Adulthood Part 3: Making Magical Memories

As promised, here is the latest and last part of my Adulthood Series–and I have a feeling it’s the one the majority of you have been waiting for the most.

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to do the Disney College Program. Everything about it called to me–you work for Disney, get into the parks for free, and make lifelong friends and connections. So as soon as I had a college semester under my belt, I subscribed to DCP emails to get updates on applications deadlines.

But, life happens. I was a double major and a triple minor. I was a college athlete. I had two jobs. Taking a semester off to vacation work in Disney (without any chance of getting college credit) was out of the question. Needless to say, I was sad as I entered my senior year–working for Disney would remain just a dream.

And then I read the fine print.

“MOM! I can do the Disney College Program the year AFTER I graduate!! Applications are open!! I don’t have a job!! I’m applying!!!”

“That’s cool, Alessa.”

Fast forward two months and I call my parents again nearly in tears after getting an acceptance email–I was going to live in Disney for 5 months.

A little background is needed here. When I had my interview and applied for the program, I put my preference for a position known as a “hopper.” As described on the website, and the application, and everywhere else you look for info on the DCP, a hopper is cross-trained in any combination of multiple areas (attractions, custodial, F&B, etc). and essentially “hops” around. Obviously this appealed to me–I could potentially learn a little about a number of things. So when my acceptance email arrived saying I had been chosen to be a hopper, I was overjoyed.

roomiesI arrived in Orlando bright-eyed and eager to start my job and meet my roommates. I knew immediately that I would get along with my roommates. They were all sweet, caring, and fun to be around. And they all loved Disney just as much as I did! I found out what positions they had-F&B at Hollywood Studios, Character Attendant at EPCOT, Merchandising at Magic Kingdom, and Attractions at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom–and grew even more excited to find out what my first placement would be. One downside to accepting your program as a hopper is that you don’t know exactly what role you will have first until you arrive for orientation.

So I rushed to the orientation room to get my packet of info and opened it up:

Magic Kingdom-Attractions-Parking.


My heart sank. I entered my apartment to my roommates excitedly unpacking and eager to find out my placement. “Parking,” I said, really trying to sound positive.

“Ohhhhhh. That’s…interesting,” was the general response. “I didn’t even know that was an option.”

Yeah, me either, I thought.

disneySince I signed on as a hopper, I held on to the hope that this was just a temporary position and decided to embrace the experience even though I was going to be spending (what I thought was going to be) a month working in a parking lot.

So I went through training, earned my ears, got my costume, and discovered rather quickly that my hours and time in parking lot were going to be long and unending. Most of my shifts started around 4 or 5 in the evening and lasted until 2 or 3 in the morning (except the occasional 5 am clock-out time–Yay for Christmas!). This meant that my dreams of spending all of my free time in the parks remained just that–dreams. I was too exhausted to wake up early to go in the morning and too afraid I would wear myself by going in the afternoon before work.

As October and November rolled around I realized that changing positions was probably not going to happen–the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot was going to be my Disney home. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say it turned out to be the best job ever–it wasn’t.

But I’m also not going to lie to myself and say I didn’t have fun sometimes.

piratesI was still able to get to the parks on my days off and still managed to make memories with my roommates, and new BF (yes, I met my boyfriend in Disney World, be jealous) by the pool and in the parks when I could. I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, got to ride Star Wars with only three people on my ship, saw Fantasmic as many times as I wanted, rode Tower of Terror too many times to count, kicked butt in Toy Story Midway Mania, and got really cheap souvenirs. My friends and family got into the parks for free, I became an expert pin trader, and I sang Disney songs a cappella with a group of friends while waiting in line for Space Mountain. I rode all the kiddie rides I had never done before, enjoyed the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival (probably a little too much), rode Soarin’ as often as I could, and watched the Wishes firework show every single night.

ParkingMy job wasn’t the best, but I finished my shifts most nights knowing that I was one of the last people to see Magic Kingdom at night. I got to drive a long, snake-like tram and make corny jokes to guests over a microphone and force them to laugh. I had amazing managers, coordinators and co-workers. The CP’s I worked with in Parking were amazing, funny, outstandingly optimistic people and I know I wouldn’t have made it through my program if my co-workers weren’t such cool people.

So was my time working for Mickey Mouse everything I dreamed of? Not exactly.

But I did leave the Happiest Place on Earth with some pretty awesome souvenirs:

25 New pins for my collection

20 Lifelong friends

5 T-Shirts

4 New Mickey ears

1 Amazing, kind, loving, Disney Prince of my own

And countless, unforgettable, magical memories with Disney lovers just like me.


Thanks for reading!


Adulthood Part 2: A Summer in the City

Well, so much for hoping a series would help me blog more regularly.

For those of you who read my post from almost a year ago, you know that I started a post-graduation series about my life after college. Clearly, one thing I didn’t consider was the fact that adulthood would be crazy, hectic, and put blogging at the very bottom of my to-do list. Even though it’s been nearly a year, I’m just going to pick up right where I left off. Luckily, the memories are still just as fresh as they were a year ago.

IMG_2717As I mentioned in my last post, I was accepted into the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City in April of 2015. This six-week long course teaches hopeful publishers the ins and outs of the publishing industry and includes two week-long workshops dedicated to book and magazine publishing. It’s intense, overwhelming, exhausting, and probably the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. I met some of the most recognizable people in publishing, realized that publishing really was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and made lifelong friends all while living in my favorite city for seven weeks.

But the true test of knowledge (and patience) came in the third week of the course. For a full week, we were split into 10 groups and charged with the task of creating our own publishing house–a name, a history, a backlist, and six new titles for our mock Fall 2015 catalog. Each group was told what type of publishing house they were (children’s, trade, academic, etc.) and let loose. Members of the group then decided who would play what role  in the publishing house (CEO, Publicity Manager, Business Manager, Editors, etc.) and started brainstorming ideas, many of which would get changed or knocked down by the panel of professional editors, publishers, agents, etc. leading the workshop.

By the end of the sleepless, exhausting week, my children’s publishing house, Rabbit Hole Books, had six very different books to present to the panel. As the CEO, I learned about people management, time management, and that sleeping is overrated. I was so proud and honored to work with the group of women I did–and I think we all walked away feeling proud of the work we did.

The next three weeks of the course focused on magazine and digital publishing and I was once again able to meet and learn from some of the biggest people in the industry. To cap off this section of the course, we were once again split into groups (this time of about 20 people) and told to create our own print and digital magazine from the ground up–stories, covers, PR campaigns, advertising–you name it, we had to do it. Once again the CEO, I learned that managing 20 people is much harder than 10 and that digital publishing is much more difficult than people realize. Our magazine, Cipher, a go-to guide for all things a sci-fi/fantasy fan could want, was ultimately a success and I couldn’t have been more proud of my team.

bailey katy lena


After a career fair and a final reception, it was time to say goodbye to my CPC family. I left the city with two portfolios of work, 15 new books (oops), and countless memories with some new best friends. I graduated from the CPC knowing that I could make it in New York, New York (which means I could make it anywhere)–and this confidence was the most priceless souvenir I took home from my time in NYC.

With only two short weeks to recover, I said goodbye to the Big Apple and hello to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Until next time, happy reading!

The Final Round

As my loyal readers know, the majority of this blog is dedicated to my deep and unending love of literature and Disney (and Disney literature). But this blog is called “Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey” for a reason.

2013-10-07 21.40.50

Me, Brigette, and Maddie at a golf tournament.

My last post about golf was back in 2013 and at the time I thought I would be more willing to talk about my golf journey. As it happens though, golf has taken a back seat both on this blog and (all too often) in my life. These past few weeks, however, I have really been thinking about the fact that this semester is the last time I will play for a golf team–ever. For the last eight years, golf has been a constant activity in my life and now that it’s on the verge of being a much more difficult (and expensive) hobby to maintain, I realize exactly how much I’m going to miss it. From the hours spent on the driving range every weekend, to the 7 a.m. practices to the hundreds and hundreds of golf holes I’ve played, I’ve learned so much more than just how to swing a golf club.

My very first golf coach, Jeff Strong, came into my life at the perfect moment and was just tough enough to get me out of terrible habit–quitting. Before I played golf I had tried just about every kind of extra-curricular activity my parents could sign me up for: track, volleyball, basketball, softball, guitar lessons, piano lessons, band, tennis, fishing, hunting; you get the picture. I was the type of person that did something until I realized it was too hard to get by on natural skill and then I quit. I didn’t like to work very hard at things (except school, but that was different).

After my first few lessons with Jeff, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You can do this. You have potential. But you’re going to have to work at it. And I don’t teach people who don’t work hard.” I left that lesson feeling both good (I had potential!) and scared (Wow, this guy is serious). I guess that one slap in the face ended up being exactly what this former quitter needed to hear; within four months of my first golf lesson I was playing on the varsity golf team at my high school.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

This lesson continued in college. Playing Division III golf brought on a whole new set of challenges. College was hard. Golf was hard. School was harder. I had to learn how to balance an even more difficult course load with the added pressure of being a college athlete. Luckily, I was once again blessed with an amazing coach, Carla Spenkoch, who not only helped me transition into the routine of college golf, but continued giving me what Jeff had for four years–the encouragement and toughness I needed not to quit.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

I’d be lying if I told you golf was easy. In fact, anyone who tells you golf is easy is lying to you. It’s a game of patience, perseverance, and hard work–and sometimes you can put your whole life into it and still not come out a winner. But I don’t think God put golf in my life to teach me how to win. I think God gave me golf for the friendships, the life lessons, and the stability that I would not have gotten from anything else.

As I start this last golf season, I don’t know what role golf will play in my life after college. All I know is that I plan to make the most of it (and maybe, finally, place in a college tournament or two) and that the life lessons it taught me will be with me long after I stop playing the game regularly. No matter what–it’s sure to be a great final round.

Growing Older, But Not Up

“That’s the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.”

–Walt Disney

Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. This means I can fully appreciate everything Buzzfeed says is great about being 22 (pardon the profanity) and sing TSwift’s “22” with real gusto now (at least, I would if I liked TSwift even just a little). This week, I officially registered for what could be my last semester of school, applied for graduation, and sent in my resume for a professional internship with Disney Publishing.

All of this can only mean one thing: I’m one year closer to that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing called adulthood. Bills, jobs, taxes, actually paying for a round of golf–it’s a scary world! A (very small) part of me is looking forward to it, but for the most part I spend every day waiting for Michael J. Fox and Doc to appear and take me back to 2004 in a Delorean (1985 would work, too!) so that I can delay growing up for just a little bit longer.

One of the most common questions I get (more than I care to admit, actually) is why I love Disney so much: “Don’t you think you are a little old for that?” Most of the time I shake it off and adamantly and vehemently say, “No, I know many 22-year olds who still watch Disney movies while they drink Disney hot tea brewed in their Disney French press in a Disney coffee cup while wearing Disney slippers. It’s perfectly normal.” This is usually followed by an uncomfortable laugh and some variation of “Well, isn’t that cute.” This shouldn’t bother me. And for the most part it doesn’t. But my obsession with  love of Disney is based on so much more on just the movies or the princesses or even *shudder* Mickey Mouse.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven't grown up.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven’t grown up.

Loving all things Disney is the last somewhat socially acceptable way for me to hold on to my childhood. For an hour and half I can sit and speak and sing along to movies and songs I know all too well and feel like I am eight eight years old again. It’s the only thing I can do to help me forget that I am about to embark on a scary-wonderful journey and that life as I know it is going to change–hopefully for the better, but a change nonetheless. I can pretend to be Belle or Ariel or Jasmine and forget that I have my own new world to discover.

But most importantly, these movies (and everything else in the Disney universe) are reminders that even though I may be growing older, I don’t have to grow up.  Ironically enough, Disney’s blog website, Oh My Disney, seems to agree with me.I can face adulthood with a child’s imagination, a young heart, and teenage angst. I can conquer the world head on and know that it’s OK (even expected) for me to fail sometimes. If this is a good enough mentality for Walt Disney, it’s good for me, too.

So, a word of encouragement to some of my fellow college seniors. We are going to get through this. Adulthood is going to be awesome. It’s going to be scary; it’s going to be hard; and it’s going to shake us up, but if we all remember that adulthood doesn’t mean we have to lose our youthful outlook on life then this final semester and everything that comes after it will be amazing.

After all, to tweak a Walt quote, “Adults are only kids grown older, anyway.”