Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Wilde’


DAY 197

§ A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. § Oscar Wilde

 Oh I am so terrible at this!! I am always too busy. But I shouldn’t be. There is always time for photos, there is always time to write!

That said, I am obsessed with photos, I really am. I am obsessed with beautiful photos. And okay, Oscar, maybe, in some ways, they are as useless as pretty flowers, but…but…I love them, I can’t resist taking them, I need to have the photos. I can’t just go someplace beautiful and NOT take a photo, at least, not without feeling sick and terrible.  They are beautiful, yes, like flowers. Perhaps useless to others, but to me, they are so much more.

I went to this castle in a place called Peñiscola (yes, you can laugh) which is possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.  In the center, there is a castle. The blue of the Mediterranean goes on as far as the eye can see, row after row of white houses blanket the ground, topped by row after row of orange roofs. It is the perfect combination, and sort of makes you think that maybe you’re dead after all, and this is what heaven looks like. Or maybe you’ve fallen down a well and are now in wonderland. Or perhaps this is just paradise.

I fell in love with those photos. On the train-ride back to my flat, I was antsy with anticipation to look at them. I tried to resist temptation—no, you can’t look at them on the tiny screen, wait until you can view them on the computer!—but I failed, and couldn’t resist a peek. Oh, so gorgeous. I almost died again.

Then what happened, you ask? Well, I went home. I plugged in the card reader. And….nothing. The card reader was dead. It had committed suicide somewhere along the way. Oh NO! I tried everything. I looked it up online, downloaded programs, tried and retried and retried. I went to the camera store, and then he told me the sad truth, the truth I already knew but didn’t want to admit. My baby was sick, and the card was unsalvageable.

I was so sad, so depressed. You see, I am obsessed with the photos. It’s as if having no photos of something means it didn’t happen. I know it makes no sense, but bear with me!  It doesn’t help that I have a terrible memory. So I use my photos to make sure I never forget something worth remembering.

What did I do? The next weekend, I paid another €25 for the train ticket, spent another couple hours on the train, bought another pricy (but delicious) meal of sangria, pizza, and ice cream, enjoyed the views all over again—because I went back. Yup, I went all the way back to Peñiscola to get back those photos.  I’m glad I did. I found a lot more this time. I appreciated it even more than the first time. I met some interesting, and very proud, Dutch tourists who were fond of telling me about Holland’s Golden Age and how they made America what it is today (they voted for America to be it’s own governing state way back when) etc. I saw the cliffs.  I enjoyed the views. I didn’t get lost.

In the end, both days were perfect…and the resulting pictures were so worth the return!


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One day, it fell to me to take my little brother to Frederick for his singing class. Now ordinarily, I might have been annoyed that his singing class was 30 minutes away straight into the heart of rush hour traffic.  But not today.  Today, I couldn’t wait to go because Frederick is such a nice little place and I really wanted to stretch my wings in the photography arena.

Yes, it is a small town (Wikipedia estimates 65,000 people in the whole area, and the little downtown is much smaller than that), but it is very quaint. For a long while,it was in need of repair, but in the last 10, 20 years, it has gone through several stages of renewal until it was finally revealed to be a cute, happy little place.

I dropped him off, and took my camera for a walk. I get funny about taking photos in public places–I have this uncanny feeling that the people around me are silently judging me for my picture-taking–and so I try to take pictures as fast as possible, and move on.  Which is bad for someone who is just trying to learn the tricks of the trade of photography. (I had this same problem with books when I was little; I always had the uncomfortable feeling that the librarians were judging me by the books I checked out. The day they installed those automated check-out machines was a very good day indeed.  Although, I eventually got over the librarians-are-judging-me phase, so perhaps the people-are-judging-my-photos phase will sputter and die soon enough.) An insecurity problem? Perhaps. Probably. Okay–fine.  I suppose so.

At any rate, I pulled out my camera, and started taking pictures.  I don’t take enough; there is precious little to photograph here in the suburbs.  But this day, I took several. I wasn’t especially attached to any of them, and yet, there were several decent ones in the pile. In the end, I chose this one. Not because of the subject matter or the angle or the perspective, but because of the sunlight.  I sat out on a park swing meant for a child, (yes, I still love to swing. I loved swinging when I was an infant I’ve been told, and I still love it today.) so I sat out on the swing and watched the parents chase their children about the park as the sun slowly dipped towards the horizon.  With the sunset spreading across my back and leaving a golden glow on the world about me, I leaped off the swing, grabbed my camera and took this photo.  I like the way the sun lights up the houses, makes it look as if the houses are glowing. The photo itself may not be top-rate, but I love the sunlight.

I can’t wait to live in a beautiful place, a place with history and color and charm, a place that everyday, I can walk outside my door and be presented with unmistakable beauty, just waiting for me to photograph. Oscar Wilde would be so proud–it seems I am becoming and aesthetic after all…

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DAY 153

Okay, so not the most interesting subject matter, I know.  But when it’s 2 am and your still at the library juggling two massive research papers–one on Nietzsche and Buddhism and the other on Oscar Wilde’s homosexuality and that relation to the gothic in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and you’ve been there since 3 in the afternoon–well, you’re not thinking very clearly, and you get bored. So I opened a new page, wrote some random gibberish to clear my mind, and took photos of the boring objects around me.

This is my ID card. Apparently, if you want to hang out in the library after midnight, you have to prove that you are a UMW student, and then they give you a numbered sticky which you turn in on the way out. During finals week when the entire campus packed up their dorms and officially moved in to the lib, security decided to reduce, reuse and recycle by putting numbers on clothespins. Okay, sure.  That’s fun. Low budget?

It’s actually quite easy to beat the system and manage to avoid getting a number if you really have this burning desire to hang out in the library with a bunch of college students reading so furiously they are going prematurely blind, writing so fast that writer’s cramp has become an actual disease.  Yes, that sounds like the pinnacle of a wild night out.  I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to sneak into the library.  But I guess they have to protect their precious books or something.

So the late-night, stressed-out, mid-paper-writing photography thing might be a fail. That’s okay. The papers weren’t. Solid B+ and A- respectively. I can live with that.

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