12 for 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

By now, I've written a few essays on 2014. Each of them felt stupid, too glossy, or too sad. I kept writing the paragraphs and feeling a pit growing in my stomach and then deleting them. 2014 wasn't an easy year. It felt lonely. Big and small and the same time. Growing up is hard, I already knew that, but it never gets easier. Being accountable to yourself, your relationships, your passions, it's overwhelming at times. I feel like I'm constantly breaking out of my skin and growing into it. 

There were happy parts too though, a few trips with friends and to visit friends. The pale blue and grey sky everyday.  The calmness of building a home here with Steele. The tiny flame of a new project, which is being fed slowly. 

I could give you an entire account of 2014. But, my memories aren't that vivid. I try to isolate them and it just never happens in quite the right way. So below is a journal entry from the middle of the year. If I could sum 2014 up, this would be how:

June 9, 2014

Tonight I'm feeling content in my small life, in my home at night. I guess I wanted to write about that before I lost it.

This isn't the stuff of big stories—doing laundry in a dank and muddy laundry room (laundry basement), cleaning out cupboards and rearranging the shelf above the fridge. Steele's back is pulled so he just sits while I putter about the kitchen. This isn't dramatic. The way we do yoga in our tiny living room, barely enough space for us to each spread out, and writhe into the positions. We're not graceful. 

This isn't beautiful—not in the way you think of as beautiful. It's beautiful in the way every single day seeps into your bones and makes you who you are. And even is this is utterly quiet and small—and not even in an outwardly poetic way—even if it's a meager offering at a beautiful life—it's mine. It is mine and every second of it—the way our bodies tangle on the yoga mats, the shadows on the outside of our house from the porch latticework, Steele's open sleeping mouth, my thighs and breasts rubbed down with lotion after my shower—all of the tiny seconds are seeping into me. Saturating me, building me up layers at a time, until I resemble a human—a beautiful human. Who is made deeply and richly beautiful by all of these tiny still nights. 

And now, images, by month. Here we go: 

January, on the exit ramp to my then day job

February, down our street during a snowstorm

March, evening tea with Steele, on our porch

April, on Guemes island

May, an empty bread pan on our kitchen table
June, picking strawberries on Sauvie Island

July, catching water shadows in Washington

August, the last visit to my childhood home in Colorado

September, the vaux swifts in NW Portland

October, an underexposed self-portrait in our home

November, a moment from an ordinary day

December, catching the last light on my way home from work

rearranging the bricks

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hi guys. I'm about to get on a plane to Colorado. The plane keeps getting further and further delayed and as it is, we will be rolling into Conifer around 4 a.m. or later. My life as of late has been fast paced and full to the brim, sometimes full of white noise. This space has felt it. My heart has felt it. My bones have felt it. 

I won't say that it will get better or that I will change, because that implies that there is something wrong with right now. And to be honest, there is nothing really wrong with right now. I am aware of all of the things in my life that need shifting, and I will shift them. Not change them, but shift them back into the places they need to be. I'll remove some bricks from my load and add others. I'll sort the order and put new bricks on top. Isn't that all life is? Rearranging, sifting, sorting, shuffling. I'm beginning to understand that there are certain things about me, about how I approach the world, that will never change (even if I wish I could change them.) And so instead of hacking at these bricks I'm carrying, trying to shape them into something else, I will re-stack them so they're manageable for the road forward. 

Now isn't this all cryptic. That's what I've been missing. Now for something solid and real, just look at that image up there. How much more solid can you get? It's been a while since I sat in front of the camera. And this was sitting--literally, I was on the floor. It's fitting, I think. I was scrambling around trying to get into the right position. I shot this frame, looked at it and saw something I liked. I kept shooting with the intention that I would get the same look but have my body slightly titled, but it just didn't happen. Sometimes (a lot of the time) the first photograph is the one I end up using. There's some amount of truth to it. I'm posing, but it's before I know how it will look. Before I'm trying to tuck my hair this way and bend my elbow that way. Even with the flaws, the image comes out looking more natural than the 30 I shot after. (This is a problem you don't get with film--no chance to self-correct, so every image comes out in that slightly naive way.) 

Now the passengers that have arrived in Portland are departing the plane I'm about to board. Now I get to board that plane, go up into the night sky, and touch down in the dead of the night. 

On home. 

a story for seven years

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yesterday was our seven year anniversary. Seven Years. I just? Don't even know what to say at this point? Actually that's not really true, there are so many things I could say, but most of them belong inside of my relationship. I didn't write up an essay in advance or anything but I will say that year seven has been our best and that I've never felt more certain. 

Below is a short piece of writing I did about our nightly routine last week. It's strange, writing about this normal routine ended up being strangely poignant. I guess that's the everyday for you.  The photograph is a tintype we had made yesterday. We look so serious, I promise we are completely the opposite in every day life. Silliness is one of the very best things about our relationship. 

December 4, 2014

Every night after Steele and I have decided it's time for bed we go about our nightly routines. For him that means locking all the doors, plugging in his phone, talking off his shirt and getting into bed. I lope around the apartment. I always wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on face lotion. Sometimes  in weird orders. Oh, I take out my contacts. Okay, usually this is how it goes: I get into the bathroom, decided I won't bother with any of it, that I'll just take out my contacts. So I take them out. But then my mouth feels gross, so I decided I have to brush my teeth. So I turn the water on, but then it just seems silly to not wash my face, so I do. And then the moisturizer is the easiest part. While I'm doing all this, Steele is in bed. Then I'll brush my hair, go into the bedroom and get changed into my pjs (clean undies comfy shirt, sleep pants.) And then I turn all the lights off. 

Then comes the best part. the part where I slip into bed with Steele. His arm goes under my head and we cuddle and talk about the day, the next day, funny things. Sometimes we play a song. December is especially special because we have our advent candles that we burn down every day. So we can do that and see each other in the candle light. It's very romantic, as it were. 

Sometimes things happen differently. Sometimes I get my pjs on before my bathroom routine, or sometimes I make Steele wait to get into bed so that I can get in first. Sometimes, like tonight, Steele stays out with friends and I come home early and lay quiet until he gets here. (For the record, this is not sad, I like being lone at the house. I like to be quiet and still and calm by myself sometimes. I like to have ownership of the dark rooms from time to time.)

Those nights are sweet in a different way. They make me appreciate the other nights so much. They make me realize how utterly profound it is to have someone waiting in bed for you while you wash your face and brush your teeth. How wonderful it is to be held while you fall asleep. 

in which I get kind of rambly about art shows

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sometimes, lately, when I'm taking to a someone at a party that I don't know, I feel like I sound like I have it all together. Which is a ridiculous thought. (Those people should read this blog, because then they would know that I definitely don't have it all together.)

Tonight I participated in a Pop-Up show at Newspace. Every month the past gallery show gets taken down on a Tuesday, and the new show doesn't get hung until Wednesday. So one of the volunteers, Gwen, decided to do a Pop-Up show for Tuesday night only. I signed up to help out before hand. So today I got there at 4 and the gallery was completely empty. But then, over the next 2 hours roughly 50 photographers showed up and claimed a spot, hung their pieces.

I hung two new pieces. They're smaller prints then I would want for a larger show, and they're the first iterations (I have to think of them as rough drafts.) but here they are. And you know, I didn't have any long conversations with anyone about them, but people looked at them. People looked at them. And you know, read them and things. And I got a few nice comments. (Someone said they were fresh!) They existed in the real world, at least for a night.

I know I must have said this a thousand times, but it really is so wonderful to get work on the wall and have people talk about it. You can overthink things and over think things and over think things when they're alone in your head, and putting those things on the wall is so validating. Things, you know? It was also so nice to talk to other people there and enjoy the conversation. It was a lot of young people, a lot of volunteers, and even though the show wasn't perfectly hung with matching title tags, you could feel the enthusiasm.

More about this new body of work soon. More words. Better images. I just wanted to get this out there before I forgot about it.

So now I'm sitting on the couch eating off-brand Cheerios out of the box and watching the last season of the Gilmore Girls. I definitely don't have it all together. But I'm learning, I'm trying, that's all the dream ever was.

pine-needle air

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I guess it's time to write about life and junk? Things like, what I'm grateful for and how pine-needely the air at the tree farm was today. 

I have some photos for you all, these black and white tree farm shots, but you know, I have to get the right words to go in front of them and all I can think about it how it feels like not much has happened in the past year, but then I compare this time last year to now and it all feels so different. (How's that for a run-on sentence for you?)

So, anyway, here goes nothing:

I'm thankful for. . . 

Light (always No.1)
Steele & our relationship
Run-on sentences (also comma overuse) 
My brother
And my parents
And my people (my people)
And all the people everywhere (you!)
Oh, people
I'm thankful for books
The ability to express myself (somewhat)
Also so thankful for the Gilmore Girls 

Okay! Now for the Tree Farm. Last year it was all snowy. Today it was all clear and sunny and bustling (Saturday morning tree rush) Hence the monochrome, I can't deal with sunny saturated color mostly. And I was not as prepared as the professional photographer that brought a strobe kit for some fill light ;) 

blogpost no.2, or how Gilmore Girls relates to my BFA thesis

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I took this screen shot a few weeks ago. A little background incase you are not Gilmore Girls literate: This comes from Season 2, Episode 8, in which Lorelai has found out the inn she runs is going to be closing and as such, she feels like she's leaving her home behind. 

She's leaving this place filled with so many memories, a Memory Home. What a funny phrase. I had never really heard it used in this context. (When you Google Memory Home, a lot of retirement and alzheimer homes come up.) It is a particularly striking phrase to me, for if you don't remember:

This is my BFA Thesis Paper. If you don't mind me using an extended metaphor: Memory is the thread that wraps around all my work and binds it together. This thesis, and otherwise, other later work. It binds the everyday moments to the poignant ones. It binds the cell phone pictures to the photographs made with 120 film. It binds a to-do list to a letter to a journal entry to a short story to a personal essay. It builds me up, it is the framework for my existence. 


Anyway. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that phrase, Memory Home, in my Netflix subtitles, which watching my most recent TV obsession. Lorelai and I have different Memory Homes. Her is a physical place, a place that she works at and is rooted in. And while place is important for me to (a literal home is a beautiful thing) my Memory Homes are the photographs I take. Or rather, my photographs are the homes for my memories. (Is this getting a little complicated?)

I love that this phrase appears in Gilmore Girls. I love that this is a concept that we all deal with, whether we think about it or not. I love that memory lives in the backgrounds of our lives, and records all of our separate moments, and brings them together for something that resembles a life lived, a home. 

At the end of my Thesis proposal I write: By photographing something am I allowing myself to forget it, rather than remember it? That question still puzzles and unsettles me. But for better or for worse photography and memory are intertwined, and my photographs will remain the homes for my memories. 

*I feel like it should also be noted that this is the first post about my thesis since my thesis ended. Feels somehow monumental. 

a note about those fall leaves

Monday, November 17, 2014

Portland couldn't make up it's mind this year. The leaves turned and started to fall, but the sun still came out and the temperatures were still high. It was still sunny and even though we tried, the extra blanket on the bed was just too hot. And then all at once we had about a week of nice clouded skies and that cool fall breeze.

About a week, until the air got winter-cold and the skies cleared and were filled with that harsh winter  sunlight (that sunlight that's always low in the sky and does nothing to warm you with the wind whipping at your nose and ears) 

Now the trees are bare and the skies are still clear and sunny, the kind of weather I wanted to leave in Colorado. I'm looking forward to that blanket of clouds, whenever it comes back. 

a list of blogposts I was planning to write

Monday, November 3, 2014

First, lets say a little word of thanks that half-and-half comes in hot pink cartons sometimes. (Go Alpenrose!) 

Okay moving on to business. 

The past weeks have been that strange combination of busy and not busy. You know the kind. Where in the moment, you feel busy, weighted with stuff to do. But then at night, in bed, when you're looking back on the day, you can't quite remember what it was that was weighing on you. 

Either way. 

There have been several blog posts I've been meaning to write. Below are the cliff notes versions. 

No.1 A post about bike transportation and how it makes me appreciate the world so much more--fall leaves, and the wind hitting my cheeks, and the silky puddles. (Also just appreciate that phrase for a second: silky puddles.)

No.2 A post about a screen shot taken from a Gilmore Girls episode and how it relates to my BFA thesis and, more overarchingly, my photographic work as a whole. (Yes this is real and will be happening.)

No.3 A post about the car accident (!) I got in. Spoiler alert: I'm okay. 

No.4 A post about atheism. (Actually I always mean to write this post and I can never get the words right and I always give up so there are a million drafts sitting on my computer and who knows if this will ever happen.)

No.5 A new set of film images. (No, I have to finish shooting my roll of film first.)

No.6 A post about my job. (I always want to write this post, so so much, but I try to refrain from talking directly about my job on this here little blog. So suffice it to say that I sometimes feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, I sometimes feel on top of the world, I sometimes wish I was still in school, and I sometimes wish I could skip to the end of this "book" (bad metaphor for life, you guys) and read how it all ends up.)

So lets see. I will definitely write blogpost number 2, maybe write blogpost number 3 (it won't be as cool and dramatic as if I'd written it the day it happened like I meant to), will hopefully one day write blogpost number 4, even if it takes me years. 5 will happen in due time, calm down. Number 1 can happen after number 5, there should be a great bike image on that roll of film. And number 6, well, we already talked about that didn't we?

Happy Monday everyone. I hope the rest of your night involves cookies, maybe a nice night shower, and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls. 

the morning blue hour

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This morning my alarm went off, and went off, and I kept turning it off, pressing snooze, and sinking back into bed. Steele got up to take a shower and I wrapped all of the blankets around me and fell back into 5 minute stretches of sleep while the alarm blared. 

The days are getting shorter and the mornings are getting darker. The pre-dawn light coming in our bedroom windows turns everything a pale blue. It's the morning blue hour. I think it's even more delicious than the evening blue hour. 

I have a problem getting up in the morning. But it's hard to feel guilty about it when my bed is soft and cool, and Steele has turned on the heat and the hot air is blowing around, and the pale blue dawn light is coming through the curtains. 

It's hard to feel guilty about that. 

through the mamiya C330, pt. ii

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ingredients for today

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ingredients for today:

Half-sleep cuddles from Steele. 
Biking in the pouring rain to get to work. 
Bon Iver coming through the headphones on the rainy ride. 
(The only way to bear a windy rainy bike ride.)
And later, a meandering bike ride home. (Not as rainy.) (Stop for pictures.) 
And even later, a bike ride to the library at dusk, this time with Steele. 
Quickly followed by Chinese food, 
And a few (four?) episodes of How I Met Your Mother
Two glass of wine
Followed by the sounds of the heater (the heater!) kicking on, 
And the occasional page turn by Steele, reading the Hunger Games. (Mockingjay, in which we witness Katniss suffer from PTSD, but that's another blog post altogether.)
And lastly, the sounds of my keys on the keyboard, as I put the words together into something that makes sense, something that builds the day and makes it what it was. 

A day. 

through the mamiya C330

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh Mamiya C330, you heavy beast. 

I have a box of 220 roll film given to me for free, (which I very much appreciate! Thanks Mark!) and it takes me forever to finish a roll. So long. There are 24 exposures in a roll of 220 (hence 220 vs 120) for those of you who know/care about these matters. Black and white hasn't really been my jam lately, so it took my quite a while to finish shooting two rolls of film. A few months. Half a year. Details, details. 

Either way, what we have here is time travel. Pure and simple. This is an extremely image heavy post. I don't do too many of these anymore, but I really wanted to keep these together. (Though I have many more images from these two rolls of film, so I may have to do a part 2.) If you don't mind, let me know how it sits with you in the comments. Image heavy posts yay or nay?

And now, let me transport you to this time last year to now: 

Until next time, beasty.