Thursday, December 29, 2011

omg. chris thile and yo-yo ma

I spent part of last night watching the Kennedy Center Honors. Great people were honored this year including Neil Diamond (whose music represents my childhood), Meryl Streep (one of my favorite actresses), and Yo-Yo Ma. I was blown away by the musical show put together to honor Yo-Yo Ma. Chris Thile. James Taylor leading "Here Comes the Sun," and others. I had chills...and tears. You should try to track it down.

I didn't know that Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile work together. Chris Thile has been a favorite of mine since his Nickel Creek days. I wanted to find a clip from last night's show, but couldn't. Instead, here is a clip from NPR. Check it out. Be amazed.

Oh, and another reason to track down video. You have to see Yo-Yo Ma's reaction. He was exuberant. I want to be his friend.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Home for Christmas

"That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown." -Linus

Christmas break began Wednesday afternoon. This year, I'll be home with my family for about 2.5 weeks...significantly longer than last year. This also means that I have watched more Lifetime Christmas movies in the last 36ish hours than I care to admit. I've also watched both A League of their Own and the Charlie Brown Christmas Special twice, Love Actually.

When my brother and I were little, he'd camp out in my room on Christmas Eve and we'd fall asleep watching the Flintstones Christmas special. Once the Flintstones came on tv, we weren't allowed out of my room so Santa could come. It's one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

a break from the cheesy Christmas songs

This afternoon, over a rainy Monday afternoon art project, a friend introduced me to Sting's album "If On A Winter's Night." We only listened to two songs while she was over, but both gave me chills. (Linked here is Sting singing "Cherry Tree Carol").

I don't know about you, but I'm already tired of Christmas songs. The radio plays the same 10 songs on repeat all day long. If I hear "Frosty the Snowman" one more time, I'm going to have some choice words with Mr. Frosty and put him in a not-very-Christmas place.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I love project runway marathons.

Project Runway. Season 2. Marathon. Santino. Andrae. And I can't stay here and watch it all day.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket. My life has been crazy and full of changes as of late. I needed the time to hang out with friends and family, drink a good glass of red wine with my cousin, take a fabulous post-turkey nap, and simply relax. 

10. NCIS marathon on Thanksgiving day

9. Will & Grace Thanksgiving episodes (and a few other favorites) today.
VINCE: "No one's fault"? He pressured her into trying on these four-inch hooker heels. And then he told her to "work it, girl." [snaps fingers]
WILL: Okay, in hindsight maybe it wasn't a good idea to make her climb up on the display case and... shake her "groove thang," but you know-- She was having fun up until the time that she fell, and her skirt hiked up, and she showed her groove thang to the whole store.
(Queens for a Day)

{love this
8. Coffee

Preferably in a vat.

 7. Sunshine & 60+ degrees in late November.
After last year's Minnesotan winter, I need to slowly ease into colder temperatures and snow. It's absolutely gorgeous outside today.

6. Laughter & hugs
the alphabet reunion - homecoming weekend 2011

{for picture of anuradha koirala}
5. People in this world who are dedicated to making a difference, raising awareness, and speaking out.
L: Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Columbus, GA (Ft. Benning) for the School of the America vigil. The procession on Sunday morning was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Fr. Roy is dedicated to speaking out against the SOA and advocating for women in the Church.
R: Anuradha Koirala was one of the CNN Heroes of 2010. She works with trafficked women and children in Nepal. Last night, CNN aired a special about her ("where are they now?"). Amazing women. You should check out her story.

4. This past year
It's been one hell of a year. From St. Cloud to the Villa. From working with refugees to trying my hand on a farm. I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I've had.

3. Community
After college, I missed the community atmosphere -- the always knowing that someone is around, the support, the laughter, the tears, the everything. I regained it while in MN. I'm officially part of an amazing community this year.

2. Friends (see laughter & hugs)

John, Gram, & I playing scrabble last year @ Christmas.

1. Family
My family is crazy. We fight. We love.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Close the SOA

I am currently in Columbus, GA at the SOA Watch vigil to close the School of the Americas. I am in the midst of amazing women (and men) -- some of whom have spent time in jail for crossing the line.

Last night, I heard Fr Jim Barnett, OP and Nelly de la Cid (a Honduran woman) speak. Both were incredibly inspiring. When will we change our world viewpoint? When will there be an end to war?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I apologize for the lack of attention I've paid as of late to this blog. My life is crazy even though it's not a tenth as crazy busy as it was last year at this time. I'm trying this new thing where I don't make to do lists, but it's not working out as well as I planed. I still make to do lists and don't follow through with them because I still don't look at them after their incarnation.

I anticipate another blog absence until Thanksgiving (or so). While you await my return with bated breath, I suggest you watch clips of your favorite cheesy 90s tv shows.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


 The colors are quickly leaving. The rain is bringing down the bright red, orange, and yellow leaves. The gourds have been sent to the market and the habaneros sold. The first frost is a night or two away. I wish the colors would stay.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

come saturday afternoon, i'll be dancing a jig

My life has been consumed by GRE study stuff this week. I take the test on Saturday morning. I'm never going to understand why I need to be tested on math when NOTHING I will ever do in my life will include anything related to right isosceles triangles or any other confusing math terms.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

meet the new neighbors.

Visible from my bedroom window. Hello country living.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

day 5: laughter is the best medicine

Senior week and a rainy day at Cedar Point with 012/the alphabet. We ducked into Friday's for drinks, food, and much needed refuge from the rain. This picture is from that day. (We're in a photo booth and too cheap to pay for the photo booth pics so we improvised).

It's actually not this picture that makes me laugh. It's the video that we took as we were walking along the lake and heading back to the main area of the park. K is the videographer. L & M are ballroom dancing along the sidewalk. I (J) can be seen in the background doing an awkward ballerina leap. All of a sudden the camera shakes and we (J, K, L, M, and N) are doubled over with laughter. K pans to the offending light post as if it jumped in her way.

That was May 2008. I still laugh so hard I cry every time I watch the video.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

in a week or so...

...we'll be working in close proximity to one another.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

day 4. all in a night.

What does your night look like?

I come from a family of bs-ers after dinner. We sit around the table after dinner talking about nonsense (and sometimes important things like Kev's major, me moving to MN, and baseball) long after we've cleared our plates. Dad is the only person who isn't a fan of sitting around the table. He'll sit for a little before making his exit. At Christmas, we sit and talk about plumbing and the neighborhood and family. So much so that the dinner table stories made it into my capstone.

I've always lived with table sitters. In college, we'd sit around a table at the cafeteria or, better yet, 012 until it was time for Jeopardy (another key part of my night). In MN, we spent most evenings sitting around the table, singing 3 part harmony to RENT, and talking about the crazy stories from our work places.
All ready for Christmas dinner.

with Gram. Scrabble playing often occurs after a meal.
Sitting around after dinner is important to me. It's when we talk and fight. It postpones doing dishes, a chore that I always get stuck with. The chairs get hard and, if we're lucky, someone will suggest moving to the "soft chairs" and we'll sprawl out on the couch with Jeopardy on in the background or simply continue the conversation. This is where I learn about people, where we catch up on our days, and upcoming plans. It's a check in. And, as I've discovered, is something that not everyone does.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

in support of Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols

I've been a Lady Vols basketball fan for as long as I can remember. Pat Summitt has always been one of my heroes. I had the opportunity to see the Lady Vols play in Cleveland back in Chamique Holdsclaw's day. It is one of my favorite experiences.

Today, Coach Summitt, announced that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia - alzheimer type. My prayers are with her, her family & friends, team, and all who know her.

Friday, August 19, 2011

wherein I freak out enough for myself, all my friends, and the pope

I tend to be a fairly even keeled person until I freak out. And when I freak out, I freak out good. I'm usually annoyingly calm about making a huge decision (you know...quitting a job, moving to minnesota, deciding what to do after minnesota, etc.). And then it happens. I'm screaming "HOLY SHIT." What am I doing?

I'm known for my freak outs. (See: freaking out about freaking out or when the floor drops out beneath you or rock.paper.scissors.) There are people who have come to expect my freaking out emails. I usually send them either a few days after I've made a big decision or a few days before. A few weeks ago one of my people got a frantic phone call from me. I needed to make a decision about another volunteer year and I was freaking out. When we met up, she immediately asked "What's wrong?"


She actually chuckled at me. (A brisk walk & a 2 hour chat finally calmed me down enough to make a decision).

It's kind of like the first big hill of a roller coaster. I hate that hill and tend to freak out as the coaster is slowly crawling up the top of the hill. I'm convinced we're either going to die or the coaster is going to get stuck and the park people will have to rescue us. I'm gripping the hand rest bar, trying not to look down, remembering to breathe, and repeatedly saying "ohmygod." (I usually sound just like the lady in this video).

 I often wish that freaking out could help me get out of making a decision or stop the changes. It doesn't. I just freak out through them and, somehow, come out alive on the other side.

Monday, August 15, 2011

welcome to my mind.

Imagine these as all one song and you've got what I've been singing all morning.

Specifically: Throw your soul through every open door / Count your blessings to find what you look for / Turn my sorrow into treasured gold / You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow.

The entire song, but also the dance moves. Because who can sing this song without doing at least part of the dance? I've even added them to the last song stuck in my head.

And, perhaps the most random of all three songs:

Who doesn't love Raffi? I grew up with the man. I could have been a superfan or something the way I listened to his music all the time. (This song is made even better when sung during this episode of Full House. I can't embed this video).

Monday, August 8, 2011

day 3. favorite cast in a tv show

Confession. I don't watch much TV anymore. Glee is really the only show that I make a point to watch on a regular basis. (There's RHONY, but I only watch that in marathon reruns on bravo and those ladies are far from my favorite cast).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

day 2.

Person you have been closest to the longest (excluding family).

This is a hard one. In HS, there were four of us (dubbed the Awesome 4-some). We spent nearly every evening together senior year studying for physics. We spent 4 long years together in band. We've weathered fights, distance, and everything in between. We split up for college - 2 x 2. We're now forging our own lives and leaving the confines of our hometown.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

day 1.

There's a thing going around facebook called the 30 day challenge (or something like that). I rarely like to jump on the bandwagon so I've refused to join in on it. I am usually annoyed by it because no one ever finishes it so I'm stuck at staring the picture from day 11.

So, what am I going to do? I'm going to (partially) eat my words and do the 30 day challenge on here. I'm hoping that it will get me into the habit of regular blogging.

1) I must start my day with coffee. 
2) I spent 10 months in MN as a member of a volunteer program and working with a refugee resettlement organization.
3) I'm a diehard Cleveland Indians fan.
4) I put my left shoe on first. Same with pant legs.
5) I'm Irish. Very Irish.
6) I hate spiders, clowns, and snakes.
7) I don't like wearing shoes.
8) I have issues with textures of certain foods. (celery, peas, bananas, etc.)
9) I try to avoid writing with black ink. It depresses me.
10) Taking pictures makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


But my dad always told me to go like hell on yellow to beat the red.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I am addicted to the Real Housewives of NYC and I have my gram to blame. Seriously. We started watching the OC housewives years ago and it's snowballed into this addiction. I thought I was through with the housewives when Bethenny left. They're crazy. They're annoying. There's too many of them this season. I couldn't stand this season until... the marathon this past week. I watched a good chunk of all the episodes and dvr-ed my favorites. All in anticipation for the season finale involving a pregnancy (read: menopause) scare, a 1 year dating anniversary party, and general ridiculousness. I should be ashamed.

I just can't turn away when I know the the episode featuring Ramona's crazy face while walking the runway is coming up. No. I call Jenna and we laugh about it all over again. Never mind that we watched it countless times when it first aired. Never mind that we swore off the show months ago. We were sucked in again. We waited for Kelly's meltdown. We remembered why we were first sucked into the show.

I LOVE it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Famine in Somalia

Somalis flood Kenya Refugee Camp


As most people know, I spent the past 10 months working with a refugee resettlement agency in MN. I worked mostly with Somali refugees. Somalia, a country that has been involved in a civil war for 20 years, is also experiencing a horrific famine and drought. The UN declared a famine in the Southern Somali regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Ten months ago, I would not have recognized the names of these regions. Ten months ago, I knew little about Somalia. Now, these regions represent the homes of the people with whom I worked.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

yea, this is home.

after all my searching
after all my questions
I'm gonna call it home
"This is Home" - Switchfoot

Monday, July 11, 2011

returns and changes.

there is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have changed.
-nelson mandela 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

on leaving the land of gk, sensible shoes, hotdishes, and bars

We spent a chunk of our last week in Minnesota on retreat at Clare's Well. Located in Annandale, Clare's Well is working farm and a retreat place run by the Franciscans. The sisters there are absolutely wonderful. I was in love and not ready to leave on Wednesday evening. I could feel the stress of ending, or "leave taking" as someone referred to it, lift off my shoulders not long after we arrived. We were greeted by Lacy (the dog - see below) and the sisters with warm hugs and quick tours to get the lay of the land. They had baskets ready for us to raid the refrigerator and jugs of water (no running water in the hermitages, but they do have electricity and a composting toilet). I wasn't ready to leave the well on Wednesday evening. If I ever make it back up to Minnesota, I'll be scheduling retreat time there.

The Dome (one of the hermitages @ Clare's Well). Where I stayed.


View from one of the windows in the Dome

Standing on the dock looking towards the barn and house.

Meet Lacy. She's blind and absolutely amazing...and she blogs!

Sunrise on Wednesday morning.

I left Minnesota last Friday. After a stop in Monroe to see the NL folks, I headed on to Ohio. I've been back since Sunday evening. I'm waiting for it to really sink in that I'm not on vacation, that I'm not working with the refugees anymore, that at this moment my life is here. Transitions aren't my cup of tea.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

crappy wifi, but sun

I forgot what sunshine was after the rain soaked past few days we've had in Central MN. I couldn't figure out why I suddenly couldn't see my computer screen. The sun - o how I've missed you. You almost make me want to forgive this b & n for crappy wifi and the guy a few tables away from watching movies without earphones. Almost.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What exactly are you doing in MN?

Wondering what I've been up to in MN the last 10 months? Check out this A Nun's Life podcast. Many thanks to Sr. Julie and Sr. Max for having me on. You should also check out their website:

Video streaming by Ustream

Monday, June 20, 2011



I was in this place a year ago. This horrible big decision making place. Now I've got more big decision to make about my future and what I'm doing when I leave the frozen tundra of the north in less than 2 weeks. I wish I could just rock, paper, scissors my future. It'd be much easier.