To Err is Human, to Arr is Pirate!

There’s this smell that is so perfect that I can’t help but smile and feel happy to be alive. Let’s see if I can share it with you.

Think of your favorite food, it’s aroma slowly building into a crescendo of mouth watering anticipation. Allow yourself to savor it. Think of your favorite flower, or a newly mowed lawn, or anything that opens its buds in spring. Envision that freshness of life surrounding you, green and blue and pink and orange and yellow. Think about your favorite music. Listen for the sounds that make you smile, the sounds that bring you peace, the sounds that fill you with energy.

Now, think about your favorite people. Those you love most, those who make you laugh the most, those who accept you for who you are unconditionally. Place them beside you.

Breathe it in.

It’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s like walking into a wall of emotion and memory, but it’s so good.

This was, incidentally, what my Saturday afternoon was like. Erin and I made our way to the Fells Point Privateer Festival, and oh boy, what a time we had! Such sounds, smells and smiles!

A very talented pirate troupe took the stage to serenade us with sea shanties.

Soooo crowded!!!

I have always loved street fairs. Not only do they provide an excuse to eat fried food and people watch, but they also herald spring’s persistence and the approach of summer. And that is a time worthy of rejoicing.

This festival was a new experience though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to local fests, but this was the first piratical fair I’ve experienced. I have never seen so many corseted wenches and tricornered-hatted men in my life. Seriously.

Reenactors chilling on the pier.

A tall ship!

I should probably mention that it wasn’t all food and professional pirates – if you wanted your own gear you could peruse the vendors and choose from hats, gowns, waistcoats, jewelry, and so much more to add to your wardrobe.

Ugh, I wanted one so badly! They're a pretty penny though.

 

Cthulhu-esque arm cuff.

 

I invested in this nifty vest. I was quite excited to wear it!

Despite the inevitable sunburn, I had a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed singing along to sea shanties, eating delicious food (bacon wrapped mozzarella sticks, anyone?), and absorbing the sights and smells of Baltimore in the springtime.

A Homeschooler in the Harbor

Little unknown or unmentioned fact about me: I used to be homeschooled.

From 3rd through 8th grade I learned from my parents via the Calvert curriculum, took classes with other homechoolers in a co-op, joined homeschool groups for knitting, choir, and even went to museum events specifically for homeschoolers. Oh yeah, and there was even a homeschool prom.

One of my favorite memories of homeschooling was getting to travel with my parents and learn along the way. Whenever my dad had business trips my mom and I would piggy-back along, and I’d become immersed in the city’s history and culture. During the day my mom and I would go to museums (history and art lessons), walk through parks (nature lesson), and visit the churches (architecture and culture lessons). In the evening we’d meet back up with my dad and go to dinner and try new cuisines and local fare.

In a way, this exploration and curiosity about new places has never left me, although at the moment I’m strapped for cash and time to continue these adventures to new places. Which is why when I do get the chance to see something new, even in a city I’ve gone to school in for 3 years, I get so excited and happy.

Just like this past weekend!

My parents came down for the Dean’s List Luncheon and we spent some time at the Inner Harbor, soaking up the sun and history of the USS Constellation.

Dragon boats galore at the Inner Harbor

The majestic sloop, USS Constellation

It was just like old times: learning the history of the ship, going aboard and watching a gun demonstration…The history nerd inside of me was quite content.

Right before he made the cannon go off

Captain's quarters

My dad really enjoyed himself, he’s a big fan of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin books, and got a kick out of showing me all the parts of the ship and which sail does what and where the Orlop deck is and everything. It was so nice to be out in the sunlight, catching the smell of the ocean on the spring air, feeling the slight sway of the deck beneath my feet, and enjoying the time with my parents.

Mom and Dad enjoying their stroll on the pier

It was so sunny!!!

I never thought I would say this, but I kinda wanted them to stay a bit longer. Ever since freshman year I’ve reveled in being away from home and spending a limited amount of time with my parents. But this weekend I was actually reluctant to see them go. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, maybe it was the previous rough week, or maybe it’s just nostalgia. Whatever it is, I’m glad I’m at least able to recognize how thankful I am for my parents. Not just for giving me their time and energy both growing up and now, but also for their constant encouragement in my education.

People always ask if being homeschooled gives me an advantage. I don’t think I can answer that yet. But I know it definitely shaped my love of independence, reading and higher education, and new experiences. So, thank you, Mom and Dad. You’re the best.

*And for those of you who want to know (and I know you’re out there, I got asked this all the time when I was homeschooled): No, I did not wear my pajamas to school. I got dressed every day.

Young and Restless

Don’t forget to
unwind once in a while.
do remember to
embrace your inner geek.

Young and restless is
optimal for inspiration and creativity.
use that to your advantage.

Have a day, or two,
arranged for
venturing to comic stores,
expressing yourself in color.

Nestle into bed with a book
or host a Disney marathon/sing-along.

I don’t care what you do, but
do it with passion.
enjoy the music, the friends, the laughs,
and most of all, the memories.

This is what gets me through long hours in the studio, but also gets me pumped for weekends filled with exploring Baltimore comic book stores and having an “art party” with Loyola’s Urban Art Club.

 

Defeating the Escape Artist in Us All

I think one of the most common questions a college student hears after “What’s your major?” is “What do you do for fun?” Which, when you think about it, can sometimes be difficult to answer.

Not because all college students partake in nefarious activities (that’s an overstatement), but because “fun” is a relative term. Some of my friends consider a fun time to be vegging out all weekend and cramming in homework Sunday night, while others have more energetic (albeit tiring) activities throughout the weekend.

One thing is for certain though. If you live in Baltimore, there is always something to do. There may not be as many activities on campus, but Loyola definitely isn’t a suitcase school.

Take last weekend for example. My Italian professor invited his different classes over to his house for dinner. We met his family, he made pizza (by made, I mean tossing the dough and all that jazz) and we got to hang out in a new environment. The food and company was fantastic! If a professor ever offers some sort of food, take the opportunity to spend time with them and see them outside the classroom. It’s worth it, if not only for the free meal!

I spent Saturday afternoon at a meeting with friends, then went to the Towson Mall with my roommates and had a wonderful dinner at Pho Danh Than, a Vietnamese restaurant in Towson. We blazed a trail through the slushy streets and icy sidewalks to warm up with Goi Cuon Thit Nuóng, pork summer rolls, and Bún Gà Nuróng Xa, a vermicelli dish with bean sprouts, lemon grass chicken, and a spicy/sweet sauce on the side.

Summer Pork Roll Vermicelli

The next day was the Super Bowl and you’d be fool if you didn’t get a tiny bit excited, even if it’s only for the the commercials! Honestly, my roommates and I aren’t big football people, but it was really exciting to hear the celebrations across campus after the Ravens won. We also had a fantastic spread of food!

Homemade Hummus

I made hummus!

Edmame

We also made pizza and fries to balance out the "healthy" food.

If going off campus isn’t your thing, during the week there’s a fair amount of special lectures, club meetings, sports, and of course downtime with friends. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is always good during the week!

Knitting Club
A lively meeting of the Knifty Knitters

Of course, if you decide to go back home for the weekend to “escape” school, you miss out on a lot of cool experiences that are unique to the Loyola campus/area.

My friend Mary alerted my roommates and me to a pottery place in Mt. Washington, which is just a short drive away from campus, so off we went Friday night (once again through the rain and wet) to spend a few relaxing hours painting and nattering away.

MaryErinTeapot

Later that evening, I spent some time at the studio working on intaglio prints while Erin and our friend Connor knitted and kept me company. The following day our group of friends spent another large chunk of time together celebrating Erin’s birthday with food, cake, and watching Across the Universe and The Princess Bride.

You’d think I’d had enough social interaction by now. But to be honest, it’s what I live for. I love being on a campus where I can say my dorm is my home, my friends are my family, and the time I spend with them on the weekends is my “escape” from school while still staying on campus.

Adventure Time!

If you ever visit my room, the first thing you’ll see is the “Room 213 Bucket List.”
Bucket List

My roommates and I made it at the beginning of the year because we kept on coming up with things to do but either a) forgot them in a week, or b) lost motivation to do them. This weekend we were finally able to check off a few boxes after our adventure to the Inner Harbor.

Our original plan was to visit the aquarium, as suggested by my roommate Erin, but their tickets were a bit pricey for the short amount of time we had available to us. Instead, we decided to meander around the Inner Harbor and let our stomachs lead us to an eventual destination.

Getting out of the apartment to explore the city was such a good idea. It was gorgeous. There was a light breeze, blue skies, and Christmas decorations were slowly changing the piers into a jungle of colored lights (Personally, I don’t want anything to do with Christmas till after Thanksgiving. But, I have to admit that the Inner Harbor decorations got me excited).

Crazy Roomies

USS Constitution

USS Constitution ~ I love maritime history!

As we walked along the crowded walkway, we snapped pictures of the beautiful sunset and sang along to the Christmas carols a street musician played on his saxophone.

It turns out the first destination we came to was Barnes and Noble.

Luckily, all my roommates love to read, so we killed an hour or two perusing the maze of books. I got side-tracked by a Hobbit display case (I’m so excited for the movie. Words cannot describe my enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkein and Martin Freeman). After many declarations of oohs and aahs in the fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, art, and knitting section, I finally decided I could indulge myself and buy Clash of Kings. Soon after, the fragrant smells coming from The Hard Rock Cafe next door caused us all to agree that it was time for dinner.

As we exited the store, a crowd gathered by one of the piers and a choir began to sing. I’m sure they sounded lovely, but our attention was drawn to Noodles and Co.

At Dinner

I had a lovely Chicken Pad Thai…

Chix Pad Thai

and we chatted about our Thanksgiving traditions over our food.

After a very filling meal, we walked around some of the shops and I got a bit of Christmas shopping done (shout out to Stacey: be prepared for an awkwardly awesome gift!).

By the time we returned outside, it had grown dark and Santa was making the rounds in a massive crowd of families by the pier. There was even snow confetti!!!

Snow Confetti!

And a giant pink poodle (I think it was a cotton candy vendor).

Pink Poodle

All the walking around and seeing the sights was fairly exhausting, so we headed home shortly thereafter to mugs of tea and lounging in pajamas. I broke out the new book and continued to work on some art homework.

All in all, it was a pretty good (and pretty tiring) weekend. I wonder what we’ll do next on the bucket list…..

Body as Machine