Running Out of Gas: A Typical Tallahassee Story

A lot has happened in the past few days, most of which was instigated by me getting on a plane and flying a thousand miles South. I don’t remember the actual ride, because I was lucky enough to have a first-row seat (thanks dad!) and really sleep-deprived so I curled up like a kitty and woke up in Orlando. Technology is wonderful.

How to have a good college experience: make awesome friends. I couldn’t tell you how to make friends. I think I must have bribed mine in the past and forgotten about it. But right on time, my friends Kat (who I live with) and Julianne (who I practically live with) picked me up in the little VW Beetle and we were on our way to Tallahassee, me stuffed in the backseat with boxes and luggage and my guitar across my legs. And we talked for the next four hours.

There was a lot to catch up on. My musical. Kat’s job. That cool musical I wrote. Jules’s boyfriend and her weird class schedule. The awesome people in my musical. My internship. Their trip to Disney. Back to me. 

In retrospect, I may have dominated the conversation. 

Everything was going hunky-dory until we got into Tallahassee, and then the car sensed the city limits and promptly decided to start working. So we were out of gas, twenty minutes away from school, in 100 degree weather.

(Oh, I didn’t mention the heat yet. You know how New Jersey was beautiful and cool and damp and grey all summer? It’s because Florida was hogging all the heat.)

Luckily, we’ve all made friends just so we can use them in tight situations like this one, so Kat called up some high school buddies and they came out there with gas. And then we went to the gas station to really fill up. And the car died again.

Fixing up the dorm so it looks like girls live here.

Fixing up the dorm so it looks like girls live here.

So at this point, it’s 4:00, we’re all hot, and there’s no transportation. Call in the dads. Not one of our fathers–the dads taking their Freshman sons to FSU for the first time, who saw three (sweaty, cursing, smelly) girls doing excellent impressions of damsels in distress. They got the car into a parking spot and jumped it, which gave us enough juice to get to the dorm.

Hooray! Our dorm! The same one from last year minus our stuff because that was still scattered around Tallahassee!

In order to un-scatter our stuff and get, you know, a change of clothes and our bed things, we needed a car. If I had a car, I wouldn’t have hitch-hiked into Tally. We called in further favors (seriously though, why is anyone friends with me? I must have paid them in a past life) and got a rather large car from Ari so we could rescue everything in one trip. Awesome. Cool. Except now it’s 9:00, and moving everything into the dorm took until 11:00, and we hadn’t eaten all day, so of course that’s the best time for grocery shopping.

On our way out the door, Liz, who’d helped up store the stuff, said, “Settlers of Catan after you go to the store?”

“Yeah, okay, whatever,” Kat and I said, too hungry to be tired. Plus we had the car for the night. Might as well use it.

So we shouldn’t have been surprised when she got to our apartment at 1 am with her boyfriend and Catan, but by then the exhaustion was setting in. Other people dropped by to welcome us back to school. We gave them cookies we’d picked up at the store and offered them seats on the floor, as the couches and chairs were buried under piles of boxes. Sometime after that, I fell asleep on a bare mattress with a borrowed blanket, because my stuff was still trapped in the basement of our dorm, a room that wouldn’t open until Monday.

THAT WAS ALL ONE DAY

Kat knows I'm about to mahjong with crap hands and she's pissed.

Kat knows I’m about to mahjong with crap hands and she’s pissed.

Sunday was infinitely more relaxed. After a trip to get command strips and soap and other essentials, we started decorating our dorm, unpacking boxes–only after we’d hooked up the tv so we could blast Pandora. It’s been too long since we’d listened to the musical station on high volume. 

There was a loose idea that we’d go to a movie that night, so Kat and I had the afternoon to kill. It was too hot to think about going outside (another 100 degree day) so the only alternative is obviously mahjong. She trounced me while making up harmonies for Hairspray.

We got the girls together for the movie and spent too long making dinner to make the early show, so we moseyed over to a late one. The movie itself (If I Stay) was not nearly so interesting as the fact that we had the whole theater to ourselves, so we did commentary. It was a good night.

(Notice that there is no mention of class-related activities yet. I will stress about that in an hour when I have to go to class)

By this morning, our apartment looks like a place people live. I got my sheets and my teddy bear, so what else does a girl need? Ari came over early and I spent the morning with my musical playing over the speakers, acting out all nine parts for her and Kat’s entertainment. Maybe we’ll write a one-woman show next.

After one of the most thoroughly fun summers of my life, this last semester can only possibly be awesome. As long as cars stop breaking down, and I can stop talking about my musical.

When You’ve Done All That You Can Do

We casted for the musical in the last week of May. By mid-June, we were rehearsing three times a week. In July, it was four times a week, five if schedules were bad. The days before we recorded no one went home, which meant a 72-hour crunch filled with games and points and no sleep.

Catching some sleep during a graveyard shift rehearsal.

Catching some sleep during a graveyard shift rehearsal.

Not since marching band have I felt this–relief that everything is over and a little…restless? Like, there should be a gradual process of getting out of these long days, like we gradually worked out way into the show. Instead, it’s quitting cold turkey. So of course I’m making sure the pictures turned out okay and uploading the videos and generally not letting go at all.

I wrote the book version of the play. It’s getting sad. 

But let’s start from the beginning, which is three days ago. On Friday we invited the families to come watch the play. The reason for this was threefold: 1. Our family was bugging us about wanting to see it, 2. We wanted the cast to be able to prove to their parents that they’ve had a productive summer, and 3. We wanted to see if our jokes were actually funny.

"My mother thinks you're a good boy."

“My mother thinks you’re a good boy.”

It went off well. We performed on the back porch, which felt very elementary school, like when you invite kids to watch your little skit on the playground. It also felt totally awesome. It was a nice day–we’ve had a summer of nice days in New Jersey–and after an hour or so of Michael having a conniption (we were supposed to start a little rehearsal at 10 am and most of the cast didn’t show until 11) we settled down to a crazy productive hour of costume checks and scene transitions before the parents came at noon.

And then we started, and went right through the whole show. Honestly, I feel like we got off easy. Like, there should have been a freak rainstorm or something. I’d been having nightmares of the cast forgetting how to sing, so when everyone remembered their lines I was so excited.

24 hours before we record, everyone meets for the first time.

24 hours before we record, everyone meets for the first time.

(side note: I don’t understand performing. I was in plays when I was little, four or five, always in the ensamble. I can’t act. I laugh at my own jokes. I can’t sing. When people stare at me I freeze up. On Friday, everyone seemed to thrive on the attention, which is just baffling. But the funny people were funnier, holding out for jokes. The serious parts gave me goosebumps. I give the credit to Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway. If you can say your lines backwards, you can do anything.)

Cool parts included Maggie hitting Michael in the stomach with a prop and a girl coming up to be at intermission to tell me that one of the characters was “kind of mean.” “Well good,” I said, “he’s supposed to be.”

Also, people seemed only minimally confused by eight people playing four characters. 

Afterwards, we lazed around for the afternoon while everyone ran home to kiss their moms and change clothes and grab bathing suits. Because we were leaving at 6 am on Saturday, we decided to just have a sleepover. Mostly to save Michael’s sanity. 

So we spent the evening in the pool. You’ve probably had nights like this one: everyone talking more than swimming. Secrets revealed. Stories swapped. There’s something about darkness and stars and hot tubs and fires that brings out the chattiness in people, that makes everyone okay with being up close and personal. 

Waking up for a 6am call.

Waking up for a 6am call.

Because we were getting up so early we wanted to be in bed by midnight. Which really meant that Michael and I were in bed by midnight and everyone else–the ten people sleeping in the basement–stayed up talking. What else can you expect? 

We split into two cars for the drive up. Everyone fell asleep in mine except for dad and Amanda until we hit Wawa, at which point we were given the order to “sing gently” to warm up the voices. Which meant belting show tunes.

What’s a recording studio like? Ours was a big room hung with black curtains. In the hallway leading into it were posters for about a hundred different shows that had been recorded there. (None of them were Anything For Love). It took about an hour to set everything up, to put the mics at the right height (there’s a full twelve inches of height difference between the shortest and tallest people in the cast, so that was fun.) We did eight takes of the first song and then caught the rhythm of the thing.

Smiling at the recording studio? Must be early.

Smiling at the recording studio? Must be early.

It was a long, nerve-wracking day. My palms were sweaty. That has never, ever happened to me before. I thought it was a description for characters in books. I wasn’t even singing and my palms were sweaty, afraid once again that everyone would forget their lines. 

By four o’clock everyone was so hungry it hurt, but we needed to get a two hour show recorded in six hours, which is harder than it sounds, and we had another three songs to go. Everyone was on edge. We’d left the solos for last, which was probably pretty stupid because voices wear down if you sing for hours at a time.

It got to the point where everyone was so nervous that I told Dylan, who’d done marching band with me and Mike, to lead everyone in tai-chi, which we’d learned for one of our shows. It’s kind of a meditative warrior dance, and it used to work to take the edge off before performing with the band. And it worked here. We got a second wind for the last three songs, blew through them in forty minutes, and went home with a flash drive full of our play.

(It’s not the final cut, that’s still in post-production, but I’ve already listened to it all the way through three times.)

Then? Dinner, the drive home. We put the songs we’d just recorded on and had the distinct pleasure of hearing a voice come out of the speakers and the same voice start singing right behind you. And then that was it. A wrap. Curtain. End of show.

Michael pacing like a nervous father.

Michael pacing like a nervous father.

In band–I can’t stop talking about band, maybe because that was the last time I was a part of a group of people making something big and musical and creative–we had this thing called the Cry Fest. It was the day before Nationals and everyone would talk about what band meant to them. And everyone ended up crying. It was cathartic. We’re planning our cry fest for Christmas, when hopefully time and distance will make the event less teary.

Now I have to pack for school (for my LAST SEMESTER. How crazy is that?) And I can’t stop listening to the play. Hopefully I’ll hear it enough this week that I won’t annoy my roommates with it in Tally. Probably not. It’s hard to get over something you created.

Not that this is the end. We already have a performance planned for next year. A real one with a set and theater and everything. And I’m already tweaking the script in my head. It’ll be quite a year. And who knows? This could go somewhere. I want nothing more than to driving through a random town and see posters for people doing Anything For Love. That’s the dream, for when our Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.

 

Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway?

The thing is, the musical Anything For Love has four main characters who are gay, so one the inaugural games was literally trying to guess which one of the gay characters said which line. We branched out from there. I’m sure most people are familiar with the tv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Michael had the brilliant idea to basically bribe people to rehearsal by enticing them with a chance to win points.

Processed with Rookie

Ah, competition. The four main couples in the show were willing to throw each other over to win points. Team building took a back seat to getting the scene to have as much movement and as many jokes as possible.

Here’s how to play Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway, in case you wanted to follow along at home:

1. Write a musical (or appropriate one, in a pinch)

2. Make sure to recruit a cast who are completely okay with cursing up a storm, because some of these games can drive the players to swearing. One player (*cough* Brady *cough*) almost came to blows with the Game Maker.

3. Have them off-book before playing these games. Improve is easier with a solid foundation to stand on.

Easy games include: Interpretive Dance (only to be done with songs. Looks corny with dialogue) Backwards Scene (yup, say all the lines backwards) and Props (get a prop, like a lamp or  a jar of peanut butter, and explain why the character has it. Bonus points for getting rid of the prop by the end of the scene.)

Weird artsy photo of Zach and Juliana playing Quick Change

Weird artsy photo of Zach and Juliana playing Quick Change

Medium games include: Quick Change (when the GM buzzes an actor, they have to change the last line they just said. This is the game that causes the most swearing and fist fights, especially when coupled with a trigger-happy GM) Film Noir (my personal favorite, where the actors pause ever few lines to narrate their own scene, or interject side comments, breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience) and Tempo Change (once again, only to be played with songs. Works well when you have a wicked awesome piano capable of changing the tempo of songs with the push of a button.)

And then there were the hard games. Three-Headed Broadway Star (most of our songs were too fast to really do this one without ending up with a lot of “uh”s and “um”s) Song Lyrics (get through a scene using only lines from the songs in the musical) and…oh, I’m sure there was another one, but after a few times being burned our cast got gun-shy of the hard games.

HARMONIES!!!

HARMONIES!!!

Okay, so the idea of playing Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway instead of, you know, doing serious rehearsal of scenes and especially songs when we’re days away from a professional recording might sound silly. But when the cast is popping in and out (because, you know, it’s a Wednesday and people have to work) and you end up with the same people doing the same scenes three, four, five times, you need to change things up a little.

The popping in and out of rehearsal thing annoyed Michael so much that we threw over the old schedule for the week and squeezed in a Graveyard Shift on Wednesday. Instead of acting like we’re normal people, we had a report time for practice set for 9 pm. The usual suspects were all there by midnight. At 1 am we did an interpretive dance of “Anything for Love” that was the most energetic, exciting performance of the song I had yet to witness. By 2 am, moms were calling about not seeing their teenage kids for hours. At 4, there was a group of us on the back porch, laughing over a board game and trying not to think about the fact that there was rehearsal in six hours.

Kramer's inserted himself into every scene

Kramer’s inserted himself into every scene

(I don’t do anything at rehearsal. I should probably emphasize that. I rewrite lines and try to figure out if something sounds weird but it’s not like I’m moving or acting or anything. So.)

But despite the goofing off (Michael would like to say because of the goofing off) we seem to be in a good place coming up to the home stretch (goddamnit, I jinxed it. Never mind. We’re doing terribly. Knock on all of the wood.) There’s harmonies for all for the songs, at least.

It’s weird to think that in three days all of this will be over. It’s been so many years since I was creating something with a group of dedicated, talented people, like when I was in marching band or in drama myself (always an extra.) It’s an amazing feeling to come out of a good rehearsal and feel like you accomplished something. I hope I am fortunate enough to do this again next summer. I believe in this show.

Because, really, if you don’t believe in your dreams, who will?

 

One Year Later

Can I get people caught up on a year in 1000 words or less?

I can certainly try.

Okay, so in Tallahassee: I’m managing editor of The Last Word (link to website here if you want to check it out. We’re pretty awesome.) I love TLW and all the editors, who work so hard to put out amazing writing and so rarely get credit. I’m giving you credit. Huge kudos.

Erin, Christina, Gaston, and me at Disney in April

Erin, Christina, Gaston, and me at Disney in April

I also got a new roommate. Erin. In the past year, she’s become one of my best friends, and is now moving out. If anyone’s keeping track, I’ve had 11 roommates since I started FSU. All of them have been wonderful people who have helped me in a lot ways, so I’m hoping that the last in this succession, who I will meet in two weeks, will continue the tradition of epicness.

In no particular order: I went to New Orleans for Spring break and roadtripped to Disney, twice. My laptop broke and got replaced by a Mac, meaning I caved into peer pressure and superior technology. A new cousin was born in January, named Maggie (Margaret, like my mother) I took two workshop classes and got published again in our undergraduate literary magazine, Kudzu (booyah!) FSU won the BCS national championship (football, for the non-Southerners out there.) I watched entirely too much Netflix, learned how to make fondue, adapted mahjong into a two-player game, and stressed over getting an internship.

Except I got the internship.

Yeah, we’re going to skip the whole school year and get to the fun part of summer. So what I really wanted out of this summer was an internship, preferably in publishing because 1. I really love books and would like to see how they got made 2. If I have to have a job, I’d like to get paid/credit for reading and 3. I want a recommendation letter for the MFA creative writing programs I’m applying for in the fall.

Visiting Laura in Chicago after the school year ended

Visiting Laura in Chicago after the school year ended

It is ridiculously difficult to get a publishing internship.

I told myself it’s because I don’t know anyone in the industry. I sent out 72 cover letters and resumes to anything that looked remotely like a publishing house. I got one definite reply. Hey, if the one person who calls you back is your dream job, who cares about the 71 no-shows? Erin (the aforementioned awesome new roommate who roadtripped from Pittsburgh to see me in the first two weeks of summer) and I went to NYC for this huge book expo, which means advanced reading copies and authors and an interview with the Sarah Jane Freymann literary agency.

I got the job. For absolutely no money (but tons of tea and lunch) I get to travel into NYC once a week and answer phones/do random stuff for the literary agency. Every other day, I’m reading mountains of submissions and helping to influence the fate of new authors. People get drunk on less power.

So I landed the internship of my dreams, with the nicest people ever and the coolest submissions. I just had an inordinate amount of stress about it from January until June.

What I wasn’t stressing about was Anything for Love (formerly Bat Out of Hell. You know–the musical my brother Michael and I were writing based off of the music of Meat Loaf?) That’s because I didn’t actually think we could pull it off. Boy, was I wrong.

A typical evening in early June. Michael addressing the AFL cast at the end of the night.

A typical evening in early June. Michael addressing the AFL cast at the end of the night.

We held auditions the last weekend of May. What we wanted was twelve solid kids to do a play with. We could offer them nothing but the opportunity to be a part of a work-in-progress. “No one will show!”I told Michael a we drove to the stage we had appropriated for the day.

“Sure they will. If they don’t–well, I guess we can fill in for the parts.”

“For EIGHT PARTS?”

“Think positive.”

We had eleven people try out. We took all of them. I cannot say enough how fantastic these kids have been.

First of all, they can really sing. And they can act. And if you’d seen my high school’s drama shows, you never would have known that. Second of all, we swapped people’s roles for about a month and they just went home and learned new lines. Oh, and we re-wrote the script daily, giving them hand-written inserts, crossing-out lines, saying, “Say this here instead!” We try out jokes on the cast. They suggest comic bits. And rehearsing four days a week for seven weeks has never been more fun.

Simon (played by Dylan) tries to break up with Jamie (played by Maggie) and can't seem to get the words out. Walter (Alex) isn't helping.

Simon (played by Dylan) tries to break up with Jamie (played by Maggie) and can’t seem to get the words out. Walter (Alex) isn’t helping.

During a typical rehearsal, I routinely have to remind people to stop smiling (most of the play is a series of arguments, like that episode of Three’s Company that’s some kind of misunderstanding.) Most of the time, people laugh halfway through a scene and it takes ten minutes for everyone to collect themselves. One time we made people cry. Cast members will come in with thoughtful questions about their parts.

In short: if you ever want a fantastic experience, write a play and get cool people to act it out. Sometimes it feels like grammar school all over again. Sometimes it feels like this could be something really cool.

So where are we now? This time next week, we’ll have recorded the songs for our play (which will hopefully be used to get it…somewhere. Like New York somewhere. Huge gulp.) Two weeks from now, I’ll be back in Tallahassee. And in a couple of months I’ll be graduating (oh yeah, I decided to graduate early, because that’s not a stupid idea at all.) And then? Maybe and MFA program. Maybe teaching. Who knows? If there’s one thing life after high school has taught me, it’s that you have to roll with the punches. Sometimes you wind up in London, or in the stands as your college wins football games, or watching as people work hard to get the words you wrote to sound like a story.

It’s a hell of a life. I can’t wait to share it with you.

(994 words. Holla)

Sunshine State

Even in Florida it rains sometimes. And this weekend was one of those times.

The week flew by in its usual flurry of homework and more homework. This semester is ridiculous with its workload. I’m writing so much, but it’s rarely ever stories or novels or plays, like it was over the summer. It’s essay after essay, and blog posts and articles and stuff for class. I miss the summer, and its endless hours to be filled writing whatever I want. And sometimes a Bat Outta Hell song will come on and I’ll find myself itching to write more scenes for our mostly-finished musical.

Speaking of Bat Outta Hell, one of the highlights of the week was having a read-through with my friends (I still don’t really know how that

Ari and Ballou enjoying Star Trek after a long day.

Ari and Ballou enjoying Star Trek after a long day.

happened. I had the script pulled up and some people were over and we just…sat down and read it through. They had some good suggestions.) Everyone liked it. God I hope this show will get off the ground one day.

Another highlight was Wednesday. Kat and I do pretty well for ourselves with the whole no-car-but-need-to-get-to-the-store thing. We have friends. But Wednesday we were a critical no milk or eggs or bread situation. So, after burning through most of our friends with cars, I got Ari, who was sick, to take us out. We made soup and watched Star Trek as a reward. The best part was how little Ari and Kat knew about the Star Trek universe. I spent most of the movie waxing poetic about this series. I sounded like a total nerd, but by the end Ari was promising to watch Enterprise, so it was worth it.

And then Girl’s Night, where Patricia swung by and we broke out the baked brie and wine and dried fruit and cheese. So incredibly girlie, made worse by watching massive amounts of Gossip Girl and talking about boys and spying on the apartment across from us. Sometimes I feel like we wandered into a movie about college. We’re such stereotypes. It feels kind of amazing.

Jumping into the football game in the middle of a storm.

Jumping into the football game in the middle of a storm.

But that brings us to our rainy weekend. Saturday didn’t seem so bad until you stepped outside, and realized it was actually drizzling, little raindrops absolutely everywhere. So. Kat decided to stay in and watch the UF game while Ari and I went to see FSU. We only stayed for a quarter, because it was wet and strangely cold and we were beating them soundly after only fifteen minutes.

The coolest part of the game was that it was military appreciation day, so there was a small battalion of army and navy officers, and there were parachuters. Yup. There were three guys who parachuted right onto the fifty yard line of the stadium. And even with the rain, there was a good-sized crowd to appreciate this.

But Ari and I couldn’t stand to stay there and get wet, so we went back to the apartment and watched The Great Gatsby. Ari had been dropped off for the game, since parking is impossible, and after the movie she couldn’t rouse any of her friends to come get her. So we improvised a sleepover, complete with popcorn and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I haven’t hosted a sleepover at college yet. It feels strangely like high school.

And now we’re back to the regularly scheduled week. And another pile of homework.

Football!

If the Giants keep playing like they did last week, FSU is going to become my new favorite football team. Especially if they keep playing like they did this week–62 to 7 against the Nevada Wolf Pack. And those seen points were scored in the first quarter. After that it was a shut out.

So I went to my first ever college football game yesterday, and it was only after watching the pre-game show that I realized I’ve never been

The clouds rolling in rather dramatically.

The clouds rolling in rather dramatically.

to a live football game where I wasn’t in the marching band (okay, once, in eighth grade where I went to watch Absegami win States.) The point is that the marching band immediately caught my interest. And kept it.

It was hot. Florida hot is different from every other kind of hot. It’s the kind of hot that makes you know what it felt like for the witch when Hansel and Gretel pushed her into that oven. But luckily by halftime the clouds had rolled in and there was a bit of a breeze. Nothing that you would call “comfortable,” but it was definitely “better.”

Kat and I were among the only students to hang around til the very end of the game, mostly because a blow-out is fun for the first three hours but after that, you know, the war chant gets a little repetitive.

(it does not, but I’m sure that the other students’ various states of intoxication made the heat harder to handle.)

A note on “On the War Path.” This song was my high school’s fight song. No one in Gami cares about FSU. I had no idea what city Florida State was in until I actually landed here. And one of the first things I heard was my high school’s fight song. I graduated from an Absegami Brave to a Florida State Seminole (or Chief) and get the same fight song. Sometimes I really do think life is just the same few things over and over.

One last thing about the marching band–I’m glad for the week I got to spend as a Chief and totally think they made the right decision in not taking me. I am not a future music teacher and I have next to no skill with an instrument. But I was a little bit jealous of how much fun they seemed to be having at the football game. Oh sure, they’re half time show was cute and their roving trombones caused a stir, but between the first and second quarter they played the “Game of Thrones” theme music. Between the third and fourth they played the main theme from “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” These are very much my people, and I’m glad I still have friends in the band.

Kat with her game-face.

Kat with her game-face.

Now, on the game day–we were supposed to go with Ari, who became unavailable about an hour before kickoff, so Kat and I meandered down by ourselves and got a seat that apparently people paid about a hundred dollars for and we just wandered into. The stadium slowly filled up with various drunk spectators. Cue a fiery spear and a horse. Cue marching band. Cue football. Ready? Play.

We pulled ahead early and won easily. The majority of the entertainment came from a shouting match between a very drunk guy right behind Kat and a very drunk guy right in front of me. The one behind Kat kept shouting at the Nevada team players–not nice things, you can fill in the blanks–and it eventually turned fairly personal. A guy next to me asked this drunk dude to please stop yelling such vulgar things, as there were women around (welcome to school in the South) Drunk dude then started in on guy next to me and shoved him. Guy next to me shoved back. Scuffle turns into fight that would have been less funny if Drunk Dude wasn’t so freakin’ drunk and the whole thing wasn’t broken up in about ten seconds by various frat bros.

We stayed until the end, doing the Chop too many times to count, and then headed back to the apartment as the sun was going down. We’d been at the stadium for almost six hours. Sore from sitting on bleachers, we took showers and laid on our backs, staring at the ceiling until Kat’s stomach literally rumbled. “Okay,” I said, pushing myself to my feet, “I’ll make chicken, you find something to watch on Netflix.”

And so we spent the rest of the night slowly making our way through chicken, noodles, carrots, and yelling at the screen as the characters on Gossip Girl messed up their lives. Some days it’s nice to be a ‘Nole.

A Lot Can Happen

…in two weeks.

So, in the span of two weeks, I’ve somehow been volunteered to be workshopped firs tin my Creative Writing class (yikes!), we lost our third roommate (can’t seem to keep ‘em) and got roped into going to my first ever college football game. Oh, and I kind of figured out my life–until graduation, at least.

The workshopping thing came completely by accident, though somehow I wasn’t all that surprised. We were supposed to have a couple pages of a rough draft brought in last Friday. I brought in sixteen pages. My teacher glanced at it, then looked at me and said, “you’re going first, you know that, right?”

I’ve always had a fondness for going second. I’m pretty sure that has to do with birth order. Second means people still pay attention to you but you don’t have to break the ice of going first. And anything first can do, second can do better. But I knew that I was further along than anyone else in the class, and to make someone with less of a story go first would be unfair. “Okay.” I said. “Okay.”

I have until tomorrow afternoon to fix my story, or at least fix the major problems of my story. Creative writing classes do not promote trick endings, and that’s exactly what I wound up with in this sixteen page adventure. If I don’t fix it by tomorrow, every single one of my classmates is going to give me the same advice: no trick endings. What can I say? I spent much of my grammar school years reading Goosebumps. Trick endings were the thing when writing for children.

The second thing that happened is that we lost our third roommate to sickness. Nina, a study abroad student from Germany, met up with her boyfriend this weekend and went to the beach for her birthday. When she got back she collapsed onto the couch and said that America was very different from London, where she’d studied abroad last. She was homesick and sick-sick and needed to go back home. She already had a plane ticket.

“I’m sorry your experience couldn’t have been better here,” Kat said, sounding truly upset. Hey, we’d both done the stranger-in-a-strange-land thing Freshman year, but at least we were doing it with a whole group of Americans. And because we’d done the abroad program, we understood that sickness on top of homesickness can make you miserable, especially if you’re surrounded by strangers.

When Nina left the room, I turned to Kat. “It’s you,” I said, not really thinking about it before. But it’s so true. Last year, Kat’s roommate left

I'm fairly certain FSU is just about this ridiculous about football...

I’m fairly certain FSU is just about this ridiculous about football…

halfway through Spring semester. Our original third roommate never showed up. And Nina leaves after a week and a half. “Three strikes,” I said, smiling, “It has to be you.”

“Shut up,” Kat huffed, annoyed. “I’m not that hard to live with.”

She’s not, but it’s back to the two of us again. That’s okay. Tuesday night we whiled away the evening singing musical songs at the top of our voices. You can’t do that kind of thing with a third roommate.

It was just after we were informed that our trio was going back to two that Ari texted me and said to get a ticket to the home game this weekend. I’ve never been to an FSU game. I told Kat, and we both went online to make sure we had tickets. I’m actually really excited. I love football, and have been looking forward to seeing a game live since I first got to Tallahassee. Even if we’re just playing Nevada, and even though it’ll be a three-thirty afternoon game and therefore be about a hundred degrees, I expect it to be an experience.

Speaking of experiences…

I’ve wanted to work at Disney since I was little. The idea of a cast member appealed to me. I remember my dad pointing at the slightly-scaled-down street, the costumes, and saying that Disney World was just a big theater production. That may sound like a mean thing to point out to your child, but I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. After all, if you try hard enough, anyone can join a show.

When I got to FSU, the first person I got close to was Patricia, who had just come off her semester as a Jungle Cruise Skipper in the Magic Kingdom. That kind of sealed the deal for me. You can do this as a college program? You can take classes and make a little money and have what sounds like the time of your life? Where do I sign up?

So I signed up. There’s more to it than that, of course–an application and tow interviews and step-by-step whatever, but I signed up and expect to be offered a position for this coming Spring.

If I went to Disney World, I'd be working a ride, hopefully the Jungle Cruise.

If I went to Disney World, I’d be working a ride, hopefully the Jungle Cruise.

But. But I have the Yeti, and going the editor thing over there. But this is Patricia’s last semester, and Ari’s second-to-last. But I love living with Kat and just got comfortable here. Not to mention I’ve never stayed in the same room for more than one semester since I got to college (two flat in London, Florence, a room in the basement in the fall, a room on top in the spring, Ragans…) The idea of leaving again didn’t really feel right. But I also knew that if I passed up the college program I would regret it.

This is where talking things out comes in handy. Patricia picked me and Kat up and we went out for dinner and I asked them their honest opinions. “You should definitely do it,” Patricia said, “It was the best experience I had in college, other than London.”

“Why don’t you do it next Spring?” Kat chipped in, “Graduate in December. Use it as a break before grad school.”

You know when something just suddenly sounds right? That sounded right to me. It felt right. I have enough credits and have come far enough along in my two majors to graduate in June if I wanted to. And having eight months between undergrad and the grad school sounds like something I’m going to need. I’ll have time for internships in the summers. I’ll have time to say goodbye. I’ll have time.

A lot can happen in a couple of weeks. I’m just lucky that it decided to happen to me.