Adventures in and around Stirling!

Hello there!

It’s been two weeks since my last post, and in that time I’ve been having loads of adventures in and around Stirling, compliments of the GORGEOUS weather we’ve been having. It actually did not rain for one whole week.  In Scotland. No joke. No rain. This is not a drill.  Today is the first day in a good while I woke up to clouds and rain. Of course we’ve been taking advantage, so here’s a little recap of the things I’ve been getting up to!

On Friday the 11th, Nickie, Mary Kate, and I finally took a trip to Stirling Castle. It was the perfect day for it- sun, sun sun! We had a longish trek there because we definitely didn’t get off at the best bus stop, but it was a nice walk through the little hills below the castle.  Once we finally reached the castle, it was time for a few hours of exploring and lunch there, which was great.  The castle is gorgeous, and the views from it are equally gorgeous. There’s going to be a lot of the word ‘gorgeous’ in this post. Deal with it. Then look at pictures and agree. It was just great.

Our next adventure was Monday, when we took a trip to yet another castle, and perhaps you’ll recognize it. Doune Castle, just a few miles from us in the wee town of Doune, is the shooting location for Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and has recently been the location for the Outlander TV Series. Ni! It was another perfect day to explore, so Nickie, Mary Kate, and I hopped a bus to another bus to Doune, and had ourselves a grand ol time. We first had lunch at The Buttercup Cafe, a lovely little place where we ate on the patio and enjoyed some tunes and sandwiches. After that, we walked a ways to the castle, where we explored, snapped pictures, and most importantly, imitated the greats in Monty Python with some coconut horses of our own… videos can be found on Facebook. (: We wandered through Doune on our way back, and then stopped for coffee back in Stirling. It was just a perfect day, and again, great pictures!

The next wee adventure we had was actually on campus.  My creative writing professor, Liam Murray Bell, was having a book launch for his second novel, The Busker, so Nickie, Mary Kate, and I went over and checked it out. It was awesome, with some live music, book talk from Liam, and free wine. (: I got my book signed, and the message to accompany it pretty much made my day.

Made my day.

Made my day.


The next day, being Good Friday, meant no class for us. We decided to once again take advantage of the weather and make a trip to The Wallace Monument, AKA the giant, Lord of the Rings looking tower that is constantly in all pictures of Stirling. Nickie, Mary Kate, Gina, and I walked over and went up to the tippy top of the monument, after brief stops at the different historical exhibits on each level.  I’m sure you’ve heard of William Wallace via Mel Gibson’s historically inaccurate epic– it really is not accurate.  However, William Wallace was a national hero, and his story is actually way cooler than Mel Gibson made it out to be. It’s worth doing some reading!  We learned lots as we climbed the monument, but the best learning experience is seeing how ENORMOUS Wallace’s sword was.  His real sword, mind, not a replica reconstruction– the real deal. It’s incredibly tall and much taller than Nickie, as you’ll see. We lifted other swords meant to be replicas, much smaller than Wallace’s, and were floored by their weight, so I can’t even imagine how heavy Wallace’s is.  William Wallace had some major muscles, folks. Gorgeous pictures, of course!

The next day we took another adventure… up Dumyat, one of the Ochills located right behind campus! Nickie, Mary Kate, and I took a nice leisurely pace up the hill, stopping for lunch and several pictures. We had a great time and once again were treated to gorgeous weather. The pictures are all you need.

The next day we had an Easter gathering in our flat, with Gina taking the helm and making us chicken parm.  The rest of us contributed sides and easter baskets, and Liz even made us a cheesecake- no pictures of that, but know it was delicious and we all died of food coma after. That’s all for now, but look for more adventures here soon- The Edinburgh Trad Fest begins this weekend and we might be making a trip or two there!



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Oh hey it’s been almost a month sor-OH MY SO MANY THINGS

Well, This last month has flown by. I told you I’d attempt to update before break and then right when I got back, and obviously that didn’t happen, mostly due to sheer exhaustion when I wasn’t doing something super cool, which was nearly ALL THE TIME. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right down to it, eh?

First off, I survived midterm and turned in all three of my papers.  I’ve had two returned already and I did pretty dang great- talk about a confidence boost.  (: Hopefully the third will prove to be rewarding as well. (:

As soon as I had those papers in, it was off to Ireland!  I had lunch with Nickie and then hopped the bus for the train station, the train to Edinburgh, then the bus to the airport.  Transportation here is a long ordeal if you haven’t realized yet. Anyway, I got in to Cork pretty late, after 11, so it was straight to my hotel where I got some sleep. The next morning I took a bus over to Killarney and got my bike- pink, because the universe thought it was funny. The guy I rented from was super nice, and just to make sure the bike was alright, I took a spin through Killarney National Park.  I’ve been there before, so it was nice to have some familiarity to start off my solo journey!  It was great, and so I finished the evening exploring Killarney, popping into some pubs for some live music and even bumping into a group of American students.

The next morning, it was off to Dingle!  The ride in was incredibly tough, about 50 something miles through hilly country… but it was BEAUTIFUL. By the time I got in I was exhausted.  In Dingle I met my hosts, The Fitzgeralds, and settled in my flat at their sheep farm outside of town.  It was great!  While in Dingle for my two days, I explored the town, wrote, read, and had several conversations with perfect strangers, including an accordion lesson with some old pub guys, who were wonderful fun!  Dingle is still one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!

Then it was back to Killarney!  I spent the night the same way- exploring, reading, writing, and listening to some music, and getting a good rest.

The next day I headed for Kenmare, which is a gorgeous little town.  I had a quiet night in, and read and wrote some more- obviously I’m super exciting. (;  The next morning I set off early, and my hostess at the B&B was kind enough to pack up a little to-go box for me- they’re French and their B&B doubles as a patisserie… YUM.

That morning I set off early for Bantry, and that’s when tragedy struck, or rather, I was struck by a car. It was no big deal, I managed to avoid getting hit by leaping off my bike, but my bike was toast.  The 18ish year old kid didn’t stop, probably because he was terrified, but the little old lady behind me sure did, and she was not happy! After swearing up a storm about the kid, she let me use her phone and gave me and the bike a lift.  Dorothy, wherever you are, you are a saint. (:

In Bantry, I was picked up off the bus by Bill, who drove me to his farmhouse outside of town where I met his wife Brigid.  We all had some coffee and lovely conversation, then they took me on a drive so I could see a bit of the area and take some pictures. It was perfect.  Later, they dropped me back in town for dinner at a seafood restaurant, which was delicious.  After I caught a cab back and spent the rest of the night relaxing and reading.  Oh, and loving on their dogs!  I had to get some puppy love in- I miss Charlie and Luna like crazy!

The next morning I slept in with no where to ride, and had a lovely breakfast.  Then we were off, with Bill and Brigid dropping me at the bus stop on their way to lunch with friends.  They were wonderful hosts, and I will definitely have to stay with them again sometime- it was a gorgeous place too!

I took the bus to Clonakilty, where I would be meeting my hostess for the evening, Helen, that afternoon.  First I explored Clonakilty, which is a beautiful little town.  I got some lunch and poked around in shops, until meeting Helen in the afternoon.  She was great, and we had a chill night complete with frozen pizza and a fire, but we also took a walk down on one of the beaches.  There’s something about the sea in Ireland that’s just perfect. Helen has done a lot of travel, so we talked quite a bit about that.  The next morning, she made a wonderful breakfast and after we walked into town, where we parted- her for lunch with a friend, and me for some more exploring before catching the bus.

I caught the bus to Kinsale that afternoon, and checked into a nice little B&B up on the hill.  Kinsale was perfect as ever.  I wrote, read, explored, chatted with strangers, had incredible seafood, and took in some great music. I spent hours in the St. Multrose churchyard, creating stories and writing inspired by gravestones hundreds of years old.  It was a perfect two days to cap things off!

After my days were up there, I took the bus back to Cork, where I would fly out the next day.  Cork is a nice city, but really just another city. Being so tired, I really didn’t do much, but I did go see Captain America 2!  The next day it was back to Stirling via busses, plane, and train!

Here’s some of my pictures from Ireland- I really didn’t take many because I was just enjoying things so much!  Traveling alone is a wonderful experience and I can honestly say I have never written so much in such a short time. (:

When I got back, I was greeted with hugs from the flatmates, and soon Nickie and Mary Kate were over and we were rehashing our breaks over pizza. Nickie took a trip to Ireland as well, to see some family, and had a great time.  Mary Kate went to Spain to visit some friends, and while she had a good time, her trip was a bit rained on thanks to some pretty ridiculous sexism.  You can read about it here: We had a lot of discussion about it, and to be honest it really pissed me off and I am still not over it.  Ugh.  But I was so glad to be back with my friends- I really love these ladies and am currently freaking out that we have so little time left together! Yes, I’ve reached that point.  No longer am I getting homesick every once in a while.  I am now freaking out that I have to leave soon!  Ah!  Things are so wonderful here and all the people I’ve met are just incredible.  It doesn’t seem real that it’s April!  WHAT?!

Anyway, after a couple quick days of class including one very successful group presentation, it was off to another adventure… THE ISLE OF SKYE! IFSA-Butler, our program, whisked us away on a bus for an incredible weekend in the Highlands and on the Isle of Skye.  It was hands down the most beautiful place I have ever been.  We visited several historical and scenic sites, including Culloden, which was heartbreakingly eerie and beautiful.  We saw castles, mountains, the sea, rivers, waterfalls, and more.  We also got to see why exactly Skye is sometimes called the Isle of Mist… see all pictures below.  The weather wasn’t particularly great, and us Stirling ladies were definitely put off by the way some of our busmates from Glasgow were acting, but it was an incredible trip.  We stayed in a little hotel by the sea, found shells, and scared the daylights out of students from Edinburgh.  Again, I direct you  to Mary Kate’s blog because I don’t think I can type the story without peeing my pants laughing.  Just know that I am now a ghost. We got some great t-shirts from IFSA, which you can see in all the pictures below. I stuck my face in a river.  Laura and I were reunited once more and got to hang out for awhile, and to top everything else, GLEN COE. I stood where Hogwarts was. I stood where Skyfall was. And it was so freakin’ beautiful.  I can’t even explain it.  Just know that the pictures don’t even do it justice.  I’m not going to write a lot of detail or anything, because really, the pictures say more. It was beautiful, and my friends are great. The end.

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Now back to the real world of classes, not that six hours a week is really the real world.  Much love from Scotland. I promise to post again soon.  (:



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Time flies when you’re having fun… and then you forget to post…

Hey there!

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s been awhile, but you know how I am.  As the title says, time flies when you’re having fun, and then you kind of forget you should update folks at home about what it is you’re doing.  So, these last two weeks… here we go…

Well, we had our second spell of internet-death, in which the entire campus internet and phone system jumped off a cliff, making communication of any sort, or academic material of any sort, impossible… it was an interesting day of classes following it’s midday return.  Speaking of classes, they continue to be mostly great, or as I said on FaceTime last night with my family, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. (Cue Meatloaf singalong)  Children’s Lit is just plain fun, with great discussion for our once a week seminar. In Creative Writing, things are brilliant. Great discussion, great workshops, the whole deal. I’m actually getting to know my classmates and they apparently love hearing me read my work with my accent- yes, we have one apparently. (: Well… then there’s Writing and History with our dear friend Suzanne… the worst. I want to be a professor, so I can teach and work with students, getting to know them and constantly surrounding myself with learning. Suzanne probably didn’t want to, and still doesn’t want to be a professor… she wanted to be a scholar, which she is.  I can honestly say I have never met someone with less classroom enthusiasm, interest, or knowledge of how the hell you actually work with college students.  The material itself could be interesting, and I think parts of it are awesome, but she is so unbelievably uninspired to teach that seminar is near silent at times and lecture is repetitive.  Teachers say not to read off slides… but Suzanne hasn’t heard. She gives us all of our lecture notes ahead of time and then she reads off the slides for lecture, giving you this sort of ‘haven’t I seen this movie before’ feeling. Well, as I said, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad…

Other things.

Well, I spent some time with my flatmates, cooking and playing cards and generally just having a great time.  I’ve taught them all how to play gin rummy, to much hilarity and fun, and still to my victory alone. We’re having a pretty great time. Everyone is busy planning their Spring Breaks… which brings me to mine- I’m going biking in Ireland for break!  I’ve booked a flight, booked some B&B’s, and booked a bike.  I plan on using my pedal power to get around the Southern coast of Ireland for a week and a half for some writing, sightseeing, and self-discovery. I am so excited for this trip!  There will be so many pictures to share after!  I’m hoping this will be something that in 20,30, 40, 50 years I’ll be looking back on- one for the books, as it were. (;

I also have been enjoying Grey’s Anatomy spring pickup with Nickie- we watched the premiere Friday after it aired and squealed with delight. (:

I spent the weekend reading and such for class, until Monday, WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR THE HEAD AND THE HEART.

I got all dolled up and put on my new dress and Mary Kate, Nickie and I hopped on the train to Glasgow for the concert.  We had no train difficulties at all this time! (: We spent the ride chatting about the Oscars (Adele Dazeem, anyone!?) and when we arrived in Glasgow we grabbed some dinner before the show.  The venue was the Oran Mor in Glasgow’s West End, a former church made over into a cultural hub- including restaurants, bar, and concert venue.  It was gorgeous, but unfortunately we couldn’t get any great pictures due to the dark. BUT WE DID SEE A TARDIS ON THE STREET NEXT TO IT! It was a big deal, folks.  Anywho, we got to the concert a half hour after the doors had opened, but were lucky enough to nab a space right in front of the stage, next to a friendly single gentleman.  Now, Mary Kate and Nickie seemed to think this dude was creepy, but I thought he was nice. Seeing as we were going to be standing in close proximity for the next couple hours, including a half hour of downtime before the concert, he began chatting us up, nothing weird.  Being my father’s daughter and typical Midwest nice, I chatted with him for awhile.  He was nice, not creepy, and kindly moved a bit over at one point so we could see better- he was pretty tall.  If you want the ‘OMG HE WAS CREEPY’ account of this, see Mary Kate’s blog here- it’s Day 27.  She was pretty put off by him, but once again, I saw no problem, and he never came after us or anything.  Back to the concert. The opener was a young guy singing solo… and I was not a fan.  He was really awkward and quite whiny.  Mary Kate compares him to Bon Iver in her post, which is inaccurate because Bon Iver is actually brilliant… this dude was sad and whiny and never fully opened his eyes so I definitely took my time in the bathroom.   Once The Head and The Heart got on stage, it was all good times.  Not only were we right in front, the music was incredible.  The Head and The Heart are one of my favorite bands as is, but I was completely blown away by the live performance. I sing-shouted Rivers and Roads when they closed along with everyone else because we were all just STOKED at that point. Beautiful, toe-tapping, swaying in place, no shame dancing awesome. I loved it, and was slightly hoarse and slightly deaf for a few hours post-concert. If you ever get the chance, go.

After the concert we again hopped the train with no problems, and made it back to Stirling safe and sound!  I slept in waaaaay late on Tuesday after, but later that night finally watched Dallas Buyers Club with Rachel and Nickie…. and I must say, those Oscars were well-deserved. I finished up the night by making my sister a little birthday message video, which I sent to her promptly at midnight here!  Happy Birthday to Elli! (: After class on Wednesday, I made my way into Stirling for Ash Wednesday Mass, which included a 10 minute bus ride and a 20 minute walk.  It was actually quite pleasant, and mass was great.  The priest did have the most Scottish of accents I have yet encountered though, so I was quite glad I’m Catholic- all of the words are the same!

Thursday I had class, then stayed in and watched Calendar Girls.  Gotta love some Julie Walters and Helen Mirren. <3

Friday after lunch with Nickie, all seven of us hopped a bus for our IFSA-Butler adventure weekend in the STUNNING Argyll Forest.  All of the IFSA students in Scotland were invited, so our bus also picked up the students from Glasgow on our way.  We took a ferry across the water at one point, and then arrived at the Benmore Center for Outdoor Education, our home for the weekend. Benmore is essentially a giant mansion in the middle of a beautiful botanical garden in the middle of the incredible Argyll Forest in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland… so it was nice. (:  We settled in, along with the students from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews, but not before I was reunited with Laura!! Laura is another IFSA student studying at St. Andrews, but she is also a good pal of mine back at good ol’ Luther College!  There was a lot of hugging and babbling. We were pretty excited to see each other. We were assigned groups, had dinner, and then we had the option of night hike or movie… the whole delegation from Stirling and Laura chose movie.  (: We played cards and watched Rob Roy, and had a great time… we had to save our energy for the next day!  In the morning we got ready and reported downstairs for breakfast and groups- Rachel, Laura, and I were all in Group 10 with a few others, and our fabulous leader, Angela.  She was great, and made sure we were having fun all day long.  In the morning we went on a hike, about 4 miles to a place called Puck’s Glen, which was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen here so far… pictures below.  On the way we took pictures, chatted, and had hot chocolate on top of the world, and once in Puck’s Glen, I stood in a waterfall. Boom.  I also ran through a giant puddle, because why would you ever pass up an opportunity to run through a giant puddle?  Plus I was already soaked from the waterfall. Then we had lunch, some nice hot soup.  After it was kayaking, and karma came to call. We chose the pond because of the bad wind coming in, and I had said multiple times that falling in was unlikely because it’s a pond- I mean, we have kayaks, I’ve kayaked before, I have never fallen in unintentionally aside from the disaster of sea kayaking.  Guess who fell in almost immediately? Yep, me. (: It was definitely a ‘what goes around comes around moment’ but I had the sense to just laugh at myself and go with it.  It was pretty hilarious, and thankfully the water wasn’t too cold.  Angela and I also discovered that the small kayaks we were using in the pond were really too short for my legs to get completely in, so she and I teamed up and grabbed a canoe, which was just as fun, if not better. We played games, drank hot chocolate in our boats, learned Scottish insults from Angela, and had a great afternoon, which culminated when Laura, switching kayaks with someone else, fell in to the pond and joined me on Team Soaked. (: Thankfully, we were done after, and it was time for hot showers and tea and coffee back at Benmore.  After said showers and tea, we had some time to ourselves, then dinner, followed by a screening of Braveheart.  I think I was in the minority having already seen it, because the crowd reaction noises were plenty and hilarious.  After, it was bed.

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The next day we headed back on the ferry bound for Stirling, and had another nice shower upon return.  I did some laundry and then we all made a Tesco run for groceries.

I think it must have been the sudden shift from awesome weekend to back in the flat that set me off, combined with ahem, ‘good timing hormonally’, but I had some major homesickness Sunday night and Monday.  I’m having a blast, but man, do I miss a lot of things about home.  Family, friends, pets, Luther, Nevada, a lot of things. I went to sleep not feeling so hot and slept in yesterday, then tried to curb the blues.  I took a long shower, cleaned my room, and did some creative therapy. I drew myself some bears and then made a few other things for my wall.  After I talked to several of those wonderful people I miss- Skype with Keegan, Facebook chat with Britany and Steph, and FaceTime with my family, including the filthy dogs and probably pregnant cat. (: It helped a lot, and today was a much better day, especially because I made myself some French Toast for breakfast, just like Dad makes.  (: I can’t wait to give everyone a big hug when I get home!

Was feeling down, so I drew some bears.

Was feeling down, so I drew some bears.

Just like Dad makes.

Just like Dad makes.

Also, as I was chatting with my family, I realized I never really shared what my room looked like, so here are a few pictures to show you my tiny little room.  We have a living room and kitchen as well, and two bathrooms for the five of us, not pictured.  My room is maybe 10×6 or so and is quite cozy. (:

I’ll get one more post in before Ireland and Spring Break, and then hopefully once I get back from break right away!

Until next time, much love.



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96 days?!


What a week!  It feels like it’s been forever since we had ourselves a nice little update, and there has been lots going on!

First off, seeing as I have no exams, Mom and I have moved our tour of the UK up, so I will now be home May 31, in time for State Soccer!  That means I only have- you guessed it- 96 days left in this beautiful place! Woah!

That’s still aways away though, so let’s cover the ones I already have had, shall we?

After my last post I spent the night hanging out with my friends, who I continue to get to know better and enjoy more- you know me, I love people.  On Sunday a group of us went to see Wolf of Wall Street.  I went because I want to be prepared for The Oscars, and after three hours of bacchinalian debauchery, I wanted my money back. Sorry Leo, sorry Martin, sorry poor Jonah Hill who rocked out with it all out, that was a load. But hey, if hard drugs, nakedness, and total disrespect of women is your thing, go see it.  There is one scene in which a very high Leo tries to get into his car that I enjoyed… other than that… well…

Nonetheless, it was good time to be spent with friends.

And then… my birthday!

Birthday Selfie!

Birthday Selfie!

I turned twenty a week ago today, and while the first hour of my birthday was rough (can you say slight meltdown at midnight?) I woke up feeling great. (: I slept in until 10 seeing as I had no class, and when I did emerge from my room, I found a lovely birthday sign on my door from one of my flatmates (Thanks again, Gina!) I took my time getting ready, complete with extra long shower. I actually did my hair and then took a nice long walk despite the dreary weather.  Then I hopped on the bus and went to the mall, where I treated myself to some birthday gifts.. three new pairs of thick socks. Good socks are fabulous, people!  (:  It wasn’t all boring- I also purchased the most adorable cushion of all time to spice up my room and to bring home- she still doesn’t have a name though- any ideas? (: (not you Keegan- you’ve submitted enough).

My new friend. (:

My new friend. (:

After that I headed back to the flat, where I got to chat with my mom and my sisters who were enjoying some ‘beautiful Iowa weather’  and a snow day! It was good to catch up and to see all three of those gorgeous women. After that some friends and I went out to dinner at a little Italian place we had discovered our first day here. Being a Monday night, we were the only ones in and thus were given plenty of attention by the staff, all Italian, who made us some great food.  To finish off we had some awesome ice cream, and I was sung to twice- once when our server brought our ice cream, and then again five minutes later when he turned all the lights off and brought me my own little cake complete with candle. (: It was a great night with awesome friends and some hilarious stories about speeding tickets and mystical creatures (not mystical to Gina). We hopped the bus back and I finished my night on Facetime with Keegan. (: It was a great 20th!

Birthday Ice Cream!

Birthday Ice Cream!

Tuesday I once again didn’t have class- I had laundry.  I hung out and read and did homework most of the day, but then I went and had dinner with Nickie at City Walls- a pub here in the city.  Here, students go out on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then do homework/go home on the weekends. Going out to bars/clubs isn’t really my thing, particularly not in the middle of the week, so this was a welcome alternative! We had an awesome dinner and even better dessert, and just had an awesome chat, and I got to sit next to a fireplace, so that was a nice added bonus.   After, we hopped back on the bus and decided to do some laundry.  While the facilities were large and nice, THE LAUNDRY HERE IS INSANELY EXPENSIVE. Seeing as Scots here don’t pay tuition, their facilities are generally more expensive… like laundry.  It had to be done though!  Nickie and I got all of our clothes done and continued our conversation, and I finished the night with a full stomach and clean clothes!

My full sock drawer. (:

My full sock drawer. (:

Wednesday I actually had class, so it was off to Children’s Lit and Creative Writing Seminars.  Just as last week, these were both wonderful and the discussion was great.  I got to chat about picture books and Walt Whitman all in the same day… so essentially I was in heaven. (:  Later I did some writing and jammed out in my room, seriously considering buying a guitar for here… I’m dying without a musical outlet. (still considering, by the way).

Thursday I had class again, and officially decided Thursdays are my favorite. After an interesting Writing and History Seminar, I had Creative Writing Workshop, where we read our pieces- 500ish words with movement through a setting we had freewritten on last week… the feedback and discussion about our pieces was awesome, and it made me miss 212! <3 It’s easily my favorite academic hour of the week, if not one of my favorite hours of the week altogether.  After class I took a nap, then headed into town with Mary Kate and Nickie for what we THOUGHT was going to be a night of acoustic, open mike type music… according to Mary Kate.  Well, we arrived at this adorable little coffee shop and sat down as they were setting up, and then shortly realized that the night was orchestrated my the Christian Union- not that that’s a bad thing.  The bad thing was, however, that it was totally NOT what we had anticipated, and was slightly overwhelming.  It was also too cold because they kept propping the door open, so we left after the first ‘set’.  We did have a pretty funny time and some great coffee, so there was that! We headed back to my flat and hung out, talking and listening to music, until we were invited via window to our neighbor’s- where a party full of International students was taking place in the tiniest of spaces. We stayed for a bit, but left just due to crowd… but then the craziest thing happened- Gina came walking back to our flat with another girl from the party, Rachel, who I had briefly met, and it turns out SHE GOES TO LUTHER. Somehow Luther had failed to mention the other to each of us despite asking, and we live in the same building!  Norse!  It was a really weird small world type of deal- I had thought she looked familiar! Later I Facetimed with my family, including Grandma Cass, which was great, especially seeing as her birthday was the following day. (:

Friday I didn’t feel great and accidentally overslept (no, I was not hungover).  I packed everything up for our homestay weekend in Fintry, and before I knew it we were being picked up by the gates by our fabulous host mom, Moira.  There were four of us staying with Moira and her family for the weekend- Mary Kate, Rachel, Garrett, and myself- all here with IFSA. Moira drove us to her beautiful home and farm in the hills of Fintry where she lives with her husband, Hamish, four of her six children, three dogs, several cows, and countless sheep! Almost like home! (; We arrived and settled in with coffee, then Moira served us dinner, and man, was it good. We talked and ate and gave Moira our gifts from home, and eventually went to bed.  It was nice to sleep in a nice big real bed! The next morning we were treated to a full breakfast, Moira once again going above and beyond. We ate then hopped in the car for a drive through Trossachs National Park, near Fintry. IT WAS GORGEOUS.  While not the best of days weather wise, we snuck in a wee walk and countless pictures, as well as a coffee stop. It was fabulous. We got back late afternoon and relaxed and talked some more, and then once again we had a fabulous dinner.  After dinner there was more chat, some tv, and whiskey sampling. I stayed up incredibly late to get updates on the Nevada Girls Basketball Regional Final (Tough loss, hell of a season), but eventually had another great night of sleep.  The next morning we had another great breakfast and then took another drive around the countryside.  We would have walked, but it had rained all night and was still doing do, flooding the fields and sending the rivers over their banks.  Still, it was a good time.  After we got back we met all of the animals and got our dose of puppy love from the farm’s border collies, which of course just made me miss my dogs more! Shortly after a light lunch we reluctantly departed back to the uni!  It was a good weekend, and I’m pretty sure we all gained ten pounds.

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After we returned, Rachel, Gina, and I ran to Tesco to do some grocery shopping because our cupboards were bare.  Later it was my turn to cook for our weekly Sunday dinner (not that we needed it after this weekend).  For a taste of home and because of it’s immense awesomeness, I went with brinner- breakfast-dinner.  I whipped up french toast and scrambled eggs for my flatmates and friends, and then Rachel, Nickie, and I went to see Inside Llewyn Davis.  It was a strange, beautiful film with fantastic music- worth the view!

Today I slept in, did some walking, read, and wrote.  Pretty much a lazy day, but that’s all right by me!

I also purchased a ticket to see The Head and The Heart next Monday in Glasgow- you’ll be hearing about it, I promise!  Hopefully I can take all the right trains this time! (;

As a side note, congrats to Keegan on his performance at Midwest this weekend- he auditioned for some pretty great theatre companies and had three callbacks and a job offer! I’m so proud of you, Keeg. (:

Aaaand somebody got new headshots... (;

Aaaand somebody got new headshots… (;

Much love, and I’ll be posting again soon!



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First Week of Class, a Wee Trip to Glasgow, and a Gorgeous Saturday.

Hiya! (That’s what they say here, I still don’t get it).

It’s been a gorgeous Saturday here in Stirling, but now that it’s dark out and not so nice, I thought it would be a good time to catch you up on the week… it’s been a good one!

For starters, class. I mean, technically I am here to study abroad, right? Classes began this week, so I finally got to see the inside of a classroom for reasons other than another repetitive orientation session.  As I believe I mentioned before, I have three classes here at Stirling this semester- Creative Writing, Writing & History of Scotland, and British Children’s Literature.  The university system is quite different here, so rather than having class everyday, you meet just a couple of times a week, either for lectures, or seminars/tutorials.  Due to this system and due to the types of classes I’m taking, I have exactly six hours of class each week… yeah, you heard me right, six hours. To top that craziness off, I also have none of those six hours on Monday or Tuesday, which makes every weekend a four day for me. It’s a bit mind boggling at this point.

I started things off with Children’s Lit on Wednesday morning.  Our instructor is Kirstie, and she seems great so far.  We only meet once a week for this class, which to be honest I’m bummed about because it seems like it’s going to be great. We’ll be exploring all sorts of literature and learning about how it’s constructed and marketed, and we’ll get to direct our own essay towards the end of the term. It’s a nice mix of students-both guys and gals, but also from maybe six different nations, as well as a few nontraditional age students who offer a nice alternate perspective. I’m looking forward to this one for sure!

Following Children’s Lit, I raced up the stairs for my Creative Writing Seminar.  This class meets twice a week, on Wednesdays we have Seminars where we examine other written work and discuss concepts of creative writing, and then we have workshop in an even smaller group on Thursday, where we write, share our writing, and do critique of each other’s work. We started our seminar with some Elizabeth Bishop and George Eliot, so I was feeling quite comfortable. (: On Thursday, when we met in our smaller workshop, we did a descriptive writing exercise and shared with each other out loud so that we can get used to sharing our work… not that I need help with that (thanks Dr. Weldon)! Our instructor for that class is Liam, who is new here at Stirling and is quite nice. I’m excited to share work and to hear others throughout this semester!

My last class is Writing and History, which has a real title that is crazy long, but essentially it’s a class about the writing surrounding Scotland’s history, and will be a great way for me to learn more about the country I’ve chosen to live in for four months (especially because Braveheart is not really historically accurate at all). We meet in a seminar on Thursday, and in my group there are two of my IFSA friends, Nickie and Mary Kate. Our Instructor is Suzanne, who is originally from New Mexico. We also have a large lecture for this class on Fridays, which is my only one.  I’m eager to build my knowledge of Scotland so I can tell you all about it when I return!

Now, onto more fun matters. You may have already seen my rambling run-on Facebook status or my several Instagrams, but some of the gals and I decided to take a trip to Glasgow last night to see James Bay perform.  I discovered James’ EP on Noistrade this last summer and loved it, so I was immediately interested when I saw his name pop up on the Ticketmaster UK listings. I told the others, and Nickie, Jess, Rachel, Mary Kate, and I decided we would take the train over to Glasgow that afternoon and then have dinner and explore a bit before the concert that evening, with plans to take the train back to Stirling after.  We successfully navigated the bus to the train station, and boarded the train with absolutely no issue.  It was the most perfect public transportation experience we’ve had yet! The train is a great way to get around, and we loved kicking back for 45 minutes as we breezed by the gorgeous green hills. Then we arrived in Glasgow, grabbed a cab, and headed towards the street where the concert venue was to browse around. Well, by the time we arrived, the weather was gross- snow/rain and wind like you wouldn’t believe. We were all a bit peckish as well, so we stopped off at a nice little coffee shop and warmed ourselves up. We sat and talked about home, crazy professors, awkward moments, and other things for a couple hours, and then decided to walk around for a bit before heading to The Roxy (where the concert was) to grab dinner before the show. Well, we lasted all of five minutes because it was still terrible outside.  We walked up the block and then walked right back to the Roxy for a very early dinner. Dinner was great, and we chatted some more and then finally the concert began. The venue was in the basement of The Roxy, and was small and intimate- I’d say there were maybe 60 people there, and we were right in front! Vickie Paxton opened solo, and while I had never heard of her, she was great- a lot of voice from a tiny person! James was incredible- completely brilliant live. He sang all the songs I knew from his EP, and then several new ones from his upcoming album.  They were simply breathtaking. One song in particular from the upcoming album just really hit a chord with us- it was called Scars and James wrote it about a time when his girlfriend was away for a long time… no need to tell you why that one got to me. Needless to say, the five us were pretty much in love with James by the end of the night. We all got to meet him and take pictures afterwords, and there were free CD’s and I got a signed poster as well, which I miraculously got home in one piece despite our… ahem… adventure…

So we had called a taxi to pick us up following the concert, and he was there when we finished.  We leapt in and headed for the train station, where it looked like we would make the first of four trains back to Stirling.  We got to the station, and lo ad behold, there it was!  We had made it just in the nick of time.  The sign above the train had said service to Stirling, so we settled right in.  I recognized the names of the stops at first, but then started to doubt our perfect day of public transportation. I checked a map, and sure enough, we were definitely not headed to Stirling.  We snagged the conductor, Davie, who when we asked if this train was headed to Stirling, laid his head down on the seat in disbelief… we had definitely screwed up.  Thankfully, we weren’t in too much of a panic thanks to our awesome night, and Davie quickly got his machine out to find us a way home. After Davie fiddled about, he found that we could get off at the next stop, get on another train there in 20 minutes, then get off at the next stop on that train and grab THE LAST train back to Stirling. He printed off the itinerary and we got off, waving as he past.  Davie, you saintly man, we thank you. Well, we then got to stand about in a little place called Cumbernauld… at an outdoor, completely abandoned stop. We waited out in the cold, cracking jokes and telling stories. Eventually the train came, and we got off in Camelon just five minutes before the last train to Stirling was set to arrive.  We were having a great time on our wayward adventure, and thanks to the compassion of Davie and other conductors, we hadn’t had to buy extra tickets or anything.  The last train pulled in and we hopped on, bound for home!  Being the last train to Stirling, it was decently full of an odd mixture of people… including a very *ahem* interestingly dressed woman and her companion, both who looked to be about 45+. The was falling over in her seat, which was in the group of seats behind ours.  After a few minutes things started smelling very sour… she had lost it and vomited all over her seat, her purse, and bag, and it was stinking up the whole compartment.  Having already have been on a wild adventure, we were just cracking up at how insane our story continued to get, but needless to say, we were thrilled to get off at Stirling for some fresh air! We took a cab back to campus, glad to have made it. (: It was quite the bonding experience for us all, and a wonderful Valentines Day. <3

We all slept in pretty late today, but then Rachel, Jess, and I decided to enjoy the absolutely beautiful weather we had and explore campus.  We walked around the Lochs, ventured around the sprawling green grounds, and located the campus castle, snapping pictures everywhere we went.  I found several perfect places for writing and hope to get back there soon for some write time.

For now, it’s time for a movie night here in our flat and some dinner.  Until next time, much love.



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Love from Scotland.

Well, I made it. I’m writing here from our flat here on the top floor, more specifically from my room, which is little more than a glorified closet… but it is a very cute glorified closet. (: Scotland, I have arrived. And I love you. This is a long one, seeing as it’s a few days worth, but I promise they won’t be this long very often. (; But there are pictures, so enjoy!

Much as you would expect, it was a looooong journey here, but thankfully I managed to avoid the snowstorm that slammed the states as I left. The worst I endured was a few extra minutes on the tarmac as they hosed down the 777 that flew me from Chicago to London with de-icing solution… which is a shockingly lime green! I flew from Des Moines to Chicago to London to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and overall a beautiful place.  I arrived seriously jetlagged but incredibly excited… mostly because it was SUNNY AND 40 SOMETHING DEGREES. <3 Gorgeous, compared to the dreadful -20s I left back home.  I stepped off the plane and soon found one of our fabulous IFSA-Butler reps waiting for me, and after waiting for two other girls on the program, the four of us set out for our hotel in the heart of Edinburgh, in an area known as Grassmarket, which sits directly next to Edinburgh Castle. In all, there are seven of us here at Stirling with IFSA, six gals and one lone guy. We have several states represented, including New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Wyoming, and of course Iowa. (: The others are all fabulous, and of the seven of us we have four English majors! Woop!

After arriving at the hotel, we freshened up and wandered about, exploring Edinburgh and successfully getting lost.  We later had our first orientation lunch and met our other program advisors/directors, Ruth, Deirdra, and Danielle, who then spent the next two days getting us prepared and answering our questions. We spend our mornings at orientation and our afternoons and evenings out exploring- we bought nice Nokia brick phones for use here and took pictures at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling wrote a good part of Harry Potter.  There were pubs, restaurants, parks, and haggis. Surprisingly, it is quite good and not at all as terrible as pop culture leads you to believe.  After those few days, we at last set out for Stirling on Friday afternoon, where we climbed three very narrow flights of stairs to find our flat.

The accommodation here are dorms of a sort- large dormish buildings stuffed with as many rooms as possible, arranged in flats.  SOme just have two bedrooms, some have more.  Here on the top floor in flat 1/8/1, there are five of us.  Myself, two other girls on the IFSA program Allie and Rachel, Liz from Australia, and Gina, who is also from the states and traveling through CIS. We each have our own closet-sized room and share a living room and kitchen.  While not a five-star hotel, it’s a pretty great little place and now that I’m fully unpacked things are great.

After getting settled in on Friday, the whole group of us IFSA students decided to try our luck with the public bus, where we met another solo American student, Ally. We made our way downtown to the shops and picked up a few things, including pillows.  Then, the seven of us made our way back on the bus with giant bags of blue pillows, looking like pretty stupid tourists… which at that point, we definitely were.  We never got on the wrong bus, but we certainly let the correct one go by once before catching it the second time… so moderate success? (:

We all took some personal time and then got right back on that bus to go have dinner in the city later on, which was a great time despite our tiredness.  After missing the correct bus once again, we hung out in an Italian ice cream parlor while waiting for the next one, then we traveled back to campus and I went to bed.

Saturday we slept in late then as a big group walked a mile or so down the road to Bridge of Allan, the absolutely adorable village neighboring Stirling and the University Campus.  We had fish and chips for lunch at a fabulous cafe that I had recommended to me, perused the shops, then stopped off at the Co-op for groceries and walked back.  It was a great walk, one I plan on making several more times while I’m here. (:

Saturday also brought our last flatmate, Gina in, and so later that night Gina, Nickie from IFSA, and I made our way to the Macrobert Arts Centre on campus, hoping to see 12 Years A Slave.  It was sold out for that night, so we instead bought tickets to Walter Mitty later in the evening, and decided to hang around and chat until then, which was great. Gina, Nickie, and I are the only sophomores I’ve met so far- most everyone studying abroad from the states is  junior, so we had plenty to talk about.  It was a great time, and the movie was of course spectacular as well.  After, we bought tickets for 12 Years a Slave for Sunday night. (:

Sunday morning brought our orientation session here at Stirling, which to be totally honest was completely repetitive and a general waste of my time.  Really all we needed was our ID cards, so after getting mine, I came back to the flat and cooked myself some lunch, took a quick nap, and continued unpacking.  Later Gina, Nickie, and I once again made our way to the Macrobert for 12 Years A Slave.  It was absolutely incredible, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the whole theatre. A beautiful, moving, and intensely emotional movie.  After the movie we said goodbye to Nickie and Gina and I came back to our flat, where we stayed up late chatting with Rachel, after which I finally finished unpacking. Woof. Also, the internet all throughout campus had died, so I spent the day away from my computer and phone and had no way to contact home… so Stateside friends, if I drop off the map… this is probably why.

Today I had no class… nice right?  But I did get my schedule solidified- I’m taking three English classes at Stirling this semester: Writing and History of Scotland’s Empire, British Children’s Literature, and Creative Writing… so in other words, an English major’s dream.  I’m actually thrilled to be starting class tomorrow- it’s been nearly two months since my last Fall final at Luther.  Nickie, Gina, and I took a marvelously successful trip into the city this morning for a couple of things- we got on the right bus with perfect timing both there and back… it was pretty exciting. Nickie went to class, and seeing as neither Gina or I had class today, we walked to Bridge of Allan and enjoyed the beautiful weather, grabbing lunch and some forgotten groceries.  I am pretty convinced Bridge of Allan is my favorite now… even if just for the nice walk.

And that brings us to now, here in my room, six hours ahead of Central Time back home.  I’m wrapped in a blanket and typing away.  However, I still have one more very important thing to note in this post.

While I’m far away from him today, Keegan and I are celebrating our three year dating anniversary today.  To be honest, spending this time away from him will probably be the most challenging thing about my four months here in Scotland, but I couldn’t be more grateful to have someone who understands my need to travel and explore and be independent, and to know that he’ll still be waiting when I return.  These three years have been incredible- I’ve learned and grown and loved far more than I ever thought possible at this point. To the man who makes me live more than any other, here’s to a great three years, and many more to come.  Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart, and love from Scotland.




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Twenty. Twenty? Twenty! Twenty…

I turn twenty in one month, and because I won’t be in the country for that miraculous day, my family and friends are celebrating with me this month instead. Twenty. It’s kind of insane. I swear just yesterday I got my ears pierced for my tenth birthday, and now here I am preparing to leave my teenage years behind and enter the realm of twenty-something. It’s crazy. Not the age itself– just the realization I’ve had of the passage of time, thanks to the signpost reading TWENTY. I’ve been talking to my family and friends a lot about this lately, and something I’ve come to realize is that my complete ignorance of time passing steadily for the last twenty years is the sign of a well-lived and beautiful twenty years. I never noticed time before because I was too busy in the moment, which I am pretty pleased with. It makes you feel good to realize you’ve just rocked twenty years.

While I have spent a lot of time looking back, turning twenty has me looking forward in a lot of ways, as it should. I have found myself looking forward, and looking around at everyone else more and more these last few months, and I’ve come to some interesting conclusions about being in your early twenties. There have been a lot of articles recently quarreling back and forth about what your early twenties should look like– consider these couple, the likes of which sparred on my Facebook news feed for days.

I see both in real life, too. Several people in my graduating class have recently gotten engaged, and some are having children. Others in my class just spent their entire break traveling, single as can be. Some are in school, some are working instead. Some have joined the military in various branches, while others still just aren’t sure what they want to be doing. There are so many things you can be doing with your twenties, so many that there definitely is no one ‘List of Things’ to accomplish, one set of rules to follow, or even one set of rules to break. Why the hell would we ever want to categorize or try to contain all of those things– in your twenties or in any of your years?

We’re only given so much time here on this floating hunk of carbon here in space. And whether that time has been given to us by God, Allah, The Big Bang, Zeus, or The Flying Spaghetti monster doesn’t make a difference. It’s yours, so do with it what you will, starting from twenty when things become a little more real than before… or sooner! We all must share space, but our time is our own, and you are the only one who decides what to do with it, and while you can have a different opinion, you aren’t allowed to bash what other people do with their time- it’s their own.

Today I slept until ten, got really excited about new socks, and sat in my car for an extra fifteen minutes so I could listen to three really good songs in a row. Who gives a rip?

My point is, instead of trying to shout our opinions at each other using ‘Things to do in your twenties’ lists, why don’t we each use our own time and come up with our own lists of what we personally want to do in our twenties? (or thirties, forties, fifties…)

(Damn, self, that’s a good idea!)

So here goes. Here’s my list of ‘Twenty things to do in my twenties’. In no particular order, mind. I don’t want any sass about ‘oh this was higher on the list nyah nyah nyah.’


1. Have faith. In God, in people, in the inherent goodness of the world, in the fact Tuesday always comes after Monday.

2. Show my parents they are the absolute best. Make choices that they would be proud of, or at the very least support because you made them for the right reasons.

3. Be a role model to my sisters. And a confidant, friend, mentor, whatever. Take Elli to Chinese and Take Kati to the movies whenever you can. Talk to them all the time, tell them you love them, and show them how much you care. Be proud of them more than ever.

4. Finish your Bachelor’s degree and power on to your Master’s and PhD. You want this more than anything, so work hard, work with passion, and learn until your brain explodes. If you’re going to change the world (or at least one person’s) you have to have the tools first, and these years will provide you with those tools. Keep loving school as much as you did that very first day back in 1999.

5. Get married. But first keep telling Keegan how incredible he is, keep getting to know each other, and loving each other. When you know, you know, and when you know, you have plenty of time to make things legal. Enjoy your time together. Go to the 10:25 movie and then battle for the champion in Oscar’s night betting. Read a book and pass it on to him. Let him make you a cup of coffee and you make him some tea. Make fun of his hairy feet and let him tease you when you actually say something stupid. Hang out with each other’s families, friends, and everyone in between. Then, when you feel like it’s time, tie that knot and tie it tight. Because that guy is pure gold.

6. Love your friends. Pull the close ones closer and remind them that they are everything to you, and don’t be afraid to make a few new ones. Remember as you usually do that all personal relationships are precious, from your closest friendships to a fun professor to a stranger you share a plane ride with. Be the best you can be to those around you.

7. Teach people. Teach them skills, teach them a way of seeing things, teach them how to play rummy, or teach them everything you know. Share your knowledge in the classroom, the real world, or in written word.

8. Learn. From everyone. Listen to the stories people tell you, to professors, to friends, to anyone. Listen and learn all that you can.

9. Shape up. You’ve been saying it for a long time. Your twenties is it, lady. Get in the best physical shape you’ve ever been in and celebrate yourself. You already know how beautiful and how damn awesome you are. Your confidence is stellar, and you know it isn’t the most important thing about a person, but you want it, and you know you do, so do it. Do it for you, not for anyone else.

10. Travel. You’re already on your way by spending your semester abroad, but travel when you can. Even in your own beautiful country. Wander down a gravel road you haven’t before. Go somewhere new just to feel that wandering feeling. Be like The Wanderer: “Yet still I will wonder and wander far on.”

11. Master your third and fourth instruments, then hell, go for a fifth. Keep playing the piano and the drums too, but really work on that guitar and violin. You should finish what you started– you can do it. Then, when you can start your own one woman band, maybe go for the harmonica or accordion or something. That would be pretty damn sweet.

12. Always keep reading. Just remember your first love was books. Read anything and everything, from novels to biographies to newspapers. Readers rule the world.

13. Keep moving toward that published dream. You may not do it in these ten years, but you will someday. Keep writing and working. Be accepting of feedback and be passionate about each word. You can do it.

14. Lead through service. Keep using your leadership skills, but always remember the true role of a leader is to serve others. Facilitate, discuss, empower, inspire, and listen. Lead.

15. Buy a house. Depending on your educational and financial situation, you might not actually buy this until your early thirties, but work to get to that point. Get your own place and make it yours.

16. Be financially responsible. Start keeping better track of your money, and learn to budget. You need to do this one, no option.

17. Quit biting your damn fingernails.

18. Make and see lots and lots of art. Write, paint, sing, whatever. See a concert, a play, go to a museum. Make good art.

19. Think about starting a family, and if the time is right, start it. You already know you want to be Dr. Cassabaum before you are Momma Cassabaum, so just keep that in mind. You have plenty of time in your thirties to have kids, so no rush. And obviously work on completing a lot of these other numbers before this one… number five, for instance. Wait until you’re both ready.

20. Enjoy every little thing in between these big things. Make a snow angel in -15 degree weather. Take an extra long shower. Enjoy strawberries right out of the garden without washing them. Go barefoot all summer until your feet are black and rough like sandpaper. Enjoy the smile on Elli’s face when you tell her how awesome she is, or the the story Kati tells that doesn’t quite make sense but is brilliant anyways. Cherish a baseball game with Dad or a night laying in bed next to Mom. Every Katie snort and coffee date, every MASH episode with Britany, every deep talk with Eric, every boy story from Steph. Wrestling with Cooper, sister time with Sarah, and hide and seek games with Bridget. Talks with adults over nothing, nights in the pub listening to Chris and Eileen’s stories. Showing Grandma Cass how to use technology, and hearing Grandma Kay tell stories. Throw a stick for Charlie, cuddle with Luna. A cup of coffee, a hug, a beautiful day, and the times between. The feeling of falling asleep next to someone you love, even if he snores like a bear almost instantly after his head hits the pillow. (: Enjoy every moment so that when you come to the next sign in the road, you will be baffled by the time that has passed because you were too busy living. Live, and live good.

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Here’s the deal.


Long time no see/blog.

In typical me fashion, my life got insane and this blog fell by the wayside.  I am back, but things are going to be changing format-wise.

So here’s the deal.

As I continue to write with the goal to someday publish, I have to quit posting my original work here, if I ever want it published.  There will still be snippets and perhaps a poem every so often, but chances are not many.  Instead, I’ll blog about the things going on, about things I’m learning, my thoughts on current events, and MY TRAVELS TO SCOTLAND THIS SPRING.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’m studying abroad in Stirling, Scotland for four months this spring?!  I fly out of Des Moines on February 4th, and I won’t set my feet on Iowa soil again until June 15th.  Wowzas.  I’ll be sure to keep you all updated here, and maybe post some writing inspired by my experience- I expect my creative beast to enjoy Scotland immensely. (:

So that’s the deal.  Change is scary, but we’re gonna make it work.  And now, seeing as it has been months since I posted anything, here’s a quick recap of MAY-NOW. Ready? GO!

I finished my first year at Luther and passed all of my finals (YAY).

I worked at the Club again this summer, as well as nannied for two amazing kiddos.

I also worked the Ames Main Street Farmer’s Market for our fabulous Trinity Farms.  It was a blast- Farmer’s Markets are full of beauty, in both people and produce. (:

We took a family vacation to the island of Kauai, Hawaii, and it was a blast.  Good quality family time with my parents and sisters, and plenty of delicious seafood and lots and lots of snorkeling.  Excellent time all around.

I spent copious amounts of time with my friends, including our annual trip to the drive-in, which was excellent.

Due to the fact our new house is smaller and short on bedrooms, I camped out all summer in our Airstream.  Oh yeah.

We got ourselves a new dog!  Luna is an Akbash (google it) and is a true beauty.  She was an adorable 22 pounds in July, and is now closing on 90 and is still skinny as a rail.  Talk about your gangly teenager.  She’s a complete sweetheart and Charlie is very much in love with her. (:

I finalized my study abroad plans- with much excitement!

I started my second year at Luther, with my study emphasis changed.  I am now an English Major with minors in Communications and Classics.

I became a radio DJ at our college station, KWLC Decorah at 1240 AM. I had a blast spinning tunes every Saturday morning, and I’ll be back at it this fall when I get back from Scotland!

I saw a whole bunch of live acts: The Avett Brothers in July with Keegan, his sister Sarah, and her boyfriend Bryton.  Mat Kearney at Luther in September- Keegan came up for it!  Count This Penny live in Decorah at Art Haus- awesome folk duo, look them up.  Tyrone Wells in Minneapolis at The Varsity with Steph and Britany- so much fun!!! And most awesome of all, Keeg and I saw BRANDI CARLILE in Cedar Falls at the end of October.  I was blown away.  I cried, I laughed, I sang along.  We sat in the best of the nosebleeds and loved every minute.  Lots of chills.

Keegan was a part of the musical Spring Awakening at UNI this fall, and I went three times.  It was that good. So so so so so good.  He sang… and danced… lots of giggles about the dancing. He was magnificent, as were the rest of the cast.  I also got to spend some more time with his friends in the department, and I can safely say he’ll be well taken care of while I’m gone for 4 months. (;

My stud little sister made it to State in in volleyball, and while I didn’t get to go watch and they didn’t make it past the first round, I am still super proud.

I worked as an Admissions Ambassador at Luther- aka a tour guide.  If you ever feel like visiting Luther College, hit me up and I’ll show you all we have to offer!

I had an awesome fall semester of classes, including Creative Writing.  It was a brilliant class and I loved it so much I never even skipped it once.

I was voted to be communications liason for the Luther College Feminists, so expect a feminism post or twelve. It’s an incredible group.

I participated in my first poetry slams ever this fall, one during the Luther Writer’s Festival (WHICH WAS AWESOME) and another in November… and I was one of the winners!  It’s an incredible rush, and another reminder of why Decorah is the actual best.

Katie visited me in Decorah, and we had an incredible weekend at Seed Savers, Dunning Springs, and all of the other fabulous hot spots of Decorah.  She is now addicted to Magpie. Oops.

I passed all of my finals again this fall, and can’t wait for another two years at Luther after my semester in Scotland.

I celebrated Christmas with my friends, celebrated Keegan’s 20th Birthday (WHAT), and celebrated family Christmases, all of which were excellent.

New Year arrived as Keeg, Eric, Gabby and I drank bad sparkling cider on the couch at the Patterson house.  So, it was uneventful and perfect.

And now I’m home for a month until Scotland.  There.  I think that about covers it all… hopefully.  If I missed something, my bad. Refer to my twitter for more complete coverage of these events.  (:

Until next time,



Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

exciting news and earthworms.

Hello, dear readers!

I’m coming to you from a rainy Luther College this afternoon, with some great news and a poem.  A while back I submitted a couple pieces to Luther’s literary magazine, which is published every spring, and I am pleased to announce that two of my pieces, ‘goodmorning stinkbreath’ and ‘Grey’ will be published in the 2012-2013 Oneota Review!  Both of these pieces have already been published here, so if you haven’t hada chance to read, or want to check them out again, scroll on down a ways or simply find them in the archives.  I’m excited for my peers here at Luther to see my work in print.

In other news… I HAVE LESS THAN A WEEK LEFT OF MY FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE! Woah, time flies.  I was packing up things yesterday that seemed like I just unpacked… weird.

So to celebrate this gorgeous rainy day, here’s a quick poem I scribbled out in religion.  I hope you enjoy it, and perhaps you’ll learn something you didn’t know!


earthworms crawl

across the wet streets

after a full night and morning

of sweet rain

emptied from heavy clouds

while they cannot comprehend

the unfurling leaves

newly green

lighter in color

than the thick grass carpet

they do know

that rain gives life

and offers opportunity

the rain does not harm

it does not drown them

in their underground sanctuaries

it breathes life

into the world

and allows a simple earthworm

to traverse over the soil

across the streets

through the grass

it is their one chance

to retain their life-giving

slipperiness and breathe clean air

and even if that chance

means risk of ending

by careless foot

rolling tires

or hungry robin’s beak

the humblest of creatures

will still emerge

into low grey light

to crawl across the earth

for which they are named

in order to seize the opportunity

that so many others

are too fearful

to take

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Hello, dear friends!  It’s been a busy month, but I’m back, and I have a few posts that will be coming to a computer screen near you in the next week, with one today.  Today’s poem is brought to you by the beautiful weather here in Decorah and the wonderful website that is Noisetrade- I filled my new music quota for the day and downloaded about 50 songs… free.  Got a few new favorites to add to my Summer 2013 playlist.  Anywho, here’s a poem typed straight from the little black book.  Enjoy, and enjoy this incredible weather!





‘hello spring’

Hello Spring.

Do you have any idea

how long we’ve been waiting for you.

Yet here you are

arriving in typical childish fashion

a young lover with no sense of time.

First you sob and stumble in

with half hearted rains

and completely uncalled-for snows

rude and unaware.

But now you have fully arrived.

Sun in a blue sky chariot

pulled by great gusting horses that run

with the force of a hurricane.

Gales cool and sweet

countering their passenger’s heat.

If I were to sit still long enough

the backs of my legs would surely be warmed

to the second most comfortable of warms.

But Spring

I hope you realize how late you are.

Of course you are always welcome

but I fear that a great deal of your time

has already been wasted

and you will not have as much as some would like.

Because when the sun finally starts to go down

after long days that infringe upon dark

and those wind stallions pull off into the sky

it doesn’t smell like you floral sweet Spring.

In the cool nights under the timidly reemerging stars

it smells like sister Summer and bare feet upon dewy grass.

So hurry along latecomer

because all too soon you will be overtaken

by hot days and passionate nights.

Stargazing will overrule all of your flowers

and dirty toes and sunburned shoulders

will take precedence over delicate dresses

and anxious students who squirm in their seats.

Move along and sweep up Mother Autumn’s discarded leaves

because I want to stay up all night

and whisper in the dark to no one

and be close to those whom I love.

I want to return home on your billowing skirts

bound for Summer.

Categories: personal writing | Leave a comment

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