At Hula's House

Hula's garden

I dare not confess the far reaches of my newly-born skepticism or tell you about the Disillusionment Series of t-shirts I designed but never made because few people want to wear their cynicism so openly. I will tell you I now have these things I say to myself, like the sentences a teacher makes you write 800 times until you know the principle by heart. People are not magic, people are just people. People are not magic, people are just people.

But that's one former conviction that is hard to shake when I think about Andrea Jenkins, aka Hula. Try as I may, when I think of her I can't deny that there are still people who fill me with wonder, who make me consider a little longer that perhaps beauty and love are deep, deep seas worth dropping our anchors down into. Since coming home to Brooklyn there have been moments--a song playing in the market or a memory of her daisies landing on my shoulder while I cook dinner--when the remembrance of our time in her dear home brought tears to my eyes. Some gifts are so great, they are hard to speak of.

Hula's presence is just like this light--it has the power to make you feel beautiful, to make you feel seen. Polaroid by Andrea Jenkins, hulaseventy.blogspot.com

In all my days, I'll never forget the welcome of your table

or how the morning light spills across it before anyone else is awake.

 

In all my days, I'll never again wake under forty white paper stars
and the love that dreamed them up and put them there.

 

Posing for a picture

We'll never stop wanting the children to have their fun
or worrying that they will throw themselves off balance and fall.
I won't fear it's just my imagination when things are off
because we had that It's not just me moment and now

I trust myself all the more.

 

Ward and Justin in the Grilled Cheese Grill double-decker bus

In all my days, I'll remember how I dreamed our families
would fit together like two puzzles pieces finding their way home
and how it was so very true,
like a taste of heaven to throw an already-sweet summer
deliciously over the top.
In all my days, I'll watch you spin
your beautiful life into your greatest work of all.
I'll never forget how I needed refuge

or how I found it inside your doorway,

how I found it in the circle of your arms.

 

Discover Hula's magic for yourself at Instant Magic, her upcoming workshop at Teahouse Art Studio September 17th.

Four Years

Four years ago today I arrived in Brooklyn with my family. It was snowy and cold, and they were working on the power on our street so the building was dark when we entered. Neighbors heard us come in and greeted us in the hallway, putting flashlights in our hands. The girls were 3 years old and 4 months old, and all three of us had stomach viruses and colds simultaneously. I had been sick with one thing after another for the four months since Lucy's birth, and I struggled up the stairs to our third-floor walk-up feeling so weak.

We didn't know if it would work out, or if our Urban Living Experiment would crash and burn, sending us back to the suburbs with our tails between our legs. I didn't know what I would write, or how I would find the time around caring for the girls, just that I had to write. Something. Sometime. I didn't know if I would make friends or if this big city would eat my hopeful and innocent self alive.

Today I feel very quiet, the way you get when you're observing a sacred day. I am full of remembrances and I feel this, I don't know, significance I guess, around every small moment from then until now. If anyone had told me four years ago all that would happen and unfold in these few short years, I would have had to lie down--the weight of my disbelief would have been too heavy to bear.

My gratitude now is equally large, for this city, for the friends who brighten my days and the community that lights up my nights, and for who I get to be here. For all the ways that trusting ourselves led us truly, like following an inner north star. For finding a right place with which to share my life, which for me was every bit as important as finding a right person with whom to do the same.

I love you, New York.

The Cupcake Cafe

At the Cupcake Cafe in Books of Wonder, NYC. Horizon Perfekt, xpro Lomo 200 film. The cupcakes in the top right corner have arms, legs, huge eyelashes, and have been known to dance up on their stage, just like the Rockettes.

These cupcakes are works of art.

Just as delicious as they look. (Uh, the cupcakes, too.)A few words about Books of Wonder:  this place will always be dear to me, ever since the celebration they held for Madeleine L'Engle shortly after I moved to New York. That was a seminal experience that I will never forget.  Just going there can make me teary, and seeing collectable editions of her books in the glass cupboard sends me over the edge.  All I could think on this trip was, maybe I could have my birthday party at the Cupcake Cafe, and would any of my friends come?

And a couple things about my panoramic camera:  the Horizon doesn't have a flash.  It doesn't focus.  It's fully manual, and I don't digitally enhance my scans of the negatives.  I don't use a light meter (I'm just working on memorizing relevant parts of these charts).  I've only had it a few months, and I'm just blissed out with the images I'm getting, even as a super beginner. These images (and many I've posted lately) were cross-processed, meaning they were taken on slide film and then processed in print negative chemicals, which can create cool color shifts, vibrancy, and other surprises.  Every time I go to the Lomography Gallery Store here in New York I fall more and more in love with the analogue photography world and Lomography's rockin' staff.

Yesterday I saw the Horizon album, and was inspired to order my first prints.  I can't wait to get them and to show them to all my pals, including Jason at Duane Reade, who happily caters to all my wacky processing requests.  We might have to celebrate.  With cupcakes.

Crossing Over

My friend, Gin Ferrara, on The Brooklyn Bridge, which is over 150 years old. All photos taken with Horizon Perfekt camera and cross-processed Lomo 200 film. Scanned, unedited.When my friend, Gin, came through town a couple weeks ago, all she wanted to do was to find the waffle truck.  It was the perfect kind of adventure--simple, yet laced with just the right amount of mystery and anticipation.  And what better way to track down an infamous waffle, I thought, than to walk the Brooklyn Bridge to get there?  This is still one of my favorite things to do in New York.  We talked the whole way across, and I could feel what Kate means when she says that just doing regular things against the backdrop of this city gives your life a cinematic feeling.

The physical imagery is so helpful, like an alternate version of, say, walking a labyrinth.  Walking the bridge, and even looking back at the pictures later, can really show you a lot about crossing over. 

There's the way a journey can look in the beginning--vast, inviting or daunting.

It can feel larger than life.  It can make you feel small.  Or, you might not believe your good fortune as it invites you in, like the magical chalk drawings the children lept into with Mary Poppins.  Whether you jump in with both feet or tread cautiously ahead, you are on your way.

Sometimes, you look left.

And then you look right.  To get your bearings, to enjoy the view. 

You remind yourself that this bridge is old, in a good way.  That it has delivered perhaps millions of people safely across without failing.  The motion is normal, you tell yourself.  And you try not to clench the railing too hard.

At some point, you find yourself somewhere out there:  in the middle.

With neither shore in close reach, and only water below. 

The worst are those times that feel like being in the middle in a great fog--times in which you can't see where you are heading.  There is just a path beneath your feet.  To keep going, you have to trust that the path is there for a reason and that it leads somewhere good. 

The further I go, the less I get to see and the more I am asked to trust.  In the middle, I do not appreciate this quality of crossing over as perhaps I will from the other side.

After you pass center, the path slopes downward.  The end of this journey, the beginning of the next, is near.  You can see your destination with more clarity and in greater detail than before.

I wish I could write about arrivals or destinations, but I'm not there yet. 

I'm still somewhere swinging over the water in a fog, dreaming of what surprises, adventures and delicious Belgian treats await me on the other side.

Squam Spring Session Photo Album

I'm an early riser, and this was my view from the rocking chair on the porch while my cabinmates were still deep in their slumber.

This was our cabin. 

Morning on the dock.

This cozy cabin living room is where my classes were held, complete with sofas and old-fashioned rocking chairs.  A couple mornings it was even cool enough to light the fire.

Some of my students went out to the dock to do their exercises.  Doesn't it look dreamy? 

An impromptu Cal Patch fashion show in our cabin with Jen, Thea, Michelle and Jonatha.

Here are a few Diana Instants:

Saturday afternoon we took a trip to the nearby town of Center Sandwich, NH. 

With my new friends, Gin and Arrabella.

The yellow butterfly in the center of this pic was always flying around just outside our front door.

Meg's rocking the pink hair and her new tattoo.

Meg with our cabinmate, the amazing Cal Patch, and our beloved Mackenzie.

I still have a few more pics at the lab right now, if you can believe it.  Somehow seeing all the photographs has helped me with the transition back home.  It's like looking at them helps me believe That Really Happened and wasn't just the best of dreams. 

In Good Company

This week I'm playing with the new Diana F+ lens adaptor for Canon SLRs (there's one for Nikon, too).  I'm hoping to have a full-blown review up soon.  In the meantime, here a few of my pictures from this experiment.

Canon Rebel xsi with a Diana+ lens

I'm happy to announce that Take Me with You: A Journal for the Journey will now be available for sale at Scaredy Kat, one of my favorite gift boutiques in Brooklyn.  They recently moved to a larger space, but they're still on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope.

Canon Rebel xsi with (I think) the Diana F+ Super Wide LensSince I was just trying to casually snap a few pics yesterday, and I'm still experimenting with this camera and lens set-up, it's hard to feel like these photos do the place justice.  But it's bright and roomy, and it's the first place I go when I'm looking for that just right thing for myself or someone I love.

Canon Rebel xsi with the Diana+ Super Wide Lens

Their selection is edited so well that you don't have to sort through, dig under or look past anything that isn't exquisite and original.  I'm so pleased to have my journal featured as part of their collection.

Canon Rebel xsi with Diana+ Super Wide Lens

The best part of all is that Scaredy Kat also sells Mati Rose's magnets (this photo is pretty dreamy, but perhaps you can make them out there on the second shelf). 

Mati and me, photo by Tracey ClarkThat's what I call being in good company.