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Cleaning up and out November 29, 2008

Posted by Emily in design, moving.
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Norman Maclean was haunted by waters. I am overwhelmed by stuff.

I am no minimalist, as anyone who knows me certainly can divine. As much as I’d like to be all Zen and unattached, I like things. I like buying things when I travel. I am a sucker for shoes. And being surrounded by my favorite books soothes me in a way knowing they are at the library does not.

But having things involves moving things. And I am sick of moving so much stuff over and over again.

Part of the issue has been time. For so long, I was busy and rushing and never seemed to make the practically endless time needed to do a full sort-through prior to my lease running out and moving day fast approaching. As such, I’ve moved lots of junk not necessarily because I am so attached to every little thing, but rather because I just didn’t find time to diligently sort through the piles and instead just bought one more plastic bin to throw it all in until I got around to sorting. Which was obviously never.

Another part of it, the biggest part if I’m being honest, is that I am a keeper, not a thrower. And it’s not such a bad thing, but it has to be kept in check.

It’s time. I’ve been reading lots of house-y versions of self help books, articles with titles generally involving “clutter” “control” and perhaps a little “De-stress your life!” for good measure. I’ve been watching more “What Not to Wear” than I care to admit, trying to push myself to be brutal to my closet, even if I don’t get a trip to New York and $5,000 as incentive. And as much as these things seem like just another form of procrastination (and they sort of are), I have started dipping my toe into the process. I’ve put together three bursting garbage bags full of stuff for Goodwill and I’ve just begun. It’s tough, in a way I can’t explain but can bet people who aren’t naturally drawn to simplicity can probably understand. It’s sort of embarrassing, really, because I don’t want to think of myself as a material person, but I find it’s very hard to get rid of things.

The worst is probably paper things. They are everywhere, they are hard to keep neat, so many serve as reminders or seem somehow necessary. Things that really are necessary, like bank statements and pay stubs, I’d gladly run through the shredder but I guess that’s the cruel way things work. Clothes (and shoes!) are also challenging, partially because I’ve been the same size in both since about the seventh grade. My sister recently told me I have the same style I had in the seventh grade, which I think is (mostly) untrue but which got me thinking about things I need to dump, whether or not they might still fit. I am not as big of a bum as I’m making myself out to be. Please don’t report me to Clinton and Stacy.

Another thing that’s spurring my possession detoxing is the frightening appearance in retail chains of Christmasland (OK, since about the day after Halloween…) It’s been creeping up in the corners of Target and Wal-Mart for a while, but the serious emergence of gaudy trees, green and red festooned checkouts, and reindeer t-shirts makes me aware that Christmas is coming. (Just not as fast as they’d like to make you believe.) And Christmas means more new stuff…beautiful gifts, I’m sure, but stuff all the same. I need to tackle some of the current insanity if I’m ever going to make room for anything new. I refuse to buy any more bins.

There’s also something cool about this phase, even if it’s sometimes hard to see. I’m stepping into a new moment, this time in which I get to shape myself and my style. I don’t need to keep the random posters and concert stubs. Most of the garage sale furniture can head straight to Goodwill. And seventh grade was 10 years ago. It’s time for it to go.


Appreciate what you have November 27, 2008

Posted by Emily in Uncategorized.
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“And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
That you are touched by something.”

–“These Are Days,” 10,000 Maniacs

On this day of bounty (and before tomorrow’s day of insanity), it’s worth it to take a moment and realize just how lucky we are.

View the short video at The Miniature Earth.

Enjoy the holiday and travel safely!

An autumn weekend in Glacier November 23, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Montana, photography, Travel.
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This is a little late in coming, as I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on Flickr uploading after thousands of European photos, plus another summer’s worth, and very little internet access from February-August or so. Phew.

But I’ve finally gotten around to posting some of the many shots from the long weekend I spent in Glacier in early October. I took a class through UM’s Wilderness Institute taught by Tim Cooper of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and it was sort of a funny hodgepodge of students and professors, current and retired, and friends and strangers. Outwardly, we had very little in common–but we were all interested enough in photography to think mile long hikes could take two hours.

One of the biggest issues with traveling with others when you like to stop every fifteen feet and take a photo (or ten) is that you don’t find many people so patient, and even with them I’m hesitant to take away from their experience. When you go out walking with no plan BUT to stop every five feet and take photos, when you’re expected to notice and talk about every little detail along the way, it’s so relaxing. Like traveling alone, except with people to talk to.

And so we laughed. And compared tips and stories and shots. We reveled in the amazing colors Glacier offered, actually made more vibrant by the fairly heavy rain. My friend Christy’s Coleman tent magically held off the downpour, which left me strangely giddy. And even the most experienced of us (uh, definitely not me) learned something new about photography.

Here are a few of my shots from the weekend (with more on Flickr):


Fall colors


Three little birds

Avalanche Falls

Berry fractal


We are having a show at the Dark Room in Missoula, with an official opening for First Friday on December 5th –stop by and check out some of the amazing work from the weekend!

Noah November 21, 2008

Posted by Emily in Uncategorized.

I lost a good friend yesterday to brain cancer.

Of course, it’s selfish to look at it that way, especially with Noah, someone who knew everyone. So many people are grieving.

But grief is such a personal experience, something every single person feels differently. My sister is reading Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, for AP English and I found myself thinking of his logotherapy notion yesterday, which sometimes brings me comfort. But not this time. Yesterday, I just saw it as the lonely, existential view that grief cannot be quantified or compared, that in this, we can’t really relate.

Learning of his death via Facebook didn’t make it any easier. It felt so public and so removed, so unlike a phone call with a friend.

And so I sat here, thinking about how public a blog is. And I thought about writing something anyway, because at the moment, I can’t sit and cry with anyone who really knew him. There’s some sort of community to be found in the internet, of course, something Facebook tries, and occasionally succeeds, in moderating.

Mostly, it felt like too important a moment to just let pass by.

But it wasn’t until I read the Missoulian article this morning that I was ready to write something. It was this quote, from a friend of his, that got the wheels turning.

“Noah had a knack for responding to a person’s daily gripes with a heartfelt, empathetic ribbing. My casual complaints about life were usually met with, ‘Wow, man. That sucks. … [sigh] … Gosh. … I have cancer.’”

Because it was real. It made me laugh. It was Noah, in all his sarcastic glory.

So what I’ll remember can’t be put in a consolation card.

I’ll remember when his mom made him use a hands-free (with cord) way before Bluetooth. She was worried about his incessant phone-to-ear syndrome affecting his tumor, but he felt like a total idiot and we all made sure to tease him about it.

I’ll remember his dancing, often inappropriate for the situation. Pretty much almost always, actually.

I’ll remember being too young to get into a bar for a friend’s 21st, and the bouncer asking me (in heels), how I could possibly be 5′2″. Umm….but since I was with Noah, I was allowed to pass through with a smile and a roll of the eyes.

I’ll remember how annoyed I’d get when we’d hang out, especially in the UC, because it was like a parade of Noah’s friends, one after the other, all wanting to talk to him, to flirt with him, to laugh. He told his mom when he was a kid that he wanted to be popular. I know no one who was as popular as he was.

I’ll remember the salsa class we took together and shopping for costumes for a Halloween salsa dance at the Elk’s. We went to one of those stores on Reserve that pops up just for the holiday. Many of the costumes on offer were really crude, so we wandered and giggled, I came up with lots of random ideas but Noah wasn’t really feeling any of them. Then he came around the corner wearing these huge white Mickey gloves, and I foolishly asked, “But what are you going to do with them?” “Wear ’em, I guess. I don’t know. I sort of like them.” He put them on in the car on the way home, wore them to the dance, and they made appearances at Grizzly sporting events for years. As Jed Liston said at Noah’s graduation ceremony last month, they were probably a good thing, as they camouflaged Noah’s actual fingers. He was caught redhanded, showing just one finger, on the Griz Vision Jumbotron one game. Oops.

I’ll remember how he’d take me in for a hug and then pretend to whisper sweet nothings, all while nuzzling my neck or my ear or whatever it took to make me squeal. This was a fairly common Noah greeting tactic for all sorts of girls (and the occasional guy).

I’ll remember how he named his tumors and how he’d refer to them sometimes sort of like children. “Nope, Ollie’s not a big fan of the strobe lights,” he told me once.

A very silly friend of mine was known to occasionally hitchhike home from the bars and was picked up by Noah one late night. Noah had only met the kid once, knew him vaguely as a friend of mine. But my friend called the next day to quiz me on Noah, to tell me what a funny and nice guy he was, figure out how he could become his friend, too. “That’s one cool guy,” he told me. And he was.

He was one cool guy. And we are all going to miss him.

Córdoba: A food guide November 20, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andalucía, fiesta, Spain, Travel.
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I enjoyed watching the last episode of Spain…On the Road Again, even if it was different from what I expected. They did an excellent job of giving a sense of the majesty of the Alhambra, drove to Motril and Almuñécar in Granada province, two relatively unexplored parts of southern Spain, sampled tejeringos, a type of crunchy churro, and then drove through Córdoba and 5 kilometers outside the city to Medina Azahara (more on that amazing palace later). Not bad in an hour.

I read in two or three places that a few members of the crew ate in Córdoba at Sociedad de Plateros (it’s one of their top recommended restaurants), but the last episode, “A Sultan’s View of Andalucía,” featured only about ten minutes in Córdoba, and the only eating they did was toast with tomato and olive oil.  Of course, they ate it in my favorite plaza, Plaza de la Corredera, which has an amazing history dating back to Roman times–some of the mosaics uncovered here in the 1960s are on display at the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos–and is also sort of the center of Córdoba hippie culture.

That midafternoon light I so love

Here’s a short video of the plaza (with Spanish commentary):

It’s the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon…first a couple of beers with friends, then a long and mellow (but huge) communally-eaten lunch, then more café hopping for café con leche and whatever else comes your way. As annoying as it may sometimes be that everything is closed on Sundays, it also means the day is intended for relaxing, socializing, and lots of eating.

But, since the food of Córdoba didn’t get much coverage in the last episode, and the city can be sort of hard to navigate, foodwise, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite choices. Many tourists never leave the Judería neighborhood, which is unequivocally the historical center, but is sort of a food desert–either bad touristy places with overpriced, frozen paella and a menu in eight languages or haute cuisine only really available to the upper crust of the tourist masses. But Córdoba is not lacking in good places to eat, and none of these are more than a ten or fifteen minute walk outside the main tourist areas.

Click on the individual boxes to read the full reviews I wrote on tupalo.com.






And if you find yourself feeling a bit peckish during that long stretch between 2 pm lunch and 10 pm dinner, there’s always potato chips.

Celebrating Córdoba November 16, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andalucía, blog, moving, photography, Spain, Travel.
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As was well documented in this blog, Córdoba and I had sort of a love/hate relationship when I lived there. It’s a strange city, one so focused on the past and its pedigree among top historical sites that it sometimes neglects its present. Córdoba has a strong alternative side, though, a counterpart to the ubiquitous pijo-ness that can be witnessed at certain bars, in Plaza Corredera, and by the female, Communist mayor. And its traditional cuisine is famous in Spain, especially salmorejo and flamenquín.

But needless to say, there are things I miss (among those things, salmorejo and flamenquín!). And since the episode of Spain…On the Road Again airing this evening on PBS focuses on Córdoba and nearby wonderful Granada, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate what Córdoba does have to offer, both for tourists and for those who might leave the Judería and stick around for a while.

I’ll offer up my personal recommendations and favorite spots in the next day or two, but in the meantime, there’s really one reason people flock to Córdoba – the Mezquita. When I lived in Córdoba, I would stop in to the Mezquita, free before 10 am, from time to time. These are some of my shots from those mornings.

Music: “Córdoba (Soleá)” – Vicente Amigo from the album “Ciudad de las Ideas”

As for Granada, check out a few of my many Alhambra photos on Flickr.