Ireland pt. 2 – Still Rainy and Beautiful, Now with more cows.

Now that schools started up again (and I’ve been hit smack in the face with deadlines and grad school and thesis) I’m taking a journey down memory lane…

Here are some of my favorite photos from our last journey to Ireland.

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This was my third time back there and I have to say, I fall in love with it more every time. Here’s hoping I get to go back soon, but for now these photos will just have to do…

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XOXO

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College is a Lot Like Laser Tag…

…And other graduation speeches I won’t write.

Last night a group of friends decided to race to the nearest Laser Tag arena after work. Unfortunately, most of us had work, so we managed to only get there an hour before closing. I’m sure the workers were more than delighted to see nine very loud and foul-mouthed college students come pouring in the door just to catch the last session.

I’d thrown out the suggestion that we go play sometime at the beginning of the summer, and found myself incredibly nervous to actually play. I’d only gone once (a birthday party where I believe I was the only girl) and the combination of not-knowing, imminent possible physical activity and tiny children was a sure-fire way to get my anxiety going. 

Needless to say, we got our collective asses handed to us by a group of kids and their parents, who seemed to take even more delight in just following us around constantly tagging our vests while their kids ran into home base. You know the arrogance of a child that knows they’re truly good at something? Like they aren’t being pandered to by adults or let win? There were approximately 800 of them there and they were all running and yelling in the dark while fog machines went off and ALSO there were lasers.

It was when I was leaning against a wall, four tiny kids constantly shooting at me with their later guns, laughing hysterically as I heard my friends yelling things like ‘HAVE WE STARTED?” and “I DON’T KNOW HOW THE LAZER WORKS” that I realized something. Lazer Tag is a lot like college.

At the beginning, you’re funneled into a dark room with a assorted group of people you don’t know, told to get somewhere, given vague rules and sent on the way. You enter into a confusing maze of walls, and don’t get a starting bell. On our team was a mom who had to tell us that the game had started, right as three of us got tagged immediately. There’s also the imminent fear that you’re doing nothing right (we weren’t) and there’s no real point to it (there wasn’t) but it was extremely important to us suddenly to win (we lost both games). To add to the metaphor, people younger than us seemed way more qualified to be playing and knew way more about the game than we did (in my convoluted metaphors, these are high-schoolers). The parents are bored alumni who sometimes helped us out but mostly seemed to have fun watching us mess up. There was also a employee who would intermittenly  wander through and offer advice to me that mostly constituted of ‘gotta say out of the lasers’ and ‘listen to the team leader’. The team leader, in our case, was a small child nick-named Panda who enjoyed screaming incomprehensible  numbers at me regardless of whether I was firing, moving, or standing still. I’m not sure where he figures into the narrative of college, but I’m sure he’s there. 

On the other hand, it was incredibly fun. Sure we lost, but it was incredibly worth it – and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Those kids were ruthless, and earned their victory. It’s always fun to do new things, especially because I don’t know the next time I’m going to just be able to run into a laser tag arena. When we left, all of us were doubled over in stitches remembering highlights from the adventure.

It was great getting out of the comfort zone and doing something a little silly, a little embarrassing, and yes, childish. But that’s what being an adult is about! I can choose when and where to play laser tag, whenever I want to. Oh, and also I can drink. So I do win in the end.

XX

A Quest’s End.

Hold onto your seats, because it’s about to be a nerd-fest up in here.

This past Sunday I said goodbye to a world that I’d been creating for nearly four months. After a brutal 6 hours of playing, my dungeons and dragons team solved the mystery, saved the world, and got the girl. Or grumpy, four-armed mechanical dwarf, as it were.

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My amazing friend created these moodboards for various characters of the campaign.

It’s always a little embarrassing for me to tell people that I play DnD. Probably left-over survival instincts from high school, where anything that I deemed as nerdy (which were most things I enjoyed) needed to be hidden as much as possible. I’ve gotten better about embracing things I used to cringe about talking openly, but it’s still a hard time for me to admit that I really enjoy reading fan-theories, or fiction, or that I like to pretend for three hours on Friday nights that I’m an elvish fighter who is on a quest to avenge her dead husband.

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My first character – Bonameah Larkspur. 

For the summer, I asked if I could lead the DnD group. Most of the original members would be around my apartment, and it seemed easy to make up a short campaign that would fit into two or three months. It didn’t have the same amount of stress that a longer semester campaign would, and I was eager to see what it would be like to lead and craft the story, as opposed to simply participating in it. By that point, I’d only been playing for around two months, but I’d gotten the bug. As I try to explain to my friends who don’t play (and who listen to me natter on with an air of gracious bemusement), that you have to actually play to understand why people like DnD so much. It’s everything I love – story-telling, acting, hanging out with friends. It’s not a surprise by the second session I was sucking it up and admitting to the DM ( a close friend of mine who was kind enough to run the first part) that yes, I got it. DnD was super – freaking – fun. Only I didn’t use freaking.

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Prince Boo – a particular favorite NPC of mine…

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…And Daphne of Barns.

Planning a campaign was infinitely different from only playing. I had to create a satisfying story, enough mystery to keep them engaged and thinking, and also run and remember a whole host of different characters – each with their own voices. I admit, I did eventually get tired and nearly every other NPC was just vaguely serene-toned. It was super fun getting to create the world – and incredibly nerve-wracking every time I DM’ed, hoping that the party was having a good time and trying to split my attention evenly between players. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was incredibly nervous for the final chapter. I wanted everyone who’d been kind enough to play with me (and suffer through my bumbling on stats) to leave feeling like they’d heard a good story and it was worth their time. In that way, DnD’s a lot like writing. The only thing you can do is hope people like it.

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Philomena Burke – the party’s resident Sharpshooter.

As we wrapped up, I was hit by a sense of melancholy. It would be the last time that we played in that particular sandbox – although plans are already being made for the next story and characters. Still, saying goodbye to my NPC’s was surprisingly hard. As their creator, it sucks that I won’t get to talk or interact as them anymore. In a weird way, it was like saying goodbye to friends who have been with the group for nearly two months.

Or maybe I’m just being a giant nerd about it. It’s odd how DnD can draw you in. But then again, humans have always loved telling stories.

Also – I owe a huge thank you to my friend Allegra, who helped guide me through the process and also created the amazing sets of photos in this post. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to DM. I’d be surprised if I did it again, but it was a treat to create an interactive story and try to keep things interesting. Luckily, I have a wonderful party and their support and kindness were integral as we journey into the world I’d built together. I think over the process I’ve grown as a collaborator and a storyteller. It’s definitely opened up news ways and opportunities than I had before playing DnD, and honestly y’all? DnD is the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done, and I love it to pieces. I’m so excited to start playing again and seeing where the next story takes me.

XX.

 

SUMMER SO FAR

Lipstick pressed onto the rim of a glass,

the crackle of the record player, the first sip of lemonade,

two cups of tea in the morning, allowing myself time to exhale,

crying on the interstate,  folding papers, sifting through old letters of a woman i will

never know,

the last line from books you aren’t sure you enjoyed,

a kettle without water, the first lines of a movie,

salt water, blueberry, sand slipping beneath your feet,

sunlight as you tip your face towards the sky.

 

Sign of the Times

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These are the carrots I grew! They came out super messed up and weird looking and I couldn’t be more proud of them. What a metaphor for the year.

It’s cheesy to start a blog post about Junior year by talking about a song, but sometimes you need a little cheese. French cheese if you can swing it, but since my accent is terrible I’ll just give you some craft slices…

Two days ago I packed up my room, said goodbye to my friends and hit the gas pedal, driving as far away from Junior year as I could get (only a 40 minute drive, but the poetry sounds good). Then I slept for fourteen hours. Then I did nothing but watch SNL videos on youtube. Now I’m looking over the last year and contemplating, as I always wind up doing, successes and failures and all that junk. I’d like to think I’m a Chill Individual, but at my hearts of hearts, there’s a very anxious perfectionist shrouded under layers of procrastination. So. That’s fun.

Harry Style’s released a song a bit ago called Sign of the Times. It’s a throw back tune with a lot of elements of 70’s rock in it. Now, maybe I don’t understand the lyrics that well, but to me, it’s a sad, bittersweet song about letting go of something. There’s a lot of very angsty lines but ultimately, it may have become the soundtrack to my last few days of junior year. The night before finals ended I put it on repeat and just walked around.

There’s a lot I’m proud of this year. I directed my first show. I got cast as a lead in a musical. I finished a five class workload. I learned how to grow bell peppers. I’ve made amazing friends and had some pretty fun nights (possibly to the detriment of that five-class work load).

Mostly though, I’ve gotten a little better at loving myself. It’s hard to let go of the mistakes I make, and while I was wandering around campus listening to ‘just stop your crying have the time of your life, breaking through the atmosphere, things are pretty good down here’ I realized, once again, how unbelievably lucky I am. I did a lot this year that was good and bad and everywhere in the middle. Looking back though, it’s just one more chapter of my ongoing life. I’m going to look back on this year and not remember the stress or panic I felt near constantly, but snapshots of the good times. Laughing with my friends, dancing like an idiot to Earth, Wind and Fire, playing DnD for the first time. It’s been a whirlwind of a year.

I’m working on living life in the moment instead of constantly worrying about what’s coming next. I’m trying to forgive myself a little more. It’s been a rough journey so far, but junior year was so valuable to me for giving me some of the best friends and memories a girl can ask for.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blog. I appreciate everyone of you. Do yourself a favor and give Harry Styles’s new album a chance. I’m going to put it on blast and enjoy being young – after all, it only comes around once.

(Or at least until we invent transferring human consciousness, but that’s a completely different blog post entirely)

Have an excellent summer – see you soon.

XOXO

 

we can’t all be elizabeth…

Last year I took a class where we analyzed romance novels on film, and my professor said ‘We all want to be Elizabeth, don’t we?’. We were in the middle of watching the 2005 version, with Keira Knightley’s beautiful hair pearls and the ridiculous white shirt and every girl in the class agreed: ‘yes, we want to be Elizabeth’.

When I was twelve or thirteen, I was given a dvd of Northanger Abbey. I don’t remember who gave me it, although I suspect it was my theater teacher in an effort to help me with my english accent. All I know is that I put off watching it until I fell ill with some cold or another, and decided on a whim to watch the weird stuffy film. And then I fell in love with it. I watched it over and over. It was the BBC’s production, starring Felicity Jones (pre-star wars) and JJ Field, who kicked off a long list of middle-aged British actors I find incredibly attractive. It was probably Field’s turn as Henry Tilney that set me up for my impossible goals in a man (he knows muslin? swoon).

So when I said that I wanted to be Elizabeth, I wasn’t lying. Who wouldn’t want to be smart, kick-ass Lizzie who wins the man? I’m not a Lizzie though, I’m a Catherine.

Around two years later I ran across the actual book version, read it and discarded it. Sure, it was great because it was Austen, but it didn’t live up to my beloved film. Apparently, Austen wrote it as a direct criticism of the gothic novels that were known for  being ridiculous. ‘Not every castle has a dark secret’ is the lesson Catherine learns over the course of the book. There’s other junk too, about putting aside childish things and marrying Henry and having a million babies.

In a lot of ways, I think we are drawn to the characters we see ourselves in, for better of worse. While I’m no Felicity Jones, I am a Catherine. Silly, prone to overblown dramatics, romantic to a fault, often unable to read social situations, and constantly, constantly day-dreaming. There’s a scene where Catherine imagines her friend (played by Carey Mulligan, because there are only eighteen actors in England) being kidnapped by a rake and she stumbles upon them. It’s a ridiculous fantasy based on nothing but a quick aside from her aunt. That’s me. It’s embarrassing, but there you go. There’s always some weird narrative happening in my head.

It’s been ten years since this movie came out. I still love this movie, it’s soft and quiet and a small, simple love story. But I always disliked that Catherine had to put away her books at the end of it. I haven’t had my realistic moment yet – although I’ve had plenty of moments that could have been my social-embarressment-nearly-accuse-Henry’s-dad-of-killing-his-wife moments. I’m still Catherine at the beginning of the movie, lying in a field holding a book to herself and imagining all the ways her life is going to unfold. Except it’s a kindle and a dorm room and trying to believe that internships aren’t the end-all-be-all of getting a job. I daydream and read young adult novels still and spend an embarrassing amount of time pretending I’m an powerful superhero whose husband has been kidnapped (it’s the only way I can motivate myself to run).

Sure, I wish I could say I was an Elizabeth. Or a Jane, or a Elinor. Sure, I’m a little brave and a little kind and a lot sensible, but I know who I am at heart. After all – I still can’t help but wonder if there’s a ghost when I go down to the laundry room. And if I ever spent a night in a castle? You bet there’d be a dark secret or two. It’s what I do.

‘Chella, The Most L.A Thing I’ve Ever Done.

 

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It seems to be the cardinal rule: If thou goes to Coachella, thou must post about it. Well, I definitely went, so here’s my post. Mark this weekend down as the most L.A thing I’ve done since…oh, I don’t know. Maybe the last time I had a small internal temper tantrum over not having an avocado?

Around four months ago I received a message in all caps from my best friend – DO YOU WANT TO GO TO COACHELLA, BEYONCE WILL BE THERE. And obviously I responded yes, but I never actually thought it would happen. Coachella always seemed like the epitome of everything I dislike – extended amounts of time in the sun, dust, large amounts of strangers, and loud noises.

“Then why are you going?” Was pretty much every response when I told friends my apprehensions. For a complicated variety of reasons. I’d just turned twenty one, I was feeling stressed about not living My Youth, fears over looking back at college and regretting something, anything. Also; Beyonce was going to be there.

 

We arrived back yesterday at two in the morning, extremely dirty, ears ringing, exhausted and buzzing. Coachella was definitely an experience – I understand why people either love it or hate it. With the exception of camping (waking up in the 100 degree sun trapped in a plastic sweat lodge was not my idea of fun), I loved it. The energy, the music, the weird fashion choices. And boy, there were a lot of weird fashion choices – we saw a lot of buckle-on fringe skirts, one dude dressed like a unicorn sans pants and glitter everywhere. The people watching alone was worth it.

That being said, it was truly special, in a ridiculous way. Getting to listen to so much music, and being around people who you love. Even dancing at two-thirty in the blazing hot sun doesn’t seem bad when you’re laughing at your friends dumb jokes. Maybe that’s not what I was supposed to take away from Coachella (probably something about art, or how dumb people are during music festivals), but I’m always going to remember dancing like an idiot to Lorde, which is all I can ask at the end of the day.

Sorry for rambling on like this – honestly, my memories and thoughts were so scattered during this last weekend that it’s hard to form a cohesive whole. If you have the chance though, I’d definitely recommend. Or maybe just take a boombox into your backyard and bake in the sun for three hours on shrooms. It’s pretty much the same effect.

XX

10 Lies I’ve Told Myself This Week

  1. Jetlag is an illusion.
  2. Time is an illusion, at that. Time does not exist, and you have no immediate deadlines to worry about.
  3. You are not tired, you are perfectly fine. Drink more coffee, ignore the pounding of your heart.
  4. It is perfectly acceptable to take two naps in one day.
  5. You are chill about all things. It was not weird for you to yell about National Treasure Three in the middle of the cafeteria.
  6. That essay is going well.
  7. Writing a blog post is definitely a productive use of your time.
  8. In a pinch, black sweatpants can be classy.
  9. Chocolate is an acceptable substitute for dinner.
  10. Seriously though, National Treasure Three would be such a good movie.

Nah Trang, Vietnam

The working title for this post was The Sea is Beautiful, and other new thoughts. Fair warning: I basically just word vomited onto this page and attached images of the sea.

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Pretty much everywhere painting done since we figure out how to do that cool light trick. 

It’s spring break time! Which means instead of donning my bikini and heading to the beaches of Mexico, I donned my sensible one piece (with coverup and swim shorts) and headed to the beaches of Vietnam.

For my dad’s 60th birthday, he wanted the whole family back together and exploring someplace new. Having lived in Hong Kong for a while now (and taking advantage of it’s nearness to other countries), it’s always exiting to visit someplace i’ve never seen before – especially somewhere as beautiful as Nha Trang. Forgive the cliche sunset and ocean photos, but it’s literally the only thing I wanted to take pictures of, it was so beautiful.

It is funny writing this, because I am overwhelmingly aware of the Grand Historical Tradition (Tm) of writing about the sea. It seems impossible that I should add anything new or overwhelmingly salient, but, like any other aspiring writer, here I am to throw my two cents into the overcrowded hat ring.

I may have my metaphors mixed up, but I’m sure you understand.

(What is a hat ring, anyway?)

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I watched this dude straight up murder a spider, to constantly remind you that nature will always be waiting.

There are always two things I think about whenever I am lucky enough to be near the ocean. the first is the Grand Literary Tradition, and how much I feel like a heroine whenever it is overcast and I struggle bravely across the sand. The second is how surprising I always find the ocean. Even just looking away for ten second, it always manages to take your breath away. I think you could live every day for the rest of your life by the sea, and constantly be shocked by how beautiful it was.

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View of the National Park ain’t bad either

Most of my thoughts over the break were spent freaking out over internships, enjoying a variety of fruity cocktails and pondering the immense weight of time and history, so here’s a brief aside about the weirdest spa experience I have every had. Due to my sunburn and dry skin (only one arm! and everywhere, respectively), I asked for a hydration treatment, where I assumed they’d just give me some lotion and a head massage and send me on my way.

Ohoho, boy was I wrong. Two hours later I emerged into the sunlight, thoroughly moistured. Thoroughly. I lay there for 90 minutes while a very strong and tiny vietnamese lady poured pure coconut oil into my hair (a traditional treatment, I have regrets on that front, my hair was Snape-like for days) while I lay there covered in mud. At one point she spent ten minutes jiggling the fat on my cheeks. Maybe for fun? By that point I was so confused by everything else that had happened it seemed totally normal. It was the strangest thing I’ve every experienced but so help me I emerged a beautiful greasy baby with fresh new skin.

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I’ve heard if you drink eight of these, you’ll see God behind the Walmart parking lot.

In conclusion, this post is dedicated to one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever drank, which is vietnamese coffee. You watch it drip into a glass and then pour condensed milk into it and it’s like a gut punch of caffeine. Anyways, I’m in love and if I ever figure out how to recreate it in America that’ll be the end of my everything, I’m fairly confident.

Happy Birthday Dad! XOXO

So This Is Where…

It always seems like I start these posts with an apology. It’s not like I forget about the blog, it’s just difficult to stay on top of it with college and life and everything.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. After everything that’s happened it seems hard to consider a future at all. And yet I’m in my Junior year, and internship season is coming up. It’s hard to think past the overwhelming pressure of ‘figure your life out! NOW’.

There’s so many people screaming on the internet right now. About politics, about current events, about pain and suffering and anger. I certainly know. It’s hard to go on Facebook. It’s hard to pull up the news. I can’t have a conversation with anyone without mutual feelings of helplessness and pain and fear coming up.

“What now?” Seems to be the question of the day. How do we proceed. How do proceed, to be microscopic. “What’s the point?” is another thing I keep asking myself. Maybe there isn’t one. But I enjoy creating. I enjoy writing. It helps. I always feel a little better after I post something here. I can’t guarantee that my posts will be all that positive or cheerful. Or even that coherent.

Sometimes there isn’t a reason people write things. Sometimes it’s just enough to do it for yourself. I look forward to posting here again.

Be kind to yourself.

XOXO