Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review

In the last 24 hours, I'd be willing to bet that about a million "best of 2013" posts have cropped up all over the worldwide interwebs. Personally, a "favorites of 2013" seems more appropriate for my taste/blogging, simply because I know that I really like these photos I'm going to share with  you, but they are not, by any means, the best

2013 was a great year photo-wise, adventure-wise, and pretty much everything-wise. Here's to an even better 2014!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite Books of 2013

Reading through other blogs, I realized--quite stupidly--that I read quite a bit (mayhaps just a smidge more than your average, college-aged bear), and that I should record my favorite books of 2013. Not necessarily that they came out in 2013, but simply that I read them in 2013. This is one of the first not totally photography-related posts I've had in a while, and I figure it's about time to give it a shot. 

(In no particular order:)

1. Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

In the past few weeks, I've been on a serious Sedaris kick. Aside from the one titled above, I've read: Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. There's no question that Sedaris' work is funny. What I love particularly about this one is the way he can recount a trip to Costco with such simple hilarity that I'm left sniggering creepily by myself, only making it worse because I'm trying to suppress it and not be creepy (like that ever works). Sedaris' stories sing, and the way he can weave seemingly-unrelated thoughts together so wonderfully astounds me. It's a fast read (I read it in a couple of hours one day), and it is most certainly worth your time. 

2. On Photography by Susan Sontag

After reading On Photography, it's undeniable that Sontag is a critical genius. If you have ever wondered anything about photography and its implications (not its technical side--*yawn*), Sontag's work is where to turn. It's thought-provoking, simple, and written beautifully. Her questions and answers spoke to me on a level I had not anticipated, and answered those questions more profoundly than I could have expected. The Times is quoted on the back, most thoroughly summarizing, "Susan Sontag offers enough food for thought to satisfy the most intellectual appetites," and it's wonderfully true. The book questions how we perceive ourselves, others, and the photos that have shaped modern history.

An excerpt: 

"The possession of a camera can inspire something akin to lust. And like all credible forms of lust, it cannot be satisfied: first, because the possibilities of photography are infinite; and, second, because the project is finally self-devouring."

3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

After listening to one of Aidiche's TED Talks in class (which you can find here), I knew I had to get my hands on one of her books, and this one practically leapt into my hands in a random bookstore in Derry. Finely crafted and enthralling, Aidichie's work does not disappoint. It's a simple tale with complex implications; it's a single story that should affect everyone, whether an uncomfortable immigrant to America or a comfortable (or perhaps not-so-comfortable) American. The questions she raises about race seem so obvious, so clear, it immediately becomes frustrating that there seems to be so little dialogue about them in the States. Read it for a modern take on some not-so-modern issues that our nation should have moved beyond long ago. 

4. The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling

I'm not just saying this because I'm an intense Harry Potter super fan. (Okay, maybe a little.) This book was a surprise. Not just for the media, but any reader of J.K.'s fiction. After growing up with the boy with the lightning bolt scar, this new novel is a breath of fresh air, especially in the world of detective/crime novels. Rowling writes with confidence, and her simple--yet surprisingly descriptive--prose should raise expectations for crime novels. It's not the best crime novel I've ever read (because this one will always take the cake), but it's good, entertaining, and worth a read. Way to go, J.K. I'm so proud. 

5. The Moth

(If you don't know anything about this wonderful podcast, click here.)

I got it for Christmas and am only about one hundred pages in, but it's just as wonderful as the podcasts.  I was initially worried that the stories would lose some of their beauty or their magic on the page, but I could not have been more wrong. The stories still possess their heart, their humor, and their ability to break your heart in a few words. It's wildly entertaining and just darn beautiful. 

* c h e e r s *

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Good Tidings

Whatever you believe, whatever you celebrate, I hope that this holiday season was filled with laughter, warmth (whether it came from a fireplace or classic, oppressive, Southern heat), inordinate amounts of delicious food, cake for breakfast (I partook. It was delicious), and oodles of rest (I actually just woke up from my second nap in two days. Productive? I think yes.). There hasn't been much photo-taking as I would've hoped these last few weeks, but then again, there rarely is enough to satisfy. I have a few projects brewing in my buzzing brain, and hopefully I'll get my act together enough to follow through with them and post them. 

One thing I am happy about, though, is that on one of the last nights I spent in Colorado, I went up to our roof and messed around with some long exposures. Here's my favorite:

More soon!

c h e e r s

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Leaving the Holy City

To put it simply, being back in the States is weird. People are louder, no one walks anywhere (nowhere I've been trying to walk, anyway), I have the freedom to actually drive places, breakfast doesn't need to cost more than $4, and I have access to internet whenever needed. What a wonderful world, eh? (I can hear a crowd screaming, "'Merica!'" in my head as I write this.)

Being back has made me re-evaluate the semester, and I now know that it's impossible to fully convey the breadth of my experience abroad in words (especially in a short blog post), so I've decided to simplify it and condense it into numbers and a video (embedded below) instead because that seems to be the most my befuddled brain can process at the moment.
Days abroad: 99
Cities visited: 25
Plays seen: 33
Papers written: 43
Pages written: 108
Words in said papers: 25, 073
Photos taken: 5,023
Time-lapses made: 7

That being said, I'm going to miss what Dr. Pate calls "The Holy City" (hence the blog post and time-lapse title). It's no Jerusalem, but it is divine. I know I will miss the bustling, the theater, the museums, and (of course) the delicious coffee, but, for the moment, I'm going to enjoy good, ole Texas: the land of breakfast tacos, the Alamo, and Whataburger. 

This is a time-lapse I made of some of my favorite spots around London, which includes: Russell Square, a walkway along the South Bank, outside of the National Gallery, a view of St. Paul's Cathedral, and two views from Waterloo Bridge, which is quite possibly my favorite spot in London. Videos aren't really my thing, but I'm trying to give this whole time-lapse fad a spin. Enjoy!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
--Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


As part of our study abroad program, we had the opportunity to travel to the Continent for 10 days. Some people ventured as far as Croatia (shoutout to Madison), while I decided to go to Paris and then to Chamonix, a small town in the French Alps at the base of Mont Blanc. I met Will and Sean in Paris and a train, a bus, and a couple of hours later, we were in Chamonix. Once there, we spent six days reading, drinking coffee, hiking, and simply taking in the hugeness (is that a word?) of Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains. On one of our hikes, we met the lovable Jacques (featured below), a dog who had a hankering for nosediving in the fresh powder. It was essentially a perfectly lazy and stunning six days, and what more do you need than that?