Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life Of Wanderlust

I've been a traveling art model for almost 3 years now, the lifestyle defiantly isn't for everyone. It can put a strain on having a "normal" life (who wants to be normal anyways?! ) I'm in love with the traveling part of it, I want to see and experience as much as I can,  rack up as many airline miles as possible, talk to even more people, and explore the cities until the soles of my shoes wear out.
My inspiration to keep going? Not who you's not a world leader or historical icon, it was a stranger that I ended up talking to while traveling with no schedule to be back to work next week. Looking at a tourist book browsing which restaurant to go to for dinner that night and deciding whether to book his hotel room a few more nights or see where the road would lead him to tomorrow. The career, house, corporate ladder and all.... that can wait, because if he doesn't let it wait he will only dream about the reality he is living now.

Friday, March 30, 2012

"If it ain't fun, it ain't done"

I'll contribute a much more up-beat post than my last.

What is "fun"? For me, it's anything that I enjoy doing, something that leaves me feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. One of the people that has come into my life through modeling has this phrase that she lives by, and I realize it's a good one to stick to.

I'm having fun during this chapter of my life right now, however much longer it lasts. We're never guaranteed anything, especially time, so why waste it?

... "If you haven't cried ...

 .. your eyes can't be beautiful." - Sophia Loren

I haven't posted in a very long, long time. I'm sorry. Life gets in the way sometimes..
I've been told countless times how "striking" my eyes are.. how "beautiful" or how much "depth" they have. In all my modeling, through countless shoots, of the thousands of images .. the comment I think I've heard the most is of my "ability to stare through the camera and into the soul of the viewer."

It's amusing to me, sometimes, to point out that I am, effectively, blind during almost all of my shoots. I wear glasses.. a very, very strong prescription. To be entirely honest, I can't actually "see" what I'm looking at when I stare into the black, blurry round thing that is the camera lens. I've no depth perception whatsoever without my "eyes" (as I've dubbed my glasses over the years), and can only see detail about 3 inches from the end of my nose.

At some point, I wonder if perhaps my lack of ability to focus on what's physically in front of me does, in fact, give the illusion that I'm staring "through" someone/thing in an image. Would I have been as good a model if I could actually see what I was doing? It wasn't until recently that I actually realized just how often my posing, positioning, etc. was a result of "feeling" what was right.. a modeling "instinct", if you will. Holding an image in my mind of where my hair is, the degree my neck is tilted, the lift of a hip or ankle.. memorizing the lighting setup before I took my glasses off.. all something that had to become a habit, rather then a visual check.

The other comments I've noticed are always "What was on your mind?" during a shoot/image. Honestly? Usually some variations of:

- "Fingers relaxed, leg up, inhale .. hold it .. hold it.. hold it .. and.. done."

 I never really noticed, until a photographer pointed it out to me once, that I generally hold my breath when I'm posing. Fear of losing the moment .. a realization that breathing is almost like a clock ticking .. sometimes causes me to just .. not .. for a while.

- "Aggh! this is killing my back and my hip, please take the picture.. take the picture now.. take it .. oh thank God."

I have chronic, mild to severe, joint & back pain. Always. Modeling was one of the most incredibly painful things I've done in my life, without fail. A good portion of why I had to stop traveling was due to the increasing level of pain that being on an airplane or in a car would cause me... still causes me. I am forced to seek steady, "real world" employment in the hopes of finding something with insurance that will allow me to have these issues diagnosed and treated on a regular basis.

Though.. sometimes I think giving up the "traveling model" identity .. might almost be more painful then the reason I had to let it go.

I deeply miss modeling. I miss the creativity.. the connection.. the flow of movement. I adored being the "chameleon", and the pleasure of seeing new images I helped create. It's an addiction.. a craving.. a need. There's an old superstition that cameras consume your soul. Every photo takes a piece of it until, eventually, there's nothing left of you except what's in the camera.

I suddenly understand why the story came about.

Modeling is a consuming, hungry, gluttonous thing. You give to it because it needs to take, and because you need to give. You feed the camera what you have inside of you, so that you might become the image .. the art.. the wonder of what it will give birth to. You become the blank canvas .. the hand, the eyes, the body .. you are no longer the name on your birth certificate. You are "Model".. and it will ravenously feast at the banquet of you until you become undeniably altered.

Am I better for this? I don't know.

I occasionally catch myself pining for it, like a lost love .. a heartache that throbs just enough to remind you some deeply engrained piece of you is missing.

Eyes are beautiful because they cry. Models are beautiful because they give, change, grow, become.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Media

We used to get most of our bookings from OMP, then later, MM. Now I get most of my work off of craigslist, mostly MM folks who don't use the travel notification system. She said, "I've had bad luck in Ashville, people keep asking me to shave my bush or make dubious requests. . . "

I told her that I never turn my Facebook messenger on. She says she has to, that people book on the fly. A week ago I heard that tumblr what the place to be. That many models are getting their bookings from there now.

We were talking about changes as if they were a dream. Like unfamiliar languages and we were trespassers in a new world. Maybe it is because everyone is 10 years younger than us. We work all the time, it is just where we get out work that changes.

taken by Rebecca Lawrence

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

on tour again with higher standards.

before i left oakland, i was approved for disability. i also took a semester of school. one of my classes was "wimmin in art history," and the class focused on the media and body image coincided with my getting on disability. i thought that now, since i do not need to rely on my modeling income to live, i could raise the bar a little. i decided to take a stand against being edited to perfection. i decided that i could no longer overlook the fakeness of those amazing images i would get back in which my skin was flawless, my stomach flat, my scars blended in with the rest of my skin. sadly i loved them all. they were an image of myself like no one looks. on the days i was in tune with the reality of my actual beauty, i would see fake plasticized images of others and i would imagine this being what they actually looked like. i would start to be down on myself. i would also imagine others looking at images of me, an oddly figured alternative model, still with an ageless beauty trying to conform to societal faux-norms, and being down on themselves.

so i changed my profile on the modeling website to say that i was not interested in perpetuating this unattainable ideal and contributing to stabs at the self-esteem of girls and wimmin who use the internet. in this subculture it is severely frowned upon for a model to be assertive in this way, to be contentious, opinionated, "difficult." i am supposed to be trying to sell myself and no one wants to buy a product with so many terms and so many boundaries. a move like i made is seen as career suicide. and i like modeling, so it was a little of a bummer. but i figured i could just work with my friends. the amount of work i had been offered had decreased over the last few years, anyway, since i had been aging at an unfortunate steady pace of one birthday a year, been getting more bad tattoos, and not been as active when it came to networking [ie. spending ten hours a day on the internet making mindless conversation (though sometimes fun!) with photographers and other models.] so i figured this was really it. say goodbye to ever working for a stranger who wanted to pay me to model for them ever again.

but i had planned a part-visit, part-tour [the music kind] trip, and i decided to post up some travel notices as a model. what the hell, it couldn't do any harm. and this weird thing happened. i got a fair amount of messages to set up work, for pay, when i was in different areas. not more than ever, but a fair amount. this is clearly what happens when no one reads profiles, i thought. but most of the messages mentioned things like "i like your attitude," and words which connected to the things i'd written or sympathized with them.

my first shoot this trip was just outside of atlanta with vic. we talked about zines, hometowns, punk scenes, body image issues, and how he has two young daughters and hopes things change soon. he used several cameras, including a panoramic pinhole one! i'm worried that i got my hopes up about the kind of people i'm going to be working with from now on.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Final Stillness

I was greeted with a beaming smile and tired eyes; there was no hostility present, no anger, just a glowing sense of peace broken up by sudden bouts of pain. This is the last time I saw my father alive.

I never understood him; nobody really did, except for maybe my brother. Other mathematicians and scientists raised their eyebrows and scratched their heads at his musings on existential mathematical theorems. I compared him to other fathers of my friends and took his lack of "normal" behaviors- riding bikes, playing catch, having tea parties- as a lack of love for me. It was in this last moment that I understood more fully that there was never any hatred or resentment towards me; maybe a frustration that I didn't find chess to exciting, and didn't like math. He latched on to anything artistic I did- took me to piano class, encouraged me (for the most part) to dance, encouraged me to sketch.

He was an artist at heart; he only went to MIT because he was one of few people in his school that tested high on an aptitude test and received a full scholarship. Instead of sketching, he now found beauty in numbers, time, space, the Universe... It was all beautiful.

I believe I have talked about the stillness in art modeling before; how it is a sort of meditation. But it is never true stillness- your heart beats, your blood flows, you shift ever so slightly with every breath in and out. The Final Stillness is when none of that energy is present anymore; it has gone elsewhere. But, I guess that even in death, we are slowly changing. It was quite stirring and terrifying to see him in the Final Stillness state; parts of me were sad, but most of me saw that it was a positive and necessary step for his soul.

His funeral was held at a Bulgarian Orthodox church; he had been baptized right before he got sick. He saw beauty in the ceremonies, saw beauty in the music, saw something that made sense; in fact, one of the last things he talked about with me was music. The Father, even though he had only known my father for a year and a half, gave his words; in short, my father tried to talk about existential math and asked questions about God and the Universe, and the Father was at once frustrated and in awe.

I think my mother put it best; he has been seeking answers to all of the questions in the Universe, and now he has them all.

I can never fully explain this process, this experience; nobody ever really can. So, I will end this with a few quotes from "Language in Thought and Action", by S. I. Hiyakawa, a book I found while drifting with my brother:

" word ever has exactly the same meaning twice... First, if we accept that the contexts of an utterance determine its meaning, it becomes apparent that since no two contexts are ever exactly the same, no two meanings can ever be exactly the same... Secondly, we can take for an example a word of 'simple' meaning like 'kettle'. But when Lynne says 'kettle', its intensional meanings to her are the common characteristics of all the kettles Lynne remembers. When Peter says 'kettle', however, its intensional meanings to him are the common characteristics of all the kettles he remembers. No matter how small or negligible the differences may be between Lynne's 'kettle' and Peter's 'kettle', there is some difference." (Page 39)

"In the course of argument, people frequently complain about words meaning different things to different people. Instead of complaining, they should accept it as a matter of course. It would be starling indeed if the word 'justice', for example, were to have the same meaning to each of the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court; then we should get nothing but unanimous decisions. It would be even more startling if 'justice' meant the same to the robber as the robbed." (Page 40)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a short trip.

hi everyone,

i am going to go to houston, tx for the first ever houston anarchist book fair and film festival! i'll be tabling there with my radical goth distro, the ambient transient, and also for some bay area projects i'm involved with. the book fair is from april 22nd-24th. i plan on getting to town a little before and staying a little after and am looking to book some shoots around that time. during the actual weekend is not as preferable as a few days before or after, but i will consider anything.

after the book fair, i will be in new orleans until about may 5th or 6th and am looking for work there, too. i think i may get to work with jonathon narducci while we are both there, but i'm not sure yet.

then a friend and i are going to ride to southern california and i guess i'll be there [LA/IE, santa barbara areas] for a few days before coming back to oakland. -- contact me or comment here for updates on specific dates and to nail something down as far as that goes.

then i will need to go to portland shortly after.

but other than that i'm staying put in oakland!! for a few months..