28 February, 2021

Opportunity and Cost: An Anniversary

I am still me.

It feels weird to say that. Or rather, it feels weird to have doubted that. But I guess that's what this past year has been: doubts about assumptions that used to come naturally.

Let's rewind: 1 year and 1 week ago, I strained my hamstring at pole vault practice. Again. And I decided it was time for a change. Two days later, I sat down at a friend's table with a box of tissues and wrote "Leaving Love Behind." A few days later, I sketched out some ideas in my composition book, went to the photo studio, and took a self-portrait that felt like it fit the gravity of that moment.

I wrote at the time that "I don't really know what the future will hold," but I figured that I would figure things out in time. There's no way I could have imagined the changes that were in store, for all of us, but I was dedicated to making the best of an unfamiliar situation, and I'm pretty happy with how the last year has gone.

07 February, 2021

Double-Take: When NASCAR felt like home again

Imagine exploring an unfamiliar environment. Everything seems new and unexpected, even if you feel twinges of familiarity here and there. But there's this feeling of shock and confusion that happens when you round one more unfamiliar corner, only to realize that you suddenly recognize your surroundings. That all this time, you've actually been closer to home than seemed possible, just moments prior.

That was NASCAR, for me.

Now don't get me wrong; I've watched plenty of NASCAR over the years, and there've definitely been times when the whole thing had felt like it made sense.

But stereotypes have a way of pulling you away from the things you used to enjoy. In part because they're just pernicious like that, but also because they often have a kernel of truth, and sometimes it makes you worry…

But when the Toyota / Save Mart 350 rolled around in June of 2014, I finally had a chance to look back and recapture some of those feelings I thought I had left behind.

31 December, 2020

Spirit of the Wok (Annie — People Making Cool Stuff)

"To me, the sounds of a wok are very… very homey? They may or may not be pleasant, objectively… But the sound of, like, when the steel hits steel? Like, when you're moving things around… And you know, when you bang on it sometimes to get things off the spatula?

"It all just goes with the… kind of the spirit of the wok, y'know?"

Some things are difficult to put into words. And in the times I've been fortunate enough to watch my friend Annie cook, what's stood out for me have been the clarity of her intentions, the creativity of her choices, the pride in her craft, and other traits that speak of the soul of cooking, in a way that words don't always reach.

30 November, 2020

Life, Death, and Lack of Experience: Another struggle of the inadvertent historian

A few years ago, I wrote "Life, Death, and Lack of Closure," about a seemingly-inevitable trap of living life after becoming an inadvertent historian: that because inaction — the decision to not document something — is in itself a form of curation, you never really escape from the anxiety of not putting time into documentary work. That is, the awareness that you could be documenting things, but aren't, lingers like a specter throughout everyday life. Even as I described it then, I still feel it now.

I've gotten better at seeing the opportunity and not just the cost — "I am deciding to be present in this moment," rather than just "I'm deciding not to document this moment." But I think some people have a sense of ease at letting moments pass by which I've never managed to recapture.

But I just discovered a new form of this trap.