Everly Elizabeth Anne

These photos are such a joy for me. To have been able to see one of my very first college friends get engaged, get married, await her first baby, and now become a mother is such a sweet blessing. Welcome to the world, little Everly Elizabeth Anne. EverlyElizabethAnne-1 EverlyElizabethAnne-10 EverlyElizabethAnne-12 EverylyEverlyElizabethAnne-47 EverlyElizabethAnne-49 EverlyElizabethAnne-55 Everly2 EverlyElizabethAnne-93 EverlyElizabethAnne-115EverlyElizabethAnne-133EverlyElizabethAnne-138 EverlyElizabethAnne-150Everly3 EverlyElizabethAnne-153 EverlyElizabethAnne-174 EverlyElizabethAnne-180 EverlyElizabethAnne-185EverlyElizabethAnne-191

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Let’s wear new clothes and pretend it’s spring.

Today I am hopping on a plane and heading for Florida. YES.

Over the last week I have checked the weather anxiously everyday, letting its consistent sun brighten my soul and restore my faith in spring break. So it snowed 8 inches here on Monday. IN FLORIDA IT IS 80. So it rained icy water down my back as I was running yesterday. IN FLORIDA IT RAINS SUNSHINE AND SMILES. Yes, I am going there to speak at a conference, so most of the sun I see will be through a window… but I am counting it. I even broke my sacred tights-until-April rule as I was packing. These pasty legs are ready for some vitamin D! Plus, I have ripped all my tights, so warm weather needs to get a move on it.

Before you get jealous, just wait and hear the exoticness that has defined the rest of my spring break. I bleached my comforter, changed sheets and only changed out my pjs a grand total of twice in the past 4 days, and both of those times I wore the same outfit. I made cookies and ate too much dough and — wait for  it — left the dishes in the sink overnight. People, this is me at my wildest. I studied a lot, graded a little, cleaned out my makeup bag, James’ closet, our box of random mail, and caught up on all my TV shows. Yes, I am living the life.

Last week, it actually felt springy, and I kind of feel like I got an extra spring break because James’ brother and his girlfriend spent theirs with us and we enjoyed ourselves more than we usually do during the week. Last Friday we hit the outlet malls at National Harbor for a day of shopping, and when we got back it was so warm, our new clothes were so exciting, and they were so cute, that I dragged them around Capitol Hill to take some photos. Because GREEN LEAVES! And SUN! And all those other things that spring is  withholding, at least until I go find them today in Florida.  Happy Spring y’all, from my dreary grey city to yours. Go put on some spiffy clothes and pretend it’s May.
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Those who see.

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I had a devoted team of friends who sent me mail the year I lived in Paris. I would cart the letters and packages up all eight flights of stairs, cherishing my mail already and looking forward to opening it. That mail was a tangible reminder of the people and places I loved all over, and I slowly covered the back of my door with postcards, invitations, announcements, pictures, and words. In one package, a friend from college sent me a copy of the artistic magazine our college releases every semester. It has student photography, poetry, prose, translations, and tucked amongst the feeble collegiate attempts at greatness, there was a page with this quote on it. Ruskin

I tore it out, taped it on the door, and absorbed it into my soul every time I stepped through that door. Every time I set forth into the aged streets of Paris, I was reminded to see. That little piece of paper has followed me through moves and jobs, homes and apartments.  It follows me everywhere reminding me that seeing clearly is the greatest gift.

I am drawn to photographers, bloggers, and writers who see clearly. Today I wanted to share a couple of my favorite people around the Internet who know how to see. They are the writers and photographers who see the world and pass it on in a way that lets the rest of us share and love it.

  • Arianna Tennyson. I think this was maybe the only time when Facebook suggested that I like someone and they were right. She is a western Canada based photographer who has one of the best eyes I’ve seen. In theory, every good photographer should be someone who sees the world well. But sometimes you look at someone’s pictures and you can just tell a difference. Other’s look at the world, this girl sees a beautiful poetry at play in every scene.
  • Annapolis and Company. I’m not even sure how I started reading Mary Beth’s blog but it is one of my favorites. So rarely do you find someone who is both an amazing photographer, and a talented writer. Every post she writes has me marveling afresh at the beauty of everyday existence.
  • Manger. Admittedly, I am a sucker for anything French. But usually, I mean Paris. The pictures that Mimi puts up of her French countryside existence create a collage that lets us see the beauty in her life of cooking and caring for her family.
  • Little Black Desk.  This girl. Just go read her blog and come back here later. Most of the people on this list pair photography with their words, but Ashley doesn’t even have to. One post will have me laughing, and then I will be crying by the end of the next one. She shares about newlywed life, losing her brother to cancer, her job, and God’s goodness through it all. In theory, it should be jarring to go from a post on eyebrow threading in the mall, to one of her brother’s final days, but it isn’t. Life is like that, comic and tragic so closely intertwined that we can’t always separate them, and so she doesn’ t try to.
  • Verily Magazine. Ok, so I am mostly including this because their tagline is “Less of who you should be. More of who you are.” Thank you Verily magazine, for seeing that there are just too many magazines trying to inspire us and every now and then we just want something who see’s how life is.

Happy reading!

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On Saturday we discovered bottomless brunch.

Spring-3Spring-1I had lofty plans about both this weekend.  I am on Spring Break this week, which meant last weekend marked a blissful studying and grading break. James has been traveling fairly frequently and went out of town again today, so we planned on spending the whole weekend exploring our city together. Instead, Saturday became a succession of sleep and gluttony. We got up at 4am Saturday morning to take our visitors from last week to the airport in Baltimore, tumbling back into bed around 5:30. Around noon we woke up for the second time to meet our friends at Ambar to celebrate a birthday over brunch, fully intending to do many great things that afternoon. Art museums! Cleaning out of closets! Bowling! Bike rides! Running! Tracking down that illusive renegade pretzel stand on 15th St! On Saturday, we were going to do it all.

And then we were brought low by the cunning temptress that is bottomless brunch.

Notice how there are only two pictures from our entire weekend, versus the normal onslaught I throw at you? IT IS BRUNCH’S FAULT. Notice how this post has absolutely no transcendent quality or abstraction about love or life or anything meaningful? IT IS BECAUSE I AM STILL RECOVERING FROM BRUNCH. Eggs benedict, waffle with roasted pear compote, mushroom crêpes, sourdough donuts with Nutella spread, peach mimosas,  and steak and eggs ordered so many times that finally we asked them to hold the eggs and fries and just bring a pile of steak. Does any non-starving human need that much food? Obviously not. And would it quite possibly kill a previously starving human by exploding their stomach with carbs? Most likely.  Did we barely make it home before collapsing into bed for the third time that day? Obviously yes. And was it so incredibly and wonderfully worth it? Undoubtedly so.

A walk happened that afternoon, and a games with friends later, and we did finally make it to the National Gallery to see an exhibit 45 minutes before closing on Sunday. I’m pretty sure things happened this weekend… but brunch has eclipsed them. And I am totally fine with that.

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When we talk about the weather.

Winter2014-166Winter2014-167Winter2014-188Winter2014-163 Winter2014-164Winter2014-187Winter2014-192Winter2014-168 Winter2014-171 Winter2014-174 Winter2014-185Winter2014-178Winter2014-186Winter2014-190 Winter2014-191Last Friday night James and I went to go see Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.”  Have you seen it? I read it in high school and watched the movie many times but James had never seen or read it.  In the past year we decided that we really wanted to make an effort to see more plays, ballets, and concerts here in the city. I don’t want to turn to our kids someday and explain to them that all I did in this amazing city was brunch. Although, as they will be related to me and James, they will probably take brunch very seriously. When I see a play by Shakespeare or Wilde, I wonder if we have gotten dumber as a culture, or if we have just gotten so lazy with our language skills that we have lost the ability to create something like Wilde’s fast paced verbal sparring. Despite the difference of over a hundred years, his words have lost none of their humor today. Muffins will always be funny. In the midst of our laughter, one of the characters declared, “Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else.”

And we do.

This week, we can talk of nothing but the weather around here. Last weekend the sun came out and the temperatures sored. We went out without coats and gloves, we turned off the heat, and we put the extra blanket in the closet. James’ brother and his girlfriend are spending their spring break with us and we strolled leisurely through Eastern Market, enjoying the fresh flowers and sun. I baked my first summer strawberry cake and we ate caprese salad and pretended like it was June. James and I took a long walk Sunday and I enjoyed an iced drink, even though it was still cold enough to freeze my hand off.

And then yesterday, the temperature dropped 40 degrees and the wind picked up and we all got inexplicably angry. Everyone I spoke to on Thursday talked about the weather. But really, I’m pretty certain we are talking about something else.

We are talking about the hope that spring brings and our eagerness to see it wash over the gray. We are talking about how ready we are for flowers to fill in the dirt and for the days to stretch longer and push back the night. We are talking about our need for sun and light and warmth and joy. We are talking about our excitement over new life and fresh starts. We are talking about the changes in light that come with seasons, and how that light illuminates different parts of the world for us. We are talking about one of the last infuriatingly powerful things that we cannot control in this modern world. We are talking about a longing so complex and multifaceted that we can’t fully put words to it.  On the cold days that creep back up, all those hopes are threatened and we feel the wrongness of it all through our souls, but we don’t know how to talk about it.

So instead, we talk about the weather. Because by talking about the weather, we are talking about our world and our own tiny little place in it.

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Hip-Hop and Shake, or, Can you be a twerking feminist?

Last night I had a two and a half hour class on feminist literary criticism. We waxed poetic about if it is possible to have an écriture féminine (feminin writing); we debated the subalternity of the female voice; we bemoaned the state of the women within this phallocentric world; we discussed texts that questioned if we are born woman, or made woman.

And then, at 7:00, I dashed across campus to jump into my weekly “Hip-Hop and Shake” class. Simone de Beauvoir, Hélène Cixous, and Gayatri Spivak were instantly replaced by a slew of rappers reminding me that white girls can still shake it.

I ask you, does the latter undo the former? Maybe… ok, probably.What does the presence of such classes, filled with such songs, and attended excitedly by such women tell us about the modern feminist condition?  Rap is not exactly the bastion of respect and gender equality. But people, this class is so much fun. Remember last year when I had a semester long love/hate affair with spinning? This semester it is Hip-hop and Shake, a class where you dance like an idiot at a a club for an hour and then congratulate yourself for working out. Yes. This is my jam.

Because really, I love dancing. But I hate clubs. Why can’t there be awesome dancing and thumping music in nice well-lit venues with ample seating, clean toilets, respectful dance floor co-horts, and a wide selection of tasty snacks? Oh, and why do those places always have to get exciting so late? At Hip-Hop and Shake I can dance intently and still be in bed by 10. Excellent.

But do not let my epic wedding dancing of 2013 convince you that I am any good at this fitness pursuit. No. Us from the French program cower in the back and try to keep at least part of our body doing what the instructor is. I can get the hips in line, or the hands, but for goodness sake, not both. And can I have it explained in writing, with diagrams and a flip book how to do a “body roll”??? Because I am just not there. Sometimes we have to do these supposedly sexy jump-up fall down and slither up things, and let me tell you: caught a glimpse of myself flopping around in the mirror and it was objectively traumatizing and not sexy. More like a seal flopping on bed of hot coals.

Perhaps there is more than meets the eye with this class. Phrases yelled by the instructor like “If you can’t shake what I’m shaking, shake whatever you’ve got!” (affirmation of the beauty of all body types?) and, during the twerking tutorial session, “Twerking is hard, I know. It’s because our foremothers didn’t have to twerk to lure in their prey but now we do!” (recognition of evolving standards and difficulties for women?)  give me reason to pause and wonder what are the societal implications of a room full of women makin’ it rain like their life depended on it.

Furthermore, it must be mentioned that this is a class attended almost exclusively by under-gradaute perky women who are most definitely honing their in-class skills on the weekend. There is a serious age gap upon which I like to blame all of my hip-hop inadequacies. Tonight the instructor announced that we would be playing an “old-classic,” at which I was obviously expecting Will Smith from you know, before he was a TV sensation. No. What came blaring out was “Soldier Boy.” Don’t get me wrong, I learned the whole dance in my dorm room during a particularly nasty college winter. But how did all of them know it? I did the math, and it came out when most students in that room were in middle school. Go ahead, feel old with me here.

Let it not be said that my hour of intense hip-hop does not have real life applications. For instance, in the semiannual event that I find myself in a place of crowded and dark dancing after midnight, I shall have a number of routines at my disposal. But importantly, half way through the class, we split down the middle and have a DANCE BATTLE. For those of you who have not seen all of the Step Up/ Bring It/ Dance It? Save those dances/ Center Stage is Where it’s At films (all of which, conveniently, have the exact same plot), you know the type I’m talking about. Ones like this:

Back and forth we go, one side dancing as hard as possible against the other, even though in the end — we are all winners on the dance floor. Might I take this moment to recommend to the many politicians and world leaders that I’m sure read this blog, that we adopt the dance battle method for current and future political disagreements? (Pause to imagine Harry Reid and John Boehner dancing to “Billy Jean” to resolve the next debt crisis. Obviously Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi are backup dancers.)

In the end, I take my sweaty body home each week, wondering why I haven’t received more calls to take my talent global. Nevertheless, I shall continue to dance. And perhaps in the end, Hip-Hop and Shake is the embodiment of feminism at it’s finest: we are all equals on the dance floor. And we have scared away all the men.

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Nic & Susannah

From a torrential downpour in the middle of their summer engagement shoot, to driving snow in the middle of their wedding, from a commitment to love, to starting a life together as man and wife. Congratulations Nic and Susannah!Kipkewedding-206Kipkewedding-472Kipkewedding-1Kipkewedding-12 Kipkewedding-18 Kipkewedding-22 Kipkewedding-30bouquetSusannah Susannah2NicandSusannah2NicandSusannahNicandSusannah3 NicandSusannah4 Kipkewedding-295 Kipkewedding-300Kipkewedding-421 Kipkewedding-430brunchreceptionKipkewedding-453NicandSusannah5

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