The legacy of Atticus Finch

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." --Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was about 13, and loved the story. I felt like Scout, and my dad was my Atticus.

This week I read it again, with a 23-year old perspective, and dug deep into the pages of the story and the social commentary that goes along with them. I thought about families, communities, rights and wrongs and the wisdom of Scout Finch.

It's so much more than a story about racism or prejudice. It's about the strength of a family, the power of communities (for good or for evil), the simple things in life, and the never-ending debate of right vs. wrong, and what we should do with our rights about those wrongs.

It made me think about what I think and how that influences my actions. It made me long for times when life may have seemed simpler on the outside, but there were wars to fight inwardly.

Sometimes it's good to be reminded of the true strength of the human spirit.

image via



To the boy who was always in the background:

I definitely, definitely took you for granted.
And right when I thought I'd let you catch up, you seem to have stopped chasing me.

I would say I wish I'd figured this out sooner, but this is all part of the process, really. And timing is tricky, so I think I'll leave it up to Someone who can see the whole picture.

So maybe it will never be, or maybe it just won't be right now.

But I want you to know that I'm not going anywhere.
And, no, that doesn't mean I'm standing still, it just means that I get it.

I was too scared to go for it, for fear of a nasty outcome, but after all this time I'm finally realizing: you're worth the risk.

And if you're worth the risk, you're worth the wait, too.



Oh wow.

So it's been a while, right?

Somehow this semester is still shaping up to be crazy busy, because I am working fewer hours and I quit the ballroom team/world.

I love it, and I love the things I'm doing, but sometimes there are days when it just swallows me up.

A lot has happened and a lot has stayed the same in the past few weeks.

I dated someone and then I didn't date someone.

I didn't know what I wanted and I felt unsettled about the whole thing, so I ended it.

And now I think I know what I want, but I'm not sure how to go after it. Or if I should wait for it to come after me. Or worry that it won't.

But this is familiar, I'm used to being this girl. And I'm good at it. And I'm trying to muster up some hope because doubt is my vice.

I just have to keep treading water and telling myself that somehow I will get everything done that I need to, and if I don't, then it probably wasn't that important anyway.

So we'll see what the rest of this season holds. But, come what may, I'm going to make it great.


Happy birthday to me:

By the way, Monday was my birthday.

We had an orange food night.*

"Orange food nights" originated when I was in high school, and my best friend Britt and I would go to the 24 hour grocery store and stock our cart with our favorite junk foods, which all happened to be in the orange-yellow-beige color palette. We'd go home, put in a disc of Gilmore Girls and stuff our faces in true Gilmore style.

We'd savor the sickeningly cheesy flavors of Velveeta Shells & Cheese, french bread with nutella, Wheat Thins with cream cheese and orange soda. Often followed by some midnight cookie dough (more than once without baking any cookies).

This year we made a few fantastic additions: Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch and Garden Salsa SunChips.

A night with the girls is always worth the stomachache that inevitably follows.

*note: this is an exception to all of the food rules I profess in my life and all over this blog. But birthdays are the perfect occasion for breaking the rules.

image via


Apparently, this post was a false alarm, but I think now the chill is here to stay.

I think this is the first semester where I love all of my classes. I've always loved learning and have taken some valuable classes from really insightful professors, but there has always been one class that gets put on the back burner while I focus on the rest.

I'm taking a Literature and Film class and it is fascinating. Our instructor's research emphasis is in cultural studies, specifically how romance and love are portrayed in our society through film. We've read studies about romance and relationship addiction, analyzed several films and works of literature and had some of the most interesting discussions I've had in college so far.

My Persuasive Writing professor, who is oddly similar in speech and mannerisms to my dad, is teaching us how to use argumentative writing to solve real problems in communities. Our assignment for the semester is to find a real problem and work toward a practical solution to it. And he's not lying. Several of his past students have actually implemented their ideas and created significant change.

My advertising classes are inspiring, as always, and I feel like I'm constantly learning about my own creative process and how to refine my ideas. I get to make a legitimate commercial this semester and that has been exhausting, at times, but so exciting. I'm learning about the way typography, photography, graphic design and all kinds of visuals communicate in different ways. And I've been pumping out concepts, roughs and comprehensive campaigns since day one of our creative track class.

I'm loving every minute of it.


just checking in

to say that I'm alive.

I know it's been a while, but I haven't felt inspired to write.
At least not here.

But I will soon.

And, for what it's worth, I've started at least 5 posts in the past few weeks, but they always end up half finished, in the drafts folder.



It's officially cold enough to break out the cardigans and scarves and that makes me a little giddy.

I really love summer and sunshine and all that comes with that, but I can't wait to wake up with a mug of hot cocoa or cider, pumpkin carving for Halloween, or the smell of rain.

I think this semester is going to be a great one. The first two weeks have been pretty good and I'm still really busy, but it's a busy that I can handle. The good kind of busy, is what I keep telling people.

The changing of seasons is so refreshing, and it makes me excited and anxious for what this year holds.


NYC: 1, LA: 0

I was planning on writing a post about how I conquered the local bus system, and finally figured out how to navigate around this little town sans roommate's car or favors from my neighbors.

But then I waited half an hour for a bus that never came (when they only come every hour anyway), and decided that my trusty little legs are better than any air-conditioned seat on a bus.

At least for now.

I'm still determined to figure out at least a couple necessary bus routes to the grocery store and other important places, but we'll save that for another day.

When people ask me where I want to intern/work after I graduate, I usually say New York City or LA, and that I'm pretty torn between the two.

But since LA means traffic and traffic means white knuckles and stress, today I'm leaning toward the Big Apple. or maybe the Windy City.



Today is my parent's 30th wedding anniversary.

I am so grateful for the example of commitment and true love they show to me and my siblings. No marriage is easy, and my parents have had plenty of tough times, but I am so grateful for the character they possess in the face of difficulty.

The Coalwells are not quitters.

We don't give up when it gets hard.
We don't do things unless we're going to do them well.
We don't start something unless we're going to finish it.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for teaching me that and so much more.


Summer reminds us every year to keep our hearts young

Okay, so I couldn't find a decent quality live version of this song, but I'm completely smitten with it.

It's so childlike and innocent.

So just listen to it, and then go run through the nearest sprinklers you can find.


Not just another last name


Someday, when we take a road trip to your hometown (whether it's 3 days driving or 45 minutes away) so I can meet your folks,

I want to see your high school and eat at the restaurant you bussed tables at before college.
I want to go to your little sister's dance recital, and watch your nephews play little league.
I want to visit with your mom while we clean up the dinner dishes and see all of those embarrassing pictures of you when you were awkward and brace-faced and thirteen.
I want to go out to dinner with your grandparents and listen to them tell all the stories you've heard every year since you were little.

I even want your Dad to tease me because I say "pop" instead of "soda" or the way I jump ten feet if someone sneaks up behind me.

And I hope you don't find it strange that I'll want to send your mother a card on her birthday, or remember to leave the pecans out of the brownies because your little brother is allergic.

You see, my family means everything to me. So if I'm going to become part of your family, too,

well, I'm all in.


To the boy in the computer lab:

Funny how the two of us come here almost every day,
but I don't know your name
or anything about you

Except that you probably know Excel much better than I do,
you check your email almost as much as I do
and you're a PC

If this was a romantic comedy, there would be a mix up at the printer and somehow I'd end up with your calculus review sheet, and you'd go home with my art history slide list and that would give me an excuse to talk to you.

And naturally, I'd ask you why you are taking calculus, and maybe you're a business major, or maybe you are one of those blessed souls who wants to teach 17 year olds about integrals and derivatives.
And I'd tell you that in high school, I spent the majority of my calculus experience listening to Three Days Grace on a borrowed iPod.
And you'd confess that your guilty pleasure music is Hanson post-MMMBop.

And I'd laugh.
And you'd like that.

And the beginning would really be that easy.

*meet me at the printer in 5?*


A few good words

"The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."
-Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes to do, but in liking what one has to do."
-Richard L. Evans

"People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
-Mother Theresa

I love that last one. happiness is a choice and some of the happiest people I know, have some of the toughest problems, but they've found a way to see the good through it all.



I just finished reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. She's the writer of Orangette. She has this magical way of writing like she's had you over for lunch, and after your belly is satisfied like it's never been before, you ask for the recipe, and she, graciously, obliges. And then she tells you about that one time when she made it for so-and-so and suddenly you're off on some tangent that will, inevitably, lead you back to the table.

Since Sunday afternoon, when I started it, this book has been my late night dessert each evening. Not only have I loved curling up in my bed just before I go to sleep, to drool over the recipes and stories Molly tells, I have loved making time in my schedule to read. It has been too long, but it is such a treat.

I loved it. And I may just gain 200 pounds from trying all of the recipes. Although, to Molly's credit, there are enough salads in that book to balance out the butter, chocolate, and whipped cream that fill the rest of the pages.

So thanks, Molly, for confirming that a life centered around the kitchen is perfectly balanced. And that real life fairy tales actually begin with chocolate cake instead of poison apples.


career addendum

Okay, I love writing.
And copywriting.
Really, I do.

The fact that my future career will include sitting in an office full of interesting people and coming up with ideas is so exciting to me. Who else gets to watch random Youtube Videos, surf Twitter, and scribble in a notebook all day and call it work?

I can't wait for the late nights coupled with cartons of orange chicken and fried rice, rushed deadlines, last minute changes, rejections and redos, brain frustration, pages and pages of words reduced to one line, and finally, the success of knowing we nailed it.

I am also realizing how much I love reading, eating and writing about food.

So I'm trying to figure out how I could combine those two passions of mine into something that can support that orange chicken addiction, or the fact that I really, really stink at scrimping on grocery bills.

And this would, naturally, be the part where I tell you that I discovered a fantastic career option and have decided to become a _____. However, the point of writing all this was that I have no idea what sort of combination of copywriting and cooking would actually suit me.



music to my soul

{This is the song that made me fall in love with Carbon Leaf}

My relationship with music can be pretty random.

There are some days where I'll listen to the same song 10 times in a row, and other days where my mix will be nothing short of Ella Fitzgerald, the Les Miserables soundtrack and Hanson.

I've never been someone who defines themselves by the music they listen to. I don't know everything about classic rock, or have 40 hours of orchestral music on my iPod, and I don't only listen to bands that no one has heard of.

But I love the Joshua Tree album, anything by Frank Sinatra, the Chopin nocturnes (thank you, parents), and a few bands that no one I know seems to be familiar with.

Carbon Leaf, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and Jon McLaughlin are the musical men that I've had pretty long term relationships with, stereo speaking. I don't listen to them every day, but I've never played one of their songs and not fallen in love with them all over again.

I saw Carbon Leaf in concert last summer at one of my favorite little concert venues, literally an old garage turned hipster scene. It was incredible. I don't know what it is about their music, but it hits me right in the soul. It's like coming home.

SK and the Sixers has some kind of drawl, but they aren't really country, and their music doesn't make me want to dance, but it makes me love my life a little bit more.

In 2008, when I saw Sara Bareilles in concert, I found out later that she'd been touring with Jon, but not when I saw her. Jon McLaughlin's music is like a breath of much needed fresh air. It's like a weekend in the country, when you've been stuck at the office all week, smothered in city smog and subway steel. (Not that I've actually had that experience, but I'm pretty sure if I had, Jon's music is the sort of thing that would keep me sane.)

They are like old friends that, even when we haven't talked in a few months or years, when we bump into each other and decide to grab lunch, after five minutes, it's like we're back in high school and we never lost touch.


Relay for Life 2011

Everyone knows someone who is/has been/will be affected by cancer. It's an awful disease that both takes lives and produces survivors.

We can't hide from it. We can't stop fighting to find out more about it and figure out how to beat it.

A few friends and I made a Relay for Life team (our event is this Friday-Saturday) and we're trying raise money for the cause. Here is a website we've set up to make online donations simple and safe for those who want to help!

All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society to fight the battle against cancer. This is a great opportunity to remember those who have passed away from cancer, those who have beat it and those who are still fighting!

Even the smallest donations add up, so if you can even spare 5 bucks, we welcome it!

Thank you so much!



"23And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.


25He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no ahurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

26¶Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.

27And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the afire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats bchanged, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

28Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his aangel, and delivered his servants that btrusted in him, and chave changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God."

Daniel 3:23-28

I've always been amazed by this story. It would have been so incredible to witness this miracle and see the men in the furnace emerge unscathed.

But it also makes me think of the story of Abinadi. I'm sure he was just as faithful and devoted to God as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, but he was not saved from his fire.

Anyway, that made me think about trials I've experienced and the trials I've witnessed others struggle with, and how sometimes the Lord chooses to take away the pain, and sometimes he lets us experience it.

But I think that is because we all learn and grow in different ways. Sometimes our faith grows by witnessing a miracle, and sometimes the miracle is that even after the tough times, we can still believe. He knows us and He knows not only what we need, but how we need it.

And I am so grateful for that.


Good Morning Green

"Green (or rather, purple) smoothies" in the morning may just be my new favorite thing.

I'll admit, I was a surefire skeptic at first. But I'm getting better at making them like anything but spinach. The one I made this morning was my favorite so far:
  • big handful of spinach
  • spoonful of whole flax seeds
  • unsweetened almond milk
  • mixed berries (black, blue and raspberries)
  • two heaping spoonfuls of honey greek yogurt
I blended it until it was a creamy lavender whipped mess and it was the perfect breakfast.

Good food can be good for you.

"The most terrible battles leave some places untouched, protected, despite being surrounded by fire."

How perfectly convenient that, yesterday, as I was waiting for the timer on the chocolate chip cookies to go off, I curled up in an armchair in our parlor* to get sucked into the first part of Suite Francaise, "Storm in June," while outside drops of rain as big as marbles fell all along the ground, and thunder shook the walls of this antique house.

My parents gave me this book for Christmas and I am finally getting around to reading it. It was actually the bit on the back of the book about the author, not the plot synopsis that caught my interest originally:

"When Irene Nemirovsky began working on Suite Francaise, she was already a highly successful writer living in Paris. But she was also a Jew, and in 1942 she was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died. For sixty-four years, this novel remained hidden and unknown."

I really like the book so far. I am always so inspired by stories of ordinary people and the things that happen to them.

This part especially struck me:
"In all her life the woman had probably never said anything but ordinary things, like 'the leeks are getting bigger' or 'who's the dirty pig who got my floor all muddy?'...What are we in people's eyes, Maurice and I, other than two miserable employees? It's true in a way, but in another way, we are precious and unique. I know that too...All they could do was to keep walking and place themselves in the hands of God."

image via this
*so named by my landlords.


In case you were wondering,


I don't believe in diet fads, 1200 calories a day, or ever being too shy to wear a swimsuit in the summer.
I don't believe in stuffing lunchboxes with twinkies, fruit by the foot, or gushers.
I don't believe in going into debt to buy a house bigger than we need, or a car we can't afford.
I don't believe in going to bed angry.

I do believe in eating well, and the way a kitchen makes a home.
I believe in apple slices and peanut butter, homemade chocolate chip cookies and turkey sandwiches on thick whole wheat bread.
I believe in saving pennies and doing without, but also rewarding ourselves for our hard work.
I believe in taking a plate of brownies to new neighbors and smiling at the mailman.
I believe in little league, ballet classes and parking lot pickup basketball games.
I believe in "goodbye"s closely followed by "I love you"s.

And don't worry, I believe in road trips with greasy fingers from french fries, and Happy Meal toys for the kids, and frozen pizza for lazy Friday nights (or Saturday morning breakfasts), and buying girl scout cookies from the 10 year old down the street and chocolate any time of day, and buying just about anything little kids sell at a roadside stand.

image via vi.sualize.us


Confessions of a cosmetically-challenged 22 year old

Okay, I'm not a tomboy.

But still, when I walk down every aisle of the makeup section, I'm a little in awe at all the powders, creams, compacts, tubes, and wonder how I managed to go almost 23 years without actually knowing how to apply eyeshadow or eyeliner to my top lashes.

Or figuring out which shade of lipstick flatters my features.

I grew up playing with my mom's makeup, dolling my face up for dance recitals and sneaking fuchsia Wet N' Wild lipstick in my 3rd grade backpack, but somehow got lost in between the month where I didn't where makeup at all and the stage makeup that, well, only looks good on stage.

But apparently my beauty regimen is pretty basic, and apparently that means I need a little help in the "big girl" makeup department (aka the kind you buy at the counter, not the register)

Today, I went in search of a new shade of lipstick. The one that I dab just a bit of on my lips in the morning is nice, but I've had it for years and I'm pretty sure it came from one of those free gifts you get when you (or, in my case, my mother) purchase some Lancome mascara or Benefit blush.

Anyway, I perused all the basic drugstore brands' selections of lip tints, glosses, and sticks, so wanting to be the girl who could pull off "fire," but realizing that "rose petal" probably better suits my complexion. And I remembered that one time 8 years ago when my mom pulled out her seasonal color analysis book and we tried to figure out if I was a summer or a winter, and I couldn't remember if I had a warm or a cool undertone.

And after disregarding that momentary stress, I grabbed a tube called "cherries in the snow," threw it in my basket and hoped that it wouldn't make me look like a clown.

And, you know, I tried it on tonight, and I think it just might work.

image via google

ps: I can tell you, that my mom bought me some Nars blush over Christmas (with a color title that makes my cheeks flush) from Sephora and I absolutely love it. I may be hooked.



There is something deep inside my soul that pulls me to Virginia.
And I have no idea why.

I have only been there once, with my sister to visit her then boyfriend who was a grad. student at UVA, but I remember the smell and the heat of summer, and the rain. And the heat in the rain in the summer.

And maybe it's just another facet of my love affair with southern life or my not-so-hidden desire to be the next Paula Deen.

But of all the places I may end up, 20 years from now, with a little family and an old house and a life that I love, I think I could be very happy in a smallish town in Virginia.

But that is really all I know right now.

the unposted


That is the number of drafts I have for this blog.

Some of them are unfinished, some of them are just a title, and some of them are nothing more than a few words to prompt a future thought.

But a few of them, are polished and perfect and maybe a bit too personal.
These are the things I will never publish,
at least not in this space.

The words that aren't vague enough to camouflage their true subjects.
The melancholy memories that creep up on me, even after I've long since put them to rest.

There are times when I'm tempted to give myself a new identity and create a fresh dashboard with no attachment to my name, just for the sake of posting these thoughts that are maybe too much for this blog.

But, the thing is, there is a a very fine line between the things I'll never say, and the thoughts I ache to be read.

For now, it is enough to keep them tucked away in that folder, crossing my fingers that I don't accidentally release them to an unsuspecting audience (it would not be the first time). Perhaps, a boy who may stumble upon this little space, by chance.

And I read them. Sometimes over and over. I remember how and who I was when I wrote these words.

And, like a lot of things, it's a bit sweeter because no one else gets to know.

we won't be leaving by the same road that we came by*

{I found this in my "Drafts" folder today, and I can't quite remember what prompted me to write it, which must mean it's safe now to post, right?}

And we won't be the same people when we leave either.
Because the rocks and the ridges in the road shape the pattern of our footprints.

And because we grow up, and we grow together, and we grow wiser.

So that we realize there are things about the person we used to be that we'd prefer to leave in the past.

We leave those pieces of us for the journal entries and the photo albums, tucked away to remember, but also to forget.

Like a mental list of who not to be.
It's good to remember, because it allows us to see how far we've come.

But it's better to forget, because then we can finally be free.

*Keane, you have been my muse for the past two and a half weeks. So thanks for that.



If I knew as a child how much I would love to cook as a college student, I probably would have taken more advantage of my mom's kitchen smarts.

I can think of all those time she tried to teach my sister and I how to cook and we had zero desire to learn.
I guess some things you just have to learn out of necessity.

Somehow, when people ask me what I like to do, I never know what to say.

I mean,
I've done dance my whole life, so I guess that's one.
Like almost anyone, I love watching movies and going to concerts.
I like to write.
I like to read.
And, I guess, I love to cook.

And I like a whole lot of other things, but for some reason, they all slip my mind when people bring up "hobbies."

Today, Kellie and I made a peanut butter cheesecake and ended up with extra filling, so we made some chocolate brownies and marbled the batter on top...and still had some extra filling, so we're going to make some yummy cheesecake bites. I swear, this is like the neverending fountain of cheesecake.

Sundays are the best.

This is the brownie recipe we used. We haven't tried it yet, but i'm sure it's divine.


All is well

So glad I finally finished the series. In 4 weeks, I read books 5-7 (the 7th at about 10:15 last night), watched movies 1-4, 5 and 7.1, and remembered that I love to read.

And I love magic.

Thanks for reminding us that, in the end, good will always triumph.

image via


why not

Something about him had stuck with her, and it would creep up on her when she heard a song that sounded like one he wrote or ran down his side of the street.

It hadn't even been anything, but it still hurt.

That time, he had been the one to say no.
Well, he didn't actually say it out loud.
But she knew.

Somehow his rejection had hurt more than the others. It was that curious kind of hurt, like when you peel back the bandaid just to see if the graze is healing, except that by doing so, you only make it worse.

Because the hardest part about the whole situation was not knowing why.

Or why not, rather.


we never really do find out why, do we?

dare you to move

Every once in a while, a song comes on the radio,

not a new song,

but one that knows you by heart;

it stops you in your tracks,

and it's all you can do to just remember to breathe.

This is one of those songs.



I've never been very trendy.

Not to say I don't take effort in putting myself together, but I grew up with my mother's and grandmother's examples of timeless class rather than of-the-minute fashion fads.

However, I've always been partial to old things, so I guess you could say I'm vintage in the sense that I love old movies, used books and the music of my parents' and grandparents' era.

Someday when my bookshelves stop moving themselves every year or so, I'll stock them with a collection of Barbra Streisand movies, books I've read and reread so many times they automatically open to my favorite pages, and Rat Pack records that make that scratchy sound when placed on the turntable.


the downward glance

I have this bad habit.

For years, it seemed like no one remembered me.
I would meet someone (sometimes multiple times) and if we didn't see each other for a while (or even if we saw each other the next day),

I would remember, but they wouldn't.
I could tell them where we met and what we talked about, but they would reintroduce themselves like it had never happened.

So I perfected this halfway downward glance. A defense mechanism, of sorts, to protect my ego against that harsh lack of words or even a look of recognition, for those times when I passed someone in the hall or on the street that I recognized,

but I just assumed they wouldn't recognize me.

Look up, Oh look who it is, quickly-look-down-again-before-he-thinks-I'm-staring, head down, fiddle with whatever happens to be in my purse, slowly raise my gaze, just enough to check if his pupils are scanning in my direction, and if/when they aren't, look away and walk on by.

But then there is always the backward glance, just out of curiosity, to see if maybe, he realized who I was a split second too late.

I've gotten better, really, I have. I've even gotten up the nerve to be the first one to say hello. Which, believe me, is very outside-comfort zone for me.

But today, it happened again. And it was silly, really. Because I knew he would remember...but the thing is...I wanted him to speak first. Because I had the last word last time.


This land


twenty years from now I take my own little family to the local football stadium to watch fireworks with a picnic basket of sandwiches, apple slices and raspberry lemonade,

a few lawn chairs on my back and an armful of old blankets,

and a deck of playing cards in my back pocket to entertain us while we wait for the show to begin,

I hope that I still get chills when the local girl or boy sings the national anthem.
I hope that even before my children learn to walk, they know that you stand when you see the American flag,
that you show respect to your leaders and those who fight to defend this country (even when you disagree with the policy or the conflict),
that you can fulfill any and all of your dreams if you're willing to work for it,

and I hope that gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy in this country still brings me to tears.

Happy Independence day! God Bless this land!

image via deviantart


Follow up to "Date a Girl Who Reads"

The other day my mother and I were talking about our favorite children's books, and I was struck with such gratitude that my parents read to me as a child. I remember so many times sitting on my Dad's lap, reading Make Way for Ducklings or Harry the Dirty Dog. Later, the baton was passed to me and I would get to take a turn reading a chapter of The Forest Runners. Or going to the library with my mom to get my first library card, and discovering the pure discovery that is reading.

While my older sister was flying through Agatha Christie mysteries and Jane Eyre, I was hooked on Harriet the Spy, Maniac Magee and Homer Price.

The first book I ever read from my Dad's bookshelves (stocked with classic literature) was To Kill a Mockingbird. And when people ask me what my favorite book is, that's still what I say.

I remember as a little kid, when I found a book I really liked, I worried that if I closed it before finishing, the story would go on without me. Somehow the characters would resolve their conflicts and fall in or out of love and I'd miss out, unless I sat there and read to the end.

I've always loved reading, but I haven't always made it a priority or given it the time it deserves (or the time I want to give it). This week I remembered why I love it so much and forgot how I really survived on a diet solely comprised of textbooks and news articles.

But I've mended my ways and I'm making a summer reading list (suggestions welcome!), because that's what summer is for, right?

Here's to my parents, for teaching me the beauty of great stories.

Read This

I realize that dozens of other blogs and websites have posted this already, and I could probably just link to it, but I want to make sure you read it. (I found this from Meg Fee's re-post of it. Sometimes I want to steal Meg's Google Reader because she finds the best bits of writing!)

Because it's absolutely exquisite.

"Date a Girl Who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by God, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Yes oh yes. Rosemarie, you nailed it.


and she's back

She took some time and took off for a new life and when she returned after a month and a half, it was almost like it hadn't happened.

Except that it did.

And she couldn't (wouldn't) deny that because she was different.

The conversations, the culture and the people she met were unforgettable. The experience was like a giant growth spurt and like any growing pains, it hurt to leave.

She didn't feel quite ready to give it up.

She knew the home she was coming back to would be pretty much the same, but she would never be the same girl as before she left.

And because she was different, everything would change.


Check out my Salvadoran life

Hey, kids. Sorry I haven't been writing much lately. I've been busy doing a myriad of projects in El Salvador, and if you want to hear about it, check this out.


one for the readers

I haven't been a very good blog friend lately.
I've written a few posts, but none that are worth sharing with the world. Some too personal, some just not inspired.

Either way, here's an update:
I leave for El Salvador in less than 24 hours. Read about my adventures here. I probably won't be posting much on this blog until I get back.

Anyway, what it really comes down to is this: I'm going to El Salvador!!!!!!!!


Spring Haikus

No more blow dryers
Packing away all my coats
Time for sunny days

One week till I leave
New places, scary but fun
I can barely wait

Of course before I
leave I might meet someone great
but they can sit tight


a question


You're old fashioned and I'm a little old fashioned,

so why don't we take black and white photographs and name our children Lucy and Harold

and build a home out of pennies and patience

and you'll read the paper as I'm finishing up dinner and after the food is gone we'll sit at the table for hours,

still hungry for each other's company,

even after all these years?

image via


that time

so it's that time of year again.
when people graduate.
when people leave.
and this time, I'm leaving, too. (but i'm coming back.)

It's kind of weird to think that two weeks from today, I'll be on my way to (or maybe already in) El Salvador.
I finally get to put a stamp in my passport.
I've gotten my vaccinations (heavens, 3 in one day was a baaad idea)
I have a plane ticket.
I still need to pack.
I still need to buy a few things, like Chacos and cheap, quick-drying skirts and T shirts.

And, don't tell anyone, but: I'm a little.bit.scared.

It's unknown, but it's going to be exciting. And the unknownness is what is exciting.

This is a big step for me.
I committed to this a few months ago, and I'm following through with it, and that is an accomplishment all on its own.

And whatever this trip ends up being, it will be good for me. Because learning is never a bad thing.

image via vi.sualize.us

one of my favorites so far:

So sometimes I read this blog "letters to crushes"*

Today, I read a post titled "The best places to fall in love are book stores and libraries."

Oh boy, oh boy do I agree with that.

Full post here. Read it.

*Thank you, miss Katya, for introducing me to it!



Give me five seconds to be totally self-absorbed and braggy to say:


For those of you non-advertising majors, this means that I get to call myself a real writer of copy and get to work on cool projects, spend hours and hours brainstorming and juicing my brain of creative brilliance.

I can't wait.


this is me:

Yesterday I went grocery shopping at my favorite little grocery store.

As I was walking around the store, my basket overflowing with fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, I remembered a part of myself that had been set aside.

A part of me that had been overshadowed by big generic supermarkets, small paychecks and relying on others for transportation, but was just waiting to come to the surface.

To remind me of some things I really care about.

So this is me, at least when it comes to food:

I like to buy organic*
I like to buy local
I like to buy free range animal products*
I care about the planet
I prefer wheat
I have a slight addiction to greek yogurt

So maybe it's time I start living up to who I really am, and how I really want to eat.

{I can't wait until the farmers market starts up again!}

*when people ask me why, it catches me off guard and my mind blanks on the research, but basically it comes down to this: I like my food without a side of pesticides.
* This is another one that, for some, requires explanation. My thoughts are: healthy animals make healthy animal products.

image via


the substitute people

From Elizabethtown. I sort of love that movie.

Claire: "Do you want to hear my theory?"
Drew: "Of course."
Claire: "You and I have a special talent, and I saw it immediately."
Drew: "Tell me."
Claire: "We're the substitute people."
Drew: "Substitute people?"
Claire: "I've been a substitute person my whole life. I'm not an Ellen; I never wanted to be an Ellen. And I'm not a Cindy either, although Chucks loves me."
Drew: "I'm sure they do."
Claire: "I'm impossible to forget, but I'm hard to remember."

image via this and this


why I love advertising:

Because even at 1 am, when we've already been here for 9 hours today, and we're tired and sugar-overloaded...we all still want to be here.
Because looking at blogs, surfing facebook and looking up information on wikipedia all counts as research.
Because our professors care enough to hang out with us until the work is finished, even if the stuff doesn't get done until 1am.
Because everyone brings food to share.

Because it's just fun.


A conversationalist


Please be the kind of guy who can just as easily chat with the cashier at the grocery store or the CEO of a major corporation.

And please make sure you tip well at restaurants. Trust me, I've been a server.

Because I know if you show consideration and genuine interest in the lives of people you barely know, you'll treat me with the same respect.

Just Me



Life is just so good.

Wordle: Grateful


Let me tell you a story

A boy walked in the room.
A boy she'd seen before, one she'd met once, several years ago, but it was a brief encounter and not one he'd probably remember.
But she remembered, like she always did.

Boy: "I've met you before..."
Girl: "Yeah, we met freshman year once. It's _______, right?"
Boy: "Wow. Yeah."
Girl (to his other friend): "Yeah, and I think I met you, too. It's _______, right?"
Other Boy: "That is an impressive memory!"

(semi awkward pause)

Boy: "Wait, so how did we meet?"
Girl: "We met at _____'s cabin one time; I wore your sweatpants." (What?! Did I really just tell him that?? stupid. stupid. stupid.)
Boy: "Whoa, really?! Wow. And that was the only time we met?"
Girl: "Yeah, remember? we all jumped in the creek in the morning, and got soaked."

Boy: "Oh yeah, I do remember jumping in the creek" (But clearly, he doesn't remember me...dang)

Lesson Learned: If you happen to have a near stalker-like memory when it comes to people (not your fault, you were programmed that way), don't let on so quickly. Play the "Oh yeah, you look kind of familiar to me too..." card for at least 10 minutes and then slowly work in the "wait..do you know so-and-so??"

This is a much better solution than the "Oh yeah, Firstname Lastname, don't you remember the 30 second introduction we had 3 years ago with Mutual Friend in Random Location where you told me you are from Hometown and you have Number of kids in your family. Wait...and you don't even remember my name?"



Crunch Time

Okay, guys.
I know you're there, somewhere. (and if you're reading this, yes, I mean YOU).

I'm working on my creative portfolio and I need to include a few things:

a little bit about myself
some brilliant advertising

and (here's where you come in)

a few writing samples, extra creative stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.

If you've read one of my blog posts or one hundred, now is your chance to tell me what your favorites are.

So pretty please leave me a comment with the title/link to a post of mine that you thought was good enough to reread.

image via


a taste

Today I wore no jacket to school.
And I walked to class
And I wasn't cold.

California runs through my blood and I crave the beach almost as much as I crave chocolate.

Today felt a little bit like the beginning of spring, and the end of a winter that wasn't the most stressful, but it had its moments.

Today was a day when the world was conquered.
When somehow everything came together and worked, even when I was sure it wouldn't.
And for that, I am grateful.

images via this


remember to breathe

It's one o clock in the morning and I'm still up.

I feel an interesting mix of energized and overwhelmed.
I know that when my alarm goes off tomorrow morning (at the bright hour of 6), I'll wish I'd have gone to bed a little earlier.

But I was up talking to my best friend, what can you say?

There is still an Art History test to be studied for.
And some work to be done.
And a meal to be planned
And some clever lines of copy to be written.

Sometimes I wish I had a span of 48 hours to not sleep and just get things done. Check off the tasks on my to do list for the next week, so I could actually enjoy the fun things.

But, alas, 5 hour energies and cups of coffee are not really my style.


Un-Do List

Things I did NOT accomplish today:
-writing the thank you notes I need to
-addressing fundraising letters for this little trip
-applying for a few more scholarships for next year.

However, I was able to:
-make a dozen homemade bagels (they were delicious)
-make a pizza to use up some leftover pizza sauce
-spend some quality time with the roommates
-listen to the words of some inspired leaders at stake conference and at the CES fireside. (L. Tom Perry is my hero).
-meet some new people and laugh...a lot.

Oh well. There is always tomorrow.

ps: two of my favorite women in the whole wide world are coming to visit me this week. and I couldn't be more excited!

everything is more romantic in french

This may just be one of the most romantic songs I've ever heard.
I fell in love with it when I heard it play at the end of French Kiss.

Louis Armstrong's trumpet can take my breath away any day.
And Edith Piaf's voice is incredible.

I don't even need to hear the words to want to melt into some dashing man's arms and forget the world.


the kitchen

the darkest chocolate couldn't compete with the brown in her eyes as she wheeled that horn of plenty to the kitchen door.

the kitchen,
where tomatoes marry milk, butter and basil
to make a pot of soup
to share at the dinner table
across from the man with salt and pepper hair.

they talk about the city, the state, the world
theories are touted, and definitions are discovered

an encyclopedia is the entree
that complements the creamy tomato soup.

their conversation continues long after
the soup spoons are cold
and the bread is no more than crumbs
and water droplets have dripped down the sides of the water goblets.

and as she stacks the two bowls in one hand and walks over to rinse them in the sink,
he remembers how she wanted a house with a big kitchen
and why he was okay with that.

for my mom, my dad, and our kitchen.


eat it up

I love to cook.

At 16, when my mother was anxiously trying to pass on some of her food wisdom, I never would have expected the above statement to be true.

To be honest, I was intimidated by the measuring cups, the saucepans and the kitchen stove.

The idea that with a prayer and a great recipe (or no recipe at all!) one could whip up something delicious was completely foreign to me.

When I moved into my first apartment (after living in the dorms and eating cafeteria food all year..,remind me, how is the first year of college any different from high school?), I lived off of grilled cheese sandwiches, condensed tomato soup, and cheese quesadillas.

(I know, Mom, you taught me better than that.)

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I had an epiphany I could almost taste:

I can do this; cooking really isn't that hard.

I learned that the worst that can happen is that you have a great story to tell about the time when you burned the toast three times in a row, or when you forgot to grease the cake pan.

And the best than can happen is that you make a batch of brownies that sort of become legend in some circles, or you sit down to a Sunday dinner that actually resembles your grandmother's cooking.

But more than just cooking, I really learned how to eat.

I learned to like* salad.
I learned that almost any vegetable tastes delicious if it's sauteed in olive oil and salt and pepper.
I learned that the best chocolate cake doesn't come from a box, but from my grandmother's recipe book.

This is all just to say that I'm feeling pretty confident with the knowledge that my future children will not starve, and even better, won't survive solely PB &J and macaroni and cheese.

*read: tolerate
**A couple of weeks ago, I discovered Orangette....oh to make delicious food and write about it all day.


I officially have too many blogs

And apparently not enough to write about.

I apologize if you expected this to be inspiring or beautifully written or poetic.
Today is just a typical day, full of the ordinary.

But I'm completely okay with that.

Life is still busy.
And complicated.
And sometimes stressful.
And exhausting.

But it's still really good.

Anyway, I started another blog.
To tell you all about my adventures this summer in El Salvador.
So check it out, if you're curious what I'll be doing.


El salvador

Hey, remember this little poll?

Turns out the answer is none of the above.

Looks like I'll be working on #1 and #15 from this list this spring for 6 weeks.

I'm excited to get my hands dirty, to push my mental and physical limits, to experience true culture shock, and to learn more from the people I'm working with than I could possibly ever teach them.

It's going to be a real adventure,

and I can't wait.


grin and bear it

I realized something about myself the other day.
Something different.
Not a huge change.
But, for me, a significant one.

I smile bigger than I used to.
Not more,

Wider smiles at people I know.
Smiling with my eyes and not just my lips.
Even a few of those big, cheesy grins at complete strangers (the kind I used to balk at and think of as so fake)

And I don't think it's because of anything in particular.
It's because I'm just...happy.
And I've been happy for a while, but
I think it's more that my outlook on life is generally a positive one.

Because there are still times when I'm annoyed or frustrated or upset (sometimes warranted, sometimes not).
But I've learned, I guess, to not let those moments define me.

Life is a gift.
And even when life is awful, there are still some not so awful parts of it (however hard to find they may be).

So if you think this sounds like an overly-optimistic rant that should have been put at the end of a low budget chick flick/church film, you're probably right.

But, oh well, maybe life is sometimes like the movies.

image via



{I've recently fallen in love with the man behind this music.
How does John Legend hit it every time?}

My family is everything to me.
They are my anchor.
And maybe we aren't perfect, because we're just people.
But they are perfect for me.

I love that the way we celebrate is by sitting down to a beautiful table to enjoy heaping plates of delicious homemade goodness.
I love that we always bicker about which direction to pass the food around the table, and what the difference is between yams and sweet potatoes.

I love that when Dad says "What we have here...is failure to communicate," we all catch the reference.
I love that Mom and I always rewind and replay our favorite parts of First Wives Club, You've Got Mail and Return to Me. And that I grew up watching Barbra Streisand movies.
I love that Christine and I can swap recipes and that we cooked a Thanksgiving feast for the two of us and Blake, because we couldn't cut out any of our favorite dishes.
I love that Kevin has the same teachers that Christine and I had growing up, and that they still remember us.
I love the late night chats Dad and I would have when I got home from working at Anthony's and needed to relax.
I love having Oma and Opa ten minutes away and sharing Sunday dinners with them.

I love that being a Coalwell means you say "police officer" instead of "cop," you probably speak some amount of another language, you don't jump on trampolines, and you love to learn.

I'm so glad we'll all be together forever.
Because it's going to be unbelievable.