I first met my friend Maria in 2005. She had a blog then called port2port – maybe you remember it? – and I can’t remember who found who, but at some point, we started reading each other’s sites. She lives in Portland, Maine, but that fall, she came to Seattle to visit a friend, and we went out for doughnuts and had a drink at the Alibi Room, my favorite bar back then. I was nervous to meet her, because I admired her: her photography, her style, the quiet way she writes, the details she notices in her daily life. I remember feeling amazed by how creative she was, by the fact that she made a living through creative work. I thought Maria was so cool. (Over in Portland, she’s now rolling her eyes in my direction.) I have only a blurry memory of what that afternoon and evening were like, but I remember coming away from it feeling that we were friends, and that meant a lot to me.
It seems like Maria is always dreaming up new projects, and I feel lucky to have been involved in a couple of them over the past six years. She invited me to be one of the featured artists in Lines & Shapes, a series of books that she and Lena Corwin curated, and she also gave me a spot in the beautiful Sundays Are for Lovers. She also gave me the chance to have my photographs in a show(!) for the first time, back in 2009. Working with Maria, even from across the country, has made me think differently about what matters to me, both in my work and my every day. Maria believes that everyday living is art, and though a lot of what I write about here is everyday-life stuff, I had never really understood exactly what I was doing, what it was that motivated me, until I started following her work. She helps me to see possibilities everywhere. In short, she inspires the heck out of me. (…Annnnd now she’s going to stop reading this and go die of embarrassment. Sorry, MAV.)
I love writing, and I can’t imagine ever choosing to do something else. But those of us who write mostly do our work alone. Collaboration isn’t usually part of it. I like to collaborate, and that’s one reason why I’ve loved doing Spilled Milk. (That, and the fact that it gives me a legitimate reason to drink four milkshakes in one day.) So when Maria and I starting kicking around the idea, back in the summer of 2010, of traveling somewhere together and doing a project around our travels, my immediate answer was YES! Actually, I think it was HELL YES! No need to mince words.
It’s taken us more than a year to get our plan / budget / selves together, but later this week, we’re finally acting on our idea. We’re traveling together to Paris(!!!). I’ve been thinking about typing that sentence for nearly fifteen months, and still, I can’t believe it. We’ll be there from October 16 to November 6, sharing an apartment, pooling our cameras, and no doubt doing a lot of walking and writing and shooting. Over the past year, we’ve kicked around a bunch of ideas about what we want to make from this experience: a blog? A small book? With photography? Writing? Maybe drawings? In the end, we decided to do all of it. We have a lot of work to do.
Because we love and believe in books, the main focus of our trip will be to make a book. We’re calling it Paris Diary. It feels scary to hazard a description of a book that hasn’t been made yet, and whose contents are currently just ideas in a notebook, so that is all I will say about that. Give me a few weeks.
But we also wanted to find a way to record the experience, the everyday parts, in the short term. To that end, we’re creating a website. While we’re in Paris, we’ll be posting updates five days a week: videos, photographs, bits of our days. What you currently see on the site is just a placeholder; the actual site will go up on October 16, a week from today – or on the 17th, at the latest. In any case, shortly after we get to Paris.
(!!!) I still can’t believe it.
When we were first brainstorming last summer, I remember worrying about our choice of city, worrying that everything in Paris had already been seen and done a thousand times, if not a million. Maybe that’s true. But I like the challenge of trying to see something differently – learning, really, to see it differently. Especially right now, in the middle of the process of writing my own book, in the middle of that cave. I could use a new set of eyes, and I’m going to go find them.
I’ll see you over there.