Summer To Do List

I was thinking about how fast summer was going by a few days ago. And I had this crazy notion I wasn’t living up to my full summer potential. Like I had been sitting in my apartment listlessly watching the hours drag by…and I knew that wasn’t true. I wanted to write down some things to do before summer ended, and also highlight the things I had already done. So this is my summer done/to do list. This summer has already been spectacular and I feel incredibly blessed to be living in such a fantastic city with a great community of friends.

Summer DONE list:

  1. Hung out with out of town friends. I love having people visit me and my city.
  2. Gone to the beach. Riis beach to be exact, which leads to my next item…
  3. Fulfilled my odd and freakishly stalker-like ambition of eating at all of the Ample Hills locationsI would freely describe myself as an Ample Hills addict. Hands down my favorite ice cream in the city.
  4. Waited in line and scored awesome seats for Shakespeare in the ParkI had never done this before.
  5. Did a crazy two-nights-sleeping-on-the-streets-experience to buy cancelation line tickets to HAMILTONWas it worth it? YES. Have I been listening to the soundtrack nonstop since I was in the room where it happened? DOUBLE YES.
  6. Lounged in Governor’s Island hammock groveSeriously, what’s better than a hammock?
  7. Scored tickets to the Brooklyn Pop Up Dinner. Second year in a row attending, and I’m still just as mesmerized by the sea of white and glorious table decorations.
  8. Attended a summer outdoor wedding. (Congrats again, Erin & Jon.)
  9. Camped out in Brooklyn Bridge Park for the 4th of July fireworks. My #1 favorite park in NYC.
  10. Went to multiple summer BBQs. Prospect Park is so close, and we’re definitely taking advantage of that.
  11. Learned new things at the Secret Science Club. Like how did I not realize there were FEASTING black holes and FASTING black holes? #terrifying.
  12. Gotten crafty with my community group. I have been so blessed by Liberty Church.
  13. Painted a mural in Bay Ridge. This one happened at the very start of summer, but I’m including it because I’m all about volunteering.
  14. Rode Jane’s Carrousel. Have wanted to do this ever since I moved here and just hadn’t gotten around to doing it.
  15. Gone on a city wide scavenger hunt. Sponsored by Open House New York. We didn’t get anywhere close to the top three teams, but we had a ton of fun.

Rest of Summer to-do list

  1. Visit two new beaches. I’ve got my eyes on you, Fire Island.
  2. Go to the Museum of Ice Cream. I mean, could I really NOT go to this??
  3. Go on some actual rides at Coney Island. I hear some roller coasters calling my name.
  4. Try two new ice cream places. You may have sensed that I really like ice cream. I haven’t been to Odd Fellows or that new Magnum NYC pop-up.
  5. Find a new summer jam. I’ve been looking forward to Relient K’s new release: Air For Free, as well as NEEDTOBREATHE’s Hard Love.
  6. Attend one of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! summer concerts. Again, located in my backyard, Prospect Park.
  7. Catch one of the Broadway in Bryant Park series. Free broadway? Yes, duh.
  8. Visit the Mo Willems exhibit at the New York Historical Society. I love his picture books. And so many of them are set in the city!
  9. Visit the Cooper Hewitt and see their pixar exhibit. Haven’t been to this museum yet, and it looks amazing.

This isn’t everything, but it’s a start. What about you? What exciting things have you already done this summer? Any ice cream recommendations?

Forever Awkward, But Always Amused

Yesterday I had an awkward/amusing exchange.

I was coming back up from a quick trip to the apartment basement (reserved solely for overdue laundry runs and trash drop-off). I was distracted by my phone and didn’t notice the elevator stop at the main floor. (You HAVE to use the elevator to get to the basement, otherwise I’d take the stairs.)

The door binged, I placed my iPhone in my pocket, and swung the door open. I quickly realized it was not my floor. What alerted me to this was not my superior observant capabilities (because, let’s be real, they should have kicked in MUCH sooner) but because of the baby sitting in the stroller in the lobby.

I stopped. The baby looked up at me. I looked back. Then I looked right. Then looked back. The baby was still staring at me, a sort of vacant, but also “what are you doing with your life?” expression. (Side note, how can a face be both vacant AND make you question your life in .223 seconds? This baby, man.)

Unfortunately, I had also partially stepped out of the elevator and was now unsure how to proceed.

Several thoughts ran through my head:

  • Why hadn’t I noticed this wasn’t my floor?
  • Why was that baby right in front of the elevator door, consequently blocking the only exit?
  • Where was the baby’s keeper?
  • Who leaves a baby in the lobby??
  • And in the way of an OUTWARD swinging door?
  • How did they know the exact distance from the stroller to the swinging door?
  • Should I wait for the parent to come back?
  • Isn’t there some sort of protocol for holding the elevator in this type of situation, like a Baby In Lobby Pending Parental Pick Up Clause?
  • But really, where was the parent?!??

I did what any normal person would do. I gave the baby a slightly apologetic look while quickly backing into the elevator, desperately pushing the “door close” button, hoping no one was watching. I definitely did not panic and kept my cool in this potentially awkward situation.

#CrisisAverted

A brief update…life, the universe, and everything.

Since the last time I wrote was 6 months ago, I figured I should give you an update on my life. Who knew these past several months would be so crazy? I mean, well, I guess I should have realized this would be the case. When has life never been full of surprises?

Since November I’ve…

  • written a novel
  • graduated with a master’s degree
  • traveled to Europe
  • traveled to California
  • lost beloved family members
  • watched my sister move to Japan
  • met award-winning authors
  • been published
  • picked up a freelance gig
  • accepted a summer publishing internship
  • seen dear friends wed
  • seen dear friends graduate and move away

Really, it’s been quite a year. And of course, I have loads of pictures.

This was one of the interior courtyards of a building in Budapest. It looked perfectly ordinary from the outside, but once we went inside to visit one of the agencies we were greeted with this view. The only downside I can think is having to carry groceries up several flights of stairs. I would live here in a heartbeat.

This was one of the interior courtyards of a building in Budapest. It looked perfectly ordinary from the outside, but once we went inside to visit one of the agencies we were greeted with this view. The only downside I can think is having to carry groceries up several flights of stairs. I would live here in a heartbeat.

We walked across the famous Chain Bridge that separates the Buda side from the Pest side of Budapest. We traveled up the stairs to Buda Castle. I'm fairly certain I left part of my heart in this city.

We walked across the famous Chain Bridge that separates the Buda side from the Pest side of Budapest. We traveled up the stairs to Buda Castle. I’m fairly certain I left part of my heart in this city.

The Széchenyi Baths in Budapest. Absolutely beautiful. Open 365 days a week. I learned that some men come every day when the baths open and they sit in the water and play chess against one another for hours. You can see the smallest glimpse of those men in the bottom right hand corner of this picture.

The Széchenyi Baths in Budapest. Absolutely beautiful. Open 365 days a week. I learned that some men come every day when the baths open and they sit in the water and play chess against one another for hours. You can see the smallest glimpse of those men in the bottom right hand corner of this picture.

Amsterdam. This place had special significance because I was able to visit the Anne Frank House and it was also featured in The Fault in Our Stars (which is coming out in theaters this June). It's crazy that I visited Indianapolis AND Amsterdam within a year of reading John Green's book.

Amsterdam. This place had special significance because I was able to visit the Anne Frank House and it was also featured in The Fault in Our Stars (which is coming out in theaters this June). It’s crazy that I visited Indianapolis AND Amsterdam within a year of reading John Green’s book.

We saw Wicked in London. It was quite spectacular and I loved it.

We saw Wicked in London. It was quite spectacular and I loved it.

Overlooking London from the very top of St. Paul's Cathedral. My mother had warned me that it would be a lot of stairs...and it was A. LOT. OF. STAIRS. It was quite a work out. But the view was more than worth it. SO worth it.

Overlooking London from the very top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. My mother had warned me that it would be a lot of stairs…and it was A. LOT. OF. STAIRS. It was quite a work out. But the view was more than worth it. SO worth it.

I've been fascinated with this building ever since my first visit to London. The Gherkin (as it's fondly known) is such a glorious structure. I got to the base and toured the art installations that were placed around this area for the 2013-2014 year.

I’ve been fascinated with this building ever since my first visit to London. The Gherkin (as it’s fondly known) is such a glorious structure. I got to the base and toured the art installations that were placed around this area for the 2013-2014 year.

We took a bus ride around the city to see some of the sights. Unfortunately, I had desperately wanted to ride the London Eye, but it was closed for construction the entire time we were in London. I was still able to admire it from afar though.

We took a bus ride around the city to see some of the sights. Unfortunately, I had desperately wanted to ride the London Eye, but it was closed for construction the entire time we were in London. I was still able to admire it from afar though.

One of the best museums I've been to. Such a glorious set of buildings and gardens. Every angle was interesting and engaging. I could have spent days at the Getty Center. So. Good.

One of the best museums I’ve been to. Such a glorious set of buildings and gardens. Every angle was interesting and engaging. I could have spent days at the Getty Center. So. Good.

I loved seeing Frank Gehry's design. He's a fabulous architect and I enjoyed exploring the exterior of this building.

I loved seeing Frank Gehry’s design. He’s a fabulous architect and I enjoyed exploring the exterior of this building.

This was absolutely the BEST FRENCH TOAST I have ever had. It was some sort of egg brioche that was then covered in frosted flakes and came with a vanilla bean sauce that was heavenly. The fruit was also a fantastic touch.

This was absolutely the BEST FRENCH TOAST I have ever had. It was some sort of egg brioche that was then covered in frosted flakes and came with a vanilla bean sauce that was heavenly. The fruit was also a fantastic touch.

My friend took me to this lights exhibit outside the LACMA. It was fantastically cool and I loved it.

My friend took me to this lights exhibit outside the LACMA. It was fantastically cool and I loved it.

One of my loves: the ocean. Even though the water was a little bit chilly, I couldn't help strolling in the water.

One of my loves: the ocean. Even though the water was a little bit chilly, I couldn’t help strolling in the water.

This was on my journey up the California coast, I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and got to this beach just in time to watch the sunset. The view was glorious.

This was on my journey up the California coast, I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and got to this beach just in time to watch the sunset. The view was glorious.

Chinatown in San Francisco. I wandered down the streets before most places were open and it was nice to walk down the streets without very many other people. The emptiness was strangely soothing.

Chinatown in San Francisco. I wandered down the streets before most places were open and it was nice to walk down the streets without very many other people. The emptiness was strangely soothing.

Yes, I am a tourist. And it was my first time seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. How could I not take pictures from every angle? I also walked halfway across before getting cold and tired and heading back (I had been up since 5:15am and it was already around 3-4pm when I got to the bridge. I was ready to rest.)

Yes, I am a tourist. And it was my first time seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person. How could I not take pictures from every angle? I also walked halfway across before getting cold and tired and heading back (I had been up since 5:15am and it was already around 3-4pm when I got to the bridge. I was ready to rest.)

Andrés Neuman was the featured guest of the 2014 Puterbaugh Festival sponsored by World Literature Today. I got the chance to photograph the events and I was also invited to the photoshoot for the magazine cover. It was so cool.

Andrés Neuman was the featured guest of the 2014 Puterbaugh Festival sponsored by World Literature Today. I got the chance to photograph the events and I was also invited to the photoshoot for the magazine cover. It was so cool.

Graduated from the University of Oklahoma with my masters in Professional Writing. Next step: NYC and getting a job in publishing.

Graduated from the University of Oklahoma with my masters in Professional Writing. Next step: NYC and getting a job in publishing.

A Short Summary of My New York City Trip

I got the opportunity to travel to New York City last week and it was definitely one of the highlights of my year! I’ve dreamed of visiting for YEARS. So when I joined my school’s Magazine Interest Group and heard they were taking a trip to visit magazine companies in NYC, you can bet I jumped on that band wagon.

It was a whirlwind of site-seeing, magazines, food, and culture. I had an absolute blast. The magazines we visited: Departures, Real Simple, Brides,  Lucky, Harper’s Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated.

I wandered the city, seeing as much as I could with the precious amounts of daylight each day. My feet definitely hurt at the end of the day. But it was worth it. So worth it.

These are some of the photos I snagged during my 4 day trip. Hope you enjoy!

NYC Skyline

 

 

 

One of the first things I did: The Empire State Building. The view was absolutely fabulous. I could have spent hours there.
Atop the Empire State Building

 

 

 

 

 

Such a glorious view. Every angle was interesting. I loved this little viewfinder, patiently waiting to show off the view.

Times Square

 

 

 

 

And I (of course) went to Times Square my first night. How could I resist? It’s one of the first things people think of when they picture NYC. And it most certainly did not disappoint. Especially loved all of the Hunger Games!

The Subway

 

 

 

 

I loved the subway. So many people each going their own way. And contrary to popular belief, I did not run into any mean New Yorkers. Everyone I stopped to ask questions or directions was nice.

 

 

Time Inc.

 

 

Time Inc. One of the major buildings that hosted some of the magazines we visited! It was absolutely amazing to talk with these editors and assistants and hear about how magazines worked and their advice for people wanting to break into this industry.

 

NYC Streets

 

 

 

I couldn’t get enough of the streetscapes. So much movement and color. There was always something interesting going on.

Delicious Food

 

 

 

 

 

My first meal in NYC: Le Pain Quotidien – a french bakery/cafe. I had a Grilled Chicken & Mozzarella di Bufala Tartine and it was absolutely delicious.

Shake Shack

 

 

 

 

 

Another fabulous meal: a burger, fries, and shake from the Shake Shack. Basically the east coast version of In-N-Out Burger (one of my all time favorites.)

2 Bros. Pizza

 

 

 

 

And NYC is famous for having these little hole-in-the-wall $1 pizza slice places. These are THE GREATEST. Probably one of the best deals of NYC. If you have a dollar, you have pizza. AND they’re open late. Double score.The Strand BookstoreGrand Central Station The Chrysler Building  Standing outside of the NYC Public LibraryThe Original Winnie the PoohWhere The Wild Things AreCentral Park Foliage Beautiful Trees in Central ParkCentral Park      

   Sailing in Central Park     The Met

Guggenheim MuseumGoodbye, NYC...I'll be back soon!  

 

 

We also visited The Strand, the largest independent bookstore in NYC. So many aisles of books! They boast over 18 miles of books.

 

 

 

 

 

And how could I NOT visit Grand Central Station? They were celebrating their centennial! So that was pretty neat as well.

 

 

 

 

 

I also stopped by the Chrysler Building. I’m a big fan of art deco, but unfortunately it was closed. My friend told me it had gone bankrupt, so I don’t know what is going to become of it…

 

 

 

 

 

Me on the New York Public Library steps. Whenever I travel to new cities I always try to visit either a library or a bookstore. I can’t help but gravitate towards book-oriented places.

 

 

 

And the NYC public library was running this FANTASTIC exhibit: The ABC of it: Why Children’s Books Matter that featured so many timeless classics and new favorites. This is the original Winnie the Pooh.

 

 

 

 

Inside a playful Where the Wild Things Are cut-out. One of my all time favorite children’s books. Their exhibit was excellent because it had elements for adults and children.

 

 

 

 

I walked through Central Park for a few hours. The fall colors were BEAUTIFUL. I Could not get enough of that fall color hue. It was a lovely day. I could have easily spent my whole day there if I didn’t have other things I wanted to see.

 

 

 

 

BUT SERIOUSLY, HOW COULD YOU EVER GET TIRED OF THIS? I was having a heyday taking all of these pictures.

 

 

 

 

Central Park is huge, expansive and beautiful. I thought I had been walking for miles and I felt like I had gone so far. But when I looked at my phone’s map, I realized I hadn’t even gone a mile.

 

 

 

 

 

They had remote-controlled sailboats and they were fun to watch. I absolutely love this picture. The contrast of dark and light and the darker hues of the reds and oranges in the background. Love.

 

 

 

I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a few hours. It was also SUPER VAST. And I’ll admit that I got lost trying to make my way out. And, fun fact: when I got back home, I saw an article that said Psy (Gangnam Style) had visited the Met the SAME EVENING I was there! How crazy is that?!

 

 

The last place I visited on my free day was the Guggenheim Museum. I’ve seen this building in various movies/places for years. So when I saw they had pay-what-you-want hours from 5:45-7:45pm every Saturday, I had to go. Such a cool piece of architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

 

 

 

One of my last views of the city. The taxi ride to the airport. I was sad to say goodbye, but I know I’ll be back soon.

Slanted Reality

Slanted reality - looking at the world from another direction.

Slanted reality – looking at the world from another direction.

I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. Here’s a picture I took the other day. I’ve been wanting to try out some of these experimental puddle/reflection/abstract pictures and so yesterday when it rained, I seized my chance. I know I looked weird crouching on the pavement, moving my iPhone one way and then another, but I wanted the perfect angle. A couple of cars drove by, and I wished they’d slow down so I could cheerfully wave my hand and tell them I was in fact, not insane, just a photographer. Still, I like how the photo turned out.

I wish I could freeze time

I’m at Barnes and Noble for an extended period of time because there’s no Internet in my newly acquired apartment. I’m in Indy, btw, so YAY! It’s been a crazy couple of days, that’s for sure. Working on settling in and finding out what’s in the area.

But what struck me as I was sitting in the cafe, was a family of four. I can’t help but look up and gaze at the people around me and wonder, imagine backstories, tidbits of trivia. The writer in me is always dreaming and plotting.

But across the way was that family of four. They entered the cafe, sat down at a table and after five minutes moved to another table. They waited, and eventually their Starbucks drinks arrived. Even though the two children were fairly young, the little boy probably around 8 or so and the girl around 11, they all got Starbucks drinks.

But this is the moment I wanted to capture, the moment I wish I could freeze in my mind, the snapshot of family and love portrayed: the little boy took a drink and made some strange gesture, some noise, some face that alerted the rest of the family to his plight. I looked up to find the mother gently stirring his drink, a small smile on her face, the sister facing her brother and smirking, and the father in the corner, trying hard to suppress his grin. For a tense moment it was quiet, and then the little boy burst out laughing, quietly, but loud enough to draw my attention away from my screen.

It was just as the little boy’s laugh gave way that the mother, sister, and even the father joined in. And that perfect moment, where all four were laughing, their heads leaning towards each other and the center of the table, caught completely in their own mirth and completely unaware of the rest of the world. That was the moment.

And just like that, I fell in love with the family.

My Morning Commute: Snow Edition

Morning CommuteCall me a winter person, but there’s something remarkably refreshing about a brisk, cold walk through a snow enveloped land. Something about the crisp air and the seemingly damp & dreary atmosphere makes me reflective.

I feel Narnian.

I want to curl up and write a novel.

I could dismiss all my responsibilities and traipse through the snow for the perfect picture.

But the back of my mind tells me I can’t. It stomps the rampant thoughts and ideas whisking through my head. It brings me slowly back to reality. My duties. My work. My commitments. And then I console myself by marveling at the landscape. Taking in every last morsel of winter and wonder. It’s what I’ll store in my head as I work. What I’ll do come back to eventually.

A promise. Soon.