As far as Wednesdays go, this one is a goodie. My mama and I took the morning off to visit lemurs and jellyfish at @tennesseeaquarium , I got some good work done this afternoon, and then some badly needed winter kicks came in the mail. Here's to a good day in the middle of a lovely week. I think I'm starting to understand how to be happy. ✨
A year ago I had to choose between a future I fought hard for, but was confining and untrue to the spirit of who I was becoming. Since then, I've transformed into somebody I'm really proud of, and I've lived through all kinds of stories that would never have come to pass if I hadn't been true to my own possibility. I learned to tap into my own wildness and anger, and I found salvation in all that I thought was best tamable and forbidden. I learned to trust myself and bravery and the unknown. And for that I will be forever grateful. Today last year I found that salvation I spent a decade searching for. I was set free.
That time @hilarycadigan and I danced in a mango grove under a witchy super moon in Mexico. I've been thinking a lot lately about abundance and how to make decisions based not out of fear but to lay the ground work for the next great thing. Dreaming up new habits for 2018 and how I can be more of myself and draw more good things too me. Instead of feeling like too much, to believe I am enough. As we all are in our effort and failings and wildness and hope. 🌕🌵🍷💛✨ 📷 by @linds tucker . . . . #beyou #livefolk #liveauthentic #provinciallife #livemoremagic #lifeandthyme #lifewelltravelled #passionpassport #searchwandercollect
This trip has been good for the soul, meeting fellow female journalists who get the struggle and the passion, talking shop while bounding through the desert to New Wave and dishing by the pool to Daft Punk. A lot of writer life is isolating and grinding and rough, and back home they are passing laws that will make it harder-- burying us in taxes and making graduate education financially inaccessible. But any chance you get to meet another fierce woman writer in the wild and help her with her work is time well spent. Stories aren't worthless. They are what we are made of.
One of the things I love best are my smart, curious, fearless cousins. They are complete and utter badasses. This is Marta in Valencia, Spain in June. She's still in college and already she's been to Ghana and Costa Rica and Hawaii and Europe. Her Leah older sister spent the summer exploring on @amtrak before starting med school this fall. Chloe is taking the east coast by storm and drives a #Westfalia #vanagon from forest to forest like a boss. Katie has this incredible ability to make any city she lives in home, from Virginia to Texas to New York to Savannah. And on the other side of the family, Kara never ceases to amaze with the adventures she ends up on, from SUPing in Kentucky to hiking in New Zealand. Here's to all the fierce travel girls I get to call family. 🌅✈️👭👭👭🦉🗺️
One of the things I'm most grateful for this year is how much I've gotten to travel. I was on the verge of settling down, and had a much different life pictured twelve months ago. But all those cliches about shut doors and open windows, about loss transforming into gifts, were true in my case. While I was mourning the life I almost had, that I thought I wanted, that in hindsight was all wrong, I acted on instinct. I made real, deep, lasting connections and lived some incredible stories. I explored so many cities-- some for the first time, and some I've gotten to know deeper and better than ever. I've been to San Francisco, Atlanta, Columbus (twice! ), Nashville, Denver, Buffalo, Asheville, the north Georgia mountains, the Tennessee countryside, Greece, a single night back in Istanbul, Woodstock, upstate New York, the city, and Phoenix. Before the year is out, I'll have added Los Cabos, Mexico to the list and returned to San Francisco. I followed the rules of improv: a "no" ends the game, saying "yes, and" extends the scene. I can't wait to keep playing in 2018. 🗺️💙
I refuse to leave the house today, except to pop next door to swap Thanksgiving leftovers with my parents. Which means today is a day of pajamas, spiked golden milk, catching up on to-dos, and maybe starting an essay or two of my own. In a week I'm back on the road so I'm happy for a day to take is slow and savor my nice, quiet house. 😳💛✨👌🏻
On the island of Hydra they still use donkies instead of cars. Except for garbage trucks and the ambulance the island relies on boats, feet, and hooves for transportation. Not that cars could squeeze through many of the narrow, winding streets, anyhow. The trick is to remember your shops and landmarks, because the lanes don't always have names, either. On Hydra you feel your way through the town. It is a place that demands observation and requires presence. You can't help but pay attention to all the sights and smells, from the sea breeze to the almond cookies in the local bakeries to the candles in the hundreds of Orthodox churches.
Hannah and I went to elementary school together. Back then she had the best handwriting and knew everyone and I was kind of scared to talk to her. And now she is my riot grrl friend who will bake you a fine ass pie while ranting about the patriarchy. She's one of those real proper hell raising Southern girls who knows her way around a skillet and doesn't take shit. It's been amazing watching her become over the years into a really true version if herself, and how that attitude makes her glow. And I'm so excited that she is moving back to Chattanooga this fall and we can spend the winter doing witchy shit like throwing dinner parties and hanging out with dogs. 🍾🐕🍳💅 📷 by @hmmessinger
In 2012 I was on my way back from a couple weeks in China. The guy I was dating at the time told me two of his college friends who had been living in Beijing were also returning stateside, and wouldn't we have a lot to talk about? One of them was this gorgeous babe, @aubreyumami , who I quickly discovered was a kindred spirit. We were both hungry, you see-- to travel, to hike, to love, to learn about wine and music and ourselves. And to make all the xiao ling bao, of course, that you just can't get in Tennessee. And thus kick-started a five year friendship of talking about everything on top of Chilhowie mountain, over Riesling and Thai, upside down in yoga poses, sauntering up trails, and sweaty dancing in pool halls. Sometimes there was ugly crying because sometimes your twenties get rough. But we both turned 31 this year, Aubrey just today, and though so many things have changed since we were 26 year old bebes, she is still that curious, kind, fierce girl I met back then, only more so. Happy birthday, plein de vie! 🍷🥡💞 📷 By @sarareneeclark
"Look at those gold and red and russet leaves, blown roses, fruit on the verge of overripeness. If one has an ounce of poetry in one’s soul, how can one not want to describe such morbid beauty? Unlike Japan, with its seventy-two traditional kō, or micro-seasons—I write this in “chrysanthemum-blooming time”—the West has a paucity of good seasonal descriptions. It hardly matters, so long as we agree that it’s the best time of the year. ’Tis the season of mist, nature’s Photoshop; trenchcoats; barley; licensed melancholy; munificence; and glorious rot." - Charlotte Mendelson, for @newyorkermag Just look at my cousin @wms2herman 's gorgeous leaves upstate! Reflecting on what was and will be is beautiful every fall, but I wish I were in Duchess County where the scenery matches the mood. 📷 by @jessssicasotoo 🍁🍂🏵️😍
"Hike? I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them." -John Muir
This was a year of hard lessons, corrections, healing, and hope. New Years is yet a stretch away, but already I'm turning my eye to 2018 and everything I want it to be. Inspired by a workshop at @centerformindfulliving my mother invited me to yesterday and the balm that is Saturday night drinks with my best friend, I worked this morning on a vision board for next year. Where I want to travel, how I want to live, the work I want to do, the way I want to remake my body, the way I want to dress. But I don't feel the need to wait until January to get a jump on making the coming year one of abundance. I want to get this adventure started now. Here's to more time spent with people who feed, heal, and inspire. Here's to cutting out sources of stress or fear. Here's to healthy boundaries, to not giving away too much, to saying "no" more. To making my home a safe and peaceful space where I can retreat and recharge. To dinner parties with beloved friends, to good wine in small doses, to eating plants, to seeing new places. To hand-written letters, new and better essays, to being brave. To getting healthy and being real with sweet sisters like @flannelsecrets , @paige wiencke, @karaomakesthings and @aubreyumami , and all the true friends I haven't made yet. Here we go!
In case you missed it, my feature for @uproxx on @lostlakefest went up yesterday! I recap what it was like seeing @chancetherapper 's first show since his Grammy awards came in the mail, and his last show of festival season before catching a vacation in my own back yard, down in Atlanta, Georgia. I hadn't heard much of his music before this show, to be honest, but i loved it when he told the crowd, "There is one thing more powerful than the strongest person in the world. And that's a fearless person." 💙
Yesterday I met up with a student who had asked to interview me for a college project, and when she asked how I started freelancing, I almost started to cry. I was trying so hard to hold it together as I explained that I knew deep down if I didn't write, I wouldn't be ok. And this poor girl had no idea why I was having all the feelings, or about everything I'd been through up to that point, or everything I'd go through after I started writing for a living. But it was a really real moment, and I'm here still doing it, still feeling like I would break if I stopped. There was a moment at Lost Lake when I misunderstood a @runthejewels line as "I'm a writer and a provider and I don't take shit." And today my recap of @lostlakefest is live on @uproxxmusic and I'm just so damn grateful for the past three years. Link in the profile and all that jazz.
Rabbit, rabbit. What a wild month October was! I kicked Libra season off in Greece, saw @kaitmairi and @j___stin get hitched, started a new job for the ASPIRE program, fostered a baby kitten, saw @oyster goes.hiking off to a new state, and got sent on a whirlwind assignment to cover @lostlakefest for @uproxxmusic It was a hell of an adventure, but no wonder I'm wiped and want to spend all my time drinking tea and nesting. November should be a month of reorganization, writing, and (cross your fingers ) finally getting my house put back together! And going back over all my amazing memories from the month before. 💛✈️🇬🇷🌵🍹✌🏻🌅🎸
On a rainy, chilly fall day, I cant help but recall this fine fellow patiently waiting on his human to finish his breakfast in the @woodstockshindig Alley. This was before @flannelsecrets and I got our coffees and strolled up to @goldenotebookbookstore to peruse the stacks. It was Indian summer, though the leaves had started to turn, and later we got vegan beet tacos at @tinkertacolab It was my ideal fall day-- the leaves, the books, the coffee, the company. Who knew it would take so long to find fall again. 🍁🍂🌠
I'm usually a little melancholy coming home from a trip, but this journey home was too surreal for the blues. We were delayed in Athens, an airport-wide inspection issue. That brought us in after our connectinf flight to New York had passed, and so we drove bleary eyed in airlines coaches to some sprawling once-great hotel on the fringes of Istanbul. A drunk in the ally sang me lullabies outside my window and cats begged us for the grilled chicken the starched waiters brought all us weary pilgrims. We were up at 3AM to go back to the airport and wandered faux bazaars to a soundtrack of lovelorn Turkish pop better suited to the night clubs where revelers were no doubt still slinging back raki and filling the dance floors. I patted samples of designer lotions under my eyes and ogled the savory Turkish pastries in big baskets at the coffee stand. And then we were in the air, for the strange ceremony that is flight. And here we are sometime later, in another great city, remembering the other old sprawling port towns we've seen.
Most of the people at this resort are French, so the boat tour we took today of the Corinth Canal was en français. We had to give ourselves our own play by play with Wikipedia. Fortunately, this gorgeous stretch between Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf doesn't need any translation to enjoy. 🌊🇬🇷✌🏻
We went snorkeling in the Aegean today, off Kineta beach, and I kept thinking of οινωψ ποντος, Homer's wine-dark sea. This, from the Illiad: "Someday one will say, one of the men to come, steering his oar-swept ship across the wine-dark sea, 'there's the mound of a man who died in the old days, one of the brave whom glorious Hector killed.' So they will say, someday, and my fame will never die." And sure enough, this morning looking at the mountains running just back from the Megara coast, how much taller they must have been in Homer's time, how much more jagged. A rough landscape for rough men. It's not easy to coax the oil from olives and the wine from grapes, a living from rocky hills. And yet here so much began.
Nineteen years old, in an English castle. I used to feel guilty for traveling a lot, for being brought up in a family that prioritized an annual trip over a lot of other niceties. We never had good cars, but we always found a way to go abroad. And there I was, in my hand-me-down jeans and my grandmother's old blouse, on the first of what turned into several summers in England. I found ways to keep going back. And now I'm on my way to another country I saw young. The last time I was in Greece I was still a child, maybe thirteen. Hell, the last time I went to Europe was two years ago, on the opening crest of my last relationship. A lifetime ago. A whole self ago. And as always, I wish I had my grandmother to talk to about these bookmarks. About the way we come and go, talking of Michelangelo.
When you get stuck on that old Linda Ronstadt refrain, asking when you'll be loved and seen and heard the way you want to be, I think there's a second, more crucial question we actually need to answer even more. Start by asking if you are acting as if your own feelings matter. If you are taking yourself into account, if you are creating fertile soil in our own behavior where real respect can grow. If there is imbalance in your life, an absence, a differential, ask yourself how are you contributing to the conditions under which your needs aren't being met. Demonstrate to others the way you want and need to be loved.
Wish I were brunching on @flyingbiscuitatl 's fried green tomato BLT like last week, but instead I'm grinding this to-do list to get ready for another adventure at the end of the week. I'll be turning 31 in Greece 🇬🇷 this year and I can't wait. I haven't been since I was still a girl, and I can't wait to dig into all the fresh calimari, ripe olives, and bright wine I didn't appreciate (or wouldn't be served! ) back then. We had a little preview of Greek wine at my father's birthday dinner last night when my mom brought out a Hoof & Lur Moschofilero. And this is what matters, collecting these lovely little moments with the people you love best, wherever you find yourself.
It's such a special thing to get to share your hometown with loved ones from far away. For most I've my life I've only seen family when I travel to see them, and it's such a treat to get to show @flannelsecrets some of my favorite corners of Chattanooga. We got to catch up and I got to share a little of my context all while seeing a different side of the city I know best. We had coffee at @speeddeluxe and mushroom walnut burgers at @sluggosnorth and cocktails at @matildamidnight as Hurricane Irma rolled up to the Cumberland plateau and ever so many good conversations with @greg odea and @aliceodea at their cozy little house. 🐕🥑🍻🔥🍾🌭📚🎧🕉️🌱
@flannelsecrets and I were talking in July about how we need to do a girls weekend now that we both live down South. It would have been easy to keep putting it off for a few more months, but then Hurricane Irma started careening towards Savannah and it only made sense to turn an evacuation into cousin time. I can't believe Katie is actually here in my hometown (for the first time in a decade! ) it's kind of blowing my mind. So we're hunting down all the local beer and vegan fare, starting with pineapple tacos and avocado toast at @thedailyration , with Sadie the dog in tow. 🥑🐕🌮🌱🍻💅
Does the full moon have anyone else feeling very on? I often feel a lot of turmoil in the build up to full moon and the waxing period can see me anxious and creatively blocked. But the full moon tends to snap things into focus. I stop worrying and start doing. I think we need time for both contemplation and action, and sometimes we don't get to plan when we are up for what. And maybe it's not the moon, it's something more faithful or scientific or other than I can imagine. But the moon offers a good shorthand, an intuitive cycle of change I can map my self-observation against. After all, isn't art just a process of locating the self again and again in relation to all the various stars by which we make our way?
Growing up hundreds of miles from every branch of my extended family, I never expected to be best friends with any of my cousins. But then Ryan came to Chattanooga, in the middle of a boozy dinner party, on an epic road trip. And then he came back up to stay for a year as my next door neighbor. And then this year he moved in to Pumpkin House. I'm not sure what it's like to have a brother, but I do know this is the closest I'm going to get. And I don't know what I would have done without his support and occasional ass kicking and all the amazing times we've had drinking good beer, paddling the Sea King around, hiking these mountains and, once, eating fresh oysters and getting owl tattoos in Atlanta. This has been the most fun I've ever had. And I'm so glad it's finally about to be hiking g weather again.
When your best friend @paige wiencke recommends you hit up @shainaramsey for a new 'do and you return to how it was right before you went to Los Angeles for the first time and got tangled up in some dark magic for a weekend or a couple years. And you remember how you were feeling yourself back then, that weekend out west, and how you were actually bewitching. How what you were feeling pulled men to you like the tide. And now I'm feeling myself once more, but whole, and it's full circle and it's light.
It was a dreamy last summer weekend spent feasting on oysters and charred vegetables, exploring trails and lakes, chasing city lights and the eclipse, galavanting in grave yards, slinging darts, and sipping on all manner of good beer from @blackberryfarmbrewery and @monkeytownbrewingco I can't imagine a better last hurrah before settling in to the semester starting bright and early tomorrow. ✌🏻✨🎑🏞️🌓😂
For years I've felt like summer is a bit of a struggle. The heat stretches forever, and late summer is moody, never landing on storm or no storm so the air feels t nse and too close. I find myself craving not only cooler weather and the smell of smoke in the air but a return to the present and the sacred. Not the old fashioned kind, which has never been for me, but what I find healing and forward propelling after a sticky season of treading water and fending off ghosts. I've been doing yin yoga more in the past week than in the past six months, and it's had me pulling the best tarot cards. Stretching out my restless legs and tender fascia. Memories stored in the ligaments of the hips like a mixtape. And I'm sitting in these liminal weeks between idyll and the semester, feeling fall on its way (however far off, it's coming ) and the next season of life about to start soon. ♎🌔🌠
I woke up this morning feeling so at peace. I have spent years living in the past and carrying it with me as a constant, close companion. But suddenly it seemed possible to let go of all that's come before, to wrap it in silk and nestle it into a draw with scented sachets of linen and herbs. To quietly slide that draw shut. While the house was still and quiet I drew a tarot card and got the Two of Cups, a card of communion and deep and abiding love. I felt weightless and untroubled. I am not the stories I have lived any more than I am the stars whose dust I am made from. Everything is light.
I wandered through the financial district, along the very oldest streets in Manhattan-- Broadway and Pearl. The steady grid uptown faded into winding medieval streets and the Old World banks and exchanges. The land weaves down to the water, and on a whim I took the Staten Island Ferry. A history of the city I picked up at the Strand later that day said that when the Dutch first came to Manhattan every fourth building was a liquor store or tavern—this, too was once the frontier. Wall Street was once a wild place.
My grandmother in Israel in 1983. It's so cool this morning. It won't be fall for a while yet, but summer feels like a ghost already as the breeze tousles the leaves of the chestnut oaks and black birch and beech. It feels right as I mentally prepare for going home Tuesday, the summer's adventures done. I have a syllabus to finalize this year, because this fall I will be teaching, not taking, classes. And I want so much to know how Florence felt at the end of a trip, full canisters of film tucked into her backpack, postcards sent, and a plane ticket in hand to go home to a small town that was both beloved and restlessness inducing. She did that all her adult life, coming and going like the tide. And now it's time again to pull in close to the shore.
"Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? – Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and plaster – tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What do they here?" -Herman Melville
The last time I was here, in the city, I felt myself standing on the lip of something, but I didn't know what it was yet. I hadn't started writing for a living yet, not really. I had a little column. I had a straight job. I remember sitting on a bench in Washington Square park. A week before, I'd published the bravest thing I'd ever written, but I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about the scent of the city, and my new coat, and the fire escapes clinging to the side of the buildings in Chelsea. I was concentrating on the sensation of becoming. I could feel a palpable tension in my life, like the pressure that precedes a storm. I had just turned twenty eight. And now I'm back, almost three years later and almost thirty one. In between everything changed. I took a leap of faith. And here I am again, freelancing now and I keep glancing at this view of the Empire State building out the window. This isn't where it started. But this is where I knew.
What is there to say about the people who raised you, who made you, who hear you and see you, who believe in your becoming because they've seen it from the start? Who know better than anyone that you will be alright, because you had it in you all along. The is an inadequacy of language there as there is in English for almost everything real.
It's hot and sticky Southern summer. Sunday. Striking out on flea markets. Swimming through the thick air. You'd think I'd have gotten used to everything bring closed or opening late after church after a whole life down here, but no. It's a surprise every weekend when I forget the contours of the average schedule and am in a Saturday mood a day late and finally done with work. But that leaves space to wander to explore with no real destination in mind, and let the imagination run wild. . . . . #summergoth #postthepeople #makeportraits #thisisme #barbecue #southernfood #exploretennessee #thisishome #livetruestories #neverstopexploring #weekendvibes #nothingisordinary
Can't wait to squeeze this little moosh tonight after a wild day of trying to get home without my drivers license. 😳Whoops. Thanks to TSA for helping a Tennessee girl not get stranded at Buffalo-Niagara!
Back in my very favorite kitchen. 💛🍷🍨🍴🍝
Up before the sun to head to this neck of the woods. A quick stop in Chicago O'Hare and I'll be touching down in Buffalo by the afternoon. It'll be just the right right time of day for a Genesee Cream Ale. And the best part is getting to Batavia in time for dinner with grandpa.🤘🏻✈️🍺
My sweet friend @aubreyumami got me a bottle of rose to cheer me up when life was a little rough, but I saved it for when things got better. I got to spend the week working hard at a career I love. I powered through anxiety and poured myself into an essay I've been day dreaming of. This time next week, I will be sitting in my grandfather's house drinking chilled merlot out of his antique Pigeon's Blood glasses, just like these. My mother surprised me with my own matching set for Christmas two years because she knows how special his glasses are to me. I think of him whenever I use them. A storm is rolling in, and I feel like myself, finally, after so many fits and starts. ✨🌾🍷🌹💛
Have you ever noticed there are some things you only eat in certain places? I'm not talking Chicago deep dish here. I could eat breakfast cereal anywhere, but it wouldn't be the same as in my grandpa's shallow white Corningware bowls, on the bench at his kitchen table, with the same blue wallpaper and the warm morning light. Can you tell I'm counting down to being back in one of my very favorite places and very favorite houses on earth?
The only way I know how to explain growing up in the South is like this: you have to learn hold space for multiple truths simultaneously, until till it's a reflex. I learned to ride a bike at Chickamauga Military Park, and remember many beautiful, idyllic childhood afternoons there. It was also the site of a terrible Civil War battle, with terrible casualties. The past two days @oyster goes.hiking and I have been playing out on the lake in his old 1970s Sea King canoe, exploring Harrison Bay and Booker T. Washington state parks. They are side by side, on the same lake, the later a ways down stream from the former. They were segregated when first built, and you still see the legacy of that in practice. An idyllic weekend of perfect weather and pretty little coves, and always pressed against that is the ugly history of the place, the way we are still living it in so many ways. Winking across the lake from the fishing piers dotted with old men untangling line is the Privateer Yacht club. It's easy to learn to hold metaphoric space for all the parts of this place when the physical space is so neatly, compartmentalized, too. But it's up to us to merge them, to remember these stories and sit with them, sort them, until we see nothing is as far apart as we first thought.
Sometimes I feel so antsy still living in my hometown. In many ways, this was never what I expected for my life, and sometimes I wonder how I wound up buying a house here at 26. As a teen I always pictured myself traveling to India, going to school in Canada, studying abroad in Egypt, driving alone cross-country to California. And I do travel, constantly, compulsively, but I've never experienced living long term in another city, or making another part of the world a settled and proper home. But for all I once dreamed of moving to Morningside Heights or the English countryside, as much as I wrestle with the pull Chattanooga has on me, there are days like this when the storm clouds roll in over the ridge, and the light is perfect, and I am in a coffee shop/motorcycle emporium that could only exist here in the way that it does listening to Television and the Smiths and Morphine. The barista recognized my shirt from a Gaslight Anthem show I saw years ago. I've run into my best friend on my new circuit around town two days running. And I can't imagine ever not having these green, humid Tennessee summers, this light, this familiarity.
We had little lunch at @mainstreetmeats and they gave my dad a free Pop's Pour of @bellemeadebrbn I asked what he was going to do with the rest of his day. "Read, I think." "You should read something with a dad in it," I said. "Like To Kill a Mockingbird, or King Lear." "I'm not sure King Lear is the best pick there." "It's about a dad. Just a dad whose daughters didn't take him out to lunch." "No, they definitely didn't take him to lunch. They really, really didn't." 😂
It might be the best hot dog on the planet: the Slappy Pappy Super Sloppy at @dirtyfranksdogs 🌭 It's a must-try in Columbus, a city of must-try restaurants. From tacos and margaritas at @bakersfieldsn to hangover brunch at @starliner_diner to the best burger beef or non at @northstarcafe , to the pineapple vodka at @martinimodernitalian , I eat my way through Cbus every time. I never manage to hit every place I want to nosh no matter how long I stay. And the beer competition is even worse! I think I'm still buzzed from when @oyster goes.hiking took me on a Cbus brewery tour last summer! 😂 Next summer I'm determined to go up for #prideweek and the drunk spelling bee at @oddfellowsliquorbar ! @karaomakesthings and I were just barely too late this time around. 🌈 🍸 🌮
One of my thesis essays, "In the Palace of Marriage and Commerce" is up at Manifest Station, picked this as part of their Young Voices series. It's always strange filtering through your past, and the options we have as women. The gap between what we hope for and the things you don't have planned. The space we make. The places that shape who you are. Link in profile!
Growing up, I thought Ohio was one big suburb. Twenty years ago, I didn't know, and it didn't know, that it was going to become a city known for art, Pride, good food, and good beer. I think I love it so much in part because it's a place that understands becoming, that's built on it. The Midwest is seen as such a solid, unchanging place, as steady as meatloaf and simple as boiled potatoes. But it grew up. I did too, somewhere else, as did a lot of the people coming here. We are what we are. But we evolve. We grow. We make the most of what we are, and what we hope to be. Life can be art if you treat it as such. Cities can be crafted, too. #livetruestories #ohioexplored #ohiostories #ohiogrown #cbusreflections #columbuscrew #livetravelexplore #myohioadventure
It's been a hell of a year. When I turned thirty in the fall, I was so ready to work on myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was excited to wrap up graduate school in December, and have time to slow down, start therapy, and move my relationship to the next level. And then my partner left. It seemed like everything halted. I focused on nothing but the logistics of the split. And for a time it seemed so mundane, the mourning. Love was nothing but one more bad habit to overcome. On some level I knew I was merely floating on the surface of a deep cenote of grief, as Ariel Meadow Stallings of @offbeatbride called it when writing about her divorce. I knew I'd have to dive deep into it some point, but I didn't know when I'd be ready. And just as I felt myself coming to life again, I was laid off. I lost my dream job, the one I'd had for two years, the one that let me have the lifestyle that kept me afloat post breakup. And that's when I got sucked underwater. All that delayed grief hit me, hard. I spent all my time and energy not on all the lovely goals and beating of bad habits I'd looked forward to, but on just trying to keep from drowning. It was formless and artless, my grieving. I flailed my way through it and it was ugly and hard. But here I am, still going. With a new job I like a lot. Hiking often and eating healthy again. Trying to process all the feelings I felt hard and atone for the ways I failed when I was struggling. I don't know what I mean by all of this, except that it's June, almost half way through 2017. I'm still here. And I am curious to see how all this will have changed me when there is distance enough to take it all in.
"Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone." -Miller Williams
We went on a six mile urban hike today that ended at @taphousechatt We went from wetlands and former Indian mounds to a sculpture garden, past the @rbfestival barge, through a new neighborhood, and into the overgrown wilds of old factories and foundries. Walking through Chattanooga history a mile at a time. I love exploring cities on foot when I travel, and it's been a treat to do it in my own back yard on a pretty Sunday. 🤘🏻
Oh my heart. Returning to optimism isn't easy. I want to be cautious and still. Quiet and reflective. But there is too much beauty out there to stay like a stone. Even the thorniest plants in the driest places know when it's their time to bloom. After rain, in the dead of night, under full moons. It won't be long before it's my time to breathe color and light again.
I find myself thinking about New Orleans a lot lately. Hitting up my favorite honky tonk in Nashville this week to work on an essay, I got a whiff of the same kind of cleaner that New Orleans is drenched in. I think back and can feel the sticky heat and smell the smell of piss and Fabulosa, taste the salty brine of olives and crawfish heads, the slick, bitter sweet of sazeracs. There are so many places I want to visit for the first time and others I need to go back to. Again. Alone. I love to return and rework places. And I feel a new collection of essays coming on.
Traded the Rocky Mountains for the Smoky Mountains. Denver to Asheville. Forever restless, forever pacing cities back and forth. Flyover country is nothing but a red string of fate tracing trails and highways. Cities cast their shadows on the self, shaping you in their image. I'm always searching, always shapeshifting, always tangled up in other pasts and places and people and pages gone by.
Love that this little day pack I took on the AT sections @oyster goes.hiking and I did this weekend is the same one my grandmother used for her adventures. My cousin @wms2herman 's home used to sit right off the trail, and her family would invite hikers up to the house for snacks and a beer. They would join my grandmother's big gaggle of kids for several days on the AT, giant 1970s packs and heavy canned food and all. The kids would play SPOONS at the campsites, a tradition my generation carries on at our family reunions. There are a lot of stories tied up in this pack. What are some of your favorite outdoor memories? #outdoorstories
It was completely worth the struggle to reach this view. We clambered up 500 feet in under a mile. I threw up on the side of the trail, sick all morning with food poisoning. But there were mountain laurels, and rhododendron and trillium and clover and daisies. There was sweat and grit and conviction. My first section of the Appalachian Trail. And this view, oh this view.
Beautiful blooms from @sceniccitysupperclub and @tanthillfarm Learning so much this spring about home, and family, and what that means. The ways that it does and doesn't come down to place. About what promises mean, and loyalty. And how wherever you are, it always feels most like home when there are fresh flowers. My favorite time of day now is the morning, when it is still inside but everything outside seems to be moving quick- the cardinals in the yard and the joggers on the street and the city bus up on the main drag. In the morning I can hear it call the stops, one street at a time. It's hard to pinpoint when the quiet and cool breaks and I join the rest of the fast moving world but for a series of moments there it's me and the flowers in a liminal, luminous place.
"Joy is not a drowning substance. Let it soak you." A lovely line from @quincemountain that I found in @blair_braverman 's essay on their love. That feeling when you run across the right words at the right time that you didn't know you needed to hear. ✨💛
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calla to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -- over and over announcing your place inthe family of things. -Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"
It was around the time I was crying at the Botanical Gardens I realized I'd spent most of my trip weeping off and on. I cried as the plane took off from Nashville. I cried in the pretty little room I rented right off a lovely garden. I cried at @averybrewingco and I cried at the art museum and I cried on more sidewalks than I can count. The reasons don't matter, and they were different each time. But it was a beautiful thing. I cried compulsively, helplessly the way an eye waters when a piece of grit is caught under your lid. I cried the way rain washes sandstone dust off the front range of the Rockies into the basin where Denver sits just off the Great Plains. At first I thought it was the altitude. And then I thought it was the eerie feel of the whole place, like America's Yorkshire moors. I talked to @karrie higgins about the uneasy feel Denver has, an almost supernatural quality. But in the end I think it was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I came to Denver and it made me surrender a veneer of toughness, of commitment, that I was too tired to sustain. And so I broke in the best way. I let go. I let the tears come. There is no shame in mourning, in release. I came back home to the South, and it is cool here, and grey. I was welcomed by old friends and slept on a gold couch with a good dog. There is a sense of peace now, like old flannel, like the blankets in the basket at the foot of the bed.
I so wish I could talk to my grandmother about everything. If she and I had a set amount of time, I almost wish I could have never known her as a child just so I could pester her with questions now. I want to know what she thinks of my life and the ways it's the same and different. If I really did get my born-to-run gene from her. Why life seems safer and more manageable on the road. Sure, there are a few key differences. She was well on her way to five kids by now, and I'm loving the single life. Her vice was @benandjerrys Passionfruit Sorbet, and mine is craft beer...amongst many others. But our time together was when it was and as much as I wish I could have one real adult conversation with her, it would mean trading so many moments that made me who I am. Like my first trip to Denver, and my first trip without my parents. We went on @amtrak around the perimeter of the country, from Atlanta to NOLA to LA to SF to Denver to Buffalo. A tour of great cities. I remember feeling like Laura Ingles Wilder, another restless woman. She taught me how to travel. To preserve your own story. To live without brakes. To know there are women who are loved until death, despite and because of their wildness. I just wish she was here with me now to swap stories while I sip an @averybrewingco Dui Cochi. ✨✌🏻️🍻🏔🚵🏻💛
I used to take such pains with my appearance. Always wanting to be in bloom. I took care to always be put together, to have the right outfit. I painted my nails and kept liquid eyeliner in my purse. I did it because I liked these things, because it felt good to be feminine, to care for myself in small ways. And somewhere in the past two years I stopped. I sold my clothes, stopped wearing jewelry, let my hair be cut short. I became small. I bolted like an untended herb. So it's making me smile that yesterday I bought a pair of jeans- the first time in two years I've worn some. I painted my nails. I wear makeup again. It's for me, and only me. It makes me smile to feel in bloom. To be blossoming again after such a long, heavy winter.
Things these two have taught me: never say no to adventure no matter how scary it may seem. Do the kinds of things in your free time that make you so brave life's curveballs no longer throw you. If you off-road, you don't mind so much when life takes an unexpected course off the beaten path. If your idea of a good time involves summiting a mountain, climbing out of a valley doesn't seem like a challenge as much as a lark. When life hands you something unexpected, say yes.
I saw an opossum in my yard today. They are a good luck sign for me, tied to my history and my history at Pumpkin House. We have an affinity. Today I got good news for the first time all week, and I feel glad I saw the opossum when it came. Hope looked back at me with wide eyes and a soft snout. It shuffled off down the block behind the neighbors shrubberies. It's a fleeting thing. Not a thing with feathers but pattering in and out of the light.
The sweetest Saturday surprise from @jilleclarkmua : a delicious cinnamon roll from @breadandbutterbakers Perfect for rainy day feels after a tough week. Now to wrap up work and listen to some tunes. All the kindness shown to me today has me thinking of when Tori Amos invited Maynard to sing with her on "Muhammad, My Friend" and introduced him with the anecdote, "I call him up when I'm feeling terrible, and he sings me lullabies." It's the little acts of love.
I'm a planner. A do-er. I thrive on ambition, and ambition means keeping your eye on what's next. I'm the girl who cried on her sixteenth birthday because I hadn't done anything "great" like publishing the next great American novel. My daddy took me aside and told me that it was ok- I didnt really want to have done something great at sixteen. If you peaked early what would you do after that? How would it feel knowing you'd already done the best thing you'd ever do? When this photo was taken, I was so sure of the future. Of what it would contain. There was a path paved and ready. Since then it seems like nothing but last minute left turns and everything off course. I'm trying to remind myself that sometimes it's ok if plans get pealed away, if milestones aren't hit, if we fall short of our expectations. It's ok not to have a plan for everything. It's ok to give yourself over to unknowing. Perfection isn't real and control is an illusion and the only thing I can be certain of is how hard I'll try to rise to the occasion.