updates (some lists of five)

It’s been almost two weeks, and I have in progress some bigger, wordier, more essay-like posts for this blog. Lots of saved drafts and filed-away thoughts. Maybe, hopefully, soon, I will work those messy paragraphs into coherence and share them with you.

But right now making lists feels more possible. Since my last post I have encountered a lot of things–people, words, art, food, and so on. Because it is a fun categorizing challenge, and also because I am a creative writing student who has been constantly encouraged to pay attention to ways of observing other than sight, I am going to make some encountering lists according to the five senses and share them with you. Here we go.


  1. My little brother (heh, he’s almost a foot taller than I am) Ben graduate from high school! He’s awesome! Long green robes and decorated caps, just-for-pictures smiles and real smiles, out-of-town family members, the same stage I walked across once.
  2. My little sister’s home regatta. She’s incredible. And way more in shape than I will ever be.
  3. Fountains on sunny days, at Point State Park and PPG Square. Stopped at these during my Memorial Day Downtown Pittsburgh Exploration With Dad.
  4. My puppy Ody play in the water for the first time, in the lake at Presque Isle. A very good thing.

    he was happier than this picture conveys but always too active at his happiest for a picture to actually turn out well.
  5. Breathtaking textile art at the gallery at Contemporary Crafts. Some embroidery pieces that reminded me that this little thing I am teaching myself to do is art, and can be really really good art. (The cover picture for this post is a moment Ben caught of me admiring one such piece.) Ben and I found this gallery during a brother-sister Strip District adventure and it’s my favorite I’ve seen in Pittsburgh so far (which seems oddly specific, but I have been in A LOT OF ART GALLERIES during my few weeks working and exploring in the city.)


  1. The original cast recording of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. This is an electropop opera dinner theater adaptation of a small section of War and Peace, and it’s amazing, and I literally can’t believe someone thought of this because it feels even wilder than Hamilton. I am delighted by my discovery of it, though it’s been around for a while and I am not the first to wonder at its sheer inventiveness. Please just listen to the prologue.  And then Philippa Soo sounding like an angel. And then the rest of it, if you have Spotify and time.
  2. A Spotify playlist I made of upbeat showtunes and songs that remind me of happy things, entitled “LETS NOT BE SAD,” because being very far away from a lot of the people I love is hard sometimes (or all the time, but I notice it especially sometimes.)
  3. A dear friend from high school talk about the stories he has been writing; another dear friend from high school talk about finding theater all over again in college. Good conversations that felt like home, and the joy of knowing that people you love are doing things they love.
  4. The ringtone on my computer that announces an incoming Skype call. Making do with the four hundred and sixty miles between Chicago and Pittsburgh the best we can.
  5. This cover of a favorite Sara Bareilles song that came on Spotify while I was writing this post, and now I want to listen to it forever (?!) The recorded version is better than the video, I think, but still great.


  1. Salmon. A disproportionate amount of my family ordered this both times we went out for dinner during Ben’s graduation weekend. (I supposed as I was one of their number, this could also be a tasting list item, but I thought of it for this list first, and so it goes.)
  2. The perfume I used almost every day in high school, “Daisy” by Marc Jacobs, because I have some left at home and wore it a few times this past weekend and the one before. It still makes me feel like I’m surrounded by my own invisible flower garden.
  3. Chlorine and sunscreen, not a necessarily pleasant scent but happy nonetheless because it means I spent time by the apartment complex’s pool reading Northanger Abbey and jumping in for a swim every now and then.
  4. The wonderful lemony smell of my favorite green tea blend, Afternoon Delight, from a tea shop near Wheaton that I frequent like clockwork every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I bought a bag of it before I left for the summer and make a cup almost daily, and I’m putting it under smells because I like the scent of it almost as much as I like the taste, which is saying a lot.
  5. The cinnamon-and-coffee smell of the lattes I always order at a favorite hometown hangout, Coffee Culture. Site, and smell, of the first conversation from #3 in the previous list.


  1. Spaghetti carbonara, creamy and peppery, which I made for the first time all by myself last Wednesday thanks to this website.
  2. Stonyfield Organic Minty Chocolate Chip frozen yogurt. Eating as I write this post.
  3. A “Cheesy Capresey” gourmet grilled cheese from The Yard, a restaurant my dad and I tried out during our downtown exploration today. Mozzarella and tomatoes and basil and truffle oil, basically a really wonderful pizza but in sandwich form.
  4. Pancakes at Pamela’s Diner,  a Pittsburgh classic that Ben and I tried out during our day in the Strip District.

    very very good.
  5. Nectarines. My opinion on these wonderful little fruits has not changed since my last blog post.


  1. Lots of embroidery floss and fabric and needles, as I finish up stitching a mineral for Aaron (just dating-a-former-geology-major-things) and begin a rendition of the St. Genesius window that hangs in Arena Theater at Wheaton. It’s slow progress, so I like working on these while listening to Natasha… or during my Downton Abbey rewatch.

    beginnings of St. Genesius. I have about 2/3 of the outermost circle filled in now.
  2. The steering wheel of the little black car Ben and I share, which I have successfully driven all the way into Pittsburgh several times now. I am a real commuting-to-work-downtown adult, at least for the summer, complete with coffee in the cupholder.
  3. The pages of The Chosen by Chaim Potok, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and as mentioned, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Lots of powerful words from three very different authors.
  4. The ends of my hair, because I got most of it cut off when I was home one weekend and the ends of newly cut hair always  feel so soft and bouncy and good. (But also, where did all my hair go ? )
  5. Lots of letters and artwork that kind souls have created for me, because I finally hung things on my walls!

    thanks Alyssa, Rosie, Grace, Paul, Becca, Keenan, Charis, Travis, Wes, Natalie, and more.

Thanks for reading, kind friends. Pay attention to the things you encounter, and all of the ways you encounter them.





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