The Hitchhiker’s Hail

In the last seven years, I’ve had eight nine different addresses (I almost forgot England). Those seven years have seen me moving out of my parent’s house for the first time, living in six different dorm rooms, moving to England, moving back to the States, getting my first real apartment, and then moving to grad school. I consider myself to be decent at moving, good at packing, and great at upacking. I have moved into and out of my parents’ house so many times that I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like I’ve permanently left.

When I first traveled from Cleveland, Ohio to Washington, DC for college, my dad had a pick-up truck and we used every square inch of the truck bed despite the fact that I was moving into a shared dorm room. I’d like to say I’ve really learned to pare down my belongings, but in reality all I’ve done is leave more and more items behind.

My proudest move is probably the first one I made completely alone, when I got on a plane to England to study abroad for a semester. Against all odds, I packed my life into one suitcase and travelled across the Atlantic. My plan had been to fly into Gatwick and take a train to Brighton, but that was ruined pretty immediately. A broken plane and Amazing Race-style sprint through O’Hare later, I ended up flying into Heathrow, taking a bus to Gatwick (panicked that I would not be able to figure out how to get to Brighton without my carefully laid out plan or a cell phone), and then taking the train to Brighton. Look, in the end I managed, but that’s not the point. My point, I guess, is that it was the first time I’d really had to navigate traveling alone.

I moved again last month, and the move was probably more daunting than my first trans-Atlantic flight, customs, and finding my dorm room at the University of Sussex. The one thing that made this move seem do-able, however, was that my dad was my co-pilot. We packed up my Honda Element as full as we could (leaving behind, among other things: all of my furniture, 95% of my books and DVDs, and my favorite pair of earrings) and hit the road.

For five days we drove cross-country so that I could move to Los Angeles.

I never wanted to live in LA. Despite my deep, abiding love for television and the quiet, burning part of myself that wanted to work on television shows, I never really considered making the move. LA has sunshine, and earthquakes, and it’s in the Pacific Time Zone. All of those things are anathema to me. But as I finished an undergraduate degree that I didn’t really know how to use, and worked in my first adult job, and went to grad school, the thought of working in television never left. It became louder and louder until I couldn’t ignore that, out of everything, that’s what I wanted the most. More than living in the same apartment building as my friends, and being in the same time-zone as my parents, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I gave it a chance.

So my parents, my wonderful, supportive parents helped me pack up the car and my dad drove across the country with me. We took our time, stopping so that we could play in Arches National Park and visit the Grand Canyon. I think both of us had been a little apprehensive about spending so much time alone with one another, no buffer of any kind between us, but it only brought us closer. We shared beers at breweries in the mid-west, and had a pillow fight in Arizona. We took pictures and watched shitty movies in the hotel room, and forced each other to eat salads. At the end of the trip, he even agreed that my choice of superpower (which he’d mocked mercilessly months ago) to be able to stop shedding was pretty worthwhile after all.

There were parts of the trip that were trying, sure. Like trying not to hit that elk as we left the Grand Canyon. Or the moment that I almost ran out of gas in the middle of Kansas because I was too absorbed by an episode of Keepin’ It 1600. Our musical choices are at odds, so striking the compromise of his jazz in the morning, my alt. rock in the afternoon was necessary early on. After so long in the car, our backs and knees hurt, we were probably always at least a little bit dehydrated, but we made it.

I wouldn’t give it up for anything. In fact, I want more road trips. A few summers ago my mom and I packed up and drove around Michigan for a few days, which had been a great bonding experience, despite the near-constant rain. This move was stressful, but certainly less than I had anticipated, because I had my dad by my side. I hope that next year my brother comes to visit and we can go on a trip of our own, maybe to Yosemite.

I hope my future is filled with road trips. I want them with my friends, hours of fighting over music and putting up with each other’s podcasts. I want nights camped out on the roof of my car looking at the stars with my loved ones as I try not to cry from the beauty of the moment. I want to get lost in a foreign country and not care for the awe of the landscape. I think spending hours alone in a car, while risky, is ultimately good for relationships.

The post script of this post, if anything, is that I live in LA now. But what was really important was the journey.

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Hot Humid American Summer

I finished with classes, exams, my school year a month ago. As of May 7th at approximately 1:40pm I became a senior at the George Washington University. Let’s just give that a second to sink in, shall we? A senior. A fourth year student at a university of higher education. I’m so close to graduating I’m already cringing. I’m not ready to leave yet. It took going abroad and coming back to find my place here, school. Don’t make me leave so soon!

Okay, sorry. It’s just freaking me out a bit. I know that I’ve got a whole year left in this great place with these wonderful people, but damn. That’ll just go by in the blink of an eye, won’t it? So, in the meantime, I’m going to work on focusing on the present. I’m pretty terrible at that, if you’ve read any of my posts, like, ever. I tend to plan for months, years in the future, not the now. Oh, well. Instead of prematurely freaking out about graduation and caps and gowns and employment, I’m trying to think of what I’ll be doing this summer to keep me grounded. I’ve made a list, you see.

First off, I’ve just started working on a new story. No, I haven’t finished any of my old ones yet. I know, I know, I’m working on it. (Kind of.) But for the first time, ever, I have an outline, plot, characters, the whole shebang. If you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of proud of myself. I’m going to try and write a thousand words a day. I don’t think I’ll live up to that goal, but I’m going to try.

Next up, I plan on reading a lot this summer. A lot a lot. I’m still working at the law library, so I’ve got tons of time to kill. Here’s my go-to list:

  • Brave New World (I’ve only got about fifty pages left.)
  • Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (All books combined into one nice little Kindle package. I’m a little over half-way through.)
  • The Bell Jar
  • On the Road
  • Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Jane Eyre
  • Franny & Zooey

I also have a lot of shows to watch. Aside from recapping Newsroom over at Off Color TV I’ve got a lot on my lists. After catching up on the rest of this season’s shows (Once Upon a Time, HIMYM, Hart of Dixie, Castle, 30 Rock and Fringe) I plan on watching these for the first time:

  • Dance Academy. I’ve got about 10 episodes left in  this addictive little Australian show about teenagers at a ballet school.
  • Arrested Development
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Battle Star Galactica
  • Daria
  • Awkward.

Keep in mind I’ll be in the city all summer, so I can also distract myself with free concerts at the Kennedy Center and the Sculpture Garden. The pool is open on the auxiliary campus and is free for students. Almost all of my friends are here for some/all of the summer so I’m sure I’ll have a full schedule. At least I hope so.

Since I don’t post here on the reg (I’m going to try and amend that, no promises), you can follow me on Twitter @MollytheGhost where I am almost always available to talk about TV, my boredom, and other weird stuff. I also got a Tumblr recently, so you can see a ton of reblogged crap over there. (Please follow me? I don’t know how to cultivate tumblr followers, so that would be swell!)

Feel free to leave me with tons of suggestions as to what books/shows/movies I should try out next. I’d love to hear it.

In Which I Apologize Profusely for having been Absent from the Blogosphere

Seeing as how I have once again been MIA from my blog for awhile, I thought I’d ease us all back into things. Slow and steady, no? So we’re just going to play catch-up. Last I posted, I wrote about my time in Dublin. Wow, that seems like forever ago. So much has happened over the last two and a half months (has it really been that long since I’ve posted? I’m the worst), so here’s the quick and dirty:

December:

  • I returned to the States! I finished my time abroad and flew into DC to hang out with my friends at GW during their reading week. This was really important to me since a lot of my friends are now abroad. Visiting in December was my only real opportunity to see them before our Senior Year started. Waiting that long to see all of my wonderful friends just wasn’t going to cut it so I did what made sense – I came to DC for a visit. We watched the requisite winter movie Love, Actually. We watched political debates. We ate peppermint bark. We went out to dinner. We reconnected.
  • I visited family. No matter what, winter break is a time for me to visit family. I managed to squeeze trips to both Michigan and New York out of my four week break. I hung out with my cousins, ate amazing Polish food, hit the outlet malls, cleaned out my grandparent’s kitchen, drove through Allegheny National Forest. It was a grand ole time.

January:

  • I watched my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide trounce LSU. I made caramel corn during half time and wore my Roll Tide t-shirt.
  • I moved back to DC and into my new dorm. I’ve been really busy with school and work, and spending time with my friends (none of whom live in the same building as myself) but I like my room well enough. It’s tiny and doesn’t have enough storage space, but it’ll do for a home away from home until May.
  • I celebrated a birthday! It was really low-key, but I was with my friends, and that’s all that matters. We ate chocolate-covered cheesecake. Need I say more?
  • Band started up again! I basically spend all of my time with them, bouncing between Symphonic Band and pep band rehearsals and basketball games, but it’s always fun. We have traditions and inside jokes and a lot of love for each other. It’s wonderful.

February:

  • Celebrated the first annual Alan Rickmas. What is that, you may ask? The Sunday before Alan Rickman’s birthday you get together with a bunch of your friends and day-drink while watching Alan Rickman movies. This year we watched Nobel Son, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Galaxy Quest, Love Actually, and Die Hard. It’s a grand day that we hope to replicate for years to come.

Can’t you see I’ve been super busy? I hope y’all understand why I haven’t been posting. I’m also taking a creative writing class this semester which is taking a lot of writing focus. So is my recapping duty over at Off Color TV for Parks and Recreations. You can find my posts here.

In my free time (when not hanging out with friends, obviously) I’ve been trying to catch up on all of my TV watching. I’m floundering to keep up with my regular shows week-to-week, but I’ve managed to watch all of Party Down (loved it so much; can’t wait for the movie), and have worked my way into season 4 of Supernatural (enjoying it a lot).

Trying to spend more time reading because I feel like I’ve been neglecting my books. I’m halfway through the third Hitchhiker’s Guide book. I finished Downtown Owl, finally. I just purchased Bossypants and The Hunger Games to reread over spring break and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? because I love and admire Mindy Kaling.

Nothing too exciting is in my near future. I’ve been applying to summer jobs/internships so that I can (hopefully) stay in DC over the summer. I’m impatiently awaiting March 23rd because I just want to see the Hunger Games already and… Guys. I have a lot of feelings about this book. Expect a post about it in the near future. Suffice it to say for the time being that I’m in need of a good cry and the dam’s going to break when I see that movie. I’ve already warned the friends I’m going to see it with (midnight premiere, what-what?). I plan on packing lots and lots of tissues.

Have a listen to one of my favorite songs from Brighton, which I’ve been told is finally starting to be popular Stateside. Just remember, I heard/liked it first.

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.

The Late Autumn / Cold Weather Mixtape

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it’s practically winter. In two days I depart the relatively balmy temperatures of the UK for the frozen tundra that is America. As much as I’m looking forward to my return across the pond, I’m not looking forward to the cold. Despite the fact that it currently sounds like there’s a hurricane raging across campus, I have not yet embraced the deep chill I am sure will greet me when my plane lands in DC on Saturday. So, instead, I will finally post my autumn playlist. While I’m still in a place where the temperature hovers in the low 50s.

Use this playlist when you’re curled up in front of the fire on a cold night. Listen to it when you want to drown out the storm that’s raging outside your window. Put it on in the background as you work on your novel or while you’re writing love letters. Listen to it when you’re driving through the countryside, in the warm confines of your car. Listen to it on the bus, on the train, on the way home to your family for the holidays. Listen to it as you wind down from the stress of finals. Use it to keep calm in the face of family drama once you’ve been reunited.

Radical Face: Welcome Home

Bon Iver: Holocene

Mumford & Sons: Timshel

Of Monsters and Men:

Fleet Foxes: He Doesn’t Know Why

Deas Vail: Desire

Black Keys: Ten Cent Pistol

Dry the River: New Ceremony

The Shins: Young Pilgrims

The Dodos: Walking

Wilco: Handshake Drugs

Damien Jurado: Ohio

Florence & the Machine: What the Water Gave Me

Radiohead:  Reckoner

And relegated to Honorable Mentions position because it doesn’t have any video links:

  • Crush: I Look Good

Cozy, Comfortable, Crisp. My thoughts on November.

It’s mid-November and I’m content. I love being surrounded by the crisp leaves, the afternoon thunderstorms, the cutting wind and the aura of change. It’s a time to be cozy. A time to sit in front of a fireplace; to wear absurd amounts of flannel; to curl up with a lover; to watch football with your friends; for the men to participate in “no shave November.”

The leaves have all fallen. They’re a dark ruddy brown, dead, piled at the bases of the trees they used to adorn. I miss them. I miss the brief period where the leaves change and just start to fall and everyone just seems more aware of nature. Strangely enough, the is the first time in three years I’ve actually had a chance to view autumn in all her glory. As much as I love my adopted home in DC, you sure don’t have the opportunity to see the leaves change. But, in order to enjoy the changing of the leaves (leaf-peeping, it’s a thing!), I have to give up the simple things I enjoy stateside, like my football.

I miss football so much it hurts. While GW doesn’t have a team, I have never wavered in my support of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately, there are “geographic restrictions” and a 6-hour time difference keep me from watching my team. It’s fine, I guess. It’s one of the really things that makes me realize, hey, I’m in a foreign country!

I’m also going to miss Thanksgiving this year. It’s not that I don’t love the holiday itself or the three days off from school, but huge Thanksgiving celebrations were never really our thing. I will miss the stuffing. And the potential for turning the leftovers into open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy fries. Mmm, gravy fries.

But I’ve got to suck it up. To make up for missing Thanksgiving I’m gifting myself a trip to Belgium. It might just be a day trip to Bruges, it might be an entire weekend so that I can see Brussels (and find the elusive Pol’s, a place I’ll have to locate on hearsay from my late grandfather). Originally when I came to the UK I wanted to visit Dublin, Scotland, London, Oxford, Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris. Unfortunately with my class schedule, trips like those became improbable. I’ve ticked Scotland and London off of my list but that leaves a lot of open ends, of unmet goals. So, before I go home, in just one short month I hope that I can at the very least see parts of Belgium and Paris. Not too lofty of goals. Simple, practical, delightful.

There will be challenges. I have papers to write, presentations to make, exams to study for. I have to keep myself from freaking out that I only have a month left to enjoy before I return to the states. I have to keep myself from freaking out that I have to wait a month before I’m back in the states. I’m not necessarily homesick, but I suppose if you said that you wouldn’t be too far from the mark. And then there’s my personal challenge: since I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve challenged myself to finish, or at least get 50,000 words written, on one of my three current writing projects. Wish me luck!

I don’t go to College, I go to Uni

Once again, I’ve neglected my blog. Which makes me, to quote Liz Lemon, the worst. I don’t have anything topical to discuss or rant about or write a poignant essay about. For now I’m just going to play catch-up and ramble about what I’ve been up to lately.

But, hey, remember when I was all “I’ll never have the perfect college experience?” and went on whinging about that for an entire blog post? Yeah, well I apologize and am currently retracting that statement. Kind of.

I’m 3000 miles from home and I found what I was looking for. When I was but an ideological high-schooler, dreaming of the perfect college  I pictured sprawling rural campus. I ended up in the middle of a city. Whatever, you know all this. But do you know how perfect the Sussex Uni campus is? It’s exactly what 16-year old me envisaged. Green everywhere, enclosed so you still have a campus feel but surrounded by bountiful (and beautiful) parkland. 20,000 students, but only about a third (all first years) live on campus.  The classrooms are mostly lecture halls, but instead of individual desks, they’re elongated and look like this picture, which I absolutely adore. And, AND, there are two pubs on campus. Yes, two. So close, so convenient, so deliciously cheap. So, no, I’m still not getting to tailgate, or go to football games, or whatever, but I actually feel like a college student. Going to lecture, taking notes in a notebook (not that many students use laptops in class), writing essays, and going out on the weekends! Unlike the States, where I can’t go out to bars or clubs and drink, I can do that here. I can, and do, go on pub crawls. I can now say that I’ve been to a house party. I’m meeting people! I’m getting drunk and attempting to navigate the bus system! And it’s legal! For the first time ever, I’ve been to a bar and had a cute guy buy me a drink (my tiny triumph of last weekend). So, despite the fact that I’m really looking forward to getting back to GW, I’m absolutely loving my time here. I’m really finding myself, getting comfortable in my own skin and just having fun.

Other little things:

  • I saw a fox! On campus! On the way to a bar! Everything about those statements makes me giddy. Foxes are my favorite animal. The fact that they run around campus just thrills me to death. It was a fun little surprise passing one on the way to Falmer Bar last weekend.
  • I got a job! Okay, to be technical, an unpaid position. But I’m writing recaps/reviews of one of my absolute favorite shows, Parks & Recreation. I adore both the show and the site that I’m writing them for, Off Color TV. It’s a really fun site to troll. I’m now a frequent reader and commenter. Everyone should definitely go and check it out. For those of you who know how much I love tv and recaps, you should know that I’m over the moon about doing this. Unfortunately there wasn’t a new Parks & Rec last night, but there will be a nice new post (by me) next Friday. I urge you all to read and comment on it.
  • This one’s a little old, but I organized a beer pong tournament on campus a couple weeks ago. I imagined we’d have ten people show up, but around 30 exchange students packed into one of the dorm kitchens and hung around for a few hours. Not too shabby.
  • I’m taking an archery class! That puts me one step closer to becoming Katniss Everdeen. 
  • You might’ve noticed that I posted a recap of the season premiere of “The League”. I’ll be doing that weekly. They may be a little late, but they’ll get posted, regardless. It’s just a little something I’m doing to contribute to my family’s fantasy football newsletter. Whatever keeps me writing.
  • I’ve been attempting (and mostly succeeding) to keep up with US television shows. Despite the fact that I have to watch them next-day (and avoid spoilers on Twitter) it’s been working out. I figure it’s acceptable since I’m still a social creature and not a complete recluse. Right?