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

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Writing Exercises, My Kind of a Workout

When I was in the seventh grade, I had an English teacher named Mrs. Stroloski. Mrs. Stroloski made us learn and memorize the most difficult of vocabulary words (though I was completely enamored with the word disheveled), encouraged us to read from books far overreaching our comprehension level (in my expert opinion as a middle school student), and bid us to write in cursive at all times during her class period (a skill I hadn’t put to use since the fourth grade). Aside from her gorgeous handwriting and affinity for the color purple, I was never too fond of Mrs. S.

However, there was one writing drill that she would instruct the class to complete every Friday, and thanks to this exercise, I can look back on my seventh grade English experience with a little more appreciation than most of my middle school counterparts.

strong pencilHere’s how it worked: For 5 minutes, you had to write. No stopping. No pausing. No delays. Just words and letters. Even if you couldn’t think of your next sentence, you just had to repeat the same word or the same letter until your thoughts continued to flow. Nonstop. No limits. No topics. Just you, and the constant movement of your pen writing sloppily half-forgotten cursive down on your composition notebook.

writing drillLooking back now, I can’t remember most of what I wrote as a seventh grader. I remember complementing Mrs. Stroloski on choosing the color purple to adorn the classroom, I remember talking about how excited I was that they were serving pizza in the cafeteria right after an eventful and delicious taco day, and I also vaguely remember reading A Christmas Carol in her class and expressing my love and devotion to Santa Claus. Riveting stuff, I know. I may have even used the word disheveled a time or two or ten.

But I think that’s the moment when I realized that it felt good to write. I did not like how my cursive capital letters looked, but I sure did like expressing myself through the written word.

Sometimes I still practice this drill, as it seems great for relieving writer’s block, but often, I simply reflect on my classroom experience with Mrs. S. and wonder if the other kids that she’s taught over the years still recall this activity and are able to remember what the word disheveled means.

Hypnosis: Where the Sun and Surf are Just a Countdown Away

Do you remember the last time that you laughed so hard that tears were streaming down your eyes and you couldn’t take a breath due to the hilarity of the situation occupying every cell in your being? For me, that time was tonight, and the cause was a hypnotist by the name of Jason Linett.

The first thing that Jason did was hypnotize the whole audience. We were bade to hold our arms out in front of us and close our eyes. With a slight suggestion, he placed a book in our left hand. It got heavy. Our hand went down. Some people giggled. Then, out of no where, a balloon became tied to our right hands at his command, it was floating up and up and up and our hand followed and followed and followed. Upon opening our eyes and seeing our once near hands placed a part, we knew we were in for a treat.

jason linettJason randomly chose 10 people from the audience (comprised of eager UMD undergrads braver than me). One of whom is a good friend of mine, and another of whom I’ve seen around school. This guy was legit. There were no plants. For some reason, I began feeling nervous and excited and anxious and pumped. And I was safely sitting in the second row.

Confidently, the hypnotist lead the volunteers up to relax their bodies and delve deep into their minds; slowly, he positioned them to lean against one another; and carefully he suggested the most silly yet wholesome activities for the participants to do. I watched as they enjoyed the sun in a beach, I smiled when they got comfortable in the sand, I giggled when the temperature began to rise, and I laughed so hard that I fell into the person next to me when it became 100 degrees on stage and they had to beg a waiter for a glass of water to quench their imagined thirst.

I sat on the edge of my seat amazed at the fact that a girl completely forgot about the number 6; I rose from my seat to watch as half the participants roamed the audience acting as secret agents and interacting with those seated, telling them to keep quiet and watch out for danger; I jumped up and down in my chair with glee as one boy was unable to leave his seat on stage, believing himself to be stuck to the chair. And when that same boy believed that his hands were internationally known lip syncing puppets who performed to Bohemian Rhapsody, I struggled for breath with the students around me.

A lot of the events that the University of Maryland provides for their students are casual and friendly and completely worth checking out. However, karaoke, comedians, and casino night have nothing on watching 10 people pretend to be in a bodybuilding contest and strut around the stage showing off their muscles.

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…

Shucking Corn and Loving Life

I never expected shucking corn to be one of life’s simple pleasures. But when you’re sitting on your back porch enjoying the light rays of sunshine, watching bunnies and chipmunks dart around in front of you, smiling at the memories of running outside to catch the falling hale so you could water the house plants with the tiny cubes of ice, remembering how you would catch fireflies for your mom and gently carry them back to the same steps you’re sitting on, and smelling the freshly cut grass from your neighbor’s lawn, it’s hard not to fall into happiness.

I never wanted to be out there dealing with errant silk strings and messy corn leaves, but I’m oh so grateful that I did, because I found more life on those steps than I had ever expected.

Junior Year, A Life in Summation

Wow. Life moves quickly. Not only am I unsure how I’ve already reached the end of my junior year of college, I’m also confused as to where my sophomore and freshman year went.

At the beginning of this year (one roommate, a new major, and countless hikes across campus ago) I was coming off a pretty rough time. I hadn’t really found a niche for myself in college (which was all too familiar to my high school experience) and I spent more time traveling home than livin’ it up college style.

My goal for this year was simple; say yes to life. And looking back on my time now, I can truthfully say that I said yes and experienced much of what college life had to offer (while still focusing on my studies)

Some of my experiences include:

  • Participating in Terp Thon and raising money for Children’s National Medical Center374409_4651322164662_876425834_n
  • Hosting Manicure Movie Monday in our lounge
  • Starting a job at UMD Dining Services and meeting some of my best friends
  • Taking more pictures than I will ever need
  • Throwing paint around with friends and strangers at HoliDSCN0474
  • Becoming a part of Sign Language Club and visiting Gallaudet University
  • Going on a dinner cruise at the Inner Harbor
  • Partaking in a murder mystery dinner and successfully avoiding accusations
  • Attending all of the movie nights and randomly themed UMD events
  • Listened to the Dalai Lama give a lecture on peace
  • Gaining an insane amount of weight from not watching my health and then working it all off522422_10200226503339411_1759804122_n
  • Participating in an Alternative Spring Break and becoming an advocate for domestic violence victims
  • Making an effort to hang out with friends and get in touch with people
  • Running my first 5K to benefit Yeardly LoveIMG_1931
  • Attending all of the UMD men’s soccer games and becoming part of the Crew
  • Crossing two items off of my bucket list (dying my hair red and attending a concert)
  • Receiving 12 free UMD t-shirts
  • Cheering my football team onto a Super Bowl victory
  • STARTED A BLOG!

Holy cow I’ve done a lot. I know I’ve missed listing a ton more activities, but I’m just grateful that I’ll have this blog to look back so that I can relive all of these wonderful experiences.

Also, don’t expect much from me this summer, because I’m pretty sure it’ll take me up until September to recover from my junior year.

A Daughter’s Love, A Mother’s Day

mother's day heartAs I hope everyone was aware, the most anticipated and stressful day, Mother’s Day, was this past Sunday. Even though I’m away at school and knee deep in studying for finals, I welcomed the break to tell my mother how much I appreciate and love her for all she’s done. I had a 4 Phase Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack strategy, and I welcomed the chance to put it into action.

It began Saturday night when I decided to drive back home for Phase1. I didn’t get home until late Saturday night and as I opened the garage door, I saw my mom’s jaw drop in surprise at my presence. She had no idea I’d be making the trip back home, as the last time we talked she had sadly agreed that we may as well put Mother’s Day off until next week. Delay the one day of the year dedicated to such a wonderful woman? No. Phase 1, shock and awe, complete.

Phase 2 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack involved me, my brother, and my father taking my mom out for a delicious breakfast of blueberry egg and cheese bagel sandwiches at a restaurant we’ve been frequenting since I was a child. This Phase was just as much for me as for my mother. She loved the consideration and the opportunity to relive our former Sunday morning tradition, and I loved my buttery bagel.

IMG_2082Phase 3 involved helping my mom cook dinner. While most people tend to go out for this special day, my mom opted to eat in for a delicious dinner of scallops and asparagus. Despite her insistence that she be the one to prepare the meal (which I was oh so grateful for), I helped prepare some fruits and vegetables for the occasion. It was so much nicer to relax at home than to spend such an intimate day in a crowded restaurant brimming with strangers and overpriced specials.

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago...

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago…

Next, came Super Phase 4 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack, and the presentation of my mom’s true gift. I provided her with a homemade card and the promise of taking family pictures sometime over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to give her a gift that truly expressed how much I care about her and our family, and by cementing our love in a series of cheesy looking photographs, I know that we will always have a reminder of how much we care for one another.

Overall, the day may not have been outrageously special, but I’m just glad that I could spend some time with my mother and tell her how much I appreciate everything she has done for me, because she has truly sacrificed everything to provide the best opportunities for my future. Her patience, dedication, and love are gifts that I will always recognize, and her effort to provide for me is a gift that I never intend to waste. It’s a bit sad that I only take the pains to acknowledge and celebrate these feelings one day of the year. All of the people I love should know exactly how deeply I care for them, and they deserve to hear my heartfelt expressions of love throughout the year.

mother's day meme

Charm City

baltimore skylineI’ve lived just outside of Baltimore, MD my whole life. As a child, I never frequented the city unless it was to visit the prairie dogs at the Zoo or pay testament to Barney on Ice. Once I grew up a tad and  figured out how to properly work the light rail, I could really begin to appreciate the beauty of the city and everything Baltimore had to offer (my Super Bowl-winning Ravens). I fell in love.

I don’t consider myself a city girl by any means, but there’s just something about Baltimore that pulls on my heart strings and makes me feel like I’m comfortably at home but also capable of discovering untold adventures. Everything that Baltimore offers is dear to me and I am so grateful that I’ve grown up next to such a prominent and delightful town.

I think Tracey does a pretty good job of describing Charm City:

In Baltimore, I’ve:

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The Harbor was gorgeous at night

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The prize was meeting Torrey Smith. GIVE ME MORE CARDS!

Played Bingo in Ravens stadium.

Celebrated my anniversary on the Inner Harbor.

Gotten an internship with a premier medical center.

Tolerated my brother at baseball games.

Beauty and the Beast!

Beauty and the Beast!

Bonded with my Dad on the 20 yard line.

Relived my childhood with my Mom.

And created memories that are bound to last a lifetime.

We all have that one special place around where we grew up that just calls to us, and for me, that’s Baltimore. I hope that one day I can find some way to give back to the city I love. For right now, I’m content to just reflect on all the wonderful experiences it’s lent me and continue planning for more memorable times.

baltimore harbor