San Francisco on film

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The colors were everywhere. Bits of coral, the blue of the sky, the warm hue of sand, the cool grey of the dense fog that engulfed Adrienne’s neighborhood each night. The smells were different- hot asphalt, whiffs of delicious foods not found in Montana, the sterile yet slight omnipresent stink of public transit, of thousands of bodies inhabiting the same small train cars day in and day out. San Francisco felt like a city that was in the midst of a lot of change. Money and youth everywhere, and yet none of it to be found for many.

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We walked through the park, surrounded by massive eucalyptus trees, before breakfast. Logan took a picture of poop in the park with my film camera because he said I was being stingy with my film. We smelled the rich earth and the flora and saw red wing blackbirds and ravens before making our way to the beach.

The beach was engulfed in fog that was slowly retreating, and we walked to meet the waves, letting the edges of the Pacific ocean lap at our feet. The sand felt good in between my toes and I watched as one man in a dark coat walked up and over one of the dunes. The beach felt melancholy and full of gloom, but I loved it. Such spaces are great for letting thoughts wander and unravel and then pulling them back to have new, strange, and better ideas and thoughts.

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We went to the Mission District, which Adrienne had warned us was quickly becoming gentrified. Historically Latinx and Hispanic families have lived there, but as we got off BART we saw the inevitable results of gentrification. We walked a lot around that area and still heard plenty of Spanish, saw groups of school children and church groups outside churches with signs that read, “Jesus te ama”, and I hoped that the people who had been there would hold onto their apartments and stores and churches and habits, but I quietly knew that money and white people were probably sinking their teeth into the area and biting away at what hadn’t been theirs before.

In in the midst of our Mission ventures we found a beautiful, cramped Italian market. One wall was entirely devoted to hanging sausages and I felt myself growing hungry even though we had eaten quite recently. A beautiful wheel of Parmesan cheese sat staring at me and Logan pointed out some meats he had been searching for. We looked at the olive oils and the cans of tomatoes and all the pasta and left because if we didn’t leave soon we would buy meats and cheese that we had no room in our luggage for. We found a Brazilian mercado, and once inside I was the only one who wasn’t speaking Portuguese. People sipped coffee and around us were baskets full of Brazilian cooking ingredients, juices, and random odds and ends like deodorant or romance novels. Logan chatted with the barista and we left to go find a cool place to linger. We ended up at a dive bar with the right amount of sticky counters, grimy interiors, and dark corners and sat down. Adrienne joined us shortly after, and we talked and people watched.

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The rest of our trip was like that- full of lovely places but being quietly reminded that this was a city being inundated with money from tech firms and start ups and that things were shifting and maybe had been for a while. Regardless, we thoroughly enjoyed being able to see and do the things only cities can give you- art, diversity, busy crowds and the kaleidoscope of humanity that buzzes and bustles as each one of us carves out our own space in the world in whatever way we can.

The stuff dreams are made of

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San Francisco was busy, busy, busy. We got there over Pride Weekend and got to see the city in full celebration. We walked miles every day, ate amazing food, took MUNI and BART everywhere, and drank green tea smoothies in Chinatown while we tried to escape the heat. 35549259335_4fa04125fb_c35549260115_b21817f384_c34740464803_4894c8ed61_c35549260405_19c15f03ba_c35549260725_3d315156bb_c

We went to SFMOMA and saw Munch, Brancusi, Matisse, Calder, and many other modern art makers. It was marvelous to walk the halls and see Diego Riviera paintings and little Matisse landscapes close together.

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We stayed with Adrienne, whose penchant for art, travel, and food all made our visit even more wonderful! Going over old memories in the back of a Lyft or quietly chatting in front of a Munch painting about the past, about our futures, about nothing at all. It really is a beautiful thing to spend time with people from your past and see the both of you change and grow and become marvelous souls in your own rights.

Saturday night Logan and I perched on the cement seats at the Greek Theater in Berkeley and watched Nick Cave, that master of all things dark and deep, play, and I cried multiple times and reveled in that man’s ability to pluck sudden, intense emotions and reactions seemingly out of thin air. His voice was incredible, deep and sinuous and full of things I can’t verbalize or type effectively. I had salt on my face from my tears when we left and as the fog consumed everything around us in the amphitheater I felt so alive.

Amarillo everywhere

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Millions of little blooms hang down the edges of the sea cliffs all over this city right now and the colors are so blatantly optimistic and invigorating that after long, soul-tired walks I cannot help but feel a little better about things. It is interesting though that all of these blooms are rife with thorns. Nothing comes for free or without consequences.

Venice|Venezia

32014046303_a638e049b1_c32014046863_94263edfe6_c32828552745_56b5e19fa5_c32014047133_3fe9b21f8d_c32014048633_0b980fd619_c32014049353_f000a73690_cI learned a valuable lesson from a friend back in my undergrad. On a trip to Florence and Tuscany, my roommate/friend Lexi taught me, a photograph amateur, to always keep a folder of untouched, original files, and then make copies to edit. Thankfully, through this wisdom, even though my camera was horrible, I managed to salvage thousands of pictures of my “CONTRAST IS GOD” phase- where literally any photo, no matter what, was worthy of being destroyed through heavy contrast and manipulation. I cringe internally thinking about such times…but the original files remain for me to enjoy!

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And so, without further adieu, here are some photographs of a few days my beautiful mother and I spent meandering aimlessly around Venice|Venezia in May of 2010. We had a great time sipping coffees, eating sandwiches, admiring architecture, ducking into shops, and smelling that strange smell that haunts most of Venice. We encountered dogs that knew the city like the back of their hands (paws?), ate a lot of baked goods, had some Italian ladies make fun of my mum’s sneakers on the train (they didn’t know I could understand them, even with my bad 9 months of Italian classes), and I took a lot of naps (sorry Mum). We ate at a delicious pizza place whose name escapes me almost 7 years later.

I hadn’t looked at these photographs in years and today I realize how awesome it was for my mother, who had never left North America, to come spend a few weeks with me travelling. My mother is one of the most hardy, intelligent, and creative human beings I know, and as I get older I realize more and more how much I admire her. Mums are amazing creatures in general, but mums who travel across the world solo like a pro on their first go are pretty wicked.

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Snow in Victoria

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This morning, I woke up earlier than usual and decided to venture outside and photograph this strange, snow covered world. It was almost totally devoid of humans. I got to see a large bald eagle make it’s pathetic noises (seriously, how does such a regal animal make such pitiful sounds?) and hear birds and other animals pitter-patter in the brush.

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Sunday: Resolutions, lighting, and coffee.

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I love long walks on early weekend mornings. Spending my mornings outside will never be a waste of time. Lately, Victoria has been pulling out the most beautiful sunrises and I finally decided to capitalize on the opportunity to witness one. That meant getting out of bed before 7:30 am which is quite…uh, early? I went to bed at 10, because I am 25 and yet more akin to a grandmum than most humans, and woke up with my camera already charged and my belongings already laid out. I have no life, so planning ahead is mostly easy.

I walked out the door and found the most fluffy, pink-tinged clouds hanging overhead. It was absolutely beautiful. As I got closer to the water I could see the gorgeous glow of the Golden Hour everywhere. Everything fizzled with that vibrant energy the potential of morning brings. In the morning, you haven’t screwed up too badly yet. There is time to remedy mistakes, to kick ass, to figure it out.

31954586930_68100c00b1_c31954584800_0de4675092_c32181440942_2b952288b2_cOne thing I’ve been trying to do more this year is deliberately make more images of myself. Being the type of person who always carries around a camera (or two) means that often, I am making images of everything but myself. Looking through my photographic archives, I do not see my corporeal self. Yes, with every photograph I take there is a bit of me, but I miss out on pictures with my friends, with my boyfriend, with nature. I want to be photographed as well. I want to be present in more than a theoretical way.

Being neurotic, though, this comes at a cost: I hate having others take my pictures. I hate posing or faking it or looking how I think I should look and half the time it shows. What doesn’t help is that over the years I have developed a very complex (read: ridiculous) relationship with my face. My character-filled Dutch nose, my small mouth, and long face, have all instilled in me this idea that my face is hard to photograph. That it doesn’t hold light well. It is rare that somebody else takes a picture of me that I don’t cringe at. And so, I must take matters into my own hands and my own self-timer. 31520863063_e1f02169f4_c

Sundays I have been trying to spend exploring how to best photograph/represent myself. It’s been awkward and a struggle but my long morning walks now incorporate a bit of experimentation and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the results.This morning, for instance, it was immediately apparent it would be very sunny and experimenting with the lighting and angles was quite productive.

After meandering back into the bustle of the town, settling into some coffee and a book felt perfect. The downtown location of Habit wasn’t too busy and I pulled apart a croissant, making a flaky mess, while perusing the dense, spiraling world of Dostoevsky. I bought this tattered copy of Crime and Punishment in the English bookstore near the Bahnhof in Zurich on my 20th birthday and it may sound silly but it’s the best size and the best weight for toting around. One thing Dostoevsky does with his writing is make it so dense that if I don’t keep reading every day or so I have to almost totally start over, and over the years this copy has never had my eyes graze the final page. (Yes, it has taken me over 5 years to finish this book. I always get close but never quite finish it). Part of me wants to never have it end so I can always keep this copy around.

Now, I find myself reading Evelyn Cameron’s diary for my thesis. Grad school work lurks as an omnipresent spectre even during relaxing moments…

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Not all the REM cycles

I haven’t been sleeping well; the nights are humid, much more than I’m used to, and I wake often. Sleep comes easily but does not remain.

Moving somewhere new is a lonely venture. Being alone is often refreshing. I have felt exhilaration figuring out new routes to walk, at successfully navigating the town on the bus, at having my WiFi installed and letting a strange man into my apartment that I live alone in to do so without getting too nervous. I make food in my little galley kitchen and relish the fact that nobody can tell me how to do it- unconventional cooking methods seem to sprout here, but as long as the end result is delicious I don’t care (I may have been putting curry powder in a lot of random dishes just to see what happens).

Victoria is beautiful, but being here for school means that I have been attending a lot of school events and orientations. Forced social activities are awkward for me- I even said so out loud to some acquaintances. I hate being forced to ask people generic questions about their existence- I am much more in the state of mind where I’d rather ask “what are your favorite foods” or “tell me about a TV show you like” rather than discussing/doing the humblebrag about what folks are studying.

The humblebrag has a silently strong current in academia. It’s like a riptide- you don’t notice it until you’re in the water and the next thing you know you’re one hundred yards from shore and being dragged further out. Then you realize that you don’t want anything to do with this. I loathe it. People should be proud of their work, because often people have put so much of their life into it, but I am loathe to stand while people joke about their own awesomeness and insert it awkwardly into conversation. It’s uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Anyway, tomorrow is my program’s orientation, where I will meet more of the students in my MA program. There will be small talk, there will be free food to keep us there, and there will be lots of nerdy, neurotic nuts all trying to connect with other nerdy, neurotic nuts.

Nature has the perfect sort of silence

This morning I woke up and it was pouring rain at 7 am.

So I slept some more.

Waking at 8, the rain was gone. I got up, filled my Nalgene, packed a rain jacket, and ate some breakfast.

Then I drove into Hyalite Canyon.

I am ashamed to say that after having spent 3 years in Bozeman I had never explored Hyalite properly. Last fall Chris and I went up there a few times and camped out but this time I was determined to drive all over the roads and walk up quite a few trails.

It was chilly and damp, and everything was full of water- dew drops hanging off of plant edges, pine needles raining water on you when you moved a branch. Driving I had the windows down because it was so beautiful and cool outside.

I didn’t know where to start hiking, and I started at the easiest “hike” to Palisade Falls. It’s paved the whole way but the falls were pretty. The whole morning I barely saw a soul, and that was the best part. I drove where I wanted, as slow as I pleased, and paused a lot to take pictures or photograph a plant (that post coming soon!)

Overall it was the most refreshing and beautiful morning. I ended up getting pretty wet at the end of the Falls hike because it started pouring rain and even a bit of snow. It was entirely worth it though- I got to drive and see all the beautiful things I’d been missing.

Now I need to go back to discover more. I think next time I’ll bring my kayak.