Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I started my annual ritual of deep cleaning the apartment. I do it every spring, and I am feeling especially hardcore this year probably because our apartment looks like a disaster area (my fault). Yesterday, I emptied out all of my kitchen cabinets, scrubbed them, threw old food in the trash and filled the cabinets back up nice and neatly.

While all my glass cups were sitting on my counter, I thought, "Oh, I like how they are reflecting the light" and then I paused mid-cleaning to play with my camera a bit.

Dan was a little disappointed when he found out what my picture of the day was.

"Cups? From our home?" he said, stifling a yawn.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, I explained to him. I don't have to leave our apartment to take good pictures.

He doesn't believe me.

Maybe it is boring, but at least I had fun with it--right?

Day 12, 4/29/10

Not bad after one lesson!

Next stop: Dancing with the Stars!
Video by my sister Annette

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crocheted Bike

Dan's friends Brad and Holly from San Francisco are in NYC for a business trip, so yesterday we met up for dinner. We were also joined by Phil, one of Dan's friends who lives in the city, but whom I only met once before.

While I tend to make friends one by one, Dan collects his friends in groups. So we have all these different circles of friends: the Visalia friends, the LA friends, the poker people, and of course, the Jacksons circle (members of each group have also become my friends through the years). Brad and Phil are part of the Visalia contingent, the group we see the least, but I feel like I know them because Dan talks about them often. They are all super nice people. I especially feel a kinship to Brad's wife, Holly, who I feel like I could talk with for hours.

Phil suggested that we meet up at Freemans which is the kind of cool NYC restaurant Dan and I don't frequent enough. Meaning it's one of those hip places where on a Wednesday night at 8:30 pm, there is still an hour wait, and when we finally finished our meal around 11:30 pm, the place was still buzzing and packed. Still, it was definitely worth it, especially with friends. The restaurant is hidden down this random graffiti colored alley way, and is decorated with strange taxidermy animals but it has this really cool home-y glow and feel. The food is quite decent as well, so it all makes sense why it's so popular.

Phil, Dan, Brad and Holly in Freeman Alley.

My pic of the day. Day 12, 4/28/10.

After dinner, Dan made us walk a few blocks to check out this crochet wrapped bike that he saw on the way to the restaurant. Dan grabbed my camera and took maybe 25 pictures of this bike. He was obsessed. Here's his best one, in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tourists at Rockefeller Center - Take 2

Day 11, 4/27/10

There is something about this photo that makes me laugh. They just look so miserable, all alone in the sunlight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Day 10: 4/26/10

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kitchen Aid Mixer Bowl

Day 9: 4/25/10

Girls Night Out!

This past Saturday night, I celebrated my last days of being single at my bachelorette party!

The night kicked off at Tia Pol, a tiny tapas restaurant in Chelsea. We sat in the back room and ate amazing Spanish food with sangria that wouldn't stop flowing. Heather made cute little rose hair pins for all of us to wear. The centerpiece was a flowered-filled bowl of the yellow KitchenAid mixer everyone got for me (My dream of owning a KA finally has come true!) And then there was the lingerie rack. Everyone got me a piece of lingerie, inscribed some marriage advice on a tag attached and I had to guess who got me what. I was horrible at guessing, but I loved this piece of advice: "If you ever get so mad you want to say something you might regret, just flip the bird!" Guess who said that? I told you it was hard!

Me, Michele and my sister Annette

Heather and Kim

Flowers and the lingerie rack. (Picture by Heather)

We then headed to midtown to
Piel Canela for some private salsa lessons with Joe. The dancing school was located in this random office building, but when we walked in, it was like the scene in Dirty Dancing where everyone is dancing all sexy and crazy. It felt completely surreal. I never knew this kind of place even existed! Joe took us to a dance studio away from the madness where we learned some basic salsa moves. When the lesson was over, we urged Joe to show us some of his best moves. He grabbed me as his dance partner and we had some spicy dancing in front on the girls! Afterwards we hit the dance party and watched everyone go in circles around us. Some professionals performed with their students and we even saw a belly dancer!

Meagan and Julie in the cab.

Five, six, seven, eight... (Picture by Heather)

Shake those hips. (Picture by Heather)

Hot stuff! (Picture by Heather)

For our last call, we headed to Stout for "just one more drink!" People started to trickle out, but as for me, one drink led to many more until it was just Kim, Kayleen, Nell and me left. Dan and Julien, who had their own little party of rock band and shots at the apartment, came to join us, and that's when we downed some Jager bombs (Dan drank half of mine) and we devoured gross amounts of french fries and macaroni and cheese and onion rings. The whole scene reminded me of my first years in New York...the single years.

Kayleen shows Julien her new salsa moves.

Dan and me at the end of the night.

By the time we got home it was 3am! I can't remember the last time we partied like this. It was definitely a night to remember!

I want to say a huge thank you to Heather and Annette who planned this awesome party. They really went above and beyond, especially Heather, to make this a special night for me. I really loved every minute of it and appreciate all that you did for me.

The day after. You would think it was his party and not mine.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Dancing Shoes

Day 8: 4.24.10
Heading to my bachelorette party.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Day 7: 4.23.10

Friday, April 23, 2010


I promise that I am not turning The Ham into a photography blog, however, I am really excited about the 365 Project, so bear with me. You know you can follow my pictures here. Our group of budding photographers has expanded, so if you would like to follow everyone along, here are the links for Nell, Emily, Courtney and Bryn. (And if you are reading this and secretly hankering to join us, let me know).

Now, a few weeks ago, before this photo-a-day madness consumed my life, Dan and I went to see Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at MOMA. In case you don't know, he's practically the founding father of modern photography. I was first introduced to his work in journalism school. Then I saw this wonderful photography exhibit in Croatia, and since then I have gotten his photography books from the library and studied his shots. It was exciting to see his prints in person despite the annoying museum crowds.

His whole thing is "the decisive moment" which he defined as "the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression." I love this style of photography because everything looks so natural and candid, and yet the composition is so beautifully put together as if it were a painting. He makes it look so easy:

Here, everyone is staggered just so. The entire boat is in view. Look at that pretty shadow the boat is making in the water. The guy's pouring the wine. The lighting is beautiful. Everyone is wearing white which contrasts everything else so nicely. This looks like a Renoir painting to me. Also, it's like if he took the picture one second later, it wouldn't have been just right. Someone would have moved their arm or the wine would have spilled or something. He caught it at just right the moment.

I, on the other hand, am not so good at the decisive moment. I try, I really do. Sometimes I think I see it, but I get too excited. I fumble with my camera. I miss it a second too late. My pictures look sloppy at the edges. Sure, there is photo editing, but the thrill for me is to get it just right, in the camera, at the moment, just like Cartier-Bresson did. I will continue to practice.

I feel nervous taking pictures of strangers on the street, especially with my monster camera, with one exception: tourists. I love taking pictures of tourists. Maybe because I have a special place in my heart for tourists because I love to be one, but they are so fun to watch. They walk slow. Their facial expressions are either happy or confused as they gawk at the tall buildings, at maps, at the sights. They dress differently than most New Yorkers so they naturally stick out in pictures. Best of all, they are completely oblivious. Before this project started, I have sometimes thought about creating a photography series about tourists. Maybe I will.

I was in midtown yesterday for an interview, so I decided to stop by Rockefeller Center to get some tourist shots. With a camera around my neck, I blended in perfectly. I blatantly took pictures of people and no one noticed--they just thought I was taking bad pictures of the gold Prometheus statue. Some people even asked me to take their picture with their own cameras. Other people tried to get out of my way as I made my shot. (No! You stay right there!)

With people milling about, it was incredibly hard to get the picture I wanted, the decisive moment. I started to get a rhythm and getting excited that I was coming close and then my camera battery died. I was so bummed. I will be back in this area next week so expect for there to be a second round of this. I hope I get my shot then.

Day 6: 4/22/10
Rockefeller Center

That guy in the corner is looking at me and thinking, I'm on to you. Love it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

View from my window

Day 5: 4/21/10
First Avenue

When I took on this project, I didn't really consider that I might not like some of the pictures I post. But here I am on Day 5, and this is the best I got today. I realize that this project may be more about consistent practice than getting an amazing picture every time. I almost posted a picture from another day that I like better, but I thought that would be cheating. (You would not know the difference, but I would). Here's that picture:

I would like to practice some portraits and was wondering if anyone wanted to volunteer and let me take their picture. I actually like taking pictures of people but I am often too shy to take pictures of strangers. And whenever I ask Dan to be my model, he always acts like it's a waste of time, and I should be outside taking "real" pictures.

"Portraits are easy," Dan says. "Anyone can do portraits." He once picked up a photo book filled with portraits and said, "Even I can do this."

I haven't seen him do anything yet that looks close to Richard Avedon's level, but I still would like to see how "easy" it is for myself.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Angel Statue

Day 4: 4/20/10
St. Joseph's Church, Yorkville

I walked around my neighborhood for a good hour with my camera and nothing popped at me. Seeking inspiration, I stumbled inside this empty church and saw this statue. Something about the spotlights and the random flowers makes me think she's on stage, behind a podium, delivering a speech or something.

Monday, April 19, 2010

E 78th St and FDR

Day 3: 4/19/10


On Sunday, my friend Heather gathered up little Drake and a gaggle of girlfriends (Collette, Jessica, Olivia and me) for an afternoon at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. At this time of year, the cherry blossoms go into full effect for only a few weeks, so even though it was a bit chilly, we bundled up to go see the pink blooms before it was too late.

Drake wasn't particularly impressed by the cherry blossoms. So in order to get him to smile in the pictures, we would say "SOCKS!" For some reason, that word makes him laugh.

Heather yelled SOCKS when she took this picture, so I guess it works on me, too.

In addition to catching up with the girls, I spent most of the time taking pictures and trying to remember how to use my camera again. Spring flowers are so pretty, aren't they?

There were lilacs...

and tulips...

and of course, loads of cherry blossoms.

Socks or no socks, there was definitely a lot of giggles along the way.

hee. hee.

Tulips in Bloom

Day 2: 4/18/10 Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I didn't PhotoShop this picture at all. The colors were that gorgeous.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hello, old friend.

You may have noticed, but I haven't been taking many pictures lately. In fact, I haven't updated my Flickr since November.

I am not sure why though I would guess it is a combination of A) My computer broke down last fall so uploading pictures isn't as easy as it used to be B) my lack of creative inspiration/motivation/drive, which seems to have gotten worse and C) my super-fancy camera still makes me feel like this.

My friend Nell is a beginner photographer like me, and recently she came up with the brilliant idea to take one picture, every day for one year, in order to force her to practice photography on a daily basis. Then my other friend Emily said, that's a cool idea, I want to do it, too. And when I heard that both of them were doing it, of course, I wanted to join in the fun. Plus this just might be the kick I need to get my creativity in gear.

So for the next year, inspired by my friends, I will take one picture a day, and post them here and here. My main goal is that after one year of practice, I will have some good pictures and eventually feel more like this.

Day 1: 4/17/10, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

It was Record Store Day on Saturday, so I joined Dan on a jaunt to Brooklyn. He flipped through records and I walked around and took pictures. It was a repeat of what we did last year--minus the cupcakes. Though afterwards, I had cupcakes at my friend Julie's new apartment so it all worked out in the end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cat calls

I don't get a ton of attention from the opposite sex because I have a 6 foot four inch man standing next to me most of the time. But it never fails that I will be walking home from the gym or a run in the park and a man on the street will look me up and down and say something like, "Hey sexy, how's it going?"

I could understand such as question, if I were in fact dressed up maybe if I was wearing a dress or heels or I actually combed my hair. But no, these interactions always seem to happen when I am wearing sweaty workout clothes, hair pulled back into a messy pony tail--pieces sticking out--no make-up. Basically, in a condition where I hope no one will take notice of me.

I would like to know what these men are thinking. Are they making fun of me, or do they genuinely think that grubby sweaty stinky look is sexy--and for some reason, feel the need to express it right then and there?

I usually ignore them, but how do these men expect I should respond to such a question? "Good?" "I am doing good because I am sweaty and sexy?" There has got to be a better way.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yellow thoughts

Tomorrow is my dress fitting, and I am sad to report that in the last three weeks, there was no miraculous weight loss nor the emergence of six pack abs and chiseled arms. How can that be? While I was 80% on point of eating well and exercising a lot, there was definitely some consumption of wine, bagels with cream cheese, fried chicken, brownies, jelly beans. Not to mention Easter. Dan counted 16 kinds of ham on the dining room table. It was totally worth it!

This week, I strained my left hamstring while doing a sprint on the treadmill. Take a few days off from working out, Dan told me. Take a few days off?! I often have to drag myself to the gym, but suddenly when I could not exercise I could not think of anything else I wanted to do. So I tried this very intense ab routine one day (no legs required) and a yoga class the next day (making sure I did not fully stretch my leg) but by the end of all that, my body just ached all over in not a good way. What did I tell you? Dan said to me. You're overcompensating for your bad leg and now your whole body is messed up.

So I decided that I am taking the weekend off. And I suddenly feel very chunk.

Let's think of something else to put my mind at ease. Something that always makes me happy. Yellow!

Me on Easter, next to my favorite spring flowers. They are so pretty. It was unusually hot that day. This seemed to be the first Easter in years where it wasn't cold and dreary.

I am very happy with the way my yellow wedding invitations turned out. They were designed by my high school friend Michele, who somehow turned all my crazy bride ideas and research into something cohesive and really beautiful. I am so glad I convinced Dan to splurge on the calligraphy. I could have stared at these envelopes all day.

I just discovered that all this time, I could have bought a yellow wedding dress. It's too late now. Besides, I am sure such prettiness made by Vera Wang doesn't come cheap. I can hear my mother breathing a sigh of relief...