Monday, November 29, 2010

An Adventure in Arizona

My bestie Ashley.
So I think you might have figured out by now (if you've read my previous posts) that I have a best friend and her name is Ashley (If you haven't read my previous posts, you should do that. Though you can wait until after you've finished reading this one first. It's not that important). We met while studying abroad in Germany last year. It was a tearful farewell that was only made bearable by the promise we made each other that we would see each other again in the near future.

I decided to make good on my promise this past weekend. I had a full week off from school, so I decided to fly to Arizona and spent the weekend before Thanksgiving with my bestie. We made so many plans for that weekend. We were going to make music, go to open mic night, go to this little western town called Rawhide, see Harry Potter, etc. We were going to make up for the lost time that being in different parts of the country forced us to miss. I skipped classes the Friday before so I would be extremely sure that I wouldn't miss my flight due to tardiness (I fly standby, so it's extremely important to get there in plenty of time, though admittedly getting there 4 hours early is quite excessive. But hey, I was excited and paranoid). I spent the hours attempting to write a blog, do my homework, and texting Ashley every 5 minutes or so with a countdown. The time to board came...and went. At this point, I'm getting a little nervous, because a cancelled flight = Nina not getting to fly at all in the near future. Fortunately, it was only delayed for about an hour or so, but it was pretty touch and go for a while there (not really, but my nerves were shot. I hadn't been this nervous about making a flight in a long, long time). I was the last person cleared, but I was allowed on.

This is the first moment after seeing each other again after 4 months.
The flight there was mostly uneventful. I had to sit beside a 9 year old who had entirely too much energy. He kept asking for my things, such as my bracelets, my pens, and even my credit card. I put on my headphones and that little problem went away.

My first In and Out experience!
I finally arrived in Phoenix. I've never been to Arizona before, so I had no idea what the layout of the airport was, or where Ashley was waiting for me. I should've known that she would find a way to be easily recognized. She had a sign that said "Tits McGee" and then bear tackled me (ok, so you should probably know that one of my internet handles is indeed Tits McGee. It's funny. You should laugh now). We talked as if we'd never left each other in July. There was no awkwardness; just awesomeness. As we left the airport, we both realized we were starving. My roommates made me promise to go to In and Out Burger at least once while I was there, so I suggested going there. It was everything that everyone said it would be: delicious.

Ashley out on the town!
We arrived at her and her family's house, and I got to meet the furry members of her family. There are currently 4 kitties living under their roof: Elwood and Spaz, her grandparents' cats, Bagheera, her cat, and the cutest itty bitty little kitten I've ever seen whose name was determined Oliver my second day in Arizona. Ashley wanted to name him King Louie as it would fit in with the Jungle Book theme she's currently using, but she was vetoed. But I digress... After arriving at her house, we quickly changed clothes and headed back out. I got to see another friend from Heidelberg (my first friend Nicole, who actually introduced me to Ashley, as you can read here.), as well as meet Ashley's good friend Noelle (poor Ashley. She had to remember to say the right name between Nicole, Nina, and Noelle). I got to see a bit of Tempe nightlife, and discover how really similar American college campus areas really are.

The most important part of my trip out there was the music. Ashley and I are both musicians: she plays guitar and sings (very well, I might add), and I play flute and sing (not as well, I might add). Our biggest bonding experience overseas was that we created music together, or "made music babies" as Ashley likes to say. We even wrote a song called "Depths of Desperation". This was our opportunity to record a good version of it, put it on youtube, and possibly write another song. We spent most of Saturday night trying to get a good video of our best songs. Sunday we decided that we should actually write out a full second song. It turns out that we write really awesome, but really depressing songs. The second song is called "The Train to Heidelberg", and I'll let you make of it what you will.

Our second song, "The Train to Heidelberg":

A cover of Within Temptation's "Utopia":

Our original song, "Depths of Desperation":

This one we did just for fun: :D

So, Monday rolls around, and I have to wake up at go to school. I must've upset some karma god somewhere... I kid, I kid. It actually wasn't that bad. I got to experience the Phoenix light rail system, got to see how easy classes are at ASU in comparison to UGA...All in all, a worthwhile experience. Between her classes, we went back to her house and hammered out the finals bumps and hiccups in our new song. Then we headed back to campus for her play rehearsal. I got to see the other exchange student, Marshall, in that class (I'd only met him once before but he's a pretty cool guy). As I'm also in a German theater class, it was interesting to compare and contrast the two. I also realized at this point how much more difficult the classes I'm taking really are in comparison to hers :p

The "big event" of my visit was open mic night at this place called the Yucca Tap Bar. It was a cute little bar, and a surprising amount of people were there to perform. Ashley and I were both nervous when we went up there. I got teased a little because I play the flute, but it was all in good fun. I think we did a good job: we both messed up, but that's the beauty of playing two original songs and one cover that nobody's ever heard before: no one could tell. After performing, Ashley, two of her friends (Jared and Sheldon) and I all went to IHOP, where I proceeded to show these two people who had only heard stories of how "infamous" I am, just how "infamous" I really was. We finally got back to Ashley's house at around 2, and we didn't go to bed until 3.
Ashley and I on stage at open mic night.

The next day was a very sad day: the day I was supposed to leave. Ashley had been making little jokes during my whole visit about how I had to stay forever and that I wasn't allowed to leave. I laughed, and secretly wished that that could really happen. Where before I was anxious that I wouldn't make the flight, I was now hoping that a flight somewhere had been cancelled and that there was no way that I could fly out, but once again, the strange karma god was smiling down on me. When I checked the flights, it was clear that there was no way I wasn't getting on that flight. I sighed. Then, I did one of the more rash things I've ever done: I had my ticket changed to very early Thursday morning (I'm talking like arrived in ATL at 6am early). Needless to say, everyone was ecstatic about that (well, my mom wasn't, and I did feel bad about that...but that's another story for a later date).

So, I'm going to backtrack for just a minute to Sunday night. We decided it would be a good idea to have a photo shoot. I brought some costumes along, and we took turns getting dressed up and being silly and having a good time. Tuesday night, with our borrowed time, we decided that we needed another, smaller photo shoot, because we forgot to take pictures of us with our instruments. We also decided to edit and release our music videos for youtube (which took a lot longer than you'd think). The next day, we went to class again (I went to classes 3 days out of a week where I wasn't supposed to have any classes...tell me how that's fair...), and then I got to experience Arizona mall life. Surprisingly enough, that's the same no matter where you go: Make fun of the scene kids, have fun with all the naughty things in Spencer's, ogle $1600 puppies, melt at the smell of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, etc. Then we headed back to Ashley's place for the last time.

Ashley and her mom walked me to the security gate. Ashley and I hugged goodbye, though it wasn't nearly as hard this time as it was the first time, because now I knew we'd be able to see each other again somehow. We (well, at least Ashley and I) were hoping that the flight (which while it looked really empty when I first changed my flight, it suddenly looked very full as I actually arrived at the gate) would be too full and I'd be granted a few more hours. But luck wasn't with us this time. I was once again one of the last people to be called up with an available seat, and I finally began my journey home. I sat beside a very uncomfortable man who looked none-too-happy that I was reading instead of sleeping (I'm nocturnal, so I wasn't sleepy yet; I finally got sleepy right as we landed). I arrived in Atlanta, picked up my bags in record time, drove home, said hi to mom, and then plopped in my bed for a few hours. My vacation wasn't over yet. Thanksgiving was just a couple of hours away...

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