Musings

Thoughts on February and March

This winter has been one of the busiest I have ever had. Usually winter is (or is supposed to be) a time of rest, of hibernation, of slowness, but 100% not the case this year. I wanted to blog twice a week this year and I haven’t posted anything in nearly 2 months. But I’m letting myself off the hook because I’ve been home 3 weekends and gone 5 since the start of February, so I think that definitely warrants a pass and a reminder that I can’t do everything. There’s a reason I was sick for 2 months, having run myself completely into the ground with no time to rest.

So instead of resting or sharing my writing or photography I traveled. First to State College then to Tallahassee, St Louis, Pittsburgh and Houston. State College was for hockey, and a visit with my family and our friend Tim, where Penn State decisively won over Minnesota, and then an early drive back to Baltimore for the Maker’s Market at Union Craft Brewing with Bam Co Create where Todd had his first craft show and I made friends photographing the other makers.

My first time visiting Tallahassee was for a workshop with the Alpha Rho Chi chapters at FAMU, where I spent a day with 2 other national representatives reviewing a variety of topics with the students there. We did the same thing the following weekend at Washington University in St Louis. I spend a lot of time in my role as Director of Finance communicating with students, but it’s less frequent that I see them in person, which is so much more fun and rewarding. The creativity and talent of these students blows my mind and makes me incredibly hopeful for the future, particularly of the design fields.

I stayed an extra day in St Louis to visit my friends Kim and Mark, who moved in the summer, and we attempted to fit ourselves down the insane multi-story slides at City Museum and visited the gorgeous Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. The following weekend completed my 4-weekend travel run with a trip to Pittsburgh to hang out with my parents and check off a bucket list item by seeing Phantom of the Opera which I’ve obviously been singing ever since. Of course, no visit to Pittsburgh is complete without going to the Strip District for coffee, tea and cheese, and was also able to catch an exhibit of early 20th century Paris street photography.

So I rolled into March trying to do too many things at once, still being sick, taking a large format photography class at MICA, preparing for the Alpha Rho Chi Convention in Houston, and a whole bunch of other things I can’t actually remember because I feel like I’ve barely paused to reflect. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do here. I really try to avoid using the word busy, but that’s what it was. So busy that I felt guilty when I did stop and do fun things like go to a friend’s party, take a macrame class, see Walk the Moon, and photograph an artist friend. We’ve been trying to do work on our house, including replacing the shower and now fixing the leaking roof so it feels like I’m living in a construction zone most of the time.

The month mostly wrapped up with the fraternity Convention in Houston, which was one of the best I think I have been to yet. !t’s always an intense weekend, as one of the people who has to be “on” the entire time, answering questions and presenting and photographing, but it’s also when I get to see lots of old friends and make some new ones. I came home both over-stimulated and over-tired to a full week of work deadlines, but I’m nearing a break in the rush of it all….

So in this last mad week of March I’m getting ready to see a play with a friend tonight and rest and run errands this weekend. I finalized an essay for Quiet Writing which was published today - maybe the most honest things I’ve shared publicly - on moving from living half-heartedly to wholeheartedly. You can visit Terri’s site here if you’d like to take a read.

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me over these past several months! I’m used to the idea that a bit of craziness is just my life, but looking forward to a bit more down time soon.


Photos (L-R, T-B): Walk the Moon; with Mom at Penn State hockey; Todd’s booth at Maker Market; wine time at Reagan National Airport; with the Seshait Chapter of Alpha Rho Chi at FAMU; with friends in Tallahassee; obligatory visit to the Gateway Arch in St Louis; Todd at work remodeling the bathroom; photographing an artist friend; my happy place - with my camera; with some of my favorite people at the Alpha Rho Chi convention in Houston; the old and new board members of Alpha Rho Chi

Thoughts on January

Each year, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land. It brings strange stirrings, not only to creatures abed for the night, but to some who have been asleep for the winter. The hibernating skunk, curled up in his deep den, uncurls himself and ventures forth to prowl the wet world, dragging his belly in the snow. His track marks one of the earliest datable events in that cycle of beginnings and ceasings which we call a year.
— Aldo Leopold, "A Sand County Almanac"

The first of these 12 months of 2019 has come to an end and if felt like it could have been two months instead of just one. It started out with a good deal of art, helping inspire me for things to come. I took a visit to the Walters Art Museum one lunch and unexpectedly came across an exhibit on Japanese printmaking and the restoration of a large Buddha. The first weekend of January was the last weekend of an exhibition of the work of John Waters, a Baltimore icon and filmmaker - one such as Hairspray - and it was…interesting. He’s a weird dude. His art isn’t for everyone (probably not for me) but it is still inspiring to see someone who totally did his own thing, regardless of how others undoubtably felt about it. Plus it was a chance to visit with one of my girlfriends who came with me. Later that night I went to a gallery opening of some artist friends at a bar down the street - awesomely talented people I’ve been able to meet through volunteering at the Creative Alliance. I had several volunteer shifts at the CA as well, for Mdou Moctor and Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club. EBFC is an experience, what more can I say? Take some theater, mix in WWE and a dash of burlesque and you may have a vague idea of what to expect.

I had my first mentoring session with Kimberly Wilson and my iEvolution women’s group, a date with a friend to watch Anne of Green Gables, and a ladies dinner for an expectant friend. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many inspiring women.

Halfway through the month I took a trip for “the most low key bachelorette party ever” to Nashville with my bestie Cait. Apparently Nashville is the bachelorette capitol of the US, but we opted more for music, pedicures and vegetarian food than pedal cabs and rowdiness. Cait helped me to slow down and enjoy having a relaxing vacation rather than rushing to see all the things. We made candles, went to the Ryman, discovered new music at a little venue called Analog, ate great vegan food, drank wine, got pedicures by a fellow Pittsburgh native, and meandered our way through East Nashville for tacos and coffee.

The following weekend I headed to Dallas for my winter board meeting with Alpha Rho Chi, 2 days of prepping and planning for the upcoming semester and enjoying my last meeting on the board before my term comes to an end in June. We managed some time Saturday night after finishing our business to visit downtown Dallas to see the Kennedy Memorial and the Grassy Knoll and two-stepped at a cowboy bar later on that night, probably the latest I have gone out in quite a few years, now that I’m more the “be asleep by 10” type rather than the “go out at 10” kinda woman. No regrets! I was also able to take some of Todd’s bow ties and do a quick photo shoot with my friend Hao at Pioneer Plaza.

Unfortunately I was sick for the last 2 weeks of the month (still am actually) so I tried to take it easy after Dallas, reading and watching movies and just one night out to see the Tony award winning musical Fun Home at the Baltimore Center Stage.

February is a full month so I’m reassessing some of the goals I set in early January to see what is actually doable instead of berating myself for not being as “productive” in my down time as I feel like I should be. I read an article recently that talked about millennials always feeling like we have to be doing some kind of side gig or hustling in our spare time and though I’ve never really identified with the stereotypes of the millennial generation, that article did resonate with me. The things that have been hobbies have turned into jobs or work and I don’t know how to just relax and have pure leisure time. I realize that may be a very privileged thing to say in a world where many people are scraping by, but it’s a realization that I need to consider.

Stay warm this winter and enjoy this winter season!

(Photos: Buddha at the Walters, preparing my desk for the start of the year, great sign in Nashville, Cait and I at the Ryman, at candle-making, believe in Nashville, Caitlin Canty, me in my new coat, Dallas photo shoot, Alpha Rho Chi Grand Council in Dallas, dancing in Dallas, Fun Home playbill)

Pittsburgh - Where the Bridges Run Free

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I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Allegheny County, Western Pennsylvania. Point Breeze, East End. Allegheny Plateau. Not quite East Coast, not quite Mid West. We practically have our own language and to this day my brother and I can have an entire conversation in Pittsburgh-related references to old mayors and WDVE morning show bits and city neighborhoods and places and memories that no one around us can understand if they too weren’t born and raised there. I left the city because while I loved it with all my heart I was afraid that if I didn’t leave right away that I never would and I wanted to see something different, even if that was another working class town just a single state away.

I loved that I could live in a city but at the same time could walk down the street and be in the woods of the 500 acre Frick Park - nature more easily accessed than most of my suburban friends. All of high school was spent running in the parks where my dad would quiz me on the different types of oak trees and the difference between a Red Tailed and Red Shouldered hawk. When I was old enough to drive, I’d spend late nights driving across the bridges just to see where I would end up and watch the lights of the city fade and then come back into view in my mirrors. I’d drive up to Mt Washington where you could see all three rivers come together at the Point, the rest of the city spreading backwards from the axis. Instead of hanging out at bars, I stayed at the 61C coffee shop until it closed at 11pm writing and watching the world go by over cups of regular with cream and sugar and a piece of biscotti.

After I left the city, it became my favorite place to fly into because of all the green opening up under the wings of the plane - the hills and valleys making so much land undevelopable (tho we try anyway and have streets of only steps to prove it). It’s one of the grayest places in the country, but there’s something comforting to me in that grey and it makes the sunny days all the more cherished because of their rarity. When you refer to the Strip in Pittsburgh, it has nothing to do with naked girls and is all about the neighborhood along the Allegheny River where the barges used to empty their food related goods to be sold. The only place I know of where they have a cheesemonger and traditional Greek and Italian and Mexican and Chinese along with Prestogeorge’s coffee and tea and all the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates merchandise you can want.

I love that each neighborhood has a story and I have something new to learn every time I come home. I love that no matter where I’ve been or where I go, it will always feel like home. It has been imprinted on my soul, and I like to think that I’ve left little pieces of mine scattered around the city, like stardust or breadcrumbs, waiting for me to run back into one day, or for someone else to pick up along the way, and when they get that feeling of “just right” they will know that they have connected with that place on a deeper level, that they have met another soul there without ever even knowing who it was.

Reflecting on the Old, Ringing in the New

Reflecting on the Old, Ringing in the New

I know December tends to be the time when most people do their reviews of and reflections on the year and start preparing for the upcoming one, but I find that there is way too much of a full court press leading up to the holidays and, since I generally don’t take much time off work, the few days I have unplanned I like to keep that way.  Plus, it takes me awhile to really let the year marinade in my mind and the things I want to pursue in the upcoming year slowly form like the foggy images in Trelawny’s crystal ball. So January is when I really start to process what has occured. It’s like a month between years - wouldn’t that be nice?? A month between the old year and the new one??