The Five Best Things I've Ever Done



Hung out with William Burroughs at his house.

 This picture was taken in his front yard, in 1996. On a digital camera so this resolution is the best that exists. That's Justin Hall to my right, Bill claiming me as his girlfriend on my left, and Eben, being shoved the wrong way by Justin in the back.




Tossed a love note onto the altar of Julius Caesar.

 In the Roman Forum, you can visit the altar where they burned Caesar's body and have worshiped him as a god for a couple thousand years. People still visit every day. I believe it is continually covered by flowers. I couldn't find flowers to offer, so I tore a sheet of paper out of my journal, wrote a love note, and tossed it onto the pile.



Climbed Glastonbury Tor. Twice.

Glastonbury Tor is a giant hill in the southwest of England. It was a magical spot to ancient British people, and it definitely feels magic. It's also 518 feet tall, and that's a lot of steps. Beyond worth it though. 



Surrounded by whales.

 In 2015 when I was visiting family in California, my cousin Mark offered to take me out on his boat to look for whales. We found them, although it felt more like they found us. They came up all around us and it was truly amazing.




Disney College Program

Is this one thing, or a bunch of things? I'm voting it's just one. People ask me if it was everything I wanted it to be, and it was. It was difficult sometimes and I definitely hated it a few times, but overall it was, well, Magical.



Other lists from 50 :

50 Favorite Songs
5 Favorite TV Shows
5 Best Movies
5 Favorite Museums
5 Best Books


Where I'm Headed with the Doctor

After I read about the newest archaeological discovery around Stonehenge, I was telling my friends that when I get to be the Doctor’s companion that will be the first place I’ll ask him to take me. Although I might not have to ask because he usually asks his companion first. All of time and space, where do  you wanna start?

I liked the idea so much I made a list. I meant for it to be a list of ten, but it grew.

  1. super ancient Salisbury plain

  2. to meet Julius Caesar (especially 63BC or maybe the Kalends of February right before he is killed)

  3. when Queen Elizabeth I is told she is the queen.

  4. to meet Cyrus the Great of Persia

  5. Hanging Gardens of Babylon

  6. the height of the civilization that built Angkor Wat

  7. Santorini before the volcano

  8. the first humans

  9. A meeting of the Inklings (on a night both CS Lewis and Tolkien were there and in rare form)

  10. the streets of Paris with Henry Miller

  11. to meet Catherine the Great, who may or may not be my auntie

  12. Southern England in Roman times

  13. Lhasa Apsos running about a Buddhist temple

  14. Florence during the Renaissance

  15. a Todd Rundgren concert in NYC in the 70s

  16. in the radio station broadcasting War of the Worlds

  17. Disneyland on opening day

  18. to meet Dorothy Wordsworth (William’s sister)

  19. to meet the actual King Arthur

  20. Alexander the Great in India

  21. the Library of Alexandria

  22. my town the day before Quantrill’s raid

  23. to meet Henry VIII as a young man

  24. Glastonbury Tor, anytime BC

  25. Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, in the day

  26. the Beat poets in NYC

  27. Philadelphia in the mid 1770s

  28. the Oracle of Delphi

  29. Kansas City in the Pendergast era

  30. the Frost Faire on the Thames

Where would you go? I'd love to hear. Comment here or on Facebook!


Listen when your wife has a weird dream.

As I'm sure you know, I kinda love Julius Caesar.

So one of the best parts about traveling to Rome for me was going places where he lived and hang out in spaces he hung out. I loved it.


This is a statue of Caesar that's right along a main street whose name I don't remember. Behind him is the ancient forum. He's staring off at Hadrian's marketplace. I love this picture.

Everyone knows that he was stabbed in the senate building by a bunch of small minded, murderous jerks, but what most people don't know is it wasn't the senate building you're thinking of.  that one had burned up a bit in some fire and was being repaired at the time. The senate was meeting in the theatre of Pompey, and it was right under a state of his old friend that his ultimate traitors stabbed him over and over.

These are photos from the first time I saw it in 2007 and the second time, when I drug Hannah along with me in 2011. Both times I stood there for a really long time trying to soak it in and be there a little bit. 




The second time I went, the area was full of archaeology in action. I found out later they uncovered that state of Pompey. I love history. And in Italy it's so all over the place people take it for granted. It's awesome.

Ok so back in the days when Caesar was killed (44 BC), people kind of believed in gods in a very different way than we do today. And after Caesar was killed, they made him a god and built him a temple. How much did they really think he was a god? and how much was it just like when a sports star gets his number retired? I do not know because I was not there but man you know I wish I were.

(But only temporarily.)

So they built a temple for him around the pyre on which they burned his body. It was right in the middle of the forum. It still is.




Can you read this? Mr Lane can. It says Julius Caesar kicked ass.


Here's the best part. 2,000 years later, every day people still bring flowers to his altar.
And notes. 
I couldn't find a place to buy flowers, so I wrote this note.


Anyway, even though half the world doesn't know what the Ides of March are in reference to and even less really care that Caesar got killed, of course I think about it today. Not in a sad way though, I think it's awesome that it's 2000 years later and people still love the man. Mostly Romans, but still. And I like an excuse to talk about him and show you my pictures.

Hope you survived!



I have been looking at a lot of pictures.

The other day my sister forwarded me an email about a big sale at MyPublisher. 100 page book for the price of a 20 page book. I figured I didn't have quite enough stuff going on, so over the last two days I've been putting together a book from my trip to Europe with Hannah, and one from our family trip to Disney last year. I had to make a swear to myeslf not to try to just last minute pull one together from my first Europe trip*.

I'm kind of tired of looking at my own pictures, but there's this picture of my ancient OTP**, Gauis Julius Caesar. I love it so much I just had to show you.



* i really hope to have some sets of photos more together waiting so it's easy next time a big sale happens.
** otp = one true pairing. it's fangirl slang.

Beautiful, magical Ireland.

As you probably know, about a year and half ago I was lucky enough to spend about a week in Ireland. It was a wonderful week that I still treasure.

In honor of this holiday, when millions of American's wish and pretend to be Irish (including myself), I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos from my visit with you.


dublin castle chapel

On the first day of our trip, just after we found our hostel and checked in, we wandered out completely jet lagged and with no idea and no plan of where we were headed. We stumbled into Dublin Castle just a few blocks away. This man (probably St Peter with the keys to the pearly gate) watched over the door into the chapel. I kind of loved him.

irish field of green

What a view! Just outside of Dublin, on an all day bus tour, we stopped for a longer look at this gorgeous view. Can you count how many shades of green there are? I certainly can not.

ps i love you bridge, wicklow ireland

I took this shot standing on what is apparently the PS I Love You bridge, from the movie which I still have not seen. But the heather, the grass, the rocks and the stream made it one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. It's right in the middle of Wicklow National Park, and I'd recommend driving through (with many, many stops) if you ever get the chance.

magic trees in glandalough ireland

Lately I've been thinking this is the best photo I've ever taken. It's from the ancient monastery at Glendalough. Hannah and I took a long hike there, and this is from about midway round. It was so incredibly magical I was almost certain I'd catch a fairy poking out from behind one of these tress, but I never did. I guess my eyes weren't sharp enough.

irish ruins

The name of these ancient church ruins escapes me. I'm sure I've written it in my trip journal somewhere, but one of my favorite things about traveling through such amazing places is that there is so much amazing you start to lose track of the details. If there was a place like this in Kansas I would go there every day and marvel at it. I would never forget a detail. In Ireland there was so much beauty it was impossible to keep track of it all. The main church is behind me. It was gorgeous, but I love this view of the field in front a little better.

a stream in ireland

Again, I can't even remember the name of the town where I took this picture that looks like all my imaginings of Ireland from my teenaged fantasies. It's right outside of a pub where we stopped for lunch.


The Burren is a beautiful, rocky area full of ancient tombs. This tomb is called the Poulnabrone is dates back to the Neolithic era at 3 to 4 thousand years BC. That's 5 or 6 thousand years ago. Can you even imagine? That is almost unbelievably fantastic. It was gorgeous there. Barren and windy and incredibly peaceful, it was easy to imagine why ancient people thought it was holy. A thousand years after it was built and used as a tomb, some Bronze Age people buried their baby there. Someday I would like to go back and sit there with my journal for a few hours, just soaking in the ancient magic of it.

the cliffs of moher

The Cliffs of Moher. I can't even pretend to sum up the power of this place. There used to be a fort here, and there is still a magnificent tower from the early 1800s, but it is the cliffs themselves, along with the majestic sea, that made me want to spend the day watching (and listening) in awe. Visiting them was definitely a must do when I was planning our Irish week and they did not disappoint. An extra fun bonus is that they were used as the Cliffs of Insanity in one of my most favorite movies, The Princess Bride. "Whoever he is, he's too late. See? The cliffs of insanity!"

inis mor, dun angus

Inis Mor is a very small island off the west coast of Ireland. On it's western edge stands the Iron Age fort of Dun Angus, built in 1100 BC. There's not much left, but the view is magnificent and the edge plumets into the Pacific Ocean. This is the view from the ruins. Next stop, America.


I often gaze at these photos (and others from my favorite places) and dream of returning. For longer periods, by myself with fat journals and multiple sd cards.

Hank House


This is the view from Debra's porch. On the right is a house where a man named Johnny was born and lived for almost all of his life. Debra used to live in the blue house in the middle. A lady lived in the house on the right, but it's really the house to the right of it that I want to talk about.


It's hard to see the house from the street. It's the one in the middle here, behind the big fence.

Debra's friend Johnny, from the first house, told her lots of stories of olden days Kansas City. One was that one of the guys in Hank Williams band, the Drifting Cowboys, lived in this house. He said that when ever Hank was playing in or around town, he'd stay here. In the house, right across the street from where I was staying.

As you've probably noticed, I am in love with Hank Williams Sr these days. I was freakishly excited for the whole weekend. Saturday night as we sat outside in the dark, I kept a constant vigil on the part of the house I could see, hoping the ghost of Hank might wave at me. I couldn't help myself and called out "Hank!" once. Silly me. One time the porch light came on (no, not just after I shouted), but otherwise not so much.

Another interesting thing about those houses - if you notice in the picture, it's big house, little house, big house, little house. During the depression, the people who lived in the big houses built the little houses in the side yard to rent out and make more money. Interesting. I've been on that street a million times and never even noticed the pattern.

Here are some links to some Hank, in case you're curious:

Day 1: Travel to DC

Our flight didn't leave till 3:45pm and I just about made myself crazy waiting. I was So Excited.
I was glad my sister was around to help distract me. We ran some errands, finished all the packing, trying to check in online and couldn't and eventually watched a couple episodes of The Tudors on Nextflix streaming until Finally it was time to head to the airport.

- poor barking dog at the airport
- poor barking dog on the plane made the poor baby cry, and the crying baby made the poor dog bark more.
+ noise canceling headphones
- i gave mine to hannah because hers didn't really cancel anything.
+ seats weren't too bad, flight wasn't too long or bumpy

IMG_7002 IMG_7003

Joel and Gene met us at the airport.
When we left the traffic met us.
Drove past Pentagon and could see a few monuments on the way to Chinatown for Tapas. Is it weird that there's Spanish Tapas in Chinatown? I guess not.

On the plane I had mentioned to Danny that I hoped Joel already decided where we were going for dinner and didn't even ask us. I didn't want to think about anything. When we landed and D turned his phone on there was a text from Joel "Tell Shelly Tapas for dinner>" Hooray.


The tapas restaurant, La Tasca, was awesome. Super awesome. My favorite parts were probably the combo of tempura like onion and pepper rings, and the spanish style mushroom risotto. Yum!

happy family 

Me, Danny and Hannah at La Tasca, taken by Joel on his new iPhone 4

We were watching a guy in the window make noodles. I thought I had some pictures of another Asian restaurant around the corner that used to be the boarding house where the losers who conspired to kidnap/kill President Lincoln hung out. There's a sign out front with info and I guess it was Joel who took the pictures, not me. We ended up eating there our last night.

Day 5, Part 2: Tuesday

After we left the Masonic Lodge, we headed out to get some Philly Cheesesteaks. Not that we were that hungry, but it's something you have to do when you're in Philly. We went to Tony's. I loved the bread, and liked the sandwich, but I think it's better the way we have it in KC - with mayo, malt vinegar and season salt. Carolyn thought the malt vinegar idea was crazy. I guess sometimes you like things best the way you're used to them.

Carolyn showed me Curtis, where she went to school and trained to be an Opera singer. We ran into her old vocal coach along the way to a place with amazing capppuccino that we took to a lovely park to drink.

Jesus wants you to fuck shit up.

Graffiti in the park

Independence Hall

We walked back to the car to park in the part of town closer to Independence Hall and the restaurant where we were going to eat. We got to Independence Hall at the end of the day, just in time for the last tour of the day. While we were waiting we went into the little building where they keep the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and George Washington's copy of the Constitution. They keep it very dark, of course, to protect the documents, so it was very hard to read any words on the papers. And yet it was very moving to see them and consider what they meant and how truly revolutionary and unique they were at the time.

Independence Hall
Independence hall
  The first room on our tour was this room that was used as the courthouse. People stood behind the bar to watch and/or riot. The person on trial stood in the little metal cage. All the lawyers sat together at the round table. This is also the room where they held the first continental congress in 1774. They made a list of grievances to send to King George, believing he would be reasonable and work with them. They made plans, however, for a second congress if the King blew them off.

By the time the second continental congress met, the revolutionary war had already started. They met in this room across the hall when they were in Philadelphia. They had to meet several times to work things out, and part of the time they were run out of the city by the British army, but eventually they worked out the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence.

Independence Hall

Like most American's I have seen images of this room and the founding father's signing the Declaration of Independence so many times, but I never really imagined it the way it really is. I thought it was a lot bigger. It was as moving as I had imagined however. Even more so. Our guide was really great at her job, and made us all realize how these men were really risking their lives and the lives of their families, committing treason and risking everything to try to make a government that matched their ideals of democracy and fairness. I can't even get started on how lame it made our current sent of government seem.
Independence Hall
Independence Hall

It's true I am an idealistic government geek. And Independence Hall really fed that. I loved it.
ben franklin's grave From there we walked to Ben Franklin's grave. Apparently people throw pennies on it. The graveyard was closed by then, but luckily I got a couple pictures through the gates.

old grave yard 

It wasn't quite time for dinner, so we went to a little coffee kind of shop. I've forgotten the name, but it was nice and I had a very yum mango smoothie. We hung out and chatted until it was time to walk down to Zahav, an incredible Israeli/Middle Eastern restaurant. If you live anywhere near Philadelphia you should certainly go there. It was so good; awesome atmosphere, wonderful wait staff (for the most part), a fantastic view (of the pantheon) (for me) and the food was so different and delicious.

hummus at zahav

Oh the hummus!

salads at zahav

Loved the presentation of the delicious little salads. My favorite was the eggplant, but they were all really very good.


Eben picked the best wine ever. Seriously. Chateau Musar from Lebanon. Apparently a rare choice. Some worker came over to comment on it and ask why E picked it. He told us a fair bit about the wine. It was seriously fantastic.

dinner at zahav

Our three main entrees.

It was pretty cold on the walk to the car after dinner, and I was kinda whiney.
We all crashed out pretty quickly when we got home. We all had to be up early Wednesday morning to take me back to the train station by 8.

Day 2: Part 1 Saturday

When Mat and I headed out on Saturday morning, we walked along the river towards the subway station. Roosevelt Island usually has a sky tram thing (like the SkiHi at Worlds of Fun) to get from the Island to the city, but right now it's out of service till the fall. I was looking forward to riding on one, even though I'm afraid of heights. Drag. So it was the subway to head over. (I forgot to add that to the list of things I didn't get to do). At any rate, the walk was beautiful.

Another tidbit about Roosevelt Island: There used to be a prison on the island. Emma Goldman was put there for supporting birth control (and not supporting the WW1 draft). Mae West was put there for public obscenity charges. Billie Holiday was put there on prostitution charges.

Awesome Building
  Across the bridge
  My friend Mat
  Beautiful tree
We headed first for Greenwich Village so I could see some of the places my counter culture heroes had lived and hung out. First stop, the Chelsea Hotel.


Did you know it's still a hotel? You can stay there if you have a lot of money. I think it's most famous for the tragic story of Sid and Nancy, but an unbelievable number of famous, talented people lived here to do a number of fantastic things. For example (and this is just a partial list): Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Arthur C. Clarke, Dylan Thomas, Sid Vicious, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Herbert Huncke, Dylan Thomas, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Arthur MillerTennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, K. Charles Graham, Jack Kerouac (he wrote On the Road right here), Simone de Beauvoir, Robert Oppenheimer, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stanley Kubrick, Mitch Hedberg, Dennis Hopper, Eddie IzzardJane FondaEdie Sedgwick ... and the list goes on and on. I think a life goal is to stay here some day, even just for a night.

As we wandered down Greenwich Avenue, we came upon a street fair. Very fun. We watched people and had some treats as we walked south towards 10th street to find a little cul-de-sac called Patchin Place. Lots of famous folks lived here as well: ee cummings, Djuana Barnes, Theodore Dreiser, Marlon Brando and of course, Jack Reed and Louise Bryant (the reason it was a destination). I think that Eugene O'Neil also lived there but I can't find any proof right now.

Patchin Place and the Clock Tower
I spotted the sign right by the Jefferson Market Court with it's giant clock tower. It was super lovely. At first I thought it was all gated off but then realized the gates were open, so I went inside and walked all up and down the sidewalks thinking about Jack and Louise walking the sidewalks.

Patchin Place 

Patchin Place
Patchin Place
Next up, 157 w 4th, where Jack Reed rented a room to write 10 Days That Shook the World, his book about the Bolshevik Revolution. We walked past the offices of the former Masses newspaper, the socialist paper Jack wrote for back in the day but neither of us felt like backtracking for it. Of course I dorked out when we found his building. We ate some lunch across the street and sat so I could gaze at the building and imagine Jack coming and going from there.

iPhone map 

Jack's Building
Door to Jack's building
Stairs to Jack's building

About two blocks away is the lovely Washington Square Park, complete with a lovely arch. It was meant as an answer to the Arc de Triumph in Paris although a lot smaller. I remember walking through the park and under the arch when I stayed in NY in 1984, but the park was a lot different then. Scary and full of people offering to sell me some drugs, now it was full of people with their kids and dogs.

Live music in the park 

me in Washington Square Park

That day there was also a jazz band playing in the park so Mat and I sat and listened for a while. They were pretty good and Mat bought me their cd so I could listen and remember (but I forgot to pack it up when I came home!) There was a dog park and so there were tons of dogs. As I watched them go buy I started noticing there were lots and lots of dachshuds. Short hair, long hair, wire hair, I thought 'oh, lots of New Yorkers must have dachshunds because they're small and good in apartments". But when we got up and walked further into the park the dachshunds were everywhere! It was Dachshund Day in the park and man, the people and the dogs were celebrating. Very very cute. I want a Lhasa Apso day here in Lawrence.

Lots of Dogs

Washington Sq Park Arch 

Sidewalk Art

Next up was Union Square Park. When my bff Debra went to Parson's in the 80s, she stayed in a building across from that park. And for a few weeks, when I thought I was preparing to go to the New School for Social Research, I stayed with her there. So I for sure wanted to see it now, especially since it was highly sketchy back in the day but is full of people and sunshine now.

Union Sq Subway Station

31 Union Sq West
I also wanted to check for Stomboli's, the terrific pizza place we ate at a lot while I was there. A lot of years had passed but it was still there. It's been there since 1966 (the year I was born). That's a big deal. It's good pizza. Stromboli's
Next up: the Statue of Liberty

After showing me the building at the tip of the island where he worked, we took the Staten Island Ferry across the water to get a good look at the Statue of Liberty. I love that statue. I love how giant it is. I tried to imagine seeing it after escaping my bad life in Europe and a long crap sea voyage. My great grandmother was only a little girl when she came here from Russia in 1908; I wondered if her parents held her up so she could see it over the railing.

Staten Island Ferry


   Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
After we rode back, Mat suggested (since I like to wander alone) that he go back to his pad and I head to Central Park on my own. I was all for that so he gave me directions and we went off in our separate directions.