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

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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.

 

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.

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.

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

Joan and Johnny in the Garden of Heaven

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Last night the fan went round and round. The night had cooled the days desert heat, sticky and relentless against the concrete. Outside the fountain burbled, the girl next door having a conversation with her boyfriend bleeding through the walls. I tell myself a story

A rusted sword propped outside an old western house, next to an old Martin D-35. Joan of Arc and Johnny Cash, sitting in the garden of heaven talking quietly. They call each other Jean.

His hands do not hurt when he plays the guitar. Joan learns to play the opening bars to Daddy Sang Bass. She sings the chorus again and again. He talks about Folsom and the real prison, and she does not speak of Rouen. She does not need to. There are flowers in her hair. The circle goes

Unbroken. God’s word is close now, and it does not burn. They harmonize with Jack right next door. Joan speaks not of war, but the sunshine of Domrémy. Johnny teaches the rolling rhythm of walking the line. Every Monday June Carter comes over. There is always a freshly baked apple pie. Joan’s banner waves gently in the summer breeze.

Last night the fan went round and round, the fountain burbled, and a girl yelled at her boyfriend through the paper thing walls. I like the idea of a country boy from Arkansas singing to a country girl from France in a deep bass baritone.  I dream of

Two Jeans, sitting together in the garden of heaven in the shade of a fig tree.

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

 

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.

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.