Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Gold Suit

Something I wrote for a class experiment:

In the back of my closet hides a gold suit; not a two piece-suit, but a full-body suit. It covers every part of my body except my face, and only because I cut a hole there so I could breathe. Its gold-ness shines brilliantly in the sun and it has enough coverage to keep me warm in the evenings. It’s a full-body, one-piece, gold lamé suit. 

I bought the suit last year for a Halloween costume: I was the golden snitch from Harry Potter. When I thought of the suit sitting in the back of my closet, I knew it was exactly the thing to help me be “deviant” for a night. I slipped on that suit for an evening dinner with my dad and family friends. But before I left I took a self-portrait.

I am a self-portrait photographer, so naturally I take pictures of myself all the time, which is in and of itself a minor deviant act. I would call it a folkway. Sometimes I take photos of myself in public, perhaps intertwined in a shrub or poking my hands through the bars of a fence. The people who see me doing this, I assume, think I’m odd. I assume this mostly because I feel horribly uncomfortable whenever I take self-portraits in public. For art’s sake!

With my gold suit on, I decided to take a self-portrait on the thick railing of my deck. I set up my camera and began taking pictures of myself in various poses. I noticed a neighbor in a building across the way hanging out his window. He was wearing one of those Bernie Sanders many faces shirts and gawking at me. I focused harder on what I was doing. Eventually he yelled, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” (“Taking pictures!”) and “WHAT ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES OF?” (“Myself! Obviously!”). Three minutes later he yelled, “BE CAREFUL!” and I figured I should go back inside. 

I didn’t wear unusual makeup or shoes to dinner because I didn’t want people to assume I was a performer who had just finished a show. First I walked from my apartment on 22nd and Burnside to my dad’s on 15th and Taylor to pick him up. I wondered if by walking by the conservative Multnomah Athletic Club I would get any looks, but I didn’t notice any. Weird. One old man asked me what my outfit was about and if I was going anywhere, to which I ignored my impulse to explain and instead responded, “it’s just me, man!” He told me he liked it. I wondered if I should be concerned. Another thirty-something guy told me he liked my outfit. So far I was getting good feedback. 

As my dad and I walked to the restaurant, people would glance at me nervously, but never stare. What’s wrong with you Portland?! It felt like no one wanted to be impolite, so they would almost avoid looking at me. Was I experiencing disintegrative shaming? Were people silently rejecting me because they thought I was “just another weirdo” walking around Portland?
When we arrived at the restaurant, our friends weren’t there yet, so my dad and I had to sit in the waiting area for fifteen minutes. Barely anyone even gave me a side-eye. Our host acted like she didn’t even noticed what I was wearing. My expectations were being completely blown out of the water. I expected people to label me as a deviant, and maybe they were, but if so it wasn’t very obvious. 

When our friends got there and we sat down, I assumed the waiter would ask me about or comment on my outfit, but he didn’t. In fact, he was one of the nicest waiters I’ve ever had! What was going on? I had made up a whole story in my head about what was going to happen in the restaurant, and pretty much the complete opposite happened. The waiter never did mention my suit and didn’t once look at me with judgment. (Really…) Maybe I should write a gleaming Yelp review. 

My friends told me that when I turned to leave the restaurant, some of the customers let their mouths hang open in shock. There it was: that unknown, of wondering what people would think is what caused me to be nervous about wearing the gold suit to dinner. I labeled myself as a deviant before I even let the community label me. I thought I was a deviant and therefore I was. I knew that if I had witnessed someone wearing a gold suit in a restaurant, I would have some questions.

My dad told me a story. He told me that when he was younger his girlfriend at the time asked him to wear a costume for her company’s Halloween party. My dad chose a wizard’s costume and his girlfriend also dressed up. Before the party, they went to grab coffee at the local coffee house. A wizard’s costume is not over-the-top abnormal like my snitch Halloween costume was. You could mistake a Halloween wizard for a real-life goth or punk. The barista asked my dad what on earth he was wearing and sighed loudly before she exclaimed, “she [my dad’s girlfriend] must be so embarrassed to be with him!” 

It is incredible the control we have over each other. We are social creatures, after all. Taking part in deviant acts leads to being rejected, leads to negative outcomes, such as poverty, drug use, and retreatism. When I wear a gold suit to a restaurant, I am embarrassed but I know I’ll be okay. My support network is vast, and though I might remember the experience as an awkward one, I’ll be able to laugh it off later. For someone who is not as lucky as I am, wearing the gold suit is an everyday experience. No one wants to look at them in the first place, and if they do it’s with disgust. People like that are more likely to see the inside of a cell, to be ostracized by the rich and white, to not have anyone help pull them out of that hole. Patricia and Peter Alder point out how some sociologists theorize that if we didn’t label people as deviants, we would have no moral compass. What is right and what is wrong? Part of me agrees with this. It’s probably necessary to have some definition of right and wrong. But people should be able to take their gold suit off, so to speak. All people deserve that relief. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


The other night my best friend, Aliera, came over (she had just gotten home from Kalamazoo, where she goes to college).
We have known each other and been best friends since seventh grade, when we met at the school we both went to, Northwest Academy. When we first met, I thought she was weird. She looked pretty much exactly the same as she does now (with a slightly more baby face), but she always wore this tasseled, Mickey Mouse hat that I thought was bizarre. Her first memory of me is also of a hat I wore, that was pink and from Hawaii. I don't remember exactly how we clicked, but I do know that we were both mini-adults, and though Aliera had an adopted sister, she understood my only child-ness because she had been an only child until she was eight. Quickly, we became inseparable.
Aliera and I were born exactly a month apart, her on July 8th, me on August 8th, 1994. We both knew what it felt like to be the youngest people in the class. Both of us were considered over-achievers and sometimes "goody two shoes," though neither of us are goody two shoes at all. I don't think people ever realized how un-nice we sometimes were when everyone else was out of earshot! 
Aliera is one of the most sentimental people I know. She gives wonderful gifts and writes even more wonderful Christmas and birthday cards. We don't talk that much throughout the year, and she is really bad at answering my texts. However, every once in awhile, she sends me this really sweet text, telling me that she misses me and thinks of me always and says other things that almost always bring me to tears (she also manages to send these texts when I need them the most).
We're on the same wavelength. Telepathy. 
We call each other "bub," and we can sit in silence with each other for a really long time without getting uncomfortable. We complete each other's thoughts and each other's sentences, and we automatically know what's up just by exchanging a meaningful glance in each other's direction.
Aliera has been there for me during times where I was completely happy and completely sad; she challenges my perspectives on the world; she is left handed and one of the funnniest people I know, and she can wiggle her eyes in this really bizarre way and she can make a rooster-like noise (but not on command, it has to be spontaneous); she is lovely, compassionate, thoughtful, sentimental, emotional, sweet, private, quiet at times, loony during other times, generous, supportive, funny funny funny, a good secret keeper, and all around one of my favorite people in the world. Her name is Aliera Dulcinea Morasch, but I call her bub. 
Happy Father's Day, everybody! I also want to say that I love my dad and stepdad very much and they have been such fantastic role models in my life. <3

This will be the last blog I write for two months. I will be a summer camp counselor at Devils Lake. I'll post again in mid-August. Have a great summer, ya'll! 

I am not posting an "Extra Reading" tonight because I want to leave you with these photos about friendship and love. I hope you all had a fabulous Father's Day! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shopping and Working and Shopping

Today was one of those days where a friend asked if I would go shopping with her because she needed new work clothes, and even though I only really needed a swimsuit, I ended up buying more than she did. Isn't that always how it goes? There were things on sale that were also perfect, like the buttery red leather jacket I bought at EXIT, the inexpensive maxi dresses I bought from Target, and the type of summery wedges I had lusted after forever that I bought from PlaTform. That's why I work my ass off, so that I can look cute and have fun and be young, oh yes!
Extra Reading:
Ron Cowie: I am feeling nostalgic for alternative processes, and Cowie's work is just making me feel more nostalgic. So much nature, so much quiet beauty, so much black and white. Perfect. Please go look at his work. Also check out his blog here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Always Performing

I am fortunate enough to have many friends who are also musicians. The thing about musicians, or any other type of performers for that matter, is that they will play for you / dance for you / do headstands and handstands and backflips for you all day long. That is a unique quality about performing artists: they are able to connect with people immediately in a way that visual artists cannot. I can't necessarily please someone right away with my photography skills because it takes time to get a tangible product. However, I can entertain my friends in the moment, in their moment, by dancing for or with them.

Artists in general are fun to hangout with. They always inspire me.

Extra Reading:
Nikolaj Lund: This is an interesting article about photographer Nikolaj Lund, who makes images of classical musicians in incredible environments. Lund was a cellist for over 20 years, and only turned to photography professionally after suffering a severe neck injury. Therefore, his photographs of other musicians are especially meaningful and personal. What inspires me about Lund's work is his courage to be creative; as he notes, classical musicians are trained very formally, and most portraits you find of them are just as formal. Lund steps out of that mold and makes portraits of classical musicians that are appealing, fun, and creative.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Girl World

Last night I went to see some of my friends graduate high school. I had gone on a kayaking trip beforehand, and was completely exhausted, which meant that I ended up napping until it was almost too late to get myself to the graduation ceremony. However, I didn't want to disappoint my friends, so I quickly jumped in the shower and raced to my old school while my left boob got more and more soaked from my dripping hair. 

I didn't miss graduation. Luckily, because it was the most epic graduation I have ever seen. So epic, in fact, that I might never have to attend another graduation ceremony again.

I graduated Northwest Academy in 2012, my senior class being less than 20 kids. The 2014 graduating class is even smaller, made up of 15 very unique and talented individuals. Many of them are my friends from dance class or from hangouts with their older siblings. I was proud to see them graduate, feeling like a big sister to all of them. Never would I have guessed the kind of show I would see, however.

The ceremony started normally enough. Normally, at least, for a Northwest Academy graduation. Everyone filed in, some with their faces full of acne, some with dyed locks, one clad in a kilt, and another wearing a long, black veil over her cap, covering her face completely, though it was obvious who she was. 

The head of school, Mary Folberg, spoke a little about the class of 2014, and eventually invited another man up to speak, who would introduce the graduates. The man, Jordan Schnitzer (so you all don't forget who spoke), said how he had talked to the graduates a couple weeks before the ceremony in order to brainstorm some ideas for what to talk about in the commencement speech. Schnitzer said he asked the students how many of them had attended the class of 2013's graduating ceremony, and about half of them had gone. "Who was the commencement speaker?" he had asked. None of them remembered. "Ok. Well, do you remember what he talked about?" Schnitzer prodded. No, they did not. Of course they didn't. Schnitzer decided, because of this, that he would try to make his speech extra memorable. He did this by calling four students to the podium one at a time, asking them to tell the audience three things they liked about the school, as well as who their favorite teacher was. A couple of them were visibly shaken, and none of them had any idea they were going to have to make an impromptu speech in front of everyone. 

After the four students were satisfyingly tortured, awards were presented. Let me say that this year's ceremony should have been called "Class of 2014 Awards Ceremony," not "Class of 2014 Graduating Ceremony;" not only were the members of 2014's graduating class awarded three different national awards that my class probably weren't even aware of, but they were also the recipients of two different awards from Northwest Academy that hadn't existed when my class graduated. 2014's graduating class were also honored with all the awards my class had been, of course, which means that altogether, nine awards were presented when only four had existed previously. When my old instructors granted the awards, I couldn't help but feel like an imbecile next to these students who were writing 58 pages of eloquent thesis material, creating robotic fingers that could pluck the strings of musical instruments, brainstorming ways to predict airline ticket prices, and dancing, singing, acting, and improvising beautifully on various musical instruments. One minute, I felt like a pretty multi-talented, kick ass individual, and the next I felt like a lazy, parent-mooching, almost 20-year-old who would never build a robotic finger that can pluck the strings of musical instruments. 

After the awards were divvied out, I was exhausted. We were an hour into a 15-student graduation ceremony, and I was feeling more and more every minute like we needed a ceremonial intermission. But no. As they say in show business, the show must go on.

Next up were the salutatorian and valedictorian speeches. The salutatorian got up and gave a concise, charming, and well spoken speech about her classmates and her experiences at Northwest Academy. Then the first valedictorian, who had also received three of the nine awards, walked to the podium and gave a 20-minute long speech addressing everyone (in depth) in his class. He told them all what he'd miss about them, and how great they were, and then he addressed four others in the audience who he simply couldn't leave out. Though the whole speech was incredibly sentimental (especially for him, who usually pokes fun at and makes light of things and people), his speech ended on a slightly dark note. He made a metaphor for being young and having close friends from high school, something about being pulled along by a rope. "...and I hope we can keep pulling each other along until we finally just fade away." Fade away were his last words. If I have ever been witness to foreshadowing in life, this moment would be it. Fade away, fade away, fade away.

The second valedictorian gets up. He is one of the sweetest kids in that class, a National Merit Scholar, a musician, and an all around good human being. With a smile on his face, he made a joke about not being able to follow the previous speech, but that he'd do his best anyway. His speech started out excellently; he smiled, talked clearly, and made eye contact with everyone. Somewhere in the middle of his speech, however, he made a tiny mistake. I can't even remember what he did, maybe skipping over a word or a sentence. No big deal at all, and hardly noticeable. However, that one little mistake seemed to shut him down, and a minute later, his voice lowered, trembled, and he tried speaking the next sentence, again and again, never able to finish it. Over and over, he kept repeating the same three or four words, to the point where the first valedictorian offered him water and I got close to standing up and suggesting that maybe the speech should be over and he should just sit down and relax. 

Nevertheless, no one did a thing except stare at this poor kid as he struggled. It got so uncomfortable for me that I checked my phone for a distraction, and when I looked up, plunk. Down he went, his head and arms bouncing onto the podium before slowly sliding down the side of it. "Help him! Help him!" yelled one of my former teachers behind me. Several staff members raced up to the front of the room, gathering around the fallen valedictorian to help him in any way they could. And then, just as quickly as he had passed out, he shoots up, and in a peppy voice, says, "Sorry about that, everybody!" The audience erupted in cheers, quieting only to hear him speak again. At this point, I really think the speech should have been cut short. But no, not at my school, because as they say, the show must go on, and it must go on the right way.

As soon as he began speaking again, his voice returned to that strange, low speech, and he was not able to finish his sentence before plunck, falling in slow motion across the podium, once again sliding slowly but surely down the side of it. The staff members again rushed around him, eventually picking up his lifeless body and carrying him slowly and solemnly out of the room. "Well, that is a surely a graduation he will never forget!" exclaimed Mary Folberg, before calling up the other valedictorian to finish the speech that had been so horrifically interrupted. As the first valedictorian finished the second's speech (because the show must, of course, go on, and in the right way), sirens from an ambulance yelled loudly in the background. The audience only pretended not to notice. 

"He is in the ambulance, and everything is OK!" Mary said stoically after the last valedictorian's speech was finally finished by the other student.  

At this point, I thought everything that could possibly happen had happened, but that would be a boring ending, wouldn't it? As the graduating class accepted their diplomas, there were dramatic hugs given, loud applauding from the audience, and an unveiling from the girl who had come in a long, black, wedding-like veil. Then, one member of the class was called up:
"Spring thesis title, 'The Outside of a Horse is Good for the Inside of a Man,' and fall thesis title, 'Finding Our Way Back to Wayfinding!'" bellowed my former english and humanities teacher, Paul Martone. She walked up, hugged Paul with wet eyes, walked to Mary to take her diploma, and as she turned toward the stairs to return to her seat, fell and tumbled all the way down. 

"Ahhh!!" went the audience, simultaneously appalled and frightened for the girl. We were all emotionally taxed to say the least. And on that note, my dear friends, the ceremony was nearly over. 

Shaken up, the class of 2014 moved their tassels on their caps from right to left, and threw the caps up into the air. Applause, applause. The fallen valedictorian returned, curly hair disheveled, cap removed, and robe unzipped, and the graduation ended. Just remember that foreshadowing moment: fade away, fade away, fade away. 

Afterward, I called my best friend and boyfriend (separately) to blow off steam, and then drove home to meet two of my girlfriends for a girls' night. We talked shit, laughed, and interrupted each other, and then got a call from another friend about a party that was going on over at a previous classmate's uncle's house. An uncle who had married an Asian porn star, their photos scattered around the house, as well as many dildos and other strange instruments of sex and/or decoration. 

And so that's how the night went, filled with dramatic speeches, girl talk, cigarette breaks, and strange houses with bathrooms that had black toilets instead of white ones. The night was strange, beautiful, funny, sad, happy, uncomfortable, and calming all at the same time. 

It was definitely a night to remember, and a graduation to remember, for sure. 

Extra Reading:
Lauren Greenfield: Greenfield is an amazing photojournalist who has documented girl and youth culture, and is also an accomplished director whose most recent feature-length film is one I loved, called, "The Queen of Versailles." Her work is always dynamic, touching, and revealing. Please go check her out. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Watering Duties

Right now my parents are in Hawaii, which means I have the house to myself; which means, of course, that I have to take care of things around the house; which means that I have to water our plants, the beautiful flowers and yummy vegetables we have on our decks. 

This is pretty self-explanatory, but, being a photographer and all, I thought I'd explain a little further with a few photos: 

And this is the image that first inspired this blogpost:

Extra Reading:
Amy Aiello: Today I'm sharing a blogpost from photographer, Amy Aiello. I like this particular blogpost because the image that is presented is a whimsical self-portrait that utilizes motion, and those are my favorite types of self portraits. You can also look at her main website here

Thank you, everyone, for reading. Have a wonderful day.

Look Alikes

Yesterday was National Donut Day! To celebrate such occasion, my boyfriend, Ben, and I, stood in line at Voodoo Donuts and when it came our turn, bought a Portland cream (round, chocolate donut with a custard-filled center), a voodoo doll (a donut in the shape of a voodoo doll with jelly in the center), a donut with peanut butter and Oreos, another peanut butter and chocolate covered bear claw donut, and a butterfingering (round donut with Butterfinger bits all over it)! On our walk home, we held hands, and as we passed one group of people, a guy yelled, "So how far are you guys apart?"

"How far?" I asked, though I knew he was talking about age. I knew the joke he was about to make.

"Like your mom and dad, how far apart did they have you guys?" And we all burst out laughing.

That was the second time that day that Ben and I were told/mistaken for being related.

Our similarities. They're fun to make light of. And no, there's no relation (that I know of). ;) Besides, you know, being two KICK ASS individuals.

Extra Reading:
Tomasz Wieja: Wieja plays with texture by blurring and overlapping photographs. Many of his pieces feel dreamy, warped, and hypnotic because of the techniques he uses, which provides an interesting perspective that not many other photographers give. The colors Wieja uses are also vibrant, highlighting the dreamy, hypnotic qualities of the images even more.