The Art of Moving and Staying

Sometimes you have to experience the more uncomfortable and awkward times in life in order to appreciate easy breezy. Those times for me came more specifically when I lived in DC. People in South Carolina usually ask me if I’m glad I no longer live in DC, as if it is incomprehensible to not live in a place that is sunny and cheap year round. To them I usually answer, “why, yes, I love sunshine and cheap housing”. Honestly, this is the happiest I have been in a very long time. I’m not discounting the great place that SC has turned out to be. I just wanted to be able to take a second to reminisce a time in my life when I felt most alive. Usually alive also means scared for my life. Here are a couple examples:

  • First week in DC:  What seems like an employee (wearing a company t-shirt) hops the U-haul we just rented to “help” my Brazilian roommate and I move a couch up three flights of stairs. Says it’s part of the job. Quickly after leaving we realize this guy is NOT an employee and not only now knows where we live, but wants us to drive him to an ATM to get money.  I call the U-haul employee (who I thankfully was very friendly with just moments before) and he agrees to take care of the guy if we drive back to the store. Had we not needed to drive only 2 miles back to the store I might have been a little terrified, but, looking back, I am most surprised to have gotten through the District of Columbia accident free in a U-Haul van on my very first drive through the city. Not as much about the almost getting murdered part. (SC people are dramatic)
  • I routinely ran through Old Town at 10:30 at night from my townhouse on Fayette St. The scariest part was running from my doorstep 3 blocks down to King. The rest was a piece of cake. I recognized enough crazy people like myself running at that hour, plus all of the tourists, to really not give it much of a thought. Now, however, I think twice about walking my 70 lb dog at dusk around West Columbia.
  • Falling asleep on the metro. Yes it happens. Yes it even happens during the week coming home from work. Narcolepsy will follow me wherever I live.
  • Watching 5 black vans pull simultaneously to the curb next to my house at 4 in the afternoon on a Saturday. Sled agents appear in black from head to toe. Kick down front door. Bye-bye neighbors. Good riddance.
  • Walking to a church bible study in Dupont on a normal Wednesday night. Just chatting it up with my girl friends, enjoying the weather. Look to our left to find crime scene tape and the outline of a body on the concrete. Yep, suicide. Rich guy couldn’t bare his wife’s separation (or so the cop said). Welcome to DC. Or any other major city in America.

With that being said, with the bad comes the good. I would give anything for a couple more months of good food, entertainment, and other odd comforts. Specifically:

  • I miss the smell of curry in the hallway of my first garden-style apartment. I know that sounds bizarre.. but it somehow made me feel urban-chic.
  • COFFEE. My budget is rejoicing at the fact that I no longer have a coffee shop to blow all of my money, but man do I miss it. Normally I would be sitting in a coffee shop writing this blog. Instead I’m on my bed, which is very comfortable, btw. Anyway, do you see a correlation between the number of years since I’ve had a wordy blog and the number of years I’ve been away from DC and good coffee shops?
  • People. No matter where I went I could find a stranger-friend. Everyone was coming or going somewhere. Everyone wanted to chat (I mean, we weren’t NYC). I especially loved that no one had any real responsibility beyond his or her job or school, so life was still interesting and changing. Granted, I love the perks of the stability now, but I have to admit I was definitely never bored or lonely back then.
  • Expensive, brand new furniture left out on the curb. Finder’s keepers. Now, find a truck!
  • Walking home from the metro with a book in hand. I was frequently honked at and asked to be careful by strangers. But man, I got through some fun books back then. While I’m at it: walking, running and biking in general was a plus. I was even on a soccer team for a while. What I would give to be back in that kind of shape. (Yes, I know I’m just giving dumb excuses, but trust me when I tell you it was MUCH easier to stay healthy).
  • Sushi. Again, refer back to the budget rejoicing thing. I spent entirely too much money back then, but at the same time I somehow lived on less than $30K a year. I don’t get it.
  • Being a cool loner. I’m starting to figure out ways to be by myself and not feel awkward in Columbia. Mainly it’s MUCH easier with a huge, fluffy, dog. But certainly in DC no one looked at me strange if I showed up at a bar at 5:00 with a book with absolutely no intentions to meet anyone. Actually, I believe that’s how I met some of my better girl friends. In SC I have to space apart that kind of behavior. Specifically, I can’t go back to Henry’s by myself for at least 6 months because the bartenders are smart enough to remember the girl with the kindle. (random side note: The plus of the Kindle is that now I can read “Pride and Prejudice” in a bar and lie about it if someone asks what I’m reading. Tina Fey’s “Bossy Pants” is always in queue for such purposes.)
  • Brunch. Yes, the stereotype is true. For good reason. Actually, I’m not sure there is a good reason… I just like it okay?!?!
  • Impulsive happy hour with friends and co-workers when the metro is on a 2-hour delay. I realize this would be quite annoying if I had a family or a pet, but to a single gal it was just a fun excuse for 3 days in a row of happy hour without looking like the too-frequent patron.
  • VISITORS. I’ll end on this note because I believe my Columbia and DC world should merge here. I had many awesome visitors the 2 years I was in DC. Some for only a day at a time, but I loved every minute of it. I mean, I know I lived in a great city and close to a major airport. I get it. I just don’t know if many of you realize that I have an entire empty room now. Remember that time you stayed on my tiny couch? I now offer you a bed, tv and a balcony. And Charleston an hour and half away. Columbia’s not that bad either. Did I mention winter didn’t actually happen this year??

So yes, I learned a lot and indulged much of my time in DC and Virginia. I’ve also learned to really love being back home. One day soon I’ll do a tribute to Columbia. For now I’ll leave you with a photo of a little night shoot my friend and I got to play around with a couple weeks ago. Once the rest are edited and ready I’ll work on that tribute (knowing me it will take several weeks, fore-warning).

Thanks to all of you who have made these places great. Thanks also to my family who has added a special touch to my life here as well.


My New England Tour

About a month ago I got to visit my good friend, Sarah, in Portsmouth, NH following a trip to PA for work. During this trip I finally got to experience true American travel- aka the Greyhound. I spent exactly 45 minutes in Time Square during my layover, using the majority of my time looking for a cute cafe for lunch but had to settle for a street pretzel due to lack of cute cafes. Anyway, I was glad to at least leave the city having only spent exactly 3 bucks.

Two bus rides later I made it to Portsmouth. I have to admit, I really didn’t know what to expect since Sarah had always described Portsmouth as a small city. Truth is, it’s super cute and jam packed with about anything you might want: great food, historic buildings, beautiful landscape, and fun people/night life. I will definitely be returning when it warms up! (Sorry, Sarah, I have an above freezing minimum requirement 😉

As always, my prints are available on Smugmug. I’m also updating my Etsy account for the first time in forever, so check it out!

Portsmouth at night-- US version of Prague?

Shout out to Portsmouth Brewery. Enjoyed the porter and chowder!

"Black Yankees and the Sea"

Old homes

Lots of old homes

Getting ready to head out for some hiking. Check out Sarah's cute place!

Ordiorne State Park, NH

Wells Reserve at Laudolm

Good times with Sarah! Reunion coming soon..

Don’t worry, NYC, I’ll see you soon as well 🙂

Clemson ’til the end

Hello internet. I have photos from my trip to NH/Maine to post soon. For now, I just want to pay a little tribute to Clemson. Yes, the Clemson vs. WVU game was more than embarrassing. Yes, the timing of the loss was unfortunate. But you know what? I am just as proud to have gone to Clemson today as I was two days ago. I’m also glad I got to go to Miami for the time spent with great friends and family. Clemson is about way more than football. If you haven’t really experienced the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I don’t think you can quite understand it. I think it has been best summarized by a fellow blogger named Jess. I don’t know her personally, but I have a hunch she wouldn’t mind me sharing:

“My alma mater is more than the color orange or purple. It is more than football or baseball or basketball.  It is a feeling.  And until you have experienced it, you just won’t get it.  My alma mater buries itself deep in your heart and thumps louder and louder and louder the older you get.

My alma mater is tradition.  It’s military background and agricultural education paved the way for the university we love today.

My alma mater has home-made ice cream.  And for an ice cream lover, that makes for a little piece of heaven on Earth.

My alma mater has the most beautiful sunsets over the most beautiful clock tower.  The sky is painted orange and purple in the most spectacular display of beauty a person can imagine.

My alma mater is family.  I am forever bound by an unseen thread to men and women all over the world who feel the same feeling I do and have experienced the same traditions that I have experienced.

My alma mater is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.  And there is something in those hills that beckons me to return over and over and over again.  It echos in my heart day after day.

My alma mater is Clemson University.  And despite the score of the game last night–or any other time–the fact still remains that I love the ground in which I tread for 10 years, first as an undergraduate then a graduate student and finally an employee. I love Clemson University to the depths of my heart.  Because it was during my time at Clemson, that I learned about faith and family and friends.  It was during my time at Clemson that I learned how to be me.”

My photography hobby began after I left Clemson, but I still got some special shots while I was there. Look for a post in the spring when I get back up to play with my new equpiment.

Hope you enjoy!

This is that Clemson sunset everyone has been talking about

These were more recent shots of the UVA vs Clemson game I shot with my zoom lens:

Go Tigers!!

Welcome to Tia Nicole Photography’s New Blog!

Well, it’s been quite a while but I’m finally back! And what better way to return than with a new look?

Since my last post I’ve remained busy and happy at SERVPRO and have enjoyed some great community events/new friends in Columbia. Luna has grown to a massive proportion (hopefully you’ll enjoy the before and after Christmas photos of Luna bear!) There are also before and after photos of my home. One of my goals for the year was to finish decorating the downstairs, which I’m happy to say is almost entirely complete.

Though I sadly still have not found enough time to get back into photo shoots, I’m going to begin focusing again on taking and selling prints. The purchase of my Nikon 10-24mm f4.5-5.5 lens helps! If you need a referral for a wedding/family/portrait photographer, I will gladly keep a running list of good candidates for your convenience.

Hope you enjoy the before and after photos of my home. I’m very thankful to be able to afford a nice place to live and a great roommate/friends to share it with. Be warned, the beauty and deception of a wide angle lens creates a seemingly huge space. My house is only 1600 sq ft, do not be fooled 🙂  Also, please pardon the bad exposure of the original photos which was taken on a camera phone.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Last Year…

60 Lbs Later.. 🙂

The 'extra' room is a work in progress

Happy Holidays!!

Luna’s all grown up!

I haven’t posted a new blog in 4 months.. which is the amount of time it takes for my dog to gain about 40 pounds. So instead of her being a floppy, clumsy little dog, she’s now a very large version of the same thing.
Since the last post, I have learned Luna: is completely disinterested in balls and frisbees, does not have a protective bone in her body, can’t walk down my stairs without tripping, knows how to sit and stay REALLY well (see photos below), has terrible gas, eats her own poop, thinks another dog growling = playtime, has lesions on her eyes (will have an update after the vet next week), is partially deaf, loves Rylynn but the feeling is not reciprocated, likes watching tv- especially Glee, still eats food like it’s her last meal, can’t jump on my bed or couch, is not a big fan of swimming… and despite the many quirky flaws she’s still knows exactly what to do to melt even the most soulless person’s heart.
I’ve also noticed the people Luna meets in public will almost always give some interpretation of what they believe she looks like. My favorites are: snuffaluffagus, sprocket from fraggle rock, clifford the big red dog, a muppet, or usually just some sort of a bear- live or stuffed 🙂
Despite her expensive vet bills and somewhat annoying habits she’s brought me many laughs. Can’t help but love this girl! Hope you enjoy the photos–
One of Luna’s favorite things to do is sit and stay. She picked it up pretty young and seems to be just as excited about it as she ever has. The next couple photos are the ones I got of her running towards me.. which is a clumsy, frantic sort of motion. Makes me smile every time 🙂
Gotta love that face

More photos to come! Also stay tuned– I’m going to be reorganizing my smugmug page to make print purchases easier. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for anymore portrait sessions or weddings, but I’ll still be taking scenic photos that will be available for various printing options (including canvas).

Happy Belated Birthday to my Dad!

I’m not trying to be a cop out, but I thought it would be fun to copy and paste the entry I wrote for my dad on his birthday last year. I thought it was interesting that I mentioned how much his Christmas card meant to me (this year he said he selfishly hoped I would get the job in Greenville so that I will be close..ha). In the beginning of the year I was searching endlessly for jobs in Nashville and my dad offered to fly me back and forth as much as I wanted (we’ll see ;).. Well, now a year later I have a phone interview with a company in Nashville on Tuesday. I really haven’t been looking for jobs in Nashville since about August, but I randomly found this job during a nationwide search. I’m also still waiting to hear back from Greenville and would absolutely love to have that job.

Anyway, in case you didn’t read it last year.. meet my Dad. He’s wonderful!

I think after all of these years I still look at him like that sometimes. My dad is an amazing person. Besides the fact that he is hard working, smart, funny (he wore a cowboy hat during all of Thanksgiving).. he’s a great father and husband. He took me to get certified to scuba dive when I was 15 years old so that we would have an excuse to spend a little extra time together (since the days of throwing the ball in the backyard had long passed). Lately I can tell he’s been trying to show me how he cares in his own little ways. My mom makes it very clear that she misses me all the time, but my dad lets me know in more subtle ways. The Christmas card he gave me this year made me cry.. and made me realize that he really does support me in everything I do. It’s nice when the person you’ve looked up to all of your life seems to think really highly of your career and ambitions.

He’s offered to fly me home as much as I want if I find a job in Nashville this summer.. that may be an offer too good to pass up 🙂

My family is great. I am blessed.

(Almost) White Christmas

The title of this blog is deceiving since I don’t actually have any photos of our post Christmas snowfall. Well, except a couple from my phone…

Hopefully if we get any more snow this year my neighbors will actually be in town to enjoy the snow! Honestly it was more like slush than snow anyway so I pretty much decided to use the day to catch up on cleaning. Gotta have those every now and then.
Christmas came and went really fast this year. So fast that I somehow forgot my camera. I’m not sure how that is even possible but on some level I was glad to be able to just relax and let everyone do the shooting for once. Here are just a couple from last Sunday with my mom’s family-
My girl is getting huge!!

Finally, I’ve gotten around to decorating for Christmas. I kind of went all out on the tree this year since next year I’ll have less open space. I’ll be getting my white bookshelves sometime in January and then the livingroom will be mostly finished. My next project is the half-bath and my bedroom. Will hopefully have before and after pics up in a couple months. More than ready to get going with all of this!

I have no idea why the lights on my Christmas tree look blue. I could only find the halogen lights this year at target so for whatever reason when you photograph them this is the way they appear.
My coworker made this. Pretty cool.
This is an ornament I got from a friend the Christmas before we graduated from Clemson in 2005. Nice to finally be able to use it!
Another cool gift from a coworker!
She’s getting great at posing. Waiting for those puppy modeling offers start streaming in 😉

I hope all of you had a really wonderful Christmas! Stay safe and ring in 2011 with style.
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