when internet friends become real.

I’ve never believed that internet friends aren’t “real friends,” simply because I’ve loved all of the people I met on the internet (okay, maybe not all – but certainly most of them!), so much that I often wish I could meet them.

A week ago, it finally happened.

The Elf (Heather) has been following my blog ever since her sister, Jane, introduced it to her several years ago. Neither know exactly how long they’ve followed my blog (Heather says Jane’s been reading it for “ages”), but it’s been a while. Heather didn’t really start reading it until she found and resonated with my first Harry Potter post (our experiences with this franchise are ridiculously similar), and then, according to her, found out that I “wrote fantastic rants.”

Heather, for whatever reason, started reading my blog and commenting a lot, and I grew to really enjoy hearing from my elven friend, whoever she was (we didn’t exchange names until later). I soon found out that she was from Australia, so obviously we never thought we’d be able to meet, although we both wished we could. Fast forward to a few months ago, when she messaged me on Facebook and told me she and her sister would be in the States for a while, specifically about an hour away from where I live, and wondered if I’d like to get together. To which I said something along the lines of, “HECK YES!”

A week ago, we finally met. We hugged, then got in the car and took a picture to send to our relatives, assuring them that we were all real and not random middle-aged men!

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{heavily photoshopped bc the girls were in shadows and we were too focused on talking to get another one}


My sister and I drove them to a famous fast food restaurant and sat for at least two hours talking, eating, and laughing together. And it. was. a. BLAST. I’ve rarely met people whom I’ve connected with so closely and so quickly, and finally listening to Heather and Jane’s story after wanting to for so. dang. long. was amazing, to say the least!

In those short hours, we talked about homeschooling and our (uncannily similar) church experiences, conservatism and feminism, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, courtship vs dating, and marriage and relationships. I would’ve loved to pack up my bags and roam the US with them for the remainder of their stay (especially their next stop, which is one of my favorite spots in the entire country), talking with them more about all of these things, but we’ll have to limit it to all of the social media platforms we connected on within five minutes of leaving one another. (Provided the elders approve.) (We made so many inside jokes, guys, and I am here. for. it.)

In summary, my sister and I had an amazing time meeting Heather and Jane, and can’t wait to see where our friendship goes! Maybe a trip to Australia is in order? We’ll see!

{ps: hey reader. yes, you. hello there. if you’d like to meet me too (and aren’t a 65-year-old man), let me know and i’ll see what i can do. this meeting has gotten me addicted to meeting people i’ve connected with online and i want to do it again!}

love week | some fanvids of my favorite ships.

Hello all!  Welcome to the week of Valentine’s Day, which usually finds me and my single friends eating chocolate and watching sappy movies.  (The same can probably be said of you, too, if you’re single – don’t even try to lie to me.)  This week, I’m going to be indulging in all things romantic, because even if I’m not in a relationship, I can at least enjoy the fictional people who are, right?

Literally just like the title says.  Warning: Probably spoilers.

focal point | sherlolly {sherlock}

I’ve been shipping this since Season One, guys.  And it was worth it.  It’s always been worth it.

the last time | literati {gilmore girls}

Y’all know I didn’t like Jess.  But then he grew on me after I wrote that post, and, by the time A Year in the Life came around, he was (imho) the best of the three for Rory.  So here I sit, still holding my opinion of angsty teenage Jess, but having an entirely new opinion of AYitL Jess.  (And yes of course I’m planning Literati fanfiction.)

this is for the lonely | peter + wendy {peter pan}

Yes, I do ship small children.

i should have saved you | mileven {stranger things}

I will never get over this video, just like I will never get over this ship.  I’ll be sobbing over it ’til Season Two premieres in October.  (And this is the saddest video in this bunch, so I’m sorry.)

this | tim + mary {about time}

Current favorite movie (About Time) and current favorite actor (Domhnall Gleeson).  I love this so much.

tenerife sea | mondler {f.r.i.e.n.d.s}

I sobbed after Chandler proposed to Monica and then sobbed all over again when I found this video.  They’re my absolute favorite ship from this show, and I love them both dearly.

it’s you and me forever | cory + shawn {boy meets world}

Now, I don’t ship these two (I’m a hardcore Copanga and Shawngela shipper), but I love their bromance, their friendship, and how they’re always there for one another.  I love the love they have for one another.  Period.

teenage dream | copanga {boy meets world}

THIS is my main Boy Meets World ship.  Literal goals.

saturn | steggy {captain america}

Now, I don’t know who the crap allowed this, but I know I love it.  So bittersweet.  It perfectly encapsulates their story.

please don’t say you love me | knighthouse {emma}

Okay so the thing I love about this video is that it’s not just Emma Approved – it’s all the favorites!  Clueless (hello, Paul Rudd), the ’09 version (practically perfect in every way), and that other version that people like for some reason.  Love it.

Well, this concludes Love Week, as I’ll be at a cabin in Tennessee for the rest of the weekend with some of my very bestest friends.  What are some of your favorite fanvids?  What did you think about Love Week as a whole?  (Because I do love feedback & knowing that you guys like what I blog about.)

love week | fictional guys i’d totally marry.

Hello all!  Welcome to the week of Valentine’s Day, which usually finds me and my single friends eating chocolate and watching sappy movies.  (The same can probably be said of you, too, if you’re single – don’t even try to lie to me.)  This week, I’m going to be indulging in all things romantic, because even if I’m not in a relationship, I can at least enjoy the fictional people who are, right?

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I was going to write a blog post on my favorite fictional couples, but it turns out I already did that (and my post is pretty dang great, so check it out).  I’ve also done post after post after post about being single (going twenty-two years strong, how’s that for a RECORD), so read those, too.

So since my sister is getting flowers from a male non-relative who likes her for the second year in a row, I’m going to think about all the fictional guys I’d totally marry if they existed.

No judgment, guys.  You and I both know that I have Standards and A List, and I probably wouldn’t actually marry half of these guys, but it’s fun to pretend, so… no judgment.

Anne-and-Gil-talking.jpgGilbert Blythe | Anne of Green Gables

Because who the crap could resist those beautiful eyes, that dazzling smile, and just his entire winning personality???  Anne tried, but couldn’t for long.  He’d tease you but he’d also love the heck outta you.  I’m down for that.

“There would never be anyone for me but you. “

Levi Stewart | Fangirl

This one’s obvious – he loves books (even though he can’t read very well), he’s a fanboy, he’s super sweet and super funny, and he works at Starbucks and makes his own unique drinks – which he brings to Cather.  I mean, it’s a win-win-win.

When she opened her door, Levi was sitting in the hallway, his legs bent in front of him, hunched forward on his knees. He looked up when she stepped out.
“I’m such an idiot,” he said.
Cath fell between his knees and hugged him.
“I can’t believe I said that,” he said. “I can’t even go nine hours without seeing you.”

Neville Longbottom | Harry Potter

Nev wasn’t much to look at when he was younger (I blame it on the fake teeth and fatsuits they put Matt in, because he wasn’t that ugly in the book) and he’s a tad forgetful, but he’s got a heart of gold.  Plus, he bailed Harry out more than once.  What’s not to love?

“I’ll join you when Hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.

HIS. EYES..pngPeeta Mellark | The Hunger Games

M’KAY, listen UP.  My college/career Bible study got into a heated debate about Gale vs. Peeta and I’m pretty sure Team Peeta won because (1) he saved Katniss’s life more than once, (2) Gale basically killed Prim, and (3) he’s such a strong guy – physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I’ll always be Team Peeta.

“We were five. You had a plaid dress and your hair…it was in two braids instead of one. … So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She put you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, ever bird outside the windows fell silent. And right when your song ended, I knew -just like your mother- I was a goner.”

Faramir | Lord of the Rings

My siblings and I just recently introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings, and watching the extended versions all over again rekindled my love for this man.  He’s selfless, sacrificial, and willing to do anything for those he loves (even his deadbeat dad, who doesn’t love him at all).  Move over, Eowyn – I’d marry this guy so hard.

“Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?” she said. “And would you have your proud folk say of you: ‘There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?”
“I would,” said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.

Mac Campbell | Rose in Bloom

If you know who this guy is, bless you.  He’s a bookworm, super smart, and just the sweetest little pumpkin that there ever was.  The first time I read Eight Cousins, I knew I loved him, and Rose in Bloom just cemented my adoration for this guy.

“What have you decided to be, Mac?” asked Rose, as they went up the avenue side by side.
“A man first, and a good one if possible; after that, what God pleases.”
Something in the tone, as well as the words, made Rose look up quickly into Mac’s face, to see a new expression there.  It was indescribable; but she felt as if she had often done when watching the mists part suddenly, giving glimpses of some mountaintop, shining serene and high against the blue.
“I think you will be something splendid; for you really look quite glorified, walking under this arch of yellow leaves with the sunshine on your face,” she exclaimed, conscious of a sudden admiration never felt before; for Mac was the plainest of all the cousins.
“I don’t know about that; but I have my dreams and aspirations, and some of them are pretty high ones.  Aim at the best, you know, and keep climbing if you want to get on,” he said, looking at the asters with an inward sort of smile, as if he and they had some sweet secret between them.

dylan-dylan-ox27brien-hot-sexy-beast-Favim.com-1068521.pngStiles Stalinski | Teen Wolf

Here’s where my “no judgment” rule comes in.  Don’t ask how I found this show, why I started watching it, or how far into it I am.  Never mind, I’ll give you one answer – I started watching it because of Dylan O’Brien, whom I love, which is obviously the reason why I love Stiles.  He’s hilarious, loyal, and – as much as he denies it – heroic.

“The ten-year plan for making Lydia fall in love with me may have to stretch to fifteen, but the plan is definitely still in motion.”

Chandler Bing | F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I don’t love Chandler as much as I am him, which is probably why our marriage wouldn’t last a year, but I’d still take him.  I’ve always wanted to marry a funny guy, and Chandler is a million times that, plus he’s got a super-sweet heart and a genuinely caring spirit.  I’ll take it, even if it’d only last a little while.  (But then I’d give him back to Monica because they’re my otp.)

“I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realized the only thing that matters is that you, you make me happier than I ever thought I could be.  And if you’ll let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way.  Monica, will you marry me?”

Shawn Hunter | Boy Meets World

SHAWN IS MY PRECIOUS BABY AND I WILL LOVE HIM ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE.  No kidding, I liked him in the first episode, but I really loved him around Episode 17 – The Fugitive (you know, the episode where he blows up a mailbox).  I just want to love and protect him and give him everything he ever deserved that the world never gave him.  Everything – and I do mean everything – went wrong for him, yet he emerged stronger than anyone thought possible.  GAH.

Cory: Okay, so after the prom, romance in the air, you and Angela, you’re gonna look in each other’s eyes, and…
Shawn: Me and Angela? I don’t know. Maybe. What do you think, we sat down and discussed it? How dorky do you think we are? What about you and Topanga?
Cory: We sat down and discussed it.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Chris-Evans1.jpgSteve Rogers | Captain America

Chivalric hero from the ’40s with a super hot body?  Heck yes I would.

Peggy: You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?
Steve: I think this is the longest conversation I’ve had with one.  Women aren’t exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.
Peggy: You must have danced…
Steve: Well, asking a woman to dance always seemed so terrifying.  And in the past few years, it just didn’t seem to matter that much.  Figured I’d wait.
Peggy: For what?
Steve: Right partner.

Sir Percy Blakeney | The Scarlet Pimpernel

The same exact sentence for the guy above could literally be used for Percy, so… heck yes I would again.  I own four (4) copies of The Scarlet Pimpernel, various paperback copies of the other books, and I think I’ve read ten out of the sixteen books (and El Dorado is the best).  I love this guy.

Had he but turned back then, and looked out once more on to the rose-lit garden, she would have seen that which would have made her own sufferings seem but light and easy to bear–a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love and as soon as her light footstep had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade, where her tiny hand had rested last.

George Knightley | Emma

My first reading of this book (don’t hate me; I’m just now going through my classics phase) basically cemented my love for this guy – and also the fact that Jonny Lee Miller will always be the best Knightley fIGHT ME.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

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Jack Pearson | This is Us

Jess who?  Move over, kid – Milo’s back and this time he’s even better than you.  Jack is literally the best male character on the small screen today.  Dad goals, husband goals, friend goals – just everything goals.  In the words of Rebecca, his oh-so-lucky wife, he’s “freaking Superman.”  I’ve loved gushing over him with my mom friends at the preschool playground and I know that I’ll still be gushing over him over the next few years as the show progresses.

“You know, when I was a little boy, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Adults always ask little kids that.  I never had a good answer – not ’til I was twenty-eight.  Until the day that I met you.  That’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wanted to be the man that made you happy.”

What about you?  Any men you’d totally take?  I claim all of these guys, though… at least ’til I find an actual real-life male non-relative to obsess over.  😉

thirteen fantastic movies & what i thought of them.

I did a post like this last year, so I decided to do it again!

Now, before you start saying, “Thirteen movies?!  Well, GOSH, Ashley – you spend so much money on movie tickets!”

  1. I wasn’t allowed to go to the theater much when I was little because (a) there wasn’t much I could see and (b) because my parents always had to pay for my ticket and, because of that, (c) they always had to be slightly interested in the movies as well, so now I go fairly often because I have a car and money to pay for myself.
  2. I never get popcorn or drinks.  (However, I did manage to sneak in a Starbucks frappucino this year.  #win)
  3. I didn’t pay for some of these tickets.  (PRAISE THE LORD FOR PARENTS & PARENTS OF KIDS I NANNY.)
  4. I go at the cheap times.  Every day from 4 to 5:30 at my theater is $6.  BOOM.
  5. I like movies.

Let’s do this thing.  (Links to the trailers are in the movie titles.)

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God’s Not Dead 2 | 1/21

Well.  This one was a colossal flop.  I didn’t even want to talk about it at all when I saw it, and did an April Fools post mainly consisting of Kevin McCreary’s review of it.  I can’t even remember most of what I thought about it, but I know I didn’t like it.  My dad got tickets to a super early screening because he’s a pastor (#perks) and we talked about it on the way there, basically laying out our (super low) expectations and what we wanted it to ultimately do.  It barely met my expectations, and, well, let’s just say that I got more out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World than this movie.  Not only were there some issues with the court sequence (you cannot have surprise witnesses.  the end.  go home.), there were major issues with the basic story as well.  The one thing I did like, however, was that the hot lawyer (whose face almost made driving 45 minutes to go see this movie worth it) didn’t become a Christian at the end.  I know that may sound awful of me, as a Christian, to say that I’m glad someone didn’t become a Christian.  But think about it – how many movies have you seen where the meek, submissive, Christian main character influences his/her non-Christian rivals so much that they radically turn from their heathen ways and go to church, ending up raising their hands with tears streaming down their faces?  TOO MANY.  And that’s all I’ll say.  For more, watch Kevin’s actual review.  It’s totally worth an hour of your time.  (And this is the longest paragraph.  Obviously.)

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens | 1/28

HECKLES YES.  Back to the good stuff.  So, I had already watched this movie a month before with my relatives, but my friend Katelyn and I wanted to see it again.  So we did.  Four girls (including us and my two sisters) going to a Star Wars movie sounds pretty awesome to me, especially since we spent half of it whispering about how hot Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver are.  (“You know… I can take anything I want.”  *entire row bursts out laughing*)  And there were only like ten people in the theater, including us, so it worked out marvelously.

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Captain America: Civil War | 5/5 & 5/15

SWEET. BUTTERED. CRUMPETS.  What a masterpiece.  What an absolute cinematic masterpiece.  I saw it the first time with my siblings and a friend, and then again with my siblings, my dad’s intern, and Morgan and her sisters.  (This is when we sneaked in our frappucinos.)  Such a good movie.  I loved it so very much.  See my actual, non-fangirly review here.

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Finding Dory | 6/18

I saw this one with friends after exploring World of Coke in Atlanta, and it was super fun!  Our group totally symbolized the majority of the movie’s audience, since our group consisted of six people with ages ranging from sixteen to twenty-five.  We fell in love with Finding Nemo when we were little and gosh darn it we were absolutely gonna see Finding Dory as soon as possible.  I loved it so much.  It actually made half of us cry – that one scene with all the shells, guys.  I’ve heard people say that it’s not as good as the first, but I don’t think they can be compared.  They’re both fantastic movies.  I watched it again on Christmas Day and remembered how much I liked it.  It’s about family and persistence and bravery and it’s just so good.

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The Secret Life of Pets | 7/8

I took my little twins I nanny to see this one, and I think someone went with us (their grandma, I think?), but I can’t remember.  (Stupid brain, lol.)  I thought this movie was cute!  A little confusing, but still adorable.  I wasn’t planning on watching it, but I couldn’t pass up free tickets to see an animated movie that may or may not be good.  I’d watch it again with my younger siblings, if only for Kevin Hart’s adorably hilarious bunny character.

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Star Trek Beyond | 7/24

Goodness gracious.  This has to be one of my favorite movies of the entire year.  I’m not a huge Star Trek fan, but I’ve really enjoyed the reboots.  (Call me what you will, but the original show is so cheesy!)  Even though it was tainted in my mind because of Anton Yelchin’s tragic death the month before, it still made me laugh, sit on the edge of my seat, and even tear up a little.  From what I’ve seen of the show, Beyond was more in the vein of the classic episodes, and contained significantly less objectionable content than the other movies.  Because of that, it just worked.

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Pete’s Dragon | 9/2

I took the twins and my younger sister to see this one, and I knew it would be good, but it absolutely exceeded my expectations.  I’ve always been a Karl Urban fan, but Slightly Evil Lumberjack Karl Urban?  Um, YES PLEASE.  (The first time he came onscreen, my sister and I reached across the two kids between us and waved fingers at one another with excited looks on our faces.)  That, combined with Seneca Crane and Opie’s daughter… yep.  Fangirling about actors aside, it was just beautiful in a cinematographic sense as well.  I loved how they altered the story slightly, and I didn’t miss the songs ’til the credits started rolling.  It’s like the classic, but it’s a little more green and focused on slightly different aspects of the story.  And I was crying in the first scene, if that says anything.  (They showed Pete’s parents dying.  Like, heck no.  Why, Disney.  Why.)  Definitely would’ve liked to see this one in the theater again, but at home will have to do.

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Doctor Strange | 11/8

YIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS.  Honestly, this is one of the cleanest Marvel movies ever, and I have no idea why.  There’s not much language, no sensual stuff, and very little blood.  And when you add BennyC into the mix… wow.  I really enjoyed this one – so much, in fact, that I wrote a critical thinking journal entry on it (a school project, which I got a great grade on).  I haven’t done research to see if the director is a Christian, but there are definite allusions to the Bible and Christian themes.  The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of females in it.  The Ancient One is, I think, female (played by Tilda Swinton {aka the White Witch}), but the character might’ve been ambiguous, and the only other girl is Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams.  McAdams did well in the role, but the role itself isn’t that great.  Christine saves his life once with medical assistance, but she’s barely in fifteen minutes of the movie.  I like my female characters to be kick-butt and awesome.  Besides that, I really liked this one.  Not my favorite Marvel, but not my least favorite either.

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Hamlet {National Theatre Live} | 11/15

I saw this with two friends when I was in Florida for a week.  It was actually perfect timing because I already had to read Hamlet and then watch a production of it, and it was so much fun to go to a coffee shop, read the play, then go see the movie (and be able to say “Yeah, I read the play this morning; no biggie.  Now I’m going to see the version with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Again, no biggie.” when, in fact, it was a biggie).  This is, by far, the most expensive movie ticket I purchased this year ($20), but it was oh. so. worth. it.  The show itself was almost four hours long, and I can’t remember if that included the intermission or not.  I did a three-page review of this for school, and I could ramble almost that much just about Ben’s performance.  (It’ll be the basis on which I judge all other Hamlets.)  The sound production alone had me and my friend fangirling.  Every time he’d soliloquize, the sound would go “FubwubwubwUBWUBWUBWUBWUB” and everybody would slow down and the spotlight would be on Ben and it was just absolutely amazing.  And if anyone has a bootleg, I will send you both of my novels right now in return for it.

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Fantastic Beasts | 11/17

To be completely honest, I didn’t initially like this one when I left it, but I’ve since realized that it’s still pretty good, regardless of the issues I had with the story.  (Spoiler-free, I feel like it was two different stories that met together in the last ten minutes of the movie.)  I still loved Newt, though.  He’s the best thing to happen to Harry Potter since Deathly Hallows Part 2.  So good.  I’ll probably go watch it again and see if my opinion’s changed.  My favorite part of the movie, however, was the fact that I went with a big group of friends, and half of us dressed up in 20’s costumes.  So. Much. Fun.

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Moana | 11/27

OKAY SO I LOVED THIS ONE.  I knew I’d love it ever since I heard about it last year – and, um, hello, it’s LIN, so what’s not to love?!  The music was, obviously, phenomenal.  Loved the cast, loved the story, loved the animation (so beautiful).  I didn’t feel like I was watching a kids movie, which is exactly what I was hoping.  The story was so precious and so relatable – and I LOVED the fact that Moana’s story isn’t centered around a guy.  She’s a princess, but she’s not looking for a prince, and I think that puts her a cut above all of the other princesses.  I mean, I love all of the Disney princesses, but her story seems so much more pure because her story has to do with doing something meaningful to benefit her people, not sleeping while waiting for true love’s kiss or waiting for a prince to find her or falling in love with the guy who keeps her imprisoned in a castle.  (Yes, this is my feminist side coming out.  #dealwithit)

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Hacksaw Ridge | 12/10

This was the first R-rated movie I’ve seen in the theater.  I went with my dad for my birthday and he loved it almost as much as I did.  Truth be told, I knew very little about the story when I saw it (I saw the trailer when it first came out, but by the time I saw it, I’d forgotten what was in it), and that makes me even more glad that I watched it because it was amazing and so inspirational!  It’s based on a true story about a guy who saved dozens upon dozens of soldiers during WWII.  I loved the fact that they portrayed his faith and his stance against violence and war without demeaning him for it or making him look stupid.  And it stars Andrew Garfield, so obviously it was amazing.

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Rogue One | 12/28

I went into this one with pretty low expectations – not because I didn’t think it would be good (I knew it would be), but because I’m still not much of a Star Wars fan.  But hooooooo boy.  SO GOOD.  I adored it, actually.  By the end, I was shipping characters so hard that the only thing keeping me from yelling “JUST KISS HER ALREADY!!!” was the fact that my fourteen-year-old cousin was sitting a few seats over and I didn’t want to set a bad example.  For real, though, it blew almost every other movie I’ve seen this year (in the theater at least) out of the water.  The story was so unique and the characters were all so wonderful.  GAH.  I loved it.

What do you think of my list?  Have you seen any of these?  Want to fangirl with me?!

year in review: 2016.

{this post is finally done.  i feel like it’s taken me forever to write it, and it’ll take you almost as long to read it.  so i’m sorry, and if you read the whole thing… bless you.}

Can we agree that 2016 was just an all-around bad year?  I mean this for the world in general.  So many deaths and shootings – not to mention the atrocity that was the US presidential election.

{Side Tangent: In a previous draft, I said something about Carrie Fisher being okay.  Well, that’s not true anymore (for Debbie Reynolds, either) and I don’t know how to process that.  I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the reason there have been so many celebrity deaths this year is because God’s reminding us that our time here is so limited.  When we were young, we felt so infinite.  The days were long and death seemed so far away.  But that’s not true.  I’m not going to remind you to spend your time wisely because I know you’ve heard it before.  So just… cherish it.  And know that we’re all a little less infinite than we think we are.}

My personal year wasn’t quite as bad, and I think it ends up fitting with my year-long prayer, taken from this song:

“God, it has been quite a year-
I’ve lived a little bit and I’ve died a little more.
I know that I’ve asked it before,
But please let the scale tip here in my favor.”

I think it has.  This year has been full of disappointments and things that stress me out (pretty sure I had a full-on anxiety attack back in July and let. me. tell. you – that was not fun).  Even so, this year has been full of really good firsts – first crush I’ve told people about, first trip to Universal (and two trips to Disney whattheevenheck), first girls-only trip…  It’s been good.  Though I’ve had my fair share of bad things, I know I’m better for it.  While I wish some things hadn’t happened, I’m glad they shaped me into the person I am today.

Regardless of how terrible the year has been, at least we made it this far, right?

As always, this yearly review is mostly just for me to look back on throughout the year, and you can read the whole thing or just skim it.  (And, if you’re interested, here are the links to the other years I’ve done: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015.)

January

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my siblings and i // first day at disney

February

  • Studied a heck ton, nannied a heck ton
  • Younger siblings went to a retreat, so I had a special time with my older sister and my parents, watching movies that they’re not allowed to watch yet and talking about Stuff.
  • Hosted a single-girls Valentine’s Day party (where we ate cookies and watched Julie & Julia) and chaperoned (from afar) as my sister got roses from a guy.
  • Discovered About Time – aka one of my favorite movies ever.
  • Went to Disney World for the first time in 15 years with the fam
  • Met the Taylors
  • Studied: American Lit CLEP (1/16-2/16) // Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: More Happy Than NotThe Help, and Me Before You
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my thoughts during a Starbucks study session and my unplanned Valentine’s Day series – twelve ships I ship, a mushy snippet from my novel, and my thoughts on love

March

  • Again, studied and nannied a heck ton
  • Bought Jordan Taylor’s album (because I felt more connected after meeting him, duh)
  • Rediscovered Sherlock (long story)
  • Freaked out about all of the Mother’s Day posts on Instagram, only to discover that it was just Mother’s Day in the UK.  (However, since I was out of the house, I bought flowers and surprised my mom with them.  I’ll definitely be doing that again this year.)
  • BECAME A SENIOR
  • Ups and downs with my sleeping habits (definitely something I’m going to fix next year)
  • Discovered Downton Abbey and Mission Impossible
  • Watched the livestream of Daddy Long Legs, one of my favorite musicals
  • Uploaded first video to YouTube (you’ll have to hunt it down bc I’m not leaving the link here LOL)
  • In charge while Mom & Dad went to a marriage conference for a week (during which I watched too much Downton Abbey and stayed up too late)
  • Studied: Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: The Boxcar ChildrenFar from the Madding Crowd, Frindle, A Thief in the Theater, Red Rising, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryand The Bronte Plot
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my big post about my thoughts on Harry Potter, my “flatmates” story, my thoughts about romanticizing the past, and my 5-years-in-the-making blog post, “movies i don’t like.

April

  • Watched the High School Musical movies with a friend
  • Went to the first wedding of the year (and first since 2014, I think)
  • Started watching more movies by myself (bc I’m tired of waiting on my siblings and bc I have a brother whose opinion we have to consider) (movies include 17 Again, 13 Going On 30, and Napoleon Dynamite)
  • Literally have a note in my journal that says “2pm-3pm – Question Everything.”  Basically, yeah.
  • Discovered The Great British Baking Show.  HECK YES.
  • Had coffee with a friend and talked about her recent engagement, told her I didn’t have any guys in my life and wasn’t going to be interested in any until I graduated, Discovered A Guy that night (again, long story)
  • Officially met one of my new best friends
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: Roomies, All the Bright Places, After Youand Golden Son
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my uber- nostalgic “favorite childhood movies” post, the snippet from my novel, The Boy and the Theatre Girl, and my ranty defense of CollegePlus students
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me & the twins

May

  • Submersed myself in blog posts about singleness and contentment due to aforementioned guy
  • Changed DSST after studying for a month (a first and a last)
  • Texted aforementioned best friend’s younger sister (with whom I’ll become good friends but won’t meet ’til September)
  • Learned how to cheat the system with college coursework – aka befriend the prof and say yes when she lets you submit part of your novel instead of several different assignments.  FISTPUMP.
  • Started a tough time with one of my best friends (drama goes down)
  • Dad’s intern arrived for the summer
  • Started officially going to a church
  • Discovered Friends and Taylor Swift (entire discography instead of just the ones on the radio)
  • Made a summer bucket list for the first time
  • Enrolled in Thomas Edison State University
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16)
  • Read: Golden Son, The Raven Boys, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (which I loved enough to review on my blog as well)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my reasoning behind taking off my purity ring (which got so much more feedback than I ever expected ohmygosh), my review of the gloriousness that was Captain America: Civil War, and my addition to the flame war behind that random dude’s “open letter to Rey” (which by the way, lemme say again, ugh)

June

  • Younger sister graduated from high school and we have a pretty awesome dance party
  • Taught myself how to play ukulele
  • Started going to Starbucks with my sister during the second hour of church (since there isn’t a Sunday morning class for college/career young adults)
  • Discovered Waitress during the Tony Awards (Hamilton won the other 11!)
  • Surprised with a weekend visit from one of my best childhood friends
  • Gave in to the stereotypes and got a Snapchat
  • Broke ground on our new house
  • Drove back and forth with my sister instead of staying at our grandparents’ for a whole week like we usually do (a first)
  • Had two entire days to myself, in which I did school, watched movies, cooked lunch for myself, and blasted Imagine Dragons
  • GOT A FRIKKIN LETTER FROM LIN MANUEL MIRANDA
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16)
  • Read: The Rosie Project, Extraordinary, and The Rosie Effect
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about tøp after being a fan for a year and a short story I wrote for school (“my best friend’s brother”)
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our awesome car on the way back from WIT

July

  • Studied and wrote like crazy
  • WITAlive again, this time without my older sister and with a car of friends (and I was a co-leader at a table this year!)
  • Wrote some poetry for the first time (including a sonnet based on Gilmore Girls)
  • Watched my “little” brother star in The Pied Piper of Hamlin at a local theatre
  • Had a movie date with a friend every two weeks or so (during the entire summer)
  • Witnessed the beginning of my sister’s relationship with my dad’s intern
  • Finally started accepting and actually loving my body, even its flaws… and it wasn’t until then that I started losing weight
  • Forgot to journal for two weeks, so I completely don’t know what happened except I know a lot of studying was done and a lot of books were read.
  • Studied: BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16) // BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: Salt to the Sea, The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry, The Art of the Personal Essay, Imaginative Writing, The Marriage and Family Experience, If You Find This Letter (which became my favorite non-fic book by the fifth page and I literally bought four copies to give to friends for Christmas – seriously, READ. IT.), and Everything, Everything
  • Favorite Blog Posts: another post about love & waiting & purity & stuff, my first post on writing advice (“what do do when {you think} your writing sucks”), and another snippet from The Boy and the Theatre Girl

August

  • Dad caved and finally got Netflix for us – YESSSSS
  • Started reading classics for my lit course and developed a deeper appreciation for classics
  • Went book shopping one Saturday with my sister (to two bookstores) and then had a fries taste-test – a day that will be remembered with fondness in both our hearts
  • Took my “little” bro to his first co-op and greatly enjoyed getting stuff done so early in the day (although I didn’t enjoy getting up so early)
  • Hosted a surprise sleepover for my friend (my first sleepover since I was six)
  • Started meeting new friends at our new church
  • Figured out the situation that caused the anxiety attack back in July (something I highly recommend – figure stuff out, guys; save yourself the stress; even if you do. not. want. to, it’ll be so much better in the long run, I promise)
  • Repaired more friendships – YAY
  • Had some bro time with my “little” brother while our sisters went to a camp for a week (we watched movies without them #oops)
  • The Furies happened (and we continue to talk about feminism and movies and relationships and generally just kick butt in all areas of life and I’m so happy to have such a close-knit friend group like this)
  • Blew through so many classics in such a short period of time – such a good feeling
  • Volunteered to play in an orchestra concert… the day before
  • Shared my testimony for the first time in a class at church
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: The Coquette, Hope Leslie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Scarlet Letter, Benito Cereno, The Outsiders, Life in the Iron-Mills, The Problem With Forever, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Washington Square (DANG THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about Stanley Tucci, a peek into my life, and some rambling thoughts about Friends and the validity of your opinion.

September

  • Started the month out with my car breaking down.  Yay.
  • Nannied three days in a row – including a 9am-11pm day (which was my favorite day of the three because I took the kids to see Pete’s Dragon with my sister and then put them to bed early and watched movies ’til their parents got back)
  • Started watching Stranger Things with my sister… at 11pm at night… all by ourselves…  (protip: not a good idea)  (still, we finished the show within a week)
  • Hosted some friends for a weekend and had an absolute BLAST
  • Saw a friend star in You Can’t Take It With You
  • Went shopping with some girlfriends and actually bought something.  And not just anything.  A DRESS.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
  • Got baptized : )
  • Started practicing music with friends for two weddings (and started calling ourselves The Last Page)
  • Introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings (which they loved, obviously)
  • Cut my hair super dang short (and loved it)
  • GOT A NEW PHONE HECK YES
  • Stopped journaling (haha whoops)
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16) // Marketing Communications TCEP (9/16)
  • Read: Ethan Frome, My Ántonia, Marketing Communications, Absalom Absalom, Pale Fire, and Writing in the Social Sciences.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: blogged the results of my summer bucket list, talked about bad boyz (even though my opinion on Jess Mariano has changed so much because he turned out to be the best guy for Rory), continued to ramble about love & feelings & stuff, and rambled about life in general (which y’all liked so I started doing it more)
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failing at a jumping pic with ‘the last page’

October

  • Started a course on theatre which is just *heart eyes emoji*
  • Started planning my very first girls-only trip with The Furies
  • Gilmore-bounded with my frens (which is honestly still one of my favorite events of the entire year)
  • Introduced my other siblings to Stranger Things
  • Lost enough weight to fit loosely into a dress that didn’t fit me a month before *sunglasses emoji*
  • Played in two weddings with The Last Page (twas lit)
  • Had an impromptu brunch with people who came in for aforementioned wedding and hosted almost twenty-five people
  • Deepened friendships and fell in love with people in general
  • Started planning a watch party with friends for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (obviously including soda and Chinese food and poptarts and all kinds of junk food)
  • Scott Gordon Patterson (Luke from Gilmore Girls) liked our Gilmore-bound picture (!)
  • Did Halloween for the first time in over a decade (thank you, younger adopted siblings)
  • Again, studied and read like crazy
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: Writing in the Social Sciences, The Strangeness of Beauty, and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirled over Stranger Things, made a list of songs that make me happy, and rambled about life again

November

  • Studied like crazy – including writing three plays (!!!)
  • Talked to dozens upon dozens of people about the presidential election
  • Voted in the presidential election for the first time (but not my first time voting)
  • Read books on top of my car overlooking the mountains (heck yes I did)
  • Visited a friend at his college with my sisters and another friend and talked about hard stuff for over four hours (“It’s rough all over“)
  • Bashed around Charleston with mah girls
  • Visited a friend for a week, in which I stayed at their house and basically became a member of their family
  • Went to a movie theater and watched a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
  • Went to Disney and Harry Potter World at Universal – and had an absolute blast
  • (Charleston, becoming a member of another family for a week, Hamlet, and Disney/Universal all happened in the same twelve days and it. was. magical)
  • Had the Gilmore Girls watch party with my frens
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Cherry Orchard, Anything But Typicaland Hamlet.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: expressed my thoughts about the election, converted a play I wrote into a short story (and y’all loved it, which just makes my year), and offended some people after writing about courtship (lolz whoops)

December

  • Finished my schoolwork the day before my birthday – HUZZAH, AN ACTUAL CHRISTMAS BREAK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS!!!
  • Turned 22
  • Watched Return of the King with friends for my birthday
  • Basically just chilled for the entire month.  Read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies and TV shows, but mainly just lived.  I made cookies and brownies with my baby siblings twice, and cleaned the kitchen and my room a lot.  It was really fun to just relax and live life without the pressure of schoolwork looming over my head.
  • Went to a young adults Christmas party at our new church and had such a great time
  • Realized that my blog turned seven – w h o a
  • Celebrated Christmas four times – with each of my parents’ families, my family, and an extended family Christmas (and had my sister’s boyfriend do Christmas with us, so that was An Experience)
  • Went to my grandparents’ house for an extended weekend before New Years and partied hard with my cousins and aunt & uncle (who talked with my siblings and I about stuff for hours upon hours, which was a blessing)
  • Rang in the new year with friends and a headache
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1), If You Find This Letter (re-read bc I bought four copies for friends and wrote in them like my friend did for me), and Crosstalk
  • Favorite Blog Posts: hosted a Christmas movie marathon because I love movies and posted some Stucky fanfiction (part one / part two) that I wrote a few years ago

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    le fam (+ sister’s boyfriend) at church on christmas day


Whew.

Honestly, it always blows my mind whenever I write these posts and look back at all of the amazing things I did.  (And hOW DANG LONG IT TAKES ME OH MY GOSH.  This one took me several sittings over several days – and I know I didn’t over everything.)

Anyway, I’m always so blown away with what I’ve been able to do in a year.  Even though the year was ridiculously crazy at times, I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness for the world.  Even though the year was rough, it still had some amazing experiences for me.  I invested in friendships more than I ever have before (including at three people who are 5-8 years younger than me), I’ve learned more about relationships (the good and the bad), and I’ve learned to be authentic, to be honest, to give second chances, to know when to stop pouring myself into toxic relationships, to let go of grudges, and, obviously, I’ve learned how incredibly far I have to go.  I know I won’t ever get there, but it’s nice to look back on a year and know that I’m a better person than the selfish idiot who wrote last year’s Year in Review post.

2017 is going to be incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see where God leads me!  My word of the year is “excelsior,” and I explained why on my Instagram, so I’ll just link to that and keep this from getting any longer!

Can’t wait to see where God has me at this time next year!

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continuing the tradition of taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on new years day even tho i didn’t feel like putting on makeup or doing anything to my hair or fixing my christmas nails but i won’t apologize bc this is how i look kthxbye

coffee session | grades & gilmore girls.

img_4202A few weeks ago, I needed to write a blog post, so I literally just got a cup of coffee, sat down, and wrote whatever was on my mind.  Apparently you guys loved it – which was good because I did, too.

So guess what.  It’s happening again.

I was thinking last night that I’d make it a regular thing (maybe not every week because that never works for me, but definitely more than once), and then I got an email from a friend linking to an article about coffee + friendship and it was wonderful and beautiful and made me so grateful for my friends who fellowship with me over coffee and it reminded me of that post I wrote – fellowshipping over coffee with my bloggy friends..

So here I am.  Grab a cup of coffee, play some music, and let’s start.  (Oh and read that article at some point. It’s great.)

*sips coffee*

I woke up this morning to notifications that a few of my BYU papers had been graded. 100% on both – one being that scene that I posted the other day.  TALK ABOUT YAY.

I love writing, guys.  I love creating worlds and people and circumstances in my mind and watching them make their way through my mind and onto a computer screen.  And I love getting good grades, especially when I’m maintaining a 76% in another course because I got a really bad grade on a test the other day – AN ELEVEN-QUESTION TEST.  LIKE, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET A GOOD GRADE ON THAT?!  Ugh.  *breathes*

It’s fine.  After I saw that grade, I closed my laptop and watched a stupid TV show on Netflix and let me tell you what – it was exactly what I needed.  Totally recommend being in the moment and being present and all of that… but know that you have freedom to unplug and take a break sometimes.  It’ll recharge you more than you think.  (Eyy puns…)

Let’s see… what else have I been doing?  (Besides school lolzzzz, emphasis on the zzzz.)

I just started the first of my annual fall reads – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I can’t recommend it without a disclaimer for language, but it’s definitely one of my favorite books of all time.  It just screams fall – and it contains one of the most relatable heroines ever… and one of the most swoon-worthy guys I’ve ever read.  The other’s The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly, which I absolutely adore.  It’s a retelling of Little Women.  What’s not to love?!  Anyway, that happened.  And I’m reading it while wrapped in multiple blankets and drinking hot tea, so that’s fun.  I’m going to have a ton of free-time this weekend, and I’m greatly looking forward to blasting through it (and sobbing at the end again, like I always do).

Another thing I did today was watch Blimey Cow’s latest video.  TALK ABOUT HASHTAG RELATABLE AND RELEVANT OH. MY. GOSH.  Go watch it.  Now.  I’ll wait.

What else?

*sips coffee*

One of my favorite writers, Hannah Brencher (READ HER BOOK), sends out a massive encouragement email every Monday, and it’s half the reason my Mondays don’t suck as much as they probably would without it.  (Seriously, get on that email.)  Here’s a quote that I really appreciated:

People won’t feel valued– like their friendship is pertinent to you– if you never have a reason to need them.

Friendships and relationships are built on need. Trust is built because the two of you are vulnerable enough to let some walls down and actually need each other to show up. Before that need comes in, you are just two people who like the company of one another. It is when we humble ourselves down to the realization that interdependency is essential that we uncover a true relationship.

I’m so grateful for friends who acknowledge a need for me.  So often, I feel just “meh” – like people don’t need me in their lives, and they do little more than tolerate me. (Obviously, when I step back, I see that that’s not true… but sometimes I can’t help but think it for a moment.)

And then I read things like Hannah’s email and that Verily article and am reminded that I have wonderful friends who not only like hanging out with me, but want to do it – so much so that we plan things months in advance sometimes.

I’m currently planning a trip to Charleston with two girlfriends – my first girls-only trip that doesn’t include any of my family members whaaaaattttt – and then a spontaneous trip with one of the friends to Tampa, where she lives.  I’ll be there for over a week.  As the kids say, it’s gonna be LIT.

And then there are times when my friends and I don’t plan things months in advance – sometimes it’s merely hours in advance.  I’m still reeling over something I did with my sisters and some friends the other week – something we “HEY LOOK AT THIS LET’S DO IT” planned the night before “it” was going to happen.

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l-r: lorelai, rory, sookie, luke, paris

We Gilmore-bounded at Luke’s.

If you’re familiar with Disney-bounding, it’s basically the same thing… except Gilmore Girls-themed.  And as a promotional thing for the Gilmore Girls revival (AAAAHHHHH), two hundred coffee shops across America transformed into Luke’s for the day.

The one nearest to my house was 45 minutes away, but that didn’t stop my sisters and I from getting up at 6:30 and leaving the house by 7 to hightail it over there.

WE HAD SUCH A BLAST, GUYS.  Everybody there was a fan of the show.  It was like a mini-Comic Con – BUT SOLELY FOR GILMORE GIRLS FANS.  They had everything set up like Luke’s – and they even had Gilmore Girls playing on TVs around the coffee shop.  (I have a video of everyone singing the theme song and then letting out a massive groan when the internet cut out halfway through the song.)

My friends and I went our separate ways later that morning, but got together again that night to practice music for two weddings that weekend – and basically all we could talk about was the morning.  It was so ridiculously fun, and definitely ranks on my top ten list of memories for this entire year.

(And obviously we’ll all be doing it again when the revival comes out next month.  Duh.)

Well.  I need to go do some school now.  Hope you enjoyed reading this – and let me know if you want more!