June 13, 2016

Words collected lately::

Over that ridge and beyond that crest there lies in wait a certain life for us. The sharply sloped hillsides come together where the brook still tumbles jovially through cedar groves in the summer.

There’s a life for us lying on our backs in the meadow, full of lemonade and sharing kisses. A mandolin near your feet still singing sweetly by itself in my head.

There’s a life for us where our arms and legs ache from work at the end of the day, not our eyes and ears. Small white parachute puffs lean with the wind and ascend with their seeds, seeing us as just specks below, happy and at peace.

There’s a life for us where you looked at me on that afternoon we now laugh about, scooting around a crowded shopping cart with your hands full of vegetables.

There’s a life we created in those daydreams, nearly passing out on the couch after one of our too-big dinners. It’s amazing we still made this life a possibility in between the cloudiness of empty wine bottles and bed sheets.

There’s a life for us I’m not afraid to describe… to rip apart its pages and write them once more all over, revised. One hundred times I’ll paint these hills and trees and you can tell me what to change, and every time you’ll see yourself beneath them, happy and at peace.

This life I make still lies waiting, its pop-up pages just needing a curious tug from your licked finger. That moment… that subtly lingering, inquisitive smile is all it takes, and there we’ll be, lying on our backs full of lemonade and sharing kisses.
C.McClean

June 13, 2016

Daybreak creeps across our cloud of bed sheets,
and from underneath, the golden circles in your chandelier
make crossed figures like stick men and asterisks;
we float easily in time between my business suits and suitcases
and your grey camera backpack.

You’re the accidental legend, Parisian harlequin,
elusive in plain sight, intolerant of superficial tourists or prize fighters;
you call me calming, tether, man.

I’m the pensive sketcher, buried with books and structure,
campfire guide, patient and kind;
I call you canvass for kisses, artist and muse, inspiration.

In chance orbits, we’ve converged as keen observers geared for service,
heralds of sincerity, products of family yet pathfinders.
We’re late-night whiskey by a picture-framed pier,
chilly wind-swept perch of grass above the city,
square pegs on purpose, outer- and introspective,
tender touching each other in these intersections.

So I pray for sacred lazy Sundays where my smile doesn’t fade
and my hands never tire of their game.
Providence placed a cloud in empty space where together we can float,
practice patience, speak love languages.

But far from fragile wisp, this cloud widens and solidifies,
connective comfort filling the gaps between our worlds as they circle.
C.McClean

June 13, 2016

A weekend with my bae’s family. I felt it was too soon. So many “but if’s” running through my head. The second I met them and said hello I was so glad I came. They are all things wonderful and I needed this deeper perspective of this man. I feel lucky to have met him.

If I can manage to not be the rebellious independent soul that I am and stop pushing him purposefully away I just may be able to have all the lovely things that I can sense are awaiting me with him. Calm down child and. just. breath.

I say you – bright eyes, quiet lips, Keenly observing my every breath.
I dare look you in the eyes for I fear to see the bright stars and reflected magic in them.

You say me – a fine bottle of moet and sunshine on a cloudy day.

I say you – the possible and hoped for – light joy freedom – love.

You say me – will hold my hand if I let you.

I scream you – how can you be so sure

You say me – here are 20 reasons why.

Words collected lately::

“I will stand in your shadows and tell you I am not afraid of your dark.”

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl to break it’s shell.
and the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling!
At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.
The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.
-Rumi

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

by Maya Angelou

June 2, 2016

A year ago today I took my newly purchased costco mattress and plopped it down on the bare wood floors in my new and still empty bedroom. This was my new and first home in the three years. Three years where I slept on my parents couch, my friends extra mattresses, in countless airbnb’s, hostels, hotels. living out of a suitcase or with the same 5 outfits for months at a time. It earned me the nickname gypsy, countless stamps on my passport and memories that will keep my laughing to myself for a lifetime. I’m not done chasing my dreams or taking chances, but I am glad for the reprieve of space and the time to breathe and reprioritize what I want out of my “one wild and precious life”.

What I came up with is this – people. The people in my life, the people I meet when traveling, the people I get to interact with in a moment through a simple exchange and may never see again. More specifically, what that interaction looks like and what is the feeling I leave them with when I walk away.

As a wedding and portrait photographer for 10 years I have been commissioned to celebrate specific events in peoples lives with my camera in a beautiful way. It has been an honor to participate in these stories of triumph and love and even loss.

I want to celebrate people. I want to tell their story. I don’t consider myself a writer, it is something I typically run away from. My camera is my tool that I use. I strongly believe in the power of a photograph; What it is to be photographed, to see yourself, embrace yourself. To own your story. We all have a unique journey. I want to celebrate that.

My personal journey of the last 5 years has been transformative. It has given me the capacity of compassion and hopefully the ability to listen.

The most common heard question was “ where are you in the world? or “where are you going next? or my favorite “ you are so lucky” or even better, “I wish I could have your life.”

more on those later – but first I want to reflect on what it was like to have home, personal space and things again.

I’m still pretty gypsy despite having home. I honestly feel lazier now because the idea of staying in my bed as long as possible each morning is just so delightful. My space is bright, peaceful, calm and cozy. It brings me joy and reflects also the things that are me.

I have to work hard to maintain a routine and I’m still figuring what that looks and means for me and not anyone else.

I’m seeing a therapist, I prioritize my physical and mental health, I’m getting better at knowing my limits and I am drinking less. I am comfortable in my town, I know the good spots for food and drink and have a few friends that I can meet up with now and then.

This is my life and I am grateful.

I have plans for the future, hopes for the future, money in the bank, a car, a boyfriend (gasp), and freedom to be me.

I am grateful.

May 18, 2016

two marathon dates and a list of 20 reasons why he wants to see me again. This is what it’s like to meet a MAN. I fell to sleep and woke up with a massive smile on my face. It was uncontrollable.
Second date planned and I arrived full of anxiety and then the second I saw him it was gone. This is good I told myself. This is different. The end of date two was perfect. Perfect perfect in everyway. Two glasses of spilled water down my front amidst a first kiss that wouldn’t have ended otherwise. Hahaha…

Let it be. Enjoy.

May 2, 2016

He had a pair of the saddest eyes I’ve ever known.

Brief encounters and facebook posts. A few emails here and there, two long conversations. Friendly, kind.

I’m intrigued by his life and confused by his humbleness.

And hard to admit, I’ve been a little obsessed with the idea of him for a year now. At first I thought he was 25 so I gave it up. Then I found out he was 42! He was french, brown eyes, slightly taller than me, french nose, brown hair, attractive, a writer/dj from a creative family. Always has positive, kind things to say via facebook. I was almost confused when I had arrived to Paris and no effort or invitation to coffee or whatever was extended my way, after what i felt would have been natural considering our shared community.

My heart was pounding that day in florence when I knew he would be arriving soon. Finally I would have real face to face time with this mystery man whom I had contrived a small fantasy with. (What I didn’t expect was to have a connection with Joe while in Italy and so I was very distracted but wholly grateful for the time spent with him.) I tried my best to chat and get to know Arturo but I felt I like I was pulling teeth. I left Florence disappointed and restless with the exchange. After a conversation with a girlfriend I knew I would have to be the one to initiate anything and so I had to move forward and exhaust all efforts or forever be haunted by the idea of him.

An invitation to coffee on Monday was immediately and enthusiastically accepted as well as a returned invitation to a club he was playing at that weekend. I was delighted to be able to see him in his zone and he gave us the royal treatment and all; vip list and drink cards. He introduced me to a few other photographers – portrait and documentary reportage photographers that were friends of his and there the same evening. (Serendipity!) The people watching was amazing, the music was suburb. He walked me home and said good night. Again, I was a little confused. He wasn’t interested in me in the slightest. He wasn’t charming or gay. He was self assured but not catering or attempting to entertain me. Again, kind and friendly, but nothing more. I fell into bed still restless about our interactions. But, I still had tea to look forward to.

Rendezvous at Saint Paul, it was cold that day unlike the weekend before. We walked towards the Marais past shops that I knew all too well from my many many wonderings through the city. We walked up to a door that I had seen dozens of times before but never looked inside. A old charming tea house bustling with sounds of conversations and from the faint scrape of where the cup meets the saucer in between sips.

We talked of writing, photography, the night club scene he has been in for 20 years. I avoided the topic of the movie about his life that his sister made because it previously made him uncomfortable. We talked about being in stale environments and needing space to breathe. We talked about dogs and my travel stories. We talked about our connection to the art world and spoken word community in paris, About his upcoming move to Spain and his hope to start over and have reprieve. Not once did I see joy, inspiration or light come upon his face. His laughs came as a surprise even to him and they were few, short and almost forgotten as quickly as they had come.

I felt it and a saw it for the first time. Here was a man who was so deeply engulfed by some tragedy in his life that he has no light left in him. He was empty. He felt void. He was numbly walking through his current life with a hope of future restoration and solace in Spain.

In theme, we shared a kind and friendly au revoir. It was simple and quick as if we had exhausted all topics and had nothing left to say. I walked home through the Marais along the small streets and across Place des Vosges where the green leaves were beginning to sprout on the squared hedges. The sharpness of the vivid green made more intense by the grayness of the sky. In my mind I was mulling over the 2 hours we spent sipping tea and exchanging ourselves, really, for the first time.

My fantasy was gone, gladly so. I am able to walk away with compassion for my new friend and wish him well on his journey. And I onto mine.

April 22, 2016

Two whirlwind days in Amsterdam seeing old friends from Paris. A bike ride through the smaller towns Lisse, Haarlem and through Amsterdam. Along the canals, next to the rows of flowers blooming for the spring. Windmills, locals fishing off the bridge, tourists. My sweet friend Lili – hungarian born. My friend Yasmina – Belgian born.
Vandelpark in the spring, a different world. “They say stones choose you”.. And I a Aventurine Green heart chakra is mine. The stone of luck, chance and for increased perception and creative insight. I’ll take it.

Then off to Zurich staying with my dear friend Danielle and her family. Brizillian born living in Zurich wedding photographer I met i Bucharest last spring. Karin, Swiss born met in Vietnam my last few days in Muine. Charming old city, rolling green hills set with the sharp contrast of white alps against a blue sky. A run along Lake Zurich, dinner in old town as the sun set, a shanti tea room and hipster neighborhood. Dinner with Karin and her friend and promises of SF rendezvous in the fall.
I feel like I slept for days.. I needed it after the go go go and high of Italy. Some downtime and some chill moments with Dani sharing similar stories and different paths. The grass isnt always greener. Always be thankful for your current place.

I can’t get enough of this traveler life. All these people in my life because I chose to take a small step forward.

I’m going to give Arturo another chance.. Maybe a first chance and see what will happen. I have to, or I will always look over my shoulder and wonder. A last few days in Paris, and then it is home again home again and very much looking forward to it.

April 22, 2016

Italy for 72 hours

Poets, writers, painters, musicians, a photographer, a dj.

Planes trains and buses. French, American Italian, Syrian and England. Ages of 50 to 22.

Spanish, Sing songy italian, francaise and british, New york and california.

I just have to write this here.

“I am not worried about you” he said .. “You are already on your way..”

::: L’avenir – returning to light. :::

An exchange I didn’t expect to have.

But, How could I have not expected to experience these things in this sort of atmosphere…
When you’re with artists, things happen. Haha..

This wasn’t about me. I came here for something else. I can to witness and share what I saw.
I didn’t realize I had put forth this feeling of restlessness and searching. He heard it, and gave me light.

“There was a softness there”. “I asked myself, is this what chemistry looks like, unfolding before me?”

I need to unpack my emotions.

I don’t know if it’s my biology or chemistry or what.

This is the thing about artists. We share the same soul. But Im not convinced we need to share the same space in order to maintain that. because what we share goes beyond presence. It is something we feel when we are living the way we are supposed to – what it is to be: alive, our best, free, light. And when we are together, we reflect back to each other, what we see, with our own voice, and even though it is a different language, we understand.

Standing amidst the chaos of noise :: the beat of the music competing with the pulse coming from the melodic sound of 200 Italian students vying for each others attention. Beer and wine bottles crashing to the cobble stone road, the myriad of clangs turning into one throbbing echo and somehow I am separate – like its a white noise . I am invisible. I am a witness. I feel the reverberations and yet I am not there. I am unaffected. People move around me but do not see me. Funnily enough, I am not drunk nor have had a drink. This is a real visceral experience. And among that is a voice, clear as a bell, repeating back to me all the things I’ve felt and seen, my journey repeated back to me, As if he read the book I never gave to him and yet he knew every page.

6 words to describe a memory – simple notes for writing later

Protecting your magic. Sweet souls coming alive. Separate journeys converging and sharing space for a while. It’s the sweetest drug and kindest fall off. My soul is happy to feel the sweetness for the moment. The high. The reprieve. The hangover. The souvenirs.

Cobblestones, cigarettes, voices, community, transitions, love.

April 22, 2016

Copenhagen –

ARrived and had dinner nearby the hotel at a cafe called Laundromat. Got the downlow on good music and made our way to the inner city by walking and bus to a place called Mojos. A cozy blues jazz bar. A beer and a few bands later we called it a night. Jet lag had me up early and I watched the sunrise while doing cardio at the local gym with a view the city waking up and beginning to bustle. I had located a cute cafe with good Kaffe and walked the brisk sunny morning through town. Avocado toast and traditional breakfast and we headed to the inner city again in search of the photography museum where there was a press exhibition. We walked along the canal from there, happened upon Nyhaven, and continued until we found the little mermaid. Wine and seafood at a cozy classy bar as we watched the sunset on the water. Saturday was traditional breakfast at a great spot in Vestabro called Bang and Jenson. We shopped and bit and wondered around. Amel had a class to teach and I wanted to work out. I also discovered there was the internatioal pillow flight that day, just two blocks away and so I took my camera and observed the fun. The afternoon was explored by foot, watched swans nest and snuggle, cyclist zipping by and were amazed by the quiet serene element of the city also known as no traffic noise. Desert, coffee and then walking through a park to stumble upon Han Christian Andersens grave. Reservations for dinner beckoned us and we ubered back to our hotel for a traditional meal of pan fried fish and boiled veggies. All very delicious. Recommendations from a friend took us out for the evening to “kind of blue” in a hipster part of town. The bar was great and the vibe chill. We made friends with a couple of very sweet guys who decided to show us a few of the fun spots in town for the evening. We managed to double up on their bikes with them and made it across town to a club that I wasn’t feeling and we called it a night. We grabbed brunch with them the next morning at another great spot and then spent our final day in town by covering Christiania, the stairs to the top of the steeple of Christ church, the street food market on the canal and then another final dinner at Bang and Jenson. Final morning had us getting out of bed slowly and then off to the airport after a little shopping.

March 28, 2016

Amel leaving, Vegas, reconnecting with Scott, refocusing and then signing up with a trainer. The last 10 days have been the most productive out of the whole month. Two days until I board a plane back to eu for 3 weeks. Denmark, France, Amsterdam. Maybe Switzerland. We’ll see!

Unexpected Kenya penpal. India projects, Paris projects, portrait projects. Oh yea, I need to make money too. UGH.. aside from that task, these days I am happy.

Words collected recently ::

The path to our destination is not always the straight one. we go down the wrong roead, we get lost, we turn back. maybe it doesnt matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark. – barbara hall

what good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. – steinbeck

what happens when people open their hearts? they get better. Murikami

I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. but what else do I believe in? sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. it fluctuates like light flitting over a pond. – patti smith