Carved up some pumpkins

Tonight we carved pumpkins. One of us drew each design... but we each carved our own. It was fun. Why don't I do this each year?

This is my pumpkin.

This is the pumpkin my punkin wanted (from Toy Story, obviously). He got 2nd Runner Up! Good work, huz.


Gimme more of Baltimore

There's nothing like a new adventure during a season that has a tendency to scream of monotony and exhaustion. The daily rhythm of hotels, driving, traffic, school visits, fairs, interviews... it can get tiring. However, I have been in the DC area for about 5 days now and it's nothing short of amazing. 

Pause while I eat this (at Miss Shirley's in Baltimore): 

Whuf, that was delicious. I couldn't eat the whole thing. 

Now I'm in a coffee shop next door, trying to catch up on emails, interview notes, social media for the office. But really I'm just exhausted. So I'll take a little break to update you on my travels out East. Starting with my current location in Baltimore, where I've been since late last night and from where I'll depart late tonight. Here are the two schools I visited this morning:

Friends School is awesome. It is gorgeous - this is their upper school, but the whole campus has a pretty layout and is situated off a tree-lined city road. The people I met were lovely (and gave me coffee, bonus), so it was great to visit even without seeing students. And they even have their own community garden!

8:15 this morning: visited Bryn Mawr School, affiliated with THAT Bryn Mawr in PA. It's the oldest private girls school in the country. The history nerd in me was drooling and the admissions officer facade tried to keep it together. The campus was very collegiate, and though I met with one of the counselors and not any students, again - a great place to see. The photos aren't great but here are a few:

HISTORY! I'm in the middle of it out here. It's too much to handle.

Alright, enough fun and games. Work to do.


Bullet-points and notes on a friend

I'm currently on a 45 minute flight to
Milwaukee where I'll connect to a DC flight, and the sun is coming up:

So I thought it couldn't hurt to update the blog. A few thoughts:

1. Yesterday was my second day in the office in five weeks. It was more exhausting than I remember (it was also a visit day). This will be an adjustment in a week when the bulk of travel season is over. It turns out 8 straight hours of talking to people and being "on" is draining. Yet strangely addictive...

2. This morning I left the house at 5:30 am for a 6:50 am flight. Hooooboy, that was early. I doubt my half-asleep Matthew remembers driving me to the airport. He did manage to hug me and hand me a Luna bar, though. What a sweet one.

3. I'm going to DC today until Thursday. Months ago when I booked this flight to arrive a day early, my plan was simple: leave time for the National Museum of American History. When the shutdown happened, I hoped on a daily basis for the dummies in DC to come to an agreement to benefit us all. And duh, so I could visit the Smithsonian for the first time in 14 years. 

4. THE SMITHSONIAN deserves its own bullet-point. This place is where, as a 7-year-old visiting for the first time, I fell in love with American history. Because there, you can see it in front of you. I loved seeing objects, artifacts, and clothing from actual historical figures and events. I decided a dream job would be to work there as a grown-up. I'm not quite there yet... but who knows. I'm only 27. I did, however, keep that fascination alive when I went to college and discovered the major of American Studies. Reading about and analyzing not just events and dates but "dense facts" of what people and objects tell us...(a larger story for another post)...it led me to a larger awareness of this country, its culture, and my place in it. 

And notes on a friend:

Needless to say, I'll be thinking a lot about my dear professor, mentor, and friend Jim Farrell on this trip. As a first-year attending info sessions about different majors, I stumbled into Jim's presentation about American Studies. After talking with him, I was hooked. I went on to not only declare the major, but take four classes with Jim and work with him as my adviser and faculty supervisor for my independent research project. To say Jim's teaching style left an impact on my life forever is putting it mildly. He taught me how to learn. How to consider perspectives beyond what was in front of me. How to question everything but also to be present and content with simple things. I think about Jim almost daily, and most of the time on accident: when talking to students, when coming across an article I want to send to him, and wondering what he would have said about the mess in Washington. Jim passed away this summer after battling leukemia, and I still don't believe it. He should be in his book-filled office, walking the campus sidewalks with his signature long stride, discussing politics and sustainability and television and college culture with his students and colleagues. I'm not alone in thinking this - he is deeply missed on campus and by the thousands of students he taught. 

But what a wonderful legacy.

My favorite coffee shop in Kansas City

This is Hi Hat Coffee. This is as wide as it is, and where I sit is about as deep as it goes. I love it. It's one of the best stops I have in KC - and it's close to one of the schools I visit every year. If it's chilly outside, I sit at the tiny little ledge near the windows. Otherwise, outdoor seated patrons can sit and watch the traffic of State Line Road go by as they chat over their lattes.

As I sit in here, it strikes me that the two ladies working here know almost everyone who comes in. If they don't, they strike up a conversation. "Nice morning for a jog, right?" "That sweater looks so cozy." It's fun to watch the clientele because it is a mix of professionals on their way to work, older folks, or young people casually dressed (with no apparent job to report to). I like how it's 50 degrees yet here's a guy in shorts and flip flops. 

Here's a shot from the outside: 


Meet me in St. Louis. No, really.

I know, I made this look intentionally bleak. Kind of. My time in SoCal ended so gloriously, I'm in a little funk. I'll post some favorite photos later (you know I have a TON on my poor iPhone ... I don't even have room to upload iOS7). But for now, 5 minutes before my next HS visit, know I'm feeling sweaty (humidity!), alone (I'm in the suburban boonies of StL), and missing my Matthew something fierce. I know he has a new haircut and his own copy of Justin Timberlake's new release. Good thinking, Matt, because I bought my own. It's nice to listen to the same music when we're apart - kind of like seeing the same moon in the sky. In this case, a sexy crooner who we both have on our special lists. 


California, day 1, chapter two.

The schools I visited today were ridiculously beautiful. One of them was an oasis atop a hill overlooking Newport Beach, one of them a mini-Stanford, and the other a Mission-style expanse with mountains in the background. I chatted with a number of counselors, some who knew the college well and some who did not - but it's all in a day's work. 

School #1

School #2

School #3 

And now I'll visit a community based organization in downtown Santa Ana, which has already proven to be quite a contrast to the almost too-perfectly groomed coastal Orange County towns. I've never presented at such an organization, but I look forward to the welcome diversity in surroundings and audience. 

Another challenge this trip had presented so far: driving! Lots of it! Did you know southern CA is really spread out? And, according to the vista I had while traversing interstate 241 multiple times (aka learning how toll roads work) - it's not all densely populated. I saw a lot of rolling hills without so much as a water tower on them. After my CBO visit, I'll be driving to San Diego where I'll stay at a Hilton apparently near a premier golf course (Torrey Pines? Didn't ring a bell) (but it's not like I follow a lot of PGA action). Many scenery changes today.

It's hot, too. It must be near 90. And while my hair lays better in dry heat, my shiny face and sweaty back add a level of awkwardness I had hoped to outgrow in my 6th year on the job. Things I've improved upon? It may be minute, but I can navigate awesomely. I have also been blessed with the ability to find the last available free outlet in two Starbucks visits to keep my phone charging because without my phone... I'd be halfway to Oregon by now.

As Matt would say, that's all.