You just got into Vanderbilt! What are you going to do now?

Go to Disney World, of course!

My last entry detailing how we’ve gotten to where we are left off with Kyle taking the LSAT to start us submitting our applications. Once Kyle had taken the LSAT, he started getting application fee waivers for various schools. We applied to schools based on whether they had a good law school and a good economics program. We didn’t want to quit our jobs to go back to school unless we thought we could get another job after graduating. Kyle had also said he didn’t want to move any further south than Louisville, so we limited our geography too. However, Kyle got a fee waiver from Vanderbilt, and after some persuading on my part, we decided to apply there too, one of the last schools we applied to, and it turns out the first and only that accepted us both.

Because there was a chance we would be making no money very soon, we decided to do Christmas big that year. Kyle’s sister, Brook, had been wanting to take our niece, KG, to Disney World, so our gift to them and his parents was a contribution to tickets to Disney World. My friend Ula was getting married in Italy the next summer, and my mom has always wanted to go to Tuscany, so our gift to her was a contribution to her plane ticket to take a trip with us to Italy (we’ll get to that trip later). So over Brook’s spring break, all of Kyle’s family piled into a big van, and we drove down to Florida.

We ended up having 8 adults and 1 child, but it worked out as KG got plenty of attention from each of us. It was a lot of fun going to Disney World as an adult, and seeing the joy of it through KG. We had a few adventures along the way, but overall it was a great trip. When we got the tickets, they gave us a buy 4 days, get the 5th day free, so we had a whole week, which was plenty! We went to Hollywood Studios the first day, which actually ended up being one of my favorites. Then we went to Animal Kingdom, followed by Magic Kingdom. We took a half-day off our fourth day and just went to Epcot in the afternoon, and then we did our final full day at Epcot again. Epcot is still my favorite, and I think KG really liked it too. We got lots of princess autographs, and I even got my picture with Mulan! Mulan is probably my favorite, maybe tied with Belle. We rode rides that I rode as a kid and new rides from new movies and shows. It was pretty awesome, but after 5 days, we were beat and ready to go home. We got our Disney fill to last us a little while.

Ice in Nashville

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I got up bright and early today because I was supposed to have a mid-term at 9:30, and I wanted to study more.  But then I got a text from a classmate: Classes cancelled!  For the second day, Nashville is covered in ice.  Tennessee has declared a state of emergency, and the metro buses are shut down, which is saying something.  When we had the ice storm in Louisville, and almost no one could make it into work, I was there because I rode the bus in then.

Of course, I had already taken Tyson out, and the cold woke me up, so I’m up for now.  Maybe I’ll take a nap later.  Ty has no problem with snow, and he loves ice.  We finally have a treat for him: ice cubes.  He turns his nose up at Beggin’ Strips and “made with real chicken” treats, but ice is wonderful.  Outside, he would dig up frozen sticks or weeds and crunch and shake them to get the ice off and then spit out the stick.


He is also terrified of stairs.  Our power went out for an hour or two, and when it did, we decided it would be a good time to take Tyson out for a long walk.  We could not get him to go down or come up the stairs.  Kyle carried him down, and we took the ramps of the parking garage to go up.  We also got something out of the car on our way up, and he pulled hard away from it.  He didn’t love getting in the car when we brought him home, but it wasn’t too bad.  I don’t know if he doesn’t like cars or maybe he thought that meant going back to the Humane Society.  He hadn’t been eating and did start eating after that!  He has now finished two whole bowls of food – probably a little less than 2 cups total, but it’s something!

Having more ice than snow has reminded me a bit of the storm in Louisville, though I think Louisville was worse, and I was working for the power company then.  It’s nice to have a little insight into things from old jobs.  When the power went out, we didn’t panic because, although ice can be very bad for power lines, we have hospitals on all sides of us, so we figured we would be some of the first back on.  And it didn’t take long.

So now I’m going to enjoy my slow morning, try to catch up on some studying, and spend some more time with Ty.  He’s going to get spoiled and think we’re just always going to be around the apartment, but I think he’s settling in just fine.

Neil deDogge Tyson

Well, we’ve talking about it for a long time, and we finally took the plunge.  Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, Kyle and I went to the Nashville Humane Association and fell in love with Ty, an 8-month-old Basenji mix.  He was the fourth dog we spent time with, the first being a 3-month-old puppy, the second a very strong-willed uninterested lady, and the third a very, very shy hound.  While most of the other dogs were barking very loudly, Ty was quiet but very excited to see us.  He didn’t pull on his leash but pranced around a bit like a Clydesdale with what a worker there called his puppy wiggle.

We had been debating if we should get a puppy or a dog, and Ty seemed to be a good mix, not too young but still a puppy.  However, we had never heard of Basenjis, so we did some googling.  They may have been the Egyptian palace dogs of the Pharaohs, around when the pyramids were built.  They are African hunting dogs, known as barkless dogs.  Though they can make a lot of noise, including “screaming” and” yodeling,” they apparently rarely or never bark.  While we were at the shelter, Ty didn’t make a noise other than a little whining when he wanted to play with another dog; however, later when we were at Petsmart, he surprised us with a couple of barks, so he is capable.  Before filling out the paperwork, we called up my cousin Nic, a vet, and asked his opinion.  Though Basenjis aren’t very common, he has seen a few, and he said they seemed to be good dogs with not many issues, and being a mix would be helpful with those issues.  So we decided to go for it!


We weren’t sure about the name, and he didn’t seem to recognize it as his own, though it fit because he kept getting himself tied up in his leash.  We talked about a lot of possibilities, and then Ian and Robin called to ask us about him, and Ian suggested Tyson, to keep the name the Humane Society gave him, but add a little to it.  Kyle has always loved the idea of naming pets and children after scientists, so he immediately thought of Neil deGrasse Tyson.  When we took him outside, we tried a few of our options out, and we both decided Tyson was a good fit.  And so his full name is Neil deDogge Tyson, but we will call him Tyson, Ty for short.

Basenjis are supposed to be very smart, and because of this, they can be stubborn and hard to train (one list put them as the second least trainable dog).  However, he obviously is a mix as he is quite a bit bigger than a regular Basenji (though he is still fairly small, 38 pounds now, maybe will get to be about 45 pounds according to the Humane Society).  We’re not sure what else he is, but I told him once not to go in our bedroom, and he has not gone back in since.  He will come stand just outside the door sometimes when one of us is in there, but he won’t go in.  He likes his bed and his crate, and he only barked and whined a couple times last night after we closed the bedroom door, and once we opened the bedroom door he seemed to be fine.  He hasn’t eaten much yet, and he doesn’t seem to like treats, another possible issue with training, but we’re hoping he is just still getting used to things and will eat more soon.  He is very sweet and friendly, loves people and other dogs, and loves to play but is pretty calm so far when he is just sitting in the apartment with us.  We’re pretty smitten.


Remembering Oxford, Appreciating Vanderbilt

Every now and then, I have a strong memory of Oxford, usually when I’m walking somewhere, as I used to walk so much in Oxford.  Often, I think of and miss Oxford most on gray, rainy days.  Kyle always laughs that what most people would consider bad weather makes me miss England.  The other day, I was on my way to campus, listening to music on my phone, and I had one of those feelings.  Usually I’m walking with Kyle so I don’t have my headphones in, but his class started later that day so he had slept in.  In Oxford, I almost always had my headphones in.  I would get lost in my music on my long walks, sometimes forgetting to appreciate the scenery and historical sights around me.  Though Vanderbilt doesn’t have quite the historical significance of Oxford, it is a beautiful campus with trees and green all around, as well as a few older buildings.  And being at any institution of learning has a different feel for me than other places I walk.  While I do get stressed and sometimes wonder if a Ph.D. is the right path for me, I am so appreciative that we ended up here.  Though Nashville is more well-known for its country music stars and cowboy boots, it really does have a gem in Vanderbilt, and I’m glad I get to walk through that almost every day.  Here are a few pictures of what I get to see each day on my walk.

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What brought us here?

In deciding where to start on catching up on documenting our latest adventure, I concluded I needed to go back to the beginning of the whole process that actually meant we were taking this next step: the LSAT.  Kyle has always wanted to go to law school, but the timing never seemed to be right.  However, we kept talking about it, and soon my dream of getting my Ph.D. in Economics made it into the mix.  Finally, we said we have to either start making applications or quit talking about it and set our sights on a new dream.  So Kyle ordered books to study for the LSAT, and being the amazing planners that we are, we realized he could take it less than a month after his books came in or in the last couple of days of our trip we were making to Europe for Oktoberfest.  We decided on the latter…

Kyle studied for several months, and then he took a break while we traveled around Germany, Brussels, Wales, and England.  We flew into Nuremberg so that we could visit and stay with my friend Ula in Erlangen, taking a couple days to visit Munich during Oktoberfest, where we watched the hours-long parade and visited the Hofbrauhaus and Augustiner.  Before we left, Ula gave us a tour of Nuremberg, where we spun a ring on a gate for good luck (it seems to have worked!).  We made it to Brussels, where we were intercepted by Kyle’s aunt and uncle and given a tour of some castles and the Cantillon brewery.  We then took the Eurostar to London, visiting the Harry Potter Experience, then meeting up with Tim, Sarah, and their daughter Zoe and crashing a wedding in Cornwall.  After cream tea in Cornwall, we took a train to Wales to see an old friend of Kyle’s and visit the Doctor Who Experience. Finally, we headed back to Oxford to stay a few days with Tim and Sarah before going back to London for the LSAT.  And that was officially the beginning of the application process that would lead to our new lives.


Our New Home

It took six months, but when we came back to our apartment in Nashville after the new year, I finally felt right calling it home.  I guess it took being away for a couple of weeks.  Moving away from Louisville was much harder than I expected.  We miss our friends, our old apartment, going to UofL sporting events, and even work.  We still thought of Louisville as home and Nashville as more of a temporary move.  But now, while I still miss Louisville and we may end up back there some day, I was glad to be back in Nashville.

Since this is a new phase in our life, I’m going to try to get back to blogging to document our adventures and misadventures.  I blogged when I moved to England, and I blogged when we were preparing for our wedding, so now I’ll blog as a Ph.D. student.  Writing has always been an outlet for me, though I haven’t always the been the best at writing regularly.  In Oxford, I would often write when I was feeling lonely, frustrated, or sad, so that was the side people read about, and while I’ve experienced all those emotions many times in my first semester at Vanderbilt, I’m going to try not to let that dominate my writing so people can see the good side too.

I was organizing pictures today, and they made me realize what amazing experiences I’ve had, even in just the past year.  We’ve been so busy going from one adventure to the next that we haven’t really gotten to share with our friends and family our trips around the world, so that will be my first goal in this blog.  Then maybe I’ll throw in some stories on the exciting times of being a married couple who studies all the time.  I’m also going to try to utilize my other website,, to write about my cooking experiments.  If anything sounds good, plan a trip down to Nashville to visit!  We’d love to see you!

And Kyle’s Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

I’ve never identified with the American South, although many who were raised with me in Central Kentucky did. To be fair, I didn’t identify much as a Kentuckian, though I had very little reason not to. I had taken the rare trip through the deep south, but more for leisure than cultural experiences. Perhaps it was my father, from Central Pennsylvania who kept us from ever embracing anything known as Southern Culture, or perhaps many throughout the geographic Southeast don’t often claim the cultural traits of the region.

Growing up we would take the occasional trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and while there would take excursions to Lancaster, Hershey and of course Gettysburg. I have vivid memories from when I was young visiting Gettysburg and walking the battlefield where the Union soldiers finally were able to stop the rebel advance and begin to end the Confederacy. Tragedy marks otherwise common ground sacred, and the spirit of sacrifice weighs heavy on the fields of Gettysburg. After 150 years the grass cries with the pain and death of that great Union victory – And thank God for the victors!  With the Emancipation Proclamation came the end of American Slavery and the final battles of the civil war placed the final punctuation on one of the darkest chapters of American History. If only the last shots of the war were closing the book on racism in America and the sin of centuries of slavery could be absolved by Executive Order.

The truth is far more painful, horrible and beautiful than my simple wishes. A conquered South further resented Northern occupiers and carpet-baggers. A people stolen from their homeland now had no place to go. In a short-sighted and brutally inhumane attempt at maintaining the status quo the white establishment worked to keep black families from work, education, political representation and integration for another 100 years. The stories of abuses to minorities in the south painted the region as backwards, racist and openly hostile toward progressive ideas. Any who would stand to defend the South received the same label. I am quick to harbor those feelings against the South myself, with little tolerance for those who would dare be represented by the rebel flag and disdain for those who can’t see the realities of white privilege or who think the weak and marginal policies now known as “affirmative action  constitute an attack on white men. My hate and prejudice prevented me from seeing the reality of history.

My work required me to take a trip to Birmingham, Alabama recently and, if you can’t tell by the content of this post, I was not thrilled. What value could be found in Birmingham? After an uneventful few days working I returned home, but not before stopping in Downtown Birmingham at the behest of a colleague.

While downtown I visited 16th St. Baptist Church, the site of one of many terrorist attacks which would earn the region the name “Bombingham.” On September 15, 1963 four young girls were preparing for a church program when a bomb placed near the rear wall of the church took their lives. 22 other children were injured. Though the bomb may have been physically set by 4 cowardly men targeting black children, there were many societal forces which did all but light the fuse. In fact, the governor of Alabama just the week before the attack stated that integration could be stopped with a few “first-class funerals.” This is the same governor Lynyrd Skynyrd would praise singing “In Birmingham they love the Governor” in their pop-defense  Sweet Home Alabama.

I touched the bricks which had withstood the blast and wondered what my reaction to an attack on my family and friends might be. Surely I would respond in anger, hate and violence. I walked across the street looking for a place to rest in a nearby park but found myself at ground zero of the “Birmingham Campaign” – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s public effort to relieve the plight of southern black families. The park now has a statue of notoriously racist Safety Commissioner Bull Connor, with his dogs ready to attack. A water gun sits on a pedestal, bars representing jail cover a statue of children and in the middle of it all, 3 men on their knees in prayer. These statues were constructed to help us remember the remarkable events before and after the 16th Street Bombing. After countless violence, threats to their family and jobs, arrests, beatings, attacks and murders; men, women and children unencumbered by fear gathered at 16th Street Baptist Church and walked together across the park. When the lines of Bull Connor’s thugs of a police force were met, these foot-soldiers of the civil rights movement would sit, sing and kneel, praying as their families were attacked and taken off to jail. Tragedy marks otherwise common ground sacred and as I stood in the heart of the Civil Rights movement I saw the beauty, power and strength of these southern Christians. You must go to Pennsylvania and D.C. to stand where Lincoln stood, but you must go to Alabama to walk the steps of Dr. King.

As we continue to struggle for equality for all, I will do my best to remember that there is more honor in affecting change than being removed from the campaign  judging the establishment from the distance.

We’ve been married 3 years!

When we posted our last update, we didn’t expect it to be over three years since we’d update again. The site was a way we could organize our thoughts around our wedding, get feedback on plans, and keep people updated on our lives during our engagement. Apparently, we had little plans for this place after our wedding day. New degrees, new jobs, new address, why not a new website? After sitting on the domain for a few years we’ve decided to do something with it again, although what that actually looks like is yet to be seen. We have thoughts, and perhaps those thoughts will make it here. Caitlan does a fair amount of local economic research, and maybe that research will show up on this site. I have ideas on how the world should operate, and maybe those ideas will be on this blog. This may sound non-committal but it has been 3 years since the last writing and there’s no sense in raising expectations now.

Bachelorette Party

Kyle and I had our “single” parties a couple weekends ago. Kyle went on some bourbon tours and then things didn’t go exactly as planned. He might write about it later. They’re going to try again in January and go skiing all night one night. My party was a lot of fun, though I was nervous going into it.

I went to Lexington and met up with Holly at the mall. We went to MAC and I got a makeover, with fake eyelashes. The guy made me quite pale, so afterward, we added some bronzer. Rita came during the makeover, and then we went shopping for a bit. We found a red dress on sale that we got for me to wear that night. Holly had told me it was a black and white party, but forgot to mention that we were having red accents. So I had no red. So instead, all the girls were black and white and I was red with my new dress. We all headed back to Holly and Alyx’s house to get ready, including me putting on a tiara with a veil attached and a sash that said bachelorette and all of us putting big flowers in our hair. Melissa showed up, so it was just five of us, which turned out to be the perfect number.

After getting ready and drinking some champagne, we were picked up by a taxi van and went to Baker’s 360, a restaurant on the top of the Chase Building downtown. We had a very nice dinner, getting to sit at table in the middle of the restaurant that was higher up than the other tables. My feet didn’t touch the floor from my chair! The place was set up with a restaurant on one side and club/bar on the other side, so after dinner we went over to the bar. It turned out there had been a national cross-country race that morning, and all the runners were at the club celebrating. It was great because most of them were married (no threat to me and not creepy), and a lot of them even had their wives with them. They were really nice and danced and hung out with us. I was the only bachelorette there, so I drew a bit of attention.

I think a lot of people thought I was much younger than I was. One woman said congratulations, then later came back up to me and said she and her friend decided I shouldn’t do it. I said, “I shouldn’t get married?” And she said yes, and asked how old I was. I said 25. And then she said, “Oh, well okay, then it’s okay if you get married.” And I got asked many other times how old I was with the same reaction to me saying 25: “Oh, well that’s okay then.” The other girls also got asked and got the same reaction. We all apparently look much younger than 25 and too young to be getting married. There was a little stage in the club that only girls could get up on. And the woman pulled all of us up there so we could dance. Later, another woman pulled me up there, and there was no one else up there. So it was just me and an old lady dancing on this stage. Finally, the rest of the girls came up and rescued me.

Basically we danced the whole night and tried to accomplish a list of things for a bachelorette party, which included getting asked for ID (which all of us accomplished quite quickly), asking a guy to marry you, dancing with 10 guys, and wearing a toilet paper veil, among other things. Melissa said the list was quite tame compared to some she had seen, which I was thankful for. We got all but two accomplished for me (so I won).

After a while, we went to another club called Two Keys. There weren’t very many people there, so it was pretty much just us on the dance floor, though two runners did follow us over there. We stayed out until 1:45 a.m. (pretty impressive for me). And then we got a taxi back to Holly and Alyx’s house. We stayed up and chatted a bit, and then all went to bed. It was a lot of fun, dancing and laughing and just spending time with some of my best girl friends. Thanks so much for putting it all together, girls!!