institute for documentary studies

{the work: Sydney Leonard}

Days in the Wake

There were 12 people at the house that July day. But no one saw Rachel go into the backyard, methodically tie a noose to the tree limb above our garden and take her own life.

I had just met Rachel a few days earlier – she was my roommate Hanna’s best friend, visiting from out of town. What I knew about her, at the time, was only anecdotal. She had just graduated from cosmetology school, lived in Portland, Oregon and had a boyfriend who worked the night shift at a grocery store.

The Measure of a Man

Bob Emery walks through life like a man on trial. He has a long, hooked nose, and a prominent jaw. His eyes, the striking blue color of marbles, are full of conviction. They appear deep-set under his yellowed, bushy brows, which furrow when he speaks. “The people that might speak for Bob Emery’s qualities,” he said, “are scared.” Acting as his own character witness, he delivers his monologue in omniscient third person narration.

“Passionate?” he asked, “I think you can tell. Truthful? I don’t need to tell you. You make your decision about whether you think I’m tellin’ the truth, okay? If you don’t want to know an answer to a question, don’t ask Bob Emery,” he continued, hardly pausing. “Because you’re going to get an answer, like it or lump it. Here’s how Bob Emery does it: It’s a yes or no, there’s no gray areas, it’s black and white, salt and pepper, what you see is what you get.”

The Time is Now

Late in March, at a hotel conference center off of I-95, the Maine U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Ian Dodge and a small group of 10, gathered for the “2012 Maine Libertarian Party Convention.” Throughout the morning, Dodge offered a variety of explanations for the low turnout, including the forecast of snow, the southern Maine location (“they exist in pockets,” he says of the estimated 200 Libertarians in Maine, whom he believes are concentrated in the northernmost portion of the state), and his assumption that more people will arrive “later” because most of the interest lies in the speech he will make that afternoon.

About Sydney

When she’s not writing on the Dell computer she borrowed from her mom, Sydney Leonard often goes on hamburger-eating sprees around town.  Her Honda Accord is always packed for an adventure; a black suitcase sits like a passenger in the back seat.  For breakfast, she usually has eggs and bacon and coffee made two ways.  A soul from another era, she rolls her own cigarettes and is always on the look out for an oil lamp. For now, she’s calling Portland, Maine home.

Sydney Leonard
Spring 2012

view personal site »