I flew last week

The overwhelming lobby in the hotel I stayed in Queens.

I flew last week.

For most of my adult life, that wouldn’t be remarkable. I’ve been flying pretty regularly since I was 17, and my working-class rural Mississippi self climbed on the airplane to Parris Island because I was desperate to leave the small world I inhabited.

But the last time I had been on a plane prior to last Sunday was in December of 2019, before the world went crazy and a global pandemic killed more than 1 million people in just the US. Before crowds became deadly, and before a group of right wings terrorists attempted to overthrow the government, and before my Dad died and before the depression hit me and the economic uncertainty came and before the whole world changed.

I hate flying in the best of times. It’s undignified in every way. They cram you in a tiny space, they carry out security theater, they nickel and dime you to death and they heard you from place to place like cattle, with no thought given to your comfort or dignity. At the bottom of your heart, while flying, you know at all times that they are currently devising a way to extract more dollars from you while making you less comfortable. I hate it.

But I like having flown. I like visiting new places and discovering new things and seeing people I have nmot seen in ages or sometimes ever and I like eating new food and seeing more of this world we live in, and all the while marveling that I had ancestors who were alive in my childhood that never traveled more than 100 miles from their home. It’s an amazing time to be alive, all things considered.

So I explored Queens and Brooklyn, and took a train to Baltimore, and had meals with people I love but have not seen in years and learned things I did not know and my vision of the world got just a tiny bit larger, and the number of lives I have intersected with and thus been forever changed by has increased by some factor.

It was lovely.

I should also say that because I have an immunocompromised wife, I did it with fear and every possible precaution, because I still have traumatic responses to crowds and pandemics and all the things. But I still did it, which makes me proud of me.

It was truly lovely. Well, except for the actual flying part. But the rest of it – that was good.

Five Beautiful Things

I love a good diner. I even wrote an essay a while back about how much I love them. So I was tickled to see this photo essay in the Guardian about the loveliness of the American Diner. It reminded me of this essay about Waffle House Vistas, where the author visited Waffle Houses in 9 Southern states and took pictures of what he saw through the windows.

I’m sure there is a word for people, like me, who enjoy process. I love to watch a meal being made well. Or a craftsperson executing a skill well. Even if, probably especially if, it’s a skill I don’t have myself. Like this beautifully shot 2 minute video of Japanese blacksmiths making knives.

Macro photography is fascinating. So much is hidden to us because our eyes are not strong enough to see it (and, if we are honest, because we are not paying attention). Photographer Levon Bliss spent 3 years photographing incredibly detailed photos of rare, endangered, and extinct insects from the American Museum of Natural History’s collection.

A collection of winning photographs from the Astronomy Photographer of The Year awards. I’m a sucker for “space stuff”, as one reader put it.

They buried Queen Elizabeth this morning. Better, more thoughtful writers than me have written countless words about her complicated legacy, but in all the hoopla, I loved this article about the mourners who bring flowers to Buckingham palace as a way to show their respects. The photos are well done, and so is the writing. Such a beautiful piece overall.

FYI

A ‘vlog’ is a sort of video blog if you will. Some are very simple. Some are elaborate and highly edited. In my constant quest to learn new skills, I’m vlogging each day, mostly on my daily therapy walk. I’m posting them on TikTok and YouTube and Instagram, which is probably the easiest place to follow along. They are all under 90 seconds, because I’m also trying to figure out Instagram’s “reels”, which have a 90-second time limit. This is more “learning a new skill” than a “creative outlet” at this point, but some people like them.

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