A Day of Mourning

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Today I didn’t wear all black but I felt like it. Waking up before the sun had risen, I had a drink of water, put on lipstick, and walked out the door with my camera. I thought of home- of my family that will be marching tomorrow against hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all other horrid things that do not represent the America we know- and I wanted to be home.

The morning was beautiful- crows chatted and birds chirped from bushes that were on the edge of blooming. Victoria right now, in mid to late January, is already on the edge of welcoming Primavera in all her colors. Snowdrop flowers, those harbingers of such events,  were already blooming in some flower beds on my street, and I wanted to ask them to be patient and wait- snowdrops are some of my favorite flowers and they fade the fastest, and things already feel so difficult and insurmountable.

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I walked down to my favorite beach spot and noticed that the sea was utterly roiling. The golden and copper hues of the sun on the mercury-like waves was mesmerizing, but the waves were so big and so frequent I couldn’t clamber over the rocks to my favorite hidden place. I tried to wait them out, as it is common knowledge that the ocean is a moody thing, prone to changing quickly. No such luck. In my suspicious mind, I wondered if the ocean knew that thousands of miles away, in a swamp turned capital city turned swamp, a monster supported by neo-Nazis and the ignorant alike was putting on a mantle of enormous power, and that perhaps the ocean knew that this was wrong, bad, and could have all sorts of consequences for many life forms.

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Then I thought about my mother, busy making signs for the march in Helena tomorrow, and I thought about my marvelous aunt, who was already in DC, excited to march against this ridiculous Cheeto in Chief who would likely raise Hell with his ignorance. I thought of Mary in Minneapolis who was also excited to march and I thought of myself, who would be joining a coalition of allies here in Victoria tomorrow.

Now is a difficult time. Many things threaten to drown me. A seemingly never-ending struggle to maintain a most tenuous balance plays out. Right now, the balance between maintaining my mental health and being productive feels like the hardest one. Many of us are doing our best and I know that right now, all I can ask of myself is that I do the same.

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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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Hike: Mount Douglas

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Katherine suggested we try to find and hike Mount Douglas as a way to shake things up a bit. It’s been so cold here that we’ve both got a bit of cabin fever going! This morning we packed our respective cameras and left our little bit of town and began our hike!

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Mount Douglas is a very popular hiking spot in Victoria, and has several trails. We hiked the Irvine trail, which was beautiful and steep in several spaces. Lots of ferns, beautiful patches of moss all over the rocks. It was cold enough that frost on some of the rocks made the trail quite slick, but luckily it wasn’t warm enough out for lots of mud to be present.

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We had a beautiful morning exploring this new corner of the city! There were lots of dogs and fellow hikers, and if you like having trails to yourself I would go early in the morning when people aren’t up and about yet. The trail was pretty moderate but I wouldn’t wear casual shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy. The rocks require some grip and there are definitely patches that have potential to be quite muddy.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been making a serious effort to re-boot this blog back into action. Stay tuned for more and take care!

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Bundled up by the sea.

31818697970_49bd63931d_c32075827831_594cb368ce_c31818697200_1b5c6aef04_cThis morning I woke up and it was cloudy, warmer than it had been all week, and quiet. I quickly dressed, packed a muffin, a banana, my diary, camera, and keys in my bag and headed out the door sufficiently bundled up. I pinned on the small bird in hand pin my sister got me as well. It goes with me everywhere these days.

Victoria has been cold. And by cold, I mean balmy compared to my homeland, the deathly chilly wastelands of Montana. Yet, the ocean chill seeps into my very soul on these cold days and so when the temperature rose enough for me to feel like I could be outside for a length of time, I took the opportunity with enthusiasm.

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There weren’t many people out, despite the significantly warmer weather. Honestly, I love it when Victoria is like that. When it feels like a secret, when the beaches are empty of dogs and humans. The murmur of human voices are gone, replaced by the sound of wind and waves. I reclaimed my love for Victoria again this morning with this environment.

Going down a familiar set of slippery wooden stairs, I scrambled on rocks by the beach and thoroughly enjoyed myself, bundled up in a large thrifted Polo Ralph Lauren men’s sweater that serves as my coat these days and the ridiculously warm Icelandic wool scarf I bought myself in downtown Reykjavik last June. Sea ducks surfaced and dove right off shore and the massive ships anchored deep in the strait looked as though they had always been there. The mountains behind Port Angeles are snow capped and regal looking this time of year, and I felt a twinge as I looked at my home country, and my mind went to my family and loved ones. What a lucky thing it is to live somewhere that still surprises me, but what a thing it is to do so feeling still so alone.

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Nonetheless, being a human is inherently a lonely enterprise, so to dwell on the difficulties of such things is pointless. It’s best to listen to the sounds around me, breathe deeply, and smell the salt and the sea. It’s better to notice how steadily me heart beats, how amazing the miles of blood vessels that run through me are, and how glorious it is to feel the soles of my boots move from one rock to another as I navigate the slick rocky shore.

I think these things as I sit near the large window that faces a busy street. It has begun to rain very hard and raindrops coat the window. Everything in me is whispering to go take a Sunday cat nap for a bit, and I just might. A dopo!

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Sunsets/Musings on realities of photography.

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Photography is a marvelous tool to make your life look much better than it feels. You choose a moment, and you eliminate sound, movement, context. You strip the moment down to an element that is then frozen into light sensitive silver particles on roll of film carefully threaded into your camera.

I am a thief. I am a propagandist. I use photography as a tool for coping, for survival, for love, for preservation, for dear life. It is better that way.

Pictured above: A series of evening photographs on idyllic Vancouver Island.

 

Tidal pools/Little ocean flowers

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I haven’t been sleeping.

I love sleeping. I love dreaming, REM cycles, I love knowing when I woke up that I slept well. Sleep and I are at odds right now, and it’s rather wretched.

I took a walk yesterday before going to campus to read because I was too tired and punchy to do good work. It was still low tide, and the beach smelled like it- lots of leftover, decaying seaweed, kept strands, and the wet smell of wood that has been in the ocean.

I carefully made my way across the black, slick rocks and found little pools of anemones and tiny tiny fish and crustaceans. Some of them were folded up because the water wasn’t quite reaching them. It was wonderful to take a break from being inside and working and being with the naturalia around me for a bit.

First year of grad school: DONE

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My first year of grad school has been over for a month now.

I turned in my final papers and breathed, but also couldn’t stop being stressed out. I worked harder this year than I think I ever have. My mind was constantly being bent, twisted, guided into places it hadn’t ever been. My curiosity, which knows no bounds already, was unleashed in ferocious ways. I questioned verbally and mentally. I reasoned and debated and held my ground and changed my opinions and was, in general, constantly feeling alive in an exhausted, electric way.

It has been a month since I posted on here. My sincere apologies. I have been home looking for employment, catching up on reality, being with people I love, and eating good food. I have been catching up with humanity, politics, and the outside world. My life is stressful in different ways now.

The photographs above are from the History program’s end of semester trip to a cabin on Lake Cowichan. We all gather and sleep in a simple cabin. We drink and eat and ponder. Aimless conversations, still beneficial, sporadically pop up. We learn bits and pieces about each other that we didn’t before, though we have spent dozens of hours together. I have been a bit of a recluse in some ways so coming to gatherings like this are wonderful. I realize that even though in some ways this degree is isolating it is also cohesive, and that these humans I work with are in this with me.

 

Seattle backwards in 36 hours.

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I hadn’t seen Exa in over 2 years, and I hadn’t seen Shelby in close to 5. So, when Exa bought tickets to be in Seattle for a few days, we decided to meet up.

The first night I got there, it was past 10 pm- I had been in transit since 2:30 (my ferry had been cancelled so instead I took a multi-step transport plan involving busses and alternate ferries). Exa and I went down the street to the Upstairs Bar in Belltown to have a drink- two strong Manhattans were ordered. We chatted for what felt like hours, but I felt myself slowly disintegrating- sleep was in order!

The next morning Exa and I walked to Pike Place Market to do the tourist-y things. Exa hadn’t been in Seattle since she was a little youth. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm- I could feel the sun warm the hair on my head, and the air near any large body of water just feels so good. After a bit Shelby arrived- I hadn’t seen this gorgeous creature since we both were living in Switzerland, and so to see her gorgeous clear blue eyes and epic smile felt so good.We drank ginger beer, consumed dim sum, walked all over the streets, and caught up on our lives. It was wonderful to be around these two souls who I met when I was so young and confused. Something about friendships formed when you’re in new places can’t decay, even if it’s been a long time.

We ended the day at a restaurant talking effortlessly after hours of already wonderful words. It is an incredible thing to have friends who are intelligent and can just talk for hours about everything- I love listening and taking part in such antics. If you ask me, good conversation is an organic creation that must be respected and appreciated. People are so interesting and unique and interacting with them is like nothing else. To be sitting in a dim restaurant drinking gin while we discussed goals, plans, challenges, potentials, and all other things, was to feel whole.

Unfortunately, after only one full day, I had to catch my ferry the next morning. Ending the night on the street, bidding Shelby goodbye as Exa and I returned to our hostel, I felt so at peace. The world is small, wonderfully so- you can and do reunite with the good ones.