Moments of Escape & Solace

Photography is about freezing a moment in time, creating a memory that you can share by showing others. There’s a lot of blanks to fill in, and I’m always happier to leave it that way. 1 Some of the answers can remain unsaid, others cannot be said.

About three years ago, I got to have some of my photos exhibited as part of a group project. 2

I was nervous when the exhibition night rolled around. I think I was actually shaking with anticipation. I hadn’t had my photos on display since high school, maybe nine years prior. It felt good to have my work up on a wall in a gallery for people to see. And we had sponsored drinks and snacks, so that made it a bit easier to pass the time. Turns out, only two friends showed up. 3

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It’s odd going back and seeing what I focused on.4 Looking at the pictures now, the set of them definitely reflect the lonely and isolated feeling I had at the time. The rest of 2014 would be a roller coaster as well, but that’s another story….

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We also had to write a didactic panel to go along with our work. This was the scariest part for me. I like to let my photos speak for themselves to the point that I won’t even give them titles if I can help it.

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This project was initially a foray into exploring the use of black and white photography in New York’s urban environment, but a funny thing happened on the way to the darkroom… Manhattan’s unrelenting hustle and bustle, brusqueness, and confinement led to exhaustion and a need to escape. I found myself searching for open, natural, and quiet locations; trying to find a small measure of peace and solace. Whether it was New York’s parks where one could almost (but not quite) leave the city behind, to the edge of Long Island on the beaches of Montauk, or far up in the Catskills in the rolling, foggy mountains, I needed to be away from everything in order to read, write, or relax. In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino describes the concept of the city as “the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together.” These photographs are an attempt to illustrate respite from that inferno.

That was me in that moment, three years ago; it almost sounds like someone else, or at least it doesn’t sound like me now. No better or worse, just different. I think I was still coming to terms with everything I had gone through in the first year or two in New York. It was quite the tale of two cities, and this was the cap on the end of a particular phase.


  1. That’s the point of art, everyone can interpret it in it’s own way.

  2. Moments seems defunct now, which is too bad. I think I was a little advanced for their target audience, but it was a lot of fun going through it with a group, discussing our work, and having an assignment or goal every week or so to go out and work on.

  3. So heads-up if you miss out on something I do: it might take years to catch it again!

  4. Pun intended, ha!

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.30 // Green Light

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.

Previously

I found I didn’t like doing these weekly as there was too much “churn” and not enough content.
Going to experiment with monthly ones for a while and see if I like that better. 🙂

Listens

I’m on the Lorde bandwagon.

Reads

  • I read a double feature of David Mitchell: Black Swan Green and number9Dream were both engrossing reads. I could barely put them down once I started. It must be Mitchell’s writing style, too, because I wasn’t too enamored with either plot. I tried to start The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but it was just not for me. Too bad, since it’s the first part of the Marinus Trilogy, but I’m looking forward to The Bone Clocks regardless and hoping it’s on par with Cloud Atlas, which I loved.

Scenes

  • Quest for the Stanley Cup – Episode 5
    Here’s the finale! So good. I really wonder what they’re going to do for the Championship video since they probably used a lot of content already in this and the In the Room series. 1

  • Twin Peaks: Parts 7 & 8
    Part 7 moved some of the plot lines forward 2, and Part 8 was art in the form of a direct infusion of David Lynch’s imagination. Hopefully more like it ahead.

  • American Gods Ep 8 – Season Finale
    That was too brief of a season, but ok. I think it was a little overhyped before it all aired, especially with the numerous “This is the best show on tv!” reviews. It’s good, it’s fun, it has an attitude and style, but it;’s not the best. At least not yet.

  • Into the Badlands – Remainder of Season 1
    This was an unexpected surprise. Original, fun, decent writing and acting. And the action scenes are awesome and fun, they’re like a blend of the Matrix and Highlander.

  • 11.22.63
    I forgot how much of a heartbreaker the book was. It was so painful towards the end.

Coming Up Next

Starting in July, I’ll be trying The Familiar book club. The books have been sitting on my shelves far too long because of their intimidating length, but this should have a nice, structured pace to it!


  1. Which I’ve never seen, so maybe that’ll be next for my Summer sports fix…

  2. Maybe they were… swept forward. 😎

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.16 // “I’m gonna send ya back to Arkansas”

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.

Previously

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup!

The Pittsburgh Penguins are back-to-back champions.

Have I mentioned the Penguins won the cup?

I might be a little excited about all of this.

Back-to-Back Champs!

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Princess is ecstatic.

Fri-YAY!

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Malteses everywhere. #RaiseThePup!

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Listens

  • Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

    This popped up on the radio when I was in DC for my sister’s wedding.
    20 years makes a big difference. I’d always change the station when it came on in the 90s, this time I made sure I figured out who it was and finally got around to downloading it last night. She’s pretty good at covers.

Reads

Words

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Scenes

  • American Gods, Episode 7

    This might be my favorite episode so far.

  • Twin Peaks: The Return, Episode 6

    Definitely better than last week, although there was a suspicious lack of certain characters and storylines…

  • Into the Badlands

    I watched the first two episodes of this. It’s surprisingly cool and catchy. I’m definitely going to keep watching over Summer while there’s not much else on. 1

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Championship Parade

    “What can we say about this group of hockey players here? I just think there isn’t a group I’ve been around that knows how to win more than these guys. … These guys are fierce competitors. They just know how to win, they just find ways to get it done. We couldn’t be more proud of them. … I said a little something last year, seeing if we could do this again. I wonder if we could repeat, or three-peat, should I say?”

    What a leader, possibly the best coach in Penguins history. There’s no reason it can’t happen again; if they could get through this season with all the injuries, anything is possible.

  • All Access: Quest for the Stanley Cup

    Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 10 34 50 AM  2

    I binged four episodes last night. Starts at the conference finals and episode 4 ended with Nashville taking Game 4. So tonight’s episode should be pretty good. There was a great bit in episode 4 with Sullivan and his dad playing cards in their back yard.

    Another fun fact: both Laviolette and Sullivan named their dogs Stanley.

Views

Weekend

It looks rainy for tonight and Sunday, so probably catching up on some reading. Tomorrow’s supposed to be nice; maybe some photography?


  1. Come back Mr. Robot!

The Fountain Pen Rabbit Hole

These days, I have a modest collection of fountain pens 1, inks, and notebooks. I’ve designed my own letterhead for sending mail to friends and family. I don’t profess to be a Serious Writer™, but I do make sure that I have fun in the process!

How did this happen?

I began my fountain pen journey about three and a half years ago when I was stranded at JFK while waiting for a flight home for Christmas. At the time, my parents were in Charleston, SC, and there were only two flights to there from NYC every day. I had missed the morning flight because I couldn’t afford a cab on top of the plane ticket at the time, and it was a lovely 90 minute trip at an absolute minimum, not counting the 20 minute wait for train transfers in the early morning hours, however long the AirTran takes, Christmas crowds and lines, etc. Long story short, I had seven or eight hours to burn, and JetBlue could only do so much. 2

Luckily, it wasn’t a Sunday, so in addition to 8am teriyaki chicken for breakfast, I grabbed a Sam Adams or two 3, and tried to figure out what to do while I waited.

While chowing down, I noticed that there that there was a Muji-To-Go shop nearby. I had grabbed a few gel pens from their store in the city earlier in the year, so I wandered over to browse, figuring I’d stock up on some notebooks for a few hours of writing to pass the time. I was surprised to find that Muji had their own model of fountain pen. Somewhere along the way in life, I was under the impression that fountain pens were always pricey and expensive instruments that’d be out of my reach, but this was at am impulse buy that fit into my extremely limited budget 4, so I bought one, started writing with it, and promptly fell down the rabbit hole.

First off, it was nice and minimalist, not anything flashy or fancy. This was great because people wouldn’t even notice at first that I was using a fountain pen. 5 Secondly, it was a totally different feel to writing than ballpoints or rollerball gel pens. I didn’t have to grind into the paper, it wasn’t scratching itself along, it didn’t skip. It was a totally different feel in writing. I was hooked instantly. I found myself writing a little slower and watching my handwriting shape up a touch neater.

The real fun started when I found out I could get an ink converter and use different inks in my pen. I could totally personalize it, and that’s where all the fun starts! There’s an endless variety of inks. Dark, light, saturated, shimmering, shaded… the choices are nearly endless. I think I stuck with my Muji pen for a year and a half before branching out to a TWSBI, and then getting to use different nibs. This adds yet another distinction and personalization to my writing. Stub nibs and flourishes for signatures, mediums and broads for writing cards and letters, and fines or extra-fines for quick notes and personal writing.

So that’s a brief recollection of how a missed flight home for Christmas got me into fountain pens.

Oh, and Bill Murray ended up a few rows behind me, so I had that going for me which was nice.


  1. Five so far, including the Lamy 2000 I’m drafting this post with, which I think is my favorite.

  2. They DID have Christmas carolers wandering around the terminal and singing, so that made everything nice.

  3. to start

  4. $8 as the daily special, I think

  5. Now I have flashy ones when I’m trying to make a statement.

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.09 // “Pittsburgh & Paris & NYC!”

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.

Previously

Fishing was rained out. :(

The Penguins lost games three and four to the Predators. It made Princess very sad.

Sad Princess
Then they won game 5 last night! She’ll accept it.
Pensive Princess
One more win for a happy Princess!

Listens

Reads

Scenes

  • Twin Peaks: The Return – Episode 5: I don’t know what to think at this point. This was the slowest episode so far, but hopefully it’s just one of those ‘moving the pieces around the board’ ones. I don’t feel the need to rewatch it like the first four though. That said, patience seems to be the key.

  • Logan: I want to watch it again in black and white, but not for a little while. It was a poignant sendoff for Hugh Jackman’s version of Wolverine. Superhero movies where they have grounded, personal stakes are so much better than the constant “saving the world” plots. 2

Views

  • Snapped some photos at a poetry event at Torn Page… still getting used to my new camera, but I’m having fun with it so far:

  • Rick Snyder’s Snykus brought the humor:
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  • Gracie Bialecki brought the emotion:

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Always amazing. This one is worth the watch.

Weekend

Probably some photowalks! And watching Game 6. Foley’s should be a madhouse.


  1. Plus the remixes are so good, too.

  2. That said, I can’t wait to see Wonder Woman!

Odds & Ends // 2017.06.02 // HellooooOOO

Like it says: odds & ends; I’ll try to post this once a week to track things I read, quick updates, thoughts, links, etc.

Previously

  • This week was a hectic one. Kicking it off with visits to Governors Island and Central Park was relaxing. The Penguins won games one and two of the Final, which was awesome. I helped out at Impact Hub for an event, and then bussed to Annapolis on Thursday night. Co-Piloted by BB-8.

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Listens

  • I caught up on Do By Friday through the week. The current events asides were a little alarming. I’ve been trying to just ignore the news cycles, but week after week after week being condensed into a few podcasts, that I then binged over a day or two, and it was pretty clear we’re not living in normal times.

  • Same Old Blues by Phantogram has been in heavy rotation in my recent favorites, so let’s go with that.

Reads

I really like it when something that ended on a cliffhanger or with no resolution years ago gets to come back and tie it all up. 1

I don’t think I really liked it, though. The miniseries itself, yes. I just can’t stand the heartbreaker at the end. Time-travel is made to break the rules of itself; embrace the paradox! Now I’m stuck equating Jack with Don Draper. 2

“There is a quality of spiritual pilgrimage to both series: You must make peace with the fact that you will never entirely “figure it out,” and that you will continue traveling onward without any assurance that there’s a destination waiting for you at the other end, much less that you’ll someday reach it.”

The headline alone got me to sit down and read this one.

No pull quote on this one. Just go read it. Unless you’re reading this on your phone, in which case, read it when you have time. It’s worth it. I started thinking about it when I went for a stroll and literally everyone I saw had their neck craned downwards towards a glowing screen as they walked.

h/t to Monica for that one.

One of my friends asked me about Bullet Journaling, which I’ve been trying out for the last two months. The best explanation I can give is to just point to it.

“Handwriting is more than just a form of communication. It’s part of our identity; you can always tell if something is written by you or someone else. The flourishes, how we cross our Ts and dot our Is, can be telling of our personalities. Our handwriting can change from being super neat and then chicken scrawl when we’re in a hurry.”

I think the tl;dr of this, for me, was to just slow down.

Scenes

  • It was two weeks ago, but the first four episodes of Twin Peaks. No explanation possible.

  • Season Five of House of Cards. That was fun. “My turn.”

  • Samurai Jack season five.

Drinks

Dos Caminos used to have some drink a year or so ago that used Singani as an ingredient.3 I really liked it, but then it left the menu and I haven’t found another bar that’s used it in cocktails since. Fast forward to a bunch of evenings ago; I tried a friend’s Pisco Sour and it was pretty tasty. I wondered aloud if the base liquors were similar, since they’re both from South America and were a national drink, and apparently I made a good guess: Pisco & Singani are both a pomace brandy, which I hadn’t heard of before. And that’s quite fitting, because I’ll hopefully be having one in celebration in a week or so…

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Weekend

  • Pittsburgh for some fun and celebration, both family and the Penguins.

  1. Hi there, Twin Peaks!

  2. Now I’m imagining Jon Hamm with a katana. I’d watch that movie.

  3. I think this was it: the Sour 63.

Five Years

1

I moved to New York five years ago today. That wasn’t the plan at the time, but that’s when I drove up here. I didn’t know how long it would be for. Maybe a week or two and then I’d continue on to Pittsburgh. Maybe I’d be able to stay for a little while longer. I certainly didn’t see five years happening. It was 2012, after all, and the apocalypse was scheduled for December.

I had spent the past 12 or so years trying to get back to DC. It was my favorite location while growing up, which I had only learned after moving away. When I ended up back there, it wasn’t what I wanted anymore. So I was directionless. 2

All my life, I’d considered myself a city-person. Primarily growing up near DC and just assuming everything was like that. The hustle and bustle, the national museums and monuments, the center of attention, and everything else. Moving around constantly led to that also. I never identified myself by what age or what grade I was in, it was always by where I was living. I was in Georgia when we got Sugar. I had my First Communion in Alexandria. 9/11 happened when we were in Maryland. Five years here, five years there; that was always the longest time in any one place: five years.

New York was always too big, too crowded, too busy, too much. Somehow it held a semi-dangerous reputation in my mind, probably from movies or tv in the ’90s. When I was looking at colleges, New York was never close to landing on my list. It was mostly DC, Pittsburgh, Boston, with a few smaller cities thrown in for good measure, but not real consideration.

Sometime along the way, New York lost its dark, foreboding status in my mind. DC was the green light across the water that I couldn’t quite reach, but New York became the true beacon of hope that I could get to. And that’s all I had at the time: some distant sense of hope — a faint glimmer in the dark. And I was in a -DARK- place before making the journey. The drive north became my last ditch effort… just a Hail Mary throw towards three friends in the city. 3

Somehow it all worked out. Not instantly, not along any clear path. I walked miles per day around the city going to interviews I had lined up and stopping anywhere I could think of in-between. I camped out at the different library posts to get applications set-up and sent out.

Living in New York has crossed the entire spectrum of possibility. There’s been amazing days and horrible ones. Some of the worst days in my life where I barely lived through things I never thought would happen to me, all easily made up for by having a vast majority of the best days of my life. A friend and I joked that we were living in a sitcom and were trying to identify which episode by what we went through each day. Here’s the rooftop party episode. There’s the heartbreak episode. Here’s the random live musical episode imposed by the Powers That Be at the network.

Five years on, and moving here might’ve been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Everything I’ve been able to see and do. All the people I’ve met and new friends I’ve made and memories I’ve lived. I’m alive here here in New York and I wouldn’t change a thing I went through to get to this point. Here’s to five more.


  1. This is a living document that I’ll edit and update and expand. I wanted (or needed) to start my blog with a milestone and this seems as good as any.

  2. A large part of that was the devastated economy at the time and empty-handed job hunting. Another part was nostalgia that didn’t match up to the reality of returning there (You Can’t Go Home Again, as the saying goes); another part was that none of my friends were around.

  3. And it felt like, at the time, the last three friends I had anywhere.