Tuesday, July 4, 2017


The view of the city from the highest point of Iroquios Park. We biked all the way from the river (past the downtown buildings you see here) to this point! About 15 miles total.
In the few weeks between my decision to visit Louisville and my visit to Louisville, I coincidentally met a handful of people who currently or previously lived there. They all enthused about their city, raising my expectations for a place I hadn't previously heard much about.

48 hours there completely sold me on it. A three-hour drive from Nashville, Louisville is a perfect weekend getaway with just enough to offer that you want to go back.

Bonus: Mammoth Cave National Park is exactly halfway there!

Louisville boasts an outsized number of impressive breweries.

Gralehaus was our favorite breakfast location of the trip... which we returned to on Sunday, after sticking our heads into multiple locales that just didn't live up to the ambiance here.

Back patio at Gralehaus 

classic Louisville view (Ohio River)

inspiration from the Muhammad Ali Museum

beer cheese + farmhouse bread at Akasha Brewing Co

excellent vegetarian shepherd's pie at Akasha

Breakfast Round II at Gralehaus

distillery tour at the "Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience"


I am not a whiskey drinker. I could handle only tiny sips of these samples, and shuddered with each one.

wonderful display of Southern (commentary) art at the Speed Contemporary Art Museum (which is free admission on Sundays!)

One of my favorite pieces. I noticed the "no photos" symbol after taking the photo...

Awesome sunset (and giant jenga) at Apocalypse Brewing Co!

Other highlights of the trip included the science museum, the history museum, and biking around Cherokee Park. Truly an ideal weekend in a beautiful and engaging place!

Monday, June 19, 2017

ATX 2017

Austin is so sunny. My soul is sunny when I'm in Austin.

Now that I no longer live there, anyway. Unfortunate irony.

main source of my Austin happiness

highlight of the weekend - two-stepping in "Texas's best honky tonk"!

Happy Fathers Day, padre! 

This was a family and fun-filled weekend. I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent time with my sisters (both of whom are working there this summer) and Alban, whose last day of work (before grad school) was Friday. Dad, June, and Davis arrived Saturday; we gathered for a family lunch then toured Janie's workplace and Mary McCall's apartment. After scattering for naps at our respective lodging places, we re-convened at Broken Spoke for a laughter-filled two hours of dancing. Sunday featured a family brunch at Elizabeth St. Cafe — I was excited my all-American family was up for Vietnamese brunch! Sadly my flight back to Nashville was early Sunday afternoon. I'll be excited to see MM on her road trip back to NC later this week, to see the NC folks on my likely trip to Tarboro in July, and to see Alban at my friends-reunion lake party in August! Can't get enough of my favorite people <3 

Monday, June 12, 2017


I'm fascinated by the culture that has been built up around Bonnaroo. It's not just a festival, an event, a place. It's a sense of community. An identity. An escape. A self-contained culture.

me enjoying Bonnaroo culture

Key elements of the Bonnaroo style:
  • hair in two braids or two buns
  • intense sunburn (why have these people not mastered sunscreen yet?)
  • tattoos, glitter, body paint
  • floral prints & tie-die 
  • fanny packs & bandanas
  • spectrum of neon colors
  • free-hanging breasts
  • high-waisted "cheeky" shorts
  • pierced belly buttons 
my Bonnaroo look

As you might notice from that list, the women of Bonnaroo adhere to a more defined uniform than the men.

Other characteristic elements of Bonnaroo:
  • high five-ing strangers
  • varying levels of drug-induced trances/dances 
  • fried foods & plastic cups of beer
  • heavy clouds of smoke & dust 

As you can probably tell from the anthropological notes, I just got back from my first time at Bonnaroo. I was there from early Thursday morning until late Sunday night as a "vendor," volunteering at the Porch Writers Collective booth in a nonprofit area called Planet Roo. 

my Bonnaroo view
Strangely (to me), a lot of Bonnaroo attendees never went to Planet Roo. I learned during the weekend that many people hang out at their campsite all morning, usually drinking/smoking with their "Roo Croo," until they feel drunk and/or high enough to go to shows (which start early afternoon). This realization made me ponder how happy I am to be confident in my personal values and priorities. Personal health is a high priority for me, so I don't like smoking or heavy drinking. Exploration and awareness are high priorities for me, so it seemed natural for me to familiarize myself with every area of "Center Roo" (the festival's main campus). Clearly not everyone shares these values, and therefore lots of people "did" the festival differently than me. Hike your own hike.

The Head & the Heart - one of my favorite shows all weekend

Sweet Crude - a band from New Orleans that I LOVED

Mandolin Orange <3

classic Roo: a penis inflatable (complete with a sheer condom), emerging from a pink-frosted donut inflatable. Next to a unicorn inflatable. My group used this as a landmark to find each other before Lorde's performance Sunday night.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reducetarian Summit

I'm addicted to NYC. I keep going back and I can't stop myself. Having such great friends there is a big part of the draw:

Zaki waited in line over an hour for this. I showed up just in time to order! Note my "coconut ash" flavor — paired beautifully with green tea pistachio!

This was supposed to be a mid-afternoon snack. When I saw that a slice cost $5, I just assumed it was overpriced — never dreaming that it would be 5x bigger than a regular slice.

friends since age 17! #DYW
Robertson Class of 2015 reunion!
dosa with Niki <3

 But the real reason I went to NYC this time was for the Reducetarian Summit.
Founder/organizer Brian Kateman: "It's not all or nothing."
The idea behind the summit is reducing global consumption of animal products. All the meals and snacks served at the conference were vegan, but there were actually vegans protesting outside because they thought the "reducetarian" approach was too laid-back, or lenient. I, however, felt energized and inspired by it.

Conference Caro

As someone said onstage, the overall global impact is much higher if a large number of people each reduce their meat consumption slightly, rather than a smaller number of people giving up animal products entirely.

No cow's milk for your coffee here!
I was psyched to hear my friend Richard McCarthy, director of Slow Food USA, speak on a panel about changes on the national/community level.
I'm not an extremist; I'm a thoughtful decision-maker. I weigh my values and choose what honors them the most, to the greatest extent possible. I'm vegetarian, and I support reduced global consumption of animal products. But love cheese, so I eat cheese. It's easier for me to give up meat, seafood, and cow's milk than it is for me to give up cheese — but I try to make sure the cheese I eat is from a small-scale, sustainable, humanely-run farm.

This conference aligned with my approach. I loved hearing the diversity of perspectives and ideas presented: a type of collaboration that wouldn't be possible for someone insisting that everyone adhere to total veganism. For that exact reason, my favorite panel was about lab-engineered meat products — genetically authentic meat that eliminates the need for raising and butchering animals! So cool.

For more conference highlights, you can check out my Twitter feed, where I made prolific use of the #ReducetarianSummit hashtag.

And to cap off a fantastic weekend, I made a pit stop in Boston:

<3 our friendship gets better with time (and with each meal shared) <3

Note the cheese, egg, and meat on our pizza..........
Like I said, it's about thoughtful, informed, and intentional decision-making :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

AT 2017

On Sunday, May 7, I slept five hours, drove five hours, rode in a shuttle van two hours, then hiked eight miles. It was a great day.

My start: Fontana Dam, where I ended last year's AT hike. As soon as I got out of the shuttle, two separate tourists, back-to-back, asked me directions to the Trail. "Where'd you come from?" One asked, eyeing my stained clothing. "Nashville," I said. "You hiked here from Nashville?!"
my favorite thing to see when I look up
I spent the following nine days hiking south towards Unicoi Gap, GA, where I'd left my car. Along the way, I interviewed and photographed northbound thru-hikers for a project modeled loosely after Humans of New York — which, surprisingly, not many thru-hikers had heard of.

Here are a sampling of the photographs (ones that I don't plan on selling to magazines):

I asked them what being American means to them. Nearly everyone paused to consider the question, and nearly everyone concluded, "Freedom." But most couldn't articulate exactly what that meant. I think America is about diversity and about embracing that diversity to move forward together, so I liked the answers that riffed on that idea. One person said rather bitterly that to be American means to consume.

I also asked everyone what they think is the number one problem our country faces. Many talked about political divides, ignorance, fear, selfishness, and the like. Only two or three out of 50 said "global warming." A handful said drugs, one said homelessness. A couple of people said greed/love of money. Several people talked about the federal budget. I liked the answers to this question a lot more than the answers to the "being American" question.

Other favorite photos from the trip:

the best kind of bed canopy

self-timer self-portrait
sunset that evening

sunrise on my last morning on the trail
same sunrise
trail mix burrito: my lunch for 10 days

last peak on last day

I love hiking! And sunshine! And trees! And mountains! And sunrises and sunsets and trail mix burritos! And my tent and my sleeping bag and my sleeping pad and my stove and morning camp tea and camp oatmeal! and memorizing poetry and knowing the "I have a dream" part of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech! and feeling physically capable! and meeting new people and encountering new ideas! This hike was a nice reminder of how much I love all those things.