Trip Report: London

August 27-29, September 8

London was exactly like I imagined it would be — red buses, black cabs, grey clouds, gold E II R monograms. I spent the first three days of my trip doing hardcore touring around London before heading off to Dublin and Paris, and I returned to London for a long layover on the last night of my trip. It was a good transitional city; similar enough to the U.S. that I didn’t feel completely out of my depth, but different enough that it still felt European and a little bit adventurous. Continue reading

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Euro Trip.

In May, I came home to Raleigh to spend the summer teaching swim lessons, just like I’ve done for the past six years. Nothing new, nothing special. Now, it’s nearing the end of August and the fact that I actually graduated from college (and don’t get to go back) is sinking in. Pool season lasts for about three months, and during that time, I’ve taught an average of forty swim lessons a week. It’s time for a break!

In six days, I’ll be leaving for a two-week trip to London, Dublin, and Paris. College grads have been doing the celebratory Euro trip thing for a while now, but my vacation is going to be a little bit different. Continue reading

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Lindsay and Seventeen Magazine.

Let’s put a Notre Dame student on the cover of Seventeen Magazine!

Last fall, I wrote a story about Lindsay Brown. She was a member of the team that won the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer National Championship, she sold rainbow cupcakes to support girls’ education, she started the first girls’ soccer team in Nepal, she starred in a Notre Dame “What Would You Fight For?” commercial that aired on NBC during a football game, and she established her own non-profit called The SEGway Project. She also lived next-door to me during her freshman year.

Lindsay and the Kopila Valley School soccer team

Lindsay and I became friends when we had a class together the year before she went to Nepal. I followed her blog for the whole summer that she worked at the Kopila Valley School, and I was captivated by the stories she told. Lindsay marked her time in Nepal by the relationships she formed and the friendships she made. Her enthusiasm is infectious, as is her humility. When I interviewed Lindsay for the story I was working on for class, I found myself listening wide-eyed and open-jawed as she described her experience being recognized at the Google Zetigeist conference as one of ten Young Minds who were going to change the world. At Zeitgeist, Lindsay spent time networking with people like Cory Booker, Cindy McCain, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Richard Branson. Even though Lindsay missed class to attend the conference (and to speak at the Orange County Women in Sports Celebration with soccer player Julie Foudy), many of her peers are unaware of the incredible work that Lindsay is doing because she simply doesn’t talk about it.

But now, Lindsay is being recognized on a scale that’s hard to ignore. She’s one of five finalists for Seventeen Magazine’s “Pretty Amazing” contest. The winner will be on the October cover of Seventeen and will receive a $20,000 scholarship. Lindsay is spending the summer in Cambodia with an organization working to stop child sex trafficking, but Seventeen is flying her from Phnom Penh to New York City for a four day photo shoot in a few weeks. After a few days of pampering and press conferences, Lindsay will head back overseas to do the work she loves before starting her senior year of college.

Here’s the link to voting:

Here’s the link to a slideshow of some of Lindsay’s “Top 10 Amazing Life Moments:”

Please pass the links around and share Lindsay’s story and the story of the amazing girls she coaches.

Go vote, and go Irish!

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New Additions.

Commencement weekend has come and gone, and now I’m back home in North Carolina. I’ve added a few things to my life recently, the first of those things being a Notre Dame diploma!

I was fortunate to be surrounded by my friends and family on what was probably the last big deal, look-at-me kind of day I’ll have for a good long time. The weekend was sunny, warm, and (unsurprisingly) fantastically well choreographed by the university. Fr. Hesburgh came to the baccalaureate Mass on Saturday night and to the university commencement ceremony on Sunday morning, Haley Scott DeMaria surprised everyone with an inspiring and funny address, and nobody tripped while walking across the stage to shake hands with the Dean at the Arts & Letters diploma ceremony.

All of the big college and university programs were really well done, but the American Studies departmental reception was the most meaningful event of the weekend. The department is relatively small so there was plenty of opportunity for students, parents, and faculty to mingle. Everyone had lots of nice things to say and I even got an award – the Professor James Withey Award for Notable Achievement in Writing. Introducing my parents to my thesis advisor and some of my other favorite professors was the absolute highlight of the weekend. Mom and Dad later said the reception felt like “the final parent-teacher conference.”

After Commencement

Grads leaving Notre Dame Stadium

A few days after I returned home to NC, I added something (someone?) else to my post-grad life. A dog!


Teddy is a 4.5 year old golden retriever. He’s a retired show dog, and I adopted him from a breeder in Raleigh. He’ll come to live with me in Minneapolis once I move. His name was Bond before I adopted him, but I’ve since changed his name to Teddy in honor of Fr. Ted Hesburgh. I didn’t want to pick a name that was overtly Notre Dame-y, like Rudy or Domer or something like that, so I settled on Teddy as a more subtle ND reference. The dog is called Teddy most of the time, Ted for short, and Theodore when he’s in trouble.


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Final Finals.

Less than two weeks from today, I’ll have a diploma in my hand.

I’m ready.

This semester has been filled with exit surveys, departmental reflections, and senior questionnaires. At first, the exercises agitated me and made me anxious about life after graduation, but after thoughtfully working through so many similar surveys, I found that they really helped me articulate my experience at Notre Dame. Continue reading

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“I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in the South, but I got here as fast as I could.”

Since I’m probably going to be back home for a good long time after graduation, I want to take advantage of all the uniquely Southern things that North Carolina has to offer. I want to learn how to dance the Carolina Shag. I want to figure out how to roast a pig. And I want to get better at shooting guns. Continue reading

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Did, Doing, Will Do.

A thing I did in 2011…. TEDxMidwest

I went to the TEDxMidwest conference in October in Chicago and it was just the coolest thing. A whole day – and more – of “riveting talks by remarkable people” and I got to go for free! I was selected to be part of the ThinkChicago program as part of Chicago Ideas Week, so in addition to going to events at Threadless and Accenture and hobnobbing with folks from Groupon and Google, I got to spend a day at TEDx.

TEDx is a local version of the big TED conference, which is held annually in Long Beach, Cal. The four-day conference been described as “the ultimate brain spa,” which I can imagine is totally accurate, since I was so excited and curious after just one day in Chicago. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design, and the conference is based on short talks from a variety of disciplines, a diverse audience, and the opportunity to mingle, network, and share ideas with other attendees and speakers alike.

At TEDxMidwest, I got to hear talks by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway), John Hodgman (comedian and Daily Show correspondent), Alexis Ohanian (founder of Reddit), Wes Craven (director of “Nightmare on Elm Street”), Phil Zimbardo (psychologist who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment), and John Ondrasik (lead singer of Five for Fighting), among many others. And it was awesome. The full list of speakers is available on the TEDxMidwest website.

A thing I’m going to do in 2012… Listen to NPR

I went to a taping of NPR’s news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” this summer when I was living in Chicago. Each week, the show does a segment called “That’s Not My Job,” and the host Peter Sagal asks a famous or semi-famous person about something completely unrelated to their field of expertise. For the show I saw, the guest was former president Bill Clinton. Sagal asked him about My Little Ponies. Clinton called in and chatted for nearly 30 minutes before Sagal got around to asking about the ponies.

I met Sagal at TEDxMidwest in October and told him that I had been at the Clinton taping. “The producers were in my ear telling me to wrap it up because Clinton’s people were furious that the interview was running so long, but he just kept talking!” said Sagal. NPR clipped the interview for the Wait Wait broadcast, but the full interview is available online.

The rest of my family has listened to NPR for a good long time, but I’m just now getting on the bandwagon. I love to read magazines, and listening to NPR is pretty much like reading a great magazine piece without having to do the reading yourself. Instead, someone with a nice voice tells you a cool story and you get to learn things while driving to the grocery store or walking the dog. How’s that for multitasking? And then, after you’ve heard about a great new book or figured out what exactly is going on with the housing market, you can tell other people about it and sound plugged in to the world. Win-win-win.

A thing I want to do someday… Go to TED Global

The TED Global conference is held in Edinburgh, Scotland – my favorite city. I spent not quite 48 hours in Edinburgh in March 2011 and left my heart there. It just felt right. I think I connected to the city because I did Edinburgh on my own. At that point during my spring break, I was traveling with four boys who were eager to experience the Scottish nightlife. Since I was more curious about the cultural and historical aspects of the city, I got up early and spent my time there exploring solo. I loved it – as evidenced by my enthusiastic trip report.

The city has such a fantastic literary history and is home to an international book festival each August. Recently, a mystery artist left sculptures made of books in a number of bookstores around the city – read an NPR blog’s account of the saga of the library phantom.

Anyway, I’m planning on going back to Edinburgh during my travels this summer, but I don’t think I’ll be able to swing the $6,000 registration fee for TED Global at the end of June 2012. That particular trip will have to wait a few years.

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