2009 January : focus to infinity

this has inspired me to stop chewing gum

January 27, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 4 Comments 

i was in Dallas this weekend for work.

i filmed this there.

then i felt silly and took thirty seconds to make this.

it might have been the best use ever of my 30 seconds.

lazy woman’s post.

January 27, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 2 Comments 

I wrote two other posts, but then I had technical problems with photos. So here’s an oldie — a photo of a chess match back in 2007 — you know, when people had jobs and stuff. chess-challenge.jpg

Good Luck

January 16, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 4 Comments 

A certain someone has a certain tryout tomorrow. So here’s to dreams coming true. mbayefoot1.jpgmbayefoot2.jpg


Baby Love

January 16, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment 

Yes, I’ve gone completely domestic with the blog this week. A wedding and now babies. I can’t help it. During our visit to Sarasota last weekend, nearly everyone had a baby or a house or a ring (or sometimes one of each) to show me!

Because jewelry and architecture photography aren’t really my favorite topics, I of course would rather post photos of the babies. The little boy is Britta and Ian Alexander’s awesome Isaiah. This kid laughs as much as most kids gurgle. And the adorable girl is Liz and Dan Noonan’s gorgeous-eyed Hadley (who celebrated her first b-day last week). I wish I was around Sarasota to babysit these two kids. They’re great (no surprise, both sets of parents pretty much rock).


And making a special appearance in the baby blog,  are Greg and Cat. I love this photo, especially because they had no idea I was taking it when they snuck a kiss. They just got engaged, which makes—literally—fourth friend I know tying the knot this year. Congrats!


A Celebration of Backlighting

January 14, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 5 Comments 

Oh, the days of eternal beaches and sunshine.

This past weekend we were in Sarasota and St. Pete visiting friends, having a business meeting (sweet – write off!), photographing a wedding (see below) and attending a one-year-old’s birthday party. I know, I know. Rock. Stars.

On Saturday, we had a stellar day with Heidi in St. Pete. We threw a beach picnic of turkey sammies and diet coke. The birds tried to attack and steal said picnic, but in the end, we prevailed.

Heidi is a fantabulous friend I made way back in ’05 when I had my first ever Big Girl job at the Sarasota Observer. Back in those days, there were quite a few of us recent grads at the weekly paper: Heids, Tammy, Me, Katy K., Troy, Kevin, Roger, Kat, etc…all at the Observer. We would accost city council members, big-shot businessmen and ridiculously rich real estate agents with numerous phone calls and ask them all kinds of questions. Can you imagine having a bunch of 22-23 year olds prying into your business, when you’re the one calling the shots in a town like Sarasota? Hehehehehe…it makes me smile to think of it now. It was SUCH a good education in journalism, government and politics.

But those were the weekdays (ok, and lots of weeknights and weekends). So when we weren’t bothering Sarasota’s dealmakers, we were all together on the beach or at Heidi’s legendary cottage in Laurel Park. We would take in too much sun and drink too many cold beers (only sometimes, mom) and talk too much about journalism and writing, whenever we could squeeze in the time away from the papers. I can only describe it as the best way to spend your first two years out of college—with awesome friends, at an awesome job in a gorgeous town.

Now, most of my Sarasota friends aren’t there anymore. We’ve moved on or up or around or whatever you do when you know you can’t stay in one place for too long. I don’t necessarily long to relive those Sarasota days, because I’m not the same person, and I wouldn’t appreciate them the way I did then. But I sure am happy as hell I got to have them. To celebrate, here’s some photos from St. Pete Beach


Will you still need me, will you still feed me?

January 13, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 3 Comments 

On Sunday, I got to photograph/attend one of the coolest wedding celebrations ever. My amazing friend and mentor (in the sense that she bestows on me fabulous wisdom) got married to her boyfriend, Bob.

Bob is 71. Leita is 70.

I have never, nor will I ever, meet anyone else like Leita. I don’t think there IS anyone like her. Leita is one of those women that when you meet her, you say to yourself, “Okay, if this is what getting older can be like, I can do it. In fact, I kind of WANT to do it.”

What I mean by that is she has more energy than most people I know (including me). She seems to has soaked everything in during her lifetime, and let all of that experience, whether its been happy, painful or chaotic, and shape her into a better person. She sees life through experienced, but still rose-tinted glasses.

She’s passionate about causes, and people and love. She starts stories with sentences like, “When I was hitchhiking through Italy.” She does things her way, because that’s the way she knows is best for her.

For instance, getting married at 70. Many if not most people would not even fathom getting married at that time in their lives. But Leita is not most people. At the wedding, one of Bob’s friends gave a speech. She said that after Bob’s first wife died, she never thought he would find another wonderful angel like her. And he didn’t. In Leita, he found a wonderful devil.

I am SO lucky to have met Leita. She lights up the room when she walks into it, and she has a genuine positive enthusiasm for all-things life. Leita and Bob: Congrats.




January 6, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 3 Comments 

Today’s title is officially the unofficial new name of my blog. Often people ask me, ‘so what are you doing? When are you going back to Africa? Who are you working for right now?”

In Senegal some of us joked it sounded like we were spies, because we always answered the “who do you work for?” question with a “well, lots of people.” Or “that depends on the day.” And in fact, we did work for the US government at times, though Voice of America is hardly a spy agency.

The truth is, I rarely answer the question, because I rarely know the answer. I’ve got some ongoing websites I write copy for, but besides that I spend a lot of days searching for work. Open on my computer right now are:

8: Internet tabs. One is my email. Two are the Chicago Tribune. One is an application to freelance work at the Chicago Tribune. One is Facebook (for research – really!). One is a press release about a recent grant rewarded to the University of California to help them understand the impact of religion on humanitarian efforts worldwide (I’m trying to get into religion reporting). One is my portfolio website (so I can copy some links to send to the freelance application).

Oh, and I’m not finished.

6: Word documents. One is an ongoing writing project I will keep to myself at this point. One is an outline of that project. One is a list of story ideas from West Africa. One is a list of story ideas from Chicago. One is a list of notes about the Philippines. One is this the word document from this blog (which, might I add, now numbers 111 pages—single-spaced.

Also open:

1: InDesign document (my resume)

1: iTunes (of course. Always)

1: Uploading tool. I’m uploading a video to one of my websites.

1: Photo that I’m re-sizing to put up with this post. (see below)

and Skype.

Yeah, that makes me tired, too.

And I was excited to post some photos I took with my film camera the other day, just to discover that the CD, processed by Walgreens last night, has nothing on it. Thanks dude.

In honor of freelancers everywhere, here’s a Freelance Phone Card Hawker in Dakar.

Huh? Why is that photo so small??? Urgh.. now I’m having problems with my WordPress uploader. Happy Tuesday, folks.

Face Off

January 5, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 2 Comments 

I read a story today about an experiment that took place in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post gave one of the world’s most premier violinists, Joshua Bell, one of the world’s best violins, worth millions of dollars.

They then had him play inside the Washington, D.C. metro during the morning commute. He played six of the finest classical pieces of music. In 43 minutes, nearly 1,100 people passed by the middle-aged man dressed in a long-sleeved t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. There was no sign acknowledging who the violinist was. Three days before his Metro performance, Bell had played before a sold-out crowd of people who paid $100 a piece for tickets.

At the end of the 43 minutes playing at the Metro, only a few people stopped to listen, Bell made $32.17.

The point of the story I read was a piece about how people need to communicate their strengths, and that skill alone doesn’t just get you where you want to be.

I thought that was interesting, and worth sharing.

Also worth sharing are these portraits I recently took—portraits being something I’m trying to ‘strengthen’ in my own classical repertoire.


And Oh my gosh you have to watch this all the way through:

Watch CBS Videos Online

Thanksgiving on New Years.

January 2, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 6 Comments 

Starting the New Year off right, I’d like to issue a long, overdue and public thank you letter to some people I owe a lot to:

1.    Kari Barber and Naomi Seck: Thank you for taking me under your ‘wings.’ Thank you for showing me how to deal with foreign visas, French interviews, video equipment and radio writing. Thank you for hiring me for so many stories. Thank you for walking through rivers with me to the Indian Store during rainy season to talk about my crazy issues. Thank you for being awesome friends. Meeting you guys is definitely one of the reasons this was a great year.

2.    Nico Colombant: Thanks for giving me a chance. Thanks for putting up with some lousy radio writing at times. Thanks for encouraging me and especially appreciating my photography. Thanks for that second-floor, to the right.

3.    Leita Kaldi: Thanks for telling me on the first day I met you, in the fall of 2006: “Oh darling, you want to go Senegal!? Then you will! And you must!” And thanks for everything you did after that to get my butt there.

4.    Heidi: Thanks for always being excited for me at the right times, and skeptical of me at the right times.

5.    Roger: Thanks for encouraging me and always smiling.

6.    Zoe: Thanks for being the big sister I never had.

7.    Tammy: Thanks for caring about my adventures. Your blog comments always make me so happy.

8.    Kevin: Thanks for being so awesome with Mbaye. French dictionaries and FIFA? You’re the best.

9.    Valerie G: Thanks for encouraging me to look for work and stay in Senegal.

10.    My Senegalese family: Thanks for opening your world to me, and thus completely changing mine.

11.    Kenz: Thanks for always letting me know I have a friend: no matter where I am. Thanks for helping teach me what it means to be a good friend.

12.    Matt T.: Thanks for understanding. You always seem to get it. Thanks for helping teach me what it means to be a good friend.

13.    Ali: Thanks for just plain being one of the nicest, most generous people I know. Thanks for helping teach me what it means to be a good friend.

14.    Kerry: Thanks for making it feel like no matter how much time has passed, we’ll always be as close as we were when that door connected our bedrooms in the Dumas days.

15.    Kristi: Thanks being my best friend and putting up with my shenanigans for 17 years! Jesus that’s a long time to deal with me.

16.    Daria: Thanks for long walks through Karack. Thanks for supportive and helpful advice. And thanks for just being so cool.

17.    Sarah: Thanks for the best breakfast conversations.

18.    Roxi: Thanks for always being there for me. I could never ask for a better sister.

19.    G & G: Thank you for everything you did for me my first 25 years. Thank you for teaching me how to read, how to believe in myself, and how to stand up for myself. Don’t for one second think I will ever forget or even begin to stop being grateful.

20.    Mom: Thanks for supporting me moving across the world, even though I know it made you a little sad and a lot scared. Thanks for always just wanting me to be happy. Thanks for trusting my judgment. You are the epitome of a good mother.

21.    Daddy-o: Thanks for being a voice of reason (even when I don’t want it). Thanks for believing in me. Thanks for the daily emails. Thanks for the occasional $upport.

22.    Mbaye: Thank you for teaching by example. Thank you for giving 50 cents to a child beggar on the streets when all you have is 75 cents. Thank you for being one of the most generous, kind and thoughtful human beings I’ve ever met. Thank you for your perspective and way-beyond-your-years wisdom. Thank you for grounding me. When I’m with you, I learn how to be a better person.

And of course thanks to everyone who reads my blog! Happy new year.

and no – my new years resolution is not to include a photo of myself in every post.. that’s an unfortunate coincidence.