Random Thoughts

Gosh I have a lot on my mind right now. Some of the things I’ve been thinking about:

-It’s such a shock to see Notre Dame burning. So many people around the world feel a connection to that space — they’ve been there as worshippers, or snapped photos as tourists, or they recognize it as a famous landmark, or maybe they’re literally (or musical) fans of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s strange to see something that feels so permanent burning. Seeing the spire falling was a punch to the gut. I feel so emotional about it. I’m sure I’m not the only one. (We captured footage of Notre Dame for the most watched Olive Us video, Betty in Paris.)

-Having adult children is this whole other adventure that I wasn’t prepared for. Maude is finishing her second year at Berkeley. At the end of this semester, she plans to declare a Media Studies major with a Creative Writing minor, and she’s currently applying for summer internships. Her goal is to find an internship (anything related to media studies) in New York and spend the summer there. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? (And if you have any internship opportunities/info I can forward to Maude, I’m all ears!)

-One of the most helpful things Maude did in high school was create a resumé in Google Docs, using one of their templates. I have a lot of negative memories around tediously updating my own resumé, but for Maude is was actually really easy, because she just keeps making small updates to the original resumé and never has to start from scratch. She just opens up the doc, makes updates and she’s done. I had forgotten she did this, but remembered last week and want to encourage every high schooler to do the same.

Seeing her latest resumé (she updated it to apply for internships) was also a proud parenting moment. She’s had a lot of great experiences already and it’s easy to see she’d make an excellent addition to any team.

-One more Maude-related thought. In addition to wanting to head to New York for the summer, Maude is also interested in attending NYU for a semester in the fall. We started looking into it and were left with the idea that she would have to withdraw from Berkeley and apply to NYU in order to do so — which was discouraging. But then, Maude talked with a counselor at school and they advised her to look into being a Visiting Student, which would allow her to keep her spot at Berkeley.

I had never heard of Visiting Students but from what I can tell, the whole thing is exactly designed for what Maude has in mind. Visiting Student programs allow college kids to try another campus without having to actually transfer. Applications are simple and not competitive in the same way they are for incoming freshman. And apparently Visiting Student programs are commonplace at most of the big universities.

I don’t know if Maude will end up choosing to try a Visiting Student semester, but I’m so glad to know about these programs! And so grateful that the counselor gave Maude the right term to look up. (She had been searching under transfers and kept getting bummed out. It’s crazy how knowing the right term to use can change everything.)

I know many of you are heading into the college years and I thought you might find the info helpful. Being a Visiting Student seems like a great way to access amazing schools your student might have felt were out of reach.

-Something you might not know: My Twitter thread on irresponsible ejaculations is still alive and well. It was originally shared in September, but every single day it still gets hundreds of likes and retweets. Sometimes it goes viral in another language and all of sudden there will be tons of Spanish speakers or German speakers tagging me. Just today, author Rebecca Solnit shared it on Facebook and it started spreading around again.

It has brought some unexpected opportunities. For example, the thread has been included in several textbooks (with my permission), and a couple of publishers have reached out about using the thread as a basis for a book.

I didn’t take the book idea seriously at first, but I’ve had so many discussions about the topic, and written so many additional thoughts and rebuttals since September, that I’ve decided I’m at least going to develop a book outline and then see if I want to proceed.

-There are other book projects in early phases at our house as well. Ben Blair and I were approached about writing a parenting book and we have a proposal for that ready to hand in. I confess, this makes me nervous. It feels like such a personal topic, you know?

Ben is also writing a book about the Jobs of College — meaning what a student is supposed to be getting out of the college years beyond attending classes. I’ve already found his thoughts on this to be really helpful and I’m glad he’s writing it all out.

-Lately, Ben and I and the kids have really felt drawn to moving, but I’m pretty hesitant at the same time. To be honest, I’m still a bit traumatized from the last move. (Moving is hard!)

It’s a strange thing, because we keep talking about moving, but don’t know where where to go. We’ve talked seriously about India and Mexico City. But I get pretty overwhelmed when I think about navigating visa permissions, and how to find housing, and all the stuff involved with an international move. Of course, that makes moving back to France very appealing — because we know the ropes and could jump right in.

Or maybe we should just stay put. : )

That’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to my random thoughts, or you can leave your own random thoughts in the comments. I always love to hear what’s on your mind.

P.S. — More random thoughts.

34 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. What a fun thing to consider, moving abroad again! I admire your family’s imagination, even if you don’t go through with it it can be so fun to consider following a dream instead of squashing it as something silly.

    Do y’all still own your house in France? Wondering if that is where you’d end up if you head back there.

  2. We loved Oaxaca Mexico and plan on returning for as long as we can make work. We spent a month there recently.

    1. We just celebrated 5 years in Oaxaca – and 15 years total in Mexico. I can’t imagine my life anywhere else. Oaxaca, to our small family of mamá and 7-year-old, is community and color and collaboration. And so much deliciousness!

  3. Simply heartbroken over Notre Dame. When I my friend texted me, I expected to see a small fire, not the whole cathedral engulfed in flames…all 900 years of it. I am grateful to have seen the inside twice. Not only is it a stunning work of architecture, the atmosphere is so welcoming and loving. I remember the massive tome where guests of all nationalities and beliefs were able to sign their names and messages. It was filled with blessings for the world. Quite touching.

    And omg yes having older children is a such a different experience! I have had the bug to move as well but am also a bit hesitant. There’s so much change going on. For whatever reason, these next phases in life feel more uncentered to me than say getting married or having kids.

  4. I’d be interested to know how the financial cost of moving factors into your decision. You’ve furnished your home with such care.

    I started dreaming about moving back to a big city, but then I thought about all of the furniture and decor I’ve purchased to furnish my current home and the cost of moving with it, selling it at a loss, or putting it in storage is a bit overwhelming to think about. (If I moved to a city I’d certainly be living in a smaller place than I am here in the suburbs, so I couldn’t just move with it all.) It feels like I can’t really afford to move unless it’s for an opportunity that would pay me substantially more. Not to mention the fact that the house I’m in now is the first place I’ve owned and I’m so emotionally attached!

  5. Some universities have “planned leave” which allows students to remain in good standing at their university while they leave for a semester and do something different. Also, a “visiting student” might not be considered a “degree-seeking student” (because they are “visiting” rather than “admitted”) and this can impact eligibility for financial aid at the school they are “visiting.” These are just a few things to check into before you become a “visiting student.” It can vary by university.

  6. As a former admissions counselor, I’d like to also recommend the National Student Exchange program which allows students to (temporarily) attend a different university. Maybe it could be helpful to Maude.

  7. You can “study abroad” at NYU! I studied abroad at their London campus (highly recommend), but you can also do it at their NYC location. It’s not that much different than being a visiting student (or might even be the same?) but it meant that I could arrange it through my college’s study abroad office and any financial aid was seamlessly transferred– they even paid for my flight! Cal might be different, but at my undergrad I just kept paying their tuition, and then my college paid NYU for the semester. It made such a difference — not competitive, and also easy to show up as a study abroad student for a semester or year. Plus, then you have a community of other visiting students to hang out with, and don’t have to do orientation with all the first years. NYU takes tons of visiting students at all of their campuses (NYC, Abu Dhabi, London, Shanghai, etc.) so it was a super straight forward process and I found it very easy to navigate.

    I know GW also does a similar thing in D.C., and am assuming it’s also in other cities! Best of luck!

  8. I lost my breath as I watch the flames today on an icon that has brought so many people together in a myriad of ways. It was built by people who loved God and it will be rebuilt by the same!

    Regarding your remarks on being a “visiting student:”
    A student can also attend a NYU summer session. My daughter was admitted to NYU but decided to attend another university. She still wanted somehow to experience NYU. I lived and worked there in my 20s and I think I’ve convinced my kids they all need a big city experience! We had sublet as a family for a summer when she was younger and danced with a child’s group. Now having my third daughter attending university this upcoming fall, we found many, many options with schools and programs as either a visiting student, semester student or study abroad. Here is my take on it all…it is out there (one way or another!) if you want it!

    1. I am fairly indifferent to God but I love history, and art, and architecture, and music, and community, and Paris, and the memory of my 8-year-old daughter climbing Notre Dame’s towers two years ago today. It will be rebuilt by the WORLD. I have already donated.

  9. Your thoughts on the paradox of wanting to move and also the visceral memory of the trauma of moving really spoke to me. My family just moved two years ago. The decision to move was made mostly through my intuition about it. It just felt like something I needed to do. We needed to do. Most people thought we were crazy/admired our bravery. I am filled with questions about whether or not it was the right thing to do. I would love to know more of your thoughts on this topic. What makes you want to move? Why is it worth it even though it’s so hard? What do you hope your kids get from it? You? Is it vastly different than how you grew up?

    1. Katie: I would love to know how this experience was it for you. Did you move far? Was the lifestyle different (rural to city etc)? How did it affect your family? And are you happy with it?

    1. Me, too! It seemed like you were rather hoping to relocate there last fall. What happened? What’s happening now?

  10. Though it isn’t an internship, Joanna Goddard of the wonderful blog Cup of Jo just posted today that she is looking to hire a new editorial assistant. What a wonderful place THAT would be to intern!

  11. You mention moving is hard- the selling of the house to move is very hard too! We tried in January and did not have to move, so when we had a lot of showings, but no offers, we took it off of the market. We are planning on putting our house back on the market this week. We need to have the sell of this house to buy our next one. We should get the 20% down for a loan with the sell of this house, so that is great. Showing your house is so very odd. In our little experience, people treat your private house like it is public property! The strangest thing, which my 9-year-old observed, was that the people who visit your house leave an odor. Not always, bad, but different. Wish us luck! :)

  12. I’ve lived abroad (in three countries) since early 2010, and my husband and I talk often about moving back to the US. I worry that we’ll get settled and live happily for three or four years, and then decide it’s time for a move! So I’m interested to read that your family is feeling like it’s time to move, and would love to know more about that if you want to share :)

  13. thank you for the google template idea for a resume. I already helped my son buy a template online and it looks really nice but google would have saved us so much more time!

  14. If you guys decide on India, I am happy to offer suggestions. I lived there on and off from 2005-2016 and have lots of thoughts. I’m lucky to be an overseas citizen since my parents are from India, so I don’t know as much about visas and things like that, but I can put you in touch with friends who have gone through the process and can also provide lots of travel thoughts.

  15. What incredibly helpful tips re: Visiting Student. Such a thoughtful thing to share – thank you! you are SO right its often just knowing the phrase to research!
    I wanted to follow up to this with a helpful tip of my own in the same vein. I am in the creative field (Senior Designer/PM at a large commercial architecture firm) and one of the most helpful little things throughout the last 10 years of my career has been to keep a running portfolio website.
    Currently i use sqaurespace as a platform and it is so easy go after interesting opportunities at a moments notice when you continuously have an updated portfolio that you keep current. Its helped me tremendously in going after some interesting projects so i wanted to share!

    1. Thank you, this is good advice! I’m a ceramicist and organisationally phobic, currently being chased by my accountant for my last 2 years taxes. Easy ways to keep everything up to date would be a gamechanger for me. Thank you :)

  16. As an east coast-raised kid, the domestic exchange to a university on the west coast was one of my most meaningful college experiences. I had never been that far from home and fell in love with California. All of the classes I took while on exchange were pass/fail, giving me a little leeway to devote less time to studying and more time to exploring the west coast with as many weekend trips as I could fit in! That semester away was definitely the highlight of my college years and required me to mature in a way that staying closer to home may not have.

  17. A friend/coworker of mine recently quit after being here for around 7 years and is backpacking through Southeast Asia and it is just jaw droppingly beautiful. She’s single and younger (late-20s) and has the ability to pick up and take off, but oh my gosh….I’m so envious. My point being…move there! :) It looks line an endless adventure!

  18. I bought the Design Mom book, and left it outside to accidentally get destroyed by some unexpected rain. So I went online and immediately bought another copy! Now we’re getting ready to move into a new house, and I’m excited to put some of that great advice into action. So… I’d buy another book of yours for sure ;) My kids are much younger than yours (3 and 5), so a parenting book from someone who has done all the stages would be so interesting to me. I like the perspective of raising kids in different parts of the world, too.

  19. In regards to Maude- has she considered also studying abroad? Most colleges have programs in place that make it pretty easy and depending on where you go, it can sometimes be even cheaper than a semester at the college you go to. I only did a short 3-week study abroad (in Peru, which I loved!), but my sister did two semester-long study abroad terms: one in South Africa (at Rhodes University) and one in London (I don’t remember where). She especially loved the semester in South Africa and I know that she would say that it completely changed her life and outlook. The semester in South Africa was actually cheaper than if she had been at her SUNY school in the US (her tuition and fees that would normally go to the SUNY school were put towards her tuition and fees in S. Africa) and the London one was about the same price I think.

  20. Maude can dorm at NYU for the summer while she does an internship. I did it years ago when I was in college. She could also take classes there. I opted to take summer classes at CUNY Hunter because it was cheaper. I’d love to show her the facebook office while she is here if she might be interested! Best of luck to her!
    Here is the link for NYU summer housing: https://www.nyu.edu/summer/housing/

  21. It seems you’ve probably bought your home at a good time financially so moving isn’t that bad. We sold after 1000 showings at a great loss. It was a very hard time. It still stings. We have also just moved again and it has had totally different challenges. We are moving in 2 weeks again, but we are only renters right now so it’s a whole lot less stressful than selling. It’s like possibly even fun under these circumstances.

  22. A move to India sounds dreamy. Love the country. I am currently writing you from an RV in Kosovo. Yes, Kosovo and it is so darn cool. Now almost two years into an RV trip in Europe with the intent to visit every country on this continent I can say if your heart is calling for a move… do it! The visa, housing, etc is a pain, but as you know with France it is so worth it. And if you need help our company WorldTowning consults with all these logistics. Clearly you are capable, but many of our clients are capable, they just don’t have the time to weed through it all. Either way, good luck. That pull to travel, move, experience is a powerful. Great read about the college stuff, we have a 14. 5 year old who is already researching all of this. xoxo

  23. Lisl Sukachevin

    I have older kids too (college age) and also have contemplated moving cross-country. One thing that really stops me is my desire to live in the same geographic area as my kids, once they settle down. I don’t want to be one of those families that only sees their adult children on 1-2 yearly visits. I would love for us all to live in the same town/city so we can stay involved in each others lives, including holidays, family gatherings, and eventually grandchildren. My fear is that if we, the parents, move, it will really impact that ever happening. My children grew up in the house we still live in (DC suburb) and have roots in this area. I could definitely see them returning here to settle down after college. At this point I am tempted to wait and see what they do after college before making any big decisions like moving. I am wondering what your thoughts are on this as well, since you also have older kids who will be deciding where to settle down soon, and I’m sure also want to keep your family close.

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