the hospital street

Monday, June 30, 2014

I used to have dreams about him leaving me. Walking out and not looking back. I would wake up with a hard ball of panic in the pit of my stomach and let my heart beat it’s way back to normal. This was before we lived together, and usually I would be alone in my bed, and I would fumble for my phone to call him in the middle of the night. My voice would reach out for his in the dark and he would answer.

As we grow older and more twined around each other, the dreams slowed and then stopped. I can’t remember the last one I had. I suppose I just felt more certain, and my mind no longer needed to surface those insecurities in the night.

On Saturday I was sitting in our completely ordinary life. Steele was working overtime and I was sorting through old photos on my hard drive, watching an episode of House, and occasionally sending Steele a photo of himself as a scrawny seventeen year old. Then I got a text from him saying that he was having an allergic reaction and was going to the hospital. (For those of you who don’t know, he is deathly allergic to peanuts.) They had ordered a spicy Thai pizza at work and he had eaten a whole piece without knowing that there was a peanut sauce on it.

My heart started out okay. It was still and quiet as I moved around the house, shutting my computer and grabbing my keys, locking the door behind me and running to the car. On the drive it became less calm, speeding up in my chest as I sailed through green lights, cursing at cars driving the speed limit. Every time I got stuck at a red light it dropped and without the car moving I was left with the sound of my breathing and that choking feeling you get in your throat when you’re about to cry.

My mind caught on the oddest things. Things like, what would I say to a cop if I were to be pulled over right now. Do cops let you off when you’re rushing to the hospital? My mind insisted on pointing out to me how strange it was that there were three blue cars lined up together. Or it began wondering about the life of the man in the black truck in front of me, the one who was driving approximately 15 miles an hour.

By the time I was on Williams, the hospital street, I had gotten another text from Steele that said he was fine, that it was a minor reaction and he just had to take a few pills and stay there for a bit to make sure nothing went wrong. My throat still choked and my heart still raced, but as my feet slapped against the parking lot of the emergency room, I realized that I had never really expected the worst. I just didn’t believe it was possible. And that day, it wasn’t.

Maybe as we grow older, my prior insecurities will be replaced. And it won’t be him leaving me that I will fear, but these things I can’t predict or change or stop. These are the concerns of a family, of an adult, who is aware of the worst scenarios, even when she never really expects them to pass.

the bread baker: a photo essay

Saturday, June 28, 2014

This post is in collaboration with the wonderful Melina Bishop, who crafted both the organza apron and linen dress and conceptualized the event. They were a final piece for one of her classes this past semester, and she decided to show a photograph along with the garments. I happily agreed to be her photographer and we spent one rainy afternoon photographing this story. (I cannot say how grateful I was for the stormy light that day. It set the tone for the whole shoot and was perfect.) 

morning walk

Friday, June 27, 2014

Since I haven't needed to get up and go straight to work for most of the past week, I decided it was about time I went for a morning walk. So today I grabbed my camera, got some coffee, and took some morning photos. 

I'm hoping to make this a new ritual. It's good for me to have something to do and get out of the house right when I get up. Keeps me from binge watching netflix in a sleepy haze. 

our messy house

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today I was mixing up the tiniest batch of cookies, looking around my kitchen, wondering what to blog about. (I'm trying to be on my one-a-day game here) And I kept looking. And started thinking about how I needed to make the bed. And clean the kitchen. And definitely clean the bathroom.

So instead I decided to photograph everything in it's natural state. Because real life is not always as beautiful as cleaned up and spruced up life. Just incase anyone needed a reminder. Clothes get draped over (not into) hampers. Beds go unmade. Dishes sit in the sink and don't get put away when they're clean. Drawers get pulled out, and bags get left on chairs where they don't belong. And the french press never gets cleaned.

But the keyword in the title of this post is ours. This is our house, and that alone is enough to make it a sanctuary. Even when it's messy and cluttered. Even when it needs a sweep and a scrub and there's some holes in the wall to patch. Even when I can never manage to do the dishes in the sink.

I'm grateful to have it. And now I'm off to clean that bathroom ;)

the book heart: no. 8 (extremely loud & incredibly close)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My boots were so heavy that I was glad there was a column underneath us. How could such a lonely person have been living so close to me my whole life? If I had known, I would have gone up to keep him company. Or I would have made some jewelry for him. Or told him hilarious jokes. Or given him a private tambourine concert.

You guys, I know I’m so far behind on this one. And lets be honest, I picked up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer because I know I’m ‘supposed’ to read it. (Best Seller, misc. Awards, movie adaption, etc.) For whatever reason, all of those things usually put me off a book. My finding it feels less organic. (Which is probably why I have yet to read the Goldfinch.) But, I’m glad I indulged in this one.

For one, it’s funny. I love that Oskar’s (the main character.) term for being sad is ‘heavy boots’ It sums up the emotion in such a perfect and straightforward way. It’s weird. It wraps up multiple stories into one. Which is a style of novel that I didn’t really like until recently. (Really, until I read the wonderful History of Love.)

In fact, I couldn’t get the thought that Extremely Loud reminded me so much of The History of Love (The Book Heart No. 5) out of my head. The stories weren’t the same, but they had so many similar elements and feelings. And then, lo and behold, I discovered that the authors are married! So interesting.

I realize we’re getting farther away from the book now. Please go read it. Or maybe you’re actually up on the times, and you already have, and can rejoice in the comments section!

Leave some recommendations down there too! I’m reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett right now. And am about to go pick up The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit from the library. 

(The book heart is a place books go when they move you. It’s a place for you to keep all of those books, all of those plots and stories and all of those little moments. This is a series chronicling the books that have become a part of me. I hope you'll enjoy, and that maybe these books can become a part of you as well.) 

reflections on a year of adventure films

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last June, right around this time, Steele, Ali and I took a road trip back to Colorado. I impulsively decided to shoot video footage and compile a little video. The next month we went on our Europe trip and I made another small video. I really enjoyed having them and made the decision to continue making a monthly video for the rest of the year. And while they're not exactly adventures (Keeping with the "adventure" title was more for continuity) they still make me happy. Although we could argue that life is a big adventure. 

Some of the months are obviously shorter. There were definitely periods of time when I wasn't as inspired to shoot, but looking back I'm so glad I've got even a small video for each month. 

My goal for the future of this little project is to spend more time on putting together a coherent video. Instead of a video every month, I'm going to make one per season, but put more planning into it. I would love to shoot with a real camera (i.e., not my iPhone, which is what the past years videos have been shot with.) But that kind of hinges on getting funds to buy a new camera, or finding someone who will let me borrow theirs. 

It may be kind of strange that the year for these videos will start in June, but I think it's fitting. Summer is a season of change, of new inspirations. (And adventures!) So, below are all the videos from the past year laid out in one place. (Just incase you want to binge watch ;) And here's to a new year! 

Summer Adventure No. 1
June 2013
From Oregon to Colorado
Music : 'Used to Be' Beach House

Summer Adventure No. 2
July 2013
Music : 'Amsterdam' Daughter

Summer Adventure No. 3
August 2013
Portland, OR
Music : 'Long Haul' Voxtrot

Fall Adventure No. 1
September 2013
Portland, OR
Music : 'Sea Stones' Small Sur

Fall Adventure No. 2
October 2013
Portland, OR
Music : 'On the Esplanade'  Julian Plenti

Fall Adventure No. 3
November 2013
Portland, OR (+ Lake Oswego!)
Music : 'L.A. Beach' Radiation City

Winter Adventure No. 1
December 2013
Portland, OR to Trillium Lake
Music : 'Mortons Fork' Typhoon

Winter Adventure No. 2
January 2014
Portland, OR
Music : 'Half Light I' Arcade Fire

Winter Adventure No. 3
February 2014 (This one is mislabeled in the video as February 2013)
Portland, OR
Music : 'Holland' Sufjan Stevens

Spring Adventure No. 1
March 2014
Portland, OR
Music : 'Overnight' Chilly Gonzales

Spring Adventure No. 2
April 2014
Portland, OR to Guemes Island, WA
Music : 'Silver Hands' Alamedas

Spring Adventure No. 3
May 2014
Portland, OR (+ the Oregon coast!)
Music : 'It's Real' Wild Ones

the silliest noodles

Monday, June 23, 2014

I don't know exactly when, but somehow I have taken to calling Steele 'Noodle'

It began first with our mice, Frances and Quincy. For whatever reason I started calling them Noodles, and it just snowballed from there. 

And it's stuck. So now Steele has become accustomed to being called Noodle and has started calling me a Noodle and it's all quite possibly the silliest thing in the world, but what can you do? Sometimes things like this just happen, is what I say. 

So I present: two Noodles being silly (in the month of May):

new work, fresh growth

Saturday, June 21, 2014

You guys! I printed some new work. And not just new work, but the start of a new body of work. It feels amazing to write that, even though I know logically it's pretty meaningless right now since I have officially one piece 'finished' and a second piece hasn't been started. Still though, it kind of feels like when I pulled the succulent above my kitchen sink down to water it the other day.

Here. I'll set the scene. I got this succulent from Goose Hollow when I was working there, it was a dead-ish plant that had been thrown out. (More trouble than it was worth.) But I grabbed it and planted it, certain that I could make it thrive. And… it didn't die, at first. It didn't grow, it just sat there dutifully in it's little pot, doing okay. I moved it to my above the sink shelf and all was fine. And then it started dying. Just a little bit on the tips. And then one whole leaf died, and I plucked it off and put it back up there. I started watering it more. But it was mostly for show, I pretty much thought I would have to throw it out eventually.

Anyways, a few days ago I pulled it down to water it and there was new growth! Bright green new skin growing up! That's kind of how I feel right now. Man, aren't you glad you read this blog ;)

I printed it for a critique that meets monthly with some of the Newspace Volunteers. You guys! Critiques! Turns out, they're the best. I walked out feeling so good. The chance to talk about my work is so helpful and so nice and so reassuring. Reassuring in the way that I felt like, for once in the past few weeks, I knew I was on the right track.

So, moral of the story is: print work. Bring work into the world. And have other people look about it. And discuss it with them and with yourself. Make it real.

Above is a small section of this new piece. Once I have time to take a better image (this week) I will post an update with a better photograph. 

a goodbye haiku

Friday, June 20, 2014

I’m sitting in my half-empty cubicle* on my last day of work at the job I’ve held for six months now. First, for those of who don’t know, I will tell you (vaguely) about my job. I work in customer service. I answer phone calls and enter orders, listen to angry customers, solve their problems and tell them their problems can’t be solved.

This post could be a lot of things. It could be a rant, a list of things not to say to that customer service representative on the other line. It could be about realizing that humans suck. That people are horrible and mean and rude and indifferent. (Most of all, indifferent.) Believe me, I have written that post many times in my mind.

But that’s not all this job is, and it would be too easy for me to lean on that. So instead, this post could be about all the ways I’ve become a better person from working here. It could be about learning patience, about realizing how many people there are with their own stories and their own little worlds. It could be about how the kindness of one person, even if it’s just a single polite phone call, can set the tone for a day. It could be about accepting your situation, about letting harsh words and bad feelings wash over you, about staying calm and solid.

But the crappy days exist too and as much as I would like to be inspiring, write things that bolster you up and make you appreciate your situation, I’m not here for that either. I’m here to try to peel the surfaces back and try to understand what it means to lose this job.

The truth is, this job has contributed greatly to the small amounts of depression I’ve felt the past few months. It was killing my soul little by little and making me want to writhe out of my own skin. That’s a dramatic statement, but these last few months this has consumed most of my life. Emotions are dramatic. Also I refuse to beat down my feelings into a small manageable sentence like: I was sad.

I am not meant for this. The funny thing is, when I was graduating, I said, “I just want a job. Any job. Not even art related. I just want to go to work, and come home, and have it just be a job.” Well, poof! I got that, and I hated it. I need to think. To make things. To write. To work with other people. Collaboration, I found I missed so much. To discuss.

It is hard to give up a steady paycheck, the prospect of healthcare (I was only a temp and therefore didn’t qualify for healthcare) and the routine of work. But if I stayed, all the best parts of me would have surely died. So here I am. On the precipice. I don’t know what’s ahead. I don’t know how I will make money or survive. I only know I couldn’t survive here, and so I’m leaving.

It's a day for celebrations.

*on break, of course. 

spring adventure no. 3

Monday, June 16, 2014

You guys!! This is the last adventure video of the year. A year ago I was filming the first Summer Adventure video. And now here we are, a year later. I'm going to be posting a longer musings post on this fact, but for now, enjoy this little guy. 

I was going to spend more time on him, I swear, plan something out. But then life happened. And so here it is: a real life adventure. This time featuring more friends, happy sunshine, sleepy Steele, the Oregon coast, and the road, as always. 

Also music by Wild Ones, which is a band Julia introduced me to by taking me to one of their shows. It feels appropriately happy and yet end-of-the-line sort of. 


being the captain

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's almost midnight and I'm up editing photos. 

My eyes are drying out, the coffee in my cup has cooled, and I can feel that pressing from the inside of my skull that means it's time to lay down. Even so, it feels good to be in control of this computer. (A desktop at Newspace, not my tiny 13" MacBook) It feels like being in command of a ship I know how to sail. Just the constant rumbling of the background music, and the slow click through an enlarged image as I remove dust (something I've sorely neglected in my own "practice" lately, but these images are getting ready for print, hence the late night.)

It's a nice feeling to be good at something. To know little things and see little echoes of your past selves in a single action. 

I bet you guys didn't think Photoshop could get to metaphorical ;)

Here's to enjoying being the captain of our own ships. 

debt owed: was it worth it?

Monday, June 2, 2014

I just got a letter from OCAC, asking for donations. Unfortunately my monthly loan payment of $364.00 will hinder me in making any. Now I’m not here today to be bitter. (Though there are still many moments of bitterness.) I’m going to try to answer that question anyone who has ever made a student loan payment has asked themselves: was it worth it?

Was it worth it? Was the trade fair? When you look at it all on paper, my degree for $50,000 of debt: no, it wasn’t. It wasn’t worth it. Nothing is worth this much debt.

But when you dig deeper, you start pulling up that murky substance underneath, and it’s not clear anymore what it was worth or wasn’t worth. Sometimes I’m not even sure what I got in return. Sometimes I’m sure I made a bargain. Let me be honest for a moment here. The degree means nothing, really. It doesn’t mean I’m a good artist. It doesn’t guarantee me a job. But the people, the community, the act of pushing and being pushed for four straight years? That means everything. That cannot be translated into $50,000. It’s not even on the same tier.

I have written pages and pages in my journal, gotten into endless debates with my friends, my mom, with Steele, about if it was worth it. I struggle with it still. And I know my answer to the question will change throughout my life, as I carry this debt through. Right now the reality of it is sharp and jarring and it’s hard to reconcile it with a post-graduate life where all the things I worked so hard at, the things that were worth $50,000, are behind me. Afterwards, you have to take all the things you learned and work them back into your life and not let yourself forget them. You have to hold the connections strong. Remember to push yourself. And of course, there’s always the walk through at the art museum to make you feel like it was worth it. There’s always that moment where you get to explain to your mom the difference between modern and contemporary.

OCAC is a sort of home to me still. A part of me will always belong there and though it’s not exactly a fair trade for $50,000, at the root of it all I find that it doesn’t matter. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a freeing way. It doesn’t matter because the path I chose is behind me. It’s not longer a question of if it was worth it. I feel, almost without fail, that I never could have chosen anything different. Not that those possibilities don’t exist, I know they do. Sometimes I imagine the parallel universes where I chose differently, but the reality remains—I am here—this is now. The only thing to contemplate now is the way forward. 


This series is not a perfect view of how to deal with your student loans. It's my documentation of my own experience with it.