Thursday, December 31, 2015

only the essentials

on the line

There's a concept in a guided meditation by Dr. Ann Webster* that I've been interested in lately. She advises listeners to only keep the tension that they feel is necessary and to let go of the rest. I'd never heard anyone give permission to maintain tension. If you think about it though, we need a certain amount of tension to function, whether that tension comes in the physical form (musculoskeletal requirements to move) or emotional (healthy conflict that leads to better relationships or stress that precipitates action, etc). I've started to take note of where the excess tension is in my life. There's a ton of physical tension. Holding my muscles more rigidly than necessary during a run, scrunching at the trunk while I sit on the couch, clenching my jaw, the list goes on. Then there's the surplus of interpersonal and emotional strain. The anxiety spin. The blame game. The second guessing. The preemptive moaning and groaning about whatever X person is going to say or do in Y situation. On and on I could go, but there are homemade pizzas to be made and banjos to be practiced. I've decided that keeping this blog rolling is a tension that I should hold on to. It's stressful, and frankly, kind of aggravating, and it's unclear who's even out there. But I have to remind myself that I'm not doing it for you (sorry). I'm doing it for me as a way to play around with words and images and get outside the hum-drum everyday box to gain perspective. So my NEW goal is to post a haiku a day for the next year. This might be easier said than done if we take a trip that mucks around with internet access, but we will see how close I can get. In the meantime, here are the last additions to the December project:

some days I muddle
through the process wondering
what's the point of this?


without it you flop
and wobble, but only keep
the tension you need


do you need that vice
grip to avoid danger or
can you let it go?

*I first encountered Dr. Webster when I attended a mind/body conference held at Harvard Medical School. I recommend her guided meditations. I feel like I can focus better with the help of someone's voice.

picture: clothesline during sunset after a torrential downpour, near Kennett Square, PA, July 2013, film, Canon Tlb 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Now boarding


I flew to NC and back today to visit my grandmother because we skipped our usual trek to see her for Christmas. In fact, I'm still in transit sitting at Raleigh Durham airport waiting on my flight. In my previous blogging life I would never have fussed with writing a post on my phone to the soundtrack of overlapping gate announcements and whining children, but this is what commitment looks like (translation: stubbornness). In an effort to not lose my shit typing on this tiny screen let's get to the point shall we: 

as we crest over 
dull gray clouds into sunlight 
a smile erupts 


when you ask people 
about their life, they find words 
you might not have heard 

picture: a playground in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

find your meaning

passing through

I've recently become obsessed with spotting the statue of liberty on my train rides to/from Manhattan. It started on a particularly difficult day about a month ago. Another bout of professional inadequacy roared through my brain, and for some reason I had a moment on the train when I realized that I had gone from living on a military base in the piedmont of NC as a small child to an adult living in the chaos of NYC, riding the train across the Manhattan bridge to my job as a therapist, living with my partner, and taking care of other living beings. I don't know, something about the distance between those two states of being hit me as an accomplishment, even though I know that there's a bias wrapped up in the conclusion. Am I somehow more "accomplished" than the people who never stray 10 miles from home? No, but for me it feels important to realize that I have taken certain kinds of risks and am living a life that is proof of the ability to do hard things. I also have a ton of privilege and opportunity that makes my challenges a walk in the park compared to others, but it's important to hold both ideas and not dismiss one's accomplishments. Something about the raised arm of the statue of liberty triggered this thought process, and I'm sure there's some contentious back story that throws stones through my vision of it as a symbol for strength. It feels cheesy, and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm also happy to have a trigger for helpful thoughts that keep me from getting too caught up in my failure narrative.

rattling over
the bridge, her arm extends through
fog, a reminder


walking along 6th
idly texting when a damn
pigeon grazed my phone

(yes, that really happened)

picture: fog rolling through the NC mountains, somewhere between Warren Wilson College and Boone, July 2013, film, Canon Tlb (because I don't really have a picture of the statue of liberty or one looking the correct direction down the east river) 

Monday, December 28, 2015

from there to here

vantage point

Made the drive home from Maryland today, and I nearly forgot to write something for today because of the holiday/travel fuzz that has accumulated between my ears. We started the movie "Still Alice" during dinner, which also distracted me from my mission. I'm not sure we will make it all the way through because it's so effing heartbreaking (early onset Alzheimer's), but such is reality. Here's the brief and cryptic version of today's drive:

through the sea of white
lines, the lives of others pass
as we get closer

picture: in a friend's childhood home looking down to the ground floor from an open beam in the kitchen (crazy house), VT, May 2005, film, Canon Tlb 

Sunday, December 27, 2015


his fort

Our holiday marathon is coming to an end, and I am running on empty in the conversation department. Here's what I've managed to cobble together for today after several failed attempts at concentrating. Maybe tomorrow will be easier once I've had some quiet time.

mishmash of ideas
that will not stick together
could try some duct tape

picture: Petey, hanging out in the comfort of his carpet fort, Brooklyn, NY, September 2012, digital 

Saturday, December 26, 2015


puddle jumping

When we travel, we try to maintain some semblance of routine. Saturdays are normally long run days, so Charrow, my mother and I dragged ass out of a warm and dry house to go for an 8ish mile run in the rain. Well, more of a drizzle really, but it was still a struggle to motivate. Here's the short version:

through the misty streets
we ran in silence wishing
for sleep and dry feet

picture: main street of a village on Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of Rio, Brazil, September 2012, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

Friday, December 25, 2015

reindeer poop

geometric moon

This definitely won't be the highlight of my month of haikus, but it's done and that's what counts. A brief rendition of Christmas:

Ring around the moon
Belly full of gluten and
We all fall asleep

picture: the moon, the Laurentian mountains, Canada, July 2010, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

holiday sneer

holiday bowling

This about sums up today so far (yes, I've moved to a computer that has a functional letter "u"): 

humid sluggish run,
apple squares in the oven,
wrapping presents sucks

picture: giant ornament sculpture near Radio City Music Hall, December 2010, film, Agfa Optima

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


misty start

Well, we made it. I am attempting to write this on a laptop that does not have a working letter-after-T key (or apostrophe or colon!) so this will be interesting. The drive was incredibly soggy and foggy yet faster than expected for this time of year. In the interest of tending to the family whirlwind, I am going to keep things short over the next several days. Less preamble for the short form...

tis the season for
long drives and ping pong matches
no snow for the sleds

image is from Montaña de Oros state park before the fog cleared for the morning, CA, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

wide open spaces

where we almost missed our connection

A quick snippet from today's commute because we are in packing mania for our trip down to VA/MD. Sometimes I get tired of being crammed into the sardine can that is the 6pm train, so I imagine an empty subway car filled with bright sunlight. I can feel myself immediately begin to breathe a little deeper and slower. Sometimes I slowly repopulate the car in my imagination before I come back to reality because it can be overwhelming to reach that calm space only to open my eyes to people standing inches from my face. Now for short form:

doors open, people
pile in and disappear
as i close my eyes

picture: Duisburg Hauptbahnhof (central station), western Germany, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, December 21, 2015


fresh direct

After spending the majority of the day taking care of pre-holiday tasks, I readied myself for work and left with what I thought was more than enough time to get to my 5pm client. Anyone who has ridden the NYC subway system knows where this story is headed. Flash forward 25 minutes, and I'm still standing on the same damn train platform where exactly 1 train had stopped. A train which I decided not to take because it would have involved two switches, thus making it too much of a hassle (famous last thoughts). I decided to wait for the correct train, but it was a gamble I knew I'd lost when I heard the announcement that service into Manhattan had been temporarily suspended. Good times. Or rather, no time because I used up my entire buffer reading my book and listening to the rumble of trains headed to other stations in the distance. It's so hard to decide when to ditch a particular train. It's like waiting for the damn bus: you never know when it might show up, so you keep waiting because you've already invested such and such amount of time and how much would it suck if it came right after you gave up?? As I ran (literally) to the 2/3 station up the avenue, I imagined the B train arriving down below. These are not helpful thoughts. Thankfully, they didn't stick around very long because at a certain point you just have to choose your choice. So I hauled ass to the other station and settled in for another wait, happy to have brought a book good enough to distract me from my watch ("Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave"). The trains cooperated for the rest of the trip and after a leisurely jog (yes, I'm that dummy running down the sidewalk in work clothes with a book in their hand), I managed to beat my client to the session by about 3 minutes (his usual amount of lateness). And now in short form:

feet pounding the street
dodging strollers and pigeons
hurry up and wait


went from the sedate
state of baking cookies to
rushing and cursing

(there's something here with a sugar rush and rushing to the train but I don't have the brain power to put it together)

picture: out of service delivery truck on the side of the road, near Hartland, VT, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb

Sunday, December 20, 2015

socially dehydrated

he hates this

The hangover continues. You think I mean alcohol, but I'm actually referring to the sugar and lack of sleep situation that feels remarkably similar to having cozied up to one too many drinks. The physical toll combined with too much social time for this introvert has resulted in some serious crabbiness. Granted, we did get to spend the afternoon/evening with one of my favorite people (pictured above). Here's a 17 syllable description of him that only scrapes the surface of his greatness:

quick to laugh, slow to
leave, generous with hugs and
he washes dishes

picture: Chris standing outside ample hills ice cream giving me the "i'm not happy with this picture taking, but I'm too nice to frown at you" face, August 2015, film, Canon Tlb 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

running on empty


And the answer is no, I cannot stay up too late drinking a whopping 2 beers (one which was 10% abv) and then wake up 7 hours later to run 10.5 miles after taking the dog to the park for nearly 2 hours and still consider myself a functioning human being after 4pm. The sun is down, my contacts are like little patches of concrete, and my head feels foggy. But we have fun on our to do list (cookie decorating party, so I have to get this haiku out the door and figure out how to prop my eyelids open long enough for more social encounters.

cotton in my head,
ice cream in my belly, and
too far from my bed

sophisticated business, isn't it? let's try again...

blustery time spent
running on empty with dreams
of warm grassy naps.

picture: a friend's parents' dog (whose name escapes me), Hartland, VT, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 
additional fun fact: there's a worn spot in the wood from the dog's head resting there for years 

Friday, December 18, 2015

drink away the awkward

another dunkel

Today's very short post is an homage to the office holiday party. It was actually better than I expected, but taxing nonetheless. I had the pleasure of meeting up with a work friend beforehand and here's a haiku about the segue between the two activities:

tater tots and beer
waiting for them to appear
small talk forever

picture: drinks at the Meierei Brewery in Potsdam, Germany, September 2011, film, Canon Tlb

Thursday, December 17, 2015


fat cat in a little sink

There a lot of things that evoke homicidal urges, albeit fewer now that I don't work in food service, which is frankly TOO much interaction with the underbelly of humanity to maintain equanimity off the clock. One thing that really sets off the boil is the @!$%^$ cat screeching at 2am, or 4am, or 1am, or any am except the am at which we are meant to be done sleeping. You see, she takes our middle of the night bathroom breaks as a cue to begin Operation Breakfast. It used to be the signal for her "midnight" snack, which we managed to eradicate about two months ago. What does the operation entail? She goes into the bathroom and howls at the top of her little lungs. For extra acoustic fervor, she will get into the tub where it echoes off the porcelain. Crafty little shit. Sometimes a harshly toned "HEY" is enough to settle the issue with short-lived results. But I finally figured out a solution that makes her go silent after about three minutes, and you will find it in the last line of today's first haiku.

howling falsetto
rings in my ears until I
shut the bathroom door


her belly sways as
she scurries to the window
to binge and purge plants

you see this food?  give it to me.

top picture: the kitchen sink of our apartment in Atlanta (pre-dog), August 2008, digital 
bottom picture: same apartment, demanding food, May 2008, digital 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


the other golden arch

It's pretty tempting to skip out on this tonight. My day ballooned into something I wasn't expecting, and I managed to pick up some sniffly, sneezy something or other that is making me cranky because I take irrational pride in never getting sick. Possible Lesson: pride comes with a price. Actual lesson: wash your hands more, dummy. So here's my half-hearted (mouth-breathing) attempt at writing a haikus today because when you want to do a thing, you have to keep the long game in mind even when the short game is messy. Funny that I can't seem to write a short sentence as I introduce 17 syllable poems. My syntax is as runny as my nose!  

sneezing and hungry
on the train, can't find the words
is it bedtime yet?


it's more work to get
from here to there, but it beats
letting yourself down

picture: Bixby Bridge a little before sunset, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015



This evening I listened to Mary Oliver's interview from the On Being podcast while I made a batch of my breakfast "bread" (a.k.a. almond honey cake/bread thing that is hard to classify but is amazing with coffee). What an incredible person she is. I've started about 5 sentences and trashed them all because I can't capture the way the podcast made me feel. The closest I can get is that feeling I associate with the resolving note of a song, the tonic or "home note," as it's often referred to. It's the one that feels round and whole and like you've finally collapsed into your chair after an exhausting run up and down the stairs. She made so many seemingly simple but incredibly powerful observations. Knowing very little about her other than the weight of her name, I'm excited to learn that the natural world plays such a major role in Oliver's work. A quick google search reveals that me not knowing about her naturalism is sort of like not knowing that Oprah had a talk show. Oh well, at least I'm here now. And here are today's not-very-related haikus about running on a day when it feels harder than I want it to:

I imagine each
person having their best run
to get through my own


the cascade of leaves
glinted in the sun as I
hoped for it to end*

*more about this conflict in a future post

picture: a rangy tree at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, May 2012 (?), film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, December 14, 2015

look up

sea of blue bells

The woods are kind of like a stereogram (think: magic eye); if you let your eyes rest, you start to realize you're surrounded by movement. Cheesy, but so true. This morning on my walk through Prospect Park I stopped along a wooded path because I saw a chipmunk racing along the boulders to my left. Then I saw a second chipmunk. Then a cardinal. And a blue jay. And a chipmunk on the other side of me. And leaves fluttering to the ground. There was a sea of movement that I had almost walked through without even noticing because of whatever flim-flam was swirling around my head at the moment. I'm sure there were dozens of similar scenes that I missed on the walk, but I'm happy to have noticed this one.

this morning I stood
still while chipmunks scampered on
rocks, and the dog whined


walked home from the train
to the sound of plinking rain.
wet feet, peaceful mind

picture: the bluebelle field at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, May 2012, film, Canon Tlb 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

what's your jam?

the power couple

Not a single day goes by without some sort of music, whether it's coming from my own hands or filtered through my music box (otherwise known as an ipod because I still haven't put music on my phone). Supposably*, there are people out there who just don't care for music, much like there are people who don't like chocolate (sorry friend I know who doesn't like chocolate - if you ever get around to reading this you will find out that I still think you're a weirdo). I'm not sure what I would do without either, but especially music because I use it in so many ways. There's wallowing, cheering up, slowing down, speeding up, connecting with others, getting away from others, concentrating, distraction, feeling creative, and stepping outside the uptight box I live in, which can sometimes creep back into the making of music and really ruin what should be a good time.

In old-time music, musicians gather in what are called "jams," which result in music that is of the moment. There is no sheet music and there's no one way to play a song. There are agreed upon melodies and basic structures/conventions to be followed, otherwise it would be chaos, but for the most part, it is a collective creation that comes out of whoever is in the jam at any given moment. It's incredible, and I had no idea it existed before attending the Swannanoa Gathering, an old time music camp near Asheville, NC. It's also my personal kryptonite because everyone has a role and unless the jam is large, it is hard to hide. My ear isn't sophisticated enough to pick up a tune I don't know right away, whether it's the melody or the chord changes, and there will always be tunes I don't know. I'm working on it, although I'm still too chicken to work on it with other people. For now, I'll leave you with some old-time pictures and a few haikus (2 old-time specific and 1 universal):

fiddle bows, tapping
toes, banjos running away,
searching for the groove.


circle round, sit tight
banjo on the left, guitar
to the right. now jam.


whatever you want
to feel, you just have to choose
the tune for the mood

looking for the groove
example of a small jam, taken at Clifftop, a music festival in West Virginia, July 2015, film, Canon Tlb

another jam circle in the background, taken at Swannanoa, July 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

the buck stops here
a friend's cd release party at Clifftop, West Virginia, July 2015, film, Canon Tlb 

*supposably = not a typo. inside joke for whoever gets it!

top picture: two Australian friends I met at Swannanoa playing tunes on the steps of Warren Wilson College, July 2015, film, Canon Tlb 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

cup or cone?


Every weekend we do a long run. This usually happens on Saturdays and is sometimes part of a greater training plan and sometimes it's just a reason to feel accomplished. If there's no required distance, we shoot for an 8 mile loop through Prospect Park. Then we run through a host of Saturday errands (e.g., compost drop off, dealing with library books, getting odds and ends at the grocery store, etc.). In the past couple of months, I have added "get ice cream at Ample Hills" to that list because the traditionally wired part of my brain says, "run more = eat food you normally avoid." The more open-minded, less fatphobic part of my brain knows that if I want ice cream, I can eat ice cream whenever the hell I want. There are other reasons I tend to avoid it, namely the craptastic way I feel afterwards, but it would be dishonest to omit the calorie-driven nonsense. Anyway, here's today's bite-sized version:

sugar headache comes
on quick, but it's worth every
last bite of goodness

the happy claw

top picture: an old Breyer's Ice Cream sign near California, MD, June 2011, film, Canon Tlb 
bottom picture: Charrow at an ice cream pit stop during a bike ride, Laurentians, Canada, July 2010, film, Canon Tlb

Friday, December 11, 2015

just keep swimming


About halfway through my first year of graduate school, I started swimming at the pool on campus. I can't even remember why it occurred to me, but it was a great decision. Historically, I've had a wishy washy relationship with swimming. Being in the water is great, but the before and after are so harsh. I also used to consider swimming something to do when I can't run because of an injury. Swimming instead of running is like eating baked lays when you want smothered nachos. Same food group, but oh so unsatisfying. OR so I thought. I now view it as a meditative experience because it's not a replacement for something that involves sweating and outdoor scenery. It's become a separate entity in which I get to observe so many little oddities while feeling the freedom of weightlessness and maybe burning a few calories, although that's debatable because I do not swim with vigor. I'm too busy watching the bubbles cast by other people's movements or zoning out to the black line on the bottom of the lane or tuning into the way I can feel the water wrap around my feet as I kick. It helps that the Brooklyn College pool has a wide bank of windows that lets in natural light and incredibly high ceilings. When I walk through the door from the lockerroom to the deck, I can feel the expansiveness of the room. Sometimes I can't settle in and my mind races through whatever challenge I'm having that day, but for the most part, those 25-30 minutes are spent criss-crossing between the present and a state of contemplative ease. And now in short form:

languid strokes through cold
water as bubbles rise up
and my goggles leak

picture taken at a state park on a drive from MA to NY, 2010, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb (scanned from a contact sheet before I started scanning straight from the negatives) 

Thursday, December 10, 2015


danish magic

How do people do this every day? Clearly I need to start earlier, so here comes a tired, abridged version of what I had in mind. We became domestic partners today. That's right. We are now the proud owners of a $35 blue and white certificate with our names (Partner 1 & Partner 2) that says we're entitled to health insurance and a host of other benefits. Welcome to a world of privilege for people in serious relationships! Never mind that we've been together for over 9 years prior to jumping through this rusty hoop in order to get health insurance. I have a complicated relationship with the institution of marriage, some of which I know is an irrational spite for authority and a holdover from the days before gay marriage became legally recognized. BUT forgive me, oh married friends, but I just don't get it. I know this may offend some of you (if you've managed to find your way back here), and I'm sorry. I don't have the energy to parse out the arguments, so instead I leave you with this party pooper of a haiku:

up the marble stairs
through the double doors to sign here
now what's for dinner?

picture: incredible brunch at Broder Cafe, September 2011, Portland, OR, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

have you seen my delorean?

torpedo on wheels

Some days I get home from work (mental health profession), and all I can think about are the various ways I could have made a session better. I'm sugarcoating it - change that to "should have made a session better, but failed as usual" and that's closer to the real way I speak to myself. Ah yes, the healing powers of language. Sometimes I feel lost and inadequate, and I can't stop the merry go round of shoulds and didn'ts. Here's what it's like trying to read a book on the subway after having a particularly challenging session:

over and over
I read the same lines, hoping
to go back in time

picture: a Citroen, taken near Hackescher Mrkt, Berlin, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

find a new trail


I spent nine months in an emotionally abusive supervision experience during my counseling internship. We had weekly meetings on Tuesdays. The minute I escaped from this person's arctic glare, I reclaimed Tuesday as a day of adventure, enjoyment, and rest. Sometimes my partner and I find a way to get out of the city to hike for hours on end (sadly this often involves sitting in traffic for hours on end). Sometimes it's a ho-hum day of errands, dog walking, and exercise. Sometimes we see a movie at the theater that has Tuesday discounts. Whatever happens, my goal is to get as far away from how my Tuesdays used to be.

How is hiking "rest" you ask? Because it lets my mind wander while also helping me stay exactly where I am: putting one foot in front of the other in order to connect with something beyond the myopia of every day problems. And now today's haiku, with options:

crunch of leaves echoed
as we crossed a muddy patch. 
hear the woodpecker? 

alternate ending: where's that damn dog now? 

top picture: hiking on the Appalachian Trail in early October, near Kent, CT, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

bottom picture: a rare moment of stillness from our hike today on the Appalachian Trail, near Salisbury, CT, iPhone

Monday, December 7, 2015


in a movie

Sometimes you have to give up on the complicated post and go with the short one about the process. Here's a haiku about writing haikus on my subway commute: 

counting syllables* 
jostled by zombies on phones 
did i miss my stop? 

*this happens with my fingers while mouthing the words, so it's hard to say what people think I'm doing. lucky for me, they're usually too distracted by the glow of their devices or [insert crazy shit that happens on the NYC subway] to bother with something as bland as counting with your hands. 

(picture taken during a birthday voyage on the East River Ferry, August 2012, film, Agfa Optima rangefinder camera)

Sunday, December 6, 2015


now you see me...

I've spent a lot of energy trying to blend in over the years. I think that's part of what makes this blog such a fraught space: there's no other voice to pattern myself after or to drown me out. Hence my long-standing pattern of emerging and retreating, which happens both here and in every day relationships. We all do it to some extent. Standing out can feel dangerous. Hell, sometimes it IS dangerous, especially when you toe the gender line in a world where people lash out at individuals that don't fit neatly into socially constructed boxes. But most of the time, I am not in that kind of danger. I simply have trouble being seen, even in what some would consider the safest of environments. And now for the short version(s) of what goes on behind the scenes:

straighten your dunce cap
so when thoughts bubble you can
put a lid on them


laugh when they laugh and
follow the leader so well
no one knows you're there


turn questions around
laugh, scoff, dodge, retreat into
your silent corner

And here's a gratuitous mountain picture to return us all to the peaceful place (assuming you like mountains).

hazy day

both pictures: hiking somewhere in the woods near Berryville, VA, 2011, cross-processed slide film 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

imaginary friends


At the beginning of August, I had an opportunity to get some rest and hold down the animal fort while my partner went to Maine with friends OR I could rearrange some clients, schedule a last minute cat sitter, and drive 10 hours alone with the dog after having just come home from a 12 hour drive from West Virginia. Judging from the opening picture, you can guess which choice I made. It was one of the longest drives I've ever made, which is saying a lot. It ended with Waze telling me I was at my destination when in fact I was across a small channel of water from my destination. This minor detailed added 25 minutes of windy roads because nothing in Maine comes easy. Add fog, an unmarked fork in the driveway that no one warned me about, and not having eaten dinner, and you have one very cranky Me on your hands. I will admit to making the trip considerably longer because of my driving mania, which manifests in taking small roads off the highway (sometimes the occasional fire road that dead ends into a pond) and stopping for pictures, such as this:

just needs some paint 
The manic journey was well worth it because I ended up having an incredible few days in Maine with Charrow, our friends and their almost 3-year-old. We went berry picking, currant picking, river swimming. hiking, running, and on our last night we saw 3 shooting stars in the span of 5 minutes. One of our hikes was on a semi-maintained trail that runs along the Machias River:

machias river

We originally started that day by driving 2 hours south to Acadia National Park, but we got about 10 minutes up our first trail and felt smothered by the hordes of people. I will say this, we gave up quickly, which allowed us to drive 2 hours back to the wilds of Machias and still have plenty of time for a 5 mile hike on the Machias River Heritage Trail during which we saw a total of 0 people until we reached the major connecting trail. It should have been an incredibly relaxing hike, but I kept seeing little piles of smushed berries that I was convinced were bear droppings. I've never seen a bear and the prospect of seeing one with our decidedly idiotic prey-driven dog scared the crap out of me. He had proved his lunacy the day before by trying to attack a porcupine (boy was that a messy and expensive mistake that I may make into its own post). We had no way of knowing what the dog would do should we stumble upon a bear or vice versa. Charrow scorned my paranoia, but we kept seeing the piles every 5 minutes and they were right in the middle of the damn trail. After awhile, she caught the fear, and we decided to sing ridiculous songs to supposedly scare away the phantom bears. We started with I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) by the Proclaimers, but that gets old really fast, so we moved on to the very catchy and adaptable call and answer Jewish bible song called Three Wandering Brothers (the internet wants me to call it Three Wandering Jews, but Charrow disagrees). I wish I could remember some of our made up verses, but they're long gone, much like the bears we never saw. I think Red picked up on the anxiety...


We finally turned off the densely wooded trail and onto a main thoroughfare, complete with a man driving a four wheeler. It wasn't technically any safer should we happen upon a bear, but there's nothing like logic to create a false sense of security. And now for the short version of that story:

lazy river hike
fresh berry scat underfoot
sing sing sing! now run

All pictures taken near Machias, ME with film (Portra 160)

Friday, December 4, 2015

impossible anniversary

A year ago today, Claudia Emerson passed away. I'm not sure how to write this, and I want it to be as incredible as she was, but I could work on this post for months and never get there. So I will settle for whatever comes out. She was a beloved college professor of mine who entered my life at a time when I needed her humor, her high standards, and her presence. She was the kind of person who asked "how are you?" and then waited for the real answer instead of walking past before you've finished saying "fine." We met for coffee several times after I graduated, and each time, she greeted me like a friend even though years had passed between visits. A few years ago we became Facebook friends, which created the illusion of closeness and made her passing all the more devastating. There are beautiful tributes written by people who are far more qualified. To save us all (you 3 people who read my dormant blog) from my sentimental ramblings, I will close with 3 haikus (that I also feel compelled to fuss with and am somewhat embarrassed to post, but this month-long exercise is about consistency, not quality).

structured and playful
wide smile generous with praise
billy goat at heart


I used to show up
at your door with no purpose
but to hear you laugh


workshops and first drafts
intrigue scrawled in the margins
don't you dare be late

today's picture is of the Bell Isle Pedestrian Bridge crossing the James River, taken before attending her memorial service on December 11, 2014, iPhone

Thursday, December 3, 2015

haiku with poo

come on come on come onthat way

The first night we had Red, I cried in despair because the dog was too strong, too wild on leash, too insane about the cats, and just too much of everything (including too cute to give back to the rescue). In many ways, it was the wrong decision to keep him. Neither cats nor dog have adjusted to each other, as evidenced by the daily occurrence of dog yodeling and cat hissing. Given Red's propensity for trying to eat small furry things, we continue to keep them segregated, which is a huge drag. BUT, in many ways, keeping this silly dog has been one of the best decisions ever. We have made friends we never would have stumbled across in our pre-dog lives. We spend more time outside than ever because of our sometimes overzealous goal to make the dog tired. I can't think of any other reason that I would be walking through Prospect Park at 7:30 on a Wednesday morning, and I'm grateful for the chance to connect with something outside of my monkey brain. When we go hiking, he tears through the woods like he's never seen a chipmunk in his life. When he gets tired, he stops underfoot on the trail and looks up at you like you're the one being an oaf. When you scratch a certain part of his neck, his lips draw back in the goofiest dog smile. He farts while we eat dinner and he gets hiccups when the braver of the two cats confronts him at the edge of his crate. And when I come home, boyfriend is always wagging his tail, albeit sometimes from the comfort of his napping spot because he sees me every day, does he really need to get UP to greet me? Surely we would have more money and get more sleep without a dog, especially one prone to accidents, but we would have a lot less silliness, connection, and unfettered play in our lives. I meant for the last line of today's haiku to be warm and fuzzy, but this is what happened instead:

steaming winter poop
muddy feet after spring storms
stop stealing my seat


top pictures: hiking in upstate New York late this summer, cross-processed slide film; 
bottom picture: hiking in Shenandoah National Park in June, film 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

bring me a shrubbery

lazy river

I've always loved being outdoors more than in, but I've developed a serious hiking bug over the last two years. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: daydreaming about hiking while running, cooking, commuting, breathing, etc.; reading books by hikers; reading books about hikers; irritability when too many weeks have passed without a hike; compulsive checking of my instagram feed, which I have flooded with outdoor enthusiasts; and trying to convince my partner that we should hike the entire Appalachian Trail (i.e., delusions of grandeur). Thankfully, both partner and dog are willing to humor my insatiable need to be outdoors (and to stop for pictures).

Today's accompanying haiku (hikeu?):

leaves brush my ankles
quads burn up the mountainside
full lungs quiet mind

(picture taken sometime this summer, Housatonic River, on the AT north of Kent, CT, film) 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

december to remember


Dear blog:

I think of you often, but when I sit down to write, the words seem trite. Would it be better if I composed in rhyme all the time? Doubtful. But I've decided we should get reacquainted for the month of December, so expect a slew of mediocre haikus, pictures of trees, and if I get really ambitious, there might even be a few semi-colons. To start things off, here's a haiku I composed while talking about haikus with an old friend:

dearest gingko tree
your yellow leaves cheer me but
damn your smelly fruit

the overthinker

(picture taken in 2008, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, digital)