Film

winter

This most recent obsession with film has increased in intensity.

A part of me is happy to see that film is making a comeback. Gigi Hadid, of all people, made a disposable camera Instagram. Film has become vogue, stylish, fun. The disposable, once looked upon as child’s plastic, is the hipster adult’s party item. It’s great and all, but–

It’s pricey. Very pricey. After scrounging around the web, I’ve come to the conclusion that Wal Mart, at this moment, is the only affordable film place. But it’s also slow, unreliable, and offers shoddy photo quality. I never asked for a CD or prints; I do ask for timeliness and film that isn’t lost. I’m typing right now and checking the last time I gave them my film. Two weeks ago. A week later, I checked on it: it still hadn’t left the counter.

Some people send out their film to The Darkroom in California. Some rave about the place. Others abhor their lack of customer service. I am deeply skeptical of mail. (This is what happens growing up during my generation. Wow, I sound oddly old. I meant that to emphasize the fact that I am not old enough) There are also other mail-order film labs where you can send in your rolls of film, and they develop and scan for you. Those are upwards of $12, usually hovering around a solid $15 per roll. I’m on a budget here. Look at me–I’m Mr. Meseeks!– a film-obsessed girl on a budget.

In college, I took a film photography class, where we went old school. There was a downstairs darkroom, countless chemical baths, light flashers, and light-sensitive paper. (Looking back, I’m still surprised that I shaved a semester off college, having taken the fun, personal classes that I did. I tanked some plant-salad-squirrel biology test, dropped the class on a whim, and picked up this photography class. I’m really glad that I did: in the end, I made a friend, took a better science, and learned film.)

I am seriously contemplating developing and scanning my own color film. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, according to the many Youtube videos I’ve scrubbed. But it is a high starting cost. I’ll need the chemicals, chemical bottles, a developing tank, a developer kit, a thermometer, and a scanner. I lied in bed last night doing the math. I groggily tried to set up an algebra equation–when would processing film be cheaper by hand than via lab? Ultimately, I deduced, if I ended up developing 25 rolls of film by hand, it’d be ‘cheaper’ per photo than if I simply paid a lab to process it for me.

Going through these calculations makes me feel like I’m working with one of my students. The fixed costs at $150. One roll of film, with 24 images, costs $40. Chemical costs (added to fixed) occur every 40 rolls at $30. How much does each photograph cost for the first 10 rolls, 20 rolls, 30 rolls and 40 rolls?

If you’ve read this far and the thought of basic algebra makes you mildly tingle, then feel free to check my math. It’s 7:30 AM on a Saturday morning–not my best math mode, but a math mode nonetheless. Here are my conclusions:

If I developed 10 rolls, each photo would cost $0.80.

If I developed 20 rolls, each photo would cost be $0.50.

If I developed 30 rolls, each photo would cost me $0.37.

If I developed 40 rolls, each photo would cost me $0.35.

Basically, as long as I got through 30 rolls in life, I’d be paying less per film photo by developing at home than I would if I sent each roll to a film lab.

I suppose that settles things. I just need to ensure that the hobby does not disappear overnight. I doubt it. Every year, I become obsessed with film. It’s like migration for birds: regular, anticipated, and predictably periodic. Now I just have to get my film lab set up. I’m going to wait on the Wal Mart film images first, if those ever get back to me, because I don’t even know how that roll of film will turn out. I used an old film point-and-shoot that hasn’t been touched in a decade. The quality should be fine, but we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll continue to flood Instagram with old film photos that I fall in love with again and again.

Why film? a little voice sometimes ask. Why not just digital? Because film is–and this seems shallow–beautiful and nostalgic. The color gradients, the shadows, the grainy imperfections, the delay of instant gratification–those are all part of the appeal. But mostly because film is beautiful. Digital tries to replicate; digital can’t.

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On Repeat

This catchy car jam, which I’ve been playing on repeat, reminds me of the R&B female vocalists I listened to as a kid. My music preference cycles. As a toddler, it was pop that I loved, songs by belly button-baring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

By age eight, it was Ciara and Usher and Missy Elliot that I danced to with friends. We gyrated across gym floors, much to the dismay of our teachers. “Those dance moves are too sexy,” my teacher said. “What does she know about sexy?” I muttered to my best friend.

At eleven, a love for pop morphed into indie, (The Hush Sound) alternative rock (MakeDamnSure) and rap. My friends wore skinny jeans when skinny jeans weren’t in and styled their hair like anime characters, spiky in the back, layered on top.

Age twelve was both sensitive and taut, a year that bled of R&B Ray J, Ne-Yo, J Holiday, Kanye. This was our song. Together, we cried under trees.

By fourteen, it was rap that imbued my days. I remember the look on my friends’ faces as I rapped obscure lines to Nicki and Trey Songz right before a test. We passed dull days in Spanish by singing J. Cole. In the mornings, I played Kid Cudi to wake myself up.

Sixteen and seventeen hopped onto the indie pop train of Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, Lana.

For a brief period in between eighteen, I listened to lots of G-Eazy. Then rap. The only thing that my crushes had in common were that they liked rap. Was I interested in them? Or was I interested in their taste in music?

Everything since then has bounced from one of the aforementioned genres to another.

New Blog Layout, Hurrah

Why am I looking up psychology studies at 12:30 AM?

It’s hard to believe that graduate school starts soon. I’m nervous and in slight disbelief.

But I have energy and resolve and whatnot. The only thing I’m wary about is…transportation.

My blog has undergone a makeover. It’s small and minimalist now. I’m not even sure if it’s intended for reading. The old layout was just dull and littered with ads. That was driving me nuts.

These image-ridden posts are getting tiring. I’m going to opt for more of these brief, blank text posts.

That’s it for now. My mind draws a blank.

Weekend Trip

This past weekend was a good one.

We roll in after five and a half hours on the road. For the first half, I immerse myself in the bloated dialogue of Altered Carbon, pausing every now and then to contemplate the soothing country road.

Do you want to make a stop? Why not? We take our bathroom break in the crowded & glorified stop. It glitters and shimmers with clamoring families and fake lashes and bustling bodies. The last time we came here, about two summers back, the bathrooms were cleaner.

A few hours in, we find ourselves trapped in miles of stagnant traffic. We drive onto the parallel local road, cruise up a few miles, then stopped again, snail-crawling our way around a closed highway. On a Friday night. Afterwards, it’s dark. I don’t pay attention to the tolls on tolls, just the small screen in front of me.

Eat, sleep, wake. There’s a stork by the lake, a spider on the window. We down some coffee, eat fried rice, drive over to GameStop, then the grocery store, and then back. Video games, dreariness, chattiness, and then the FunPlace, with the slightly overpriced roller skating arena. We glide on the cold cream concrete floor. Except for one. I am terrified watching him hobble his way dangerously on skates. He leans forward, like he’s about to topple over, and every push is a tense one. After two hours, we go home, sweaty and tired.

Another grocery run. Barbecue. DJing and grilling by the lake. Time passes. Around dinner, we pop in for food and the match. It’s a nervous match, and we’re on the edge of our seats the whole time. Good bye. Good night. You are the king, and I am the queen. I am the king.

Next day’s one spent with small people. Dolls. Fashion show. Hide and go seek. I, the dedicated hider, decide to hide for 36 minutes under a box in the garage. I send riddles with hints buried in them. We resort to more and more desperate measures. Fence hopping. Backyard sneaking. But still, the other games go by relatively quickly.

We call it a night, and half play games, while the other half plays music. Eventually, I conk out, tired, until early the next morning, when we leave.

Antiques & ESP

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Stumbled upon an antique shop today. The space was massive and littered with countless antiques. Innumerable. I can’t even begin to list them all–porcelain dolls, Victorian doll houses, juke boxes, 70’s film cameras…. This isn’t a paper, so I won’t go needlessly in depth, but god, I was taken aback. And mesmerized. And I don’t even think I even explored every room, because when I turned around, there was another space filled with unfamiliar objects.

It was by a slightly haunted-ish coffeeshop. Slightly, because there was one unhappy individual who didn’t want me by the connected church. For a long time, I wondered who had passed away there. Who was it? Since it’s in an older part of town, I wasn’t surprised, logically, but I was uncomfortable. I generally don’t blog about this, because it’s just one of those odd, personal things, but it’s subsided, the semi…6th sense thing. The reality is that this sort of thing isn’t scary at all, though it can be, depending on the individual…

For a certain chunk of time, I’d experience clairsentience. I would occasionally sense presences–more often, I’d sense energies. And we all carry our own energies, so there’s nothing strange about that. But there were times that these energies were, ah, how do I put this, very particular? in their negative emotions, and not visible. I would leave feeling spooked. Message received: I’ll leave.

Some people believe in this sort of stuff, and lots of people don’t. As with politics and religion, I don’t feel as though it’s my responsibility to convince them otherwise. But if you’ve ever crossed paths with a bad person–someone who did not have your interests at heart, who felt off or angry or manipulative–just imagine that person, but behind you. They don’t say a word, and you can’t hear or feel them, but just as you sense the person in front of you, you can sense them behind you. And it’s just…unnerving.

As aforementioned, this type of thing has subsided. For that, I’m grateful. One of my roommates’ mothers described being able to see these energies–now that I wouldn’t be able to stand. At the same time, there’s a difference between those who are earthbound, and those who have passed. The former are often disgruntled, angry, or confused; the latter are light, distant, and caring. So it depends on who’s communicating, and what the message is.

It’s been years since I’ve encountered these situations, but I’ll be honest: it still freaks me out, even to think about.

Tiny Catharsis

after I left, I realized that, well, in this life, we may make money, we may be successful, but who the hell cares if we’re not with the people we love? that’s what matters in this life—the people we love. we’ll die like everyone else, maybe leave behind a scrapbook or a few digital albums, maybe end up on Reddit’s oldschoolcool if we’re lucky, but that’s it: we’ll be dust. but if we’re by the people we love, it makes our time existing a lot more bearable.

7/7/19, 9:56 AM

writing in my journal feels like wringing out some soggy towel of thoughts and airing my brain out in the sun.

Tonight

This is us, scream shouting 2000s hip hop into the 55 mph summer wind. Kanye, POWER. Pop, lock, and drop it. Yeah! Usher. Lose Control. Snoop Dogg. Soulja Boy.

This is me, remembering some obscure Kanye and Missy Elliot lyrics, swooshing my belly around in the passenger seat.

This is you, bewildered but hitting all the notes, reaching the much needed baritone.

This is me, tipsy on life again (and again).

This is you, parking ever so slightly behind the other driver’s open window so they don’t see our flailing arms, our bellowing songs.

This is me, this evening’s hip hop DJ, tasting the first minute of every song until the hype has subsided.

This is us. And this is summer. (Finally.)