The Bells of Notre-Dame

Morning in Paris
The city awakes
To the bells of Notre Dame
The fisherman fishes
The baker-man bakes
To the bells of Notre Dame

To the big bells as loud as the thunder
To the little bells soft as a psalm
And some say the soul of
The city’s the toll of
The bells
The bells of Notre Dame

Unfortunately, this morning the city of Paris will awake to fewer bells being rung than the one before. Notre-Dame Cathedral fell victim to fire amid renovations and while the main bells remain unharmed, the city of Paris, me, and the rest of the world mourns as this historic landmark cools to ash.

Growing up, Notre-Dame existed in my mind as a fictional sanctuary where Quasimodo spent his hermit days ringing the bells and making friends with the stone gargoyles; a place where gypsies like Esmeralda found a haven and answers to her questions; and a place where good out-weighed evil (AKA Claude Frollo – I had too many nightmares about this man squashin’ ants if you’ve seen the movie and you know what I mean).

This description may seem frivolous because my only real connection to this monument is through a Disney movie (based on a book published in 1831 by Victor Hugo that I’ve never even read) but stories like this with real meaning and historical significance (not to mention a pious link) have always captured my interest and my heart. Uh, yeah, to add to that the soundtrack from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is incredible. I really tend to connect with music that tells a story rather than one with a catchy tune. Cue Jim Croce.

It’s interesting – and kind of fateful, really. The overall themes from the story and the sentiment of the Cathedral catching on fire align with what’s going on in France and within the Catholic Church itself. Riots have plagued the streets of Paris in response to President Macron’s remarks/policies and the Catholic church is experiencing mass defamation because of the growing Catholic sex abuse crisis.

First comes chaos, then comes order. Nietzche, right? This may just be me finding meaning in something that should just be thought of pragmatically. But was it just a fire or something that signified more?

The religion of Catholicism is based on stories. Themes. Morals. Values. The Bible is a key that allows us to find meaning in life. My approach to Catholicism is personal and theological. I’m no evangelist, trust me. I am a Catholic. I am a confirmed member of the Church. I’m a realist, but I do believe. When symbols of love, sanctuary, community, faith, etc. are put in jeopardy you can see it as a tragedy, yes, but you can also see it as a sign.

Fire is a symbol of re-birth; a purifier; life, energy, change. Is this fire a symbol of regeneration during Holy Week? Just five days ahead of Jesus’ rising, crowds gathered on the streets of Paris and sang Ave Maria and watched as smoke billowed and filled the pale orange sky.

In the comments section of the New York Times piece on the event, this man summed up just about what I was thinking. 

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When I get the chance to visit Paris and witness what’s rebuilt of this historic, magnificent structure, I won’t feel let down. I believe I’ll feel hope. Because I will be in the presence of both the history and the future of Catholicism and Notre-Dame.


On the Heart

Lately I haven’t been feeling myself. Chalk it up to seasonal depression, or perhaps, the fact that I use cooking (eating) as procrastination and I’m getting fat. And in that case, my procrastination could be seen as a double-edged sword; as a blessing or a curse. I’m getting really good at soothing my emotional-crisis cravings while slowly lining my arteries with plaque. I just really love butter. See ya in a few decades, heart disease.

All jokes aside, my family hasn’t been doing great lately in the heart department; physically and emotionally. On New Years Eve, my Papa had open heart surgery.

My Mom and I acted as his primary caretakers for the first few weeks of his recovery – a daunting task because of my lovely Nana. I say daunting not because I don’t love her, but because she’s an intense case; severely arthritic and severely stubborn. Not to mention, a severe snore-er if neglecting to use her CPAP machine. We would know. She ‘forgot’ it so we spent many sleepless nights in the same hotel room. Thank god I had my headphones.

All in all, we spent close to two weeks in Burlington, VT. Hospital – hotel – hospital – hotel. That was the routine.

My Papa, (and I guess this is why they say opposites attract), is my Nana’s polar opposite. I may have written about him before because I admire him with everything in me. Former dairy farmer, salt of the earth penny-pincher (and master investor), a jokester in his own right at 77, and the most patient man I have ever met is my Papa. The waiting room was the hardest part. A routine 4-hour surgery turned to 5 and we were getting restless. Luckily, my Aunt Pam, our comic relief and nurturer, had made the trip and was now staying with us.

As I watched my family clamour around my Papa (and yes, clamour is the right word – they’re loud), I felt real pride; the heaviest feeling in the world, besides guilt I suppose. It’s hard for me to describe what I’m feeling most of the time but this emotion I could easily identify. We were all holding it in; the fear. We were all praying. We were all in denial. But we were all strong. We were strong for each other.

He’s home now and recovering well. He’s back to some of his old tricks, but can’t drive on his own yet or go outdoors for long periods of time. Both activities he lives for, but a few more weeks and he’ll be himself again – just with a cleaned-out, fully functional heart.

I had to go back to school after winter break and it broke my heart to leave. My Mom keeps me updated (and she wants to rip her hair out 24/7. I won’t go there), but there’s nothing like being there. Being home.

I just wonder what home will look like to me when I’m 77. Who will my heart be?



Blood Of My Blood: My Obsession with

I had to start this post off with a Game Of Thrones reference. ‘Blood of my blood’, if you’re familiar with the show, is a reference to the Dothraki saying between a Khal and his blood-riders. (6 seasons later, I’m still mourning Khal Drogo. RIP.) It’s a term used to symbolize complete and utter loyalty. In other words, ‘blood of my blood’ means family.

Let’s face it. We all want to feel a connection with the people that came before us. What was their life like? What did they do for a living? When did they get married? How many children did they have? Where did they live? How did they cope with what was going on in the world at the time? I could go on and on. For me, and I’m guessing for most of us, the question really is: how are we alike? 

In this article by Dierdre Foley Mendelsson, Why are Americans Mad about Geneology?, she explores the phenomenon. Behind gardening, researching genealogy has become one of the top American at-home hobbies. Why? “We’re a massive, mobile nation, a nation of immigrants and assimilants, still lacking a robust sense of history, and if nothing else the surprise of six degrees of separation makes us feel less alone.” Her explanation does make sense.

Researching our genealogical line is a modern privilege. Technology like makes it SO much easier than ever before to find our ancestors through real, true evidence. The site offers hints and these hints can be added to your family tree if found accurate. Hints can be documents like birth records, death records, newspaper clippings, censuses, pictures, and links to other member’s trees that have similar information that can help solidify that hunch that you are, in fact, related to a certain individual and even resemble them in a certain way.

Hints aren’t the only way you can find your blood-riders on the site. offers DNA tests. I know this is old news (I’ve seen the commercials, too), but as someone who’s had the opportunity to test three of my close family members DNA (my Dad and both of my grandparents on my Mom’s side), I can attest to the reliability of the tests. The DNA also links you to others (distant relatives) on the site that have made their results visible, which allows you to confirm or deny any assumptions you could have about your biological link to some of the ancestors in your tree.

Most recently, my Dad’s DNA was updated as a result of a mass influx of more samples due to the site’s success. More samples = more accuracy. His DNA report changed dramatically as a result, and oui oui, he was more French than we originally thought! This DNA aligned with the research we’d done up his family tree, so I knew I could trust its accuracy.

Even the names we choose to name our children may hold more significance than thought previously. For instance, I was named after my great-grandmother Amelia on my Mom’s side. After doing some research on my Dad’s, I discovered another Amelia, my great-great-grandmother Sarah’s sister.

I also indulge in the PBS show Finding Your Roots (with Henry Louis Gates Jr.). I told you I was obsessed. The show follows well-known celebrities as they unearth their familial histories and even debunk some of their long-held beliefs about their heritage. The host Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University professor, accomplished filmmaker and journalist, and his web of connections within the historical academic community analyze DNA and historical records of ancestors of notable names like Susan Sarandon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tina Fey, Larry David, and my favorite lawmaker of the great state of Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders, among others.

It’s good TV. If you’re anything like me, a ride-or-die fan of Law & Order SVU, Forensic Files48 Hours Mystery, (or just good ol’ Snapped on Oxygen), you love a mystery. I love the drama of it all. Incredible lineage is discovered, long-held secrets are unearthed, and even seemingly bad revelations in the series are given new light which somehow leads each episode ending on an uplifting note.

If I’ve learned anything from my own research and this show, it’s this. Researching heritage can be a lot to emotionally process. It’s important to remember that these people (your people) were just that: people. They were dealt their cards just like we were dealt ours. And we may be blood-related, but we are not our ancestors. We have the chance to not be like the worst of ’em, but be like the best of ’em.

My Love Affair: New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut’

Welcome to one of my many obsessions, sis. NYMag’s ‘The Cut’: a platform created and written by women, for women. Their ‘About Me’ page is as eloquent and spot-on as any I would have ever attempted to write;

“Welcome to the premier destination for women with stylish minds. No matter the subject, we address our readers’ lives head on with generous wit, honesty, and power. We are in a dynamic conversation with women about the issues that matter to them most — politics, feminism, work, money, relationships, mental health, fashion and issues relating to equality.

A woman with a stylish mind.

By reading ‘The Cut’ on the daily, I become a woman with a stylish mind. The women of ‘The Cut’; Madeleine AggelerAmanda Arnold, Kelly Conaboy, Allison P. Davis, Katie Heaney, Gabriella PaiellaLisa RyanAnna Silman, Erica Smith, Sarah SpellingsEdith Zimmerman, Hayley Schueneman, Opheli Garcia Lawler, Ann FriedmanHeather Havrilesky, Cathy Horyn, Maureen O’ConnorRebecca TraisterDiana TsuiSarah NechamkinIndya BrownLindsay PeoplesEmilia PetrarcaJen GannKathleen Hou, Liane Radel, Catie L’Heureux, Callie Beusman, Melissa DahlIzzy Grinspan, Ruth Spencer, Molly Fischer, Dora Fung, Rebecca Ramsey, and of course, Stella Bugbee, have made a tremendous impact on how I see modern news in the eyes of the modern woman.

Everything I want to hear or ever hope to hear is accessible on one platform. The articles feel as though my friends and I’ve written them – and the headlines are even better. A look into any of mine and my girlfriends’ group chats and you’d see something akin to one of their most recent headlines;

16 Fancy Pajamas You Can Wear to Parties

Archaeologists Discover Remains of Ancient Hypebeast


and my personal favorite at the moment: The Grinch Is… Totally Kind of Hot?

Not gonna lie, my girl Meg would say the same. The consistent practice of using modern language (i.e. words like “hypebeast”) in every article posted resonates with the new generation (me n my girlfrens) and allows for a certain un-guarded approachableness that welcomes conversation and contribution. In other words, girl talk.


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“Our stories are organized around four categories: Style, Self, Culture, and Power — words that give us a framework for what it means to be a woman moving forward in the world today. Each one informs the other. After all, a woman with a stylish mind poses a real threat to every industry she enters.”

My goal? To be a real threat. The Cut is helping me get there.

The Dating Paper

In my second-to-last semester of college, I’m fulfilling one of my basic requirements by taking the course: Christian Marriage. Not like I’m in a hurry or anything… but relationships, in general, interest me. The way humans form bonds (that sometimes last a lifetime) is comforting, whether those bonds seem fateful and simple or incredibly complex.

This course is discussion-based so there’s a lot of freedom within the classroom. It’s a safe place. We trust each other and there’s no judgment so people tend to talk freely about sexuality, their past relationships, and their perspectives on marriage and religion. In class so far we’ve been discussing the early origins of marriage within religion, what sexuality really means, and we even sat down with two married professors to listen to their love story.

This week, however, was a little different. Our reading was on dating and hook-up culture and our first assignment is to interview 4 friends; two male, two female, on their thoughts on dating. Overall, the task was pretty broad, but I brought specific questions to the table and sat down with some of my closest friends.

Here are my list of prepared questions:

  1. Are you in a relationship currently? / When were you last in a relationship?
  2. How long did this relationship last?
  3. When was your last date?
  4. How was it?
  5. What did you do?
  6. Did you enjoy it? Explain.
  7. What was important to you about the last person you dated? What do you seek in a partner?
  8. Aristotle’s philosophy was that there were 3 specific types of ‘friendship’. Which would you describe your relationship as?
    1. Utility – “I need you.”
    2. Pleasure – “I want you.”
    3. Virtue – “We have the same values.”
  9. Are you religious?
  10. Does/Did sex play a role in your relationship?
  11. What are your thoughts on the dating landscape today?
  12. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about dating?
  13. What does dating mean to you?
  14. Would you ever like to get married?


The first of my friends to be interviewed was probably the most honest – with me and herself. Her most previous relationship of four months ended last March. Her last date was dinner on Valentine’s Day. All was well… because she’d had a few glasses of wine.  I asked her where her head was at that moment in her relationship. “At that moment I was back and forth with myself. I didn’t know what to do.”

“He kept doing things I hated. He answered his phone in the middle of dinner. I remember he said that he doesn’t like wine because he thinks they’re all the same. For some reason that really bothered me. It just screamed immaturity and finally, I was like… Huh. Maybe this really isn’t right.”

As one of her best friends, I can attest to what an asshole he was. He just straight up sucked. They’d argue over their personal politics, he’d talk over and never listen to her, and he was inconsiderate to every feeling she’d ever had within their short-lived ‘relationship’. Describing him in 1 word: arrogance.

The Infamous ‘Talking’ Stage

She started to question her feelings. I then asked her what initially drew her to her past boyfriend. I mean, he had to have a few redeeming qualities that made her fall for him, right? “Well at first, I was attracted to his looks. And, he was really nice to me. He pursued me for a while and went out of his way to talk to me at the bar. He was only focused on me and I wasn’t used to that. We talked for a few weeks and spent some time together. He asked me to his lacrosse formal. I was like, ‘I hate this weird talking stage.’ And he was like, ‘Well, we can just skip that. I really like you. Let’s just date.’ And that’s how it happened.”

Ah, modern romance. How rare is it that one skips the confusing relationship limbo of ‘talking’ that plagues so many of us?

“What do you think about the “talking” phase of a relationship?” A general consensus arose between quickly that the talking phase is important (one friend even said absolutely necessary) at the beginning of a possible relationship simply because you’re not sure if your personalities mesh until you actually spend a little time together. However, extending past a month of “talking” is just an excuse not to commit.

A Greek Philosopher’s Take

I asked about Aristotle’s philosophy, “Aristotle’s distinguishes three characteristics that generate friendship, but he maintains that only the third is the perfect type. The first type is utility. People come together and become friends because they are mutually advantageous to one another. The second type is the friendship of pleasure. Like friendships founded on utility, these relationships are often unstable. (…) The perfect kind of friendship according to Aristotle is friendship founded on virtue. These relationships are stable since they are founded on the person’s character and character does not change quickly or often. (…) Among the most important (characteristics) are: desiring the good of the other, finding pleasure in the other, and being able to completely trust the other.”

When asking this question, I didn’t specify to my friends on which of the three Aristotle deemed the perfect fit. Friend #1 answered, “At first, it was pleasure and then it moved to utility. I lost interest in him and I didn’t realize it until I realized I only kept him around to do things for me.”

Friend #2, when asked replied simply, “pleasure.” And when I further explained each; utility, pleasure, and virtue, she went,

“Oh, yeah, we definitely don’t really have the same values on love. He doesn’t even believe in it. He doesn’t believe in being with one person forever either. Why am I still with him again?”


She and her boyfriend have been together for about a year and a half. Their last date was in August because he just recently graduated and they’re trying to make their relationship work long-distance (they’re from different states). They went to dinner, chatted normally, and enjoyed each other’s rare company.

“When we first started talking, he was very different than how he is now. He was very funny, very forward, he would ask to do things with me and hang out a lot. He told me I was beautiful. Now, it’s not really like that.”

And when asked what dating meant to her, she responded ironically, “Dating is figuring out who you want to be with for the rest of your life.” Although stuck between letting go of this relationship and holding onto it by a thread, she also sees dating positively, “I’m definitely optimistic. Hopeful.”

The Man’s Perspective

I got way more out of my girlfriends than my guys, but the men were also really insightful a lot more forthcoming than I expected. Ultimately, they looked for the same things in their significant others as the girls did. They felt sex played a bigger part in their relationships and they both categorized their relationships in the Aristotle’s pleasure category. Not surprising, but still valid.

There was a moment each of my male friends got quite heated and that was when I asked about our dating landscape in today’s society.

“I think people are trying too hard to make dating something it’s not. There’s too much comparison and social media almost makes things awkward. There are so many ways to communicate and a lot out there to misinterpret. Feelings end up getting hurt for no reason and it ends up hurting your relationship.”

Why Did I Even Do That?

“Sometimes I feel guilty about a hookup because I’m like, “why did I even do that?”

The article that helped explain that feeling was one that we’d just been assigned in class: Premarital Sex in America: Data on How Young Emerging Adults Meet, Mate, and Think About Marrying, where the author describes and compares sexual regret among conservative and liberal Americans.

They state, “If you believe pornography and cohabitation and premarital sex are wrong, then you will likely feel guilty when you misstep, but at least you know where you stand. Liberals have a hard time articulating what they, in fact, believe about sex, tending to fall back on a radical tolerance that does not always square well with the emotional weight of the matter.”

Basically, this article is describing ‘loose’ liberals as morally confused – and I can relate. In America, the land of extremes, we’re either preached to about abstinence from the right or told that we can be as sexually free as we feel comfortable with from the left. Both are valid, yet the right’s agenda has a set of rules to follow and guilt that comes with breaking those rules, whereas the left’s doesn’t necessarily. There are no rules when it comes to promiscuity – you have to make them for yourself, so obviously you will misstep and more often than not your own background (religious or otherwise) will have an impact on your production of those rules.

This paper allowed me to examine a lot of what I already knew about the dating landscape of my generation – and I learned a lot about my friends, too. I almost think this assignment did them more good than it did me.

Whether our relationships work out or not, it’s always interesting to dissect the bonds we create to better understand ourselves and our significant others. Sometimes the result turns out better than others… (#2 broke up with her boyfriend shortly after our interview.)

Playlist 3: Oldies


  1. Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts
  2. Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
  3. Jolene – Dolly Parton
  4. Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
  5. Happy Together – The Turtles
  6. Photographs and Memories – Jim Croce
  7. Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles
  8. Helplessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  9. Dedicated To The One I Love – The Mamas & The Papas
  10. Everything I Own – Bread
  11. Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
  12. Hummingbird – Seals and Crofts
  13. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
  14. Ventura Highway – America
  15. White Room – Cream
  16. Tom Sawyer – Rush
  17. Under Pressure – David Bowie
  18. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin
  19. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
  20. Hotel California – Eagles
  21. Call On Me – Big Brother & The Holding Company
  22. Green-Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf
  23. Time In A Bottle – Jim Croce
  24. Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In – The 5th Dimension
  25. That’s What Friends Are For – Dionne Warwick
  26. Easy – Commodores
  27. Ben – Michael Jackson
  28. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John, Kiki Dee
  29. You Make My Dreams – Daryl Hall & John Oates
  30. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
  31. September – Earth, Wind & Fire
  32. The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  33. Rescue Me – Fontella Bass
  34. For Once In My Life – Stevie Wonder
  35. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
  36. Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head – BJ Thomas
  37. Manic Monday – The Bangles
  38. Kashmir – Led Zeppelin
  39. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  40. Dancing Queen – ABBA
  41. Kiss – Prince
  42. Day Tripper – The Beatles
  43. The Spirit of Radio – Rush
  44. Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  45. Call Me – Blondie
  46. Crazy On You – Heart
  47. What About Love – Heart
  48. People Are Strange – The Doors
  49. Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
  50. In The City – Eagles

Listen on Spotify.

Playlist 2: L-O-V-E

This playlist is one I’ve had on my Spotify forever. I often delete old playlists or shuffle music around every month or so, but this playlist remains untouched. I LOVE every one of these love songs.

  1. L-O-V-E Nat King Cole
  2. You’re Still The One – Shania Twain
  3. Love On Top – Beyonce
  4. A Sunday Kind of Love – Etta James
  5. Stand By Me – Ben E. King
  6. Love On The Brain – Rihanna
  7. Make You Feel My Love – Adele
  8. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
  9. All of Me – John Legend
  10. Your Song – Elton John
  11. At Last – Etta James
  12. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
  13. My Girl – The Temptations
  14. Killing Me Softly With His Song – Roberta Flack
  15. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
  16. Dream A Little Dream of Me – The Mamas & the Papas
  17. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
  18. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
  19. Michelle – The Beatles
  20. I’ll Be There – The Jackson 5
  21. Put Your Head on my Shoulder – Paul Anka
  22. Love For Sale – Eartha Kitt
  23. Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) – Diana Ross / Marvin Gaye
  24. The End of the World – Skeeter Davis
  25. Sh-Boom – The Chords
  26. That’s Amore – Dean Martin
  27. My Funny Valentine – Nina Simone
  28. Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley
  29. I’ll Have to Say I Love You In A Song – Jim Croce
  30. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross
  31. Who’s Lovin’ You – The Jackson 5
  32. Crazy – Patsy Cline
  33. When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
  34. This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) – Natalie Cole

Listen on Spotify.

As Uncomfortable As It Is

I’ve been struggling with sharing my blog. The feeling is akin to revealing my diary containing my deepest, darkest secrets to the world. Scary, right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about improving my online presence but I’m a pretty private person. Not only that, but at times I feel I’m not interesting enough or as though I’d never suffered through or experienced any extreme, life-altering circumstances that would be captivating enough to write about. I grew up in a rural area, in a middle-class family, the daughter of a high-school English teacher. I live a pretty normal life and I’m just trying to live and learn as I go. This thought led to me asking myself in self-depreciating doubt – why would anyone even want to read my blog or take any advice from me?

Then, I thought of all the stupid blogs I see every single day. That people actually read.

I have plenty to share. And just because I haven’t gone through something extreme doesn’t mean that I don’t offer a unique perspective.

I’ve been reading different takes from first-time bloggers and at some point they had similar fears, too. From everything I’ve read, the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be the connection they made with their followers. And, that sometimes the scariest pieces to write are the pieces that people genuinely connect with.

What I need to remember, though, is that the internet has a long-term memory. The internet’s memory is comparable to a bottlenose dolphin (they can remember their dolphin friends after 20 years apart. Beat that elephants.) That’s the scary part for me. Right now, I’m no one. But in 20 years, who will I be?

Playlist 1: SOUL SONGS

Here’s a peek into one of my personal playlists: Soul Songs. Every song on this playlist speaks to my soul; they’re soothing, passionate, and centered around love. If I’m taking a contemplative car ride, this is what I play.

  1. Butterfly – UMI
  2. Haiku – Nai Palm
  3. February 3rd – Jorja Smith
  4. Best Part (feat. H.E.R.) – Daniel Caesar
  5. Quite Like You – Andy Shauf
  6. Slipping – Eryn Allen Kane
  7. We Find Love – Daniel Caesar
  8. Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens
  9. Sweet Creature – Harry Styles
  10. Emotion – Destiny’s Child
  11. Sunrise – Norah Jones
  12. Song Cries and Amens – Grace
  13. Library Magic – The Head and the Heart
  14. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
  15. Streetcar – Daniel Caesar
  16. Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand – Leon Bridges
  17. Village – Cam

Listen on Spotify.