Fall Favorites

Hi, I’m Haley and I like music. A lot.

Here are some of my favorite songs/albums/artists from this fall. They’ll help you sip your pumpkin spice latte as you don a sweater at a bonfire. (No judgment, though, because I actually get a pumpkin chai latte and it is life. Also, I made chocolate chip pumpkin bread. Go. Pumpkin. Don’t let anyone tell you different.)

  • Wilder Minds by Mumford & Sons. Up until this fall, I had never liked Mumford & Sons. They were way too twangy for me. However, their latest album is a lot more alternative, calming, and more rock with less folksy aggression. Favorite songs: “The Wolf,” “Snake Eyes,” and “Broad-Shouldered Beasts.”
  • Dear Wormwood by The Oh Hellos. THIS ALBUM IS ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS TO HAPPEN TO MUSIC IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. It’s folksy, it’s cheerful, it’s meaningful, it’s deep, it’s beautiful, it’s AMAZING. LISTEN TO ALL OF IT RIGHT NOW.
  • “Peace Song” by Kye Kye. This song is super chill and super calming. I really like Kye Kye’s voice, the simplistic beat and instrumentation, and lyrics of the verses.
  • The Paper Kites. I like a lot of The Paper Kites’ older stuff, off their albums Woodland and Young North. They’re acoustic-y, pretty, and chill, with some great vocals (and harmonies. Always harmonies). Favorite songs: “Featherstone,” “A Maker of My Time,” and “Paint.”
  • “Tears” by The Tragic Thrills. Thank you, Spotify Discover Weekly! This song is driving and fun with a great beat and positive message about accepting scars and tears as a reminder of our humanity. The changing instrumentation from verses to chorus to instrumental riffs is also a plus.
  • The Inlaws. Of course, they only have three songs (“Future,” “Walls,” and “Don’t Give Up”), but I can’t decide which is better. The vocals slayyyyyyyy, the melodies are wonderful, and the messages of the lyrics are hopeful, telling the story of working hard for love. Their self-titled debut EP seems to be all about building: building a relationship, building trust, building willingness to be with another person. Add a lot of acoustic guitar, and that’s one beautiful album.
  • Ben Rector. Without this man, I don’t know if I could make it through college applications. Ben Rector’s happy melodies, brilliant lyrics, and fun, dance-worthy songs have been getting me through essay upon essay upon essay. They’re just good love songs and good life songs. Favorite songs: “The Men That Drive Me Places” (which is so amazing I just can’t), “Crazy,” and “Sailboat.”

I hope these recommendations create a playlist of wondrous fall-itude. Happy fall, y’all!


Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part IV

October 15, 2015: The First Acceptance

“Anjana, should I wait for a real letter in the mail or check my application status online?”


*clickety-clackety typing and logging in*

*breaks into incredibly wide smile that does not leave for the rest of the day*

I got into Auburn.

Last Thursday, I spent my study hall and lunch flying through the school, calling my family members, ringing the bell in the college counseling office, and generally flailing about.

Because I got into Auburn!

There’s no other way to put it: this was one of the best feelings in the world. Itty bitty freshman Haley with braces and bushy hair was told about college applications and how important it was that she start working hard so that senior year would be full of possibilities and good news. But she couldn’t imagine how crazy it would feel to see those words on her laptop screen: accepted for admission. The whole application process has felt so surreal, but this acceptance felt the most surreal of everything. I couldn’t stop repeating it: I got into college. I got into college. I got into college. What made it even better was that I didn’t just get into college: I got into Auburn University, a school that I’m really, really excited about.

For the past few days, I’ve been riding this orange and blue high. To know that I can have a future as a Tiger, screaming, “War Eagle!” at football games, giving tours and pointing out the Caribou Coffee in the library and Chick-fil-A in the dining hall, bleeding orange and blue, going to Momma G’s for lunch (and breakfast and dinner)… it’s relaxing and thrilling all at the same time. I’m just so grateful: to God, for everything from the opportunity to go to college to the confidence that He will be with me and working wherever I go; to my family, for watching me hit submit on my Auburn app and loving me through this stressful season; to my school and my absolutely incredible college counselors for how early we start our college applications (it’s so worth it) and how amazing and encouraging they’ve been; and to my friends, for cheering me on, being there for me, and well-timed hugs.

It’s the first acceptance, and senior year is really looking up. War Eagle!


Senioritis: An Honest Report from the Trenches, Part III

September 14-October 8, 2015: The Craziest Month Ever

That title pretty much sums it up.

The last half of September and first week of October were a whole lot of work, college applications, more work, more college applications, midnight snacks, caffeinated tea, going out of town, and getting very little sleep. But I made it! Leaving school on October 8, heading out into a long weekend and knowing I would get some good physical, mental, and emotional rest, was the best feeling. The month was long and hard, but it’s over now. Looking back, I think it grew me by not growing me, in a way.

When I finally got to take a step back from all the hecticness of application season, I saw the missed opportunities in that month. I could have leaned in: to community that supports me, to God who offers so much more peace and comfort than I can imagine, to my family who put up with my really crabby moods. But instead of putting more effort into quiet time with Jesus or family dinners when I was struggling, I ignored them. Certainly, there were good Sundays and an amazing church retreat where I grew a lot in my relationship with Jesus. But I didn’t learn so much during my time on the struggle bus as I did when I got off and saw that God was the Bus Driver all along, metaphorically speaking.

I’ve learned from this mistake. My tendency when things go wrong is to resort to my own strength and abilities, which is just such a terrible idea. It’s okay to not be pulled together all the time. It’s okay to need things; namely, people and God. By not tuning in to God and the good things around me, I missed out on a good chance to grow in this really busy September. Now, I’m hopeful that the next time a stressful or hectic season comes my way, I’ll remember this and remember to lean in and focus on faith. Life doesn’t have to be just making it through to Fridays and wishing for summers. Life can be so much more if we keep our eyes open and looking up during the crazy times. I’m hoping that the next crazy time, I’ll use this lesson to keep my eyes exactly where they need to be: on Jesus.

“So stop waiting for Fridays, and stop waiting for summers, and stop waiting for someone to fall in love with you, because those things will happen. But in the meantime, enjoy right now.”

Lucy Sutcliffe

The Return Voyage

I just did it. I hit that little “WordPress” button on my bookmarks bar and directed myself right on over to this blank post screen that I haven’t seen in over two weeks. There are more butterflies in my stomach right now than I thought there’d be. I thought I’d be thrilled, excited, feeling perfectly at ease to be back at Basically Hermione.

But my fingers are shaking a little bit. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this step feels the hardest; it’s always been an odd comfort to me to think that the Enemy attacks most when we’re about to do something huge. It means that when I’m feeling the most afraid, I’m probably doing the right thing. (Unless I’m feeling most afraid as I’m about to, like, zipline over a pool of piranhas. That just sounds unsafe.)

Today, I went to the library, sat outside on this gorgeous fall day, and crafted “The Game Plan.” As I did so, I called myself “Cher with a pen.” (A la Clueless, because Clueless.) I was making charts about what I write and why, listing pro tips from a writing webinar I participated in several weeks ago, and coming up with next steps. I was moving forward.

And sometimes, when you move forward, the steps you take feel a little shaky.

I know what I want to do in this space now. I have it outlined in a chart with “The Fling” in one column and “The Focus” in another. (This goes along with another alliterated chart, FYI, because that’s the way I roll. Alliterated charts. Whoop whoop.) I know why I’m here.

The words are back and they’re flowing, and even though that big blue “Publish” button is freaking me out a little right now, I’m excited. I’ve got lots planned. It’s scary to be Cher with a pen, but I am hoping that it’s worth it.

Before we get the ball(point pen) rolling, I have a few people I need to thank:

  • My family, friends, and loved ones who have stuck with me in this crazy season of life. Senior year has kicked. my. butt. And so many people have loved me, supported me, encouraged me, and given me wise advice through it all. Thank y’all for loving me as I am.
  • My readers. Thank you for being okay with the radio silence and for encouraging me re: the blogging break. I appreciate you, your time, and your support more than you know. Thank you for your forgiveness, grace, and kindness to me.
  • Better than Queso, Vol. 1. I joined this writing group on Facebook a couple weeks ago, and they have already inspired me and given me a real sense of community with other word-crafters (that is so not a thing, why am I up so late) such as myself. Thank you guys for being such a big part of the reason I came back to typing today.

And to you, right now: Thanks for reading. Get ready for one heck of a ride.