One of the greatest difficulties in writing this blog is trying to keep up the look of these feature photos. I only have so many photos of my desk and candles to compose. And the rest of my flickr collection is from the 1-2 times a year I dust off my Canon Digital Rebel with the family. Christmas photos don’t really play in July.

The other difficulty, and this is a thought I’ve been struggling with each time I visit this draft folder… Who am I writing this blog for? Why am I writing this blog? And is it a “blog”?

I know this isn’t a sad attempt at a blog to book, and it feels like it is more than just for myself. The idea of writing about myself, while at first courageous, now just seems like a boring run-on. Writing about yourself and sharing it with others, it is so commonplace on the web these days. I spend my commutes consuming all these personal think-pieces and podcasts. And if I am being honest with myself, so many people do it way better than I ever could. I guess when I started this project, I thought it would be accomplishing three things…

  1. it would be a personal record and witness to my goals, demanding accountability that my own off-grid journals and thoughts couldn’t
  2. it would be a ritual to get myself back into the space of creating, of writing, of drawing, and perhaps exploring new mediums and methods.
  3. it might be worth reading, to the passerby of the internet of things, as a witness to the difficulties of every day life, and the anxieties we all face, the sorrows we all sit in, and the possibilities that are available if you try

I don’t know that my list of four or so posts from the past six months really accomplished this. The personal record was truest to my original intentions. The ritual was likely the underlying reason why I was doing this. And the worth-reading, while a desired outcome… was really only helpful for those wanting to try the recipes. A self-help-cooking-blog? Kind of a fun mashup, but poorly executed.

But perhaps it is time to let go of the concept of a blog and my commitment to writing things well and just write for the sake of writing. Rituals are important for me and I have been very good at breaking them for almost as long as I have been trying to keep them. Maybe I should be better at keeping to lesser rituals and standards. That’s the idea isn’t it? Achievable Goals.

So today I bring you artwork I have excavated from my old computer’s hard drive.

Originally intended for a hospital-wide art show submission two years ago, the piece was supposed to also have text written in the silhouettes of the the trees, but I couldn’t quite figure out the text I wanted to fill the trunks and branches with. And when trying to address this problem I found even deeper issues. If this was to be considered a work of art, as opposed to just a picture, what was it saying? What was I saying with it? That I just liked tracing over old photographs?

jim and dan

Oh and there was a companion piece.

dad and dan

I look at these photos now and find two competing thoughts.

The first is a feeling of disappointment that I don’t know anything from these images.

I can’t remember a bit of it. Where is it? The Cleveland Metroparks? Lakewood Park? A trip to Baltimore? I close my eyes and try to put myself in the place when I was this age (likely 2-3) and I only find images of photographs slipped behind photobook laminate. The train birthday cake my mom made my on my first birthday; a parade of brothers in pajamas-makeup-heels after raiding our mom’s closet. My mind drifts to the cliched thoughts of time passing, and jealousy for the moments a photograph can hold that I can’t. From there I try to recall a early memory:

Abby’s porch swing. I have a small frame, maybe I’m 7 or 9? Barefoot, sitting on the Singletary’s front porch. A swing, purple? Or red? Running my thumbs across the chain links as we rock higher until my toes can touch the sides of their house, and I’m kicking off the wall. The rusted chain links creak and I’m laughing.

and try for one before that:

Sneakers lined up on the cracks of a school hallway tile, or the feeling hopping between hot pavement and grass as I race up the street from the lake to our house. Jagged pebbles stubbing the pads of my feet. Am I younger? Maybe 6?

and one more before that:

These are toughest, The stories others have told me cloud in, and the lies I’ve imagined, the pictures I tried to recreate, the home videos I’ve watched. Do I have a earliest memory? A place that could only be from that long ago? A fourth of July in the first house we lived in? Or is that the second? The smell of my grandmother’s perfume? In the end I settle on the idea of a place that I’ve been too many times. A place I can’t remember because it has been with me before I knew to remember. A feeling of a place that has always been.

The second thought is a rush of nostalgia and curiosity.

I think of the cubby cheeked infant in my life right now, my friends’ soon to be one-year old, Mabel. Her smile is infectious. I listen as they describe their routines, and I can barely imagine our conversations from a year previous, or the year before that. She can crawl, and then she can stand, and now she comes running to their open arms. She falls and doesn’t even know to cry yet, and they encourage her to get up, assure her she can, ask her to try, egg her on with a whistle. Each time we meet from week to week and month to month so much has happened. I can almost sense them mature with the confidence in their voices. I think to my parents on my first birthday in those photographs. Their oversized and dated eye glasses, my mother’s curled hair, my dad behind a kodak camera as my mom eggs me on to blow out the flame on top a wax number one. How much have they changed in every of the twenty five years since then. What were they like when it had just started? What were their fears? What did they like to cook? When did they feel happy and when did they second guess what they were doing? And how often?



I don’t know that I am ready to call these photographs art. They are the beginnings of something, but it is difficult to put into words that purpose they serve. Right now they serve me and the ones who know these photographs, as a memory, but I need to start thinking beyond myself and what I want this to mean for others.

And this is where I am torn right now. Between thoughts about who I am, who I want to be, and what I want that to mean. My mind has been filled with many thoughts like these recently. I can sense the moment I’m in and I feel very happy but I can sense I won’t be happy here for long. There are the difficulties that everyone faces, a stressful job, loneliness, debt, a drop of bird poop on Friday’s donut. But when I can control my feelings enough to accept the things I cannot change, and look outside at how green the leaves are in the summer, it all feels worth it.

The questions I am taking the time to ask, and maybe I will have an answer for the next time I can find the courage to press Publish…

Who am I?
What do I fear?
What do I like to cook?
When do I feel happy?
And what does it all mean?
If I could do anything, be anyone, create something, what would that be?

And what did I think I wanted when I wore teddy-bear lined jackets and overalls?