Friday

January 23, 2015

This past week I revisited the city I am still so in love with...

Even in just three months, so much has changed.

It looks different...it feels different. And yet, so much came rushing back so quickly, and it was like I'd never left at all.

What I found so exhilarating - and frightening - was how different I felt, from the moment the train pulled into Grand Central Station, I felt like me again. I felt like I fit. I felt totally and completely at ease and content with where I was and who I was and felt a sense of overwhelming relief. I was unaware I hadn't felt like myself these past months, until coming back.

I felt inspired, invigorated, and like the city was mine all over again.

And then, I ached... I ached because I know the New York that I am so in love with is already a different New York, and I can't help fearing that this pull to return, this contentment I felt walking back down Broadway for an afternoon, might ultimately give way to something sad and foreign the moment I came back for good. I worry that so much of what I love, belongs wholly to the past, and that what feels like home to me, wouldn't anymore. That this relief I found under those bright lights was just a momentary rest in familiarity after three months of travel and new places and ideas and a frantic questioning of where on Earth I belong and what I am meant to do...


My gut reaction is to take any job I can find and get the hell back to NYC... but the risk of losing that sense of joy I feel in brief moments of visitation and memory is almost too much to bear. Missing something this much can make you forget the roaches and rats, the smell of pee in the subways in summer, the hour long train delays on the commutes home from work, the monotonous routines, living with way too many nutty roommates, the crowds, the sirens all night long... 

Trying to relive the past rarely satisfies, and often only tarnishes those perfect, preserved moments you find yourself resting in. 

Or, maybe, the overwhelming sense of belonging that comes rushing back is just that: a sign of where I am supposed to be, and it may be an even bigger risk to ignore the call of home...

Sunday

January 18, 2015

Week 10: Memory
Read about my photo challenge here.

Riverside Park
New York, New York

January 11, 2015

Week 9: Spring
Read about my photo challenge here.


Also, check out my sparkle-filled Etsy shop, The Stars Spilled!
Lots of new items added this week!



Monday

January 5, 2015

Week 8: Happiness
(Read about my photo challenge here.)

Art is my happy place.

Sunday

December 14, 2014

Week 7: Love
Read about my photo challenge here.



December 7, 2014

Week 6: Shadows
Read about my photo challenge here.






Wednesday

November 26, 2014

Just returned from my road trip down to the The Lone Star State, where I spent nights watching shooting stars from the back of a pickup, ate warm homemade donuts that literally melted in your mouth, kissed fuzzy horse noses, spent time with best friends, and remembered to breathe. 






Home for the holidays now as I begin to explore what might come next...

Over the next couple months I'll be expanding my shop (The Stars Spilled), working on my newest book projects (more on that soon!), catching up on my photo challenge, and playing in the snow.

This is the first time in my entire life I have not had a home, a job, and/or a plan. It is terrifying, but it is also thrilling...

Sunday

September 14, 2014

Week 5 : Shallow Depth of Field
Read about my photo challenge HERE.


This week I ditched the automatic mode and learned to focus on my own...and it was fun!

Thursday

September 11, 2014


I realized last week that for the first time since I moved to NYC five years ago, it finally feels like home. I used to feel as though this city owned me. I had to scramble just to keep my head above water. I didn’t dare give tourists directions because most of the time I would discover I sent them in the wrong direction. I felt like an outsider, like a tiny speck in a place unknowable and hectic...

I don’t feel like that anymore. I still have moments that are hard, stressful, uncertain, expensive...and don’t ask me how to get anywhere in Brooklyn because I still avoid that place like the plague...but I’m finally fully comfortable here. I have my routines. I have my regular spots where they know my order when I walk in. I have mastered subway etiquette. I’ve even learned how to casually pass by celebrities without making a fool of myself (unless it’s Bono...or a Hanson...or Zach Braff...).



I decided I would move to New York City when I was ten years old. My family came here for a day to visit and I ate bad pizza at Sbarro in Times Square and saw my first Broadway show (Cats...and I don’t care what they say, it was awesome). I remember I had never seen buildings so tall, or crowds so large, and feeling so small, and yet exhilarated to be among them. I remember looking through the viewfinders on top of the Empire State Building and overhearing someone say that if you dropped a coin from way up there it could kill someone down below if it hit them on the head and being horrified...I remember being allowed to pick out 10 New York City postcards for just a dollar and being so overwhelmed by the choices because the city looked so fantastic in every one. I only sent half of them to friends and kept the rest, and I still have them to this day because after that visit I hung them up on my wall for years as a reminder of the day my dream was born...I remember my dad carrying me piggy back down the streets at the end of the day because my feet hurt so bad, and smelling like the hot, sticky sweet of a New York City summer and being so in love and so happy and overflowing with that something that I knew only this city could satisfy. And always, always, I remember those lights. That bright magic of Midtown found its way into my dreams, and for years could blind me from everything else I ever thought I wanted... I would be back.

And here I am, seventeen years later.

A lot of people keep asking why I am going if I love it here so much, and I really don’t have a good answer. It’s really just a feeling...a little nudge in the corner of my heart telling me it’s time...time to get a little scared again...time to meet new people in new places...maybe rediscover places I used to love and have forgotten during my time here...work on my ever-growing bucket list while I can...live in a place where I can afford to pay rent without having a bunch of crazy Craigslist roommates...

This city is all-consuming. I have learned you cannot live here half-heartedly. It requires all of you...mind, body, spirit, and every dollar in your wallet. It really only gives back when you invest yourself like this... I am a restless person in love with many things, and it’s time to invest myself in them now, at least for awhile.

There is still much world to see, and I have found that it is actually quite possible to get a little stuck within a dream, despite how magical it may seem.

It is time to get unstuck. Loosen my hold on these routines and this security and safety I have managed to find buried beneath the city’s pounding pace and sounds. I think security maybe sabotages things a bit, makes me take the magic around me for granted. Makes me a little too comfortable to keep going after the goals and smaller dreams that came bundled with my move to NYC. 

It will be good to take a break. Breathe a little deeper. Walk a little slower. Re-examine and prioritize the other dreams I've been holding on to...

I can’t say how long I’ll be gone. This has been one crazy love affair, and I may be drawn back to these bright lights after only a few months, or maybe this is a much longer goodbye...the forever kind.

All I have left to say at the end of it all is Thank You.

Thank you to every one of you beautiful people who have become a part of my life here. To all the friends I’ve made...to friends who have become more like my family...I am blessed, and I would not have found my place without you.

Thank you to all the amazing human beings I didn’t get to know, but that are a part of my days here. All the crazy, unique, irritating, mean, generous, tough, lovely people I sit next to on the A express, pass every day on the sidewalks, elbow in the checkout lines...the lives I feel I have grown to know without ever learning your names...thank you for creating this amazing place.

You are all why I learned to toughen up, to walk fast, to let things go, to turn my music off and put my book down once in a while so I can take it all in. You are why the magic exists.

I leave in about a month...


I go with an ache, a grief, and a sense of gratitude and awe that could only be inspired by a place so great as New York City…

Sunday

September 7, 2014

Week 4: Black & White
Read about my photography challenge HERE.


St. Malachy's/The Actor's Chapel

August 31, 2014

Week 3: A Bad Habit
Read about my photo challenge HERE.
(I cheated this week and took a picture with my phone...#nofilter)

Junior's Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.
I usually hate cheesecake, but I get some of this every time I'm in Midtown. So. Good.



Wednesday

August 27, 2014


                 This is my letter to the world,
                 That never wrote to me, -- 
                 The simple news that Nature told, 
                 With tender majesty. 


                 Her message is committed 
                 To hands I cannot see; 
                 For love of her, sweet countrymen,
                 Judge tenderly of me! 

                 ~Emily Dickinson

   PROMPT: "This is my letter to the world"

After wrapping up the 146 : a collection of love stories project, I have greatly missed seeing poems spilling into my inbox each week... I would love to get to keep reading your poems (or stories, or see your art and photographs) and would like to start sharing some of them here on The Stars Spilled!

Send your poem/s (and etc.) here: itsjustam@gmail.com

Sunday

August 24, 2014

Week 2: Something Green 
(Read about my photo challenge HERE.)


Thursday

August 21, 2014






New York City is vibrant, brutal, self-made, extreme, alive, and drunk.

~ Matt T. 
  Manhattan

@matttolbert

Sunday

August 17, 2014

A couple years ago I bought a big fancy camera with grand plans of taking brilliant, gorgeous photos for the blog, my books, my Etsy, for friends, as a side job, etc... The only problem was that I read the whole manual...twice...and learned nothing except how to turn the camera on and snap a pic in the automatic mode. No fancy tricks, no special zooming and focusing and light plays and whatever else pro-photographers know how to do to impress us with their images. I moved on to YouTube tutorials, but couldn't get through them. BORING. I'd rather take ugly pictures. 

However, after joining Pinterest recently I kept finding myself re-inspired by the beautiful images people take, and have decided it's about time I learn how to actually use this thing... I stumbled across a random "Photo Challenge" someone posted and decided to tackle it as a way to explore my camera, as well as all the cool photo editing programs available...

I'm currently still shooting in automatic, but have grand plans to switch over and try some new techniques as the challenge continues (or at least will just try pushing some of these fancy buttons!).









Week 1: Self-Portrait 


(Wanted to play with light...and failed miserably. I'm holding a starry sky globe which I hoped would cast some cool pin points of light around, but I had to hold it so close for any light to show up that the globe ended up in every pic...and then you really couldn't see the bits of light, anyway. On the upside, I learned how to use the camera's timer!)