I am very excited to share this with you:  See Through Stories

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You see, I’ve had several life ties to Alzheimer’s disease: personal (my grandma was diagnosed), professional (I worked as a CNA on an dementia unit), and academic (this was my research topic for my dissertation). In grad school I had this idea to start a story-telling project with people diagnosed early onset and well… I ACTUALLY MADE THE IDEA HAPPEN. Or got it started, anyway. And that’s the hardest part, right?

This has been slowly growing over the last few months and today I am officially launching the website for See Through Stories. There are only two features so far, but I’m hoping that all of you will help me spread the word so I can make connections to more people interested in taking part. I think if there can be anything beautiful about having dementia, it might be that it forces people to live fully present in the moment. I think we could all learn a little from that.

I don’t know if this will last one year or 50 years. I don’t know if this will stay a project or become and organization. I don’t know if this will just feature people where I live or if I’ll be fortunate enough to hear the stories of people with dementia all over the globe. I don’t know if I’ll work solo or if I’ll be lucky enough to form a dream team. There’s a lot I don’t know.

It’s new. It’s figuring itself out. I’m going to be patient and present with it. No matter what it becomes or doesn’t become, I’m proud of myself for at least seeing the idea through. And I expect that I’ll enjoy every bit of the work immensely because it has me all like: damn, people are beautiful.



Extra special thanks to:

The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines for connecting me to the wonderful people I’ve interviewed so far // My family, for literally everything // Ryan, who helped get this off the ground from every technical standpoint and was my brainstorming partner// Sarah, Rachel, and Lewis for consistently insisting I must do this, from the very beginning // Andrew, for being my sounding board.


So This is Happening

I’ve been one busy lady. Good busy. But busy nonetheless. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of mental breakdown some days, but soaring high on others. I’m finding it hard to muster the energy to do the things I want to do when I’m done doing the things I need to do. And trying to remember that I get to do it all.

But OK, so this is what’s happening…

I took a road trip to the mitten of the United States last weekend with my friend Kory. Between cafes, breweries, ice cream parlors, and bakeries…we just ate and drank our way through Grand Rapids with Miss Bailey. That city is dope. And so is Bailey. I also got to see my godparents- Dave and Maria and little James, the newest additon to their family. They spoiled Kory and I with an amazing dinner at Terra, a farm to table restaurant. I tried mussels for the first time and I didn’t hate it. After saying peace to GR, we ventured to Detroit to complete the mission of the entire trip: to see one of my favorite paintings in person. We perused the Belle Isle Conservatry, bought succulents at Eastern Market, and stumbled upon a Luge race downtown (which is possibly the most quiet and bizzare sporting event to see up close). A personal highlight was making our way through the midevial art section of DIA via Snapchat and creating these:

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Diego Rivera mural in the DIA
YAY for used bookstore steals

+ I had the opportunity to play papparazzi at the Alzheimer Association’s Conference last week. The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines has been a huge support in the project I am working on and they have asked me to be on a project committee that creates social engagement events for patients and their caregivers. I am so pumped to be a part of that!


You should sign up for The Walk to End ALZ 🙂


This is crazy.


My Fridays-Sundays are spent with the DMCW, serving up food and loving our neighbors. I am unendingly appreciative that I get to be a part of this community, which is about equal parts insanely beautiful and hella challenging. But being here keeps me grounded in my values and beliefs about how life is meant to be lived and shared. For every absence I observe, there is an abundance to be experienced. One thing the DMCW does is serve breakfast and give out Whole Foods donations on Saturday mornings at Trinity Church before serving lunch at the Dingman House at noon. If anyone is interested in volunteering or cooking a meal, hit me up!


My housemate Al and Justin…two of my favorite dudes.









I’m nannying for one more month. Still applying for jobs and becoming increasingly depressed and frustrated by everything. BUT I’m looking forward to being a bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends in June and to being in Edinburgh for a TBD amount of time this summer. Also, I’ve taken up kickboxing again which has been a sanity saver and makes me feel like a total badass.

Uppercut. Hold the follow through.



Party Hearty

I was asked to take some pictures and video at little baby Eliyas’ baptism a couple weeks ago. First of all, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I thought this would probably be a pretty casual affair. You know, like a little church basement reception with some cake and a few family photo ops. But there was easily over 100 people there, a huge buffet line, live muscians, balloons, booze flowing, dancing, etc. I was told relatives and friends came from Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, and North Dakota to help celebrate.


It seemed like the entire midwestern Eritrean community came together. And it was a gorgeous cultural experience to witness. Everyone was so affectionate and happy and they partied from 3pm to well after midnight! Ayyy oohhh.

Please notice: Guy pouring straight up Black Label into plastic cups for everyone, guy with a mullet that rivals Joe Dirt in terms of greatness, and how much of the serving and childcare men are doing. Claps all around.

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The video is kind of long (it actually ends at 5:22) and horribly edited (thus why it continues the length of the song and not the footage) but you can check out some Eritrean dancing here (its very beginner friendly and awesome):



7 Things Sunday

One. I spent a week in Ireland and loved it. Irish people are just the best. Highlights include:

  • Seeing The Book of Kells and library at Trinity College Dublin, which was something I had really enjoyed learning about in my art history courses and so, SO cool to see in person.
  • Experiencing clay pigeon shooting. I was one, surprised that clay pigeons are not shaped like birds and two, even more surprised at how well I did at shooting them. Who could’ve seen that coming?! It must be all those games of N64 007.
  • Soaking up some sunshine and seeing where the last scene from The Guard was filmed before getting 99s and listening to a very amusingly beginner saxophonist on the promenade. If any dude wants to serenade me with a saxophone that would very okay with me.
  • Even though the weather was slightly disastrous, seeing the Cliffs of Moher was amazing!!
  • Watching our classmate Derwin perform in his Irish dancing show. So talented with the feets, that one.
  • Michael’s car tours of Galway and the surrounding towns. “This is the bad turn. Everyone knows what you mean when you say that you’re so many kilometres from the bad turn.”…”Oh, this is (enter name)’s house and you see there in the yard? That’s the grave he made for his dog.”
  • Sailing with Katie and her parents and daring to jump in the coldest water I have ever been in.
  • So.much.dancing
  • Tom Barry’s, the most dreamy beer garden
  • Playing some tunes on the Shandon Bells at St. Anne’s

A wee video montage:

Two. This might be the most positive song ever and I can’t stop listening to it:

Three. Yesterday I had one of those moments that kinds of defines you as a person. I just left the hair salon and got on the bus. I felt a very strange sensation and realised that there was a mentally handicapped man in the seat directly behind me…wait for it…chewing on my hair!! Yep. Just sucking away on the ends of my fresh locks. And I didn’t have the heart to ask him to stop. So, I just let it run its course and then sort of leaned forward in my seat so it was out of reach.

Four. I went to a Picasso and Lee Miller photography exhibition at The Portrait Gallery and was blown away by these best buds. There was a whole group of friends, really…painters, poets, photographers. They were so tight knit and supportive of each other’s work. They created resistance publications together during WWII and Miller was a war photo correspondent for Vogue. Picasso wasn’t allowed to exhibit any work during the war, but he created constantly, so there were pictures Miller took of all his new pieces when she finally got to see him on Victory Day. She took thousands of photos of Picasso during their friendship and her husband wrote his biography. It felt like a privilege to see how personal the photos were- documenting everything from holidays together, to having kids, new homes, changing relationships, visits at work, etc. It reminded me of Midnight in Paris (which everyone should watch). And it made me wonder if the famous contemporary artists of today have that sort of thing going for them.


Five. It has been a weekend of saying farewell to people who have made such an imprint on this sentimental soul of mine. And when you meet people who do that, you don’t want them to just become a tiny part of your life, you know? Like, oh it’s been years since I’ve seen so-and-so. We just went to grad school together for a year. Noooo! I hate the idea of not knowing the next time you’ll see a person. It’s a terrible thing. Honestly, I can’t get over how fortunate I am to have spent a year in such good company- friends from my course who I’ve been through the trenches with and could not have survived without, the Steampunk crew who make life feel so full and happy, friends from church who have loved and cared like the superstars they are, and great flatmates who made a new and unfamiliar place feel like home. I’ve held it together so far, but I have a feeling at that flight gate on Tuesday I will be a mess. I don’t want to leave. I want to come baaaack. But I don’t know if, how, or when that will be a possibility. I don’t know if I just take a risk and a big leap or if I wait for something to happen. I need a UK visa fairy to come tell me what I should do because my head spins when I read into it. Maybe I’ll just put up a kickstarter to fund my stay? 😉 BUT all of that said, I am also really, really excited to fly back to Iowa and be home with all my homies who I have missed immensely. Although, you won’t see much of me until after I submit my dissertation August 19th. Booooo.

Six. I’ve never had a caricature/portrait done before, but I spoke to a really sweet Polish artist when walking on the mile yesterday and she did mine. I don’t know how much it really looks like me, but it’s fun to have anyway. Support street artists!

IMG_0737Seven. Lawls




7 Things Sunday

One. I’m usually operating in a 70% fear, 30% confidence ratio when it comes to graduate school. I was not anticipating how research and theory-based everything was going to be, rather than practical. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the why part of that. When you have a room full of students with dance, theater, studio art and music backgrounds and then you ask them policy questions regarding various epistemological and ontological methodologies…(insert deer in the headlights look). I get it. We need to be able to think critically, but I’m over here all like, “Yo! Where are my paints?” Oh, a 52 is a passing grade (yes, that would be a D) and apparently we’re all to be quite pleased with ourselves if we get that mark because it means we met the requirements of the assignment. The chance of obtaining a level of distinction is slim…(insert deer in the headlights look). One of my classmates took a tally of how many times our lecturer used the word “fail” during our induction…45!! Our lecturer is getting his PhD at the moment and the restructuring of our course is a part of that. So basically, we are all guinea pigs. Ok, I need to stop or I’ll start hyperventilating. Send me good vibes, people. Whew.

Two. I saw a powerful photography exhibit in Summerhall last weekend. The photographer is 22-year-old Mahmoud “Ezz” al Zanoon, a man from Palestine that captures life in Gaza. Next to each photo he had displayed an entry from his journal, narrating the context of the photo. I thought this was a beautiful addition, as it only made the photo and the story behind it come to life more for me as a viewer. At the end of the exhibit there were two giant cards taped up on the wall where you could write a note to the children who were featured in most of the photos. Reading the things people wrote made me cry. As I left, I felt so uncomfortable. There was this paradox in the fact that those pictures brought the issue closer and at the same time painfully highlighted for me how removed I am. This is happening. RIGHT NOW. In my world. I can’t even begin to grasp what life for those who are in Gaza…or Syria, Iraq, Israel, etc. I don’t know that talking about it does anything other than make you feel less ignorant. But like what most people wrote on the cards…we are here. We’re watching, hoping, praying…with bursting hearts.


Three. My holiday season is booked!

Thanksgiving: a weekend in London with my friend Jacci, who is there for graduate school as well. Pellicans uniting across the globe! But for real, it will be lovely to have a little bit of home with me. I’m excited for THIS and THIS and obviously THIS.

Christmas: a week experiencing a proper Joyeux Noel with my friend Melissande and her family. Visit a few cities. Soak up every moment I get to spend with my French soulmate.

New Years: back in Edinburgh for the Hogmanay festivities.

Four. For your next dance party:

Five. My flatmate Jess had a birthday this week, so I was making brownies in the kitchen and my other flatmate Arnie (from Taiwan) had never baked anything before. She got REALLY excited about helping me bake and once we got those brownies in the oven, she crouched in front of the oven to watch the dough rise. Are you kidding me with that?! So cute. Fast forward a day. We’re having Jess’ birthday party which required pulling out some S Club 7 and Spice Girls tunes. Arnie had NEVER heard of the Spice Girls. WHAT?! The next night, she came up to me and said, “Taylor. Today I google Spice Girls and I listen to all 9 songs! Yeah. SO good” and then she proceeded to do a version of the “Stop” music video dance. So, Arnie is basically my favorite person.

Six. If you are someone who wants to keep up with international news, but you find it daunting…sign up for theSkimm. They do all the reading for you, break it down into easy to read editorials (which are written with wit that will make you LOL on occasion) and deliver it daily to your inbox. It’s great.



I will be snuggling up with the library.




I love people who see and capture moments in a brilliantly breath-taking way. I feel lucky to witness it. They inspire me to see the world with wide-eyes. I find myself releasing a little sigh or gasp at seeing the seemingly forgotten or unnoticed things frozen in time. The glances that are missed. The neglected nooks and crannies of a city street. The seemingly unimportant daily rituals. I love that a picture can breathe life into the ordinary by forcing you to pause and notice.

To notice the small things in the midst of life’s events; whether it be as celebratory and vibrant as a wedding or as habitual and mundane as walking up your driveway. There are things in every moment waiting to be noticed. To ignite a little something in you…if you stop to take a look. And maybe you don’t want to pull out a camera. Maybe you just want to be fully focused and present. Then take a mental picture. The importance is in the act of pausing to see it- whatever it is.



(click image for photo cred)
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