Saturday, 10 July 2010
wowza. how did it get to be july already?
i feel like i've been in a perpetual state of jetlag for a month. or 6 weeks. which is nice when you live on the west coast, because it means you wake up early every day and getting out of bed isn't a struggle in the pre-dawn hours. but i guess in a seattle summer, pre-dawn hours are 3:30am, so maybe getting up that early isn't such a great thing.
anyhow. haiti, new york, rwanda, amsterdam, north carolina, oregon, etc etc. next week, D.C. (dear D.C. friends, can you work on getting the temperature dialed down a bit there? thanks.)
life is busy. blogs are in short supply. but i have lots of thoughts, and photos, and videos. someday i'll share them all.
as always, life is beautiful, with moments of pain and sadness, but overall good.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
i suppose everyone has their own definition of what life as a roller coaster looks like. so here's mine.
may 1 - may 10 : haiti
may 20 - 25 : home in NC
june 1 - june 9 : rwanda
july : places that shall remain unnamed until i am certain they will be visited
freshest in my mind is home. it occurred to me today how beautiful it is that my trip home was sandwiched between two rather intense overseas escapades. it's not like i'm chilling in europe for a week.
(actually, side note, i get to spend the day in amsterdam on the way to rwanda. so excited.)
thoughts back are reflections. thoughts forward are perceptions. you need time to process both. home was a lovely place for that... quality conversation and time spent with each member of my family, and a good number of friends. and i have this week, semi low-key in seattle, to do laundry, make passport copies, eat normal food, sleep, charge my gear, make travel playlists, exercise, and essentially live like a normal human being before catapulting my body a million miles an hour through the air in a winged metal tube, continent hopping until i reach a place i've never been to do a story i never imagined.
the weekend at home was full of bike rides, motorized and non, thunderstorms, more food than i thought i could fit inside me, presents, snuggling, youtube videos, parties, warm weather, prayer, nertz, being outside, dresses, excellent conversation, and lots of love. just what i needed. despite all the travel, i've felt extra full of energy this week.
there's too much to say. it wasn't sad. it wasn't shocking. it was everything i remember, except port-au-prince was worse and leogane was better. so beyond that, here's some photos. you've seen the pain, the destruction, the ugliness enough. i want you to know that haiti is beautiful. beautiful beyond imagination. and these hills remain one of my favorite places in the world.
and two notes:
the craziest part: 4.4 earthquake the 3rd day we were there. mom and i were on the second floor of a concrete church and i was lying on a bench with my eyes closed. when i felt the shaking start, i thought it was someone who snuck up behind me and was shaking the bench. i opened my eyes and mom's were wide — "that was an earthquake. we have to get out." and just like that it was over. we heard later that more buildings fell in the city and a few more people died.
the best part: i have two.
1. i spent my 24th birthday at the orphanage in leogane:
2. do you see this beautiful man? he may be the most beautiful man i've ever seen. his name is dubreas sereme and he lives on the backside of a hill in rural leogane. you'd never know his house was there unless you were looking for it, or happened to fall over the hill on top of it. the kids took me up into the hills to find mangos, and we ate from his tree. i didn't know it was his, and when i heard him coming up the hill to meet us, i thought he might be angry. instead he walked straight up to me with his arms full of mangos — 10 or 15 — and dumped them all in my lap. he was so generous, giving the best and the most of what he had. i didn't have my camera with me, so the next day, my birthday, we went back to find him because i needed a portrait of this man. we found him sitting outside his house, braiding rope for his goats. it took me a while to work up the nerve to take his picture... i don't know what i was so nervous about, but i finally did and showed it to him on the back (praise the lord for digital). when he saw it he said, "oh, bel bagaye," which means, "oh that's a beautiful thing." i wondered if he'd ever seen a photo of himself.
at the moment, i'm feeling a little overwhelmed with packing, cleaning my house, making sure i'm taking all the right gear, paying my bills, etc. compounding the hectic nature of preparing to leave the country is the fact that i don't have internet at home for whatever reason. fortunately, there's the sweetest little coffee shop across the street that has it for free, so long as i get some tea, etc. so here i am, running my last errands on the interwebs before i leave the country.
anyhow. i've been reading a lot about rwanda, but it's difficult to find anything to read that's not about the genocide. those who have been there before are sometimes a better resource than anything published, and over and over i keep hearing how beautiful it is. the land of a thousand hills.
it's hard to say what i'm thinking or feeling at the moment. under the rush of stuff to get done, there's a lot happening in my head and heart. i'm not sure if i know how to put that in words yet. i'm sure i'll have much more to say when i come home.
i've never visited this great, busy, beautiful, diverse continent of africa. a new adventure.
also stopping over in amsterdam on the way there, as we have a 12 hour layover and i'm not trying to stay in the airport that whole time. have never been to this great city either, so i'm excited for that. this gets me excited:
anyhow. that's life right now. this blog brought to you by cafe ladro, a few hours of sleep, jared gourevitch, mamma metty, dubreas sereme, and world vision usa. it was also written over the course of this entire week, as my internet has been patchy (as i mentioned), so forgive the truncation. the roller coaster, remember?
xoxo, back soon.
Thursday, 29 April 2010
i've given into the habit of not packing for big trips until the night before. i've just accepted that that's the way i do it and i can't really be persuaded to change.
when i was little, i'd get so excited about a trip that i'd pack 2 weeks in advance, and kill the thrill before it was even time to leave. i think whatever my behavior has evolved to now is proof that 1) i'm not a controlling type-A oldest child anymore (maybe?) and 2) if i ever was, perhaps i'm subconsciously revolting against it now through the simple expression of self in packing.
leaving for this place with mama metty on friday morning.
somehow i think its unfair that it will take her all of 8 hours to get there, and me 23. it's in the same hemisphere. i don't understand.
i'm approaching this trip with mixed feelings.
i'm thrilled to be in haiti again.
i'm unsure of how i'll react to everything that's happened. brokenness on top of brokenness.
i ache to see the kids again.
i'm excited to paint their nails and play soccer with them.
i'm a little... or a lot... scared of the tarantulas in our tent.
i'm nervous about all my gear working and lasting.
i'm looking forward to rice and beans and plantains, but wondering how hard it is to get food there.
i'm not sure if i even want to eat while there.
i want to have enough compassion and wisdom for everyone i lock eyes with.
mwe reme ayiti.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
i'm fascinated by missionary kids. not modern ones, not ones i've grown up with, but people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s whose parents decided to uproot their family and plant them abroad. the kids didn't have any say in that. and now they are adults, and its so interesting to see who they are and what they've become.
i work and meet a lot of these grown up missionary kids at world vision. my boss's parents were missionaries in northern india, essentially in the himalayas. i met a woman the other day who went to the high school in port-au-prince where my mom taught in the 80s. one of my mom's friends from her time in haiti was himself a missionary kid, with a dutch father and a swiss mother, who grew up in indonesia until going to boarding school in switzerland. i don't think the term "third culture kid" even applies to people like this. are there any books written on people who grew up like this?
been thinking about jesus a lot lately. well, yes, of course i have. but i'm talking about the sad swedish jesus that is the mainline image most of the world has of him. how ridiculous is this? truly.
i mean, props to the renaissance and all (rembrandt, you changed the way we think), but you guys really messed it up here. in my modern life, with real people i can see and touch, i don't gravitate towards sad people. if you walked around wearing one of these expressions all the time, i probably wouldn't be your friend.
while i think jesus, as a human, did experience much sadness, i think he was also full of joy. if this is true, maybe the painters just caught him on his PMS days.
i think i keep expecting life to get boring. to settle, to get less scary or intimidating or that i'll coast into another comfort zone and stay there for a while. i'm thankful that that hasn't happened.
one of my new year's resolutions, which i made rather tounge-in-cheek, was to "continue to do things that scare me." it's now april, and that continues to be the case. some of it is self-inflicted, some not, but i don't remember what a comfort zone feels like anymore. honestly, it sits just fine with me. if i can learn now to overrule the fear that comes when i try something new or i get thrown a curve ball, i won't have to struggle to apply the principles when i have other people in my life to take care of, when every decision i make matters so much more because it's not just me anymore.
for example: tomorrow is my last official day on my current contract at world vision. several weeks ago, while i even still had time to find other employment, i had minor meltdowns in my cubicle multiple times a week. i felt frantic and completely out of control. "what am i going to do?" who knows what the real fear is, but it was comprised of 1) i won't be taken care of, 2) i'll be a failure to everyone around me, and 3) i will have to accept defeat by leaving seattle and world vision and return to NC broken because i couldn't follow through with my dream. regarding the first, my imagination is so ridiculous that i had visions of myself as a bag lady feeding the pigeons on the streets of seattle in the rain. pathetic.
i'm going to preface this by saying that i think the new yorker is the most pretentious piece of publication of all time and those who read it regularly probably have a steady diet of grapefruit, tofu, and mojitos and spend their days at bridge clubs espousing the works of moliere (is it too late to say "no offense" to those of you who read it?). but, i confess, i was reading it a few days ago and came across this short story. it's rather long, and not entirely applicable to my situation, but this resonated with me:
"He feels like a man who has fallen asleep at the wheel and has awakened to find his car lurching off a cliff. He has applied the brake, he has swung the wheel to the side, he has offered up a silent prayer, but it is too soon to see whether he has done these things in time. He can only wait for the next moment to come, and hope as hard as he can." -Ben Loory, "The TV"
that's where i felt i was. i had done all i could do; the only thing left was to hope as hard as i could. and the meltdowns subsided and gradually faded away, as they always do, and i'm left to the last second still not knowing what will happen... but being either completely indifferent to it, or totally at peace (depending on the day, i think).
back to jesus again (not the sad swedish one, but the swarthy happy arab one)... i've known the story of peter walking out to meet jesus on a stormy lake my whole life, but it had been a long time since i'd read it. if you care to read it yourself, its in matthew 14. what i found interesting about it though was that jesus didn't tell peter to come out and meet him on the water, peter asked jesus to ask him to come out there. and jesus did, right away. its as if he was waiting for peter to initiate, and gladly responded when he did. and even when peter, who got himself into a laws-of-nature-defying situation in the first place, began to sink in the water (as all good humans should), jesus immediately pulled him out. the word immediately is used 3 times in that short section of scripture. also interesting.
doing these things that scare me is a way of life that i don't think i'll be giving up for a while. i saw a quote somewhere the other day from dorothy thompson (whoever she is) that goes, "Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." and it resonated with me: a resounding NO. it couldn't be more false! if i stop being afraid, that means i'm doing things that are logical, possible, attainable, easy. if i'm afraid of whatever is coming next, it means that its too big for me to do on my own, which means its more likely the right thing than the thing that is easily grasped because i'm unwilling to reach higher.
so the short story is that april 18 is the day i've been dreading for months, because its the last official day of my contract. but i have a feeling that tomorrow is bringing good news.
whatever the case, life is beautiful and i am in love with it all the more in the springtime.
(speaking of doing things that scare you, i'm reading this book right now and it scares the CHEESE out of me. i don't know if i'll ever do something THIS extreme, but i like reading about those who do) >>
Touching The Void
By Joe Simpson
Friday, 09 April 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
things in my brain right now:
1. i don't understand taxes. how to do them, what the money goes for, how much i owe, how to even fill out the forms.
2. world vision loves acronyms. and when people send me emails with a lot of letters like ADP, 30HF, OVC etc etc i'm more inclined to think they are new kinds of sunscreen. it's all part of the learning curve.
3. waterfront running at sunset... west coast, i love you.
4. trans-siberian railway.
5. buying a gun so that my luggage will never be lost again.
6. how lists are such a useful way to catalogue life and remember where you were when you look back on them later (examples: "life goals" from age 12, circa 1998, and "qualities to find in a husband" from age 16, circa 2002. quality lists, both).
7. how much i love getting mail. real mail, not email. thanks, kate.
8. china. white jade. claire de lune. VPs. being in motion. rain. editing myself. melancholy.
9. vampire weekend.
10. skis on my feet tomorrow. happy happy happy.
11. "that's what boys were made to do. throw rocks in the water." -mom
12. lights will guide you home and ignite your bones. i'm flying east into the sunrise, home.
13. how sometimes the air in the evening in family neighborhoods smells like pot-roast and well-groomed lawns.
14. i love living by the water and the mountains. it does my soul good.
(both views from my bedroom window. not kidding.)
16. jon is back from haiti/yucatan/cuba/pirate-infested waters. my family is awesome.
17. foods i didn't like as a kid: peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, chocolate cake, pizza, bananas. what kind of kid was i!?
18. regina spektor and the beach.
19. abby's BFA.
20. the imminent arrival of and reunion with jessa.
21. how much more exciting life is when you don't have a padded bank account.
22. fear is an enemy. but i will win.
23. i'm 23. its the time of my life. love it.
A Severe Mercy
By Sheldon Vanauken
Thursday, 04 February 2010
how to distill life for the last month into a bite-sized blog? i fee like i've lived three years in four weeks.
there are so many stories to tell that no one single person in my life knows them all. each person is a carrier of a story i've told them, or a few stories. they are fragmented across all my relationships... i don't think even my journal knows all the stories. it has been the kind of month that will take a long while to process. maybe the rest of 2010.
it makes me laugh to read the last blog i wrote, on january 12, not knowing that later that day, an earthquake in a country so dear to our family would change so many things, and so rapidly.
in the chaos, this has been one of the greatest months of my life. i was thinking today about how for 23 years i couldn't escape the feeling that i was being prepared for something, as we all are through primary, middle, and high school, then higher education. while i never want to stop learning and being prepared, now i have the sense that things are beginning. all of a sudden something yanked me and life started moving in warp speed. aside from changes in the weather, there's no delineation between stages of life now, like tidy semesters of days gone by.
and i'm enjoying it.
to sum up the last four weeks...
jan 5: returning to seattle after christmas at home, knowing that i only had one month of savings left, wondering about jobs, living, etc.
jan 11: long phone conversation with mom before her trip to haiti the next day.
jan 12: another ordinary day interning at world vision. in the afternoon my boss jon informed me of the earthquake that had hit close to port-au-prince, where my mom's flight had landed 90 minutes previously.
jan 13: jon, due to leave for a shoot in china five days later, changes travel plans to go to haiti asap. tells me he needs to find someone to replace him.
jan 14: "abby, you're going to china on monday. also, we have to hire you because interns can't go overseas."
jan 16: mom back from haiti, with wild stories.
jan 18: china
jan 27: back to seattle
jan 28: brother to haiti on a pirate ship to deliver supplies and touch base with pastor val
the week of january 12 picked me up in its teeth and shook me hard. i had a million highs and lows over multiple days, obsessively checking news sites, text messages, twitter for news about haiti and being on the phone with my family, friends, and local media until we finally heard from her 24 hours after the quake hit. come to think of it, nothing really slowed down even once we knew she was okay. it was guilt vs ecstasy over and over again.
and then china. china, china, china. i'm so humbled to have gone. i'll post links once the story is done, but it could take months. it will. it was a great first trip to take with WV, being immersed in the history and complexity and nuance of it for a week with our crew.
since i have a lot more than a thousand words to say about it, i'll just put this.
*an oddity from the last 3 years of travel:
in 2007 i traveled to chile and did a story on a 60-something fisherman named ejidio.
in 2008 i traveled to thailand and had a lot of interaction with our 50-something fixer mustafa.
last week i traveled to china and did a story narrated in part by an 80-something man named mr. lin.
immediately following each of these trips, i've received word that these men are in poor health/in the hospital with life-threatening ailments. i'm not sure what to make of this. the one thing that amazes me is that pastor val in haiti, who is 68, is in the best health of all of these men and lives in much more dire circumstances than them. also, he's been shot through the back five times. he just survived haiti's worst modern earthquake. what's the difference? i'm not sure... but i will say that all three previous men have made me laugh until i cried and i still laugh when i remember them. i only have solemn reverence for pastor val. is this the difference? no telling.
anyhow... now that i'm back from china, i am officially employed by world vision, which i am so thankful for.
i'm not kidding when i say: i'm living the dream. what i'm doing now is what i've wanted to do since i decided i wanted to do photojournalism at 16. how many people can say that of their first job?
Jesus is faithful.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (Random House Reader's Circle)
By Tracy Kidder
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
i apologize in advance for the rambling nature of the following blog. it is a result of my fragmented brain, which has been trained for several years (not the entirety of my life, or at least i like to think not) to hop between bits of information, processing many things at once, juggling them all in the gray matter of my membranes and realizing at every 15th synapse fire the connectedness of them all.
there's a glut. we are bombarded. we need headspace.
i took a little headspace this week, didn't check any sort of social networkingness at all, and i didn't miss it. when i logged back on today, i found myself thinking more than once, "the internet is weird." i kept seeing all these names of "friends" whose names i couldn't remember at all... tell me again why we are facebook friends? i also feel like i lost some brain cells somewhere along the way after a return to this strange cyber society... this could also partially be due to 4 weeks of holiday, filled with plenty of bad food, ridiculous movies, high blood pressure card games, and general hilarity and love and snuggling. brilliant.
another part of the headspace was fasting. i didn't realize how much i would enjoy it. how fun can not eating be? maybe fun isn't the right word, but the definitive word of the week was clarity. i felt clean; body, soul, and spirit. i can't think of a better way to begin a new year. a new decade.
it focused my mind and heart on what's necessary, eliminating the unnecessary.
what i'm finding, what i've been finding for several months now, is the good news. growing up in church, it's easy to lose sight of what brought you there in the first place. your parents are christians, so you're pretty much born a christian, right? it's in your genes. and what i'm realizing is this:
step 1: i am fundamentally broken.
step 2: there's no way in hell i can save myself from this brokenness, no hope of being a "good person."
step 3: jesus.
this is my very crude explanation of the gospel, but again, clarity... the simplicity and beauty of it is dawning more and more day by day.
i am broken, yet i am meant to be with jesus. i can't make this happen. he specializes in rescuing.
i am not rescued once, but he saves me from myself and redeems my malignancy day by day. it never ends.
it's a truth you have to get for yourself, because i could go on all day about how incredible this is, but you won't understand until it dawns in your heart.
meanwhile, the doubts, the frustrations, the uncertainty remains. there's no shame in that, because he is patient. i've always been able to relate to this song, and any song that is honest about the conflict between seeing and not seeing, the difficulty in knowing this very strange and wonderful truth.
other things that emerged from time getting headspace and clarity:
i need two things to stay sane each day: nature and books.
reflections on 2009 and thoughts for 2010.
inauguration / special olympics / graduation / cross-country relocation / oregonian / seattle / world vision
lots of questions marks. lots of thoughts to write on paper and not in bloggage. question marks equal uncertainty but do not equal anxiety. that might have been the biggest takeaway from 2009. all i know for now is that i'm committed to staying in seattle for a few more months, and then we shall see where necessity, relationships, life, and jesus take me. hopefully it's still here.
momma is going to haiti for a week tomorrow. she and dad began a story a quarter century ago, and the journey still isn't over. i'm amazed at how it's continued, how it's involved each member of our family and drawn in so many other lives. it's the kind of story that begins "long long ago in a land far far away" and has plenty of long slumbers and dragons and beautiful faces and wicked rulers and sons of kings in it. it's a good one. i'm glad to be part of it.
i'm living in a new place in seattle... i have no complaints about looking out my window and seeing ferries crossing the sound at night and the olympic mountains during the day.
2010. this is going to be good.
Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
By Greg Mortenson
Saturday, 09 January 2010
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
something else i'm learning: everyone starts small.
i found this great article about a guy who has a super successful coffee business in austin (a place that i'm beginning to realize is probably AWESOME and i would love... why have i not been here yet?), and i love how he tells the beginning of his story... the part where he dropped out of the naval academy, lived in a shed and worked odd jobs while he pursued his dream.
i love to hear the beginning of things... how people knew what they loved to do, and knew what they might want the end result to look like, but didn't really know how to get there. they just sort of started feeling it out. unless your last name is hilton or kennedy, i think it's kind of hard to have a clear path laid out for how you'll succeed... or if you will. even then, i sure wouldn't trade my family name for either of those.
anyhow, the beginning makes the end better.
there's no reason to despair that i have no furniture, am not making a salary, don't know if i'll have a job in the spring, and am living off the kindness of strangers and friends. i'm living in a city i love, surrounded by people i enjoy more and more each time i see them, and pursuing this dream to tell stories.
and you can't tell a great story unless you live a great story, right?
Banker To The Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
By Muhammad Yunus
Saturday, 21 November 2009
i came here to zoka today, fully intending to work, knock out a project i've been at since september.
instead i've been writing for an hour and half. thinking, thinking, thinking.
here's the thing: far too often,
and when i write, it comes out of my head onto paper, where it makes much more sense and is much less scary.
so i feel better.
and here's some things that have been living in my head lately, and i've digested, and taken pen to paper to wrestle it out. so now its filtered for blog land. sort of.
ONE: work. job.
what do these words mean? what do you think a job is?
a nine to five?
a suit and tie?
a clock in, clock out?
something that leads to a career?
an easy answer for, "what do you do"?
all things i've thought. all things society tells us that "job" means.
but what i've learned, slowly, since being in seattle and working unpaid only 3 days a week is that work is simply
what am i doing today to be productive? what task is before me? what must i put my hands to today?
regardless of whether or not there is money on the other side, this is my work.
some days my job is to go to world vision and do what i do there.
some days it is to watch the kids so danielle and perry can get a break.
some days it is to encourage the people around me, to spend all the free time i have with them.
some days it is to work on this freelance video.
some days it is to simply rest. yes. that is a job description.
i'm learning to roll with the spontenaity of life and take what comes. no need to fret. in a few years, i will long for these days when i was untethered from so many responsibilities.
TWO: distance and relationships
one hundred years ago, when you met a nice guy and married him, it was probably in your hometown. you probably grew up with him and his parents knew yours and he went from a childhood friend to a sweetheart to a lover. you were probably never separated, until one of you died. ever.
now, you go to college a few hours or a few days from home, meet a nice guy who is hours and days from his hometown, decide you can't live without him, but then you also decide that you can't live without a great post-grad opportunity in a place that's far far away. or maybe he decides the same thing. now you're far apart, trying to make it work. not to mention your families that you don't live anywhere close to. then you decide to tie the knot... where do you live? wherever it works for both of you to start a life together. is it close to your family or his? maybe. maybe not. have you spent a good portion of your relationship separated? maybe. maybe not.
point is: what is this doing to our culture? i know so many people who have had long-distance relationships... almost everyone i know, actually. sometimes they work, but more often than not, they don't. and the ones that do work are fraught with so many tears and lots of aches and pains. how does this change the long-term relationship? and what does it mean to disconnect yourself spatially from your family, the roots that fed and raised you and can give you further support as you do life with a new person? locational mobility has increased many times over since baby boomers started going to college, sending their kids to college, and those kids sent their kids (me) to college. we're all educated, learning these things about the big wide world that make us want to explore and change and contribute far away from what's familiar to us. there are so many gains in this, but at what cost? what are we losing?
is this healthy? is it right? is it escapable? overcomeable?
i'm enjoying my exploration for the moment, but part of me wonders... will i ever find my way home? what if i end up far away for a long time? will it feel like home again?
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
By Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
i find myself returning to art.
it's been a long time since i created just for me.
took pictures just for me.
i like taking pictures, but doing it for the love of it has been long-lost.
i've only realized this since coming to seattle.
i think my inner artist, so shy for so long, is re-emerging after a very long hiatus. if i'm honest, the last time i made art for art's sake, just for the pleasure of creating, just for the joy of shaping something out of nothing and holding it my two hands, was in high school.
tell me if i'm wrong, but there's a lot of fear associated with creating.
you're putting yourself out there. art isn't fact, and no one tries to take it as such, so therefore its up for discussion, appreciation, ridicule, dismissal, praise. maybe there isn't that fear once you get into a flow. you find your stride and you're just so happy making pictures that to you are beautiful (and won't necessarily go into your portfolio) that what anyone else thinks is just noise.
i've joined the goodfoot art collective, a group of artists and performers in seattle, a few of whom are my friends. the rest i haven't met yet, but we have a shoot on saturday and some shows coming up soon, which i'm really excited about.
my freshman year at carolina, a friend told me about st. anthony's hall, the co-ed arts fraternity on campus. i loved the idea of a bunch of artists coming together and sharing their work as their dues. but there were still dolla bill dues, more than i could afford, and though i considered pledging, i opted out. so when milton told me about goodfoot, i was in. i think it will push me in some really great, healthy ways. i'll keep you posted.
for now, here's some of what's been inspiring me lately:
1. K E X P 90.3, my favorite seattle indie radio station.
this morning i heard an amazing story about a 22-year-old artist from new jersey who is off-the-charts brilliant... and he can't communicate except through his art. he's autistic, in the extreme, and it took his parents YEARS to figure out what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. they finally found that he's a genius artist and has a relentless drive to create. what struck me is that maybe some people are made with focus and creativity so incredible that it limits other aspects of their humanity. i couldn't decide if this is beautiful or tragic. i almost cried, sitting in traffic on I-5. that would be like me.
anyhow, this guy, alex masket, made the cover art for a new compilation album out of NYC where a bunch of artists were asked to interpret the quatrains of Nostradamus and make music based on their interpretations.
you can listen and read about the project on ESOPUS magazine's site here. natureboy's "ode to merry maid" might be my favorite.
2. bon iver's sunrise concert at a hollywood graveyard.
also heard about this on K E X P yesterday morning. how did i miss this?! bon iver, along with a bunch of others, organized an event that started at 2 am and included a wes anderson film, planet earth + march of the penguins, sleeping bags, wine, coffee, pastries, buddhist monks, tombs full of hollywood stars, fog, and bon iver taking the stage at ten till 6. if his songs aren't perfect for dawn, i don't know who's are. sounds like the greatest concert i've never been to in my life.
3. sigur ros
i'm always inspired by sigur ros. i'm almost always in the mood to listen to them.
related confession: i don't like radiohead. i've tried and i've tried. all my most knowledgeable, music-loving, artsy friends LOVE radiohead and i just can't.
strangely, sigur ros is similar. but here's what i realized: when i listed to radiohead, i feel as if there is no hope left, as if the sun will never come out again. but when i listen to sigur ros, the same raw emotion is there, but i know the sun will break through the clouds eventually, even if the promise of light isn't for always. must be the hopelandic.
here's my favorite music videos (which are just as lovely as the songs by themselves):
untitled #1 (vaka)
and now, to put myself out there (not like i haven't already on facebook, twitter, etc). here's some of my favorites from around seattle lately...
(can you tell i've been listening to a lot of sigur ros and bon iver lately?)
ps: if you're reading this wondering what else i'm doing besides just living in seattle and taking pretty pictures, i started an internship with World Vision USA this week, doing photo research, photography, and video editing. i'm juiced. its so good.
What Is the What (Vintage)
By Dave Eggers
Thursday, 08 October 2009
i read somewhere once that "seattle" is an indian word that translates to "sea elf," but i really can't remember where i saw that. you'll have to take my (very probably errant) word on that.
anyway, i live here now. i'm staying with old family friends for a few months... they've just moved here from scotland with their 4 kids, and they are a blast. here are scottish words and phrases i'm learning from them:
trousers (what elise calls jeans)
wee (c'mon... you know this)
out of sorts (just funny when elise uses it to describe her play makeup)
shame (instead of, "too bad")
den (base, when you're playing tag)
and the kids lift their voices at the end of a question in an accent that is decidedly un-american. its very cute.
this is my new tiny sister elise. i call her tiny instead of little because she is. she's tiny. and adorable, and talks a lot. my first morning here, she opened my door at 7:15 and, wriggling next to my bed, said "good MORNING abby! i always run down when we have guests and wake them up before mommy and daddy get up!" she then got in bed with me and talked and talked and talked. when she stopped for breath, she said, "you're a CHATTERBOX!" um....
when i'm not applying lipstick, coloring my little pony pictures, or drawing ice cream castles, i'm helplessly wandering around seattle getting lost, because my GPS seems to be getting senile. i swear, she never knows how to get me anywhere. i need to get my exploring done because next week i start at world vision in the photo/video departments, which i'm so excited about i could run around with jazz hands all day.
so let me just tie all the loose ends together and close this blog by saying, there are two things i really want in life:
failing that, i will settle for a gigantic library (though if there is a way to put one in a treehouse, that would be optimal).
who's with me? let's build a treehouse.
By Owl City
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
it really shouldn't be that difficult to find california. it's a big state, and it shares a border with the state i currently live in. also, i have GPS. and there's this great newfangled invention called googlemaps.
common sense, GPS, and google, yes even google, failed me this weekend.
my assignment was in jacksonville, oregon, quite close to the border of california. i had a bit of downtime before my assignment, so i decided to take a little trek to the redwood forest. my sources told me it was a mere 2 hours away, perfect day trip length, leaving me enough time to get back and shoot my story. a straight shot on the highway through some gorgeous country and bam, i'm in one of the world's oldest forests.
after an hour of driving in circles, i was still only 10 miles from my starting point, and lord knows how far from the redwoods. though the battery was dying, i turned on the GPS.
with my tires on pavement, the uppity librarian robot voice (who i named eunice at the beginning of the summer when i drove cross country) told me, "you are not on a road. getting on a road is the first step of your journey. go to hoot-n-holler lane."
no hoot-n-holler lane in sight. i kept driving. eunice corrected herself and told me to keep going straight. i did, and suddenly i was on a road without marking, rapidly ascending a mountain. what. i gave it a mile, then turned around. eunice freaked out, so i turned her off.
i had passed a general store during my circling, so i circled back to find it again and get directions. though the store looks exactly like one you'd see in a wild west movie, it was full of hipsters and people my age who looked rather out of place. as the guy at the counter was giving me a map and directions, i noticed a man to my left who didn't look out of place at all. he was exactly the kind of person you'd expect in a place like that — old, skinny, wearing a camouflage hat.
not only that, but he had a hook for a hand. yes, a hook. furthermore, strapped around his hips was a tooled leather holster with an ivory-handled pistol, on the same side as the hook. how do you pick up a gun with a hook?
guy at the counter: pointing to the map, "we call this four corners." eunice calls this hoot-n-holler lane. "go straight, you're going to go over a mountain. it's very winding and very beautiful. i could send you another way but it would take you a lot longer."
captain hook: "heh heh. you're sending her over the mountain. heh heh. i was just up there this morning. noooobody up there. heh heh."
i ignored captain hook and concentrated on the directions, still baffled. i thanked the hipster at the counter and left, and as i pulled out of the parking lot past the store, there was captain hook, ever sinister and chuckling. i waved and grinned.
the road was the same that i had been on before, and yes, winding and beautiful. but also mostly unpaved, very narrow, had some fallen trees and lots of forks, and no signs to indicate which direction to go. so i did a lot of guessing. also, given that it is a rural mountain road, the chances of driving off the edge are higher than say, driving on I-5. all the while i had visions of myself careening over the edge in the jeep, only to be found weeks later with my tongue dried up, my body bloated, and crows picking out my eyes. i'm sorry to be so gruesome, but i have an overactive imagination when it comes to these scenarios.
i also ran over my first ever animal, a tiny squirrel who i thought i dodged, then i saw in my rearview mirror his tail fluttering like a flag of surrender. i'm so sorry, little squirrel. i'm traumatized, and you are dead.
the moral of the story is that i finally did find the redwoods, but instead of 2 hours to get there, it took 4. i think hipster and captain hook were in kahoots and sent me that way because i was an infiltrator, perhaps from california (they hate california here), and hoped i would be eaten by bears. faster way, my foot.
today is my second to last day at the oregonian, and saturday i'm moving to seattle. so it's time to be a little reminiscent.
sherlock holmes says that "the little things are infinitely the most important," and it is the little things about portland that have endeared this city to me. so, goodbye portland.
i will miss your cool in the morning, the need for a jacket in summer that is gone by noon.
i will miss your love of bicycles and excellent biking lanes (and bike snobs. someday i will be one of you).
i will miss your stinky dogfood smell, willamette river, and your sweet brownie smell, woodlawn.
i will miss you, powell's, oh how i will miss you.
i will miss you, any day of the week garage sales.
i will miss you, hawthorne street and mt tabor.
i will miss you, oregonian, and your old romantic notion of the newsroom with its rough-around-the-edges inhabitants and endearing pessimism and incessant swearing.
i will miss you, food carts on 10th & alder, especially addy's.
i will miss you, wednesday farmer's market.
i will miss you, southwest trails.
i will miss you, full service gas stations.
i will miss you, little brown room with strung-up paper cranes.
i will miss you, hilarious oregonian security guards.
i will miss you, company jeep 112.
i will miss you, broadway bridge.
i will miss you, wild pioneer oregonians.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Oxford World's Classics)
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
i never thought i'd become a tattoo artist and run a health clinic in the same day.
but sunday, that's just what i did. i volunteered at the "Step Into Africa" exhibit put on by World Vision at the puyallup fair in washington. it's similar to WV's AIDS Experience (which, by the way, travels, so you can see it somewhere close to you), where visitors walk through rooms set up like african homes and villages, and can perform tasks that show them what life is like for millions of children in africa. at the exhibit on sunday, visitors came in and received a passport and folder with a child in need of sponsorship and filled out information about the kids along the way. visitors carried oil cans and other plastic vessels filled with water, planted seeds, learned words in swahili, and lay on cots beneath mosquito nets. which is where i came in.
my job was to slap hundreds of temporary tattoos of mosquitos on children (and some adults) while telling them about malaria and how it kills more children than HIV/AIDS in africa. after four hours, i grew weary of my spiel, but it went something like this:
"i'm giving you a mosquito tattoo because mosquitoes carry a yucky disease called malaria that kills lots of kids in africa every year, more than even AIDS. but there's a really easy way they can stay safe... do you see that mosquito net over that cot in there? if kids sleep under those the mosquitoes can't get to them and they can't get stung and they can't get sick. you can get two nets for $6 and four kids can sleep under that and stay safe!"
then i'd hand their parents the info about how to donate $6, sometimes while asking the kids, "how much do you get for allowance? four dollars a week? wow! you could buy a net and help save two kids' lives!"
and, deep though that is for a 7-year old, lots of eyes would light up... "i heard about malaria at school! we raised money for kids with malaria!" "mommy, do you have $6? can we do that?" one girl told me she heard about malaria on animal planet. they seemed to get it. these are kids like them dying because of a mosquito bite. what's annoying in america is life or death in africa.
and i posted this oh-so-realistic picture yesterday that had some of you fooled because you believed that i actually harbored and killed a mosquito this large on my arm. no, but it's a reminder of what's more than skin deep in africa.
here's how you can give $6 to get 2 nets (or link here to learn more):
text BEDNET to 467467... you'll get a confirmation text and then a phone call
i waited all day for a kid to ask me to put one on his forehead. then i scored.
there were a few sour spots in the day... people always have interesting ideas about africa. one lady came up to me and said that she read somewhere that african health clinics run by baptists wash and reuse sterile gloves. "are you affiliated with them?" she asked suspiciously. "i saw actual picture photos of these reused gloves in a bin with a sign written in AMERICAN that said they were taking used glove donations." i really didn't know how to respond to this, so i just turned to the next kid... "i'm giving you a mosquito tattoo because mosquitoes carry a yucky disease called malaria..." she eventually left.
another woman, a grandmother, who's daughter and grandchild were interested in the life-saving ability of the nets, said to me behind her hand with a wink and a nod, "i already sponsor a child, so i think i'm good." as if $6 more would break her bank.
maybe i'm being too judgmental. but i was surprised by the widespread health concern about malaria in africa and how simple it is to combat. we're not fighting AIDS here. we're not spending millions to find the cure to a horrible disease. we're giving kids nets to sleep under safe from the venomous mouths of mosquitoes.
how much more simple could it be?
Thursday, 17 September 2009
speed blogging, here we go. i am due to be out of the office in 15 minutes, so it's enough time to distill life from the past few weeks into a few brief paragraphs/lists.
for labor day i went to visit mike + sue, the aforementioned wonderful oregonians taylor and i did a story on this summer. since the story came out a few weeks ago, they aren't really sources/subjects anymore and so have now become friends. or really, more like grandparents. they've been asking me to come visit for a while, so i took the first opportunity with a day off and no agenda to trek out to their mountain home up a dirt road in my civic... right.
they offered to have me spend the night and when i politely declined, stating that i had to work the next morning, sue asked what time i was due at work. when i said 10, she said, "oh for GOD'S SAKES! i changed the sheets and everything! you have plenty of time!" and so i stayed in their log cabin in mt hood.
but before the sun went down, they took me to a waterfall a few miles up the mountain so i could get a little more flavor of their home. it's a 2 mile hike in, and mike swore we wouldn't make it in and out before dark. sue was on a mission to prove him wrong, so we made the hike in 20 minutes. i kid you not. unless i was running, i don't think i've ever covered 2 miles that fast, especially in the woods.
i may or may not have seen an elk a few weeks ago on assignment on the oregon trail, but just to verify, i told mike and sue i was hopeful for a bear or elk sighting in the woods. we picked huckleberries on the way up, and where there are berries, there are bears, so my hopes were high.
yet as we hiked along the secluded trail, i began to worry. what if we really DID see a bear or an elk? elk may just sound like a cousin to a deer, which is true, but elk are more territorial and can quickly charge a threatening human. we all know how dangerous bears are, though at the end of berry season, less so.
we hiked single file — sue leading the way, me in the middle, and mike bringing up the rear. i timidly asked sue, "what should we do if we really see a bear or elk?"
without missing a beat she said, "oh just get down and mike will shoot it."
i turned around wide-eyed, and before i could finish asking, "do you have a gun?!" saw him fumbling beneath his timber-cutting plaid shirt for his pistol.
i was at once terrified and reassured, yet the terror was only momentary, quickly and greatly outweighed by incredulity at the people i get to spend time with and the great fortune taylor and i had of meeting these crazy, loveable, wonderful people.
and, i admit, i hoped even more that we would see a dangerous forest beast, just to see mike kill it. but alas, the most exciting animals we saw were a rabbit and a banana slug. which, nick kristoff tells me, will make your tongue numb if you lick them.
the next morning sue was off to work before dawn and mike was leaving to cut timber shortly thereafter, so i made my way down to the kitchen at 6am to bid them farewell. mike offered to make me coffee or give me a banana for the road, and just as i accepted the banana, i looked down at the kitchen floor and beheld 2 turtles. yes, turtles. in the kitchen. at 6am.
"what are these doing here?" i asked mike, knowing that nothing about them should surprise me anymore, but they do.
"oh, the kids left them here when they left home," he answered.
they have 2 kids: zac and sonnet. both are in their 30s and have been away from home for YEARS. no way... turtles don't live that long, do they?
"oh yeah, those are probably 25 or 30 years old," mike assured me. "they hang out in the bathroom most of the day, and when they have to do their business or they get hungry they come in the kitchen. i just put them in the sink and they do what they need to do and i feed them."
house trained turtles. bear hunting with house guests. sleeping in a log cabin. befriending timber-cutters.
surely experiences i would not have had, had i stayed in NC.
people never fail to entertain, surprise, enlighten, and flavor life. i love that we're so varied from one to another and within ourselves and each season we live through.
eight days left here and so many more stories to hear and tell. i love this job.
tonight's assignment: swedish hipsters making applesauce while belting out mariah carey.
tomorrow's assignment: girltalk.
friday's assignment: kayaking.
other briefs on the brain:
the magic of the braid
avoiding pine nuts
website update! www.abbymetty.com! tell your friends!
ps: this book is rocking my world.
Delaying the Real World
By Colleen Kinder
[journalism, multimedia, + photography]
bamboo roasted gopher
lens, ny times photo
the big picture
visions, oregonian photos
stinkus: kickabout africa 2010
kelly & tyler
thy & lin
taylor, the fashion dungjen