Tripoli, Libya - 08/11. Photo by Jonathan Pedneault. High resolution version available on

Medill Remembers: James Foley

Tripoli, Libya - 08/11. Photo by Jonathan Pedneault. High resolution version available on
Tripoli, Libya – 08/11. Photo by Jonathan Pedneault. High resolution version available on

By the time my 4th  and final quarter at Medill rolled around, I was almost fully out of steam. The capstone project for my magazine emphasis was zapping what little energy I had left, and I was completely burnt out on the idea of being a journalist, let alone being a writer. I had my eyes set firmly on the prize of post-grad school employment here in Seattle, and coasted along in any class not related to my capstone project.  One day, in my global journalism class, our instructor announced we’d be receiving a visit from James Foley, a Medill graduate and freelance international journalist who’d recently been released from 44 days in captivity, held by supporters of Gaddafi with three other Western journalists.

Right after James was kidnapped, there’d been quite a bit of chatter about him in class and a handful of vigils outside the main Medill building. Everyone had positive things to say about him. Still, I’d read “My War Gone By, I Miss It So,” and was fully expecting to meet some wizened, gimlet-eyed, adrenaline junkie who would be unimpressed by the prospect of meeting a room full of would-be journalists (and me). And that is absolutely not who wandered into our classroom, that late spring evening. James arrived with no fanfare, just sort of appeared in the doorway (a friend and I also remarked at how good looking he was, especially in spite of the ordeal he’d been through). Our instructor practically had to strong arm James into sitting in the place of honor at the head of our communal table. For the next hour and change, James told us stories of his work before Medill, at Medill, and after Medill. He detailed his time in captivity in Libya, showing us the diary he’d kept by writing on the insides of discarded cigarettes boxes. He answered all of our silly questions, and was patient and kind. He talked to us about his friend and colleague Anton Hammerl, who was killed during a gunfight when the group was captured in Libya, and the foundation that had been set up to honor his slain friend’s memory.

James handed out t-shirts that his family and friends had made during his capture—white, with a blue graffiti design and the words “Free Foley” scrawled across the front and “” printed on the back. The website had been transformed into a portal in memory of Anton Hammerl, including fundraising efforts to support Hammerl’s family, and he encouraged us to wear the shirts and spread awareness. After class, we all headed to a restaurant in Evanston and had dinner, and I was struck at his easy manner given what he had endured less than a month before. A couple days after he visited our class, James wrote an email to our class to say thank you–which was remarkable in and of itself. His generosity of spirit and passion for his profession—not as an adrenaline junkie as so many war correspondents are said to be, but as someone who believed what he was doing was a service that society needed was evident, and he was everything you’d hope to find in a journalist who specialized in conflict reporting. I lack the mettle and fortitude necessary to be a war correspondent, but his talk reminded me of the power of the written word, and though it took a different route than either of my newswriting instructors would have liked (sorry, Steve, Melissa, and Susan), I’m still writing.

After graduation, I moved back to Seattle, and somehow, amongst all the Northwestern gear I’d collected, I still had the Free Foley shirt. Last summer, while packing for a trip to California, I’d been reminded that James had been captured again, and decided to bring the Free Foley shirt with me to wear on long walks around the cities I was visiting, my own one woman vigil. So, when the news of his brutal murder at the hands of ISIS appeared in my Twitter feed, the shirt was with me, serving as a devastating totem of what was lost at the hands of vicious terrorists. Because I never, ever delete email from my gmail account, I immediately searched through my mail to find the thank you note James wrote after he visited our class. His words were directed at us, but they apply to him as well.

“Your generosity and inquisitiveness and of course passion, were inspiring beyond a typical sharing experience for me. It’s exciting just to think of what truths you can share with the world. It’s yours to tell.”

Rest in Peace, James. And thank you for helping to tell the stories and truths that needed to be told.

To learn more about James Foley’s life and legacy, visit the James W. Foley Foundation.

Sweetness: Seattle Summers

I’m a summer baby. Born on one of the hottest days of the year (in…1984), I think my mind and body have just always been optimized for maximum vitamin D absorption. Which is why Seattle winters can really get to me. But then…Seattle summers. Those keep me here and they are, quite frankly, perfect. It’s a common refrain amongst everyone from Uber drivers to the most devout pluviophiles who shake their fist at the sun if it is out for too many consecutive days–there is no more beautiful place than Seattle in the summer. After nine solid months of gray, misty days, the omnipresent evergreen trees emerge from a thick fog into  dazzling, sapphire colored skies. Seattle is flanked by mountains on either side, and water at almost every turn, and on a clear day, it feels like you can see forever. Or, the mountain, when it’s out. And in addition to the natural beauty, this city of quiet, sometimes very serious seeming people, opens up, and we all turn into human sunflowers, craning our heads toward the sun. The energy is palpable, and it’s why companies bring new recruits here during the summer.

Photo: Robert Wade from 2014 #SAMRemix
Photo: Robert Wade from 2014 #SAMRemix

So for that long, gorgeous stretch of sunny days between July 5th and mid-September (though, admittedly, this year’s summer started in early June), it’s important to take advantage of every possible hour of time outside. Wring every drop of vitamin D from the long summer days, and take advantage of the city’s amazing assortment of outdoor activities, my favorite of which are the events hosted by Seattle Art Museum at their Olympic Sculpture Park.

Back in March, my sister and I went to a SAM Remix at the Seattle Art Museum. Because this is Seattle, I expected the usual mix of cargo short clad Amazon and Microsoft employees, pondering the meaning of contemporary art in respectful silence. Instead…well, in addition to the usual suspects, there was a dazzling array of bright young things and an energy I’ve never felt at an event in Seattle, a quick hit of Seattle Summer magic for one early spring evening. There was a DJ, dance floor, people actually dancing, great drinks, and access to all the art on display at SAM. And, of course, being able to support my hometown art museum.

So, I was super excited to hear that there will be a SAM Remix on August 21st at the Olympic Sculpture Park, one of my favorite parks in the city. I’ll be guest tweeting from the iHeartSAM Twitter account, but if you’re in town, use the code twitterremix0821 for $5 off adult event tickets. If you need me, you can find me grinning like a small child, absorbing all the energy around–solar and/or people-based–in the hopes it will sustain me in between summers.


The Bachelorette: For the Right Reasons

430.1x1I cannot believe this season is over. It feels like there have been four rose ceremonies, total, and I feel robbed of the experience of hometown dates. Will someone explain to me why they all met in Utah? Does Kaitlyn only get one exit visa a year? Anyways, on to the actual FINAL EPISODE. We meet Kaitlyn and her family in a beautiful, oceanside Luxury American Express Black Card Airbnb that would be an excellent second version of Valtrex Manor. Kaitlyn tells her family that she had sex with both Nick and WRG and I…is this a normal thing? I would rather have my teeth pulled “The Americans” style than tell either of my parents anything about my sex life. Like, isn’t the assumption that two consenting adults are doing the nasty? Why must you tell your parents? ICK.




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The Bachelorette: Best. Sleepover. Ever.

1200.2x1Looking back on this season, I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t have some sort of drinking game prepared. I mean, it would’ve been based purely around the word “intimate” as a catch-all for everything that goes on below the neck between two consenting adults. I’d have renal failure by now for sure, but it would’ve been quite the ride. In any case, we pick up where we left off last week, with Walmart Ryan Gosling confronting Nick, the “dirt” that collects between your toes when you wear flip flops while walking through any downtown area in the middle of the summer. Nick brings up the “eskimo brothers” story again and I have some real questions about the producers of this show—Kaitlyn is forced to say “intimate” instead of “sex,” we cannot see tampons inserted on a dummy, but Nick is allowed to repeatedly say something I am absolutely terrified to look up on Urban Dictionary.

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The Bachelorette: To Having the Craic

d22eba20-ef65-0132-f0ca-0ed54733f8f5I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from Happy Hour Monday night, and while I won’t say what exactly I purchased, the checker said “ooh, you’re having a little party.” I leaned in conspiratorially, glancing to my left to be sure that none of the gluten and reality TV eschewing Whole Foods shoppers could hear me say “I’m going home to watch The Bachelorette.

“OMG!” she exclaimed, and then quickly clapped a hand over her mouth. We whispered theories about Kaitlyn and Nick and Walmart Ryan Gosling and it was a delicious break from my shameful solo viewing of this show. The checker said she’d have to wait until Tuesday night to watch, but would be following my meal plan (okay fine, pretzels, Theo Dark Chocolate, and Framboise Lambic beer) for viewing.

And so I rolled into this viewing on amazing high, geared up for the BIG REVEAL. We start this episode with Kaitlyn staring “pensively” outside the ruins of a castle as she contemplates revealing her secret. Kaitlyn and Ben go to a beautiful island and play hide and go seek in the ruins of another castle. They make out, Kaitlyn says it feels good and it feels right, blah blah blah when is the big reveal? Next, Kaitlyn and Ben H. (AKA Lesser Ben, #bringbackbenz) head off to a cozy nook to discuss their feelings and whether or not Ben is loveable. The dates this season have been decidedly boring and run of the mill—more romantic comedy set in Europe than Hunger Games Dating Show dares as in seasons past—I would very much love a Pinterest board of all the places Kaitlyn visited. During their heart to heart, Kaitlyn asks Ben if he is a virgin, then the scene cuts away to Walmart Ryan Gosling and Bargain Bin Josh Hartnett and then back to Kaitlyn again. Honestly, would they cast a man virgin on this show? A real virgin, not a born again virgin like Sean (admirable though it may be to reclaim your virginity, it does not make you an actual virgin).

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The Bachelorette: This Changes Everything

430.1x1I must begin this recap by saying I am in a terrible mood. As I write this, it is approximately 1,000 degrees in my un-air conditioned, pre-war apartment. My dog is currently sprawled on the bathroom floor, relishing the cool, porcelain tile. And I am upset with myself because in addition to the fact that I decided to cook an actual dinner on an actual stove in this heat, I also stupidly decided to take a peek at Twitter while The Bachelorette was airing on the East Coast. And lo, the news I bring you is sad, and yet…not entirely unexpected. That’s right. Beloved normal person Chris Evans, AKA Ben Z. has been eliminated. Honestly, I have no other reason to continue watching this high production value Valtrex ad other than inertia. He was my favorite, favorite. Like, genuinely. He seemed like a good guy. Who is there left to root for?

But first, before the saddest of eliminations, we pick up where we left off last week, with Walmart Ryan Gosling confronting Kaitlyn about her extracurricular activities with Nick. I don’t think Kaitlyn sleeping with one of the contestants is a big deal, because I don’t actually know anyone in real life who waited until their honeymoon to “do the deed.” But I do think it’s shitty to sleep with someone as fundamentally untrustworthy as Nick, and it is my vain hope that when Walmart Ryan Gosling eventually finds out the truth, he will be upset not over the act of having sex but because Nick is such a POS. Kaitlyn discusses how difficult it is to have such deep feelings for multiple people and not wanting to hurt anyone, and I do feel genuinely bad for her because that can’t be easy and she seems legitimately sad.

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My sunny summer saturday must haves.

Friday Five: Sunny Summer Day Edition

My sunny summer saturday must haves.
My sunny summer saturday must haves.

I am a summer baby. I was born on a sweltering hot day in early August, and my earliest memories involve running through oscillating sprinklers in my grandma’s front yard, and sneaking off to the side of her house where a thicket of blackberry bushes swelled with dark purple jewels of fruit. I live for summer and heat and sun and the feeling of sun warmed asphalt on bare feet long after the sun has set. Fall is fine, winter is terrible, spring is Zyrtec. Summer is heaven. And because my carefree summer vacation days are long behind me, I take my weekend summer days very, very seriously. Here are my must haves.

1. Salt Water Sandals

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and my generation’s very specific and intense nostalgia, I am now able to wear my favorite childhood shoe as an adult.

2. Acacia Sunscreen

I have come to grips with the freckles on my face, but I don’t really want any more, so when I went to Hawaii in April, I decided to invest in some heavy duty sunscreen. The Acacia Sunscreen I purchased at The Royal Hawaiian’s Rebecca Beach store is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it did provide weightless, total, and lasting coverage. And it’s odorless.

3. Rainier Cherries

My 2nd favorite summer fruit, after blackberries? Rainier Cherries. Best if purchased local (meaning, here, in Washington) and organic, these taste like summer.

4. Summer Read: Oh! You Pretty Things

Classed as a summer read, this rapier sharp book is worthy of your attention both on and off the beach. It details the life of a twentysomething Hollywood personal assistant and all the trials and tribulations that entails, with exploration of the pitfalls of female friendships, and even a little romance.

5. Kate Spade Le Pavilion Wireless Headphones

These were a Christmas gift and I love them to pieces–the battery life could be better, but they are light, provide excellent sound, and perhaps most importantly, they have polka dots. What more can you ask for in a headphone?

What are your summer must haves?


The Bachelorette: I Want a Rose So Bad I Would Pull My Own Tooth

Remember the Alamo, The Revenge

Our episode picks up in San Antonio, Texas with the men reflecting about how little 1:1 time Ian received with Kaitlyn. Not sure how I missed Nick and his Howdy Doody bow-tie last week, but he and his smarmy face say that he hopes Ian doesn’t insult Kaitlyn. Ian says he came to the show to find love and to find a wife and not to be around men making poop and fart jokes. And it was sweet and sad, until he said that Kaitlyn is shallow, brings up “having her field plowed” (alluding to the joke she made when she first met Chris, Hamster King of Iowa). Ian makes some valid points but then immediately negates every last one of them with his attitude and his arrogance. Why even say these things to her? Why not just leave and voice these opinions in the talking head/post-rejection interview? Nothing is accomplished, Ian gets up and walks away, and he comes off terribly. It’s possible to tell other people that you are intelligent and multi-faceted without also putting them down. You could go the classy, Charlene route. When Charlene was confronted with Juany Pabs, who may have been dumber than Chris, Hamster King of Iowa, she let him down gently by saying there was no intellectual connection. But Ian. Oh, Ian. Last black dude standing. If you were as self-aware as you claim to be, you would know that every single thing you said makes you look like a dick instead of making Kaitlyn look easy or dumb or shallow.

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Finished product!

Sweetness: Rosé Sangria

I imagine having me as a friend could be pretty difficult at times. I’m incredibly hard to read, my sense of humor is basically sarcasm 60% of the time, and I expect instant responses to my text messages. But, one of the many upsides to having me as a friend is my love of bringing delicious booze to social gatherings. Last month, I discovered (read: Googled) this recipe for Rosé Sangria and it is…amazing. I know, I know, rosé is a wine for teenagers and young, urban dwelling women. But I can’t help it. I love it. I suffer from insane post-red wine headaches, and though rosé is, you know, a shade of red, the headaches seem less catastrophic. And because I only drink it in the summer, drinking it instantly gives me that heady anything-is-possible-but-omg-we-need-to-do-that-right-now-because-summer-is-only-2-months-in-Seattle feeling.

I whipped up a batch to bring along to a rooftop get together last month, and it was gone in two seconds flat, so I highly recommend doubling (or even tripling) the recipe if you’re making it for a crowd. It’s easy to drink, not too sweet, and includes all sorts of delicious seasonal fruit. Cheers to you, David Lebovitz, and Happy First Weekend of Summer/Day Drinking Season! And to all my friends–here’s what I’ll be bringing to all the parties I attend this summer. You’re welcome.


I washed these after I took the picture.
I washed these after I took the picture.


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The Bachelorette: We Have Such a Great Connection…

The episode begins with Nick entering the dudepartment and enduring some actually sane, logical questions about Nick’s motivations for being on the show—including the fact that he was hanging out with Andi a couple weeks before the season began filming, and that all his antics make him seem like a fame/Bachelorette-seeking d-bag. Farmer Josh, bless him, says “is she just a cool chick or an amazing woman to you?” And my heart grew 10 sizes. He will eventually get kicked off the show, but somewhere in America’s heartland is an amazing woman waiting to be swept away by his awesomeness. Nick holds up to their questioning pretty well, and the dudes remain skeptical.

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