Tag Archives: new beginnings

in which my blog turns two

For the second year in a row, I totally missed my blog’s birthday. For shame.

But in the wake of that missed anniversary, I started thinking about what this blog is, exactly.

Lots of people start blogs, post twice, and then abandon them because, let’s be real, blogging is a lot of work. Lots of people think blogging will be easy, but it’s not. I hear a lot of writers express how much they don’t like blogging and so they don’t do it. I also hear people say that blogging is a waste of time because every word on your blog is a word not written in your novel. I also hear people say your blog has to be something. It has to have a brand. You have to be a book review blog, or a writer blog, or a personal blog, or a DIY blog, or a photography blog. You have to be a thing, or people get confused and don’t know what you are and go somewhere else where lines are more clearly drawn.

I admit—this blog is sort of confusing. It began as a chronicle of my days as an NPR intern, then transitioned into me as grad student, and now is sort of a chronicle of a writer’s life. I don’t totally know what it is. I might never know, and recently I’ve been trying to figure out what I want it to be.

“You should post more about writing,” I think sometimes. But then I think, “But everyone posts about writing, and I don’t really like writing about writing. It’s too meta.”

“You should post book reviews,” I sometimes think. But then I think, “But my opinions about books usually apply to me and no one else.”

“You shouldn’t post weird stories about your life,” I think sometimes. But then I think, “But I like posting weird stories about my life. They’re fun and different and sometimes too hilarious not to share.”

“You shouldn’t write such pseudo-intellectual posts, because they make you sound pretentious and insufferable,” I sometimes think. But then I think, “But sometimes I have to talk issues out with myself before I can figure out my own opinions, and a blog is a good place to do that.”

“You should be consistent and only write about one thing,” I sometimes think.

“You should make this blog a marketing tool,” I sometimes think.

“You should drink more water because all that Diet Coke is rotting your insides,” I sometimes think.

But then I think, “But I like Diet Coke so much better.”

What am I saying? I’m saying that I might be the last person on earth who sincerely loves blogging. I feel like I can be sort of unfiltered and unbridledly myself on this blog. This is my voice, a voice I don’t get to use in my fiction, and it’s very different than other things I write, in structure and tone and topic. I talk about what’s on my mind here. Sometimes that’s writing. Sometimes that’s anxiety. Sometimes that’s my family. Sometimes that’s traveling. Sometimes that’s getting my violin fixed by a Bond villain.

Maybe that will someday make me a PR nightmare. But for now, my blog will remain a really awesome mess. Thank you for being here with me, and I hope you continue to enjoy it.

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in which I start the next novel

Kids, this week was a doozy.

Coming back from a vacation is always rough, and I recognize that the first week of a new schedule is always jarring. But this particular first week raised a particular variety of hell that I was not prepared for.

First of all, I started a new job in addition to my current one. Which is awesome, but also far more work far faster than I expected. Then things at the first job were a bit mad. I also started in on the most demanding class of my academic career. I also took on some freelance jobs unexpectedly. Throw on top of that an MFA reading, two theatrical excursions, and an unexpected financial hiccup.

And then, on top of all that, I was supposed to start a novel1.

The project that has been lovingly named my post-modern revisionist steampunk Frankenstein novel is going on the shelf for a while until I’m far enough away from it that I can be objective about it and make it better. The project that has been lovingly named ANXIETY has been sent by my agent to editors around the country. And now I have a looming January 31 deadline for the first submission of my next novel.

I haven’t started.

I did, however, spend last night watching documentaries on tulips. Another hour or so putting books on hold at the library for research. And most of the afternoon making up names of fake Dutch towns. Basically, I was doing absolutely everything to avoid starting this novel.

So tonight I took a critical look at myself. Self, I said. Why are you so dutifully and emphatically avoiding starting this novel?

Starting anything is hard. Stories can exist in this sort of transitory, changeable state in your head, but putting them down on paper feels very finite, even though they’re still changeable. It’s another step towards becoming “real.”

The idea for this project began as a Wikipedia entry. Now, as a story is taking shape in my brain, it’s a story with a lot of tough questions I don’t feel qualified to answer. I love the YA community deeply, but I feel like sometimes they are just waiting to jump on anyone who doesn’t answer big questions in a way they like, and I’m stressed about being wrong. Even if I never publish this novel. Even if no one ever sees it besides me.

But then, as usual, the internet provided me with words of wisdom from Lemony Snicket:

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.”

So I’m starting my novel. I’m publishing this post, and then I’m starting writing.

Ready. Go.


  1. Yeah, supposed to. We’ll get to that.
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in which I don’t get an answer

Years ago, when I was in high school and my world spun on a different axis, I auditioned for a play. I wanted the lead role really badly. I was having the typical “what do I do with my life?” crisis and I thought that getting cast in this role would somehow confirm that theater was my place in the world I was about to enter. When I got a callback, I thought, I am going to get this part, and this part is going to be my answer to all the big questions I was asking about theater and the future.

But it wasn’t.

I didn’t get the part. And I was pretty sad about that for a while1. Mostly, I was upset because I thought this show was my answer—something that was going to set me on a course towards my destiny—and it wasn’t.

But it turns out, it kind of was. Because I wasn’t cast in that show, I had my first opportunity to direct a play, which set me indirectly on a path towards children’s literature2.

Fast forward a few years. Just before I moved to Boston, I started having Second Thoughts. You may be familiar with Second Thoughts. They are those niggling little worms of doubt that accompany any big change or decision you ever make in life. If you’re me, they also come with anxiety, nausea, and mild panic attacks every thirty or so minutes. How would I ever pay off these student loans? What was the point of an MFA when people get published all the time without one? Isn’t children’s lit just a stupid thing to study? Maybe this was a waste of time.

So the big question became, Should I move to Boston?

Then, a few months before I moved, I was asked to interview for a dream job. This is a sign, I thought. I am going to get this job, and I will not do my MFA and I will not move to Boston and I will not get up to my eyeballs in debt. This is my answer.

But it wasn’t.

Since you read this blog, you probably know I didn’t get that job. I was a sad over this for a while, and this was magnified by my anxiety over the move to Boston and the start of the MFA. But it turns out that job was my answer. My answer was moving to Boston, because now I’m exactly where I should be.

About a year ago, I got my heart broken in an “I will never love again” sort of way. But then I met a young man with whom I had Chemistry with a capital C. He was handsome and charming and we had the same favorite poem and affinity for jazz-age disillusionment. This guy, I thought, is going to counteract all the damage done by the first one. Even if we don’t have some epic love story, he is going to restore my faith in love and romance. This is my answer, I thought.

But it wasn’t.

He ended up being a tool, and I ended up seeing The Great Gatsby alone. But in a way, he was an answer. An answer to the question of, “Do I need someone to be happy with who I am3?”

This week, I thought I was going to get an answer.

But, as you might have guessed, I didn’t.

And it’s hard, in the wake of disappointment, to look at things not working out as maybe being an answer. I can tell myself these stories and still not recognize the direct correlation to my current situation.

But while right now I am lamenting the fact that I did not get my answer, a small part of me understands that in a way, I did.

  1. I was definitely pretty scowly as I sat in the audience and watched the performance.
  2. Via directing plays for people, then directing plays for slightly smaller people, and then discovering that those small people are usually the best people.
  3. Answer: No.
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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 share the best news in a while

I have been sitting on this news for a while, but I kept holding off posting it because somehow putting it on the blog makes it real, and I didn’t want to jinx it. But the papers have been signed, revisions undertaken, and lots of happy dancing performed, so I guess it’s pretty official, and I should tell the story.

This is a story I didn’t think I’d be telling for a long time. Someday, yes, but not this summer, or even this year, and certainly not today.

But here I am, telling it.

This is the story of how I signed with a literary agent.

A note for the non-publishing crowd:
An agent is an author’s representative to the publisher. It is really, really tricky to get traditionally published without an agent these days. Unfortunately, it can also be really, really tricky to sign with an agent. It takes time, patience, and a lot of anxiety. Having an agent does not guarantee you publication, and signing with an agent does not mean I am getting published. But it does mean that, in the words of the great Neil Gaiman, I am walking towards the mountain. Getting closer.

In order to tell this story, I have to tell the story of me as a writer. It begins not so long ago, in the year 2005…

I wrote my first novel when I was fourteen, because I have always been a precocious overachiever. It was written in mad frenzies of writing throughout my ninth grade year, mostly on our Windows 95 computer with the screechy dial up internet. When I finished, I read it over only once to move around a few commas and revel in my own genius. I knew nothing about getting published, but I read somewhere that you need an agent first. Since this was the days before the internet was really a thing, I checked out the ninety-pound Writer’s Market book from the library, wrote down a lot of addresses in my composition book, and then I snail mailed out my query letters1 to publishers and agents. For good reasons, no one was interested.  Shortly after that, I discovered the theater, and writing fell of the radar in favor of a different artistic outlet. I spent a few years writing nothing but terrible poetry that mostly stemmed from unrequited crushes and break ups.

a photo I took in Riga, Latvia, where book #2 was set

Fast forward to my freshman year of college. I wrote my second novel2 on the upper floors of the Utah State University library with raspberry Italian soda and snow beating down the windows. When I finished, I did no revision and gave almost no thought to genre, though I recognize now I was essentially writing a young adult novel with adult characters. I wrote my query and sent it out as a romance novel with no understanding of what that meant3. No agent wanted anything to do with it, and I retired the manuscript after only twenty-five rejections.

Hamlet played a large part in book #3

Two years later, I found myself in the same library, but this time four floors below in the coffee shop, and it was fall. I had just returned from my study abroad in England and I was wildly unhappy in small-town Utah after the excitement of Europe. So in spite of being in possession of a schedule that was essentially suicidal, I used every free moment I had to write a middle grade novel. When I finished, I did some light revision for about a month and then blitzqueried. I got one partial request, which quickly turned into a rejection. That was it. Fifty rejections without a bite later, I abandoned it4.

I know my rejection is nothing compared to some people’s, but it wore me down, especially when all I seemed to read was stories about writers who sent ten queries and ended up with nine offers of representation. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I was getting better. Every project was better than the last, and I felt like I was getting closer to something publishable.

I learned a lot about the publishing industry that year. I did a lot of reading. I read about revising, and about how some authors throw out almost the entire first draft. I started reading other writer’s blogs, and saturated myself with young adult literature. I wrote a lot, most of it terrible and unusable. I read more books. I applied for my MFA, and committed myself to the world of children’s literature and the decision to be a writer. I realized that even though it felt like I had done a lot of work on the other projects, it wasn’t the sort of work I needed to be doing. I had gotten better, but I wasn’t there yet.

Then, in January, I started what I knew in my gut was the best thing I had ever written. I wrote it in the USU library coffee shop between classes with snow howling outside the windows. Sometimes I kept writing just to postpone the cold walk home. I shortened my work hours so I could write more. I drank a lot of diet coke, and spent a lot of late nights staring at my computer screen, gave up the few social activities I had in favor of writing. And then I finished it, and I wrote it all over again. I rewrote this book for over a year5. I revised and revised and revised. I deleted about eighty percent of the first draft6 and rewrote it. Then I revamped the plot, deleted all that I had revised, and revised again. I did research. I workshopped it with my Simmons class. I wrote and I wrote and I rewrote and I rewrote7.

my lovely Venice! Home of book #4.

And then, in March, I decided the manuscript was as finished as I could make it. And like the Scottish king of old, I screwed my courage to the sticking place, and I queried.

This time, I had very different results. I sent about thirty queries, and ended up with fifteen agents interested in reading the manuscript.

And then a few weeks ago, I got an offer.

Which leads me to my big announcement: I am officially an agented writer! As of very shortly ago, I am signed with Rebecca Podos at the Rees Literary Agency, and I could not be happier.

Really. I’ve read all this stuff about when you find an agent, it should be like falling in love—you just know when it’s right. And with Rebecca, I just knew. We had an amazing phone call where she started listing things she loved about my manuscript and I started writing “OMG” in bold letters all over my note-taking paper because she was pulling lines and thoughts and ideas out of my manuscript that I couldn’t believe she picked up on after one reading. She just got my book.

I could not be more excited to be working with her. I could not feel luckier. I still smile every time I think about it, and I’m so excited for whatever is coming next. Who knows what that will be. There’s probably more heartbreak and more rejection down the road, but for now, I am just holding on to this feeling. This awesome.


  1. Pitch letters, if you don’t speak publishing.
  2. Which also stemmed from an unrequited crush and a break up, ironically.
  3. This would have been the most chaste romance novel in the history of romance novels. There was like one kiss and a lot of unrequited pining. Which also summarizes my high school years pretty well.
  4. I still love this project dearly, though I recognize it needs an absurd amount of work. Someday I would like to revive it.
  5. With a brief two-month hiatus while I was in Chicago.
  6. Not all at the same time, thank goodness.
  7. It should be noted that each of these different stages was accompanied by intense periods of self-doubt and crippling anxiety.
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In which I mark a belated anniversary

Yesterday, I got a new phone. Which is good, because the old one was rebelling like a Russian Bolshevik1. It’s newest trick was randomly calling people in my address book. That and not receiving and/or sending most text messages. But it was doing that for a while.

So this morning in the shower while contemplating the life and death of a phone, I realized with a great stab of despair that with this old phone would die my personalized message from Carl Kassell on my voicemail! For shame! I must email Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me and see if he will record a copy for me, I thought to myself.

Thinking about “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” made me remember that it was almost a year ago to the day that I started my internship with them. It feels so long ago that I boarded a plane in a mild panic and moved to Chicago, which turned out to be the greatest city in America/maybe anywhere.

I thought about that plane ride, with only my laptop and my diet coke and my anxiety for company, and how I blogged on the plane ride over there. When suddenly it hit me…


I missed my blog’s birthday! I celebrated the dog’s birthday on Saturday, and in all the excitement of that, I totally forgot that Looking for Chicago/Boston turned the big 1 on Sunday! What a terrible blogger to forget my own blog’s birthday. As a childless single young woman, this blog is basically the longest relationship I have ever had. Forgetting its birthday could be cause for a breakup.

Fortunately, my blog is not the vengeful type. So we are going to be celebrating the big anniversary sometime in the upcoming week with a GIVEAWAY2!  Are you excited? You should be. It will probably involve books, and maybe cookies. And when it arrives, you should enter!

Stay tuned.

  1. See, that history degree wasn’t a total waste.
  2. A giveaway, you say? What sort of giveaway3?
  3. A super mega awesome foxy hot giveaway.
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in which I adopt a plant

Today was plant day at the Church Office Building. They apparently take the whole “going green” thing really literally here, because on the third Wednesday of every month, anyone can go down to the floral department in the basement and adopt a plant.

Really. It’s called plant adoption.

So naturally, I went, because I’m always up for doing weird things that will someday make a good story. And as a result, I am now the proud parent of this little guy.


Aw. Iddin he cute? He is tall and crazy, so he suits me.

His name is Mycroft. I’m going to feed him and water him1 and love him and he will live forever2. It has only been five hours, and I am already very attached to Mycroft. But I get attached to things really easily. Far more easily than I get attached to people.

I am a week and two days into my employment with the LDS Church. And so far, I really could not be happier. This is basically my dream job, and I enjoy immensely every task that has been thrown at me3. Working here has only served to further emphasize just how much I love children’s literature, and how passionate I am about writing for children.

One of my many assignments today was to go through the September issue of the magazine and change the names of any protagonists with overused or boring names4. Easy peasy, I thought, but as soon as I tried to think of names, my mind immediately went totally blank. Because that’s the way the world works. The same thing happens when someone asks me my favorite book, and I immediately forget every book I’ve ever read. So I turned for inspiration to the facebook. I logged on, wrote down the first names of about six friends who had recently posted, and turned it in.

I am certain this will not be an isolated incident. Meaning over the next year, many of you who are friends with me on the facebook may be featured5 in a Mormon children’s magazine. Pays to have friends in moderately high-ish places, doesn’t it?

On that note, if you have any stories from your childhood that you think would make a great story for The Friend, please send them my way! I’d also love any stories from your family history. I have made my project here to put more stories in the Friend that are historical in nature but NOT about pioneers. There are too many of those, and they make those of us without pioneer ancestors feel left out. So if your grandparents handed out Book of Mormons to Nazis or something equally as exciting, please feel free to share!


  1. I have to put him right by my computer screen, where I will see him everyday, or else I guarantee I will forget.
  2. Plant resurrection! It’s a thing!
  3. Today I wrote a poem about Jesus. And enjoyed it immensely.
  4. Or what one of my editors lovingly called “Mormon Belt Names.” Because we’re going for diversity here.
  5. Albeit in an obscure, roundabout way.
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in which I start anew

If you are here from The Writer’s Voice, bless you. Also, that entry is one post down! 

In the past week, two big things changed in my life.

First, I returned to Salt Lake. On a plane that took off late, with only my Dixie cup filled with Diet Coke to soothe my aching hunger resulting from eating nothing but twelve Red Vines for both lunch and dinner. If you couldn’t tell, it was a very long flight. But I survived. I am back in the great valley of the Salt Lake. Don’t get confused, even though the blog is still called looking for Boston. I’m in Salt Lake. As in Utah. Looking for Salt Lake just doesn’t have the same ring to it, frankly. On that note, if you are also in Utah and want to party, hit me up1. I’m here until September.

Second, and the reason that I came to Salt Lake to begin with, is that I started my new job, which is writing for the LDS Church’s children’s magazine, The Friend. So far, it is awesome. The whole deal is much less churchy than I anticipated, which is actually a relief. Though we are writing about Jesus, the place still feels like a normal office. Albeit a very conservatively dressed2 office where the men all open doors for you3 and everyone is alarmingly polite and there are a lot of people in little black nametags.

But the new job seems like it’s going to be a hit. I have been treated as a bit of an exotic flower since I arrived. I am a source of fascination to both the staff and the other interns, as I am neither from BYU nor an undergrad. I am apparently interesting both because I have worked out in the big, wide world in a variety of exciting settings,and because I am not coming to work directly from Provo5.  Our managing editor is also thrilled to have an intern that is actually making the focus of her academic study writing for children6. She even wants me to give weekly presentations to the staff on things I have learned from my program. No pressure.

Overall, it’s been a full week for me with a lot of big changes. Good changes, though. I also don’t anticipate blogging as much this summer, since—spoiler alert—having a full time job sort of eats up your social calendar. But I will be here. And I will be sharing with you all the many splendors of a life inside the LDS Church7.

On a semi-related note, my blogiversary is coming up – Looking for Chicago/Boston is turning the big 1! How would you all feel if I did a giveaway to go with it? Would you enter? What would be an awesome but also shippable prize? Leave ideas in comments!

  1. And there ain’t no party like a Van Engelenhoven party cause a Van Engelenhoven party includes cookies the size of your face and everyone arrives early and then has high social anxiety the whole time.
  2. I have worn skirts to my knees and sleeves every day and I still feel myself to be the most scantily clad person there.
  3. They also always let women walk into an elevator first. I’m sure this is a courtesy thing, but it could be nefarious. Send the women in first to make sure there’s no crouching lion hidden in the blind spot.
  4. They all knew what “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” was and were jealous of Carl Kassel on my answering machine! Phew.
  5. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
  6. When I first arrived, we had a very happy conversation about Extra Yarn and Marla Frazee, and I knew I was in the right place.
  7. Unrelated—by far the greatest part of my job so far is that my cubicle has been decorated with art children have sent in that has been rejected for various reasons, mostly because of their more creative tie in to the Church. They are all hilarious and awesome and delightful, and I wish I could post them here, but I think that’s a breach of confidentiality. Ah well. You will just have to imagine how hilarious they are. Or come visit me at work.
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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 try to conquer a mental block

So it’s been two weeks since I blogged. Not too much has happened in those two weeks. I did stuff. I went places. I wrote stuff. That’s actually what I want to talk about. Writing stuff.

This past week, I turned in my thesis proposal. My thesis is going to be a young adult novel. It will also probably be awesome. Here’s hoping for that, anyways. But this past week, when I’ve talked to friends and relatives about what’s going on in my life, I’ve said, “Oh, I’ve been working on my thesis proposal.” To which everyone immediately asks, “Oh, what’s your thesis about?” And I panic and say, “Nothing,” and then I go hide until they go away.

Because I really, really hate talking about my writing. This is a terrible thing for a writer just starting out, when you are basically the only person who talks up your own work. But I have some mental block against talking about it.


I think this is a two-pronged problem. First of all, telling people about my writing freaks me out, because it’s like putting the concoctions from the weirdest corners of your brain on display for everyone to judge you by. Can you imagine if fifteen years ago you met a woman in a Scottish coffee shop and said, “What are you writing about?” And she said, “A kid who goes to wizard school who kills this bad guy when he’s a baby, and there’s earwax flavored jellybeans and owls deliver the mail!” You would have said, “Okay crazy,” and left. My point is that out of context, all books sound like insane ravings. And I won’t have you judging me based on my insane ravings1.

The other reason I hate talking about my writing is because I don’t really feel like I’m actually a writer. Anyone with a blank word document can call themselves a writer. So what sets those people apart from the actual writers? In my mind, it’s always been publication. I don’t like telling people I’m a writer, and I like even less telling people that I’m trying to get published. Because then I feel some sort of accountability to them. I don’t want anyone coming back to me in a year and saying “What happened to that thing you wrote you were trying to get published?” And I have to say, “Yeah, about that…I’m a failure.”

But then it was pointed out to me last weekend that saying you’re not a writer until you get something published is like saying you’re not a parent until your child moves out. And that made a lot of weird sense. I want to talk about my writing. I want to be proud of the thing I do. So my spring/summer goal is to be better at talking about my writing. This does not mean that I am going to start blogging about it in any sort of detail. And if you ask me about it, I’ll probably still run away. But here I am acknowledging that I am writing something of novel length. And I will someday maybe try and publish it. And I am hoping it won’t suck.

  1. Seriously, sometimes I say them out loud and even I think I sound insane.
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