About

I’m a writer, a reader, a traveler and a teacher.  In this blog you’ll find my thoughts on everything from place to identity to philosophy to literature.  I’ve found that writing, journaling, photographing, and sharing thoughts and ideas with others is the best way to make sense of this world that confuses me so.  Know that after everything I say there should be placed an implied question mark.  At least, in my head, when I form a sentence, when I say “yes” or “no,” when I give advice, when  I proffer an opinion (solicited or not), always in my head I attach a question mark to the end of my statement.  Because I’m filled with uncertainty, because I don’t know the answers to most questions, because I know that my opinions more often derive from the life I’ve lived and the experiences I’ve had than from detached reasoning.  I don’t know that anything I say will be correct, or that it will change anyone’s mind or improve anyone’s life.  So I attach a question mark.  Such is the tone of my thought and often of my words (?).  And when my words sound certain, it’s because I’m using techniques I’ve acquired from countless teachers, authors, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  I’m trying to sound persuasive.  Keep that in mind.  Most of all I want to have a dialogue with you, so please share your thoughts.  I value what you have to say, and I promise to respond to your ideas. 

Let’s share some memes.  🙂

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36 Responses to About

  1. elyafiller says:

    You have an intriguing blog.

  2. wanderingamy says:

    Great blog and unbelievable photos! So what do you teach? I’m guessing photography… I’m actually a teacher, too–sixth grade at an international school in Santiago, Chile. Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

    • I teach Spanish, but I incorporate a lot of pictures in my teaching. How long have you been teaching in Santiago? Yet another wonderful city in the Southern Cone! 🙂 That may still be my favorite part of South America. Thanks for commenting! I look forward to reading more of your posts as well.

      • wanderingamy says:

        Sadly, my flight to BA was delayed–really delayed, as in not scheduled to arrive there until after 3:00am. I decided to get a decent night’s sleep and take the 10am flight instead, so now I’m back home, uploading old photos to try and get my blog up and running!

        Cool that you’re a Spanish teacher. That explains all of the travel to Spanish-speaking countries! And I noticed on your blog that you’re heading back to grad school. What are you going to study?

        • Oh wow! When was your original arrival time supposed to be? I’m sorry to hear the flight was delayed (which is putting it mildly!). I love the overnight flights to BA that touch down around dawn. It’s nice to wake up somewhere over Brazil, Uruguay or Argentina to a fresh sunrise and know that you’re about to land in a beautiful country. I’m taking a short trip to Puerto Rico in mid-May. I feel bad for having neglected it for so long. It boasts the oldest European history in the U.S. territories, yet for some reason I’ve always put off going there!

          Getting a blog up and going is kind of tough! I’m just feeling my way through it, posting a mix of old stuff (some of it from years ago) and new.

          Which brings me to grad school. I wrote that little essay a couple of years ago. I need to go back and note that in the post. So, in brief, I decided to leave teaching to pursue Higher Education Administration at the University of Wisconsin. Between leaving Texas and arriving in Wisconsin I took the opportunity to travel around the U.S. the way I’ve usually travel abroad: hosteling, taking trains, buses, some road trips, etc. Included in the traveling was a really fun road trip along the Santa Fe trail with my grandmother. I also loved grad school itself once I got there. I made so many friends and got to know a beautiful new city (Madison) that I probably never would have gone to, but in the end financial constraints caught up with me and I had to return to teaching. That’s not a bad thing, and eventually I’ll finish the Master’s I started, but it still required a course correction. 🙂

          So what’s your background? How long do you plan to teach (abroad or at home)? I noticed you’ve been to West Africa. Did you teach there also? I was close to joining the Peace Corps and being placed in the Gambia to teach English.

          By the way, your pictures are beautiful! You take much better people pictures than I do!!!

          Good luck with your BA flight 🙂

  3. What a wonderfully interesting blog you have here. I’m anxious to come back and spend some quality time reading about your insights and adventures and wanted to thank you for commenting on my blog.

    • Thank you, and my pleasure! Seeing John Muir’s name on your blog hooked me in an instant. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog more. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!

  4. Amryl Malek says:

    Cool blog, I like reading your posts. Some very interesting thoughts. Will check up on more of them soon. Keep up the good work. And thanks for dropping by on my blog.

  5. What part of higher education administration were you interested in? I am about to start my master’s in student affairs administration!

    • Hi Lindsay! I was going down the student affairs track. I loved it! I really did. Unfortunately finances got the better of me and I had to pause for a bit. Where are you pursuing your master’s? Do you start in the fall?

      • Yes, I will start classes in the fall at Texas A&M University, but I move down in about 3 weeks to start my graduate assistantship in the Office of New Student Programs. I see you have some ties to Austin; please don’t hold my new Aggie identity against me!

        • Haha, not at all! I have plenty of friends who went to A&M. I thought about going there for my bachelor’s, but I couldn’t tear myself away from Austin 🙂

  6. skippingstones says:

    I love this. Kindred Spirit in a lot of ways.

    “Because I’m filled with uncertainty, because I don’t know the answers to most questions, because I know that my opinions more often derive from the life I’ve lived and the experiences I’ve had than from detached reasoning.”

    Definitely identify with uncertainty. I think that characteristic defines so much of what I do and say – or more specifically, what I don’t do and don’t say. That is one of the exercises of blogging (for me) – to be brave and say what I feel and express opinions. I can see that you are doing that. Are you being brave? Or do you have more confidence than you think? (just being inquisitive and nosy)

    I think most of us base our opinions on our own personal experiences. We don’t even think about it (ha, kind of a pun). It’s only natural. No matter what your life has been, it’s what got you here. Reason is over-rated, anyway 🙂

    • Do I have more confidence than I think? Haha, good question! It comes and goes. My confidence is very selective.

      Kindred spirit, for sure! It’s incredible what you can tell about a person from their writing. Yours strikes me as so truthful and transparently inquisitive. Your style itself says that you don’t have all of the answers but that you enjoy seeking them. I really appreciate that quality (which suggests I appreciate qualities I hope I have, too. Funny how that works 🙂 )

      I agree with you concerning reason 🙂

      • skippingstones says:

        I’m inquisitive, all right, and I mostly don’t have any answers! But I like that – Selective Confidence – that pretty much sums it up for me too.

        It’s interesting that you bring up appreciating qualities in others that you identify with (whether because you think you have them, hope you have them or wish you had them). That’s is already in my notes for future use. Please stop reading my mind and trying to steal my blog ideas!

        I’m also pretty annoyed 😉 that you’re such a good writer (please tell me you have to think before you write, just a little bit)! Even your comments have a feeling about them that I can’t quite describe. It’s fluid. Don’t know if you know what I mean, but I get the feeling of fluidity, waves of words, and like the concepts are liquid and smooth, flowing.

        Anyway, it’s good.

        • Hah, well, you should know that I wondered how much you have to think before you write, and also how much editing you do once you’ve gotten something going. Because your writing reads as if it just flowed uninterrupted from your brain through your fingers into the keyboard. Fluid… I definitely know what you mean, but honestly, I see the same thing in your writing, whether you see it yourself or not.

          I tend to think of the world in terms of waves churning, cresting, breaking, flowing, crashing, etc., and I try really hard to translate that sense of reality into words. Maybe that’s why I got hooked on physics when I was young, with all of its talk of crests and troughs and oscillations, light that behaves both as a particle and a wave, substances that become fluid-like at certain temperatures and in certain critical amounts… I think the language of things changing from one state to another is what I like, and capturing that transition, that process, in words is the sweet spot to me.

          I don’t know if this will make sense, but here’s an example: in fiction a compelling character tends to go through some sort of transformation over the course of a story. Much of the story builds toward the realization of this transformation… and the transformation often culminates in what, to the character, seems to be a sudden flash of insight. When I think of this process, it calls to mind the phase change water goes through when it turns from ice to liquid to steam. Throughout the process heat is being added to the water, until enough heat has been added to change the water from one state to another. This change, when it happens, seems to happen instantaneously (or “discontinuously”), even though it’s the outcome of a continuous process. So I think of insight, inspiration, and epiphanies in similar terms. We don’t always know where inspiration comes from, but I think it’s the culmination of a vast aggregation of inputs and interactions that coealesce into an idea, or an emotion.

          The bigger point is that I think of the whole world as this enormous system of “particles” (in a figurative sense) jostling against each other, sometimes behaving as individuals, sometimes behaving as aggregated fluids, sometimes giving rise to islands of order amid oceans of chaos (this comes from chaos/emergent systems theory). I don’t think reality or people are purely random, but I do think that the complexity of it all makes them inscrutable, unless you have some metaphors to work with. So, coming back to where I started, I turn often to metaphors of fluids and waves. These metaphors can be scaled up and down to accommodate phenomena on universal scales and microscopic scales. They tend to break down at the tiniest scales, but for most human purposes, they work really well. I try to reflect the way I see the world through my writing. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t 🙂

          But yeah, I’m so obsessive about framing things that I OFTEN labor through what I’m writing. And I re-edit compulsively, even if what first comes out feels right and effortless. I even do that for some comments.

          Well, that was kind of a long response. Lo siento!

          Nick

  7. anda says:

    Thanks so much for letting me know you liked my blog about sucess/failure. I’ve subscribed to yours because it looks so interesting and I am also a fan of nature writers like John Muir and so many others.

  8. skippingstones says:

    It does make sense, mostly – I need to think on the last paragraph a bit. I am an editor too, to the point of going back several times after I’ve posted something. You have to give it a bit of time and then re-read with a fresh set of eyes sometimes.

  9. Thanks for stopping by ! I see that you have some really interesting posts.. Its going to take me a while to read all of them.. but definitely love to talk about literature, philosophy and travel.

  10. reallydeepstuff says:

    You have an amazing site here….and what breathtaking photography! You seem like a very interesting guy. Thanks for being the first person ever to comment on my site 🙂

  11. bellemusic says:

    I really like the idea of thinking out loud with the question mark at the end. I’ve never thought of it quite that way. I like to think of things in a similar way, never completely sure because I want to try to stay open-minded to what is left to discover about a certain topic or question. Very cool. : )

  12. Walter says:

    Very refreshing perspective. Since today is Fathers Day I shall add that mine was a professor of Medieval Spanish Lit for many years. Unfortunately his brain is mush now and he is chasing windmills in his mind. Such is life! 🙂

  13. Apparently we have a mutual friend, Kathryn B! She was in my pace group last year and posted yesterday that she found my blog and was surprised to see your comments! We should all get together if you’re ever in town. Incredibly small world, huh?

    • An incredibly small world! Kathryn called me last night. All she had to say was that she recognized on my blog someone she knew, and I knew exactly who she was talking about. Obviously knowing that you’re in Dallas helped, but also that you’re a runner 🙂 It’s kind of crazy… this may be the most roundabout way of bumping into a mutual friend I can imagine! I would love to get together. It’s still up in the air whether I’ll land back in Texas… I’ll definitely return there to see friends, though, so we should be able to get together sooner or later!

  14. Ah, coincidences. In 1984 I took an intensive summer course in Hebrew at the University of Texas in Austin. The following summer I spent in Europe, primarily in Barcelona and on the island of Mallorca so that I could study Catalan. One day I came up out of the Barcelona subway and was waiting to cross the street. Suddenly I saw standing next to me someone who had been in my Hebrew class the previous summer and whom I’d had no contact with since then.

    In any case, since it seems that you teach Spanish, you may be interested in my blog that links the vocabulary of that language to the vocabulary of English. Just click my name above to be taken to it.

    Because you’re also an aficionado of photography and have spent time in Austin, you may be interested in my latest blog, which focuses (play on words) on the world of nature here:

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

    I’d like to commend you for your essays, which are thoughtful and literate, two qualities not often to be found online.

    Ciao.

    • I love those kinds of coincidences. Something like what you described happened to me in New York. I had just visited the New York Public Library and I was strolling through Bryant Park when I heard some woman calling my name, “Hey! Nick! Nick!” I turned around and recognized a classmate from a Spanish Literature course at the University of Texas. She showed me around New York, treated me to frozen yogurt, and we talked as if we had just walked out of our Tuesday/Thursday lit class and nine years had not passed since we had last seen each other. In a word, it was cool!

      I’m going to check out your blog/post about the links between Spanish and English (I find links between any languages fascinating; I know you do too, having studied far more languages than I have!). I already clicked over to your photography blog. I’ll repeat here what I wrote there: It’s like it was custom-made for me (an Austinite forever) and I will visit often.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment! I hope you’re having a good summer. I know it’s a dry one where you are.

  15. Pingback: Responding to Writing and Pain | The Chapel

  16. Amanda says:

    Hello…
    I wanted to check out your blog after seeing that you had enjoyed a post on mine. It seems we have some things in common (as I gather you do with all these other folks…) Anyhow, lovely photos, I am considering spending the summer on a US roadtrip – your photos really are inspiring. I will be sharing your recent blog on teaching… oh the perils of our profession – sigh.

    Good to “meet” you-
    amanda

  17. aFrankAngle says:

    Atoms,
    In the spirit of giving, kindness, and appreciation being a follower, I invite you to visit my post for the gifts under the tree.
    http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/on-a-time-for-gifts/

  18. Cee Neuner says:

    I’ve just nominated you for the Seven x Seven Link Award!! Thanks so much for having your blog, I really appreciate it!
    http://ceeslifephotographyblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/seven-x-seven-link-award/

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