Found this while looking through the vault today. This is Kensington, Maryland, in March 2016.

Feeling all sorts of out-of-place. This time of year makes me think of myself when I was 17, makes me think of myself when I was 21 (when I took this). The clouds shift and a sunny morning becomes overcast, I think back to days like this, I get lost in the swell of dead pine leaves from the autumn past. I spent two hours clearing out dead leaves from the bradford pear in my backyard, I cut myself on a rusty nail (I have had a tetanus booster recently, I’m fine), I shoveled moldy leaves into a bag and told myself the amount of cat shit I was touching was acceptable. Yesterday I got a light sunburn from being outdoors for long enough.

I talked to someone recently about pictures and it came to me that most of my photographs are taken outside. Is this significant? While I was shoveling yard waste yesterday I likened it to my mental state, I’ve been clearing out shit, all I do is collect shit and it swirls around in my head (or my backyard) and at some point all the shit, even the useful stuff, becomes useless, and I have to shovel it all out. Cue the Rick and Morty line about Summer getting her shit together. My therapist assigned me (I know) to at least come up with three ways to dig myself out of my rut. I shoveled my backyard, I bought a new plant, I looked up free/cheap yoga classes in the city. I thoroughly avoided buying new shoes, I ate some vegetables. I’m trying. All I can do is try.


2018, 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively.

The first two, I meant to write about specifically, in relation to each other. Then I thought about the other two images, and decided to look back.

The photograph taken in 2015 is not all that different from the one taken in 2018. I almost feel like I look older in the 2015 version. I am almost certain I took it after I was crying. When I was in San Francisco (where the 2018 photo was taken, in my airbnb), I was sort of channeling that same energy. It’s using the same 35mm camera that Caiti sold me for $20 in 2015, and a lens she loaned me for the SF trip. This was taken before I shot Dan and Erin’s wedding, waking up in a new city where I’d never been, having taken myself all the way there alone.

All these pictures are about solitude. While mildly cliche, it’s true: the photograph in 2015 was taken as a testament to my “ability to be alone.” My mom told me often growing up that she wanted to raise her kids to be able to sustain themselves– financially, sure, but also socially. I can take myself out to dinner or a movie or shopping or some park or art gallery, and be just fine.

But christ, how lonely. That’s what the photograph in 2015 reflects, which I must’ve taken after the umpteenth time my boyfriend in Idaho had dumped me over the phone. Or when I realized he wouldn’t call me back. I also wanted to photograph what I thought was a cold sore for a long time (and turned out to be impetigo).

The loneliness leeched on me in that same way. It’s a blunt and sort of clunky metaphor, but that was the character of a lot of things then: my image-making practice (there are still many dust spots in this picture & there were three adjustment layers when I reopened the 2015 file) and how I carried myself, for two things. The 2018 image, though sleeker, makes me feel as though I have only become better at embodying loneliness. I trap myself in the entire frame, suspended in a glass jar like a specimen– under the guise of a fashionable portrait, so no one bothers me about malingering in my loneliness. The aforementioned ex boyfriend said I would do anything, work as hard as I could, just so I could be left alone to do my own thing. He gets more wrong every day.

The 2016 and 2017 images are other documentations of solitude, in this same way. Though different from 2015 and 2018 they also have odd similarities to each other. 2016, I took after photographing myself nude on a Pratt-issued twin XL bed, sideways, looking at the camera. This was sort of the reclamation of (clothed) self because nude self-portraits, more like normal self-portraits, are not my forte. Having said that, the 2017 image was preceded by other nude self-portraits; however, those are faceless. Headless. I also omitted the nude self-portrait I took on New Year’s Day 2018, though they actually work pretty well.

Can anyone else tell how bad I am at describing self-portraits? Why do I only photograph myself while sad? 2017 is the only image not using a mirror; I set up the Mamiya 7ii rental from Pratt on the ledge in my room I was renting from Anastazia in Windsor Terrace and turned on the self-timer. In 2017 and 2018 I am looking right at the lens. But what am I actually looking at? Or, in certain cases, what am I looking away from? What do we take with us each year? What engages or disengages?

No clue. I don’t have a whole lot to look away from at the moment. I have finally garnered enough momentum to vault myself into a new and different way of life, which is what I do. I’m better at exposing, I’m decent at doing things alone. I don’t know if I cry less or more. I have managed to remain in living spaces that are made up mostly of honeyed wooden floors.

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