Application Season

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So unfortunately, it is time for me to begin the process I have been dreading since Senior year: applying for a proper adult job.

See, I got out of adulting by going to grad school. I lived in student housing, had a part-time job and kept telling myself that I’d worry about getting a job once I had another degree. And who knew? maybe I’d end up with another degree or in law school…

Then when the end was near and I couldn’t hide behind the safety net that academia had provided me for the past five years, I panicked. I was running out of time to write a dissertation, apply for jobs, see London, say goodbye to friends. Adulthood was only a few weeks away and it felt like it had crept up on me when I was looking the other direction.

So I began a frantic wave of applications, sending out as many as I felt qualified to handle. Cover letters added stress to the final edits of my dissertation and moving out. I sent out application after application for internships and fellowships and jobs, rarely receiving a response back whether positive or negative.

Finally as I was beginning to panic, I got an internship. It was unpaid, but it was an internship. And it was somewhere exciting and new and relevant to the paths I was considering pursuing. It seemed like the perfect way to push-off adulthood for another semester.

But that semester is coming to an end. I am almost out of the appropriate timeframe for thinking about life in terms of semesters. And I have no idea what’s coming next.

This is my procrastination. I should be bragging about how clever and interesting I am in twenty cover letters or rewording a description about working with three-year olds for four summers to better apply my resume to a position in foreign affairs, but it’s just so difficult.

Times running out and the idea of leaving this internship with no future prospects is terrifying, but adulting is hard.

Maybe I’ll take Hemingway’s advice and write drunk before editing sober (but then I’d be hungover for work the next day). Or maybe I’ll just wait for my mom to take pity on me and help me write these daunting documents that could decide whether or not I end up with a job in the next few months.

Or maybe I’ll just put off adulting for one more year and apply to another Master’s…

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Five Favorite Things: Best (Free) Things About DC

Five Favorites, Hometown, Travel

There’s about a thousand and one things you could do in Washington, D.C. on any given day. So I’m picking my five seven favorite things (okay, I’m cheating a bit at this… can you blame me?!) to do in the nation’s capital.

First stop, the zoo. The Smithsonian National Zoo is located in Woodley Park, accessible by Metro, but a bit out of the tourist zone that is D.C. in the summer. The zoo is incredible, emphasizing research and the welfare and survival of the animals in its care. The work done by the national zoo is saving species from extinction with the largest group of conservation biologists in the world. And they let you visit, for free! You can wander by and see the pandas (D.C. is a bit obsessed with the pandas and each birth is a huge celebration for the survival of the species — plus they’re cute) or the elephants or just about any animal that your heart desires. Locals stop by the zoo during their lunch breaks or jog past the animals for their afternoon run.

If you’re in the area, Rock Creek Park is a cool stop. (My favorite part about Rock Creek Park is the parkway which switches to one direction at rush hour and let’s me pretend I’m British, but that’s just me.) We won’t count this as one of my official five, but if you’re sick of the city, you can almost escape into the 1,754 acre park in the middle of it all. There’s paths for hiking, walking, wandering, or horseback riding, plus events year round.

Another spot worth visiting is hidden behind the White House. The Renwick Gallery became Insta-famous a few years ago and is one of my favorite smaller museums in the city. It’s part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which means there is no fee to enter, but unlike some of the bigger Smithsonian art museums, it showcases a small, rotating collection of art pieces that are larger than life. Literally. Most of the art on display fills a room. So each time you pass through a doorway, you walk into a totally different, immersive experience. Stop by on a weekday or during non-tourist season and you’ll have rooms to yourself.

If you’re looking for some politics in the political capital of the United States, I will give in and add one spot to the list for you: The United States Capitol. (Please note that it is spelled with an o.) The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center provides tours of the legislative building with some history and some fun facts mixed in. The tours are free, but you’ll want to book a spot in advance if you’re visiting during tourist season.

Since you’re on the Mall, you’re probably thinking I’ll just go wander around and see all the monuments. And then you’ll start walking and you’ll be sweating and tired within minutes, surrounded by tour groups. To avoid this, follow my handy-dandy tip: visit at night. Though there will still be folks out and about at night, the National Mall clears out quite a bit when the sun goes down. You’ll be cooler (not that humidity will go down at all — sorry, it’s a swamp!) and you can take your time before you turn into a lobster. The monuments are all lit up at night from the World War II memorial to the Lincoln Memorial and down to the Tidal Basin to visit the Jefferson and the new(ish) Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

Now my last few (counting them as one!) suggestions aren’t really in the city, but they’re close enough! Hop on across the river to stop number one: Teddy Roosevelt Island. Another place good for a wander. Take a path through the “natural forest”, pop your head through the trees to spot Georgetown’s Waterfront, and pretend you’re far from a major city until you hear an airplane up above.

Which brings us to our next stop: Gravelly Point. A park located just next to National Airport where you can bring a picnic and hang out while airports land over your head. It’s part of the GW Parkway, which may be my favorite place to drive in the metropolitan area, which you can follow along to down to Mount Vernon. It’s the best during fall when all the leaves have changed.

So, that’s my top five (ish) things to do in DC. All can be accomplished in a day, if you’re speedy. I’m sure now that I’m home I’ll have a hundred more recommendations and lists popping up, but these are my quick recommendations.

What’s your favorite (free) place to visit in the DC area?

Binging/Bingeing

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I binge. I watch hours of the same television show multiple days in a row, and then I forget about it for months. I read the same book from start to finish, and then I go weeks without even reading a magazine article. I devour YouTube videos locked away in my room, and then I completely move on.

It’s not that I lose interest or something else comes along, but my brain prefers to scoop up all the information or entertainment that it can before shifting focus.

It’s the same with writing.

When I first started a blog, I thought I would write weekly. I needed to get all my feelings about traveling out to the masses at weekly intervals so that they would be both satisfied and not overwhelmed. But then I myself became overwhelmed.

I moved home. I got an internship, working 9 to 5 everyday and commuting 2 hours everyday. I didn’t have time to come home and reminisce on the travels I was fortune enough to experience years ago. My focus was on staying calm as I dealt with regular social interaction on a daily basis, while also taking on the stress of what I’ll be doing after the New Year (I’m an introvert, through and through. I recharge by being alone, which is something of a challenge when working in a social office and then living with your parents.).

All this stress and cover letter writing, and the month of September flew by, and here comes November. Last year, I completed National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Over the month of November 2017, I wrote 50,000 words of a “novel”. It was a rough, rough draft, much of it simply the result of brain dumps that vaguely related to a topic. I haven’t looked at it since, but I enjoyed the sensation of finally giving in to what I had been thinking about writing for years. It was on paper (well, on a word document, but same thing) and not written on scraps of paper (well, iPhone notes, but same thing) fluttering about.

It was probably not my best idea, as I was also in the middle of a Master’s and was stressed enough without an additional burden. But that was always my excuse. NaNoWriMo is every year, every November. There would always be something to keep me from writing.

So as I sit here on my semi-abandoned blog debating whether I will be too stressed/busy/overwhelmed/social to write 50,000 words of a “novel” this year, I can’t help but think this would be a good binge. Write 50,000 words in a month and then take a few months off. But at least I’ll’ve caught that focus before my attention went elsewhere.

P.S. Is it binging or bingeing? I can’t decide since neither looks quite right. If you have any input on this debate, I’d appreciate it. ktnks.

Manspreading and Other Public Transportation Woes

Travel

I’m sure you’ve experienced it. You’re sitting on public transportation, probably sweating and hoping you’re not sitting in some wet substance that’ll stain the back of your pants. The doors open to the next stop and twelve hundred people get on. You, being a conscientious public transportation rider, pull your bags onto your lap and tuck your elbows in, taking up as little space as possible. You’re not comfortable, per say, but you’re not squished.

And that’s when it happens. The passenger next to you either puts their bag between their legs (rather than on their lap) or is trying to air out their inner thighs. Whatever their reasoning, suddenly their legs are spread beyond two parallel lines and what little space you had is now taken up by the manspread.

I should note that women are guilty of this takeover of any and all space, but men are definitely the worst offenders. What makes you think that I want to feel your leg pushed up against mine on the hottest day of the year? What makes you think that your comfort is more important than my right to a personal bubble?

Now I get it, sometimes it’s inevitable. The tube is absolutely packed so your armpit is right at my face level as I try not to flail all over the place. Or we’re all pushed up against the door trying to squeeze two people more onto the traincar between this station and the next. But come on. Spreading your legs out is just unnecessary. (And no this is not a promotion of that weird Russian “activist” who decided to spray bleach on manspreaders.)

You know, I’m actually okay with you manspreading or crossing your leg or putting your bag on the seat next to you, but when the bus/train/metro/etc is full, or someone is sitting right next to you, make yourself tiny please.

This rant on manspreading in public transportation comes after three-ish weeks of traveling by metro in DC. And my problem with metroing to my internship has almost never been with the super crowded four stops on my commute, but instead with the jerks who exist on the metro on the six or so half-crowded stops.

I’ve begun to collect complaints that I would like to share with you now:

One. If you are riding the metro with a friend/co-worker/family member, there is no reason you should not sit next to each other. Do not take up two rows or sit across the aisle from each other and shout over your fellow passengers.

Two. Wear deodorant. Even if it’s not a super humid day, public transportation is smelly enough without your armpit sweat adding to the mix. (Also, please don’t drown yourself in perfume or body spray or cologne. There is such a thing as too much.)

Three. Playing music through your headphones is polite, but if I can hear the entirety of the playlist from across the train, maybe turn it down a dial or two. Your ears will thank you later.

Four. If the seat is empty, you are not required to take it. However, move the heck out of the way. Standing directly in front of an empty seat is worse than taking it from someone who might need it.

Five. Take your backpack off. I have an ongoing theory that three things make people into automatic assholes: backpacks, suitcases, and umbrellas. Fortunately, the last few weeks have been rainy so I’ve been smacked by many a careless umbrella user. I also happen to pass an airport on my commute, so I’ve been tripped up by plenty of lost tourists and self-important businessmen. But backpacks just piss me off. When folks are wearing them, they don’t always remember they’re there and they’ll swing ’em around, pushing people, taking up valuable space, and smacking you with all the random straps that tend to hang off them.

Six. Stop standing directly in front of the door to the train. If you’re in the way, I can’t get off. Now, over the years, I have lost any fear about using my shoulders/elbows/body to push people out of my way, but good golly, why’re you blocking the door? Step to the side!

Seven. You walk on the left of the escalator, you stand on the right. If you’ve got stairs or a broken escalator (which let’s be honest. Just about every escalator in the DC Metro system is broken), why do you feel the need to push past the people standing on the escalator? You have alternatives! Use them!

Eight. If a kid gets on the train, stand up and give them your chair. If you sit in the “priority seating”, you better look up at every stop to see if someone needs your seat. My Metro ride is maybe forty minutes and as much as I would like to kick my feet up and relax, you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll pop right up if you need my spot.

Nine. If you take one of the free newspapers, take it with you. Metro stations have special recycling bins for newspapers now. Don’t just leave it on the seat for me to have to push on the floor or to the other seat. I didn’t take one because I don’t want the responsibility, why the heck should I have to deal with your leftovers?

Ten. (And my last one, for now.) You are never more important than the other people on the car. You are one of thousands of people trying to get from point A to point B. Everyone’s got a journey. Be kind. Be patient. Don’t manspread.

Naptown

Travel

When deciding where I wanted to attend college, I had a few requirements: it had to be the right size (the 5,000 to 10,000 student mark), I had to be able to study abroad at least once, it needed to be nationally recognizable, it had to have the programs I thought I would be pursuing, and most importantly it had to be far away from home.

Not that I don’t love D.C. and my family, but I was ready to get moving. I looked at schools in the South and in California, hoping for warm weather. As I crossed off schools and applied, I had one last addition, suggested by my mom thanks to my aunt’s recommendation: Butler University.

butlerI applied on a whim, and waited to hear back from the eleven schools on my list. Because I had a brother who had gone through the process three years prior, I had seen quite a few colleges. Our family vacations for a few years there were hopping from one college tour to another, some more successful than others. I had seen just about every college from Maine to Alabama. I think we counted it to be about 60 in total, by the time I was waiting on acceptances and wait lists and rejections.

That spring, I had three choices: one less known but in California, one even less known in Texas, and a Midwest school famous for its underdog basketball team.

My senior year spring break was spent looking at the only two colleges I had not visited yet. My father and I hopped a flight to San Antonio and spent three days exploring and visiting a school there. Then for the last chunk of my senior year spring break, I went to the one school I was not anticipating liking at all.

I recall that my tour at Butler was relatively unforgettable, but afterwards as I sat in the car reading the pamphlets I had collected. I laughed at how few non-Midwesterns went to the school and double checked that they had the programs I was interested in. My mom swears that car ride was when she knew I would be going to Butler. Apparently, I had a smile on my face that she hadn’t seen after any of the other visits.

The next month, I pulled a Rory Gilmore and made a pro/con list for my two final choices. The reasons came out about the same, so my mom sent me to the family room to ask my brother the question that made my choice for me. Have you ever heard of these two schools?

The first school shared a name with another school more popular with local college searches, but otherwise struck no cord in my brother’s memory. But Butler he knew. They had a basketball team that made it to the Final Four and defined the term ‘underdawg‘. It was enough for an East Coaster to recognize the school. If he knew the school, someone else outside of Indiana might know as well. (And that looked good for my future post-grad plans.)

So I made my choice and in August of 2013, I moved to Indianapolis. The city had a reputation as Naptown, the kind of snooze fest only broken up by the most redneck of sports: the Indy 500.indy

Fortunately, the city is growing. Over my three years in Indy, I found lots of things to love about the city and my school. I got involved (which you should do when you go anywhere new!) and started exploring this new place. I volunteered in the local community, I took classes that opened my eyes to a whole new world, I jumped at every chance to travel for class credits, I met people from literally all over the world, and I crossed more and more places from my Indiana to-do list.

I fell in love with the IMA (which is literally just around the corner from Butler). I ran around downtown and Mass Ave. I saw the Nutcracker and Kesha and lecture series in Clowes Hall. I explored the zoo (which is really nice, if you were curious). And while I never made it to the Indy 500, I saw my fair share of sports in Indy, both at Butler and in the city.

But Butler Basketball has a special place in my heart, and I will cheer for them whenever I can (whether that’s in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse or in D.C. with my family). It’s the reason I went to Butler.

Bags over Boxes

Travel

They say travel changes you. And in many ways it can, opening your mind to new cultures and new perspectives, pulling you out of your comfort zone, feeding you new ideas and cuisines. Oftentimes, I don’t see how much its changed me until I get home and settle in for a bit.

One of the stranger parts of traveling is that it has made me a more of a minimalist. (Yes, my mother would laugh at this based on the amount of stuff I have sitting in my childhood bedroom and the amount of stuff she is helping me haul home from London.) But honestly, when you’re planning to move away in six months time or a year, your mindset changes.

You start to ask yourself a lot of new questions like, If it can’t fit in my carry-on, is it really worth it? or Will I ever really use this? or Can this be squished and smushed and still look alright on the other side?

As the last few weeks have been filled with people moving in for college or around the world, I found myself thinking about how five years ago when I packed for college, everything was in boxes and hard containers. The only limitations to my storage was what could be fit in the car on the drive to orientation. My mother, the queen of car Tetris, could make anything fit. The same was true for my second year of college: boxes rained supreme.

It wasn’t until I hopped a plane to Australia that I realized that boxes do not travel well on twenty-something hour-long flight routes. So I began to favor bags and softer containment units. All of those beauty bags that had been collected over the years suddenly had a use. One was for electronics, the other for medicine, another for makeup, one more for haircare, yet another for jewelry, another for miscellaneous things that you always need but that don’t really fit any sort of categorization system. All these tiny bags could be smushed down to fit into the corner of my suitcase or the front pocket of my carry-on in ways that a box just couldn’t. And with that restriction, less things were brought along.

I kept the preference for bags on my semester in Sweden, as I had similar limitations. My travels around Europe continued this, as the question was always Will this fit Ryannair carry-on restrictions? Instead of a specialized outfit for each day, I had to think about which pieces matched multiple items and wouldn’t look wrinkled upon arrival. Some things just didn’t make the cut.

My senior year of undergrad, I was so used to constantly being on the move that it just stuck. It seemed strange to use a box when a bag would work just perfectly. By the time I moved to London, it was second nature to favor bags over boxes.

As I pack up my bags once more for the move home, it would be hard to ignore the other ways that travel has changed me: I’m more independent, I reflect more, I don’t waste time on things that make me unhappy, I make lists and cross things off only to write a new list, I enjoy sitting back and watching people interact, and at the end of the day, my life could fit into a couple of bags within the weight limit of Icelandair’s checked baggage restrictions (I hope).

Notting Hill

london, Travel

As my time in London comes to an end, I’ve been running around trying to fit in adventures between library sessions. My window to cross things off my London to do list is getting smaller and smaller, so I took a (well-needed) break from the library on what was meant to be a sunny Saturday to head to Notting Hill for a wander.

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Initially my day was going to be a solo adventure (like my search for Wisteria), but my need for outside motivation meant that previous attempts to make it to Notting Hill had been limited to searches on Pinterest and a snoozed alarm clock. To get me moving, I invited a friend to breakfast at Drake and Morgan in King’s Cross before my walk. The day was dreary enough that I could justify a mocha with breakfast.

After, I managed to convince my friend to join me on my adventure, partly to help me take pictures, but also to have a nice chat. (He’d previously joined me on a walk to Primrose Hill, so I knew he’d be interested.)

We hopped the Circle line from King’s Cross to Ladbroke Grove with the idea being to avoid the massive crowds that seem attracted to Notting Hill Gate station. It worked and we were able to make our way up and down Notting Hill without having to fight for our space on the sidewalk.39871962_1991677651124066_1200271706569048064_n

I kept pointing out cute houses painted in pastels and my friend had no interest, but I loved it. Notting Hill is cute, cute, cute. We walked and we chatted and I pointed towards brightly colored doors and mini gardens tucked into corners and stairwells, dreaming of sneaking a peek inside the homes.

By the time we hit Holland Park Avenue and the Notting Hill Gate tube station, we were looking for some more snacks. Fortunately, Portobello Road and Market were just around the corner.

Because it was Saturday, the streets were packed with people and stalls. Music played from bars and vintage shops and food stalls. My personal favorite part was a man playing Dua Lipa on a steel drum. We wandered up the road, peeking into shops and people watching, snapping photos.

39917129_2135476983439104_9064656317909565440_nBy the time we hit the end of the stalls, we were ready for a nap. So we made our way back towards Ladbroke Grove and struggled not to snooze on the train.

Did this adventure write my dissertation? No. But I have a feeling I’ll look back fondly on our wanders, rather than regret spending a day on an adventure.