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Dream fragments: 12.31.18

December 31, 2018

1.

I’m at a large social gathering with dignitaries in attendance. Maybe in Washington DC? There’s a mix of races and ethnicities, and many people are wearing beautiful clothing reflecting their heritages.

{The part I recall clearest} I stride up to an African woman wearing a turban and a spectacular outfit, put out my hand and say, in a friendly way, “Hello, I’m Mea!”      But I’ve been doing similar things the whole time. I’m vaguely aware that my father is behind me somewhere, and if he’s paying attention to me, he’s probably pretty surprised. When he knew me, I wasn’t an extrovert, nor was I this level of socially assured.

 

2.

I’m in a multi-storied library, looking over a balcony into the sunlit atrium. Maybe there are potted plants on the ground floor, but what catches my attention is white metal sculptures suspended about 4 feet below me. And then, their occupant — a mountain lion! Tawny above, white below. It’s moving around a lot, so I can see different parts of its body. I’m captivated and delighted. I’m torn between wanting to get my good camera out to take some cool photos, and leaving the area immediately because mountain lions are dangerous, and this one could attack me.

+++

NOTES:

1.

My waking life father, when I knew him, was quite comfortable amongst other white men, but I rarely (never?) saw him in settings as mixed as this dream scenario.

It’s curious that I had no sense of being in attendance in an official capacity because if so, wouldn’t I (naturally) be fairly reticent? I mean, why would these important people care what my name is? And yet, none of that type of social anxiety was in my mind at all.                         I was happy to be there, friendly, relaxed, curious, eager to engage.

I was in my element, and in the moment. And I knew it.

In waking life, that’s been extremely rare. Maybe 2019 will change that.

 

2.

Mountain lions always signify.

This dream contained: library/archive; open & airy space; metal mobile-like sculptures {Calderesque}; kinesthetic movement; a sacred animal; my heightened awareness.

Maybe pondering questions raised by this dream makes more sense than trying to ‘solve’ it.

It does feel hopeful, anticipatory, *aware*.

+++

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Dream: 12.30.18

December 30, 2018

I’m in a research library attached to a particular school. I’ve been coming here most days, for months now. All the regulars have their places at a long table, and keep books and other items under the table grouped near their feet. I’ve become a regular, just by returning so often, so I have a place too: at the far left end, lower corner.

The other regulars, though, are officially scholars — some are undergraduates in a special research program, some are graduate students, some are postdocs, some are professors and visiting scholars.

I’m none of those.

I’m an undergraduate in a completely different school — that doesn’t have a research program at all, never mind at this library — and I’m flunking my real classes because I’d rather be here every day.

I’d rather be learning any and all cool stuff I’ve stumbled across and realized I was intrigued by, rather than learning only what falls into a narrow tube that some authority figure has decided is important for me to know.

So I’m aware an external clock is ticking: when will authorities in my program realize they should expel me? When will the research library be notified, so my access can be revoked?

Will I be publicly denounced as an impostor?

So, I had been checking out a big stack of unwieldly books (which required a staff person to sign out individually in a large book), but now I’m unobtrusively slipping them back onto carts where they’ll eventually be found and processed as returned.

I don’t want to leave here at all (never mind in disgrace). This is where my Real Work is.

Unlike everyone else here, however, I have zero credentials bolstering that fact. I have no one to vouch for my probity or fine scholarship. I’m just one person, who has found a congenial niche, and I’m utilizing it effectively — but also enjoyably — while I may.

+

This particular day, it’s spring, and a beautiful enough day outside that some people are looking out the (large) windows, onto the streets below, with people scurrying by, trees flowering, big clouds in the sky, and deciding they should actually leave for home around 5 p.m. Catch that “early” train, so they can enjoy the weather when they’re at leisure.

I’d like doing that, too, but maybe today is my last day here. So, instead, I should clear up my space as best as I can, minimizing the work for whomever notices I won’t be returning.

Instead of waiting to be denounced, maybe I just leave one fine afternoon, and never come back.

Will anyone remember I was ever there, after? I don’t know. Will anyone miss me? Probably not. I was part of no clique no cohort. I shared no classes, no papers, nor commiserations about teachers.

All that kept me part of the table group was… proximity, attendance, and shared love of learning.

But I’ve made no friends, have no mentors or true colleagues.

+

I realize that if I had a teacher or other professional staff person intercede with the administration for me, maybe a way could be threaded for me out of this tangle: maybe I could be transferred into a better program — something interdisciplinary would be best, something self-directed and open-ended. An individualized major.

Even if the university would allow that, though, it wouldn’t be for someone like me, who is already failing out.

I would need a powerful ally indeed.

And yet… I’ve been putting out friendly overtures fairly consistently, but no one ever seems interested. If I try now to find an advocate, (a) I’ll probably fail at it too, (b) if I somehow gained one, wouldn’t they feel used when they discovered I actually needed their advocacy?

I don’t know how to present myself to others so that I seem appealing and congenial as I am.

+

I just want to do my Work. In this pleasant and cozy library, where I’ve created a space for myself at the table, I just want to explore, and be surprised and delighted, and learn.

+++

NOTES:

This dream could easily be a metaphor for my entire life.

But I think it’s partly also a metaphor for this past week.       (Not the potentially being denounced as an impostor parts.)                   I can do things, in the moment, that are Right, Helpful, Needful things.                       I can’t tell anyone how I knew what to do, but I can do it. I did do it.

Spouse told me he can’t do those things (or, perhaps, the other person won’t allow Spouse to be the giver). Without me there, Necessary Things just don’t occur.

+

Considering how many hundreds, thousands, of visits I’ve made to libraries in my life, it’s kind of odd I don’t dream about them more often.

Long years ago, during my first undergrad experience, I discovered a very old bilingual dictionary that I pored over in wonder, in lieu of my “real” assignments. I was, indeed, flunking all my classes because I’d rather be at the library.    7 years later, that time, remembered, became the foundation for composing my new surname. Which I still have.    I earned no degree from the school, but I gained much better prizes: self-awareness, discovery, a name, a different connection to my heritage.

+

I’ve recently realized that… I don’t need credentials to be a scholar. If I do the work, I am a scholar. (Like how being a writer means you’re someone who writes.)

In some lights, it might be more impressive to have made such strides into scholarship while having no assignments, teachers, cohort of students, administrators; no mentors. Most importantly, perhaps, for a poet, no friendships within one’s cohort and amongst mentors — that’s where the recognition, prizes, residencies, all that grow out of.     So those things are out of reach for me.

But I can still do the Work.

To have access to the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore City — an excellent source of scholarly works, some of great age — all I require is (apparently) Maryland residency, and a public library card.

I’m tech savvy enough to have learned more about Marina (Maryland’s online inter-library loan system) than most of the librarians at my local BCPL branch.

I keep 2 sets of records of what I’ve read {w’y, LT}.

I datamine my own metadata to further my understanding of my own work. And also to discover new avenues of inquiry.

I occasionally write to poets whose writings I’ve read.          (Most times, they’ve responded.)

I continue to read biographies and memoirs of creative people in various fields. I’m currently reading a biography of the life and works of German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker.

Don’t I have what I need? Amn’t I doing my Work?

Dreams: 12.25.18

December 25, 2018

1.

I’m being shown the ropes with a new temping agency. My mother is inexplicably there with me, as the account rep, a woman, takes me around. The rep has heard, somewhere, that when I have had assignments where I interact with people directly that I’m… opinionated. That hasn’t gone over very well, so she suggests I do greetings only. Be the public face, but don’t/barely talk.

Inwardly, I’m dismayed, as I recall it’s not particularly skilled work, and therefore, won’t pay well. I need more money so I can move into my own place.

The account rep leads me to… clothes racks, with lots of pretty clothes. I’m to be an ornament, yes? So apparently I’m to be paid in ‘scrip’ which is these clothes.            They are very colorful and attractive. The woman starts explaining how to put the outfits together ‘properly’, though, and I realize I’ll need to wear nylons again, present as femme. I haven’t done that in years.

Also, being paid in clothes… how do I eat? Pay rent?

My mother, though, approves of me taking this job where I’d be “turned out nice”, staying quiet, and of course, now being unable to afford to claim an independent life.

=

Even so, I’m excited about the prospect of trying new things (including pretty new clothes). Also, perhaps some things can be negotiated.          Even if I’m stuck living with my parents a while longer, this opportunity is something I’m choosing.

+

 

2.

My sister is divorcing her husband, and it’s a good thing for some reason.

I seem to be younger than my sister — she’s mid-30s, while I’m maybe 10 years younger.

As I’m idly listening to her tell someone else all the details, at her house, I’m first looking out a window onto their grassy yard (that resembles the Stitzells’ yard). Then I’m looking into a closet that holds a messy flower arrangement. I see movement on the wall, partly hidden by the flowers. It’s a large furry spider, 4 – 5 inches long, medium grey with a white stripe, handsome. I consider grabbing a glass to move it outside, but decide to leave it be.

I feel a kinship with and an interest in the spider that I don’t feel with my sister or her friend.

=

It’s almost like the house and I and the spider are somehow connected with each other. We’re part of one thing, not a household, but something analogous.            My sister, even though she “owns” the house, is not part of this, nor is her friend.

+

 

3.

I’m in high school, but I haven’t been attending classes regularly. My mother’s been having a room built for me in their basement, but finishing it keeps getting delayed.

Some school thing is coming up where I know the administration is going to ask my mother why I haven’t been attending school, and then Bad Things Will Happen.

I’m resentfully muttering to myself about how I wanted to attend public school — you know, where they offer classes I’d actually be interested in.

My mother does find out about my truancy, does say I don’t ‘deserve’ the new room after all. But she is, instead, going to keep me cooped up in the unfinished basement, indefinitely. No one will remember that I’m even alive, she tells me, so I’ll never escape!

But then… the local public school I wanted to attend sends people to ask about me attending there. I have to go to high school somewhere, and since I want to go there, maybe now I can…

I wake up.

=

Left to my own devices, I don’t do (almost) anything voluntary every single day. Choosing to do specific things on days when I have the requisite physical, mental, and emotional energies available, and, just as important, when I want to do them, works much better.

Naturally, I didn’t discover this optimal way of being until I was far away from my parents, compulsory schooling, but also having to be at a job — and be alert and sociable — beginning at 8 a.m. (when I’m a night owl: don’t normally awake until noonish, don’t arrive at “alert and sociable” until 2 p.m.ish), etc., etc.

+++

Reading List 13 of 2018

December 21, 2018

Covers the period from 12.4.2018 through 12.20.18

 

I own 2 of these items. I watched 2 items in the cinema/on Netflix/Amazon/ HBO/YouTube/Vimeo. I listened to 8 podcasts. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 10 of the books and movies. Libraries outside of Baltimore County, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 7 items.

{Women}

 

Race in the USA:

  1. Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books by Philip Nel {white, South African heritage}
  2. What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy by Robin DiAngelo {white, born working class}

 

Literary Nonfiction:

  1. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee {5 stars}
  2. Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, edited by Manjula Martin
  3. We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress by Craig Morgan Teicher
  4. What If This Were Enough?: Essays by Heather Havrilesky

 

SFF:

  1. The City & the City by China Miéville
  2. Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott {5 stars}
  3. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  4. The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette
  5. Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott

 

YA:

  1. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
  2. Winter by John Marsden {story set in Australia, where author lives}

 

Fiction:

  1. Family Trust by Kathy Wang
  2. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
  3. The Rabbits by John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan {Australians}

 

 

Art:

  1. Knitting Around the World by Lela Nargi
  2. Lorna Simpson | Collages

 

 

Music:

  1. Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic by Mark Blake
  2. [Film] Queen: Mercury Rising, directed by Maureen Goldthorpe

 

Television:

  • The Marvelous Maisel, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino; season 2

 

Show Your Work podcasts [LaineyGossip.com]*:

  1. Julia & Taylor & Lilly & Jen {78 minutes, before it abruptly cut out}
  2. Prince Harry & Meghan Markle — the Royal Wedding {111 minutes}
  3. How Ellen Pompeo got paid {102 minutes}
  4. The Work of Writing, Part 1 [comedic scripted dialog] {42 minutes}
  5. Brie Larson: It and Non-It Girls [portion of a longer show] {42 minutes}
  6. The Oscar Host Problem, STILL {82 minutes}
  7. Katherine Heigl, Manny Jacinto, Kim Kardashian’s perfumes, the Spice Girls {77 minutes}
  8. The Work of Michelle Obama {95 minutes}

 

*I totally hate podcasts, but even so, Lainey and Duana were fascinating, so I hung in there for the first one; then returned for more. Plus, I love, love, love “shop talk”.

 

+++

Dream: 12.16.18

December 16, 2018

I’m on a plane, or maybe a zeppelin — a really big vehicle, whatever it is — on my way to South America. We keep flying over the largest mountains I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I’m finally here, about to arrive in this fabled place!

I have a companion, who sometimes seems to be Spouse, other times is more like my brother D.

Only now, well into our flight, do I suddenly recall that… I didn’t check into a bunch of stuff I should have before we left. Like, do I even have my passport with me? Is it still current? What clothes did I pack? Are any of them appropriate for whatever we’ll be doing? Did I save up for the trip expenses? Can we afford to be here?

I did through my bags, looking for my passport. In a side pocket of my camera bag (in the dream, it’s grey, fuzzy, and an open sleeve), I find not just one passport, but all of them. That seems… foolhardy. Why aren’t they safe at home where they belong?

No matter, I pick up the top one, to make sure it’s current. I flip through it, puzzled. Instead of the format I was expecting, it’s filled with full-color ads; any information about the holder is difficult to locate, in tiny type. I eventually find a page explaining all the holder data they removed (to make more room for ads?) — the beginning and ending dates are among those items. Crap. What if this newest passport has already expired??!?

Then I think back. I remember renewing my passport after I left my last job. (In the dream) That was 2011, so I should have ample time. Relief!

+

I’m walking through a corridor when I espy DJ, someone I went to middle and high school with, but haven’t seen him since. I want to talk to him — he’s familiar-ish — but his wife, further down the passage, is eager to retrieve him.       We have time to establish that he’s traveling to South America because he lives there. Also, I can tell from his clothes that he’s rich, so perhaps he takes super-expensive trips like this one regularly. Probably we would have nothing to say to each other if we did talk. I let him pass me; I keep walking, looking around me with interest.

+

In the dream, I recall that a few months before, I’d had a dream in which appeared really tall mountains, like I keep seeing here. Maybe that earlier dream’s mountains were in South America! And now I’m on my way!!

Could those dream-mountains have had a hand in me being on this trip? Somehow?

Weird, but cool.

+

I’m perched on some large boulders, with Spouse, and other people I barely know. I look down at my legs: I’m wearing white shorts, and my legs are already really tan. By the heat, I realize I’m probably sunburning right now, and should get into shelter. And yet, I feel very pleasant, and don’t want to move.

+

I’m inside a large mixed-use office building. Spouse and I and a woman are sitting on a bench in a huge atrium. The two of them send me off to retrieve some papers from elsewhere in the building, a task they expect will take 15-20 minutes.                I return after several hours? (days?) because of course I got lost, beginning while I was in the elevator.     While stuff was happening keeping me from returning, of course I was thinking about them waiting, but I wasn’t frantically hysterical (like I have been in previous dreams of this nature). No, instead, I fully entered into whatever presented itself to me. I had a blast!

So, anyway, at some point, I return to find Spouse and the woman still on the bench. They’re very annoyed. In good spirits, I apologize. I say I got lost right away, had Adventure 1, Adventure 2, rode an iceberg! They clearly don’t believe a word of it.      But I have physical evidence, of the iceberg portion. They feel like they have to believe me, but they don’t know what to make of it: I began in an office building, in a major metropolitan area — how could I have encountered any of those things?!?

(It all began in the elevator…) I remember an elevator car that was 3 stories high, and balloons on a string reaching almost that high, held by weird people on their way to do something joyous. Maybe I followed them out of the lift?

+

Spouse came in to wake me up. I’d been awake, but had my eyes closed so I could better recall all  these images in my mind’s eye long enough to write them down.

 

+++

NOTES:

A while back, I did in fact have a dream in which there were really tall mountains, that I felt a pull from.                       When I awoke, though, I thought the mountains might’ve been in Norway (I’ve seen photos of Norway); I never thought of South America.

Our first Christmas together, I gifted Spouse a book? (calendar?) of photographs of Patagonia.

I’ve studied Spanish on and off most of my life; for years, I was fascinated with (the idea of) Portuguese.               I’ve read anthologies of Latin American poets.                As I’ve gotten more intrigued by First Nation cultures and languages, I’ve run across poetry from, say, Mapuche.           A few years ago, I read a book about South American cuisine. But never expected to go there.

The farthest south I’ve been, in our hemisphere, was Cancún, and Xelha (long before it was a theme park – yikes!), almost 30 years ago. Spouse has never been to Mexico at all.

+

I haven’t checked, but I think I do have a current passport. I did renew it after I left my last job, but maybe not until a year or so later, which, yeah, could’ve been 2011.

+

The mountains we flew over on our way to Alaska were the tallest I’ve ever seen for myself. Not sure how they compare to South America.

I think the dream-mountains, in both dreams, were definitely trying to communicate with me.

+

The emotions in the latter half of the dream were: laughter, joy, exuberance. I didn’t know where I was going, or why, but I was following my curiosity and having fun. Glorious!

It’s like I… learned the right things from the first half of the dream: don’t get hung up on preparations you didn’t make — you’re here now. Go with it. Follow it. Wherever you’re at, discover what you can do.

Dream: 12.15.18

December 15, 2018

Dream: 12.15.18

Me and at least 3 other people were in a swimming pool, pleasantly discussing the logistics of an orgy we were going to have later.

Suddenly, though, I’m in a house with just one other person, RT, a guy I knew as a kid (but haven’t seen in 40+ years).

We start having sex, but it wasn’t sexy, romantic, or even enjoyable. It was boring, occasionally physically uncomfortable, and so dull I was thinking of other things.

I actually said, “You know, maybe this isn’t working today, right now. We could… do other things. Maybe revisit it another time?”

He didn’t respond; I’m not sure he heard me.

After it ended, I looked in the mirror, and realized my recent haircut (that I’d done myself) was more haphazard than I’d intended: I was practically bald at the top, and quite short around that, with long hair around the edges. A tonsure? Also, my hair was reddish-brown, and my skin was coppery brown. (I looked a bit like Danai Gurira, as she was in Black Panther, if her hair style and skin color had been different.) I didn’t recognize myself at all.

I woke up.

 

+++

 

NOTES:

I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed myself to resemble a real other individual.

People of color appear in my dreams, infrequently, but I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed myself to be someone of another race.

Right before bed, I finished reading a book on racism in children’s literature, then I thought about it for a while, so maybe that’s part of it?

Otherwise, I’m puzzled by this section.

+

I do cut my own hair, but I’ve never had it end up “almost bald”. It was actually… rather attractive, but I didn’t recall doing it.

+

RT appearing is extra weird, especially in this situation, because it was so unfun. I felt like I was their science project: they were curious about my body’s terrain (almost like they’d never seen a nude body before), but they weren’t… engaged? Interested?         They weren’t having fun either.

For me, curiosity = joy, but there was nothing remotely like joy in their manner.

It was clinical, robotic, … mechanical.

{Sex in a dream, for me, I decode as being a metaphor for art/creativity.}

So… what art/creative thing have I been joylessly & mechanically investigating?

+

[[30 minutes wandering around, thinking hard]]

+

World literature.

Specifically, works by people of color who are the majority of the human world, and always have been.

Writers who are people of color, whether poets, essayists, memoirists, whatever, are generally so much better than white writers, it’s discouraging.

No matter how hard I work at developing my writing skills, I can’t become “the next Lucille Clifton”. Nor a successor to Elizabeth Alexander, Julia Alvarez, James Baldwin, Kim Cheng Boey, Alexander Chee, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kwame Dawes, Natalie Diaz, Camille Dungy, Nikki Giovanni, Diane Glancy, Rigoberto González, Andrea Hairston, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, bell hooks, Tyehimba Jess, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Etheridge Knight, Kiese Laymon, Layli Long Soldier, Audre Lorde, Pablo Neruda, Margaret Noodin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Eunice Odio, Claudia Rankine, Craig Santos Perez, Ntozake Shange, Evie Shockley, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Luis Urrea, Gerald Vizenor, Alice Walker, Ofelia Zepeda.

Instead, it seems like what I can aspire to is… not being a terrible writer, not embarrassing myself by my ignorance, not behaving like an asshat.

There’s no joy in that.

photo confrere collapse

December 14, 2018

Last year, I was trying to find a shortcut to improving my skills at photographing human beings, so that I could leapfrog directly to better self-portraits — that were truly portraits.

+

I think I’m pretty skilled at portraits of nonhuman subjects. I take my time at observing them closely. I approach them from various angles (then crop tightly). It’s possible I even establish some rapport with them.

But, outside of Spouse, I rarely photograph human beings, and those few tend to be at a distance: people playing soccer in a park; people in an art museum.

+

Spouse is excellent at catching candid not-‘posed’ moments of true portraiture. He captured the best shot from my brother’s wedding reception 25 years ago, and he (Spouse) was just shooting for his own enjoyment.       He also has accumulated years and years of experience with art models.

Dating back to our newlywed days, I’ve occasionally been an art model for Spouse. He’s often been pleased with the results… but I usually wasn’t. It took me a long long time to realize, I was (unconsciously) trying to be the art director so he would capture the right moments: portraits of me as I perceive myself. Something I would recognize, at a level much deeper than surface visual.

Moments like that have been captured on film. In at least a couple cases by my mother (but I was acting as the art director).

So it seems like all I’d really need is to have Spouse paying attention at the correct times, doing his own portrait-magic-thing, and I’d get what I want. But…

Our ideas of what constitutes a “portrait session” … don’t overlap for this.

He has been beside me, with me, photographing me even, and still missed the specific moment(s).

He’s also been in the same general area, photographing, but caught by the surroundings, and therefore, paying no attention whatsoever to me. In one of those circumstances, I fished out my own camera, and took a picture… of my feet. All I could manage.              He was right there, but he wasn’t looking.

+

When he’s photographing an art model, he wants to capture cool moments (and he often does), but — I’ve asked him — he’s not feeling himself in the shot, as if he were the model. He just wants a cool shot, of whatever’s possible then and there.

When I look at… even his photos of art models, I feel myself in the shot. (Because I have been in the shot.)

+

If I could just borrow all his expertise at portraiture, somehow, and put it to my own uses, I would. But I can’t.

Next best thing, I thought, do a joint session with him and an art model. Work up to me doing solo sessions with art models; eventually transition to being my own art model, art director, and portrait photographer.

(A zillion layers of ‘fiddly’, for me on my own, is pragmatically unpossible. Hindsight, tho.)

++

I was an observer at a session he did with an art model in late 2017. I think October. I definitely had ideas for what I would’ve done differently, creatively.                   My thought process was somewhat hampered by the model behaving as if I were there for social reasons; in retrospect, my presence was likely puzzling to her otherwise.

Spouse and I did a joint session with a different art model, in November. He and I worked excellently together, we both agreed — synergy improved both of our results.              But working with the model, for me, was … tricky. She’d been willing to work with a ‘beginner’; I was out to her as nonbinary. I guess I assumed she and I and her sibling would have the commonality of not being cis guys and that would count for something in developing rapport?

Professionalism was all there was, I discovered later. Which made me doubt everything either she or I had said or did.

Being autistic and having been raised by people who mostly disliked me, I just still don’t have enough data points to differentiate between (1) this person is behaving pleasantly and politely because they’re a professional, in a work situation, and (2) this person genuinely enjoys being around me, and the two of us are developing rapport.                               {See also, AROHO 2013.}

Spouse and I both got some really good photos. I appreciate that. But the interpersonal stuff was deflating, and embarrassing.

Spouse and I did another joint session with a third art model. I adjusted my interpersonal expectations, and did not have the same problems. But this model — whom I liked very much — misused some of the tree branches from my studio I’d agreed to include in photos. Branches were (accidentally) splintered, then broken. I… narrowly… avoided a complete meltdown mid-session, but my enjoyment evaporated, and it was all I could do to finish at all.

Some of the photos were good, but so what.

++

It seems ludicrous now that I somehow thought having a solo session with an art model — after all these mixed results — was the next best step.

Yet, preparing for the solo photo session was actually the most satisfying creativity I’d had in years!

I could do everything at my own pace (not shoehorn myself into Spouse’s timetable). My energy engages in clusters, not continuously, so whenever my ideas and enthusiasm were flowing, I ran with it. (When not, I rested, and did other things.)            I prepared across almost 3 months.

Before the early March session, I:

  • Read 12 books on portrait photographers: Edouard Boubat, Adger Cowans, Imogen Cunningham, Natalie Dybisz, Gregory Heisler, Terry Hope, Mary Ellen Mark, Steve McCurry, Joyce Tenneson, and others.
  • Hung cheesecloth in my studio windows; Rearranged the room; Blocked the studio for backdrops; Created backdrops; (innovatively) Affixed backdrops.
  • Practiced using Spouse’s (lent) studio light.
  • Rethought allowing an art model to collaborate with my tree branches; Decided to not allow branches at all; Reconsidered use of flowers.
  • Bought a variety of unusual fabrics; Experimented with draping (myself, Spouse).
  • Got Spouse to stand-in for practice shots with fabric and flowers.

 

With all of these efforts, I invested in my own artistic development. I engaged with the world, and my imagination. I had loads of fun. I regret nothing.

+

The session with the model was disappointing.

I picked her up at the train station and drove her back to our apartment. Within 5 minutes of her arrival, I could tell the session was not going to succeed. Even so, I was surprised at how blah it was.

I did not think we had rapport. All the talking — when it was just me having to do all of it — was exhausting; I did not enjoy it.

Spouse post-processed a handful of the photos, and I think they’re decent.

Until last month, I never even looked at the whole session’s photos myself. Some efforts can likely be salvaged.

++

I don’t expect to work with an art model again.

All my lovely nebulous Next Steps in Portraiture dissolved. I was too disheartened to even try to see what I might try next.