“Thank you for the music….”

“So I say, ‘Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing; thanks for all the joy they’re bringing.  Who can live without it?’ I ask in all honesty, ‘What would life be?  Without a song or a dance, what are we?’ So I say, ‘thank you for the music, for giving it to me….'” -ABBA, Thank You For The Music

As you may know, here at TO&E, we really like music.  It serves as memory, as communication, as a conveyance of feeling.

Today’s a special day in my family, and as such it’s only right to celebrate with some music.

Today makes the birthday of two very special people in my life, my grandfather, featured here before, and his sister-in-law, my Aunt Barb.  Throughout my childhood, these were two of the most influential people in my life.

One influence was on my musical tastes.  In both cases, car rides proved decisive.  Pop would take me to softball games, doctors’ appointments, and on general errands with him and Nanny:  in the process, they introduced me to the oldies I now cherish.  Aunt Barb was my ride home from school throughout middle school, and deepened my love for a variety of artists, simply by bringing them along for the ride.

Here’s a few of the pieces that still make me think of them:

From Pop:

From Aunt Barb:

In honor of two great people and today, their shared birthday, I’d like to thank them for their music, for giving it to me.  Happy Birthday, Pop and Aunt Barb— I love and miss you both!

“Mental wounds not healing, who and what’s to blame?”

“Heirs of a cold war, that’s what we’ve become;  Inheriting troubles, I’m mentally numb. Crazy, I just cannot bear…. I’m living with something that just isn’t fair…. Mental wounds not healing, who and what’s to blame? I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train….” –Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne

Several doctor’s visits and countless hours in bed later, I’m still sick.

The diagnosis has changed from sinus infection to “just a cold” to “maybe pneumonia?” to upper respiratory infection more times than I can count.  Several prescriptions later, we’ve settled on the latter and I’m finally starting to feel like I might be starting to get better.

Luckily for me, the last few days coincided with what Gettysburg calls “Reading Days,” the closest thing we have to a “Fall Break” (Gettysburg doesn’t really like the concept of breaks), coinciding either right before or right after midterms.  For the first time in my student-hood, I decided to journey home for reading days (about half of the student body does so).  As much as I adore Gettysburg, months of sickness and fatigue, stress and homesickness led me to just want my mom and my puppy.

And that’s just what I got.

Cooper bonded with Sleepy Eevee.

Cooper bonded with Sleepy Eevee.

And got a Donut :) (I, of course, enjoyed an iced tea!)

And got a Donut 🙂 (I, of course, enjoyed an iced tea!)

Mom and Dad took care of me and put up with my late-night coughing fits <3

Mom and Dad took care of me and put up with my late-night coughing fits ❤

So I took them to my favourite place in the world.

So I took them to my favourite place in the world.

Dad and Rachel took to some artistic endeavors upon arriving in Gettysburg

Dad and Rachel took to some artistic endeavors upon arriving in Gettysburg

With awfully impressive results.

With awfully impressive results.

In short, this was probably the hardest time I have had coming back to school.


“But you wouldn’t change anything….”

“Like any great love, it keeps you guessing; like any real love, it’s ever-changing; like any true love, it drives you crazy, but you wouldn’t change anything, anything, anything…. Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you, welcome to New York, welcome to New York….” –Welcome to New York, Taylor Swift

I’ll be the first to admit that Taylor Swift’s music has gone downhill as of late.  I wouldn’t call myself a fan of this particular number, but I understand the concept behind it, because I completely agree when it comes to NYC.

Luckily for me, I’ve been there quite a few times on various endeavors.  Last year, I returned with a friend from the NY area, toured some hot spots, and began anxiously awaiting December 2015, when I could return again on the annual college-run trip.

Fast-forward to late September, and I’m quite literally a wreck— leaving one job after a terrifying police-involving situation, getting used to piles of new pills, barely eating or sleeping, and just generally in a state of malaise, not to mention the constant buildup of schoolwork.

One of my best friends, who’d worked side-by-side with me at the Bookstore all summer, took me aside at the peak of it all and asked “Are you sure you don’t want to go on this New York City trip this weekend?”

In addition to “my” trip in December, the school has an autumn trip to see a Broadway show.  Though the bus-only tickets were significantly cheaper than the bus + theatre ones, I hadn’t had the additional funds at the time of their sale to go— in my current state, I was hardly in a state to be reminded of that.

Sam, my friend, wasn’t trying to break my heart after all.  Instead, he’d acquired an extra ticket, and, knowing my fascination and familiarity with the city, claimed it on the off chance I’d be up for it, as a way to cheer me up.

Believe it or not, his Best Friend of the Year award points get even more impressive as the story goes on....

Believe it or not, his Best Friend of the Year award points get even more impressive as the story goes on….

After I anal retentively planned our jam-packed trip by the minute, we headed off on a long, long bus ride, fueled with coffee, almond granola, and each other’s company.

Despite my usual Lincoln Tunnel panic attack and Sam’s newbie fascination with quite literally every building we passed from Jersey on, we made it to Penn Station.

From there, we stopped by Carlo’s Bakery, of the TV show Cake Boss.  Though I couldn’t eat anything (not a single dairy-less option, unfortunately!), I was able to warm up with some more coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.

Though it's flagship shop is in Hoboken, the 8th Avenue bakery is all the cakes with half the crowd!

Though it’s flagship shop is in Hoboken, the 8th Avenue bakery is all the cakes with half the crowd!

From there, it was toy store heaven— Disney, Toys R Us, and Nintendo World, where Sam nearly bought out their entire stock of Pokemon plush.  I came home with a Sleepy Eevee, one of my childhood favourites, and, of course, a new Perry for the collection (this one talks!!!).

We cut through toys to Rockefeller Centre— saddening without it’s usual tree and festivities.  My elation quickly returned, though, when we hit my absolute favourite spot in the city.

Fifth Avenue... Businesspeople, the wealthy, and Jules, obsessing over sparkly things.

Fifth Avenue… Businesspeople, the wealthy, and Jules, obsessing over sparkly things.

When we’d been planning, Sam asked me “What’s the cheapest thing at Tiffany’s?”  Far too acquainted with their catalogue, I quickly rattled off some highlights— a $125 pendant, a $75 pen…. Of course, I quoted Breakfast at Tiffany’s:  “A sterling silver telephone dialer…. at 6.75, including federal tax.”

“I could buy something for you and something for my mom,” he said thoughtfully as we drove from shop to shop, planning the perfect city-worthy outfits.  I shushed him, considering his contemplation to be absolute nonsense.

I’d found him the perfect necklace for his Mom, and as we strolled the third floor (after undoubtedly convincing the second floor lovelies that we were in fact a couple, as I showed him the exact rings I plan to have come my engagement [to Prince Harry], I couldn’t help but look around myself.

I have to admit— I looked pretty amazing on this trip;  at least good enough for the employees to bother greeting me and whatnot.  It’s a truly amazing feeling, to be greeted by a Tiffany’s employee— “nothing very bad could happen to you there….

In the process, I came across a gorgeous ring I’d been admiring on the site.  Sam’s prompting earlier to try on the $14,000 engagement ring came to mind.  Surely, even my extreme klutziness couldn’t deter me from trying on the significantly cheaper engraved sterling silver band?

Sam joined me at the counter after making his purchase and agreed.  I gave the clerk my ring size— a six, if my future husband happens to be reading this— and he handed me the display, conveniently the same size (if that isn’t a sign from the Gods, I’m not sure what is).

“I could get it for you,” Sam insisted.  We bickered like the old married couple we essentially are, but I gave in eventually.  It was practically blackmail, with the sparkling silver circlet on my hand and the employee watching it shine with adoration.  I was soon handed a bag housing a blue box in which my brand-new ring shined.  If I hadn’t already had their address engrained in my mind, I’d know it now, as it sparkles on my hand almost always.

IMG_2542 IMG_2606

From there, we went to Central Park, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, and an amazing vegan cafe called VLife.


I navigated the city quite successfully, introduced one of my favourite people to one of my favourite places, and received a piece of jewelry from the place where I’m happiest in the world.  Overall, a successful trip!

Best friends forever, obviously!

Best friends forever, obviously!

“How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”

“Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone, but in my mind I know they will still live on and on.  But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?  It isn’t easy, but I’ll try….” –To Sir, With Love

I’m not a fan of the modern American school system, by any means.  Regardless, certain teachers, coaches, directors, etc.  have had a tremendous impact on my life, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

These men and women have taught me that it’s perfectly okay to do your own thing.  That nobody is special enough to be entitled to everything, no matter what they may think.  That perspective changes everything.  That no matter how much the real world sucks, you can hang in there.  That you can’t take everything at face value.  That it’s okay to be loud.  That Audrey, Seinfeld, and tea can fix nearly anything.  That normality is highly overrated.  And their respective subjects, of course.  These amazing, inspirational people don’t get half as much appreciation as they should.

I’m bound to miss a few, but here goes nothing:

Thank you, Professors Titus, Booz, Martin, Piniak, Carmichael, Brown, Isherwood, Foster, Krysiek.  Thank you, Mrs. Derck, Mrs. Ulsh, Mrs. Yuengling, Mrs. Hale, Miss Jones, Miss Mogish, Mr. C., Mr. and Mrs. Grabusky, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Soister, Mrs. Yuengel, Miss Shane, Miss Nichol, Mrs. Lantz, Mrs. Laubenstine, Mrs. Weston, Mr. Yashinsky, Mrs. Dautrich, Mrs. Luckenbill, Mr. and Mrs. Moyer, Mr. Siket, Mrs. Huegel, Mr. Sabol, and Mrs. Advensky (plus an honorable mention to Miss Tretter!).

Thank you, Miss Hoppes, Mr. and Mrs. Dietz, Mrs. Cappella, Mr. Evans, Mr. Kahl, and Mr. Sanders.

Thank you, Ms. Moran, Miss Savage, Mrs. Slovick, and all of those nameless faces left in my hazy memories of elementary school.

Thank you, Pete, Jared, and the many amazing CWI historians.

Thank you, Dr. Yashechak and the wonderful Schuylkill County historians.

Upon hearing my majors/minors, many people ask, “Oh, so you want to teach?”  I may not, but I have the utmost respect for those who do.  Thank you all.

“Let me tell you that I love you….” #TFT

“Let me tell you that I love you, and I think about you all the time…. Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home, and if I should become a stranger, know that it would make me more than sad;  Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had.”  –CaledoniaCeltic Thunder (Celtic Woman’s version is great too!)

In my first #TFT, I talked about my grandfather and all of the wonderful things he’s done for me over the years.  I also promised that my grandmother would soon get one of her own!

She's not a huge fan of having her picture taken, but I've managed to snag a few !:)

She’s not a huge fan of having her picture taken, but I’ve managed to snag a few !:)

Nanny’s the reason I love Irish music.  She’s the reason I want to go to England, to Ireland, and so on so incredibly badly.


She’s supported me in my many endeavors over the years, with anecdotes and words of wisdom.


She’s done some amazing things!

Miss Schuylkill Haven,  1968

Miss Schuylkill Haven, 1968

She married this great guy....

She married this great guy….

And has stuck with him through the years!

And has stuck with him through the years!

She only laughs a little bit when I enthuse about my life plans:  “…I’ll meet Harry and live happily ever after!”


She introduced me to the greatness of NCIS, Midsomer Murder, Murder She Wrote, The Artful Detective, Bones, Castle, and more!


She’s faced countless unnecessary hardships and overcome every single one.

Love you, Nan--- thank you for everything!

Love you, Nan— thank you for everything!

“Just what makes that little old ant think he can move that rubber tree plant?” #TFT

“Next time you’re found with your chin on the ground, there’s a lot to be learned, so look around! Just what makes that little old ant think he’ll move that rubber tree plant? Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant, but he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes;  he’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes.  So any time you’re gettin’ low, ‘stead of lettin’ go, just remember that ant…. Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant….” -Frank Sinatra, High Hopes

This song, along with the wonderful Frank’s Greatest Hits, immediately brings to mind images of car rides with my grandparents.

When I was very young, my mom and I lived with her parents, and they and I have been unusually close ever since.


Though they’ve both had a tremendous impact on me, this particular post is about my grandfather (Nan’ll get her own soon enough!).

Pop and I have plenty of memories. When I was little, he and I had a tradition of recording tapes (yes, on a little cassette recorder!) together.  Even today, “This is Pop-pop signing off!  This is Julia, signing off!”


Pop and I after my high school’s production of “The Pajama Game.”

He & I share a love of books.

Post-book sale :)

Post-book sale 🙂

Possibly the most notable of his inspiration is my love of history;  I don’t know if I would have discovered my love of Gettysburg without him.


From music to books to presidents, I owe plenty to Pop.


Thank you, Pop, for everything!


Throwback Thursday has been a trend for quite some time.  People love reminiscing with the “perfect” picture.

For example:

#ThrowbackThursday to this little kid!  #TBT

#ThrowbackThursday to this little kid! #TBT

Earlier today I asked myself, “Why not take advantage of this trend?”  And so, TFT was born.

For as long as it lasts, I’ll be posting #TFT posts here at TO&E.  A rather obvious play on Throwback Thursday, Thankful Thursday will give me a chance to highlight some of the awesome people in my life and to share them with you all!  Feel free to try it yourself— let’s spread the love!