Category Archives: photos

Great lives of my life: A party

So there was this party a few weeks ago. My party. A party where people came to a restaurant to see my photographs and hang out. My opening party.

I worried for weeks. What if nobody came? What if too many came and there wasn’t enough food? What if my dress was wrong or I looked weird? What if people really didn’t like my photos? And what if they actually told me? A constant flutter of worries.

These things would wake me up in the middle of night. Silly things.

Silly because it was such an amazing experience.

Two weeks ago I was standing in the restaurant, waiting breathlessly for that first person to arrive to my show. Wondering who it would be, who would follow. Within moments people started to arrive. First it was one person — someone I once worked with — and then two couples: friends and former workmates. And then suddenly the room was vibrating with people: the love of my life, friends, colleagues, my mom and brother. The lovely woman who cuts my hair and her lovely partner. My spinning instructor. Gym friends. The drinking crew. And people I haven’t seen in years — all in one room. A microcosm of my life, mixing and talking and laughing with each other. All there to support me.

It was more than overwhelming, more than heart-bursting, more than exhilarating.

Time passed like viscous liquid, with moments slowly descending and suspending. Words bubbling underwater. If only I could have captured them all before they dissolved.

People telling me which photographs they liked, sharing their interpretations, trying to guess where a photo was taken. Asking me which ones I liked best (and there are some).

(And I even sold three photographs — curiously, the three that I almost didn’t include in the collection. And one is one of my favourites.)

As the evening evaporated, and the great lives in my life trickled out the door, I downed a big glass of wine and smiled. One of the most genuine smiles that have cracked my face.

And then it was over. But there are no photos to prove it. The irony. I didn’t think to take any photos at my photo party.

This is not the party venue

But am I photographer, too?

facebook_promoToday is a very exciting day. One that has left me blinking in shock and wonder. Crackling.

Last night I hung my first photography show. I stood with the restaurant owner and hanger, directing them to place my photographs on the wall. My photographs. For people to see. Perchance to buy.

It was a thrilling moment, standing there in the quiet, moving my eyes along both walls. Seeing images that I captured. Remembering each of those moments — the light, the weather — and seeing them suspended. Framed and spread along the length of the brick walls, the narrative unfolding.

And in this weird, slow-motion moment I’m not quite sure who I am anymore. I’m a writer. I’m a creative person. I like spending time alone wandering alleys and streets thinking about what I see, turning these tableaus into stories. And until recently this has been only in words.

Photography: it’s both new and old to me. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos but never thought of them beyond holiday snaps. Last year, when I lost my job and suddenly had a lot more time on my hands, I started capturing everyday moments and focusing my now-no-longer-needed Photoshop skills on a different path. And didn’t notice the hours passing as I experimented with filters and post-processing. Tweaking and coaxing, and generally liking the end result.

In January, on a whim, I applied to a local restaurant to have a show. Quite unexpectedly, they accepted me.

And my life changed. This sounds cliché and dramatic. But it’s the truth.

I will write about the process, about the tremendous amount of work that ensued and the frenetic emotions that followed me around each day. Until this day: the moment where I looked up and saw my photographs on the wall.

Writing has been who I am for so long. I cannot remember not writing, not wanting to record or tell a story with words. Photography is new and curious. There is so much to learn. It has so much to give to me. It’s overwhelming.

Having this show doesn’t make me a photographer. And if I manage to sell one print — that doesn’t make me a photographer. But right now, in this moment, it doesn’t matter.

Uninvited

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Never welcomed here:
Once a prison, once an asylum,
once both: no clear distinction
between violence and lunacy.

And then the closing. Windows blinded
and doors shut, sealed off from the
outside world. Sealed in from us.

We are uninvited,
not permitted to peer inside
the chilled and shadowed rooms,
not allowed a whiff of damp
or madness.

We remain unincluded
alone and isolated on the periphery
with our own dark thoughts, wondering.

Down the stairs

You’d like to think that you’re not scared of what’s down there. You’d like to think that it’s just another set of steps creaking down to just another basement. A bit of damp and dark.

You’d like to think that you’d be just fine starting the descent: foot on each groaning stair: one after another, one creak after another announcing your arrival, despite your soft-shoed efforts, your snapped-shut teeth, and your ever-clenched breath.

You’d like to think that there’s nothing waiting at the bottom. Just beyond the dim glow of the bulb, within the ring that dissolves into dusty darkness.

You’d like to think that you didn’t hear that noise just now. That subtle scratch, that muffled thud.

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Light leaving

Writing is best when the light is leaving,
as clouds cling to dimming reflections,
as the last traces of the day dissolve into dark.
Until the last clinging arc of blue
drips down and joins the liquid evening.

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Like water

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You can hear everything in this house; the sound travels like water.

Each crash, each gasp rushes into rooms in small torrents, bursts through hallways, and down stairs. Creaks seep beneath shut doors, bleed into the carpets and drip, down down. Voices find the gouges in the floorboards; words muffle their way along the floor, find the cracks in the wall. And even a whisper can find its way to an open ear.

I heard what happened. Listened as each scratch and rattle and groan gave way to water and traveled to my door, leaked in. Let its tributaries paint my walls as the paper bubbled and unstuck seams gave way. And I listened even when I didn’t want to listen anymore.

You can hear everything in this house; the sound travels like water.

Three windows, three stories

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They tore the building down and left the walls, the window frames like empty eye sockets, allowing everyone to see beyond the bones.

Three windows.

Three eyes into the soul. Three frames.

Three different stories.

Anywhere diner

Booths

Eating diner fries at the corner grill
everything is on the menu: burgers to Chinese.
Reminds me of that place where we used to meet
when the late afternoon released us
squinting into sunshine and snow.
Our hands unwrinkled, faces unfurled.

There is comfort in these everywhere places:
the too-familiar scent of old grease and vinegar.
The waitresses: kind but worn, tired,
like this floor. Like the faceless
and frameless anywhere artwork.
But the walls, they remember us,
would still recognize our lined faces.

In these places, a permanent grit exists:
a little bit of everyone left behind.

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