In preparing to go back to Maryland tomorrow I found myself vacillating between getting one or two five-packs of Portra. Unsurprisingly, money has an unsettling way of controlling my every choice lately. I feel constricted and choked every time I want to spend more than $20 on anything. And then I talk to people who are my age and live in Park Slope, people who can quit their jobs and move across the country, or just move away from New York, and have plenty of money. I don’t want to quit my job but I do want to feel like I have enough control over my life to buy $80 worth of film if I want to, and feel okay about the $7 per roll it costs to develop, even if it all comes out like shit. All my film has been coming out like shit, this year! It’s upsetting. I have been shooting shit. (Rationally, I know I have not been shooting shit.) Maybe it will be important in some way, later, but it’s been hard to feel challenged or motivated or excited by any of the film I’ve shot since coming back from Europe. I settled on eight rolls of film - five Portra, three Ilford. 

Do I just make sloppy work? Is that the hidden message here? Is my artistic process ham-fisted, clunky, lacking discipline? How do I get it together? Accepting any and all suggestions here. 


In order to combat the loneliness and lack of control I’ve been privy to lately I have been doing free geography quizzes online in my free time. I have learned where Burundi and Kosovo and Kiribati are, and can point to Azerbaijan on a map. It occurred to me a little while ago that I don’t goddamn know where anything is and learning where things are has helped. It’s also humbling. 

I have learned a lot about my hometown in the past month, since my parents “got more serious” about selling the home I grew up in and moving south. A huge amount has changed. I am in bed with someone looking up the headquarters for Discovery Communications to show them Chompie, the shark they install on all four sides of the building during Shark Week every year. “Looks like they’re moving,” they say, and I pretend not to notice at first but then open the link telling me about the slow and gradual decline of Silver Spring as a business hub. Discovery bought Scripps which is located in Knoxville, Tennessee, which touches the southwest edge of Virginia, where my parents will move. Discovery will be located in New York by the end of 2019.

I have vivid memories of waiting for my dad to get off the Metro down the hill on Wayne Ave and watching the neon lights on the side of the building change intermittently with my mom, at the intersection of Wayne and Georgia Aves. It is probably a substantial part of the reason I stand at the Bleecker St 6 train station, when I’m going uptown, and watch the lights in Hive (built by Leo Villareal) change. For a city full of neon lights I feel like I see so few unless I orient myself in the proper direction, and watching the lights change at Bleecker St is something I can do anytime- I can only recall one time when the display wasn’t operating. I don’t know if the lights have been changing on the Discovery building in the last few years. 

If I started listing things that have moved away from Silver Spring I would just get sad, and if I started listing people I know moving away from New York (or who have already moved) I would just get sadder. Loss begets loss as I wrote about previously and I’m exhausted by it. The photo is of the entry to a path that cuts between Sligo Creek Parkway and the houses near my middle school, at the edge of the park by the house I grew up in, and if the developers and construction companies don’t change it, the eventual rise of the creek will.


So, then, my urge is to create, and I want to create based on something positive- not spite, not (just) inertia, not fear. This means I should make work that’s different and challenging and upsetting. My body has thrown me through the ringer since Thursday and I don’t know if it’ll stop. I read a headline on “vampire facials” (do not look it up if you’re squeamish), I look at Mapplethorpe’s work on the wall, I fantasize about having a Dyke Deck of my own. Tonight I’m going to a reading of dirty writing in Bushwick. I’m learning where countries I’ve never been to are located. Tuvalu is ten miles in diameter and I used to be able to bike that much in one sitting. I want to find something to trust in- I want to trust in my work. Fear is the same thing keeping me from spending money and I think I’m finally starting to get sick enough of it to do something without it influencing me. Or not, but who knows? Maybe something will click. Maybe I can start trusting myself again. 

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