Across the World and Back Again

After a ridiculously fun and exciting month away, I’m back! I can’t believe that my trip is over, and I’m still a little jet-lagged, but I want to get everything I can down about the trip before it all starts to slip away. I don’t know how I’m even going to begin to tackle this, but I think it’s all still fresh enough to recount to my satisfaction. And to Sarah’s, as she’s told me she is looking forward to my recap, and I don’t want to disappoint!

But a quick note before I do: I want to thank my lovely sister, Stephanie, for keeping my blog company while I was gone. She’s currently loving LA and getting closer and closer to getting a job everyday. She’s definitely doing much better than she’d been doing in NYC, so I’m happy for her!

And one more note: I wanted to make this recap complete with amazing pictures, but unfortunately, I’m the forgetful type who leaves cameras and iPods in my sister’s car before getting on plane rides home…so no pictures as they are currently traveling home through the kindness of UPS. Fail.

So…here we go.

On Tuesday, I left my house at 4AM (painful, I know) and traveled to LA. I ran into my American camp BFF, Sharon’s, arms around 2PM Cali time, and we proceeded to spend a ridiculous EIGHT hours in LAX, waiting for our flight. (My dad wanted to pad my flight time, just in case…they wouldn’t even let us check our bags until 6!) It seemed an endless wait. Finally, at 10PM, we boarded our 15 hour flight (economy seating surrounded by 4, yes FOUR, babies…for 15 hours.) Luckily, I’d been up for about 22 hours at that point, so I fell asleep halfway through Mamma Mia, which I couldn’t even see as in economy, the only screen you get is a giant projection at the front of the section, which short people can’t see. Again, fail.

But when we got off the plane in Melbourne, it was totally and completely worth it. We walked out of baggage claim, and standing in the middle of a huge crowd of people, was Sarah’s smiling face. She screamed. We all ran to each other and hugged, and I instantly felt somehow at home, halfway around the world.

That was instantly tested when we got in the car, which if you don’t know, is doing the whole other side of the road thing, which you don’t think will be that weird, but it totally is! Every time Sarah made a quick left turn, I had a heart attack. On the drive, Sarah pointed out some landmarks to us as we drove through the heart of Melbourne, and I could tell how excited she was to tell us about the city.

Sarah warned us that the first day would seem like a blur, and she was definitely right. I know we got back to Sarah’s apartment in a very posh neighborhood on the cutest street ever, before heading out to explore the city. We walked around one of the big shopping streets then met Sarah’s dad for lunch (who, over the course of the trip, became one of my favorite people ever), but the whole time, I just felt weird. I thought jetlag was just tiredness, but it was really just an off-feeling. It was bizarre.

That night, I somehow pulled it together enough to make a good first impression on all Sarah’s friends at their favorite pub, the Knott. We (Sharon and I) got a Pot and Parma (pot of beer and chicken parmesan – omg, so delicious!), and met some fabulous people – Anna, Katie, Taryn, Sheeho, Dan, Steve – I didn’t know it then, but many of them, too, would soon become some of my favorite people. I should have expected that Sarah would have amazing friends – I mean, she’s friends with me! – but I was surprised by how welcoming they were and how genuinely excited they were to meet us. Sadly by nine, the jetlag got the best of us, and we had to head home.

Friday we hit the ground running. We drove about an hour outside Melbourne to hit the first of many elementary field trip-like attractions we would visit on our trip. Seriously, everyone we told about this outing had the same reaction – Oh my god! Puffing Billy! I haven’t been there since I was four/three/two! (The age somehow always got younger.) Basically, the Puffing Billy is a historic steam train in the Dandenong Mountains.

It’s tradition for kids to sit on the railings with their feet hanging over the side of the train (affectionately know to us later as sitting “Puffing Billy style”) We thought we would go for a half an hour ride (courtesy of Sarah’s dad – a big wig in the tourism industry who, along with Sarah, a force herself in the industry, got us tickets to EVERYTHING.) We got on and enjoyed the ridiculously beautiful views of the countryside. When we got to the first stop, however, we were ready to head back.

Unfortunately, we were told we had tickets to the next stop then an hour “layover” of sorts until the train went back the other way. We made the best of things and decided to get lunch at the little snack stand, which we were told was the only place to eat. We ate outside, where Sharon and I had our first sighting of a magpie, a freaky looking bird who got entirely too close to my sausage roll. (I also tried my first bite of meat pie!)

We then walked around the area to look at some more animals when we discovered an actual restaurant with indoor seats and non-microwaved food. Thanks Puffing Billy workers for that tidbit of information. Oh well. We had fun. On the way back, we got an indoor “private” car, since it was a bit chilly, and had some…interesting conversations until a couple got in the car behind us and proceeded to make out the entire ride back!

We then rode back into town to meet Sarah’s work friends for drinks, but not before stopping at her office and taking some ridiculous photos. (They’re coming, I promise!) Sarah’s work friends were lovely, again not surprising, but also not surprising, jet-lag kicked my ass again around 6, and we had to head home before I fell asleep at the bar.

And, now I have to go get ready to go grocery shopping with my mom. This recap is going to take longer than expected…luckily, nothing interesting is happening to me at all right now, so I feel like I have time to do this trip justice.

On one more note: class starts today at my college, and for the first time in four years, I’m not there. I’m trying to ignore this fact t0 the best of my ability.

Rising up, back on the streets

Hanging out in Baltimore at my friend Hope’s house. She’s watching the Ravens game. I’m taking a break from football, since the Steelers are comfortably in the playoffs already.

Last night I slept over at my aunt and uncles house and my cousins and I played a lot of Rock Band. Fun times all around. They, being 16 and 11, were much more fun to play with than my 8 year old cousins. 8 year olds are irrational and don’t like to let their older cousins have turns. They also play the same two songs over and over again, because they have a limited musical knowledge. If I ever here “Eye of the Tiger” again, I’ll scream.

So the Brown family extravaganza was pretty fun. Sort of tiring and sort of gave me a three day headache. Kids are a lot to take. When my one little cousin was saying goodbye, he went to give me a hug, and then slapped me in the face instead. And then laughed. Oooh, children. Heh heh.

Also, because Amanda is gone, I didn’t get a stocking this year. And everyone else in the family got a Wii except us. Ha.

So I’m going to LA a week from tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll find a job so I can finally have an answer to give people when they ask. I’ve just started making stuff up for people I don’t really know. I’m so sick of explaining my life. When I went to get my haircut last week, I just pretended to be from Delaware and I pretended to have a job. I really just didnt feel like putting forth the effort to explain anything. So sick of it.

I also hate explaining that no, I don’t have a job lined up. You can’t line up jobs in the entertainment industry unless you’re real well connected. Blarg. I’m not an accountant!

Ok, back to pretending to care about the Ravens game. Can’t wait to see Amandini next week.

“Run, run away from crazy snake man, they’ll shout!”

I feel sad that my post made Amanda cry more. I wish she were here and not sad! I also hope she brings me back an Australian boyfriend.

We’ll make up for it with the “Amanda gives Steph a tour of LA” fun times we’re gonna have in a week and a half. Ahh! A week and half. That just freaked me out a bit. New life ready go.

Days 1 and 2 of the festivities were fairly fun. Yesterday didn’t feel too much like Christmas, since I got no stocking or presents, and we didn’t eat ham loaf. But whatevs. Hearing about all my cousins’ presents and friends’ presents was good enough for me.

Speaking of cousins, my 11 yr old cousin Grace is now almost as tall as me, and my 16 yr old cousin Taylor now towers over me in his tallness. I told them I remember when they were babies. And then I realized that I sounded like one of those old aunts who pinches your cheeks and squeals “OH, how much you’ve grown!” And that scared me. Being an adult is lame.

The most amusing part of the night was around the dinner table when we somehow got to talking about weddings, and every family member recounted a funny story from his or her wedding. This made me laugh while also making me feel like an old maid when I realized that all of these stories took place when my relatives/parents were younger than I am now. I’m going to be a cat lady.

The best story was recounted by my 98 year old great grandmother, who got married in 1934 during the Depression. Her wedding was dry, but apparently her photographer showed up wasted. So, all her pictures came out sideways or blurry. Then my dad told us the story of how he got his best friend completely drunk at his bachelor party, and then left him in the basement of the bride-to-be’s parents. Oh Brown family stories.

This conversation was ended by Grace asking if “We could please talk about something in this century.” Ha.

Now my mom and I are prepping the house for the Hanukkah party tonight. I’m starving myself as long as possible so I have room for all the brisket, latkes and challah that will be inhaled by me later tonight. Off to the grocery store!

I’m free!

Amanda got to Australia safe and sound, after about three straight days of traveling. Apparently the flight was bumpy 75% if the time. Her words to me were, “I don’t think you would have lasted.” She also said she tried not to think about Lost too much. ::shudder:: I’m going to need some pills before I fly to California.

In other good news, the deposit check from my new subletter is in my hand. Well, sitting on my desk next to me.

So, it’s official! I am free of this apartment and ready to get the heck out of New York City. Glee. Sure, its 8 months after I should have been out there in the first place, but whatevski. I’m happy.

Tonight I will be attending the New York TV Festival party, as my last official New York social event. Fitting, since my first day of interning for them, I helped set up for and work a cocktail party for them, which was my first official New York social event. Should be fun. I have a supercute new dress to wear. There will be alcohol and people I haven’t seen in awhile. Maybe I can ask them if they have an California hookups.

I was going to go home tomorrow, but apparently a historic blizzard is going to hit overnight and for the next two days. So maybe I’ll be stranded in this apartment even longer. Goodie. The weather always seems to get in my way.

Three more days of semi-packing and watching The West Wing on Surfthechannel. What could be better? Meh.

Good Morning Class, I’ll be your substitute teacher, Stephanie…

So my little sis has asked me to guest blog for her so her ads don’t get mad at her.

I thought about just posting an embarrassing story about Amanda’s childhood every day that she’s in Australia, but decided against it. I know she’d get me back somehow.

Well, maybe I’ll just tell two stories about her childhood. Two she enjoys telling people in conjunction with each other as a demonstration of how put upon she was as the little sister.

First, an intro to these two stories:
We used to live in a neighborhood full of kids our age and houses being built, which meant lots of dirt piles and other fun natural playgrounds. Amanda, in kindergarden at the time, liked to tag along with me and my much older and more mature third grade friends. I didn’t always appreciate it.

Story 1:
One day I decided to exert my oldest-ness and concoct a way to “get” her. I decided that my cool friends and I would convince Amanda she was dead. Don’t ask me how we came up with this plan. It probably had something to do with wanting to use the cool angel wings my friend Jessie had.

The plan went like this: Amanda was swinging on my friend’s swingset, when said friend came over wearing the angel wings to tell Amanda she had fallen off the swing, died, and gone to Heaven. To demonstrate this fact, two of my other friends ran around the yard calling out Amanda’s name, as if, when she died, she somehow disappeared. Looking back, the plan may have had a few flaws.

Instead of believing this ruse, Amanda got pissed, ran home crying, and tattled on me. I was grounded for a few days.

Story 2:
On another, similar day, we were playing on one of the many dirt piles in our still-being-constructed neighborhood. We were all standing on top of a dirt pile, when I decided to trick Amanda yet again. Obviously I hadn’t learned from the first failed attempt to trick her. So, I picked up a little bit of the dirt, and told her it was “Fairy Dust” since we had just watched Peter Pan. I then sprinkled it on her and told her she could now fly. Luckily she didn’t take my advice . I don’t quite remember, but this probably also ended with her running home and telling on me.

We weren’t really pleasant to each other until I was in high school.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

My giant suitcase is packed. My to-do list is all checked off. I’m officially ready to get up tomorrow at 4Am to catch my 6:30Am flight to LA and then sit around LAX until 10:30PM when I’ll board my 15 hour flight to Melbourne. Yep, that’s about 36 hours of straight travel, but hopefully I’ll be in a Tylenol PM induced sleep for the better part of that 15 hour flight, and at the end of it, I’ll be able to see Sarah’s lovely, smiling face waiting for me at the airport Love Actually style.

(This is for real: Sarah told me the Melbourne Airport has big double doors like at the end of Love Actually. I told her I’d sing God Only Knows to get the full effect.) Plus, most of the sitting around time at LAX will be with Sharon, so we can keep each other excited.

Don’t worry, though. I’m not leaving you all here high and dry. My sister will be blogging in my place for the next few weeks. She’s attempted to blog a few times at her own little space, but she is hoping this will motivate her to start doing it regularly. She’s pretty much my twin, so you might not even notice a difference. Right now, she is also in the midst of moving to LA, but to pursue a job in television (just like I used to be doing!) So..yeah, be nice to her.

I may try to post a bit while I’m gone, but I don’t know what my schedule or computer access will be like, so I don’t want to promise anything. Don’t blog too much while I’m gone, or I may have a google reader related breakdown when I get back!

College grad, huh?

Today, I officially finished college. Well…I had my last class on Thursday, but today I put the finishing touches on my (horrible) plays for playwritting, which I have to mail into my professor tomorrow. Thus, I consider today my last day. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

The last few days have been tough, to say the least. In fact, yesterday, I ended my day by crying for a half an hour at a Mexican restaurant by my parents’ house, after snapping at my dad. I think I had been teetering on the edge of being really sad all day, and him spoiling the season finale of Dexter for me was somehow the final straw.

Thursday night I had a little party at my apartment with a lot of friends I wanted to say good-bye to, where I drank entirely too much champagne, then headed out to the bars, where I got a nice confidence boost from a very drunk UMass student in the form of ridiculous compliments.

Friday was spent packing until my parents came to pick me up for dinner with my uncle and cousins. I almost cried twice at dinner thanking them for giving me a place to call home in Boston and basically being my surrogate family for three and a half years. My immediate family has never lived close to my extended family, so getting to see my little cousins regularly for the last few years as really been a treat. Plus, they let me get off campus and have a home-cooked meal without having to fly home.

I’m really going to miss my night’s out on the town with my uncle and getting to spend an afternoon playing with my cousins…and I’m going to make myself cry now. After dinner, I went to Harvard Square with Jillian and Megan for a relaxing last night out at John Harvard’s and Grendal’s. It was nice to have a quite, very Boston, last night out. I, perfectly enough, only ordered Massachusetts local beers. Mmm…

Saturday, my dad came to get all my stuff. I said good-bye to my little sis from the sorority (and one of my best friends), Lynn, and my other favorite sorority gal, Ali. Both are going abroad next semester, so even if I work out staying in Boston next semester (which is looking possible…stay tuned), I won’t be in school with them again.

Finally, it came time to say good-bye to Jillian. Even though I know I’ll see her soon, I was still in tears. With moving so much, I don’t keep friends (physically) close for very long, so knowing Jillian for over three years and living with her for two and a half is quite a feet. (We met in writing class and at Bay State freshman year, lived together sophomore year, went to LA together junior year, and shared an apartment this year.) She was truly the perfect roommate. We’ve never fought.

We both clean like crazy, and she’s unbelievably considerate. She’s an amazing friend who makes me do things, even when I don’t want to, that turn out to be super fun. She listens when I complain. We hate all the same people, and she’s the only reason I know what’s up in the world of celebrity gossip. I don’t know how I’m going to survive in LA without her, because the only reason I ever knew about good restaurants and cool bars was because of her. It’ll be tough to adjust to living with anyone else.

I really can’t believe I’m done with college. I can’t quite process it yet. I want to write a wrap-up of everything I’ve learned in college, but I don’t have enough space from it to do it now. The problem is if I wait until I get back from Australia, that’s obviously all I’m going to talk about. Maybe I’ll attempt it tomorrow. Luckily for my sanity, it’s looking like I might not have to mourn leaving Boston just yet.

My uncle has offered to let me stay at his house next semester, which isn’t going to replace living on campus, but it’s SO much better than being in Wilmington, friendless save for my parents and pets. (My parents moved here my sophomore year of college, so I don’t know anyone but them. So staying at “home” is not the ideal living situation for the next four months.) The details would still need to be worked out in January, so I don’t want to say it’s definite, but I really want it to be.

So…now onto the next thing. AUSTRALIA! IN TWO DAYS! Yep, now I can actually be excited about it without thinking about all the stuff I have to do before I go. Sarah called me last night, and all I could say was so “Oh my god, I’m so excited!” Tomorrow I’m officially packing, so wish me luck! I’ll say a proper good-bye tomorrow.

Senioritis: It’s Real and It’s Powerful

Today I finished my last assignment for my photography class, and my character bio fro my acting class. This leaves the amount of things I have to do before I finish college at two: memorize and present a final scene in acting and finish revising my plays.

It’s amazing that I got those two things done today, as I have zero motivation to do ANYTHING. I think its the fact that I had only four things to accomplish in three weeks (and now only two things…), so I figure I can keep putting them off.

I also think its because I have a guaranteed job offer as long as I don’t fail my classes, which is doubtful at this point. I never thought I’d get senioritis as bad as I had it in high school, but I’m suffering really bad.

All I want to do is watch “Friday Night Lights” on my computer and read my super expensive hardback books. Thank god I have an excuse to not do work for the next three days.

I Have a Book Problem

Whenever I get any free time at all, I begin to tear through books. This doesn’t seem like a bad thing, except that I live by an abundance of book stores, and instead of choosing to scour my (terrible) library for a book I want to read, I just go out and buy it.

This week alone, I bought the hardback copy of Relentless Pursuit and finished it in three days. Then I decided it would be a good idea to go buy another book before heading to work to sit around and do nothing, so I picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, yesterday.

Sadly, I’m already halfway thorugh it. I knew that would happen when I bought it, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy two hardback books in one day, so I waited on purchasing the next book I’ve been dying to read: American Wife. Sadly, I know I’m going to finsih Outliers tonight and will probably go out of my way tomorrow to pick up American Wife so I have something to read on the train ride home Wednesday morning.

I blame my dwindling course load. Seriously, I had absolutely nothing to accomplish this weekend for my classes…or my senioritis and the fact that I basically have a guaranteed job now have caused me to feel like I had nothing to accomplish this weekend. Oh well. I’m enjoying all the reading, even if my wallet isn’t. I’ll write some reviews when I finish up both books.

Attempting to not fall apart

So I can keep making excuses for not blogging, and I certainly have them. My mom visiting, too much work of all kinds, my personal slash social life slowly falling apart (through my own doing), constant nausea due to all of this (well, not my mom visiting…that was a good time.)

I just can’t seem to deal with my life right now (evidenced by me crying on the phone to my mom this morning for a good half hour), so I just need another couple days to process and see if things are going to work out before I can sit down and organize my thoughts about anything.

Sorry this is cryptic and depressing. I promise I’ll write a really awesome Mom weekend recap (complete with a large list of Boston restaurant recommendations found during said weekend) and some kind of update about my actual life super soon.

Until then, I hope your lives are far less confusing than mine.