This is my last night in Indianapolis. The last 3.5 weeks have been some of the happiest and most transformative weeks of my grown-up life. In addition to all of the new friends that I made and the things that I learned, I also really enjoyed being key-free. I’m thinking of this as a metaphor for having no responsibilities to speak of: no cooking, no cleaning, no job stuff, nothing. It’s also a practical situation too, as I haven’t had to carry keys around with me for almost a month. The car that I rented is a keyless Altima – I carry the magic wand and walk right up to it, open the door, and start the car by pressing a button. The hotel room just uses a card key.

Doors just open for me here.


It’s the night before the day before I leave Indianapolis. This means that it’s time to eat all the snacks i have acquired and all of the leftovers that everybody gave me when they left, and to start packing. Last week Was a very busy and happy week for me. I will fill in the details later but it consisted of hanging out with my history friends and our graduation from SHA. The might SHA class of 2013 is unleashed upon the world!

Coming up this week: I will post about my graduation day and give some reflections on Indianapolis as the center of the universe.

The Things They Carried

Saturday at SHA: this means we get to start class at 9AM instead of 8:30. I spent the extra half hour of sleep available to me hanging out with my new friends and talking about what kind of class tattoo we would get if we weren’t all chicken.

Today I got to see Tim O’Brien give a reading from his book “The Things They Carried.” He was at the Vonnegut Library less than a block from our hotel. You just never know your freshman literature class will collide with your grown-up life, do you?

A Historian’s Paradise, and also Chocolate

After starting off yesterday morning with a fire alarm at 5:45AM, followed by a day of cantankerous classmates and heated discussions, today we a lot more fun. We studied audience evaluation and I was able to work out some real-life projects that I want to do at home. Not that I’m ready to go home. Aside from the fire alarm, I have to say this experience is a historian’s paradise. I get to talk about history all day long with people who love it as much as I do, and I’m meeting some great new friends who are my history people (public historians are each other’s favorite sort of people, with apologies to everyone else on the planet). Also, the hotel feeds us breakfast and provides full housekeeping. This means that I haven’t had to lift a finger in two weeks to do ANY kind of housework, yard work, office work, cooking, etc. And a classmate’s mom even sent a care package of cookies for us all. It’s been pretty darn wonderful and I kind of don’t want this to ever end.

IMG_1729Tonight I took some friends to the South Bend Chocolate Company on Monument Circle, which is another one of my Favorite Places. Some of my best and brightest memories of sharing stories and laughter with my best friends happened over chocolate at the SBCC, so it has a dear place in my heart. Tonight my friends and I sat at a table talking about on-purpose vagabondyhomelessness and tried to connect it to the closing of the Western frontier. We also asked Sirri all sorts of random questions, talked about school, and generally had a wonderful time. My face hurt from smiling. The experience reminded me of every happy meeting-of-the-public-history-mind that happened with there when I was in grad school. If dementors ever attack me and I need to cast a patronus charm, I think those will be the powerful happy memories that I summon.

Cookie Butter and Colorado Tap Water

Oh Colorado tapwater how I miss you. I wish that someone would send me a gallon of the beautiful delicious water from my faucet at home. This Indiana water just isn’t working for me at all. I drink and drink it and I just seem to get more thirsty with every sip. I’ve had far worse tasting water in the Texas Panhandle and I am grateful to live in America where

Thus the need for a Trader Joe’s and Target run tonight to buy bottled water and other provisions.  We don’t have Trader Joe’s at home and I miss a lot. We had a girls trip to buy snacks for our classmates including the aforementioned fancy water and we ended up coming home with this beauty:

Photo on 11-5-13 at 8.20 PM

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever: Part 1 in my Favorite Places on Earth


We’ve been studying place-making and the roles of place and memory this week. In tribute to that, and in honor of being “back home again in Indiana,” I’m going to share some of my secrets with you. YOU, dear readers, get to know my super-secret favorite places in the whole wide world, starting today with Indianapolis.

Today I got to visit my one of my dearest Favorite Places in the Whole World: Oldfields, the Lilly House and Gardens on the campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Or rather, the IMA is on the grounds of Oldfields. The first time I drove around the corner and had my first glimpse of the grand white house, my heart leapt. It was love at first sight. I never got over it. I’m still head over heels for that place. A thing of beauty is indeed a joy forever, and Oldfields makes me just as happy now as it did back then.

I had the privilege of interning there when I was in grad school, and got to know the house and grounds like the back of my hand.  Features include: the sweeping green allee leading up to the stately white house, the statue of the Three Graces at the opposite end of the allee. Also, the formal garden with the white archways, the informal gardens where the paths wander and bend to create a sense of discovery, a ravine garden and creek, statues, a romantic white whispering bench, and GOLDREDYELLOW leaves at this time of year. I worked here, played here, studied here, had picnics here, a romantic interlude, and felt closer to God here.

Bonus – my SUPER SECRET fav-o-rite place: 100 Acres Woods. When I was here in Indianapolis, this was an undeveloped back part of the estate that I think was largely a secret that only the IMA staff and a few daring residents knew much about. I would wander in the woods between the lake and the White River over my lunch hours and on Sunday afternoons, giddily enjoying my secret lake and forest. There aren’t many places in this big city where one can go be alone in nature, and I relished it.

The IMA has since turned this back acreage into the 100 Acres -an innovate outdoor art and nature park. Before I saw it for the first time today, I had been a little bit worried that this development would have negatively altered the character of my favorite wandering-around spot, but it actually enhanced it. While 100 Acres isn’t my very  own secret anymore, I was actually really happy to see so many people enjoying it on this pretty fall afternoon. I loved that people were playing on the swings, looking at the gigantic skeleton sculpture, and staring out at the tiny island and ship. Also, the trails behind the lake are greatly improved and easier to navigate. There are even smart little arrows pointing out beaver chomps, tiny trees, and other serendipitous forest features. I was happy that someone else loves that lake and woods as much as I do, and that they created more things of beauty in tribute.

To Oldfields, with love, from me.