October 11, 2014: “Primal State”
Last night I went camping and at some point I had drifted away from the group and wandered far to the other side of a pond. I looked up and saw the moon, as pictured above, only with the trees and water as well. I had left my wide-angle lens at home so I had to compose without it, but in retrospect it was too dark to take anything other than this kind of photo anyway. But this is one of the few photos I’ve taken that represents one of the purposes of photography, which is to examine a scene that makes me feel something even after that moment has passed.
And I felt something here, looking at this dot in the sky. Sure it’s not that great of a photograph, but when I think of my favorite photos I’ve taken, they’re all definitely sub-par in technical quality. But back to the photograph. Even as I write this now, I’m not completely sure why this scene was so powerful to me. The most I can gather now is that it made me feel small beyond words yet connected to a larger humanity — how many other people through the course of history have looked up to this same dot and felt the same thing? The moon is so far away. Even with all of our technological advancements it still has an aura of reverence and mystery. Yes, man has gone to the moon, but man will never attain dominance over it. It will forever remain almost a glimpse of possibility, of the other worlds we can only imagine but never physically experience.
October 5, 2014: “Sunday Afternoon Tea”
It’s Sunday, a day usually associated with healthy lethargy. Wake up a bit later than usual. Linger under the covers in that comforting warmness, that seemingly infinite moment of knowing there is nowhere you need to be. Slowly get out of bed and have some brunch with a satisfying glass of orange juice. Take it slow – think about where you are when you are in it.
This would be the ideal case, and in many ways much of my Sundays incorporate this feel. However today I discovered that I might have forgotten how to relax, how to truly take things slow.
Whenever I’m alone I’m liberated by the quickness of it. This morning I grabbed brunch, ate it while reading the news, and was on my way without having to listen to someone complain about their work or try to make superficial small talk. This is of course cynical to an extent. I love eating with others and can find solace in even the most superficial comment about someone’s hair. But such qualifiers to escape the commitment of generalization should be unnecessary – it is impossible for one to live truly alone or constantly with others. Both are liberating in a sense, but for now I am only speaking of the former. I continued on my day, seeking a coffee shop to do some reading and ran across a teashop that was once recommended for me. I opened the door and immediately went up to the cashier. When I saw a seemingly endless wall of different teas with names I couldn’t begin to pronounce I quickly asked for a recommendation and settled on a drink. The cashier seemed taken aback by my pragmatic demeanor, and that’s when I realized the shop did table-service. I took a seat and looked around, seeing the place for the first time. A fountain near my seat provided the relaxing sound of running water, each splash touching some inherent connection between my humanity and nature. The acoustic guitar playing in the background made for an intense yet calm feeling, and the smell of subtle chai mixed with other fragrances brought a calmness that enveloped my entire body, seeping in.
This was when I first realized that I have not been this calm in a very long time. I frequently write about being in a constant struggle between wanting to be extremely busy, in that powerful rush of activity while also wanting to be extremely unoccupied, surrendering myself to nothingness. But there must be some abstract difference between individually deciding to slow down and being in an environment that is telling you to do so, almost forcing you to forget the context of time. It was as if the entire room was telling me to give it up and savor each moment as it is.
August 11, 2013: “What Now?”
So if you actually follow this blog, you’ve probably noticed that it has taken hiatus. The decay in quality was caused by a full time working schedule, which allowed almost no room for photography that I would be interested in. I know that the point of a daily project is to stretch what I am interested in, but when I’m tired from a full day of work it feels too stretched to the point of artificiality. I think as of now it would be better to just post when I have a good day of photography, or really have something to share. Hopefully it will be regular, as my main internship will be coming to a close soon and replaced with job-shadowing this upcoming week. But if not, it was a great endeavor to get through two months of daily posts, which did indeed stretch me to take photos I would never have taken otherwise.
Last night I went to Seattle for the Street Food Fair, the I-District for some Oasis Bubble Tea, and then Seattle Center to watch The Avengers on the lawn with the Space Needle glimmering above the screen. It was all topped off with Dick’s late at night, and a long trip back home. Night photography truly interests me. During the day everybody is at work and the world functions, but at night people come out and are more of themselves, freed from the shackles of occupation. There are laughs, shouts, solemn contemplation, and lights that make photography so much more challenging and rewarding. And having been away from my camera for so long, I was able to see better than I had in months. I was no longer looking for something, but was truly seeing.
I had my eyes back.
August 4, 2013: “Beautiful”
It was one of the best Sundays in many many weeks. I woke up, went into a workout completely energized and ready to do many burpees. After treating myself to the longest shower, I made my way down to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The weather was perfect. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but good weather makes me feel very, very high. It’s one of the best natural highs I can ever hope to get—the feeling surpasses all else. Ingredients for this ‘weather high’ include a blazing sun, early summer temperatures sans humidity, and a great, featherlight breeze that cools your forehead as you walk through the streets. I made my way through the crowds at Pier 1 and settled on a grassy patch to suntan for a while. The park was quiet and sprinkled with lone tanners, lovebirds and small gatherings of friends and family. A kid was celebrating her birthday with candy coloured balloons; a pot-bellied man dug into his Wall Street Journal, his forehead full of crinkles. I laid myself down on a towel too small for my body, made angel arms in mid-air and noticed that the grass here smelled like my childhood. My childhood was spent in many of the most beautiful parks in Christchurch. It was full of picnics and barbecues and bike trails, sunsets and sparkling wine and flings with family friends. I lay there for two hours, soaking in everything the moment was bringing upon me. It was the best start to a Sunday that continued to be pretty damn magical.
August 3, 2013: “I’m Tired”
Halfway through July I was so glad I had a routine in place. Work, gym, chill, rinse and repeat. I felt happy in that my work was meaningful, healthy in my trips to the gym, and relaxed in my alone time before sleep. However this routine has now become the antithesis of most of these things. The gym still remains a healthy place, but the joy of work has wilted and the relaxation evaporated. Work feels pointless; my pessimistic outlook only builds on the negatives that range from situations to people. And time at home feels wasted; I realize that there are very few people here I can genuinely hang out with and that makes me sad. And in terms of this project, there’s nothing that exciting I see to take photos of throughout my routine. I can’t see anymore.
Fortunately, a change in routine will arrive soon with the beginning of job shadowing. With that, this upcoming work week is riddled with more exciting events, and slowly but surely I’ll be returning to campus soon. I understand that an optimistic outlook makes everything better, but when I grow weary I begin to lack the strength to keep it up.
August 2, 2013: “Chicago”
Early this morning as I went through my routine of delivering food, I saw a group of geese walking around the parking lot. The excitement of work and making a difference has decreased to the lowest of lows, in parallel with this project. So seeing something new in my routine raised my brow as I was reminded of a place I lived for only one year: Illinois.
As I was only in first grade at the time, the place seems unfamiliar, existent only in writing and memory. During the winter geese flocked over the cloudy sky in a V formation, and seeing them waddle around the park was common. Watching them fly, however, was amazing in that I had not known animals were capable of such perfect form and intelligence. I don’t know why they were in the parking lot, but they remain a symbol of the lost year in my childhood.
August 1, 2013: “Fresh Slate”
I’m behind three posts because for a while there, I stopped caring. I had no desire to post a photo as bad as the one above, and the lack of quality followed throughout the rest of the week. It’s inorganic to try and write these as if it were from the day of, but the thoughts that have been on my mind have remained constant.
The beginning of a new month, especially when summer is as short as it is, always signals a new beginning. The start of July is when I started going to the gym regularly, which has improved my wellbeing so much it’s hard to believe I’ve only been at it for a month. With the start of August, I hope to finish dwelling and come to some sort of resolution for the upcoming school year. As someone who is driven by goals and expectations, I will have to set these in place with a solid foundation.
August 3, 2013: “Holding onto Friends”
I am the type of person who holds onto her friends tightly. I am pretty particular about those who I socialize with and feel comfortable with, but when I do make friends I make sure that I can become “real” friends, who have genuine conversations and actually care about each other’s lives. I’m usually the one to rekindle near-dead connections and start up a conversation in months, or even years. I write letters to friends in faraway places. When friends visit from afar, I make sure they have a a place to stay and they have at least a decent time while visiting. Friends mean much to me, and I make sure that I keep them close by my side at all times. If you are a friend, and if you are in the area, wanting a conversation, need a shoulder to lean on, or just want some sort of comforting and silent presence beside you, I am always here.
August 1, 2013: “A Place of Comfort”
I was feeling a little burnt out from all the excel sheets I was looking at as well as feeling pretty lonely with the whole studio rent situation (my very ideal living arrangement will be to live in a huge mansion with my closest mates so that we would each have our own space, but would congregate from time to time to hang out and chill. Is this ever possible? Maybe in far out Brooklyn? Or Nowhere New Jersey? But who ever wants to live in either of those places. Anyway, I digress.)
I went up to my friend’s place in upper west side after work last night to meet his beautiful dog and just hang out where I felt comfortable. His dog, a miniature greyhound called Gatsby, was a beautiful, beautiful creature. He had lean limbs, the most beautiful face and a nose that nuzzled up against your face, arms, everywhere. We went for a walk at Central Park where Gatsby had a blast running wild and met new friends everywhere. We came back to his flat and he made me the most delicious pancakes out of the simplest ingredients and a lot of love. I could see that he was exhausted from his day, but he spoiled me with some homegrown cooking anyway. We sat in the little kitchen with a batch of these uneven, unruly pancakes oozing with Lindt chocolate, tearing apart at these pancakes with our bare fingers. It was pure bliss.
It’s so good to have a place of comfort like this. I know I can visit him out of the blue and do whatever and play with Gatsby and he’ll just take me for who I am. There are friends that you have to “try”: you smile, you make conversation, you have to pretend to be bright and chirpy and funny even when you don’t feel like being that way. He’s someone that I can ditch all of that, all of the expectations and social decorum and just be. I am grateful for a sprinkle of these friends that I have around the world. We don’t keep in close contact most of the times, but I know that they’re there. When we meet, it is like nothing ever changed, and we are entirely comfortable enjoying each other’s company with no frills and facades. I am blessed to have these places of comfort.
July 31, 2013: “Waiting”
I snapped this while I was waiting for a friend to arrive to our dinner date. A little boy outside of Whole Foods was crouched under these signs, watching the people go by and waiting for something too. He looked across the road with such concentration in his small brows that I felt compelled to look in the same direction too.
I am at the stage where I am waiting for a lot of things to happen. I am waiting to go back to Amherst so that I can start seriously getting some things done. I am waiting for some friendships to progress. I am waiting for summer to slow down so I can get ready for chillier months. I am waiting for the moment of settling.
After the moment of waiting that seemed to last forever, though in reality it was only a couple of minutes, the boy’s family joined him from across the road. He finally crawled out of his hiding space and flashed a big smile at his parents who beckoned him into their arms.