Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

Two days from Christmas and the sky is as blue as it can get and the ground is as dry as ever. I don't think we'll have a white Christmas here, but no matter what, Christmas will be here soon. Right now there's only a crock pot under the Christmas tree and its cooking a pork shoulder. 

I had to plug it into the transformer so it can get full power and cook it properly; the Japanese outlets don't give enough watts to get the job done. But there aren't any presents sitting wrapped under the tree and I'm not even sure there will be. I have one sweater to give to G-man but no wrapping paper. To be truthful, he's already seen it, so I debate even wrapping it. Should I bother?

Yesterday, I went to what was said to be the #1 thing to do in Yokosuka per trip advisor, and that was the Yokosuka Art Museum. I went and I thought to myself, how in the world is this the #1 thing to do? Its an art gallery, so I knew that going in, but I think I expected so much more...not creepy dolls that flip over when you crank the handle. Or paintings that all look the same. Or an entire wall covered in bunny and cat faces made out of wire? (they really love their cats here).

The only fun thing about the place was a Japanese couple calling me over to look at the creepy doll and then laugh with me when it flipped over. Then calling me over again to show me something else, and then again to show me something else.

I hate not speaking their language, but love when they actually acknowledge I'm there. 

I can't say I would recommend this museum to the average person but maybe an art enthusiast who actually speaks Japanese so they can read all the captions. I would actually recommend what I think is my favorite place to eat lunch, and that's Kawara Cafe. No matter how much I walk around to find a different place to eat, I always come back to Kawara. One for their free wifi (that helps), but also for their friendly staff and yummy food.

And if you notice, they play old Mickey Mouse cartoons on the big screen, which is a fun silly little extra. 

Japan ca

If I don't get the chance, I wish everyone a wonderfully Merry Christmas. 

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hair, views, and odd translations

The past week I've had the chance to do a few things here and there. I always feel guilty admitting that more often than not, I am inside the apartment doing a whole lot of nothing. I don't go out and explore and even though its probably seen as a little lame, I don't because I hate spending money.

Not just the money, the time. It takes a lot of time to go somewhere and by the time I get there, my shoulders are killing me from lugging my heavy bag with my camera and before I know it, I have to come back to start dinner before G-man gets home from work.

I told you it was lame.

I went to my hair stylist three times last week (we're developing a nice friendship) and she's an hour away and my old self was pooped out from that. But let me tell you, she did a fabulous job. I wanted to go lighter, for the first time in 10 years, and she delivered like no one I think would have. It took four hours, but it was worth it. 

So you can get a full grasp of what my hair (and GREYS) looked like before, this will show you. Plus the amount of foil it took to cover my entire head. She leaves them flat so its two foils to one (small) section of hair. I can't even describe how heavy all that foil was.

G-man and I set up and decorated the tree over the weekend as well. With one strand of cicle lights and one strand of normal white lights, we got very creative and hung them up around the living room. Though we certainly won't be winning any awards for best decorated, we think its charming in a "wow, that's really bad" sort of way.

Feel free to notice the "tree skirt" is in fact a pillow sham and the transformer on the ground that keeps all the American electronics running smoothly. Keeping it classy over here.

This is where I wait for my trains whenever I want to go anywhere. This one passing is headed to Kanazawa-Hakkei where I would get off to get onto the limited express to Yokohama. As it was that day, I was waiting to go to Yokosuka in the other direction.

G-man and I went to Landmark Towers in Yokohama to see the city from their highest floor. They have the fastest elevator in Japan going 28mph. Ears were popping and the views were beautiful.

Afterward, we were looking for a place to eat, and would you believe we passed this place up?

I know, I'm sure you can't imagine why. 

That nearly rounds out all the happenings with me this past week.  Well, except the fact that while I'm in blogger, everything is in Japanese. Whenever I'm writing out a post, the page is constantly translating back and forth from English to Japanese, and because of this, while I'm typing, its nothing for it to completely delete an entire sentence mid sentence. I'm constantly retyping my sentences. Its odd and funny, and just another little quirk with being in Japan.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

I hear a buzz

Do you ever get a little bee under your bonnet where you start doing something that maybe you've put off for a long time? That's me today. I woke up very early and lounged around doing just about nothing all morning long (perks of working from home and being on winter break for school), and figured I probably should be mildly productive. 

Only thing was, I didn't really want to be. Its cold and rainy outside, and anything I want to do requires walking about 10 minutes to the train station and then riding the train to xyz location and walking some more. I'm not Japanese, I prefer driving everywhere, not walking. Call me lazy, or just American, either way, give me a car.

After trying my hand (and currently failing) at cooking fresh black beans in the crockpot (what was supposed to be 3.5 hours on high is going on well over 4 with no "cooked" stage in sight), I figured I'd head into town for lunch and some toilet paper (two very high priorities). But that requires a shower and hair and makeup, not to mention walking in the rain. Not high on my list of "wants" today. But after months of being in and out of this apartment and staring out at the slider windows in the living room, I couldn't take saying to myself, "I should really clean those" one more time and before I knew it, I had jumped up and started cleaning them. 

Next thing I knew, I had soapy water and a rag and was cleaning the outsides of them, because that's where all the dirt was. Then I did the outside of every window. Bedroom, kitchen, and all but one living room window (couldn 't reach it). I'm standing on all the balconies in my pajamas (yes it was noon and I was still in my jammies), barefoot, in the cold and rain (there was an overhang protecting me, trust me, I'm not that dedicated) scrubbing and squeegeeing the windows. 

They look great...okay, there's some streaks, but a person can actually see through them without squinting past the spots of dirt. After coming in and finding dirty footprints on the wood floors (apparently my freezing feet were freezing because I was standing in the drippings of the window cleaner), I started scrubbing the floors, then found myself in the bathroom wiping down the baseboards and edges of the floors and where did this come from?? 

My subconscious apparently couldn't take the spots and powder covered baseboards any longer and it took over before I could say, "hey, weren't you needing toilet paper?"

So now I rest under a blanket on the couch (again) watching the rain fall through the now impressively clean windows, with a full belly because hard work equals eating leftovers immediately and using the excuse of "floors needing to dry" for not showering. ..yet. 

I think its viable.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Happenings in Japan

I'm back in Japan! I arrived late Sunday night and have been getting on the "Japan" schedule the past couple days (its Tuesday your Monday). Monday I woke up before 4am. That was early to say the least! I hit some grocery stores nearby since G-man gave me full reign with empty cabinets and fridge and by 7pm I had fallen asleep on the couch. Party animal over here!

One thing with here is they don't have all the goods I need at one store. Not only that, I'm walking and taking the train for everything and carrying loads and loads of groceries is not ideal, so this morning I went right back out to yet another grocery store further away. I heard good things about this place, and I had to take a cab from the train station to get there, and I wasn't disappointed in the least.

I realize I'm talking about grocery shopping...boring right? Well, afterward I had every intention of getting a cab all the way back to the apartment, ignoring the train and having the luxury of being taken straight to the door, but there weren't any cabs around. That meant walking toward what I hoped was the train station. I figured if I went in the general direction of where I thought it was, I would be alright. Without any directions or gps, I huffed it and huffed it and huffed it some more until I couldn't take it any longer and asked where the station was.

Turns out I was near by one stop, only it was nowhere near where I wanted to go. I actually was going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to. This sounds about right for me. I'm horrible with navigating in foreign lands, but I hopped on the train and got myself back safely, if not a little sweaty! 

Any way, things are good here. The weather is beautiful, the place is familiar, and I'm getting to rest and relax without having to think or do any school. My semester officially finished the day before I flew out here and its a great relief knowing I don't have to do anything while in Japan if I don't want to!

Here's a few photos of the past couple days.
I went  to a restaurant I like to go to when I'm here, and pointed to what I thought was what I normally get but I got this instead. A blob of mayo is there for sauce..? Everything was good except the mayo. I can't figure why that was there.

While I was at the store today, I looked out and noticed I was right along the ocean. I had no idea, so I went out to the harbor to enjoy the view.

I honestly do not know who would want to eat an overeasy egg that's been sitting on a table for no one can say how long, but apparently someone will.

"Corn Potage" ... I'm guessing its corn chowder? Maybe? Or cream of corn perhaps?

I'm hoping to talk with G-man in the hopes of decorating the apartment for Christmas! One thing with Japan is they don't celebrate but they still decorate and their decorations are so so cheap! A 5ft fake tree for only $7??? I can't beat that! And a small 8in. wreath for $2. I can't wait to load up! 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

A little bit of a lately

Life has been quite crazy lately. You know when you're used to having your schedule a certain way, and then it isn't that way anymore and it takes time to adjust to the new? That's me.

I've started a new business, and it has kept me incredibly busy. I'll go into what it is later, when things settle and I have more time to share, but since diving in, its been a little crazy for me. I've been so accustomed to doing school and only school, and not "work" (not that this is work by any means), that having that extra 'thing' added to my day has me wondering how to juggle it all.

I went out of town for a business trip...and a dentist appointment (I like to kill two birds), and I couldn't do school for those two days, I was on the go the entire time. Thank goodness I was caught up but it showed me that I need to find a balance and need to find it fast. And also, I can't be there for everyone at that very moment. That alone is going to run me into the ground, as was the evidence of texting three people at once while pumping gas and feeling frantic.

The past couple of weeks have been so good though! I invited my cute little niece for an "Auntie sleepover". She's almost four and she was so excited having her first ever sleepover, just her, with me. She was an angel the entire time. Even fell asleep within 10 minutes of saying goodnight, which I was really nervous about given she had been bouncing off the walls right before. I was warned she was a 'kicker' but once again, the angel in her came out because she didn't kick once!

We made breakfast together the next morning, played in the backyard, and then went for a Subway before I gave her back to my sister. It was the type of experience where it had me think "I want that." Isn't that what getting through tough parenting times is all about? Those great days - great moments - that wipe away any horrific ones from the day or week before?

I know I don't know, but I'm imagining so to some degree. And remember, I lived with a two year old for three months. I have an idea what its like on a daily basis.

In other "lately" news, I only have two weeks left of school and that's incredibly exciting; not to mention the five week break that follows before Spring classes start. Speaking of, one of those classes will be on the Beatles...yes the music group. My hard earned money is going toward this class. I won't complain (minus the money aspect) since I'll be taking Anatomy 202 right along with it, and will need that 'super easy, no thought to it' class to make it through.

I'll also say another reason why I haven't been around here so much is because I don't have photoshop elements anymore, since I upgraded to a Mac. Watermarking my photos is a huge chore with pulling them through picmonkey online, that I don't do it.

Enough of that rambling. I hope your leaves are changing as mine are. Some of the trees here are absolutely gorgeous!

This was from the Summer in Las Vegas, so obviously, no turning leaves, but still pretty.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

When stuff becomes stuff

When I packed up my little apartment of four years to put into storage, I made sure to sort through as much as possible and determine what I wanted to sell and get rid of. Everything was going into storage, so I was determined to keep the essentials and necessary furniture.

Living on my own for 12 years, I had accumulated a lot of things but when it was all done, I was able to fit just about everything into a 10x10 storage unit. Some things fit into my room at my parents, but when you see your whole apartment in a storage unit, it puts a lot into perspective.

Fast forward a year and a lot of traveling later, and I have found that I can live with the absolute bare minimum. All the "things" I needed in my apartment, I don't even think about. I don't even know what they are anymore.

This didn't hit me fully until I went to Las Vegas for three months and literally lived with just 3 pair of shorts, a handful of tops, and a couple pair of shoes..with pj's and the necessaries of course, but that's it. I rotated between the same outfits for three whole months, and I honestly didn't care. No one cared. No one saw me and questioned if they'd seen me wear that top before or wonder about it. I didn't have to spend longer than 60 seconds choosing my outfit for the day, it was so nice and easy. Laundry was one tiny load a week.

Coming back to CA, I have all my clothes but the idea that I can live with a lot less is still holding on tight. The past couple months, I've been slowly working on selling all my furniture in storage. I'm down to just two dressers and I'll have it all gone. I'm thinking of going through all of my storage bins and boxes that I don't even know what's in them, and getting rid of things. Even hopefully getting a smaller storage unit. This stuff is going to sit there for months, maybe even years untouched and its becoming a waste. There's memorabilia and keep sakes that I'm obviously holding onto, but all the superfluous stuff, is just that, superfluous and I'm ready to see it go.

I think I'm ready to start fresh and with less. To finally let go of all those things I held onto thinking I'll use them again or even use them for the first time.

Do you ever have these feelings? Where you need to get rid of a bunch of stuff and clean house? Normally twice a year, I'll sort through my closet and give away clothes I haven't touched in a year's time, but I've never had the desire to purge all things! Until now.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unwanted opinions

I've been victim to the dreaded unwanted opinion; only in reverse. I've been the unwanted opinion giver...not receiver. Isn't it the worst when you discover that its YOU sharing your "thoughts" and "suggestions" when no one ever asked? But you feel you need to give it?

Since coming into the light of recognition, I've made such an effort to A) notice when I'm doing it. and B) stop myself before doing it. A is easy, B takes some effort.

A few months ago, my friend and I were texting and out of the blue I offered her some "constructive criticism" regarding something she had done. She didn't ask, but I felt I could "help" her by offering up my critique. Needless to say, she didn't respond and days had gone by in silence. Each day that passed I would read and re-read my text, and started to feel that maybe my advice wasn't going over well. By day three, I texted an apology, which opened the door to discuss the situation. Come to find out, I had done the exact same thing to her months earlier, and well, she was tired of it.

Understandably so.

Bad thing was, I had no idea I had done it to her before! Shows how much I give my opinion so freely!

Since then I've worked really hard to zip my lips, and not share unless asked (still a work in progress, let me tell ya). But then another thing was brought to my attention by another friend. I'm a "finisher". When someone's talking, I jump in (jump sounds better than "cut off") and finish their sentence because I already know what they're going to say (I'm just smart like that)... but then I don't, and they'll respond with "no...I was going to say this, this, and that".  Drats! Why are these people still friends with me!? I know I can be a pill.

Needless to say, since learning that I not only give unsolicited advice, but also cut people off and finish what they're going to say, I've made enormous efforts to sit and listen. Sit there, mouth closed with no intent to speak-eyes on them-listen. You know what? I've actually been able to tell a difference. They might not, but its made me become more present to that person in that moment, where I'm not thinking of my response or interjection, but just listening and taking in what they're saying. Again, this is still a {huge} work in progress, but its progress!

And I have to say, I'm so thankful I have friends who are willing to come forward to share these failings of mine. Point them out in the gentle way they do. Its friends like these I want to keep around because they hold me accountable, as I need it..and I need it!

Major life lessons being learned over here, my friends.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

In all that time

Can I pretend I haven't been missing for so long? Or that I unintentionally had my last post be on my birthday? I can't tell you how bad I felt when I would get birthday wishes days and days after. I promise I didn't do it on purpose.

For the past 3 months I've been staying in Las Vegas with my friend, killing myself over my college classes. It was hands down the hardest set of classes I've had. I didn't have time for anything other than my hardest class - Anatomy and Physiology. All I can say is I'm glad its over and I have a life again. My new classes have started up this past week, and I'm slowly getting into that groove though its taking a bit of effort, if I'm completely honest.

I had a great time in Vegas. I didn't do the typical Vegas things; I simply stayed with my friend, visited other friends and got to play volleyball. And anyone who knows me knows I love competitive volleyball. It was great and intense and it proved that I have aged because whoa, was I incredibly sore and achy before the night was even over. The next day was only worse, but I would endure all that pain again if it meant I could play more.

Some other fun and major things that have happened in the past 3 months:

- I got a Macbook. I love it. Just love it! I thought I'd have the hardest time converting to a Mac, but its been the easiest thing ever!

- I went to The Neon Museum in Vegas and highly recommend night. It was so great, and our tour guide was so so good. She went past the one hour tour, and if you read anyone's reviews you'll see they don't like to go over the one hour.

- I did a family photo shoot. Completely wasn't intending it, but my friend asked me and I agreed and it turned out to be the most enjoyable family shoot I've done. Everything just flowed and we all had a great time. I hope to show the photos soon.

- I went to the California coast for my uncle's wedding and it was just beautiful there. The weather was perfect and the time with my family was the greatest.

- I went and saw my brother and his family in Utah. I wish I could have seen them more while in Vegas, but my schedule proved too demanding.

- I lived with a 2 year old and 6 year old for the whole 3 months. I admit, I was nervous about that. A single person living with a toddler is always a questionable turnout but I survived and my friend and I had a fantastic time together. I actually really miss her company and humor.

- I worked a whole day at a golf course where they treated the woman like prostitutes and trash, and by the next morning said I couldn't return.

- I attended my 15 year class reunion. The first reunion I've attended! Only 15 of us showed...out of the 50 in our class. Apparently a lot of my classmates still live in the same town and didn't feel like going since they already "see" everyone. It was still nice seeing everyone and catching up.

My class schedule this time around is a lot less demanding, so I'd like to think I'll have more time to share more and catch up with everyone. I hope you all had a nice weekend...and past three months!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Upholding tradition

For as long as I can remember I’ve kept a tradition going strong on my birthday. I stay up (or set my alarm) for 3:02am. Why that time? Because that’s when I was born.

I had to ask my mom how it all started since the earliest memory I have of this is around 8 or 9, and she told me when I was either 6 or 7, I declared that I wanted to stay up until 3:02am so I could celebrate the minute I was born. Magically, my mom agreed. Either I was a very persuasive child or she just loved me too darn much to say no, but either way, I got my wish, and up I stayed…by myself…while everyone else slept.

From that day on I made it my personal tradition. Through the years, I’ve either stayed up by watching loads of movies and book reading, or would set my alarm for 3:02am so I could wake up to wish myself a happy birthday. Anyone very close to me knows this, and even supports it…I think mainly because THEY don’t have to stay up with me; but its been fun for me to welcome in a new age by myself each time.

So, 33 is here. 33. A number that means…kinda little to me. I don’t feel that age and I don’t (think) I look it but I am and with every wisp of gray I have, I welcome it.

I kiss 32 goodbye.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heikenji Temple

Remember that time I went to Japan? Sometimes it feels like it was so long ago. Ok, its really pretty much “all-the-time”. Its only been a couple months but I tend to ignore the short time frame since I’m avoiding watching the calendar these days.

I want to share my photos. I want to tell the stories but when it comes down to it I can’t find the heart. So with a lot of effort, I’m forcing the heart…which this just reminded me I have a photo book online I need to mess with before they deactivate it since I haven’t touched it in…well, five weeks. ok, messed with it so it’s good for another five weeks.

The more I’m in (or was in) Japan, the more I became more comfortable exploring on my own. G-man was always working, so that left me the entire day to do anything and everything, and even for this hermit, sitting in the apt. gets old after awhile. Only problem was I never knew where I wanted to go. Sometimes locations were over an hour’s worth of multiple train rides and if I didn’t leave before 11, I felt it was a huge waste of time, so I’d always stick with semi-close places. Another factor I kept letting effect me, was the cost of those hour long train rides. They would deplete my train pass’s balance in a heartbeat and that was always so hard to swallow.

One day, I decided to see Kawasaki, and more specifically, the Heikenji Temple. I found this fabulous website called and she fills you in on everything you need to know, so I felt I was well prepared going in. It was easy to access, and I got to walk around the grounds and poke my head into a few places. I felt a little out of sorts since clearly something was going on that day, but I didn’t know what and kept out of everyone’s way as best I could.

Each person would touch every gravestone as they passed.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sitting in Vegas

I’ve been in Las Vegas for the past six days and if there’s one thing I’ve not done is gone to the strip. I can honestly say I probably won’t go to the strip in all the time I’ll be here and it’ll be for awhile. Call it a product of being born and raised  here; I simply have no need or desire to go there.

My friend who’s husband deployed recently asked me if I wouldn’t mind staying with her and her two kids for awhile, and after much thought, agreed. But first I agreed to a two week trial, because let’s be honest, two weeks with me is no walk in the park. I’m high maintenance and enjoy my quiet and alone time (which I warned her), and well, she has two kids, so we laughingly agreed to the trial, and I dove right in.

I’m seeing what its like with two kids. And I’m seeing what its like to walk out the door to take a drive while she stays back with her two kids. …kidding! Things have been fine here, and we’re getting along nicely. (she reads my blog so she’ll get the joke).

For me to get to Las Vegas, its an eight hour drive through the desert and if ever there was a worse drive, this is it. Though the drive from New Mexico to Texas ranks really high on the horribly miserable scale. There’s a certain point in the drive that I love though. Its held a lot of memories for me, and no matter what, I’ll always keep an eye out for it on the I-15 going to Los Angeles. I don’t know what its called, how it got there, or if there’s anyone else (other than my family) who sees it, but there’s a “cat” on the side of a mountain, I criss-cross promise.
Do you see it? The ears up top, then you’re looking at the back, and the tail swooping to the left side…
As a kid going to summer camp it would always be my marker to signify us almost there. This massive outline of a cat on an otherwise normal looking mountain just sitting there, never touched after over twenty years of seeing it. I’m always amazed it’s still there.

When I decided I’d stop to get a photo, I took the exit and planned on stopping right on the edge of the road. Only problem with that was this exit is in the middle of nowhere, and the edge of the road happened to (randomly) have another car coming to stop to get out to stretch. Honestly, what are the odds of another car getting off of this lonely exit?

Since I didn’t want to be a creeper and stop along side their car, I did the only other thing that came to me: drive right into the desert. Which I thought was a decent idea since the dirt was compact…until I began driving on it and learned it was in fact sand, and it was soft sand at that. Soon I was doing everything possible to not get my car stuck in the middle of nowhere on a 106 degree day. Of course, my thought process was to continue driving deeper and deeper into the desert because I was already “in it”, so I did, knowing there was no place for me to turn my car around, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

I finally stopped and enjoyed the hot scenery. Nothing was around me; just sand, weeds, and more sand. After driving for over 5 hours, I had the urge to run, and ran to a little slope for a better vantage point. Thinking now, I don’t necessarily recommend running in the middle of a desert with no water on a 106 degree day, (just in case you have the urge yourself), but I did it and loved having my legs move again.
When I got ready to face the fact of getting my car out of the middle of nowhere, I saw the other car was gone, and decided the best and only option for me was to put my car in reverse and keep my tires as straight as possible as I backtracked my way to the freeway; and thank the good Lord it worked.

It was a nice adventure that I was glad to have break up my long trip. Now I happily say I have a keepsake (and a story) of the cat on the side of the mountain.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

This is what happens when..

On Friday, my parents and I drove to a little old mining town called Columbia. Its near Sonora and it was cute and quaint and all those feelings you feel when you walk around a small town. It was hot beyond hot and we ducked into the stores as much as we could to escape it.

After walking around, watching people sift for gold, listening to the wonderful band, and watch little kids climb up greased poles for money, we headed back home to wait out the firework show later that night.
My sister was having a little gathering on their church lawn since it was a good view of the city’s fireworks, so we arrived and I set up my camera. We all chatted and hung out as we waited for the show to begin, and I was able to somehow convince my sister to make me a s’more as I sat there doing nothing. She’s a good sister, she is. I on the other hand…

As the show began, I took photos and couldn’t help but think how paltry the fireworks were. Nothing like what I’ve seen other cities do, and nothing like what a “County’s fireworks” display should be. This was the first time I had my camera set on a tripod with a remote, following online tutorials, so I was excited to see how they’d turn out, even if the show wasn’t spectacular. Turns out I left my shutter open for far too long, and it left many (all) of my shots streaky. And when the finale hit, well, you’ll see.
The finale: Here is a great example of what happens when the city shoots all of the fireworks off in the exact same spot, and you leave your shutter open for 6 seconds too long. A big bright white mess.
And this is how the majority of them turned out…
I’m pretty sure this is when my niece walked into my tripod.
So unless you want this look, I advise you follow the professionals who say to keep your shutter open from 2-6 seconds. Not the 8-13 seconds that I did.

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