I Made History… Kind Of?

Last week I admit that I was facing a bit of a conundrum, dear readers. I was all ready to ask  for your input. It was the night before President Obama’s 2nd Inaugural and I just couldn’t decide whether or not I should go. For regular visitors, you’ll know that I am a staunch supporter of Obama. And for that alone I wanted to witness his second inauguration. But there are a few things that made the decision difficult.

1) Obama’s actual second Inauguration took place on Sunday the 20th, in a private ceremony. See, the thing is, since the date of Presidential inaugurations changed from mid-March to the 20th of January, swearing-in ceremonies typically don’t happen on Sundays. Therefore, the official ceremony happened on Sunday in the White House, and the President was simply upholding tradition by having a secondary ceremony on Monday. Did I really want to go see a ‘fake’ ceremony?

2) I’d have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn. I’m a college student, okay? I value my sleep. It is precious to me like little else. Did I really want to be up not at but before 6am on Monday to haul my ass to the National Mall.

2-a) Even if I got myself up and awake before 6am, I still didn’t have an actual ticket to the Inauguration ceremony. The best I could hope for was a prime location in front of a jumbo-tron.

So I guess my dilemma was this: Get up and see the ‘fake’ ceremony just because I could? I mean, I’ll admit that I’m lucky to be living in the nation’s capital. That’s not the question. Rather did I want to bother to get myself up and out of bed to trek the 8 blocks to watch the ceremony on a jumb0-tron or do I watch it from the comfort of my couch? To hike down to the parade route or watch from the window? Go to the Mall for the ceremony AND the parade or do I go for one or another?

I know by now you’re all dying to know so I’ll fess up: I went. I woke up at 6am, layered on an obscene amount of clothing, zipped into my boots and walked. And walked. And walked. And then, just when I was really excited to be done with all the walking, I got to stand around for a few hours. I’m sorry – did I say a few? I meant five hours. In the cold.

And yes, whatever, the ceremony was nice. Yeah, sure, I got to ‘witness history’. And, okay, I admit, I almost cried at three separate points during Obama’s speech. And only 2 people near me needed us to shout for the medic. And I had a good view and our jumbo-tron stopped malfunctioning by the time the ceremony started. But damn did my feet hurt later. Seven hours in boots was not my best idea, I’ll admit. But you know what was a worse idea? The mile walk I made in heels later that night.

Yup, that’s right. Later that night I donned a ball gown and strap myself into high heels and walked a mile to a fancy dinner before cabbing (thankfully) to my university’s Inaugural Ball. The blisters, they were ugly. My feet, they were pained. But dammit I looked pretty and I had a nice time. It was way too crowded, and drinks were way too expensive, and there were too many ballrooms (I kept getting turned around), but it was fun. And I guess now I know what I was missing when I decided not to go to prom.


Holly & Molly’s Epic Adventure

Sometimes my life gets interesting. Those moments are generally few and far between, but they make the monotony of class and work and well, routine, bearable. I’m glad I have friends that make me leave the comfort of my room, my laptop, my tv shows and my books and drag me on wild, unpredictable escapades. My most recent adventure started with a 10:30pm phone call from my friend Holly.

Holly: Hey, so what are you doing?

Me: Watching Supernatural.

H: Okay. Do you want to go to Delaware with me?

M: Like now? I mean, when would we get back? I don’t have class until 12:45 tomorrow, we could make this work.

H: I was thinking tomorrow. My brother-in-law’s mom has a casino voucher that expires tomorrow at midnight and if we go get it from their beach house we can cash it in and split the money.

M: How would we get there? How much is it worth?

H: We can borrow my sister’s car. If we leave after class tomorrow we can get to the beach house by seven. If we miss the metro we’ll just spend the night at my sister’s house and she’ll drop us off in the morning. We’d each get $130.

M: I’m pretty sure I can make this work. I can’t skip my classes, but if we leave right when I finish, we can pull it off.

So the next day I finished my classes, swung by the store, picked up some road-trip appropriate snacks (for inquiring minds: oreos, twizzlers, goldfish crackers and diet pepsi) ready for anything.

Cut to: hours on hours on hours of car travel. We passed the giant Mormon church(?). Giant spires in the sky, towering over the tree-line. I got to cross the Bay Bridge for the first time. But other than that the driving parts were fairly boring. We almost got lost trying to navigate to the Taco Bell (Maryland highway exits are weird sometimes. Also, their rumble strips are weak compared to those in Cleveland.) There were a lot of fields. And a lot of Adele. Not much Bon Iver, though, because Holly doesn’t appreciate that they’re good road trip music. I can understand that, though; I didn’t want her to fall asleep at the wheel.

But we made it to the coast of Delaware in good time even though TomTom had different ideas. Pulling into the beach house I couldn’t help but think the floors would be coated in sand, much like that two-part episode of Friends. It wasn’t. It also wasn’t on the water. But it was a gorgeous, if small, place. After fumbling around and misreading directions of where the voucher was hidden (right bedroom off of the left hallway, not right bedroom off of the right hallway. Duh), we left. Well, we tried to leave. Holly had a bit of an issue with arming the house and re-locking the doors. Luckily the alarm didn’t get activated and we didn’t have to deal with the local popo. I’m sure our story wouldn’t have gone over well.

Then we were off to Ocean City to hit the casino. It was the first time I’d ever been in a casino. The last time I was up at the Indian Reservation in New York, I was still too young to step foot inside. But Holly and I, we managed to look sketchy in a casino. Which, when you think about it, is difficult because casinos are inherently sketchy. It probably didn’t help that we went inside, had our IDs scrutinized by two rent-a-cops, cashed in the voucher and peaced. SUCCESS!

The drive back to White Flint was unremarkable. Dark skies and open roads. We forewent the WaWa’s because we were still full of off Taco Bell and Dairy Queen. We talked, we laughed, we sang. We got sleepy. Cash in hand we crashed in White Flint before Metro-ing to campus at the ungodly hour of 7am. Then it was business as usual.

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48 Hours in Dublin

About a month ago, when I was still living in the UK, I got bored with campus and decided to satisfy my wanderlust by taking a weekend trip. After planning for less than 6 hours, and traveling for another 10, I was headed to Ireland. Dublin, to be exact.

Dublin is a lovely city. It wasn’t as large as I had expected, but keeping in mind the fact that Ireland itself isn’t that large, this makes sense. In actuality, the size reminded me of DC. You could walk everywhere you wanted to go, you just wouldn’t necessarily want to. I was only there for a weekend but I got to see everything that I wanted to, so I’m happy. I would’ve been happier if my boots had better arch support and I had packed a scarf and gloves, but I got to go to Dublin so I really can’t complain too much.

Dublin’s one of those cities that doesn’t really have skyscrapers. That makes me happy. Skyscrapers kind of freak me out. I mean, I’m not afraid of them or anything, but I prefer a less obtrusive skyline I guess. Like DC. It’s a fine, stately city and it doesn’t need any of those ostentatiously tall buildings to prove it. The only really tall structure in Dublin was the Spire. It was a nice landmark, in the heart of the city on O’Connell Street, but being in the very center meant I kept getting confused as to which way was which. A lot of the main city-center looks similar.

I did all of the super touristy things you can imagine that Dublin has to offer. I went to Temple Bar and saw a live band perform while I ate a dinner of bangers and mash and had a pint. I went on a Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tour. I went to Phoenix Park and saw the world’s second tallest monolith; I went to the Dublin Zoo and fawned over the red pandas and the arctic fox and the penguins; I took a tour of the Guinness Storehouse and had a pint in the Gravity Bar; I saw Oscar Wilde’s house; I went shopping on Grafton Street; I went on a tour of the Dublin Castle. I walked, and walked, and walked. Here’s some of what I saw:

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To conclude, I present my pop culture thoughts on Dublin:

  • On the train to the ferry port in Wales, the conductor announced a stop for Croydon. Naturally I thought of Emanda’s British friend Ashley on Revenge as that’s where she’s from.
  • Our ferry was named Ulysses. I made the James Joyce connection. One of my traveling companions thought of the Odyssey. Perhaps because of the main character’s name in O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • The ferry ride was 3 hours. Naturally the Gilligan’s Island theme song was stuck in my head the entire journey.
  • No matter what country you’re in, radio stations use those annoying slogan jingles promoting themselves.

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November

I have a new favorite holiday and it is Bonfire Night. Or, for those Stateside, Guy Fawkes Day. Forget Christmas with it’s dinky little tree that sheds pine needles all over the floor. Forget Easter with it’s bunny that doesn’t make any sense. Forget Labor Day and Earth Day and even Halloween. Bonfire Night is where it’s at.

The town of Lewes in East Sussex has one of the largest Bonfire Night celebrations in all of England. Approximately 60,000 people show up each year. And this time around, I was one of them. There are multiple bonfires all over the city. The pyre I ended up crowding around was easily 30 feet tall. There are parades throughout the picturesque streets. There is fire everywhere. You’ll think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you that I’m not. I stood on a lit torch. I picked a still-lit torch up off the street. One of my companion’s hair and scarf caught on fire. This is no joke.

And it’s not just fire. Oh, no. Tons and tons of fireworks. Not just the pretty kind that light up the sky for you to “ooh” and “ahh” at either. The explosive kind that leave your ears ringing and make you think you’re about to go deaf. These were a particular favorite of the young men marching in the parades. They’d pull a firecracker from their pocket, light it on their torch, and drop that sucker. You’d think gunshots were going off. Some of the delinquents were kind enough to put their foot over the top of the thing so it would detonate as a kind of controlled explosion, if you will. Others didn’t. As a result, a lot of people’s pant legs got singed.

But my dad taught me to not shy away from a photographic opportunity. So while everyone else was cowering from the flames and the noise, I took jumped into action, getting as close to the parade as possible to take pictures. I’m not sure what, exactly, contributed to my immunity to the firecrackers (I blame it on the four years of high school in which I sat directly in front of the drumline), but I got some good pictures out of the deal while my friends were taking cover. Shell-shocked, I was not.

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Makin’ Friends on Buses

I’ve been in England for a little over a week. In that short time, I’ve been to Brighton a handful of times, traveled East to the Village of Rottingdean, traveled North to the capital, London, and explored my campus in Falmer. I’ve traveled by bus, coach, and train. The bus is, surprisingly, the best. I’ve been grocery shopping no less than three times and eaten my weight in Nutella. I’ve been to class, the only class I have (for now) and picked my topics for my essay and presentation. All that’s left is planning the next few trips on the horizon. On the list are: Stonehenge & Bath, Oxford, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, and Belgium. That’s not even counting the Pride & Prejudice tour of England I have planned. Wish me luck.

Look at Your Life, Look at Your Choices

Poor Roommate probably has to deal with my bursting into her room once every two weeks to listen to a rant about how I’ve abandoned all of my hopes and dreams for a new career path. Well, not all my hopes and dreams, but a significant portion nonetheless. Some things, like my excitement to study abroad and explore Brighton, the UK and the rest of Europe (5 months and counting!), will never change. But I’d say that I reconsider my education and career paths at least twice a month.

At its base, planning for the future is my inherent form of procrastination. And let me tell you, since the beginning of this school year I’ve turned it into an art form. I vacillate between post-graduate plans like a four-year-old trying to decide which type of candy bar to buy at the grocery store. So far I’ve switched between wanting to go to grad school for a Master’s in public policy to just going to law school. Then I made the brilliant cognitive leap that I could enroll in a dual-degree program – two birds, one stone! But, hmm, I thought. That may be a little time-consuming. (Not to mention expensive.) Besides, what would I even do with a law degree? Open a bowling alley?

Then I thought – what do I love more than anything? The immediate answer was writing. But, see, I have this crippling fear (which is probably fairly accurate) that I’m really not all that creative. Or funny. Also, if you’ve ever met me, you know that I can’t tell a story to save my life. Granted I’m better with a pen and paper than verbally, but no matter; I can’t imagine myself completely losing my joy for writing. The logical conclusion was “Oh, I should get a degree in creative writing.” But that begs the question: What the hell would I do with that? Apparently there are also degrees in Professional Writing. That at least sounds like a degree with which I could potentially, maybe, once-the-economy-turns-around, eventually swindle some sap into giving me a job. Also, there are some fantastic universities in England which offer those kinds of degrees. Yes, please?

Last week Roommate had to deal with yet another flip-flop. As much as I would love to write for a television show, I cannot fathom how I could ever possibly find a job. That doesn’t mean I won’t necessarily try, just that I have absolutely no clue where to begin. I have realized, though, that I am fairly limit-less when it comes to genres; I have a working knowledge of every stylistic show, except, perhaps reality. I think that I would make a fantastic continuity editor. Seriously, I already watch tv like it’s my job. You know what else I love? Taking notes. Why not combine the two and actually make a job out of it?

At times I question whether I would find a career in television fulfilling. Could I do something like that every day for the rest of my life and feel like I’ve made a significant impact on society? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, what are my chances of accomplishing that in any given profession? Slim to none. No matter what, I hope I’ll look back more fondly on my career decisions than some of these guys.

Here’s a song from one of my favorite shows – Veronica Mars.

New Year’s Resolutions: more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

res-o-lu-tion (noun) 1. A firm decision to do or not to do something

I’ve never really been into the whole “New Years Resolution” construct. Sometimes I try and convince myself that a resolution wouldn’t be so bad, but, more often than not, I forget to set one or don’t manage to think of one in time. Last year I convinced myself that I could just set one for the Chinese New Year. (Anything to make me more like Mulan is fine by me.)

So, instead of falling into the chasm of failed resolutions of yore, I’ve decided to set goals. Guidelines, if you will. Every year dawns with promise. Anything can happen. Of course we tend to bank on the positive rather than the negative, but who wouldn’t? Each New Year’s I think, “Molly, this is it. This is the year for me.” And it’s rarely true. I have good years and bad years, but those are rarely measured in the 365 day span from January 1st through December 31st. More often than not it’s gauged from August 28 to May 10th, or whatever the length of my school year may be.

Confession: New Year’s always makes me a little depressed. It’s not the change so much as the divergence from comfortability. The past is my playground. Good memories made even more fantastic by rose-colored glasses. And, as I grow up, each year gets a little more realistic, a little harder to use my imagination, a little more difficult to keep in contact with everyone that I’ve grown up with.

This year is kind of big for me. It marks the beginning of my 3rd decade of my life. I turn 20 this year, y’all! That being said, my goals for this year are fairly simple:

  • have fun! If everything works out, I’ll be able to spend 4 months abroad, finally getting to travel Europe. Although I still have five months of sophomore year left, which I’m really looking forward to (honestly), I cannot wait to spend fall semester in Brighton. This, of course, also includes making 2011 as much of a Levi’s ad as I can.
  • find more me time. I spend a lot of time by myself, but that’s usually just reading or watching tv. I want to rediscover the wonder of spending hours at a time outside like I did as a kid. This shouldn’t be too hard with the nation’s capitol, the shores of Lake Erie, and the South of England as my personal playground. Spending time out of the house (or dorm) will be good for me. I can go to museums, monuments, walk the beach, listen to the hundreds of podcasts and new albums that keep piling up, unlistened to on my iPod, and just keep working on figuring out who I am.
  • finish a writing project (or two or seven). I keep discovering new things to write about that intrigue me, but I haven’t really finished one yet. Knowing that I have the potential to finish these stories, that so far the characters are floundering around, not completely whole actually makes me a little sad. The only thing that pains me more when I’m writing is the moment I discover that I have to kill one of my creations. (I’m still sorry about that, Sven.)
  • rediscover my love for photography. I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember, but I can’t seem to make the time when I’m at school. And then I get depressed that so many people I know have gotten so much better at photography than I once was. I need to buck up and rise to the personal challenge!

That’s all. Really. Well, for now at least. Music-times!