For me it’s been a bittersweet year. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my step-grandfather, Pete, as he battled the end stages of Alzheimer’s. I’m thankful for a big decision that was just made, one that should lead to great things (Sorry to be vague – more to come on that front!). And I’m also extremely thankful that I’m able to earn a living doing what I love.
Today I’m happy to share the work and words of friend and (killer) photographer Jessie Askinazi. A few weeks ago we were chatting and I thought it would be interesting/awesome to see what she’s is most thankful for because if nothing else Jessie is always beautifully honest.
So, what are the three things you’re most thankful for this year?
COMRADES. When I say comrades, I mean more than friends. These are my beloved, the people I’d take with me to a desert island because I couldn’t imagine a life without them. These are the sort of nut jobs I can make morbid and distasteful jokes with; things we could never say to most people, our dirtiest thoughts that expose character flaws and perversions. The real stuff. The good stuff. The bad stuff, too. The faces that have seen me after I’ve been hospitalized for an intestinal migraine, and came equipped with a bottle of Pedialite in the middle of the night; or made me dinner with what little money they had left. They don’t judge me for my essence – they know that I will always exist outside of conventional perimeters, and I know that they will too. They’ll say the truth, especially when I’m terrible – and call me out.
FASHION DESIGN. I’m thankful for fashion design, for style being a means to protective armor, an illustrative palette that says it all and says it proudly. I’m grateful for the heavy-knit sweaters I want to burrow under so I can pretend I’m nestling in a cavern by a seaside during the winter. I love fighting the bigotry, the confines and the tar pits of the big picture by wearing a dress splashed with colors of the rainbows. I time travel through the decades by browsing my closet and issues of Harper’s Bazar from the 60’s. I outline my femininity, I imitate architectural blueprints, I mirror historian findings and I conjoin with textures. I fight the good fight, and I’m proactive through what I put on. Fashion takes me outside of the flatlands and transports me to a sky full of stars.
MORTIMER. When I lived in Los Angeles, I worked at a great shop called Polka Dots and Moon Beams. During my lunch breaks, I’d wander into the pet store next door and play with the puppies. One day I met a teeny tiny chihuahua about the size of a newly hatched duckling. He was so much calmer and sweeter than all of the other pups and there was something special about his disposition that kept calling me back. I guess it’s that thing pet owners talk about when they said “he chose me.” Even Penelope Cruz told me to buy him (she was in the store at the same time). I wasn’t planning on getting a pet, but everything in my gut told me I couldn’t stand to see him go to someone else. I’ve had Mortimer for about six years now and he’s lived with me in LA, NYC and FL. He has been by side through every crashing point over the past several years. He burrows under the blanket and sleeps wrapped up in my legs. He knows when I’m sad or sick and fills up my loneliness. He doesn’t question my antics or judge me if I’m broken out and wearing a face mask. I’m convinced he loves more than any creature can love, and his eyes look up at me with pure devotion. I miss him if I’m gone for an hour and I see how much he’s missed me when I return. Sometimes it feels like he’s the only thing I need in the whole world, like that’s enough.
Jessie Askinazi is a photographer and journalist that has contributed her work to Purple Diary, Whitewall, Bullett, Vogue Italia, Filter, Artinfo and others. She does her own styling and art direction, and runs an art/fashion/design blog called Morning Passages. She also writes poetry and personal essays. Jessie studied theater in New York and continues to act in independent films and theater. You can follow her on Twitter at @jessieaskinazi.