img_5663retouchedsmall

I love coffee. Sometimes people try to switch my coffee to decaf when I’m not looking. I can always tell the difference. I also like Pringles, but only the reduced fat kind because they crunch better when you bite into them and they don’t leave grease on your fingers. I’m…

About Me
celebrate-survival-email-21

As part of our quest to support women’s issues, Katana Photography is excited to announce our first ever Celebrating Survival contest!
Having any kind of cancer is frightening and confusing. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Katana Photography is welcoming all survivors from all forms of cancer to participate…

Weekly Photo
il_570xn268930151

When I was looking to buy my wedding invitations (back in April), I found a lot of designers on Etsy. After narrowing it down to a couple different designs/companies, I contacted both for their pricing list. One was pretty significantly more expensive–almost $2 per invitation more. Which I think all…

Weekly Style
img_2092retsmall

When talking to people about photography, I hear one phrase over and over again: Kids and dogs are the hardest subjects to photograph.
I, personally, don’t have this problem with my clients…kids and dogs are among my favorite things to photograph. Maybe it’s because I like to have any excuse…

Weekly Puppies
img_7445retouchedsmall

Last week, Sean and I had our morning coffee on the balcony and watched as the Enterprise shuttle was pulled down the Hudson on a tug boat. It’s on its way to the Intrepid and I can’t wait to see it up close at the museum!

Weekly Coffee

Compromise

Me: Can I pack a few things in your bag?

The Boyfriend!: Depends what…

Me: Mostly things we’re sharing. A towel, bar of soap, shampoo…

The Boyfriend!: Sure.

Me: …make up, curling iron and tampons.

The Boyfriend!: Um, no. I draw the line at tampons.

Me: What? Why?

The Boyfriend!: What will the men at the security checkpoint think!?

Me: Clearly, they’ll think you’re a homosexual.(sarcasm)

The Boyfriend!: They WILL think I’m gay, won’t they?

Me: (sigh) No…they will think you’re traveling with a woman. Which you are. So you should probably get used to traveling with tampons.

The Boyfriend!: Fine. But then you’re finding space in your own bag for make up and hair stuff.

Me: Deal.

Are Your Balls Bigger Than Your Brain?

Dear large (read: fat) man on the subway,

Why when you’re sitting do you have to have your legs spread so wide that your fat ass takes up two seats? Is it so hard to keep your knees together? I notice, this doesn’t happen with larger women. Women tend to cross their legs, their ankles, their arms, and hold their purses and bags in their laps…basically bending over backwards to make room for others regardless of what size they are. But you–you fat mother fucker–all you would have to do is close your legs just half as wide as you currently have them spread and that would be enough so that the old woman standing, stretching to hold onto the bar above your lazy head could sit down.

So why don’t you? Would that be too taxing for you after a long day of watching the security camera at the Astor Place KMart while eating a McDonald’s southern fried chicken sandwich? And please don’t feed me this excuse that it’s because you have two family jewels that can’t be squashed. Men use their balls for SO MANY excuses and I am sick to hell of it. And let’s face it, fatass…your balls are probably not even that big. No man’s testicles need THAT much room that you are currently giving yours at rush hour on the A train. Now, I’m not saying you have to squeeze your scrotum between your massive thighs until they turn blue. I’m not even asking you to cross your legs…I know you’re much too homophobic for that. Just adjust SLIGHTLY so the poor, old woman can sit down.

But no. You won’t do that, will you? So, it’s left up to me to offer the old woman my seat, three seats away from you, because you’re too inconsiderate to move a few inches to the right. I grab my CVS bag full of crap needed for my trip this weekend, my Citarella bag of fresh cheese, my laptop, my purse, my B&H bags of film and stand so that the woman can hobble over and sit. I walk over to you and clear my throat. You don’t even look up. I say “Excuse me,” and still nothing. I say it again louder…nothing. I refuse to give up. I WILL be sitting down and you WILL be moving over. Give up, already. RELENT. So, I turn, lower my bags to the floor and force my bony ass into the seat, pushing your fleshy thighs out of my way.

I don’t care that you smell like a combination of meat, cheese and sweat. I don’t care that my shoulders, hips and thighs are pressed against yours. You will learn your lesson. You will learn that next time having a sweet old lady sitting next to you is the better alternative than me, the uber bitch, forcing her way into your personal space. And for the record: when I had to sneeze, though yes I covered my mouth, I still purposefully turned my head in your direction.

Please next time be more conscious of those around you…particularly the elderly and pregnant women.

Thank you,
Colleen

On Being a Target

I live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. For those who don’t know the New York areas well, Bed-Stuy is a primarily black neighborhood that was declared an impact zone in 2005 for having the most number of homicides in New York.

When Sean and I moved here, we didn’t think twice about the fact that it was a mostly black neighborhood. It meant nothing to us…we really didn’t even notice it until a few months after we moved in. We liked our neighbors–Miss Thelma, the (very) old woman next door who will get mad if we don’t sweep our steps often enough. And Joan, the crazy woman a couple doors down who feeds the 30 stray cats in the neighborhood. Even the teenage and pre-teen kids on our block are always very friendly and respectful. We had a game going where the boys would ask me how old I was every night when I came home from work…I would tell them I was 35 with a coy smile. They knew I was lying and would burst out in laughter, yelling:

“No you’re not, Miss Colleen!! Tell us! How old are you??”

The bottom line is, Sean and I love our block. However, every day I turn the corner onto Malcolm X Blvd to walk the six blocks to the subway, it’s a very different story. The sweet street I live on is suddenly a ghetto with people hanging outside of store fronts drinking beer out of paper bags (nothing new to see when living in New York), but in this neighborhood, the people are much louder and much more confrontational.

It began with nothing too horrible. People calling me “gorgeous” and “hey baby, do you have a boyfriend.” I always had my iPod in my ears and could pretend that I either didn’t hear them, or sometimes I would just nod and wave in return. Then, the younger kids (high school probably) started following me, walking closely behind me for a block or so. They called me “Katie,” I guess what they assumed was a typical “white girl” name. At one point I stopped, turned around and simply asked…”Oh, are you talking to me? Katie’s not my name…you must have the wrong person.” So then, they started calling me Marcia Brady (which I actually find kind of funny).

The thing I’ve noticed is that if it’s a group of guys, nothing too bad happens. Maybe some of them trying to get my attention, but that’s it. If there are girls in the group, or god forbid, a group of only girls, then it’s usually much worse.

So, things grew increasingly worse. The innocent “Marcia Brady” calling advanced to kids pulling my hair and then running away as I’m walking. People purposefully bumping into me and pushing me into the street. Usually when I’m with Sean, nothing too bad happens, but one time, kids behind us started following and yelling: “Is that your boyfriend, white girl? Do you fuck him? Do you like it from behind?” That was the first time Sean really saw first hand what I go through on a daily basis….because hearing something like that definitely did not shock me. I was used to it…but he was appalled.

Then the other night, we were coming home. It was about 9:00. We passed a group of girls sitting on their front stoop. We heard one girl say, rather quietly, “white bitch.” We ignored it, as we tend to do. Within two minutes, one of the girls was riding a bike (on the sidewalk…a huge pet peeve of mine) and blatantly ran me over with the bike. As in, she was riding straight…there was plenty of room on the sidewalk and as she came up on us, she turned the handlebars and ran directly into me–not Sean–me. I was ok…a few bruises, two broken toenails. But this is pretty much the last straw for me.

I try so hard not to generalize. I never considered myself to be racist, but I fear that having lived here for a year, I am becoming that which I hate. If I’m in this neighborhood and I see a group of black girls as I’m approaching (I specify their race because in the rare case when there is a white girl or guy in the group, nothing ever happens to me), I now cross the street. I avoid them. If I’m walking past a man dressed in baggy pants and a hoodie pulled up around his face (he can be any race), I will hug my purse tighter to my body. And I hate that I do this…but I need to protect myself first and foremost. These are actions and habits which have been conditioned in me BECAUSE of how I have been treated. I moved here with no judgments about the inhabitants of the neighborhood…and I am leaving hating almost every single person I pass.

Here in this neighborhood, it would be very hard to dispute that there is a definite correlation between race, education and poverty and the actions of the people on this street. I am a target because I am white…and I don’t deserve that.

Going to get me some Lucky Charms!

In about a week, Sean and I are jet-setting to Ireland! I am extremely excited about this trip…not only because I have been waiting in anticipation since the day Sean mentioned it as a part of my Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts, but because this is the first time I have ever stepped foot off of American soil.

That’s right, I have never been outside of the country. Seems odd, no? Travel is SO important for young people in this country. The cultures you are exposed to and the experiences to be had contribute greatly to creating a culturally sensitive society…something very important and rarely valued in America today. Fewer and fewer young adults are traveling abroad these days due to high gas prices, inflated plane tickets, the value of the Euro, and low entry-level salaries. Regardless, as a result of the reasons listed above, I have never managed to leave the country.

When I mentioned this to the boyfriend! he seemed confused.

Him: But, didn’t you go to the Bahamas once?

Me: Yeah…but that doesn’t count as an international trip. I was working the whole time and hardly left the boat. Plus, it didn’t require a passport.

Him: Neither did Mexico or Canada until just recently, but that would count as an international trip.

Me: Yes, but I haven’t even been to Mexico or Canada either…(these points all seem valid in my mind)

Him: But the Bahamas is British territory. Therefore, you technically have left the country.

Me: Ok, maybe TECHNICALLY, but we all know that technicalities don’t count.

Him: What? Why don’t technicalities count?! They should count the most!

Me: They just don’t!! I wasn’t exposed to any new cultures! There’s no stamp in my passport! It wasn’t even a vacation! I could have been in Key West and it would have felt exactly the same!

Him: Fine. I agree that maybe the experience wasn’t necessarily an “international” one, but you have technically left the United States.

Me: Fine. (under my breath) But not really…

Him: YES, REALLY!

So what, dear internet, do you think? Is Ireland my first true trip outside of the United States, or does the Bahamas Cruise count as a worldly and international experience?

Adelynn Turned One!

Adelynn Turned One!
Adelynn Turned One!
Adelynn Turned One!
Adelynn Turned One!
Adelynn Turned One!
Dear Adelynn,

Happy Birthday, beautiful girl! You’re a whole year old. Just think…only 20 more to go before you can buy vodka ALL BY YOURSELF. Goals are important; remember that.

I just returned from my trip to NC for your birthday party. It was a total blast. There was family and presents and fried chicken and CAKE! Oh, the cake! It was your first taste of sugar and let me tell you, BOY, are you a Katana. You took to that cake like a duck takes to water; diving right in!

I unfortunately have only seen you four times in the first year of your life. I met you for the first time at your baptism when you were about six weeks old. Basically, you were a lump who cried and ate and slept and pooped. Don’t worry, though…you were an adorable little lump. I stayed awake three nights in a row to feed you every 2-3 hours so to give my sister a much needed break. They were easily three of the most horrible nights of my life. But whenever I picked you up from that crib and cradled you while you sucked the bottle’s nipple, I forgot about my exhaustion and became captivated by your little sucking lips and heavy eyelids.

The next time I saw you was at Christmas, at five months old. You were already such a curious little thing. Any time someone walked into the room you HAD to see who was there and fussed until we turned you so that you could see. You liked to watch people and you loved when I blew raspberries on your tummy.

In April when you were about nine months old, your mommy and daddy brought you to visit New York. And me. You were still very curious and such an active baby. You loved playing with all the toys at FAO Schwartz and we bought you three new toys from the store. The first was a little blue elephant. We all thought it was adorable how much you seemed to love this elephant. We couldn’t tear it out of your hands the whole time we were in the store. Any time we tried to show you something else, you gave it a look like, “Yeah, yeah, ok. I see the stuffed dog. Very nice.” But the blue elephant seemed to be IT. Regardless, we bought you a jack in the box Curious George toy and a teddy bear with an FAO Schwartz t-shirt. You showed little to no interest in the teddy bear, but we wanted you to have something with the toy store’s logo. As soon as we got to the hotel and cut the tags off, you no longer had an interest in the elephant. Apparently without the flavor of cardboard and ink, it was a dull toy. The teddy bear, however, has since turned into your absolute favorite toy. His name is Eddie. That’s right, Eddie the Teddy.

Eddie the Teddy is INVALUABLE in your house. You may not know this yet, but you are quite the high maintenance baby. And Eddie is your parents’ savior. He calms your tears and puts you to sleep and when you’re acting fussy, if we hand you Eddie, 9 out of 10 times, you will calm down. This most recent trip for your birthday was quite the eye opener. I love the little person you are becoming. When I first arrived, you went right to my mom—your Oma. Only, you don’t call her Oma; you say “YaYa” because when she says “Yeah, yeah” in conversations it sounds like “Ya, ya…” And she apparently says this a lot. And you love your YaYa. You smile and laugh for her and it takes a good 20 minutes before you’ll leave YaYa’s arms and go to anyone else. It’s as though YOU NEED YOUR YAYA TIME. You finally came to me for the first time since I had last seen you. You gave me a little smile, but then coyly dropped your head into Eddie’s neck. Then, peeking out from behind your teddy, you smiled and laughed.

Your smile, Adelynn, may just be the cutest thing I have ever seen. It’s crooked with teeth sticking out in several directions and your nose scrunches up to your eyebrows. I also love how much you enjoy looking at pictures of yourself. You’ll point to the photos and smile, and look back at all of us saying “Behbeh!” (That’s toddler language for “baby”)

You are learning words and sign language now too. When we are feeding you, we ask you to say and sign “more please” to which you say “Moh, moh” and press your fingertips together. However, if after you’ve asked politely, we don’t give you what you want, you scream. What a temper you have! If you’re not getting your way, we all better just plug our ears because OH MY GOD, THE SCREAMING. I think blood trickled out of my ears once because I wouldn’t allow you to snap my glasses in half. Oh, the injustice. I’m obviously a horrible aunt and totally don’t love you. So, you screamed. And—I’m sorry, did I mention the screaming?

You also love to read books. You can sit with several surrounding you and flip through the pages happily. And since you can’t read yet, of course, the books are usually upside down and the only words you can get out are DOG and DUCK and BABA and DUHDUHDUH! even though the book has no mention of dogs or ducks or duh’s.

This whole weekend, I tried to get you to say my name. I’d sit in your face as you were trying to watch Baby Einstein and I’d say, “Who am I? I’m Aunt Colleen!” over and over and over again until you—yes, you guessed it, screamed. But eventually, you started to get it. And once as we were playing with barnyard magnets, I asked you, “Adelynn, who am I?” And you answered: “Ayn CaCa.” Now…this is pretty close. But I’m really not a fan of being Aunt Poo Poo…so we’re all trying to change this into Aunt CoCo. Because if anyone knows me at all…Aunt Chocolate is WAY more appropriate than Aunt Poo Poo!

The last night I stayed with you this weekend, I woke up at around 2am and snuck into your bedroom to watch you sleep. I watched your chest rise and fall with each breath and loved to hear your life in the air. Adelynn, if there is a God…you are certainly proof that he or she exists.

I love you, baby girl.

Love,
Aunt Coco.

::sigh:: Oh, fine. Aunt Caca.