Guess who?

...just blocked facebook (the nerve!)?

...actually manages to out-drink me?
(note: we're talking about coffee here, people)

...is taking video games to a whole new (smelly) level?

...invented a cool car--and, at least in my humble, and more-than-slightly-addicted opinion, an even cooler one (unless this depletes my supply, in which case, STEP AWAY)

...may be returning to the big screen (?!)

(ten points if you can identify this little sass-a-frass)

note #1: Sorry I keep messing up my link-age.
note #2: No, that is not my brother. Yeesh.



Dear Kansas City,

Allow me to introduce myself.

I like this and this and never miss an episode of this. I over-use this and this and tend to get completely freaked out by these. When I get really excited I talk LIKE THIS...but sometimes lately I feel a bit more like this. (I'm one of these, if that helps. And, okay fine, sometimes one of these too...)

I have been a resident of yours for a smidge more than a year now and I have to say, we sure got off to a rocky start. In fact, if I'm being honest, sometimes I hated your guts.

It's not that you did anything horrible to me, per se. It's just that in the overwhelming post-college transition, I found little comfort among your concrete walls and one-way streets and never-ending medians, for crying out loud.

My heart yearned for wide open spaces--and, what's more--a sense of belonging. And even though you are home to some of my very favorite people (bffs, if you will), I often felt, well, incredibly lonely.

Now, before you start thinking I'm one of these (incorrectly, I might add), I did enjoy a few* local gems right off the bat, and have since discovered even more reasons why people love you.

And so, KC, in the spirit of sunny skies and breezy days and an all-over sense of exhaling, I'd like to propose a little something:

This summer, between weddings and baby showers and going here and there (and learning to live apart from two of my very very favorite people), I'd like to start fresh.

Consider this a sort of handshake. A promise to give you a chance expectation- and judgement-free (or at least with a very concerted effort on my part). An opportunity to experience what you have to offer a girl like me. And what I have to offer you.

And maybe, someday, I will call you home.

In so many words, Kansas City, just show me whatcha got.

I will be anxiously awaiting your response.



(Oh...and if it's not too much to ask, could you please provide some really stellar fellow adventurers? Thanks a mil.)

*Okay, so QT isn't exclusively KC...but I just love it so much!



As many pump-it-up workout tunes to keep my feet moving and my motivation strong.

Because, confession: the other day, someone asked me if I was a jogger.

And I said yes.

Which, I know was a tad premature but I mean, close enough...right?

And I mean, I want it to be true...

It's just that sometimes things get in the way. Such as, thunderstorms. And True Life marathons. And mint chocolate chip ice cream.

(Please don't judge me.)

p.s. Note: This is not wanted in any way, shape or form. In case you were wondering.


The good life

Joy and woe are woven fine. -William Blake


For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been conducting one of the longest-running longitudinal studies of mental and physical well-being in history.

The study details 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s and periodically follows them throughout their life in an effort to "offer profound insight into the human condition" and examine the possibility of a formula for a "good life."

A journalist has recently gained first-time access to the study's archives and reported its fascinating findings here.

This in-depth article captured me--spellbound--through its case study vignettes and in-depth looks at the complexities of the human experience.

George Vaillant, the study's longtime director, focused primarily "not on how much or how little trouble these men met, but rather precisely how--and to what effect--they responded to that trouble"--including unconscious responses to pain, conflict, or uncertainty (dubbed by Vaillant and his team "adaptations") that either shape or distort a person's reality.

But most captivating to me was Vaillant's findings regarding the power of relationships. “It is social aptitude,” he writes, “not intellectual brilliance or parental social class, that leads to successful aging.” And later, "...the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

This is by no means an earth-shattering finding but I find it intrinsically hopeful. For how different our concerns would be in our day to day if we really believed this to be true.

Yet, Vaillant makes no qualms that this desire to live life in relation does not come without risk and in fact, may make our lives more uncomfortable than lives lived in insulated solitude:

"...positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones. One reason is that they’re future-oriented. Fear and sadness have immediate payoffs—protecting us from attack or attracting resources at times of distress. Gratitude and joy, over time, will yield better health and deeper connections—but in the short term actually put us at risk. That’s because, while negative emotions tend to be insulating, positive emotions expose us to the common elements of rejection and heartbreak."

Again, not exactly new news. But Vaillant's explanation that follows seemed full of fresh insight into the true risk of connection and ultimately, the underlying difficulty so many of us have with accepting love:

[Vaillant] told a story about one of his “prize” Grant Study men, a doctor and well-loved husband. “On his 70th birthday,” Vaillant said, “when he retired from the faculty of medicine, his wife got hold of his patient list and secretly wrote to many of his longest-running patients, ‘Would you write a letter of appreciation?’ And back came 100 single-spaced, desperately loving letters—often with pictures attached. And she put them in a lovely presentation box covered with Thai silk, and gave it to him.” Eight years later, Vaillant interviewed the man, who proudly pulled the box down from his shelf. “George, I don’t know what you’re going to make of this,” the man said, as he began to cry, “but I’ve never read it.”

"It’s very hard,” Vaillant said, “for most of us to tolerate being loved.”

So, struggle on, friends. It is worth it. And even though it hurts sometimes, don't let the panic bring you down.


Rhythm 'n' blues

Growing up, learning to play the piano was considered a necessary life skill.

It was right up there with mastering the art of swimming (or, according to Mom, you would inevitably end up stranded in the middle of the ocean after a doozy of a plane wreck and die) and learning to drive a stick-shift (or, according to Dad, you would inevitably end up stranded on the side of the road after a doozy of a car wreck as your best friend lies helplessly next to you and then, due to your ignorance, you would both die). But that probably goes without saying.

At any rate, when Mom decided my younger brother Brian and I were doomed to social ostracization if we were unable to tickle the ivory keys, there was little room for argument.

And so, each Tuesday, after downing my strawberry Nutri-Grain bar and root beer (half a can, for a whole can would cause cavities and make your teeth rot and then you would--you guessed it--die), I headed to Miss Sally's.

Miss Sally lived in a big house on a brick street in a quaint, quiet neighborhood. She had wild red hair that stuck out all over the place and a slightly shrill voice that, left by itself, would have been little cause for concern, but coupled with her leather-vested, mustache-donning, motorcycle-riding husband, who lumbered occasionally through the front door grumbling about the weather, and her two unruly daughters, who constantly flitted about the house shouting and squealing and generally causing quite the racket, her very presence put me immediately on edge (and if I am to be completely honest, left me constantly searching for clues about her mysterious secret life because clearly, Miss Sally was a prime candidate for a closet witch. Or vampire. Or something.).

At exactly 3:29 p.m. every Tuesday, I trudged up her long, winding sidewalk and begrudgingly entered the front parlor, crossing my fingers that Scary Surly Husband would be nowhere in sight.

"Hi, dear," Miss Sally chirped cheerily. "How are you? Did you practice this week?"

"Hi, Miss Sally," I responded politely. "I'm doing okay. Yes, I practiced. Although my fingers began cramping up mid-week so it really did hinder my practicing ability. Premature arthritis, you know," I said, wincing dramatically as I tenderly rubbed my palms together.

"That's nice, dear," Miss Sally replied. "Well, let's hear it then."

And off I would go. First the dreaded warm-ups--scales and chords and simple melodies. My fingers drifted through them slowly. I yawned.

Then came time to showcase the few pieces I had practiced for the week. It was here I would pause, attempting to stall a bit.

"Did you have a good weekend, Miss Sally?" I would ask sweetly. "How about that weather? I spent all Saturday outside playing, stopping only to reapply sunscreen. Skin cancer is no joke, you know. And don't worry, I didn't forget the tips of my ears. Do you use sunscreen, Miss Sally? Mom says that--"

"--Mmm, okay, dear," Miss Sally interjected. "Go on, then. Let's hear that music."

And I would clumsily plink-plink-PLUNK my way through a song, my fingers fervently searching for flawless melody.

"You must feel the music, dear," Miss Sally said. "Each phrase is a thought and each thought has a feeling. Feel it and the rest will come in time."

I feel like going home thankyouverymuch, I thought crossly to myself as I smiled and nodded along.

"Music is more than the notes. More than chords. More than scales. It is--GIRLS, IF YOU DO NOT STOP IT RIGHT NOW YOU WILL WISH YOU HAD!" Miss Sally suddenly shrieked as her daughters whooped and hollered through the halls.

Turning to me, her voice softened and she continued, "--Music is emotion and harmony and dissonance and--" she paused, her voice catching. "--It is humanity, dear."

"Now, try it again," Miss Sally said. "And this time, make me feel it!"

And so, ponytail bobbing, I started again.


As I got older, Miss Sally required I memorize pieces in preparation for our semi-annual recitals that always left my stomach a bundle of nerves and my palms a shaky, sweaty mess.

I only agreed to participate to such a manifestation of utter anxiety because of the all-you-could-eat cookie reception that followed. Obviously.

But the weeks that preceded the recital were always full of utter trepidation.

"You're trying too hard, dear," Miss Sally said one Tuesday as her husband bounded in the front door, swearing and tugging on the tips of his mustache.

"Don't worry so much about playing perfectly," she continued. "Play with heart. Feel each phrase. The rest will come in time."

And I
plink-plink-PLUNKed my way from pianissimo to forte and back again in search of a melody I could call my own.


A few days ago, home alone on a quiet spring afternoon, I found myself drawn to the family piano.

I dusted off the rickety bench and perched on the edge of the seat, gripped with a sudden urge to play something familiar. Something unchanging. Something that made me remember. Something that perhaps even let me forget.


As the first rich notes sounded, I found comfort in a song I had played so many times before. One I had first sung as a little girl then later memorized for Miss Sally's recital and eventually had become somehow ingrained within me.

The music ebbed and flowed when suddenly, about halfway through, my fingers froze and PLUNK! PLUNK! PLUNK!--an ugly, clanging chord hung heavy in the air.

I sat dumbfounded.

I forgot the music.

Helplessly, I combed my thoughts in search of something anything that would remind me what came next. I found nothing.

And just as I began to despair that the melody--my melody--was forever lost in the clanging chords that crashed around me, Miss Sally's voice echoed in my thoughts:

"Don't worry so much about playing perfectly. Play with heart. Feel each phrase. The rest will come in time."


I wonder if Brad Pitt will be their spokesperson...

My alma matter has made its way into the news these days due to a study that may not be super-scientific, but it sure caught my attention.

Geographers used scientific data to study the national distribution of the seven deadly sins (which, by the way, is sooo 1995), including an in-depth look at one state that is more known for vice than virtue.

How did they do it?

According to this article, statistics were calculated as follows:

Greed: by comparing average incomes with the total number of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line.

Envy: total number of thefts — robbery, burglary, larceny and stolen cars.

Wrath: total number of violent crimes — murder, assault and rape — reported to the FBI per capita.

Lust: number of sexually transmitted diseases — HIV, AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea — reported per capita.

Gluttony: number of fast food restaurants per capita.

Sloth: comparison of expenditures on arts, entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment.

Pride: aggregate of all data (combination of all data from the six other sins and averaged).

Check out the maps of their findings and the list of the top offenders here.

Uhh...so I guess that means K-State needs a new logo?


With Love On Almost-Mother's Day

Very sincerely,

and your-son-who-totally-was-fussier-let's-be-honest