One time I went to Turkey.

One time I spent a little under a month in Turkey with a group from college…

And it’s been over six years but that country is still burned into my memory with in all its richness.

And I didn’t know anything about Turkey before getting on that plane so I spent the whole trip having my mind blown that magical story places like Troy and Colosse and Ephesus actually existed somewhere.

And we saw belly dancers, survived Turkish baths, marveled at massive churches, and hiked through white stone canyons.

And we ate foods that I had never tasted, consumed more double chocolate Magnum bars than should be allowed, and drank Turkish tea by the gallon, and all got sick after a 14 hour bus ride across the country and gas station cuisine.

And I had just started dating James that spring and it was our first time apart, and I remember thinking during those sparse emails that we shouldn’t do this apart thing.

And James went the following year so Turkey stands as a touchstone, a place where we were both separate, but somehow together.

And this video popped up in my newsfeed the other night and I found myself watching it at 1am, sobbing.

And I knew some of the reasons, knew that it was because I am still doing that apart thing and not always doing so great at it, and those images washed over me reminding me of another sort of separate-togetherness, of a time when I didn’t know that we would do that apart thing again and again and again.

And I thought of what our professor said to us as we stood in Antioch, how we feel something when we walk where the great heros of our faith walked, because when the Word became Flesh something broke in the divide between material and spiritual, something that touches us in a way our modern Western world forgets.

And I thought about those people who shared that trip with me. Some I haven’t talked to since graduation and others I see on a weekly basis. Some have had babies and grown families while others have buried children or parents or siblings, shared stories of infertility, loss, and pain. Some have married and others have walked through broken relationships. Dreams and love and death and life and happiness and sorrow have been ours in these six years since.

And I cried about all that too, watching those images of Turkey.

And I found myself going through old pictures of that place and praying through faces I don’t see anymore and longing for the day when the divide between material and spiritual will once again be broken.

And the Word will come back and fix all the brokenness he finds. Turkey-1 Turkey-2 Turkey-3 Turkey-4 Turkey-5 Turkey-7Turkey-6Turkey-8 Turkey-9 Turkey-12Turkey-10 Turkey-11Turkey-13 Turkey-14 Turkey-15 Turkey-16 Turkey-17 Turkey-19Turkey-20Turkey-21Turkey-18

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When I started grad school, I was quickly convinced that everything about it was absolutely terrible. Obviously I slowly came around and eventually signed on for 4 (5?) more years, but that first year was brutal. Along the way I did make a wonderful friend. Shannon was my fellow first year buddy, my fellow wide-eyed, overwhelmed, lost, tired soul. Two weeks ago Shannon became a mother to this perfect baby girl, Clara. I was so thrilled to stop in for newborn toes, squishy baby snuggles, and tiny  hands. Welcome to the world little one.  Clara-62 Clara-77 Untitled-2 Clara-55 Clara-110 Untitled-3Clara-115Clara-8 Clara-30 Clara-48 Clara-53 Clara-43Untitled-1

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Out-takes: Wedding style.

You are probably wondering why I am flooding this blog with more wedding photos, especially since this isn’t some sort of anniversary, nor is it one of those days the Internet dedicates to old pictures of ourselves, nor do I have any actual point or advice to share which correlates to these images. Nope. Nada. Zilch.

But it all started with takeout from P.F. Chang’s.

Ok, I should back up. It actually started when I decided to go out to my friend Susannah’s home in Fairfax Friday night after work. You should know that city life has totally spoiled my ability to trek out to the suburbs. If someone tells me that they live past the last metro stop somewhere, I just blink slowly and try to stave off the fear of being eaten by wolves or dying of starvation were I ever to trek out there. Past the last metro stop – do they have electricity? Plumbing? Chipotle? I know this is ridiculous, just as I know that growing up in a little town meant that I routinely drove 45 minutes to see someone. But still. Now I am old and weak and love me that city life.

All of this was confirmed when it took me THREE HOURS to drive from my office to her home. Mind you, the total distance is a whopping 32.8 miles, but in the hellish deathtrap that is Friday afternoon traffic in DC, it took me three hours. As in, 180 minutes. As in, in that time period, I managed listen my way through three rounds of the same NPR news updates, heard “Shake it off” twice, and despaired of ever making it at least 10 times. And when my frustration hit a new low, I seized hold of my phone in standstill traffic and called and ordered Chinese takeout to stave off the yelling. Obviously, by the time I rolled into her driveway, I had consumed most of an order of crab rangoon by myself, but I was still alive. Our classy evening involved reckless consumption of all the food I had hunger-ordered in my traffic delirium (lettuce wraps and cheesecake, just to name one of several rockstar combos), classy drinks made of un-chilled pink champagne mixed with apple cider and ice cubes, and a little “I Love Lucy” watching. If that’s not almost enough to erase the PTSD of three hours in traffic, then I don’t know what is.

Anyway, in the midst of our wild reveling, we remembered that Suze had a whole bunch of photos that she had taken alongside our photographer at our wedding that I had never gotten from her. So, in lieu of actual exciting things that are [not] happening in my life these days, here is a dump of old wedding photos, very similar to the ones I overwhelmed you with here. Because anyone who has ever gotten married knows that you never get tired of seeing more perspectives of that day.

Hannah-11 Hannah-25 Hannah-27 Untitled-1Hannah-36 //Duck lips for a weepy moment with my dad and bossy fingers for everyone else, all the time.//Hannah-40 Hannah-41 //Bethany, the unsung hero of the wedding who faced her intense dislike for cats by protecting me from mine, intent on climbing up the wedding dress the whole time we took photos.//Hannah-44

Hannah-48Hannah-49//That look of glee because I managed to sneak an ee cummings poem into the wedding, despite some haters (my mom and James) and those awesome former students sang it and made me cry.//Untitled-2Hannah-64Now then. I promise to try harder next weekend to do things other than binge on takeout and drool over old photos of myself.

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Nick & Bekah

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Of college and grad school.

I don’t think I talk enough about grad school on this blog. I mean, were you to just be perusing innocently through ye old archives, you would most likely think that I just live a life of excessive brunching, going on walks with the hubs, and pining for donuts. Otherwise known as “how female bloggers make the world look.”  But the truth is that I actually spend most of my days turning my brain into a PhD and turning my students’ brains into wrinkly masses of French knowledge, or so I desperately hope. I spend most of my days reading books replete with death and prostitutes, grading student work, and trying to make the difference between the imparfait and the passé composé exciting. That last one is obviously accomplished through a song,  and thank you former high school students for teaching me that. The apathetic undergrads I force to sing it thank you slightly less.

Lately I was thinking about the differences between college and grad school, between school as your life and life facilitate by your schooling. This realization came about when I was exhausted from my weekend so I just decided to sleep in till 10:30 on a Tuesday morning to be rested for my week. [If you are a parent with babies, I invite you to stop and yell soft expletives at the screen because I know that this is a childless luxury. But you do get to have soft squishy babies to squeeze and that is pretty awesome as well.] I woke up and one of my first thoughts was, This is how grad school is different than college.

Before I even go on, I should add that by “college” I am mostly talking about my college experience at a small liberal arts college, otherwise known as 4-year camp with harsh grades. It is its own world at these colleges, an all-consuming, friend-filled world of professor devotion, campus pranks, and utmost loyalty. I loved this world and I still think very fondly on it and all that it gave me.

In college, you have few responsibilities beyond yourself. Yes, you have a massive amount of work to do, and yes, you have all the other tasks that extracurricular fervor makes you do, but you typically don’t have to question where your food and shelter are coming from. The cafeteria and your dorm exist to suspend you in something not quite like childhood, but not yet adulthood. You often don’t clean for indeterminate amounts of time and if you pull three all-nighters in a row, you crash and burn like a solo ship in the sea. You pack every minute with tasks, scheduling meetings for obscene times like 10:25 pm, and sometimes you fall asleep at the library because you are so overwhelmed. Everyone, at every small college, in every major, is busy and stressed. And with good reason. Your life is ruled by deadlines and commitments, grades and transcripts, acceptance into societies or groups and letters of recommendation. After four years you heave a huge sigh of relief that it is over and then promptly grow depressed and nostalgic for college and all that it was.

In grad school, pretty much none of that is true. Are there grades? I think so… kind of. I have a massive pile of work and information to accumulate, but the deadlines are few and long and nebulous. Things like “I need to write a dissertation in the next 2-4 years” or “I will be tested on this massive comprehensive list of books come springtime so I should start reading.”  I read and write more than I could have even imagined during college, but it is more concentrated in one discipline. No one expects me to spend my semester on Shakespeare and WWII and Political Economy with a side of bowling. There are no extracurricular activities taking up your time and constituting a love-hate relationship in your life. Some poor representative from a grad student union keeps on coming to our office to try to get us to care/ join and we always try to find polite ways of sharing the truth which is: “Nothing you do or say can make me add some non-essential commitment to my life. End of discussion. Unless this includes free meals, and then by all means continue.” Because free meals becomes the quest of much of your energy. This isn’t college, which means grad school has to share mental space with rent payments, grocery shopping, waiting in line at the DMV, chores, and the myriad other things that make up Adult Life Time Fillers. Your responsibility isn’t just to your student self, but also to your students. I am painfully aware that I teach students who have sacrificed to be here, who are taking out loans and working, and who will spend years paying that off. If I show up to work exhausted from two all-nighters, I waste their money and their time. But then again, nothing on this planet could make me pull an all-nighter in grad school. Nope. Not happening. I would just instead look at my long yawning deadlines and work in nap time.

Because this is grad school, not college. The responsibilities are greater, but the stress is less concentrated. It is way less fun, but you sleep so much more. I’d say it is a fair trade-off.

Any other grad students out there? Or any college students who feel I have grossly misrepresented you?

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Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Fall2014-138I know, I know, two kale recipes in a couple weeks. I’m the worst. Before you get any grand ideas about my culinary superiority, know that Sunday night I dined on Totino’s frozen pizza while enjoying a Redbox double header of Veronica Mars and Divergent. What can I say? Classy times around this home. I actually love Totino’s pizza with the fire of a thousand suns, the same intensity with which I love young adult dystopian fiction, so it was an awesome night. Fall2014-122But I do love a good kale salad. According to James, there is no such thing as a “good” kale salad, but I beg to differ. Remember this tasty one? Plus, when you are cooking for one, those big bunches of kale last a loooonnnggggg time. Hence the fact that last week I ate kale for four meals in a row. Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least the first three were awesome. Among them was this kale salad, topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds and tossed in a sweet honey vinaigrette.
Fall2014-125 Fall2014-126 A note about pomegranate seeds. They are basically the rubies of nature. As in, every time I break open a pomegranate, I think, yep, Persephone was right — totally worth having to stay camped out in the Underworld as the bride of that creepy old Hades. Yes, I realize that may come across as a little Stockholm syndrome-ish to you, and yes, I realize I am slightly butchering the myth and my fellow classical liberal arts college graduates are probably writhing in pain at my oversight. But seriously: those seeds are beautiful.  What was not quite as cool was the crimson splatter that is now all over my white t-shirt. I did such a good job getting out the seeds with this method, but alas, my initial chop was overzealous. Cue pomegranate death stain. Fall2014-128 A note about pumpkin seeds. I love everything about pumpkins. I love their perfect orange color, I love pumpkin flavored everything, I love going to pumpkin patches, I love setting them all over my apartment during the fall.

I hate carving pumpkins.

And I feel guilty about it because I should like carving pumpkins, as I love all excessive displays of seasonal excitement. For years I have just done it and let my enthusiasm for parties and crafts try to win me over. But I hate carving pumpkins and I am finally brave enough to admit it: Hi, my name’s Hannah, and I’m going to stop pretending like it is fun to fight for an hour with a dull knife and hard pumpkin. Luckily, I think that this whole pumpkin painting craze is catching steam so I can continue to be invited to autumnal parties. As much as I hate carving pumpkins, I love eating roasted pumpkin seeds. That’s why it is so frustrating that you have to struggle through the pumpkin carving to get those tasty seeds. Thus, for you ambitious squirrels out there, feel free to roast your own seeds. As for me and my house, we shall purchase ours roasted and salted at Aldi.

Fall2014-131Do you ever read food blogs and wonder how everything looks so perfect and well lit and beautiful? I do. Especially since there is exactly 3 square feet of counter space in my entire kitchen, broken up into two counters. That means that behind the scenes of this…
Fall2014-139… is this. A giant mess that is infinitely unbloggable, and must therefore be blogged to add some reality to the internet. Hashtag live authentically. Because #liveauthentic is the grammatically incorrect and unrealistic version. Put that in your  #darlingweekend. #ispendtoomuchtimetryingtofigureouthowhashtagsrelatetopictures
Fall2014-133Sorry, where did that rant come from? Oh yes, the inordinate amount of time I squandered on Instagram this week in an effort to escape from the book I was reading for my PhD exams. Hashtag too boring to gram. Anyways, may you go forth and make this tasty fall salad.

Over and out. Fall2014-140Autumn Kale Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

  • kale, stems removed and torn small
  • pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted.
  • pomegranate seeds
  • goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • grainy dijon mustard
  • honey
  1. There are no precise measurements for this salad. Just remember that kale will shrink down and toss on as many toppings as you desire.
  2. To make dressing, mix oil, vinegar, mustard and honey until emulsified. I usually do a glug or two of olive oil, a glug of balsamic (Smitten Kitchen convinced me that a glug is a totally acceptable measurement), a spoonful of mustard and a spoonful of honey. Whisk.
  3. Dump dressing on kale and massage until the kale has diminished in volume by about a third.
  4. Toss in seeds and top with goat cheese.
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36 hours.

Last weekend I got to have James home for a whopping 36 hours. It was almost a much shorter visit, if that’s even possible, thanks all flights being delayed during Chicago layovers. I was super adult-like when James called to say he might have to wait and fly out on Saturday, crying and yelling angry declarations about calling Southwest and insisting that they let planes take off. My fury was not needed in the end and James rolled into town around 3am Saturday morning for a wild 36 hours in the city. And by wild, I mean we slept in, took a walk to enjoy that amazing autumn weather and enjoyed chicken tortilla soup at home Saturday night. Wild times around our home. Mostly we just whispered sweet nothings to each other, a smattering of which are below for your enjoyment.

Untitled-1James: “How come every paper you write ends up being about a harem? You are going to be the only person with a PhD who only knows about 4 things.”

Hannah: “That is basically the definition of a PhD, and I just really like harems.”


James: “That’s ridiculous. Chicken never made anyone fat.”

Hannah: “I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to America.”


James: “Hi, my name’s Hannah, and I haven’t Instagrammed in 4 days. Hiiiiiiiii Hannah…. I’m just going to make the same face in this one that I make in all the others.”


James: “Hannah- get off the grass. Sidewalks are what separate us from the animals.”


In other really exciting and important weekend news: I learned voice dictation on my cell phone (which means I learned that you can press that microphone button.. technological I am not) and spent a long time staring at my forehead debating if I should go back down the bangs route. I know I will regret it when they are all up in my face… but it’s like the siren song I can’t resist.

 Hope your weekends were all equally eventful, exciting, and full of profound wisdom.


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