Visiting Home: Omaha

Instagram understandably gets a pretty bad rap for poor file quality, but to me there is an intriguing side.  It’s simple system of organizing chronologically makes it a perfect time capsule for ongoing visual reportage.  And if that weren’t enough, it’s inherent idealized aesthetic makes collecting “perfect little specimens” of an experience effortless. This is especially interesting to me when I return to Omaha, because I always want to capture “home” perfectly, but in the end I know that is an impossible goal. Over time Instagrams start to become memories that precede the actual events they represent. I enjoy playing in this space creatively and visually. I think Instagrams are best viewed on the tiny screen of a smart phone device, which can be held ever so tenderly in the palm of your hand like a butterfly. Here are a few snaps from my recent visit home.

Running Notes: Omaha Half Marathon

Omaha half marathon

Elizabeth and me right before the Omaha Half 9/18/16

I just completed my second Half Marathon on September 18.  This was a big event for me on a personal level because it took place in my hometown, Omaha, NE and my bff from junior high and I ran it together.  I finished with a PR that I’m very pleased with.  I started as a brand new runner on June 30, 2015. I’m enjoying tracking my progress and challenging myself to keep improving. In addition to continuing my training for various upcoming half marathons, I’m also working towards a goal of reaching 1,000 road and trail miles for 2016.  As of today, I’m at 788 miles, none of which were run on a treadmill.  Here’s a break down of all my races so far.

September 4 – Champions 5k – 30:50 9:56/mi
November 26 – 120th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot 8k – 53:04 10:41/mi
December 13 – Freezer 5k – 28:42 9:14/mi

January 9 – Winter Warrior 4 person Half Marathon Relay (3.3 miles) – 9:33/mi
May 29 – Buffalo Half Marathon – 02:13:19 10:11/mi
June 11 – Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k – 26:47 8:36/mi
June 23 – J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge 3.5 miles – 30:35 8:44/mi
September 18 – Omaha Half Marathon – 02:02:21 9:20/mi

Hey Mr. Talisman

A few years ago, on a trip around Upstate New York I had the pleasure of meeting a well known contemporary  American philosopher, writer and translator.  The encounter was brief and far more memorable for me than for him, I’m sure.  There were many more introductions and mini adventures on that trip, including stopping at a charming toy store in Woodstock where, for the purpose of research for a photo project, I acquired this vintage looking toy horse.  I jokingly named the horse after the philosopher who, for the sake of this post, I’ll simply call Al.

Al 2011, Hipstamatic

Al 2011, Hipstamatic

Over time, for various reasons, the horse has become a kind of “protector” to me.  He usually sits on a chair in the bedroom as part of the decor.  From time to time I pick him up in an attempt to channel warmth and luck from this object I’ve assigned the role of Talisman to.  Recently, at the very last second as we were heading out the door for Omaha, I grabbed him up and stuffed him in my bag.  Going home can be a mixed bag of pleasure and pain and I wanted a good luck charm for the trip.  If such things are possible, then little Al did his job, because for the most part, it was a wonderful visit home.

Al sat silently in the hotel room for the duration of the trip.  In the back of my mind, I imagined him sweetly sending strength to me as we enjoyed our time around the city I love and I quietly confronted feelings of homesickness and loss.  At one point I moved him to the chair in front of a writing desk in the room.  When it came time to pack up and go, the chair had been pushed under the desk and Al was out of sight.  I neglected to include him among the clothes, shoes, and hair products in my bag.  We rushed off to Caffeine Dreams for a spontaneous last cup of coffee with those who could make it, and Al was left behind.  The airport was next, and unbeknownst to me, Al remained there in room 233 at the Magnolia Hotel all alone.  I didn’t unpack right away so it wasn’t until a couple of days after our return to Buffalo that I discovered his absence.  I felt silly and devastated all at once.  It was just a silly object after all, but my heart pined away.

I called the hotel and after 2 full days of nerve racking back and forth while the head of housekeeping was on vacation, Al was finally  found!  I made the arrangements and if all goes well, he’ll be back safely in my hands sometime next week.  This whole experience is strangely tied to a photographic project I’m working on now that’s inspired by the loss of a favorite toy when I was a child.  Back then I imagined the lost toy coming to life and having adventures in the real world.  I wonder, as I laugh a little at the thought, if Al will return with any insights into the mystery that is Omaha, NE, my home.


Instagram Interrupted My Omaha Dream

I was very disappointed when Instagram went down (Crashed) during my trip to Omaha.  It happened right after the fireworks display at my aunt’s 90th birthday party.  Omaha is such a great city and I was really looking forward to trying to capture, as closely as possible, something resembling the  romanticized images of my home town that appear sometimes in my dreams.  I often joke to my friends in Buffalo that Omaha is a perfect, wonderful, far off land that they should visit as soon as possible.  Here are 4 more shots I was able to take prior to and immediately following the crash, before heading back to Buffalo.  Venues pictured include, Film Streams, Homer’s Records, Fireworks at Ponca Hills FarmCaffeine Dreams.

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.
– Anais Nin

At Film Streams, Omaha, 2012

At Film Streams, Omaha, 2012

Homer's Records, Omaha, 2012

Homer’s Records, Omaha, 2012

Fireworks for Ann, 2012

Fireworks for Ann, 2012

Caffeine Dreams, Omaha, 2012

Caffeine Dreams, Omaha, 2012

Omaha: Home

I had a wonderful time back home in Omaha for a long weekend that started on Thursday.  It was magical for a number of reasons – not including the usual.  Sometimes the unexpected is the biggest gift of all.  A highlight was the occasion of my Great Aunt Ann’s 90th birthday which was marked by a fabulous party and fireworks show at Ponca Hills Farm.  I captured this Instagram shot shortly before the great Netflix, Pinterest, Instagram crash of 2012.