Ten on Ten {December}

I think I may actually be making some progress in catching up with this project! Two posts in a week! Hold me back! (Never mind that I neither have ten images, nor have I taken them hourly; don't let the finished be the enemy of the good? Or something?)

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06:22 // I'm not sure what is happening here, but I guess the moral of this story is we have spent a lot of money on instant film.

06:46// Also not entirely sure about this one? But I do know that Hugo feels it a great injustice that Lyra gets baby food pouches (which cost about an hour's worth of hard labour each) and he does not.

07:03 // On the way to the school bus on a rare morning when I have to do the school run with all three kids by myself. Mr. Chef must have been out of town. (Had I posted these in a timely manor I would actually remember this sort of thing!!) It is actually a bit of a miracle that my child actually made it to the bus, considering it typically arrives exactly at this time.

07:13 // Those towers. They say something about humanity and our place in the cosmos I think.

08:01 // This images sums up about half of Lyra and Hugo's relationship.

08:06 // And this the other half.

12:03 // Sunspots outside my office.

15:04 // The weather was really beautiful this day. I kinda even remember that now.

15:06 // My favourite street art.

15:37 // In a taxi on the way home from school. Our family rule is that he is only to have his "paci and blank" in his bed. We are very good at enforcing that.

Yeah Field Trip + In and Out of My Head

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All images shot on Portra 400 120 film with a Hassleblad 500 CM

 

Where have I even been? Around the world a few times and in and out of my head. 

 

Here’s the Pacific, from the other vantage point, a world away, two weeks ago when I went to the very last ever @yeahfieldtrip. I spent a week in El Capitan Canon with a feeling of expansive openness, rooted in my certainty that there exists at the center of us all an ember of the same matter that is the universe. For a solid week, I existed in a quiet that we hardly ever experience; I looked up at the trees, I watched the sky, I followed the creak with my eyes. There were no podcasts to distract me; no WeChat notifications to pull my attention; no instagram likes to give me a serotonin boost; no sibling spats to navigate. There was quiet, and time, and awareness.

Every person in that valley was trying to make something out of this wildly improbably gift of being a human on this planet with these other humans who we are so lucky to get to love and grow with. I had conversations all week with people who looked in my eyes, where I remember every word, and every feeling, where we said thank you, and you’re lovely, and I’m so glad I get to know you, and meant it all. Those few days I felt as though my ribs would crack open and my heart would manifest out in the open air, expanding ever outward, ruled by creativity, growth, and that human light. It was as real as the tension in my shoulders now.

Then I got back to Shanghai and took the kids to a birthday party at a Soft Play and had conversations that I can’t even remember about who cares what. I’m making list of things I need to do, fretting over doctors’ appointments (I live at the doctor), school drama, about big changes coming up. I’m back here, bombarded by the forces of the capitalist machine and very sure that a new pair of jean shorts and just the right sunglasses will fill that human sized ache in my heart. 

I’m trying to remember that feeling, to make small changes in my life that get me back there. I’m trying to breathe a little slower, to look a little longer in my kids’ eyes, to to find a flashing second to tell the one I love thank you, you’re lovely, I’m glad I know you. Because I’m pretty sure that’s all that really matters in this life. 

Ten on TEN {NOVEMBER}

In which I both travel back in time and completely destroy the premise of this entire project. ENJOY!

Oh boy. Is this project even worth continuing? I can hardly get my act together enough to shoot it, let alone POST. And yet, I solder on because beneath my cool exterior, I'm a sentimental little snowflake and want to preserve in digital amber my wee ones' tender childhoods. 

These are from our time in Europe at the end of last year. Lyra was post surgery and we had some time to kill between doctors' visits and went to see our friends in Belgium. I didn't necessarily take these pictures on the hour. And if truth be told, I think some of them are actually from the 11th. But let's just go ahead and post them anyway.

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Instead of my usual hourly breakdown of the images, here's the general narrative arch (because I can't be bothered to do the time zone conversion that my camera's metadata failed to do.)

We got up early in the morning and left our hotel in London, but before that, we did leave a lovely trail of croissant crumbs behind. We made our way down to St. Pancras Station where we got our train to Belgium. We arrived shortly after lunch time in Antwerp, which is a really interesting city. I stayed with my lovely friend Emily who incidentally is probably my most blogged about friend? Anyway, we've known each other since we were babies in the adult world; newly married and newly moved to Asia. Now we have seven (!!!!) children between the two of us, and about 10 years expat living under our belts.

The babies were pretty wary of each other at first, but Lyra soon became so excited to be around other kids. We hung out a bit, and then went out for a bit of a walk where I fell in love with the beautiful contrast between grit, and baroque gilded gleam with a dash of rad art deco sprinkled in there.

Antwerp is a really lovely city. The town square and old quarter are absolutely worth a visit. I was expecting a pedestrian European city, but was really happily surprised to find that it is really artistic and designy, full of great little shops, beautiful murals, and lovely markets. I really enjoyed my time there, and can't wait to go back and see it under leaf and sun.

Ten on Ten {October}

Is all I ever do here play catch up? I kinda think so. But in the spirit of eternal optimism, let me proclaim THIS TIME I'M GONNA STAY ON TOP OF MY BLOG. Because I like blogging. Regardless of if anyone ever reads my sentimental internet claptrap. And so, with that, I present the ELEVENTH of October, because another eternal truth about me is that I can never meet a deadline. Just ask my kid's kindergarten teacher at drop off time.

 

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05:45 // Woke up by this squawker.

05:55 // Diaper change and costume change.

06:43 // Breakfast face in the mirror.

08:41 // School run in a taxi.

08:43 // Share bikes make my world go round. They are ubiquitous in Shanghai: they cost about 20 cents a half hour; you can find them anywhere; they take you everywhere; you pay for them with your phone; and they are so easy to use. I wish all cities had such a great system. 

09:53 // A rainy day as seen from my office.

12:41 // Crammed as much work into a short time as I was able, then went out to find an ATM before heading home for some reason which now escapes me, and I guess that's why I should not wait four months to write these things.

14:46 // Post nap.

15:19 // On my way to meet Lyra's surgeon who happened to be in Shanghai for a couple of days. 

16:42 // I feel so acutely aware of our good fortune to have such good people supporting us as we navigate Lyra's condition. 

17:22 // Helping me make dinner

Last Year, a Lifetime Ago

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I was drifting through my photo archives the other day and came across this picture of Lyra. She was tiny, maybe four or five months, and we were in the thickets and brambles of her disease. We were between doctors’ appointments, and had time to head up to the North of England to see friends in Harrogate. 

That time feels vague and remote, shrouded with uncertainty, pain, grief. So different from now. But I can time travel back with the flash of an image, a deep breath, closed eyes.

 

Here, I can’t believe I ever worried. There, I didn’t know anything but. 

 

I was recovering the the shock of discovering this disease, the trauma of doctors with grim faces, a parade of them delivering despairing prognoses. Doctors in clinics and hospitals various and sundry acting as though darkness and sadness were foregone conclusions. We wondered would she still see? Would she develop? What of this heart problem? And then, when we came upon doctors who were buoyant, bright, experts in this, doctors who could see me, a mother scared out of her mind, a baby whole and perfect as she is, well I couldn’t believe them. 

And now, this little light, my tiny bird with eyes like a cat, shows me day after day, the glow of her of her perfect wholeness. And now I have this little wonder, who scoots around on her bottom, and crawls with one leg up and one leg dow. My little Birdie who loves cars and stacks them small ones inside big ones and drives the whole lot around brrrrrrruuuuum, brrrrrrruuuuum, who rocks her dolly back and forth, who scoots on top of her brother’s train tracks and topples them as she passes, who eats spaghetti with great love and demands chocolate from whomever she can, who cuddles the dog, blows kisses to me, swats me on the head and says “ow!” My little love who loves her brother maybe most of all. She says “hi” to everyone on the train. She says, bye, outside, hat, and Ed (for the dog) and hot? when we serve her food,  down, ice, eyes, feet, and so many more words than I can think of now. How could I ever have worried about her development? I wish I could just trusted. I wish I could have told myself you will handle it, and you will keep handling it, hard as it may be, you’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll keep striving to be a human.

But of course, back then we didn’t know. And now, we still don’t know. Nothing is promised us. Nothing is promised anyone in this life. Her condition is chronic. Things may be stable for now, and they may continue so for 30 years, or longer. And they also might now. I don’t know. But I know more that I’ll handle it. She’ll handle it. 

In each of my pregnancies, I’ve had a dream at about seven or eight weeks gestation. I’ve dreamt my babies. Each time I’ve seen the baby, known their sex, their hair color, even a hit of their personality. Each time it’s been just one dream, though I’d got to sleep every night wishing for just one more glimpse of the baby. And I had just this dream with Lyra. But I also had two others.  At about six weeks, a dream of a kitten trying to keep it’s head above swirling water. At 20 weeks. A baby having tests and checks, having an operation or an MRI. We were all so worried, huddled and frightened. And then she came out, and white coats said, she’s fine. And she was. 

That’s what I try to hold in my mind.