I had the privilege of documenting Jacob and Morgan's nuptials yesterday with the venerable Grayson Kemp. The rest of the Kemps were in attendance as well, so in addition to running around capturing the festivities (and drinking gallons of water), I was also able to see some friends.
The wedding was lovely, so here's a sneak peek of a few images.
Oh, and P.S.
For those of you who vehemently oppose my vehement opposition of baseball, you'll note that I cajoled the bride and groom into playing an inning with some fellow picnickers. Yes, it was my idea. So there.
My fabulous and talented assistant, Mr. Grayson Kemp
Went exploring in old town Orange this afternoon with Brady and Posey. Refrained from walking out of one of the shops with a midcent mod orange-red desk.
I've played the piano for most of my life. It started with the requisite Fraulein-Mary-type doe-ray-meeing as a child and eventually transitioned, unyielding though I was at first, to learning how to read music as a series of letters instead of as a drop of golden sun. The lessons were arduous at first - a practice in the self-discipline that I lacked, and a test to the iron will that was buried as deeply in me as a threshold of crude oil under the earth's crust.
My piano teacher Judy was a swinging 60's type of woman, thoroughly modern in a mid-century sort of way, as fascinatingly sleek and classic as a Barcelona chair. She was as outspoken as I was stubborn; as unbending as I was unyielding. And what's more, she was smarter than I was and even worse still (!): she was usually right. This posed a particular problem as I had yet in my young life to meet another who matched me wit for wit, steel for steel, will for will. My parents had bafflingly birthed a wild child, less of a social terror than a deep and unending reserve of mouthy and bull-headed contrariness. What I lacked in outright spoiled-brat rebellion I more than made up for in pigheaded noncompliance.
In other words, I was a joy to be around, and Judy inexplicably seemed to enjoy our time together. So I stuck with it, by parental force at first, eventually transitioning to a place wherein I could learn and play the Disney songs I loved so much - and by then it was too late. I was hooked. As a pre-adolescent, I loved the mental release piano afforded. As the music became more and more complicated, so too my perceived "problems" grew into a terrific sense of blooming, brooding, full-bodied ennui, and playing Mozart or Saint-Saëns or Tchaikovsky released my turmoil-addled brain from the rigors of being a daughter at the hands of angry authority figures.
Eventually my lessons were split 50/50 - both in location and in intention. Sometimes we played piano at the music store Judy and her husband Keith owned. Sometimes we went an entire lesson without therapy. But usually I drove to her home, and usually we spent a good thirty minutes chatting before we ever played a single note. I loved driving up the sinuous hills of West Salem - over the bridge, and so far away from my suburban reality! Though it was only a few miles away from Keizer, Judy's hilltop time-capsule of a house seemed like a million miles from home. Sleek Eames-y furniture reclined on shag rugs, and the monochromatic beige color scheme subdued the exaggerated shapes. Creative lighting. Acute angles. Obtuse swoops and swooning curtains. Every square inch of Judy's living room seemed to be infused with light from picture windows flanking the back wall. It was the most stylish place I'd ever been; glowing from within, this snazzed-up snow globe containing an entire era's worth of alternative perspective. The kind of wisdom that only retro furniture can impart.
Our lessons became a split reality, too, like the two halves of my brain that were learning to work in tandem. I'd sit on the piano bench with Judy beside me in her chair and I'd talk, and talk, and talk. Or sometimes Judy would tell me how it was, and I'd listen. Then I'd bang out a few pieces, arduously climbing the ivories with each scale, stopping, starting, willing the tendons in my forearms not to twinge with every arpeggio or measure of a song that seemed to be just outside my abilities until one day: holding my breath, fingers flying, muscle memory, not thinking, not concentrating really, just focused. Breathless. Note for note, perfection. Not one mistake.
And then we'd move on, euphoric, employing smiley faces and stickers even as I brushed up against adulthood; charms and mile markers for my achievements. Achievements that were about so much more than learning "Rondo Alla Turca." A sparkling alligator on Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1," was also the week I learned to hold my tongue. A fuzzy, flocked Christmas tree on "The Coventry Carol" for a season in which I'd fought with a friend, but had reached reconciliation. And so I found solace at the keys, and it was there that I also learned how to grow up. How to be a better person. How to love more deeply, to care more genuinely, to notice more faithfully the infinitesimal details that made being a teenager such a uniquely fleeting experience.
When I went to college, I stopped playing as much. I'd spend time on it while I was at home, but it wasn't the same. I was losing my edge, and after a few years, the only couple of songs I still knew how to play were Christmas songs - and in a minor key, at that! I never lost the hope that I'd have a piano one day and that I'd begin to play again.
In June when Kelsey moved in to our house, she brought with her a number of things (a Brita filter, a flat screen TV, and El Jefe, to name a few). She also came with a piano. Overnight, the house was filled with music again, though certainly more riddled with mistakes than before. But it didn't matter - I could play! I could learn!
Around the time that we acquired the piano, we noticed that when we weren't playing, the music was still wafting in the open windows. Except that in sharp contrast to my furrowed-brow finger plunking, this music was jazzier. Lighter. Better. Far, far better, in fact - a point that did not go unnoticed by our household, especially on a night like tonight when the air was still with anticipation (of more heat the following day, I'd imagine. Rather anticlimactic, but it is summer, after all). We planted ourselves on the porch so that we could better hear the music that seemed to be eddying around the upstairs condo across the street.
After the song ended, we clapped wildly in appreciation. There was silence. Then a blonde head poked through the sliding glass door and a guy around our age wandered warily onto his balcony. He looked down the street. We clapped again, and his eyes focused on our house. "Bravo!" We called across Obispo Ave.
"Thanks," he responded with a shrug. "What are you guys up to?"
"Listening to you!"
"I hope it's not bugging you..."
"That's why we're OUT here, man!"
He grinned and disappeared back inside. Soon the music began again, more freely than before. Louder too. We drank beers. Soon a trumpet started in.
What on earth?
He came back to the balcony. "Who was playing the trumpet?" We hollered.
"That was me," he smiled. "One hand on the trumpet, and the other--" he wriggled his fingers in the air.
"Do you want a beer?" Kelsey called out.
"Sure, I'll come over."
And so he introduced himself; Justin from Georgia. Completely self-taught, and oh yeah? All those songs? He was making them up as he went along. We sat in awe, our mouths agape. "I usually find that having music in front of me is more of a hindrance. It keeps me from being spontaneous. I just play whatever I want to."
I commented that I've never been able to play so freely, that I'd never been able to improvise.
"You should try it. I mean, if you're classically trained, it will be like teaching yourself all over again. It's a risk. But if you worked hard enough at it, I think you could do it."
"Maybe I'll try," I conceded.
And maybe someday, I will.
"I got it back, Mikey - the self confidence. I am a MAGICIAN!"
- Gob Bluth
In terms of history's fickle mistresses (fate, destiny, vending machine dollar slots), none plays so cruel a game as the most mercurial of them all: inspiration. One day it's there in spades, the next it can't be found. I've learned that with myself, inspiration comes in waves. Like most creative endeavors and industries, the framework around which a career is constructed is the idea of ebb & flow; feast & famine.
However, the unfortunate eddying of creative inspiration during times of oppressive busyness has always plagued me; when the rigors of work demand 100% of my attention, suddenly inspiration rears its alluring head. And when I am finally able to rest, to think, to create - inspiration's unsteady, faithless flight is a foregone conclusion. (But oh, how the stalwart and ever-present alliteration circles, ready and willing to descend and feast upon any sentence flowing from my fingertips. The same goes for puns and adjectives, my respective bread and butter.)
(Much to the utter chagrin of any reader who likes their points delivered in a neatly wrapped package of ascetic clarity. Mine, I'm afraid, are of the embarrassingly over-taped, ink-smudged, triple-stamped variety. A shame, really, because I'm quite sure Hemingway and I would have been INSTANT friends if not for this.)
Any boss I've ever worked under, I fear, has loathed me for this trait (inspiration under work-related duress, that is - not using too many superfluous adjectives); because though I might attempt to focus on the far more menial task at hand, the fact of the matter is that I just can't turn it off. My ideas often come to me in a deluge as varied and diverse as tchotchkes at a rummage sale - and it's all I can do to pluck each one from obscurity before it sails away from me forever. These creative outbursts cannot be harnessed or tamed; it's only my job to make sure to acknowledge them and do my part to see that they come to fruition. And so as an artist, as a creative person, my drive and my inspiration - my imagination, even - exist as a thing apart from myself. It's a partnership between two entities: I myself, and the external force of inspiration.
An idea has a very limited shelf life in my world, and when it hits me, I'm at its mercy. And so too the idea of inspiration as a fickle mistress (or mister, I suppose) haunts me when it is in hiding, or when it is off gracing another's addled mind with its presence. On days like today, weeks like this week, or seasons like this one - the dog days of Summer, wilting, lifeless - it's all I can do to muster enough creative energy to drum up a maudlin paragraph for a blog. Or consider how I might present myself to the world as a creative person in a season of life wherein I don't feel creative at all.
But nevertheless I prevail. Because I've had more than a few stops and starts in my life, and when it comes to many areas of my day to day living, I'm too accustomed to giving up than pressing on. This blog became an exercise of that discipline last year, in fact. I've kept this space for over four years now but my posting until last year was sporadic at best. I submitted myself to the capricious forces of Inspiration and too often felt it wasn't doing its job enough for me to do mine. But I chose, last year, to keep writing. To keep searching. To commit to something and to follow through, whether inspiration struck or not. And by the grace of God it's been a successful endeavor in that regard.
So now I'm turning that stern sense of self-will onto other areas of my creativity. Because now more than ever it matters what I do, what I don't do, and at the very least: what I try to do.
Here are a few photos I snapped this afternoon. I plucked this sunflower from the depths of obscurity this weekend (he was growing along the dirt, facing not the sun and sky, but, I suspect, eavesdropping on earthworms). I thought perhaps a little water would do the trick, but the glumflower is having none of it and has began weeping pollen onto the table.
Well, at least I tried.
On Saturday afternoon Ashley and I found ourselves in a secret garden of sorts - a section of the playground at the elementary school where her mother is a teacher, caged off and bursting at the seams with plant life. Each grade had a box and within that box they crammed the dirt with veggies and wildflowers, and with school out for the summer, no one was around to harvest the bounties of this schoolyard garden.
Enter: Ashley and Laurel!
In short, we cleaned up: Carrots, lettuce, sunflowers, squash, strawberries, onions, basil, dill, parsley, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, cucumber - on and on and on. It made for the perfect mid-summer dinner with friends.
Actually, a note on that before I continue -
Why so sweaty? Seriously, what is the deal? Every time I so much as lift a finger or God forbid, blink, I'm suddenly covered in a fine mist. I know it's late July and the temperature even in Long Beach is ever-climbing, but we have GOT to be a united front here, Face. You're sort of the billboard to the soul, and what you're advertising is that my soul is damp. And its pores are clogged.
So let's compromise, F. You stop sweating so much, and I won't loathe the very sight of you. Deal?
Anyway, later in the evening we had our second Cheap Wine & Self Portrait night, the results of which were hung on our 'Family Tree.'
All in all, a good weekend. Despite all the sweat.
I'll admit, it's hard for me to wake up in the morning because my bed is the most inviting, comfortable place on earth. But Ashley roused me from sleep this morning and we took a walk down to the ocean, which was still shrouded in fog at the early morning hour. It felt odd seeing the infinitesimal filaments rolling through the beachside neighborhoods - almost a little bit like Fall. But on the return home, the sun was at our backs and we remembered - Yeah, it's still July.
Good morning, world.
I know the blogging's been nil the past couple of days, and those who know me know full well the reasons why. Those who are casual readers of this blog or who haven't heard the news yet, I'll be cryptically clear: I'm out on my own now. The epic bromance between my former employer and I has ended, amicably (but who broke up with whom, isn't THAT the question we're all wondering!).
It's day three of being a free woman, and all I have to say about the whole debacle is: I feel fantastic. This new schedule is certainly agreeing with me, and as I sat on the front porch tuesday night with Jeff, sipping a Jameson 12 Year Reserve, I thought, "You know what? Why didn't I do this sooner? What was I waiting for? The time for living is NOW!" (And also, "My, this tastes like brown sugar and maple syrup and it's so burn-y and warm. I LOVE LIFE!")
(And also, "Slooooow down, Dailey.")
But that's neither here nor there.
I'm taking the rest of the week to give myself a break for once and to truly contemplate what life is going to look like now (I'll give you a hint: A lot more frugal. But with more posts about shoes.), but idleness for me isn't really all that still, so there's nevertheless been movement in The Plan, and one of the first things I'd like to introduce you to is my new work situation and my new office.
This is my office, with a corner view and LOVELY double French doors that open into the Client Meeting Area.
When I need a break, instead of stepping out for a cigarette, I stay in for a Sonatina.
And a hilarious joke. Which also communicates how Important I am as
CEO of The Laurel Dailey Professional Group.
So as you can see, things are happening over here at Laurel Dailey Enterprises. I'll fill you all in more as The Plan develops (give me a couple weeks), but suffice it to say: Expect great things.
Whew, I'm exhausted. Time for a trip to the Employee Break Room (i.e. Holé Molé)