Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Secrets of a Model

"Janna, why do you and your friends look like that in all of your photos together?" my mother asked me.  

"Well, Mom, that's because we all found our good side.  And when you find it, you gotta stick with it," I answered.

My brother was a model, actually the Gucci model for a year.  And how he got that gig, we could never figure out.  I mean, he was handsome enough, yes, but people spend years of their life trying to make it big, “get noticed,” if you will.  And here was my brother who walked into a modeling agency and said, “Hey, think I could make some money doing this so that I could go rock climbing whenever I want to?  Dude.”  Within one short year, he was the Gucci model!!!???  Come on, I say.  How unfair to all of the people who have tried for so long to make it in the spotlight.  He cut right to the front of the line. 

Well, it was pretty exciting to see my brother in some major magazines, to hear of all the people he was meeting, Owen and Luke Wilson, Heidi Klum, and so on.  I was intrigued and had many questions. 

“So how do the people who don’t look that pretty in real life look so good in pictures?  You gotta tell me your model secrets,” I said to him.  I was aware of the popular television program America’s Top Model, the show that inspired my new smileThere were many models on there that didn’t look like model material, but when you would see them in photos, low and behold, the model caged within would be released. 

“Find your good side,” he said in response to my questioning.  “Models know how they look best behind the camera.” 

“What?  Tell me what you mean.  Explain yourself,” I urged him to go on.

“They know their best angles and best poses and they stick to these poses,” he explained.

Ahhhh, there was a trick to this modeling thing.

A Pose.

Do you know your pose? 

So I had my own photo shoot to find my own model look.  I angled my face slightly to the left, and then angled it to the right, and then one front on, looking up, looking down, smiling, serious, sexy.  Click.  Click.   The camera and I were one.  The lioness in me was beginning to roar.  Work it.  Work it.  You know you look good.  Flash.  Flash.  Then the photo shoot came to completion.  I took the camera back from my five year old son.

I looked at my pictures.  Now which one was Gucci material? 

Ahhhh!  There it was.  A little turn to the left, a slight angle downward, oh, not too much, so to avoid any doubling of the chin.  Oooo, lovely.  My look.   

My pose.

The camera will never see me without it.

So, see this picture, Mom?  Don't we all look absolutely great?  That's because we are models too.

Here we are in Paris.

And here we are in New York.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Friendship. One of my favorite things about life.

“How long have we known each other?” I asked her feeling like it was the first time we noticed each other.

“Five years,” she replied.

“How did we not notice each other before now?”  

“I was here,” she responded with a slight grin, as if she knew all along we would be close friends.  

Like a beam of light passing through the darkness of night, people come into our lives.  They  brighten up what has been dimmed by trouble, hardship, circumstances.  It is seldom that these beams last a lifetime, but the ones that are brief can make an impact as great as the ones that last a little longer.

I had been so busy rowing my boat one particular way that I didn’t notice there was a boat rowing right up against me; its bow gently tap-tapping at mine.

I have heard it said that when God closes a door, He always opens another.  I would have to admit that most of the time I am so busy struggling to pry open a particular door or fight desperately to keep a certain door ajar that I forget to look around and notice the doors that He has, in His wisdom, strategically opened.

What if people are purposefully placed in our path for a specific reason?  What if there is a bigger purpose for our crossing lives? 

Are relationships orchestrated?  Arranged?

What if we are to embrace and invest into those He has chosen to drop into our lives?  Not to neglect or let go of old friends, oh no, but to embrace those who happen to be crossing our path in the present time.  To spend enough time to bond deeply so that there will be a lasting impact.  How many times have I been so caught up in my ideas for my life, that I miss out on the gifts He has placed before me?  Sometimes those gifts are people.

Friendship.  One of my favorite things about life.

When I look back over the years, I see the many gifts of friendship He has given me. 

Friend upon friend has crossed my way.   So many faces, so many names.  Each friend has been a blessing to me.  Though seasons of friendship change, their impact upon our life remains.  I think back at all the people who have been a part of my life, and I am grateful for each and every dear friend. 

"Five years, Emily???  It feels like we just met,” I said in all sincerity with a little bit of sadness for not having partnered up with her sooner.

“Emily, you truly are a blessing to me.”

She smiled. 

She knew she was. 

It was about time I noticed.

Emily.  One of my favorite things about life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


“Do you think there is a season to friendships?” I asked.  “Could our season be ending?”

“Only if one of us lets it,” she answered.

It was a time of shifting in our relationship, change.  So many things pulling us apart, increasing the gaping hole that seemed to be devouring our closeness.  Could it be in our lot to grow apart for a time?  To prepare my heart, her heart for an upcoming departure that would have the ability to tear us both apart if we didn’t distance a little? 

We began to have topics of taboo, topics that caused tension to rise to the surface.  Wouldn’t it be so nice if we were able to just skim it off?  Skim off the unnecessary fat. 

Did we have the control or power to stop the drifting?

I thought so.  She thought so.

“We just have to make decisions that will keep us together,” she had said right before purchasing their first house around the corner from us. 

Life is change.  You have to fight it to keep close. 

So we thought.

But I wonder…

What is the secret to lasting friendship?   One that lasts for a lifetime?  Why can some relationships sustain while others seem to have only distance as their lot? 

What is it that preserves the friendship bond?  A continual crossing of life’s path?  A combination of certain personalities?  Availability?  Circumstances?  Commonalities?  All of the above? 

Haven’t we all had a number of BFFs in our lifetime?  Wedding photos are a perfect example of life’s constant altering.  As you flip through the printed reminders of that special day, you come across one particular picture, a lineup of the girls, our bridesmaids.  How many of us still see these people with whom we once could never imagine living life without? 

People who you have tried with all efforts to stay close to, but by some unexplainable reason, life just took you down different courses.     

The friend who lived next door to me all the way from preschool to high school graduation.  “We will be best friends forever,” she said.  “Of course we will,” I agreed.

The friend in high school I was in choir class with.  I couldn’t sing or dance so instead of participating with the rest of the choir, we would just talk with each other about the audience.  “Do you see my boyfriend out there?” I asked.  “No, all I can see is beaming lights in my eyes.” she answered.  “So if we can’t see anyone then I am sure they can’t see us.  Let’s keep talking.” 

The friend  I lived with and traveled to Europe with. 

The friend who could make me laugh so hard my sides felt like they were going to split.

The friend I took a college singing class with.  I really wanted to learn how to sing. My voice was so bad my friend and I couldn’t stop laughing during my solo performance.  “Janna,” the teacher said, “go stand in the corner for the rest of the class.”  I stood facing the corner, shoulders shaking violently from the uncontrollable silent laughter that almost possessed my body.  There I was standing in the corner, in college. 

People I would never grow apart from. 

But time and circumstance prove to have the power to slowly errode the bond between two souls.  Sure you can try to hold it together.  But with many, with most, they experience…




Even the best of friends.

Nothing in life is safe from the ever present reality of change. 

Sure there are certain individuals, whom you would never be willing to let go of.  Two parties willing to give what it takes to hold on, the ones that leave off where you once left off.  Those friendships are priceless.

Would our relationship be that sort?  The one to last a lifetime?

I could have worried.  I could have fretted and fussed over something I really had no control over.  We could have turned on each other.  It is only a natural response to the growing tension that so commonly originates from growing apart as friends.  And in all truth we had tried that before only to find it to more destructive than restorative.       

Instead we both realized that our relationship would develop into something else.  Into what it was to become. 

For this season it would be our lot to drift away from one other.  But the drifting, we would find, would not be without purpose. 

God uses us to touch each other’s lives.  And like the closing of a book, there comes a time when He closes this chapter and begins to write a new one, sending our ray of light somewhere else, to someone else…

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Two boats drifted down a river, side by side.  The wind pushed them together and forward, shoulder to shoulder, flowing through the streams of life.  

The currents were in our favor, schooling, working, our husbands best friends, all of our pregnancies and births of babies.  Closer.  The closest you could be to a friend.  


We sat swaying on my white wooden porch swing in front of my old house.  Both of us, our first born babies in hand.  At this time, she lived around the corner from me. 



Back and forth. 

Swinging through life.

Life was just better that way.

“You know how to harmonize?” I smiled, knowing very well the answer.

“How hard can it be?” she grinned.

And so we sat side by side beneath the shade of an overhanging porch.

She took soprano, piercing the air with a high pitched shrill.  I took baritone, penetrating her awful sound with a low pitched transvestite tone. 


No.  Croaking.  Like two toads.

“We sound horrible,” I laughed.

“Yeah, but for one moment, did you hear?  We sounded good together.  It was just for a moment,” she said.

A moment.

Life is really just a collection of them.  Bottled up in our memories.  Caught on little pieces of prints.  Stuck in files on our computers.  Time captured.  Moments frozen.

Friendships have their moments.  Their seasons. 

And when those seasons begin to change, when the leaves of life’s trees begin to change color, drop one by one, uncertainty suddenly sneaks in.

What will become of us?

And in uncertainty comes the birth of tension.

Why are we growing apart?

Who is to blame?

And can it be stopped?  Can it be prevented?

Anita and I began to grow apart by anything but desire.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Whinnie Smile

I needed a new smile.  Mine just wouldn’t do. 

Too much gum. 

Like when a horse whinnies.


I quickly flipped through the channels on my television; my finger resting upon a program of interest, America’s Next Top Model.  I watched on as a young girl stood before the judge panel, the judges critiquing every flaw.  She stood nervously awaiting her destiny. 

“You show too much gum when you smile,” one judge said; I think it may have been Tyra Banks.

Gasp!  Hey,is Tyra talking to me? 

But Tyra, what is she, what am I, supposed to do? 

“You need to tame that,” she answered us.

Tame it.  Tame it.  Well, I never knew. 

The taming of a gummy smile.  There was work to do.

I have heard of a plastic surgery procedure that can quickly tame the gum.  Many celebrities have done this.  Look at Jennifer Garner.


Do I need plastic surgery?  Well, I have no money.  I don’t care that much.  And who wants the recovery down time?

So there I stood, staring at my reflection in the mirror.  My lips stretched out to form a smile.  How did I not notice this before?  Then I laughed.  Whoa, my upper lip rose like a curtain in a play, revealing the main performer, a vast amount of pink tissue surrounding my teeth.  It was like a Broadway nightmare.  As I looked at myself in the mirror, the sunlight shown through the window brilliantly, shimmering off of my wet gums and into my reflection.  Ah, my eyes! 

Less gum.  Time to begin the procedure.

"Upper lip, relax.”      

I spoke in a low, soothing voice to lull it down.

Loosen your hold upon my gum.



As low as you can go.

That’s right.  Relax. Melt down like butter. 

Muscles, release your grip upon my lip.

I continued the exercise until my upper lip was borderline dangling over my upper teeth.  It took a lot of focus and concentration, and extreme lip control to keep it down; nevertheless, I tamed it.

My nonsurgical treatment was complete.  Here is my before picture:

And here is my after:

Wow.  Just like Jennifer Garner.

And my recovery was minimal.

I had my new smile in one tiny course of action, and it was like I had gone under the knife.  Awesome.  Why hadn’t I had this done before? 

A new me.



And that night there was a perfect occasion to try it out.

This very night my brother, a professional photographer, was having a show at a local art gallery, “My friend Amber Tamblyn is coming,” he said in a matter of fact way.  He had taken pictures of her before and they had become friends as a result.  I was not that familiar with Amber Tamblyn.  I had never seen The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.  How in the world can one pair of pants fit four different bodies anyway?  The story line didn’t interest me.  But a celebrity is a celebrity, so, of course, I was excited.  And I had my new smile just in time.

I walked into the art show that night, my new grin displayed across my face.

I looked through the crowd to find a familiar face.  "Oh, there's Karl, my brother's best friend."  “Hey, Karl,” I said as I approached him.  He did a double take.  Oh, he’s impressed. I smiled even bigger.  "Oooo, a big smile takes a lot of concentration," I thought to myself.  My upper lip suddenly started to wobble, shake and then....
fling!  Without warning, my lip let lose like a retractable shade. 

Oh no!  Janna, gain control before everyone thinks this is just a gig!  This new smile is the real deal, people.  Gums?  What gums?  Where?

I quickly attempted to relax it back down.  But in the process of continually smiling, my top front teeth had dried out.  As I lowered my lip, it grabbed a hold of my two dried out upper incisors.  Stuck.  My top lip affixed to my teeth.  I quickly dashed a look at Karl.  Did he notice?   

Hmm,has she had work done? I saw him tilt his head and raise his brow.     

I tried to pucker my lips.  But a pucker is only a pucker when two lips cooperate.  Karl looked at me with concern.  It would only be released by way of hand.  I drew my hand up to my face, pretending to scratch my nose.  I quickly flicked at my lip to release it.  There.  Back to my new normal.

Karl cringed and smiled back at me awkwardly.  We both let out two uncomfortable chuckles.

“I am going to meet the movie star,” I said as I walked away toward my brother and Amber Tamblyn.  (You can’t just call her Amber because she is a celebrity).

My brother stood talking with Amber Tamblyn.  Ah, perfect timing, I will walk up and he will introduce me.

But as I walked up, my father, interrupted them, pulling my brother’s attention to the side.  I stood before her, awaiting my brother’s return and his introductions.  We stood face to face, maybe two feet apart.  Both of us awkwardly avoiding eye contact.  He will be finishing up with my dad at any moment, I thought to myself.  But the moment turned into five minutes, five very long, uncomfortable minutes for both of us.

I stood there staring at her, dumbly, smiling.

Her feet shifted uncomfortably.  I could tell she felt uneasy with me.  And it was obvious why.

She was jealous of my new smile.

And that was my simple journey from a whinnie smile to a winning smile.