A Weekend in Sutton, Quebec

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little thrown by the cultural shift I felt upon arriving in Sutton, Quebec a few weeks ago. From the French signs to the quaint farms along the main road, I felt like I had just stepped off a transatlantic flight rather than a two-hour road trip from the Burlington, VT airport. It really didn’t help that I had just returned from a trip to California the night before. Not exactly the best travel decision on my part.

Once the momentary culture shock wore off, I fell in love with this little town. It’s a great place for a weekend getaway if you live on the east coast. The beautiful Mont Sutton is open year-round for skiing, hiking, camping, and more. My parents and I hiked up to Lac Spruce on our second day in town and somehow managed to beat the rain. The trail was challenging for someone like me who hasn’t hiked in a while, but definitely worth it. I mean, look at those photos. That’s a lot of green, y’all.

If you’re not into the whole nature thing, Sutton still has a lot to offer. There are a bunch of cute shops and galleries full of fantastic local art. There are also plenty of dining options, from cafes to pubs to more high-end stuff. I personally recommend Bistro Beaux Lieux. The food was fantastic and we had an awesome view of the Sutton sunset.

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IMG_3098We stayed a few minutes out of town at the Auberge & Spa West Brome, which happens to have it’s own farm. It’s really cool to see a hotel growing its own food and I just had to capture the symmetry of the tomato garden. And of course I couldn’t leave without a few shots of the cows. Man, I love cows.

P.S. Oh hey, I have a new blog title and theme. Let me know what you think of it!

The Road to Monterey

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I may have traveled a lot over the past four years but my “vacations” have been few and far between. You know, vacations? Those trips where you have no responsibilities and the primary goal is relaxation? Ringing any bells? Probably not.

Prior to last September, my folks and I hadn’t taken a proper family vacation since 2011. We traveled a lot over those two years, but those trips were always riddled with work meetings and looming schoolwork deadlines, and they were always far too short. When I decided to go out to LA for the summer, my parents decided it was time for another Dow family road trip. I had three weeks between the end of my program and the start of my senior year, so we took one of those weeks to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to San Francisco.

One of my favorite stretches of the journey was our drive between Ojai to Monterey. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and to check out the city. We were only there for two hours, but it was just enough time for me to fall in love with the town. I also may have made some seagull friends.

After that, it was on to Big Sur. Aquatic mammals are kind of my thing, so I just about died when we pulled over to see a bunch of elephant seals just chilling on the beach. I broke out the macro lens and caught a few of these guys in action. We hit Big Sur just as the sun was setting so unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a lot of time in the forrest. It did make for some excellent photos, though.

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Senior Project | One Draft Down, Many More to Go

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There is no better feeling than completing a draft of a project. Even if you know it’s going to need some a lot of revision, it feels really nice to just finish something. I now have a full first draft of my pilot. It may be a hot mess, but it exists in some completed form, and it’s much better than the tons of abandoned projects sitting on my hard drive at the moment.

Of course, I’m nowhere near finished with my senior project. I have another episode to write, then a ton of revisions to do between now and June. Despite the amount of work ahead of me, finishing this draft has really motivated me to keep working to make this project something special. This idea has moved past the brain crack stage and into something real that I can actually show people (other than my professor). Whether or not I actually want to do that remains to be seen.

Something I’ve found out in this last writing push is that I can actually write to music with lyrics. Usually I find music with lyrics too involving and I get sucked into the story of the song. This time around, I kind of tailored my playlist around the content of my script. I used those lyrics as inspiration for certain scenes or as a way to better get into the heads of my characters. One song I’ve been listening to a lot is “The Woodpile” by Frightened Rabbit. I had it more or less on repeat as I wrote the last scene of the pilot between my main character, Lily, and her overwhelmed boyfriend Jim. I don’t want to give to much away (ugh, I know, I hate me, too) but the song is kind of perfect for that scene. Who needs a music supervisor when you have Spotify? Just kidding, music supervisors are brilliant humans. I’ve included a Spotify playlist of some of the (non-embarrassing) songs on my writing playlist if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

I also strayed a little from my treatment in this draft. I made certain characters more pivotal to the plot, which means I may need to go back to the drawing board for this next episode. Sure, it’s more work, but I feel a lot better about where the story is going than I did when I wrote the first treatments. Things are looking up!

Senior Project | A Balancing Act

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Sometimes I look at my friends and wonder how they’re still upright. They do so much more than I do and I feel like I’m about to collapse into a pile of creative project-induced stress. This could also be because I’m fighting off a cold and I walked a 12k for the first time in…a while yesterday, but I do have a lot going on at the moment. On top of my senior project (which should be commanding most of my attention), I have 18 credits worth of classes, a play opening in a week and a half, and my own creative endeavors to worry about. Oh, and my social life and health. Those are important, too.

What I think may be the key to doing my best work on this is blocking out time every day in my crazy schedule to put all the other distractions away and just spend some time with my story. The first deadline for my project was last Friday and I’ll be honest with you all, I was not prepared. I came up with a pretty detailed treatment and bio for my main protagonist, but I definitely need to spend some time creating the rest of the ensemble and tweaking my treatment before I’m ready to write. Luckily, I have a little more time for development.

“Why does that document you’re working on look more like an English essay than an actual script?” you’re probably [not] wondering. That, my friends, is a treatment. A treatment is essentially a detailed outline in prose of the script. I find them to be very helpful because they help me figure out what I want the tone of each scene to be, which doesn’t always come across in an outline. Prose helps me fully flesh out each moment before I actually write it. Plus, I enjoy writing prose. Makes me feel smarter or something.

My goal or this week is to keep working on my characters and outline my second episode. It’s going to be a tough week as I’m just a few days away from Godzilla’s tech weekend, but if my crazy friends can still do all that they do, I think I can make it out alive. As a wise Tumblr post once said, “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce.”

P.S. If you’re in Philly, come see Godzilla. We open on Halloween!

Los Angeles | Rose Bowl Flea Market

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I have yet to meet an Angeleno who isn’t totally obsessed with the Rose Bowl Flea Market. One Sunday a month, people from all over Southern California descend on the parking lot of the historic stadium to shop for antiques, furniture, vintage clothes, handmade soaps, and more for a few hours in the sweltering Pasadena sun. The sheer volume of items available is totally overwhelming and I barely scratched the surface during this trip in August. Next time I have to bring a flea market pro with me. I’ve met some people who’ve furnished most of their homes with stuff from this particular flea market. I want to hang out with them.

Since I couldn’t exactly ship an entire couch back to Philly, I settled for some smaller items this first time around. I walked away with a maxi skirt that was missing a button and a pink flask engraved with a tennis racket. You can take the girl out of the Main Line, but you can’t take the Main Line out of the girl.

If (or when) I move to LA, I will probably go back for that couch. And a headboard. And a samurai sword. Basically I will buy all the things. The Rose Bowl Flea Market is just that awesome.

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Los Angeles | An Afternoon at the Getty

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I have a feeling I’ll be doing a few of these LA photo dumps in the near future seeing as I have a ton of photos and adventures to share with you all. A few weeks ago I went to the Getty Museum, one of the largest collections of art in the city. They have pieces from every area of the world and period in history, so you’ll probably see something you like. I was particularly excited to see Van Gogh’s Irises, pictured above. The campus itself is stunning and admission is free, so even if you don’t like art it’s a fun trip. We hung out for a bit in the gardens before we realized that the sun was ridiculous. The Getty sits up in the hills so it has some amazing views of the entire city. If it wasn’t so smoggy we could probably have seen the ocean. Or at least downtown. I would totally go back to the Getty whenever I’m back in LA. I think we missed a few rooms on our first go-around and I obviously need to see EVERYTHING.

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Before and After the Storm

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My grandparents live on Long Island, just a fifteen minute drive from the beach. It takes us about four hours to get there from Philadelphia, but my parents and I try to make the trip as often as we can. We had the great luck of planning our latest trip the weekend before Hurricane Sandy hit, devastating most of the greater New York area. Though we were worried about the storm hitting before we could make it back to Philly in one piece, we decided to take a pretty ballsy walk on the beach as the storm was coming in. The photos I took that morning don’t really do justice to the force we could feel just walking near the waves, but I felt like sharing them anyway. Mother Nature is a scary, scary lady. It’s incredible to think that these waters would go on to nearly drown entire neighborhoods just a few hours later. The people of New York, New Jersey and all the areas affected are strong, though, and they will be back on their feet and better than ever soon enough.

For the record, my grandparents (and other Long Island-dwelling family members) made it out of the storm relatively unscathed and I am incredibly thankful for that.

If you’d like to contribute to the relief efforts, check out some of these links for more information:

The Robin Hood Foundation:
http://www.robinhood.org/rhsandy

New York Cares:
http://newyorkcares.org/volunteer/disaster/

Jersey Cares:
http://www.jerseycares.org/jc_sandy_relief

Occupy Sandy:
http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/
http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/wedding-registries/

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