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Patience and persistence, concentration and communication are those virtues that I try to work on lately. And that is hard, dammit. These four were so wisely picked by one and only Bobby Chiu in this short video. One definitely needs to subscribe to his channel. This man is an endless source of inspiration and thoughts. Usually I listen to his interviews when I do some monotonous work which I can do without too much of brain concentration. My personal lifehack is that these videos help me to not get distracted and click facebook or some ridiculous links. I just make notes from time to time - book recommendations, tips or some interesting idea that I want to investigate later.

Today I did the first portrait photo session after Lucas was born. I already skimmed through pictures and deleted technically bad pictures. I aim to do postproduction quicker and not procrastinate with it. I would love to work on my timing, I hate it when I try to postpone things. It is pretty normal, I guess. But I want to work on that.

On Sunday I plan to go to flower exhibition with Lucas and my mom. I just had an idea that I can actually sketch there. And also make some photos. Let's see.

 

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This first spring with  еру bebe already feels very special to me. Each day is full of well... life. Today I've walked a lot. And I talked a lot. And listened too.

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(credits: Alexandra Burdakova)

We walked in the woods with a friend, and I couldn't stop marveling at the beauty of nature. We are lucky to still have a bit of woods inside of the city. With so many construction sites all around the green patches on the map are shrinking. But we need the air, we need the freedom of thought walking in the woods gives us.

I am very grateful that I have a park nearby my home, but forest is so much better, so full of life.

My another friend told me today, that she is so full of thoughts and ideas, but they are mostly too vague even for her to understand. She said she need more talking and describing those thoughts to somebody and to herself. And I think that walking in the woods helps to find right words.

Why am I saying all that? I realised that my head is also too full of stuff, but when I want to nail it, it evaporates or hides in the corners of my mind. And I want this blog to become a place where I explore my soul and brain. And to remind me to go to the woods more often.

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Soon the American Gods series will be released. I decided to reread the book in English. The first time I read it was quite some time ago. It was in Russian, I was much younger, and also I didn't set my own foot on American soil yet.

And I must say that reading it now, when I am more awakened to the big questions of humanity, when I kinda understand a bit more about me and how humans may be, and when the question of beliefs and immigrants is huge as never before. And when I visited the US twice to get the vibe of the place.

We live in a complicated, but beautiful time. We are as divided as we are connected. So many possibilities to evolve, to ask questions, to get answers. It is sad that these chances are too often missed.

I am happy that Neil Gaiman wrote American Gods, and I am happy his body of work becomes familiar to wider auditorium of people around the world. I hope the series will be as good as it promises to be (I am sure it will be).

And his style of writing, ah, untranslatable actually. It feels like my mind goes delicatessen when I read each page.

And the cast... Please, are you serious? How come it is actually THAT awesome?

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Ok, showing up is fucking hard. Somehow I feel this effort of opening the new post and my mind goes blank. I am intimidated. But I will not give up, I will try to keep showing up and be daily here with some simple scribbles which might be boring sometimes.

Just listened to Seth Godin interview at Creative live. Why am I not surprised that the only clear advice Mr. Godin gives to adults is to start daily blog? The habit of active public journaling, he says, changes the way you see the world, the way you think and observe. Now that is true, I know, as I always see things I'd love to share but I never do. I start thinking - where should I share this? Blog? Instagram (ah, then I need a picture for that)? Ello? Facebook? Twitter? And then also that - English or Russian? This goes in the loop and I never share my thoughts.

This blog I have here is huge WIP of mine, which also maybe scares me. As maybe I expect this to be some perfect working mechanism which may unite all my doings. But it doesn't. Maybe I should stop planning and just write?

Yes, that's what I am going to do.

So you sit and pump the milk and you have to stay calm and happy and hydrated to pump your maximum. Or so they say. What to do? Let's try some random blogging. Again I ask myself what language should I write, what app to use, to trim the text or not. Usually I do nothing after those questions. Or I make up huge plans and after a big announcement I disappear again back to the loop of asking questions.

That is pretty frustrating, but you have to be happy while pumping. So no questions, just writing. In a way that is comfortable for me.

Last Summer I went to the United States and explored North Carolina. It was a journey I will never forget as I was honored to be a photographer at the wedding of wonderful human beings - Ashley and Jeff.

These two are very special to me. I met Ashley on another wedding of our mutual friends in Poland. She was brave and crazy enough to come to Russia and work here as a teacher for a year and learn Russian ways of life. I never doubted that a guy who proposes to this woman would be an incredible one. So is Jeff. I felt immediate connection with him the first beer we shared. What is this with my girl friends who got married to serious minded guys (mostly bearded) interested in Soviet history and art? I got three such girls. And I cherish each of them. Anyways, back to the last June.

The wedding itself was a several days long runaway from civilisation to the slopes of Brown Mountain. It was mid June and it is really hot time in North Carolina. More then once we admired Jeff and Ashley's decision to hold their wedding in the mountains where we had a river to cool us down.

It took me ages to assemble a sequence of photos which I humbly hope  it will the reflect the beauty and emotions of the day.

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This June I spent one day in New York and did a photo shoot with beautiful and talented Erin Hanson, who is a poet from Australia. So Russian made pictures of Australian in the American city. It is very New Yorkish, I think.

I absolutely adore poems by Erin. She sees such subtle things and manages to put them together in this bittersweet and stingingly painful but soul healing way. Read them HERE please.

I chose my favourite poems at that moment for the shooting and did a calligraphy with them. But you should read others. There many gems and jewels in Erin's art.

Via social media I learned Erin was about to arrive to the US at the same time I was there. So I decided to roll the dice and see if something can come of it. So I wrote her and she answered. And it appeared that our schedules gifted us with one and only morning we both could use to make this shooting possible.

Thank you, Erin, for being to inspiring and so top despite that before this shoot you spend kinda 36 hours travelling if I remember it right.

So the idea was to blend Erin and her beautiful poems into the fabric of New York city.

Model and poet - Ering Hanson

Photography and calligraphy - Vera Golosova

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When I talk to people I often mention Amanda Palmer in a number of various situations. Those who know me, usually know who she is after a while. More often though people ask - who is she? And why does she mean so much to you?

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So I caught myself several times babbling weird shit which altogether sounded as if I am a member of some cult and didn’t deliver the message. I realised also that actually I don’t know the answer myself. I decided to take a dive into my brain and soul and answer it - for myself mostly.

Hello, Vera. I am Vera, I am 30 and I live in Moscow, Russia. I do photos, videos and letters to make a living.

And Amanda Palmer is 39 and she lives in the US. She does music and all kind of art for a living. She also wrote a book, did an awesome TED talk and an endless line of crazy artsy projects, has the awesomest fan crowd and her husband is Neil Gaiman. She also has a cute baby-son now.

Well, one can simply says Vera is Amanda Palmer’s fan. I took part in her Kickstarter campaign, I am her supporter at Patreon. I have a book signed by her. I was at some events she held. So I am. But when it comes to the concept of being Amanda’s fan, things become complicated in a very weird way. Fuck, no, we are a weird company. And I like it.

Amanda talks to her fans for a start. So they are not a nameless crowd, but a bunch (quite big) of individuals. And she hears them, she sees them, she makes them feel real  and human. She connects with them.

Often people just enjoy it. Often they give her hugs, tears, smiles, words, things, ukuleles whatever. Sometimes they tend to mistake this connection for friendship and start seek for attention or throw accusations and stop being fans. Sometimes people shyly and silently marvel from shadows. Sometimes they collaborate with her. Sometimes they really become friends. Well, it’s just life, many layered, thick, full of surprises and spontaneous turns.

I just watched another video with Amanda on Patreon, I showed it to my friend who interviewed me before. In this interview I told my friend about Amanda, book, TED, art, real-ness, death, stuff. My friend got extremely inspired with all that, so she read a book, watched ted and recently she interviewed Amanda herself for her online-artblog-project. Amanda calls this “connecting the dots”. I feel that I was connecting the dots all my life. Connecting myself with people, people with people, people with books, movies, art, thoughts, whatever, recognising patterns, marvelling at coincidences. Usually it goes smoothly. Though I had some ugly experiences when I was younger and more maximalist kind of a person. Dots didn’t connect and I felt guilty.

I also just watched a 1999 interview of Amanda with Lee of Cloud Club. It is so funny, Amanda is 23 there, so young, so different, but so the same.

My copy of the Art of Asking was read already by several people here in Russia who borrowed it from me. The book is in Thailand now, a friend borrowed it for vacation.

We also have a Russian edition which is good of course, but translation is poor and it makes the book quite unreadable. Also there is a typo right away on the first page of the book (in the word “love”, duh). I wanted so much to gift people I love but who don’t speak English with this book for New Years Eve. But this is not happening.

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(A couple of days ago I came back home from a three weeks internet-less journey in Cuba. Among many books I read during this retreat was “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. First two days I fought with e-mail inbox monsters. Today I read through all those new posts on Patreon which Amanda wrote during those weeks.

And I felt so overwhelmed with feelings of all different kinds. So I decided it is a good moment to just sit and write something.)

This paragraph above was written in Semtember, so you see, this message was in the pot for quite a while. Now it’s Christmas Eve, but I sit and write it, because we don’t celebrate Catholic Christmas here in Russia.

So who is Amanda Palmer to me?

I still don’t know but I have some ideas. It is weird. But beautiful I think.

So she is not my role-model, not my guru, not the ideal person, not my hero on the pedestal, not my friend, not someone whom I want to be. She is just Amanda Palmer.

Amanda Palmer to me is inspiration and endless provider of questions which are sometimes uncomfortable and answers that are sometimes scary.

Amanda Palmer to me is the one who is not afraid to hug and look into your eyes. And smile. Or cry.

Amanda Palmer to me is someone who goes fiercely right into the heart of all life, death, love, fear, art, self-search and all that shit.

Amanda Palmer to me is someone I learn from a lot.

Amanda Palmer to me is someone who makes me respect and love and admire Neil Gaiman even more (my humble opinion is that those two seriously pimped up each others art in a very unique and gaimanesque-afpesque way).

Amanda Palmer to me is a reason why I met people who have a huge place in my heart now. And a few of them I have an honor to call friends.

Amanda Palmer to me is a person who has a courage to change herself and wholeheartedly change her opinions. In Russia we have a saying: People who never change their mind on things are fools or dead.

Amanda Palmer to me is the person who connects dots and makes me weeee happy when she connects with other people whom I admire like Neil (obbbbbviously), another Neil (the one Degrasse Tyson), Chris Hadfield, Brene Brown, Maria Popova, Jason Webley and others.

Amanda Palmer to me is a person who writes the blog which is perfect for me - flow of all stuff possible, questions, discussions, ups and downs, doubts

Amanda Palmer to me is a person who lets me be… well me, my very own imperfect self. And to be ok with the idea that me is me, she is she, other person is other person.

And for about 4 or 5 years I am grateful to Amanda for being herself and sharing lights and darks of her journey. Thank you, Amanda. With all my heart.

I still feel that everything I wrote above is kinda nonsense and babbling, but I did write it anyway.

And… if you are Amanda and you read it. I want to specifically thank you for letting me meet Anthony. I miss him too.

Merry Christmas to you. Hope we will meet again some day. Love.

Also.

Here is a list of things I decided to attach to everything I write above. Read it or at least scroll through. It may be interesting for you, whoever you are.

- open letter by Amanda to a worried fan (published at Medium) 

- how I met Neil Gaiman in Stockholm

- how I read Anthony’s book

- how I wrote the tribute to Anthony Martignetti

- how my friend interviewed Amanda Palmer (in Russian and English)

- how can you also join those who love Brene Brown researches

- how you can listen to Maria Popova of brain pickings talking to Amanda about stuff from “The Art of Asking book”

- how I shot almost a whole night long book pre-release signing parade mayhem thing in Cambridge

- how I shot 11/11 book release gig event in Boston

- here is a couple of pictures of Amanda and Jason during the Bed Show afterparty at Summinski Innski

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In Russia we have a saying which goes kinda: “If you want God to laugh - tell hime about your plans”.

So in June I planned to go to the US to be at my friends’ wedding. Of course, I had the Greater Boston on my mind. And we planned to meet with Anthony.

He wrote:

“UNE!! I plan to be much stronger in June, able to drive my car again, go places with other people in them, visit the hospital far less frequently, and be well into building some (muscle smile here) lost muscle…..and, of course, hang out with you (Pauly, Ron, Nivi, Nicolas and the of the of our friends) whom I’ve been sorely missing. Sending my hopeful heart to Russia with love, xAntoniox”

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That never happened. I came to Boston late at night because of terrible flight delays (never expected US domestic flights are so fucked up actually, huh). That was the night when we learnt that Anthony doesn’t have much time actually. Amanda and Neil headed back to the US from England at the speed of sound and light. All the closest people took a constant watch at the hospital. So I never met him again. Obviously I was not a closest friend to him, though our short acquaintance influenced me deeply and gifted me with another person whom I am proud and humbled to call friend.

I got a message about Anthony leaving us all here when I was boarding airplane to go home to Moscow, Russia. All the week I spent in Boston I tried to be of use, I tried to comfort and support nice people I met and fell in love with during my first visit (when I actually did meet Anthony). Pauly, Ron and Nivi. I do love you, seriously, I hope we will meet under some merrier circumstances in some not so distant future.

I met Anthony Martignetti once, it was a year ago. A year and a week to be precise, it was 14th of November. Days before that day were full of Art of Asking activities, it is a book Amanda Palmer wrote about life, dearth, love, hate, art and stuff. It is good, I tell you. But this is another topic. So Amanda just left Boston and went to a book tour.

WD4B5915Pauly and Nivi helped to arrange my meeting with Anthony. I felt like I am going to throw up because I was over-full with excitement and fear that I won’t be able to say anything - maybe not smart, but at least something not dumb.

We started talking from time to time via twitter and later whatsup somewhere in 2013. After Amanda explained to the world things about Anthony as the reason she cancels the tour. I wrote a blog review of the Beloved Demons. Good for me, I could get the e-book, shipping to Russian is sometimes a tricky thing.

WD4B6275Maybe it was me getting older or maybe Anthony used right words and images, and I read them at the right time, but his tales of demons and lunatics based on his own life got me deeply. I might say that before I was more a person of fiction, I considered non-fiction kind of boring thing. Not anymore, for sure. I realised that any fiction is actually a kinda costumed non-fiction. Level of this costume fanciness might be different, but still something that happened to you or not happened you re-work inside of your brains or soul and voi la - you have song, novel, poem, self-help quide, whatever.

Ah, yes, we also had a plan of a photoshoot. Anthony liked my works and wanted me to make portraits of him. We were not sure if it is going to be possible because he had this whole in his head - of medical reason. Who would want to be photographed this way? So plus to my excitement I was also nervous. Will we be making it? Or not? And if yes, will I be able to see through the sickness to his soul to make right pictures? It seems that I might achieved something, if one of the pictures from that sitting is a poster to the Memorial Evening which will be held today in Lexington. If people think it's Anthony's kind of picture and they chose it, so it means I nailed it.

So it was wonderful day. We did make pictures. We talked and asked each other questions. Anthony smiled. I even did a small special voice over with Russian accent for one of the stories. Anthony liked my Russian accent which is funny because of course I am shy of it.

We decided to make another session when I come back to the US in June. I did come back. But the second meeting was didn't happen.

My one and only meeting with Anthony Martignetti is a beautiful gem I hold close to my heart. I keep thinking if we could be friends if there was more time. I keep thinking that those people who were close to him for longer time and have more of those memory gems are extremely lucky.

I will come back to Boston, hopefully many times. This place weirdly gives me peace. It’s like a retreat secret garden.

I am thankful to Anthony for that.

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Today I sent love and prays to those who gather in Lexington for a Anthony’s memorial/tribute evening.

sorry for typos, with love,

V.

In the end of 2013 I realised that during my first year of freelance I read unnaturally small quantity of books. I was not commuting daily to the office and didn’t have a habit of reading cozily at home. While you do freelance work you home is your office and you always have so much things to do there besides cleaning and cooking which go on top. I still suck with reading-at-the-sofa habit, but I set myself on a plan to read at least 24 books in 2014. Two books per month. I could do it. 

I also promised myself to keep a list of what I read. Because I realised that life is so fast that some books got lost in memory or in folds of time. The fucked up thing that it doesn’t mean that the lost book was a bad book. And I hate to forget things I enjoy. 

I managed to read 27 books. Maybe I forgot to write down 1 or 2 books. I also didn’t put on the list those long current readings which you read in small bits from time to time. Because you can’t read them in one piece, your mind will explode if you do. I think I will make an additional list of those. 

So here it comes.

Books I read in 2014:

  1. Stephen Chbosky “Perks of being a wallflower”
  2. Victor Hugo “Les Miserables” (book 1)
  3. Наталия Аникина “Кошка, которая умела плакать” (книга 1, книга 2) (Russian author, read in Russian)
  4. Anthony Martignetti “Beloved Demons”
  5. Anthony Martignetti “Lunatic heroes”
  6. Philip Pullman “The ruby in the smoke”
  7. Елена Хаецкая “Мракобес” (Russian author, read in Russian)
  8. Peter Hoeg “Borderliners” / Питер Хег “Условно пригодные” (read in Russian)
  9. Mike Rohde “The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking”
  10. Austen Kleon “Show your work”
  11. F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”
  12.  George Fraser “Flashman”
  13. Reinhold Messner “The Crystal Horizon: Everest - The First Solo Ascent” / Рейнхольд Месснер “Хрустальный горизонт” (read in Russian)
  14. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett “Good omens”
  15. Susan Collins “Hunger Games” (all three books, the first book I listened as audio book)
  16. Марина Москвина “Учись видеть” (Russian author, read in Russian)
  17. Bernhard Schlink “The Reader” / Берхард Шлинк “Чтец” (read in Russian)
  18. Mark Helprin “Memoir from Antproof Case” (read in Russian)
  19. Paul Berna “Le Cheval sans tête” / Поль Берна “Лошадка без головы” (read in Russian)
  20. Stephen King “Carrie” (read in Russian)
  21. Amand Palmer “The art of asking”
  22. Philip Pullman “Once upon a time in the North”
  23. HP Lovecraft “The Call of Cthulhu”, “Dagon”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” (audio)
  24. Terry Pratchett “The Colour of magic” (audio)
  25. George Mann “Ghosts of Manhattan”
  26. Дмитрий Глуховский “Метро 2033” (Russian author, read in Russian)
  27. Marcos Mateu-Mestre “Framed ink”
  28. Феликс Шайнбергер “Альбом ваших идей”

Long time reads:

  1. Jurgen Wolff “Your Creative Writing Masterclass”
  2.  Clarissa Pinkola Estés “Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype”
  3. Hayley Campbell “The art of Neil Gaiman”
  4. Susan Sontag, David Rieff “As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980”
  5. Stepehn Kind “On Writing”
  6. Grete Weitz “Run your first marathon”
  7. Mark Williams “Mindfullness: A Practical guide to peace in a frantic world”

Current reads which I started in 2014 and didn’t finish yet:

  1. Mikhail Boulgakov “Master and Margarita” (reading in Russian)
  2. Ksenia Anske “Rosehead” (just finished it, so it is the first one I read in 2015, I highly recommend it btw)
  3. Neil Gaiman “Fortunately the Milk”
  4. Alan Moore “Watchmen”

Mostly I read in English because translating is a subtle art and we seem to lack of good translators today in Russia. My faith is a bit restored though, but I am still quite sceptical. I try to be more open minded. Besides I got interested in Russian classics and contemporary writers. Enough of being so snobbish.

If you got curious about any book in my lists you are welcome to poke me and ask. I am too lazy and hungry to read further. 

Also you are welcome to throw books titles you read and like into my face. It will be highly appreciated!