My last day of work was on the 16th, and I just had my first week completely left to my own devices! I'm trying to get a lot of the important stuff out of the way first: registering for classes and submitting grad school paper work, signing up for Mass Health, doing a deep clean of the apartment and donating things we don't need, planning a couple of family visits coming up, and doing some thinking about wedding plans. But I did reserve a day last week to get back on the saddle with drawing. It felt great! I'm now returning to the fishing scene I had started with back in 2017. Comparing these two panels, can you see a bit of growth? The one on the right I photographed in 2018. I feel like I've learned so much in terms of style, composition, and inventing images out of my head.
Going back to the last day of work, it was incredibly bittersweet as expected. I spent the days leading up to it conducting some virtual trainings and documenting a lot of the paperwork stuff I'd been handling for future reference (nothing too interesting – mostly dense material like sending employment contracts and creating competency-based interview feedback forms). On my last day it was a race against the clock to tie things off before losing access to my email account, like discussing the fate of my 401k, recording my remaining PTO time for my personal records, and cleaning out my inbox once and for all. It's surprisingly hard to let go of the vast number of documents I've referenced for years and projects I've chipped away at, even though I am excited by my next career steps.
In the afternoon, my colleagues set up some pastries, berries, and bubbly out on the deck at work and we had fun reminiscing and enjoying some long-awaited time in person and not in front of a screen. There is a common practice of wearing "animal print" (prints with literal animals) on our team, and without consulting, my manager and I both wore outfits with birds printed on them. One of my coworkers composed a number of beautiful (and funny!) haikus for me which I read aloud. My manager gave me a felt pennant of a gold sunrise to symbolize new beginnings, along with a red lightning bolt pin, a symbol of the Polish pro-choice women's marches (half of our coworkers are based in Warsaw and we discussed the movement in a recent team meeting). The group gifted me a custom book stamp ("From the Library of Hannah Dunscombe") and beautiful bound book from Etsy that collected photographs from my time at work and library due date cards filled out by hand with well wishes.
I spent the following day pasting in a box load of additional work photos and memorabilia that I had stored up, so much so that the book is now practically bursting at the seams! Assembling all of those memories and preparing myself to treasure the happy times for years to come was such a lovely way to balance out my sadness of leaving behind some of the greatest coworkers I've ever had the pleasure to work with.
Also I did end up getting into Simmons! Three of my former managers very kindly wrote letters of recommendation for me as well, which helped me get some extremely helpful scholarships too :)
There are over a thousand forest fires currently burning in the US. Even on this farthest-East point in the US, as the winds have shifted we are seeing smog that obscures the sun and encases everything in an eery pink/orange cast. You can see in the photo of the trees on the other side of the pond that it looks like there is fog, but it's all smog.
On a more whimsical note, there has been a soccer ball stuck spinning round and round in the water flow at the base of this weir for the last month or so. Pretty impressive that it hasn't found its way out yet, even with some near flooding a week ago.
Unrelated but same evening: some moody photos from one of our back windows.
My grandfathers – both of whom grew up during the Great Depression – never paid for services they could do themselves for free (for better or worse). That continues to be a big theme in the Misura/Dunscombe family. I didn't have a professional cut my hair until fifth grade and have almost exclusively cut my own hair since high school (not recommended for people who prefer precision, but it does the job). For that matter, I've also never had my hair, makeup, nails, etc done professionally and our wedding will be no exception. Again, these are all things I can do myself ahead of time for free.
Since you can't exactly photograph your own wedding day though, we would like to hire a photographer for that. I am aware that (1) a good photographer can cost thousands of dollars and (2) I am leaving a good paying job to go back to school for the next two years, so wherever we can cut costs elsewhere counts! I've also never been in a photoshoot before but I do know how to use a camera and have photographed a number of weddings [for free]. So when thinking about any photography needed in the time leading up to us getting married, taking photos myself was an immediate "marriage" of two motivations: 'save money' and 'low-stakes practice'.
We installed my camera on a tripod, used bluetooth to make my phone a remote shutter release, and set up a timer. We took them at Round Top in my hometown, a public park that overlooks the valley and the Susquehanna River. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at Round Top hiking trails, having picnics with my family, and training during the cross country season – five years ago, Chris and I even had a pasta dinner there on the eve of my second marathon – so it felt like the perfect familiar spot. It was uncomfortably hot, sunny, and humid, but hopefully that doesn't come across in the photos.
I put some of our favorites here. And included some outtakes below.... :)
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.