Author Archives: Dezra Despain
Today is day number 364 out of 365 days! One more day and then this project is technically over. Yet, this year was a leap year, so that means….366 days! I can either end tomorrow and call it a wrap or I can celebrate the leap year and complete the whole. Guess which one I’m doing? Yep, 366 days.
Taking a year to cull through my digital photos gave me a unique opportunity to review and remind me of the photos I have. Many photos elicited a smile while others upset me. Some photos tell a universal story while others are personal. Some photos are actually pretty decent by adhering to photographic/artistic standards, while others are a mess. I chose photos based on what I want to include in a coffee table book, so there are many photos I included that have meaning to me and many photos I excluded because I didn’t want to be reminded of the event.
I started out excited and maintained that for the most part, but then August came along and I just wanted it over. Life became stressful for me in August, and I had to let go of some activities in order to alleviate the stress. I moved this project over to Flickr and modified the process in order to help me complete the goal. I’m sad that it’s almost over. Two more days.
Here’s October’s photos:
Fascinated by the inky substance produced by these mushrooms, I wandered through their moist world to capture their various stages of growth and deterioration. These are ink cap mushrooms; coprinus comatus (for the shaggy-looking ones) or coprinus atramentarius (for the smoother-looking ones).
They are edible, but be cautious because they do not interact well with alcohol. The best time to pick them is before they begin opening their gills and secreting the ink. If these interest you at all to eat, then you must do so within hours of picking because they will continue to degrade even after picked. Alcohol should not be consumed within 48-72 hours before and after eating. Doing so causes vomiting, stomach irritation, reddening of face, agitation, and palpitations (and I’m sure other symptoms). Flavor is bland, from what I’ve read. Frankly, I don’t know why I’d eat them when there are friendlier mushrooms out there. But I loved watching them curl up on themselves and turn into an ink-like substance.
The Rocky Horror Show.
♫ It’s just a jump to the left, ♪ and then a step to the right. ♫ Put your hands on your hips. ♪ You bring your knees in tight. ♫ But it’s the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane. Let’s do the Time Warp again…♫ ♪ ♫ ♫ ♪”
I hope you’re singing! Because if you are, you’ve seen the show!!
But if you aren’t, here’s a really quick synopsis: Brad and Janet accidentally leave their innocent world and enter into the strange, alien world of transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who initiates them into a world of absolute pleasure, and where Frank introduces his Frankenstein-ish (albeit beautiful and strong) creation, Rocky. In the end, Frank-N-Furter and Rocky are killed (spoiler alert! haha, too late but it doesn’t matter, really) and Brad and Janet are released back into the real world with a deeper understanding of life while the rest of the transvestites (aliens) return home to their planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. (A more detailed plot summary can be found on IMDB.)
It is pure camp. And psychological thriller, but that’s just my opinion, apparently, since no other review sees it like that. I can’t help but see the psychological process it portrays, which will be another post for another day.
Anyway, I just want to share some of my favorite photos I took while I worked on this production. Keep in mind that I worked stage right, so all my photos are from stage right, which limited my view. On the other hand, I was able to capture perspectives not available to the audience. I felt like a voyeur, peeking in from the right when no one is looking.
Frank-N-Furter wouldn’t care. Not at all.
Rocky steps out of his pod. We used a pod to represent the place Frank-N-Furter created Rocky. I watched the audience when Rocky was revealed and there were audible gasps that even I could hear above Rocky’s soaring voice as he steps out of the pod.
We had a sheet set up between the actors and the audience so the audience doesn’t see them. Frank, Janet, and Brad played out their indiscretions behind the sheet as silhouettes. I have stage right photos of them in-focus (something the audience can’t see), but this really captures what the scene is all about. It’s all left up to the imagination….
This is my favorite photo of the whole show. Only stage right can see it because of the lighting. At this point there are only four of us on stage right, and out of all four of us, I’m the only one aware this is even happening. Shannon, who plays Frank, readies himself to go onstage for the floor show. When Shannon saw this photo, he called it his “Judy moment.”
The song “I’m Going Home” is my absolute favorite song. For me, it explains Frank’s motives for his egotistic debauchery. I can almost feel his need to return home, and the sadness knowing that he doesn’t get to.
Here are other photos I liked:
Note: The Rocky Horror Show was first staged on June 19, 1973 in London. Then they made it into a movie they called The Rocky Horror PICTURE Show, which became a cult classic. I’m sure you remember seeing midnight showings of the movie over the years. What I really like is how it became interactive, with devoted followers yelling out lines that can both shock and delight. It’s a cultural phenomenon that needs to be experienced to truly…um…understand it? (I about wrote “appreciate” but I’m sure there are those who will not appreciate it.)
When I was in my twenties, I took a long walk with a friend. We shared stories and ideas and disclosed some of our desires and fears.
I said, “You know, I’m actually really shy.”
She burst into laughter that quickly got sucked into giggles. “No you’re not!”
Startled and confused because it was so apparent to me that I was shy, I didn’t understand why she laughed. Then I reviewed my life in that split second we all have, and I started laughing with her.
I didn’t ACT shy! I acted gregarious and fun, and I drew a lot of attention to myself, especially back in my twenties. I let our conversation drop, but inside the truth remained, I’m shy. Reserved is the better word.
Since my twenties and especially in the last decade, I’ve re-evaluated my approach to life. I’m more true to myself. I’m the “shy” person I claimed to be in my twenties. Only I now recognize it as being reserved, and I’m quite comfortable being reserved.
That’s why when Zach asked if I’d get involved with The Rocky Horror Show, my response had to be quick before my reserve kicked in and made me say no.
It took a lot of willpower for me to drive downtown to Footlite Musicals by myself, park my car, and walk into the building.
I parked out back and stared at the place. A handful of men stood around the back door, hanging out like gang members. They slouched against the door, stood in the doorway, smoked, laughed. I had to walk between them in order to enter the building. I was not amused. I almost left.
In spite of the irrational fear that one of them would grab my arm and say, “You don’t belong here. Leave,” and shove me away, I stepped out of my car.
They watched me as I approached. I’m sure they were curious about me. They’d been working together for weeks, and I’m a new face, but in my mind, they glared at me. However, I had a strategy to get past them. It has worked in the past, and I knew it would work this time.
Some of them smiled back. Some looked away. One waved. I walked through the door. I made it in. Worst part over.
Crossing unknown thresholds like that unnerves me. Even back in my twenties when I was my most gregarious I had difficulty crossing unknown thresholds. That’s why I thought I was shy, but I crossed them anyway.
I found Zach. He introduced me to the stage manager, and now I’m part of the crew. I belong there.
Now, when I pass by those men hanging out by the door, I smile, say something ingenious like “hi” (I’m so creative), and sashay on inside.
The following are photos I took that first day I was there. It was tech rehearsal and ended being a long day:
Since joining the tech crew for The Rocky Horror Show, my time has been extremely limited so I haven’t posted like I wanted. I’m way behind on everything! I’m starting to catch up. The kitchen has been cleaned and laundry is being done even as I write this (oh, fresh, clean clothes, how I have missed you).
Here’s September’s photo wrap up. Today is day 334/365 (or 366, since this is a leap year). I can’t believe I only have a month left on this project. Woohoo!
Night peeked through the screened-in patio as I sat with my friends, Zach, Mitch, and Mary Kay, drinking wine and just chillin’ out. We told stories of our lives since we last met a year ago.
A bottle of wine spiked with St. Germaine passed through my glass by the time Zach said, “Dezra, you should get involved with Rocky. We’re always looking for tech.” Zach is, well, I’m not exactly sure of everything that he does, but I do know he is producing The Rocky Horror Show at Footlite Musicals. And he’s really good.
“Sure!” I said with conviction.
The best decisions are made instantly when you don’t give the judgment part of your brain a chance to jump you and toss you to the ground with its foot planted firmly on your chest in order to keep you from stepping out of your comfort zone. Wine helps, also.
Night smiled as it overheard me, because it was Night who whispered that suggestion into Zach’s ears. A month earlier it eavesdropped when I mentioned that I wanted to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show because I had never seen it before. And although I’m involved in The Rocky Horror Show and not The Rocky Horror Picture Show it’s still Rocky Horror and it’s still campy and fun. (Note: The stage play came first. When they took it to the movie theaters, they added the word Picture to the title to differentiate it from the stage play.)
Be expecting photos as I work my way through the show. I already have some really cool shots taken from stage right (where I’m stationed) and plan on taking more as the show progresses.
It’s halfway through September and I’ve not fully returned to blogging. I took August off in order to regroup and to refocus since I felt like my posts were irrelevant, and I was falling into a comfortable but uninspiring rut that consisted of my past but not my present. As much as I like the 365 Days Journey Through the Past project, I equally don’t like it because it takes up time I would rather spend doing something else with my blog.
That being said, I am still continuing the project, but I’ve taken it over to Flickr. That works for me and frees me up here to pursue other creative endeavors. I will continue to post a monthly photo wrap up, though.
List of what I love but have neglected:
- Words: creative writing, fiction, creative non-fiction and a bit of dabbling in poetry until it embarrasses me and I set it aside.
- Art: book art, collage, acrylics, art journals
- Photography: Yes, I have neglected photography. Most of what I post is from my past, not my present. One of my purposes with taking August off was to figure out what kind of photography excites me. I wrestled all month with it, teasing out the joy from the prosaic until I discovered my photographic raison d’etre. I love photo journalism. I love documenting something, ANYTHING.
- Travel: I’m more at home away from home. Always have been.
- Storytelling: Storytelling in all its forms. Fiction. Non-fiction. Photography. Art. I truly believe we are a storied people, that we live stories and live in stories, and that we yearn for them.
I’m setting into motion a couple of new projects. (I love projects!!! They give me direction and boundaries, and they end so that I can begin the next project!) These projects incorporate all of the above. They’re difficult to describe but includes all the creative things I love to do.
I wanted to include a photo for this post. I chose this one because it represents all that I love: words (graffiti), art, photography, travel—it’s on a platform next to the train tracks, symbolic of travel—and it tells a story, if not in words, in sentiment.
CNN Health contacted me recently. They saw my State Fair photos on Flickr and were interested in using possibly three of them for an online article they are doing on fair foods. Of course, I said “YES!”
But this post isn’t about my photos being selected by CNN for publication. This post is about the fact that they aren’t paying to use my photos, just giving me photo credit. What??? you say. You’re doing a freebie for CNN! How – how – how dare you.
I know. This can be a contentious topic. “I have a photo opportunity for you that will look good in your portfolio. We can’t pay you, though, but it’s a great opportunity!”
Ever heard that? I have. Many times!!!! And I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT! I take offense to it.
So why did I let CNN have my photos for nothing more than a photo credit? I have thought about this on many occasions because this tends to happen to me (though not from anyone even remotely close to CNN’s status). I have had to understand why I don’t balk at saying yes in these situations, but still adamantly oppose “taking photos for free” with the assurance that it will be a great experience for me and one I can add to my portfolio.
Here’s what I’ve discovered.
I went to the Indiana State Fair and took photos for my own enjoyment. I had no plans, other than sharing them on Flickr. It was enjoyable for me to be at the State Fair and to find photo opportunities. No one asked me to do it. And that’s the difference. NO ONE ASKED ME TO DO IT.
CNN didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, we have an assignment that will be a great opportunity for you. Take photos of fair foods and we’ll give you photo credit only. It will be a great portfolio piece.” The fact that CNN came to me and requested use of my photos is part of the original experience…something that resulted because of something I did, not something someone else asked me to do.
So I find it to be an honor that my photos have been singled out.
Here are the three photos they requested for consideration. They selected the first photo for publication. You can see the article at CNN Health and my photo is the second photo in the slide show.
Even though I took a hiatus from my blog, I did maintain the 365 Days Journey Through the Past on Flickr.
August is a very active month in Indianapolis for me. It’s Indiana State Fair time and although I don’t usually go, this year I went to take photos just for fun.
August is my birthday month…visiting my high school best friend, Laura, in Utah was a birthday present I gave myself one year.
Also, the largest gaming convention in the world, Gen Con, comes to town in August, so there are a number of costume photos. Most of the costume photos here are from 2005. I meet Laura for lunch every year at Gen Con so this year when I went, I took a lot of photos of people in costumes.
Other than those major events, the rest of the photos are pretty standard.
Sometimes a hiatus is what is needed. Sometimes daily habits become numbing and a shake-up of routine is necessary. That’s where I am right now, so I’m taking the month off from blog posting.
Since I prepped photos through tomorrow, though, I’m sharing them, mainly because I wanted to celebrate a friendship that has lasted for decades. Those kinds of friendships are few and far between.