Another One Bites the Dust – A recap of my last ever Spring Break Pt. 2

Ah, finally getting to the second slightly-less-exciting-but-I-still-actually-did-a-lot half of my Spring Break.

So we flew home from NYC on a red eye and got home in the middle of the night. In my zombie-walk to my bed (also my sickness got in the way there a bit), I’d forgotten to sent an alarm for the morning, which was really fantastic when I woke up on my own. Nice and well-rested. And with a text from my mom reminding me that I was getting my hair cut at 11. Yikees, it was already 10:40! It’s a ten-minute walk or a three-minute drive, so really I just needed to roll out of bed, but still.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I LOVE going to my hairdresser. She’s awesome. I just like talking to her about all the things going on in my life, and she gives me advice about things I should do. She’s been through a lot in life, and she shares her wisdom with me. It’s pretty fantastic.

It was about the laziest day I’d had in such a long time. I got my head massaged and then went home and laid around for HOURS. But wait, then I was off to a Dodger/Angel game! Laziness over, and onto my favorite sport.

There’s just something about fresh grass, evenly laid dirt, and butts in baseball pants that I really enjoy. For obvious reasons. I love going and sitting in those uncomfortable seats and cheering for my favorite team (and a team I generally like) and eating terribly overpriced stadium food. It’s all-American. It’s tradition. It’s so much fun for me.

Too bad a water main broke in the middle of the game, ending it at the fifth inning. ARGGGH. It was such a bummer, but I’m still glad I got to go.

On Wednesday, Michael came for a short visit! We were going to a super-secret movie screening at Warner Brothers. I can’t talk about it, but I will say it was very fun. We got to be a part of a focus group, and it was really cool to sort of have my voice heard for a movie I am so looking forward to. I can’t wait to see it all polished later this year!

On Thursday, I got to see Stephanie for the first time in literally forever. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her, and I don’t want to think about how long it must be because of that. We made breakfast together and then baked cookies for Easter. It was sort of a disaster at first, but it worked out. I think.

She had left the dough in the fridge for too long, so it was solid when we took it out to roll it. So then we tried to defrost it a bit in the microwave (I know, I know), which totally helped! …until it was crumbly. It was definitely a large effort to make these cookies even decent looking. But when they came out of the oven, they didn’t look so bad, which was a plus. We always end up baking when we’re together, and it is always too big of a job for us, either we set the bar too high or too low. It’s fun, for sure, and I love spending time with her, but we should never, ever take up baking as a side job.

I am ONLY allowed to stress bake. Only then does it turn out well.

Matthew came and picked me up from Stephanie’s house around lunchtime. I know, I always seem to switch out Michael for Matthew on breaks when I come home…

I introduced him to my high school best friend and he chatted with us until our cookie debacle was complete. Then I got him some food. We went to a Kings game (Go Kings go!!!) that night. I took him on the subway, which was a win for even me. The tube in London? Hell yes. The subway in New York? With a little effort, sure. But the metro in LA, which I have ridden quite a few times in my life? I get nervous. I was terrified of getting us lost, but we made it! Even managed to help out a few Cal Poly students on their way to the game, too.

Matthew and I shared a margarita (yes, it was my idea), and watched the game from the nosebleeds. I personally like the games from that angle because it’s far easier to keep track of the tiny puck. It makes me a little dizzy sometimes, but it’s not too bad. The loud, obnoxious guy across the isle didn’t exactly make it the best experience, but the Kings won! It was touch and go there for a bit, but they took it back before going into overtime. Both the sleepy Matthew and I were grateful for that.

On Friday, I took him bowling with the family. He is (well he says he is) terrible at it, and I hadn’t been bowling since I took the class Fall Quarter. It took a bit to get back in the hang of it. I did very poorly in the first game and didn’t even break a hundred. Matthew was true to his claims and bowled a sixty-nine (hee hee, yes, I am a child). But the next game, where I still did not do too well, Matthew killed it! I was surprised and very proud. I was mad I wasn’t doing as well as I should have been, but he did great!

Saturday, I made him walk with my parents and me. So many miles! I always want to walk through Toluca Lake because we walk by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s houses, and I love them. Also ninety percent of the houses in that neighborhood are so beautiful, I love to look at them. We went to the famous Bob’s Big Boy for breakfast and finished up the walk home. The pancakes were very fluffy, and gosh, I really want some right now! It’s diner food (though not bad for it) but when you have a craving, you have a craving.

It was generally a lazy day after that, as the past days had been other than the few times we left the house. I got Matthew to nap twice! (Insert evil hee hee here). But then it was off to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before Easter Vigil. It was so good! Usually, I just get a flatbread or a salad or something lame, but this time I got chicken and pasta with mushrooms, bacon, and brussel sprouts, all in a Riesling cream sauce. Oh, wow, I loved it.

And then it was off to Easter Vigil, the longest mass in the Catholic church, pretty much. Matthew had never been a Catholic mass, and I definitely scared him off by taking him to this one. I warned him about the length, the constant sitting and standing, and the abundance of singing in Latin, but it was far more than that. It was a lot more standing than I remembered, and there was a lot more singing in Latin than the big congregational songs. But he couldn’t get out of it, sorry!

I got to see Gracie, so it was all worth it. Sitting next to each other definitely made the mass feel less long and infinitely better. It’s always a joy to see her!

The next morning, we left bright and early so Matthew could get back to San Jose in a timely manner to do chores and shop for groceries, etc. I wasn’t happy with the lack of sleep, but I ended up taking a nap when I got back to SLO anyway.

Sad to see Spring Break go, but excited for my last quarter ever! As I said before, I am generally enjoying my classes a lot so far. Except for when I found out on Tuesday that I have to make a big presentation on Thursday of next week. Eeeep! But the play I am presenting on is wonderful and I am actually looking forward to it. So I guess that is a plus.

Also the fact that I got to see THE MAINE IN SAN LUIS OBISPO last week was UNREAL. I can’t even express how awesome it was. I have to leave it at that because UGH it was so good.

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‘Til next time!

Ash

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Welcome to New York

So I might actually like all my classes this quarter? I mean, it’s the first week, and I always think this–at least, a majority of the time. I’ve written about it often! How hyped I am about my classes for the coming quarter. But this time might be for real. I’m feeling so oddly optimistic about this quarter, and that’s weird. Usually I’m dreading it, despite the appeal of some of my classes. Not this time, which gives me a little hope for fighting my Depression relapse.

Kind of a weird feeling right now…

But anyway, I had such a great Spring Break! Maybe this good feeling is a come down from a fun week away from all my responsibilities? Maybe. Now let me tell you about the fun things I did!

NYC Adventures!

It was cold and windy and wonderful. We got to the city on Saturday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then went off to the Empire State Building. Getting right into it! We walked the few blocks and enjoyed the sights we passed (which was basically just the Macy’s, I guess?), and then had a funny conversation with a ESB security guard who told us how to find the perfect husband. We barely had to wait for the elevator to the 80th floor, and once we were there, we got to see the city from a bird’s-eye view–out some windows. But there was a lot of history about how the building was made, which was pretty interesting, especially for my architecture-loving sister. We took the offer to climb the next six floors instead of waiting for the elevator, and there we were: outside on the deck of the 86th floor of one of the tallest buildings in America.

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I had my sights out for Chuck Bass (sorry, Matthew) because as much into indie films and TV and books as I am, Gossip Girl is my guilty pleasure, among a few others.

We stayed until sunset, which wasn’t long, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Golden hour over the city? Heck yes!! And then we stopped at Macy’s and ate dinner and walked around for a bit. A great first day!

The next morning, when we set out bright and early for Central Park, I was 100% ready to get my picture on the Met steps! We took the subway up to 86th, so we could work our way back down toward our hotel by Times Square, and it let us out right in the Upper East Side. A few blocks over, and voila! The Met. The best part? It was deserted, so my picture was free of tourists. That actually happened quite a bit to us on this trip–whenever we weren’t in Times Square, of course.

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And then we just wandered around the park. ALL over the lower half of it. We hit 10,000 steps before 11 am! It was great. Cold, but still fresh, not too bad. My hands were freezing, but hey, what else is new. I made a few more Gossip Girl references, one Hamilton mention, and partook in some literary photo ops (with Hans Christian Andersen and an Alice in Wonderland statue).

And that was all before lunch! We grabbed some pizza at Rockefeller Center and then returned to the hotel to change and recharge before the show. And then it was all Anastasia all the time.

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Wow, I can’t even put into words how great I thought the show was. The cast was talented and fantastic. They so beautifully told the story I had come to love as a child, with a few changes here and there, obviously. They really brought to life Anya’s story, and it felt incredibly real, even though the story itself (and the conspiracy theory) is fictional. The music? Flawless. The characters? Amazing. The set? Fabulous. Chelsea and I could not stop talking about it when we went to dinner afterwards. That is, after we got over how wildly rude the group behind us was–but I won’t get into that.

The rest of the night was spent wandering under the bright lights of the city. Enough said.

The next morning, I woke up feeling very flu-ish. It was TERRIBLE. Since we couldn’t end up going on the Statue of Liberty tour that day (somewhat poor planning on my part), we slept an extra hour because I really needed it. I still felt pretty bad when we did get up, but we had things to do and sights to see.

The first thing we did was take the subway to the High Line, which is an above ground metro line converted into a green space and walkway. It was pretty cool and really tooted Chelsea’s horn. Right underneath it was Chelsea Market, which my sister needed to check out. It was a MUST, obviously. It wasn’t what I expected, but I still enjoyed it. I thought it would be more like Camden Market, but it was far more trendy and upscale than that. I guess my heart is still in London. But it was pretty cool, and there was a book store where I picked up a fancy card with a fun New York Post cover.

We then walked back down the High Line to where we started, and made our way to Washington Square Park. It’s almost as close to Paris as I’ve ever been. The actual closest was when our train to Belgium (then to Amsterdam) stopped there. But here I got to see a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and not just a station platform, so maybe this was better. I would also say it’s superior to the Eiffel Tower in Vegas, which I also got to see in January. Our next stop was the famous Joe’s Pizza for an authentic New York slice. I have to say, it was pretty damn good, even with my phlegmy congestion clogging my senses.

Next landmark: The 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center. I’d been to this one before! But it was much warmer this time, which was a plus. It is always good to remind myself of such a monumental event that shaped our world and generation in such a massive way. I may have Depression, but I’m still alive and going. I have to be thankful for that, even though sometimes I hate that about myself. I have that choice. It’s a sobering experience, and I appreciate that. I still smiled in our pictures, though, obviously–I mean, they created something beautiful from the tragedy, after all.

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Chelsea and I then stopped at one of those tourist NYC shops for souvenirs for our families. Typical. And then it was off to Battery Park to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from afar. Thankfully, it was a clear day, so we were able to actually see it! Even though it was itty-bitty, it was still pretty cool to see one of the biggest identifiers of our country.

One last glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge, and we were on the subway back to the hotel to pick up our bags and catch the shuttle bus to JFK. I was so tired and yes, I fell asleep on the drive. Our flight had been delayed a bit and we got there very early, so we were going to be stuck at the airport for a while. But it meant we could just hang out and relax after going non-stop for two and a half days. Sick Me needed that.

And then we got delayed again. Our flight ended up being an hour later than it was supposed to be, which really isn’t too bad, but we would be getting back to LAX at 2 am. Not ideal when Chelsea had to work the next day.

Lucky for me, I actually slept for most of the flight and then passed out the moment we got home. I slept and I napped and it was wonderful.

What an awesome trip, and I’m so happy I got to have that experience!

Now, this post ended up being a lot more than I expected, so I’m going to stop it there and just finish my recap in another post. The biggest update is that I’m still sick over a week later, but I think I’m on the mend!

Thanks, as always, for listening to my rambles…

Ash

In Bloom

Finals. They’re over. I’m finally on Spring Break!!

I kind of forgot what it feels like to not be so stressed out all the time. Not to be suffering from constant anxiety every second. I mean, I still have anxiety all the time, but it’s fifty times more manageable now. And on this sunny day, the first in what feels like forever, I feel kind of hopeful. Everything is so green and beautiful. It’s hard not to at least try to put a positive spin on things.

Naturally, I am blogging to you from the train. An Amtrak Surfliner is probably my most blogged location, aside from my bed. It’s kind of comforting, and I’m all but forced to be somewhat productive.

The last two weeks have been difficult to say the least, so I’ve had to take a step back from things. It’s not that I didn’t want to blog, because I did. Writing is such a great stress reliever for me. But I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to dump all my terrible thoughts on you when they were heavily influenced by the Bad Thoughts. I feel like I’ve talked a lot about my relapse, and that’s both freeing and a bit of a burden. It’s hard to admit that you don’t have everything under control, that you’re not handling life as well as you tell people you are.

But sometimes I just have to look out my window and see a bunch of little kids playing what might be their first t-ball game, and I remember that maybe things are okay. Yes, I did just look out my window on the train and see adorable kids in too-big helmets holding too-long baseball bats, but that’s not the point. Good things happen, even when you feel like you’ll never smile again. And they can be little things, like seeing how carefree a six year-old is. Pure and innocent. Those things still exist. That is the point.

Doesn’t mean that as soon as I look away I feel like a weight comes down on me, but we won’t talk about that right now. So much of my weight is gone now, all off my shoulders. I anxiously await for my grades to be posted, but there’s nothing I can do about them now. I did my best and I worked as hard as I could, that’s what matters. And I got through it mostly unscathed! (according to Matthew’s encouraging text messages). I should be proud of that. And I am.

But it’s not always that easy.

That’s okay, though.

I have one quarter left at Cal Poly, the place I’ve called SLOme the last four years. It’s daunting to think about, as always, but I’m excited. It doesn’t seem like the end of the world right now. Of course, my heart just started beating a little bit faster thinking about that, but I’m not having a crisis about it in this moment. I’m excited about so many things in life, so I have to focus on those things.

I’ve been listening to a lot of good music lately, and a good life soundtrack makes all the difference when everything else seems like shit. Shawn Mendes just released two new songs, and they are amazing. I’ve been fangirling, for sure. On top of that I’m going to see my favorite band—a band called The Maine—in a week and a half. The second day of Spring Quarter, what a great way to kick it off! I am so so so excited for it. I can’t believe they are actually doing a show in my little college town, but you know what they say, some dreams come true.

I’m flying to New York tomorrow, and we all know how much I dream about that city. Chelsea and I are going to see Anastasia on Broadway. Broadway! I’ve never been to a Broadway, but I’ve always wanted to. It’s going to be amazing! We are going to freeze our butts off, but it will be worth it. I’ve been missing London so much lately, so spending some time in a big city will give me some much needed good nostalgia.

Yesterday, I wore an ensemble that I hadn’t brought out since being in my favorite city, and I walked to my friend’s apartment with wine in a to-go coffee cup, which we did on more than one occasion in Europe. It made me sad to think about not being there, but I was with good friends who reminded me of why I love being here. Plus, I had just finished my last test, so I had something to be excited about.

For the first time in a long time, I feel good. Not short-term, it’s-the-weekend-I-can-relax-for-a-day good, but I-can-breathe-and-read-for-fun-again good. Yeah, that’s right, I can read for fun again! What can be better than that for a bookworm like me? I can’t help but smile thinking about that. As soon as I am finished writing this, my nose is going right into Lord of the Rings.

I can forever say goodbye to the Winter Quarter-Quarter Life crisis, and that might be the best news. It’s not goodbye to Depression or Bad Thoughts or Anxiety, but it’s a start. All I really needed was———oh, my GOD the hills are alive with GREENNESS on the central coast right now———a start. That is good.

I am good. I am cool. I am calm.

And I’m hungry. So I am going to dip into my snack supply and get to that book of mine. Hooray for having Good Days and Good Thoughts.

Time to SPRAAAANG BREAAAAAK.

Much love, as always, 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