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Murals of Cincinnati

Sometimes beauty is hidden right in front of our eyes. Sometimes we need to explore our own backyards.

A few weeks ago, Andy and I did just that, taking ourselves on a self-guided tour of the many murals that adorn downtown Cincinnati. We saw only a fraction of them, and this is only a fraction of what we saw. Such a wealth of public art. This city is truly rich.

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From the mural on the side of Jean-Robert's Table. Snails for dinner, anyone? #cincinnati

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My most favorite mural in #cincinnati. Dimension, history, beauty.

This little guy (below) attempts to capture all of the murals, as well as some of the city’s major landmarks. I love how clever and colorful it is.

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Then, these are not murals, but fun little oddities that I spotted during our walk. (The second one is a Totoro car!)

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Last but not least, I tried my hand at the fun faces we saw in one of the sweets-themed murals.

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Yeah, haha, I’m a doof. Life’s too short not to have fun.

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Roxane Gay and writing about oneself

“Having a Heart, Being Alive” by Roxane Gay

I am a fiction writer who stumbled into writing nonfiction. Though I had written a handful of essays as a younger writer, I spent most of my time writing stories and trying to lose myself in the lives of imaginary others.

I also resented how as a woman, it seemed like to write nonfiction, I had to savage my own life to find stories people would be willing to hear. I wanted to keep my stories to myself.

When I began to write more essays, I thought carefully about the choices I would make in exploring myself. What parts of my life was I willing to expose? What parts of my life was I willing to share? I didn’t want to simply bare my pain and have that be enough. At the same time, I was tired of carrying my past around, unexamined.

Why do these explorations of myself matter? How do I make them matter? How do I make my words more than catharsis, more than mere excavations of pain?

I’m still finding my way to the answers to these questions.

There are never going to be universally satisfying answers to these questions. That’s okay.

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Beautifully broken (fix it with gold)

kintsukuroi

For someone who stresses about messing things up, kintsukuroi is a beautiful and liberating concept. Celebrating flaws. Highlighting history. I’m trying to apply this to various areas of my life. Writing, family, home ownership, and most importantly, myself.

Revision. Tension and conflict. Repairs and renovations. Frustration, impatience, disappointment. These are cracks in the clay, yes, but they need not be a cause for despair. They can be lined with gold and re-joined. Made to shine. They can add distinction and strength.

What breaks the thing can also be what makes the thing.

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The last few months of 2015 in photos

I have, unfortunately and unintentionally, fallen out of the habit of posting my monthly photo roundups. I miss these. Here’s a snapshot of September through December, minus the house stuff.

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Good news

ICYMI, that “new thing I can’t talk about yet” was announced yesterday. Writer Unboxed, the wonderful online community that I’ve been part of as both a reader and contributor for years, is partnering with Writers Digest to create an anthology of advice for writers. You can read more about it here.

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I’m honored and excited to be a part of this project. I was invited to contribute an essay, was offered a few topics, and ultimately chose to talk about envy.

Envy is sort of an ugly, uncomfortable subject — and it’s something that I used to feel a lot. Other people’s good news would make me feel bad about my lack of. I fell into the trap of believing I was doing something wrong, or was less deserving somehow.

These days, I rarely if ever feel envy. I’m only human, so it does still happen on occasion, but even then, I’m able to dispose of those feelings pretty quickly. Therefore I thought I might have something helpful to say on the subject, and I hope readers of the anthology will feel the same.

I’m also looking forward to reading the anthology myself. Based on the wisdom and wit that my fellow contributors already share daily at Writer Unboxed, I know that their essays will be useful, entertaining, and encouraging company for my journey.

I had this thought a few months ago, and I’ve been storing it, waiting for the right moment and the right way to share it.

I think there’s a phase in every writer’s life where each new book deal just makes you jealous. Then there’s the next phase — the happier, truer phase — where you think, “That could be me someday.”

Another bit of good news was made public recently.

My friend Kayla had to sit on this tremendously exciting development for weeks. I’m so happy for her, and so inspired by the path she has walked to get here. As I said on Twitter, Kayla is proof that hard work, perseverance, positivity, and kindness can pay off.

Years ago, my joy for Kayla probably would have been lined with a bittersweet aftertaste. Just as sincere, but partnered with a longing and frustration that had nothing to do with her. Now I have nothing but love, as they say. It’s a healthier, more productive place to be — and that is always going to be better for the work. And in the end, isn’t the work what this is all about?

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