Dutch still life

Harwood, MD, USA
One year ago today I had the flu and got fake-married on a cold, beautiful farm in Harwood, Maryland. The project was the brainchild of Kelsey Mattson, who I worked with at the time. Her idea was to take the broodiness of Dutch Still Life and mix it with a Kinfolk whimsy, and Harwood Hills Farm was the perfect place to set the scene. I still look back on that day, even with how cold and sick and miserable I felt, with such fondness. It was exciting to see so much talent and work come together to create something amazing, and I am grateful I was able to be a part of it all. I wanted to finally share a few of my favorite pictures from that day. Read more (and get a cocktail recipe) from 100 Layer Cake, and check out a few more pictures below the cut.

Photography by Sarah Culver Styling by Kelsey Mattson Hair and Makeup by Caitlyn Meyer Wedding Dress from Wren Bridal Rings from Kaj Jewelry | Rentals from Something Vintage | Paper Products from Townley Creative | Flowers from Crimson and Clover | Suiting by Christopher Schafer

His shoulders

He carried the world on 
his shoulders 
as if it had been a gift, 
never the burden it was 
meant to be,
and the universe exhaled relief
that it had chosen

She traced his face with
careful fingers
in the restful blue of night,
memorizing every inch 
of privilege 
the stars asked her to protect inside
her two uncertain

And between
his shoulders,
and between 
her hands,
they sheltered--together--

It was not a burden.
Instead, a privilege,
a gift--far greater than 
the mind,
the stars,
the universe,
could ever hope to

How to fall

The first thing I learned in gymnastics was how to fall. I was very small, wearing my favorite purple leotard with my hair in the messiest five-year-old ponytail and I stared up at our coach as she explained that if you land wrong, you could break your arm. Or your leg. Or pop something out of its socket, or make something bend the wrong way. And not only would that be painful, but you also wouldn't get to go on the trampoline or uneven bars anymore. (This was more upsetting to me than the thought of any level of fractured limbs.)

What you do instead, she told us, was let yourself fall. Allow it to happen. It was in trying to stop the fall -- after it was already too late -- that people usually got in trouble. You fall out of a flip, panic, and stick your arm out behind you to stop yourself and then snap, no more vault for you for a while. But if you just let yourself hit the ground, arms tucked in at your side, chin down, you'll land (hard) and can roll out of it.

"Don't panic," was the motto we learned when we started practicing difficult tricks. "You're going to fall, but it's up to you how much it hurts." Accept the fall, tuck into it, and you'll be fine. Mostly. Covered in bruises, sure, but not broken.

A few years later in a dance class, after my teacher learned I was a gymnast, she decided to incorporate tricks in the routine. The song begun, and I would sprint across stage and jump into the combination. But the studio we practiced in was small, so my lead in to the trick was short, and dance floors aren't known for being particularly... springy. On top of that, the floor was slick, especially in dance shoes. But I'd done the combination a few times already, once with a spot, so I'd gotten comfortable with it. Flips never made me nervous, anyway. Then I went to run through it again with everyone and, halfway through the flip, realized I didn't through enough momentum into it to fully rotate and, at the rate I was going, I was going to land on my head.

"Don't panic."

Instinct kicked in and I coiled up mid-air, head tucked, arms tight, and let myself hit the hard ground and slide. My sister, who was in the class with me, said it sounded like I broke everything. The collision was loud, and I went sliding across the floor and slammed into the wall. Everyone in the class -- except for her, of course, because she'd seen me fall a dozen times -- freaked out until they heard me laughing. Nothing was broken, just bruised. I had them start it from the top again.

I knew how to fall. I was fine. I got up. I went again.

The first thing I learned on a motorcycle was how to get unstuck, by myself. In middle school (get ready for this juxtaposition of a story), I made a PowerPoint presentation for my dad to convince him to allow me to ride dirt bikes. What a nerdy way to go about doing something pretty cool, but it worked. When we got my bike home -- a Kawasaki TTR 125, the brightest lime green, for any curious minds -- my dad started teaching me everything I needed to know about riding.

"You're going to crash," he told me, "and fall."

It wasn't a question of if, just when. Especially since he knew me (and knew I'd want to go faster, jump higher). When I did eventually fall, he said, if the bike landed on me and there was no one around, I was going to be stuck there until someone found me. Which could be a long time. But my dad didn't raise me to be someone who waited around for help; we got out of trouble ourselves. So, it made sense that what he had me do next was lay on the floor of our garage so he could gently lay the (very heavy) dirt bike on me.

"Get out. You can do it."

And he had me do that over and over again until lifting it was nothing, until he knew I had it on my own. He was right, by the way. I did fall. A lot. Once, I was tossed over the handle bars after my back wheel washed out and then BAM that gymnastics instinct kicked in and I rolled off to the side, arms in and ribs aching, before the bike could run me over. I also got pinned under my bike while camping one year, and got myself up and out. I shoved the bike up, shook off the dirt, re-buckled my boots and took off again.

It's weird how some of the things I hold most important in life -- getting up, every time, even after a hard knock down -- were taught in these ways, but the lessons have stuck with me. I know how to recover, so I don't have to be afraid of the risk; I don't let fear stop me from trying because I'm not afraid of the fall. And when I'm down, I can pick myself up. No matter how heavy the weight, I can get myself back up.

Fall, get yourself up, keep going. Do it again, as many times as you need. Keep going.

San Diego, Part 3

San Diego, CA, USA
Sunday morning in San Diego was filled with museums, if you cannot tell. In addition to touring the Maritime Museum, we got to go explore the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier was so incredibly interesting to tour -- and attempt not to get lost in. This thing was HUGE! We spent a few hours longer than we expected there (so long, in fact, we returned to a parking ticket).

The best part of the USS Midway was the wonderfully knowledgeable staff, most of whom had previously served on the carrier. In fact, a few of the people touring in front of us were telling stories of their own from when they served on the Midway -- apparently, one guy said, after a few weeks in the bunks, even if you were an officer and were bunked in the slightly roomier quarters, you wanted to get out because it smelled so much like sweat. At least the had racks (bunks) with a little more space to stretch. It was also interesting to see the links of the chain to the anchor. Each link weighed 140 pounds.

This was my favorite of the two museums we saw, not only due to its sheer size. My grandfather was a test pilot in the Navy when he was my age, and while this carrier was a little different than the destroyer he was stationed on, it gave me an interesting look at what he was doing. I thought about him a lot as we went through the kitchen, seeing their corn chipped beef ("Shit on a Shingle," as I always knew it and was also told by one of the former Navy museum volunteers it was called). We got to talk to an amazing volunteer in the office of the XO (Executive Officer). Our guided audio tour was telling us that if you got in trouble and were sent to the XO's office, you were in deep. I asked the volunteer if he had served on the Midway, and if he had ever gotten in trouble in this office and he laughed and told us a story where he thought he had gotten called in to be reprimanded but instead received a promotion.

Up on the flight deck, besides getting to look at, and even go walk through if you wanted, helos and planes, you could also see the coast of Coronado. It was warm, sunny, windy and perfectly San Diego. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to live on a ship like the Midway. It was amazing. And, in the bay below us as we stood on the flight deck, a handful of jet skis were flying back and forth, giving us an idea of how to spend the rest of the day.

(See Part 1, Part 2)

San Diego, Part 2

San Diego, CA, USA
More photos from San Diego! These were taken at the first museums we went to on San Diego Bay Sunday morning: the Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museum had a lot of history about sailors and sailing -- everything from an American submarine, to sailing ships, and a Russian submarine from the Cold War. The subs were my favorite to explore. The American submarine was primarily used for research but had participated in some recent and still-not-declassified operations. The periscope was operational, and it was interesting to look out of it and figure out how the mirrors that made it up worked. The sleeping bunks, for the record, were the comfiest cots we had tested (out of three: the American Sub, the Russian Sub, and the USS Midway, which will be talked about more tomorrow).

The Russian submarine, besides having the history of what happened on the vessel (an action -- or inaction -- by a crew member that prevented a nuclear strike and possibly saved the world by the sailor keeping a level head), also had a simulation through speakers. The disembodied voice of the Russian Captain was yelling orders at me as lights flickered and the sound of distant bombs shook the vessel. Get to the aft of the ship! (Part 1, Part 3)

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