Within the Walls of my Home

“Unmade Bed”

I can be stuck at home for days at a time.

It’s not that I want to be, but rather a combination of being a stay-at-home mom and having no license due to epilepsy. Then, when my husband comes home, we are both usually too worn out to get out and do anything.

Needless to say, I can develop quite the case of cabin fever, which is usually treated with quick trips to the grocery store, and weekend daycations to nearby hiking grounds and/or the mall.

But on top of this, I also begin to take my home for granted. And I think we all do this, not just those of us who are stuck at home, but also those who work outside of the home. We stop seeing our house as we did when we first bought it, fresh and new and empty, and instead begin to eye it as an inevitability. Our day-to-day lives become so routine that we often overlook the tiny fingerprints on the window, the pictures on the wall, the blue stain on the rug your daughter made when she spilled her nail polish.

Recently, a fellow photographer named Monika began to post images from a series she called the Housebound Project. The beautiful black and white images, taken with a pinhole camera–A Reality So Subtle 6X6–showed the subtle changes of light throughout her home. Each photo is almost a metaphor for the life she’s lived in this home, dozens of memories all caught within one motionless frame.

And soon enough, I began to notice the light in my own house. Those same patterns as the sunlight slipped through blinds in the early morning hours, or as the trees drew shapes on the closed drapes in the living room.

But not only this. I also began to see the flaws. Flaws I had to capture with my rolleiflex.

“Broken Keys”

“Reflection”

“Patterns on the Wall”

When I began to scan them, I saw they were foggier than normal, grittier and grainier. They looked almost as if they’d been taken a hundred years ago. Bad fixer seems to be the cause, but it was a happy accident. Because it gave the photos a timeless appeal. They show how I felt, at that moment, that my house was only a second in time.

One day, it will be gone. One day, I will be gone.

And these memories, these muddy pawprints and fingerprinted windows, will be in the past forever.

“Flowers on the Bed”

“Sunlight through the Blinds”

My husband and I bought our little condo in 2009 after looking off and on for nearly a year. We were picky, and because of that we have yet to fall out of love with it. I wish I could pick it up and take it with us wherever we go in life.

And a lot has happened in nine years. We’ve had pets, we’ve lost pets, we’ve had crazy dreams that have lived and died.

We had Goo, painted her room a color called “Marshmallow” and put in wood floors. This condo, once barely lived-in and empty, is now covered from top to bottom with our messy and awesome lives.

“Muddy Pawprints”

“Closed Drapes”

If there’s anything I’ve taken from this roll of FP4, it’s that inspiration can come in the most unlikely of places. Sometimes the “perfect light” is just down the hall.

And, of course, if I ever begin to feel stuck in the routine again, I know now that all I have to do is simply pick up my Rolleiflex and start shooting.

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That Time We Drove Ten Hours to Cedar Point, Then Turned Around and Drove Back

We’ve been getting Goo excited over our trip to Cedar Point since, well, February-ish when we first booked our hotel. As the date got closer, her excitement rose higher than the Top Thrill Dragster, until she was asking every day how many days left and jumping up and down with giggles when we’d give her the answer.

Sometimes the universe has other plans, though, right?

Sometimes the universe just sucks. Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month: Lost in the Wilderness During Week 3

Snickering and making married-couple jokes, Chris and I should have expected an adventure, but I wasn’t aware just how elaborate some of the trails were at the nearby hiking ground. It had been raining all week, and I was looking forward to the fresh air, to getting some good cave shots for my cave series, some woodsy stuff, maybe even a group of tiny white flowers to add to my “flowers in the dark” series. We already knew one cave was closed–the bats are nesting–but the other was only a short walk away from where its trail began. I was planning on climbing out of the car and heading right up.

First time we went here as a family, we had no trouble at all finding the right parking lot and heading up (then again, we had no end in mind that day). This time, however, we had to pull a few u-turns before finding the right parking lot–still snickering and poking fun and marveling at the speckles of rain on the windshield.

“A little rain never hurt anyone,” I said. Goo excitedly announced from the back seat that she was going to splash in puddles. Howl licked at his closed window. Chris parked (finally) in the right lot. Continue reading

Goodbye Twenties, Hello Howl

My husband has always been a dog lover–just the touch of their cold noses is therapeutic for him–and his dream has always been to add a purebred husky to the family. Something about cuddling with a descendant of wolves–descendants who appreciate snow as much as he does–makes his green eyes glitter with stars.

When Goo was born, the dog lovers in our house increased. Goo is always excited to see dogs being walked down the street, and beams wider than the sun when we see them at the park. No matter the dog, Goo asks each owner that crosses her path if she can pet it, and she laughs her little head off when the dog responds with kisses.

So, for the last several months, I’ve been (secretly) throwing the idea around in my mind to add a dog to our little family. Continue reading

I Don’t Always Bring a Camera and That’s Okay

One thing I’ve been trying to work on is to live in the moment and to stop planning for that “someday…” I’ve always had a “big project” and when I don’t have a big project, I have a “big hobby” which is usually part of some “big project.” But I had an epiphany shortly before starting this blog: it’s okay to not have anything “big” going on. I don’t have to be immersed in a “what if” career. I don’t have to trudge toward a future that may never come to be. I don’t have to work on anything other than being a better me, a better mother and wife, a better person in general.

Still, that little voice in my head has been saying: you didn’t take pictures today. You didn’t blog. You’re slacking off.

In the past, that voice terrified me. If I didn’t work on my revision, or didn’t think a book plot was strong enough, or didn’t think my photography would ever “get there,” that little voice would tighten around my heart like a fist and squeeze. Anxiety attacks and feeling like a failure were part of my daily ritual. I was always irritable. I got lost in my own head.

But ever since I realized that “progress” comes in many forms, it’s been easier to brush the voice aside and widen my eyes at the vast, colorful, exciting world around me. I don’t always pull out my phone to take a picture of Goo at the park, and I don’t always take my camera with me on hikes, and that’s okay. Sometimes I just want to bring a book, or a journal. Sometimes, I really really just want my hands to be empty for a change. What a freeing feeling!

Leaving my camera behind has taught me a few things. I’ve learned that avoiding the shutter release gives me a newfound appreciation for the photos I go out of my way to take. I’ve learned that not carting around a giant DSLR and three lenses makes me about ten pounds lighter and allows me to hold more hands. Without a camera, I’m forced to take mental pictures instead of storing them onto an SD card so I can look at them later. By then the moment is gone, and I have to ask myself these days if I really enjoyed that moment, or if I just thought it would make a good picture.

No amount of cropping and sharpening can give me that moment back.

So, I don’t always snap selfies of us at the zoo. I don’t always have a good picture to show for our bike ride. I don’t always grab my camera when Goo starts making funny faces at the table. And that’s okay! Because it means I’m creating actual memories.

They’re blinks. They’re Haikus. They’re Polaroids. And they’re so fleeting that they could be already gone by the time I get the right aperture.

These two are the most important people in my life. They are everything to me. And not only do I want to have more hands-free mind-free experiences with them, I also don’t want to be behind a camera every single time they remember our best days.

Images © Lina Forrester

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Hello, Bonjour, and All That Jazz

What better time to start a photography blog than on Friday the 13th, during a full moon cycle, as an ice storm approaches outside? I’m sure I’ll be at my back window with my camera when the thundersleet arrives.

I decided to start this blog because I’ve reached something of a milestone. I’m turning thirty in a few weeks (maybe less, I’ve stopped counting) and after spending my entire twenties pursuing a traditional career as an author, I’ve finally had enough of plotting, revising, writer’s block, and empty goals. This same “epiphany” happened around three years ago when Goo was 8 months old and I closed my writing program for two years.

But I still love to write, and I love photography. I’ve always toyed with combining the two. I think this will keep me in the present and remind me of the real legacy I’m creating. Because, if I’m being honest with myself, my books are not the greatest thing I will leave behind.

Life is short. It’s gotten even shorter, it seems, since Goo was born, and I can’t spend it working tirelessly on a dream that may never arrive. But I can celebrate life with this blog, and with this blog I can also celebrate my family, and myself.

Have a good Friday! To those stuck in this storm: stay safe and warm.