Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Did Its Best, Kids

Considering it's the last day of the year, I figured it was a good a time as any to write something that concludes 2012. It's a shame inspiration isn't really coming to me now, though. At this point I have about ten hours of the year left to get this done, and it just might take all that time.
So 2012. "A" for effort. 2011 was a truly wonderful year, probably the best of my life, and 2012 did its best to compete. It was never really going to come out on top, but everyone involved went through the motions anyway and had a surprisingly good time along the way. I'm sure there's a metaphor that goes along with this, but I'm struggling to think of it right now. Let me get back to you. I just wrote this entire post and came back to this and still have nothing. That will be my resolution for 2013- thinking of an appropriate metaphor for this.

Early 2012 was pretty great, as it was the final semester with all my friends from study abroad together at school. We went on various adventures like:
- attending our friends' Anthropology colloquium which, ok, was about as exciting as it sounds, but they were in charge of it and we got to keep the extra food from the intermission. I ate cheese and crackers like a king for a week. Also, there was a little girl there who wouldn't let me out of the room without "the password" and I very nearly kneed a seven-year-old in the face.

- spending spring break in Texas with my friends' family, where we ate at the absolute best chicken restaurant in existence and my hand was attacked by a deer. At the time it was also March Madness, so we all spent about two days doing nothing but watching basketball and I survived, which is pretty miraculous.
- throwing a surprise birthday party for my friends' because their real birthday is in July so they never get to celebrate it at school. We had cake and Happy Feet plates for the cake. Later that night I had to leave the party to be voted in as the next president of the History Club. It was a fairly eventful day.

This summer was spent down on the Massachusetts South Shore, working as a counselor at a day camp. The whole experience was wicked fun, although a good half of it was yelling at kids to walk. I also slept outside for the first time, without a tent or insect repellent. On an unrelated note, I also learned I can make it through a ten hour work day after getting no sleep and lying on a rock all night.

This later part of the year has been a bit of a struggle, as I entered into my most work-intensive semester yet, without almost all of my best friends to distract me or act as a buffer against the suck. I found various other sources though, so I didn't manage to completely lose my mind. It occasionally got incredibly lonely, but every time a friend from somewhere in the country or across the ocean would do something unprompted to make me feel included and missed. If nothing else, 2012 showed me how great my friends are, even when it's not necessarily convenient.

I have hope for 2013 to be great. I start student teaching full time, and then start grad school. I'm going on a school trip with friends in May to Europe, and will be able to see my friends who live there. Hopefully, I'm going back to camp this summer (if I can find somewhere to live). Regardless of where I am though, the great people I have in my life will stay there. That's not changing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

So today is election day in America. In case you happened to forget that, one glance at your Facebook feed should be more than enough to remind you. Yes, young Americans, posting a political status makes you a completely mature, intellectual person. We're all very proud you voted.
Ok, I am actually really proud my friends are excited about voting. For a lot of them, it's their first time voting in a presidential election. For me, it's my second time around, and all the election day talk has made me think about what my life was like four years ago and how much has changed since then. SPOILER ALERT: a lot has.

On election day in 2008, I had been 18 for about a month. Sure, it's a slim margin to make it by, but I took advantage of it anyway. My parents kept me home from school that day (I think I was feeling a little sick and they just let me stay home) so we all went together to vote. I walked into my former elementary school, which I hadn't really been inside since the last day of 5th grade, and it felt strange to be back for such an incredibly adult thing to do. We headed into the gym and I saw the tables and booths set up and was immediately overwhelmed. I turned to my mom to let her lead the way, and she just gave me her "After you" look and hand motion that is a standard tool of hers when she wants me to take charge. I hate it, even though I need it. But I led us to the "G" table anyway. I got my ballot first and found the nearest open booth. I took the special marker they give you and commenced to stare at my empty ballot for a few minutes, terrified of making a mistake. I slowly filled in each bubble, moving a little faster when I got to the last sections, that included names and positions I'd never heard of in my life. "This guy's the incumbent, I bet he's doing a fine job. Here, have a vote, sir." Eventually I pulled back the curtain and walked over to the counting machine, only to find my parents already there waiting for me, with identical looks of amused impatience on their faces.
Then they bought me lunch and my mom and I went shopping.

This year, almost every aspect of my voting experience was different, because every aspect of my life is so completely different. Not only was I in a completely different state, but I voted absentee instead of in-person, and was far more well-informed this time around. I probably thought I was well-versed on the issues and was making an informed decision when I was a senior in high school, but as a senior in college now, I really doubt that. I think four years ago I just voted with my gut and lucked out. I had just finished applying for college, and between that, my classes, marching band, and my increasingly demanding social life, politics got kind of pushed to the periphery of my life. This year, I've been paying attention and could actually defend my stance and decisions. And even though I am voting for the same person I did four years ago, at least now I know why he has my vote.

Once, in London, a local asked me how Americans have freedom. I struggled answering it because it seemed like such an absurd question. But I think a vital part of it that shouldn't be ignored is how American adults, regardless of age or standing in life, have the right and the opportunity to have a say in how their government is run. The effectiveness of the process can be debated, but the principle remains the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 YouTube Survey (On Blogspot)

Last year around this time I wrote a post answering the questions to the 2011 YouTube survey, and the next edition of it just came out. And because it lends itself easily to lazy blogging, I figured I might as well do it. So here. Learn yourself some.

1)Why are you called that?
My parents knew my name had to start with an "S" because my sister's name started with "R" like my dad, and my mom, whose name starts with "S" needed a child with an alliterative name as well. I was nearly called "Samantha" but my dad's brother's name is "Sam," and he thought that was too close. I remember being little and hearing that story and feeling disappointed, because Samantha is the name of the turn-of-the-century American Girl. I thought it would have been awesome to share her name.
I don't know a lot about my last name, except it's Welsh, people commonly mistake it for the name of a mythical creature, and the crest for it is the ugliest thing you've ever seen in your life. I just tried to find it online, but the ones that show up in Google are so much nicer than the ones my family had printed on sweatshirts my sister and I wore out in public when we were little.
2)Tell us about your favorite schoolteacher
I had quite a few really good teachers, so picking just one is difficult. I'd probably go with my Sophomore AP US History teacher, who I also student aided for during my Senior year. Considering I took her class six years ago, I don't remember a lot of details from the course, but I do recall really enjoying it, even though the expectations and standards were higher than I had been used to.
What really stood out to me was this teacher's obvious concern for her students' success. I remember one day my Senior year, I was helping her organize checks students had turned in for AP tests (she was also the head of the entire AP program). I was noticing how some of my classmates' families had made out checks for 200 to 300 dollars because they were taking a handful, maybe more, AP tests. I wasn't feeling too great about myself, because my family had been going through some fiscal hard times and couldn't have easily afforded those exams even if I had the mental capacity to get through those classes (spoiler alert: I didn't). She was telling me how flawed the system was, in charging students and families so much for wanting to achieve higher levels of ability. And she said something along the lines of, "And then there's students like you, who maybe can't afford it but absolutely should have the opportunity to take them. I mean, I would pay YOU  to take these tests."
That just meant the world to me.
3)What's the strangest food you've ever eaten?
My dad tried to get me to take a bite of his Buffalo Burger when we were traveling through South Dakota. It was a very weird experience, because we had just seen some bison as we were driving through the area, and had stopped to admire them. It was a case of, "Here's this beautiful, adorable, nearly extinct animal. Isn't it great? HERE, EAT IT NOW." No, thanks. I'll pass.
I tend to not eat strange foods, but my standards for food quality are not as high as other people's. This was especially apparent in London, when I was in charge of buying my own groceries. To save money, I would buy the cheapest products, which usually came in cans. Canned rice pudding and macaroni and cheese were my favorites, and both completely grossed out my friends. But I stand by my decisions. My average weekly grocery bill was 8 pounds, which is like 12-3 dollars. I consider that a win.
4)Tell us about your first gig
I went to my first real concert when I was in high school, when I went with some friends to see Hawk Nelson, a still fairly obscure Christian Rock band in some random auditorium of a small college in Minneapolis. Or Saint Paul. They're both the same, it doesn't even matter. Everyone wore the tour shirt that was included with the price of admission, which is still one of my favorite shirts. For some reason, the picture on the back of it is a monster's face, which really freaked out a few of my friends, so I took vengeful joy in wearing it when I sat in front of them in German class. Nothing quite like those unblinking eyes staring into your soul when you're trying to conjugate verbs. The first opening act of the gig played the Hannah Montana theme song and I shared a *moment* with a guitarist from Run Kid Run (the other opening act) when I waved to him in the lobby afterward and he waved back- with a look of utter confusion on his face. It was awesome.
5)What is your favorite place in the world?
The obvious (and, frankly, vague) answer to this is "London." The city has great sandwiches on every corner, well-dressed guys, fascinating history, accents, and so many flags. That's literally all I want from life.
I mean, I also have friends there. But they're totally secondary to food and flags.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stabbed With Spoons- Softball Stories

A few weeks ago, I played in a 50-inning marathon softball game, and that day reminded me of the years I spent loving the sport. Now that I have finally recovered from every muscle in me hurting and the insane face sunburn I got that day, I thought I should reminisce a little and share my favorite softball stories from my adolescence.

 -The summer when I was thirteen was probably my favorite traveling softball season, not because of the games we played that year (I actually can't recall if we were even that good), but because I loved my teammates. It became a habit for us to get together and have sleepovers after nearly every game that season. Usually, at some point during these nights, the cards would come out and we'd raid the cutlery drawer so we could play Spoons. In case anyone's childhood totally sucked and doesn't know what that game is, it's this: you sit in a circle, with a collection of spoons in the middle and pass cards from person to person until someone gets four of a kind. When they do, they take a spoon from the middle, and everyone else then has to get a spoon as well. There are one few spoon in the middle than players, and the person who doesn't grab a spoon is out. Now, being fairly competitive teenage girls, this game escalated from a friendly game to a contest of strength and willpower. I would later refer to the game as "Full-Contact Spoons," as it became common for the first person to get four of a kind to grab a handful of spoons, and throw them away from the circle. Oftentimes they ended up on the stairs and underneath furniture.
 I think we once even played in the hallway of a hotel we were staying at for a tournament, and people threw spoons all the way down the hall, and we most definitely did not stop playing when other guests had to pass by.

We also played in an airport a few years later, with pens instead of spoons. I don't think anyone got stabbed, though I can't verify that.

-When I was fourteen, my team qualified and played in a national tournament in Colorado. This was very important to me, because my sister had played in many nationals for the past few years, and this was finally my opportunity to do the same. (It would end up being my only chance- the general trend growing up was my sister's teams were more skilled, but my teams had more fun) Throughout the tournament, I pitched a fair amount, but didn't hit. (I wasn't very good at batting- turns out I would peak in two years for about two  months. Fun fact.) However, for one game against a team from... Oregon? Washington? somewhere... due to some weird rule, I needed to hit. I was pretty intimidated and nervous, and my coaches' looks of, "Oh, shit" didn't really help. But somehow I made contact, got on base, and even scored a few minutes later.

Since that was my only at-bat for the entire tournament, technically that means I batted 1000. I'm a pretty big deal.
-Also, right after that game, a few of us went back to our hotel and went swimming in their pool. As we were hanging out, some other families came in and started talking to our moms. They said they were playing in the same tournament we were and they were from... Oregon? Washington? somewhere... and our moms talked about how proud and happy they were we just beat a team from that same state. It quickly came out that these nice people were from the same team we just beat... by quite a margin I believe. I swam away from that uncomfortable situation so fast I left a wake behind me.
-My high school softball coach was also a math teacher, and he dedicated half his classroom to displaying stuff from the softball team. This included 5x7 photos of each varsity player that took up an entire wall. My senior year, I had him for Honors Pre-Calc (and I was similar in math skill as I was in softball- well intentioned, though lacking in certain areas of motivation and ability). That fall, I was a member of the marching band as well, and a friend took a picture of me in my uniform before one of our performances, looking excited because I thought it was our last football half-time show (marching band gets exhausting after awhile and I was ready to leave the unflattering pants and fuzzy hats behind). The Monday after this was taken, I walked into Pre-Calc past my friends from the last class all laughing at me and see my coach, staring at me with a slightly crazed grin. He moves aside so I can see this picture, hanging on the wall and taking the place of my normal softball picture...


Monday, July 23, 2012

I Might Die Here: An Ethnographic Study on Massachusetts

Spending the summer in Massachusetts has provided me with an interesting view into a previously unseen subculture in America. After moving here a few years back and living and attending school on the east coast, I have been slowing picking up on the unique vernacular and little differences in personalities that persist in the eastern area of the country. However, Massachusetts frankly  kind of has its own thing going on. The state is like that one friend you have who you have a lot in common with and is great, but they have certain things they do on the weekend that you don't really know a lot about or even really talk about because you think they're a little weird.
That metaphor is a little stretched, but I'm going for it.
One of the first things I learned when I was thrown into the company of many born-and-bred Massachusetts residents was the existence of the term "lax bro." A lot of people just threw around this phrase and because I had never heard it before and I couldn't quite hear what they were saying I was totally perplexed about what was happening. Eventually it was explained to me that, obviously, lax is short for lacrosse and the term refers to those guys who sport their lacrosse pennies every day, bond with other bros through man-hugs and comparing college football teams, and have muscles that, in general, take up the space of three average-sized middle school students. Upon reflection, I realized that even though this phrase was new to me, I had known many, many other "lax bros" back home when I was going through school. What's kind of interesting is that the bros I knew years ago I remember not being very pleasant people at all, whereas those I have recently met in Massachusetts are almost ridiculously nice. Now, this could be the result of a number of reasons, but this is an ethnography, not a psychological assessment. And thank goodness for that.
Now, one of my more prevalent personality flaws is my habit of giving a lot of thought to certain things that really have no reason to be thought of for any extended period of time. Because of this, I was doing a sort of personal analysis of the "lax bro" term and realized this description and idea were not exclusive to guys who play lacrosse, by any means. So I came up with my own term of "Mass bro" as a way to further categorize people I see and meet, because nothing bad has every happened from doing that. The "Mass bro" differs from any given jock or fraternity member in subtle but distinctive ways. An absolute resolution to the superiority of the sports teams of Boston is an intrinsic necessity in their personalities, along with perhaps an unknown ignorance of areas of America that did not play key roles in the Revolution.  So basically, every guy my first college roommate has dated.
I learned of the legend and reputation of the Masshole in my early days of living in the east, and spent the past three years gaining experience with them firsthand as I commuted through the area. It is a common belief that all stereotypes are based in at least a tiny amount of truth. However, this stereotype exists because it is based in what is equivalent to the Pacific Ocean of truths. Being a paranoid and defensive, yet incredibly angry driver regardless, my time behind the wheel in Massachusetts has led my to be constantly terrified for my life, and also filled with a near-omnipresent rage at everyone on the road. To make matters worse, the roads here are incredibly twisted and full of curves, and when you take overly-bold drivers into the equation, it's horrifying. For example, there is one intersection nearby where the road curves and the brush is thick so when turning left, you literally cannot see if anyone is coming on the right. You just have to place your bet, spin the wheel, and hope the ball lands on the color that doesn't end up with you dying in twisted metal and fire.
Also, drivers in Massachusetts don't believe in turn signals. I honestly think that's the first lesson they teach in the schools here: "Now kids, what did we learn today? 'Letting other people know which way you are going is quitting.'"
These quirks and various aspects to the psyche of Massachusetts are not limited to a specific gender or age demographic, either. I have seen them exhibited in young boys in elementary school to older women, spending their golden years leading ghost tours around Plymouth. And it is not something I resent or disdain in any way. In fact, I have been hearing "r"'s slowly leaving my words as I speak, and the David Tennant cut-out in my room has a Sox hat on. If anything, I am one of them.
You're welcome for FREEDOM, America.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fact: All Camp Songs Are Embarassing

This summer I am down in Massachusetts, living with my friend Emily and working at a local day camp. It seemed to be a better decision for my career when compared to simply returning to Christmas Tree Shop for another four months of grumpy foreigners on vacation and older locals stocking up on Portuguese buns (which are, for the record, delicious), sunscreen, and novelty beach home decor. And so far, I am loving my time at camp, partially because, unlike the majority of the other employees, who grew up here, I have limited experience with the whole camp atmosphere and protocol. Still, growing accostomed to working there has gotten me to thinking and reminiscing about the three camps I did attend when I was growing up, before softball became my entire existence.
1) Camp Winnahupe
This was a Girl Scout camp I attended for a week when I was very small, probably when I was around 5 to 6, so my memories of it are very  limited. Here's what I do recall:
-my group being told to bring up a bucket of water from the lake and me blatantly refusing to help
-my counselor saying we weren't leaving until every girl smiled, and when I did, she said she wanted to see me smile with my teeth showing and I said, and this is a direct quote, "I don't smile like that." I was kind of a little shit, wasn't I?
-the camp lasted a week but only one of these days included staying overnight in tents, and it was a completely awful experience. I don't remember why it was awful, it just was. I don't think our early 90's tents were super great at keeping out the bugs.
-all the campers got purple shirts and for some reason that shirt just stood out in my memory for years and years afterward. It wasn't even a particularly cool shirt. I probably just liked purple. A lot.
2) Camp Tecumseh
This was another Girl Scout camp I attended with my troop when I was maybe around 8 or 9, and I honestly have no recollection about if it was a day camp or a sleep-away camp. Here's what I do remember:
-the camp had a climbing wall I was absolutely terrified of and I can't recall if I put up enough of a fuss that they let me out of having to go up it. I was pretty steadfastly anti-fun as a child. Still am, frankly.
-the camp also had this slide that was made up of giant black tubing set up on a gently incline, and it was dubbed "The Black Hole." This was the coolest thing at camp because you couldn't see anything as you went down it and to an 8-year-old, that's as terrifying as it gets. But there was a special badge made just for kids who went down it that said, "I survived the Black Hole" on it and it looked super bomb on the back of my Brownies vest.
-as I was waiting in line for the Black Hole, I was stung by a bee for the first (and, so far, only) time in my life. It stung me on the side of my neck so when it happened I instinctively kind of squished my shoulder to my head and squished the asshole. After I had recovered from the sting, some other girls told my how lucky I was to have gotten stung where I had been, because, apparently, if it had been just a few inches to the left, and I'd been stung right on the back of my neck on my spine, I would have been paralyzed. And really, that must be true, because I heard it from the entomolgical experts of the Girl Scouts of America.
-we'd have meals in the dining hall, but we could never just eat in peace. At every meal time the whole room would be forced to participate in rousing renditions of songs about Johnny Appleseed and the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Low, whose name I did not just have to Google to remember. I hated camp songs. But we'll get to that.
Right now.
3) Camp Wapo
This was a church camp I attended for a week after third grade, and it was super popular and all the cool kids at my church went to it. And I, having just moved to the area in February, desperately wanted to be cool and accepted. If only I could go back and tell myself how early that ship had already sailed. But anyway:
-being a Christian overnight camp, there was strong emphasis on singing as a form of worship for kids. Now, as self-concious and perpetually worried about everything I am these days, as a child I was exponentially worse. So every time a song started that involved dramatic and extensive gesticulations, as most did, I cringed emotionally and physically. I just kept thinking, "Can't I love God without having to sing about the Pharoh letting us go and God's different names in multiple rounds?" Which is a question I still believe is valid.
-like many other camps, businesses, and housing developments, this area was situated on a lake. As a general rule, swimming in lakes is a pretty disgusting situation to be in, but if you don't think about what is in the water surrounding you, it's fine. One day that week at camp, I was swimming with my friend, and the unpleastantness of the water became unavoidable. We were just floating there, when out of nowhere a bloody, dead fish appeared right next to us, somehow staring into our souls with its own soulless, unseeing eyes. It was gross.
-on one of the last nights, the whole camp gathered together for some kind of candlelight worship thing. For some reason that remains unclear to me, all the campers had crosses put onto our foreheads with ashes despite it being months after Ash Wednesday. Throughout the worship-service-thing, my group couldn't decide if we were supposed to keep the ashes on our heads or not, so a few of us wiped ours off because it felt weird. We soon found out we weren't supposed to do that (Sorry, God), and I felt totally embarassed as a couselor cleaned off my empty forehead as we left. In retrospect, it wasn't that big a deal but at the time I was like shitshitSHITshitshitshitSHITSHIT only not really because shockingly I didn't think or talk like that at 8.
So while it may seem like my camp experiences were all totally awful, I actually remember generally really enjoying my time at those places. After writing this, I think my camp memories more just show the roots of my personal vices or weird issues. I was a strange child, and am now a strange adult. But at least some progress has totally been made because where before when a camp song came up I cowered in a corner now I can be like SUPER LIZARD SUPER LIZARD SEE HIM SWIM SEE HIM SWIM IN AND OUT OF WATER IN AND OUT OF WATER WITH HIS FINS WITH HIS FINS. I like camp.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Different-Sized Infinities: A Guide to Pretentious but Accurate Ideas

Last night I stayed up late (well late for me, it was like 1:30am) re-reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I had originally read this book in January when it was released, but the story was just as engaging and thought-provoking now, six months later. That's the thing I love about good literature, reading it once is simply not enough. One particular quote from the narrative stuck out to me while I was reading and laughing while also perpetually crying my eyes out (it's that kind of book). The quote is, "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities." For the weeks and months following the novel's release this, among many, many, others (John Green is an exceptionally quotable person) floated around Tumblr as the masses took to photoshop and other editing capabilities to visually portray their favorite thoughts and ideas.

As I saw this quote over and over (and over and over and over- teenagers and Green fans can be a little exhaustive in their enthusiasm) I tried to understand it, and came up short each time. By its very definition, infinity doesn't really have a size at all, and if it does, it is most certainly one size. That's simple logic.

However, reading the story again yesterday, I think I finally understood the point that was being made. Explained mathematically in TFIOS; there is an infinite amount of numbers between 0 and 1, with .1, .11, .112, and so on. But there is also an infinite amount between 0 and 2, but that infinity would be bigger because there is, just, more. The technical and number-y logic behind this may be flawed, I don't know, but I'm a proponent of metaphor regardless. It's not a perfect representation of relationships and memories, but I like the idea.

While in Math, the infinities get bigger when the space increases, in my life this has not been the case. The physical duration of time spent in a certain place with certain people has provided no determination of importance or prominence in future memory. Whether it was four years back home where I was happy and comfortable, four months abroad where I woke up, or a year in Connecticut where I discovered happiness doesn't have to be temporary, the infinities given to me were equally spectacular. These occasions may change or shrink in importance to me later, as I add to my lexicon of experience, but right now I treasure them.

And I realize that as I believed earlier, this thought that infinities change in size defies even the most basic logic. But really, this can be said also of many of the thoughts and ideals that make independent thought and belief interesting. If everything was logical and easily explained, literature would be pretty useless.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Prom kind of sucks, guys.

 Around this time across the country, high school students are gearing up for prom, the annual demonstration of awkwardly posed pictures and dancing to songs no one actually enjoys. To commemorate this tradition, I am going to be sharing three different prom stories, even though I'm fairly certain the only thing less interesting than one's own prom, are the prom stories of someone else. Deal with it.
The year I was a sophomore in high school, the night of prom that spring was spent in my family room in the company of my best friend. Her brother was my sister's date, and we spent the evening imagining the pair of them being much more adorable than they actually were. A hefty chunk of the night was used to build, without question, the best blanket fort I have ever made in my entire life (which is saying something). After this was completed, we watched "Finding Neverland" inside it, and you can ask anyone, that is undoubtedly one of the absolute best movies to watch while being inside a blanket fort. The next morning we were woken up by my mom bringing us breakfast from McDonald's which is a completely terrific way to begin a day, if you just don't think about what you just ate.
This was the year I actually went to my Senior prom, and the whole experience was entirely predictable. I mean, I loved it, but really nothing happened that doesn't happen at every prom. I tried to coax not-serial-killer smiles from my boyfriend at the time (he struggled with those), I comforted my friend through hearing a song that reminded her of her ex, and I saw people I hated grind against other people I hated while me, with my posse of band friends danced awkwardly on the periphery. Totally standard. After the dance, the group of us went back to my boyfriend's house, where we all fell asleep watching "Mama Mia," a film choice I to this day do not understand.
Can we actually back up a bit and discuss how I was asked? Of course we can, this is my blog.
For some reason my high school boyfriend for whatever reason always decided to ask me important questions when I was looking my worst. He asked me to Homecoming in the fall right before an all-day marching band competition at our school, when I was in sweatpants and a t-shirt. He asked me to be his girlfriend on the bus after our marching band played a show, so I was in disgusting black overalls and that year's show shirt (which happens to look like two stick figures doing it, but I digress) and my hair was plastered to my scalp with sweat. I thought he was going to ask me to prom when he volunteered to be the announcer for one of my softball games that spring. That would have made sense, because at my school, asking someone to homecoming and prom usually involves a bit of spectacle. For example, a friend of mine asked my other friend to prom by putting it on a slide that was part of a lecture in their AP Physics class. His dad was actually the teacher of that class and it sounded hilarious and kind of awkward for everyone involved, and that was the one day I was sorry I lacked the mental capacity to be in that class. Anyway, instead of doing it over the speaker at my game, he waited a few more days and set up a cute scavenger hunt in my house that ended with him asking. And that would have been totally fine, if it hadn't happened immediately after I returned home from the most grueling softball practice I had all year. I was exhausted and sweaty and frankly not in any kind of mood for that. We ran a lot at practice. I do not like to run. He had no way of knowing this would be the case, but still.
Also, about an hour after this happened, I went to have coffee with another guy friend of mine, who tried to get me to go to prom with his friend. Because that is my life, apparently. 
To finish off our semester in London, the program I was with decided to throw us a "prom" on one of our last nights there. Unfortunately, this was planned to take place a few hours after our final projects were presented, but these went far too long over the time limit they were alotted. This caused all of us to scramble home, throw on our H&M dresses, quickly pre-game what we could, and head back, all in about forty minutes. The rest of the night consisted of taking pictures, eating a bit, drinking more, and my friend Emily showing off Greg to the entirety of our program, including our director who said he looked, "very British." The night got slowly more ridiculous, cumulating with our director singing the entire 8-minute version of "American Pie," then telling the room how she wanted to marry one of the more charming guys in our program. So another typical American prom, really.

I just realized the first story was from graduation night that year, not prom. Doesn't matter: same people, similar shinanigans, you get the picture.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's Called YouTube, Not MeTube... for a good reason.

Throughout my freshman year in college, I made YouTube videos that I then took down a year later. Despite my attempts to make them interesting and hilarious, they came out uncomfortable and kind of sad. A few days ago I finally took the initiative to go through the footage I shot for them I still had on my computer, and deleted it. Still, I did put a fair amount of work and time into them, so I put together the least embarrassing parts from all of them into a "highlights reel" which is a term that frankly gives me far, far too much credit. What follows are the only clips I could salvage that don't make me want to hide in a cupboard, brushing off spiders and sadly playing with old-fashioned soldier toys. I'm not sure about the execution of that Harry Potter joke.
I choose to leave these clips without their context. I think it adds to the whole thing I have going on here.
And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Graduation Is A Menace

Yesterday, four of my best friends graduated college, and I'm conflicted about it. On one side, I'm so incredibly proud of all of them. Allison and Paige completed an Honors Thesis apiece, which included hours of research, looking at ancient seeds under a telescope, and gluing centuries-old ceramics back together. Emily completed an internship that greatly improved a section of the university's library. Alyssa put an incredible amount of work into completing her degree, and already is the best at what she plans to do. It's been a long year of unrealistic assignment expectations and horrible professors, and I know we're all glad to finally have it over with.

Still, I'm just so sad they're leaving. We all met and lived studying abroad last year and they're a major piece of why going to London was probably the best decision I've made. Having only known them for a year and a half, they are just as, maybe closer to me than other friends I've known for years. The prospect of going back to school next fall without them is very sad for me. It's hard to think that I'll never grab lunch with Emily after my Legal History class every Tuesday and Thursday, that I won't laugh at Allison and Paige's disgusted faces when Alyssa talks about infants.

It seems that my life for the past few years has been full of endings. I first left Minnesota, which I've written about before and which was extremely difficult for me. Then my time in London ended, obviously, and I thought that my time there would be the happiest I would be for a while. But this past year spent with the friends I met there was full of incredible joy with the best people I know. And now that is completed as well, which just sucks. People always tell you know that it is so much easier today to keep in touch with friends post-graduation because of social media and technology, and that's true, but not to the extent students are lead to believe. Out of my friends from high school, who I thought I would never stop talking to, I even somewhat regularly speak to just one. And that's only because we're both active on Twitter and it's easy for us to just post snide responses to each other. (That's just kind of how our relationship is- once in high school a friend in German class told us she liked to just sit back and watch us bicker back and forth because it was hilarious. It's true, though. We're both incredibly witty. Though me a little more so.) I'm terrified that will happen again with this group.

It doesn't help that my friends are very talented and brilliant, so they are leaving for fantastic opportunities abroad. One is interning with some important international law place (that's the official name) in the Hague, another is going on an archaeological dig in Germany, and another is going to grad school in London (don't be too impressed- it's for library studies which is honestly barely even a real thing). And I'm so proud of all of them, but for those who are not aware, Europe is quite a distance away, and does not lend itself to easy visits.

It must be said though that despite how monumentally sucky each ending was, they all led to the next awesome thing. I really hate that saying about closed doors and open windows, so I refuse to admit it relevancy to this. I can only hope that the crappiness I feel now will be compensated by the next great thing later.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let Me Play You "Call Me Maybe," the Song of My People

So last Sunday a trio of YouTube musicians, Dave Days, Alex Goot, and Chad Sugg released a cover of the latest "This is so bad wait why am I singing along what is this witchcraft?" song, "Call Me Maybe." Now, before this, I had only heard the song about two times, and only really knew a smattering of the chorus. After this video appeared in my YouTube subscription box on Sunday morning, I was replaying it, using all three of the guys' channels (you know, to be fair with my views) for the next 48 hours. Continuously. I wish I could explain to you the extent to which I am not kidding.

For full understanding of this post, this might be necessary information:

Now, what is it about this particular video that made it so addicting that I still find myself playing it multiple times in a row, five days after its release?
Part of it is the song. It has the One Direction-Justin Bieber-I Hate Myself That I Love This aspect to it. Sure, it's vapid, lacking in any real lyrical substance, and very poorly rhymed. But the thing is catchy as hell.
Another, probably larger aspect to this video's hold on me has to be, however, the musicians. They're attractive. I can say that, because I'm 21, and at this age that's still a valid excuse to like someone. But let's not talk about Dave Days in this video because he's wearing a baseball hat sideways and gives these "Hey gurl" looks to the camera throughout the video that unsettle me.
They main theme of the video is two guys, Alex and Chad, decide to emulate Dave (who is a very successful and popular YouTube musician) and play some music. But hold the phone now, they're NERDS. Well that just won't do. So Dave Days magically exits their TV and sings the second verse then transforms them into rock stars. The three finish the song in new clothes and a fresh cloud of dry ice.

So here's the thing: both first-half and second-half "types" of guys are appealing to me. And not just for the, "Well, Sara, they're the same people with the same faces so yeah," but the personalities they portray. The ukelele-playing, horn-rimmed glasses wearing guys dancing with clenched fists makes me just as happy as the fashionable teen-girl-dream-fodder who take their places. (On a related note: seriously, how easy is it for guys to dress well? Grab a pair of jeans, a nice button-down or clean t-shirt, maybe a tie or a jacket, done. It's not fair.)
What it comes down to is this: regardless of appearance, throughout the video, the abilities and skills of the guys shine through. And I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is nothing more attractive than talent.

Also, hotness.

But mostly talent.

It's 50/50.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Second Annual BEDFORT

So last year for Spring Break I recounted my experiences with a post-a-day for week, and called it BEDFORT because of reasons. I could do that again this year, but that sounds like a lot of work. Instead, I think I'll just rant about some stuff that happened.
My roommates and I flew down to Texas for the week and stayed at the house of two of them. To get there, we flew from Hartford airport to Dallas, with a connection in Newark. Now, the flight from Hartford to Newark is very, very short, and only takes about forty minutes. We ended up sitting in the airport for about three hours, because this tiny, insignificant flight was delayed about two hours. At the time we were supposed to be boarding, we were notified the plane was about to leave from New Jersey to arrive there in about an hour. I don't handle stressful situations and delays well. This is a fact. Even though we made the time go faster playing the "I hope Rick Santorum" game, where you come up with funny and awful situations to happen to Rick Santorum. For example, "I hope Rick Santorum falls off Rainbow Road in Mario Cart every time he tries to drift," and "I hope Rick Santorum gets attacked by geese when he visits Oxford." (Which is something that happened to us last year.) We also wasted time by trying to figure out what sport the guys walking around in khakis and white polos played. The final verdict I believe was baseball. But we were discussing it for an embarassingly long time.
By the time we finally arrived in New Jersey, we were in serious danger of missing our flight. Racing out of the gate, we discovered we needed to get two terminals away, and boarding had started ten minutes ago. We made our way to the correct terminal as fast as we could, then realized we had to go through security again. At this point I'm pretty much having a heart attack, especially when my friend says while we're waiting in the security line, "Do you think we should ask people if we can go through because we're so late?" and the guy in front of us turns around and responds, "No. We're all in the same boat." Oh, really? You're in the same boat as us? Your flight started boarding twenty minutes ago? WHAT A COINCIDENCE.
We all got through security and then proceeded to sprint through the terminal. And I'm not exaggerating when I say we sprinted. I'm really out of shape, by the way. Thank God for moving walkways. Of course our gate was at the very end of the terminal so we ran as far as we possibly could and made it just as they were announcing last call for boarding.
My feelings of incredible pride and victory were slightly hindered after this as we sat on the plane at the gate for twenty minutes as mechanics tried to fix some seats that were "uninhabitable". Whatever.
I then gave up on doing my reading for Ancient Greece and resolved myself to listening to The Script's album on repeat until we landed. Within ten minutes of doing so, we saw multiple people with rhinestones on sweatshirts and cell phones, where they really don't belong. TEXAS.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Breaking News: "Glee" Is A Bad Show

This week's episode of "Glee" was particularly awful. I know that seems to be redundant, because "Glee" dishes out a fun dose of awful every week, but this newest development was a new brand of disappointing and even offensive.
The premise of the story is that Will Schuester, the Glee club leader and high school Spanish teacher, is trying to get tenure, which is difficult because... he doesn't speak Spanish. At all. Throughout the hour, Will tries to get his students to relate to the Latin culture through a variety of stereotypical and borderline racist escapades.
Now, secondary education is a field I hope to one day enter, and the idea that schools hire and continue to employ such ignorant employees, especially during a time when jobs are scarce, is ridiculous, but also terrifying to me. It's clear the writers and producers of "Glee" have an incredibly warped and awful view of the American education system, and they are perpetuating it through episodes like this that reach an international audience of millions. I am the first one to find faults with my country's education system, and Will Schuester now represents everything that is wrong with it. Observing in actual schools and interacting with my peers, I see a passion for teaching that is intrinsic to people, and not because it is the only job opportunity available, which is how "Glee" made it appear. In fact, at the end of the episode, when Will gives his job over to someone who actually knows the language (SHOCKING), and is asked what he will do now he says, "There's an opening in the History department... and I like History... or the History Channel anyway."
Excuse me.
This is not a resolution. If teachers have no passion or even interest for the subject they teach, how on earth are they supposed to make their students care about it? I have been led by enough bad teachers to know how this ends. It seems as if this show believes excitement or talent only belongs in the arts or onstage, which is just not the case. People can love Science just as much as singing, and those who dedicate their lives to academics are just as worthwhile as those who turn to entertainment. Just because a job may not have the same prestige does not make it less important or worthy of dedication.
I still love this show, but I was truly, truly disappointed with how they chose to portray the teaching profession.

Sorry for the lack of hilarious in this post, but I needed an outlet to eloquently let my feelings out. And I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Here are some things:
-I have vivid memories of my AP European History teacher telling us to never, ever use the word "things." Oops.
-Speaking of AP Euro, in class one day, we had a sub (who was really hot, but that's beside the point) and he told us it was a work day, and there should be no talking. After a while, one of the more obnoxious guys in class started chatting with one of his obnoxious friends. This really pissed off my friend, who wanted to actually do work, so she started telling him off... in Mandarin Chinese. Both she and the guy in question speak it fluently, and they just went back and forth for a while, with the rest of us amused and perplexed. This led the sub to say, "Well, definitely no talking in languages I don't understand."
-Initially growing up in a Congregational Church, I learned one version of the Lord's Prayer, and then continued to say that version alone, to myself when we moved and went to a Lutheran Church. When I was confirmed in that church, I finally switched over to that version of the prayer. However, I attended a wedding the other day in a congregational church, and then had to once again say a different version silently to myself. I just cannot win apparently.
Oh man. Christianity problems.
-The band One Direction is a fairly big deal on Tumblr, so I finally decided to check them out. I should have realized the flaw in this from the start, because, as I am fully aware of, I have a notriously embarrassing taste in music. So as soon as the prepubescent little fellows started singing on my screen, I start internally rocking out. That crap is catchy as fricken anything. But I can't admit that to anyone.
Also, their videos are gold. In one, they ride on the roof of a double-decker bus (because they're British, even though you can't tell, which I feel is a problem. If you're English, let those accents out there. Geez.) through London, so of course that was fabulous. In another, they're out in the woods, and there's a definite Camp Rock thing going on there.
They're also adorable. Not in the way I usually mean, but in a "Aww I'm going to pinch your cheek, pat your head, give you a cookie and send you on your way, you little scamp."
-In one of my class notebooks, I started writing song lyrics in the margin (a common practice of mine when lecture is boring, which admitedly is most of the time) without realizing I'd already drawn a dalek farther down the page last week. So I just worked around it. But now there are lyrics to a sappy love song around the dalek, making it look like the homicidal alien is singing the words to the song about love and loss.
-I have no idea what band is playing on my itunes right now. Oh, wait, it's Metro Station. Whatever, they all sound the same.
-I follow Nick Jonas on Twitter and I have no idea why. I have absolutely no memory of ever thinking it would be a good idea to follow him.
These were some things.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How I Met "Those Guys"

Exactly a year ago today my friend Emily and I met those British guys I've written about quite a bit before, and because I'm a sack of sentimentality I thought I'd mark the occasion by telling the story of that day. Over the past year, I've had to field the question, "Oh, how'd you meet them?" from many, many people when they find out I met authentic, genuine British people. And frankly, while it is one of my favorite stories, it is also fairly lengthy (at least the way I tell it), so I want to just get it out once and for all. So now, if anyone asks me that question, I can snort in derision, say "You so obviously do NOT read my blog," and walk away in a huff.

The day my school group left for London, we were all sitting in JFK waiting to board the plane, Emily saw me reading Mockingjay and we began a conversation. She brought up that she knew a YouTube gathering was going on in the city the following Saturday, and I invited myself along. From pretty much that point, the two of us were kind of attached at the hip, so much so that people in our program thought we were friends prior to the trip, but that's neither here nor there.
So the following Saturday, our first real free day there, Emily and I met up to head over to the gathering location, near the London Eye. Of course, we were still new to the city, so we took two different bus routes to get there, and that method meant it took us about an hour to get there. A little later, we would figure out the convenience of the Tube, and were able to get to the same location in about ten to fifteen minutes, so that's a tad embarrassing. We arrived at the location, which is called a "park" but is really just an expanse of grass by the Eye, at the right time, but the thing about these gatherings is you don't really know what the people you're meeting look like. Or we didn't, at least. So we spent the next hour wandering around the area, looking for internet-y looking people. There is a stretch of sidewalk by this park that is a common place for street performers and those weird people who pretend to be statues (which I have SO MANY problems with). Because it was Saturday, it was really busy, and while Emily and I were caught up in the homeless magicians, Statues of Liberty, and tourists, I ended up giving ten pounds to an old lady "for the children" aka "for the crack addiction."

After an hour of aimless and unsuccessful wandering, we eventually spotted a group of 15-25 year olds that looked promising. Now, true to form, I was too intimidated to go up to them, because we still didn't know for sure they were the right people, and you can't just go up to strangers and ask, "Hey, are you from the internet?" But that's pretty much exactly what Emily did, adding on a, "Hi! We're American!" for good measure. The next hour was spent avoiding akward silences and bonding with the guys and the occassional other person who would amble over from the other group that had collected there. One of these was a young girl from Ireland who, very loudly, shared with everyone a mark from where a guy had bitten her. About this she said, "Don't worry, though. I bit him too. I kind of have a thing for that."
I was extremely uncomfortable.

After that the whole group decided to move en mass to the the nearby Waterloo train station to grab something to eat. On the way over, Emily and I tried to work out which guy was which (I think for the first few hours I was convinced Greg was Josh) and asked them the in-retrospect possibly stupid question of if this Waterloo was THE Waterloo. After some discussion and a group decision that it wasn't, the five of us left the big group to go to the station's Starbucks because Emily was cold and wanted a hot drink. After realizing the cafe was in an open-air part of the station and hence almost as chilly as outside, we sat and bonded some more anyway. As I went to check that I still had the American money with me just in case, Greg insisted I show it to Josh, who had never been out of the country. As he stared at my country's currency he said, "Wow, it really is green."
Yes, Josh. Yes it is.

We then met back up with the others long enough for everyone to decide to just disperse for the day, and the guys then took us across the street to a pub, mine and Emily's first in England.
zwwzwwwwppwwwzzzzz- that's me fast-forwarding through some embarassing moments you don't need to know about.
We bonded, it was a good time, people broke out smart phones and friended other people on Facebook. After taking another retrospectively-embarassing long time figuring out how to get back to our flats, we finally left.
We then saw them about once a week for the next four months, until we flew back to America. And that makes the comment Ben made on Facebook that first night, that "we should hang out one more time again before you guys leave" slightly hilarious.
Now, we all know I hate emotion, so I'll just say they're cool people and it's possible I miss them and I suppose I don't not love them.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let It Not Snow, Ever

It's now well into January, and this winter season has only seen one decent snowstorm, and that was back in October. I'm conflicted on how I feel about this, because at my best I tolerate snow. While I appreciate the beauty of a white Christmas, I've had enough white Easters back in Minnesota that I can do with a few holidays remaining snowless. Still, in the spirit of seasonal cheer, I thought I'd share some snow-themed anecdotes, because isn't that just adorable.

-One weekend afternoon during my senior year of high school, my best friend and I were out about town, adventuring, as was usually the case that year. On this particular day, she needed to prepare for and complete a photo shoot she needed to do for her Photography class, using me as a model. Don't be too impressed, I was in jeans and a sweatshirt.

Weirdly enough, I'm actually wearing that same sweatshirt right now. I didn't even plan that.

The spot where she wanted to shoot was at a local park. Now, it had snowed quite a bit the night before, as it does in the Midwest seven months out of the year. While the streets had of course already been cleared by the well-practiced Minnesotan plows, the park's parking lot had not been. I don't know what I was thinking, or if I was just outrageously over-confident, but I thought my little car could manage to drive over the drift by the entrance and just park on the snow, no problem. This was sadly not actually the case.

My car ended up being completely and totally stuck in the snow. To add to the ridiculousness of this situation, my friend and I quickly discovered someone else was in the area taking pictures. He, however, was taking pictures of us. So that was a bit unnerving. After laughing at my stupidity for longer than I'm proud of, I decided to call my friend, who lived close by, to come meet us with a shovel. After no doubt rolling his eyes in a "Why am I not even surprised Sara did this" kind of way, he came and, with the aid of some helpful passers-by dug me out of the snow. Following this, I easily parked in the completely clear parking lot of the church next to the park.

-A few years before that incident, when I was 15, I was just learning to drive. One afternoon, my dad let me drive home from somewhere, presumably somewhere close to our house. My sense of direction didn't really develop until I was driving myself places and so it absolutely needed to if I was going to survive. While this car was not brand new at this point, it was definitely closer to new than not. And on this particular afternoon it was snowing quite fiercely, and the plows had not gotten to all the streets yet. I, quite understandably I think, took the easiest route home (there were about twelve), which involved one quite long, windy, hilly road. Between driving my dad's car and the snow falling heavily, I was close to a heart attack already. Then I reached a rather steep upward length of road, and needed to really step on the gas to make it up. When the road leveled out, I started spinning out. For those of you who don't drive, or only drive in sub-Saharan places where snow doesn't fall, you will never know the intense panic that accompanies driving a sliding car on snow. To my young heart, this was truly the end. While I did my best to not actually die, and recovered quite well, the car did end up partially in a snowbank, a few feet from a tree, to top it all off.
And what was my dad doing while all of this was happening and I was fearing for my life?
The jerk was just sitting in the passenger seat, laughing his head off.

-Around that same time, my sister was looking for possible colleges that would most help her succeed in the theater business. (HA that was joke. "Succeed in theater." LAWL. As if.) One of the schools she was looking into was in the city of Chicago, and one weekend in the winter my sister, mom, and I took a trip down there so she could see the school and interview for acceptance. While my sister was presenting her portfolio to what I can only assume was a group of people wearing various colors of berets, my mom and I went searching for a Dunkin Donuts we knew was nearby. This was another instance where it had just snowed the night before, and I was not prepared for this. I thought I would be fine trudging through blocks and blocks of snowy Chicago wearing thin socks and thinner canvas shoes. After three streets, I was uncomfortable. After ten streets, I was cold. After fifteen, I was angry with everything. After twenty, I lost the ability to feel, both physically and emotionally. By the time we arrived at the Dunkin Donuts, my feet were soaked as if I had just dunked them in a pool of ice water, and then kept them in there for ten minutes, for some reason. I immediately sat down at a table, and in full view of the other customers, proceeded to take off my shoes and socks and massage my bare feet in public.
Another strong moment for me.

Snow's ok, I guess. But it can also be kind of a dick.