Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday Postcard #19

Sunday Postcard 19
Siem Reap, Cambodia July 2018
Eric’s birthday was yesterday! The first one we celebrated together was in Ann Arbor at Prickly Pear, and yesterday’s was the first in Boston. This photo is during week 10 of Eric avoiding a haircut this summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Postcard #18

Sunday Postcard 18
Boston Harbor August 2018
Friday night at the end of a full week, which included highlights such as this sunset, meeting new people, and a strategic approach to dodgeball followed by victory.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Postcard #17

Sunday Postcard 17
Boston, August 2018
I grew up in Massachusetts and this week I’ve gotten to feel like I’m learning somewhere new and reconnecting with my past at the same time. For example, I know the lyrics to Charlie on the MTA by heart but never knew the song’s history. And yes, I will likely sing it if it so much as comes up in conversation.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Postcard #16

Sunday Postcard 16
Boston, August 2018
I took this photo after seeing a tourist snap the same shot. I’ve only lived in Boston for a week and feel more like a tourist than not. Every time I move I wonder how long it will take for somewhere to feel like home. It’s never one moment, but gradual accumulation of knowing what grocery aisle to go to for lemon juice, leaving the apartment without checking a map, and having an opinion on where to get good Thai noodles. Eventually, I’ll look up and feel different.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sunday Postcard #15

Sunday Postcard 15
Dubai, UAE August 2018
Eric and I have a photo from the last day of the first trip we took together in 2010. We look tired and happy. I made sure to take one on our last day of our three months in Southeast Asia, though maybe I should have done it before the eight hour overnight layover.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday Postcard #14

Sunday Postcard #14
Outside Siem Reap, Cambodia July 2018
This is our last Sunday in Southeast Asia before we head back to the states. This summer has been a lesson in time for me. Events that happened a few days ago feel like they happened weeks before, living in Ann Arbor feels like a year ago, and yet the entire three months we've been away feels like a blink. Earlier this week, our friend Laura - our neighbor in Ann Arbor - was in town. She and I took a four hour round trip tuk-tuk ride to see Beng Mealea, an overgrown and remarkable temple. We could hear thunder approaching during the two hours we walked through the temple complex, but luckily the rain held off until we started the ride back. After a stormy ride to Siem Reap, we could see a full arc of a rainbow behind us.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Postcard #13

Sunday Postcard #13
Chiang Mai, Thailand, July 2018
Eric and I got engaged when we were traveling for most of 2012. We started planning the wedding and I became obsessed with lights. I took pictures of every pretty light fixture we saw, so many of my travel photos from that year are of lanterns, bulbs, and string lights. (Honestly, I was trying to recreate look from the Mumford & Sons "Little Lion Man" video.) When we got married in 2014, we decorated with dozens of carnival lights. We keep finding beautiful lights this summer, too, and places like this outdoor mall in Chiang Mai let me celebrate our wedding again and again.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sunday Postcard #11

Sunday Postcard 11
Road to Pai, July 2018
Between Kathmandu to Pokhara and back and Chiang Mai to Pai, I’ve spent about 20 hours on winding bus rides in the past couple weeks. Though I don’t love switchback roads, part of me always enjoys long road trips. Even when I was a kid, I loved knowing that there was nothing else I was supposed to do besides sitting back and reading a book. Before driving to visit my grandparents or visiting my siblings at college, I’d pack a pile of library books to last the whole ride and then some. It’s still one of my favorite parts of getting ready for a trip.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sunday Postcard #10

Sunday Postcard 10

Pokhara, Nepal June 2018

We spent five days in this lakeside town surrounded by mountains. It sent my mind to the waterfronts and hills I love: summer in Chicago, eating ice cream in western Michigan beach towns, a family reunion in Montana where we had the biggest water fight, the surprise road trip to Vermont with my mom, her best friend, and four of us kids, and others. I loved being in Pokhara while simultaneously wanting to be in all the other places I’ve loved. Traveling always forces me to remember that I bring everything along with me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sunday Postcard #9

Sunday Postcard #9

Pokhara, Nepal June 2018

When we were in Pokhara, I got to see this little white dog with tan ears every day. He or she looked like a toasted marshmallow. He guarded a store/restaurant/guest house. Two mornings ago, I was waiting for coffee across the street when I heard an explosion of barking. Two large dogs came running out of the guest house across the street with Marshmallow Pup hot on their heels, telling them what’s what. I was amazed that such a small dog could scare off two large ones, and then Marshmallow Pup’s person stepped out behind him for the chase. Marshmallow Pup may not have been the reason the two dogs ran off, but he spent the rest of the morning looking quite triumphant.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sunday Postcard #8

Chiang Mai, Thailand June 2018

In 2012 Eric and I spent a couple weeks in Krabi, Thailand. I fell in love with a noodle and dumpling soup from a stall in town. Nearly every day, I’d suggest we eat there. I’ve looked for the soup on Thai restaurant menus ever since and haven’t found anything quite the same. Last week we found a street cart in Chiang Mai selling the same type of soup and I got to fall in love again.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sunday Postcard #7

Sunday Postcard #7
Bakong Temple, Siem Reap, June 2018

Eric and I spent today seeing some of the southern temples in the Angkor world heritage site. The long walkway to the Bakong temple made me think of my first solo trip, when I took myself to Chenonceau. I stayed at a hostel for the first time, ate a crepe and a kir at the only restaurant in Tours not showing the World Cup, and doubled back through all the rooms of the castle that I wanted to at my own pace. I was so nervous about being on my own but so proud of making all the plans for myself. It felt good to be reminded of that today, on a different continent, eight years older. 

I can never get enough of those pink bougainvillea, either.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sunday Postcard #6

Sunday Postcard #6
Siem Reap, May 2018

Fried noodles with a runny egg eaten at a plastic table is one of my favorite things in the world. I have been lucky enough to try this in more than one place, and I’m always a bit in awe of the fact that I’ve had the opportunities. (To take the earnestness of this story down a level or two, Eric ended up with food poisoning likely from this meal.)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sunday Postcard #5

Sunday Postcard 5
Lotus fields, Siem Reap, May 2018

A couple weeks ago Eric and I joined a bike tour from our hostel to watch the sunset over lotus fields outside the city. I haven’t ridden a bike in six years and was wobbly and nervous. After the hour-long ride out, where I was solidly at the back of the pack, one of the tour leads asked if I’d ever ridden a bike before. It was embarrassing, but not as bad as the ride back when I catapulted myself into a ditch (I was fine, thank goodness). I’ve spent the time since then being thankful I wasn’t hurt and thinking about failing in public. Most often, my failures are private - if a pitch or application gets rejected, it’s between the editor or admissions officer and me. I don’t often have to be bad at something in front of someone else, much less a tour group or collection of kind bystanders watching me get pulled out of a mud puddle. Maybe it’s something I should try to do more, though probably not on a bike for a while.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sunday Postcard #4

Ann Arbor, Michigan April 2018

Every morning when I walked to work I looked at the reflection of the graduate school in the mirrored windows of the modern language building. The beauty of the older structure captured in the new(er) one was a favorite view that I usually admired alone. It felt like my own moment on a campus that is always full and in motion.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sunday Postcard #3

Krabi, Thailand, May 2012

Eric and I arrived in Krabi on an overnight train. The ride left me disoriented and I woke up at dawn our first morning. We searched for breakfast on nearly-empty streets. A woman walked through the main road towards a temple on what I soon realized was a daily route. She left food in piles for the stray cats and dogs that wandered around the area. By the way they followed her, it was clear they expected her. It was a rare chance to see the evidence of how someone matters to other creatures, how much others rely upon someone’s acts of care.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sunday Postcard #2

Night Sky Hotel, Da Nang, January 2018

We woke up to a power outage at our hotel. The hotel still served a full breakfast by candlelight. We listened to the rain outside while the chef, an older woman, instructed us on how to properly season and eat our noodle soup. I devoured mine along with the mini creme caramel she served. The women working the front desk insisted on high-level customer service despite the outage. They carried luggage almost as big as they were up the many flights of stairs, as the elevator wasn’t running.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Postcard #1

Sunday Postcard is a new project where I share a photo and story each week.

View from the Belmont stop, October 2015

Every weekday for two and a half years, I caught the Purple Line Express to Evanston. There was one couple in their mid-thirties who took the same route. If they were waiting when I got to the platform, I knew I’d be on time to work. In my second summer, the woman was pregnant and had a baby. For several months the man rode alone while she was on maternity leave. I got to glimpse a small piece of their lives every morning. This photo is from the last day I commuted on that route. Though we never spoke, I think of that couple as often as I remember the sunrises over the lake.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Edge of (20)17

The post title may have been more appropriate going into 2017, but I only thought of it now, so here we are.

For me, 2017 felt like living through several years at once. Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite pieces of culture from the past twelve months:

The most French bicycle

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo - This is one of the most remarkable books I've read. It follows a couple in Nigeria struggling with infertility while trying to push back against polygamy. Each twist is enough for its own novel, and yet Adebayo continues to surprise the reader with her precise look at a marriage.

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal - As I wrote in July, this novel follows two Indian immigrants in Ohio as they struggle with loneliness and grief. It's beautifully written and even side characters have depth and complications. It remains one of my favorite novels.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach - A woman returns to upstate New York after her twin sister supposedly dies in a fire, yet seems to have set up a twisted scavenger hunt to draw her back from Paris. This remains a favorite from 2017 for its creativity and careful pacing.

Marlena by Julie Buntin - Cat examines the brief, intense friendship she had during high school with Marlena, a drug-fueled teenager she met after moving to northern Michigan. I hadn't realized how much I crave novels that examine the nuances of female friendship until I finished and wanted to reread it immediately.

Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan - Economics professor Rachel Chu agrees to join her History professor boyfriend Nick Young at his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Little does she know that Nick's family is one of the wealthiest families in Asia. The first book is hilarious, dramatic, and heartwarming and somehow the sequel is even better. I'm partway through the final book in the trilogy, Rich People Problems, and can't get enough. Kwan's footnotes throughout are delightful.