What’s Up, Wednesday? //6\\

Happy New Year and welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

I finally finished my great re-read of 2014. Well, most of it. I’m still halfway through the Harry Potter series and in the middle of Summerland, but those will keep. New year, new books! Yesterday I finished  Making Headlines by my good friend Erin Brown. It was just as delightfully scandalous as I expected with a bonus helping of Veronica Mars-esque sleuthing and tons of chemistry. It’s a companion novel to her first book, Taking Flight (which I also highly recommend). It was a fun page-turner and it flew by.

Now I’m reading Eternal Night by Carina Adly Mackenzie. I’ve followed Carina on twitter forever and I’ve really been looking forward to having a chance to read it. I love the premise – a bunch of eternally young gods have lost their powers as people stopped believing in them and the apocalypse seems to be imminent – but there’s something about it that’s just not clicking with me. I think it’s the perspective shifts each chapter. There are a lot of characters and I’m having trouble getting as familiar with them as the writing leads me to believe I should be. But I’m only 13% in, so I’m excited to see how it comes together.

What I’m Writing

Still working on That Golf Story. I’m about two-thirds of the way done, which is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I’m so glad I thoroughly outlined it before I started so I know what’s coming up and what I have to look forward to. It makes the prospect of sitting down and writing less daunting. Now I just have to worry about making sure there’s a cohesive, compelling plot buried under all the fun I’m having.

Short-term goal: Finish the second section / Chapter 12 by this time next week.

What Works for Me

For Christmas my roommate got me a few bottles of wine and a giant wine glass. Sometimes there’s no better writing companion than booze. I can disassociate just enough that I can write, and write a lot, without second-guessing what I’m putting on the page. Sure, some of it may get scrapped later, but it’s kind of freeing to see what kind of ideas I’ll have next.

I’m also excited because the gifts will pair perfectly with Write Drunk, Edit Eventually, Kate and my pet project, when our schedules align.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Oh boy. I’ve taught myself how to crochet, though not very well. I took a bunch of days off and went home for Christmas. I visited my extended family. I bought myself a bunch of books at Half Price. I’m almost done with my grad school applications (I better be, the first is due next week). I went to the driving range.

And I watched so, so much TV. Most recently I caught up on the US version of Shameless. I’m addicted. Next up: Looking.

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What’s Up, Wednesday? //5\\

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, which is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

This weekend I resisted the urge to read fanfiction and knocked out the first 500 pages of Goblet of Fire and started my re-read of Unspoken in preparation for Unmade. This weekend I will be re-reading Raven Boys & Dream Thieves so I can finally sink my teeth into Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

SPEAKING OF, I saw BLLB at an indie in Louisville on Saturday and panicked. So hard. Like, waves of anxiety crashed down upon my mortal frame, and I was a’feared that I would drown. It wasn’t to be released for 3 days. (Happy Book Birthday, BLLB!) I already had an autographed, doodled-in copy on pre-order. Whatever was I to do? One friend suggested buying it and auctioning it, but I decided that was immoral. So instead – maybe proving once and for all that I am not a Gryffindor because I cannot talk to people about how they accidentally put a book on a shelf that shouldn’t have been shelved yet – I chose to simply be happy for whomever is lucky enough to stumble across it.

What I’m Writing

I have now worked on That Golf Story in 4 states, The District, and somewhere in the sky, possibly over Pennsylvania. I have successfully waved goodbye to the 1/3rd mark on this draft!

Even though I’ve been teasing Kate with it for weeks now, I have yet to make the protagonists make out. I have been diligently working towards setting that up, raising the general sexual tension, and introducing conflicts, so there’s that. The prospect of writing such a fun scene is really keeping me motivated, so there’s that.

What Works for Me

I’m constantly trying to find good sources of motivation. Sometimes that’s to stop writing right before a really fun scene so I have something to entice me to sit down and write again soon. Sometimes it’s making a tumblr and fan-casting my characters. At the moment, it is the prospect of Publication Tattoos.

Back in (oh god) December of 2012, I promised myself that if I got my WIP-at-the-time published, I would get a tattoo commemorating it. I didn’t finish the draft until July of this year, but I have a sketch of the tattoo both floating around my head and on a scrap of paper in my apartment. Of all the tattoos I want, it’s the most thought-out. I know what it will be, and where it will be, and I am so, so excited for it. But I won’t get it until that story is published.

So now I’m working on a different WIP, and I’m dreaming up a new tattoo idea. I’m tempting myself. One day this book will be born and it will exist, not just in my mind, but in the world and on my skin. That’s pretty motivational.

Now I just have to think of a good way to make a golf story into a tattoo.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Oh my goodness, I’m surprised I wrote at all last weekend because I was too busy having the perfect day. My friend/roommate Amanda and I went to visit our friend/old roommate Anne who now lives in Louisville. From my inaugural trip to Waffle House, to seeing Blue Lily, Lily Blue in the wild, to knowing that Alabama shut-out Texas A&M to eating Blue Bell with my friends, to having the most amazing coffee ever, and seeing the Avett Brothers live, nothing could compare to being reunited with Anne.

I honestly can’t remember having a better weekend or being happier than the 60 hours I spent in Louisville, and I’m so, so glad I made that trip (and Anne) a priority.

Birthday Anxiety

I actually made realistic New Year’s Resolutions this year, and one of them was to blog at least once every month. Technically, I have. I’ve posted many, many times this month to Off Color TV, but not here. And when I made the resolution, it was with this blog in mind, so here we go.

I recently had a birthday. It wasn’t a seminal birthday, I didn’t hit a milestone, it didn’t feel like a big deal. The biggest change, really, is that there will no longer be a Taylor Swift anthem with which to associate.

But the whole week or two leading up to my birthday made me incredibly anxious, anyway. I had to really sit down and think about why, but I think, eventually, I came up with the reason. I’m terrible at making decisions. Rather, I’m terrible at making a decision if it could affect another person in any way, shape, or form. Like, never ask me where we should go to dinner.

I’ve never really been a person who celebrated their birthday. I think I’ve had two actual birthday parties in my life? Maybe three. And I think there are a few reasons why. One is that I’m a pretty low-key person. I can talk and talk, but I don’t really love being the center of attention. When my friend texted me to ask what my plans were for my birthday I said that I wasn’t sure because I don’t know how to celebrate myself. It took an hour for the truth of that statement to sink in. I really don’t. I don’t know how to really splurge on myself. I don’t want for that much and anything too big seems excessive. I don’t know how to ask for a birthday party because I don’t want to put other people out. I don’t want to be an inconvenience.

Which is… a thing I have. I don’t know. I’m insecure and have low self-worth sometimes. It happens. And it’s dumb because I have so many friends that would be willing to celebrate with me that that’s almost an inconvenience in and of itself. What a hard life, right? God, I hate even complaining because I’m so lucky to have all of these friends but there’s too many friend groups and no good way for them all to mix and I’m coming back from a brutal bout of illness that I’m 90% is mono and I’m just tired.

I don’t want to make a decision.

In the end, I didn’t really. That same friend that texted me about my plans took the reins. She asked me what I wanted (margaritas, maybe Mexican food), and picked a restaurant, gathered the troops and led the charge. It was just what I needed.

In the end, I had a pretty great birthday. I got to see a ton of my friends, including a few who happened to be in town for the long weekend. I got to go to some delicious meals, laugh a lot, watch Studio 60, and my friends gave me some thoughtful gifts (I now own ALL of the fox stuff, you guys. It’s wonderful). And then work was cancelled due to snow, extending the already-long weekend.

Just because my birthday and the weekend went well didn’t erase my anxiety surrounding my birthday, or planning parties in general. In those situations, I’d rather be someone’s second in command, helping them make decisions and execute plans, than having to hold the mantle alone. But a lot of my anxiety was assuaged simply because I had people to share my birthday with. It was realizing that a lot of the anxiety I was feeling came down to me not wanting to be alone, not wanting to think that people wouldn’t want to spend time with me. And I am so, so grateful that they all took time out from their lives for me. That’s what really made the day special.

Pretty Perfect Weekend

If you know anything about me, you will recognize that this weekend was maybe the most quintessential Molly weekend I could have had. Despite my plans for a Harry Potter movie marathon in a blanket fort with pizza aplenty falling through, I still had a pretty excellent weekend. Here’s what went down:

Friday: Y’all know my feelings about my job, so I was pretty excited to get home on Friday and just veg, especially after the mini freak-out on the Metro platform about leaving my Kindle at the office. So when I got home Amanda and I caught up on The Mindy Project before Megan came over and we watched Perks of Being a Wallflower. Full disclosure – I never finished the book. I had been reading it over a break from school, but I had to go back and the library loan was up, and I just never got around to finishing. And you know what? I’m not that broken-hearted over it because while I found the main character in the book to be almost unbearably naive, I thought the movie was really well done. The acting was fantastic, especially Ezra Miller, but Logan Lerman, as well. Not finishing the book meant that I was genuinely surprised about the plot-twist and ending of the movie, which I hadn’t predicted at all. I enjoyed it. After the movie I retreated to my room and hammered out a few more pages on my most recent WIP. Oh, and of note I recently passed the 50,000 word mark for the first time in any WIP. I’m pretty excited about it.

Saturday: I’ve lived in my new place for four months, so I figured it was about time to visit the library. It’s only a ten minute walk, door to door! The path includes cutting through a park! It was all very exciting. The local branch of the library looks kind of sad, both inside and out. Just, severely outdated, a weird floorplan, and a lot of different shades of beige. I did really enjoy the Nerdfighter poster in the YA section (but not so much the admin sign that read “this area is reserved for teens (and their guardians)”. Were they trying to intimate that I’m too old to be reading YA? Because you’re never too old to be reading YA). I ended up getting a lot of titles I hadn’t been able to download from the library’s e-catalog for my Kindle. I ended up walking home with 5 books (4 YA and one adult, just in case the circulation assistant made a fuss). When I got back to the apartment Amanda and Megan had already started the re-re-re-watch of Star Trek: Into Darkness. When that ended, I made a batch of cookies and settled in to watch the Bama / Texas A&M game (Roll Tide!). After that I ended up going on an impromptu, and pretty short, midnight monument tour. By pretty short I mean we basically went to the Lincoln and lounged in the back, where we spent an hour laying down, trying to figure out which of the 5 visible lights in the sky were stars, and which were airplanes. Round-trip was less than two hours.

Sunday: A lazy day. I slept in, made a giant egg sandwich for lunch, continued my Greek marathon before switching over to re-watch season one of The Vampire Diaries. I’ve seen most of Greek already, and all of TVD, so I kept busy by starting a new book (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater). Reading was interrupted when a friend that happens to live in my apartment building called me from her sister’s phone and asked me to drive her into the city so that she could pick up her phone which she had left at a bar. Upon my return, I climbed back into my hammock and watched the Season 2 finale of The Newsroom, which resulted in a lot of Tina Belcher noises (see below). Then read until I fell asleep.

That was my weekend: baking, books, football, movies, television marathons, and weird road-trip-y favors for friends. It was a nice, low-key weekend before the craziness of this weekend which will feature out of town guests and FreeFest.

Now enjoy a song that was stuck in my head all weekend:

On Visiting Home

A few weeks ago I went home for the first time as an adult – you know, a real person who has graduated from college, signed a lease on an apartment, and holds down a full-time job to which one must commute.  It was the first time I traveled back to the Cleveland area that wasn’t just a school break or for a short visit while I spent the summer in DC. It was the first time I took an honest to God vacation from a job. And it was different. Here’s how:

When your dad pulls into the driveway of the house that you’ve spent the last 12 years of your life calling home – the house you went through puberty in, the house in which you introduced your parents to your first boyfriend, the bedroom that, for the first time, you got to decorate as completely your own, with your closet full of Beanie Babies and Molly, your American Girl Doll, and your high school cap and gown – you realize that you don’t necessarily think of it that way anymore, as home. The people you love, your family, still reside there, but somehow it’s not quite the same.

The inside is different, too. Everything feels like it’s been moved three inches to the left. You know that episode of Full House where DJ and Stephanie accidentally put a hole in the wall of Danny’s room and they move the furniture to cover it? I feel like Danny when he gets home and tries to toss his coat on the chair but it falls on the floor instead. That niggling feeling that something’s just not quite right. It’s the handles of the shower and how they turn in the opposite direction of the ones in your new apartment. It’s that all the doorknobs feel smaller; the toilet feels a little lower. The painting you did in 4th grade art that used to hang in the downstairs bathroom has been replaced by a concert poster from a show your dad and brother went to when you were away at school. It’s the free food and the well-stocked fridge with the balanced meals that you’re actually happy are balanced.

It’s the struggle between being so overwhelmingly happy to see your parents again, to know that they’re alive and there – ready to hug you at any time – to needing your space. You suddenly seem to realize – even though, let’s be honest, you’ve seen it coming for years – that your parents’ ideologies aren’t the exact same as yours; you hear comments you don’t remember your parents making before. You grew up thinking your parents were so liberal and super progressive and you’re starting to realize that they aren’t, necessarily. It’s not as though they’re suddenly ultra-conservative, it’s just that the hyper-liberal college you went to has maybe shaped your ideology more than your parents have. There’s the moment in the middle of the golf course where your brother almost makes you cry out of frustration because he doesn’t understand that rape culture is a thing you actually think and care about so he makes dumb comments and insulting jokes and says it’s okay because it’s ‘art’ and ‘comedy’. Slowly but surely, you start to recognize the excuses you’ve been making for him all these years, and somehow you still don’t abruptly stop. You do stop talking about politics with him.

And outside of your house you realize that you don’t really belong to these people anymore. At least, not in the way you used to. Your life isn’t ruled by the 6×1 mile patch of ground that make up your hometown. You’ve grown. You’ve lived in a big city, you’ve spent a few months abroad, your experiences and perspective aren’t nearly as limited as they were when you lived here full-time.

There aren’t really any contacts in your phone from your hometown that you feel comfortable calling up to hang out. (Because for some reason being back in your hometown makes you act like you’re in high school all over again, when you would call all of your friends to plan to see each other.) Or, if there are one or two you wouldn’t mind seeing again – they’re no longer spending time in your town. You try to process the crippling feeling that the next time you see them might be their wedding or your high school reunion. So instead of calling or texting everyone you used to be friends with, a long time ago (and not wanting to deal with the boy you used to be friends with and had a crush on but know will ignore you), you agree to hang out with your older brother and his friends. You let him goad you into it even though you could be staying home, watching Silver Linings Playbook with your parents. So you get in the car. You climb the stairs to the apartment complex you didn’t know existed until last summer, and play with the friendly dog, and beat your brother’s friend at Injustice and wonder where his wife is while you’re sipping on Diet Pepsi, getting contact high from the bowl they’re passing back and forth, and wondering, ‘when did this become my life?’. And when you’re brother wants to leave and says, ‘come to this party, my friends want to see you’ you shrug and say okay, because you kind of want to see them, too. But when you finally get there it’s nothing like you imagined – it’s not like the parties you’re used to. There’s a girl stumbling drunk between the six other people present. A guy you vaguely know industriously made a bong out of an apple. You abjectly realize you’re not having fun. You take the keys and go home alone, fervently hoping you remember which streets to take because you never did know this are quite as well as you could have.

By the time your dad has finished packing up the car to drive you the seven hours down to the place you’ve started to call home – the place where you surround yourself with friends that you think one day, maybe, you might consider family, to your own space that exists hundreds of miles away from your parent’s house – you realize you didn’t even accomplish anything on your ‘vacation’. A few days of shopping without having to pay for anything; a carload of furniture your parents weren’t using; some home-cooked meals; a lot of hugs and ‘I love you’s said between yourself and your parents. But does it really mean anything? In the four days you were home you never once went somewhere new, aside from that hole-in-the-wall Mexican place. You didn’t do anything special for your mom’s birthday or belated for Father’s Day. In the end, it was a chance to hug your parents, to answer the question of what your brother and his friends do when they hang out, but not much more than not having to get up early and go into the office for a few days.

As the car pulls away from the house, you realize you don’t miss it as much as you thought you might. The talk of turning your bedroom into a guest room stings a little, but you know you’ll always have somewhere to sleep; a place to return to. You feel bad for the clutter you left strewn over your bedroom floor even though you’ve done so nearly every time you’ve visited home. You feel a little worse than usual, though, because you don’t know when the next time you’ll return to might be.

When you arrive at your apartment, everything you felt at home is still there, flopping around inside you. But it’s fuzzier, more distant. You still miss your family, the house, the friends you left behind and grew apart from. Every once in a while you’ll idly think about what you could have done differently when you were growing up in that perfectly suburban town and decide it’s really not worth the energy, because you like where you are now. You’re trying to learn  to like who you are and find comfort in friends more often than you turn to your family. It’s a process. It’s strange and sometimes unsettling but at the end of the day when you’re tired and trying not to think anymore, the thought creeps in that maybe the feeling you can’t always identify is pride – you’re proud of yourself for doing what you always swore you’d do: you left. You’re not ‘stuck’, anyway. You have options. Maybe just remind yourself to take a breath and try to remember that every once in a while. You’ll appreciate it.

Things I Did: Graduate College

The past fortnight – the past month – has been so crazy I don’t even know where to start. Do I go back to the beginning of spring semester when I thought I had all the time in the world? Or maybe midterms when I started to freak out about my grades and finding a job and an apartment? Or maybe that gap where I worried no one would want to live with me? What about that short period I thought I would leave DC, all of my friends, and take a year-long fellowship in Detroit?

See? So much has happened.

The last month alone has been the most action-packed of my life and I’m not even being hyperbolic! But the thing that I find most strange about it all is that I wasn’t even all that stressed. I really think the saving grace here was that I honestly just didn’t have time to feel stressed. I knew I would be able to pass all my classes. Amanda graciously agreed to be my roommate. We only looked at three apartments before we found one that we could agree on. I applied to a job, was qualified for it, did well in the interview and was hired.

I just… May was insane. I worked part-time during finals. I moved out of my dorm and into my very first apartment. I rented a car, went to Ikea for the first time, bought a bed and a mattress, and transported them to my new home. I went to 9 of the 10 Daze parties. I introduced my brother to my friends, went to two graduation ceremonies – on of which was ON THE NATIONAL MALL.

But it was all over so quickly. Do you know how quickly ten days of parties pass you by? Very quickly. Especially when you spend a significant portion of your day sleeping/moving/trying to figure out what you can wear that will fit that night’s theme. It’s exhausting. In a really good way.

So on top of all the parties and the hectic moving the graduation thing actually happened. Despite some reservations, Kerry Washington was actually a kick-ass commencement speaker (and a fellow GW alum).

And then, because I am a dumb-dumb, I started work at my full-time job the day after commencement. The day after. At 8:30 am. I have to COMMUTE now. That’s so weird. I moved to Virginia and ended up getting a job basically on campus of my alma mater. So weird (not the late-90s Disney show). But I live four metro stops away so I really can’t complain. Like, at all.

So now I have a job. That I’m good at. In a law firm (in the library, but still). It’s weird. And kind of easy. And has absolutely no relation to that shiny new degree I just earned next door. But I get paid! When they decide to pay me on time I can afford my rent and food and clothes for said job and, I don’t care what you say, yes, I am going to put a hammock in my apartment because that’s just not really an acceptable piece of furniture outside of your early 20’s, so…

I’m happy, I think. It’s been awhile since I felt this way. No homework, no stress. Time to read books again, and watch tv, and just lounge about talking about dumb shit with my roommate and our friends. I joined the firm’s softball team. I play slow-pitch softball on the ellipse of the White House. Our game last night got paused because the Secret Service made us clear out. My apartment complex has a pool so I just bought a new bathing suit. Things are looking up.

So I guess my only question is, what’s next?

The End of an Era

My childhood is coming to an end in the most profound way imaginable – with a movie franchise. But honestly, it’s not just any franchise, it’s Harry freaking Potter. The Chosen One. The Boy Who Lived. Potty wee Potter. We’ve both grown up, and it’s time to part ways. But I’m not leaving his side without a fight. No way, no how. I’m taking the last stand at the Battle of Hogwarts. just like all of our classmates.

That’s right, our classmates. Because I was there, right along with him. Ever wonder why you don’t know all of the girls’ names in Harry’s year in Gryffindor house? Because one of them is me. Hermione, Parvati, Lavender, and Molly. Fit right in, don’t I?

And I’m trying really hard to keep my cool about the release of the final film. Though I know that I’m going to fail spectacularly, I have to at least try. Because, for the rest of the week, if not the entire summer, I’ll just be a blubbering mess.

The other day my brother said I used to be obsessed with Harry Potter. I thought it funny he used the past tense. I pointedly corrected him, saying that I am still very much obsessed with it and not at all ashamed. He found that odd, as he was used to using “Harry Potter fan” as a disparaging remark. He never really got Harry Potter, preferring JRR Tolkein’s world of Hobbits. To each his own, I guess, but I’ll stick with the wizarding world of Harry Potter, thank you very much. We got into a discussion of which world was superior, which characters stronger, who would reign supreme in a fight. (The wizards, obviously. All you need is the flick of the wand, and besides, Harry’s got the sword of Gryffindor on his side.)

One of my ongoing struggles with my dad is my seemingly futile attempt to get him to understand just how big a part Harry Potter has played in my life. I once told him that the best prank he ever could have played on me would have been to give me a fake acceptance letter to Hogwarts. He could’ve filmed it. My reaction would have been worth over a million hits on YouTube, easily. Because you better believe I waited for my letter. Not just when I was eleven, but until I was 20. I’ve now resigned myself to the fact that I’m probably just a Squib.

Anne and I have had many a conversation about Harry Potter, as well. Our topics of discussion would range from what house we’d be in to what classes we’d take. (Obviously I’m a Gryffindor, but I wouldn’t shirk away from being placed in Ravenclaw. Anne’s somewhere between a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw.) My favorite topics of thought tend to be what classes I’d get to take if I went to Hogwarts. Of course I’d take all of the basic, required courses, but when you get into your 3rd year at Hogwarts, you also sign up for some electives. Choices include: Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. Whereas Anne would pull a Hermione and take all of them, I would restrain myself to Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes.

The thing that I don’t understand about Harry Potter, (that’s not true, there’s a whole litany of things coming in a different post) is how every muggle-born student doesn’t excel at their schoolwork? How could they not be so freaking excited about being magical that they wouldn’t devour every book placed in front of them? That they wouldn’t practice every spell, charm, enchantment, and jinx until they nailed it. Because that’s what I’d be like. I’d be another Hermione Granger and I would never, ever apologize for it.

I can’t fathom not being a complete geek about Harry Potter or his world. I let it pull me in like it was Devil’s Snare. Because Harry Potter has a real world, it’s just not tangible. I’ve been a part of the world for the last eleven years and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I’ll know the spells, the secret passageways in Hogwarts, Mr. Filch’s list of banned items, the members of the Order of the Phoenix. I’ll cower away from Fluffy and those damned Blast-Ended Skrewts. I’ll defend Neville and Luna, jinx Pansy Parkinson, and punch Draco Malfoy. I’ll attempt to disarm the Death Eaters I happen across. I’ll drive away dementors and obliterate boggarts. I’ll keep Hagrid and Fang company and be a faithful customer at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Hell, I’d probably have been one of their test subjects during the early days of their Skiving Snackboxes. (That’s not true, there’s too much Hermione in me; I’d try and confiscate their goods for my own nefarious purposes.) I’ll have an Arnold, a Crookshanks, and a Hedwig. I’ll own stock in sugar quills and always have a bottle of color-changing ink handy. But I will never, ever, buy that putrid pink parchment that the deplorable Dolores Umbridge favored. Oh, and I’ll own a broomstick, but I still haven’t decided between the new Cleansweep or the new Nimbus yet.

After tomorrow night, once I’ve seen the final premiere, can someone just come over and obliviate my memory? That way, I can enjoy Harry Potter again, just as if it were the first time. Otherwise I’ll just be here, sobbing. Because it’s the end of an era, dammit. At least I’ll have Pottermore to look forward to.