In Love with Lover

So it should not be a secret to anyone in my life that I am a diehard Taylor Swift fan. I heard the song “Teardrops on My Guitar” when I was 15 and the rest was history. The last 13 years with Taylor’s music have been a journey, leading up to the release of her latest album Lover which came out on Friday.

I will admit, I’ve been a bit annoyed with Taylor’s past couple album rollouts because she tends to release underwhelming (to me) singles in order to get attention from the general public (an audience I don’t think she really cared about until her wildly successful album 1989). The first single from Lover (ME!) straight up annoyed me while the second single (You Need to Calm Down) was cute but didn’t necessarily show off the writing she is capable of. Needless to say, I was a little nervous for Lover but fortunately the album exceeded my expectations! And now just for fun I’m going to do a track-by-track review of what may be my favorite album of hers ever.

  1. I Forgot That You Existed– While not a masterpeice by any means, this is a cute and fun way to begin the album. I think anyone who has gone through a bad breakup can relate to this song about waking up one day and just being over it. This is a catchy one- I find myself getting it stuck in my head often.
  2. Cruel Summer- I really don’t understand why this wasn’t a single. I think it would have been really successful on the radio! This isn’t my absolutely favorite song on the album but it is really fun and I can see it growing on me.
  3. Lover– I was a little disappointed when Taylor released this as the third single. It’s a cute love song but I dunno…it almost feels like a parody of one? Or something that someone who has never been in love wrote about what it feels like? I know that Taylor intended neither of those things. However, I bought the deluxe version of the CD from Target and the very last track is Taylor explaining about how she wrote the song and letting us hear the recording from when she initially played it for Jack Antonoff. She plays it for him on the piano instead of the guitar and let me tell you, it changes the entire vibe of the song. It sounds so much more sincere and I like it 10 times more. However, in the recording she explains to him that she definitely doesn’t want it to be on piano- she wants it to have a retro guitar sound. I think that was a bad choice overall and much would have preferred the piano version. Too bad I’m not one of Taylor’s producers. I would recommend buying the deluxe version just for that recording alone.
  4. The Man– Damn, this is a power anthem. I also think that Taylor totally could have released this as the first or second single. It’s catchy and well-produced but also has a strong message that would have resonated with a lot of people.
  5. The Archer– This is really the only song that Taylor released before the album that I liked. Simple production and melody, classic Taylor lyrics, and it gets stuck in my head ALL the time. Very self-aware and reflective.
  6. I Think He Knows– This song is the CUTEST. It’s so coy, sexy, and playful. Another song that totally could have been released as a single. I feel like once this song starts, it’s kind of a good intro to some sounds you hear throughout the rest of the album.
  7. Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince– I feel like from what I’ve read on Reddit and fan sites, this seems to be a big fan favorite. I’m not completely sold on it yet. It definitely has a political meaning behind it and the lyrics are very layered but sonically it’s just a little boring, especially with so many upbeat and fun songs on the album. Another one that will have to grow on me.
  8. Paper Rings– This reminds me of old school Avril and I LOVE IT. I’ve always been a big pop-rock girl and I could totally see Taylor delivering a whole album with this sound in the future. Most specifically, this song reminds me of “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)” by Weezer both sound and lyric-wise. Such a cute little bop.
  9. Cornelia Street– This is a such a mature, beautiful song and a testament to my strong belief that Taylor delivers her best output when she works alone as a writer. Someone said that this is the grown up version of “All Too Well” (from RED) and I can kinda see it! Except I interpret it to have a much happier ending.
  10. Death by a Thousand Cuts– I’m still figuring out how I feel about this song. I would definitely say that it’s one of the more experimental songs that Taylor has ever written sound-wise. I think I mainly feel like it’s out of place in an album that’s all about finding true love! To have a breakup song right in the middle just feels weird. I think this could have been better on Reputation.
  11. London Boy– Cheesy as it sounds, this has been my favorite song on the album since first listen. It is not groundbreaking or insightful at all but it is soooo fun to listen to. And it really feels like she’s coming out and saying, “This is who I officially love- take it or leave it.” It has great sing along quality and I look forward to shouting out the lyrics when she goes on tour.
  12. Soon You’ll Get Better– Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Maybe the most sincerely sad and melancholy song Taylor has ever written? I love the simplicity of this one. She relays so much fear and uncertainty in so few words. I have teared up a few times listening to it.
  13. False God– This song is REALLY sexy and has such a unique sound for Taylor. It’s definitely a “bedroom jam”. I’m just not really sure I understand what False God means in the context of the song?? I like the religion metaphor but I’m not certain that it works completely.
  14. You Need to Calm Down– Again, a cute song. I understand the controversy around it from the left but I do think Taylor made it with the utmost sincerity and the fact that she got so many big names around her to participate in the music video speaks volumes too. Not the most well-written song ever but a certified bop.
  15. Afterglow– This is not my favorite song off the album but it’s definitely good and relate-able as someone in a long term relationship. I think Taylor’s message here is really mature- “Sometimes I start the arguments we get into and I own that. It’s completely my fault. But I’m invested in you and I want to work through it.”
  16. ME!– The only song on the album I really do not like. I don’t understand why it exists. I don’t understand why it was recorded. I don’t understand why Taylor and her team were like, “Hey, not only should we create this song but let’s make it the lead single from the new album and annoy people to death with it!”. I just do not think this song did Taylor any favors in getting the GP to like her and I know it let down a huge portion of her fans. Not the best career move and it doesn’t even really fit in with the album in my opinion.
  17. It’s Nice to Have a Friend– Another really experimental sound for Taylor. It kinda serves as a cute little interlude. It’s 3 verses- the first is about having a friend as a kid, the second is about having a friend as a young adult, and the third is basically about eventually marrying that friend. However, I kind of interpret it as each verse representing 3 different friends throughout life (because let’s be real- how often do you marry someone you knew from childhood?). This song is peaceful and calming. I really like it.
  18. Daylight– More proof that Taylor writes best alone. I think this is probably my favorite album closer of hers. The lyric, “I once believed love would be burning red but it’s golden in daylight”- whoa. I love Taylor’s callbacks to her previous work. This is so cleansing, reflective, and well-produced. Just a truly lovely song.

I hope this peaked your interest and will make you listen to the new album (no I do not work for Taylor or get a kickback for this- I wish! I just love her and her music). Off to listen to the album for the 10th time…

Until next time,

Zoe

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73 Questions with Vogue

How about a bit of fun today? I’m obsessed with watching the 73 Questions series on Vogue. Since I am a celebrity in my own mind, I thought I’d do it for myself 🙂

1. What’s your favorite time of day? Morning! It’s when I feel most productive and creative.

2. What’s your biggest weakness? Thinking too much, overanalyzing everything. My mind rules me sometimes.

3. What’s your biggest strength? My tendency to see the bright side of almost everything

4. What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had? Not getting into grad school the first time I applied. Not only did I learn a lot, but that experience also opened me up to so many opportunities I would have missed had I immediately gone to grad school. In hindsight it was totally not a failure- it was just one door closed that led me to many more open ones.

5. What’s your idea of a perfect date? Wine and apps (I honestly prefer lots of appetizers to one big meal) and then maybe going to see a show of some sort?

6. What’s one vice you wish you could give up? Reddit

7. What’s a cause that is important to you? Not littering! Like, this should be a cause that’s important to everyone. And yet I see so much trash on the side of the road every single day. It makes me sick and so angry.

8. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? I can’t think of a specific one from a specific person, but I’ll tell you that there’s probably no compliment I enjoy hearing more than, “You have great taste in music.”

9. When are you the most inspired? When I’m listening to music

10. Sweet or savory? Savory all the way

11. What song can you listen to on repeat? Sit Next to Me by Foster the People- and I oftentimes DO listen to it on repeat!

12. What makes you smile the most? Mainly my cat

13. What’s one thing people don’t know about you? I lived in Kentucky for four years when I was a kid 

14. Heels or flats or sneakers? Heels of the block variety preferably

15. Vintage or new? A healthy mix of both

16. What are the three things you can’t live without? My family (including my husband and cat), my friends, and music

17. Window or aisle seat? Window

18. What’s your current TV character obsession? The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I want to be her!

19. Leather or lace? Leather.

20. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life? Going backpacking through Europe!

21. How would you define yourself in three words? Ambitious, loyal, perfectionist

22. What’s your current favorite piece of clothing that you own? I have a pair of bright blue ponte pants that I purchased from New York and Company like 7 years ago (I was still in college). They were on clearance for $8. They are so comfortable yet still professional and I get compliments on them every time I wear them. I will wear them until they fall apart!

23. What’s a must-have clothing item everyone should own? A pair of quality black leggings (boring but true)

24. What’s inspiring you in life right now? The Harry Potter series. I just finished rereading it for the 4th or 5th time and I’m always in awe at how amazing it is.

25. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? Ask for what you deserve.

26. What’s your pet peeve? When people litter!

27. Diamonds or pearls? Pearls

28. What’s something you notice about someone when you first meet them? Their face? Lol

29. What’s your biggest regret? Not taking college seriously enough. In my senior year, a professor told us that every time we skip a class we are flushing money down the toilet. I really wish I had heard that advice my freshman year!

30. What’s heavily played on your music playlist right now? Too Much- Carly Rae Jepsen

31. What’s your favorite board game? I mean, I really enjoy a good old fashioned game of Monopoly. I’ve also really enjoyed Settlers of Catan as of late.

32. What’s your guilty pleasure? An Everything bagel with cream cheese. I eat one every morning for breakfast. Not the healthiest but it always puts me in a great mood at the beginning of the day so I think it’s worth it.

33. What book did you most recently finish? “Snape: A Definitive Reading” by Lorrie Kim (highly recommend if you’re a Harry Potter fan)

34. What are you currently reading? All the Missing Girls- Megan Miranda (I’m a sucker for a psychological thriller)

35. How do you start your day? Wake up, try to exercise in some way, come back home and brew coffee and eat a bagel, then get to work!

36. What’s your favorite holiday? My birthday! The one day of the year all about me. I milk it for all it’s worth.

37. If you could raid one woman’s closet who would it be? Taylor Swift. She’s gone through so many style changes over the years and I’ve loved all of them.

38. If you could switch lives with one person for a day who would it be? Taylor Swift!

39. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do? An open mic night by myself. One of these days I will do it.

40. What’s the one thing you wish you knew at age 19? It’s okay to kiss lots of boys. You should do it often.

41. Besides your phone or wallet, what’s a couple of must-have purse items? Chapstick, sunglasses, and deodorant!

42. If you were not an Admissions Counselor, what would you be doing? Working in some other area of higher education!

43. What’s something you can’t do? Roll my “r”s. I just can’t do it.

44. Where was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? My European vacation this summer!

45. What’s one city you’ve always dreamed of traveling to? Before this year I would have said LA or Paris. Now I’m itching to go to Vegas!

46. What’s something you always travel with? Chapstick

47. Favorite food? Chips and queso

48. Favorite dessert? Bread pudding

49. Favorite snack? Hummus and chips

50. What’s a movie that made you cry? A Star is Born- I’ve never cried so hard at a movie

51. What’s your favorite movie of the last five years? La La Land (I like movies that have to do with music, can’t you tell?)

52. What’s the one talent you wish you had? Art. I’m good with music but do not have an eye for art.

53. What’s your favorite exercise? Favorite? Zumba. Exercise I do most often? Running.

54. What’s your favorite band? Coldplay

55. What’s your favorite fast food order? A 3 finger combo with an extra sauce and a lemonade from Raising Cane’s

56. What’s something you don’t want to be doing in 10 years? Paying off my student loans!

57. What’s the cutest thing on planet earth? My cat

58. What’s the best thing that happened this year? This was a year for the books if I’m being honest. But out of all the great things that happened, I would say traveling to Europe for 6 weeks was the best.

59. What’s your favorite cocktail? Tom Collins

60. Which movie makes you laugh the hardest? Weekend at Bernie’s

61. What do you usually eat for dinner? Lots of stuff! But we do make fish tacos quite often so I’ll go with that.

62. What do you usually eat for lunch? Chicken, veggies, quinoa. Boring but healthy (a great way to offset that morning bagel)

63. What do you usually eat for breakfast? Everything bagel with cream cheese

64. What’s your favorite thing in the world? In-depth, meaningful conversations with friends accompanied by great wine

65. What’s your favorite color? Mint green

66. What color clothing do you wear most? Maroon

67. What are three words to describe living in the San Antonio? Hot, inexpensive, chill

68. Do you like surprises? Yes! But only if I don’t know about them beforehand. It has to be genuine surprise. If you tell me you have a surprise for me but don’t tell me what it is, prepare to be bothered constantly until you reveal it.

69. What’s one thing you had to learn the hard way? When someone tells you something and asks you not to tell anyone else…don’t tell anyone else.

70. What’s something you’re tired of? The heat! Goodness gracious I am ready for fall.

71. Who do you turn to when you’re sad? Greg

72. What’s a trend you would like to see disappear forever? Cold shoulder tops. Sorry but I think they look horrible on everybody.

73. What did you want to do with your life at age 12? Be in a band. Basically the same thing I want to do now 🙂

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Travels, Part 1: Tips and Advice

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Yes, I know I have neglected this poor little blog for far too long. Moving forward I’m going to at least attempt to post more often for the one or two people who actually read it.

I’m making this a 2 part series because I learned A LOT during my travels in Europe and I don’t think I could fit it all in one post. Also, I’ve decided to split everything up into two different categories. In this post, I’m going to talk about some practical things I’ve learned during my travels that would be good for anyone to know. In my next post, I’m going to talk mostly about lessons that I’ve learned about myself and insights that I’ve gleaned about how I personally will travel going forward.

To preface this I want to acknowledge a couple of things- first of all, I am EXTREMELY privileged to have been able to take a trip like this. I understand that many people don’t get this sort of opportunity in their lifetime and I don’t take that for granted. I hope that none of what I say comes off as bragging or me acting like I’m better or more “enlightened” than others because I did this, as I certainly do not feel that way.

Also, I am not pretending to be an expert on Europe or traveling or anything like that. I was only there for 5.5 weeks! This is a HUGE deal to me- 5.5 weeks is a long time to travel anywhere! But I also understand it’s not near enough time to familiarize myself with a place or an experience. So just remember what I am sharing is based off my limited experience- if it’s useful to you, great! If not, that’s okay too!

So without further adieu…here are some of the most important things I learned during my time in Europe:

  1. Be flexible. Every travel blog/book/website is going to tell you this, and it is so, so true. If you’re planning on taking a long trip, be prepared for your plans to change. A lot. From the moment you start planning up until when you’re right in the middle of things. The trip that I took this summer looks absolutely NOTHING like the trip I thought it would be when I started planning it nine months ago. Very few of the original countries that I had initially planned to go to stayed on my actual itinerary when it was all said and done. Even after I arrived in Europe, I had to cut Prague out of my plans due to a transportation strike in Amsterdam that set us back a couple days. Basically, I would recommend having a couple of non-negotiable places that you want to travel to and a lot of other places in mind in case your travel plans need to change for your negotiable places. Of course, the better you budget for your trip, the more flexible you can afford to be (see point 3).
  2. Take time to rest. My trip lasted almost 6 weeks from the time I flew to New York (May 20) til the time I came back to Austin (June 29). I was already tired coming into this trip because I had just finished up my Master’s degree, and I went into it thinking I wouldn’t relax very much. That’s just not very realistic! I had to treat it like real life. In my normal routine, I try to have at least one day a week for leisure/relaxation (typically a Saturday or Sunday). I realized about 2 weeks into my trip that my need for relaxation couldn’t be ignored here. It’s tempting to want to cram in as many activities and sights as possible, but it’s so important to take time to rest. I slept much, much later while in Europe than I normally do at home and I ended up having a couple days where I didn’t do much of anything at all besides lounge around and relax. Trust me- you need this time and it is OKAY if you don’t see absolutely everything (see point 1- be flexible!).
  3. Save more than you think you need to. We came up with a number at the very beginning of the planning process and made goals to reach that number before the trip began (if you have specific questions about that number or any numbers that went into this trip, feel free to message me privately!). It was a good number- we didn’t go over it and actually had a very small amount left over when it was all said and done. Having said that, I wish we had saved up just a little more. There were a couple of things I wanted to do, especially towards the end of the trip, that would have put a large dent in our budget. I HATE worrying about money when I go on a vacation, whether it’s a weekend trip or something like this trip to Europe, so saving a little more probably would have helped me have more peace of mind. I could honestly write an entire blog post just about the money aspect of this trip alone, but this is the main budget-related takeaway that I’ll share for now.
  4. Take care of yourself!! This kind of ties back to point 2. Has anyone reading this ever played the Sims? You know how your Sim has different levels- energy, fun, hunger, thirst, sleep, bladder, cleanliness etc? And you know how when all of those levels are low, your Sim is NOT a happy person? Well on the first day of my trip when I got into my hostel after a long flight from New York to Paris, I felt like a Sim with all of their levels depleted. And I was MISERABLE. I considered going right back to the airport and hopping on a plane home because I was in such a bad mental and emotional place. I had a good cry, ate a large dinner, took a shower, and went to sleep for approximately 12 hours and woke up a new woman. This is good advice for all of the time but especially when you’re traveling…when you’re in a bad mood, ask yourself- have I eaten food and drank water recently? Do I feel like I need a shower? Do I need to go to the bathroom? When was the last time I got a good night’s rest? It is AMAZING how crucial these things are to our well-being and sometimes travel makes us neglect them!
  5. Have fun and do what YOU want to do. There’s a lot of pressure to do certain things when you travel. Hitting up all the museums comes to mind. I did this a lot at the beginning of my trip (and luckily my first stop, Paris, has some REALLY lovely museums). But about halfway through the trip I realized I was just going to museums and other attractions to say I did it, and I wasn’t enjoying half of them. Not only is this a waste of money, but it’s also a waste of time! I even texted Greg before he arrived (he spent the last two weeks with me) and told him that I hoped he didn’t want to go to any museums while he was there because I was over them! I thought about the parts of traveling I enjoy the most. To be honest, I LOVE to eat and drink my way through cities. So I started doing more of that instead! I also enjoy just walking around cities and taking in the sights and discovering new areas. So I incorporated more of that into my days, as well. Don’t feel guilty if what you want to do isn’t what everyone says you should do. It’s your trip- do what you want!

 

While I could literally give you so many specific tips and pieces of advice related to every single day I was in Europe (and yes- I can still tell you what I did every single day I was there!!), I feel like these are the biggest takeaways I got from my trip. Soon, I will write another post related more to my own personal journey.

Until then,

Zoe

Part 1: Forever in Paris

Oddly enough, when I think of Paris I oftentimes think of the movie Anastasia (one of the best movies ever, btw). Remember the song “Paris holds the key to your heart” (pronounced Pear-EE)? Truly iconic.

Anyway, Paris was stop 1 on my European adventure and I am excited to tell you all about it today! Paris has always been at the top of my travel bucket list (and I know I am not unique in that). I’ve had visions in my head of what Paris would be like, and it met my expectations and also surprised me simultaneously. I spent about 5 full days there and it absolutely did not seem like enough time, so it’s safe to say that I will be returning one day!

You can find lots of travel blogs telling you lots of things about Paris. I’m not going to bore you with the obvious stuff. Here are my nuanced takeaways from the city:

  1. The Musee D’Orsay is better than the Louvre: In my opinion, anyway. The Musee D’Orsay showcases a lot of Impressionism-era works while the Louvre has much more ancient works. I personally love Impressionism and really savored the time I got to spend at the Musee D’Orsay (which is housed in an old train station- very cool!). I still think everyone should go to the Louvre- it’s iconic. But don’t get overwhelmed by it and feel like you have to spend a whole day there if you’re not into that kind of art. I spent a couple hours there and felt satisfied. I personally loved spending time on the top floor of the Louvre because it was quiet! But all in all, I preferred the Musee D’Orsay and would absolutely return. Pro tip: Get a Paris Pass. I spent about 50 euros for a pass that would take me to a ton of museums over the course of 2 days and it was absolutely worth it.
  2. Paris is HUGE. Like, no kidding- it is a huge city! I remember going to Griffith Observatory in LA earlier this year and marveling at how huge the city was. I definitely think Paris is on that same scale. I would recommend going to the top of the Arch de Triomph, as well as going to the Sacre Couer, just so you can get a feel for how enormous this city is.
  3. GO. TO. VERSAILLES. Seriously- if there is one thing you must make time for during your stay in Paris, it’s Versailles. It’s about an hour outside of the city but you can get there by train. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been in my entire life! However, I would recommend that you spend way more time in the gardens than you do in the palace. The palace is alright (the Hall of Mirrors is definitely amazing) but the gardens are simply spectacular. Truly beautiful. And you could spend days there just walking around, biking, taking a paddle boat around the pond, or simply sitting and sipping wine while people watching. So far, my day in Versailles has been my favorite day in Europe. Versailles is something everyone should experience in their lifetime.
  4. The Latin Quarter is a great neighborhood. I covered a lot of ground during my time in Paris, but this was my favorite area. It’s near the Sarbonne (a prestigious university in Paris), so it felt younger and more hip. There were restaurants, shops, and bars everywhere! The Shakespeare Book Company is near this area (such a cute little bookstore) and it was just a lot of fun. It’s also not far from Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, Musee D’Orsay, and Le Jardin du Luxembourg so there are plenty of attractions around. When I go back to Paris, I would like to stay in/near this area so that I could explore it more.
  5. Go see the Eiffel Tower! Of course everyone is going to tell you to do this. But some of you are not into tourist attractions. And I get that- there are some great ones but there are also some really lame ones. Trust me when I say that the Eiffel Tower is one of the great ones. It is marvelous- so much bigger than I expected it to me. And nightly, there is a light show! I didn’t go up into the Eiffel Tower this time which is one of my biggest regrets. Make time for this amazing sight during your trip to Paris.
  6. Stop and smell the figurative roses. Seriously. I think I’m going to write a much longer post about my personal growth over this trip after it’s all said and done, but something I learned to do in Paris was just take time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and experiences. I sat at tables in restaurants longer than 30 minutes, enjoying my food and wine and not worrying about where I had to go next. I noticed the little things rather than the big attractions. I tried to embrace all the little beauties in the city rather than rushing from one place to the next, trying to cram everything into a single day. I truly savored my time in Paris and I can’t wait to go back one day!

I’m sure there are so many things that I’m forgetting, but if you have any questions about this marvelous city of lights seriously, just ask. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pictures from the few days I spent there:

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View of Paris from one of the bridges on the Seine.

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The cutest macarons at the cutest bakery!

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One of my favorite works from the Musee D’Orsay- City Dance and Country Dance by Renoir

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Standing in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

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Overlooking the Palace of Versailles

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A family of swans at Versailles! We had so much fun watching them.

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Overlooking the gardens. Yes- they are huge!

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At Sacre Couer, a beautiful church with one of the best views of Paris.

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Arch de Triomph at night

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Me in front of the Eiffel Tower

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My favorite Paris breakfast- orange juice, cafe au lait, and a chocolate croissant!

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Hanging out at the Shakespeare Book Store

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Pretty view of the Notre Dame (you can’t get much closer than this right now due to the damage that was done by the fire earlier this year)

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A cute little apartment building

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View from inside the Louvre

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Yeah- I was THAT American that took a picture of the Mona Lisa

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This is the real gem of the Louvre- Winged Victor of Samothrace

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Beautiful stained glass at Saint Chapelle

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Me hanging out with Monet and his famous Water Lilies collection at Musee de L’Orangerie

Next up: Amsterdam!

 

-Zoe

30 Before 30

As my time in grad school draws very close to the end (16 days!) I’ve stopped reflecting so much and started looking forward. Soon, I will have a master’s degree, will be traveling to Europe for 6 weeks (a dream of mine since college), and will start a new job upon my return! The past 2 years have been laid out for me pretty nicely but now that I’m done with school forever (probably), the rest of my life seems to be about as open as a blank journal.

Thinking about this also made me realize that in 2 and a half years, I will be turning 30. I have super mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I feel like my 20s have flown by so quickly and I know that the next 2.5 years will not be immune from that! It literally feels like my 21st birthday was just yesterday. It makes me sad that these years will be coming to an end more quickly than I realize. However, I’ve also talked to lots of people who have said their 30s were their absolute best years! Now, I would hope that my best years are ALWAYS ahead of me even after my 30s, but I am intrigued by this upcoming decade. I will hopefully be more established in my job and have more money to travel more, which is the goal!

I’m not going to make the mistake of sitting here anticipating my 30s while the rest of my 20s fly by, though. I have the tendency to “wait around for life to happen” instead of just enjoying the moment I’m in now and I’m really trying to break that. So today I decided to do something fun and make a list of the 30 things I want to accomplish before I turn 30. Will I actually get around to doing all of them? Who knows! I sure hope so! It will be fun to try 🙂 So without further adieu….

30 BEFORE 30:

  1. Take a European vacation. I feel like this is cheating a little since I already have very set plans to do this 😉 But it is a HUGE goal of mine, so I had to put it on here! I am also hoping that this isn’t the only time I travel to Europe between now and my 30th birthday!
  2. Run a full marathon. I’ve done a half marathon before and am hoping to do another not long after I graduate, but I would love to try and train for a full one soon.
  3. Start/join a band. This is a dream I’ve had since I was in middle school! I really want to start performing and I think being in some sort of band is the best way to do this. Whether we’re getting creative and writing all of our own stuff or simply playing 80s covers in a bar every Saturday night, I truly don’t care. I just want to perform again!
  4. Go to Vegas. I’ve never been to Vegas and think it would be super fun to go for a weekend! Greg and I are talking about going next year for our 5-year wedding anniversary.
  5. Read 200 books. I am a fast and consistent reader (I read over 50 books for leisure last year while juggling grad school!) so I think I can meet this goal. I LOVE to read!
  6. Pay off my student loans. This is not a sexy goal at all, but I can only imagine how great it would feel to have these off my plate. Greg and I have a pretty aggressive plan to achieve this and I think it can be done before I turn 30!
  7. Explore as much of San Antonio as I can. Greg and I are about to sign a lease on an apartment in San Antonio and for the next few years at least, we plan to live in the city. I want to take advantage of this as much as I can and go to as many bars/restaurants/coffee shops/attractions as possible! I love city living and there is so much to do in San Antonio. I want to really make it feel like home while we’re there!
  8. Decorate my home office. Our new apartment has a completely separate office space for me, which I am so excited about as I will be working from home. I plan to really make this *my* space and make it aesthetically pleasing. In addition to my desk, I’m hoping I can keep my piano in there as well as create a reading nook. I have so many ideas for this room and I’m so excited!
  9. Become more politically active. I’ll be honest, until recently I’ve really tried not to get involved in politics. However, our most recent presidential election + a lot of the discussions I’ve had in grad school have made me more “woke” in a sense about how important getting politically involved really is. You won’t find me running for office anytime soon, but I am hoping to volunteer for Beto O’Rourke’s campaign after I graduate because he is a candidate I’m passionate about. I’m really starting to embrace the phrase, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything.”
  10. Go to a Rockets game and an Astros game. I love these two teams and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen either of them play in person (it’s literally been over a decade since I’ve been to an Astros game!). I really want to attend at least one home game for both of them in the next couple years.
  11. Take a cooking class. This is always something I’ve wanted to do and I’ve just never made the time. Greg and I are both really interested in doing this!
  12. Take a paint + wine class. Another one of those things I’ve always wanted to do and just have never gotten around to.
  13. Take a spontaneous trip. I am SUCH a planner! Every trip I ever take is planned down to the day (and sometimes the hour because I’m just THAT extra). It would be getting out of my comfort zone, but I think it would be fun to just take a really spontaneous trip at some point.
  14. Finish a journal. I am the worst about buying a notebook/journal, writing in the first few pages, and then going out and buying another one. One of these days I’m going to get the whole way through one before I start on the next one!
  15. Grow my own herbs. My younger self would be mortified that I want to do this because I’ve always been someone who absolutely HATES gardening. I definitely don’t want to start a full garden but in our new place, I would like to have a little mini herb garden on our balcony because I love fresh herbs!
  16. Present at a professional conference. Now that I’ve attended a couple of conferences, I think it’s time that I prepare to give a presentation! I am hoping that in my second year of my new job I will be ready!
  17. Go to a comedy show. This is surprisingly something I’ve never done. I love to laugh so I think it would be fun!
  18. Go on a cruise with my college friends. I’ve talked to some of my college friends about doing this and we think it would be so fun! We could find the cheapest Carnival cruise out of Galveston and just go!
  19. Get involved in my community. Once we are settled in San Antonio, I would really like to get involved in an organization where I can volunteer and give back my time. Not sure which route I will take to do this, but I’m sure there is plenty to do!
  20. Have dinner parties. I absolutely love having people over and really want to host a few dinner parties once we are all settled in our new place!
  21. Finish the TV show Supernatural. This seems silly in the grand scheme of things, but I absolutely love the first five seasons of this show and have just never found the time to watch beyond that. I’m going to do it, dammit! Which leads me to my next one…
  22. Meet Jensen Ackles. He’s the star of Supernatural and I have had a mad crush on him since I was about 15. He co-owns a brewery that is literally an hour from me! I have no excuse not to run into him eventually.
  23. See a Broadway show. This is another thing that I’m quite certain I will do in just a few weeks (my grandma and I are going to see Jersey Boys in New York City) but it’s been forever since I’ve done it and I feel like it’s appropriate for it to happen again before I turn 30!
  24. Dye my hair. I literally dye my hair all the time but for the past several years I’ve kept it at a nice, safe shade of brown. I want to do something a little more adventurous with it!
  25. Go skinny dipping. Yep- I’ve never done this before (and I always take advantage of that whenever I play Never Have I Ever with friends- lol!). Gotta make it happen before I turn 30.
  26. Buy my parents an expensive dinner. I’ve bought dinner for my parents before but never a super expensive one. I would love to treat them sometime- it’s the least I can do to say thank you for everything they’ve done for me!
  27. Stay up all night. This seems so lame, but let’s be real- I’ve GOTTEN lame in my “old” age 😉 It’s rare that you’ll ever find me staying up past 10, especially during the week! It would be fun to have one more rager just like I did in my wild days.
  28. Go camping. You know how everyone tells you to face your fears? Well camping is definitely a fear of mine. Sleeping outside where bugs and other scary creatures can get to you? Yikes. But I’ve also heard there’s nothing like being out in nature under the stars all night so I suppose I can give this a try just once.
  29. Go on a long road trip. My dream would be to take a road trip where I am visiting every single continental US state, but realistically that would take forever! I would like to take some sort of cross country road trip though, one of those where you randomly stop at any old motel that suits you.
  30. Throw myself a 30th birthday party. I am always down for a celebration. Tom and Donna’s “Treat yo’self” motto on Parks and Rec speaks to me on a spiritual level. I get more excited for other people’s birthdays/life milestones than they do. So it makes complete and total sense that I would throw myself a huge bash for my 30th birthday. Preferably Harry Potter themed 😉

So there you have it! If you made it this far I applaud you. If you have a bucket list of sorts, I would love to see yours, too!

Until next time,

Zoe

Life Updates!

Hello there! I can’t believe the month of March is over and we are well on our way through April. This year is FLYING BY!! I officially have less than 40 days until I graduate, which is just insane (and amazing) to me. I only have a few more major assignments to turn in before I’m completely done with graduate school. I could say I have mixed emotions about it…but that would be a lie. I am 100% ready to be done and starting the rest of my life!

Right after I graduate I will be heading off to Europe for 6 weeks! I’ve made a lot of progress on this since the last time I wrote about it here in the blog. I’ve pretty much booked all of my accommodation except for a few AirBnBs I will be staying in with my mom. I’ve also purchased a Eurail pass to help me get around. I know a lot of people recommending playing it by ear with accommodation/travel plans because you may get to one country and decide you want to stay longer or shorter than you had planned. Also, you may meet people and decide to tag along on their travels! I think all of this advice is really good…however it makes me very anxious to think about being that spontaneous, especially on my first trip there that I’m planning pretty much by myself! Also, my mom will be joining me for some time and Greg will be there with me for 2 weeks at the end, so I want to be able to make sure my plans align with theirs. One day when (not if-when!) I go back for an extended trip I might be able to “go with the flow” more, but seeing as I have no idea what to expect once I’m there, I really want to be as prepared as possible.

So now that I have an itinerary pretty much finalized, here are all the places I’m officially going:

New York, New York (3 days at the beginning)

Paris, France (5 days)

Amsterdam, Netherlands (3 days)

Prague, Czech Republic (3 days)

Vienna, Austria (5 days)

Salzburg, Austria (3 days0

Munich, Germany (7 days)

Bern, Switzerland (3 days)

Nice, France (3 days)

Pisa, Italy (2 days)

Venice, Italy (2 days)

London, UK (1 day, quick stop on the way home)

If this was the ~perfect~ trip I’d probably be spending a little more time in Paris and tacking on all of the United Kingdom…but sometimes things just don’t logistically work out that way. I’m still so, so happy with the way things are and I *know* this will not be my last trip over there- this is only the beginning!

I also have another exciting life update….I have a job lined up!!! The job search process hasn’t necessarily been SUPER stressful for me but it is something I’ve been anxious about because I’m location bound and also I can’t start working til July 1 (after I get back from my trip). A lot of places I’ve been applying to/interviewing with really want someone who can start in April or May, but I am not sacrificing my trip for ANYTHING. So I’ve been worried that I’ll have to make compromises when it comes to start date (like…going a couple months without even working after I get back from Europe). Timing has been weird. And to be completely honest, there haven’t been a ton of open jobs in San Antonio that I’ve been super enthusiastic about. I’ve interviewed for a couple and I’ve been just so “meh” towards them. After busting my ass for 2 years in grad school and not feeling super fulfilled in a lot of areas of my life, I am ready to find something that is going to bring me joy and balance every day!

So…enter my previous (and current?) employer, Berry College. I worked full time for them as an Admissions Counselor from summer 2015-summer 2017 and I freaking LOVED my job. Admissions is a passion for me and I was damn good at what I did. However, I was really homesick for Texas and when I came here to start grad school, I grudgingly had to say goodbye to my job. Luckily, they kept me on as a part time Admissions Counselor while I was in grad school (mostly I was just reading applications and contacting students). Well, for the past couple months I’ve been chatting with them about possibly working for Berry full-time as a regional rep out of Texas. There’s been lots of back and forth regarding whether or not it could be a possibility…but last week it finally came to fruition and I was offered full-time job! I’ll be working from home mostly but also I’ll get to travel all around Texas and Louisiana to recruit students. I could not be happier. Getting to work from home will be such a blessing and a way for me to add some flexibility to my life that I’ve wanted for awhile. It doesn’t hurt that this is a school I love dearly, one whose mission I am SO passionate about! My dream of bringing Berry to Texas is finally coming true and I could not be more excited for this opportunity!

Those are the most exciting things going on for me right now! I just have to get through the next 5.5 weeks and then I’m home free 🙂

Until next time,

Zoe

Another Day of Sun in Los Angeles!

Greetings, loved ones! Let’s take a journey….

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In all seriousness I feel kinda guilty that I literally never post here but up until recently I have not had much to post about! I was in LA last weekend, so I feel like that trip is worthy to be shared here on my corner of the internet.

When I was a teenager, I despised California. I have no idea why. I had never been there (literally up until this past weekend I had never been there). I think it had something to do with the fact that I was and still am SUCH a Texas girl and I have a crazy amount of pride in my state (even if I have to dissociate myself from its politics sometimes). And in my silly little 15-year-old brain, California was basically the anti-Texas. It should be noted that there are actually a lot of Texans who feel this way even today (and many of them are not silly little 15-year-old girls, but full grown adult men and women). I am happy to say that over the years my disdain for California slowly faded away and over the past few years especially, I’ve been dying to go. I’m sure La La Land (one of my favorite movies of all time) is to thank for a lot of that, but I also genuinely was interested in visiting.

When I found out that NASPA, one of the two largest student affairs associations in the country, was hosting its annual conference in LA this year, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to go. On Saturday, me and a few other SAHE peeps hopped on a plate and jetted off to LAX for a whirwind, 3 day adventure.

I have to say, Los Angeles is probably the second most unique city I’ve ever visited, right behind Venice, Italy. Everyone calls New York City a “Concrete Jungle” but I really think that phrase should belong to LA. It is simultaneously filled with concrete, buildings, houses, and civilization, yet at the same time is so lush, green, and earthy. The architecture on the buildings and highways is stunning. The fact that there are beaches and mountains in the same city is amazing. Overall it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve heard so many people tell me about LA, and it was still something I had to see to believe.

While most of my time there was spent in the conference (which was both overwhelming and underwhelming), we spent almost all of Sunday hitting up the big spots- the Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Boulevard, and Beverly Hills. It was all so fun and I’m glad I got to go to those places! Next time I go to LA, I really hope I can stay longer and explore more. Also, side note: if you ever go to LA, don’t stay in the downtown area, which is where we stayed. It wasn’t a bad experience at all, but it felt like it could have been downtown Chicago, New York, Houston, or any other big city. As soon as we left downtown, it was like it was a whole different city. I don’t think staying downtown allowed us to have the full LA experience.

Since the first time I visited NYC when I was in high school, it’s been my dream city. Now I’ve visited LA, which is its foil in a sense. So which one do I prefer now? That’s really hard to judge, as they’re both so different. I could honestly see myself living in both places (I am SUCH a city girl). I’m returning to New York for the first time in 7 years this summer for a couple days, so I’m interested to see how I feel about it after having not been there for so long. I think at that point I can make a fair comparison between it and LA.

To close, here are some more pictures from my trip:

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The oh-so-famous Hollywood sign!

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The Griffith Observatory, which helped me fulfill all of my La La Land related dreams

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Downtown LA, which is where we stayed

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Us overlooking downtown!

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The Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard

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Would this trip have counted if I didn’t take a picture with something Harry Potter related?

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Also had to snap Harrison Ford’s handprints and footprints

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#GreaseGirlForever

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Yep…we were there!

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The Hudson, a delicious restaurant we ate at in West Hollywood

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Anyone feeling “Pretty Woman” vibes?

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Now I’m getting serious Weezer vibes…

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Leaving Los Angeles- the only time I’ve ever seen the Pacific Ocean with my own eyes!

Until next time,

Zoe