Posts tagged “beyond the border

Chernobyl Night

Posted on March 8, 2011

In Chernobyl, the last thing you want to be doing is hiding from the authorities in the dark. And yet I somehow found myself doing just that, begging my heart to stop beating, wondering if this was some sort of awesome spy movie. I sure didn’t feel awesome. Earlier that evening, I stood by the bed pulling things out of my backpack. We were going for a stroll in town and some divine foresight was nudging me to bring just my camera and to leave my wallet and bag in the room. I threw the strap over my head, stuffed a few hryvnia in my pocket and joined my friends outside. Traveling lightly has its virtues. Chernobyl-town is one of those rare grownup places…

Ten Months Dreaming

Posted on December 1, 2010

Edited to add: SmugMug has let me post about how this was made.

I will never lose the impression Chernobyl has made on me, although this may be the last time I create something from that place. This one was particularly meaningful because each clip brought back memories, motions and snippets of conversation.

This project was so long in the making, I cannot quite reach back to think about how the idea began. Ten months dreaming, four days shooting, three weeks editing.

All distilled into three and a half little minutes.

I hope that those of you who weren’t there find this one as enjoyable as it is to those who were.

From the Notebook: On Hungary

Posted on November 24, 2010

Friends, Americans, travelers: Do not buy dust masks in Budapest. You won’t find them. You can ask a half dozen people who live in the city, who work in the shopping district, who call themselves concierge at your four-star hotel, but they will not know. You will, however, be truly, utterly and wholly convinced that you can trust them, that you do not need to worry and that you’ll be in good hands. After all, they are all telling you the same things: Once you get on the right train and go to the correct area, you’ll see the hardware store clear as day. So you make plans to “go shopping” and look up the location of the #17 tram. You find it, but…

From the Notebook: On Trains

Posted on November 8, 2010

From 7,000 miles away, European trains are romantic. It’s adventure: A giant steel wyrm uncoiling under the moonlight, snaking between the wild mountains of eastern Ukraine. Folklore and myth lurk in the shadows of the forests, all while the passengers lay swaddled and asleep in their gently-swaying carriages. It was not at all like that. Keleti station in Budapest could be a lovely building. For me, it was ominous and dark, a place I only ever saw after nightfall. The dim orange lights are unflattering, adding a squalid miasma to a gothic building already muddled in smoke. Our train rolled in at Track 6 a half hour before scheduled. It looked like a ghost train, square and old with antique white letters peeling off…

Road. Traveled.

Posted on November 9, 2008

So many hundreds of miles asking to be crossed. The feeling of trepidation, uncertainty, and nervousness about the empty, dry, hot spaces of the American west. I never imagined a journey could be like this, and I’m more sad than I can say about those days passing by so fast. Morning, day and night, another sunrise, another sunset. No matter where I woke up, it was always the same, yet not the same at all. I knew I was not alone, and that nothing worrying me on this vulnerable trek could puncture the good humor that pervaded our little bubble. “We go side by side Laugh until it’s right” Starting in the nearly perfect urban center of the San Francisco Bay Area, we saddled…

Algor Rhythm

Posted on February 5, 2008

I’ve always loved the winter, I said. This was a naive certainty that was never tested, a promise made in the youthful life in a temperate climate. Bring snow, always more. Snow harder, deeper, more…!! Love is meaningless if it is not tested. I have always been smitten by the fragmented history of Chicago. A city that, to me, always shines at night with the glorious glowing lights of the Art Deco period, women in beads and flowers and fur while the men dash along the sidewalks holding the brims of their hats as the wind whips their coats. Everything seems slightly faster than usual like the flicker of an old movie reel. While the city has aged and perhaps quelled in pace, the…

Deep Impact

Posted on January 15, 2008

My whole life I have been different. Not unique, but different. Children at school or at summer camp would chase me around making funny noises, asking me how I could see through my tiny little squinty eyes, asking why I was “Chinese.” It never seemed strange that Asians were so rare, especially where I grew up, within sight of New York City. It was just something I never understood but learned to accept, and I learned to brace myself for it in every new social situation. As I grew older I was far from “different.” Asians were nearly the majority in my classes but I still never felt like I fit in with them. It didn’t really matter, however, because I didn’t fit in…

Tokyo, Japan

Posted on November 29, 2007

I have finally sorted through my shots from Tokyo and have managed to get a few processed and uploaded. They’re not what I had expected or wanted to come back with, but they’re what I’ve got. Since getting back a lot of people have asked me “So how was it?” And my standard response was “It’s grey. And concrete.” This is the truth, and it was one of the first things I noticed about Tokyo. In a way it was very disappointing because great photos come out of Japan to be displayed in tour guides all over the world, and they depict it as a crazy Asian version of New York: bright neon signs, happy faces, highlighted hair, whizzing taillights. Sure the lights are…

Far East, Far Out!

Posted on November 18, 2007

A once-in-a-lifetime experience. That is what a wedding should be. And it was, I think, for all of us. Not just for Derin and Sachiko. How often does one get to be up close and personal to a Shinto wedding ceremony? In all my days I think I have “met” just one. And we’ve never actually met! At the time I was overwhelmed, jetlagged, hot (Japan likes things 70 degrees and warmer, probably due to the average 3% body fat of all of its citizens), scared, frustrated, and any number of other emotions that come with being a stranger in a strange land. Things were also happening so fast! We were on the grounds of Meiji shrine and almost the entire family had already…

Chotto matte!

Posted on November 15, 2007

This trip is drawing to a close. I have lost track of everything going on and have given up taking notes on things that happen through the course of the day because there is just too much going on. I’ve started relying on my photos to tell the story rather than anything I can say. In the next few weeks I’m sure I’ll have better tales to tell but I’ve still not fully adjusted to the time difference and have been in a constant state of grumpy exhaustion.

Plus, the weather has been horrible. I’ve never seen a fully clear day, which in a way was fine with me because it meant I never missed a spectacular sunrise. I know that I’m on an island but I never saw any natural bodies of water until this afternoon out the window of the shinkansen. So much for the famous ocean-borne rising sun.

I’m so very ready to go home. Unfortunately, I’ve been ready to go home two days after I got here. The people in this country are wonderful and friendly and are my near-perfect ideal of politeness, dignity, and decorum but I feel no attachment to the land or this way of life. Despite this I’ve seen an amazing amount of unique, quality goods – so much that I have been moved to shopping. “Shopping” is a word I most often use with disdain so it amuses me that I’ve been doing it so voraciously here. I’m going home with significantly more stuff than I brought (though fortunately not enough to make customs raise any brows.)

Hopefully when I get back I’ll settle quickly back into Ye Olde Life. I miss my home, my puppy, my bed, my car, my computer. Most of all I miss not waking up in the morning fearing another day of blank stares when I try to order a scone for breakfast! And then biting into it knowing fully what to expect: blueberry or cranberry-orange perhaps, but not potato salad or hot dog bits.

Modeling my new mittens… er, I mean muttons in Yoyogi Park. :D


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