The Long Way Home


In a Cold Sun
October 5, 2014, 8:57 AM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , ,
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It’s a chilly, quiet morning, time I’ve waited to savor all week. I have worked more overtime, catching up after a long travel weekend, and milling through the muck of interview rejection. I like to have things status quo, and everything felt off-kilter. At times, it made me forget the smallest things, left me a little catastrophic and slightly depressed. It’s a territory of which I’m familiar – depression – and so I throw myself into overdrive, trying to compensate for the inertia that could settle in. Even photography provided little comfort, and that scared me. I’ve grown to lean on it to get me through difficult times, and now I’m looking at the broader picture: that not one thing can make up for all the things that are biting at you. It’s too much to expect, much like putting all your faith into one person: it’s a big burden to bear. So at the end of a long week, I took my camera with me as we ran errands, no plan in mind (which is out of my comfort zone – as regular readers may know, I like order). I asked a man at a junk shop on Hamilton Avenue if I could take his photo, and he wordlessly slipped back into his shop, gently closing the door behind him. Later in our friend Sheryl’s garden, Jeff picked peppers, tomatoes, chard and sprigs of dill, while I walked around freezing in the cold sun, capturing tangles of overgrowth, getting lost behind the lens for brief moments.

in the garden

in the garden

Mayflower Street

Mayflower Street

Hamilton Avenue

Hamilton Avenue

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Evening on Penn
August 5, 2014, 7:18 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , ,
come along with me

come along with me

When Jeff and I aren’t on the road, we travel our neighborhood, making ordinary trips to the grocery store an adventure. Last week, I took my Spectra with me on our walk to Bottom Dollar (Klondike craving), figuring I’d finally get to capture some things  that caught my attention on earlier car rides to work – times where I’m thinking, I’ll go back to that later – and it’s changed. We pass two houses on Gem Way that I filmed this past winter, now a lush, urban garden of tall grass and Queen Anne’s Lace. The row houses across the street, looming brick structures on broken Penn Avenue, a door still covered in old newspapers from, I swear, as long as we’ve lived here – seven years. All the moving around I did as a child, then a college student, then as a young adult trying to find my way, and now I’ve arrived: middle-aged, Spectra in hand, with my best friend beside me peeling silver wrapping from a frozen treat: this is home.

 

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the garden

the garden



Lost City
Braddock

Braddock

This is the lost city, the places where I go when time or funds prevents us from traveling. We’ll be on the way to get groceries, or more art supplies or something to eat and always, camera in tow, for when there is something along the way: a great escape. I’ve rested a little on the blogging, focusing more on the photography and on just “being.” It is nice to feel caught-up, mostly, after a long, cold winter, and years of anxiety and grief. I am making up for stalled time.

Cityscape

Cityscape

Phone Check

Phone Check

Reflection

Reflection

Line and Lines

Line and Lines

White House in Blue

White House in Blue

Lost City

Lost City

 



Cityscapes in the Rain
April 30, 2014, 7:01 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , ,
morning commute

morning commute

Pittsburgh has its rain – lots of it. Supposedly on average, only 59 sunny days annually. When it’s sunny for a few days straight, Pittsburghers are suspicious, as if an unknown force planted us all in another city. We don’t know how to handle the intense light reflecting off warehouse windows, lightly toasting our faces, bleaching the pavement beneath our feet; those few days of sunshine respite teach us to enjoy the moment, the little things. When the storms return, I breathe easy, like returning home from a long vacation worlds away from what I know.

storm sky

storm sky

this is spring in the steel city

this is spring in the steel city

blue cadillac

blue cadillac

the red umbrella

the red umbrella

after the storm

after the storm



Perspective
April 21, 2014, 4:48 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , , ,
Train Trestle, South Side Slopes

Train Trestle, South Side Slopes

It’s three years since my mother passed away, and I feel more myself than I have in the longest time. I’m more alert, in-tune with my surroundings. I laugh without guilt, and take pleasure in ordinary things. My heart isn’t broken.  Scarred, yes, but I carry that small sadness around with me, a reminder that she’s always with me. Now when I hear of someone losing a loved one, it holds different weight for me. I know the complicated, heart-wrenching road they are about to travel, and yet, I still don’t know how to act, or what to say except I’m sorry. I know that death makes most people uncomfortable, that nobody wants to talk about it. I know too that it’s given me a  great deal of anxiety, which only recently I feel as if I’ve got under control. Some people have been very supportive, and others  have said clueless, insensitive  things; I’ve learned to forgive them. I asked one of my closest friends if I’ve changed since this happened; he said that I’ve deepened my connection to photography. I had to think about why that is. It’s more than just taking pretty pictures – it’s been a comfort, a way for me to make sense of who I am as a motherless woman, as an artist. As cliché as this sounds, photography makes me feel more complete. I see through my mother’s curious, creative eye when I pour through old photos she had taken. My photo adventures continue those stories, a way for us to carry on in conversation.

Crossing, South Side Slopes

Crossing, South Side Slopes

Steel City Pawn, Braddock

Steel City Pawn, Braddock

From the Rooftops, South Side Slopes

From the Rooftops, South Side Slopes

Perspective, Braddock

Perspective, Braddock

Hotel Puhala, Braddock

Hotel Puhala, Braddock

View of St. Michael's, South Side Slopes

View of St. Michael’s, South Side Slopes

Overlook, South Side Slopes

Overlook, South Side Slopes



At the Castle
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You wouldn’t know it judging by no coat and full sun, but I took this batch of photos in February, on a day that teased us with spring. It was windy, but so sunny it blew out most of the shots. We drove around looking for junk, only to discover some places closed, forever – the effects of post-recession life in western Pennsylvania, or simply, nobody wants to drive miles out of their way, to tiny forgotten towns to search the unwanted. For awhile though, I’ve wanted to take photos at Westinghouse Castle, and since we were close, we stopped there. I found it years before by accident: going to a cousin’s baby shower, I had taken a wrong turn and pulled along a massive stone building with a giant clock tower. I wondered about the royal industrial family that once lived there and discovered it is actually the Westinghouse office building, dubbed “the Castle” for that giant clock tower that still keeps time. It was a museum, then closed (when the recession kicked in), and now it’s again an office building. The pavement surrounding the building was threaded with cracks, and small patches of snow glistened in late-daylight. I thought about how most of my generation has lived through one recession or another, how I have to find the beauty in what is ordinary – how eerily quiet it was as I looked up at a window, the curtain pulled back as if someone had just been there, watching.

four o'clock

four o’clock

spring tease

spring tease

test shot

test shot



From Nowhere
February 11, 2014, 8:49 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , ,
Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Recently at a party, I chatted briefly with a woman who coincidentally grew up in a town near the one I’m from. Coraopolis..which high school? I shook my head, for some reason apologetic that I went to a tiny high school that nobody ever heard of, feeling the old, familiar tug in my chest that I spent years trying to shake: trying to explain Nowhere to people who are from Somewhere. I spent my adolescence dreaming of escape, and most of my twenties and thirties trying to find ways to get the hell out of nowhere and off to somewhere, figuring once I arrived, I’d have it figured out. But somewhere along the way, I slowed down, paid attention, looked around, admitted: I like coming from nowhere. I like finding other places in the middle of nowhere, and documenting them for others to see, so that they too can go nowhere and see lives lived beyond all the places in the world that everyone typically wants to be. I love driving to different parts of the city and walking streets I thought I knew. I love being the passenger along roads I know with eyes shut, identifying them by their twists and turns. I love driving along Island Avenue, the road to Coraopolis through McKees Rocks – the route that I’d take to visit my mother. I know this road by the way the light dappled across row houses in late morning, and by the dark, black clouds that shook out a rainstorm one frightening summer afternoon, causing a flash flood. I know the view from the McKees Rocks Bridge, the way the sunset bounces off the gold dome of the Orthodox church in the Bottoms – it always leaves me lighthearted, happy, even – a beacon of hope after my mother died. And one late morning on our way somewhere, Jeff and I finally did stop the car so  I could take these photos, because the October light was too beautiful for me to resist. It’s strange to look back at more ordinary moments like these, not knowing the cold, endless winter awaiting us, the creative ways we’ve spent our time as we push towards spring.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Vacancy.

Vacancy.

Forest-like alley.

Forest-like alley.

Early morning, another time.

Early morning, another time.




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