Welcome to the Family

To the teenage boy Just Getting Through his poem at my open mic series last night– his first open mic ever: I want to tell you I love you, in a hair ruffling big-sister way. I love you in that way that I won’t say, “wasn’t he cute, how he mumbled a little too much to a room of strangers, rhythmically cleared his throat every other line, and how every now and again he violently flexed his right knee to control the electrode-driven shake?” I love you in a way that I won’t tell you I wasn’t paying much attention to your too-long poem called “God,” only that I like how you wrote about your faith in a way that showed how important it is to you–the repetition of natural world images was cool, though maybe you want to pick just a handful of your favorites to expand on– and that writing about something so big is hard, and so important, and I hope this is the first of hundreds of poems about it. I love you as a hostess loves her guests and the empty plates they leave behind. I love you for coming with your friend, for asking your mom to pick you up, for staying just long enough on a school night to hear some other poets whose deceptively glib or wry or vague or romantic poems are still really about the big things. I love you for your voice. Welcome. We’re all trying to say what we mean and control the tremors. Welcome. You rocked it. See you next month.

Photoshoot: “Zark!” Espionage Cosmetics “Curses!” Collection of Cosmetic Glitter

ZARK! It’s belated, but here’s a look at my glitter-blasted photoshoot with Espionage Cosmetics in April. I got to model one of 4 gorgeous colors of their latest cosmetic body glitters, this time in the “Curses!” collection, themed with fictional epithets from various strains of nerd fandom. Check below the pics for info about Espionage!

Here’s some behind the scenes videos and pics from the Espionage instagram feed  and mine, as well as BTS shots from the studio (FYI, Tacomans, the Espionage HQ in the old Exit133 space has fantastic lighting for photoshoots and is being put to good use.)

Instagram video2
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Instagram video
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A few notes… Make-up and hair for this one took about 3 or 4 solid hours. LOTS of lashes. Body glitter was applied by hand, with cosmetic adhesive (think eyelash glue). The curse words are so sharp because we used adhesive decals of the words in their appropriate fonts, then peeled them away after glitterfication to show clean skin. My shade happened to be the exact color of my wine. And yes, we actually were yelling our assigned words out loud in the studio for the above photos. After the shoot,  it took about another hour to get the glitter mostly OFF of all the models, and we were sent home to shower with instructions to use olive oil to get off the remaining adhesive.

photo 4 photo 5

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And here are the final shots!

Necessary info: Espionage Cosmetics is “Make-up for Nerds.” Yes, it’s a thing. In addition to things I love about catering to a niche market rather than just trying to sell them, Espionage is all kinds of the real deal.
A small, steadily expanding PNW local company (Tacoma-based!).
Amazingly intricate photo and marketing campaigns. Woman-owned, and led by a creative turned business visionary who is crazy-ass motivated and market-savvy.

And the kicker? Espionage Cosmetics puts out a really good product. I was a customer long before this gig. I have purchased and use often about 6 different shades of the everything shadow, the comic book glitter collection (amazing for band gigs), and several of the nail wraps. And now, having used the coconut-infused lip-serum at the last shoot, it’s on my list.


Liz Lemon Would be Proud?

This is one of those days where I wonder if there’s a legitimate diagnosis for your inner psyche being at war with itself. When you’re more than conflicted. When you’re filled to the emotional brim, simultaneously thrilled at your abilities to to tackle EVERYTHING and stressedthehellout by the sheer amount of energy, will power, dumb luck, etc etc etc EVERYTHING requires of you, your life, your people, your multiple selves…

Snapshot from a Day (so far) of HAVING IT ALL… before 10am.

Working Actor starts morning by reviewing scripts for an audition, emailing agent, and updating headshots on casting databases. It’s morning, still plenty of time for optimism and hustle.

Successful Career Woman takes advantage of Convenient Work-at-Home Option via calls from my new favorite workspace, my kitchen counter. I’m plugged into my phone with headphones, watching a meeting taking place in Seattle and 3 other states– I live in the future,and still we are a living example of those awful conference call jokes, where it takes 20 minutes to get going due to technical issues and user error (I am not innocent this time). No clue that I will be waylaid and flat out denied by technology all day.

Engaged Mother already helped get the kiddo up and out the door to Preschool, and –while plugged into meeting appliances–is weighing in here, chopping fruit during the conference call for the Mother’s Day Tea I will run out to join. I am blissfully unaware of the potty training casualties and world-falling-apart moments this day has yet to bring.

Meanwhile, Loving & Mutually Supportive Spouse enjoys a cup of coffee brewed in silence (sssh, I’m on a call) by the husband. Immediately following, I discover that by choosing newly discovered kitchen counter-office over designated home office I’m seriously jeopardizing Happy Marriage by being Right. In. The. Way. and throwing off ALL the morning routines.

Oops. Blerg.

French Postcard PhotoShoot with Rachel Stephens

Boudoir Photography. Not something I ever thought I’d be modeling for… especially in a studio classroom setting and streaming live on the internet. But I did, and it was a pretty amazing experience.


Let’s just stop for a second and point out that I never thought I’d be modeling, period… for a whole host of practical, logistical, and (honestly) self-deprecatory reasons. But the opportunities have presented themselves a few times now, and there’s some more scheduled for this month! So… who am I to walk past the open doors to new ways to build characters and worlds?

First of all, I initially responded to a casting notice from CreativeLive for a pin-up model to model for a workshop with the fabulous Rachel Stephens Photography. Pin-ups are a whole different thing –in my mind, at least–from boudoir. They’re sassy, they’re not trying to be sexy– they’re cute and a little naughty with a wink.

So I gathered all my personal and borrowed potential pin-up gear– polka dot bikini, cute little red tennis skirt, and an awesome vintage one-piece swimsuit. But then I mentioned to the producer of the shoot that a French postcard look could also be fun. Game changed. The producers, the photographer, and I all loved the idea, I created a pinterest board full of French postcard images for inspiration and posing ideas (Warning: Several on the board are slightly NSFW, with implied and actual nudity), and on the day of the shoot we chose the corset and peignoir look.

Here’s what I love about the images I found: For the most part, there are props, it’s a set scene. The women are mostly doing something. That’s what I like about pin-ups too. And yes, as the husband pointed out, that’s part of how they got around classing it as pornography at the time. But still–I like the scene. Reading a book or writing a letter. Fixing a car sometimes. At the dressing table putting on make-up or pulling on a stocking (so many of these are shots of actresses and dancers “backstage”). They are more direct than the 1940s & ’50s style pin-ups; they let you know they are being interrupted.

Here are some of the ones Rachel pulled as poses we could do with her available set pieces and lighting:

FrnchPstCrdInspireAnd here’s how some of ours turned out. Of course, allowances need to be made for furniture, modern costuming, and the fact that this was never intended to be a fully authentic vintage shoot, but rather boudoir photography inspired by that look…. and I think we got the spirit of it!


French Post Card, by Rachel Stephens Photography

This whole process took a lot of nerves on my part, I don’t mind telling you. To submit in the first place, to pick out the clothing options, to walk into a studio in thigh highs with my skivvies on display, to pose in front of people, to have video cameras floating all around the room, and the decision of whether to even post these photos anywhere– here on this blog or on facebook… it was all nerve racking.

But I’m so glad I did it. I decided early on to make it a useful thing. To make it an acting exercise– more practice getting comfortable in front of a camera and working with technical aspects like light and frame. To make it a character exercise, to just be someone who is confident and sultry and leaning into those uncomfortable poses. To be the women in those old pictures who stared down the cameras, holding forever while the photographer got it just right.

I also decided to make peace for the day with my parts I know are not perfect (all of them), and the parts that I am always hyper-sensitive about. Rachel’s philosophy of boudoir photos–and a large theme of this workshop– is to create images that highlight, but don’t hide the features of the women in her pictures. I heard her say over and over to other models and to me, “You’re going to look amazing. You’re going to look like you.” And that was really affecting to hear from someone I just met.

And frankly, I was really surprised by these photos. I had no idea how long my legs and neck could look (5’2″doesn’t go very far in the leg department). Apparently I must tilt my head in all my photos, because I had no idea that’s what my face looks like head-on.

I honestly had no idea I could look like this particular incarnation, that I could send out this kind of vibe. That I do look like this… with a little help from great lighting and a fabulous make-up artist, but still… it’s a realization that gives me a lot to think about, in terms of how I present myself, and what kinds of acting parts “make sense.” It’s great to feel sexy, sure, but more importantly… it makes me feel versatile. It makes me feel brave.

Lastly, here’s my favorite one.


French Postcard, by Rachel Stephens Photography

Rachel pulled out all the stops, and did some awesome editing magic that mimics the look of the old tin-type processing used in the early 1900s. Check out the faint imprint of writing, and the stamp that would be used on the reverse side!

I love it. It looks amazing, and it looks like me.

Rachel Stephens Photography
Full creativeLIVE workshop
Rachel’s extra vintage postcard effects tutorial

Mermaid Heart

I’ve noted it here before. In the late winter, in between seasons, just-before Spring… I get restless. I become not dissatisfied, but ambitious for things I can’t see yet. I get to reaching for new or different or refocused projects or practices or just states of being who I am trying to be. March is the main culprit. February is increasingly to blame.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing, or a warning, or any negative indicator of anything not perfect in my life…. the restless just is. It’s a push. It’s a call.

I found out years ago that the husband gets it, which is a relief and a deep comforting assurance of being known. And I am learning more and more each year how blessed I am to have friends who note this yearly shift, take it in stride, and encourage me to lean in, to let the restless lead me on new adventures, small or grand, within and outside myself.

From my beautiful friend family this year, I got this art print as a gift. There is possibility for enormous change right now… the specific one in question did not occur, but the world is still wide open for me over the next few months. Anyhow, they found this, and thought of me, and gave it to me, and I burst into tears to be so well seen by people I love. And now I have it in my home as a reminder of possibility and the blessing in my current surroundings.

Open large picture

From The Story People.

Bright Side (or “Goodbye, Lali?!?”)

Finding the bright side of a car wreck. (I’m ok.)

I was in a car wreck today and likely totaled Lali, my beautiful little blue hatchback. I’m ok. We won’t dwell on whose fault it was, because as the cop said, in that straightforward cop way as he eyed my crunched hood melded into the other car’s rear bumper, “It’s pretty obvious what happened.”

laliwreck1Earlier today, I was having a rather prophetic chat with my work buddy (at least as far as this post is concerned). I’ve been having a high-stress couple of days, for good and bad reasons, personal and professional, and we were talking about taking stock of the good things about the various stressors. “Just try to argue with a smile on your face. It can’t be done.” Muscle memory and it’s stubbornly positive effects on mood, and all that. Fake it till you make it philosophy, y’know?

Anyhow. Then I wrecked my car. So here, I am, forcing the smile while I tally up the good things about possibly totaling my car. Most of them are sincere. Some of them are a stretch. But I am grateful. I am. I am.

Things for which to be Grateful After Wrecking your Car

The air bag didn’t leave any bruises on my nose or chest after it deployed, just immediate shortness of breath, some lasting sore spots, and a little redness. When the airbag deployed, it only broke one of the strands of my double-strand vintage bead necklace passed on from my mom (a gift from her high school graduation), and a large number of the beads turned up in my bra later. The air bag deployed.

laliwreck3My feet are not even externally bruised and from where the front of my car crunched in on them as I slammed on my brakes 3 seconds too late. They are only a little sore now, several hours later.

I didn’t inhale too much smoke, and the splattered, rivulets of red stuff on the pavement was only radiator fluid.

I hit a beautiful 2 yr old Porsche, which then hit a brand new Audi. Go big or go home. The woman in the Porsche, who was already wearing a full-leg metal brace on her left leg, aaaagh– was not not further injured. There were no passengers and no one was hurt.

I did not have my daughter in the car. LittleBird was with her daycare provider who loves her and was happy to keep her till we got there.

Due to a last-minute scheduling change, the husband was in Seattle and got to me in under 30 minutes.

Everyone else got to drive away from the scene and I got a tow truck driver with very nice roadside manner, who was both really good with a crow bar and immediately, sympathetically snide for the driver of a lowly, admittedly disty, commuter hatchback smacking into a Porsche and an Audi.

If you have to wreck your car, directly across the street from your place of work is a good place. You can call the aforementioned work buddy to come talk you out of the trees while you’re crying all over everything and waiting for the husband. A couple of your other co-workers will see it out the windows, directly facing the accident spot, likely saving you the trouble of telling everyone why you’re in late and sore the next day.

Today was one of the rare days I put my computer bag in the cargo back of the car, rather than the front floor seat, which got crunched in. The infernal machine starts and everything. The can of soda in my purse that WAS on the floor in the front seat just got really banged up and didn’t explode, so yay, ginger ale.

The insurance claims woman and the rental car guy both had amazingly comforting voices.

If I had to total a car, at least it was the one we just paid off a few months back. (sob)

The clasps on that old car seat were really tricky and probably just needed to be replaced wholesale. Plus, I needed to completely clean out my car anyhow, and now I don’t have to take it in to get the squeaky brake fixed or the 100,000 mile service.

The hot water didn’t run out in the shower, and I only have a few sore and shallow indents from the seat-belt across my stomach.

This happened to be the same night I got to babysit a very cuddly, therapeutically warm and sleepy puppy and Kanarie brought me the magic of vanishing scent Bengay, for tomorrow when I’ll need it but don’t want to smell like an old man.

The car did the job I bought it to do 7 years ago, to take me safely all over the place and handle me in case of accidents. She crumpled around me, rather than crumpling me, and cars–even my darling Lali-monster– are just things, and I will get over the adrenaline soreness and the loss, and we are all ok.

As she pulled away in the gritty grasp of the tow truck, Lali smiled at me. The lop-sided fighter’s grin. “Who takes care of you?” she seemed to cough through her smashed in grill. “I take care of you, babe.  You go on now. I got this.”


Room Enough

You can be happy for another’s joy while grieving your own losses.

I say this for myself. Because it bears repeating, and we all need to take time to state our beliefs. If for no other reason than reminding ourselves why–and that we do–believe them.

I believe you can be happy for another’s joy while grieving your own losses.

I also say it for many people I know, to remind them of their own bravery (What else do you call confronting the fear of what you don’t have with a square hit to the jaw? To place your empty want in the direct path of a fully acknowledged, undodged, invited blow, slam-packed full of abundance that is not yours? To tilt your chin away from that huge hole of nothing, to look past yourself to those you love who have wanted and waited, to dance for their wish fulfilled?).

Be happy. Grieve.

The heart is big enough for both extremes, and designed with articulated apartments to handle it all. We are given separate spaces, enough to hold others within us, enough to steady the tremble while we dance.

Why do you suppose chambers but to allow sanctioned, barest minimal intermingling of joy and grief, or anger and relief? There are door sills that stumble entry, shades shut tight, curtains between when needed. But it’s all there. Contained. One beating muscle that makes us.


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