michigan of the lake variety

I am so behind in photoblogging. My best friend, Emilie, updates her blog more than I do, and she's in Lesotho, without any regular internet access. Of course, Emilie is also talking to actual people when she blogs, people she will not see again until early 2010 at best. I am talking to myself. Of course, since I drive over an hour every day to commute to school and back, I talk to myself quite a bit. This is nothing new; it's just with pictures.

A few weeks ago, on my way back to Lansing from Chicago, I decided that I wanted to take photos of Lake Michigan. I got off of I-94 in southwestern Michigan and drove towards the lake. I ended up in one of those private, rustic communities, but rustic in the sense that they have a lot of "TOP SECRET PRIVATE DRIVEWAY" type of signs and strategically-placed fences, so you can't glimpse the lake for anything. I thought about hopping a fence, since most of the houses looked empty, but decided to just drive a bit further north in search of a public lake viewing area. I stumbled upon Warren Dunes State Park, a favourite weekend destination of many a Chicago-based youth group, including mine. I think I only went on the trip once, though. I'm not a big beach person. I am, however, big on photographing big lakes.

Lake Michigan
Big lake with little waves, taken while crouching down so waves look bigger. A little bigger. Maybe.

Lake Michigan into the sun
This probably breaks some rule of basic photography, but I love taking pictures of water into the sun. I love the glare.

Warren's Dune
Not the best picture in the world of a dune, but probably not the worst either. The small dots in the middle are cute kids that kept climbing up them just so they could run down. I don't think I ever had that kind of energy.

I've been a busy bee lately. I have photos from the Irish Hills to post, as well as ones from my Thanksgiving-break trip to San Francisco. I might post a few more skating ones in the near future, too.


best friends for life

Yesterday, Emilie left for Lesotho. She just began service in the Peace Corps. She'll be back in spring 2010. Lesotho, for those not aware, is a landlocked country right in the middle of South Africa. Yep, it's surrounded completely by South Africa - like a little cut-out in the middle of the country. It's far. It's also not the easiest place to get to. I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I will only see Em once, at most, in the next two years and four months.

I vaguely remember meeting Em when I was young...maybe about 9 years old, or so. My stepdad was her parents' realtor. We knew them from church, but I knew her brother better, since he was in my grade. I was with my stepdad once when he needed to run by their house, and I think I played Barbies with Emilie. She was nice, but she was two grades younger than me, and that's a big deal when you're 9. Fast forward to summer 2000, after my junior year of high school.

Although I grew up in my church, I kind of missed the friends bus for a while. I had a couple of wonderful friends, but we kind of kept to ourselves, and I didn't feel like I fit in with a lot of the other kids in my youth group. In July 2000, a group of us went to a conference in Minnesota. Barbie, my best friend since 4th grade, was going, but there was a slight problem with the rooms - they were quadruples. My youth pastor and his wife were making the room assignment list, and they weren't sure what to do with Barbie and me. They ended up putting us with a couple of girls that they thought we'd get along with, even though they were two years behind us in school - Emilie and Trulie.

Em, Tru, Barbie, and I became a foursome that week. We clung to each other over the next year, until Barbie and I graduated and went away to school, but Em and Tru were two true friends and we kept in touch. Emilie was the first person to see my ring when I got engaged the next summer. She came to visit me in Miami during her senior year. I surprised her at her dorm twice - once in 2003, once in 2004.

I don't know exactly when, but sometime in there, I realized that she'd become one of my best friends. There's not anything that I can't say to her, nothing that she wouldn't understand. There have been some parallel events in our lives, giving us a shared perspective on our experiences and on faith. We're not all alike, though, and that is why she is suited for her Peace Corps placement in southern Africa, and I am not.

I'm going to have to kick it old school with the letter writing. She will probably have limited access to email, but she's not sure yet. And she might even be able to get a cell phone, so maybe I can explore this Skype thing that I hear about so often. I kind of dropped the ball when she did a study abroad semester in France, and I still feel terrible about my communication issues. I'm actually working on a Post-It note system to keep up with my letters to her, and I'm even thinking of patenting it if all goes well.

She left Chicago on November 5. I went home the last weekend of October, since it was her birthday weekend, and I had a day off for "fall break," which is really code for "Emilie's birthday, observed." We watched some of our favourite episodes of The Office, saw the latest Reese Witherspoon movie, went out for some of the best sushi I have ever had, and avoided saying goodbye at all costs. We tried, before I left to drive back to Michigan, but I kept laughing, and then I was crying, and it was too hard, so we said that we'd talk on the phone before she left. We talked a little on Monday night this week, but again, I couldn't let her say goodbye. It wasn't until she called yesterday, from the airport, that goodbye became necessary.

How do I get upset with someone for wanting to make the world a better place? How do I feel sorry for myself when my best friend is taking an extended leave of absence from the continent to join the Peace Corps? Is it acceptable to be upset that Gilmore Girls Season 7 is coming out next week, but I won't be able to watch it with her for over two years? How do I get upset over a television show when she's going to be teaching math to kids in Lesotho? How do I say goodbye to my best friend?

I just cry. That's all.

I'll get used to it, right? After a while? Of course I will.

Me & Em on our last weekend in Chicago together for quite some time



Well, I have this camera, right? And I have a lens that makes pretty figure skating photos. And...football is kind of like figure skating, right? I mean, they're both sports, and sometimes people were bright colours, but sometimes people wear white. And they...go fast. And a football field is big, like an ice rink. Okay, okay. I'm reaching. But I figured that I'd give football photography a shot, so I showed up at my school's Homecoming game a few weeks ago.

After a few shots, I quickly realized that football is not equal to figure skating. It's more difficult to shoot a sport that I don't know as well, but at least the years I spent at the University of Miami gave me a basic understanding of the game.

Shooting our game was fun. With the length of my lens, I knew I needed to be in the stands, so I spent most of the game perched on one of the stairs, getting jostled by people making nachos runs, which led to me craving my own nachos. Something about being in a crowd of people makes me go crazy for processed cheese. I can't explain it.

This was my favourite shot of the game. A return on an interception led to Olivet's first touchdown in the second quarter, and I was at a great angle to capture it.

People always tell me to remember that there are other people at a sporting event besides the athletes. I wasn't crazy about my crowd shots, but I did get some good ones of the cheerleaders. The one on the right is Natalie, a fellow English major, and a super sweet girl.

#2 rushes
This guy was chosen as the MIAA's player of the week, or something like that. He rushed for a lot of yards, I think. This photo that I took of him, from late in the game, was featured prominently on the back page of the school paper.

Punt return
I love this lens, seriously. Even from all the way in the stands, I can get definition of a player's muscles.

Olivet won the game, 21-14, which gave us the lead in the MIAA standings. We lost the game two weekends ago, but won last weekend, which put us in a three-way tie for #1 again. The last game of the season is this Saturday, and I have no idea what happens if we win and if Alma and Hope also win their games. I think all three of us has lost to one of the others, but not both. I think Division 3 has playoffs, unlike Division 1, but I could be wrong about that, too. Go Comets!

More sports photography to come!