The Big Day

I am one day away from my first wedding shoot. Saturday is the day. The anxiety dreams have begun in which I’ve already filled my memory cards, have forgotten my tripod and am alarmed when the wedding ceremony begins in the swimming pool.

But in reality, I think I’m ready. I rented a lovely 85mm prime lens and have been practicing with that and with my flash. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I simply don’t have time to master everything I would like to master in terms of technical skills before the wedding date. So I’m turning my thoughts toward the things I do well.

Test shot with the 85mm rental lens

Again, I’m grateful that I have been learning and applying editing techniques in Photoshop. I would certainly prefer to take photos correctly the first time around, but I’m glad I have such a powerful editing tool to help in case I don’t capture exactly what I’m after.

Here’s what I’m taking:

  • Nikon D5000. It doesn’t have a full-frame sensor, but it’s what I’ve got. I’m comfortable with its controls.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. This lens allows me some versatility and range, but it is heavy, so I’ll need to use it in bright conditions with fast shutter speeds or with something to stabilize it.
  • 85mm f/1.4. This is the rental lens and probably what I’ll use during the ceremony and for the posed shots. It’s really great for portraits, does well in low light and gives lovely Bokeh or blurred/out of focus areas to the image. The closer focal range will allow me to be further away from the ceremony and still get some nice, close shots.
  • 35mm f/1.8. I’m taking this because I have it, so mostly it will be a backup lens, but it is a really sweet little lens that I use a lot for food photography. It is also great in low light, so it might come in handy for things like shots of the wedding cake or other food shots.
  • 18-55mm f/3.5 and 50-200mm f/4-5.6. These are my kit lenses. I’m taking them as backup and hope not to need them, but they’re there if I do.
  • Two flashes: one manual and one with TTL metering capabilities
  • A whole bunch of AA batteries
  • A whole bunch of memory cards
  • Tripod
  • Stepstool
  • White foam core for bouncing light if necessary
  • Two camera batteries and charger
  • An “assistant.” Basically, my lovely spouse is going to follow me around, hold stuff, and keep an eye out for sweet moments I might be missing if I’m focused on something else.
  • A list I found online of “not to miss” wedding shots

A lot of what I’m packing I might end up not using, but I don’t want to be caught without something I need, and I absolutely don’t want any dead batteries or lack of memory storage.

another 85mm test shot

All that’s left at this point is to pack up the car and get there, then do what I do: take pictures. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m thrilled. A big day for the bride and groom. A big day for me too. It will be beautiful, I’m sure.

Here I go!


School’s out – time for learning!

Phew! The school year is over – at least til summer school starts – and although I love teaching, I’m sooooo excited about that.

Because I want to kick back and relax? No! Because I want to devour the last several months’ issues of Electronic Musician, work through hours and hours of tutorials on a bunch of pro music software packages, and get back to my schedule of producing a piece of music per day. I’m also teaching a new online course over the summer, which will be a great experience.

Sitting on the patio, catching up on industry magazines

Learning time – on the patio, on a beautiful summer morning. Rough!

A piece per day. When school’s not in session, I’m all over it; I manage it. But once school ramps up, it’s pretty tough to pull off. So another goal I have for this summer is to better organize my teaching materials for the coming school year so that I minimize my weekly prep time once school is in session.

It’s the old “chip away at it each day instead of cramming” thing, and since I preach it to my students, I oughta practice it too.

Here’s the thing: I’ve pretty much got my act together. But I pressure myself to improve my classes each time I teach them. So I don’t just pull out the same thing from last semester; I typically review and rewrite/redesign each module to fix what didn’t work, add new findings, and so on. And that’s the right thing to do. But I could do more of it in advance, which would allow me to spread out the work hours over months instead of days. It’s the old “chip away at it a little each day instead of cramming” thing, and since I preach it to my students, I oughta practice it.

So here’s a sampling of what’s on my plate for the summer:

  • a wad of tutorials at lynda.com – no matter your discipline, you can probably find valuable training there
  • the full set of MSP tutorials (I’ve used the Max side of the legendary Max/MSP suite for more than a decade but have only a little experience on the MSP side)
  • a big dive into Numerology, an amazing step-sequencer made right here in ABQ, for which I’m beta-testing a top-secret new module (eee!)
  • a similar dive into Xewton Music Studio for iPhone, for which I’m also a beta tester; I use it as a sketch pad currently and want to explore a little more with it
Xewton Music Studio Screenshot

Xewton Music Studio for iPhone does Apple’s own GarageBand several better.

  • teaching an eight-week, online music technology class during June and July, and prepping for teaching my regular classes next year
  • initial work toward a Working Classroom theater production that will go up in mid-September
  • prepping for the opening concert of the ISEA2012 Conference, which should be very, very fun…

It’s amazing how much energy you find when you love everything you’re doing.

What do you have on tap for this summer?


Great Websites for Photography Techniques

As I mentioned in the previous post, I recently visited the site where my first-ever wedding shoot will take place. It is a bed and breakfast in Ribera, NM.

The venue is lovely, and the ceremony will take place outdoors overlooking a beautiful vista. The reception will be indoor/outdoor and will last well into the night.

The view from the ceremony terrace. Plentiful New Mexico sunshine.

My visit was valuable in that it allows me to know ahead of time what kinds of photography challenges I will face so that I can prepare for them accordingly. Here’s what I learned:

  • The outdoor setting is BRIGHT, fully exposed to the sun. That means there is a lot of potential for high contrast and lots of shadows. And that in turn means I’ll need to be prepared to use a bounce card or a fill flash for posed photos, and think carefully about shot angles when shooting the ceremony. (As a side note, I have to say that after seeing the venue, I was pretty happy that I’ve been working so hard on my Photoshop skills. I’m confident that with the powerful Adobe software I’ll be able brighten shadows in post if necessary.)
  • The Bride and Groom will likely be placed with their backs to a wall of windows during the meal. So, again, I need to be prepared not to overexpose the windows and underexpose the couple. But on the plus side, there is potential for some creative silhouette shots.
  • The ceiling of the indoor reception area is wood, i.e., not white, meaning the color of my bounce flash will be affected.

So, all of that said, here are a few websites I’ve been visiting a lot lately:

  • Tangents, created by Neil Van Niekerk, is FULL of valuable information on a wide range of photography subjects. He even has several posts specifically about wedding photography – even as specific as “shooting in bright sunlight (wedding).” THANK YOU, NEIL!
  • The Strobist has a lot of valuable information – especially about understanding equipment. But a lot of the focus of this website is about off-camera flash, which I am just not prepared to use for the wedding shoot.
  • Digital Photography School has a lot of great general tips about photographing a wedding for the first time. Most of the tips then have links to other articles about the techniques necessary to achieve good results.

The Internet is, of course, as big and deep and wide as the ocean, so I know there is a wealth of other sites out there, but these have been three of my favorites so far. They’re the ones that have made me breathe a sigh of relief to know that I’m pointed in the right direction, I’m learning the right things, and gaining confidence with knowledge.

the ceiling: wooden beams

The wall of windows: possible exposure issues, but also potential for beautiful side light and silhouettes.


 


Flash Challenges

With my first-ever wedding shoot just a few weeks away, I took some time to drive out to the wedding venue and check it out ahead of time. It is a beautiful bed and breakfast in the tiny (and I mean TINY) town of Ribera, NM.

I brought my camera and new flash, which I’ve been practicing with and learning how to use. The flash is manual, meaning it will not meter through my lens. Since Nikon Speedlights that do have through-the-lens metering capabilities are fairly expensive, I chose a cheaper, well-reviewed manual zoom flash thinking I would learn how to deal with Flash Exposure Compensation on my own.

View from the terrace of the bed and breakfast

Some things don’t work inside my brain… and the concept of Flash Exposure Compensation is one of them. I don’t get it. I simply don’t get it. I’ve read, practiced and read some more, but I’m not making any headway. Will I keep trying? Absolutely. But right now, I have a job to prepare for and I can’t take my chances on equipment that I don’t understand.

Coco, the sweet B&B dog, was happy to help me take some test shots.

So I ordered another flash. I still didn’t spend the hundreds of dollars needed for a Nikon Speedlight. Instead, I found a third-party flash that offers through-the-lens metering. Had I known that such off-brand flashes existed, I would have never purchased the manual flash in the first place.

Live and learn. Anyone need a manual flash? Barely used?


How I Booked My First Wedding Photography Gig. And Why I’m Not (Totally) Freaked Out.

Life is full of firsts. First job, first love, first home, first (and I hope last) marriage. This past year, as I’ve worked at building my photography portfolio, I’ve had many photography firsts: first headshot session, first portrait session, first children’s portrait session. And coming up this May is possibly the biggest photography first of them all: my first wedding.

I’m nervous, of course, and excited. And since this is a first that many aspiring photographers encounter, I thought I’d share my journey and provide a window into the emotional, educational and practical lessons I’m learning along the way. In the interest of keeping the posts fairly short, I’m planning a series of them. This post covers my first steps.

How did I get recommended for this gig?

The short answer here is my food blog. I started my food blog, Buried Carrots, just over a year ago. I’ve worked diligently and researched regularly to improve my photography over the year. The blog still doesn’t have a ton of followers, but it gets more than 100 hits a day and tops 2,000 on a good day. It is steadily building. My biggest fans, of course, are folks who know me, and friend of mine who loves my blog has a friend who is getting married. She needed a photographer who wouldn’t charge a fortune, and I was recommended.

How did I nail down the gig?

I was completely honest with the bride. I told her I’ve never shot a wedding before, I am self-taught and learning as I go, and that she would need to feel comfortable with that. But I also told her that I felt really confident with natural light photography. I told her I had photographed kids and families and individuals, and that everyone I’ve worked with so far has been happy with my work. I also assured her that when you work in digital and take 1,000+ photos, you’re bound to get some good ones.  She agreed to have me photograph her wedding.

How did I decide on a price?

Carla keeps saying that at some point, I’m going to have to start charging people for my work. So far, everything I’ve done has been for trade or “whatever the client wants to give me.” I know there are a lot of strong opinions out there on this subject. This is mine: I’m building a portfolio, and until I have one in place, I don’t feel comfortable charging people. The experience is so incredibly valuable to me, from the challenges of each unique shoot to the challenges of post processing. And anyway, how can I ever shoot weddings if I’ve never shot a wedding? I need a wedding to shoot as much as the bride needs a photographer.

The bride’s budget was $500. I agreed to take $250 for the shoot and a specific amount of post-processing work. Any additional post-processing will be negotiated, and any equipment I need to rent will be paid for by the bride.

How do I keep myself from freaking out?

Research, research, research and research. Practice, practice and practice.

I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about wedding photography and the technical skills that I still lack in. And I keep picking up my camera every week and taking photos. You’re not going to take amazing photos if you never use your camera.

Also, I’m staying organized.

After my first conversation with the bride, I immediately created an Evernote document. I can access it from my laptop or from my phone, meaning that whenever I think of or see something that might help me do a better job at the wedding shoot (an idea, an existing photo, an article, a website, etc.), I save it into the Evernote document. I have all my notes from my first conversation with the bride there. And I have a wealth of helpful information in the form of links to everything from wedding photography tips, to lighting tutorials, to what shots to take.

All of this preparation helps calm my anxieties about my first wedding shoot. But it doesn’t erase them. This is someone’s special day, and I get one single chance to capture the beauty, emotion, delight and joy of it all. I can’t screw up.

But I trust myself. I’ll prepare as much as I possibly can, and that means I’ll be less likely to make simple mistakes- like not having enough memory or battery power. And when the wedding day arrives, I’ll do what I do: I’ll take photos. After all, it’s MY photographic eye that got me here in the first place. So I have to trust my abilities to capture light and laughter and tears and memories, photos that will forever mark this beautiful milestone in the Bride and Groom’s lives. And forever mark a pretty significant milestone in my life too.


The Value of Retrospect

I had a boss once who’d say, “I don’t care what’s on your resume. I don’t care what you did before; I care what you can do right now.” I saw his point when it came to certain b-schoolers on staff, but for my own purposes I thought of it more like, “Hey, sweet! Every day is a new opportunity to do something amazing! No baseline needed!”

Yeah, I’m Pollyanna like that.

Well, last week, I gave a talk about my composing work to a class of composition students, several working on their masters’ degrees in composition. It turned out to be a great opportunity for retrospection: how I started, the multiple paths I’ve maintained (so like a Gemini), my graduate studies, my many and varied extra-curricular pursuits, the incredible people I’ve gotten to work with, what about my work has changed and what hasn’t.

The Spreadsheet For Section 2

Evidence that during my thesis composition process, I was clearly out of my mind. In a good way.

Given that my audience would be a bunch of students preoccupied with thesis work, I decided to spend the bulk of the talk discussing my own. When I began preparing my slides, though, I realized that I might have to turn to my not-terribly-consistent journals for details about how I constructed my thesis, because it was 10 years ago. Like a place I used to live, it’s got certain landmarks that I’ve retained and used to navigate conversations about such things over the years: It’s called Name Day and is for electronics, oboe and cello; it’s based on the prose poem of the same name by the remarkable Teresa Phillips; it deals with her diagnosis with bone cancer as a toddler and the aftermath; and it employs serial techniques – the use of external information (in this case, the poem itself and aspects of Teresa’s post-op X-rays) to drive musical decisions. That much, I can recite on command. Any deeper, though…

Because, you know, I’m not crazy about paper at this point; I try not to collect or keep it. And to my memory, I’ve only recently become disciplined about documenting how each of my pieces is put together and especially how it’s performed. I’ve had to, though, because so many of my compositions – in contrast to my thesis piece – use some new/different combination of gadgets than the last; are performed by me as structured improvs and so not typically scored; and are performed once, maybe twice, right after completion and then not again for months or even years. So by comparison, I wasn’t sure how much I would’ve documented 10 years ago about a piece that resulted in a definitive score. What more was to document? And how much of the supporting material would I have bothered to keep?

Chicken Scratch

From the trusty blue spiral manuscript notebook.

But I looked through our bookcases anyway – and was rewarded with the spoils of being supremely Type A (about some things). Each item I unearthed brought a bigger smile and a stronger rush of memories than the one before. There was the original master print, complete with front matter describing the compositional process (phew!). Behind that, photocopies of the original hand-written score. In another section of the same shelf, the abused but still-legible prints of the spreadsheets in which I painstakingly tracked certain details of the piece – one for each of the three sections of the piece, and each one a taped-together tiling of 9 or more letter-sized sheets. Sooooo OCD!

Each of those documents represents hours upon hours of teeth-gnashing and triumph, self-doubt and certitude, and above all, complete surrender to the process. I worked so incredibly hard on it. I can see the spreadsheets tacked to the wall of my bedroom studio, the blue spiral music notebook I carried everywhere for months, and the lights hitting the performers as they took the stage for the premiere. These memories, and what they say about my capacity for hard work and even healthy obsession, could reinvigorate me on the worst of days.

Page One

Page 1. Beginnings, endings, all good.

To that former boss, I’d throw a well-worn business maxim: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. In Composing Kitchen language, I’d say that retrospection doesn’t have to be a consolation, an indulgence or a crutch; it can be a tool. Knowing what you’re capable of can propel you to do something that’s not just amazing, but even more amazing.

So go ahead: Read over your resume – be it literal or figurative – and then vow to exceed everything on it.

If you’d like more detail about Name Day and/or to hear excerpts,
leave a comment. I’ll be happy to tell you a ridiculous amount
based on my copious documentation.


Postcard From Orlando

This week we travelled to Orlando, Florida — the theme park, gift shop, outlet mall, chain restaurant, six-lane highway capital of the world. Or at least of the southern United States. Not exactly my first choice of destinations, but our aunt kindly and generously gave us a week at a timeshare property, so off we went to make the most of it and enjoy some time away.

When I travel I love to get off the beaten path and try to see a place for what it really is. As I researched things to do in Orlando, I began to realize that there isn’t much of an “off” the beaten path. Orlando is designed to draw in masses of people, charge them admission, entertain them, feed them and sell them souvenirs to remember it all by. Everything is BIG and colorful and fantastical. It’s what they do and they do it well. So we went with it, to an extent. We spent a full day at Epcot Center. We explored Downtown Disney, we saw a Medieval Times dinner show, we shopped at an outlet store, we played mini-golf, and we enjoyed it all, but we didn’t give up on finding our way off the beaten path.

After much searching, we found the more beautiful, serene side of Orlando — it does indeed exist. You just have look carefully.

At our resort we rented kayaks and paddled around the small lake bordering the property. Sure, it was right by the six-lane highway, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining. We hugged the shoreline where tall grasses and lilies grew and saw beautiful herons and cranes and even a small alligator hiding in the marsh. We visited two local gardens and explored the grounds filled with lush tropical plants and flowers, and absent of crowds. We were the only customers in a small Falafel place in a strip mall, and we enjoyed huge plates of hummus and pita, falafel, dolmas, and tabouleh. We ventured out to Winter Park to a sidewalk art festival and enjoyed wandering from booth to booth seeing paintings, pottery, sculpture and photography.

Those are the places I would go if I lived in Orlando. They are places and things that bring me comfort and joy and a feeling of peace. They provide some respite from the crazy, bright, crowded bustle that dominates the rest of the city. They must be places that make Orlando feel like home to some who live there. They are certainly lovely memories for me, and I don’t even need a t-shirt to remember them by.

 

Read more about the Orlando trip at Buried Carrots.

 

 

 

 


TCB: Replacement Parts and Sweethearts

Saturday was Shoe-Cleaning Day in my childhood home. We’d get out Dad’s wooden shoe-shining box, which I always loved; fish out the right polish and the perfect rag; and set to work taking care of our Sunday shoes.

Dad had to have been so patient. I mean, think of it: little kids and shoe polish? Yikes! I do remember putting down newspaper to work on, to spare the carpet — another example of taking time to care for what we had, as modest as it might have been.

a typical wooden shoe-cleaning kit

Such a simple thing, yeah?

You could say that it was instilled in me early on to take care of what I had and make it last. It didn’t surprise me at all, decades later, to see Steven Covey write about “PC,” or production capability. In short, he says you have to take good care of your resources, be they things or relationships, so that they can keep taking care of you. I get that, definitely. For example, I’ve arranged my work schedule to reserve Friday and Saturday as my weekend with Karen.

But things come up, other things that need care and attention too. In the weeks leading up to that demanding theater production I was just in, I’d noticed my laptop — the one I perform with and compose on — complaining very, very loudly. The fan would regularly work itself into a fit that sounded something like an animal sacrifice on an airport runway: whirring, shrieking and imminent takeoff. It wasn’t rocket science to figure out that if the fan was suffering, eventually the rest of the machine would suffer too and that I’d better do something about it before a meltdown occurred.

But… did I really want to open up the laptop the week before a major paid gig? I decided I had no choice. I had to take care of my PC. (OK, it’s actually a MacBook, but I couldn’t resist the Covey pun.)

Bad MacBook fan. Bad, bad fan.

The gutted MacBook and the offending fan, quieted for the moment...

I found a great site called iFixit.com that not only sold the right replacement fan but had open-source, step-by-step instructions for performing the surgery. I did a practice run, pulling everything apart and coming up with a screw-tracking method to ensure that everything got put back in the right place. It did. So I ordered the part.

The part came — on a Friday. Not just any Friday that I should be spending with Karen instead, but the day of the show’s $100-per-ticket opening gala, and the start of a whirlwind that would keep me out of town and away from Karen for most of the next two weekends. No choice, though. I got out the scalpel and commenced the lobotomy on my beloved little MacBook. Karen looked on from her own perch at the kitchen island and kept me smiling through some tense moments.

Out, vile fan!

The bullet, pulled from the gaping wound. (Yes, the fortune-cookie strip affixed to the screen margin says, "You are working hard." True to my Presbyterian roots.)

It went great. I gave new life to a 6-year-old laptop (that’s 90-something in people years).

And when I finished sewing the patient back up, I took care of the most important resource of all: I spent the rest of the day with my sweetie. And thanks, honey, for taking such good care of me, because I too plan to be around for a while.


The gig that ate my life (but left me smiling)

The past two weekends, I’ve been in a theater/music collaboration as part of the experimental ensemble I play in. We’re called Out of Context, and we do something called conduction — a method of improvisation that’s guided by a conductor who uses a set of hand signals to indicate, very generally, what we musicians are to do. Some signals allow the conductor to build coherence and even returning motifs or musical settings into the improvisation; other signals allow him to whip us into a chaotic frenzy and then stop us instantly. It is an incredible amount of fun.

Here’s a trailer assembled from previous performances:

STORM: Theater Grottesco and the Out of Context Orchestra
from Theater Grottesco on Vimeo.

Dino (JA Deane), our conductor, collaborated with members of Theater Grottesco in Santa Fe along with a number of writers, scientists, poets, videographers and visual artists to compile a variety of text and images about our changing environment. The resulting piece, which we performed eight times over two weekends, is called STORM — and I’d have to say it presents like one: fierce, sometimes overwhelming, different every night, probably too unrelenting some nights but with a clear ebb and flow other nights. Dino conducts the ensemble as always, including the actors, but in this show also improvises the triggering and placement of multiple videos projected above and around the stage.

If you’ve ever been in a theater production, you know how consuming it can become. It’s a huge time commitment, from initial rehearsals through tech/dress rehearsals and then finally the shows. When you have a matinee and an evening show at a theater that’s an hour from home, it’s a little tough to do much of anything else.

I spent those in-between hours on my own in the warehouse/gallery/theater space, working on ideas for another gig coming up. I surrendered to the limbo. My composing schedule and goals went out the window for those two weeks, and I decided to just be OK with that.

Another trait of shows like this is the camaraderie that they just about always foster. I adore my bandmates. No two ways about it. OOC has existed as a band for 15 years, 11 of which I’ve been around for, getting together on the second Sunday of every month for years and years to make chaotic, often strangely beautiful sounds. They’re family to me.

Out of Context 2012 (L to R): JA "Dino" Deane, conductor; Milton Villarubia III, electronic and acoustic percussion; Jon Baldwin, cornet; Joseph "Joey" Sabella, vibes and electronic percussion; CK Barlow, sampler/live sampling; Paul Bossert, trombone; Jefferson Voorhees, drums; Katie Harlow, cello; Alicia Ultan, viola; Ross Hamlin, guitars; John Flax, text; Bonnie Schmader, flutes; Carlos Santistevan, upright bass.

The other day at my freelance gig, I ran into a former coworker from the job I quit last summer. We caught up a bit, and in parting she said, “You’re really living the dream, Carla.” It’s funny; I have a sticker on my laptop that says just that. It was given to me by a musician friend, Jacqueline van Bierk of the band Otto’s Daughter — it’s an ad for their EP “living the dream.” I stuck it on the laptop case so that it’s visible to others when I’m working/playing, and I did so a little bit facetiously.

But weeks like this make me stop and think… I guess I am, huh?


White Lies and Valentines

Every once in a while, one of my clients innocently asks, “Are you married?” This always stops me in my tracks. Even if I see it coming, it forces me to pause, to think about how to answer.

I’m a massage therapist. Basically, I go into a dark room with naked strangers for a living. There is, of course, much more to a therapeutic relationship than that. There is a great deal of trust involved. Clients trust me to care for them and respect them, as well as maintain their boundaries, both physical and emotional. It can be a delicate balance sometimes. We are two individuals. We might be as different as could be, and yet we agree to spend an hour or so together in a situation that makes both of us somewhat vulnerable.

In massage school, I took ethics classes in which I was instructed not to talk about myself to my clients. I’m to let the client guide any conversation that may or may not occur. And I learned to set my own boundaries regarding what and how much I share with my clients, if anything.

So when the questions begin — like, “How long have you been doing this?” “Are you from here?” “Do you have any kids?” — my answers are short and polite, and I quickly turn the conversation back to the client or to the massage. “I wonder if the pain you’re experiencing in your arm is due to nerve entrapment?”

But when they ask if I am married, everything changes.

Suddenly I have to decide. Do I tell the truth and risk upsetting my client if they are conservative and anti-gay? I’m compassionate enough to imagine that a homophobic person would feel very uncomfortable lying naked in a dark room and being touched by a lesbian. Not to mention the discomfort I would feel. Do I lie? Which way shall I lie? Tell them I have a husband? Or tell them no, I’m not married? Or do I say something neutral like, “I prefer not to discuss my personal relationships?” — in which case I’ve probably raised their suspicions and so I might as well have told the truth.

I hardly think a straight massage therapist would be faced with the same conundrum.

Today it was a perfectly sweet Midwestern woman who asked me if I was married. She was retired, travelling with her husband on a two-month adventure in their motor home.

I lied to her — and then my heart broke and all I could think of was my beautiful wife, whom I love and love and love.

Maybe I would have been pleasantly surprised. Maybe if I had spoken the truth my client would have said, “Oh wonderful! Tell me about your wife.” I won’t ever know. Is it even my place to test that boundary during a massage?

It’s Valentine’s Day. Carla and I are celebrating. We love each other to the ends of the earth and back again. We will keep loving each other every minute of every day until our days are done.  And someday, during our lifetimes, I hope I will be able to tell each and every person I meet how proud I am of my beautiful wife and expect nothing more than a smile in return.

I’ll just keep loving her until we get there.