Breaking News: the News is Heartbreaking

Drugs, politics, scandal, murder, mayhem, traffic, and weather.

It’s no wonder I rarely watch the news considering the weather is the only potentially pleasant topic (and if it isn’t sunny and 80 degrees than the weather can barely be deemed an agreeable subject).

I remember waking up unnaturally early in the morning all throughout my grade school career and turning on the news and toaster as soon as I stepped downstairs to the kitchen. I probably could have slept in an extra 10 minutes if it weren’t for my partiality towards Eggo waffles with a light amount of butter and a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, and the morning news, but it was worth a bit of missed sleep to happily greet the day.

wjzWhile gulping down my waffle and trying to keep my sugary fingers limited to the area around my napkin, I would tune into WJZ channel 13 news, and aim for a level of knowledgeableness that those as young as I was rarely achieved. True, the information I was retaining was more about local stories, such as the year’s Polar Bear Plunge, interviews with local businesses regarding the effect of whatever weather pattern we were in the midst of, the Raven’s chances at bringing another championship back to Baltimore, and the musical styling’s of a particular club or charity group, but I loved greeting my city each and every morning through channel 13.

puppies and rainbowsAnd now, it saddens me to turn on the news once so full of charm and energy. Maybe society has increasingly given into the lawless ways that were once so forbidden in the past, maybe I just never noticed the doom and gloom almost ever-present on the television as a child, maybe now our society is more attune to the serious and seriously disheartening subjects, or maybe I just keep tuning in right after a happy story about rainbows that lead to puppy friendship and happily ever-afters with more rainbows.

But really.

Things have got to change people, and fast, because if I have to listen to one more story about a corrupt/cheating/drugged out politician, I may be in danger of spitting out my Eggo waffle in an almighty rage before proclaiming to the neighborhood a distaste for my negative perception of the media and then proceeding to light my house on fire (with the cat toted away to a safe location) as I gleefully watch all of my televisions melt into a dreary heap.

And that’s not a story you’d be pleased to see on the news.

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The Time Timon and Pumbaa Helped Me with My Bucket List

hakuna matata

I love nothing more than singing along to a great song that just fills your heart and lifts your spirit. Even though my voice cracks and creeks while I’m singing along, I like to think that what I lack in skill I more than make up for in enthusiasm. I also like to think that my stuffed animals come alive when I’m not watching, you’re just going to have to give me a few things.

Because of my odd combination of musical love and vocal troubles, I’ve long feared and highly anticipated completing a certain item on my Pail List, karaoke.

For the past month I’ve been making and breaking plans with friends to attend Karaoke Thursday at Applebee’s until the promise of half price apps became too much for any normal college kid to resist, and they insisted on half dragging half restraining me along.

Once there, I nervously bided my time by stuffing my face with spinach dip and praying to the karaoke gods that they would be merciful. It’s a wonder my friends didn’t ditch me from the get-go.

Dear karaoke gods who art in Applebee’s, gracious by thy name. Thy at the bar, the songs be sung, in the cramped corner as it is in concert. Give us tonight our daily $3 margarita and forgive us our missed notes as we forgive those who missed notes before us. Lead us not into Queen renditions, but deliver us from Christmas tunes. Amen.”

karaoke birdDespite my pleas to the gods, I was still nervous as heck. Three of my friends openly admitted that there was not enough alcohol in the world that could get them to sing. Two of my friends were too busy cozily reminiscing to notice that they were in a public place. This left myself and three others who had to brave the microphone armed with nothing but our hopes and dreams of not being laughed or forcibly removed out of the room.

Hesitantly grabbing the sticky discolored binder full of songs, I marveled at the selection before me. I had originally planned on some sort of Billy Joel classic, but when faced with Counting Crows, Johnny Cash, and Van Morrison I was thrown for a loop. So many songs, so many choices, so many notes that I had to sneakily avoid by coughing at just the right time. My heart was hammering with nerves and enthusiasm, a deadly combination that had to be quelled before such excitement caused that spinach dip to make a reappearance.

And then I saw it.

The song that represents my past, present, and future. The song that was guaranteed to please even the most uppity of karaoke snobs. The song that jumped off the page and did the Cha Cha in front of my friends and I until we signed up on the waiting list without the least bit of hesitation.

Hakuna Matata!

What a wonderful phrase.

Hakuna Matata.

Ain’t no passing craze.

It means no worries, for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!

Hakuna Matata represents most everything that I’m about. I try to appreciate each day for what it is and not worry over the little things. I pride myself on appreciating my past and making sure that it isn’t so easily forgotten. And I love bringing happiness to others while celebrating the things in life that also give me joy.

As I stood up in front of the fifty or so people packed into the Applebee’s karaoke night corner I couldn’t help but feel a calm appreciation for my life and the opportunities that I am afforded through my Pail List. As the familiar melody began and I saw heads popping up in every direction, I knew that no matter how poorly my voice performed, I was getting a standing ovation from everyone else who longed for the days of a problem free existence as exemplified by a meerkat and warthog.

timon an dpumbaa

Fast Cars and Family

We make it a point in our lives to hang out with friends. We always try to fit in that newest episode of The Big Bang Theory. And there is rarely a time in our lives when we opt out of the opportunity to take a vacation or road trip down to Kings Dominion.

We place such high priorities on so many silly things in our lives, and yet, family isn’t always very high on that list of things we simply must make time for.

I personally try to make a specific and conscious effort to say yes to life, and yet, I have no problem saying no to my family. Somehow, they have been excluded from my life’s aims. They are just the people whose home I share. The people whom I summarize all of my other adventures to. The people whom I just assume will be patiently awaiting my phone call or visit.

I take them for granted.

And I shouldn’t.

My family means so much to me. Having them around brightens up my day, maps my future, and enlivens my past. I am so grateful for (almost) every interaction that I have with them. And I need to start actively engaging them in my life instead of passively relating to them.

That’s why when my Dad asked me if I’d like to stop by a car show with him and my brother, I gave him a definite and resounding yes.

Yes, I would like to spend time with my father and brother and make memories that involve more than just arguments about the cleanliness of the house. Even if the only thing that I get out of this adventure is looking at some handsome cars with my family, count me in.

So when you look through these pictures, know that yes, they are simply pictures of cars; but the photographer is not simply a photographer, she is more of a daughter and more of a sister than she has been in a long while.

Crochet, No Way…

As a young girl, I remember sitting on the couch next to my mom as she crocheted brightly colored afghans. I was the designated string lackey and unwound coils of yarn with faithful precision. She would churn out blankets so quickly (thanks in part to her dedicated string lackey), that our household was never in want of some warm and brightly colored covers.

4 years ago, I began my crocheting journey. I wanted so badly to string together such beautiful creations, that I ran to my nearest Joanne’s and bought all of the blue yarn I could get my hands on, I picked out the shiniest crochet hook I could find, and I examined my mom’s handiwork to get an idea of what pattern I wanted to try my hand at. I was ready. I was set. I was good to go.

4 years later, and I’m a bit more than halfway through crocheting this afghan thanks to a host of unforeseen challenges:

  • My awkward hands took so long to grow accustomed to the necessary movement of the yarn
  • As the blanket grew, it became difficult to move around and continue working
  • Afghans make you warmth, and too much warmth makes you uncomfortable and antsy
  • I never really understood how to keep the edges the same length, so it looks a bit loopy on the sides
  • I vastly underestimated how much string would be needed, and had to continue making trips and spending money for more yarn
  • I overestimated how much I enjoyed crocheting

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IMG_2234To make matters worse, my boyfriend bought me an animal crochet kit as a surprisingly thoughtful birthday gift (while I was on my initial crochet high) whose impossible instructions have only fueled my frustration with this silly art form.

Despite being hidden away in a bag for the past two years, my afghan is out and about once again, and more than ready to be finished! While I’m not too enthused to begin crocheting, I’ve received a sudden outpouring of motivation from wanting to complete just one of my many  projects, and wishing that I wouldn’t have to look at bags and bags of string whenever I pass by my living room.

Grandparents: More Than Hard Candies and Hearing Aids

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve had a family. And for as long as my family members have been alive, they’ve had a family of their own. I know it seems simple to reflect on, everyone understands the concept of a family tree, but, not everyone takes advantage of this tremendously supportive and loving network of people who all care deeply about your happiness.

Specifically, I’m going to give a shout-out to grandparents; more specifically, my grandparents.

My grandparents live about 3 hours away from me and my family, and as a kid I loved the distance between us. The surprise presents they brought with them (CANDY) were always great, but after a day or two I couldn’t stand my grandmother’s nagging or my grandfather’s bellowing responses due to his poor hearing.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realize the important role they have in my life. I am their granddaughter. That means so much more than seeing them occasionally; it means actively engaging them in conversation and letting them know how much I care for and appreciate them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are loving and kind people (if you look in between their rants on Obama and affinity for disguising rude comments in a sweet demeanor) and I never want to neglect their presence in my life, because they have so much to offer me.

Some of the things my grandparents offer me over our bi-weekly phone calls:
• Accurate insights on the weather
• Complaints regarding the weatherweather graphic
• Hopes for the future weather
• Insight into what my grandmother is wearing for the current weather
• Wishes to come and visit the family
• Pride at my more strenuous workout routine
• Musings regarding the celebrities on Dancing With the Stars
• Frustration over my support of Obama
• Good luck wishes regarding school and finding an internship
• Intriguing conspiracies mentioned on the History Channel
• Pride that I’m attending college
• The same questions regarding my daily schedule

All of these topics both amuse and frustrate me, and if I don’t call at least every week to confirm what I already know about the weather, I know that I’m missing out on a good time and a conversation with the two loves of my life.

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.

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.