Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome to me


I will likely broaden my blog's scope further than the realm of modeling that I have previously tried to limit myself to in past years. Modeling is a huge part of my life, as my job has come to dictate my entire lifestyle in a sense which is why in the past I have been able to write exclusively about the modeling aspects of my life, without wanting for any discussions. But a model is more than just a pretty face who bends this way and that way to make pretty pictures, and the thoughts that go on in our minds do in some way affect our collaborations, so a blog about more than a few quirky photo shoots can actually be relevant - this kind of blog can show a bit of insight into a person who just happens to be a model. During my South American journey I had a blog for my friends and family, and anyone who thought to ask me about where they could follow more closely with my travels was invited to read this blog, which started me writing about my daily adventures and turmoils and all of the thoughts which occurred to me as I threw myself head on into a world I knew nothing about.  I had begun the journey with blog entries on my ArtfulNomad blog, this one, and shortly after my trip commenced, I realized my South American trip did not have much of a connection with my modeling identity. I have had some close friends remark about the difference between my personal life and my modeling life, and I often joke about little me and the superhero version of me which is known by the world of photographers and models. But years into my journey as a model, I feel comfortable with reducing the separation between myself in general and myself as a model, because the gap has been closing a long time now and something changed while I was gone last year, and I feel I am comfortable in being me, both the non-model classical and nerdy me, and the model and sometimes rockstar version of me that is relatively well known around the world of nude photography. So hello, and welcome to me. Sometimes I may seem to rant about random topics, and other times will be sure to write in relation to my shoots, because that is one of the largest aspects of my life, but as always, everything is me.

I have heard some people refer to my tumblr as my blog, which perplexed me since I always associated blogs with words, but as times change more people are interested in the immediacy of photos and even I have found myself spending more time playing with photos than with writing, but I want to keep this to being my word blog, and my tumblr my photo blog. But of course, some photos here are a necessity as well, because photos are fun, or beautiful, or just great to make and have and show. :)


 Snapshot by Bob K
Glamorous photo by TLGee
 Being goofy (I almost always stick out my tongue in stupid photos)
And a bit of serious art with William McEwen (after the portrait with camera)

Health insurance makes me crazy

I am not one who easily becomes upset, but one word can quickly send me on a tizzy, and that word is "healthcare." This year I am being a grown up and paying for health insurance, and not just a major medical one, but a real one with accessible co-payments. My advice network of parents and some friends encouraged me to go for the "good" heathcare plan which came with a high monthly fee but a low deductible and the chance of truly taking advantage of my insurance benefits this year. But the years is a quarter of the way through, and my monthly payment has only brought rise to my blood pressure, even if the hoops I have been jumping through to use my insurance have been helping me increase my hurdle capabilities. I used to pay a low fee each month to ensure that I would not suddenly be in a bad scenario financially if I had a medical emergency, and shelled out a rather high full fee several times a year each time I needed to see a doctor. This year I have had nothing but frustration, paying my monthly fee without any sort of benefit. Being on the road all over the time makes using insurance rather difficult, having to go see a primary care doctor to get a referral for something you know the primary care doctor will not do anything about is absolutely annoying. I do not think I am being dramatic to say it is insane for a female to need to go to a primary care doctor before being able to make a gynecologist appointment. This kind of appointment is not a privilege but a right, and sometimes a right now sort of thing. And the average person does not make up random stories just to go to dermatologists, so having to go to the primary care doctor just to get a referral to go to a dermatologist is not only a waste of time and money, but having to wait an hour and a half as the absolute patient of the day, then finding out you have to cancel your appointment because a week was not enough time for the doctor to fax a letter with a referral number to the dermatologist of your choice (within network of course) is unacceptable.

I have noticed people who hear discussion about doctors automatically assume a person is "ill" or has some health problem, but having preventative care should be about being seen while still relatively healthy, to prevent serious problems, thus keeping health treatments to a minimum and costs down - for both the medical system and the patients. I had a basal cell removed from my skin when I was a young teenager, and have had a couple of other moles removed during my time in graduate school. I continue to keep an eye on some of my moles, and having just returned from the equatorial line where the strong is extremely strong, having a routine mole check seems wise and should be a simple thing to do. But patients who have to go through so many hurtles will eventually give up and decide not to do non-pressing things, and years down the line maybe some mole will become a cancerous problem that could have been easily avoided. I am not one to preoccupy about health, but do think prudence is....shall I say...prudent.

I am all for healthcare being available to all people, but as someone who works hard to earn her income, watching my monthly insurance bill come and go without the basic treatment I seek brings me nothing but frustration, especially knowing I could take that same fee and go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and still have money for a major medical insurance.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Comic Strip

Today I feel as though I am in a fog. The day is one of those where I could have spent the day being productive, but was never awake and pulled together enough to get anything done. I had one, then two cups of coffee, and stayed asleep with my eyes open and legs moving. That third coffee finally did the trick. Or maybe the nap was what worked wonders. Or the canned chicken with frozen peas. I have a box full of clean laundry, a happy grandmother (because I called her), and one bill paid. My to-do list is largely untouched.

I will not go into a healthcare rant because that leaves me angry, and I am not an angry person, but I did call my primary care doctor yet again and still have no response. Apparently I need a referral in order to actually use my health insurance, which is pretty much impossible seeing as I am never in Houston, and my doctor never wants to call me back. Hopefully one day they will actually pick up the phone and I can actually keep the appointment I scheduled. If paying for an expensive plan, I would like to at least go do a couple of important check ups....

A photographer friend of mine did a day long shoot with me and one of his friends a while back. Some behind the scenes photos, plus his captioning, makes for a pretty funny comic strip. If I am not doing the networking I need to be doing right now, I can at least share some humor with the handful of people reading my blog. :)








Comic Written by Tom A.
Personalities: Keira Grant and Frank


Monday, March 17, 2014

Airports



I wait at the airport, on a connecting flight from Peoria, Illinois to Houston, final destination. A woman rushes to the woman behind the desk, she has just missed the final boarding of her plane, doors are closed, and her plane in sight.  There is nothing to be done  - I know this feeling, not having done exactly this, but remarkably close.  I tend to spend countless hours in transport with my job, with transportation time rivaling the time I actually spend working, and currently plane travel has allowed me to go the far distances, replacing my usual long stretches of road in car.  I had some plans I was counting on fall through, or keep getting pushed back farther and farther with no real manifestation in sight and yet a deadline, so while I usually would have piggybacked a weekend modeling trip with a good friend of mine with a few more shoots in the nearby metropolis just 3 hours away, I planned otherwise. My hopes are up I will get to see at least one person on my Chicago list, as there is a glimmer of a chance that they will need someone to forfeit their flight to allow for some standby member to ride. This would be magic alignment and allow me one night in Chicago, but I must wait to find out.



Airports do not bother me as much as I have a feeling they bother many others, they are a place where I am in a bubble of often not having internet on my computer and thus not having to do massive amounts of emailing, because iphones work well, but lack the efficiency that a computer offers for this sort of thing. Also, there truly is nothing to do, so I can sit and think and chill out. I am that girl that sometimes sits and stretches in the corner. Or nibbles on whatever overpriced food she purchased then washes it down with drinking fountain water. Or tries to edit or organize nude photos without others seeing her screen. The only thing that is necessary is to keep an eye on the time and get on my flight. I have always done this successfully except for once.


Let me tell you the sad tale of the weekend I was working from 8 am to noon in Austin, then again from 1:30 to 5:30, then finally in my car on the way back to Houston by 6 pm. I arrived a bit after 9 pm, and packed frantically, simultaneously hyped on caffeine and exhausted from my day and drive, knowing I needed to pack adequate clothing for myself and shoots for the next two months, including a myriad of temperature zones and modeling styles. A photographer showed up with a model release to sign, and I did my best to be polite while being unable to pay much attention, then had a beer to say goodbye to my roommate and mellow me out and by between midnight and 1 am I was asleep.  My 4 am alarm clock came early, as did my 6 am flight, which got me into Denver in time to pick up a sandwich, continually check my iphone which was stuck in a specific time zone, be paranoid about my flight and the time, and miss my flight. I watched the area I was in go from crowded to empty before a bewildered me realized my supposed boarding time was indeed the actual flight time. Fortunately I was able to get on standby with $100 change fee and after a less than preferable 4 hour wait that had me fearful that I would miss the only night my whole family would be together, the celebration of my sister’s birthday and the first time I would see my family in a full year.  The idea of being stuck in the airport was not actually a stress, but the stupidity of it all seriously put my intelligence in question.

The upcoming 10 days on my schedule contain practically nothing in terms of set appointment times, but my to-do list stretches far. I know I will enjoy the small sense of being home, marked by not needing to set an alarm or put on makeup on a daily basis, as the bank, tax lady or other people I need to see are not concerned if I have eyes that photograph stronger or not. Most of the things I need to do actually involve the internet or phone, so theoretically I could do these things anywhere, but sitting on a specific friend’s couch and doodling with pens while hanging out can only happen when at each specific friend’s house, and there are a few I am looking forward to seeing (as is the case anywhere I go). If I am not shooting, I am not actually earning any income, so seeing a sparse week is both mentally relaxing and taxing at the same time, but that is a pretty normal experience with freelance work.  I recently planned a quick trip to NYC and Boston because of a hole in my schedule, so I have more than enough trips to keep me occupied on the internet networking and scheduling side of things. 

Last night I bought a couple more flights, which locked in a few more aspects of my schedule, so it is time to get to the email aspect of my job (a huge component).


.....

And hello Houston - my hopes of staying in Chicago for the night did not work out, but I am back in Houston, reunited with my "home" and my grown-up to-do list.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back to the Flow

The girl might have changed, but those changes are imperceptible to those passing by, not hardly a word spoken. Those who see deeper, might note a new glimmer within her eye. Life has resumed to the one I had lived before my journey in South America, and as two months have now ran by, I hold my memories and perhaps a not yet understood twist in some of my attitudes, as I make zig zags around the United States, reverted back to the quirky nude muse I had been before.

The initial adjustment was difficult but while I may occasionally think drinking coffee like a soup with a spoon makes sense (a habit I picked up in Peru - no, they do not all do this at all, but one family did), still have a taste for potatoes (I never liked them until they were a necessary part of my diet in Bolivia), and like to listen to musically simple and annoying reggaeton on occasion (don't worry, I will not subject you to this), Keira Grant is back. 

I recently spent two amazing weeks in my favorite city to work in, NYC, going from one shoot to another and getting to catch up with friends I had not seen in far too long. This city is always excellent to work in because I know so many people, there are so many things to do, there is coffee everywhere and I do not have to drive a car. While gone last year, I did not miss driving a car at all. And while I have always had a preference for public transportation, last year solidified the fact that I need to live somewhere with at least decent public transportation. I was actually nervous about getting back to driving when I first returned to Texas, which might be a bit silly, and I quickly got over that as soon as I started driving to shoots. I had a quick motorcycle lesson in Peru, but my young, handsome instructor definitely was better to look at while he walked around the home I stayed in than he was at teaching. Also, a friend tried to convince me to drive his car in Bolivia, as I was the only licensed driver, but the drivers there are disorderly and if even taxi drivers run red lights, I was under no circumstances going to take the wheel down there. There are currently flurries of snow in Baltimore and in a couple of days I will be driving to Philadelphia, so I have my fingers crossed that snow will be at a minimum so my shoots are not cancelled as tends to happen, and driving is still safe, as this girl has never driven during snowy conditions. When I was in NYC, some of my shoots were cancelled due to the big storms that happened while I was out there, but those I could reach via the subway and train system were not interrupted.


On my trip, I had many friends who had never left their country, and in some regions met numerous people who had never traveled more than a handful of hours from where they were born, and yet a couple hour drive is a fairly common part of my life job. I had to remind myself of this, as I laughed at my own wonder of seeing the middle of Pennsylvania and only barely being able to get down the long unplowed driveway to my friend's home as we worked our way through in his 4x4 jeep. I had never seen such snow before, which seems silly, even if I have seen more of the world than many people. I have absolutely learned that I do not need to live anywhere with so much snow, as snow is gorgeous to look at from within the safety of a heated house, but to trudge through is not my idea of fun.




I am currently the Model-In-Residence (MIR) at my friend Carly's brand new studio the Atomic Canary. After a few weeks of running around in NYC, then a handful of snowy days in the middle of Pennsylvania, an oversized helping of car rental drama in DC, I have been enjoying working in this studio as I have primarily had my shoots all in her studio, allowing me to focus on my artistic creative collaborations without the added complication of driving in DC and Baltimore regional traffic. As a model as well, and far too familiar with disorganized and dirty studios, this studio is kept incredibly clean and full of great lighting equipment and props to use. There is the option for great natural light, or any of the lights here can be used, and your fee can include lighting assistance as well. I will be back for another MIR at this studio this summer and hope to be able to spend a good amount of time shooting at this studio then as well.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Model-In-Residence at the Atomic Canary in Baltimore February 21 - 26

A friend of mine is running a new Natural light studio in Baltimore, Maryland and I am one of their first  models for the Model-In-Residence program. Sometimes finding a shoot location can be tricky, and finding a good one even more difficult, but this studio offers many types of walls to shoot on, window light and a huge selection of lights to use. The usual rental fee is a bit higher, but during February 21 - 26 while I am their MIR, the place can be booked for use for a session with yours truly for only $20/hr. My modeling fees still apply, but my not having to drive around to every shoot will transform me from a happy model to an even happier one, and we will have a fabulous location to shoot in.

I did an interview for them if you want to check that out, you can at this link. Or can go to their website, AtomicCanary.com , and see the full site. I will also be doing a workshop on Abstract Nudes on Saturday, February 22 from 3 - 6 pm (learn more here).


Photographed by Carly Erin Oneil

Photographed by Dan Richards

Photographed by Dare Images

Photographed by Dare Images

2014

The only food I missed while gone those 10 months was thai food and more particularly, red curry is what came to mind - I have now had curry about 6 times, so I must absolutely be back in the states. Who ever thought that red curry consumption would be the mark of my return, but sometimes things defy reason.

I am back in the USA and looking ahead to a high energy year of modeling this 2014. I had a difficult time figuring out when to fly back to the states as I continually had changes in heart about staying or going, and where I would be flying from and how much was logical to spend on a plane to get back to our country, but in the end I decided before Christmas was most appropriate for my return. I had a feeling too much more time in the sun would lead to unacceptable tan lines, and that starting off the year of 2014 back in the US might be a good idea. I ended up not traveling and visiting the coast of Ecuador, which would have had me gradually moving north back to Quito for my plane, so the week before my flight I boarded a series of buses over two days, quickly getting north via 37 hours of bus over two days. A few days later, less than 6 hours on a plane would transport me from my South American adventure, back to the United States.

For the first few weeks, unbeknownst to me, I was speaking with a partial cadence of a spanish speaker, and forgetting words in English. I had to search my word-bank for the word for "company," when "empresa" was what came to mind, or instead of being able to say "after," the word "despu├ęs"is what came to mind. By now, I speak normally and only have an occasional need to slow down my speech, as interestingly my stories about South America are so tied to the spanish language that my mind clicks over to that upon the telling of them, but yet if I tell modeling stories from before or after my trip, I have absolutely no problem. I am pretty sure this means I learned the language adequately well, as much as I know I have much to improve.

This year I will try to write with some sort of frequency as I have realized that I do rather limited writing for someone who enjoys the process of putting thoughts into sentences.

Photographed by Kalim Photography
Houston, TX - January 2014