One Epic Eclipse Trip

One Epic Eclipse Trip

Heat and lots of hippies. These were my first impressions of Ferne Clyffe park, the location we had elected to drive eight hours to totality.

I slept most of the way down, my mom, ever the matriarch, driving our SUV overflowing with people across Southern Michigan and through Indiana. After eight hours, we arrived at the fringes of the Bible Belt in Southern Illinois.

Bleary-eyed, I stepped into the sunlight. The park was filled with people. I doubt it had ever seen this much traffic. Everyone looked like they belonged on the fringes of society. Kind of music festival mixed with basement alien enthusiasts. We arrived around 9:30am so the sun was still bright in the sky, beating down on us.

There was a bit of debate over where to make camp. We had originally elected on a place with a perfect view, but the full force of the August sunshine drove us to move to a shadier location. We spread out, blankets on the ground, lawn chairs up, and cooler within easy reach, the lake in front of us. My sixteen year old brother ran off to survey people on where they had come from (the whole world, basically) while the rest of us sat dozing in the heat.

Finally, after a very harrowing journey to the public outhouses, a friend of ours exclaimed that the eclipse had begun. I grabbed my glasses and ran to see, sticking them over my eyes and staring at the sun. The top right corner had the smallest mark on it. Over the next hour, we lounged, read, and chatted, glancing up as the sun slowly disappeared.

Soon, the shadows cast by the leaves were crescents. We shivered collectively. There was no wondering why the ancients felt unnerved by the solar eclipses. It was downright spooky. The light looked like it does before a large thunderstorm, but slightly different. It felt weak, almost like our source of life on this planet was not as strong as we assumed it was.

When all that was left in our glasses was a thin sliver of red light, we gathered together to watch as even that disappeared. Our sun winked out and a cheer went up from the hundreds of people surrounding the lake, echoing through the trees. I took my glasses off, joining the noise.

Behind me was the whole world, cheering in unison. In front of me — the most spectacular and surreal sight I have ever seen. Pictures do not do the eclipse justice. The moon and sun, bound together, appeared to be hovering just a few hundred feet above. Crickets sang around us, the clouds were lit with a weird, dim light. Jupiter and Saturn twinkled in the sky. An owl hooted.

And then a shaft of light hit us. We swiftly put our glasses on as a spotlight fell on the breathless crowd. We clapped and whooped as the sun returned.

With startling swiftness, it was over. People quickly gathered up their belongings and left, the leaves still making tiny crescents on our skin. A small portion stayed behind to explore the park, but that was it. The 2017 solar eclipse was over.

 

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Three Flights, Two Layovers

The wire of the bench pressed into me as I shifted to move my arm draped over my backpack. A British (or Australian, or South African) couple chatted by me. For a second I realized how bummish I looked, and then decided I didn’t care.

I was on the first layover of a trip that even seasoned hostel-goers called crazy. After I finished it and slept for thirteen hours straight, I realized that a 36-hour trek from England to Kosovo involving two trains, three planes, a bus a shuttle, and a taxi may not have been the smartest idea. Even if it made the best story.

After a night of train rides, I found myself watching the sunrise and chatting with a kind woman in a wifi stop outside Manchester Airport. Now, after landing in Dalaman, Turkey, I was enduring my sixteen-hour layover and trying to snatch some sleep on a bench.

Unfortunately, because of my budget flight, I had to uncheck and re-check my 45 lb backpack. This involved standing in line for hours to discover I needed a Turkish visa to get my backpack at luggage pickup. Once out, I filled up my time waiting in the airport lobby, eating Snickers and chips per my gluten free needs and watching Netflix between one hour naps. I moved around a lot, to diminish suspicion because I was pretty sure there was a law against a lone girl spending the night in an airport lobby.

By the time my second flight landed, I had been up for roughly 24 hours. The Russian man next to me was clued in when I fell asleep while we were landing so suddenly my phone dropped out of my hand. As we got off he instructed me rather sternly to get some rest and we parted in the Istanbul airport. Luckily this time I didn’t have to recheck my luggage.

The problem with Istanbul’s airport is that it’s so posh they charge for wifi. Dalaman and its relatively tiny lobby gave me enough bandwidth to bury myself in Netflix for hours on end. In Istanbul, I had to buy a twelve dollar salad just for one hour of service so I could call my boyfriend in America and he could assure me I wasn’t going insane from lack of sleep (I still thank him for that 5am slightly delirious phone call).

Exhausted, I finally boarded my third flight. This one was almost empty, and I was able to find a row to curl up in and nap. Airplane sleep, as any traveler knows, is very different from normal sleep. I really didn’t feel rested when we landed, but my mood quickly lifted as the smiling greeters handed me promotions for overseas phone providers.

Balkan people are among the most welcoming in the world. Hospitality is a big deal and it immediately rushed upon me as I stepped into the baggage claim. Macedonia seemed to reach out and hug me saying, “Welcome! Welcome!”, relieving my tired bones.

This trend continued as I shouldered my backpack, buckled it around my waist and stepped into the summer heat. I opened my phone to find free wifi – thank God – and quickly sent some messages to my family and fella to let them know I was alive and well.

After a bit of searching, I realized I missed the first shuttle to the bus station and settled myself to wait for the next one. Once at the bus station, I shoved American dollars at the teller in exchange for a ticket. I didn’t have any local money as my end destination used euros but luckily he accepted dollars. I boarded the bus to be greeted once again by Balkan hospitality.

While munching down my last British dessert pie and bit of chocolate (largely what I lived on during this adventure) I chatted with a kind man across the aisle about his son. He learned where I needed to go, and was able to negotiate with a taxi driver for me in Albanian after we arrived in Pristina to send me to my hostel. I originally planned on walking but at this time had been up for 36 hours, so was incredibly grateful for the help. He waved me on my way (we later connected via Facebook where I still see pictures of his adorable son) and I bumped down the road toward the city of Pristina.

It briefly crossed my mind as the taxi driver worked his way through the colorful Kosovan streets that this may not have been the safest plan, but I reasoned that the windows were open and I had my pepper spray if all else failed. I was too tired to think of more. The driver had never heard of my hostel, but we found a British guest on the street who pointed us in the right direction, just a block down the road. I got out, thanked my driver, and shouldered my backpack for the last time in six weeks.

The wiggly toilet and wiggly bunk in the volunteer quarters seemed like heaven after sleeping on benches and plane seats. After gobbling some food made by a fellow volunteer I crashed in bed, out like a light. I had finally arrived to the Buffalo Backpackers hostel in Pristina, Kosovo, where I would spend my next six weeks.

I Love Lansing Video Film Shoot

Some would say a giant lugnut is not noteworthy. Indeed, my DP dubbed it “incredibly underwhelming”, but it is one of Lansing’s claims to fame.

Thus is my challenge. If you google ‘World’s Biggest Lugnut’ Lansing Michigan will pop into your browser, along with a blog post from 2007 and pictures of this national marvel presiding over the local haunt The Nuthouse.

We have far more to offer culturally than a giant piece of hardware. Lansing has a wonderful underground artistic culture, unique entertainment options, and incredible people. Last Friday my team and I documented these on our first shoot for the I Love Lansing video.

The three of us strolled through REOtown and Old Town, braving the oddly cold August rain. My fiancé (and DP) drove me a hundred times up E Michigan Ave to get a shot of the Capital building at dusk. All of us shivered as drizzle hit us while standing on a Downtown street with our DSLRs.

We spread out at the Blues Fest to capture the essence of the event. We hung out in local coffeeshop, The Blue Owl, drinking specialty coffees and filming their unique aesthetic. We attended Speakeasy Stomp’s Friday dance night to catch locals rocking to oldies under a spangle of twinkle lights.

The video is not finished yet. In a week and a half, we will be shooting at The Loft, a local concert venue, Potter Park Zoo, Stober’s: The Oldest Bar in Lansing, and other hideaways that make Lansing great.

Lansing residents, I would love comments on visually engaging sites to put in the video. Everyone else, what would you like to see in a video about your town or city? How could I make it memorable?

 

I Love Lansing Film Project

I live in the most perfect place.

This is a simple fact. I grew up on a farm, but the city of Lansing was close which gave me the perfect combination of country and city life. Lansing holds a special place in my heart. It is the capital of my beloved Michigan, but is much more.

The city is diverse and beautiful, from crazy artsy REO Town to pristine and wealthy Okemos to college town East Lansing.

To honor my fair city, I have collected a small team to help me document its quirkiest and best spots in a travel-style video. The idea is to celebrate Lansing and bring business to its streets.

I am in pre-production mode, and will be posting updates as the project progresses. The final video will be release online in mid to late August.

Keep updated on the project on my social media accounts @directorista, or check in with the blog 🙂

Happy Monday!

Operation: Social Media

Hello world of the internet,

Sadly, it has been a while since posting. I have excuses aplenty, mostly relating to my recent graduation (summa cum laude, not that I’m one to brag 😉 ). I am back at the blog, though.

I’m writing today on my new efforts towards social media. Though a millennial, my social media proficiency is subpar. The demands of a thriving social media empire exhausts me.

Now that I have graduated however, I am putting the majority of my time into my film career and have constructed a new schedule for posting:

Instagram: 1/day

Facebook: 1/day

Pinterest: 3/day

Twitter: 1/day

Blog: 1/week

All with the exception of Sundays, my (mostly) tech fast day. This is a step up from my daily intsa and otherwise spotty professional pages.

I’m organizing content on air table. I hope some day to afford hootsuite or a similar program, but right now I am rocking the starving artist life.

This is actually a pretty big undertaking for me so whoopee.

Independent artists, what is your experience with social media posting and how do you keep on top of it?

Sassy Women Shooting

I forgot how much I love directing! I have not directed a major production since fall of 2015 (yay Death at the Opera!). This weekend, however, I had the privilege of working with a talented crew of people creating beautiful art.

Sassy Women is about Callie, a wild young thing with a tongue as sharp as barbed wire who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and stumbles through life with her head held high. Her landlord and housemate, Ellen, sees her potential and tries to invest in Callie, illiciting contempt. When a charming cowboy comes into the picture, Callie’s wayward path may lead her into despair.

I am very excited about this production. My actors and actresses are all extraordinarily talented. I am going to start cutting it tomorrow and can’t wait.

Here are some pictures from the shoot:

 

 

Film Noir Shoot

My latest project, which I’m very excited about is a short video I am completing for one of my last film classes. My original plan was to film a short in a car, but underestimated the difficulty of doing this without a steady cam. Due to time constraints, I threw together a quick film noir using my sister and fiance as talent. It was so much fun to experiment with this film style.

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