Wordy Wednesday: A New Story

Just turned in my final project for screenwriting! Which means spring term is dooone. (And now I have about five hours to get my room packed and cleaned so the amazing friend who’s subletting it while I’m in NYC can move in next week.)

I haven’t done much outside of that this past week, because I had a super nasty cold over the weekend that left me marathon napping for three days. But a friend and I did go stargazing out in the woods at midnight last night, which was fun, and (fingers crossed) I should have a last couple good adventures in Michigan this weekend.

THEN IT’S OFF TO NEW YORK FOR THE INTERNSHIP WHAAAT. (Hopefully I can get that last BookCon recap post up before I’m, you know, back there.)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem I wrote this time last summer. Specifically: I wrote it the afternoon of June 23rd. Because June 24th, 2014 was the day I left for Europe. (So weird how I’m leaving a place again on this day in 2015.)

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This time tomorrow
I’ll be on a plane
with no certain future
to explain–
just an adventure,
no idea who I’ll become.

This time tomorrow
I’ll be in the sky,
a good friend beside me as
I kiss this life goodbye–
so far away from the people
who brought me to today.

And I’m scared of the turbulence,
terrified of the falls.
But I am going anyway
before the world shrinks too small.

Say hello to a new tomorrow,
a new continent beneath my feet.
Say goodbye to all this sorrow,
new houses on an old street.

I don’t know where I’ll be going–
but I’ll be writing a new story.

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Here’s to all the new stories we’ll get to tell this summer.

Thanks for reading!

~Julia

2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year’s! I’m writing this post from the last day of 2014, but scheduling it to go live the first day of 2015. Whoohoo.

2014 was an amazing year. A lot of bad stuff happened, but also a lot of good. And I’m both parts excited and terrified to see what happens in 2015.

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How I Did with My 2014 Resolutions

1. Finish writing a novel. 2014 was an interesting year for writing. I didn’t finish a novel, but I did complete a really intense revision on one and won NaNoWriMo with another, and wrote a billion short stories and songs and poems. So technically, despite not finishing a novel, I did a lot of writing this year. Still, nothing stands out as, like, a Great Piece of Writing, which is disappointing, but happens sometimes. I’ve always had off years. Here’s to hoping the writing starts working again in 2015.

2. Be able to run a mile. I’ve had to face the realization the past couple months that I likely will never be able to run a mile without murdering myself. I’ve been working on getting into better shape (thirty situps every morning and night; forty five minutes or so on the treadmill every other day; hiking when I have time)–but as my legs have been getting stronger, my lungs seem to just get weaker and weaker. I can’t go up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. I almost died from pneumonia when I was little and I have both allergy and exercise-induced asthma, so it looks like my lungs are telling me no and I should listen.

3. Read fifty books. Accomplished! I read fifty one books this year and am partway through like five more. Having a reading goal was a really big help in getting me to focus, since it’s so easy to get distracted by Netflix and stuff.

4. Stop watching as many television shows. Accomplished. I was down to actively watching only two shows this semester (Once Upon a Time and The Flash) and that really helped give me more time to do more important things. (Although I did spend a lot of time watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix too.)

5. Learn how to play the ukelele. Accomplished! I bought myself a uke over winter semester and although I’m really terrible, I can indeed play it.

6. If I don’t study abroad this summer, GET MY FREAKING DRIVER’S LICENSE. This is probably the resolution I’m most proud of because I DID BOTH THESE THINGS. I studied abroad at Oxford, one of my biggest dreams, aaand I got my driver’s license on Tuesday. (I’d been putting off taking the driving test for four years because I’ve always been too busy to take it–I still needed to get parking down–but my mom and I spent approximately a thousand hours this break teaching me how to park, and I passed on my first try! Watch out, world.)

7. Do something selfless each week. This is probably the resolution I’m most disappointed in myself over because I absolutely sucked at being selfless this year. I’ve spent a lot time this year thinking solely about myself and my wants, and that needs to change.

8. Make new friends. Accomplished! I’ve met so many amazing people this year, it’s incredible. And I’m so grateful for every one.

9. Sell stuff on ebay. Lol nope. Those boxes of old clothes are still sitting in my bedroom.

10. Do more outdoorsy activities. Accomplished. I was actually outdoors so much this summer I got a tan.

11. Clean my room. See #9.

12. Pass all my classes with at least a 3.0. Accomplished. I got lots of B-range grades this year, thanks to my inability to science, but thank God, the gen eds are finally done.

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2015 Resolutions

1. Have at least one adventure a week. Whether it’s just going for an impromptu walk downtown or going on a road trip or trying something new, I want to get out and do stuff more. I have too much Netflix in my life.

2. Intern somewhere this summer (or get a regular summer job). My goal is to do a publishing internship this summer, but if that doesn’t work out for whatever reason, just working in general this summer is something I need to do.

3. Volunteer. Not sure what this will look like yet, but I haven’t done volunteer work, like working at a soup kitchen or going on a mission trip or something, since high school. And I’m starting to miss it.

4. Pass all my classes with at least a 3.5. My GPA isn’t in a terrible place right now, but it is lower than I want. I also really want to four-point a semester this year, since I haven’t done that since I was a freshman and OHMYGOSH I am going to be a senior next fall semester.

5. Work out at least three times a week and keep doing my daily situps. My goal is a flat stomach. It turns out your metabolism slows down in college and THAT STOPS BEING A GIVEN.

6. Take better care of myself in general. I’m not very good at taking care of myself. I like challenges, so I subconsciously sabotage myself a lot by, like, putting myself directly in the line of fire for getting the flu or not sleeping enough before a test and stuff, and yeah, that needs to stop.

7. Make new friends. Really, this is a goal we all should have always.

8. Get better at running Chapter One Events, LLC. It turns out businesses are really hard, dude.

9. Clean my room. It finally sunk in this break that I’m (hopefully) going to be moving out of my parents’ house in a year and a half and ain’t nobody wanna deal with the amount of junk I’ve got strewn about when it comes time to do that.

10. Read fifty two books. One a week sounds perfect.

11. Travel a lot. At least for now, I’m done with sitting still for long periods of time. I want to go everywhere.

12. Let what happens happen. I’ve been increasingly stressed over some stuff the past couple years and, honestly, that’s not helping me in any way. 2015’s going to be the year of learning when to hold on and when to let go.

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What are some of your resolutions for 2015?

~Julia

Tales of Wales

This past week, my study abroad programme took us on a four day field excursion to Wales. It was absolutely UNBELIEVABLE there. So full of history and natural beauty.

The first day (Wednesday), we began with a visit to a field to examine some rocks that supposedly look like sheep (“supposedly” is an important word here), then stopped through the Avebury district, which is still in England, but near the Welsh border. It’s home to the big brother of Stonehenge, a group of trees Tolkien apparently used to write under, and several neolithic burial mounds.

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IMG_4667Please pardon my inability to properly take panos.

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From there we drove to our first stop in Wales: Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey is an old monastery that has long since lost its ceiling and floor–but the walls still stand.

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We also made quick stops in the Forest of Dean, explored the grounds of a castle at night, etc.

Throughout the trip, we mainly stayed in cute little inns that our group of twenty+ booked out. They fed us lots of hearty, home-cooked meals. Potato and leek soup might just be my new favorite thing (which is saying something since I normally abhor both potatoes and soup).

Day Two (Thursday) found us heading all over. We made stops in Caerwent, Wentlooge Levels and Peterstone Wentlooge, Caerffili Castle, Rhondda Valley, Brecon Beacons, Brecon, Builth Wells, Elan Valley, Cwm Ystwyth, and Cors Goch and Dyfi Estuary. (Basically: ALL THE PLACES.)

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IMG_4779Yes. Those are cows on the beach. (Also: the land on the horizon is Cardiff.)

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(Random note: I just finished watching the newer film adaption of Prince Caspian and it made me SO SAD about how my class is just about done and I’m leaving Oxford in a little over a week and I DON’T WANT TO GO.)

IMG_4841Our programme director made the mistake of stopping by a field with some horses in it to give a lecture on mountaintop removal mining’s effect on Welsh’s resources. The fact that I have approximately twenty pictures of the horses and none of the decimated mountaintops tells you how distracting they were.

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Day Three (Friday) was the highlight of the trip for me (and probably everyone else, too). We began with a visit to Barmouth, which is a gorgeous (but unfortunately polluted) touristy port by the Irish Sea. We then visited a beach and ate lunch overlooking a castle–followed by my absolute favorite part of the field excursion: hiking in Snowdonia National Park.

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IMG_4899I give you: Snowdonia. AKA The Most Beautiful Place This Side of Heaven.

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Also: Sheep.

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IMG_4966#SheepButtSelfie

We hiked up some hills and around a lake.

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We spent the night in a cute town along the coast called Llandudno. A friend and I explored the pier before collapsing exhausted into our beds.

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Day Four (Saturday), we began with a tour of the Great Orme Mine, which is the oldest known bronze mine in Great Britain and SUPER. COOL. (Both in the literal and figurative senses.) I was really tired of taking pictures at that point, though, so I skipped the iPhone shots of that one.

After that, we were off to another castle (Caernarfon, this time), followed by a tour of of a hydro-electric power station hidden entirely in a mountain (no pictures allowed, unfortunately).

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IMG_5095In this shot you can see part of the old wall the English used to keep the native Welsh out of their special little walled city, back in the day.

We made a couple more short stops after the power plant, but mostly we spent the rest of the day on the bus back to Oxford, alternating between slaphappy singalongs and sleep.

Gorgeous where it’s wild, unique and fierce where humans have done their best to tame it, Wales is a place unlike any other. Just… amazing. I desperately want to go back.

(But first things first: My programme is currently having a blanket fort party/movie marathon. So see ya.)

 

~Julia

Talk to you in two weeks!

Hannah and I leave for Europe tomorrow! I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. I’m so excited and scared and nervous and excited and I have no idea how I’m going to sleep tonight.

I’m going to miss you during the next couple weeks before we get to Oxford, but I’m also thrilled to share all the awesome interviews and guest posts I’ve got scheduled. (Thanks to everyone who sent one in!)

Fingers crossed I’ll have wifi access and downtime here and there so I can post on Facebook and tweet and reply to emails. But if not, I hope you have an amazing two weeks, and–pending survival of all this tourism we’re going to be up to–I’ll talk to you when I’m settled at my new dorm!

Love you! ❤ Bye!

 

~Julia

Central Park and Airplanes

Sorry I didn’t get the chance to post yesterday! We didn’t get home until midnight and I had been fighting nodding off the entire way (for some reason a weekend of being touristy in NYC can do that to you), so I just collapsed on my bed the instant I was through the door.

BookCon ended Saturday evening, so Sunday was purely a day for sightseeing. We started with brunch at a French restaurant (peppermint tea and a multi-grain waffle with fresh strawberries and syrup and whipped cream!). Then we were off to Central Park. (Side note: I just yawned and my right ear finally popped after getting off the plane at TEN. THIRTY. last night. Gee thanks, ear.)

We spent the majority of the afternoon walking around Central Park. It was about seventy five out and sunny, which meant the park was packed. The lawns were practically standing room only with so many people spread out to nap or eat or play catch or just take it all in. We trekked to the Obelisk (which was unfortunately under construction, but still pretty cool), the Alice in Wonderland statue (adorable children climbed all over it, paying no mind to the heat), and the Strawberry Fields mosaic (where a guy with a guitar sang “Imagine” and laughing tourists crowded the mosaic for pictures).

After Central Park, it was a whirlwind of making it to our plane on time. We stopped at a street vendor for fresh fruit on our way back to the hotel, then grabbed our luggage and hit the road–at which point all efforts to reach the airport were thwarted by multiple car accidents that completely stopped traffic on our way through Queens to LaGuardia.

Fact: Getting in a car accident in New York City seems to be about one of the worst places to get in a car accident. The firetrucks and ambulances were slow on their way to and from the accidents because so many cars blocked their way to them and these blocking vehicles had nowhere to go. Add in the impatient taxi drivers and angry tourists, and it’s like something out of a disaster movie.

Despite all that, though, we did make it to the airport with plenty of time. We got dinner at one of the LaGuardia food courts, caught a ride with a very bored-looking airport transport vehicle driver dude (thank God, because suitcases full of books are HEAVY), then it was onto the airplane.

Which immediately began to loudly beep. Like it was going to explode.

“It’s just the smoke detector in one of the bathrooms,” a flight attendant assured the guy across the aisle from me. “Although, we can’t seem to find any smoke, so that’s strange.”

I obviously spend far too much time thinking up crazy, violent acts for stories, because my first thought was that someone had rewired the thing to turn it into a bomb and the plane was going to blow up the moment they turned the engines on.

With the help of some maintenance people, they managed to turn the alarm off (which then required closing the bathroom, which then led to massive lines to get into the working one for the duration of the flight–fun times).

Anyway, I spent the flight reading The Lord of the Rings in preparation for Oxford, and mi madre did Sudoku, and Hannah read a Percy Jackson book, and I’m not really sure what Hannah’s mom did because I couldn’t spy on her from my seat. But rest assured, we didn’t blow up and safely made it home and I miss New York already.

But I’m also really glad to finally get some sleep.

Next up in the Summer of Bookish Traveling: Chicago for the Chapter One Young Writers Conference! If I haven’t already driven you crazy with how much I go on about it, you can check out our website at www.chapteroneconference.com. The conference will take place Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15 outside Chicago and it’s for anyone interested in writing, ages 12-22. Registration closes next Wednesday (the 11th), so you should get on that if you might want to come! We’d love to have you. 🙂

Watch out for an in depth, rambling post about BookCon on Saturday (and possibly a review of BookCon as an event, itself) sometime this week!

 

~Julia