The streets were bright and packed, a hive of buzzed affluent energy. Sidewalks were filled with girls tottering around in heels and guys in button-downs. Like college, essentially, except older and larger and less fratty (but maybe not).
Went out last weekend for the first time in a while. Despite the wait and warmth and fuzzy bar-hopping, the vibes were good. We laughed and danced and sang at the top of our lungs, drinks in hand (when they weren’t up in the air). The DJ played Humble by Kendrick Lamar; Mr. Brightside by The Killers, a party favorite; obscure rap songs with beats I tried to find while swaying in the sea of dancing bodies.
Comin’ out of my cage, and I’ve been doin’ just fine
Gotta gotta be down because I want it all
– Mr. Brightside, The Killers
The party ended somewhat abruptly around 2. Birthday girl best friend had partied her way ad nauseam–literally. By then, we’d all found our groove and realized, perhaps simultaneously, that hey, this is fun, we should do this again and with each other. As Mars wrote in her caption:
Things got wild. Things got cute. Let’s do it again.
Cigarette smoke makes me think of China. I remember the way it’d fill up the room in my Uncle’s absence, then stay still, holding its breath for several hours. In the streets, in the markets, in the restaurants, there they’d be, the cigarettes clutched-clasped-dangling between people’s fingers.
Last summer we got caught by Mei Yu. The plum rain. The constant downpour of gloom that cooped us up at home. Monsoon season? I asked. No, responded Wiki: the East Asian Rainy Season.
So I cut my hair. I painted. After the rain, I ventured outside in some grey oversized sweater (so poorly underdressed in a city where women tottered around in heels over broken concrete and construction) to photograph people, strays and the occasional chicken.
There’s something called the uncanny valley, “the hypothesis that human replicas that appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion.” It’s the intersection between realness and artificiality that unnerves and disturbs. The Uncanny Valley’s always intrigued me–what’s it about creepy humanoid likeness that disgusts, fascinates, weirds us out?
35mm film. Processed and developed by hand.
The past few weeks have been a blur of Venezuelan, Thai and Japanese cuisine; mango peach boba smoothies; running errands. Drove around the city, past the haunted hotel and chic urban neighborhood, around uptown (funk you up) and back downtown. Sauntered through malls, munched on teriyaka, people-watched, raced through arcardes. Talked about heavy topics in a pseudo Target living room for two hours. I named my boyfriend’s GoPro Susan as we drove around and pretended to narrate to an imaginary Youtube audience.
Last night he drove back to drop off my sweater and I gave him a huge piece of watermelon in thanks. Then we sat outside as he munched on watermelon and talked about ridiculous things and how you can see the stars with night vision goggles–the Big Dipper and Little Dipper (“I know my dips–“). It’s nice to sit under the stars and just talk.
Work’s been fun as well. I’ve been feeling chatty and I’ve always really liked the people. We went out for lunch two Friday’s ago. And two days ago I organized a little Boomerang video shoot for the office. My co-worker and I found props for the others to don, and then we all danced to the first day of summer.
In general, life’s been pretty gouda. Hope everyone’s been doing okay! Been catching up on my favorite blogs.
My ears are ringing. A girl’s crying in the bathroom. A boy in my class dances fluid-languid by another boy in my class who’s across a girl in my class who is tall and wears crop tops. I scan the disco-ball lit dance floor for what’s ‘in’: short tight mini-skirts that hike up your belly paired with black x-ed tops that your dyed hair can flow over. I wish my hair were long again so I could hide behind it.
Behind the lens and under disco lights, being a photographer lets me observe. Observe, record, document. It’s how I both connect and disconnect, like being a third party in my own reality. It can be interesting, toeing this social middle-ground. Here, I’m simultaneously a participant and an observer. I am a passive agent, an active recorder. An authority, a prop: the photographer.
Hopping from the East to the South draws each region into sharp contrast. Against the tall and narrow East, the South seems wider. Twangy recorded voicemails, the norm, strike me as peculiar (“hah-lo, yoo’ve reached–“) Cityscapes turn to landscapes and steel structures melt to lake water. Welcome home, where it’s hotter, quieter, sunnier, brighter, lazier, slower, flatter and bigger.
Wal-Mart might have lost my first roll of disposable film, but at least they didn’t lose my second. I’m still a little miffed about them (or FujiFilm) losing the first; I’d carried it around for a year, documenting my summer in China, vacation in the Bahamas, life in Philadelphia, etc. But I’ll look on the bright side: hey, they didn’t lose this second roll.
The photos turned out surprisingly well–it can be pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to film. Unlike digital, I’ll have no idea how disposable photos will turned out ’til they’ve been sent off, processed, developed and printed. Sometimes a shot of the living room turns out as washed-out black grain. Other times, a shot of a sneaker turns out to be weirdly artsy. It’s fun. It’s experimental. Generally, though, I’d say you can’t go wrong with landscape film.
Up until yesterday, when I got the photos, I’d forgotten that I’d carried my camera from one city to another. It’s interesting seeing images of the East juxtaposed with those of the South, watching them go from being gritty and overcast to saturated in blue.