Tag Archives: wishing for photogeneity

A bolt from the blue (or the yellow) (or the green)

Oldest Friend hired a professional photographer to document her birthday ball last month, and she’s spent this week posting the photos on her facebook account. I looked through them, happy to see so many of her having a good time, remembering what a good time I had, and honing a critical eye on the job the photographer did of capturing the evening. Luckily, I think he did a fantastic job, especially considering how dimly-lit everything was.

Unfortunately, I found virtually every photo I was in (and I was in a lot!) to be unflattering in the extreme. One of them actually made me wince when it popped up on my screen. I thought I’d looked good in the dress, in the heels, with my hair curled and my makeup done and my dead grandma gloves, but damn did I look terrible in that photo. It may very well be the most unattractive photo of me in existence.

I was chatting with Oldest Friend about it the other night, and chatting about my current gym habits and eating habits. I told her about the swearing off of chocolate at work, and about how much I’m working out these days (a lot, especially with the snowshoeing we’ve done on the weekends). I told her about how the only ways I seem to be able to lose weight are a) exercise compulsively and obsess about what I eat, which is what I did to lose weight for my high school reunion in 2006, and b) travel to another part of the world and spend a few weeks walking around (I lost probably 10 pounds in 3 weeks when we went to China, and even lost a few pounds when we were in Italy last January despite the weather).

Oldest Friend, being even more into fitness and health and exercise than I am, she of the Iron Man finish last August and multiple triathalons a year, she who posts daily about her 30 and 60 mile bike rides and her training runs as FB status updates, said to me that it’s possible I’m working out too hard.

(cue sound of record scratching)

Whuh? was my initial response.

Yeah, she told me. Some bodies are more likely to lose weight when doing long periods of low-intensity exercise, rather than shorter periods of high intensity exercise. Do you have a heart monitor? she asked.


Thinking about it though, it kind of makes sense. If I’m walking around for 5 or 7 hours a day, for a couple of weeks, I lose weight without even trying. I can eat whatever I feel like eating (and our eating habits in China weren’t great; lots of processed white flour stuff, lots of oil, and lots of sugar and not enough fresh veggies; because of the risk of hepatitis, all veggies we ate the whole trip were cooked), and I still lose weight. I’m not thinking about it, not trying to do anything except enjoy myself, and I lose weight. Every time.


I live in a world where I earn my keep by sitting on my butt for 8 hours a day in front of my computer. I don’t have time to walk for five hours every day. And what kind of exercise do I do in my daily life? Without fail, it’s usually high-intensity stuff because of the limited amount of time I have in a day to exercise. I walk to and from work, which is relatively low-intensity, but that’s only 15 minutes in each direction. I take the stairs at work sometimes. At the gym, I don’t feel like I’m doing much unless my heart rate is up – bike, treadmill, elliptical, strider, weights class, cardio/weights class, all of them get my heart rate up pretty high, according to the machine heart rate monitors. I live at a reasonably high altitude, and my heart rate is usually somewhere between 160 and 180 for the majority of the time I’m exercising. As soon as I’m finished, however, it goes back down to my resting rate in a very short period of time – which leads me to believe my cardiovascular fitness is excellent. (Also a good sign: I can do snowshoe hikes uphill for hours at very high altitudes.)(The corollary to this is that when we go down to sea level I have to work like crazy to get my heart rate above 140. It’s seriously difficult.)

But honestly, I don’t do a lot of low-intensity stuff. The pools around here are mostly outdoor (and therefore not open this time of year). I haven’t done much bike riding, again because of the season/weather. I don’t do a lot of weight lifting outside my classes because I feel like weights twice a week is enough since I’m not looking to bulk up any more. I haven’t been doing yoga anymore because every time I do it my neck hurts for days afterward. So what can I do?

I’m going to try some new classes at the gym, probably add a few pilates classes since the pilates instructor I like came back. I’m going to try some spin classes, where I can control the amount of difficulty. I’m going to cultivate the habit of walking for an hour or so after work now that it’s light so late into the evening. (YAY!) And this weekend, I’m going to buy a heart monitor, and I’m going to do what Oldest Friend suggested – spend a month doing only (or mostly, I’m not giving up my cardio weights class!) low-impact activity and see what that does to this body of mine.

This is what I looked like when I was 22. A friend of mine posted this photo for me today, and I’m glad he did, glad someone caught an image of what I looked like back then. I didn’t appreciate the body or the health I had then, and I probably don’t appreciate the body I have now as much as I should. But I’m glad that body was captured for posterity, and here it is for the world to see. I’ll probably never look that good again, but that’s OK, I’m not 22 anymore. (Also, I prefer being a c-cup to an a-cup). I do think I can look better than I did at the birthday ball, though.


Good things come

a. I am feeling much better today neckwise. I hope this is a permanent and not a temporary thing.

b. Last night, I got that much closer to finishing Wombat’s blanket.

c. Also, I made a successful brand new dinner (ie, made something I’d never made before): wild rice pilaf with turkey kielbasa and sauteed mushrooms, and I baked 2 halves of a golden acorn squash with brown sugar and butter. Super yummy!

d. Next week I get to see Leah and Simon, and Oldest Friend, and Scarlett, and spend time with my family, and spend time with Dan’s family, and go to H&M, and go to Trader Joe’s, and get a Specialty’s cookie (the best cookies in the whole wide world), and go to Berkeley Bowl. And I don’t have to do anything related to weddings.

e. A friend of a friend wants me to help with her wedding flowers (I offered before) and this has me very excited.

f. And I got my hairs cut today, finally! What do you all think? (It’s not the most flattering photo (hello, bad skin in fluorescent light!), but you can kinda see the layers).

Food on Friday: Lazy ass edition

This has been a really tough week for me. I’m still not over the trip to Philly (in terms of body clock resetting and catching up on sleep) and I’ve had a very stressful few days of planning my fall trainings, conducting four-hour meetings, and hearing bad news (my counterpart at the other agency who runs the program with me is leaving her job immediately after we finish our trainings in early November – which is just about the worst time she could possibly do that. I’m happy for her, but at the same time – argh!). I left work early yesterday in order to take a nap, and just as I was falling asleep the landlord called asking if I would be home so he could retrieve his forgotten keys. Needless to say the nap never happened. Thankfully, we have seen the last of our rotten upstairs neighbors (a long story) and new ones moved in last night. Let’s hope they’re a bit better than the last ones.

Also, Adina posted what may be the most awesome photo of me in existence. My only excuse is the 3 drinks and sushi I had in her company.

So: food.

Monday, I reheated a delicious salmon chowder Dan made Sunday night in honor of our six monthaversary.

Tuesday, I made burritos. Granted, I did a little twist and cooked up some summer squash with the onions and peppers and ground turkey, and seasoned it with taco seasoning (and kept the beans separate). But still: burritos.

Wednesday, Dan made split pea soup in the crock pot so I didn’t have to do anything except fish out the bay leaves and puree it a bit with the hand blender. I did make corn muffins to go with, though.

Thursday I had thought ahead and pulled a chicken boob out of the freezer in the morning. When I got home, I defrosted it in some cold water, and eventually I sat in front of the refrigerator trying to figure out what to do with it. We had some green beans that needed et, and I was really craving mashed potatoes. And mushrooms.

This is what I came up with:

Balsamic chicken and mushrooms over mashed potatoes with steamed green beans

1/2 chicken boob, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 or 7 mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces (skins left on)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
splashes nonfat milk
1 tbsp butter
3/4 pound green beans
balsamic vinegar
garlic powder
lemon pepper

Chop up chicken, mushrooms, and onion. In a large nonstick skillet, heat a dollop of olive oil and add onions over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally (letting the onions carmelize a little). Chop potatoes and peel garlic; add both to pot of hot water and cover to boil. When onions have are soft and starting to carmelize, add chicken and a splash or two of balsamic vinegar. Season with some garlic powder. Stir/toss to coat chicken and cook over medium heat. When chicken is nearly done, add mushrooms. Trim ends from green beans, chop into 1 1/2 inch pieces, and steam, adding a little lemon pepper if you like. Poke potatoes with a fork. If they are softish, drain water and add milk and butter; mash. When chicken and mushrooms are cooked and green beens are crisp-tender, turn everything off. Spoon some mashed potatoes onto a plate; top with chicken/mushroom mixture. Serve green beans on the side.

I don’t know what to call this thing but it turned out SO GOOD. I only used a few ingredients but everything turned out delicious. Next time I might let the onions carmelize a little more but I was in a hurry.

I am someone who

…very rarely looks good in photographs, and thanks the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the guy who photographed her wedding managed to make her look at least OK.

…is afraid of change sometimes.

…if asked to choose a beverage, will nearly always choose water.

…mourns each season in its passing.

…eats when she is bored sometimes.

…misses friends even when they are no longer friends anymore.

…feels a little nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

…wants to have adventures.

…loves meeting new people.

…thinks the sensation of chewing on tin foil is about the worst thing ever.

…hopes with quiet desperation for one presidential candidate to be elected rather than the other, if for nothing else then for the decisions and laws that could affect her future children.

…wonders how women pre-Jane Fonda and Title 9 stayed so thin.

…secretly wants to grab people’s asses, like, all the time.

…re-reads books over and over because she considers them to be old friends.

…has always been afraid of getting older.

…is getting a little stuck for ideas on how to use the bumper crops of Italian and Thai basil in the garden.

…needs at least one great big hug every day.

Reasons Fridays are good

At least, this particular Friday.

1. I am wearing jeans at work. I enjoy this immensely.

2. Hardly anybody is here.

3. We’ve got some good stuff going on this weekend that I can’t wait for!

4. Best of all, the photographer has finished putting up the proofs. If you’d like to see them, go here, click on proofing, enter the password (stryker), and click on the different galleries. We have to pick a bunch to go in our album, so if you see any that strike your fancies, let me know! I really could not be happier with what we got from our photographer, especially since this is only the second wedding he’s ever shot on his own (and the first where it isn’t good friends he already knew getting married!) Not every shot is great, but there are a whole lot of really good ones. Hooray! (Warning: music, so turn off the sound if you’re somewhere that might be an issue!)

Friday: Miles to go before I sleep

Friday morning as Oldest Friend came back I realized I wasn’t going to be able to sleep anymore. OF, Leah, and I went to a cafe a few blocks away and ate pie (me) and drank tea (OF and Leah), and it was really the only moment of relaxation I had all day (and would have for the next three). The apple pie was really good, and I felt much better after I’d eaten.

I had made a list of things that needed to be done on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Here was my list for Friday:

Get flowers and lemons from Leah and Simon
Shopping for house at Costco
Haul flowers & decorations & luggage & wine & drinks from mom’s house to rental house
Make corsages, bouts, and bouquets
Decorate club, set up tables
Pick up linens from caterer
Pick up cake
Construct ceremony thingy (this didn’t end up happening)
Make lemonade (didn’t happen until Saturday after the wedding)
Hem QIR & Laurel’s dresses ( my mom ended up doing this)

Leah drove back to the East Bay and OF and I went to Union Street because she wanted to find a necklace to replace one she’d bought a few months before and lost. The GPS she’d brought was interesting, something I’d never before used or encountered, but it got us to where we needed to go. The shops on Union street were all closed, but we happened upon the right shop (she couldn’t remember which one, only that it had a black and white awning) just at the shop-running people arrived. Being Oldest Friend, she managed to convince them to sell her two versions of the necklace (one in gold and one in silver) a full hour before their shop officially opened. As we walked back to the car, we passed by a flower stand and they had the yellow roses needed for the bouts, plus the white daisies I’d wanted. Total bill for all flowers: $72. Plus a few bucks for wire, tape, ribbon, and pins. Sweet!

OF and I used the trusty GPS to get us over to Simon and Leah’s house, where we picked some greenery and a few flowers (they brought up a tub of callas later, plus a bunch of lemons) and poured a hungover Dan into the car. We headed over to QIR’s place, where we added both QIR’s dress and QIR to the load. From there, we headed north, significantly later than I would have liked, and we stopped at the Costco and Target in Novato to get the food for the afterparty and to have stocked at the house (breakfast stuff, snacks, etc.) I was pretty exhausted and overwhelmed by this point with the huge list of stuff still to do, and at 1 PMish we were eating slices of pizza in the Costco parking lot to fortify us, thanks to QIR’s thinking ahead. I was really nervous about how in the world we’d be able to add the linens and the cakes to the load and manage to fit everything, so OF called her parents (who had recommended the bakery to us), and they offered to pick up the cake and bring it to the club. OF also called the bakery and gave them our credit card info over the phone so it was all paid for.

After a quick stop in Petaluma at the caterer’s to get the linens, we were finally ready to complete the journey. My mom called at some point to let me know she was unexpectedly entertaining some of our out-of-town guests, and they were at her house and wanted to know what they could do to help. Our wine, water, flowers, decorations, and some other stuff were all still at her house, so I said they could pack up a vehicle or two and drive the stuff up to the club and meet us there. So they did, which was a huge help and saved us a trip. When we arrived, my mom took QIR and her dress (which still needed to be hemmed, and, despite opinions to the contrary, was not only possible to hem, but my mom managed it with a minimum of fuss. Thanks, mom!), and Dan went to my mom’s to pick up our luggage, toiletries, and an assortment of other things that needed to go up (like the signs). Left at the club were myself and Oldest Friend, and we hunkered right down and started in on the flowers.

It was raining when we got up north, incidentally. It rained, and then it rained some more, which is precicely what the weather report we’d been watching all week had said it would do. The tent people still hadn’t put up the tent (and they didn’t actually get it up until about 5:30 PM, and by the time they did everything was soaked). OF and I looked at the buckets of flowers we had available (seriously, we had waaaaaay more than we needed) and she got to work on her own bouquet and started arranging flowers in my mom’s mason jars and some smaller vases we had, while I took the various flowers out of their plastic wrappings and rubber bands, and arranged bouquets for QIR and my sisters. I set aside the flowers I wanted for my own bouquet but knew I wouldn’t be able to make it until the next morning, because there were some specific wildflowers blooming in the area that have personal significance to me (lupines) and they wouldn’t last overnight.

I managed to get flowers from my mom’s yard into each of the bouquets, and added as needed. Lissa’s bouquet was a paler palette, and Laurel’s was all bright colors, while QIR’s was a mix of both. Oldest Friend made her own bouquet – I can’t really remember exactly what was in hers, only that it was (of course) beautiful and she took the time to wire up some leaves and made it look really pretty. We both worked on the mason jar flowers, adding as they looked like they needed, and everything turned out pretty much exactly how I wanted it to – a mix of colors and textures, looking like everything was fresh-picked from the garden. Hooray!

Four bridesmaid bouquets plus six corsages

It got later, and the tent people finally showed up. Dan returned with a bunch of what was needed from the house, QIR in tow. Finally, people started to arrive (we’d asked people to show up around 5 PM to do the rehearsal and several people said they’d come earlier to help) and we discovered that there was some extra terrible, hours-long traffic going through Santa Rosa that everyone had to deal with – so everyone was late. Someone told me at some point that they’d heard there were six accidents! And of course, my cell phone didn’t function or have any signal at the club, so there was no way anyone could let me know. Leah and Simon arrived with Holla and The Lovely Katherine, EEK and her paramour arrived a bit confuzzled, and my sisters arrived with their significant others. Finally, everyone was there, and everyone was doing things like decorating inside the club with our cranes, lanterns, and tissue paper pompoms.

Dan and I left briefly to take much needed showers (I think it was one of my shortest showers on record) and to change into nicer clothing. While we were gone, people did more decorating and arranging of things, but unfortunately someone made an incorrect assumption and they did a lot more work than they needed to, as the tables we were using (and were to be put under the tent) were NOT the wooden picnic tables but instead some folding tables in a locked cupboard. When Dan and I returned, we were able to set things straight, and with so many people the picnic tables were removed from the tent and the correct tables brought out, unfolded, and arranged according to the schematic Dan and I had determined earlier in the week. Due to the size and space issues, not to mention the “who shouldn’t sit near whom” issues, our table arrangement was a little funky. Luckily, it went quickly. I just feel bad that Lissa twisted her ankle helping move the picnic tables that didn’t need to be moved in the first place.

Finally, we were able to do a quick run-through of the ceremony, with Dan and I directing how things would go, and EEK (being our officiant) asking questions. Other people asked questions, too. We got almost everything figured out and then Scarlett and her boyfriend showed up (she was one of the readers, still looking a little green) so we were able to let her know what was going to happen and when. Laurel’s boyfriend volunteered to push the button on the laptop to start and stop the processional and recessional (thanks, Laurel’s boyfriend!) and things pretty much all got figured out. Dan and I let people know we planned to roshambo to decide who would get to say vows first (we wrote our own, and didn’t know what the other would say beforehand). I gave everyone a copy of the program. We all piled into various cars, some of which headed straight for the rehearsal dinner and others of which made a pitstop along the way. I rode with Scarlett, her boyfriend, and Oldest Friend. Both Scarlett and I changed and/or removed clothing during the drive, which amused her boyfriend greatly. (I was wearing a dress over jeans, and I took off the jeans when we got there). I dudn’t have time to put on any makeup and thought I looked pretty terrible, but luckily the lighting at the dinner was dim.

We arrived at the restaurant where Dan’s parents organized a fabulous rehearsal dinner (with delicious menu, wine, and more flowers) and greeted everyone and talked to everyone and waited for the rest of the crew to show up. Finally, everyone was there, and it was time to choose our meals and eat and toast and do all the things that people do at rehearsal dinners. Dan’s aunt and uncle had some of the images from our invitation printed on coffee mugs (what a cool gift!) and toasted us a bit. Dan’s dad gave a toast, and so did Dan, and so did my mom’s cousin from Beijing. Everyone enjoyed the meal and the fabulous dessert, and little by little people left. I tried really hard to stay in the moment and enjoy the party, but I was focused on what still needed to be finished. We left while quite a few people were still there, because there was still so much to be done back at the club. Because of the rain, the decorating couldn’t really be done in the tent (it was too wet) and I still had to finish the bouts and corsages.

Luckily, despite everyone’s exhaustion and earlier assistance, QIR, Simon, and Leah came back to the club to help us finish some of the things that needed finishing after I’d changed clothes. Oldest Friend joined us a little while later, feeling a bit run-down (she’s been seriously ill a few weeks before and was still recovering). “You have me for 45 minutes,” she announced. QIR got to work on the bouts, while I made the corsages. Everyone else helped finish the interior decorating. I gave Leah some instructions for the next day, knowing that a few people would be coming up early to help in the morning and would need direction that she could provide. It was nearly midnight and I was about to fall over, so Leah and Simon drove me up to OF’s parents’ house and Dan bid me goodnight, our last kiss as an unmarried couple.

It’s possible that more people were there to help late that night. I honestly can’t remember, I was so tired. If you were there and I didn’t mention you, sorry.

I lay in the downstairs bedroom at OF’s parents’ house, unable to sleep because my brain wouldn’t shut off, even though I’d taken a benadryl for my face. I’d given Oldest Friend instructions to wake me up at 7 AM. I was cold, couldn’t find an extra blanket (though I found in the morning that there was one), and put on my sweater. I must have slept, finally, at some point, but I can’t even remember if I had any dreams. All I know is that everything that still needed doing was running through my head.

Thanks again to Leah for the photos. More prep photos here.

Yes Foto

I’ve never liked having my picture taken. In fact, I find it to be kind of a weird phenomenon, having someone point a machine at me and produce an image that I rarely find to be representative of what I think I look like (or at least, what the mirror tells me). I was a cute kid, and kind of a weird-looking teenager, and since then I’ve hardly had my picture taken at all. In fact, I never even had senior portraits taken, mostly because I was embarassed about my skin.

My skin’s mostly better these days, but it’s still blotchy and uneven, and I rarely wear makeup because it’s so sensitive. I knew, though, that I would need to figure out something makeup-wise for the wedding because I would be having my picture taken all day long, a prospect that fills me with a little bit of dread. And I want those photos to look good, because it’s probably the only time in my life I’ll be paying someone to take photos of me (and Dan, of course, but he always looks good).

One of the other things about the California part of our recent month-away-from-home that I really stressed about was the engagement shoot. Though it might seem like somewhat of a narcissistic or unnecessary add-on to a pretty low-key and low-budget wedding, I really wanted to do it so I would have a chance to get used to having someone point a camera at me for an extended period of time (read: more than one snapshot). While I had every confidence in our photographer to capture great photos of other people (having seen his work), I was really nervous that I would hate the way I looked in the photos he took, because it’s just how I usually react. I don’t think I’m at all photogenic, and a while ago I just resigned myself to never looking good in pictures. But I wanted to look good in these pictures!

Luckily, the day we picked to take photos in San Francisco was one of the most beautiful days I’ve ever seen (there), not to mention it was late December. We had an appointment to meet at 2 PM at Baker Beach, and we were a few minutes late because I got us lost trying to navigate through the Presidio. Our photographer got there really early because he wanted to scout out the area, and I guess he felt bad for being so late when we met with him before (that wasn’t his fault; it was horrible traffic in both directions). He found some really neat places to shoot, and after about 5 minutes I was completely comfortable with just playing on the beach, holding Dan’s hand, and enjoying the gorgeous day. It was warm and sunny, with hardly any breeze. The colors were crisp and clear, very difficult to come by any day of the year on a San Francisco beach. We got really lucky that the day was so pretty, and I am thrilled that we had such a good time working with the photographer. I feel much better about the prospect of having my picture taken all day long now.

Yesterday, the photographer sent me an email with the link to our photos. I really wanted to put it up on the blog immediately, but Dan wasn’t home until about 7 PM last night and I wanted him to get to see them first. After seeing these pictures, I am so glad that we decided to go with the photographer we picked – I think he’s really talented, and I think we’re getting a fantastic deal – but I’m also thrilled that he’s so good at making us both feel comfortable around the camera(s). And I could not be happier with the results of the engagement shoot.

Which ones do you guys like best?