Archives for posts with tag: personal experiences

(new here? read this first.)

Hi, it’s Casey, and never in my life have I been afraid to perform in front of a crowd.

I started in drama and theater when I was in fifth grade, our group performed for my elementary school. I was cast as Captain Hook in Peter Pan. A singing Captain Hook. I remember an especially rude sixth grade boy coming up to me in the library and saying “you didn’t actually pay money to do that crap did you?” Well the truth was my mom paid and I would have her pay again, because I liked doing it and I didn’t see his rear end up there doing anything theatrical.

My love of drama and performing continued through Jr. High and High School. I played Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird I performed in a very watered down performance of McCavity from “Cats” (which is where I met my first real boyfriend) and in high school I ended up in Arsenic and Old Lace and Much Ado About Nothing. I played a role originally written for a man in both plays. (I was Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare holds my heart, it’s one thing to learn Shakespeare with the knowledge of iambic pentameter, it’s entirely different thing to memorize a the lines of a chronically drunk Shakespearean character.)

A partner and I even made it to the Utah State Drama Competition my Junior year with a scene from Baby with the Bathwater, the only problem was that by then I really was a bit of a drunken Shakespearean character in real life and instead of heading South to where the competition was being held, we drove North…to Idaho. Sure we missed the competition and our chance at fame, but we had some excellent pancakes in Lava Hot Springs.

I miss performing, I have taken to karaoke since it’s really the only chance I have to use all those skills I spent so much time learning in my younger years. I have on my life list to perform on stage again. And it will happen. And you’re all invited.

what would you say?

I am Daniel Incandela.

Talk about a frightening image. This conjures up a lot of anxiety. Public speaking.

Here’s my take on public speaking. I hate it, but I rarely turn down an opportunity. It’s painful, stressful and scary – but I’ve always managed to make it.

Those of you that know me would probably say I’m quiet. That’s mostly true. I like efficient communication. To-the-point. Blunt, even.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say.

I’m also okay with silence. It drives people nuts so I try to be aware of that. I also like awkward, so there are some opposing issues here. I’m far from perfect.

And standing in front of others at a microphone is a challenge.

About a year ago I delivered a keynote presentation on Museums and Technology in Wellington, New Zealand. I was honored to be asked but scared to death. I had done lots of other conference presentations but never as ‘the’ presenter. I couldn’t turn down a trip to Kiwi land, but…

I knew this might be my only opportunity to deliver a keynote so I wanted to go big – either with a major meltdown or a major victory. Honestly, as i walked to the podium i didn’t know which it would be. That was a scary walk.

I’m most happy during major challenges. I enjoy testing myself, growing, learning and achieving.

I researched the sh*t out of this presentation. I researched what other museums were doing. I researched NewZealand. I researched popular culture. I researched presentations. I wanted go big.

I wrote in Indianapolis. I took my son on walks and practiced my presentation. I wrote on the long flight. I wrote on the beach. I practiced in my hotel rooms. I arranged and rearranged.  I wrote and rewrote. I PowerPointed (do I hear gasps?) – but I hate PowerPoint, so they were more like graphic elements. I didn’t fly 7000 miles to read stats, bullets or quotes. They would have to hear me talk.

And talk I did. Probably for 65-70 minutes. It felt like 5. It was a leap of faith.

My presentation in Wellington ranks as one of my proudest moments. On the topic of museums and technology, I managed to work in a personal video introduction from Kiwi IndyCar driver Scott Dixon, several Flight of the Conchords references, a nude body paint video and a lot of quiet sense of humor. Everything just clicked.

As I walked to the podium I told myself this was it – a moment to rise, an opportunity to be proud, an experience to remember. I left to the applause of 300+, a polite grin and memories that will last forever.

Here’s to more microphones in life.

(new here? read this first.)

Aye, I’m Daniel.

These are Scottish steps. Dumbarton one’s. Treacherous. Slippery. Uneven. Beautiful. Harry Potter-esque. I made it up and down without falling.

I love steps. I have apathy for elevators. Escalators kind of scare me. Especially if I’m wearing flip flops. I try to avoid ladders (corporate one’s are different). But I’m all for going up.

I’ve climbed lots of steps, just like you. And I’m talking physically, spiritually, metaphorically and other big words. What is next?

I’ve climbed steps to on my way to big meetings. Onto to a stage to give presentations. Boarding a plane (which I did at 5:40 this morning). Sight seeing in new places. At soccer games. Funerals. I’ve helped friends move. Double decker busses. I always go up and down stairs if I’m running. I watched in awe as my son mastered climbing the stairs. It’s hard to avoid them.

Steps take us to the next thing. They improve. They indicate ascension in more ways than one. It’s growth in some form.

When i reflect on the steps I’ve encountered, I experience a variety of feelings. There have been steady one’s. Joyful. Sad. Funny. Regrettable. Ground breaking. Humiliating. Beautiful. Stupid. Unforgettable. Frightening. Life changing. They’re taking me somewhere unknown.

It’s odd. I’ve never really known what i wanted to be when i grow up (in most ways).  I’m almost 38. I may never know fully. I’m aware I have a long way to go. There’s room for lots of improvement. It’s hitting me now more than before.

But, I’m ready for what’s next. I’m ready for steep steps. Dumbarton one’s or not.

dumbarton slippery steps

I’m Casey and I have a confession that nearly ended my relationship with my sister.

I didn’t like the “Lord of the Rings” movies. I don’t even think I forced myself to sit through the sequels after wasting seven hours of my life in the first one. (Three, seven, it’s all the same when it comes to cinematic torture for me.)

I remember reading “The Hobbit” when I was in fifth or sixth grade. (Hey, I liked to read.) It was easily one of the most magical and quotable books I remember reading. Closely followed by A Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca and Jurassic Park. I had the Shire imagined in my head down to the very last detail along with Frodo, Sam and Gollum (Sméagol if you’re nasty.) Everyone. Then Peter Jackson came along and told me how he saw the Shire and I immediately wrote him off as WRONG WRONG WRONG.

And Elijah Wood? Really? Maybe it’s because I was told by another girl who looked like Gollum that I in fact “looked more like Elijah Wood than any other person she had ever met.” that turned me off to him being cast as the legendary (and only real) hobbit of my youth.

My relationship with my sister survived (thankfully) until Avatar came out.

Oh Avatar.

Blue monkey people that can’t seem to keep their mouth physically shut for any activity. Breathing, talking, yelling, grunting, complaining, chanting…mating their hair with seven legged horse things.

Oh dear.

Here is the part where I admit that most movies that go over well with the general public? Don’t go over so well with me. I physically avoid movies that have won more than two or three awards of any kind. Only rarely have there been exceptions to this rule, and the only one I can think of at the moment? Life is Beautiful, or La Vita è Bella. The only way to watch it is with subtitles.

And while I’m certain anyone in their right mind has seen it, if you haven’t, rent it and if you don’t know anything about it? DON’T READ ANYTHING ABOUT IT before watching it. Just watch it. Promise?

(As a bonus today my friend and roommate Jessica from the Type A Mom conference in North Carolina saw this photo when I  saw it for the first time, her version of the story is below in the comments.)

(new here? read this first.)

Chef Daniel here.

I love food.  I will eat anything. Absolutely anything. Except duck. That’s another post. I’m envious of Anthony Bourdain. What a job – travel and food. Yum.

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t. From time to time, I think about it. The list is something like this – what I’m doing now, photo journalist, think tank-er, rich person with lots of free time, and chef.

I really love food. I love cooking. I love preparing, chopping, sauteing, marinating, grilling, and so on. I enjoy creating food experiences for people. It’s incredibly relaxing and a great creative outlet. I often think about winning the lottery and enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu. It sounds idyllic. And then I could hang out with Gordon Ramsay.

Perhaps the greatest food experience I’ve ever had was on a trip to Singapore with my dear friend Despi. Singapore eating represents a complete fusion of global cuisine. Wow. I ate things I had never heard of, seen or tasted. There were moments where I had my doubts. Things looked scary. And some things I wasn’t sure how to eat. But it was all incredibly delicious. Unforgettable. And yes, I drank a Singapore Sling.

Travel provides that authentic food experience. Which is a reason I love traveling so much – experimenting with local cuisine. One of my goals is to keep embracing these food opportunities so that I can bring them home with me. They can shape my food prep techniques. Travel can be my cooking school. I need to get going on that.

If any of you come across any new media, photo journalist, think tank, chef/travel opportunities that would make me extremely wealthy with an abundance of free time, please let me know. I’ll give you a cut of the action. I’ll even cook for you. But not duck.

food

Singapore grub

I’m Casey and my husband Cody once took me to this place in Rochester, New York called Nick Tahou’s Hots, Famous for the Garbage Plate. We had been married less than a year and aside from our honeymoon (which sucked-DO OVER!) this was our first vacation together and we ended up eating something called “garbage plates.”

Cody wonders why when I request a vacation I also request it involve fruity drinks with umbrellas and food that does not originate from a garbage bag.

What bothers me most is that Nick Tahou’s met every standard I have for the *perfect* hole in the wall restaurant, busy at all hours of the day, questionable appearance inside and out, salty employees and a crazy variety of customers preferably containing the elderly, college kids and some cops. The presence of local cops (or firefighters) at a hole in the wall is better better than a Zagat rating for me.

Dude, they even serve garbage plates at the New York State fair.

That’s practically GIFT WRAPPING A RESTAURANT IN A TIFFANY’S BOX FOR ME.

Alas, I hated it. I ate maybe three bites and was done despite the old school lunch benches, the stooped over couple in the booth next to us, the employee that barked at me in a thick NYC accent when I dared use all the syllables in the word “hamburger.” (Hint, at Nick’s it’s “hamburg.”) Even the cops hollering at each other from outside couldn’t win this place over for me.

I’m still pretty ticked about it. Mostly because a brilliant theory I came up with that is always! true, isn’t always true. It’s almost always true. I hate almost always, it’s risky. Babies? Babies are almost always cute, face it, there’s a chance you could end up with a dud, admit it, they’re out there. Politicians are almost always liars. Really screws up the whole benefit of the doubt for the honest ones. Traffic is almost always good on West 70 after 9 am. Except for when it’s not and you get stuck in traffic for several hours.

Don’t tell Cody, but I want to go back. I want to give it a second shot. Maybe my tastebuds are dulled after eight years and just maybe loads of questionable food piled on top of each other, smothered in sauce, topped with hots and hamburgs and served with bread out of a garbage bag is delicious. It has to be.

I am almost always right about these things.

(new here? read this first.)

Hi, I’m Casey and I once had this dream that half of my face was ripped off and underneath my skin were thousands of tiny slimy black seeds, most of them gathered under my eye right up against my nose. In my dream I looked at my face in the mirror disgusted with what was there. I remember thinking that these things must be under all of my skin and I had to find away to get them out.

I was probably only seven or eight when I had the dream.

To this day I can’t see anything clustery, seedy or bubbly without thinking of that dream. *shiver*

I still remember waking up and feeling my face. I felt a bump on my right cheekbone, I ran out and told my mom. She felt it and said “it’s probably just a blackhead.”

“A BLACKHEAD!? YOU SAY THAT AS IF IT’S NORMAL TO HAVE HEADS THAT ARE BLACK LURKING UNDER YOUR SKIN.”

She didn’t know about my dream. I went to the mirror and attempted to extract the offending blackhead.

Now, I’ll spare you the details about what happened next, but needless to say I have always given my skin a sideways stink eye, never quite sure what was lurking under the surface. I remember a Seinfeld episode where in his opening stand up routine he was talking about hair and how people touch it and style it and play with it and treasure it when it’s on someone’s head. But as soon as one ends up in your sandwich? It’s the most vile substance in the world.

Weird right?

How many cheeks do we kiss knowing what lies under the surface of our own skin? Or maybe it’s just that dream that’s haunted me for over 20 years. How many hands do we shake without knowing where those hands could have been? And let’s not even get started on how gross kissing is if you actually sat and thought about it.

But I don’t think about. I run around in blissful oblivion to the disgusting things lurking under the surface. If I didn’t I’d go crazy. (and I totally understand why some people do go crazy,) I was my face, I wash my hands, I brush my teeth.

I’d kiss me, I’d shake my hand, I’d even pick one of my own hairs out of a sandwich and keep eating.

That’s a pretty good sign right?

buds

Please to meet you. I’m Daniel.

I don’t know what these things are. Casey always seems to pick difficult subject matter for me. Remember this post? Maybe these are Smurfberries. That would be cool.

Since I don’t know what these are, I looked at this image in a different way. I focused on the shapes and forms for a bit. But I was immediately struck by the colors.

They reminded me of a Claude Monet painting. You know, Water Lilies and all that.

It’s amazing when you look at an image and just consider the colors – not the content, or form. Just colors. Like what Ice-T said.

My favorite color is blue. What’s yours?

I love a good blue sky. Frank Sinatra had blue eyes. Everyone should own a good pair of navy pants with a thin stripe.I loved the blue sky Salvador Dali used in his paintings. Surreal-ly magical. And of course, Smurfs are blue.

This is a photograph posing as a painting. For me, that shows the talent within the photographer. Casey always adds a layer of depth in her imagery.

I would love to see a Claude Monet painting of this photo-painting. Then, I would love to see Salvador Dali interpret Monet’s painting into a new version. Stuff would be melting. There might be a crutch involved. It would take us all into dreamland. Then, maybe Ice-T could write a song about it.

It would be called Smurf berries.

(new here? read this first.)

Old man Incandela here.

I think about retirement a lot. I may never actually get to retire, but I know what it might look like. It’s this image.

I might win the lottery. My career might lead to some amazing opportunity. I might have a very rich Great Uncle out there. Who knows. I’m not asking for too much. I want a farm.

I want to rise with the sun and go chop some wood, feed some chickens, fix a fence, maybe find a duck that has a hurt wing, and in general, walk around some land that I can call my own. I might be listening to hip hop while doing this. Maybe checking e-mail on some bio-chip linked to my brain stem – or whatever the kids will be doing in the future. But I’ll take pride in all of this and appreciate my life, nature and the world around me.

Aside from chickens and a dodgy duck, I’ll have a trusty dog. I might have a lama, a goat, and if I’m brave enough, a horse. I’ll grow lots of stuff. Weird plants, herbs, vegetables and beautiful flowers. I’ll wear Wellington Boots a lot. A cap. And I’ll definitely carry a Leatherman.

I want a rocking chair. I want to eat pie daily. I want to build a fire and read books. I want to be surrounded by loved ones. I’ll entertain visitors. Every now and then, I’ll go traveling and bring back something for the farm house. Not sure what – some trinket, rug, painting from somewhere far away. I’ll always return, happier to be home.

In that rocking chair, I want to look back on life with few regrets, knowing that I created amazing opportunities, treated people with kindness, and truly experienced life.

Wish me luck.

A good retirement spot

A good retirement spot

by Casey, daughter of the best landscape photographer I’ve yet to know.

When I was little my mom would always whisk my sister and me away on camping trips in Southern Utah. We would sleep in the car, eat ramen soup for dinner and drink water out of those old reusable IV bottles. I would always get sick in the car so before we left Salt Lake I would pop a couple of Dramamine and be asleep before Provo. I’m not even sure if I realized that Utah had this whole wild middle section of brown and tumbleweeds until I was grown, I fell asleep up North and woke up surrounded by red rock down South.

I could spend hours exploring the caves and dunes of Southern Utah, one time I found what I swear were human bones, however no one was ever willing to agree with me. I lived for the time between meals when I could just explore. My sister and mom were more content to be back at camp reading or, well, honestly I’m not sure what they did because I was never around to see.

What my mom lived for were those 20 minutes that exist between night and day or day and night. Where the sun is fat and golden and the clouds finger out into fifteen different colors. I remember one morning, I was maybe 6, I awoke to everything washed in the most intense red-golden light. I poked my mom who immediately went to work, pulling out her Canon 35mm and running out the door without so much as a goodbye, leaving her two little girls asleep in the car. My mom speaks in sunsets and sunrises and thrives off sweet light.

When I imagine my mom it’s by some lake or other body of water, bathed in a rainbow of light. She has her viewfinder to her face and her old 4runner and insulated coffee mug in the background. To this day I can’t witness a sunrise or a sunset without thinking of her.

We’re going to be taking a road trip in October to the 5 states she has yet to visit (she wants to hit all 50 before she’s 60) and I am giddy to think that while at home I hate being up before the sun rises, with my mom I’ll be up and witnessing her in her element. I’ll have those memories of my mom to lock away forever both on print and in my mind.

(new here? read this first.)

I’m Daniel. And I’m kind of a nerd.

This picture has always reminded me of the Millenium Falcon. Like a lot of kids my age, Star Wars played a big role in my upbringing. I can still see Han Solo and Chewbacca engaging hyper drive. That’s what this image means to me – 6 years old, watching in complete wonderment as I discovered space, robots, the force, Princess Leia and bounty hunters. It’s a miracle I didn’t break the VCR back in those days.

I’ve had plenty of time to process the first three Star Wars films (I refuse to discuss the new one’s). I do a mean Chewy impression. I’m known to slip in a “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” during conversations, and I attend Gen Con annually, there’s more…I honestly think R2-D2 could beat a T-Rex in a fight. It pains me that C-3PO is so insecure. I really don’t get it. He’s shiny, gold and can communicate in over 6 million forms of communication. What’s the problem?

Let’s just say I reference Star Wars a lot.

A few years ago, I bought two orange trees. I named them R2-D2 and C-3PO. I still have R2. Unfortunately, Threepio died. I’ve killed a lot of plants. I ordered a new orange tree earlier this year and considered the name for some time.

I’m thrilled to say that Boba Fett the Orange Tree is flourishing. I keep him on the balcony, usually by himself (bounty hunter style). The Boba Fett character was probably the coolest in all of the Star Wars films. Amazing armor, quiet, traveled frequently, made his own hours, AND, a rocket back pack. What a life.

He died a ridiculous and unflattering death in The Empire Strikes Back – it’s almost like someone played a prank on him. It still really irritates me today. But I’m coping.

All I can do now, is make sure that when Boba Fett the Orange Tree dies, it happens with a little more dignity.

4th of July

how casey sees it…

I once had a stepdad who was a mortician. I could say funeral director, but for the sake of this story he was a mortician, he did mortician stuff, he just happened to direct funerals as well.

I learned a lot a lot from him over the years, such as certain chemicals used on someone who had died from an overdose would cause them to turn Kermit the Frog green. When reconstructing a face for a viewing glass marbles are used where eyeballs used to be. A dead body left in a hot car for weeks will turn black and bloat. There are certain religions that approach death differently, and the feelings towards it are palpable among the different sects.

But there is one story he told me about a teenage girl riding down a narrow two lane canyon in the back of a friends car. They had been drinking and she had stuck her head out the car window for whatever reason teenagers stick their heads out of car windows. They came around a bend at the same time as a truck traveling in the opposite direction.

It hit her.

It tore her in half.

Many times my friends and I had been that girl, hanging out car windows while riding down steep and curvy canyons. Sometimes I was drunk, sometimes I was not. But from the moment I heard that story I was changed. I could visualize it too easily. The breeze in her face, the curve in the canyon, the headlights, the honking, that sound, the screaming…

…the phone call to her parents.

Even 13 years later I still tense up driving down winding canyon roads, especially at night.

I’m not sure if it was his intention to scare me with this story, but it worked. And while I still lived the rest of my teenage years with fairly reckless abandon, I also lived with a new fear, the fear of death.

(new here? read this first.)

casey’s first.

There was a time that I didn’t know what death looked like first hand, I didn’t have to worry about another’s ulterior motives and I didn’t have to think about a single food I put into my mouth (aside from kiwis and avocados…I’ve always known they make my mouth itchy but never really cared.) There was a time I looked forward to every day.

There was a time when a picture was just a snapshot I took of my best friend eating a sandwich in the Neiman Marcus cafe in Union Square at the beginning of our first ever weekend weekend away together. Now it’s a memory of a better time. A time when both of us didn’t know about death first hand. A time when neither of us knew about the awful in the world. A moment where our friendship, and we individually, were invincible.

And oddly enough, both able to eat gluten.

Daniel’s take

What’s the deal with focaccia bread?

It’s fancy. It’s different. It’s hard to spell.

You get it at foux foux cafes. I like it. Not sure I trust it.

It adds at least $4 to a sandwich.

It leaves a slight oily residue on your fingers.

Sometimes, it crumbles in your lap and leaves a stuff on your pants.

That’s what focaccia is capable of doing.

It’s great in a food fight, though.

A baguette is solid. A roll will suffice. Giant pretzels, rye loaves, bread sticks, slices and a boule aren’t bad. But they’re no focaccia.

Focaccia flies through the air with grace, with sophistication and panache. It allows for precision.

It may lack the impact of a hardened baguette, but it makes up for it with the penetration of olive oil or rosemary residue.  And you get to yell, “You got focaccia-d”.

The next time you’re at a fancy café, family reunion, boring lunch or job interview, order the focaccia and see what happens. You’ll earn instant respect.

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