Shenaniganery Leave

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

Jacksonville, FL

Been a bit remote from the modeling/photography aspect of my trip for this last week, admittedly. I've had the week off from shoots [and from hanging out with industry people...not that you guys aren't awesome, but I try my hardest not to balkanize too singularly in any sort of group, no matter what it is, and to traverse as much of the spectrum of personalities and lifestyles as I can handle], and spent a while in Facebook jail. Not that I don't stress out about finances like the next model, but when life gives me a cluster of cancellations all together...I tend to take it as a sign to go on shenaniganery leave and play. Especially if I'm traveling through beautiful places full of beautiful people. Yadda yadda.

So, I've been living and laughing and getting up to shenanigans and have generally felt very lovey-dovey and blissed-out and almost uncomfortably lucky, like the karmic Daddy's Girl trustafarian of a benevolent universe. Admittedly I've got a bit of cosmic-privilege guilt.

Now I'm back in bumptious-Internet-diplomat-slash-froofroo-camera-tart mode, though, with renewed gumption! Granted, that gumption's being counteracted by lots of fatigue. Just arrived in the endless sprawl that is Jacksonville [the largest contiguous city, by area, in the US]. Now I'm back on the shoots-all-the-time train for a little bit; I've got makeup on for the first time this year. Excited to be working for the first time with a lot of clients who, at the very least, seem like they're going to be awesome. So my next post is probably going to be just as directly-related-to-modeling as this post is decidedly-not-related-to-modeling-whatsoever.

As with all life's best times, there's only so deeply I'm inclined to disclose the details of what nonsense I've been getting up to.

So here's a disjointed-scrapbook-version.

Plantation yielded unexpected but really precious solitary days full complete lack of obligations, which were spent reading and fraternizing with weird feline creatures and hanging out idly in a pool. The hours of lazy solitude were punctuated with the company and banter of eloquent, snarky people who tied me up [but not before feeding me tacos]. 

Leaving there, I had my first taste of biking in real rain en route to West Palm Beach. Along the crumbling shoulders of interstates that really aren't suited for biking, crossing over exit lanes not meant to be crossed, all while being doffed around by the wind and barely able to see. Mildly terrifying.

But it's those moments when I feel alive, to be honest. Getting pounded by Mama Nature, incapable of a wandering thought, slightly scared for my life but bolstered by the hysterical absurdity of existence.

...Uh, don't mind me. It's possible that I tend to romanticize the crap out of things.

I think there might've been a lot of laughing and "whoo"-ing and leaning-my-head-back-to-gulp-down-rainwater-because-I'd-lost-all-my-water-bottles-and-needed-to-get-new-ones. No matter how much I've tried to preempt my own absent-mindedness, I've still managed to lose one thing at every stop. But for every one thing I've lost, I've also been given at least one way-cooler-than-the-thing-I-lost gift along the way.

Anyway. Then I got to West Palm Beach. And that was when my residually-ingrained-american-workaholic-sensibilities ran completely dry for a while. Got twitterpated over some really amazing people; Saint Patricks Day happened; went scuba diving while extremely sleep-deprived and hungover [a judgment call that, in retrospect, I absolutely do not recommend...well, if you've barely dived and are a subpar swimmer, like I am, at least].

Generally I try to err on the side of leaving a place prematurely: I like to walk out the door with people already excited for my return, as opposed to relieved that I'm finally out of their hair. Especially when it comes to places and people I'd truly like to see again [after so many years of wandering around, I've become incrementally better at predicting which experiences are doomed never to progress from their pilot episodes and which might proffer further material...it's a tough thing to really know, I am capricious and so seems to be life, but I'm starting to not suck at guessing]. 

But I stayed kind of quite a bit longer than I originally expected and hope I didn't manage to overstay.

In St. Augustine, while deliberating over where I'd stay [since I had no idea], I bumped into a woman I'd met weeks earlier at the Everglades Hostel in Homestead, who happened to be camping at a state park a mile or two away and told me I could joink a bit of her campsite for my newly-gifted tent, and she'd even make me coffee and breakfast in the morning. [Incidentally, her name is Kevin—which I mention because I think that Kevin is such an awesome name for a lady, and should become a thing.]

Here, have some more photos-without-context!

It's become an ongoing motivation of mine to figure out how I can live up to the amount of good luck I've had, and to the extent to which people spoil me for no ostensible reason. I guess I'm kind of trying to reverse-engineer karma. Though I can't really afford to believe in karma, because if I believed my surplus of luck was a result of deservingness it'd give me a big head.

I mean. I spent a week fucking around and being a goon and having a great time of it. And now I'm in Jacksonville, and everything's going better than right, and people are being all exceedingly awesome and kind at me all over again, except this time they're cyclists and clients instead of divers or shibari enthusiasts.

Life's being really nice to me, and it almost makes me nervous. There are people out there "saving the world" or trying to in myriad ways.

...Then there's this scruffy kid on a bicycle with bad table manners, reclusive tendencies, a potty mouth, and a proclivity for nudity, stumbling around trying to figure out what it is I value and, meanwhile, falling into opportunities I've had neither the creativity to synthesize nor the qualifications to warrant, and managing to ward off what should've been dire or fatal consequences with trivial bribes: new scars, lost money, some heartache here and there. In other words, pretty low dues.

Trying to figure out whether there's a greater virtue buried in there, somewhere, that I'm overlooking. Or a catalyst to direct me thusly.

Photos: Theresa Manchester, Miami Beach, FL, just as the sky began boiling over with the delicious tempest that'd ravage us as we trudged the long walk home, cackling maniacally the whole way. Or, well, I was cackling...

Anthropological Upshot of Being a Ham

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

Plantation, FL

My mornings at Henry and David's house in Miami were relaxing and lazily fluctuated between easy conversation and solitarily sitting in the sun, drinking too much coffee, watching the dogs stare dolefully at me, watching the cat almost choke on a live lizard, and working on a bit of tan line reduction for the sake of my upcoming shoots.

On Day 9, Rumi came to pick me up for my first modeling job of the trip [not to mention my first ever shoot in Florida] at a Weston condo for a laid-back half day of portraits, figure work, glamour shots, and painting references [I even got to read his new Alan Watts book for a few minutes of more candid/unrehearsed portraiture—nothing like getting to read a good book on the job]. We'd previously worked together twice in the DMV area and I hadn't seen him for a couple years. We discussed our mutual inability to understand golf, Madagascar, prohibiting oneself from aspiring to one's dreams out of fear or guilt, and in between changing locations and lighting set-ups I flipped through a couple books containing photos he'd taken in Cuba.

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

Photo: David Arran, Miami, FL

One of my favorite aspects of this job isn't the modeling itself—it's the spectrum of people I get to meet and briefly connect with in a one-on-one setting. A photographer can be anyone from a straight-up professional photographer [and, even then, they might make a living as a fashion photographer, a stock photographer, a wedding photographer, a glamour nude photographer, or shooting senior portraits...] to an art student [and then, that might be a young precocious art student, or it might be someone who's recently immigrated or left a more conventional career with dreams of being an artist], and retired hobbyists from all manner of professions and backgrounds. 

The interaction is ephemeral, and sort of "outside" of society [particularly during a nude shoot, which is an rather unconventional way to first meet someone], so oftentimes conversation quickly transcends stifled small talk. On drives to shoot locations, or while changing lights, or while taking breaks to re-up on coffee or Calories or change outfits, talk gets real, quickly, between people who might never cross paths otherwise. 

Modeling ensures me a life richly furnished with other people's stories: hilarious, tragic, intimate, extraordinary, and taboo. Survival stories, existential woes, forgotten dreams, marriage gripes. I've left shoots with new books on everything from quantum physics to the history of skepticism. I've left them with beadwork from Panama and cigars from the Dominican Republic and homemade wine and contacts for seasonal jobs in Antarctica. And my shoots often involve being privy to the unique perks of different people's lives and jobs: I've gotten to drive heavy machinery, smash a car, and wield oxyacetylene torches; I've gotten to hang out in eye-bogglingly fancy high-security establishments, pretending to be similarly pristine and decadent...but keenly aware of how long ago I last washed my hair in reality; I've gotten to crawl through secret tunnels and storage vaults in giant museums and take a bird's-eye peek down at dinosaur skeletons from above; I've been immersed in an intentional living community in the mountains, where I was dressed up as Disney princesses. All because of modeling.

It's an aspect to being a freelance traveling model that's rarely discussed but, for me, randomness and anthropological interest are key highlights of this job. Learning about different lives.

On my last day in Miami, Henry took me J. Wakefield Brewing, which just opened up in Wynwood. Fanfuckingtastic beer! Went home for my shoot with David [and we let Henry photograph me, too; he scuba dives and does awesome underwater photography but this was his first time photographing a nude model], who then took me out to dinner, gave me a parting gift of a few small bottles of scotch, and passed me off to his awesome partner Sarah who is now hosting me in Plantation. Today Sarah's been at work and I've had a mellow solitary day in of reading [Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino], catching up on emails, and hanging out in her pool.

I've been so well cared for by good people on this entire trip, and these last few days in particular have been so easygoing...I'm quite spoiled. Where'd all the brutal, validating struggle and turmoil I'm supposed to be undergoing disappear to? 8P

Anyway, these few days of modeling and relaxing have been a good little holiday from sweating and pedaling and sleeping-behind-random-buildings, but the riding will be resuming pretty soon and my next cluster of gigs aren't till Jacksonville!