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Entries in iPhone (24)


Orange Sky


The sky out my driver's side window was washed in such a fierce orange glow that I wondered for a moment if I had missed the headline about a new forest fire.  I was racing against myself to get to the cabin where old friends awaited our arrival.  I fumbled blindly for my iPhone so I could try to freeze the sky's furious drama without having to slow down.

My big camera spends a lot of time in my camera bag these days, silently rebuking me - transmitting signals that only I receive about how I'm not worthy or that the view in front of me is too simple or too obvious.  My iPhone happily shoots whatever banal scene I point it at, without judgement.

Over me the ominus virga of mountain rainclouds started dropping intermittent sprinkles and the road unfurled past the reservoir in a slick black ribbon.  I slowed down a little, mindful of my tires worn down by endless repetitions of this drive.  With one eye on the iPhone screen scanning past my driver's-side window and one eye on the rain-slicked road ahead of me, it hit me.

Look to the right.

I gasped when I turned.

The foot of a thousand-watt rainbow, perfectly framed in the passenger window, thisclose.  I moved the iPhone to my right hand and snapped.  Thank god for the iPhone, which doesn't sniff at cliches or make me second guess anodyne beauty.  

Then a directive rose from deep in my gut: pull over.  

Pull.  Over.

I didn't want to, but the directive pointed out that if you are thisclose to the brightest rainbow you've ever seen in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and you have a big camera in the back and you can't make yourself stop because it's too pretty, you're probably an asshole.  Or if you have the next four days with nothing time-sensitive to do, but you're in too much of a rush to pull over?  Again, asshole.  Not, you know, politician-level asshole or Wall Street banker-level asshole, but still.  Just stop the car.  Appreciate what's in front of you.

I may be self-absorbed and stuck in my head.  I may think too much, about the wrong things.  I may try too hard and have too little to show for it.  I may be the queen of white girl problems.  

But I'd like to think I'm not an asshole.

I pulled over, got out the big camera, snapped on the wide angle lens and gave myself permission to stop thinking and for once, just shoot.


Samadhi, or Something Like It

I woke with the persistent tightness in my hip and shoulder strangling the right side of my body and giving the distinct impression that I am crowded in my own skin.  That, plus having been unable to zip the dress I thought I would wear to the wedding this weekend made me susceptible to the idea of yoga.  

The online schedule said there was a morning beginner class at the McYoga studio that took over the neighborhood Ashtanga spot in the years since I became a lapsed yogini.  I almost turned back at the sight of the sheer number of people in the studio, but I had already paid my 19 (19!) dollars so I joined the swarm of Prana models and set my mat on a postage stamp of real estate next to the door, mercifully cracked to the cool, damp morning.

The last time I was in this room, years ago, Will had just broken up with me and I was determined to ujjayi my way back to equilibrium.  There was an adorable instructor that day with whom I promptly started inventing a life, until he announced that this would be his last class because he was leaving to travel in South America.  I cried in Camel Pose.

I want to cry this morning for the middle age that has settled on me in the years since then.  The beautiful, perky instructor, Ally (of course), introduces herself along with the book she is reading this week, Yoga Bitch, which she announces is hilarious and kind of like a cross between Yoga and Chelsea Handler and I think oh please and consider leaving, but the $19 keeps me pinned to my mat.

When I was 19 an astrologer told me I am the kind of person who would find yoga very useful, though he was quick to specify that he didn't mean yoga per se, but the kind of disciplined practice that is its hallmark. Discipline was not a familiar concept at the time, but I suppose it is true that since then I have undertaken various practices that have helped ground me and move me forward.  He also told me that the hardest part of my life was already behind me, which is to say that this particular yoga class 20 years later must not have been in my horoscope.

I lurch and sweat and grunt my way through the sun salutations with evil, unyogic thoughts running through my head.  Inhale. Right foot forward. Come up to Warrior I. 

I am pretty sure I want to kill myself.

Exhale.  Open up to Warrior II.  Hold this here.  Remember it's a practice, not perfection.

Scratch that.  I want to kill Ally.

We move into Runner's Lunge which is half the reason I'm here, the breathing into the space in the hip, and having a beautiful, perky sadist to make sure I keep the stretch for at least seven times as long as I would at home.

A friend of mine told me I should consider having a photography portfolio review and a week later, out of the blue, I was invited to one.  I gathered 20 images, sucked up something resembling courage, and joined the group.  

Your work has a very, um, commercial feeling, the director said.  

Is that an insult? I asked.  

No, but do you mind if I ask what you do for a living?

I thought, oh god, really? but I told him and he nodded knowingly and said well of course.  

I wanted to explain that I'm trying to do something more real here, but I didn't, and was surprised to note the next morning that I did not die from the shame of being unloved. 

Somehow I make it through to Pigeon pose, my eyes closed, my forehead resting on my yoga mat, all my weight concentrated on stretching the offending glute.   I feel Ally's hands gently on me, pulling my back leg into the perfect alignment to deepen the stretch.  A wave of fondness and gratitude washes over me, for the correction, for noticing that's the one I needed above all else.  There will be no murder or suicide in yoga today, just the slow release of my personal yoga bitch in a sweaty exhalation.


Playground of Desire

There's a certain smell of offhand alienation and kindbud that hangs over the skate park.  I assume that's not what Ezra loves about the place but I am nervous that one day it will be.  He was mad for the skate park from his earliest encounter with it, and last night he knew we had to pass it on the way home from our school meeting.  He focused his tractor beam of desire on it and pulled us in, dinner and bedtime be damned. I promised him five minutes and set the timer on my iPhone.


Big boys.  Skinny jeans.  All manner of wheels.  Some indiscernible flow of traffic that minimizes the collision fatalities.  At least I think fatalities are rare.  They probably just maim each other with elbows and polyurethane wheels.

Five minutes pass.  I give him five more as he stares intensely and silently.  Reverently.

I like the place too, actually.  The casual misfits, the comradery, the fluid beauty some of them bring to this aggressive ballet.  But oh god, he's going to want to come here by himself, like, next week.  He's going to want to be dropped off down the block because I'm so embarrassing and because he's so unwilling to be supervised.

A whiff of sticky skunk wafts by.

Don't do drugs.


And unlike all these other knuckleheads, promise to wear your helmet, okay?

And don't get maimed or angry, or annoyed at your mom lurking nonchalantly in the bushes across the street.

He cries when it's time to go home and I have to physically carry him out or he'll never leave.  I promise him we'll come back, with his bike and his skateboard, this weekend.  And a helmet.  And a bubble that will protect him from second hand smoke, and me from him growing up.


Lottery Dreams

Some of my favorite moments from the last few weeks of my iPhone 365 (+1) projectI like to think that I'm in touch with the zeitgeist, if not the actual current events of the day (since, you may recall, I turned off the news last year in an effort to retain my tenuous grip on sanity).  One byproduct of this willful ignorance is that I have become the human version of the "water cooler," which is to say that if it's big enough news that people talk about it around me it's probably Very Big News Indeed.  Big like, say, a $540 million jackpot.

I'm not much of a lottery player since I never have cash and also am not lucky in that random-drawing kind of way.  But a co-worker put together a lottery pool in the office yesterday and I figured whatthehell?  It's not like I want to be the lone employee left at the office if all my colleagues are suddenly raptured by the Mega Millions.

Like untold thousands of Americans yesterday, I then embarked on daydreaming about what I would do with my share of the office loot.  The first thing I noticed was that I don't want to change much.  My life is already filled with so much beauty that I wonder how I could possibly deserve it all.  Sure, I would probably trade in my 8-year-old car on something with fewer random rattles.  I would be happy to know that Ezra's college savings fund would be more, er, robust than it currently is.  I would definitely pursue my long-time dream of designing and building a custom home, but still in the neighborhood where I now live.  While I would likely quit my job, I certainly can't imagine a life that doesn't include work.  I love to work, I get satisfaction and meaning from my labor.  I guess I would just be more selective about the projects I undertake.

I would buy that new Nikon D800 I've been salivating over. 

And the 24-70mm 2.8 lens. 

I would push this dream of becoming an artist. 

I would act like someone who could not fail.

These thoughts crossed my mind and then I realized, I don't have to win half-a-billion dollars to do those things.  I am already cultivating my artist life.  I am already saving for the D800.  I could choose, today, to act like someone who can not fail.  If I could manage that, imagine the authentic meaning it would bring to my life.

I know I'm probably underestimating the psychic impact that being suddenly catapulted into the 1% would bring.  I might suddenly be turned into Gollum, corrupted and covetous of things that now barely ping my radar.  And on the infinitesimal chance that our numbers come up tonight, I'll be happy to take the opportunity to prove myself under those circumstances.

But noticing that my dreams don't require that kind of luck is its own kind of win.  Talent, work, and chutzpah?  Yeah, I'm going to need a whole lot of those.  But at least those are the things I don't have to leave to random chance.


Useful Habits

The first four days of my new - dare I say it out loud? - 365+1 projectI've been resisting taking on another 365 project so fiercely for the past few months that the resistance has become an act of stubborn performance art in itself.  But I have so many other ideas.  A 365 will just get in the way.  It's too time consuming.  I already did that.  And on and on. 

So instead of doing a 365 project I've done a lot of thinking about ideas and not very much doing.  I've almost entirely stopped carrying my big-girl camera (to steal Meghan Davidson's phrase) and my shooting has ground to a halt.  Also, as I have reported here ad nauseum, I found myself in a long and enduring Bad Mood.

The book Art & Fear came to me at Christmas and one of the really wonderful observations that stopped me in my tracks was about how artmaking thrives as a result of developing a set of useful habits that support that process.  The author suggests that if your work becomes strained or difficult you might do well to look at what you changed and consider changing it back. 

I've been sitting with that little nugget for about a month.  Trying to ignore it, really.

But it kept returning to me.  And at the beginning of February I started shooting again.  I've given myself permission to keep it simple, shoot entirely with my iPhone, and post daily to Instagram (if you're so inclined, you can follow me here).  The intention, of course, is to keep myself thinking photographically, to practice seeing daily, and to leave some space for some of those other big ideas to grow. 

This is me, diving in.  Wish me luck.