Your Southside/Downtown Indianapolis Weekend Itinerary

The Definitive Weekend Itinerary for Visiting Moi,
or,
One Woman’s Cry for Friends from out of Town,
or,
A Local’s Take on What You Should Do with Your Weekend in Indy… ish

Friday:

You’ve arrived! Yes, this airport is surprisingly clean and bright and cute. I know, right?! Go ahead, take a picture of the IndyCar. Go ahead, get someone to take a picture of you with the Ndy sign.

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A note on the Ndy sign: If you take a picture with multiple people at the Ndy sign, it will ruin the illusion and you run the risk of looking like an idiot. I’m only telling you this as a friend. I don’t want you to be the person with spinach unknowingly in her teeth for four, very public hours.

So, what are you going to do now that you’re here? Oh, you “know” already? Oh, your friend Gavin–the one with the neck scarves and crown molding–told you that Broad Ripple is where it’s at? Oh, he said the Southside was trash? Well, fine. Fine. By all means, follow Gavin’s advice.

Oh, you’re in Broad Ripple now and you’re confused and you’re hungry and you hate everything… Oh, no? You are having a good time? Gavin was right? Well, you know what? Gavin doesn’t know all, okay? Are you going to follow Gavin the rest of your life? We both know he’s going to exit your life, leaving you with a better wardrobe, weird furniture, and no children. So, give the Southside a chance. I DARE YOU.

Oh, good. You listened. The first thing you need to do is hop on the convenient, scenic pedestrian and cyclist path, the Monon Trail. Head south a quick seven miles to Mass Ave. Use this time to think about whether Gavin has a positive influence on your life.

(But really, I hope you rented a car. This is not a walkable city. This is a drivable, parkable, lovable city.)

Okay, you’ve made it to Mass Ave! It turns out, you’re at the beginning of the Cultural Trail. You could rent a bike! I wouldn’t.

Instead, I’d walk around. Yes, bum it up! Live a little!

Stop at Indy Reads Books, and send a picture of the exposed brick and obscure reads to Gavin. He’s going to flip. Feel good, knowing you’re supporting adult literacy in Indianapolis.

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Oh, and the mural outside? Someone’s found her new lock screen photo.

Make your way down Mass Ave. Buy some really weird, pro-Indiana jewelry that will sit in your jewelry box forever, until posthumously, your daughter finds it and realized you really were mentally unstable. It doesn’t matter. It will be the best thing you own.

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Grab another photo of the Kurt Vonnegut mural, posing like him is optional. See the “dancing lady,” which is actually called “Ann Dancing” by Julian Opie.

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Maybe you’ll stop at Union 50 for a fancy meal. (For evidence of fanciness, I give you a bathroom selfie with a faucet that someone HAD TO SHOW ME HOW TO WORK.)

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Maybe it’s a nice day and you’ll grab a beer at The Rathskellar. Both places will be nuts, so don’t do it.

Do this instead:

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Option #1: It’s baseball season, silly. Head to Victory Field. Eat a giant bratwurst covered in onions. (Honestly, it was silly of you to think you were going to get a kiss on this trip. Gavin lied about a lot.) Drink Sun King beer. Cheer with people until your voice is hoarse and you question whether this really is just a minor-league baseball team.

For part of the game, pull out your hand radio. (I bet Gavin forgot to mention that on his Pinterest list of musts.) Hold it up to your ear and hear the magical voices of Howard Kellman and Andrew Kappes. Someone told me recently that Andrew doesn’t work full-time for the Indians? THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NUTS. GIVE THE BOY A JOB.

Stay and gawk at the too-close fireworks after the Indians win (and even if they lose).

Also, be prepared to yell at children who think they are entitled to a ball. What’s this world coming to and is it Gavin’s fault? I bet Andrew Kappes would know.

Option #2: Go to a night of comedy at ComedySportz Indy. It’s spelled with a “z.” Do I need to say more?

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Grab the best Rueben of your life from the cafeteria-style deli Shapiro’s, before falling asleep with sauerkraut breath.

Saturday:

Of course you’re up early! You’re excited! Who wouldn’t be?! You’re in the Amateur Sports Capital of the World! The Crossroads of America! THE CIRCLE CITY!!

And today you’re going to get out of that city and discover some of that small town charm the Southside is (not) famous for. (The Northside, aka Eagletonian slime, has luckily not infested God’s country.)

Wake up and put on real clothes. Be very careful here. If you try something new, e.g., overalls, maxi dresses, or–my word–a jumpsuit, be prepared for people to stare and perhaps even make comments about your inventive style. You’ve been warned.

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Go to Long’s Bakery. Get a yeast donut for now and a dozen for later. Eat in your car.

On your way to Franklin—kind of, but not really—get a peanut butter cup mocha from the Strange Brew café. In case you are Tom Cruise or you didn’t read the sign, do not stand on the couch. They do not like it when you stand on the couch.

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Go to Franklin. See an “old” movie at the Artcraft Theatre. Possibly a classic, like a Hitchcock. Possibly a newer classic, like, Hitch.

It will cost a approximately $3 to get in (though if it’s Saturday and they’re showing cartoons, it only costs a can of food) and another $2.50 for refillable, local popcorn. Prepare yourself. We, Hoosiers, are a patriotic, nostalgic people. You will stand and sing the National Anthem. (Yes.) And then, there will be a Looney Toons cartoon before every film. (Also, yes.) Will this be weird to you? Absolutely. Will you also kind of think it’s neat and that you are now in a WWII film? Also, yes. Don’t share this with Gavin. He would only ruin it for everyone.

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Walk down the street, passing lovely renovated homes, to the Wild Geese Bookshop. Relish in the pleasures of local business. Immediately follow them on Instagram and feel a bit better about the direction of your now Gavinless life.

Head east to the Taxman brewery for the burger with an egg and pork belly (because Heaven is for real) and have a very tiny beer.

Stop by my house. Duh, bruh.

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Go fishing. And do that thing that I assume most people do when fishing, which is to really want a fish because it would be cool, but also really hope that you don’t get a fish because no one wants to be the murderer, fish-gutter person here.

If it’s April, May, or June, go morel mushroom hunting.

Make s’mores. Maybe go to a cork and canvas night at Mallow Run Winery or a summer concert at Willowfield Lavender Farm if you’re feeling extra energetic.

Sunday:

Weep that the weekend’s almost over. Dry your tears with a leftover donut because there’s too much to see still.

Are we doing church? If yes, go to one with coffee and donuts and people who like to say, “Hello, sweetie,” in an accent that feels scandalously southern. If not, go to one of the following places for breakfast:

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Milktooth, because Gavin will want to talk to you about it. Look, here’s a warning: You might not have any idea what you’re ordering because the menu was written by someone very much like Gavin. They’re suffering from what I believe is called “deconstructed hipsteritis.” However, you will probably enjoy what you eat and where you’re eating it.

The Original Pancake House, which is never to be confused with IHOP. Order a German Dutch Baby Pancake. Finally find happiness.

Yiayia’s House of Pancakes or Flap Jacks. We get it. This morning you just wanted a lot of decent breakfast foods for a decent breakfast price. Good for you.

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If you didn’t make it last night, now’s your chance. Walk around, fill your nostrils, and grab some local souvenirs at Willowfield Lavender Farm or sip some wine and stretch your legs at Mallow Run Winery.

After all that walking, it’s onto another eatery. After all, that’s what we do best in Indiana.

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We’re heading to Zydeco’s in Mooresville. You have every right to be shocked at the prices (too high), but there’s a work-around. Order 2-3 small dishes. It’s cheaper, and you get to try more things. Get the garlic soup. Again, YOU’RE NEVER MAKING OUT WITH ANYONE ON THIS TRIP GAVIN IS A LYING JERK. Enjoy the atmosphere of New Orleans transported to suburbia.

Walk down the street to one of three consignment shops in the center of town. Find treasures! Find things that should never be considered treasures!

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Stop for pie at Gray Bros. Cafeteria. Chocolate silk, duh. Complain to their faces that they no longer have peanut butter pie. I’m convinced that if enough of us do this, they will bring it back.

I once brought an entire peanut butter pie on the flight from Indy to L.A. The TSA guy almost took it until I explained how much I adored it. He said her understood. “It’s Gray’s.”

Head back to the airport. It’s time to go! We’ve come so far. Stay strong when Gavin asks you about your trip. When he runs a hand through his skin fade undercut (a thing?), take a deep breath, look him dead in his colored contacts (you know the truth even if he said they were natural), and begin with, “ComedySportz was great.”

“ComedySportz with a ‘z’?” he’ll ask.

“Yes,” you’ll say. And you’ll watch him run away, and you’ll never have to lie about his tight pants again.

just realized you didn’t eat a tenderloin! COME BACK!!!!

All the Places in One Convenient List!
Indianapolis International Airport
Monon Trail
Mass Ave.
Cultural Trail
Indy Reads Books
Union 50
Rathskellar
Victory Field
ComedySportz Indy
Shapiro’s Delicatessen
Long’s Bakery
Strange Brew
Artcraft Theatre
Wild Geese Bookshop
Taxman
Mallow Run Winery
Willowfield Lavender Farm
Milktooth
The Original Pancake House
Yiayia’s House of Pancakes
Flap Jack’s
Zydeco’s
Gray Bros. Cafeteria

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That time I “met” John Green

 

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Two weeks ago, I almost moved back to Indiana.

One Saturday morning, I broke down. While crying in the shower I kept thinking of how little time I have to write, how many dreams are out of reach, and how much I miss my family. Then, as my tears soaked into my shaving cream, I had an idea. A brilliant epiphany!

I would go home.

It was obvious, really. Don’t I belong in Indiana?

Isn’t it a part of my soul? Have you seen me shuck corn?

I mean, I was one of the few kids in high school who didn’t go on and on about wanting to leave our town. (I think this is the main talk for high school kids everywhere, but kids who live in LA, you’re not fooling us. Stop acting like you can pull off the leave-this-small-town-in-the-rear-view thing.)

Twenty minutes after this epiphany my plan was underway. I prayed about it for at least 100 seconds. Obviously, I had carefully considered every scenario.

I told my family I was coming home. I don’t think they believed me, something about taking time to think about it. I don’t know. Whatever.

My dad was impressed that I felt the same way the next day; he told me he’d fly out and help drive me back.

Back. Back to Indiana. Indiana here I come.

But…

In the grocery store a few days later, I had another epiphany. You see, that whole week I had been pleading with God. I said, “Okay, God, I don’t need the whole picture, but if you want to give it, go ahead. That would be great. But just this next step. What am I supposed to do now? Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Especially if it’s Indiana. I’m pretty sure it’s Indiana. Tell me if it’s not Indiana because I’m going home now because you won’t tell me what to do and we’re done talking but I trust you and I’ll trust you in Indiana. Okay? Amen.”

In the canned items aisle, when I quieted down for 2.5 seconds and you know, listened, God was like, “My sweet child, I’ve told you. I told you.” And then I was flooded with memories. Like, cue the Rom Com montage of wiping éclair cream off noses and holding hands in front of sunsets and riding bikes with ridiculously huge baskets. Like, cue all the times I knew I was supposed to go to California. Cue the times I trusted that I would be a writer and looking out my window at the huge oak and believing that if it could do its best to reach the sky, so could I.

Yes. I cried in that grocery store.

Yes. I cry during predictable romantic comedies. (Sorry.) (I’m not that sorry.)

I called my mom: “I’m staying here. Don’t let me leave. Don’t help me leave. I’m not happy about it, but I’m staying here because, you know, God’s plan.”

Mom: “Okay.”

Me: “Uuuuuuugh. Mom! I’m staying! Hello.”

Mom: “Okay?”

Me: “I want to come home.”

Mom: “…”

Me: “… Fine! I won’t! I’m staying!”

I spent the night not quite ready to think about what staying means. The next day, I stood on the noble ground of not quitting; even if I’m not moving forward, there’s something to be said for simply not letting go. The day after was a Friday, so already things were much brighter. (I also bought a ten-pound bag of chicken breasts from Costco, so again, things were much brighter.) (Ten pounds of chicken for one person.) (I’ll probably post pictures of my Mark Wahlberg guns next. Nbd.)

And then, it was as if I slowly came back.

I made a thanksgiving list. That list was full of answered prayers, future dreams, and so many good people. That list made me realize that maybe my life isn’t so bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the dumps about a lot of stuff, but my ultimate, bottom line was that it’s going to be okay. I’m going to get through my job. There’s a reason I’m here.

And then John Green came into the picture.

I’ve applied to jobs at DFTBA a few times because well, we know how I feel about John Green as a Hoosier, an Indy Car fan, and an author. I was never expecting to hear back, but on Wednesday I got an email from his personal assistant asking me to chat on Skype.

I went all “hettawhattapersonalassistant she talks to me?” And she was all “I want to talk to you too, but you’re actually speaking to John.”

And I was all “Holy s***!” Arms flailed. Legs buckled.

I heaved myself off of the floor (of my cubicle), and as the tears and mucus cascaded over the curves of my smile, I was filled with thanksgiving once more.

I’d like to say a lot of this thanksgiving had to do with John Green (and it did), but most of it had nothing to do with John Green. It was more about every step that had led me to that point. It was about every chance taken, every step of faith, and the people I know and love.

My interview with John Green was ten minutes long, and they weren’t earth-shattering minutes. I made him laugh twice (once intentionally). I didn’t say anything groundbreaking. (If we’re being honest, neither did he.)

But I got to speak to one of my favorite authors. Just him and me.

He said some nice things. I said some okay things. We said goodbye. And I realized: things can change in a freaking instant.

I realized how much I love my life. Today. I realized how much God’s doing and will do. I realized that when God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” He’s not condemning me to his will; He’s saying, “hey, you! You want a life that’s BETTER than you could ever hope for? Good, follow me.”

And I realized I belong here. I don’t mean in California (though right now, that’s where). I don’t mean in this job (though right now, that’s where). I mean, I belong right in this sweet spot of thanksgiving. I belong waking up early to write and lingering at Sunday brunch and sending happy texts and crying in the grocery store over and over and over until I get that this, right here, is it. This is joyful. This is peaceful. This is where a greater-than-I-could-imagine life happens. I belong right here, and I’m not leaving. No matter where I go, no matter what I do, I’m not leaving this spot.

SoCal is Ron Weasley

Sometimes I feel really out of place in Southern California.

For a person who enjoys mornings and hot chocolate and orange leaves and soup, Southern California with its afternoon glow and Kombucha and sand can be difficult. Not in the way calculus or international trading agreements are difficult, but more in the way picking onions out of a burrito is difficult. And the sun. So much sun. Every day the sun is there, reminding me that I can’t be anything but happy. 

Even the sun is pressuring me!

I went from Southern California to a personified sun. The blog horse is running away again. Excuse me while I pull on those reigns. Neigh! Pull!

SoCal is a delight to many, and I get it. What’s not to love? But since moving here, loving SoCal has felt like cheating on Indiana.

Take the kindest, sweetest boy who wouldn’t kiss you on the first date because of he’s embarrassed by his sweaty lips; that’s Indiana. Falling in love with SoCal would be like leaving the boy and running away with People‘s “Sexiest Man Alive,” circa 1989, 1998, or 2005. Neigh! Pull!

Back to my point: it’s just not fair or nice, and it’s so… predictable. 

And so I’ve never loved California fully. Always one foot on the ground.  

But is it possible to love two places for different reasons? (To be clear, I’m asking this strictly about places. Please don’t run off on your sweet or even semi-aggrivating significant other, even if he does have sweaty lips.)

Like, am I allowed to love California for showing off days like this? 

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And this?

 

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And this?

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May I love it for its ridiculous traffic and unpredictable acts of nature, 

while still adoring Indiana for its autumn and small towns and Walmart? (Walmart is different in Indiana. Trust me.)

I think so. I hope so. I long for my Indiana home, but I’m learning to love California. It’s that slow friendship love that sneaks up on you like wet socks. (I only realize my socks are wet when I stop moving.) I think I can love California like Hermione loves Ron. 

But I’ll always love Indiana like Hermione loves Dobby. Maybe Dobby didn’t appear to be such a star to anyone until after he died, but Hermione saw the potential there. I’m not saying anything would have happened between them, but… you never know. I feel better about that scenario than Hermione/Harry. 

Neigh! Run free! Blog Horse is free.

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HP Images 1&2.

 

IndyCar vs NASCAR

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I was recently having a discussion with FAC + Rob (an honorary member) about the types of people we went to high school with. Because the four of us are from very different parts of the country, we had different groups of students at our schools. (Jill had cowboys. Real cowboys!)

When I did my impression of the kids who rode on my bus, I think the others were more than impressed. I basically said, “Hey, man. NASCAR!” over and over again. (This is disturbingly accurate.)

(I realize this is making fun of those people. I liked pretty much everyone I went to high school with, but those hillbilly kids were mean, if that makes it any better.)

Anyway, after we stopped laughing–I’m exaggerating. No one has to “stop”  themselves from laughing at my jokes– Jill asked me, “Hilary, do you watch NASCAR?”

I gasped. NASCAR? Me? HOW COULD SHE?!

“OF COURSE NOT!” I said, “IndyCar is totally different.”

Then the four of us got into a discussion about whether or not IndyCar and NASCAR have differences. I claimed that IndyCar is so much classier (and cooler and better) than NASCAR. No one agreed.

Katie tried to come to my aid (bless her) and said, “IndyCar had that girl, Danica Patrick, didn’t they?”

“No!” I said. “She moved to NASCAR, and IndyCar is better for it!” (Sorry, Danica fans. Although, you’re probably NASCAR fans, so never mind.)

Now, maybe I see the stark differences between NASCAR and IndyCar because I’m from Indiana, where we literally have class projects based on the Indy 500. (See my 5th grade, spray-painted, milk jug race with its egg passenger.)

But I don’t think so. I think IndyCar is genuinely different (and genuinely A LOT BETTER). Let’s look at 5 facts:

1. Racers.

When I think about the people racing in NASCAR, it’s Ricky Bobby and bad mustaches and lunch boxes from Walmart with bright numbers painted on the side.

With IndyCar, you get international wonders (see Tony Kanaan), Indiana Jones fans, and etsy t-shirts.

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Marco Andretti, aka the David Beckham of racing. (I bet you didn’t know that.)

2. Celebrations.

The Daytona 500 ends in champagne being sprayed everywhere. Civilized? I think not.

The Indianapolis 500, aka The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, ends with the winner drinking milk and pouring it over himself. It may be messy, but at least it supports calcium consumption.

3. Cars.

Let’s look at these babies.

NASCAR’s cars, i.e. the taxi cabs.

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IndyCar’s cars, i.e. artwork.

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See?

4. Famous people.

Alyssa Milano plays in a NASCAR fantasy league.

IndyCar owners include Patrick Dempsey and David Letterman. And also Patrick Dempsey. And also Patrick Dempsey.

5. And also Patrick Dempsey.

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snow day

I don’t think I’m supposed to get a snow day in grad school.

I don’t think I’m supposed to get a snow day in grad school in Malibu.

I don’t think I’m supposed to get two snow days in grad school in Malibu.

But… guess what I got?

Just so we’re clear, it’s not snowing in Malibu. In Indiana, though, in Indy it’s really snowing.

Snowing to the point of flight cancellations and power outages (none that lasted more than a minute at my house) and completely breathtaking scenery.

Snow days used to be filled with sledding and drinking hot chocolate and watching loads of movies, and guess what? They still are. Shouldn’t every day be full of those things? Some would say that they shouldn’t; no one would ever get anything done. I agree (I accomplished very little today), but I do think there’s something magical about a snow day and a cup of hot chocolate. It’s something that we should try to recreate and recognize when it comes without the flakey fanfare.

I wish you a snow day, not necessarily one 12 inches deep, but one that’s full of laughing and play and magic. That’s the kind of snow day we’re all supposed to get.

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indiana in 90 seconds

Back home again, in Indiana, blah blah blah blah blah…

Wabash! How I long for my Indiana hoooooooome.

I was in Hoosierland for less than 29 hours this weekend, and the trip was nothing short of an adventure.

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Oh, you don’t think I can climb this tree?
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Yammo going to fall.
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I’m not sure who I take after. Mysteries…

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My friend, Crusty Bee, in between the airplane’s window panes. Miss ya, CB.

corn

Corn.  Also known as Indiana.  I am convinced that corn can do anything.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at the facts.

What’s delicious?  CORN!

What is a part of this country’s history?  CORN!

What can be any color depending on how long you leave it in the sun? CORN!

What can be milled to make delicious powder that mixes with eggs to make johnny cakes? CORN!

What can be made into fuel? CORN!

What’s the bad sugar you’re supposed to stay away from?  high fructose CORN! syrup.

What has its own band?  KoЯn!

What’s my favorite summer food? CORN!

What have I not had since being in California and refuse to pay for corn by the ear and not by the dozen?  CORN!

One day CORN! may rule the world. 

pretty views and pretty blooms

So the title doesn’t rhyme, but it sounds like it almost does, right?  Throw me a bone.

I live in a pretty place, and sometimes I forget how beautiful it really is and how much I dreamed of living here when I was younger.

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But like so many dreams becoming reality.  Living here, in California, is different than I imagined.  It’s busier and more expensive and more real.  Isn’t that what happens when what we wish for comes true?  It’s simultaneously more and less and different than you thought, but that’s because it’s not just a thought anymore.  The dream has been thrust into reality and that means it’s so much messier than you imagined.  But, can I just say, it’s so much greater, too.

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There is someone out there “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”  Isn’t that awesome?  Because I imagine some pretty great things.  I ask for specific, crazy, wonderful things in my life, and yet, everything I receive is so much better than anything I could think up to ask.  I’m not trying to paint a picture of perfection here because my life is FAR from it, but even if it isn’t perfect, it’s certainly beautiful.  Every day, here in California, and at home, in Indiana, life is beautiful as dreams manifest themselves in reality, and something greater, something more than we could ever imagine for ourselves, takes root in our lives.

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