Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy, naked girl coming back to the states...but not yet!


In the wee hours of December 18 I will be back on a plane, headed for Texas, after 10 months frolicking  in the southern hemisphere of the Americas.
During the past months, my nude photography moments have been far to scarce, and clearly my photos generally far from professional. I have enjoyed my ultimate freedom, hours of conversation in Spanish, and the adventure, but probably do need to come back, and can honestly say I have missed art modeling.

TEXAS in January
EAST COAST tour in February/start of March
SAN FRANCISCO/Bay Area  in middle of March, end of April and start of May


I am smiling, hence not an art nude, right?

Art nude? But wait, I have a necklace...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Expositions


I may be a tromping around South America, cohorting with a large spectrum of people, some of which I am sure disapprove of my job, not understand what being an art model means, think I am striving to be in men´s magazines (absolutely not!), think my job is rather interesting, or not even comprehend how I have my job, so when I receive notice of shows with the fine art I have been a part of, I am extremely happy and reminded of how much I miss my most artistic collaborations.  I have yet to have sorted out when I will return to the US, but when I return, I will be anxious to rejoin my artistic community.


Photos by Peter Oglivie
Fall 2012

The Jungle

Greetings world! I probably seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth after passing my birthday, but even thought I think sharing a birth and death day would be perversely interesting, I have no desire for this to happen anytime soon and strongly believe this situation is far from likely. Today I am in Loja, Ecuador, and being inefficient with my time, but I am at least poking my head on over to let anyone who may be interested in knowing, that yes, I am alive and well.


I have finally visited the jungle, something I have thought about doing for a while now but had not yet done due to lack of opportunity mixed with fear of an excessive number of mosquitos. While in general, creepy-crawly insects, nor jungle animals, scare me, small, buzzing and blood-sucking and itchiness bringing mosquitos are not my friends. Amazingly, while I was in the lodge on my tour, I did not receive a single mosquito bite, and the only reason I was covered was bites was because I arranged a special night to go camping in my tent in the middle of the jungle. While in the canoe tours I was in awe of the trees in the middle of one part of the river, and yearned to take photos in these trees. A bit of charm, the luck that my guide was about to go on vacation after our tour was over, a fair sum of money, and likely the fact that I would be naked, and I was soon signed up on my own camping trip with one guide and a girl that had been volunteering at the lodge. One of my stipulations for this extra night was that I wanted to take a photo in one of the amazing trees, which I discovered is illegal after I already go the idea in my head, and that my photo had to be with me nude. While the photos the guide took with my iphone leave much to be desired in terms of technical value, at least I fulfilled my desire to pose for a brief moment on these amazing trees. In these photos, the tree appears large and beautiful, but the remarkableness is not seen. These trees remind me of something out of Dr. Seuss, as they have an abundance of other plants growing out of them, and the plants are truly fantastic. I would love to return with a photographer or two someday, and set up an independent tour to make a real session of photos here. Aside from my quick amateur photo session in the jungle, I went on hikes, saw birds and monkeys, saw a huge anaconda, got lost walking in the jungle without my shoes (at least I had wool socks) late at night in the jungle, with a flashlight which was rapidly running out of battery power, woke up to a view of a termite covered tent (fortunately I was safely protected inside), went skinnydipping in the river and rowed the canoe nude for a short moment, saw pink dolphins and spoke a lot of English.


Photos from Cuyabeno, Ecuador

Friday, June 14, 2013

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me. Last year I was in Paris, eating croissants, killing imaginary space invaders with 80s makeup and a crew of rapidly speaking French artists in my hotel room, and later overindulging on champagne at a show with talented dancers who happened to be bordering on naked. This year I have commenced the day with the ringing of a gas truck and the tardy departure from bed which resulted in being unable to reach the street with the canister in time. My cooking will be put on hold until tomorrow's clanging arrival of a gas truck, and the microwave will be how I heat my teas and coffees. I showered, ate a delicious eggplant and rice bowl I had prepared the night before and headed to a cafe where I currently sit with intentions to write and not just play online. I am sipping an overpriced coffee for Bolivian standards, but thinking about another as heck, today is my birthday. What else will be in store for me this afternoon and evening, that is still an unknown.

I have been markedly vacant from my blog here as I decided my adventure in South America is not exactly modeling related and perhaps not relative for this blog, even if I do end up finding some modeling opportunities every once in a while.

As an art model, I have been traveling almost continually the past 4 years, and until my stay in Bolivia, the longest I spent in one city "living" without getting up and traveling again was 5 weeks. I have been in La Paz "living" in the home of an artist these past 7 weeks, and although this stay was not planned, I know I needed to take a few moments away from traveling and while I have so many friends in the US and welcome homes, I needed to remove myself from the modeling world of the US to do this. When back at home I always felt the pull to visit more people and create more art, but this journey in South America is not about that, hence I was able to allow myself to learn how to stand still for a moment. As a model who needs to travel to earn her income, I have become accustomed to continually thinking about my next city and next gigs. I go through times when all time away from shoots, I am thinking about my next shoots. This great motivation and determination is a positive when working, as it means I am productive and busy, but sometimes I think stepping aside and slowing down the brain's work ethic is necessary. Of course, this past 7 weeks I have been doing several shoots a week, with camping trips to gorgeous locations where I can freely find shooting locations, and as I have been accompanied by an artist friend, I have not been without modeling.

My plans on this journey always change, but right now the itch to get back to traveling has returned. 7 weeks in one place, even if I was camping about a third of that time, is an absurdly huge amount of time in one place for me. Monday I will head to Peru.

Right now I am experiencing winter in La Paz, with freezing temperatures and atypical rains. Please enjoy the return of the warm weather in the northern hemisphere for me. When indoors, wearing a down jacket and still cold, I sometimes longingly think of playing on trees and rocks in the nude in the forests and deserts of the US, but that will have to wait.

A few photos from about two years ago, when I was in Oregon. Photographed by John W.





November 2014 - workshop in La Paz???!

Time to post a few photos from my time in La Paz and the surrounding area. Finding locations without people around and without having to worry about the legality of nude photography is readily achieved here. And the places you can encounter within a two hour radius of La Paz, Bolivia are astoundingly diverse and offer amazing scenes for photos. I would love to return here in a year or so (I will have to wait until I can get a new visa and align this with proper weather conditions) with a small group of photographers for an incredible workshop.

Photographed by Sergio Torres











La Paz, Bolivia

May 10

Bug bitten and sunburned, I have been in the company of a painter/photographer, and all around artist, this past week. Although my frequency of modeling is nowhere as hectic as I was accustomed to in the US, I feel as though once again I have emerged as my model self.

I have been based in La Paz, Bolivia this past week and will be here for about another week, as every couple of days my schedule has included day trips and several day adventures to beautiful places for photography sessions. The first day of my arrival in La Paz, I had my first figure modeling session in months, posing for five to fifteen minutes for each pose as the artist, Sergio, sketched in charcoal. This led way to an impromptu photo session with the fading window light and later using the lights below the glass floor of his painting studio. The next day we would head to the Valley of the Animas (souls) so having a short shoot in the warmth of the house was a good introduction to our working styles.

The variety of the landscape and the vastness of beauty that Bolivia offers is incredible. When I first arrived I imagined La Paz to be a stopping point to visit the city, but touring with a local artist, I am now well aware of the abundance that is around the city. Setting out with backpacks loaded with enough blankets to survive the cold, gas to create a fire to make hot chocolate, a tent, a camera, and a little makeup, Sergio and I headed out of the city in a local bus and embarked on an hour long walk uphill to the Valley of the Animas. We pitched the tent, made hot chocolate and watched as a few cows came to join us to camp, and called it an early night. At 4:30 am we rose to prepare to shoot and by 6 am I was modeling at dawn, lit with a campfire and a gradually rising sun. By 7 we were hiking uphill and creating photos in the gorgeous landscape. The weather was chilly, but with the environment to play with, I was super happy. We returned to warm up with more chocolate and packed up to trek down and return to the city.

My days have become a bit of a blur, but there have been days with heading to the markets for lunch, shopping in El Alto (the city north of La Paz that is known for its huge market) for a new tent to survive the rain that I will likely be facing in the upcoming months, wandering around exploring the city, drinking tea made with flour of coca, and reading my new book (in Spanish of course).

One evening Sergio invited his model friend to come by and we had an impromptu shoot with two models. I always enjoy the energy working with models who want to be modeling, and my shoot with Marissa was absolutely enjoyable. We began by working with projections of images on our skin and moved to his dance studio to make use of the wooden floor and contrasting light at my request. After this session, we went to a Milonga where I was probably bright red with shame at my fumbling attempts to tango having only had one lesson beforehand, but now I want to learn more.

One of the days we went hiking up a mountain at sunset and although the plan was not photos, as often is with Photographer, model, beautiful locations, good light and no one around, I found myself stripping free of my clothes to model. The session was short as we had just caught the sunset and had to return while some light remained to illuminate the path.

This past week we headed to Coroico for a dose of the Yungas and another environment for photography. Just two and a half hours by bus from the city, the environment turns from snowy mountains to jungle. This is where I was attacked by Mosquitos even with my bug repellant. A friend of mine from this journey was still in Coroico when I arrived an the evenings were spent with a humble fire and good company. During the full day there, we took a shared taxi to a waterfall about 6k away from town, and while the waterfall was pretty, it did not lend itself well to photography, so we followed a small path away from the waterfall, and that was where inspiring plants and locations were found. With the heat of the weather, the water in the stream felt good, but I was horrified at how many bites I had by then. The day was ending and we took advantage of the perfect light before walking back to town in hopes to find something to eat.

These past two days I have been back in La Paz and the next location will be an arduous hike on Sunday, so I have been doing a bit of reading and exploring, and of course, checking in with the world. Yesterday we did a bit more shooting in the house as the light was too beautiful to waste, and I needed a break from reading and my clothes.




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I am still alive

Hi everyone. No, I haven't disappeared. Nor have I fallen off a cliff or been abducted. The main thing that has changed is my clothing has been on a lot more than usual, and I have been wearing my glasses and free of makeup these past weeks (or maybe months by now). And I have been speaking in Spanish rather than English.

In addition to my modeling hiatus, I have taken to journaling elsewhere as my journey has been much removed from my model life. This separation is more an effect of the fact that I have encountered few photographers here, because believe me, I have been hankering to do photos in some of the outrageously beautiful places I have driven, hiked and biked by.

In Samaipata, a pueblo a few hours from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, I was studying quietly in a corner and bumped into a group of photographers. Turns out that this group of people discussing their gear excitedly and drinking beers was in town for a workshop and were mainly from Europe. They were there to work on people photography primarily as they all worked with press. A two minute conversation which stretched on for half an hour led to us setting up a photosession the next day. The natural environment where we were was gorgeous, but we were restricted with a one hour time limit (because of their strict schedule) and ended up shooting in the yard of a hostel/restaurant. About 7 or 8 photographers each took turns directing as they had their first experience with a nude model. The energy was good, even if a bit hectic. The results will not show off the typical Bolivian environment like we had originally hoped, but everyone learned a little bit from this spontaneous experience.

I have been invited to model in Cuba and Miami with two of the photographers and might finally make my way to Florida in 2014 as it is about time. As for Cuba - that, too, is tempting. But for now I shall continue my South American journey.

Photos by Christobal H
Samaipata, Bolivia - April 2013



Monday, March 25, 2013

Salar de Uyuni

The vast majority of my trip will involve lengthy bus rides of 4 hours at a minimum and with 8 to 12 hours not uncommon. A 6 hour bus ride brought us from Potosi to Uyuni - a small town which has become the tourist hub for tours to the Salar de Uyuni. After securing a room for three in a cheap hostel, we commenced to inquire around at what appeared to be the most economical tour agencies knowing the range in prices for basically the same tour was vast. A food intermission was in order and presented with tourist priced food and street food of hamburgers, salchipappas (sausages on French fries, I ended up with an egg sandwich (a hamburger minus the hamburger) and an empanada. Having decided upon our tour, we returned to our room to get the rest of the money and went to secure our spots with the trip.

The next morning we were departing at 11 am, giving us more than enough time to
eat street food of a fried bread (bunuelo) and cafe con leche, as well as pick up some snacks for the route (of which are some incredibly cheap cookies that I am just now finishing several weeks later)

The tour group consisted of 6 people in a 4 wheel drive, led by a disgruntled guide who is in need of a change of jobs (he does the 3 day tour two times a week and his displeasure shows). Our group consisted of people from Spain, France, Germany, Ecuador, Argentina and the US. Some of us knew English and our levels of Spanish all varied, thus our conversation was 98% in Spanish.

The first stop was at an old train yard not far from Uyuni center. There was an abundance of rusty, old trains and I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to do a photo session at the site.

Then we toured to a tourist spot with clothing and gifts made of salt to buy. (Or to not buy in my case).

And onwards we wet through dry dirt, until we got to the first sight of the Salar and we were presented with the view of an abundance of white ground. There were heaps of salt in some regions and primarily dry salt everywhere. We drove over this vastness of white and reached a salt hotel (a hotel made of salt) surrounded by nothing but white ground, and tourist groups. This is where we stopped to walk around as a lunch of quinoa, pork, egg frittatas, vegetables and potatoes was prepared. People jumped and made strange poses for photos all over the place, and Daniel, Vale and I strayed away and decided a couple of nude photos were absolutely necessary, so in a flash we tore off our clothing and took a few photos before returning to the group.

The theme of the trip truly was driving,but the view as we drove from this stopping ground to an island where we would stay for the night was absolutely stunningly white and beautiful. We went near the end of rain season which meant there was too much water to get to one of the spots, but could at least traverse to this island for the night. Most of the tour groups continued back to Uyuni and were taking a different route, but we had requested a route which didn't include that return, thus at this point our route was away from other vehicles. At one point the driver stopped so we could step outside for photos as the salt was a wet lake of about knee deep height with nothing but salt and sky in one direction and salt and mountains in the other. There was an area with hardened and dry salt that initially we stood on. The driver decided to drive to the hotel to prepare and told us he would return in an hour and a half. So there we were in the middle of this Salar, four of us with our shoes besides us and two without. And we had an over abundance of time and beauty at our disposal. Four of us decided to take advantage of this situation, peeled off our clothes and we experimented with a session of photos with 2 guys and 2 girls. The two who were more modest documented this all. I am not too certain what we would have done had me not been liberal enough to do these photos, but it was absolutely entertaining and I know some are rather visually pleasing. I did not have the opportunity to get photos on my own, so until I get back these photos, there is no proof. After some time, we started to walk towards the island and with chaffed and red feet and legs, we were finally picked up by the driver.

The hotel we were staying at was a salt hotel with salt on the floors and walls,z after a quick tea, a few of us trekked up the mountain behind the hotel, marveling at the cacti, rocks, fading sun, and of course the vastness of salt reflecting the sunset. Once back on ground and on the path, we encountered a woman who had been out searching for a specific cactus fruit and she shared a taste of a rich cactus fruit black in color and with sweet morsels of seeds that I had never tasted before. Dinner was vegetable soup and fried chicken and fries, much like many of the Bolivian meals. After dinner we shared singani and sprite (singani is a traditional spirit of Bolivia, made from grapes and strong and sweet) and gazed at stars.

On the morning of Day 2 we woke at about 5 am to watch the sunrise before breakfast of bread, coffee and tea, and heading out. That day consisted of several hours of driving, then a pause of 15 or so minutes to view a specific sight. We saw flamingos, lakes, rock formations, a rock in the form of a tree and a vastness of diet and mountains. Near the end of the day we reached an area where we had to pay park admission for much of what we had seen, and there we saw a huge, red lake which got its color from phytoplankton or something of that sort (I truly would remember details better if I wrote more up to date, but I don't...).

The hotel for that night was sparse without running water or electricity aside from a lamp in each room, thin blankets and cold during the night. We had arrived at 5 pm and had hours at our disposals so we played cards until time for dinner and to pull out our overpriced wine we had brought. With our pasta dinner we were also given a bottle of wine and all were in good spirits.

The next day we were due to leave around 4 am to see geysers and drive to a natural hot springs for breakfast and a short soak in warm water. By the previous day I had decided to take the opportunity to visit San Pedro de Atacama in Chile since Daniel was headed there and I could easily cross the border to see this area, then return back to Bolivia to head north, so after our time in the hot springs, I transferred my belongings to another car and by 9 am was on my way to the Bolivian and Chile border.

In my mind this was more of a two day trip, rather than a three day tour, seeing as I was part of the tour for 48 hours, but semantics will be semantics. The area is absolutely spectacular, and having such a good group to travel with and those few hours in the middle of the Salar without a car in sight made the trip amazing.





















Sunday, March 24, 2013

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

A short drive from the hot springs and we arrived at the border of Chile and Bolivia. I had to show a piece of paper from my original entry to Bolivia and my departure date was stamped. Time in Bolivia is rarely exact and after waiting an hour for the car that would transport is, we were on our way. In Chile there are paved roads unlike in Bolivia, so the route was fast.

Once in San Pedro de Atacama we went trough the border control, and in a breeze were admitted in, our passports stamped and dropped off at the bus terminal. The touristy nature of the pueblo was immediately apparent and the difference between this Chilean community and Bolivia huge.

We exchanged a bit of money as I tried unsuccessfully to take money out of an ATM, later learning that the ATMs often are without money by weekend. The heat felt a little oppressive after the harsh cold of the night and morning before, and I was glad when a place to camp was located and I could put down my packs. This day proved to be super tranquil.

In San Pedro de Atacama, most of the destinations are attainable by biking and the bikes available to rent are in remarkable good condition. One day we went biking with a French guy named Gwendel, heading to see nearby ruins and a mirador (an overlook of an area) at Pukara de Quitor, before continuing to see the valley of the dead, which is sprawling rocks and dryness and involved uphill biking on a dirt path that tested my fitness abilities. After the valley was a tunnel and the descent began. Then we were biking on more rocks and sand for many kilometers and appeared to be biking in the middle of nowhere as we did not have this region on our map. Part of this time involved me walking my bike when the uphills and sand got to be too much for me. After a grueling time in the sand, we saw the distant outline of a car and confirmed that we had found the road. Once at the road, biking got easier but I was exhausted. Finally we spotted another mirador from the road and the view was majestic. And the direction back to town was a triumphant downhill from the mountain.

During the day we snacked on grapes, peaches, bananas, bread, crackers, granola and water, so a dinner of salad and meat and rice, accompanied by beer and live music was a welcome end to the day.

The next day we hitch hiked the 30 km to the nearby pueblo Tocanoa, and were picked up by a woman driving a bus who also picked up two young girls to transport them. When in town we took one of the girl's lead and headed to lunch at a place packed with locals had pork, rice, potatoes and bread (perhaps by now you are seeing a trend in the diet).
While walking to valle de jere a dog joined us and he followed us all the way to the entry way and into the place. Max became our dog for the day, following by our side, eating grapes and bread, playing in the stream and napping in the sun and shade with us. The day was delightfully relaxing with the hardest part a trek up a super steep sand dune. In the area we found fruit trees and tried a fruit that is somewhat like a dry pear, ate grapes from a vine and even had a fig each. Getting a ride back to San Pedro started to seem bleak, but a friendly Chilean man picked us up.

That night we bought groceries and I cooked chicken legs on the stovetop of the hostel and made a Greek salad (mini the cheese) for the three of us.

The next morning we rented bikes again and headed to Valle de la Luna (moon). The bike ride for the day would be 32 km round trip with part of the ride pavement to the valley and the majority within the amazing area. There was an area with salt flats which continually look like snow to me, and mountains of rock and sand and salt of course. There was a point where we had to leave our bikes and walked through caverns with one point absolutely devoid of light. When we got through the darkness, there was a part which truly felt like we were on the moon as the rocks were decorated with white salt and stretched out continually. Then we reached an area with steep walls of rock and I was convinced that the place became more and more beautiful with every step. After this portion we returned to a steep uphill bike ride and rock formations to view all around us. Near the end of the park there were some strange formations to be seen but we stopped briefly, preferring to head to a mine that required us to bike on a salty route. The mine was immense and the ground surrounded by quartz crystals. Sun was going to fade in an hour and and we headed to one more spot before returning to a grand mirador to watch the sunset. And wow, the view was gorgeous and the winds strong. Unprepared for a cold night and darkness, we turned around and biked back while there was still some light. The route home felt exhilarating with down downhills, beautiful sky and when there was finally darkness all that remained was 6 km of paved, flat road.

That night there was a party at the hostel and we joined in with the wine drinking after eating a mountain of spaghetti.

The hostel had a goat that behaved like a dog, and every day I watched him push open the windows to enter in the kitchen. The goat was adorable. During the party the hostel owner's friend got unruly and grabbed the goat (Herbacious is his name) by his horns and jerked him around. The police were called over to help with this and watching the police mainly try to talk reason into this drunk man reminded me just how different our cultures are. Our police would have had cuffs on the man in a hurry.







Saturday, March 23, 2013

Potosi - traveling with new friends

On my final day in Sucre, my Spanish teacher and friend Andrea was meeting up with two couch surfers who were in town for the night and invited me along since I was continually keen on meeting people. We met up and shortly went to dinner at a churrascuria which used to be more of a locals place but had heaps of tourists eating there. The food was delicious even if I was a bit hesitant to eat too much of my chicken which seemed pretty much undercooked. But more importantly, the company was great. Andrea was teaching a bunch that week and headed home, but Daniel, Vale and I headed to a bar to socialize and drink overly sweet drinks during happy hour. As sometimes happens with travelers who are on their own, the two of them met through Couchsurfing in Santa Cruz and were traveling to Sucre, Potosi and Uyuni together. As I am traveling on my own and was planning to depart Sucre the next day for Potosi and Uyuni as well, I joined up with Daniel from Ecuador and Vale from Argentina the next day at the bus terminal.

And to Potosi we headed. After about four hours in a crowded bus, we arrived and did the customary seeking out of hostels. Vale and I found a place for 20 bolivianos a person, and although the room was a bit dim, the communal bathroom suspect and of course there was no shower at all, for the price we were satisfied. The difference in budgetary restrictions between a person from Europe, Australia and the USA is sometimes interesting because for me $1 difference in a room is not too important, but for others it truly is. Then again, I will be traveling for a long time and need to be budget conscious whenever possible so I'm often keen on finding low priced food, transportation, activities and of course, rooms.

After securing the room, it was time to feed our bellies and Vale and I headed to a vegetarian place for a delicious bowl of quinoa soup.

The main two things in the city in terms of tourism are the casa de moneda, a museum about the "plata" or money in Bolivia, and the mines, which are still active. The city is rich with history as well and walking around this is evident and on the first night we went to view the entry way which separated the Spanish from the original inhabitants of the city.

Vale had previously been to Potosi and headed out on her own while Daniel and I trekked up the hill to the mines. Taking a tour was an option, but the price overly high. The route up to the mines was arduous because of the steepness, heat and worst of all, the lofty elevation of Potosi in general. I was fairly convinced I was not going to make it because of how little air I was pulling into my lungs and imagining making that trek to work in the mines added to my understanding of the mine experience. The miners we met in their chamber getting ready to enter were surprisingly friendly and when offered some money and coca in exchange for giving us a tour, we were given boots and helmets with lamps to enter the mine. And as we trekked in, the damp, dark, closed in feeling that is part of their daily workday was immediately apparent. We had to crouch down and walk at an extremely brisk pace to keep out of the way of the other teams who were busy working. The miners continually suck on coca during their shifts to help with the elevation and exhaustion and we took part as well, but I still found myself feeling lightheaded at one point as we sat and talked about the mining existence, with me primarily listening. When it was time to depart I was more than ready. As we left, at one point they shouted something and one team of miners had throw over their empty cart to make room for a full cart being pushed down the path at full speed. The fact that we were in the way and that working in the mines is arduous and dangerous was very clear as the empty cart was rather close to our feet and on running out we were hurried to make way for more activity. The miners earn a fairly good wage compared to the cost of living in Bolivia and I was surprised to learn one of the two miners who brought us in was a history teacher but chose to work in the mines for the time being because of the comparatively high wage. As working in mines is extremely dangerous and detrimental to health, in addition to being grueling work, this miner was going to quit within ten years maximum in order to maintain some health.

For the walk back to town after the mines, we took the long and easy route and paused to eat bread, super salty cheese (like all of the cheese in Bolivia), tomatoes and banana (food which is very much a staple during days out and about away from cities.

That early evening we went to the money museum and although there were a few things of interest there, like my previous experience with Bolivian museums, I found the place to be rather lacking in information. Additionally, the drastic price difference for admission for a Bolivian verses someone from farther away always rubs me the wrong way and our tickets were four times the price of the other tickets. The building itself impressed me far more than the content of the museum, and the tour guide who spoke in monotony and hurried the group through some of the rooms.

In a search to find Internet in the evening, the three of us found Potosi to be a ghost town by the early hour of 10 pm with hardly a place open in the city center, let alone a place which offered wifi. That night we decided that we would head to Uyuni the next day to visit the Salar.

Hitch hiking

Fast forward two weeks and here I am in Argentina. Returning to this country was not on my list for this journey, but neither was Chile and I was there until early morning hours yesterday.

Let me preface this with a fact - hitch hiking is not so uncommon in Chile and Argentina....

Two days ago a Couchsurfing friend from Ecuador and I commenced our attempt to "ir a dedo" or hitchhike from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile to Jujuy, Argentina. The trip of about 500 km involved the crossing of country borders which is not necessarily an easy feat. On Thursday Daniel and I tore down our tent and packed up our backpacks and departed from our hostel. Chilean money was exchanged to USD since the bank exchange rate and the black market exchange rate of USD to argentine pesos vastly differs ($5 to 1 rather than $8 to 1), a hefty meal of pork, salad and French fries was eaten, fruit and bread purchased for the journey and by 2 pm we found ourselves outside of the Aduana (customs building). Over the course of several hours, or rather 5 hours, we asked all the the few drivers if they were headed to Argentina and if they had room. There was little activity at that hour and although there were a few cars headed to Argentina, by 7 pm we knew we had to return the next morning and try again. Enough of the truck drivers claimed 4 am was when the trucks to Argentina departed, that we left to procure a camping spot and consume a bit of beer to calm our spirits. At 4 am we were greeted with nothing but darkness and cold. A one driver could transport one of us, but in general the drivers refused. All we needed was one "yes" and we could go, and a bit before 9 am we were putting our backpacks in a car that was part of many cars being transported in a truck to Paraguay, and climbing into another car . We had procured a ride.

For a portion of the ride the two of us were in a car on the truck bed, and at other times we joined in the cabin where the two guys from Paraguay primarily talked to Daniel as they spoke in a mix of Spanish and Guaranie and had strong accents so my understanding was rather limited.

At the border of Argentina and Chile was a whole new set of issues. There is a reciprocity fee for US citizens entering Argentina at all borders now. When I last went to Argentina the fee was for flying only and valid for ten years. I had already paid this fee upon entering and theoretically this should remain valid, but as the law change and my old passport expired, I had no proof. And the argentine authorities apparently have no reason to be organized enough to allow people like me to submit old passport information or flight information in order to find proof of payment. So I had to pay again, but had to pay again prior to entry and on a computer, and when I went to do so the Internet almost did not work. After a lengthy period of trials I was able to pay and knew I had no need to cry - I had already shed another $160, I could keep my tears.

At the border we were asked our mode of transportation and had to check in with the Paraguayan truck drivers since they had brought us. Watching the way the authorities acted was abhorrent - with a long line of people to check in, the authorities were siting around watching tv and taking pauses to watch even while checking in people. None of the drivers could go until the entire paperwork and truck check was complete for the entire group, so basically they had to wait around for 4 to 5 hours for a process that should have taken only an hour or so maximum.

After this ordeal was complete, we were on our way again, this time riding in the cabin. For a portion we returned to a car so we could nap, but near the end we returned to the cabin because authorities frown on people riding in cars being transported. At one point the guys purchased food for dinner and we shared bread, tomatoes and delicious pork sandwiches. The generosity of these people and their willingness to help us was absolutely amazing. There was talk of wine and hot cooked food, but when we were dropped off in Jujuy at the side of the road around 11 pm, the drivers planned on driving on many more hours.

In Argentine time, 11 pm on a Friday is absolutely not late, so we were able to find a payphone and later borrow a phone to call some local couch surfers. With luck, we had a room for the night and are still here and about to share some beers and cook dinner together after a relaxed day of exploring the city.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Learning Spanish Day by Day

Note: for some reason this did not publish when I tried to publish a month ago, so this entry is two weeks overdue. And yes, I still speak like a gringo. Blah

One month. That is exactly how long I have been in Bolivia now. Three of those weeks have all been in the same town, Sucre, where I have studiously embarked on my Spanish journey with lessons. Tomorrow will be my final lesson as I have much to practice and am well aware of what I need to do to keep developing my foundation.

What do I need to do?

Becoming more familiar with been conjugations is high on the list. This will involve hours upon hours of spoken and written practice to learn the rules of the irregularities (of which there so many). I currently speak like a gringo and although my "t" and "soft r" are slightly improved (at least for short words with the "soft r"), my "R" which requires rolling of the tongue is a disaster (and embarrassment). Pronunciation is something I work on as I speak to people, listen and read out loud. And through reading I can improve my vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure. I have also started writing a little, which will improve my vocabulary and overall understanding of the grammar, but will need to seek out someone to proofread my writing so I can learn what errors I am making (want to sign up for that job?).

And of course as I navigate through my travels and seek out opportunities to speak to people, I will develop my skills as well.

Enough of this writing in English - time to continue with reading Pahlo Coelho Aleph (in Spanish with a dictionary at hand of course).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Family life

One thing I truly love about the South American culture I have seen thus far is the importance of family here. Right now there are about ten young children eating fried chicken and french fries and soon to be enjoying cake as a birthday celebration. I am fairly certain the birthday girl is a niece to the family I am staying with, and this evening I have met grand parents, cousins, nephews and nieces before shirking off to my room feeling a bit awkward down by the children's party.

Various relatives live right around the corner from this family, and for lunch an aunt literally enters the home through a kitchen entrance. Lunch is the important meal here and in this family the 19 year old daughter, her mother, an older aunt, and young cousin, combined with the son if he is back in town from work, all join together to share a meal.

I love my family but have never truly felt a strong presence from my extended family. My immediate family always ate dinner together and now that us children have grown up we have become closer, but here it is more than just the basic family that is close. Clearly distance and number of individuals in a family influence how many people can be close and how often they can join together, so this is not a criticism of typical American families, but rather a recognition of the strength of family in South America.

....

I have just now returned to my room after rejoining the party after more people had come and the eating had morphed into social hour. The extended family where I am staying is full of some lovely people, even if one of the one year olds had recently discovered the joy of scraping legs with his tiny nails. If you saw my legs, you might believe I had been attacked by a cat.

Sucre wine drinking rambling a (perhaps not so different from coffee rambling)

In Sucre, happy hour at places is two for one and beverage happy hour is late in the evening, which means that if I want to sit down and have a beverage at 7:30 or 8 pm and study, my next drink at 9 pm is really two drinks. So by the time I go home tonight I will have either had three cups of wine, made a new acquaintance to give one to, or left one on my table. Tonight I was going to learn about Bolivian dancing but couldn't bear to drag myself back to the hostel to hear the presentation, and the timing was wrong as well, so straight to Cafe Joyride to study I went (okay, as is typical with me, I deliberate with "should I go or not?" And walked back and for adding in a stop to buy crackers before heading to the place where I currently am).

I almost always carry around a book in Spanish, but this time I left the two books I have on my bed as I had not planned to be out and about drinking wine and writing. Next time I will not neglect to throw a book in my bag.

I have been in Sucre over two weeks now and have decide to depart for Salar de Uyuni on Monday or at latest on Tuesday. I have been enjoying my lessons and feel I have been getting much from them, but the time to journey on has come. I do not quite feel right here and other than my lessons have no real reason to stay.

My host family is good, the lunches a hearty Bolivian cooking variety and the people friendly, but I do not quite feel I belong. A friend of mine back in the states asked me how I was feeling and if I felt less isolated. And other fried has inquired about my progress with Spanish and my quest towards fluency. No language can be learned immediately and I have only just commenced my journey. As for my sense of belonging, I can communicate and the community here is not super large, but even in a city of millions of people like NYC, some people can feel alone.

Where I am staying there is no Internet, but I kind of enjoy the break from my developed tendency to check my email first thing upon opening my eyes. I find it rather disappointing how much we all rely in our Technology world when in reality so few people actually send personalized emails to one another. I am accustomed to using Internet for networking for work, but since my flight home is not scheduled for October, there truly is no real need for me checking so often. Which is good, since I do anticipate some periods of days far away from Internet connection. I do feel myself wishing I had brought a tent, but I haven't actually had to turn down an opportunity due to the lack of tent, yet.but I do need to find myself in wilderness at some point in time - I am carrying around malaria pills for some reason I am sure.

I have now consumed another half a glass of wine - I won't be taking any bets on if I will drink all my wine or not. I do have to take a taxi back to where I am staying later tonight as this city is not without tourist theft and I have to walk all the way across town to get home tonight. Usually I prefer walking, but I also like keeping my possessions so I will heed the advice of the locals. With Spanish class at 8:30 am , I will not be up terribly late, that much I do know.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

First weeks in Sucre

Time for a news update before my Internet access becomes more limited. I am headed to a homestay here in Sucre, with the goal of reducing my English speaking for the next week or so while I continue my lessons. I have enjoyed the great vibe and general cleanliness of my hostel, as well as my weeks getting to know the co-operative of young women running the place, but many of the guests are far more fluent in English and we speak in English. I have nothing against my mother tongue, but do want to experiment with having the first and last words out of my mouth on a day be in Spanish. I am not doing much other than studying while in Sucre and know I will soon feel the pull of "onwards."

A group of 10-15 from the USA just arrived this morning, so I believe I have timed my departure well. If only I was not feeling so sick this morning, packing my bag of belongings would feel less arduous.

I am a little fearful my new place, which is a taxi ride away if at night, or a long walk during the day, will have me feeling isolated since I have now built certain desires into my Sucre experience. I may find myself happier if I journey forward and study again in a few months once I have a bit more speaking experience accumulated from my travels.

I have been battling a sore throat, sinus infection sort of thing and stomach problems for a week now. Some days I have felt almost normal, and have payed no heed to what I ate, but as of yesterday, I know I am far from better. I will not be eating today, but will get myself back on rehydration. Physically, I feel a mess. Apparently acclimating to the diet and sanitary levels of a third world country can be as difficult as some people believe.

My past couple of weeks were spent I the beautiful town of Sucre, Bolivia. Upon finding a hostel with a vibe I felt comfortable with, I started Spanish lessons with a girl my age (who has a free in English and is from Sucre) and since then lesson study has been the purpose of my being here. I studied Spanish in high school ten years ago, and practice again in Argentina two years ago, but am certain there are huge gaps in my understanding. As a native English speaker, we have one form of past tense, while here there are three and only now am I beginning to understand the proper time to use each. I have much left to review and am certain I will not stay in one place for that much longer, but some of my lessons seem incredibly valuable for setting up some basics. I am sure I can look up lessons in the Internet to continue teaching myself, or take lessons along my route, too.

I have done more than study while here, too, even if that was my focus. On my first day I ended up spending time with a Spanish guy I met on the bus and the two of us went to a park centered around found dinosaur tracks. The slate of tracks was neat, but overall we were amazed at how little information there was for such a well visited place. My first Sucre morning and following few I are breakfast in Mercado Central, having a roll and a cup of coffee and taking in the surroundings. One morning there I met an Argentine man who took a fancy to me and that day he showed me Recoleta, the Miradore, which is a place with a beautiful view of the city. I have since then learned that if I continued walking uphill, I would see the city's Christ. That is now on my to-do list. I met up with this man on several other occasions for lunch, as he was kind and we were communicating in Spanish, and by the end of one week I think he was overly smitten as he returned to Argentina.

On a few occasions I have gone out for drinks with couch surfers, or friends from the hostel. The local drink is singhani which is mixed with tea and called T con T. I'm not certain the youth prefers this drink, but not so unlike a hot toddy, I enjoy the mellow, warm taste of this beverage.

My weekends have been when I have removed my from from just being studious and last weekend I went out to dinner with my spanish teacher and her friends, had a drink at Cafe Berlin, a drink and danced at Cafe Florin and continued onwards to Mitos for late night dancing. On Sunday I went to a festival in Yamparra and was one of only a few tourists present, so that felt special until I felt incredibly sick. The festival was in memory of those who died in accidents before their time, and included the building of a huge form with food from their communities and part of a cow carcass, and dancing in community groups around this form. Their colorful traditional robe was festive to view. There were also lines of food booths set up and a judge trying all of the food (I looked in horror at the thought of trying so much food). Fruit was set up to sell, and I had learned that selling and donating something from each community was compulsory.

Yesterday's activity was less cultured but absolutely relaxing. A group of staff from the hostel and some of their roommates (who are travelers like me) went to Las Palmas, a swimming pool in a small town about thirty minutes outside of town by taxi. With shade covering and grass to lay on, I was rather contented. Two of the girls had been working incredibly hard at the hostel (as they are two of the founding members) and this was their first day off in a long time. I am glad they chose this place to relax for the day.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

La Paz

When I went to Argentina for a couple of months about two years ago, my first couple of days I was not only rather sick and overwhelmed, but the person I stayed with was less than welcoming to me. I am extremely familiar with Couchsurfing.org as a networking site to find great people to stay with on my journeys, but even well networked sites will have the occasional person with an unkind personality. My desire to prevent a repeat of my initial South American experience, I booked a homestay via AirBnB. That was how I came to stay with a family in La Paz, during my first three nights in Bolivia.

With my own room booked I knew I would have a place to mellow out as I got over the shock of the elevation on my body and the dose of culture shock as well. My room was dimly lit at night, but super cozy with a huge stack of blankets to keep me warm. Only after my first day did I realize the three young children in the family shared a room with their parents during my stay as the "guest room" I had rented was actually their room. My time in the home gave me a true Bolivian family experience with morning breakfasts consisting of bread and tea or coffee, and the main meal a hearty starch-heavy lunch. This family also ate bread and tea/hot cocoa for their evening meal, which seemed excessive in the bread department for me. Each day I took a few hours of Spanish lessons from my host who also had 20 years experience teaching Spanish, and spent a bit of time playing with the children and watching tv programs in English, in Spanish and dubbed in Spanish, all with and without subtitles. Carnival was still going on in my first few days and walking down the street without getting pelted with water balloons, water from water guns or shaving cream time foam was nearly impossible (entertaining my first hour but I quickly tired of foam in my ears as an innocent passerby). As carnival was going on and getting wet on the street nearly avoidable, I primarily walked in the opposite direction while in town and missed some of the museums, but do believe I will be back for a few days before heading to Lake Tititcaca.

One of my friends describes Bolivia as "the place where the people where funny hats," and to me this holds some truth. As a land highly influenced by Spain, some of the traditional wardrobe is thusly influenced. The season was summer in La Paz but with the elevation it still felt rather chilly, so their clothing (and mine) reflected that. What amazes me most about the manner of dress in Bolivia is how there is a portion of society dressing in a modern manner not so unlike people in the US, and a whole other portion of the people living in a more traditional manner and dressing in traditional clothes. How these two types of people can live side by side is what fascinates me. Traditional wear includes a basic, modest shirt, a skirt (often with pleats but not always) that gives the impression of slightly larger hips, hair in two braids and a colorful cloth which can be transformed into a bag for carrying anything from immense amounts of vegetables to babies.

As carnival was occurring, I was able to see traditional dance and feel the festive vibe of the city. As far as going out at night to drink and be debaucherous, I had none of that, choosing to stay indoors to chat with the family, rest (get climatized and used to the time change), study a little and fight with the disappointingly cold shower. Perhaps all the bread I was consuming was another factor in my exhaustion at such an early hour.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shrubbery

When I started modeling I grew out an "art model shrubbery," as the market I wanted to work in essentially required that I have a bit of pubic hair coving. Before I commenced modeling I spent some time without pubic hair, and some with, and rather flopped at random every few years because of one reason or another. (One reason being a platonic friend from my nude beach suggesting in passing as I showered and he brushed his teeth, that I should shave and me saying, "ok, hand me a razor," and him grabbing mine from my bag and passing it my way. Afterward he told me he preferred me with my hair, but I didn't much care either way.) I used to be entirely unaware of how different a girl looks with or without hair, as for me the most important features on a lady are not between her legs, but after years of modeling I am far more cognisant of such things. When I see a photo of a nude female model I find a bit of pubic hair can help pull attention away from her lady bits, which often is a plus, but for some erotic art may be a negative.

I started growing out my hair when I realized I would get more of the kind of work I wanted to do, and have a bit of privacy for my female bits in my photos. But also, because I am rather slender and have a sleek but less than curvy form, a bit of texture in the form of my shrubbery seems to break up my lines better so I don't appear to look like a stick. During my time modeling my shrubbery changes a little depending upon my whims and when I cut it, and on occasion in correlation to requests of some specific shooters but I absolutely always maintain some hair. My "shrubbery" is part of my "look," along with my thinness, slim musculature, and big, curly head of hair.
I have grown accustomed to this "look," and have little desire to make great changes in my form, save for maybe becoming a bit stronger and at times leaner (but I'm talking a kilo or two, not much and only after periods of too much chocolate consumption).

I had intended on making my South American journey a year earlier but as life happens, plans change. Before that trip I had talked, mainly in jest, about making a shaved tour, but for some reason felt a level of discomfort with this idea. I'm super comfortable with my body, but after seeing myself so many hours and years with a bit of shrubbery, the idea of photos without sounded less than ideal. Part of me thought that marketing this change could be difficult or confusing or that photographers could change their overall impression of me. All for only chopping off a little bush. I of course did not shave, nor did I go to South America last year, but this year I did.

The day before I departed for La Paz, I shaved off my cherished "shrubbery." I did not do this for any shoots but rather because I could and was curious how I would perceive myself after years of conditioning my concept of my image. Shaving was distressing - I required a strong drink to calm myself. And the view afterwards was a bit unnerving. I officially had taught myself one view of myself and this was quite a change, and not one I liked.

In shedding myself of my art model shrubbery I felt I had removed the Keira nude model from my identity. The next day I would jump on a plane and be far removed from my modeling world.

I immediately allowed my hair to grow back in, and I finally feel comfortable with the meager length of hair I have. I may still only spend 6 days nude a day as I shower and dress, but at least my body is back to Keira Grant standards.

Would I be willing to shave for some shoot in the future? Perhaps. This would depend upon the project and the price tag, as there is a wretched in-between stage where I would be unable to work and honestly, I prefer my image as I usually market myself.

/end "shrubbery" discussion unless you have any questions.

The art of arrival, or lack there of

Hola a todos!

I arrived safely in La Paz, Bolivia about two and a half weeks ago after a grueling two day ordeal with the airports. As you may remember, I slept in the front foyer of LAX for a few cold and restless hours before I was able to check in to my flight. Once past the gate my adventure had commenced. After an uneventful first leg of the journey, I arrived in Mexico City where I passed through fully Spanish speaking customs and had to check in and wait numerous hours before my flight to Lima. Once on that plane, I sat and waited with all the passengers and watched as minutes became longer and longer and the stuffiness and humidity o the cabin increased. After about an hour or so, the flight was fully cancelled and we all had to leave the plane. This is where a bit of panic for everyone set in. The flight was composed almost exclusively of Spanish speakers except for about 6 people, including myself. While not completely devoid of Spanish study, I had been without for two years and understanding hurried announcements was not within my capability. For the next series of hours I waited nearby in desperation that I could follow the crowds to wherever we were sent for morsels of information. The day crept on and eventually in a stroke of luck I figured out where the group was sent for dinner and information. Of course the stipend for the meal and the cost of the meal differed greatly and I had to spend a few of my treasured US bills on my meal, but at least fed and slightly more hopeful, or rather in the company of other disheartened people, I knew whatever information would come our way would be something I would be privy to as well. And lo and behold, we were being taxied to a hotel to spend the night (the time was now about 10:30 pm and my original flight from Mexico City about 4 pm). Once at the hotel I showered (oh the restorative effects of a hot shower!) and went to bed. We were due to be brought back to the airport early the next day to have tickets sorted.

The next morning was a whole other batch of mess, but after a slowly moving line with way too many people cutting to ask questions (I imagine the line would have slowly paced forward if all those pushy people had been made to wait) I had a ticket in hand moments before my flight and was boarding the plane soon after. And onward to Lima we went.

Once at Lima, I had about a 9 hour wait before my flight to La Paz. Fortunately we were able to wait in a lobby so I started my Spanish reading, consumed far too much starchy snacks and napped on the floor. By 1:50 am my flight to La Paz was ready to depart. And this leg went smoothly. At about 5:30 am I arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, hardly awake and exhausted. Clearing customs was not too difficult, except I learned they are super picky about the condition and series numbers of the bills they accept for their visas so one after another I had to pull out different bills after being told my $100 was the wrong series and my $20 bills with a slight tear unacceptable. Thank goodness I brought more than the bare essential.

Cleared through customs, and $135 lighter in my wallet, I was ready to taxii to my first destination. The taxi driver overcharged me by almost double and had to stop to ask for directions two times, but I did arrive to my place. And after trekking up a long flight of stairs, huffing a bit due to the elevation, I was invited inside, had a cup of tea and passed out on my bed.

This was two and a half weeks ago. I shall update you on more of my journey soon. As I watch the people in my Sucre, Bolivia hostel type and study on their minicomputers I find myself wishing I had brought mine, but alas, there was a day before all this technology (I'm sure I will lament about this numerous times).

Friday, February 8, 2013

LA and the airport


The time is 4 am and I am at LAX. I have been here at the terminal since just past one, having been dropped off and unfortunately unable to check in until 4:30 am. Most of my few hours were spent sprawled on a bench with earplugs blocking out the sound of the cleaning crew and my layers of clothing doing a marginal attempt at keeping my still body warm. Being stuck on the other side of the gate would have been preferable, but I am now feeling slightly rested, my stomach is full from the leftovers I packed from dinner, and a sweet voice is filling the air as another early arriver sings in the corner with her guitar. Since I arrived there have been cranky, weary travellers milling around, feeling highly diagruntled with their status in the in between, but my mood is different. While traveling can mean frustrations at times, those who are in limbo at the airport do not realize the fortune which lays upon many of them - the ability to travel.

I spent my final day in the US with my friend Rebecca Lawrence. Our afternoon and evening in Los Angeles began with a bit of panic about final preparations for my trip, but after that was out of the way we continued with a tour of LA. Venice was first with a visit to the shore for sunset, then an impromptu palm reading. I have long been keen on getting a palm reading for the entertainment value, and at the price point of this wan, I officially had my first palm reading experience. It was about as unmonumental as I expected and I am fairly certain she could not even see our palms in the dark of the room as she glanced down and made jusgements of us based upon our appearance and demeanor. Next was Santa Monica where we looked for parking for much too long and finally settled upon a garage and found Wasteland, which quite possibly is the most fantastic used clothing store I have seen in a while. Seeing as I am going out of the country, I primarily watched Rebecca as she tried on a huge armful of new wardrobe. Dinner time had come, so downtown was next on our tour. With parking accomplished, we settled on a cute restaurant with Brazilian food and wine. The meal was tasty but not as savory as expected. A bar, the Edison, gave us the full LA vibe experience with a live singer and band and two hot dancers. The music was good enough to keep us there watching and listening despite the mediocre drink which had an aftertaste of Flinstones kids vitamins. Watching the people mill around in their perfectly done hair and black dresses on the women and black suits on the men reminded me that I am a bit too casual to be a LA person. Our tour could not end there though - a quick drive through Hollywood capped off our evening before I was brought to the airport where I am now.

And look, I think check in time has just about come. See you on the other side of the gate.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shut the computer, please

Photographed by Dave Lewis
Seattle, WA - January 2013

Sometimes you just have to shut your computer. Tomorrow I depart to LA for one final day in the US. With my packing up and leaving San Francisco, my Nikon D80 which I rarely use, my computer which I always use and my pretty, little bits of lacy wardrobe which I sometimes use will all be left behind. I feel the pull to keep editing photos from this past month and post them online to share since I know a long while will pass before I have the opportunity to play with images again, but at this point I would be wise to just go to bed. Before I board that plane, I have a few more early morning errands to run, and I would like to be somewhat rested in the next few days.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Decorating models

Self-portrait
Seattle, WA - January 2013

Take a close look at this photo and you will see what can happen when some products are used as body decorations for photo shoots. Years ago I went on a rant about not painting a model with acrylic paint, and citing that just because something is "non-toxic" does not mean that the product is "safe for body." I came out with a huge rash years ago when I was painted with non-toxic acrylic paint and since then I have been a stickler about only allowing actual bodypaint to be painted on me for shoots. I have since then learned I am not allergic to latex, so latex paint is fine on my body, but must be kept a small distance away from my pubic hairs for obvious reasons. 

This past month I learned about another thing my body is clearly allergic to - electrical tape. Some clubs have been decorating models with electrical tape to give them snazzy, sexy outfits, and a few photographers have started incorporating this into photoshoots. I tried this out with a good photographer friend and while peeling off the tape after shooting felt like ripping off a bandaid from all over my body, the sensation of the pulling tape was the least of my problems. I immediately broke out into a rash, and by a stroke of luck my friend had pregnesone on him as well as cortisone cream. While rope marks for a short amount of time might be fun, this semi-permanent rash of red stripes was horrifyingly stressful because the next photographers I would be working with clearly would not expect or enjoy a zebra-like model. My short dose of medicine as well as fortunately relaxed work schedule meant my rash proved to be a minor problem, but without these small fortunates, this would have been disastrous.

This was just my little reminder about your models being real people with real reactions to the substances you may decorate them with and the conditions you put them under for shoots.

(Side note to Dave - you know I think you are wonderfully respectful and sometimes accidents happen. Rash aside, I still can't wait to shoot with you again and see what new trouble we can cook up).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 Days

Photographed by Glenn McGuire
NYC, NY - 2011
With the taste of salt and chocolate fading from my mouth, I feel the pull of slumber on my eyes. If my counting is accurate I have 10 days until my departure for South America, which is not much time at all in my world. Most of my days and nights are accounted for in my remaining San Francisco time and I have another handful of things to collect to throw into my large backpacking pack and sort out before phone calls to the United States become unbearably expensive.

Today I filled some prescriptions for South American essentials. And at the end of the day the only thing I feel I ended up with was a prick in the arm and a set of camping silverware. The prick of course was in the form of an updated Hepatitis A shot, rather than any other form.

But I must have accomplished one other thing, as while I sit and type, digesting my beer and day's events, I see the flickering of my new iphone 4. My contacts have not all switched over, yet, but I am feeling optimistic about having a newer phone on hand for internet use in cafes while on my trip.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

If you want to work on your art

Photographed by Walter Glover
Sydney, AUS - December 2012

"If you want to work on your art, work on your life." Chekhov

I just read this on a friend's facebook, and while true to some extent, I often find some of the crazier people out there are the ones producing the best art. Yet for the marketing of your art, having a bit of a pulled together life seems to help. I am sure there is a balance to be found.

I'm not even sure if I have ever read Chekhov - perhaps I best change this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Luxury Comedy

Every time I return home to Houston I find myself unpacking and repacking pretty much the same belongings but in various orders or levels of cleanliness. Sometimes I may have a couple of extra heels or bits of "sexy-slutty" wear for shoots, or a more or less clothes of the practical nature, but one thing is certain, my throwing my items in and out of my dilapidated suitcase is rather inefficient but not entirely without humor.


Last night I sat down and essential painted the same face twice, but with a rather different flair each time. While I do not claim to be a painter in any way, shape, or form, my lack of training in the painting department allows me to create with a child-like thrill and simplicity.

Seeing as I barely have a home, I absolutely do not have a TV. But that doesn't mean I am deprived of the occasional plopping myself on a couch with an entertaining show to watch sort of binge, and I had exactly that two days ago. I am a big fan of "The Mighty Boosh," which is a British comedy that likely you are unfamiliar with and probably would prefer not to watch, and when I found out that Noel Fielding wrote another show, I was thrilled. The humor is a bit wacky (or perhaps that is the largest understatement of the year), the sets have a home-made feel, and I am now a fan of "Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Train

Photographed by Robert George
Portland, OR - 2012

I want to write an entry here, but cannot come up with what to say. Does anyone truly care to read the stream of thoughts which come out of my brain via my fingertips on my keyboard? Is my current experience a thing anyone would like to know - to hear of the vastness of water surrounded by trees and little houses which I see as I look out the moving plane of glass of my window on my ride on Amtrak from Portland to Seattle. Would you like to know of the tepid and bitter cup of coffee which warms my throat, and my consideration of listening to Manu Chau on the radio rather than the mild chattering of people on the dining car and the squealing of the wheels outside. I am facing backwards and watch where I come from fade away in an ever smaller portion of what I can see. I can crane my head to the right and see a glimpse of the view which is yet to come, but that which is most recently past is clearest of all. I often enjoy riding backwards in the trail.  I also frequently muse upon the past and am of the belief that I cannot truly see well into my future even if I may try. I take caution and plan for the future, knowing I may not be able to anticipate what she will bring, and want to be okay with anything which morphs from future to present. Most importantly, I live in the now because this is the time we feel with greatest detail and still hold some power over.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Portland Tour Guide

With one task completed in a swift phone call, I am feeling productive. I am able to suspend my iphone number while away on my trip for a mere $9.95 a month and already have the first six months of suspension set up to commence on February 10.


Photographed by Dana Devoe
Edited by me with photographer's permission
Baltimore, MD - Fall 2012

I spent the past couple of days playing tour guide to a friend visiting Portland. Apparently I have spent enough time in the city to adequately get around town on the bus and tram (I can thank google for the help with navigation, too), but more importantly, I have picked up a bit of knowledge of the neat places to hang out for a varied view of the city. My Portland knowledge can use some sharpening, but for someone usually reliant upon others to transport me around the city and take me to their favorite spots, I think I fared quite well. So which places did my friend get to visit?

Powell's Bookstore - this bookstore takes up an entire block and is about four stories tall. If you only visit on place in Portland, this might just have to be that place.
Saburos - an awesome sushi place where you have to get into line 40 minutes before opening if you want to get seated in a timely manner on one of their busy days. The sushi is extremely reasonably priced and tasty - and absolutely worth the wait in line.
McMenamins - This is a series of pubs in the Pacific Northwest - with each location having their own flair of personality all visitors should visit one of the McMenamins for a bite to eat and a pint of brew. With our meal of awesome pizza and tasty, fancy cocktails, we were both happy campers with the decision to check out the cellar spot of the Ringler's location at the suggestion of a guy working at Powell's.
Bailey's Taproom - This place is centrally located downtown and offers 20 mainly local beers on tap and a variety of bottled beers.
The Roxy - a dive bar we visited at perhaps the wrong time of day (okay, entirely the wrong time of day) and opted to poke our heads in rather than stay for a meal. Apparently if we were drunk and hungry and the hour late, then this was the place to be.
Trader Joes - Perhaps not a necessity for any visit to Portland, as New Season's is the chic healthy grocer of choice in the area, but my friend had never visited one.
Antique stores - I always spend a few hours to a day going thrifting/antiquing when in Portland. The prices are good and with strips of town having many antique stores lined up, going from place to place and overwhelming my senses with random treasures is an obvious option.
The Rose Garden - during spring/summer this place is gorgeous, but perhaps not in the winter.
The Japanese Garden - even during a drizzly and overcast day, the place is absolutely beautiful. This is one of the largest Japanese gardens I have visited, and has a few comfy covered areas to sit in and absorb the calm energy of the place. I had never been here before and am glad this place was suggested by my guest's friends.
Stumptown Coffee - this is touted by the locals as the place to visit for coffee, so we had to go there. The coffee was delicious and the fig and fennel scone was an intriguing treat to enjoy while watching passersby on the street.

I think we had another couple of stops in the quick trip, and got to wander the North West, South East and Downtown and Pearl Districts. Feel free to let me know your favorite places to add to my list of Portland knowledge, too. :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I am pretty pleased

Yesterday I found myself wound up - I woke up rested and blissfully not hung over after a rather moderate New Year's eve comedy show, and sipping on a cup of high octane coffee in my best friend's home. I plunged into the great airfare search and started thinking about South America, and soon my heart was quickening and I needed to get out of the animal filled room and breathe in the calm of the cold outside. I could not walk away from myself, but I could go on a walk and mellow out.

Photographed by David N
Berkeley, CA - Fall 2012

That was yesterday morning. The afternoon was radically different and included a bit of cooking, another cold walk outside, a hot shower, and an evening at the McMenamins Kennedy school for shooting pool, a couple of beers and a movie. I had never been to that place before but found the theater rather cozy, with the array of couches and individual comfy chairs, and an occasional end table to set food and beverages on. Seeing as I went with my best friend and her husband, I got to have my own couch during the movie. You would not have wanted to sit next to me as I probably threw a wee bit too much popcorn all over my lap. :) 

As for today, by 9:47 am I could make this announcement...
I have my tickets to Bolivia! I also have my tickets from Venezuela back to Houston! I know often models talk about retiring or doing things other than modeling, and so often these plans never come into fruition. I also know last year I spoke of doing a large South American trip which never happened this year and a few people are a bit dubious of my ability to follow through. But this time the trip will happen. I planned a light work schedule this January with the express purpose of getting a few things together, have talked the trip up, and golly gosh I am going!