Dare to Dream

I’ve always been fascinated with photography.  It is one of my passions, right up there with writing.  When it comes to a career, I would prefer it over almost anything else.  The freedom to traverse the globe and snap photos would appeal to anyone, I’m sure, but for me… I’m just obsessed with history, with culture, and with nature in general.  To capture it in a way where the photo tells its own story, without the addition to words?  That’s mastery.  I’d love to be a part of something like that, to be able to create words with pictures, to spur emotions, to bring back a time and memories long forgotten.

Needless to say, the first thing on my “unnecessarily expensive things to buy when able” is a DSLR camera.  I favor the canon line over Nikon, it’s just personal preference, both are very amazing companies that put out some amazing DSLR cameras.

Key West brings out the photographer within.  I love just wandering the keys and taking pictures.  If I had a better camera, I’d be a bit more risky with my shots.  I got some amazing ones last year, with my grandfather’s Canon Rebel EOS.  I’m one of those people who will stop a stranger on the street and ask if I can take a photo of them.

Taken from a moving tour train; a whitewashed stone church.

It’s become a combined joy for my husband and I.  We love running around and just taking pictures.  We take the camera with us everywhere now.  It has several scratches from being carried around in my purse or his pocket.  Key West is what really brought it all to a steady boil.  We spent as much time enjoying the island as we did taking pictures of it!

The skyline in Key West is amazing.  This was taken from the car.

On the way home, I started challenging myself with more difficult pictures.  Husband would point out things, like airplanes landing in Miami or taking off.  Distant, faint dots on the horizon, but with our camera?  They took shape and form.  I managed to not only zoom in enough to read the side of the airplane, but also got it stabilized enough for it to not be blurry.  Go me!

Unfortunately, there seems to be a dead pixel in the camera already, sigh.

Sunset at the docks in front of our condos as viewed by two people on the docks.

Still, it’s shaped up to be a pretty good camera.  Not comparative to a DSLR, but unfortunately, that isn’t in the books.  Soon, though.  Very soon, I’m hoping.  It will be a one-time purchase, as they tend to last a good while.  My grandfather’s is several years old and still amazing.  I bought him a separate flash for it as a Christmas present, which he loved!

Hemmingway house gardens.

How awesome would it be if we could all persue our dream jobs?  I could be traveling the world right now, taking pictures and getting paid for it.  Instead of being the sheltered person I am now, I could be worldly, outgoing, and happy.  Unfortunately, its not to be.  Still, it’s fun to dream, isn’t it?

Key West & The Wedding

Whew.  It seems almost insane to try and sum everything up into some kind of neat little post.  I had every intention of trying to blog throughout the vacation, but I really didn’t even think of it.  We were really busy with the wedding stuff and then showing my dad and family around, as well as seeing some of the sights ourselves and just enjoying the break.  We won’t get a ‘real’ honeymoon, so that’s as close as it got, haha.

Filling out the paperwork... thrilling, really.

The wedding itself was pretty amazing, even if everything that happened beforehand was extremely hectic and taxing.  We arrived at Key West late Sunday afternoon and spent most of the day just trying to unwind from the lengthy car trip.  The following day, Monday the sixth, was the day of the ceremony.  We had until six o’clock to get everything ready.  We got our marriage license pretty early, around ten am.  We ran back real quick, and then around noon, it was time to go pick up my dad and his family (his dad, stepmom, stepgrandma, and his sister) up from the ferry dock.  By the time we got everyone settled, it was time to run and try to get flowers, last-minute.  My mother-in-law and I nearly pulled our hair out trying to find the place, but once we did, we ended up with a great little boquet of white orchids and seagrass.  It was simple and perfect.

We boarded the ferry to take us to Sunset Key around 7:15 so we’d arrive early enough to snap some photos and whatnot beforehand.  Racing with the sunset isn’t fun business.  We had about six or so people with cameras, all snapping photos at once.  We’ve got quite the wide assortment of angles and everything… which is nice, but not so much when we’re all looking at a different camera!

We got a little panicky waiting for the notary to arrive… the sun was setting fast and I was worried we were going to miss our opportunity.  He finally arrived and everything got started.  Of course, I ended up crying through most of it, because I’m a big baby.  I wrote our vows, last minute, while I was sick and tired.  I hadn’t really thought about them.  Well, apparently my subconcious had, because I was a blubbering mess.  We’ve been through a lot, in our friendship and our relationship.  The entire moment, it was just a culmination of so much work and not to sound cliche, but love, too.

Of course, everyone has ten million photos documenting my sobbing mess.  Fantastic.  Thanks, family.  Love you, too.  Chris was trying not to cry the entire time, because when I cry?  So does he.  So it is kind of funny to look back at the pictures and see his uber concentration face, trying so hard to keep it together!  My dad was crying, too.  It’s a domino effect… I cry, the males close to me cry.  I’m not big on crying, thank goodness!

I should probably also mention we sat down and had ‘drinks’ before the ceremony, too, since we arrived so early.  The woman over the place was in a panic, no one had told her there was a wedding until the last minute… so she was falling all over herself trying to make us happy.  I’ve been lower-middle class most of my life, so being treated like a rich high roller was pretty fun!  I’m not big on alcohol, but Chris and I both had drinks.  I only drank half of mine, but I swear they made it stronger than usual.  It was just a strawberry daquiri!  Needless to say, I had some issues not falling in the sand, which was pretty hilarious.  I’m also blaming my crying on that.  Yep.

After the ceremony, we all went back to the beachfront restaurant and lovely table where we had drinks to have dinner.  My father-in-law arranged everything and it was beyond anything Chris or I could have imagined.  It was fantastic.  I will be forever grateful, truly.  We also had a ton of party crashers.  People staying on the island stopped and watched while sitting in beach chairs.  We had a party boat filled with drunk people pass by right after we exchanged our vows and the DJ jumped on the loudspeaker to congratulate us, followed by a bunch of drunken woo’s.  We had a few boat watchers, actually.  Which is just too funny!

We were definitely all exhausted by the time everything was said and done!  We didn’t get off Sunset Key until around eleven pm.  We were the last ones to leave the restaurant, ha!  Against our protests, my in-laws decided to get us a room separate from everyone to keep up appearances.  So Chris and I stayed at the Double Tree Resort while everyone else went back to their condos and respective rooms.  For just wanting a simple and fast wedding, I’m extremely pleased, even if it was so much more and bigger than I could have ever anticipated.  I’m just sad my true grandparents couldn’t be there.  I know Chris feels the same.  Both sets of our maternal grandparents are the ones who are a big deal for us and neither set could make it due to their health.

The rest of the week was a lot more low-key.  The next morning we met up with my dad’s side of the family and went on a tour around the island, which was a lot of fun.  It was extremely hot, though, apparently the hottest day of the year down there.  It was only fitting, since we got lucky and were married during the full moon… which is pretty cool!  We saw all kinds of sights through Tuesday and Thursday, including the Butterfly place where everything flies free and the Hemingway house filled with cats.  Chris has been going down there for over  decade, but everything is still new and exciting for me!  My dad definitely had a blast.  I hated to see him and his family leave late Wednesday.

I love my dad.  I was so glad he was there.

The rest of the vacation was spent just relaxing and enjoying everything we could.  We went on a Ghost Tour, but that was extremely disappointing.  We spent a day at the Dolphin Research Center, though, and both Chris and I got to play with dolphins!  It was awesome.  I love dolphins.  Next time, I want to actually swim with one.  I could spend days there.  It was so much fun.

We spent a lot of money, though.  A little more than we had anticipated.  Chris has a lot saved up, but still.  I mean, it was a one-time thing and it was our only chance to really have somewhat of a ‘honeymoon’… but I’m a real stickler about money and so is Chris.  We’ve got a lot coming up in the next few months.  We got a lot of money gifts from family so that helps at least.

Chris and I did a lot of stuff on our own and it was definitely awesome to have a condo all to ourself.  There’s a ton of stuff I’m not mentioning, but this is a long post and I mostly just wanted to get as much typed as I could while it was still fresh in my mind.  There’s tons of wedding stuff I left out, but I doubt I’ll forget any of that anytime soon!  It was a great time, we hated to leave.  I’m still not used to the whole ‘married’ thing.  I can’t imagine changing my name, that’s going to be weird and complicated.

It will also mean I’m no longer a resident of Pennsylvania.  Losing my name and my state?  Big stuff.

But definitely worth it.


I’m still kind of in shock.  Like the sort of shock where you just sit and stare; you want to do something else, but you can’t stop.  It’s too much.  It’s like a sensory overload–a cacophony of loud, obnoxious noises; your vision dims and you’re just staring, staring at nothing and everything.  I can’t think, my ability to formulate a proper thought has flown out the window.  My mind is occupied with silence, but the deafening kind.  I’m just in shock.

My mother threw out my old computer.  The one I was coming to recover.  My hard drive, everything.  The stuff I’ve written, collected, compiled over years and years.  Six years?  Maybe longer, maybe more, out there for the world’s prying eyes and fingers to uncover.  For someone to erase, to be thrown in a landfill, whatever.  It’s gone.  I’ll never see any of it again.  I feel empty, like my desk, like this place that used to be home.

The house is a hollow, disgusting shell.  Things strewn about like careless garbage; pets locked in cages or so starved for attention they clamor at your feet.  It’s wrong, all wrong, and I can’t take it.  I can’t abide this, I can’t allow it to continue.  How can anyone?  I can’t stay there.  I’m at my first home, the place I know from birth… next door, my maternal grandparents’ house.  Refuge.  They protect me like toy soldiers, warding off my mother.  But do they protect me or her from me?  I can’t know, I don’t want to know.  It’s too much.

My heart hurts.  Already I’ve cried around five times.  I don’t care, I can’t hold it in.  It hurts, everything hurts.  There is no wall, no protective barrier.  I’m caught off guard, I can’t react fast enough.  It’s too much.

I feel sick.  Too much.  I can’t think.  My mind is swimming.

All I can feel and think and act is realization.  This is not my home, not anymore, not ever again.  It’s a shell, a ghost, an empty husk.  I just want to turn around and leave, pretend I saw nothing, feign ignorance.  But I can’t.

I have to do something.

In Like a Lion?

So, it’s March.  Holy crap.  I’m still kind of in shock.  This time, last year, I was preparing a small arsenal of things to haul with me down here to the Tri-State area.  I was still kind of apprenhensive about living with my soon-to-be in-laws and working.  Now it’s nearly been a year.  Damn.  It’s felt like more than a year, and yet in some ways, it hasn’t.  It’s weird how time works.  When you think it’s moving slowly, it’s actually zipping forward at record speeds.

Today, however, seems to be dragging on as slow as molasses.  Maybe it’s because I feel like a nervous mother who has just sent her child off to kindergarten.  The fiancé’s first day of work with the WV State Police as a Forensic Analyst began today, this morning, actually.  He left around 7:15am.  Of course, I woke up with him and demanded he eat breakfast.  I’m insanely maternal like that.  When he left, I went back to bed and awoke an hour or so later to Loki-cat sleeping in the little space where I had curled up.  His head was resting on my leg.  It made me happy and sad… sad mostly, because I miss my cat tremendously.  Especially when I wake up.  She always slept with me and I awoke to the sound of her purring.  I want so badly to have her with me again, it tears me up to leave her alone.  I can’t wait until we get an apartment.

The fiancé insists on working at his old job on weekends, so I’m still working Saturdays and Sundays.  This means I have every weekday off and I’ll be without the fiancé until at least 4pm.  I’m not even sure what to do.  It’d be different if this were my house, but it isn’t, so really… I don’t have any cleaning or maintenance to do.  I guess I’ll have to focus on wedding stuff and planning on when I need to go back to PA for a week.  Buh.  The wedding stuff is annoying, I didn’t want a ‘real’ wedding because of the annoyance… but it seems they are annoying no matter how small or minute.

I still need to get my dress altered and I have to pick out jewelry.  Which is easy, since most of it is cheap.  I also need shoes… not so easy.  I saw some jewelry at WalMart that was really shiny and pretty, but impossibly fake… but also very cheap.  Hey, it all looks the same in pictures, you know?  So if I can’t find anything else, I’ll definitely be getting that, because it would look great with my dress.  I am also probably the only female who didn’t know that people had ‘wedding showers’.  The conversation that resulted in this discovery was rather hilarious.

MIL, smiling: “Lee wants to throw you a shower!”

Me, incredulous: “…but I’m not pregnant!”

MIL, looking at me as if I have twenty heads: “NO!  A wedding shower!  God, sometimes I wonder what planet you’re from.”

Me too, MIL.  Me too.

And then, to make matters worse?  She busted into our room last night as we were relaxing and getting ready to go to bed.  She started tormenting my fiancé with a mother’s love, which is always hilarious.  She tries to hug and kiss him and he feigns repulsion and pushes her away.  She eventually pulls out some scissors and starts working them.  I jokingly ask her if she’s sure she wants to castrate her only chance at grandchildren.  She says the following:

“I had a dream last night.  You know, one of my dreams.  It was a cute little baby girl with a tag.  The tag said, ‘A Gift from God.’  I think it means someone who isn’t ready for a baby yet has one.  I wonder who?  I wonder what it means.”

Good thing she doesn’t know our planned name for our daughter, if and when we have one, is Evangeline.  That could’ve been messy…

Remembering Key West…

I went to Key West, Florida with the fiancé and his parents on July 4th to the 14th. We were there for eleven days, but it’s a day and a half drive down and the same coming back. That’s right, we drove. I was a little anxious about that, I mean, being stuck a sedan with all your luggage for around 13 hours a day with your fiancé and his family… I love his parents, but come on. That is a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, I was wrong. We all got along fine and I got to hear some truly amusing stories. It was definitely cramped, though, with the fiancé and me in the backseat with the cooler and snacks. On the ride down, I spent a lot of time with my head resting on his lap and watching the clouds pass by. He spent all his time switching between reading I Am Legend and playing Final Fantasy Tactics A2. It was my first time going South, so it was interesting to watch the changes.