2017 in Review

As my final blog entry of 2017, I’ve decided to create a Year in Review. Following my own review, I have included a fill in the blank for you, should you wish to copy and paste it into your own blog, Google doc, or into a journal. It was fun to sum up the year. Feel free to share your thoughts! 

Amandy’s 2017 in Review

Best film

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Because the title doesn’t say anything clear, I went into this one trusting Chas and a review he read and then reported back to me. Frances McDormand. Wow. This was a rare film in which I had no idea what would happen next. It is a delightfully unpredictable that makes you feel feelings. Had I not been so engrossed, it would have been neat to see my heart rate rise on my FitBit as the story unfolded.


Best book

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (which was not published this year but I read it this year). I’d been meaning to read this for a while. Coates is a son of Baltimore. He writes this book as a letter to his son (a grandson of Baltimore I guess). It’s essentially his life story strewn with lessons. His writing is painterly, honest, and so visual. I had a hard time putting this down. I’d be curious to speak to someone who isn’t from or familiar with Baltimore City to hear a different perspective on this book.

Between the World and Me

Best show

Chas and I have been watching for a few years but I just love John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. I know he’s not everyone’s fave. But we laugh OUT LOUD to the point that we worry what our neighbors think (something we consider quite often). Aub and Chris bought us tickets to see him on Monday in Baltimore! Eeks!

John Oliver

Favorite new friend I met 

Khadeja is a friend I met through AWE. She’s a 25 year old dynamo. She arrived to the US in January from Kabul. Without putting too much of her story out there without her permission, I will tell you that you’d love her too. She’s now in law school at the University of Dayton and visited us this Christmas and stayed with Cindy for a few nights. She’s brilliant, warm, lovely, and so inspiring. Plus we took her to the Helmand in Baltimore for dinner this summer and she weaseled us free appetizers! She fits right in!


Something I learned

French fries are actually Belgian. During WWII American soldiers found themselves in a French-speaking place eating fried potatoes. As Americans are wont to do, they assumed they were in France and called them French fries. The name stuck. But they were really in Belgium. (Now, you should know I got this information from Sophie who is featured in the next category.)

A time I selected not to enact revenge

When I rented an Air BnB in Brussels while sitting on my couch the week before our trip, I rented an entire apartment. But when our unique host Sophie greeted us, she was wearing a cell phone necklace, took several phone calls, and wasn’t quite done mopping the floor. Oh and she offhandedly mentioned that we would have a roommate from Japan named Chen. She showed us his profile on Air BnB and said that his guest reviews were high. “He likes baseball!” said Sophie, as if Americans are enamored with baseball fans worldwide. Chen was a nice guy but his room was through the apartment’s only bathroom. Need to bathe in the all-glass-walled shower? Make sure Chen’s in his room for at least 20 minutes. Gotta poop? Hope Chen doesn’t mind! On our last morning there, Sophie stormed into the apartment with a Colombian man holding two motorcycle helmets saying that they hadn’t yet gone to sleep. She asked if she could take a shower. “Ask Chen,” I thought. Initially I thought it’d be hard to go back home after such a great trip but Sophie solved that for me. I thought about writing a review to warn others of Sophie’s strangely imposed expectations but thought better of it. I basically wanted to write the description above in the AirBnB review page. But I decided to let her be. That said, if you’re in the market for a $40 per night apartment in Brussels, do email me first and I will tell you which one to avoid.

Something I thought I’d never do

Get on social media. But actually I really like Instagram. Now I need to learn how to limit it a little. It is pretty addicting which is the reason I didn’t want social media in the first place.

Athletic feats

I ran a few races this year, all enjoyable, all shockingly doable. In addition, our football team, The Secret of the Booze, won our championship in the spring. That said, my basketball team, The Light Blue Fly Girls, lost every single game–first time in 20 years of the league that a team has lost every game. Now that’s a feat. What up team?!

Best moment of humanity

In the spring Khadeja told me she had a friend who had just arrived from Afghanistan with two small children. They were escaping an abusive domestic situation, seeking asylum, and had to leave their previous home quickly. They had nothing. I posted this situation on NextDoor with a call for clothes. Within two weeks, I had over 20 bags of clothes from neighbors and friends (thanks, all!) for the woman and her daughters. I had to borrow my dad’s van in order to bring the items to her and to AWE. Thank you, society, for restoring my faith in our world.

Something I totally slipped in and I need to get better

Being on time! I can say to myself, “Wow I have an hour before I need to leave and nothing I need to do!” Next thing I know, I’ve got the vacuum out, a podcast pumping on my phone, and brownies in the oven. Help!

Something bad I have never stopped doing

I still bite my nails! What the heck?! Now I am 30 years old and chewing like a 7 year old. I know all of the science against it. The only thing that works for me are manicures. Oh well!

Where lots of my anger has gone

To the apartment people who park on our block. It just bothers me. Use your damn garage.

Something positive that has gotten out of control

My succulent garden. Call me Cindy Eby. I’ve got a whole kingdom. And I love them all.


Something I wish I had not done

Brought a glittered holiday product from Michael’s into our home. We may will never rid our house of gold glitter.


A goal for 2018

Chas and I are going to build A Little Free Library to put in our front yard. I hope to be finished and operational by the end of January. I wrote this one so that I can be accountable to all who read this.

Low points (in no particular order)

I lost my dear grandmother in 2017. I miss her constantly. Her priest said during her funeral that she taught us how to die. And although it was incredibly painful to sit vigil with her in the hospice for a month, Father Sal was right. She showed us how to reflect, pray, draw people together, share her thoughts, and then gracefully let go. She gripped her rosary for her entire month at Stella Maris. She gave advice. She said “I love you” thousands of times. Her death was the most difficult of my life and I know my mom and sister would say the same. If you ever need an angel to pray to, Mary Lou is most certainly available.

Both 2017 events of my allergy to fatty pork.

Everything done by the Trump administration.

Per usual, most things related to my car. In February a piece of machinery punctured an actual HOLE in the back passenger side. I also continue to have slow leaks in half of my tires. While these strange annoyances seem to seek me out, generally she’s a good little car!

High points (in no particular order)

Even though it happened after Gram’s funeral and wake, Aubrey and Chris told us about their/ her (I forget their preference) pregnancy. Auntie Amandy and Uncle Chas can’t wait to meet our niece-phew (they’re not finding out) in May. Gram’s birthday was May 1st so it feels very full circle.

At the start of 2017, I was in a pretty bad place. I was waking up at 11:30 p.m. three nights per week, only to lie in bed and ponder existence. I’d get out of bed at a normal hour and chug through my day on two hours of sleep. It was hideous. Over MLK weekend, I started going to Core Power Yoga. I was going to use the free two weeks and never go there again. Skip ahead to June, I began yoga teacher training with CPY. In September I earned my certificate, in October I passed my audition, and in November I started teaching yoga. I’m obsessed. Come to my class.

On January 21 with a group of incredible people, I attended the National Women’s March in Washington, D.C. If you were there, you understand. If you weren’t there, we either have different views, or you wish you were there.

I started a new job in August. As the Director of Scholar Development (a job I invented myself and a title Chas helped me create) I am able to help the “whole child.” I’m truly enjoying it. I feel less stressed, I don’t work on Sundays for the first time in 9 years, and the massive pay-cut is totally worth feeling like a human. Look at me, I’m a human!

This summer Chas and I went to Crete, Athens, Ghent, Bruges, Amsterdam, and Brussels. We sat on beaches, rode bikes, ate delicious things, drank wine from tin jugs, slept on two different house boats, hiked, swam, spent 48 hours on a sailing, napped everywhere, and lots more. It was among the best trips of my life.

Meeting, getting to know, and gawking at photos of my friends’ babies. It’s that time. My friends are giving birth. Shout outs to Teddy, Jaiden, Bodhi, Eli, Everett, Nella, Harry, and Cooper. They’re almost all boys for some reason.

In April I decided to return to writing. I began this blog. I have posted every Friday for 38 Fridays. I love writing it. I love when people read it. One of my best Christmas presents ever was a book Chas made at Staples of some of my blogs. He tried to include all of them but it would have been over 500 pages so it comprises some he really liked. Looking at the pages that I’d written makes me feel like I did something. Tingles.

Chas and Shar both spoke at The Stoop this month. Chas’s was planned, Shar’s was on the fly. I felt like the most proud wife and sister sitting in the audience soaking in their words. You can listen here.

Piper and Joe and videos of animals sent by Lauren and Aubrey. Also pet voice, Karen’s kittens, and taking care of Maggie.

There were a lot of high points this year but I sort of feel like I’m bragging so I will stop here.

It’s been a YEAR. Looking back I can’t actually believe everything that has happened, but really everything I have done. While the world and our country feel tumultuous, I feel like I have the reigns of my own life for the first time in a while. And being better myself can allow me to be better for others. What do you need from me? I’m here. Happy New Year.

❤ Amandy

2017 in Review

(Fill in the blanks)

Best movie


Best book


Best show


Favorite new friend I met


Something I learned


A time I selected not to enact revenge


Something I thought I’d never do


Athletic feats


Best moment of humanity


Something I totally slipped in and I need to get better


Something bad I have never stopped doing


Where lots of my anger has gone


Something positive that has gotten out of control


Something I wish I had not done


A goal for 2018


Low points


High points


You Just Have to Be There

Pending a successful fundraising push, four LMCJ scholars will go to Johannesburg, South Africa and Swaziland for a week over spring break. Having been to both places and being me, obviously I am pretty excited for them. This pieces derives from that excitement. 

Dear Young Ladies,

It’s me again. Ms. Eby. Always talking too much, doin’ too much. I’ve got more to say, got more things to do. Most importantly, we have places to go. How can I express to you the value of going somewhere new? How can I explain how much an opportunity like this will change your entire worldview, your whole perspective of your country, your limited yet honest understanding of Baltimore, your acceptance of the neighborhood you live in as “the way it is”? How on earth can I make you believe that this chance is worth every fiber of your being? That you should vibrate with anticipation for the next 4 months? That you will look at your mere existence with a critical eye when you come home? That your world will shatter and be glued back together even stronger in one fell swoop of a 747? That the most important thing you will learn is that your way, our way, the American way, is not the only way and the globe keeps spinning in places where they do not have a flusher, where they eat mush for breakfast, where they live in the shadows of trees called ceroxylon quindiuense, where they sleep on the floor with 8 family members in the same room, where they cook outside on a fire, where children chop off the heads of goats because that’s dinner tonight? That after 15 hour plane ride people still love Beyonce? And they know as much about American politics as Americans even if you never knew their country existed?

Girls, you must know that travel is expensive. But more importantly, it’s priceless. I’ve been to 18 countries in 30 years and even though I know how lucky I already am, I’d go to 18 more next year if I could. By learning about others, you learn to look inward and question and say things about yourself. You feel feelings for strangers you’ve never felt before: awe, empathy, admiration, a desire to just ask questions and really look them in the eyes when they answer. You will finally put down your stupid cell phone and you’ll be so glad. Because you’ll be present. You will smell things you’ve never smelled, some you never want to stop smelling and some you wish you never smelled. You will hear songs you’ve never heard, maybe in English, maybe not. And you will see ways of life you had not imagined could be.

I wish for you and for our whole society that we valued travel, real authentic walk the streets and talk with gestures and smiles travel, search for a spot with no other tourists travel, eat things you’re not sure of travel, find the highest point in the city travel, pretend you’re a native travel, afternoon-nap-required travel, wear down your shoe soles travel, find the tiniest, friendliest restaurant travel, realize how much you have in common travel, high fives for social justice travel. I wish we valued those things more than we valued new cell phones, more than we value TV, more than our little comfort zones. I wish I remembered this all of the time too. I’ll give it a go.


May you

Giggle at monkeys on the tip of Gibraltar with the promise of Northern Africa in the distance,

Learn how to say “thank you” in several languages,

Know the power that rain can have in the middle of a Colombian jungle,

Splash and play in the white-ish teal Pacific Ocean off the coast of El Salvador,

Feel the temperature drop by 40 degrees within an hour of hiking Yosemite,

Witness a marriage on a windy Mexican beach at sunset,

See the remnants of New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain from the ground and then from a peak,

Know the peace of a lake by an empty roadside in suburban Michigan in late summer,

Walk into the church where your great grandfather may have had his First Communion and feel something unexplainable,

Hear what absolutely nothing sounds like in the mountains of West Virginia,

Eat delicious, unidentifiable foods in the middle of the Indian Ocean after rushing to a restaurant that closes at 3:30 in the afternoon,

Sleep five nights in a row in hammocks using blankets with questionable origins,

Experience the vastness of a volcanic crater on Mount Etna,

See where a zebra’s stripes come to an end behind its tail,

Admit that you understand why people move to places like San Diego when you watch the sun descend over the Pacific with your cousin,

Watch the tide of the Indian Ocean rise from dry-land-nothing to really-something from the window of a $30 a night room,

See all angles of Paris from the roof of a department store,

Marvel at the same two seals for a half hour waiting for one to move more than just its fat face,

Be the only one in Orioles Orange at Fenway Park in Boston,

Breath deeply after 8 minutes of climbing outside Boulder, Colorado,

Sprint to chase down the last bus of the night out of Sperlonga to get back to Rome,

Wear touristy and American-give-away white sneakers as you walk Greek islands,

Pose for photos with boisterous men in kilts in Dublin,

Drink cider on a sunset safari in rural Swaziland while elephants graze yards away,

Ski the Alps of Switzerland–know their magnitude and at the same time the gentleness of their snow,

Count the tiles in Park Guell,

Pass up torture museums in Prague in favor of walking streets straight out of a Disney movie,

Look back and laugh at the cheap hostel you shouldn’t have chosen in London that was actually priced quite fairly because you were scared and it was terrifying,

Call a foreign city home, even if just for a few months,

Fall asleep to the constant coqui coqui coqui of frogs in El Yunque,

Marvel at the procession during Semana Sancta in Sevilla under the yellow glow of hoisted candles,

Polish off a fat book on a quiet beach where the elderly retire,

Barely catch any sleep in a rented tent on the island of Culebra at the crest of Playa Flamenco,

Sing along with an imperfectly translated church song in a tiny Swazi church,

Belt out “We hold you nothing, We hold you nothing, We hold you nothing,” beneath a tin roof with 40 new friends,

Vomit off the side of a boat after seeing four whales,

Pass the driving duties off to someone else who can figure out the road rules of another hemisphere so you can stare out the window,

Swim in Lake Huron in August and swear it’s January,

Ride bikes around Amsterdam and pretend like you understand the traffic patterns,

Get lost in the Arab neighborhood in Brussels only to stumble upon the most perfect tabouleh and fattoush,

Fail to capture the majesty of an old wind mill in a photograph,

May you wander,

May you stay safe,

May you say yes.


I know my words and images will fall short but that simply proves my points above: that you just have to be there. 


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30 for 30

I am less than two weeks away from my 30th birthday. In my line of work birthdays are a huge deal. For pre-teens, there is no better day. It can be the beginning of February, you can mention something that occurs next August and no less than three girls will scream, “That’s my birthday! My birthday is in August! Is this about my birthday? Cause that’s my birthday!” Before you know it those three are up and walking around the room basically handing out invitations to Hot Skates. I do not recall this hysteria but I have always lived in Jesus’s shadow with a birthday of December 27th and as always, to each her own. As I approach this milestone, I’m reviewing some of the life lessons I’ve learned in the past decade, or maybe over the past three. This feels a little similar to my blog self-evident truths but this feels like what I need to write right now. Also, doing this might be a little obvious but again, when you’re 30, you do what you want. Here’s my friend Steph’s own version from July.


1. a. Do not cut your own bangs. Leave that to the professionals like Karen Spence at East Bank Hair. 

  1. b. I am so lucky to have been raised by Nancy and Dick. They made us ride bikes in Baltimore City. Dad taught us how to fish. Mom did not call cuts “boo boos,” but rather “lacerations.” And although they’ll tell you they didn’t know what they were doing, they were the perfect parents. I imagine most of my circle of friends (I’ve really got some friends who are #blessed) know that their parents have been the perfect parents for them. For those who don’t have that, I’m so incredibly sorry. It’s not fair.
  2. Aubrey is by far the best gift my parents ever gave me. If you’ve ever witnessed how close we are, you’re nodding right now. A distant but legit second place gift from Nancy and Dick goes to Playstation (first generation) and the game Crash Bandicoot.
  3. Although cleaning is time-consuming and exhausting and never done, there’s a calmness that comes from an orderly environment.
  4. Although exercising is time-consuming and exhausting and never really done, there’s a calmness that comes from working out.
  5. Pets enhance life. RIP Nike and Duffy. Growing up with these incredible dogs as my brothers was a combination of the following: raucous, dander-filled, humorous, entertaining, full of love, hairy, messy, adorable, and it taught Aub and me about life and death.
  6. Say “I love you” even if you’re not sure if the other person will say it back. I spent at least a half-dozen years telling my grandfather “I love you” to which he’d reply “Thank you.” Eventually, he started saying it back, even though I knew it all along. I come from an “I love you” family and I will continue to impose that on the rest of the world. Hey you, I love you!
  7. It is futile to wait for a situation, relationship, or job to get better. Either change it or leave it.
  8. Be happy alone before you can be happy with someone else. I don’t need this one anymore because Chas is my forever but I remember seeking solace in another person’s company even though I was not actually interested in that person. That was unfair. You’ve got to be able to do you before you can do we.
  9. Tone is important. And it is completely lost in emails, texts, letters, and even blogs. If you have to say something important, say it.
  10. Less emails is always better than more emails. Words get lost when there are too many of them. Be concise to be effective.
  11. Being with friends = medicine.
  12. You get one set of teeth that actually look right inside your head. Take care of them. My gram was very proud of her 86-year-old full set. Chas’s 94-year-old Grandma Frieda loves to say “I got my feet and my teeth.” Dental hygiene deserves our attention and I am not just saying that because Aunt Mo is a dental hygienist. I love you, Aunt Mo.
  13. It’s okay to watch The Bachelor or whatever your trashy choice. Sometimes we just need mindless television to come back to normal. Life is just so real. The Bachelor is…some form of real. Put them together–you’ve got a well balanced life.
  14. Nature feels good. And I know that I am definitely a four seasons kind of girl.
  15. Yoga is pretty all inclusive. It’s meditative, fun, challenging, relaxing, toning, communal, and a lot more. Yoga improves lives.
  16. If you’re going back and forth between doing something and not doing something, it will be exactly 100% easier not to do it. But it will also be 100% less rewarding. Eat the peach.
  17. As an educator, you have to be able to hold conflicting facts to be true at the same time. You can’t help everyone. You can help everyone. One will make you feel normal, the other will make you feel crazy. Know them both to be true.
  18. Consignment shopping is environmentally friendly, affordable, and fun. Most of my clothes are consignment and I dress cute, right?! (See tank top and sweater combination above.)
  19. Travel is life-altering. The experiences you get while traveling, especially on a shoestring, are more worthy of your paychecks than nice cars, name brand throw pillows, and whatever new boot brand people are raving about these days.
  20. You can’t make a meal out of only crabs. You have to pad your stomach with bread, corn, and Natty Boh. Crabs are just too rich to be eaten alone.
  21. Live plants and even fake plants improve the look of a room.
  22. Western medicine is not the end all and be all. Acupuncture, yoga, energy work, essential oils have each enhanced my life in a myriad of ways.
  23. As above, our way is not the only way. And that applies to all of the “ours” in our lives.
  24. Most things in life are not one size fits all. These leggings that I want for Christmas are apparently one size fits all (HINT: CHAS). But most things are not. People deal with joy in different ways. People deal with tragedy in different ways. What works for you…works for you.
  25. It really pains me to admit this one but I’ll say it. Acne is not just a teenage problem.
  26. Money is not a reason to live, not a reason to do a job. Money should not count as your life’s goal or your life’s work.
  27. That said, often times “throwing money at a problem” is very effective, especially when traveling.
  28. Reading is literally all things. It’s a cop out when people say “I don’t like to read.” Reading is the entire world. Learn to like it.
  29. Always, always find a way to apologize for things. But don’t say “sorry” instead of “excuse me” or other things that do not require actual sorrow. Okay, Emily? Humbling yourself to apologize for things that matter to someone else or to you is always worth it.
  30. Family, whatever you conceive family to be, is important.

Honestly, I could keep going. Maybe I will do 30 more next week. Thanks for the idea, Uncle Michael. I wonder how many of these things I will still agree with when I’m 60. I can only hope the acne is gone by then.

Let It Go. (or just keep it in the junk drawer)

The junk drawer when I was growing up was always one of the most reliable places in my parents’ house. I knew exactly what I could find in there.

Rubberbands, a set of momma and baby orange-handled scissors that really cut things (you had to put these back after use), Mom’s yellow Skipper wallet from when she was a little girl, safety pins which were otherwise really hard to find, rubber jar lid grips that read “Vote for Ann Marie Doory,” birthday candles, a bottle opener shaped like a big-boobed mermaid hid in one of the back corners, maybe a quarter or two, and so many more treasures and items that fit no where else.

part0 4

Chas’s and my junk drawer is much larger than the one I had growing up but it holds more or less the same types of things. Things that fit nowhere else. Things that you just might need but you don’t want to leave out around the house. Junk? Maybe not. Would you call Sharpies in all colors, junk? Cards from friends, a tabletop football, batteries when you don’t know which ones are alive and which are dead? Maybe we should call it the Treasure Drawer instead of the Junk Drawer.


The trunk of my car is similar to the Treasure Drawer. Sure, the other night I had to leave a box the size of a fat toddler at Chas’s parents’ house to fit a wheelchair in the trunk for an outing with Grandma. But, who knows when you will need a pair of tennis rackets? A softball glove, a coat that looks like a paper bag, a container of grits (just kidding, that opened and spread all over the trunk months ago), a weird-looking wrench a mechanic left in there, a few notebooks, my mom’s reacher fleet I keep meaning to return, a pair of shorts? I could keep going but you get the idea. The trunk of my Corolla is also a treasure trove.


My parents–let’s call them “Holders-Onto.” My trunk–I get it from my momma. I remember being at Whiz Car Wash one day about 15 years ago with the contents of the Sentra’s trunk strewn about the blacktop while the Whiz men vacuumed the interior. Aub, Mom, and I stood there next to a full-trunk-sized-pile of a strange mix of items. The car washers snickered as we waited ready to put it all back when they finished.

In addition, my parents’ living room has more books than most elementary school libraries. I’m a reaction to them in many ways (not in the way of books). Everything gets put away. Everything has a spot. We don’t need it? It goes. Even if my definition of “need” is still a little loose. My last hold outs of being born to a set of Holders-Onto: the junk drawer and the trunk (drawer).

That whole set up is the physical manifestation of what I have been thinking about this week. What do we hold onto in our heads and hearts that we could let go of? Yoga intentions are often about letting go–it’s hard to not sound uber yoga-cliche with this one. I think this is because the types of people attracted to hot power yoga tend to be a little Type A. We may lean toward the controlling side. Some of us may be there to have more bodily control, more mental control, more spiritual control. Control, control, control. Yoga really lends itself to the reminder of let it go. So I’d like to be a little more specific. What are the grudges, negative feelings, judgements, and little bits of self hatred that we can release?

30 years from now

Remember this poster from every school ever? 

Our world is no joke. Not in this moment, not in the past few months, not in the past year. There are bigger fish to fry than the bits of ugliness we hold onto, whether they’re for ourselves or for other people.

The other night, Chas, Freida, Cindy, and I were trying to park near the Hippodrome. From the window of a cheese bus ahead of us a preteen girl gave me the middle finger several times. I processed and then my first reaction was revenge.

“Let’s park near that bus so I can talk to her chaperone and tell that person what the blonde girl in the back seat just did!” I thought about it for several minutes despite the fact that we were trying to safely deliver a 94 year old angel to see The Lion King one more time. I considered how to find out which group of kids she was in, where the adult was, and thought about what I’d say. Shivers. As soon as I sat down next to Freida, I forgot. Unintentionally, I let it go. But really, I should have anyway. Clearly the little brat wanted attention and disruption and that’s what I gave her. I gave her my attention and I let her disrupt our evening. Being ignored would be the opposite of what she wanted.

Letting go of negativity is not just healthy, it’s extremely freeing. With my kids, the best thing to do is start each day new. I hear some pretty nasty words sometimes. But other than reminding them that this is not how we treat people, what good is it if I give a high eyebrow and a smirk? Will the girl I heard say “Fuck Ms. Eby” on Monday learn from me treating her the way she’s already used to being treated by most adults? Absolutely not. So I try to let it go and start fresh. I am trying.

In this first-world-world, it might be easy to forget that there are people with real problems. No need to list them here. You’re familiar with the world, right? Or our country? Or Baltimore? My new motto at work is: “This shit is urgent.” My need to report a 12 year old who knows not what she does by giving the middle finger to an anonymous person–much less urgent.

I would be better off channeling my energy to actual problems, letting go of things that do not serve me, releasing negativity that only brings me down and doesn’t achieve the retaliation (if that’s what it is) I am maybe seeking anyway. I think one of my favorite things about life is that you can always get better at living it. One of my favorite Core Power teachers, Cory, says “We practice yoga not to get better at yoga. We practice yoga to get better at living.” Yoga aside, we can always get better at living and I just love that reminder. So that’s what is resonating with me this week. Let the little things go. Let the junk drawer be. Let the trunk continue to be so multi-purpose and a little embarrassing. There are other things that matter and ain’t nobody got time for the little things that only beget negativity and ugliness.

Buddha (or at the very least, alleged-to-be-Buddha-according-to-the-Internet) is going to close out this week.

“There are three solutions to every problem: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you can’t accept it, change it. If you can’t change it, leave it.” 

“You only lose what you cling to.” 

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” 

If it’s in your heart and it does not serve you, just let it go. And I will keep trying to do the same. Namaste, y’all.



A Recovering Stomach’s Commentary on Food

This week I learned that I am now allergic to bacon. No sympathy please. The thought of bacon at this moment absolutely repulses me. My belly’s fight with bacon has left my body scattered in several ways so I’ve got some pretty stray, random thoughts on food. And not just random thoughts, but also weird stomach-recovery-eating patterns. Last night I ate seven Samoas (now called Caramel deLights) in four minutes–thanks a LOT, Molly Davis. You Girl Scouts are really ruining us all. My only saving grace is that half a box would be 7.5 Samoas and I managed to stop at 7.


Starting off today with some good old fashioned hypocrisy (all the rage in the US these days). Photo by Dick Doran. Fruits grown by Dick Doran in Baltimore City. #nofilter #hedoesntknowwhatafilteris 

Photos of Food

Fine. Do your thing. Take your food photos. Post your food photos. Stare at them. Stroke your phone screen. Celebrate good times. Food is beautiful. Appreciate the food you have. Enjoy it. Savor it. Bless us oh Lord, right? But please, do not expect other people to care.

I’m glad that everyone on Instagram is being fed. But can we all agree that the food photos are a little out of control? Even typing this feels cliche. I found a New York Times article actually titled 11 Ways to Take a Better Food Photo on Instagram. Is this real life? Are these the things we are putting our effort into now?

I remember in first grade in 1993 being at the YMCA after school care program eating our daily serving of canned chocolate pudding or chopped pineapples from a vat. For some reason there was always a salt and pepper shaker set on the table in our room–usually these were just used for clandestine experiments. Brad Snyder leaned in one day, pointed to the photos of vegetables on the sides of the shakers, and casually said, “My dad took these pictures. He takes pictures of food.”

Well, I was still me, even if I was three feet tall, and I didn’t believe him. So when his mom came to pick him up, I asked her if it was true. Did Brad’s dad really take the photos on the sides of the salt and pepper shakers? Brad’s mom told me that his dad was actually a food photographer. Who knew? For years, I couldn’t look at that classic McCormick salt and pepper pair and not think of Brad’s dad whom I never met. Now, that everyone is a food photographer, I wonder what Brad’s dad is up to.

Salt and Pepper

This is absolutely the set I remember. What’s hilarious to me now is that these aren’t even photos. They’re drawings. 

Allergies and Aversions

Allergies and aversions are hotter than ever. And I say this as someone who is no longer eating fatty pork because it turns me into a blubbering baby. When I was younger, I have exactly one memory of a friend of mine being allergic to a food. I’ve mentioned this before. I was at my dad’s softball game, eating peanut M&Ms. I gave one to the kid with the bowl cut whom I played with and pretty soon an ambulance was there to pick him up. (He lived.) Other than bowl-cut-kid, I can’t think of another allergic friend.

Now the allergies and aversions abound. And I believe them. Well, most of them. They’re legit. But what did we do before? Just stuff our faces with everything and wait out a tolerance? Sounds terrifying.

Now we are so aware of what’s in our food that we can actually realize what’s wrong with it or make up what’s wrong with it.

In this episode of Portlandia, the main characters want to order chicken at a restaurant but before they do, they want to know what the chicken was fed. The waitress lists the chicken’s diet including sheep’s milk, soy, and hazelnuts. Fred Armisen asks if the hazelnuts are local. Carrie Brownstein asks how big the area is where the chickens are allowed to roam free. The waitress brings out a manila folder to show Colin’s portfolio (Colin is the name of the chicken they would be ordering). Armisen and Browstein leave the restaurant, go to Colin’s farm which is some sort of farming cult. They stay there for a while, both fall in love with the cult leader, and so on. It’s brilliant. But is it that far off? Well, yea, maybe. But let’s admit that the now-standard warning label on restaurant menus was not there 10 years ago. It’s progress though. People should be safe to be allergic. But I do pity the person who has to go around asking if the food contains sulphur dioxide.

Food Allergies

Can you even imagine the flatulence of a person who is allergic to sulphur dioxide having eaten sulphur dioxide? Also, what in the world is lupin?

American Cuisine

American cuisine was not always scallops wrapped in bacon (ah!). It was certainly not always combinations of Asian and French and fusion-runeth-over. I like this description of what we Americans are eating now: “’New American is the catchall term for any cuisine that defies categorization,’ according to Phil Vettel, the Chicago Tribune restaurant critic.” We aren’t sure what to call it though which makes sense if we’re not really sure what it is. Right? Wikipedia is confused too. Modern American, New American, Contemporary American, whatever they’re serving in upscale restaurants. What is this stuff?

During the Great Depression Americans needed cheap and filling foods. But rather than turn to the various immigrant communities who were trying to serve up their native foods which were not only cheap and filling, but also delicious, America did what it’s still doing. We said, “Down with the immigrants. They must assimilate.” And we churned out foods like milk corno, milk, chocolate pudding with milk, creamed carrots, vanilla corn starch pudding, mashed turnips, creamed cabbage, more milk. It was recommended at the time that children get a quart of milk per day because of the Depression-era necessities it contained. Maybe the cow industry was involved. These foods listed above are examples from a typical school lunch program. The school lunches were meant to give children nutrition and also to teach immigrant children how to eat like an American. Americans believed that the flavorful immigrant foods had too much taste and that bland foods were what we needed. Spicy foods were actually classified as “stimulants.” Because people would have wanted to eat more of the flavorful foods, bland was the way to go. It didn’t matter than the immigrant foods were cheap to make and just as, if not more nutritious, we had a war to fight and new Americans to assimilate.

One Depression-era salad included canned fruit, cream cheese, gelatin, and mayonnaise. Yum. Here’s another: canned corn beef, plain gelatin, canned peas, vinegar, and lemon juice. (Sources: http://freshairnpr.npr.libsynfusion.com/a-culinary-history-of-the-great-depression and https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27213074-a-square-meal.)

Vince Papa’s Dinner Menu

My maternal grandfather was in many ways a product of his time. The bland movement was a way of life for Vince. At my mom’s birthday a couple of weeks ago I listened in awe as my mom, Aunt Carol, and Uncle Michael rattled off the week’s menu. Grandpop demanded the same meal each week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. They all stood there agreeing “Oh yea and Wednesday was burnt meat night.” Burnt. Meat. Apparently my Gram had to put the meat right on the grates of the stovetop and burn the meat. Mom, Michael and Carol talked about how Grandpop didn’t allow pepper, peppers, onions, or even chicken. No chicken. This list is longer but I was too stunned to process it all. The thing is, Chas and I have been to the town that Grandpop’s family is from. Cefalu, Sicily has some of the best food I have ever had. Ever. Gelato served inside a brioche roll. Pasta all Norma. Arrancini Siciliani. Fish markets to make your eyes smile. Vegetables and fruits as bright as the Mediterranean waters nearby. I would post a photo here of some of these things but I didn’t take any. Kev?


What I do have from this trip are several photos like this.

Anyway, when little Nancy, Carol, and Michael went out into the wide world outside of Northway Drive, they couldn’t believe what they were missing. My aunt said that she moved to the beach with her friends when she was 18. Her friends said they wanted to make Sunday dinner. She did not recognize the roast beef. She couldn’t believe how flavorful roast beef could be. And this is not because my Gram was a bad cook. Quite the contrary. It’s because she was a good wife (of the time). And Grandpop got what Grandpop wanted.


Do not go to Iceland hungry. Unless your wallet is fat and your appetite is really weird. As much hiking, walking, exploring, and hot-bath-soaking as Chas and I did in Iceland, eating was much more of a chore. Because of Iceland’s remote location, it’s pretty difficult to get food there. After eating his and hers $20 bowls of creamed asparagus soup one night, we learned our lesson. From there on out, rather than turn to the packaged salted, dried cod which was omni-present, we went with car sandwiches and oatmeal. A car sandwich is a sandwich you make in your car. We splurged one night on an incredible seafood restaurant in Reykjavik and it was amazing but more kroner than we could spend on all the car sandwiches you could eat on all of The Snæfellsnes Peninsula.


Icelandic cuisine. #foodpic #thiswasanexpensiveorange 

Those Who Are Hungry

May I link my own blog? It’s not fair to write an entire entry about food and not mention that there are people who do not have enough. Renee Buettner whenever she saw a person hungry, poor, in a forsaken state would say, “There, but for the grace of God go I.” I always loved that Yoda-like phrase. Because I am straight up lucky to be able to write this piece about food. And there are definitely people in this city and this world where this playful little commentary wouldn’t be possible. So there, but for the grace of God go I, but no bacon, please.