09 September 2014
I used to pour my heart out online, perhaps because my heart was more aligned with my words and actions. In recent years, this has been the case less and less.
I've been reminded lately that I'm human. Being in the moment, with whatever you feel, is what life is all about — even when it hurts like hell. It will never get easier, but it doesn't need to.
Living → hard work → dedication → passion → feeling → living.
18 August 2011
If it tickles your pickle, follow me over thattaway: lane.tumblr.com
30 April 2011
In April, my grandfather passed away. I struggled to write about it for months, and in the meantime the rest of my blogging ceased.
I took a red eye flight home on a Sunday night after learning he was being taken to palliative care. I remember foggily sitting at a counter in an airport Subway, trying to eat something on an early morning layover in Minneapolis. I was perched on a tall stool, my legs swinging like a kid, watching people bustle along on their way to wherever. Watching life go by.
I was in North Carolina for a week, what I would consider now to be one of the more important weeks of my life. I was so fortunate to be there with him, my grandmother, mother and sister for hours everyday. I felt so thankful just to sit quietly and watch him sleep, his favorite swing music playing in the background. He passed away on Saturday, April 30th at 5:29am.
My grandfather was married to my grandmother Charlie for 63 years. They met in Winston-Salem, NC and for him, it was love at first sight. They married in 1947 and had two daughters. They always inspired me, growing up. Even through 63 years, they remained passionately in love. Everyone asked them what their secret was – my grandmother just smiles, places a hand on your shoulder and tells you it's mutual love and respect that matters most. Having watched them together my entire life, I would also add to that the importance of a sense of humor. They laughed together all the time and made it seem like those 63 years were a total fucking blast. But they were also unabashedly romantic, going on dates and to dance clubs even into their 80's.
Watching my grandmother saying goodbye to him after a lifetime of love was one of the most heartbreaking, but also heartwarming, things I have ever witnessed in my life.
There aren't really a lot of other experiences in life that can prepare you for witnessing a loved one pass away.
I spent a lot of time just feeling, taking things in moment to moment.
For so many years now, I've only ever returned home during the winter holidays. It was almost a shock to see North Carolina in the spring again. When I finally made it home to my mom's house after a long night of travel, I laid down on a bed by a window. I meant to fall asleep, but I couldn't stop staring up at the trees as they bowed in the wind. Spring wasn't yet in full effect in Portland, and after two years in New Mexico I was spellbound by how green everything was, how broad the leaves on the trees were, how fluffy the clouds, how soft and cool the grass. Suddenly all these strange travel-by-moving adventures from the past several years took on an entirely different perspective. On the car rides to and from the hospice, I would roll the windows down and take in the warm breeze and the sunlight and the blur of the green pastures rolling by. I felt like a sponge, breathing life in, every moment that I could. Every bit.
I spent a lot of time thinking about family and what it means. How it feels to know you're bound by blood and by love. How deeply important that is.
I'll never be able to put it fully into words. But these are some thoughts.
Grandpa, we love you so much. You'll live on in everything you taught us, in the way you loved us and protected us. You're forever in our hearts.
08 April 2011
How about: I'm in Portland.
The past six weeks have been a blur. There's been a lot of tuning out to the Cosby Show in the late evenings. Lots of talking on the phone with Liz. A lot of packing. A lot of cardboard boxes. A lot of scrapes and cuts and bruises. A few too many bittersweet goodbyes, but also a couple of triumphant ones. And oh, a shit ton of driving. There was New Mexico, then Colorado. Utah was astounding in all kinds of ways. Idaho was Idaho. Oregon, breathtaking. There've been a lot of random hotel rooms and early morning bagels. Many cups of strong coffee (chai for the mister). Many nights on an air mattress.
The boxes have caught up to us and as of today are now piled around our new apartment – an apartment which, even with no furniture, has already felt more like home in a week than New Mexico ever did. I take this as a good sign.
Santa Fe seems like it was a strange dream in a restless night's sleep. Here, everything makes more sense to me than it has in a long time. Life is always a slow progress, but for me Portland feels like I finally have solid ground beneath my feet. No matter what happens, I'm here.
20 February 2011
© Johnny Autry
Johnny Autry wrote me an email recently, relating to some things I've been writing about here. I clicked through to check out his work, and I'm so glad I did. These images from his series City Magic are so striking and cinematic. In this series, he's created a beautiful atmospheric portrait of Birmingham, Alabama.
© Johnny Autry
I'm especially drawn to the first two I've posted here, but the third – a beautiful scene overlooking Birmingham – hit something visceral in me. I've never visited the central Gulf Coast, though I grew up in the South, so some of his pictures seem both familiar and strange. It makes me think about how certain landscapes are like a language you learn from knowing a place. Maybe that's part of the magic of landscapes – the kudzu in the image below takes me back to road trips through North and South Carolina throughout my childhood. It's funny how something as simple as a type of foliage can trigger memories so easily.
I was considering this same idea recently when I went to see True Grit. It was largely filmed in northern New Mexico, a landscape now immediately recognizable to me, and one that carries a certain weight from personal experiences. While walking out of the theater, I couldn't help but wonder where I'd be the next time I watched the film, and if it would always bring me back to my time in New Mexico.
© Johnny Autry
Don't miss Johnny's other images – visit his website for more. I look forward to following his life and work via his blog.
14 February 2011
Jason and I are moving to Portland, Oregon at the end of next month.
There have been a lot of tough days in trying to get this figured out. I'd like to write about it, but not today. Today I just want to keep looking forward – or maybe I should say, westward.
I don't regret coming to Santa Fe, but a year here would have been plenty, and two years got to the point of misery. With hints of spring on the air and the promise of an open road in a matter of weeks, I feel lighter than I have in a very long time.
Here's to a new chapter.
02 February 2011
It's easy to wax nostalgic about a time you were never a part of. It's easy to imagine Ray Johnson hanging out with Rauschenberg or Warhol; to laugh at images of The Factory covered floor to ceiling in tin foil; to envy how dirt cheap apartments in North Beach or Greenwich Village were back then and how, though they lived on little, it seemed possible just to be an artist.
It's probably pretty obvious how much I crave this sort of community; volunteering at Review Santa Fe counted for 3 out of my 4 best days of 2010 (it was a rough year... but still). I've spent enough time in strange corners of the world and now I want back in. More people, please.
Photo by Matt Nuzzaco
Separately, and yet related: there's something going on in California. You see those people in that beautiful picture up there? All photographers. I know and know of so many great-people-who-also-take-pictures living in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and they all seem to know each other through varying degrees of separation. Best of all, they make work together (the Phoot Camp crew is a pretty prime example). There is a constant crossing of Flickr stream paths and discoveries of "Wait, you dudes know each other?" among the photographers I know. It's happening everywhere the more connected via Twitter and Facebook we become in terms of the larger photo community, but since my giant fucking I-need-major-life-change Sauron-style vag-eye is focused intently on the west coast, California is starting to seem (in a dreamy idealist sort of way) like a fucking photonerd lover's playground.
And I do love y'all.
Lately I've been waking up every morning with my eyelids glued to my withered eyeballs and my throat sore from the soulsucking aridity around me. So, the above combined with the inundation of ocean-and-palm-trees photographs that have been streaming my way from various sources recently, is enough to make me want to throw some shit in the car, hit Interstate 40, GO THE FUCK WEST and never look back... except maybe at sunrise.
That's my shit-feels-shitty escapism talking, but genuinely all I want is to fix my broken life. In doing so, I will remember that good people are a good priority to have. Now if I can just figure this community shit out for real.
01 February 2011
I'm moving my blog from Tumblr back to Blogger, and its proper home at pinkelephants.org. I've been thinking about doing this for a while, but had just enough domain troubles I didn't want to deal with to keep me procrastinating. At first Tumblr seemed a little more freeform, but later it started to feel claustrophic to me. So I'm back. For (pretty much mostly until someday in the eventual future it isn't) good.
As for why I've been quiet: I'm going through one of the most confusing and frustrating periods of my life, to date. There still isn't a lot to say right now, but I sure as fuck hope there will be a lot to say soon. In the meantime, I'll be over in this corner trying not to implode.
31 December 2010
There's less than 10 hours of 2010 left in good ol' Mountain Standard Time, and I'm so very ready for the new year. There were a lot of ups and downs for me over the past 12 months, but I leave the year with hope for good things to come. Here's to moving forward.
13 December 2010
I'm not saying much because there's nothing else to say. It's the same thing it has been. It's still time for a change.
I feel like this stuckness is making me suck as a person. As a friend. And so on. It's really difficult for me to stay present in this position. I've been distracting myself to death. When I get in the car to drive somewhere, I feel completely disconnected from everything around me. It feels like half of me is somewhere else, so everyday I fall back to autopilot. I go to work, I come home. It's a strange fog.
Things will be different by the end of March. Despite the agonizing wait, change is on the way.