‘Tis the season of round-up blog posts!
I’ve had a strange and intense year—a lot of personal changes in my life, a lot of updates, a lot of ups and downs. Some of those you’ve seen in my writing whether here on my travel blog, or on my Twitter, or on my crazy rants on Instagram. But a lot I’ve kept to myself.
In those times when we’re not sure what’s next, we do what we always do: we look back. But with one foot forward (because I can’t stand still) and one foot in the past, I’ve spent a lot of my year in a constant state of reflection.
And that inward thinking that’s defined my year—even while mostly private within my own mind and among my close friends; it’s manifested itself in some weird ways. Often publicly.
A lot of you noticed. In the past few months I’ve received countless messages of support from friends, followers, and strangers—so many of you that have quietly liked my photos or shared my blogs noticed something was up. My tone in my writing this year has noticeably changed. And I’ve spent a lot of the year wondering what I’m doing, what I’ve done, and what’s next. An old habit for someone naturally curious.
Hence this accidental them in my work online—one where I’m publicly reflecting on very private things. I can’t thank you all enough for following through this.
It’s been a relatively intense year of creativity for me. I’ve started writing in a journal more regularly, scribbling notes, saving secret drafts, using the Oxford comma, and brainstorming everything and anything. Sometimes you get in that spirit where you just want to create and do things, and that’s how I’d describe my year. I did a lot. And I thought of even more things I wanted to do and to see, too. Some of it has shown up online, a lot has disappeared into the oblivion. But: there’s so much more to come in 2018.
Change often comes abruptly. It hits us hard and forces us to keep moving, to stay standing. For an emotional nut like myself, it comes with an often absurd amount of over-thinking, reflection, and worry…but wonder. My 2017 was one of my best yet, but challenging too.
So, let me share with you a bit of my year. A look back at where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and a little peek at what I was thinking where and when. A reflection on my year as a traveler.
My Instagram Best Nine
It’s the end of the year so everyone is sharing their “Instagram Best Nine”—a fun tool to discover what was most popular from your year as measured by Instagram likes. Personally, I can’t think of any way worse to measure one’s year. But of course it’s still a fun experiment. My “Instagram Best Nine” is exactly what I’d expect—me in my underwear, me with rainbows, and even the odd travel photo.
But rather than focus on what you’ve all liked from my year of instatravel, I thought it’d be more interesting for me to share my actual highlights—those moments from my year where I felt something. A reflection on an incredible year of travel and a lot of change.
My Instagram Best Nine – Reflections
New York City, NY
After years of not visiting NYC, I found myself in the city twice in the past 12 months. And the art nerd that I am, I spent my visits in the museums, of course. My wintery afternoon in the MoMA was of course one of my highlights. Museums have always been a place of escape for me and the MoMA is always a favorite. I sought out this particular window at the MoMA, though, because I have a photo from almost 8 years ago in the same spot. And this year was all about looking back at the past and toward the future, so it makes sense that I’d recreate one of my favorite photos. Above: the MoMA window in 2017; below: the MoMA window in late 2009.
2018 was as much about reflections as it was about art. This photo was from the annual Georgetown GLOW light/art festival each year in Washington, D.C.—it was freezing cold but I was obsessed with the play on light, color, and of course: reflection.
I spent last year at home in Texas with my family. And if you didn’t know, Grapevine is the Christmas Capital of Texas. It’s taken VERY seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I either marched in the Christmas parade or watched from the grocery store parking lot—but Christmas in Grapevine will always be a part of my home.
More art. I don’t know how many museums and galleries I went to this year because I don’t really keep track, but it’s a lot. While I was home in Dallas for some of last year’s winter, I visited the Dallas Contemporary—a great gallery of contemporary art. Couldn’t resist the bathroom selfie, though.
Oh, another bathroom selfie. There were many this year but the Bunker bar in Bangkok’s Sathorn neighborhood was certainly the coolest. The bartender insisted we had to check out the toilet before leaving—it pays to make friends with your bartender.
Toward the end of the summer I was invited on a campaign with a car rental company and, at the urging of my friend and blog-buddy Cheryl, we decided to take our car and beeline our way down to Germany’s most instagrammable hotspot. Visiting the Rakotzbrücke Devil’s Bridge is pretty much a requirement for anyone who wants to be somebody on Instagram in Germany. Some photographers ignore the signs and climb the bridge (which is no longer in use) to get “that perfect shot” (ugh), others just Photoshop themselves onto it (probably even worse because it just then inspires others to do it), and then there’s me who just throws a rock in the pond and hopes for the best. Can I call myself a photographer yet?
I’m no stranger to the selfie (#sorrynotsorry). Toilet selfies and elevator selfies are pretty much my game. But this summer, during a weekend in Manchester, I went with not only an elevator selfie, but a #4amselfie. It was a long, crazy, super queer night out in one of my favorite gay cities and I was drunk and covered in glitter—what’s a boy to do?! That night was a lot of fun (with mermaid drag queens and Disney sing-a-longs) but I won’t tell you what happened the next morning. That story went into my private journal.
Alcudia, Mallorca, Spain
I spent a lot of 2017 looking out of windows—plains, trains, buses, my Airbnbs, and my apartment. Windows are so often the subject of analogies because they offer that kind of worldview that can be applied to any situation. A reflection, a solid object, a barrier from here to there. Windows are the perfect tool for reflection. This one in Mallorca—a lovely look at the still-summer weather outside and my crazy year raging through my mind.
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Art, art, art, art! It’s what gives me life and in October I spent a long weekend in Eindhoven at the annual Dutch Design Week. It was a whirlwind weekend of art shows and weird exhibitions. I loved it.