Monthly Archives: October 2011

These are my picture-taking pants

My favorite part of my job is photographing concerts. Sometimes it’s scary, like when Waka Flocka’s 7-foot security guard shoves me like I murdered his mom; or when bald Method Man-lovers chuck beer bottles at my head; or when Al Jardine’s creepy old man fans ask me if it hurt when I fell from heaven. Usually, though, shooting shows is just super fun. I’m really into it, too — I even bought a pair of pajama jeans for extra picture-taking mobility! In fact, I tried them out for the first time at a J. Cole concert last week. Here is how that night went.

I got to the venue about 3 hours before J. Cole was set to perform. Within the first 10 minutes of being there, I realized I hadn’t eaten dinner. Knowing my belly juices would start eating my insides if I didn’t get food quick, I ran over to 7-Eleven for some shnacks. Unfortunately, something about 7-Eleven food creeps me the eff out, so I only bought a pack of gum and a couple of waters. After offering pieces of Trident to my cashier and to the dude begging for change outside the store (both accepted!), I made my way back to the concert.

The gum held me over for about five minutes before I started needing some real food. I knew my friend Amanda was going to Cheesecake Factory and then coming to the show, so I asked her if she could grab me a side salad. Being the nice lady she is, she did. When she got to the venue she handed over a delicious salad of tomatoes and Mesclun greens and ranch dressing. The only thing she didn’t hand over was a fork. Them Cheesecake fools forgot to give her one.

Still, me was hungry, and I figured my nimble fingies could handle a salad just fine. I found a seat in the corner, opened up the container, and got to chomping. I got a few strange looks, I guess for eating a salad with my fingers in the middle of a sold-out show, but I was glad to get some food up in me. By the time I finished, J. Cole was supposed to start in about an hour. I wiped my greasy ranch hands on my pajama pants, checked to see if my cute cold sore still looked like a flesh-eating disease, and made my way toward the stage to wait. (I get to stand in the pit between the stage and the crowd, which is bomb.)

I only had to wait about 40 minutes before J. Cole’s DJ came out. Here’s a song that he played, that I love, to break up this long azz story.

Camp Lo my boys

J. Cole came out a little while later and I started snapping away. Apparently I was only supposed to shoot for three songs, but since I’m kinda homies with J. Cole’s videographer (we met a couple years ago at another show and sometimes like each other’s ish on Facebook) he let me shoot a while longer. Then, when my time was up, my way-too-helpful venue security friend dragged me onto the side of the 3-foot-high stage like a prized tuna, and I scooted off to enjoy the rest of the show.

Every one of these people saw me get reeled in

Like I already mentioned, J. Cole’s video guy, Adam, and I are friends. We’d texted earlier in the day about meeting up, but I didn’t have time before the show and he didn’t really have time after. Howeva, we were able to meet up outside and chizat for a minute.

During this chizat, he told me there was pizza on the tour bus and asked if I wanted to go on it. I didn’t, really, because I knew I’d not only meet strangers, but a famous stranger, and I’m not real good at that — especially with a huge scabby cold sore on my face. Still, I said sure. After all, I love motorhomes, and Adam wanted pizza, and, mostly, I felt cool to have been invited.

As soon as I stepped on the bus I no longer felt cool. J. Cole was sitting on the black-crocodile-leather-looking couch playing a video game. I nodded at him, you know, because I’m really comfortable in these situations, and took a seat at the other end of the fancy couch.

Adam grabbed a beer and asked if I wanted one.

“No! I mean, no, thank you. Driving home, can’t be one 5% alcohol beer in.”

He asked about my sisters, I told him they good, having babies n shiz. I asked about his 10-year-old brother, he told me he was having a birthday party in Florida next week.

“Oh! I’m going to be in Florida then, too. I’ll go to his party! LOL J/K J/K! Wait… it’s at Disney though?”

This continued for five minutes until, have mercy, the tour manager announced the bus was about to leave. Relieved to get out of this situation, I told Adam SEEZ YA. Then, I jumped up in the middle of the bus, squatted down, said “These mah picture-taking pants!” and left. It was totally my “I carried a watermelon” moment, and even I can admit it was weird.

I feel for you, girl from Dirty Dancing

When I was walking down the bus stairs, where no one could see me, I also yelled up “GREAT SHOW BY THE WAY!”

P.S. Here’s my favorite picture of the night. As you can see in the right hand corner, I got a photography website. I’m not that good, but I’mma try my damndest to get better!

He's signed to Jay-Z's label, hence dat diamond in the sky

A classy Halloween

After Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, Halloween is my favorite holiday of all time. It’s the one day of the year it’s okay for little kids to knock on strangers’ doors. And it’s the one day of the year for strangers to innocently hand out delicious candy to little kids. It’s awesome!

Needless to say, it really skinned the skin off my mole-ridden back when I surpassed the maximum trick-or-treating age. It happened in 7th grade — my armpits sprouted hair, my chin sprouted pimples, and my body sprouted a milk gut (actually this all happened a few years earlier, I just didn’t acknowledge it until 7th grade). It was time to hang up my double-layered Shaw’s bags and retire the Beavis mask I’d rocked for the past five Halloweens.

  I am cornholio

So am I, but a sluttier version

I was 13-years-old and instead of sorting through my candy collection, I was sitting at home with my parents watching Halloweentown (one of the best DCOMs of all time). My dad had probably just cooked spaghetti with meat sauce, I’d probably just eaten three servings of it, and the torn, yellow pit stained T-shirt I was wearing was probably covered in red tomato stains. On any other day, it would have been a normal, down azz evening. But on Halloween, it sucked big ol’ biggity balls.

My dad could tell I was bumming. So, being the supportive father that he is, he told me to go trick-or-treating anyway. If he swore, he would’ve said something like: “You like candy and shit, and shit! Me too! We rollin, bitch.”

But since he doesn’t, all he said was, “Come on, Al, let’s go.”

Because it was such short notice, I didn’t have a costume. Well, I still had the Beavis mask, just no time to write “Metallica” on a fresh blue tee. Once again, my dad came to the rescue. He handed me his leafy camouflage hunting suit.

It is cute

The only hunting my dad did was sitting in a tree stand reading, napping, and using binoculars to watch deer as they passed by. As a result, he didn’t really need to use the camo suit, and he hadn’t stored all the pieces together. He had the pants and the top, but the hood was missing. I came up with a solution.

I looked good

I was 13 — an age when most kids exchange trick-or-treating for parties with friends — wearing a camo leaf suit and a huge, rubber Beavis head. I was approaching neighbors’ doors by myself, my dad trailing close behind in the family mini-van.

I must have recognized how strange the situation was because I did my best to avoid other trick-or-treaters. I was embarrassed because of 1) my age, 2) my solitude, and 3) my big, leafy, Beavis costume.

So I was pretty pumped when my branches rustled into an 8th grader from my field hockey team (apparently if you go with friends, it’s okay to trick-or-treat when you’re old).

Her name was Savannah; she was semi-popular — certainly more popular than me — and was working hard to blow up my spot. She, her group of friends, and I happened to walk up to the same house at the same time. She started yabbing something about Halloween to me and, in fear that she might recognize my weirdo foreign-sounding voice, I played dumb. I didn’t say a word.

Literally. I didn’t respond to anything she said, even when she directly asked me who I was. I kept my Beavis head on straight and worked that leaf suit like I ain’t never worked a leaf suit before. By the time she gave up, I was more than ready to jump in the van and tally up my haul.

I did. It was worth it.

Montse, the woman I thought would kill me

I studied abroad in Spain two years ago, and it was an incredible, amazing, life-changing, super amazing, eye-opening experience. I learned things about myself I never knew before. For instance, I now know that I rock sag pants well and extra body meat poorly. I also learned what genuine hatred and fear feels like, and its name is Montse.

Saggy and meaty and fearful

Montse was my señora, or home stay mother (from now on I’ll only call her Lady, she don’t even deserve a name. Plus, hers is dumb and I bet you’re already sick of reading “Montse”).

I first met Lady at the hotel where my study abroad program had its orientation. When I walked down to the lobby I saw three ladies  — 1) a program coordinator named Ana, 2) a squat smiley lady, and 3) a greasy blonde headed lady with bad roots, a shrunken apple face, demon eyes, yellow fang fingernails, and robot legs. Ana introduced me to my to-be home stay mother: lady number 3, the demon.

I was already disappointed I didn’t get the smiley squat one, but I figured mine couldn’t be as bitchtastic as she looked. I went to shake her hand and when I did, she grabbed my hand, violently pulled me towards her, slammed her bony face into each of my cheeks, and screamed “DOS VECES” in my ear (“TWO TIMES”). Turns out she was, indeed, a mega trick.

Yet as with everyone I dislike, I still wanted her to like me. On the cab ride from the hotel to her apartment, I tried hard to chat her up. I told her how snowy Maine was, and how excited I was to be in Spain, and how nervous I was that I wouldn’t stay regular. Lady only ever responded with dirty looks, grunts, or silence. She yelled at me once, too. (I accidentally said her son was 17 instead of 7… like I was tryna mack him or some shiiat).

When we got to her house things got even worse. Her apartment stank like cigarettes. Her bastard son mocked my accent. She fed me soggy chicken tenders, chicken broth, and stale bread. When I lay in my bed, my head and feet both touched the walls. I used a sweatshirt for a pillow.

The next few days confirmed what I’d already feared was true. Lady ripped butts inside. Lady’s son was a d-bag. Lady cooked craptastic food.

I noticed something else, too. Lady brought men — young men, crippled men, all types o’ men — to the apartment and made me kiss their cheeks while they made out with mine.

It soon became clear. Trick was turning tricks, for real. She was a certified ho. I could’ve dealt with that. When I realized she was trying to murder me, though, I no longer could.

In her apartment, I kind of had my own hallway — there was really no reason anyone should pass my door unless they were going out. So, when I heard someone walking by my room around 3:00 one morning, and I called out “Hola?” to no response, I figured someone was plotting murder.

I’d already requested a new home stay mother — having said I couldn’t deal with tha shmoke — and I was sure Lady was right pissed she was going to lose my room and board. When I consulted my ma, she reassured me by saying, “Yeah you probably right. I bet one of those gentleman callers will do it. They got nothing to lose.”

Now convinced I was going to die, I did my best to take precautions. My bedroom door didn’t have a lock, so I wrapped the long strap of a purse around the doorknob and tied it to a hook on the wall. I put the electric heater in front of the door, so I’d hear it crash when someone came in. I strategically placed bottles of perfume and uncapped pens around my tiny room so, when one of Lady’s boos dragged me out for butchering, weapons would be in reach.

I did that for a couple nights and then moved out to the squat smiley lady’s apartment. No one ever tried to attack me.

Cool story, huh? I’ll tell you again later!

The only hand I ever broke was my third grade teacher’s

In third grade, my elbow accidentally broke my 60ish-year-old teacher’s hand. Her name Mrs. Stuart, and even though it was an accident, she deserved it. Let me explain.

Mrs. Stuart wore slippers to class, had super spit-filled mouth corners, and looked exactly like Mrs. Doubtfire, except maybe with grayer skin.

I found a picture of her!

She was the first teacher who ever punished me. And the biz did it three times! She yelled at me/made me write my name on the board for the following:

1. Catching a fly in mid-air and gasping too loudly. (It was awesome and surprising, who wouldn’t gasp at that?)

2. Raising my hand during a math lesson to ask if she ever used umbrellas when it was sunny out. (I deserved punishment for that one).

3. Wrassling my homie Jake at an outside-o-school party and needing stitches as a result (I didn’t really get in trouble for this, she just called me dumb).

Another terrible thing Mrs. Stuart did to not just me, but the entire class, was harass us with her sicko obsession with the 1800s. She made us watch Little House on the Prairie every Friday and gave us lessons on contra dancing. For the biggest project of the year — the Academic Fair — she forced us to choose an 1800s-related topic (I chose Rhode Island and girly Roger Williams). Worst of all, she brought us on a field trip to Norlands.

Norlands is a living history center in Maine and if it weren’t for Mrs. Stuart and her evil teacher friend, Mrs. Hicks, it’d probably be really fun. They made me dress like this, though, so it wasn’t fun at all:

Feeling womanly

Don’t let that charming picture fool you; Mrs. Stuart, Mrs. Hicks, and the Norlands peeps made me do a lot more than fluff pillows. I emptied chamber pots, went into angry chicken coops, collected eggs, broke some eggs, and got yelled at for breaking some eggs. I swept the kitchen, got yelled at for sweeping poorly, baked cornbread, got yelled at for thinking the cornmeal was chicken scratch, and served lunch to my daughter for the day, the field trip bus driver.

Did you know plumbing didn’t exist in the 1800s? The creators of Norlands did, which is why they had a weird room with several holes instead of a bathroom with a working toilet. Not wanting to waste a room with more than one poopin hole, Mrs. Stuart had us go to the bathroom two at a time. Ain’t that effed?

And ain’t it effed that they had corn cobs for wiping? (To be fair, they also had toilet paper, but my bathroommate Kayla and I wanted to be authentic — we were the only ones to go the corn cob route).

This 1800s bidnass was pretty bad, but the most effed thing Mrs. Stuart did to us students was physically abuse us. She didn’t actually hurt us, she just thought it was real cute to slap us around a bit. I ain’t agree with that.

One day after lunch, when we were all walking into the classroom in a single file line, Mrs. Stuart bopped each one of us on the head. Like everyone else, I ignored it and sat down at my desk. Then, I saw her dumb Mrs. Doubtfire face at the front of the class, so smugly, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood and went right up to that lady.

In front of the entire class, I asked why she always hit us. She giggled, spat some spit in my face, told me it was a reflex, and lifted her hand to smack my head again. Before I knew what I was doing, I yelled “SO IS THIS!” and brought my elbow down on her hand. I didn’t mean to actually hurt her, but I elbowed the shiz out of that hand. I could tell because she started crying old lady tears down that old lady face of hers.

I swear I didn’t mean to do any harm — I just didn’t know my own strength. I had gone from being little and adorable and gentle in second grade:

Ladies is pimps too gone brush your shoulders off - Christmas '97

To straight Rick Ross in third:

Beast mode - Christmas '98

Mrs. Stuart knew I didn’t mean anything by it, though. She cried but she laughed too, and she never sent me to the guidance counselor or called home or nuffin. Her hand turned purple and blew up huge, and all was fine. And that asshole learned her lesson, I’ll tell ya.