Journal

Fixed

I received my fixed Fujifilm X-T20 camera yesterday. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I held the camera in my hands again. I attached the XF18–55mm kit lens to it, turned the camera on, and felt the same sense of joy I felt when I first turned it on back in 2018. The X-T4 is an amazing camera and it’ll be my main camera for the foreseeable future, but man, it feels good to have my OG camera back.

I haven’t been writing much in here anymore because I haven’t been taking pictures or writing in my notebook anymore. Every time I take a picture of something, though, I have a strong urge to write in here, and that’s why I’m back today. Writing without pictures documenting my day doesn’t feel right. I wanted to push through it, but that didn’t amount to anything. So here I am.

Fall is here, and the colors are beautiful. The coronavirus is still a thing, and our president has it. Some schools around us have had to shutdown because of active cases, and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before it hits us, too. The election is a month away, and I have no idea what to expect. I honestly don’t even know what I want to happen. I’m all out of fucks to give.

Phenology

I learned a new word today. Phenology is the close study of nature’s rhythms. It relates to the cyclical and seasonal nature of climate, plant, and animal life, and I love it. I’ve been checking in with the moon more this summer than I ever have, and there’s a calm and stillness I feel when I look up at the sky and see the moon’s current phase. The wildfire smoke has enveloped the West in a blanket of misery and doom, but it has given a new beauty to the red sun. That just reminds me how even in the most tragic and depressing of circumstances beauty still finds a way to seep through.

Basics

The basics start with my notebook and pen. I need to get my thoughts and feelings down on the page so they won’t eat me up from the inside. When I neglect my notebook, I let my depression win. On the first post of this blog, I wrote that every morning I wanted to write in my notebook before I wrote my blog entry. I veered away from that, but now I’m ready to veer back into it. Over the course of the summer, I came to the realization that I don’t want to be a fiction writer anymore, and I felt like that freed me up to try new things. Journaling still helps with my mental health, so I’ll continue to do that, but my photography has also helped a lot, too.

I feel like—and this may sound cheesy—I was born to be a storyteller, and journaling and photography are different ways of telling a story. I wrote last month about my desire to go on a long walk, somewhere in the 500–1,000 mile range, and photograph it and then write a long essay about it. I still have that desire. I would love to write that story, even if just for myself, so that’s something to look forward to. But I have to be healthy and strong, so getting back into a steady workout routine will be key. I’m actually sore right now from yesterday’s workout, and it feels good. Just. Don’t. Stop. I have to keep telling myself that.

Work is slowing down. The teachers and the kids have settled into a rhythm. Other than the masks, it feels like the coronavirus doesn’t exist. When I was a wildland firefighter, one of the biggest admonishments I received from my superiors was to never be complacent. Complacency is what gets people killed, and I feel like our school and our community are complacent right now. I hope we all get through this safely.

Fall starts soon. I’m ready for a new season. Just. Don’t. Stop.

Depression

For the past few weeks, and possibly the past month, I’ve been depressed. I had lost the will to do anything. I stopped writing in my notebook, stopped going on walks, and stopped taking pictures. I had broken my first mirrorless camera, and that made me more sad than I could have ever imagined, so I bought a new one. I love my X-T4, but unfortunately, that hadn’t been enough to kick me out of my perpetual sadness. So then I bought a new tripod. “Maybe,” I thought, “I need to go on something more than a long walk in the park and instead go on a hike up the mountains and take some landscape photographs.” I received my new tripod on Friday, but instead of taking it out with me, I stayed home and got drunk. I have been neglecting my todo list, my notebook, my camera, my guitar, my studies, my reading, my workouts, my meditations. I have been neglecting everything that makes me happy and instead I’ve been focused on the drinking, on the shopping, on all the indulgences that make me feel awful.

Today I meditated for the first time in a very long time. It wasn’t peaceful. It wasn’t life-affirming. It wasn’t anything positive. Instead, it was angry. It was dark. It was everything I had been feeling for the past month, and in that regard, it was a great session. It always starts with that first step. It’s picking up my pen. It’s changing into my workout clothes. It’s sitting down at my desk. I wrote in my notebook this morning and let all these feelings out, and it felt familiar. It felt… I felt like myself again.

I haven’t thought about suicide since my early twenties, and I don’t think I ever will again because I know there will always be better days ahead. Things might look black and white now, but I know colorful days are waiting for me, and it’s this mentality that has helped me stay alive. I don’t know if things will get back to “normal,” whatever that means, but I know I have to keep moving my feet to get to the good days. So here’s to the good days.

Mom

I’m breaking from tradition and posting a picture I took a few days ago. I think this finally frees me up from having to take a picture a day. Who imposed this rule? Me, but I wanted to see how long I could go. A few months seems laudable. This is a picture of my mom, and I really like it. She flies back to California tomorrow morning, so tonight will be the last day I’ll be able to hang out with her. It was a short trip, but I hope it was nice for her.

Twenty

My mom flew in on Sunday, and I’ve been hanging out with her and my nieces the past few days. I’ve been playing twenty questions with this lovely lady and have been enjoying the time with her. She has grown into a creative, honest, and amazing young lady, and I‘m eager to see her grow up. I moved to Montana a month before she was born, and I was there when she was just a few hours old, so I have a special affinity for her. Don’t tell anyone but she’s my favorite!

I took hundreds of photographs and filmed gigabytes of video, and I’ve been having fun going through them and editing them. I really do love photography.

Devourer

I haven’t been on a walk in a few weeks. It’s been work work work non-stop, and it’s been getting to me. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I’ve been coming home from work dead tired and unmotivated to do anything. I know it’s bad when I miss the slowness of life. I miss breathing and thinking and writing mundane thoughts in my notebook. Now it’s filled with anger and disdain. Is starting a Google Meet really that hard? Is printing to a certain printer? Has 21st century life really moved that fast for 20th century people?

I’m tired of this virus and I’m tired of the people who aren’t taking it seriously, who are only thinking of themselves instead of others. I feel like we’re a bunch of parasites eating through the earth until there’s nothing left. We need a great devourer to eat us up and give the earth time to breathe and rebuild.

Eternity

Taking the week off from writing felt both long and not long enough. Taking the week off from photography felt like an eternity. I missed not having a camera, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt the same way about writing. I have to come to terms with that. I’ve spent my whole adult life pretending I was a writer when really, what if I wasn’t supposed to be one? I’m not saying I’m supposed to be a photographer, but I never gave myself the opportunity to explore other interests outside of writing.

What I like about photography is that it puts me in direct confrontation with life. I have to be right there to take the photo. I can’t be at home and imagine a photo and have it exist like it would in my head. I have to be outside and in the world to capture it with my camera. I have to be close to the spider to photograph its beautiful eyes; I have to be with the bees to take photos of them; I have to be outside and walk around to find the beautiful flowers to photograph or the moon or anything else.

This summer has helped me step out of my inner world and into something much bigger. I started to expand my walls and go outside and explore the world, and I happened to take my camera with me. I bought the Fuji XF80mm macro lens in early July and discovered a new love. With each photo, with each session, I get better, and that feeling is intoxicating. Self-improvement has always been a great love for me, and it’s no different here. And now that I have my X-T4, I feel like the world has no limits, like I can do anything, and I want to. So let’s go.

X-T4

New camera. After I dropped and broke my Fujifilm X-T20 last week, I ordered the X-T4. It arrived yesterday, and my initial impression is that this is a mind blowing device. Everything about this camera is amazing. For one, it’s a bit bigger and heavier than my X-T20, and I didn’t think I’d like that but the extra room feels freeing. I love the new flip out screen and the dedicated ISO dial. I love that I can switch between stills and video and have the camera retain the settings for both. I love how quiet the shutter is. I love everything about it. I haven’t taken it out on a walk yet, so that’s something I have to look forward to. I want to get into the manual and really get into the nitty gritty details of this camera. I’m excited, I’m happy, and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Hopeful

School starts today, and I’m not ready for it. I’m not ready for any of this. But I’m hopeful that things will turn out okay this year, that we will all stay healthy and have some sort of return to normalcy. I saw one of my very favorite students yesterday and all of my anxieties about starting the school year faded away, so this could be okay. Or we could have a breakout and have school shut down indefinitely. Positive thoughts.

A co-worker found this spider in a trash can outside, and he went out of his way to find me to show me. I think this shot turned out a lot better than I imagined, but I still wish the spider was turned the other way so I could take a photo of its eyes. But I love how the web turned out. These small creatures are both beautiful and gross, and I have a weird attraction to that feeling. Is there a word for that? Add that to my vocabulary list.

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