Monthly Archives: December 2014

St. Augustine: A Road Trip!

Part of knowing I’ll be living outside the country in less than a year is realizing how little of the US – even Florida – I’ve actually seen.  I’ve never been to the Keys, only spent a night in a hotel in Miami (without really seeing any of it), and, until Friday, had never been to St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the United States.  Sure, people from New England brag about how long their families have been there, and yes, I am one of those people.  But then you think about when the Spanish landed here – 1513 – and the landing at Jamestown seems modern by comparison.

Aside from being a tremendous historical landmark, St. Augustine is a bit of a tourist town.  The Fountain of Youth is a $12 park that would look tacky at Disney World and everything is slightly overpriced.  Still, it’s interesting to see how they’ve taken the older part of “downtown” St. Augustine with it’s Spanish-style buildings and spruced them up for tourists.  A lot of the stores are in old homes, with creaky wood floors and Persian rugs.  Despite being reminded at every turn that you’re a tourist, you can get a sense of what it might have been like for someone to walk the brick streets years ago.

St. Augustine would make a great stop on a longer trip, especially for a history buff.  Just be prepared to pay (the Castillo de San Marcos, for instance, is considered a national park) and be wary of fly-by-night pseudo-museums.  It’s a good place to walk around and take in the history.

And now, because I’m sure you’re anxious, I’ve selected a few pictures to share… prepare to be underwhelmed (by my lackluster photography skills).


Failure to selfie


View from Castillo de San Marco into Matanzas Bay






Casa Monica, hotel


Flagler College, once a hotel













Into the Woods


When my brother got two tickets to see an advanced screening of Into the Woods and offered the second to me, I was shocked. I mean, I talk about it nonstop and squeal every time the commercial plays on TV, but who knew teenage boys could be so perceptive?

I should start off by saying I have never seen the original musical performed on stage, unless you count a college theater class on a TV the size of a postage stamp and sounded like all of the actors were underwater – and only the second half.  I picked up the cast recording a few months before it was announced that a movie was being made and fell in love immediately. (I should also warn you I’m not a professional critic but I fear that will become apparent by the end of this post.)

The casting is perfect in an “I couldn’t quite believe it until I saw it” kind of way.  They were able to preserve most of the songs, although my favorite, “No One is Alone”, got chopped up a little weirdly.  The “Agony” sequence was magical and perfect and everything I had hoped for.  Chris Pine should have been in a 90’s boy band.  And Emily Blunt can sing!  I also have to give a shout out to my girl, Anna Kendrick, for simultaneously being from Maine and kicking musical ass.

This is one of the few films I’ve seen this year that I genuinely loved and I’ll probably be buying it as soon as it comes out on DVD.  If you get a chance to see Into the Woods, take it.  If you don’t, make it!

Into the Woods comes out in the US on Christmas Day.

I’m off to St. Augustine today.  Hopefully I’ll get some lovely pictures to share!




Denali National Park

I’ve always wanted to travel.  When I was a kid we took an annual trip to Florida (yes, where I currently live) and the occasional trip to see relatives in Ohio.  Other than that, we stayed in Maine most of the time.  I guess that’s because most of my family lived in Maine, too.  In college, I had neither the money nor time to really go anywhere, although I took a few school-funded trips to Washington, D.C. that I really enjoyed (aside from the conferences, which were what we were ostensibly there to attend).

After college, my imagination ran wild.  I lived in Alaska, an experience in itself, but I never went anywhere else.  I daydreamed about all of the places I wanted to visit, although they seemed improbable.


Central Park, New York City

Now I’m staring down a move to England.  I mean, if I just stay there for 2 years, I’ll be fulfilling about a quarter of all my travel lusts.  But just knowing I’ll be there, so close to the rest of Europe, I have to take full advantage of proximity and cheap transport.

I’ve gone a little crazy on my Travel Pinterest board recently.  It’s helped with waiting, although 2 weeks into a 9-month wait is hardly the definition of stir-crazy.  The hardest part isn’t just waiting, it’s waiting with nothing to do.  So I’ve given myself something to do: plan my trips.

Feel free to take a look at my board and give me suggestions!  I want to know about cool, little-known places to go and great ways to meet locals.


An Admission (of Awesomeness!)

The Application

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my school has one of the least grueling applications for screenwriting out of the many programs in London.  A lot of the other programs required a long and short writing sample, synopsis for several other screenplays, and the soul of my firstborn child.  Wait, maybe I’m thinking of something else…

Anyway, the hardest part for me was squeezing my original 600-word personal statement into 200 words.  This took me hours of hair-pulling and six different iterations.  I wanted to explain everything in my life that led me to pursue screenwriting, but I kept it to the things that best suited me for the program and why I chose that particular program.  In the end, it was mostly just a test in brevity.  Some people are good at being brief.  Writers are not.

The other part of my application, aside from the actual form with my name and such, was my writing sample, which had a word or page limit, depending on the program.  Since I was applying for script writing mine had a page limit.  I had to submit a 20-page sample, which was a piece of cake once I cut one of my pieces down to the right length and had a couple people edit it.

Okay, I SAY it was a piece of cake, but as someone who has only taken a couple of screenwriting classes and rarely lets anyone read my screenplays, it wasn’t easy.  First I edited it – about three times.  Then I finally sucked it up and had my parents and a friend read it.  Their notes were so minor that I felt sure I was missing something (call it creative writing workshop paranoia).  Nevertheless, I read it over a couple more times, felt satisfied, and submitted it.

The Interview

I only waited about three weeks for a response.  I got an e-mail from the director of the program offering me a phone interview.  I had a few days to prepare and spent hours looking up what kind of questions are asked in postgraduate interviews.  I’m forgetful on a good day and a space cadet when I’m nervous, so I made a list of notes about key things.  In the end, I probably over prepared a little bit.  I expected them to ask questions about my strengths and weaknesses as a student, an experience where I worked as part of a team, or why I wanted to move to London.

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Zee notes

My interview was held the day before Thanksgiving.  I talked about the writing sample I had submitted, as well as my favorite playwrights and screenwriters (the notes came in handy here).  Without specifically giving away other things I was asked, I think the ultimate purpose of the interview just to make sure I’m serious about screenwriting and didn’t just wake up one morning and decide I wanted to write movies.

The Acceptance

At the end of the interview I was told I should hear back from them in a week.  I settled in and tried not to dwell on it too much.  I even told my dad that it was going to be the longest week of my life.  Not even twenty-four hours later, as I was preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I receiving an e-mail offering me a place in the program.  Of course, once the stress of getting accepted has abated, you start realizing all of the other things you have to do: visa, financing, housing…