Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So... I realize that the only reference you all have of me is probably that picture of me in the mask on the sidebar.  And that's... kind of a shame.  Partially because I'm vain.  Partially because I'm very much in a share-y mood.  Have some pictures of me. 

All of the preceeding were from a photoshoot I did for Vaudezilla.  All images are (C) Callie Lipkin.  This is what I enjoy doing with my life.  Neat, huh?

Monday, February 27, 2012

The business side of things

I will be the first to admit that I have a serious problem.  I think of everything I do as a means to make money. 

"Hold it."  You say.
"That's great!" 

While I definitely consider it an asset to be thinking of things in terms of earning potential, especially as an individual with an eye on living off the grid, as it were, the kind of thinking I am prone to is dangerous and frustrating. 

I'm not putting the cart before the horse.  I'm putting the cart before a planet made of lava and potential and just sitting there and hoping the horse eventually evolves so that I can hitch the two together and go on my merry way. 
I'm sitting around and thinking about how nice it would be to be able to make a living solely off of burlesque and photography (and maybe with a little help from blogging about what it's like to be a burlesque-dancing, world-traveling, generally awesome photographing machine), but I have relatively little in the way of planning the actual steps I need to take to get there.  For example, I'm not even sure what I would do.  Obviously, I've got the burlesque part down. That is something for which I have already had an a-ha moment.  (No, not like Take On Me...)  But the photography part, and even the part where I put all of this together into a serendipitous perfection (that also happens to make me ridiculously wealthy somehow.), remains nebulous. 

I'm stuck in a world of pretty thoughts, because it is easier to say "Wouldn't it be nice if..." than it is to say "This is what I am going to do"... and then going and doing it.  The fact is, I know next-to-nothing about business, overhead, how much I really need to live (more than I'm making right now, certainly).  And I know relatively little about my own photography background except that I vastly prefer working in the darkroom, and that I probably could make it as a portrait photographer, if I really wanted to, though my love will always be art photography.  And the only thing I know about blogging is that, if I just start writing, eventually I'll get the hang of things, and this all won't seem so stilted and awkward. 

But I'm in a phase where I'm doing a lot of research.  I'm reading a lot of blogs.  About photography.  About business.  About blogging.  And I'm getting terrified and frustrated by the whole prospect, because I know that I want to get to that place eventually, but I'm not sure where that place even really is, or if my skills and interests will hold up to the challenges.  My personality is nothing if not capricious, and so I ebb from one thing to the next more quickly than the tides. 

And I worry.  About money, mostly.  My financial situation is precarious at best, and I have been in a blind desperate panic to better it for years.  Due to that panic, I have actually steadily decreased my standard of living for the last three years.  All I think about is what I can do to make money, but because I'm on the run, none of these things are well-thought-out, practiced, etc.  I'm just desperate to not have to do what I've been doing, and equally desperate to replenish my stores, and pay down my debts.

So, here I am.  Sitting on a rock in the midst of an infant planet.  Lava flows all around.  Just me and my cart.  Waiting for that damned horse. 
Well, it's a new week, and here I am, back again.  Lucky me, because I work in a theatre, and we run shows all weekend, I have Mondays off, and it's a perk I've quite gotten used to.  Most Mondays, I'm appreciative of getting to run around the world while everyone else (so it seems) is stuck at work.  At the very least, even when I'm so busy trying to catch up from the week prior, I'm still thankful that I at least get to take my paycheck to the bank, instead of having to mail it back to my parents. 

Today is one of those fortunate days.  I had time yesterday to do some catching up, and the class I've been taking on Mondays wrapped up last week.  (That is sadface for other reasons, but for right now, it's a blessing)  I think I'm going to take my cameras (The DSLR and the Holga, as those two are actually functional at the moment) on my weekly trek downtown, and perhaps have a bit of a city-wandering adventure. 

I almost cannot tell you the last time I went out shooting.  As a photographer who does not photograph, but would like to resume photographing in the imminent future, I feel obligated to make that imminent future start as soon as possible.  Like, perhaps, today. 

Lucky for you, that means that I will have pretty photographs to share with you later this week. 

Now, it's getting late in the morning, and time's a-wastin'. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Welcome to ADD Megan

Yeah... So... I started writing a thing, and I literally just deleted the whole thing because most of it was just pointless rambling.  I'm given to that... probably more often than not, but for the sake of being able to follow what I'm saying, I'll try to keep it to a minimum. 

Since you all are probably new to the game here, I'll continue with my week of introductions.  Yesterday, obviously, was the intro to my lovely cameras.  Today, you get to meet my cat.  Which... depending on who you are, might not be quite as interesting from the outset.  Or perhaps that's way more interesting than being introduced to several glorified boxes full of film.  With names. 

... Anyway...

 This is Sinatra.  Evidently, I take millions of pictures of him sleeping.  I usually feel kind of guilty because he tries to sleep on my legs, typically choosing to do so when I have to move immediately. 
 He also sleeps in very bizarre positions.  The above photo is captioned "Cat, I'm a kitty cat, and I dance, dance, dance, and I dance, dance, dance." on my Facebook.  Thank you, 10 year old internet memes. 
 His name, as I have mentioned, is Sinatra, which is the name he came with when I adopted him.  He has no idea, and won't answer to it, which is fine, because I typically don't call him Sinatra.  He will occasionally answer to "Kitty", but I have recently (and depressingly) found out that he will readily respond to being called "Booger". 
And I swear to god he is a man trapped in a cat's body.  I took him home for Christmas and he was over the moon to have both me and my mom fawning all over him.  When my boyfriend comes over, kitty will attempt to woo me with feats of strength, performing chin-ups on my windowsill.  This sort of behavior has earned him the nickname Marcello, as in Marcello Mastroianni, and most specifically, his character in Fellini's 8 1/2.  There is a scene in this film involving a harem of every woman his character has ever known, all fawning over him and answering his every beck and call, and I feel this describes kitty's wishes to a T.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My cameras, etc.

You've had plenty of time to be introduced to me by now, but one thing you haven't been introduced to is my four (FOUR) cameras. The following pictures don't belong to me, because I'm not about to play round-robin taking pictures of my own cameras on the paisley-esque backdrop of my duvet, but it'll give you a decent idea of what I'm talking about.

First up is my 35mm SLR. It is a Canon Elan II (The photo is actually a Canon Elan IIe, but they're basically the same camera. The IIe has a couple of additional bells and whistles). This is the camera I learned to shoot film with. It's not... the *actual* camera, I borrowed one from a friend of my dad, but I tracked down an identical model on eBay and bought it for my birthday this year. I haven't actually shot with the one I own yet, mostly because I enjoy shooting black and white, but I haven't got access to a darkroom at the moment.

Next up is my Digital SLR. I currently shoot a Canon Rebel T2i. Prior to October of 2010, I shot a Rebel XTi, and I will say that I much preferred it. BUT, it got stolen along with all my other electronics when our house got broken into, so the insurance money bought me a shiny new T2i, and that's what I'm stuck with. I will admit that I would probably like it a lot better if I would just use it enough to get used to the differences between the old model and this newer one. Fun fact: This camera, like it's predecessor, has been named Graeme, as in Graeme Edge, the drummer from the Moody Blues. (My computer is John C, as a mashup of John Lodge of the Moody Blues and the John C. Lodge freeway, indicating my childhood in Metro Detroit, and my car is Justin, as in Justin Hayward, also of the Moody Blues. ^_^ But I digress.)

Next up is the camera I lovingly refer to as PPOS (Plastic Piece of S#*$). It is a Holga 120N. Unlike every hipster I have ever met, I did not shell out over a hundred bucks for this thing, and I kind of think you're an idiot if you did. Sorry. I purchased mine in the middle of the desert (a couple miles outside Santa Fe, to be exact), for $25, AND they threw in five rolls of film and a book for free. I shoot slides and medium-format color film on this thing, depending on what I can get my hands on. I have a fascination with cross-processed slides, so if I can get slide film, I'm all over that.
Last but not least, my newest toy, the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20. This thing is literally made out of cardboard and tin. Manufactured between 1946 and 1952. (Yes, I realize that's not a complete sentence, but I kind of lost control of the thought before it completed itself.) I do have a roll of modified 120 film in this thing at the moment, but I need to pry it apart in the darkroom and figure out what I did wrong, as I've managed to jam the whole thing up. Before I can do that, I need to buy a latch for my closet door, because when I say "darkroom", I mean "closet" and, unfortunately, my cat knows how to open the door.

So... those are my cameras. You'd be enthused about photography too if you got to carry around a box made of cardboard and tin and hear it's little shutter go snappy-snappy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goals (Ever-changing)

I figured I'd want to delineate this in a separate post from the previous. Keeps the focus on the list, without it being all bogged down and wordy. Though, knowing me, it will probably get wordy anyway.

I need to keep accountable for all my goals. I often think perhaps I should write them all out and post them all over my life, so I don't forget them, as I am wont to do.

General Goals:
1. (because it is relevant) BLOG! I want to blog. I want the world to know that a sassy burlesque-dancing photographer exists in the world.
2. Get my finances back on track. This is a hard one, because I only make about $12,250 a year, and $8500 of that pays my rent alone. A lot of the following goals are aimed at not only fulfilling me as a person, but also helping to add a little to my wallet.
3. Get my damn Etsy shop back on track. This is a smaller goal for me because, as much as I love crafting, when one's sole motivation is to make money, things tend to become kind of dry and uninspired. And desperate. Once I can shift my focus to making things because I legitimately enjoy how it makes me feel to create (and oh, yeah, I might make some cash on the side...) THEN I can work on this.

Burlesque Goals:
1. Perform more. This sounds stupid, and I give myself a hard time about it because I only have two acts (plus the Christmas act, PLUS the act that's in the works), but I really need to be performing as much as I can.
2. PRACTICE more. Jesus H. I rarely practice outside of class, and that's a big effing problem because I can't afford to take classes anymore. Indefinitely. Perhaps forever. (Not really forever. Everything seems like forever.) I need to cultivate self-reliance as a performer.
3. Finish my nebulously-named third act. All I need are panties and a gun. Seriously. The sparkles are fab, but they can happen slowly. (Oh, and some dot-matrix printer paper. I could use some of that too)
4. GET A DAMN WEBSITE. This costs money. I know. I'll figure it out. Maybe I'll set aside a roll of quarters or something to buy the domain.

Photography Goals: (What's this? AGAIN??)
1. Photograph more. I have FOUR cameras. Four. I can stand to shoot with them once in awhile, yes? The rest of the photography goals will materialize when I stop THINKING about shooting, when I stop TALKING about shooting, and when I actually take the damn things outside and SHOOT.

The Rest:
Yes, I know, I had general goals in the beginning. I'm adding to them now, without going back and muddling everything up.
1. Record a voice reel. SURPRISE! I can sing. Like a motherfucker. I'm... actually not sure what that would sound like, so pretend I never said that. I can sing. I'm a classically trained soprano. I'd like to record a voice reel to go on my WEBSITE! CROSSOVER GOAL!
2. Lose some damn weight. I'm not fat, nor have I ever been. BUT. I was on a nice little roll for awhile. I lost eight pounds, which put me in some pretty good shape. But then the depression was all like "FUCK YOU." and I climbed in bed and ate about fifteen pizzas. So I think I would like to get back to that whole getting up at seven and putting on pants and going for a run thing that I had going on before. You know, in January, when it was minus a million degrees. Because if I could do it then, I can do it now.

I think that's it for now. They change a lot, so I'll be keeping you updated.

When you fall off the horse...

You get back on. And then fall off again. And then get back on again.

Granted, I will only cop to having fallen off an actual horse once. But. Here I am again, after a long absence, and it pains me, because I just keep being too lazy, and then making excuses, and then being too lazy, and then making excuses.

So. Where am I now? Much in the same place I was when we left off. Crazy poor, still in Chicago. Hanging on to my nice apartment and my shill of a life by an absolute thread. Perpetually running after that one last gig. And perpetually trying to run away from my day job. One day, I'll figure it all out, I swear. And when I do, those few of you that are here in the beginning will be able to say "I knew that crazy son-of-a- when she was still saying 'I wish'."

I'm going to try and be here more often. I know, "WOLF." I've said it before, but I'm serious. I think I need to try posting every day. Even if I only have some stupid garbage to say. I feel like this will be important one day.

So, here I am. The burlesque dancer who is terrible at practicing. The photographer who doesn't photograph. The girl who spent her whole life chasing the feeling of being alive, only to realize she's been too busy chasing a feeling to actually live.

Also, I'm broke. Legitimately, this time. I had saved a bunch of money to take photography classes later this year and, guess what? It's paying my rent instead, because I don't have anything else.

And. I spend a good deal of my time fighting the lovely one-two punch that is depression and anxiety. Which probably goes a long way to explain why I spend so much time in absentia. I spend about that much time in a catatonic state suspended somewhere between terror and utter nothingness.

So, there are a couple of walls to scale. But I'm optimistic. Today. Today I am optimistic. We'll see about tomorrow.