“I Want To Stay Hopeful Even Though I Get Scared About Why We’re Alive At All” – Lana Del Ray

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And right now it’s probably the only thing that’s keeping me going. It’s been a rough couple of months, peppered with truly awesome sprinkles of pure joy, and release that have fueled me through the motions like some sort of beautiful fem-bot.

Before I venture of the topic of why this blog was created. I figured it’s worth mentioning that I hit my goal weight of 140 back on October 16th and this morning when I got on the scale I weighed 130.4. I don’t really want to lose any more weight considering I probably have like 10 to 15 pounds of loose skin that has to go. I’ve even had weeks where I ate like shit (as far as food choices) and got on the scale and still dropped two pounds expecting to have gained or maintained that week. If I get down to 125 I am going to call my doctor and see if they want to see me, because I am starting to feel like I am getting too thin.

Excuse my candidness if this post offends anyone but the only way I can get through the dark times is to try and make light of them. While the meds they put me on have helped me from wanting to slit my wrist on a moment to moment bases, I have certainly returned to the dark side in the last couple of weeks.

All I find myself wanting to do is lay in bed and listen to Lana Del Rey and pondering what the fuck it is I am doing with my life. While the medication has helped my mood it’s also made it really hard to create or do much because I have little to no energy. So then it makes me wondering if I am on the right path but when I try to think about what I would be if I wasn’t an artist my all my mind hears is crickets. So at the moment I am on auto pilot just trying to navigate this shit storm until I figure it out. Art is hard kids especially when you are in the middle of a creative block and your homework relies on your ability to create.

My saving grace this quarter has certainly been my creative concepts class. It’s taught by my favorite photography professor but we are allowed to use whatever medium we want. It’s been nice not to have to rely on photography for the whole class. The class works by all of us submitting 10 concepts at the beginning of the class and for each project everyone pulls one concept out of a bag. We then all vote until there’s only one concept left.  The way you determine if you passed the assignment or not is if 2/3rds of the class votes that your piece met the concept. There has been some really cool work presented in this class and I wish you could take it more than once.

For our concept “I can’t hear you” I decided to do a burlesque/pole routine. This truly is a non-scale victory for me in a couple of ways. I grew up my whole life hating watching videos of my performances because of my weight. For the first time in my life not only do I love watching this video I have watched it many times because I have a hard time believing it’s me lol.

I know this is probably another post that’s going to generate a lot of worry for some people who read it. It’s okay I weather the storm kids it’s just sometimes the water is fucking rough and I am prone to sea sickness so it hits me a little harder than others.

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“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wonder and observe, and my camera is my passport” – Steve McCurry

SnapKnot
Courtesy of: SnapKnot

Today is national camera day! What ever will I shoot in celebration?

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains the unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

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Floating off the coast of Orient Bay.

It’s been a rough 9 days adjusting back into my routine but I have finally stopped expecting to hear the ocean outside every door and window. I have been to Sint Maarten three time now and each time it gets harder and harder to come back.

Getting there leaves you feeling like you spent 24 hours raving in some sort of tubeular disco with babies and bad drugs since you often depart around midnight. It’s beyond worth it, there’s nothing like collapsing in a chaise on your balcony after two 4 hour flights and a 2 to 12 hour layover in someplace as unfortunate as the Ft Lauderdale airport to soak in this view.

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The View from our room at Oyster Bay Beach Resort

The flights and layovers this time around were fairly painless except for not being able to sleep on the red eye flight. US Airways has the shortest seat belts I have come across. I rarely ever need a seat belt extender and if I do it’s because it barely wont clip. The seat belts on all 4 flights were really short. It’s kind of nice to know that the next time I fly that I wont have to even think about if I will need an extender.

We rented a couple of cars and my mom, nephew and I ended up with a Toyota Yaris that had bad breaks, a transmission I was sure was going to go, and had no power which is kind of an issue on an island that is nothing but hills.

I was determined this trip to spend as much time in the water as possible and I am pretty sure I achieved my goal. I earned the nickname Baywatch from my sister because I kept having to save people in our party from drowning. The first of which was my poor mom in what was probably the funniest moment of the trip.

I bought an iPhone and Lifeproof case specifically to be able to film and take pictures in the water. As I was showing my mom a video I had taken we failed to notice that a pretty decent size wave was coming for us. Since I am considerably taller than my 5′ mom the wave slapped her in the face while I just stood on my tip toes to keep it out of mine.

We both start laughing and as I am cackling and yelling out to my sister “did you see mom get hit by that wave?” a second wave knocks her off balance causing me to laugh so hard no sound is coming out and I can barely breathe. All of us are dying laughing while I am trying to help her up another waive has knocked her to her knees and myself off balance, causing an effect similar to that of trying to pick up a greased watermelon out of the water. The next thing I know a waive has knocked her face first into the water and all I can think about is oh fuck how are we going to explain that we let mom drown in like 3 feet of water (my mom has Parkinson’s and her drowning was a big fear of everyones). At that point I just grabbed for whatever I could get a grip on which happened to be the straps of her swimsuit and I hoisted her out of the water like Mufasa raising Simba to the sun À la The Lion King.

My Mom was saved and we all laughed so hard our sides hurt. My sister was like all I see is you picking mom up by her swim suit and her little legs kicking trying to find the ground.

The island is surrounded by reef so everywhere you go you will likely run into fish or some other marine life. I was supposed to spend 4 or 5 days with Octopus Diving getting my PADI scuba certification and taking an underwater photography course. However because of my size my primary care doctor ordered a lung test and that test came back positive for Asthma which caused me not to pass the necessary physical. I didn’t want them to have to refund all of my money so I booked a snorkeling trip with them instead.

I showed up on Monday and the wonderful and kind owner Sally got me fitted for fins and a mask, and then sent me and 5 others off with JT our captain/guide for the afternoon.

Octopus Diving is on the French side of the island in Grande Case, and the water on the french side as we departed was clear and smooth. We took a short 5 minute ride out to Creole Rock which is a French nature reserve.

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The view leaving Octopus Diving

I couldn’t wait to get out in the water and jumped over the side of the boat into a cloud of colorful fish, and tiny little baby Jellyfish. Once I found out that they couldn’t sting I rather enjoyed swimming through them and looking at there iridescent veins that changed colors and sparkled in the sun.

The fish at Creole Rock

The fish at Creole Rock

We got to spend an over an hour at each location, and I could have spent all day at Creole Rock. I got super excited as I saw a Cuttlefish crawl out from some rocks and change colors to perfectly blend in with his surroundings I thought he was an Octopus at first but was informed otherwise by someone in our group. The water at Creole Rock is about 30 feet so I didn’t get a close look at him but it was still pretty cool to see him dramatically change colors.

The guy diving in the video was our guide JT and he was down there for forever before he had to come up for a breath. It was pretty impressive.

We went to Turtle Reef next which was about 10 minutes away from Creole Rock, 30 feet deep, and out in the middle of the current with nothing around. There were lots of fish here including a puffer. One person in our group saw a turtle but they were over 100 yards away from me when they called “TURTLE” so by the time I got over there he was gone.

The next day a handful of us went out to check out Le Galion which is considered the children’s beach because it’s barely enough water to float in for at least 100 yards off shore. It was mostly sea grass with clusters of rocks that housed tons of tiny little colorful fish. At one point I ended up being circled by 8″ yellow and blue fish (I thought I had gotten video but failed to notice I put my phone in the float backwards so all you could see was orange). It was a really cool area but it had tons of trash in the water which made me really sad.  I came really close to what I thought was a bigish sized jelly fish only to find when I calmed down that it was one of those cheap shower caps you get from a hotel.

Hands down my favorite day of the trip and possibly my favorite day ever was Wednesday when we chartered a 46′ catamaran with Private Yacht Charters called the Seaduction. My poor mom ended up sea sick with our first mate Toni taking care of her most of the day so we could get off the boat and enjoy the surroundings. We went to Creole Rock again which was fine by me since I knew the kids would get to see a lot of cool stuff there.

After that we were off to Penile Island. We had lunch on the boat and then our captain Johann took my Mom and nephew ashore to shop for souvenirs while we snorkeled the reefs. We saw a starfish and the kids saw a cluster of lobsters.

Next we were off to the place I had been looking forward to all day, the island of Tintamarre. We were told there was a 98% chance that we would see turtles and I was hoping this wasn’t just a sales pitch.

When we went to Turtle Reef JT told us to be ready when the boat stops because your most likely to see turtles when you first get there because they are curious about the boat, so before they could even pull the chain for the steps when we got to Tintamarre I had my flippers and mask on ready to go.

As I jumped in I was radiating the thought come to me my turtle friends swim with me! Over and over again. We hadn’t been in the water for more than 5 minutes when we saw the first one. I had just started running film on a stingray I had found when Chris yelled turtle. I paddled as quickly as I could. Tjhe water was probably 50 to 60 feet deep so he looked like a rock with flippers. As everyone else in our group made it over to where we were the turtle began to surface and I had to try not to bump into him he got so close to Ty and I before he took off away from us.

Coming up for some air.

Coming up for some air.

We saw at least 4 or 5 more turtles. At one point I could see three at once. Then I shot two of the most amazing things I have ever captured. I hung out over two different turtles for 15 minutes each with my finger on the shutter button waiting for them to surface and praying for the right light and angles. As I was swimming after these fantastic creatures I had one of the moments you swear is a dream.

After about an hour I reluctantly swam back in so we could make the journey back to our harbor and the rest of the night was spent riding the high of that experience.

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The quote I used for this blog really reminds me of the refection I did while I was there, and how I have changed since the first time I visited the island. Three years ago I was deep into a heavy dance regimen for the first time in years, bored  with the job I was in, but otherwise feeling alive again for the first time in a long time. Last year I went alone, was unemployed, terrified and unsure what the future held, and not really sure of my worth to society because I had been defined by my job for so long. I came this year on the edge of a giant cliff of change, looking back at how much I have grown, and pleasantly pondering how I will have changed by the next time I return.

I apologize for the super long travel post but I figured since they are off topic of the main theme of the blog I figured I would just make them one long blog per trip so those uninterested can easily skip over it. The next post will be back to our same bat time same bat station.

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in 5 years.” – Tom Wolfe

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Hold on to your seat kids because this is a kind of long one. New York feels forever a way now that I look back at it but it really hasn’t been. My sister, our friend Beth and myself went because Beth was on the Today show for this segment on body image during Love Your Selfie Week.

The trip started off a little rough do to my own stupidity in decision making the previous evening that resulted in a special little hell I created for myself for the day we left. I could leave this part of the story out but it only added to the adventure.

I love drag queens and the night before we left to New York City Carmen Carrera, Phi Phi O’Hara, and Shanel were coming to Nina Flowers Drag Nation here in Denver. My friends and I love RuPaul’s Drag Race and opting for table service for our group is usually a cheaper option than buying drinks when queens from the show are performing. Let me preface this by saying I rarely drink enough to actually get drunk. If I drink I will normally stop after a few because my body seeks violent revenge the next day if I drink enough to be hung over.

Carmen Carrera

Carmen Carrera

That being said somewhere between only getting 2 drinks out of our first bottle and saying yeah lets get a second bottle (even though we only have 5 people) and the end of the show (which wasn’t very long maybe an hour) I got shit show drunk. Which resulted in me falling asleep in my friends shower after sitting under the water for hours because it was the only thing keeping me from purging my soul along with the cranberry vodkas that won that night.

I  awoke to sunlight and birds and started freaking out because I had no clue if I missed my flight, or how long I had to get home and pack. Turns out it was only 6am so I gathered my friends and I had to have one of them drive home because I felt like I was going to die. I proceeded to vomit as if I was expelling demons all the way home from Denver. After hitting snooze until I could no longer avoid what would come out if I sat up, I had to pack 15 minutes before we had to leave for the airport and then proceeded to dry heave all the way there. I had to ask TSA for a trash bag because I wasn’t sure I could survive the train ride to concourse C without heaving on the train (but I did) all they had was a 50 gallon trash bag but it was better than what might happen without it.  So needless to say I was in rare flying condition that day. I managed to not get sick on the plane, but couldn’t even stomach ginger ale I was  in such bad shape. I finally was able to hold down some 7up (yup I broke down and had soda I felt so shitty) and half a slice of pizza at like 11pm.

Overall we had a lot of fun on the trip even though there were some bumps in our room reservation, and the fact that we didn’t actually see a whole lot. We under estimated how long it would take to get around on the double decker buses (we figured buying an unlimited pass on that for a few days would be a good way to see and hear about the city on route to places).

I love how ornate all of the buildings in NYC are. There was something to look at everywhere you looked and the double decker bus really allowed for you to get a close look at some of the beautiful art that covers the buildings there.

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We walked around site seeing and did a carriage ride through central park on our first day. On our way back we got on the same loop for our bus that took us to Central Park because we figured it would just loop around and go back to Rockefeller Center which is where we were staying and the first stop on the loop. After the Time Square stop they announced that everyone should get off at this stop. Well we thought oh that’s because it’s the last stop but we should be able to stay on to go back to the beginning.

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Boy were we wrong about that one. The guide come back up top and it took him a minute to notice there were people up here and they shouldn’t be. When he does notice he jumps in the air and proclaims “holy shit, you scared the crap out of me”. He immediately starts freaking out and yelling for the bus to stop. It turns out that this bus had to go through a tunnel to go do another loop and if we would have stayed on we could have been decapitated if we wouldn’t have dropped down on the floor.  We couldn’t stop laughing we thought it was pretty hilarious.

The bus tour shortly before our near death experience

The bus tour shortly before our near death experience

 

We spent the next day wondering around the city, and battery park so we could see the Statute of Liberty (from a far) and Ground Zero. On the way back to Rockefeller Center I had once of the most humiliating and infuriating experiences of my life. It was pretty chilly while we were out there, and well we brought warm clothes we really needed a decent coat to sit on the top of the bus. On our way back we decided we would sit inside the bus because it was cold and crowded up top. My sister and Beth had sat on a row of seats that had three seats and they left the middle one open, and I sat across from them in a two seat.  When we got to the next stop a number of people got on and this girl sat next to me and her friend had to go sit next to a stranger further back so I offered to go sit with Beth and Monica so they could sit together. I looked at the spot between them and since we are 3 larger ladies I wasn’t sure if we we would all fit but we did.

A couple of stops later this European couple got off that had been sitting a row or two behind us and I can just feel Beth and Monica’s blood start to boil. As soon as they exit my sister tells me I should have tripped them. I missed what happened but apparently the second I sat down (I was ahead of Beth and Monica so they would have been walking towards them as my back was turned) they started laughing and whispering in my direction. Then when I got up and was like we all fit they started cracking up and were like leave it up to the Americans.

I was so furious I wanted to jump off the bus and unleash a few choice words on them. To quote Allson Rosens segment where people write in about jerks, “Go fuck yourselves”.  I have never been picked on because of my size, if anybody has ever made fun of me for being fat it’s never been to my face, so for two random people I don’t even know to be such dicks infuriated me.

Even though this has never happened before it’s something I have always feared. It has something has held me back and has caused social anxiety and kept me from doing things when I am having off days because I don’t want to be the target for someones hate when I haven’t done anything to them.

It’s made me terrified to audition and interview for things because I am afraid they will only see me for my size and not for what I can offer. It’s kept men from openly dating me (and resulted in me leaving) because they are afraid of being made fun of by their friends for dating a fat girl. I just don’t get why it’s  socially acceptable to be so cruel to people. Do people realize that it makes people so terrified of being humiliated that it makes the petrified to be able to even walk into a gym or studio (or even outside to walk or ride a bike) to make a change because they feel like the are damned either way?

We didn’t let it ruin our trip and the next day flew by with our visit to the Today show, Lunch, and then heading to the airport. I loved NYC and didn’t really cross anything off my list but NYC cheesecake and the carriage ride so I will certainly be back at some point.