Living in the Moment

It’s been a bit since I last wrote a note. I spent the last week of June and pretty much all of July traveling around Europe. While there were plenty of noteworthy things happening, a friend encouraged me to “let go of should” on my trip. So while I felt I probably should blog and write and figure out my life instead I tried to live in the moment and honor my impulses.

I’d purchased a nice camera before my trip so one way I spent my time was taking photos. I had a pretty basic knowledge of how to use my camera before I left, and it was a lot of fun learning more about photography as I explored different places: Zagreb, Amsterdam, Schiermonnikoog, Brussels, London, Paris, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, and Berlin.

I operated on a volume principle–take a lot of pictures at different angles in hopes some of them will turn out good. Below is one of my favorite photos I took in Berlin. For me, it captures the beauty of living in the moment. The moving bus, the stationary statue of the man on the horse, and the moving small speck of plane in the sky all come into alignment for a brief time. I manage to document it. Within seconds, the bus is down the street and the plane is off to who knows where and the moment has changed.


Loneliness is wanting things from other people


I pass this pavilion often on my way home at night. It’s tucked away in a park so I only see it from a distance. It’s brightly lit against a backdrop of dark trees, and the turquoise blue restroom doors stand out against the white brick. It’s a beautiful structure in my opinion. And seeing it at night fills me with an incredible sense of loneliness.

For months I’ve been trying to unpack this mystery. Why does this building make me lonely?

Recently the answer hit me–loneliness is wanting things from other people.

The bright lights and lovely doors seem to cry out, “Come enjoy me.” But it’s night and it’s dark and I should probably be in bed already and it’s possibly illegal to be in the park that late so of course I’m not going to stop. My not stopping makes me feel lonely on behalf of the building.

The loneliest I’ve ever felt in a traditional absence of connections sense was in college. I was smart and funny, and it seemed absolutely no one wanted to date me. My friend group wasn’t cohesive, and my closest friends all had significant others which amplified my awareness of not having “my person” I could rely on for companionship.

In college, I often ate alone and spent evenings alone. I enjoy being alone now, but at that time, I was on a small campus where my being alone was observable to all of those around me. Their knowledge of my being alone made me even lonelier.

I don’t experience loneliness the same way now. I’ve been in a long term relationship for twelve years. I teach classes and am involved in lots of different communities in Atlanta: the improv scene, my acting studio, my gym. Still, I experience loneliness.

Loneliness for me now seems to strike when I want things–opportunities, recognition, praise–and this mainly occurs in my creative life. I want to be cast when I audition. I want my students to love their class. I want people to come to my shows. I want my creative partners to be as excited about our projects and committed to them as I am.

Sharing my art endeavors with others often feels like serving my heart on a platter. I picture my heart as peeled tangerine–one that’s rolled around the floor a few times and been picked at so the skin is broken and the flesh spills out.

“Here’s a damaged piece of fruit that’s my heart,” I want to tell people when I start doing something creatively with them. “Please don’t hurt it.”

I don’t say that. Instead I take the risk. My experience of loneliness may be wanting things from other people, but the converse also sounds lonely–not wanting anything from anyone. And I couldn’t accomplish much if I didn’t rely on people.

So I’ll continue to serve my damaged tangerine heart and pick it up when it’s occasionally dropped on the floor. Or I’ll be like the building shining brightly into the night beckoning people to come to it–standing solid and continuing to shine even as they drive by.




Earth Day

Earth Day usually sneaks up on me, but this year I remembered it was coming. I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. I find the vastness of space terrifying and overwhelming. The enormity of the Earth scares me too but my fear scales down proportionally. What alarms me is not space or the Earth themselves but how much smaller I am in comparison to them and how little control I have over large scale things.

I’m grateful for running and how it connects me to the Earth. I love #crushingit in the gym but outside I’m like a fitness explorer. Running leads to discovery. When I travel to new cities, I run to learn more about the area. I run to see people. Running reminds me that I’m small too, but in a way that isn’t terrifying because it connects me to others. I always nod at other runners and walkers if they look at me when we pass each other. “We’re in this together,” I like to think we’re saying with our nods.

I started my Earth Day celebrations early last night with an 8.5 mile run through some of my favorite spots around Decatur. Captured a glimpse of the Earth’s beauty lakeside. I call this shot Monet-ish.


Photo series inspired by playing pretend

When I was a child, I liked to play pretend with game pieces. I’d assign them characters and create rich elaborate dramas that were much more intriguing to me than the games the pieces were intended for.

Looking to recapture some of that creative magic from my younger years, I recently purchased some game pieces online. I’ve started using them as subjects in a new photo series I’m working on. Here’s what I’ve done so far:


Clockwise starting top left Hilltop, Balance, Divide, and Dance Floor.

I’ll be posting more on my Instagram as long as the subject continues to intrigue me so follow the series there.

We go where the math takes us: Bay Area

Just got back from one of my favorite places in the world, the Bay Area. David and I met as graduate students in Berkeley so we try to get back there as much as possible. This time our travel was math related. David attended a workshop on rational points at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) in Palo Alto.

On Saturday, after the conference was over, we spent time with a couple of our best friends in San Francisco. I wanted to see the water so we went to the Presidio and drove out past the Golden Gate Bridge. The day was warm for San Francisco. Birds flew overhead, and I longed to be one of them, surfing the wind and diving into the water.


I didn’t want to leave yesterday when our trip ended. I love my life in Atlanta, but I miss the beauty of the Bay Area and our friends who live there. I’m sad today because I want to go back, but I know what I want to go back to doesn’t exist anymore. Most of our friends from graduate school live elsewhere. We’re no longer in our twenties.

And I know my life then wasn’t as rosy as I remember it, but it’s hard to imagine life in the Bay Area as anything but perfect when you look out over the water to the hills across the way.


Ways I’m like my mom: love of the outdoors

My mom loves camping. We went a lot when I was growing up, mainly to places in Ohio where we would tent camp near our car. I remember being in awe of my mom’s ability to pitch a tent, start a campfire, and make delicious meals on a two burner propane stove.

Although we haven’t gone camping together in years, we have had the good fortune of visiting some of America’s most beautiful national parks recently including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Last autumn, we visited Gatlinburg and took a short but steep hike to the top of Clingmans Dome. The views were gorgeous. While we were there, we also hiked a small section of the Appalachian Trail.

My mom really wants to take a backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail in the Shenandoah Valley region. I’ve never gone backpacking. The prospect scares me, but I hope I’m with her when she realizes this dream.




Ways I’m like my mom: plant photography

When I was a kid, my mom would often ask me to move out of frame when she was taking pictures of plants. I resented this as I did pretty much all forms of evidence indicating I was not the center of her universe, including my little sister. Now, I understand her impulse. I love capturing the beauty of flowers in photographs.

Here’s a few I took on a recent trip to Oakland Cemetery when my sister was visiting Atlanta. Note that I failed to take any pictures of her during this outing. It’s not because I’m still bitter about having to share my mother’s love. I swear.