On Beginnings

I considered naming this post ‘On New Beginnings’, but I started classes this week and received a long lecture in my American Politics course on writing concisely from Thomas Patterson. He pointed to several examples redundancy:

We face a serious crisis. They proposed a new initiative. People can’t access basic necessities.

The real truth is that when I personally reviewed my own writing the end result often included the phrases he mentioned. So now I have Professor Patterson’s voice echoing when I consider blog titles. (As if I didn’t already have enough voices in my head) American Politics is just one of the five classes I started this week at the Kennedy School. The semester began with a bang with discussions on the Move On Effect, drones, ethics and taxing corporate bonuses.

This will be the second semester I take a course with Nicco Mele . This semester’s course focuses on using the internet in political and advocacy campaigns. Nicco works full-time outside of the Kennedy School and still finds the time to teach a course each semester. The class provides a great opportunity to learn from a practitioner in the field in the midst of all things academia. His class last semester also forced me to start this blog, so obviously I’m a bit hooked on the subject matter.

The first days of a semester are chaotic at HKS. Students are trying to determine their classes. They register, then bid points for classes, then register again if they don’t win their bids. Last night a student shared she ran to ten different classes this week because she was unsure which she would ultimately get in… an extreme example for sure, but I was tired just hearing her explain the dilemma.

In FAR more exciting news, this week also marked the beginning of Tom’s job at Full Contact, an advertising agency in downtown Boston. Before Tom started, I was already hooked on their campaign for Boston.com. Their “For Locals, By Locals” campaign takes ordinary Boston events but flips them with out of the ordinary outcomes. My favorite TV ad features a Boston man shoveling snow out of his parking space and then giving it away to a random car passing. Check the videos out. They will certainly make you laugh and give you a sense for the awesome creative IMG_2064environment Tom joined this week. He will work on strategy and new business development and is really excited for the opportunity. I, however, am less excited that I now have to do half the dishes.

To celebrate his first day we had a scrumptious dinner with Nick and Becca and a well deserved champagne toast!

Finally, 2014 brought some exciting contributions from my work with the Harvard Kennedy School Review – a policy journal and blog by HKS students. Our team put together a series of posts that featured policy predictions for Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Eight students shared their perspectives on K-12 education, higher education, military affairs, the environment… and the list goes on. I was really proud that the KSR engaged so many student voices and published a series of great posts. We also live tweeted the State of the Union which for normal humans sounds completely dull, but for policy wonks is the twitter opportunity of the year! Kidding…kinda. If you would like to see some of the work of HKS students, I’d highly recommend taking a look! It is a strong start for the Kennedy School Review which I hope we can continue throughout 2014. Screenshot 2014-02-01 13.54.45

And of course not all things in our lives are new. The dog park adventures remain, and this week Charlie’s new bestie became a Wheaten Terrier as you will see below.

Until Next Time!


Reflections from a Southern Christmas

From Boston to Jackson to Winston-Salem and back to Boston again. It has been a travel-filled few weeks, and Tom and I have loved every minute of it (aside from our separation anxiety from leaving Charlie the poodle in Boston). We got to see two of my favorite humans under the age of 8, lots of canine loves that we’ve missed, and our Southern family and friends.

My sister-in-law, Hailey, braved the mess, and helped Maury and Sarah create gingerbread men, women, candy canes, christmas trees and sleighs on our first day in Jackson. Icing and sprinkles exploded all over the kitchen, and Maury and Sarah kept slobbering on their fingers and sticking them back in the icing. After, we piled all the couch cushions on the floor, and Maury and Sarah rubbed their heads in the cushions generating enough static electricity to power their house (see photo evidence below). Maury pretended to be a hamster hiding in the cushions that would only come out if we fed him pretzel sticks or hershey’s kisses (sorry, Jack and Hailey). It was great fun and made up for the time I’ve missed with the boogers.

Equally heart warming were all the critters we got to visit! We saw Bitsy – Tom’s parent’s toy poodle – Miles – Charlie’s best friend and labradoodle king of Belhaven – Ferdinand – the Great – and Buster – my family’s (and the world’s) best yellow lab.

After we finished making cookies and playing hamster, it was time for the more serious of Allin family traditions– Oyster Loaf. For many, many years on Christmas Eve, Tom’s family has been frying up oysters, buttering bread loaves, and combining both with lemons with the rinds, olives with the pits, diced celery, and chow chow. The end product is a big ole sandwich filled with many things you may not have eaten individually, let alone all in one bite. Tom’s parents provided over 200 oysters and left 30+ friends and family members with full, happy bellies. Full of old fashions and fried oysters, we waddled down to Saint Andrews Cathedral for the midnight Christmas Eve service… another Allin family tradition not to be missed.

We came back to Jackson after 5 months of being M.I.A., and new places to eat and drink are popping up all over. I got to enjoy a hanger steak and The Manship, a craft beer at Fondren Public, and warm almonds and pesto pasta at La Finestra. Our crew of Jackson loves were by our side as we enjoyed raw oysters at Parlor Market and two of our favorite bar tenders, John and Mitchell. If any of our Northern friends ever journey down to Jackson, you MUST go visit Parlor Market for a cocktail. The atmosphere, company and drinks are as good or better than anywhere in the Boston area, guaranteed.

Finally, we headed north to NC for a week of Welkers. We had lunch with grandpa at the Proximity Hotel, fried meatballs for the family holiday party, and played par 3 golf at Tanglewood. My parents, Emily and Scott, Tom and I also tried to show our smarts at Foothills Brewery trivia, but our team – Hoppin’ to the John – ultimately placed out of the top two. The final round questions included: Who was the first president with which Barbara Walters had an exclusive interview? (Nixon) What was Julia Child’s height? (6 ft. 2 inches) and How did Sammie Davis Jr. die? (throat cancer) Needless to say we didn’t fair particularly well, with the exception of Emily who knew Julia Child’s height, but the beer was good and the company was great!

Two weeks later and 10 pounds heavier, IMG_1736we headed back to Boston and were welcomed by mounds of snow.

We are looking forward to a restful week and chili making. Happy 2014 everyone!