2016 | ch- ch- ch- changes

favorite photos from 2016 // canon 5d + 6d 

On paper, 2016 was a perfect year.

I started the year with no idea what I wanted to do with my life--figured out I wanted to be a photojournalist in March, graduated in May, and started my first job as a newspaper photographer in June. I moved to Wyoming--WYOMING, guys. I flew to Atlanta and Phoenix, swung by New York City twice, and road tripped cross-country. And, in my professional life, things were just as good, because I had opportunity after opportunity presented to me--opportunities I probably didn't deserve. I covered two presidential candidates, two division i playoffs, two rodeos, and a ground-breaking protest.

In reality though, 2016 was a little bit of a mess. Things fell apart. I graduated college, and left everyone. I moved to Wyoming and got a job and became an adult and spent a lot of time trying to keep a stiff upper lip. Donald Trump got elected. I cried a lot.

It was a good year, (a really long year), overall, but it was one of constant change, constant new-ness. 2016 felt, for the most part, like navigating a small ship in stormy seas--but now, here I am, on the edge of the storm, and the skies are clearing, and I've got a warm feeling about 2017. Thanks for reading, friends. See you in the new year.

cross country road trip: part two

see part one, here. 

It all goes wrong in Des Moines.

Back on the highway, burgers in our bellies, we miss the turn-off for I 80. Well, Ma says, We did want to take the back roads for part of the trip, anyways, and so we map out a way to take state highways to Sioux Falls where we'll stay for the night. It will be a long few hours, but we're both eager to see little midwestern towns, with white steepled churches and little schools and cute downtown diners, the stuff you see in movies, anyways.

Except, we never see that.

For hours, we drive on flat, endless highways through cornfields--empty landscapes, unchanging for miles. We hardly see any cars; the only sign of civilization are the long driveways and black mailboxes, every mile or so. We almost run out of gas, and stop in one of the few towns we see--Early, population 557 (one of the bigger towns, actually).

At the crossroads of a highway, we pull into a parking lot, the wind whipping the doors closed as we jump out to cautiously circle around an abandoned motel. The doors are bolted shut, but I can see into it, and Ma and I get into our usual argument--I'm going to go in! Not over my dead body, Shannon Cathleen. 

Hours later, and we're still driving through the deserted back highways of Northwestern Iowa, seemingly nowhere near Sioux Falls. We are both cranky; Ma has me pull over because I'm driving too fast, and she's going to lose her mind if I continue.

We pull into Sioux Falls near nightfall, and rush to a Panera before it closes. It's one of the ugliest cities I've ever seen, nothing but busy roads and rushing, and we head back to the hotel to console ourselves with wine and broccoli cheddar soup, because We Are Tired Of This. We're eager to get to the next part of the trip--The Badlands, and then straight through to Wyoming--and, so, Sioux Falls gets no love.

(to be continued) 

cross-country road trip: part one.

photos + words from my drive cross-country, from Massachusetts to Wyoming, in June. part one of four. 

America is so flat. 

Well, not all of it. But so much of the countryside—endless countryside, which I see outside the car window for days on end—is so goddamn flat. 

It seems funny to say, sad to admit, but I’ve never driven west of Pennsylvania. 22 years in this country, and I’ve hardly stepped foot out of New England—so when we get past Erie, and swing into Cleveland, my nose is pressed up against the glass. Now, the adventure has begun. 

We pass through Ohio in a torturous drive, hours upon hours upon hours of non-descript countryside and endless highways. Indiana flies by in a similar fashion. At one point, starving, we swing up into a tiny town in Michigan, where see a car accident on an empty road and eat McDonald’s in a fancy joint, rain spattering the windows. 

West of Chicago is where everything changes. The scenery is no longer anything remotely recognizable—all of a sudden, it’s flat. And rural. And green. There are barns, and silos, and teensy tiny houses set all the way back in big green fields. 

We cross into Iowa in the middle of a storm. On one side of the highway, the clouds are ominous, black almost—on the other, pieces of sunlight shine through clouds. Mom puts on the Christian radio station—we’ve listened to every station at this point, and something about it seems right. 

In Davenport, we drive into the city and stop at the Mississippi. It’s still raining, a little, and we stare at the sheer width of the river, and ma mutters that she hopes she doesn’t have to drive across it. 

Both of us fall in love with Davenport, spending a couple of days driving around before we leave. By the river, there are bluffs, with falling-down mansions, huge, impressive painted lady Victorians with views to die for. On our way out, we stop at a supermarket in a run-down area for bottles of water and snacks, and we see a different side to the city that’s so impressive and beautiful by the river. 

That day, we stop in Des Moines for lunch. I had read about the city, how it’s ‘the next great city’, and we eat burgers at a zombie-themed restaurant. The neighborhood we’re in, downtown, is hipster, but it’s also strange to me. I’m used to downtown neighborhoods being crowded, narrow little one-way streets teeming with people and cars, where you have to sacrifice your first-born child for a parking spot. In comparison, this place is empty—wide streets, ample parking, buildings new and spread kind of far apart, for city standards, a couple of vacant lots. This is what Western cities look like, I will soon find out, but for now, I’m just intrigued. 

[to be continued]

hump-day reading i.

seen on south adams street 

Happy Wednesday, friends! Here are some cool things to read: 

+ A gut-wrenching, stomach-turning, devastating, incredible photo essay on the antidrug campaign in the Philippines (warning: graphic)

+ I needed these words of encouragement, today. 

+ Screaming over this Saturday Night Live skit--if it weren't for the political sketches, would they even need the men? ??? The women on this show are hilarious. 

+ I really like this song, and I consider this one my anthem. 

What are you reading?

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