Thursday, April 30, 2009

ode to the east bay {part one}

dearest east bay

i'm in denial that you and i will soon part.
complete and total denial.

and i'm crazy about you.
totally head over heels.
when we met it was like i knew you already
as though i was meant to be here.

at first it was the smiles,
the way i feel seen,
the way ladies dress here (just like me),
the coffee shops with sabrina ward harrison artwork,
the most beautiful cemetery nearby to photowalk in,
the lemon tree in the backyard,
the flowers in bloom,
the amazing food at cafe gratitude,
the immense beauty of the berkeley hills,
the sunshine and springtime thawing my heart,

and then east bay, you outdid yourself,
you gave me friends, amazing ones,
total keepers.

oh rockridge, piedmont, oakland, berkeley,
every book i pick up reads your name,
everywhere i look i see reasons i love you.

so what are we gonna do east bay?
its like we're a love affair that just got started.
perhaps thats the best way to end an affair that just can't be.
to leave while things are still at a peak
and be grateful for what we had together


Monday, April 27, 2009


words aren't coming easy to me these last few days. i'm stumbling over them in conversation and when fingers meet keyboard. but it feels like i have a lot of stories to tell in images, i'm going to let them be the storyteller here for a bit!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

all the ingredients

To Build A Swing
by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Landinsky

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare-
Don't mix them!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let's start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Silver hammers,

Polished teakwood
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,

Mix them, mix them!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

landing softly

its near the time i have to head north again. when i first left i would almost cry at the thought of having to go home. not that vancouver isn't lovely, but i had a catalogue of disappointments and unmet expectations built up from the last few years that had me dreading my return. i can't say i've let go of all of them, but a good chunk of them don't have the hold on me that they did when i left.

i mean, vancouver is a pretty beautiful place to live. i could list all the reasons i don't love it, but instead i'd like to approach going back as though it was a new place, because i feel fairly changed and wonder how much of my struggles with vancouver is just it mirroring back what I was going through there....that if I am looking for newness and beauty that is what i'll find.

so, to try and not have a bit let down upon my return i've been pondering some ideas of how to make it a good homecoming. i've started this list of ideas of how to make sure there is lots of beauty awaiting me.

~register for the classes i'm most inspired by at the college where i'm working on a photography diploma. a darkroom class as well as another alternative photographic processes excited for these!

~make a blurb book from some of the thousands of pictures i've taken while i've been here. i'm definitely going to do'll be such a good keepsake and also be a good way for me to show and tell about the trip with friends back home.

~make some friend dates for promptly upon my return. i miss these beautiful souls and am so excited to sit in front of them again!

~make a hair appointment with my fabulous friend who is the only one i trust to cut my hair

~put some books i'm excited to read on hold at the library so that they are waiting for me to pick up as soon as i get back...that way i'll have some inspiration awaiting me.

i'd so love any suggestions or stories about ways you've created a good homecoming for yourselves and avoided the post-trip blues!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

and then she became bokeh

her laugh was always the loudest one in the room. after its initial intensity it slowly faded like she was singing down an octave until it softened into almost a sigh. for the first while after she left this earth i could still hear her laugh.

tonight i was watching an episode of the show House in which one of the characters kills himself. that's the moment that i turned into a weeping mess in my rocking chair and had a good, shoulder shaking, deep down cry. it came over me like a tidal wave release i hadn't known i needed to have.

i had been thinking about her, Alex, over the last few days. i knew it was coming up to 4 years and that i am the age now that she was when she left. i don't think about her as much as the years have passed and don't visit with her in dreams anymore. i actually mostly think of her in moments when i'm just so amazed at how beautiful the world is. her choice to leave reconfirmed my choice to live as fully as possible.

and today i miss her laugh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


i'm one grateful girl, for such things as:

~all of the really kind comments on the last post. i hope to be able to write a post someday about how beautiful it was to meet each of you. except the lovely brie (being an old dear sweet friend and all), i hope to post someday about a beautiful viv~brie island reunion! shall we?

~lots of connecting over the weekend. A photo walk with one friend, a photoshoot with another. Its has also been so lovely connecting with the real, kind and inspiring andrea, this time over the best vegetarian, gluten free chili at a hidden gem of a cafe.

~seeing dar williams and melissa ferrick on sunday evening. that was my 3rd time seeing melissa play in the last year and she never ceases to amaze me with her talents and have me on the floor laughing at her hilarious nerotic self. and dar....i've been a dar fan for a long time now and was excited to see her. but i didn't realize how impactful her music has been on me and how a few songs would bring me near tears. sigh. also, sitting right up in front of the stage with my camera, along with the other photographer~types in the audience. truly it is the best seat in the house!

~working on the photos from the weekend ethereal woodsy photo shoot. doing my happy dance over lots of the photos!

~a lovely trip to target tonight (oh target i will miss you...and trader joe's too) and finding a few brightly colored dresses on sale. walking home a busker was singing 'all you need is love' and now its stuck in my head. the perfect song for these days.

~the most beautiful blossom that i keep coming across (as pictured above). i have no clue what it is but it has the potential to rival the magnolia blossoms as my floral obsession!

~two more concerts ahead. live music fills me up like nothing else so i'm excited to have this much beautiful music in my life this week.

~summer plans. rockin' classes back home at the college, folk fest, maybe a cottage trip, lots of re-connecting i hope.

~avocados from the farmers market, lemons from the backyard and really good mexican food.

~optimism about going home

Friday, April 10, 2009


Until about 6 months ago, I couldn't really tell you why I blog. Interestingly enough I've been at it for about 5 years now and you'd think after all that time I'd know. This week I had a look back at my archives and was clear about 2 things: that i used to swear a lot in posts and that i am incredibly thankful that I do this.

As a teenager I journalled pretty intensely, having got into it through an outdoor/experiential education program I took in high school which gave me an 'out of the box' school experience. It was part of our coursework to journal and, well, I never looked back. I feel like blogging is like journaling's cousin, with close family ties but very unique lives of their own. Its a place both to work through things and to embody space and put myself 'out there'. A place to be safe as well as vulnerable and sometimes just a way to work on showing up. Something that only really changed in the last while was that this became a way to connect with people.

Now, connecting with people hasn't really been my forte in the last few years. I'd gone into a depression a few years back and ever since then I've been in a bit of a bubble of solitude. I found it really hard to connect with people again, especially some friendships that already existed in my life. You see, I'm not the person I used to be. I used to be much more of a supportive friend, one to come to in crisis, one who'd do anything for you. But all of that giving got used up and there I was with an empty well and nothing left to give. So I sat at the bottom of the giving well for a while and tried to see if I could cry it full. That didn't work either so I climbed out of the well of emptiness, found a camera and started filling the well up with beauty, hope and self-understanding.

Since those days I've kept my friendship circle kind of small, feeling really awkward and unsure of how to connect with people. I mean really connect. What does that mean? How does that look or feel? What creates that? Am I really connecting with the friends I have? Is there really space for the authentic me in my friendships? Why do some connections happen instantly and others go at a snail's pace? I consumed myself with these questions for a while, as I still sat in my solo bubble.

And then I came to california...

Seriously, a change of scene does wonders for the soul. I swear I worry far less about things outside my control these days. I stopped worrying about connecting and started doing it. When I first arrived I was amazed at how powerful it felt to simply connect with strangers through kind smiles, how easy it was to strike up a conversation with people in the neighbourhood I'm staying in, how much of a community feeling there was. I've learned what an important part of connection this is. To feel seen and like a part of something, even when alone, gives me a place to begin.

One of the loveliest of treats in this trip has been connecting with some new friends. These ladies above just warm my heart right up. We went out for dinner at cafe gratitude this week and it was so nice to be in the company of such wise, creative, sassy, lovely women. Honestly, in connecting with two I haven't even pondered all of those former worries. Kate is writer, photographer and blogger and Valerie a photographer and all-round creative lady as well as a blog reader (and hopefully a blogger someday if we're lucky) and it just felt like we had some beautiful solid ground to begin connecting on. I'm totally sad that I'm leaving soon as it feels like we've just begun some seriously awesome friendships. Thankfully we still have some time to pack in lots of hanging out!

Thats what I'm realizing about this whole blogging thing. That its not just about me. Not at all. Its about telling my stories and discovering myself and what inspires me and putting it out there in the hopes that someone will relate to it and that we will each feel a little more seen or understood.

Not only have I made a few fabulous new friends, but have tracked down an incredible one from years back (caroliiiiiiiinnnnnne) and have been able to connect with fabulous women around the globe. In this time we live in where we have the means to create connection outside of the bubble of our own community, I can't help but think it makes life all the more richer.

When I used to read blog posts somewhat like this one I would totally feel jealous. Why is everyone out their in the blogging world becoming new best friends while I'm just sitting here alone? I feel like I'm coming to realize that connection is far more simple than I thought. Its really just about reaching out with openness, hope and authenticity and then experiencing the ways that paths do or don't intersect.

And being out of the bubble of solitude? It feels kind of like this afternoon when the sun came out after a week of rain and I put on my sundress and I just let it fall on my shoulders and remind me that everything comes around again and that winter always thaws into spring.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

a poetic afternoon

this afternoon found me sitting in an auditorium at the san francisco library listening to 5 poets read from their most recent work. there is something truly beautiful about the audience at a poetry reading. the listening capabilities of such a crowd are like nothing else.

i had gone to the reading specifically to hear Chris Abani, who's storytelling and poetry are grounding, humanizing and quite beautiful. Chris was amazing, had us all mezmerized with his words and brought our respectful silence into connected laughter. but it was another poet, Ellen Bass, and one poem in particular that really stood out to me as the one I won't forget. By the end of the poem, the quiet crowd all took a beautiful collective sigh.

Gate C22 by Ellen Bass

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching —
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn't look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after — if she beat you or left you or
you're lonely now — you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009


there's something about these last few months. its as though the conditions have been just right, my hope and openness have been ready, the sun has been bright enough, there have been just the perfect amount of kind smiles, adventures and new connections, the perfect amount of chaos and peace.

the truth is, i just haven't been this happy in a very long time. i mean, life has been good over the last few years and getting better every day, but they were still somewhere around the right degree of contentment. but these days (most days) i'm just downright happy.

i didn't really have any expectations about my time away from home. i was hoping it would give me some perspective, shake things up a bit, and keep me warm during the winter...but thats about it. when you have never been somewhere its hard to place demands on it...and i'm so glad about that. and it's turned out to be such a beautiful and gentle adventure of opening.

so last night when andrea and i went on a garden adventure to get a picture for her beautiful new superhero necklace design called Bloom, it got me thinking about how perfect that word is to describe how life has felt lately. its like this beautiful bud that is my heart and my self was finally ready to open up and bloom.

all of andrea's necklaces are truly divine. but this one...this one gets me giddy just looking at it. its totally radiant and truly scrumptious! i highly recommend treating yourself to one of her necklaces at some point (if you haven't already). looking in the mirror and seeing such beautiful colours can't help but widen your smile.

and i wonder...what ways is your life in bloom?