Handouts and Holidays

I’ve been that person stalking you as soon as you step out of your car. I know what it’s like to try making eye contact with someone who behaves as if I were Medusa herself and one sideways glance would turn them to stone. I am all too familiar with sending “good friends” a Facebook message only to have it go unanswered…even though I can see that it has been read and now I know that you’re clearly ignoring what it is I have to say so that the next time I see you in person you better believe I will be bringing this up and making you feel guilty…

I know what all of this is like, because I care.

I care about sick children, and having them and their families receive the care that they need from Children’s National Medical Center with support from Terp Thon.

I care about assisting those with specific needs and ensuring that the Special Olympics stays strong with assistance from those crazy enough to attempt the Polar Bear Plunge.

And it breaks my heart that I’m still struggling to fundraise for these two wonderful organizations during the holiday season of giving.

money giftI don’t particularly have a favorite holiday, but I sure do have a favorite time of year, December. Despite the chilly temperatures and the hushed sunlight, I find my joy from the people around me with their concern over quality time with the fam and their wonder over the one light display along that stretch of 32. Yet, these people who are more than willing to drop $6 on a cup of coffee with a Christmas themed Starbucks design are rattled when I ask for $2 to go towards me standing for 12 hours in support of Children’s National Medical Center, or $5 to go towards me diving into frigid waters in support of Maryland Special Olympics.

I’m not asking for the world. I’m not even asking for a country. I’m just asking for others to embrace that December spirit, the one that smells of holly and crisp pine, the one that makes you smile out loud when you see a child with the mall Santa, the one that says it’s perfectly alright to drink extra chocolately extra marshmellowy and extra whipped creamy hot chocolate. Embrace that spirit by not being afraid to look a caring person in the eye this holiday season, and embrace the spirit of humanity by daring to care about that person’s passion as well.holiday donation

To donate to Terp Thon, click HERE.

To donate to Ice Ice Save Me, click HERE.

[Luckily for you, WordPress, unlike Facebook, will not alert me if you choose not to respond to this post. However, so long as you keep your heart open to the idea of sharing a bit of the wealth with those who need it and with those who care enough to make the awkward attempt to ask for it, you’ll be living up to that December spirit and I’ll be able to feel that the world has become a better place]

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

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.

Busy as a Bee

With two jobs, four clubs and organizations, a mound of homework, a fitness regimen to keep, sports to cheer for, and friends to stay in touch with, you’d think I was done saying yes to life. And you’d be as wrong as my brother trying to talk with a British accent (just plain wrong).

winnie the pooh beeIn fact, just the other day I received an email asking me if I’d like to sign up for a tour of the apiary on campus. Once I confirmed with Wikipedia that apes were not actually involved and I would get the chance to visit my bumble bee buddies, I immediately signed right up! Though I’m no where near comfortable with creepy crawly buggy critters, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for bees (possibly stemming from my love of Winnie the Pooh). In my messed up and illogical mind, bees seem to be the one type of bug that I’m actually alright to be around.

But that didn’t stop me from being nervous as heck when the time came to actually visit the bees on the roof of UMD’s dining hall. In a group, we approached four white boxes housing hundreds of hundreds of bees. After spraying them with a gas (which is not as toxic as the film Bee Movie describes, but is a simple burning pine needle mix that makes the bees calmer and less likely to sting), the box was taken a part and columns and columns of bees and bees were removed to show exactly how the world of bees worked.

Hive Tour 5Honestly, I remember very little about the intricate workings of the bee hive. I learned that the queen bee can mate with around 10 males in order to populate the entire bee hive, I learned that bees called “drones” do not have the ability to sting, and I learned that I look pretty rockin’ in a beekeeper hat. Mostly, I was too busy standing around in awe of the bees buzzing happily by me, around me, and often, even on me. I think that’s why I like bees more than other bugs (ladybugs make me happy, but I’m just learning how to tolerate butterflies); bees just seem perfectly content to work, fly, and be cheerfully yellow. And how on earth could you hate something so kind as to make honey?!

If you ever get the opportunity to visit an apiary, do it! Though I was terrified for the first 20 minutes as I watched the bees circle around our group, it was actually quite beautiful and I never felt in danger despite wearing a t-shirt and short sleeves. And even if this opportunity doesn’t present itself to you, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation that could lead to a grand adventure and some lovely memories, think of me and say, “well, if that scaredy cat of a girl can pal around with some bees for an hour, surely I can go hang gliding over an active volcano while learning French and writing the greatest book series since Harry Potter”, or whatever it is you’d like your adventure to entail…

The Early Bird Gets the Sleep

I go to college. I hang with friends. I get homework done. I go to clubs and events. And I get a full eight hours of sleep each and every night.

garfield sleeping

Garfield really represents a lot of my interests

I’ve often felt that I need three things out of life:

  1. A complete and completely delicious breakfast.
  2. My cat and a camera with which to take pictures of my cat.
  3. Enough sleep.

No matter what it is that I’m working on that day, I always find time to get the necessities out of the way so that when it comes to bedtime around 11 pm (outlandishly early for a rockin’ college kid, I know), I’m free to hit the hay and end the day. Some people can go on three hours of power naps, a can of Red Bull, and the sheer desire to outsmart mother nature. I am not that person. I am the person who cozies up in bed with bright tie dye covers and a pillow as fluffy as the cats I envision jumping over a fence.

While I may miss out on some parties, I never feel as though I’m missing out on a crucial college experience, as I plan my life in the daylight hours. Pretty revolutionary, right?

Yes, I go to bed early, but the relaxation and happiness that I’m granted as a result of my delightful night’s sleep is worth ten times as much as the drunken stories of arrest and evasion that most kids have to show for their early morning hours.

By Chance, Do You Have a Time Machine That I Could Borrow?

Almost three years ago today, I was crying; downright sobbing for my Mommy and Daddy to come and rescue me from this bad bad place, and hardly breathing for fear of the unknown and the change that was now undeniably upon me. Three years ago was my first day of college here at the University of Maryland.

And now, on this anniversary of my sob-fest, my eyes are once more glossing over with tears. Because I realize that these wonderful times at my university have almost come to an end. And there is nothing I can do to get those years back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I would give to return to freshman year and reassure myself that I would find a best friend in my roommate, despite her quirky way of singing Glee and her affinity for warm room temperatures. I would tell myself that it’s OK to step out of my comfort zone, because it’s the only way in the entire world to meet new people and define yourself. Also, you know how you’ve lost a significant amount of weight for the first time in your life? KEEP IT THAT WAY AT ALL COSTS, I HAVE SEEN YOUR FUTURE AND YOUR FUTURE IS PIZZA! I would also tell freshman Katy that no one needs to study that hard for a freshman Bio class, the classes get harder, enjoy the easy ones while you’ve got em’.

IMG_0903Of course I would let sophomore-self in on some information too. I would strongly suggest making friends with the girl living next door, as she won’t be returning for a senior year. You know that job you’re considering taking at the ice cream stand? It’ll lead you towards great and silly friends, but for the love of all things UMD, don’t eat so much ice cream! (though kudos on slowing down with the pizza). Do something you bump on a log! Make an effort in more than your studies, don’t forget to live and smile and laugh and keep those tears hidden because you still miss your cat.

IMG_2058I don’t know if my present self would do so much talking junior year. The first semester, I may encourage past Katy to hit the gym every now and again, but mostly, I’d sit back and smile watching me discover my love of university soccer, find my passion for spreading awareness of domestic violence, get involved in the department of resident life and dining services, and create lasting and meaningful friendships. But I would definitely plant the idea of creating a stupendous and life-altering blog that has the possibility to reach out and touch the lives of hundreds of people, instead of scribbling on this snot rag of a journal.

[This time machine business is all assuming, of course, that if I went back in time I would find a way to reach out to my past self in a way that doesn’t interfear with the space-time continuum and cause catastrophic doom to myself and the planet as a whole. But, as I’ve passed Comm 400, I’m sure that I can manage time travel.]

As far as my last semesters go, I would absolutely love to take a trip into the future to see what awaits my senior year. Personally, I hope it involves being actively engaged in the campus community, constant exercise, a winning soccer team, a plan for my future career, a successful Terp Thon, and time spent hanging out with both old and new friends. Oh, and also good grades if I’ve got some free time on my hands.

Though, before I turn in my time machine, I’d like to take it for a spin back to my high school days to impart some wisdom onto teenage Katy. First words of wisdom, regarding that boy you’ve got a crush on…

The Longest Distance

The longest distance cannot be measured with a ruler. The longest distance cannot be expressed in terms of miles, kilometers, or even something as expansive and all-consuming as light-years. The longest distance is not something tangible that can be seen, moved, altered, or touched. The longest distance exists as a result of long distance.

The longest distance is when your realize that you have to wait another week to see your significant other even though you’ve already gone two without their hug and when you make it a day without witnessing their smile it feels as though the world is a dimmer place. Casually overhearing someone pronounce the word “apricot” wrong and not having anyone to understand. Realizing that texting while waiting in the ice cream line just isn’t the same as having a conversation in person, and not even daring to go to the Italian ice line for fear of bittersweet sugar-laden flashbacks. Not knowing which details of your day are important enough to share on Skype and if the friendly cafeteria lady’s joke is worthy enough to take time away from relationship matters and as many “I love you’s” as can make up for the poor video quality. When you lose a loved one and need the solace and comfort of your significant other’s arms but have to wait until tests and schedules align just right, that’s the longest distance.

It goes beyond measurement, it goes to the core of your being. Feeling a part from the one you love.

My boyfriend and I each know what we want from life, each other….and our respective colleges. It is this hard won absolute knowledge that protects us from the usual long distance pitfalls: cheating, boredom, financial instability, a lack of trust, miscommunication, new interests, scheduling hassles, partying scandal drama, a fear of commitment.

We soar above it all knowing that no obstacle or fight or loneliness is worth giving up our relationship and our future together.

For 3 years, I’ve battled the longest distance. I’ve kept it back with postcards, candygrams, nightly Skype dates, good morning text messages, good night text messages, and the rare and highly valued visit. With 1 more year to go, I am determined to stave off the longest distance and defy the odds.

My long distance relationship has survived, my relationship has grown strong, and my heart has remained full.

When measured with love, the longest distance is no distance at all.

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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.

Minty Fresh

The smell of mint does something to me. It tickles my nose in such a way that I can’t help but smile. I just hear the name, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, mint, mint, mint, and I begin giggling like a school girl. When at restaurants, I load up on those after-dinner mints to a point where it’d be embarrassing to be seen with me. If you looked in my car, you’d be sure to find those dinner mints spilling out of the glove compartment whenever you’d reach inside expecting to grab a napkin. Come the holiday season, I’ll begin applying a peppermint lotion that tempts me to lick it off my fingers, and would certainly succeed if I didn’t have mint whipped cream to add on top of a steamy cup of mint hot chocolate served in a mug decked out with holly leaves (sorry, no mint mug) to distract me.

DSCN1091The other night, in an effort to complete a bucket list item and cook up some tasty and healthy recipes, I made a delicious fettuccine pistachio-mint pesto dish. Can you guess what main ingredient attracted me to this dish?

But while combing the grocery store for ingredients, I still found myself wanting for a small sprig of mint. Finally, I found some mint, but it definitely wasn’t a small sprig; instead, they had a mint plant. A whole plant producing that wonderful smell and delightful taste that has long left me cheerful! Needless to say, I bought it. The whole plant. And now it sits in a pot on our deck, and I find myself making more and more excuses to sit outside, smell my mint, and be happy.

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