Embarrassing America, Pt. 1: From Chicago to LA

I finished my first year of graduate school at 2AM in a Las Vegas hotel room.

But I’m getting ahead of myself there.

For about two years now, some of my friends and I have been talking and planning on a cross country road trip. It finally happened and it was surreal and awesome and wow.

To begin, my friend Sean lives in Virginia, and he drove his ol’ reliable VW Rabbit to Chicago to pick me up. The next leg for him (and the start of the journey for me,) was to voyage across dubious Iowa and the way-too-large-and-empty state of Nebraska, to Denver, Colorado.

Seriously, Nebraska was awful. I’m sorry if you live there. The only redeeming thing about Nebraska was the plethora of bABY COWS. They were the cutest little things with their little legs. Good job, Nebraska, on the cute cows.

The next leg was Denver to Vegas. The mountains in Colorado were gorgeous and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I’ve been to the Rockies before, but those were in July. There was still snow on these mountains. It felt like a dream.

It was so dreamy I fell asleep. But not after Sean and I delivered an excellent rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High”.

I woke up when we were out of the mountains and I did what any reasonable person would do at 9AM: find the nearest Starbucks. I’m glad we found one, because we then got into Utah and I thought we were gonna die. It was some The Hills Have Eyes vibes, man. No gas stations, no food, no people. The day before I had thought Nebraska was the worst. But I was wrong.

Until about halfway through Utah, when we started seeing canyons and such. Then it wasn’t so bad. Good on you, Utah. You’re a useless state until you get to the middle/western side. Then you’re alright, I guess.

I also almost got in a stranger’s vehicle. My bad. #swag

If you’re ever traveling through Utah, fill up your gas tank or you might end up on the side of the road. And, if Utah is a horror movie, you know how badly that might end up.

We eventually got to Vegas, where we checked into our super classy hotel, Circus Circus. I’m telling you, that is one swanky place. But Sean and I walked down the strip and endured the usual Vegas debauchery, were dog tired, and went back to the hotel around midnight. And that is when I finished my graduate school research paper… At two am, in one of the biggest party cities in the world. If that’s not a good way to end your first year of graduate school, I don’t know what is.

We got up in the morning and went to a tacky gift shop, then promptly left for Los Angeles, where we were meeting our friend, Dana. We spent a few days in LA, which were incredible. We went to Mt. Hollywood and checked out the observatory, which I HIGHLY recommend if you’re into space and such. My fellow nerds and I love space, so we spent some time there playing with the telescopes and reading about radio waves and all that jazz.

We also visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was pretty neat and touristy, which is what I like. I am not ashamed to admit how kitschy I am. I embrace it. Which is probably why I enjoyed our other destination, Santa Monica Pier. I LOVED IT. It was everything tacky and more.

On our last day in the LA area, we went to Laguna Beach. Now, I’m from the Midwest, where 70 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t beach weather. It’s just chilly enough to hate yourself. However, in SoCal, it’s fine. I went into the Pacific Ocean, expecting to die of hypothermia, but in two minutes I got used to the water and was having a blast getting slammed by big ocean waves. It was great. Bless you, California.

We went adventuring on the rocks and I got to see tide pools– which made my life. I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a child, so seeing tide pools for the first time made me giddy like a child. I thankfully had my waterproof camera with me, so I snapped some photos of the tide pools. The little hermit crabs were AWESOME and I even saw an anemone. It was my favorite part of the trip so far, climbing on rocks with my best friend and experiencing a piece of nature I had only ever read about.

I did have some issues. The camera was a cheap point-and-shoot in a waterproof housing, so the focus was all off. And, for some reason, the film was discolored. I was a little bummed at first, but I think I like the out-of-focus dreamy look some of these have.

Little did I know that my journey was going to continue to impress me, as we drove up the Pacific Coastal Highway, through San Francisco, and onward to Yosemite. I’ll tell you lovely readers all about that part of my adventure in my next blog post!

Until then, safe travels and happy shooting!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Moving to Chicago: Instax Edition

I moved to Chicago. It’s a thing.

I took pictures of the process. Because I moved to Chicago to study for my Photography MFA. Photography. That’s me. Photos. Yes. Very.

Let me tell you, moving to another state is hella weird. But, I’m happy. My new apartment is right next to the el (which is Chicago’s public train system, “el” short for “elevated.) I hear trains go by all day everyday, which is amazing and not annoying, to be honest.

I had my room unpacked in a day. Yes, I have a mountain of galaxy printed pillows. That’s because I like stellar sleep. BOO-YAH.

I took my boyfriend around the city a little bit, since he’s never been to Chicago to explore, so that was lovely.

All of these were taken with a Fuji Instax Wide, because nothing says “moving is fun,” quite like instant film.

Oh, and Jafar is apparently a Disney Princess now.

Happy Shooting!

November’s Photos (or, honestly, NYC Photos)

There’s only one month left of my carrying a camera everywhere/ one roll a month project, and the month of November was pretty rad. See for yourself:

I apologize for the dust marks and weird blue lines. I had to use my Kodak Easy Scan, since I am away from my flatbed. C’EST LA VIE, AS PER USUAL. Also, the scanner auto-cropped some of my images. Jerk.

I spent a weekend in Chicago and then half a week in NYC, and a majority of the roll was shot there. My friend, Patrick, lives and goes to school there, so he showed me around. We went to Central Park, some place where there was a good pizza place nearby, the new World Trade Center, some place where there the most delicious cheesecake ever was nearby, and yeah. I’m super specific, I know. Oh and we went shopping at Forever 21 at 1AM sorry not sorry.

There’s only a month left of my project, but not really. I’m going to keep doing this, as it keeps me looking for good opportunities and those moments when I think, “Oh! This would be a great photo!” I will actually have a camera to take said photo. What a concept.

My Fuji Natura Classica, I feel, was made for night time city photography, because those photos turned out so nicely and are my favorites. I’m already itching to go back to take some more (and maybe go to grad school I mean is that too much to ask?)

So, yeah. If you’re ever in NYC, I recommend Magnolia Bakery’s Red Velvet Cheesecake. I would move there for that alone.

Happy Shooting!

October’s Photos

October is the best month ever. It feels like Fall, the weather is perfect, the colors, the smell of fallen leaves, Halloween… Naturally, I was hoping my October roll of film would yield nice results.

And here we are:

My busy month started out in Chicago, which is where I went on a trip with the Art Department. Really, I was just coming to my friends that live there. I was by myself all morning, so I walked down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the view.

Yes, that is paper hanging from my shower curtain rod. It needed to be shrunk.

I went to my first MSU Football game as a normal person and not as a person in the marching band. It was so surreal, and I felt like a proud parent.

I don’t know what that chair is all about.

And that’s John, the Vulture, Keeper of the White Pumpkin.

That was my month of October! I can’t believe there are only two more months left of 2014… I feel like I started this project yesterday, not ten months ago. Let’s see what November brings.

Happy Shooting!

Chicago in Selfies and Snaps

Last Friday, I went on an adventure to Chicago, IL. Now the last two times I’ve graced this metropolis with my camera, I ended up with zero pictures, because I was such a huge rookie in the analog world I didn’t know my camera wasn’t advancing film. Live and learn and cry over emulsion that had so much potential.

But anyways I went on the trip with the art department, thinking I’d spend the day alone and contemplating Magritte until my best friend, who lives in Chicago, would get out of work. So, because I’m a loser, I decided to record my day with Snapchat.

I deal with my loser-ness with humor.

The trip was the day after my interview with WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids, and I was riding the bus, friendless, next to a random girl who didn’t mind me invading her personal space because when I fall asleep sitting up I tend to lean to the left and she was on my left and I woke up a couple times practically breathing down her neck so I actually don’t know if she didn’t mind or if she was silently thinking about ways to end me. But yeah, she didn’t know she was sitting next to a celebrity, since being interviewed on live radio one time rockets you into stardom. Duh.

When we got to Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just kinda walked in the direction of Lake Michigan because I wanted a shot of the skyline. Walking along the lakefront was wonderful, as the rainclouds were receding. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Lake Michigan in person, but it is so gorgeous and so blue. And cold- that damn thing has some icy wind. Be responsible. Bring a jacket or five.

I had an epiphany as the wind blew through my bones and I was getting sideways glances from the occasional passerby (I was really into this whole Snapchat Your Sorrows Away thing.) I didn’t need to be alone. Since I’m famous, I have friends everywhere, including my high school friend and freshman year roommate who is currently going to law school at Loyola. So, a couple texts and a tourist-spree later, we met at Starbucks and my Snapchats and I were in good company for the rest of the day.

Also- when did it become a thing for middle schoolers to go to Starbucks? No, go away, you have enough energy. Go get a Slurpee, the caffeine dependency will come later. Enjoy spending your allowance on Yu-Gi-Oh cards (or whatever kids play with these days,) instead.

So my adventures were on the Metra to Wicker Park to Gold Coast where my friend lives in a high-rise because NBD to meeting with my Chicagoan friend to take the train to the ‘burbs. And then we headed to Michigan the next morning. The end.

Also, that is a lot of selfies. I never take selfies.

I was really excited to be back in Chicago, and visiting the city has made my longing to go to grad school there even stronger. I’ll be back in early November to visit for future educational purposes, but until then I will pine away and look at the fun pictures I took with Lomochrome Purple XR film. Once they get developed. Because I’m avoiding the possibility I’m just not allowed to take photos in Chicago and another roll was ruined. Denial is a wonderful thing, my friends.

Happy Shooting!