Photography Friday: Rewards

Today’s photo challenge at the Daily Post is to show what “reward” means to us. It turns out that I’ve taken a few photos over the course of the last few weeks that exemplify the term in various ways. Looking back through them has made me realize how easily I forget the simple pleasures encountered every day. I tend to notice details, and love the little scenes captured on my walks through New Orleans (and elsewhere), but it would be nice to hold on to the feeling of discovering these vignettes in my heart, rather than having to be reminded by looking back over my Instagram page.

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I walk through the French Quarter every day, and often pass a little art gallery full of really cool/creepy art. Every now and then there’s a cat sitting in the window, along with the artwork. Each time I pass, I look for the cat, and when I see her I’m always happy. It feels like a privilege, somehow; she’s so regal.

The other part of the story that makes this an even better reward is that you can’t see it in this photo, but the cat’s other ear is docked at the tip. In New Orleans, when feral cats are part of the catch and release program (where they’re caught, spayed/neutered, then released), they get one ear docked. This tells me that this gorgeous girl was once living on the streets, but has since become the queen of her own art gallery. Pretty sweet rags to riches story.

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I love looking for good new graffiti, no matter what city I’m in. Thus far, my all-time favorite street art has been in Venice, but New Orleans’ scene isn’t too shabby. Our city attracts a lot of outside artists, including WRDSMTH, a Los Angeles-based writer/painter who’s been posting awesome stuff like this typewriter and message around town for awhile. This popped up in my neighborhood, and every time I look at it I end up laughing. So I guess that the reward is two-fold for this photo, as well. First finding it, then getting to laugh over and over.

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This shot was taken on Lundi Gras night (the night before Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday), down by the Mississippi River. I was with friends, just hanging out, and we didn’t know that there were going to be fireworks. This was a great reward for me because I really hadn’t felt like leaving my house that day, despite (or maybe because of) the celebration that was going on. I adore fireworks, so getting to see them was like a little “thank you” from the Universe for just pushing myself to lighten up a bit and go have fun.

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While in Chicago last week, I decided (quite stupidly) to walk from the restaurant where I’d just had dinner, all the way to the nearest movie theater. A distance of about a mile and a half isn’t bad in decent weather, but when it’s 10 degrees out and you’re not at all accustomed to that kind of cold, it’s just a crappy idea to try to do it on foot. But I did, and it all worked out just fine. Still got all of my digits. Bonus: it was beautiful and quiet out, didn’t meet very many people on the way, and every now and then a scene like this would present itself.

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This is the least exciting photo, but my favorite. I took it last night; it’s the parking garage that sits behind my gym. I had a good workout, then left the gym to see that the parking garage was looking really nice with the contrast of streetlights and night sky. Sometimes I feel like being allowed to notice and appreciate beauty in such mundane things is its own reward. The fact that it showed up after a particularly good night of working out was just that much sweeter.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community (or the lack of)

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I walk to work each morning. It’s only four blocks, but I never fail to see something that makes me think, laugh, or wonder. Today, just a half block from my house, I found tears instead. This cardboard sign once belonged to one of the many homeless people who live under the overpass by my house. They beg at almost every corner, but most people just keep walking/driving/ignoring. It’s mind-blowing. What happened to the concept of community?

The sign was laying in the gutter. I didn’t move a thing, just took a snapshot and kept walking. A few hours later, I conducted my long-awaited interview with a local organization that fights homelessness, and come the new year I’m proud to say I should be working as a volunteer housing specialist. Maybe with some luck and hard work, we’ll have less need for signs like this one.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light (On My Favorite Cat)

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Yeah, I know I’ve already posted one entry for this week’s challenge, but yesterday I caught an interesting glimpse of my cat Isabel through the camera lens, and thought it was worth sharing. We’re technically supposed to be sharing a light source, but you’ll have to take this at the more metaphysical level – she’s the light of my life, and also has a way of shining brighter when there’s a camera trained in her direction. I caught her yesterday basking in the brightest spot of sunlight in my apartment, and loved the crazy contrast of this shot.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

Third Eye Blind, 12/1/13 New Orleans

Though all of my friends started going to concerts when they were pretty young – 12 or 13 years old – I wasn’t allowed out of the house without adult supervision until I reached 16. It was a little longer before I finally managed to convince my mom that live music would not get me pregnant or make me a drug addict, so when the day came that I was allowed out to see my very first concert, you can only imagine how ecstatic I was! On June 6, 1999, I had just finished my senior year of high school, and since I guess my parents realized they couldn’t lock me up forever, I had my day in the sun at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC, to the tunes of Third Eye Blind, Collective Soul & (my favorite of the three) Eve 6.

Luckily, I’ve built up my street cred with much cooler concerts in the years since. But when a friend of mine offered me a free ticket a couple of weeks ago to Third Eye Blind’s 20 Year Anniversary show at the House of Blues in New Orleans, I couldn’t say no. Sure, I felt like I was too old to go gaga over a pop rock band from the 90’s, but you’ve got to enjoy the nostalgia when you can. The concert was last night, and it was AMAZING. I know it’s probably hard to believe, but it was seriously good time, complete with a great light show, surprisingly coherent and tuneful live vocals, and plenty of feeling. By the end of the night, the crowd was seriously worked up – and I was making a mental note to buy their new album. This shot was taken last night during their rendition of “Never Let You Go.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea (Memories of the Adriatic)

Croatian Beach, Anna Harris

Rocks on a tiny beach – Lovran, Croatia.

Lifeboats, Photo by Anna Harris

Lifeboats in the harbor – Ancona, Italy

Fresh Catch, Photo by Anna Harris

Fish market – Split, Croatia

The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge asks that we post photos illustrating our idea of the sea. These three snapshots are from my trip to Italy and Croatia last summer, and serve as melancholy reminders that in a life divorced from the water, I can only be half of myself.

When I think of the sea, I think of love, wholeness, peace. And eels, of course 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

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On my last morning in Crystal Beach, TX last month, my friends and I went out searching for seashells. It wasn’t the best day for finding shells, but it was a lovely day to just appreciate being alive. At 8:30 in the morning on a Tuesday, the beach was quiet and mostly empty. The sun was warm, and the water cool. Silty Gulf beach sand squished under my toes.

I caught sight of a middle-aged couple walking happily, hand in hand, and couldn’t resist taking a little snapshot to save the memory. They looked so happy and relaxed, just like I felt at the moment. For just a little while, we had all given ourselves permission to be carefree. It was such a great way to spend a long weekend. Can’t wait to visit again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

 

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In my freshman year of college, I met a man, C. We were both waiting for a school shuttle that was like half an hour late. While waiting, we struck up a conversation, and we ended up talking all the way to the mall (our destination) and at the mall, and then all the way home. During the conversation, I asked him when his birthday was, and he said “November 8th.” I thought he was kidding around with me, since that’s my birthday, too, but it turned out that he was telling the truth. My curiosity was instantly piqued, and as it turned out, so was his. That odd Scorpio attraction ended up binding us together in an odd way for years after that moment.

One would think that a strong attraction would lead to at least one date, but as it turns out, I started dating someone soon after that shuttle ride. C and I went on to become that odd sort of acquaintance that you only run into once a semester while crossing the quad. Every now and then we’d see each other on the way to class and say hi, then head our separate ways.

Three years later, during my senior year in college, one day I was again walking across the quad. I was wearing a short denim skirt and a white tuxedo shirt, with platform sandals. I had short, choppy hair – almost the cut I wear now, in fact. I was feeling uncharacteristically vivacious, and it turned out to be a good day to run into C. We stopped to chat, and I invited him out to some group thing I was attending with friends.

After that initial date-ish thing (not an actual “date”) we went out soon after on our own to a local dive bar called The Saint. We drank and talked, listened to the juke box, and at one point in the evening he dragged me into the photo booth, where we shared our first kiss.

The following relationship was electric, and a disaster. It went very well for awhile, then started to do badly, and it should have ended there, but didn’t. In fact, every time it reached a natural low, something would happen to screw things up even more. Then he ended up moving in for the second semester when his lease ended. He didn’t pay rent, something my roommates were kind enough to only mention a few times, as they saw the intense mental strain I was under. He was horribly depressed, and I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown because of school ending and having absolutely no idea what to do with the rest of my life. This was made infinitely worse by me picking up on his intense energy and falling apart whenever he was around. Oh, and there was the little bit about him not wanting to be my boyfriend, even though we were living together and I was desperately in love with him. There’s no excuse – I was 21, and stupid. There was LOTS of drama and tears on my part, so much brooding on his. The whole sordid affair would have made great reality TV, had the genre been a little more popular back then.

After my senior year, he packed up and moved away. I was heartsick. At some point, I broke out of my own head for long enough to see clearly. I had to eradicate him from my life. So I took the photos of our first kiss and burned them in the sink.

Except.

As they were burning, I couldn’t bear the thought of losing them forever-forever. So I took a snapshot with my cellphone. Thus, this image represents two types of nostalgia – that for my sad, silly youth, and that for outdated technology. Isn’t it crazy how crappy cell phone cameras used to be???

I look back on it all with a smile now, but it took years to get my stomach out of knots (anger, lust, shame, embarrassment, sadness, adoration) whenever I thought of C. There was more drama in subsequent years, but eventually we built suitable walls and have managed to be good to each other in being absent.

Every now and then we run across each other on social media – just a hi, how’s it going, hope you’re doing well, gotta run. It’s amazingly similar to passing each other on the quad on the way to class.