Portsmouth, NH | Durham, NH
Some Other Things

Two Major Flaws in Logic

You guys, this weekend has been the best.

All last week, I looked forward to Friday. (I guess everyone does that every week, to the point where it becomes a problem, but I swear I’ve got something semi-unique to say here. Bear with me.) Friday marked the beginning of a special weekend filled with special events and a special visit from our freshly-graduated friend Meg. (Meg was the most special part. When graduated friends visit it’s like they’ve just come back from the dead and everything is right with the world again.)

This was more or less my thought process every time I thought about the upcoming weekend:

“Oh man, I can’t wait for Friday! Meg will get here and then we get to go to cocktail, and then the Mowgli’s concert, and then Sunday’ll probably suck but that’s what they’re for, and then it’s Thanksgiving break! And all I have to do is make it to Friday!”

See any flaws with my logic there? Well there are two pretty fucking huge ones:

Monday, November 23rd
Tuesday, November 24th

The week before Thanksgiving is the proverbial pebble in the college student’s shoe. It’s two days, just two short days before a blissful long weekend of mashed potatoes and people asking you what you’re going to do after graduation. (I might have spoken too soon on the blissful part.)

How bad can it be?

So bad. The worst. The most painful 48 hours.

Just kidding. But campus does get a little bleak towards the end of Tuesday as everyone starts to leave. So to you poor souls stuck on campus until Tuesday night like me, here’s some motivation to get you through. We got this.

(I went to find motivational quotes and ended up getting lost in the Ron-Swanson-motivation-quote wormhole, so I’ve sacrificed applicability for humor.)

Also, I forced Hannah to watch The Princess Bride last night, because she had not yet seen The Princess Bride. One of her most gaping character flaws. I think this is all you need to keep you happy until we get to go home.
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Artsy, College

The Elevator Pitch

So, ehem… do you have any plans for after graduation?

It feels like I’ve gotten this question a lot lately, from people who don’t necessarily know me all that well. These distant friends and relatives all have a hint of anxiety in their eyes as they ask. They know it’s a perfectly reasonable question, but what if I still have no idea? Will I recoil and shrink away? Will I scream and spontaneously combust from the pressure of trying to find my forever fulfillment in the arms of a lofty liberal arts degree? I’m sorry for even asking, their eyes say, but I’m dying to know what the hell you plan to do with that English major.

“I’m planning on going into digital marketing,” I answer, “Hopefully in the Portsmouth area.” The asker looks immensely relieved. They don’t have to comfort me while I sob into my copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, or even assure me how young and bright and destined for greatness I am. My elevator pitch sounds normal and surprisingly legitimate. They can just nod while trying to hide their shock that my literature-driven education has led to an actual career path, then loop back around for another drink at the makeshift bar in my living room.

(Note: My parents have hosted a lot of crowded dinner parties recently.)

(Another note: I still haven’t read On the Road by Jack Kerouac.)

My mom recently emailed me this article. It’s a funny, cartoon-illustrated narrative that appeared in the Huffington Post describing “why Gen-Y is so unhappy.” (I was born in 1994, so my peers and I have the honor of falling into both the Gen-Y and Millennial categories, depending on which magazine you’re reading.) It seems like the shared Facebook articles of the world can’t say enough about what “my generation” is looking for in the workplace—flexible hours, health benefits, emotional support, endless attention, a shrine in our name, etc. We’re an unfulfilled, ambitious, half-assed bunch of dreamers, apparently.

So maybe this is why people I barely know ask me about my future as if I’m on the edge of a psychotic break. (Don’t get me wrong, impending real world responsibility does make me feel a little psycho sometimes, but I can usually keep it under control at dinner parties.) They think that I am on the verge of a lifelong, self-involved, Gen-Y quest for happiness. This quest is inarguably doomed, as I will eventually learn that questing for happiness is precisely the thing that keeps happiness at bay, and then I’ll end up an unemployed alcoholic. Or something.

I’m probably putting thoughts into the heads of distant friends and relatives here, but my point is that I’m lucky. I’ve found a post-grad plan that I’m genuinely excited to put into action, and it makes an easy elevator pitch. (Believe me, I’ve had some weird jobs to describe in passing. “Um, I’m doing a lot of sweaty yoga and writing about it. It’s a creative nonfiction project.” Or, “Oh, me? Just writing a young adult fantasy novella.” You don’t realize how convenient the elevator pitch is until it’s gone.)

As young and relatively educated people, we have the great privilege of not needing to know our forever plans right away. We can change our minds. The elevator pitch isn’t written in stone. My parents have always taught me that a job is a job—no matter where you are, you can decide to be happy. It doesn’t come from a job or an apartment or even a shrine in your name at your office’s front door. It comes from you.

So this just took a turn for the incredibly cheesy. But it’s true. Happiness isn’t some magical destination we’ll find after we figure out the perfect career, if that is in fact what Gen-Y’s everywhere are thinking. It’s the whole damn quest.

I’d like to thank my parents for teaching me this lesson early and often, most memorably in the second grade when I spent six months practicing for a piano recital and royally botched the show in thirty seconds. (It’s the journey, honey, not the destination, my mom told me as I sobbed in the backseat of our car.) That shit stuck with me. And now I’m not TIME Magazine’s typical Gen-Y douchebag, hopefully.

(Fellow Gen-Y’s and Millennials—I don’t actually think we’re all douchebags. I’d like to see what our grandparents would have done if they had selfie sticks when they were twelve.)

So yes, I really do enjoy throwing distant relatives off with my practical and decidedly “normal” elevator pitch. But digital marketing isn’t the only field I’ve considered going into since I started college. The list of potential careers isn’t a short one, and I haven’t completely written off some of my other options yet:

Hard-hitting, fast-talking journalist.
Ask the tough questions. Inform the populace. Wrestle with self over the moral ambiguities of presenting the absolute truth. Can you think of anything sexier? (The Newsroom is a fantastic example of said tough questions/moral ambiguity. And if you haven’t heard of the podcast Serial, go listen to it right now. My friend Sean has blown through eight episodes today. It’s intensely addicting and possibly the sexiest piece of investigative journalism that has ever existed.)

Hard-hitting, fast-talking lawyer.
Kind of similar to the journalism thing, now that I think about it, but with more suits. Lots of questions about memory and the passage of time, yelling at key moments, and trying to get to “the truth.” (Can you handle it?) Alcohol problem might be a requirement.

Hard-hitting, fast-talking detective.
I really can’t even entertain this one. I would hands-down be the worst detective ever. But crime shows are fun, am I right?

Documentarian.
I’ve never really worked a video camera, but some part of me feels like I could be great at uncovering bizarre cult activity. (Probably inspired by a recent viewing of a Scientology documentary on HBO. Meg would be pissed if I didn’t mention that she was the one who told us to watch it, so I shall here officially state: Meg told us to watch the Scientology documentary. It was nuts. Tom Cruise was there. Also a galactic overlord.)

Ski Bum.
Best case scenario. But…. money.

Surgeon.
This one lost a lot of its appeal when I learned about what med school actually entails and Grey’s Anatomy started doing sing-along episodes.

Screenwriter.
Jules and I started writing a screenplay two summers ago. It’s a romantic comedy. The goal is that it will be at least as good as most other romantic comedies.

Yoga Teacher.
I really just want the Athleta discount, though.

Wizard.
Already halfway there.

 

 

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Artsy, College, Some Other Things

Lifting the Blinders

You guys, the strangest thing has been happening lately. You know those moments; you’ll be walking to the library, or making lunch in your apartment, or sitting in class, and all of a sudden the rush of things you have to get done just washes over you and you can’t breathe for a second? Well lately, those thoughts occur to me and… I don’t freak out. Some rational part of my brain that has, apparently, been lying dormant until this point in my life intervenes. It nudges the neurotic parts and whispers, “…who cares? You know it’ll be fine, right?”

And my anxiety-prone brain listens! It’s the craziest thing, really.

I’m trying to figure out what’s changed (and whether it’s possible to bottle whatever chemical is released in my brain that calms me down and then sell it for millions of dollars). I think it’s a change in perspective.

This time a year ago, Hannah and I were probably the least relaxed that we’ve ever been. We averaged 3 and a half anxious fits a week and spent all of our waking hours either working/studying or complaining about working/studying. We were applying to study abroad, and completely freaking out about it. All of the weight of the world seemed to be contained on this mile-long campus and we felt it as if it were placed right on our shoulders.

 

(This is us in this thick of the most angsty of our semesters).

In the past year, my world has gotten a lot bigger. I left campus behind for a semester, saw more world than I ever thought possible, and found out that there’s still an incredible amount left to see. Looking back on how much I dreaded leaving my comfort zone of a school, I realized how important it was that I tore myself away. (Plus, I came back with a whole new appreciation for this place. I love you, campus.)

There’s also the thought of leaving, and graduating, and moving on. It feels like the blinders have been lifted. The impermanence of our last year has a calming effect.

The middle years of college were just so intense- because we were so in it, you know? We spent the first year jumping in, getting comfortable, building our niche. And we’re spending our last year coming out of it. But the middle years, we were locked in. The universe began and ended on this campus, and it made everything feel like the end of the world. Now that we know that there will be a life beyond this, it puts this life in perspective.

It allows us to see beyond this, beyond ourselves, beyond our midterms next week. Our freshman year, Hannah and I talked a lot of things out. (It’s one of our biggest coping mechanisms, I’d say. If ever we’re overwhelmed in a situation, we usually meet for lunch and talk about what it all means until life feels a little more manageable. Philosophical lunches, we call them.)        

During our first fall at UNH, when we were trying to make sense of college, we deemed this campus a bubble. It’s an awesome bubble, probably the most fun bubble I’ve ever lived in, but it felt just a little bit removed from the rest of the world. You don’t really have to leave, if you don’t want to. There’s your classes, your best friends (who sort of double as your family), and food, and a gym, and a library, and your entire social life, all contained within this mile-long campus.

We were always aware of the bubble, because we knew this life was too awesome to be real.

Now we’re aware that the bubble is about to pop. Or at least, we’ve got one foot outside of it. One foot where we are, one foot where we’re going, as Hann put it. We’re applying to grad school and looking for jobs and realizing we only need to take two classes next semester in order to graduate.

It’s a lot of unknowns to deal with, but we’ve stared into the black hole before. We’ve felt this same anxiety before coming to college, and before getting on the plane to study abroad, and both times it’s turned out just fine. Better than fine, actually. Fine would be a spectacular understatement. Who’s to say we can’t make that happen again?

So I guess that’s what’s been happening to my brain lately. Unfortunately you can’t bottle perspective, or I’d be a millionaire by now.

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Artsy, College, Goofy

Coffee Shop Paparazzi

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 in 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?)

Surprisingly enough, Julie and I didn’t become bloggers for the fame. We hoped that our little writing venture would help us find some readers, sure, and maybe add a few names to the list of people who are secretly in love with us. Before we turned twenty-one and started posting all the beer pictures, we’d even hoped that this blog might help us get jobs at some point. (Hi future employers! We love you guys.) But fame? We never imagined becoming famous in our wildest dreams. We also never imagined Taylor Swift sexy-singing this close to aggressively dangerous animals in her Wildest Dreams music video, but here we are.

At a recent networking event, my resume and I sat down with a representative from a company that totally ignored my internship application last summer. She took one look at my EXPERIENCE section and furrowed her brow. “Wait a second, Hannah and Julie…” she said, “Did you study abroad last semester?” When I confirmed that I had studied in Spain and my roommate Julie had been in Ireland, she threw her head back and laughed. She laughed! In business casual attire! “Oh my goodness, your blog was a hoot! I read your stuff all the time after we got your application. Can’t remember why I never got back to you. I definitely loved that blog, though.”

Who needs employment when you have celebrity, am I right?

A rather astonishing number of people have been introduced to us, narrowed their eyes, and said something along the lines of: “Not to be creepy, but… do you guys have a blog or something?”

Our moms’ friends—and our friends’ moms—have started reciting our own jokes to us.

Readers on campus seem to love giving me coffee recommendations via Julie. (Ex. “Tell Hannah to try iced heavenly delight at Breaking New Grounds. It’s kind of like hazelnut.)

My friend Matt, who you may remember from the time with the finals and the pineapples, has found increasingly creative ways to work the word “basic” into everyday conversation.

Our friend Will recently began a conversation with Julie by saying, “So I was lying in bed last night thinking…how would Hannah and Julie weigh in on this?”

And last week, a bunch of girls in Julie’s major thanked me for putting their grad school feelings into words. (Julie wrote all of those words, but I still gladly accepted their praise.)

This blog has changed our lives. It really has. Now I know how Jennifer Lawrence felt after she won that first Academy Award. She once told Barbara Walters that on a perfect day, she would be able to go for a walk and buy her own coffee. Which is really kind of sad, if you think about it. J.Law’s just a regular person that happens to be charmingly witty and really good at pretending to be other people. Jules, let’s never get that famous.

But the coffee thing brings me to my next point: Julie and I had a professional photo shoot in a coffee shop on campus the last week.

Technically the photo shoot was for me. There’s this newsletter for our College of Liberal Arts, and sometimes they ask you for a student interview, which is really pretty flattering, and then they insist that a professional photographer take pictures of you trying to act natural in a crowded public place. Considerably less flattering. I begged Jules to come for moral support, and before we knew it, we were in the middle of a fucking professional photoshoot.

This is what my face looks like usually I guess!

We just wish the paparazzi would let us drink our damn coffee, you know?

The bottom line is, we love writing for you guys. Our newly acquired celeb status has made for some hilarious pictures, but running a blog really isn’t about the fame and the public’s unwavering love. It’s about the message.

We’re so lucky to have a place to share our stories, and we’re even luckier to have a community of people that understands what the hell we’re talking about. Keep reading and sharing, my friends. We love the shit out of you.

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