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Category: Personal

Who is She? There is more that meet's the eye of someone.

Who is she?

I remember asking that one day. It’s not a question I ask anymore, but sometimes I wonder if other photographers do.

Three years ago, I decided to jumpstart my career by joining photographer communities.  After a long hiatus due to my Nikon film camera failing, I came back to the industry eager to spread my wings. I began to join forums, groups, and any location where photographers mingled. It was an exciting time for me; I was so innocent to the whole idea of networking with likeminded artists. I was going to hang with the best of them, share my work with others, and receive constructive critique. Things were different compared to the early 2000’s. Back then, Deviantart and other forums were the places to be for this. I figured things would be the same just different web platform.

Man … was I in for a rude awakening.

No longer was the community about the art, it became a popularity contest. Arrogant professionals who slapped at the amateurs. Amateurs who couldn’t take critique. Professionals who enjoyed giving unsolicited critiques. And personalities of every type fighting for recognition. There were bullies, copycats, and even petty rivalries. It was hard to believe that the community had turned into this … war zone of sorts. Gone was the time where it was just an art form. Or maybe I was just not lurking in the right places.

I did what I could to try and reach out to others. It didn’t kick off well. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a big name. Maybe it was because I wasn’t creating stunning lifestyle imagery that was all the rage. I don’t know. Being a new face meant nobody pays you much attention. That’s what made it so easy to sit, listen, and read. I picked up fast on the lingo with photographers. Business tips, lens talk, the difference between clean and matte, and a ton of other things.

I even began to learn about the big time names in the industry. Names that weren’t exactly famous to me but famous because of their huge following. Sue who? Jasmine who? These photographers were the superstars; people who turned their business into something more. Often I’d hear wonderful stories of how these people changed or inspired them to do better. It was wonderful looking at photographers share work and say that it was all because of this person or that.

But sometimes … there were people who enjoyed ripping these successful pros down. How dare these successful entrepreneurs be successful. People loved pointing out how they were imperfect and undeserving of their fame. Because what better way to feel better about yourself than to tear another down.

One name came up quite a bit in one group with a mass of female photographers. It was a name that would go on to be the most repeated name since joining the community. A popular photographer respected and renowned for her takes on children and maternity. Beautiful hand-crafted artwork.

Who is she?

A question I asked one day in a community where her name came up often.

The worst person to have ever walked this earth, they said. Someone who was arrogant and didn’t care much for her fans, they told me. Someone who didn’t deserve recognition and cheated to get where she is, they rambled. On and on they went about this person in a thread in a Facebook group…and I all I could think was Wow.

Never mind the fact that stories shared were usually second-hand or third-hand accounts. For these few, the stories were all they needed to hear to confirm their views. Looking back, I think some of the animosity was born of pure jealousy and desire to see another fail. Uncertain of what to think, I kept my thoughts neutral and head low. If the stories were true then christ almighty, but there was never any evidence save for the gossip. What did I know? If people said she was a bad person, then she must be, right?

One day, I saw a notification stating that someone reported my post. Reported? By who?

Her.

Uhm … excuse me?

I couldn’t believe it. My thread tossed into the fire because I was venting? I was furious. I couldn’t believe that the stories were true as they said! You’re thinking that was the moment I went down in history to hate this woman for the rest of my life. Well, almost. I could have walked away thinking this person was just a bully.

… but I tend to dig deep rather than assume the worst.

Curious, I went ahead and messaged her to ask why. A polite, simple request to just try and understand the reasoning behind the report since I knew she did it. She could have ignored me. Told me to fuck off like so many claimed she does. Read the message and never reply leaving me left to wonder for years. None of that happened. Instead, she asked how did it happen, apologized for the confusion, then went to report the bug. We shared a few more words until it faded off and life went on with the matter addressed and fixed. It turned out that it was not my post but another post within the thread. For some reason, because I was the thread owner, I was able to see the notification. An error in the system that was now repaired so that it never happened again. Little did I know that this was only beginning.

In a community where I often felt alone, she made me feel welcomed. Over time we would go on to have more conversations whether initiated by either her or me. Our paths would cross a few more times until we finally just friended each other and went on from there. She was amazing. I remember her excited about coming to Philadelphia to meet me. Me? Why? Because she liked me, she said. Terribly anti-social and shy me couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to meet me, and yet she did. When we finally met, she was funny, real, genuine, took pictures of my son, then went home to share them. It was a great experience and the first of many to come.

For the last four years, I’ve been her friend. And for four years I’ve watched and seen everything thrown at this woman. Tons of massive praise from her admirers and the occasional pebble thrower from haters. From the other side, it’s actually kind of weird how far some people will go to discredit someone. People who go out of their way to even lie about her just to paint her in a terrible light. I began to notice that the loudest criers were the same ones who loved imitating her work. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want their work to look like someone else’s. Maybe it’s me, but I wouldn’t take it as a compliment if someone said my work looked like another. The whole point is to set yourself apart from the rest. But… that’s a whole other issue in itself … for another time.

Who is she?

She is a friend who in a time of need listened when I vented, chatted when bored and laughed at things that amused us. She worried over me when I struggled with postpartum depression. Nagged me when I didn’t get it handled. Not afraid to be upfront about her feelings and never sugar coats bullshit when she sees it.  Last month, I spent my nights awake for long hours trying to soothe a colicky newborn. I vented about this often. This woman went out of her way to gift me a brand new sofa that I had a place to rest while soothing him.

I cannot begin to understand a person when they tell me she is cruel. It just does NOT compute when someone claims she’s horrid, arrogant, or worse. Having endured and suffered cruelty in my life, she’s the farthest thing from it. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she’s perfect. She makes mistakes and bleeds like the rest of us; nobody is perfect. But sometimes it’s hard to be human when the world expects you to be a “perfect industry leader”. I don’t envy her situation. I don’t think it’s fair, either. But as a friend, I can do my best to try and clear up her name whenever people work hard to smear it.

Because I’m her friend, not a follower.

A person with an agenda can misconstrue a simple misunderstanding and make far worse than it is. I went into a situation expecting to come across a savage individual. I instead made an unlikely acquaintance who is someone I’m proud to call a friend.

So who is she?

I don’t know. Why don’t you find out yourself? No, seriously. Find out yourself.

The Photographer: Lights, Camera, Fail

On top of being a mom, I label myself a Work at Home Mom since I’m a Photographer.

Photographer? That’s a sweet gig.

Kind of. It’s a fantastic form of art that some do as a passionate hobby and others for income. I sit somewhere in-between.

I chose Photography because it chose me.

No, really. It did.

In 2002, I was a student attending the Art Institute. I was feeling frustrated with my experience so far with the major I took up. Animation & Media Arts didn’t feel like something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. I was feeling uncertain about my future after college. One day I was wandering the school halls and came across this gorgeous picture. It was this photograph a student had taken of a couple walking in the park during autumn. Everything about it was amazing; the sharpness, the colors, and the mood all spoke to me.

“That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’m going to become a photographer.”

I was so confident of this decision that I changed my major to Photography that same day.

Parent Life: Raising Children with Anxiety

I remember going to do my glucose test three years ago when I was pregnant with Daniel. I recall this one mom bringing in her toddler to also have his blood drawn. The nurse took them in and – with a little of bit fussing – managed to complete the task on time. She thanked the phlebotomist and headed out. The phlebotomist then ushered me in and immediately started to make fun of the mother.

“He’s still in diapers, can you believe that?” she said while shaking her head and sticking the needle into my vein. “What is that mom doing? He’s about four and still in diapers. That’s a damn shame.”

“Yeah, she should know better,” I said with an awkward grin. In truth, I wasn’t sure why she was even mocking this woman with me. Maybe she was a first time mom just like me doing her best to raise her little boy. And yet I sat and listened as this professional mocked the woman for not having her son trained out of diapers.

Looking back, I wish I had spoken up and said something in her defense. But seeing as I was not even a mom yet, I didn’t know what to say.

 

That was the moment when my anxiety kicked in and the fear raising mine sunk in. The fear of judgment on how I raise my child.

 

Daniel is about to turn three next month and enjoying all the things about summer so far. Next month we plan to celebrate with a few friends and family. I’m both excited and worried at the same time about it for a few reasons. One is because my son is TURNING THREE! That means for three years I have been doing the deed of being a parent. Somehow.

The other reason is because of a problem I have known about for a while: his speech delay. He doesn’t speak sentences like I imagine most children do at his age. He doesn’t communicate with us his wants or needs. He knows how to show us what he wants and he understands a little of what we say, but he doesn’t know how to speak to us. His vocabulary is small and most of it is just echoing what we say.

Many moms say this seems to be normal for boys in general. Others say that their kids have some sort of delayed something so its natural. I plan to get him evaluated and do all the necessary steps to see about getting that fixed.

Some tend to sympathize with me since they are either in the same boat themselves. Others have been encouraging, supportive, and offered excellent ideas or suggestions.

But then there are some who have offered thoughts that tend to be more critical than supportive. While I don’t expect everyone to understand when I seek out help or vent, it tends to kick my fears into overdrive. Sometimes it’s not even because of verbal or written communication to others. It can be a look from a parent at the store when my son is having a tantrum. It can be the noise that comes from our table when we are out eating. I worry a lot about how others view my parenting skills when they witness his behavior.

What are they thinking? Do they think I’m an idiot? Too free? Not disciplining right?

I have lived with social anxiety all my life. I’ve managed to cope with it in my adulthood, but it almost feels amplified when it comes to parenting. The constant worry that someone is laughing or judging. The fear of widespread gossip or just disappointing thoughts on my decision making. The awful feeling of knowing someone out there thinks I am doing a bad job.

Anxiety is weird like that. While it makes no sense why I would think that way, these are the thoughts I often tackle as a parent. With no relief, all I can do is try my best to ignore it.

I think what helps is that I tell myself my son is happy. Bottom line he’s a healthy and happy boy. He laughs, he runs, he plays. He’s a lively child with a ton of energy that is difficult to contain.

With my son’s speech delay, I need to tell myself it’s not my fault. I have to remember that every child is different, including Daniel. That no matter what sort of disability or learning issue he may run across, my son is perfect in his own way.

 

“Regardless of what he may or may not be, he is still just Daniel.”

The words of a friend that still rings now. No matter what, he is an amazing kid. My kid.

 

What matters is that my son is happy. That our family is happy. While it may not be easy to tune ou my fears that comes with my anxiety issues, I know that I am doing the best I can. Nobody can be or is the Perfect Parent.

We strive to do the best we can for our littles and hope they turn out to be decent human beings. In my case, this too will be something he conquers.

I hope.

Colic: The dreaded ‘C’ word.

You’re now me and you’re Awake. It’s 2:43 am.

You’ve made several attempts to rock the baby to sleep. The Rock N Play purchased to auto rock goes unused because he hates it. A wailing cry that pierces the ears of my husband and disrupts the both of us from getting any sleep.

Just like all those commercials and classic movie scenes, being up all night with a baby sucks. Saying goodbye to a good night’s rest is the trade off for being a parent. The joke goes that you must say goodbye to regular sleep and hello to long evenings spent looking at your clock.

Last month, I delivered my second, Junior. I have been over the moon about his arrival for the past few days. Not just because he’s here, but because I am finally done with the god awful pain of pregnancy. There are some mothers who find pregnancy easy and breezy, and then there is me. If there was a way to skip that part of child-bearing, I would have hit fast forward a long time ago.

It’s been close to five weeks and Junior is already showing us just how different he is from my first son. His arrival has brought with him a whole batch of new challenges. Most of the challenges I’ve already got a good handle on. The diaper changing, the late night feeding, and even the cries are a little tolerable now.

There is only one thing I have been ill-prepared for. My son has Colic.

What the heck is Colic?

Colic is an unknown diagnosis given for babies that cry for two hours straight with no pause.

Some think its gas while others aren’t sure. All I know is that my son has the ugliest cry when he’s upset. Grunting, groaning, and often confusing me to think he’s a grown man. It’s referred to as a fussy stage but this sort of crying is nothing I have ever seen. It keeps my husband and I awake for late hours and me occupied all throughout the day with his constant wailing.

Babies wail. Yes, I know. Some wailing is fine, but this kind of wailing was just too much.

Last night was a bit of the final straw for me. After the third attempt to put him down to sleep only to have him cry, I was ready to break down and cry myself. Not only was it making it impossible for me to sleep, but my husband was also suffering the consequences of it. Neither one of us was getting any sleep. Worst of all, I feel terrible knowing our little junior is unhappy about something we can’t fix. Even after several diaper changes, feedings, and cuddling, nothing can stop the crying.

We needed to do something.

Our first son, Daniel, was an OK sleeper. I say OK because there was the downside of him wanting to sleep in bed with us. Unlike my second son, he kept his milk down, was never gassy, and crying was minimal. He wasn’t completely easy, but in comparison, I can definitely say he was an easy newborn. Still, his inability to sleep in his bed space meant trying alternatives to get him to do so. That’s when I learned about Gripe Water.

Colic Gripe Water

Gripe Water is a natural medicine used for gassy and colicky babies. It’s supposed to help put their tummies at ease by using safe, natural, vegan products. It’s supposed to help with hiccups and teething, too.

Has it worked? Well … yes? Within minutes of his first dose, our son quieted down and finally got some sleep.

for like two hours.

That is not to say it didn’t work, just that it was not a permanent fix. I can expect him to wake up every two to three hours to eat. So as long as he is getting some kind of sleep, that’s all that matters. My recommendation for Gripe Water is Mommy’s Bliss. Unlike another brand that was thick, black, and stained my son’s outfit, this one was easy to give. You can believe this brand will remain in my cabinets until he can get a full night’s sleep on his won.

So it worked but it wasn’t a fixer of everything. Point is that this newborn stage is going to be a rough ride regardless of what we do. All the medical interventions in the world will not save us for the next three months.

Well … except Zantac. He needed that. Reflux was not doing him any favors by throwing up his milk.

If either of us seems grumpy, forgive us. It’s possible that one of us spent the evening with no rest and running off coffee fumes.

Well .. at least I have is this adorable image of him sleeping. You would never know his crying sounds like James Brown in the bathroom.

Sleep on, little on. Sleep on.

Beginnings.

I did it. I got up and did the thing.

What thing?

I made this blog. This blog right here that you’re reading.

Why is that such a big deal?

Well…. my last website was back in 2007. It was my last attempt to try and keep my hobby of web design and blogging alive and it lasted all for one month. After that domain expired I was convinced it would be the last time I would ever blog.

…I guess I was wrong.

So how do I start this off? Introductions!

Hi. I’m Sabrina. 

See that picture up there? That’s me.

Yep. Me.

I’m really nothing special. Average face, big lips, large nose, and dark skin. I wear make-up when its convenient but I look like this almost everyday. That way if you ever come across me you’re not shocked by my appearance (“Oh wow, you look … different in person” said someone a long time ago when they met me for the first time).

So if you’re expecting a beautiful diva here then … no. I’m just plain ol’ me. Memorized? Good! Moving on.

  • I’m a thirty-something woman who is probably best described as weird. Really, that’s … probably a good summary of me.
  • I cut my relaxed hair and decided to rock natural since 2008. I decided it was time to appreciate my natural hair texture and have not looked back to the creamy crack since.
  • I’m married to a man who I met online and shared a common geek internet with. He traveled all the way to Michigan to start his life with me back in 2003 and we ended up getting married in  2004. He’s my best friend yada yada insert melodramatic love stuff here. No but really, I do love him.
  • I am a mother to three wonderful children although you will only see two in pictures. My first one was lost to my due to pre-eclampsia. I will always have three, but one of them is just with me in spirit.
  • I’m what they now call a blerd’. Laugh at it or oogle, but in today’s lingo it apparently means ‘black nerd’. I didn’t exactly coin it but it works for me, I guess. What that means is that I like nerdy things. From video games to Harry Potter and even my attempts at D&D, I’m a nerd. A proud one, too. Never too old. I like the name only for my blog.
  • I’m an artist. Well, I call myself one. I’ve been one since I was a little girl. It started with drawing and progressed into graphic design in high school then somehow transformed into that and Photography when I enrolled into college. So now I’m an artist and photographer.
  • I’m a millennial. A 90s kid that migrated into the millennium as an adult and continues to stumble through it. I grew up in a period with Daria, MTV Spring Break envy, Timbaland, Ruff Ryder’s, and all that jazz. I’m the demographic that you either love or hate.
  • I am a net junkie. Well, ex-net junkie. I have been a net browser since high school. The moment I discovered the world wide web back in 2000, I became addicted. I learned it all. I found Michael Jackson fans, I designed anime websites to show of my fandoms, I logged into Livejournal to whine about my life,  and I even discovered the joys of Yahoo!Chat. I was into it all back then. I’m not quite as crazed about it now as I was back then (getting time online is difficult with a toddler whipping about), but it’s been a pretty big part of my life and continues to be. I mean, this blog exists, so…

So that is me in a nutshell. Well, more of a gigantic nutshell but you get the drift.

I made this website and blog to focus on three subjects: Being a black woman, a mom, and a nerd. These three things matter most to me and will always be the highlight, purpose, and reason behind this blog. I may occasionally go off topic and ramble of other topics that matter to me but you can trust and believe I will never, ever stray from the purpose behind this blog’s existence. I’ll ramble about my natural hair journey, discuss living life as a black woman, rave or rant about mom things, and will occasional geek about a game or two. Anything that fits under those three subjects will be here. Perhaps that describes you? Perhaps it doesn’t! Maybe you can relate to one or two of the three subjects or none at all. What matters is that you’re here and you’re going to stay and read or just be on your merry way. Either way, I’m here to stay.

Okay, I’ll just be honest. I don’t know what this blog will become in the weeks or months to follow. I might change a few things or a lot. Heck, this layout might look different by morning! But one thing is for certain is I’m going to try and see it through longer than just a month like my last website.

Let’s begin.