Photographing Facebook – What’s The Weather for the Weekend Going to Be?

When I was in 7th grade, my friend Dana Evans (another Facebook friend, to be photographed later, of course) and I devised a plan for me to transfer the school at which she was going – Sts. Peter and Paul School – instead of going to school at the public middle school in the town in which we lived. It didn’t take much convincing of my parents that this was a good idea. And starting in September 1986, my Catholic school career began. It was definitely one of the best moves I made – perhaps academically, definitely socially. Some of my dearest friends today are the ones I made during grade school and high school at Sts. Peter and Paul School.

My friend MacNeil Lyons was in my class starting that September in 1986. You see, Sts. Peter and Paul (SSPP) was a small (SMALL) school and there were about 20 kids in my class. We were a tight-knit group and we spent every day, every class, all day – together.

MacNeil’s job in 7th grade was to report the weekend weather. Each Friday our teacher Mr. Fellows had MacNeil stand in front of the class and report the weather. We even had a song that we would sing in unison before MacNeil would give us the weather report. And I still remember it today – after all these years:  “what’s the weather for the weekend going to be? Will it be hot? Cold? Rain? Snow? Only MacNeil. Knows!” Neil would then proceed to give us an in-depth weather report. It was great.

Something happened, though,and Neil started missing school quite a bit. No one really knew why, but we all knew Neil wasn’t there like he always was. Eventually we found out that he had been diagnosed with cancer – T-Cell Lymphoma. The doctor had found a tumor around his esophagus the size of a book and had informed Neil that if he had waited only 5 more days, he would no longer be able to breathe. [editor’s note – the type of cancer has been updated from esphogeal to T-Cell Lymphoma.Sorry about that Neil!]

I remember the day Neil stood in front of the class and told us like it happened yesterday. It shook me to the core. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen to 7th graders. And it doesn’t happen to 7th graders who are my friends.

After intensive chemotherapy, MacNeil was declared cancer-free in 9th grade. And just like that, Neil was back to being Neil again (to this gal, anyway).

Neil and I have always had similar interests that have fueled – and maintained – our friendship. For instance, we both love music … while in college, Neil and our friend – Adam (Riddleberger, my boyfriend in kindergarten! Weird, right?!?) – drove down to Lexington to drive to Cleveland with my friend Erin and I for a Grateful Dead show. The number of mix tapes we’ve made for each other is countless. I wish I knew where those were. They’d be awesome to listen to now …

Nowadays Neil is a successful nature guide at Yellowstone National Park in Montana … and he’s a dad. And a husband. He’s an amazing photographer (http://www.macneillyonsimages.com/). And he’s my friend. Still.

It’s unfortunate that Neil doesn’t make it home too often anymore. He and his wife Lucy have a beautiful daughter Kaia and a busy life far away from the Land of Pleasant Living. But it’s funny – when they do make it back east, we seem to find the time to see each other. We’ve gone to a show at the 9:30 Club. We’ve gone out for beers – legally! – in Easton with all of our old friends … and what’s so great is that when we’re all together, it’s like we’ve never stopped hanging out. The laughter has never stopped.

This photograph was taken 1 year ago – in November 2012. It’s the last time I saw MacNeil and Lucy while they were home. We all met for drinks in Easton. I captured this photograph as they were walking out the door – I like to think they’re not saying goodbye, they’re just saying “catch ya later!”

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Photographing Facebook (finally!)

DSC_0481Earlier this year I set out to photograph ALL of my Facebook friends. I took a break from working on this for some reason. Today – I’m feeling inspired, and that’s probably because this Facebook friend inspires me. A LOT.

When I first met Jennifer Holdgreve, I didn’t know much about Type 1 diabetes. Today, I’m much more informed. I’m much more aware. And I’m much more sympathetic.

Jennifer’s family lives with Type 1 diabetes every day. Nine-year-old Allison Holdgreve was diagnosed with the disease when she was in kindergarten. And instead of allowing this disease to take over their lives, they educated themselves and have set about educating everyone else with whom they come into contact.

What’s so great about the Holdgreves is that they also live their lives. Allison, Samantha, and Ryan are happy, active children with fulfilling lives. Instead of allowing this diagnosis to ruin their happiness, they’ve embraced it and done whatever they can to help others with the disease. Diabetes isn’t a dirty word. It’s a disease that can allow one to live a life without letting it take you down.allie.throwin

Of course, there are days when Jennifer, her husband Chris, and Allison all want to throw in the towel. Allison has to think about everything she’s eating. She has to ask her parents if it’s ok for her to have a snack. And she has to stop her normal 3rd-grade life to prick her finger multiple times a day. She has to take breaks from the fun the other kids are having to ensure she stays alive. That’s pretty scary shit. And for a 3rd grader to have that responsibility is daunting. But Allison? She does it. And she does it well. And sometimes, she does it with a smile on her face even.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and I wore to work a ribbon to commemorate given to me by the Holdgreves. I was stopped multiple times and asked about my ribbon. And it was refreshing to talk to someone about the disease, and why I’m wearing that ribbon. And all the knowledge I had came from my friend Jennifer and her daughter Allison. And I love that. Instead of hiding behind it, they are out there helping others to understand. And that’s amazing.

Jennifer and I are very close friends. I would probably go crazy without her companionship. She keeps me sane. She keeps me laughing. And sometimes she keeps me drunk. Just like a very good friend should do.
The picture I’ve chosen of Jennifer and her husband Chris (NOT on Facebook, but still my friend) is one of my favorites. Their laughter is so real. Their happiness is so real. And that’s so refreshing.

Photographing Facebook – Soccer Moms, Part I (and the first of many Jens)

When Andrew was going into 1st grade, we learned at around the same time that his teacher was going to be Ms. Coursey and his soccer coach was going to be Chris Holdgreve. The only thing we knew about Ms. Coursey was that she had taught my neighbors’ daughter and we didn’t know ANYTHING about Chris Holdgreve. It didn’t really matter – we were looking forward to the start of both.

The day after learning who was coaching and teaching Andrew, we ran into a woman in the Acme parking lot. She had with her her daughter named Caitlyn, and as it turned out, she and Andrew were in the same class AND on the same soccer team. So was my first meeting with Jen Rath.

It wasn’t until the start of the next soccer season that my friendship with Jen Rath truly started to blossom. It was during this season that Jen Rath was Andrew’s head coach (Coach Chris took on the role as assistant). Caitlyn and Andrew were together on the soccer field again, and it was great. It was during that second season that I found out how much I had in common with Jen Rath – well, kinda. 😉

We’re both a little (A LITTLE) on the competitive side. We both have children in the same grade. And I’m awesome. So there’s always that.

After that second soccer season we started a social club – “Mom’s Who Like to Drink and Swear”. We try to meet monthly. We typically succeed. Our husbands are pretty understanding – and probably pretty jealous. Rath is a Jersey girl and she keeps it in check as much as she can. But sometimes she just can’t help to let it out.

I am lucky to have found in that Acme parking lot a mom who is my confidant; my Jersey authority; and my good friend. And I’m lucky that Andrew has landed on a soccer team that allows him to play competitively and learn the game.

Let’s start planning the next outing, Rath!

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Facebook Friends

Facebook friends. Some people collect them like they’re collecting dandelions. Some people are much more cautious. Some people unfriend for reasons like politics. For break-ups. For no reason at all. Some people know these Facebook “friends” well; some people are friends only in periphery. Some people don’t even know the people they have on their friends list.

The friends I have as my Facebook friends fall all over the graph – some of them I’ve known since kindergarten. Some of them I’ve met through marriage; some of them I’ve met through my children; some of them I’ve met through my children’s friends’ parents. Some of them I’ve worked with. Some of them I went to college with.

No matter what, I like to think I know my Facebook friends pretty well. But in an effort to prove that to myself, I’ve given myself the task of taking pictures of each friend I’ve acquired on Facebook.

This isn’t going to be easy. Some of my friends live far away (Hawaii; Hungary); some live with me (my hubs!). Some of my friends live just down the street; some live in the next town; some I see every day; and some I haven’t seen in years.

I”m not going to put a time constraint on this. It’s going to take some time. But I will finish this. Even if that means I will no longer be able to accept new friend requests … I will see each friend and I will take their picture!! I will do it!!

And I will start with the easiest ones …

Going in a New Direction

I’ve realized in my short time “working” with my camera that photographing people and then handing over my photographs to them is not what I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE taking pictures of people. I love taking pictures FOR people. But I am, by nature, a journalist, I guess. And I have discovered that when I take pictures, I also want to tell a story. And taking pictures of friends/families for their friends/families doesn’t always allow me to do this.

I see a lot of things in this world and I meet a lot of interesting people. And I’ve always been amazed at the stories they have to tell. But sometimes it takes asking just a few questions to hear what it is they want to say … sometimes the people they’ve met make them the most interesting. Sometimes their careers make them the most interesting. But sometimes, just taking their picture when they’re least expecting it is what makes them the most interesting. And the most beautiful. And those are the moments that this photographer wants to capture.

So until then I’m going to keep taking pictures. And I would love to take pictures of anyone who wants their pictures taken. But soon I’m going to embark on another adventure, down a different road. And this blog may have a different appearance, but it will still include my photographs; it will still include my words. It will contain more of a story, though.

Because pictures really do paint, at the very least, 1,000 words. And I want to try to capture all of them.Image