I Put a Spell on You

It’s the spookiest time of year, folks!! October is upon us, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not only is Halloween one of my favorite holidays, but it’s also one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer! And in a few weeks’ time, catch me singing the first verse of “English Girls” by the Maine over and over. Mostly wishing I was in London in mid-October, like the song says. Like I so happily was last year.

But I digress.

Since it is Halloween time–aka the best time–I’ve been thinking about all the spooky, scary, and suspenseful movies I love watching this time of year. These movies either make me jumpy with (the good kind of) anxiety or nostalgic in the best kind of way. So here is my stockpile of movies I’ll be watching this month! And then throughout the rest of the year to fill the void.

Hocus Pocus

This is a classic!!

Yes, it’s a Disney movie, but it’s the perfect balance of spooky and funny, and with the all-star cast of the Sanderson sisters and the super-cute leading man, you can’t go wrong. Bette Midler, you get me!

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Halloweentown (and sequels)

Okay, okay, so it’s Disney Channel, (not quite as good as regular Disney) but it’s when DCOMs were the best movies to look forward to! I always think it would be fabulous to live in a town where it was Halloween all the time. With witches and goblins and trolls, there’s no end to excitement.

To quote Marnie, “Halloween is cool.” I couldn’t agree more!

The Nightmare before Christmas

So this is a crossover between Christmas and Halloween, but Jack Skellington is one of the most iconic Halloween figures of all time. Like the previous movie on this list, Jack lives in a world where it is Halloween all the time. I mean, he grows tired of it and decides to take over Christmas, but that’s not the point. The point is that Tim Burton knows how to successfully create a world that is dark yet humorous.

Sleepy Hollow

Calling on Tim Burton again, and Johnny Depp, of course, comes the tale of the Headless Horseman. It’s suspenseful, mysterious, old-timey, and um, hello, Johnny Depp. And Christina Ricci–one of my favorites. Like most movies on this list, there is a twist at the end that makes it worth the watch. And I just can’t say no to a period drama.

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The Others

This is, by far, one of my favorite movies. It was my mom’s favorite growing up, and she rented it at Blockbuster (remember those days??) for my friend and me to watch in our horror-movie-phase. It stars Nicole Kidman as an over-protective, religious mother living with her two children in an estate in the middle of nowhere. When her daughter starts claiming to see ghosts in the house, tearing down the curtains so needed for these children who are allergic to the sun, and the new housekeepers and gardener act suspiciously, the suspense almost becomes too much to bear! It still freaks me out to watch. If you like suspense thrillers, this one is for you.

The Awakening

Not based on the book I read in high school, thankfully, this film gets me in the suspense department, as well. It’s about a young woman who’s made a career of debunking seances, proving that these grieving people are wasting their money on a farce. She gets a request to investigate a “ghost” at an all-boys prep school in the country and takes the job. The only other woman on the property is an elderly housekeeper woman, played by Imelda Staunton aka Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series. Don’t let that shy you away from this movie, though! You’ll find she has some out-of-whack viewpoints in this one as well. It’s decent as far as movies go, but it does a solid job of keeping you on your toes with a pretty great twist.

The Addams Family

And the sequels for this one, as well. I love this dark and twisted family, the way many of their beliefs are reversed and how they feel about death. Wednesday Addams is one of my favorite characters of all time! She is dry and cynical and pretty badass. I love when their baby brother is born and they try all kinds of outrageous ways to get rid of him, failing miserably each time. It’s entertaining. Or maybe I just have a dark and twisted mind? Maybe.

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It’s still a must-watch!

Caspar

And coming in hot for another one is Christina Ricci! This movie still gets me every time: a spooky house, a sweet little ghost, three obnoxious uncles, and Bill Pullman. You can’t go wrong! This movie always freaked me out for a long time, but I watched it every year anyway. I couldn’t get over how cute Devon Sawa (as human Caspar) was. I still can’t get over it, to be honest. That blonde hair, blue-eyed, sweet boy…hm, sounds a bit like someone else I know. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve picked up on the humor and this movie has only grown more sentimental in my heart.

Also getting honorable mention here is Caspar and Wendy. I love little Hillary Duff!

The Haunted Mansion

Because it’s Eddie Murphy, Disney, and it has a cool added backstory. Oh, and a creepy villain!

Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, and tragedy, the perfect mix for my Friday nights. So this isn’t a scary or suspenseful movie and it doesn’t involved witches, ghosts, or goblins, but it belongs on this list. It has that darkness of a Tim Burton film, with a protagonist who is lonely, uncared for, and has scissors for hands, with a pang of love and love lost. And it leaves me a bit jumpy and anxious at times, as many movies of the season do.

Honorable mentions: Beetlejuice, Poltergeist, Friday the 13th, Zombieland, and that one episode of Boy Meets World that still gives me the heebie-jeebies! (Season 5, episode 17, to be specific).

Oh, and IT—can’t forget my new favorite movie!!!

These are just my favorites and recommendations. There are plenty of other scary and suspenseful movies to sink you teeth into this October. I suggest Freeform’s 13 Nights of Halloween for ideas.

I’m so excited for this time of the year! I wish it would last longer than just this month, but with my friends, I know it will last all year.

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I’m going to see Matthew this weekend and he has a scary movie for us to watch together. Maybe it’ll make the next edition. We’ll just have to see!

Happy October, everyone! May your month be spooky and candy-filled and wonderful!

-Ash

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The Last Time

Senior year of college…it’s a pretty scary place to be. Exciting, sure. But still scary. Four years ago when I started my senior year of high school, I was beyond anxious to get through it and get out of there. I couldn’t wait to start life over in college. Now, I’m dreading June. I’ve had the time of my life in college, and moving on from this place and really putting myself out in the world is frightening.

I’m trying to think of a movie or TV show that prepared me for this moment and I’m coming up short. They all skip this part!

Maybe that’s a good thing. That way I can figure this out without any unrealistic expectations sprung on my by Zac Efron or Jennifer Lawrence, ya know?

So far, I’ve unsuccessfully crashed a class, successfully crashed two (one of which was bowling–I know, I know, but it’s fun and I need that), went through the grueling process of recruitment for the last time, and felt more like an old person because of my hips and back than ever before. But it’s been an experience.

My recruitment experiences have gone: freshman rushee, sophomore recruiter, junior traveler, and senior RC. I’m glad I got to experience it in so many different ways.

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Going through recruitment as a freshman was exhausting and exciting and a bit stressful. But I had a completely open mind, having known absolutely nothing about Greek life other than what I’d seen in film and TV, and ended up in an organization that I love with incredible people. Sophomore year was even more exhausting because I had to do the whole process again while walking up hills in sky-high heels. Okay, okay, they were wedges, but it was still tough! Long days with little sleep and minimal food. And girl-flirting. SO. MUCH. GIRL-FLIRTING. But it was still a fun experience and I got to bond a lot with my pledge class. I’m so much closer to them than I thought possible. My third year, I escaped the heat and sore feet by jet-setting to London. You all know how I don’t regret that one bit. It’s been a whole year since I first stepped in that wonderful city!! And since I’ve met four people that completely changed my life. Did I miss recruitment? Not a bit. Did I miss the bonding time? Definitely. Was it worth it? You know the answer to that.

This year I decided to be a recruitment counselor, which meant I got a group of rushees and coached them through this experience. It was cool to see the other houses recruitments, since it’d been so long since I’d last seen any of them, and to get to talk to my girls about their own thoughts. I didn’t get to see them too much throughout the day, since I was stationed at a specific house, but I loved getting to chat with them at the end of the night. To check in with them and see how they were feeling about everything. So many of them had such different views about it than I did, but I so much enjoyed getting to chat with them about that. They’re all such wonderful young women and I can’t wait to see how they grow in their new homes (and out of them, for the ones who withdrew from the process).

I also got to be a part of a group of RCs–blue is our color! At first, there was awkwardness, as there typically is in a new group, but after seeing each other every day during meetings, we started to grow closer. The second day of recruitment, when we were all stationed at a certain house for almost the whole day, we really sealed the bond as friends: we made a snapchat group! They are honestly such amazing and strong women and I love them all, as well. I was so stressed out and emotional all weekend (I cried quite a bit) and they were right there to comfort me and make sure I was okay. Spending so much time together gave them a special place in my heart. It’s been two days, but I miss them so much already!

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I wouldn’t take back anything that I’ve done over the last four years, recruitment or otherwise. So many people say that Greek life isn’t for them, or that they aren’t “sorority girls.” It’s completely understandable, but also, have you met me??? I’m definitely not a typical sorority girl. But I love my house.

I joined Greek life because I thought it would give me that bond of friendship, a purpose I cared about, and opportunities to make great memories. It’s given me all of those things and more. I’ve met my best friends and bridesmaids! (Okay now, I’m sounding like a srat star…)

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It’s so much more than people give it credit for. After my God-awful high school experience–my life experience with depression and an eating disorder and anxiety…It’s given me such a loving and accepting environment to live my life in. I’m a stronger and more empowered person because of these people. They make me less afraid of post-college life. Ya know, when I won’t be watching The Office and eating truffle-salted popcorn with people I refer to as my Frat Rats. Or my Spookies.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be doing that with them for the rest of my life. (Just less often…)

It might be too early to tell at this point, but senior year isn’t going so badly. Yes, I’m already a bit behind on my readings, I’m stressing out about sharing my writing with other people who want to be writers, and worrying about how my skills in poetry are still terrible. But like I said, I have bowling to diffuse that! And regular calls to Matthew to calm me down, of course. He’s so wonderful!!

This is my last hurrah at Cal Poly, a school that has changed my life forever, and I’m determined to make the absolute best of it. I just still can’t believe the person I’ve grown up into over the last few years. This ride has been insane.

-Ash

I don’t know about you…

…but I’m feeling 22.

Yup, I turned 22 this week, and being that a few of my friends aren’t even 21 yet, it’s safe to say I am kind of a grandmother. Instead of going downtown and dancing the night away, I stay in at night to watch TV or read a book (or 12).

Of course, there is usually wine involved, but that’s beside the point.

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We all know (or rather, you know if you’ve been around the blog long enough) that I really care about birthdays, especially mine. Every year that I’ve made it past middle school and high school is a year to celebrate. Even though I’ve come such a long way in my recovery, I’m still shocked that every time August 14th rolls around, I’m here to experience it. Kinda crazy, huh?

So much has happened to me in the last year, and I’m incredibly grateful for all of it. I studied abroad and had the time of my life–as if you didn’t know that already. I had a rough transition back to normal life, but I got through it. I started dating a pretty fantastic guy. I quit my job and got another that allowed me more time to read and write. I finished Book 2 and have started research and notes on Book 3. It’s been both the shortest and quickest year of my life.

And now I’m 22 and I feel like I’m supposed to be an adult. I didn’t go out the night of my birthday, other than a few drinks at dinner; I stayed home and watched a chick flick (Miss Congeniality, a classic). I woke up and remembered about all the responsibilities I have, like school. I completely forgot that school starts in a month. I have prep for recruitment and my classes and whatnot. Senior year is about to begin, and that will be followed by graduation. And then the real real world.

I have learned a lot in my 22 years on this planet, and I know I’ll continue learning and growing. Obviously that’s cliche, but that’s what this life is for me: growing up and figuring it all out. And for once I feel like I might not be failing at that latter part. Still totally freaking out about the future, but I’m confident that I’ll be happy.

I am excited for the year ahead. And all the wine I’m going to drink. I got a lot of it for my birthday–and not the less-than-fancy Barefoot I always pick up at Campus Bottle.

I know soon my birthdays are going to be something to dread. You know how adults get when kids ask them how old they are–wait, I am and adult now, too–but that’s not me yet. Maybe in three years when I can no longer say I’m in my early twenties. I still feel like a kid sometimes. A little naive. When I was younger I used to think I’d have my life more together by now. I mean, I have a nice job (though, it’s no career), I’m in a pretty serious relationship, and I’m happy. I hoped I would have those things, but they’ve only just recently kind of fallen into place. I guess that’s kind of lucky.

Cal Poly and SLO and college in general has kind of been like a dream, compared to the hell high school was for me, at least. I feel like I can do anything. Maybe I actually believe that now, too.

So catch my twenty-second year being filled with books, writing, wine, and indie movies. Oh, and school.

Thanks for riding this rollercoaster with me.

Ash

Something Special

I’ve been coming to Bass Lake my entire life (save for a few summers in high school and college), and I have a million memories. The last two years on morning walks, my mom has pointed out just about every house we’ve stayed in throughout the years–even the ones from when she and my dad first got married.

I remember a lot of them by little memories from when we stayed there. Like one house right on the main road, I remember being there a long, long time ago because that was the year our parents decided to let us get a sugary cereal at the store–Lucky Charms, to be exact–and my brother ate all the marshmallows out of it, so we were stuck with just the cereal bits. I know, how rude!

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One year, there was a big thunderstorm that ruined part of our fun-filled week. Mitchell, Chelsea, and I were sleeping in this little room with two sets of bunk beds. It was early in the morning–since none of us knew how to sleep in back then–and we were listening to the rain and thunder. It was the first time I’d ever experienced a storm like this, and I was afraid. Somehow, to take away from the fear, we pretended that a thunderstorm only meant that there was a big bowling party going on in heaven. We would listen for the thunder, which meant that the bowling ball had knocked down the pins, and then wait for the lightning. One flash meant that it was a spare and two mean it was a strike (because a spare is represented by one slash and a strike by an X, for those of you who don’t bowl). It was backwards, since the lightning comes first and the thunder second, but we didn’t know that as kids. It made us less afraid, and that’s what mattered.

Even now, I think about that memory whenever there’s a thunderstorm.

But I remember things like wearing my sleeping bag as a dress and sliding down the falls and seeing a shooting star for the first time. Bug bites and sunburns and lake water. If it’s not a bathing suit, I’m not wearing it. If it’s not junk food, I’m not eating it (except now in my life when I’m craving vegetables all the time–seriously, who am I?). And it’s not a real week at the lake without watching Shark Week–or being constantly caked in sunscreen, lake water, and dirt.

Here, I’m carefree.

The real world doesn’t matter at the lake. It’s like I’m in my own little bubble–a blissful bubble. The memories I have mean nothing without the feelings that come with them. I’m home when I’m here. I’m loved and happy and complete.

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I come home with a bag of cute clothes, unworn. Untouched, actually. I live in my swimsuit while I’m here, and nothing else. My face gets a break from any kind of make up. And as uncomfortable as I can be with my body, I’m perfectly content walking around in my bikini and a t-shirt. Not even my body image issues can touch me at the lake. It’s a very special place.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to go this year, with all the traveling I’ve been doing this summer. I thought I would have to work, and my job is not always something I can ask for time off from (which isn’t a problem, since it’s all during the week). But lo and behold, fate worked it’s magic, and I got to spend four and a half days in my favorite place. Once I got a whiff of pine and lake water, all the not-so-good things on my mind faded away and the only thing I had to stress about was remembering not to fall asleep in the sun without reapplying sunscreen.

Like I said, the outside world doesn’t exist.

On top of this freedom, I get to see Edie! It has been over a year since I last saw my built-in best friend, and I have (tragically) not been able to make it out to visit her in Arizona like the rest of my siblings have. I remember when two weeks without each other was an eternity. A year is far too long. And now we’re both 21 and can finally hit a happy hour together–although, as a wise t-shirt at the surf shop says, it’s always 5 o’clock at the lake. And honestly, there’s no hour I’m not happy, so it works both ways. I’m extra happy to hang out with Edie.

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I know I’ll have to face the real world as soon as the pine trees disappear from view, but I don’t mind it too much. I know I’ll be back. I always dreamed about living at Bass Lake forever, and sometimes that dream still creeps up on me, no matter how much I grow up. Across the street from the house we’ve been renting lives a couple named Kenny and Ginger. They used to rent out their house (to us sometimes), but when they remodeled it a few years back, they live in it mostly full-time. I hope I end up like them–in a big beautiful house on the lake, watching the sun set over the hills and playing Cards Against Humanity with the vacationers.

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No place has felt more like home to me than Bass Lake except maybe London. It gives me hope and faith and safety. It’s like stepping into a perfect world.

Until next time…

Ash

[Queen] of the Weekend

I expected to have a pretty laid back and boring summer this year. I had a nice, easy job, my friends were around, and I started, like, three Netflix shows as soon as finals were over. We’re closing in on the end of July now, and I can definitely say I was wrong.

I’ve spent almost every weekend this summer in a different place: Burbank, San Diego, San Francisco…and when I’ve been in SLO, I’ve been a busy bee.

Matthew (remember that boyfriend I mentioned before? yeah, that’s him) came to visit me for a whole week over the Fourth of July. The next weekend I was in Burbank–mostly to get my haircut. I love my hairdresser and always get a great chat when I see her. That was followed by a weekend in San Diego for Country Fest (which honestly is whole other story in itself *insert eye rolls here*), with a stop in Santa Barbara on Sunday to see my cousins from Massachusetts and to steal some brownies I knew my mom would bring. Last weekend I took my first real trip to San Francisco (well, Santa Clara really) to visit Matthew, and then this weekend I’m off to Bass Lake. Exciting and exhausting stuff, here.

I want to talk about that first real trip to SF for a bit though. Because, yes, it was my first. Wait, you mean I’ve lived smack dab in the middle of LA and SF for three years and I’ve still only been to one of them? Yeah, that’s right.

Well, I went once when I was three because my aunt and uncle were living there at the time. Do I remember anything? Not at all. Then when Natalie lived in the bay, I flew up to surprise her for her birthday, and we took BART into Union Square for the afternoon. And we took a boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge. But that’s it. So when I got the chance to visit Matthew for the weekend before he started his new adult job and he suggested we spend a whole day in the city, I couldn’t say no.

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#tbt am I right????

So Thursday afternoon I drove my little car up to Santa Clara and got to Matthew’s before dinner time. He lives in a tiny little studio right next to the university, and it was easy enough to find. It was small and quaint and perfect for my low-maintance boyfriend. And that’s kind of how the night went: low-maintenance. Matthew cooked dinner and we watched some TV. We had to have an early start the next morning so it was an early night for us.

The next morning Matthew and I took the CalTrain into the city for a full day of exploring. We started at Matthew’s all-time favorite sandwich place–and I have to say it was pretty darn good. And much needed for the day ahead. We did typical touristy things like seeing the seals on Pier 39 and playing games at the antique arcade. The arcade was like stepping back in time, and it reminded me of The Princess Diaries movie because of the arm wrestling machine. Then we went to Ghirardelli Square and got a root beer float, which was delicious. Up next was the famous Lombard Street, which is the zigzag road. It was up a hill and my hip was unhappy with all the walking so we just looked on from the distance. It was enough.

The day was mostly spent walking, but the few breaks were worth it. Matthew took me to a really cool book store and Chinatown, and then we sat in Union Square for a while. He wanted a cliche picture in front of the heart statue. I gave him some crap for it, but I wanted one too. Natalie and I took a picture there all those years ago, so why wouldn’t I want another?

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Got to be honest, it was pretty cute. Maybe not as cute as Natalie and me, but ya know.

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After seeing Union Square, it was time to meet Matthew’s brother, Reed, for drinks before the Giants game (uh, yeah, trust me, that wasn’t my decision). But it was fun to hear emabrrassing things about Matthew. Plus, Reed took some good pictures of us that were Insta-worthy. I didn’t even mind third-wheeling the two of them. And while the Giants were doing very well in the first half of the game, the Padres ended up winning.

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Peep the Angels hat 😉

My hip had started to hurt around Chinatown, and by the time we were climbing to our seats at AT&T Park, it was pretty bad. I mean, I could walk, but it was fairly painful. An hour and a half train ride back to Santa Clara sounded like the perfect solution–only I sat sideways so I could talk to Matthew and that hurt it even more. I had a limp!! Finding a good sleeping position was incredibly rough, but I would be fine by the morning. I wanted to tour the Winchester House the next day, after all.

When I woke up it still hurt a lot, but I didn’t want to give up my plans. So I stretched a little in the morning, Matthew made pancakes, and we watched a little more TV until we were ready to actually get going. Until I could fake it enough with my hip pain. And really, it wasn’t that bad.

Touring the house was really cool. I’ve been wanting to go for years, and Matthew living less than ten minutes away was the perfect excuse. Everything was so old and confusing and maze-like. There were regular stairs and shallow risers and tight spaces and secret doors. It was hot, for sure, and there were some slightly obnoxious poeple on our tour, but I thought it was pretty great, all the history and everything. We all know how much I like history.

I’m going to do some research about it and then hopefully go another time with Chelsea. Maybe with less people. I joked that I was going to save up and reserve all the spots in one tour so I can’t be bothered. And because I hate people. (Kidding, mostly).

But after the tour, we ate dinner at Pluto’s and saw a movie. War for the Planet of Apes was not the movie I was expecting. I saw the first one in this trilogy at Steph’s a long time ago, and missed the second one coming out altogether. But Matthew wanted to see this one, so I was game. I actually really enjoyed it. Some stress and a little anxiety (not the bad kind), but I was very entertained. And now I feel like I need to watch the second movie. Maybe the first one again too because of James Franco.

I was supposed to leave later on Sunday, but I didn’t want to drive home in the dark, which would have been the whole second half of the trip. Self-sabotage, I’d say, so I could have one more day with Matthew. He started his job on Monday and I worked at 1:30, so I had to leave relatively early. Worth the slight time-crunch to not have to worry about driving at night.

All in all it was a great weekend, and I’m glad I got to get away–even though I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’m happy I got to finally see San Francisco, and that I got to see it with one of my favorite people. Even with the hip pain.

Now my blog is three years old, I’m on my way to Bass Lake for a lazy weekend, and I’m pretty blissful–yeah, I said it. Things are pretty good right now.

1,095 days and counting…

xx Ash