Saturday, December 19, 2009


Brian, NYC
Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

Disclaimer: This post is going to be a bit more bloggy than is my usual style, but this is only because I want to record an amazing trip and there is just too much to say as it is. My fellow writers, my readers, please forgive me and enjoy the ride.

Last week, I enjoyed one of the best vacations I've ever had in New York City with BA. It's been several months since I've felt the rush and motion of the city, and it's been a year since I've basked in the big lights of New York, where it feels rightfully like the center of the universe. (It may as well be, after all.)

Our first two days were spent traipsing through Central Park as lovers do while also indulging, as lovers do, in Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, and favorite restaurants, including mine, Prune, where we savored my favorite and most memorable meal of my life: roasted bone marrow. Watching BA enjoy a dish that is so close to my heart in a place so special to me was exquisitely intimate and perfect. To dine at Prune and to enjoy the personal favorites of its owner, Gabrielle Hamilton, is to understand why we, as humans, have the connections we do to food, and to share this deeply primal and limbic desire with another person felt like sharing a piece of myself. (I can only imagine how Hamilton must feel every night.)

The next day, we met my dear friend M at MTV and took a train an hour up the Hudson river to his new home and my other dear friend, A, and their new baby, DC. It was inspiring and at the same moment terrifying to witness the transitions of a new life; I've only ever known M and A as M and A, not M and A and DC, and it was sometimes even a little stressful to witness the redirection of their thoughts and passions to this new little person. I am, as I have always been, amazed by the enormous sacrifice of oneself in the act of parenting. As is their nature, M and A were wonderful hosts and it was lovely to see the new shape of their family and home.

After our short visit up north, BA and I made our way down to Brooklyn to stay with our friend B, a fellow photographer and film artist who took us in and to whom I feel wonderfully closer after just our short stay. Later that evening, BA and I headed back into Manhattan to meander about NYU and then over to the opening of a show at the Alaska House Gallery, "Dry Ice," in which he had four pieces. All night I beamed with pride as we mingled and we drank, and then we hopped back on the subway to Brooklyn, grabbed a few good beers and some pizza, and headed back to B's for some late night R&R.

We woke early and, although it was an incredibly cold day in the city (-6 F windchill), BA and I decided to walk from Brooklyn to Soho, crossing the Brooklyn bridge and heading up Broadway, taking moments of shelter in coffee houses and the galleries along the way. It was fun to be cold and hurried together, rushing through the streets carefree and invigorated by our own warm energy. We dined in the evening at Tom's Restaurant, one of the more touristy ventures of our trip, and found that it actually was not at all overrun with tourists but just a quaint, drab local eggs-and-bacon haunt. (BA had the grilled cheese with bacon, I had a poached egg and toast.) We returned to Brooklyn and B and spent a delightfully exhausting evening at a loft party, returning to talk about art until the wee hours of the morning.

When BA and I finally said our good-byes to B the next day after a walk across the Manhattan bridge and lunch at Katz's on the lower east side, we were thoroughly tired and packed up our things to our final staying place in Brooklyn, our friend C's apartment (C was not there). We huddled close through the dark streets, picked up some bread, eggs, pop tarts and beer, and enjoyed an evening of low-expense relaxation and indoor laughing.

On our final day in the city, it poured, but we carried on, undaunted, through the Manhattan streets beneath a 6-dollar black umbrella. We enjoyed a simple and delicious breakfast at the very green (there is a chalkboard on the wall that screams "don't panic, it's organic" ) Le Pain Quotidian, walked for about an hour in spite of the downpour to central park, then decided on enjoying a beautiful photography exhibit at the Moma touting all of the greats--from Avedon and Arbus to a mass of unknowns. We left, our artistic souls satisfied, and enjoyed a beer at the Heartland Brewery to take some shelter from the rain before heading back down to Soho for one last time. We ended our evening with a second late-night visit to Prune before heading back down to Brooklyn to say good-bye to C and catch a cab to the airport at 4am.

After we arrived home, BA and I were both two exhausted Alaskans, but this is what it is to be young and alive. And this, of course, it what I love most about New York; it always makes me feel alive.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I to the Sea

Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

And so, November has come and gone without so much as a word. (Sorry.)

It is a very peculiar thing when one moves very far away; everything has changed, and so one changes with it. (I am here now, so I may not be there. )

I honestly have not been anywhere but here since I've moved, and last night, looking at BA as we stood on the steps of our house (yes, I have indeed moved again, already), it occurred to me that just six months ago, I was somewhere else entirely-- in my own apartment, circling Golden Gate Park or sitting in the Sutro Bath ruins as the fog rushed in.

I do not mourn it at all. I do not miss the complacent, agreeable weather, even now in this time of winter.

Yes, in Anchorage, we are currently in the dark season; the sun remains always at a distance, never rising up overhead but traveling alongside like a parent teaching her child how to ride a bike. The city is chilled, and I have experienced sub-zero temperatures already, yet it is not harsh as I imagined. The cold makes one feel alive--a flushed face in a white and blue world. A warm place in a dark one.

The past six weeks have been busy, exciting, and so wonderful, watching this change of season that's faster than any I've ever experienced. Between BA, R, my sister, L and the host of other friends I've made here, I've been surrounded by truly good people, and I've done and seen a lot of fun things; a few scattered shows, a weekend trip to Talkeetna, long walks in the waning light of winter, nights with BA, days writing in the kitchen, dinner parties, Thanksgiving with BA's family and L's family with a short skyping to mine--I am nothing but excited for the coming months.

Next week, BA and I will be in New York for the opening of his show in Soho, a conference of mine, and a lot of visits with friends.

It's amazing to me always how much life can change in a year, in a month.

I to the Sea

This is where everything comes back to:
a reflection,
an echo housed in not so safe a place.

as the sea is blue
as the sky,
sponging dry and wet again
as rote lessons of waves.

This is you, buried in my skin,

or my grandmother,
cradling me
in the pool at the Y,
lips the cerulean of crayons,
rivered veins.

Tap on my chest and I'll sing you these blues—
the cornflowers, the aquas, the skies,
clinging to thin skins as tread ponds
or mountain air;

I'll sing to you of shallow water,
the only place we see it all at once:

clouds atop packed earth,

a stillborn,
seal-slick, blue-grey, and heavier than you'd think.

This is you, this part of me weighted as damp denim.

Your cloudy visage plumes
across my surface, colors my depths.

Show me the angry indigo of a flame,
and I'll sing to you of
a coming and going,
a sea mirroring a sky
that holds it all:

my breath, my baby, and
my grandmother's hands,
pink in suds of dish water,
steam curling up in her white hair.

This, after all, is what we're made of:
pulsing crests and ebbing gusts,
bobbing up and down
in a pool
made just for us.

Photo © Ashley Skabar, The port in Anchorage; a special place from which to see the world. Taken with my new Rollei 35, a birthday present.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birthday: Homer, Alaska

Originally uploaded by brian_adams

The beauty of this place is astounding, always. Every morning walk with BA to the park is a gift, every cloudy sky or sun-drenched porch is majestic in its own emotional and liberated way. Here, it is the opposition and the harmony of things; one is free and far away and at the same time shut out from her own country.

This is my country, sweet land of liberty.

I spent my birthday weekend in Homer, Alaska with BA, B, and L, traipsing around the mudflats, the rocks, the beach, and the small fishing town, smoking inside at a small, dark bar, sipping coffee and munching croissants at the local bakery, huddled around a fire with faces flushed with drink and s'mores. In the vast quiet, there was only our laughter, our breaths, ourselves. In the still water, there was the sky, the mountains, and our pale faces dreaming in.

Here, it is the absence that reminds you what you are.

I'm inspired by (and in) this place, by its contrasts--the dive bars overflowing with free popcorn, local music, and good beers to the bluffs and ridges that take my breath away. Alaska, I am happy to know you.

Photo © 2009 Brian Adams

Monday, September 21, 2009

The sky, the stars and the wilderness. (Love as possession.)

Last SF sky
Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

I've been in Anchorage now for almost a month, which has been one of the fastest in my life. I arrived as scheduled, toting a yoga mat, a violin, and the small sum of the possessions I did not ship, and my sister and I immediately went for a drive down Old Seward to a sky bedecked with stars and a spray of northern lights.

Love is both emasculating and empowering--there is something about giving up a life for someone else that is both the most beautiful and terrifying thing in the world.

There was something emasculating about this thing we call love—here she was, in the airport on her way to Alaska, being frisked by a large red-haired female security guard. Here she was, arriving in Anchorage, tired and dirty at midnight, to her sister's teary eyes, to an embrace tight and desperate (I'll never let you go again). Here she was, on the side of the road, screaming to herself, the wind, the mountains, the never-ending sea of cars and their dark fumes, an open crate of nachos spilled before her like a star.

I spent the entire first week in a mode of culture shock and doubt, vacillating between feelings of loss and reconnection. To be with Beth again makes me feel whole and at home in a way no place ever could, yet the entire life I've left in San Francisco is still there, spinning on without me. It's the way I think it will be to die; to simply exit and allow the dance to rhumba on. I will miss things always about San Francisco--breaking out upon Ocean Beach during a storm, the fog rolling in over the bridge at night, the hills, the movement, the photogenic and ornate homes dollhoused along the side streets, the sea of beautiful people--but I am home now.

Much of Anchorage reminds me of where I'm from in the Midwest-- the small homes with tiny windows, the artists that stand out like thumbs and instantly recognize and welcome one another. The feeling that change is both necessary and possible aches in the streets against the settled practicality of hard working days. Family feels important here, unlike the city life which dissolves the need for roots and places in its stead the need for independent mobility.

She went out for what must have been eight hours, and she walked along the deserted streets, not another soul in sight. Just houses, small and mute, drab and unremarkable, the only details to be caught the notes of wind chimes, small hand prints in the concrete, the passing of bright automobiles. This place reminded her of her youth, of the yellow dinnertimes, of an almost forgotten sensation that our lives are as sediment in a fish tank, simply where they are by virtue of gravity, not will. It is a different place, not unlike all the others to where she's been, but so very different.

At the end of my second week, our art show, AB+ (previously and temporarily called Half), opened, and it was wonderful. The move--the weeks--had been stressful, but the opening was a point of recovery and success, a place where I met several truly amazing people in a special place with my sister's images framed with mine like caught air of balloons. Every now and then throughout the night, Beth and I would beam silently at one another from across the room, as if to say, "Look where we are! Look from where we've come." (This is a look we often share, when the same memories of our tiny Ohio home with muted dreams climb up within us like a weed, when we realize all over again that we are here, that the past is over.)

After spending the weekend with BA, a new truly wonderful person, I was notified that I have won a finalist award for the Narrative Poetry Prize, which will be my very first poetry publication. With letter in hand, I cried at the kitchen table; after all of the countless rejections--even some for the same pieces--I felt validated. It's as though I've been beneath the water and someone just let me back up in case I'm down there for a while again, which, undoubtedly, I will be. In all, I feel inspired right now, both "settled" and motivated at the same time.

I know what I want and who I am, my passions are clearly defined as they have been for years. Now, it's on.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

City Handstand

City Handstand
Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

Beth and I have been preparing for our show, opening on September 4th in downtown Anchorage, which will consist of 15 diptychs of holga images, each containing one image from each of us. The show will be called "Half" and is an expression of both connection and separation. I have often told Beth, both verbally and in poetry, that I feel that I have not experienced anything when I'm away from her until I've told her about it. I feel like half of a person without her, and I cannot wait to be under the same roof again, in the same city!, after these years.

WIthout you, I am as an amputee itching the air.

The last time that we lived together was during the five days before my departure from Athens to San Francisco; my lease had ended, and Beth and I wanted to soak up sisterly time together anyways. In the middle of the night before the morning I was to leave, I woke up crying, saying, "I don't want to go after all. I just want to stay with you and talk and play cards forever." It was admittedly not my finest hour, but I feel that way still; when I'm with my sister in the same place, I'm both more inspired and more content. I still feel like I want to artistically take on the world, but I'm also completely satisfied with a cup of tea and a game of gin.

As much as I will miss this city so full of life and energy, I cannot wait to land in ANC next weekend at midnight to the arms of my sister, my best friend, my other half.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Dylan

Originally uploaded by skinny.jeans

I packed up Dylan into his carrier, scrubbed out his litter box while he and I cried, then set him on the backseat of hattie's car. She and I talked for about 40 minutes, and then I shut the door and she drove away. My Dylan.

Honestly, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done, and for those of you who know me well, you'll know that's saying a lot. He's been my friend and companion in a time of great uncertainty and change. He's the first pet I've had that I've bonded to like this, and I will never forget him. It's better this way; hattie will take great care of him, and I will be moving in with my sister who will not have to worry about her allergies and asthma acting up in the middle of a shut-in winter. Dylan won't have to make the flight to Alaska. My Dylan.

Dylan, I will miss you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

dear lover, i am that girl

Originally uploaded by right.of.passage

If I died tomorrow, it wouldn't be difficult to assemble the events of the past decade of my life by simply reading through my blogs. I spend a lot of time at my computer--writing, designing, and doing webby things, and as a result, I have accrued several volumes of blog posts and journal entries. In hard-copy life, a new journal usually marks a new journey or transition. And so, as I am about to embark on a new journey--moving from San Francisco to Alaska--it is time also for a new blog. Just photos, poetry, thoughts and bits of life that you might find interesting.

I walk the streets here, in this place of sun and sea breeze, and I walk and I walk and I walk. After work many nights I just walk for hours like someone lost or someone going somewhere very important, sometimes until midnight, snapping a photograph here and there, writing down a few thoughts on a pad of paper. My soles have passed over the rocks on the seacliff, the docks lining the bay, the steamy grates in the tenderloin, the swept sidewalks lining the storefronts.

This city has wrapped around me, taken me in. I've breathed in the breeze, the mountains and the parks, swallowed up long-night conversations and deep belly laughs. The people, memories, and miles of this place I know will travel with me. San Francisco, I will miss you.

Now, I look forward to the space. Space to walk with my thoughts, a warm home with my sister, my family. The cold and dark quiet of the winter.