Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Part of Myself

“You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here...You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets...” ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Isn’t this Dickens quote beautiful? Melodramatic, poetic, filled with emotion and imagery. I thought I’d begin my blog post with this quote even though (or perhaps, because) nothing I write will be able to compare in tone or technique.

I am back in Minnesota for Christmas break, and I’ve been here since December 22. I haven’t had a moment to write a blog post until now because I’ve been spending as much time as possible catching up with friends and family members. However, as I usually do on breaks from school, I came down with a cold, so I’m forcing myself to take it easy this afternoon and try to recuperate. My original plan was to keep myself super busy and try to trick my body into thinking I wasn’t on break and hence keep the cold at bay. It didn’t work, unfortunately. So I had my secretary and life planner (i.e., myself) clear my schedule. On the up side, that gives me time to write.

Since returning to Minnesota, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how people, places, and things can become a part of myself.


I’ll begin with the “things” category, as it seems the silliest and least consequential of the three. Here’s one prominent example: About two weeks before flying back to Minnesota, on an otherwise uneventful Saturday evening, I lost one of the fake teeth on my retainer (my two lateral incisor teeth are fake and will eventually be more permanently implanted in my mouth but are currently only attached to a retainer). I had a really important job interview on the upcoming Tuesday, just three days after the tooth fell off, and I doubted that the retainer could be fixed in time.

Imagining myself going to the interview with a missing tooth conjured up feelings from my middle school days in which I was too self-conscious to show my teeth when I smiled due to the noticeable gaps in the front of my mouth. When I got my first pair of fake teeth in eighth grade, I felt like a whole new person. Suddenly I could flash a sparkling smile or laugh without putting my hand over my mouth.

A few days before the “tooth incident,” I told my mom on the phone, “I think I finally recovered from being a seventh-grade girl,” meaning that I thought I had gotten over all or most of the insecurities and awkwardness that I had assimilated into my self-image during middle school. Even though I now consider myself to be a confident person, losing that tooth made me realize that a small piece of plastic could be an important element in my identity. I was shocked to think that a personality trait like confidence could be so easily jeopardized by such a tiny object.

However, I convinced myself to get over my insecurity from missing a tooth tolerably well. I went to tutor in Emerson’s Writing Center without it, and I smiled my normal, toothy smile. And no one even seemed to notice! At least, no one commented or stared. Fortunately though, my parents mailed me an old retainer which arrived in time for my interview.

While my fake teeth are a part of myself in all locations, my car is a part of myself only in Minnesota. In Boston, I love taking public transportation and walking everywhere. It’s fun and relatively convenient, and it’s just my lifestyle there. In Minnesota, however, I feel that I simply cannot be myself or live my normal life without a car. So when my car broke down a couple days ago, I felt quite at a loss as to how I was going to experience all that I’d hoped to experience during my short stay back in my home state. Fortunately, the car was able to be fixed within 24 hours, so I didn’t have to find out how difficult life would have been here without it. But again, the loss of a mere thing had caused me to feel naked and unsure.


It feels almost shallow (though understandable) for things to partially define my identity. But places, on the other hand, seem like they ought to be an integral part of who I am. In fact, I started my two blogs (Albion Adventures and Bella Bostonian) when I visited or moved to a new location. Three cities now flow in my veins: Minneapolis, London, and Boston.

Returning to Minneapolis has been interesting. In some ways, everything seems the same. The Eden Prairie Mall, I-494, and Uptown are all exactly where they were when I left, and I’m able to drive to all these familiar places without really thinking. But in other ways, my home town looks different now that Boston has become a part of myself.

For one thing, I honestly used to be a little intimidated to go to new, fun places in the Cities. I always wanted to be the type of person who would just go “out on the town” and try out anything and everything, but I usually felt like it was a lot more effort than it was worth. After a semester in Boston, I literally crave experiencing these new places and trying new things. I’ve gone on several times since I’ve been home and tried out Cuzzy’s Bar and Grill and made a short visit to Club 331, neither of which I’d been to before. For New Year’s Eve, I’m planning to go to the Elixir Lounge for the first time, and I certainly hope that I’ll be able to experience many other great places in the coming weeks. The Bostonian side of me has made me more confident and adventurous, and I’m happy to see that these traits are staying with me even back in Minnesota.

And of course, it goes without saying that the people in my life are a part of myself. The best part about being back in Minnesota is seeing my friends and family face-to-face and catching up with people I haven’t spoken with in months (or even longer). I am so grateful for the world of cell phones and computers which has enabled me to stay in touch with these people even while living 1400 miles away. Nevertheless, there’s something very special about the times when we actually get to see each other in person and experience life together.

It’s also been amazing to me how quickly people in Boston have become a part of myself. Though I’ve only been there a few short months, I have been so blessed with a wonderful support network of friends.

Being back in Minnesota for 3 ½ weeks has made me realize that I still live in two worlds. Of course, my life really is in Boston now. But at the same time, it’s been so easy to pick up my old life in Minneapolis where it left off (at least in some ways; of course I don’t have a job or a place of my own here). While on the one hand that means that I inevitably miss out on things in each of my two worlds at times, on the other hand, I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to experience these different things, places, and people. This is exactly what I’d hope to be doing in my young 20’s—making the most of every moment, every experience, every challenge, every opportunity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WR121 Course Concept

This semester, I'm taking a course called Teaching College Composition. We've been discussing issues in pedagogical writing theory, as well as learning specifics about how Emerson's freshman writing courses work. The first semester course is WR101, which deals with learning how to write propositions, reasons, etc. It also emphasizes peer review. WR121, the second semester course, varies much more than WR101. The course centers around 4 main "genre" writing assignments, but each instructor gets to choose a theme around which to structure the course. I chose "publication" for my course concept, and I'm really excited about it! I may never actually teach writing here at Emerson (depending on a lot of factors, such as whether or not they hire me, whether I get a full-time job, etc), but I want to share this course concept anyways. My biggest concern is the last assignment. It's very open-ended and may be too much for a group of freshmen to handle. But I think it would be a fun assignment if it worked out. I guess I'll see what my classmates and professor think tomorrow. But anyways, here's the course concept as it currently stands:

Publication: Sharing Your Writing in the Real World

“Sharing, peer feedback, and publication give the best reward and motivation for writing, namely, getting your words out to many readers” (Elbow, “Ranking, Evaluating, Liking” 195).

Course Description: This course emphasizes the importance of publication—making one’s writing public by putting ideas in a format that will resonate with the intended audience(s). Students will select a topic they are passionate about to explore throughout the semester using various “public” media, including blogs, academic essays, personal essays, and a final collaborative project.

The course is focused on helping students define their rhetorical aims through an understanding of the rhetorical situation (where their work will be published, what medium it will be published in, what discourse communities the audience participates in, etc). Because students will be working in the same medium but with widely varying topics, they will have the opportunity to explore how writing strategies are affected by both genre and content.

The underlying philosophy of this course is that the primary “call to write” comes from writers’ personal passions and goals. Therefore, students will be allowed to choose their own topic and rhetorical aims while receiving guidance on how to tailor their writing to reach its intended audience through exploring various routes to publication.

Writing Project #1: Blog
Students will each keep a blog throughout the entire semester that relates to their chosen semester topic. During the first week of class, students will begin to discuss how to choose this topic/issue. We will also read several blogs, discuss the genre of blog writing, and explore how it has come to be viewed as a legitimate form of publication.

In preparation to start their own blog, students will define the blog’s intended audiences. All students will recognize that the teacher and their classmates are part of the intended audience, but each student should also have additional group(s) with which they hope to communicate via their blog. Some questions to address include: What are the best ways to reach each audience? How do these audiences relate to each other? What tensions exist between various audiences’ expectations?

Further Details on the Blog Writing Assignment:

• By Monday of the third week, students must post a description of their personal blog on a class blog home page. This post includes a description of the topic and audiences, purpose of the blog, a link to the blog, and any other relevant information.
• For Wednesday, students must comment on classmates’ blog descriptions on the class blog. Students will probably be divided into small discussion groups to ensure that each student gets the same number of comments.
• The first blog post is due on Friday of the third week. Thereafter, students must write one blog post per week. They must also comment on at least one other student’s blog every week.
• Students will be required to link to other websites in several of their blog posts (not necessarily to scholarly sources though; the purpose is to help them include and respond to other voices).
• For blog posts written later in the course, students will be asked to incorporate research they conduct for other writing assignments into their posts. This will help them compare and contrast genres and how a particular piece of information can be used in different ways.

• I hope to show students that publication is not something that they have to wait until after college to pursue. They can publish their work right now.
• An informal medium such as a blog ought to encourage students to develop an Elbowean writerly voice.
• I also wish to address head-on the issues involved in selecting and committing to a topic. This is a challenge that every writer in every genre faces, but it is often treated as a “mystical” process in which a light bulb must click on in the writer’s head.
• Additionally, I want to introduce the concept of multiple audiences. A blog is an especially good example of writing that may be read by many different discourse groups because they are easily accessible online. At the same time, blogs may also focus on very narrow, niche audiences. Acknowledging that the teacher and classmates will be two of the audiences allows for discussions about classroom dynamics and power inequities.
• Lastly, I want to encourage students to engage in authentic conversation with each other through blog comments.

Writing Project #2: Academic Essay
Students will write an academic/scholarly essay on some aspect of their semester topic. These essays will incorporate significant research. Students will also report on three scholarly journals that could potentially publish their paper. These journals can be high-level professional or academic journals that would rarely publish undergraduate work, or they can be publications that might actually consider student papers. Students will then select one of these journals and write their paper according to the writers’ guidelines for that journal. Students will also peer review each other’s papers, mimicking a standard peer review process that scholarly journals would use.

• My primary goal is to show that academic essays are not “busy work” and that they are actually “real world” writing. They can reach a particular audience (“the Academy”) in a way that no other genre can.
• I want students to realize that joining the academic discourse community and supporting their thoughts with relevant sources will lend credibility to their ideas.
• I also hope to show them that academic discourse communities utilize peer review on a regular basis and that this exercise is not an idle one.

Writing Project #3: Personal Essay (Print-on-Demand Anthology)

After reading several personal essays by a variety of writers, students will write their own personal essays related to their semester topic. The catch is that all students’ essays will hinge upon the same broad theme (examples: transformations, revelations, failure, overcoming obstacles, etc). The class will decide on this theme together (though I will bring in at least 3 viable options), and their essays will then be compiled into an anthology that can be printed on demand using Lulu or the Espresso Book Machine. Students will also have the option to plan in which order the essays will appear in the book, the design, the title and subtitle, etc. The essays will be extensively edited before they are considered ready for publication. Students will first serve as each others’ developmental editors, then line editors, and finally copy editors. I will make thorough comments on each essay as well.


• I want students to have the opportunity to polish a piece of writing to a level they may never have experienced before. This essay will be a wonderful addition to any writing portfolio they wish to compile during their college years.
• As communications and arts students, Emerson freshmen will benefit from learning the technical skills of developmental, line, and copy editing, and they will likely utilize these skills in future jobs.
• This assignment takes collaborative learning to a new level, as students have to think about how their own essays will complement their classmates’ essays. Thus, they should be invested in their classmates’ work and be motivated to put a lot of effort into the editorial process.
• I want students to consider the differences between a blog post and a personal essay, not just in length and formality but also in intended audiences, purpose, structure, and style.
• Likewise, we will explore the differences and similarities between academic and personal essays. In particular, we will discuss the role played by research for both types of essays.

Writing Assignment #4: Final Collaborative Project

Students will be divided into small groups of three or four, hopefully grouping students whose semester topics complement or relate to the others’ topics. The students in each group will then decide on a newly focused topic that incorporates elements of the group members’ topics. If no consensus can be reached, groups may choose a topic unrelated to their semester topics.

After a topic is chosen, groups will decide what they would like to say about this topic (their rhetorical aims) and whom they would like to communicate with (their intended audiences). After that, they will decide which genre and medium to use that will most effectively accomplish their rhetorical aims and reach their intended audiences. Students will be provided with several examples of potential genres to work with, such as magazines, short film documentaries, websites, newspapers, marketing campaigns, advocacy pamphlets, photo essays, museum exhibits, theatrical scripts, etc. The only stipulation is that they cannot compile their work in any of the formats we have already used in this class.

Students will write a proposal for their final project, describing how their chosen genre will effectively respond to the rhetorical situation. It will also explain how the work will be divided among the group members and a little bit about their methods for compiling the final project. Lastly, it will give a summary of their research.


• While this project is rather open-ended, students have been thinking about how to accomplish rhetorical aims and reach intended audiences all semester. They should now be capable of analyzing which genre will be most effective and choose accordingly.
• Students will be required to make several major decisions in their groups (choosing a topic, aim, audience, and genre), and this may be difficult at first. However, working through these issues simulates real-world collaborative processes.
• This project requires students to work with the technical, unflowery language of the proposal writing genre. At the same time, it allows students creative freedom to explore non-traditional, multimedia genres. My goal is for students to see how writing and research skills play a role in all types of communication, even the ones that may appear to involve little or no writing.
• We will also explore how groups’ chosen genres relate to the genres we used earlier in the semester.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Starbucks Experience

This morning, I walked to Starbucks to get a pound of coffee beans, feeling slightly guilty for the splurge. I normally try to purchase New England coffee beans, which are about a half or a third of the price.

I get to the Starbucks down the street from my apartment, and the barista informs me--much to my delight--that the beans come with a free tall coffee. And then, another barista drops the bag of beans on the floor in the process of grinding them, so they couldn't be sold even though the beans themselves were still perfectly fine. So she offers me that pound for free, which of course I accept gladly.

All told, I got 2 pounds of beans, a piece of coffee cake, and a tall coffee for $14. Sometimes it's the smallest things in life that put a spring in your step and a smile on your face. :-D

And oh, by the way, my roommate moved out yesterday. That may also have something to do with the spring in my step and the smile on my face.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Cheer (Without Snow)

Yesterday evening, I enjoyed the "tree lighting ceremony" on the Boston Common in 50 degree weather. There were singers, dancers in Santa mini skirts, and fireworks in addition to actually flipping the switch to turn on the lights.

By popular demand (okay, by one person's request), I'm posting a few photos of Boston's holiday decorations.

Here are a few photos of the Christmas tree and the Boston Common:

And for all those who are afraid that "holidays" are too commercialized, cheesy, and/or secular, there is also a Nativity scene on the Common.

With the State House in the background

State House closer up

With Park Street Church in the background

The gazebo in the middle of the Common

Ice skating on Frog Pond (also in the Common)

Charles Street, in between the Common and the Public Garden

Bridge in the Public Garden

Boylston Street

And now for some images closer to home. The following 2 pictures are from the main street leading to my apartment in the charming city of Somerville, which I affectionately refer to as Cambridge's ugly sister.

Somerville Car Wash

Somerville Fire Station

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life Is Good

I am so happy right now! It's Friday night and Thanksgiving is coming up soon. I have a new roommate for next semester, which has been a perpetual worry for about 2 months now. My classes are fabulous overall; it's unbelievably fun to discuss interesting ideas with my fellow classmates. My internship at Harvard Common Press is going well and I'm learning a lot there. My church and especially my small group are so supportive and inspiring. And Boston is just plain amazing! The vibe, the culture, the opportunities--it's just so great to be here. Yes, the transition was rocky, but I'm convinced that this was the right choice for me. Things are always a bit chaotic but at least I'm not bored. :-) And I feel like I'm really on the road to "self-actualization" out here; I'm growing in confidence and maturity and courage. I'm just so grateful for everything that's happened and for all that I've been learning. And I look forward to more challenges and triumphs in the near future.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Gossip

Halloween: the day we let loose our dark sides and show our secret admiration for our favorite fictional characters, heroes and villains alike. And who is a better mix of the good and the bad than Blair Waldorf? (And what is a darker secret than the fact that I watch—and actually enjoy—the teen soap opera Gossip Girl?)

I know, I know...the resemblance is uncanny.

Makeshifting a crazy Blair Waldorf headband: $0
Raiding your closet to find a short skirt and classy blazer: $0
Discovering you brought along ridiculous fishnet stockings when you moved to Boston (yet somehow forgot tights you might actually wear): Priceless

Apparently Halloween is a pretty big deal here. I don't know if it's a bigger deal in Boston in general or if it's just a bigger deal to the people I happen to know here. But at any rate, everyone seems to be talking about what they're going to wear and do tonight. I'm going to a party hosted by one of my church friends in Beacon Hill, an "old money" neighborhood near my school and church. It's supposed to be a fun place to celebrate Halloween because they close down a couple streets to car traffic, and people celebrate in style. I'll write more about it after I've actually seen it.

But before the party, I'm showing my apartment to another potential roommate. (For those of you who don't know, my current roommate wants to move out so she can be closer to school. I've been trying to find a non-psycho roommate to take her place for a little over a month now.) I'm showing the apartment to someone else tomorrow, and I do have a couple other leads as well. At this point, I'm just really hoping to get this figured out for next semester.

Anyways, happy Halloween to all!

P.S. If you want to get in the spirit of the holiday, I highly recommend reading An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I think it's the only book I know that gets me excited about Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Public Transit and Human Connection

T.S. Eliot wrote in The Waste Land about his daily commute on the subway to his job at Lloyd's Bank in London. He described his fellow soul-dead commuters thus:

"A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many. / Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, / And each man fixed his eyes before his feet."

The shared experience of riding the T (Boston's subway) or taking the bus is really interesting to me. Daily, I sit in closer proximity to strangers than I would willingly sit with my friends. Wedged in between the chunky lady with the runny nose and the slouching, sprawling "tough guy," I struggle to manipulate my oversized New York Times and wish I had an e-reader.

As I brush arms with the sniffling woman next to me, I rarely stop to consider that she, like me, has hopes and fears for the coming day. Like me, she has family and friends, and like me, she too is on a journey (both literally and metaphorically). And on the rare occasions when thoughts like this do come to mind, I never seriously consider talking to my fellow passengers because of what I like to call "the Great Public Transit Taboo": You don't invade people's privacy and you let them believe that they are on a solitary trip as much as possible. If you violate this cardinal rule, people are bound to look at you like you're crazy. If you're also dishevelled and have a questionable body odor, they are likely to get up and move to a different part of the subway car.

Creating this impenetrable bubble to shut out all other human beings comes more naturally to some than others. As an introvert who has spent half her life wrapped up in a book or a private reverie, it is pretty easy for me to ignore the other commuters. But at the same time, I think it's making me develop a rather self-involved mindset (at least for that hour every morning and every evening).

The other day, the typically huge crowd of people exited the subway at Park Street Station downtown. We experienced the usual annoying bottleneck as we all tried to rush up the stairs as quickly as possible, toward fresh air and our daily grind. Suddenly, a young woman sat down on the steps as though faint or sick, creating another obstacle to get around and further slowing the mass exodus of commuters. She sat down right in front of me and my first thought was along the lines of, "How dare she further clog these stairs!" Fortunately, this thought was a mental (or moral) slap in the face and I paused to ask if she was okay. She thanked me and said that yes, she was fine. Without another word, I allowed myself to be swept away in the tide of people hurrying on with their individual lives.

And this was someone about my age, who looked and dressed a lot like me! I hate to even think this, but if she looked less put-together or if she appeared to be from a different "social group," would I have even bothered to ask quickly if she was okay? If she looked and smelled like the lady who lives at the bus stop on my street, would I have looked twice? It's no wonder that, even in a crowded, teeming city like Boston, people feel alone, unseen, unacknowledged. Dehumanized.

This past weekend, I had a lot of fun volunteering at the first annual Boston Book Festival. One of the events I attended was a spoken word poetry event in which high school and college students performed their poetry. There was a girl from Minneapolis (woot woot! If I were a more impulsive person, I would have given her a shout-out) who spoke a poem about a man she'd had a conversation with on the bus. Perhaps breaking the Great Taboo isn't so frowned upon in Minnesota (I wouldn't know, of course; I only rode the bus about 2 or 3 times in all 20+ years of my life there). In any case, her poem--which she presented with preacher-like fervor--got me thinking about breaking the Taboo myself. But would it really do any good? Or do I just ask that because I hate doing something uncomfortable?

Perhaps I will just conclude with a quote from the movie Crash about very diverse people trying somehow to reach the humanity in their fellow travellers:

"It's the sense of touch. In any real brush past people, people bump into you...I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yes, No, Wait?: A Shocking Expose of Jessi's Thoughts on Boston, Prayer, and Life

Written Wednesday, October 21 as a Facebook Note

I'm sitting on a bench in the picturesque Boston Common, just a few minutes' walk from Emerson. The weather is beautiful--60 degrees or so with the sun setting behind the burnt orange and vivid red trees. I'm writing in a notebook with the intention of typing up this "blog post" later, and I'm listening to Coldplay (among others) on my iPod while the 200-year-old bells of Park Street Church chime in the background. At moments like these, my new life in the city seems idyllic.

As I sit here in this urban park, I can't help but think that my choice to come to Boston was one of those moments that set you on a path of becoming who you were meant to be. Only a few weeks ago, I was constantly on the verge of having a breakdown due to 2 big problems and a bunch of little ones. When those problems first arose, I was pretty proud of myself for not freaking out too much and for trusting that God was going to work out something good from these very unsettling situations. I'm by no means a Calvinist and I even see a lot of validity in Greg Boyd's "God of the possible" theology. But I still think that God is holding the threads of the universe and that we can trust him to work in our lives and in our mundane situations. If I didn't believe that, I would feel like I'm following the watchmaker God of the Deists. (Sorry, I just felt a need to clarify briefly what I meant by God working out all things for good.)

So before that deviation into theology, we left our protagonist (i.e., myself) feeling prideful about trusting God instead of freaking out. I kept praying that one or the other (or both!) of the big problems would be solved. Things kept happening that got my hopes up and I would start to imagine my life taking a significant turn for the better. But invariably these solutions were ripped from me and I started to get really angry and even more anxious than I had been before. Traditionally, we who went to Sunday school as kids were told that God answers prayers with Yes, No, or Wait. I got so angry that God kept saying No and/or Wait. Why would he keep stringing me along like this? I felt like the Wait answer was the worst because it just seemed so senseless. Why should I have to wait in this misery if God was going to fix it eventually? Why couldn't something work out now?

Then I realized that maybe the Yes/No/Wait model isn't entirely accurate. One of my friends from high school and I started emailing again in the last month or so. She sent me the "thorn in the flesh" verse, saying that it had encouraged her in the past. I've read the verse so many times before but this time, it completely changed my mindset. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [the thorn in the flesh] away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

God responds to Paul's impassioned plea, not with a semi-mocking, "Just wait." Rather he says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." This is so different from the Yes/No/Wait model because it has nothing to do with circumstances. Instead of telling myself, "Someday God might deign to make my life the Platonic ideal I want it to be," I started holding onto the promise that he is enough regardless of my circumstances. No matter what happens (and far, far worse things could be happening right now), I will somehow have what I need.

Because of this gradual change of heart and mind, I can tell you (with thankfulness and hopefully not with pride) that I'm really okay, even though neither of those big problems have been resolved.

This may not sound incredibly insightful, but believe me, internalizing it and really coming to believe it was a huge deal for me.

Anyways, this post was actually going to be various thoughts on my life in Boston (I had some pretty funny material too!), but I guess that will have to wait until a later date.

The ABC's of Blogging

To my dear friends and family who enjoyed (or at least grudgingly read) my England travel blog Albion Adventures:

I present to you BELLA BOSTONIAN, my blog about life in Boston!

Perhaps in the future, I will write Carousing in Cardiff or Delectable Dubai.

I've considered starting this for a while because I really like blogging. It's a fun--and, let's be honest, self-indulgent--form of writing, and it can be a good way to keep in touch with people. I had lots of nice email and Facebook conversations with many of you in response to my England blog, and I just want you to know that I really appreciated that.

So thanks for listening to my ramblings and for your support from afar (those of you in MN, that is). It's been invaluable to me through these first couple of months in a new city. And please keep me posted on your lives as well!

With much love,