i like to run. and photograph things. often at the same time.
i like to run. and photograph things. often at the same time.
somewhere between Montreal and Bangkok, thanks to the ever reliable unreliability of United Airlines, Mat and I found ourselves with 12 hours in the small town of Narita, Japan.
it has been almost 2 months since that long terrifying trip over the cold dark Pacific. i was actually grateful for a break from sitting in a plane or in an airport.
already nearly 24 hours into the trip with delay after delay, we finally arrived in Narita at 8:45pm. which is apparently close to Tokyo, but not close enough. first was an airport bus to some Hilton nearby that they were putting us up in. after throwing our bags down and brushing our teeth, we went downstairs to get some information from the concierge on the fastest way to Tokyo. there was a lot that was lost in translation, but they understood what we were trying to do and made it clear that it probably was not the best decision, and there there was only one more train out to Tokyo that night. but we were determined, willing to stay up all night, so they obliged, showed us the most confusing map i have ever seen, and called us a cab to get to the train station. the driver did succeed in making it to the station with just a few minutes to spare, the train still sitting there, so we run to the ticket booth, where they only took yen. the man pointed us to an ATM, we get there, and decide, at that point, to give up. with no clue how to take money out, and the sleep deprivation hitting me / knocking some sense in to my fuzzy head.
so we step back outside, right in the middle of ‘downtown’ of the tiny town, Narita.
we are immediately convinced that it was the right decision, and both feeling famished, we step into the first restaurant we pass. as soon as we step inside, i sort of wanted to leave…it was so tiny, with only two older men eating there and two women behind the bar, which was the only seating. there is a lot of smiling going on, and a lot of repeating the word, vegetarian, vegetarian…finally we think the women gets it, and just hoped for the best while taking in the scene. feeling way out of my comfort zone and not sure what to do, one of the women, wearing traditional japanese dress, brings us hot sake. as soon as i take a sip, i feel a little dizzy and happy, and not so concerned anymore that we don’t belong. the men started talking to us in Japanese, and we just laughed and smiled. luckily the woman who brought us sake spoke a little english and said they wanted to know where we were from. canada! oooh hockey! olympics! more smiling and nodding. she kept the sake coming, along with little unknown delicacies we devoured, then a bowl of noodle soup, which i could have eaten seven more bowls of. we take a lot of photos, one group one, exchange emails, and a lot of hugs and a lot more smiles, then we leave.
downtown Narita is quiet. the streets are narrow, winding, with dark figures moving around the alleys. there are lanterns hanging, colourful signs, and a lot of red. it’s six degrees Celsius, which feels like bliss coming from -30 in Montreal. the air is so fresh, i feel like i haven’t been able to breathe this well in a long time.
after a bit of night-creeping, we wind up in a karaoke bar called The Cage, where it definitely lived up to its name. it feels like everyone in town is here. it is so crammed, with standing room only, there is a mix of japanese, and a lot of tourists. i check to see if there’s wi-fi and there was, so we catch up on our online world a bit, and some drunk Brit jerk who is there on his honeymoon… promptly tells us to get off our phones. Mat kindly tells him to please respect our choices. brit guy then sings ‘total eclipse of the heart’, mat sings ‘slim shady’. we leave.
japan has now moved into my top 5 places i want to go next. i had a bit of an uneasy feeling leaving for Thailand the next morning…
I’m leaving for Thailand in the morning. it’s been 15 months since i last left the continent and I’ve been bad at sharing what i have been privileged enough to see. we live in a land of debt and austerity where nothing is certain, and even though globe trotting probably isn’t the traditionally wisest investment, my soul aches for it and so every now and then despite my better judgment i find myself in a plane overlooking clouds and sunsets…
maps have always fascinated me. i could spend hours, days, studying them, walking the streets in my imagination…and sometimes google earth. Thailand and Turkey have long been on my list of places that i want to wander through the most. if i could, i think i would be happy to start over in a new country every year. learn a new language, study new architecture, wear out hundreds of pairs of shoes. but for now, all i can do is go somewhere for a moment, walk as much as i can, seeing so much until my eyes hurt.
arriving in Istanbul, my senses were hit with so much, i probably needed another month to take it in. i typically process things very slowly…like when I’m in NYC and exit the subway, I like to take a minute to let myself get slammed with every smell, every sound, every color, all at once. only in Istanbul, it’s like that times 18 million. 18 million people. i honestly hadn’t done enough research, and I was not aware of this number. this city shattered my expectations. beautiful textures, moments, so much life around every narrow corner, with warm slices of yellow light sneaking in its crevices.
and if you love cats, you will love it even more. they are like royalty here. i actually dedicated an entire post to the cats of Istanbul.
for some reason, i think Istanbul, like Montréal, gets overlooked. if it’s not in your top 5 places to go, please adjust your list. it will always be a place i can’t wait to go back to. hopefully over and over.
and since i am part city mouse and part country mouse, it’s always necessary to escape away and see some of the more remote areas. a day trip to Ephesus (where all I wanted to do was sleep in the hot sun on the ampitheatre steps), a few hours breaking into a 14th century castle in Selçuk, had a beer at the Temple of Artemis, and spent two days hiking/walking/drinking coffee/taking photos in the middle earth feeling town of Cappadocia, where we slept in a cave and accidentally missed out on the best place in the entire world to ride in a hot air ballon. next time, turkey, next time.
Tiffany Ayalik. actress, model, from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. She was in town for Tableau D’Hôte Theatre's latest show, Sedna, so I jumped at the chance to spend a few hours with her and my camera. This girl is a perfect mix of sweet and tough, and made me laugh all afternoon. I feel extra Canadian when I am with her, and am very much looking forward to next time.
as i was in the middle of an organizing frenzy in my room tonight, i came across some old emails that my mother printed. emails i had written to her when i first arrived in Italy for a semester abroad.
the date was January 28, 2004.
coincidentally, on the same day in 2010, i landed in Montreal to make the city my home.
no wonder i get so antsy this time of year.
New York in December. it’s a tradition Mat and I have. ever since the first year when we wound up there just weeks after we met. somehow it has worked out every year so far…though this year wasn’t looking likely. until i came home from work early on Friday and suddenly we were on the night bus a few hours later….
i wasn’t expecting to post any photos from the trip. i felt they were too forced…but after I took a closer look, I found so many little stories going on in the photos…little slices of the city and so many of the reasons i love it so. Mat and I were constantly passing the x100 back and forth, so the photos are a mix of both his and mine.
hour 2: typical first stop in NYC…Café Gitane at our usual, the Jane Hotel in the West Village, with a cappuccino, tartine, and wifi…usually after having walked from the bus / train station. this time the bus…roughly 34 blocks. good thing we use only small back packs when traveling.
hour 3: full of caffeine to beat the all night bus fatigue…though energy never seems to be a problem in this city.
hour 4: walk along 6th avenue towards downtown
hour 5: one world trade
hour 6: Washington Sq. Park
hour 7: stop at Impossible Project for film and got one of my two Polaroids working again.
hour 12: post nap walk uptown to the theatre
hour 13: mad rush through times square to get to the Cort Theatre to see Waiting for Godot.
hour 16: pizza for a late supper while watching muppets in times square
very strange muppets in times square tonight…
then a guy filmed us for about 5 minutes solid and told us he was with CNN, laughing the whole time…
hour 17: attempt to walk back downtown, but finally jump in a cab instead
hour 31: after sleep, then brunch, then the Strand.
hour 37: after walking all day, grab the bags from the hotel, and walk back up to 42nd in the snow. a perfect moment.
i like who i am here.
a second later a snow plow driver got out of his truck to get Chinese food, saw us taking photos of the window and said, “now that is what I’d like to wake up to Christmas morning.”
one week in North Beach…
warming up in the warmest of light,
soaking in the sun-soaked blues,
blues found in skies, in saloons, and in self,
self meets self in familiar lines and city lights,
light lined books, light lined cafes, holiday lights, unseen lights,
feeling invisible in those bright chinatown lights,
converging architecture saturated haze, hiding some and brings to light others I’ve never seen,
others walking, others working, others talking, others quiet,
and finally, sleeping between darlings and the best late night tacos.
sleeping to sounds of narrow dive filled back streets and busy street club music,
passing through history, late night reflections
reflections of reality disappearing dreams.
waking to locals running steep inclines with envious ease,
laboring on roof tops, lost in linear landscapes,
not realizing the light in life, looking down, down hill,
down all those hills, and back up again,
back into that light, the changing light from street to street,
the same light disguised as night,
the kind of light you want to stay awake in, to keep it always.
we arrived in Istanbul late at night, exhausted, but with a strong urge to explore. resolving to wait until morning, i was still too anxious to sleep, as i was most of the trip, not sure if it was jet lag, or the foreign light begging to be chased. after a few hours of sleep, i awoke to the sound of the prayer call. it was still dark. i stayed in bed as long as i could, but at the first sign of light, i got up, spent some time on google maps to orient myself, and found the quickest route to the water. a few minutes later, we were navigating through tiny narrow streets, found the city wall, and passed through a gate, finally reaching the sea. we could see across to Asia. it was extremely windy on this site of the wall, and the warm air smelled of salt. the fisherman were already out with buckets full of fish.
after walking for a bit, we started seeing a lot of cats. first, three of them sitting on a bench as if they belonged there. then they just started coming out of the rocks, maybe waiting for the fishermen to share their catches. then we saw a kitten that is still breaking my heart. it was so tiny. some of the other, larger cats were being aggressive with it, but stayed away because it was with us. so we kept walking, and it just followed us. for a good 40 minutes…letting out the tiniest meows. i had to hold my breath to keep myself from scooping it up and putting it in my pocket. we stayed with it until we were a good distance from the other cats, then it just finally got too tired to keep up. i couldn’t even turn around and look, i heard its meows disappearing into the wind behind us.
fisherman and cats
i had no idea that Istanbul is also ‘the city of cats’. they are everywhere, around every corner, sleeping in shops, even lounging in cafes and restaurants.
cat at the door to the spice market, and cats living below the gourmet cat food stall.
even cats at the ancient city of Ephesus. so much sun to soak up here.
our last night in the city. we stayed up late with the locals in our hostel, then headed to our room to pack before taking a taxi to the airport. while packing, i heard this little muffled meow. i went to the window and found a kitten on the sill, heart break all over again. it was nearly impossible to walk away from this cat. i had to remind myself of what I discovered here, that in Istanbul, cats have really good lives. they might not have a home to go to every night, but the city is their home, and they are well respected, loved, and cared for. so i felt a little peace with leaving. a little. though, two months later, i wound up with two kittens of my own, so maybe this sparked something.
Happy birthday, little girls! This is Éclair on the left and Jack on the right. They were two months old when we first got them, and already had their strong little personalities.
Their favorite spot to watch the birds and squirrels. I promise to have cat proof screens for them by summer.
These two got us through one of the roughest years in awhile, and I am certain that winters from now on will be much more enjoyable with them to curl up with.
double parked trucks
pizza on porches.
sofas on heads.
we set out to capture the moving day moments, to be invisible to the turmoil, to document the disarray. at first hiding behind the disorder, the cardboard mountains, and heaps of scraps, to slowly make ourselves known, engaging, and partaking in the behind the scenes and makeshift methods.
in order to be as inconspicuous as possible, i used only my iPhone to record the day, then ran the images through the app ‘decim8’ to add a bit of the uncalculated, mixed-up, muddled messy drama.
to see the day through a clearer lens, check out Mat’s post.
we are hoping this becomes a yearly thing, as neither of want to be on the moving side of this day any time soon.
nearly four years in montréal, and this city keeps on giving me reasons to stay. this time, a four day festival celebrating street art, where local as well as international artists transform ‘the main’. 20+ muralists, 40+ activities, 8 expositions, collective art creations, an Osheaga dance party, street food and street fair on Blvd St-Laurent, throw in perfect sunny weather and i am in love.
between the sun, this festival, and a theatre festival going on, it seemed more people than ever were out and about, and left me missing the wide open spaces of home, as well as a strange spatial unbalance within myself. so i decided to take advantage of the feeling of being completely invisible, and hit the streets with my camera and a rare bold approach.
Squid Called Sebastian (belgium) + Stikki Peaches doorway ( montréal)
Other (toronto) + sidewalk painting
chess café, Pie, and Patati Patata, where you can get the tiniest tastiest burger in the city.
Paria Crew (montréal)
vintage stores on the main
men and their dogs
Wzrds Gng (montréal)
Omen (montréal), probably my favourite of the day.
this guy has so many beautiful murals around montréal, including my most favourite wall on Duluth (photo of me by mathieu perron)
BROKE I$ THE NEW BLACK
Jason Botkin (montréal) such a huge fan!
the always amazing EN MASSE (montréal)
PBR, hipsters, and wall by Gaia (new york)
Jeremy Schantz (BC) + fangirls
adding ‘street artist’ to my list of things i want to be when i grow up.
///////// a portrait of emma and the montréal underground ////////
after an evening of drinking wine with my good friend and fellow american living in montréal, Emma. we decided we needed a little pick me up after the long, dark winter months. we wanted something that speaks to our struggles of having completely uprooted our lives to come here, something that conveys the constant movement, the continuous learning, and ultimately the joy and satisfaction we have found in ourselves with this new life here. it’s something we connected over from the moment we first met. and something no one else can really understand without experiencing it firsthand. i have long been in love with the amazing architecture of the metro system in this city, so we decided it was the perfect setting to capture our story.
ACADIE — blue line
ÉDOUARD-MONTPETIT — blue line
JEAN-TALON — blue + orange lines
PARC — blue line
PLACE-SAINT-HENRI — orange line
VILLA-MARIA — orange line
last weekend, i got to be part of the very first Week-end d’art mobile in Canada, at the musée des beaux arts in Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke is a town located about 90 minutes east of montréal. it was my first time there, and i absolutely fell in love with its charm, its hills, the urban decay, and waterfalls right in the heart of downtown. we arrived the night before, just as the sun disappeared into the river.
i was presenting my mobile photography along with five other artists whose work i have long admired. one of them happens to be my life partner, Mat (pictured above). i am honestly not sure i could have done this without him pushing and encouraging me all along the way, as i have an extreme case of stage fright. but i guess i did it, and though i don’t remember much of it, and it was nowhere near as theatrical and animated as Mat’s, i think it was OK. the participants were so warm and welcoming and interested, and gave my confidence the boost that it needed.
this is Isabelle, aka Miss Pixels. my love and admiration for this woman is no secret. i actually just want to be her. she has a style all her own, while continuing to reinvent herself as an artist. she travels all over the world showing and talking about her work, yet still finds beauty in the fields in rural québec.
this is Sven, aka Pixetoile. he is from France, brushes his teeth two times a day, and uses words in amazingly creative ways. i love to learn new french words from him.
this is Hubert, the son of Erik, aka beckibecko, the man who organized this event, and sadly i didn’t get any portraits of. next time, erik! (you too, Jean-François!) Hubert and i conversed mainly in franglais, him practicing his english, and me, my french.
this is Simone. with one of Miss pixels’ hashtags. a very willing and adorable photo subject.
this is Jeremy. the son of Miss Pixels. he seemed quite used to being photographed and worked the hashtag very naturally.
silhouette of Simone and Jeremy in action
overall, the experience was quite exhilerating. and not just because it was my first time presenting my moblile art, but the community just blew me away, with their acceptance and genuineness. after months of feeling stuck in a creative rut, i actually felt something coming back to life within me, some spark, some desire to teach and help others do something that i don’t fully understand myself, and a strong confirmation that this is the place I am supposed to be. that good things are happening here in québec, and that i want to be a part of it, and that it will always challenge me. also, serious love and respect for the man who has been beside me through it all. i honestly don’t know where i would be without him. he gives me way too much credit in his process…i wasn’t expecting it and it did bring me to tears. but there is no one else i would rather create more with in this life, and i feel we are just getting started. avectoi toujours.
video made by TENEBRIO Images