On Grad School, Ice Skating, and the Quarter-Life Crisis

Hello to all and welcome! It is another late night when I’m trying to write something effective and good and instead I’m procrastinating by posting here. Whoo!

So first and foremost on this special late-night edition, I want to talk about grad school. If you’ve been following me since day one (there are like 5 of you), then you know about my whole academic thing. I started at BU, went there for a semester, transferred to Pitt, and just graduated in December. Cool. It was always clear to me that I wanted to keep going to school. My mom has her Ph.D. and I think that’s one of the most admirable things ever, especially since 7-year-old me got to go see her defend her dissertation. From that time, I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, but it’s always been about what and how.

I also talked a while back about London. I studied there in the summer of 2016. Before this, I was never one of those people who wanted to live abroad. I was perfectly content to remain planted on American soil. Something shifted when I went overseas. I can’t say exactly what it was, but good God, I fell in love with the city. I absolutely dreaded coming home because it just felt like I was so unfinished in the U.K., like I had a million other things to see and do.

When I came back, I decided that I wanted to pursue my MA in London. A lot of you might be wondering why I’m not pursuing a MFA, and the answer is a little complicated. So eventually, I want to be a professor of English writing and maybe lit. An MFA is a terminal degree, usually a three-year program. Essentially, it doesn’t make sense to do an MFA and a Ph.D. and I really want a Ph.D. The route I’m going is probably not highly recommended, but it’s the way I want. There’s a lot more technical stuff – dissertations and the like – and it’s not all practice-based writing, but that’s what I’m looking for.

So really, I only applied to one school, in the end (and two after the fact but that’s a whole other ordeal that I’m not going into – mild anxiety attack). I applied to and was accepted to study at Royal Holloway, University of London. The creative writing MA is in central London, blocks from the British Museum, and I couldn’t be happier. George Eliot went to RHUL back before it was RHUL, which just feels like a wild coincidence because my main character in the book we’re dealing with now is named after a character from Middlemarch. Also, Jojo Moyes (ME BEFORE YOU) studied writing there, so that’s cool. Basically, I’m extremely happy and I can’t wait to write a book in London. The book is plotted and all, and I’m just waiting to hop on a plane and go write it.

So that’s fun. I’m officially jumping the pond at the end of August. If you happen to live in London or are familiar with the city, drop a comment or a Twitter DM and let me know some places I have to visit!

Now, shifting gears a little bit. There was a lot of excitement with everything going on at the end of the year, but so far, things have been pretty silent around here since January. And since I’m leaving in August, I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with myself in the meantime. I’m working a lot and still doing an editorial internship and writing, but I’m kind of bored. So I’m trying to learn new things and yada yada yada. The boredom is the quarter-life crisis, which I was going to go into more, but it’s a little too depressing for right now so I’ll write about it when I’m in more of a thinkpiece mood. Tonight is for funny and happy times. Which brings us to our final story.

I don’t tell enough short things about my life, so here goes a pretty, uh, fun thing that happened to me today. If you follow me on Twitter, you already saw.

I want to preface this by saying that I’m obsessed with the Olympics. Winter and summer. So I spent half of February watching people zoom around on ice, thinking, “Huh. That looks fun.” I ice skated as a child, but I never really got the hang of it. So, 21-year-old, college graduate me decided to sign up for ice skating lessons. I signed up for a rink that specifically advertised adult lessons because, you know, that’s sort of what I am.

Those started tonight. I got to the rink, got my skates, and went to the rink the lady sent me to. Yeah. Everyone else with skates on was knee-height. I panicked a bit and asked the instructors, and apparently everyone skates in the same rink but is separated? But I was the only actual adult?

But I paid for this eight-week class and I wasn’t backing down. So I laced up my skates and, uh, took skating class with a bunch of eight-year-olds.

Right. I’m cool. Connecting with America’s youth.

So hopefully more adults show up next week. Or not. In the meantime, I’ll give all of the parents something to laugh about. And I’ll try not to break a hip.


On Updates and the Great Northeastern Roadtrip

Hello, hello, hello! So I disappeared for a hot second there to focus on my writing, complete my finals, and wrap up some other random stuff. I’m working with my agent (I’ll still never get used to saying that, tbh) on revisions before we go on submission for the book. I hope that I’ll be able to share it with all of you eventually!

Oh, I also graduated from college. Casual. I have a lot to talk about regarding grad school, but I’m going to save that for the next post.

Since I’m a free agent for the next few months, I decided to go on a roadtrip from Pittsburgh to New York City to Boston and back home. I was alone for the driving bits, but I stayed with friends in the different cities. I was nervous because there was so much driving, but I had a great trip! So, here were my five favorite things:

1.) The audiobook of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races

I’m not an audiobook girl. Usually, they annoy me. But this audiobook (and The Raven Cycle ones – Maggie just has excellent audiobooks) gets me every time. I 10/10 recommend it. I listened to it twice with all of the driving I did.

2. Muji

I’d never heard of this stationery/random thing shop before, but my friend recommended I go when I was walking around Soho. I’m a bit of a stationery nerd, which shouldn’t be surprising, and I loved it. For less than $15, I bought two gel pens, a notebook, a pen case, and a canvas tote. Especially in NYC, that’s a lot for such a low cost, and it’s all great quality.

3. A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

Guys. GUYS. I’d been wanting to read this book because it’s rep’d by my agency, and I knew it was going to be a gut punch, but oh. My. God. I legitimately sobbed from page 160 to the end. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s the most heartwrenching book I’ve read in a long, long time. Buy this book. I’m not even kidding. I had been looking for it for weeks and I finally found it at The Strand, but you can get it on Amazon here.

4. La Summa

So this is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the North End of Boston. I went to school at BU for a second there, and I’m not even sure how I discovered this restaurant, but I HAVE to go there every time I go to Boston. Everything on the menu is absolutely incredible, and it’s not super expensive. It’s a block away from both Mike’s and Modern Pastry, so you can get dinner before satisfying your cannoli fix.

5. Public Libraries

Of course these are on the list, but just listen for a sec. Free bathrooms. A place to charge your phone. And since I was pretty much on my own during the days while my friends were at work/class, it was a nice way to decompress without spending any money. I’m a huge budget traveler – especially since I have, like, no money – and this is one of my biggest travel hacks. Plus, I love seeing gorgeous libraries, so I always have time to stop for a look.

So, that’s my roadtrip roundup. I like being a transient human being – and we’re going to talk about this more in my grad school post 😉 – so this was a fun time all around.

And now I’m going to focus on watching Mulan with my roommate, so I’m signing off. Read A Short History and let me know what y’all think. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, The Last Jedi has some of the best villainous development I’ve seen on-screen lately, so I 10/10 recommend that, too. I’ll save my Star Wars rambling for another post.

On Quotes and What I’ve Been Reading

The 100 book summer is progressing nicely, which means I’ve read so many books that have ABSOLUTELY SHATTERED ME. I’m seriously obsessed with Maggie Stiefvater and Jenny Han at this point. I read The Raven Boys earlier this summer and it was incredible, and I’ve had The Scorpio Races living on my shelf for about a year now. It took me a while to get through the first 150 pages, but after that, ooh boy. I read the rest in a day. I was a bit put off by the slow start but then again, I think that’s something that Stiefvater does incredibly well. She builds the world in such a way that you don’t realize how much information she’s given you, but when the plot kicks into high gear, you know everything you need to know about the setting and characters in such amazing depth that there’s no need to slow down for world building. Once I finished The Scorpio Races, I went back to The Raven Boys and realized that the beginning of that one is on the slow side, too, but it doesn’t feel that way because of the sheer amount of material afterwards. If you haven’t picked up TRB or TSR or you’ve stopped because they felt slow, I’m begging you, for the sake of the salivating reader within me, to give them a try.

I wasn’t planning on going on literary rants today, but since I’m on a roll, we have to take a moment to talk about Jenny Han. I already talked about The Summer I Turned Pretty, but I just read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You (still waiting for the library to have Always and Forever, Lara Jean) and oh my God, I felt all the things. The voice is literally perfect. Lara Jean is so much like I was in high school (minus the attractive boys) that it feels like deja vu. I’m the quiet, meek, baking girl that’s also a ridiculous hopeless romantic. It was a bit like reading my own thoughts, which was creepy but cool. Jenny Han just gets it, you know?

Okay. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on to what I was actually going to talk about. I brought up my lists of goals and dreams in “On Introspection,” but I don’t think I talked about the notebook they’re housed in. I tried to get into bullet journeling but it didn’t work, so I ended up with this Gansey-like journal/planner/mood-board hybrid that’s vaguely ridiculous.

When I’m reading, there are certain sentences that just make me stop, go back, and reread. You know the sentences I’m talking about. I try to recreate that feeling when I’m writing. I feel like most of my writing time is spent looking for The Sentence. That’s the way I like to think of writing: you’re trying to build up to these statements that are like, yes. This is it. This is everything that I’ve been thinking, that this character feels, and they just punch you in the gut.

I’d like to share some of my favorite sentences with you. Mind you, these are from January-now, and it’s not an all-inclusive list, but I liked them enough to write them down in my journal thing.

“I shall die by the light of the stars.” – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

“…and their eyes met with that peculiar meeting which is never arrived at by effort, but seems like a sudden divine clearance of haze.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch

“When you travel alone, you are free to be unpredictable.” – Siobhan Vivian, Not That Kind of Girl

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman (not from a book, but I just need to include this quote)

“The world doesn’t care who wins. It’ll go on spinning no matter how many people are slaughtered tomorrow. No matter if you and I are slaughtered. I almost wish it wouldn’t if we aren’t allowed to go on spinning with it.” – Kristin Cashore, Fire (Side note – I’m going to do a separate post about this book alone, because it’s my favorite)

Oh, thought Blue, so this is what I can’t have.
Not being able to kiss whoever she fell in love with didn’t feel so different from not having a cell phone when everyone else at school did. It didn’t feel very different from knowing she wasn’t going to be studying ecology abroad for college, or going abroad period. It didn’t feel very different from knowing that Cabeswater was going to be the only extraordinary thing about her life.
Which was to say that it was unbearable, but she had to bear it anyway.” – Maggie Stiefvater, The Dream Thieves

I have one from P.S. I Still Love You, but it’s a spoiler, so I’m not going to include it. This is just a minuscule selection from, like, pages of words, but yeah. Do you all have any quotes that just… ugh. Shatter your heart? Let me know!

Also, in case you’re keeping up, this is what else I’ve read this summer:
Fire by Kristin Cashore
The Last Boy And Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nancy LaCour
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this post! I’ll try to write again this week, but I’m leaving for Greece on Saturday so I’ll be taking a small break. Expect a full write-up when I return.