Age: 39 (My birthday is my favorite holiday, so while some people may dread turning 40, I can’t wait! April 8… here I come!)
Lives: Johns Avenue in Gettysburg!
From: I was born in Gettysburg and I’ve stayed in Gettysburg. I feel like Gettysburg is the closest thing to a real-life version of Stars Hollow (which is where Rory and Lorelai live, for those of you who didn’t fall in love with “Gilmore Girls” like I did).
Educated at: This is a tricky question. I started off at Kutztown University for art education. But while I was taking drawing classes with this insanely cool man – Professor Rose – I started to question my decision. I asked Professor Rose how he knew that he wanted to be an artist and he said, “Because the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is art.” And I said, “The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is writing.” And Professor Rose said, “You may want to rethink your major.” So I did. I went to HACC the following year, and then I transferred to Millersville for my junior and senior years. I graduated with a degree in English, minoring in art, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the English degree so then I went to Wilson College and completed the Teacher Intern Program. And then, eventually, I actually went back to Wilson to earn my Master’s… So, yeah. Like I said: a tricky question.
Family: My family whom I live with? I’ve got a busy household! Sid, a black domestic shorthair, is 16. I adopted him when he was between three and five years old, so we’ve gotten to know each other really well over the years. Then there’s Ernie, an orange domestic longhair. Best parking lot find ever, that guy… I wouldn’t give him up for anything! Christopher Charles (Kip, for short) is a grey domestic longhair who moved in two summers ago. As a result of Kip’s never-ending level of energy, which thus annoyed Sid and Ernie, Petey, a Siamese mix, was adopted that fall. And then, much to the chagrin of the felines, Arlo the Airedale joined the family in May 2019 and Augusta the Kerry Blue has been residing on Johns Avenue for going on one month. Technically, they’re both terriers, but I often refer to them as “terrors” because they terrorize the cats and the Hosta that are (trying) to grow in my yard.
Job: I teach ninth- and tenth-grade English at Biglerville High School!
Job’s reward: There are seriously so many—devising creative lesson plans, introducing students to my favorite pieces of literature, wearing jeans on Fridays [insert winky-face here]—but the number-one-without-a-doubt reward is the relationships I form with the teens who spend 40+ minutes a day, five days a week, in my classroom. They teach me more than I teach them, I’m sure, and they make me laugh on a regular basis. I legitimately love my job, and my students are some of the coolest people I know.
Job’s frustrations: Bad grammar and a lackadaisical attitude toward capitalization.
Very first job was: I was a lifeguard at the Lake Heritage swimming pool. Talk about some seriously good (and ridiculous) memories. And the best part? A large percentage of those memories have been recorded on yellow legal paper because whenever someone said something funny, we’d write it down and tape it to the ceiling of the pool office! To this day, my friend Biz and I take turns housing the quotes.
Favorite food: This is a difficult question because I like food. A lot. But I’m gonna have to go with spaghetti and meatballs (turkey meatballs; I don’t eat red meat) smothered with mozzarella and Parmesan. I also really love olives, though… as everyone should. If you take the letters in the word olive and rearrange them, it actually spells “I love,” and that is precisely how I feel about olives.
Pets: See “Family.”
Hero: Easy! My hero is my mom, Nancy Newman, who is the absolute best person I know. I feel as though she did everything right as a mother. When I was in sixth grade, I was only allowed to watch “90210” if I watched it with her. That way, she and I could discuss all the risqué behavior of those Beverly Hills teens, thus teaching me a ton of useful information about drugs, sex, relationships, etc. As a teenager, she required that my brother and I have sit-down family meals with her (my mom is a crazy-good cook) where we’d talk about school and friends and work. And now, at the age of 39, I still talk on the phone with my mom at least once a day, nearly every day, and we somehow never run out of things to discuss. She’s my favorite.
Hobbies: Reading, writing, gardening, running, and art. I love making art, and I specifically love working with cut and torn paper. My favorite coffee shop, Eighty-Two, is kind enough to display my work, so if you’d like to see it, you should stop by and get a hazelnut latté because their hazelnut lattés are beyond amazing.
Pet peeves: I hate it when people respond to text messages with the letter “k” or the yellow thumbs up symbol. I mean, seriously… am I not worth the extra time it takes you to type “ok”? And is it too much effort to change that yellow thumb to a skin tone? We are not creations of Matt Groening, after all.
Collects: Wine bottles, actually. Whenever I finish an exceptionally good bottle of wine, or a bottle of wine that has exceptionally clever art on the label, I rinse it and put it on display above my kitchen cabinets. Molly Dooker is a favorite because both the wine and the art are exceptional.
Best friend: Kathy Schiefer. She’s beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, and kind. My favorite thing about Kathy, though, is that she’s a constant surprise. Just when I think I can’t get to know her any better, she does something so un-Kathy-like that I have little choice but to step back and think, “Huh. I didn’t expect that!” I love that about her. She keeps me on my toes.
Would liked to have witnessed what event in history: Woodstock. I’d’ve loved to have seen Country Joe and the Fish sing “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.”
Event that changed your life: There was this one day a few summers ago when I was mulching in my backyard and thinking and just way too wrapped up in my thoughts because there was some heavy stuff going on in my world at that point. And then my pup at the time, Agatha Wags, started barking her head off and I looked up and my acquaintance Nate Becker was in my yard. And even though I didn’t know him all that well, I unloaded on Nate Becker and he listened and said all the right things and that was the day our friendship really began. And since that random day a few summers ago, I have gotten to know the Beckers so well and they’ve basically welcomed me into their family as an honorary member. Nate Becker and his quirky, wonderful wife Kristin have become two of my closest friends, and their amazing children Isabel and Gray make me feel important on a regular basis because they always have so much to tell me, and by getting to know the Beckers, I have essentially gained a second family. And that has definitely changed my life for the better.
Scariest moment: When I was in high school, my grandparents took the entire family on an Alaskan cruise and the last night of the trip was really foggy. A fishing boat got in front of the cruise ship and I guess the ship didn’t see it until the last minute, so we had to make a really sharp turn. My brother was in the bathtub and the tub overflowed; swimming pools overflowed; deck furniture went overboard. I thought we’d hit a glacier and were going down like the Titanic, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.
First memory: I must have been five because my brother was just a baby and I was holding him on the couch before going out to the bus stop. I was wearing my favorite teal corduroy pants and Pip puked on them, so I had to change into my pink corduroy pants before the bus came and I remember being really annoyed about that.
Trait inherited from parents: Creativity. My dad, Craig, can fix absolutely anything and my mom is essentially Martha Stewart, so while their creativity presents itself differently than mine, I still know that my creativity was inherited from them.
Piece of advice that you live by: It’s okay to feel however you feel, and you should never apologize for feeling a certain way… even if it’s different than what’s expected.
Who needs a hug? No one. The goal is to stop the spread of coronavirus, so no hugs!
Favorite reading/author: My favorite book of all time is Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” closely followed by William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace. If you haven’t read them, you need to; even the nonreaders love Ordinary Grace. My favorite author of all-time, however, is Marisa de los Santos. Her characters are lovable, her imagery is beautiful, and her stories make me happy.
Favorite spot on earth: This is maybe going to seem like a lame answer to some people, but I’m going to have to say my house. I’m a homebody—I love being home—and if I have to choose a place to be, that’s the place I’m going to choose every single time.
Website you visit most: Lately, it’s been Etsy.com. This quarantine has me doing some serious online shopping and I like the fact that I can support artists while satisfying my need for retail therapy.
Would like concert tickets to see: Reel Big Fish. I’ve seen them dozens of times already, but I will never be able to see them enough times. I have loved them since “Sell Out” and the summer of ska, and have had fascinating music- and literature-themed conversations with their front man Aaron Barrett, and was privileged enough to once receive a tour of the band’s bus, and I will love them forever. It’s as simple as that.
One bad habit: I have a tendency to slouch. I blame my friends because they’re nearly all shorter than I am, and because I didn’t want to feel like a behemoth while we were in school, I’d slouch so we were closer to the same height.
3 items on your bucket list: 1. Own a Maine Coon. 2. See The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform at their Hometown Throwdown, which occurs annually in Boston during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. 3. Visit Scotland with Kathy and my mom and a friend of my mom’s choosing and sightsee all of the important places referenced in Outlander (the books, not the show).
Five minutes with: My brother. Pip passed away in October and there are so many things that I want to ask him, and tell him, and if I could just have five more minutes with him, I’d jump at the opportunity.
What skill or lesson would you like to learn? I’d sort of like to teach myself to play the harmonica, because I’d potentially be able to carry a concert in my pocket, and that’d be cool.
What would people find surprising about you? One of my hobbies is writing, and I’ve written a couple of books, and the books that I write have recurring characters. Sebastian, Lucy, and Bert show up in everything—even if it’s just a minor mention—and they’ve resided in my head since I was in the fourth grade. I couldn’t fall asleep one night so my mom told me to make up a story in my head; to this day, I still make up stories about them as I fall asleep at night. That was thirty years ago!
What would make this world a better place? I think the world would be a better place if the United States had a different President.
What is the best piece of news you received lately that you would like to share? Well, I sort of already shared it: I recently adopted a six-month-old Kerry Blue Terrier named Augusta, and when I received the news informing me of her availability, I freaked out. I was sooo excited! Kerry Blues are not a common breed.
How would you like to be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as an excellent friend with an abundance of creativity who’d go out of her way to help animals. Especially cats.