Nerdy Post: Middle Earth

So I finally did the thing where I subscribed to a ~~monthly subscription box~~ HUZZAH!  Excelsior!  YAh yah yah!  Now, I knew I always wanted a book-ish themed one filled with book-ish themed goodies (or at least until the film/tv boxes catch up on the awesomeness levels, ja feel me?) – but I also knew I didn’t want to fork over $30+ a month for one.   Also, ja feel me?

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OBVI the money would contribute to the new book each respective sub-box featured per month.  So I get it, I do.  Money = new book.  But I buy my own books, ya know?  I choose them carefully, I make them my own.  I’m not really into the blind date/surprise book scenarios (I probably should be – but I’m not ready to be burned quite so easily).  So while I do appreciate the book inclusion, I knew that I mostly wanted cool trinkets, cute buttons, and awesome quoted things to hang on my wall or use in decoration.

SO WHAM, in comes Nerdy Post!  I found this sub-box through the creator/author’s regular bookstagram handle @dropandgivemenerdy (Alexis Lampley).  And she rocks.

Basically, Alexis is an amazing hand-letterer/artist, and she makes insanely cool designs, with the BEST quotes (squeals) – and each month is a new fandom!!!  LIke, hold on, gonna cry:

MIDDLE EARTH BOX FTW

And at first, I thought “aw naw man, I still can’t be buying this” I got no $$$ BUT GREAT NEWS!!  No book means no intensely-expensive box!!  It’s only $13 a month (+ shipping)!

I obviously still thought it over, but when I saw all the stuff she was rolling out monthly I knew I had to subscribe (you can also skip a month if you’re not in the monthly chosen fandom).  She knocked out the Middle Earth box (mi primer cuadro), and I just had to snap pics of them to show here.  Def going to try to make this a monthly thing because #pretty #things #iCry.

Let us begin, as I show you up close and personal what le fun box contained (descriptions below each pic):

img_6126So each Nerdy Post has a Nerdy Post-Card (HAH amazing marketing puns, A++) you can color in and send out to peeps (or selfishly keep for yourself, let’s be real homies).  And naturally, this one was catered to the Middle Earth theme, with the devious SMAUG gracing it!  YAS!  What a daunting post card, I love it.  “No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.”  Can’t bring myself to color this, as there is a 98.5% chance I’ll screw it up – I always choose to live in fear rather than disappointment heh heh.  BAD MOTTO, send help.

img_6127Look at this bookmark.  Look at it.  THAT IS AN ENT, MY FRIENDS.  AND HE ALSO LOOKS LIKE LIAM NEESON IN “WHEN A MONSTER CALLS” (kind of and also not really but it’s okay) AND now i’m crying.  And the quote?  Alexis says she could just hear Treebeard saying it.  But alas, it’s actually a quote from Tom Bombadil (so still LOTR so it’s a thing).

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Other side of the bookmark is the quote most people know from LOTR without realizing its full prose.  While most gravitate towards the wanderlust-y “Not all those who wander are lost,” I usually find myself saying “All that is gold does not glitter” – to remind myself that you don’t have to sparkle and draw attention to have value.  Or maybe it’s because it reminds me of All Star.  But I do always get a chill when I remember “Deep roots are not touched by the frost.”  An amazing reminder to myself when I feel like my morals or beliefs could be ridiculed – and why I shouldn’t care.

img_6133Fat bookmark/tiny print – LOVE LOVE LOVE.   A lovely reminder to always value cheer and song daily.  Also, food>gold any day.  Also, also, the word “merrier” just reminds me of my Merry, and like SOBS forever.  I love you Dominic Monaghan.

img_6134Other side of fat bookmark/tiny print – “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”  Said by both Sam and Bilbo (which makes it doubly important).  Alexis explained that the sinister Eye of Sauron background was due to the quote’s meaning that light and hope and goodness always exists, even among the bad.  Even in the face of pure evil.  So in a way, the “words become the light of the bookmark” shining in front of the bad; and despite it.

Speaking of the Eye of Sauron, this little sticker is super cool, with a creepy quote from the Silmarillion.   Nioceee.  Also, excuse the breakage in imagery – forgot to snap this when the sun was out lol.  I’m worthless, I’m cancelled.

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img_6132LOOK at this washi tape – IT’S LIKE THE RING!!!  IT HAS ELVISH ALL AROUND IT AND IT’S GOLD.  I’m SCREAMING IN CAPS HELP.  k look at it one more time!!!  k I’m done (i’m never done).

img_6128Let’s take a hobbit-sized minute and realize that this was a specially minted coin, specifically for LOTR and I’m on the floor.  And this one is for Aragorn?  AND ALSO ARWEN???  I’m fine.

img_6130Other side.  Once more, with feeling.

img_6139-1This little bonus bookmark is a promo for NerdWicks, and it is just so cute!!  Love, love, this quote.  SO ADVENTUROUS.

img_6143-1Big poster time!  “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  Let the words sink in y’all, like they did when you were a kid.  And remember that with how crazy the world is today – we’ve been given the task to make it better.  No use moping around wishing – we gotta act.  LES GO.

img_6136And finally, MY FAVE mini print – little baby Frodo and the wonderful quote!!  LOVE IT!!!  The back of the miniprint also has Alexis’ explanations for most of the items (I didn’t just randomly know some of the fun-facts I shared lawlz).

DIS BOX WAS THE BEST INTRO TO NERDY POST.  I’m floored.  My only objection is I need ANOTHER Middle Earth box so it can include my favorite LOTR quote by Sam – the one that ends with “…It’s worth fighting for.” YOU KNOW.  you KNOW the one.

But gosh, Middle Earth and LOTR and the Hobbit just…they know how to bring out the MOST adventure in you.  The MOST.

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the mostest.

But otherwise, 10/10 would recommend for all you Nerdy folk out there.  Thank you, thank you, Alexis!

xx,

Sarahj

(Go back and see if you can count how many times I said a variation of “month.”  There is NO end).

 

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Vicious: Book Review

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – 4/5 stars

I said I’d do a review on my beloved Vicious, and welp HERE I AM, fulfilling my promise to myself that no one else cares about but THAT’S OKAY!!!

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll enjoy my ramblings about this novel.  I couldn’t shut up about it in real life, so let’s take it to the digital screen.  Let’s tell the tale of Sarah y Vicious.

I was at the Strand Bookstore in NYC, which, if you’ve never been – get a taxi, a car, a jetpack, a plane ticket, a flying ostrich, and GO.  It’s honestly a wondrous sight to behold – it’s miles of books, right at the heart of East Village (aka bae Village):

Brilliant, no?  Brilliant, yes.  Anyways, I perused the wonderful Sci-Fi & Fantasy section (as seen above with le Dragon) and I stumbled upon this slimmish novel, with a beautiful cover.  The reds and blacks on it encompassed a mysteriously cloaked figure with white-blonde hair.  My pal Taylor (who I recommended this book to and who totes LOVED it) said the figure reminded her of Malfoy.  Which is legit, and probably another reason this book called to me.  Sign me up for anything Half-Blood Prince era Malfoy-esque – I’m GAME.

But okay, anyways, the book was staring at me, and I kept staring back.  It was enigmatic and magnetic.

And its name was VICIOUS.

Like?  Yes.

I picked it up, bought it, and didn’t look back.

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Okay, so I did read the back cover first – so I wouldn’t credit this completely as an impulse-don’t-care-buy.  The back gives the small summary that I’ll paraphrase below:

Basically, Victor Vale and Eliot “Eli” Cardale are 22-year old (the age I was when I read this WAHOO) seniors in college, ready to start their theses.  What’s Eli’s thesis about?  Extraordinaries.  EOs.  The people who have super-human capabilities that we mere mortals are yet to be able to comprehend.

Victor’s ready to jump onto Eliot’s thesis-game (#same), pretty much abandoning his own.  But Victor’s set to take it to a whole other level that Eliot hasn’t thought of – trying to become actual EOs.

Their process of achieving said extraordinary levels is dark, dangerous, and pretty morbid.  With lots of research and experimentation, and LOTS of moral ambiguity (!!!), we follow along as the two best friends try to achieve what everyone else thinks is simply a myth.

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But all the while, the book flips from their senior year time period, and to a present day setting – 10 years later.  In this present POV, Victor has just escaped prison and Eliot is now his worst enemy – somewhere loose in the world.  With Victor desperately trying to find him.

Who’s the villain and who’s the hero?  And is there even a hero in this story?

THESE QUESTIONS HAUNTED ME and made the book 100% amazing for me.  If there’s one thing to know about moi, I am allll about Morally Ambiguous characters (GIVE DEM TO MEH).  And Schwab DELIVERS them in this book (YASS).

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I definitely favor Victor over Eliot, but in the past setting (their 22-year old versions) I still had a liking for them both (Eli was attractive and it can’t be ignored).  Each has a fight and a cause, and learning about it through their switching-year narratives made it all the more mysterious and intriguing.

Plus, plenty of new characters and powers are sprinkled throughout the novel as it continues and goes on, and each one is fleshed out and fairly interesting.

The only reason I won’t give this book a 5/5 is that the story gets SO good, but by the climax, the end pitfall is a just a little bit of a letdown.  It is almost a cliffhanger of sorts, and well – there isn’t any sign of a new, second book coming anytime soon.  And I NEED SOMETHING ELSE (BETTER) TO HAPPEN.

But still, 4/5 stars for sure, because I couldn’t put this book down until I reached the gruesome and bloody end.

#TeamVictorVale

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Xx,

Sarahj

All The (Upcoming) Book Reviews

I recently posted a photo onto Instagram of several books I’d purchased over the course of a few weeks.  Which, consequently, means I haven’t read ANY of them – because I’m me.  I’ve been watching WAY too many television series, and not picking up enough of my TBR books.  Not putting down my beloved T.V. – just trying to balance the love.

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I’m always, always afraid of trying to appear like a “reader” (gotta keep up that English Major presence after all), and then find myself casually NOT reading.  Ever.  So in essence, be, not a reader.  And if I feel like I’m not a reader, then that means I’m a FRAUD.  Which makes me cringe and cry.

I don’t want to ever force reading (much like I don’t like forcing my writing), but I do want to take the steps it requires to get back into reading.

Does this make sense?  Oh well.  Either way, here are the books I’m planning on diving into soon, and then I think – to motivate me – I’ll write some reviews about them up here after I finish them.  HUZZAH!


^Said books.  Below: pre-thoughts on books, and my estimated ratings.  Because I am always a presumer.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: I first saw the ads for the SyFy show of this series a little while back, and obviously anything fantasy/featuring groups of youngish people (read: GUYS & GALS & CAMARADERIE) doing cool adventure-y stuff, has me hooked.

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I’m into it.

Basically a bunch of people go to a “Magic” college (Hogwarts 2.0?), which takes up half the book I believe, and then the rest of the story takes place after they graduate.  A little bit near the age range I’m in right now, except sans Magic.  Booooo.
Pretty sure the show is V different from the books, but that kind of excites me, oddly enough.  Going to try and finish at least the first book in the trilogy before I begin the T.V. series.  Think I’m going to like this 4/5 stars.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: First of all, love the author’s last name?  May have to steal that for a character one day HAH.  But this one drew me in because the first words are basically: “So, the world has ended.”  Like the whole first few pages are straight up casual, and dramatic and epic – yet so nicely written.  I’m HERE for it.  Seems emotional, def more adult than YA, and super-duper world building-y.  I’m double-here for it.  The premise it that there are four seasons (like our regular yearly seasons), but the fifth season is basically an apocalyptic one – so the world has to rebuild everything all over again when that happens.
Kind of reminds me of how Pleakly had to explain to that Alien general lady in Lilo & Stitch that Earth has to start life all over again anytime an asteroid hits us.  IDK it just made me think of that.

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Lady at B&N said to read this when you’re ready-to-throw-stuff-angry.  I’M READY.  4/5 stars as well.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: I’ve heard sooooo many mixed reviews about this book, so I hate going into it thinking I could definitely dislike it, but NOW MY MIND’S BEEN TAINTED BY THE BAD REVIEWS and there’s nothing I can do about it!!!  But fear not – it’s just gotta be good enough so I’m not disappointed, right?  And plenty of reviews say it’s good too.  No pressure.  It’s fine.  Plus, I just can’t resist anything with a circus-ish theme/plot.  This one seems more about a circus festival/game kind of thing, where the character has to compete in it.  I’m going to say 3/5 stars.  Because it’s gotta convince me.  Again, NO PRESSURE heh.

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The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine: Not gonna lie, definitely picked this one up because of the BEAUTIFUL map inside of it!  Like seriously look at this beaut, I straight up DROOLED.  And then teared up, and then vowed to have maps on maps in my first book I ever publish.  Okay just look:


SO PRETTY, I HOPE YOU CRIED.  Anyway, this one I impulsively bought without realizing it was the SECOND one in an ongoing series, but then learned that they can definitely be read interchangeably.  So like – same book-verse, different stories.  In fact, that gorgeous map shows all the different kingdoms the books take place in.  SWOON.  This one is about a pair of girl/boy twins who are illegitimate kids of the king, but when the king dies, the boy twin has to instantly become King himself.  Or something like that, but tbh, will probably only know more once I start reading it (this is what happens when you impulse-buy and don’t even take the time to comprehend the premise).  YA and fantasy, though the writing appears a bit simpler than others – so, 3/5 stars?  We shall see.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: So, I fell head over heels in love with how Schwab writes when I read her book VICIOUS – 4/5 stars on that one!  May do a review for it – loved it, BUT the ending made me angry because I can’t handle cliffhangers when I have no idea when the next book comes out (or if there even will be a next book?? HELP).  Anyways, great book, so I recommended it to my pal Taylor and then she got me the SECOND book in Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy for my bday (signed by Schwab herself!  Omg she’s such good friend!!  But don’t tell her I said that).
So then I bought the beautiful first book in the trilogy so I can not just have the signed-second one on my shelf go unread for ages (though that could happen anyway…).  Did anyone follow this exchange of events?  I barely did, so I apologize.
Anyways, this book takes place in London – or rather SEVERAL Londons!  That’s right, multiple parallel universes and they all center around different L-towns.  Can I say I am HERE for it again?  Yes.  I am HERE for it.  Give me London, or give me death.  Don’t know much about the plot (bad Sarah), but London + Schwab’s grade-A writing?  Sign me up for all the books.  And I’m going to go there…5/5 stars.  I’m ready.

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The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: Again, love the author’s name?  Like Hans Zimmer but not.  Also, Bradley.  Love that name.  Sounds like Bradford.  But not.
For a moment there, I was like YOOO her name’s Marion, and this is a Robin Hood book, so how cool is that!  But alas, tis not a Robin Hood book.  But do not fret, this is a ARTHURIAN LEGEND BOOK!  HECKS to the YAH.  Just as exciting.  Does anyone else ever get our Merry Men and our Knights of the Round Table stories confused?  Me, me, I do.  Probably because both are such epic British tales.  Also, were the two namesakes in question pals on Once Upon A Time?  IDK.

I’m just kidding; OUAT Arthur was kind of the worst

Okay, but anyways, enough about the author name and Robin Hood glories – I picked this book (and its prequel, not pictured) up at my local library bookstore (what a beautiful joining of words).  Again, I love everything Arthurian legend.  I believe this one is told from Guinevere’s point of view, so you know – Shwwweeeeet.  Perhaps, 3.5/5 stars – I’m intrigued with how much I’ll enjoy the writing or if I’ll get trudged down by descriptions – ever feel like you KNOW a book will be that way?  I need to calm down with drastic presumptions.

Okay, so Ready.  Set.  READ SARAHJ.  YOU CAN DO THIS!


I just wanna be loved.  And by books most of all!

Xx,

Sarahj

What’s it like in New York City…

Man, it’s been a while.

I told myself I’d keep writing in this blog consistently, regarding my new New York adventures, on a bi-weekly basis.  But recently, I’ve learned something about myself as a writer (and as many other things too):

If I don’t feel like writing about something, I don’t force myself.

For me, this will only lead to text-book structured sentences, contrived feelings etched onto a computer screen, or my name doodled over and over again on a coffee-stained notebook.

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I don’t really apply this to when I’m concocting my unfinished novel(s), or when I wrote for school (okay, maybe that’s debatable..) – mostly because, when a goal is set, or an idea is already formed, usually word-vomiting it up on the page helps get the rest of the energy flowing.

And even if I’m too tired, or too uninspired to write…when it’s a story slow-burning inside of me, inspiration finds itself along the way.  I am a huge supporter of “Writing makes you a writer.”  So I always encourage myself and others, to write, even when it’s not easy or convenient.

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But when it comes to my emotions, my feelings, my thoughts about my life?  When I can’t form those words quite yet into something that when I reread it and go “YES that’s what I feel!  Those are the words!  All of humanity has searched for these words to express this emotion, and there they are!”

…that’s when I decide to take a breather that can last up to months.

I’m sick of putting stresses on myself such as “YOU DIDN’T UPLOAD THOSE BLOG POSTS THE WORLD IS ENDING,” when this life already brings plenty of those into my day, regularly.  Frequently.  Every second.

I dislike being my own worst enemy, and I so often can be.

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I made a life-decision at 18 when I chose my major, to make writing my livelihood (because 18 is apparently the perfect age to make said life-decisions).  So since it has and as far as I know, will continue to permeate my career choices, I still want to keep as much stress out it as I can, when it’s both my hobby and as my passion.

So since I’ve taken the burden off myself for feeling bad that I didn’t keep up a weekly blog for the duration of my internship, I can now talk about it freely.

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New York has been a monster.  Through and through – or rather, maybe let me correct that.  It feels more like New York is Victor Frankenstein, and I am its newly made creation, made from different pieces.  Different scraps.  Different places, different people (both who are me and who are not me), and different emotions.

New York does this to most people, I’ve noticed.  Found an outsider, someone who’s never stepped foot into the heart of its world – or at least someone who hasn’t significantly done so.

And without even so much as a warning, lightning strikes.  And the electric current pulses through and suddenly a new creature is born. (At least, this is how I think Frankenstein’s monster was made…the book and movies are very vague on the matter.  I’m committed to metaphors though).

New York is as gentle and serene as it is gritty and disgusting.  If you’re not careful, the authenticity of it all can keep mold ing this new monster that you’ve become into something unrecognizable – and maybe not something you intended to become.

Authenticity is a good word here, because the South can really kind of suck when you look at it in regards to this word.

“Bless your heart” and fake laughter starts to sting more when you realize you were often a part of something unreal and not quite meaningful for a good while.  I don’t mean this directly at any of my friends, or our friend groups.

Quite the opposite actually.  I mean it for the daily encounters, or the new introduction, or the forced group work with the girl who gives you that half-smile and that “sure you can hang with us” reply, but then forgets to text or to acknowledge your existence in front of others.

I accuse people of this, because I too fall into that trap, and it’s so easy to smile your way through and pretend you like people, and even force yourself to like them, when in reality, some people just plain suck.

I’m not comparing this to being nice to everyone.  Because up to a point, I think we all as humans, can and SHOULD try to be genuinely nice and polite to every person we come across.

But there is something so refreshing about NYC and how you know exactly where you stand with everyone you meet.  Laughter isn’t forced, it’s rightfully earned.  Compliments aren’t begged for, they’re given when they’re meant.  You’re not spoken to unless someone deems you worthy of his or her time.

I eat alone a lot, mostly because I didn’t have a roommate in NYC, mostly because it’s my favorite thing in the world to do (don’t pity me, I mean this).

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But New Yorkers have other plans.

Every time I’d go to a dinner for a quick meal, or sit at a large table in a restaurant, I could never rely on silence.  Another single patron would always sit near me, see that I was alone and easily strike up conversation.

A middle aged woman named Julie sat by me once.  I learned that she’d been in NY for her whole life, and has been married to her husband for 25 years.  She told me she liked eating alone, especially when her husband was away.

It became clear she didn’t like eating alone, and she desperately wanted someone to talk to.  “25 years with him…and you know what, Sarah?  I can’t say that if I could go back and do it all again…that I would.”

She questioned why they even got married when they had been living together for 10 years prior to that. “It’s not like we have kids.  I can say these things.”  She shrugged, just like that.

That’s one of my greatest and most inevitable fears – regret.  At this moment in my life, any choice I make is so crucial in determining what course my life goes on.  It’s kind of been like that since I was 18, but now it’s starting to hit me.  Especially since those four years of “study, go to school, hang with friends while you complete this small segment of a determined course of action” are well…over.

I’m so scared that every step I take, is going to take me down a path I didn’t want.  Do I want to do this?  Do I want to work for that company?  Do I want to be in that city?  Any choice makes my life into something totally new and terrifying.

I get that’s how life works, you never know, hindsight is 20/20, yadada I KNOW.

But I still want to whine about it.

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I don’t know where I’m going, or what I’m doing (this sounds painfully familiar.  See June/July/August Sarah) – and I just want to know.  And I just want to make the right decisions.

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So like I said.  The one thing I can control, and do have control over, is this blog.  And  I’m free to write on it when I want to.  And I can take off that unshakable feeling that everyone actually cares I didn’t update this (haha no one cares).  I’m free from one burden, but since we’re on that whole freedom subject…I guess this is just a great space to keep talking about my other mental burdens (“that’s what this blog was for Sarah, I’m glad you realize things after like, a year”).

Because, if we know me, my mind is never burden-free.  Because I’m a dweller 🙂  Maybe I can remember, this place was always meant for my dwelling thoughts and feelings.  Here’s hoping I’ll be back real soon…if I feel like it.

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this is literally me 23/7

– Sarahj

 

 

NYC, I Love You: The Three-Day Journey Of Falling For The City of Dreams

I’m going to be 100% honest with you (because this is my blog, and this is where I’m forcing myself to be honest):

I didn’t like New York City at first.

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No – same, fam, same – ME NEITHER.

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Dude, okay I know, Blake/Serena – I KNOW.

For many eons (years), I’ve dreamed of visiting NYC – ya know, the city where literally every movie, TV show, and book takes place?  The one Frank Sinatra tells me I NEED to be a part of?  THE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD?  Yes, that one.
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Every year I’d ask, “Hey Mom, Dad, can we go to NY this winter/summer?”

And every year, “No” they dismiss me out of hand.

(That was a Hamilton reference AKA the reason for the questionable grammar – so if you don’t know squat about Hamilton you’re probably thinking I’m insane.  In which case, you’d also be correct).

Their reasoning was always fair enough:

  1. “Sarah it’s too cold in the winter, the tourists are all there because Christmas/New Year’s, and you waited too long to plan this.”
    That’s fair.
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  2. “Sarah it’s too hot in the summer, the tourists are all there because SUMMER, and you waited too long to plan this.”
    Touché, parents.
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  3. There’s also that tiny itty bitty mountain, called ENOUGH MONEY, but it’s whatever (it’s not whatever).

Long story short, I went to Europe and back before I got to step foot in the world of NYC.

Common English banter between me and my mates:

“Wait, have you been to NYC? Do you live in LA?”

“No, no, actually I’ve never been to either city…”

“I thought you said you were from America..?”

Turns out, living in the state that’s geographically farthest from both LA and NYC makes me as unpatriotic as you can get.  Go Braves.

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Point is, I was determined to go up to NYC.  Not only to visit, but this time – with the plan to live there.  That’s obviously easier said then done (on all accounts).  But where did this new-found I-want-to-live-there-pretty-please drive come from?

This may be a bad reason, but it’s a reason nonetheless: ever since I came back from London, I’ve been dying to go back (physically & emotionally, whoops).  These are rants for another post, but sometimes it’s spectacularly hard to readjust to life when you make one place your home for five months…and then you’re just completely torn away from it.  Without any idea when you’ll be back.  Every study abroad-er understands this, but I feel like we never talk about it that much, except for the infrequent, “oh yeah, I miss it, really badly…”  End convo.

But what’s NYC got to do with London?  Well, the whole time I was in London, and every time the whole “YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO NYC?” thing came up (why was that such a big deal to people?), I’d ask how similar that city was to my London.

“Definitely different.  But if you’re looking for this type of big city vibe, then I’d say they’re pretty similar in that respect.”

I got that idea lodged into my brain (I have a problem with this.  Letting ideas grow in my brain), and with the knowledge that living/moving to/working in London was not something, I, Sarah Johnson, a recent grad, who’s never had a real job before, could feasibly do right after graduation – I decided the next best thing could be my goal.  I mean why not New York, right?
My mom could give you a whole list for that, but for me, NYC was in my dreams, my vision, and where I was going to be applying to.  When I was in London, I kept thinking to myself, “I think I’m a city girl.  I think that’s where I need to make my way.”  Not sure if you can get that right from living in a city for five months, but I’m just going by what felt.

I craved that city life.

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calm down, Blair/Sarah

But I didn’t just look at this from a dreamer’s standpoint.  I also looked at it logistically – with my major, minor, and my career path explained, most people would agree: NYC is the way to go.  Creative minds make it there, and if they can’t, they have to say they at least tried.  I scoured the job market and most places really did point me back to the Big Apple.  Between writing for a medical journal in Atlanta or writing about pop culture for a magazine up in NYC, I’d always choose the latter.

So I spent the summer perfecting my cover letter, applying to 1000+ job applications (more like 46), and okay yes – going to Disney World (priorities).  But when the end of July was nearing, I finally got a response back from a few freelance online magazines located in NYC – one of them even turned into a Writing Internship (Monologue Blogger)!  Yaaaay!

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But alas, Poor Yorrick – the writing internship was great for my portfolio, but being unpaid and freelance meant I would be stuck in the ATL writing from my parents’ house indefinitely.  That’s all well and grand (and I’m SUPER thankful I have parents who will allow me to come home whenever I’d need to), but the gig couldn’t help me get up to making my own way, my own money, and frankly – get me the heck out of Roswell, GA (which contrary to my rantings, is a lovely town.  Great for families.  Come visit).

Then God did some major big things that I still need to take the time to step back and thank Him for.  Not long after I got that first writing internship, a PR firm called Group SJR (a branch of Hill + Knowlton that deals with media marketing & creative content campaigns) told me they loved my cover letter and were looking for someone like me for their Editorial Internship Program (I may have also sent them a follow-up email with a gif in it.  Gifs save lives, spread the word)!  Long story short, after some correspondences, a Skype panel interview, and a written article test, I got the offer!

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This gif is for dramatics. I def thought about what my rents wanted

So I took it!  I WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO LIVE IN NYC!!  Again, I really need to take a step back – realize that this doesn’t just happen to most recent grads.  Getting what I want that quickly?  It feels almost selfish.

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But for a company in the infamous NYC, to want me, and to like my writing – I knew I had to leap at it.  Again, this is mostly easier said than done.  It sounds glamorous.  It is not.

I was left with only two weeks to find housing – meaning my mom and I had to jet-set up to the city this past weekend in the hopes of finding some.  We hadn’t secured anything when we had left last Monday (*shudders in disappointment*), but lo and behold, the second my Dad used his super internet skills to search for an apartment KABOOM – he finds one with all our requirements, and with a super nice land lady.  Only problem?  We weren’t up there anymore.
Long story short (that’s not possible with me), my home girl/sorority sister/general pal/all around awesome person, Rachel went to scope the place out for me (honestly, bless her and her friendship).  She gave me her trustworthy thumbs up, and then we proceeded to chat on the phone for over an hour (again, #UnironicBless).
So now I have a place to live at in the Midtown/Turtle Bay area (THREE CHEERS FOR HOUSING HAPPY ENDINGS).  This update is very recent, and I’m still super ecstatic about it.  But dang, it took a lot of work and prayer to get there.  And also, really good friends.  Finally, I have a place that’s mine.

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Anyways, the main point of this post though (oh are we getting to that now, Sarah?  Thought we’d have a cup of tea first.  Chat about the weather, maybe…), is that it took me a while to see how great NYC is – remember, I’d never been there before.  And I had spent my 22 years romanticizing it, idolizing it, and comparing it to London in my mind – this had to be the greatest city in the world right??

Let’s follow along the weekend’s events, shall we? (Disclaimer: if you wanna give up reading now, I won’t hold it against you – you’re in for the long haul if you continue any further!  For what it’s worth: more pics, less gifs)

FRIDAY 8/26: My mom and I arrived in NYC at 10:20am – meaning I had been up since 4:00am, with literally one hour of sleep in my body (why am I so self-destructive?).  So when we arrived to the city, seeing the infamous skyline for the first time was superb and probably a-once-in-a-lifetime thing – but I was feeling groggy, distracted, and tired and don’t get me started on how I hate botching up once-in-a-lifetime things…I should probably get over that.

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We took an Uber ride from the airport with this SUPER nice man as a fellow passenger, and he told me every little tip about NYC I’d ever need (realistically).

4 Rules of NYC:

  1. If it’s too good to be true, it is.
  2. Do not be afraid to say “no”; people will stomp all over you.
  3. Your mind will be opened; you’ll see things you’ve never seen before.
  4. You’ll always know what terms you’re on with others; NYC has the most honest people.

Solid.

After we arrived at our hotel, we headed up and unpacked, then came right back down to go visit the first apartments on our list.

Our hotel was in Midtown East (same area my new apartment’s in WHATUP) in Manhattan, which is super bustling and super busy – all things I love.  But looking around at the city, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what makes this place any better than any other city in the world?”  It definitely wasn’t London.  I’m bias in thinking that most cities are better than Atlanta (because I’m an ungrateful child), but even I couldn’t help but wonder, “what really makes NYC superior?”

We saw our first few apartments, and we left feeling super dejected – these didn’t look like the pictures?  What is this dump?  Why does everything always smell like 100% garbage mixed with cat vomit?

Literally us:

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It honestly felt like even if I had a budget of $5,000, I’d still be dealing with sketchy walk-ups and cramped closet-like rooms.

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It soon became very clear, we only had one path to go down:

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Did I say less gifs?  silly readers, that’s not a thing.

So as you know, the weekend came and went without us locking down anything (I won’t bore you with details on things that fell through/broker fees that scared us away – what’s that?  You’re already bored?  Yeah, I know), but I bring up this first day’s apartment hunt because of the mood I was in.

Perhaps it was the sludge and the let-down of not finding anything that first day, mixed with my lack of sleep, but it gave me this version of the city that felt not like what I had expected.  This was the city of dreams – but it was like any other fast-moving city?  The people weren’t exceptional – heck, they weren’t even British.  The landmarks – well, I hadn’t seen any yet.  But I didn’t want to just love a city because of what made it visually famous.  Does that make sense?

Either way, in reality, it wasn’t either of those things that made my dream-vision a bit foggy.  Not-so-fun-little-known fact: for a long time now, I’ve dealt with OCD and anxiety, and sometimes, they can be all consuming – especially in new and stressful situations.
I was pressuring myself so much to love NYC and to make this trip be the breathtaking, first-glance of New York that I’d been waiting for, so much so that the two disorders were taking over my mind – and man, I hate it when they do that.

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Point is, this mixed with my actual exhaustion summed up the disinterest with the city I was having that first day.  I could feel it in the air, and in the way I was taking in the sights – even in the way I was walking down that hot concrete.

So flash-forward through sleeping-like-a-baby and waking up the next morning.  With a good night’s rest and a new mindset (I was trying), we headed off to brunch.  This was probably the greatest thing for my mental state.  Food, my friends, it the secret to well living (okay, it’s more than that, but it’s a start).

SATURDAY 8/27: As soon as we stepped out the hotel doors, the city felt different to me.  A little more familiar, a little more tangible.  It felt a bit more relaxing, even as the taxis sped by, honking for no reason.  Even as the garbage smell filled my nostrils, and the people shoved me as they walked by to whatever destination they had that day.  It felt different.  I was still in a weird mood, but I said to myself, “I think I like NY.”  Big leaps.

Anyways, we decided upon “The Smith” via some online recommendations I’d seen (thanks The College Prepster!).  Since it was 10am, I didn’t order the famous Mac and Cheese, but there will be time for that later, I’m sure.
I ordered poached eggs and salmon on toast, with some avocado on the side, because duh.  Also duh, got the tropical punch cocktail.  DELISH.

Tryna be artsy.  Accidentally put up the deuces.

The bathrooms were unisex and had a retro photo booth in them.  Casual.

After the fulfilling brunch, I summoned my inner Audrey Hepburn, and pretended that I could afford anything in the Tiffany’s window.  We can take comfort in knowing that Holly and Paul could only afford to engrave a ring they found in a Cracker Jack, so.

Sans black dress & breakfast, my attempt was a bit off.

We walked up to Central Park, and so perfectly below it is the Plaza hotel  – I know this hotel is well renowned for its luxury and beauty, but let’s be real.  I went in for Eloise.

The inside was gorgeous, and I’ll probably spend most of my free days here loitering around the lobby and in the Plaza market that’s underneath the hotel.

Eloise’s gift shop was within the market as well, and so was this portrait.

Sans pug and turtle; attempt still good.

The Eloise films were also constantly playing in the gift shop, so I watched until Bill left the screen, because WE ALL KNOW WE HAD A CRUSH ON HIM WHEN WE WERE LITTLE.  My 22 year old self is not afraid to say it out loud.

Deliver me my room service cheerios & milk order, Bill ❤

We then walked around Central Park for 2.5 minutes, after which my mom declared she’d “seen it all” – oh, okay.  She also stated 500 times, “this looks like the bridge someone in Law & Order got murdered under.  Don’t go under there, Sarah, even if it’s 3pm.”  Oh, okay.  Still, we snapped a pic.

We made our first subway ride to the 9/11 memorial museum.  It’s an interesting destination to want to visit, in that I feel strange wanting to look at it all – from a history standpoint, the stories and revelations of that day are constantly fresh and horrifying.

There is something to learn from it all, but at the cost of seeing our nation in its gravest moments.  Still, I recommend the memorial and museum to everyone – the tears will definitely start flowing, but you’ll come out of it feeling the triumph of, and hope for, the human spirit.

I feel weird posting lots of pics from it on here, but here’s a piece of art that was truly inspiring.  The artist, Spencer Finch, titled it “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky that September Morning.”  He took 2,983 paper tiles all water-color-painted from Finch’s attempt to remember the color of the sky that morning.

The plaque explaining the exhibit went further to say:

“Finch’s work centers on the idea of memory.  What one person perceives as blue might not be the same as what another person sees.  Yet, our memories, just like our perception of color, share a common reference.”

Truly beautiful.

Just when I had declared, “Well, this city really is different from London…” BAM.  We found a Pret a Manger y’all.  And my heart skipped a beat – my true love and I, we were together at last.  Mom needed to charge her phone, and I said “Momma – Pret provides.”
So we stopped to recharge and I got my sea salt popcorn and well, water.  Recharge.  Refresh.  Rejuvenated.  Pret, I love you baby.


I honestly don’t even remember what happened the rest of the day (did we walk through Times Square?  Grand Central Station?  What’s happening).  But that night I definitely remember going to “The National.”  What’s that?  Oh, it’s only the delicious and accommodating restaurant owned by Food Network Star and Iron Chef Geofrey Zakarian.

“Sarah…who is that?”

If you’ve watched Chopped at least 5 times (we all know you have, don’t lie), you’ll recognize him as the Silver Fox who always wears those dark rimmed glasses.

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He’s pretty mild with his comments, but he’s a real sweetheart and his chef skills are to be feared.  When he was crowned on “The Next Iron Chef” I may have shed a tear.  This is mostly a sign that I watch way too much Food Network, but regardless I freaked when I saw him on the menu.  (His picture y’all, not like actually him.  Cannibalism will be judged accordingly on this site).

We shared a delicious cheese board without wine, which really, what were we even doing?

Here are some pics of our food to look at, because you know – food.

Geofrey, I was impressed, and also I love you.

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After all was said and done, I declared NYC likeable after the second day.  This was the difference between “Why NY?” to “Alright, okay, I see you, NY.”  Recharge, rejuvenated.  And so I went to bed watching Geofrey’s new show “Cooks vs Cons” (lol wut), dreaming about what tomorrow would bring.

SUNDAY 8/28: The next morning started with a plan to go to brunch again because 1. OBVIOUSLY and 2. it did wonders for how I felt the day before, so why not?  We decided upon “Lexington Brass,” another stop that was close to our hotel.  And as soon as we walked outside, I felt it again.  Something different in the air.  Suddenly, the city didn’t just feel tangible, it felt real and alive.  It felt inspiring.  It felt like anything could happen – that everything was a possibility, and everything was to be bounded towards; all inhibitions left at the door.  I could finally see why NYC.

Lexington Brass ended up having a 20 min wait time, but it was absolutely worth it.

After the FANTASTIC brunch, we went to a few more apartments, and walked up some on a whim, but again, all of them either fell through, or were complete dumps.  My new found ideal vision of NY was not squashed though – I was more so just like,
anigif_enhanced-2988-1446603144-10One place we saw again, looked nothing like the glamorous pictures on the net (I know this is a thing but like, I was expecting it to be livable, you know?).  So deceiving; people are just out for themselves.  Sigh.  Such is life.

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Either way, we carried on and decided to change the scenery by stopping by the Rockefeller Center.  This was a good decision, because it began with a pre-stop at Magnolia Bakery nearby.  The banana pudding y’all…

Also the plaque with the Rockefeller quote on it – inspiring.  Wish I could have gotten the whole thing in a pic:

Then we stopped by the place where dreams are actually made.  Still can’t afford a show even though I’m in the same city now, but hey.

This is as close to Lin Manuel Miranda as I’ll ever get.

We decided to end the day by trying out the Marriott’s revolving restaurant called “The View” – I got the buffet, and it was super dang delicious.  Also, 10/10 would recommend because free view of the city from up above!

We later checked out Times Square at night and DIDN’T DIE – told you, mom.  We called it an early night because we were leaving tomorrow morning.  I was still in a very chipper mood – my mother, not so much: we still hadn’t found housing.

But she decided the trip wasn’t a total waste because the next morning we got a quick (nope not quick: the line took 30 mins) bagel at “Ess-a-Bagel” down the street.  My mom doesn’t go bonkers for bagels, but she sure does for tennis.  Like she unhealthily loves tennis.  And we casually saw Sam Querrey, a US Tennis Player, in line.  I am known to freak the freak out about things, but I had to do damage control for my mother.  She had ZERO CHILL.  If I hadn’t been there to tone things down, he probably would have never agreed to snap pics with us.  But alas, it happened!

 but more importantly, this bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox happened:

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Conclusion:

It took me three days to fall head over heels for the big NYC.  So much so, that on the plane back to Atlanta I kept thinking…I know Atlanta is a great city; it truly is.  I’ve heard fabulous things about Chicago.  D.C. is beautiful.  London – well, you know how I feel about London (in fact, I won’t go as far as to say which city I like more, but simply to revel in the fact that they are indeed quite different).

But after all is said and done – there really is no place quite like New York City; nowhere else in the entire world.  It’s gritty, it’s bright, it’s ugly, it’s beautiful – it’s like everything contradictory about a person you’ve ever met.  You can’t take the good without the bad, but why would you want to?

NYC, I think I get why people flock to you now.  No where else gives you that feeling that perhaps, this city was made to make your dreams come true.

Thanks for reading this novel of a post – I don’t know how to write for myself any other way 🙂  Check back next time for when I am finally in NYC for good.  I’ll be moving up on the 8th, and starting work on the 12th!  Prayers and goofy text messages are always appreciated 🙂

Yours, ❤

Sarahj

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Binary Sunset

Fun fact: I love Star Wars.  No, no…like, I really, really love Star Wars.  I Pablo-Neruda-love it.  I love it “without knowing how, or when, or from where.”  Ok, so maybe I do know “how” and “when” or whatever.  Maybe it’s just that I love how easy it is to love Star Wars.  It’s always been a constant; forever encouraging fans (old and new) to come back home to it.

Let me fun fact-check myself:

I remember watching the original trilogy back when I still sounded like a gargling Chewbacca-child.  I’d sit up late on the weekends, watching the worn-out VHS tapes on my parents’ tiny T.V., rewinding the movies over and over and over again with a plea of “just one more time!” after each one, the clock striking nearly midnight.

Let’s just say that upon first viewing of Return of the Jedi, I was still young enough to not get how Darth Vader could have had twins but not have known about it…

I saw every prequel in theaters the week that each came out (I saw Episode II four times because I couldn’t admit out loud that I thought Anakin was cute).

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but i mean…

When I was around 7, this boy from my church let me borrow all the Extended Universe novels (which are now invalid and not canon, but let’s not talk about that).  Thereafter, I proceeded to buy every EU novel I saw in bookstores and garage sales (ya wanna talk about Jacen and Jaina Solo?  I’m yo girl).

I straight up skipped out early on my last sorority initiation (that I played a big part in) so I could watch the first full-length trailer of The Force Awakens on our house’s TV.  I was at the absolute first showing of TFA – and then I watched it four more times in theaters.

When people ask if I like Star Wars or Star Trek more, I smile and say “I love both!” …but really, that’s just a polite lie.  The truth is…

It’s always gonna be Star Wars.

But I’m not rambling on about my fan-girl status  to brag.  I firmly believe that new and old fans alike are equal in their love something.  I’m also well aware that my Star Wars-insanity doesn’t exactly make me unique, particularly nerdy, or the fulfillment of the average guy’s “manic pixie dream girl” wishes.

After all, if JJ Abrams has shown us underlings anything (besides lens flares and shaky-unseen-aliens), it’s that Star Wars is still kind of a big deal these days and it can easily stand the test of time – and that it always will.  Star Wars isn’t even sweating right now, it knows it’s locked in.

“I’m not gonna say life is perfect, but ‘We get a new Star Wars film every year’ is the kind of thing you would tell someone in the ‘70s to convince them that the future is a utopia.”
– tumblr user, exelev

Luckily I don’t choose to let the idea of liking something “so mainstream” (hipsters everywhere breakdown in tears) or something “so boyish & geeky” get in the way of me flat-out, border-line obsessing over it (please see Twilight, Jonas Brothers, etc, etc.)

Now all that being said, the most difficult decision I’ve often faced regarding the franchise (besides what color Lightsaber I’d want, le duh), is answering the usual question a self-proclaimed fan of any film franchise gets: “which Star Wars movie is your favorite?”

FIRST OFF HOW DARE YOU.

Is that even an emotionally legal question?  I mean, dramatics aside, most movie buffs/film critics/pop culture obsess-ees would agree: how can we choose?  Take note, in the initial question I am taking the originals AND the prequels into account because #NoH8ers.  They are all STAR WARS, k bai.

So here’s a simpler question: “What’s your favorite Star Wars scene?”

The rest of my fandom pals scream, “NO THAT’S AN EVEN WORSE QUESTION!  WHO R U”
I silently hold up a hand to their cries.  They shudder and gasp; somewhere a Luke Skywalker figurine falls over from the fallout; they all wear a look of betrayal.

“I have one,” I say quietly.

Chaos ensues, but suggestions soon follow:

“Han and Leia before he’s frozen?” No.
“Vader telling Luke he’s his father?” Nope.
“Yoda being all wise & stuff?” Nah.

“THEN WHAT  IS IT?”

My favorite Star Wars scene is the same scene that is in every film ever.

“Wait what?”

It’s within the first 30 minutes into A New Hope:

Luke is looking out at the Tatooine desert that goes on and on and on – never ending; the binary sunset is seeping into his half-lidded blue eyes.  John Williams’ magical and emotional “Luke’s Theme” builds and blares through the speakers, Luke’s face showing every bit of emotion and longing he’s feeling.  His Aunt and Uncle have just told him he has to stay on the moisture farm another year, when all he wants to do is leave to join the Academy to be with his friends and to fight against the Empire.

“Where are you going?” his Aunt asked.
“It looks like I’m going nowhere,” Luke responded.

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This then leads to the very scene I’ve just described: Luke, all melancholy – all hope fleeting and dismal.  He is never getting off the farm, and he is never going where he wants to be.  And that feeling, that guttural hopeless feeling – I can relate to it more than I’d like to.  I think every recent college grad-without-a-job can, to be real.

I’m finally out of school (indefinitely), and I have about 15% certainty of what I want to do with my life.  Or rather, I know what I want to do with it – but I’m not exactly sure that the statistics say I’m gonna get there…that I won’t fail at it all.  That I’ll ever end up leaving my parent’s house or my hometown or be anything but “Sarahj – she says she’s a writer, but where’s the proof??”

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okay, so my hometown isn’t as desolate as Tatooine but like…

I feel just like Luke, staring outside my window each night, wondering if I’ll ever do anything – be anything.

I have always loved this scene (I mean do you SEE that binary sunset, fam – c’mon), but I never really noticed why.  That is, until I stumbled upon this amazing graphic on Tumblr (where all wonderful stumble upons happen, naturally):

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Then it all became very clear to me.  This talented and amazing Tumblr artist not only depicted the scene in a new and beautiful way, but by overlaying it with those inspiring Hamilton lyrics (memo to self: write 20 posts on all my Hamilton feels), she made me realize what this scene is really about.

True, Luke sees no future happy ending in sight – he’s stuck there…forever.  But wait a second – only a few scenes later and BAM: Luke’s destiny is waiting right there for him!  Obi-Wan’s gonna reveal that Luke’s father was a jedi!  He’s going to meet his future best friend!  He’s going to rescue a Princess!  He’s going to be the Rebel Alliance War Hero who somehow figures out how to destroy the Death Star!  Luke, plain ol’ Luke who thinks he will never get off Tatooine, who will never do anything special in his life but stay on his farm, who is forever waiting.giphy

He has no idea any of this is about to happen.  He has no idea that so many amazing and extraordinary things are headed right his way!

Of course, with the good, comes the bad.
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Luke has to lose both his Aunt and Uncle, who are practically his parents.  He has to witness Obi-Wan’s death first hand.  He will later have to deal with learning his own father is the galaxy’s big bad – and worse, he will have to get the courage to face him one-on-one.  He will even find out he has had a twin sister all along – but he’ll probably have to go to therapy later on for accidentally making out with her…yikes.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is, in this scene, Luke has no idea all this stuff is coming for him.

As Benjamin Button would say, “you never know what’s coming for you.”

Or Isaac from The Fault in our Stars: “You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!”

I like to say this scene is my favorite now because, this time in my life is my Binary Sunset moment.  And I’m sure it won’t be my last – but isn’t that the beauty of it?

I feel so lost and confused right now – where I am going next, who I even am when I’m not defined by my college, my sorority, and my grades.  But I’ll keep looking off into the sunset like Luke, but this time with hope.

Unfortunately, unlike Luke, I’ll only be looking at one sun.  But at least my John Williams’ score will be diegetic – and I can keep playing it over and over again until I become my own Rebel Alliance Hero.

And I said that every movie has this very scene because each one basically does.  Whether it’s Belle from Beauty and The Beast wishing for more than “this provincial life,” or Harry Potter playing with his toy soldiers in the cupboard under the stairs – every film has a binary sunset moment.  And it’s the most relatable and human part of any film ever.  Because every movie has a binary sunset moment, but so does every life.

So here’s to Luke and I and every other story’s protagonist (who just doesn’t know it yet) – and to everyone else who’s feeling the exact same way – we may be waiting, but we have no idea what’s coming for us.