Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Left - Emily : Pies for my second Thanksgiving spent away from my family. Though we may live in Armenia, no trimmings were spared, stuffing, twice-baked potatoes, carrot souffle and many more.
Right - Me: Sitting in a hot tub with my sister, at the golf course my parent's live on. There was also a group of Muslim girls on a break from school taking advantage of the same warm, bubbly water.
Left - Emily : This year I will be spending my second Thanksgiving away from home with some good friends in Shaghat, a village in Syunik marz. We went for a nice walk in the mountains yesterday around sunset. After heading back our little gaggle of Americans drew a lot of attention in a village of only a few hundred people.
Right - Me : Driving to my parent's house for Thanksgiving. Dark Texas roads, solitude at last.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Right - Me : You are always being watched by "Juan in the Water" (the name I have given this painting) when you eat at Taqueria Jaliscos #2 on Cesar Chavez Street in Austin, TX. I didn't mind the first time, I actually drove back there just to take his picture.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Right - Me : Dogs are so prevalent in the world, some places as animals that roam around practically unnoticed by people and other places like members of the family. Their characters are easily personified, which is why I like reading 'The Adventures of Hank the Cowdog' books which are made for kids, but driven to make us all laugh. I was watching my friend Nadia's dog tonight while they were cooking dinner; watching him wait, watch, wait, hope, watch.
Left - Emily : For the last year I have been working with a few other PCVs making a movie for the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. This weekend Zoe came up from Goris and with the help of Meag we busted out a 3.5 minute clip to show the other volunteers at the upcoming All-Vol conference. We spent three nights awake until 3 a.m. slamming coffee munching on popcorn and chocolate and joking about our volunteer experience.
Right - Me : This little monkey was only 25 cents at a thrift store sale today. He was just sitting there on the ground waiting for the right kid to take him. My childhood doll was "Kimmie", and I cut her hair so many times that she was bald when I stopped carrying her around. Bald, sporting ratty oversized t-shirts but well loved.
Left - Emily : Lately I have busy working with some ladies in Vayots Dzor trying to help them market and sell their beautiful crafts. I became associated with Tim Straight of Homeland Handicrafts, who has been helping these women get started by supplying them with material and thread for embroidery and a network in which to sell their goods. Meag and I have been working on designs and finally I was able to pay them for their first completed piece and give them more projects to work on. It has been an exciting and very rewarding experience.
Right - Me : I met Gayane at the Armenian Dance Party/Fundraising Dinner tonight at a church here in Austin. She talked my head off. She grew up in Tbilisi, Georgia, and speaks Georgian as well as Armenian (which is extremely rare). She feels a big part of herself is actually Georgian although she is Armenian, and we had a really interesting conversation about her life here, her feelings about her identity through her ethnic upbringing, and her bleach blonde hair. When she left she wanted a picture of the two of us as well as my phone number. I'm sure I'll hear from her soon, at least I hope so. It felt great to be there.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Left - Emily : The stairways in the old soviet apartment buildings here are always a sight to see. The exposed and incredibly complicated electrical system, the usually constant smell of natural gas coming from some mystery pipe and the lack of lights in the evening are all things normal to this set of stairs.
Right - Me : Its always is late in Texas, and sometimes just a few weeks long, but winter is almost here if you ask the trees.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Left - Me : I need to read Ulysses. There's only so many hours in a day though.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Left - Me : I never really liked palm trees. I thought they looked cheap, too much 80's nostalgia or somethting. But all it took was my friend Jon's love of them and his way of describing them as "silhouetted explosions in the sky" for me to think about it another way. I also saw some new Bruce Davidson work, he's specifically photographing these trees in black and white - and of course they are beautiful. I was walking around this evening and I thought I would try my own hand at foliage photography.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Right - Me : Everyone brings their dog everywhere in Austin. Maybe if I still had a dog I'd do the same, but for now I just observe. I've been thinking about getting a puppy, but it just isn't the same. Old dogs, while stinky and blind, are still the best.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Right - Me: The Broken Spoke, Ladies Night! There's always a good crowd at the Spoke on Wednesday nights, and it doesn't matter if you didn't bring anyone to dance with or if you don't know what you're doing on the dance floor. The circulation of people asking each other to dance is enough to make up for it. I always feel a slight return to my childhood when I am at a country western dance hall. Good honest people, good enough music.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Left - Emily : My neighbors operate a lavash bakery and I often go there in the winter time to hang out because the ladies are always good for a fun conversation and it is nice and warm in there. The process is fascinating to watch, obviously these women have had a lot of practice. They can roll out hundreds of perfectly sized, perfectly baked and perfectly delicious pieces in just a few hours. My favorite bread they make is called "bocon" they use the same dough as lavash but instead of rolling it out, they stretch it with their hands into a round and bake it a little longer. I always head home from here with a smile, a belly full of fresh bread and a few more pieces to eat later.
Right - Me : I read a review of Dan's Hamburgers, "Dan's is like a second home to me. ... You can taste the history in the grease, and it tastes delicious." The history in the grease might be something worth trying to take a picture of? This is the best I think I'll do.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Left - Emily : This "golf ball" and abandoned hotel are at a high vantage point over Yeghgnadzor and can also be seen from the village Malishka. From this point you can also see all the abandoned Soviet factories that litter the south end of town. I've heard the golf ball was a weather station, but I also heard someone say it used to be a satellite monitoring device. Now on this lonely ridge all you can find are some broken beer bottles and evidence of once well maintained roads all while being harassed by a flock of crows.
Right - Me : Laundry has become as easy as 123 again. My hand-washing days are over.I have no problem going to a laundry mat and plugging it with quarters and letting it do the work. Instead of half a day, it takes an hour and a half. These girls told me they were playing "bus" underneath the table while their Mom folded their clothes.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Left - Me : My friend Kristi's adorable son, Cypress. I went to visit them this evening in Burnet, TX. Cypress loved playing hide and seek in his playhouse, and so did I. Days like this, I wish lasted a little longer.
Right - Emily : One thing I love about walking around in the streets here is that around any corner you can find a small group of men sitting around, smoking cigarettes, playing nardi and joking with each other.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Right - Me : My mailbox, at 1102 Mahan. The sun was setting quick as I was taking the picture, and it reminded me of watching sunsets while my Mother counted down from 10 until they were gone. I bought a new CD today, it's so good. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. "Home" is the best track on the record, and rightly so. As it goes..."Home is wherever I'm alone with you."
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Left - Emily : For the past month I have been helping Meag, my site mate, brew beer and finally tonight we bottled them. Sadly, in Armenia the only beer you can get tastes something like a wet dog that just got sprayed by a skunk. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to taste this beer in just 2 weeks!
Right - Me : It is still a little dizzying for me to walk into a grocery store here in America. The pace is fast and there is an unspoken shouting of messages trying to get your attention. I wanted to capture that feeling with this picture. There is also a huge population of Latinos here, and "Gracias! " is just an example of how embedded the Spanish language is within our frame of normal everyday interactions.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Right - Emily : This hand gesture, accompanied with the sound "eeeeyaah," is one of the many things I have picked up in Armenia. I even find myself doing it to the ATM when it refuses to give me cash. I'm sure when I come back to America, this, along with many other odd things will, at least for a while, single me out as someone that spent the last 2+ years in a foreign culture.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Right - Me : A friendly reminder.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Me: I've known Glen since I was 8 years old when he worked for my Dad's construction business as a framer. He still frames houses, and he still calls me Paigey Waigey or most of the time just P-Wage. I go to his house in Austin about once a month and we'll cook dinner (and if it's not chicken then it's sausage), drink beer, and I'll listen to him tell me about something I should know that I don't know. He perpetually jokes with me that knowing Armenian is going to give me a leg up in the world. It's always a good conversation, despite his misunderstandings of my linguistic wealth and power.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Me: It has been a really a busy Monday and time moves fast, especially in America. The light this man was working under with the dust and the leaves was the prettiest thing I saw all day while on my way to get groceries this evening.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Me: This is my sister, taken at night at my Grandmother's house. We used to share a bed when we were little and always at least a room after sharing a bed. We are night and day in personality, but when we are both together like this, alone, we end up talking until the both of us eventually don't have to say anything about being too tired and then we turn over and fall asleep. It's also about the moment that we get before we turn off the lights, the half hour or so that magazines and books soothe us into a slumber and we think about all that is possible
Emily: The first snow of the year on the mountains above Yeghegnadzor.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Great. And if you feel like it, you can go to Matt's blog too.
“At first, it appears that nothing could be easier than seeing. We just point our eyes where we want to go, and gather in whatever there is to see. Nothing could be less in need of explanation. The world is flooded with light, and everything is available to be seen. We can see people, pictures, landscapes, and whatever else we need to see, and with the help of science we can see galaxies, viruses, and the insides of our own bodies. Seeing does not interfere with the world or take anything from it, and it does not hurt or damage anything. Seeing is detached and efficient and rational. Unlike the stomach or the heart, eyes are our own to command: they obey every desire and thought.
Each one of those ideas is completely wrong. The truth is more difficult: seeing is irrational, inconsistent, and undependable. It is immensely troubled, cousin to blindness and sexuality, and caught up in the threads of the unconscious. Our eyes are not ours to command; they roam where they will and then tell us they have only been where we have sent them. No matter how hard we look, we see very little of what we look at. If we imagine the eyes as navigational devices, we do so in order not to come to terms with what seeing really is. Seeing is like hunting and like dreaming, and even like falling in love. It is entangled in passions–jealousy, violence, possessiveness; and it is soaked in an affect–in pleasure and displeasure, and in pain. Ultimately, seeing alters the thing that is seen and transforms the seer. Seeing is metamorphosis not mechanism.” - James Elkins, The Object Stares Back
Friday, September 17, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
I am not necessarily on a Texan cowboy theme, but it just has happened that the most interesting people and places I have been around since I've been home have been outside the city where life slows down, and consequently, to me, becomes more appealing. It might be because the rodeo represents a subculture of people, not the everyday worker but people who rally around something and live a little differently. Maybe I'm just more comfortable around a group of people like this, I certainly am curious about it.
So it was a small town rodeo and fair, and it was a moving place - full of teenagers out on the prowl, cowboys standing in line for another can of beer, horses wide eyed in prancing nervousness, kids of all ages just running around. A nice place to be with a camera.
I grew up this way. My Mother was more than encouraging for my siblings and I to get into riding horses, we had at least 4 around at all times to "help us also love them" as much as she did. I am still a little frightened by a horse, but at the same time in awe of their power, gentleness and constant smell.
Of course the workers at the fair are just as novel, perhaps, for their lifestyle choice and pleading with kids to keep taking whacks at a some balloon that will never result in them winning a giant stuffed animal.
I watched this girl's face as she watched her friends ride the Zipper. You should know this ride, it's loopy and sickening to look at - her face lit up by the glow of thrill was too much to pass up.
A great place to be for a night, the rodeo. And no better destination than your own small town in Texas.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only person to seek their fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination."
De Hajo bolorine...
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I finally finished reading Robert Kaplan's "Eastward to Tartary" which is a great geo-political travel book about this part of the world. In it he says this, which I think echoes the status quo regardless of the fact the book was published 10 years ago, "Americans are triumphant about the collapse of the Soviet Union. But throughout the Caucasus and beyond, I experienced firsthand how the Soviet collapse, while a blessing in the long run, has meanwhile ruined millions of real lives. Communism, however disastrous, was still a system that provided pensions, schooling, social peace, and physical security for a multitude of people who often had no recollection of anything better. The collapse of that system has left a chaotic void that, so far, has made life here much worse."
There is still a wonderful spirit here - an identity that is very strong and persistent. And with this, I hope, there will be more on the coming horizon.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
14 going on 15. An age that drives most parents crazy, I think I was guilty of the same. I talked my parents into letting me date a boy they said I couldn't - and these girls are just coming in to the realm of all that. My neighbor's daughter, Narine, feels more comfortable behind a pair of sunglasses or her own hand, but at the same time is really interested in her own image. I took these today to illustrate that time in a girls life of becoming a woman, and also just to take some for them to have. I know these girls well, they are always gossiping in the street texting on their cell phones and knocking on my door - so it wasn't particularly hard to get them in the frame. They're so grown up.