The One Time I Misspelled a Word And I Subsequently Remembered It Forever

It’s story time!

This story comes to you from the dark recesses of my middle school years.

The thing you have to understand about my middle school years is that I actually kind of enjoyed them while it was happening. Now I look back and cringe because I was an awkward nerd who needed braces. But at the time, it was great. I have mostly good memories from those years.


I also have a few rather embarrassing or otherwise disturbing memories. Welcome to one of those.


It was a dark and stormy night.

Except it wasn’t stormy. Dark, yes, because it was night (duh). But not stormy.

Did I mention I’m a journalism major?

I’ve always been a good speller. Yes, in the pre-spell check days. Even today I can typically not rely on it and not miss it terribly.

Anyway. I’ve always been a good speller. I somehow instinctively understood that “F” and “Gh” made the same sound in certain words. “ghoti” would have made sense to me is what I’m saying.

I basically ruled the local homeschool spelling bee circuit. I typically did well at regionals (Except for Brett. Brett almost always won and I usually came in second. Then he graduated and now he’s married so who’s the real winner here?*)

I had one major flaw. Aside from “Mnemonic” that is (took me a good four years before I could spell it with 100% certainty).

My major flaw was this: I choked. I choked big time. I choked the minute anyone besides my mom, the spelling bee judge, and the 10 faces of the regional participants looked at me.

So it was an overwhelming surprise when I managed to qualify for the local competition of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Yes. THAT spelling bee. The bee to end all bees.** The bee that is televised every year that I watch with popcorn because deep down I’m still a nerd.

Little ol’ me with my glasses and crooked teeth and nerdiness qualified for local. In hindsight, this isn’t as big a surprise. There was a small oral test I had to pass to qualify, but the majority of the qualifying points came from a written test. I was the ULTIMATE at written tests. Still am. Sometimes.

But I digress.

So one dark and non-stormy night my parents and I packed up and went to the bee. My siblings might have been there too but honestly this is increasing the number of therapy hours I’m going to need one day so I don’t want to think any harder about it.

We were all up on a stage. A. Stage. You have to understand that I really was not a spotlight kind of person. I could do dance performances and that was about all I was a-ok with. So a stage, with lights so bright I could barely see the audience, and a microphone all by its lonesome up front…I was in terror when I first walked in.

But I was fairly confident. I had this. I totally had this. I maybe wouldn’t win but I was a darned good speller and darn it I would make the homeschool community proud because what else can you do at 11?

I was only a few kids into the line-up. I was happy. Not first, so no “paving the way.” I was not a “paving the way” kind of person back then. Not last so no agonizing wait to begin. I was feeling chipper by this point.

Pablo and Joseph and whomever got up and did their thing. Easy words. Words I knew. Words I can probably still spell without spellcheck I’ll have you know (If I knew what those words were).

But one word sticks out in my brain. To this day, aside form “mnemonic,” it is the ONLY word from those years of spelling bees that I vividly remember standing up and saying into a microphone.




Except I didn’t spell it like that. Oh no. I took a deep breath, and rattled off:



I was stunned. I immediately replayed what I had just said. And my entire being crumbled.

Oh no.

That was definitely not how you spelled that word.

And now I was the first speller out.

What disgrace.

What shame.

What dishonor I brought on my family, my friends, the homeschool community, and I probably lumped Lutherans into the mix for good measure.

I definitely cried in the bathroom through most of the round. I definitely spelled every word in my head the rest of the bee. I definitely was very, very bitter.

I’m still bitter. Just less so. Because time heals all wounds blah blah blah.

Really it’s just because spell check was invented and I now rest secure that whatever I don’t know how to spell, the computer probably does.

Computers are great, Macs are better. *steps off soapbox*

At any rate, The Great Spelling Bee Disaster still remains the single worst moment in middle school. I’m sure my parents can think of worse that I’ve mercifully forgotten.

Now go forth and spell gallery properly.

spelling bee mistake





*I don’t actually know who’s the real winner. Obviously I’d like to assume it’s me but you can draw your own conclusions.

**I wrote that and immediately cracked up because all I could think about was a giant killer bee destroying all the other bees.



So earlier in August my very best friend and I took an excursion with my mom to the Big Apple aka New York City.

The goal of this trip was two-fold:

1. To relax and rejuvenate before she began her last semester of college and before I freaked out because I just like to freak out about school.

2. To strive to emulate Audrey Hepburn’s classiness and sass in everything we did.

So with those two goals in mind, we embarked.

12 hours after we left, including stops for lunch and snacks (including a 40-minute Starbucks stop. Shout-out to the Harrisburg Route 22 store for being the single most inefficient and unhelpful Starbucks in existence <3), we arrive in New Jersey to stay for a night. An hour drive the next morning and we were looking at the Empire State Building from a distance.

Every part of this trip was incredible from beginning to end. The amazing food, the truly magical Broadway shows we saw, the leisurely strolls past all the things we couldn’t afford on 5th Avenue…it was truly an adventure and so here are some pictures for you all to peruse and live vicariously through.

Times Square The absolutely insanely busy but ever amazing TImes Square.

WTC MemorialThe World Trade Center Memorial. The staff puts white flowers on the names of the victims on their birthdays.



Tiffany We spent an inordinate amount of time looking at all the gorgeous jewelry we could never afford.

Battery Park View View from one end of Battery Park.


Audrey muralWe found this mural of Audrey our very first day in the city next to a tiny cafe in Little Italy. I think it was a sign that we were succeeding in our endeavors to be her for the week.

Central Park View If Then Poster

While we weren’t able to get a picture with her, seeing Idina Menzel perform in this show was a dream come true.Chelsea Market 2 Chelsea Market 1 Food 1 Food 2 LindtThe food. Oh the food. The food was to die for. Peanut Butter S’more sandwiches. Lindt truffles. Fish and chips (that was just as good as what I’ve had in London). Food paradise, my friends. Food. paradise.

James Monroe Iglehart Aladdin signed

I’ve always loved broadway and I’m slowly starting to get my best friend hooked to. When we first started looking into what shows we wanted to see, the one we both immediately agreed on (we’re talking in .2 seconds) was Aladdin. We both adore the movie and the music. Once James Monroe Iglehart won the Tony this was probably the part of the trip I looked forward to the most. This was such a magical show and lived up to every expectation. The show we attended happened to be the first performance since Robin Williams’ death. While his death was tragic in every way, being a part of the tribute that night was a literal once-in-a-lifetime chance and the classiest and most touching tribute was such a cool thing to experience. Getting to meet most of the main performers that night at the stage door was a major bonus.


Until next time, NYC <3


Belated Happy Birthday aka My Love Letter to America

Hey America,

Happy belated Birthday.

So sorry I didn’t write until now. I was busy hanging out with college friends, eating an undisclosed amount of food, and alternately “oooh-ing” and “ahhh-ing”/ complaining about the fireworks. Also summer school.

But here it is. Happy Birthday.

Thanks for sticking around for 238 years.

I know there’s been some a lot of trouble in recent years.

You’ve been through some hard financial times (Just like me! Twins!)

You’ve been attacked.

You’ve been bullied by your own inhabitants in a variety of ways.

It’s that last one that brings me to this: Your birthday present.

My birthday present to you is the gift of love, which you desperately need, in the form of a letter. So here you go.

Dear America*

I love you.

I love the fact that I can drive an hour and be in a completely different physical environment than my urban jungle. I love that I can drive two hours and be in a different state. Thanks for keeping me from getting bored with my surroundings.

I love that my school is nationally recognized for its diversity in the student population. I love that there is so much diversity within our universities in this beautiful country that there are even rankings in the first place. Thank you for being so open and welcoming.

I love that I have the freedom to go disappear from most of the world for two hours on a Sunday morning without a second thought. That I can tell people I’m a Christian, and I might get weird looks, but I won’t be killed later that night. So thanks for keeping that up for 238 long years.

I love that as a woman, I have the opportunity to work wherever I want to work as long as I’m qualified. It took a hot second for you to catch on to that trend but we’re here and it’s pretty great. So thanks.

I love that you contain little pockets of beauty in big and small places (amber waves of grain etc.). In the Grand Canyon, the beaches of Florida, and the stark urban gorgeousness of NYC, to be sure. But also in the Indiana summer sunsets that take my breath away, the striking drops along the Pennsylvania roads, and the long wooden boardwalk along the pier in the midst of the insanity of Chicago.

I love how our government changes every 4-8 years, with an inevitable backlash of angst from part of the population, and you survive without falling into civil war, unlike so much of the developing world.

I love how everyone hates on you for oversized portions and such (and in all love, it might be getting a bit out of control), but then again you give us great things like cookie dough milkshakes and elephant ears so once again, thank you.

I love that you produce men and women who are willing to be far from home and far from everything comfortable and normal in order to fight for our safety and for ideals they may or may not agree with. But they still remain in uniform and that’s a pretty cool demonstration of dedication and love for a nation so thank you for providing us real-life heroes.

I love that despite all the vitriol that is spit your way at the drop of a hat (or a SCOTUS decision, government change, business scandal, overexposure of a celebrity….it goes on), you shudder, shake it off, and keep charging ahead.

So I guess, really, my birthday present to you is belief. Belief that everything is going to turn out ok. Belief that you aren’t falling apart at the seams permanently. Belief that you and I? We are going to be around, as strong as ever, for another 238 years because Americans are stubborn little pains in the world’s backside and just won’t go away as easily as so many of the world’s inhabitants seem to think (and your own citizens seem to think).

Happy (belated) Birthday USA.






(*does this make this letter-ception. Like Inception but with a letter within a letter?),



I’m a Duck.

Once upon a time, I wrote sentences like this to start my stories:

“Hi, I am a duck.”

The title of my story was aptly and creatively named “My Duck Story.”

10469401_740909765966295_241595931_oI’m not kidding.

Don’t ask me why I was writing about me being a duck when I was six. Some girls wanted to live in a world of horses (*cough*My Little Pony*cough*) or be fashion-obsessed blondes (*cough*Let’s talk about my opinions of Barbie*cough*). I apparently wanted to be a duck. I’m happy to announce that my disregard for social norms regarding the female gender is still alive today.

Once upon a time, I also wrote things like this:

“If I lived in the ocean I would probably not be able to breathe.”

That gem went on to explain how the fish would probably think I wanted to eat them but I would build a house and everything would be a-ok again. Unlike the old adage, however, my knack for science did not get better with age.

Looking back at these pieces of writing as a junior in college studying journalism, who just successfully completed her first internship, I’m slightly surprised that my parents didn’t quietly take away all writing utensils I owned and shuffle me off into a love for history or something that would do less damage to my self-esteem 14 years later.

But they let me stick with it and let’s just chalk this one up to why parents should just let their kids be kids and not freak out about whether they’re living up to their “full potential” and all of that at six.

So go. Encourage your kids. Encourage your kids to BE kids. Encourage your kids to explore and experiment. Encourage your kids to eat sour gummy worms from the pavement outside the church gym (This definitely was not accomplished by any of my siblings and maybe you should not actually encourage this but you get the idea right?)

Encourage your kids to do what they love before the rest of the world tells them that they have to choose to invest in a trade/major/passion more beneficial to the community, more financially beneficial, more worthwhile “in the long run.”

Who knows. They might go from ducks to Pulitzers.*



Bonus Round: My superb abstract drawing skills at the tender age of 2 years and 10 months.








*Not that I have a Pulitzer. But the entire point of this post is to dream and I’m all about leading by example.

Viva México/España (Spain)/England/USA!

The World Cup is the time I simultaneously become the most unpatriotic and most patriotic American ever.

The problem is, my worldwide sporting event loyalties lie in a number of places. USA because, well, duh. England because of my family and also because most Brits just prefer to be doom-and-gloom about their team’s chances and darn it everyone deserves a cheerleader, even the English. México because México is the love of my life and watching them brings back memories of sitting in a room in the heart of Mexico City in 2007 during a Mexico vs. USA match and being one of two Americans there. And finally, Spain because Spain is about to become the other love of my life (210 days!) and Spain also has had a really good chance of making it to the final (better than the aforementioned teams that is).

But, as the strikethrough should forewarn you, my dear Spain imploded big time. They “laid an egg” so to speak. If Spain was a dragon attacking the town of World Cup, it just poofed out white smoke, not fire (and barely at that).

I was almost in tears (this also might have been due to my allergies). Spain, the defending world champion, is out of the tournament. Netherlands, then Chile, boom. Done. I’ll be done mourning oh, maybe in January when I go to the beach in Spain.

England lost to Italy but otherwise is holding steady. Mexico pulled off the most exciting 0-0 draw in World Cup history against host Brazil (Let’s talk about sports-induced heart attacks). And USA.

Oh USA. How proud I am to be an American etc. etc. etc.

Ghana is the bane of this team’s existence. Little, tiny, freaking Ghana. Of all places to be the kryptonite/Achilles heel/chink in the armor of this team….Ghana.

But no more. After a glorious 2-1 opening match win, the USA has shook off that demon and (KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD KNOCK ON WOOD) is poised to possibly take down Portugal and advance past the group rounds. Seriously John Brooks (aka Somebody Not Named Landon Donovan*) got the winning goal. A benchwarmer. Check out some epic Wikipedia page edits for Brooks. My personal favorite is “The greatest American since Abraham Lincoln.” It’s a nice touch.

And this is why I love the World Cup, friends.

Teams come out of nowhere. Athletes come out of nowhere. Soccer powerhouses are no “sure thing” (*sob*). And in this golden age of American football and a 43-8 Super Bowl, a 0-0 “fútbol” game can still enthrall me.

So viva la World Cup!

Let’s watch some proper football!**







*Too soon? I’m still not sure if I’m upset by that decision or not but I’m trusting Klinsmann for now. Also a note: I literally was just scrolling through TV channels and came across a show called, “Landon Donovan: la Leyenda” (LD: The Legend). Spanish-language channels know what’s up.

**Joke. Still hardcore American Football fan no worries please don’t bring out the pitchforks