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Entries in blog (6)


The Point

Happy birthday, new friend!The topo map of my internal creative landscape lately looks a bit like I imagine Kansas - wide, meandering contours, vast empty space, point-less.  I am used to inhabiting a creative Colorado, ideas jutting up into my consciousness like the million points of the Rocky Mountains and flowing out here like snow melt.  Now I'm down here in the flat lands, trying to herd words uphill.  Gravity is not my ally in this effort, when it seems like every helium-filled wisp of idea is encased in concrete boots and ditched somewhere around Byers, Kansas.

I bought a fancy new camera, and suddenly all the simple things I usually train my eye on seemed too banal for this equipment, like driving a new Ferrari down West Colfax, waiting at endless stoplights and passing shuttered motels and used car lots.  This is neurotic, for sure, but if I have no pictures and if my ideas have all gotten lost somewhere in the central time zone then this space starts to look a little, er, past its prime. 

So in case you have been wondering where I've been lately, think Kansas.


I got lucky this week though, when a close friend pushed this little Buddha of a boy out and into our village. This? This was worth getting the Ferrari out of the garage and racing at top speeds out to the University to witness.  We human beings do this everyday, this birthing of new human beings.  But damn if this nine-and-a-half pounds of confusion and tiny clenched fists isn't a miracle anyway.  He is all fuzzy blond hair and fingernails and soon-to-be-blue eyes that are mostly shut hard because why do you have to keep it so bright out here, people?  He is 12 hours old when I meet him and he is full of qi and hungry and smells like the fountain of youth.

The gift of all this for me was that I got to have a point.  Milestones, rites of passage, these are obvious signposts that beg us to sit up and notice and freeze them in our hearts and minds.  This morning as I write this, the baby boy is five times as old as he was in this picture, so I bet when I see him later he'll have lots of teeth and be cranking The Pixies in his room while he writes algorithms.

This makes me want to take note of things - all kinds of things - before they escape to Kansas, never to be heard from again.


My old friend Larisa told me a few months ago that I should enter a piece of writing into BlogHer's annual Voices of the Year competition, and since I usually do what people I admire tell me to do I dropped this piece into the running in their Identity category.  And then because I am afraid to ask people to vote for things, I didn't tell anyone about it.  And then I forgot about it.

So you might imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail yesterday saying I had been selected as one of the honorees.  There is simply no way to adequately convey my delight at being included in this group of artists and truth-tellers, and more broadly, at having this space to air my joys and struggles and fumbling excursions through the wilderness of my internal creative Rocky Mountains.  May a million more points solidify here and in our virtual village at large.


Path through the Woods

In the just-over-a-year that I've been writing this blog it seems to have evolved from a photography study into personal journal with pictures.  It seems to be getting more personal by the day, which leaves me wondering exactly what is appropriate to put here.  Is it the job of this space to be pretty and cheerful?  (I have that in me.)  Inspiring?  (Erm, some days, maybe.)  Real?  (Well this seems like the obvious choice.  But down this path lies danger.)

So I was scared yesterday to publish a catalogue of my failures.  There's a part of me that feels like it's so immodest to make all of this public.  Dirty laundry should be private!  And then there's the part of me that has discovered this space feels like a release valve... my life gets so full, and pressure builds, and publish and a measure of relief. I guess I'm not sure what the exact right function of this space is yet, but I'm feeling my way through the dark by instinct.  Soon I will get some light bulbs, and then we'll have a real party!

Amy Z left this in a comment yesterday, which I love: Revel in living life outside the crop. It's where the REAL stuff happens that makes up the rich fabric of your life, dog puke and all. Those struggles - be they laundry or light bulbs - are what connect us all as imperfect humans.

Thank you so much for letting me be imperfect here.  Pretty and cheerful feels like an awful lot to live up to.  Thank you so much for telling me your houses are messy too.  Maybe real people do live this way.  Thank you so much for letting me be real.  (Unless you are my mother-in-law, in which case it was all an exaggeration for comedic effect.  We're great.  Really.) 


Behind the Scenes

For what it's worth, this is the kind of houseguest I love: the kind who has some simple but inspired pan of deliciousness sauteing on the stovetop when I come home from work.  Also the kind who has noticed that I bring leftovers for lunch and so makes enough that I can eat it the next day too.  And it helps if that pan of deliciousness is comprised entirely of things that were in my kitchen cabinet but which I would never, in ten lifetimes, have thought to throw into a saute pan together.  (For the record, it involved garbanzos, tomatoes, and coconut milk.  Who would have thought?  She's a genius.)

Anyway, because I was so inspired by the care she was taking of me, and because she will soon be starting her own blog where she will share some of this genius, and because she was leaving to fly home this morning, I thought we should leave the curry simmering on the stove and go take another stab at some photos of her.  Luckily I had much more energy to bring to the task than I did last week.

356.365 50mm f2.8 1/200 ISO 200Isn't Amber beautiful?  Aren't her eyes the color of some intensely perfect Caribbean waters and don't you just want to dive in?  (That is not a trick of post processing.  They really are that amazing.)

And then, just because we're coming to the end of this 365 and it feels like a good time to pull back the curtain, a small glimpse of what a portrait shoot with me occasionally looks like:

It's amazing how ideal a world can look, with a little well-placed cropping.



136.365 50mm f1.8 1/80 ISO 1600A friend of mine gave me this adorable little bird a couple weeks after I started this blog.  It was a lovely gesture of encouragement at a time when there was a visitor to this site every three days or so.  I have written here about how I came up with the name for this site -- a line from an old Taj Mahal song -- and I was so nervous putting this out there that I wouldn't have considered calling it "art."

Enter Portlandia, the new sendup (takedown?) on IFC about life in the hipster mecca of Portland.  When I heard they did a sketch called Put a Bird on It ("In Portland, you can just put a bird on anything and call it art.") my thought process went something like this:

Wow, I named my site Bird.  My masthead has a bird in it! 

I had no idea that was shorthand for Art.

I think I'm going to have to try harder.

It reminds me of an old Ani DiFranco lyric I love: Art may imitate life, but life imitates TV.  Does that mean this is officially art?  Or officially imitation?


Refrigerator Gallery

135.365 50mm f2.5 1/40 ISO 1600My refrigerator door is a gallery where I curate bits and scraps of things I love: birth announcements, old Christmas cards, a few souvenir magnets (Alcatraz, this Repent magnet from the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh), a favorite Rumi quote.  To these treasures I added the two Burning Man tickets that arrived at my house yesterday.

In a very real sense the seed of this photo/blog project germinated in Black Rock City last year.  It's hard to imagine a more inspiring environment for a photographer.  (I post a small gallery of selects here to give you a sense of what switched me so on.)  The dust of the playa is a fertile medium, the wind feeds your spark with oxygen, the creativity which abounds everywhere you look is a perfect conductor of joy.  I already wonder what this year's festival will birth in me.  The Man burns in 190 days.