‘…n I’m gonna run for as long as I’m allowed…’

August 19, 2009

It seems (due to the high volume of questions from various people) that the general opinion is that I’m staying here longer (a year or so) due to the presence of a significant other person. It’s probably a good time to point out that besides ‘lack of prospects in the AZ’ (and this I could care less about), living with roaches on steroids (who see all my major and minor appendages as tasty treats), no water (at. All.) and the general populous thinking I’m a lose woman (because I like to run in the AM), are not exactly circumstances I’d like to stay in simply because I was keen on a dude. Rumor has it though, that a lady in Peace Corps (near my own age) is staying in the AZ for precisely that reason, (engagement)- married bliss awaits around the corner for them, and I wish them many years of joy lacking any sort of gold grills or tight faux leather pants.

Rather, staying here was an idea that’d been running circles in my brain for a while(since last August actually) therefore, when given the opportunity to not only expand the Photography for Social Change project but also a chance to work on a few personal photography/documentary projects (generally associated with leftover Soviet Sanatoriums on the Caspian, Secular Islamic Rap Groups, and Bus Stops) it seemed like the right life choice-living for 3 years in a post Soviet, contemporary Islamic country discovering democracy is a photographic gold mine of adventures that doesn’t present itself often.

Of course, a month ago, while hauling boxes, and various personal items out to the street (to the sound of xanims cackling at my odd and so very ‘English Qiz’ possessions) due to once again being kicked out of a flat, I would have given anything to be back in Minneapolis at 3AM talking with Mark about the various ways we could defend our house against the battalion of drunk frat boys relieving themselves on our front door.

So, I’ve jumped in the work fray-frantically (I forgot to pack the Christmas Tree) throwing my possessions together (and the above mentioned high profile exit), leaving the most permanent ‘home’ I’ve had thus far in my 24 months, and depositing kitchen tools with another volunteer, I’ve been living out my pack since the end of June with my collection of film and cameras and a few horridly unfashionable clothing articles. But everything has sorted, as things do-given my summer work-holding photography day camps in various regions, I’d be traveling anyway-best not to have rent payment, and a mostly crazy, toothless landlady hounding you. In between imparting massive amounts of photographic knowledge to hordes of bright youth, (This is worthy of at least 3 posts.) Azra and I have been navigating new territory in the photo realm of ’Foreign Ladies in ‘Baijan Possessed of Charm, Wit, Mad Language Skills and Cameras’-which means, we made a list of places to see over 3 months, checked it twice and celebrated the warmer weather of June/Start of Summer Adventures by conquering ‘The Factory’, ‘Artyom Island’ and ‘Chicken Factory’ (all abandoned and guarded) in top form.

Since then Azra and I have managed to engage in all sorts of photo shenanigans (halved Lenin statues, traveling circuses, giant Soviet telescopes…) as well a few more sobering wanders-one in particular, which, found us in Mardekend (village north of Baku) was a shocking reminder of the mess left over when cultures, ideals, politics and a host of other human meddling converges and explodes. Several attempts have been made on my part to accurately convey (via writing) what we saw and its significance-however, it seems when I try to write, a bit of self doubt creeps in, that, if unable to thoroughly describe Mardekend, I would fail at making anyone see its importance-because somehow, I think Mardekend is important.

Also of importance are the half a dozen or so stories that are collecting dust/taking up hard drive space-eventually or when I find a home, they will make their way here…

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2 Responses to “‘…n I’m gonna run for as long as I’m allowed…’”

  1. Brian said

    Run on ’til the runnin’s done… I’m looking forward to seeing you, and the results of your photographic pilgrimage in December. All the post-Sovy ruin talk makes my mouth water…

    I’m up here in the Yukon, and we’ve come across some really cool abandoned gold / copper mines, but most are so far into the bush that getting back to them is next to impossible. Lots of old trapper cabins, things like that, but nothing like Sovy industria.

    Stay safe over there.

  2. mcmacdonald said

    if you happen to find any sort of stuffed animal in one of those cabins-say a wolf, bear, moose-i suggest you swipe it when no ones looking and cart it back to MN-if the Wolf Man of Seki can make a fortune, maybe you can toooooooo! :p

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