In the Box

At some point during the first week of first grade, the teacher hauled a huge cardboard box out of a supply closet—a box that likely previously housed a refrigerator or a chest of drawers. It had a small square window cut into one side.

“This—” our teacher proclaimed solemnly, “is the punishment for those who can’t stop pestering their neighbors.” I could visualize the box fitting snuggly over my desk, blocking me from the other students, narrowing my line of sight to the teacher and the blackboard.

And I immediately thought to myself, How will I ever do something naughty enough to get to be in the box?

I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more. The dark. The privacy. Not to be pestered by my classmates’ endless chatter.

This is the thrill I get from riding the Brown Line around the Chicago Loop.

It empties, and you can gaze out at the city in peace.

More photos on the Chicago page.

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Early Morning at Tunnel View

“Getting up early is for suckers!” says my 18-year-old self. And when it comes to zero hour classes and first shifts, she’s so right. Getting up early to work is for suckers, especially when you’re young and all the interesting conversations happen after midnight.

But getting up early on vacation to see the sun come up? Followed by optional mid-day naps? Completely different situation (for some—18-year-old self still gives that a hard pass).

There’s a surprising amount of morality tied to sleeping hours. The correct person to blame is Ben Franklin, who famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise—but sure don’t make a dude president.”

In an agrarian society where you can only work in the daylight, praise for those who take maximum advantage of available light makes sense. But thanks in part to Franklin’s own work, productivity in modern fields isn’t limited to the daytime.

No more associating laziness with keeping later hours. That said, here’s a photo that could only be achieved by waking before the dawn.


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Rustler Camper Sleeper Truck

John Muir wrote to his wife Louie, “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”

I imagine there was a reason Muir wrote this to his wife in a letter and didn’t say it out loud to her as she scrubbed her undergarments against a rock in a river while he foraged nearby for berries.

Baggageless travel isn’t for all of us.

But I will say this—what he’s driving at makes sense. Why go into the woods if you plan to bring the world with?

The best thing technology has going for it is the often effortless ability to contact those you love. But with that comes the constant interposition of valueless communications into daily lives.

The mountains ofter many things, but I found myself especially appreciative of the abysmal wifi and near-nonexistent cell reception.

For now, I’m keeping the hotels and baggage. But I’ll happily leave behind the dust and chatter.

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Clouds of Stars

During childhood vacations to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, when there was barely more than a Piggly Wiggly and a Pamida, I could lay at the end of my aunt’s dock which extended into a remote lake and see the Milky Way stretching out above me.

At present I live in one of the most befouled places on the earth, in terms of light pollution. So when I finalized plans to visit Yosemite this year, although seeing massive trees was number one on my to do list, a close second was finding a place where I could once again see the Milky Way.

To stand still and see a vast expanse of sky and stars stretching out before you—it makes it hard to care about traffic or salary or fashion or really anything at all except pine trees and fresh air and free rein to explore.

According to an online map representing current world light pollution levels as a garish rainbow, seeing the Milky Way from my aunt’s dock wouldn’t be possible now.

How can anyone remain humble and reasonable without a daily reminder of of the enormity of existence beyond tiny human lives?

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You Try My Patience

Even the most agreeable model reaches his or her limit. In a short year and a half of marriage, I have found my husband’s lifetime modeling limit. He’s super done. Thank goodness we have a cat.

Here he is, ready to smash the packing box from a new lens I wanted to endlessly test on his adorable, rage-filled face.

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Irish Coast

Any excuse to move to Ireland would be sufficient.


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Home Can Mean All Kinds of Things

Right now, this is it.

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Conor Pass

If you’re willing to spend a bit of extra time in the car and drive a slightly windier road, you can reach Dingle via Conor Pass.

My assessment: Totally worth it and how fantastic that we happened to hit it at sunset!
The driver’s assessment: Less dawdling to avoid night-driving in a foreign country in a manual car driven on the wrong side of the road might’ve been nice.


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As part of our honeymoon, my husband and I drove across Ireland—Dublin to the Dingle Peninsula. That statement is a bit misleading as I, in fact, did not do one lick of driving because we rented a manual car that I was absolutely not equipped to drive but that my husband, the proud owner of a maroon-and-cream ’74 VW Bug in high school, was more than ready to drive (the checkout clerk’s multiple and severe warnings about extra charges for burning out the clutch notwithstanding).

En route we passed through Moneygall, which featured a large sign boasting of being Obama’s ancestral home. Then we passed through Tralee, my ancestral home, the home of my mother’s mother’s family. No sign about that yet, but they did have a large sign that said “Food served all day,” which seems as good an indication as any that my family came from there.


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The Pen Corner

I took over three thousand photos during a trip to Ireland and the U.K. last April—an entirely overwhelming number of photos to process. This image is hardly representative of the trip, which was mostly rolling green hills, sheep, and tea, but best to start somewhere. Say hello to your average Dublin corner and some stunning Dublin sunlight.


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