Amy VS. The Sophomore Slump

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So I guess I’m an upperclassman now. Time flies, and all that jazz. It’s a bit…odd, looking back over my sophomore year and what I think of it. When I was putting together this post, I don’t think I truly appreciated how much of a wringer sophomore year was. Honestly, if my second year at college were an album, it would get mixed reviews. The bands just starting to get it’s sound together, but there’s a long amount of work ahead before a billboard 100 number.

And this metaphor has completely escaped me.

In retrospect, it’s been the most tumultuous year I’ve had since, well, freshman year (pause for cricket noise in place of laughter). Alright, that’s simply not true at all. Freshman year was a blur of ‘i’m at college’ fueled with desperation tinged adrenaline rushes. Sophomore year was like getting sucker punched by reality after getting off that roller coaster. I think the thing I struggled with the most was how transitory and stationary it felt – no one warns you about how much things change. All of a sudden you’re off this high and trying to figure out what’s actually happening – do you really like your friends? Or your classes? Are you sure that’s what you want to major in?

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I’ve lost contact with friends I could have sworn would one day attend my wedding. I experienced the biggest emotional downswing I’ve ever had. I felt frustrated at virtually every point – with classes, with art, with friends, with myself. I suffered a injury that meant I couldn’t exercise anymore, which had a profound impact on my happiness. More than anything else, sophomore year has been about getting over myself and what I envisioned and getting on with things. I literally like like that last grim faced survivor clambering out of the evil cabin into the watery light of a new dawn (or I’ve been watching too much Evil Dead with my dad).

On the other hand, sophomore year has kind of rocked. I’ve spent so much time focusing on the negative that when I was looking over the year, I couldn’t believe how much love and beautiful things I was able to experience. I pushed myself harder this year than any prior, but here’s a quick recap for future posterity (and when I start feeling whiny about my life). I wrote a ten minute play. I was in my first musical. I scripted, directed and acted in a web series. I was the editor for the school journal. I got my writing published in a literary magazine. I was given a grant to do special research that still gives me inspiration and opportunities today. I started a new job – and learned how to sew. I started a podcast. I was able to travel to Siem Reap. I saw my best friend more than once. I saw my other best friend nearly everyday. I saw BEYONCE. I was lucky enough to have my life filled with amazing people – many new, extraordinary friends – who continually pushed and supported me. This may sound like a paragraph full of bragging but I’m proud of the work I did. I’m proud of the way I pushed myself, and struggled to improve. But more than anything, I couldn’t have done it without the never-ending support and love of everyone in my life, and I want everyone to know how much I appreciated them.

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Anyway we’re all beautiful butterflies who are constantly in a state of metamorphosis and self growth blah blah blah whatever you get it. Thank you to anyone who was involved on my journeys, or simply for being there and reading this jet-lagged fueled spew of words. So mostly my mom and the friends she forwards these things to. Hi Mom’s friends! And also Junior year, apparently. I get to do this all again!

From the bottom of my heart – thank you, I love you, goodnight.

XX

 

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A Message from the Future.

Alternatively: Advice I’d give to 16 year old me.

  1. Red lipstick is both a shield and a weapon. Use it judiciously, and wear it proudly.
  2. Not everyone will like you.
  3. And that’s fine.
  4. Go outside and stand in the sun, plant your feet in the grass and look up.
  5. Laugh as loud as you want. There’s nothing better than happiness, and there isn’t any reason to hide that.
  6. High heels, while they may make you feel powerful, are also very bad for your knees. Use with caution.
  7. This too will pass.
  8. Going to the bank is incredibly adult, as is rewarding yourself with ice cream afterwards.
  9. Friends are the family you make. Surround yourself with love, but don’t forget to give it back.
  10. For that matter, love yourself the way you love others. You are just as worthy of your own love as they are.
  11. Learn how to cut your own hair.
  12. Additionally: figure out how stocks work.
  13. You are braver than you think, smarter than you believe and kinder than you know. Who you are now is not who you will be in two weeks. Do not be afraid.
  14. Reach out to the people in your life. This is not something you have to do alone.
  15. Buy the song you’ve been humming underneath your breath for the last two days. You’ll still be listening to it in two years.
  16. Driving isn’t as scary as you think.
  17. You are burned and battered, but still unbroken. Hold your head up, and keep walking.
  18. There will come a moment when you are driving down the highway. You crest the hill and then you see the sea. Light flashing off it, the salt wind stinging your face. The wind is in your hair and you are singing along to a song you haven’t listened to in years. The world will seem infinite, cresting the top of that hill.
  19. Don’t forget to care about the bees.

Details

I’m super excited to share with you something I’ve been working on for the last couple of months. Last semester, a friend of mine asked me to collaborate with him on the album he was in the process of creating. I was so nervous when he asked me to sing for him – it had been a while since I’d actually done any singing, and was sure I had lost my voice. Well, cut to four months later, and I am so so pleased to show you the amazing thing that he created.

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                   Album Cover for Details

Details is a band created by Evan DeLorenzo, and last Thursday was the official launch party of the album. The atmosphere of the night was incredible – Evan had asked so many amazingly talented people to help him out, and the efforts definitely payed off. 11 Music videos, a full album, live dance performances, and of course everyone who helped create the extravaganza that is Details.

 

Me with two of my amazing co-stars.

Me with two of my amazing co-stars – opening night!

I recorded for four of his songs – Cry, Dream Girl and This Side of LA parts I and II (all of which I helped write and compose) and acted for two. Seeing the process and months of work pay off in such a fantastic way certainly made me breathless. Sometimes I forget why I love acting and creating music so much – and then events like this bring me right back to the beginning.

 

Waiting for the show to begin - the place was packed.

Waiting for the show to begin – the place was packed.

 

There was such an air of exhilaration, and watching all the music videos was such a trip. I can’t believe how lucky I am to be surrounded by such talented artists. Being included among their number is certainly an honor. Below are just a few of my favorites, but each video is incredibly well done. So, without further ado – I present Details.

 

I am the Pumpkin Queen.

Hey wonderful people! Taking a quick break from all the posts about my summer vacation to talk a little about a trip that happened a lot more recently. This past week I just returned from a quick weekend jaunt from Oregon, where I was lucky enough to stay in a sorority, walk around OSU and go to my first pumpkin patch! (Or at least the first one I can remember- no matter what Mom says, things that happen when I’m so young I don’t remember them happening, it doesn’t count).

 

We couldn't figure out why this pumpkin just had this leaf attached.

We couldn’t figure out why this pumpkin just had this leaf attached.

 

I have to start this post off with a confession – I don’t really get the pumpkin thing. Why is it when it turns to October american’s go bananas for pumpkin? If it’s so popular, then why isn’t it available year round? It just seems strange to me. Whenever I tell my friends I think pumpkin is just alright, they look at me like I’ve personally hurt them. That being said, I found the whole trip out there hilarious and super fun.

The pumpkin patch was definitely nothing like I was expecting. Although in hindsight, I’m not really sure what I was expecting from an event called ‘A Pumpkin Patch’. Seems pretty explanatory, I admit.

 

This post is brought to you by my Dad's oversized 80's sweater.

This post is brought to you by my Dad’s oversized 80’s sweater. Also feat. the corn maze we couldn’t figure a way out of.

 

We pulled up onto a patch of dirt. There are moments in my life where I’m truly struck by how American some things are. That same feeling washed over me as she turned the ignition off and turned to look at me. From my view as we drove by, I’d just seen a whole bunch of hay and a small field stretching out into the distance. This was a far cry from Hong Kong – and also from LA. The first thing we saw was a massively fat turkey. I immediately started laughing – I always laugh whenever I see a turkey. All I can think about is how it could have been the national animal of America, per the wish of Ben Franklin. (To quote: I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character). It makes me giggle to imagine the turkey on any official document. It just also hammered in the fact that I was firmly in America.

 

All of my best american moments happen with this girl!

All of my best american moments happen with this girl!

 

We wandered through the pumpkin patch leisurely. It was nice, the feeling of leisure that seemed washed over the patch. It was such a family place. We were almost certainly the only college aged kids I saw wandering around. Little kids everywhere were running around giggling, with parents wandering after.

I discovered something about myself that day. I am terrible at mazes. Just flat out awful. We kept running into dead ends and giggling at how long it was taking us to get through. By the time we’d finished three mazes, it was official: if I was ever forced to run into a maze for safety, I would definitely get murdered). I think one of the funnest things about the mazes was hearing everyone else trying to figure it out. From the know-alls who follow the left turn rule, to the kids giggling about being lost, to the mom’s trying to figure it out. It was just so interesting being a part of such a group activity, while remaining separate.

After we freed ourselves from our corn and hay cages, the next stop was the main attraction – the pumpkin patch itself. Wandering around the field, K inspected pumpkins with the eye of an expert. This one was too lumpy, the other not orange enough. She seemed to know what she was doing, so I wandered happily behind.

 

My contribution to the great pumpkin hunt.

My contribution to the great pumpkin hunt.

 

In a super coincidence, we ran into a family from Hong Kong. It was so wild meeting people from my home town – especially people who haven’t been back in years. It’s always exciting to catch up on what’s changed and listen to their memories. it just goes to show what a small world it actually is. After a few missed chances (the pumpkin below was sadly left behind…) we found two small pumpkins. Well, more like one small pumpkin and an incredibly misshapen gourd that made both of us laugh so hard we had to bring it home. The guys who weighed the pumpkins looked incredibly unimpressed when we put our choices on the scale.

 

Our rejected pumpkin - strange but lovable.

Our rejected pumpkin – strange but lovable.

 

And of course, what would be an american tradition without some form of food? We bought the largest bag of caramel corn I think I’ve seen, and some hot drinks. Sitting on a hay bale, drinking apple cider and looking over a field of pumpkins definitely made me see why american’s love fall. It’s just so wonderful to have opportunities to go out and enjoy something like that. It’s something I know that I am so pleased to have experienced, and can’t wait to go to another pumpkin patch. Hopefully next year I’ll actually get to carve something.

 

XOXO.

 

Driving (Or How I Nearly Killed My Mom Four Times in 48 Hours)

Ah, driving. That thing most hallowed in a teen’s life. Symbolic of freedom, of the dream, of the yearning drive for adventure that finds us wherever we may tread.

Also the cause of my Mom’s ninety-five new stress induced ulcers.

Yes dear listeners! I am successfully inducted into this new and terrifying club of being able to drive. With full compliance to the law, I too, can emerge onto the dangerous and absolutely NUTS freeway. The law allows me to do this! I am legal to drive places! By myself!

Here are all the faces my Mother and I made on the trip down. Coincidentally, also all the faces I make whenever someone makes me drive somewhere.

Here are all the faces I make whenever someone makes me drive somewhere.

What a world.

Around a month ago, I went to go visit my Mom in Oregon. The next two days would comprise of us driving down from Oregon to California. A feat, I imagine, on par with Lewis and Clark traversing west.

The trip went relatively smoothly, except for the four times that I nearly killed the both of us. A common refrain on the trip was ‘JESUS CHRIST!,’ The sound of suppressed panic was the soundtrack that accompanied us down the freeway. (Mom, if you are reading this, I love you!).

Wine played a large part in the recovery process.

Luckily enough, we managed to get there safely, even if my mom says that I shaved ten years off of her life.

Driving is one of those things that I have always thought quintessentially America. It’s something so tied into the mythos of the country, and especially with being a teenager. My best friend is a huge car person, so I’ve had a little exposure to the world of driving. For most of my life though, driving is something that Happens to Other People. I am perfectly content either being chauffeured places, or taking public transportation. Oh, how I miss good public transportation.

Never to be taken for granted again.

Never to be taken for granted again.

Now that I’ve been fully exposed however, I can safely say that I HATE driving. I HATE IT. It is terrible and scary. I get into the car and it’s like Grand Theft Auto in my mind. Which brilliant mind came up with the idea to pack a whole bunch of humans into death-causing pods and jam them all down a single road? Who decided to just trust that nothing there would go wrong? Everytime I get out onto the road, all I can think is ‘The Government is allowing me to do this. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think that’s a great idea. They’ve also licensed you, which I’m also not sure about. That guy in front of me is swerving an awful lot, and the lady to my right is checking herself out in the mirror. Oh god, all of you guys are going to be zooming by me, and we’re all just going to do our best’.

THAT IS STUPID. IT IS A STUPID IDEA. Cars are like, a billion times more dangerous than airplanes, bees, sharks, trains and boats combined. Ok, the science might not be 100% accurate there, but I’m not wrong.

And we’ve somehow managed to think: Hey, having a car is great! Why don’t we continue to pollute the world as opposed to building safer and more efficient public transportation?

The point of this post isn’t to completely poop on driving. Driving can be fun!! There’s an indescribable feeling of freedom that comes from being able to go anywhere. It’s amazing to be able to just drive and drive – and end up in places you’ve never even heard of. I love jamming to music in the car. It’s also become the place where I try to practice my harmonies. There’s nothing like the sound of poor Idina Menzel belting out No Good Deed, and then me going incredibly out of tune trying to figure out what a third below her is. But the fact is that I am a new driver in one of the craziest places to drive.

Pictured: PURE TERROR.

TERROR IN IT’S PUREST FORM.

This post was sponsored in part by the fifty heart attacks I have whenever I get behind the wheel, and also the most stressful 20 minutes of my life, when I had to drive at night to pick my friend up at the airport. 25 minutes of a death grip on the wheel, absolute silence except for intermittent yelling at Siri to ‘Direct Me to the right place Goddamnit!, winding up adding an extra 10 minutes driving around the back of the airport in the dark, and then me pulling up, sweaty and shaken, to the curb.

Driving, am I right?

Anna and the French Kiss

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It’s funny how things work out. Almost immediately after I posted about Just One Day, i received the fabulous and amazing news that I will actually be traveling to Europe this summer!! It’s crazy to think that I’m going to be able to explore Edinburgh and Dublin. I’m literally so excited. And speaking of excited – let’s get the review started!

Blurb:

Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

Goodreads score: 4.17/5

Review:

If you’ve ever had the desire to run off to Paris and live your life, then this is the book for you, although I doubt you and Anna would get along. Anna and the French Kiss is a charming young adult novel about falling in love and exploring the city of love. Yes, the plot may be a little contrived (and there are times when the main characters deserves a good smack on the head) but its just such a fun look at falling in love as a teenager. Only in Paris.

French Kiss covers the entirety of Anna’s senior year in high school, beginning with her first day, where she is absolutely dreading moving to Paris (which. What?) through to her graduation. It also encompasses the story of her friendship with St. Clair, the handsome boy she meets and falls in love with. (Side note: I think the name Etienne is gorgeous) The interactions between the two characters are what really sold the novel for me. Perkin’s manages to imbue their conversations with sparkling wit, all while balancing that awkward line between friends and … not-friends. St. Clair and Anna’s tentative foray into romance is just such a sweet story, if rife with ups and downs and some hypocrisy on both their parts. They are just such believable teenagers, and reading French Kiss made me laugh out loud, groan, go squirmy and finally cry.

I’m not going to say this book is perfect – Anna’s definitely got some character flaws, one of which is her unbelievable stupidity about Paris. I nearly put the book down at the beginning, because I was so irritated by the fact that she seemed to know literally nothing about France. Yes, there is a sticky situation concerning infidelity that isn’t handled so gracefully and yes, sometimes the problems that Anna faces just seem so contrived. But the thing is, this book managed to hit me where a lot of other young adult romances haven’t. French Kiss is a book about being stupid and young and falling in love in one of the best cities in the world.

I think that there is a lot to say for a book that you can pick up and feel happy reading again. Stephanie Perkins has actually become one of my favorite Young Adult writers – Anna and the French Kiss is just the first part of trilogy. Each of her books manages to create a deeply flawed – but extremely human and likable – main character. The thing about reading her books is that I know an Anna, or Isla, or Lola. Maybe sometimes I am one. The point is that people aren’t perfect – but that doesn’t mean that their stories aren’t lovely to read.

XX

Just One Day

Just One Day – Gayle Forman

How gorgeous is this cover?

You never know what you are going to find in the recesses of your computer files. A couple of days ago I was sorting through everything – deleting old documents, trying to figure out if I seriously needed to hold onto that one photo of a cat in a teacup (answer – yes) – and I found this review that I did before starting college. You can find my opinion below – I haven’t actually read the book since, but my review definitely brought back memories.

BLURB:

 From the New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.

A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

REVIEW:

You know how there are some books that stay with you? This is absolutely one of them. Written by Gayle Forman (the author of the If I Stay series, which are also fantastic) Just One Day is a coming of age, a slow burn growth and exploration of youth and how events can change people’s lives. After meeting Willem on a train, Allyson makes the impulsive decision to spend the day with him in Paris. What happens next leads to an entire year of waiting and introspection.

This was definitely a hard book for me to review – even though it is one of my favourites. What exactly made me love it so much however? It follows a pretty standard plot device. However when I read it I was instantly sucked into Allyson’s world. Her confusion, her heartache, her hope. Maybe it’s because she’s so relatable – everyone can remember that feeling of helplessness before college and during. When you don’t know where you are going or why. It’s such a moving thing to watch Allyson grow into herself and accept the events of the day that changes her.

An interesting thing about this book is that I found the second part of the book much more emotional than the first. While the beginning is arguably more action packed (Day in Paris, etc) I thought that Allyson’s emotional story was far more relatable and touching. It was just so realistic – her struggle to become who she wants to be. And of course, by the end, I was on the metaphorical edge of my seat watching her track Willem down. But the great thing about this book is the open ending – we as readers follow Allyson’s story. We really don’t know Willem at all, which means that we can fill in his character and the end of their story.

While I would have loved to have had a more satisfying sequel (which is from Willem’s perspective and is so lackluster to me that it doesn’t merit a review) there is no doubt that Just One Day holds a special place in my heart. It’s a classic tale of growing up and falling in and out of love. I’m not arguing that this book is perfect however – Allyson has a tendency to look down on nearly every female character in the book, and it really irritated me in the beginning when she kept whining that the cities she was travelling around (London! Rome! Paris!) didn’t look like the movies. I was sitting there thinking: Um, OK, get over it. Apart from that however, I really truly love this book.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

Y’know, reading this review, I was reminded of how nervous I was beginning school. The parts about reading her life in college really stuck with me apparently. Now that I’m nearly done with freshman year, i can completely identity with Allyson’s feelings of isolation and depression. I think college is such a time of downs and ups that her feelings are completely valid, and I know that I have definitely felt the same way at times. It’s such a reward when Allyson decides to go after what she wants, and I think Just One Day is more than the romance it’s advertised as. It’s a very powerful story of a young girl trying to  figure out what she wants and going for it – who amongst us doesn’t want the same? I’m wondering what I’ll think the next time I pick up the book – I’ll be in the same place as she was (and how exciting is that!)

XX

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Film Poster

WOOHOO! Time for a Perks of Being a Wallflower review – because I’m apparently on this kick of watching things that are two years or older. I also have to admit that I’ve never read the book…so this is purely a film appreciation post!

 

Director: Stephen Chbosky

Actors: Logan Lerman

Emma Watson

Ezra Miller

Mae Whitman

Kate Walsh

Dylan McDermott

Joan Cusack

Paul Rudd

Genre: Drama

Run Time: 102 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 85%

 

Summary” Freshman Charlie is a perpetual wallflower until he falls under the spell of the beautiful, free-spirited Sam and her fearless stepbrother, Patrick; together, the trio navigates love, loss, fear, hope – and the quest for the perfect song – in this unforgettable adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s beloved novel.

 

Review:

I’m 99% sure that this book is mandatory reading for angsty adolescents.  Stephen Chbosky’s famous novel about an alienated high-school freshman who is befriend by a group of non-conformist older kids is a classic for anyone who has ever felt like a ‘wallflower’. Good news – if you liked the book then you’ll most likely love the movie as well. Perks is directed by Chbosky as well, and he has managed to adapt it near perfectly to the big screen. It’s always great when the writer has direct input – just look at The Fault in Our Stars. Or 50 Shades of Grey. Never mind….

Set in the 90’s, freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) begins writing a series of letters to his friend. Charlie is the quintessential loner – awkward and uncomfortable around his peers, it’s an exercise in discomfort to watch him navigate this dangerous new world. Welcomed by Sam and Patrick, Charlie is quickly absorbed into a group of seniors who embrace their differences. The crowd is artsy – and more importantly, outsiders. They teach Charlie how to embrace himself and he learns about sex, drugs, drinking and friendship. It’s pretty much every teenagers fantasy of finally finding your people, and very relatable.

It’s an important movie about embracing your differences. Nearly everyone can identify with Charlie, who is so deeply unsure of who he is and where he belongs. Struggling with the suicide of his only friend and the death of his aunt, Charlie is mired in the depression and ‘dorkiness’ of his life. It’s a heartfelt and sincere performance by everyone, with Lerman and Miller shining in particular. Watson’s American accent wobbles at times, but delivers  a solid performance with a quirky, slightly damaged Sam. Perks is a film with a heart, and it’s all about working through people’s damage with the help of friends – and music.

XX

PS. Is anyone else sick of that ‘we are infinite’ quote?