Rome | Venice 2014

Created by Halloran Murdock– one of my two fine TA’s on the final leg of my undergraduate adventure.


 

(ps- hey look, it’s me! on the plane at the beginning)

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June 17th, Burano Colors

derrick blends into Burano

 

I believe that I spoke a bit about Burano in an earlier post, but it’s just such a crazy place that I had to add more.
I mean, look at how well Derrick could blend into the outer wall of one of the houses?

 Yes, HOUSES. This wasn’t just a marketing ploy, used on the facades of small island shops; it was employed in residential areas as well.

Burano homes

 

 

Hanging clothes and other linens on lines outside was also a huge thing in Italy.  It really reminded me of being back in Japan, where we would have a clothes line outside in most places, like on the little back porch of our tenth-story apartment in Fukuoka-shi..

Even the buildings that are seemingly abandoned are still of this unique aesthetic.

 

burano door

 

Isola di Burano is such a charming little place, so much so that it makes me think well why don’t Americans take care of their buildings like this? Even Italy in general (okay, I only stayed in Rome and Venice, but..) keeps buildings that are hundreds of years old intact, preserved/renovated, and functioning.

 

burano street 2

 

And then there are the ones that seem to have been dragged out from inside of a cartoon.
But they’re still interesting.

June 9th – my morning coffee

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So this morning I was up promptly at 5:30am, despite the fact that I had only gone to bed (false: after a few minutes of attempting to sleep in this heat I was up with my camera again) at 1:30..
It’s now closing in on three o’clock and I’m still up working! I’m guessing that means the instant coffee I made this morning may have actually had some effect on me.  It was actually really good, despite having been made in an old microwave.

 

 

coffee jar close

My morning coffee while in Italy is always a bit.. unique. For the past six weeks I’ve been using an emptied jam jar for pretty much everything.  It took me a while, but I found instant coffee that is 100% Arabica beans- I hadn’t known it before coming here, but Italians don’t just use coffee beans in their coffee. They have caffe orzo- a mix of coffee beans and a grain. I forget which one orzo is (pretty sure it’s wheat), but it contains gluten so I always remember to steer clear.  I’m at the very end of a bottle of mixed coconut and rice milk, that I water down and heat up in my jam jar.
I’m actually really impressed by this instant coffee- it makes a pretty satisfactory cup o’ joe.

Since I was already up and had my camera out from shooting at ridiculous hours, I decided to take a photo of this particular morning’s concoction, and ended up extremely happy that I did so.  I even pulled out my tripod while my roommates went down to breakfast and took a few photographs of myself too.

Being the person behind the camera, I don’t generally end up with nice photos of myself.. so sometimes I indulge in a private and inherently embarrassing venture of “self-portraits” (I use quotes because technically, that’s what they are, but I really don’t see them that way).

Forgive me, yet again, as I haven’t the time to really write much- especially since I need to convert any images I plan to use to a smaller file type since I perpetually shoot in RAW.
But I leave Italy in three days! So while I may be crying, I guess the positive side is that I’ll have the time (to find a big girl job..) and the internet to resume writing and working with images, and therefore providing some form of entertainment for what sparse few come across Dusk Dawning.

Wish me luck as I power through my last ever undergraduate finals!

May 21st, Burano

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A classmate of mine took a photo of me.. taking a photo. It’s photo-ception, guys. So the first image is that photo of me (hi!) and the second is the photo I was taking (for my capstone/documentary photography/photojournalism project).

On Wednesday (May 21) all of the students from our school studying abroad here in Venice took a trip out to the island of Burano.  It was a bit of a ride, about 40 minutes each way on the Vaporetto (it’s like Boston’s MBTA or NYC’s MTA, but with boats).  We played the game Heads Up to pass the time on our rides, with a growing crowd of entertained and confused European onlookers (we hold a cell phone to our forehead, a word is displayed on the screen and everyone gives that person clues so they can guess the word; if you get it right you dip your head down and back up to move to the next word, and if you’re stuck, you throw your head back and then return to normal head-positioning in order to skip.  we obviously looked quite silly).

The island of Burano is known for two things. 
   a) its incredibly colorful arrangement of buildings
   b) its lace
– As you could imagine, for a group of young adults studying Italian history and documentary photography, it was a field-day of sorts. Just running around with our cameras and looking through all of the lace (yes, even the men.. although it was mostly for gifts for their girlfriends and mothers).

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I was super tempted to pick one of these up for my mother’s lovely neighbor Val, who is expecting her daughter Maya this summer!
But then I realized that she wouldn’t be big enough to fit into one this season, and would probably have grown too much by next summer to fit into it either..

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Unfortunately I didn’t buy anything, due to the inflated prices of tourist-poaching shopkeepers and my wallet’s still being in shock over the unexpected expenses of this trip.  Had I found something that I really loved, though, I would have pushed myself to purchase it.  I’ve decided that I will do that, while I finish up my stay here in Italy, as a graduation gift to myself.
I mean come on- I graduated from a five-year top-rated institution with my sanity intact, magna cum laude.
I need to learn to give myself a break and reward my efforts once in a while.

 

All in all, I had a lot of fun wandering around the small island (and by small, I mean take a ten minute walk from one side to the other), taking photographs with my newly-apropriated friends.

exchange of hearts

written after seeing a Reddit prompt:
When two people get married, their hearts are surgically exchanged.  You just filed for divorce.

It was all I could do to stay on my feet, gaping at my husband. This was ludicrous- how could he do this to me? I had never fathomed the man I had married could be so.. well, heartless.

Only six years ago we had exchanged our vows and our hearts. Literally. It is believed that love is only true if you are willing to entrust your heart to your partner; your other half.
It’s not that we’d been unhappy.. Simply disconnected. For the past few months it had become difficult to keep up a conversation with one another. Frightened, I had finally broken down into a puddle at my husband’s cold side. I asked him what had happened, and what I could do to improve our situation. He simply explained to me that he had been thinking.
Tom had pointed out to me that we had fallen into a neutral stalemate. We weren’t warring, but had somehow lost what held us together. Looking back, I came to agree, but I was scared. Would it be easier to continue living life, two people physically together but in all other ways alone? Or would it be our best hope to risk the break?

To divorce meant to unbind ourselves from our wedding vows.
To unbind ourselves from each others’ hearts.

Another surgery of that magnitude was utterly terrifying. That kind of thing was meant to be experienced just once in life.
Then again, I had always done well under anesthesia.
Then again, Tom and I were barely thirty years old.
We were pretty healthy people.
We could do this.
But it had to be soon.
Aging and organ transplants have not exactly been known to get along all that well.

Tom had held my hand as we met with our attorney, amicably signing papers and rationing out our worldly goods.
Tom had held my hand, assuring me that everything would be okay, right up until I had already fallen asleep on my gurney.

And now Tom was sitting in front of me, his elbows resting on his knees, as I bring my parcel into the house for the last time, still wearing my hospital band.

He tells me that he had been a bit less cautious with his health than he had ever let on.
He tells me that seven months ago he was diagnosed with a malfunctioning heart.

And he smiles at me, as he tells me this fatigue is only going to worsen.
Quickly.
And he smiles at me, as the first tear slips silently down my face.

Blue

Kerlir was my home; a hanging valley nestled between two large landforms of the Spinlocke Mountains.
Set on the edge of a ridge, our valley home had an incredible view. It widened into a plain of sorts, spilling over the edge of a cliff that dropped too far to scale or measure.

Thick, dark forests formed a curtain at the valley’s back.  To our sides, like blinders on carriage-bearing horses, rose our rocky guardians.  The two mountains had become something like gods to the people in my village; protecting us from the harsh northern winds of winter, the relentless burning of the summer sun.  Strong and tall, they watched over us, year after year.

I had thought of them more as demons, as I grew into a more- spirited– young woman.  They stood there, cold and distant, refusing to let me see the world outside of our valley, apart from the birds-eye view we gain at the cliff-edge.  Their sides were a slick, dark rock- Steep and impenetrable.

Our elders always warned against wandering into the forests.  The blackness emanating from their depths kept most out with no need for warning.  Only the men, armed with their axes and tools, would freely enter- and return.

A mighty river split the valley, flowing through the village, over the cliff-edge at its front.  During the winter it ceased flowing- it’s source cut-off; frozen, from a highland beyond the forest.
For this reason, winter’s end was always a time of incredible tension.  Our water supply would be reaching it’s end, and the water’s source would begin melting. While knowing this would allow our river to again flow into the valley, all were wary of… how.   The water’s return was unpredictable, sometimes trickling slowly after an especially cold year, while others, steadily gaining volume and back to the norm within a month.  Neither of these scenarios were our fears, though.
What we feared was the great flood; the onslaught of water after a large break in some far-off ice formation.  It had happened last when I was a small child, no higher than my father’s hip.  The water’s roar, the harsh snapping of thick tree trunks, the sudden surge of icy water.
That was what we feared.
That was why we remunerated.

The vernal equinox marked the coming of the waters.
Each year we had a festival, lasting for three days leading up until the equinox.
The first day was in honor of the Northern Mountain, guard against the winter winds.
The second, the Southern Mountain, guard against the summer heat.
The final day was of highest importance, honoring the river itself.  Attempting to sway its actions in our favor.

Every seventy-two years the festival was considered “most sacred”.   During the festivals of these years, attendance was strictly enforced, our garments the deepest blues, our adornments the finest jewels.  Children were harshly warned about insubordinate behavior and the consequences evoked, should they choose that way of being.
A temple would be raised at the height of the valley- where the dried riverbed meets the precipice, and the ending ceremony would be held at dusk on the third day.
A select group of elders ran the ceremony, leading the villagers in prayer to the river, citing poems of it’s greatness, and performing other slow, ritualistic motions in honor of the deity believed to be within.
These elders chanted and moved until the sun had dipped completely out of view from our valley’s tall perch- at which time they would begin the final, sacred, ending ceremony.

It was my twenty-second year upon this earth, when I encountered the most sacred of festivals.
I had been with my friends, eating freshly made street foods and watching the ceremonial dances that night, at the end of the third day.  It was such fun- my elderly neighbors had told me to commit every bit of this festival to memory, as most lived only to see one within their lifetime.
The sun was just beginning it’s descent in the sky as I separated from my friends to fetch some water for one of the elders- Making my way through the orchards, when the edges of my vision blackened, and everything went out of focus.  The blackness began to expand, and bright spots exploded behind my eyelids.

There was a sharp pain in my side, which spread like fire.  My eyes snapped open and my lungs expanded in what should have been an audible gasp.
But my mouth was covered and my eyes saw only darkness.
I willed my hands to uncover my face, only to find them bound.  The movement made me wince in pain, not that it was visible.
My eyes stung with tears, and my inhibited breathing was hard and ragged.  Someone was holding be tightly, a hand firmly grasping around my waist.
I focused on slowing my breathing, to tune into the sounds around me.
Chanting.
Louder than I had ever heard an elder chant.
Closer.

Suddenly the chant grew fierce, a harsh sentence in a language I did not understand.
And then suddenly a hood was lifted over my head, and I could see.
It was pitch dark with the exception of the torches, but I could tell where I was.

I was in the temple.
At the edge of the cliff.
I was in front of the villagers, standing together in blue robes; their dark faces staring out from under hoods of their own.
Although sure these were my people, they were unrecognizable to me.
Their glares were menacing.
They were shrouded figures.
In this moment, they were forms I did not know.

I strained my neck towards my captor, a large man in an especially ornate robe.  All I could see of his face was his mouth, set in a hard line.  The muscles of his jaw were flexed, as if he were clenching his teeth.
Now another man stepped forward from beside him, his hood hovering far, shrouding his entire face in darkness.  He carried with him a sapphire encrusted scythe.
He came to stand about three feet in front of me, slightly ajar so as to allow the audience to see me still.  He began to murmor, words I cared not to listen to.  My mind was already reeling, trying to comprehend the situation.
But then I heard the word “sacrifice”.
And my back broke out in a cold sweat.
He raised the scythe, poised to swing, when I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.
One of the robed figures disbanded from the line that stood beneath the temple, rushing in my direction.
The man with the scythe swung around, catching the figure with the edge of his blade.
The figure had barely dodged in time, allowing for only his hood to be caught in the weapon’s path.  It ripped and fell aside, revealing a dark-haired man in a mask.  He acted quickly, weaving around the armed man before he could prepare a second strike, and hurdling straight into me, forcing us both over the cliff.

In the impact his mask was shifted to the side, revealing a sliver of his handsome face.
A sense of relief flowed over me, as I watched the corner of his mouth slip up into a smile, and his dark eyes caught a bit of light from the moon as we fell.
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canis lupus

So last night I had another of my (incredibly numerous) odd/ridiculously detailed dreams.
Have you ever tried to write out your dreams? It’s actually really difficult to put them properly into words (or at least, it is for me!).

Something is happening.
I am running.
I don’t know what led up to this.

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Road Trip Crazy

Seriously-
When I came back from school for my mini-summer break, my mother dropped all my stuff off at the house up North, while I spent the weekend in the city with my boyfriend before going back to the house(which is on the market, so it’s all a bit crazy).
And included in my belogings were my vitamin supplements, PT bands, and prescriptions..
Awesome..

As you may know (or probably not, since, well, I’m not a large internet presence, and I tend to write more peronal things on my journal-ish wordpress, which is locked so only I can see it unless I invite you), I have to continuously be working at my health. It’s not something that is just granted to me like most. I can’t just eat whatever I want, or whenever I want. I can’t do all of the things I want or when or how.

I have to take various prescription medications, and have a record of popping tums like a kid would tic tacs. I have physical therapy (now) due to an operation I had to have done on my leg to be able to even “walk right again”.
But I digress-
I did not intend to get into why I needed to get my medical stuff from the house up North; just that I had to go up there.

So- On Wednesday night I took my pup (Lace) and drove up, alone for the first time, to the house. a 2.5 hour drive (aka 3+ for me). And I’m not a big fan of driving either. The next morning (yesterday) I drove us back down with my medical necessities in tow.
This morning at 6am myself, my mother, and her husband Ken left the house for VA, where my sister is graduating tomorrow. This is a fourteen hour drive.. Yikes.
So far we’ve gone, what, 6 hours? OH JOY.
Good thing I have my dramamine for carsickness..
I actually have a whole bottle of zofran up North still.. I left that, along with a few other prescriptions I don’t take daily, up there…

So ANYWAY, because apparently I have a ridiculously short attention span today- we’ll arrive in VA tonight, then leave again tomorrow after the graduation. We’ll get back home on Sunday.
At some point next week I’ll need to go back into the city for physical therapy and to meet with my academic advisor again.
I’m hoping he’ll have an availability on Wednesday or Thursday so I can just stay. On Friday, Preston (boyfriend- yay) is bringing me back home with him to New York (He lives on Long Island!). I’m so excited! I really don’t even care about the travel for that one- I just want to go!
I’ve never really spent time in the city there before. I have family in the countryside there, and the last time I was in NYC it was between horrible bus rides back up to MA from VA (I was loaning my car to my sister for the summer).
Also- I’m excited that he’s bringing me home! I really want to see what his family is like, and see his sister’s bearded dragons and try some of his grandparents’ home-cooked chinese food. It’s always better home-made.
and maybe talk to his Dad about his work! It really interests me, especially as it is art related (aha!).
He’ll be introducing me to his friends from home too- I hope everyone likes me (friends and family).
He’s been such a dear- planning it all out, finding places that I can eat food that I haven’t been able to eat since we found out why I was sick, finding places to bring me to and things we can do around the city.

I got myself a good one.

I, The Rabbit

During the last semester at school I ran out of pages in my journal.  Instead of going out and finding a new one, I started a private blog with wordpress, that only I can see.  An online-diary of sorts.
I hate to be one of those youths that thinks (imagine me saying this in a dull, mopey & monotonous voice), “I write poetry, I’m so artsy” but it’s true- sometimes I do write poems, or lyrics to songs without a tune.

And a couple of them have ended up on my little private blog.

It’s kind of weird to think about it, I don’t just sit down and think “okay, time to write a poem” and plan it all out.  If I write one it’s just because it popped into my head.  Wedged it’s way into my conscious mind and refused to leave me alone until I put pen to paper.

So here is one of those poems, written quite recently on December 20th, 2012.

I, The Rabbit

Out from nowhere
fate would have it.
You a hawk
and I, the rabbit.
Swooping down, a friend or foe?
Even now I do not know.
Dare the rabbit pose the question,
‘of us, what is your impression’?
Fear, it killed the rabbit’s voice-
Stuck, the prey must make a choice.
Dare it chance to lose your favor,
with the hope of something greater?

 

 

Kristen LaMier

been a while

It’s already September 27th (2012).  My gosh, time is a ridiculous thing.  It’s either barely ticking by or it’s flying.  I feel lucky though, that (for once) for me, it’s flying.
I’m back at my university in Boston, after an incredibly hard semester last fall and a medical leave in the spring/summer.  My major is changed- from East Asian Studies to Art & Design.  Instead of cramming every bit of information into my notebook, I actually get to (not only work, but) hold conversations with my classmates (who, by the way, speak English. Well. And mostly as their first language).  I don’t think people understand how much easier that makes it to MAKE FRIENDS. Conversation is completely necessary.
Sure, I get stressed sometimes (I honestly feel like the village idiot in my photography class, since everyone else has done the prerequisites at this school while my last photo teacher was simply awful- we learned NOTHING) but I feel that I’m dealing with it better than last year.  Panic attacks? None yet this semester (and we’re what, five weeks in?)!  Which makes me so incredibly happy.  Last fall I was having them at least 3 times per week, and then even on medical leave I was having them (albeit less frequently).
I’m working at the university library, and working out almost every day (“insanity” workouts, running on the treadmills in my building, and my “homework” for physical therapy).  It’s not just that I’m physically exerting myself, but also improving mental health and whatnot, so I try to keep it up.  Every 2 or 3 days, though, I have to rest because my insides just can’t take so much action, and I get sick if I do something.
I’m living on campus again, and it’s so much better than the pit I was in last year.  There’s air conditioning, a dining hall, more than one elevator, lights(in my room), and working heat.
A big throwback, though, is that Witchaya (my man of 3+ years) is on co-op, and so he’s not living in the city.. So I can get pretty lonely.  I mean, growing up as a triplet, with step-sisters and dogs, there has always been someone to come home to at night.  Over the summer I at least had my pup, Lace, waiting at home for me.  But now it’s just me.

I wish I could have a dog here.

Alas, it’s kind of late and I have to get to the Museum of Fine Arts when it opens tomorrow morning.  Good night to anyone who happens to read this- I’ll definitely try to post more frequently on here.