A Reflection from a College Senior

A Reflection from a College Senior

I’m a senior at Georgetown University, or at least, I was.  I guess, I still am for a little under a month more, but somehow, it feels like the chapter has already been closed.  It’s currently the last full week of class and I always imagined that this would one of my most bittersweet moments.  I imagined being a little scared that 18 years of education was finally ending, a little sad about leaving the place that I am so proud to call home, and really excited about everything that was to come.  As you can imagine, that’s not how things actually look.

Just over a month ago, I would have thought my current mind state unimaginable. I sobbed as my car pulled away from Georgetown’s front gates and I took one last look at the place that I love with my entire being.  I knew I’d be back, but I also knew it would never be the same again.  Never again would my entire life be contained within those gates, though it would always be home.  When I arrived home, I broke down again as I saw my graduation robe hanging on my closet door, a painful reminder of the finale I felt was snatched from me.  For days, I found myself staring at walls and breaking down into tears over the parts of my life that I would never have and never get back.  Then, I started to put myself back together– I started to do hobbies, I started to make weekly Zoom and FaceTime plans, I tried to make the best of what I had.

Then, April 4 hit.  For the last 14 months, I had been the outreach chair for a gala that was supposed to be on April 4, but had now been postponed to an unannounced date.  My work with this gala is one of my proudest achievements in college, but this pride only made its absence hurt more.  I spent the day feeling like I was drowning in my own sadness.  I was angry at myself for my own sadness– here in my home state, people are grieving daily for their lost loved ones and I was crying over not being able to put on a pretty dress and go to a fancy party.  Yet, some part of me did believe my grief was valid– I had worked hard and now, while I would be able to eventually see the event come to life, it would no longer be an event in which I had ownership over. It would not be mine.

That’s when it hit me.  The grief I had been experiencing over college ending and every missed event came down to that: it would not be mine anymore.  College wouldn’t be my life anymore.  Georgetown wouldn’t be my place anymore.  The Tombs wouldn’t be my neighborhood bar.  My campus house wouldn’t be mine anymore.  In a split second, it was all gone and in this crazy time we are living in, I felt like I never knew what the world around me would look like when I woke up. I felt like I was losing the very things I held onto for stability: the things I knew that were mine.  Without the institutions and places and physical events to grab onto, life was disorienting, especially in the midst of a pandemic where I fear even going to the grocery store.  Yet this night when I cried and the world felt like it was spinning too fast, I realized I still had so much I was holding onto as my own: I have my amazing and caring family, I have my friends from all parts of my life that lift me up, I have my years of education, I have my memories that could last me a lifetime, I have my faith, and I am blessed to say I have so many communities coming together right now.

Gratitude carried me out of the dark.  And in the light, I could finally truly see the world around me, the world that I used my own sadness to hide from.  I was afraid that if I stopped thinking about myself, I would see a world so decimated by this virus that hope was gone and light was rapidly fading. It was easy to believe this fear in this time of isolation: we cannot see anyone outside of our households, we must cover our faces now with masks when we go outside, and it feels like people have been reduced to numbers in the statistics given during daily briefings.  Fear is fair in this time, but when I looked out, I saw so much hope.  I saw so many good people doing great, extraordinary acts everywhere I looked from people organizing fundraisers to aid those in need to my neighbors coming together for a drive-by thank you salute daily at our local hospital to those using whatever talents, skills, or abilities they had to try to bring joy into people’s lives.  I even think to the small act of receiving a simple text from a friend saying hello and staying connected during this time and I see hope and grace in them.

I have found that when you allow yourself to see hope, you don’t end up brought back in by the sadness.  The sadness tricks you, it makes you think that everything is lost, but when you look up, you realize the sadness was lying to you the whole time.  Things are so so far from perfect right now, but there is still good to be found.  And while I may still wish I got to have all the milestone events that accompany the end of one’s college career, I’m just grateful that I got to be part of so much good and that I get to walk away from this university having gained so much.  I’m grateful that my family, my friends, and myself continue to be healthy and that we are blessed with wonderful people all around us.

I want to end this with some of Kate Tempest’s words, for I think she describes my feelings and this moment best:

“Even when I’m weak and I’m breaking,

I’ll stand weeping at the train station

‘Cause I can see your faces

There is so much peace to be found in people’s faces.”

 

“More Empathy

Less greed

More Respect

All I’ve got to say has already been said

I mean, you heard it from yourself

When you were lying in your bed and couldn’t sleep

Thinking couldn’t we be doing this

Differently?”

My Fall Bucket List

My Fall Bucket List

Summer took a long time to say its goodbyes this year, as the high heats continued for all of September.  This weekend, the temperatures have finally started to drop and I am so happy to trade in my sundresses for my sweaters.  I’m home in New York this weekend and am able to celebrate the beginning of fall in my favorite way: picking pumpkins and eating apple cider donuts.  No matter where I buy my apple cider donut from, the first bite brings me back to being a kid apple picking with my family on an orchard. We would spend hours picking four huge bags of apples, and before we could head home, we would always stop at the orchard store to each get a warm apple cider donut.  It was always the perfect ending to some of my favorite days.  

This year, it looks like I won’t be able to go apple picking in New England like usual, but that doesn’t mean I am looking any less forward to fall.  I thought it would be fun to put together a bucket list of activities for me to do this fall and I thought I would make it as a fun graphic so everyone can join in on the fun!

My Fall Bucket List!-5

The Magic of the Movies

The Magic of the Movies

This blog started out as a self-care resource and as I look back, I’m shocked that I never shared my favorite self-care activity: going to the movies.  I know the whole spiel about how the movie theaters are dying out, thanks to streaming services, but to me, the movie theater is one of the most magical places in the world.  There’s nothing quite like the lights dimming and for a brief few hours, there is nothing in the world except the story you are being shown on the screen. It’s being swept away and you feel everything with no buffers– it’s happiness, it’s sadness, it’s terror, and it’s love.  The music bellows around you and you’re not you anymore, all that matters is the adventure on screen.

 

It’s similar to that feeling I used to get as a young kid reading a great book– everything drifted away as the words circled around me, forming a new world.  As I got older, distractions came in and when I sit down with a book, I still feel the vibration of my phone, the sounds of the world around me on the metro, and the thoughts that never stop running through my head.  The movie theater is special to me because it takes out all those distractions. I turn my phone off, I sit in the silent theater, and my thoughts focus in on the story that encompasses all my senses. It’s the one spot in the world that I truly feel I can disconnect and when life gets overwhelming or I feel a bit alone, the movie theater is the first place you can find me.  It’s magic.

 

To honor my love for the movies, I thought I would share my four of my favorite movies of all time, though this list (other than number one) is constantly changing and my favorite quote from each.

 

  1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s 

 

Favorite line: The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long; you’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.

 

  1. You’ve Got Mail

Favorite line: “Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

 

  1. Begin Again

Favorite line: “Absolutely! That’s when the magic happens.”

  1. 13 Going on 30

Favorite line: “You don’t always get the dream house, but sometimes you get pretty close, you know?”

 

My Favorite Spots in DC

My Favorite Spots in DC

3 summers ago, I made my first move to Washington, DC and began to call this wonderful city home.  Like any major city, there’s plenty of spots everyone tells you that you have to make it to you and I will say, DC’s tourist spots are wonderful, but I think there are so many spots that people miss and overlook when they come to this area and they truly miss some of the wonder that DC has to offer. I’m giving a little insight into my favorite places in the city and some of the places I’m hoping to make it to very soon.

My favorite spots:

  • The Kennedy Center. I missed out on this spot for far too long and I had NO idea what I was missing.  Seeing a show in the opera house transports you back to a time of old Hollywood glamour.  The views from this place are also unbeatable. It is a spot that many people skip over, but making time even just to check out the rooftop is so worth it– you can see the monuments, Virginia, and my favorite area, Georgetown.

IMG_9201.jpg

 

  • See the monuments at night.  If you’re in DC, you definitely have the monuments on your must-see list but if you’re only seeing them during day, you are missing out on some of DC’s prettiest sights.  There’s such a special feeling to the monuments at night and I think it is one of the most calming sights. It is worth checking out.
  • The Portrait Gallery.  The Portrait Gallery is off the path of the National Mall, but it is one of the best Smithsonians DC has to offer.  Seeing the portraits of every President throughout the year is an amazing and engaging way to get to see a part of America’s history.

IMG_2774.jpg

 

Places I want to visit:

  • Dumbarton Oaks.  Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in Georgetown that I have been meaning to visit for years, but haven’t made my way to yet.  It is an absolutely gorgeous house and grounds and I really hope to get the chance to explore it this summer.

 

  • The Wharf.  The wharf is on most people’s list of places to visit in DC, but with its distance from Georgetown, I have never gotten myself down there.  It is a spot that I think has so much life and culture (and views) and I really want to see this fun area.
  • Old Town, Alexandria.  Though not DC proper, Alexandria is a spot I really want to check out.  Coming from a small town, I always love getting to explore spots that remind me of home.  I’m hoping to make a trip to Alexandria this holiday season to join in the festivities there.

 

DC is such a fun city and there are so many places to check out!  These are just a few of my absolute favorite places and the places on my always growing wish list.  What are some of your favorite DC spots?

 

Take a Break

Take a Break

You make your plans and life makes other ones for you.  

I had no intentions of taking a social media break at all this summer.  I blogged while on vacation and was planning to start my job, settle into my new place, and keep going with the blog as usual.  Life didn’t think that was the best plan for me and I decided to follow that cue: I took a two week break from my blog and Instagram.  

The break happened naturally– I would sit down to write, but I didn’t have the words or energy to say anything.  To put it simply, I was experiencing complete burn out. I blogged through the school year, finals, and then my vacation.  I felt like I was blogging because I had to, but I didn’t feel like I was creating content I was truly proud of. I felt like I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t being a service and I was a bit lost from my own personal mission statement of serving others, as my mind focused more and more on growth and following.

So, when life got busy and the words escaped me, a break felt like the exact move I needed to take.  And, not having social media did make a difference. I could take more effort to settling into my new house and new job.  I could spend time with friends and be fully in the moment, not thinking about my posting schedule. And the amazing part was that during this break, I felt my creativity skyrocket again.  I constantly was having ideas for blog posts and Instagram photos and stories. I felt like I could see why I started blogging again: to share my life in the hopes of helping someone else.

So, I recommend taking a break every once in a while.  In a culture that praises hustling and hard work, taking a break feels almost impossible.  But, when you push yourself constantly, you burn out. You need the break to recharge and find your direction again.  You might find yourself feeling better than you ever did at the end of it.

 

Exploring Southern California: Studio Tours (Part Three)

Exploring Southern California: Studio Tours (Part Three)

A little known fact about me is that I am a bit of a movie junkie.  I absolutely love going to the movies and I basically live for Oscar season.  For this reason, I was SO excited to go to LA and have the opportunity to tour the studios where magic happens.  I had the opportunity to go on three different studio tours: Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Brothers.  I enjoyed each of these tours. Here’s the details and differences of each one:

Sony Pictures: This tour definitely takes a more historic approach, which I was very excited about as entertainment history is what I want to specialize in.  The tour begins with a video and a stop to the Sony Pictures museum, which includes the Seinfeld set and various costumes and props used in movies like the Spiderman films.  We learned about how this lot came to be Sony Pictures and the history of both MGM and Columbia Pictures. The lot is formerly MGM’s but unfortunately, the studio sold off many of its sets, props, and costumes when it hit financial difficulties and it is unknown where these items ended up.  The lot does still have many small details that honor this past– the office buildings, which were once apartments for the stars, are named after the stars who lived in the buildings (my favorite to see was the Hepburn Building, named for Katharine Hepburn, who I am named after– my mom is also a huge movie fan).  The next stop on the tour was the Jeopardy! Set.  The set was much larger than I had ever imagined and I was able to take a picture at one of the previous podiums.  Next, we visited the set of The Goldbergs.  Seeing this set was so cool, as it is such a unique set and show, with much of the decorations being from the creator’s actual home.  Finally, we walked the backlot and saw many of the cars used in films, including the cars from Ghostbusters. This studio felt the most like a working studio and if you’re lucky, you might even get a celebrity sighting! I would definitely recommend this tour, especially if you are interested in entertainment history and the old golden age of Hollywood.

NOTE: This is a 2-hour walking tour.

Universal Studios: This tour is located within the theme park Universal Studios: Hollywood and feels much more like a ride than the other two tours.  You board a very large tour bus and begin to go through the backlot of Universal. We visited the streets of New York first before going into our first piece of immersion: a 3D King Kong experience meant to demonstrate the power of special effects.  I was a bit disappointed here to find that this experience was simply a snippet of the King Kong ride located in Universal Studios in Orlando. We drove by some of the famous cars used in film, before going to Little Mexico where movie rain and flooding was demonstrated to us.  We saw a set for Jaws, which was not used for Jaws but rather Murder, She Wrote, before seeing a backlot for a scene of Jurassic Park.  We drove down the road where town scenes are filmed and continued to Whoville.  The buildings in Whoville are actually made of styrofoam to get the weird shapes!  We also saw the sets for Bates Motel and the destroyed plane in War of the Worlds.  The ride ends with taking you through another 3D experience: the Fast and Furious ride (it is a replica of the Orlando version).  This was the shortest tour we took, being an hour long, and was the most ride-like.

Warner Brothers: This tour is part walking and part driving cart, a combination of the other two we took.  We started by seeing a cabin that has been used in True Blood and Hart of Dixie.  I am a big Hart of Dixie fan and was amazed at how they transformed this cabin into the beloved Rammer Jammer.  Next, we visited the part I was most excited for: Midwest. Midwest is used to represent any town and can famously be recognized as Bluebell in Hart of Dixie, Rosewood in Pretty Little Liars, and my personal favorite, Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls.  We got to get off and walk around here, going into the inside of Lorelai Gilmore’s house (spoiler: it’s also Sookie’s house) and seeing how they used these houses to film.  We also saw the house used for Fuller House here and the streets used for the Jersey scenes of Jersey Boys.  Next, we visited the streets of New York followed by a prop museum.  This museum held props from Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Harry Potter, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We also got to see the Batmobiles throughout the years.  The guided tour ends and you enter an interactive area where you get to learn about filmmaking.  Here, you can see costumes from the new A Star is Born, take a picture on the set of Friends, and hold an Oscar.  This was the longest tour we took, clocking in at 3 hours. I really enjoyed this tour and would definitely recommend it, especially for younger girls, as many of the sets you see are aimed at this age group.

Overall, I enjoyed each of the tours.  I would recommend trying to check them all out but if you are pressed for time, I would definitely do either the Sony or Warner Brothers tour.  Both of these give great insight into the behind-the-scenes magic that occurs on the movies.

 

Exploring Southern California: Part One

Exploring Southern California: Part One

With the school year finished and my internship not starting until the beginning of June, I had some rare free time.  This summer, I am filling this otherwise dead time with a trip to Los Angeles. I am so excited about this trip and to share little snippets of my day both here and on Instagram.  I love to travel and I have always wanted to get to know the West Coast better, so I am loving the opportunity to travel and see all that this area has to offer.

Day One: Travel Day!

Call me weird, but I always get SO excited for long flights because I love getting to disconnect and catch up on movies.  I am a total movie junkie, so six hours on a plane just watching movies is the best to me. This time, I watched Mary, Queen of Scots, I Feel Pretty, and Smallfoot.  Mary, Queen of Scots is one of my favorite historical figures and Saorise Ronan is one of my favorite actresses so I was thrilled to finally get to watch this movie! If you’re a European history lover, I would recommend it, but if not, it might not be your type of movie.

After getting into LAX, we picked up our luggage and rental car and drove a little over an hour to our hotel, Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas.  We checked in, dropped off our luggage, and went out for dinner at Sol Mexican Cocina.  I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant!  We had shrimp taquitos for our appetizer and I got the chicken street tacos as my entree and they were AMAZING.  Our waitress was so kind and even gave us a dessert, which was so tasty I never even had time for a photo. We are making plans to get back to this restaurant asap.  After dinner, we returned to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

Day Two: The Richard Nixon Library & Museum and Exploring the Resort

I am a total history nerd and that is about to show through SO much.  One of my biggest bucket list items is I want to visit every Presidential Library in my lifetime.  Before this trip, I had visited the libraries of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Franklin Roosevelt.  When my dad pointed out that we would be near Richard Nixon’s Presidential Library this trip, I jumped at the chance to go and mark another Presidential Library off my list.

The library was truly fascinating.  I’ve studied Richard Nixon numerous times in classes, but I had never taken such an intensive look at him.  The library also really dives into Watergate, which I appreciated and found so interesting. My favorite part though was exploring the outdoor grounds.  Pat Nixon’s rose gardens are so beautiful, I kept stopping to look at every flower we passed. We also got to tour the house outside that Richard Nixon was born in and spent his early childhood in, which was a really cool and unique experience.  While this library was not my favorite of the libraries I’ve toured so far, I truly did enjoy it and loved the opportunity to learn about Richard Nixon from a perspective I haven’t had before.

After we finished the library, we stopped at Blaze Pizza for a quick lunch and then went back to our hotel.  It was too beautiful a day to stay inside, so we went out to explore the resort grounds a bit more. This place is so gorgeous, with views of the Pacific everywhere (including our room balcony!).  Everywhere on these grounds is stunning and I am truly in love with the resort and with the beauty of California.

Afterwards, we went for a late dinner at Reunion Kitchen + Drink in Laguna Beach.  I’ll be honest– I was mostly excited about this spot because I watched every episode of Laguna Beach and the Hills when I was in high school as a guilty pleasure.  Getting to go to the town where it all started, even if just for a restaurant, was super exciting. The food also was amazing at this restaurant, which was a wonderful end to a great first full day here in California.

Day 3: The San Diego Zoo

It has been about fifteen years since I last went to San Diego, so you could say my memories of the zoo and the city were pretty murky.  I did remember seeing pandas here, so you could say I was slightly disappointed today when I found out that the San Diego Zoo no longer has any giant pandas.  Despite this set back, we had a lovely day at the zoo!

Fun Fact: The San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia.  I was SO excited to get to see the koalas and they were so adorable. They don’t do much, as they sleep approximately 22 hours a day, but they look like teddy bears when they sleep.  I could have spent hours just watching them.


After the zoo, we drove back to Newport Coast and grabbed dinner and called it an earlier night than we have been having.  Tomorrow, we are continuing our adventures and heading to Beverly Hills and yes… I will be singing this song the entire day.