lanterns nyc

I do not do well with change.

My family (especially Dad—I’m looking at you, Douglas) knows this and loves to mention it. It is a well-documented phenomenon, from the time that I pitched a fit over a non-traditional Christmas tree that my mom tried to slip by when I was two, thinking I wouldn’t notice. I like to think that over the years I’ve gotten better about change, but it’s still something to which I am averse. 

This year, though, I knew change was coming. This was the year of Big Decisions, and Real Life, and Change. 

I didn’t pick a “word to live by” at the New Year’s, like so many mom bloggers do, but if I had it would have been Change. 

Rick decided to change it up big on New Year’s Eve, when he proposed. Then I spent five short months working jobs I loved and going to school and interning, which was wonderful but also, I spent a lot of time being overwhelmed and curling into a ball with Hulu and Chinese food. 

Then I graduated. 

Now, I’m back in East Aurora, the town too twee to be real, and back at the Advertiser. I love local news and I love only working 35 hours a week (may a regular job always feel like a luxury!). I’m also managing social media this summer, which is a whole new challenge. I have been learning a lot and reading more timely content than I have in ages and it’s glorious.

At the end of August I’ll be moving to Harrisburg, where I will be joining Sycamore House, an outpost of the Episcopal Service Corps. I’ll be working four days a week at an undetermined nonprofit, spending the fifth day in spiritual formation, and living in community with six other girls. It’s an adventure, and it’s scary to be doing the new city-new job-new people routine again, but I think I made the right choice. 

Sometimes, change is good. 

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The news from Paris

This week, I’m in Paris.

As my mother pointed out, news seems to follow me, which I suppose is a good thing for my career. Besides all of the drama that unfolded during my semester in Rome (for a while there was no pope, president, prime minister or police chief!), the day that I got to England in 2013 Margaret Thatcher died, and my first year in NYC brought two hurricanes and the Occupy Wall Street movement. For the last few days, of course, all eyes have been on Paris.

je suis charlie

First, my experience. I am filtering everything through the cultural barrier (Parisians are much quieter than Americans–are they handling this uproar remarkably well, or merely showing their angst silently?) and the lack of an international data plan, meaning I can’t be glued to Twitter as I normally would.

On the day of the shooting, I was around Notre Dame with friends and didn’t even know what had happened until I returned to campus about an hour after the attack unfolded. The majority of the rest of the drama has been outside the city proper, and our campus is not particularly near the Charlie Hebdo office, so there hasn’t been a visible reaction except the extraordinarily high police presence. Bags are being searched on subways and at major attractions. Our road was closed briefly last night due to a suspicious package, which came to nothing.

St. John’s is located in the Vincentian headquarters in Paris (cool huh?) and has multiple gates, a courtyard and a 24/7 security guard in addition to all of the special measures they’ve taken because of the increased risk, so I am quite safe.

In a more general sense, this attack is horrific and I’m very impressed at the worldwide response–condemning terror, of course, but also speaking out in defense of freedom of speech and human dignity. #JeSuisCharlie was trending, and then the NYT had a very thoughtful piece (among many on the issue in general) about NOT being Charlie, and it’s all been very interesting to watch. 

I have a lot of thoughts floating around, on the freedom of the press in particular. Perhaps they’ll gel into something eventually. 

In the meantime, I wrote this post/little essay after the Newtown school shooting a few years ago, which coincidentally I watched unfold with a roommate who is also my roommate in Paris. (We’ve been talking about current events quite a bit.) I think it’s relevant anytime a major media event occurs, and I always try to remember this:

The “media” is not one gigantic, evil conglomerate scheming to brainwash the public, most especially at the site of a breaking tragedy. They are people like you and me, with partners and children and mortgages and crappy cars, people who drink cups upon cups of coffee to keep themselves going, people who work on tight deadlines and low incomes for the benefit of everyone.

nous sommes tous charlie

A city billboard near the former Bastille prison displays the We Are Charlie slogan, while a French flag flies at half-mast in the background.

I would love to hear any thoughts on the recent events in Paris. 



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Currently Loving


The idea of travel. I’m making the most of my last winter break–tomorrow we are going to Delaware for a couple of days, and I have an even-more-exciting trip coming up at the end of the month!

The Leslie Knope Guide to Finals, for all y’all that are still stuck at school.

This dog on Instagram.

Miranda, my spirit animal. Watch it free on Hulu!!!

miranda night out

Literary Starbucks

Laura Ingalls Wilder goes up to the counter and orders a small cup of extra hot coffee. She sits down at a table in the Starbucks she has built for herself out of sod from the prairie. She writes a letter to her family. It’s going to be a long winter.

Baking, beginning with macarons

What’s everyone else loving these days? I feel as if I’ve finally emerged from a cave of studying into the light!

The Happy Type
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Weekly Wishes #7

cup of coffee cappuccino

Last week’s wishes: total fail. Whoops! Other things just took priority. 

This week I’m going to keep it simple. I have two goals:

1. Enjoy and make the most of Thanksgiving break. Soak up the family, maybe get some thrifting in, plan for Christmas, cook great food, play board games, all that stuff.

2. Stay on track with school so that I finish strong. I have three major writing assignments and two finals due the week we return from break…ugh. I’m bringing home a suitcase of books and I know that if I devote a little time each day to research and writing I can end the semester on a low-stress level.

We’ll see how it goes!


Bonus finds around the Interwebz over the last couple of weeks:

The Nectar Collective

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100 Hours of Poverty: Recap

fried eggs breakfast

A simple/cheap/healthy breakfast (photo via Pixabay)

One of the things I love about St. John’s, which I’ve probably mentioned a dozen times already, is its Vincentian traditions. I have learned a lot about social justice during my time here.

One program Campus Ministry hosts that I always thought was interesting is called “100 Hours of Poverty.” Each participant commits to living for 100 hours on $18.49, which is less than $0.19 an hour, or $4.44 per day. This is the budget of an individual currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. This year, I was the first to sign up to participate in what I thought would be an interesting challenge.

Here are five lessons that I learned:

1. It wasn’t convenient.

It was actually a terrible week to try this. I was overcommitted, I was away for the weekend and didn’t have time to pre-cook meals, and on and on. But experiencing real poverty is never convenient either, and so I stuck it out.

2. It was more difficult than I anticipated.

My family tends to live very, very frugally–no haircuts, no pedicures, etc.–and I know how to cook very cheaply, so I was surprised at how difficult the challenge turned out to be. I was restricted by circumstances, and so are the majority of those who are using these benefits.

3. I failed on Thursday, and I was lucky.

One of the things with 3 or 4 a.m. production nights is that on Wednesday, I generally do fine. I have a long morning class and then a long block of work in the afternoon. But on Thursdays, when I have a 7:30 class and a fuller day, I tend to crash. During the week of the challenge, I crashed and burned in a major way on Thursday. I ended up in such a funk and so after class I grabbed a bagel (about $1.50, which wasn’t enough to put me overbudget by itself but combined with my other food it did), worked my last shift and then headed home to crash instead of going to my evening meetings. I think I ended up spending $6 or $7 on food that day.

I am fortunate: I have that extra $3 to spend if I need it. Going over my budget had no real consequences. If I was really experiencing poverty, that $3 might have meant no bus fare, or no heat, or no food the next day, or any number of other negative consequences. 

4. Resources matter.

Being on a food-stamp budget if you know how to cook, are used to living frugally, have access to plenty of ingredients and a real kitchen and have time to cook from scratch is entirely different from living on this budget if you are out of the house 12 hours a day, or if you don’t know how to cook much, or if you don’t have a kitchen.

One of the things that struck me while working with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers for a week last year was that many of the people they serve tend to purchased fast food or processed food, not because they want to, but because they have no other option–for example, if they live in a shelter where if anything there is a microwave and maybe, maybe, a fridge. Or, they can’t get to the store to buy food regularly and have to purchase things that won’t spoil, like in my hometown where it’s unusual to live within walking distance of a store and there is no public transportation.  

5. I can do better. 

I know I can do better at eating well on a budget, and this challenge made that starkly apparent. I’ve tried to improve in many small ways over the last few weeks. 

For example, I’m boiling eggs ahead of time so that I can just grab one in the morning. I bought a loaf of bread and have toast as a nice quick snack instead of coming home starving and eating Nutella out of the jar (TMI?). I’ve been more conscientious about cooking ahead and freezing meals to bring to school during the week. I’ve been adding canned veggies or tuna to pasta and rice dishes to stretch them and make sure I get protein and green things. I make a pot of coffee in the morning nearly every day so I don’t buy it at school. If I need coffee during the school day, I get a plain black coffee for less than half the price of my preferred cappuccino, and I save the cup to get a cheap or free refill. 

All in all? 100 hours of poverty didn’t change my life in any big way. However, I’m glad I went through with it, and it’s been a great catalyst to remind me to pray for the poor (and volunteer when I can) and be more mindful of how I use my own resources. 


Bonus: This cookbook is fantastic! Eating well on $4 a day. 

Shoutout to Mama C., who is spending Tuesday assembling/distributing food baskets for Thanksgiving. Go MUMC!

The song on my mind while I was writing this.

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