Dear God, Thank you for college football weekends. Love, Lizzie.


Oh my gosh, Notre Dame-Miami weekend was the best. It was exhausting and exhilarating and everything in between. Michael, Ben, and I rendezvoused at O'Hare last Friday after a highly eventful day of travel involving flaming planes and Uber car accidents, hitting the road over an hour later than anticipated. As soon as we landed, I started getting snaps and texts from my family and Laura, Drew, and Haley, who were all already in South Bend. Could not wait to get there. We picked up our rental car, and I mayyyy or may not have driven 85 all the way from O'Hare to Exit 77. 

Our destination? Campus after dark. 2:15am, to be specific. Just us and the dozens of undergrads fleeing back to their dorms after parietals started, on Halloween Friday. Hilarity abounded, campers. 

As it was Ben's first time on campus, I wanted to make sure his introduction was as special as possible. It was a gorgeous night, and the Dome always looks beautiful lit up. Even better: 

Nothing beats the Grotto after dark, especially on a game weekend when every candle is lit. We stopped for a quick prayer, then headed to Library Quad and the stadium before looping back to the bookstore and off to the Reuvers' cabin. 

We all woke up a little slower than anticipated on Saturday...the three of us after a late night, the rest after a hard night at the Backer. (Well...crazy Michael got up and went running at 6am! Luckily, he crashed for another hour or so when he got back and we were all asleep.) All our grand plans for starting gameday at the crack of dawn? Yeah, right. Should've remembered that we always start slow on game Saturdays.

Fortunately, Paul Reuvers is a champ and knew the only way to start a gameday was by hopping right back on the horse...aka by heading to fulfill a classic Irish tradition at Knute Rockne's grave. I had never been before, so this was a new experience for all of us! 

Soon we returned to the cabin, where shenanigans abounded. 

While it may look like the boys dominated our lone game of beer pong, Laura and I sank both balls in the same cup to come back and win it all for Team Lady. 

Then things got silly, and we filled up our coffee cups to head back to campus for a day of Irish celebration! 

Not without a quick Schwegmanigans photo, though :) 

We cut across Stadium Lot, and paused to check out the new construction by daylight. I am NOT a fan, friends. From there, it was off to the Bookstore (where we bonded with half-naked water polo players), Player Walk (my first time ever!), and then to Bond Hall to see this guy: 

ROOMIE! (Disregard my blurry eyes. Drew brought me two four-packs of White Girl Rosé in honor of our INSANE shenanigans over Laura's birthday weekend, and yours truly may or may not have overindulged in classic basic white girl fashion. No apologies.)

This was the first time my parents had met Hal's, and I'm fairly sure it was love at first sight (much like their respective children). 

Along with enjoying our front row seats for Concert on the Steps, we met up with my darling former Candyland pseudo-roommate, Melissa, and her husband Jordan! From Concert on the Steps, it was a mad dash to Main Building for Trumpets in the Dome, where I shamelessly elbowed my way guessed it...the front. Don't come between this girl and her nerdy band traditions. 

Basic bitches take hugging photos in front of campus landmarks. So good to see Melissa - it had been since her wedding over a year ago! 

We parted ways and headed to the stadium, where I admired my view for pregame...

...and enjoyed the excellent company of Hal's family through a tumultuous game. Oh, Irish. Loving you has taken DECADES off my life at this point. 

After a nail-biter of a fourth quarter, and being right in the perfect position to witness our game-winning touchdown, the fun was just beginning. Michael, Ben, and I scored post-game field passes through Irish Upgrade, a new-to-me way to score cool behind-the-scenes or add-on experiences. We had unlimited access to the field and sidelines, in a group limited to just 40 people. It was my first time back on the field since my graduation day...needless to say, I was a bit nostalgic. The boys, on the other hand, were dying for a football. 

We made do, however, by running around like pros (them) and snapping close to a hundred photos (me). All while reveling in that Irish win up on the scoreboard, naturally. 

We slowly made our way out the Tunnel and back to the cabin, where a giant ribs-and-pasta feast awaited us courtesy of the Reuvers family. Riley lit a bonfire while my parents had us all in stitches around the picnic table...and I could have died and gone to heaven with general contentment. Three of my four Schwegs plus so many of my favorite friends, at my favorite place, after an Irish win? The only thing that could have made it better would have been mustering enough energy for the Backer. 

That's right. WE FAILED TO BACKER. Eternal shame is mine. (I'm just going to tell myself we had to leave something on the Notre Dame bucket list to get Ben back sometime soon!)

Sunday dawned soggy and drizzly, but we made the best of it after saying our goodbyes at the cabin. Ben left absurdly early for O'Hare, while my parents and Jonny headed off to Michigan to move him into his big-boy apartment! Michael and I went to Studebagels with Laura, then paid a visit to the Basilica...nominally for Mass, but mostly so I could lose my mind over the stunning new organ. 

All too soon, it was back in the car, back to O'Hare, and back on a plane to the Cities. Notre Dame weekends' only flaw is that they are never long enough! Saying goodbye to those blue, gray October skies is always hard, but knowing there will be more football victories and fantastic times with friends and family in my future makes it so much easier. 

Proudly in the heavens, gleams thy gold and blue, indeed. Go thee, Notre Dame! 

Off to ND...Go Irish, Beat Hurricanes!

You guys - I'm officially taking off tonight for my first Notre Dame home football game in THREE YEARS. And I couldn't be more excited! 

I started planning this trip with Michael back in, I kid you not, March...over oysters before the opera. Since then, I've managed to assemble quite the assorted crew of friends and family to join me! Michael and his friend Ben are flying from North Dakota to O'Hare, and I'm hopping a flight at MSP to meet them.

We're renting a car, and rendezvousing with Laura and her friend Haley en route to South Bend.

When we get there, MY PARENTS and JONATHAN will be waiting! So excited - my family hasn't been back to campus since my graduation weekend...

...and haven't been to a game since my senior game in the fall of 2010.

On game day, we'll see roomie Hal and his family...which means I'll see more of Hal at ND than I do at our shared apartment...ha!

We're all staying at the Reuvers family's "cabin," which is less than a quarter mile from the stadium, and is truly stumbling distance from Heaven on Earth...aka THE BACKER. The cabin is one of the coolest places to stay...from the Longhorns on the wall to the hundreds of framed photos, and of course the life-size Irish Guard in Paul's old uniform!

I cannot wait to spend the weekend doing all my favorite things...visiting the Grotto, watching morning marchout, doing piccolo cheers at Concert on the Steps and inevitably crying during pregame. Shouting all the songs at the top of my lungs at the Backer while trying not to drown in the sludge or get ceiling drips in my Long Island. Singing the Notre Dame "Lord's Prayer" at Basilica Mass and picking up The Shirt and the 2016 holiday ornament at the Bookstore. Maybe even Studebagels, Papa Smurfs, and Cambodia Thai for good measure! 

This trip marks Ben's first Notre Dame trip after a lifetime as an ND fan, and I can't wait to show him campus. Jonathan is legal now, and I'll be taking him to the Backer - our first time going out together! I'm sure there will be drinking games, shot-skis, and cherry bombs with the Reuvers family too - two schools, one heart at its finest. 

Needless to say, this weekend will be one for the record books. Here's to dreaming of an Irish victory over Miami - if Virginia Tech can do it, I like to think we can! Even more importantly, here's to not forgetting my Backer shoes...


Lately I'm Loving

Things making me smile/on my mind/causing distraction lately:

--Travelers' former CEO and executive chairman, Jay Fishman, passed away last Friday after putting one of the best public faces on ALS in the twenty-first century. I have SO much respect for him and how hard he and his wife Randy worked to raise the profile of the disease...from basically funding the Boston Children's Hospital "voice banking" project, to raising millions through the annual Travelers Championship, he engaged so hard. This fantastic piece from the Hartford Courant brought tears to my eyes - yet another testament to a truly remarkable and courageous leader.  

--Another famous leader I've brushed with? Charlie Weis, infamous ex-coach of Notre Dame. ESPN's brutally honest and revealing profile of Weis in semi-retirement fascinated me. The way they peeled back his character, family, and current mental state layer by layer, interspersed with major names in football and pop culture and snippets of utterly compelling stories, really humanized him for me. I don't know. Having existed on campus with him for my first three years of college, and having suffered through a myriad of painful ND losses, I was never a big Weis fan, and I don't know that I am now. That said, I feel sorry for him, I'm thinking a bit more about the man than the coach. I'm kind of rooting for him, I guess (and also want to be able to text Bon Jovi, so there's that). 

--Closer to home, I'm trying to spend my spare time doing more writing as I come off an insane summer into an equally frenetic fall. Hal and I camped out at Spyhouse, by the MIA, all afternoon last Sunday - he worked on essays while I wrote blogs, emails, and a few other things. It was a day that was simultaneously peaceful and productive, and I need more of those - so I'll be working my way through the spots on this list of top St. Paul coffee spots all fall, I've decided. It'll get me to spend a little more of my leisure time across the river, and with an extra caffeine jolt and far away from the distractions of the apartment, I get so much more done. Anyone in? 

--I love words, and I loved this list of words in foreign languages for emotions that can't be easily explained in English. Things like this never fail to tickle my fancy. Favorites off this list: "énouement," the feeling of arriving in the future and wishing you could tell your past self how something will work out... "liberosis," the desire to care less about things... "vellichor," the smell of a used bookstore (ahhhh I live for the scent of lignin on old book pages!)... and "rucckehrunruhe," the feeling of returning home from a trip and quickly losing that expanded sense of self travel brings. I need to learn a new language...or at least keep up on my French better. 

--Finally, and deliciously irreverently: OLYMPICS, guys. Or should I say Olympic guys? Go Fug Yourself does roundups of the toned body parts and tiny uniforms of all the hot male Olympic athletes every year...see swimming here, track here, and men's gymnastics here. You can thank me for making your entire week later. I'm probably hideously shallow for admitting it, but I'd catch myself pausing the men's gymnastics just to marvel at their biceps. And the divers' tiny, tiny Speedos? Um, yeah. If commentators can talk about female beauty, uniforms, and appearances all Games with impunity, then you better bet I'm going to visually objectify the shit out of every six-pack and toned tricep in Rio. It's probably a good thing the Summer Games only take place every four eyes and heart couldn't take much more.  

Quick Fact Sunday, Volume 6

I am obsessed with the Olympics. 

I mean, who isn't? My love for them dates all the way back to the Magnificent Seven in the 1996 Summer Olympics. The team included Dominique Dawes and Dominique Moceanu, and I remember thinking that "Dominique" must just be the honorific for an elite gymnast, much like you call a doctor a doctor. Ha! Plus, I wanted one of those American flag warm-up jackets in the WORST way. Such a 90's child. 

My passion for the Olympics only grew as I fell in love with Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan during the 1998 Winter Olympics, which inspired a brief, ill-starred flirtation with figure skating. I was terrible, and gave it up pretty much instantaneously after I realized that I wasn't going to get to wear sparkly costumes and have people throwing bouquets and teddy bears at me every practice...narcissist from the start, huh? 

So many great memories...watching the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (I still have my own copy of the Roots official team beret!), falling madly for Michael Phelps in the 2004 Athens games, tuning into Vancouver in 2010 from London and fighting the time difference the whole way through. And of course, this totally made my life during the London 2012 games...oh my gosh, that entire Olympics made my life, let's be real. 

Also from the London Olympics, the best thing to ever hit the Internet, Go Fug Yourself's "Olympic Abs" slideshow. Ladies, do yourselves a favor and please go admire. It will start your entire week off on the right note. 

My senior year, I even took a class on the Olympics...Dr. Ken Dye, Director of Bands, arranged and composed music for the Sydney Olympic games. His class, "Music and the Olympics," explored the intersection of music and sport and dove into deep detail on each of the modern Olympic games. While the class was a true senior "slacker class," composed primarily of marching band kids who worshiped Dye and athletes who needed a fine art credit, I absolutely adored it and loved his firsthand accounts of directing the recording of the music for the opening ceremonies. 

These Olympics are extra-exciting for me, as, like London, I've actually been to Rio! Ken Dye took the Concert Band down right after I graduated college, and we spent two weeks touring beautiful Brazil. I've sunbathed on Copacabana Beach, hiked to Christ the Redeemer, and viewed some of the Olympic venues from the top of Corcovado!

These days, my Olympic dreams are confined to the annual Beer Olympics over Labor Day at Greg's cabin, and I missed the bulk of the last few days as I was at Kelsie's cabin drinking like a gold medalist. That said, if you need me in the next few weeks, I'm almost sure to be glued to NBC watching the games...Citius, Altius, Fortius, and here's to many, many gold medals for the USA! 



Derby Derby Derby 2016

Let it go officially on record: Rachel and Jubs throw a damn good Derby party. I can think of few things better than getting all dressed up with friends, drinking outside on a gorgeous day, and two minutes of sports! 

These two, though, went all out. From the adorable decorations, which I wish I had taken more pictures of, to the insane food spread, which I took NO pictures of, they completely decked their beautiful house out and I loved all the details. 

Didn't hurt that their backyard was gorgeous, either...

...I think every combination of people there took photos by this giant, blooming lilac bush. Their space gave me serious renter's envy. And now I'm on Zillow telling myself I should totally buy a house just so I can have lilacs in my backyard. 

More lilac pictures! (Claire, your arms DO look so good in this photo.)

Fun fact: J.Crew Factory carries this dress all the time basically, and I got it in four colors for $29.99 apiece on insane promo. Obsessed. 

The fabulously sassy hostess with the mostest. I had severe shades-and-hat envy. 

Rachel and I go all the way back to second grade Brownie Girl Scouts, so naturally we had to take a Girl Scout Law picture. 

And the award for Derby Best Dressed went, hands-down, to these two. How are you both so freaking adorable at all times? You essentially need to move to Churchill Downs and take up permanent residence just so that suit can see the light of day on the regular. 

Old roomie pic! 

Fabulous hats, gorgeous dresses, juleps and cornhole. Basically the day in a nutshell. 

Um, hi, the sunglasses game is so strong with these men. I'm also dead-dying-done obsessed with the suspenders/gingham/Neuzy's shorts action. 

We ladies didn't clean up half badly either, though! I'm incredibly glad we took at least a couple nice photos...

...before the above and below happened. 

The photo booth props made my day. Just another total attention-to-details thing that Rachel and her sister and Jubs knocked out of the park. 

Things rapidly took a turn for the tipsy when I hit the champagne bottle-first. 

And the race! You can kind of see on Rachel and Jesse's mom's backs that we all had bought in and gotten horses with odds, in keeping with the race. Molly ended up with Nyquist and won...which means I expect at least 15 extra minutes of open bar at their wedding in JUST THREE WEEKS! ;) 

Colleen's hat looks so good on Rabes. 

And Colleen just looks so good always in general. (I, on the other hand...yikes.)

Favorites, right there, encapsulating basically how the night ended: blurry but still fairly attractive ;) 

Inaugural Derby Party: straight success. Can't wait for next year: someone hide the juleps!