I’m Still Standing

Remember last week when I was being incredibly dramatic about my life crisis/meltdown? Me too, and I’m still being sort of dramatic, but I am generally feeling much better about the situation. I was having a hard time with my philosophy class, overhearing people talking about jobs they’re accepting–and rejecting according to the boy walking behind me the other day, could you imagine having so many offers you have to reject them?? I certainly can’t–and I was worried that my writing was, well, shit.

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Since then, I have taken a philosophy midterm, which I actually feel pretty good about, overheard another guy talking about a job he was considering that was offering him “in the $95,000 a year range” like OKAY, and talked to my Writer Friend Sean about my story/senior project, which actually made me feel so much better. As much as I love my Frat Rats, Spookies, Matthew, etc friends, they just don’t quite get it when it comes to my passion for writing. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they just don’t have the same passions.

I was feeling incredibly dejected about the beginning to my third chapter after discussing it in class, and it made me completely rethink my passions and skills. I didn’t even have an inkling on how to fix it–or if I even should. I talked to Sean about it, and about his story/writing, and he encouraged me to keep going. He believed in my story and my characters, and, most importantly, my writing ability. So this past weekend when I was at Matthew’s I spent all day Saturday completely rethinking, revising, and rewriting chapter three–while watching Schitt’s Creek in the background.

Sidenote: I HIGHLY recommend that show!!

I was stressing big time about it, unsure about where I was going with it and figuring out how to fuse my background/history with the present plot. How was this possibly going to work? I had no idea. But I kept at it, reading and writing and believing in myself, and I think I came up with a great solution. As much as it originally didn’t sit well with me and the direction I was going for with my pacing and structure, I really like how it turned out. It is just a draft, of course, but I read through it again yesterday (because I needed a break from it for a few days), and I actually do think it’s much better. The suspense from the previous chapter continues and I was able to fuse most of the information into the action. I didn’t get to all of it, but since I know the next chapter is a set up for what’s to come, I can see how it fits there.

I’m actually excited about where it’s going!

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I’m still freaking out about it, of course, but I’m having slightly less of a crisis about it. My crisis mode is being saved for understanding Plato for our next section in philosophy and finding a job for after graduation. Still completely freaking out about my future, as usual! But I’m not crying about it, which is far better than the last two weeks.

Plus, I have an exciting two weekends ahead of me, and I can’t be stressing! I need to enjoy this time. This weekend we are throwing our second annual Groundhogs Day Redemption fiesta, but this time there is a twist because it is also National Tater Tot Day. Nobody takes tots as seriously as we do–except Napoleon Dynamite. I’m stoked to just be able to relax this weekend. I’m trying to get ahead on my schoolwork so I can enjoy it. My friends are planning to be blacked out all weekend because we have a big “Italian Wedding” event on Friday and Sunday is the Superbowl so it’s a jam-packed few days. I don’t plan to be blacked out because I know I’ll feel terrible and I hate feeling nauseated more than anything in the entire world, but I do plan on indulging a bit. Maybe this is an excuse to get that avocado bacon cheeseburger I’ve been thinking about………

The following weekend is our Semi Formal, and I’m very much looking forward to getting all dressed up for a fun night! I’m in it for the cute pictures and the french fries that will inevitably be available at the venue. Matthew and I haven’t really taken a lot of pictures together lately, so I’m excited for a new one. He’s never been to one of these events before, so it should be pretty interesting. Even I feel out of my element at them sometimes, so it’ll be an experience for both of us.

I am trying to be optimistic about all the things that are happening–but also trying not to stress out about all the studying/schoolwork/writing I won’t be getting done because I’ll be participating in Life Things. I’m still trying to find the balance. But after feeling good about my philosophy midterm, it has been easier to find comfort in that balance. But one week ago I was failing a class–straight failing (sorry, Mom).

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How could I be at such a low point so early in the quarter, you ask? Because the class is solely based on participation, and I am terrible when it comes to that. However, this week, things have really been looking up! Somehow, in one week’s time, I have brought up my grade a whopping 20%! At this rate, I can pull out a decent grade, so I’m pretty jazzed about that.

So basically, I am still in crisis mode, but I’m working through it. I am becoming more comfortable turning this not so great situation into one that I can benefit from. It’s a learning process, as I have so discovered. I’ve always known (well, since coming to college always) that I am still learning and growing, but that usually comes to my mind after a win. I’ve felt like I’m on a bit of a losing streak, and I realize I can learn from this now to turn it into a winning streak. I think I’m already starting to–considering my grade boost!

Today in my philosophy class, we went over this scenario in which we get the option to Matrix-esque plug into a virtual reality in which we are always happy–it’s so realistic we would never know the difference. If we had that opportunity, would we take it?

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Of course, it had something to do with Plato’s philosophical argument about the always-connected pleasure and pain, meaning that we can’t have one unless we know the other. In this case it would be happiness and sadness. But if I’ve learned anything from life–and the movie Inside Out–it’s that you can’t have joy without sadness. That was my original argument in this exercise, but my professor said that the people plugging me into this virtual reality could give me that little bit of sadness to provide me that growth I get from sadness because it will ultimately lead me to happiness. If that was the case, then would I agree to “plug in” to this world? Maybe?

But then I thought: well, I’ve been through so much in my life to get me to this point, and even though I would still run the risk of being unhappy overall in life (which my crisis is making me think might happen), I’ve seen my life this far through. I’ve gone through twelve years of depression, and even more of anxiety. I’m proud of where I’ve gotten in my life, how much I’ve learned, so why shouldn’t I see this path through? My final answer to this virtual reality is no.

And yes, that’s overthinking it maybe, and bringing in things that are not typical to the normal person. It’s even a bit dramatic. But philosophy’s purpose is to make you truly think about the things you believe and why you believe them. And as much as I didn’t expect it to, this class has really gotten to me in a few ways. I’m actually a little bit into it. That doesn’t make the readings any easier to comprehend, but that’s not the point–they make sense in lecture and that’s what matters. And I’m actually interacting and using some of these concepts in my life, and I’m sure that’s my professor’s goal.

I may hate this crisis I’m going through because it’s really made me question my goals and the path I’ve taken in life, but it’s a learning process.

And now that I’ve rambled on for about fifteen hundred words about pointless revelations and thoughts that make no sense to anyone but myself, I will take any of you who have read this far out of your misery and sign off here. This is my public diary, isn’t it?

‘Til next time!



So It Goes…

The weather is off. My allergies are here. School is terrible. I am never going to do anything with my life. This is it, everyone. This is…

The Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis.

Winter Quarter is honestly the worst quarter of all the quarters. I’ve always like the quarter system and being able to jump from class to class a lot quicker than my Semester Friends. But there is something about this Ten-Week-Plus-Finals stint of the year that really makes me question my entire existence. Is that dramatic? Probably. But that is a major side effect of the Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis.

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I’ve been second-guessing my passions and my skills. Sometimes I am totally confident in my writing, but it is times like these when I feel like I have zero talent. Like I have no place running a blog or writing stories or even journaling! I’ve been working on my senior project, a super cool spy story I’ve been dying to write, and for a while I felt like I was doing well. I thought I was really getting somewhere.

But here I am, wanting to give up on it. Getting criticism is always difficult, but after this particular chapter beginning that I had put so much faith in got so many negative comments, I felt like a failure. I’d failed myself as a writer and myself as a competent student. And then I wondered if I was ever good at this at all. Like I said, it was pretty dramatic, but that’s what being defeated feels like.

It just makes me feel like my entire school career has been a waste. I could have done something like math or business, but I loved writing. I’m only good at writing. Or so I thought. Now I can’t even say that. I still love it so much. Reading and writing have had such a huge impact on my life, and all I’ve ever wanted to make the same impact on someone else. It’s just hard to see that when I’m struggling so hard with a story I care so much about.

On top of that, one of my classes is completely participation based, and we all know how my anxiety doesn’t like when I try to participate in class. Even when I want to say something, it never comes out sounding coherent or intelligent–I can’t even say that it makes sense at all. So it is hard to come into a class where 95% of the students easily say profound things about the books we’re reading, while I can’t even articulate my annotations. My whole grade depends on a skill I have continually been unable to acquire.

In short, I’m just having a hard time.

It is common for us Quarter System Students to feel the Winter Quarter Blues. Every year I find myself in such a slump. So many of my friends and classmates are in the same boat. It is completely normal to hit such a terrible and draining low. I knew this was going to happen! But alas, it still hit me like a big red bus.

It’s awful to feel like this when I’ve spent so much of my life fighting darkness. This is when it so easily sneaks up on me–even though I am expecting it. Somehow it still surprises me. I can fight this Bad Feeling, but it still hurts. It still drains.

I won’t go into a long and boring tangent comparing this slump to my depression–because depression totally makes it worse–but that’s not the point. The point is that this hard. School is hard. Life is hard. Figuring out the future is hard.

And I have to be honest when it’s hard. It’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time, even though I am so comfortable in my recovery. I am still going to have these terrible times, and I have to be open about that. I have to hold myself accountable for the ups and the downs of this rollercoaster of a life.

So I’m going through a Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis and it is absolutely terrible and I’ve cried a lot. But I will get through it, as I do.

Learning to Fly

The park is coated under an icy layer of rain and fog. Her shoes squish quietly on the cobblestones. Her coat is heavy on her shoulders and she holds tightly to her umbrella even though there’s no wind to try to blow it away. She’s never heard silence as deafening as this, but that might be the most comforting thing.

The last few weeks have been nothing but chatter and preparations. Loud voices yelling from one room to another. The cacophony was almost too much to stand without screaming and going crazy.

Two weeks ago, the childless Lord Danforth died suddenly. It was a tragedy, of course, but it didn’t effect Eliza and Alec’s upcoming wedding plans at all. That is, until police officers arrived on Alec’s doorstep to tell him that he is the legitimate heir to his Lordship.

Suddenly his flat was overrun with officials who wanted to run him through ins and outs and “official business.” Eliza was pretty much exiled back to the tiny room she rented in an elderly woman’s house up the road. The wedding went from a small chapel service to a posh, glamorous London event.

The stress of this huge life-change is why Eliza decides to escape the madness to the quiet of this rainy evening. The wedding is in a few days, and she’s excited but it’s not the giddiness she had a few weeks before.

She thinks about how happy she felt when Alec took her up to Ireland, where they drove around for a week. When they were looking out at the edge of the world on the Cliffs of Moher, he knelt on one knee and popped open a black velvet box. Eliza cried and it was the happiest moment of her life. Now she wonders if she’s going to marry the same sweet and thoughtful Alec this upcoming weekend or a snooty higher class Alec.

The park is deserted, which she’s not sure if she should find odd or not. But she’s alone for the first time in a long time. It’s peace she desperately needs.

The grass is a bright green, even in the dim light of the gray sky. The air smells like wet pavement, unsurprisingly, missy and fresh. It smells clean. She almost falls back to lay in the grass and soak it in, but that would look ridiculous. Maybe doing so would really peg her as a bit mad. Instead, she just stops to admire the Peter Pan statue. It’s beautiful and simple. Her favorite story growing up. Something about the power of imagination that could take the Darlings to a new world full of magic and myth. She still believes in that same power, and she lives her life by it. That’s what led her to Alec.

“Thought I might find you here.”

The voice startles her and breaks her from her trance. “You do know me pretty well,” Eliza replies.

Alex smiles sweetly. “I’d like to think so.”

“You’re alone.”

He hadn’t been found solo since the big news–except to sleep at night, and even then he was in late and up early. He grimaces. “I’m sorry, E.”

It’s not his fault, and she tells him so. “It’s just a lot to process. A month ago we were small, young villagers from up north, now we’re next to royalty.”

“I’ve always wanted to give you the most magical life, Eliza. And now I can. We can have everything we’ve ever wanted.”

“You’re all I’ve ever wanted.”

Alex steps under the umbrella and pecks Eliza’s cold nose. He is tall and lanky. His brown hair is wet and sticks to his forehead. His brown eyes are warm and welcoming. But it was his full cheekbones and wide smile that really caught her eye the first time she saw him in a literature class when they were both studying at Oxford, and it’s what she loves most now. He had always been the sweetest young man, grabbing books on shelves she couldn’t reach, sending her new reads he thought she would enjoy, and making sure all of their dates were fun and memorable.

“Things are just different. You’re going to have to be so proper now. I’m not polished enough to be by your side,” Eliza says.

“You are the most perfect woman. I am the luckiest person to be able to have you on my arm.”

“I suppose I’m just scared.”

“Just know that I will always be with you. Every minute. And if anyone can turn from small village Oxford grad to posh Lady of London, it is you, my Eliza.”

She looks skeptically at him.

Alec steps out into the mist and spins around in circles while singing various Peter Pan lyrics in no particular succession that are meant to inspire and encourage her. He’s goofy and it makes her smile. It’s comforting.

“Come home, my love. I’ve sent everyone away, so we have the whole place to ourselves.”

“Is it home now?” Eliza wonders of the shiny house they moved into on the Lordship’s dime.

“Once you get there it will be.”

She can’t help but smile. “A few more minutes, Alec. I love this weather. It feels like we’re the only two people in the world.”

They slowly walk along the path together through the fog, toward their new home. Eliza sneaks one more peek at the Peter Pan statue. It’s getting dark and the air isn’t clear, but he seems to wink at her.

Maybe magic is real. And maybe she’s found it in an unexpected way. Perhaps this is her chance to fly.

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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!


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