- Aperture: f/3.3
- Focal Length: 60mm
- ISO: 1250
- Shutter: 1/30 sec
- Camera: NIKON D80
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
“You’ll never shoot that without a tripod,” Alec said as we photographed Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge.
Grumbling to myself, I ignored him. Of course he was right — he’s almost always right. It’s simultaneously annoying and reassuring. So tonight we have an image that’s less than. Less than exemplary. Less than perfect. Less than in focus. Less than what I would have hoped to post. This was supposed to be a self-portrait, but after a frustrating evening of shooting, I realized that, as usual, they say far too much about me. I think I’ve said enough for one day. More than enough. Too much.
Frantically, I type. What have I done? What was I thinking? Do I really want to watch my career go up in smoke? Do I even HAVE a career anymore? I worked approximately zero days in January. Zero. Zero income producing days, unless you count a reprint I sold to Weekly Reader, but the pay was minimal, the sale was through their effort not mine, and the work was created three months ago. I had a better month my first year as a freelancer, and I thought I was going to starve that January — starve being almost ironically funny considering I now weigh more than I ever have in my life and am mainlining sugar as I type this like the worst kind of addict.
Writers are supposed to write. This is what we do. I haven’t written a story in two months — can’t seem to shake the post-holiday malaise. I’ve adjusted more or less to the new camera. It’s ok. It’s not really the same, but I’m not shooting much anyway. I miss my friends. I miss the sunshine. I miss writing. I miss working. I miss life. I felt happy when I went to Pennsylvania, but now that I’m back I feel as cagey and depressed as I did before I left.
I don’t know what I need anymore. I’m lonely and lost. I spend a lot of time smiling and looking like I have a plan. I just want to write hard and write well. I want to shoot the images I know I’m capable of producing. I want to watch movies and read books with some level of concentration without nagging worries swimming between the lines. I want to sleep eight hours and wake up knowing what I’m going to do for the day. I want to make the world a better place, leave some kind of mark that actually matters. I want to love and be loved until I can’t see straight. I want to belong somewhere. Anywhere.
I’m not well when I’m not writing. My life holds no discernible purpose or meaning without the bylines that tell me where I’ve been. Like the self-portraits I shoot, my stories are snapshots of who I am at the moment — what fascinates me, what moves me, what I’m longing for, what I need. Without the words and images to serve as my mirror, I’m not sure where I stand. In a world where I smile because I’m supposed to and bite my tongue too much of the time, letters and pixels don’t lie.
When Alec told me I’d never successfully make this image, I scalded his ears with a diatribe. How it’s not always about the perfect image, sometimes it’s the process, the feelings it evokes as I work through the shoot. Being in the moment and letting it carry me where I need to go. Even being the WonderTwins we are, we shot this church completely differently because we were each seeking our own answer. It’s not the final product that tells my inner story, it’s the way I lay it on the page — the colors, the processing, the syntax, the rhythm.
Lately, everything I do seems to point towards Alec’s assertion that I need a tripod, or rather, I need to use the one I have. I’m a proud, willful, stubborn girl. I don’t like to ask for help. I don’t like to lean on anyone or anything because I’m loathe to appear needy — I figure someone else needs whatever I need more. But lately my focus seems off and my narrative spine is completely non-existent.
“You’re better than this,” Alec says, and I’m left taking his word because it’s been so long since I pulled off anything brilliant that I don’t remember how it feels. Which reminds me. Sleep. It’s 2 a.m. After two days of more or less not sleeping, I need to reacquaint myself with the down pillows that poke pointy feathers through the pillowcase because — wonder of wonders — percale really DOES make a difference. I’m nodding off as I type though, so I imagine I’ll be out before the first quill scratches my cheek.
Goodnight all. You guys mean the world to me, even you damned quiet lurkers. 🙂
Music: Hand Me Down by Matchbox Twenty (lyrics)