What to Expect When You’re Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here, and with it the wholly unrealistic expectations of peaceful family togetherness and a tasty home cooked meal.

thanksgiving

In order to have a truly enjoyable Thanksgiving and limit the amount of times your head gets banged against the wall near the festive corn and pumpkin display, certain things just need to be accepted as inevitable:

  1. Canned foods and instant recipes will abound. Who has time to make homemade cranberry sauce when the in-laws are knocking down your door and the mantle hasn’t been dusted since last Thanksgiving?
  2. Christmas will be acknowledged. Come the weekend after Thanksgiving, it’ll be December. So those boxes of Christmas decorations lurking in the corner of the living room will just be skillfully ignored.
  3. No matter how loudly you speak, Poppy will not be able to understand you. Even if you can get his hearing aid working and his attention focused, once he finally discerns the word “twerk” the conversation will self-implode.
  4. Skinny jeans will be banned from the premises. Both looking good and stuffing yourself until you pop cannot exist together. Bring the sweatpants with the mustard stains; family doesn’t judge you.
  5. Your family will judge you. Your grandmother will notice the untidy state of your hair and mother will ask if a second helping of pie is really such a good idea, and do you need that much whipped cream anyway?
  6. The pets will want in on the action. Can you really blame little Josie for jumping onto the fine china? She’s not use to you putting in any effort and just wanted a closer view of what exactly “trying” looks like.
  7. You will want to quit your job. Crescent rolls are all that matter in life.
  8. Nothing will ever change. The fruit cake will still taste like boot, you’ll still fall asleep during the football game, and the panic of the impending holiday season will upset the mound of potatoes settling in your gut.

As long as you prepare for what’s ahead, there is no reason that Thanksgiving can’t be a perfectly lovely holiday that allows you to spend time enjoying the company of others and their attempts at cooking. And when Christmas arrives, simply duck and cover.

A Case of the Mondays

The Mondays of wintertime is God’s acknowledgement of myself.

I wake up to the chilled air of a Monday knowing exactly what’s in store for my toes before they reach the abrasive black and teal tiles of the shockingly frigid floor.

I shiver.

I prance over to my red and cozy slippers by the door which have been worn down to a thin layer that is barely enough to keep those black and teal tiles away from my bare skin.

I stretch.

I gather clothes from my closet, and with half opened eyes that are sticky with my night’s slumber I dress and trade my red slippers for black boots.

I yawn.

I walk across the campus in those black boots, appreciating the frosty grass and faithful squirrels who join me on this Monday ritual.

I breathe.

I continue past the residential buildings and watch as people open doors to the world as if their gentle touch could shush the tires on nearby cars.

I relax.

I admire the ears of those with steps as soft as mine, looking much prettier when not adorned with headphones.

I sigh.

I step into work and the elevator dings and the coffee is brewing and I struggle to unlock my door and an early riser talks on their phone and I wonder when my keyboard became so loud as to punish my calm with each key stroke and a printer comes to life and the trash is being collected and papers are dropped in the hallway and the unfrosted window now holds a sun fresh with the promise of an end to my muted Monday.

sun in window

Vamos Maryland

Despite the often dirty laundry, the meals that are of less than home-cooked quality, and the crippling loneliness at the realization that your only friends are textbooks, college also provides you with that one activity that defines your collegic life and shapes you personally.

crew tefoFor me, that refers to my time with The Crew.

IMG_2606At the University of Maryland we have a soccer team, and with that soccer team we have a Crew. A crew of loyal fans dedicated to bombarding the opposing team’s keeper with family-friendly insults, cheers regarding our eagerness to score a goal, our displeasure with the other team, and our incredulousness over the shoe color of the keeper. And then we sing and then we chant and then we hold our scarves up high, and then we practice our Spanish with a rousing round of “Vamos Maryland” and occasionally there will even be a 90’s theme featuring the song stylings of the Backstreet Boys and Train.

When you join The Crew there is always so much going on, and though you leave exhausted and partly wishing you had spent your time finishing up that Rhetorical Discourse homework, you often get so much more than you put in.

Thanks to my time spent with the crew I have:

  • Discovered that soccer is not just an introductory sport for second graders
  • Made friends that I honest-to-goodness plan on staying in contact with
  • Watched us win 2 ACC Championships
  • Overcame my fear of singing with gusto
  • Avoided drinking at Crew tailgates
  • Befriended the drunkards at Crew tailgates
  • Learned that loyalty still exists in the form of enthusiastic clapping
  • Found that I have a flair for scarves
  • Made friends that I could attend other sporting events with
  • Gotten more than enough exercise by running to switch bleachers at half
  • Attended every UMD home soccer game
  • Broken school bleachers and watched a rivalry game from the field

I may be getting a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications upon my graduation from the University of Maryland, but the scrappy and blurred photos of my soccer game attendance will always be much more valuable.

Vamos. Vamos Maryland.

Esta noche, tenemos que ganar.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered They’re Yours

50 years from now the only mail people will be familiar with will be of the “e” variety.

pig mailboxNo one will express their love of farm animals with a pink porky piggy mailbox, no one will experience the thrill of raising the little red flag on the side of the pink porky piggy mailbox, and no one will walk away from the pink porky piggy mailbox with the taste of envelope glue still on their tongue.
As a lover of all things pink piggy, I’m fighting this growing trend with paper and pen. I’ve adopted a few somewhat willing pen pals, a resolution to finally pay for some colorful stamps, and an appreciation for the wonders of the past and simple pleasures.

I cherish nothing more than reclining at my polished oak desk by the roaring fire that’s aged the pages of the classics in the nearby cramped bookshelf while dipping my quill feathered pen in the inky blue well that contains thoughts and sentiments yet unbeknownst to me. And then cramming those thoughtful sentiments into the dorm’s mailbox once I’ve taped the envelope closed after unsuccessfully licking the flap until my tongue was raw.

IMG_1996However, while my virtual inbox continues to accumulate messages with beloved subjects such as “Dr Oz-FaT BustEr RevealeD” I’m just not receiving any letters in my physical mailbox meant for tangible letters. There is nothing more depressing than opening that off-gray squeaky door lid only to stare blankly at the off-gray empty inside. Yet the joy that one experiences when that off-gray empty inside is masked by a off-white letter is only rivaled by sitting on Santa’s lap as a four year old who knows they have a Barbie Dream House coming their way. It is that rare occurrence of actually receiving letters that keeps me looking to the mailbox, keeps me writing letters in hopes of a response, and keeps my heart permanently fixed on the pink porky piggy mailbox that I’d like to someday have a use for.

Support pigs everywhere, mail a letter today.

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My Breakfast, My Blessing

Each morning I wake up. Regardless of whether I slept well or slept poorly, no matter if my covers are scattered over the floor or in the same place as when I drifted off the night before, and whether or not I jump up at the sound of Here Comes the Sun or pretend that it doesn’t exist, I wake up with one goal in mind. Get myself some breakfast.

Without fail I joyfully eat breakfast each and every morning. I would not be alive if not for Cheerios and SKIM milk (anything other than skim just seems yucky), though I’ve been known to branch out in favor of fruit, toast, oatmeal, or eggs of the scrambled variety. Sometimes I prepare it simply in my dorm room, other times I’ll mozy on over to the diner, and occasionally I’ll have the kitchen in my home to work with.

cereal smiling

But it truly doesn’t matter where or what I eat, just as long as I can refuel myself in the morning and give myself the energy and positivity that is often the true prize from that box of Cheerios.

And if I have to wake up an extra 10 minutes earlier to ensure that I get my morning off to a happy and healthy start and I’m not a grump-a-lump for the whole day, why that’s no trouble at all.

Bugging Out

bugging out

Unlike with sharks, there is no classic musical interlude that warns you of an approaching creepy crawler. Without warning, you simply turn your head to the unseemly sight of too many gangly hairy spindly legs. Cue the cardio burst towards the door and the declarations to the gods above that if they slay this monstrous beast you shall present to them your first born child.

Then, right as you run up to little Timmy’s room and snatch him out of the crib to be raised Simba-style to the heavens, the bug flies out of an open window and you are left apologizing to a grumpy toddler while laughing nervously to displace the blush spreading over your cheeks.

Because it’s foolish to be afraid of bugs, and we all know it.

And yet most all of us are scared witless at the mere mention of the b-word.

And why?

  1. Because they look ugly? So do I every Monday morning. Eye-gunk can be just as disturbing as pollen-gook
  2. Because some are considered poisonous? Put down that Big Mac long enough to consider what’s really killing you.
  3. Because we don’t understand them? I don’t understand my teenage brother (though admittedly, there are times I’d like to swat him).
  4. Because of bad past experiences? Once I fell off my bike. And yet, like most functioning members of society, I am not thrown into a panic at the sight of bicycles.
  5. Because of the movies? Please, A Bug’s Life is a cinema classic that teaches you to root for the underbug.
  6. Because you suffer from arachnophobia? OK, that makes sense actually.
  7. Because others are afraid? If my mom wears corduroy overalls does that mean that I should too? (That line just caused more chills than any bug could ever have done).
  8. Because they’re tiny? Take two big steps in the opposite direction of the insect. It will now take them a month to reach you.
  9. Because they look different than us? So does absolutely every single thing on this planet. My cat looks different than me, but when she’s not hissing in my face I still love her oh so much.

singing bug

There are so many reasons to dislike bugs. And there are so many reasons why those reasons are stupid.

Let’s just hope I can remember those reasons the next time a spider crawls out from under the couch and I’m tempted to trap it under a bowl until I can reach little Timmy.

Bucket Lists and Bombshells

There is never a convenient enough time for anything, so why ever let that be an excuse for not doing something special?

Whether it’s your deepest passion to travel to Spain despite a lack of financial stability, the willingness to go on a camping excursion though threatened by the time commitment, a craving for higher education while needing to support a family, or the desire for something as simple as wanting to dye your hair, sometimes you just convince yourself that “the time isn’t right” to follow up with your dreams.

But it is!

live unless bed

The time is always right for happiness and living and experiencing life. There is never a bad time to celebrate being alive and creating a memory to look back upon with the grandest of smiles and the happiest of recollections. Why delay what you were put on this earth to do? Live!

IMG_2849So before I could compile an even larger range of excuses as to why I can not complete one of my Pail List  items, before I graduate in the spring, before I begin a full time job, before my supposedly approaching wedding day, before my future catches up to me, I took care of item numero uno and dyed my hair blonde (“Medium Natural Blonde” which when combined with my already dark hair color translates into “Sun-Kissed Brown Cinnamon”).

I’m already so much happier for deciding to commit to this wish of mine. I feel more confident, I feel like I’ve just returned from a delightful tropical vacation, and I feel like I’m ready to seek out some more of life’s experiences despite any obstacles that I perceive. I also feel like a model and am struggling to stop taking pictures of myself…IMG_2868IMG_2859IMG_2871

A Happy Healthy Challenge

Even at first glance, there are two things about me that are quite obvious.

  1. I enjoy eating
  2. I don’t particularly enjoy that I enjoy eating

My Pail List and mental wish list and list taped to my wall and to-do list have long held the goal of me losing weight. Throughout my childhood and for many years I was under the impression that I needed to lose weight to conform to a certain ideal, and while I still have the desire to lose some of my puppy fat (though my puppy may have grown into a fully sized dog by now), I’ve come to recognize that I should focus first and foremost on fitness and health.

But when my unnatural love of peanut butter coincides with cold months and a lack of willpower, I find myself suddenly starring down at the Papa John’s menu more often than at my Zumba DVDs.

30 day challengeMy other blog (yes, I’m openly cheating), Happiness Through Health, is going to see me attempt to create a 30 Day Challenge revolving around losing weight, logging exercise hours, and blogging out our feelings for fabulous gifts and prizes (well, two averagely exciting prizes for the winner and runner up).

If you’re interested in joining me as I find a way to still enjoy pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce and stuffing in the midst of this challenge, just head over to the original post and mention that you’re interested. Bonus points if you provide a guilt-free pumpkin pie recipe or talk me out of this idea and just let me turn myself orange from pumpkin consumption.

The Horror! The Horror!…The ROCKY Horror

I’ve been familiar with The Rocky Horror Picture Show since my early high school days. I’d puzzled over the movie, remained confusedly captivated over the Sweet Transvestite lyrics, and generally enjoyed the idea that such an absurd film could have such a devoted following. Yet, until recently, I’d never seen a cast performing the movie on stage while it simultaneously played on film (though I did attend a delightful shadow cast of The Princess Bride).

Despite my apparent interest, I had never attended a production partly due to my excessive time spent with my cat, partly for fear of how they would treat the inexperienced-in-all-that-is-Rocky virgins. No one seemed willing to discuss the hi-jinks that the cast would play on the newbies for fear that it would deter them from participating in the spectacle that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and after my first show and participation in the Virgin Games at the behest of my former friend Eric, I think I get why.

247135_10151678616010695_1545180286_nWhile it may be fun for the audience to laugh and point as Rocky Virgins are sent onstage to switch clothes with someone they’re standing next to, or scream out in the ecstasy of an imagined intimacy, or parade around with lipstick letter “V”s on their forehead, I can say from personal experience that it is nerve wracking as heck and my face has been permanently marked by a blush so deeply red that others are continually offering me sunscreen. But boy was it an experience! I may have just had my most embarrassing moment(s) of my life witnessed by a theater’s worth of people, but I can truly say that I’m glad that I went through with something that put me outside of my comfort zone while remaining within the point where my line is drawn.

Yes, I imagine a good many people in my life would judge my participation.

Yes, some of the subjects and themes broached were a tad risque.

Yes, there were scantily clad individuals parading around throughout the night.

No, there was not an empty seat in the house.

rocky image

Everyone who showed up to the show was so involved in their choice of costumes, props, verbal insults, strange and secretive greetings, and the actual movie itself. In a world where everyone needs constant entertainment and five iProducts constantly shoved in front of their face, it was just so sweet and rewarding to watch a room full of people staring unblinkingly at a film that they’d seen hundreds of times. The concentration on their faces as they would boogie to the Time Warp conveyed a sense of purpose and devotion that is rarely found in this generation. Though this angelic contemplation was occasionally interrupted by vulgar shouts towards the cast, characters, and general audience, I felt grateful to be a part of such a devoted group of people who were simply interested in having a good time according to their standards.

I truly have nothing particular to say about the movie itself, because there truly isn’t too much I could say to make sense of  what went down on that night of Horror. But really, when you’re in such a joyful setting with good friends, free candy, and that guy from your Shakespeare: The Later Works class that you didn’t expect to be wearing a midnight blue sequined dress, singing sexually ambitious aliens don’t really matter.

Veep Veep!

So…last week I officially became a superstar as an extra on HBO’s Veep.

vee[As typical with any college student, I’ve long suffered from a decisive lack of disposable income and have been forced to survive without HBO for these many years. However, thanks to the generosity of the human spirit, I have been known to bum off of my neighbor’s account and watch delightful shows such as Veep and The Newsroom from the discomfort of their couch with a weird metal bar that continuously makes my butt ache no matter which way I arrange myself. As a creature of comfort, the fact that I put up with a sore butt for an hour or a half per episode should attest to my devotion of these shows. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Anna Chlumsky, and Gary Cole all starring in one well done and intriguing comedy of governmental proportions? I’m so there. In fact, the show could literally only have Tony Hale and I would consistently tune in to stare upon the goofy visage of a man who will forever be Baby Buster Blooth.

So when I heard that Veep would be filming at the ever beautiful and camera-ready University of Maryland, I controlled my gut-reaction to scream and did a little hopping happy dance. The dance was immediately followed up with a Facebook, texting, Twitter, and face-to-face confrontation to any and all friends/acquaintances/strangers/enemies/frenemies/vaguely familiar faces/vaguely familiar friendly faces asking for information on how to be a part of the production. The Veep-crazy shout out was then followed by the heavenly instructions to send information to a mysterious email address in the dead of night under a full moon on the side of an abandoned hair salon after spilling root beer on a tree stump and reciting the parting lines from the 5th Harry Potter movie. Well, it was only required to send a phone number, age, and headshot, but I was prepared for whatever task they would throw at me.

And then I waited. First, by devoting an unhealthy amount of time and glances at my phone. Next, by developing a very real and problematic addition to checking my email. Then, by constantly staying on the lookout to hear from others if they had been selected for the honor of this and any other lifetime.

California hipster fall? Or Maryland trendy winter? You decide.

California hipster fall? Or Maryland trendy winter? You decide.

A week and a half later, I got the call and half-had the conversation of a lifetime, as I was too excited to focus on words and could only make out such things as “California fall” and “hipster employable”. I was promised to be sent an email link with not much more information, but that hardly mattered. That same day I ran out to go shopping for an outfit that just screamed the random descriptors that I could recall from the phone conversation. That same night I could hardly sleep for excitement. That next morning I embarked on what would begin my film career!

I woke up at 5 in the morning. I walked in the rain to the building they filmed in. I waited around with some friendly people. I continued to wait around with some now less talkative people. I wasn’t even close to a camera for the vast majority of the day. I began to realize that being an extra was an extra boring process. And then, by the grace of God, I got chosen to partake in a scene where it was finally my time to shine.

Well, I walked in the background about 50 feet away from the actors and will most likely never be noticed due to the two glass walls that also separated us from the real action. About 5 hours later, I did just about the same thing. About 2 hours after that, I sat in an audience hidden away in a corner.

IMG_2764I loved it! I could actually see celebrities while “working” and they were actually quite decent people, as I had a conversation with Nelson Cole (who kept falling asleep as this was the fifth day in a row of filming) and smiled at Julia Louis-Dreyfus who stood 8 inches away from me at one point. I made some great friends in the holding area, I dined on a lunch salmon so heavenly that it must have been blessed by Poseidon himself, I got to tour the gorgeous new building on campus, I bought a beautiful outfit which the casting director called “perfect”, I got paid enough money to afford that beautiful outfit which the casting director called “perfect”, and I ended up getting a reoccurring role in the series! Well, my imagination took over at some points during the shoot, but I swear that the salmon was as delicious as I claimed. Oh, and I introduced myself to Tony Hale, called him by his first name, took a picture with him, and even shook his gosh-darn hand!

We weren't really allowed to take photos, but I needed proof gosh darn it!

We weren’t really allowed to take photos, but I needed proof gosh darn it!

So while you probably most definitely won’t be seeing me in the third episode of season 3, it probably wouldn’t hurt to look for the spunky, overjoyed extra with the look that just screams “California fall” and a tummy protruding from ingesting an inappropriate amount of salmon.