Rules for surviving.

Channel your creativity, no matter what form it takes.

Real courage is moving forward when the outcome is uncertain.

Everything is going to be okay — maybe not now, but eventually.

Oh, hi.

Hi there! It’s me again. I used to write in here a lot. That was a long time ago — several years, to be semi-precise. The person who wrote in here was a lot different than I am now.

But lately, I’ve been thinking I need better creative outlets. This blog (and its stately predecessor) began as places for me to be creative in situations where most of my day was spent being intensely uncreative. The first blog began as something for me to do with my day, back before I became a historian, besides editing stratigraphic columns or making giant spreadsheets. This one evolved out of my determination to keep part of my brain healthy while I was in graduate school. Grad school will eat you alive if you let it — having some sort of writing space where I didn’t have to cite the literature or make footnotes (at least the non-discursive kind) was pretty key. The writing led into the photography, which led in some ways, to more walking and biking and, above all, interesting new ways of thinking, that in turn, informed my other work. Blogging and these other activities inserted a lot of fun into a process that can be really tedious.

But. Then there’s now. Oddly enough, this need for a creative outlet comes when I have a different type of job. An awesome one, where I get to work on really rewarding (although intense) projects, and work with fun, interesting and kind people. The work I do is creative, and all of the sorts of things I’m interested in somehow find their way into what I do there. But. On the weekends? At home? I feel sort of….adrift. I no longer feel like I know what I’m going to do once the weekend comes — obviously, I have things I like to do (see friends, go to museums/movies, read books in bars with interesting beers), but none of them are really about creating things, turning the stuff of everyday life into something tangible. (I am, of course, leaving out the fact that I have a dissertation to write, but that’s work work, not the sort of thing I’m talking about.) Right now, my main creative outlets are a) work, b) posting stuff on Facebook, and c) my (award-winning [seriously!]) Denver-history Tumblr (which is fun to do, but really isn’t about…me so much).

Hope could be around the corner, though. I just drew first cartoon in 16? 17? years for my friends B. and L.’s blog, which made me want to draw more. I used to do it a lot — I stopped because I didn’t think I was any good. That could be a possibility. Writing could be another. Sadly, I think photography is out, at least in the vein I did before. I don’t find the built environment of Denver quite as inspiring as that of Albuquerque, where there was always something new in the realm of WTF laying around to take a picture of.

We’ll see. I’m not making any promises.


Firstly, I’ll just say that entering an apartment building with an Electra Amsterdam is about as easy as bringing a drunk home. If there are steps, you’ve got to drag it up them–and trust me, it does not want to go. Then, if you’ve got a foyer with double doors, you’ve got to try to hold both of them open at the same time and wrangle the thing through, sometimes employing your feet. Even if a helpful neighbor arrives on the scene, they’re powerless to help you, since there’s no way past the bike. Then, once inside, it’s either more steps, or it’s an elevator, and unless you live in a building with a freight elevator this thing will take up most of it. Forget popping the thing up on the rear wheel, which is standard New York City indoor bike-moving procedure. And of course, once you get the drunk inside, you think your work is done, until the drunk collapses on your floor. Similarly, once you roll the Electra into your apartment, you’ve got to find someplace to put it. You can lean, say, a road bike against your wall and it will sit there nearly flush–plus you can even lean another road bike against that one and it still won’t take up that much space. With the Electra, though, I had no option but to just park it in the middle of the living room floor where it actually interfered with the workings of my TV remote.

I love my bike, but this is a too-apt description of the endless Getting The Bike Back Indoors Project that comes with owning an Electra bicycle (with the caveat that I have a Townie [which is even larger], and not an Amsterdam).


ceremony over

It is hard to overemphasize how depressing some of the documents I’m looking for are. Not in an obvious way — I’m not researching mass slaughter or anything — but more in the sense that you start to see, bit by bit, how some of the worst parts of the present world are slowly being created by deliberate actions (or just as often, inactions), ignorance or apathy. The WTF factor with history is always high — things in the past are often genuinely strange in ways that are hard to comprehend — but in my time period (the 1960s and 1970s — not 1956), it’s off the charts. So I’m taking a week off to go visit my dad and play with the dog and befriend television once again.

Pictured above is a park in Denver that has had many names — it was once Robinson Park, then Arlington Park, and then (finally) the Hungarian Freedom Park — a small, triangular, and frequently empty (especially compared with Alamo Placita park, just across Cherry Creek from it) park along Speer Boulevard. There was no one there when I took this picture — but as you can clearly tell, someone had been there in the recent past.


sidewalk prayers

Capitol Hill, Thursday at dusk.