I built this yesterday.


My dad and I worked on this project together. It was my idea, and I pleaded and persuaded, and suddenly we were at Home Depot trying to figure out how many pavers could fit in the car before it was too heavy to safely drive.

Dad is the engineer of the family. It’s his job, but more than that, it’s the way he thinks and sees things. He helped me carry all of the stone pavers and sand to our backyard, and then told me how to build the fire pit.

I knelt on the ground, and with my own two hands, I built a thing.

And check it out: it even works!


Well, okay, tonight is the night I figure out that building a fire may actually be harder than building a pit to contain it, but I am filled with satisfaction. I had a few s’mores, sat by the fire with my mom and proved that this structure isn’t about to fall down. I sit here now, my feet propped on the stone lip, typing away in the very limited light of a fire that won’t rage, but won’t quit either. It’s refreshing to take a pause from words written, customers served, miles logged, and see something tangible that I have done.

I have built this thing, and there is more to come.


The Train Home

I spent ten hours traveling home yesterday.

If I drove myself for this long weekend away, it probably would have taken six hours, maybe a little less.  I didn’t drive, however, because it was cheaper to cobble together this Frankenstein’s monster of train rides, bus tickets and pick-ups from inconveniently distant stations.  It was pleasant, too, to spend the travel time on my laptop instead of watching the road, and heaven knows it was less stressful for my poor car.

The majority of the time yesterday was spent traversing Michigan, the state where I grew up and in which I now reside.  Most of the trip was undertaken after sunset; even if I had chosen to look out the window, there was not much I could have seen.  By the time my train hit its first delay, however, I had already lost interest in the view, one I had seen many times before.

Warrior Dash 033

To be honest, I’m really sick of traveling through Michigan.  I am familiar with I-94 from east to west.  I-275, M-14, US-23, I-69— sometimes, I feel like whenever I close my eyes, I will see one of these highways stretching out before me.  It seems that I have spent the last eight years ping-ponging back and forth across the state.  Planes, trains, automobiles (oh especially automobiles): I must know all the routes by heart now.

I know so many people who take immense pride in their home state, or at least the region of it where their roots lie.  I am not one of those people.  I was not born here, and I never expected to return as an adult.  My family— well, my parents, actually— are the only true roots I feel here.

When I was a student still at Notre Dame, I wouldn’t have said that Michigan was home exactly, but it was linked more closely with that concept in my mind.  It came with images of the library’s parking lot, the courtyard at my high school, the bookstore where I worked, the Denny’s around the corner.  Now?  I hear “Michigan” and think of this house where I grew up, the lake behind it, and little else positive that has that familiar shade of home.  My church is on Shady Avenue in Pittsburgh, my coffee shop is in downtown Racine and I write best at a fourth floor desk with a view of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

My heart is in so many place, but most of the time it just isn’t here.  Right now, “home” is a place I’m traveling through to get where I’m going.

this is the song I’m mulling over today

Root, root for the Home Team

ND community

thanks to Sammi Kretz for this picture

Is it too late to write about the Super Bowl?  I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  This week has been flying by.  I had wanted to write about the Super Bowl experience, but I never quite pulled myself together to do so (although, I will be publishing a list of the garnishes on the Bloody Mary I had while watching the game, because that’s just too impressive to skip).

Today is national signing day for college football, and I find that more exciting (even if there are fewer power outages and Destiny’s Child reunions).  Today is the day when college seniors commit to the college where they will study and compete.  All day, fans keep track of who is committing to be the next class on their favorite team.  I have always invested more in college sports than in the professional arena.  I have always found the experience to be more fun and more fulfilling.

ND generations

Dad & Daughter

Unlike many of the people I spent time with growing up in Michigan, I do not strongly identify with any particular physical location.  I grew up in Michigan, but was born in Connecticut.  I have spent my adult life in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.  My mother is from Chicago, but my father is from New York.  There are a lot of professional teams vying for my affections, and my allegiances line up according to where I was when I grew to love different sports (and who was teaching me to love that particular fandom).  I very rarely cheer for the home team in pro sports, because I rarely get to watch my teams play at home.  My Bleacher Report stream is a jumbled mess.

One athletic organization has carried me through my whole life, however, no matter where I live or what sport caught my fancy:  the University of Notre Dame.

ND ladyfriends

thanks to Katie Ineich for this picture

In so many ways, my college has become my “hometown”.  It’s a place where I always feel welcome.  It’s a color to wear and a reference to give.  No matter where I’ve moved, I’ve been able to find a group of people meeting up to watch the game.  Notre Dame is a common theme overwhelming my family’s journeys.  It’s a family school on my mom’s side, and it’s where my parents met.  My sister and I each graduated recently, and were able to share a few years on campus together.  It’s where I met and prayed with my goddaughter’s lovely mom, and where I lived and sang and worshipped and struggled with so many of the people with whom I share my life.

These days, more and more people are going to college.  More and more people are moving across the country.  Maybe more and more people will be supporting college teams instead of local professional teams?  Maybe it depends on what reminds each person of that “home” feeling.

Or are there people who cheer for teams based entirely on that team’s prowess?  How do YOU decide which team to support?

ND family tailgate

some family members at a tailgate. some are students, some are alumni… all here are fans. thanks to Eileen Higgins for the picture.