Monthly Archives

July 2015

Month Two Alix (San Fran Bound)

July 28, 2015

The First Years AlixALIX GRAPHIC


 day 72 and leaving the nest for the west


4 Score and 8 years ago during 9th grade Earth Science class, we would get extra credit if we recycled something and made something useful out of it. In my 15-year-old mind, the obvious answer to recycled goods was the surplus of shopping bags I had in my closet. From this surplus, I created what I now wake up to every morning and fall asleep to every night: a wall-paper of collaged shopping bags plastered on the walls of my room. Though overwhelming, materialistic, colorful, and (unfortunately) non-artistic, as I sit surrounded by these walls that have been characteristic of my room since childhood, it is difficult to envision creating a new, permanent home.

In two weeks, this VT raised gal will begin her journey to becoming a bae in the Bay (for more than a day #onewaytickettoparadise) as she moves across the country to make a home in San Francisco. What I have come to discover is that making a home and finding a home are two very different things, and finding a home (whether you like it or not) has to happen before any of those dreams of scented candles, L-shaped plush couches, and personalized bike racks come to reality.

With me and my three (incredible, awesome, and brilliant) roommates scattered across the world post college and far from San Francisco, finding our dream home has not been easy. Countless hours on craigslist, bid wars, and credit score checks kept us all preoccupied for weeks (shout out to the San Francisco Bay’s Bae & MVP, Kim for fighting the crowds of fellow craigslist addicts to get to the open houses). This was an entirely new arena from GW’s housing portal. What was a down payment? A broker fee? Rent control? It was a completely overwhelming and ultimately scary process. What if I had to move across the country without a place to call home?

Amidst this chaos, I decided to take a spontaneous trip to New York, where a friend and I went to a yoga class. The philosophical discussion of the day: overcoming fear. As if the stars and planets aligned, when I arose from my mat after 2.5 hours of impossible twists and poses, I returned to my phone to find that Kim had found the perfect apartment- a beautiful four bedroom flat with a garden and living space fit for both rowdy pregames and ladies only Wine Wednesdays.

It is easy to be afraid of what we don’t know, but if this process has taught me (or really just reminded me) of anything it’s that building a home is about much more than taping old shopping bags to your bedroom wall. It’s about trusting your friends, staying positive, and being open to what the world offers you. If you put out positive energy, you will get positive energy in return. It always works out in the end.



Here’s the new pad:



Month Two Taylor, On Her Housing Status

July 8, 2015

Taylor First Year Photo

Taylor Name Plate

    day 52, formally airing grievances she’s been airing unsolicited                   

Hey ya’ll!

Welcome back to my lil’ deranged section of Kelly’s “The First Year”      Series. This month, we’re talking housing. In other words, where have our as-of-graduation homeless asses found a place to crash and continue our training as professional thermostat-changers (if you can’t handle me at my worst – anything hotter than a brisk 68 degrees – you certainly don’t deserve me at my best: a straight-up icebox).

I found this topic particularly titillating when Kelly unveiled it to us First Years because it finally allowed me the opportunity to air certain grievances I have been casting onto my family for the past four months without so much of an eye roll back in response, much less the acknowledgment that I was even speaking. For the first time in my 21 years I had been asked to complain. After checking my backyard and basement for Ashton Kutcher, I nixed the possibility that I was being Punk’d (and this dated reference along with it) and got to writing. A few dramatic huffs and puffs and pages later about Dasani water and battles for the airplane armrests and guys who wear pants with palm trees on them, I reminded myself of the term “relevancy” and got back to the task at hand.

This past March my family made the dramatic move 50 miles north of Yonkers, New York in Westchester, the county right outside of New York City, to Bridgeport, Connecticut. You heard that right. My mother uprooted me and my already pretty-grown up twin 17 year-old siblings away from the greatest city on Earth to a place where palm tree pants run rampant. How dare she?

I’m not as much of a brat as the last paragraph would suggest, so it didn’t take long for me to shake the devastation that I’d have to tell strangers I live anywhere other than New York and adopt newfound joy at the prospect of the turn-of-the-century Spanish Mediterranean my family was about to wreak havoc in begin the next chapter of our lives in. I returned home one weekend before graduation. My mother and I took the drive up to visit the empty house. The gothic cathedral ceilings swept me off my feet. The wrought-iron Romeo and Juliet indoor balcony took my breath away. The hand-forged swinging windows in the bedrooms made me fall to the floor, where I remained in disbelief and a small pout session after being informed that none of those bedrooms were for me (I’m really not a brat, I promise).

Three bathrooms, four bedrooms – just enough room for my mom, brother Tristan, sister Sydney, and grandparents. Just enough room until I graduated and left DC, the past four years of my life in a U-Haul behind me, and moved to the new house, where the whole family had to swallow the harsh reality that this ain’t no summer vacation, this is life.

Fast forward four weeks and I’ve spent the first month of my First Year couch-surfing…in my own home. The passive-aggressive jokes about being the forgotten child quickly became old news because in my mother’s defense, the couches really are comfortable. And who ever said having divorced parents is a bad thing? As far as I’m concerned, the only price I have to pay is a Starbucks quad espresso macchiato with one raw sugar and extra foam to the matriarch herself in exchange the other half of her king-sized, three-hundred thread count, French linen bed.

It hasn’t taken me long after commencement to already learn a valuable lesson: where you’re dreaming is not nearly as important as what you’re dreaming about. Or as important as even dreaming at all, rather than repeatedly sleeping off your blackouts from the night before. We just celebrated graduating college, not our retirements, and it doesn’t take a luxury apartment or mortgage or bills addressed in our name to feel accomplished. As long as we’re not sleeping on ourselves, does it really matter where we end up sleeping?

It hasn’t taken me long after commencement to already learn a valuable lesson: where you’re dreaming is not nearly as important as what you’re dreaming about.

Because this is the time of our life where we’re supposed to struggle with how to remove a wine stain from the carpet and wash our dishes by hand and cry over assembling Ikea furniture. Burn our toast and eat it anyway. Collect pieces of art and knick-knacks for the apartment-of-our-dreams before even living in it. Be clueless and free-like-birds and terrified at the thought of not knowing where we’ll crash tonight while taking solace in the fact that we’re still hot enough to flirt ourselves in the bed of an unsuspecting stranger.

Lucky for all of us, we have friends and families who, despite the fact that we eat all the food and do none of the chores, love us even if they don’t like us, so that stranger’s bed can remain a tipsy choice and not a last resort. Ultimately, not having to worry about my rent has given me more time to focus on my career, on my passions and on what it is that I’d like to do with my future.

So to all my fellow First Years, keep a steady hand on that thermostat and a steadier hand on your dreams, because though we may be riding an unsteady wave of couches, we’re simultaneously riding an even more unsteady wave: life. And trust me when I say, both are pretty plush.

Taylor Home 2

Taylor Home1

British Heat Wave

July 5, 2015

My mother’s apartment doesn’t have air conditioning. This hasn’t ever been a problem before because the high in the Thames River Valley rarely skirts above 24 degrees Celsius (or 75 degrees for us Americans). An English summer usually demands at the very least a light sweater and boyfriend jeans. It was on this preconceived notion in which I packed; half of my 56 pound (whoops) bag consists of Madewell sweaters and pant options that I had been missing since DC warmed up around mid-April.

The past week had me wishing that 50 out of my 56 pounds consisted of summer clothing in fabrics as light as they come. The UK is having a heat wave.

Wednesday, July 1st was the hottest day England has seen in over 9 years. It was already boiling when we woke up at 8 am in pursuit of Windsor Castle (favorite residence of Her Majesty, The Queen).

The plan was to take the highly functional, always on time (please read: dysfunctional, rarely on time) First Great Western train from Henley to Twyford, Twyford to Slough, Slough to Windsor. It was the perfect day to find ourselves on multiple packed train platforms and in sardine-like train cars that, in a particular feat of engineering, ensure that no air circulates through them, ever.

By the time we got to Windsor the heat had edged up around 90 and my sister’s hair had edged up to semi-afro. She was dragging her feet and I was complaining and my dad was sweating through his shirt, but we somehow still took a minute to stand in awe at the relics from Queen Victoria’s reign and the room of china place settings (sorry, no photos in the castle).

And when Katie and I had ungratefully whined enough my aunt and my cousins finished up looking at old stone and old churches and we found a very photogenic pub, drank some Pear Cider that went right to my head and then repeated the extremely cool and quick ride home.

When we finally got back to my mother’s very hot second-floor apartment and put on all of the fans, I fell asleep face down on the hardwood floor telling myself that this is what I dream of when I’m complaining about winter weather.

Windsor 3        windsor 5

Windsor 2

Windsor 1

Windsor 6

Windsor 8

Windsor 11

Windsor 12

windsor 13

Windsor 10