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

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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.

Enough radio silence; checking in from BOS.

Yikes, it’s mid-October.

How the heck did that happen? I look down from green trees and 80-degree weather; look back up and it’s back to my Canadian slippers, hot tea, fog and orange skies. New England fall is happening in full blast and it is one of the most beautiful seasons of time and life that I could hope for.

New England fall is not so different from North Carolina mountain fall. They’re both gorgeous.

There’s something about the fall foliage next to the water here though that makes it different and more distinctively Boston. I’ve taken 7.52 billion instagram photos in the last two weeks on any given commute to and from my apartment. A few of the better ones in an album that could be titled “Brookline is THE prettiest:”

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Ok, not my neighborhood — just kind of near it on the Charles River. Too pretty to not include though.

The past three weeks have been a seeming blur in some ways. School is picking up and it’s really hard to feel like you’re staying ahead of the ball. I’m kind of running alongside and look away every few seconds in hopes that I’m keeping up. School schedules are rough! At the same time though, the past three weeks have felt like three months. In a great way. It’s just funny how free time has transcended from time that I would spend alone exploring or catching up into time that I use to hang out with new friends or already have fifteen social things scheduled.

In extremely happy social news. Katie came to visit. My first hometown visitor! I tried to play tour guide to my best ability and I think that I did a decent job. We basically walked and ate our way around Boston. From Fenway to Cambridge, Brookline to the North End, we had a lot of food (and somehow missed lobster!? next time!). It was funny to me how overwhelmingly excited I was as I waited to see her at the airport. It felt like it had been far longer than a month and a half since I had seen her. Definitely one of my happier reunions.

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Roommate Sarah + Katie + Me at Eastern Standard.

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Me + Katie at JFK’s home in my neighborhood.

I think I wore her out sufficiently. From eating and traipsing around, it was kind of a joyfully exhausting long weekend. I think the best investment I made in her visit was a reservation for us to go on a lighthouse tour Saturday morning.

The weather ended up being beautiful and we had the BEST time. We were sure that we’d be the only two under 65 (and it wasn’t that far off) but the boat trip was just such a crazy gorgeous, unique way to see the city and some sites. Definitely a recommendation to visitors. It doesn’t even cost that much. Through LivingSocial (which is always doing deals) we went on an almost-two hour cruise for $10 a piece.

Long Island Lighthouse

Boston Lighthouse.

Graves Lighthouse.

Boston from the water.

Katie + Me.

I also took her to our first BU hockey game.

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Man, Boston University gets riled up about hockey. It was awesomely different from what I’m used to.

One of my favorite things about my decision to come to BU is that the experience is so vastly different than what I had for undergraduate. You can forget football and tailgating; small town and conservative tradition. Nope, here you have city streets and hockey.

It was a great weekend of best-friend time and also showing Katie the new life here. I was really grateful that she got to meet a lot of my friends and really see what Boston has become for me.

Love this girl. 22ish years of friendship.

After spending a weekend off the map with Katie, it was a busy week getting together school items throughout the week that followed. Luckily, just as exhaustion was kicking in–so did a long holiday weekend.

(Thank you, Boston for your old puritanical ways and proximity to Canada.)

We had Columbus Day off yesterday.

That meant a weekend full of laziness in the best way.

Chinatown for the first time Friday night.

Saturday was full of college football and friends and my first Canadian Thanksgiving. (Wish I had more photos. I swear though, no turkey means it wasn’t really Thanksgiving.)

Sunday was full of NFL. I got to go to my first Patriots game, thanks to Andy. It was freaking awesome. You take a train way outside the city; they drop you in the middle of the woods. After hiking in it seems like you’re in a stadium in the middle of nowhere.

Gillette Stadium.

It was pretty interesting to compare the Panthers stadium experience to the Patriots one. Gillette Stadium is just so huge. Our view was excellent though and the game? The game was incredible. Gives me goosebumps thinking about how much I love sports.

That night was followed by an awesome Red Sox game that we were able to catch on TV.

With such an amazing Boston comeback sports night, Monday seemed like the entire city had called the day on sports celebration–even though it was a regularly scheduled holiday.

It’s been a crazy few weeks; but it’s just because I’m keeping life wonderfully full. Here’s to doing better in 25 and posting more updates more frequently so that when I do–you don’t have to read a novella.

Happy “Monday,” friends.

Currently:

Reading: Barbara Walter’s autobiography “Audition.” It’s a long read, but I’m trying to steam through and finish. Need to cross it off to give room for “Run Like a Girl” from Ms. SincerelyLily.

Look at Barbara being fierce.

Watching: “Rules of Engagement” I have no shame. It’s such a non-committal watch. No attention and you still get some laughs. (And I’m even an anti-David Spade fan.)

Obsessing: Homegirl has chiggers. Don’t google it. But just know that the past few days have been a tad itchy. It totally takes me back to days as a kid wandering around in the woods. Or the weeks I spent in college hiking the Appalachian Trail with Wilderness Trail. You usually brought home some remnants of these annoying little bugs. Clear polish is out in full force.

Wanting: To be able to work out on a full schedule. I’m having to rest up again because of some exertion I already know is coming this weekend. Sigh! But every day without pain is a step forward. Full into week 8 of 20 for recovery! 12 left : )

Eating: Breakfast for dinner. Faaaavorite. A hint to my exertion this upcoming weekend? I’m having to eat through my fridge. That means, eggs? Milk? Turkey bacon? Frozen biscuits? Hmmm, how can I get rid of these tonight? Lumme some breakfast for any meal of the day.

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Fearing: Logistics for the next six weeks. News is upcoming, but suffice to say in the meantime I’m saying prayers that pieces come together the way that they’re supposed to! (Or rather, the way that causes me the least stress : ) )

Pleeease don't let a variation of this happen.

Pleeease don’t let a variation of this happen.

Missing: My bestie Michelle. I seriously typically see this best friend once every other month or so. It’s been since MARCH. And I’m in a panic I may not see her again soon. Fingers crossed for a somehow arrange reunion.

Hoping: To donate a LOT of under-used books, clothes and homewares this week. I’ve done a massive clean and assessment and this girl has really culled back her belongings. Quality over quantity, right!?

Accepting: That what I thought is true: People who want to be in your life? They’ll be there. People who don’t care will fade away. So happy and thankful for the wonderful friends and family I’m so blessed with. Dag, I’m a lucky girl. And the rest, can help me simplify the other parts of my life : ) Acceptance embraced.

A lot of chapters in transition!

A lot of chapters in transition!

Savannah Summer Kick-Off (Delayed).

I remember when I would be on summer break from school as soon as I had seen the first week of break end, the reality would hit that I only had a FEW weeks and I needed to savor it before school crept back onto the calendar. I would do the silent week tally in my head with each passing weekend. And I always dreaded the “halfway mark” just simply because then it became a literal countdown. You had less time left than you had already spent.

I do the same thing when I’m on vacation.

“Oh no, it’s Wednesday. We only have half of the trip left. Bummer.”

I’m weird. I need to not start focusing so quickly on what’s happening weeks ahead––but it’s just my nature.

So in the meantime, I try to take advantage of appreciating what’s happened so far this summer and make sure that I keep enjoying every second of sunshine in the meantime that I can.

This summer has been crazy. Crazy busy. Crazy unexpected. And crazy fast!

It seems just like yesterday that we were spending Memorial Day at the pool being lazy and playing water volleyball. Making new friends. And looking forward to three full months of post-work and weekend recreation.

That said, I realize now the “summer things” that I’ve meant to post about are getting further and further in the rear-view mirror. Have to post! I’ll try to do all my catch-ups this week and first give you a picture of the (surprisingly) only vacation yet this summer!

SAVANNAH.

A reunion three years in the making with some of my closest girl friends from being a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. Aren’t we presh? It is no small feat to stay mediocrely cute when it’s 98% humidity, just saying.

 

These girls came into my life my junior year in college. I was already flexing my usual overachiever ways by taking full honors class loads (I think I was still a triple major at the time, man I’m a nerd) on top of some reporting internships and working as an editor on the college newspaper. Teaching children’s church at Cornerstone Summit. But, that wasn’t enough, duh.

So I decided to join the group of ladies colonizing a new fraternity at Appalachian State.

My perception had been that girls in Greek life lived for their organization. I already had a life. I was a busy girl with a lot of focus on doing what I needed to do to graduate successfully, get a good job, spend time with good friends that I already had. But I had room for more.

Joining the colonization of AOII at our campus was one of my best decisions. These ladies were dedicated to the values and principles of our organization (which were values I already held dear), but what made us so strong was that all of us were like me: we all things we were focused on fostering outside of Greek life too. In the photo below you have amazing academics, incredible musicians, wonderful teachers, smart businesswomen and marketers, writers and advertisers. Yeah, all in one photo : ) We weren’t all buttoned-up and professional all weekend though.

Coming from all over the East, and having not seen each other in 3 years, meant that there was a lot to catch up on. We traveled to Savannah, Ga. from all over. A handful from all over North Carolina, one from Nebraska, one from Connecticut and one from Florida. Dedication.

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There was celebrating. (An engagement! A graduation! A birthday! And a lot of other upcoming life changes to celebrate.)

There was sightseeing.

And beaching.  (Aren’t our visors super fly?)

Some sororities have bigs & littles. Well, AOII does too. But since we colonized we had to have twins instead. Here’s me and mine, Brandie. So special. Out of (I think) around 50 (i think? omg, how big was our colonizing class….now I don’t know…) girls, we picked each other. Handing in a piece of paper with the name of our twin preference. Yup, I picked her. She picked me. Soul mates.

LOTS of eating. (And some drinking, maybe.)

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There was running. (Yup, this is from that last run. Sad times.) And morning coffees.

And consequentially, there was embracing the “no make-up” moments. (So nice to have friends who understand the need to run on vacation!)

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There was a lot of smiling.

Whole lot of smiling.

And even more laughing.

But, I guess at the end of the day — it was just a lot of love : )

Later this week, I’ll make sure to share about how awesome Winston-Salem is in the summer; how some of us really know how to throw a kickin’ baby shower; how Brooke and I are experts at country music concerts and how I feel like I am living every day of the past few months to it’s very, very fullest.