Sundaze – 5/28/2017

Here I am…sitting on a train. I’m on my way home for the weekend to surprise my dad for his birthday–disclaimer: he knows now, so I’m not spoiling any secrets.

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Whenever I go home, I get a weird mix of emotions: I’m happy to see my family, dreading seeing my family, excited to get breakfast burritos, rolling my eyes out of my head about city traffic. I’m stoked to see my brother, back from his first year of college, and to see Gracie and Stephanie. But everyone is back home for summer, so the chances of me stumbling upon someone from high school are pretty high. I’ve said before that sometimes going home makes me feel like I’m suffocating–and not from the smog! Since last summer, I’ve only been back in the Burbs a handful of times, though, so maybe I’m starting to feel differently.

That’s good news. I might be beginning to forgive all the crap memories filling my brain. I’ve started to think that maybe the reason I have hung onto all those bad memories is because I haven’t had the mindset or the time to make new ones. But that’s another post for another day.

As May comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve only got a few more weeks of school (thanks, quarter system) and as long and drawn out as this quarter has been, its end has kind of sprung up on me. So much has happened to me in the last eight or so weeks, and it’s all come down on me at once–right in time for Week 9, shocker!! Not everything is bad, though, some things are quite good…maybe you’ll hear about that soon.

With so much to do for school, I’ve been neglecting writing lately. Yes, I was a little post-happy on the blog a few weeks ago, but things have caught up to me. I covered some heavy topics, and I think we all needed a break from that. I’ve journaled here and there, but no actual writing. Which is great, because I have to start thinking about my senior project–which I’ve got some…thoughts…about.

But I’m antsy to get started on Book 3! I’ve refrained from really letting myself think too much about it–I’ll get far too distracted from schoolwork and tweaking Book 1 and Book 2. But I’ve got a plotline and some character names picked out already. I just have to build the world and work out details. Easy-peasy! Yes, I hope you all read the sarcasm in that. I’m hoping that this weekend I can get some real-life work done so I can escape to the world inside my mind. The good one, don’t worry.

For now, though, I’ve had to find escape in music, which is fine by me. I’ve gotten on this kick of making playlists. I used to just make them and then put them on shuffle and let them take me away. I still do that for some–like my Road Trippin’ playlist for when I drive home or back to SLO. But I made a list of songs for someone recently, just listing them by how they come up in my iTunes: alphabetical by artist. But this list of songs…they’re me in a nutshell. I handpicked them so that if you were to listen to them, you might get me a little bit more. A little bit better. That kind of list needs to be in a special order. I spent most of yesterday arranging and rearranging the songs–and I think I’ve got it! I need to listen a time or two more to be sure, but I’m feeling it.

The Maine’s latest album has got me feeling some kind of way, too. I love it so much, and they never cease to please me with their new music. It’s pretty seamless, and it’s one of the reasons I am now conscious of the order of songs I listen to. But not only did my favorite band release a new record, so did Harry Styles!! Still bitter about the whole “hiatus” thing, but I am loving Harry’s album. It’s so different, and it’s just the kind of thing I needed in my slump. Call me crazy or whatever, but I still love One Direction and all that those boys have accomplished. Hey, music is very important to me, and I’m always overly emotional about it!

And speaking of getting emotional, I saw Jaci last weekend! After hanging out more or less nonstop with her for three months and then not seeing her for six-ish months, I was so excited to have her in town. Post-grad life is treating her well: she has a cool new job that has confusing-to-me circumstances, but it sounds like a blast. It was defnitely strange seeing her in America–SLO, no less–and not London. I’ve been missing my city and all the memories so much the last few weeks, and having the abroad squad back together (ish) for even just a night was the best. Studying abroad was such a wonderful and life-changing experience, and the friends I made were a huge part of that. Therefore Jaci was a huge part of that. I miss getting lost in foreign countries together.

Thinking about London so much made the recent terror attack in Manchester all that more heart-wrenching. Missing the lovely country of England and wishing I was there only made it harder to be so far away when tragedy struck. A concert is supposed to be a safe place–we all know much music has impacted my life–and bombing such a place (where a particularly non-controversial musician was performing) is just awful. All those children…it makes me so angry and sad. I’m wondering how someone could be so evil, but I still believe in the sacredness of music and how positively it can affect someone. And I have to believe we’ll be stronger for this.

As cynical as I am about people and their intentions, I do have faith that when it all comes down to it, people care about people. I saw a video of the queen visiting the survivors in the hospital, and it warmed my heart a little. Gave me some optimism.

…….And now I’ve been lost in thought for, like, twenty minutes. Must get down to business. And by business I mean enjoying the scenery and listening to my jammin’ playlist.

Go get lost in thought and maybe in real life today. Also, always remember there is a Fran Drescher gif for everything.

Peace and blessings, Ashhhhhh

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Sundaze – 7/24/2016

By the time you read this, I will be finishing off packing to head off to Bass Lake, my favorite place in the world. My heart beats a little faster just thinking about the water, the smell of pine trees, Forks burgers, the docks, and quiet nights. There is no other place that has ever touched my heart the way Bass Lake has, and I will always be home to me. Really in a sun-daaaaaze right about now.

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And just like my crazy excitement for a few blissful days at the lake, I am proud to say that yesterday, my little corner of the internet had a birthday. That’s right: A Heart Wide Open turned two! Two years ago, I was sick and tired and heartbroken. I was still thinking about letting go of it all. I still hated myself so much. One year ago, I was wildly happy–partly because I was dancing around Disney World (which I so wish I was doing right now). I still had Bad Days. Days that I refused to smile or talk to people or eat properly. But much more often than that, I was laughing and writing and feeling happy for absolutely no reason other than the way the trees swayed with the wind.

And now I am about to turn twenty-one. Still having Bad Days, of course, but I am living through it. I have been pushing myself a little bit these last few weeks, especially. I told you about how reclusive I have been. I mean, I still spend my nights with Netflix, but I have been doing so much more than that.

I putted my way in Phillip to Santa Barbara to spend time with my wonderful cousins from Boston. I haven’t seen them in over a year, and I missed them lots! I was very proud of my little Old Sport for making it all the way there! It was a bit rough, but we did it, and it was very worth it.

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We made dinner with very limited cookware and ate dinner on cardboard boxes by the pool. It was interesting, to say the least. The kids played about ten games of Water Pong on the special pool float made just for the drinking game and relaxed in the hot tub. There was some fighting off June Bugs (in July????) by the fire and a burning of a black widow. Literally, we flicked it into the fireplace. Bye, Felicia.

I miss them already, and I cannot wait for Renee to visit when she starts looking at colleges! Her dad said that she could only look at schools in California–score!

I got to spend a few days in the Burbs and see Gracie. We got breakfast at a little place called Bea Bea’s, and I about burst: french toast with nutella, marshmallows, brownies, and Captain Crunch cereal and a California omelet (turkey, avocado, the works). I never want to shared breakfast and talk about boys and writing more than I do with Gracie.

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She is now in Pennsylvania, helping her dad on the set of his movie Getting Grace. Yes, she is the inspiration for the main character. How cool, right? I cannot wait to see the finished production!

A few boring days followed until Tori, Lo, Lo’s friend Shannon, and I drove up to Big Sur for the first time. It was gloomy, but so, so, so worth it. There was a stop on the way where you could just watch elephant seals do their thing–which isn’t much, let’s be real–but we could not stop laughing at the way they flopped up and down the beach. Their barks sounded like a garbage disposal, and it had us in stitches. When we found Sand Dollar Beach (after getting a little lost), we found almost everything but sand dollars. We climbed on rocks and stuck our heads in little caves and listened to good music and took more panoramas than I know what to do with! I saw a bunch of little crabs while I searched for starfish. Unlucky in finding the latter, I still had a blast.

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There were so few people there that it was fabulous to have the place mostly to ourselves. Not having to fight anyone for the good picture-taking or exploring spots was great. We got to have our own adventure without having to worry about anyone else.

Getting away from the gloom, we ventured towards Salmon Creek, just a little closer to SLO than Big Sur, where we walked for all of five minutes before finding paradise a waterfall that let out into a freezing cold but beyond cool little pool. It took some prompting (and watching two girls leap in and climb behind the falls) before the four of us stripped down to our suits and froze our butts off. I mean, I had work later, so I didn’t get further than my thighs, but I still made sure to get almost the full experience. Definitely worth it seeing how cold Tori and Lo were after getting out.

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Working until four in the morning that night was rough after a wild day, but I have zero regrets about doing it. Zero. That’s a fun thought: actually having no regrets.

Then we bought a couch! And boy, was it a task getting it from across town into our third floor apartment. With the help of my family friend and one of Mads’ friends, we pulled it off. I mean, the couch nearly went off the ledge a few times (and we nearly let it), but it looks so good in our empty apartment. And it is so comfy, the Rats are going to have some bomb movie nights together after Mads and I get back from abroad.

That afternoon I went to work, but then left the safety of my apartment (GASP!) to hang out with Mads and her CRP friends. There were slurpees and HGTV, and if that is not a good night, then I don’t know what is.

And thank goodness for Amy for getting me out again to watch the sunset at Montaña de Oro. We got Blaze pizza before and then drove out! I had never been before (a lot of firsts!), so it was an adventure for me. Amy and I found a sandy spot to eat our dinner to the tunes of Ed Sheeran’s first album. Like Big Sur, we were alone, and the quiet was so peaceful. I got to really appreciate the time with a great friend of mine.

And then we walked down to the water for the real sunset. It was not a beach, more like just rocks and then Pacific Ocean. It made for great pictures–more panoramas! I saw more crabs, too! No starfish again, but I also saw a little fish swimming with the tides coming into the crevices of the rocks still connected to the ocean. A place this beautiful, I expected to see so many other people, but there was not a soul in sight. It reminded me that I did not need a room full of people to be able to be out there in the world and making real memories. These were just as, if not more, meaningful as any of those great nights I spent dancing on tables at frat houses. Seriously, thank God for Amy for taking me cool places.

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And now I am about to be off on another adventure. A mini one before I really take the leap and move to another country for a few months. Two years I have had this blog, and that is two years of this journey y’all have been taking with me. Standing by me.

Grateful is an understatement. A huge one.

So much crazy love, Ash ❤

Two years down, countless more to go!

Sundaze – 4/10/2016

I’ve been thinking about so many things lately, and I just need to ramble a little bit more about them…

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My mind is on a few things: The Goldfinch, New York City, music, classes, housing.

I have to tell you, I cannot stop thinking about The Goldfinch. It is so very good so far that it is all I want to read. Every minute that I am not reading it, I wish I was snuggled up in my bed with it. I am still in the beginning of the story itself–Theo is still a young boy–but my mind is racing thinking about what is going to happen. I am quickly developing opinions about the characters and if I like them or not or if I trust them.

I cannot help but get attached to the characters in the books I read. One of my favorite authors, Ally Carter, does a really fabulous job of that. Meg Cabot, too. But as soon as I am finished with this post, I am curling up in my bed with the book.

And as always, New York is on my mind. I have been already looking at places just to get an idea of how much money I need to set aside for rent and what my budget will be for what I want.

I think about the days when I will be living in a tiny apartment and going to museums and parks on weekends and stuff. I want to look out a window at the concrete jungle of the city and write my days away. My heart beats a little faster whenever the idea plants itself in my mind. It has been growing and thriving like bamboo.

I do need some advice on which neighborhoods I should live in…Thoughts? Shoot me an email!

As always, music is my background noise. It has switched off between Hamilton and the Beatles, and not much else. I mean, when I walk to and from classes, I just play the music downloaded onto my phone, but whenever I sit down, I open my Spotify to my two saved playlists.

Music has aways just been such a huge part of my life. I wrote over a hundred songs in middle school. They became few and far between in high school and college, but I still pop out a personal gem once in a while. Listening to music is one of the only things that calms me.

Whenever I am sad or upset or happy or angry or any emotion, listening to music makes it all better. Cuddling my pillows with my twinkly lights on, blasting a song through my headphones…it blocks out the entire world, and it is the only time I like being alone with my thoughts. I guess because I am not really thinking about real life, I am thinking about the lyrics and the melody and the way the guitar plays off the piano or the drums. I pay such close attention to the harmonies or the key changes.

I can connect to music in a way I cannot connect to anything else–except writing and reading. I mean, there is a reason all my blog posts are song titles and the name of my blog is a lyric from a Hunter Hayes song.

Now that Spring Quarter has started, the stress is taking over again. I have two classes four days a week, so I am always doing homework for those, and sometimes I forget about my other two classes. There is so much reading and so many online quizzes and countless things I am trying to understand. It is already difficult to keep up, and we are only about to start Week 3!

I like the quarter system, I really do. I like taking all different kinds of classes and being able get rid of a professor after a fairly short time. When I am in the same routine for too long, I get a little antsy. But sometimes it is almost too fast-paced, and I get overwhelmed. I am determined to make it through, though. I can do this.

But the real bane of my existence right now is housing. We found this beautiful house that could fit all of us and, I am not going to sugarcoat it, it was basically perfect. Well, we made it to the top ten, then the top four, and then the final two…and the landlord chose the other group. I just need to know what they had that we did not because he told Kristin that we were pretty much the exact same group. So why them and not us? It is just extremely frustrating!

Now that we are essentially homeless, we are rapidly looking for a place to live. Luckily, Tori found a three bedroom that would fit the four of us very nicely, and it is close enough to campus. Hopefully this one works out. Pray for us, because I certainly am.

There are so many things to stress me out right now, and I am afraid that they are all going to peak at the same moment, pushing me into a bit of a downward spiral. Luckily, though, I have my books and my music to help me out. I am hoping that these will be enough to ease my mind when I really need it.

This is Sunday, my rest day. That is what I plan to do. Some homework, church with Michael, and reading. I already know that next week is going to be pretty hectic because it is Big/Little Week, which therefore makes this week a bit chaotic as well because I am spending every free moment crafting.

My Sunday sundaze is not quite what it should be, but it could be worse. I am glad it’s not worse. A little bit of chaos is good, right? Right.

Much love on this day of rest ❤

-Ashhh

Sundaze – 2/14/2016

These past few days–past few weeks, actually–I have been feeling incredibly stuck and weird about everything. I have been in a creative rut, and I have needed to take much more time to recharge from being social and extraverted than normal. I am back to spending more time alone in my room than I have experiencing life with my friends. However, this Valentine’s Day weekend, things were different. It was a Galentine’s Day weekend to remember, for sure.

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On Friday, Kristin, Tori, and I drove out to Avila Beach to spend the day basking in the wonderful sunshine. After our wicked few weeks of rain, I have been itching to get out and soak up the sun and sand. It was a relaxing day of reading my newest book (Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot–I am still head over heels for Michael Moscovitz) and listening to music.

That night, we ventured downtown to see How to be Single, which I must say, took me on an emotional ride I was non prepared for. I did not expect much from the movie but some good laughs with my best girlfriends, but I ended up learning quite a bit. Granted, it was not the greatest movie I have ever seen, but I would totally recommend it!

It was such a relaxing day, and I got to focus so much on myself. I did not have to worry about anything in the world. The homework I have to do? It can wait. After midterm upon midterm the last few weeks, I have desperately needed this “me” time to really get my thoughts together.

On Saturday, we mobbed over to the pool at the Rec Center. Let me just tell you: I feel like I am at a fancy resort when I am at the pool. It is so nice! We have a nice leisure pool with a whirlpool area and three beach volleyball courts. All it needs (per Alice and Vanessa’s thoughts) is a juice bar/sandwich place. That would up the “wow” factor quite a bit.

But it was so nice to just go relax in lounge chairs and hang out in the pool when we got too hot. I am weak when it comes to water temperature, so the ocean is usually a no-go for me. The pool is just the right level of “cool” that I can get used to it. Plus, if it was any warmer, it would not be refreshing, which is what I truly need when I feel my skin getting too warm.

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Then came Deadpool with Michael. I can always count on him to go see/watch a movie and fangirl over Ryan Reynolds with me. I am so lucky to have a friend like him in my life. And it still counts as Galentine’s Day festivities because he is basically a gal pal.

Today, actual Valentine’s Day, Tori, Kristin, and I are getting breakfast together. Kristin has been dying for some chicken and waffles! Another day at the pool is in order–no, French professor, I was not kidding when I said I was going to spend the entire weekend pool/beach hopping. I need to soak up as much sun as possible because I miss my summer tan dearly. Two days in, and I am turning a nice golden color, with minimal redness. Sun safety is so important!!

“Spaghetti and Singles” dinner with Adam’s fraternity is tonight. Adam, of course, will not be there. He will be with Vanessa, for obvious reasons. But it will be fun to hang out with my friends and talk to boys I have zero intentions of seeing again. Hey, this is me time, remember?

A weekend like this is exactly what I need. It is what I have been waiting for. I am not doing crazy things and going places to lose the energy I have been building up. I get to just lounge around doing absolutely nothing but turning over onto my stomach from my back, reapplying sunscreen, and repeating.

To be completely honest, I have also been doing fabulously on my Lenten fasting! A few days in, and I have been doing great ignoring my chocolate and donut cravings–I probably could not even call them real cravings. SloDoCo’s snapchat story isn’t making this very easy, but I am confident I can get through it without cheating. This is just the confidence boost I need right now, too.

After such draining days and nights where my brain tears me apart, I feel happy. I am content. I do not feel numb to the world as I have been lately. This optimism is just the thing to get me back into the swing of life, recovery, and smiling.

Happy Sunday, my loves ❤

-Ash

PS Only 6 more months until I turn 21!

Sundaze – 1/31/2016

On Sundays my mind should be focused on all the homework I have left. I should not be on my laptop, I should have my nose in my Lingustics book. And I should most definitely be studying for my three midterms this week.

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But alas, I am daydreaming.

I am thinking about living in New York City in a few years. I am picturing a gorgeous apartment with exposed brick and nice kitchen. It is 100% Tumblr and Pintrest worthy. I can look out my floor-to-ceiling windows at the beautiful city morning or at the glittering lights at night. I am thinking about going to work in publishing, and ruling the (writing) world. Think: Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal. And then I come home to sit in a comfy chair and write for hours. And read all the books in the world. I have a library that is the envy of all my writer friends. And Gracie calls me up to ask my opinion on a script she is writing, and I tell her it is genius–because it totally is. This is the dream.

But I also see myself in a little studio apartment, not a penthouse. It’s a little cluttered because I am still trying to get my life together here. Maybe I have a little fish named Charlie, because why not. And I have paperwork to do and manuscripts to edit. I’m only an intern, and I am living on cereal and scrambled eggs, just like in college. This is the reality.

But I’ll turn it into the dream.

I am thinking about Pride and Prejudice. One of my favorite books and movies. I really need to read it again soon and immerse myself in my favorite love story. Then I can watch the movie over and over again, since it is now on Netflix. Thank. God. I think about the beautiful language and the heartbreaking way Mr. Darcy confesses his love for Elizabeth in the rain. How I wish that someone would look at me and love me the way he loves her.

“You have bewitched me, body & soul, and I love…I love…I love you.” Ugh, this kills me.

And then since I am on a Keira Knightly kick, I am thinking about watching Pirates of the Caribbean. Becuase Johnny Depp is also quite the babe. And I am wondering if I have ever seen a movie where Keira Knightly does not play a young maiden in the seventeenth/eighteenth century. Which reminds me that I still have not seen Begin Again where she stars with Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine. But I like her as a young maiden in the seventeenth/eighteenth century. She plays that role very well, and sometimes I dream about living that life.

I often wonder what it would be like to live in a world where pirates reigned over the seas or I got to go to balls and dance with rich gentlemen and make them fall in love with me. The language is my favorite part; it is utterly mesmorizing to listen to and to read. I wish people still spoke like that. The downside, though, is that bathing situation. I, for one, cannot go more than a day without showering. I love being clean too much. But maybe for Darcy I would do it…

I am thinking about my characters and the lives I build for them. Where I want them to go and what I want them to do. Who I want them to be. And I find myself in their stories and wishing I could bring them to life. I fall so in love with the stories I create, and it makes them difficult to share. Sometimes I don’t want them to be anyone’s but mine. But at the same time, I want everyone else to fall as much in love with them as I have. I want my stories and characters to impact my readers’ lives as much as mine has been changed by the books I have read. And I wish for a future where a girl falls in love with reading and writing because of something I have written.

And then we start over in New York City.

Daydreaming is fun, and some of my greatest ideas come from moments like these. Sometimes all you need is a break from reading about a doctor who sells his soul to Lucifer or studying whatever the heck phonology is. These are my favorite kind of study breaks.

-Ash 🙂


BTW Grease Live airs tonight on Fox!! I can’t watch it because I don’t have cable, but I had my family record it and hopefully I can watch it online! I AM SO PUMPED FOR THIS. Also, Aaron Tveit is one of my favorite humans. *heart eye emoji* x1,000,000.