Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bird on Fire

It took six and a half hours to drive to phoenix, not counting the frequent stops on the side of the road to take cat naps. I am the world’s worst night driver and I will fall asleep at the wheel if I am not careful. I know girl who fell asleep at the wheel and killed someone, so I am very cautious. I spent the night at a Wal-Mart, and by noon the next morning, I was hanging out with Andi talking about photo shoot ideas.

In addition to being quite possibly the prettiest girl that I have ever seen with my own eyes, Andi is also an incredible model and artist. We spent a long time looking at her paintings, drawings, charcoals, images that she had taken, and images that she modeled for. By the end, I was feeling very inadequate. Her work was all very good, and, while I have a lot of work that I am proud of, most of my portfolio is in Tuscaloosa on my external hard drive, so I had little to show her. On top of that, the last minute nature of the shoot, and the fact that I was running on 6 hours of sleep (I need 10) meant that my creative energy was shot.

There I was, with the model of my dreams, and I could barely put together a shoot. I had a wonderful time hanging out with her and her friends, and we ended up doing a set with Caroline, a single mom who looked like Gwen Stefani and wants to open up a bakery, and Caroline’s daughter Addison. I was really pleased with how many of the images came out in spite of the challenging lighting, but I can’t help but feel like I missed out on a lot of potential for shoots that I could have done with Andi.

I will try to convince her to shoot some more with me when I pass back by Phoenix after my hike in the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If A Tree Walks In The Forest

July 26th and 27th

As I sit in the front seat of my truck in a Wal-Mart parking lot, I think back over the last few days, and how different the rest of my journey is going to be. I am in San Diego, which looks a lot more like desert than TV would lead you to believe. The people I have met and interacted with on the street have all been friendly. There is a comic book convention going on in the downtown conference center, so the streets are packed with people wearing costumes of all types, ranging from an overweight Jedi to a busty Mrs. America with a bad wedgy.

I have been hanging out with my friend Andrew, who is undergoing SEAL training in Coronado, his friend and fellow trainee Joe from Michigan, and some Croatian girls that they met. Joe and Andrew are both extremely hospitable, and I have not paid for anything the entire time that I have been with them. Last night we went out with their croatian friends to a place downtown. It was nice to be able to have a drink in public with my friend Andrew now that I don't work in youth ministry. I hope that today they will take me to see the obstacle course that they have to run as part of their training.

Disruptive Camouflage

Some animals attempt to hide themselves by using patterns to break up their outline so that they blend into their environment, while other animals try to physically look like their environment. The tree dancers at the San Diego Zoo fall into the second category.

I saw them as I was leaving the zoo. Two girls, wearing stilts on their hands and feet and completely covered from head to toe in fake vines and green paint, made their way to a small dance space at the entrance of the zoo. They moved like giant, graceful insects, bending and cavorting as they danced around each other. Their movements were perfectly synchronized, and their dance felt organic as they bent and gyrated like ballerinas (which I assume they were). At the end of the dance, they slowly moved through the crowd, stopping at every tree to hide or dance some more, until they finally went behind a fence.

One Down, Four to Go

Life is full of change. You learn to change, or you don’t, but either way change still happens. I have just finished the first leg of my journey, the road west through the desert. I have experienced what it is like to be alone, and yet I haven’t. I have been lonely, but God really has come through in keeping feelings of loneliness at bay. He has been my constant companion, and when he knows that I need a real friend to talk to, he has always provided. I felt more alone working at the JH Ranch with people who did not understand me than I have in the middle of the desert with no one in sight. I don’t know why that is.

It is time for me to move into greener pastures (slightly). It is time for me to head north, away from the abysmal desert, into the cold, rainy north. That is not the only change that is about to take place. In a day or two, I will be back in Tucson, Arizona to pick up my friend Cati.

After I left Tucson, and before I met up with Andrew in San Diego, I gave Cati a call to tell her how much more fun it was to be with people in a city that I hated than to be alone in a city that I liked. She responded by telling me how sick she is of Tucson, how she is unemployed, her lease is up in a couple of days, and she wants to leave. We made a decision, and she is now coming to join me on the road while she figures out where she wants to be. It will be great for me to have someone to hang out with, and I think she just wants to be around someone that she considers a “good” person.

This is probably one of the poorer decisions that I have made, but that remains to be seen. Please pray for me and for Cati both as we make this trip. She is not a believer, and I feel like living close to someone who has very different beliefs can definitely be a catalyst for spiritual growth or it can bring you down. If it starts to bring me down, then we will have to part ways, but please pray that it is a catalyst for growth instead.

*** The Next Day ***

It Is Not Good For Man To Be Alone

I was not kidding when I talked about change. Plans have changed, and Cati got cold feet at the last minute. I can't say that I blame her. It is not an easy thing to sell your belongings, say by to your friends, and just go. She felt like it was just to complicated to try to be ready to go in a day.

I am amazed by what a change in disposition this has brought over me. I feel like I have just been broken up with by someone that I am not even dating. It is just a weird feeling to plan on having a companion for the trip, to even go through the process of making room for their stuff, and then to find out just before you go to pick them up that they cannot go with you.

I think that this happened to make me realize how lonely I really am. I don't feel lonely when there is nobody around, but I can't stand to be alone around people. It is funny how God does things to teach us and to call us back to him.

Speaking of calls, I got a strange one today. I actually got a call from SeaSide Lady (to be fair, the call was proceeded by a couple of emails)! We talked a bit and she told me a tragic, at least to me it was tragic, story about how Andi lost my contact info and they had no way to get in touch with me. The story then took a turn for the better as the lady carefully and meticulously scoured the internet for my blog, then found my contact info and was able to get in touch with me.

I am about to give Andi a call, but odds are good that I will be heading back to Phoenix tonight to do some photo shoots tomorrow!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I’m Glad They All Can’t Be California Girls

It is funny how perspectives can change. One minute I hate Tucson, the next minute I still hate Tucson and I don’t want to leave my friends here.

Things started to turn around my second morning in town. I stopped by Taco Bell for some nachos and a burrito, where I was approached by an elderly lady.

“Young man, I don’t mean to disturb you while you are eating, but do you have a minute? You see, my son parked his car here last night when his battery died. We came back today to get the battery out so we could replace it, and he can’t get it to come out. Do you think you can help us?”

I did not think that I would be able to help, but I agreed to come take a look anyway. I met her son outside and we took a look at the battery. After a few minutes of fiddling around with my socket wrench, the lady’s son figured out what needed to be done and got the battery out of the car without any more fuss. Honestly, he did not need my help at all. That is why I was really surprised when the lady was so grateful. I told her that I had not done anything, and she responded by telling me that she knew I was an angel, and that I had really helped. She even offered to let me use her driveway if I needed a place to stay.

After I finished my food, I spent several hours exploring the Sonora Desert Museum, A 40 acre park with exhibit after exhibit of everything from desert cave life to javalinas and mountain lions. Each enclosure was large and well made, and all of the animals were native species, well adapted to the desert environment. It was exactly what a zoo should be. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in animals.

The best part of my Tucson experience was meeting Cati and Tina. Cati was interested in doing some modeling, so we connected and started working on some projects. I spent the next to days hanging out with them, doing photo shoots, and exploring Tucson counter culture. I met all sorts of interesting people, mostly tattoo sporting, liberal, anarchists. We went to abandoned buildings and desert mountainsides. We went swimming at 4:30 in the morning. We played video games and watched scrubs. It was the most fun that I have had on my road trip this far, and it all happened in my least favorite city. It was a reminder that as awesome as creation is, as beautiful as the sunset is, as huge as the mountains are, the greatest thing that I can have on this side of life is relationships, first with God, and then with the people that he puts in my path.