Walking On the Outside

America, homelessness, travel

Three years ago on a visit to Chicago, while my husband and I were walking along the edge of Millennium Park, we were approached by a man asking for some money. He appeared jovial and hopeful. Feeling good ourselves, we gave him some money. He responded with “Thank you, man!” leaned in for a hug, and said to my husband “And you’ve gotta walk on the outside of her!”

A man walking on the outside of a woman is an old custom with various origins ranging from needing to keep the sword side free if it needed to be drawn, blocking a woman from the muck that splashes up from the street, and being on-the-ready to shield a woman from harm. Oh my! I’m curious to know how many men still practice this custom. It shows up in gentlemen’s etiquette guides. I don’t mind the act of chivalry, but by no means expect it. With that said, sometimes when my husband tries to shift to take the outside, I look at him with a confused look on my face and stand my ground. Sometimes I forget that he’s trying to make this gentlemanly gesture. It’s comical and sweet.

We laughed loudly and bashfully, and wished him and his partner a good night. As we continued down the way, we held each other tight, happy to have met a nice person who was down on his luck but still had a sense of humor. And with one smooth move, my husband switched places with me, and took the outside.

Chicago - Smashed Mirror Building

View from the sidewalk along Millennium Park. Chicago, Illinois. May 2013.

 

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Bodies

art, creativity, travel

Sculpting is an incredible art. It is such a gift to be able to take a raw material and be able to chisel, pinch, bend, and who knows what else, into something beautiful. I like walking around them and finding ways to find either an emotion I’m getting from it that the sculptor intended a viewer to feel, or finding an emotion I think it exudes. Below are a few photos from my travels that stuck out for me.

A woman in rapture:

mexico-city-cineteca-museo-galerianacional-sm-5

Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City (May 2016)

 

Play time:

sf2014-8

de Young Museum, San Francisco (November 2014)

 

Heavy thoughts at the river:

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Whistler, Canada (July 2016)

 

I’m ready for my close-up:

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Musee du Louvre, Paris (March 2014)

 

No one’s supposed to know:

The-Kiss-Reflection-0362.jpg

Musee Rodin, Paris (March 2014)

Next Stop: Ciudad de Mexico

travel, Uncategorized

Our annual holiday vacation is set. Destination: Mexico City! If you’ve been, I’d love to know what your favorite attraction, experience, or food adventure was!

This year’s planning was a little tough. With a very grey Seattle winter shrouding over me, wander lust hit hard. I wanted to go everywhere that was as far away from overcast and rain as possible.  I considered a few really good options in addition to Mexico City that I could not bring myself to agree to for various reasons. Then, one weekend morning, I received an alert from a travel site letting me know that tickets to Mexico City took a dive in price. I could not turn that down. I’ve had Mexico City on my radar for as long as I can remember. (Okay, I’ve been wanting to go to Mexico City since I saw the The Chipmunk Adventure in the late 80s and danced and sang along to the song “I like you very much”).

As for our accommodations, we’ll be renting a room from a couple in their secure loft. We’ll have access to kitchen, bath, and terrace with grill. On our trips to Paris and Portugal we rented entire apartments, but this time around we felt like meeting people and benefiting from their wisdom of the area. Sharing a space is also very economical.

Most of our friends are excited for us. With that said, some have asked about safety. Generally speaking, to the U.S., Mexico is a dangerous place riddled with cartel violence, random kidnappings, and more. I’ve read about these things happening throughout the country, and I’m not ignorant of the violence that happens. There are definitely places one should avoid, but I’ve also heard of pleasant experiences in Mexico City with no troubles and only minor annoyances. With a brief search, I found the following articles:

Myths of Violence in Mexico City: Is it Safe to Travel There?
by Jillian Sequeira, January 21, 2016

Mexico City Myths Debunked
by Naomi Tomky, June 8, 2015

Both articles do not deny past worries, but plainly state that it’s like any other world city and with less violence than some U.S. cities. As one points out, it’s not like we look up crime statistics when we fly to places like D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, or L.A., do we? I’d also like to point out that these posts are fairly recent and were written by women.

One piece of advice I’d not thought about was about hailing a taxis (I’m not sure how much we’ll use one, as I hear there metro system is far-reaching and trains come within minutes of each other). From various sources within the last five years, it is strongly suggested that one should not hail a taxi from the street; not even at the airport. It’s recommended that one go to a sitio stand and call to get a taxi to pick you up. With that said, some have hailed cabs from the street several times during a trip without incident. A rather involved technique one couple used was for one of them to hail a taxi and check for a posted ID and license and meter, and if it looked safe, he’d wave to his partner who was standing 40 ft away who would then run over to join him.

Personally, I think we’ll be fine. I like to think I have a good amount of common sense, and I always do a little research to remind myself of things I might not always think of. As for language, my husband has a good grasp of Spanish (he is of Mexican descent, but has spent most of his life in the U.S.), and I have some, so we won’t feel so fish-out-of-water as we did in Paris and Portugal with our limited skills. We’ve also been practicing our conversational practice semi-regularly.

Another question is in regard of the Zika Virus that has struck mainly Brazil, but has worked its way up to parts of Mexico. The virus is spread by mosquitos, and there are various theories floating around about its origin. It’s been advised for those of child-bearing age to avoid travel to climes where mosquitos can thrive. Journey Mexico has published the number of women infected and all are local cases from areas where mosquitos could thrive (damp, humid, and hot/warm places). The probability of Mexico City being affected is lower due to its high altitude. And from what I’ve read, it’s fairly dry with only 10% humidity right now and temperatures of 78F/25C. It’s suggested to be very similar in May. (Seattle is at 84% and 47F/8C today). Mosquitos thrive in warm, humid, and wet environments. And (knock on wood),  my history with mosquitoes has been that they don’t seem to like me. But just to be safe, I’ve already invested in repellent with SPF and bracelets loaded with plant oil and chemicals that should ward off mosquitos.

One thing I hadn’t thought about is the size of the city and its population. Distrito Federal (the core of Greater Mexico City) is comprised of nearly 9 million people (I checked a few sites for that number). So if there’s anything to get ready for it’s preparing for a huge population shift between here and there (Seattle’s population is 668,342 according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2014). To add to that, the elevation of the city roughly 7,200-7,300 ft. above sea level (2,250 m). Seattle sits at 518 ft/158 m. Yikes!

In the mean time, I’ll continue to read the guidebook I purchased Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler by artist/NYC transplant/16-year resident of Mexico City, Jim Johnston. He has honest and warm observations of the city and suggested walking tours I hope will help us in our daily decision-making. But one thing is for certain, we are going to try lots of food and drinks. I’m already dreaming of fresh authentic Mexican dishes under sunny skies with a cold beverage. Mmm… I can’t wait!

 

Greetings from overcast Santa Monica, CA

America, photography, travel, Uncategorized

A few snaps from this overcast day. It felt like home.

On our way to Sidecar to get lattes and donuts. Too bad the weather doesn’t match this kid’s day’s activities. 

Don’t worry. We split this between three people. From top to bottom: Apple Fritter, Huckleberry, Malasada with Haupia (Hawaiian haupia custard-filled), Buche de Noel (Chocolate and crushed pistachios on top), Butter Salt. All were delicious. We’ll have to go back tomorrow.

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Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Succulents abound in Southern California. 

Brothers checking out one of the Tongva Park lookouts onto Santa Monica Beach.

Overlooking Santa Monica Beach and Pier. This is a random gentleman enjoying the view. 

More succulents at Tongva Park and skylight windows for the public restroom beneath.

I want to say this is a fig tree. I imagine one could sit between this tree’s roots and get lost in a book 🙂

Prehistoric looking agave plant.

Lunch at Umami Burger. This was their recommended truffle burger branded with the restaurant’s “U”. Cooked medium rare and admittedly very delicious.

A quick visit to Santa Monica

photography, travel

We flew to Los Angeles for a wedding and spent a short day walking to the Santa Monica pier and just enjoying the sunshine. Seattle turned to Autumn pretty quickly, ditching our light sun dresses and flip flops for winter puffy coats and wool socks. The sunshine in Santa Monica, though a bit intense, was welcome.

Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality

A Clockwork Portrait

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Santa Monica, Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality

“Bubba Gump Shrimp’s what they got.”

Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality, Santa Monica, pier, California

Pier Goods

Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality, Santa Monica Pier, California

Shade

Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality, Santa Monica Pier, California

Sun Bleached

Photo by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality, Pacific Ocean,

I can see for miles…

Photographs by Marivic Pinedo Photography, Fighting Reality, American Flag, black and white

A Wrinkle in our Fabric

Photo of the Moment – Ah, Paris :)

travel

Suzette's

Our first airbnb experience landed us in Place D’Italie in the 13th arr. of Paris. Suzette was a great host and started our jet-lagged trip off with a fresh baguette, the butteriest of croissants and a bottle of wine. It was an excellent welcome. There was brie and jam in the fridge, too.

We are back from our trip now, and I am all over the place with organizing everything: tickets, receipts, brochures, hundreds of photos, souvenirs, and all that. Still a little out of sorts as far as time, but it’s been okay. My body wants to be on vacation. It wants to find a way to the next cafe where I can hear people speaking another language, discussing topics over wine and cheese, or steak and au gratin potatoes. My eyes want to feast on the art of history’s greatest aritsts and new ones, too.

The post-vacation blues are kind of the worst, except that we came home to a sunny weekend, a bustling farmer’s market that sold cheeses and baguettes. There was an accordion player playing the theme to the French movie, Amelie. It put a smile on our faces. Despite feeling a little gloomy, overcast hanging in the mornings, we have our memories of a city that opened our eyes, exercised our minds, and didn’t have a problem with us hanging around. It will not be our last trip to Paris. We’ll be back.

The packing challenge for a photographer like me

photography, travel

My week-long trip to Paris with my husband is almost upon us. We’re meeting a friend who has been living and teaching in the city and we’re excited to be able to pair exploring an art culture capital and spending time with him. After reading the suggested packing list from the Rick Steve’s travel website, I’ve been playing with what to bring on this trip as far as how many kinds of what article of clothing. But probably more stressful, but important, is what camera gear to bring.

Since about a week ago, I’ve considered everything from bringing multiple lenses or just one extra lens. Maybe my smaller and older DSLR which works perfectly fine, or put my new DSLR to good use. I even found myself checking out mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras, but that seemed too extravagant a decision, not to mention having to learn how to use it properly on such short notice. But I’ve figured it out.  This is what I’m bringing

– Body: Nikon D7100
– Lens: AF Nikkor 20mm / f2.8D

Here are some photography goals I’m putting into place for myself specifically for this trip:

One camera. One lens. I am petite and do not want to check a bag. I decided lighter is better for me. On my last big trip to Chicago, I had three lenses and the whole bag served as my personal item for the plane, making it so that I had to check a bag. Flying international, I am not interested in standing at the carousel and waiting for my bag to pop out. I want on and off and into a train or cab as soon as possible. The 20mm is wide, but cropped anyway.  I plan to utilize the 1.3x crop feature to get in “closer” without having to move my feet. I know I’m not actually getting closer, but I’m tricking myself to believe I’m getting closer. There are times when I want to compose tighter and know when I need the extra angle of view. I walked around town yesterday and tried it out and I’m happy enough with how it works:

Image

In-camera 1.3x cropping in D7100 using AF Nikkor 20mm/f2.8 prime lens. Standing across the street from this establishment, the image on the left is before the 1.3x crop.

 

We are not going to be on-the-go like the last time we were in Paris, so I want to take advantage of the strolls around town and just breathe.

Get it right in-camera. I was perusing a flickr forum about the lens I’m brining. One person brought up something unrelated to the lens, but a practice that I learned about in photography school. It’s something that makes tons of sense to me when shooting with film, but is something I neglect when shooting digital, which is to get it right in-camera. My Digital I – Photoshop Fundamentals instructor stressed that just because you can shoot off dozens of frames for one shot doesn’t mean you should or have to. You just end up with these extra shots that take up memory card space. It serves as digital waste. So, positively speaking, I want to get it right in-camera. I want to take my time composing and work to expose no more than three times per shot. If it doesn’t work, maybe it wasn’t meant to be 🙂

Have fun with my friends. It can be difficult being the only person with a camera. Sometimes I end up straying from the group. As someone who enjoys abstract and street photography, It is not my first instinct to take pictures of my friends and family, which means my presence can be practically non-existent. This becomes a drag for them, and I end up feeling guilty about not being around. I want to find balance and remember that this trip is not a photo expedition for just me. It’s a trip to spend time with loved ones and relax and take it all in. I want to avoid menu-diving into my camera. I want to have conversations, play board games, pose for a few shots, discuss the use of thick brush strokes on a canvas at a museum, or practice some Kung Fu forms along the Seine! Awareness of my surroundings will be key.   

For now, I say adieu!

 

Note: I am not a professional photographer.  This post is not intended to be professional advice about travel photography. This is a personal reflection on what I want to do for myself to make my travel and photography experience one that serves me well.