I think I’ve said this a few times about my recent life, but this last month has been overwhelming in the most beautiful of ways. I arrived in Italy two days ago, moving here at long last to join my favorite, Tyler, in our new lives together.But the week before I left for Italy, I was humbled to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop in upstate New York. I echo others’ sentiments when I say that I wasn’t sure I belonged there until I officially arrived and was handed by pink name tag — I thought perhaps my name was on the master list by some grand mistake or joke. But no one questioned me, and I spent the sleepless weekend talking photography and journalism, a topic I’ve missed discussing so fervently, and meeting so many amazing people — photographers or otherwise. I don’t know if I can stress to you enough how confused I was before attending Eddie. I felt (and still feel) such a lack of direction in my career — like I was just flailing, trying to grab onto things that I think I liked or wanted to do or thought I should do because it would be a good career move. After leaving my job in May, I really didn’t know my place in photojournalism — could I cut it with a freelance career? Was that something I even wanted to do? EAW definitely raised more questions than answers for me, but pushed me forward to give me more direction. I saw so much passion from so many people there, that I knew that I couldn’t just keep doing something just because it’s what others expected of me. Erika Larsen spent three years living with the Sami reindeer people in Norway with no expectations for publication or anything other than personal growth. Phillip Toledano photographed his dying father and documented the incredibly personal story on a website with no intentions of getting the response that he did. And I think it takes that kind of personal journey and that kind of love and dedication to do work that really resonates. I think that sort of work actually comes from sort of a selfish place — a place where it’s just something you know you have to do it because you need it for yourself. And I don’t know what that means for me, or where it will lead me as a photographer but more importantly as a person, but it’s the kind of work that really lit my hair on fire, as my old photo professor, Rita Reed would say.
Tyler and I were able to spend a month together in Italy, setting up our home and exploring our new city, before we had to part ways again due to a training deployment. We saw so much in the short time we were there — we know the next three years are going to be jam-packed with beautiful sights, amazing food, and quite a cultural learning experience.
Well, I have finally arrived in Italy and finally have Tyler at my side. This isn’t the home stretch, though — we will only be spending a little over a month together until he has to go on a training mission and I will return home for a few more months. However, this time together has been invaluable and it’s been so nice being an actual couple living in our actual place together with a sort of hologram of how our future will look.Right now, things are wonderful and stressful and overwhelming and lovely and then exasperating and I’m just adjusting to it all. We have days where we find an amazing bottle of wine and eat bread drenched in olive oil and fresh basil for dinner and then sit in our new poorly-furnished apartment and listen to the Italian neighbor kids play until it gets dark at 9:30, but the nearby stubborn and confused roosters are still crowing. And then we have days where we are met by Army gridlock and bureaucracy and awkward interactions at the store because we don’t know Italian and just need someone to tell us where to find a mattress topper to fix our ”adequate” government-provided bed and get overwhelmed with a plethora of questions we don’t know how to solve or where to go to solve them and so we just lay in our lumpy bed together and laugh or cry or sigh and have another glass of wine (and thank goodness the wine is always good). Sometimes I think we’re crazy, and then other times I know we’re crazy, but I’m just so glad Tyler and I are together. And even with all of the uncertainty with my future career since I left my job and all the insanity just adjusting to a new life, I just didn’t realize how much we needed to be in the same place. I forgot about how it felt to just know that I could go home at the end of the day and have a conversation with him about everything going on in my brain, and how we consistently just know how to prop the other up and give the mutual support that we didn’t know we needed. It’s weird how you can go convince yourself being apart is OK, and then you get reunited and you don’t know how you did it for so long, and all of a sudden, being separate for even 5 minutes seems like an eternity. So, these pictures may seem like “travel” pictures, but really they’re “adjustment” pictures. Because we’re not traveling in Italy — this is not our vacation. This is our new life. And these are our first impression to our new reality of living in a foreign country as semi-newlyweds. Living in Italy is amazing and we are so thankful to be here, but we also are doing it as a new military family and doing it as Americans who know so little about so many things. And that poses its own form of unique challenges. But we are young and in love and stupid and excitable and figuring it all out — together, finally, thank God.
Right now, I’m technically unemployed. I left my job a week ago at the amazing community newspaper, The News Leader, in Virginia in preparation for a move to Italy with my partner, Tyler. He was just stationed with the U.S. Army in Vicenza with the badassery that is the 173rd airborne brigade combat team. He’s been there for almost a month now, in-processing, adjusting to Italian life and sampling all the food for me so I know what to eat immediately once I arrive. I am still stateside.Everything in our lives is up in the air at the moment. We have no timeline, no deadline, no end date — just months of paperwork, bureaucracy and possible deployments ahead until I can get to where he is. Every day is an exhausting battle and I struggle with small things like going out with other couples or planning small trips a few weeks out. In the end, the only thing I want to do is be where he is — or at least on my way to being there — and to know that he is safe. So, what does all this mean for me — as in, my career and what I’m doing? To be honest, I have no idea. Two years ago, I would have been terrified of that fact. And I’d be lying and naive if I said I wasn’t currently nervous or worried about the lack of a timeline or steadiness in my current employment situation.
I’m closing out my last month here at The News Leader. Everything has happened both so slowly yet so quickly — it’s hard to believe that things are moving at all. But within the next week, I will be back in Missouri with my lovely family to spend a few month finishing Army paperwork.I’ll write a goodbye blog post here in the next couple days, but for now, I wanted to post a few pictures from the last month or so — my last few assignments for the newspaper. Read the rest of this entry »
Boy, it has been a lot time since I’ve updated the blog. Lots of things are changing in my life currently, and I have a lot exciting adventures coming up very soon — and some that could come sooner!But all that is for another time. In the meantime, I figured I’d catch up on recent dead tree work. Thanks for looking. Read the rest of this entry »
The Highland Maple Festival is one of the best events in this area of Virginia. If you like food, or beautiful scenery, or are a human being, it’s the greatest. I decided to feast like crazy while I was there this year and indulged in maple-glazed chicken, buckwheat pancakes and, of course, the infamous warm, doughy maple donuts.One of my photographs was also featured on a project by Roger May called Looking at Appalachia. It’s a wonderful project looking to create a more encompassing and accurate depiction of the Appalachian area, as most of the images from the area were taken 50 years ago during a “War on Poverty” campaign commissioned by LBJ. I think it’s a wonderful project and can’t way to see the other crowdsourced images that come out of it. Read the rest of this entry »
Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite celebrations in the Catholic Church. I’ve always really liked Lent — I think it’s a great period of reflection and Ash Wednesday is the start of all that. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”Read the rest of this entry »
True/False Film Fest — a time in Columbia, Mo. that I like to call “hipster homecoming.” So, I returned home last weekend for the best time of the year — filled with inspirational documentaries, liquor-laden conversations with old college buddies and the wonderful weirdness of Columbia.