12/26/2018

2018, 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively.

The first two, I meant to write about specifically, in relation to each other. Then I thought about the other two images, and decided to look back.

The photograph taken in 2015 is not all that different from the one taken in 2018. I almost feel like I look older in the 2015 version. I am almost certain I took it after I was crying. When I was in San Francisco (where the 2018 photo was taken, in my airbnb), I was sort of channeling that same energy. It’s using the same 35mm camera that Caiti sold me for $20 in 2015, and a lens she loaned me for the SF trip. This was taken before I shot Dan and Erin’s wedding, waking up in a new city where I’d never been, having taken myself all the way there alone.

All these pictures are about solitude. While mildly cliche, it’s true: the photograph in 2015 was taken as a testament to my “ability to be alone.” My mom told me often growing up that she wanted to raise her kids to be able to sustain themselves– financially, sure, but also socially. I can take myself out to dinner or a movie or shopping or some park or art gallery, and be just fine.

But christ, how lonely. That’s what the photograph in 2015 reflects, which I must’ve taken after the umpteenth time my boyfriend in Idaho had dumped me over the phone. Or when I realized he wouldn’t call me back. I also wanted to photograph what I thought was a cold sore for a long time (and turned out to be impetigo).

The loneliness leeched on me in that same way. It’s a blunt and sort of clunky metaphor, but that was the character of a lot of things then: my image-making practice (there are still many dust spots in this picture & there were three adjustment layers when I reopened the 2015 file) and how I carried myself, for two things. The 2018 image, though sleeker, makes me feel as though I have only become better at embodying loneliness. I trap myself in the entire frame, suspended in a glass jar like a specimen– under the guise of a fashionable portrait, so no one bothers me about malingering in my loneliness. The aforementioned ex boyfriend said I would do anything, work as hard as I could, just so I could be left alone to do my own thing. He gets more wrong every day.

The 2016 and 2017 images are other documentations of solitude, in this same way. Though different from 2015 and 2018 they also have odd similarities to each other. 2016, I took after photographing myself nude on a Pratt-issued twin XL bed, sideways, looking at the camera. This was sort of the reclamation of (clothed) self because nude self-portraits, more like normal self-portraits, are not my forte. Having said that, the 2017 image was preceded by other nude self-portraits; however, those are faceless. Headless. I also omitted the nude self-portrait I took on New Year’s Day 2018, though they actually work pretty well.

Can anyone else tell how bad I am at describing self-portraits? Why do I only photograph myself while sad? 2017 is the only image not using a mirror; I set up the Mamiya 7ii rental from Pratt on the ledge in my room I was renting from Anastazia in Windsor Terrace and turned on the self-timer. In 2017 and 2018 I am looking right at the lens. But what am I actually looking at? Or, in certain cases, what am I looking away from? What do we take with us each year? What engages or disengages?

No clue. I don’t have a whole lot to look away from at the moment. I have finally garnered enough momentum to vault myself into a new and different way of life, which is what I do. I’m better at exposing, I’m decent at doing things alone. I don’t know if I cry less or more. I have managed to remain in living spaces that are made up mostly of honeyed wooden floors.



11/14/2018

Last night at work was rough. In a moment tinged with exhaustion, melancholy, and general hopelessness, I turned around from the triple sink and heard Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” play. I’m listening to it as I write. 

In that moment, I flashed back to November of 2016, my first shift at the Chelsea location, a Friday night where we stayed until 2am (normally we’d be done by 12) because the two people training me couldn’t figure out how to balance the cash drawer. I remember being asked to sweep outside the front area while that song BLASTED over the speakers and Seamus, the first person to train me, danced around the back. I remember Seamus a few shifts after that, telling off a disconcerted customer who I’d given wrong information to because I was brand new, saying, “OKAY, THANKS, BYE!” I remember feeling like a part of a real hardworking team.

The company I work for is different now. We have a required playlist at every store. We were only playing the playlist I made in early 2017 (”CLOSE THE STORE” is its title) because I had been at work for 12 hours. The store was finally closed and I was very done with the the required playlist. Thinking of myself then, as I sit here now, I find it funny that I so often wish I could go back to the non-entity I was when I first started. I’m not going to flatter myself and say I am essential to operations but they saw promise in me and promoted me twice within 18 months. Now, I manage. Now, I lead. Now, I do stupid dances and sing bits of the song from the LEGO movie (“Everything Is Awesome!”) and Vine clips, to try and cheer myself up, while my staff members look at me funny. I have made some semblance of an impact. I’m still part of a hardworking team, I still feel protected. 

Also, my life is in fact better now. I took this picture in Windsor Terrace when I lived there last year. I have so many pictures that look like this but I can remember almost exactly where every one was taken. I could probably walk you there and point directly to it, almost every picture.  

But, this light was one of the only comforts I had in that neighborhood: the Prospect Expwy overpass at sunset, the big bed that took up the whole room, peanut butter sandwiches when I’d come home from work at 1am, 2am, 3am if I was unlucky (or went for a beer), sometimes with ice cream in my hair. I rushed, from everything, to everything. I had $50 every week, I was asking my boss to buy us Popeye’s at work. I didn’t slow down until I went home after I graduated from Pratt, for maybe four or five days. I haven’t put on makeup to get tips at work in months, and that alone feels nice.

I did roll out of bed this morning and long for writing papers instead of organizing a storefront, but, really, the grass is always greener, and at least for the time being, I’m glad I’ve found something I’m pretty good at. I think in the next life I will look back on this and remember the merits of this job, remember making kids excited about sprinkle cookies, making couples happy because I’ll split their milkshake into two cups for them, being the first person people see when they are getting their morning coffee. I’ll put my life into perspective, remembering the gratitude I feel for a customer asking me how I am (instead of just barking at me); I will remember where I came from. The pictures are part of this too, of course, but it’s hard to discount what I have spent so much time doing these past two years.



10/28/2018


As soon as I get to the publish point, every single time, I notice something else I can change about the image.

A lot of the time I am worried that I’m losing my touch with image editing. I’m not, it’s just coming back to me a little bit later. All that takes is practice. You’ll be seeing more photos here.

I am listening to game 5 of the World Series as I write this. It’s been hard for me to stay excited about my team, which sounds like a travesty (in a lot of ways, it is). I think that requires practice too. It’s not so much that I’ve had trouble taking care of myself, but more so that I’ve maybe been too forgiving with myself. I think practice and discipline are what I need, going forward. Practice, discipline, and some more crisp images like this one.

But who knows! In the meantime here is a picture of a dead thing, no surprise here. The depth makes me happy, and I was able to get some nice gestures among the branches. Took a bit of pacing. Took some deep breaths high up a mountain I know well. I’ve been trying to come back to that calming place lately. This dead tree, if you can imagine, helps.


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