Still beyond excited about my upcoming trip to London. We’ll be staying with friends in Greenwich, which is such a lovely part of the city. In my anticipation, I keep adding photos from our last trip out there to my shop. So these two are now available in a variety of print sizes here. Above is a view of the Royal Naval Academy from the walkway at the Queen’s House, and below is the rising on the Cutty Sark.
Required Reading. I came across this story a few weeks ago. It’s quiet and heartbreaking and powerful. “Winter of Departures” by Susanna Kwan.
Recently, at a neighbor’s memorial, I saw a young man in uniform press a button inside the barrel of his bugle, his white gloves bright against the polished yellow metal, before bringing the instrument to his lips and filling the cemetery with the sound of “Taps.” During the minute the song played, the muscles in his cheeks and neck did not move. No one else seemed to notice it was a recording. Another man in uniform presented the family with a flag folded into a soft-cornered triangle like a chain letter or the notes girls used to pass in Language Arts.
When I was very young, I lived downstairs from a retired band director who volunteered as a bugler for military funerals. I could tell from Mr. O’Rourke’s footsteps when he was preparing to leave his apartment. Sometimes when I heard his door shut I would open mine to catch him on his way down.
“The twenty-four hardest notes to play,” he’d say, lifting his trumpet case and pointing the bell end at me.
As a kid, I knew all of the dinosaurs. It’s one of those tragedies that I’ve forgotten what dinosaurs are cool.
— Matt Smith
Keats. Because his poems are beautiful. And in a week of terrifying, angering, saddening news, in a week of deadlines and stress and no sleep, I needed a moment or two of beauty.
The Hour. British dramas rarely disappoint me, and given that this one stars both Dominic West and Ben Wishaw, revolves around a 1950s news program and has a healthy dose of political intrigue, it is actually surprising it has taken me this long to get around to watching it. But get around to it I did. Now I’m just upset that it was cancelled after two series.
“Kool Thing” by Sonic Youth. I will forever associate this song with the Gilmore Girls episode “Bridesmaids Revisited.” And honestly that is okay with me. In a weird moment this week, though, I was sitting in my office in the department working at 10:30 in the morning and heard this song playing louder than I really felt was appropriate for a weekday morning in a professional environment. I immediately assumed it was the undergrads who have an office next to mine and thought “YOUTHS”. I then discovered that it was not the undergrads, but a prof across the hall. I had no idea what to do with that information. But the song has been stuck in my head since then. And, I mean, if you’re going to play inappropriately loud music, this is at least a decent choice.
Another round of uploads to the shop this week. You can find all of the photos in this post for sale as prints by clicking here or through the “Shop” tab at the top of the page.
I’m headed back to London in about three weeks, and I am incredibly excited about the trip. That city truly has my heart in a way that very few places do. Since I can’t transport myself there immediately, I am contenting myself by stealing a few minutes here and there to edit some photos from my last trip and get them up in the shop.
Required Reading. I am in the midst of one of those weeks that is low on sleep, high on coffee and worries and tears. When life gets like this I start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, I should have chosen to be someone else, some other version of myself. This piece somehow understands that. Hallie Cantor’s “Types of Women I Could Be, But Am Not“.
I could be a woman who works at a cozy coffee shop where the baked goods are actually good. My warm smile would offer my customers a tiny emotional oasis from the bustling “rat race” of their regular lives. I would have only a few tattoos, and they’d be really good ones. I would do that thing with my hair where you sort of roll up a bandana and use it as a headband, but it wouldn’t be lumpy; it would actually look cute. I would have some eccentric crafty hobby — whatever’s less mainstream than cross-stitching. Maybe pastels, or macramé.
I could be a woman who works at an art gallery in Chelsea and looks like a Swiss model. I guess I’d have to stop eating for this one, but it’s okay because I would receive nourishment from other people’s envy. I would only wear leather shorts, in all weather conditions. I would do that thing with my hair where you braid the front along your hairline and look like Hot Heidi. I would have a dog so small, some people would not be able to see it with the naked eye.
I could be a woman who is married. I would live in Manhattan and make my husband take pictures of me for my SoulCycle outfit blog. I would do that thing with my hair where you get a professional blowout once a week and it somehow lasts all week even though you’re constantly working out. I would put almond butter in EVERYTHING.
I could be a woman who works for a nonprofit. I would have frequent dinner parties where everyone stays for hours after dinner, drinking wine and discussing politics in their socks. I would do that thing with my hair where you dye it gray to show that you don’t care about your appearance but also that you can appear young and pretty even with gray hair. I would be frustrated by the inefficiencies of the nonprofit world, but also secure in the certainty that I am doing my small part to make things better. I would own more scarves than shirts.
I could be a woman who lives outside New York City. I would have a house. I would have a vegetable garden and large dogs and no friends. I would only ever use two hands (both poking out of the coziest oversize sweater in existence) to drink out of mugs. I would do that thing with my hair where it naturally curls into a feminine mane that never frizzes, like a pre-season-two-haircut Felicity. I would meditate eight times a day.
On one side of the balance is the need for home, for the deep solid roots of place and belonging; on the other is the desire for travel and motion, for the single separate spark of the self freely moving forward, out into time, into the great absorbing stream of the world.
A fierce internal debate, between staying moored and drifting away, between holding on and letting go. Perhaps wisdom lies in our ability to negotiate between these two poles. Necessary to us, both of them – but how to live in connection without feeling suffocated, compromised, erased? We long to connect; we fear that if we do, our freedom and individuality will disappear.
— Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon
An endless selection of at best moderately enjoyable texts for school and work. So nothing I think anyone else needs to check out.
The Americans. Guys, this show is good. Compelling acting and interesting plot lines.
Basically the entire Barra MacNeils catalog. But especially The Question which massively informed my musical tastes growing up. I have particular love for “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” and “She the Ocean”.
The Ballad of Lucy Jordan (how quintessentially mid-90s is this video?)
She the Ocean
I’ve added a few more images to my print shop, including 8×10 prints of this image. It is many years old. Pre-dslr. I think I was on my second digital camera. You know, when it was exciting to have 3 megapixels and a 1.5″ screen. But while I love fog, I am rarely successful at photographing it. This image though, gets it. Not just visually, but something about the weight and density, something about the closeness and dampness.
Required Reading. This New Yorker piece made me laugh. Out loud. This is a rarer occurrence than I would really like it to be, but, alas, life has left me grouchy and angry and scowl-y, so for writing to elicit anything more than a subdued chortle from me is impressive. But this piece did that. Perhaps it’s because I love people watching. Perhaps it’s because making up amusing stories about people in public delights me. Perhaps it is because it is so well written that I can picture it like a tv episode in my head. Perhaps it’s something else. But regardless, You should read “A Breakup Ceremony in Mccarran Park” by Shea Strauss and enjoy a nice mid-week laugh.
We are gathered here today, in McCarren Park, to inadvertently witness the dramatic breakup of these two people whom we have never previously encountered. If anyone has any empathy at all, please now avert your eyes and hurry past.
At this time, the couple would like to share a few words that they have always wanted to say and soon will never be able to take back.
AARON: In the past two and a half years, you’ve become my best friend, my lover, my confidante, and, on this very special day— in front of all of these reluctant witnesses—you now become a future stranger.
As I stand here today, I can’t help but think back to the beginning, when we were both so much more attractive and horny. You gave me a new outlook on alcohol and an excuse to not exercise.
Six months ago today, I popped the question, “Is this even working anymore?” And it was then that I knew that I wanted eventually to forget your middle name. I suddenly understood that I wanted to celebrate your losses and to tell our mutual friends of my successes in the hopes that they would share them with you.
I dedicate the rest of my life to my career, and I look forward to growing bitter separately from you.
JAMIE: Wow, I can’t believe this day is finally here. Thank you for being the man who will make my future dates look better. Here are my promises to you:
I promise to delete all evidence of you from my social-media accounts. Yes, even the photos you aren’t in but that you took or were there when they were taken.
I promise to transform you into a Disney villain in my mind. But not a good one, like Gaston or Jafar. Think “Prince of Egypt” old dad pharaoh.
I promise always to put you first, when listing my exes in alphabetical order.
I promise to swipe left if you ever come up on Tinder, but only after taking a screen-cap to show my friends at brunch, where we’ll criticize your photo choices.
I promise never to forget that passing comment you made about my upper-arm flab. I will hold that memory against you forever and use it to make mutual friends take my side in the breakup.
Last, I promise never fully to learn any lessons from this relationship and to continue to fail future partners in similar ways. Most important, though, I will eventually have much more fulfilling sexual experiences, with people much more attractive than you.