Holidannys

WTF WEDNESDAY: LEAVING

So originally I wrote a WTF post about hating birds and cats, and then I went out for a few hours and realized that that is the biggest WTF of all. And I realized that I’m about to leave my study abroad—I’m writing this on Tuesday—and I think that’s the biggest WTF ever.

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WTF is up with that? How did 15 weeks—101 days—pass by so quickly? I feel like I progressed from pants-shitting fear to awe to whatever-ness to joy to faded awe to peace and contentment to now. Now, I’m about to go back to America. And I’m so excited for that, but I’m also so sad to be going.

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I didn’t think that I would be. I thought I would be satisfied with the amount of time I had here, and in a way I am. But I think I’m sadder that I don’t have more time. I’m sad that now that I’ve become comfortable in this place—past the point of thinking every London drizzle is quaint and being able to be enough of a resident to be annoyed with the weather—I want more time. I like being a resident; I like walking around.

I was talking to a friend—Charlie—and we were talking about time. This time has felt like an eon, and at the same time, nothing. New places always seem like such a long stretch of time, and when I think about early September—going to the gym, walking around Bankside in Southwark—doing my Halloween costume and pub crawls, wandering around museums, walking under the soft gray overcast sky. It’s been cool and fun and wonderful and nice. I didn’t have the pressure to see everything immediately and I got to do it at my own place.

And I think what I’ll miss most is that ability. Until I move into an entirely new city, I won’t have the experience of having four months to wander and discover. That’s been so crazy and weird and lovely.

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And I’ll miss the growth. Before this, I was crippled by my fear of anxiety. Not even my anxiety. My anxiety about my anxiety. I was afraid of triggering it, of waking that beast. But this has been so beyond my wildest dreams and so outside of my comfort zone, that I think I shocked myself. I still have anxiety obviously, but I was able to conquer one small trigger—new places. New places used to scare the shit out of me. And I’m sure it’s something I’ll still struggle with; but I just lived across a fucking ocean for four months and managed to do it. If I’m strong enough to do that, I feel like I can do so much.

I traveled to a different country by myself. I’m not talking about England. I went to Spain for a weekend solo. I dumped myself in a country with no companions, no cellphone data, and no grasp of the local language. I’ve traveled on planes by myself, I’ve navigated in European cities. I’m gotten lost and found and lost. I’ve cooked food. I’ve never cooked food myself. Before this, I had made eggs and grilled cheeses and cereals. Now, I’ve done fried rice, pastas, sautéed shit and flipped shit and added ingredients. Who am I, Ina Garten?

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Side bar: I’m so excited to binge-watch The Barefoot Contessa when I go home. That will be my Christmas break.  

So I’m sad, and I feel like that’s so obvious, like “Duhh,” but I am. And I’m allowed to have these emotions. I’m glad for this opportunity, because I know that I won’t have it again in the same capacity. I’ll never again be a wild, sexy college student, traipsing around Europe for four months.

But maybe that’s good? Because there’s a pleasure in finite-ness. This is a thing, and it’s ended, but it’s been amazing and worthwhile and shocking. And it’s over, but that doesn’t negate its beauty. It makes it sad and wonderful and fleeting. And I keep saying “wonderful” but that’s what it is. It’s been full of wonder. And it’s made me full of wonder. I feel more fulfilled. I feel more independent. I feel more strong and old and opinionated and cool. I’ve gotten experience and a little bit heavier—I haven’t been working out—and cool Instagrams and amazing friends.

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So thank you—everyone. Thanks to the friends that I made here, when I was dry-heaving inside and pretended to be cool so you would like me. Charlie and Millie and Jenna and Sebastien and Jenny and everyone else who I’m too lazy to give a pseudonym to. And thank you to my babes at home—Marco and Nina and Mitchell and Shelby and others—who chatted with me and made time for FaceTimes and late night chats and good times. Even though I wasn’t there, I was still there. And thank you family—Mom and Dad and Poppy and Margot—you guys are cool for sending me here. Thanks honeys.

So thank and what the fuck and I hope you’re having a good day and that you take leaps and feel fulfilled and be independent.

HAPPY HOLIDANNYS!

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Holidannys

MISCELLANEOUS MONDAY: PACKING SUCKS

Okay, so news alert: packing sucks, I’m sweating like a whore in church, and I’m got a raging headache. I don’t know how anyone does this whole “moving from the country you moved to three months ago back to the country you left” thing, but that’s what I’m doing and I hate it.

In—like idk, two days? A day and half? I’m not great at math, but regardless—a certain, finite amount of time, I’ll be leaving England and going back to America, land of mouth-breathers and Dunkin-Donuts and LORDY LORDY I’M SO EXCITED. I’m excited to be the cool one again. In England I’m essentially Jan Brady, and goddamnit I want to be Marcia again.

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I spent two hours of my day sitting on suitcases and trying to shove too many denim shirts into too little of a space, and I realized that American consumerism has consumed me and that we need to fight, Marx-style, against the machine! Lol no, I’m kidding. I just realized that I get a little shopping-crazy and decide to go on a total binge. Which we already knew.

But I think what I hate most about packing is the inbetweenness. You still have to have certain things out—like your toothbrush and your deodorant—and so you’re living in this sort of limbo. I don’t do well with limbo—the concept or the popular game. I like things to be clean and done and over, I hate lingering and half-steps. Give me a full-step.

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And it makes me prematurely sad about leaving London. For the last three and a half, almost four months, this weird place has been my home and I’ll be sad to leave behind being an intrepid traveler, getting lost in Spanish Metros, eating sandwiches on a dock in Copenhagen, walking over tiny canals to hidden museums in Venice. I’ll miss being cool, and I’ll miss forcing myself so outside of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it anymore.

Because abroad for me was more than just being abroad. It really made me confront my anxiety. This entire trip was a huge experiment to see if I could be strong enough to override my anxiety and fear of new places. And I think I did it. I think I took a massive enough leap where I shocked the anxiety out of my body, and it’s just WTFing somewhere in the Atlantic.

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And so I hate packing because it reminds me that, while excited and glad I am to be going back to my friends and my family and my babes, that this part of abroad growth is over, and that I’ll have to find other ways of growing and getting outside of my comfort zone. Abroad was the easiest and most obvious way, but there are others, and I’ll find them.

Omg, did I just get so fucking deep in a rant against packing? I’m so deep. It’s insane. I’m Mariana’s Trench—the natural location, not the band. Although it’s a pretty good band.

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Omg, like goodnight. I’m so tired and I “have” a “final” tomorrow, in which I have to write multiple “in-class essays.” So weird. Must be code for something.

HAPPY HOLIDANNYS!

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Life, Rambles

“NEVER TOO OLD FOR ONE DIRECTION” IS WHAT I KEEP TELLING MYSELF

Wednesday, September 30th.

“I smell like a gym locker,” I scream over One Direction.

Jenny laughs and motions that she is, too, afflicted with this condition. We’re perched like birds in the upper echelons of the O2, a stadium that is currently filled with five thousand screaming girls, two thousand screaming women, one hundred adult men, and me and Jenny clutching each other whenever Liam, Niall or Harry pop up on the big screen.

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From our nosebleed seats, One Direction looks like a cluster of beautiful, tiny Polly Pocket dolls, but their visages blown up onto the two massive screens on either side of the stage cause us to go into literal fits of passion.

The mix of screaming and deep, chesty gasps is making the oxygen thin in the stadium, and the temperate is rising, making me steam like a lobster in my—very attractive—Zara, olive green bomber jacket that I had bought two hours previous.

As I hoarsely screech out the words to “Through the Dark,” I can’t believe that I’m actually here because who the fuck would’ve thought that I would buy tickets to a One Direction concert?

Answer: probably everyone. Except for…me.

It was a very spur of the moment, “I’m in London once why am I not going to seize this great experience by the balls” decision to purchase the ticket and even more of a spur of the moment decision to buy a $60 jacket to go along with my outfit. But I looked FUCKING AMAZING so really I think the decisions proved to be good.

We are easily older than everyone else in our area—barring moms—by at least four years, and while that fact would’ve made me feel embarrassed in a normal situation, apparently this One Direction concert veers into the fantastical because not only did we not give a flying fuck, we also danced like maniacs and screamed a multitude of sins towards the boys that were not appropriate for our surroundings but are perfectly appropriate to discuss right now:

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Can you guess which one is mine? Does it even matter? Both are cries for help.

And also if you’ve ever read 1D fan fiction, you know that me screaming, “Liam, murder my vagina!” is definitively not the worst thing that these kids have ever heard. Oops, I gave away which one was mine. Now the mystique is gone.

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Also I wanted to name this post “Murder My Vagina, Liam Payne,” but I feel like that would be a “negative” in the vast Internet presence I am trying to cultivate.

One Direction is so good that it hurts and I took, like, a 100-second Snapchat story, which I cannot confirm because of the Snapchat update making the actual number-count obsolete. Once again, the new Snapchat update is getting in the way of legitimate journalism.

I felt more like a local navigating the tube after the concert, switching between different Underground lines. Nothing makes you feel like more of a goddamn badass than making a successful transfer. Coupled with my sleek, chic outfit and glasses, I felt like I looked like a local. Until I open my mouth and my American accent comes squawking out, I can—almost—pass.

Afterwards, Jenny and I went to a bar and danced with other people in our study abroad program until I finally went home at around 2 am, having gone on a muthafucking BUS and not getting stabbed. I don’t even use buses at home. I don’t even know if I know how to use the buses at home. I am truly a Londoner and will not accept any claims to the contrary. Or any clams.

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All in all, One Direction was a total win and I’m so glad I got to go and I even spent essentially the entire day with Jenny—well, like fourteen hours—and I didn’t want to stab her by the end or anything! Which is…progress? It means I’m a maturing human?

BOOBS.

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Humor, Life

BRASH AMERICAN

I have been in the UK for almost three weeks and I still have no idea whether Brits hate Americans or love Americans. I keep getting conflicting reports. I met this guy at the gym and he was British and said that everyone would love me, but people keep looking at me with thinly veiled disgust like I’m a toddler screaming in an Italian restaurant. I also don’t think my inability to read the denominations of coins works in my favor. The other day, I just held out my wallet to the cashier and she picked out the correct change.

My frequent refrain is: “I am a dumb American.”

It works roughly 60% of the time.

There are two major things I have noticed about Londoners, and both relate to voice. Firstly, they whisper everything. I shout everything. I am an exclamation point next to their ellipses. Before I learned to adjust my volume, I was easily the loudest person in any given room at any given time. In the entire country. When I went to Copenhagen (I’M INTERNATIONAL, BITCH!) over the weekend, the title of loudest creature in England probably went to a literal elephant or something like that.

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The other thing is accents. Obviously I am aware that there are different accents. But I wasn’t prepared to hear them full-time and for the first forty-eight hours, I swore that every British accent I heard sounded faked. Also, in comparison to the soft English roses and lilting accents, my voice is a nasally nightmare. It sits thickly in my mouth, flattening every vowel like a steamroller.

In the States, I am used to be slightly superior to everyone else. In England, I am essentially a Beverly Hillbilly.

I have a newfound appreciation for Americans. I love our bold, brusque and loud ways. I like that we’re too blunt and awkward and funny.

Also OMG SIDE BAR: I have had multiple British people warn me that British people have a much more sarcastic, cunning sense of humor, as if I have never come into contact with that and that everyone in America is still laughing at anvils falling on Wile E. Coyote’s head.

Granted, that’s still fucking funny, but we have progressed a little. Give us some comedic credit, Britain.

But I also like things in London. I like how the rain feels quainter here. Like, it’s still rain, but it’s British rain so it’s slightly more polite. And I love the mews. They’re these little cobblestone offshoots from roads with houses converted—I think—from old stables or garages. And I like how there are green spaces everywhere. It feels more fresh than New York, but it still has that buzz that I like.

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I feel distinctly American as I walk the streets, and I wonder what people see. I’m mostly of European descent—Irish (is Irish European? Or UK-ian? What?) and German and Austrian—so do I look like I fit in? Or does the American eek out of me? I walk like an American, sturdy and clomping and not at all graceful. And as soon as I open my mouth, I get clocked because I bray like a donkey.

But I’ve had two separate occasions of people asking me for directions—wait, three!—and that must signify some level of looking like I fit in. The first one was a woman asking me for directions to Heathrow Airport—Piccadilly Line westward—and someone else asked me where a certain tube station was. Also someone asked me for directions to a building and I gave them to him before realizing that I didn’t actually know where the building was. So two out of three isn’t bad.

Once I was on the tube alone—also no one talks on the tube, it’s so weird—and I wondered if people thought I was a ~hip~ Brit boy. They probably just wondered why I don’t brush my hair.

I’m learning to soften my voice, but I found that I can work the “charming American” angle very infrequently and sometimes it really works and other times you get that weird British stare that’s all “This idiot dropped tea into Boston Harbor” and there’s nothing worse than that stare. Also British people do not get my throwaway weird off-brand humor. So it’s a learning curve for both of us.

I’m also really good at looking to the right for oncoming cars and saying that cars here drive on the “left” side instead of the “wrong” side, because I realize that that’s a tiny bit xenophobic-sounding.

Side bar: Zenonphobia—fear of Zenon, Girl of the Twenty-First Century?

There’s really nothing more to say other than that I’m really enjoying scones and clotted cream. Well done, England. Truly.

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Life

LAST AMERICAN POST FOR A WHILE

I’m sitting in my bed. Soon I’ll be in the car. Then I’ll be at the airport. Then I’ll be on an airplane, over the vast Atlantic Ocean. Then I’ll be in London. It breaks down quite nicely.

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As I’m typing this, I have this balloon in my chest and it’s half terror/half exhilaration, because I’m about to leave the comfort of my American bubble. And I can’t even fully wrap my head around it.

I’m so anxious, for so many reasons. I’m anxious that I’ll be anxious, that I’ll mess up such a great opportunity. I’m anxious that I’ll fail at cooking. I’m anxious that I won’t make any new friends and I’ll have to resort to being fake and non-authentic.

But I also know that the hardest times in my life have pushed me into being stronger. So that’s where the exhilaration comes in. because even though I’m shitting myself, I can’t imagine myself not coming out of the other side as a stronger, more independent person. And that’s really fucking cool.

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I’m always so bad at taking leaps. I was the kid who had his toes curled over the edge of the diving board, and spent so much time looking down into the air. But my body sometimes overcomes my mind and forces me to jump.

So I’m jumping. I’m fucking LEAPING. And it’s scary but I have to remember that it’s okay to be scared shitless. And that these three months are a gift, and I have the power to take that gift in any way I want. I can do this, I can do this.

So send me all of your happy thoughts and good vibes, and I’ll send them back. And they’ll meet in the middle of the Atlantic and mingle and brush against each other and then go on their separate ways. Stronger, vibe-y, happier.

Oh my god, I’m about to do this, aren’t I?

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Also, my posts for the next month (the Mondays and Thursdays) are all pre-written, but I’ll be uploading sporadically within those scheduled days with current content. So don’t worry, because you’ll have enough Danny for your pleasure.

I don’t want to end on a clerical note because that’s so lame. I have a bunch of songs that I’m gonna be playing on repeat, to make me strong and fierce and cool and wild. A lot of them are from drag queens. I’m not even sure anyone is surprised at this point. Okay. I think I’m done.

Thank you, I love you, stay perfect, you American flops. This American flop is about to fly across the ocean and see if he can show the British that Americans really are as trashy and perfect as our Real Housewives franchises portray us to be. You’re welcome, Obama.

WHAT A WAY TO END MY LAST AMERICAN POST FOR FOUR MONTHS. YOU’RE WELCOME OBAMA. YOU’RE WELCOME, CHER.

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