here’s to twentytwelve: photo summary

This year, I mean…

I can’t really summarize…

Right. Okay.

I know I am one bent to hyperbole. Trust me, I type this in full awareness of my linguistic history.


My life is revolutionarily different than this time last year. As I was snuggled in Yardley last year preparing to ring in this new year, I was a single PhD student who barely knew how do to her job. I was blissfully unaware how hard my professional life was about to become and honestly thought I knew what the year would bring. I was emailing this delightful Irishman I had been on a few dates with, but wasn’t sure where things would go once I returned to Belfast.

One year later, I am no longer single and I am typing this from that delightful Irishman’s parents’ house. John has gone from a periphery character in my Belfast life to the centerpiece of it and I could not feel more blessed. I have an Irish family who have made me feel like I’ve been around forever and pieces of a beautiful future falling into place. I am now an official Doctoral Candidate engrossed in fieldwork and loving every minute.

That is not to say the journey between those two paragraphs was delightful at all times. Au contraire, mon ami. My silence on this blog and other outlets is because this year was unspeakably challenging. I learned new levels of panic and new levels of discipline as I spent months crafting a new proposal – which was deemed worthy in the middle of November. Both families let out the breath we had been collectively holding and things began to fall into place.

So as I sit on the cusp of 2013 and I get to ring it in with my fella, I know I have much to look forward to. Weddings and vacations and laughter and adventures. Frustrations and stress and fears and fieldwork. But before we get into that, I want to pause and appreciate the year that was. So here’s the photographic summary of the year that was.

me and pennyme and suz

I started off the year with an adventure to Londontown with Penny and then journeyed off to Oxford to see Miss Suzanne! We decided to celebrate her birthday with a trip to the land of too many “w’s” (ie: Wales).

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March brought my delightful baby brother to Belfast. We explored two of the major histories of the province: the building of the Titanic and all the industries that represents and then the conflict. Mostly we were ridiculous together, which is our wont.

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And, of course, there were adventures with the MC43 crew. From board games to hockey games to random nights out, they were the first welcoming committee for the Irishman in my life.

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Easter break brought new friends and reminders of how silly beautiful this country is. John had a friend over from his Los Angeles life and we got to spend a week showing her that Ireland is the prettiest place on earth.

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While the rest of the UK was celebrating Lizzie’s Diamond Jubilee, John and I headed for Oslo, Norway for a quick city break. Fish, fjords and fun was the theme of our trip. As it came on the heels of my proposal rejection, it was the perfect time for us to have some large blocks of time for future planning.

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Summer in and around Northern Ireland meant lots of work punctuated by beautiful weather and great celebrations. We were actually graced with summer on a few brief occasions and took the opportunity to be outside as much as humanly possible. We also celebrated Penny’s Fake 40th, Muzzo’s bachelorette party, America’s birthday and I had my first girls’ weekend in Letterkenny.

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End of July meant a trip to Newcastle, England to be part of John’s baby sister’s university graduation.

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A quick trip home to ‘Murrica meant time at the Bank, a trip to Beantown with the sisters and time in Vermont to see my precious Muzzo pledge life to the man of her dreams.

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Snapshots from Autumn, clockwise: The Church in Dublin for a Donnelly family dinner, finishing up work on the dreaded diffdoc, John kitted out for Tacoma’s Halloween party (we went as tourists) and me and John at Titanic Belfast for high tea to celebrate his birthday.

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The best birthday gift anyone could have given me: my Tamale came to visit for 10 whole days! We explored Belfast, the Antrim Coast, Omagh, London and Oxford and even had time to celebrate my birthday with Belfast favorites.

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And then it was time to bring John home to meet the family! We spent 10 days in Yardley, celebrating both Christmas and Thanksgiving and spending time with family of all sorts. The visit kicked off with a wedding of my oldest friend/ former student/ pintrest goddess, Emmy. I also got to grab a bit of time with a Baylor favorite and Fiki registered his displeasure at being forced into the festive spirit.

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Before I knew it, it was time to journey to Omagh for Donnelly family Christmas – which involved a visit from Santa and a lot of Jenga. Not pictured: the obscene amount of food we consumed between Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

this and that from various weeks

So remember that time I thought I’d still have time to blog as I did my PhD? Well wasn’t that a hilarious fiction. Next week I turn in a really significant document to my journey and then I plan to return to this forum again. But again, that could be a hilarious fiction. Anyway. I wanted to throw some of these things out there. It’s bits and bobs which have been making me happy over the past month(s, possibly).

Raising a Powerful Girl from PBS

Lent is a chance to imagine a changed world from The Guardian

Happy Things Happening in Waco from Sports Illustrated

This playlist on 8Tracks

This list from Sarah Bessey

Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast from NPR

In a related note, I’ve read some really excellent books lately but they’re all part of my nerd life. If, however, you are interested in Ulster Protestantism, you must pick up Northern Protestants: An Unsettled People by Susan McKay. In an unrelated topic, if you’re interested in dystopian YA fiction, then you must pick up Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. If you’re interested in really good music which includes fiddles, you must get some stuff by the Dubliners and the Wolf Tones.


five friday favorites: february third

Welcome back, friends! Or, I suppose I should say, “hello again!” Instead of offering explanations as to my verbal absence, let’s just jump back into routine, okay? Because the best kinds of relationships are the ones where it feels like no time has passed. Thus, away we go.

1. BBC’s Sherlock; Season Two. For anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the genius of this show, I seriously implore you to do so. There are only three episodes in each season and I’m fairly sure the whole party is on Netflix. A modern update of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, the show explores shades of genius and manipulation in fascinating ways.

2. Game nights with favorites. I love movies and television and watching things with friends but after a while, you need something new to do. This term, the MC43 gang has decided to play more board games. Based on the past few weeks, this may be one of our more genius decisions.

3. As my research is much to do with women and Christianity, I am always interested in other women writing about how they navigate the maze. There are so many things I could link to here and will probably talk more about it over the next several seasons on here – but this article which appeared in the Guardian this week is intriguing. “Feminists Can Be Christians, Too by Kristin Aune

4. New Things, New Year: I talked earlier about having a bucket list for this year instead of resolutions. That theme has extended to the friend circle as we constantly nominate activities to do in Belfast that we’ve never done before. I love adventures.

5. This video, which explains where I live. You are welcome for the clarification.

january: summary

1. Lazy New Year’s Day. Went to go see ‘We Bought a Zoo’ with Sister, Mom and Ndeko, but spent most of the rest of the day in pajamas.

2. Shopping with Mom and Ndeko. Delightful.

3. Reading in front of the fireplace was most of my day, except when I had to hug my precious Ndeko “see you later”.

4. Read and wrote and snuggled with Puppy.

5. Watched some ridiculous movies and ate far too much food. Good day.

6. Big day in our wee family. Sister became a legally permanent part of us and we spent the day celebrating that reality.

7. Sister, Brother-in-Law and I had the house to ourselves. So we ordered far too much take-away food and watched ridiculous television. As we do.

8. Emailed in an essay and spent the rest of the day watching football with the family.

9. Some quick bits of nothing and visiting loved ones.

10. Last full day home for a while – so where else would I go but Long Beach Island? Had a simply delightful lunch with grandma and Mom and breathed deep the ocean air. Spent the evening snuggling with Brother and Sister.

11. Spent the last few hours in the States running errands with Mom before climbing in the car for the drive to Newark. See you in July, America. Stay Classy.

12. Landed in Belfast with no drama only to come back to MC and find that QUB had turned my electricity off. Delightful. Thankfully, Tacoma was awesome as always and let me crash in her room to steal plugs.

13. Spent the day writing a particularly hated and pointless essay, so made sure the evening was delightful. Take-away, couch, cheesy action movies, cute Boy. Done, done, done.

14. Tacoma and I found a new reality show trainwreck to get into – thank you ITV – while we enjoyed having a couch and a kitchen for the night. Thanks to Mama Cheesehead for giving us keys to her place while she’s away.

15. Headed out to Movilla to photograph a pretty cool event and spend some time with a favorite.

16. Did some work and then Tacoma and I played games, watched movies and laughed. Typical.

17. Penny returned to Belfast! So Tacoma and I played the “help Penny beat jet lag” game which always includes trips to City Center and brunch at The Other Place. I also met the Boy for a movie which turned into drinks until the wee hours. He’s inching ever closer to deserving a blog nick-name. We’ll see.

18. Penny and marathoned Sherlock and screamed at our TV several times. Flip, I cannot believe we have to wait until 2013 for new episodes of this wonder

19. Spent the day hunkered in Penny’s room waiting for Air Lingus to deliver her wayward luggage. We played Trivial Pursuit, analyzed some of the crazy in my brain and laughed.

20. Met the Boy for dinner at his place and then watched Top Gear: India and began to squeak with joy when they hit Jaipur. Gosh, I miss India.

21. I met the Boy at 12:30 and left him at 1:30 the next morning. Happy. Our day included viewings of the Underworld trilogy, which gave my Sister unspeakable joy.

22. Penny and I spent the day at Mama Cheesehead’s, making stew drinking, drinking B&Bs and enjoying championship football. I feel unbelievably bad for the Raven’s kicker.

23. A typical day in Belfast – reading, tea, dandering – ended in spending the whole night playing board games with Tacoma and Penny. Perfection.

24. Finished our marathon board game playing and the out with the Boy that evening. He certainly is becoming a re-occurring theme.

25. In what is a great example of my ridiculous life, Penny and I flew to London for a few days. After settling into our hostel, we found a pub and then dandered around Westminster to see it’s glory at night.

26. Bus tour, 221b Baker Street, a long journey to Tipperary, original Twining shop, organic gin, an adopted stout and dinner at one of Kenneth Braunaugh’s favorite places… yeah. Excellent day doesn’t even cover it.

27. After a WHIRLWIND run through the National Gallery, Penny headed back to Belfast and I boarded a bus to Oxford to see Coxswain for her birthday! We dandered and gossip and then I got to meet her people and was thrilled.

28. Coxswain and I decided that in order to properly celebrate her birthday we had to find ourselves in another country. So we headed to Wales. The evening got a little pear shaped, but we still had a class time.

29. Toured Cardiff, said ‘hi’ to The Doctor, ate lunch at a restaurant with too many “w”s and then spent the evening eating and drinking our way through Oxford. Winning.

30. Flight back to Belfast and then our first Pub Quiz of 2012. Things feel right again in Belfast.

31. Gormflaith returned! So we celebrated with lots of tea, leisurely lunch and then time introducing new friends at the Hewitt. Great way to wrap up January.



Summary: December

1: Flew to London to attend an inductionary training day at the British Library for social science post-graduates. Had a crazy conversation that reminded me I am exactly where I need to be in this world at this moment and then got to have Chipotle with a fellow Baylor Bear who works in London. Winning all around.

2: Nerd camp day #2 was not as delightful as day #1, but it was still helpful and affirming.

3: Flew back eeeeaaarly from London and then headed out to Waringstown to spend some time with the Love for Life family at Santa’s Grotto. Amazing to walk back into six-year-old relationships like no time as passed.

4: Went to Mama Cheesehead’s for the weekly football watching and got treated to snow as well!

5: Three month review with my two supervisors went surprisingly well. I am exactly where I belong.

6: Ran errands in City Centre, tracked events at Truett which you cannot talk about and spent time with favorites.

7: Dinner at a nice Indian restaurat and then drinks at a typical Belfast haunt were the activities included in date number two. Pretty perfect.

8: Couch, nice boy and Shaun of the Dead meant I was a pretty happy camper.

9: Ulster Rugby! My first match and I managed to not freeze to death. Upon returning to Mount Charles, the night got random. But a really good random.

10: Great evening at Mama Cheesehead’s with the favorites, take-away and cheesy TV. Spent most of the latter part of the evening on twitter waiting for the announcement and then screamed when it come: RG3 WON THE HEISMAN!

11: Some favorites and I gathered at the Eggletine Inn to watch the X-Factor finale which was not even a little bit surprising. But there was also some pretty amazing ham.

12: MC43 Christmas Extravanganza! “i don’t like being partitioned!” third place. fenton. fantastic dinner. perfect secret santa gifts. laughing until we cried. why yes – I do declare the mc43 christmas extravaganza to be a whopping success.

13: Exhausted for most of the day, but hit up the delightful Lisa Hannigan concert with some favorites that evening. Also got to squeeze some time in with a cute boy. Winning.

14: Amazing lunch with a cohort favorite, then the department Christmas party, then the final module of the term (where Professor Sprocket drew elephants on the board) and then some see-you-later drinks with graduating favorites. Cap of the evening in MC42 kitchen, sipping tea and chatting with my girls; great way to bid Belfast temporary adieu.

15: Belfast -> Newark -> Yardley. Traded one home for another.

16: My first morning home included Wawa coffee and time with the puppy. Perfection.

17: Drove the car and got in on the correct side. Small victories are important.

18: Annual family viewing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Yes, Brother still does a mean Grinch impression.

19: Got to break bread with the family at St. Andrews. Such a special reality.

20: Spent the day hating time zones and reading ethnographic research books.

21: Annual family viewing of White Christmas. Yes, we fast-forward through the awkward “Choreography” dance for the men of the family. We can only ask them to do so much.

22: Ran errands with Mama and tried to be productive. But who wants to read about ethnographies when they can hang out with their mom? Especially my mom who is fabulous!

23: My sister and I have become slightly obsessed with Downton Abbey – she’s newer to the addiction but no less fervent – so we watched several episodes. As always, we declared love for Dame Maggie Smith and hatred for O’Brien and Thomas.

24: Got to finally see a favorite and catch up on her wedding plans. She asked me to be a part of it and I nearly cried. Then, family dinner included duck a’lorange for me (so happy) and then Christmas Eve service included live animals. As you do. We also exchanged sibling gifts and mine spoiled me rotten. Crying too hard to say “thank you”.

25: Happy Incarnation Day!

26: The siblings and I went to see The Muppets and nearly danced with joy on the way out. Some of the best money I’ve spent in a long time. That night, Mom won the nut and my loosing streak continues.

27: Scandanavian Family Christmas! Tree lighting, carols and catch-up time with cousins I only see once a year.

28: Read some Foucault, drank some (okay, a lot) tea and snuggled with the puppy.

29: Delightful day of errand running with my mom and then settled in for the evening with the whole family to watch Baylor win the Alamo Bowl. SIC ‘EM BEARS!

30: Woke early for a few appointments and then raced to the Trenton train station to collect my precious Ndeko! So glad to have her within hugging distance, even if only for a few days.

31: Ringing in the New Year with the Yardley family, plus Ndeko and one of Brother’s best friends. Cannot wait to embrace the promise of 2012.

top tens: popular culture

I love lists and during this time of year, I especially love perusing everyone else’s summaries of the year. I offer mine because maybe I got to see or read things you didn’t or maybe to be another voice lauding a particular feat of creativity this year. Thus, without further adieu and in no specific order: my top tens of popular culture for 2011.


1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two
2. We Need to Talk About Kevin
3. Crazy, Stupid, Love
4. X-Men: First Class
5. The Help
6. The Muppets
7. Love and Other Drugs
8. Moneyball
9. Captain America: The First Avenger
10. Ides of March

podcasts (all available on iTunes)

1. “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”
2. “Hang Up and Listen”
3. “Cultural Gabfest”
4. “XX Podcast”
5. “Stuff You Should Know”
6. Guardian Book Podcast
7. “Stuff You Missed in History Class”
8. NPR Book Podcast
9. “WTF With Marc Maron”
10. “This American Life”

tv shows

1. The Big Bang Theory
2. Downton Abbey
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. Modern Family
5. The Hour
6. The Good Wife
7. Parenthood
8. TrueBlood
9. Homeland
10. Game of Thrones

As far as music and books go, sometimes I’m behind the times. So below are the top ten of each I enjoyed this year, regardless of their year of publication or release.


1. Adele
2. Mumford & Sons
3. The Avett Brothers
4. Yo-Yo Ma
5. Ingrid Michaelson
6. Lisa Hannigan
7. Dave Barnes
8. Andrew Peterson
9. Darren Criss
10. Craig Colson

books: non-fiction

1. Terror in the Name of God by Mark Jurgensmeyer
2. Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean
3. After Mandela by Alec Russell
4. The Body Project: The Tortured History of American Girls by Joan Brumberg
5. Sites of Violence, Sites of Grace: Christian Nonviolence and the Traumatized Self by Cynthia Hess
6. Bossypants by Tina Fey
7. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kailing
8. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
9. After Shock by Kent Anan
10. Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

books: fiction

1. Room by Emma Donahue
2. Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz
3. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
4. Romancing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
5. Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco X. Stork
6. Sisterhood Everlasting by Anne Brashares
7. The Submission by Amy Waldmann
8. Cry, the Beloved Country by Allen Patton
9. Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
10. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen


What are your favorites? Is there anything you’ve encountered this year that I simply must add to my list?

pinning dreams


For the uninitiated, Pintrest is easily the most social acceptable addicting thing I participate in. It’s an online series of corkboards, which allows people (yes, mostly women)  to “pin” images from around the internet onto themed boards and then allows other users to browse said pins. It’s like a delightful tumble down Alice’s rabbit hole.

One of the trends I’ve noticed lately is to post visual “bucket lists”. I found one particular person’s this morning when I clicked on the graphic at the beginning of this post. What struck me is that I had done almost everything on that person’s list. They want to go to Prague – check. They want to eat a cheesesteak in Philly – check. They want to go to Platform 9 3/4 – check. They want to finish a graduate degree – check. I’m sure there are other dreams this anonymous user has that I have not fulfilled and never will, but I had this moment of gratefulness. I have had an incredible journey and one which promises to be more incredible as the years go on.

I’ve decided to make a bucket list myself – but specifically one just for this next calendar year. I have some seriously promising adventures coming up but some others I’d like to craft. In the monotony of my daily life – reading, writing, tea drinking – I want to remember to find joy in those moments and be thankful for the privilege of my life in Belfast. It feels more celebratory than resolutions, doesn’t it?

What are your resolutions/bucket list items for the next season of your life?