Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Year Of Firsts

Make no mistake, I don't hate 2008. I learned so much, I lived so much and I experienced so much. I reconnected with friends, I found a love for hiking and photography, I found that I can be miles away from family and friends and they are still just as great of friends to me as if I still lived there. I think all experiences are positive. You can learn something from each thing that happens to you. It's up to you to grow from it or to let it keep you down. I look forward to 2009 because it's a new year full of new experiences. I can't wait to see what it brings.

So to to honor this crazy year of discovery, I thought that I would share my firsts through my photos.

My first post was a goodbye to my home in LA. A lovely two story Craftsman home that I spent only 4 months in. It was my first place living alone after getting out of a terrible relationship with a man who, although taught me quite a bit about myself, never really got me. When I look back in hindsight, he was very "me-focused" and self centered, but at the same time very self deprecating and insecure. He grew up in LA (go figure) and was originally going to be a minister, but decided that being a rock star was more up his alley. I learned so much from him that even now it's hard for me to truly be angry with him for the bad times. His encyclopedic knowledge of music was so contagious that we would spend hours discussing an album. I think my favorite moment with him was at a Dead Can Dance concert at the Hollywood Bowl. As we listened to the music flowing over the crowd, drinking a bottle of wine and eating pieces of brie, we dissected each song as they played...much to the chagrin of our neighboring concert goers.

My first trip up the Oregon coast via highway 101 was a crazy experience. Taking 3 days from LA to Seattle, Panda and I traveled through countless cities and towns. Saw so many sights that I can't even list all of them. It was an awesome experience that I will remember forever. My favorite moment was on a black beach off the highway in Oregon. We pulled off for Panda to take some shots of the massive rocks and the waves that crashed against them, and as I looked back to take in the view I noticed that our footprints were the only ones in the sand. I took this picture with my iPhone.

I never actually wrote a post about my adventure to Mt. Si. I had done some hiking trips with Panda, but Si was our first big hike. Originally we were planning on doing Little Si (5 miles round trip, 1200 ft elevation gain) but after a hard family day and a little teriyaki we decided to just say "f it" and head up the big mountain (8 miles round trip, 3,400 ft elevation gain). We were ill prepared and a little lost so we ended up at the Little Si trail. I was hungover and the first mile was agony, I almost threw up but I pushed on. There was a spur off the main trail and, as adventurous as Panda and I had been lately, we decided to take it.

A grueling few hours later we found ourselves connected to the main Mt. Si trail. We had taken the old trail which is actually one mile shorter (by some accounts) but with an extra added elevation gain of about 300 ft. This may not seem like a lot, but this trail is straight up the mountain, no switchbacks, on a primitive trail.

We reached the summit by sunset and ate what little food we had brought and tried to conserve water for the hike down. I had started to go into survival mode and was eating snow to keep hydrated. I snapped a picture of myself and of Haystack, the actual summit of Mt. Si, which is a scramble to the top.

The hike down was lit by only a small pen light and a cell phone. We had no food, hardly any water and had to find a trail that was poorly marked in the dark. I began to freak. Panda turned to me and said "You need to hold it together because I can't be strong enough for the both of us right now." That comment has stayed with me on each hike. I've learned that I must be just as strong as my partner on a hike for it to be successful. I can't give up at the top of a mountain and say "I'm done now", I have to find my way back. These lessons that I've learned hiking have helped me infinitely in life and I credit the trip up Si as the defining moment that everything for me changed. I learned to be strong, I learned to never give up, to pick my battles and to not rely on others for my source of strength.

water gooood

My first hike in Los Angeles was with my cousin Blake and my uncle George. This was probably my favorite moment from the whole trip. George is only 12 years older than me and he and his wife are about the most put together couple I've ever met. They are awesome parents to their three children, Carolyn (his wife) is a drug and alcohol counselor for teens, my uncle is a rocket scientist and my cousins are the most intelligent and loving children I've ever known. I relate to them so much and I miss them every day. On a hot day in August, hiking in the desert with my two favorite people, I  had never felt happier.

Don't Shoot Me

The first time I was ever shot at.


My first photo assignment. 

my first picture

On September 20th I said goodbye to my point and shoot and hello to my new Canon Rebel XT DSLR. This was my first picture that I ever took with my camera. When I bought it I had a mini nervous breakdown. Looking back it seems silly, but I think it was because I had finally found something that was an outlet for me. I've felt restricted and claustrophobic, with all this artistic energy and no way to express it. This has become my way. Hardly a day goes by that I'm not shooting or thinking of a shot I'd like to take. I'm constantly scouring the internet for tutorials, playing with my photos in Photoshop and looking to others for inspiration. I don't think I've ever had something so profoundly mine.

cottonwood lake peak

Of course I had to start investing in lenses. This was my first shot in the field with my 70-300.


I will end with my favorite photo of 2008. It's alone, fallen from a tree and dead but still beautiful. It signifies the end of a season, with the promise of what is to come. It's smooth lines bring you out of the shot and towards something new.

My hope for the new year is that I continue to grow, that I travel, that I don't dwell and that I learn from the mistakes of others and myself. I hope the world becomes a little calmer and we begin to appreciate the earth as responsible inhabitants and appreciate this gift we have been given by God...which ever one we decide to worship. I hope for tolerance, I hope for love...and I hope to lose 20 pounds :)

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for a wonderful year!

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