Karma police.

What if there’s not enough happiness in the world to go around? What if it takes someone else starving for bliss for me to get my full ration?

I worry about this balance of good vibes whenever I receive bad news on a perfect day. I’m whistling down the sunny-side of the street, high on a fresh pay raise and the prospect of farmers market beignets, when a friend calls in tears over failed romance or a family feud.

Whenever I find harmony in my place here and now — embrace this quiet existence, find just the right level of connection with long-distance friends and across-the-office coworkers, commit to daily exercise and appreciation of sunsets — things seem to go terribly wrong for someone close to me. Breakups and breakdowns and minor car accidents derail friends and family while I float, slow motion, bathed in angelic light, through the scrum of tough living.

I know it will be my turn for disaster and dreariness next week or next month, but it kills me to think I could be sharing just a little bit of my current peace of mind with someone right now.

Please know I would if I could. I would bake peace into a plate of brownies for you and write it in the sky in butterflies and stars. Maybe if we each keep just a little bit of bliss in a safe, warm place — somewhere between the stomach and left kidney — there could enough to please the whole world.

If you’re in the mood for something incredibly sad but also incredibly inspiring, read the final column of Marina Keegan, a recent Yale journalism graduate who died in a car accident last week. And a previous piece that, even though I never met her, restores my faith in like-minded writers and people in general who strive to live with kindness and ambition.

Super-secret lady dance techniques.

My favorite thing about women is how we save each other from creepy, grope-y men on public dance floors. Feminist research papers could be written on the phenomenon.

It works like this: If one girl gets separated from the group and approached by an unsavory character, a phalanx of girls — friends, strangers, really anyone with breasts — will come to her aid by surrounding her in a Golden Protective Dance Circle. This defense tactic works the same way for drunk ex-boyfriends who just don’t get it. The lone lady simply employs an imploring, “get this one away from me” glance toward the nearest woman and the pride comes to her rescue.

It’s the coolest thing. Just thinking about it makes me want to go to a tattoo parlor and request protective-female-dance-circle tribal ink. And everyone in the circle is either Beyonce or Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Three-month rule.

I, an unabashed consumer of fashion blogs and slightly abashed follower of Target’s weekly ad, need to admit my serious spending problem. Right here, right now: I’m calling it quits. For three months. No new clothes or home décor or phone cases or impulse candy until August 29 (my 24th birthday, at which point I will become an adult who makes responsible financial decisions without the aid of a public, online declaration).

Admittedly, I made most summer purchases two months ago. That new swim suit for Mexico is packed and I have a closetful of wedding dresses to choose from — including the emerald green number pictured just below — for a couple of summer soirees. But as of right now, I’m saying no to the new shoes I thought I just might need to attend each of the nuptials. Or that random alphabet canvas print that has no place in my apartment but is just so perfect …

I find I fill a lot of my free time shopping, and when I shop I find I have zero willpower. Dropping in for bathroom cleaner quickly turns into a clothing safari. Whether it’s been two days or two weeks since my last indulgence, doesn’t matter — there’s always a new pair of patterned shorts looking for a good home.

I’ve gotten in the absolutely awful habit of buying new clothes when I think I have nothing to wear to the Saturday farmers market (because one must look super cute and fresh at 7:30 a.m. while perusing eggplants) or casual Friday, every Friday. Instead, I should be examining my vast, and quite cute already, clothing collection for different mixing options or classic picks.

Then, with the money I save, I can buy thoughtful birthday presents, plane tickets to visit A. and guidebooks for a 2013 New Orleans trip. And I will know just what to wear to Preservation Hall.

This is my summer declaration of independence from mountains of poor-quality clothes and scented candles shaped like owls. These things are not making me happy, and, in fact, the candles and credit card bills kind of give me a headache.


Thom Yorke can be creepy. I love Radiohead, but that little Cheshire Cat of a man starts bopping around with his pony-tail bouncing and I flashback to “Alice in Wonderland” nightmares when I was a kid (and there’s nothing scarier than waking up in a cold sweat after one of those and having to climb down the bunk-bed ladder into the unknown black to find the bathroom).

For some reason though, to me, this song is warm and comforting as can be. When TY croons, “I want to eat your art-i-choke heeeart…” you really feel the love and safety.

And the PJ Harvey song is just sexy.


This will be my Summer of Tiny Travels, starting with this weekend’s quick trip to St. Louis to celebrate my youngest sister’s high school graduation. Other goals for the coming months include:

  • Exploring Ames. And Kansas City. And Indianapolis. And northwest Iowa wineries. And lovely Knoxville.
  • Biking to work.
  • Creating a music-sharing club — headquartered in my apartment courtyard, no judgement, BYOB.
  • Camping
  • Photo documenting.
  • Eating fresh, colorful foods.
  • Writing.
  • Dancing.
  • Painting.
  • Rolling around with a dog or two.

Family tree.

Growing up in trees and streams and snow banks throughout the United States meant seeing grandparents and cousins only rarely. Twice a year visits became the norm — even harder to swing when I moved out of state after college – and though I wouldn’t trade that meandering childhood or this adopted city, it’s weekends like this one that keep me feeling grounded and loved.

We always manage to gather to celebrate life events, streaming in from Indiana and Minneapolis and Japan just to say, “Hey, my blood is your blood. I love you no matter what and no matter how long it’s been.”

So excited.

Two graduations, two house purchases, an out-of-state job offer and an engagement… My friends and family are kicking major-life-event ass this week and I’m so proud. You know who you are and you know this warrants a “Party in the USA” dance celebration in the near future, “butterflies fly away” sign language moves included. You are all kinds of amazing.



There will come a day when my natural introversion rebels against this journalism thing. On that day, I’ll either quietly implode, quit my job and embark on a career shelving musty books in the basement antiquities section of a Carnegie library or I’ll develop a gregarious alter personality* who excels at small talk and shouted conversations in loud bars.

* Watched all three seasons of United States of Tara last week. So good.