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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day

For Valentine’s Day, I made chocolate covered strawberries. Initially I was attempting to decorate “tuxedo” strawberries, but as you can see in the surrounding berries, they quickly turned into squiggles. I did manage to decorate one HEART strawberry for a special someone….so WHAT if it’s a wonky heart? IF HE CAN’T APPRECIATE MY ATTEMPT, THEN HE IS UNDESERVING OF MY WONKY HEART.

Luckily, he enjoyed the strawberries…the heart was saved for last.

An Open Wound

An Open Wound

It’s been a rough month. I’m not exactly sure where to begin–my little Luna has passed away. Also, a week after, my computer crashed and I lost all of my most recent photographs of her. They were the only thing I DIDN’T back up on my external. This Christmas Card is the last image I have of her.

The details of her passing, I still do not want to delve into.  The story itself maybe I’ll be able to talk about at a later date, but for now I just want to remember. Remember my sweet puppy who used to curl up under the covers because she would get cold at night. My dog who would lick the air compulsively if you ate something in front of her. My dog whose aim was always perfect and would always knock people in their most sensitive areas (men particularly). My dog who loved to lay out on my balcony and who when I’d sit out there with her, liked to sit in my lap to have a better view of the streets. The way she would charge the door whenever I came home and jump on me with such enthusiasm that you thought she hadn’t seen me in months.

The day she passed away, I had gotten a bad cut (um, from Luna’s teeth) on my finger. It was so deep that I was (later) told it should have had a couple of stitches. If you peeled the skin apart, you could see my bone beneath. And that first day, I just kept looking at the open wound on my finger, crying. It hurt so badly. It was bleeding, oozing. The pain was so intense that my whole finger throbbed with each beat of my heart. But each day, that finger of mine would heal just a little more. And each day, I cried just a little less. And then a couple of days ago, I looked down at my finger and noticed that it had healed. While I was out living my life–the wound had healed. There’s still a scar, of course. A mark. And there will probably always be a scar–just like there’s still that lump in my throat as I write this.

And every now and then I’ll find one of her old toys hidden somewhere (she liked to hide and bury her toys). I found her collar the other day (which she also liked to hide) and I sat down on my couch clutching it to my chest and let myself mourn her all over again.

I hate that dogs do this to me. I hate that I give my heart to every single one, just to have it crushed over and over. They give so much back in return as well, of course. And I just have to keep telling myself that Luna and I had a great, though short-lived, life. I loved her and I believe that she loved me, too. You know…in the way that a dog CAN love, that is.

And I’m sure that up there in Heaven, Luna is doing all her favorite things. Chewing a bully stick, hiding all her toys, digging enormous holes, rolling around in mud puddles and chasing (ehem, attacking) squirrels.

Why I Refuse To Share A Bowl Of Anything With Him Anymore

Sean: “Do you want any more?”

Me: More than those two small bites I had? Yes, I want more. Sheesh, if I don’t eat fast around you, I don’t eat at all.

Sean: So you want more?

Me: Grr, don’t do that!

Sean: Do what?

Me: Ask me if I want any more when what you really mean is, ‘I WANT THE REST.’”

Sean: That’s not what I mean.

Me: Buuuuullshit. You just don’t want to admit you want the rest of it so you make me say that I don’t want anymore first!

Sean: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Me: Oh, you know. Just say it. SAY IT. SAY that you want the rest of it. Sayitsayitsayitsayit….

Sean: Ok!! Yes, I want the rest of it, but I also want to make sure that you don’t want any more.

Me: Ooooh. Someone’s oh so political suddenly!

Sean: It’s true!

Me: THEN WHY DON’T YOU JUST SAY THAT YOU WANT THE REST OF IT?

Sean: BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW IF YOU WANT ANY MORE.

Me: No you don’t.

Sean: YES I DO.

Me: NO.

Sean: YES.

Me: Fine, fine! You win. I DON’T WANT ANY MORE!

Sean: Cool. Can I have the rest?

Christmas, Carolina Style (Dec, 2006)

I turned into the small suburban strip mall.  I had one day left to find the perfect gifts for my family.  Why didn’t I shop sooner? I live in New York City for Christ’s sake!  I pushed the thought from my mind.  That wasn’t going to help anything now.

My tires squealed in pain as I skidded into a parking space. Talbots.  I’m sure I can find something for my mom and sister here.  I got out of the car, slinging my purse over my shoulder and slammed the door.  To my left was Talbots. To my right was Starbucks.  It couldn’t hurt to grab a coffee first.  I picked up my pace, excited to get my usual Christmas coffee: a grande gingerbread white mocha latte.  It was pure, creamy heaven and my mouth watered at the thought of it.

I placed my order with the barrista and waited while they brewed the espresso. On the shelf in front of me were travel coffee mugs…a perfect gift for my brother, another caffeine addict.  I grabbed two, one that was brown with a matte silver thermos and one that was pink leather with brown trim…for myself of course.  I tucked one under my arm as I grabbed the turquoise mug for a closer look.  Hm, blue or pink?  Blue…or…pink.  Good question. As I stood thinking, my phone vibrated in my purse. “Oh, shit,” I said aloud.  “Um…” I set the turquoise much back on the shelf and the pink one slipped from under my arm, landing on the floor with a loud clatter.  “Shit!” I whispered to myself.  The phone continued buzzing as I bent down to retrieve the fallen mug. “Um, hold on a sec!” I knew the caller couldn’t hear me.  Stuffing my slender hand deep into my purse, I grabbed my phone, accidentally hitting the speaker button.                                                                                                                                                                       “Ms. Katana? This is Dr. Sanji’s office calling from East Side Gynecology…”

“Oh God. Hold on a moment!” I yelled into the speakerphone as I dropped the second travel mug.  The Starbucks employees looked my direction obviously annoyed and a couple of the customers sipping coffee also looked up, staring.

“I’m calling with the results of your pap smear…”  Her voice was surprisingly clear for talking over speakerphone.

“Wait!” I shrieked, my face growing hot.

“…everything looks clear. No chlamydia, no HPV, no syphilis. We’ll see you in about a year for your next appointment.”

I sighed.  “Ok,” I gave in, “see you in a year.” I added then hung up.  The fallen mug still rested at my feet and when I bent down to retrieve it, I heard my name from an excited voice I immediately recognized.  I glanced up and saw the face I knew would be standing there.

“Ian!  Hi.” I was frazzled.  Brushing my hair from my face, I stuck out my hand to shake Ian’s as he leaned in for a hug.  I felt the cotton of his pants and flesh below the material. I didn’t want to know what part of his anatomy I just grabbed.  “Sorry,” I said quickly then leaned in for a quick, awkward hug.

“How are you?” He smiled wide, not noticing the uncomfortable moment.  Or not acknowledging it.  I’m not sure which.

“Hey, Colleen,” Jenna stood right beside him.  Coach Cunt.  And she was fat.  Ok, ok she was pregnant.  But still.  It was oddly satisfying to see her with a huge belly.  She continued talking despite my tight smile, “You look exactly the same!  I would recognize you anywhere!”  It was one of those compliments that you knew wasn’t really a compliment.  It was condescending and said in such a way that all you could respond with was ‘thank you.’  But I refused.  I knew I didn’t look the same.  Similar? Yes.  The same? No.                                                                                                                                                                          “Really?” I smiled, giving it back to her, “I was about to say the opposite to you!  Especially, you know.” I drew a circle with my hands around my abdomen, being sure to draw the circle much larger than she actually was.

She returned my smile.  But behind it, irritation surfaced. I wasn’t lying; not saying anything meaner than she said to me.  She didn’t look the same.  Her hair was graying and wrinkles framed her eyes and mouth. That’s what you get for marrying a woman 16 years older than you.

“You look great,” I added.  And actually, I had to admit that for being pregnant, she did look pretty good.  It was the type of pregnancy that looked like she had stuffed a basketball under her shirt.  But nothing else looked any different.  Her legs were fit, her arms were toned, and she didn’t have any swelling in her face or ankles.

I looked back over at Ian. He, however, looked different in a good way.  More filled out, now with a goatee, but his cheeks, those chipmunk cheeks of his, never thinned out.  Oddly, I felt nothing for him.  A bit of nostalgia, but that was the extent of it.  “Congratulations, you two,” And I actually meant this. My hatred was entirely gone and I felt a tug at my guts.  I only wished I could have told the man I had been dating how much I actually cared for him. But I also knew how scared he was of commitment and pressuring a relationship on someone who wasn’t ready was a surefire way to lose that person.

I hugged both Ian and Jenna one last time. “Have a great Christmas.”  I left Starbucks, grabbing my gingerbread white mocha latte and sadly headed toward Talbots, cursing myself for having even stopped into Starbucks in the first place. This whole scenario could have been avoided if I could just kick this coffee habit.

BubbleGum Barbie Bridesmaid

BubbleGum Barbie Bridesmaid
MY THOUGHTS ON BEING A BRIDESMAID
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Occurred: Throughout the past five years of my life

I look like “Bubblegum Barbie Bridesmaid.” For the sixth time in five years I will be, not just a bridesmaid, but maid of honor in a friend/sister’s/cousin’s wedding. I will wear a two-piece cotton candy colored gown, that grazes the carpet as I walk down the center of the church. The odor and pollen of the lilies and roses which I hold between my recently pampered hands, will demolish the natural dam my nose had created, allowing snot to flow like water from a faucet. Lucky for me, being the seasoned professional that I am, I know to hide not one, but two tissues neatly folded in the ribbon that binds the evil-mucus-making bouquet together. There is one tissue for my runny nose and watery eyes, and one for me to hand the bride as she cries tears of happiness while reciting vows which ultimately seal her fate as a second-class citizen.

Like Alice when she falls through the looking glass, the bride spirals through a whirlwind of decisions. For the next year, life revolves around her. She is the center of the universe and I am her side-kick, her little white rabbit in charge of keeping time, recording details, and staying organized.

But this fairy tale wedding that she strives for and that we spend 12 months attempting to achieve is never even comparable to Cinderella’s. In the end, in every one of my experiences, the bride is left disappointed. Something goes wrong; the linens are the wrong color, the seating chart is rearranged, or red wine spills on the wedding dress. At some point of the night, the bride will trade in her tears of joy for tears of disappointment that her day did not go as planned. And I, true to form, will be there to offer a shoulder to cry on. That is Bubblegum Barbie Bridesmaid’s job.

I’ve spent the past three weddings pretending that I agree with this institution of marriage. Giving speeches about two little words that hold such a large concept: soul mate. This belief that someone, somewhere possesses the key to unlock your heart. All you need to do is find each other. Despite the numerous toasts I have given that indulge this belief, I myself, find it a bit asinine. The idea that I am limited to only having one great love in my lifetime is ridiculous.

Men are a pair of sexy leather heels. They entice you while on the shelf, looking pristine and beautiful. The leather is stiff, a little rough around the edges. As you’re writing out the check you convince yourself that you can break them in; you will be the one to wear-down that stubborn leather. But at the end of the day, your calves are cramped, your arches ache, and there are two new blisters on each foot that will soon be calluses. You give up, and sell the shoes that seemed so perfect only weeks ago to the vintage store on the corner. Another woman comes along and sees your shoes. She tries them on and they’re a perfect fit. They don’t hurt because she already has calluses formed in the right spots.

I’ve always sworn to myself that I will never say, “You’re the only one in this world meant for me.” I don’t believe you are. Let’s face it, if I never meet you, chances are I would meet someone else and have a different kind of love. Not better, not worse, just different. After all, doesn’t it mean more to say “I choose you?”

The Night I Flew

THE NIGHT I FLEW
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Occurred: Sometime in 1987

Whenever I see a feather, I smile. I smile in the kind of way that one would when passing children playing on the street. Or in the way one would watching a stubborn dog stop in its tracks while the owner stands, defeated, tugging on the leash and collar. I smile in the way that other people look at me and know that my toes are tingling.

It was 1987. We lived in a three-story house that had “Betty Crocker-esque” wallpaper and carpet that we would now describe as being retro. I was four years old and I had four heroes. My dad, my brother, my sister, and most of all, my mom. The woman from whom I had received my eyes and my taste in music. The woman who provided me with role models ranging from Aretha Franklin to Hedda Gabler. She was a stunning mother of three. She had pale skin, the color of cookie batter and reddish brown hair that rested in soft curls just below her chin. When she laughed, bangs would fall in front of her deep blue eyes. And she laughed a lot.

She was one of those rare mothers who would play with her children, not just dress them up and show them off. We would have sock wars with our balled up dirty laundry. Sing and dance around the house while cleaning. We were allowed to help her cook, even if the end result was disastrous. We would all dress up in her fanciest clothes, put on make up, then wait for my dad to come home and pretend as if he, a Prince, had just entered the ball.

My dad was the opposite. He was reticent and stoic with glasses that hung on the end of his nose. Dark hair and small green eyes peeked out over the aforementioned glasses; a businessman to the core. He would come home every night and want the house to be quiet as he read his paper. He liked the expected. He liked his routine. He was affectionate, but in a very different way than my mother was. He could be silly when he wanted to be, but usually he was the disciplinary figure in our house. Every night at the dinner table he would have a “question of the day” for us—some tidbit of information that we all had to take a guess at and whoever answered correctly won the right to choose what to have for dessert that evening. I was the youngest and therefore never got the answer right. However, there were nights when he would cater the question to me.

“Question of the day:” his voice boomed over my mom’s mashed potatoes, “Who can tell me who our current president is?” Bridget’s mouth opened revealing a gaping hole where her front tooth was missing. “Ow!” A jerking movement came from my brother as he glared at her. “Oh, uh—hm, that’s a tough one, dad…”

Bo scratched his head and furrowed his brow in exaggerated thought. Exhaling like a leaky tire, he lifted his shoulders to his ears, eyes wide in manufactured confusion. “Psh, beats me dad!”

My mom leaned into me. “Tootsie, you know this. Remember who we were talking about over lunch? What was that man’s name?” Her breath had the bitter smell of coffee.

Biting the inside of my chubby cheek, I thought long and hard recounting the things I had learned that day “Is it Wonald Weagan?” I said after a few minutes.

“Very good, Colleen!” They all cheered at once and my dad nodded, sending me a wink.

“Very good, Doodlebug.” He smiled and continued eating.

My mom, sister, and I used to collect feathers. If while walking to the front door from the car after a trip to the mall, or going to the doctor’s office, I spotted one on the ground, I’d squeal with excitement! Pinching the stem between my two tiny fingers I’d hold it in front of my face like a treasure. The stem felt fake—almost like plastic. I ran the tip of my index finger along the edge of the feather. It felt silky and the edge fanned out beneath my skin spreading and splitting under my touch.

We always found time to through books and try to guess at what feather came from which type of bird. One particular day after school, the three of us were going through our box o’ feathers while my brother did his homework sitting at the table next to us. Swinging my legs back and forth, they dangled lifelessly over the edge of the oversized chair I sat in. I held a pale blue feather up to the light and squinted while looking at it. “I bet this is a wobin’s feather.” I puffed my chest out, certain that this was correct.

“Don’t be stupid,” my sister spoke without even raising her eyes from the book, “A robin’s feather isn’t blue. It’s either red or brown. Their eggs are blue.”

And my chest deflated, defeated again by my sister’s know-it-all attitude.

“Bridget…” My mom’s voice was deep and she drew my sister’s name out about 4 syllables longer than necessary.

Bridget sighed audibly. “But that was a good guess, Neener.”

Neener was one of the many nicknames I developed in my family, along with Doodlebug, Umze, and Tootsie. Take your pick. I still respond to all.

I grabbed several more feathers from the box and cupped them greedily in the palm of my hands. “I wish I could fly!”

“Well,” my mom’s voice was back to its normal tone, “have you ever tried to?”

I giggled while scrunching my nose. A habit I still have to this day. “No, I’ve never twied.” I spoke through my high-pitched laughter.

“Then how do you know you can’t?” My mom looked down and to the right at me without moving her head, still holding a large gray feather out in front of her. “Here,” she took the feathers I had in my hands and tucked the stems underneath my arms, “I’ll try it with you.” She helped me down off the chair, then took a few of the larger feathers and tucked them beneath her own arms. She began flapping her “wings” vigorously and her feet started running in place. I did the same all the while laughing at my beautiful mother who looked as foolish as I did.

Bridget’s lip curled in embarrassment and she dug her face even deeper into the bird book. My brother laughed in spite of us, taking a moment’s break from his pre-algebra homework.

“C’mon Bridget! Don’t you want to fly?!” My mother’s breathing was getting heavier and small beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead.

“Yeah, BJ, don’t you want to fwyyyy?” I repeated my mother like a dictaphone. A dictaphone with a speech impediment.

Her face was growing redder with every moment. It made no difference that none of her friends were there to be embarrassed by, she was still the shade of a radish.

My mom and I began running in circles around her, singing, “We’re flying! We’re flying!”

Bo’s eyes narrowed and a look encroached his face that was comparable to any expression Dennis the Menace may have had; a mischievous and deviant grin spread across both cheeks. He disappeared down the hall and came running back to us in seconds holding his Nerf gun. “Not for long!!” He yelled maniacally.

Screaming voices filled our house. We were running—no, flying for our lives. Bridget grabbed her own set of feathers, finally joining in on the game. I ran, trying to find refuge from my brother, the bird hunter and tucked myself behind the couch in hopes that he wouldn’t see me hiding. Our house, which moments ago was picturesquely clean now looked as though it had been ransacked by four thieves. Chairs were overturned, Nerf balls were scattered about the floor, books had been knocked off the coffee table, and feathers were floating pretty much everywhere you looked.

My brother somehow cornered all us ladies in the foyer of our house; we had nowhere to run. He pointed his bright orange and blue gun at our bodies and squinted one eye closed like Clint Eastwood would do in an old western. “All right you yellow-bellied, lily-livered birds…prepare to meet my oven!” And just as he was about to pull the trigger, our front door opened. In walked my dad, wearing a suit, trench coat and hat.

We all froze.

Busted.

He looked around for a moment, breathing in his destroyed house, and placed his briefcase by the door. None of us dared to move. Except my mom. She flapped her wings over to my dad and kissed him on the cheek, still lifting her knees in rhythm with her flapping. “Hi sweetheart,” her voice was filled with love and if I think back on it, I swear I could hear pure honey dripping from her vocal chords. “We’re being birds! If you want to read your newspaper in quiet tonight, you’ll have to do so upstairs. We’re not going to stop playing right now.” She smiled at him, and still none of us kids moved. We were barely breathing, frozen in fear.

My dad exhaled and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. “Kids, cover your eyes for a moment.” We did as we were told. I heard a sound that I didn’t recognize…a very quiet rustling and then a soft click, like the sound I made when I sucked on my cheek, too angry for words. I lowered my hand from my eyes, the palm of it brushing the bridge of my nose. Above two chubby, pink fingers, I saw my dad’s arms wrapped tightly around my mother’s waist. He had her pulled in close to his body and I couldn’t tell where her lips ended and his started. Eyes were closed, their heads shifted from right to left every couple of seconds. I wondered how they managed to not bump noses. Would I someday be kissed like that by a man I loved? The kind of kiss that makes your knees turn to Jell-O? The thought of a boy kissing me on the lips made me want to vomit and I scrunched my nose, revolted at the thought. Why were they doing this in front of us? Perhaps they weren’t just my parents–but PEOPLE too. They were husband and wife as well as mom and dad, even though I didn’t quite understand what that meant at the time.

They pulled back from each other and I quickly recovered my eyes so that they wouldn’t catch me peeking. I heard my father’s sigh. “Ok, kids, you can look.” We all removed our hands from our faces simultaneously and I saw my brother send a crooked smile at my sister. They both knew about this revolting display? My chin brushed the floor and I was unable to lift my jaw off the ground. They knew that our parents performed this disgusting act and yet they allowed it to happen? Gross.

A smile slowly spread across my dad’s round face. He methodically loosened his tie and then in one swift movement lifted both Bridget and myself, running down the hallway with us under each arm. My mom followed at his feet and my brother was close behind us, shooting again.

Soon after, for my father isn’t exactly the Hulk, I was passed to my mom. Her fingers pressed into my belly and I extended my hands in front of me feeling the breeze brush across my face.

So now, 20 years later, I still smile every time I see a feather. It reminds me of a simpler time. A time when I still believed that anything could be accomplished if you just tried hard enough. The feather reminds me of the kind of mother and wife I want to be; a symbol of the kind of family I want to have. A symbol of the family that I one day will have.

That night set the standard for the type of love and marriage I deserve; the type of man I deserve. And I refuse to accept anything less than a love that will give me wings and allow me to fly.