Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Everybody loves a list, right? That can't just be me.

So now it's been a while since I left London, and I think I've been doing well with not dwelling on how much I miss it. But I just explained my trip to another family member, and it just got me thinking about the little things that were just part of my life in the U.K. Things like...

-my wallet weighing down my purse because of the excess of coins in it...
-but also the pure joy of having one pound coins
-Brits telling America jokes
-embracing the joke and playing up the 'MURICA HELL YEAH character
-"You're watching 40D, on Youtube"
-constantly holding my Oystercard upside down because my picture is terrible
-all Sainsbury's Basics, but mostly ten scones or a chocolate bar for 33 pence. 33 PENCE, YOU GUYS.
-seeing an Eat every other block
-going to bed four hours before my roommates because they're staying up to watch the basketball game live back home
-Looking enough like a local that people ask you how to get to Holborn station.
-Mars bars
-the creepy convenient store workers who are just friendly enough to not make you run out screaming, Magnum bar in hand
-the huge sparkly high heeled shoe in front of the theater for "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"
-playing with one of the trillion ketchup packets Emily brought to the table for her small bowl of fries.
-Emily yelling at me when I call them "fries" when they're "chips"
-Emily laughing at me when I call them "pants" when they're "trousers"
-hearing people at my internship mock Wales
-seeing a Harry Potter advert on the side of a double decker bus
-hanging out with my friends so I can eat the food they made, when I didn't help make it
-British friends asking my how many bases are on a baseball field
-my Poli-Sci professor bashing Sarah Palin
-heading to a pub after class, for a celebration or just because we were all craving burgers
-the feeling of accomplishment after successfully navigating public transportation
-debating buying a hat that only costs a pound, then wearing it three times a week for four months
-passing the British museum every day on the way to school
-complaining about the hoards of tourists blocking the sidewalk in front of the museum
-seeing groups of tiny British children in uniforms on a field trip to the museum and forgiving everything
-an Irish person to me: "Is that an Irish accent I hear?" Me: "No, it's just American" *internally*: "SHE THOUGHT I WAS IRISH YESYESYES ALWAYS AND FOREVER"
-being in tons of Dailybooth pictures despite not having an account myself because my friends are fantastically nerdy
-seeing Rupert Grint at a local pub

ok that last one didn't happen. But it should have.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Forever is composed of nows"... and road trips

Last Sunday saw me taking a road trip with some kids from school, a first for me. Now, this trip was cool and special for a few different reasons.

First, can we discuss the pure joyful greatness that is the road trip? Is there anything better than drivign down a highway with some friends for hours, making fun of each other and singing Disney songs? I hardly think so. There is something strangely awesome about being squished in the backseat while the driver curses at people cutting her off (Sunday's favorite expletive: "Jesus tits!). Part of that was the fact that it was in fact not me having to deal with obnoxious New York drivers. But still.

Also, the destination of our trip was pretty out of the ordinary, but memorable nonetheless. And yeah, you can insert your own little "Well, it's all about the journey, not the desination," and that's true....but SHUT UP. We were headed to Agloe, New York, and when I say this is nowhere, I'm not referring to its rural location (although it's true it's pretty much surrounded by a lot of nothing). Agloe is literally nowhere. I'm going to assume the reader of this has not read Paper Towns by John Green (even though you should, because it's fantastic in every way), and so I will explain how this can be. A few decades ago, when maps were being drawn up and sold, a company created Agloe on their own map, so if it showed up on a competitor's layout of the area, they would know they had been stolen from. This is referred to as a "paper town" and the interesting thing is, this fake town actually became real when a general store was established on the spot where Agloe was supposed to be. This town plays a crucial role in Green's book, along with themes of growing up and moving on when necessary as well as imagining people complexely. It's good stuff.

So about ten of us piled into cars and drove the few hours to Agloe, after one group bonded and hung around a mall for a few hours while the other group fixed a flat tire situation. When we got to the are we believed to be the general vicinity of Agloe, we ended up driving around for a while. I think this is understandable, because you know, we were trying to find a place that doesn't actually exist. After getting thoroughly confused and pulling into a very sketchy campground where it looked like people visited and then never left, we thought what we found was as close as we were going to get to Agloe. All of us stumbled out of our cars, eager to stretch our legs and explore the area, which consisted of a rather nice house, a large barn with a rather odd sign on the side, a large mound of gravel, and two deserted-looking small buildings. While staring at and contemplating the barn, we noticed some people had left the house and were looking over at us. This caused most of us to high-tail it back to the cars, because it was rural New York, and we had no idea how liberal these people might be with shotguns. But the bravest among us approached the house, and found them to be very nice people, who were familiar with John Green and Paper Towns, but unfortunately didn't know where Agloe is.

We then decided if people who themselves live IN Agloe haven't a clue where it is, we'll just create it. So we collected around a boulder by a nearby stream, and claimed it to be the town of Agloe. What I found significant about this seemingly insignificant or silly action was this: John Green has on several occasions his belief that books belong to their readers. While he meant this mostly in the ideological sense, on Sunday we took this to the physical realm. We, as readers, took the book we all love and relate to, and brought what was just a story into a real-work manifestation and memory. We took possession of our own personal Paper Towns and, as a group, created a new, unique addition to the story.

So just as Agloe started as a non-entity and became a real place, the ideas and places we imagined and analysed as we read the book turned into actual landmarks and events in our lives.

"The town was paper, but the memories were not."

-Paper Towns, John Green

Friday, June 10, 2011

Graduation: I think Vitamin C said it best

So it's that time of year when every mediocre sitcom ends their spring season with a cheap, tear-jerking graduation episode. I mean, let's be real, I sob watching every one (this year-Suite Life on Deck, Greek, etc... wait, stop judging me.), but still. It's graduation time.
There are a few things youngsters should know as they gloriously leave the familiar embrace of their schools.
1. You are not leaving gloriously. You are one member of a graduating class of probably about 500. Calm down.
1.5. You will very soon (possibly- I don't know you) be entering an institution of higher education, and that gives you the right to be a little pretentious. You can even call people a mere two years younger than you "youngsters." Well, you can, but you probably shouldn't.
2. So hey, be excited.
3. But maybe not too excited. The widespread concept of college is one of reckless joy, immediate and effortless friendships, and drinking. While all of these certainly have an aspect of truth, your experience is your own. The beginning of my own university career included none of these things. And I'm not alone in this. Sure, it's true that everyone's in the same boat when you start, pretty much alone. But that doesn't mean friends will just appear out of desperation. Which leads to...
4. Finding a niche can take a while. I mean, it might not, but for a lot of people it does. For me, I needed to leave the country to find mine. Other people join Greek life or history club or shamelessly flirt in their Bio labs. To each their own.
5. Be thankful for Facebook. Where just ten years ago people only had awkward interactions with friends from home on breaks, now we can actually maintain lines of communication. However, if you really want to keep the promises you make of being bestest friends forevers you make in the summer following graduation, you need to take the initiative. Let's face it: your friends are lazy. It's ok, so are mine. You need to be the person to write something ridiculous with no context on their wall, send a link to a Harry Potter rap, or leave annoying long videos. Because they're not going to. It's not that they don't care, they just don't want to put in the effort to initiate. Also, let's face it, they're not as funny as you.
6. Go to class. No, seriously. Go to fricken class.
7. Accept that drifting apart from some friends is inevitable. Sure, I've already emphasized the importance of social networking, but some people don't really use it. And some of those people are just going to quietly leave your life, and that's ok. Just today, I was looking casually over a magnetic board where I have some friends' senior pictures hanging. I caught sight of a picture of a guy I haven't spoken to in quite a while, and my first thought was, "Who IS that?" Now, this is a guy I saw almost every day for over four years. We spent the entirety of high school laughing together and making fun of each other. And after just two years apart, it took me a second to remember his name. In a few more years, it will take me a few more seconds. Yeah, it's sad, but unfortunately that is part of the nature of post-high school life. But so are days with just an hour of school work required of you. So, you know, pros and cons.
8. Enjoy this last real span of time you have with your friends. Coming as someone who's pretty much an expert on nostalgia, believe me, this is the best time. Everyone's excited to be finished with all that work, and you haven't started freaking out about the next step yet. It's just trips to the lake and James Bond marathons for a few months. Plus, it's grad party season, which means you practically don't even need to buy groceries. Just go steal some face cake from the baseball captain's party. There will be so many people there, you'll just blend into the masses. Just don't get the theater kid started on his audition piece for his fine arts college application. He's boring and never realizes no one cares.
So go give your best friend a hug and then go play some ultimate frisbee or whatever it is you crazy kids are doing these days. The next graduation you have to look forward to is from college, which people care significantly less about, and following which you have the terrifying clutches of unemployment to attempt to avoid. PARTY TIME.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm a Liar

Growing up with a fairly mischievous sister, I had to learn how to lie early in life. When we were young, it was a constant battle of "it doesn't matter who did it, but who gets in trouble for it." Being the younger of the two, I had cuteness on my side, and I quickly learned to work with that and then grow into a pretty well-developed liar.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not that person who lies to make trouble, or does it to get attention. I've known that person. I don't want to be them. They're no fun. Don't invite them to your parties.
No, with me it's more of a "Oh, you actually believe me when I say ridiculous things? Ok let's run with this."
Example time, kids. Brace yourselves. No seriously. Grab that table in front of you and brace yourselves.
My good friend from school once posted a video on my Facebook wall of a clip from a British comedy show, where they were making fun of a stupid Minnesotan law, regarding the illegality of having sexual relations with fish. I knew she was enjoying mocking my home state (it's a favorite pasttime of hers when we're together), so I told her, "haha the weird thing is, someone actually did that ("that" being... you know) and a small news story went around about it during my freshman year... i can't really defend my state right now." I never expected her to believe me. But she did, and she was adequately disgusted. I suppose that kind of correlates with my last post about people's (disturbing) expectations of the midwest, but I digress.
Another ongoing example I'm actually using this medium to fess up about is this:
I have a friend of mine convinced I know Steven Segal and his family. The story behind this started with just a video of Segal's new energy drink being shared with me. It was of low quality, and I told my friend so, saying, "this was just filmed in his backyard. I should know, I've been there." Now, this was a joke. I never in my life expected anyone to accept that as true. But, bless his heart, my friend did. So this began as an innocent conversation about nothing in particular, but ended with me being close friends with the Segal family. I suppose it's a compliment, that someone thinks I'm cool and connected enough to know solid B-list celebrities. But now I have to confess- this is actually not the case.
Boy I hope he's not mad.
I think the moral to this story might be to just never believe anything I say, ever. Maybe everything I've ever written on this blog is a lie. Perhaps I've never been to London and didn't grow up in Minnesota. Maybe I'm behind you RIGHT NOW.

I'm not, though.