Vuelos

I don’t write and take pictures anymore, other than the small pieces that fit through the screen of a smartphone. So it’s March and I am just now looking through the photos I took in December, when we went back to Michigan for the holidays. Winter in Michigan is probably what I miss the least, but I do miss the people there, and the colors that are so bright and surprising in the middle of gray days.

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

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Distances Crossed

(You might be suspicious that I am sorting through and posting photos more than once every couple of months. What are you avoiding, you might ask? Wrapping up progress reports – that’s what.)

When moving from Michigan to California, we contemplated various methods to get two adults, two cars, one cat, some furniture, and lots of boxes across the country. In the end, we decided to sell one car and tow the other behind a moving truck.

Transitions

This involved a very long drive, a very sad cat, some terrifying mountain driving, and the limited food options available when one is tied to a very big truck and a very sad cat. (The notable exception was staying with my sister in Kansas City, and eating fresh vegetables from her garden.) However, I am glad we did this rather than flying out and shipping things. One of the things I appreciated about walking the Camino was the concrete nature of spaces traveled: seeing the hills in front of you as you climb, and the towns you have passed through behind you in the distance. Moving away from our home state has been a big transition, and airplanes still feel too much like magic. (Eyelids close and open to new cities and new climates, spread out below you beneath glass.)

I needed 2000 miles to feel like 2000 miles, and to see the scenery change as we crossed the country to the West Coast: The rain and red-touched leaves of Michigan turning to Illinois fields, Missouri corn, flat empty expanses of Kansas and Oklahoma, the hulking farm equipment of Texas, the vibrant colors of New Mexico, the mountains flattening out into desert in Arizona, and the final sunset over the hills of California, waiting for the coast. We also got to visit family along the way – my sister and brother-in-law in Kansas City, and my husband’s grandparents in Phoenix.

Now those long hours and distances have shrunk back onto a map, and some images seen through a dirty windshield.

Transitions

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Just over the last hill

Postcards from the Mitten State

I often lug my camera around, but I am really bad at sifting through the results in a timely manner.

I have also neglected this personal blog in favor of a new teaching blog. (Knowing my tendencies to neglect my personal life, this should not be a surprise.)

Spring and Summer were both chaotic and emotional, navigating preparations to move and goodbyes to students, coworkers, friends, and family. (And even while looking for jobs in warmer climates I was aware that other states might not have the same magic of a Michigan Spring.) Here are some snapshots.

Spring Planting Day Read more of this post

The Long Winter

This winter was harsh here. Like a trauma, it had to pass before I could write about it.

I took pictures. School was cancelled a lot. I spent many hours gripping my steering wheel and inching across slick roads. I lost sight of bare pavement for months.

Mostly I hid under the covers, wrapped in my red sheets, and watched the days slide by – world soft & white or wet & dark.

Discontent settled in around me, like dust on shelves. I didn’t brush it off. I wrote my name in it, on every filthy surface.

Spring came, and we got drunk on the rain and the excess warm air. Neighbors stumbled out of their doors, to shed layers, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, shout up the street, ride bikes, to sing or shoot guns, somewhere far away.

For me the dates on the calendar are pointed inward. Square boxes become curved lenses, and inside I am still disastrous. Fairy lights reflected in puddles are burning cities, for no good reason. If there’s nothing to flee, I lose direction.

This is nothing new – this is the same every year. Ice to mud to green. I relearn everything, every time.

 

the long winter - 01

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A few belated pieces of August

It has been a very busy year, and I haven’t shared much here.

Suffice to say that August in particular was a very busy month.
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* Thanks to my sister for the photo of us (and the rest of the dancers.)

Looking Down On Cities

Last year I did a 365 Project, partially as a challenge to myself as a photographer and partially as a way to document what I guessed would be a year of transitions. As it turns out, it was. I finished my Fulbright year in Spain, traveled on my weekends, walked the Camino de Santiago, got engaged, and returned home to familiar spaces in Michigan to start a new job in Detroit.

Screen shot 2013-01-06 at 12.58.47 PM

Many distances were crossed – by plane, train, bus, car, but sometimes on foot.

I am working on a new creative project for this coming year, but it won’t be a daily photo project – partially because the tail end of the year degenerated into commuting/grading/cat pictures, and it’s hard to measure up to last year’s images.

I had a lot of adventures in 2012. I met a lot of amazing people, and traveled to some incredible places. My favorite parts of my travels were always the times when I climbed to a high place – often at sunset – and looked down on the cities I had spent the day exploring.

I learned a lot about travel this past year, and a lot about myself as a traveler. In the future when I go to a new city, that will be my destination – somewhere I can see the shape of the city, where small individual details dissolve into twinkling lights, and the iconic buildings from postcards become small silhouettes, dwarfed by the sky.

Granada - Ciudad Encantadora

Looking down on Granada from Miguel Del Alto. (Photo by my new Brazilian friend, Carolina.)

Granada - Ciudad Encantadora

Granada – actually in late 2011, but it was the beginning of a year of looking down on cities.

Barcelona

Barcelona, from Parque Guell.

Navidad en Madrid

Madrid, last Christmas.

Paris

Paris, from Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.

Roma

Rome for Easter.

Roma

Ancient Rome

Pompei

The ruins of Pompeii

Naples

Naples

Senderismo en Jávea

Jávea / Xávia

Tabarca

Tabarca – not a city, but a small island off the coast of Alicante.

Senderismo en Calpe

Bird’s Eye view of Calpe, after a harrowing climb up the Peñón de Ifach.

Morocco

Marrakesh, Morocco, from the roof of our riad.

Aït Benhaddou, Morocco

Aït Benhaddou, Morocco – you have probably seen it in a movie.

Morocco

Not a city – but the Berber tents where we stayed in Zagora, at the edge of the Sahara.

Among all of the beautiful cities, my favorite was Alicante, where I lived for 10 months and that I often looked down on, from the heights of the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Nostalgia always adds a cast of golden light, but it was a beautiful city. Someday I will go back.

Santa Barbara

Sunset.

Tour de Alicante

All the lights lit for Christmas along Alfonso el Sabio.

Alicante

La Playa Postiguet, full of sunbathers.

358/365

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Family Christmas party today, in the community room at the new senior apartments where my grandparents are moving in.

301/365

I made Turkish coffee this morning for the first time in forever. Thinking about my friend Dayla and other Ypsilanti days, coffee and fortunes and hookah and the Arb (and probably falling asleep on her couch.)

287/365

 

Today I went to the wedding of one of my college roommates.

249/365

 

First day of teaching today. Thinking of my first year and how my fifth year is so different. Spent a quiet evening drinking wine and cleaning out my old jewelry box. Untangling fine chains and various items with vague nostalgia tangled up in them.

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