Twenty-Seventeen

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A quotation from the walls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am
afraid. Folded in by the weight
of postcards and calls
links and 140 characters.
Always thinking about the invisible scales of equality  
between the unborn, the refugee, the immigrant, and those not living in privilege.

I am
certain that I have fingers
toes, a heart with blood pumping
slowly through my veins
as do you,
and them,
and us, but those that lead find
different ways to say
You Don’t Belong.

I question
my ability
my strength for this
test.
Yet I know that one cannot expect miracles
And God cannot do all the work

And so

Although I am afraid, I am certain. Although I question, I am ready.
I can be brave. I must be brave. I will be brave.


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Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr put up this panel during his talk for the Arlington County Library. I wrote about that talk here.

Whenever I begin writing my annual New Year’s post I take a look at what I wrote the year before. Here is what I said in January 2016:

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Rituals: Vote 2016

Dear America

I am standing in line to vote. It is the longest voting line I have ever waited in and admittedly not the longest citizens will wait today. It is winding, not unlike our first political cartoon that shows a fragmented snake, (1754, Pennsylvania  Gazette) split into seperate colonies. Below the image a proclamation from Benjamin Franklin “Join, or die.”

At the time this was a call for unity. A call for a fragmented people to come together. Today, that snake looks awfully familiar. For the last year I have had it coiled within me, an invisible knot in my chest, twinging when I thought about today. 

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Summer in October: Photos from Colorado

Inside Louis Dupuy's kitchen. A view down at the (not original) stove.
Inside Louis Dupuy’s kitchen. A view down at the (not original) stove.

Who says you can’t write about summer vacations in October? At the end of July I traveled to Colorado Springs for an epic family reunion. Naturally I couldn’t make a trip to a different state and not play tourist for a little while. I wrote about one part of my trip, a visit to Hotel de Paris in Georgetown for Saving Places.  The piece, which I had a lot of fun writing, is about the hotel’s proprietor, Louis Dupuy, a man who was a fugitive, journalist, and an infamous chef.

In addition to Georgetown I also spent a few hours in Denver, checking out the state capitol, the Emerson School (home of the National Trust Denver Field Office), and the Molly Brown House. The latter site is pretty great, mostly because it does what most historic houses do, but flips the perspective, telling us about Molly Brown’s legacy rather than just the male inhabitants. Continue reading “Summer in October: Photos from Colorado”

Alex and Mike: A Love Story

A few months ago two friends of mine asked me to do a reading at thier wedding, and after I offered to write it for them they said yes. I wanted to share the piece with you along with a recording of a portion I had to cut due to time constraints (and that it didn’t quite fit in with the broader piece). 

Here is the final reading from the ceremony this weekend. 

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Creative Collaboration: We are all the same

This morning I introduced one of my nieces, a ten year old, to the horrors of the Holocaust for the first time.  During a planned trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum we walked through Daniel’s Story – the exhibit directed toward children – and the Hall of Remembrance. When she didn’t feel comfortable going through the permanent exhibition with her parents, the two of us wandered around the National Mall talking about what she learned.

It was an important conversation for me and for her, and while I tread carefully on what details to share much of our talk centered around how Hitler intentionally separated people based on religion and other characteristics he felt were deviant (making a side connection to Harry Potter and Voldemort’s obsession with purebloods). Our conclusion was how ridiculous that assumption is because we are all, in the end, human beings.

This month’s Creative Collaboration looks at an image from S.Fell. Taken at the Baltimore Light City exhibition the image reflects the conversation from this morning. We are in the end all the same.

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Creative Collaboration: And The Waltz Goes On

The inspiration for this month is a waltz. Written by Sir Anthony Hopkins it was conducted by Andre Rieu and has quickly become one of my go to YouTube videos. The piece is at times melancholic and joyful all at the same time. 

For my submission (the only one) this month I thought I would try my hand at writing a very short story where the song is an invisible character. Written on my porch as the sun set (mood, it’s all about the mood) I tried to match each section of the story with one section of the composition.
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Creative Collaboration: Green

For March (we are running about a month behind in the posting) the creative collaboration team was inspired by this instagram from DixonBaxi, a creative company out of London (and the Baxi in the name is my cousin). I was struck by the the way the green and black took up space within the image creating shapes within shapes as they connected together. This month collaborators pulled together some poetry, another healthy dish for you to make, and a color study. Check them out below.


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WordPower

Words have power. Fact. We live in an age where anyone can say anything and be believed. An age where fact checking is only reliable if it aligns with your beliefs. Words. Have. Power.

But power to what? To sway, to innovate, to encourage, to bring hope – and in their absence limit important forms of expression necessary for real communication. A few weeks ago two events brought these thoughts to the surface. And while both cases are based in fiction there are real world implications.

Anthony Doerr and Me
Meeting Anthony Doerr.

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Creative Collaboration: In Dreams

IMG_0613It’s almost the end of March and I realized I never posted the creative collaboration from February. The inspiration that month was a phrase that hangs above my roommates bed, one that looks to our dreams as a refresh button.

I chose the framed image as inspiration for two reasons. The first was that it was a nice contrast to the beauty in last month’s image. The second is that the words force the reader to move along a continuum. As they slowly spread out in the space the last line is the closest to filling the full frame providing stability, strength. Filling a purpose.

And so this month we have three submissions. A photographic series, a musical composition, and a collage.

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Creative Collaboration: Snow 

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Snow by Rob Cannon
New Year’s resolutions are great, especially when you make them with a group of creative and talented friends.

As the last minutes of 2015 disappeared we talked about our hopes for the coming year, including a hope for inspiration. The result:  Creative Collaboration.

Here’s how it works:  At the start of every month one of us sends out a piece of inspiration including, but not limited to, a story, a quote, or a photograph. What comes next (after the inspiration) is up to the collaborators.  Each of us brings to the table a variety of talents – from sketch comedy to music, dance to cooking and a vision for how we see the world around us.

For January we kicked things off with this photograph by Robert Cannon. A gorgeous vista of the National Mall on a snowy morning evokes all kinds of imagery. The result of the first collaboration had the added inspiration of an East Coast blizzard. The result are fun, soothing, witty, introspective, and comforting (and one makes you really, really hungry). So without further adieu here is the Creative Collaboration for January. Continue reading “Creative Collaboration: Snow “