Monday, December 31, 2007

out with the old, in with the new year!

i've said it at least three thousand times. this year has sucked. sure, there were decidedly amazing events which transpired, like the birth of my little niece rory. but most everything else felt much like having a pillow fight with an ogre wielding a sack full of nails. in the midst of getting my ass kicked, i had the chance to exercise those buddhist philosophies and try to let go of my attachment to material possessions. many things were lost to those bugs. some through infestation, some through the precautionary high heat dryer, and some to the mere circumstance of sitting in a plastic wrapped box out on a fire escape in new york city for a month of monsoon-like storms. turns out a couple of those boxes didn't have the greatest seal, despite my exhaustive efforts. and after the monsoon came the hundred plus weather. opening those boxes was a truly frightening science fair experiment. then after pouting over throwing a bunch of stuff away, i realized i could photograph things and thereby keep them (albeit, in a furrier than remembered condition) forever. brilliant! this is better than manhattan mini-storage.

ah, the wallace and gromit box set. why was i hanging onto it anyway--i don't even have a vcr or a tv anymore! because linda and damon gave it to me...



my nephew, kyle, picked out this hello kitty garment bag nearly ten years ago when i started catering (wearing a tuxedo!). he was five years old. it has served me for a decade. definitely hard to part with.

Monday, December 24, 2007

excuses, excuses...

yesterday my sister said unto me, "you didn't send christmas cards".
and i said unto her, "no, i didn't"
and my sister said unto me, with mounting disapproval, "you say that like it's no big deal!"
and i said unto her, with the lack of energy i have to give this issue, "i have reasons."

understand, fair people of the earth, that i dream big. i have endeavored to send you all much more than a christmas card that you can put on ye olde refridgerator (don't get me wrong--i love christmas cards--keep them coming). but because the funds are severely lacking of late, what you receive in the mail, will be more than a card, rather the most amazing homemade gift you may have possibly ever been given in your life.
it's that major. so major, that of course it has required countless (i really mean shockingly so many!) hours of labor plus the brains of my genius boyfriend. so fear not, fine people of christmastown, thy gifting and carding will be done. just late. so in the meantime, maybe you can print this for the refridgerator?

so how's christmas in new york? well, on the plus side of not being able to go home for christmas, i'm discovering so many consolation prizes. for example, not having to pack during finals week. not worrying about all christmas gifts during finals week. also, there's that whole 'new york city at christmastime' thing which is really beautiful. and having the time to sit on my couch at night and gaze at the christmas tree. i'm particularly enjoying the view out my window, watching people come select christmas trees. i made gingerbread yesterday and brought some down to these guys who are out there in the cold providing christmas cheer for me from out the window. and i don't think i ever saw so much gratitude after giving any gift. as i've said before, little things mean a lot.
and now, i swear, one of my readers asked for more ornament pictures. really. so i'll load them at flickr to spare those who don't want to fall asleep while attempting to read my blog. thanks. here you go abbie. since you don't want a material gift--here's a virtual one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

welcome to the old people's club

if today is indeed the winter solstice, that means that it's tristan's 30th birthday. tristan is a conscientious friend, an amazing front-seat father of twins, an insane marathon runner, a bicycling fanatic, master gardener, talented multi-media artist, possessor of great style and impeccable musical taste--and perhaps most importantly to me in that it concerns my dear friend kim--likely the greatest husband i've ever known. happy birthday, tristan--enjoy big sur.

i took this portrait of tristan in the pre-photoshop days, looking through a set of binoculars backwards at his city garden plot in berkeley.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

one room, one woman, six weeks

okay, okay, i get it--you don't like the ornaments. in my defense, i have been very busy with finals. just trying to throw some fluff your way as a distraction to my absence. i know, it was boring. so back to the depression of the chateau. fine. have it your way.
the opening image

strong hand grasping

distraction


the blue worm

and finally, my info page photo, obviously not by me.

presented my final group of images last night, printed large, in a portfolio book. my class was very kind (how could you not be, i suppose, with such subject matter)--but one classmate even had tears in his eyes. it's good to see the images are powerful to other people. i am so emotionally tied to this project that i have no way of gauging it's effect. i typed an explanation on the large border of the above image as a title page with my old typewriter full of errors:

all photos taken by kitty joe ste-marie in november and december of 2007 at the chateau medical facility in rochelle park, new jersey. one room, one woman, six weeks.
i embarked upon this project to discover what presents itself under the same repetitive conditions.
i found strength among apparent fragility, spirit in a depressing place, chatter from a woman with no voice, and unexpected beauty in the horrible details of dying.
visual themes emerged again and again, each time calling attention to something new. hands reach for words, hands stabilize, hands call for help, hands grasp at love. the framework of tubes choke like vines, yet bring life via air, nourishment, medicine, limited maneuverability, distraction through television. the tubes join the retro 50's fabric of hospital gowns in lovely patterns. all is lit by rays of weak winter sunlight slicing venetian blinds, reminding me that even though i am 'family', with the camera to my eye, i am also voyeur. what i see and represent is slightly taboo. as a society we don't want to see this 'unexpected' yet significant end to millions of our lives, lest we glimpse ourselves in those lonely faces.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the second day of christmas (ornaments)

my boss and friend, humberto, brought a set of three picture frame ornaments one year. found this little thumbnail printout to be about the right size and theme--emre and i in costume.
oh, and the lovely clear glass dipped in white--a gift from lauren and matt--from the cooper hewitt design museum (they brought a set each of white, red and green).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

honeymoon egg

like a mini-version of the twelve days of christmas, i just might feature some of my ornaments here (oh my god, could there be a more boring blog topic--geez, i'm really reaching new heights with this one!). as i already mentioned, i missed the narcissistic chance to pass one out to each friend and say, "here, you can put this one on the tree. it's new this year. kathleen and jason brought it back from their honeymoon in austria because they know i'm a sucker for egg ornaments, being that i blew the yolks out of at least 75 of them, dyed, glazed, beaded and gifted them ten years ago. " i know a very small percentage of them are still in one piece. gotta love the homemade xmas gift. this year's is in the works. all who want it speak now or forever hold your peace. hint: if you're over the age of 40, you may not appreciate it.
and yes, that is a cat ornament butt in the background.

Monday, December 17, 2007

put the lights on the tree

you know i'm not much of a scrooge. in fact, i'm pretty sure if you look up scrooge in the dictionary, you will find 'opposite of kitty joe ste-marie' listed somewhere in there. yet this year we decided not to have our annual christmas tree decorating party, nor even get a tree. this year has just been too much, we declared. but considering i will cross the street just to walk through a sidewalk christmas tree sale, happily inhaling the smell of christmas, and especially being that there is one such seed of temptation across the street from my apartment--it was too much for me to resist. and anyway, kitty without a tree--it's just too hov-y for me. suddenly, with my dad in town, i found time to do it up right. it was saturday night. we decided to forgo the 1920's costume hawaiian steel guitar swing party (poor dad) for a quiet evening home resting his shins. i brewed a pot of ikea christmas tea (those swedes know a thing or two about 'white christmas!), donned the felt santa hat and cranked up the 'home for the holidays' record box set i found at the salvation army compound in healdsburg. it was perfect. and now i'm so happy. so for those of you who missed the private showing, you're welcome to come on over. finals are over on thursday (!) and it'll be a blue christmas without you...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

i am tourist

there is a first time for everything. yesterday i sat on the top level of a double decker tourist bus for three hours, 25 degrees, with my dad, seeing manhattan from a whole new perspective. i tried to channel timothy 'speed' levitch from the cruise. if you haven't seen it, i suggest you run out to your local independent video store (or netflix) NOW and rent it. i have to admit that i didn't make it through the whole loop, times square to times square. when the bus paused at 1st avenue and st. marks place--my east village territory--out of the bus we did run to warm up with an amzing bowl of carrot ginger soup at yaffa cafe.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

welcome to brooklyn, dad


my dad is flying somewhere over michigan right now, en route to new york. have i mentioned ten times here that my dad has never set foot in any of my last four homes? which is to say, that he's never been to new york. this is a consequence of moving halfway across the world that i never considered--opting out of the dad's home improvement help that my local sisters got. hey dad, i know you've got like, only four days, but how 'bout checking out this crumbling tin ceiling in the kitchen?
i'm excited to show him around, because, like me (probably not a coincidence, as i am his flesh and blood), my dad is totally fascinated by everything, and he loves to talk and brag about his trips. so i feel all pressured to give him something to brag about. i leave that task to new york city. i guess it's a pretty impressive place all on its own without me even trying. but also, there's the fact that i owe all of my impressive reputation as a tour guide to this man en route on an airplane, who tirelessly toured every foreign exchange student in the state of california (whether or not they 'belonged' to us) to see every beach, drive through redwood tree and beautiful back road in northern california over and over and over, until i, as a child, rolled my eyes and said, "we're going to armstrong grove (which is now on my top five places in the world to be) AGAIN!?"
after much brain wracking i've decided to keep it simple and classic tourist. after all, it's his first time in new york. gotta see times square and rock center. and eat bagels, and pierogis and knishes and turkish food and thai food. dad, did you pack the tums?
seriously though, this trip will mark the first time that my dad is on my turf, which may be strange for someone who 'knows everything', who just happened to spawn another human who 'knows everything' (that would be me).
this featured note was a reminder to me the last time i visited california and borrowed a car of my dad's that almost made me cry with laughter. really dad--have you forgotten that i grew up late nights in the garage pumping the brakes and helped build that mgb? can change a tire. DEFINITELY know what a dip stick looks like and how to check the oil! love the drawing though. and the fact that my dad's handwriting is the only specimen of penmanship on the planet that is worse than my own.

Monday, December 10, 2007

nothin' like knockin' new boots around

meet the new boots. you may have heard me complain about being broke. you may have heard that i don't dare step into a store because i'm a student and shopping is just something i don't have a budget for, even at beacon's closet, the salvation army or other such denizens of thrift. thank goodness for the steady stream of clothing coming from crazy turkish gift-givers who now wholly control my style. these new threads nicely compliment the ripped up sweaters and tights i still cling to from my high school wardrobe (didn't you hear that grunge is the new retro trend? i never went out of style!)
but when your winter boots have earthquake sole splits to rival the san andreas fault, a trip to star deli leaves your feet soggy, and the snow starts coming down, it's time to break down and look for a new pair of boots. but when does one have time for something as frivoulous as shopping, you ask? of course when one's instructor has followed the rest of the city down to miami for the myriad of art fairs (why am i only now hearing about this phenomenon when everyone i know seems to be down there? did i fall asleep and wake up years after everyone plotted this whole miami hoax?!), and thus class is cancelled for the day, leaving someone who otherwise plans her days to the minute, with a gaping 3 hour gap of TOTAL MINDBLOWING CHRISTMAS SEASON FREEDOM! freedom to walk down 'shoe row' popping into no less than 35 shops to wrinkle your nose at all the high heeled, sleek, pointed toed boots. none would do. they must be everyday-comfortable. they must be funky. well, turns out that's totally out of style. the above were the best i could do. i've fallen in love, even though it wasn't love at first sight, we were comfortable from the moment we touched and their embrace leaves me warm and cozy. right now we're in the blissed out honeymoon phase, barely past the excitement of flirting.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

alice, this one's for you

coincidentally, or serendipitously, i write this entry after midnight, on what i realize would be my recently departed grandmother's birthday. so grandma, this one's for you. see, we used to love to do crossword puzzles together. or rather, she loved to do crosswords, and very tolerantly allowed me to steal the daily puzzle when i'd come visit, then throw out answers, since i'm really not too good at crosswords. still she would tell anyone around how smart i am and what short order i can make of crosswords. but only the daily one in the press democrat. give me a difficult puzzle and i'm useless. the day of her memorial as i entered her house, i followed my usual pattern. grabbed the newspaper, flipped to the second page of the D section, and ripped the strip of puzzle out. flopped myself down in her chair, feeling her presence so strongly, and proceeded to knock that puzzle out in no time flat. and there she was, looking back at me from the very blocks of the puzzle. 12 across--tv waitress: alice.
happy birthday grandma! i know it's not clam chowder, but it'll have to do.

Friday, December 7, 2007

fwd: fwd: fwd: re: my christmas plans

i was about to type the following words into an email response, but figured i may as well post them here since i seem to keep typing the same ones over and over. that way all the thousands of people who read my blog will be abreast of my riveting holiday plans.
the rumors are true. i will not be making it out to california this christmas. no holiday bread making, no drinking of aunt barbara's cider, no driving around like i'm elven years old to oogle the miles of christmas lights strung up to the fences and barns on hessel road by farmer skip. and please, send my regards to the man who sells me a bouquet of flowers every dec 25th on the railroad tracks in cotati and calls me his 'christmas angel'. maybe he calls every woman who stops by on christmas that--what are you trying to say--don't burst my pretty bubble!
the fact is that i have jury duty. it's time to pay my debt to brooklyn, this borough i babble on about so lovingly. i've put it off for eleven years, have photocopied countless airline tickets and school schedules. time to pay the piper. the good news is that people tell me judges don't want to work around christmas so they delay the new cases and jurors get out easy. too risky to plan the ol' new years trip though. hopefully i'll make it out later in january. until then, i guess i'm just stuck with the rockefeller tree's new LCD lights. thanks for asking.
ooh, but a christmas miracle: after eleven years, my dad is coming to visit me here in new york. wow. it's about time!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

return to the chateau

this is for you, august! these images are all from last week, which was ridiculously fruitful, despite my insecurites otherwise. i didn't return to the chateau this week because i've been sick, and it just doesn't feel right to expose such a fragile person to my cold.
this visit marked the first time i felt self conscious photographing lynn, on her behalf. sure, it's been awkward, all the staff wondering who i am and why i'm always lurking with a "professional" camera. it's kept me from shooting in from outside the building through the window, but other than that, i haven't really cared what anyone thought. oh yeah, and i also refrained from documenting the routine and endless injections, monitoring, strange windpipe contraption clearing--all very interesting--and easy. i've refrained.
but this week i felt different. when i arrived, lynn was in rough shape. it had been a terrible week. first a 2am trip to the hospital because of a panic episode and sudden plunge in blood pressure, then two nights later she woke up dreaming she had the luxury of getting herself to the restroom--ended up laid out on the linoleum floor, monitor machine pulled away from the wall, breathing tubes stretched taut. when i entered the room after these harrowing debacles, lynn was exhausted, newly overmedicated, and nauseated. she wanted to continue sleeping. when i tried to photograph her lying so vulnerable, teeth out, no discussion prior to shooting (usually i visit with her for at least a half hour before brandishing my camera), looking near death, i cringed each time i tried to release the button. it was unclear whether she was aware of my precense, but even through her silky black eye mask, she seemed to be delirously tracking my movements. instead i photographed the wheelchair by the window. then took a breather at the local diner to gather my gumption. perhaps part of it was the difficulty in seeing her rapidly deteriorating condition. whatever the reason, i was shaken. surprisingly though, after an hour or so, lynn sprang back into her usual self--demanding updates, offering tea, smiling. i spent the whole day there, joined by her son. i did not work to exclude him from the images as i had before, as he is part of her story too.
i tried to vary my angles. attached my wide angle and flash for full room shots, however gremlins possessed my flash, rendering it unusable (naturally it performed perfectly the following day). but in class, my fellow students were all drawn to this 'bad flash' photo above, citing some kind of spiritual component.
there are obvious themes emerging--the ever-present coiling of life sustaining tubes, the light slashing through the darkness from window blinds leaving diagonal stripes aplenty, the frailty and communication in her hands, the branding of the 'kindred' name into identification bands, her food, her room, even her teeth.
since i didn't have any new images to present, and for the past two weeks i'd shown my work via the computer, i did a massive two-day printing session and brought in nearly 40 prints for a comprehensive edit. understand that edit is not the fondest word in my vocabulary! and understand that i'd already edit down from hundreds of images to arrive at these forty.
i know, fundamentally that less is more. i just don't know that in my heart. my heart feels like more is more. this, of course, presented a challenge to my skillfully adept instructor as he tried to 'slash and burn' the series. somehow we worked it down to nineteen images, with a promise to shoot once more, cut four of these out and add three new. pity to my teacher, who looked guiltily at me as he made the edits, often asking, "are you okay? you look as though you're on the verge of tears?" a poker face i do not possess.
yes, i suppose i'm a bit too emersed in this project right now. i little too close.
also, completely unsure of how i will present the final series. only two weeks left of class! unreal how the time has flown.




i think i'll upload all images to flickr as a set and poll my myriad of readers. soon. just really busy now!

her fatal step

from the 'ancient diner' series....to see more click here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

fear of all fears, horror of all horrors, mother of all phobias

those of you who have spent any time around me are probably familiar with my aversion to needles. this extends to most things medical, but especially the evil nasty needles. i swear it all stems from the memory of having a painful operation on my foot as a child. naturally memory is the great distorter, but when the nurse picked up that needle, to 'anesthetise' my foot, i swear it was longer than my arm! and straight into that wound did she plunge that instrument of torture. i have since learned, after working for a foot doctor, that the injection should be administered between the toes, NOT smack dab in the center of the inflamed area! this is nice breakfast banter, isn't it? needless to say, i cried throughout the operation with pain from the shot, not the dry ice nor the cutting out of infected cells. and so, whole and raging, a new phobia was born. don't ask me to watch the surgery channel with you. don't ask me to listen to your tales of injuries and blood (though i'm about to regale you with mine!), because you will find me turning green and sitting down quickly. and woe is the nurse that ignores my pleas to lie down after having blood drawn--even the pinprick in the finger kind. i don't care about what's on the closest horizontal surface. i don't care if it's dirty or you have to walk over my clammy body. just let me lie there, NOW. another nurse (take note, beloved nurses-to-be of mine) felt i would be much more comfortable in this situation if i could lay down on a cot. she picked me up off the office floor and tried to walk me across the hall. and i heard, as though from a distant radio transmisssion: 'get her head!' and down i went. embarrassing, yes. totally irrational, i know. but it's just the unavoidable way my overactive mind works. consequently, (torturous and frequent dental experiences aside) i've been able to avoid the needle on several occasions. call me black hearted, but you will not ever talk me into donating blood. it's just more than i could voluntarily bring my selfish soul to do. and it's miraculous that on two occasions i have braved the tattoo needle, and will again soon. these instances have all been accompanied by the wooziness and the fainting or almost fainting episodes. i can hardly bring myself to be embarrassed anymore. i can be a tough girl sometimes. just not around needles. and gloriously, i have managed in my life to avoid other such injections. okay, so i had to spend the first day of school each year in the principal's office explaining that i belong to a cult-like religion that does not allow immunizations. i'll just ride on your vaccinations, other kids, thank you. crazy that this was cause for social ridicule, along with 'why doesn't kitty say the pledge of allegiance?' oh, that would be because i pledge my allegiance to jehovah god, not the flag. what? but i digress.
the other night my artistic and adventurous side found me joining the crew of a crazy artist who launched a homemade one-man submarine into the new york harbor. and now, time to display said once-confiscated-by-the-police vehicle at an art show. it was a strangely warm and rainy november night. the truck lurched over the cobblestone streets down on the docks of red hook, brooklyn. from the wrought iron staircase clinging to the side of the old brick warehouse, the city was blanketed in what this northern californian could only call fog, but i could see the tip of the statue of liberty's torch rising above the factories and lofts. a light rain began to fall, or rather, it felt like that fog just came over and wrapped around us. the task was to unload the steel top of the submarine out of the truck and onto a dolly to transport it to the woodshop where the barrel of the sub sat waiting to be capped off. oh, and a lot of rocks. to weigh down the submarine of course. okay, it was heavy, but i'm a strong girl (as i keep insisting!). I lift a lot of stuff. i grew up out in the garage helping my dad with cars--i'm a tough girl! keep telling yourself that, kitty, right? but the submarine cap wasn't just deathly heavy. it was also completely unwieldy, outfitted as it was with long vertical pipes, glass portals and such. fog had turned to rain and that big piece of steel was slippery! thanks be to god, gaia, martin gore, whoever--i didn't feel the steel slicing my finger like a piece of polish sausage at the hands of a greenpoint stone cold polish fox and a deli slicer. my hands were happily numb from the cold. but as i stood above the dolly trying desperately to swing those pipes around, in the dull glow of the light escaping the freight elevator, i saw a pool of blood deepening on the blond wood of the cart. the blood was gushing from my very finger! i could see that a flap of flesh was half separated from said mutilated digit. so i held pressure on it (stop gushing!) and we went upstairs to the wood shop first aid kit, leaving a trail of crimson blood to mark the way through the pale fresh sawdust on the floor. thankfully, said submarine builder is also a non-squeamish tattoo artist, wasting not a moment in flushing out the wound, pulling out a mysterious shard of steel, and bandaging my fountaining finger tight tight tight. thanks be also, to my long arms, as i lay on the filthy bathroom floor, arm extended up to the sink. and everyone shrugged and said, 'you'll be okay--when was your last tetanus shot?' and that's when the needle scratched the record and i began to freak out to have to answer--NEVER--but i sure could hook you up with some literature about jehovah god! who needs a tetanus shot? well, now that would be me. desperately. but because of a lengthy emergency room wait and my absolute fear of stitches (let's not even go there), i abandoned the hospital and found myself two days later, shaking at a stranger-to-me doctor's office saying, no really, i've never had a tetanus shot. and he looked at my finger and said, head shaking, 'how did you DO this?'
okay, and as usual, the shot wasn't so bad. yeah, my arm is sore and i feel mysteriously ill today. but the nurse was damn good. i closed my eyes and she pinched my arm a bunch of times so i didn't even feel the (gulp) needle very much. but my god, making the decision to do the right thing was so so hard and scary and only motivated by total paranoia of dying of lockjaw tetanus poisoning and i promise, next time i'll wear heavy work gloves. i have, at my disposal, many amazing images which could accompany this story, but i think it would be a copyright issue, so you'll just have to use your imaginations.
well, one little picture couldn't hurt, could it? i swear, if asked, i will remove this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

tristan, consider this your invitation

i know, it's totally old stale news now, but that's how my thoughts are running--totally behind schedule. as opposed to the nyc marathon, which barrels through my neighborhood like clockwork, reminding me another year has flown by--and so quickly! it's disturbing to reflect on the light-speed of time, yet whenever the marathon comes around i'm charmed. i like to get out early and see the building mayhem as it runs through greenpoint (mile 12.5). it reminds me of the apple blossom parade back home in seabstopol--the little apple. there is such a feeling of community and small town pride in this race despite the big city setting, despite katie holmes and diddy participating. i think our biggest celebrity guest in sebastopol was that old guy who did the oatmeal commercials in the cowboy hat. and he turned out to be a jerk! but back on track--i'm truly touched to observe the ghetto kids at the automotive high school handing out gatorade, paper towels and bananas to the exhausted runners instead of....i don't know, calling out, "i want to f*ck you, red-headed lady!" from the barred school windows even though i'm twice (!) their age. have i addressed my thoughts on the topic of child raising in new york city yet? unnecessary, right? you get the idea.
anyhoo. first the wheelchairs come through--the tricked out high speed horizontal numbers powered by arms. they never cease to bring tears of inspiration to my eyes when i see people without legs nonetheless racing a course i couldn't dream of completing. everyone goes nuts and cheers, banging their long inflatable sticks together to make noise (whose idea where these?). the bad local bands that can't get a gig anywhere else despite the 5000 venues in new york city tune up and serenade with their amps. then it gets quiet. anticipation. and the top women follow a police escort. the blonde woman who will win leaps past me like a gazelle. i know she will win and she does. i still feel smug for knowing. shortly thereafter the men come. i feel like i'm at the olympics. then the masses. everyday heroes. your friend that flew here from kalamazoo. and a dozen rhinoceroses. running rhinoceroses. of course. and for hours you cannot cross the street. i love it. to see more snapshots from the marathon, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

boyfriend bragging time

you know what i admire so much about emre? he is exactly the opposite of me when it comes to any kind of art project. when i get an assignment--no--when i merely think about taking a class in which i might be assigned projects--i panic. panic. my brain melts. i cry. there can't possibly be a single worthwhile idea in me. and if there is, it's stupid or it's hiding. i'm sure of it. that's how much confidence i have in myself.
emre, on the other hand is completely nonchalanct in such situations, tricking me into thinking that he is underachieving, or he will never finish, never figure anything out. deadlines approach, time runs out and still there is no stress. just out pops something whole, complete and awesome.
this past week when we hosted his father from turkey was no exception. while i was cursing the god's of transport and lack of time, he casually multi-tasked a fall colors family trip up to lake minnewaska--slash--video editing class shoot without nary a mention of his idea in advance. thankfully, it's not only his sister who has a flair for drama. his father, you can see, had too much fun running through the snowy (!) trails at the stunning lake minnewaska while emir and haley patiently stood by freezing, and i bossily scouted locations and shots while emre said, yeah, that's what i'm going to do next. except emre wouldn't say yeah. 'cause his english is better than mine. did i mention that he beats me in scrabble and that's just not fair, considering this is my native language, not his?

since emre had to compress this considerably to get it on you tube, the image is tiny, so try 'full screening' it by clicking the lower right hand icon on the little screen--that was clear--to enter full screen mode. could someone find me a job writing instruction manuals? clearly i've missed my calling. click here for 'feeble' by emre balik.

and by the way, if anyone wondered at my exhausted state of late, maybe you understand a little better now after seeing emre's unstoppable ball of fire dad in action. even this self-approving tour guide can't keep up!

Friday, November 16, 2007

'the chateau' week two

getting out to the chateau to see lynn this week felt like a near herculean (wow, dictionary says this is actually a word!) task. first delayed by switching work schedule, then a groggy late start due to not enough sleep, then there was the task of transporting emre's non-english-speaking father to the russian and turkish bath, which opened an hour later than its website claimed it did. are we sure mercury is not in retrograde, cause i'm feeling it! on to port authority where naturally, i just missed my hourly bus to new jersey. a different bus came, but i'd have to walk an extra couple of miles. i waited for the proper bus. when that one pulled up, the driver informed me that due to construction, there would be a detour. i needed to take that other two-mile-off-the-target bus, which i'd just eschewed. ah!!! when the fourth bus finally delivered me two miles from 'the chateau'--ah, what a name for a place to be poked full of tubes!--in rochelle park, i was an aggravated mess. see i had a very limited amount of time left due to the ultra tight manner in which i schedule my hectic life. but new jersey did something magic to me. it calmed me down. somewhere between walking through the beautiful 60 degree day filled with the most vibrant shades of fall colored trees all around, bright leaves underfoot, and reflecting on lynn's situation, the 'problems' of the day revealed themselves to be mere annoyances which could simply be let go of if only i decided to. so i left them in the leafy gutter and took advantage of the time i had remaining with lynn. she was so happy to see me. though i didn't wash her hair as she had mentioned last week, she had me comb it. still holding over that spirit from the 'postman' series that i so love. of course i didn't start shooting immediately when i arrived. it's true that i'm making this weekly trek with the objective to photograph lynn. it's also true that i chose her as a subject partly because i wanted to be forced to spend more time with her. this delay in starting to shoot did, however, present another timing problem, because the nurses sat her up in her wheelchair, a 'chore' she absolutely detests and that took every last speck of energy she had. i shot for about fifteen mintues, and once they put her back in bed, she fell asleep. i waiting and waited, but sadly had to leave her a note and slip out of the chateau. surprisingly, i got much more in that fifteen minutes than i expected, so i'm glad i decided not to stress. getting back to new york took THREE HOURS.
so the theme of the day was late. here are three portraits which i executed by the urging of one of my classmates from last week's critique. i didn't get a chance to go wide angle as i'd planned for week two, to include the whole room. that will have to wait. and no, i didn't manage any 'sleeping' shots because the room was darkened and i didn't want to wake lynn. next week will be near impossible for me to get to jersey, as my nephew kyle is coming to visit (!) we'll see !
so, the two or three of you who are still with me, would you mind casting your ballot for which of these three portraits you prefer, and tell me why?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the chateau--inspiration, explanation

So much happens in a day, a week, a month. I battle bedbugs. I do laundry, scrub the floors. I complain about it, yet she can’t even go around the corner to the Laundromat. I go to work. I lay on the grass in the park, look up at the clouds. Grass tickles my toes. I am charged with life. And all the while day after day, she lays in bed, immobilized by a tube connecting her to a machine. My birthday comes. She’s probably thinking of me. Yet I almost forget her. She is in New Jersey, in a medical nursing home. She has gone there to die. And to most of us, even those who love her, it’s almost like she’s already dead. I cannot call her to say hi. She can no longer talk! And our busy lives rush past us as she sits. How is it? Counting hours? I want to join her in that prison, see what it’s like not to see anything else but those four ‘tastefully decorated’ walls with the institutional touches. Nurses are her new family. They take the abuse we used to if everything wasn’t just so. I want to photograph that world that is left behind our mobile and swiftly moving dimension. How many thousand or millions of people live there—soon to be more? The forgotten. I photographed Lynn once before. It was a couple years
back. She was already sliding down this slope but in comparison she was much more mobile. She dressed up like a faded movie star and I gave her wigs and make-up whimsy. This time I don’t think even the clown nose will come in handy. I don’t want to be morbid, or exploitative. I just want to be there to see. I expect boredom. When you’re the only one who can talk, the sound of your own voice becomes annoying. I expect her to be cranky, not to get it. I’m not sure I even get it. It just seems like in this state, details become enormous, and I love details. I’m thinking black and white. Is that typical and nostalgic? I’m thinking of my 50mm 1.4 lens catching as much light as possible and giving me shallow depth of field. I’m also thinking of bringing that fisheye toy camera I got for my birthday. Maybe it would convey a bit of that trapped state. Black and White will be a challenge for me. I haven’t mastered the digital version. Maybe it would be a good challenge to make some beautiful (?) black and white prints for my final project. Or a homebound book? We’ll see.

i wrote this statement for class a few weeks ago. looks like i've ditched the black and white idea