pictures

confession: i like autumn.

Morton Arboretum 2013

I know, I know. I’m always going on about summer and spring. And my dislike of winter is no secret—but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about how much I like autumn. At least the part before it starts feeling like winter!

I’m not one of those people obsessed with pumpkin anything, and that includes PSLs (sorry Kat). I don’t like pumpkin flavor at all, nor do I care for the scent much. But I think they’re pretty and I could look at them all day!

Pumpkins!

My autumn flavor of choice is apple! Apple pie, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple crisp. Baked apples. Mmmm warm apples with cinnamon.

I like the leaves changing colors on the trees. Especially the bright reds, oranges, and golds. If we’re lucky enough to get that combined with one of autumn’s giant blue skies? Perfection.

Morton Arboretum 2013

Autumn in The Morton Arboretum

I like the smell of the furnace when it kicks on at the start of the cool season. I like wearing the thin sweaters, and scarves, and boots, and my jean jacket. I like anticipating the trifecta of holidays, and my birthday and Aidan’s birthday.

Blackmore’s Night is autumn-sounding music for me, and I’ve been listening to them over and over and over.

I’m actually looking forward to hunkering down, wrapping myself in a billion blankets, and wearing my favorite Mickey Mouse beanie. I know I hunker down a lot anyway, but now it feels OK to do so.

Autumn is the season of death, but in some ways, right now, I’m feeling renewed. I’m going to try to hold on to that.

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fall goals.

gah

Yesterday, I was at Magic Kingdom, fresh off the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and eating corn dogs and fries at Casey’s Corner. Today I’m in my living room, trying to shake off day-after-vacation disorientation and feeling sad because Aidan goes back to Ohio tonight. He starts 8th grade tomorrow and he’s officially my favorite person in the whole Universe.

And tomorrow starts my work week (I hope my inbox isn’t too much of a mess) and hopefully I can start jumping on some goals and to dos I’d like to accomplish before 2016 is out.

To Dos
– get car jumped
– get emissions test
– register for Anderson’s YA Lit Conference
– massive laundry
– various medical things
– trip report blog post
– process photos

Goals
– write a short story
– read at least six new books (to make my goal of 15 for the year)
– start writing a new novel
– go to yoga at least 10 times
– pay off two credit cards
– visit the arboretum (I missed it last year)

Hmm. The lists seemed so much bigger when I was making them in my head. I guess six goals to finish out the year isn’t too overwhelming, though, so that’s a good thing.

Now I’m going to relax and read before heading to dinner and the airport with Aidan.

Summer always goes too fast. But at least I like fall. :)

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disney listicles.

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At the time of the writing of *this* sentence, Disney o’clock is this far away:

countdown

So CLOSE!!!

I booked this upcoming Disney World trip in February. Booking that far in advance (countdown 100+ days!), always makes it seem like an abstract thing. So long away, right? An entire season had to go by , and days of everyday life, work, etc. Even though there were these milestones to look forward to:

01. Booking dining reservations at 180 days (we booked with fewer than 180 days to go, so we were able to book dining right away!)
02. MagicBand customization
03. Booking FastPass+ attractions at 60 days
04. Online resort check-in at 60 days
05. Order grocery delivery (doing it at 60 days gives a slight discount!)
06. Payment deadline at 45 or 30 days (I’m not sure which–I always thought it was 45 but my travel agent, the amazing Lauren at Magical Travel–gave me a due date of 30 days before. I paid a week before that, though, cause nerd)
07. Pre-order Be Our Guest meal (we have an ADR for lunch!)
08. Arrival of MagicBand and travel documents
09. Arrival of Magical Express stuff
10. Arrival of special goodies from Lauren (seriously, use her, and then tell her I sent you)

So now that the trip is so close, I have that familiar feeling of angst I always get before traveling (this happens every time, no matter if we’re driving to Ohio to visit Mommy or if I’m flying somewhere epic like freaking Scotland), because:

01. I want everything to go right! I have travel nightmares often, like losing my passport, or missing my flights, or actually being at Disney World and not actually going into the parks or having my camera or riding any rides/enjoying the attractions.
02. When we flew to Disney in the summer of 2013, we were delayed several hours because of a mandated pilot rest period. Look, I am all for pilots getting enough rest. It’s important. But this was during the Airtran-Southwest merger and a lot of stuff was just not on. And watching the two flights after us board and leave on time, while we had to sit there for three hours (after having arrived two hours early, like you do) was super frustrating. And then, when Aidan and I flew out last year, we were pulling away from the gate when a big storm blew through and grounded us for at least two hours. So, I’m praying for no delays this time. (It’s also why I stopped making park plans on arrival day. It’s usually more expensive, and I’m usually too tired and delirious to enjoy it. It’s better to arrive the night before, take it easy, and wake up super early the next day!)

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And of course, to do lists are key when planning a Disney trip. Here’s all the last minute Disney prep I’ve done so far:

01. Hair salon
02. Mani/pedi
03. Preliminary packing
04. Incidental purchases, such as sunscreen, snacks, etc.
05. Made lists
06. Put a bunch of stuff aside to pack later when I’m not feeling so lazy/feeling more organized (I’d better get on the ball)
07. Made more lists
08. OOO message on work email
09. Travel playlists
10. Check weather

And here’s the stuff I need to do:

01. Pack the rest of the things
02. Charge all the things
03. Make sure Aidan packs all of his things
04. Send availability messages to freelance clients
05. Get $$$$ stuff in order
06. Try not to stress
07. Try to relax
08. Watch Disney Vacation Planning video(s)
09. Listen to Disney music
10. HAVE FUN!

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{aidan’s gonna be so much taller than me in this year’s photos}

I’m so excited to be there! There’s so much I’m looking forward to!

1. Riding the Magical Express
2. Eating at Garden Grill and Liberty Tree Tavern and Be Our Guest
3. Riding the PeopleMover, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean (it was closed for refurbishment last time I was there), Soarin’, Toy Story Midway Mania (1st time in years), Expedition Everest just to name a few
4. Seeing the new castle show in Magic Kingdom
5. Eating a chocolate dipped pineapple, and churros
6. Staying in a deluxe resort for the first time!!!!
7. The warm weather ;)
8. Getting exercise and walking
9. Buying souvenears!
10. Spending time with some of my favorite people ever: Mommy, Janae, Terri, Geneva, and of course Aidan

And I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) turning my brain off. Of city life. Of stinky kitty cats. Trying to decide on dinner when Adam’s not here. Of everything writing, editing, copy editing, and publishing for a while. Just enjoy 100% free time. (Brainstorming is always OK though.)

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I’ll be sure to write all about it when I’m back! Now it’s time to go do all the pre-Disney trip things! And also bug Janae on text and/or twitter to tell her how excited I am!

See ya real soon!

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poor neglected blog.

Grounds of Dalvey House

It’s been a long time. I keep doing this. Sorry. The good thing is that I don’t have a huge following knocking down my door demanding updates. The bad thing is that I don’t have a huge following knocking down my door demanding updates.

Yet. *evil grin*

Anyway. You know me. Bullet points and gumdrops, so here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to since that amazing time in New York City where I got to talk to Theo James and he talked back to me for 45 seconds.

· planned my 2016 Disney trip! I’m going with my mom, Aidan, my aunt Geneva, and my cousins Janae and Terri. Janae, Terri, and Geneva have not been and Janae (who just became the first person in our family to get a Master’s degree) is beside herself. My mom is super excited to ride Soarin’ again (even though it’s all new), and Aidan and I are excited in general because it’s DISNEY WORLD.

· worked on novel revisions, and got amazing feedback from a few industry professionals. Just waiting on one final sign off before I take next steps. Eeeek!

· started watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix and fell in love with the first season. Having a harder time with Season 2, with this Frankenstein stuff. I want fairy tales, not sci-fi, so we’ll see where it goes. My favorite characters are Regina and Rumple. LOVE them. Especially Regina. Everything about her. The way she speaks and carries herself. Her style, with the black and white crisp suits. Her makeup and hair. Her decor. I live for her episodes.

· which leads me to this point: I think I’m starting to like villains better than the people I’m supposed to be rooting for? I popped in a DVD of the show Popular the other night and was fangirling like crazy over Nicole, when I used to be obsessed with Sam. What is this madness? Truly, I always thought the people who rooted for villains were just doing it to be subversive, but I don’t know. There’s something appealing about the bad guys and their complexities. It started with Snape, then the movie Maleficent where I fell for her too. Interesting.

· saw the movie WAR ON EVERYTHING and loved the villain in that too BUT I suspect that had a lot more to do with the villain being played by Theo James (and the 45+ second shirtless scene of him walking through his mansion) than character study, but then again, I remember being fascinated by his motives and his mental process and what drove him to be the way he was. I mean, you all know I love the man’s acting. He gives his characters such nuance and he did an awesome job in that movie.

Michael Pena, one of the stars of the movie, was at the showing. People were making a big deal. I asked a publicist if Theo was coming and he said no, but he’d tried to get them all. I wonder if it would have been nearly as laid back if Theo was there. I would hope so. He’s not that well known outside of Divergent circles and hardcore fans, which is a shame but which is also nice.

· the biggest thing though was that I WENT ABROAD! I finally left United States soil and went to the United Kingdom, where I spent a lovely week in a Scottish mansion drinking endless cups of tea, hanging with writer friends, listening to gorgeous accents, eating loads of snacks, being cold almost all the time, sleeping in a room fit for a princess, and writing and exploring. It was amazing and I am so proud that I did it. I was so nervous but I did it, and I cannot wait to get back over there.

Grounds at Cawdor Castle and me!
me in the wall garden at Cawdor Castle, Scotland

Dalvey House
Dalvey House, my home for that week

Dalvey House - Group Photo
These AMAZING and GORGEOUS people

Inside Dalvey House
Where I slept every night. I KNOW RIGHT?

Grounds of Dalvey House
So. Many. Flowers. *heart eyes*

Cawdor Castle
Cawdor Castle

And there are more pictures where those came from! [LINK]

· thought I missed the lilac bloom this year because of Scotland, but nope! They waited for me! And they smell heavenly. :)

· preparing for Aidan’s summer vacation! He arrives June 2 and I am so excited. Cannot wait to see that guy. His room is a hot mess. There is one part I will fix up, but the LEGOs all over the floor? Not. Touching.

· finally listened to Hamilton all the way through and I get it. It’s amazing and it gets stuck in my head like RENT. One of these days I’ll see it. Maybe when the demand dies down a bit. That could be ten years, though. :O

And I think that’s all for now. :) Probably the next time I write will be post Disney trip, ha ha. Till next time!

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my experience at the aol build and allegiant world premiere.

Copyright 2016 Ronica Davis - Theologians.net

I blog for The THEOlogians, a news site for Theo James, who is my absolute favorite actor. Last week, I got to fly to New York City to attend the World Premiere of The Divergent Series: Allegiant, attend the Red (actually BLACK) Carpet, and was a guest at the after party. Theo is a lead in the movie, and he plays the character Four. In addition, I managed to get a ticket to the AOL Build session featuring Theo James and Shailene Woodley. Below is an account of both experiences!

AOL BUILD

I woke up Monday morning, my stomach in knots. I didn’t know what to expect, and I’d never navigated the MTA on my own before, so my main concern was making sure I got there on time without getting lost! Turns out I didn’t even need to worry about that. The trains weren’t running right, so I had to call an Uber. Then traffic was a hot mess. I was very nervous, but I got there in plenty of time.

Check-in was easy. I just showed my confirmation and they let me up to the fourth floor. I was disappointed to see that all the seats in the front and second row were taken. I’d managed to find a seat in the third row, next to one of the employees, and I was OK with that. Much better than the back! I’m short, so the closer to the front the better!

I hadn’t known I could take photos, so I didn’t bring my really good camera. As a result, the image quality on my photos isn’t up to my usual standards. I also hadn’t known I could take video. Turns out that my seat was right next to where they walk in, which was a bonus I did not expect. You may have seen the video on Instagram.

A video posted by Ronni (@lilrongal) on

Before they walked in, a guy came in to warm up the crowd. I was enthusiastic and they took note of that, and it came in handy later. The interview was fun and enjoyable. I forgot there were cameras on as Theo and Shailene charmed the interviewer and the audience. When it came time for questions, the AOL employee next to me made sure to flag down the question guy for me. He asked me what my question was, then he had to get approval. Turns out the publicists didn’t like my first question. Luckily, I had another one prepared, and they liked the second question, which is the one I asked on camera.

Ronni asks Theo a question (AOL Build)

It was awesome. Very very awesome. To have Theo look right at me, and then talk directly to me was a dream come true. Wow. I’ve only been wanting to meet him for years…YEARS…and even though this wasn’t exactly a meeting, for that moment, he knew I was alive and acknowledged me. Not only that, but I am genuinely curious as to what he will come up as a writer and a producer, and I think (hope) he picked up on that. He’s so smart and funny, I think anything he does will be brilliant.

I floated all the way back to my hotel!

ALLEGIANT PREMIERE

I'm at the Black Carpet! OMG!
I’m at the Black Carpet! OMG!

Stomach still in knots, I made my way over to the AMC Lincoln Square at about 4:30 p.m. Official check in was 5:45 p.m., but I wanted to get in line early. It was drizzling outside, and one of the guards tried to tell me to go back home because the lobby was too crowded—there was also a My Big Fat Greek Wedding event going on. (HA, fat chance) I found a little hidden niche with some other bloggers and hung with them as we were escorted to a line until time to check in. Talking to them helped calm my nerves and my stomach.

Soon, a representative called us over and handed out envelopes with the movie ticket and after party ticket, as well as a shiny blue wristband that allowed us entrance to the tent and fan pen. My packet was the last in the bunch, so I was nervous until she finally pulled it out! We were allowed to walk on the black carpet and take photos with the posters, but I elected to secure my spot in the front row of the fan pen instead.

 Hanging in the Fan Pen with Stacy!
Hanging in the Fan Pen with Stacy!

Then we waited. People slowly trickled in, press members, VIPs, the Damn Daniel guys, random celebrities I didn’t recognize, or people I recognized but couldn’t place, and the like. I could see camera flashes outside the door, some people thought it was lightning, but I knew that meant someone cool was coming in. The first actor in was Jeff Daniels, who did an interview and took photos. Then Keiynan Lonsdale came in with his plus one, Jordan Rodrigues, who he’d worked with on Dance Academy. (I had a full on fangirl meltdown at this point, because I am a huge fan of Dance Academy and Jordan Rodrigues played my favorite character!) I gave him a flirty wave as he stood on the carpet, and he gave me a small smile and waved back. Night made and I hadn’t even seen Theo yet.

Bill Skarsgård (Matthew) came in and I snapped photos of him. He came right to the fan pen and took a selfie with me. He was so funny. He’s so tall and his eyes are gorgeous. Nadia Hilker (Nita) spent a lot of time with fans, signing autographs and taking selfies and seemed like she was having a blast.

Nadia Hilker with Ronni from @TheologiansNet at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

Bill Skarsgård and Ronni from @TheologiansNet #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

The next several minutes were a blur. The carpet got very crowded. There were loads of children all dressed up. There were lots of press and publicists and family members and friends, and it got loud. I saw Naomi Watts (Evelyn) posing for press, and Divergent author Veronica Roth stopped by the fan pen for a split second. I was next to Stacy from Page Turners (who I’d already known because of all the book events we both attend, and also I won a contest from her years ago), and she and Veronica are friends. Veronica made a regretful face at Stacy before being pulled away by industry folks. I managed to get a selfie with Ansel Elgort (Caleb), and I totally photobombed a photo with Miles Teller (Peter).

Miles Teller & Folks!
Miles Teller & Folks!

Shailene Woodley (Tris) stopped right in front of me but she was distracted by the industry people. I said “Hey girl heyyyy” and she turned around and said “Hey—”. A look of recognition came over her face (she totally remembered me from the AOL Build!) and she said “Hey, how are you?” Then she was whisked away.

#ShaileneWoodley at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

@AnselElgort with Ronni from @TheologiansNet at the #AllegiantPremiere

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on

Theo James (Four/Tobias) didn’t even get to me on the carpet before he was snatched away. I was a bit disappointed—I really wanted to see if he’d remember me from that morning. Once he went past, that was pretty much it. Zoe Kravitz (Christina) was busy chatting with people on the carpet, but I got a couple of nice pictures of her.

#TheoJames at the #AllegiantPremiere last night (Photo by @lilrongal from @theologiansnet)

A photo posted by TheTHEOlogians-Theo James News (@theologiansnet) on


I TOOK THAT PICTURE!!!

Click here to see more photos from the Allegiant Black Carpet!

Soon after the frenzy of the carpet, they led us out to the theater. There were two theaters—the cast theater and the fan theater. I was in the fan theater. We had assigned seats. They gave us free popcorn and beverages, and the movie score played in the background while we waited for the movie to start.

Movie Time!
Movie Time!

I enjoyed the movie! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really hoped it’d be better than Insurgent. I thought it was, especially the second half. I was on the edge of my seat, and I was surprised when it was over. I like when I get lost in something like that.

After the movie, fans lined up outside and inside, waiting for the celebrities in the lobby who were heading to their fancy cars. I ran outside and grabbed an Uber to the after party. Traffic was bad, but I got there at a decent time.

They didn’t let us keep the after party ticket. It was so cool, so I’m glad I got a photo. There were different ones. I got Caleb.

After party ticket

The place was huge! There were flashing blue lights, “Allegiant” lights on the walls. Loud music, people milling around, a really amazing coat check (seriously, the coat check was impressive), and the size of the main room went back forever. There were couches in the main room reserved for some of the industry VIPs. There was also a separate VIP section that we could peek in, and a private VIP section where most of the celebrities went as the night went on. I really wanted to go in there. REALLY did. Just to sit down and chill with everyone. But I was glad to be at the party at all.

Theo was already in the VIP section when I got there, so I knew there would be no chance of talking to him. The “Damn Daniel” guys didn’t go into the VIP section at all, they hung out together, enjoying all the yummy food and talking to fans. Pasta, seafood, a cold bar, and yummy desserts were all over. Lots of people walked around with trays of tasty small bites. I couldn’t understand why the people serving the champagne kept swerving away from me—do I really look *that* young? I had to go to the bar to get a drink.

But before I did that, I got to speak with Jordan Rodrigues. He recognized me from the fan pen and maybe even from my tweet—he’d “liked” it earlier that night when I tweeted about seeing him there.

He liked my tweet!

He and I talked about acting and career choices, among other things. He was easy to talk to and very nice. We had a great chat! He told me that it was really nice talking with me, which made me happy. I also got to talk to Keiynan Lonsdale, who is *beautiful* in person. Onscreen doesn’t do him justice. He too was very nice, and he is super tall. Jordan is just right.

Jordan Rodrigues!!
Jordan Rodrigues!!

Ray Stevenson (Marcus) stayed out in the regular part of the party, but he didn’t talk to anyone except people he knew. I got to chat with Veronica Roth about living in Chicago and how crazy it is that we live in the same city but I only get to see her at events like this. (I met her two years ago at the All It Takes Divergent premiere in Los Angeles, but she didn’t remember. Not that I expected her to.) Theo came out once (probably to use the bathroom), and security was all over him. In fact, security saw me spot Theo and whisked him (he seemed confused) in the other direction. How rude.

Erin and Me

There was a photo booth, so Erin of Once Upon a Twilight and I got in and posed all cute and stuff. Then we mainly people watched, munched on good food, chatted with Lauren and Michael from The Young Folks, and had a really good time. We danced, too. It was a party, after all! So why not dance?

Too soon, the night was over. I sat and watched some of the celebs leave, only because I am nosy like that. Ansel left with a big group, holding hands with his gorgeous girlfriend. I yelled “Happy Birthday” to him and he gave me a smile. Theo left with a big group of people, surrounded by security. It was like a kindergarten class: “Now everyone hold hands so no one gets separated.” I headed back to my hotel then, ready to sleep for a million years, but the adrenaline wouldn’t let me.

Things I Learned:

1. Actors in general are very tall. Most of them towered over me. (Or maybe I’m just very short.)
2. The “red carpet” is not just a time to pose for pictures and look pretty. Those actors are working hard. Taking photos, talking to press, giving fans a thrill, trying to keep up with all the frenzy. I can see how it could be overwhelming.
3. Lots of random people walk the carpet. Producer’s children, plus ones, family members, random celebrities that have nothing to do with the movie just to name a few.
4. Press is everywhere.
5. The carpet is LOUD because there are so many people.
6. No matter where you are, there is always a “better” place you want to be. (Or maybe this is just me.) I was in the fan pen, but I wanted to be important enough to be on the carpet. I was at the party, but I wanted to be important enough to hit the VIP area. Then the super VIP area. And yet, there were people standing out in the freezing rain, wishing they were were I was. Interesting how that works, no? With that said…

I am everlastingly grateful to Lionsgate for giving me the opportunity to experience this taste of Hollywood glamour. It was an intense, amazing, crazy, adrenaline-pumping time and I loved every minute of it. I hope to get to do it again next year!

Yay!
Yay!

*shameless plug*
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