Monday, April 18, 2016

foaming at the mouth

before the crowds

It's amazing how many emotions the same day can hold. This morning started with the joy of drinking good coffee (from here) while starting a new book and eating my favorite meal of the day. Fast forward an hour later, and I experienced murderous rage, contempt, and helplessness as some a-hole yelled at me after our dogs got into a scuffle. Good times. Yes, my dog was a jerk and did his unfortunate snarl, tumble, snarl louder routine during which the other dog yelped. It wasn't enjoyable to witness, but it was over in about 10 seconds, and I yelled my face off while zapping his e-collar to stop the encounter. Red came over to me while the guy marched forward with what I assume he intended to be an intimidating chest thrust and said, "that's the second time your dog has done that to my dog. you need to get control of your dog." To which I apologized and asked if his dog was okay in an attempt to diffuse the anger and address the important issue of whether there were any actual consequences from the interaction. He yelled some more stuff about control to which I gave the same response: sorry, is your dog OKAY? Rather than check his dog, the man proceeded to walk away while announcing that he was going to gut my dog if he tried to start anything again. I said, "That's not necessary" because I couldn't help myself, and it was nicer than telling him to go fuck himself. He whirled around and chest-thrusted towards me saying I don't know what because I stopped listening. I said, "look I know you're afraid,* but I just want to make sure your dog is okay." He finally stooped to inspect his dog which was thankfully unharmed. Then he stood up and said "I'm serious, I will gut your dog if that happens again" as he walked away for good.


I said a nice quiet "fuck you" as he walked away. I wish I had said something with a little more zing, but it probably would not have improved the situation. Best not to poke the lion.

Fast forward 8 hours and I'm walking home from the train with birds chirping, crabapple blossoms over my head, and weather warm enough for shorts (that I did not have on because I came from work).

And now for something a little shorter:

the last book I read**
made me want to run away
to where, I don't know

*I'm so glad the guy didn't react to that word because people don't generally liked to be told they're afraid even though that's most likely the emotion driving this guy's rage. Jackass probably didn't hear me right.

**The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - go read it now please. be prepared to cry and reflect.

picture: woman running with her dog along the Southbank Promenade by the Yarra River, Melbourne AUS, March 2016, film, Leica M6 (unintentionally blurry, but I kind of like it) 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

sonny days


Tis the season for quarterly reports at work, which is why this post will not be a continuation of our trip. It will instead be a brief whining interlude about being too tired to write. So brief that I am done right after this short version of laughing until I cried at my own terrible joke.

sometimes you just need
a good pun to get the tears
streaming down your cheeks

picture: Sonny, the whippet, warming up our clean towels at our friends' home in Melbourne, AUS, March 2016, film, Leica M6

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

planes for yonks

moreton bay figs

We spent the first 4 days of our trip in Melbourne, once we finally arrived. Our original nonstop flight from LAX to Melbourne was cancelled, so we got stuck on flights from LAX to Sydney then to Melbourne. But I'm getting ahead of myself because the plane to get to LAX was delayed by six hours (sensing a theme?). This had me freaking out about our LAX connection and getting stuck in LAX for an ungodly amount of time waiting for the next Qantas flight. Thankfully, we found out that the plane from JFK was the same plane all the way to Sydney. Once I had that information, I was able to lean in to the delay (literally, because I couldn't sit for very long at a time without my tailbone protesting). We actually found out about our flight from JFK before we left the house. Being the neurotic that I am, I couldn't handle sitting around for that long, especially because I had visions of the flight getting moved to a less delayed time, which would have been disastrous had we been sitting at home "relaxing." So we left only about 45 minutes later than we had originally planned. Yes, Charrow deserves a medal for putting up with my lunacy.

Clearly my soothsayer skills need some work because our flight was most definitely NOT moved up, and we spent far too long sitting around the international terminal at JFK. So long, in fact, that I forgot we were still in New York because of all the foreign languages being spoken. On the bright side, we bought our body weight in the healthiest airport food we could find because we got $20 vouchers (each!) from the airline for the delay. The first of a long line of failures in our ability to maintain a small footprint during our T-Rex sized air travel footprint. So much plastic. And that brings me to the end of my ability to think straight for the day. Installment 2 of 347 tomorrow. Here's the short version with Australian lingo picked up from our friends (or should I say mates?):

we waited for yonks*
nearly driving ourselves spare**
where are the hoppies***?

*yonks = ages
** drive X spare = drive X crazy (X being your pronoun of choice)
*** hoppies = kangaroos (an obvious one)

picture: Moreton Bay Fig trees at Princes Park, Melbourne, AUS, March 2016, film, Leica M6 (they look remarkably like magnolia trees in person) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

here we go again

We returned from New Zealand exactly three weeks ago today. Strange how it feels like so much longer, but when I look at the pictures (oh so many pictures), it feels like I could walk outside and hop into our Rustbucket to do it all over again. Except we don't own that Rustbucket, which is what Charrow aptly named the fifteen year old van we drove all over the south island of New Zealand. Anyway, I've had some trouble getting back here. At first it was the exhaustion of hiking somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 miles over the course of twelve days (the hiking didn't really start until we hit Tasmania) and the 24 hour trip home. Then I felt exhausted by work. Then I got better and better at being an internet zombie and simply giving in to the comfort of not showing up. Major advantages of not writing: more free time and less anxiety about flopping. But I've noticed that what I do with that free time verges on practicing for a zombie contest. Facebook, instagram, Facebook, email, Facebook, repeat. Searching for who knows what and getting very little return on the investment. I also noticed that the relief of not posting comes with a nagging sense of letting myself down. So here I am. Ready to flop and flail and feel like a dweeb in the name of creating art instead of molding away with my face glued to my phone. Prepare yourself for pictures, travel stories of varying degrees of interest and a neverending stream of bad haikus.

we suffered delays
welcomed hardships and scaled cliffs
fueled by sandwiches

picture: kid playing with the fountain wall at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, AUS, March 2016, film, Leica M6

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

into the hills we go

kamikaze playground

Last minute preparations got the better of me yesterday. Going crazy before the day of departure means we aren't rushed, which is great, but I'm totally spent from not sleeping very well for the last week while also going nonstop. So I will leave you with my final haiku for awhile.

cats lounging in sun
bags piled high by the front door
ready for a nap

picture: a different view of the playground plane in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Success! We have managed to trim corners and implement the ridiculous strategy of wearing extra layers to the airport, thus paring our pack weights to 1-1.5 pounds below the requirement. I left a buffer in case the luggage scale I bought isn't accurate. We are also stuffing underwear in our coat pockets, which sounds ridiculous, but I don't care. I'm not above such trickery if it keeps me from having to stand around a baggage carousel stressing out about what time the rental car place closes. I have a picture of the final gear, but I'm saving it for a packing post, which will happen we return unless by some miracle I am more prepared than I think Tuesday morning (fat chance). It's likely to bore the pants off most of you, but fellow packing crazies might find it useful. If all of my efforts are for naught and we get foiled in some other way (full overhead bins, a cranky airline agent who disagrees with my interpretation of top/bottom of the bag, etc.), I'm sure you will hear about it! For now, I leave you with this:

when you travel, there
should be no wrong or right way,
only this or that

picture: wet, moss-covered boulder near the top of Pico de Papagaio, Ilha Grande, Brazil, September 2012, digital 

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Well the final tornado has begun. We spent this afternoon packing our bags, editing, then repacking, and repeat. At one point, we layed down on the living floor to see if 1 sleeping bag would unzip enough to cover both of us (answer: yes), and that silly dog wormed his way in between us the second we had the bag over our bodies. End result: two adults crammed together with a giant dog butt sticking out of the top of the bag. We're still not down to the ideal combination of necessary gear that keeps us within the carry-on weight limit (15 pounds) and the annoyingly small dimensions (22"x14"x9"). Yes, we are attempting to go to the other side of the world for 3 weeks with one 32L backpack apiece and our "personal item" - aka a tote bag of food to avoid eating airline and airport "food" and my camera bag. I think we can do it! But we might not look or smell very pretty in the process. Hobocamp here we come. In the meantime, here's today's other exercise:

we might fail as snails
but we're getting pretty close
who needs extra socks?

picture: giant snail on the porch of our Airbnb house in Ilha Grande, Brazil, September 2012, digital 

Friday, February 26, 2016


never enough plants

It's late, and I'm distracted by 703 things, so here's a haiku about going out to dinner with Charrow's parents at an upscale Indian restaurant in the east 50's with glacial table service:

Minutes ticked by while
Volume rose and Patience ran
away with the Spoon.

picture: collection of seedlings and other plants seen while visiting a friend's parents' in Vermont (selected because I'm ready for some GREEN around here), June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

Thursday, February 25, 2016


view from the floor

Well, I finally have all of our sleeping arrangements settled for the trip. There are 15 nights to cover because we are spending 4 days with friends in Melbourne, and we will be on a plane across two calendar nights, which boggles the mind. There are many ways to go about vacation planning, and I chose a medium level of insanity when it came to accommodations, with a few days of flexibility thrown in. To be honest, the "flexible" days are the ones that make me insane. I have nightmares about driving around the bush of New Zealand trying to find a freedom camping site that isn't full on the two nights that I haven't booked something in a holiday park (similar to the American KOA campgrounds with regard to "amenities," and ubiquity, and price, from what I can tell). There are two more days of work that bookend a weekend of packing, cleaning for our houseguest, and visiting with a close friend whose child delivery we are going to miss. Too much! and we have yet to begin. So why don't I get to the end and share today's haiku about that silly mutt:

wap-wap-wap! go his
ears every morning as he
stretches out of bed

picture: that silly dog while camera testing at low light with the camera sitting on the floor to avoid handshake, film, Leica M6 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016



I'm nearly to the end of a book entitled The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. It chronicles his expedition through a remote region of the Himalayas (maybe that's redundant?) with a fellow scientist. He also goes into detail about his concurrent spiritual/meditative journey. Highly recommended for anyone interested in eastern religions, presence, and nature. I've gotten a little bogged down in some of the history (true confessions: I've skipped about three pages because I just couldn't handle the dry facts and the change in pace). Right now I'm reading about his descent back to civilization, which isn't going very well. Mood swings and culture shock that have shaken the equanimity he built during the expedition's stay at a remote monastery village high in the mountains. There's a sense of futility that I can relate to. The throw your hands in the air why bother kind where you try to so hard to build a skill (like patience), and then when the shit hits the fan, you react in the knee-jerk way you always have. It makes you question the point of trying, but maybe the explosions get a little smaller or they take more kindling to provoke. I'm sure there's some incremental change that is just too hard to sense when you're in the throes of reacting while simultaneously feeling like a failure. The more I learn about therapy (both giving and receiving), the more I realize that change happens in the increments. You can't hold out for some sudden transformation because it doesn't work that way. Movement happens when you keep showing up in whatever little way you can manage. Sometimes I use the analogy of filling a sink: it will happen even if you're just adding one drop at a time. Granted, you have to make sure the plug fits, but that's a whole other metaphor. And now for the other exercise of the day:

i stood in the rain
listening to the chorus
of puddles filling


that burned bridge may not
be the only way to cross;
build another one

picture: a bridge in Portland, OR (sorry, can't remember which one), October 2011, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

don't talk amongst yourselves

For part of my patchwork trip home from NC last week, I took a train from DC to Penn Station. I love riding the train, and I miss it now that we have a dog because we tend to drive down for family visits. The train has a water fountain (albeit nearly impossible to use and right above an electrical outlet which makes NO sense). I get to stand up and walk around whenever I want. The windows are huge. There's no brake-happy lurching that you find on a bus. I don't have to pay attention to traffic. Basically, it's amazing, but only in the Quiet Car. The rest of the train is an annoying din of voices made even more intolerable by the people on their cellphones. One of my least favorite conversations to listen to is the twenty-something opposite sex pair who clearly don't know each other, but are working their way through the usual questions with all the posturing and giggling you can imagine. Vomit. Anyway, I made the customary long walk to the front of the train to score a quiet car seat. As I settled into the luggage area behind my seat, care of a sore tailbone that caused me to stand for over half of the three hour ride, a man sat down in the seat across from me and said "Ahhh, salvation" in reference to the silence. Amen to that, brother. And now I leave you with 17 syllables and some silence of your own:

lately my mind goes
blank when i get to this point
but now it's over

picture: Amtrak train waiting on the opposite side of the platform, Union Station, Washington, D.C., February 2016, film, Leica M6

Monday, February 22, 2016


the trumpeter

You know it's February when 35 degree mornings feel warm. It was hard to leave the park with the comfortable temperatures and the sun streaming through the trees, but I had to get cracking on our trip. Spent the first three quarters of today sifting through hiking options, checking mileage between points to minimize driving times with my sad rear end, and looking for "holiday parks" as the kiwis call them. Then I went in to work for my evening client (lest you think I just sit around). I'm concerned about our ability to find internet, which means my natural tendency to over-plan has kicked into hyperdrive. We do have the benefit of only traveling to english speaking countries, so I get the privilege of not having to worry about communicating should we need help finding something (hopefully). But that might be mitigated by the fact that half the places we're headed are pretty unpopulated. Well, except for the tourists and everybody knows tourists don't know where they're going. Jokes. I hope we know! In the interest of sleep and sanity (yours and mine), I'm heading for the haiku now:

birds trilled as i ground
coffee and started making
lists on top of lists

picture: a friend's parents' bird. I believe her name is Molly and she makes the most god awful trumpeting sound when anyone leaves the room. Every. Single. Time., Bluemont, VA, August 2009, digital 

Sunday, February 21, 2016


My dad's side of the family consists of a lot of talkers, which is ironic given the austerity with which he communicates (although there is a common goof streak between brothers). Maybe he gave up trying with a house full of gabbers? While I was in NC last week, I saw two uncles that I haven't seen in about ten years and they spoke in equal volume, but very different content. One could talk of nothing but medical problems and ways in which the world is out to get him. The other (pictured), touched on a broad range of topics from pedophiles in the Catholic church to stacking firewood for his grouchy mother-in-law to the benefits of Obama (who knew). Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if my family hadn't left the rural part of central NC where I was born. Would I have found my way to the same interests? or would I spend my time griping about the price of pork boston butts at the Food Lion while I tamp down Donald Trump signs in my front yard?

Anyway, I realized while I was down there just how much time my brother and I used to spend outdoors. I thought my love for nature was somewhat recent (say the last 10 years or so), but the more I think about it, the more I can see that it's been there all along. Catching lightning bugs at dusk. Wandering down to the creek behind my grandmother's house. Sneaking off to the park when we were supposed to stay put until our mom got home. Fishing for hours on end at our aunt's lake house. Getting eaten alive by mosquitoes at our other aunt's house because we refused to come inside until the last possible minute. Playing catch in the back yard until it got so dark someone would get hit by the ball (usually me). There's no point to this list except to say that I cannot wait until the weather warms up so I can while away as much time as possible outside with comfortable digits. In the meantime, we leave for the other side of the equator in 8 days, where we will hopefully get more than our fill of the great outdoors. This incohesive post was brought to you by feeling distracted by the amount of planning still left despite the ridiculous amount I've already done! Now for the haiku:

i prefer the sound
of rustling leaves over the
chatter in my head

picture: my dad's second oldest brother who lives in the mountains of NC, February 2016, film, Leica M6

Saturday, February 20, 2016

through the middle

Note to self: always write before entertaining guests for dinner. My brain is fried from making conversation for the last three hours, which is hard work for this particular introvert no matter the quality of the company. I'm too stubborn to indulge the desire to skip this, but I also don't have much to give, so here's my stab at today's exercise (about exercise):

i've circled this park
for eight years, but it's taken
pain to explore it

picture: the canal in the southern part of the Prospect Park on my "exercise" walk today, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5

Friday, February 19, 2016

pool hair

sleepy dog

Going to get straight to the point on this sleepy Friday evening. Plenty to say, but little energy left for crafting complete sentences. Better to stick with syllables, although they also might not make that much sense!

chlorine mingles with
wafts of cat food while the dog
snores amongst blankets

picture: that silly dog taken while testing out the new camera last week, film, Leica M6

Thursday, February 18, 2016


home for shadow puppets

Monday night, I drove my dad's car up-town (as it's called when you drive from my grandmother's rural address into the small town of Oxford, NC) to the grocery store. I tried to turn the volume up on the radio, but I accidentally turned the station knob instead. What did I stumble upon? A Phil Collins live question and answer radio hour. Some of you may already be aware of my irrational love for Phil Collins (not so much his disney stuff, but I can still muster some appreciation for it). Nary a big-box grocery trip goes by that I don't hear him and stop in my tracks to give a quick smile to the radio gods. To hear him after living in a weird, fucked up southern time warp for the previous 24 hours was like rereading an email from a friend you miss. I know, it's ridiculous, but it was like the universe said, "go back to the happy place." And then. THEN. The show went into a musical interlude between callers, and the song they played? "Take Me Home." Couldn't have said it better myself, Phil. And now, I take you to this evening's angsty haiku:

windshield wipers on
low, ice lining the shoulders
my mind stuck in park

picture: shadow at the brooklyn botanic garden, NY, June 2012, film, Canon Tlb 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

start where you are

one of my favorite trees

Well, it finally happened. I missed a day. No, two days. I forgot that it's Wednesday! My grandfather's funeral was Monday, which was exhausting in ways I can't even explain to you because I'm not willing to bare THAT much of myself to the internet. Then I had to move my trip home from Monday night to Tuesday in a very convoluted fashion, so I couldn't bring myself to write anything last night after a day of riding in cars, trains, and more trains. I'm close to skipping tonight as well, but this is how the waterfall of stopping begins. So I'm here to write this cryptic post as a space filler until I can muster a more involved one about the experience. In the meantime, here's a haiku loosely inspired by having to sit through a southern baptist funeral service:

the lord giveth me
a headache, a sore butt, and
a commute from hell*

*more on this later. I'm referring to the trip home yesterday and not my commute today, although that, too, was convoluted and sardine-like

picture: one of my favorite trees in the park taken right when my light meter started to go haywire and I accidentally pushed the shutter, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, February 2016, film, Leica M6 

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Nothing like hanging out at JFK on a bright, frigid Sunday for HOURS. My 12:30 flight to NC is delayed until 4:30, so I am trying to make do with podcasts, people watching and book reading (and trying not to send too many whiny texts). Seems like a good time to listen to the TED radio hour episode entitled "to endure." Not going to spend anymore patience typing on a tiny screen, but it seemed wise to use this "extra" time to check this box for the day. Now for the short form about airport observations:

two sparrows hopping
along collecting carpet
snacks in the warm sun


Glittered bags scattered
Across three chairs as she squawks*
And I seethe alone

*This woman engaged in all the behaviors I cannot stand. Spreading her shit everywhere, listening to music without headphones, yelling into her speaker phone, and smacking her food. Needless to say I moved seats as fast as I could. No point in expecting her to change.

Picture: taken during our insanely cold walk this morning (3 degrees), prospect park, brooklyn, NY, iPhone

Saturday, February 13, 2016

verdict is in

afternoon light

I finally managed to scan and upload some pictures from the first two rolls of film from the Leica. I'm really happy with the sharpness and the color relative to my Canon Tlb. Definitely need to work on framing (it's hard to see the frame lines in the viewfinder especially with glasses). Turns out I loaded the film properly! and I have confirmation of the difference film quality can make. 1 roll is an el cheapo Fuji (from where, I have no idea. maybe a gift?) and the other roll is Kodak Ektar 100, one of my favorite films because of the color saturation. Anyway, I don't have time to geek out more (lucky for you) because I am heading to NC tomorrow for my grandfather's funeral. No condolences required; he was not a nice person. But funerals are not really for the dead; they are for the living, and I'm going to support my father and my grandmother (although there are complications in that relationship too, but potentially salvageable). For now, I leave you with a few more nonsense pictures and 17 nonsense syllables. For even more test shots of something besides the dog, go here.

every night around
the same time, a baby cries;
me too, kid, me too.

artist at work
(charrow painting at her standing desk)

treat me
(Red hoping for a special treat from the pet store)

(Red running like a maniac from the common "backyard" behind our building)

top picture: Red soaking up our afternoon sunlight, which he follows around the room like a cat 
all pictures: film, Leica M6

Friday, February 12, 2016

capital gains

beware of fronds

I can see how people might sit around watching TV all night after they've come home from work. We watch shows during dinner, and it takes some serious effort to hit that pause button (because it's always on a computer) to come here and write whatever nonsense I have for the day. Then I move on to practicing my banjo in an attempt to play at least 5 minutes a day. How is it that 5 minutes feels hard most days?? Meanwhile, I can check gmail, facebook, and instagram incessantly with no feelings of sacrifice or effort, but the gains are almost always inferior to what I get from making music or from laughing over whatever silly joke I put into haiku (that might not actually translate, but I get to laugh at it anyway). The path of least resistance is so often the path of least reward, but we are wired for comfort. And on that note, I shall move on to the short version so I can get a little bit closer to the comfort of my bed:

everything takes more
time when you can't budget for
running to catch up

(because my usual emergency strategy for not being late is to be the idiot running down the street in business casual clothes)

picture: some sort of palm (?) that I love because it's so pointy, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, NY, June 2012, film, Canon Tlb 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

hurry up and wait

Good grief it is effing frigid outside. Between that and the news of my grandfather's impending death, today has been a brain scramble. Charrow and I said fuck it, and went out for fancy cheeseburgers (at moderately affordable happy hour prices) and beer (well I ordered the beer and charrow sipped at it because she doesn't really like beer). Sometimes you just have to throw yourself off the wagon to feel the bumps. And now I'm ready for bed. Here's the short version:

they say you will feel
warmer if you don't tense up
what a bunch of crap*


when life hands you crap
ball it up and throw that shit
right into life's face

*sometimes this works, but not when there's a wind chill of 6 degrees (F).

picture: part of a manhole cover, Brooklyn, NY, Tuesday (the day of never-ending errands), iPhone 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

a tired snob


I had interesting things to say related to podcasts and contrasting themes, but my contacts are like little cinderblocks in my eyeballs, and I have to get up early again tomorrow morning. So the cohesive thoughts will have to wait. In the meantime, here's today's exercise about part of my morning routine:

the pacing cat shrieks
as the brewing coffee steams*
never enough time

*V60, not a drip machine, and yes, I'm snobby enough to specify

picture: waiting for brunch outside Cafe Broder in Portland, OR, October, 2011, cross-processed film, Canon tlb

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


hard to look away

So much walking today! I finally gave in and listened to a podcast while walking during my afternoon errands, which came to a total of about an hour divided into 20 minute chunks. I'm all for being present and listening to the sounds around me, but I was aggravated by the slowness of it all (each of those 20 minutes could have been about 3 minutes on a bike), so I listened to the Ted Radio Hour podcast (highly recommend).

Earlier in the day, I went for a walk in the park because Tuesdays are usually running days, and it makes me feel a little more sane to keep some semblance of that routine. In a more isolated section of the walk, I crossed paths with someone who said hello, so I returned the greeting and went about my way. A few seconds later, he comes running up next to me and starts asking me how many laps I do when I walk and other exercise related questions. He then proceeded to walk my direction instead of the way he was going, which sent up red flags (note: this story has a neutral ending, so don't brace yourself for something traumatic). I hate that I felt threatened, but as a small-framed, female bodied individual, there's just no way around feeling physically unsafe around men of any size. When we reached my turn off, I gave the usual "okay, great, have a nice walk, I'm going this way" and he made as if to walk his own direction. Then he came jogging back and asked if he could walk with me. I should have said no, but in the moment it felt too harsh even though it's exactly what I wanted. I figured okay, fine, maybe he'll walk like 5 minutes and turn back. No, boyfriend walked with me for 20 more minutes. Basically, all the way to the entrance of the park where I was prepared for a direct "No" if he asked to continue with me. About 10 minutes into the experience, I texted charrow to tell her I had started walking with some random dude just so she would know in case something crazy happened. A dramatic gesture, but it was comforting nonetheless.

Am I seriously paranoid? Maybe I watch too many crime shows, but all I could think was this guy could totally turn on me in the middle of a relatively empty park and there's no way I can outrun or overpower him. He creeped on me a bit at first (asking personal questions about who I'm dating), which did not help my dark imagination. But mostly he was just a curious, naive, twenty-something dude-bro. When I told him that I'm a therapist, he launched into his own experience with depression and asked me what I would tell someone in his circumstance. So yeah, just another person dealing with some shit and trying to talk to anyone who will listen. And now for today's haiku about the confusing state of gray this morning:

smoky clouds hang low,
horizon glowing, is it
sunrise or sunset?

picture: charrow watching the sunset over Morro Bay State Park, CA, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, February 8, 2016

cheese please

cheesy goodness

I'm happy about my decision to stay home last night. Felt much better this morning, although the junk food craving and the achiness persist. I had to walk from Grand Central over to my physical therapist's office around one this afternoon, and in the process I had to pass a cluster of hole in the wall food places (the kind that may as well be food trucks because there's no seating and people stand on the sidewalk while waiting for their order). My desire to rip a piece of pizza out of one guy's hand was so strong. Instead, I inhaled deeply and cursed him for his iron stomach or his ability to disregard whatever pain it might cause him. Glutards unite. I know, it's not a very conscientious way of saying gluten sensitive. Consider it a reflection of rage and not political commentary. And now for today's bite sized portion:

folded cheese slice
so close I could steal it and
run like hell. Oh wait*


I could sidle up
to that kid and make her laugh
while I steal a fry


picture: Fellini's cheese pizza (dear god, do I miss this pizza), Atlanta, GA, June 2008, digital (I've used this picture before, but it was 8 years ago, so oh well) 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

the hermit strategy

Another day of sneezing and aching. I'm just sick enough to feel cranky and pathetic, but not sick enough to keep me out of the park in the morning. I did skip a Superbowl invitation in the interest of sleep and avoiding junk food. It's amazing how much I crave it when I'm sick, but that's exactly the time I shouldn't eat it. So I stayed home with that snoring dog of ours to eat my lentils and squash while watching Friday Night Lights, and when I'm done writing this, I'm going to go to bed at an unreasonably early time. For now, here's today's exercise about that silly dog, written from his point of view:

wistfully sniffing
at greasy, crumpled bags, wait!
I need that squirrel!

top picture: a happy dog rolling in the park (little hard to see, but it's the black blob in the middle), Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, today, iPhone 5

bottom picture: the squirrel hunter sniffing around the picnic area where the giant trees live, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, today, iPhone 5

Saturday, February 6, 2016

the fruits of tedium

The other day I mentioned getting a new film camera, and today I reveal said camera: a Leica M6 TTL with a Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 c-Biogon (c for compact, and that it is). Quite the mouthful and boy did I spend a lot of time on the internet trying to make this decision. Poor charrow could hardly bear the tedium I put her through trying to decide between eBay sellers for the camera body. I've been squirreling away money and Adorama gift cards for a fancy film camera for years. About 5 to be exact. My original intentions were to get a Hasselblad, but lately I've developed a hankering for a Leica, and with our upcoming trip to the world of epic landscapes, why not just go for it? Some day (in like 9 years when I'm done saving for it), I will get back to the Hasselblad.

I had high hopes of getting the film I shot last weekend processed so I could write this post with a picture from the camera. Alas, I did what it seems many people do when loading the Leica M6: failed to properly load the film onto the winding spool. I picked up two rolls of film on Tuesday: one containing hiking and botanic pictures and the other containing absolutely nothing. In my defense, it's really different from my other film camera and a quick search on the internet results in a crap ton of people whining about the film spool. I think I've got the hang of it now, but only time will tell. Should have a couple of rolls shot by Monday and negatives back by Wednesday. I have to make sure I know how to use the darn thing or else I will have an expensive pile of mediocre negatives when we get home. It's the first rangefinder camera I've ever used (explanation of what that means here because I'm terrible at describing it). I didn't think it was possible to be any slower taking photographs, but I have succeeded! Which means between now and March 1, I'm going to be the dummy walking around Brooklyn taking pictures of piles of trash and fence posts in order to master this split-image business. I tried to take pictures in the park this morning, but the light meter went haywire in the cold temperatures (apparently a function of how fresh the batteries are). I can handle manual settings, but I cannot even begin to guess shutter speeds and f stops without a light meter. Anyway, enough geeking out. Here's today's short version:

head craning this way
and that to capture the best
angle for the shot

picture: Leica M6 with Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 c-Biogon, last week, digital 

Friday, February 5, 2016

where's that off button

Brain turning off in 3...2...never. But it was worth a shot. I am so happy this week is over. There's no way to say whether next week will be any better or worse, but for now it's nothing and it's Friday night and I'm about to string together 4 sentences because that's how much energy I don't have to punctuate properly. To add insult to injury, we got a dusting of snow this morning during prime commuting time. I almost skipped swimming because I couldn't bear the thought of a) walking through slush to get there and b) getting into a cold pool after having walked through slush. But I am compulsive and stubborn (as evidenced by this funny little streak I have going here), and it seemed like a bad idea to skip an opportunity for the only other form of exercise I can do right now. So I went. And damned if it wasn't beautiful on campus with the clock tower and the massive trees whose names I don't know all covered in snow (sorry no pictures). I tried to be grumpy about the snow, but it was just too pretty, so I gave in. And now for today's other exercise (about that silly dog again because he takes up a lot of space):

he sprawls in my lap  
after dinner, dream twitching
and farting away

picture: selfie with aforementioned dog in aforementioned position, today, iPhone 5

Thursday, February 4, 2016


bob ross adaptation

I feel a little self conscious about how grumpy and whiny my posts have been lately, but this is the state of things and what's the point of putting on a happy face everywhere? Can the internet be the place where I get to put up a fuss and not feel sorry about it? We shall see if I drive my reader(s) away! So what I intended to say before freezing up is that yesterday's stress has bled into today and will continue for at least part of tomorrow. I've also managed to score a nagging sore throat/sneezing duo, which I blame on not being able to run OR, more likely, the coughing dental assistant who stood over me for 30 minutes. Although I still contend that not running has something to do with it because over the holidays we were around my niece who has been a vector for a series of terrible colds, and I didn't get sick. Oh, theories. Anyway, it's haiku time, after which I plan to shove tissue up my nose (for that lovely simultaneously stuffy and drippy situation that I can feel coming on) and go to sleep. 

head full of static 
clinging to outcomes I can't 
control or predict 

picture: a happy little tree taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden before I figured out how to really use my old german camera, July 2011, film, Agfa Optima (I wish portrait pictures looked better on blogger)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

somebody get a towel

storm's coming

It's been a rough day. Unfortunately, I can't discuss it (work, confidentiality, etc.), so I'm going to leave it at that cryptic comment and go straight for the short version today. Not much left to give to the internets, and I will be better served by getting to bed at a decent time rather than trying to force this (more than I already am!). 

jeans heavy with rain 
as i tromped through the city 
soggy brains to boot 

picture: storm clouds gathering as my mom lets her horse graze, California, MD, July 2011, film, Canon Tlb 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

under pressure

going up

Well I have emerged from the dentist with most of my mental faculties in tact. I lost a few during the numbing procedure and then a few more while the chunks of old filling were flying around as the drill jackhammered into my tooth. The dentist described the numbing process as this amazing thing that I should love because it would be even more localized than the traditional method, but he said the words "place the need in the hole between your tooth and gum" and my elbows started sweating. The verdict? I'd rather not be able to feel half of my face than have that kind of injection again. Well really it was 3 "injections" that lasted over the course of 4 minutes rather than the quick one or two usual jabs that render your entire check numb. I suppose this holey method might be more effective because I usually have trouble with the numbing agent not working very well, and there was very little physical discomfort during the actual procedure. Just all that mental horror as the instruments went over my face from the assistant to the dentist and then into my mouth for who knows what purpose. I can never decide whether it's better to close my eyes the whole time or to see the tool and try to guess its purpose in order to steel myself against whatever it might feel like. And the pressure. Dear god the pressure and the drilling noise make me sick to my stomach. While I was waiting for the doctor, I actually worked out a puking plan in the event that I lost my shit (use the paper bib because there was no sink within reach). I don't know why I did this because I'm not a puker, but it passed the time.

I'm sure if you asked the dentist about my anxiety level he would have said 3 or 4 out of 10 because that's about how I seem most of the time. In reality it hovered around an 8. I'm basing this guess on the fact that he was poised with drill in hand without having asked me if I wanted the laughing gas or noise-cancelling headphones we spoke about the week before. So I had to ask about them myself, which required him to take out the bits of cotton he had put in my mouth and leave the room to get the necessary supplies. I ended up not getting the laughing gas, partially because I felt like too much of a weenie to ask for it. My default "don't let them see you sweat" setting overrode the whole reason I went to this dentist in the first place: the drugs. Maybe next time. Now for the short version:

felt like a toolbox
sticking out of my mouth while
my knuckles turned white


fought the urge to slap
his hands away from my mouth
and head for the hills

picture: where I would rather have been this afternoon - the Blue Ridge Parkway, somewhere between Boone, NC and the Virginia border (I think), July 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, February 1, 2016

past my prime

no cream or sugar please

Not much time left for this today because we went over our tv allowance watching the rest of "St. Vincent" with Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Naomi Watts. A predictable but highly amusing movie about a detestable train wreck of a man who is revealed to be a lovable (and detestable) train wreck of a man whose loan shark money problems magically go away (not a spoiler). At any rate, it's past prime writing hour, and I'm trying really hard to get the proper amount of sleep while my tailbone continues to heal. Sleep is a goal all the time, but when there's actually something wrong with my body, it becomes a bit easier to say No for the sake of self care. So here's the short version of my breakfast this morning, which charrow and I refer to as "breakfastcoffee" (said in a rushed one word fashion).

warm black coffee to
my right, a book in my lap
pew! pew! goes the bird

A bird outside our window sounded like the caricature of a laser gun. The birds were very active this morning! I remember thinking at the beginning of last spring how amazing it was to hear birds again after the misery of last winter, but I've noticed them almost every day this winter. This makes me wonder if I was in too deep of a stress fugue last year (final semester of graduate school) to hear them.

picture: AZ the coffee drinking wonder dog (sadly he has since passed away), Bluemont, VA, January 2009, digital 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

in attendance

roscoe is all business

Sometimes it takes some serious wallowing and a good night's sleep to snap out of a funk and get shit done. It's also been a beautiful day here in Brooklyn. We had sunny skies and ran into almost all of our favorite park people on this morning's walk. Some days I walk through and begrudgingly speak to people, wishing for silence and getting annoyed with their idiosyncrasies. X person complains too much. Y person always asks huge open-ended "dad" questions that I've already answered three times. Q person gives our dog too many treats and never remembers to ask. So on and so forth. But today I disengaged with my internal crank and enjoyed the weather and the dogs. Focused on walking and watching and only half listened to the idle conversations happening around me. Then we cleaned and I set up my new film camera (more on that soon). Nothing exciting to report and no soapboxes to keep me writing, so here's the short form of crazy dog chases:

bend your knees as they
fly by*, ears flapping with wild
eyes and teeth flashing

* to prevent leg injuries in case of collision

picture: Roscoe: he eats gloves and teases me with his frisbee by nudging my leg and lunging away when I reach for it, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, January 2016, digital 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


inside out

I went for a walk in the park this morning while Charrow did our usual Saturday long run. I thought it would be better than staying home and molding in the apartment, especially given the sunshine. I know it was the best choice, but it made me so cranky because I couldn't appreciate the activity. All those damn runners kept trotting past me, and it was all I could do to resist the urge to pick up speed. I'm sure at some point there will be circumstances that make walking my only option, but right now it feels like watching a movie in slow motion. Be where you are, observe the moment, blah blah blah. Easier said than done when it feels like less of a choice. But I did my best. Listened to This American Life and watched the birds, silently critiqued runners' forms and imagined little things about the people around me or daydreamed about things in my own life. I'm happy to have been outside on a beautiful day (although dressing for walking is different than dressing for running and I was cold the whole time), but I still feel mentally itchy, sluggish, and mopey. And now, a short version of the exact same thing I've been whining about all week (I promise I will write about something else tomorrow):

sometimes the hardest
thing to do is wait until
you can run again


patches of muddy
ground show through the snowy crust
watch out for the poop!*

*because sometimes the dog poops sinks below the surface of the snow, and you just can't find it before your hand gets too cold. I also think people become lazier in bad weather, so whenever there's a big snow melt, there are little sodden logs of poo all over the sidewalks.

picture: another view from the listening tower at Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Friday, January 29, 2016

scattered and fried

extreme lap dog

Well, I am sufficiently toasted, and I don't mean the fun kind that involves bubbly drinks. I just mean effing tired. In an effort to get even closer to my bed, I'm going to keep this short with a snippet from my commute because that's the most accessible experience from today, and it's vaguely more interesting than writing about dinner or watching the end of Sneakers. Although I did realize that Robert Redford and Brad Pitt sound almost identical if you close your eyes and listen. Breaking news! Okay, enough with the nonsense. It's time for the real nonsense:

when the doors clatter
open it's like a scatter
drill from marching band

picture: one of my good friends and her naughty cattle dog who likes to lay all over her and chew on her neck, Bluemont, VA, August 2010, digital 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

going nowhere

going up?

What a ridiculous day it's been. Here's a little taste, complete with run-on sentences: A friend from work has a second job in a private practice, which used to be located in the same office as our clinic (it's complicated). The private practice recently moved to a building down the block. Convenient for our friendship! But our usual in-between-clients merriment (or venting) now involves a commute. We hung out in her new space during a 35 minute lull, and I saved about 10 minutes for transportation time. It's literally 1/3 of the way down the block, so a 4 minute walk at most and then 2 elevator rides, both coincidentally to/from the 8th floor. No big deal, right? Until the elevator takes 4 minutes to arrive because only 1 of them is working, and then it goes up instead of down, and then on the way down it stops at every floor. In lieu of cursing the whole ride down or continuing to panic, I got out at the 7th floor and ran down 7 flights of stairs. Then I ran over to the clinic building and nearly cheered out loud when the elevator came almost immediately because it is notoriously slow. Running, by the way, was a huge mistake. The pain I experienced confirms that my busted tailbone is very much still busted. Lucky for me this same friend also has a sensitive rear and let me borrow her "infinity cushion" aka donut until my very own donut arrives in the mail. Ah the joys of butt pain. And now for the short form:

waiting for my ride
tick tock is all i hear til
ding! on every floor

picture: the doors to the elevator shaft on one of the abandoned listening towers at Teufelsburg, outside of Berlin, Germany, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

baby steps

he suffers from too much attention

I went to the dentist today. Haven't said that in about 5 years. Maybe 6. For reasons that involve visceral memories of sitting in a chair in an open cubicle office system with a military dentist pulling teeth out of my mouth. I also have horribly cavity prone teeth no matter WHAT I do so going to the dentist has always meant work. I'm not talking about some minor discomfort while the hygenists flosses the crap out of your gums or the sting of being poked in with the hook instrument. I mean metal whirring, grinding, scraping, packing, extra shots of novocaine kind of work. It's not pretty and it's makes me nauseated just writing about it. But I've had some major tooth aches in the last month or so, and I've had trouble chewing on one tooth for about two years (yes, I know, things don't magically get better if you avoid them). One of my dog friends told me about this guy called the "Jazz Dentist" who utilizes compassionate dentistry, which from what I can tell is a nice way of saying he knows people are scared shitless of him and worry that he's going to rip them off, so he supplies the latest in happy drugs and doesn't suggest work that isn't absolutely necessary. I say: give me the drugs. As it turns out, after having a thousand little x-ray plates shoved in various parts of my mouth, I have a cracked tooth thanks to said military dentists and their use of mercury fillings (or "amalgams" as the dentist dictated to his assistant - I loved this for reasons I can't quite explain. my mouth is FULL of amalgams). I have another mercury filling that needs to be replaced. On the plus side, there are no new cavities or an infection, which was my major concern. I forced myself to make the appointment to deal with the cracked tooth before I left the office. Success! Now that you have my dental health status that you didn't ask for, here's the short take:

open, now bite, now
stick out your tongue and say ah
now, wait! come back here!

picture: my friend's dog Simon, who always looks mildly worried, Bluemont, VA, January 2009, digital 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

walk this way


I have the exercise memory of a goldfish. Worse: a gnat. I don't really know what kind of memory gnats even have, but if it's anything like their purported attention spans, then it's an accurate comparison. All of that to say, I am feeling antsy and annoyed at my current running moratorium thanks to my fancy free decision from yesterday. I went for a walk to our food coop this morning to get some fresh air and every step hurt, especially ones that involved any quick movements (e.g., trying to avoid giant ankle-sucking pools of brown slush). So it doesn't look there will be any running in my immediate future. As I've been told by several people, this will get better (thanks for the reminders). I just have to avoid driving Charrow crazy in the meantime with the whining and the constant favors (bending over to pick things up causes the most discomfort, even when done with proper form). It already feels like I haven't run in weeks, which is ridiculous because it's been 3 DAYS. Apparently I live in an exercise time warp. Here's a short take on what it's like to go through the subway system when you're in pain, but there's nothing apparently wrong with your body. People get so huffy! And I'm often one of them. oops.

i want to carry
a sign that says don't assume
you know why i'm slow*

*this is something I am guilty of all the time: seeing someone ambling for no apparent reason and assuming they are self-centered assholes when in fact I have absolutely no idea what they might be dealing with.

picture: view from an S-Bahn platform, Berlin, Germany, October 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, January 25, 2016

we all fall down

popular place

This morning I saw an older gentleman scrounging through the leftover sled bits piled at the top of a popular hill in Prospect Park. He found a decent sized scrap and proceeded to ride down the hill like a kid. It looked like a lot of fun, so I tromped up there and found my own scrap. As I readied myself to sit down on the sled, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed on my tailbone. HARD. And now it hurts like it's never hurt before. Sitting. Standing. Walking up stairs. Down stairs. Bending over. Forget crossing my legs. So yeah, we ran 6 miles in a blizzard without falling, but I tried to slide down a hill and jacked up my rear. Good times. Against my better judgment, I went down the hill anyway! because I couldn't help myself. The dog was not pleased by my decision. He stopped scavenging for food long enough to run after me looking confused and alarmed by my new way of walking. I rode down about three times (I know, I know, piling on the bad decisions) and then hobbled home over the uneven mounds of snow. Thankfully, there were some well worn paths made by all the skiers and fellow dog owners. That cut down on the amount of uneven surfaces I had to navigate.

Towards the beginning of our walk (pre-incident), I noticed what I thought was my contacts fogging up, much the way your glasses do when open the oven door or come in from the cold. I was trying to puzzle through whether it's even possible for contacts to fog up when I realized I was seeing steam rising from the snow evaporating. Surreal. And now for today's haiku:

in good health, we push
limits, but in sickness* they
feel like cattle prods

*i wanted to say something with the word "injury" but didn't have room for 3 syllables or the patience to fiddle with it until it worked out

picture: the hill upon which I nearly (possibly?) broke my butt, as seen this weekend teeming with children, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, digital 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

snow blind

snow plough

The snow has stopped, and all is right in Red's world again... until tomorrow when it's officially bootie season (salt burns his feet to the point of limping). We took him for a two hour walk in the park this morning, because that's how long it took to walk our short route through two feet of snow. What a slog, but it was sunny and relatively warm. The dog has been a snoring lump since we got back, and I've been in a trip planning fugue. To the point of almost forgetting to write my silly haiku for the day. So here's today's exercise in commitment along with a few more pictures from the park.

we squeaked and crunched through
fields of white dotted with dogs
beware the sledders!

(because they were definitely not concerned about running us over)

to the park we go

no brakes!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

white out

Remember how I used the word allegedly when referring to that snow? There's no doubt about it now. The sky has been white since we woke up to about 6 inches of snow, which I'm guessing is now somewhere around 26 inches. Cars are useless white mounds and the streets are (or were, before nightfall) dotted with dark blobs that slowly transform into parents pulling their children in sleds or people walking with shopping bags or fellow dog owners forced outdoors by the call of doodie. We tried to take Red to the park this morning, but he curled his lower lip and hunched over as the snow pelted his face. It was pathetic, so we took him home.

I decided it would be fun to walk to the park anyway, so we left Red in his favorite place (the crate with a fresh peanut butter kong), and trudged back out to see what we could see. There were more people out than I expected, and there were plenty of dogs romping in the snow. We even saw runners tip toeing around the drive in the park. Neither of us expected that. but... Challenge accepted! So we went home to change into running gear (think gaiters and 3 of just about everything) and joined the ranks of fools on foot. We made it about 6 miles along the various loops of Prospect Park. The first 5 were pretty fun, minus a seriously painful windy stretch near the ball fields. I stopped to take a zillion pictures, people were skiing, sledding, running, walking, flopping around, etc. But by the last mile, the snow had really started to fill in because it was coming down so hard. It was like running along the edge of the beach where the packed sand gives just enough to make all your leg muscles work twice as hard. Manageable, but the novelty had definitely worn off.

The rest of the day involved a hodgepodge of resting, more walking in the snow (much to the dog's chagrin), and watching movies. I'm thankful that we don't have any pressing needs, and we can basically continue on as shiftless travel-planning blobs until Monday when we have to figure out whether we're going to work. I assume the trains will be running by then, but it's still snowing, so who knows! In the meantime, here's a short take:

woke to howling wind,
sipped coffee as the snow swirled,
who's ready to run?

top picture: a slice of the activity we saw this morning in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5 
middle picture: a very unhappy Red willing me to take him, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5
bottom picture: charrow about 1/3 of the way through our expedition, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5