Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fickle Fixes and Magnetic Fields

When I was in college, I had a Pentax K1000 35mm camera that I took most places with me - I loved that thing. When the light meter started to go, I was devastated. It was a sporadic problem. There were times it worked perfectly - other times, it didn't work at all... Back in the day when we all shot film (and weren't particularly interested in our manual light meters), this was a big deal.

I brought it to a camera shop in Grand Rapids. Of course, as soon as I explained the problem and handed the camera to the repair man, the meter worked perfectly.

"There's nothing wrong with your light meter," said the repair man.

"But I'm telling you, there is a problem. It doesn't always work."

"You'll have to bring it to me when it's not working."

Hardly. Everytime I drove past the camera shop, I checked the meter. As if some divine magnetic field surrounded the area, the light meter ALWAYS worked at the camera shop. It never worked when I was shooting.

This is not the last time something like this happened to me.

Throughout the past year or so, my car sporadically refused to start. The engine cranked - just no juice. Sometimes it happened in cold weather, sometimes in hot - sometimes after it sat for a long period of time, sometimes after I had driven to the store.

The fact is, the idea of my car not starting is horrifying. In fact, anything that happens outside of my realm of control is horrifying. I kept panicking - wondering if I'd miss a big shoot because of my sporadically not-starting car.

The first time it happened, I thought, "I have AAA. I'll call them, and they'll take it to the garage and get 'er fixed." - Well, by the time the tow truck arrived, the car started on its own. The driver was ticked at me. I was kind of ticked that the car embarassed me... Grrr. The situation ensued. Most times, the car would start within a few minutes' time - or at worst, by the next morning.

After it happened the third time, I took it to my local mechanic.

This guy is a good mechanic - but said he couldn't diagnose the problem with my car unless it failed while in his presence. Now, this posed a big problem. When it failed, I could hardly bring it on over... I couldn't predict when it would fail (although it seemed to happen more in the summer) - In fact, even if I called him when it failed, by the time he theoretically would arrive at my house (in all his mechanic-knight-in-shining-armor glory), chances are the car would start perfectly. I could just picture him, with the same "Isn't she cute and attention-starved" look on his face that I got from the camera shop guy.

After a few futile attempts to solve the problem, I gave up on my normal mechanic. I called Dave's mechanic. They looked into the records and found no repeating issue matching my car's symptoms, and told me the same thing: "We need to see it while it's failing..." Great. I had no idea how that was going to happen. Finally, I decided to take the car to the dealership.

I'm deathly afraid of the dealership. I'd rather cut off my right arm than take the car to the dealership. Dealer prices are so insanely high that it's difficult to imagine how anyone pays them. (Except me, because I had no choice.) So with trepidation, I drove it over, thinking it would certainly fail if left to sit in a hot parking lot.

Well, it didn't. I picked it up later that evening. They were really nice about it, though, "We'll keep the ticket open - just drop it off when you can and we'll try it again."

A week or so later, I dropped it off again. After a day, my rep called, "It didn't fail. Would you like us to fix what I'm 99.9% sure is wrong with your car?" (fuel injection pump or something)

I asked them to wait another day. Another fruitless effort. My car refused to fail for the dealer mechanics.

I'm beginning to think that magnetic field surrounding the Grand Rapids camera shop now surrounds me. MY magnetic field is what causes my car to fail, and it's not fair.

I called the dealer, "Go ahead. Fix whatever you think it is."

So far, the car has started every time I've asked it to (twice) - which makes me glad. The catch is - I'm still, of course, worried that they got the wrong part - and the $33 worth of metal (and the $150 worth of man hour(s?) won't solve my problem... My mind wanders - What if I get stuck in a not-so-great section of Philadelphia (or Allentown - or Detroit, where I never even go...) and can't get home? What if I can't get to a shoot? What if blabbiddy blah blah blah?!!

I guess I'll have to wait it out. While I do, I'm going to look for a doctor - to see about that mag field. sheesh.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hey, You're From Pennsylvania, Aren't You?

About a year ago, I was staying at a New York City hotel. I needed some cash, so I asked the concierge for a MAC machine.

"You're from Pennsylvania, aren't you?"

"Yeah," I replied. "How'd you know?"

"Cause you asked for a MAC machine. No one has MAC machines except Pennsylvania. The rest of the known Universe has ATM's."

"Really?" I had no idea. Apparently, Money Access Centers were purely a Pennsylvania-run company. We're an unusual state... All of our liquor stores, for example, are still run by the state Government... So why WOULDN'T we have our own MAC's? And why not have ATM's? (Perhaps because Automatic Teller Machines make my nephew, TJ wonder what exactly it is that someone has to automatically tell someone...)

Okay - all this to say nothing of what I wanted to write about today.

I have trouble with the ATM's associated with my bank. Perhaps they assigned me pin numbers I can't remember (which is weird, considering the way my brain works - for some reason, I can still tell you my security access code for my college workplace... the zip code to the town I grew up in... and my first boss' home telephone number) Perhaps it's because my bank branches tend to build their ATM's with their screens facing the setting sun - so using them in the afternoons is an exercise in guess work. Perhaps it's the braille keypads on the ATM's (with no speakers). Perhaps it's the fact that the ATM's associated with my branch never seem to work when I get to them...

I drive Dave crazy sometimes. Not to my credit, I've been with him on several occasions when one or more of the above issues have kept me from depositing or withdrawling the cash I needed to deposit or withdrawl. I have lost my temper in front of many of these machines (I'm bad that way - It's kind of embarassing thinking that I'm being mocked when they show video of my tantrums at the Branch's annual Holiday party. "Oh, there she goes again...")

Anyway, today, while riding with Dave, I needed to deposit. I asked him, not thinking about getting angry, to stop at my bank.

"Kelly, how bout if you drop me off, then take my car back to the bank? - or we do it another time."

Now I'm really embarassed... (There are days where I am undeniably calmer than the given situation should make me... That is rarely the case when it comes to me and computers, but really, a lot of people think I'm very calm..)

"C'mon. Gimme a shot. I'm better now."

"Kelly, if you lose your temper, it'll ruin my day."

"I need a shot!"

"I'm telling you, I'm not ....."

"Just give me a shot. I'm cool as a cucumber." (I'm positive that I've never actually said 'cool as a cucumber' before in my life...)

Dave reluctantly hit the turn signal, "Ok..."

"I need a shot - that's all."

So we pull up to the machine, and sure enough, like clock work - the machine won't even accept my card - It won't even push through the slot. (It wasn't the card - it was the machine. Down for maintenance - again... Infuriating, yet, I am as serene as my vegetable counterpart.)

"Okay, let's go"

"Wow, Kell," said Dave, "You did a lot better than you ever did before."

I simply starred down the barrel of the security camera and said, "You guys should fix this MAC machine. It never works."

I just said that so when I'm in New Jersey or Delaware sometime, and a stranger walkes up to me and says, "I work at your bank. I've seen you on video. You're from Pennsylvania, aren't you?" I can say that at least, for once, I was calm.

Where I can't really fathom life without my ATM card - I must say that for the most part, technology just makes my life harder.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Toys

I just bought a new lens for my camera - so naturally, I had to test it out. I'm posting a few of my shots. I started with my garden, but eventually abused my band... They tolerate me much better than I could ever hope for!

Here's Dave, wondering why he must be put through my photographic experiments...

Here's Dave, waiting desperately for Fran and Scott to arrive - He's really getting sick of having his photo taken.

Finally - After all that practice and clicking away - Fran konked out on the chair, and the rest of us played music and watched American Idol (my idea, btw... Dave calls A.I. "That Karaoke Show," and Scott doesn't watch a whole lot... See? I told you they tolerate me (because I feed them, I think.)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Please Don't Tell Anyone I'm Going to Be on TV

Ok. So y'all know I make pretty videos for a living. So when asked by our friend Phil to be on his local origination public access TV Show, I thought, "I'm SO over local TV..." But Dave and I love Phil - so we agreed to do it. His show features local musicians who write & perform their own stuff - and who wanna be on TV, and who love Phil. (did I mention that?)

Well, Two outta three wasn't bad enough to talk Dave out of doing this, so we agreed to perform. Last night, Dave asked, "Kelly, you don't WANT to be here, do you?" I assured him I was okay. The show went well enough. I was recorded. I'm going to be on television, singing songs I wrote - and rest assured, I predict that at least 5 weirdo's I know will approach me and say they watched the whole show... and proceed to tell me exactly what they think of me.... (and it'll take an hour per...)

I was once on a talk show, where I was enlisted as a last-minute substitute to discuss a trip to Haiti. I mumbled through the entire interview, and was shocked and appalled when someone approached me and commented, "Kell, I had no idea you were so articulate!" (Oh, dear! THAT was articulate?!!! I was doomed - and promised not to be on TV any more. Besides, I always think TV takes 3-D people, flattens them to 2-D, and makes them - ok me - look fat.)

OK - so why did I agree to do this?

Let me tell you a little bit about WHY I love Phil and agree to play at his open mics, and be on his show - He's got the absolute best poker face I've ever seen. Phil encourages the performances of everyone - from the great-greats to the piss-poors... Phil's Open Mic Nights attract all kinds - from all over - and I think his open mic is better than television...

When you show up, you'll get the following performers:

1) The Fabulous Regulars: They include Bob, who writes Texas-type songs, even though he lives in PA. He's great. In life, he's some kind of computer help-desk guy, so I'm sure it's a source of great material. Spider is a kid who I've known for a long time. He sings long, obscure songs on really expensive guitars. Amy and Karen are a sister act, who sing like angels - and do a lot of Indigo Girls-kind of stuff. The other night, a guy from New Jersey came and sang like a cross between Sting and Dave Matthews... Wow. You just have to love those moments.

2) The Quirky Regulars: The couple who always perform depressing renaissance songs on recorder and guitar for the rock n' roll crowd. The kid who wears the 80's fedora and vest - and sings folky versions of 80's songs by Culture Club and Daryl Hall. The old dude who plays Rock standards - in keys and rhythms I can neither fathom nor duplicate.

3) The Surprising Burn-Outs: Occasionally, in a rare moment of candor, Phil will tell Dave and I an amusing story about a burn out who wanders into the bar... For example, one night, a guy signed up to play. He was holding a guitar with a few strings missing. He approaches the stage and asks for volunteers to jam with him - He then proceeds to sing a song - but Phil quickly realized that the guy had no idea how to play guitar. "He's up there banging on strings - everyone else is playing, wondering what the heck was happening...."

The other night, Dave and I witnessed another burn-out - who will remain an equal source of wonder. I didn't catch his name - we'll just call him "Hippieburnoutguy."

He approached me in the lobby of the theater... His hair was stringy and long, he was over-tanned, had blurry tattoos on his arms, and wore a dirty, baggy t-shirt and faded jeans. "Hey," he started, "Where do you sign up to play? I just wanna share a few songs with everyone... Just a few. I don't want any money, I just wanna play - I'm not trying to get rich or anything - I just want to play a few tunes." We pointed at Phil. On his way to speak with Phil, he stopped a few other musicians and expressed his interest in playing music for free.

When he finally finds Phil, he repeated his story - and emphasized again the fact that he was not looking for payment. Phil, in all his amazing generosity, didn't even smirk.

"Sounds great," he enthused.

Hippieburnoutguy then proceeded onto stage, where he kind of spoke/sung a song, while occasionally raking the guitar strings with dirty fingernails. When he finished he smiled, "Thanks. I'm going to tune up a little bit for you." He actually giggled.

This was the bizarre part - and I'm sure was funnier in person than it'll be here - but he pulled a pitch pipe from his t-shirt pocket. He then blew a low "E," and hit the top string of the guitar. The tones weren't even close - his guitar was way outta tune. He smiled and nodded. Without turning the peg that would tune his "E" string, he proceeded to blow the next note on the pitch pipe. He then plucked, smiled, nodded, and never actually tuned anything. He proceeded through the remaining four strings in this manner. blow, pluck, smile, nod.... blow, pluck, smile, nod.... blow, pluck, smile, nod.... blow, pluck, smile, nod....

"This is great! I love this guy!" Dave enthused. Phil merely watched and smiled.

Hippieburnoutguy then proceeded to speak/sing/rake through a few more blues songs. I swear he sang one song twice in a row. He even "tuned" once more... It was absolutely both hysterically funny, and sadsadsad.

Meanwhile, Phil, Phil, full of Grace, merely sat there and listened - and applauded louder than anyone.

Phil later told Dave and me that Hippieburnoutguy was photographed onstage that night, and was published in the local paper the next day. "He got a photo *THIS BIG!*" Of the old guy who sang rock standards, Phil told a sad story: "He was scammed many years ago, and told to come out to California to play a showcase for record executives. It cost him a lot of money - and nothing of course, ever came of it, but - *the guy had the time of his life...*" I was very touched that Phil told the story without an ounce of ridicule...

"He had the time of his life."

So I'm going to be on a local cable access show... And it's not because I feel the need to be on TV - it's just because I appreciate what Phil's doing for people... and I guess, if you see it (like all local origination cable access shows, it'll be on a million and ten times over the course of a MONTH) - I hope you like it... Um. And if you have to mention it to me, I'm okay with hearing your opinion of the performance...

But if you tell me I looked thin, I'll love you forever.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Wedding Photographer


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lessons from Sobriety, or "Don't Answer the Cell in The Car"

I got pulled over the other day. Two very respectable policemen thought I'd been drinking...

The evening started out well enough. My band played a great gig - I'd had a drink early in the evening - sometime around seven PM... I usually don't like to drink a ton while I'm performing. I tend to sing badly (and do just about everything badly) if I have too much, so It was water up until 11:30 or midnight, when the band left the venue.

I think Scott left first. I was about five minutes behind him, which meant Fran and Dave were still jabbering in the parking lot. About a half mile down the road, my phone rang. It was Dave - who wanted to know why I left so soon - and how far I was down the road. When I reached for the phone, I accidentally drove over the yellow line. That's why the cops stopped me.


They talked to me for a little while - when they didn't smell anything or find my speech particularly slurred, they asked me to get out of the car. They asked where I'd been, where I was going, and what I was doing. They asked a really good question in wanting to know the brown liquid was in the V8 Bottle.

"It's iced tea," I told them. "You're welcomed to take it and test it."

"That won't be necessary, ma'am." (I don't feel like a Ma'am...) They then asked if I knew I'd driven over the yellow line. I assured them I hadn't - but I'd ansered my phone.

What was necessary, however, was for me to walk the line, stand on one foot, do that thing where you touch your nose with alternating left and right hands -

Of course, during this time, Dave drove by, petrified. He circled back and passed me three times before the cops were through coreographing things for me to do... Fran also drove by - but didn't realize it was me. I didn't realize he didn't know it was me, and was mortified.

"Ma'am, you're free to go, Don't answer your cell phone in the car!"

"Good advice, sir." I answered. They were pretty nice. Most of my experience with policemen have been not nearly as pleasant. In fact, I was feeling pretty darn good about the whole thing.

Until my phone rang again. I looked to make sure the nice policemen had taken a different route, then answered Dave's second call.

"I was so worried! You could lose your license!"

I calmed him down and got off the phone - The cops were right - I really shouldn't talk on the phone while driving... It's not really safe... But, rebel that I am (coff coff), I admit I still find drive time the most convenient time to return phone calls.

I guess if there are lines to be crossed in life - I'm just going to have to be more careful - and make sure the one I'm crossing isn't yellow.




Saturday, May 13, 2006

Brokeback Mountain, King Kong, and the Faith Community

So I haven't been around much lately - My head has been full, but I haven't had the heart to write about it. I'll see if I can catch up.

First off, we rented King Kong last night - and loved it. Very sad - very human movie... We hate Carl Denham. Dave noted that he doesn't even like the name Carl. I especially liked the part after Kong fought three t-rexes, then tossed Anne Darrow onto his shoulder. Poor old Kong. He was a big old ape with no family and no one who wasn't afraid of him. His home was littered with the bones of his dead relatives, and he was even attacked at home. Poor old guy just wanted someone who understood him.

Last week, something so truly awful happened, it's hard to talk about it. Suffice it to say that something was said in church that so offended a gay man in the congregation, that he left.... I'm watching him exit the sanctuary (it's a large room - so it was a long walk to the exit) and thinking, "No one, no one, no one... Ok, I'll go." I followed him out - and had a long discussion about why gays and church never seem to get along - Suffice it to say that I believe that if God has enough grace for me, he's got enough grace for everyone. Let me try to summarize what my pastor said that upset my friend - and what my pastor really MEANT to talk about.

In trying to discuss how the media should be more responsible for what it portrays - and the consequences of what it portrays, he used a current example that was based on a few phone calls he'd received - because of the movie "Brokeback Mountain." - Apparently, it incited a few gay-yet-married-to-women men he knew to ponder wether or not they should leave their wives.

The point my pastor was trying to make was about the marital commitment these men made... (- this is so difficult to explain - he just focused on what responsibility he felt the media has - and the far-reaching impact it has) It wasn't really about gay men, gays, or the church's stance on sexuality. - It was about the things in life that influence us. However, it really sounded like a gay bash.

It was a good example, in context. It's just that it wasn't spoken particularly clearly - The trouble was - the pastor's statement was finished sometime after the gay man and I left the sanctuary. I mentioned to my friend that we weren't sure where he was going. He acknowledged that - and continued.

"But Kelly," he retorted. This is the kind of crap that makes kids in church think there's no place for them - I can guarantee that there are at least 10 or 20 kids or adults in there who are gay." (my congregation consists of about 500 people). - It's serious. Kids commit suicide over this kind of thing."

I told him he had a very valid point - and then went out on a big limb... (halfway between my church and the pack of cigarettes my friend needed). I asked him to talk to my pastor about it. He, going out on an equally tenuous limb, said he would consider it- because it might save someone's life.

"Look." I explained, "The church needs to understand THEIR responsibility - and if Christ died for me - he certainly died for you too, and if you recognize your desire for God/Spirituality/Church in your life, you deserve to be able to sit in there too..." That's what I think. I'm not saying we can't be challenged - I'm saying we all deserve to feel safe in church. (Again - this is hard to write about - it's kind of complicated, isn't it?)

After I left him, I went back into the sanctuary and expressed this to my pastor. I knew he felt badly. He immediately offered to call the guy. I'm pretty satisfied with that. I know he meant it because the next day, he called me at work for a phone number. I called my friend and asked if it was okay.

"Did you tell him what I said?"

"Barring the part where you called him a bigot, yes... And I'm excited that you're willing to go this distance. It needs to be done."

"Ok. Then you can give him my number." What brave guys, eh? I'm so proud of both of them... mostly because In my experience, it hasn't happened before.

Look - I know there will always be a huge schism between the gay community and the mainstream faith community (I'm even embarassed by writing this... It's not how I feel - but it seems to be true.) It angers me that my church has actively sought out dialogue with the interfaith community, people of different races/languages, addicts, third world neighborhoods in Haiti, Spain, Guatemala and Africa - and even (gasp!) those of less popular political persuasions (that's another post for another day, but suffice it to say that the Democratic Mayor of a local city finds he can tolerate going to church here!!!)..., but hasn't really made a lot of room for gays. I'm hoping that this discussion will at least open some doors. It can't possibly be this scary. It can't be that gays are so like Kong - so foreign and misunderstood that there's no place for them... I think it's ridiculous, I think it leaves God conspicously out of the picture, and it needs to stop.

I had no intention, btw, of writing about this - it feels like a big 'ol can of worms - but someone has to say it.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fabulous Waste of Time II

Here's yet another Fabulous Waste Of Time. Enjoy!


Friday, May 05, 2006

Secure To A Tee!

I was working today in a corporate office with the most fastidious security guard I’ve ever seen… And I’ve met a lot of ‘em.

I wonder if security is a power kick – because most of them seem to intensely enjoy protecting whatever it is they’re protecting.

I need to make a note – not all security guards are jerks – I don’t even think this particular S.G. was a jerk – just incredibly intense – in an odd way…

I used to work a lot of live sporting events. Whenever we traveled, it was important to have the proper credentials and parking passes, or you were sure to have to endure a long, tedious lecture from intensely jerky security guards. To avoid this, I often wore my credentials on the outside of my winter coat – and immediately brought extra coffee to the guard I had to deal with - “You look cold!” I’d say. Then, they wouldn’t yell at me nearly as much, as I talked my way into the executive parking garage….

Today’s security guard was incredibly… Well, fastidious. Picture Jerry Seinfeld with a badge… When we first arrived, she scolded my client for not providing a list of names. “We could have been ready for you. We just needed the information.”

My crew rolled in a cart – with pneumatic wheels – onto the thick, rubber mats in the lobby. “That cart shouldn’t be in here – it’s not good for the marble,” thus saith the security guard.

We pointed out the pneumatic wheels. I offered to take the cart out and go in through the service entrance. S.G. noted that we were already in the building.

My client brought us to the room we were working in. He explained where the rest rooms were. “And if you need coffee….” He then proceeded to tell us where the cafeteria was. He said he was going up to his office, told us how to contact him – and left.

My co-worker and I agreed to get coffee for the rest of our crew, but couldn’t remember the exact directions to the cafeteria. We headed down to the security desk – it was a mistake.

S.G. said, “You can’t be down here without an escort, but the cafeteria is that way.” I explained that the client had given us permission to go there (I’m now in eighth grade… I have a hair-sprayed mullet, and am wearing fluorescent pink socks).

“But you can’t be down here without an escort. You don’t look like you care.”

“I assure you I care – but I was given permission by my client.”

“I would suggest you go back to the boardroom, call your client and have him escort you to the cafeteria.”

I must note that the cafeteria was twenty feet from the security desk – but S.G. made me go back to the boardroom. As we walked, I wondered why we didn’t need an escort back to the boardroom…

I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but I work for my client – not S.G. My co-worker and I circled and went to the cafeteria by another route. S.G. of course, watched us the whole time at the front desk. In our minds, we swore we heard the Mission Impossible Theme song.

The plot thickens: Once in the cafeteria, we realized we had only plastic to pay for our drinks. The nice lady at the register said she was a cash business, but sweetly suggested we go across the street to the ATM. I politely explained my predicament. “I can’t go out there – I’m not even supposed to be in here You see, I don’t have an escort.” She took my name and said I could come back later with the money. I wondered what was worse – being entrusted to pay for a drink, or walking around a building unescorted… I took the coffee, and headed back to the boardroom… the back way.

When we returned, my client came from his office, with a funny look on his face. “I just got a Nastygram from the S.G.” I apologized profusely.

“Don’t think twice – I’d have done the same thing. I’ll talk to her later. You did nothing wrong. I don’t work for the S.G.”

That makes two of us.

I’m not suggesting anyone ignore the rules of an establishment – but I do get a little concerned sometimes, when people take their jobs so seriously that it makes it difficult for those they’re protecting to function. I guess I’m not mad at S.G. – just weirdly amused.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And Now.... Something Completely Different

While I'm too busy to write anything meaningful, I'd like to share a photo David sent me. Pretty random, eh? (Not sure where it came from - so I apologize to whomever originally took this photo)