Sunday, August 31, 2008

Changing Landscapes: Another Guest Post by Meredith

So Jessie and I started talking about posting again as soon as we finished the last one. Really, right after, as in, minutes. Because life moves fast on the open roads, ladies and gents: maybe it hasn't seemed that long in real-world, daily-routine, non-road-trip time, but suddenly we find ourselves 2,903 miles, 8 states, many incredible sunsets, and one Democratic National Convention away from our last update, and unsure where to begin sharing. Every passing hour has brought new scenery and countless adventures, making our thoughts so quickly outdated that the task of summing them up has come to seem more daunting and urgent with every passing state line or personal revelation.

Jessie on her 26th birthday on Tuesday:

And now, here we are, in Portland. Destination safely reached: Jessie has successfully delivered me to my new home and completed a significant journey of her own in the process. And while we are certainly still too close to our journey to see the full shape and size it will take in our current lives, we are just far enough to find a few common themes we need, a few little nuggets of wisdom that we can put in our pockets and keep as we return to our new realities.

And so, we bring you a post in three acts (invoke Ira Glass here): we've picked a theme, and we now bring you a variety of stories on that theme. This week's show: Changing Landscapes. A note to our listeners: the following post may not be appropriate for our younger readers, as it does acknowledge the existence of body-altering art, and temporary goodbyes between good friends.

Act One. Changing Landscapes: Does nature adhere to state lines?
Despite all of the pit stops, landmarks, and visits that will make up most of the headlines, the majority of the roughly 50 hours we were on the road was spent staring out the window at the most beautiful and quickly changing scenery we've ever scene. We watched our country go by, and payed attention to the places that such vast landscapes took our thoughts. And we never got tired of looking: it was truly amazing how quickly we could go from looking at a distant mountain range to suddenly driving through it, or how rapidly the flat, brown-dirt mesas of New Mexico turned into the rolling mountains of Colorado. And, luckily for you and me, we had Jessie along to capture some of this beauty for us:

Act Two. Changing Landscapes: A Hopeful Moment in American Politics
In Denver, history welcomed Jessie and me with open arms: we accidentally arrived just in time for the DNC. We ran into Abe Lincoln on a bike, saw some heated words exchanged between pro-life protesters and passers-by, and watched Obama's face go by on t-shirt after countless t-shirt. Also, Kenzie (our dear old friend and gracious Denver host) and I discovered the immediate authority bestowed upon anyone sitting behind an official-looking table, even if they aren't so official looking themselves: we volunteered 1o minutes of our day to table (uninvited) for the National Jewish Democratic Council, and direct interested parties towards their meeting. We can only hope we changed some lives in the process.

In keeping with our theme, however, the most meaningful moment of our DNC adventure came later, after our departure from Denver, amidst the changing landscape of an extended Wyoming sunset. Jessie adjusted our radio dial just in time to hear Barack Obama share his vision for our country as we watched the sun go down beyond the mountains. As Obama's "soaring rhetoric" combined with the soaring beauty of Wyoming's landscape, I think we both teared up a little. We felt like a moment in history had been carefully choreographed just for us.

Act Three. Changing Landscapes: 2 Ladies, 2 New Life Adventures
And now, as all of the analysts discussed at length about Obama's speech: how do we apply the soaring rhetoric of our journey to our own concrete plans? Jessie and I both find ourselves at exciting crossroads: she is, literally, building a new home for herself in Durham with a conscientiousness and vision that I find inspiring. And while my own new home doesn't need any structural attention, I'm planning to do some life building of my own here in Portland. Having each other to process these changes with, amidst the quickly changing backdrop outside our windows, has meant everything: the best thing a best friend can do is know you well enough to figure out what stays constant among the changes, and push you towards the changes that will make you more of the person they know and love. And what I find the most inspiring of all is the way that we've both initiated these changes in our lives: we're not just along for the ride, but changing the route as we go. We'll make sure to keep sending postcards along the way.

Picking tomatoes for dinner at Althea's house in Portland...

At a gift shop in Santa Fe...

Looking out at Park City, Utah, from our incredible hosts' hot tub...

A few images from Salt Lake City...

More photos from our trip can be seen here.

Okay, there's a special Act Four: Jessie, in celebration of all of the changing landscapes mentioned above, decided to alter her own physical landscape in the most bad-ass and inspiring of ways: if our take-home message can be summed up in images, here it is folks. One pre:

...and one post:


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Notes from the Road: A Guest Post by Meredith

So far: we are 9 cups of coffee, 5 tanks of gas, 3 states, 1,132 miles, one historic landmark, 2 plums, a bushel of peaches, and two closely-averted disasters into our roadtrip. We’ve driven through two rainstorms, and hit traffic once (although surprisingly not in Dallas at rush hour).

Day 1, a mere 3/4s of a tank into our trip: we began looking for a gas station. As the needle dipped another 16th of tank with no exits in sight, we began to get a little edgy (Jessie: “What if we run out of gas?” Meredith: “We won’t run out.” 5 minutes later: Jessie: “But what would we do if we did run out? Meredith: “We’re ok. The empty light’s not even on yet.” As if on cue . . .) As the needle dips further and the yellow gas light stares us in the face, we begin to get desperate: we take an unmarked exit into rural Louisiana figuring wildly that “people who live here must need gas” – a mile down the road, we pass a man on horseback, and truly panic. That panic, however, quickly turned to elation as we rounded a bend and approached a blinking stoplight – 2 people have never been so happy to enter a town comprised solely of an Exxon and a Sonic. Hell yeah, Mansfield.

Day 1, evening: a single dramatic moment became an hour long spectacle as we drove continually west into the sunset (and movie watchers waited in vain for the credits to roll – it got awkward. From Jessie: “Wow, what an amazing sunset!” to Meredith, an hour later: “Is the sun still setting? It’s been dusk for a really long time.”).

Day 2, West Texas: Yesterday morning the hotel clerk seemed suspicious of our somewhat routine “Good Morning," ("Is it?” he responded with a meaningful look) and in the afternoon we unwrapped silverwear from cloth bandanas before chowing down on our country fried steack, okra, potatoes and cornbread (and what Jessie described as “Beanie Weanies – mainly weanies – in ketchup sauce”).

Day 3, and all is well: The bike hasn’t fallen off the car yet, and those 2 police cars that pulled us over for the egregious crime of going 76 mph in a 70 mile zone? They were kind enough to let us go with a mere warning. Santa Fe has greeted us with a glorious morning in honor of Jessie's birth . . . we'll have to get back to you about the adventures this town holds. For now, wish us happy sightseeing and good luck with the uphill driving as we approach Denver.

- Meredith

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Semi-Organized Chaos

Slow network users be warned: this is a photo-heavy post.

*Last weekend I went with my mom and sister to Arkansas for my grandmother's memorial service. I'm really glad we did it. Here's a shot from the house mom grew up in... the beautiful house, falling into beautiful decay (if you can manager to find decay beautiful mixed with the sad).

*Jumping back a bit. Following my last post - no, literally, 12 hours later - I got a call that went something like this: "Hi, Jessie? This is ____ from Brelli. We heard that your umbrella broke and we'd like to get your address so we can send you a new one right away." Tempted as I was to yell, "I'm not giving you my address, you crazy-head, are you spying on me???", I did not. Turns out, once in a while, being a blogger can come in pretty handy! My new umbrella was waiting for me in NC, and I can honestly say I have never, ever had such incredible (and pre-emptive! I hadn't even called them to complain yet!) customer service in my life.

*(Although Olympus came close recently - my point-and-shoot came back from the shop and promptly broke again, and instead of repairing it they sent me a brand new model, box and everything. I love Oly.)

*The send-off party was a lot of fun (even though we ran out of booze). Above is one of my favorite shots, of Andreas and Marin. Below is my favorite of me and Mark.

*Our friends rocked the move-out process, which allowed us to rock the Penske driving down to NC, exhausted though we were. The apartment was sooo empty. And looked so small that way.

*Oh, I already mentioned the Blurb book. Here's the cover of it anyway, and it links to the site.

*We didn't get nearly as many portraits as we wanted to for our project. Here's the handful, in thumbnails. Click on the descriptions below to see them full-size. I don't know why Flickr always waters down contrast and saturation from my original photos... I try to account for it but am not always successful.

1. Seizi 2, 2. Jess 2, 3. Sean 2, 4. Emily 2, 5. Joe 2, 6. Melissa 2, 7. Georgia 2, 8. Rachel 2

1. Seizi 1, 2. Jess 1, 3. Sean 1, 4. Emily 1, 5. Joe 1, 6. Melissa 1, 7. Georgia 1, 8. Rachel 1

*Practically my first minute in Durham (which I'll mostly be writing about in the house-y blog, shaketheframe. com), I was plunked down in a group of photographers who meet biweekly and... basically... try to inspire each other to shoot better work. They are amazing. I feel humbled and crazy-lucky to have found them, thanks to Tyler (via Grace, my wonderful new friend). The first week I was there, we self-assigned a project based simply around the theme of water. Here's mine, based on an accident (the first shot was hugely overexposed; didn't have my settings right).

*Here's Jaden, whose headshots I did my first week to help him out for a real honest-to-goodness New York audition. He is an amazing singer/actor/dancer!

*He is also 9.

Forgive the massive unloading of photo-related news. Now I have to update Shake the Frame, which is even more daunting. Check back in a day or two.