12 months + 12 songs

It is hard to believe how different life can be from year to year. Last year at this time, I was still miserable. I wanted to be back in New Zealand farming, back in Baghmara shoveling dirt, back in India getting lost. I wanted to be anywhere but beautiful North Carolina.

As I write this, I still want to be anywhere//everywhere, although this time around I’m happy. Happier than I have been in a very long time.

There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’

– Alexandre Dumas

In 2012, I spent a lot of time on rooftops, I took lots of photos, started a new relationship with Harold, spent another summer in Asia, moved into a new house, made new friends, posted a lot of alphabets, and had dear friends from England, New Zealand, Australia, etc. stay with me in Carrboro. Most of all, in 2012, I finally had to admit to myself going back to school and staying at UNC was okay. . . and I would survive.

Of course there were down times, depressing days and moments when I wanted to give up, but 2012 was good. I am thankful for it all, the good and the bad.

2013 is going to be a good year too. A year of adventure, of trying, and of perseverance.

I’m finding it incredibly difficult to sort through the big events and memories of the past year, but it went something like this. . .




+ “We Move Lightly“_Dustin O’Halloran

In January, a new and better semester began. I escaped to the mountains with a group of incredible women. I contemplated dropping out of school again. And I pretended to like a lot of things I didn’t really like.


+ “Cold Wind“_ Among Savages

From what I can remember, February was a good month. I set a new list of  goals, got more involved at the OCRCC, and carried my camera around. Also, TedxUNC was cool.



+ “Everlasting Light“_The Black Keys

Favorite moments in March = Holi [Chapel Hill style not quite the same as this, but still fun], a weekend in Charlotte for the Black Keys + late night Waffle House, a weekend in Charlottesville and running 10 big miles with my favorite people.


+ “Verona“_Geographer

In April, I stopped wearing pants, ran away to the beach, got news that Kelsey + Alex were engaged, studied for exams, received a grant to go to Indonesia and got really distracted by plans for Bali. Plus, I spent a lot of time at Abbey Court.



+ “Eyes Wide Open“_ Gotye

On May 11, just a few days after the semester came to an end, I was on a plane from RDU -> NYC -> DUBAI -> JAKARTA. Jakarta = hung out with this guy, long walks, more rooftops [this time overlooking the dusty Jakarta skyline], morning yoga, getting stuck longer than expected thx to religious holidays. –> Bali. Bali = Australians, beaches, bungalows, fresh food, green rice field love, long bike rides, scary monkeys, Bumi Sehat, lots of yoga . . . Then, Bali got a whole let better when Amirah met me in Kuta. Bali with Amirah = pizza, beaches, sky garden, laughter, pools, life chats –> Gili Trawangan. Our time in Gili T was unreal. I honestly have a hard time believing it ever happened. It was paradise x 1000. Magical. Perfect in every way. Gili T = beaches, turquoise water, snorkeling, turtles, fish, volcano views, sunsets, endless nights, new friends, bike rides through the sand, naps in beach huts, sunburns. After beautiful Gili, we took the fast boat back to Bali and spent one more night catching up on sleep and swimming in the big dark pool before we flew to Yogyakarta.



+ “Welcome to My Paradise“_Steven and the Coconut Treez

In early June, the whole team made it to Jogja. We threw ourselves into Bahasa Indonesia language lessons at Alam Bahasa and I struggled to focus on anything more than morning coffee. We quickly made new friends, practiced driving our little motorbikes on the left side of the road, and Nicole and I moved to Tembi. We started work and Nicole and I learned how to make and move shadow puppets and a handful of phrases in Bahasa Java. We visited ancient temples, hiked an active volcano,  got in motorbike accidents, visited the beach most every day, ate too much rice, ate not enough rice, woke up every morning to the call to prayer at 4:30, made funny memories at Hugo’s and  fell in love everyday. In the end, this is what we had to show for all our work. Most of all, in June, I learned that even though I was just as unreliable with a phone as ever, I could work and enjoy work with a group.



+ “Pyramids” _Frank Ocean

In early July, even though I tried to stay in Indonesia, I made it home again after seven long flights. I thankfully had something fun to come home to and two days back,  Maria + Matt got married in the sand. The rest of the month was spent working and traveling a bit [including a brief stay in Hatteras island].



+ “You Are All I See“_ Active Child

Most of August was filled with work. I taught art classes in Davidson. Worked at the Beehive. In mid-August, I moved to Shelton St, painted a tiger mural in our living room, and started the best semester yet at UNC. I started learning Hindi, wrote my first poem, and switched my major. Plus, I got to photograph Lauren + Ben‘s gorgeous outdoor wedding.



+ “White Foxes“_Susanne Sundfor

In September, my little house in Carrboro was full. The highlight of all of September was all of the wonderful guest that filled my house from Virginia, New Zeland, Australia, and England. Most of the month was spent enjoying the warm sun and the start of a late fall. I went to Jordan lake a lot, went swimming, invented Graceball, laughed a lot, road tripped to D.C. . . . All the travelers made me happy and helped me feel a good deal like I was traveling myself. In September, I also designed this and got a triangle and stayed up all night by a campfire// drum circle at Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.



+ “The Science of Fear“_ The Temper Trap

October was filled. I was never around much//traveled most of the month.  On the 13th, Kelsey + Alex got married on weekend full of love, laughter, and some tears.



+”Hold Onto Love When You Get Love“_Stars

November happened. School happened. A few little trips [another to D.C. & Charlottesville] happened. And overall, things were really pleasant and fast-paced.



+ “Taro“_ Alt-J

By the time December rolled around, I was ready to be done with the semester and try something new. The semester finished quickly and I went home to work and play. I danced to celebrate the end of the world, played with cats + dogs, got sick, read books, set new goals and celebrated Christmas [twice].

+ 12 Little Lessons Learned in 12 Months [2012]

[Photos: 1.) NC mountains, 2.) early February flowers in CH, 3.) Gili Trawangan before sunset, 4.) Gili Trawangan with lovely people, 5.) final performance, Tembi, 6.) a morning with mount Merapi, 7.) Carrboro house, 8.) Jordan lake times, 9.) Temper Trap in concert, + 10.) end of the world rave//Grace Farson]

Winter morning




It feels like summer//70 degrees// Shorts to class.

I am entirely unprepared for a real winter.

Winters are long here.
The road a dark gray, the maples gray, silvered with lichen,
and the sun low on the horizon,
white on blue; at sunset, vivid orange-red.

When I shut my eyes, it vanishes.
When I open my eyes, it reappears.
Outside, spring rain, a pulse, a film on the window.

And suddenly it is summer, all puzzling fruit and light.

– Louise Glück, Winter Morning

For your Monday:

+ A pretty song about frost falling (?) for your week.

+ A pretty photo of St. Petersburg in snow

+ A pretty video of Iceland

[Photos: Comfortably cool September days in Virginia and North Carolina//Grace Farson]

In preparation for your weekend. . .

Here are some things to love:

It might just be my new theme song. . .

+ Amirah was interviewed for UK’s Sunday Times, and my photo of her covered two pages

+ Kevin Michael Briggs in Indonesia [more here]. This man has crazy talent and I’m proud to call him a friend.

+ Alastair Sopp

+ Nepal missing [as always]

+ Triangle love!

Happy weekend world! Do bold things.

And somehow . . . October happened

I feel like October will be one trying, challenging and altogether rewarding month. Campus is overwhelmingly gloomy today and everyone I have encountered today seems entirely distracted and stressed.

It seems that everything and everyone is annoying or upsetting everyone else.

I have to admit to feeling somewhat gloomy too. I had to come back to Chapel Hill//Carrboro yesterday after a lovely weekend back home [with family + Alex + Amirah + Jamie]. Home felt like a real escape and I never wanted to leave. We rave-caved// we roller-bladed// we stuffed our little mouths with curry and sweets.

In addition to your typical school//life-related issues, I feel weighed down by a lot of issues bigger than my head can handle at the moment.

These things:

+ Grace’s thoughts on studying abroad in Chapel Hill and communal living

+ This song

+ Every couple of months I get an alarmingly intense urge to pack up and leave it all behind for Mexico

+ Looked into classes here and now my head is swirling

+ This guy was arrested, mid-haircut

[Photos: Warmer September days at Lake Jordan//Grace Farson]

Rural reflections

“This is the grass your feet are planted on.

You paint it orange or you sing it green,

But you have never found

A way to make the grass mean what you mean.
A cloud can be whatever you intend:

Ostrich or leaning tower or staring eye.

But you have never found

A cloud sufficient to express the sky.
Get out there with your splendid expertise;

Raymond who cuts the meadow does not less.

Inhuman nature says:

Inhuman patience is the true success.
Human impatience trips you as you run;

Stand still and you must lie.

It is the grass that cuts the mower down;

It is the cloud that swallows up the sky.”

– Adrienne Rich

+ baby in a watermelon

+ my future, no doubt

+ i still want to be a carpenter more than most anything. . . one of these days i might just build a cabin.

[Photos: My favorite skies this week//Grace Farson]