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{memories in manhattan : volume 2}

20 Mar

there really is no place on earth like new york city. 

granted, i haven’t exactly been all over the world, but the most fascinating thing about new york is the fact that literally every culture in the world is represented in a 7-mile radius. it is something to behold, indeed. 

you can almost see my apartment from here

i remember noticing this right away when i first landed in the city. hearing all the different languages in the background as i shopped for groceries or seeing all the various colours of faces as i walked the streets or rode the subway. i love the condensed mini-world that new york offers with its existence. it was so inspiring to me to have such diversity at my fingertips. it became quickly apparent that i could walk 20-blocks in any direction and be magically whisked away to a different continent, in a sense. 

one of the other interesting aspects of living in the city is seeing celebrities walking around like “regular people.” one of my first memories was around thanksgiving, when i wandered into a little market on my block to shop for some artisan snacks to share with my roommate for the holiday. it was the cutest little store… not bigger than maybe 1000 square feet. packed from top to bottom, wall to wall, with delightful goodies and imported treats of all kinds. i remember standing in the small isle way of the freezer section, gazing at some pasta, when to my right i noticed a person approach. so i looked up as to get out of the way and quickly saw that julia stiles was walking in front of me. we exchanged demure smiles as we passed each other, and all i could think to quietly utter was, “happy thanksgiving.” she nodded and we parted ways. i guess in my mind, i figured she had chosen that little store to shop in rather than a big supermarket, so it was evident she wanted to go slightly unnoticed. even though i’ve always really admired her acting, i didn’t want to fan out and try to strike up a conversation or ask for an autograph or foto. i just wanted her to feel like a regular person for a moment. i quickly realized that a lot of celebrities choose to live or stay in NYC as to “blend in” and feel a little more sense of normalcy in their lives as opposed to living in say a place like los angelos. i have never been to LA, but i just get the feeling it’s a lot more “celebrity obsessed” than manhattan island. as it is, there are so many people walking around new york and so much is happening at any given moment, and that makes it easier for anyone, not just a celebrity, to “blend in.” 

dramatic shadows everywhere

i also found this to be true of myself. i’m an introvert at heart, and i don’t really like to draw attention to myself or have unnecessary interactions. one of the things i loved so much about living in new york was feeling “always alone but never alone.” shortly after moving to new york, i had someone tell me that, and it really struck a chord with me. the hustle and bustle of that crazy city just never ever stops and yet as an introvert, i found a way to detach from it and live in my own little bubble. no one was really paying attention to what i was doing. i guess sometimes they were, as i will regale in other volumes, but for the most part, everyone is just doing their own thing and no one is really taking notice of anyone else. this gave me a sense of control in the chaos… peace within the whirlwind. once i became more and more familiar with my neighbourhood and the metro system, it became joyful for me to throw on my headphones and enchantingly saunter through the streets, discovering my way to and through various explorations. i enjoyed people watching very much. perhaps people were also people watching me, but if they were, typically i didn’t notice – just like everyone else, for the most part.  

i remember taking the L train somewhere one day, and i was sitting across from this adorable young girl wearing headphones and drinking a kombucha. she was dressed so uniquely herself… mismatching tights and a poofy skirt with a denim jacket adorned in various pins, and her hair was cut super short and spiked with traces of leftover hair-dye in it. there was something about her that was so cute and charming and i almost immediately had the desire to want to take her picture… not just like, on the train, but actually take her out and have a portrait session with her. i remember sitting there and observing her blissfully unaware nature and thinking to myself that i wanted to give her my business card and offer to fotograph her. i pondered for a few stops, eventually talking myself out of it as i watched her get up and exit at 14th street. i immediately regretted not having the confidence to approach her, but i also remember thinking that maybe she wanted to go unnoticed, too.

bustling city at night

the most serenditipous thing happened like a month later. i saw that same girl on the same train. i was shocked! at the time, i didn’t think it was possible to see the same person twice while one was living in new york city. there were far less people on the train this time, as it was fairly late in the evening. alas, once again, i got too nervous to speak to her or give her my business card – how silly was that?! as many days continued to pass when i took the L train, i was hoping i would bump into her again. but in 3 following years, not once did i see her face again. to this day, i kind of regret not at least trying to talk to her, as i would’ve captured some amazing portraits if she had let me. however, all in all, i did learn a lot through that experience and it taught me not to let an opportunity or moment pass me by. as time marched on, i became more comfortable approaching people that i thought my camera would like to get to know better. 

{memories in manhattan : volume one}

13 Mar

a little preface here :

i have been thinking about my experiences living in manhattan… i’ve been thinking about it a lot, in fact. i hope to make a trip up to the city in june, and so i have been mentally reflecting back on my time there.

i thought i would start writing about some of my experiences. i enjoy writing so much, and yet i don’t do it enough. i try to keep a journal, but my fingers just can’t keep up with my mind most of the time. i’m a much faster and better typer than i am a writer, which kind of makes me sad but also makes me thankful that i can take time to sit down and type out my thoughts when i need to. having said all that, i really wanted to start a series here on my blog which will highlight some of my favourite experiences living in the big apple. some of the stories may include fotos, some of them may not. i don’t have any expectations regarding this, but i do know it’s something i want to do.  and so to honour this desire of mine, i plan to update this collection of memories on mondays.

i thank you in advance for taking this journey with me, and enjoying these memories with me…

and without further ado, i present to you –


memories in manhattan : volume one

i’ll never forget pulling up to 20th street with the half-empty u-haul and seeing my new roommate standing on the curb with her friend and his dog. i can’t remember the dog’s name, but i’m sure ms. judy will refresh my memory if i ask her. i was so eager to meet her, as we had been exchanging emails back and forth for about a month. my boyfriend at the time was living in manhattan and had helped me land this living situation by visiting it prior to me moving there. i met my roommate, miss J, online when she responded to an ad i had placed looking for a roommate/apartment. it was so serendipitous to have her reach out to me, because i had struggled finding a place to live that was reasonably priced and met some of the requirements i had set for myself. of course, i wanted a safe living situation and preferred a female roommate. i also wanted something on manhattan island and i had a certain budget i didn’t want to bend on. ms. judy met all my requirements and she even shared her name with my mother, which i found to be a fantastically sweet nod from the universe. 

i opened the truck door and stepped my foot onto the concrete jungle for the first time, looking up in awe at the trees all around me. it was the 1st of october, and the trees were ripe with a rainbow of colours and the air had a crispness to it that i wish i could bottle up. i took a deep breath and immediately reached out my arms to greet ms. judy. she gave me a warm embrace and proceeded to kiss me on one cheek, then the other. she pulled back a little and said, “in new york, we kiss.” my soul felt a warmth i was unfamiliar with and to this day has not been duplicated. her friend and neighbour then introduced himself and his sweet pooch, both of which i hugged {and ‘new york kissed’}. 

i fell in love with my neighbourhood immediately. the tree-lined street just off the east river had been built shortly after WW2 and was one of the only “complexes” in manhattan. it was tucked away just far enough off the bustling streets to feel like its own personal city full of park benches, fountains, and lots of greenery! right below our apartment was the most perfect little bodega that ms. judy and i strolled into shortly after unloading my things to grab some pizza for dinner. everyone working there knew her by name. the place was packed with just about every kind of goodie one could imagine. it became quickly apparent that this was going to be a place i would frequent – all hours of the day. 

although i remember those very first moments of arriving in new york city, i do not remember much else about that day. my room was already furnished, so it didn’t take me too long to unpack. i had been downsizing my things prior to moving to NYC, and so by the time i arrived, i had packed and unpacked so much it was like a science. 

i do remember the following few days… i pulled out my brand new camera that i had recently bought with money i received from selling my car. it was 2008 and digital cameras were much more expensive at the time than they are now. it was my ambition to make that happen, and sure enough, i did. 

ms. judy had given me lots of information about the neighbourhood, and in true audrey form, i had done a lot of research on the area as to {somewhat} know what to expect. i stepped out into the cobblestone-lined walkway just outside of our building and i began snapping fotos.

i think this was one of the first pictures i ever took in new york : 

my first foto in nyc

i was still a somewhat budding photographer at the time, and looking back at some of the first images i took in new york makes me kind of giggle – as i can now see how much i’ve grown as a photographer and artist.  Continue reading

{how seashells are like humans… or is it the other way around?!}

20 Jan

seashells-2seashells

i love the ocean. i love everything about it – the movement, the sounds, the life that’s in it, the deep mystery of it… my soul resonates so intimately with all things ocean-related.

one of the things i love most about living in north carolina is the fact that i can go to the ocean in december! last month, just after the holidays, we took a drive to the shore and spent some time with big blue. i love to beach-comb and i have been gathering quite a collection of shells lately.

as i was laying all my seashells out the other day, i was admiring the variety of what was in front of me, and i got to thinking about how similar seashells and humans are. we are all so uniquely different, and yet we all come from the same place, essentially. maybe not the same exact place, as we are all born into different families and have different backgrounds and stories, but we are all born the same way and created the same way, just like seashells.

seashells all come from the ocean, a vast sea of wonder. we, as humans, all come from the same wondrous creative process. we all look different and have different shapes and colours and sizes – just as seashells do. some of us are not fully developed or some of us are broken – just like seashells. some of us have lots of stripes and stories to tell, and some of us do not – just like seashells. some of us are a little more ‘clean cut’ and some of us are a little ‘rough around the edges’ – just like seashells. some of us get tossed around by life, just as seashells get tossed around by the ocean waves. some of us leave the ‘ocean’ a lot sooner than others. we are very similar – humans and seashells.

at the end of the day, we all come from the same ‘ocean.’ we all are born human, and that is what connects us. our differences are what make us unique and give us unique perceptions and views of the world. those differences are what allow us to be able to learn from each other. in an ideal world, we would all appreciate our differences and recognize that those differences are what makes us all able to truly work together, and to formulate this big ol’ puzzle called life into a clearer picture.

my wish for the world is that we truly start to see each other.

 

 

{happy new year!}

3 Jan

happynewyear

i hope you all rang in 2017 with peace and love.

i think it’s pretty cool that the new year fell in line with a new moon… great time for reflecting, releasing, and  focusing on things we want to let go of, as well as things we want to invite in.

sending all the best to you and yours as we march boldly into a new year full of new possibilities. to celebrate, i made a vision board, which is kind of a tradition of mine. i don’t like to get too crazy with resolutions, but a few of my “goals” this year include learning to sew, practicing my piano every day, buying a new camera, and keeping a daily journal.

what were some of your resolutions?

 

{what real strawberries look like}

6 Dec

something i need to write about is how i spent my summer vacation… even though it’s long passed now.


one of the things that took up the majority of my free time this summer was participating in a community garden. it was basically one of the best things i’ve ever done for myself. growing your own food is truly one of the most rewarding things one can do! i would constantly remark, “all i did was put a seed in the ground – and this happened!” because i was constantly blown away at how cool nature is! my cucumber plants literally took over and my neighbours were calling it “the cucumber farm” 😉

the reason i bring this up is because i inherited a small strawberry plant in my summer garden plot. many of my neighbours had strawberry plants and i was fortunate to have one reseed itself in my plot. i didn’t get a lot of strawberries from it, but the few i did harvest looked like these strawberries. they were more cone-shaped than heart-shaped. and i’m telling you – the flavour in these things is just out of this world! SO sweet and SO juicy and SO delicious! better than any store-bought strawberry i’ve ever had!

do you ever compare conventional produce to farmer’s market produce?! the differences kind of blow my mind! the last time i was at the grocery store looking at apples, they were bigger than a softball! that’s just not normal. or fruit so waxy i could use it as a candle?! yikes.

for me, i like things to be as close to their natural state as possible. food, soil, water, me, and everything in between.

and that got me thinking about these strawberries i picked up at the farmer’s market last week. i was looking at them and decided to snap a couple fotos because i was thinking to myself, “i bet there are lots of people out there who don’t even know what REAL strawberries look like.” 

farmersstrawberriesfarmersstrawberries-2

these strawberries were SO full of flavour, too! something else that lacks in conventional produce. maybe it’s got something to do with mass producing them and lack of nutrient-rich soil.

anyway, i love that i can still find strawberries this time of year – as north carolina has a year-round farmer’s market and excellent long growing season. i hope to find some more when i go back this week!

{happy birthday to me!}

22 Nov

mebeach-2

looking forward to a healthy year… mind, body, and spirit.


i want to take a moment to sincerely thank you all for being a part of my life. for taking the time to read what i write, for enjoying my fotos, for your emails, your comments, your jokes, and your love. i appreciate every word and interaction and cherish each one dearly. some of you have been along for the ride since the very beginning… and it just means so much to me to have you here! ❤

{zen space}

7 Nov

oh, how i have missed blogging!  and i have missed interacting with my readers! i hope you all have been well and that life has been treating you with love and grace.

so much has happened this year {and last year} for me and although i would love to go into great detail about it all, after much consideration, i have decided to refrain.  i have been taking some time to journal some thoughts down and i think that will be a good way to release it all first. then, if i decide to share, i will.

it suffices to say that i have grown tremendously over the last 24 months and i sit here writing this post with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and relief! the past is in the past and i am here, now. although, the time is always now, you know?! if we are fully submersed in the moment, we are always in the now.  the past is behind us and we can’t change it and the future doesn’t even exist yet… so all we really have is now. and it is always NOW. i am {re}learning and remembering how crucial this simple truth is to keep in the forefront of our minds. it is far too easy to get caught up in other things and especially other thoughts.

and here at food and foto, we like to keep it as light-hearted as possible. or at least, as “positive” as possible. i have been thinking a lot about what we choose to focus on; what we allow our minds to be occupied with. and for me, it is extremely important to find a way to disconnect from our seemingly ceaseless thoughts… to find a zen space. and that doesn’t exactly have to be a physical place. although – it can be found in nature, in a park, in your bedroom, at a church… but basically, being “zen” is truly a state of mind. it has little to do with location.

however, it is true and i do find that some places bring me to a more “zen” feeling than others. for example, i did like living in the mountains and especially in the tiny home, as it was a life-changing experience… one that many people dream of. however, i never quite felt “zen” while i was there. at least, not like i do when i am near the ocean. i love listening to the sound of the waves as the water ebbs and flows… it reminds me to breathe in and breathe out. i love the smell of the salty air breezing through my hair… it reminds me to stay in touch with my intuition and appreciate the moment. i love sense of wonder and awe i feel for the unknown that lies beyond and beneath… it keeps me grounded and humble. truly, nothing makes me feel more zen than being near the ocean.

i am a water baby at my core and i basically believe i am {or was} a mermaid. therefore, i feel truly at home when i am near the vastness of the big blue. something about being around the water gives me a sense of peace like nothing else does. it is truly my zen space.

with all that said, i would like to share these fotos i took while visiting the atlantic ocean recently. i had a little fun playing around with some different filters. also, it’s pretty satisfying to be able to dip your toes in the warm sand in november!

beach-web-14beach-web-2beach-web-1 beach-web-3beach-web-4  beach-web-6 beach-web-8beach-web-7 beach-web-9beach-web-10 beach-web-11 beach-web-12beach-web-20beach-web-15beach-web-16 beach-web-17beach-web-18 beach-web-13

where do you find your zen space?!

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