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the list

It was a simple request, but it took me months to solve it. Soon we will have guests in the house for V's birthday, and the cascading piles of notes and camera parts, the lopsided villages of books, the forgotten bowls of loose change - they all had to find homes. I even bought a collection of clear, stackable boxes just after Christmas, but they sat like empty open mouths gathering bits of fluff and dust in them until today. With little flakes of fresh snow dancing against the windows, I began at one end of the room.

The problem with cleaning is that you constantly find lost treasures, windows into your past lives. Here, a set of notes from a film I was writing some seven years ago. Here, the warranty for a watch I bought for N (that I still need to register). And next, a Soviet ruble that I bought in Tbilisi at the dry bridge market, the location of the lost wonders of the world. Next to a broken saxophone and an old rug, I remember noticing a handful of old coins that I bought…


In film school, the night before a shoot involved building the entire camera rig in the living room. Lenses were examined and carefully wiped clean. Canned air was blasted in freezing bursts into mechanisms that might carry a minuscule hair in them. Film magazines were labelled. Batteries hung in strands charging overnight. The process was one of method, a meditation, a calm step-by-step gesture toward the distractions the shoot would bring. This quiet moment was an antidote I took the night before. 

E is circling me. The tripod is fascinating to her - the red knobs, the sliding plates, the leveling bubble. I let her pull the arm a little, to understand what operating a fluid head feels like. The monitor is pulled from the bag that sat in the closet, then mounted on the camera. The swivels work fine. I can twist it in any direction and it will stay in place. The last batteries are charging, and I have lined the full ones up on the table. The big black camera bag is dusty, and I think to vacuum it but wipe it down with a wet sponge instead. N eyes me in the kitchen, my arms furiously whipping around the bag until it looks alright.

The next morning I make us chadi, Georgian cornflour cakes with scrambled eggs and some fresh goat's cheese from rinok. The bags are sitting next to each other on the living room floor. Coffee finished while I stand at the table, it is time to sling them across my shoulder.

The day unfolds with sinks and drains, with faucets and spouts. I am staring at the water, how to bend it to my will, how to make it tell the story, to evoke the need for water and how it can be taken for granted, how it can easily go away. N and E crane their necks sometimes to see the monitor, offering a quick nod of approval. I am worried about focus, about what I am missing in the frame, about how to get rid of certain reflections in the curves of polished metal.

It has been some time since I shot something like this, not my own personal film but a film I am authoring all the same. There are moments when I look and just see ideas, just compositions, the mundane remaining mundane. Then in the third kitchen, the sink offers soft reflections, a basin that makes the water look like it is running away when the tap stops. My stomach jolts, I see the metaphor can work, the real world expressing something poetic without being forced, the real world being revealed. My back hurts and I lean back, seeing N at her sister's kitchen table. She looks up at me for a moment. I think she understands why I am happy right now, why I feel satisfied.


liv said…

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