Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's what happened, the short version that doesn't require stories or details or too much personal information...buy me coffee or something if you want the good parts.

  • 31,595 airline miles flown (seriously, that's a lot I think)
  • Five states (New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Washington)
  • 28 different airplanes
  • 10 cancelled flights (eight of which happened to be in the same week)
  • 14 layovers at DFW
  • Nine Columbia classes with 24 credits
  • At least two dozen hospital visits (none of them for me)
  • One certification exam and qualifying paper completed (kind of a big deal)
  • Nine Broadway shows, plus two trips to Broadway in Bryant Park
  • One wedding (also not for me, but also kind of a big deal)
  • 10 different weekend visitors to Hotel Katie and the Big Apple
  • One trip to the top of the Empire State Building (only one?  totally slacking this year)
  • A dozen or so new celebrity "friends"
  • 103 posts on {the ivy project}
  • First cross-country flight experience (it's a long way out west, people)
  • One major fire in my apartment building
  • Three movies filmed on my block
  • One major hurricane (missed the whole thing), tornado NYC (in which I taught tornado survival lessons), and my first Nor'easter
  • Nine truly spectacular New Yorker friends
And now for some photo highlights of the year that was...

Even still, I'm ready for 2013.  Now about those resolutions...

What's Next, New York?

Monday, December 17, 2012


{the ivy project} got interactive.  Check out the survey over there in the right sidebar.

Here's the deal.  My friends and I really like each other a whole bunch.  Not sure we can live without each other in our lives.  Definitely cannot work without each other.  But really, how much do we work?  It's all Central Perk and Friends and lots of funny stories.  So clearly we have to make the next move together.  Anyone looking to hire six or seven people with a variety of degree subjects and res life experience?  We're a very well-rounded group...English Ed, Adult Learning and Leadership, Occupational Therapy, School Counseling Psychology, International Affairs, Classic Lit, etc.  Together we made a list of cities and decided majority ruled.  Now, clearly this isn't really happening, but it's a nice thought, you know?

So here's your chance, blog friends.  What do you think?  What's next, New York?

Grown Up Christmas List

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Well done Saturday Night Live...well done.

This morning I heard a Meet the Press commercial use the words "Learning in Tragedy" to reference an upcoming show.  It caught my attention because that is the beginning of my dissertation title (the rest of my title is way boring, trust me).  But I wonder how much we...as a nation, as educators, as lawmakers...will learn from it that really makes a difference.  And the Today Show anchor said that there aren't many people who truly understand what it's like when a typical day at school turns to violence.  But there are a few who do.

One of the reporters asked a school security specialist if there was anything parents should be concerned about in sending their kids to school tomorrow.  And my first thought was that they should be and will be worried about everything.  But the thing is...it's a very different world than what my parents experienced in school or what my grandparents knew sending their kids to school.  I'm guessing my dad's parents worried about all the young men they knew who were draft age during Vietnam, and that's something that I will probably never understand.  But I'm also guessing my parents never walked across the campus of Oklahoma State University with a mental emergency plan for what actions to take if a gunman emerged on campus.  I know my grandparents never thought the possibility of mass violence in sending their kids to school or the movies.

But if you're in your twenties, it's all you know.  I was in the sixth grade in Oklahoma City during the bombing, high school during Columbine, three weeks into Baylor on September 11, and grad school for Virginia Tech.  It's a scary world out there and if you're around my age, it's all you've ever known.  Forget fire and tornado drills.  It's bomb threats and active shooter drills and lockdowns.  I don't and won't talk about it much, but when it was my campus, the baby boomers didn't understand the fear students and young staff felt...but we grew up with a fear they did not and knew what it meant when it actually happened.  And now the generation that grew up with school violence at every level are teachers and leaders in those schools...and it's still there.

So we can talk about school security and policies, and we should do everything we can to keep schools as secure as possible.  And we can talk about gun control...and we should do a whole lot more than talk about a ban on assault weapons.  But it's not about guns, not really.  I firmly believe that people should have the right to legally carry weapons to protect themselves, but I do not believe Kindergarten teachers should feel forced to carry firearms or that individuals should have military-style automatic weapons, certainly not without background checks.  What we really need to do is stop ignoring mental health issues and trusting our gut when we know something isn't quite right.  It's not everything, but it's definitely a start.  If you haven't read it, Thinking the Unthinkable is worth it.  Gun control alone won't help.  Mental health awareness alone won't help.  Security policies alone definitely won't help.  I don't know if you've noticed, but criminals do not tend to follow security procedures...they shoot their way right past security procedures.  But all of it together just might start to make a difference.

Maybe it's cheesy and it's definitely naive, but I've been out Christmas shopping and subway riding, and I just can't escape one particular song...

No more lives torn apart
Then wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list


Friday, December 14, 2012

A few years ago I swore up and down that I would not get a doctorate.  That I had no interest or desire to write a dissertation or do research.  Fine for others to do it, but it wasn't for me and never would be.  No way.  So here I am, five semesters into doctoral coursework with just two left.  I passed my exam in August.  I did the administrative paperwork.  In the midst of a tough semester personally, I put all of my emotions and energy into my qualifying paper, the second step of the certification process due February 1.  Of course, The Chief raised an overachiever, so I submitted the final draft December 1.  Which means that I'm the first in my program to be certified and officially became a doctoral candidate, instead of just a doctoral student.  Still a lot of steps left to go before someone calls me doctor...  

But I'm sitting here in my cozy little Upper West Side apartment surrounded by books about campus tragedy, with an app for building a timeline of school violence and an Institutional Review Board application open to gain approval to do my own research on crisis and tragedy on campus.  I have two tabs open for student affairs journals, since I'm hoping to submit that qualifying paper on campus tragedy for publication.  I'm writing a learning contract for what I need to accomplish in my final semester at Columbia before formally beginning my dissertation research.  Not to brag, but my very well known advisor has started treating me as the campus security and crisis response expert.  

And what I really want is to not have a legitimate reason to do this research.  

To not have my local news station broadcasting nonstop coverage of children running through an elementary school parking lot.  For the reporters I see every night on the late night news to not have to ask five year olds which way the bullets were going.  To not see pictures of panicked parents waiting for their kids.  For 20 families to have their lives and kids and happy holidays back.  For my advisor and second reader and IRB committee to have to tell me that there's not enough to go on and that I need a new topic.  

I would so gladly give up my degrees or career or cushy life in New York to not hear news stories about safe places that will never again be safe.  

I'm 29 years old...single and childless and living what is by all accounts a fantastic life in the world's greatest city.  I'm Ivy League educated and probably 18 months from earning the title "Dr." and a pretty well established higher ed career.  What I really want, more than anything, is a good man to share my good life with and have great children.  I don't know if it will happen, but I hope and pray that it will.  And I watch the news and write my research and sometimes just want to hide at home.  Sure, you could homeschool the kids and what...never take them to the mall?  or a movie?  or church?  or who knows where else?  I know just a tiny bit about what it's like when you hear that gunfire on campus.  I will spend the rest of my career in front of a college classroom or in a higher ed office.  My sister is a preschool teacher.  We go to movies and malls and church..and hope and pray that we will be safe in places that we should never have to think twice about.  

For someone who spends her days talking about the worst-case scenario, I am speechless.  And most of all, I am grateful for a God who understands the impossible.

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

Holiday in the Sky

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday in the Sky is pretty much the whole reason I moved to New York.  Well you know, that and Columbia and a lifelong dream.  But it definitely ranks near the top of list...

Now, if you're in your late twenties or early thirties, chances are you always secretly imagined that high school would be like Saved by the Bell and that college would be some mix of Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Dawson's Creek (the part when they went off to college).  If you took the leap and moved from suburban, middle-of-the-country life to big city living, I'm guessing that you had at least one moment when you thought that life in New York or wherever you landed would be just a little like Friends (or, more recently, How I Met Your Mother).  I, as someone who is obviously still 25 (wink wink), really truly sort of believed that New York twenty-something life was all Central Perk and the apartment and a group of friends who just always seems to be there.  Clearly, Zack Morris did not fall in love with me.  While I will always love Pacey Witter, the Dawson's Creek influence on my life wasn't quite like on television.  But as it turns out, this late-twenties New York life really is all about Friends.  The ones who know without asking and do silly things like get on the wrong train at 2:00 a.m. and could not possibly not be a part of each others' lives.

And the ones who throw really epic unforgettable holiday parties (conveniently hosted on the first night of Hanukkah).  Sometimes it still blows my mind that I can get all dressed up, walk across the street, take the elevator to the 17th floor, and be at a swanky When Harry Met Sally style New York City party with a spectacular skyline Empire State view.

Cause I get by with a little help from my friends...

...and this city is the best.

Back to December

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It is for real officially holiday season in New York.  And if you've never done holidays in New York, you are seriously missing out.  This is without a doubt the absolute best place in the world for Happy Hanukkahs, Merry Christmases, and ringing in a brand new year. Here's how we rang in December.

Columbia lit up College Walk.  It's my favorite.

Laura and I hit up Hell's Kitchen (it's a neighborhood, seriously) for the Teach for America alumni holiday festival.  As it turns out, it was actually a bunch of 22 year olds newbies just getting started with TFA.  Children sang holiday songs.

Even better...children sang Empire State of Mind.  Note to all men out there who might be someone I have children with someday.  Our kids will know every word to Empire State of Mind.  Right after they learn Jesus Loves Me, it's next up on the teaching list.  I mean, really...how adorable is this?

Next up?  Upper West Side birthday party for Lauren, one of my favorite New Yorker friends.  She's the best.  

Now, I've said it before, but New York is actually a surprisingly small town.  I walked into the birthday party and ran right into a friend from high school, who I probably haven't seen since high school.  Same thing happened a couple of months ago at a shop on Fifth Avenue.  Maybe there are just a lot of us ex-Panthers in the Big Apple, but it really does feel smaller than the eight million residents.  But it was a great birthday party and way to ring in December 1...that is until it was way way way late and we learned the hard way that late at night the 1 train is not the only train that stops at the 86th and Broadway station.  It's my church stop and gym stop and Cafe Lalo stop and I've never seen anything but the 1 stop at 86th, but when it's that late and you think you're so lucky to get there right as the subway is getting there, you're probably not actually that lucky.  Subways are notoriously few and far between late at night.

Which is how Dan, Claire, Laura and I ended up in Harlem at 2:00 a.m.  And that, my friends, is where the story of December 1, 2012 will now conclude.