i heard from this poet that you're not supposed to post stuff on your blog that is in the que for publishing. but i have a sneaky suspiscion no one will notice.
it's my last semester as an undergrad and ive been taking a fiction class. completely took me by surprise. i love writing and reading short stories. who wouldve thought? this story is being published in an anthology in south carolina. weird to be published as a photographer then writer. i like it.
I looked at Juda's wife and wondered how she'd react if she found out her husband was cheating on her. With several of the milk girls. I picture her beaming face turning placid. She’d just walk out, straight thin-lipped, without a word. Then I imagine her flat-hand slap his face as she sobs to the ground uncontrollably.
I’m always sizing up men. I wonder who cheats and if any men exist who don't. I look at the ladies too. The way their hands finger their hair, how firm their breasts look. No one could possibly cheat on her. As if a certain kind of woman could keep a man from cheating. That’s what we believe, isn’t it? The right combination of brains and beauty could puppet a man's penis, at least until gravity hits?
Most of the time I just keep my mouth shut. I guess it's easy to get caught up in the drama when all these women live in one compound, hormones throbbing, boobs bursting at the seams. I definitely get my fill just watching it all unfold from my hutch.
i went to atlanta to see my two cousins this past weekend. they are two very different individuals. i love them both dearly for the people they are. im lucky to be near them. maybe a move to atlanta is in store for me.
this was an opening band for my cousin allison and her punk rock band in atlanta.
it's been a while. im going to start posting images that make me feel good. it seems im nesting. im in kentucky, finishing school, gettin my chi in order. feels nice to be rooted. for once.
im learning what makes me happy on a daily basis. good: food, conversation, home space, people and music. i want to take pictures of the things that make me happy.
this was the last time i cooked. it was a green thai curry and salad combo.
the house i live in is quite comfy. soon it will be filled with wonderful people. that's my garden in the background.
i had to say goodbye to puppy harvey. he's with the best person i know, so im not so sad. but its hard to come home to a house without him. he makes my insides smile. thanks brett, for loving him like me.
this was my first real mardi gras experience. much more holistic and beautiful compared to the massive commercial version in mobile and new orleans. different strokes fer different folks, but i much more enjoyed this neighborhood grassroots version.
this is my dharma essay. i travelled with my Manange family on their pilgrimage to Bodh Ghaya...words to come while im bummin in the beach rays of thailand. awaiting a more fresh mind.
this is amma prostrating before visitng one of the Manange Lama's in Swayambu, Nepal before our pilgrimage.
this is the border gate into India from Nepal.
women lighting ghee candles at the Bodh Ghaya stupa.
amma lights incense in our hotel room as the boys play and listen to music.
this is pre-dawn at the bodh ghaya stupa. millions of patrons visit to meditate where buddha was enlightened.
we got to jhapa, nepal.
had a peek at the refugee camps yesterday. it's incredible how well the refugees are treated here. in most countries (we've been told) that a ticket to the US is like the golden ticket. but here, most of the refugees have cold feet and many change their minds, even though they have no identity here in Nepal and their own country has deemed them illegitimate. from an outside view, it only seems they'd be more excited to start over.
but picking up and moving to a completely different life, culture, existence has got to be scary. i'm sure i'll understand more as i spend more time in the camps. 1,500 refugees per month are heading to america. and the last flight of 2008 is this december 12th. we're hoping to find an interesting family to follow here and pass on the images/multimedia to the city they're heading to.
kari and i are brainstorming and researching which stories to choose from. i'll be posting as things develop. any words of advice or criticism would be much appreciated.
here's to the dream....
ps. the light here is just as stellar as i left it 2 years ago. every day around 4, it glows like someone spilled magic paint on everything.
for many western kentucky alum, the egg symbolizes new beginnings: basic photography, new assignments and an unrelenting passion to shoot the best darn picture of an egg possible. it's our first assignment (as per Chad Stevens for this western student).
it's fitting. after a little break, im off to work again. it's back to the basics.
i was constipated for a while there. sometimes life is squirting with ideas and creativity, sometimes it's stuck in the bland intestines of uncreative-ness. im excited to get back to life reminiscent of sitting on a subway with diarrhea, ready to run through the doors to the next toilet. i guess i could say that this week i got diarrhea...kari and I are (happily) headed to Jhapa, Nepal where we're gonna start a multimedia story on Bhutanese refugees heading to the US.
we've been digging for access from the ministry of home affairs, a concrete manifestation of kafka's The Trial. but with a little persistence, we triumphed.
the bhutanese refugees have been without rights for almost 17 years now; hunkering in 7 camps in eastern nepal. it's a bit confusing because they're ethnically nepali, but lived in bhutan for many years before the government decided they're not bhutanese enough and made them leave. not a one has been accepted back since. but they don't have nepali passports either, making it hard for them in nepal to get jobs and lead a normal life.
recently, the US and other countries gave them asylum. the UNHCR has vowed to resettle about 60,000 of the 100,000 living in the camps. in march, the first brave bhutanese refugees, harassed by those few activists believing they should go back to bhutan - not other countries, left for america and new zealand.
we're going to hang out in the camps and hopefully escort them home; document the whole process and visually shed light on their beautiful culture and why they're in our backyards in the US.
that's the plan so far. stories change and grow along the way.
i just want to tell stories. and help.
i know it doesn't look like much on your computer, but i was a tiny bug on the blade of a grass jungle. i could only hear green and blue chomping my worries away. it was the most beautiful nepal i've ever seen: pokhara at its touristy finest.
i took a trip to west nepal to plow and ignite my mind. im sure the same plowing could have been done in my little room in kathmandu, but why not see west nepal AND dig deep into the mystery of my apathy? apathetic? me? oh yes.
it all started five months ago when i landed in my favorite country completely un-excited. what the hell? if anyone knows me, they know i love nepal and im excited...about almost anything. its probably excruciating for some people, but what can i do? it's me.
christianity annihilated my passion for life by tricking me into being passionate about a cause i cannot justify anymore. and when i escaped from its rusty hands i might have gone a bit overboard trying to live life to the fullest. no cocaine habits, just a voracious hunger to test and try life in all the ways christianity said were evil.
you know those expensive silver balls people put on their desks that hit each other? the balls on the ends go flying until they balance out and go at the same speed? that's my life. i go from one end of the spectrum to the other (intoxicated with each extremity) until i find some type of balance.
i want all of life, all it has to offer. and i thought because i wasn't overzealous, i was "growing up" or loosing trust in myself and in humans. scary. but through a couple of events i started listening to life. i could feel my smile slide back into my heart where it belongs. i realized balance and change are good things that happen to overzealous people. oh and i learned to listen.
two books pushed me through my block with a little encouragement from my favorite friend: my momma. book one: zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. book two (and my all time favorite, read for the second time, in nepal): jitterbug perfume.
i really feel like everything around me is a lesson. to pirate the bible, i must admit some proverbs have definitely stuck that apply well when i look at life without jesus. "be still and know that he is god," i enjoy because i can always shut up and learn from a situation and the people (or objects) in them. but i was so worried about where my passion was going that i stopped learning. so on my trip, i listened and learned that i do trust humans still and myself, first. because if i can't trust myself to make good decisions while gallivanting across nepal alone, who can i trust?
i met a young nepali guy along the way who wanted to help me. only later did i discover that his "help" meant getting in my sheets. but i made all the right decisions and even tried to persuade him to be my friend and stop this nonsensical finagling. he told me i had a small brain, and so do most women, don't take offense. i could have erupted all over him. but i just realized i could learn from this interesting gentleman and his philosophy of women; no need to be angry. we only know what we know and he thinks women have small brains. after i informed him that if i did have a small brain, he'd be invited into my sheets, i left him to think about what i'd learned.
ah, nice to be back on the side of life where learning is passion.
I've been trying to upload my two videos but i'm having trouble because the internet here is ghostly. now you see it, now you don't. But I am working on a brochure with my images for MAHENDI. Any input would be great, specially from you design people. It's exciting to see my images working, not just sitting on my hard drive.
These are the outside elements; so the last section is the first page and the middle is the very last page (back) of the brochure. It's still a work in progress...so keep that in mind and give me some input.
Inside pages: This one feels a bit wordy and busy. Could use some help...
Hello and sorry this is so behind. I just got back from a trip to Janakpur. I'm working for a small non profit that seeks to lower the mortality rate of women and children by training Skilled Birth Attendants. I shot the condition of the hospitals in the region. It was hard and devastating to see lines of women in labor on the floor, waiting to give birth in a room where one lady was assisting three births at a time. Hopefully my organization will do what they can to help. Here are some images from my take. These are my favorites...I promise to upload more soon.
tomorrow morning i'm making the hairy 2-day trek from Kathmandu to Thuman village. last time i went, i was confident that riding in an ambulance with 2 nurses and a doctor would have been the surest way to get there unscathed while still soothing my adventure itch. but like a fingernail-happy kid with fresh mosquito bites, my itch quickly turned into an irritated wound after a couple of hours on the trip.
we got stuck on the mountain in fog as thick as my mom's cheese grits. had to have two guys walk ahead to make sure we didn't glide off the side of the cliff. like a puberty ridden teenager with too much makeup in hand, fog caked over the pimply cliff only an arms length from our shifty convoy. we stopped often to dig ourselves out of the days' previous landslides. all laughs and the nurses in high heels, we dug a path and slowly bumped our way to the next stale landslide.
the nurses, 23 years old and complete virgins to village life, got back into the ambulance shrieking like seagulls who had just eaten alkaseltzer. what on earth? leeches. im not talking Stand By Me leeches. these are conveniently small black slivers of slime. they hide in between your toes, only detectable by a sting and itch after finishing their dinner. without a word i picked them off of the girls and threw them back to their jungle. their mouths, in return just as silent, looked at me like i had eaten a baby.
at dawn, we abandoned the ambulance and walked 10 kilometers (the nurses in their high heels) to the medical workshop camp. of course i developed diarrhea on the walk and had to pop a squat every 2 kilometers. my abdomen has a special knack for cultivating diarrhea at the most inconvenient times. as soon as we arrived, i devoured rice and lentils with a tinge of disdain. the girls had refused my carefully planned and packed goods the night before because they weren't spicy enough.
after the workshop that day, they went back to their cozy (leech-less) homes in Kathmandu and i headed out on my 6 hour trek to the village (diarrhea-less). im working on a story for an NGO about a pregnant woman who survived a 6 hour trek to the nearest hospital - epileptic and in the throws of birth. she is the reason MAHENDI was created: to aid villages without proper health care nearby. i hung out with her and her bubbly bundle of baby fat. nepali kids are so damn cute.
my body is exhausted. i just walked off a homemade 30-seater Indian bus filled with no less than 60 nepali people on the inside. at least 20 fearless nepali men rode on the top, enjoying fresh air and holding on for dear life. from my seat, the smell ranges from old cheetos to sour milk throughout the ride - either from me or from villagers going to town who normally live with no running water and no electricity. i train my ears to enjoy the offbeat techno hindi music blaring through speakers probably made for a tape recorder. two times throughout this 11-hour ride i seriously question if i'll survive. this is risky. my last trip to nepali villages found me on a rickety crop duster with lawn chairs for seats flying to the plains of nepal: no off-road bus rides teetering 2 feet from cliffs that look like old landslides. at the beginning, i asked to sit on the widow side to see the amazing view but after 4 or 5 hours ascending into the himalyas, i realized my stomach worked better sitting on the inside, unaware of how close the bursting bus was to the edge. but we made it. the fearless, teenage and somewhat bored bus drivers make this drive sometimes 2 times a day.
thanks to a good friend, I got a gig shooting multimedia for an NGO run by two young women who educate villagers on basic medical procedures. i lived in close quarters, in a one-room, wooden, tibetan-style house with my traditional Tamang family in the Thuman village near the Lang Tang mountains. we drank milk chai every morning that tasted like licking a goat's backside and it took my eyes a couple of days to stop burning from the smoke from the open fire in the room. i ate rice for every meal and at this point vomiting doesn't sound far off if i think of eating curried veggies and milk chai any time soon. i "hiked" 6 hours uphill (close to vertical) to get there and it was a 2 hour run downhill to get back. the only other time ive ever been pushed so hard physically was coach andrew's soccer practice, my freshman year of high school. i took on the village custom and i didn't shower for the 8 days i was there. it was cold anyway.
the mountains are an incredible place to live. never have i felt so uncomfortably enamored. after the rough trek to my village, i suddenly understood the fascination with living such a hard life-stlye in exchange for the breath taking sunrises every morning with 360 degrees of white peaked himalayas wrapping around me. in the valley below, rocks that look like boiled potatoes sprout up through the raging river and if it's really quiet, i can hear the water below and fields of wheat move together in the wind. and although i love looking at the mountains, and i definintely enjoyed my mountain experience, i've learned that the mountains are not for me. i discovered my wimpery when i was out of breath every time i left our little house for anything. the only horizontal place in this village is in the houses, thank god. i kept trying to justify my out of breathness; "I don't have these leg muscles. I grew up in a place where for exercise, we surf or run on the ellipticals at the gym." i cursed all those times i ignored the stair masters at the gym.
ive been eating rice now for 8 days. so nice to be simple again. rice for lunch; rice for dinner. no questions asked unless absolutely necessary. for fun i eat snacks and drink homemade whisky with friends and family. difficult things usually involve visas or doctors.
on day one i let the laid back air of nepal wind my sails and watched my american worries blow away. the pace here is slower. not much happens like it's supposed to and questions asked are seldom answered correctly. it's hard to explain but the 'don't worry be happy' lifestyle is a very important lesson in disguise.
kari walked in one morning and told me that the water wasn't working. i shrugged my shoulders because honestly the water only works when it wants to. then she said, "some things work here and somethings dont." it's simple but true. things are just a little faulty here and im thankful to have learned the exact meaning of 'go with the flow.' i just have to be mindful of not adopting the water's philosophy of working when i want.
even though it's thrilling to be challenged to think differently, im trying hard to maintain a balance between two mindsets: american uptightness that causes ulcers and nepali philosophy that generates well, constant and perpetual fun. im a little worried i won't get anything done and of course there's the ever tenacious agitation that i won't succeed. but my mom told me i can do anything if i put my mind to it. amen.
so the first month im here will be spent enduring 3-hour nepali lessons from a tiny 75 year old nepali man with no teeth. and of course i'll need a month of spending time with my family and friends submerging myself in the culture. then, kari and i will be more equipped to conquer the world through photography and multimedia.
i've included a precious picture (see below). it's something i spend most of my time looking at already: the bathroom wall. my good friend kiwako gave me some japanese minerals to take one day after i spent a little too much time looking at the bathroom wall. kiwako's medicine has really cut my bathroom time in half. she's a gem. maybe i should move to japan.
we are small countries orbiting inwardly, intricately smashing into one another.
new york shrinks me. i sit with my head down; let the people of new york fold around me. i see a world of cultures from this chair. i have only to lift my head, look at the faces and hear bits of conversations around me to know, not only how vast and eccentric the world is, but how shallow and insignificant my egotistical world was 10 seconds ago. travel does this.
some plane wisdom:
"But each of us should be striving to reach the center, not the periphery...We should be so constituted that we can at any time be placed in a different position without offering resistance or loosing our heads...The truth is lived, not taught." (Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse)
Tomorrow is my last day at the newspaper. Today they found out they're being sold. Seems I'm on the cuff of the perfect time to leave. But I'm leaving a great bunch of photographers and friends.
Goodbyes are odd. Two short sentences encompass months of experiences.
I'm very lucky.
I feel that I meet fantastic people over and over again. I'm amazed that they flitter in and out of my life. Like Kerouac writes,
I find myself oooohing and aaaahing wherever I go in the brilliant spray of light these people cast over my head.
I learn from every goodbye.
Thank you friends for teaching me.