Wednesday, January 26, 2011

sate of the union address

this is the dream: that one day i'll get paid to be a photographer. it's that simple. i want to travel and see as much as i can of this country. particularly, anything west of kansas. but this will take time. and more experience and more talent and, above all us, a better understanding of how to actually use my camera and other equipment. it also means meeting the right people.

i've spent too much time lately feeling hopeless because i'm not there yet. i finally realized that not only am i not ready to be there yet, it's just not practical or possible. i think that i'm really good. and i don't care how that seems, or sounds, or if you agree. i just really believe in myself. but until then, i need to get back to living in the present.

i've spent a lot of time over the last year being unhappy living in pittsburgh. but i've kind of come to terms with it - at least for now. i think it's the best place for me to learn, and grow as a photographer and artist. since pittsburgh is such a small city, and there aren't a ton of photographers around here (i mean, there are, but it's pittsburgh, not new york city), it's easier to make connections within the area, have art shows, get experience, look at other photographer's work, learn how to use a stupid camera - you know, the great things about living in a small city. so i need to have more shows, try to make more connections, and take more photographs. and i'd like to get paid for these things. i want to try to get an internship at the pittsburgh center for the arts, or some place like it.

i don't love my job - but it's tolerable. and it's easy to get time off. and i love the kids. and i love the women i work with - they inspire me, really. i'm going to apply to real teaching jobs. because it'd be nice to get paid more, and . . . to get summers off (so that i can travel more for longer periods of time). it's what i do - and it's not the worst. and it allows me to put energy into the rest of the things that matter to me. so, for now i'm happy at work. although some days, i come close to quitting and walking out - i'll apply for new jobs and look around, but mostly, my job needs to just be a job again. the rest of my life needs to become the good stuff.

i want to write more. and better. so, this involves a few things: take a class and read more non-fiction. after i'm done with my oil painting class, i'd like to find some sort of workshop.

i want my blog to function more like a website. i still want the clumsy writing and the photography to be the most important part - but i want it to be easier to navigate through old photographs. i want prices. i want a separate tab for wedding pictures and portraits. i want a contact tab. etc. etc.

i want to get back into painting. even though i'm taking the oil painting class - i think the real passion for me is in those silly watercolors. man, they're beautiful. and it's such a spiritual act. i want to look at more watercolor paintings that aren't your grandma's paintings of her rose bush (although, i've got nothing against that!) . . . georgia o'keeffe has the most beautiful watercolor paintings i've ever seen. there's got to be more like her out there.

i want to be a better daughter, sister, and friend. so this means the same as it's meant the past year: be careful about how i spend my energy. give more of myself to less people. i want to feel strong and powerful again. i want to trust myself. i want to make decisions again - just for the sake of making a decision.

save money, so that when i can get the time off, i can travel.

remember that i'm still the 16 year old girl who refused to be consumed by work, and studying, and tests, and papers and SATS, and college interviews because everyone who was worried about these things seemed miserable. who preferred daydreaming about living in Maine. who spent all of elementary school planning her escape to Wyoming. remember that it's possible - i will, some day, be doing the exact thing i want to be doing, but for now, i've got to work towards this stuff. and that's the good stuff. the work is good.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

snow day thoughts

today was my first snow day of the year. yesterday, i was feeling pretty sick. so today was spent mostly inside. around 5:00, the apartment turned blue, as the sun was almost completely down and the outside turned from daylight to twilight. i looked out of my living room window and the courtyard below reminded me of movies i've watched about the holocaust. something about the brick buildings, the lack of trees, the emptiness, the snow falling, the depressing blue color - it's like what i imagine auschwitz to have felt like. i saw birds flying in the sky above this courtyard - and i started wondering what people who are imprisoned think about birds. jealousy? or hopefulness? i'm not sure - probably a range of emotions. i watched a documentary on micheal jackson fans once who stand outside of neverland daily. they wait by the gates in hopes that they might be let in, or they might see micheal jackson. one of the women said, "those of us who wait here, we're jealous of those birds. they have the freedom to fly in and out of neverland. we wish we were birds." it made me think of this. my dad gave me this book a year ago. i read it sometime last summer.

it's from wallace stenger's book, "the sound of mountain water." the section of this book is called the coda - it's a letter. you should read the book if you can. the part i pulled out is just from the first few paragraphs.

dear mr. pesonen:
i believe that you are working on the wilderness portion of the outdoor recreation resources review commission's report. if i may, i should like to urge some arguments for wilderness preservation that involve recreation, as it is ordinarily conceived, hardly at all. hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, camping, photography, and the enjoyment of natural scenery will all, surely, figure in your report. so will the wilderness as a genetic reserve, a scientific yardstick by which we may measure the world in its natural balance against the world in its man-made imbalance. what i want to speak for is not so much the wilderness uses, valuable as those are, but the wilderness idea, which is a resource in itself. being an intangible and spiritual resource, it will seem mystical to the practical-minded - but then anything that cannot be moved by a bulldozer is likely to seem mystical to them . . .

something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. and so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the word, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the brave new world of a completely man-controlled environment. we need wilderness preserved-as much of it is still left, and as many kind-because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. the reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. it is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. it is important to us when we are old simply because it is there - important, that is, simply as an idea.

Monday, January 10, 2011

skeletons of trees

ladies and gentleman, ghosts and children of the state,
i am here because i could never get the hang of Time.
this hour, for example, would be like all others
were it not for the rain falling through the roof.
i'd better not be too explicit. my night is careless
with itself, troublesome as a woman wearing no bra
in winter. i believe everything is a metaphor for sex.
lovemaking mimics the act of departure, moonlight
drips from the leaves. you can spend your whole life
doing no more than preparing for life and thinking,
"is this all there is?"

oakland and terrance hayes go together for me. he came in the mail today, "lighthead." his house, and my parent's house, share an alley together. his family trick-or-treats at my house. i see him and his wife and kids. he came to my class at duquesne, freshman year of college, and read his poems. he told me i ask good questions. he signed my book. i was probably the only person in the class who was even awake. i woke up on the morning of the 31st and decided to reconcile 2010 by a nice walk in schenley park. it was warm - like 60 degrees. i remembered that winter does pass. i took pictures of trees. i missed all of you. i missed being in middle school and high school and skipping class and wandering around oakland until i could return home. i longed for my 40-something year old self who could get an mfa at pitt and live near schenley park, and have a big window and birds in the backyard. i thought terrance hayes could be my friend that way.

i made the mistake of reading old posts from when i was living in arizona. this was a mistake because of the obvious. my words now are mush. my brain is mush. i was inspired, then. i am not, now. i was proud then. i am not, now. i can see you, skyscrapers, from my window. and tonight, i hate you. i can imagine you extending around the city like a wall. i am stuck.