Sunday, January 5, 2014

We can laugh about YOLO

It's the new year! That means it's also time for the 3rd Annual Year of Light photo collection. You can check out 2011's Year of Light, about friends and new beginnings in Chicago, and 2012's Beans, where I make terrible chili metaphors. If you're new to this annual event, it's essentially a photo essay about the previous year, through my eyes, should you care to see the world that way for a few minutes.

Some months from this past year have two photos and some have one, which is mostly because I didn't take many photos in 2013. I did, however, write about these moments almost every day. So, this year, I'm accompanying each photograph with a never-before-seen !! selection from my journal. Whoa, yeah, I have one, and you're probably in it. I hope 2013 brought you something as cool as, if not cooler than, what it brought me.


   J A N U A R Y   


This is my little cousin and Goddaughter, Ashlynn, who brings a fresh, adorable joy to the extended Auten family. She is the first girl, on the Auten side, to come into this world since me. Obviously, she's bringing back the awesome, too. This moment was captured by my mom, while Ashlynn was showing us some fresh and clean dance moves. She was also baptized last January.

Monday, January 7
"The peace of home and holding baby Ashlynn and laughing."


   F E B R U A R Y   


This snapshot is from "Don't Fret: Love in the Time of Online Dating," an art exhibition by a street artist named Don't Fret. It was one of my favorites in Chicago. The Pepsi piece is brilliant and did a great job of satirizing our "first world problems" while opening our mind to why we're all so ridiculously in need of love and discovery and humor. Around this time, I also realized how blessed I was to have my artsy, smartsy, creative and funny friends around me. Later in the spring, these Chicago friends even threw me a surprise going away party - I was very moved and very grateful. Also, that mustache. Chicago is full of miraculous mustaches.

Friday, February 8
"'Don't Fret: Love in the Time of Online Dating' was wonderful. And funny. Hanging out with Ziyuan, John and Nicole was also wonderful."


While in Chicago, I received some of these delicious cookies for Valentine's Day. That little heart marks the approximate location of Sullivan Hills, near Lodgepole, Nebraska, where a large chunk of my real heart will always be. The people that sent this cookie are the some of the hardest working, most loving, funniest and most hospitable I've ever met.

Thursday, February 14
"And maybe the accumulation of love (as if it can be accumulated) for my friends and family and innumerable blessings have something to do with joy. I want to shout, dance or paint it to the world..."


   M A R C H   


During a memorable girls' day out in Chicago this past year, my friend Leah snapped this photo of Tazer and me celebrating (and foreshadowing) the Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Yes, my predictions were correct.


This is another moment from that same day. It's one of my favorites, because it foreshadows something even better - a new, close friendship that would expand into this new year, thank the Lord. 

Sunday, March 17
"...when you lose track of time and it doesn't matter where you are as long as you're laughing with great friends ... we shut down Navy Pier, then Dark Horse, then Trace, then the pizza place of which I was too drunk to catch the name."


   A P R I L   


In Chicago, I took some very long walks. On one of them, I came to this series of paintings on the underside of a highway. On one huge concrete slab, it read, "THE CHICAGO GALLERY 1973." They're called the Hubbard Street Murals and they exist in a place northwest of downtown where people hardly see them. They're weathered, though many have been repaired and others have been added. The original murals were the project of Ricardo Alonzo, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over an eight year period, they painted along the mile-long stretch until they ran out of funding in 1979. I miss seeing the evidence of such driven art in Chicago, seeking out the unseen. 

Sunday, April 21
"And the city really is beautiful. Partly home now, which I hadn't anticipated. But here we are, friendship, art, music, culture, new things to do, good people to meet, food to try, community to build and appreciate."


In March, I attended a staff meeting at Time Out Chicago, where I was doing my spring internship. In a quiet, crowded room that overlooks the downtown skyline, the editor in chief announced that Time Out Chicago would cease as a print magazine and would be letting go of most of the staff. It was like the room caved in from the initial heartbreak. The people I met there are some of the coolest, most passionate writers, designers, photographers and advocates of print journalism, and I learned a great deal from them. In this crappy mobile phone photo are some of the front cover thumbnails of each Time Out Chicago issue since its birth in 2005. It certainly doesn't do the magazine justice. I took this photo post-layoffs in late April, as a lot of the print and layout schedules and plans were still hanging in the cubicles.

Monday, March 18
"... we had a few birthday cake vodka shots in the office ... one thing that has come of this is seeing the really inspirational passion and care these people have for Time Out Chicago and one another."

Tuesday, April 23
"Yesterday, I went back to Time Out. It was so quiet, so sparse, but so good to be back. The spirit of the place is still intact."


   M A Y   


I graduated from the School of the Art Institute in 2013, with a Masters in New Arts Journalism. I still don't quite know exactly what that means. But I do know the place made me a better writer and person. The rest of that day was complete chaos because I was leaving Chicago, not knowing if I would ever be back. I am so blessed to have attended such a raucous, vibrant, innovative, weird art school with equally brilliant people. Thanks to Simone for capturing this precious moment.

Saturday, May 18
"It's mayhem in a few sentences. Graduation. Goodbyes. Moving procrastination, moving mayhem: apartment ripped asunder, car towed ... Some tears ... worrying about the future, having to say big goodbyes to big, familiar things. Gone away from Chicago tomorrow already. Keep moving, moving."


   J U N E   

video

This isn't a photo, and it isn't mine (cred goes to Braeden and the self-timer on his camera), but it was one of the best moments of the year, after we'd seen a double rainbow on our way back from Denver. I could watch this all day and still be laughing.

Saturday June 15
"... the Sully family...I think we're family now."


Just after the Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins in the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I listened to the final online, catching bits and pieces because of the patchy Internet connection at camp, but I sure did hear the end when Andrew Shaw swore on national radio/television. Celebrating by yourself in a small office is a special kind of joy.

Monday, June 24
"And the Blackhawks win the CUUUUUUUP!!!"

And like I said, my predictions were correct.



   J U L Y   


This is my favorite candid of the summer, when some friends drove all the way from Carol Joy Holling Camp to Sullivan Hills. I love these people, and I love this photo because I captured them mid-laugh, each in their own genuine, hilarious splendor.

Friday, July 12
"Week 6 done, and the more resounding thing to write is that I'm so thankful ... Cami, Erin and Alyssa are coming to visit! ... up on Shepherd's Lookout for hours together."


   A U G U S T   


This impromptu photo took place outside of a church in Omaha, where a lovely couple - Josh in the red and Erin in the green - was throwing a fundraiser for their year-long adventure in Argentina. See all the wonderful things they're doing in love and for the Grand Bourg community here. Do it!

Sunday, August 4
"I wish them the best and I pray they spread the love of Christ in Argentina ... We took an excessive amount of photos in the parking lot."


Me and my cousin Annalise, as we shopped in downtown Breckenridge, Colorado, during a family galpal trip. "Look, I'm 2 Chainz!" said Annalise. You guys, I have some really cool cousins.

Friday, August 9
"I have also loved laughing and making jokes with Annalise, us two peas in a pod, a weird pod. We laugh at our moms a lot, because they're goofy."


   S E P T E M B E R   


This is my Dad and my parents' new puppy, Boaz, who's a bit older now, and tearing everything apart. A rare moment of some sort of bonding. Nice stink face, Dad.

Wednesday, September 25
"PUPPY!"


   O C T O B E R   


Our friend Lisa moved waaaaaaay up north to Marquette, Michigan to start a new job. Here is a visual of how fun her going away party was. Lisa, we love and miss you very much.

Saturday, October 12
"Lisa deserves so much love."


This photo documents the first time I had visitors in my new apartment here in Lincoln! We ate spaghetti, giggled and took this all-too-functional photo. Someone said the other day that "this photo makes us look way more functional than we actually are." But, no matter, I love these ladies and fellow, even when they're dysfunctional. Because I am, too. Ain't that the truth.

Monday, October 21
"Then there I was, alone for the first time in a very, very long time. But something wonderful and comforting happened last night when Jason, Alyssa and Lisa came over for spaghetti. I remembered that they're my good friends, who pray at the dinner table and make jokes and love to eat ice cream."


   N O V E M B E R   


My Mom came to visit, and we had coffee. Isn't she radiant? I'm grateful for my parents and their generosity, love and examples of integrity. This coffee shop is also a new favorite of mine, as it's right across the street from the University of Nebraska Press, where I am proud to say I work now...at a big girl job...with really neat people.

Saturday, November 9
"but God is so good."


   D E C E M B E R   


The night I took this photo, I had been out stargazing for over 2 hours. I decided, "Hey, ain't nobody taking away my photography inspiration mojo" (which is lacking in this post). So I did some light painting. This "word" fit really well in the frame,  even though I really loathe acronyms. But in some moments they make sense, when you're willing to be present where you are, a sense of humor in tow. 

If you're not in any of these photos or words, I still love you. And as per new year cliches...if there's any advice I can give you in the new year, it's this, and it's simple: don't settle, don't wait, write, take photos and be yourself. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, January 5
"It's the new year. Time to fill it up with words and wonder. I hope 2014 will be chock full of lovely, meaningful, weird, crazy moments, too."
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Oh, stop it. I know you've been waiting for this. 
And of this, I will defend myself no more. 
Cheers to more laughing at/with boy bands and each other in 

   2 0 1 4   


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But really, we don't have to live once. 

"Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. But now, Lord, what do I look for? 
My hope is in you." - Psalm 39: 4-7

   HAPPY, HAPPY NEW YEAR!   


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