half-here

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I don’t write much about work here, but I have a pretty amazing job at a company that doesn’t scrimp on showing its employees that they are valued. More than that, though, it’s the people I work with. They make it all even better.

I spent a week in January at my company’s office in the San Francisco Bay, and while it was busy and I didn’t get to spend any time outside (my favorite thing) at least it was nice to have not only a change of scenery, but to be able to wear cute shoes and not ruin them because of snow and salt. I’m luckier still that my dear friend will be joining our team in just one week, and I will be flying again to California to help get her started.

I also think that it’s a luxury to have a job like this. I hear too many stories about people hating their job, their workplace, or their supervisors and tolerating those things, sometimes for decades, because they have to. I’ve either been lucky or I’ve played my cards right, but my career has been full of friends, mentors, and people I respect. I wish everyone had that.

Anyway, maybe because I was there three times last year, I’m starting to have dreams about California. It’s starting to feel more like home.

And I’m getting itchy for another non-work trip. I poked around a bit on Airbnb last night, dreaming of different skies. When I do that I feel like I’m half-here, half-somewhere else… one foot in my normal world. It’s a strange feeling, but not an unpleasant one.

But I also dream in pictures. And most of my pictures, or at least the ones I feel like I’m meant to be making, are here in Michigan and of the lake, the plants, the landscape I feel connected to.

These photos are from my first roll of film of 2018. It was snowing like mad and I left the cottage to wander into the meadow and woods with the Bronica SQ-A and a roll of Ilford FP4+. There are some odd lines on a few of these images and I’m not sure what might have caused them, but they are on the film and not just on the scans. I was more worried about correct exposure with all the white, but I either lucked out a bit or FP4+ is forgiving. Either way, I like my snowy shots and feel a little more comfortable shooting in the snow now, in terms of metering (it’s still challenging in terms of managing gear, snow on lenses, cold, and wetness!).

 

San Francisco

I’m so lucky. I traveled this past week for work, and I’m so lucky because I got to squeeze in an extra day of non-work, which I spent with a coworker doing the thing I like best (taking pictures) and catching up with her and you know, I don’t think we even talked about work at all. Suzanne, you rock.

I want you to know how hard it was for me to write the headline to this post. I’m bad at headlines. Usually literary phrases or lyrics or song titles come first to mind, and okay, sometimes I use those, but I feel like I’m cheating. I mean, who doesn’t leave their heart in San Francisco? And, yeah, now I know the way to San Jose. But those aren’t my words. So, just plain old San Francisco will have to do for this post, because that’s pretty much where I was. Or, the bay area. Or, is it Bay Area? (I’m still recovering from the whirlwind trip so I’m refusing to consult my sources to check which is correct.) I was in and around San Francisco and Sonoma for work, and it was all of these things: fun, exhausting, exhilarating, enlightening, and fantastic to be face-to-face with my coworkers.

But, pictures.

I’ve given no love to my digital camera in months, and because I was tasked with photos for a work outing while I was there, I took the digital camera. Which is, like me, showing its age. A rubber grippy part of it fell off last summer and I intended to glue it back on but never got around to it and now I don’t know where that part is. A plate on a button on top of the camera, the one that shows what mode you’re shooting in, fell off while on this trip. I haven’t lost that and I’ll probably glue that back on, but I don’t need to. I’ll admit I kind of like the camera better a bit worn and ratty looking. After using old film cameras that are metal, sturdy and more substantial feeling than a modern plastic DSLR, the plastic camera feels a bit, well, cheap. Ratty and imperfect are more my style anyway. And settling on one camera and one lens is a little hard for me, but I do like a challenge. So the clunky, somewhat ratty, DSLR with 17-55mm lens came with me, jammed into my backpack not carefully at all, and they did just fine.

Also after working with black and white film for the last four months I’ll admit the ease of upload and edits was (at least a little) fun. Maybe I even missed it a bit. But I still couldn’t help but make some of the fort images black and white, a little crusty and contrasty. Maybe a little like film. Whatever. Editing is such a personal thing, dependent on mood when you sit down to do it. At least for me.

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Fort Point in the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge
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Fort Point inner courtyard

So, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point in the Presidio. I’m not delving into any history here because you can go find that yourself. I’ll just say I love a space with brick, shadows, girders and trusses, some height, an underbelly. Some grit, some history, something that takes up a sizeable amount of space. This place hit all my buttons.

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stairs and shadows

Driving through cities in the bay, the outer roads, hilly and winding roads in wine country, stuff that makes your heart jump a little with the beauty and the occasional fear of dropping off a cliff. There’s something almost a little too bright about California, too shiny, perfect and beautiful.

But I can’t get enough of it.

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boats and field
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house on stilts
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driveby

Grammar crush

I absolutely love my job as a copy editor, and not just because I get to work from home (or from anywhere that has an Internet connection), but because I work with some of the best people I know. And because I get to fix stuff, and stew over stuff, and look up stuff to see how other people are doing (or writing, or saying) that stuff.

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good morning, from my office

Yes, I’ll admit, sometimes it’s tedious. Like when I have to remove extra spaces because my coworkers are reluctant to adhere to our one space after punctuation style (but I still love them, and I don’t judge). But 99% of the time it’s fun, I get to flex my grammar muscles, and I get stymied by and also learn something every day.

Like today. I had to do some searching to see how the word “flip-flops” should be used. Hyphen? No hyphen? It’s not in my own product style guide so I didn’t have precedence. So I googled “flip flop hyphenate” and came across a Q&A article in the Washington Post* with a guy I’ve followed pretty much since the Internet showed up at the publishing company where I was working as a writer at the time. I admit it, I’ve had a grammar crush on Bill Walsh for 21 years. He’s quippy. He’s a bit flippant, but not condescending. He doesn’t stew over the rules. Be still my heart.

I love grammar. I love its conventions and rules, but I also love how it’s never static, and shifts in sometimes surprising ways. I love the things I dislike about it, even, like acceptance of certain usages that annoy me. I try, I really do try, not to be a snob about it because I am wrong sometimes often and I’m certain there are typos and incorrect usages in my own work. Feel free to point them out, even, if you’re so inclined. But ask me something about grammar, or usage, or style, or punctuation, and I will totally be in my element searching for an answer for you.

I’m smart enough to know there’s a lot I don’t know. So I’ll rely on the style books and websites like Bill’s and Common Errors (another favorite) to keep my writers sounding like the knowledgeable and intelligent people they are. Even if the grammar and usage bits only matter to me and a handful of other people.

*The article didn’t answer my question about hyphenating or not hyphenating flip-flop, although I opted for the hyphen based on other resources. And I was using flip-flop as in the footwear, not as in to be wishy-washy (ack! hyphen?) or indecisive, in case you were wondering (because you might be like me and wonder about these things). Or, more accurately, I think anyway, to change one’s mind. See? There’s a lot going on here. But aren’t we having fun?