Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Missing Miami

So let's be honest, this is really a post to attempt posting photos into my blog, and okay, to brag about my fabulous (and last) spring break last week in South Beach, Florida.

Two of my good friends, my boyfriend and I loaded up my car and headed out on the afternoon of Saturday, March 15th to make the I-95 drive from Washington, D.C. to Miami. A total of 16 hours (18 with stops), three tanks of gas, and multiple bags of chips and cookies in the car each way. We figured paying for gas for one car was still a lot cheaper than paying for 4 plane tickets and it was certainly a crazy adventure with stops at South of the Border (an awesome pit-stop on the N.C./S.C. border) and a 24-hour Waffle House at 3 am.

This is a picture of us on the home stretch of the drive coming into Florida. It didn't hit us how big of a state Florida actually is because we reached Jacksonville in 11 hours and thought, "oh great! This has been cake!" Little did we know we still had 6.5 hours ahead of us to get to Miami (the clock on the dash in this photo reads 5:30 am). The nice thing about the dash on my car - it also tells you the outside temperature. It was fun watching it jump from 44 degrees when we left D.C. at 2:30 pm Saturday, to 76 degree when we arrived in Miami at 10 am on Sunday.

As we rolled into the Sunshine State on Sunday, we were greeted with sunny skies and warm temperatures which stayed with us through most of the week. We found our way through the city of South Beach fairly easily, as it's set up in a grid fashion - much like a small Manhattan. This is a picture of the house apartment rented. It worked out so well for the four of us. Two bedrooms, huge bathroom, kitchen, balcony, just beautiful. The little place was nestled back away from the nightlife so nights and mornings were quiet for the most part, except for the occasional motorcycle.

We got so lucky with the location too because we were one block from the main club and restaurant strips, three blocks from the beach, and four blocks from the major shopping street, Lincoln Ave. (much to the boys dismay). I know I'm starting to sound like an advertisement for the rental agency, but it really was a nice little sanctuary.

We spent our days there mostly laying around on the beach and going out at night for dinner and then sometimes for drinks. We were pretty boring as far as typical spring breakers go. Dao spent a lot of time making phone calls for planning SGA's spring BBQ, Nick searched for jobs on the laptop, Tad finished a book for our Middle Eastern Politics class and I caught up on a semester's worth of sleep after getting used to 4-5 hours a night. It was glorious.

Admittedly, we did manage to have a little fun here and there but nothing too scandalous. Dao is a huge England soccer fan (futbol if you need me to "politically" correct) and one of the Irish pubs on Washington Ave. hosted the Chelsea/Tottenham and Manchester United/Bolton games on their big screens. Guinness in hand, we cheered alongside of a packed bar full of Europeans. It was hilarious.

We naturally went out for St. Patrick's Day but spent most of the night trying to find a place that offered cover under $20. I did manage to try out my first Irish car bomb (which I'm not going to post pictures of haha) . We also tried out the club Dream. I met up with some other Maryland friends on Thursday night for our last night out in Miami at Dream. Exactly how my friend Kathy managed to score us VIP access that night, I still don't entirely know, but it looks like she might bar tend for them over the summer.

A fantastic vacation that lasted way too short, as they all do. It broke my heart to drive back and watch the outside temp. on the dash drop slowly back to 44 degrees and to wipe sleet off the windshield. It was nice to be suspended from reality for a while, but now it's back to the daily grind. I still have two midterms to wrap up after all, but I am certainly starting to reconsider turning down that assignment desk job in West Palm Beach.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I miss back when the world was flat and I knew everything

I rolled into my parents house on the shore yesterday afternoon exhausted, sunburnt beyond a crispy bacon level and happy. It was just after being in the car for an 18-hour roadtrip with my boyfriend and two of my good friends down and back to South Beach, Florida for our last spring break ever. I made the extra two-hour drive down to the shore for Easter Sunday. I did think about leaving early this morning to come home, but then I realized I had pantries, pantries everywhere and not a morsel of food to eat. So back in the car I went.

When I got in the door after carefully maneuvering my huge duffle bag, beach chair, sandy towels and beach bag so not to bang the glass storm door against the big potted plant on our front stoop, I was greeted with hugs and kisses and "tell us all about it" from my parents and three dogs. My little sister Leslie was nowhere to be found.

"She's gone off with her friends, she'll be home soon. They're all coming here around 7," Mom answered in the same breath she asked me if I needed anything washed.
"Didn't she know I was coming home?"
"Yes, but you know how she is with her friends. You were the same way."

Was I? I distinctly remember dropping everything and everyone when my half brother was home for a few days from college when I was in high school. I was a little hurt that my 17-year old sister wasn't around to say hello.

When she did finally come to the house, Leslie came in through the front door wearing ripped-up jeans, an old t-shirt with an abercrombie pull-over and drawn-on tennis shoes. She had tips on her nails and thick black eye-liner smothered around beetle green sparkling eye shadow. Her wavy dark hair was tangled in a rat nest of curling hair products and bounced as she walked in with two high school boys in tow.

"Guys, these are my parents, that's my sister. The TV's in there. Hi everyone. Okay, let's go," she said grabbing one of my mom's brownies and hussling them out the door.

In typical Dad fashion, my father got up from where the three of us had been sitting at the kitchen table to say, "Hello guys, it's nice to meet you," sticking out his hand. In typical high school fashion, my sister rolled her eyes as the two frightened boys shook my Dad's hand mubbling "pleased to meet you too, sir."

"Hey Les, I'm home, did you want to say hi?" I piped up.
"Oh yeah, hi," she gave a little wave.
"I brought you something from Miami. It's on your bed. You should go look at it."
"Lauren, whatever, okay, god," she replied as she whipped out her cell phone and began texting frantically when "Lovin' is What I Got" by Sublime went off, and left for the TV room. Later, I could hear their conversations about cars, prom dates and if they should all head out to Dairy Queen for food before or after picking up another friend and riding around.

I bet not one of them knows who Barack Obama is and if you ask for their opinion of George Bush they would probably respond with "He's like gross and the president or whatever."

I envy where my sister is right now only because she still has YEARS of carefree-ness to waste away. She doesn't have to start looking at colleges until this summer, doesn't pay rent or any bills, only has a job working as a bus girl to have spending money on clothes and movies, and she knows everything about the tiny world she lives in. Oh, to be 17 again when the world was flat and I knew everything.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Did you hear that?

As many people both young and old have discovered Facebook and it's fabulous uses (for journalists especially - free photos of suspects!!!) they may also see how it's become clogged with useless groups and applications.

Except for one.

It's very rare there's a Facebook group I check every day to read the postings, but I discovered one last week that has continued to be a constant source of entertainment for me.

It's called "Overheard in CP." I'm not sure if this was started by The Diamondback feature or if the paper stole it off Facebook, but it's brilliant and hilarious and I'm sure there are millions of groups out there just like it, but since it's about an area I live in, it makes it all the better.

The group is for UMD students to post weird, disturbing or funny conversations they may accidentally "overhear" from listening to other college students while walking around College Park. The list includes people's cell phone conversations, drunk conversations, lunch line conversations -- and you'd be surprised how many students talk about the number of frat guys they've slept with in the lunch line.

Personally, I have not had the opportunity to contribute to the group's wall - which has over 500 postings to date from over 2,200 members - but it's definitely made me aware about what I say in public.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The competition is heating up...

No, this isn't a plug for Top Chef...

As graduation slowly rears it's ugly head for us senior journalism students, the usual semester whispers and gossip floats through the hallways of the jschool about who's doing what this summer. So do the slanted eyes and the fact checks and this time the conversations are more heated than ever. And use fewer words.

At Maryland, all journalism students must complete an internship that goes for at least 120 hours - roughly translated, that means working about two full days a week over the course of a semester while taking enough classes to maintain full student status: 12 credits.

Most students complete this class - JOUR399 - their junior or senior year and at that point, many students have moved out of the dorms and into off-campus apartments or houses in near-by neighborhoods. These are places where they have to keep paying the rent on a monthly basis and through the summer. It's because of this that most of us try to look for internships in the D.C. area and being that in my class alone there are over 100 people and about 5 internships available, the competition can be fierce and the tactics sneaky.

Everyone asks where you're applying, but out of fear of having someone else pull the rug out from underneath you, the typical answer is, "I'm not sure yet," or "I haven't really started looking, how about you?" The response is the same, "yeah me either, I'll get around to it at some point."

The reality is, most students began the mass resume distribution weeks ago but they're afraid that by telling their peers where they're applying, others will think "great idea" and go for that internship too. In on the flip-side, there is a whole social song-and-dance routine you do to sniff out who's applying for what and where have you did forget to apply to.

As I was sitting in the front hallway of the journalism school yesterday with a bunch of other seniors waiting for class to start, I realized those same conversations were creeping up once again only this time the tone was more serious and the details more vague.

Jack*: "Have you started applying for jobs yet?"
Julie*: "No, not really. You?"
Jack: "Umm, not really, no."

As Jack walked away, Julie pulled me and said, "have you heard anything about jobs down in West Palm Beach? I heard Jack got a call for reporting. I got one for producing. Find out for me, would you please? I really want to report, oh why did they like him more than me?"

Julie only approached me because I had said weeks ago I didn't want to go all the way down to Florida to work after graduation. Had I applied for the job, she wouldn't have brought it up at all to me but instead gone to great lengths to weave through the grape vine to hear what I had gotten a call back for.

It's amusing that we're so secretive and terrified that one person is better than another and if they have a job there's this deep background search as to why she got it over you, and tons of fretting over it. It seems like a lot of energy that could be channeled into simply saying "yeah, I got it" because I guarantee the other student will simply say "oh." Then maybe we could challenge that worrying energy into cooking delicious and ridiculous meals.

*names have been changed