briana soler

thoughts and photos

musings on motherhood

To have or have not

I marvel at motherhood from a distance. I have always been fascinated by it. I have gone back and forth for some time now, on if I want to have children or not. If one should, what the “point” is, what the meaning behind it is, why we decide to create little beings out of ourselves. I have read enough literature on motherhood and child development and relationships that it has made me pause and reflect on the paramount job that is to be a mother. It is one of the most complex subjects, perhaps because it is the thread that shapes us all, good or bad. I started to ask myself if I wanted to be the reason a child feels such burden, sadness, happiness etc. I am afraid of having that much control and responsibility for someone. I am also afraid of commitment, planting my feet in one place. I am constantly itching to leave, to avoid some problem or emotion. The emotions I don’t want to stay, so I try to outrun them. I am afraid of what my identity will be once I have children.

My own relationship with my mother has always been difficult. We have always had different view points and as she says, I have always been strong. Meaning, my personality has always presented itself as a wall rather than a flower. I have always wanted to be a flower, gentle. I have a strong defense always up, my opinions are strong, and what I perceive as right or fair has always been strong. I have always been unafraid to speak up. I push back, I fight. I have been the only one of my siblings to stand alone and fight. They think I am mean, or blunt, but I fight with tears in my eyes because it hurts to be the one who stands up for what is right alone. I guess I should start with me as an infant, rejecting my mothers milk. I would close my mouth as tight as I could when it came time to breastfeed me. Shaking my head, and pushing my mother away. I was the first to reject her, maybe it was then that our relationship started on a different plane than the others. I was told I was an easy child, I would never cry in the middle of the night. She said I was often so quiet she would forget about me and rush to check on me only to find me playing with my toes, quietly happy and observing my surroundings. The first time I acted out was when I was getting potty trained, my younger sister got born and it ended up taking me 3 years to potty train. You were regressing, my mother said, you wanted to stay a baby because your sister was a baby. But I think I was acting out because I thought she was betraying me. I thought a new baby meant the love she had for me was replaced. Nature vs. nurture. Was this all innate? Or did I learn this? Did the inevitable fate impact me differently than it did my brother? Or did it begin when I rejected the breast milk? And how did my mother feel, postpartum with all the emotions and having had me inside of her for 9 months only for me to come out and reject her motherly instinct? I know she tells me it was nothing, she thought nothing of it, just that she knew I was always different. I was coined as stubborn and the one who “marched to a different drum.” But truthfully, I never wanted to, I wanted to march to the same drum.

My sister has always been sure she wanted to be a mom someday. I have always been the one to avoid the thought, and then to wander around the question. She was the one who had baby dolls and would always pretend to “play mom” when we were younger. She has always idolized my mother and has shaped herself to fit her mold. I suppose my relationship with our mother has always been pinning for her love, her approval, her acceptance. She seemed like this out of reach goal that I could never meet. Maybe because of this, I have always sort of been afraid of children. I have this fear inside myself of what if my baby doesn’t love me, or even like me? What if it rejects me? I am timid around other children I don’t know too. I think growing up without any young children around has played a part but also because I am self conscious that if a random baby doesn’t cling to me, or if it just cries when it looks at me that its a sign of my motherhood abilities. That I will never be quite cut out for this sort of thing. Maybe its my deep want to be a mother that makes me paranoid and panicked. Just as my deep love for anything does, writing, New York City, Hayden… The things I want most I freeze or push away. I don’t want it all to be ruined. I remember all the opinions people have said to me about motherhood, peoples judgment on weather i would or would not be a good mother because I don’t project those qualities but keep them tucked away inside of me.

Recently, I had a conversation with my mother and father about motherhood, and parenthood. We were talking about how I don’t feel quite ready yet. I have a checklist of things I want to do before I even start thinking about it. I expressed my doubts about wanting children too. They reminded me that no one is ever really ready to have kids, no matter how many books you’ve read or how much money you have. My parents had us when they were not always finically stable. Money has always come in waves, either we have it or we don’t but we understand its cycle. They did not let that change their plans for children, instead they went with the flow, never trying to change or stop the current. They said, life will show you what you need to learn for your children. My mom said having children was the greatest thing she ever did, the most challenging and rewarding gift. But at the same time I have heard her speak about how difficult it was to give up her selfhood, to give up figuring out who she is to have children. She was 24 when she had her first baby. I understand not all journeys are the same, and we all must figure out our own path. I think she is still figuring out hers. I think we never stop. I have seen her grow and cry and experience life’s pain. Her pain has always been mine, and her tears have been mine as well. I think all children feel a sense of ownership and responsibility with their parents. Sometimes I think, do I want to put that on my children? But I know, that is thinking too far too much, and its unavoidable.  I have to remember that that is life anyway, a succession of pain and suffering, it never stops, I don’t think it was ever intended to. Life and pain are synonymous. You cannot have one without the other. The way we are brought into this world, the pain the mothers feel, the screaming, the blood, the tears, is a fitting way to start off. Its a portrait of what’s to come, but amid it we witness a power that is fragile, delicate but strong enough to withstand the pain.

Despite the back and forth, when I daydream of the future I always see myself with a baby at the end of this. My mother told me being a mother was like some kind of magic, almost impossible to explain how it makes you feel, but that it shows greater meaning to everything. Perhaps the only way to deepen our love and understanding of life is to go through it and open new layers, like getting married, and having kids, otherwise aren’t we at a comfortable stand still?

Getting to read and watch motherhood from different lenses has been just that, a deepening way of living life. Watching one of my oldest friends get pregnant and see her belly grow, harden, and the baby kick is beautiful. I can not yet imagine what new meaning it will bring to life. I am humbled and thankful I got to have this experience of photographing a dear friend of mine in such a tender and transformative time in her life. E has always assumed a motherly role towards me, always protecting me and making sure everything is okay. You are going to be a great mom, E. Thank you for going with my vision. These are only the black and white on film, color chemicals are on the way so I can develop the color film and I am still working on the digitals but for now maybe you can get a sense of the beauty and magic in witnessing a woman’s body create life before our eyes.

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in daylights, in sunsets..

Today i had a spurt of creativity, and I am thankful for that. It could be because I was supposed to be studying or maybe it was the way the sunlight was dancing in my room, inviting me to play, or maybe is just time to create again. I won’t ever know how inspiration works, but as Picasso said, “inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” I filmed bits for a video I will work on putting together tomorrow. I love making short films. I love expressing myself any which way. All the ways. I ran to change into this outfit, I am always looking for something someone would wear maybe 10 years back or so or 20, 30, who knows. I was scrambling to get ready, not really thinking, just trying to be as fast as possible because I have learned the hard way that light is moves faster than you could dream and if you blink, you might miss it entirely. Light is a tricky thing to capture, it will dance in front of you, change positions, change colors, and disappear completely in seconds. I have trained myself to be hyper aware of light. I am always looking for it, looking at it, somehow it always leads me, i don’t look for the direction North, I look for the light.

I managed to catch it this time. It was waiting for me this time, i think. Allowing it to linger on my walls, fingers, windows, face.

I realize I am forever playing dress up. Not much has changed since I was little at all, it seems. Growing up I was obsessed with playing “pretend”. I would put on all sorts of different outfits and make up plays and such. Even when I “grew out” of playing those sort of games, i still remember myself dressing up for different events in such an overdone way. And I think I am still the same. Fashion and style for me, is having fun, its expressing myself. Some days I may look like a safari ranger, or a 50s woman living in paris, or maybe an 80s woman living in London, or an 80 yr old grandpa, or some days I might look like I go to a private school, and then of course there are days that I wear more “normal” clothes like high waisted jeans and a sweater or what have you. And i think in Houston, i try to tone it down a bit because people really do just stare here.

Looking back on today and I must have looked like a crazy person throwing my clothes everywhere, running around the house, jumping on things and standing on things to get different angles, opening the door to FedEx mid-shoot with a deranged smile on my face, he chuckled at my behavior, I wonder what he thought I was possibly doing.

And then I look at Hayden, we both have had spurts of creativity today, and he too looks like a crazy person jumping from instrument to instrument with his earplugs and his headphones, turning the different knobs on his equipment, pencil in hand making notes, transcribing, always recording, speaking out loud to himself what he is doing and what he is playing and what works and what doesn’t. He too has a deranged smile on his face.

I think, people must really think we are crazy, ludicrous, that we do all of this for free, for ourselves. I mean people must really not know why we would go through so much “work” just to do it for free, or for ourselves, or for maybe only even 3 people seeing or hearing it. And sometimes I too think we are a little bit crazy, but to be honest, I love it. I would do it every single day for the rest of my life, and I intend to, but I would keep doing it for free, for myself, for 3 people if thats all it ever gets to be. There is too much thrill, and bursts of energy and ideas, too much satisfaction in chasing the sun, or the sound in your head, or the story you are brewing. Even if it all flops on my feet. It was worth it all.

I have had people ask me and sort of look at me sideways, when they ask what do i “really” do. Ah, you mean for money, I always say. To which they almost let out a, well duh. But the money bit, what we do for money, doesn’t interest me. Not really anyway. Or they will try to tell me i am just “playing”, always “playing”, never really doing anything according to their interpretation. And yes, I am playing. Creating is hard hard work, but it is still joyful playful work for me.  Isn’t that the goal? I’ve worked probably every job you can imagine, it doesn’t matter. It won’t matter until this is my job, chasing sunsets. And it might never be but I am glad, and I am thankful I get to chase sunsets at all.

I leave you with some lyrics to a song I was listening to all day today, and that i have been actually off  and on all year because I love the movie so much. And if that makes me “corny” or “cheesy” so be it!! Life is too short to care, to be “cool”. Live! and Feel! there is only beauty in that.

“How do you measure a year in the life?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife…..”

10 points to Gryffindor if you can guess the movie

 

Shot with NOMO INS W.

 

 

 

I have so much more to say, there is always so much more to say. But for tonight this is enough.

Note to Self

Hugh Prather wrote in a poem,

“There is a part of me that wants to
write, a part that wants to theorize, a
part that wants to sculpt, a part that
wants to teach… To force myself into
a single role, to decide to be just one
thing in life, would kill off large parts of
me. Rather, I recognize that I live now
and only now, and I will do what I want
to do this moment and not what I
decided was best for me yesterday.”

It’s been so long since I’ve opened up Photoshop. I used to play around with photos on Photoshop everyday, it was my way of expressing myself. Painting with my camera, I would say. But really I was painting with Photoshop. The camera and the photo I took was always just the canvas. I started photography with self portraits. I loved being able to express myself in front and behind the camera. Then I got into fashion photography and grew impatient on relying on models, and hair and makeup that I would use myself. I never really wanted to do fashion photography, even though I did do it for so long. It wasn’t for me about fashion, or the models or the agencies, or even the magazines. It was always me wanting to express myself somehow, and models were just one of the tools in my paint box to play with.

But, I have wanted to write my entire life. I have written my entire life, but it was always the most secretive part about me – perhaps the most important part about me. I hid it to protect myself, I suppose.

I also did ballet and pointe my entire life. I actually stopped dancing maybe 5 years ago. I wanted to major in it at some point, always switching between that and psychology and English. I was apart of so many dance productions, shows, teams. I wanted to start a dance company, wanted to choreograph and create beautiful moving pieces of art. I grew up in theatre. (I also thought I wanted to be an actress) But I see now that I could never, never really did want to, I was always terrified of doing improv. But I loved preforming, and reading plays, and the rest that went with it. I was in theatre in school and outside of school too, auditioning for roles in bigger productions.

I have visual ideas and dabble in videography. Sometimes I think I see in images, moving images. There is always a story in my head, in my eyes. There is always a push for me to get it out and I have a desire to let it out in all mediums.

Why do I feel like I cant?

I don’t know when it started or if it was always like this, but I have always had a problem being able to express all my art forms without guilt. Like I should be only focusing on one craft because I should “master” one and not be a “jack of all trades”, right? At least that’s what I’ve been told, what I’ve read and seen. But anytime I turn one off it feels like a part of me dies. I cant quite function, or stay on balance, when one part is shut off to “focus” on the other.

I turned off photography, to focus on writing. I turned off dance to focus on photography. I turned off videos to focus on writing. And then I get the craving and the taste to do all of them again, so I find myself in a circle always chasing one thing and the next.

But they keep popping up in my life no matter how hard I try to push them down to “focus” on one thing. Photography, short films, writing, dance, they all keep coming to the surface begging me to pay attention to them. I crave them like some crave sweets. There is too much in my head, too much feelings and thoughts to only be able to release them in one avenue. Each art form can express one thing differently. Like looking at it from every angle, whatever that one thing is that I happen to want to create at any give time. Its so freeing to be able to express myself in different ways, shapes, and forms. Its like speaking different languages. Sometimes one is not enough to really convey what I am feeling.

I suppose Instagram is a partial reason why this seems difficult. Instagram is where I choose to share my work, for better or worse, and Instagram is also one of the most structurally restrictive places for my art. Or for me. They say you cant have a consistent audience if you are “all over the place” with your page. Meaning, having more than one interest. Which maybe that is true, but its also just now how I think or work. There is no part of me that is 100% beautifully curated and only interested in one thing. I am interested in so many things, maybe too many things, but I want them all. I want to be able to do them all.

Ironically though, there is so much more freedom with Instagram for artists, in that you don’t have to go through art dealers, or a middle man, you can sell your own work and control your own future. But then at the same time, there are still boxes they want to put you in. There’s always something to navigate isn’t there?

For now I will keep reminding myself to live by Hugh’s words, and “do what i want to do this moment and not what i decided was best for me yesterday.”

Here is a self portrait i shot and edited today.

britest10

britest9

 

britest8

A “messy” review for “messy” books

45434316_256228291728877_5019285016182521856_nThey are not similar necessarily. One is a memoir the other is a novel from life, so one can say it is semi autobiographical? Nonfiction mixed with fiction? Anyways. The protagonist in both are female but from different age groups. The first is in her 30s and the latter in her 20s. They both received very mixed reviews and with both I found myself unable to stop reading the bad reviews because they perplexed me so much. I couldn’t see what those people said they saw in either books. Both had a complaint of being messy and of their revelations not being big enough. Both of these books came to me at the right time, as life has it sometimes, and both sent me spiraling into my work. A big way I decide what book I think is deserving of 5 stars are the ones that leave me filled with inspiration and make me dive into my own work at full speed. Or if I find myself still thinking about bits of the book weeks, months, years, after I’ve finished it.

The Rules Do Not Apply is about a woman who loses her baby in a miscarriage. Its about redefining what marriage, being a woman, a writer means to her. How she doesn’t have to follow any rules in life, despite popular belief. Doesn’t have to do the find a husband, settle down, have kids, give up job bullshit that is forced down our throats. She realizes the future is something she can make look however she wants, so she does it on her own timeline and comes into a series of misfortunes. Its about life and the choices we make.

If it was messy it was because what was happening in her life was messy. Grossly messy, painfully messy. And what’s wrong with messy anyway? Isn’t that a more direct reflection of our lives anyway? With the popularity of this book due to it being featured on an celebrity’s book club I understand how hype was created. And naturally with hype brings people who are quick to try to tear down the hype. Who judge it now by new standards. Competing. Judging harshly and meticulously what you wouldn’t normally do. Forgetting this is one persons story, account, of what happened to her life. I saw the reviews in the middle of the book and got angry, I quickly closed out and didn’t want to read any of it didn’t want it to sway my reading in any way because I was so thoroughly enjoying it I couldn’t put it down, I kept thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and it was the only thing inspiring me to write.

Truthfully, I too didn’t want to read it or like it. I saw the cover and heard someone say something about it and thought it would be soft, or too surface level, too girly, or too trendy. I thought it wouldn’t challenge me enough. I was snobby in my reasoning. It’s popularity made me also question its ability to be a strong piece of work. I saw it at half price books a few times and let it go without buying it. I would pick it up each time and look through it, and I would always put it back thinking it was probably a dumb girls self help book. Finally I got it the other day. There was a sale or maybe it was because I had seen it too many times to just not go ahead and get it. And I’m glad I did. I devoured it in 2 days – less than 24hrs actually. I was glued to the pages. She made me think more than I thought I would, she made me look at my life and those around me. She made me look at her life and the things that happened and made me realize that I too was like her. We are less in control of our lives than we realize, than we hope for or plan for. It’s not that it was so much challenging, academically or socially or culturally or psychologically. I don’t even know if I would say it was “challenging”. But it was challenging because it got me to think about my own life. To really dissect it into pieces and look at the messy truth of it, not the perfect façade of it that we display on instagram or wherever. Not the edited version but the true version. It challenged me in that it got me to look at the dark corners of my life that I had been neglecting to clean, hoping they would clean themselves, but finding they didn’t and in fact were covered in layers of dust and dirt clogging me altogether. It was beautiful and true, for her. Her writing was wonderful and stirred something in me, leaving me thinking in the moments in between my reading and making me stop to write for hours because I just couldn’t stop, I had to.

Reading the reviews people were saying “I get that life was messy but I didn’t want to read it” I guess some people turn to books to find something tidy and put together because they aren’t or their life isn’t, or life isn’t period. But Ariel said in her book that she was a journalist first and the only way she knew how to write was to write what she saw, what was in front of her, what happened. I respect that and I love that. I want nothing but the spitting, messy image of what her reality was like. Because then I am closer to being in her shoes, feeling what she felt, than if it were perfectly and neatly tucked all into place. They said she was too whiny and too self absorbed and selfish. “Why didn’t she do this if only she did that.” And to those I have nothing to say. It’s an account of her perspective on things as they are happening. How can someone say they would have been perfectly perfect in that situation? No one is and no one will be. things happen in the moment, things you say or think and do and sometimes it takes longer than others to realize it. I still think this was an honest account from Ariel. I think she knew how she was depicting herself. I think that was the point. I think the point was why does she have to feel and see and think and do as everyone else? Why turn it into something larger than her life? Was that not enough?

To those who have never gone through any of what she has I wonder if it is easier to judge on the other side of things? And to those that have with the same response, there is no pleasing. There is nothing I despise more than people who idealize perfect. Who look down on things they think are not. It’s subjective and it’s false and it’s untrue. It’s a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.

I also wonder if it had gotten less hype would the criticism have been so great?

How Should A Person Be? is about a young woman who is trying to find out how one should be…. An artist, or a woman, or a friend, or someone successful, or a human being in general. Its about her friendship with Margaux and the fears of putting out bad or ugly work, those words being metaphors. Its about what she thought adulthood would be like, or life, thought that there would only be brilliant beautiful life in all things and that if there isn’t it’s because it isn’t meant to be, only to realize by the therapist who plants the seed that life is in suffering too, and the bad and ugly things. Life is in and around everything, and we cannot avoid suffering. It can teach us things, and sometimes even give us wisdom far more important than only happiness and sunshine can bring. These books were monumental to me. They both represented me, my own thoughts and feelings and emotions. They represented my fears too. They were the link that I needed to figure out certain mysteries about myself.

Similar things were said about How Should A Person Be? They called it vapid, and said they were shocked she found these “revelations” big enough to put them in a book. I read some of these while I was reading the book and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I continued to read with a lookout for things vapid and for revelations that were not big enough, but I couldn’t find them. What I saw instead was a pretty relatable account of a 20something year old who is trying to figure out how to be an artist, a woman, a friend, a successful person, a human being. All questions I have, and that I know many people have. I believe she used a lot of metaphors. She used the word ugly a lot but I did not take it as vapid, like one reviewer said, claiming that “I feel it may reveal… too much about how shallow, self-obsessed, pathetic, and insecure most women are. Especially pretty ones.” She went on to say it was easy to swallow without filling her up.

It was easy to swallow, but why should that make it mean any less? How should that fill you up any less? I suppose for me, it hit me more directly. I resonated with the main character. I found myself in those same positions before, maybe in my more early 20s but I could still respect it. I resonated with trying to make perfect things, or things worthy of and being too afraid to fail at it to even finish the project or give it a proper go. I resonated with the painters in the book, specifically Margaux who taught us the lines are almost nonexistent and blurred in what is ugly and what is beautiful in art, and perhaps in life too. It was rich and funny and made me want to work right away.

They both had similar complaints, too vain, too self obsessed, too this too that. And most by women. They said things about the style of writing how it was not enough for them because it was a new style of writing. Because neither of these writers followed the rules they were so used to seeing. I love rule breakers. I think everyone should strive to be more like them. They express to me, true freedom and courage. They have the strength to break from the status quo, and show us something different, show us what can be done when we don’t follow the rules. They show us rules are meant to be broken, challenged. Why should we follow one mans rules anyway for how a book should be written? How can there be rules on how to express oneself? How to tell ones story?

on what follows me

I wrote this essay a few months ago i think, for a lit mag to try to get it published. It was supposed to be sort of halloween related. A themed essay on what haunts you. So this is what i interpreted that as. Although i finished the day it was due and literally clicked “submit” a second too long because as soon as i did it said submissions were closed !!!! I was so bummed. I tried to find another home for it but i didnt know who else to submit this too – even tho its not super tied into halloween, i dont know, i didnt know where else to place it or how i should restructure it to not reflect the theme. So i left it on the back burner. The topic of fear the past 2 days has come up a lot in my house so i thought i would share the essay here:

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“Maybe the trouble is that the shape of life is elastic, that it can feel and be full at variable levels of fullness. Or maybe we’re poor judges of our own lives’ fullness. Or maybe the concepts of emptiness and fullness are poor metaphors for happiness, if in fact happiness is what we’re talking about.” (Sarah Manguso)

 

 

I don’t know what follows me more, my fears of what I think are lost opportunities, or my fears of failure, or maybe it is the fear that choices I have made are permanent and will come to play into my life forever. Perhaps it is the simple fear of letting go at all. Fear is a crutch that I lean on to not feel pain, or heartbreak. Fear is also what keeps me from happiness, or what I hope the lack of fear could bring.

 

Fear is something that has grown inside of me. There were no fears leaving home at 20 to a city 2,000 miles away. I thought I had escaped my terrors. But as the years went on fear started to stack itself inside of me, showing me that fear is not located in a city but rather something that follows me around regardless of where I go. Moving back to my home city of Houston after 3 years was terrifying. Now, my fiancé and I are thinking of moving away again. I dislike this place so much I didn’t think I would find home in bits of it like when I sit outside in our backyard watching our dog roam around, looking up to see the neighbors bamboo trees that I love, catching the sunlight peak through them, watching the wind make them dance. I didn’t realize I had grown so comfortable watching this all. But I know comfort is a thing of time. After a few months of anything you can find comfort in it, in its familiarity. Thinking of leaving this city, or any home old or new brings fear and so does wondering if happiness is really on the other side or if it was where you left it.

 

While I can say that being stuck in Houston forever terrifies me, and not ever being able to live in my dream city, New York City terrifies me, it’s a cop out for my real fears. It is only the surface of them. What really scares me is never being able to lose control, to let myself lose control of my emotions, to let myself cry, and feel sadness, and anxiety instead of finding a way to suppress them altogether. Instead of convincing myself not to feel anything at all to protect myself. To let myself feel the pain of rejection, to let myself at least try.

 

I read somewhere that if you find that you are holding your tongue to the roof of your mouth, clenching your jaw, and holding your shoulders to your neck it is because of stress, or tension. You are holding stress in your body, in your bones, in your teeth, in your tongue that forces it to the roof of your mouth so that you don’t crumble. I was holding myself so tightly all the time because I was afraid if I didn’t I would crumble to a million pieces. Perhaps it isn’t so much that fear haunts me but that I hold onto fear. I press my tongue to the rough of my mouth and clench my jaw at all hours of the day, that is what holding onto fear looks like.

 

A friend was telling me how there are days where she is unable to control her emotions. She said there are days where all she can literally do is scream and cry and let the emotions run out of her like water. The context was how her boyfriend can help her in those moments, how she feels during those periods, how to cope with the unstoppable amount of feelings coming out of her mouth and eyes and heart. I envied her a little bit in that second. All I could think about was how freeing it must feel to be able to let go, and allow all the emotions that need to come out to leave. I envy her ability to let go of the control over her emotions. All I could think in that instant was how much I control my inner self on a daily basis. How tight I keep the leash on my emotions, sure to never let one slip from me. Is fear the leash? Or is fear my hand gripping the leash as tight as I can?

 

I never wanted to feel pain and loss and heartbreak. I have never known what the end of something looks like because I have always stopped before I could ever reach it. I have never wanted the things I love to betray me, so I have betrayed them first instead. I have abandoned so many dreams and goals I said I was going to do, or wanted to do, because I could not handle if they didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned them for myself. Or if not, I try only once at something and if it doesn’t work out the first try I immediately opt out. The pain of rejection one time is too much for me to bear.

 

When asking my fiancé why he thinks I can never finish anything, he tells me I don’t like pain. He said that while sure, I enjoy challenges, the minute I think it will be painful I stop. Challenges and pain are not the same, I remind myself. When something is painful for me, he says, I forgo it. I detest it, and give up. He mentioned that was why I claimed I wasn’t competitive. “Because you automatically think you are going to lose, so you don’t even want to try to fight.” Fear of failure.

 

What patronizes me is fear that I will never live up to myself, to my own dreams and expectations. My real fear is that I will let fear consume me. That I will let fear win, and will never do the things I aspire to. But fear is not so simple to look at. It comes in the form of control, stress, anxiety, and guilt. They all follow me and it is hard to determine which one is which sometimes. They float in my head like a ghost, waiting for their turn to haunt me.

 

 

 

 

houston again

I want to remember how i see Houston forever, although i doubt i will ever forget my hometown. I love Houston and i also hate Houston, maybe equally, maybe the scale tips both ways depending on where I am. But mostly, i have an unhealthy relationship with Houston. Don’t we all with our hometowns or is it just me? While although Houston is massive, fourth largest city i think it is now, with over 2 million people living here, its so wide, so spaced out i think you would hardly even notice. Hayden and I have been going out during sunset the past few weeks (at the end of summer) and purposefully walked around areas to photograph. The Menil, the MFA area, near HSPVA, the new Glassell school of art. This has helped, but it also reminds me how foreign walking pedestrians are to everyone here. I cant fully articulate my thoughts on Houston (without sounding angry) just yet, but there is a lot wrong with it and Texas in general. I have never felt like i really belonged here anyway, not since… ever, truthfully. For as long as i can remember i always longed to be somewhere else, maybe i knew there was more to life than this (and there is.) Living in the east coast was a double edged sword. Double because i loved it, but it made coming back here harder, made me dislike Houston more. But when i leave Houston i find i am always sticking up for it, trying to show others the good in it. How can location change everything? Of course it can… depending on what’s around it, what minerals, oil, or natural resources are around it, what jobs will attract based on its economy, but still. How can location change every feeling in your bone? I suppose its all perspective and what you want out of life, how you want to experience it. When i close my eyes and think of Houston i see cars, the freeway, the metro, and apartment buildings and office buildings that are brown and green, like mold, and then the green of the grass and trees. I see nothing. Gas Stations. more cars. Houses. Telephone polls. Food. I see nothing.

A vignette of a memory:

Gold. Brown. Yellow. But a deep mustardy gold yellow. I see the Galleria. I see my mom dressed to the nines. She always had a great sense of style. I see her curly short black hair that she no longer has. I see my dad, thin and young. I see me in the car with my brother and maybe my sister is a baby. I see my parents get out of the car, to go meet some people, or to go into an office building to pick up something. But its brown, its always brown. Everything in Houston is brown. I can no longer remember what they were saying outside of the car, or if they were at all. In my mind their voices are mumbled, not quite passing through the closed car doors. Maybe its fall or winter. But its Westheimer road. Its the galleria. Of course i don’t know if any of this is true. just a memory in shards. I don’t know if its a photograph i saw, or a collection of broken memories. Or a general memory.  But when i think of Houston, the inner loop, thats one of my earliest memories. I don’t know what it means, or if it means anything at all, but it pops in my head sometimes. Like a riddle i’m meant to figure out.

We started this project because i read in an interview of a film photographer who’s work i enjoy, walks at sunset for hours in whatever city he is in to get his photos. Taking 4-5 rolls at a time. I wanted to try it. I could only ever finish one roll and its usually only an hour for us. Houston is large, but the inner loop is not. The inner loop is the city, it is the area you would want to be in if you are anyone who enjoys city life, and definitely if you are visiting from a denser city, the inner loop would be the most comparable. But still. I find it doesn’t measure up to anything. They say happiness is having no expectations, that way you have no way of feeling disappointed. Maybe thats true. Maybe thats why i constantly feel low here, because i constantly feel disappointed. I want it to be New York, but its not. I want it to be LA, Chicago, Oregon, Boston, somewhere where the city makes sense. Maybe my expectations are too high. Houston never wanted to be any of those places, did it? Houston is oil and trucks and people who love food (we do have great food though). Houston is square feet. More for your money. Maybe. Although some of these apartment complexes are charging like its new York. Houston is isolated, separated, everyone in their cars all the time, not having to really socialize. Land of the drive thru’s. They say the south is friendly, with open arms, and maybe thats true sometimes, but generally i find that what others think is friendly is merely being polite. Fake polite. No one actually cares about you, maybe your aunt in conroe or something, but conroe isn’t Houston, isn’t the inner loop. You see why talking about Houston is so confusing? its hard to “get” unless you live here. There is no real sense of community, just hi how are you. No real sense of support. Its a talk shit city, which i love and then hate when the city wants to talk shit to me. I have found it is hard to find other people interested in what i am interested in. People here are more closed minded than they would like to think, less open to change than they realize. There is beauty too though, in Houston, about Houston, i just think i’m too close to see it.

This is me looking back and remembering only the good in Boston. This is me comparing with its good, Houstons bad. When time has passed and when i am looking back on Houston, will i still say the same things? still feel the same way?

Here i am rambling again, ruminating again. All the crud that wont make it into essays. or maybe bits will who knows. I will write more on the education system here and the other bits of it that have shaped my overall view on this subject but for now i guess i am back, blogging.

These are not nearly all the film photos from the project but here is some to start – will start sharing them slowly.

 

hamilton1

Hayden and I spent our four year anniversary together the way we know best; roadtrippin. We went to Marfa, Texas for a night, did a photoshoot and then went to Big Bend the next day, did another photoshoot, then traveled to Midland, Texas to spend some time with Haydens sister, Hannah. It was a wonderful […]