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To hell and back in a year

Where do I even begin? Like most, 2020 has been a doozy. 2019 really kicked it off for me though, so we’ll start there.

In the later half of 2019 we uprooted and moved to East Oakland so I could be closer to my new job in SF. The apartment was fantastic, but the neighborhood was rough as expected, our cars were broken into, people shot in the street in front of us, the whole stereotypical East Oakland experience. Then around thanksgiving my boyfriends mom died suddenly, and I was laid off by my job (with severance thankfully). New Years Eve 2019-2020 I found myself wishing that 2020 would bring in a new year for my personal growth.

Be careful what you wish for.

By the end of Feb I finally was hired on at a new exciting startup changing the lives of many. Finally, a company with a soul and a clean purpose. Two weeks into enjoying a reason to put on pants and makeup again the pandemic hit and the first major lockdown happened. I was working from home suddenly so I did what every normal millennial does and stocked up on office supplies and a printer for the first time in years.

2 more weeks into that and I get the devastating news that in order to preserve our startup runway funding, we’re all taking pay cuts instead of being laid off. My pay was reduced by 75% and I no longer could afford living in the bay area. So we started making plans to move back to Sacramento with my family until we could get financially stable again. $3600 later and less a couch, we were back in Sacramento squeezing our king sized bed, two humans, and a dog into my parent’s spare bedroom.

To say this felt like a low point would be an understatement. But don’t worry it gets lower. After months, possibly years of deliberation, my bf and I called it quits on our relationship of 4 years. Initially it was mutual and amicable, but as these things go on hurt is uncovered. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be friends again which is unfortunate but I understand the hurt and the why.

So here I am again, single dog mom at 35 living at home with my parents while I am saving to buy my first home because the idea of paying $3600 ever again to a landlord is absurd.

I can’t leave you like this though. There is a huge upside to all of this. Moving back home changed something in me, maybe the pressure of being here without privacy 247 or the pressure of the pandemic which is affecting us all. I discovered a new side to myself. I have spent the last 6 months undergoing the most intense spiritual awakening of my life and for that, I am so grateful for. More on that later.

Also, I’m happy to report my salary has stabilized a bit and I’ve been saving money like crazy for a down payment on a house.

So there you have it. A quick recap on the fuckery that has been my last 12 months. I have no expectations for 2021 at this point.

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Sutro Baths

For years I’ve always wanted to visit the Sutro Bath ruins in San Francisco. I had read about them, a couple of my friends had done modeling gigs out there, its in the bay area, old and run down… just my style. Over the summer I finally got around to visiting and to be honest, it was cool but I guess I had built it up for so long in my head I was a little underwhelmed when I got there. For some reason I thought it would be off the beaten path more, and boy was I wrong. Negativity aside, it was a pretty sight and somewhere I’d totally go just to hang out and relax at.

note to self, pack a lighter camera bag next time, walking up that hill was a bitch…i’m so out of shape lol

i love the weathered paint

The whole time I was here, I was trying to imagine it in its heyday, people running around, kids splashing, modest womens bathing suits and swimcaps, with a view of the ocean just a sheet of glass and steel away.

definitely not water I’d want to play in, but it looked peaceful enough.

on the other side of this wall…about 3 different brands of tall cans in the sand

i’m a sucker for well placed graffiti

I had a nice time there at Sutro, and judging from google maps pictures, it seems to be a popular stop for tourists since its so close to the Cliffhouse. Its definitely somewhere you should check out if you feel like getting away from the city for a little bit.

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small change of plans

So I mentioned the other day how I was gonna head out to Berkeley for the day and poke around, my original plan was to hit up Tilden Park and get some nature shots, maybe some sunset shots over the bay…and then I realized…how often do I actually get the balls to drive out to SF for a day? Not very often. How many things have I yet to do in the city even though I only live an hour and a half away? Lots. Visiting Sutro Baths has been on my to do list forever it seems like (totally overrated by the way), and up until last year I had never been to Golden Gate Park, it had been over 15 years since I had seen the Palace of Fine Arts, and very rarely do I actually STOP to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. So I said what the hell and made my way into SF.

every tourist needs a typical landmark shot :)

Being the solo type of girl I am when I travel and photograph stuff I realized how challenging it can be at times. First off, I truly believe no matter how many places you’ve been, how talented an artist you are, you NEED the typical tourist shot in front of a landmark. Seriously I don’t care how cliche it is, you earn the right by traveling in the first place- even if its somewhere close. This belief brings up its own set of problems like… whos gonna watch my crap while I go get this shot that’s hella [yes I really just said hella, thats my NorCal kicking in] tricky to get? How the hell am I gonna ask these tourists who don’t even speak the same language as me to take my photo, oh and have them NOT rip off my stuff? What happens if I attract the wrong kind of attention? These are all very real issues us girl photographers have to deal with.

I think there are a few key things a girl needs to have with her to be able to successfully photograph and travel alone, 2 of these things I have been lusting after for the past couple months.

1. An extendable handheld monopod…¬†for taking those touristy photos without having some stranger run off with your camera.

avoid going myspace style with the arm in front of you in every picture (i really need one of these)

2. A really good camera backpack, because shoulder bags swing and can seriously throw you off balance. Let me tell you a story, once upon a time I was climbing across some boulders holding an ice chest in one hand, I lost my balance for a quick second and accidentally over-corrected, resulting in me not only breaking my foot trying to regain balance, but falling backwards straight onto a jutting?jetting?whatever, it was sticking OUT rock, ready to break my spine. Now replace the ice chest with a camera bag and you have a very expensive photo trip with broken bones and lenses. Not ideal. The moral of this story? Splurge on a good backpack. This one may not be as cutegirly as this red one I saw, but it has a built in camel pack, side access so you don’t have to completely remove the pack, and its super sleek and lightweight- perfect for your womanly body.

it also comes in tan, i think this is the one i'm going to save up for

3. I’ve mentioned before how you can use a tripod as a weapon if you must (yes I was totally serious), but if you’re cameras already attached to it I highly doubt you’re going to want to whip that in someones face. Walking around SF by myself I decided since I was alone and with expensive (read: attractive to thieves) equipment that I’d have my pepper spray close by just in case- cause you really never know, and this is where my moms overprotection my whole life kicks in. I have a carabiner I use as a keychain and I clipped my pepper spray to my bag so I could easily unclip it and have it ready. Seriously, women, you never know, always be ready to defend yourself because yes, it could happen even to you.

I originally meant to just tell you about my change of plans for the day but I got seriously sidetracked once I realized how much of a hassle it can be traveling alone sometimes (but totally worth it, especially the part about being on your own timetable). ANYway, I hope I helped you gals with your photo travels out there.