One year (later), a video flipbook

Scroll to the bottom for the video, because why wait a moment longer?

Most of my creative pursuits seem to end up in a state of perpetual incompleteness, which is why it is such a pleasant surprise to me that, just this once, I completed something – and only fourteen months later than anticipated. From the time that I started this project on May 2, 2013, days before I closed the book on my TAPIF year, to the same day in 2014, I recorded a one second video clip each day.

A lot happened: I destroyed my computer, crossing my fingers as I salvaged months of shoulda-woulda-coulda been lost footage; I struggled with the limitations of iMovie, screamed at every spontaneous shutdown, made myself a snack each time it froze, and powered through clunky workarounds (365 times, no less). And that’s just the technical side of things! It says nothing of all the moments that actually made the days worth recording in the first place, from the exceptional (touring the falls at Plitvice) to the ordinary (time spent with friends).

A one-second clip on its own isn’t particularly interesting it turns out and it wasn’t until I strung together about sixty of them that I started to see anything at all. Half a dozen times I have tried to take a photo a day and I’ve never made it more than a week; to think I’d have a different experience with moving pictures (a medium with which I had much less practice) seemed like I was setting myself up for disappointment.

But I did it. Every day. Sometimes not until moments before the clock struck midnight, but I did it all the same. Not every day was photogenic, and there are way too many clips highlighting what I had to eat for dinner that night (like a horrible, foodie instagram come to life!), but it certainly paints an accurate portrait of the year. Even the bad stuff, like an angsty evening scribbling in a journal, and the aftermath of a bicycle accident, my worst injury to date.

If there is anything that I would want to change, though, it’s not any of the moments themselves, but rather how I captured them. In still photography, I am hopelessly shy about working with human subjects – friends or strangers, and while I was more confident when my images were moving, I could have pushed myself to invite more animate subjects into the frame.

But in the end, I really enjoyed the process of making my little film, and am so happy with the final result. I’m a better videographer for it! Most importantly, a big thank you to all who got in front of the camera; I always tried my best to make you look good (it was easy). Glad you’re in my life.

Let’s end the text before I get too nostalgic…I thought the point of a video was that I could avoid having to write! Oh well…I’m done! Action!


Two years ago


On April 30, 2013, my seven-month contract with TAPIF came to a close. I stayed up late the night before and baked snickerdoodle cookies for my 200+ students; even on my last day, I couldn’t help but subject my students to pronouncing just one more funny word for my pleasure. I spent a quick weekend in Nantes, and then it was a jam-packed couple of days as my parents arrived from across the sea, I packed up my apartment in Périgueux, and said goodbye to all the people I had met since October. Neat and tidy it was not.

I was, and still am, very nostalgic for the year that I was an English assistant. I loved the life that I created for myself there, I loved the people that I worked with, and then the calendar flipped over to May and TA-POOF! It was gone.

(Ne vous inquiétez pas, I have absolutely found my footing since then and am loving my life stateside.)

In the first couple weeks stripped of my assistante d’anglais badge and back in my civilian clothes, I strung together some clips that I filmed throughout the region – commemorating the faces, places, moments, routines, and meals. I have not been back to France since then, but when I get around to watching this video, two or three times a year, I am transported back to my ole Rivière de l’Isle home in the Dordogne. How very Périgood it all was!

Featuring the music of Thomas Fersen (« Le bal des oiseaux » version ukulélé), and the canoe-paddling of une Australienne incomparable.

I seem to like making little videos like these, because I just remembered that I made one when I left Nantes, too! Check it out!

Royal de Luxe

Once my time was up in Albi, I got on a bus to Toulouse (which promptly broke down) and made the trip back to Nantes for the last time.  The very last time!  But before I said my final farewells to my Breton home, I was able to experience one more moment of beautiful Nantes nonsense – Le Royal de Luxe!

In collaboration with the same people responsible for Nantes’ resident elephant, le Royal de Luxe is a street theater company that has been based in Nantes since the early 1990s.  Today, it tours the world with its giant machines, and made a long-awaited stop back in Nantes on the very weekend that my parents were to arrive in town.  Lucky us!

To mark the beginning of le Royal de Luxe, a huge mural fell from the sky and landed in the middle of Place de la Bourse (ben…plus ou moins, il faut d’abord un esprit enfantin pour profiter du spectacle!).  The painting depicted the varied history of Nantes – at times triumphant and innovative, painful at others.

But no matter what, the Nantais are an enthusiastic bunch, and for cultural events they are keen to take part.  When I showed up at the mur mystérieux on Wednesday night, it seemed like all of the métropole was there, staring.  For minutes and minutes they stared and pointed and chatted with their friends about the scene.  It was really quite sweet to see them so curious about the wall – the “ouahs!” and “hou las!” echoed through the streets!

All weekend, giant puppets wandered the streets, making stops at all of Nantes’ main attractions and taking naps in the heat of the day (listen carefully, and you could even hear them snoring!).  The star of the show was “el xolo,” a Mexican dog made of light-weight steel, who was accompanied by la Pétite Géante and le Campesino.  I saw them parading down les Cours des 50-Otages, each one bigger and more complexly constructed than the last.  Teams of people were needed to maneuver each machine, the towering Campesino requiring dozens of puppeteers, called “lilliputiens.”  In order to move his huge legs, pairs of men would jump off of the platform from which Campesino was suspended, holding a rope, and the force from their fall was strong enough to bend his knee and allow him to take a step.  Then a pair controlling the other side would do the same, moving his other leg, while that first group of two would climb back up onto the platform to jump again…et patati et patata!  Fortunately there were more than two teams operating the giant’s legs, but still, what physically demanding work!  I’m thrilled that I got the chance to be in Nantes to see le Royal de Luxe in action, especially as it won’t be back for several years (and who knows where I’ll be then)!

Xīn nián kuài lè!

Happy Lunar New Year!  I was able to participate in Seattle’s celebration this past Saturday, and it was as much fun as the last time I went, two years ago.  Back then my Chinese was a whole lot better, but the more I eavesdropped on people around me, the more I realized I still understand a lot!  Characters on the other hand…汉字太难了!我不记得很多的汉字。哎呀!Ai ya!

This time, when I arrived in the International District, the parade was headed right my way!  龙跳舞跳得很漂亮!After their little show they danced back up the street to the main stage where several acts were scheduled to perform…in fact, the same ones I’d seen two years ago!

There was a great turnout and relatively clear skies, so sometimes it was difficult to see the stage over the heads of brightly dressed toddlers sat upon their parents’ shoulders (“my neck hurts!” they cried).  But I managed to sneak my way through to the front by the time Kaze Daiko, a Seattle-based taiko group, was set to perform.  I really love seeing taiko drums played live.  It’s so theatrical and the sound is so powerful.  Most of the performers I recognized from two years ago, and it’s wonderful to see that they’ve kept up this hobby!

Han er fantastisk!

So maybe I had one or two things compelling me to board the plane back to the states – graduating from university (a feat that has yet to actually…occur, and won’t for two more quarters) and seeing Sondre Lerche in concert.  For the fifth time!

And it was a lovely night!  I was with a very good friend and we slipped right into the second row for a fantastic couple of hours.  Even the opening acts, Kishi Bashi and Nightlands, were great!  And both came back on stage during Sondre’s set to play along!  The last few times I’d seen him, he’d been solo, so seeing him with a band was really wonderful.  I wonder when he’ll be back in town again…

And here’s quite a silly picture of me and Sondre after a very small show at the Swedish American Hall (but he’s Norwegian!) back in 2008.  Apparently, it was scarf-weather.  Even indoors.

Sur la route

I’m 230 kilometers from Nantes, sitting in Quimper, and entirely pleased with how the trip has gone so far, even though the time has really been flying by.  We’re heading north tomorrow to the Côte de Granit rose, and from there we’ll head east for a few days, ending up in Paris on Friday afternoon.  Then, on the plane Monday morning, when there will be lots of Califooornia I’m coming home, and the kissing of sunset pigs (ask Joni Mitchell, she knows all about it).

Anyways, here’s a short video I’ve made from a collection of clips I’ve taken in Nantes during the past year.  It was the perfect place to spend my time abroad, and I’m proud to say that I’m nantaise par choix!

Poisson d’avril

Yesterday I got a text message from Katharina (who was on her way to the airport to catch a flight to Dublin, lucky!) telling me to be sure to take the tram.  All I had on my schedule was a day spent at the campus  library working on my paper, to which I’d usually just take the bus, but Katharina sounded pretty insistent, so I took ligne 3 down to Commerce and ligne 2 back up to Faculté.  And I’m so glad I did because I fell victim to the cutest April Fools’ Day joke ever!

I had to make a little video to document the experience.  Now, normally the tram stops are announced by a semi-robotic female French voice…but today, kids’ voices came over the speakers!  It was so sweet, especially at the main stop, Commerce, where a choir of young and heavily French-accented children recited in unison.

It was the perfect April Fools’ joke for Nantes to play.  Cute and harmless, but effective!  Everyone who boarded the tram took notice and smiled.  Passive-aggressive, French, perfect.

Juerga flamenca

My first night in Barcelona, we headed out for a flamenco show at JazzSí Club Taller de Músics, on a small street in El Raval.  The club was packed and I sat on the balcony with my legs hanging over, almost touching the heads of the people walking underneath!  But I had a great view and a wonderful time.  Here are two short videos I took during the performance…enjoy!  Now, go buy some polka dots and Paco de Lucía’s “Entre Dos Aguas!”  Vamos!

Yosemite: day one

I guess I’ve taken the one-night stand approach to national parks – visiting a different one every weekend, I go for the nature, and leave when I’ve had enough (who has time to remember names?).  Yikes…

Well, actually none of that is true.  I was really looking forward to spending the weekend in Yosemite.  I’d never been before (so far as my cognizant mind could remember), and as it’s only three or so hours away, it seemed pretty silly that I hadn’t made the trip yet.  And I knew it’d be beautiful, but, really it was incredible.  The pictures took themselves, leaving me plenty of time to stand around, mouth agape (a favorite activity of mine).

But it’s best to keep one’s mouth closed when you decide to stand on the passenger seat and stick your head out the sunroof while zipping through the valley.  Here’s a roughly edited video of the rather rough ride (though the Kings of Convenience’s “Peacetime Resistance” is as light and lovely as ever).

I’ll be honest.  I had to look up “one-night stand” (made sure to keep google moderate search on, for the preservation of my own naïveté).  Of all the ways I found that people describe them, I really thought that I could’ve applied “getting your rocks off” to a nature theme quite easily, but it turns out I couldn’t.  Shame.

Tea time

I wasn’t much in the mood for high tea at the Empress, but I couldn’t resist a cup of jasmine green tea with my parents once we got back to Seattle.  And this was no ordinary pot of tea…

Pretty cool, right?  It reminds me of the capsules I’d find in my stocking that, when dropped in a glass of water, turn into dinosaurs or zoo animals…only this is the grown-up version.  Actually, I’ve got some of those in my drawer right now (doesn’t everyone?).  Hurry up, summer, I’ve got a nice cup of water and dinosaurs to dissolve!