Is March too late to look back on the previous year? I’ve been meaning to parse through the 12 months of 2014 but haven’t quite found the time to sit down and do it. Recently I made a big decision to leave editing aside for the moment and focus on writing full-time. It’s still a big change, mainly in that I’ve always had a hard time focusing on one activity throughout a day, even if it tackles different subjects. But it’s exciting that after five years in New York, I’m making a salary doing what I wanted to do. And more than that, I’m really proud that I’ve been able to turn my personal passions into real world events with the cemetery tours and gatherings. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to revive the blog for a moment and look back at my favorite articles from the year, and some highlights from exploring.
The Graves of Forgotten New Yorkers [March 18, New York Times] It was beyond thrilling to write my first NY Times op-ed with the wonderful Bess Lovejoy, and it was exciting to see my writing in a publication I never thought I’d get a chance to write for.
The Sacrificial Glory of the Soviet Space Dogs [September 17, Hyperallergic]
Fatal Victorian Fashion and the Allure of the Poison Garment [June 20, Hyperallergic]
Washington Irving Bishop: The Magician Killed by his Autopsy [March 20, Atlas Obscura]
Before the Garden Gnome, the Ornamental Hermit: A Real Person Paid to Dress Like a Druid [March 18, Atlas Obscura]
After 27 Years, a New York World’s Fair Relic Reopens to the Public [April 22, Hyperallergic]
The Sci-Fi Writer Who Used Photography to Search for Ancient Aliens [March 6, Hyperallergic]
Double Sunsets & Peasants With Pitchforks in the Trials of 18th-century Balloonists [June 4, Altas Obscura]
Ruins of a Human Zoo at the Forgotten Edge of Paris [June 2, Atlas Obscura]
A Lost Constellation: The Great Printing Press in the Sky [January 16, Hyperallergic]
Portraits from Ellis Island’s Abandoned Immigrant Hospital [December 4, Hyperallergic]
Slashed and Hidden from Sight: The Strange Power of Cursed Paintings [November 11, Hyperallergic]
The Modest Victorian Proposal to Electroplate Corpses into Beautiful Statues [January 6, Atlas Obscura]
I still remember when I had to drink a glass of red wine at nine in the morning because I was so nervous for my first cemetery tour in 2011. Not that I don’t get interior butterflies now, but it’s been encouraging to do something and have people be interested and get more confidence both in my public speaking and just in myself. Here’s some cool things people wrote!
Cited by the Wall Street Journal as an overly enthusiastic “resident cemetery aficionado” with Atlas Obscura at a crypt party in Harlem.
New York Magazine printed a short interview with me on legally exploring mausoleums in “The Everything Guide to the Urban Daredevil.”
And the New Yorker reviewed the Beat Festival collaboration called “Crossing Over,” where I’m described as “a woman in a black dress picking up a lantern,” which is accurate.
It was also awesome to help plan an H. P. Lovecraft reading in Green-Wood Cemetery, dance at a crypt party, see Philippe Petit do close magic in the Brooklyn catacombs, and collaborate with Green-Wood Cemetery on their Secret Mausoleum Club series. One of those things would have made a year, but to have them all in 2014 along with creating cemetery tours on magicians, symbolism, disasters, pet memorials, and forgotten NYC history was incredible. I’m already planning the tours for the spring.
So much! Traveling is always my favorite, so spending an extended week in Paris meeting new friends, walking an abandoned train track, visiting some of the city’s underground, and just spending time in the country where I used to live was great. In November, I met up with a couple of friends from Australia and explored San Francisco, a city I’d never spent much time in. I also did family visiting in San Antonio and Memphis, and in New York I still feel totally spoiled by how much theater, art, music, and awesome things are always waiting. It still has yet to wear off that I can get on a train and end up at a beach covered in glass bottles dating back to the 19th century, or a cemetery where all the tombs are made of metal, or just a ridiculous Broadway spectacle. I feel like I could capture the year better in photos, so here you go!
And to conclude, how did I spend my New Year’s Eve? With the blast of some very powerful steam whistles in the cold of Brooklyn at Pratt Institute! Here’s a photo below, and for more regular updates on what’s happening in my life I recommend my Instagram where I tend to share the most snapshots of daily happenings. I know we’re now two months in, but I’m still feeling like 2015 is starting, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.