Ocean City Dreams

Every year my family takes a trip Ocean City, Maryland to visit my grandparents and have some fun in the sun.

I’m sure you all can guess exactly what comes with the promise of a family vacation:

  • Yelling and screaming over the TV channel
  • My grandparents’ refusal to turn on the air conditioningIMG_2194
  • Losing to my Mom in cards
  • Taking far too many pictures of my cat
  • Wishing my Poppy didn’t wake up the house at 5 in the morning by stirring his coffee
  • Trekking sand around the house all week despite making 1 trip to the ocean
  • Not having enough time to visit the boardwalk because your family is still playing with the cat
  • Sitting in traffic in the church parking lot after a slightly pathetic 4th of July fireworks display

This is the only real vacation I get for the summer. To some people, it may have seem like a wasted trip, more like a test of my patience than an enjoyable time. But, after vacationing with these people for all of my life, I’ve learned to look at things a different way.

So in addition to all of those riveting events, also came:

  • Sleeping in and bumming around watching American Pickers
  • A warmth that thawed me out from the constant stream of air conditioning I’ve grown accustomed to and will forever keep me heated
  • Trying to sabotage my Mom in cards and finding innovative ways to at least beat my DadDSCN0905
  • Taking far too many adorable pictures of my cat
  • Spending quality time with my silly and even more adorable grandparents
  • Relaxing on the beach and gaining a slight tan
  • Always finding room in my stomach to gorge myself with buttery scallo9ps
  • Watching fireworks with my one-of-a-kind family

One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip was getting to take pictures of our adventures. Even though we go every year, I’m always too busy living in the moment to take pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like that’s a great mentality to have, but when you want to share meaningful moments on a blog, pictures are nice too.

I hope you enjoy this!

I hope you enjoy this!

And even though the fireworks weren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, it’s still balls of light, color, and sound exploding into the night sky and occasionally making a smiley face. And that’ll always be worth seeing. When fireworks are involved, how could anyone not look on the bright side? (Pun intended…)

Murder, Mystery, Merriment

Aren't we twisted? We're smiling while our manager lays dead!

Aren’t we twisted? We’re smiling while our manager lays dead!

Over the weekend my friends joined together to celebrate summer and the murder of Bobby Ray, our manager at Wal-Mart who was found stabbed to death in the rafters of the supply room.

DSCN0833DSCN0832We examined clues, made outrageous accusations, dined on a delicious meal, and dressed in our Wal-Mart best while giggling out rhyming lines.

The aging secondary cashier, Carl Crone was having a secret affair with Wilma Beef, the deli manager. Bob Cat was drunkenly operating the forklift and continued to slur in his southern drawl. Paul Pitts (a role stunningly portrayed by your very own author) took out a million dollar life insurance policy on Bobby Ray who she was set to marry. Even newly employed Jose was living in Taylor the pharmacist’s shed!

Intrigue and suspicion plagued us throughout night. Until in a shocking twist of fate, it was revealed that the murderer was Paula Pitts!

I didn’t even suspect myself! It seemed that I had committed the perfect crime if even I was unaware that the murderous sin was conducted by me! Stupidly, when I signed the life insurance policy as Bobby Ray, my handwriting was a dead giveaway as to my future actions.

signatures of paula and bobby ray

Next time, I’ll be the one writing out the murder mystery, and rest assured, I will seek my vengeance on all of the coworkers who contributed to my new life in prison.

O’s Magic

Since before I was born, I’ve been an Orioles fan. I may not be the most avid or knowledgeable baseball watcher, but I truly enjoy the sport, and even more than that, I love attending the games.orioles logo

I’ve always gone to the O’s games with my family, but around last year I realized that it had been a good 4 years since we’d last ventured into Camden Yards. So for Father’s Day 2012 (delayed due to hectic schedules and weather complications), I decided to give my dad tickets to a game of his choosing, which we used by watching the Orioles play the Rays.

camden yardsDespite the threat of rain, constant humidity, and eventual loss of the O’s, we had a great time as a family. The beautiful Baltimore skyline greeted us as we drove into the city early that morning for a bit of exploring. We took a stroll by the warehouse right next to the park and paid a visit to Boog’s BBQ stand where I got a picture with Boog Powell himself. After satisfying our craving for deliciously overpriced ballpark food, we took our seats in one of the top decks. But the height of our seats and the fact that they were a mere $17 didn’t deter us from having a lovely afternoon. We could see perfectly and had plenty of people around us to add volume to the cheers reverberating throughout the stadium.

Unlike Ravens games which can get intense and loud, the Orioles games are oh so calm and relaxed. There is a real family atmosphere to be found with all of the children toddling around in their orange jerseys while grandparents patiently wait in lines for the tots’ cotton candy. Despite the child behind us kicking my mom’s seat and playing his video game rather loudly, everyone was so well behaved and courteous, further adding to our pleasant experience.

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IMG_2092I truly love spending time with my family, and the strong sense of community that the O’s could provide for me was great too. Every now and again you just need to know that you’re a part of something larger than yourself, and it may take yelling “O!” during the National Anthem with thousands of strangers to feel that sense of unity.

Art Attack – Completing My Bucket List One Bland Activity at a Time

DSCN0572This past weekend, the University of Maryland put on Art Attack, which is basically a concert with a surprise musical guest performing right in the middle of our football field. Seeing as tickets were $8 and a decent portion of the student body was planning on attending, I knew this would be a great way to spend a Friday night and cross “attend a concert” off my bucket list.

Though I’m 20 years old, I’ve never actually been to a concert before. I suppose I’ve had opportunities, but there hasn’t been a band or artist I love enough to devote my time and money to. It doesn’t help that I like older bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who = $$), and country music (Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner = lack of interest from friends) who no one would want to join me in seeing. Though I wasn’t paticularly enthused about the band, Art Attack, featuring MGMT, seemed to present the perfect opportunity to provide me with my first concert experience.

(Here is the song that most people know by them. Feel free to search for the music video, but I find it terrifying.)

A few friends and I arrived at the concert just in time to gain access to the pit, an area directly in front of the stage where people could stand. Though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about standing for four hours, I knew that it would only help make my quintessential concert experience. After two decent warm-up bands and a whole lot of waiting around, MGMT finally arrived on stage.

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Firstly, I should do some explaining.

  1. I only know one of their songs, and vaguely at that.
  2. I had been standing for three hours in uncomfortable but adorable shoes.
  3. The temperature plummeted after the first warm-up act.
  4. People were smoking right in front of me, and I detest being subjected to the unhealthy habits of others

Basically, what I’m getting at is I had a thoroughly poor-to-mediocre time. I’m glad that I went and had an experience that I’d always wanted to, but the experience itself wasn’t so grand. And they didn’t even play the one song of theirs that I vaguely know….

This hasn’t deterred me in the least though, and I would definitely go to another concert in the future. Provided I like the band, wear sneakers, bring two jackets, mittens, and a scarf, and don a gas mask to overcome the smokers.

Maryland Day: Freebies and Friends

DSCN0537Yesterday, the University of Maryland hosted their annual event, Maryland Day. Basically, this is one day every spring where the whole campus decides to participate in showing off what UMD and the state of Maryland has to offer.

Families, alumni, prospective Terps, and people from the surrounding communities come out in droves for:

  • Wacky science experiments
  • Photo boothsDSCN0554
  • Plant give-aways (for the winners of a recycling game)
  • Musical performances
  • Donations to Terp Thon (the standing marathon I participated in benefiting Children’s Miricle Network)
  • A mini dance festival
  • Caricatures
  • Delicious food (with, of course, crab cakes)
  • Arts and crafts (where it is also acceptable for the young at heart to get creative with sand art and coloring)
  • A chance to meet members of the UMD football team
  • Raffles for fabulous prizes
  • Information on the University of Maryland and the services they offer
  • FREEBIES!

DSCN0538I had a blast going around with my friends and checking out everything available to me that I never even knew existed. And I didn’t even have time to go through the whole event. Just think about how much more there is to explore right under your nose!

But my absolute favorite part was all the free merchandise I scored. Maryland gives you so much in the way of freebies that I’ve had to start limiting myself and asking,

“Now are you really going to care about that yo-yo a few weeks from now?”

“Do you remember the three other yo-yos sitting in your room, neglected and unused?”

“Would you regret for the rest of your life slowly putting the yo-yo down and walking away from the table?”

I successfully ignored the colorful ensnarement of the yo-yo, but that didn’t stop me from bringing in a huge haul that included:

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  • 5 posters (1 signed by the football team)
  • A water bottle
  • Opportunities and information on volunteeringDSCN0566
  • Friendship and a day of silliness
  • Stickers and pins
  • A temporary turtle tattoo
  • Pens and pencils
  • A bit of a tan
  • Memories and pictures
  • A bracelet that changes colors when it’s sunny

I’ve gone to this event every year, and every year it gets better and better with each realization that there is so much available for me to do around here in both a fun and professional capacity.

Do you have anything like this in your area? You should make the effort to see what your community has to offer and chances are you’ll find one or two things of interest that you never knew you could explore.

A Very Potter Sequel

Somehow, I’ve found myself attending a lot of theatrical productions this semester. But, my soul had not been thoroughly and irrevocably moved until I went to StarTerp’s production of A Very Potter Sequel.

I’ll provide some background on this likely foreign concept first. StarKid, a theater company formed at the University of Michigan, originally decided to parody Harry Potter by creating A Very Potter Musical. The whole show can be found on YouTube and a good three weeks of my life was spent (but not wasted) watching the whole performance with my friend, Caroline. It was the first time I truly understood what it is to love.

There’s just something about these adorable and raunchy kids that transforms Harry Potter into something outrageous, hilarious, and utterly brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, the series is beautifully transcribed by JK Rowling, but the critical perspectives and adult humor StarKid uses to create the play is what makes it truly magical (you can roll  your eyes all you like, but I’m keeping that word)

StarKid later went on to create two more shows, both equally beautiful and capable of inspiring many groups to copy their performances, which is exactly what the University of Maryland’s theater team, StarTerp, decided to do.

Our show was life affirming. I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since the 6th grade and I’ve never stopped caring about the plight of Harry and his friends. This show compliments all I’ve ever known or dreamed about related to Harry Potter and my life has been improved because of witnessing it being performed live. (Also I got to meet Ron and we’re Facebook friends now!)

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The StarTerp production is in the process of being put on YouTube, but here is a clip from AVPM done last year:

I just can’t express what a joy it was to watch this movie and share the experience with my friends. You need to find something you love from this world and never let it go. Even if it’s something as perceivedly pointless and silly as Harry Potter, if you really care about it and it makes you smile, don’t sacrifice it for anything.

Here are some of my pictures from the show:

Song: Harry Freakin' Potter

Song: Harry Freakin’ Potter

Scene: Draco stands up to his Father

Scene: Draco stands up to his Father

Song: Gettin' Along

Song: Gettin’ Along

Scene: Final Gathering

Scene: Final Gathering

Alice in Wonderland – ASL Style

gallaudet universityYesterday, I went to see Alice in Wonderland at Gallaudet University, a university primarily for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Though I’ve been involved with American Sign Language (ASL) for a couple of years now, I’m still not very good and only know basic words, as opposed to whole sentence structures. But, that doesn’t matter so much, because I have fun learning and trying my hand at understanding a new language (pun intended).

I set up this silly little video trying to briefly recap my experience:

I’ll apologize now if I butchered any signs or was completely off base on any of them. Even as I’m re-watching it I can think of what I should have signed differently… But, I wanted to express so much more, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to create a longer and more substantial video.

playbill from gallaudetAnyway, back to the play. It was a trippy version of Alice in Wonderland (but what production of Alice isn’t), and all of the performers fulfilled their roles using Sign Language and tremendous facial expressions and body language. There was also a screen off to both sides of the stage which hosted a written narrative for those struggling to understand more than just the basic gist of the performance.

mad hatter from gallaudet

Mad Hatter and March Hare

I was nervous about the unfamiliar setting and nuances of deaf culture, but I ended up having a great time and will definitely be back to Gallaudet. The fact that these performers couldn’t use their voices didn’t hinder the production in the slightest, in fact, it elevated the show for me and added an area of stage presence that most performances lack. The Mad Hatter was by far my favorite, because he was expressive, adorable, and owned his character. Great actors like him should be recognized for more than their lack of hearing, but for their tremendous talent as well.

I’m not a theater critic and I’m not an ASL expert, but I am lovers of both, and am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to attend this play.

Holi Cow!

This past Sunday the University of Maryland created their own Hindu festival of color, Holi. Pronounced “Holy”, this festival involves throwing multi-colored power at people to celebrate the beginning of spring and the driving force of good over evil. 551462_10151526062127593_100085468_nBut for me, it was mostly a good excuse to make tie dye, hang out with friends, take plenty of pictures, and have an unbelievable experience.

DSCN0450We first gathered around the Administration building on the far end of our mall. After handing out free samosas, but sadly for our poor taste buds, no water bottles, they began throwing packets of colored powder into the air. People went wild. Purples were flying through the air intermingling with a neon green that left its presence known to all those standing below it. Somehow a hose and buckets of water got involved, and though it helped enhance my tie dye, it chilled me far too much for such a warm spring day.

Soon my face was splattered in a comically gory fashion and I marveled at how a mere half hour ago I would have been considered clean. After taking a couple pictures with my friends, one of whom resembled an impish smurf, I headed off to the shower where I would not reemerge for a solid 30 minutes.DSCN0461

I had a blast being a part of this festival, and even though I didn’t know most of the 200 + kids who attended, I still had a great time feeling included in a community and letting myself go. Every once in a while, you need to do something so crazy that even your closest friends give you weird looks when they see the pictures.

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The Princess Bride

How many people remember this epic movie from their childhood?  Or maybe you just  remember the awesome quotes you can still recognize today?

  • “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”
  • “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
  • “Inconceivable!”
  • “Please consider me an alternative to suicide.”

Check out more quotes HERE and relive your childhood!

Well last night, at 11:59 pm, there was an event at UMD that showed the movie while actors played the part on stage. The group that does this calls themselves the Satanic Mechanics and also perform the Rocky Horror shows (which I’ve never been to but need to make the effort to go). And if the Rocky Horror shows are anything as good as this, I’ll be in for a real treat!

IMG_1942The actors found silly ways to mimic what was being portrayed on screen and the audience was encouraged to shout things at them in response to the dialogue and actions from the movie. It was a blast! A movie I loved and great (though clearly untrained) actors who were passionate about The Princess Bride and really took to the roles they were playing. I went to bed at 3 in the morning because I stayed up to see this show, but it was completely worth it and goes to show that if you step out of your comfort zone, you have a good chance of being pleasantly surprised.