My 2011

Commentary

2011 has treated me well. I travelled, I explored the world through the lens of my diana and lx3 and I read plenty (though not as avidly as I would have liked). Here is my year breakdown.

Note: Most of these are in no particular chronological order

1. The most anticipated item of the year: the stache! After much begging and volunteering to start a fund for movember, I was given the privilege of the stache preview in December. I’m happy to announce that this look is now a permanent fixture in all our joint portraits.

2. November brought a new person into our family unit of two: the Bear. He’s still nameless though he’s much of a character. I caught him reading on my wing chair that night, but I’ve even come home to him watching TV and eating cereal and his most recent feat was climbing the Xmas tree á la King Kong style. We don’t know what he’ll do next, but he sure fits in.

3. Lomography featured largely in 2011, mainly because it was my Xmas present to myself last year. This two-shot was quite a good accident. The third shot, of our other partner in crime, George, brings the photographic trio full circle.

4. Reading in Dublin was a pleasure. This was a small park right outside the biggest park ever, that we traversed on a two-seater bicycle (that was fun!). On this trip I had the lovely company of Margatet Atwood and The Year of the Flood, which I miraculously read through, while managing to do quite enough touring.

5. The beauty of the lomo lens: This colorful scene was straight out of Little Miss Sunshine almost, and lucky for me, just outside my home. The large puddles / lakes that form near the area make for the most spectacular reflections.

6. This birdcage has been in the family for about a decade and it used to be white. Living by the beach has turned it into a wonderful rusty peppermint color that I love. It’s  something that’s not coming off of our veranda wall anytime soon.

7. My grandmother had a rough 2011; in July she broke her ischial spine on her pelvis and was bedridden for about 2 months. She is now mostly recovered and able to walk without the help of a cane, but she’s spent quite a few hard months. This photo was taken during a drastic cleanup of her house. Quite unlike my normal photographic habits, I decided to take a self-portrait in my grandmother’s yard during the big mess.

8. Taking it easy with the kids: the cutest niece a person could have. Learning to be patient: the only thing that got me out of 2011 reasonably sane.

9. Discovered gloriously delicious tea from tea pigs, palais des thés bubblegum tea and generally stored up in herbal goodness in 2011.

10. Tried my first, and most likely last, bitter ale at the Guinness Factory. Trying out the 120 format on lomo was fun, but also disappointing: I had a whole 120 color film completely ruined by overexposure, and thus forever a mystery.

11. The year of many notes, by no letters, sadly. Friends across the world (you know who you are), I will make it up to you in 2012!

12. The endless pursuit of great indie coffee/ tea shops continues. I have just added a great one in old Nicosia:  Τα εφτά κλειδιά

13. My lovely, lovely mom. 2011 came along with a new resolution: more portraits. This is as candid as it gets.

14. Taking dark alleys and forgotten routes has always brought out the best exploration photos. If you exclude the rancid smell of urine, that is.

15. I love feet shots and always will. Our other addition to the household is Pingoo, our friendly bed penguin. My friend Gigi, understands my feet addiction and follows suit.

16. Paying closer attention to detail really got me out of 2011. As a perfectionist, I’ve got the bug for getting lost and sidetracked in intricate details that really have no use for the purpose at hand. It’s a problem I am gradually coming to terms with.

17. Back in the middle ages, maps read: There be dragons here. Discovering the wonderful Custard Factory in Birmingham was a resulted of our chat with an art gallery personnel, who ended up drawing a little map of how to get there in my journal. After walking for hours past the commercial junk recommended to us by the air host, we finally got there and it was wonderfully refreshing.

18. My belated Xmas present arrived sometime in January. A new toy and a new perspective. It was quite amusing that we got each other cameras for Xmas. It also made shooting more difficult now with so many choices.

19. Bicycles everywhere in the city of Dublin. Renting some off the bike stations resulted in some near-death experiences, but ultimately great fun. It also led to the sad realization that Cyprus will never be bike friendly, thanks to all the reckless drivers.

20. A quiet vigil at Phoinikoudes, Larnaca after the explosion at Mari. This really shook up the whole island and those days were dark and bleak. I can’t say that that there will be much light on the case, in due time. Disappointment prevails.

21. My bike was a birthday present from 2010, but it really travelled great distances in 2011. On the last day of 2010, I remember riding across timid rain capturing the very last moments of the year. Here, we were riding across the vast expanse that is Oroklini lake, near my apartment. It felt out of this world, but all those mosquito bites put things in a realistic perspective.

22. The year of Catan, surely. The game was a gift by a fellow friend, but was neatly tucked into the closet because its instructions were a goddamn booklet. So after a year of storage, my friend was in Cyprus and he finally showed me how to play in less than half an hour. It soon became an addiction. Midnight Catan sessions that progressed way into the early morning hours, fueled by cookies and hot tea and when hungrier, Indian cuisine. It really left its mark on 2011, and now we’ve got the expansion pack and I’m convinced we’re turning into the Cypriot version of the Big Bang Theory somehow. Who’s Sheldon?

23. One of our most beloved agrotourist locations in Cyprus is 3 Elies. It’s the most authentic little resort smack in the middle of nowhere. There’s fireplace, nature trails, great trout for dinner made my Androulla, and many many cats. This multiple exposure hides two.

24. Met my nieces and nephew in the summertime for the first time. This was a walk on the beach, when my niece was so excited to see the sea. It makes me blush that I take it for granted.

25. 2011 brought with it a lot of new recipes. For Easter I attempted to make candy pops, that tasted OK but didn’t look like the real thing. Luckily no one knew the original idea, so considered my own works of art. The bows and sticks featured were in preparation for the choc pops.

26. The sun sets on Oroklini lake. Discovering the beauty of my area has surely been a highlight of 2011. I have just recently taken up jogging along the beach every morning before work and I’m surprised that I never made the most of the what is available to me here until now.

27. A hurried trip to the city of my heart: Chania, Crete. On the weekend of Monday of Lent, we escaped to Chania to revisit memories, old friends and favorite spots.

28. My failed resolution to pick up rock-climbing as a hobby. Maybe 2012 will be kinder to this resolution. After observing a group of climbers, we headed for Ayios Nicolas for some biking and I almost fainted on those altitudes. It resulted in a half-hour surprise nap by a river, while my other half was having fun taking photos of me passed out from fatigue.

29. Beautiful dusk from my window. Those reflections, those colors — make me remember why I could never leave here.

30. Pimped rides with pegasus, but 2011 was the year I bid my little old car, Dot,  goodbye. Just as I wasn’t looking, I managed to get myself a deal on my car, and ended up with a brand new Toyota Aygo. Its flaming red is more to my taste than the old black. But Dot was my first car, and as such, very dearly missed.

31. Kids will be kids, but grownups need to be kids too sometimes. Relearning life through a 4-year-old’s perspective ain’t easy, but it’s good.

32. Having the sister to myself has been a treat. Here, we went on a great photowalk across town and I snapped this great portrait of her. Hopefully 2012 will bring a collaboration that could result in some monetary fruit, if she ever agrees to listen to my ideas!

33. I’m thankful for having friends who will willingly drop everything for an existential conversation about the meaning of it all. 2011 has taught me that I am definitely a lot more complex than even I ever imagined. I’m slowly learning to accept the most unexpected things about me, and more importantly, to embrace risk and learn from it.

34. 2011 changed the way I saw my life. Taking hard decisions is part of life, and being honest with what you like and don’t like is equally important. You need to be passionate about what you do full time, and if you’re not, you must change something. I’m changing things in 2012, but without 2011’s insight, I would be nowhere.

35. There’s a lot of home, in homemade, and I carry it with me in whatever I do: From jewelry, to writing, to photography to baking. You can’t separate the past from the present and carrying it with you is a good thing, really.

36. This unconventional portrait of my mom makes me think that there’s always a hidden side to us. And we sometimes hide it from ourselves even, but it’s there. I’m trying to reconcile myself with my hidden side, which is full of flaws and misery and pessimism, but hey, I’m not there yet. I’m trying, and that counts, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a great 2012. I await for it eagerly.

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Snap it

Commentary

If you think your iPhone app can do pretty much what this little gem can, then the this article is not for you. It’s for unsuspecting photography nerds who like photos more than cameras, but need cameras more than photos. Does it make sense? Then read on.

I’m not the greedy type, to be honest. Sure, I become fixated and obsessed on objects but not if I already have a similar object that gets the job done. That was my take on photography when I first started experimenting with my precious burgundy point-and-shoot Sony T200. It was small enough to fit in my bag on a daily basis, it was simple to use and met all of my needs. Until last year when I stumbled onto lomography entirely by a fortuitous accident. Then into my life, came the Diana.

With its unpredictable grainy view of life I was hooked: flash filters, multiple exposures, redscale films — I was hooked on a life of analogue and curious snapshots. I took photos more liberally and intently that I ever did with my digital camera and the result, no matter how far from my original intention, always surprised and fueled my fervor for film. Around the same time, I was given the Panasonic LX3, a great upgrade from my burgundy treasure and suddenly I was granted with choice — a dangerous thing.

It is around then that I started to appreciate the need for more than one camera: each one tells the story of the capture moment differently. Each camera is a new set of eyes with which to view the world, and I now find myself in the awkward situation of wanting more than my one set of eyes. Fellow photographers get this, everyone else thinks I’ve just wasted my money on another camera (insert condescending eye roll here). But hey, you can’t blame a girl for wanting to see the world in fresh ways, right?

Right.

 

 

 

Get me the gear

Commentary

I was always the kid whoshowed up all red-eyed on the first day of school because of no sleep the night before. You can blame it on the stress of the first day, or the excitement of returning to routine, or downright weird, but it happened every single year. Now, on the more responsible end of classroom, my problem is mostly managing to wake up on the first day of school not sleep. But if there’s one thing that merits excitement at the beginning of the new school year, it’s nerdy supplies. And whenI say nerdy, I mean nerdy. 

These are some of my most coveted items for the new school year (take note, readers):

it's an achievement during the school year

*sigh*

Become a gamer: check

Commentary

I loved the 90s even though I never owned a Nintendo Gameboy. My best friend did and I have some memories of a vague 8-bit version of Mario chasing after mushrooms. I dreamt in geometric Tetris blocks once in a blue moon, only in hope. You see, I was never a gamer child because my parents were against it. We didn’t even have a computer in the house until I was about 14, not that we minded much.

But now, I see the side effects to that kind of upbringing. For starters, I go gaga over any technological gadget out there. Granted, pretty much every one does, but my problem goes a step further: I obsess. As I also obsess about the fact that in an alternate universe, I might have been a gamer. So I bought myself a Wii console, because now I pretty much make up the rules of what I can and cannot buy. And just when I was about to give up on it — you can play wii resort and wii party so many times on your own, after all — I discovered Monkey Island. And World of Goo. And and and. And just when I had started to give up on my latent gamer persona theory, BAM! I am now a no-life, addicted fiend.

Mission accomplished?

I’m starting to have my doubts. My parents knew something after all…

Text me

Commentary

My cellphone beeps quietly when an incoming message comes through. It’s so discreet that I often don’t even hear it, much to my relief, to be honest with you. On the rare occasions that I don’t have the radio playing in my car — I find it hard to resist the daily crap that local stations broadcastreligiously — I may catch the end of my jazzy ringtone (key word: rare). Sure, I have, at times, stupidly rummaged through my bag while driving in an attempt to pick up on time, for once. But since my bad hearing goes hand-in-hand with my clumsiness, I thought it prudent to invest in a set of headphones.

On the up side of this, I’m more alert to incoming calls whilst driving. On the downside, I’m also aware of incoming text messages, which I occasionally read at red lights. Recently, I’ve been getting quite a number of messages, all of them from sources unknown to me. Mercedes texts me on a regular basis, Audi R8 has added me as a contact recently, NRG is a devoted spammer, BMW X5 ditto. Can someone please tell me what ever happened to privacy? I don’t even know how or when these companies acquired my number, but surely there must be a breach of privacy here? Whenever I sign up for something, I always make it a point to tick the box that says Do not spam me or so help you God! So what gives spammers?

A reasonable person might point me to a simple solution: these spammers are not really offending anyone since they offer a toll-free number at the bottom of every text message that allows you to be taken off the illegitimate list of cell numbers. Sure, I’ve noticed it! It’s a toll-free number that is always busy. In fact, I’m even questioning its validity because I’ve tried to call it every single time I get another chance to enter a mega-competition-or-else. It’s just useless.

If companies are not respecting individual right to privacy, or even offering the chance to defend my right by ticking the much-coveted box, why isn’t there a no-call / no-text registry in Cyprus? If I get one more spam message in the middle of the night, I think I’m going to give up on my cellphone altogether. Or life.

Tying the knot

Commentary

Everyone assures you that there’s no pressure. As a matter of fact, this very statement makes my heart stop for a few seconds. Why the reassurance for something that isn’t an issue to begin with? This catch-22 forms the very core of Cypriot culture: don’t worry too much, but we’re watching you; don’t stress yourself about it, we’re already stressed out for you; no need to push yourself, we’ll push you. At times it feels as if living my life is a vicariously shared experience with half the people in this town. Oh wait, facebook granted me that.

But let me give facebook some credit. If anything, facebook redefined relationships: single and looking, it’s complicated because I’m that cool or in a relationship and it’s serious. Recently, on my newsfeed more and more relationship status changes are creeping up: from relationship to engaged and, lo and behold, from engaged to married! Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing better than seeing friends living their version of happily ever after but does this happy ending have to happen to everyone at the same time? My savings account pleads otherwise.

Add all of this in the real dimension and you’ve got yourself set up for moments of awkwardness. Last week we were in a bit of a pickle, my boyfriend and I. Seated at a local alternative hotspot with a couple of friends, drinking our wine and fooling around, we thought the alcohol had gone to our head when we saw a ring on our friend’s finger. We were flabbergasted but elated, we were delirious and exploded in riotous laughter: it was a moment of utter and complete joy.

But then.

Yes, then as we were about to toast to new beginnings, my significant other and I were the odd ones out. It didn’t matter, really, but it was an “all-eyes-are-on-you” kind of moment, and my boyfriend, not one to disappoint, was tactfully trying to remove the perrier bottle cap ring in mock-engagement to a life of gas and bottled liquified happiness. Sure, no pressure.

So here I am, hanging out here at the bottom of the barrel and I am simply echoing we are still young. Can we move to a new dimension, where I am still armed with the element of surprise and I can actually move beyond the tight little squares under my feet that dictate my directionless movement? When I get there, I’ll update my facebook status. Watch for it in your newsfeed.

Do you speak djeaksli?

Commentary


Hwia j jekhuiosdk H skunm, eippaem oi husyehj hjs. Apwoke nmxh hs kuawer sk? Rjia ojk pwopen ase.

In my head, all of the above makes sense. I have the uncanny ability to take words and mix them up, re-invent them if you like. I make nonsense out of sense, because that’s simply more fun than logical. I often don’t know what I’m talking about and I most certainly can’t understand my thoughts, but at least I know that I created the confusion in the first place.

It works wonders for my sanity.  Others may be intimidated by life and other such existential questions, but no, I am anything but deterred when it comes to lifting my little finger and dusting off the “where am I going” chapter of yours truly. That’s a big question; I hardly ever know where I’m going literally, let alone figuratively or worse yet, in ten years’ time! To avoid from going insane, I start to think / speak nonsense, because I understand it better than I  understand the big questions of life. All I’ve realized is that there are no answers. And the questions? They keep getting harder if you listen to the little, tiny you inside.

So when the going gets tough, the tough gets nonsensical. Try it, it wklwues.

Switch off

Commentary

Today I’m not going to drink more than three cups of tea, no matter how much I convince myself that my throat hurts or I have that craving. I will drink more water and I will make a mental tally of the liters I down by night time. It will be close to the big two and I will feel a sense of achievement for doing something that should be part of my mundane routine anyway.

I will not spend hours getting tangled up in website links and referrals and e-mails and replies. I don’t have to update my facebook status or tweet that I’m drinking water for the day because it is not important. I will not open photoshop to edit any one of my candidate photos for flickr. I won’t even browse other photographs for inspiration and I most definitely will not log in on tumblr. All that inspiration and clicks can be downright distracting, especially if it leads me to etsy. I cannot allow myself to go on etsy, or any other online shop for that matter, because today of all days, there will be no window shopping. Even my metaphorical wallet is empty.

I will make the bed in the morning, and I will actually eat breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day I persistently choose to forget. I will call my mom to see how she is because I will remember to reach out across the telephone line that separates the measly distance between us. If I’m ambitious, I will also make the 10-minute drive to see my grandmother, who speaks in television language because that is all the company she has. I will make her day by sitting down next to her and listening to all the episodes I missed during the week. I will call my friends for a casual coffee drink of water and I will make the effort to be more than a Facebook friend.

Today, I will set aside time to read my book, even if I’ve forgotten its title from the time it’s been to hold it. I will not do this before I sleep because I want to read more than just a couple of sentences. I will write in my real journal, not my blog, about the thoughts in my mind, the things I most wish for, the quotidien that saturates my minutes. I will think of friends abroad and actually call them. Or better yet, I will sit down and write them a letter, not an e-mail. I will play songs I’ve forgotten about and I will sing along fearlessly. I will take a walk on the beach and I will write a poem. I will jot down my ideas on actual paper that is inside a thought notebook, not a post-it note.

Today, I’m changing everything. It all starts today.

Meow

Commentary


I grew up in an apartment block. Loosely translated that means that I have no fond memories of kicking the ball around with the kids next door, or riding my bicycle through the streets without a worry. I had to turn 27 to do that.

To be fair, it’s not that the neighborhood vibe didn’t exist where I lived, but the view from the one side was the busy avenue with cars and beeps and danger, while the back view used to be an abandoned field that turned into a football field on weekends and a car park by night. I never ventured out to play because I was afraid of balls, and besides it was much more fun to be the writer, madly typing made-up stories on my typewriter about what life would be like on the streets. I was a peculiar child.

It wasn’t until 13 that I learned about cats. We were always a dog-loving family; we considered cats too indifferent to love and a bit of a hazard at the height of five floors. As such, I never experienced the incessant meowing in the dead of the night, when all but the cat kingdom lays still. I got my fair dose of that while staying over at my grandmother’s while the parental units were on vacation.  The TV was playing the popular telenovela of the time (before  dubbing hit the scene) and suddenly I heard something. A few minutes later, I heard it again. Surely it was coming from the garden. I raised an eyebrow and wore my Sherlock Holmes expression and rose to the investigation. As I neared the back door to the garden, the sound became louder and it was unmistakably a…a….baby! A baby in the garden! My mind was scribbling stories of a heartless mother, an unwanted baby abandoned in the garden to be found and raised by us. The excitement!

I quickly went to my grandmother and whispered that I had something urgently serious to tell her. I pulled her to the side and whispered the breaking news: I think there’s a baby in the garden. Listen.

Quiet. Followed by fits of laughter.

How was I supposed to know it was a cat? I’m sure someone else has made this comparison before, no? It’s the freakiest love call in the world, if you ask me. I’m  convinced it’s an ultimatum: I’ll stop your ears from bleeding if you give me some.

And hey, I’m not even being vulgar.

What bananas don’t want

Commentary

by Adventures of Miss ViVi Gold

There was one thing I was sure of this year: the present I wanted for Christmas. I came up with all the legitimate excuses to console myself that this was the be all and end all of necessary fun, currently absent from my life.

The must-have object, as is always the case, came in a sleek box and cost something in the range of the three digits. Previously decried as the quintessential boy object (make that previously synonymous to the middle ages, mind you), I became possessed with having this perfect little companion on my piece of furniture. To dust off and to show off, surely. Let’s face it girls, calling something “boys only” is so last century. The broiling feminist inside me wanted to win this one out.

So I worked myself up, and hinted lightly at first, throwing in a word or two, followed by a smile. Who me? A present? Don’t be silly! Well if you really want to buy me something so much then sure go ahead and get me a ————. Never serious, but totally so. As Christmas day neared, I followed a more persistent approach: I started browsing accessories to go with said possession, as though I already owned it. Anyone heard of positive thinking? Invented by me, I assure you. Did it work? Hell, yeah! I know this because quite unsuspectingly, without having the thing, I felt like I did already. I even window shopped for it, I acted like I had it and I had it — in my head. And with having, comes overuse, and with overuse comes boredom. And then a new resolute: NOT to own this stupid object. EVER.

As I marked it clearly on my 2011 resolution list, I was thankful for everyone around me who paid me no mind. All the presents under the tree where things I never asked for, and I still have lots of time before boredom sets in.

Happy new year everyone!