Life in the Fast Lane

WHAT A WILD WEEK.

I am currently sitting at the airport in Minneapolis, waiting for my flight home. My anxiety is high because of the meetings I have tomorrow–yeah, I have meetings! Can’t really tell ya anymore about that, but I’m pretty stoked about it. But after five days in the car, seeing both the most boring and most beautiful sights across the western half of the United States, I’m ready for anything.

Let me walk you through–or should I say drive you through–my week…

Monday

Amy, my favorite adventuring buddy, moved out of her apartment in SLO (forever!!) and drove down to Burbank to meet me. We went to Universal Studios for a very successful half day of movie magic excursions. Really all we wanted to see was Harry Potter World and the studio tour, but we walked around a lot and did a few other things. Overall, it was fun, and a great start to our road trip.

Tuesday

At a reasonable morning hour, Amy and I set out for Utah. It was going to be a fairly long drive, but I was ready for it. It was crazy that the only traffic we hit was in Las Vegas, when usually, I feel like I’m always in traffic in LA. But this drive was no LA, just lots and lots of land.

We didn’t stop in Vegas because of the traffic (and a dust storm we saw on the other side of the freeway), so we powered through to a bit outside the city, where we stopped for lunch. With one more stop a bit closer to our destination for food and gas, we finally made it our first stop: Zion National Park!

I’d never been to Utah before, so I was excited to check another state off my list. Plus, I got to see some amazing views while I was there. We didn’t do much that first evening except check out the gift shop and get dinner, but I could already tell what a beautiful morning we were going to have the next day. The view from our room alone was pretty great.

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Even though it was a million and ten degrees and not much cooler at night, it was a nice evening. We drank a bit of wine and watched the stars. You could see so many out there! Which wasn’t surprising, but still awesome. There were so many deer out on the lawn too. There was also the bit of adrenaline that comes with starting a new adventure in my bones.

Wednesday

We had an early start so we could hike a bit and then get on the road at a reasonable hour. The Emerald Pools hike was recommended to us by Amy’s mom, by the guidebook, and by my friend Lauren who also happened to be in Zion at the same time as us, so we decided that was our best bet.

Luckily, it was more of a walk to the lower and middle pools, which was great. It was going to be a hundred degree day, so a minimal effort trail was perfect. We also got splashed a bit from the waterfall, and that made all the difference.

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The upper pool was pretty close, but it was a bit more uphill. We had time, though, so we thought, “Why not?” Well, let me tell you, it was not what I was expecting. It was rocky with a decently steep incline. And it was hot. Unlike the leisurely walk we had just done, this was like hiking Bishop Peak in SLO–essentially large rocky stairs. But it was only .3 miles according to the sign, we told ourselves. I am panting just thinking about how long it actually seemed. I thought we would never make it, but alas, there it was! It was pretty crowded, though, so we hung back in the shade, where we could sit on the rocks and just relax for a bit.

The view on the way there and back though? Now that was awesome. It looked like a painting. I couldn’t believe that a river formed those red rock mountains. So vast and beautiful. Just…wow. I definitely want to go back and check out more trails–but I will go more prepared next time. And maybe not during the summer.

We were on the road by one and off to the next place: Grand Junction, CO. We made it in time to have a late dinner at a cute diner, where we got free pie! And there was a pool and hot tub, which was the most needed thing after our hike. What. A. Day.

Thursday

This day was mostly a driving day. Our destination was Cheyenne, WY, which, as cute as it was, was just…not a destination. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

We left pretty early, and soon we were in the Rocky Mountains, something I’ve definitely always wanted to see up close. Let me tell you, it was pretty wild! They were gorgeous, and I couldn’t believe how green they were. Anything green outside of the months of March through early May seems fake to me, a Southern California native. But wow.

We stopped in Vail, CO, and I could tell immediately when getting out of the car how dehydrated I was. I didn’t drink too much water so that we wouldn’t have to stop too many times, but it really hit me when we got to a town where the elevation was over 8,000 feet. I was winded going up one flight of stairs in the parking lot! But the village was so cute and I loved seeing it. All the shops were so Northern European, and it reminded me a bit of Solvang (tiny village near SLO). We hit a few gift shops and sat by the river, but ultimately it was just a pit stop on the way. Worth it, though.

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Eventually, we made it to Cheyenne, which is the largest city in Wyoming. I use the term “city” lightly because it was really more of a town. It had a cute downtown and a depot by the train station, but nearly everything was closed by 6–a bummer considering we got there at 6:30. But still, Amy and I managed to have a really good time, thanks to our slightly obnoxious, dry humor. In good heart, we did make fun of it a little, but truly it was a cute place. Not a destination (unless you went for Frontier Days, a huge rodeo/state faire-esque event), but it was for sure a very cute stop. Top of the list of places I didn’t think I would like at all but actually really enjoyed. I just have to go a but earlier in the day, ya know? So I can catch all the antique stores before they close.

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Friday

And it was off to South Dakota! We left pretty early for the drive to the Black Hills, and by early afternoon, we were looking at the stone faces of four of our great presidents. I’ve always wanted to see Mount Rushmore–especially because the National Treasure movies are some of my biggest guilty pleasures.

We arrived under slightly-overcast skies and had no problems finding a front of the crowd spot at the viewpoint. Dang, it was pretty cool. We walked around what was open of the President’s Trail, which got us right up to the bottom of the mountain. I could see right up Washington’s nose! I love history, so it was pretty awesome to see such a big piece of it–and to make many National Treasure jokes, of course.

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We ate a nice lunch on site and hit the gift shop. Then we drove the few miles into Keystone to check into our hotel and figure out our next move. We stopped at a row of stores to check out the goofy tourist gear they had there, and that was pretty fun. We also went mini golfing, which I love! It was a pretty small course, and we were doing a good-ish job……..and then it rained. At first, it was okay, we could manage, but after about ten minutes, it became a downpour, and neither of us had hoods or umbrellas. We didn’t finish the course, but we could through three-quarters of it, which I would say was a success enough.

The hot tub called to us then, so we indulged. Since it was indoor, the room was incredibly humid, and we certainly didn’t last very long. The heat calmed our cramped muscles but didn’t do much for our dehydrated bodies and increasing hunger. So we headed out for dinner and found a cute, trendy-looking former-diner called the Front Porch. Unlike the Cal Poly coffee place of the same name, this place did not give out free coffee. It did, however, have cheap glasses of wine and heaping plates of pasta. Amy and I should have split it, since we got the exact same thing, but we didn’t realize just how much we’d be getting. As soon as the waitress set our plates down, Amy said, “Oh yeah, I forgot we’re in the Midwest now.” Since we had a fridge and a microwave in our room, we saved what we couldn’t eat, but per the usual, it was thrown away in the end.

The best part about our fun outing was the double rainbow that came out toward the end of the meal. One of the waitresses ran outside and ran back in to announce it–there were only a couple other parties in the restaurant at the time, so we all just walked out to the little boardwalk to see it. It was the brightest I’ve ever encountered! Usually, they’re faded and the colors blur together, but this one was clear and beautiful. I was in awe. It was the perfect end to a pretty good day.

Saturday

This was the day we woke up and left the earliest. It was the longest and last day of driving. We had two semi-planned stops along the way, but we knew they would be short ones, and any other stops would be for food only. It was time for the home stretch.

We made a stop at the famous Wall Drug store in South Dakota, which they start advertising before you even reach the state line. It was a huge store with a cafe, a restaurant, and about four or five different gift shops. It was very western themed. A bathroom break, a quick soda purchase, and a lap through the store was really all we did. The daunting drive ahead made us not want to be anywhere long. Also, the store was…a lot. If you ever find yourself driving through South Dakota, though, and you need a pit stop? This one is pretty good.

Our second non-food stop was at the “World’s Only Corn Palace,” also in South Dakota. It’s a big building made of corn–sort of. The outside is lined with corn kernels and husks and whatnot. The inside is a museum/arena kind of place. They do concerts there. We only went inside to use the bathroom again–I did a lot of that. But it was a nice stop to stretch our legs a bit.

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After one more gas/bathroom break, we were finally in Minneapolis! And when we parked at Amy’s house, I was ready to never get in a car again. We ordered pizza and watched National Treasure because that was the mood for the evening. Calm and easy with no impending long drives in sight.

Sunday

HARRY STYLES.

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That’s all I have to say about that.

Wait, wait, Kacey Musgraves was fabulous, too. I love her.

Monday

Just a trip to one of the 10,000 (or closer to 15,000 as Amy has told me) and a walk around the Mall of America. Nothing too exciting, but the lake sure was pretty.

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Having a low key day was the perfect ending to a long trip. I had such an amazing time. I got to visit a whopping five states I’d never been to before, experience a couple of fantastic landmarks, and see one of my favorite musicians at the end of it. It may not have been a crazy post-grad trip to Europe like quite a few people I know, but it was perfect for me.

Onto the next thing!

Ash

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Oh What A Life

Made it through two weeks of the new year! Phew! I was worried. School is already getting me down, so I’ve decided to reminisce on all the great things that happened to me in 2017. Not to dwell on the past or anything, but I need a pick me up.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from last year:

Groundhog’s Day Redemption

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Our first party of the year! It was so fun to go all out for an event nobody ever thinks about. We got out the fur and cheap champagne and a good playlist, and it was a hit! We invited so many of our friends–most of them didn’t come, but the eclectic group of people who did come brought their friends. It was a lot of random people mixed with people we all cared about. It was so much fun.

AOII Dad’s Weekend

This was the first year (at least in a while) that AOII did a Dad’s Weekend–planned by our one and only Taylor. I didn’t think my dad would want to come, but when the shirt designs came out, I decided that maaaaybe I would I ask. Turns out he did want to come and he wanted a shirt. Sweet!

I got to spend good quality time with my dad. We went to happy hour one night for a drink and appetizers and just talked for a long time. I learned about all the pranks his family used to pull on each other and the wacky things that used to happen to them.

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Tori, Mads, and Kristin’s dads came too (and Tori’s mom, my fav person!), so we all got to bond and check things off of our fun “to do” list Taylor made up of things around downtown. It was a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I asked my dad to come up for the weekend.

Spring Break Wine Tasting

After a few years of watching my mom and JoDee go wine tasting in Paso Robles without me and my underage butt, it was finally time to join the party. And Gracie came up too! We hopped from winery to winery tasting and laughing and eating a lot of cheese and crackers–ahem, I mean, charcuterie.

It was all fun and games until we went to church a liiiiittle drunk and my mom expressed a tad too loudly that she needed a diet coke, which cause Gracie and I to laugh so hard we had to leave for a few minutes to collect ourselves. And then it was margaritas with the priest! Being Catholic is somethin’ else sometimes.

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But it was such a good time! So many laughs, so many good wines, so many smiles.

The Great Toboggan Debacle of 2017

Thanks to my lovely little with a very nice house in Mammoth, I got to spend a low key weekend in a snowy wonderland. Madeline and Danielle spent most of the time snowboarding, while I stayed snuggled up in the house doing homework and watching 13 Reasons Why. It was so nice to get some alone time!

The best part was that I came up with an idea for Book 3. I woke up on the couch and just completely fell mesmerized by the falling snow. It was absolutely wonderful. Such a peaceful time to really reflect and get things done.

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Tori’s First Rodeo and Pozo Saloon Camping

Tori was the first Frat Rat after me to turn twenty-one. It was really exciting to finally have someone to go downtown (and split an Uber fare) with. I had a few friends old enough, but not a roommate. It was such a fun time to really get to be a part of my great friend’s bar crawl, and thanks to Zach it went pretty smoothly.

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This day was also special because it’s the day I met Matthew for the first time!! Wow, what a day.

That weekend we hit the Pozo Saloon for a night of country music and margaritas. We got there early and set up camp, ate snacks, and drank cheap beer. It was hot and I got badly sunburned, but it was so much fun. So many Cal Poly students were there getting their country jam on. It was such a good time! We froze that night, even with the layers we brought, and we all felt hungover terrible the next day, but it was a weekend for the books.

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San Francisco Day Trip with Matthew

Over the summer, right before Matthew started his big boy job in San Jose, I drove up to visit him in his new place. One of the days that I was there, we rode the CalTrain into the city to explore and go to a Giants game–I know, how could I?

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We walked all over the city and saw all the touristy things and some non-touristy things. Matthew showed me where he used to intern, we ate at his all time favorite sandwich place (and I must say it was delicious), and we took a cute picture in Union Square. I got to spend so much quality time with Matthew, and I was so, so happy to spend the whole day with him.

Quickie Trip to Tennessee

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Wedding bells were ringing for Natalie’s cousin this summer, and I got to be her plus one. An excuse to go to Tennessee with my best friend? Count me in! There is so much green it is crazy. It rained the first night we were there–which ruined my new copy of Lord of the Rings–but we still hit the hot tub. It was so weird but so fun.

The wedding itself was beautiful. Small and quaint and lovely. There was a weeks-old baby I got to hold for a long time. So many pictures and so much love. In lieu of a cake, the couple had different flavored cupcakes, and they were so good! I still think about them sometimes. So add good food the list, right after love.

NIALL HORAN

My favorite adventure buddy, Amy, tried so hard to win tickets to the album release party for Niall Horan (former One Direction Irishman and all-around adorable person) at iHeartRadio. Who wins things ever, though? Nobody!

Oh wait, except Amy!!

The stars aligned perfectly and she won two tickets to the mini concert, and she invited me! The plus was that the venue is basically down the street from my house, so we could just stay for free. But we drove down, waited in line, and got ready for one of the greatest experiences ever! We were pretty close to the front and had a good view. The music was wonderful and Niall was such a cutie, as always.

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What a highlight!!!

Obscure Barbie Night Out

Halloweekend is a big deal in college, and being our last (cue the tears), we wanted to make it count. Our plan? Obscure Barbies. Goth Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, etc. It’s not too easy to pull off, so ours weren’t perfect or too obscure (except Madeline), but we still went as all out as we could. Kristin was Pop Star Barbie, I was Jazz-ercise Barbie, Madeline was Paleontologist Barbie, and Tori was Doctor Barbie.

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The lines were long and we got separated, but Tori and I ended up in Blast Taproom (meaning that yes, one of the walls is just a line of beer taps), with a few of our friends. There was live music and good food and an array of tastes. Sadly, no gin, but it was still a fun time!

I’m a Great-Grandmother!

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Last year, Danielle took a little, and I didn’t get to meet her until after I got back from abroad. I missed the whole reveal experience: the revealing itself, the pictures, the dinner at Pluto’s (RIP to our place!!), the drive-in movie. It’s the best part about getting a new addition to the family. But this year, my grand-little Jen took a little of her own, Jordan. She’s so cute and fun! I mean, to be honest, I don’t know her that well, but she handle our crazy family that night like a pro. My branch just keeps getting cuter and cuter!

ALEXANDER HAMILTON

This goes without saying, but seeing Hamilton at the Pantages Theatre in LA was such an amazing experience, and I will remember it forever. The cast, the music, the sets, the choreography, IT WAS ALL SO WONDERFUL. I cried.

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And that’s all I have to say about that.


Wow, what a great year! So many fantastic things happened and I met some pretty great people (like Matthew!). My life has changed so much, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

I’m ready for whatever comes next!

Ash

One Foot in Front of the Other

Do you hear that?

It’s the sound of 7 billion New Year’s resolutions being made, being kept, and (already) being broken. I’ve made a list of mine, and I’m doing my absolute best not to slip up. I know it has only been a few days, but sometimes that’s all it takes to break a resolution.

One of my big ones was to blog more often–because that it something I really need to work on. I didn’t do too much blogging this past year (or the last, other than my abroad posts), so I definitely want to put more effort into that. This website has helped me through a lot of hardships just by being here. There’s just something soothing about writing down my secrets and publishing them for the world to read–even if I only have, like, ten real readers.

But that’s not really the point.

A lot of things happened in 2017, good and bad. Politics are chaotic and kind of make me want to pull my hair out.

Hurricanes and floods and fires destroyed homes and livelihoods, and I pray for those affected every day. The families…I can’t even imagine. I drive up the coast and see the hillsides all burnt to a crisp. It’s horrible. I’m thankful for the men and women who fight to keep us safe.

There was a sickening number of people who came forward about being sexually assaulted, both in the “regular” world and in the media world. And those are just those who came forward. The people who have expressed their experiences publicly in the #MeToo movement are incredibly brave, and those who still cannot admit to the world about these things are still equally important. I believe in every single one of those people and I admire the courage it takes to even keep moving forward after something like that.

There were great movies released, like Lady Bird, which is a literal work of art, and I love it. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable. The newest Star Wars received both good and bad reviews–I, for one, found it very good overall. Oh, and I can’t forget about Get Out which was amazing, topical and relevant and well-presented. I only watched it recently, and I was stressed out the whole time. It was a rush.

I read some fabulous books, too. Carrie Fisher’s most recent memoir–may she rest in peace. Big Little Lies was wonderfully written and had such an intriguing story. I was hooked from the first page! The TV show on it was also very well done. There was also another fun read by Sophie Kinsella, The Undomestic Goddess. I always love her books. They keep me laughing and I’m invested until the end.

I’m hoping that this is going to be a great year. Of course, I always hope that, but I’ll wish for that every year for the rest of my life. It’s going to have it’s ups and downs, but I’m confident in myself. That I can make my year worth it and wonderful. I’m going to write a lot of things and read a lot of books and go on a lot of adventures.

And graduate!

And find a job…yeah, that too. I need to figure out exactly what I’m going to do in the real world. I’ll always be writing, but I also need an income. There’s a lot to figure out in the next six months, and that won’t even be the whole year! I get to start over halfway through with something completely new! It is exciting and intimidating and nerve-wracking. It’s even more unknown than college was.

The real world…that sounds pretty scary actually. Matthew is out there with a real job and a real income and a real 401K. He seems to have it all figured out. He constantly tells me otherwise, but I think he’s got it pretty much down. I only hope I can work it out as well as he is. I admire him so much.

I’m taking 2018 one step at a time, starting with Winter Quarter. It’s always the hardest. I’m not expecting this year to be any different, but ya know, thinking positively. I did very well academically in the fall, so I’m hoping I can pull out equally or better grades. I’m banking on some of my resolutions to help me there. I’m trying to do a bit more planning in general and I’m writing everything down. I’ve gone so far as to map out my Netflix binges! I had such a big problem with that this past quarter, and it is a top priority to be better about that. To not mess things up as badly as I did.

I’ve got big things planned in my life. I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Yours truly, Ash

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

Midnight Memories

June 18, 2017. Six months after December 18, 2016. Aka the day I left London.

Okay, okay, you all knew this was coming. You know how much I loved London and how much I miss it every day. It is my favrotie city. I completely fell in love with it, and that love hasn’t decreased the least bit in the last six months. It’s probably grown actually.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Yeah definitely the case here.

Speaking of absence, I have been away from the blog a bit lately due to school and whatnot, per the usual. But now it’s summer, and I have time to read for fun, write a bunch, and Netflix without guilt. It’s an exciting time, summer vacation. It doesn’t quite feel real yet…that or the fact that I am about to be a senior in college. Weird…

But London. Yes, I talk about it a lot. So much. I sound pretentious and people get annoyed, but can you blame me? It was the best experience of my life!! Three life-changing months of traveling, exploring, and learning more than I ever could in a classroom (but yes, I did spend time in a few of those). I see Benjamin a lot, and we talk about it constantly. And then whoever is around us rolls their eyes and makes fun of us. Do I care? Not really.

So to commemorate six months away from my city and six months back in my little nook of the central coast, some of my favorite memories from studying abroad:

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The Harry Potter studio tour at Warner Brothers! A classic and *~magical~* experience. I relive this day in my snapchat memories all the time.

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Sipping coffee on the shore of this gorgeous loch at the edge of the Scottish Highlands. The sun was bright and shiny, but it was still coooooold! This was one of my favorite days. The Highlands are UNREAL. “Ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye…”

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Check my Instagram to see about a dozen pictures of me at the Cliffs of Moher…all from this same trip. I cannot get over how beautiful it was, even in the gloom. There is no feeling like being on the edge of the world!!

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AmsterDAMN…I could talk about this weekend forever…so I’ll just leave ya with this pic. So many bikes. So many trees. So much beauty!! Okay, I’m done.

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And obviously walking the famous Abbey Road crosswalk. I got to do this, like, three times, and it was both incredibly awkward and touristy and equally fabulous at the same time. I was so embarrassed at the time to do something so utterly cliche, but it’s Abbey Road. It’s classic. It’s iconic!!!

So many spectacular memories…unforgettable. I promise I’ll try to stop talking about it all the time, but living in London completely changed my life. There’s no way to stress it enough. I grew into a whole new person! I still can’t believe I got to study abroad, and I am thankful every single day for it.

Wait…do I talk about London the way vegans talk about being vegan??? Oh, my gosh, I am going to be so much more aware now…(nothing against vegans, ya know?)

And to balance out all the fantastic European mems, some good ones since I’ve been back!

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Being incredibly extra human beings and hosting a Groundhog Day Redemption party. And wearing matching (faux, obvi) fur to it. Honestly, what a bash, and what a way to kick off the next two quarters of being reunited!!

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A weekend Mammoth trip with Danielle and Madeline. They skied. I read. It was a win win, even though everyone says I was being lame. Hey, I came up with the plot of Book 3–it was a win! It’s fun and mysterious and Ally Carter-esque. I’m so excited. And it was more than worth the freezing temperatures to frolic in the snow.

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Hiking to see this incredible view…enough said.

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Tori’s big 21st!!! Super exciting for the first roommate after me to turn this magic age. Her sign is cute, too, huh? Yeah, we left it at Taco Bell…but we got it back!! The night was a roller coaster, but the nacho cheese from my crunchwrap DID end up coming out of my shirt. And Tori killed downtown!!

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Pozo Stampede: where we drank beer and margaritas, blasted country music, and got very bad sunburns. Worth it!

See? I can still have adventures in America. I’ve got a pretty cool backyard out here on the central coast, and I need to explore it more. Now that it’s summer, thought, I can! I have a pretty cool job that doesn’t limit my adventuring power much, so catch me doing fun things in the next three months.

It won’t be the same as country-hopping and wandering aimlessly around cities and museums and parks, but that’s okay. If I’ve learned anything in the last six months, it’s that there is so much more out there in the world than I gave the chance. I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen. I need to make life happen–which (I hope) is what I’ve been doing. I got a new job (and lined one up for the fall), I’ve made spontaneous mini-adventures, and I’ve been so motivated this quarter.

So many good things are happening in my life, and as much as I want to crawl into my brain and relive my Autumn in London, the present is calling. This whole adulthood thing means taking calls now, right? So I guess I have to answer it! Yeah, that was soooo cheesy. Please don’t hold it against me.

Hmmm…six months back in this country…wow. It’s kind of been forever, kind of been the blink of an eye.

Life’ crazy sometimes, right?

Right.

xx Ash

((PS peep my latest Insta on the sidebar for a little fun piece of news in my life *wink wink* *nudge nudge*))