May 24, 2012


{or, maybe just waiting for something to happen}

I've been watching my studio shrink around me for a while now. It's filled up, with less and less room to walk, and pretty much no where to set anything down. It's frustrating, but it's not a bad thing -- even though it feels like it is. Simply put, my darlings, I must upgrade. Easier said than done. So while that clock is ticking and I'm falling behind on virtually everything, I've been playing around with my newest acquisition, which happens to not be a power tool. Surprise surprise! Instead, it's a 1954 Leica.

Most of my childhood photographs were taken with this camera. I remember the anticipatory buzzing of the self timer and the clean click as it went off. It has sat precariously on many a rock, many a tree-stump, propped up with sticks and books and whatever could be had to hold it in place. In all those years, it never fell, it was never dropped. Self-timed family portraits were plentiful and the lens escaped without a speck of dust. The leather pouch endured through multiple Italy's, Greece, France, Germany, India, road trips and backpacking, and was re-sewn at one point, crookedly and with different colors of thread. This camera has been in my life for years and I never thought twice about it, until now, when it has made me love it.

Shooting in film makes you do everything in one's, instead of in multiples. It's that one moment, in that particular light, and then it makes you wait. And wait. Until you finish the roll. Which in my case is weeks. And since I'm still learning, only half come out well, which makes my patience stretch to anxiety for the next roll to come. Yes indeed, having a film camera is like searching for the perfect studio; it might suck at the moment but once it happens, it can be rather marvelous.

May 11, 2012

hello, my name is Procrastinator

{But I finally committed!}

There's a few reasons I've gone crazy in the home-fix-it department lately. One, is that my hallway makeover got me going pretty good, and you know how that is. It made me so damn happy I decided to tackle another thing that's been bothering me for five years: the kitchen. Specifically, the fact that there wasn't any tile in it, and I like tile! Instead, it was all painted drywall that was never really finished, it was getting wet from the sink, it was getting splatters from the stove which were impossible to wipe off, I'd painted it over three times and I was getting sick of that. The entire kitchen counter was improperly installed, making the whole thing warp on the edges and sag in the middle. The counter is ugly enough as it is, and this made it so much worse! The landlord even came in four years ago to fix a leak, cut and pulled the entire thing out, then never re-caulked around any of the cracks -- Yeah, I did my best to convince him to take all the cabinets with him when he left, but no, he was determined that they stay. Crazy man!

It's stuff like this that I've been ignoring for five years. See that torn up drywall and messy caulking along the edges? Ugly!

So here's a before shot, from a week ago:

And here is a way, way before shot, over five years ago, around the first week we moved in. Yeck! I dug this out of the archives so you can really imagine the progress, even though it's happened very gradually. Timidly, even.

Well apparently I'm not that timid any more. It's the typical story of the rental, you always think you might move out, and so you never take the plunge. I never wanted to invest money in tile and then leave it there when I go, but I figured I'd already made so many changes to the house that good 'ol landlordy might disprove of, maybe I should really make the kitchen sing to make up for it. He might hate the painted staircase and the triangle wallpaper for whatever crazy reason, but no one can argue the upgrade of beautiful white tile. Not even the landlord.  

So I did it. Here. Is. NOW!

Yes, it's true, subway tile freaking transforms spaces. I shimmed and struggled with the counter to get it straight, painted the window frames black, and Boom! Just like that, suddenly I love my kitchen. LOVE IT. Well, not really "just like that".... more like four-days-later, three-boxes-of-tile, sixty-extra-dollars, much-needed-encouragement-from-this-lady, one-crazy-gash-on-my-thumb, some-serious-swearing, then I can say "boom". So I suppose there was no boom. I thought it would take me a day and one box of tile, so you see where I'm coming from. I went a little mad. I couldn't stop. The more I tiled, the better it felt. The corners that were once ignored and grungy and ugly, that sucked up the light and had to be hidden behind items and stuff to make them disappear,  are now crisp and bright, and feel larger, expanded. I've finally payed attention to the nooks and edges, spent time on them, and they are thanking me for it. They are positively glowing. Literally. The entire kitchen is brighter! The space finally feels grown up, like real adults now live here. Which is appropriate, cause I just celebrated my birthday, and twenty-five-year-olds deserve nice kitchens! At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Friends and family will ask, what did you do for your birthday, Ariele? And I say that I bought myself a crapload of little ceramic rectangles and got myself covered in grout. Hooray! Getting older has taught me the value of investing in where you are at the moment.

May 1, 2012

hello, my name is Hypocrite

{But no one should have to live with a Home Depot Original}.

It's been a long while since I've made any house improvements, partially because I've been too busy and unwilling to take a break, and partially because it's hard to know when enough is enough with a rental. Our lease states pretty specifically about painting stuff {previously painted walls are one thing, but painting 'wood' is crossing a line I feel pretty guilty about}. Before giving in to makeover temptation, I did fight it -- I tried! I swear! The proof is in the timeline: Before altering it forever, I lived with our Home Depot wood-colored kitchen cabinets for a year, our Home Depot bathroom cabinets for two years, our Home Depot brown carpeted stairs for two-and-a-half years, the interior sides of our Home Depot bedroom doors for three years, and I. Can't. Take it. Anymore: I've lived with this crappy hallway for over five years.
There's just too much Home Depot still in my house!

The hypocrite part is because, well... I painted the doors black. Yes, I'm a freaking liar, but most importantly, I'm terrible at using examples. And thank you to the few people who mentioned that to me: Not painting your doors black {as I spoke about here} was a terrible example of what one shouldn't copy. Terrible! {Even the man himself pointed that out to me!} So in order to partially correct my dreadfully bad example, I went ahead and did it. I was holding back for so long, but sometimes you just gotta let loose and fix what's wrong in your life. And what was wrong in mine were these terrible doors. Screw the security deposit!

Whew! Wallpapering is hard! Especially around pipes and a light socket. But two days of this and I am as happy as a clam, and I tend to just stand on my staircase for minutes on end admiring the change. The one thing that remains to be fixed is that light, but since I don't have access to the control panel to switch off the power, I suppose I'll have to come up with a more creative plan. So yes, Black doors are awesome. The biggest change I feel is the size, the room feels larger, like it expanded three feet in every direction. Black doors just have that effect, who knew! And how does the boyfriend feel about all this? The doors never bothered him in the first place, but since I did all the work he has accepted this as a serious upgrade: "The bedroom door feels all manly now!" Yes, black and manly. I love it.

Facts: paint color - Behr, deep space.
           wallpaper - butcher block paper printed with a cut potato and acrylic paint.
           glued with - homemade wheat paste.

Irony: I bought the paint at Home Depot.

Next: Possibly - stripping the mantle which took me this long to realize is f-ing marble.
          Probably not - tearing out the ugly carpeting in the bedroom {too much guilt?}

Learned: Go paint your doors black. It's awesome {and} There's evidence that it might be worth sacrificing your security deposit for happiness.


Update! Light fixed, using some random parts I had around the house.