Ashley Gets More Comfortable on Cam

It’s really annoying to start every blog post with an apology for the delay–both for you–and for me. So, let’s skip that and talk about fun things.

One year ago this week, I was having a complete anxiety attack over the impending decision to move to Boston. I was given less than 12 hours to make a decision on an apartment that I had never laid eyes on and agree to a montly rent that I had no idea how I would pay for.

At that time, as I laid in the floor hyperventilating, my mom calmly told me that a year would pass either way and before I knew it it would be next spring. She said that we wouldn’t believe how quickly the time would pass.

And boy, was she right.

One year. And now I’m back to stressing about where I’ll live next :)

In funny torture, Boston University makes its graduate program three semesters–which means you’re left looking for an apartment for––three months? You have a year lease and then everyone wants you to buckle down for another year.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, I don’t have a clue. I’m obviously staying in Boston through the end of school. I do love it here. But, after December the story is yet to be written and I want to give myself the greatest flexibility to either be with my loves while I look for a job, or travel, or just move to the next gig! I’m hoping and praying and crossing fingers for a splendid ordeal to work out. But I need some prayers!

It’s hard to worry too much about life stuff though with so much school happening. Shooting, shooting, shooting. I’ve been doing a lot of application this semester. The first part of my program gave us the tools: intro to cameras, intro to editing, intro to approaching stories. This semester has been about constantly generating––and I can see huge growth in what I’m doing. The latest example was completed earlier this week. I’m pretty excited to show how much more comfortable with the camera that BU’s program has helped me to become:

I’m happy to say that I’ll be getting even more on-camera experience this summer as I take part in the Newton News fellowship and generate a lot of stories over the coming months.

That means I’m not sure when I’ll get to come home to North Carolina next though; which is intimidating. I’m hoping and praying for at least a long weekend in the coming months!

In the meantime, I came to Boston to switch back to newswoman––and I have to say––that’s been my true focus over the last seven months; now eight more to go before a graduation!

Eh, weekend? Let’s try it again in 5 days.

Last week was full of stress which resulted in adult breakouts that added to more stress, which meant eating bad and no running. So many things would have probably helped me chill out. Like a good run? But there was not enough time.

For the first time since I got to Boston I have been over-freakin-whelmed. And not in the way that I could just run a tighter ship, sharpen my pencils and that would solve all of the problems. Instead it was issues that I had no control over.

I got my first collegiate snow day and fully enjoyed some frolicking and football, but I also suffered a cancelled–or three–interviews.

Riverway snow beauty.

Friends. Football. Boom.

I was able to wrangle in getting all of my work done in time, but some how new things popped up that weren’t scheduled.

It was also crazy.

So you can imagine that I was fully looking forward to this weekend!

And, it was fun-ish. There was a little bit of sleep. A little bit of sunshine. A little bit of fun. And a lot of productivity. But it just wasn’t quite the best of the best. I don’t know what’s happening in the stars, but it just seemed like this weekend was destined for a funk.

And how does it end? It ends at 10 p.m. with my ole’ Mazda having been welcomed to Boston with a towing. Wah.

I would hereby like to start this Monday and get a fresh start––and then fast forward to Friday to try it again :)

You know, I realize that this post sounds a little whiny. But you know what? I’m always writing about how darn wonderful life is––and it still absolutely is––but it only seems fair to let you know when life is NORMAL too. And this weekend normal meant just being kind of “eh.”

Fresh start Monday!

Currently:

Reading: “Run Like a Girl” from Ms. SincerelyLily. Yup, still haven’t finished. As soon as I do though, ladies watch out, this is a good one to pass along. It’s been really nice to be reading a running book given I’m FINALLY up to my longest runs since my stress fracture. Four miles. First 5k of 2014 this Sunday. Fingers crossed for a 25-minute run. Fingers crossed.

Watching: Movies on movies on movies. Has anyone seen “Captain Phillips”? What about “The Butler”? “American Hustle”? I’ve seen two, seeing “The Butler” tonight. Then FINALLY (lots of those) “Inside Llewyn Davis” tomorrow night.

Obsessing: Unscheduled interviews. I swear few things are more anxiety-causing than seeing a calendar tick away to a deadline and not be making any progress. Two weeks until a big story is due and only one interview scheduled! EEK! In the meantime, I did have a decent time putting together my first evergreen story of the semester. It was a fun piece to cover and learn about. More previews of me doing my thing, here:


Wanting: To get into a semester swing. It’s still kind of weird. My organization is a little off and so is my motivation, haha. That said, I’m really excited about a number of my classes and I’m so full of story ideas which is awesome. Now I need to get into a rhythm. This was my first actual regular schedule week–so I’m thinking next Monday will be like old hat.

Eating: Chicken pot pie. Homemade. Chicken pot pie. Yum. Also, having a beer. Andy and I made a “no drinking on week nights” pact a few weeks ago and it’s been really lovely. I feel a little healthier and also am sleeping better; and also saving money. Being in grad school there is always a reason and excuse to go out and socialize and grab a beer. It’s been a nice reason to take a step back. That said, when Friday comes I’m ready to kick back.

Fearing: I’m not sure. I guess that’s good? Maybe I’m most afraid that time is going to fly by again this semester and I’m going to miss opportunities. Opportunities to stay in better touch with family. Opportunities for internships and getting involved in broadcast activities. Opportunities to get ahead on projects and my thesis (eeeeeek). Opportunities to explore and have little adventures. I can sense a little bit of tunnel vision developing and I don’t want to lose a moment.

Missing: My girls. Having best friends far away is no fun. I think I was distracted last semester; but going home for winter break reminded me how awesome it is to have someone that you can just gush about everything (plus boys, duh) to. I have some amazing friends in Boston. I just don’t have a bestie that I’m quite on that level with right now.

Hoping: To go through my closet and get rid of masses of clothes that have still gone unworn. Like, seriously? How is this possible? I feel like I’m constantly getting rid of things but somehow I still have too much.

Accepting: That I will never be able to really stick to a 10:30 p.m. bedtime. I’m a nightowl and it is what it is. #yawn

The Boston Blur.

That’s what life in Boston is turning into.

I was terrible and should have posted more over my long winter break; but alas you’re away from home for four months and don’t know when you’ll be back again––so instead of passing bored moments with blog updates or scheduling time to write, you find yourself just constantly being with people. Annoying your family with closeness. Strategically scheduling friend time to catch up.

The month that I was home was weird, wonderful and relaxed. And long. Very long.

Immediately after I got home there was a wedding and parties; family dinners and the immediate holidays.

Panthers game with my Winston-Salem ladies.

Wedding with my AOII alumnaes.

It’s funny how holidays are so different in this mid-20s phase of life. You don’t have kids for there to be that same Christmas magic. You’re no longer a kid so it carries a different connotation of happiness. And all of siblings are in a similar comfortable place of contentment with just . . .spending time. No more racing each other to the living room on Christmas Day. No more spending the full day playing incessantly with a new toy (well, maybe sometimes). But it’s just different. It’s so much less pressure. And so much more relaxed it seems. I loved it. This is a pretty cool time in life with my family. We just get to appreciate the time together.

LIttle brother + Me.

The weeks that I was home passed in hang outs and work outs, basically. Running. The gym. Sitting on the couch. Shopping with mom. Eating out with friends. It was really a rinse and repeat of my life four months ago.

Eerily it seemed almost that I could just close my eyes and slip back into my old life.

But yet. I couldn’t. Boston wasn’t a dream. And Boston was going to be returned to. Instead it just felt like I was living this parallel life that no one knew anything about.

Four weeks at home.

The hardest part was probably being away from ole’ Andy. The new(ish) boyfriend and I had been together for two months when we left for our respective Christmas breaks almost 3,000 miles apart. Three time zones. We went through our third month marker while we were apart and it was just so strange to bridge that much space for such a long period of time when you’re so early into a relationship.

But it was good. The best part? Andy, total sweetheart that he is, volunteered without me asking to fly to North Carolina to ride with me back to Boston since I was taking my car on the return.

That meant he got to see my North Carolina.

And he got to meet my family. And my friends.

And now, sure he still knows who I am, but he knows a lot more about why I am.

Favorite things all in one place.

Pretty awesome that he gets to see all that and we’re only (almost) four months in.

The weeks since our two-day, 15-hour return drive to Boston have been full of watching football (RIP Panthers), getting back into a work schedule (mama needs money), readjusting to a new class schedule (SO MUCH FILMING) and having reunions with friends in the area.

Last weekend we took a short road trip to Providence, RI (hello first new state of 2014) to see our friend Jeanna’s boyfriend play hockey with the Providence Bruins. Fast forward two days later and we’re getting together to watch him play on television with the Boston Bruins.

That's not Zach fighting. But nice that Zach scored...the Bruins won...AND there was a fight.

That’s not Zach fighting. But nice that Zach scored…the Bruins won…AND there was a fight.

Rob, Rox, Andy + Me at Doyle’s.

A Sam Adams Brewery tour. A winter storm.

That was pretty cool in the last two weeks, as well.

With all of this fun though, I’m still starting to feel the pressure that this program is only a year and a half long––and I’m already working on two-thirds finished. I have my first thesis meeting next week and I really need to get rolling on internship applications.

I’m going to continue to try to be better about posting : ) Maybe THAT should have been my NYR.

2013 was just the prologue. 2014, I’m ready.

I looked back at 2012′s New Year’s Eve post today as I sat down. The first sentence said “I have the most deliriously, deep-to-the-bone happy feeling about 2013.”

Man.

Was I ever right to feel that way?

2013 was a year of conquering. For the very first time I think I really waded into some selfishness. I wanted to really evaluate what I wanted in life. What was I going to do to get there? For the last three or so years I had been floating along with good enough; and turned out––that wasn’t good enough anymore. In that case, I think selfishness is the way to go.

The list of 25 by 25 was a huge impetus to get my butt in motion. To stop talking so much and do a lot more. I never imagined how putting a list together and reflecting on action could make so much happen.

I mean, just the cliff notes?

- Visiting NINE new states.

- Going to Canada.

Me + Soon-To-Be-Little-Did-I-Know-Now-Current Roommate

- Running a 10K.

- Really kicking butt at my old job. I was given some great new accounts and was really proud of the work Woodbine was doing.

- Sibling beach camping trip.

Me + Brother

- Running a HALF MARATHON.

- Making some amazing new best friends. Ones that came in the last half and ones in the first (looking at you, Tara).

It's amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

It’s amazing how you can become best friends with someone in a minute.

- Little brother graduated and moved to college.

Davis looks good.

- Quitting my job.

- Welcoming Evan into the world. That was a best.

He’s growing like a weed, though.

- Moving to Boston.

- New, great roommates.

- Starting graduate school.

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- Teaching myself the guitar.

- A Savannah AOII reunion.

- So many sporting events. Countless Dash. W-S Open Tennis. A Braves weekend. Red Sox. Patriots. Panthers. Whew.

- Going to probably 10 concerts.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

Boots and Coozies tailgating for Brad Paisley.

- Being at the Macy’s Parade for Thanksgiving.

- Staying close with best friends. Even when they’re freaking far away.

Katieryn LANE! (Wright.)

B + VK + Me. <3

Sha. <3

Roberta and Stephanie. :) Rob and Steve, you know I love you.

Denise and Briana. Derek and Brad, you know I love you too.

The B.C. to my A.D.

Linds Love.

V found me in Boston.

And of course Kait. Plus Sha. Plus Brooke.

Mushy.

Mushy.

PS, if you’re my friend and don’t have a nickname we apparently need to work on that.

- Finding a new church.

- Coming back from a rough sports injury.

-  Starting OVER with friends and coming out with a pretty amazing group.

Broadcast Family Class '14

Broadcast Family Class ’14

- Oh, and a new boyfriend. That’s a pretty big deal. Love this guy.

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I pretty much (minus a few 25s) crushed 2013. I honest-to-God do not know how it could’ve been better unless someone came out of the scenery and gave me like $100,000 or something.

Seriously. I am so freaking blessed.

And on the one hand where I am infinitely grateful to the things that God has moved in my life; I am also just so proud of myself. I know I couldn’t have done it without Him––but there was a part that required me to be brave. And there was a part that required me to have some insane trust and at the same time strength.

Moving to Boston was one of the most terrifying and gratifying things I have done. But I couldn’t see the gratifying part while I was laying in the floor of my Winston-Salem apartment crying my eyes out. Committing to a Boston apartment before I was sure that I wanted to leave? Committing to an apartment before I had let anyone know? That made it real. And that made it scary. But I took a deep breath and I went.

There have been equal forces at hand in each part of 2013.

The incredible joy of travel while facing an uncomfortable fear of flying.

The reward of returning to school with the painful goodbye and sadness of leaving an office made of my second family.

The excitement of new friends while missing the old.

The happiness of conquering change while feeling the holes of traditions and being with family.

The fresh victory of testing my body and seeing my running capabilities blossom with the regret of pushing too hard and finding its limits.

The amazing excitement of  love and then also the fear of vulnerability.

My life is amazingly balanced. And if you know me, and how Libra I really am, you know that I couldn’t be happier. On a daily basis I am amazed at the fullness of my heart and the satisfaction I have.

For the first time in a long time I don’t feel like I am settling.

2014 you have one heck of a lot to match; but I feel confident. I feel excited. And I feel like I’m going into 2014 with the best momentum I could ever dream of.

You know when you were young and adults would tell you “Just wait, these aren’t the best years of your life.” I had the scary and happy and confused and curious thought recently that . . . I think 2013 was. I think it was one of the best. And I think 2014 will be the second. This roll that 2013 started doesn’t feel like it’s settling down. Instead,  I really think God just got started. 2013 was a prologue and I damn can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next act.

So for my annual predictions.

Last year I called: Happy changes. Beautiful friendships (new and old). Fun celebrations. Promises followed through. Adventurous travels. Getting out of the comfort zone. Being invested. Healthy growing up. Lots of love.

And I want to keep all of that. But I’m going to add:

  •  A little growing up. 25 is young; but I can grow.
  •  A graduation.
  •  A stronger family.
  •  A running come-back story.
  •  A giving back to the city I’ve fallen in love with.
  •  Decisiveness.

Decisiveness? You might say. Yes. I think 2014 is going to challenge my confidence in the big decisions. I’m going to need to jump fast and with my whole heart. I’m going to have to know what I want, how I want it, when and where. And I’m going to have to be 100 percent in those big choices.

I want to go with my whole heart.

And if 2013 is any indication, I know I can.

Still alive. Still very alive.

I was sitting in the kitchen last night when my mom asked “Ashley, did you post on your blog today?”

After answering with a “No,” I got the cringing response; “You know it’s been a month, right?”

Oye, nothing like your mom calling you out for being distracted.

Something about being a graduate student in November and December? It’s busy. And not in all of the typical expected ways.

Of course there are the “finals,” which in my case were all final projects. Final packages to film and edit, papers to write and scripts to finish. I had to turn in some final research (eek, which I still need to do). There were students from my TA class with a lot of questions and there were some very busy end-of-semester projects for my graduate assistantship.

That’s all expected and a good excuse, right?

The other intangible part was that there were holidays to prepare for; a month-long trip home to pack and anticipate––and a lot of graduating that called for celebrations.

I remember so vividly early September. Not only did December seem far away, it still seemed imminent. There was an intimidating “older” girl in one of my classes who was set to graduate at the end of the semester. We always ended up sitting next to each other in our class. She seemed nice; but like she knew what she was doing. And since she had already been in Boston a year, I figured she already had friends and she wouldn’t take too much notice of me.

In some ways that made me grateful because she wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder at my mess of an edit job.

Somehow one day I decided to tell her about November Project though. She looked like she appreciated being active and working out. And that’s all it took.

She wanted to come! And it turned out that we had a lot to talk about. Enough so that she invited me to meet her at a birthday party that weekend.

Hmm. Even though Jeanna was 23 (younger than me!); she was getting ready to graduate. And in a REALLY weird way I felt like I was back in high school and an older girl was inviting me to a party––and oh, I felt special.

But I didn’t know anyone.

The kids in my program year hadn’t really hit it off yet. I wasn’t comfortable enough to really force one of them to be a tag-along.

That Saturday night as I had text back and forth with Jeanna, who was asking where I was at, I was skeptical.

I told my roommates, “They’re going to graduate in December. What’s the point? Why make the effort to be friends?”

My roommate Brian made a plausible case, “You never know what kind of connections they could be afterwards! If nothing else, go for that.”

I said if I could find a sidekick I would go. Luckily for me, Erika said she’d meet me there in 15 minutes.

Four months later as I got a little teary writing Jeanna’s graduation card among a stack of others, I thought “Wow. What if I hadn’t gone to that party?”

Maybe things would have turned out quite similar and the next weekend she would have convinced me to come.

Maybe?

Maybe inevitably my friend Alex would’ve gotten to me and forced me to hang out like he’s apt to do.

All I know is that after that night I fairly forced the graduating class to adopt me as a surrogate graduate. I spent all of my weekends with them. I went to all of their celebrations for the end of the semester. And I went through some waves of sadness in the last month realizing that the next two semesters will be very different without them.

Every time my mom would call it seemed that I was on my way to a party. “Are you sure you’re doing school work?!”

I was. But I had to make sure I squeezed in all of my time and congratulations in the midst of that school. Boston has been for graduate school, yes—but turns out that it’s also been for a lot more.

Not to mention, that birthday party? Well it turned out to be Andy’s birthday party. Yeah, that turned out kind of special too.

My life in Boston would only have been a shadow of as awesome if it hadn’t been for those people graduating.

Beautiful Christmas Sweater photo creds to Jeanna.

So, that is why I am so delayed. I’ve been living it up the last month and soaking in every last second before going back to North Carolina.

You know, as the plane landed and I’m walking through the Charlotte terminal, I couldn’t help but feel like it had only been a week that I was gone. A week of a surreal, yet very detailed dream.

It’s just nice to know that it wasn’t. And while for a few weeks that may feel like a parallel life—I’ll try to connect it to North Carolina as best as I can over the holidays.

Man, there’s one heck of a New Year’s post brewing. I can feel it!

More on turkeys, Thanksgiving, the Macy’s Parade and all this love I’m feeling for life soon. But at least now you’re decently on the news.

xxxx.

Turn it up, Monday morning: Mandolin Orange

Week 45: Mandolin Orange

This week I return to my homeland with a North-Carolina based duo, Mandolin Orange, who have been playing together since 2009 out of Chapel Hill. Such a beautiful blend of vocals and string. I feel pretty comfortable classifying them in the bluegrass spectrum, but I don’t think you have to like bluegrass to like Andrew and Emily’s music. “The House of Stone” is their most well known; but you can hear a pretty great cover with Roseanne Cash of “Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow” or, my favorite, “Life On a String.”

I live in a World Series city.

If you turned on a television in the last week, you maybe knew that the Boston Red Sox were playing in the World Series.

If you turned on a television in Boston in the last week, you knew every detail. Without choice.

As an avid baseball fan, one of the reasons that I was most excited to move to Boston was the sports culture. Boston has one of the highest concentrations of professional sports teams–and the idea that I would live less than a mile from one of the most historic ballparks? I was ecstatic.

Mind you, I wasn’t a Red Sox fan though.

Born and bred Braves girl.

Could name all of the players. Knew all the stats. I’ve quite literally been a Braves fan since birth. And Braves fans don’t like the Red Sox.

Total Braves + Atlanta girl at heart.

Then I actually moved to Boston.

And man, am I ever still a tomahawk-chopping crazy; but I found that the Red Sox were pretty fun to cheer for too. It’s a team and a ballpark with incredible history.

I despise the Yankees.

There are at least two players with Braves connections (Saltalamacchia started with the Braves and Stephen Drew’s brother J.D. was an Atlanta favorite).

The American League is totally separate from the National League–I mean, the only time the Braves would be seriously challenged by the Red Sox would be a World Series. And in that case I would, of course, pull for the Braves.

It was decided.

I could be both a Braves and a Red Sox fan.

So I jumped in. Two games (one of which was the crazy AL East clinching game) and a hat later, I decided I was excited.

Roommate + Red Sox Love.

So, when they started making a World Series run–I was pretty captivated.

As a Braves fan, we’re used to the postseason. That’s not very special (for shame, I know). But when there was a pennant and then an actual World Series potential–you had to watch every game. You had to get near Fenway.

On one special night, the Series opener, I went to Fenway to put together an iPhone-captured montage. Phones can do great things these days. It was posted for BU News and while it was great to be outside of Fenway, I really would have loved to be inside.

For some reason, I feel like the city of Boston accepted from the beginning that there was no alternative other than winning the whole thing. I never doubted that they wouldn’t win. It just seemed like a given.

So it was weird joy (I was still wishing it was the Braves) that I wore some support last Wednesday.

I looked super professional that day at work. I blame the "Wear Red Sox gear to work or else" email that I received.

I looked super professional that day at work. I blame the “Wear Red Sox gear to work or else” email that I received.

Instead of watching game six at a bar, we opted for a friend’s who lived practically shouting distance from Fenway. Any of you who watched will know that the game wasn’t that exciting and it was evident early on that Boston was going to close up the series. But there was still a decent excitement in the street.

Given the recent marathon bombings, it seems the city is wary to security in general. It was quite evident with the 50-motorcycle police brigade outside our friend’s apartment. And then again evident with the number of police barricades.

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A night full of blue lights.

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Boston was bursting with Red Sox pride.

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Everyone wanted to get as close as possible. The reward was at least a first-hand view of the fireworks and the sounds of the crowd in Fenway.

IMG_0791

More people, mostly singing. No fights were seen; instead mostly high fives, whoops and hollers; and even some tears.

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Meanwhile, my people were working. Life of a journalist.

We were still able to get out and film a little after the game–and while it was exciting, I was a TINY bit disappointed it wasn’t more crazy.

Still.

Pretty friggin’ awesome baseball season to move to Boston.

Now. 2014, Let’s go Braves.