An accidental Facebook rant

Yes, I remember. Vividly. No, I won’t forget.

On a Tuesday morning not three months after I moved away from home and struck out into the world as a new adult, I (and the rest of us) was denied the ability to ever believe that I was really and truly safe in this country; that our politics could ever be as right and good as our government would have us believe; or even that our government truly has our best interests in mind, as its people.

(On a second reading of this, I totally sound like a self-righteous, entitled white kid, so I’m gonna go ahead and give you a disclaimer: ‪#‎firstworldproblems‬.)

I live in this city. I think about it all the time—the things that were lost and how quickly we can become a target again. I’ve lived in fear ever since that day. I fear the very possible moment of another attack: of maybe sitting on the train when it happens, having taken the last moments of seeing the person I love the most for granted, of dying alone (I’m also an extremely anxious and overzealous—involuntary though it may be—disaster-thinker, so do with that what you will). 9/11 changed our lives irrevocably, all of us, and most especially those of us who inhabit this city where, what was once a hole in the ground filled with mangled steel and the leavings of 3,000 lives, is now a museum collecting money from gawkers come from all points on the globe and sucking up our tax dollars.

Si ves algo, di algo. If you see something, say something. It’s plastered all over this city: a demand that we pay attention to our surroundings, that we be on the defensive every single day.

I see something, so I’m going to say something: I’m really conflicted. I love Facebook. It’s a nice distraction and a key way to get important messages out into the world. It’s nice to see what’s trending and what people are talking about. But my feed is full of meme-style photographs of the Tribute in Light, hashtagged ‪#‎neverforget‬, and it feels like we’re minimizing what happened. This isn’t the most recent cute thing George Takei posted or Jennifer Lawrence’s vagina (which is, somehow, more important than all the other famous vaginas that have been leaked on the internet). It lacks gravitas. We post a meme and we move on. We think about where we were when we found out (I’d just failed my first chemistry test as a college student), and we forget in the next moment. We don’t think about it for the next 364 days of the year, until it’s time to post a new meme.

9/11 affected me deeply. I feel guilty and kind of disgusted with myself for claiming it the way I do, as if it was mine. I wasn’t here for 9/11. I was tucked away in my warm little dorm room in Orlando, homesick and sobbing and full of fear. I swore I’d never move to NYC. I didn’t lose anyone in the attack. I’d never been here, nor had I ever had a desire to be. I had no connection to the city. But there it was: the settling in of a fear that lives in me every day.

This day feels, to me, like it should be one of quiet reflection (yes, I’m aware that, in writing this, I’m contradicting myself) and gratitude, but also one in which we really think about our politics and how our decisions affect others the world over. It should be a day where we commit to making this shitty world a better a place to live in, just the tiniest bit better, every single day. And it should be a day of remembrance—not only of those lost on 9/11, but of those we’ve lost in all the days since, because we have our interests and our soldiers in business we shouldn’t. Yes, it was a terrorist attack, but we have blood on our hands too. A lot of it. Now, that’s something we should never forget, and then we should set about finding ways to change it.

Veruca Salt at Bowery Ballroom, 7/24/14 | New York City Concert Photography

When I heard that Veruca Salt was reuniting, my inner teenager lost her goddamn mind. And when tickets for two NYC shows went on sale, I snatched up one set immediately. I had to work harder for the other set, because both shows sold out within minutes. Life has been moving quickly lately—so much so that I was too busy doing things to go crazy with anticipation. Until yesterday morning when I woke up and it felt like Christmas. I trudged through the day’s work, giddy in a way I haven’t been in a long time. And those two hours between doors and the band hitting the stage were excruciating, but it was SO FUCKING WORTH IT. What an incredible show. Well worth the [very, very long] wait.

I’m going to stop being a fangirl now and let the photos speak for themselves, but I will say one more thing: I’m so excited to do it all over again tonight.

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 7/24/14

Turns out, I suck at this.

Keeping the blog updated, I mean.

Lots going on lately—mostly shooting weddings (we’re heavy into wedding season now!), writing, and planning trips to collect stories for Live Through This. Maybe a list is best:

1. I wrote a piece for XoJane called “It Happened to Me: I Attempted Suicide and Lived (and Now I Photograph Other Survivors).” This is the story of my attempt (and recovery), probably in more detail than I’ve gone into before. Trigger warning for discussion of self-injury and methods.

2. I got the chance to be in a short documentary film called “A Voice at the Table,” made by Annemarie Matulis, Craig Miller, and Zak Swain. This is going to be a really useful tool for suicide prevention trainings.

3. I wrote a piece for TED Weekends, a collaboration between TED and Huffington Post, called “Cultivating Compassion for Survivors.” This one is a response to Kevin Briggs’s TED talk about his years spent patrolling the Golden Gate Bridge for the California Highway Patrol.

4. I’m planning a trip to Albuquerque, NM to collect stories! All of this is possible thanks to Waking Up Alive, a suicide prevention non-profit local to Albuquerque. I’ll be there from October 7th-10th. If you live in the area and would like to share your story, use the contact form on the Live Through This website to get in touch (please include all requested information).

5. I’m also going to be in a feature-length documentary about suicide survivors (both loss and attempt survivors) by Lisa Klein and Doug Blush, the Academy Award nominated makers of “Of Two Minds,” which is currently in production. They just released the first teaser trailer this week. I’m so excited about this. They’ll be filming me in NYC tomorrow!

6. I was on WBEZ’s (Chicago’s NPR affiliate) Morning Shift awhile back. I talked a bit about LTT and the burgeoning attempt survivor movement. Listen here.

7. Christie Aschwanden wrote a wonderful piece about the suicide attempt survivor movement for the NPR Health blog, called “Suicide Attempt Survivors Seek a Voice in Helping Others at Risk.”

8. I’ll be in Eugene and Portland, Oregon from 7/27-8/3 collecting stories and portraits. By the time I come back, I will have met with over 100 suicide attempt survivors in 11 cities across the country. Mind blowing.

That’s all I’ve got for now. If any of this strikes a chord with you, please share it. You never know, it could save a life.

Sneak Peek: Jess + Adrian | Brooklyn Wedding Photographer

I had so much fun photographing Jess and Adrian’s gorgeous DIY wedding (complete with taco truck, art installation, vintage cars, impromptu a capella, AND a Stevie Wonder medley!) at Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn. Here’s a preview. Stay tuned for more!

Want me to shoot your wedding? Head on over to we are for each other for more information!

Jess + Adrian's wedding at Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn

Jess + Adrian's wedding at Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn

Jess + Adrian's wedding at Greenpoint Loft in Brooklyn