Significant Things Within The Last Month

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It’s December, which means Christmas-y things are happening. In fact, a lot more happens in the six-week Christmas season than happens on the actual Christmas Day. I wanted to write down a few significant things that have happened within the last month, as a way of keeping track of my blessings, reminding myself that maybe my life is not that mundane. Many wouldn’t consider these things significant at all, but rather ordinary, but I found them significant enough to mention to my boyfriend when talking to him on the phone.

The Christmas Market.

The Christmas Market was an economical and social project among the Mennonite ladies within my community. Most of them were married ladies with husbands who supported the family, and they had found a hobby they enjoyed, and they continued to improve at it, and to invest money in it, and advertise it, and then the Christmas market happened and they were able to sell their products. The booths at the Christmas market were filled with wood carvings and wood hangings, sweet treats such as cheesecakes and pies and rock candies and pretzel sticks and donuts and tilapia pudding and macarons and waffles and popcorn, lipsticks and scent diffusers, Trim Healthy Mama food products, hand sewn clothing, blankets and blanket scarves, knit beanies, and soaps. It was a lovely place for Christmas shopping! There was also a band playing Christmas tunes onstage, as well as a photo booth with a Christmas-y background. After browsing every booth and purchasing a few small things, my mom and my sisters and my cousin and I sat down to hot chocolate and punch. The hot chocolate was exceptional because it was a little less sweet than most, with a bit more dark chocolate.

The Snow.

So unexpected! In Mexico, we don’t get snow until March. And we certainly don’t get more than an inch on the ground, and it doesn’t stay for longer than two hours. Within that time, we have the opportunity to make one batch of snow ice cream and one snowman which is probably two feet tall, and that’s all we accomplish. But now, on December 7, it started snowing large clumps of wet snow in the morning, and only stopped around dinnertime. We had 8 inches of snow at the end of the day. It was hardly recognizable as Mexico at all! It made me feel nostalgic for the places I know in Canada. It took a long time to melt, and several of our neighbors’ snowmen were still standing a week later.

The Photo Shoot With Jessica And Alfredo.

I’ve taken pictures of them once before, and they asked me to do it again. It seems they have a thing for cabins, because our first photo session was at a cabin, and so was our second one. My car was probably a little offended by the road we took to get there, but it was worth the bumps when I was finished editing the photos. We went at the perfect time, because the evening of the photo shoot was warm, with a lovely sunset, and the cabin was on the side of a mountain, so we had a lovely unblocked view of the sunset! However, the next day the rain wouldn’t stop, and the next day the snow wouldn’t stop, so it’s a good thing we didn’t wait any longer to take the photos.

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She’s dancing in front of a sunset. I would have done the photo session for this one picture.
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And then they stopped dancing and took a moment to appreciate the sunset as well.
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I have failed at sunset photography a few times, but this session was everything.
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Almost-kisses used to bother me, I guess. Now I find them adorable.

The Photo Shoot With Justin And Kelly.

It was a conceptual photo shoot based on the song The Monster by Eminem and Rihanna. Justin and I started a long-term conceptual photo project, taking photos based on songs. Our first session was most definitely a success. We took pictures in my room, where everything is black & white, and there’s plenty of natural light.

Related Post: The Monster Photo Session

Planning My Boyfriend’s Visit In March.

Jeremy and I are both still in school, and we live 2500 miles away from each other. This obviously makes it difficult to see each other. But the last time we saw each other was in October, and he’s planning to come here in March. I’ve planned so many things. I found a location with white sand dunes, where I want us to have a photo shoot. I’m hoping I have the patience to alternate working behind the camera and posing in front of it. Not only do I want to have two photo shoots of us, but I want to be the photographer and take photos of him. Because he’s gorgeous. And perhaps I might like to schedule a photo session with someone else and take him along. Aside from the hundreds of photos I want to take, I definitely want to take him with me to the gym in the mornings and lift heavier weights than he does. There are 4 different cafes I want to take him to, and two double dates I’ve already planned.

Products In The Mail.

I became somewhat more widely known as a social media influencer, and I’ve been able to do more sponsored posts this year. I love it, and I hope to do several more. I’ve received fitness leggings and fitness capris from Agnes & Dora, skin care products from Avon, a chocolate-flavored chap stick and a cotton candy scented soap from Poofy Organics, a 10-day supply of Thrive (which did, in fact, make my workouts awesome and made me feel healthy all day), a Christmas Cookies scented candle from Country Scents, and a hooded baby blanket from Mer Baby (which I totally gave to my baby cousin) all within the month of November. I’m excited for more collaborations!

Purebred Labrador Puppies.

Funny story: We rented a friend’s labrador-retriever dog because we wanted labrador-retriever puppies, and we had a purebred labrador dog. This dog and our dog Sandy seemed to be “just friends” for an entire week. Then, we happened to find our purebred labrador Sherman who had been missing for a month. We took him home, and ten minutes later, Sandy was pregnant. Okay.

Sherman was a dark chocolate color, and Sandy was light blonde. All eight puppies were light blonde. That’s a lot of puppies. All of them were perfectly healthy and gorgeous and so fluffy and fat. We were able to sell them quickly, but now I rather regret that because I should have kept them all! But I haven’t lost, because I was able to keep them during their cutest possible point in life.

Showdown By Ted Dekker.

Do you ever get so mind blown by something that you know you should keep it to yourself because no one will be able to understand you anyway if you even try to explain it, but you can’t stay quiet because of how amazing it is? Even more relatable, you’re afraid that no one else will find it to be as great as you found it to be. But either way, I was shook by the plot of this novel. It starts with great suspense and detail, and gives you so much opportunity to speculate and wonder about what’s happening. But in the end, the final plan that’s been in effect from the beginning of the discovery of the Books of History, is finally the only thing that saves the humanity of a town. I just… wow. Ted Dekker is my favorite author. This book is right up there with House and Immanuel’s Veins.

My Physical Progress And Visit To The Nutritionist.

I guess he believes I did well in the month of November. At our last appointment in October, he told me he wanted me to lose 9 pounds in a month! I was surprised, and then he said “It’s alright, I’ll be happy if you lose only 4 pounds.” And when I went back in November, I had lost only 4 pounds. He was excited for me and he said I had done very well! We checked my progress, and half of the weight was from my belly. I had also grown quite a bit of muscle throughout my body, in that month. I guess I should be happy; I did lose weight and I did gain muscle. But really I only reached the minimum weight loss that he was content with, and I was not content with that. Also, this month is especially difficult, because Christmas.

Breakfast With The Ladies From The Gym.

I had listed this as one of the things to add to this blog post before the event happened, and when it happened, I did not attend. But I am writing it anyway.

Lucy told me that the other trainer hosted a Christmas dinner with the men that go to the gym, and she also told me she would host a similar event with all the ladies that go to the gym at the same hour as I do, but that we’d be going for breakfast instead of dinner. I liked the idea and I wanted to go, but I backed out at the last minute, simply because of anxiety. I missed it simply because I was afraid of the effort it would take to make conversation and lighten up. I have done that too many times. But also, I am really trying to avoid the Christmas events happening this year. There are far too many of them.

 

The Monster Photo Session

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Justin Loewen and I have started a long-term conceptual photography project which consists of turning a song into a photograph, or a series of photographs. Our first photo session was based on the song The Monster by Eminem and Rihanna. Kelly modeled as the innocent girl in the bed, and Justin modeled as the monster. I did his arm makeup after instructed how, by a friend who’s much better at it than I am. There were 110 shots once the session was over, but I’ve chosen twenty of them to edit and now show off. People tell me I need to make the photos “darker and moodier,” because apparently the monster is infecting her? Okay, he might be, but I didn’t find that to be the theme of the session. I focused on their friendship, and how close they are. And that’s why these photos don’t necessarily have a dangerous or dreadful vibe.

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From a recent conceptual photo session. Based on the song “The Monster” by Eminem.
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The way they’re holding hands gives me the idea that he’s inviting her to join him on an adventure.
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I wanted her to smile a wide smile, the way she’d react if she hadn’t seen her best friend in a long time.
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I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed.
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The only praise I want to hear is “Eminem would be proud.”
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I feel like this is exactly his perspective.
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I love how vibrant her smile is when she’s talking to her best friend.
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Also, my room was a pretty fabulous place to take these photos.
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I’m quite excited for our next photo session.
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I wish I had more “beast and girl” friendships to photograph.
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I may just re-edit these multiple times, just because I want to.
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Have you already admired the sticker on my wall?
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Another one from his perspective.
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Kelly as the innocent girl, and Justin as the monster.
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instagram.com/giraffesandtreehouses for more of my photography
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This one is my favorite of them all.

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Related Post: Kelly’s Fall Photo Session

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For more of my photography, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Pros + Cons of Being a Photographer

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In this blog post, I have listed the pros and cons of making a career out of photography. As you will notice, the cons outnumber the pros, but also, the pros outweigh the cons.

Con: Way too much competition.

As a photographer, you’ll be working hard for exposure and recognition. There are about 143,000 photographers in the U.S. only. That’s an average of 2,860 in each state. That’s also an average of 14 photographers per city. Each person who wants their photos taken has so many options, it’s not even fair to the photographers. A photographer will always have competition, and will always know someone who’s getting all the clients. Although this sucks, it’s a pretty good motivation to improve and to find something that sets one apart from the other surrounding photographers.

Con: Has to pay models. 

It kinda sucks when you’ve got a spontaneous idea that you want to try out, and you find this model on Instagram who’d appreciate that style, and so you want to shoot the next day, and then you realize you need a spare $300 to pay that model for two hours of their time. And that amount is not an exaggeration. This is a conflict, because photographers charge for photos, and models charge for modeling. Why can’t we have a fair exchange of each doing it for free? I don’t know. But apparently that’s not a thing. A suggestion for a compromise would be to photograph a very new model who’s willing to do it for free in exchange for photos for their portfolio, but sometimes your idea will only be brought to life with a professional in front of the camera. You know, someone expensive…

Con: People won’t take you seriously. 

There are many people who do not understand how complex a photographer’s work is. They’re like “My sister took photos of me with her iPhone 5… and they looked really good.” It’s “just pictures,” apparently, but we spend money into our lighting kits, our lenses, and our post production software. Sometimes we can spend 45 minutes editing a single picture if we want it to be perfect! A compliment that photographers receive all the time which is not really a compliment at all, goes like this: “I love your photos! You must have an amazing camera!”

Just no.

People think it’s the camera, and they forget to credit the artist behind the camera. People won’t take you seriously, because you’re “just taking pictures.” And if they don’t know enough, they’ll make the mistake of hiring a 13-year-old on Facebook who borrowed her stepdad’s digital camera and will take the pictures for free, instead of hiring a costly photographer who will create flawless photos that capture all the emotion.

Con: It’s difficult to make this a full-time job.

As opposed to waiting tables at a restaurant, this job doesn’t demand every hour of your day. Of course, this means a flexible schedule and more spare time, which is excellent, but it also means an unpredictable income. It’s difficult to make photography a full-time job if you’re simply waiting for people to call you about their graduation photos.

Con: Equipment is expensive. 

Of course, after being a photographer for a while, you learn to find deals and you learn what’s a necessary purchase and what things you really don’t need… but you do have to purchase equipment. You can start with a camera, but you’ll find that your photos look better when you’ve got a variety of lenses. Lenses can easily be over $1000 each. Some go as high as $4000. If you shoot in a room that isn’t flooded with natural light, you’ll want to invest in a lighting kit. And if you pack a lot of your equipment for a photography adventure, you’ll want to purchase a large camera backpack to store it all.

Con: The photographer is unknown.

95% of people who look at a perfectly composed fashion editorial photo in a magazine don’t think of the photographer. They think of the clothing item and the model. Same goes with sports photography and event photography. Of course, those photos are taken to advertise a product or an event or a person, but few ever remember the artist behind that photograph.

Con: Unpredictable conditions.

The weather, first of all. Maybe you appreciate the dark overcast sky, but then it rains. Or you want to take photos at sunrise, and then it’s really difficult to get up that early and stand out in the cold. Clients could show up late, when you’ve got a tight schedule and other photo sessions to go to. And in my experience, they usually do come late. Perhaps you wanted to get pictures at sunset, and they come late, and then it’s dark when you’re trying to take pictures. Perhaps you forgot to charge your camera’s battery. Or your camera rejects your SD card. It’s all quite unpredictable, not at all like going to an office job.

Related Post: My Biggest Dreams + How God Is Providing 

Con: Uncertain income.

This is because it’s difficult to make a full-time job out of something that people won’t need all day, every day. As a freelance photographer, you don’t have an average weekly income. You may make $8000 in a week if a whole class chooses you as their senior portrait photographer. Or you may make $300 in a week for a family session. Or you won’t have any business for a month. It’s all a possibility.

Those are the cons of being a photographer! If the job sounds depressing, please continue reading the pros, and then reconsider. While the cons listed all the things that aren’t ideal about a job in general, the pros are about the more rewarding aspect of the job.

Pro: Self employed freelancer. 

Certain contracts demand exclusivity, and then you won’t be able to offer your services to anyone else. But as a freelancer, you aren’t tied to anyone or anything. You can work from home or on the road or in another country, because you don’t work on anyone else’s schedule. You’ve got freedom and you’ve got flexibility. Instead of putting your hair up and following a dress code and showing up to an office at eight o’clock sharp and not a minute late, and taking five minutes off for a cup of coffee, and then going home at seven o’clock, you lie in your own bed wearing underwear and a blanket, eating Oreos, while editing photos on your laptop and answering messages from your clients. To me, it’s extremely important that I’m able to set my own schedule and choose my own locations. I consider this the most important of the pros.

Pro: Gets to be creative and come up with ideas.

As opposed to doing everything your employer tells you to, and following his organized schedule, you get to come up with the ideas. I do not show up at a studio to take five headshots of a 30-year-old secretary, and then move on to a 40-year-old mother, and then take five headshots of 60 other people. I hold autumn leaves in my hand and think that I could make a crown of leaves, or I pick up my eyeliner pencil and think that I could use it to draw black veins on an arm. And then I call a model and ask him to meet me at a location to help me bring my brilliant idea to life.

For more of my photography: Instagram.

Pro: Opportunity for travel.

I have plans to take photographs all over the world. As a freelance photographer, you can build yourself up to a level of skill and recognition that provides you with sponsored travels. A new hotel which needs excellent commercial photographs for the purpose of building a website and promoting themselves may offer you three nights in one of their suites, free of charge, in exchange that you take pictures for them. I would jump at the opportunity. A calendar brand or National Geographic magazine may pay for your travels in exchange that you capture photos of a natural phenomenon that hasn’t been successfully captured before. I understand that I’ll need incredible skill to be eligible for opportunities like these, which is why I’m doing all I can now (while I’m still underage and therefore cannot travel much) to improve my photography skills.

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From a recent conceptual photo session. Based on the song “The Monster” by Eminem.

Pro: Capturing emotion.

Lately, birth sessions have become increasingly popular. While it sounds rather weird the first time you hear of it, you soon discover that birth sessions are all about capturing raw emotion and priceless memories. And so on with other photo sessions: in-home session for a married couple. What’s magical about an in-home session is that the location is so familiar to the couple. It’s not a tree farm where they sit on the ground and smile at each other… it’s a familiar, warm place where you can visually document their daily routine: cooking and feeding the dog and washing laundry and pausing to kiss each other among all of it. And it’s very real and honest, when you can take the pictures in their own home. And it’s the photographer who is credited for helping them capture these memories! I consider it an honor.

Pro: Meeting people.

I know of photographers who have made lasting friendships with the clients they took pictures for, and those clients recommended that photographer to everyone they knew. But aside from clients, there are opportunities to meet people you’ve observed for a long time. You could very well make it a goal to collaborate with your favorite photographers who have inspired you, or to take photos of an actor who’s been your childhood hero.

In the end, it’s a matter of choosing comfort and consistency or adventure and unpredictability. This job is so worth the weird schedules and the uncertainty, I’m sure of it. As I mentioned previously, the cons outnumber the pros, but the pros outweigh the cons.

 

 

 

My Biggest Dreams + How God Is Providing

God is providing

Among so many things I want to do, some dreams have been on my mind daily, and I’ve been making steps toward them every chance I get. And it seems that God approves of these dreams, because he’s helped me take steps towards it.

One of my dreams is to sell my photos to a magazine. Often when I do a vague search on Pinterest, such as “conceptual photography,” there will be two or three recurring photos that always show up. They’re right there at the top of the search, every time. That’s a personally applicable measure of fame for me. I see that feature accounts on Instagram are still featuring that were released a year ago, and that’s because the photo was simply so amazing, that dozens of magazines have bought the photo and hundreds of websites have featured it. Sometimes I look at a really amazing photo and think that maybe the photographer planned that shot for six years, tried it with twelve different models, at eighteen different locations, and spent two weeks editing it… and then made $20,000 upon selling it to everyone who wanted it. I want to get there. I want to be able to do that with my own photographs. Perhaps I’ll create an organized plan this week, and strategize on how to bring one of my ideas to life. I hope to someday reach magnificence, even if I never do reach perfection. To reach perfection means that there is nothing left to do and nowhere left to go. No, I will continue to improve and learn with every “perfect” photo I create.

Another dream that I hope to achieve before I’m too old, is to take sponsored trips. To travel for free. Once an Influencer reaches a few hundred thousand followers on Instagram, she can make an exchange that goes like this: “If you provide me a free *insert whatever*, I will promote you to 300,000 people.” And they sign a contract. And this exchange happens with airlines, hotels, and restaurants, and suddenly your whole vacation is free! And the Influencer is certainly not the only one gaining from that exchange either. With the lovely photographs the Influencer takes and posts on Instagram, combined with a caption raving about the excellent service, thousands of people will take action because of that post and provide the company with more sales and more business. And I hope to do that as well: travel for free. And I will take so many pictures along the way: I’ll take photos of natural phenomena, ancient architecture, and every memorable experience of mine. I also wouldn’t mind booking a photo session with a couple or a model from every city I visit.

Another thing I want to do is to teach people younger than me about photography. Right now, I would not be so well off as I am if I did not have Lynda Thiessen and Wynonah Loewen. Lynda has the answers to all of my questions, and she knows so many people. Wynonah and I exchanged monthly photo sessions for a year, and by doing so I was able to learn what sorts of photography I liked and didn’t like, and I also learned to be comfortable in front of the camera. But I am good at what I do and I am happy with what I do because I’ve had Lynda and Wynonah to teach me things. Also, Johny’s pretty great for being my model whenever I need one! Ten or twenty years from now, when I’m famous and professional and expensive, I’ll take the time to teach kids and young people how to take photos, should they love it as much as I do. I will do that both personally (meeting for coffee and taking photos at my house) and professionally (hosting workshops for a daily fee).

To see my photography on Instagram, click here.

Another thing I want to do is to photograph celebrities. There are musicians and actors who’ve inspired me, whose works I’ve grown up with and am acquainted with. Sometimes, when scrolling through a Facebook group full of talented photographers, I see a photograph of an actress like Anna Popplewell and I comment so many things in capital letters. I would love to photograph Millie Bobby Brown ten years from now, recreating that whole Eleven vibe even as a grownup. Or do a portrait session for Ed Sheeran, because I couldn’t say no to vibrant red hair and colorful sleeve tattoos. I’d love to photograph the cover art for NF’s albums, because I sometimes do that sort of conceptual photography already. I don’t expect to be younger than 40 years old by the time I’m doing this more than once a year. But hopefully I can photograph a few of them before that old age I’ll reach one day. In fact, I am right now working towards photographing a few big people.

God is providing
A rare photo of me laughing and being confident. Taken by my friend Wynonah Loewen.

I want to know a small house and I want to know a mansion. The house I’ve grown up in and am still growing up in is fairly average. But I really wouldn’t mind experiencing a tiny house as well as a gigantic house. When newly married, I want to live in a house of 300 square feet, where every “room” of my house is within a ten-foot radius of me standing in the middle. It would be cozy, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. And then once I’ve earned the money to afford something much grander, I want to move into a large house, with seven bedrooms, so I can host as many guests at a time as I want to. It’s going to have three stories and two garages and an indoor pool. And if all goes as planned, I’ll be wealthy at some point, and I’ll be able to build a real live mansion near my retirement. I’ll live in that castle with the luxurious ballroom for the last twenty years of my life, and then I’ll hand it down to someone who mattered a lot to me. And I will have experienced a few different kinds of homes, and found something in each one that I truly loved.

For the longest time, I never wanted to get married. I was convinced that I would be single so I could be free to travel the world and have a flexible schedule, and not be tied down to one place. Within the culture I come from, it’s normal and expected for the husband to be trucking or farming all day, while his wife stays home to clean the house and take care of the kids. That would be a terrible lifestyle for me, because I need to be out seeing the world or doing something I love. And then I found Jeremy, and I discovered at some point that he wants the same thing. He wants to be seeing the world and adventuring and collecting memories and experiences. I learned that Jeremy will not hold me back from the lifestyle I want and need; rather, he will enhance that lifestyle. If he wants it as I do, I would rather take him along with me than go on my own. He will make my future wonderful and adventurous and romantic and fulfilling, and I feel incredibly blessed by God to have him.

My sister asked me once how my photography business can bring glory to God, because she knows that’s my goal, something I want to do consistently. And I asked her how my dad’s business of buying and selling onions brings glory to God. And the answer to both her question and mine is that even if the business itself doesn’t directly benefit the kingdom, the way one conducts his business says a lot about his faith and beliefs. Being honest in business deals and making the customer feel like a priority, are excellent ways to influence people. I personally have studied photographers in general and taken note of ways that I can do the job better than I’ve seen others do. A few photographers that I know are rather selfish, giving the model zero credit and not even allowing the client to post the picture because their social media app automatically crops the edges a bit. And then I’ve known photographers who have clients that come back again and again, because they’ve developed a friendship out of fair business and friendly agreements. And I know who I’d rather be like.

What’s scary right now is the amount of money I have to save within the next nine months. Right now while I’m finishing high school I’ve got to save up the money I’ll need for nine months of living expenses in Canada. I know that I won’t be able to make all the money, and I should be getting a part time job while I’m there to pay for the rest of it, but I’ve heard that that college course I’ve chosen is extremely time-consuming, and aside from that, I want to prioritize the friends that I have there in Winnipeg, and spend as much time with them as I can within nine months before I leave. That doesn’t leave much room for even a part time job. But I know God wants me to take this course, because He’s been providing things for me at exactly the time that I need them. It turns out that I have two families right there in Winnipeg who would be willing to board me, and they would likely charge me a lot less than any apartment would. That, I can credit God for. One of my cousins is taking the college course with me, and perhaps if I traveled in the same car as her, I could save on the cost of transportation? Also, just a few days ago I was employed as a social media manager for a health food store. Social media managing is a job that I can take with me to another country, because it all happens online, and thank God for that. So far, God has not provided everything for me all at once so I can feel at ease, but He has been supplying things to me one at a time, and I am trusting that He will continue to do so.

 

Johny’s Photo Session

This would be my fourth photo session with Johny. And this one was also completely spontaneous. He and I hadn’t taken pictures for over a month, and we both were missing it. I chose the location, and we went with Johny’s idea for an outfit. But we didn’t have any plans further than out. So we showed up at the location, and awkwardly started snapping pictures at any tree in any pose.

And then, at the end of the session, we had done much better than I expected! I had over 70 successful photographs after all my post production. That’s a lot more than I usually get out of a session! And they were better quality pictures than I had taken of him before. Had I improved during that month in which we hadn’t been taking pictures?

His reaction was my reward. He was, and I quote, “insanely satisfied.”

YASS!

Here are my favorite pictures:

This was one of those comfortable-looking locations where I wanted to put my camera away and sit down.
He said, “Oh, should I have a total white girl moment and cover my mouth with my sleeves?” I said yes, obviously.

Related Post: Kelly’s Fall Photo Session

Is this picture emotional? I don’t know. I feel like it is.
He said he wanted a forest type background, and I knew the place.

My photography on Instagram.

I absolutely loved this little part of the location. All around us it was shady, and then right there was a patch of sunlight.
Johny complains that the only thing he knows how to do when modeling, is to run his hands through his hair. But it’s okay because it looks good every time.
I’m quite fond of Johny’s modeling skills.
I also appreciate the few sun flares that I got in the picture.
Said he wanted a superhero pose.
We found an old machine, and he sat inside it like it was his throne.
He wanted to look like he was sitting on his throne.
I’m already gathering ideas for my fifth photo session with Johny.
Vulnerable expressions.
Okay this picture belongs in a magazine.
Another magazine cover.
The last picture of the session, and after that we sat down on the shipping container and talked and stuff.

Kelly’s Fall Photo Session

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Only a week ago, I blogged my photo session with Crystal. Only a week after my photo session with Crystal, I took pictures with Kelly. Kelly’s a natural at modeling, just as Crystal is. Kelly said “fall-related pictures,” so that’s what we did. Also, I finally did my first in-home session in her house; it had so much natural light! And I liked the way the pictures turned out.

Related Post: Why I Love Boudoir Photography

Kelly's photo session
I love contrast in my photos, as you can tell.
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That’s such a dramatic expression, though.
Kelly's photo session
I told her to sit against the wall because I love how the light filtered through the curtains and onto the wall.
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Flawless white girl moment.
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She looks so happy and comfortable.
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But this is my favorite of the three.
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This one is so elegant, almost Victorian.

Related Post: Crystal’s Photo Session

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This has the same theme as the previous one, but more flirtatious.
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It’s almost as if she’s flirting with the corn. And the corn is totally falling for it.
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I love how her hair covers half her face.
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I realized I haven’t taken many pictures from this angle. But I like it.
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Do you feel like maybe Kelly’s hair is the real model in these pictures?

More of my photography here.

kelly's photo session
This is by far the cutest picture of her, okay? This is absolutely my favorite one.
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She said she had a strange side profile. Perhaps she meant a flawless side profile.
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And another one of her side profile, but in B&W.
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There were so many leaves everywhere!

More of my photography… also here.

kelly's photo session
She thought that perhaps if she covered her face, she’d be mistaken for a pumpkin.
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Yep, identical. I can’t even tell the difference.
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Dramatic, melancholy glances.
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And side profiles of queens.
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You’re welcome.
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I have overshared on photos.
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This adorable duck face, though.
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Okay. I hope you enjoyed my fall photo session with this pumpkin.

 

Crystal’s Photo Session

crystal's photo session

In the past, I’ve written blog posts with a few photos featured from a few different photo sessions, all having a few different themes. But now I’m showing off one single photo session, because I’m happy with how it turned out. I took Crystal’s pictures.

crystal's photo session
A photo of my fabulous model, Crystal Kornelsen, in her backyard.

My client’s/model’s reaction to the photos is my reward. Crystal said a few things like “speechless” and “incredible” and “I’m shook.” I had a wide smile on my face, and decided that if she was happy with the results, I was happy with the results.

crystal's photo session
I do not like greens because they’re difficult to work with, to edit. But maybe I succeeded this time?
crystal's photo session
We couldn’t find a spot on the ground that wasn’t covered in leaves. It was so pretty.
crystal's photo session
I need every model ever to play with his/her hair more often. It’s cliche, but it’s also extremely flattering, and makes a lovely picture. Anything a model does with her hands, as long as they’re not down by her side or under her waist, makes a good picture.

Also, after this session, I want to do more fashion photography. I might like to take pictures of a model showing off a new outfit.

crystal's photo session
“If looks could kill” or something. I love this photo and I love that lipstick.

It was late October, and her backyard was filled with orange leaves. There wasn’t any part of the ground that didn’t have fallen leaves on it. And it was gorgeous.

crystal's photo session
This photo is so comfortable and adorable.
crystal's photo session
Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.
crystal's photo session
She looks so happy and relaxed.
crystal's photo session
I’m kind of loving that line across her forehead.
crystal's photo session
For the first time ever, harsh lighting was not a bad thing. I loved the lines made with the sunlight and the shadows.

Since July, I had been planning a photography challenge along with 3 other photographers and one model (the model being Crystal). Each photographer was supposed to choose a location and an outfit from Crystal’s closet. All five of us would go to the first photographer’s location, and Crystal would wear the outfit that that photographer had chosen. And so on with each photographer’s location and outfit. We each would have ten minutes to take pictures of Crystal. The purpose of this whole challenge is to see how one photographer’s style varies from another photographer’s style. When the model, the location, and the outfit are all the same, the only difference is the photographer’s style.

The other three photographers failed to come up with a location and an outfit. It was as if they forgot the group chat existed. On the day we were supposed to finally do this challenge, they hadn’t texted us. And so I took these pictures in Crystal’s backyard. I knew she was excited for the challenge, and I figured I could at least be a decent person.

Fortunately, she was happy with the results.

crystal's photo session
Oh my goodness, the way the sun creates highlights in Crystal’s hair!
crystal's photo session
I love that vibrant smile.
crystal's photo session
Again, gorgeous sunlit highlights in her hair.
crystal's photo session
She’s a cutie.
crystal's photo session
I haven’t even asked her where her outfit came from. Maybe I should?
crystal's photo session
This is the first photo session in which I got any headshots. I like this headshot.
crystal's photo session
I captured only a very few pictures with a solid wall for a background.
crystal's photo session
I like her pose in this one.
crystal's photo session
And the shadows in this one!
crystal's photo session
This may be my favorite in the entire session!

Related Post: My Friend Helped Me Win

crystal's photo session
Never mind; this one’s my favorite.
crystal's photo session
I find that lately, whenever I begin a new photo session, I immediately tilt the camera in this weird angle.
crystal's photo session
I aim to have 10% of a session’s photos in B&W.
crystal's photo session
Again, the harsh lighting is so good.
crystal's photo session
That mysterious glance.
crystal's photo session
I had to post another one. Because this mini series is so cute.
crystal's photo session
There were so many fallen leaves in her backyard; the ground was full of it!
crystal's photo session
Credits to Jessica Kobeissi for giving me this idea.

You can see more of my photography here.

crystal's photo session
I’ve never had much luck with these Christmas light pictures. But I liked this one.
crystal's photo session
A small little rainbow in her eye.
crystal's photo session
We worked so hard to create this rainbow with artificial light in a dark room.
crystal's photo session
Seriously, you should’ve seen the setup of CDs and iPhone flashlights we used for this. It was dramatic.

Related Post: Conceptual Photographs

 

Five Days With My Love

five days with my love

On October 6, I flew to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. October 7 through October 11 I spent with my love, for the first time in ten months. On October 12, I flew back home. Because we’re both young, still in school, and working part-time jobs, we only get to see each other twice a year. When we do reunite, it’s huge. It’s the whole world. And this is a summary of my five days with him in October, though not necessarily in order. I have to warn you, though: this blog post will be cheesy and romantic and gushy.

On the last day of my visit there, when we went to his grandma’s house to keep her company and to talk with her and to lie on her couch, I had brought a book I purchased from Chapters. It was a workbook filled with writing prompts. At the top of each page was a title for my short story and ten words I had to include within the manuscript. I had a perfect plan for the first story… except that I managed to write down only two sentences within an hour. And it’s all because my boyfriend was sitting beside me. All I could do was watch him be gorgeous and watch him smile, and occasionally tickle him with my toes, and I couldn’t focus on my writing at all. Which is why the first story in my workbook has two sentences in pencil and the rest are all in pen. Of course, as soon as I was waiting at my gate in the airport or was in the air, and he wasn’t beside me, it was easy to write five short stories within three hours.

He told me in advance that there would be a lot of people to meet. I was nervous about it. Jeremy and I have only ever gotten to know each other when it was just the two of us talking; we haven’t communicated much in social settings among other people. Which is probably why he has the impression that I’m not that bad at communicating. But I still am not comfortable in social settings, and was nervous to meet many new people. But… I think maybe I did well? There were a lot of people. I remember a lot of names, but can’t remember which face belongs to which name. And then there are people whose names I don’t even remember. There were people who knew my parents and who knew me even though I didn’t have a clue who they were.

I wondered from the beginning whether I might encounter a moment when I would fall in love with my boyfriend all over again. That’s a thing, isn’t it? To be deeply in love with someone and then have a moment in which you realize “Oh my goodness… I really, really love you”? That happened two or three times within these five days. One of those times was when he was singing along to certain songs in the car while I sat beside him and held his hand; sometimes I’d look out the window and sometimes I’d just watch him. We listened to the songs that were part of his playlist for me, and I listened to the lyrics and sometimes he looked directly at me and sung the words to me, and all I could do was smile. I love his voice. I love hearing him sing. And hearing those songs again brings back the memories, and then sometimes I cry a little bit but it’s okay because those are wonderful memories.

Related Post: May in Winnipeg (Part 1)

Photographers are supposed to take pictures of every part of their life, right? I didn’t get enough pictures of us. I don’t even know exactly why! Maybe I just wanted to enjoy my time with him instead of running back and forth from my tripod to my boyfriend’s side a dozen times before getting a good picture. Self portraits are a lot of work. Also, I discovered we’re not very good at taking selfies. I mean, he thinks we are. Because I’m a photographer, I have high expectations for my selfies, and I keep only the best of them and discard the rest. But he’s okay with any selfie, however it looks. The very first time that I set up my camera on a tripod and attempted to take pictures of us, I only took two pictures that were failures, and the third one is the cutest picture ever.

five days with my love
Five Days With My Love.

I’m proud of that photograph. After that, I didn’t succeed to take another cute picture of us, photograph or selfie. But I later decided to keep the blurry pictures, because they carry memories.

We went to one place together, which is absolutely goals, especially for me. And it was most definitely as wonderful as I wanted it to be. We went to Chapters. My paradise is Barnes & Noble, but I will gladly go to a Chapters when there isn’t any Barnes & Noble nearby. We looked through the classic books, and through the horror novels, and through the books on religion and spirituality, and even through the Young Readers section because my sister’s birthday came soon after this visit and I know she loves to read. Jeremy bought me one book that I was extremely excited to take home and to read: Lord of Shadows. The sequel to Lady Midnight, which is part of the Shadowhunter universe. I keep up with every new Shadowhunter novel, because I love that series. I’m proud of my boyfriend as well, for going home with five classic novels. Aside from the purchases we made, I was just happy to be in a bookstore with my boyfriend. I like being in bookstores, because I like knowing that I’m surrounded by all the knowledge that all the wisest people have written down. I like knowing that all the information and wisdom and knowledge and imagination and emotion ever, are surrounding me. And to find out later that Jeremy didn’t stay there because he had to, but that he enjoyed our time in the store as much as I did… that warmed my heart.

Related Post: May in Winnipeg (Part 2)

On my last day there, we visited 5 different restaurants (!!!!!). Our very last date within those five days was a formal date that he took me on, which I tried to look good for. I’m not sure that I tried hard enough, but he did tell me about four times that I looked really good, so maybe I did look good? Having eaten just a few hours before, we ordered only one meal together. We discovered a few new and somewhat foreign flavors that I absolutely loved, that he gladly let me eat without sharing. He did, in fact, look gorgeous that evening. I thoroughly enjoyed that evening, and enjoyed holding his hand during the drive home.

The drive home was more serious than other drives we’d taken, because it was our last. Our few days had come to an end, all too quickly. We hadn’t been given much time to begin with, and now that I look back, it feels like a few hours.

I felt safe and untouchable for the duration of the time I was with my love. At home, each day I’m attacked with a new expectation and a new responsibility and a new flaw, and it’s all overwhelming. I have learned to deal with these things and work them out, on most days. But I’m still stressed out, too often. But I require the simplest thing to be okay, really. To be beside Jeremy and to hold onto his hand, is really enough for me. And when I was doing just that, I didn’t think of the things that would demand my attention as soon as I returned home. I really didn’t worry about my busy schedule, and when I went to sleep, I didn’t feel that stone in my heart that comes when I know there’s something tomorrow I’m dreading. I just felt okay, and I felt happy.

And then later, I felt refreshed. This short break was exactly what I needed, with exactly whom I needed. When the whole week was over, and it was time for me to go back home, I had thought up new goals and new ways to achieve them. I made plans for how strategically I would catch up on my duties at home. I was honored by how welcome my boyfriend and his family made me feel within their home, and how polite all his friends and extended family were when meeting me; I was inspired to treat my siblings and parents with intentional kindness when I returned home. I was ready to go home and follow the meal plan that my nutritionist had assigned me, and to work out hard at the gym, so that I could look different and better by the next time my boyfriend and I would be together.

On the way to the airport in Toronto, and during my flight to Dallas, and during my layover in Dallas, and during my flight to Chihuahua, I reflected on those five days. You’d think I might’ve taken the opportunity to sleep or catch up on blogging or edit a few photos or whatever, but all I could do was think about my time with him and how we finally were able to go to the places we wanted to and how we had also forgotten a few things but that’s all right because I immediately added it to the list of things we could do and places we could go when he came to visit me. All I’ve been doing since that week in October, is remembering.

 

Juniper Milk: Part 2

Juniper Milk: Part 2

Last week, I published Part 1 of Juniper Milk, and if you haven’t read that yet, you should definitely do so, by using this link. And then come back here and finish the story.

“Will you meet me at the school playground this afternoon?” he demanded, all in a breath. “At 6:00 P.M. I finish my route at 5:30.”

“Yes.” I spoke in a whisper, and then closed the door on him.

And that afternoon, I sat at the bottom of the slide and waited for him. I arrived at 6:15, mentally kicking myself for being late to something I cared about. When I arrived, he wasn’t there either.

I wondered if he was late too? Or maybe he arrived on time and just left when I didn’t arrive on time. But he had my number, and he could’ve called me. I stressed and panicked and over evaluated these things as I sat there, making circles in the gravel with my bare toes.

At 6:37, he came. He came breathless and distressed. He apologized sincerely and explained how he was unexpectedly assigned another neighborhood to deliver to. I smiled and told him it was okay, told him to sit down. He sat down on the ground in front of me, and it took a while for us to say something. I hate when that happens.

4

He asked about me, pointing out that we had talked about the milk business, but not about what I do.

“I’m not doing much,” I shrugged. “I go to school, but now in the summer, I take my dogs to the lake daily and say hello to pedestrians. I help my mom print out hundreds of copies of all her graphic designs, and recently I started drinking milk.”

That last part made him smile.

“Will you continue your route when school starts again?” I asked. “I suspect you’re going into 12th grade. Or 11th, but you don’t look younger than seventeen.”

“When did I say I was 17?” he asked.

I am so stupid. I assumed, and I never even asked. He just really looked 17. I’m 17, and he looked my age.

“Oh. You didn’t. How old are you?” I ask, and I must be blushing.

“I’m nineteen,” he responded casually. I tried to respond casually. I was actually kind of shocked.

“Oh,” was my glamorous response.

He smiled, and then asked me which was my favorite milk of the ones he’d delivered to me. I told him it was the “feminine” milk. It made me feel royal; it was so richly flavored. He pulled two bottles of feminine milk from his bag, and we drank feminine milk together there on the playground. I asked him why he called it feminine milk, and he said that his dad came up with the promotion speech and was convinced that every speech he’d created was brilliant.

We continued to talk for another two hours. When it started to get dark was when we parted ways. Late into the night, I thought about him. About us, or something that was becoming an “us.” Why was I putting so much thought and contemplation into a flirtatious communication with a vegan milk promoter person? Like, had I asked any person six months ago what my life would be like in six months, and they would’ve said “You’re going to fall in love with a boy who comes to your door to talk about organic, vegan, cruelty-free milk, and drives a truck that says ‘Embrace nature. Drink plant milk.’,” I would have laughed. And right now, I am laughing. Because it is odd. And why am I so okay with confessing to myself that I’m falling in love? I’m not sure. Maybe because he doesn’t scare me at all. He gives me milk. That’s the most innocent thing in existence. And to me, it is now the sweetest thing in existence.

I like him. And tomorrow I’m going to see him again.

Wait. What even is his name?

●June 29, 2017●

5

Today, I’m going to give you the summed-up version of what I did. As best I can. Because I did a thing, and I’m blushing too hard right now to give away all the details.

He came to the door. After he greeted me with a dazzling smile, he reached into his bag, but as he did so, I pulled him inside and I kissed him.

I just… you know, grabbed onto his shirt and pulled him inside the front door and gave him a few really awkward kisses and everything was awkward after that, but I still think it was a good idea. He smiled and kissed me back. And then he proceeded to tell me about the milk he’d brought me, which he was embarrassed about. Which he very well should’ve been.

Unicorn milk.

*Cringe*

He blamed it on his dad, which was probably fair. He said his dad thought the recipe had a lot of “style.” Which I could agree on. The colors were all sparkly and pastel and magical. I just wondered how it would taste. I took the milk.

And he kissed me again. And then he left.

And I shut the door behind him and sat down on the floor and sighed with all the sunshine in the world beaming out of my heart, and clutching the bottle of milk close to my heart.

I’m still a stupid child.

●June 29, 2017●

This morning was the best morning to happen to me this summer. When Milk Man showed up at the door, he did not come with his leather bag full of glass milk bottles. He took my hand and we ran into his milk truck. It was like a regular food truck but with multiple refrigerators full of milk bottles.

At first I sat in the leather seat next to his, but then I stood up and opened a fridge, where I found several dozen bottles of milk arranged by color.

“How do you not make a mess of all this glass and milk?” I asked.

“The bottles are secured with wiring and stuff,” he answered, intelligently. “And I’m not allowed to go faster than sixty kilometers an hour. Forty is preferred.”

I began to read labels.

“Do you have any idea how deceiving this truck is?” I asked with a mischievous smile on my face.

“How is it deceiving?” he inquired.

6

“Well, you know. When everyone else sees this truck approaching, they think of free food. And animal rights activism. But… I think of romance. And anticipation. And gorgeous green eyes.”

He didn’t answer. But when I looked to his reflection in the mirror, I saw him smiling.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Juniper,” he answered. “My parents are the true definition of hippies.”

We were Juniper and Sienna, and I liked the way it sounded in my head.

I stayed with him while he delivered milk to the rest of the people on that block, and then he dropped me off when we came back around to my house. But before he ordered me to leave his truck or whatever, he gave me a glass bottle of milk. It was white, like the original milk.

“What’s this flavor?” I asked him.

“Nothing special,” he answered. “Coconut and mint. It’s just—it’s my favorite. You won’t know it by any foreign products or dramatic health changes, but it’s my favorite of all the flavors we’ve ever produced. So you can call it Juniper Milk.”

That was adorable, and I had to hug him tightly.

And then he left.

And all this happened on a Friday morning. Which means that it was three days until Monday, therefore three days until I saw him again. But I didn’t see him again on Monday. Someone else was driving the milk truck. Someone who was not my Juniper. And that fact alone made the bottles difficult to open, and the taste of the milk was only average. And that truck was only an irritating advertisement driven by an irritating salesman.

Epilogue

That wasn’t the last I saw of Juniper. I did see him plenty more times that summer. It kinda sucked that he had to alternate shifts with another driver.

Our romance did not stay a romance. Eventually I would ride in his milk truck every day—or we would chat at my door for twenty minutes at a time—which was when his dad decided that Juniper wasn’t getting his shift done fast enough. Juniper and I became friends. It was difficult, but it worked. He shifted from being my adorable green-eyed milk man and my adventure, to being my cute delivery guy. Juniper and I continued to flirt with each other. Sometimes I kissed him impulsively, and he would say “no no no no no no no,” and would attempt to yank me off him, and then walk back to his truck. Because, like, he cared about his job, or whatever.

I don’t even know what we were that summer. I just wanted to tell you the cute story of how I fell in love with the milk man who advertised organic, vegan, cruelty-free plant milk at my door and introduced me to a thing called Juniper Milk.

7

Do romances get to be cliché? Are the two characters always either high school students or college students or 35-year-old neighbors who have each been divorced twice? I wanted something a little different.

I don’t think I could very well have given them more advanced ages, because I don’t yet know how to write from the perspective of a grown-up. I am the same age as the characters in this story. But as far as their roles or back stories, I think maybe I was original there?

I hope you enjoyed it.

Juniper Milk: Part 1

Juniper Milk: Part 1

This is half of the romance I wrote, called Juniper Milk. The title is mysterious, I know. The second half of the story explains it. If you find yourself complaining that this romance doesn’t have any heartbreaks or realistic disappointments, I did that on purpose. Truthfully, all stories within my writing club were getting a little dark, with dreadful endings. I wanted to create something cute and innocent. And I also like that one character sells “organic, cruelty-free, vegan milk.” I like it because Nicholas Sparks and John Green never created that character; I did. I hope you enjoy Part 1:

Juniper Milk

by Erica Penner

(Milk. Style. Deceive. Embrace. Feminine. Brave.)

June 26, 2017

As I write these entries and pour my thoughts unrestrainedly onto these pages, I cannot even attempt to deceive you by saying that this was a usual morning and that this was a usual man. Boy. Man. I don’t know. He’s my age. But he was intriguing to me. And on this day, I began to care about milk.

He knocked on my door at exactly 9:25 A.M. on Monday morning, and greeted me with a charming smile. He reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle of milk. An old-fashioned-looking glass bottle of pale purple milk. I took it ever so hesitantly. And we started a conversation.

“What is this?” I asked him, because asking what peculiar object a person places into your hands without your permission is the perfect way to start a friendship.

“Blueberry milk,” he answered coolly. “You see my truck over there? We’re selling plant milks. Everything we release is totally organic, vegan, and cruelty-free. We’re promoting ourselves right now, so we’ll be handing out free milks for two weeks. Try it; you’ll love it.”

“Oh. Okay,” I answered with a smile, to this cute guy in front of me who seemed to actually be into his vegan produce promotion. I caught him staring. “Oh, um. Try it… right now?”

His smile dropped quickly, and he began to stammer. “Sorry, I—no. I mean, sure. If you want to. I just—try it anytime.” And he turned around and walked quickly back to his truck. I quickly twisted the cap off and took two swallows of the liquid, unhesitantly.

Those two swallows of organic, vegan, cruelty-free blueberry milk… were the beginning of everything.

“It’s wonderful!” I yelled after him. “I absolutely love your blueberry milk!” He turned around sharply with the widest smile on his face. “That’s great!” he called.

He hopped into his truck and drove it forward only about ten feet, then stopped it to deliver a free bottle of blueberry milk to my neighbor. I read the phrase on the side of his milk truck: “Embrace nature. Drink plant milk.” I could’ve cringed.

I should’ve cringed. The whole encounter was ridiculous. A seventeen-year-old boy in black jeans and a green hoodie had shoved a bottle of blueberry milk into my face. And had vivaciously run his speech by me. And his truck ordered me to embrace Mother Nature herself.

But he was into it. How many seventeen-year-old guys like the job of advertising an eco-friendly nutritious supplement, and do it with vibrance? I couldn’t think of any. And his smile was the sun itself.

1

I looked forward to seeing the milk boy again.

●June 27, 2017●

I needn’t bore you with the uninteresting details of my morning. At exactly 9:25 A.M., milk boy came to my door. He remembered me. I could see it in the way he looked at me.

“Hey!” he said with a wide smile. “Hello!” I answered back with lit-up eyes. There was a moment of awkward silence.

“Oh, um, I brought you something,” he said, pulling a bottle out of his bag, but not giving it to me yet. “This is definitely one of our more feminine selections,” he started, and it sounded like a script to me. And yet one he enjoyed repeating. “It’s dark chocolate milk, made from the cacao plants in Columbia. It’s known to encourage hair growth and clear skin. And if none of that matters, it tastes awesome.”

He still didn’t give it to me. He didn’t want to leave.

“Who do you work for?” I asked.

“My dad,” he answered. “Mom travels. Dad purchases and stocks the milk truck, then asks me to drive it and sell the produce. I mean, he doesn’t pay me, but it’s not too bad.”

I nodded. “I, um, I loved your blueberry milk. That was—how do you make it?”

“What, you expect us to give away our recipe?” he laughed. I mean, he laughed. I loved it. “Dad’s super secretive about it. Not even I know.”

He still hasn’t given me the milk.

“You seem to enjoy your job,” I commented.

“Yeah, like I said, it’s not too bad. I’m not getting paid, so I get to drink milk for free. That’s the one perk to the job. I stay well hydrated.”

“So, can I… have my milk?” I asked.

And just like last time, I caused him to feel flustered and clumsy. He fumbled with it, and then handed it to me. He was quick to leave, but he gave me another wide smile before he did so.

When I twisted the bottle cap off this time, something was jammed in it. I carefully extracted a small piece of paper, folded about eight times over. Once I finished unfolding it, I saw ten digits written on it.

So that smile wasn’t just related to dark chocolate milk. Which, by the way, tasted amazing.

That afternoon, I decided to be brave. But I felt nervous about being brave. Is that even a thing?

2

Can you be brave and nervous at the same time? If you’re nervous, you aren’t feeling brave, but maybe

you’re brave for pushing past your nervousness. I was brave. I dialed his number and waited for him to pick up the phone. It took so long. It left me plenty of time to panic and evaluate every possible awkward thing that could ruin the start of a very interesting friendship. Or whatever this was.

He answered with that vibrant voice that he greeted me with on milk mornings.

“Hi,” I answered. “I don’t know your name.”

“I don’t know yours,” he argued.

I wondered if I shouldn’t tell him my name. I could play a game. I could make him earn it.

Never mind. I am stupid.

“My name is Sienna,” I answered formally. “What’s yours?”

“I’m sure you’ll find out someday, Sienna,” he answered smugly. Stupid, I’m so stupid. I could’ve played that game.

“So long as you don’t tell me your name, I’ll call you Milk Man,” I threatened. Oh look, I played that game after all.

“You’re not the first one to call me that,” he replied. Well, what was I supposed to say to that? It was like the ending comment to a barely surviving conversation. Like someone answering “lol” instead of “Seriously, how do you never fail to make me laugh?” There’s nothing to say to it.

“Milk Man?” I ask. “Yes, Sienna?” he answered. “Do you even like your job?” I asked him. “I don’t want to offend you in any way. At all. But how many seventeen-year-old boys enjoy promoting a vegan health product to dozens of people in the neighborhood? You must be brave.”

“Consider it bravery if you like, Sienna.” Wait. Did he know how psychologically intimate it is to consistently address a person by their first name? I felt like we were best friends already. “But I really enjoy it. I can’t give any plausible reason as to why I like promoting vegan milk, but I do. I guess I’m trying to be different. Other guys are playing football and modeling leather jackets or even being manly enough to fix trucks and construct furniture, but I’m just trying to be genuine. I believe I’m doing good in this world, or at least this community, by offering people a healthy alternative to an overlooked cruelty.”

Oh my gosh, marry me.

He went on. “I embrace it, honestly. I’m hoping people will catch on to my enthusiasm.”

I won’t tell you the rest of that phone call. I told you the highlight of the phone call, and the rest was petty details. At the end of the call, I still didn’t have his name.

●June 28, 2017●

3

It was another lovely summer morning. When he came to the door, there was clearly some sort of chemistry between us. It was weird, because we were past the stage where we carefully observed each other with admiration and curiosity, and yet we were not quite to the stage where we could freely kiss each other.

Oh crap. I did not just think that.

Did I?

I did.

I noticed that when I opened the door for him, he leaned casually into the doorframe. It looked like he felt comfortable here. But then he peered into my house, looking both ways. I tilted my head and wondered at him.

“I did a thing,” he confessed. “I’m not giving you the same milk I give my other clients. They’re all trying some weird protein concoction, but… I brought you something slightly less innocent.” And he handed me the bottle.

I opened it and smelled it, and it made me grin.

“The flavor is vodka and lime,” he started. “In that whole bottle is 7% alcohol, 4% lime, and six—”

“Why are you still giving me the speech?” I inquired, attempting to be adorable.

“Just doing my job, Sienna,” he grinned, and then walked away. I started to close the door, but then he turned around and put his hand on the doorknob.

At this point, I hope you’re dying for Part 2. Stay tuned! It’ll be here soon.