may have told a different story, but no one ever called me on it.

i was drinking more alcohol than i could admit to anyone, much less to myself. i was taking a variety of drugs that would disappoint any parent. i was full of lies and self-loathing. i lied about my substance abuse and my depression and my anxiety. i listened to a lot of sad music and though i’d landed a great job just three weeks after moving here, in my spare time i locked myself in my room to write and paint. and i was really only successful in either when i’d plied myself with a cocktail of substances. just enough to “make the shit stop.” it was hard, near impossible, to be creative when my sober mind wandered to the darkest of dark places.

to some, this may come as a complete surprise (i’m an amazing liar and actress as it turns out). to others, this probably explains a lot.

i was happy to leave Seattle, that much was true. but my decision to move here was complex. for one, i committed a cardinal sin. i broke my own rule : never move or stay anywhere for anyone. it was not my only my reason for relocating, but it was the biggest – though i denied it at the time.

before i’d left seattle, i had experienced two grand mal seizures. i experienced not one, but two, terrible tragedies – having to attend two open casket funerals in the space of one week. they both occurred after my decision to move south, but i think in many ways they were the nail in the coffin (apologies for the pun) that confirmed and prompted my choice to get the hell out of Seattle. it was a place full of sadness and memories i wanted to leave behind and i really couldn’t have left fast enough.

since my arrival in this beautiful city, i’ve had a tumultuous year. drugs and alcohol certainly do not help one who’s making an attempt to “get their shit together.” neither does lying about it – to others or oneself.

my arrival here was both abrupt and sudden, to say the least. back in Seattle, i’d left behind friends, family, horse back riding (which still, to this day, remains an unkept promise to myself to rekindle down here in horse country), my job, my home. life as i once knew it was over. it was gone. i faced that well known blank slate that we all speak so fondly of. i may have been excited, but i was terrified more than anything else. and alone, very alone. and given that hindsight is 20/20, i knew full well that my continued abuse of substances would only gain momentum down here. i knew that because relocating is stressful for anyone. but there was more.

i knew and realized that any sign of an unraveling (particularly with the boy, which happened only three weeks after my move here, but do NOT blame him for any of this), would lead me to less control over myself. i knew it would spur me to further harm myself, which i did. ten fold. i have scars, both physical and emotional, that still bring me to tears. when i moved here, i was holding onto a thread. after my arrival, that thread much closer resembled that of a delicate thread a spider draws when making a web. i was holding onto nothing, essentially . i considered suicide more than once. i wanted to get away from not just the city, but also myself. the drugs and alcohol were merely symptoms of a far deeper distress and internal battle i’d been having with myself for years.

add denial to this and i promise you a full blown recipe for disaster.

i went about my job and my life. i continued to drink and abuse drugs. i fell deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. for the past year, i have felt like Alice. eating one cookie after another, in an attempt to find myself out of this nightmare i’d found myself in. a nightmare that i had created. i could blame my childhood. my parents. my this or my that. but i can’t. and i no longer can blame myself. i am in the process of forgiving myself. i made mistakes. many of them. the last three years have been chaos for me and i did the best that i could, even though my “best” involved nothing but self harm.

so i sit here today, at the same computer. sober. sad. and admitting the fact that i need help. i have needed help for well over ten years, but my pride (and other things i will not mention) had me convinced that i was OKAY and that i could “do it on my own.” nothing could be farther from the truth. i need help and i’m finally getting it. so, if you don’t hear from me in a while – it’s because of that.

for once, i’m going to put myself first. and Year of the Pig Studio can wait. we’ll both be better off because of it.

jessi

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return to sender.

when you live in a city, particularly in an apartment with three roommates, you get used to people constantly coming and going, moving in and moving out. i’ve lived here for under a year and have already had two people move out and two new people move in. not to mention one more person who lives above us and four people who live below us.

what i am most curious about (and entirely dumfounded by) is why exactly people do not know how to properly change their address with the united states postal service. it’s not rocket science. i consider myself to be quite lazy when it comes to anything paperwork-ey, but notifying the u.s.p.s. of a change of address is incredibly simple and truth be told ? i’d like to get all of my mail forwarded to me because there are bills to pay and correspondences to respond to. and i, personally, would rather not deal with the hassle that comes with not receiving one’s mail.

that said, in any given week, we receive quite a bit of mail at our apartment. four people live here. we receive about three or four pieces of mail a day. we are lucky if one of those pieces of mail is actually addressed to someone who lives here. most of the time the mail that is addressed for previous tenants is trash worthy. bank stuff. weird mail offers. magazines not worth reading. and the like. but every once in a while we receive a gem. these are my favorites so far ::

short and sweet

this came from new york, new york. it’s a real photograph with a neon star sc(r)otch taped to it.

amazing illustration No. 1

amazing illustration No. 2

the third installment from “Cal.” only this time it’s ended with “timidly, Cal.” curious.

we used to have them on our fridge, but my roommates have since decided they are trash, so that means i get to keep them all to myself. the last thing i would like to share today is a piece of fortune cookie wisdom i received last night ::

win.

and with that, i invite you to go forth and conquer the day, keeping your eyes peeled for any water lilies along the way.

jessi

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life is beautiful.

i have this terrible habit of getting down on myself (many of you can probably relate). i never feel quite right. or good enough. or something. and before i go on, this is not a plea for sympathy. i’m just laying down the this-is-what’s-up-with-me-now bullsh*t.

i awoke this morning after a somewhat interrupted night of sleep feeling tired, disoriented, and headache-y. this happens pretty often. i either have a hard time falling asleep before 2:30am or i’ll fall asleep quickly and rise at 4:00am unable to fall back to sleep. during this period of sleeplessness my wheels turn fast and hard. any and everything somewhat disturbing or depressing in my life (past or present) rears its ugly head and spins through my brain on repeat. the best way to solve this problem, i have found, is by playing endless games of solitaire on my phone until my eyelids are too heavy to keep them open. it actually works pretty well.

so this morning, i once again found myself feeling the lack of sleep hangover. i rarely drink caffeine. but today, like many days of late, i found myself looking for toothpicks to keep my eyes propped open. so i nursed a small cup of coffee (that i didn’t even finish). i love coffee, but due to the fact that i am hypoglycemic, caffeine only makes my symptoms worse. regular coffee drinkers will experience some amount of shakiness due to the caffeine flowing through their bloodstream. i, on the other hand, will experience a shakiness so severe that i feel nauseated. i become sweaty and dizzy and disoriented and grumpy, on the verge of blacking out. it is only when i find a piece of sugar (usually in the form of fruit – bananas being my first choice) that these ailments begin to subside. it doesn’t even matter if i’ve chugged a protein shake or a good breakfast prior to that half cup of weak coffee, my symptoms will rise to the surface. being from seattle, i feel somewhat ashamed that i can’t stomach real (caffeinated, that is) coffee. so be it, i stick to decaf when i can afford to.

so this morning i did something i haven’t done in a few years. even though i awoke tired and uncomfortable, i made the decision to look at myself in the mirror and say, “life is beautiful. i will have an amazing day.” did i believe myself entirely ? no, not really. but just the act of saying this to myself outloud was enough to dress myself for work, walk/crutch to work, and feel a sense of confidence i haven’t felt in years.

i had a headache for the better part of the day and the only thing that sounded even remotely appealing to me was my bed. my bed is a single mattress on the floor and yet it still sounded like the best place in the world for the eight hours i was at work. so i continued to tell myself that i was fantastic all day long. i even reached a point where i believed it – despite the physical and emotional discomfort i was experiencing. walking around work, walking to work, walking to lunch, walking home. i kept reciting to myself that life is beautiful. for the first time since i lived in new york, i paused many times during these slow walks just to admire my surroundings. the small moments that we overlook regularly because we are far too concerned with getting where we are going to do whatever it is we plan to do when we get there. so i paused, many times over. i was late back from my hour lunch break for this very reason. i was too busy admiring the “mundane” around me. and hell, losing a few minutes off my paycheck for some self love is completely worth it in my opinion.

i admired the sky. the sunshine. the fog that rolled in after work. the everything. i’ve had a rough couple of years. i really have. and i finally need to admit that and be okay with that. i think my rough couple of years all started in october of 2009 when a close family friend of mine was murdered in cold blood. this was followed by a series of unfortunate events. i’m coming up on the two year anniversary of this awful tragedy and feel as if i am finally finding some peace in my life and, more importantly, within myself. that’s pretty cool.

so, yeah. life is beautiful. if you or i don’t believe it now or today, i am certain that someday we will. with that, i have two of my favorite quotes to share with you ::

“everything will be okay in the end. and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”

“just don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

[nikon 35 mm. 2010.]

jessi

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marie antoinette and captain cool.

i recently wrote a post about the fish who live in a tank at the art store where i work.

i just learned the names of the fish that existed before i was first hired there (around nine months ago).

the fish have been named as follows ::

Liberace

Bob Ross

Iggy Pop

Sargent Pepper

Sheena (from a song by The Ramones)

Lady Gaga

Michael Jackson

Larry (for reasons i cannot disclose)

celebrity names, yes – with the exception of Larry. only Liberace and Michael Jackson remain. since my last post about this fish tank, we lost another member of our aquatic family. we lost Larry the snail. my co-worker went to clean the tank one day only to discover that Larry the snail was no longer there. his shell was, but his body was missing. given Liberace’s past behavior, we have hereby assumed that she ate Larry. she must have sucked him up whole, in one bite, like a piece of sushi. had she thrown him from the tank (like we assume she had done with Lady Gaga), Larry would have very likely met the same fate as Lady Gaga. that fate being the sole of my shoe, stepping and slipping and crushing the soul on the floor.

today i am writing about two more celebrity named people i have just recently met. actual people, not fish.

marie antoinette is a lady who cruises around north beach. she may or may not be homeless. she’s told me that she is, but due to the cleanliness of her clothing and the new looking shopping bags that i’ve seen her cart around, i’m unsure. i ran into her tonight on my way home. she recognized me and had even remembered my name – which i had not expected. she’s harmless. she’s kind. she talks a lot, maybe too much. but she’s very sweet and well intentioned. tonight, she was walking towards me. i still have a crutch under one arm and she was wearing a neck brace. she stopped to give me a high five. a “we’re both crippled!” high five. she remembered my name, once again claimed she was homeless, and shoved this poster into my arms. this poster is old. a silk screened poster of a show that Elvis Presley once played here in san francisco. i stared at it long and hard, lifting my jaw from the pavement. “where.. where.. where did you.. uh.. find this ?”

apparently she got it from a friend, who got it from another friend, and so on. i know silk screens. i may not be an expert in antiques, but this poster looks like the real deal, like an original. i asked her over and over again if she was sure she wanted to give it to me. she said that she had no use for it and insisted that i take it. i couldn’t turn it down. she asked for “a couple bucks,” which i gave her, and she moved along. when i got home, i investigated this poster and its origins. and i actually think this thing is from 1969, the date on the poster. awesome ? YES.

and now for Captain Cool. no, it’s not the name of a celebrity, but i think he’s kind of a celebrity here in north beach. i think he may have suffered from throat cancer. or something close. he’s got one of those voice boxes that requires him to press some flesh covered button on his throat to speak. he wears tiny round wire framed black lens sunglasses, a tall top hat, a velvet coat, and tall leather boots that reach the top of his knees. yes, he is just as amazing as he sounds.

several weeks ago i was in Vesuvio on my lunch break. Vesuvio is an incredibly old bar, but the reason i go there on nearly every lunch break is because you are welcome to bring your own lunch (a cheap bagel, in my case) and you don’t need to purchase alcohol. if you’re me, you buy a cheap mug of peppermint tea and spend your hour lunch break drawing or writing. i now know the staff there well enough that i rarely even pay for my tea. i throw a couple bucks down as a tip for my tea and sit in a cozy and comfortably lit booth to write or draw for around fifty minutes. it’s a wonderful way to spend a lunch break.

on one such lunch break, i was seated near Captain Cool. i’d never met him before, but had seen him there on the regular, always sipping on a pint of guiness. (i asked him his name. he said it was Patrick, but that everyone called him Captain Cool. he said there was a story to explain that, but he’d save it for another time.) i was embroidering the image of a budweiser can when he approached me. he leaned towards my table and asked me (with his voice box throat) if i was a seamstress, to which i replied, “no. no. i use embroidery like i use paint. as you can see.. this is not well cross stitched or straight.” to which he replied that he was looking for someone to sew some patches onto some jackets he has. again, i informed him that i am a sloppy seamstress. straight lines are beyond me, with or without a sewing machine.

he stared at my cross-stitching and declared, “but what you have here is perfect. i like those imperfections. that’s exactly what i would want.” so i agreed. i gave him my email address. he said he wouldn’t be needing my services for quite some time, but would be in touch when the time came. that same day, i met a friend at Vesuvio after work. Captain Cool happened to be there, i nodded at him and he nodded back at me. the next thing i know ? the waitress came to me with two shot glasses filled with whiskey. she said, “Captain Cool wanted to buy you this round.”

thanks, Captain Cool. thanks, Marie Antoinette.

you certainly know how to make a girl feel loved.

jessi

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new york, i love you.

i wasn’t born in the states, so when describing myself i call myself german. perhaps german american would be more appropriate, but slipping ‘american’ in there has never felt natural. and i have to confess, i don’t really like calling myself an american.

i know it’s the land of the free where you can pursue happiness and have the right to free speech, but when i think of americans i have this terrible image in my head of people who are greedy, selfish, and overindulgent. it’s not accurate nor is it fair. although i’ve met some people in my life who certainly fit that profile, A. it’s a mixed bag since a lot of them weren’t even american and B. i know a hell of a lot more people who are anything but. and although this country certainly has its problems, there’s a lot about america to love.

i’m talking about this today for obvious reasons. it’s the ten year mark of a horrible tragedy that occurred in my favorite city.

i’ve been stewing about my own discomfort with this for a few days and i think i have a fairly good handle on where my disdain for calling myself an american comes from. it’s a combination of things that can be traced back to my childhood.

being relocated here from germany when i was just four years old has always irked me. we moved because of my father’s job with microsoft, which is why we ended up in seattle, washington. part of me feels robbed. like america took away the german in me. it took away my first language, it took away the childhood i could have spent in germany, it took away my family. of course i have my nuclear family here in the states, but if i ever wanted to pay anyone in my extended family a visit, i’d need to go the airport and fly east for around ten hours.

if you’ve never been plucked from your country of origin and placed in another country, you may not understand this feeling of displacement and unease. and i’m not pointing fingers at my parents or anyone else. there is not a single person to be blamed for how i feel, it’s just how i feel. anyone with a similar experience would probably agree with me that the word lost describes it pretty well.

another word now comes to mind. the word home. i don’t really know where home is. part of me truly feels like i can’t call anywhere home. real home. home implies comfort, safety, and origin. i call seattle home because it’s where my immediate family is. it’s where i did most of my growing up. it’s where i have all of my memories stored. but it doesn’t feel like my “real” home. i haven’t been back to germany for well over a decade, but when i conjure up the thought of germany in my head – it feels like my real home. i don’t think i have any memories of it, but i have formulated them vicariously through the pictures i have seen of me when i was a little girl and the stories my parents have told me over the years.

going back to my previous statement about americans, i’m pretty sure the reason for those assumptions resides in the fact that i was reared in bellevue, washington. being a ‘softie’ (a child of a microsoft parent that is, yes i coined this term on my own), i grew up with wealth and wealthy people around me. this is not something i like to discuss and unless i really feel i can trust someone, i rarely mention this fact. but i guess it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

and to call all wealthy people greedy, selfish, and overindulgent is clearly stupid because it’s just not true. however, we humans have a way of focusing on the bad and forgetting the good. for every negative there may be four positives, but we’ll still focus on that one negative. so this is me focusing on that one negative :: the memories i have of certain people i grew up around who fit this profile. some were friends (at times) and some were not. again, it’s a mixed bag. all i can say is that i have seen, first hand, what wealth can do to a person.

[listen]

i moved to new york city in two thousand and three. almost exactly two years after the towers had fallen. i moved there in august. i lived in a very cramped cozy apartment with my best friend. when september eleventh rolled around, we went to our rooftop at dusk. i’m not sure if they still do this, but when i lived there they would shine two spotlights directly into the sky from where the two towers once stood. from our rooftop, we had a perfect unblocked view of those spotlights. i’ll never forget it. i remember feeling like i’d really missed out on something. had they still been standing, we would have seen them perfectly from our little patio.

if you’ve ever lived in new york, you’ll likely understand this sort of territorial feeling you have about the city. when you ever hear people talking about how “pushy” or “aggressive” new yorkers are, you’re blood will boil like mine does. new york has this connotation of being always and forever fast paced and abrasive. a lot of people i know claim that it’s a place they like to visit but they would never ever live there because of the city and its inhabitants “attitude.”

if you ask me ? i don’t have any memory of this “attitude” that so many people speak of. there were no more pushy or aggressive people in new york than there have been anywhere else that i have lived or visited. in fact, i think i’ve met more kind and friendly people there than anywhere else. new yorkers will do anything to help you out. i remember needing help on several occasions and people were all too willing to lend a hand.

i’ll never forget the time i was walking to my commencement ceremony at school. it was a warm day in may. i was wearing rubber flip flops and running a little late as i bolted down 13th street towards school. in typical new york weather fashion, it suddenly began to pour warm muggy rain. i had just crossed broadway when my flat flip flops slid on a well paved piece of sidewalk. it was a textbook perfect cartoon fall. my feet went in the air in front of my face, my umbrella went flying, and i landed hard, slamming both elbows on the sidewalk. my backpack had, thankfully, broken the fall for my back, but that in turn meant my elbows took the brunt of it. i hit the ground so hard that my vision went completely black.

i couldn’t move my arms and i was blinking and blinking and all i could see was black. it is still, to this day, one of the scariest experiences i have ever had. so i sat there, temporarily blinded, on the sidewalk, in the pouring rain, at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in manhattan. what happened next completely surprised me.

a stranger, who i couldn’t even see, pulled me under some scaffolding about ten feet away to get me out of the rain. my vision slowly returned to me and i realized that there were at least six people gathered around me asking me if i was ok and one of them brought me my umbrella (i still have that umbrella). i said i was, but that i couldn’t use my arms. i hadn’t broken any bones (as it turns out), but i think my elbows had locked and pain was coursing through my arms. so a very kind man asked if he could do anything for me. i wanted to call a friend and get into a cab, but i didn’t have the ability to do either. so i asked him if he could call my friend devin, instructing him as to where my phone was in my backpack.

at this point, i was pretty sure that this man was just going to steal my cell phone. but he didn’t. he found my friend’s number, hit the call button, and placed the phone between my shoulder and ear. he stayed with me until i was off the phone, put the phone back in my backpack, and proceeded to hail me a cab and give me a ten dollar bill. to the new yorkers that helped me out that day, thank you.

that is what i think of when i think of new york. i think of kind people. and when i think of new york, i also feel like it’s the closest i’ve ever come to feeling like my real home. maybe that’s because it’s closer to europe than the west coast, but i think it has a lot more to do with the city and the fine people who live there.

my heart goes out to all those who were struck by this tragedy ten years ago today. to their friends, their families, their co-workers, their what have yous. you are an amazing group of human beings who have single handedly renewed my faith in the human race and moreover, being an american.

[tattered. 35mm film shot on my manual nikon in new york city.]

jessi

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might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.

i depart this coming thursday for seattle, my “homeland.” or at least, the land (post my first few years of life in germany) where i was raised since i was just a wee thing. a wee thing who proudly paraded around in spandex shorts like they going out of style (and trust me, they were so in style back then). i also remember this amazing pair of yellow boot slippers that i wore until they could no longer be worn (due to a serious amount of holes). they were a pale canary yellow and laced up to my ankles. they had no rubber souls (therefore they weren’t shoes) and since they reached my ankle i considered them boots. to this day, they are still my favorite pair of foot attire (blippoots :: boot-slippers, that is) i have ever owned. a close runner up being the black pair of (rather hideous in hind-sight) sneakers (this was during my ‘i like black everything’ phase) with black laces threaded with silver.

this memory of shoes brings back another memory about a certain blanket i once owned. i’m not sure if it had a name, such as ‘blankey’ (as so many blankets do), but it was special. and come to think of it, it was more of a comforter. not a full on puffy down thing, but a well padded blanket-comforter hybrid. i remember that is was blue and covered in clouds and sunshine. i wouldn’t be surprised if rainbows were involved as well. said blanket was my staple item when i was a child. it would wrap around me while i slept at night and i was never seen without it in the living room either as a wrap around or a spread on the floor, like a picnic blanket, while i played with my toys, which were probably My Little Ponies. i was particularly (and painfully) fond of this blanket. i remember feeling somewhat betrayed when it was forced to hit the washer and dryer. leaving me without my safety net. the demise of this blanket was quite traumatizing. it happened the day that my sister threw up on it.

i’m not entirely sure how accurate my memory is, but what i do remember is that my mom tried to hide the fact that my beloved quilt was no longer. perhaps she told me that it was in the wash. or it was lost. i have no idea. but i do remember that when i had learned its true fate. i was quite angry at my sister (even though she had been involuntarily sick) and i also remember crying over the fact that my favorite possession was now stuffed in a trash can saturated with vomit. it’s amazing how significant a piece of fabric and some stuffing can be.

 

i now have another memory that just popped into my head. as a child, i would collect caterpillars. i’d scoop them up into my hands and place them into small tupperware containers. i wouldn’t place a lid on them because i knew that would only smother them and prevent oxygen from reaching them, so i would cover the tops with saran wrap and, using a fork, poke air holes. i remember having quite the collection of caterpillars in my bedroom. i would stuff leaves in their containers and sprinkle them with water. i’ve never had a green thumb, but i treated those caterpillars like orchids. i watched them like a hawk. i cared for them so deeply and only wanted them to flourish.

however, in caterpillar terms, flourishing means turning into a butterfly. and when you have a mother who is a little freaked out by her youngest daughter stock piling caterpillars in her room on her window sill, there are consequences. i recall coming home from school one day to discover my large collection of window sill captive caterpillars had disappeared. it was beyond upsetting. i’d spent (what felt like) months, nourishing these pour trapped insects (thinking i was doing them a favor by “protecting” them from the severity of nature). i approached my mom about their sudden disappearance and she informed me, with a completely straight face, that they had all miraculously turned into butterflies and flown away. when she told me this i did keep crying, but i was pleased. i was happy. i felt responsible for their successful evolution.

i never collected another caterpillar after that. i believed her story at the time (even though, years later, she did come clean about her setting them free in the garden while i was at school). i’m not sure what stopped me from collecting them again. perhaps i felt a sense of guilt ? perhaps they’d have become butterflies far sooner had i not intervened ? and the weirdest thing is that to this day, if and when i see a caterpillar (which is not too often), i am quite squeamish. coming from the girl who used to display them with pride on her windowsill and admire their every awkward wiggle, it’s a little contradictory.

i remember claiming when i was a kid that i loved spiders. but that was never true. this was also during my “i like black phase.” spiders have and will always make me want to scream like a freshly castrated male, run, undress, and search my naked body for any signs of them. but spiders have nothing on cockroaches. i would gladly sleep with a bed full of spiders than encounter another cockroach.

 

when i lived in new york city, i had to deal with them once in a while (and once in a while turned into all of the while when i was a victim of a roach infestation – true story). i think the most frightening fact about them is that of all the creatures on this planet they are, apparently, the only ones that would be able to survive a nuclear attack. this also makes me quite weary of raid because if roaches can survive a nuclear attack, then what exactly is in raid that can kill them so easily ? this never stopped me from using the stuff. i treated that red can like a fire extinguisher during a house fire. seeing a brown, semi glossy, oval thing in my apartment – be it on the floor, wall, or ceiling – feels like nothing short of the apocalypse.

possibly the most infuriating part about cockroaches is their attitude. they have such despicable confidence in themselves. you can be staring at one, gripping a can full of raid, and they will merely twitch their disgusting little antennae at you. they have no fear whatsoever. perhaps they are aware of the fact that a nuclear attack could not kill them, but little do they know that that can of raid in my hand could end their life.

i’ve had cockroaches crawl (by the dozen) out of the radiator in my room in new york. which caused me to cry hysterically and run to my friend’s apartment so that i could crash on her couch. i’ve had two cockroaches, who were (in hindsight) unsuccessfully crawling on the ceiling fall, only to land on my head and shoulder. you will never know how terrifying that feeling is until it happens to you.

in my third apartment, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when i was going to the bathroom and encountered my favorite roommate. at this point in my stay at this apartment (all of three weeks in), i kept a full can of raid in every room. as i sat down to use the toilet, a cockroach crawled out from under the shower (only two feet from the toilet). i quickly killed it with raid (while still seated with my pants down). the next day, whilst showering, one crawled into the shower. i’m sorry. but when you are fully naked and an insect of that caliber – one that i consider to be the worst kind of villain from a science fiction story – wanders into your space – it’s time to lose your cool.

i purchased about three more cans of raid. i purchased about six cans of “foam filler.” every crack and crevice in that apartment was filled was faux foam. a substance that expands and fills any and every hole you can imagine. my apartment was lined with this stuff. it wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was effective. after gap filling my apartment, 90% of those despised creatures were gone in my apartment. i still had the occasional run-in and heart attack, but after that, i really couldn’t complain too much. however. no matter where i was in that apartment, i constantly looked over my shoulder. head. feet. on a regular basis i would claim to “see something” and proceed to skulk around my apartment with a can of raid gripped tightly in my hand. not unlike a cop keeping his hand held closely to the gun his holster. you can never be too prepared.

i can’t believe (or maybe i can?) that i just rambled on about insects for an entire post. i’ll be the first to admit that when i see a fly or spider or any other house hold “guest” i will crush it and dispose of it. i am not one who releases them back into the “wild.” i also have a deep seeded fear that for every insect i kill an army of their family members will, without doubt, come and find me. smother me. bite me. and suck my blood until i die. or apologize. whichever one comes first. but i am betting that an apology will never come. i am not sorry for the roaches or spiders i have killed. so, bring it on.

i had an actual story to tell before i began rambling about roaches and spiders, so the title will stick and if i don’t see you prior to this weekend it’s because i’m in seattle wearing a bridesmaid dress on saturday.

jessi

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enter title here

pizza was just ordered.

two large pizzas. one pepperoni. one cheese. we have three guests staying here. all of them from atlanta. which means there are seven us, in total, in our apartment. it’s somewhat loud, completely hilarious, and lovable. i love how many people crash here all the time. some may find it to be a nuisance, but i find it to be great company. we’ve yet to have one disrespectful guest. honestly ? every few weeks i get to meet one to three amazing people for a short period of time who demand nothing from me, know how to party, know when enough is enough, and that’s that. and more often than not, they usually offer up a homemade meal or two.

the only draw back is that, at this time, i can’t hang out with them. i have a show opening this friday the fifteenth of july. this means i need to make a few more pieces. which is all well and dandy. except. except. i don’t really have the time. so, i’m having to make the time. and that means i must lose some sleep. i must paint until my eyes are barely open, a slip of eyeball barely remaining.

i push on. and on. i am doing what i love and therefore i cannot complain. i repeat, i am doing what i love. and will continue to. even if it means i fall head first into my keyboard, absorbing some acrylic paint along the way.

i’m currently watching Fight Club. an amazing film with an amazing soundtrack and an even more amazing message.

so, with that, i will leave you with the image of a cornflower blue tie. “it must be tuesday.”

jessi

 

 

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happy birthday

i haven’t told you the birthday story yet. this story is from the middle of april and explains why, when my my fellow employees and i are experiencing a particularly high level of frustration or chaos we will look at each other and sarcastically exclaim, “happy birthday !”

during the middle of april, the thirteenth to be exact, two of the four people that i work with were going to be out of town for five days. the two people leaving were my manager and assistant manager. they were leaving for arizona for one of the biannual manager retreats that our company holds. this meant that me and my coworker nick were to be in charge of the store. he and i had only so much authoritative power since we were both, at the time, considered to be just clerks. when the managers go away to a retreat it is understood that they will be hard to contact in case of emergency since they are busy 90% of the time and much of that time is spent talking to the big wigs from corporate (who are actually all very cool people) and cell phones are likely to be off or silenced at almost all times. that said, we have seventeen stores nationwide and in the case of an emergency, we have sixteen other stores we could call for help if need be.

now, running an art store is no easy task when the manager or assistant manager is around, but between nick and i we both felt confident that we could handle any curve balls that were thrown our way. and to be honest ? aside from keeping the store running smoothly, the customers happy, and making money – nick and myself just wanted to make sure that the real basics were covered. as in, don’t set the store on fire, try not to get robbed, avoid serious injuries, and pray that no natural disasters hit during the five days that the boss ladies were out of town. it was just five days, how hard could it be to keep our ship from sinking ?

the first day was a wednesday. the store was opened on time, we made some good money, and everything went as it should. i like to consider that particular wednesday, april thirteenth, to be the calm before the storm.

on thursday morning i woke up around 7:30am to start getting ready for work to arrive at around 8:30 so that i could be ready to open the doors by 9:00. it just so happened that that was also nick’s birthday. he was scheduled to come in at 10:30 and i was prepared to get balloons and a card before work from safeway so that he’d have a little fun on his birthday at work.

at 7:45am with a bare right foot, i stepped on a glass pipe. it wasn’t mine, but i guess that doesn’t really matter. all that matters is that i stepped smack in the middle of a twelve inch glass pipe. it promptly snapped when i’d applied my full weight on it. the pipe itself was a dark color, as was the rug that it was sitting on – which was why i didn’t see it in the first place. not to mention the fact that i was a little sleepy eyed and i am also a professional klutz. i run into things all the time, but in my defense this was the first time i’d ever snapped a glass pipe in half with my foot.

when you step on a glass pipe and hear a loud POP! you may think that a serious amount of blood and pain will be involved – and it is – but not if the gash is well plugged. i’d managed to slice open the bottom and side of my foot, so i actually couldn’t really see the damage. i stopped dead in my tracks, looked at the floor, realized it was the pipe i’d stepped on, and promptly sat down on the couch that was directly next to me. i saw no blood and felt little pain, so i figured i was lucky. it was at that point that i twisted my foot just so so that i could get a better look. sure enough, there was a large shard of glass in my foot. without a second thought, i pulled the piece of glass out because really ? who wants to walk around with a piece of glass in their foot ? at the time, i immediately remembered the tale of the little dutch boy who stuck his finger into a dyke when he noticed a leak on his way to school. however, unlike the little dutch boy who kept his finger in the dyke and heroically saved his town from flooding, i removed the shard of glass from my foot and a river of blood began to flow from my foot which was now, by this time, feeling pretty darn sore.

a small pool of blood formed on the carpet and i pulled a small trash can under my foot so that i at least had a receptacle to contain the obscene amount of blood gushing from my foot. it was at this point that i called to the person who was with me (who had heard the POP! and asked if i was ok – to which i had first replied, “yeah, i’m fine”) and told him that he’d better come help me out. he saw the damage, gasped, exclaimed he saw bone (and so did i), and ran to his bathroom to retrieve gauze pads, a cotton bandage, and an ace bandage. i have to admit, if this had happened in my house i wouldn’t have been so prepared. i would have been lucky to find enough to paper towel or toilet paper to absorb all of the blood coming out of my foot.

while he frantically bandaged my foot (and props to him because he was on it like white on rice), i kept saying, “i need to get to work.. i have to open the store by nine..” – come hell or high water i had to make sure the store would be open by 9:00am, despite my current condition. he informed me that i would need stitches. i more or less scoffed at this because i wanted to consider this a flesh wound. there’s no good time to get stitches in your foot, much less when you live in a city that requires a lot of walking. much less a city with painfully steep hills that are a b*tch to climb when your feet are free of stitches. so, i called nick. and then i called him again. i called him five times. no answer.

at this time, nick happened to be staying at my apartment because he was between apartments. i have three roommates so i called one of them. then another. no answer. i called my final roommate, the one i figured the least likely to answer, and as luck would have it – he answered. eureka ! i asked him to wake up nick and give him the phone so that i could deliver the news and ask nick, on the morning of his birthday, to wake early and do what i could not do because i was a cab ride away from the nearest emergency room. and during this rushed phone call i completely failed to wish nick a happy birthday. i still feel guilty about that.

it was at this point that we called our manager to let her know what had happened. it was an injury and therefore fell into the “call the manager” category – manager’s retreat or not. and believe it or not, the store was open by 9:05am. go nick !

the E.R. happened and eight stitches later i rather awkwardly gimped out of the hospital and hailed the first available cab. instead of giving him my work address, i asked him to take me to safeway. i still had birthday balloons to buy, you see. my friends are my heart. i will never miss an opportunity to celebrate them on their birthdays even if i have fresh stitches in my foot. in the cab i called nick to let him know i was on my way. his only request ? “whatever you do – please make sure that i have a TIARA to wear.” done and done. thanks be to god for walgreens and their kid’s section which offered a princess glamour set. tiara and balloons were acquired. i limped to work with these items in my arms and received many stares. not good stares. but more like, “oh that poor crazy person” stares. i’m okay with that. at that point, i think i was crazy-person qualified.

i arrived at work with balloons and tiara in tow. nick was happy to see all of that, but he was a bit preoccupied. you see, the computers had decided to go down for the morning. there were about ten people in line impatiently tapping their feet because the register was not cooperating. because this involved money, we had to place phone call number two to our manager. happy birthday.

after two plus hours on the phone with tech support, the matter was resolved. by this time, a few deliveries had arrived and i’d already spent the better part of the day just ringing people at the register with my foot elevated. any and all deliveries were (and had to be) received by nick because i could barely walk around the store, much less up and down a flight of stairs.

thursday came and went, the silver lining being that since nick had opened the store (instead of closing it) that afforded him to leave earlier than first expected which meant he could begin drinking sooner than expected. and boy oh boy did he earn every cocktail he drank that night.

on friday morning i opened the store by 9:00am, elevating my foot as often as i could before nick arrived at 10:30. since it was his birthday the day before, he’d done a fair bit o’ partying and was a wee bit hungover come friday morning. just after noon a man came downstairs. we receive deliveries on a near daily basis. most of them requiring signatures. when he asked for mine i blindly signed it without too much thought before asking what kind of delivery we had. it was at this point that he informed me he was not delivering any merchandise, but rather a summons. as in, lawsuit. happy birthday.

because our old location was in a basement, we had no wheelchair access. a couple years ago the city of san francisco passed a law that stated that all retail spaces must be wheelchair accessible a.k.a. ada compliant. at the time the law was passed, we asked our building manager if we could install a wheelchair ramp (at our own expense) to an elevator we had in the back of the store. our request was denied and that was that. as i later learned, we were not the first person to be hit with a lawsuit from this particular person. who, by the way, also happened to be a customer. someone who we had, in the past, run baskets of supplies up to in order to accommodate him as best as possible from our underground location. so, with that, we placed our third (and final) phone call to our manager.

on this same friday, at 2:30pm, not one – but three – pallets of canvases and wood panels arrived. at our old location, large deliveries like that would be placed on the sidewalk out front so that we could bring them in over the course of the day. with only two employees working, receiving that many pallets was daunting to say the least. with only one employee capable of walking up and down the stairs and carrying all of those panels and canvases was just, well, absurd.

i am usually a trooper when it comes to things like that. i will work through the pain and get the job done. and although i did manage to do some lifting, i really did not contribute much. i just couldn’t walk. i couldn’t put any weight on my right foot and hopping up and down the stairs was out of the question. not to mention the fact that we had customers and i was the designated cashier (for obvious reasons). so, nick heroically brought in three pallets worth of heavy wood panels and canvases in a three hour window of time. if we gave out gold medals or purple hearts, he’d have one of each. he’s a total champion.

so. upon my bank fiasco that just took place in the last twenty four hours i walked into work this morning greeted by a “happy birthday!” from my fellow employees. and even in the midst of such an event, i have to laugh because at the end of the day i have this theory we have a choice to make when faced with all things bad and out of our control. laugh or cry. and i do believe there is always a time and a place for a good cry, it’s so much easier to laugh. so, to anyone facing a something stressful in their life, happy birthday ! trust me, you are not alone.

jessi

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bank fraud, say what ?

it’s a strange thing when you are forced to sit on the fact that $4,500.00 (that you did not withdraw) is in the process of being withdrawn for your bank account a.k.a your life source.

in less than twelve hours i will know whether or not i have been a victim of bank fraud. it’s terrifying. but at the same time ? there is nothing i can do about it right now than wait it out. as of tomorrow morning i will know whether or not this withdrawal has been honored and where this withdrawal originated. so for now ? i get to sit on this rather unsettling fate for the evening and hope that my bank has enough common sense to throw up some red flags and prevent this transaction from actually taking place.

but to be entirely honest ? this situation is not entirely scary. i mean, it is only because i have paid both bills and rent in the last week. all of these checks are due for deposit any day now and they will bounce if, come tomorrow morning, my balance remains at zero. this will make me look like an unreliable tenant and customer and roommate. i want nothing to do with any of the above. but, what can you do ? what happens happens and aside from leaving voicemails and sending emails, there’s little i can do. so be it.

it was a strange contrast to have this happen after learning that last night my father experienced a house fire which forced him to spend a few hours in the E.R. (with his wife) and nurse some minor burns to his face.

i immediately kicked into protective parental mode. as most children experience in their lifetime, there is a time when you take on the role of parent to your parents. i can’t say that i’ve done this many times over, but every once in a while i feel it necessary to scold my mother or father for acting somewhat foolish. in this case, i gave my father a good earful. telling him to be more careful with his cigar ashes in his wine cellar. i mean, really ? hot ashes, wooden crates, and alcohol. is that not a recipe for disaster ? it really doesn’t matter at this point. all that matters is that he and his family are all safe and sound and that the fire that came to life in their basement was extinguished in a timely fashion.

i can’t say that i am too familiar with life and death situations. that’s not to say that my father was moments away from death’s door, but one cannot deny the fact that had he and his wife left the surrounding area for a few extra minutes, his house may have been engulfed in flames and he and his family may have been severely hurt.

all of that said, the fourth of july just passed. i spent the morning sleeping in a dark room. and then i headed to a motorcycle shop. a shop that rents harleys. by one o’clock i was drinking out of a red cup admiring some ribs that had been smoking since nine in the morning. by three, i enjoyed said ribs and sat quite happily in the sunshine, only to receive a memorable burn. a tan line that started on the upper ankle and extended to my feet (and don’t forget the amazing flip flop tan that accompanied it).

the fourth came and went. as did my father’s house fire and the bank fraud i am sure to be a victim of. it is a tuesday night and i am at home watching Volume 1 of Kill Bill. in ten days i have to hang my work up at a bar/gallery space. i don’t feel entirely ready, but i am getting there. i suppose though, if i have no funds and an excess of art supplies (and good entertainment like Kill Bill), i have no choice other than to make some great work.

it’s nearing one in the morning. painting will have to wait until tomorrow, but i am hopeful for the future – regardless of what my bank tells me tomorrow. i have my family. i have my paints. i have my canvas. there’s little else that i need to keep me happy.

over and out.

jessi

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8

the title of today’s post has nothing to do with today’s post. or maybe it does. it’s too soon to tell. i’d opened a window in my browser to write a new post, navigated away from it for a few minutes, and came back to find the number eight entered in the title field of the post. i would have erased it, but that number is undeniably significant to me, so i kept it right where it was. i sincerely doubt that my keyboard and computer are trying to send me ethereal messages, but one can only hope.

in my last entry i mentioned that my left hand’s ring finger (you know, the finger) was starting to feel a bit naked these days.

every girl has their own opinion of marriage. some girls are enamored by the thought of their wedding day when they are young. they make a scrapbook and collect clippings from bridal magazines, formulating their own future perfect day years in advance. others, like myself, show little to no interest in the idea of marriage, being neither for or against it.

the idea of getting married does not scare me, but it doesn’t intrigue me either. when i think of marriage, i think, “that would be nice.” and what kind of an adjective is nice ? nice is a word that describes everything and nothing all at the same time. in my opinion, it implies an entirely neutral and unmemorable feeling. nice. say it enough times and it loses all meaning completely.

have you ever flipped a coin to determine a decision you did not want to make ? i think we all have, many times over. i feel like i just flipped a coin. i have a coin flipping theory. my theory being that when one flips a coin to determine, say, should i order mexican or thai food for dinner ? one will immediately know the answer to their question once said coin has made the decision for them. you will either feel relief or regret. if you feel relief when you discover the coin told you that you were going to have mexican, then it’s mexican that you wanted all along. if you feel regret, then you know that it was thai food you’d really wanted all this time. flipping a coin is the best way to make a decision when you are feeling indecisive.

in the words above, i feel like i have just flipped a coin. i’d written all the things i thought that were true only to discover that maybe they are not. i couldn’t make this post on my blog and feel entirely honest or sincere. i reread my words about marriage and immediately felt a sense of regret. i may not have had a scrapbook full of wedding dresses as a child, but i think i’d like to get married one day. i really do. the above is what i’ve been telling myself, more or less, for the past year or so – that’s when the whole concept of being married actually entered my brain.

why am i talking about marriage ? my manager just got married a week ago. i’ve had two customers come into my store this week – one was a bride to be and one was a man about to propose to his girlfriend at the grand canyon. and on july 23rd, i will be a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s weddings. it is wedding season, as all summers are. but this is the first summer where that actually is significant to me. as in, i actually know people (as opposed to knowing friends of friends) who are getting married.

and so it goes. the number eight stands mysteriously as the title of this blog entry and will remain that way.and so it goes. if i don’t post before monday, i wish you all a very happy fourth of july. i have plans to sleep in and eat freshly smoked meat in the afternoon. i don’t even care if i see any fireworks because, quite frankly, they will only remind me of the number eight.

[the american dream. holga, 120 film. racine, wisconsin 2009.]

jessi

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