I’m not sure what it says about me that in early December, on the eve of my 29th birthday, I am swaying to folk music in my pajamas. It is 6:08 AM and I have been awake for over an hour. I am not thinking about how far I have come during this year or what I want for myself in the year ahead. Not just now, no. Instead, I am thinking about Christmas trees.
I am also thinking about the spelling of Joan Baez, the cold & empty feeling of the house when Drew has left it, and the height of my eye from the ground in its relative distance to sea level.
All of which I would like to address. But first…
Day 1: The sound of the alarm clock breaks into my dreams without actually waking me. It is one of those mornings where I went on thinking that the house was on fire until the coffee makers rough grumble reminded me where I was, and that that foggy look in the room was just the sleep in my eyes.
The clock on my microwave came into focus, 4:12 AM. By eight the entire pot of coffee was gone. Found my old twin lens camera that a very dear friend gave me, and one rogue roll of film in an unpacked box way up in the loft.
Because I can not remember the films age, I assume it is from art school. two year old film. To most people, that makes this roll of film ruined, to me it seems an opportunity for something amazing and unique.
What ends up being most amazing is how long it takes me to load the film into the camera.
Goal one, Shoot more film.
Day 3: The third in a series of extremely early mornings. It is a Wednesday, and I spend almost 13 hours in front of my computer. I love Wednesdays.
My work space is settled on the backside of our living room. A large open space with a bay window where I have taken over our dining room table and made it my desk. At one point, the sunny sitting bench within the bay could be opened, and may have contained some antique treasure.
Now however, because this house is nearly one hundred years old, and sunk into a damp city in Washington, it has swelled shut. The only things that I can seem to imagine there now are my spooky assumptions of what was lost inside.
This is one of the many reasons that I love this house. This is the one corner of our living room that stays lit throughout the whole day; even when the storm last as long as I do.
Which is exactly what has happened today. The sorting through of nearly 4,000 images shot in the past month. Some will be used for marketing, and with any luck I will find a new logo for Seraphim Fire in the pile. The rest, far more importantly, will be printed and used at Christmas time.
Goal two, make prints & build something beautiful out of them.
Day 5: When I was a kid my parents had this theory that things readily available to my brother & I would become less appealing. For example, a large drawer in our kitchen sat fully stocked with candy. We were famous for this, my brother & I. While over for play dates, my friends would shamelessly eyeball the candy drawer, while I played on unaware.
I must admit that their theory held out well into my adulthood. While I love sweets, ( I am not immune to Chocolate) I don’t really eat much candy. I do however, implement the candy drawer in my home now. It is an act of nostalgia more than anything, but it also continues to make my house pretty enticing.
The trouble with our candy drawer is this, “it is a place where fortune cookies go to die.” At least this is what Drew said to me the other morning while searching through our drawers for something. “I am going to throw these away, ok?”
The funny thing about all those fortune cookies is that while I never eat them, I love saving the fortunes. I love giving them to people as a pick me up, or because they just fit. I like finding them on days that I can not concentrate, and just like a cloud that takes shape, I find new motivation in the day. So naturally, I protested like Drew had just threatened to get rid of the dog.
He gave me kind of a funny look and then kissed me before leaving for work, and once the door had shut completely I looked at Carl (our black lab) and said, “Crap buddy, now what am I going to do with like 30 fortune cookies?”
Day 8: My lists have begun to pile up around me like waves. Every once in a while when I am really focused, even the rustling of papers sounds like the ocean. I have had the beach on my mind lately. If this has ever happened to you, then you need no explanation. If not, then it is sort of like the shifting of a boat when the current is strong. It becomes very difficult to anchor yourself down. Figuratively speaking.
I thought of all those fortune cookies, and all the piles of digital files that needed organizing. My internal movement took me, without thinking, into our kitchen and emptied the candy drawer into a large mixing bowl. The candy was sent back, but the bowl of fortune cookies sat next to me at my computer, and I cracked one open. “Your future is what you make of it, so make it a good one.”
Goal three, open a fortune cookie each day.
Day 12: Call me crazy, but the fortune cookie idea really works. It is so easy to get weighted down in the monotony of a job, or a routine. The trick is to make it fun, or to give it a fighting chance. That is exactly why things like fortune cookies exist, right?
Some days my fortune doesn’t really apply: “You have the uncommon gift of common sense.” (Heh heh heh).
Some days it rains, and I clearly get someone else’s fortune. “Your day will be filled with sunshine.” (Not if you live in the north west.)
But then Some days I accomplish even more then I set out to. “Your path is arduous but will be amply rewarding.”
And that was the night I finally finished the logo, and then some.
Day 13: We finally got to the beach.
Day 17: Late in the afternoon I Drive to Seattle to shoot an event for PROVAIL and make some amazing new connections.
Back in 2004, during an afternoon art history class, I made a friend in an awesome girl who made her reputation as a screen printer.
Kelly now works with PROVAIL, a company based in Seattle, that is dedicated to meeting the needs of people with disabilities. (www.provail.org)
Tonight they are hosting a wine tasting event and silent auction inside the McKinstry Innovation Center. (www.mckinstryinnovationcenter.com)
The building itself is artful, and huge at 24,000 square feet, but also take into account the art work, free raffle give aways, and the six booths of wine from all over Washington State.
Thanks Kelly, for all the art & the history.
Day 19: “I realized something today,” I am leaning over my plate and I can’t see him, but I know that Drew is laughing at me. He is letting his mind skim blindly over all sorts of things that I could have realized. (That I’m a lousy driver, but will never admit it? That I listen to the t.v. too loudly?)
“I never shoot horizontally. Or if I do it is really rare. I had a hell of a time designing an album today because of it. Stupid templates.” I mumbled that last part.
“Well, you should start. People like horizontal shots and those templates are there for a reason.”
There was 2 1/2 minutes of silence before Seinfeld cut to a commercial and Drew looked at me, still smiling, lips pursed.
It was like he was trying to give me a head start before I launched into a passionate run-on sentence about how vertical shots were so much more interesting, and something about cropping.
It was such a thick excuse that I lost track of it. The next morning when I sat down at my computer I reached for a cookie. “Bad excuses are worse than none.”
Goal four, stop making excuses.
Day 20: I finally applied to a gallery downtown. ‘Childhood’s End’ besides being a co-operative space, (something I will forever support) is located on a corner directly across from the marina. It looks to be almost 1000 square feet and houses not only pottery & hand made jewelry, but a range of specialized pieces done by local artists;
Artists that I would love to learn from. It didn’t take a fortune cookie to motivate me today, this is the place that I want to be showing my work. I turn my portfolio of Love Letters over to a lovely dark haired woman at the desk and share a short conversation, resisting the urge to ask her a million questions.
She does explain though that I had just barely made the cut off, as they take a three week break from Jurying new work during the holiday’s.
When I got home I opened a cookie, just for good measure.
“People find it difficult to resist your persuasive manner.”
Day 23: I leave for Mexico at 6AM. As is the tradition in my family, we spend Thanksgiving together (the only time all year that I see my siblings and their children) at a little place an hour south of Cancun called Puerto Adventuras.
We have been going there for 13 years.
Allow me now, to introduce you to my Clan. My dad, Robert, is a sixty something dark & handsome, with exceptional math & vocabulary skills. Pam, my step mother, is equally stunning.
A grandmother to now five grandchildren that fill our home during the holidays, she wanders behind them kissing and cleaning up skinned knees;
egging the children on as they grow. This has become one of my favorite things to watch since the arrival of the first grandchild to grace us.
Pam will light up around children, just like a Christmas tree, and I must admit I share her warmth for them. (The unfettered showering of affection, their candidness, little socks….)
Besides the babies there are four of us, all siblings, but not necessarily by birth. Now each of us have families of our own, ranging in size & development.
Needless to say our family holidays have also been growing.
Day 29: While south of the border and away from my station in the bay window, I focused on the simplest changes to my photography. (Like shooting horizontally. A change that has made the most difference in my work.)
But it was during this vacation that I started to think about this entry and all the time that continued to pass. Right then I said breathlessly and more loudly then intended, “…What the heck am I going to write about?”
My father was working on the Sunday crossword and made a very familiar face as he looked up; his eye lids pushed together in a purposeful squint. “Hm?”
I rambled as his head sat perfectly level over the page, about my impending mission statement and all the progress that I felt I was making but with no real clue of how to illustrate it. Just then his squint softened into recognition.
I waited for him to speak, but he had just figured out another piece of his crossword.
Now folks, for the past year (as long as this blog has existed) my dad has not only taken part by reading each entry, but he usually lets me know that he has by sending an email, a few hours or even days later, with grammatical corrections and a few suggestions. That is his love letter. The deep desire to see his children succeed and act with ambition.
This time though, it only took about twenty minutes before he looked up and cleverly motioned out to the horizon line directly in front of us. “How far do you suppose the horizon is from sea level?”
Assuming this was something to do with the crossword, I guessed. Thirty something? Maybe more? He didn’t know either, so we all sat there, Pam, my sister Michele & me, taking guesses. Looking out at what was now the sunset.
It turns out we were all wrong. The formula for calculating the distance to the horizon is essentially the same old pythagorean theorem that we all learned in school.
So the height of the individual person, their geographical location, and the arc in the earth are all considerations in the formula.
For me, the distance is roughly 3 miles. Only 3 measly miles!?
Once the sun had disappeared I finally stood up & brushed my legs clean, swatting away the mosquitos. “It just seems so much further.”
Just then my dad’s face softened.
“It’s a little like life, isn’t it? It would be nice if we could always see that far into the distance, but what we can control is how high we stand.”
His smile was almost wicked when he added,
“You know what else sweetheart? It’s never as far as it seems.”
Goal five: Keep growing.