college

1989 Nashville hopes and wildest dreams (ah, ah)

My dearest taylorswift,

I’ve never missed one of your tours. I’ve screamed and cried and danced through 9 of your shows since 2009, when I attended the Fearless tour in Louisville with my mom and high school history teacher. What a journey it’s been.

I came to love you first because I loved the Jonas Brothers (so glad you’re all friends again, by the way). Suddenly there was this ethereal blonde girl who sang country songs that somehow resonated with my life. I saw you as someone who could perfectly express all these feelings I’d had or somehow knew even if I’d never been in your situations. Your songs made my normal, small town life feel bigger somehow.

Fearless was the album of the end of high school for me. Love Story was riding to an away football game on one of the first chilly September days. Fifteen was (and still is) the song that brought tears to my eyes when I thought about how tragic and beautiful adolescence can be. Change was the song that made me want to spin around and jump and feel ready to take on the world. The Best Day was the song I sang in front of 300 of my peers at a summer camp when I really missed my mom.

Speak Now was my freshman year of college. Sparks Fly was dancing around my dorm room with my best friend who was just as excited and freaked out by college as me. Dear John was the song I blasted and belted along to on long car rides. Never Grow Up was like the hug I needed when I felt homesick.

Red was all the stress and craziness of the end of college. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was the song I danced to through the aisles of the bookstore where I worked before going back to school. 22 was (obviously) the anthem of my 22nd birthday. All Too Well was the song that gave me chills the first time I listened to the album. It’s still my favorite you’ve ever written.

1989 is the album of the beginning of my adult life. It’s getting me through grad school and applying to PhD programs. It’s the only CD that’s been in my car since October 2014. Welcome to New York was the sparkly song that accompanied my roommate and me on a visit to New York last December. Blank Space and Bad Blood are the songs I’ll probably still be dancing to by the time album six rolls out. Shake It Off gets me through the days when I think school might kill me. You Are In Love is everything I hope to have in a relationship.

Your songs have made me me. Your music has been the soundtrack of my life for six years. When I’m feeling especially overwhelmed or sad or tired or lonely, you’re always the person I can turn to for comfort, a crazy dance party, or anything in between.

This weekend will be a weird one for me. It’s the first time you’ll be in town and I don’t have tickets. My status as a lowly grad student means I haven’t gotten a paycheck for five months (which is just the worst, right?) and my budget hasn’t exactly been big enough for concert tickets. One of my best friends and I have been desperately trying to figure out how to get ourselves into one of the Nashville shows just to be part of the audience. Any chance you could help us out?

lovelovelove,

Brenna

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2014: A Recap

I don’t think it’s even necessary to say that 2014 has been really, really good to me. Some of my wildest dreams came true this year and I am immensely happy and grateful for what was easily the best year of my life. Here’s a quick recap of the best things that happened to me in 2014.

  1. I went to the Sundance Film Festival. Really, this blog post could end after this first thing on this list, because Sundance was undoubtedly the most life-changing thing I experienced this year. I loved every moment of it (even when I got sick and lost my voice for a few days). Nothing can ever really live up to the experience of Sundance and watching awesome movies with the actors and directors and producers and creators in the room. Sundance, I can’t wait to see you again soon. Thanks for the best 10 days I’ve ever spent.
  2. I graduated from college and decided what I want to do with my life. This May, I graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Popular Culture Studies (plus a second major in French and a minor in Performing Arts Administration). I adore WKU, so much, in fact, that I’m now one semester into a two-year English literature Master’s program at WKU. It’s very strange to know that I have a degree that qualifies me to do things. For the foreseeable future, though, I’ll still be in school; my career plan sees me finishing a Master’s and hopefully doctorate in the coming years so I can become a professor at a university. My post-graduation plans certainly didn’t going according to Plan A (or Plan B or Plan C, for that matter), but I’ve learned so much in the last year, both in school and about my own passions. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.
  3. I started living with one of my best friends. I’ve been fortunate that I lived with three of my closest friends during my four years as an undergrad, so it’s pretty lucky that I’m continuing that tradition as a grad student as well. Ryan and I have known each other for about 17 years (I can’t believe I’m old enough to say that), so living together is quite normal. To answer the question I’ve been asked many times, no, we aren’t dating/married/engaged/expecting any kind of lifelong commitment, but we are essentially the same person and have nearly lived together for the past few years because of how much time we spend together, so it just makes sense that our cohabitation is finally official.
  4. I had two more wonderful trips to New York. In case this is still unclear to you, I’m rather skilled at going to New York and meeting famous people. 2014 brought about two of these trips, once in May and once just recently in December. Between these trips, I once again met a number of celebrities and managed to reconnect with friends in the process. It’s a pretty perfect way to spend a few days, if I do say so myself.
  5. I read and watched lots and lots of great things. I’ve already posted my “year in review” blogs about my favorite reading and watching projects this year, so consult those if you’re looking for recommendations. I’m ending 2014 having read 91 books, watched 145 new (to me) movies, and 23 completed TV series. If I had all the time in the world, I’d be doing these things nonstop. Considering I’m a full-time student with a graduate assistantship that keeps me plenty busy, I’m quite content with my progress this year. I can only hope 2015 will be this good to me.

November.

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Though November is pretty much my favorite month of the year, it’s also an undoubtedly busy time. I’m eleven weeks into the semester, which means that things are generally winding down, but also that finals and exams and presentations and papers are all happening. This is really the first time I’ve been behind in any classes, which is a pretty good accomplishment (and probably a reason why I shouldn’t be sitting here writing this instead of reading Hamlet). Sometimes you just need a break.

 

TV  — Thankfully, I’ve still managed to keep up with my pop culture fun to a certain extent. On Monday, I finished my viewing of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” because Netflix was kind enough to add the ninth season just a few days after I finished season 8. I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching thisshow, and I’m very excited FX is already showing a preview for next season.

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As for my other TV viewing habits, I’m just trying to keep up with the influx of fall shows. I’ve only added two new shows to my schedule this season: ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and The CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” “How to Get Away with Murder” provides the same melodramatic fun that I love about “Scandal,” and “Jane the Virgin” is adorable and funny and totally worth watching. I’m also keeping up with returning shows like “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” “Scandal,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Reign,” and “America’s Next Top Model.” I’m waiting until Thanksgiving/Christmas break to binge the new season of “Homeland” with my mom. We’ve seen the first two episodes, but decided it would be easier to wait than to try to catch up little by little, so don’t spoil things, please!

Movies — As of yesterday, I’ve completed my goal of watching 125 new movies in 2014! I haven’t seen many in theaters recently, apart from Gone Girlwhich you really all should have seen by now because it’s wonderful. I’m definitely looking forward to the onslaught of awards season movies that are starting to roll out now; I’m specifically excited for Birdman, Nightcrawler, The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, Wild, Into the Woods, and seeing Whiplash again. As for the movies I have seen recently, some favorites have included Obvious Child, In A World…, and Scream 1, 2, and 3. Netflix doesn’t have Scream 4 right now, which is fairly frustrating. I also had the distinct pleasure of watching the notoriously bad Showgirls recently which was certainly an experience.

Books — Most of my reading has been focused on completing my reading assignments for class, which is pretty understandable considering I’m in an English Master’s program. My biggest projects there have been Hamlet (which I’m behind on) and Antony and Cleopatra (which our professor removed from the reading list, but since I’m already three acts in, I want to finish it). I’m also working away at reading lots of Edgar Allan Poe short stories since I have a class specifically dedicated to Poe. For my final class, most of my reading has been from a very helpful book called Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide that goes in-depth on various critical theories used to analyze literature. It’s great for lit nerds, not so great for the casual reader.

For my own funIMG_0667.JPG reading, I’ve only done three noteworthy reading projects of late, but all of them are worth mentioning. Early in October I bought and read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, which I enjoyed (if you’re interested, I’m on Dunham’s side in this “sexual abuse” situation, but I also don’t want to start a debate). Though it wasn’t my favorite read ever, there were many laugh-out-loud moments and I thought it was a very true representation of what Dunham has always claimed to be. I also read Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot in October in my quest to read all the important drama literature. The play is frustrating and sad, like lots of those written in the absurd style. Currently, I’m reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Pleasewhich is of course entertaining and funny. I expect to finish it this weekend, so look out for a post with my review.IMG_0683.JPG

And to cap it all off, Taylor Swift’s newest album, 1989, was released last week, meaning that I won’t really be listening to any other music until at least January. My favorite songs at the moment are “Blank Space,” “Style,” and “I Wish You Would.” But I basically adore the entire album because Taylor is a goddess and I’ve worshiped her for six years.

Now, back to the real world. It’s the weekend and after spending the afternoon at our homecoming football game, I know I should be thinking about completing the homework that’s been accumulating on my to do list. Right now, though, the idea of curling up in a blanket on the couch watching movies for the rest of the night sounds so, so much better. A girl can dream, I guess.

 

 

 

 

 

Wait, I have a Bachelor’s degree?

As of May 17, 2014, I am officially a college graduate. At 2:00 PM that afternoon, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Western Kentucky University and our Honors College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Popular Culture Studies, as well as a second major in French and a minor in Performing Arts Administration. I loved every moment of my 4 years at WKU, so to sum up, I thought I’d give a few highlights of the experiences I had in the last few weeks that made my time as an undergrad so special.

I was fortunate enough in my final semester to only need 3 classes to complete my major and minor programs, but in order to maintain my scholarship, I had to remain a full-time student. Since I had the extra time in my schedule, I decided to take Italian 101 and 102, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Our class was blessed with a wonderful professoressa, Paola Mannarelli, who not only helped us all learn the language, she encouraged us to ask questions and engage with her as often as possible, which included cooking nights. Though I couldn’t attend these as often as I would have liked, it was always a memorable experience when I did, and I’m so thankful for the experience. To top it all off, Paola and two of my classmates, Emily and Hadley, also attended my graduation ceremony (after attending Emily’s graduation that morning) and brought me flowers. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of such a great group of people. Below are pictures of the first cooking night I attended when we made gnocchi and my visitors at graduation.

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I was also very fortunate this semester to be invited to attend several banquets for various organizations across campus. In April, I was honored as the outstanding graduate in my Pop Culture Studies major, and my roommate, Kaitlynn, (pictured with me below) was chosen as the outstanding graduate in her major, Broadcasting.

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One of the benchmark activities of my semester was my Thesis Defense of the Honors Thesis Project I’d been working on since the fall 2012 semester. I defended my project on April 28 and passed with honors. Lifting a weight that had been on my shoulders for over a year was an immensely gratifying experience. This photo of my mom and me was taken by a group of my friends who supported me at the defense at went out to celebrate with us after.

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Another of the many banquets to attend was hosted by Study Abroad and Global Learning for all graduating students who spent time abroad through the university. I was fortunate enough to study abroad twice during my time at WKU — in 2011 in England for an Honors class, and in 2012 in Montreal for an internship. Pictured below are photos of me with several of my closest friends at WKU. First is one with Kaitlynn and Lendee, my friends since we lived in the same residence hall our Freshman year and attended the Sundance Film Festival together in January. The second is me with my lifelong friend Ryan, who was my date/stand-in mother since my real mom couldn’t attend the banquet. That’s what friends are for, I suppose. The third photo is me wearing my SAGL stole that has the flags on it representing the countries where I studied abroad.

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Perhaps the most bittersweet end-of-the-year gatherings was the one I attended for the Dean’s Council of Students, an organization I’ve been a part of for two years. We represent Potter College of Arts and Letters and had a large group of graduating students this year. It’s always hard to say goodbye to a tightly knit group, especially when some of the members are your close friends. Here are two of my favorite photos from the night: the first is a recreation of a photo we took at the BBQ last year, and the second is one that rather accurately captures my friendship with my lovely best friend Katie.

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And finally… to the real graduation ceremony. Overall, the ceremony lasted over three hours, but thankfully, it passed rather quickly. I was able to sit with my roommate and near many of our close friends, and we were among the very first people to walk the line (unfortunately, this also meant we had to sit through a long list of the other graduates, but what can you do). The following are a few of the photos taken during graduation day. The first is after my roommate and I walked the line, the second is my mom and me after the ceremony, and the third is with my dad, who flew out from California with my stepmom for the ceremony.

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And finally, a snapshot of my diploma, which arrived in the mail earlier today. It’s safe to say that opening the envelope that contained evidence of my work for the past four years was nothing short of surreal. Here’s to the post-graduate life.

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Snow Day Musings

Since I’m currently experiencing the great fortune of having snow days for two days running, I thought I’d take full advantage of the opportunity and write more while I’ve got the time. Here’s what a snow day looks like in your last semester of college.

Homework still exists, unfortunately.

Having this time off is great, but that doesn’t mean professors ignore your assignments. I’ve got a proposal to turn in for my major capstone project and I had two days worth of Italian homework to complete. And I’ve got a quiz to study for tomorrow. It’s really difficult to make yourself work on important things when you have days off, though. It’s a real struggle. I’m trying to persevere.

There’s time to write blogs and watch classic movies and start new TV projects.

As you may have noticed from my posts today and yesterday, there’s time for me to actually sit and think about things and write them down. Hooray! I also watched A Streetcar Named Desire yesterday, fulfilling not only my required viewing for my Modern American Drama course, but also crossing off another movie from the AFI Top 100 list I’ve been working on. My goal is to watch 10 films from the list this year, and this was my first. Progress!

I’m all caught up on all my TV/DVR projects, too (except for How I Met Your Mother, which I’ll watch later today). Girls was great as per usual, and I thought Sunday’s penultimate episode of True Detective was the best yet. And can we talk about how Bates Motel came back? Because I LOVED IT. I rewatched season one’s finale yesterday (because I had so much free time) and I was so pleased to be reminded of how wonderful this show is. Norma Bates is a queen.

I’m also currently watching the third episode of HBO’s Romemy newest TV project. My friend Ryan really enjoyed it when he watched it last fall, so I decided start my newest venture with a show that came highly recommended from a trusted source. Since I’ll be on spring break next week, there’s a good chance I’ll be finished with Rome rather quickly. This thought makes me happy, because I really, really love crossing things off my to do list. It’s the little things.

You never have to leave your home. It’s really fantastic.

Since making a quick run on Sunday to return two movies to Redbox (Don Jon and the new Carrie, if you’re interested), I’ve not left my apartment. I’m a bit of a hermit, so I really love when I don’t have to go places. Leftover food from my Oscar viewing party and TV shows have kept me quite happy in my comfy little corner of the world.

No word yet on whether school will be back to normal tomorrow, but I can say that these two days have been so very satisfactory that I can go back to real life feeling rejuvenated. And, since I start spring break next week, I think I can survive three days of school before having an entire week off. Oh, the joys of being a student.