bests of the summer

though this has been a pretty shitty summer, there's still much to be grateful for:

blackberry shrub // our five-year old neighbor, jésus // walking downtown // winning the co-op's grocery giveaway // BOBBIT HOLE // tacos in philly with derek // birthday kayaking + rosé // twin peaks // fireworks on every street in chicago // lula's in logan square, twice // going back to where we had our first kiss // cardamom-sugared churros // the best kitchen sink // that perfect salad at the bread bar in hamilton // learning to like olives // jason molina reunion show // that bun at fika // the bright yellow walls of kira's room // ed ruscha at the nasher // and afternoon walks to the nasher // walking to rose's // LADIES' WEEKEND // spontaneously stopping at the botanical gardens in richmond for the solar eclipse // charcuterie boards for dinner // mark jarman and marie howe // kensington market in toronto // bar brunello with amy when she came to visit // working hard // max in town // valley forge with mom and dad // big thief // driving to charlottesville // niagara falls // "work harder, don't complain, spend more time alone" // mepkin abbey, where i am at peace // mossy banners // biking more // talking about pictures with fred, jaheim, jonathan and julian // how our new street looks like that one gordon parks photograph // drinking wine and reading that one night while amy cooked dinner for us // joan didion and marilynne robinson // singing the sanctus at holy family


the air is light blue today

Listening to this song all day long.

I really love this bag.

And Sarah Coakley:

"What also follows is that the silence of contemplation is of a particular sui generis form: it is not the silence of being silenced. Rather, it is the voluntary silence of attention, transformation, mysterious interconnection and (in violent, abusive, or oppressive contexts) rightful and divinely empowered resistance: it is a special 'power-in-vulnerability,' as I have elsewhere called it. Contemplation engenders courage to give voice, but in a changed, prophetic key."

(God, Sexuality, and the Self)

[Joshua Tree, January 2017, 35mm]


eleven zero one

We are moving into a new home this week and leaving behind our yellow house, a space that (minus the cockroaches) has been comfort and safety to me these past two years. I slipped on my wedding dress for the very first time in the bedroom, and a few months later put it on with my mother and sister by my side in that same room. It is the home Austin and I first came home to after our honeymoon, and the place where we have grown in love and understanding for one another. We have argued in this house, planted rosemary and lavender and mint in the front yard, built a raised bed with our own hands, strung lights in our backyard, hosted any number of bonfires and parties. We have filled this space with friends, over and over again, on air mattresses and at the dinner table, the leaves extended to fit as many people as possible.

I rode my bike by the yellow house a random hot spring afternoon in 2015, and thought, I want to live there. I memorized the address and looked it up online when I got home, and found out that it was a rental property, and due to be up for lease come the month that I needed to move. But, the realty company wasn't sure the current tenants would be moving. I spent that next month praying and riding my bike by it almost every day. I called the realty company every week to see if there were any updates, and finally heard word that it would actually be up for rent. It was a little more expensive than we anticipated, but a friend told us to go for it, that the first house that you live in as a married couple carries deep and meaningful memories, and that it would be worth it. So we did.

It wasn't until later that I noticed that the address 1101 was also our wedding date, November 1st—a silly coincidence, but one that makes me happy, and makes it seem fitting that it has been our first married house.


april + may books

1. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

In the span of a month, I had three people (two strangers!) tell me this was their favorite book, so I took that as a sign I should read it. The novel chronicles the forbidden young love of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, the latter whom eventually marries another man, a doctor, after much persuasion from her father. Márquez contrasts Dr. Urbino—a modern, rational man—with the wild and emotional love of Florentino Ariza, who remains devoted (albeit with quite a number of trysts) to Fermina Daza, even into old age. I don't know if I would say Love in the Time of Cholera is my favorite book, but definitely worth the read.

2. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison

I'll let Toni Morrison sum it up: "These speculations have led me to wonder whether the major and championed characteristics of our national literature—individualism; masculinity; social engagement vs. historical isolation; acute and ambiguous moral problematics; the thematics of innocence coupled with an obsession with figurations of death and hell—are not in fact responses to a dark, abiding signing Africanist presence. It has occurred to me that the very manner by which American literature distinguishes itself as a coherent entity exists because of this unsettled and unsettling population."

3. Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. by Edward Snow

It has been awhile since I carried around Rilke (Book of Hours) in my bag everywhere I went, and I thought I had 'outgrown' him, worn him out along with every other like-minded student at my college. Duino Elegies reminded me that I will never outgrow Rilke. I keep coming back to these words, especially: "Here is the time for the sayable, here is its home. / Speak and attest."

4.  Putting Art (Back) In Its Place by John Skillen

I was glad to read this delightful and necessary book by a friend and mentor. Focusing on the visual culture of medieval and Renaissance Italy, Skillen argues how art in lived spaces guides communities together into their shared calling. With ample examples and a call for the contemporary Church to return to this model, Skillen evades falling into nostalgia—though at times it seems his target audience is a first-year college student with little understanding of liturgy or history.

5. The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel

A quick, simple read—Heschel writes like a poet: "The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world."


on prayer | 20

"Such a deepening of vision will eventually also involve at some point a profound sense of the mind's darkening, and of a disconcerting reorientation of the senses - these being inescapable fallouts from the commitment to prayer that sustains such a view of the theological enterprise. The willingness to endure a form of naked dispossession before God; the willingness to surrender control (not to any human power, but solely to God's power); the willingness to accept the arid vacancy of simple waiting on God in prayer; the willingness at the same time to accept disconcerting bombardments from the realm of the 'unconscious;' all these are ascetical tests of contemplation without which no epistemic or spiritual deepening can start to occur. What distinguishes this position, then, from an array of other 'post-foundationalist' options that currently present themselves in theology is the commitment to the discipline of particular graced bodily practices which, over the long haul, afford certain distinctive ways of knowing."

(Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality, and the Self)


our dark greens of meaning

"What if we're here just for saying: house,
bridge, fountain, gate, jug, fruit tree, window,
at most: column, tower . . . but for saying, understand,
oh for such saying as the things themselves
never hoped so intensely to be. Isn't this the sly purpose
of the taciturn earth, when it urges lovers on:
that in their passion each single thing should find ecstasy?"

"How we waste our afflictions!
We study them, stare out beyond them into bleak continuance,
hoping to glimpse some end. Whereas they're really
our wintering foliage, our dark greens of meaning, one
of the seasons of the clandestine year—; not only
a season—: they're site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode."

R.M. Rilke, Duino Elegies

[New Orleans, disposable film, 2014]


we don't love like flowers

I am sitting at the studio where I work, "woman-ing" (as my boss says) the gallery for the Saturday brunch hours. A. and I slept in for the first time in a very long while and went to the farmers' market and ate lemon poppyseed muffins on a bench and talked about naming our future dog Poppy, which almost makes me want to get a dog. We are in an in-between space, frantically trying to figure out jobs and housing and whether or not we are staying in or leaving Durham. Everything feels fragile. A trip to the farmers' market at once feels sentimental (if we leave) and boring (if we stay).

I have been inching my way through John Berger's Portraits, reading an essay most mornings with my coffee, and being reminded how much I love reading about art. My two main goals for this year were really just to (a) read more and (b) take pictures. I have been doing both, and it feels right. It feels like where I ought to be. 

We have fennel and leeks and lettuce and peas and basil in our garden, and the first thing I do each morning is walk into the kitchen, open the blinds, and look out on the raised bed to see if anything looks bigger than the day before. They rarely do, but there is great joy when the fennel looks just the slightest bit healthier and larger, or the leeks look rounder and more robust.

These words have been on my mind:

"Let us return, then, to that anointing of his, let us return to that anointing that teaches within what we cannot speak; and because you cannot see now, let your role be found in longing. The whole life of a good Christian is a holy longing. But what you long for you do not see, but by longing you are made capacious so that when what you are to see has come, you may be filled...So God, by postponing, stretches the longing, by longing stretches the soul, by stretching makes it capacious. Let us long, therefore, brothers, because we are going to be filled.”
(Augustine, Tractate 4 on 1 John 2:27-39)

[The Guggenheim in NYC last November, 35mm]