Thursday, December 31, 2009

Scratch a Match and Sete, France

"Madame Li's Home Care Worker", Sete, France, September 2009. Juliana Beasley

Hi All!

I thought a last note might be a photograph from my new book called "Sete 2010". I lived and photographed in Sete, France during September 2009. I learned a lot during the residency. Hard lessons learned, but now the book is being laid out and it will be out in the Spring of 2010.

It was a difficult journey but in the end, I feel like I came away with a lot.

So, here are a couple of images that are about an aging Vietnamese woman living in Sete.

"Madame Li Holding Photograph of Herself as Young Woman", Sete, France. 2009. Juliana Beasley

"Madame Li's Slippered Feet", Sete, France, September, 2009. Juliana Beasley

Happy New Years....


Write a list of the resolutions you want to bring into the New Year and then write a list of what you want to leave behind in 2009.

Scratch a match and light the list of things you want to put behind you. Do this is in a safe place, don't use fuel such as gasoline.
I like to do these ceremonies over my aluminum sink. Let the smoke take it up to the universe and say, "So, long suckers!"

Peace and love and compassion in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Days of the Decade

As I've walked the streets of Jersey City, headed to my overpriced gym which has become a necessity in my mental wellness, I have mulled over many things that I would like to write on my blog as we reach the New Year 2010.

I've thought of my friend, Brian who died several weeks ago in the Rockaways and how going out there won't be the same. I've thought about all the dear friends, new and old that came into my life over the last year and how they really got me through some rough patches. And they are still there.

I thought about my lack of motivation to post anything at all unless it was seamless... which as you know it never is... it's always full of grammatical and spelling errors.

So, this is lame but all I could come up with was a groovy tune. And it made me wonder what my life would be like without music. The music that makes me dance and sit and just listen.

So, I toast to good vibrations and hope to send them out and maybe they'll come back to me in 2010. And to you too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sad Sad News

I'm back!

I was taking the light rail from Hoboken to Jersey City, listening to my messages on my cell phone. 

It was Michelle from the Rockaways.  Bryan died in his sleep a week ago. I'll miss him and his sun glazed body, riding down Rockaway Boulevard.  Summer won't be the same with him or will the rest of the year. 

I plan to post some pictures of him that I took of him 2 years ago. For now, I just wanted to send my blessings out to all of those whom will miss him. He was only 39. 

He brought sunshine and laughter into my life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Irish Christmas.... Ode to the Rockaways

"Untitled 1", Rockaways, NYC, 2008. Juliana Beasley

"Untitled 2", Rockaways, NYC, 2008. Juliana Beasley

"Untitled 3", Rockaways, 2008. Juliana Beasley

"Untitled 4", Rockwaways, NYC., 2008. Juliana Beasley

Untitled for now. Later date. Tomorrow? Maybe, I'll have words coming out of my fingers.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Nails Have Improved...Now My Feet!

A quick post here! I am please to make note that my nails now look more feminine. But, one thing is holding me back. My nature of my genetic makeup, I have my mother's veiny hands. They look like peasant worker hands.

So, be it! I work with my hands. I have fashioned them short, now using a nail clipper instead of my incisors. I am pushing back my cuticles the ol' fashion way, in the shower with my thumb nail. No, painting. It's just too much of a commitment!

Now, on to my feet. The first thing I do after I get some kind of health care--please, make this happen soon-- and get to the gynecologist is go and get my bunions chopped off. Another genetic flaw. Some things are just out of our control.

Like how I feel right now, this moment. Feelings, you win me over and you fail me. Too many feelings, too little time. Maybe it ain't so bad after all to focus on manicures and pedicures.

Or what I find doing this morning, popping out my anti-depressants out of weekly sample packages that my new psych (more than half a year) gave me to last me through the month. Nice simple meditative work...with every push of the pill through the thin aluminum shield comes the hope for a better day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where Are You Now?

"Kaylani Outside Our Motel Room", Tampa, Florida, 1994?

Dear Kaylani,

Where are you now? Remember we lived out of this cheap weekly pay motel in Tampa, Florida? I remember we used to have lot's of fun and you could make me laugh so much!

You dyed your hair golden, straightened it and then put it up in curlers. My hair was in a blonde flip. Our room was a mess and we left the "do not disturb" hanging on our door knob at all times. Finally, the motel cleaning service infiltrated are slobby den. I think we lived there for a month.

I walked down the highway and found a groovy thrift shop. I bought a great pair of men's swim shorts with rainbow stripes down the side.

I'm sorry we lost touch. I saw this picture of you tonight and had to post it. What year was it....I think it was 1994?

Get in touch if you can.

With Affection,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dr. Rosenthal, Please tell me It's Countertransference

"Self-Portrait in Minimal Motel"Austin, Texas. July 2002. Juliana Bealsey.
Mark and I shared this room. I hardly knew him.

In 1997,I flipped in India and not on my own accord. My parents died in 1997 and 1998, my mother first and then my father. Everything became too colorful and bright, too loud and I couldn't turn the volume down. I guess it already was. Very loud and very messy.

I wrote the following after a series of two psych hospitalizations at Gracie Square, one at Beth Isreal and finally Christ Hospital in New Jersey. Two in 2001 and two in 2002. This was the early part of the century...and my life had become empty and listless. Everything was fractured and time stopped for too long. I holed up in my apartment for days without leaving, ordering in Guayanese jerk chicken, eating out of aluminum trays.


My Beloved Dr. Rosenthal

You would have thought I lost all my dignity, right? Wrong. Here I was on the Upper East Side and I wasn’t shopping at Tiffany’s. I was sitting on a plastic mattress covered in over bleached sheets. I was at Gracie Square, on the third floor. I was in a psychiatric ward. It was my second hospitalization in two months. Three weeks earlier my psychiatrist, Dr. Rosenthal had suggested a three-week hospitalization to ease the transition from one medication to the other. I refused and once unmedicated got sick.

I was in love with Dr. Rosenthal. My friend Lia, a wisecracking ingénue stripper with a rough smoky voice said, “You’re on the ‘Loveboat’.” Except, Dr. Rosenthal never made it to the boat for departure. And I wasn’t even moored in the harbor. I was dry-docked and having my barnacles removed.

Let’s take a reality check for a moment. Dr. Rosenthal was no Burt Lancaster or my personal favorite Monty Cliff. He looked more like the cartoon dog Droopy with sad puppy eyes. He was sixty plus and had a little paunch. It didn’t matter to me. He was a perfect amalgamation of reservation, academia, and handful of irrestible eccentricities. Perhaps, it was his nervous posturing, crossing his arms and looking intently over his yellow legal pad and notes, trying to figure out the perfect pharmaceutical combination for me. Or maybe it was his steady monotone nasal voice that occasionally peaked in laughter—the tonal inflection and the softing of his eyes were so remarkable and unexpected that with every crescendo I felt like had earned an accolade of sincerity. It felt great to have the power to take him away from the clinical and make him laugh. “Dr. Rosenthal, you look like you’ve gotten a tan.” “Well, it’s not the glamorous kind,” he remarked off-handedly as he organized my file and jotted notes onto a yellow legal pad. He was dry and I was wet.

Dr. Rosenthal was nothing like the man I had dated for the last year, Caleb. First off, he was committed to my cause. He had a lot of qualities that I was looking for in a man even if he sat safely behind a desk and the conversations revolved around me. He was kind, smart, dedicated to helping his patients, meticulous, wore great suits, polite (he greeted at his office door and escorted me out), he was quirky, understated, shy (although, I imagined in the presence of his colleagues, he was a refined speaker), unpretentious, however a little snobby because he couldn’t help it because he was just incredibly “cultured”. Extra plus, he remarked that he had lesbian friends, knew something about photography, and lastly was an older man. And Jewish too.

I thought with all those qualifications he must be gay.

"5 Minutes Before Getting on the Path Train to the Gracie Square Psych Hospital", Jersey City, NJ, November 7, 2001. Self-Portrait, Juliana Beasley.

I was initially disappointed when the Trinidadian receptionist who admitted me to Gracie Square broke the news; “Dr. Rosenthal is such a gentleman,” she said, “and his wife is too. Did you know she is a therapist?” I was horrified and simultaneously pleased.

Lying on the thin foam mattress in my hospital room, I reduced the Rosenthals to the upper middle class doctor parents I had minus all the pathos, and addiction:

The Rosenthals had compartmentalized their lives perfectly. They talked about patients, lived uptown or maybe Long Island (although, later in a dream he told me that he lived in Kew Gardens)), they were “foodies”, they had two boys, they had a dog, a lab possibly named Barnaby, a cleaning woman since they didn’t have enough time to keep their minimally and tasteful home perfectly organized and clean, they woke up really early and drank coffee and read the times together. They even found the time to get to the gym and got up an hour and half earlier.

Their friends and neighbors adored them, “Achh, (Jewish whiny voice), the Rosenthals. They’re such a lovely and bright couple; did you know that he gives electroshock?” —“Oh, really, they still do that?”

They ran the lecture circuit, Dr. Rosenthal speaking about the values of electroshock treatments, Dr. Mrs. Rosenthal speaking about the treatment of anorexics. They found the time to submit papers to medical journals. And yes they could hold up under a lot of stress. But, they knew when to turn off pagers and cell phones during the weekends, had covering doctors, and drove off in their Mercedes SUV to their country home with Barnaby where they drank wine with great legs. They read all the right books, reviewed in the New York Book Review and then had long fascinating intellectual conversations in front of the fire.

I am looking for my home, my home. I found it on the side of the highway from Dallas to Texas. Mark was driving. I asked him to stop the car and pull over. I got out, walked across through the dewy high grass. Thousands of magical grasshoppers hopped up and down around me. I raised my hands above my head, looked back at Mark waiting in the car. I must be in heaven.

Even if sometimes, when they disagreed or felt irritable from a long day of work, they could talk about their feelings, “I feel…” Occasionally, they forgot about proper interpersonal behavior etiquette and were so damn angry at each other, plus being that they both worked in psychology and knew each other’s underpinnings so well, they would perform the deadliest of character assassinations.

After all, they weren’t robots. They knew about time outs. Dr. Mrs. Rosenthal took a walk with Barnaby, Dr. Rosenthal went to the T.V. room and watched some meaningless sitcom but soon they resolved the matter. They also knew that anger was a natural human response and still knew that they were a perfect match for each other. Dr.s and Dr.Mrs would then go back to work. They had been bred with good boundaries.

I had no boundaries. I wanted to show him how bad I really was. I imagined myself to be some iconoclastic Frances Farmer. I was ready to flirt and outsmart him, disorienting and creating holes of doubt in his Hippocratic oath.

I called my therapist Natasha on the pay phone in the hall. “Natasha, I have a terrible crush on Dr. Rosenthal. Should I tell him?” “Yes,” she told me. I was bored and had nothing better to do.

I had pre-visualized the scene: I would look him strongly and forthright in the eyes as I revealed my feelings about him. I would be serious, strong, forthright.

I sat lotus style on my bed, he on my roommates, “Dr. Rosenthal, I have a crush on you.” I bowed my head and gazed upon his hands. He was nervously fingering his flawlessly pressed sports coat that lay next to him.
I felt pathetic.

Was this purely a case of transference? Did I think he was my daddy? Was I just another cliché? Was this the predictable outcome of a therapeutic relationship?

“I thought you must have been gay,” I told him to lighten the situation. He laughed.

“Don’t you know that I’m only attracted to the unobtainable?” , I asked. He laughed and turned his head to the side.

“I hope this won’t get in the way of your treatment,” he said.

I was on a mission of self-deprecation and pure provocation. I wanted to make him more uncomfortable. “Let’s run off to Tuscany.”

“I think you’ve begun to trust me,” he said.

Oh, unrequited love.

Written in 2002.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Once Julie, Then Juliana

"Julie Beasey aka Juliana", Allegheny Mountains, PA, 1979. Photo, Barbara Beasley.

Before, I turned myself into Juliana, I was just little Julie Beasley. And I was Jul to my Mom, my sister, Eliza, Peter, and Josh. I think that's it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks Amy Stein! You CAT CRAZY!

Yes, I took this from Amy's very important FACEBOOK posting. Yes, I am a thief too. And anything right now, silly, stupid could help my cascade into the hinterlands. Or the nausea side effects of my new medication.

BTW, as you well know I am a dog lover, hence, Moishe and Howard. But, if there was a cat out there half as bright as this one, I'd snatch him/her up immediately. We need more cat activists out there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Rockaway Photographs from Summer 2009

"Pregnant Embrace?", Rockaway Park, NYC, August 2009.

"Hey, Juliana, come over". I finally got Bryan on his cell phone. I forgot the last two numbers from my phone book on my cell needed to be deleted. This didn't surprise me. Ever since, I started shooting in the Rockaways seven years ago, I had seen people come and go and then a couple of years later reappear. They always seem to migrate back to the peninsula.

Bryan came into my life and my story about 3 summers ago in 2006. He was a relative new comer to the area. He wasn't like many of the old timers I got to know over my time spent out there, he was much younger, unsettled.

I was at the Kerry Hill Pub on Rock Boulevard, sitting on a stool on a hot afternoon, shaded from the heat and sun in the dim and coolness of the bar. I was drinking a Jamenson straight in a rocks glass.

He walked into the bar, shirtless, his flesh the permanent tan of cowhide that never lightens or peels nor matter what time of year. His bronze skin marked him as a beach dweller and it most likely always would. He came in pushing a bike. The same bike he drove everywhere he bought off the streets in Rockaway Park, I imagined. And every so often, the bike would be stolen but he always got another one to take the place.

I would learn Bryan, his bare chest, shorts, and bike were none without the other. Nor, the long sweaty long blonde high lighted hair, he pushed repetitively behind his ears. Occasionally, he carried a polo shirt to cover up in the respectable places along the boulevard.

What was most remarkable was the strange curvature of his back. Beneath his scapulae, his back appeared to be a rag wrung out, two hands forcibly pulling from shoulder to hips, frozen permanently in this twisted form.

That first day, he sat down on the stool next to me bought rounds of beers for several patrons in he bar. He bought me a couple Jamenson's. He was trying to make the moves on me. I was pleased that he was paying for the high shelf drinks.

That first day, he informed me that he was not only a hair model for L'Oreal, but that he had one of the most severe cases of scoliosis documented in history. Most things that he uttered from that point on he exclaimed with bravado and superlatives. He was known and he wanted me to know this.

Reasons to Presently Move Away from the Computer:

Reason #1: I stopped here before finishing-- Got too tired to write must get to sleep so, I can make 5am wake-up call and work. It's 2 am.

Reason #2: Intellectually impaired and emotionally exhausted. Not feeling the words come together. Maybe this is an exaggeration?

"Bryan and Venetian Blinds", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2009.

"Her Corsette", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2009. Juliana Beasley

Fear of Ugly Nails Continues to To Save My Life

I can only have faith at this point that the new medications will work. Going to the gym, realizing I don't have to smile at everyone who crosses my path, accepting where I am at with the longing to get better.

Deadlines are upon me. I feel I have no time to dawdle....and heck this isn't dawdling. The fact is in a sane country,  I would have not only health insurance but proper health insurance. I would be in the hospital, a stable environment and not be kicked out after 9 days.  I could count on Oxford to feast on my life savings,  up until last year when the rates became, so, high that I realized it was impossible to continue and maybe that preventative visits with internists, mammograms, gyno and the whole nine yards wasn't worth it. 

That said, I could have put two down payments on homes in the tri-state area.  I call it robbery. 
There is no wonder impoverished people die at earlier ages because they don't get the preventative tests and check ups that could prevent the acceleration of life threatening diseases.

On the lighter side and walking away from anger, a killer unto itself.

I painted my nails again today and dared to type on my keyboard while the first and second top coat were drying.  Years of biting, picking and holding a camera in my hands have made them downright unattractive. I have conformed to the feminine boring ideal of having nice nails....I am enticed with the site of women sitting on the Path train and NYC subway system with pretty nails, not too short, not too long.  Nails that don't crack or peel off at 2 mm's of length. 

Nice nails means most likely nice feet. Last summer two of my male friends told me my feet were ugly. I laughed. I figured if I had one ugly part on my body, I could accept feet that were turning into elephant skin. But, I soon enough realized that I truly envied these women on the trains with pretty nails, exposing painted nails in the summer, with no heels that looked like they were becoming thicker with layers of dead flesh year after year.

I'm sitting on the side lines, still dressed like I did in high school, while all these office women read their NY Times, current fiction, and the New Yorker. They wear thin stylish coats in the winter, pointed shoes with thin heels and carry two bags in each arm. 

What I really envy is there lifestyle that has the comfort of a daily routine, a structure that allows them to go to work and come home and call it a day. Maybe they do house chores, one day out of the week, and then on the other day they get out and do something relaxing or fun or Kultcheral.

So, I  know how those nails and my life is still a precarious juggling act. I reap the benefits of my obsession to photograph even when the money isn't there. I find the time to work on this blog. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Could Superficiality Get Me Through? Day #4 Withdrawals.

Here is a super fab video from gorgeous Robbie Williams and my saviors, The Pet Shop Boys sing back ups for Robbie.

A perfect mix: Robbie plays the drag queen/sexy lounge singer and the satirical or not so, musicians, The Pet Shop Boys of great hits like, the monotonous memorable contemporary urban question,  "You Pay My Rent", provide the music. 

Yes, good superficial desires are pulling me back in or as they say these days, GROUNDING ME . Don't get me wrong, things are still throwing me in around in a spastic habitrail, or rather, I feel like I'm standing on the side lines, bouncing around and out of rhythm.

I treated myself to Sally Hansen nail strengthener, cut them cuticles and soaked my fingers in a bath of anti-bacterial suds. I am on the way to real lady fingers... something that might make my life better. I have to give it a chance.

The inner and brain zaps, depersonalization, other words, my arch nemesis "the existentialist solitary confinement". 

Thanks Jean-Paul Sartre for the breaking through to the other side. Or rather inside. Damn' you, I love you.

They are still there. And the ever annoying to others, 'repetitive thinking' which manifested in days of  incessant crying and self-loathing. Some of the others seem of the lighter malfunctions: headaches, and nervousness, paranoia, etc. 

There have been so many epic nightmares crossing continents and centuries, violence and apocalyptic brouhaha that could have gained me several screenplay Oscars if I had found the time to detangle their senselessness.  

My doctor says write them down. They always say that don't they. They want you to believe you are the next Ann Sexton or Francis Farmer.... crazy and fucked up but with some intellectual redemption. Or maybe they just want to teach you how to pass your time instead of eating yourself alive.

But, let's get back to superficiality. In the worst of times, shopping and the Pet Shop boys has gravitated me back to ground floor.  What ever it takes. You might have your own secret superficial endeavors. I call them joie de vivre... so, why do I deny myself "The Love Boat" episodes on a regular basis to keep my head above ground? 

I suppose too much of it would turn me 180 degrees back to depressive thinking. I esteem those who walk through life with little irritation for the most banal of activities. Everyone, needs something to believe in and for some it just might be that SUV with tinted windows.

So, for your listening and visual pleasure, the super sexy and super genius of Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant have satirically pulled me through the worst of times when there seemed to be no one around. And yes, before Facebook when you might get a heads up and notic e.

Here is a super fab video from gorgeous Robbie Williams and my saviors who flatly sing in a memorable contemporary question: "You Pay My Rent". The next is hot, hot, hot.

For a great look at an interview with Tennant and Lowe:

Time to walk Moishe and Howard and then a revisit to any errors in this draft. 

For those of you who want to look at the longer version of an interview with Robbie Williams in drag and hairy chest check out the following:

With cheezy whizzy interview!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Cowboy Way Might Be the Only Way

Catch up with me in a month or less, I hope. I still have stories to tell. And who knows things might get better fast.

I have worked hard against a vicious disease for years... nothing on the outside could bring be the happiness except a constant sense of inner bliss. Photography has kept me going and I am thankful that I found it despite the obvious downfalls.

This is much and not all of what I am experiencing right now. Not all. Hospitalization which is the normal course is not a possibility. Like many, I can't afford it. So, I am hiding out in my apartment and trying to slowly get things done, day to day.

I thought to myself...should I divulge such private information to cyberspace and then I realized, perhaps, it might help someone. If I can show the difficulties and humanity of others, does it make my work any better or any worse?

Nardil, my drug of choice or rather the precious gods of pharmaceuticals that toy and play with meds because they just don't know.

NARDIL Withdrawal Symptoms May Include:

aggression, anxiety, balance issues , blurred vision , brain zaps, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhea, dizziness. electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches / increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory & sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness (akathasia), stomach cramps, tremors, tinnitus (ear ringing or buzzing), tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations / illusions, vivid dreams, speech visual changes, worsened depression

Because MAOI’s affect numerous bodily functions, stopping NARDIL incorrectly can adversely affect many areas simultaneously. Gradual dose reduction (also known as tapering), combined with specific nutritional support is recommended to support the body and brain during the withdrawal process.

They haven't left a think out.

What isn't on these lists? Last chance charlie.

Is this for real? Yes, much of it certainly is except for the unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

Thanks to dear friends who have been by my side. There never was a good time for this.

"If you are an MAOI than you cannot take this medication", it monotony is blaring from every pharmaceutical commercial. I've been on Nardil for eight years and after the first year, it never really worked much. But, I kept moving somehow. I love photography. The most glamorous thing I can say about Nardil is that the only other person, I know of that was on it was Marilyn Monroe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Alas, My Voyage is Almost Over but Not Done!

"Chez LuLu #1", August 2009, Juliana Beasley.

Yes, I have been tardy once again with writing to you my dear friends.

As I have been in Paris close to 2 plus weeks, I have been working with both Christian Caujoulle and Andres Frere on the sequencing of my book due for release in April or May 2010. The name- "Sete 10". 

I am hoping that the book will indeed be distributed in the USA too. Let's wait and see!

Above is one of my favorite photos and I hope that it will make the cover. Remember, all the images that I have been showing from Sete have been scanned from the contact sheets...hence the rough and dirtiness. 

I will be in touch when I return to Jersey City!

Warm wishes, Juliana

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back in Paris

Now, comes the super fun part. Editing with the talented and well-known, Christian Caujolle and Andre Frere, the publisher of Images en Manoeveres.

I came back to Paris on the 9th of October after a lovely trip along the Canal du Midi with Victoria.  As I was already living in Sete, we were not far from the beginning of the trail. We rented mountain bikes for trip from a wonderful bike shop in Sete.  The owner was incredibly helpful and gave us a bottle of glue spray that you put into the inner tube and fills up punctures. This stuff is fantastic as we needed it twice during our trip.

We took are daily breaks along the tree lined canal drinking local wines at ridiculously low prices-- one delicious bottle of Merlot cost us $1.50 USD. We bought it from the owner of a specialized distillery where the owner refuses to make white wine as he does not care for it.

We watched canal boats go through locks, some owned by private companies and some by families or brazen retirees. Hey, it takes a lot of man power to pull the ropes and get the boats through the locks. What a beautiful site when sitting in the late heat of October, drinking white wine and eating goat cheese infused with olive oil and rosemary bottled in a jar.

We could not find good restaurants which unfortunately, is the case with many tourists who get stuck in some overpriced place with a piece of rough sirloin and a waitress who despises you and is jaded.

If you have the extra money in pocket...which has become harder for Americans to enjoy a trip with the exchange from dollars to euros, please, take a canal trip. It's relaxing and peaceful. And if you research well, you can find one as we did that was more or less a flat ride from start to finish when we arrived in Carcassone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Me Happy with Dominique!

This is the fabulous Dominique who is charge of the Paris office of Contact Press Images. In-between our busy work day at the office, we took a break and made this fun photo.  

It's so good to share moments away from the often solitary work of documentary photography, trolling the streets for new subjects and shots (drama, drama), and take the time to breathe and share a moment with someone who understands the livelihood of working in this field.

Don't get us all together in a room...there might be some kvetching!! 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sally...A Draft and Simple Story

I got on the 
Stamford line train
paying for my ticket at the kid's rate. 

I made up frivolous stories to pass the time. I pretended I was French and spoke with a heavy accent to generic men in suits about my life in France. I wished I was from some where else, other than New Rochelle, on Wilmot Road, living in the woods, in a small red house with pot belly stoves covered lids  made of a cream colored porcelain. 

I yearned to stink like a French woman on the Metro with hairy armpits. I pissed my mother off when i began smoking Gitanes--later Exports-- and watched cult and French movies on the VCR. I smoked from a silver mouth piece, and sat upon the couch like a diva from a Charles Adams novel. 

I hated the cold and I loved the summers spent lying out on the dock with are tenant, Sally who worked for the government, doing what I'll never know. 
She was a drunk or at least my Mom told me so. On summer days, we lay side by side on the dock,  tanning and listened to the oldies but goodies station. Occasionally, she would walk up the hill and make another drink, a scotch over ice, sometimes it was a bottle of Smirnov. 
Sally was as obsessed with tanning as she was collecting empties. She spent hours a day running up and down Wilmot Road, wearing a pair of shorts, the kind that had the seam up the sides and were then, back in the early eighties what one might sporty. No matter how long she jogged, her thighs were thick and cellulite dimpled. They jiggled up and down. I hadn't noticed until one day my mother said,

"If she stopped drinking, she might loose the cellulite".

I wondered why Sally didn't have a man in her life. It made feel sad and lonesome for her. During the week, I never saw her. She must go to work behind doors that close fast, the kind where you need a special plastic card to enter. It must be top secret and I never asked her about her work.

I couldn't understand how someone might live alone in that guest house.

I can't remember how old she was... just the freckles, her far away look upon her face, and the sound of ice cubes against a rocks as she poured another in the kitchen overlooking our backyard.
Please bare with my technical issues...such as type is too tight. I'll be back in Jersey City on the 16th and will deal with it then. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pic of the Day

"Celia Behind Locked Door", Sete, France, Juliana Beasley 2009.

Less than one week left, I'm working ahead towards the 30th of the month. Than a lovely vacation with Victoria on the Canal du Midi. Wow, how long has it been since I took a vacation. Although, right now I would prefer prefer lying on the beach! Wouldn't you after the chronic photographer's ailment: the backache. 

I took the photograph above in the Arab quarter of Sete. Celia is part Algerian and French. She was a real tough girl and the oldest in her family. They live in a converted attic. Celia, the young "ado"(adolescent) lives in her own room locked behind a close door across the hall from the main living area where her mother, sister and baby brother live.  She didn't like smiling for the camera and stared deep into my Rollei lens as if she owned it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Vulnerability Of Men

Nice Photographers Wear Dresses Too!
 Juliana Beasley written up in local Sete Newspaper in France, September, 2009.

I thought I would throw up this post. I was written up in the local newspaper of Sete, France where I am working on a photo art residence....if you are catching up on prior entries. I am making a book in a month which I believe should be a reality show for photographers called the obvious, "Survival Photo Book in 4 Weeks".

I am not happy with the part in my hair. It was one of the sweaty days when I pulled my greasy hair back; hence, the zig-zag part was not intended. Where was my stylist. At least, I got the dress right! Who says women photographers don't where dresses and cannot get the job done? All lies!!! 

I can actually read this piece that was written by Laurence Laden who was kind enough to take a morning to hear me blather on in circles about what I don't know. And she made sense of it in French. Problem, now is that the type is so small and I am too busy that I will not be able to translate it. But, heck, I'm happy with the title. It seems to suit me more than any of the subjects here.

Well, I'm in the final stretch, y'all. Got some lasting photos to show before I call it quits and hopefully a flip video.

To look at the article in larger form just click on the newspaper article and voila, all in francais!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Photo of the Day! Out on the Camping Trail.

The summer months of caravans and camping is done. Children and the Ados (short for adolescents) are back in school.  Walking down the hot stretch of a two lane highway,  all that is left now is a file of campers filled with retirees and the occasional child during the weekends. The single strand of campers line the beach front, an easy descent towards the hot sand and aquamarine water.

Last weekend, I made a day of it. I had my backpack on my shoulders and clasped around my waste, my Rollei around my neck and a hanging side pack which contains my Quantum battery, flash meter and film, shot and unshot. That orange side pack, should I regret to add, I bought from Walmart around a decade ago in Tampa. I tied its band in a not and used a safety pin to make it fall on my hip, instead of drag along the ground.

First, I stumbled upon a group of pasty Anglos taking in the sun. I turned to take a photograph of their burnt flesh until I climbed down the rocks and began a conversation that lasted an hour.  I was with a group of Irish retirees, in couples of two. They smiled and laughed at my banter. Freedom! Alas, no searching for words in French. We talked about Dingle and the County of Cork where they reside. The husbands were brothers, one taciturn the other full of questions.  After an hour, I knew that my purpose of the day was to take photographs and to return to the world of French speakers.

Three campers down after a man shook is head at me as if I had come to torment him. 

The next camper down, I meet a French retiree couple from Grenoble. She loves the mountains. He jests with me. Would I use the photograph to incriminate him....well, most of us doc people have heard this one time or another...this was my first time in French.  And if it needs to be said, he did look a little squirely. They offer me two glasses of a kind and lukewarm dry rose which under the heat of the still day is better than none.  We said our good-byes as yes, again it was time to move on and for me to work.

Snap, snap...I think I must be happier to sit on tarps that day laid out in front of side camper doors shaded with rolling canopies than to actually shoot.

A very blonde and burnt bosom strapped in a black bikini top peers from behind a black car...could it have been a Camaro?  No, probably not, although it appears to bare the semblance of the stereotypical mid-life crisis paraphanelia of sitcoms from years back.
I turn the corner to meet her on the other side of the door swung open, shielding her, I suppose from harsh afternoon sunshine. I reached to grab her hand and she refused. She has a look of fear upon her face hid behind a protective nervous smile.

I speak in French.

"Est-que je peux parler avec vous". She was sprawled back on one chaise and her husband on another who doesn't lift his eyes from a magazine. 

I reach to shake her hand instead of the three kiss southern kiss credo. She shakes her head several times and holds on tightly to a gossip magazine.

"No, thank you", she responded in a accented English.

I take the most blonde route...hmm, they must be German. She does have the doll face and plumpishness of a Marianne  Sägebrecht I try this time in my shakey German, now befuddled with weeks French speaking, thinking and now dreams. 

She turns around, as if I were a irritating ghost.  

Then I say the magic words, "Gratis". It works wonders around the world. I remember when I learned it when I was 16 and living in Italy. Latin is just so precise and still has a magical power to it.

From a prior experience, I made note on the camper trail that many people think that I am a vagabond traveler with camera in hand looking for handouts. Terror!! 

"We are Swedish," and then still, "No, thank you."

I reach to take her hand and she shook her hand. I ask her why? She says she doesn't want the sick. She doesn't want the "flu", in other words, I can only assume she doesn't want the Pork Flu. 

"Oh," I said. And walk towards a older and shockingly blonde Dutch couple who offer me a coffee, a step stool to sit on and philosophical conversation. At the end, the woman with dark sun glasses covering the wrinkled skin around her eyes, offers her hand and holds on dearly and tightly, her face close to mine and says like a platinum orb, 

"You must have a good life, live life strongly. I know you will."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fee Fi Fo Fum

Another, cultural moment of yesteryear. I found this awesome video of past days and couldn't resist! Yep, I am proud to say that I was a white girl who could double dutch in the school yard and in the middle of the street. 

Who out there can still Double Dutch and how did it get it's name. Hmm....trivia quiz.

Back to France and work in progress.... all aboard and move down to entry below.

Pick of the Day- Sword Fish

"Fish Stocker", Sete, France, September 2009.

I was happy to spend the day at the fish auction at the port in Sete. On a hot day, there is nothing as refreshing as standing in the ice locker with a bunch of dead packed fish. I must admit to all of you beloved fish eaters...I haven't done much of it. 

I am cooking amarith pasta at home with buckets of delicious virgin oil that I bought from the local market. Why no fish? Why am I not eating more chocolate and eating more fish. 

Maybe some of you out there might understand-- I just would destroy it. Every kind of fish that I cook ends up tasting the same.

Photography is going well and now, I am in the home stretch and like the 67 woman from Holland told me the other day.... youth is wasted on the young-- I too feel that now that I am getting a grasp on what I am doing here and what it takes, my time is limited. 

Photo Booth Self-Portrait #?, Sete, France, September 2009.

Morning sitting on my stool. Finally, I have a way to get photographs taken of me...and it's too easy despite the worst grain and lack of possibilities for enlarging. Lost like most images of the digital age.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pick of The Day

"Two Girls, One on Rocking Horse, The Other Still", Sete, August 2009. (remember folks these are flats scans from contact sheets.

Just a photo.

I took this at the last Junior Joutes event of the year.  These girls were not team players but on the sidelines like the rest of us not competing in Sete that day.

One week and a couple of days left before yours truly puts down her Rollei Twin Lens and picks up her Canon 5D and heads out to the Canal du Midi on a expected fabulous bike trip through southern French countryside.

This girl needs a vacation and possibly one without a camera. It's been too too long. And why not here in France since I'm already here. By the way, got a great photographer's tan yesterday trolling the caravans along the highway yesterday. I love the sun!

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've Gone Divine

A residency, btw, is not a vacation or even a working vacation in the South of France. It's a darn hard's hard to put a smile on the face all the time.

So, I thought we could all smile in cyberspace back to a time when even the most crude behaviour had a sense of innocence.

I know I'm feeding my favorites from YouTube. This is the cultural contribution while I work my ass off on the working holiday.

Yes, the water is aquamarine and tomorrow will be in the mid 70's and when it rained today, it might have lasted a half hour.
These are the fab perks and no complaints here! And truly, i'll make my next blog deposit when I get to Paris....or even sooner.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just for Free Entertainment

Fro with this!

Excuses, Excuses....

"Claude in Kitchen", Sete, France, 2009.

Please, excuse this long hiatus. Whomever said a residency was a working vacation forgot to delete the work vacation.

Of course, no complaints here. Hmmm, would I rather be in the sunshine on the French Riviera or would I prefer to be in the dismal constant rain of 2009 in NYC?

So, just to keep the ball rolling here, I am posting one photo from my residency. Notice how pixelated it is....No, worries here, it comes from a low res contact sheet and it is oh so professional to present it in this form.

You all deserve a good entry, one with gusto, one with spirit...but JuJu as some dear friends call me or others whom just call me Julie is intensely immersed in the process of making a book for the 2010 Images Singulieres in Sete, France.

Excuses, excuses. The next two weeks will be a reality show in which yours truly must undertake 20 or more photo shoots of various subjects. With a Rollei Twin permanently lasooed around her neck, I will undertake the ultimate challenge with a smile on her neck.

Peace, Ommmmm!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For All Of Us

I'm not in the USA....but, I am hoping the best for all us who desperately need health insurance.

The following, I found on Facebook from my buddy, Paul Kopeikin owner of the gallery of the same name in LA.

Good going Paul! And thanks for bringing this to attention....

Super Bis, Bis From Sete, France!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Images Singulieres Team in Sete, France

"Ms. Beasley as French Intellect in Caffe", 2009 summer, Sete.

So, here I am two weeks into my residency in Sete. Everyday, I am learning more and more. And what I have learned is this: it is hard to make a book in a month...difficult, but not impossible for the mentally sane. And since your's truly is not dealing with a full deck, she works a little harder and sleeps a little longer.

The days are spent approaching possible subjects. Telling them over and over again my purpose here in Sete. They can hear my foreign accent: sometimes, they think I am Spanish and other times that good ol' choppy American accent comes through.

People have been really open here and I have met others through the Ce Ta Voir organization. A couple of days ago, I photographed a young Joutes player preparing for the last tournament of the season. It felt joyous and fun to tap into the energy of a child so happy to be in front of the camera.

I have a schedule to make and hopefully, the time to afford to let in the spontaneous things that happen per chance while walking down the street. Yours truly has never been the photog with the camera on body at all times. Here this has to change. And man, sore back is part of the agenda.

I went to get an amazing Cranio Sacral Massage and some acupucture. The doctor was amazing and at the end told me that I would finally sleep...yes, some might notice the facebook remarks coming through at 3am my times. 

She said in a soft voice, "you will sleep now". 

And all I could think was, lady, you don't know me. I don't sleep right. I got home after a visit at the local museum Valery where my work will be shown in May, went home and fell asleep for 15 plus hours. I could have slept more but I had to do an interview with the local newspaper.

I am enjoying my time away. But, of course, I miss my friends and Moishe and Howard soo much. I feel lucky to have this chance. If anything maybe I might learn how to make a book in less than 8-10 years. Or does it even matter how many books are made anyway?

Here are some photographs from the digital of the organizers of the Festival Images Singulieres in Sete.

Voila! Sunny days still prevail!

"Yann as French Boy-Man Assistant in Caffe", Summer 2009, Sete.

"Gilles Favier very seriously looking over my first contacts", Summer 2009, Sete.

"Valerie LaQuittant, The Hard Worker and Sweet Smile Behind Images Singulieres", Summer 2009, Sete.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Juliana as a Photographer!

Hi All, 

Writing here from Sete, France. Getting into the groove of things here. Yep, it's hard to tell a story and make a book in one month, a real challenge for a woman who is used to hanging out and hanging onto and getting attached to her subjects.

So, my dear intern, Ashley Curry a talented young photographer who spends her time building minature landscapes took this photo while she, my other intern, Jazmin (yep, i'm spoiled) spent the day cruising my new favorite state....New Jersey, but of course.

So, here is the photo of me as a photographer. On a superficial note, check out the bikini top bought in children's department at Old Navy. Love it....very Sporty Spice.

"Juliana with Rollei at Jersey Shore Waiting For Deep Fried French Fries", Ashley Curry, Summer 2009.

Today is the Fete de la Bierre...I might take the day off for that one and head for the beach!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back in New Jersey

"Pink Granny, Grandson and the Hand," New Jersey, Summer 2009.

I thought I would post some of my last photographs that I took while I was still in Jersey, now just a sweet memory....

I took these images before leaving the country. Me and my interns, Ashley and Jazmin had a wonderful hot summer day a couple of weeks ago. We were out shooting and at the end of the day rolled into a Trailer Park in an industrial section of New Jersey...not far from where I live.

The sun was setting and there was little light left to work with but we met some of the folks and I can't wait to return and move in with them for the winter....hmmm....if they will have me that is.

Enjoy! I will put up all of the ones here and if you like tell which ones you like and why. Mucho besos, Juliana reporting from Sete.

Au Joutes!

" Pink Granny, Grandson and the Hand #2", New Jersey, Summer 2009.

"Pink Granny and Grandson", New Jersey, 2009.

"Granny and the Kitty Cats", New Jersey, 2009.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Could Be In New Jersey But I'm Not

"Tired and Tan in Sete, France" 8/09.

Hi Friends,

Letter from Sete.

The games have begun! I have arrived just in time for the Joutes games in Sete. A game to be taken very seriously and a badge of honor for those who dare to joust one another.

I arrived on Thursday morning and ate my first dish of squid. And I began to drink the Ricard. My new French friends find it very amusing that I take my Ricard with seltzer or rather the stuff that has the little bubbles like Pellegrino.  What I would do for some big bubbles right now!!!

Since Friday, the place is a full of tourists who have come to see the Joutes games. At night parties in the night with lot's of booze last until 5am. Night after night. So, you might wonder what Joutes is...if you don't know already. As it is hard to explain, I will ask you instead to watch the video from Youtube. 

Just imagine Sumo wrestlers holding poles, standing at the top of a elevated stern of a gondola and jousting as the macho dudes on horses did in medieval times. The point however is not to impale your nemesis who is either in a blue or red boat....the best thing you can do is set him off balance by pushing the pole into his armor made of wood. Just watch the video. 

Yes, and the people here love it too.

So, it's a big Sunday night here and the festivities will begin for me at around midnight. It will be a non stop night of shooting people in the streets and drinking. I am shooting lovingly with my Rollei Twin lens with Sun Pac or is it Pack?  The organizers of the Photo Festival of Sete want film and since they were kind enough to pay for it...I am happy as a squid!

Here however is a digital of the bathroom.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hello From Paris...Soon to Be in Sete!

"7-11 Twins", Jersey Shore, Summer 2009.

I am sitting in the Contact Press office in Paris. My laptop is not finding a connection in Cathy Remy's apartment near the Eiffel Tower.

So, finally, I can share the good news.

I have been invited by the organization Ce Ta Voir to participate in a month long residence in the south of France in the port town of Sete.

I am the first woman chosen for the residency and to make a book in a months time. BTW, the first was the glamorous and my favorite, Anders Petersen. So, I feel honored to be a part of it.

In the spring of 2010, I will return to Sete where they will show my work at the Festival called Images Singulaires, along with other documentary photographers works. Yes, it is a doc festival, not from Arles and less far from Perpignan.

My work would have never fallen into the hands of one of the organizers, Gilles Favier from Agence Vu, had it not been for the curator, Nathalie Belayche who organizes "Food for Your Eyes" in Paris. Last year, she brought my work to show to Gilles at the Perpignan festival and I became a part of a pool of selected photographers for the residency.

And I got it.

I should have brought this up earlier but there was much going on and I needed to apply my french to english translation skills of the information on their website.

Yes, I am very thrilled and excited. Throughout the month, I will be in contact and showing snapshots from my time there.

Here are some pictures that I took before I left. As Miss New Jersey--I write that with pride-- I take photographs every couple of months to go up on the 50 States site. These should be up shortly.

"Slurpie Teens", Summer 2009, Jersey Shore.

"Josh in Front of Trailer Home", Passaic, New Jersey, Summer 2009.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Short Story From My Memoir, "Tangled Sheets"

The last couple of weeks has been taking care of my dear Moishe. The good news is that he is back in action. A true miracle for the little fluffy who came into my life in 1998, a couple of months before my father died and a year after my mother had died. He changed my life, little by little. And without him and the security and sense of hope he gave me... I would have never been able to accomplish all the things I have been able to do since he arrived into my life.

"Moishe's Staple Stitches After Gastro Abdominal Surgery", 7/09, Jersey City, N.J.

He was only 3 years old. Now he is 14 or 15. No, one knows his story. I adopted him on a hot August day from the ASPA shelter on the Upper East Side. It was a classic love story. I needed love, he needed love...we found each other; he in a cage and me in my own self-made one.

I wrote this following short story back in 2002. I was taking a memoir writing class at Gotham in the West Village. My life was very different and very difficult. I need to remind myself of this when I hit walls or swing up and down, from one mood to the next.

This was the beginning of a series of pieces I have written with the hopes of publishing one day in the future. Blessed ones only know it's a lot cheaper to have a lap top and a ream of paper than it is to work in fine art or documentary photography.

From: "Tangled Sheets", Juliana Beasley


We have a complete relationship. We can read each other’s minds. We have the sort of relationship where we can take a shit in front of each other.

Most of our time we spend in bed, me at her feet or sometimes by her side, my head on her pillow, her left arm folded over my body, our bodies not curved spoons. Over the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about her in bed.

Before she retires for the evening she pops some pills. Sometimes, the orange bottles sit by her side on a nightstand amongst the half-filled water glasses; in worse times they lay on the floor commingling with partially read books, aluminum take-out trays, and empty seltzer bottles.

Her sleep is erratic. I’ve witnessed her suffer through nights of drug induced sleeplessness. She watches late night shows on t.v. where twenty- somethings openly display their libido and stupidity for the all the lonely insomniacs to see. At four a.m. the commercials for sleeping pills come on; she hates the model/actor who raises his blinds and arms, refreshed and ready for a “brand new day.” She frantically leafs through her phone book and looks for someone to speak with in a later time zone and settles on calling Paolo on his cell in Tuscany. 

I’ve heard her talk at night while she sleeps. She has lengthy conversations in broken Russian and French. She laughs aloud and carries on like a dilettante. There are nights, when she’ll awake and pull a strange stick plugged into the wall from under her bed, bringing it between her legs, vibrating and tensing her body until she gives herself over to temporary limpness. But, she still lies awake. Other nights, she turns on the lights, crying and coddling me in her arms. She tells me, “I love you Moish.” and I know what she means. One morning, she awoke from a couple of hours sleep, embracing her pillow and kissing it like a desperate lover never returned.

Late afternoons, she calls the Guayanese restaurant for take-out. The doorbell rings and she searches her bags for money; this is the most exercise she’s gotten in months. She’s just plain unpresentable. She pays the deliveryman and tips him. “Thank you,” she says, and closes the door behind him. He’s the only person she’s had a conversation with all day. She removes the foggy plastic cover, pulls a fork from the overflowing sink and washes it briefly. It’s a fast and gluttonous feast. She’s ordered the largest portion of chicken stew as usual and if I’m lucky she throws me a piece on the floor. Afterwards, she says, “Come up,” and I spring onto the bed of tangled sheets.

It wasn’t always, this good. There was a time when I never saw one scrap. It was a cold winter; our first year together and we lived in the East Village. And then it happened; the depression set in and we went to the local pizzaria. We were standing at one of those circular tables, the kind without the bar stools and I was sitting patiently at her feet while she ate a pepperoni slice of pizza. She looked down on me and I knew exactly what she was thinking--she needed to share with someone, she needed to be a part. She threw me down a greasy circle and that’s how it all began.

We’re a perfect match. I’m an irrevocable beggar and she’s an incurable slob. Even though she tried for many years to reform, her piggishness is inherently coded, a maternal birthright. She remembers the last years of her mother’s life and how her mother had begun to keep her own home clean. The collectables were stored and obsessively labeled. And even if the white tile ceramic floor in the kitchen was hopelessly dirty and the oriental rugs were imbedded with the permanent stench of dog piss, there was a marked difference. Juliana is holding out hope for a similar rebirth. Or possibly she might consider what every one had suggested, especially her therapist—a cleaning person to come in and take care of the basics. 

The meds are working and she sleeps throughout the night. She stores her nighttime pills in the medicine cabinet and her daytime anti-depressants and mood stabilizers in the kitchen. Her home is tidy and organized. She spends hours editing her photographs and writing. She has found a new faith in life.

Better times for her mean longer walks for me. She wakes early and doesn’t feel so alone. I lick her face. We yawn and stretch. I do a downward and upward dog and she twists her torso side to side. Sometimes, I linger in bed until I realize for sure she isn’t coming back. Trailing behind her, we go to the kitchen and she begins the morning ritual, dumping yesterdays coffee grounds in the garbage, pouring in the half decaf, half not. Mornings like these are the sweetest. I can see it in the way she slips from one task to the next. National Public Radio hums in the background and she’s barely paying attention; she’s at her laptop reading e-mail religiously, looking for messages and trying to connect beyond the drawn curtains her last boyfriend put up for her.

This is my favorite part of the day and perhaps hers too. She grabs her shoes and I know right away. I bark and spring in the air, circling a 360. I run for one of my toys and she says in the low scratchy voice her father used when he told her secrets at the kitchen table. She still hears the good ol’ Southern boy in her head. “Go, on boy, get the toy.” We dance to disco music. She’s still in her dirty bedclothes, the thick Polo sweats the ones she cut at the bottom so the elastic wouldn’t bunch at the bottom-- the last thing she wants is to show off her surburban roots. She showers later in the day or every other day. She never smells or that’s is what her friends have told her when they found out it was days before she hit the shower. We are the same, we are as adverse to water as cats who hate the assault of hard drops on flesh. She prefers to soak in the embryonic bath water alone. When she does shower, it has to be incredibly hot, force deep into her muscles. When she bathes me in the kitchen sink, I shrink to half my size and frankly, I feel irritated and simultaneously, tormented.

Springtime is here. We walk out the door together. We’re going to do the usual walking meditation, a yogic trinity around the preferifery of the park. I go and she picks it up with the plastic bag as she watches the showered and gelled nine to fivers walking swiftly and diagonally through the park. They’re on their way to the smothering Path train. She wonders, “How do they do it? How do they go to the same place five days a week and see the same people, playing the office politics game and laughing aloud but not too loud at witty banal jokes? They look so perfect. It’s freezing out here and they’re wearing stylish thin coats while I’m loaded down with two layers, a pair of long johns and a down coat. They’re stronger than me.”

The march of the office workers ends. It’s just me and her and her cell phone. She sighs with relief, stretching side to side. Actually, she’s very fulfilled to be on her own. We sit on a bench in the sun and gaze upon the yellow daffodils.