July 13, 2014

a hello and a goodbye.

hello hello how do you do? this is perhaps my last post on this little blog of mine (forever adoring of adjectives describing the smallness of this space), but I couldn't leave without sharing some exciting (and long awaited for — as anyone who's been following me on twitter can attest to— news). i'm overwhelmed and excited and intoxicatingly happy to say i've been accepted to seattle pacific university! i'll be moving to seattle this fall. this seems like a nice way to say goodbye here once and for all. a bittersweet (but mostly sweet) end to this chapter of childhood. moving from minnesota to washington. beginning my adult years on the coast. fitting. okay, i'll stop before i get too sappy. thank you all for listening to me ramble for all these years and encouraging me to keep at it. you are some of the greatest folks. just wanted to let you all know. xoxo

photo by lillian (who i'm rooming with!! life is great and rad and all sorts of happy)

June 22, 2014

my small dawn treader.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with this space. Maybe it's a little taboo to talk about your blog as an entity. That's okay. I'm weary of such shoulds and shouldn'ts. This small journal (is it terribly cliched to refer to a blog as such? yes? okay) is akin to a favorite sweater. A little loose, a little large when I first slipped it on, but I grew into the texture, shape. For five years now. It's a nice sweater, thick and corded, a very very soft gray color, like the light in the early morning. The back is stitched, the elbows darned. It's rather shabby and in need of patching. I should give it one good shake, one last wear, and pack it away. But I can't bear to say goodbye. Not yet, anyways (this is growing rather sentimental). Forgive me my need to romanticize. Forgive me my need for poetry in all manner of ordinary. The point being . . . I'm finding myself here again and it's too small, or rather I'm a different sort of stock now, or rather I've realized what sort of stock I am, or rather I'm a the edge of a road leading somewhere new and there's no room for worn in sweaters. I'm aware this is makes little sense. I'm aware I'm walking around metaphors (truth be told I'm dancing cheek to cheek alongside them). What I'm trying to say is that I return and return to this blog only to find the more I write, the less I belong. This is not to say I'm not still writing, or will stop in the future. Perish the thought (what a quaint, wonderful phrase). But the direction and equilibrium of my life has shifted, irreversibly. In small ways. In large ways. And in an effort to find balance, I'm weighing particulars and realizing some things cast the weight too far off track. My life is a little ship, a small dawn treader and I've taken on too much. I need to steer my course steady, sure, and so somethings must be let go of. Some will sink, some float. This is not to say that there is no possibility for a future hello. This is not to say permanence need be all bad. This is not to say change is heartbreaking, though we find ourselves heartbroken by the variants we cannot comprehend. But this is to say I've arrived at an ending and am gathering my courage to step through a doorway. This is to say I'm wondering where to go from here.

photo by lillian

June 20, 2014

what I would say.

Dear H,
You write that you are hesitant to take photos that "don't fit with your style." Here's what I would say: don't worry so much about style. Don't attempt to explain your voice. In fact, forget the vocabulary entirely (I can hear you protesting, but give me the benefit of the doubt and listen). You are like a child learning to walk and instead of stepped sure-footed (albeit shaky), you are staring at your feet wondering what the right way to walk is. This is ridiculous. The right way to walk is to walk. First steps are for discovery, for finding the world round under your feet and what becomes your response to it. First steps are not a time for metaphysical musings on the "assurance of your path" or the "cohesive feel" to your work. What work? I say this gently, but you are too frantic running around to explain a body you don't possess. Do the work. Figure it out later. Take many good photos and take many bad photos. Someday you will know the difference. And this I would say also, don't begrudge yourself dark periods or times when your art comes differently. You, as an artist, will not create or react to the world the same way as anyone else. The beauty of art is that we all arrive at it where we are, so our life experiences, our memories, our deep sorrows, secret tragedies, and raw triumphs, lead us to this place to create. You cannot create another artist's reply to the question the world gives. You can only respond with truth and tenacity in your own way, your own tone and lilt and cadence. There is no wrong answer, but even more than that, no foolish question. You need the freedom of exploration to find yourself, otherwise you are boxed into a cage where the only key is locked inside. You already have the key. Your journey is discovery on the road the open door leads to. So go. Create and make art (remembering making art is intrinsically a messy, gritty, gutsy process) and don't worry about your specific style or voice. That awakening comes later. That you already have. It's just a matter of getting down to the hard work of discovery.

reading through letters to a young artist by julia cameron and in similar fashion, I wrote a letter to my beginning artist self, circa 2010.

June 19, 2014

watermelon season

the deck is covered in rinds. we eat until the melon is scooped hollow from eager hands. we smell sticky, our bellies full.

June 6, 2014


Mid October was cold enough to warrant winter coats, and though we had resisted for weeks, that evening, Dale and I unfolded musty wools and heavy jackets from next to the tangled bunches of herbs. Are you sure you want to help, he asked, and I shook my head. I’m fine. I can do it, he said, his tone gentle, his eyes reflecting light like a candle flame. Her box is still down there…he trailed off. My stomach dropped but I shook my head. No. It’s tradition.

We made our way to the basement. Light filtered through the cracked glass and illuminated dust floating like feathers, the dainty cobwebs with more detail than the lace on my mother’s wedding dress clutching the ceiling. We ignored the box in the corner and made our way quietly to the boxes near the egress window. I choked on the darkness, so thick and sweet that settled in my lungs like sediment. We did not speak of it, but I knew he felt the missing as heavy as a stone, wondered if he was resisting the need to scream and weep, to tear out his clothes, to run until his feet gave out. I shook my head. Returned to task.

We had a habit of storing the winter clothes alongside the leftover dried herbs in the basement, and each year we wondered what our coats would smell like when it came time to pull them out. It was a ritual we looked forward to, even in or perhaps because of its smallness. The wondering and musing throughout the hot months became a tether to our relationship, our lives. We would still be together come winter. This existed as an unconscious promise, a determination to make it until we could pull out old muffs and heavy scarves and say, it’s cloves this year! Or, we’ll smell like rosemary this winter. We would last until the leaves turned and by that time, we would be smelling like herbs, like sweet greens, like spicy cinnamon. Then there were the apple blossoms to wait for, but we had soldiered through the sticky months when arguments sprouted like dandelions, over what? The wrong kind of way to clean a fish. Arriving late. Being too harsh, too lax parenting Bram. Small things. We brushed dust from the outside of our coats and shook off the disagreements we had carried with us. They did not matter, not now that it was time to pull on mustard and root colored coats smelling of parsley, sage, cinnamon.

Dale stuck his head into the inside of his long overcoat. What does it smell like, I asked. His face was a grin. Your favorite, he answered, and held it out to me. I inhaled the musty scent and smelled a sweetness, soft and subtle. Lavender. His smile at my pleasure was food, rich bread I swallowed in whole handfuls.

Dale, I’m happy, I said at an impulse, and he turned from the coats he was unfolding to fold me in his arms. He kissed my hair. Swallow, swallow. I rested my head on his chest and breathed in the scent of him, like I could keep him, like we could weather all that came. I was not prone towards fits of enthusiasm, my happiness came guarded and snarling, a cautious animal ill-fed in infancy and so, now reluctant in accepting any morsel of joy that came my way. This misgiving, I held against not my mother, who was unsuited to love a child when she could not love herself, but myself. There must be something fundamentally wrong with me, that I could not take hold of life with gusto, unadulterated joy. Dale was a magnet for good things, his constant enthusiasm and unbridled eagerness like phloem running through his veins, pulsing a life that reached towards light as a natural response. But I retreated, I withered into myself and pressed my face to the glass, convinced of a rain that would undoubtedly come.

Behind Dale’s shoulder, the box sat squarely in my view. Innocent, unadorned, unopened. My happiness, so surprising, vanished with the suddenness sunlight cast on the grass disappears under ever shifting clouds. A cry stiffened in my throat. My whole body turned to wood, decaying, petrifying, hardening. My lungs hollowed. I think I hear Bram, I said, detaching myself from Dale’s embrace. I ran up the stairs and swallowed the panic erupting in my throat. Nevie, he called, and I hurried into my baby’s room, my hands shaking worse than apple trees in the October gusts.

In his crib, my baby slept, his sweet nose red and face flushed. His blonde hair curled around his ears. I picked him up and pressed my face into the hollow between his shoulder and neck and breathed in the baby, earthy smell of my boy. Tarragon and dirt. Softness and sky. I inhaled, again and again, to be sure of him. Hello lovey, I whispered, rocking my sleeping boy in my arms. My tremors lessened. I heard Dale come upstairs, his footsteps slow and steady on the narrow staircase. Bram reached out for me and I closed my eyes, thinking of apples in the summer, thinking of cinnamon, thinking of running in fields of lavender. I don’t know how long I stood there, when Dale came in. When I opened my eyes, he carried the box with the small pink and white shirts and dresses and mittens, never taken out. His eyes were wet. I did not have to ask to know they smelled like lavender.