Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Week 14

I'm the most fickle person I know. I'm constantly changing my mind; my thoughts are constantly bouncing around in my head. I can't even decide on an outfit in the morning; usually what I wear is a product of running out of time to get dressed. But I also find pretty much everything interesting, and I adore research. When I'm interested in something, I want to know everything about it. I submerge myself in in and become very passionate, very quickly.

I remember being a little girl, I always begged my mom to let me take dance lessons. With my big feet and big hands, I never saw myself as much of a dancer. But whenever I watched television shows of people dancing, I always got a little twinkle in my eye. A natural klutz, I could never imagine being able to do the things with my body that these dancers do. They look so graceful, so beautiful. When my mother finally got sick of my begging, she told me she'd let me choose between soccer or taking dance lessons.

When I was younger, I was always compared to Cindy. In every way, shape and form. And I learned quickly that the easiest way to obtain approval was to act like Cindy. Cindy was a class clown, so I was too. Cindy was a tomboy, so I was too. Cindy played basketball, so I did too.
Cindy played soccer, so I did too.
I kicked the dancing dream (literally) because I knew that soccer was would make me more like Cindy.

Now, I'm much older and I have accepted that it was never beneficial for me to try and be like my sister.

But I sometimes wonder how differently things would have gone if I had pursued dancing instead of soccer.

Soccer is probably my favorite sport to play. It's difficult, and I'm not very good at it, but it is a fun sport to play. But it never sparked my passion, per se. But when I joined Drama Club and Chorus, I loved them both, and realized that I definitely had a certain flair for dramatic expression.

So, I've made a mental note to return to that secret passion inside my head. And that secret passion is dance. Considering I was voted class clown in high school, I know I'm not exactly the most graceful person on the planet. But, I still would like to learn the basics of certain dances.

The Tango
Probably one of the steamiest ballroom dances out there is the Tango. The authentic Tango originated in Argentina, and is a saucy, sexy form of expression.
Whenever I see this dance on movies or on TV, I feel the need to get up and move around, because it's just so darn inspiring. I like to think of the Tango as the original Dirty Dancing. Before nobody put Baby in a corner and before the 'bump and grind' age of today where girls just shake their ass and wait for a guy to choose her out of the group and rub himself all over her.
The Tango is different. The Tango can almost tell a story. A man and a woman, heated with passion and desire. The man leads the woman, sometimes the woman leads the man. It's a dramatic tale of love and often times betrayal, all set to music. What's not to love?! 
With it's Latin spice, swishy dresses and hot-hot-hot intensity, the Tango is a dance that I dream about taking lessons for someday.

Swing Dance

Now, if a dance can bring you to life, it's swing dance! There's something about jazz. Something sensual, something, fun, something very American and alive.
Swing Dance is used to describe the styles of dances that is usually done to jazz. It originated during the 1920's-50's, during the times of war and the Great Depression. During a time before social networking, the internet, cell phones or extreme mass media. A simpler time where dancing was all you needed.
Because of my old soul and obsession with things that happened before my time, I think swing dance would be something  I'd strongly enjoy. It's high-paced, doesn't really have much flow to it, and is basically all over the place. Sort of sounds like life! ;) Many people who dislike jazz say that it's too hard to follow. There is no flow. But maybe that's exactly what's so wonderful about it. Jazz sounds like the inside of my head on a busy or a relaxing day. Jazz can either soothe me to sleep or make me feel awake.
And swing dance... The way the people move and soar across the dance floor looks like it's easy and anyone can do it. They look happy while they dance like that.
The swing dance isn't like the Tango. It's not as intense; not as formal. Swing dance is just a couple of people, some music and a common goal to just let loose.
Because of my 5-day-a-week work schedule and constant 'to do' lists, swing dance is something that I think would do good for my body and my mind.

The Foxtrot

Classy, slow, graceful and cautious, the foxtrot is one of the most widely known ballroom dances. This big-band dance was premiered in the early 19-teens.
Growing up in the middle of the woods, I'm not exactly the classiest person you'll ever meet. I like to eat with my fingers; I crave cheeseburgers that practically swim in grease; I am known to let rip a mean belch. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel a little classy and wish I could slip into a ballroom gown and stroll across a ballroom floor.
The Foxtrot is a dance that was originally set for being danced to ragtime, but as it evolved in changed to big band music, which is similar to what Swing Music is danced to. Foxtrot dancing is very slow with long steps and arm movements.
To me, this dance is much about love. The man and the woman dance together very slowly, always touching, always together. They have plenty of time to hold eye contact and maybe even whisper little words to one another while they slide along the dance floor.
Although this dance isn't as fast-paced as the others, it still is one that I'd love to learn more about someday. It's graceful and beautiful, classy and smooth. It's very out of character for me, but it's still a skill I'd like to acquire.

So there you have it. Some facts at a glance about a few dances that I've always been interested in learning. Someday, when I have the money, hopefully I'll find the opportunity to take some lessons. I don't play soccer anymore, but I always still wonder if I'd be a dancer by now if I would have chosen dance.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Week 13

A man and a woman meet in high school in Rhode Island. He secretly gambles behind the school to get money to buy her a milkshake. They get married, he joins the army. After spending three years in and out of the hospital, he returns home and moves to Waite, Maine to start a farm with his young wife. Having one of their children die of leukemia at the age of 9 nearly tears the family apart. A family of equally hot-headed people and hitch-hikers and wanders who come and go, there are endless comedic tales of mishaps that occur on the prosperous farm in the middle of the Maine woods.

Meanwhile, states away, a young Registered Nurse and a young army man go to a community dance with two separate dates, but leave together. They start a life together, building from the ground up, for both of them were products of extremely poor families. Living in Detroit, Michigan and moving to Calais, Maine, the couple goes through tribulations trying to start a family, and are unable to have kids. They adopt a baby girl and a toddler boy and raise them on the craggy coast of a bay near Calais, Maine. A daughter who got into some trouble here and there and a son who had a witty in-put for every situation, this family has heart-warming tales of growing up and learning about love and life.

Both of these very different life paths lead, eventually, to two people meeting at a bar in Calais. This book is about all of the things that occur before that; the things both families endure, the lessons they learn and the stories they have to tell. Each of them have unique tales that are different and yet unique .

All of them come down to love.

The love that a husband and wife share, even if it means driving her crazy like when Don used to torture Jean by poking fun at her Italian back ground. Or when Jim bought Catherine a diamond, and when she lost the diamond from the ring, he went out and bought her a new one. Even though she found the diamond while vacuuming, Jim only smiled and said, "Well now you have two rings."

Or it's the love that siblings share, even in the midst of tragedies. All of the stories in the book lead up to when a new chapter begins. The stories remind you of the value and the purpose of life, and they teach you the importance of family and how it truly is the most important thing in life.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Week 12

The Field

A soft breeze makes the long, long un-cut grass in the field bend and sway ever so slightly. It plays with my hair; makes it tickle my face. I walk alone, quietly. It's one of those moments where I prefer the silence; I don't want music, I don't want talking.

The sun is shining in the field in a way that makes me wish I had my camera; makes me wish I could take pictures with my eyes.

The talls pines shade me from that hot sun. I read somewhere, recently, that 90% of Maine is covered in forests like this. The most of any state. Interesting. It makes me wonder how many other forests hold secrets like this one.

As I continue on, I think of the times my sister and I snuck friends out here to get drunk. Or how many times I escaped in this field. The hours I spent laying on my back, staring at the stars in the sky.
I sneak out into this field to think. The forest helps me breathe.

This time, I'm just visiting an old place I haven't visited in a while.

The path opens up to a clear part in the field, and in the middle of that clear part is a small thicket.
One lonely bench sits next to a tree; a small blue hand-painted birdhouse hangs on a pine tree above the bench. My grandmother made that and hung it there 15 years ago.
On the ground underneath that tree is a marker. A marker of life; a marker of death.


I took a deep breath and sat down next to Grampy. Christmas had passed, my birthday had passed, life had passed... and it had been a while since I visited him.

"I'm sorry if you got lonely."

I sat there and thought about everything I had heard about Grampy. All the stories. All the times he drove Gram to complete madness. How hard he worked.
But, mostly, just how much he loved his life.
Old friends of his would always shake their head when they met me, saying, "He was quite the man."
I don't remember much about him. I was 4 when he died; at an age where everything was new and my memories became real. I remember he always smelt of smoke from a woodstove. I remember the sound of his voice and his laugh.

I smile when I think of his laugh. So low and raspy... it almost sounded like a cough.

I curled up on the bench, bringing my legs close to my chest. Oh, how badly I wished he was apart of my life.

Sometimes, when I come here, I like to think of what it'd be like if he'd just appear next to me. When I was young I'd like to ask him to meet me in my dreams somewhere. Sometimes he did.

Before I moved away from home, I used to come here and talk to Grampy when I had a problem of some kind. Even if he wasn't listening (I know he was, I know he is), it was nice to talk out loud.

I closed my eyes and begged for him to appear next to me. Even if it's for only five minutes.
Imagine if he appeared next to me all those times I came here to ask for help.

"Boys are dumb, Grampy." I said angrily, crossing my arms and swaying my feet back and forth as I sat on the bench. I wasn't quite tall enough to reach the floor yet.
Grampy shifted in his seat next to me. The hard wood hurt his hips. He let out a low grumble and placed his hands on the big beer gut he kept strapped in with suspenders, "They won't ever change, Holli. They'll always be this dumb."
I sighed, "Well what do I do? He wasn't very nice to me, Grampy. He made me cry during recess."
He shook his head, "Make him cry back!"
I looked at him, eyes wide. He was smiling, and it was big enough to reach his blue eyes, "I can't do that, Grampy!"
"Why not?" He cried, "Your grandmother is the toughest old broad I've ever known, and that's exactly why I married her. Don't ever let anyone make you cry, Holli."
I bit my lip and thought for a moment, "I'm not mean enough to make anyone cry, though."
"I don't mean you have to make anyone cry." He chuckled, "I just mean don't let them treat you like that. Bergins don't get mad. They get even."
And just like that, I heard my father calling my name very loud. It echoed through the fields, like it did every day at dinner time.
"Oh, no. I have to go, Grampy." I said and looked over at him.
"Okay." He said and patted me on the back, "Go, quick, before your dad eats it all."
I smiled and slid from the bench. I looked over at Grampy, his blue eyes were observing me. My smile faded as I looked at the scar on his face from right before he went to heaven.
He laughed, knowing what I was thinking.
"I'll still be here the next time you need to talk." He said and winked. "I'm not going anywhere."
I shrugged, "I guess I get a little scared you won't be here."
He leaned forward, "I'll always be here."
I grinned and quickly hugged him, taking in the scent of the woodstove. I said goodbye and took off running.
Before I got to the path that lead to my house, I turned around and he was still sitting there. He looked at me and waved. I waved back, but didn't leave right away.
He looked so content sitting there.
I heard my dad's voice yell for me again.
But I didn't want to turn around.
Grampy was looking out at the field. Dad told me that this field was his favorite place in the whole world, and that's why he stays here now. He says whenever Grandma's time come, she'll come here and be with Grampy too.
I didn't blame Grampy for this being his favorite place. It was so beautiful when the sun was out. Every blade of long grass had a sheen to it; every wildflower bright.
Dad yelled for me one more, and last, time. Judging by the sound in his voice, he wasn't happy.
I smiled at Grampy and finally left; running down the path and excited for the next time I'd have a problem I had to talk to him about.

And now, I'm a 20-year-old woman, and I still wish my Grampy would appear next to me in this old field.

"I have a million and a half problems, Grampy." I said out loud, praying my voice didn't crack, "And they're not as simple as boys making me cry at recess."

Just boys making me cry myself to sleep.

What has happened to my life since I was that little girl? I had scuffed knees and big dreams. Big glasses but a big heart. I'd save a dying bird that fell out of a tree, and then cry and bury it next to the other animals I tried to save but couldn't.
My Grandmother told me a story once. She said that, the day Grampy's ashes were delivered to us, everyone was crying while we went to the field to choose a place to lay him to rest. I was 4, and I tried to get everyone to stop from crying.
"Look at how beautiful this day is! Grampy would love this. Don't cry anymore! There's a deer over in that side of the field, and the sun is shining! Grampy loved days like today."

My grandmother said that that's when she knew I was one in a million.

"I need to fix my life, Grampy." I said outloud, "I know you can see what I've been up to, and I'm sure you're not impressed."

The past two years have been intersting for me. I've made bad decisions, I've experimented, I've actually ended up in the hospital once because I drank a bit too much tequilla.
My stomach turns at the memory.
I left with my ears pierced and 0 tattoos. I'll return home this May and I have 8 piercings and a tattoo on my foot.
I have more secrets.
I'm not that little girl anymore. The world destroyed her; the world tamed her. Put out her fire. And it hurts to realize that she's gone.

She's not gone...

The thought fled through my mind quickly. So quick I almost lost it.

Sort of like how Grampy isn't gone either.

It's amazing in life how some things can change so much; others so little. The field, for example, never really changes. The grass gets longer, the trees go along with the seasons. But at any given point in time, the field looks exactly the same as it did a year ago.
I'm not like that.
I was different a year ago today. I'll be different a year from tomorrow.
And ever since I was a little girl, I realized that I never did anything in moderation. And change wasn't excluded from that.

I exhaled sharply and decided to start from the beginning.
"I moved out in mid-August two years ago. I guess at that point, I was still very naive. I had high hopes, Grampy. Big dreams. I guess I was always like that up until now. But when I moved out, certain things happened that made me change. And I guess, in the midst of all that change and all that growing, I left that little girl behind. It all started when I realized I had no idea how to drive in the city ... "

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I have never been a very good cook or baker. I burn almost everything I attempt to cook. Even though I love to bake and cook, the last time I made cookies for my dad he wouldn't eat more then a bite of them.
And my dad eats everything.
Apart of what makes my cooking and my baking a little less then Food Network worthy is probably my desire to experiment.
For example, baking cookies with applesauce instead of butter may sound like a fantastic idea. And although it makes the cookie quite a bit more healthy, it certainly makes it a lot less tasty. Especially considering I burnt them.
And as far as cooking goes... I just mastered the art of successfully frying an egg without making the smoke detector go off. So when it came time to come up with a speech to write a demonstrative speech for my oral communications class, I was at a loss.
I knew most of the people in the class would bring in things that they had cooked or baked. I tried my hand at making a chicken, cheese and buffalo sauce dip, but I messed that up too.
So I was sitting at the kitchen table at my apartment, with my cruddy dip sitting next to me, tapping my fingers on the tabletop, trying to figure out what I could teach my class.
I have accepted that cooking and baking are not my strong points. My mom's a great cook and so is my sister, so I'm clearly just the oddball out that wasn't given that gene. I went through my life and tried to think of something that I was good at that I could teach others.
There is always photography - but this speech was about creating a finished product. Something tactile that could be touched and, in most cases, eaten. I couldn't exactly do that with photography. I work with kids, so I considered for a moment some kind of craft that I could show. But as I brainstormed, nothing really came up.
I sighed, stood up, and decided to make myself some chocolate milk.
I learned when I was a barista at Border's that stirring a mixed beverage hurt more then helped the mixture. It was always better to shake rather then stir. So I made the chocolate milk, and while I was shaking it from glass to glass as opposed to stirring it, I realized that there was something I could share with the class after all.
I had a brief flashback to when I was a barista. I loved it. I would walk into work and tie my apron on, pull my hair back and push my sleeves to my elbows. I loved working quickly with my hands from drink to drink. I didn't follow recipes well; I did what I knew would taste good, not exactly what was written in the book. But I never had any complaints on how my drinks came out. I was a master at making whipped cream look great sitting atop a beverage, and I enjoyed moving quickly behind the counter at that little cafe.

Ever since I worked as a barista for the four months that I did, I realized I had a love for creating those beverages. I had little dreams of me someday maybe behing a bartender; tossing shaker glasses in the air and catching them, collecting tips as I did. Wearing old blue jeans and a black t-shirt, I'd pour rowdy bikers and cowboys whiskey sours and rum and Cokes.

Even though I was voted Class Klutz in high school and can barely go a day without tripping, working as a barista was something that surprisingly came easy to me. The first week I did it, I hated it and thought I would never be very good at it. I contemplated quitting.
But as I gave the job a chance, I got better and better. Soon enough I was tossing around stuff like a champ.
So inspiration hit me.
I grabbed the things I needed and started working.
I brewed some iced tea just like I learned at Border's; put tea bags in a pitcher, one for every 8oz serving, fill it with boiling water and let it steam for 10 minutes. I stuck it in the fridge and got out some pomegranite juice and mint leaves. I put ice into a cup and, when the iced tea was cool enough, I poured some of the juice and the other ingredients into a cup. I shook it all together (always shaken, never stirred) and took a hearty sip.
The mint hit me first - because I like a strong tea, I didn't use any sweetener but the mint was a great mild touch. The pomegranite added a satisfying tang, and it added a nice flavor to the tea.
All of the healthy and natural ingredients created a nice, refreshing tea. I decided that this sort of thing was perfect for my speech. I could give some tips that I learned as a barista; things that students who didn't work as a barista may not know. Maybe I could inform them and show them something they didn't know how to do before, which is precisely what the speech was intended for.
I smiled to myself as I fished for more ingredients around the kitchen; there were so many possibilities now.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 10

 (names have been changed)

"I'd like my little sister to come here someday," The little brown-eyed boy said to me as he fidgeted in his spot. We were walking out to the small play ground that was behind Catch A Falling Star. 
"That would be nice." I replied, even though I knew that this place was only for children with some kind of behavioral diagnosis. 
"Even though I'm pretty sure this program is only for autistic kids." He replied without missing a beat. I quickly looked at him, his brown eyes large, the one that turns in a little unfocused. 
I didn't reply. I simply opened the gate to the playground and let him in. I don't tell him that he is exactly right; I just smile and say nothing. Because even though this little boy is aware that he is different, it doesn't mean they all have to be. 

At the park you see all different kinds of children. The ones who like to swing very high; there are ones who hang upside down of the monkey bars; and many kids like to run around and play tag.
As I stand a ways off of the playground, I keep my eyes on the little boy I'm here with. He is running and playing, and laughing too, but I will always know his struggles. He wrings his hands when he gets close to other people; he is clumsy due to birth defects he's never truly been cured of; he tends to say odd things when attempting to fit in.
Over on the tire swing is a little boy who can't complete a sentence without a prompt from his own worker. Sitting on the ground picking the peeling paint off the side of the playground. He was born without eyeballs and only sees the world through his hands.
All three of these children represent different kinds of the children I work with. The one I'm with has Asperger's; someday he will live on his own and will probably function in society without anyone knowing he had his diagnosis. The boy on the tire swing has mild Autism, and will probably never leave his very tired-looking mother's side. Someday he will be able to ask for what he wants without prompts, but a conversation or a written essay from him will never happen. The boy born without eyeballs is a very unique case. Although very intelligent, his physical ailments makes life very difficult for him.
But as I watch the three of them play, for a moment or two I can forget that they're lives, in some ways, are already decided for them. Chances have been taken from them.
When it's time to go back to the center for the rest of the afternoon, I fear telling the little boy I work with that it's almost time to go. Transitions are hard on him; and chances are he'd throw a tantrum when it was time to go.
It was hard for me to relate to him at times; when I was a kid, if you cried as often as these children did, you would get into trouble. For these kids, they don't cry to get their way or for attention.
They cry because they simply don't know what else to do.
The other kids in the park watch the little boy with mild Autism as he only mumbles parts of words. They look at him funny as he jumps back and forth and flails his arms in the air. Many other people in the park wonder why he doesn't talk on his own.
They don't know what I know.
Someday I'd like these children to have more chances.

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for any of the children I work with. I don't want anyone to pity them. In fact, the opposite; I think you'd be surprised just how much you can learn from them.

He took a toy and threw it across the room. It was already a long day, and I had very little patience left. 
I knelt down to Timmy and reprimanded him. 
"Timmy! That is not okay! That's very unsafe!" 
I knew I was being mean. He had been bad all day. He kicked me, called me a 'stupid sucker' and was very unsafe all day. 
He was biting his thumbnail, a side effect of his ADHD medicine, and he looked at me with large blue eyes behind his glasses. 
He hesitated before saying, "You don't look like Holliann no more." 
I stopped and furrowed my eyebrows, "What are you talking about, Timmy?" 
He continued biting his nail and mumbled, "You look like some mean girl now." 

Timmy could tell when I was in a bad mood and when I wasn't. He knew that I wasn't always like that; he could tell his behavior had something to do with it. I couldn't help but smile when he said that to me; his unafraid honesty warmed my heart. Even though I get stressed and overwhelmed, that doesn't mean it's who I am. Timmy, even though he's 5, can tell that. He knows that 'Holliann' isn't a mean girl who yells at him for throwing a toy.

I was watching Jarrod, the little boy with Asperger's, as he played along the play ground. He was smiling and laughing, and I then noticed that every one of the children from the center who we brought to the park that day were also smiling and laughing. Even if they are a little different, they were able to enjoy themselves on that beautiful day.

Someday I want the world to have an answer for these children. They don't need to be fixed, who says that they're broken? But I'd like them to feel accepted. I want them to feel like they fit in. Because in the almost-two-years I've worked by their side, I've looked passed the diagnosis they have. Yes, they're technically 'disabled'. But I've watched them grow, and they all play a special role in everyone's lives that they're in, even if they're not 'normal'. But they're still just as unique and beautiful as every other child; even if their struggles are a bit more frustrating.

The next time you see a donation box for Autism research, if you can, drop in some loose pocket change. Educate yourself on what the Autism Spectrum disorders are. Learn more about these children. With the numbers growing, more and more children are diagnosed with Autism a day. Chances are good that I may have a child who has one, or maybe even one of my classmates or friends. And I'd like people to be more educated.
Two years ago, I had no idea what Autism really was. I assumed it was a form of mental retardation. Now, I spend a huge chunk of my life devoting time, energy and passion to helping those who have Autism. I'd like the general population to be more educated, so that maybe someday these children get less strange looks while they play at the park.

I looked down at my watch and realized it was time to go. Surprisingly, Jerrod didn't throw a fit when I called his name and told him we had to leave. He approached me, hugged me, thanked me for taking him to the park, and walked very safely with me to the car, taking and holding my hand. As we drive back to drive back to Catch A Falling Star, he tells me all about the new friends he's made.
The whole ride home, as he looks at me through the rear-view mirror and tells me stories and jokes. He has pure trust in his big brown eyes.
It reminds me of why I go to work in the morning.
And it's a feeling I'll never forget.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 9

I've stumbled upon what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I must say that it's a terrifying and relieving thing.
It wasn't something I even realized what was happening. It started when I was a kid. I obsessed over buying cheap disposable cameras from Walmart. I'd save up my money and buy a little 24 shot camera and I'd take pictures of everything I thought looked interesting - everything I thought I would like to see pictures of. I loved getting them developed and then sifting through the pictures - it did something to my heart; it made it beat faster, feel more alive. Now I spend every day dreaming, thinking about being behind my camera. I explore through the woods and just keep my eyes peeled. For me, it's a passion. It's what I need to get through my day. Writing is also like that for me; but being as busy as I am most of the time, photography is easier then sitting down and writing.
The dreams give me an escape from reality. A place I can go where, for once in my life, things go according to plan. Where things work out.
But what if it were to come true? What if photography is something I could make a career out of?

If you were to visit the Bangor Public Library right  now until the last day of May, you'd be able to see 29 of my pictures hanging on their walls. The local newspaper back home published a piece about it with a picture of me next to it.
When I graduated high school from a place nicknamed "pill hill", I had dreams of making my mark on the world. I wanted to travel, I wanted adventures. But when the world showed me that it isn't always as beautiful as it seems through the viewfinder on my camera, it felt like everything had been shattered.
But I've done a bit of growing in the past year of my life. Now, I'm just shy of 20, and the very first photography exhibit of my career is hanging in the walls of a library in one of the biggest cities in my state.
I'm hoping that things like this continue to happen.
The ocean gives me hope that it'll happen one day. Sitting on the beach, as I'm laying in the sand to get a good shot, I realize that this is my thing.
In the sand I see someone who does what everyone does. They wrote their name in the sand with a stick.

Sarah was here. 

To me it's clear that every person has a natural urge to put a mark on the world. Writing your name in the sand is a way to do it; although it washes away, for a moment or two, you've changed something. You've left a piece of yourself behind while you move on. The water eventually washes away your name, but at least it was there for a time. Why do you think people write grafitti or carve their initials in tree bark? Obviously humans want to leave something behind even after they're long gone.
I'd like to do that to the world someday. I don't want a statue honoring me. I wouldn't want a holiday in my name. But someday, somehow, I'd like to leave an imprint that wasn't washed away as easily as the waves wash away the markings in the sand.

Nothing feels quite as good as making and creating something with your own hands and then letting the world see it. As I place together old pictures frames I dug up at thrift shops scattered all over the Bangor area, I think about how it feels to know it soon will hang in a spot where others can see it.
Most of people who see my photography are family and friends; they encourage me warmly. But I want some constructive criticism too. I want to know what I'm doing wrong and fix it.
It's easy for me to imagine being a photographer for the rest of my life. I love it so much that it would feel wrong to not do it.
Someday, I'll have a studio, maybe. Even though I deeply prefer being outdoors taking portraits, maybe someday I'll have a studio.
My name on the door, my copyright on the pictures, me behind the camera...
I shake my head. These are silly and dangerous thoughts; ones that have gotten me into trouble before.
I devote so much time and energy into my photography that other aspects of my life suffer. While I'm sitting in class all I can really think about is the ultimate dream for me.
In this month's National Geographic magazine, photographer Holliann Bergin shows us some of the pieces she collected while she explored abandoned castles in Ireland and Scotland...
I know that chances are, it'll never happen for me. A little girl from downeast Maine doesn't exactly get opportunities like that knocking at her door. But I also don't think opportunities like that just knock at your door.
My picture is all in the frame, and to me it looks pretty good. It's the last of my 29 pictures, and my fingers hurt from prying open old picture frames. It took me forever to collect all the frames, and the stress of whether or not my pictures would look good kept me awake all night last night. At least 4 of my frames broke and I had to quickly find new ones; the reception is next week and I'm still unsure of how it's going to go or how many people are going to show up.
But even though it cost more money then I thought it would and it was a lot of stress for me to deal with on my own, I finished it. Tomorrow I hang the last of my pictures, and my exhibit will be there for 2 whole months.
When I crawl into bed I think about how worth it it'll all be to see my pictures int he library. It makes it all a little smoother; it makes the stress go down a little easier. Because I know it's for something I love.
And if no one quit when all the going got tough, they wouldn't have anything to regret for the rest of their life.
I don't want to regret anything.

With my camera around my neck, I climb higher up the mountain even though my legs are so tired, even though I'm sweating so terribly. I know how important this shot would be; I know how beautiful the view will be from the top. So I keep on hiking, even though the African air is killing me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 8

I've never really believed that anyone ever 'aimlessly walks'. I've always thought that any kind of movement has had some kind of purpose; even if you're not sure where you're going. Maybe that's better; to walk without going somewhere. To seek without needing. You don't always have to be searching for something specific in this life; maybe you can just look.
This is the philosophy I use when I take a walk with my camera. I like to walk and see what I can see.
On this specific spring day, I'm taking a walk around downtown Bangor with my camera. Bangor Metro is holding a contest for a shot of a downtown building, so I decided to try my hand and getting a good picture to send in.
Today the sky is blue and scattered with perfectly puffy clouds, the sun is bright and the world seems alive.
My sunglasses shade my eyes from the strangers I pass. I always get curious glances while I take pictures of buildings and other things that catch my eye.
The wind breathes warmly today, and it causes my hair to dance around my face. I snap pictures while I walk, and hope to find that one shot that'll make my walk worthwhile.
As I'm taking a shot of the old Bagel Central building, I see a woman sitting on a park bench nearby. She is clearly homeless; all of her possessions overflowed a shopping cart, her hair was a mess atop her head, her clothes were dark and tattered.
I push my sunglasses up so I could get a good look at her.
Sunken-in eyes and sallow skin, I can't help but also find her beautiful. There is so much truth in sights like this one. Ones that you can't brush of. Ones that you can't forget.
I walk by her and smile warmly as she looks up at me from her seat. She doesn't return the greeting, and I continue walking.
Someday I'd like to take a picture of a sight like that; I'd like to have the courage to walk up to her and ask if I could take a portrait of her. I wouldn't want to offend her.
I made a mental note to someday grow that confidence, and moved on with my walk.
I continue on down a path near a stream. It felt good to get out and take a stroll. I stretched my legs and felt the sun on my skin. Times like this remind me that summer is near, and that's always an uplifting feeling.
The path goes through the forest and brings you to an old rusty walking bridge. Decorated with grafitti, the bridge is a sight for my eyes. Old and sitting alone across a small river, its an interesting little place to get good shots.
Painted in white along one of the railings of the bridge are the words:
 'The free things; water, air, love, fucking, thinking, this view, friendship, love'. 
After absorbing all the truth in those words, I look up to the view and realize how lovely it is. The trees are on either side of the river; the river is as blue as the sky. I smile and lift my camera to take a shot of it. I also take pictures of the vandilism, and I secretly admire their guts to deface public property.
I spend a lot of time looking downtown for interesting shots to take, so I've started to recognize certain grafitti. There are certain signatures, styles and symbols I see often enough to begin to recognize them.
I live a fairly quiet life, and I don't spend a lot of time doing things that could get me in trouble. But for maybe a month I'd like to live a life of wild abandon. I give a fuck about almost everything I do; how refreshing it would be to not give a fuck. Life can be exhausting when you worry about everything. Imagine if I could live life and not worry about everything like I do. Imagine how relaxed I'd be if I did exactly what I wanted all the time.
I look around for on-lookers and dig my keys out of my camera case. Quickly and very carefully, I carve 'HEB 2012' in the rusty bridge. I smile to myself and take a picture of it.
Maybe I don't have to act ridiculous to make my mark on something. And now I've modified this bridge for however long it stands.
Once I'm done on the bridge, I decide to walk up a hill towards the main road.
A little further up the hill, I see a group of thug-looking people who are directly ahead of me.
As a girl who grew up in rural Downeast Maine, I always get a little nervous when I encounter characters like these. I get nervous and hug my arms close to my chest; I cover my eyes with my sunglasses.
As they're walking by one of them looks at me, and I instantly get nervous. Suddenly he stops.
"Excuse me, miss," He says and I stop in my tracks.
I pause before I answer, "Yes?"
He smiles, "Be careful on your walk up the hill; it's very muddy and slippery, and my friend and I just fell."
I smile in return, realizing I had nothing to be afraid of. I thank them for their warning, and I sincerely appreciate their courtesy.
When I get to the top of the hill I look down at the bridge and think about how things look different from every perspective. I've always been fascinated by it. Sort of like how I see that bridge, or the homeless woman, or the thugs who were polite to me. Everything and everyone is different when looking at it from different angles. But sometimes it takes a little more then good eyesight too look closely enough at something and truly see it.