Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching Up: All Those Things I Meant to Say

So, I've decided that my life, lately, is boring.

I don't feel like I have that many current things that are super interesting to blog about. A lot of my favorite blogs are about the pursuit of love, about shitty first dates, about the frustrations of being single. Or they're about job-hunting in a new city. Or travel. Or starting off married life with witty anecdotes to tell and houses to decorate (and posts pictures of, which to me is like candy).

I have none of those things. For perhaps the first time ever, I'm in a healthy and fairly-simple relationship, with L. I'm in college, yes, but to me that's basically life-purgatory, since I feel that I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting for my career and life to begin. I have no time to travel. And clearly I am not a newlywed.

So, I've decided that since I'm a relatively boring person at this present crossroads in my life, why not tell you all about some neat, heartbreaking, fascinating, funny, ironic, enlightening, or otherwise interesting things that have happened to me pre-this blog. It should make me feel like I have more to write about, and keep you guys interested! (Hopefully).

This new feature will be called Catching Up, so whenever you see that title tag, you know that it's a post from the past type deal. I'm excited to start!

[Image from Audrey Hepburn Complex]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Study Abroad: The Homebody vs. The Jetsetter, Perspective #2

I asked one of my favorite bloggers, Melissa, to follow up on my study abroad post with a guest post about her own experience abroad, since she offers a totally different point of view than me. Make sure to check out her blog-- she's hilarious! And C., I hope this helps or at least doesn't confuse you further!

Hi Things I Said And Meant To Say readers! My name is Melissa, and I write the blog Duoly Noted. Michelle and I met on the blogasphere, and the other day she asked if I would be willing to write a guest blog on my study abroad experience. Obviously! I love her blog and I love talking about my time abroad.

I went to college at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and much like at Williams, over half of the junior class studies abroad. At first I really wanted to study abroad, but then after researching my options I decided it was too expensive. So I took a position as a Resident Assistant and waved goodbye to all my friends as they set off on their semester or year long adventures.

It did not take long before I started regretting my decision. All my friends were emailing me with stories of living abroad and I found myself longing to be a part of that experience. One day I just decided that I had to make it happen. I researched student loans (the program I wanted to do did not transfer my scholarships)- and about two months later I found myself on a plane to London, England where I would attend the University of Westminster via Butler University's study abroad program. It was the best decision I ever made, I fully recommend doing a program that is not affiliated with your university. You meet new people, and have a different experience then everybody else.

Almost all people come back from their year abroad gushing about how transformative their experience was for them- but believe me, I have heard my fair share of horror stories. I think before you go you really have to look hard at whether you can afford it, whether you can fit it into your schedule, and quite frankly whether you have the ability to be independent for six months to a year. Because when you are in another country, you are on your own. I have heard stories of people failing out of school, running out of money, having major medical issues, and being so incredibly homesick they just left. All things you have to consider before you leave. I ended up at an emergency room in both England and Switzerland, all in the mere 6 months I was abroad...but that is another story.

For me, it cliche as it sounds...a transformative experience. I had never been out of the country before and the second I stepped of the plane I just soaked up every single moment. I lived in an international dorm with other students in the programs, but also students from Bangladesh, Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Iraq, you name it. We all became friends and went out together...uh, a lot. I had the luxury of going to whatever museum I wanted to in London (they are all free!) and spent my 2 week spring break backpacking through Europe and riding the Eurrail with nothing but a backpack. It was amazing and something I had dreamed of doing my entire life.

The classroom was also a great experience. I really recommend studying through a program where you are physically at an international university (versus a transplant university where you are at the location, but only with students from your school). When I studied abroad the Iraq War was in full swing, and as a political science major I gained a whole new perspective sitting in a classroom with refugees from Iraq. My worldview changed immensely, and affects my political beliefs to this day.

Not everybody can study abroad, and I understand that. But if you are blessed enough to have the opportunity you should seize it, even if just for the summer. I always told myself that I would travel after college...but the truth of the matter is that life takes over after college. I went to law school, I got married, and other then vacations I haven't left the country at all. And vacations aren't LIVING abroad. I would love to live abroad, but I really don't see the opportunity to live abroad in my future (although I would never rule it out). So really, my college years were my only opportunity.

The truth is, college is a beautiful little bubble where you have the ability to seize so many opportunities that are much more difficult to grasp after you in my opinion you should take every opportunity that can you. My study abroad loans are coming due...but I would pay them back triple for that experience. It was the best investment I ever made.

Every Girl Should Have One of These When She's Sick

...and by "these" I mean an L.

I'm miserably sick with some sort of mystery illness that I have decided must one of the following four, with justifications why it may be that one:

1. Walking pneumonia, for the pounding headache, chills/crazy body temp (my body feels on fire but I keep crawling under the covers,) and weird ear congestion (?)

2. Mono, for the extreme fatigue I've felt the last few weeks (and have been attributing to working four hours on directing a show, plus classes and work, plus doing work) and the seemingly swollen lymphnode on the right side of my throat. The thermometer doesn't seem to think I have a fever, even though my head feels scorching to me (but that could be because my hands are freezing.)

3. Bronchitis, for the chest-rattling cough that produces some pretty icky mucus, and the aforementioned fatigue.

4. Flu, but most likely not the Wwine, unless I develop a fever, in which case a scary number of my symptoms match up. And Obama did just declare a national sate of emergency for the millions of people who have been infected, which is way higher than I thought we had gotten.

In any case, I do not feel well, and I've been complaining to L., who, rather than tell me to shush or get up off my butt and get stuff myself, has been getting me advil and filling my water bottle from the Brita filter. When he went to the store he said he'd get me some jello since it makes me feel better. Here is what he came back with:

I love him. A lot.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Study Abroad: The Homebody vs. the Jetsetter

Poor C. is having some study abroad woes this week, as she was all set to study in France next semester but after wading through a maze of paperwork and as her routine here in Williamstown becomes more established, she's starting to wonder if it's right for her.
I thought this was interesting because, at least here at Williams, studying abroad is SUCH a polarized experience. Probably over half the junior class chooses to go abroad, making some of us (like me) feel like we're crazy for choosing to stick it out in weather-crazy, isolated Williamstown for 2/2 semesters.

At Williams, we only have three Williams-sponsored study abroad programs. There's the Oxford program, in which students spend their entire junior year studying at Oxford. There's Williams-Mystic, where students can go and still be fairly close to campus (Mystic Seaport is in Connecticut) but also get to live on a boat and engage in maritime studies. Williams in Africa takes a group of students to, you guessed it, Africa, and we once had Williams in New York but I'm not exactly sure when that's going to be functional again.

The options are pretty slim, so many students elect to take programs offered by other schools; C.'s program, for example, is out of Middlebury College. The problem with that is sometimes the double-overload of paperwork from both the other college and the actual program, plus the cost, plus the Visa, etc., can make the experience more frightening than fun, and very overwhelming. Some schools even require you to obtain admission from that school in order to do their program; so if you want to take a program offered by Yale, for example, good luck.

Personally, I've never had much of an interest in studying abroad. But at Williams, I'm made to feel akin to a leper (okay, maybe not that extreme) for that lack of inclination. Here's my deal, though: I am a double major in English and American legal studies. There's nowhere else in the world to get as valuable an education in United States law as, well, the United States, so that rules that out. For my English major, the most logical program for me to do would have, of course, been the Oxford program, but here's the thing. I've been to England, and it's great, but I don't think living there for a year would be any better than being here at school. I would NOT want to be away for a whole year, so that basically rules the program out. Ireland or England would also be good choices for an Enlish major looking to go abroad, but I'm interested in American literature at the turn of the (20th) century, and really again, no better place for that than the U.S.

Also, my argument really boils down to this: I only have eight semesters, EVER, to be an undergraduate college student. I can travel on summers or after college. Why would I want to give one, two or even more of those semesters, ones I can never get back, up?

And so I ask you guys: Did you/do you plan to study abroad as an undergrad? Do you regret going and losing time on campus or was it the best thing you ever did (as most people say it was for them)?

[Images from Hicker Photo, Swift Passport,]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boston: A Mini Vacation

Now that it's been over a week since L. and I got back from our mini-vacation to visit our good friend Real-Life-Dan-Humphrey, it's probably time to write my post about it!

Fall Semester is always a punch in the gut because after a whopping three months off for summer, it's nearly impossible to re-train your mind to be able to tackle four intense and quite different subjects simultaneously every day, including nights and weekends, and as a result it's pretty easy to feel crushed under the weight of it all. Even though this summer was lonely and way boring at times, I did really enjoy the wake up at 7-work 9 to 5-relax until 11-go to bed and repeat routine for the amount of guaranteed, built-in winding down time it included.

Now that we're back at Williams, there's none of that. A typical day for me can involve class, work at my art musuem, another class, rehearsal, work at my campus job, write a paper, write a newspaper article, sleep, maybe. So with Reading Period (a Monday and Tuesday off before midterms in October), of course the most logical thing for us to do was put off having some free time to catch up on all the work that had piled up, and take a drive down to Boston to visit D.H.

D.H. got a job at a consulting firm out of college, so he's living in Boston with another one of our friends, who we'll just call Mystery Man since we always like to joke that women perceive his silence and dark, brooding looks to mean that he must be the most complicated man on the Earth, and thus flock to him, when in reality he's the most simple guy we've ever known. So L. and I packed our things around 10pm Sunday night, go in L.'s trusty Subaru that got us halfway across the country (our Niagara--Cincinnati--St. Louis roadtrip last summer, which I'll probably do a catch-up post about sometime), and set out on the Mass Pike to see D.H.

D.H. had been visiting his father in NYC that weekend, and so he was coming home on a bus as we were driving. Needless to say we got lost once we got off the Pike, because iPhone GPS is just a defunct piece of technology, so we ended up driving near and around the Dorchester/Roxbury at 1 am. If you know anything about Boston, you know that that is the LAST place in the city you want to be early in the morning/late at night, unless of course you're a lone (and stupid) walker or jogger in the Common.

And indeed, we did run into a menace while we were stopped at a stoplight in the area. Can you guess what?...

To be fair, in all the times I've been in Boston (probably around 50 since my house in NH is about 25-30 mins from the city) I've actually never seen a rat. At all the times of day and in all the areas, from Cambridge to Dorchester. So while gross, I was actually quite intrigued.

Anyways, after avoiding muggers, rapists and the ever-dangerous rodent, we arrived in the Brighton-Allston area, and soon enough D.H. arrived home (after his bus had broken down for the second time in as many times he took it that weekend). He set us up on his cozy sectional sofa--which we both managed to squeeze in on for two nights, although I am NOT sure how that happened--and L. passed out almost immediately. D.H. and I, in the meantime, stayed up until about 4 am catching up--even though he had to get up around 8 for work. You've only gotta admire how much this boy loves a conversation, forsaking sleep and, when he was still at Williams with us, keeping caught up on doing work, to keep it going.

So to bed I went, and briefly opened my eyes around 8:45 to see an equally unhappy D.H. about to leave for work. We gave each other bleary-eyed smiles and I went back to sleep, only to be awakened by a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed L. around 9:30, who had fallen asleep around 2am and thus was much, much less grumpy than me.

L. also didn't heed a woman's advice when I advised him that we should bring our own towels, since two 22-year-old recent college graduates bach-ing it up together would be very unlikely to have extra towels (or pillows! Which L. actually let me bring) for us, so when L. and I got showered for the day I got to use the sloppily wet towel after he took a shower. It really brightened my mood for the day.

Insufficiently dry and exhausted, I nonetheless cheered up a bit and D.H. came home to make a quesadilla (I think it's the only thing he knows how to make) for lunch and watch Sports Center, which L. (and I!) happily joined in on. Then we walked D.H. to work and got on the Prudential stop on the Green Line to head to Faneuil Hall, which is basically god's edible gift to the world.

Of course, no visit to Boston would be complete without stopping in a tacky Boston-inspired gifts store:

Then we made the obligatory visit to Newbury Comics, got some lunch and treated ourselves to dessert in Fanueil Hall: me to Columbo Frozen Yogurt and L. to...New England Clam Chowder. (Hey, I never said I loved him for his taste).

L. apparently-happily indulged me in some shopping by trying on a vest at the Gap while I agonized for about 35 mins over the fact that the Gap Boyfriend Sweater I had been eying at the end of the summer when I took a trip to Connecticut with C. was marked down to $12...but the colors I wanted it in were only available in mediums, and even those were huge! So I settled for a deep purple one that will be prime come Homecoming. Apparently that color is elusive since I haven't been able to find it online anywhere.

Exhausted from a day of T-riding and (me from) shopping, we went back to D.H.'s apartment, where I discovered that Knocked Up (aka my favorite movie of all time) was on TBS or some channel like that, and I was so content to take off my boots and curl up on the sectional that when D.H. arrived home ready to go for a walk around the Charles, I was having none of it.

After relaxing for another hour or so the three of us decided to stop being little girls (well, really the two of them did), and got ready for a night out on the town. D.H. wanted to point out some of his favorite stores, which all included really loud music and too-trendy men that we laughed at him for, and we walked down Newbury Street. After waiting patiently for the boys to play with all the shiny and expensive toys in the Apple Store, they agreed it was time for MY part of the night: going to my favorite Boston restaurant, Fire + Ice.

Fire + Ice is any foodie's dream come true. It's basically a giant donut-shaped grill (I think it's the biggest grill in the US) in the middle of the restaurant with raw bars all around filled with anything for vegans, South Beach Dieters like myself, or just plain old gluttons. There's fresh veggies, beef, poultry, pasta, sausage, seafood, burgers, rice, and so many delicious sauces. You pay one flat rate which is usually around $17 for dinner and get to go up to the grill as many times as you want. It's just glorious. PLUS we had discovered that morning that Monday night was College Night, which meant all-you-can-eat for $11!

Unfortunately, it also meant that around 8:00 on a Monday night, the wait was an hour and 45 mins long, so after getting our line-holder from the World's Bitchiest Host (a guy), we decided to go to Starbucks and wait it out. L.'s expression catches all our sentiments about the matter...

...Except for D.H., who is made as happy by chocolate-y drinks as an eight year old boy...

But his happiness was contagious, and soon enough L. and I cheered up too, although our tummies did not...

After Starbucks we went to go visit L.'s and D.H.'s friend D. McD., who graduated with D.H. and who was a member of L.'s a cappella group. (Here they are in concert. It's great stuff). D. Mc D. is currently living in a converted hotel that's part of the YWCA, which is about as funny as it gets.

FINALLY, it was an hour and a half after they had told us the wait was an hour and forty five minutes, so we headed back, where Bitchy Host told us they had called us "forever ago" and we'd have to wait. I'm sorry, but this is just not acceptable. If a restaurant overquotes your wait time, and you still show up 15 mintues earlier than they told you to, and they STILL tell you they called you "forever ago" and act like it's your fault, ask to speak to the manager. At Applebee's, we're trained to quote 5 mins per every 3 names on the waitlist, and if for some reason I do massively overquote someone, I always make sure to apologize, accept full responsibility, and give them the next available open table.

Anyways, not even terrible host could ruin the Fire + Ice experience for me. It was everything we could have dreamed and more, and after going back up three times and eating bites of the boys' burgers, we headed back to D.H.'s apartment around 10:30 completely stuffed, got out some ice cream, and the three of us settled down on the couch for some quality Gossip Girl time, which of course D.H. had had the foresight to TiVo for us.

We had another late night of chatting with D.H., and grabbed lunch with him in the Pru (Panda Express! Orange Chicken! mmmmmm) before heading back home, hardly relaxed, and certainly more stressed in terms of doing work than before we had gone. (To be fair, though, the paper I hurriedly scrambled to finish Sunday night before we left after making the deal with myself that if I didn't finish it, we couldn't go, got an A, so I'm pleased we went.)

Of course, that was over a week ago and Midterms have since kicked in and proceeded to ruin my life. Although, I did just recently turn in a pretty amazing paper if I do say so myself, during the writing of which I learned that Lincoln was a dirty unconstitutionalist! It was a sad day for American History Loving Michelle, but I think the paper turned out pretty well.

[Images via Fire + Ice, and me, for probably the first time on this blog]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Math (SO COOL!)

First off, I have to say that this is courtesy of one of those chain emails my mum likes to send me, but sometimes she hits a home run.

This is called the Chocolate Calculator and it's super cool. Here is how it works. Don't read forwards and cheat!! Make sure to do the steps one by one-- you'll be glad you did!

Your age can be predicted by the amount of chocolate you eat in a week. How?

Step 1: Pick the number of times that you indulge in some Godiva Goodness or Hershey's Heaven per week. Sadly, it must be greater than once but fewer than 10 times. If you eat chocolate more than 10 times a week...well let's put it this way: If I ate chocolate more than 10 times a week, I would die. (Allergy).

Step 2: Multiply that number by 2. (Wishful thinking).

Step 3: Add 5 to the new number.

Step 4: Multiply that by 50. (Don't be ashamed for needing a calculator...except if you're one of those 10-time-a-week-ers, in which case, you are saying "Shame? What's that?").

Step 5: If you have already had your birthday this year (from January 2009 till now), add 1759. If your birthday is later this month, or in November or December of 2009, add 1758.

Step 6: Now subtract for that the four-digit (xxxx) year you were born.

You now have a three digit number. The first number is the amount of chocolate you eat per week...

... and the second two digits are your age!!!

2009 is the only year in which this will work.

Pretty neat, huh?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Playing Catch Up and a Not-so-Hot Trend

I've been a bad blogger. I meant to write my Boston Reading Period post to visit my good friend Real-Life Dan Humphrey as soon as I got back, which was a week ago today. Shame on me. It'll be up soon!

In the meantime, I thought I'd hold a mini-rant about one of my least favorite new fashion trends: men who wear cardigans. Ew! I'm all about keepin' it classy, but the cardigan is MY go-to classy look! Find your own, boys! Ever hear of button downs? They're like the male cardigan. God made button downs so men would stay away from our cute outfit choices. (Side note: I know that we ladies sometimes like to steal your button downs to sleep in. All I can say to this is that you guys love it, we look hot, and they're so damn comfy. Cardigans can NOT be comfy--they're too constrictive against your pecs and/or chest.)

Let's observe what I'm talking about here:

Now, I'm not gonna lie to you and pretend that I may-or-may-not have been into the hipster/"scene" look in high school, back in the days of my band-tee, skinny jeans, Chucks, emo music (oh, wait, I still listen to that) and wearing glasses even though I have 20/20 vision but thought they looked oh-so-cool. (Basically, in high school I dressed exactly like Peyton from One Tree Hill in the early episodes. And listened to the same music as her. Which is why I still love that show.) But this? This is an outfit I would wear!! It may seem like a double standard, but here's my argument to that: I look hot in your clothes, boys! You don't look hot in mine! You look like you accidently reached into the left side of the closet, not the right, and didn't bother to notice that your poor girlfriend was left blue-cardigan-less in the morning. (Side note: I actually do like his hair. Sigh. Some habits will never die.)

Even these guys don't like it:

And look at this here. Soulja Boy, really? You look like a 5 year old girl in 1994 who is on her way to a birthday party at the roller skating rink. Clearly, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em is not telling 'em how to dress well.

And the one thing that's worse than men in cardigans? Men in cardigans and V-NECKS.

Come on, guys...let's leave the plunging necklines to those of us who actually have some cleavage to show off. All you've got is some hairy man-chest, and to that I say no thank you.

Or...even worse than in v-neck cardigans with NO TEE. Ewwww:

Many of you may not agree with me; the look is super popular and even John Krasinski, aka god's gift to women, sports it from time to time. There are very few times that it can be acceptable, and those times usually involve muted, solid colors, and fully-buttoned (aka...a sweater. Which is for men. Not a cardigan. Which is for women.)

Also, this is all not to say that men are going wrong with the sweater-vests, even the button-up ones that are basically sleveless cardigans:

Notice how he has the vest fully buttoned, has stuck to a muted solid color, is wearing a complementary buttondown underneath, and is overall quite a looker. It's trendy but still sticking within the confines of traditional men's classic fashion. Bravo, hot model.

Here he is again wearing glasses:

...Yup. That was for me.

[Images from Style Hive, Photobucket, Blend Fashions, Designer Labels, Terence Sambo [check out his blog!]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Over the Top!

One of my favorite bloggers Melissa, at Duoly Noted, brightened my day a lot today by naming me and my blog for the Over the Top Award! The rules for accepting this award are to answer the questions below, and to nominate six other bloggers. Thanks Melissa!

1. Where is your cell phone: Right next to me, as usual, because I'm addicted to texting.

2. Your hair: Feels so nice and CLEAN because I didn't shower until 6:00 this evening and, well, it was well needed by then.

3. Your mother: is the best because she sends me packages/cards/presents once every week or two while I'm away at school and it always brightens my day!

4. Your father: is the best because even when I tried to be independent and get my car taken care of on my own, when I felt like they were trying to take advantage of me (which they were!) he called and set them straight. Thanks Dad! (But really, I'm a big girl now...)

5. Your favorite food: Orange chicken

6. Your dream from last night: I don't remember my one last night but I've been having really horrible nightmares lately! Two nights before last I had a dream where the world was post-apocalyptic like in I Am Legend, and you could go outside if you wanted to but everywhere you went had one of those plexiglass cubes that Will Smith has in his basement because the zombie things were everywhere, so you never got anywhere because you were always running into one of those cubes. Anyway, in the dream I just had all these repeating sequences of me running into the cubes but never being able to lock the door behind me because my fingers would be shaking too badly...but they never got to me or anything, I would just have repeating scenes of that same thing. So scary! This is why I don't watch scary movies! (I watched that movie about 3 weeks ago, for the record...)

6. Your favorite drink: Darjeeling tea with no milk and two Splendas. Mmm

7. Your dream/goal: Get into one of my top 10 grad schools for their English Doctoral Program. (Berkeley, U Chicago, Northwestern, NYU, Columbia, UCLA, Washington University, Stanford, Tufts, USC)

8. What room are you in: Dorm Room

9. What is your hobby: Can blogging be a hobby? I don't really have that "one" talent that I'm great at, like singing or knitting or playing an instrument. I like to work on publications I guess, which is more of a career path than a hobby but so be it.

10. What is your fear: Not getting into any grad schools and feeling that my four years at Williams were a waste of time, or having to choose between a great school/job and L.

11. Where do you want to be in 6 years: Just graduating with my Ph.D. in English and getting offered great jobs at great schools, married with a cute apartment or condo and an even cuter dog, and living somewhere that is NOT New England.

12. Where were you last night: Driving home from Boston! (Post on that coming soon!)

13. Something you are not: Patient. Ever. (I agree with Melissa on this one!)

14. Muffins: Lead to muffin-tops, and I can't eat them anyway cause of the South Beach Diet. Story of my life.

15. Wish list items: A labradoodle. A new pair of fuzzy warm Uggs.

16. Where did you grow up: California and New Hampshire.

17. Last thing you did: Got ice cream with C. because she went to the hospital for appendicitis today! (She's okay)

18. What are you wearing: L.'s sweatpants and a henley. And SOCKS, which I hate but it's freezing. Like 20 degrees.

19. Your TV: Is nonexistent, except for the one in the common room I suppose, which has a terrible glare.

20. Your pets: Two cats (Reese and Rufus) and a golden retriever named Abby but they all live in New Hampshire, and, alas, I do not.

21. Your friends: Supportive.

22. Your life: Surprisingly stable.

23. Your mood: Completely unable to concentrate on doing work. I've checked out five weeks into the semester...not a good sign.

24. Missing someone: My best friend (Big Relationship), who hopefully I'll be seeing in a couple weeks; my parents, who I will be seeing around the same time.

25. Vehicle: is giving me a LOT of trouble right now! But I still love her...white Ford Escape that drives like a knife through butter. Except when my power steering breaks and costs $850 to replace...

26. Something you're not wearing: Makeup.

27. Your favorite store: Express if we're talking jeans, American Eagle or Gap if we're talking otherwise, J. Crew if we're talking things I can't afford.

28. Your favorite color: Turquoise!

29. When's the last time you laughed: At cast is hilarious, and I love them.

30. When's the last time you cried: When L. and I went to see the Time Traveler's Wife. UGH.

31. Your best friend: Has been so since we were fourteen, and we have a lot of history, but even ending a five-year relationship hasn't come in the way of our friendship.

32. One place you go over and over: Sushi Thai. I'm so sick of thai food....

33. One person who emails me regularly: My Mum! I should share some of her chain emails sometime soon. New blog feature?

34. Favorite place to eat: The Cheesecake Factory! OR Fire + Ice, where I went this weekend with L. and Real-Life Dan Humphrey. More details on the Boston trip coming up...

Here are the six bloggers on whom I'd like to bestow this award:

oh hay, it's kk: Hilarious law school student living in Boston, whose blog makes me literally "lol."

pardon my french: This is one of my great friends, T., blogging about her adventures studying abroad in France this semester. A good deal about wine, food and French boys...what else could you want?

The Date Girl Diaries
: I am so invested in Date Girl's relationship with Match, which she recounts with wit, charm and of course, the glow of being in love.

A Cup of Jo: Who doesn't know Jo? She's only like, the household name in blogging. Nonetheless I just had to give her some love this week because of how happy all her wedding pictures have made me! Go look at them! Now!

Everyday Adventures of Me in the City: I think I'm partly obsessed with Jessica B.'s life in the city because she lives in Chicago, which may or may not be near the top of my list for the place I want to live while attending grad school. Also, she's hilarious!

Ramblings of a Fab Brunette: Fab Brunette is, well, fab! She bakes cupcakes, has an adorable daughter, and travels the world. Is there anything sweeter in life?

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things: Jim and Pam Part II

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read this post if you haven't yet watched the Jim and Pam wedding episode!

I know I'm a bit late on the uptake with this one, but I thought it only appropriate to follow-up my first Jim and Pam post with a tribute to their wedding episode.

Now, a few disclaimers.

1. I have seen every episode of the Office probably three or four times, and more for the episodes with crucial Jim and Pam moments. I'm really, really invested.

2. I had never seen the YouTube video that the joke in this episode centers around (more about that coming up), so I felt left out and sad.

3. I really liked this episode because it was fun to see all the places we recognized from when L. and I went to Niagra Falls. That being said, there were some far-fetched moments, mainly that if you stand ANYWHERE within a 2 mile radius of the falls, you are going to get soaked.

4. Pam would have been showing WAY more if she were really that pregnant. Just sayin'.

Okay, so. The episode.

First of all, I have to say that overall I was slightly disappointed with it. It's true that I had unfairly high expectations going in, which I will be the first to admit. But the whole "Our Real Wedding is Going Shittily So We're Going to Sneak Off and Have a Secret Wedding so When the Real Wedding Goes Shittily We Will Just Smile and be Cute" plot line has been done before. Anyone see the wedding episode of How I Met Your Mother? SAME THING.

Nevertheless, it was still cute as hell. Here were my teary moments:

1. The Teaser. Yeah yeah, I know, it was like a two minute clip. But they included all the best Jim and Pam moments of the whole series! Too perfect. A+

2. Jim's Rehearsal Dinner Speech. It had my eyes welling up and my vision blurred for about the first minute...until Jim spilled the beans about Pam's pregnancy and Michael tried to do damage control, while only, of course, making things worse.

3. Maid of the Mist. This scene was almost perfect. I don't know how I felt about continuing to play Chris Brown's "Forever" in the background during their cute secret wedding.

There was a lot going on in this episode--it was an hour-long special, after all. Some of the plotlines were genius, and some were just plain bad.

Meemaw. Since when has Pam has this grandma? I don't think she's ever come in before. And would a grandma really refuse to come to her grandchild's wedding because she was pregnant while being engaged? Really Meemaw? Her scenes with Michael were kind of funny, though. B-.

Dwight. D.S. quote of the episode: "I'm ravenous after a night of lovemaking." Hilarious. My dad says that they should just kick Jim and Pam off the show and center it around Dwight. I vote no on that, but I can admit that he was hilarious in this episode. A.

Andy's Ripped Scrotum. That's right. Andy tried to do a split while dancing, landed on his keys, and tore his scrotum. It would have been so much funnier if I didn't feel like I was going to pass out from the idea of it. (I'm SUPER woozy). Also, "I spent the night with the bride the night before her wedding." Classic. I had thought that maybe they'd do something with an Angela-Dwight-Andy throwback since she was engaged to both of them at one time, and they were at a wedding after all. B

Pam's Morning Sickness. I just couldn't even handle this scene. (Queasiness again). It was totally unnecessary and not really even that funny. Basically, Dwight refuses to stop eating his hard-boiled eggs at his desk, Pam throws up in her trashcan, and everyone in the office proceeds to throw up...everywhere. Gross. D

Chris Brown "Forever" Wedding Entrance. Just like Andy's scrotum, I'm torn over this one. On one had, it was pretty funny. Even though I hadn't seen the original video. On the other hand, WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR JIM AND PAM TO GET MARRIED FOR SIX SEASONS. I almost felt robbed. I know that the Maid of the Mist plotline was put there specifically for people like me, who are hopeless romantics enough to value a heartwrenching Jim and Pam wedding over comedic genius, but I guess this one was just really far-fetched for me. Regardless, I couldn't help but tear up at the Maid of the Mist scenes alternating in.

Here's the original video.

Some honorable mentions that weren't so bad:
Michael Not Having a Room
Kevin's Shoes

Plotlines the episode could have done without:
Kevin's toupee
Pam's Mom and Michael: Doesn't everyone remember Pam's mom being super nice and cute, in the first or second season when she comes to visit Pam and asks which one is Jim? What happened?

Also, I was really annoyed when Jim cut his tie because Pam ripped her veil. I know that I might sound like a heartless anti-love jerk, but if everything on my wedding day were going wrong, and I ripped my veil, and my fiancee tried to make me feel better by cutting his tie and therefore looking ridiculous, I'd just be more miserable!

OH, and I was kind of hoping they would have invited Karen to the wedding. I'm starting to love Rashida Jones after watching I Love You, Man, and I figured since she and Jim and Pam didn't leave things off too awkwardly it would have been plausible for her to have been invited.

Regardless, at the end of the day, Jim and Pam are now married, and that can never be a bad thing. For all the haters that say that the Office has committed sitcom suicide by finally having its main plot line resolved in a marriage, I say phooey. There are SO many funny things that could happen with married Jam. Plus, BABY JAM. I can't wait.

Check back for my post after Halloween, when L. and I are going to dress up as Jim and Pam!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Halloween Decorations

I'm a very festive person. My Birthday is the most important holiday of the year, but Christmas, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Halloween are not bad either.

Kidding, of course. Kind of.

Anyway, so Halloween is coming up, and since it's now officially Fall I've been trying to do some Fall-like things, for and with friends and L. This doesn't seem to be going as planned.

My mum is on the bandwagon, however: last week she sent me a package containing the following glorious items: Apple Cider donuts, Apple Bread, Pumpkin Bread and fresh-picked Apples from Mack's Apples, my favorite apple orchard of all time back home in New Hampshire. This place is heaven. They have homemade ice cream in the summer, and the aforementioned delicious items in the fall. Not to mention a pond with a dock, a tire swing, pumpkin patches...very quintessential New Hampshire.

So my mum knows that I miss it when I'm away at school, so that package came (also containing a little pre-decorated pumpkin and a gorgeous fall scarf), and I knew it was time to start doing some Fall preparations of my own. So last week L. and I headed down to Wal-Mart to get some essentials.

The only problem is, we differ on what "Fall essentials" are.

We arrive at Wal-Mart. We both stop at the Halloween baking aisle, with orange and black frosting, little sugar pumpkins, etc. We look at each other.

"Absolutely not," I say, and continue.

We arrive in the Halloween aisles. L. heads straight for the costumes. He begins showing me the costumes.

Me: But we don't need costumes. We're going to be Jim and Pam for Halloween, remember?
L.: But look at "insert costume here"! This is awesome.
Me: But we don't need it.

Next Halloween aisle contains those little plastic pumpkin buckets that you use to go trick-or-treating. L. picks one up.
L.: We totally need this.
Me: For what?
L.: We can put things in it and eat them out of it!

I don't know what to say to this.

L.: Which color should I get? (They have blue, orange, green, maybe pink?) He is holding a blue one.
Me: If you're going to get one at all, you should really get an orange one. You know, for authenticity.

It goes into the cart.

I walk into the next aisle. I am promptly stabbed with a sword.
L. (holding sword): I totally need to get this.
Me: Why?
L.: Because it's awesome.


He then finds a plastic knife/dagger thing that has red-colored liquid inside of it that fills it up when you point it downward, to make it look like you actually stabbed somebody. L. stabs me.

Me: That's disgusting.

I ask L. if we can get window clings to put on the window.
Me: L., can we get window clings?
L.: No.

Oh, those would be unnecessary.

I finally find some Halloween garland. I show L. He remains uninterested, because it's a decoration, and he only wants to get fake weapons and plastic buckets shaped like pumpkins. I put the garland in the cart. (It's now up on the wall and looks fabulous, btw.)

Finally, L. and I can agree on one awesome thing: Halloween masks. We try them on and giggle at each other, and get scowls from five-year-olds.

We're ready to leave, but I still have to get pumpkin carving kits.

Me: Do you think these [the knives and "saws" in the kit] will be big enough to carve a pumpkin?
L.: No way.

I get them anyway. We'll see if they're big enough or not probably the weekend after next, when L and Michelle Take a Trip to Apple Barn to Pick Pumpkins.

This weekend, we have Monday and Tuesday off for Reading Period, so we're going down to Boston to see Couple Friend Guy. He and C. have since broken up, so he'll have to have a new name. Probably Dan Humphrey, since he's the real-life version of him.

Expect lots of pictures from our fun weekend!

[Image from Flickr]

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Toga, Toga...Toga?

That's right, I am after all a junior in college, and, well, college students love to toga. What can I say? You can either roll with these things, or you can fight them and stay home reading contract law and writing about the Marshall Court's contributions in shaping American economic policy. (Not like anyone I have in mind would have been doing that on a Saturday night...)

Anyways, S.'s twin was in town this weekend, so the three of us and S.'s roommate set about working on our togas last night. Now, just so everyone knows, when it comes to crafts, I get way too into what I'm doing. I could just do things the simple way (like, for example, buy a memory ribbon board, but no, instead, I GLUED ribbons to a bulletin board and put pictures of L. and I in it and gave it to him; the whole endeavor took about half a day). So clearly I am not about to grab a sheet off my bed, throw it around myself, stick some safety pins in it and call it a day (or toga).

Thus, three hours of work went into a toga that I wore for probably all of 35 minutes at a dance party. But, it's college, and it's go toga or go home.

Here, S. Twin and I show off our authentic Roman headgear. Didn't you know that Romans had developed plastic flower technology?

Here we have a group shot taken after the men arrived. Just for the record, I spend THREE HOURS on my toga, what with gluing ribbon onto the hem and braiding the halter top, etc. These boys just showed up, threw on some sheets, and boom, were ready to go. Not fair. Absolutely not fair. That's L.'s friend Hockey Player, L., myself, and S.

Needless to say, it's difficult to transition from the leisurely life of a Roman back to the trials and tribulations of the Marshall Court. Hence the 11:00pm post on a Sunday...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jenna's Picks and Their Budget-Loving Alternatives

Especially now that I'm out $846.00 because of my car, I need to be watching the budget. While it was only for a brief but glorious moment in time, this summer and fall I was actually in a position to be pairing expensive indulgences with penny-pinching finds, which worked wonders in increasing my wardrobe staples and updating my style. But alas, those days are gone, not to be back until most likely next summer when I can once again work 40 hours a week, and escape from the misery that is the life of a poor college student with car troubles.

Enough of the melodrama.

J. Crew has creative director Jenna's current Picks up on their site. At this moment in time, Jenna's all about unexpected pairings--to quote from the site, "sweet with sleek, soft neutrals with black and a shot of red." The pieces have a lot of fall trends integrated, while polished with a J. Crew classiness: the biker babe look is evident in their studded belts and motorcycle jackets, but when the belts are pink leather and the jackets are paired with red pumps, you can see this rebel-style all grown-up.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the current Picks, and, in as much of an effort to help myself curb spending as the rest of you, their cheaper, guilt-free doppelgangers.

First up is the J. Crew Belstaff Leather Bomber Jacket (left). I have to say right off the bat that this isn't a piece I would personally own; anyone who knows me knows that the rosy cheeks, big brown eyes, and pearl earrings hardly scream "leather bomber biker," but I still admire those who can pull the look off well. This piece obviously has J. Crew's collaboration with Belstaff going for it, which delivers both name-brand appeal and an assurance of quality. I mean, really, who wants to get the $19.99 Wal-Mart fleece pullover when there's a staple black North Face fleece to be had? I'm not going to lie, when it came to buying a fleece, I wanted the real thing.
But here are my arguments against the bomber. Firstly, I wear my fleece every day. Who is going to wear their Belstaff to class or the office? Secondly, at $1,195, I could pay for my car to get fixed twice over--hell, I could almost buy a new car, for the amount of money I would spend on this jacket.

Here's my alternative to the Belstaff: the American Eagle Leather Moto Jacket (right). First of all, it's cognac-colored, and anyone who has seen my new boots can attest that it's only the most beautiful and perfect fall color ever. Secondly, at $250.00, it's guaranteed not to break the bank. You could buy almost FIVE of these bomber jackets for the price of one J. Crew Belstaff. And, it'd more versatile--appropriate for the office, class or retaining femininity while giving off an edge of rebelliousness on a date.

I've been on the prowl lately for some skinny jeans that I can fit into my boots (they're really fitted around the calves; flared or even boot-cut jeans just won't cut it). The J. Crew Ankle Stretch Toothpick Jean in Twilight Wash seems like it'd be great, but definitely presents two big drawbacks. The first is that, although the ankle stretch cut would fit beautifully into my boots (the less material, the better!), my hips are WAY too wide to wear these on their own, with flats. Therefore, they'd be completely defeating the purpose of finding new skinny jeans to wear with the boots, by the boots being the only shoes I could wear with the jeans. At $125.00, they're almost as much as the boots themselves! Unjustifiable.

However, I could just be a prude. My idea of splurging on jeans is to shop at Express. At 59.50, I feel like I'm paying just enough to ensure good quality, while not paying hiked-up prices for a brand or, worse, for no good reason at all. I've been eyeing the Express Stella Skinny Leg Jean for awhile. Express jeans are the ONLY jeans that fit me just right and feel true t0 size; actually, when I lost two jeans sizes this summer after South Beach I was shocked to see I even fit into my size in Express, and not only that, they're actually loose! Anyways, I can be the biggest voucher in the world for these jeans, and would buy these ones gladly if I could get to an Express within 150 miles of Williamstown =(.

J. Crew/Jenna recommend that "a chic little belt is all you need to instantly update your wardrobe." Theirs are designed to be worn around the waist, and so they recommend getting a size up if you're going to actually use a belt to hold up your jeans (who does that, anyways?). I actually really like this Studded Skinny Belt and wouldn't be completely horrified if I knew that someone spent $35.00 on it. Except I know that J. Crew would like if I wore it around the waist on the outside of a cardigan, which is one trend I can just NEVER get into. Who WANTS to make their hips look bigger???

Anyways, while a $35.00 belt isn't going to mean giving up dinner one night to reward yourself with studded-leather luxury, I'm always convinced there's something out there that's just as cute and much, much cheaper. And what do you know, I found this: a Faux-Leather Silver Belt at Old Navy for a mere $10.00! It might not be Italian lambskin leather with a solid brass buckle, but here's my philosophy: who needs to know??? If you don't tell anyone you're not wearing Italian lambskin leather, they won't ever know you're not wearing Italian lambskin leather--and you'll have $25.00 left over to maybe buy two more in gold and pink.

Something amazing happened while I was browsing and doing price-comparisons with some of Jenna's other Picks. I found this GORGEOUS Shawl Collar Cardigan in a beautiful oatmeal color on the h(y)r collective magazine blog, and realized it was a $590.00 version of a very similar cardigan at J. Crew! The h(y)r collective cardigan is 80% lambswool, 20% nylon and guaranteed to hold its shape for years. The shape is neutral enough to be worn with almost anything. However, at $590.00 you'd HAVE to wear it with everything.

I'm surprised I'm doing this but I'd say if a good, chunky and quality-made knit cardigan with big cute buttons is what you're dying for this fall, the J. Crew Donegal Shawl Cardigan is the much, much more economic investment. It's a wool/mohair/angora heathered yarn and, though it's a touch more pink than the oatmeal cardigan and thus perhaps less versatile, at $148.00 you could buy more clothes to pair with it and STILL pay less than the h(y)r collective version!

I may be picking up that Old Navy silver metallic belt to go with a particular purple dress you may remember from an earlier post, but sadly, my goal here today was to find and provide cheap and gorgeous alternatives for all of you, while having no intentions of buying, myself. How very Emma of me. Until I can make back the money I have to put into fixing my car, I'll be trying to reinvent and update old pieces, without buying any new ones.

[Images from respective stores; find links within text. (Do some shopping!)]

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Collage Board: Cupcakes

I've been really responding to visual stimuli lately; seeing beautiful things, whether they are organic (the orange autumn light, the leaves changing on the trees, children eating ice cream) or images, they've really been making the serotonin work for me big time. And since today left me feeling a little down (read my post below to see why), I decided I would search for some of these images and share them. I'll do this from time to time, and create collages of images with a central theme that make me happy and, I hope, do the same for others.

Tonight's theme is something I haven't been able to eat much of lately (South Beach, damn you!) but still love to look at: Cupcakes!

Also, I realize one of the photos is of candy apples. Frankly, they're still spherical and delicious.

[Images via Ffffound, Audrey Hepburn Complex, Starling Fitness, Flickr, My Recipes]

The Unthinkable

Today, I got the


My car had been making this really pitiful whining noise whenever I turned my wheel lately. It's always been kind of whiny but lately the noise was more intense and accompanied by a gross burnt-rubbery smell whenever I turned the car off, so I knew it was time to bring it down to the shop.

We have pretty much one shop in Williamstown (monopoly?) so I brought it there hoping that it ws something insignificant, like I'd have to replace the power steering fluid. They gave me a call a little while ago to deliver the damage:

I have to get my steering rack replaced. It is going to cost EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS.

I literally felt like I was going to cry. In psychology, we learn all this dribble about how people with more money aren't really happier; when people win the lottery they, overall, aren't really happier than anyone else.

I say, that's bullshit. If I won the lottery, I'd be much happier, all the time. Similarly, when I find out I'm losing EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS, I fall into a deep depression. I might be shallow. I might be materialistic. But it's not even like I was going to use that money to buy all sorts of meaningless shit or anything. I work really hard for my money (I have three jobs!) and I'm really proud of it; I kind of like just hoarding it up and seeing it and being pleased.

So I thought about it, and I know what I have to do.

I have to sell the boots.

It's the most heartbreaking thing in the whole world, but I DO still need to make some more purchases (like my Express skinny jeans I've been eyeing) to justify even keeping the boots at all and to make them even remotely useful, and I just feel super guilty now.

I don't know if I can bring myself to do it, and I've technically already worn them (I mean...I've tried them, so I'm not sure if I can even do it. But basically the really cute fall I was looking forward to with constant trips to the Apple Barn, and new fall clothes, and celebrating L.'s and my One Year Anniversary with an exorbitantly and unnecessarily extravagant dinner/night of amazingness looks like it might not happen now.

I was going to write about my golf lesson with Drew today, but now I'm too depressed. I will relay one conversation:

(While learning shots with the sand wedge in the sand trap)
Drew: Keep your head down. Keep your head down. Keep your head down.
Me: I think you guys should have to keep your heads down so you can't see how much I suck at this!