Category Archives: Photography

“Home is where your stuff is”

I was featured in Psychology Today Magazine this month, in an article called “Place Value” about people who choose to forego material objects for the freedom of living spontaneously.

Arikia Millikan _ Oliver Mark

Photo by Oliver Mark for Psychology Today Magazine.

Home Base: “I never really formed a concept of home,” says Arikia Millikan, a writer and information architect who travels about three months a year and considers her one-bedroom rental in Berlin to be just one of her “bases.” As a child, Millikan moved often and says, “My mother would tell me, ‘Home is where your stuff is.’ I have internalized that.”

I was asked to pose for a photoshoot with Oliver Mark, a Berlin-based photographer who has a way of capturing subjects in their most regal state. This was a particular feat that day considering that I had just landed from an 21-hour flight from LAX through Copenhagen and finally back to Berlin, and was experiencing proper jet lag. When the intercom buzzed, I was trying to clean up my apartment, which looked like a tornado hit it from my last-minute packing frenzy (I always pack at the last possible moment). I was wearing no makeup, I hadn’t done the dishes, and Oliver came in and said, “You look great, I can work with this,” and just started moving furniture around and pulling clothes out of my closet.

It was the most fun I’ve ever had in a photoshoot, and I am honored to be immortalized by Psychology Today as a notable “minimalist traveler” of our time.

An extra bit from the interview that wasn’t included in the final version:

I sometimes joke that my brain is like the bus from Speed — if it slows below 55mph it will explode. I feel the most emotionally content and intellectually stimulated when I am in motion. I could never accept the level of monotony most people cherish. Every new place filled with new people is a series of puzzles just waiting to be solved. Perhaps Berlin feels like home to me precisely because it’s always buzzing with novelty. There are a few parts that anchor me, but it feels like a different city every day.

Read the full article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/201807/place-value

Special thanks to: Kaja Perina (EIC, Psychology Today), Hannah Kenyon-Lair (hair), and Amira Marion (wardrobe).

 

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The Tidal Pool Treasures of Thailand

There is a place in Thailand that, to me, is the most magical place on Earth. I found it by accident, but I think I’d like to die there someday. I won’t say where it is, but if you ever want to go, tell me and if you’ve been kind to me over the years I will hand-draw you a map. In the mean while, I think we could all use a little magic during these tough times, so I’ll show you what I found there.

It all began when I woke up in my cliff-side bungalow the morning after I arrived, and looked out the window. By the first light of dawn, I saw something interesting outside:

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It looked like the entrance to a cave off in the distance. I’d stayed here once before but this was a new bungalow—two years ago the jungle was covering this particular view and I didn’t know the cave existed.

While eating  breakfast I chatted with an adventurous Slovakian couple. After finishing, the man hopped over a low rail partitioning off the dining area from the rocky cliff, and waved goodbye. I turned to his partner, and asked where he was going. She pointed to the rocks below. I was amazed they were going down there, because not once had the idea occurred to me last time I was there. I assumed it was too dangerous and stuck to the several sandy beaches, each offering its own slice of nature that was more than fulfilling for me. Minutes later, she finished her yogurt and prepared to walk down to find her mate. Knowing nothing about them I thought perhaps they were the rock-climbing type, and asked about the decent. “Yeah the path is kind of treacherous but it’s worth it,” she said, climbing down in flip flops.

Surely if she was wearing flip flops, I could do it in sneakers. But she wasn’t lying about it being treacherous. When I climbed down later there was barely a path through the jungle overgrowth, and I crabwalked and bouldered down most of the way. When I finally reached the bottom though, it was magnificent peaceful rocky heaven.

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Rainy day wander in Kyoto

Nijo castle garden | Olympus Pen EP-5 | Arikia Millikan

The rain sounds different when it hits the tops of houses in Kyoto. I woke up and listened to it for an hour today, then went downstairs and watched the turtles in the inner garden pond. Animals here are not afraid of people. They don’t run and hide the way animals who have learned the hard way what humans are all about do. Even the little birds don’t mind. The only ones who run from people, my house mate told me, are the cats. Given the obsession with cats here, this strikes me as wise behvior.

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Links from around the web

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Photo by Jack Davidson, NY Times.

Closing some browser tabs, but not forgetting them:

Williams Gibson: On Technophobia and the Power of Film – Via Alexis Madrigal’s newsletter.

The Zika Virus is getting real, and lines are getting blurry for pro-life advocates, who are now forced to face the undeniable validity of the necessity of some abortions. -Via the Washington Post newsletter

Something to put that all in historical perspective and a great read regardless: It’s Spreading: Outbreaks, media scares, and the parrot panic of 1930:

The experts who descended on Annapolis in early January, 1930, weren’t half as baffled as the Washington Post made them out to be, but the reading public must have been at least twice as confused. Was parrot fever really something to worry about? Reading the newspaper, it was hard to say. “NOT CONTAGIOUS IN MAN,” the Times announced. “Highly contagious,” the Washington Post said. Who knew? Nobody had ever heard of it before. It lurked in American homes. It came from afar. It was invisible. It might kill you. It made a very good story.

But the parrots were innocent then, and they are innocent now. If you want to know why I love parrots, read that. – NY Times Magazine, via Rick Kot.

If you think the superbowl is all just fun and games, consider that repeated head trauma can lead to neurodegeneration and forces many football stars, such as Ken Stabler, to live out the rest of their lives trapped in a mental hell. I’d like to see a halftime commercial about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.). – Via NY Times Breaking News alerts

Hacker time killa: Nested – via Jack Donovan

A cool way to search flights if you want to find the cheapest route TO a certain city. Just input get a list of airport codes separated by commas and you can see where the cheapest connections are. – Via @markmadsen

Speaking of flying, the Dutch are training eagles to hunt drones. – Wired

Turns out a media industry that favors talent inclined to sell out as quickly as possible results in a lot of bad editors. This guy has some words for them. Don’t be this kind of editor.

Tabs staying open:

“An Equal Difference” Intellect & Gender Equality in Iceland, by Gabrielle Motola. Gaby and I met over cocktails in Iceland. The next day, we hiked a volcano with some badass Icelandic women. We met up later and traveled through England, Spain, and Morocco together. She taught me everything I know about photography, which is but a drop in her bucket of knowledge.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gmotophotos/an-equal-difference-intellect-and-gender-equality/widget/video.html

Please support her independent photographic exploration in Iceland by funding her project!

Why I decided to pose for a lingerie photo shoot

I wasn’t too concerned with being “pretty” until middle school. When I was 11, I went with a bunch of my friends to an open casting call at the Barbizon modeling school. In retrospect, it was a scam and a waste of time, but I wanted some kind of positive affirmation about my appearance. My friends made it to the next round, but the judges told me to come back once I got my braces off. I was taller than the most of the guys in my class until I finally stopped growing at 5’10” my junior year of high school. My first crush called me Amazon Arikia—which I think is awesome now, but at the time it horrified me. When I look at pictures of myself as a teenager, I can’t believe I ever thought I was fat, but I was convinced I had love handles.

Now I’m 27. I have scars, stretch marks, sun spots, I’m 170 lbs, and I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I love this body. This body has carried me around the world, up volcanoes and over rivers. It has protected me through two car accidents, five street attacks, a venomous spider bite, dengue fever, and a nasty Southeast Asian bacterial infection. It is powerful, and it can kick a lot of ass. It is also incredibly soft. It can release endorphins, give warmth, comfort, and pleasure to others.

It’s been a long process undoing the brainwashing that the media imposes on little girls to make them think they can’t be beautiful unless they tread down the capitalistic rabbit hole of endless artificial enhancements. I wish I could have spent my teen years believing that I am beautiful, and celebrating that confidence in all the ways I can imagine to adorn my body like I do now.

As the EIC of LadyBits, I’ve spent many hours creating and promoting content that supports body diversity campaigns, and calling out douchebag brands that limit their products to idealized body types. I will continue to work to stock the media with images of women who represent the beautiful reality in addition to the idealized fantasy so that the next generation can understand the difference better than I did.

So when a friend told me the founder of Dear Kate was looking for models—specifically, for size L women who work in the tech industry—for an upcoming shoot, I volunteered. At first I thought the shoot was for yoga pants, which Dear Kate is known for manufacturing the antithesis of the Lululemon brand (as in they’re not see-through and are available in many larger “queen” sizes), but it turned out it was for their new lingerie line themed around Ada Lovelace.

I wasn’t sure if I should participate. Would it ruin my personal brand until the end of eternity? Would people take me less seriously as a professional and an entrepreneur if they had seen my lace-clad body? Would I be harassed with endless troll comments?

No. Anyone who would sexualize me, objectify me, or treat me differently in the professional world would do so regardless of what I wore, and those who respect me would continue to. Why would I sacrifice the opportunity to be professionally photographed in what I feel is the best shape of my life? I’ve never kept myself from doing anything out of fear, especially when that fear is the burden of women alone.

So lo and behold, I’m now a lingerie model. And I feel pretty great about it.

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Check out the whole lookbook for the Dear Kate Ada Collection and meet the other awesome tech models.

And FYI I’m not just posing on that computer, I was actually writing this blog post :)

A happy ending for Twitter the Wonder Budgie

As you may know from my web postings, a budgie flew into my life a few weeks ago and I named him Twitter. Many people described Twitter’s appearance as “fate” and tried to convince me that the universe was trying to tell me I should stay in NYC. But I decided my friends were just being adorable and wanted to keep me near them and that I needed to carry on with my plan.

If anything was fate, it was that by coming to me, that little blue bird was destined to wind up in the best home possible. When Twitter first arrived, I immediately posted on the facebook group for my apartment complex (kind of an artist co-op) to try to find Twitter’s original owner. I never did, but one of my neighbors, Cecilia, responded to the thread when I posted a longshot inquiry to ask if anyone had a spare bird cage. She did, and it just so happened to match Twitter’s blue exactly.

I recognized her name as the neighbor I volunteered to bird sit for over the holidays. I carefully placed Twitter under a spaghetti strainer and went upstairs to get the cage, where I was greeted by her love birds, a moustached parrot, and a bunny rabbit hopping along the floor. Her boyfriend, Brian, offered to take Twitter right off the bat, but Cecelia was reasonably hesitant. She was thinking about getting another bunny, they would have to think about it.

I had some friends inquire about taking him, who all would have been fantastic bird owners, but extenuating circumstances derailed that plan. Also though, I knew from watching Twitter during the two short weeks he was in my life that he really wanted to be with other birds. He would hang out with me, but his favorite spot was on the window sill, where he would sit and stare out at the trees in the courtyard for hours. He tried in vain to start conversations with the birds out there who would abruptly stop tweeting once they realized the response was coming from an undesired recipient. I think he got sad that he couldn’t be a part of the flock.

So I sent Cecilia a facebook message and asked her to take Twitter. She agreed in an instant, and when I took him up to his new home the night before my flight, I knew I had made the right choice. They hugged me hello, and the birds were out and about, being social. She had toys for them to play with all over her cozy apartment. And most of all, I could tell her and Brian were both true bird lovers, people who reveled in their ability to provide a good life for the birds more than the satisfaction they got from being exposed to their beauty.

The day after I left, Cecelia posted a picture on my Timeline:

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There’s Twitter, getting a smooch from his new best friend, Tia. (And no, he’s not trying to bite him. He wouldn’t just be sitting there if he was in danger, he has wings.)

Twitter_Sunshine

There’s Twitter and Sunshine…

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And him hanging out with Speedy, pretending he is the kind of the mountain by being higher than everyone else (overcompensation, Twitter?)

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There’s them all playing on their play gym together <3

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Even the bunny, Totoro, loves Twitter! Or at least his food.

I’m more confident than ever that I made the right decision. Twitter found his flock, and I found some peace of mind. Thank you, Cecilia and Brian, for the wonderful photos, and for saving the day! <3