Tag Archives: history making

in which I take photos

So I’ll just say right off the bat—I don’t really like getting my picture taken.

I used to be a big ham when I was a kid. I loved getting photographed and was always striking a pose when a camera came around. But at some point something changed and I got camera shy. Aggressively camera shy. I hate photos. The idea of taking a selfie gives me a panic attack. I try to move as far to the back of group shots as possible. For a long time, my picture on Twitter and this blog had half my face covered1 because I just don’t like looking at pictures of myself.

I’m really not a photo person.

So you will not be at all surprised to hear that when told I had to take a headshot/author photo that would go on the back flap of my book, I was, to put it generously, not excited.

I put it off for a long time. Griped about it on Twitter, then felt bad for griping about such a lucky problem to have. Went through all the photos on my computer hoping I would miraculously find some professional but not horrible looking photo of me. Prayed someone would randomly snap a candid of me that would work.

But, at last, with the deadline looming, I had to admit defeat. Fine, I said. I will take an author photo for the book. I will do it…but I will not enjoy it.

Being in possession of a rather fine camera, Marx agreed to take the photos for me so I didn’t have to stare into the lens of a stranger, which would make the whole thing exponentially more uncomfortable. Together, we began to scour the interwebs trying to find somewhere cool to take the photos, my hope being that a great background might distract from….well, me. All the standard Boston engagement photos locations were too conventional. A blank wall was too boring. We needed somewhere cool. Unique. Subtly steampunk. I know, it was a lot to ask. After a time, we started to think it was maybe impossible.

And then we found the Boston Metropolitan Waterworks Museum.

And everything changed.

more water

YOU GUYS. The Metropolitan Waterworks Museum is AMAZING. Like, my new favorite place in Boston2 . It’s the old pumping station near the reservoir that used to supply the city of Boston with its water. It’s no longer functioning, but is now a museum, dedicated to the preservation and display of these massive, beautiful, industrial engines which I don’t understand, but I love love love looking at because they are just so gorgeous. Also, the museum is free, and the management is incredibly kind, and basically let us run amok in the place. We even got to climb on top of the giant engines3.

Marx took many great pictures of the waterworks.

max more water

Less great pictures of me.


The half face strikes again!

After a few excruciating hours of me grimacing into the camera and Marx doing a valiant impression of not being annoyed by this fact, we deemed we had enough great pictures to work with.

They were all of the engines. But that’s beside the point.


If you would like to visit the amazing Waterworks Museum, which I can’t recommend highly enough if you’re ever in Boston, please visit this website here4.

Oh, also, I should probably mention here, I now have a proper website, which features these beautiful photos. Visit here, if you’re interested.

  1. I tried to send that particular photo to my agent when she needed a picture of me for something sales related. She then showed it to one of her colleagues, who asked, “Why does she have her collar up like that? Is there something wrong with her face?” No, just my brain.
  2. Rivaled only by my first great love, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
  3. This is also where I learned—a mere week before we went to Switzerland, which is basically comprised of high places—that Marx is desperately afraid of heights.
  4. One more waterworks photo. For good measure. (All photo credit to Marx!) 10672183_858089884202569_6797749548370404008_n
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in which I am anachronistic

As a writer of historical things, anachronisms terrify me.

I think they terrify anyone who creates stories in a historical context, especially since we now live in a time where anyone can google anything and call you on your mistakes really fast.

I recently watched a YouTube video compiling anachronistic phrases in Downton Abbey, and it freaked me out because none of the phrases they were pointing out sounded anachronistic to me. I didn’t realize I’m just saying was a phrase that people haven’t been using for forever. That was not even a phrase that was on my radar1 to be aware of. I wasn’t even aware that was really a phrase—I thought it was just a thing we said and had always said! Isn’t there a story about Paul Revere riding through Boston, crying “The British are coming! The British are coming…I’m just saying.” Or that famous line from the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…we’re just saying.” Those are things, right?

This is why anachronisms freak me out: because what if they are in my book and I don’t even realize it?

Correction: I know they are in my book, and I don’t even realize it.

Ah, the ultimate Downton Abbey anachronism, the water bottle mantlepiece ornament.

Ah, the ultimate Downton Abbey anachronism, the water bottle mantlepiece ornament.

My writing is primarily historical fantasy, so that second word gives me a little leeway on the anachronism front. There are things in my book that are completely and unapologetically anachronistic because hello steampunk. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t accidental anachronisms that I missed2. An example: fairly late in the revision process, I realized I made a passing reference to a city by a name that it was not referred to by until the 1900s. My book is set in 1818. So that didn’t work. I chastised myself for such stupidity and immediately corrected it, but honestly, how did I expect myself to know that3? When I was writing about said city, it never occurred to me that it once might have been called something other than what I know it as, so why on earth would I even feel the need to look it up?

So what do you do about these sneaky anachronisms that you don’t know are anachronisms, but some eagle-eyed reader inevitably will notice and point out in their Goodreads review?

And what do you do when something that is historically accurate seems wrong anyways? The phrase affectionately known today as the F bomb has been used in that crude manner since medieval times, but it would be strange and anachronistic to hear a character in the 1500s say “F**k off.” The utterly lovely writer Elizabeth Wein mentioned on her blog that someone got after her for using the phrase Blonde Bombshell in Code Name Verity, which maybe doesn’t seem accurate to WWII, but surprise—it was!

Or what about when being historically accurate compromises your writing? Because sometimes there are terms and phrases that are common to a period that would make no sense to modern readers, but it would be clunky and strange for a character to explain what it means. Imagine someone in the future is writing historical fiction set today says something like, “I pulled my iPhone, a small, square device with a screen used for sending textual communications, out of my pocket.” None of us think that way because we all know what an iPhone is and that would be weird. So do you use the anachronistic phrase for clarity’s sake, or go with a historical but inscrutable one?

And what about characters with modern attitudes? Sometimes it can be really hard to relate to historical characters simply because, as a result of living in a very different world than us, their worldviews just don’t seem to make sense. And what about dated cultural attitudes? Casual racism and homophobia that would have been the norm in a certain period and thus give a more accurate picture of a time period might totally turn a modern reader off from that character. Girls who wanted nothing more than to settle down and get married aren’t super fun to read about, but probably way more historically accurate than those who wanted to set sail with pirates and have adventures4.

So what do you do? Write modern characters in a historical setting, or hard to love ones that are true to their time?

I’m asking all these rhetorical questions because I honestly don’t have answers, by the way. Lest you start thinking I am clever and calm about this whole subject.

Anachronisms are one of the many tough things about writing historical fiction, and often they stress writers out to no end5. I get into fits of intense concern that saying a character’s buttons were brass instead of tin will keep someone from loving my book. But let’s be real—have you ever stopped liking a book you were loving simply because the character had the wrong sort of shoes or uttered an idiom not common until two years after the book is set?

If Downton Abbey is any indicator then the answer is no, because everyone is still watching it. I’m just saying.

  1. Speaking of being on my radar, I was recently going through a first draft of mine set in the Dutch Golden Age and found the phrase “Flying under the radar” somehow snuck in. Because they were doing a lot of flying, and definitely a lot of radar-ing in 1637.
  2. This entire post is a result of me reading a historical fiction book earlier today and in the middle of it, realizing that someone in my manuscript wears a style of hat that went out of fashion years before my book is set. Don’t worry, I’m just panicking.
  3. This sounds like I’m making excuses for myself….but really, how was I supposed to know that?! I slept through my AP European history class! …that is probably not something that is giving me a lot of credibility as a historical fiction writer.
  4. Why yes I have been reading a lot of the extraordinary and occasionally anachronistic Jacky Faber books, why do you ask?
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in which a giveaway winner is selected, and my book appears on goodreads

So first and foremost, THE GIVEAWAY! We had one last week, and I didn’t get a chance to pick the winner on Friday like I promised because I was on an uninhabited island seven miles off the coast of Maine1 where wifi was a fallacy. And when I did have wifi at the lighthouse2, I used it up staring dreamily at Goodreads.

Why was I staring dreamily at Goodreads, you might ask? That’s because in a few seconds of spotty wifi on Thursday, I got a Tweet from my friend McKelle:


Race to Goodreads. Wait five minutes for it to load. Get error message. Run to other part of the island and thrust phone in air searching for bars. Find tiny amount of service. Type title into the Goodreads search bar with trembling fingers. Wait. Wait. Wait. Curse slow wifi with everything in me.

And then…what’s that?

goodreads 2  Is it?! It sort of looks like it is….

goodreads 3IT IS! My book is on Goodreads!

GoodreadsYou might be surprised to hear that after signing a book deal, almost nothing feels different. You still struggle through revision and self doubt and anxiety and plot quagmires and feel like throwing your laptop across the room most days. You still don’t feel like a Real Writer, let alone one with a Real Book Deal. But every once in a while, you get a few glorious moments of feeling like you’ve made it. Like this is actually happening, and your writing is more than just you and your keyboard and the voices in your head. Someone else is going to read this thing you wrote.

Seeing the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement was the first of these moments for me. The Goodreads page was the second. And man was it exciting to see3.

So all of my wifi this week was used up by me petting the Goodreads page for my book.

But here we are now, and so the giveaway!

The winner of Something Strange and Deadly and Heir of Fire is….


Congratulations! I hope you love them both, and I will be contacting you soon with more information.

More Project: Bookshelf is coming at you on Friday, as well as another giveaway. Stay tuned.

  1. All of these things are true.
  2. Yes, really, lighthouse. We stayed in a lighthouse.
  3. Slash also terrified because I am terrified of Goodreads. Once actual copies of my book are in the world, I am never again going anywhere near it. I’m going to have to hire someone (probably 14) to manage my Goodreads. And by manage, I mean copy and paste all the positive reviews into an email and send it to me.
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in which history is amazing

Unless you’re new here, it will come as no surprise that one of my three great loves is history. I have a BA in history. I write historical fiction. My first job was as a blacksmith’s apprentice at an 1850s reenacenment park. My first boyfriend took me to a pioneer ball1.

However, it has come to my attention that some people out there think history is boring.

To which I say, BORING!? What is wrong with you!?

Oh, you’re probably thinking about all those dates your teacher made you memorize in high school. On this day, this bill was signed. On this day, so and so was elected president. This was the year a war was won.

And you would be right—that crap is boring. But history is not!

So here’s a PSA to remind you that history is not boring. It is, in fact, the single most interesting thing you can study, because people are fascinating and the things they do and the stories they live are sometimes so much better and crazier and stranger than fiction.

So if you ever think history is boring, just remember…

  • Lord Byron kept a trained bear in his college dorm room.
  • Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer in the 1600s, had a gold nose (after he lost his actual nose in a duel) and a pet moose.
  • The English government exhumed Oliver Cromwell three years after his death, put him on trial, and executed his body.
  • Isadora Duncan was killed when her scarf got tangled in the wheel of the sports car she was driving and snapped her neck.
  • Josephine Baker, exotic dancer most famous for wearing nothing but bananas, was a French spy during WWII. And had an affair with Frida Kahlo.
  • So was Roald Dahl (the spy part, not the affair with Frida Kahlo). He served with Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.
  • The Theremin exists.
  • Andrew Jackson was so vulgar that his parrot, who learned every word he knew from his presidential owner, was ejected from his funeral for cussing.
  • William Walker, a private US citizen in the antebellum south, once took over Nicaragua with an army he mustered by himself, and was president there for a year before he was overthrown
  • Percy Shelley had a disease that caused calcium to build up in his heart, so when he died and was cremated, his heart was so bone-like it did not burn. It was pulled from the ashes of his funeral pyre and given to his wife Mary Shelley, who kept it in a drawer, wrapped in poetry, until she died and it was buried with her.
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine rose from relative obscurity to become queen of both France and England at different points in her life. She went on Crusade with one king, and led her sons in a revolution against the other.
  • The Dutch were once selling single tulip bulbs for the price of a house.
  • Daniel Sickels, a southern general in the Civil War, lost his leg in the battle of Gettysburg, then donated that severed leg to the Museum of Health and for the rest of his life would visit his leg each year on the anniversary of its amputation.
  • Pope Pius II had a career as an erotic novelist before becoming pope.
  • So did Louisa May Alcott. Though she wasn’t a pope.
  • One man died during the Boston Tea Party when he got whacked over the head very sharply by a rogue crate of tea. Rather than bury him, because they were sort of in a hurry, he was tossed into a barn and decided they’d come back for him later. When they returned the next day, he was gone. They found him drinking at the pub. LOL, JK, not dead, just knocked out.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was shot just before giving a speech, but the pages of his extremely large speech folded up inside his breast pocket slowed the bullet enough to keep it from doing major damage. He was still bleeding pretty seriously, but before consenting to receive any medical attention, he finished the damn speech.
  • Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle were friends, both obsessed with spiritualism (though had a falling out when Doyle faked a séance to impress Houdini).
  • In 1788, the Austrian army attacked itself and lost ten thousand men.

And that’s just the stuff I could think of off the top of my  head.

Do you have a favorite unbelievable historical fact? Leave it in comments—I eat this stuff up!


  1. And then left me behind when he went to fight the Yankees in the War of Northern Aggression


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in which I protest taxation without representation

Last Saturday, a group of Bostonians1 dressed as Mowhawk Indians snuck aboard the British ship The Eleanor and dumped over a hundred crates of tea into Boston Harbor in protest of unjust taxes without representation.

Here’s photographic evidence of the event:


Okay so what actually happened is that the Shark and I went to the Boston Tea Party Museum and got to reenact the Boston Tea Party. Including the part where you throw crates of tea into the harbor while causing a ruckus. We were really good at that part. We were also really good at the part where we were asked to vocally show our support to Samuel Adams’s speech about the tyrannical British rule. There was much foot stomping and pew banging and shouting of “Huzzah!” and “Fie!” in turn.

I haven’t done a lot of touristy things here in Boston. I keep waiting for someone to come visit me so I have an excuse to do them. But the Tea Party Museum was the Shark’s birthday gift to me, since we have both been insanely curious what was going on every time we walked by the harbor and saw tourists throwing tea into the water.


The Boston Tea Party Museum is awesome. Mostly because it is not the sort of museum where you walk around quiet galleries and read long signs and look at artifacts you have no context for looking at. It is the sort where you get to attend a Sons of Liberty meeting, put feathers in your hair, board a replica of the ships that were in the harbor, and fling crates of tea overboard2. It’s living history, which is the best kind of history. If you find yourself in Boston anytime between now and the end of the world, you should go to the Tea Party Museum and take part in a historic event. It is well-worth the treason charges and possible hanging.


Saturday was such a good day, for a lot of reasons. Before we went to the museum, the Shark and I got lunch on the waterfront. While walking around with our sandwiches, we stumbled upon one of the many colorfully painted pianos located around Boston3. We ended up sitting by the water and listening to this handsome young man play the most beautiful song while people gathered around him and little kids danced. And the sky was blue, and the sun was on the water, and it was that perfect fall sort of warm, and my sandwich was delicious, and I was just completely overcome with how wonderful the world was in that moment.


This month has beaten me down a little bit. I’ve fallen hard-core in love with Boston, which has been great, but there’s been a lot of disappointment, and a lot of things didn’t go as expected. It’s been a little discouraging. But this moment, this beautiful moment and the whole lovely, mad day that followed, was a peculiar sort of answer to a prayer. The sort of moment that makes you wonder how you could be sad in a world so bright and lovely.


  1. Mostly tourists and non-natives.
  2. And at the end you get to sample the types of tea that were thrown overboard by the Sons of Liberty. All I will say is it was good that I was not a Colonial tea drinker. Those things would clear your sinuses with a sip, they were strong!
  3. This is exactly what it sounds like. Pianos are released into the wild around the city and anyone can play them.
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in which the MT goes to college

When I was twelve years old, my birthday present was new paint, furniture, and carpet in my bedroom. After we cleared all the old furniture out and my dad painted, we had one day between the installation of the carpet and the moving in of the new furniture. And I had an empty, empty room.

So the MT and I did what any two kids would do. We took our Star Wars action figures, separated them between good guys and bad guys on opposite sides of the room, and had the Epic Action Figure Battle of the Century.

It was our longest Star Wars game ever, which is saying a lot. We played for hours. I think my parents actually consented to delay moving in the furniture so we could keep playing1.And towards the end of it all, I remember lying on the floor in the center of the room, me with Anakin and the MT with Yoda, listening to our voices echo against the empty walls and come back to us. And the MT said, “Can we do this forever?”

Piano Recital 018

Look at the little MT and the little Mackenzi Lee.This is probably the cutest we ever were. Also the last time we touched each other.

But we didn’t. The next morning, the new furniture got moved in. The Star Wars game ended. And we didn’t play with the action figures too much after that. I got older, and pretty soon the MT did too. We put the action figures in the basement, and we grew up.

This past week, the MT and I were driving around Cottonwood Heights doing some last minute shopping to prelude her move to Logan, Utah, where she’s going to be starting college on Monday. We were talking about dumb stuff2. But as we drove down Fort Union, I looked over her and all I wanted to say was, “Can we do this forever?”


The MT is my only sister. There really hasn’t been a time when we weren’t close. For the past eighteen years, I have never been in our house without her. Even when I’ve gone away, I could always count on her being there when I came back, sprawled in the green Lazy boy, sketching with her big blue headphones and her grunge band t-shirts. She would look up at me and say, “Oh, you’re here.” And then go back to her drawing like I’d never left.

But on Saturday, the MT packed her life in our Subaru, and she drove to Logan. And in all likelihood, the MT and I will never be in the same place at the same time again for a summer or a year. The most we’ll have is spotty weeks of vacation and Christmas. We’ll grow up, we’ll move away, we’ll have our own lives separate from each other.

mt and me

This was a while ago. The MT was still a blonde. And those sunglasses died years ago.

It’s very rare in life that we know something is the last time. We don’t know the last time we’re going to see someone or the last time we’re ever going to visit a place. Usually things just disappear without warning. But last week, I was so acutely aware of the fact that the MT and I were living out the last days of our lives thus far.

I was pretty blue about it on Sunday. I kept saying things like, “If the MT were here…”

But I realized sad is the wrong thing to be. Sad is a waste of time, and totally misplaced. Because there are so many amazing and cool things that are about to happen to the MT, and too me too, I suppose, and this is just a step on the path towards them. And it’s funny how sometimes you can’t imagine things changing, but as soon as they do, you can’t imagine ever going back to how they were before. Mostly because it’s just time to be different.


So here’s to the MT. Here’s to all the things she’s done and a whole new set of adventures ahead of her. Here’s to the things she’ll learn and the people she’ll meet, to the totally wonderful things that will happen to her and the really sucky things too, and to how she’ll deal with them—with grace and courage and kindness. I know she will, because she’s my sister, the only person I know as well as myself, and I know that she is extraordinary.

I don’t always know what to believe in, but I know I believe in her.


Our relationship in a picture.

Good luck at college, MT. And whatever you do, be good or be good at it.

  1. My dad joined us at one point to be all the bad guys, and pulled what is maybe the sneakiest move in the history of Star Wars action figures. He took this random snowman figure from our doll house and sent him as a representative from the bad guys to parlay with the MT and my good guys. As the snowman walked across no man’s land, he said, “Don’t hurt me! I’m just a snowman!” So the MT and I called a cease fire. Then the snowman whipped out a machine gun and massacred us. Nefarious.
  2. We mostly we communicate in Doctor Who quotes and trivia.
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in which I bid farewell to a friend

About a week ago, I lost someone very dear to me.

Okay, it wasn’t a someone. It was a something. A pair of black high heels.

I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous. Mourning over a pair of shoes. But before you laugh, know that these were no ordinary shoes.

First I need to make something very clear. I don’t wear high heels. I just can’t. I tip over. They hurt my feet. I get them caught in every crack in the sidewalk and sink them into the grass. I can’t walk farther than from my desk to the printer1 in high heels. High heels are one of my greatest fears.

A few years ago, just before I started my freshman year of college, my life was changed when my mom came home from Dillard’s with a pair of black high heels for me. I said absolutely not, no, I can’t wear heels, I’m not taking high heels to college. I already had a pair of ½-inch black heels that we had branded my Sensible Shoes because they were made for eighty year old women with bunions. But I loved them, and I told my mom I didn’t need more black high heels, particularly these, which added an extra inch to my usual half-inch limit. Just try them on, she said. And I, being the ever-obedient daughter, did as I was told. Absolutely not, I said as I was putting them on, there’s no way I’m keeping these…

But once I got them on and did a few laps around the house, I had to admit, they were nice shoes. They had a T-strap, which made me feel like a World War II pin-up girl. And I didn’t tip over when I wore them. They were easy to walk in, and comfortable. I hadn’t known high heels could be comfortable.

So I said okay, and I started wearing them.

And then I basically didn’t take them off for four years.


On graduation day! They look so happy….

These shoes went everywhere with me. Utah State University, Chester, Paris, London, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Salt Lake2. Seriously. Everywhere. Wherever I moved, they were one of the two pairs of shoes I brought with me. I have walked cobblestones in them. I have raced after trains in them. I have traversed wet, muddy lawns in them. I have acted in two different plays while wearing them. I have directed plays while wearing them. I’m confident I could have run a marathon in them.

They were truly the perfect shoe3.


That’s actually me. In the red, if that wasn’t clear. And I am wearing the shoes.

And then a few weeks ago, I went out to lunch with my dad. While we were walking back to my office, something didn’t feel right. My perfect shoes were feeling a little tipsy. They even hurt a little. I mentioned to my dad that they felt a little wobbly. He said he could probably fix them–he’d look at them when I got home.

Well he did look at them, and determined he couldn’t see anything wrong, but I could feel something was off. The heel was still wobbling. My mother suggested trying the shoemaker, who had so lovingly replaced a piece of the sole for me a year earlier when the cobblestones of Harvard Square had started to take their toll. The next day, when we collected the shoes, the shoemaker delivered the fatal diagnosis. Something inside the heel had broken. I don’t remember all the technical terms, I was too hysterical. But I got the takeaway: he could fix it…but it would cost more than buying a new pair of shoes.


their appearance in “As You Like It” at the University of Chester. Most of my pictures of these perfect shoes are from plays since I rarely have other reasons to take a picture with shoes included.So I have lots of pictures of me wearing them, but you can’t seem them. Tragic.

And so, it is with a heavy heart, that I say farewell to my dear black T-straps. They went down fighting, and shall be given a hero’s burial. And they shall forever live in my heart. The paragon of shoes. The heel that ruined all other heels for me.

Rest in peace, my friends.  Until we meet again.


  1. A distance of approximately seven feet.
  2. One of these things is not like the other….
  3. Were! Sob! This is where the story gets sad…
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in which I accomplish 101 things in 1001 days

Right  now, I am sitting out on my porch in the sunshine, listening to She & Him’s new CD, drinking lemonade in my pajamas.

Look at me. With all this free time. Blogging without guilt. It is a beautiful thing.

In all the excitement of the last month (finals, bombings, and what have you) I forgot to talk about something mildly cool in my life. So backtrack with me for a moment.

A little under three years ago, I started a project called 101 in 1001. This was where I sat down and made a list of 101 things I wanted to do in the next 1001 days. Some of them were silly. Some of them were serious. Some of them were travel related, since I had just found out I was about to jet set off to Europe for a year. Lots of them were theater related. Some of them were weird and random. But there they were, 101 things I wanted to do.

My 1001 days ended on April 14 of this year. I did not accomplish everything on my list (partially because some of the things were really stupid and others were impossible, for financial reasons or other), but I’m proud of what I did accomplish. It’s a weird list though. It makes me aware of just how much I’ve changed since I wrote it and how different my priorities are. And it’s weird to look back and think about where and who I was 1001 days ago, before I had done any of these things, and how that version of me doesn’t exist anymore.

But I like me better now. A lot of these things made me much more awesome than I was before.

So here is my list! The things in bold are the things I did accomplish. I took off a few that were rather personal, so as not to make anyone feel uncomfortable, so if you count them, you’ll realize there’s not 101. I also added commentary and photos to a few. Because that’s more fun.

Mackenzi Lee’s 101 in 1001

Bake a pie
Read Gone with the Wind
Direct a play


this play! Coriolanus! Aw Coriolanus….

Visit the Bronte home
Read the complete works of Shakespeare
Pay my own rent
Go to Paris

Paris 104

tiny, but it’s me!

Read the Book of Mormon
Visit three new statesMassachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut
Watch an Academy Award-winning film
Swim in the Mediterranean – I waded. I’m not really a swimmer. 
Apply to grad school – I am shocked I had enough foresight to put this on my list 1001 days ago. Back when I had no direction.
Volunteer for a cause I believe in
Plant a gardenwhen I worked at This is the Place Heritage Park, which feels like lifetimes ago rather than just 1001 days ago, I planted a vegetable garden, which yielded watermelon, gourds, and beets. I had to leave for England before most stuff was ripe, but I harvested and ate the watermelon anyways. It was not ready. But it still tasted like victory, because I had grown it and it was not dead.
Write a novel
Buy red high heels (and wear them somewhere)
Go to Italy


Not sure why Italy got preferential treatment on this list.

Fly a kite on the beach
Get a new and different hair cut
Go on a date with a man with facial hair you may remember this story
Go to a Kate Nash concert
Go to a She & Him concert
Go to a castle


one of many. But Conwy was my favorite!

Drive on a motorcycle/scooter – while I did not technically do the driving, a friend of mine gave me a lift through Logan a few days before I graduated      
See “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” live ah, three years ago Mackenzi. Little do you know that one day, you will not only see Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me live, but you will be part of creating it.


can you spot my name? Of course you can, because it’s fifteen letters longer than everyone else’s.

Buy a reliable messenger bag Duluth Packs. Seriously.
Make a friend at a coffee shop I’m not totally sure why this ended up on the list. Probably because I was kind of in my hippie phase, and I thought hanging out at coffee shops was hip. Either way, my antisocialness won on this one. 
Ride in a hot air balloon – I obviously had no sense of how much this cost before I added it to the list
Do service outside of the US – When I wrote this (again in my hippie phase) I was envisioning Peace Corps or something. But instead, I did service while I was living in England. I’m counting that. 
Drink a pina colada  virgin pina colada. I didn’t know what alcohol was when I made this list.

Greece 432

Go backpacking
Read a book in a day – yeah, I’ve only done this ninety-five times since starting grad school
Enter a poetry slam – alas, I am shy and my poetry is terrible
Go to a temple outside of the US
Learn 3 guitar songs – lol nope. 
Attend a ballet
See an iconic movie – Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had never seen it until last year. It’s now one of my favorites.
Go to a pub
Go to a midnight showing of a movie
Go on a road trip – Scotland! Lake District! Wales! Woo!
Buy a whole outfit in one shot
Take a great photo and frame it – Special thanks to 14 on this one.
Go boating  – I’m gonna go ahead and count kayaking down the Chicago River and cruising down the Rhine
Go to a classy party
Enter a photo contest – luckily I did not write “win a photo contest”
Buy a crèche
Sew a dress
Spend a day at the Louvre

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this photo could technically also be proof of the “new and different haircut” item on the list. Because have you seen my hair now?

Go on a cruise
Be in a Shakespeare play
Learn to change a tire
Write a song – I was going to do this after I learned the guitar. 
Kiss in the rain
Be in a musical – Jane Eyre woo!


that’s me. Lighting Rochester’s house on fire. As one does.

Climb a tree
Visit Stratford Upon Avon
See a Royal Shakespeare Company show

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or four

Pay for someone else at the drive through
Buy a vintage bike – this was nixed when I realized how bad I am at biking.
Take a dance class
Draw a chalk mural


though I did not draw the Tree of Life in the corner. I’m not that religious.

Sleep outside (without a tent)
Build a snowman
Meet a celebrity


Authors count. This guy especially counts.

Go to a fashion show
Have a garden party
Start a blog
Go to an amusement park
Write to someone I admire/who influenced me
Learn to do the splits – ha. right. 
Do something that scares me – every time I sit down to write, I accomplish this
Read a Sherlock Holmes book – and to think I put this even before I was obsessed with Sherlock
Graduate from college

grad photos 033

I realize this proves nothing. But I did graduate.

Learn how to properly apply eyeliner – this was long overdue three years ago
Go a month without facebook
Visit the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden
Overcome my diet coke addiction – I have actually done this! In the last month! And I am REALLY proud of myself.
Make a film – this film!
Get a short story published
Cook a whole dinner by myself
See a Broadway play


among a few others.

Get a job
Go to a national park I have never visited before
Go to a film festival
Go horseback riding
Live abroad
Choose a career path
Visit ten countries – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Greece…did I miss any?
Sing karaoke
 Ride a train
Read 100 books – ha. Yes. I did this.  
Lose 15 pounds
Move out

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in which I complete the first half of my degree

As of yesterday, I have completed my second semester of grad school.

I turned in my last paper. Gave my last presentation. And walked out of Simmons College half a master.

I feel like this:



happy giff


I thought about crunching the numbers and doing some big final wrap up of how many books I read, how many papers I wrote, how many pens I chewed to pieces over the course of the year.

But after all those books, papers, and pens, I am understandably burnt out.

So no to the number crunching. Just me saying that I have completed my first year of grad school, and I am now going to take a well-deserved few days to read whatever I want1, watch some TV, and eat celebratory frozen yogurt2.

Here’s me saying I am done. And I promise I will be more interesting when the blisters on my fingers from excessive typing heal.

  1. Speaking of books I’m reading, I just finished the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld and OH MY GOSH I AM OBSESSED. They are outstanding pieces of fiction with one of the greatest heroines in YA and one of the most engaging and creative premises of all time. READ THEM.
  2. I had a cold this week—my first cold in three years. Fortunately it was extremely mild, but I did end up with a nasty sore throat for the last three days. This has resulted in me making five trips to the frozen yogurt shop across the street from my house in the last three days. And the same clerk has been working every time. He finally asked me if I wanted a frequent buyer card. I said no and ran away.
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on the Boston bombings

I’ll keep this quick, because I don’t have much to say on this subject, and I know there are a lot of other people who do.

First of all, thanks everyone for your messages and calls yesterday. I’m safe and fine. I was in my apartment when the bombs went off in Copley Square. For the first time in my life, I was grateful that too much homework kept me indoors. I know people who ran in the race and people who were at the finish line when the bombs went off, but they are all safe.

Second of all, I want to add my sentiment to everyone else who has been saying that Boston is a tough city that is going to rise above this. One person set off a bomb yesterday, but there were hundreds of people who rushed to help those who were injured. And 1 to 100 ain’t bad odds.

Third of all, this is the first time in my life I’ve been this close to a tragedy of this scope. My apartment’s about two miles away from Copley Square. I walk through there all the time to go to the Boston Public Library. I get my hair cut a block away. I’ve eaten at restaurants that now have their windows blown out. I stood in line on that street where the bomb went off to see Buddy Wakefield perform a few weeks ago. But for me, the most lasting impact and the saddest thing is that this incident stole our feeling of safety in our own city.


When I was a junior in high school, there was a shooting at Trolley Square, a shopping center near my home in Salt Lake. I love Trolley Square, and I’ve been there many times since the shooting, but every time I go, even years later, it’s still the first thing I think of when I’m there, and it makes me a little uneasy. I hate that one person and one senseless act of violence was able to steal that feeling of safety from me, so that even walking around a shopping mall makes me nervous. We saw the same thing happen this past summer in Aurora, Colorado, and this winter in Newtown, Connecticut. Beyond the direct victims, the entire country was robbed of feeling safe in their movie theaters and schools, and that to me is so tragic.

And now my entire city feels like it is walking on eggshells. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jumpy getting on the train today. But here I am at school, and tomorrow I’ll go to work, and my week will proceed just the same as it would have if the bombings hadn’t happened. Everything there is to know about life can be summed up in three words: it goes on. And Boston will go on too.

Because Boston is freaking awesome.

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