Grand Plans

When I was 16 my family took our second great trip across the country. We flew to Salt Lake City, rented a car, and drove through Utah, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. I saw so many awesome places on that trip. But it was strolling through sunny Seattle, seeing Pike Place and Fremont and the water all around, that I thought to myself, “This is a place I’d like to live in my 20s.”

It was a strange thought, maybe, to have then. It was a general sort of dream, nothing life-changing or earth-shattering. I just imagined myself with a little apartment and a cool job, living by myself in a neat urban space.

Needless to say, this idea didn’t really change my direction for the next six years: I started dating Eric, graduated high school, went to college in the New York North Country, and studied abroad in Florence. It was then that I started applying to grad schools.

First semester of freshman year of undergrad I took a class called World Art and Culture. It wasn’t a formal art history class, but an anthropology-based course examining the relationship between art and culture in several different contexts.

I loved the class, and in particular I loved learning about Northwest Coast Native Art. Through research papers and a few more classes I became tangentially aware of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle. In my head it was this great repository of Northwest Coast art. When I started applying to graduate schools and saw that UW had a museum studies program, I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be cool to work at the Burke Museum?”

So I applied to the University of Washington, as well as Indiana University, University of Toronto, and NYU. And when I made my decision between Indiana and UW, I chose based on where I thought we could be happiest for two years.

We moved to Seattle. And I applied for a work study position at the Burke. And every day I wake up to amazing mountains, lots of greenery, and get to go to work at this really, really cool place.

Sometimes I recall these things and I’m totally amazed. These were just little thoughts once, barely even ideas. And somehow they blossomed into this incredible life.


One of my first views from the top of the Space Needle in 2006. From googling, I think this is Myrtle Edwards Park, the Smith Cove Waterway, and Smith Cove. And the Olympics in the distance.


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