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Hannah & Julie

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In the spirit of second-semester-senior nostalgia, I’ve been reading a whole lot of old Hannah & Julie blog posts this week. Re-living the glory days. I mean, we actually called the blog “The Glory Days” back then. (Shout out to our original twelve readers—you made those days glorious.)

In the spirit of second-semester-senior nostalgia, I’d like to bring your friends back to a simpler time.

A few weeks ago, Julie and I were downstairs at the bar, ignoring homework and attracting a lot of attention on the dance floor. (Yes, we live above a bar. Yes, it’s true what you’ve heard about our dance moves—they’re bizarre yet infectious.) Julie grabbed my arm and yelled in my ear as she often does in these kinds of situations: “Wanna pee?”

 

As we were waiting in line for the bathroom, a girl came out of one of the stalls, looked at both of us, and said with utter seriousness, “Oh my god. You’re Hannah and Julie. I fucking love your blog.” She slung her purse over her shoulder and started washing her hands. Julie and I looked at each other. Do we know her?

 

“You guys make me cackle. Seriously, I cackle every time.” Two bathroom stalls opened up, but Julie and I didn’t move. We just stared at our fan. “Holy shit, thank you,” I managed to say, and after a few more enthusiastic nods from all parties involved, our fan pushed through the door and back into the bar. Julie and I turned to look at each other with wide eyes. A fan. A totally random, unaffiliated fan. In that moment, standing on the sticky floor in our campus bar’s most crowded bathroom, we knew that we had just officially become famous.

 

(Full disclosure: Taylor was not actually a random and unaffiliated fan. She and I were on the same pre-orientation camping trip before move-in day, and although we weren’t in any of the same activity groups, we did become Facebook friends then, and that’s how she found the blog. She’d dyed her hair since freshman year, too. But in the moment, she looked wildly unfamiliar and recognized us in the bar bathroom. If that doesn’t say celebrity, then what does?)

 

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Deep Breath

Julie and I walk through campus with our yoga mats under our arms. We find a sunny, flat spot in the grass outside of the dorm Julie lived in first semester freshman year, and we lay our mats down. The sun is so warm. We’re wearing tank tops. It’s a Tuesday afternoon.

Jules starts playing music from her phone and lays it in the grass. “Let’s start cross-legged on our mats,” she says. She’s never led someone through a yoga class before, but it really doesn’t sound like she’s new to this. I get to be her first student. We sit cross-legged on our mats, hands resting on our knees, palmed turned up to the sky, eyes closed. Students walk to class and laugh and stand at the nearby bus stop and sip their iced coffees. Some stare openly. We are entirely aware of how goofy we look.

The music plays softly from Julie’s Spotify playlist—Kitchen Yog. She made the playlist for post-gym yoga sessions when she rolls out her mat on our kitchen floor. She’s gotten really good at kitchen yoga, actually. That’s where we got the idea for out-on-the-quad yoga. As she tells me to open my eyes and ground myself on my hands and knees, I take a deep breath.
***
Sometimes it feels like I’m spiraling. Shaking hands, spinning thoughts, looking out over the edge of what I know. Who am I after this? I’m not sure. Fog descends, thick and dark. I take a deep breath.
***
I found the song “We Will All Be Changed” by Seryn our freshman year. Second semester, when Jules moved in with Natalia and me, we listened to it a lot, especially on Sundays. I used to doodle the words in my stats class. Now they play as Julie cues us both into downward-facing dog.

We can shape, but can’t control
These possibilities to grow
Weeds amongst the push and pull,
Waiting on the wind to take us

 We can write with ink and pen but
We will sow with seeds instead,
Starting with, words we’ve said
We will all be changed.

There are several yoga poses that I’ve never successfully done before. Several more that I’ve convinced myself I’d never be able to do. Julie cues me into three of these poses—confidently, gently, laughing at us a little bit. She knows where I struggle and she knows where I’m strong. I listen to her steady instructions.

Hands and knees planted firmly on the mat. Table-top pose. Then I bend my other knee and—against all odds—reach back and grab my ankle. “You’ve got it, Hann!” Jules yells. “That looks so awesome!”

Next pose. A bind that makes you look like a spaghetti noodle. (I’ve never really thought of myself as the spaghetti noodle type.) I lunge, leaning forward, arms outstretched. “Now reach your left hand down,” Julie says, “and your right hand back, yes just like that…and drop your shoulder just a bit…yes!” My fingertips brushed. I dropped my shoulder even further, and interlaced my fingers completely. “Yes! That’s it!”
***
Sometimes it feels like I’m flying. Open eyes, beating heart, the future at my fingertips. Who am I after this? I’m not sure. There’s a lovely thrill in that. The people I’ve found and the plan I’ve made and the smell of warm hazelnut coffee and the click of my keyboard in a quiet library room. Butterflies in my stomach, pen to paper for the next chapter. I take a deep breath.
***
Last one. Forearms on the mat, fingers spread wide. Heart beating fast. “Alright, now inch your feet up a little more… a little more… nice,” Julie says. “Left leg up—perfect. Think about pushing off with your right leg rather than kicking up with your left. You got this.” I inch forward, lift my leg up, and probably look pretty skeptical. “You got this,” Jules says again.

I push off, and then, I’m floating.

I bring my right leg straight up with my left. Too quickly. My weight shifts too far into my hands, my head bumps the mat, and I somersault onto the grass just as a UNH bus pulls up to the stop. We’re laughing. We’re laughing so hard we can’t breathe. Jules gives me a high-five, and we start brainstorming what we’ll need to start a yoga studio together. We’re sure it couldn’t be too much more than we already have.
***
I take a deep breath. The sun is warm, it’s a Tuesday afternoon, and my best friend teaches me how to fly. The air smells like spring.

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Hannah Being Psyched in Normal Places

You guys, I am a decidedly bad picture-taker.

To begin, I’m pretty un-photogenic. It’s like I always think I know what face I’m making, then I look at the photo and am totally surprised by what my face actually looks like. How the hell were my eyes closed? What’s my chin doing? I never told it to do that.

But beyond that, it almost never occurs to me to even take a picture. And when I do, there’s usually a tell-tale sign that I was the photographer somewhere in the photo. The people are posing adorably in front of a bathroom door we forgot to close. The corner of my pinky finger is peaking into the picture of the pretty sunset. I accidentally cropped out half of the iconic monument in the background.

In contrast, Hannah is a pretty good picture-taker. She tells me to move my arm or something because it looks weird. She knows where to stand in the apartment to get decent lighting. (Sidenote- almost no where in our apartment has decent lighting. Except maybe the bathroom.) But above all, she always thinks to whip her phone out and snap a quick picture.

I usually make fun of her. Then we look back through our photos years later and she’s got all the good ones. Touché, Hann.

Recently I’ve been trying to step up my game. Remember Julie Doing Yoga in Weird Places? Well now I’ve got a photo-series of my own:

Hannah Being a Tourist in Mundane Places.

It all began Meg’s younger sister’s 21st birthday. Molly is really cool as far as younger siblings go, so Hann and I jumped at the chance to hang out with her and tour the Sam Adams brewery in Boston one weekend. The two of us were milling around before the tour started, and we found these guys.

As far as we knew, they were just cardboard cutouts of two random brewery workers. But just in case they like invented beer or something, I told Hann to get a picture. “Look wicked fucking psyched!” I told her.

It didn’t stop there. Hannah also posed enthusiastically with some juniper berries, some dried plums, and other run-of-the-mill brewery things. I just laughed and clicked.

And thus, Hannah Being a Tourist in Mundane Places was born.

After exploiting my abnormally long arms and flexibility for goofy photos for years, I think she knows she owes me. So she’s been a pretty good sport.

Quick! Get a picture of me in the office where we work!

Smile, Hanny!

 

This time we actually dressed up like tourists for a theme party. We were Sheryl and Marv, crotchety middle-aged couple attempting to save their failing marriage with a second honeymoon.

Stay psyched, my friends.

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Welcome to Night Vale

I was going to write about more graduation-y stuff today. But to be honest, if I spend any more time thinking about post-graduation plans, I might just melt into a puddle right here in the coziest lounge on campus. (The coziest lounge on campus is also notoriously warm, so the puddle thing is a threat on multiple fronts.) Today I’d rather talk about something very, very weird.

A podcast called Welcome to Night Vale.

If you’ve been around Julie and me at any point over the past three weeks, we’ve probably told you about this podcast. We’ve probably raved about its weirdness and its sounds and its precisely placed words. And beyond that, we’ve probably been wildly unsuccessful in explaining what Night Vale actually is, because it might just be the most difficult thing to describe ever.

(Author’s Note: The writers of Night Vale are in no way sponsoring this blog post. Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor don’t know we exist at this point, but someday we hope to meet them and ask about their childhoods.)

In our quest to convert all of our friends to fellow Night Vale listeners, we have been successful exactly one time. Our friend Adam fell asleep the first time we played the podcast for him. Granted, we were on our way home from an exceedingly energetic Matt & Kim concert, and he’d spent about two hours making sure crowd surfers didn’t fall on other people’s heads.

We’d thought we’d lost another potential friend fan—our last potential friend fan, if we were being honest with ourselves. (All other attempts at conversion had been a little bit like telling a Louis CK joke in church. Funny for us, but uncomfortable for everyone else.) But then, a few weeks later, Adam texted us. He’d gone back and listened to all of the existing Night Vale episodes! He was officially a friend-fan! Julie and I rejoiced like the nerdy evangelists we are.

Last weekend, Adam, Julie and I saw a live Welcome to Night Vale show. The writing was funny and bizarre and concise and poignant. Some audience members dressed up for the show, which we thought was especially impressive since the podcast format doesn’t really offer any visuals for costume-making. It was possibly the nerdiest thing we’ve ever done on a Saturday night—and it was our favorite Saturday night in a while.

We’ll take a swing at a summary here. Listeners are welcomed to Night Vale with community radio broadcasts that include local weather, traffic, a community calendar, and live coverage of the daily disasters and tragedies that plague this quiet desert town. Just remember to obey the Sheriff’s Secret Police, never look directly at the hooded figures in the dog park, and be aware that your every move is being recorded. You should be fine.

(Shout out to Jules for that sweet-ass paragraph. I’m calling Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor tonight to see if they need any more writers.)

In Night Vale,

A Faceless Old Woman secretly lives in your home (and has been trying to figure out your wifi password for months).
You may encounter a man in a tan jacket with a deerskin suitcase full of flies; once he’s out of your sight, you can’t remember what he looks like, or even if he was there at all.
A sentient patch of haze sometimes reads advertisements on the radio.
Wheat and wheat by-products occasionally turn into lethal venomous snakes and take out most of the town’s population.
Old Woman Josie lives out by the car park with a group of tall, cloaked angels. It is illegal to acknowledge the existence of these angels. All of Old Woman Josie’s tall, cloaked “friends” are named Erica.
Vague, yet menacing government agencies put on most community events.
If a malevolent Glow Cloud appears and starts raining dead lizards and crows on unsuspecting citizens, don’t panic. That Glow Cloud will someday become president of the Night Vale school board.
Librarians are the most terrifying creatures in existence.
A beautiful new dog park has just been built in Night Vale. Only hooded figures are allowed in the dog park—no humans or dogs. Whatever you do, do not look at the hooded figures.
Clocks don’t work, and time is probably a hoax.

In the middle of each episode, Cecil—the show’s host, owner of arguably the greatest speaking voice ever—brings you to “the weather.” The weather is not actually a weather forecast, but a song by an independent artist. Sometimes the song is hip-hop, sometimes it’s indie-pop, but most of the time it’s folky and strange.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kPkkqxsjIY]

(Danny Schmidt performed the weather when we saw Night Vale live.)

If you’re not into supernaturally absurd dystopian podcasts, thanks for reading all the way to the bottom of this post. If you’re even the slightest bit curious about any of the things we just laid out for you, listen to this podcast. It is entertaining and unsettling and clever and so, so weird. All the episodes are free, and I’ve included a few of our favorites below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GUOhbkQIfc]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMYJHp9pqIo]

This is our last attempt at Night Vale evangelism – after this maybe we’ll shut up about it. Probably not, though.

ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD,
Hannah & Julie

 

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The Quitting Pact

Friends, I’d like to tell you about the Quitting Pact.

Senior year does some crazy things to you. It shows you a really good time. It scares the shit out of you. It drapes you in a thick blanket of nostalgia. It forces you to think about what’s next, and it makes you appreciate what you have left.

But mostly, it makes you want to drop all of your plans for the future, curl up in a ball, and refuse to move out of this little bubble you’ve grown to love.

You know the feeling? You’re sitting at your kitchen table, your favorite corner of the library, your usual napping couch in the MUB, and the thought occurs to you. What if I just quit absolutely everything and stayed in this spot forever? This very spot where I feel most happy and comfortable and content?

You know it’s not really an option. It’s not even what you really want. But just for a second, it’s the picturesque mirage-island in the overwhelming dessert that is the end of college.

On a rainy afternoon last semester, my friend Will walked into the office where we work on campus with a heavy backpack and an expression like I’ve had enough of this goddamn day.

(Will is a coworker of ours, a graduate accounting student, and a dear friend. He’s great for advice, a coffee from the Shack, and for impromptu additions to blog-posts-in-progress. Hopefully he’s happy with his formal introduction to BlogLand.)

As he realized that he’d be spending the next six hours watching accounting lectures, he posed a question to the office at large. “Why can’t I quit everything and just work in the OSIL forever?”

This might have been the most rhetorical question ever, but one of our supervisors decided to answer it both literally and extensively.

“Well, for starters, your program won’t be happy with you quitting on them. You also won’t get your tuition back for the semester. You’ve already committed to a job, that one might be illegal to back out of. Not to mention that I couldn’t hope to pay you as much as you’d make as an accountant.”

Bummer city, right? All hopes of quitting were crushed by the heavy fist of logic. But that didn’t stop us.

Just as our boss finished his spiel, our friend Alison strolled into the office. (Alison’s graduating too, and equally as awesome as Will.) “Did someone say let’s quit everything and live in the OSIL forever?!”

Our boss shook his head and laughed behind his hands. “You have even more things that you bindingly can’t quit than he does,” he said. Alison’s only response was, “QUITTING PACT! Let’s do it!”

I was on desk this whole time, so I spun around in my chair with my hands up and yelled, “QUITTING PACT? I’m in!”

You know what crushes logic in the rock-paper-scissors of life? Blind denial. Thus, the Quitting Pact was born.

Right now it’s an elite group of students who are committed to ignoring the impending doom of May graduation in hopes of working at our goofy, loveable work-study jobs forever. (We’re taking applications for new members if you think you’ve got what it takes. Qualifications include 3-5 of procrastination experience and an innate love for plastic plants.)

(The OSIL had a beloved pet bamboo shoot named Jefferey who went missing this January. Any information on his whereabouts is greatly appreciated #WhereIsJefferey)
 I think, more than anything, the Quitting Pact is a testament to our little bubble. (It’s also a fun way to annoy our bosses.) We work in the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership in a building called the MUB, which is known for being the “living room” of campus. Basically, it’s the place where you can walk in, kick off your shoes, and fall asleep on a couch and no one will make fun of you or draw stuff on your face. The policy here is friendliness, inclusion, and generally being a goofball.

(Goofballery)
It really is the best. Our office has these sweet polka dot couches and big windows along one wall so you can wave at friends and tour groups as they walk by. You get to share a desk with some really cool people, sometimes helping students with their student-org-problems, and sometimes watching Youtube videos of fish being launched from a cannon.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9qA8c-E_oA&w=560&h=315]

(Worth the watch, I promise.)

Thanks to the OSIL, I’ve made some great friends and found a second home on campus. Sometimes it’s felt so homey that I’ve considered never leaving. #QuittingPact2016.

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Spongebob Wednesday

Hi, friends.

So you may notice that today is Wednesday. I swear, we had every intention of posting on Monday. Jules and I spent four hours in a very large conference room on Monday night, co-writing a hilarious 3 pages, and occasionally pausing so that Julie could do yoga on the table. We also tried sitting at opposite ends of the table, like we were King Louis and Marie Antoinette. Or Shrek and Fiona. We couldn’t really hear each other across the table, and we’d left all of our romantic dinner candles at home, so we ditched the idea pretty fast. That was a fun five minutes, though.

The bottom line is, we wrote some funny shit. But upon re-reading that shit yesterday—when we were planning on wittily posting a day late—we realized that it’s some shit we need to spend some more time on. The story is fun, I promise. (Hint: It includes a montage of us being really good at beer pong.) But it’s not quite ready for you guys yet. Just bear with us.

In the meantime, I’d like to tell you about my Wednesday using a bunch of Spongebob clips I just found on YouTube.

This morning, I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to go grocery shopping last night.

[youtube ]

 

So I hit the grocery store, and upon return to the apartment, realized that I’d forgotten to restock on M&Ms.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLuzMDkhYek]
(I still have not restocked on M&Ms.)

After breakfast, I headed to the library. On my way I walked by a boy in a hoodie sweatshirt who looked to be about fifteen. He asked sweetly, “Would you like a free DVD?”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0K5s7-k9cs]

I quickly answered no, but as I walked away, I realized I had so many questions. A DVD? What year is that kid from? What the hell did he record on that DVD? Should I report him for truancy? Is truancy even a thing anymore? The DVD-guru had another juvenile friend who was also giving away free DVDs on the the quad, but I avoided the shit out him, so I suppose I’ll never know what was on those free DVDs. (Although if I had to guess, it’s probably porn, right?)

Now I’m at the library, and I connect to the following clip on a deeply emotional level.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZQJhvs4amQ]

Happy Wednesday, my friends. I hope the filing cabinets in your brains aren’t on fire today. (And if they are, I hope you remembered to stock up on M&Ms.) Check back in Monday for some regularly-scheduled thoughts from Jules!

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From Poet to Speech Therapist

You guys, it’s official.

I’m going to UNH for grad school. Somehow I got in, and even more insane, I got a sweet-ass assistantship with the MUB (where Hannah and I have worked on campus for the past couple years), to boot. I trekked through some fluffy snow this morning at 7:30am to find out about the second part, and I haven’t stopped smiling since.

And I’m so excited for these next two years. Graduation gets a lot less scary and a lot more exciting when you have a concrete plan, turns out. It’s finally getting real that I’m kind of almost there. This is one of the last steps until I’m a full-fledged Speech Language Pathologist. That is both terrifying and fucking awesome.

There are a lot of things that make you an SLP. There’s an undergrad degree, an accredited graduate degree, 400+ hours of clinical work, one insane 8-hour test, an optional thesis, a state license, and a national accreditation.

But there’s one other thing that made me be an SLP–my mom.

And by that I mean she forced me.

I came into UNH with a strict major, and a plan. I didn’t go through the standard first year of panicking about not knowing what I wanted/majoring in Russian/taking insane philosophy courses in an attempt to figure it out. (I watched Hannah do that though, and I saluted her everyday for living through that madness.) But I did go through a period where I didn’t quite know what I wanted, it just happened a little earlier.

In sixth grade my Language Arts class did a poetry unit. When my teacher announced it, my soul rolled its eyes and groaned. Poetry? I’m supposed to earnestly write poetry? (I was a cynical 12-year-old, I guess.) But then we started writing. And I loved it.

One day when I was in the car with my dad he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure what he was expecting from a 12-year-old, but I don’t think he got the answer he wanted when I told him, “I want to be a writer.” He was smooth about it, though. He asked what I would major in; I said writing. He told me “that’s not really a thing,” so I deferred to English. He then explained, gently, that that wasn’t the best plan. He told me I could be a writer even if I didn’t major in it, and that it was probably best to get a degree in something a little more “concrete.” Out loud I said okay. In my head I said you’re gonna watch me crush this English major one day.

My plans twisted and turned sharply throughout high school. I liked the idea of arguing for a living; I’d be a lawyer. I loved books and history; I’d be an English/History teacher. I got to control the chaos of a third-grade CCD class; I had to be an elementary school teacher. I was still in that camp my senior year when my mom got a bright idea.

Jules, instead of going for education, why don’t you try speech therapy? It’s just like teaching, only you’ll have more options.

But I was stubborn and afraid. I’d already picked all my schools for their education programs, and I didn’t really know what speech pathology was. (The only reason I knew SLP’s existed was because my brother worked with them throughout our childhood.) I didn’t want to start the college search over. I didn’t want my parents to decide my path for me. My mom managed to convince me to switch with the detail that I could use my degree to be an elementary school teacher too. That, and I found out UNH had a program. (If only I knew how long I’d end up being a wildcat.)

I arrived at UNH with a half-baked plan and a limited understanding of what I’d be studying. And I fell into something pretty damn great. The more I learned about this field, the more I wanted to dive in. It was so much more diverse and complicated and scientific than I thought. I loved it so much more than I thought I would.

I got to study phonetics, linguistics, anatomy, neurology, audiology, the physics of sound. I met some wonderful friends. I learned that I do not hate science, as I thought in high school, but that I fucking love it. We got this big packet of information the first week of freshman year, complete with our entire course list, our professors’ names, and a description of the program. Included was a little paragraph about the “mission” of this program and the profession. It ends with, “the ultimate goal being the betterment of the human condition.”  Pretty cheesy, but how cool is that?

(That is absolutely a real human brain I got to dissect.)

So mom, this is where I say thank you. Thank you for relentlessly talking me into this whole thing. Thanks for bringing me to UNH and whispering jokes throughout the whole tour so I’d laugh and have a good feeling about the place. For being calm while I freaked out about a test or a project. For showing me the videos of Stephen’s therapy and saving all his IEP’s. For letting me study abroad (I know you didn’t want to). For being my biggest fan.

I love you, mum, and I know you love me more. Also, you finally got your shoutout. Happy now?  

 

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This is Not a Movie Montage

Last week, Julie and I were sitting at lunch, talking about Marxism and the Defenestration of Prague, probably. Graduation came up, as it does a lot nowadays, and Julie made a point that stuck with me.

“Life just isn’t a movie montage,” she said. “Starting college, studying abroad, having a boyfriend, getting a job… it’s all just going to be regular life. And sometimes regular life sucks.”

Now, I’d like to pause here and just say that I fucking love movie montages. A spiteful duo can become fast friends. A quirky high school girl finds the perfect prom dress, and also tries on a monkey suit and a coconut bra, probably. The ragtag sports team with a history of yelling at each other on the court/field/ice gets better. Montages leave you with a cohesive, emotional, relatively simple story. They rock really hard.

After my lunch with Julie, I thought back to my first couple of weeks at college—sitting on my squeaky dorm-room bed and waiting for the most exciting chapter of my life to begin. Whether I realized it then or not, some part of me really did believe that my life was about to become a movie montage.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

But let’s take a closer look at some college montages, shall we?
The “College Party” Montage
Red SOLO cups clutched in the hands of laughing, young, attractive people everywhere. [Insert Fraternity Name Here]’s luxurious pool deck is packed. The Pursuit of Happiness—Steve Aoki remix, obviously—bumps from the DJ stand. The DJ is unstoppable, meaning he mostly plays the Pursuit of Happiness remix and the Heads Will Roll remix on intermittent repeat. Two lines of people play flip-cup in the corner, in slow motion to emphasize how much fun they’re having. No one’s puking in the corner or crying in the bathroom. When the song crescendos, everyone jumps in the pool, again in slow motion.

 I’m not going to lie to you here—college parties can be pretty fucking fun. Sometimes it even feels like you’re the slow-motion uber-attractive flip-cup team. But sometimes the party sucks. Maybe you feel dizzy and a little sick from that last swig of plastic-bottle vodka, or uncomfortably sober in a crowd of slurring people. Maybe you didn’t really want to come to the party in the first place, but the friend who dragged you there is making out with some guy by the pong-table and you don’t want to leave her there alone. Maybe there is no party, because you’re a freshman, and three of your friends came over to split a water bottle full of rum but now you’re tired and kind of just want to watch Netflix.

College partying isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for everyone all the time. Sometimes it’s going to suck, and it’s okay. That’s what cheesy fries are for.

  

 
The “Winter Break” Montage
It’s five weeks of snowy, winter-wonderland. You spend all your time skiing with your best friends and baking with your mom. (She’s endlessly happy to have you home, and never once tells you to get your ass off the couch.) There’s nothing to worry about. Seriously, nothing. You read every book on your list and catch up on all the TV your roommate’s been telling you to watch since August, and you definitely don’t wish that second semester would just hurry up and start already.

 I don’t think this montage has ever existed in movie form, as it would actually be outrageously boring to watch, but it has played in my head before every single one of my Winter Breaks. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some seriously magical winter vacations. But I’ve also noticed that I tend to get pretty anxious during those 5-week stretches between semesters. My family gets really sick of me by the end, and my mom always starts reminding me of how much lower the grocery bill is when I’m at school. (This year I started buying my own groceries—I get it, Mom.) A month is a long-ass time to bask in vacation glory. Somehow I’m always relieved when it ends.
The “Finding College Love” Montage
You meet the first week of freshman year—maybe ice skating at the stadium’s Free Skate, or studying over coffee at your favorite shop with all the Christmas lights. (He spills a little coffee on your shirt by accident and insists on taking you out to dinner to make up for it, which doesn’t make a lot of proportional sense in terms of repayment, but no one brings that up.) After a dinner date, a squished movie-viewing with his computer on both of your laps, and some silly dancing at this crazy pool party you somehow both got into, you walk hand-in-hand into happily ever after.

College dating is weird. Sometimes it seems like all anyone ever wants is sex—that’s probably what the College Party montage would tell you—but pretty soon you realize that a lot of people don’t actually know what they want. There’s this weird pressure to stay single, play the field, seduce as many as possible, etc. At the same time, there’s also this kind of pervasive idea that if you don’t find your soul mate in college, it’s the end of the road for your love life. Like we’re graduating into some apocalyptic romantic wasteland or something. (I really don’t think we are, guys.)

*Author’s Note: I did start dating a really incredible guy this year. (My mom would tell you she never thought this would actually happen. She tells me pretty often.) He’s caring and funny and smart and he listens to me even when I tell the same story seven times. Usually we do homework at the same table and drink chai teas. Unless I got him very drunk, he would probably chew glass before he danced with me at a pool party.

The thing is, these montage-ideas exist in our heads for a reason. Julie and I had absolutely no idea what college was going to be like when we posed with the wildcat at orientation. New experiences—moving to college, making a whole new set of friends, finding a boyfriend, starting a career—can be terrifying. And exhilarating. So, to ready ourselves for the unknown, we look to the montages for inspiration. But those perfect, imagined parties and winter breaks and love stories don’t exist for anyone. Our movies are all full-length and uncut.

Before I moved into my first dorm room—when college was still a montage waiting to happen—I think I truly believed that if I tried hard enough, things could be perfect. I would never drink too much or make a fool out of myself or forget to set my alarm for class. I would never fight with my friends or hurt someone by accident or feel totally and completely lost. But all of those things have happened over the last four years. And it’s okay. It’s important, really.

 

The weird, gritty honesty of real life never fails to surprise me. Movie montages leave out the best moments—the moments in between. The ones that make us real and messy and complex, that aren’t meant to be strung together in straight lines. The moments that don’t fit your expectations, that can’t be summed up with a tagline or even any words at all. This is not a movie montage, and it never will be. But it can be a pretty damn cool time.

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Ode To The Spaulding Birds

“Eh… what’s the world with one less bird?” -Rina Drake

My friends, truer words have never been spoken.

I don’t remember ever disliking birds. They’ve never really done anything to me, personally. I don’t have any scarring childhood experiences them that haunt me to this day.*

*But I have seen birds do some pretty fucked up things. One pooped on my dad’s head at the beach one summer, like while he was running. That had to have been on purpose. Another swooped down and snatched half a sandwich from the hand of a kid I babysat last summer. Brady was pretty hungry for the rest of the afternoon.

I realized that I had an issue with birds during my semester abroad in Ireland. There was this picturesque little body of water called the Lough about a quarter mile from my house and these massive birds occupied it as if they were Great Britain in the 1800’s.* So entitled, so condescending.

*Line courtesy of Will, who was on shift with me while I wrote this.

There was a kilometer-long walkway around the water that people would walk and run around. I ran there a couple of times a week because the walk to the gym was too long. (I got caught in my fair share of sudden downpours mid-run there, too. I quickly learned that if you use, “it’s probably gonna rain” as an excuse not to run in Ireland, you will never run ever, probably.) 

About halfway around the path, there was this area where all the giant birds hung out.

They were THE WORST. They were like eight grade bullies or political canvassers and they didn’t even scurry away when you ran directly at them. And I know. I tried a few times. So basically I hauled ass through eighth grade bird territory, then really regretted it along the last, long stretch of each lap.

So that was the first time birds harassed me. Back on the UNH campus, I spend a decent amount of time in Spaulding Hall. It’s one of the Life Sciences buildings, and I’ve had two classes and a lab there. On the second floor, there is an ENTIRE WALL OF TAXIDERMIED BIRDS. As my co-worker Will typed it while I was away from the desk, “These terrors are taxidermied and lined up like some satanic-ritual to the glory of their evil.” (This post wouldn’t be the same without you, Will.)

They start off all small and not-terrible.

But shit escalates fast.

Did you know that taxidermied owls stare directly into the depths of your soul? Well, they do.

Tell me this guy isn’t something out of your nightmares.

I don’t know if you can tell, but this seagull is the size of an overweight toddler. I kid you not.

If you’re my friend on Snapchat, you’ve probably already seen these guys.

And if not, then you’ll certainly be well-acquainted with them now.

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Hannah & Julie: The Origin Story

I’m in a science fiction literature class right now—hear that, future employers? Science fiction! Just think of all the Blade Runner references I’ll be able to throw out during project meetings!—and I recently learned that comic books often include something called an origin story. According to Wikipedia, an origin story “reveals how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains.”

Jules and I are not technically superheroes, but we were Batman and Darth Vader for Halloween once. Between the two of us, we had one cape. Julie got really mad at the cape for some reason and threw it into the middle of a crowded frat basement. We never saw the cape again.

This is our origin story.

To be honest, I have no clue when I first met Julianne Riley. (For those of you who might not be friends with her on Facebook, her full name is indeed Julianne. For those of you who are friends with her on Facebook and message her like “hey, Julianne!”—that’s a dead giveaway that you’ve never actually talked to her before. Just a heads up to future suitors.) She was in my high school class. She had long reddish hair, she was pretty quiet in class, and she was hilarious. These were things I knew, mostly from other people. We were friendly, but nowhere close enough to be called friends.

Our junior year, we had a year-long class AP Composition class together. (Foreshadowing, am I right?) She sat behind me, or maybe in front of me, who knows. She swears that one afternoon we had this long-ass, in-depth conversation about books while we were supposed to be discussing synthesis of ideas in an essay about Eugenics. I don’t have a great memory of this, or most of my junior AP classes for that matter—I didn’t handle stress so well my junior year. I think my brain just shut off so I wouldn’t have to relive all the five paragraph essays and crying over essentially nothing while trying to review for the SATs. But I look back on that vague memory of a conversation with warmth in my heart. It was the first of literally hundreds of times that Jules and I would use books to procrastinate whatever we were actually supposed to be doing.

Senior year, we had two year-long AP classes together. Jules sat two rows ahead of me in AP Lit, and about ten desks to my left in AP European History. (By senior year I’d developed some stress-coping mechanisms, so I remember these classes pretty well.) Once, Julie and our friend Sagar went rogue with the iPods that Mr. Audley gave us to research with in AP Euro—they took candid pictures of everyone in the class during one of his lectures. In my photo, my hand was on my face and my fingers were squishing my nose weirdly. Julie, Andie, and Meg would later tell me this is something I absentmindedly do a lot. But Jules saw it happen in 2011. And she still became friends with me eventually.

At the end of the year, Mr. Audley took us on a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Julie and I wandered away from the class and found a painting that really hit home. I took a picture for our dearest friends and loved ones.

I remember walking away from that field trip thinking, holy shit, Julie Riley is cool as hell. I still think that on most days. (Except for when I go away for the weekend and she forgets to give me back my tweezers. When that happens I swear at her a little bit in my head and almost text her in all caps to GIVE ME BACK MY DAMN TWEEZERS, but even then I still think she is at least marginally cool.)

On the first and only night of UNH orientation the summer before we started college, Julie and I took a walk to the Wildcat. (If you’re not a UNH alum, there’s a giant statue of a wildcat right outside of our hockey stadium, and they make you rub its nose for good luck like once a week when you’re a freshman.) We’d already rubbed the statue’s nose during the campus tour earlier that day, but we were excited and hyper and a little bit anxious. Everyone was. This was the place we were going to be for the next four years. This was college. Everything was about to change.

Some kids were already trying to drink out of plastic water bottles in dorm rooms furthest away from orientation leaders. A few of the girls Julie and I were with talked about going to get pizza at a place one of the leaders had mentioned. Jules turned to me and said, “wanna take a walk?”

We walked down Main Street in fleece jackets, just the two of us. It was bizarrely cold for June. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but if I know us, it was about how nervous and excited we were. How scared we were to jump into this new place. How beautiful the campus looked at night and how much we fucking loved Harry Potter. (I know that one came out early.) We probably didn’t even know where we were going, but we knew we had to get there fast, because we only had about twenty minutes before curfew. The Wildcat found us just in time. I made Julie hop up there so I could get a picture for our moms.

Walking home from the Wildcat that night, I remember getting this giddy feeling in my stomach. Like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. We didn’t know what was waiting for us come  September, or who we’d meet, or how we’d change. But we were at the beginning of a new adventure. And whether or not we knew it then, we were going to take it on together.

Until next Monday, my friends. In the meantime, enjoy this picture of us standing next to each other at senior prom.

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