6-in-6: My Halfway Bucket List

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Although I tend to opt for reflections over resolutions when we hit those end of December days, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a list of things that I want to accomplish throughout the year. My beginning half of 2016 was pretty action packed, but as I settle into a new home and a more routine life (at least for a little while) I wanted to make sure that I was still pushing myself to try new stuff.

So, I came up with this list of 6 things I want to do in the next 6 months.


1. Complete a basic coding class

Computer Science school drop-out doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but I’m sure Boys2Men as Teen Angel(s?) would have made it work. Please, someone out there appreciate the reference…

I started college as an Information Science major, if we’re going to get specific about it, and only lasted about half the semester before switching into Finance. My reasoning used to be that I didn’t have the brain for coding, but I’ve since decided that that excuse is entirely inaccurate. It’s more like I just couldn’t keep up with the speed of the classes. I wasn’t entirely new to this, I had done some beginner HTML and C++ in high school, but it was still hard to get a handle on! A year or two ago I tried teaching myself how to code again and it’s… still a struggle. So I’ve been looking at some open source courses and decided THIS is the year I’ll do it. I’ll get to the finish line and I’ll get there at my own pace.

2. Start drum lessons

Another story of prior failures in life: I’m not musically inclined. Not to say that I haven’t tried (violin, saxophone, guitar, chorus) but I never found something to stick with (aside from singing Paramore’s greatest hits in my shower) and I’ve wanted to get into drumming for a while now! It’s impossible for me to listen to music without moving, whether it be tapping a finger or bouncing a leg or flailing in circles screaming the lyrics to S Club Party with friends at a “silent” disco. Drumming felt good for me to get into so I’ll let you know how that goes.

3. Cross-stich Christmas

This is the year for a crafty Christmas. Believe it or not I started working on things for people in January and I’m determined to give my close friends and family personally cross-stiched gifts. I’m not ruining any surprises with this announcement because who knows exactly what they’ll get cross-stitched for them? That being said, funny suggestions are appreciated.

4. Visit 6 new states

I’ve moved to an entirely new region of the United States of America and as a newbie, I want to explore my surroundings a bit. It’s absolutely ludicrous to me that I’ve been bitten by this home country wanderlust bug all of a sudden when I spent the other 22 odd years of my life within a 6 hour driving distance of 10 other states and 1 other country and did I do much exploring of them? Honestly, not really. Now all of a sudden I’m like “woo! gonna take a weekend trip to Cincinnati!” The good side of this is that I’ll have so many voyages to share with you.

5. Go up in a small plane

In recent years I’ve developed a fear of flying, which is utterly insane given how much I’ve travelled in said recent years. My brain has started to rationalize that the fear is coming from the element of unknowingness. Since I don’t know the technicalities of how we’re flying and how the pilots are controlling the craft, it makes me that much more panicky. And I mean really panicky, like tears streaming down my face mid-flight panicky. How do I figure I’ll confront this fear? I’ve got it in my head to maybe get my pilots license. But baby steps! Let’s get me up in a smaller airplane first and see how that goes.

6. Make lasagna from scratch

Being one of my favorite foods, I reckon I should learn how to make it. When I was in Ireland I spent some time with an Italian couple who were amazing cooks and they shared a few secrets of the trade. Let me know if you want in on the taste test!

Inch by Inch, Row by Row: Life Lessons from the Garden

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Almost 2 months ago when I told my family I would be leaving to go work outside on an estate in Ireland for a little while, they were incredulous. To them, and friends, and many others, it didn’t fit their image of me. They couldn’t see why I felt a need to do this. But to me, a lot of my childhood was spent outside and a lot of my lifehood is spent searching for something, anything, new to learn.

So that’s why I did it.

I want to once again say thank you to Tony, the head gardener I had the privilege of working with at Inish Beg. We had many conversations over my 6 weeks in West Cork and while some days those conversations were more oriented towards my obsessions with potatoes and Ice Road Truckers, most days they were of a more reflective and thought provoking nature. Whether or not Tony was aware of all the cogs turning and perspectives shifting in my head is another story, but turn and shift they did and this post is only a handful of the ones I took away from it all.

A few weeks ago I watched a movie called “A Little Chaos” which is about the construction of the gardens at Versailles. Not only is the original score almost unbearably beautiful (highly recommend giving the title track a listen), but the story and design of the movie itself were really moving for me. There was a particular quote in the beginning of the film that struck me:

“God put us first into a garden, and when we lost Eden we were fated to search and reinvent it again.”

Maybe without the context of the film this isn’t so moving for you, but it’s definitely a notion that has stayed with me since I heard it. I love being outside, I’ve always loved being outside, and as a relatively young person a lot of my life now feels like a search for the places I feel most comfortable in.

In a way, this trip was a piece of my search for Eden – and here is what I found.


Give back what’s taken | bare root planting

I’m gonna kick this paragraph off by saying bare root planting is hard but it was probably the thing I enjoyed the most. Before this trip I had planted one single tree in my lifetime, on a study abroad trip, and it was quite a different lesson. People aren’t the only things that destroy nature (though I will definitely agree they’re the largest cause). The elements, disease, plain old coincidence and circumstance – they all have a hand to play. It became a sort of fundamental importance to put back into the earth whatever was taken, regardless of the cause. In the case of self-seeding plants, Mother Nature might just do it herself. But in the case of trees and hedge and fruits and veg a little human help is probably greatly appreciated.

Give and take has always been around, I’ve heard people saying it all my life. But now I see that it applies to all facets: to the things we consume and create as well as the friendships and kinships and small ships and big ships and what? Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, kindness finds its roots in giving – so that it can grow better branches to take from.

Keep it simple | small garden beds

Massive scale is hardly something I’ll be able to balance in my own future gardening endeavors, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still want to enjoy fresh foods, herbs, and flowers. Keeping it simple doesn’t always have to translate to keeping it small, that just happens to be how my own personal garden will manifest itself. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or discouraged it’s important to remember that a little can go a long way. So I’ll be starting with the basics: potatoes and maybe a flower or two.

Aside from gardens, there are a lot of aspects of my life that I want to simplify. I feel that there is so much overcomplication these days and that’s a huge stress trigger for me. I hate wasted space, I hate lugging around a huge closet of things I don’t even wear, I hate trying to make convoluted plans just to spend quality time with friends… so it’s all getting nixed! Simple eating, simple living, simple wearing, simple being – I’m here on out making the conscious effort.

Have vision | the winter season

Now, arriving to work on a garden in the winter season is not exactly the best idea if you want to see luscious, blooming flowers and fresh, green shrubbery. Most of what I worked with was brown and dampened, but I was conditioned into a sense of remembering that life was still in full swing all around us. Just because a plant was brown or wasn’t visible didn’t mean that it was dead. Winter is not a deadly season, it’s a resting season. Whenever I learned new plants or got assigned new tasks, we’d talk through what those plants would become or why those tasks were instrumental to promoting their growth. Creating those visions made me excited for the things I was doing because I had a better grasp on what was to come.

I consider myself a person with a healthy amount of creativity and a big imagination, but I also know that I struggle with preconception. If I’m working on something new, it’s fairly easy for me to open my mind but when it’s something I think I know and understand already, breaking down the walls to create that vision becomes more difficult. There are a million different adjectives you can use to describe this quality of myself (hey now, I heard that one!), but let’s just stick with visionistically impaired.

Work the lens both ways | the brassica bed & pruning the Rosa Rugosas

What I mean by that is step back just as much as you zoom in. The Rosa Rugosas were probably my favorite plants of the entire trip, and it’s a shame that I won’t get to see them in bloom. When I did a little research I discovered that they are not in fact a spell from Harry Potter but are actually noted in the US for being a tough dune plant, highly concentrated along the Northeast coastline. Pruning them, however, is relatively challenging considering the entirety of their branches are covered in small thorns. In gardening, there is a fine balance between the aesthetic and the practical. You have to be empirical in pruning back the roses because you want them to be healthy, however you also have to be conscious of the look and shape they will produce after said pruning. AKA you’ve got to step away every few cuts to make sure you haven’t lost sight of the bigger picture.

The brassica bed was a place I put a lot of work into my last few weeks. The bed itself was pretty much the only outdoor space we had providing fresh vegetables for the winter months, before the new seeds were sown and the new plants grown. Each week we’d pick through broccoli and cauliflower, parsley and wild chives, kale and assorted rainbow chards. In no way was the general health of any of these plants attributable to me, but I happily took on preparing and maintaining them for a bit. Pulling a few weeds, cutting off the dead or slug-eaten leaves, and giving the soil a good turn were all relatively minor tasks yet they made such a huge difference in the appearance of the bed. When stepping back suddenly the greens looked greener and the since-staked slumped over broccolis looked taller. I contented myself with knowing that for such small modifications, they seemed to make a world of difference in the grand scheme.

Be gentle… | encountering bugs & new growth

Honestly, I’m terrified of bugs. When I was little my tolerance had a hard stop at snails and worms. Hopefully it isn’t news to you that gardens have all manners of bugs but I had to learn to suck it up and accept that a lot of them were on our side (although the slugs had to go). Apparently bumblebees hibernate! They bury themselves in the soil over the winter and I came across several while working through the strawberry beds. The Cassie of yesteryears would have likely screamed and run away but knowing the importance, especially in the general population decline, of those bees I tried my best to leave them as undisturbed as possible… or at least move them to a safer spot of soil. I found myself feeling a lot more compassion towards bugs than I ever have before, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

Bumblebees weren’t the only things I had to be careful of though. New growth was everywhere, and I just had to learn how to look for it. What little gardening skill I brought with me on this trip culminated in the brute force method of weeding – tug that sucker out as hard as you can and rip at whatever is left. Wrong! I had to kick that habit upon arrival because in this garden, there was a necessity to be gentle. That new growth was usually hidden deep under all of the weeds I was clearing away, or even looked like a weed itself, so it became important to take my time and use whatever gentleness I could muster. There was a satisfaction that came from slowly working the entirety, roots and all, of a weed out of the ground and leaving the beautiful new plants safely undisturbed beside it. There is a gentleness and compassion that is warranted with even the most imperceptible of things – including the weeds. Make of that what you will.

… but not delicate pretty much everything!

Again, Ireland in the winter is not a forgiving climate and I wasn’t even there for the worst of it. That’s not to say that I was out battering the elements for the sake of tidying up a few dead stalks of parsley, but I still had to learn to embrace a little rain and mud. I was excited about getting my hands dirty for once. This whole experience was meant to push the comfort zones of my physical, mental, and emotional states – and I’m happy to report that it did. I worked hard at removing hesitation from anything I was asked to do because that’s how you learn and grow as a person (or something). I got comfortable with the dirt and the mud, the shoveling and the wheelbarrowing. Not being super strong didn’t stop me from trying as best I could and I like to think that I made my coworkers proud… because I can definitely say that I made me proud of me.

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A panorama from inside the Walled Garden. That big bed in the left-center is the brassica bed I worked on!

A List of Cooking Tips For A Novice Like Me [@WestCorkIRL]

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Go ahead and ask anyone who knows me and they’ll happily laugh in your face if you ask them about my past baking escapades. Nutella chocolate chip cookies? Apparently adding a whole jar of Nutella to the regular recipe is not how you do it. My misfortune extends into general cooking as well – I have a longstanding fear of chicken after all the times I’ve messed it up.

Now, this isn’t to say that I haven’t tried tried again over the years, because believe me I have. I find that I always get too experimental while baking, which requires being more exact, and too exact while cooking, which allows for being experimental.

Let’s quickly talk about the encore though because that certainly is something I excel in: I’ve been eating very well while here in West Cork. Georgie, my hostess, makes sure of that with whatever her berry crumble compote with homemade vanilla ice cream was last week (which I can confidently say I ate about half the pan of). And then there’s Fiona, the housekeeper here at Inish Beg, who (amongst many other kind things she does for me) has graciously invited me to family birthday gatherings with the headliners being her scrumptious cakes. If I didn’t know any better I’d say I’ve stepped right into the only child version of Hansel & Gretel.

This past weekend the Estate (Georgie & Fiona) was literally catering to a very large hen party and I had the extreme pleasure of being allowed to help out. Friday afternoon was spent preparing soup, main course, and dessert (though they call it “pudding” over here) for 26 hungry hens. While I helped with little bits and pieces of the main dishes, the two things I worked on in full were the loaves of Ciabatta bread and Parmesan Shortbread cookies (“biscuits”). Thankfully, Georgie & Fiona were constant fixtures in the kitchen so I was never lost for guidance. They’re seasoned professionals (are you having that???) in cooking and baking so many a word of wisdom was offered to a novice like me.

Throughout the afternoon I made a mental note of those little tips they told and showed me. While I’m confident that a few of them slipped through this flour-sifter-excuse-for-a-brain of mine, I hope you’re able to learn something useful from the list I’ve compiled here!


Check your ingredients before you start the cooking/mixing/baking/any preparation process. Seems pretty obvious, but I’ve messed this up with cereal before and that’s literally only two ingredients so I try to keep drilling it in and maybe you should too.

Pour the uncooked rice into the pot of boiling water, don’t pour the boiling water onto the pot of uncooked rice. This prevents the rice from sticking to the pan. However, you should also stir it to be on the sticking safe side because it can still happen. Not speaking from personal experience here, definitely not.

Clean your kitchen as you go. This was especially relevant given the amount of cooking we were doing throughout the day but in general I can see how nice it is to have everything tidied and put away when the fruit of your labor is ready to be enjoyed.

When a recipe calls for warm water, it means it should be on the border of just warm enough to not burn you when you put your fingers in it.

As you roll your dough, rotate it in a circle to keep it from sticking to the table. Assuming you already know to flour the surface you’re rolling on, put some flour on the rolling pin to keep it from sticking to that too. Also a little bit on your hands can’t hurt…

Pack your tablespoons.

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Oil everything when letting bread sit to rise. Similar to the whole flour concept, it’ll just make your life easier when you’re pulling it out of the bowl. Dough is incredibly sticky, who knew?

Save the foils from butter to use as an easy tool for greasing pans.

Give your bread a little tap on it’s underbelly when the bake time is up and if it sounds hollow, it’s done. The loaves we made were a bit thicker than the recipe had called for so Georgie turned them onto their backs for a few minutes to make sure the bottom cooked all the way through.

Fan ovens work best for baking. I’ve actually never even heard of a fan oven until I came over here. The circulation of the heat is really great for making your cakes and things bake evenly.

Egg whites are finished being whipped when you flip the bowl upside-down and they stay put. I had a mini heart attack watching Fiona test this one, I’ll be honest. Also as a side note, imagine how long it took to whip egg whites back in the pre-electric mixer days…

Taste test everything.


One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced is watching the loaves of bread, my loaves of bread if you will, come out of the oven all goldened and ready to eat. It’s one thing to dump a box of mix into a bread maker; it’s a whole other thing to work in all the individual ingredients and watch it rise before coming to fruition in a good old fashioned oven.

These tips have certainly helped inspire me to feel more confident, but I can’t say I’ll be hosting any 5-course dinners at my place in the near future. It was so much fun to watch and learn from two incredibly talented women such as Georgie & Fiona and I got a lot out of the experience.

But my favorite thing of all that I learned about cooking and baking?

It’s as easy as bread & biscuits.

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23 Thoughts On Turning 23

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I started working on this list a month or so ago, jotting down thoughts whenever they struck me of what I wanted the coming year to be like. Most are silly, some are serious – coincidentally how I would also describe the LinkedIn “photo shoot” outtakes I’ve included here. Realized it’s fun to document these things, especially for the sake of looking back a few years from now to see the changes.

Thanks for having me, 23. I’m super excited to be here.


1) Stop rounding up your age before you get there. You’ve got all of next year to be that old.

2) Eat more potatoes.

3) Eat less chocolate.

4) Always give your little brother a hug when you come home.

5) Keep poison out of your heart.

6) Another year gone by, another every-Sandra-Bullock-movie-marathon gone undone. JUST DO IT.

7) Hydrate.

8) Don’t force it.

9) Tell your friends that you’re proud of them because you are.

10) Have courage & be kind.

11) Crush that new job.

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12) Stop assuming the worst – sometimes the friendly stranger is just a friendly stranger.

13) Remember to miss the snow every once in a while.

14) Make yourself laugh every. single. day. (you’re very good at this, shouldn’t be a problem)

15) Follow those gut feeling first instincts. Instead of not doing that and immediately regretting it 99.87% of the time.

16) Don’t pet the sweaty things.

17) Never give a half-hearted hug. Bear or bust.

18) Surround yourself with more plants, they make you very happy. Just try to stop naming them, cause then they make you sad when they inevitably die.

19) Ask people to tell you their stories.

20) Learn some natural remedies.

21) Be prepared to lose arguments and practice taking it graciously.

22) Bite to ten. Your heart will feel happier after not saying what your flip-switch temper wants you to.

23) This is the year… to listen to more Incubus. (2009’s “Monuments & Melodies” – ENOUGH SAID)

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Learn a Book! – 20[16k]

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“Seize the moments of happiness, make them love you, fall in love yourself! That is the only real thing in this world – the rest is all nonsense.” – Leo Tolstoy

For those of you who followed along with last year, learning some books was quite an accomplishment. In 2015 I read 30 books and racked up almost 12,000 pages. This year, rather than upping the same old ante again by tacking on a few more books to the total, I decided to shift the challenge over to those page counts. It’s something I track anyways, so why not make it the focus this go-around?

20[16k] pages. Let’s do this.


  1. “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer [461 pgs]
  2. “Cress” by Marissa Meyer [550 pgs]
  3. “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh [308 pgs]
  4. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater [408 pgs]
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee [323 pgs]
  6. “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt [139 pgs]
  7. “Dr. Franklin’s Island” by Ann Halam [245 pgs]
  8. “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss [662 pgs]
  9. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë [524 pgs]
  10. “Skibbereen: The Famine Story” by Terri Kearney & Philip O’Regan [84 pgs]
  11. “The Trial” by Franz Kafka [210 pgs]
  12. “Dubliners” by James Joyce [192 pgs]
  13. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë [326 pgs]
  14. “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” by Thomas Hardy [464 pgs]
  15. “Memoirs of a Mangy Lover” by Groucho Marx [224 pgs]
  16. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows [240 pgs]
  17. “The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater [437 pgs]
  18. “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff [94 pgs]
  19. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews [295 pgs]
  20. “Blue Lily, Lily Blue” by Maggie Stiefvater [391 pgs]
  21. “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George [370 pgs]
  22. “Lights Out Till Dawn” by Dee Williams [341 pgs]
  23. “Opening Belle” by Maureen Sherry [352 pgs]
  24. “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis [270 pgs]
  25. “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss [1,000 pgs]
  26. “hush, hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick [391 pgs]
  27. “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides [406 pgs]
  28. “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway [127 pgs]
  29. “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard [383 pgs]
  30. ** “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton [180 pgs]
  31. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut [215 pgs]
  32. “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee [278 pgs]
  33. “The Last Star” by Rick Yancey [338 pgs]
  34. “Ghost Fleet” by P.W. Singer and August Cole [379 pgs]
  35. “Rapture” by Lauren Kate [466 pgs]
  36. “Northanger Abbey” by Val McDermid [343 pgs]
  37. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne [308 pgs]
  38. “Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir” by Alan Cumming [282 pgs]
  39. “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King [251 pgs]
  40. “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley [482 pgs]
  41. “Diary of an Oxygen Thief” by anonymous [151 pgs]
  42. ** “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman [286 pgs]
  43. “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller [143 pgs]
  44. “Between Two Thorns” by Emma Newman [327 pgs]
  45. “The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide” by Stephenie Meyer [543 pgs]
  46. “As Old As Time” by Liz Braswell [484 pgs]
  47. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by JK Rowling [309 pgs]
  48. “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by JK Rowling  [341 pgs]

Total Pages: 16,323


Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.

** This signifies an absolute must read, irrespective of genre or author or any other segregating factor. I consider it the top recommendation I could ever give to a book – so definitely go pick up a copy right this instant.

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.

 

Forewarn the Madness: A Look Back @ 2015

Mid-December. The point in time where we, as a collective society, begin drafting up our resolutions for the coming new year. Oftentimes they’re about the things we didn’t do, the aspirations, the lifestyle changes. Some might say that making that list is easy. “1) Get a 6-pack. 2) Visit Peru. 3) Call my mom once a week.” But it’s the big ticket items we have a harder time coming up with, if we even think to focus on them at all. How many times have you thought: “You know, I just want to be a nicer person next year.”

The world around us is tumultuous, to say the very least, and I’m not going to go into any more detail than that because we’re all very aware of the lives we get to look forward to living. This year, I’m all about the planning. Something tells me that the next twelve months are going to be even more of a whirl than the last twelve and I want to be prepared! I want to forewarn the madness. It’s not always about “new year, new me.” In fact, we wouldn’t even be able to figure out who we want that “me” to become without the subconscious assistance of all the things we just went through.

So rather than a list of resolutions for next year, I’m going to reflect back on the things that happened to me throughout this one: the wonderful and the most painstakingly terrible. Not in any way comprehensive, but just a quick brainstorm of the major impacts. Then, let’s see if they can can help me find 2016’s big ticket.


The Worst

  • Lost my raison d’etre, my main man, the core of my life in October and it’s been hard but I keep on moving cause I know that he’d expect nothing less.

The Best

  • Survived an entire year living by myself
  • Made it to the age of 22 without a single… okay, with minimal scratches
  • Walked a marathon

My lifetime bucket list included running the Boston Marathon but the older I get the more I realize that I just hate running. In September my mother lost her friend, coworker, and Just Wings team captain Vicki to the battle against cancer so I agreed to do the entirety of the Jimmy Fund Walk with her. The Walk follows the same route as the Boston Marathon and wow – this was easily the most mentally and physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’m a huge fan of walking, I prefer it to any other method of transportation (driving around in the summertime with a frappuccino not included), but this was tough.

So proud of myself for making it 26.2 miles, but more importantly I’m proud of my mom for her own physical endurance and for inspiring me to get to that finish line for us. Andddddd I’ll never do that again. See you at the 3-mile marker next year, Mom!

  • Studied abroad at the University of Cambridge

The thing that made this experience so powerful for me was that it was the first time I got to study something I love. It’s a sad reality that this must be what life is like for people who picked passion over practicality. I won’t go into my time abroad too much, but you can read all about it in past posts.

  • Got a “real job” in the Spring, which made going through the Fall semester a lot more relaxing without that added stress. I’ll be moving to Charlotte, NC next year so Welcome To Adulthood, Cass!
  • Took the creative plunge and shared this blog with the world. Still amazed anyone cares to read it.
  • Went to see Cinderella in theaters four times this year (it really affected me, what can I say?) and the message is still stuck with me to promote to you now: Have courage and be kind.
  • Completed my undergraduate degree

W H A T ? ? ? Absolutely reeling from the fact that my college experience is over. Bittersweet doesn’t seem like a strong enough adjective to encompass the feeling of knowing that these past 4.5 years flew by and yet there are still so many years of adventure ahead of me.

  • Met wonderful, incredible people in wonderful, incredible places. Some at home, some abroad, all who made the biggest impact on me as a person. Thank you for making me lucky enough to call you a friend.

First – this exercise has made me realize how fortunate I am to have a dozen good things and only one bad. Granted, the one is worth more than the dozen all pooled together but still. In short, what a year.

Second – I found my big ticket, my focus! 2016 will be a year of showing people that I love them, be it new friends or old friends or family or strangers. Never feeling embarrassed or hesitating to say it to a best friend or a little cousin. Love is not allocated on a per group basis; it’s a different strand for every individual being out there. We feel it in lots of different ways, but how often do we communicate that?

A big example of one of those ways (which I like to stress a lot) is self-love. That concept is something I feel very privileged to have in my life. Not a day goes by where I don’t count myself lucky for being happy with the things I’ve done and the person I’ve become. This is not a sentiment meant to be gloating, but rather sanguine. And so my hope is for everyone else in the world to realize their own rarities and achieve that kind of happiness as well; to live lives so abundantly full of wonderful experiences. Anything I can do to help others feel happy and loved, that’s what I’ll resolve to do in 2016.

A friend sent me an article the other day that really contextualized the importance of time, or rather the importance of being aware of time. We don’t get enough of it, do we? Just another reason not to waste the opportunities to make a person feel that they’ve got someone out there rooting for them, proud of them, and loving them.

So congratulate yourself on all the things you overcame this year and pick your big ticket focus for the next one. If you want to stick with calling your mom once a week, I guess that’s okay too.

My Senior Semester Beantown Bucket List [@BostonMA]

The Ell Hall Husky

I’ve spent the last 4+ years of my life working towards one of those diploma things and now I’m left with mere months until this undergraduate life is all over and done with. Technically my graduation date is in 2016, but technically I’m actually finished with school at the end of 2015. So I’m gonna do like any true senior would and choose the gimmicky one with the smallest amount of effort – here’s a list of 15 things I want to do in Boston before I leave Northeastern!

  1. Finally try something from Chicken Lou’s: Famous eatery on campus that I’ve never actually eaten at before, though I could pick out the smell of their fresh fried chicken from 10 miles away. Or at least from Richards Hall.
  2. Go to an ImprovBoston show: Improv is one of those things that is either so fun to go to because it’s so good or so fun to go to because it’s so bad. I’m leaning towards checking out a student showcase, but I wouldn’t mind The People’s Show either.
  3. Share a meal with Shillman Cat: Did it! First meal back at school consisted of a burrito and a one-sided conversation with NU’s favorite cat statue. Not sure why I wanted to do this, but at least I’ve accomplished something here.
  4. Crawl to bars with El Tour: These seem to be a popular activity amongst the young’uns. I guess that makes sense since they started as Northeastern house party crawls. I’d like to go Drink to Fall but I’ll be off adventuring elsewhere so Christmastime Crawl, anyone?
  5. A finals week Nose Rub: Everyone is told about the mystical tradition of rubbing the Ell Hall Husky’s nose for luck before finals week but I’ve never actually done it. I’m asking you all to skip this year cause I’m gonna need to take all the luck I can get on my way out of here.
  6. Last Supper in Stetson East: I was able to survive my entire first year of college on little more than chocolate fro-yo with marshmallows and french fries with mashed potatoes. I definitely won’t sob real almost-adult tears upon that revisit.
  7. Have a cup of coffee at the end of every Green Line: A lot of students become acquainted with the MBTA and the Green Line is where I’ve spent most of my time over the past few years. I felt I should give it a proper send-off a la riding it all the way to the last stop on each branch for some yummy hot beverages.
  8. Sit in on that cool music class: MUSC 1111 is apparently the technical term for it. BUT unfortunately for me, ‘Rock Music’ is not being offered this semester so I’ve gotta go for the next best thing: MUSC 1112 aka ‘Jazz.’ So many people have taken one or the other of these 500-person classes throughout the years and I’ve never had space to be one of the cool kids. So, I decided screw it – I’m gonna crash a lecture anyways.
  9. Go to The Sinclair again: My favorite concert venue in Boston (technically Cambridge). I’d love to go boot-stomping and beer-drinking just one more time, especially when they’ve got Wormtown ‘Be Hoppy’ on draught. Point me in the direction of the bluegrass!
  10. See a Harvard Football game: I absolutely adore college football, but silly me picked a school without a team. Given that watching a game in person will also be a first for me, I figured what better place to do that than in the oldest collegiate stadium in the country?
  11. Tour Jack’s Abbey Brewery: Massachusetts is home to a lot of breweries and I’d like to take advantage of that. Did you know I like beer? Is that evident? Have I mentioned it only 1500 times in the past few posts? Because, I like beer.
  12. FINALLY visit the MFA: Now this one is downright unacceptable. Not only have I lived literally right across the street from this place for years, but my school ID gets me in for free! And I’ve never gone! There is a pretty cool looking Herb Ritts exhibit calling my name.
  13. Have a people-watching brunch on Newbury: I better hurry up and do this one soon while the weather holds up. Every time I stroll down this famous Boston street, I’m supremely jealous of the friends having brunch and gossiping on outdoor patios. Which of you wants to share a pitcher of bellinis with me one of these Sundays?
  14. Attend the Boston Common Tree Lighting: Okay, okay, so I’ve been to this before too… But that was freshman year and its one of my favorite memories! I adored it! Christmas in Boston is one of the most magical things you can experience and I just want to drink some hot cocoa, listen to carols, ring a few bells, and jig my way home down Comm Ave.
  15. ACTUALLY GRADUATE!

Honorary Suggmentions

Let me tell you, I put very minimal effort into thinking about this list. So if there is something you think I absolutely have to do as a college senior or as a Bostonian then please PLEASE suggest / mention it! Note: stay away from the typical big tourist things. Yes, we’ve all Freedom Trailed our way to the North End after one too many Sam Adams down in Southie on St. Patrick’s Day. I hate cannolis.

Learn a Book! – 30 in 2015

Pembroke Library

Pembroke Library

Remember the good ol’ elementary school days where you had to read 25 books over the course of a school year? Which was a big freaking deal? Well, now I’m an “adult” (by law, not by choice) and it feels like reading 25 books in a year is still a big freaking deal! In 2014, my goal was to meet that elementary school standard again and let me tell you, I struggled.

This year, I’ve upped the ante to 30 books and, in an effort to hold myself accountable, I’m sharing that list with you! (Disclaimer: you can judge me all you want for my choices in Young Adult Fantasy books but I am going to once again refer you to my This Is Me page and consequently tell you to go stuff it…)

Bolded books come recommended by yours truly. Please do reach out if you want to know why.


  1. “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell [624 pgs]
  2. “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro [245 pgs]
  3. “One Direction: Who We Are” by One Direction (lmfao, I know, okay? I know.) [350 pgs]
  4. “Torment” by Lauren Kate [452 pgs]
  5. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens [466 pgs]
  6. “Practical Magic” by Alice Hoffman [286 pgs]
  7. “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol [312 pgs]
  8. “Etta and Otto and Russell and James” by Emma Hooper [277 pgs]
  9. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith [319 pgs]
  10. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen [249 pgs]
  11. “Charm” by Sarah Pinborough [187 pgs]
  12. “The Mime Order” by Samantha Shannon [501 pgs]
  13. “Half Bad” by Sally Green [394 pgs]
  14. “Grey” by E.L. James [559 pgs]
  15. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen [251 pgs]
  16. “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen [335 pgs]
  17. “On The Beach” by Nevil Shute [312 pgs]
  18. “Wyrd Sisters” by Terry Pratchett [297 pgs]
  19. “Honeymoon” by Amy Jenkins [297 pgs]
  20. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer (I read this saga every year, ya dig?) [498 pgs]
  21. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury [165 pgs]
  22. “1984” by George Orwell [297 pgs]
  23. “Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol [292 pgs]
  24. “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse [248 pgs]
  25. “The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling [503 pgs]
  26. “Passion” by Lauren Kate [420 pgs]
  27. “Life and Death” by Stephenie Meyer [387 pgs]
  28. “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer [387 pgs]
  29. “New Moon” by Stephenie Meyer [563 pgs]
  30. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy [1,224 pgs]

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads as well. I don’t write reviews, I seldom remember to rank the stars, and you won’t see a status update from me until the book is moved from “Want to Read” to “Read.” So… enjoy that.