Since my presence on most social media has dropped off in the last year, and I don’t see that changing this year, I’ve decided to catch you all up on my life and career here.
Overall 2018 was a tumultuous year, and I had sworn off doing a “year in review” because I didn’t think my year amounted to much, but in going through my work and personal photos I realized that just because it felt like an off year, doesn’t mean there wasn’t growth and that it isn’t worth sharing.
So here you go: 2018.
I kicked off the year building a miniature apartment for a promo series I produced for NPR Music and Lagunitas promoting the Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
It was a wild first experience as a non-intern/non-student real world actual grown up video lady and I loved every second of it. When telling people about this project I often used the phrase “I’ve peaked” and in many ways the year wasn’t much better than that (but time is a construct so lets not give that thought too much credence).
At the end of January I left NPR and began my journey home (with a few side trips on the way).
First stop was to Philly to see the hometown of my dear friend Jenny Kerrigan (and the Liberty Bell).
After Philly was New York City, it was my first trip there!! I stayed at a swanky airbnb, bobbled around museums, and caught up with old friends. We even had a whole WKU reunion dinner while I was in town and it made my heart SO happy.
Next I flew to Austin, Tx. to visit my brother, Daniel. I was hoping it would be a nice warm break after frigid cold on the east coast, but nope it was cold. Really freaking cold. We still made the most of it and I was happy to have made the trip. We even drove out to see the Alamo, and all of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not tourist traps surrounding it. America being peak America.
After Austin I was back in my parents house in Redmond, Wa. living there for the first time since I had moved to Kentucky in 2013. I spent the majority of my time with my 95 year old grandmother who has Alzheimers. We would get our nails done, color, and sing along to Ernie Williams dvds at her assisted living apartment. It was time I was able to spend with her before she moved back to a memory care facility in California.
If you’ve ever travelled to the Seattle area in the dead of winter then you would understand my next move. Less than three weeks after moving home I applied for a visitor visa to Pakistan. I needed the sun, I needed out of my parents house, and I needed to catch up with my friends who would all happen to converge in Lahore that February. It was the best time for me to go, and in less than a month I was on a 15 hour flight headed for Lahore.
I spent the better part of a month staying with friends in Lahore, Pakistan. Admittedly most of my trip was spent napping and watching Netflix, but also I had the opportunity to really immerse myself into a community of people I had documented for 4 years and over time had grown into a second family of mine. Being in Pakistan as a “gori” (white girl), alone, was also a test of myself. I had to lean on people around me so much more than I did at home, I couldn’t drive, cook, or do anything for myself because I was a woman and a guest. I did end up convincing the cook at my friend’s house to teach me to make breakfast for myself because I woke up hours before everyone everyday, but that’s about it. Oh, and I took an Uber once, which was cool – another sidenote, why doesn’t Canada have Uber but Pakistan does? ANYWAYS, I had to fight the feeling of being a burden on a number of occasions, especially since working as a journalist I was so used to not excepting any gifts, aid, etc. from the people who’s stories I was telling, but now being there as a guest and not a journalist, it was weird and new and beautiful.
((Double sidenote: if you’re reading this and think “damn, she needs a copy editor!” and you would like to volunteer your grammar brain, I wouldn’t say no. ))
Top things from this trip (since it was so long and I’d bore you forever if I really went into it):
1. Eating dinner at the Cuckoo’s Nest, a restaurant at the top of a building in the red light district. They serve up a mean view of Badshahi Masjid and the Walled City in old Lahore.
2. The malls. You think America does malls well? Go to Lahore. They have these huge shiny malls full of fancy shops and entertainment. My Pakistani friends don’t like to walk everywhere as much as me so we never went long enough for me to get my fill, so editors take note, the malls are lit and I’ll cover them for you if you send me back to Pakistan (please?).
3. Flag lowering ceremony at Wagha Border between Pakistan and India. Just imagine a border fence between two countries always on the brink of war, with GRANDSTANDS where nationals and tourists watch officers do a stomp dance at the end of each day to lower their countries flags. Each side tries to be louder than the other side and put on a bigger show, it’s wild. Imagine if America and like North Korea did something like that on a daily basis? I’ve made it my goal to see the ceremony from the Indian side at some point in my life, but it was definitely worth the trip.
Soon after coming home from Pakistan, I moved out of my parents house and into a friend’s house in Renton. The queen of NPR video, Mito, called me and asked if I’d like to edit some video mashups for the Tiny Desk Concert Contest. I spent the month grinding at my computer and hanging out with my roommate’s Great Dane pup, Velma. It was a good month.
At the end of April I travelled to Denver, Co. for The Image Deconstructed workshop. I caught up with old friends and met a lot of new and wonderful people who love photojournalism as much as I do.
Moving in to May, work slowed down and I didn’t work much outside of one political ad I edited for a restaurant in DC. I spent most of that month working out just to fill time. The biggest part of that month was helping my friend Megan publish the first issue of her magazine We are Women. I spent time with Ligaya Peterson, who was recovering from breast cancer and had recently adopted. I knew Phil, Ligaya’s husband prior to the story, but had not really spent time with her until I photographed her and her family.
Ligaya is maybe the strongest and most positive person I’ve ever met (actually her husband is definitely the most positive person on this earth), they’re raising an amazing family and are working towards planting a church in the area which is awesome. They love their kids and community and were a huge encouragement to me this last year (wether they realize it or not) while I struggled to find my place after moving back to my hometown.
My intentions in moving back to Washington were to reconnect with old friends and root myself in community, but having been gone for the better part of 5 years, I had missed so much and grown apart from who my friends knew me to be. That was the biggest struggle of the last year, and something that I’ve decided is more important to me to work on than to make journalism my one and only. As my friend Morgan Baker said, “work doesn’t hug you when your sad.”
I went to Vancouver, B.C. with some new friends, biked around an island, hiked to a few waterfalls, and ate all of the food.
My favorite month of the year. Mostly because it’s my birthday month, but also because it brings beautiful weather to Seattle and brought some beautiful people into my life.
This month I filmed a high school graduation for NPR’s short film, Senior Spring. My part is all the blue gown graduation clips at the end of the video, so not a huge role, but it was still a great project to be a part of and I got to use my new camera!!! I bought a C100 mkii (which I finished paying off literally yesterday) and was thrilled to get to use it.
June also included a trip to Texas where I spent Eid with some Pakistani friends in Dallas, and then took a mini road trip to Austin to spend a week with my brother (this time in sweltering hot weather).
I was flown to Cuba last minute to teach photography on a two week trip with Rustic Pathways. The experience was incredible, despite being sick for half of the trip (don’t eat the Ropa Vieja at Bodeguita del Medio.)
The best part of the trip was taking our students to Carnival in Santiago de Cuba. The Carnival there is the largest one in all of the Caribbean and is more than worth the long journey to get there.
I did no work, I hiked a lot, cleaned out my childhood bedroom, and pressure washed my parent’s neighborhood to pay the rent. Freelance can be very “feast or famine” and the end of summer was very much a famine for me as far as workflow. Looking back on the year I realize that I should have sought out work for myself, projects that I owned, instead of waiting for work to seek me out. That’s a goal in 2019, to produce work for myself that fills those gaps and fuels my passion.
I travelled to New Orleans for Geekfest, a photojournalism workshop hosted by A Photo A Day and the wonderful Melissa Lyttle. I connected with old friends and met people I had been online friends with forever but had never met (looking at you Marie Hobro!). I was feeling pretty abandoned by the journalism world at this point and it helped me to be surrounded by other people struggling to make this their career as much as I was.
This month I also took my first venture into corporate video – I filmed an alumni meet up event for a college in Iowa, photographed my dear friend’s wedding, and filmed an interview for Brut Media that ran before the midterm elections, and even ran a teleprompter for a video with Howard Schultz (wowza).
In October I moved back into my parents house. My housing situation was not great (there were rats, among other things,) so I decided to stay with my family until my childhood friend moved back to the area in November. On the downside I felt like I had lost some independence and couldn’t help but be a little embarrassed to be back at home, but on the up side I spent lots of quality time with my parent’s dog, Bear and I went on a number of short trips.
I spent a weekend in a tiny house on the border of Canada and explored the San Juan islands, stayed in a yurt with my sweet Kentucky friend Kreable, and picked up a second job working retail. This month I also began working with Microsoft, my second soiree into commercial work.
This was a wild month. It began with a project that taught me to stand up for myself as a freelancer and to know when to say no to work that does not respect the worker. But after some struggles with work, and a stomach bug, I was off to Kentucky where I reunited with so many good friends from college and got to see my favorite couple marry (Sawyer and Emmanuel 4eva).
Took another trip to Canada!! I clearly love it there. It was the first weekend of December and it was perfect weather in Vancouver. We spent lots of time exploring islands, record stores, and watching Guy Fieri on the hotel TV. It was a perfect trip and we were sad to come home (and sad to wait in the border crossing line for two hours.
Also in December I made a video for JLAB audio’s holiday campaign, where I followed around one of the Seattle Sounders while he handed out free headphones in Seattle. It was a weird and wonderful gig.
Also in December I spent the day with Shomari Jones at the BOOM Conference for Education Week.
The rest of my year was finished out with friends and family and lots of food. It was a tough year, I did not work as much as I hoped, and I struggled to find my place but now one year later I feel like things are beginning to come together. I still have not found a job, and that is still a goal of mine, I love being a part of a team and have missed that aspect of working for a company full-time. I’ve interviewed over 18 times for different jobs and companies but have not yet found my “fit,” so feel free to send ya girl gigs, applications, well wishes, and motivational posters as I continue to seek out steady employment (or maybe freelance will be my full-time thing, it’s seeming more and more that way).
Goodbye 2018, you happened.