I’m Back! A recap of the past 9 months.

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As anyone still following this blog might be able to tell from my recent repost, I’m back. I had a falling out with blogging and the entire internet when I returned to Glacier and the open road this summer. Both driving and/or working 12 hours a day (I had plenty of both kinds of days) takes a toll on the body and the mind. I found it a struggle simply to keep up the personal journal I have for myself or even read, instead opting for 5-8 hours of sleep. Yes, for several weeks I had to choose between the two: it was tough.

But, enough excuses, and let’s move on to updates, shall we?  To begin, I have a special man in my life now. His name is Joshua, or JT, as I call him. We met in Glacier in 2013 but really hit it off this past summer. Within a week of my arrival, we were dating. He’s a native Texan, whose spent the last 5-6 years in Montana. And he’s 30. A bit of a leap for me (about a decade separates us) but he’s been nothing but a wonderful and positive addition to my life. 

Second thing thing you might be wondering: well where in the hell in the world are you now, Maddie? To answer that question: Seattle. I was accepted by the University of Washington and I am finishing up my degree in English there, where I hope to graduate by June of 2016.

Besides falling in love and going to school, what have I been up to? Since October I’ve been interning at a local law firm in Westlake, and well, it’s been alright. I applied because I wanted to learn about law, but the biggest thing I learned is that I’m totally not cut out for it! Office life is just totally not for me. I’ve also been interning as a research assistant for the author David Shields, who teaches creative writing at the UW.

The bottom line: I reworked my life from the bottom up. I threw away or donated many of my belongings before I left New Jersey, then spent 3.5 months cleansing my mind and saving money in Glacier. Seattle was a chance to start over and it’s been amazing. I’ve lost 15 pounds, have two amazing internships, and my relationship with JT is the healthiest kind of any relationship I’ve ever had.

So I apologize for the saccharine post, but I felt like I should establish that. I’ll be back for more environmental commentary and music writing soon.  

“Dubs” the UW mascot and I!

  

JT and I in front of a waterfall in Olympic National Park over winter break.

  

My handsome man in Cougar Mountain Park, an awesome greenspace East of Seattle. Review coming soon!

 

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Weekly Rant: Living in the Age of Irony

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Interesting take on the hipster “irony.” I was glad to see the calling out of postmodernism and the intellectual elite… Not to say that they are bad, just simply part of problem.
As someone who feels criticized for being too earnest and not ironic or critical enough, especially when it comes to music, I appreciated this post.

Queerly Different

A couple of years ago, the always-inflammatorySalonran a piece entitled “The 15 Most Hated Bands of the Last 30 Years.” Included on the list were such hate-favourites as Nickelback (hatred of them has become so common as to be ubiquitous), but also many of the bands whose work came to define the sounds of the ’90s. Think Goo Goo Dolls, Dave Matthews Band, and Hootie and the Blowfish. Surprised to hear that they are the most hated band? So was I. But then again, in many ways I really wasn’t. Though I was incredibly annoyed at rediscovering this list a little over a week ago, I saw it as just another sign that we are indeed still living in “The Age of Irony.”

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out why the list annoyed me so much. Was it simply because they had listed the Goo…

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Adventures with Monty Day 1: Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain National Park(s)

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Day 1 of my cross country road trip began at 6 am on May 13 in Sparta, New Jersey at my friend Janine Moody’s house. Janine accompanied me for a little over a week throughout the South, to the Hangout Music Festival, and to New Orleans before she flew out with another friend on May 21.

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Sorry Janine.

We left as the sun was still rising over this rural part of New Jersey, and it was a beautiful drive. Our first omen though? An aluminum beer can popped open and started spilling everywhere, so our first reaction was to shotgun it. Janine sprang to action, since I was going to be driving for the first few hours, and it was beautiful.

Believe it or not, with this behavior we made it as far as Gatlinsburg, Tennessee by that evening. It was a grueling 14 hour drive, but we ended up in the Elkton Campground inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

We were actually able to hit up two national parks in one day, visiting Shenandoah National Park around 1 pm that day. “That’s ambitious,” said one of the rangers when I told him where I planned to be that night. And boy was it. We made it into the Elkton Campground in the Smokies around 9 pm that night. But it was not crowded at all, and Janine and I found a site in about 30 seconds, which was really nice. But don’t expect this all season long! This will start filling up around mid-July

Since most of this first day was driving, I’m going to provide a few photos below to give you all an idea of what we saw!

Transferring as an Undergraduate: Five Tips for Prospective Transfers

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Hey there! So I’ve mentioned briefly here that I am transferring from my school at Emerson College in Boston to either the University of Washington in Seattle or CU Boulder (I’m making my decision in June). As natural as a transition it may seem to people looking in at me, I can assure you it hasn’t been all butterflies and unicorns. It’s been hard, stressful work, and I’ve found that a lot of my friends and/or acquaintances have met me with some resentment, frustration, or confusion while adults have tried to convince me that I’m making the wrong decision. Luckily, the ones who have been most supportive have been my parents and I am definitely very grateful for that.

But I know that my process could have definitely been smoother, and that’s why I’ve put together a short list of tips and tricks for those students who might be thinking of transferring, or are already in the process of it. I’m including some long-distance specific items because I happen to be experiencing that sort of change, and I feel like it’s something people do not address often. 

1.) Keep Your List of Possible Schools Narrow

This transferring process is all about you: even more so than it was your senior year of high school. By now, you’re either nearing the end of your freshman or sophomore year, and you’ve learned more about your likes and dislikes. You don’t want this transfer experience to be as stressful as senior year. And I promise you it won’t be! Now that you know more about yourself, it’s going to be easy to pick just two to three schools to apply to. Similar to senior year, you will want a safety, a top choice, and either another top choice or a reach. For me, I applied to CU Denver, CU Boulder, and the University of Washington. Both Boulder and Washington were my two top choices. By doing this, I minimized application costs, and was able to focus more on my essays, which still count while you’re transferring. Your bank account and your sanity will thank you for this later.

2.) Know Your Program

Are you going to want to switch programs, or are you going to stay along a similar track? Either way, contact students in your chosen department and ask them questions about it. This should be pretty standard, as you’ve probably already gone through the process of choosing your program before. But do not skip this! It’s very important that you know as much as you can about the program. It also helps you field the questions family members are sure to throw at you about why you’re transferring.

3.) Plan in Advance… And Make It Fun

I’ve been telling people for a couple of weeks now that the best decision I’ve made is to road trip to my next school. Of course I’m working in Montana for three months this summer so there will be a significantly long pit stop along the way, but road tripping has made the process much more fun and exciting. But plan ahead! Save up and make reservations for campgrounds or motels in advance, save up money, and keep family and friends in the loop. What has helped me a lot on this road trip has been the hospitality of friends along the way. I am writing this while sitting at the kitchen table of friends of mine in Houston, TX. This will likely be one of your first solo road trips if you’re transferring, so having friends and staging points along the way will be helpful and also comforting! It’s also a great way to catch up with family that you haven’t seen in years. It’s a big life change, why not reconnect with long lost friends and family? Just give everyone you’re planning to visit about two weeks notice that you’ll be coming through.

4.) Consider Whether You Want to Bring Your Car

I’m moving to the West coast from the East during this transfer, and I know that there are lots of things that I am going to want to see in the West. Both Washington and Boulder have outdoorsy student populations, so I know I will be hiking and climbing a lot, and to be able to do that, I will need a car. Are you going to be in a city? Then leave the car at home, because finding an apartment with a parking space will be difficult, and paying for parking is going to be ridiculously expensive. Are you going to be at a larger campus with activities that are far away? Consider bringing your car, as it will bring you higher levels of confidence and independence. For me personally it feels good to do what I want, when I want. But be careful! Everyone who doesn’t have a car will then want to be your best friend, so choose who you give rides to wisely.

5.) Consider Travel Costs After You Move 

This can tie in to the fourth item above. If you are transferring a long distance, you might not be able to fly or drive home whenever you want to. You’re going to need to find places to stay during breaks, and choose economical times to visit home when you do decide to go back. That’s why I heavily recommend to anyone doing this long distance switch to bring a car. Driving a few hours to a friend or family member who can house you for a week is going to be cheaper and easier than flying home.

 

Bonus Tip: Are you going to want to visit your family often? Then save up. As much as your family tells you it’s fine and to come visit whenever you want, you won’t be racking up those frequent flier miles fast enough to make a difference to your family’s check book. Mom and Dad might even tell you that you have to pay for your next flight. Believe me, it’s happened.

 

In Conclusion: Transferring is so incredibly exciting! Especially if you are transferring a long distance away from home, this gives you a chance to enter your sophomore or junior year with a clean slate and a new starting block. I see this opportunity for me as one where I can finally grow up and become an adult. Where I transfer might be where I end up living for the few years after graduation.

Transferring is full of possibilities, the only thing required is that you plan accordingly to maximize your opportunities. Don’t be nervous, this is going to be a blast.

Life on the Road and In the South: Adventures with Monty

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Howdy!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Life has changed a bunch since I last posted, and I feel kind of guilty that I haven’t shared with you guys in a while. 

So where am I, you ask?

Well, I’m in Baton Rouge, Louisiana right now in a Starbucks with glorious air conditioning and coffee, which I haven’t had in a while. I’ve recently packed up my entire life in the back of my 1998 Mercury Mountaineer and hit the road with friends on a whirlwind tour of the country. My car, Monty, and I have already had some crazy adventures since I left Central New Jersey on May 13. I am queuing some posts right now to keep you guys entertained and interested, but they’ll also be relevant to my experiences. I’ll be discussing the topic of National Parks, Music, and transferring, as well as planning road trips and going to music festivals. Next up is going to be a post on tips for students transferring universities over long distances, like me!

Thanks for hanging tight, everyone! I’m excited to share my experiences with you!

Getting Ready: Hangout Festival 2014 in Gulf Shores, Alabama

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This year, my friends Janine, Zack, and I will be roadtripping through the South to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for Hangout Fest(ival) on May 15, 16, 17, and 18. We couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be volunteering, too, so our tickets will end up being absolutely free.

I have never been to a music festival, let alone volunteered at one, so I’m preparing for quite an awesome experience.

First, check out this year’s line up:Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 12.47.52 PM

And we’ve got the kickoff party, too, which we’re pretty psyched about.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 12.48.00 PM

 

So get ready for some festival and roadtrip blogging! We’ll be hitting up as many state/national parks as possible during our trip, and seeing as many bands between volunteer shifts.

Bands that we’ll be keeping an eye out for:

  • Iron & Wine

I saw Iron & Wine in New York right after Sam Beam released his “Kiss Each Other Clean” album. Since he’s been really into arranging with bigger bands, I think the festival vibe will be perfect for him. Though admittedly I couldn’t care less about his latest album, which is kind of sad.

  • Wolfmother

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been to a hard rock show. This should just be a ton of fun. Plus, they’re Australian, and who doesn’t love a band of Aussies?

  • St. Paul and the Broken Bones

They’re my favorite new band, and kind of the reason that I’m going to this festival in the first place. This band is getting a lot of new press, and was named one of SXSW’s top bands to look out for. I’ll be counting down the days/hours/minutes until I get to see them.

  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

I love me some jazz, and I think Trombone Shorty is making it cool again. I also used to play trumpet, so I’m a sucker for brass instruments.

  • Fitz and the Tantrums

I started listening to F & T because I thought they had a cool band name, and kept listening because they’re unlike any band I’ve heard. Their mix of indie-pop and R&B that culminates in neo-soul is artistic and fun at the same time. I also have faith that they will attract quite a good crowd at this festival.

  • The 1975

These guys are my pop music guilty pleasure. My 16 year old sister introduced me to them, and I’m pretty sure “Sex” has 50+ plays logged on my Last.fm. I think they have a lot going to for them, and they’re one of the Top 40 bands that I think I’ll be interested in come their second album.

And of course, there’s The Killers and The Black Keys. As headliners, the crowd for both will be kind of rowdy. But who cares? I’ve never seen either band live (a sin, I know).

Stay tuned for reviews of these performances, road tripping updates, and a Nickel Creek concert review coming up May 2nd!

Music Recommendation of the Week: Words Like Earth

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Last night, on an assignment for WERS I covered S. Carey’s show at the Great Scott. I went in not knowing anything about the openers, however, and I was in for a really pleasant surprise.

The first act was Words Like Earth, a solo acoustic act of Boston University student Tanner Connolly. I’ll be honest, when I first saw Connolly take the stage, I was distracted by his sweatshirt which read “Montana Grizz” and his waterbottle, which had all manner of National Park stickers as well as a few from Patagonia. Immediately I was thinking he was my kind of guy, if he had actually picked up the sweartshirt from Montana, and not from the Buffalo Exchange down the street. As he was tuning my whole mind was distracted by an evaluation of his “authenticity.” Whoops.

But what came afterwards blew all my expectations of him out of the water. His simple acoustic fingerpicking gave way to a crystal clear voice that floated effortlessly into higher octaves. The first song he performed was called “Rookery.” Connolly has the gift of a crystal clear voice that floats effortlessly into high octaves. But he can also sing in a more natural, lower octave and surprise the crap out of you while he does it.

A couple other songs that I thought worth a mention were “The Belfry” and “Sojourn,” the second of which is available to listen on Words Like Earth’s Soundcloud.

The catch of all of this though, is that Connolly doesn’t have an album out yet. But, you can help fix that. The musician has a Kickstarter for this solo project, and hopes to raise $3,000 in order to record his debut album. He’s at about the $1,200 marker right now, with 5 days left. I even donated $20, and I’m a cheapskate!

C’mon, if Veronica Mars can raise 2 mil, Connolly can raise 3k. Help him out.

 

As a little treat, here is a HQ recording of Connolly performing “The Belfry”