heartbroken and terrified, i have cried the past two days. a lot.
over the course of this election, i have wanted to share this numerous times, but i couldn't muster the courage. sitting on the edge of our bed this morning with tears in my eyes and a huge weight on my heart i realized that what we all need (regardless of our place on the map) is courage. the courage to stand up for what is right. the courage to share, even if it's painful, because there's comfort in solidarity and because awareness can and will foster change.
in the wake of the leak of "locker-room talk" of grabbing women "by the pussy", kelly oxford urged women to tweet their experiences of sexual abuse in an effort to form a community of feminist support.
it's not a tweet and i'm a few months late, but…
three years ago while on assignment in italy, i missed my 4AM pre-arranged ride to the airport. in a city where i didn't know the language, didn't have cell service and no one was awake, i panicked and flagged down the first (and only) vehicle that resembled a taxi. in a fluster, i sat in the front seat and proceeded to fall apart, unsure if i would make my flight home. this was the first time the male driver decided it was okay to touch me - he groped my thigh and tried to soothe me in italian. this was not okay, i told him so and had to physically remove his hand. the second time happened once we made it to the airport - he gave me my luggage and before i had a chance to realize what was happening, my ass was in his hand. it wasn't an accidental brush, or even a small tap, it was a full on, woman-parts-violating, aggressive squeeze. in my need to put as much distance between us as possible, as quickly as possible, i hurled a "FUCK! YOU!" and ran, completely forgetting to get a cab company name or license plate. once i was inside, i broke down for the second time that morning, not knowing it wouldn't be the last.
i arrived home safely and without further incident, but when i dropped in to the firm i had been working for and shared with my boss what had happened, i was put in a position that many women know too well. my boss, a male, laughed and joked, chalking it up to "italian men being italian men". not only did he minimize and rationalize having my body invaded, but he also laughed and urged me to share the story when a new person entered the office. i felt devalued, deflated and dehumanized. i was a professional woman who had just flown across an ocean for work, reduced to a funny anecdote on "the italian male". i broke down that night too.
i know that this is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what sexual-assault and rape victims have endured, but ANY unsolicited physical or verbal attention is W.R.O.N.G. - no. matter. the. magnitude. what saddens me most is how synonymous it is to the female-experience (ask any woman you know, i'm sure she will have at LEAST one story to tell you), how "accepted" and "normal" it is that our bodies are just there to be taken advantage of in this way, and how unfair and scary gender inequality is.
the fact that a man so openly misogynistic, (racist, homophobic, bigoted, the list goes on) has become the president of such an influential country has absolutely crushed me. it's maddening and frustrating and heart-wrenching to no end. to think of the fear of the HUGE group of people (women, people of colour, LGBQT, and on and on and on) who will be affected by this is crippling to a point of almost giving up.
i come back to the word "courage" again, and i've seen it pop up all over the place today. in the face of great despair, there are people everywhere coming together and it's encouraging.
from neko case's twitter:
"Time to get gayer, blacker, browner, lgbt'er, indigeounous'er and WOMANER than ever before! There's more of us, humanity. Mobilize with <3"
and it's TRUE - now is not the time to give up, now is the time to fight like hell and make the most noise. i know that it's not my country, but to think that it won't affect us too is both naive and dangerous thinking. it's time to band together with our southernly neighbours of all walks of life and let them know that we are here and we are with them, even if #imnotwithhim.
if you're looking for a place to start, below is a link to a list of organizations that can use your support, and is one of the best ways for us to stand alongside those who need our help:
we did it. 406 days as husband and wife.
i've been trying - for weeks - to write this post and every time, i erase it and start all over. i just cannot find the words to describe any of it. at times it feels like our knot was just freshly tied (newlywed-feels forever!) at others, it feels like this is the way it's always been - easy, straightforward, no bullshit, barebones LOVE.
it's been a year.
pretty piddly in the grand scheme of FOREVER, but still cause to celebrate, amirite?!
this year has been an incredible one. i've learned more about myself and what it means to be me than i have since i was a sulky, studded-belt-with-everything, loud-music-listening, boy-crazy teenager. and (i think) it's partly because i've given so much of myself to myles, to our marriage. in turn, he has done the same and i've received so much of him, from him, my soulmate. we've grown up, but have grown together. we've laughed more, loved deeper, had a brush with death* and bounced back with even more life. we're passionate and we hold romance in high esteem. (even if it sometimes comes in the form of a "greasiest hits" mixtape?) we make our own fun wherever we go (examples include but are not limited to: doctor's visits, cleaning a disgusting apartment, the most redundant class @ the TPL), but also carve out time for ourselves to sharpen our respective crafts and recharge our batteries.
i can't pretend that our life together has always been a fairytale, but it has definitely been a dream come true. (dreams aren't always perfect, are they?) we can be real with each other - open, honest and raw - something i am so grateful for. we can show each other our ugliness, our innermost selves without fear of judgement or scrutiny. although we may not always like what we see in each other, our love is always there at work behind the scenes, softening us where there could be more give and strengthening us separately so we work better together. we've learned time and time again that communication. is. key. it's in these times that we really learn what we're made of - ourselves, each other, our relationship. it's not perfect, but what is? it's a thrill to wake up next to a man that loves me fiercely, that i cannot wait to talk to at the end of a long day, and one that i most certainly cannot keep my hands off of. even if he does eat all the chips sometimes... o.O
in short: marriage has made me a better person with a love that grows exponentially every day. but enough of all that.
a year IS cause to celebrate and celebrate we did! in montreal! by eating! eating everything good! like smoked tomatoes!
below are a handful of frames from our long weekend en ville. one of the rolls i shot was an ancient spool of kodak royal gold 1000 that was over twenty years old, soooo... shit. i was able to save a few but the rest i'll have to keep on the inside of my eyelids. they'll be there when i close them to remember what we did at 365 days, husband and wife.
she's one of my favourite kids to be around, to love on, to miss. also, she loves fruit and took the second photo.
(and a few weeks early, too. was saving [some] of this to spew on our first anniversary. which is coming up. in a few weeks. what?!?)
i feel like instagram may have squashed that "thing" i had going. you know, taking a camera with me everywhere, not leaving the house without some form of picture-taker in my bag and a spare roll, yada yada yada.
times are different now though, and i feel like i may have lost something along the way. which is weird, because it was that very tool that got me extra-fired up for photography again. that same tool that forced the purchase of my first iphone in 2011. that same tool that got me through one of the hardest years of my life. i wrote about this a few years ago, when instagram was still in "the good ol' days" as some have come to speak of wistfully. bonds were formed easily, engagement was genuine, new friends were made - both online and in person. it was a creative outlet that made sense for me, a place where like-minds could find each other. and it stayed that way for a while.
in the five years that i've had instagram it's seen its fair share of changes and it's definitely come a long way since the OG days (i like to call this my "all-earlybird-all-the-time-but-then-there-was-hipstamatic-and-bokeh-filters" phase) when you had to have the app to see the photos. i posted whatever the hell i pointed my phone at and was generous with the time and care i took when browsing, processing and interacting with other excited photographers in this new digital age. of course it started small at first - locals, friends, family - but soon, i broadened my scope and there were photos from all over the world filling my feed. i began to use a more critical eye for what i posted, stepped up my game when editing on my phone and started to craft a feed that was cohesive and had flow, but was still real and told the small stories of my life. along the way, people (in the thousands!) noticed and started to follow along. what a trip. the follows and likes were rolling in, and i kept on being me, posting both the good and disappointing things that life threw at me. but more and more, i was reaching for my phone to take a photo when i used to pick up my camera and carefully compose something to be captured in 35mm. after a while, it was all the time. it was fun and novel for a bit, but there was this pressure to keep up "a good feed" (whatever that even means) and even though i wasn't there to rack up, the more the numbers jumped, the more pressure i felt. and then it started to evolve into a popularity contest - who knew who, who's dog you've met, what brands you were working for, how big the paycheques were, who could travel the most and being jealous of those paycheques and travel and everything else others had and i didn't. bots, spam and trolls became a thing, and so did comments like, "your life is so perfect" (barf, no one has it all together) and it really started to turn me off and wish for more of what it was like when i first joined.
but... it wouldn't be long after this (five months if anyone's counting) that i met my dream dude and he couldn't have been further from that online world that i had carved out for myself. he was a man that had no idea what instagram was, who @bkhphoto was and barely spent time online. (unless you count sending short emails about a dog i was babysitting?) myles was a man with a blackberry that could make phone calls and receive texts. that's it. and i liked it.
at first it was an adjustment - he wasn't ever on his phone, so i didn't want to be on mine either. soon it became more routine, to just be together and check my feed and things later, or even just leave it altogether. i was still taking photos and posting, but not to the same degree or frequency. i became a little more guarded online and started enjoying everything more thoroughly instead of making sure i "got a picture for instagram". without knowing it, over the last three and a half years myles has taught me how to be present with the ones i love, how to live in the moment when big things are happening and how to enjoy a concert without taking a photo. i have him to thank for more vivid memories because i've been seeing things through my own eyes and not a screen. don't get me wrong, i was still documenting (and will continue to), but in a different way. careful and deliberate, not furiously snapping just to make sure it was covered. what a gift, to have your eyes opened and feel like you're really living instead of existing in order to create content.
my camera roll has been pretty thin for quite some time now and it doesn't bother me. i have myles to thank for bringing me back to how things used to be - even if but just a little - because i just don't care anymore. and in that, it's cleared my head and made me remember what it was like before there were a million apps to check and things to keep track of. maybe it's because of all the ways in which it's changed, grown, become more mainstream, or maybe it's because it was a phase. i don't know… but my feelings towards it (it = online life in general) have changed and grown as well. i don't want to be that person that has to have their phone out all the time. i don't want to be that person that has to take a photo or snap a chat of every little thing i do. my life doesn't exist online, it exists in the now and i don't want to waste it worrying about crafting posts that mean nothing to me "but might get a lot of likes", or not sharing things that actually matter to me. so (!) back to posting whatever the hell i want and focusing more on the discipline of snagging not-so-insta real-life moments on film. back to waiting a week for rolls of results. back to drinking coffee while it's hot and not photographed. back to announcing things to friends with a phone call instead of a tweet. back to appreciating more of what i have and wanting less.
i still get misty thinking about this weekend...
with the i do's and a newlywed brunch for two said and done, we made our way to muskoka to spend a few secluded days together. our honeymoon wouldn't be until the dead of winter, but still, we wanted to do something special.
we were off to a rocky start with a flat tire on our rental, but made the best of it while we waited - our first coffee date! as husband and wife! in a walmart mcdonald's!
our new tire in tow, we made it to our cozy one room cabin on the lake and the rest was magical. sunning and swimming, cat naps and champagne, cooking outside, ice cream cones and slow dancing under the stars… all the while a feeling of elated giddiness, both serene and sometimes silly, surrounded us from all sides. we burst into happy tears more times than i could count and couldn't stop talking about the fun we'd already had and all that lay ahead in the many years to come. to feel so lucky is something i hope we always cherish. to be so in love, something i know we'll always be.
it's hard to put into words, the happiness i feel - have felt - for the last two weeks.
but maybe i could try?
never before has my face hurt like this, in a good way, from all the smiling. nor has my heart felt so full that i'm sure with each passing day, it couldn't grow more or it would burst. or maybe it already burst? and it's the little pieces of my heart that have made their way into every other crevice of my being - my body, my mind, my soul - that have got me feeling so unequivocally elated.
our engagement was short. we just didn't want to have to wait. also, it really doesn't take long to plan something if your only concern is a day that reflects you as a couple, because then... it's easy. you already have all you need and the rest are just details. we didn't want big, we wanted to be surrounded by people we loved, to eat well, dance hard and raise a couple glasses. so we put four months on the clock and we were off.
the planning was a easy-breezy and things (more often than not) kind of just... fell into place. "only four months? you should know better!", "that's not long enough is it?!", and "HOW?!" were among the many responses we got (followed closely by, "are you pregnant?!?") when people asked about the date. i had to laugh it all off. being in the wedding biz myself, i've seen days like these come together in a month, so i knew we'd be fine. i bought my dress, myles bought a non-suit and his favourite new shoes. my mom made jam and dad deck built a bar. cake flavours were decided and monogramed pins were pressed. florals were gushed over and we secured toronto's finest for our taco bar. we compiled 7 hours of our favourite tunes and bought a crazy amount of chips for our late-night snack. beer store research, wine tastings, sangria recipes. videographer wins, fireworks tutorials, hair and makeup practice. our close friend worked her magic with the design of our day and brought our vision to life. (secret) vows were written, macramé was tied, engagement shots taken and wedding bands procured. all the while, we never lost sight of the reason for all these things, all these plans. in those four months we laughed together, we danced together and we loved each other deeper than ever. it didn't come without a few struggles (like a last minute photographer switch-up due to a broken ankle - yikes!) but we knew all that really mattered was our officiant showing up and our four hands holding tight.
everyone will tell you that your wedding day will zoom by faster than you think and they are so right. i prepared myself, ready to take as many mental pictures as i could. after all, the whole experience was still so very surreal for me. it felt foreign, like i was living in a dream - my dream, the one i'd been dreaming for the last 30 years. that morning, i woke up and finally accepted that it was all coming true. it was my turn, it was our day. the tent went up, the tables were set, (by cauldron, no less! a memory that will forever make me laugh), the flowers arrived, the grounds transformed. family, friends and our amazing bridal party buzzed around like bees, happy to do even the smallest things like change a flat tire on our rental, rake wet grass or light a million candles. already i could feel my emotions running away and my heart starting to swell. i just kept thinking, all these people are here for us, because of us. feeling so supremely and overwhelmingly loved is something i never want to forget.
and then all of a sudden, it was time. time for curls and mascara. time for the dress and a crown of blooms. time for the reveal and time for the aforementioned heart-burst to begin…
i watched from the window as our photographer jessica placed myles in a field of queen anne's lace and then with weak knees, i was out the door and making my way towards my husband-to-be.
"are you there?" he asked.
"i'm here," i said, my voice shaking.
he turned and it was magic: tears streaming down our faces, "i love yous" and kisses by the dozen, a deep understanding that this was it. from here, the day started to slip into fast forward, only slowing down for a few short moments.
the first was my ride to the aisle with my dad, where any nerves i had melted away as we bounced along oro sideroads, father and daughter in a pickup from the 40's. to the guests' surprise, we pulled up ceremony-side, just in time for the glittery bridge in fleetwood mac's everywhere. he opened my door and i took his hand, proud to call this incredible man my dad and insanely excited to walk with him towards the love of my life. time whizzed on, kleenex was in dire need and before i knew it it was official. we sealed it with a kiss and confetti popped over us, mr. and mrs. deck (!) as april wine let it be known that tonight is a wonderful time to fall in love. (amen!) clinking glasses, celebratory hugs, stolen kisses, instant photos, plates piled high with tacos, plates piled high with cake, zoom, zoom, zoom...
time slowed a second time as we made our way into the sunset for just a few more photos. we held each other and commented on how huge the love felt that day. everyone we loved in one place? everywhere we looked, a familiar smile? all for us? what an incredible blessing. we never wanted it to end.
heartfelt speeches, hearty laughs, calling cards, and stellar dance moves followed and then finally... we watched fireworks explode through misty eyes, hand in hand, husband and wife.
to say that our day was all we could have hoped for would be an understatement. it was so much more. we professed our love and made our promises in the presence of people that mean the world to us and to us, that was the most important part. what was fun was being able to do it in an environment where we felt at home, one we knew our guests would love. we put so much of ourselves into the smallest details and it was so worth it. how incredibly special to have a day that's 100% about the love you share with your soulmate!
i don't even know where to start with how thankful we feel for everything and everyone, but i know we'll get there by the time our thank you cards arrive. :) for now, we're still coasting on that newlywed wave, so blissed out and not ready to come back down to earth just yet.
best. day. ever.