Archive for August 2013

departure

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Coming to college, I knew close to nothing about what I wanted to do. Picking a major was a terrifying idea and I joined an absurd amount of clubs my first year, just to try a little bit of everything. There were two things I was absolutely certain though:
1. I was not going to be a math major (hello, C+ in high school calculus) 
2. I was going to study abroad for a year. 

There was no question about it. I was seventeen and had just come off of a summer with the NSLI-Y program in Tajikistan where I learned Persian in a matter of 6 weeks. That's incredible, but it wasn't just about the language though—it never is. I learned more about the world, caring for others, and myself than ever before; I grew and moved on and became the best version of myself I've ever been. Life-changing almost feels like too mundane a term to describe that summer. I fell desperately in love with the world around me and all that it had to offer. As soon as I got to Hamilton, I knew that the year abroad was absolutely necessary. I wanted—no, needed—to feel like that again, this wonderful melange of lost, inspired, completely opened. 

And here we are now, two years later, on the eve of my last night in America for quite some time. I'm leaving for France tomorrow evening for a full year. I'll be spending the first two weeks (and my birthday!) in the beautiful beach town of Biarritz for orientation. Then, I'll be off to Paris where I'm living with a host family and studying at various French institutions for a year. I have an anthropology project, a long trip to North Africa, and maybe even a summer research project planned already. It's all very exciting, but I don't feel quite how I expected to feel. I'm thrilled, yes, and I know within a week, this apprehension will seem unfounded and ridiculous, but right now?

I'm anxious as shit. 

I've known for over half a year that I was going to be going on this program. Since then, between finishing up school, piles of paperwork, and the visa application process, it's been so easy to push the reality of the situation to the side and focus on the details. Send in this document, scan that, copy this paper. 

Most of the time, I barely care. I keep on telling myself that compared to Tajikistan, France was going to be a cakewalk. Developed, first world country? Easy. I can do this with my eyes closed. Other times, the five-year-old in me emerges, and I get giddy about the romance and Old World beauty of Paris. I (foolishly) fantasize about walking along the Seine at sunset with a crepe in hand, accordion music in the background optional. 

There are some other moments though, when the reality of the situation hits me full force—like right now. I remember how fucking terrible my French speaking and sense of direction actually is. And I realize with a sudden heartwrenching gasp everything that I'm leaving behind. There's weekend challah in the cold Backus kitchen, sleepless unproductive nights in KJ with my friends, endless hours losing myself in my darkroom, the beauty of the Glen in every season, Silent Disco shenanigans, Taiwanese food. I'm leaving behind old friends, new friends, a new love. That one kills me.

But none of it matters because for all of my worrying and sadness and yearning, I can't stop any of it. So, forget about it all, push him to a corner of your mind for now. Chin up, finish packing, and less than 24 hours from now, the adventure begins. Allons-y!

blueberry lemon sorbet

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A couple weeks ago, my friends and I went to a nearby orchard to go blueberry picking. I've never been before and I was surprised by how lovely the entire experience was.  It was the first day of the picking season, so a lot of the berries weren't ripe yet. They start off as tiny green orbs, and they slowly swell and deepen to that deep blue. When I went, the branches were laden with dusky clusters of green, pink, lilac, blue, and every shade in between. It had just rained (Central New York, what else is new?) and the sun was beaming, so everything was glittering with little jewels of water.

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I wandered through the damp grass, filling up my bucket as much as I could, greedy hands popping berries into my mouth whenever no one was looking. I still can't get over how idyllic everything was—tart juices bursting from the berries in my mouth, shimmering blueberry bushes, pastel berries everywhere.

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emma

During a much needed respite from finals week spring semester, I worked with the immensely talented Emma on this shoot, exploring the attic and basement of Root. She's incredible in front of the camera; it really took me by surprise at the beginning. I'm used to having to direct models (as in my wonderful friends that I coerce into my photographs) and working with Emma, I didn't have to do any of that at all. I was able to focus a lot more on the photo itself, which was really refreshing. 

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emma

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