photo diary | europe

A compilation of journals and photographs from England, Germany, and Denmark.

Below are journals written in England, Germany, and Denmark.

London

13/4

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some places are just easier to digest–London feels like home–and when a city puts forth effort to plant, display art, and insert charm in every possible corner, visitors are able to enjoy the in-between experiences. i’ve always been very much an “in-betweener,” an old soul in a young body, a fierce thinker with a gentle heart, undeniably intolerant of impoliteness yet quick to fight for what i believe in. it’s a daring and special adventure to see your own subjective reality for what it is: fragile and microscopic, as it is represented in the things and places around you; contained in a moment, like the five attempts made at picking up a pesky penny, or the time you left that perfectly blended coffee on top of your car before driving off to work: we have just enough time to stop and breathe. it takes five to ten seconds to choose to collect your being as it attempts to escape into negativity and stress. there’s moments to push–to the monument or the show–and then there are moments to throw out a line into the water, and find the calm just before you’re pulled back into movement by an invisible fish.

14/4

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i’ve never commented about this on social media before, but recently i updated my bio on Instagram (sort of jokingly), so here it is: i’ve been called a witch most of my life; told i resemble some television character–give you three guesses on the common comparisons–but there’s never been a photo that has captured that for me as this one does. i was a very unusual child and now i’m an unusual woman; i have unconventional beliefs and weird practices; i rightly believe in some things and superstitiously believe in others, and i’m just fine with my reputation. in fact, i wouldn’t want to be any other way. oddities give us power.

London Steps
storybook living is two-dimensional–there’s value in sorrow, and pain, and suffering–i want a flight-delayed, burnt-chips, no-ice, wet-kisses kind-of-life. that way, i might remember you better: your joy in a thunderstorm; that time you dropped a bouquet of roses on tile because you couldn’t heal me; your jumbled words and your impossibly brilliant mind. if i take a broken bone for ten years with you, or if i never publish another novel for a lifetime of crumbled up paper piled in the bin, with you telling me “it’s all divine” but i don’t agree, i will have it all. there will always be a price for magic in our lives.


Munich

16/4

Munich Studio
smitten with this human and this space. my heart is so happy.

17/4

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incredibly sad prose was inspired by this flawless dried bouquet. it hangs by the entrance of our studio in Munich. what something is this?


Nuremberg

18/4

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space can often feel limited; i find myself with this ache for a proper place to do my projects. it’s a distraction that i intend to remedy very soon. until then, here’s a reflective shot of the Albrecht Durer house where they imagined a space for him to have worked. we don’t actually know if he painted in his home, or if he had someplace to retreat to, but there’s something romantic in this corner. artists employed by museum still use this space to make prints of his work for purchase.

Photo Apr 21, 16 47 37
Nuremberg was an adventure. we took a bus from Munich without much of any idea what we were in for. it managed to hail, snow, rain + be consumed in sunshine moment to moment for the eight hours we explored the old city. there is much history to be discovered here, with the Albrecht Durer house tucked away beyond a tavern appropriately named ” The Wanderer”–such a thing to be–but fatefully, we had been much too lucky. our bus out was delayed with no notice, so we waited, frigidly, for about an hour and a half before arriving back to our studio after midnight. considering we are Americans with little-to-no experience on public transit, (the US really needs to get on a better and safer system), we have made out seamlessly. a joke formed that we “live here,” in each country we’ve only had but a slice of, all except for my graceful wipeout on my bike today. there will always be bumps in the road, but i don’t mind a few bumps + bruises when the streets are made of cobblestone and filled with charms older than our borders.


Copenhagen

20/4

Copenhagen Flat
we arrived in Copenhagen at midnight, managing to stumble heavy-eyed and hopeful through the city to reach our last stop. there are so many beautiful places we have yet to see in this city.

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i’ve been living in such carefully curated spaces, some more eclectic than others, and i’m beginning to see my vision for a space for us come into being. i’m collecting inspiration through European way of life–even the wall sockets in Denmark are happy–and i love to see the numerous plants + cacti sitting in the windows of the buildings here. i wish i could take this one home with me, a true souvenir of how much this trip has helped me–us–grow. i hope to continue to learn more while we explore these next few days before departing home. i promise this is not the end, but only the beginning; this adventure has propagated new limbs of curiosity in my spirit, and i will continue to gather pieces of this wonderful life to share.

21/4

Stilleben i
Copenhagen style speaks to my minimal yet colorful taste. i love a monochromatic outfit (@kylemkoppe believes “navy is a neutral color”), but a space needs to be simple & a bit daring to feel cozy to me. @stilleben_dk uses light and playful shapes to represent an array of goods. (Yes, they have international shipping). for now, a focus on the subjective views; you’ll notice all of my photos have an eye for the corners of the world with commentary on the larger picture. i tend to fixate on the beauty marks of the body rather than how each piece fits together, for fear of the disjointed or the absence of flow, but maybe more for the unfortunate fleeting nature of joy–once i am reminded that not all places pick up their litter and that the scars of war are evident, on every scale; the psyche and the earth. but here, in the making of a home and a future for generations keen on preservation, sustainability, and life, this may be heaven.

22/4

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foolish to believe we have it all worked out. harmless as it may seem, we become fastened; turned tight to the hinges, and when we swing, we creak and moan and claim ourselves unmovable. it is all because we are taught that to be stable is to be settled; tightening bibs when we’ve yet to cease spilling milk on our own chests; pouring wine to the brim when we’re drunk enough; kissing a brand new lover because the old one saw us for the imperfect animal within. ‘why not be renewed and spiritual and inviting?’ we think, like oil paint on wood. peeling, intoxicating visions of what we aren’t; tears cried for the extra inch, the ungrateful friend, the absent minds about us, that is a sadness i refuse to indulge. i have nothing sorted for the first time in my life, and not because i don’t have plans or hopes. but because i do.

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traveling, for me, has had curative powers. it’s as if many of my ailments have completely dissipated; i felt held back from seeing the world–not just seeing, but experiencing it–and it seemed that at every turn there was an excuse or a justifiable “adult” reason to say ‘no, not yet.’ we all do this, have set levels we must reach; thresholds that we have no real foresight to predict will come to pass when we want them. it is privileged to think that we can all just pack our luggage and hop on a plane to paradise. but we can afford ourselves a small view or treat to calm our bodies from the strain we put them through, the tense muscles and the stress fractures of wanting to be as we dreamed ourselves up. so, have a cup of hot chocolate or tea or coffee while we try to attain the ‘right time’ we so often employ just to say that it isn’t. after all, we aren’t there yet.

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fantasy worlds are fragile; as soon as we cross through the veil, ever so thin, back into reality, all perceived and subjective, it can feel quite overwhelming. life happens and things mount. it can seem as though the universe throttles us for the sake of random reactions to even the scale and satisfy the gods that govern it. my younger self would find it dark and comical to feel so thankful. i’d probably say something condescending, sprinkled with my favorite bloodshot profanities and refer to myself as a wannabe-angel. but now that i’m older, and still so young that this too may change, i see that the list to be accounted for is the accomplishments, the positives, the parts to feel blessed for. there’s no reason to dwell; just chin up and take it one step at a time.

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dreams, with eyes bent, up and over the sightline of All; of you, in your fragile way, strong and bendable, but the hold you have here, insignificant. because you’re up there, with the infinite, your feet lifting from the ground to spin you in blue light; until you’re gone and i remember that i never knew you.

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@kylemkoppe sporting @rainsjournal and @jcrew while we explored Rosenberg Slot –we hopped on our bikes without any plans nor sense of direction. i saw the green rooftops in the distance beyond our flat and knew we were in for something beautiful

23/4

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i’ve never had much of a sweet tooth; it’s not that i rarely afford myself treats–i don’t deny myself of something that will make me happy–but i was not the child to take a second slice of cake, or finish my first slice, for that matter. but hot coco in Copenhagen felt different. i could savor it, seeing the chocolate swirl and be soaked up by the milk. there was this habitual feeling, like it was reinvented as an experience to be repeated; shown to children, maybe. there will always be this nostalgia–swiss miss after rolling back inside with snow stuck to me and my cheeks rosy & numb; my cold nose met by the hot and inviting comfort–a brick fireplace with fresh wood & long matches to light up the obituaries/crime section of our high stack of unread newspapers. but this, this cup tasted like a new life, one where i could feel the child-like joy rise from the grave of adulthood. i invite you to experience something old as if it were brand new.

24/4

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last night was one of the best of my life. we were limitless and honest and daring. i was complicated, but the thoughts were simple: i was afraid. of what? it didn’t matter much; i became lost in it. it wasn’t confusing or messy, it was raw and unapologetically human. often the times we remember most fondly are the ones where we realized it was all going to work out. it will all work out just fine.

more travel articles here

the unfinished masterpiece

this is existential fodder–when do artists decide their work has reached its potential? I’m resolving that they don’t; I’m absolutely certain that the feeling must be complete, not the work itself.

finish me | nicely put, it is a work-in-progress


photograph by Nia Garza

I used to think it was out of habit to leave things unfinished. Lately, however, I’ve been considering that maybe I do this because I like it. I’m not sure if it pleases me, but there is some kind of beauty; a forbidden excitement, of sorts. We are told as children to finish our plate, our homework; to pursue and eventually desire completion. Isn’t that counterintuitive? We are made to feel guilty of the unfinished—our lover, on the bed, starving, and therefore, unsatisfied. No, dissatisfied with us—When did Incomplete begin to equate lack of skill, interest, or care?

I sat down to write this thinking it would only apply to my paintings. Then I felt my nails scratching the keys and realized, no, it is not confined to one medium. Everything I do is incomplete: relationships end too soon; some, gone on too long, made to feel overworked and therefore unfinished in an entirely different sense. To be finished is to be terminated, made to feel some kind of closure with the project or the person. To be incomplete is to be partial, aware that there is something missing. I am unfinished and incomplete in so many ways.

You commented on my eating habits: “It seems you never finish your plate, and not because you don’t like the food.” I hadn’t thought of this ever before. Perhaps, you are responsible for me realizing this practice–(I’m eliminating the word “habit” altogether)–and I should thank you for revealing a part of myself that was hidden and always present, like my own nose.

It is my writing, too. I have so many ideas which I’ve become so accustomed to spawning, I don’t even bother to jot them all down anymore. If the itch becomes constant or repetitive, then I address it, but otherwise I know my curse will consume anything I set out to do. And my novel, what a feat it has been—I’m determined to finish it–but that is such a relative term! If I finish it, it will remain a part of a conversation: explaining what I do, that it is alive in the mind of the reader, future edits, always wondering if words should be changed or if the message was naïve. “Charlotte” was like that. It came to a point where I just wanted it off my mind and out of my hands. Those things all feel unfinished, as if the inkwell and the drying is just another step to an endless list.

I don’t take on too much. I don’t think I take on enough. And as I’m sitting here, enjoying the day, dreading the continuation of this chapter, trying to remain positive in the confusion and divinity of humanhood, I come to love the painting unfinished; I come to find a breathy excitement in the things that cannot be totally complete. Because–this is existential fodder–when do artists decide their work has reached its potential? I’m resolving that they don’t; I’m absolutely certain that the feeling must be complete, not the work itself. The strife and pursuit of art and expression is completely insatiable, and humans—we are like our art—there’s never enough time before we die,  never enough love from our spouses, nor enough peace and goodness in the world: we want it all. We want to represent all, keep all in the conversation; never leave a man or concept behind. And in the end, we do; we will; there’s just no stopping it.

So, we might as well enjoy the unfinished, the incomplete, in these moments of water and pigment on a page not fit for these elements. Are any of us fit for our own humanity?

belle, reimagined

“Musings” is the result of a creative metamorphosis. This is my capsule portfolio of all things that inspire, perplex, and linger. Unrestricted.

“Archaic Malady” is the result of a creative metamorphosis. This is my capsule portfolio of all things that inspire, perplex, and linger. Unrestricted.


photo by Nia Garza

I first tried out the alter-ego of “Belle” on social media in 2013, becoming known as “belle athena” on most platforms. The name stuck, but the intent of the blog shifted as I began to take myself, and my work, more seriously. After much planning and consideration, I revamped the site in May 2017.
This site is dedicated to the authentic, to the dangerous and sticky parts of humanhood; all the things I’d striven to keep buried. The intention now is to tell the truth to my readers–it is likely to shock some of the loyal followers–and hopefully, with some time and consistency, crack open what it means to be Belle.
Follow, share, and enjoy; start conversations, question and comment, but please, remain kind. Content is all original and must be respected as such. Send all requests, collaboration or otherwise, to ArchaicMalady@gmail.com. Social platforms are also a preferred form of contact.

Thank you,

Fairy Queen Out

unapologetically happy

home and belonging

there are conversations in my head, always it seems, about home and belonging. I have come to the realization that I had ceased trying to find my home; I had become complacent with a halcyon that was not spiritually enriching. I aim to rectify that. because the longer I remain a misfit–constantly considering myself as Other–I won’t be unapologetically happy.

faith & déja vu: fl☞va

a large part of what you believe & defending what you are passionate about, is accepting that others will disagree with you

a feminist visits danville, va


photograph by Kyle Koppe

I left the place I called home…

 

I miss Massachusetts. I miss my family. I miss my dear friends. I even miss the people  I didn’t much care for. And why? Because they still hold a place in my memories, and helped me grow to be the resilient, confident, & imaginative person that I am.

My home has been defined by lineage dating back to the Mayflower + the 1840 potato famine in Ireland; & while I roam around in the humid air with sand between my toes, my loved ones still shovel in the winters + appreciate warmer ocean water for one month out of the entire year.  A large part of me wants to go back and stay, but I am on a mission to better understand the world, starting with the country I live in.

Now that I’ve eased you in, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Danville, Virginia. 

If I thought I experienced culture shock moving to Jacksonville, I had no idea what I’d be in for driving to Georgia, South/North Carolina, into VA.

I grew up in a liberal state, with city friends, in a suburban mindset, with not much to want for. I always dreamt of the rural, of the countryside in England. And when I went there, I felt more at home and at peace with my soul than I ever had in my entire life, with ehe exception of a recurring dream I’ve had since I was five years old.

But in just a couple of days, I’ve witnessed an entirely different pace of life; a simplicity which survives on prayers and blessings. And it isn’t to say that all people here are christian, but the ones that aren’t certainly wouldn’t dare admit it. There are enough signs quoting the bible to remind you where you are, who your company is, and what sort of respect the community demands.

In Boston, you could shout, “THE DEVIL IS MY MAKER,” and some people would laugh, some owed simply stare, and other would join you in the parade. But here, I imagine something much more like shunning would occur. I can’t rightly say. 

And even JAX has its moments where I fear my own spirituality would not be accepted. There are men holding signs on the street, offering you heaven if you accept Jesus, and hell if you don’t.

But here, those signs are on front lawns; there are children holding confederate flags before grand southern churches beside their kin, while black men and women stay away on another part of the street. I can’t imagine what they’re thinking; if they’re used to it, or if it just makes them sad. All I could think was, ‘You would never see this back home,’ and that’s when I wondered, do I consider JAX my home? Or was I thinking of Andover + the likeminded people that helped shape me to be an inclusive, open person, who wants to be confided in & experiences of others shared with.

I first found out about Jesus at the lunch table in 4th grade. I had heard his name before, but never had my parents explained much of him to me. I asked my friend about him, and she said, “He’s the son of God, our savior.” I remember nodding and smiling because I found it to be poetic.  I went home that day and asked my mom, “Do we believe in Jesus?” And my mother said, “We celebrate Christmas. We are christian.” That was the only explanation I had. I never read the bible. I still prayed every night before bed, but not because I was taught to, but because I still knew of god without being told of God. God just meant something different to me than the other kids at school, and I found that intriguing.

When I was twelve, I wanted to know more about religion. So I researched, I asked around, I was invited to different religious rites of passage, I made friends of different faiths, including atheists and agnostics. I structured the commonalities in my mind, so that I might better understand the root of it all, and what I found was love, fear, existence & the afterlife. I developed a sensitivity and passion; an automatic acceptance of sort, to all people, of all faiths. To all people, of all genders, and all beliefs.

The culture of this town has certainly transported me in time and minutes, but I find it precious and important to be able to understand the psychology of others; to fault others for what they’ve been taught, for what they’ve confided in, and the spaces that have made them feel comfortable creatively, mentally and physically.

It is so hard not to use the word ‘Ignorance.’ Because when one acts with anger to the belief system of others, one becomes ignorant. Speech can be violent, detrimental, hurtful, spiteful, and often breeds discomfort. But a large part of what you believe & defending what you are passionate about, is accepting that others will disagree with you; some might even be afraid of your thoughts for what they challenge, what they question. Do not be complacent or silent, but know when fewer words are better for your own soul, and for the audience who does not listen, but prepares to answer.

with love,

Belle

 

travel

 

kind actions and beautiful details

the beauty and ingenuity of only moments, small things, a few words

A grand scope will provide a vast look into the world around us. I notice the details, clinging to what makes life itself feel grand through the beauty and ingenuity of only moments, small things, a few words. It can be quite terrifying to see the bigger picture, and in a lot of cases it is necessary in order to better your world and the shared experience. But for our own happiness, if we hone in on what works; the small instances of sheer joy in our lives; what we find to be pleasing and interesting, we can better approach the blanket statements, the unfulfilled promises, and the state of ourselves. In kindness we discover patience and forgiveness. Be kind to yourselves and to others, for it is far easier to consider only you in the equation, rather than aiming focus to what lies outside of yourself waiting to enrich your attitude toward the fairness, or lack there of, in life. It is not to forget our problems, but to embrace the beautiful details that can propel us forward in positivity.

with her | a letter

we grow. we bloom. we are coveted & plucked.

we grow. we bloom. we are coveted & plucked.

I will not give love to those who approach me with hatred.

I want to be honest with my fellow woman. I want to be strong with you and for you. I am afraid of what you’ll say; I’m scared of what you’ll think; I’m terrified of the lies I have told; I’m angry with the world; I can’t set an example for you when I am hiding.
Who is the enemy? Men are survivors of abuse, gender stereotypes, and expectation too. I haven’t forgotten you.
I have been hurt by a woman and I have been hurt by a man. I have hurt a woman and I have hurt a man. I have hated a woman and I have hated a man. I have loved a woman and I have loved a man. I have forgiven, laughed, and cried, with both.

…This is our truth… I am afraid of a man overpowering me…I will fight, thrash, and scream until you silence me… I will walk alone in the woods at night, but never alone on a dark street…The true monsters walk among us…

“Yes, you do.”

 One bright afternoon, I felt like walking. I walked with my friend down the beach. We stared at our feet because the sun hurt our eyes. We both wear glasses.

We avoid the depths for fear of the shark, but drink carelessly in a sea of rapists who don’t know they’re raping.

We sat at the bar. The beer was cool, the corn dogs I ordered were hot and yummy, and she ordered cheese that was fried into little messy chunks. Southerners like everything fried.

We are afraid of calories making us fat, not of beauty making us targets.

The restaurant was only a few blocks from my condo. “Let’s take the sidewalk,” I said. “Sure,” she shrugged, and we talked about who we were in love with.

We care if they’ll make handsome children, but not if they raise a new generation of predators.

A man and his dog were in front of us. A bulldog, if I remember correctly. The man had gray hair, glasses, and was thinking about his life, I think.

We worry for the cost, not for the victims survivors.

We kept close to him.

We believe that someone will save us, but when the time comes our screams aren’t heard.

She walked closest to the road.

We fear being hit by a car, not that we could be followed.

I watched a young guy on a bike approach. He almost hit the curb as he skidded toward us. He halted and asked, “Can I have some cash?”

We fear appearing poor, but not being hurt for seeming rich.

New baseball cap. Bike in perfect condition. Clothes not tattered or old. No bags heavily strapped to his back because he had no place to leave them.

We take for granted emotional generosity, but leave happy dirty kisses on the cheeks of blank checks.

I don’t know you.

We ask for something, but never ask if something is needed.

“I’m so sorry, but I don’t have any cash on me,” I said. I meant it. I felt sorry. I don’t know you.

We are taught to face our demons, but are not prepared when they are tangible and threatening us.

“Yes, you do,” he sneered and rode off.

We are blamed for saying “no” and we are judged for saying “yes.”

 

I didn’t hear him; I had watched his face.

We are forever changed, but expected to behave the same.

I saw anger.

We are angry, but we are strong.

I wished in that moment that he feared me as much as I prepared to fear him.

We are lost, but we are still breathing.