Recently, the Digital Photography School posted a challenge to photographers: photograph items from your everyday life. I loved this idea. I'm often photographing people or nature, so I jumped at the chance to work on something outside the box. I thought about the things I do every day- brush my teeth, go to work, walk the dogs. How do you make mundane tasks and items interesting? Below is my attempt.
We got engaged in Iceland and before we were even back on American soil I had ordered this bird from Amazon so I had somewhere to put my ring when I showered. It still feels foreign, having an engagement ring, when 2.5 years ago I was considering just giving up and hoarding pets. Now I'm getting married. The future Mrs. Ferrufino. And still considering hoarding pets. But at least there's another human being to keep me on the right side of sanity on a daily basis.
Five months ago, I would have had two additional bottles to photograph. I had a cornea transplant in May. I never fully appreciated organ donors before this, although according to my license, I am one. Someone is dead and now a piece of their cornea is stitched onto my eyeball. It's weird. And incredible and humbling and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about it. The procedure itself is barbaric, as my fiancé has aptly described it. I was put under anesthesia for about 5 minutes, just long enough for them to stick a needle in my eye to administer local anesthesia. And then they woke me up. My head taped to a hospital bed as I listened to Peter Gabriel over the sound system and the doctors talking about the happy hour they would attend that evening. The last time my head was taped to a hospital bed was during my first cornea procedure. I had contracted a strain of bacteria during my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama. It took me two days to get to the capital city and an additional 8 hours to get a hold of someone at the Peace Corps Headquarters in DC. When you are a Peace Corps Volunteer, doctors cannot do any kind of procedure without HQ consent. I remember the doctor was panicked. I remember her telling the nurses to prep for the removal of my entire eyeball because if they couldn't operate soon, the bacteria was going to eat through my optic nerve. The nurse finally told me that I had to go home. I cried and collapsed in the waiting room. I was in so much pain I can only describe what I was experiencing as an out-of-body experience. I walked back to my hotel room, hyperventilating. 10 minutes after I got to my hotel room, the doctor called. They had gotten ahold of someone at HQ. I was going under the knife within the hour. So I go back, change into a dressing gown, and have my head taped to the hospital bed, my first major medical procedure, and the doctor is asking me if I have anyone that can come get me. Your family and friends aren't coming? Queue panic attack and copious amounts of valium. So that's what I'm thinking about during this transplant procedure. And I'm starting to panic again except I can't form the words to signal that I need more valium. So I just lay there. And then I start singing. Because if I can't tell them I need more valium, at least I can prove to everyone in the room that I know the words to Sledgehammer.
When they sent me home from the transplant surgery, my eyelid wasn't taped down well enough and every time I blinked the lid rubbed against my newly stitched cornea. All I could feel was searing pain and regret. The two Percocet and three Ibuprofen I'd taken had no effect. Aaron was telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth as he's dialing the doctor. "You're going to have to get her through the first 24 hours" is all I hear above my own breathing. Aaron taped my eyelid down, despite my squirming and screaming. I slept for 14 hours. I couldn't manage to open my good eye without straining the bad one, so Aaron spoon fed me dinner as I sat on the bed with both my eyes shut.
It's been about 5 months now and I barely notice the stitches. I only had Percocet for one blissful week and I've been done with the antibiotic and wetting drops for months. This is all that remains. The anti-rejection drops. To make sure my immune system doesn't rebel against the new tissue. 1 drop. Every day.
The blonde one is mine, the black one is Aaron's mom's. I got Farrah four years ago. I was back from the Peace Corps, moved into my own place, newly employed, and lonely. So I looked at a bunch of fostered dogs through the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, and that's where I found my girl, then named Baby Girl. There was no way I was calling her Baby Girl. When I saw her, I thought she was a fabulous blonde like Farrah Fawcett, though she was grossly overweight. So I paid $300 to adopt her and loaded her in the car with 5 new tennis balls and a dog tag with my address on it. It was mid-January, but as I watched her struggle to get up on the couch, I knew I had to get the weight off her. So every day we woke up at 5am and we ran. Just a mile. Over the snow and ice. In the dark. With Farrah trailing me at the end of her leash. But little by little she lost the weight and little by little she got faster until she was leading me at the end of her leash. She's my little ray of sunshine, always smiling her little Labby smile.
Sadie is a more complicated character, fiercely loyal to her family and equally protective of her house. She's funny and bossy and demanding of attention. She brings me shoes when I come home and let's me know she is VERY displeased when I leave the house without her.
A love note from my one and only next to the running list of household items we need. I have always felt that small gestures mean more than grand ones. Not much thought goes into buying someone roses on their birthday, but a love note left on the side of the fridge on a random Tuesday is profoundly romantic.
My life source. Two cups. Every morning. I prefer Lavazza, but I will drink just about anything if I'm desperate. I like to drink out of my Colorado cup when I work from home. I bought it on my last trip out there, when Aaron was able to join me and I got to show him around Rocky Mountain National Park.
Growing up on 52 acres in rural Massachusetts, I have always had an appreciation of nature. Now working in the environmental conservation realm, it has reinforced my love of the outdoors. Fall has always been my favorite season, October my favorite month. The light, soft and warm, filtering through the changing tree leaves, pouring onto the yellowing underbrush. It's a photographer's dream.
The benefits of being outside are plentiful. Get outside. Breathe deep. Relax.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all in one hanging basket. I cook for us, since I get home first and get hangry by the time Aaron is just leaving work. The blackened bananas sweeten our morning smoothies of almond milk and whatever isn't rotting in the vegetable bin in the fridge. The potato will probably be thrown into my purse last-minute, serving as lunch if the low-power microwave at work can nuke it for about 15 minutes without making the lights dim. I'll slip the onion into some kind of sauce even though Aaron doesn't like them. I always consider it an accomplishment if I can chop something he doesn't like small enough for him not to notice it in his dinner.
This is the trunk of my car. The blankets and boppies and baskets all tricks of the trade. I need them for newborn sessions and family sessions and then I need back-ups for my back-ups. And then there's the tupperware of tennis balls, which is a dead giveaway that I own a Retriever. It's embarrassing when I give someone a ride and they want to put their bag in my trunk, but I swear I need it all. I've tried to thin out the collection, but when you photograph newborns, you run the risk of your blankets getting peed on, and so you need more than 2 blankets just in case. I've threatened to buy an SUV just to cart around my equipment.
Prepping my lunch, making sure I eat a vegetable on a daily basis instead of the pizza that I would rather be eating.
Signs of my love. Living with someone is funny. A huge sacrifice on both our parts. But I look around and see signs of him everywhere, of the life we're building together, and it puts a smile on my face. I'm also thankful that he tucked his shoes under the bench so I don't trip on them at 3am when I get up to go to the bathroom. Like I said, it's the little things. :)