Cuba, 2017

After my dad died, my mom decided we should all go on a family vacation to somewhere hot and beautiful to make ourselves feel better, so in late May myself, my sister, my mother, my stepdad, my uncle, and our family friend Lindsay wound up in Veradero, Cuba. In classic Sarah fashion, it took me a month to post my travel vlog and photos, but hey, they’re finally here!

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yeah, I was going ~30km/h on this bad boy, one could say i'm Cool™ #😎

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left: caught in veradero rain, right: in habana vieja #instax

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DCIM111GOPRO

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my entire life has been a messy phase

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the blazer in this pic lowkey was my prom dress lol 📷: @lkbelletkin

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Thoughts on Life, After the Death of my Father

Some very emo writing for Father’s Day 2k17, aka exactly 12 weeks since my dad became a spooky ghost. I used to write intimate essays like this all the time, and then I got super depressed and that stopped happening, but this is the first thing I’ve written in a while that I actually liked and wanted to share.

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We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea what time it is or where we are. You borrowed the car to drive to a hill in the suburbs where we can check out the view of Vancouver from afar. I chose this viewpoint from a list of other viewpoints suggested to me by Google because I figured this one would look the best at night, which was when we were meeting up, and I was correct. The city from high up on a cold, rainy night. It made me feel so small, but in a calming way. It was beautiful. And you’re beautiful, even though you maybe don’t know it. And even though it’s maybe in a way that’s– I don’t know, unexpected? Not unconventional, I saw it before, I just hadn’t really thought about it. So: unexpected. This whole thing is so unexpected.

And now I’m thinking about how my father died less than 10 hours ago, which was also unexpected, in a hospital in a suburb, and here I am with you in a car in a different suburb and you haven’t asked me about it, you’re distracting me, which is just what I needed. You are just what I needed. It’s funny how the second you give up on a passionate desire for something, that thing appears in your life. The second you don’t even want it anymore, that’s when it shows up, gift-wrapped with your name on it.

We’re still in your parent’s car, I still have no idea where or when we are, barely a second has passed since I first thought that. My mind keeps racing so quickly I couldn’t even dream of catching up with it. Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. At least that way when I think of my dad it doesn’t have enough time to really sink in. He’s dead. He’s dead he’s dead he’s dead. And I know it, kind of, but then that thought gets replaced so quickly by something else. That’s how grief works, right? You start with denial?

But then I catch myself in the rearview mirror and remember I’m wearing all black, because I’m in mourning. And because I like dressing according to a theme, I guess. It seems appropriate. I don’t really know what is appropriate, though, I don’t really know how to go about grieving.

We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea where or when we are, and I don’t really care anymore. I’m running my fingers through your hair and thinking about how it doesn’t matter, how nothing matters. Life is this strange, unpredictable collection of good and bad, and nobody asks for it, but we do it anyways, and then we die. I’m running my fingers through your hair and thinking about how whatever this is, it’s probably the first good thing to happen to me this year. But no pressure, because when life throws you nothing but lemons in 3 months, you don’t make lemonade, you just get used to the sour. Or, no– you never get used to pain– but you come to expect it. So if all of this goes to shit, you don’t have to feel bad.

Now I’m running my fingers through your hair and I’m kind of laughing at myself, at my nihilism, my black comedy. I think I came out of the womb a nihilist. But I’m not entirely wrong, am I? It’s like that Arthur C. Clarke quotation, “either we’re alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Either what we do matters, or it doesn’t. Both are equally terrifying. The universe doesn’t care that my dad is dead. I’m one person on one planet in one solar system in one galaxy in a universe so massive I can’t even fathom it. It is literally unfathomable. Sometimes, I think about how complex humans and the languages and cultures and societies we’ve developed are. But despite all that complexity, we will never be so great that we are literally unfathomable. We won’t even be great enough that the things we do impact the universe in some big way. Ultimately, none of this means anything. Everything we ever experience is just… passing phenomena.

But, somehow, despite that, something tells me this isn’t gonna go to shit. Or, it will, eventually, because everything does, but not immediately. And it’ll hurt, in the end, and that used to scare the shit out of me. But now I know pain is inevitable, and fearing it is a waste of energy. And something tells me this will be worth the pain. Something tells me it’s gonna be good until then. Something tells me I’m ready now, and I can get it right. And I’m falling for you, but then my mind goes back to death again, and it’s a little hard to be romantic. It doesn’t seem appropriate. I don’t really know what is appropriate, though, I don’t really know how to go about grieving. And for all the practice I’ve had over the years, I find I don’t really know how to go about loving, either.

And then I remember the city from high up on a cold, rainy night. And how it made me feel so small, but in a calming way. And how it was beautiful. And how you’re beautiful. And yeah, I don’t think any of this matters in the grand scheme of things. Not the loss, not the love, none of it. But that… doesn’t have to be terrifying. As of late, I’ve been in a place where I can make an active decision about how I react to and feel about things. I can’t always do it, sometimes the depression and anxiety sinks in and I lose control of myself, but not right now, despite everything, not right now. It doesn’t have to be terrifying. I can choose to see it as something else. As… liberating.

Instead of being scared of the void and the blackness, I’m wrapping it around myself like a blanket. Because it’s comforting, thinking about the absurdity of it all is comforting. Sometimes, yes, we make mistakes and the shitty things that happen to us are our own damn faults, but sometimes life just fucks with you. And it’s so unfair, and it’s so hard to let go, to go on. And the only way I know how to let go is to remind myself of the meaninglessness of it. I don’t need to seek out meaning where there is none. I can simply… be. In emptiness, there is so much room for creation.

We’re in your parent’s car and I have no idea where or when we are, but we’re going forward. That’s all you can do. And then you make me laugh about something or other and I remember that I can still enjoy the ride. Life is this strange, unpredictable collection of good and bad, and nobody asks for it, but we do it anyways, and then we die.

 

Alberta, 2017

sarah goes to alberta

My friends and I went to Alberta for a week in April to kick off the summertime. We spent a day in Edmonton (at the Fantasyland Hotel in the West Edmonton Mall) and the rest of our week in Banff (surrounded on all four sides by the absurdly beautiful Canadian Rockies). It was my first time spending more than just a layover in Alberta, and being in the most artificial place in the world for a day and then the most naturally gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in my life for a week was a strange and wonderful juxtaposition. I’m so happy to have done it with such a fun trio by my side– my friends really made this trip the kind of thing I’ll remember forever and tell my future children about when they ask for tales from my rambunctious youth. Spending a week exploring/hiking during the days and dancing/laughing during the nights was such a privilege and just what I needed at the time to get me out of a weird funk I had been in.

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along Bow River
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left: along Bow River | right: along a highway
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highway views
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my dumb friends
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left: at the Vermillion Lakes | right: at the Dancing Sasquatch– one of two clubs in Banff, and the one we went to several times because COME ON, the DANCING SASQUATCH?? How could we NOT????
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at the Edmonton Greyhound bus station
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at the Vermillion Lakes
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on the banks of Bow River
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#squadgoals ???
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left: highway views | right: at the top of the Tunnel Mountain trail
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along the road to the Vermillion Lakes
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left: at the Fantasyland Hotel | right: at the Edmonton Greyhound bus station
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at the Fantasyland Hotel
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highway views
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on a rollercoaster at Galaxyland, in the West Edmonton Mall
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views from the Tunnel Mountain trail
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at the Banff Upper Hot Springs
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the whole fam at the top of the Tunnel Mountain trail

 

fresh xiii

I had been sort of, vaguely, kinda, half-assed getting back into photography (something I grew up loving, and had always been into but not taken particularly seriously) since January of this year, but after my father died at the end of March I’ve been really delving into it, mostly just by carrying my camera around with me all the time and snapping portraits of my friends. Art has always been what pulls me through rough times, and I have this constant need to ~*~make stuff~*~ so photography has been offering me that immediate tangibility that I seek, plus it gets me out of the house. I’ve been posting a lot on my Instagram, but I can’t post all the outtakes and extra photos from the past couple months on there, so here they are:

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teal/feels

Making moodboards/curating visuals/cataloguing inspiration is lowkey such a powerful de-stressor for me. Here is a ~~vibe~~ that I hope can inspire you like it inspired me.

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left: via Rookie Mag | upper right: by The Pulp Girls | lower right: by Hu Yang & Zhao Jing
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top left: still from The Adventures of Batman | top right: Guy Billout | lower left: via Internet K-Hole | lower right: a quality album cover
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top left: 1970s Ken paper doll fashions | lower left: still from Charlie Brown | right: via Rookie Mag
from the mighty thor
from The Mighty Thor
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left: via Rookie Mag | upper right: stills from Pretty in Pink | lower right: heart-shaped forest, Cantabria, Spain
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left: by Taylor Hoff | right: unknown
belladonna of sadness
still from Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
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upper: ‘Photobook, aged 7’ by Jocelyn Allen | lower left: unknown | lower right: via Internet K-Hole
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upper left: ‘Vous’ room at the Madonna Inn | lower left: unknown | right: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
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upper: Ciara J. Alberts | lower: via The Tragic Sense

 

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