To Hamline and Back Again

October 21, 2014 § 2 Comments

Hamline University is a small private college in St. Paul where I earned my undergraduate degree and spent my formative years trying to shake my shyness and become something more than the sweet, smart, quiet girl I was in high school.

The shyness eventually fell away but I didn’t quite figure out the “something more” in those early years. I rarely knew where I was headed, and I didn’t feel comfortable with the choices I was making. I considered pre-med but suffered through organic chemistry. Eventually I hid behind an English major, but wasn’t quite sure how I arrived at that decision. I loved and did well in English, but never thought I was particularly good at critical thinking or creative writing, although I knew I had a strange and clever imagination that held stories waiting to be told.

In school and for many years afterward, I never called myself a writer and never thought I was particularly good at the craft other than the basics like grammar and structure and fact documentation. I was sure my career would never evolve beyond business or technical writing.

And so far it hasn’t. I earn my living writing speeches or presentations or articles or white papers or process documents about complicated financial products or hotel customer service or truck hydraulic systems. I like it. I’m good at it. But the desire to write without barriers, for those who appreciate a good story, hasn’t abated.

Approximately 10 years after graduation, I stumbled upon The Loft, nestled on the edge of downtown Minneapolis and one of the best writing centers in the country, and I’ve continued taking classes there for nearly 15 years. Earlier today I finished a fantastic and challenging class on flash fiction, a genre that fits my weird imagination, condensing all my wild thoughts down into small, mysterious, funny, sad, succinct narratives. For days I fretted over the last story I wrote for class, but my instructor’s and classmates’ responses and comments allowed me to linger in that “maybe I am a writer” space for a few fleeting hours.

Hours that found me back at Hamline where all those dreams of one day calling myself a writer but never believing it began. I returned to my old college library this afternoon, a place where I’d spent many a day and night fretting about chemistry formulas and philosophies while trying to craft papers on symbolism in Toni Morrison’s fiction.

Every so often I’d find myself peeking out the third-floor window, gazing across campus to my old dorm and watching the current students passing underneath, wishing I had the chance to start over again with the knowledge and confidence I possess now but lacked 25 years ago.

But then again, why go there? What is life (and, for that matter, what is a story) without struggle and indecision and despair and doubt, especially in those early years? I guess that’s what the journey is all about. If everything was crystal clear that early in life, we’d stop searching and growing and coming back to where it all started, looking to see how far we’ve come.

So I’ll continue to go back to The Loft and Hamline and other places that remind me of where I’ve come from but that continue to give me hope that I’m headed in the right direction. And with each visit, I’ll try not to look back with anything other than gratitude, for there’s much to celebrate since those tentative, thrilling, confusing, exhilarating college days. And why would I want to miss out on the present and future my experiences at these places continue to grant me?

* * *

One can’t go back to campus, of course, without bringing one’s camera. A few pictures from my afternoon at the place where I began adulthood.

Highway 73

October 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Points of interest spotted along the drive back to the Twin Cities.

Around the Yard

October 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Listen to Your Mom

October 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

Last spring Mom suggested I take more photos of colorful flowers. I reminded her I had lots of photos of flowers. She said, “You can never have too many pictures of flowers.”

Today we were on a walk. She pointed ahead to a brilliant red bush and said I should take a picture. I said I already had so many photos of leaves. She said, “You can never have too many photos of colorful leaves.”

Right again, Mom. You have to enjoy the beautiful times of year while they last, for they are fleeting.

Note: She also suggested I take a photo of the leaves looking through her Jackie O. sunglasses. Cool.

Red leaves, normal

Red leaves, normal

Red leaves , through sunglasses

Red leaves , through sunglasses

Apples

Apples

Crabapples

Crabapples

Dewey Lake

October 17, 2014 § 9 Comments

I spent the afternoon with a family friend. His home, surrounded by birches, sits on a peninsula on pristine Dewey Lake, and as a child, I filled many fantastic days here playing, fishing, and snowmobiling, among other adventures.

Dock Birch Peninsula Birches and evergreens

Boys of Brooklyn

October 16, 2014 § 4 Comments

Two elementary-aged boys, enjoying a day off school, approached me as I took photographs this afternoon in Brooklyn. It’s an old part of my hometown, a section I never really explored until I started taking photos regularly a few years ago.

The boys were inquisitive and charmed me with their constant chatter, moving effortlessly from one topic to the next. If I’d stayed all afternoon, they would have entertained me with their imaginations as well as tales of their lives, neighborhood, and ambitions.

I’ve interspersed pieces of our conversation with some of the photos I took.

Candy office

Candy office

Boy 1: I got this bike for free.

Boy 2: No, you didn’t. Just the tire.

Boy 1: Uh-uh. The whole thing was free.

Boy 2: No, just the tire.

East Hibbing Garage

East Hibbing Garage

Brooklyn Fire Hall

Brooklyn Fire Hall

Boy 1: I saw you taking photographs over there.

Camille: Do you like taking pictures?

Boy 1: Nah. I like bikes.

Camille: Are you enjoying having a day off from school?

Boy 1: Yeah. It’s okay, but Christmas vacation is better, because you get 15 days off.

Camille: And summer. Summer you get a big break.

Boy 1: Well, yeah, summer. That’s a given. That’s like 94 days off.

Fraboni

Fraboni

Boy 1: I’ve climbed every tree in this neighborhood. My grandparents live in Alaska.

Camille: Wow.

Boy 2: My brother lives in Alaska too.

Camille: Have either of you been to Alaska?

Boy 1: No. I’ve been to Wisconsin, but that doesn’t count because it’s attached to Minnesota.

Boy 2: I haven’t been to any other state.

Camille: Do you like living in this neighborhood?

Boys 1 and 2: Yes!

Boy 1: But people steal your stuff. That’s why my dad joined the army, so people wouldn’t try stealing from us.

Hibbing Bowling Center

Hibbing Bowling Center

Bowling

Bowling

[As I'm taking a photo of an old shed]

Boy 1: That burned.

Camille: When?

Boy 1: Oh, about five years ago. You can go in there if you want. You don’t need to be scared.

Camille: I’ll pass.

Boy 1: Someone told me there were big snakes living in there, but I went in and stayed for two hours and didn’t see any snakes.

Boy 2: We could make it into a house! We could live in there.

Roy G. Biv: Violet

October 15, 2014 § 6 Comments

I’ve made it to the final day of my color experiment. Indigo was difficult to pinpoint in terms of hue, but violet won the prize for hardest to find. But it’s out there, and I took liberties to include everything from lilac to purple to eggplant to plum.

All photos were taken today in northern Minnesota on an exquisite autumn day. Moderate temps, full sun, and changing leaves made for a beautiful landscape, and based on the drive north, I’m guessing the entire state is bathed in fabulous color.

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