3:30 Thursday, Projects

It’s 3:30 Day!

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. To celebrate this special date of 3/30, we took some time to reflect on our friendship and what makes us the inseparable Triangle.

HAPPY 3:30 DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s March 30th!! We’re so excited to celebrate our first 3:30 Day, and on a Thursday no less!! We hope you enjoy this little video we made about how three preteen strangers became the three lifelong friends we are today.

Mary Margaret

Throughout childhood, my mother often reminded me that to have friends, you have to be a friend.  To me, this motherly, Golden-rulish wisdom emphasized the idea that friendship, different from kinship or even marriage, requires a conscious and continual choice.  To have friendship, we must actively decide to be a friend to someone, a choice that becomes more deliberate when it needs to span time and distances. There’s no legal or physical link that yokes us to our friends; no rings, certificates, or social contracts tying us to our chosen “best friends.”  While our mother never simply ceases to be our mother, and marriage is broken only through often costly, stressful legal processes, a friendship is often described as simply “fading.” The end of friendship doesn’t entail active bridge-burning, emancipation or divorce; simple inaction and neglect seems enough to allow this particular human connection to dissolve.  My dentist grandfather had a cross-stitch that read: “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away.”  According to my mother’s adage, it seems our friendships are similarly at risk.

When I sat down to write about friendship and my connection to Maggie and Jillian,  I found myself pushing back against my mother’s words. Bear with me, because of course Mom was right on many levels. Meaningful relationships undoubtedly require work, commitment, love-is-a-verb activity—they ask something of us. But I actually feel something quite different has grown in my relationship with these two women: freedom from the requirement to do or be something.

As we’ve referenced on the blog, Maggie, Jillian, and I have called ourselves “The Triangle” since high school, joking that we always form a triangle, regardless if we’re the same room or across oceans. I don’t think we intended any deep philosophical meaning, but what I find beautiful about the symbol is that being in a triangle together is a passive yet stable position. We don’t have to do anything to be in a triangle. It requires only that we be where we are while it remains structurally flexible, yet constant, (provided we don’t fall into a line, gasp! which we assiduously avoid!)

I have wonderful family that I did not pick, but am blessed with.  I am not married, (the only one of us who isn’t), so I’ve never picked someone to share my life with in that way.  But when it comes to Maggie and Jillian, I feel like we picked one another, committed to one another, and somehow, without DNA, or vows, I know intrinsically that I will walk through life with these women.  I can’t know the span of our lives, but if God intends me for old age, I know I will grow old with these women. Yet miraculously I feel like they’ve released me from a sense that I must do or be something in order to bring this about.

I’ve lived long enough to naturally see friendships fade because of distance and time, and to lose touch with people who once loomed large in my life.  But with these two, I can’t explain how I know, but somehow I know that the structure is stable. The triangle abides. Even if I never floss again, we are in this together. Okay, we aren’t talking about teeth. What I mean is that sometimes God grants you friendships where in order to have a friend, you don’t need to be a friend.

You simply need to be.

Maggie and Jillian, I love you. Thank you for being those friends.


I don’t call my husband my best friend. Of course, he is my best friend in the sense that we talk every day and share everything. But a husband is something different, and a best friend is something different, too.

I think a lot of people look for a spouse who can balance them out. That’s what I did. I’m neurotic, sensitive, intuitive and withdrawn. My husband is funny, energetic, popular, and athletic. He helps me look outward, helps me see the brighter sides of life. I help him look inward and help him see the darker sides when necessary.

In The Orphan Master’s Son, there’s mention of two women rowing across the ocean together. One rows all day, the other rows all night. That’s like my marriage – he rows me through the day, I row him through the night. We go everywhere together, we do everything together, we rely on one another completely. But when we look around, we see different things. We live the same life, but at times we’d hardly know it – we have to tell it to each other like a story.

It takes so much patience. It takes a relentless, uncomfortable amount of self-expression, and a painfully constant letting go of one’s personal absolutes. It’s challenging but it’s beautiful and it’s taken us so far, and I think it can take us to the ends of the earth. But there’s an inherent loneliness in this arrangement that the other rower can never soothe.

When you’re rowing in the dark and the loneliness overtakes you, that’s when you get on your radio and call out. And the person who answers is another night rower.

The way I see it, Maggie, Mary Margaret and I are all rowers in the dark. No matter where we are in the world, we see the same things – the same black ocean, the same night sky, the same stars and moon. When I call out to them, they’re there, in the night, in my realm. I don’t have to cross over to the daytime to talk to them. And I never have to try to explain to them what it feels like, rowing blindly, rowing on faith, feeling alone. They already know.

If I didn’t have that strength I draw from them, from their understanding, their community of shared feeling, I don’t think I’d ever have the strength to cross realms into daylight – to try to connect with the people who live and see and feel differently than I do, even to reach my own husband. The daytime is a bizarre and irrational place for a night rower. I need to know my other night rowers are behind me.

And they are, always. We’re family – not in the usual way of families, not just by loyalty, not even just by love. We’re family because despite the fact that our physical lives have taken us to such different places, somewhere inside of us we’re all on the same journey. It’s who we are. For all my life I’ll be calling out in the dark, and they will be out there to hear and answer. We’re night rowers, and we’ll make it the whole way, just like this.

Motivation Monday, Projects

Motivation Monday


This week, I ran across this quote from in Common Prayer, a liturgy for ordinary radicals.

Oscar Romero wrote,

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.”


Whether you share his faith or not, I find it comforting and motivating to keep in mind that we cannot do everything ourselves. Our lives are connected to the larger whole of humanity and creation, we have a role to play and hopefully we will play it very well. But, our lives are ultimately going to be incomplete. There will always be more we wish we could have done, but that should not prevent us from doing all that we can.

Have a great week!



Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

This week, a good reminder from another one of my favorite podcasts that humans have a tendency to overly weigh the negative in our life while brushing quickly past the advantages we have and good things that occur- to the detriment of our health, mental well-being, and ability to extend compassion. It’s only a half hour episode, and totally worth listening to!

Freakonomics Radio: “Why is My Life So Hard”


Harkening back to my Lenten reflections on wilderness: I think we too often end up like the ancient Israelites in the desert wilderness after fleeing Egypt. We end up grumbling about the sun and heat…though meanwhile, perhaps we have also escaped a form of slavery, have manna from the sky, water from rocks, a pillar of fire or a cloud guiding us through our wilderness? Let’s try and linger a little longer with those blessings this week.


3:30 Thursday, Projects

Where the wild things are

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. With Mary Margaret living in NYC, Jillian living in the midst of a woodsy suburban sprawl, and Maggie living on Florida’s Space Coast, we all experience nature in very different ways.


If you hear something and think, “Is that an owl, or a monkey?” that’s a barred owl.

If you hear something and think, “Is that an owl, or a really big dog?” that’s a great horned owl.

If you hear something and think, “Is that a dog, or a fire engine?” that’s a coyote, or several.

If you hear something that sounds like leaves blowing in the wind, but also sounds like it’s coming from inside the house… that’s a pine warbler in your sun room, again.

If you hear a faint skittering sound around your window, but you can’t see anything… that’s bees in the walls, run for your life!!

And if you hear your dogs in the backyard take off running at maximum speed, that might mean something very cute and very small is about to die. (We don’t talk about the summer of the baby bunny burrow.)

Growing up in these suburbs, I never saw them as a wonderland of wildlife. Maybe I should have – there was a nest of baby birds in the bush underneath my window every summer, after all. But I guess when you go to college and then move downtown and all in all spend about nine years encountering only cockroaches and – god forbid it – opossums, a house in the suburbs starts to feel like Little House in the Big Woods.

I’ve seen box turtles and baby box turtles and a displaced but happy gopher tortoise all comfortably hanging out in the muddy side yard after a rain. I’ve seen teeny tiny snakes the size of earthworms. I’ve barely glimpsed a blur of a hawk taking off from the deck rail. And I’ve seen a pine warbler in my sun room, twice. But mostly I hear things. And usually, drinking my tea by the window and listening to the sounds is just the right amount of nature for me.

But sometimes I go out into the yard with the dogs. I sit in the swing, breathe in the fresh air. I close my eyes and commune with all the wondrous living beings around me. I say to them in my mind, “O, you beautiful, wild things, things that crawl, and things that climb, and things that fly – you beautiful, wild things both big and small – may you stay outside my house, forever. Amen.”

Wanted for home invasion, two counts.

Mary Margaret 

Being outside, solitude, plants, water, wildlife, fresh air: these are beautiful parts of Creation that I find life-giving and necessary for my earthly walk. I try to spend some part of every day outdoors, absorbing natural light and inhaling clean, tree-gifted oxygen.

But wait, wait, wait, did we forget where I actually live?

There are many things I love about my life in New York, but scarcity of nature is one aspect that certainly never fit me like a glove. It fits more like a pair of too-short socks that are shuffling their way down into your shoe as you walk, until they are smashed into the toe and you finally throw up your hands in concession, stop, and yank them back up again…only so they can begin once more their toe-ward migration.

This analogy is apt, because I’ve learned that I can only handle city-life for so long before literally needing to seek out greener pastures. My family always hears me talk about needing a “city break,” which almost always entails a trip somewhere less populated and more naturally wild- a lake, ocean, mountain, even the suburbs where my Mom and Dad have what I teasingly call their “backyard nature preserve.” I’d cite this as a reason I haven’t spent more time visiting easily accessible cities like Boston, Philadelphia, or D.C., because when I have the chance to escape, I’m usually longing for grass, not more pavement.

I’ve developed strategies over the years for getting my green fix. I live directly on Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so I’m by the lake in minutes. I work near Central Park, so I frequently head there. I’ve got a list of go-to spots for quick infusions of nature—Botanical Gardens, the Cloisters, Greenwood Cemetery, the Brighton Beach Boardwalk. Eventually, though, I need something more—the man cranking up his boombox next to me, tourists who don’t understand/ care about park No-Smoking policies, realizing it’s been weeks since I’ve seen any animals besides rats, pigeons, and spoiled city dogs—I reach a tipping point.

I realize I’m speaking from a place of privilege, because I’m able to get out of town. New York does a tremendous job providing and maintaining public green space citywide; I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Please don’t misunderstand me- I love what cities are able to offer, and I love my life here. But the only reason I’m able to love it, I think, is that I know when I need a change.

Some people transplant to New York and readily graft themselves into the concrete jungle vine—great. Some people are like me. Another analogy, this one inspired by my grandmother. Astonishingly, my Mamoo grew potted pineapple plants in Northeast Georgia, certainly not a place native to them. She knew when to carry those plants (or rather have my Papoo carry them) inside and outside in different seasons to maintain equilibrium. I’m one of Mamoo’s pineapples. Sometimes, I need a new environment to keep thriving.


Every body needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

-John Muir

My town calls itself the “Gateway to Nature and Space.” It’s true. I live in paradise. When I drive along US1, I can look out my window and see the beautiful Indian River Lagoon – home to manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, osprey, and more along side the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center.

The natural abundance here is protected largely thanks to NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center. The space center is surrounded by two magnificent nature preserves: the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore. These lands are protected (I’m going to go out on a limb here) mostly because the government doesn’t want a lot of private development near NASA’s launch pads, and it is teeming with wildlife.

Warning: Alligators are commonplace.

Alligators like to hang out in shallow water where they wait just below the surface for an unsuspecting animal to come and drink, then they pull the animal underwater where it drowns, and then they eat it. Basically the entire state is within 10-20 feet of shallow water. Last week, a man found an alligator in his garage. This is not nearly far enough away from my house to be comforting.

I’m just glad we have animal control.

And mosquitoes. There are so many mosquitoes. I don’t know if you know this, but mosquitoes swarm like bees. And they buzz. But there’s a magical plant called citronella, which repels them. I’m thinking about replacing the grass in my yard with it.

But, as long as you’re wearing sunscreen, bug spray and have lots of water – this place is paradise.

When I go to the beach, I visit Playalinda Beach at the Canveral National Seashore. It’s one of the few places in Florida where you can visit a beach that isn’t peppered with high rise hotels and permanent beach chairs. Instead, you have to be careful about sea turtle nesting areas.


There’s places like the Enchanted Forest Nature Sanctuary, where you can explore the scrub, marsh and forest all in one square mile.


The trouble with living in paradise is that paradise is pretty delicate. People come from around the world to enjoy the pristine resorts at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando (a short 45 minutes drive from my home), but those pristine golf courses and gorgeous yards come at a cost.

fsih kill
Fish kill in Indian River Lagoon – March 2016

When we think about protecting the environment, we think about carbon emissions, renewable energy, and compostable straws (okay, maybe you don’t think about compostable straws, but you should). This fish kill was caused by run off from fertilizers. When people over-fertilize their lawns, golf courses, resorts, etc. the extra fertilizer runs off into Florida’s abundant water ways (remember, there’s water everywhere), and essentially fertilize the algae in the lagoon. The algae bloom like crazy and choke out all the oxygen from the water and the fish die.

Before I moved to Florida, I felt like nature was sturdy. Now I realize that we live in a delicate balance with our environment.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

-John Muir

So, as someone who lives here, I ask that when you visit, please pick up your trash when you leave the beach, skip the straw, watch out for alligators and don’t complain if the grass isn’t all green.


Something Swell on Saturday!

IMG_0464The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

My father is an amazingly talented graphic designer and art director, and The Three Thirty Project is so very fortunate that he agreed to create our very own logo! He made a whole batch of them, and we’ve had fun deciding together which one seems to be the right fit for us. So the something swell this week is the debut of the logo! It encompasses the idea of our intersecting conversations and the element of time…and we’re all pretty darn excited about having a professional logo! Thank you, Dad! You’re the best!!

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Getting from A to B

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three lifelong friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. The three of us live in very different places: urban, suburban and small town. That means the three of us travel from A to B in different ways. It’s been said that life is a journey, not a destination, so we’re talking about our daily journeys.

Mary Margaret 

As I hinted at last week, I’m a proud NYC public transit commuter. Most mornings I catch the B/Q line from Church Avenue, and most evenings, I’m hopping off at Parkside. My regular commutes average 45-60 minutes each way- depending on day, hour, which theatre I’m headed to—and train karma, of course.

New York residents, like people complaining about traffic in car-dependent cities, love to complain about the MTA. But we also love to tell train stories. Everyone has them. Seriously. Just introduce an anecdote in a group, and you’ll unleash a related stream of experiences— at times hilarious, tragic, disgusting, soul-affirming– tales of eerie coincidence, bizarre circumstance, near-disaster, poignant encounters. The reason we have so many stories is that when you commute by train or bus, you commute with people— not next to them in a climate-controlled, sealed pod of metal– with them. You don’t sympathetically witness the child having a silent melt down in the car next to you at the light…the child is kicking and jostling YOU and screeching in YOUR ear at impossible pitches. The couple fighting on the way home from the party they just attended—you’re there, too. And sometimes, you are the person crying on the train, tears sliding quietly down your nose. For better or worse, you see, hear, touch, (and smell) your fellow man.

I complain occasionally about the train (I’m looking at you man clipping his fingernails, or you, Mr. Conductor making unintelligible, gobblydegook intercom announcements). Mostly, though, I love my commute. I love time to read, crossword, think, make lists, play podcasts, observe. It’s a chance to decompress from my day— physically and mentally separating my workday in Manhattan from my home life in Brooklyn.

Also, I like my train stories, or perhaps more specifically: where they come from. Commuting forces me to cram myself in with humanity, sitting and standing with people of all ages, geographic and cultural backgrounds, life situations, moods—going different places for different purposes. It requires patience, but I also think it moves my thinking (while literally moving me) in another important way.

Here’s a sample of things I’ve seen on the train:

  •  Someone being silly-stringed
  •  Woman transporting giant potted palms (She informed me they were for her porch…so she doesn’t have to see her neighbors naked through their window anymore)
  • Man wielding a samurai sword
  • My friend Molly, literally seconds after texting her: “Hope to see you soon!”
  • Eating, kissing, handstands, peeing, vomiting, drawing, opera-singing, drug-           use, preaching, balloon-animal making, fingernail painting, mariachi bands…

I could continue, but my point is that eventually nothing surprises you anymore. Instead of hardening or inuring me, though, I actually think it’s opened me up. Traveling with people, even without direct engagement or conversation has the capacity to stimulate empathy and compassion. If I’m paying attention, being with strangers reminds me of the uniqueness of individuals, and forces acceptance that my life and moment-by-moment experiences are just one in the sea of experiences happening around me.


I’m sure we’ve all heard the proverb that you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

I commute about a mile to work every day. Most days, I pack my diaper bag, strap my daughters into their car seats, double check to be sure I’ve brought a snack and drive in.

But, some days I walk.

My ride…sometimes
Just before my second child was born, my husband and I decided that we wanted to try only having one car. We work together, so we commute to the same place every day. We have two kids, and I didn’t want to have to get car seats for the other car. On top of that our second car was getting older, needed repairs, and we were driving it so little that sometimes the battery would die from under-use. We sold the car and didn’t replace it.

I was excited by this development in my life because it was an opportunity to experiment with consciously appreciating what I have and only having what I need. For my life, I do need one car, but I don’t need two. Consequently, there have been days when due to the occasional need or want for my husband and me to not be in the same place, nap time or bed time that I have found myself walking to or from work.

This has given me the opportunity to walk a mile in my own shoes.

The mile between my home and my work is not the kind of place that people in my community usually walk. The side walks are well kept and it’s a safe community, but it’s also along a busy road and most people drive.

When I walk, I notice how far a mile really is. I notice how green everything is, the sounds of local wildlife and cars, the temperature (usually hot), and how much slower it is to walk than to drive. In my car, I’m at work in 5 minutes if I get stopped at every possible stopping point. I feel like it’s a traffic jam if I get stopped at a red light. But when I walk, it can take 20 minutes.

I find that when I walk to work, I start my day energized and focused because I’ve used my body. Or if I walk home, I’m relaxed and ready to wind down. I get some of my best ideas and do some of my clearest thinking when I’m walking.

My commute has given me the sort of luxurious experience of knowing I have what I need to travel to and from where I need to be and that if needed, I can put on my shoes and my feet will take me where I need to go. It’s weirdly freeing to know that I can get by without all the “things” that are supposed necessities for modern life.

The world is full of advertisements (I pass by 3 billboards on my walk to work) that are telling us that we don’t have enough, that we need the newer, better, bigger thing. But, my feet will get me to work just as effectively as my car (maybe not as quickly and certainly not as comfortably on a rainy day!), but this small act of going against the grain of modern life has made me weirdly happy.


I live in one of those cities that hovers around the bottom of most top ten lists for the worst traffic in America. One of those cities that is big, but not big enough to justify the sixty hours annually our people spend in gridlock. At rush hour you can hear our groans rise up from the streets like the anguished souls of the damned crying out from the river Styx.

My commute. You might recognize this as literal Hell according to tv’s Supernatural.
Of course, secretly we’re damn proud of that stagnant smog-swamp we crawl through every day. We compare and judge: Whose misery is the most miserable? Whose despair is the most complete? We suffer with a righteous pride, the martyrs of suburban sprawl.

I used to commute from the burbs to downtown, but I had a different secret. I didn’t hate the traffic. I didn’t even “love to hate” the traffic. I actually kind of liked it.

I’d leave work as I think most people do, full of crushed dreams and existential crises. I’d maneuver my sedan through a nauseatingly winding parking deck, dodge the jaywalking hipsters, glacially slide onto the freeway, and start inching my way home.

But the thing about gridlock is once you’ve reached your lane, you can make the whole drive in a semi-dissociative state. So I’d turn up the radio as loud as I could stand, and just sing.

I could turn the car into a solid bubble of sound, where it’d be just me and Lady Gaga, usually. Two souls burnin’ roads. That’s where I could own my anger and my fear and my strength and my faith. That’s where my spirit could mend. My own Electric Chapel.

And if it took me an hour to get home, that might be just right for me to walk through the door as myself again.

It’s as if there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. For me, I could be bounded in a gridlock and count myself a Queen of infinite space, so long as I have my Artpop.

gif (2)

But I won’t betray my people. If you ask me about the traffic, I’ll tell you it’s hell. Pure misery.

Motivation Monday, Projects

Being where you are

This week, I’ve felt a little discouraged because I haven’t made more progress on my goals: I’m not caught up on everything I need to be caught up on; I’m not managing my time as well as I’d like; I have a mountain of work that I want to do that I’m not doing up to my standard.

When I look around, I see people who are doing the kinds of things I want to be doing. And from my perspective, they are doing them way better than I will ever be able to do them, and I just feel like giving up.

Why bother trying to write a Motivation Monday blog when there are 10,000,000 other resources that are way more motivating than anything I can offer? Why bother trying to put your voice out there when other voices are more eloquent and articulate than anything I can write? Why bother trying to run a business when 90% of small businesses fail anyway?

So, today, I’m going to try to remember that these people I look up to didn’t start out as the eloquent, together, polished, inspiring people I see today. They started wherever they were with whatever resources they had.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

My resolution for the new year was to be and do a little better. I know the only way to reach a destination, whether it’s a physical destination, an accomplishment, or a mental state is to take one step in the right direction and adjust as you go.


So, wherever you’re going. I hope you take a moment today to give yourself credit for all the distance you’ve already covered and have the courage to try again today and tomorrow to take one more step.


Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

This week had a couple of genuine, purely smile-worthy moments: Jillian’s sonogram picture from our Thursday post. The big, wet, beautiful snowflakes that were falling this morning when I woke up. But what I’m sharing today is a different kind of “Swell.” Thursday I gathered with a swell of people, including members of my church St. Peter’s Lutheran at 26 Federal Plaza, where New York immigrants, many fearing and facing the potential of deportation have to make regular check-ins. I went in support of an immigration activist named Ravi Ragbir, who was attending a check-in at 10 AM. The new administration’s orders have changed the reality for immigrants in this country- many like Ravi who are working through the process legally and “playing by the rules.” We cannot ignore the fact that Congress, the current administration, as well as the last administration, have failed to institute meaningful immigration reform, and many people live in constant fear that their family will be torn apart.  Here’s an article about the action. https://mic.com/articles/170754/ravi-ragbir-ice-deportation-activists-supporters-nyc#.fm6DxVDYV (you can actually see the back of my head in the picture…so play Where’s Waldo, won’t you?)

I marched with faith leaders, activists, and community supporters around the Federal Plaza building with the New Sanctuary Coalition (http://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/,)while Ravi went inside for his check-in, praying after each loop, participating in what they call a “Jericho Walk.” My prayer was for this kind of a swell: Let justice like a river roll.

Ravi was not taken into custody for deportation yesterday, but others were. That does not make me smile. What does make me smile is  hundreds of people standing together in prayer on a brisk Thursday morning, affirming the fundamental humanity of immigrants in this country.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

The Contents of Our Characters…and our Bags

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three lifelong friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. We often tackle broad ideas, but today we turn to the small and look at some of the simple elements that form the fabric of our days, making our experiences uniquely our own. This week we talk about what you can learn about someone’s life by upending their bag and shaking out the contents. 


Two years ago, in a fit of frustration, I made a list and pinned it to the wall above my diaper changing table:

It read:

-change of clothes
-booty paste
-clean up towels
-teething tablets
-toy for car

I made this as a reminder because I was sick of showing up places only to find that I had packed diapers, but forgotten wipes. That my daughter spit up or made a mess and I had nothing to change her into (and then have to walk around with either a very wet or nude baby!). That I got into the car for a long ride only to find that my daughter had nothing to do in the car.

In pencil, I added to the list:
-bottle/water bottle
-emergency back up undies
-nasal spray, vapor rub, benedryl

Because it’s amazing how often your child develops a cough or allergic reaction to something while you’re out.

I feel like a pack mule whenever I go anywhere these days. I don’t carry a purse anymore. But I have a wallet that holds my cell phone and many other things. In it i have an old photograph of my husband when he was in the U.S. Coast Guard. 3 copies of my credit card (2 are replacements – one for a card that was stolen, one has a chip in it, but I only remember that I need to destroy the extra cards when I’m at the store trying to figure out which one is valid). No cash. I have a few gift cards, but I’m not sure if there’s any money on them. Several business cards: one from my dentist with a reminder for a teeth cleaning I had scheduled for last April, one for Sledd’s U-pick strawberry farm, and one for my daughters’ pediatrician with the date and time for their next doctor’s appointment.

Occasionally, I bring my laptop back and forth from work. But, I have to bring a separate keyboard and mouse for my computer because one day, my daughter spilled coffee on my laptop and now the keyboard doesn’t work.

I carry a large planner with my everywhere I go. Mostly it’s there for moral support. I don’t sit down every day and plan my day. I use it to remind me of important things – right now it has a copy of my younger daughter’s birth certificate that I need to scan and send to my health insurance company…in fact, I’m going to do that right now.

I carry around so much luggage whenever I go anywhere, that both of my daughters have started carrying bags of their “things” with them wherever we go. Today, my older daughter brought a pail full of color pencils to her babysitter’s house and my younger daughter brought a bag full of foam blocks. It meant an extra trip to the car as we were leaving, but I loved that they needed their special things, just like I did.


I carry one little cross-body purse, and if you’ve ever seen me, you’ve seen it.

It doesn’t hold much. Of course there’s the basics, phone, wallet and keys. Notable things inside the wallet include a photo of Maggie’s four-year-old daughter in her karate uniform, a pendant given to me to mark a milestone in my eating disorder recovery, and my Georgia hunting and fishing license… only because I occasionally practice casting a line at my parents’ lake house. I’ve never caught anything and I’m okay with that.

On my key ring is a small library card, a key chain from when I went with Maggie and 4-year-old to the Kennedy Space Center, and a pea pod made of cloth that was given to me by some friendly Japanese people I met when I worked a conference in Hiroshima.

There are also two tiny packs of tissues, one empty, because I am more congested right now than I’ve ever been in my life. Totally snot-faced.

There’s a hair tie, a chapstick, and the only two lipsticks I can wear without looking like a clown who tries to lure children into forests after dark.

I’ve also got two little plastic baggies – one for the prescription migraine meds I’ve needed at least once a week for the last ten years, and one for a few cubes of candied ginger I can nibble on when my stomach gets upset.

In the very bottom of the purse there’s enough loose change to get mildly excited about. My husband pointed out that one coin is from New Zealand – it’s been down there for two and a half years.

In the inside pocket there’s a collection of pads and tampons of varying sizes and features. One for every occasion. In there with them are a pair of tarnished earrings, an arsenal of hair pins I never need, and a Benadryl in case of bees.

There’s another pocket on the back of the purse where I usually put stray papers. In the bottom of this pocket is another small arsenal of hair pins I never need – where are they coming from?! There are also a couple of receipts from recent doctors’ appointments.

And then, there’s this, for anyone who might ask to see it.

sonogram ed
Coming August 2017 to a maternity ward near me.

Mary Margaret

It’s unclear to me where Mary Poppins buys her bags. But more than once I’ve pondered the extraordinary usefulness of possessing a bottomless carry-all. City living has often led me to the platitude: “I carry my life around in my bag.” As a daily commuter from Brooklyn to Manhattan, when I leave my house, I’m basically gone. Anything I might need or want for that day, which as a freelancer might take me to multiple workplaces, yoga class, social outings, needs to come with me in the morning. Since I’m obviously not throwing it into the backseat of my car, necessarily it’s carried on my person. Thus my glamorous life as a human pack mule.

The MTA reminds transit users: “Backpacks and other large containers are subject to random search by the police,” and if I was ever selected, there’s a good chance they’d find some or all of these things in my bag, though I don’t think any of it would get me into great trouble…

  1. More clothes. My days take me through a range of inside and outside climates, so I travel prepared. Outside might be 90 degrees but the train will likely be a refrigerated icebox, so layers are crucial. On rainy days, a change of socks helps me avoid soggy, trench-foot workdays.
  2. More bags. Never underestimate the importance of carrying foldable bags within your bags, for shopping trips, or if there is a shift in weather and you need to peel off some aforementioned layers. I often begin as a bag lady (multiple bag scenario) and only obtain higher levels of bag lady status as the day progresses. Also I watched Captain Planet as a child, (he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero!) so here’s my little PSA for reusable bags!
  3. Reading material. You never know how long you’ll be on the train (I recently sat in a train tunnel for 90 minutes- thanks broken rail!) or what the day may hold, so I always have a book, crosswords, notebook, knitting, or all the above, to keep me occupied. I never jumped on the e-reader bandwagon and dislike Iphone reading even more, so while it’s more toting, I prefer books with covers and doing crosswords in ink.
  4. Sharp scissors. Maybe this would raise some police eyebrows? When I sew in different costume shops and theatres, I bring some tools, since good supplies help me be efficient and effective. I always have a little pair of embroidery scissors (snips!) and sometimes my large sharps, because nothing slows you down like dull fabric scissors, amiright!?? (non-sewers nod slowly)
  5. Life wallet/Work wallet. I carry two. One for personal things, one for receipts, keys, money, credit cards, etc. for theatres/shows I’m working on. Though it’s usually hard to draw clear boundaries between our work and personal lives, in wallet world, it’s a totally achievable goal.
  6. A Full-size Floor Lamp. Just kidding. I’m still not Mary Poppins.

Women on Wednesday!

Happy International Women’s Day! Since the 3:30 Project is interested in presenting the perspectives of three women, I felt it would be remiss not to post something today, even though we never post on Wednesdays!

Women have been here since the beginning, yet our voices have not often found their way into the narratives of history. When we started this blog, I asked myself if I wasn’t just adding to the general noise and wordiness of modern life. I think like so many women, I found myself questioning whether my words had any meaning– whether they were worth putting down and putting into the world at all. Unlike the women of the past, the internet has given many underrepresented populations a forum and platform to be more visible, tell their stories, and add to the broadness of conversation. I came to hope instead that even in a small way, that Maggie, Jillian, and I are adding drops to the pool of voices that is a wider movement in our time- a movement that insists that underrepresented groups like women have stories worth telling, perspectives worth knowing, ideas worth sharing. So thanks for reading these words from three women. It’s just words, but if it wasn’t already obvious, I think words matter.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” -Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”