Transitions

As I sit here eating my Lucky Charms and sipping very strong coffee on a Sunday afternoon, I can’t help but feel that the adult world I’m stepping into and the adolescent world I’m leaving behind sometimes come together in beautiful ways. You’d really expect them to clash which, believe me, they do, but this weekend my life seemed to be a bit more harmonious than usual.

It might be that it started out with not having my classes on Friday, thus giving me the afternoon to go into Towson and run some errands. That phrase alone, “running errands,” just makes any shopping experience sound more adult. Heck, I was just buying more paint and chilling out at Barnes and Noble for a while until I met up with my friend Emily to buy some groceries. While I was alone for that time I felt more relaxed and contemplative than I’ve been lately.

I’ve felt a little stuck in a rut creativity-wise. Overall I’ve been very productive, but originating ideas hasn’t been as easy or as frequent as usual. Which, as an artist and writer, is kind of crucial and a little worrisome. Taking that time to be by myself helped clear up some of that creativity block, though.

Later in the evening Emily came over for dinner: breakfast! Pancakes, bacon, and eggs, even freshly squeezed orange juice! Between the food, the singing, the dancing, and the joking around with awesome people, I had a relaxingly fun night.

Claire brought out her ukelele and serenaded us!

Emily making freshly squeezed OJ!

So much good food

I know all this might sound a bit humdrum, but prepare yourself, because I assure that the low-key atmosphere of my apartment on Friday became electrically charged on Saturday.

How, you ask?

Because we hosted a gaming night and it was awesome.

Remember how I joined the gaming society at UCC? Well, Erin and I were missing that weekly adventure of RPs, strategic thinking, and general geekiness, and we had a lot of games, so we decided invite a bunch of friends over for what turned out to be an unforgettable night.

And by “lots” of games, I mean: Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, Cards Against Humanity, Settlers of Catan, Werewolf (think slightly more complex Mafia), Saboteur, Geek Out (trivia), a Firefly Card Game, and so many others.

And by “a bunch” of friends, I mean over 20 (during the course of the night, not all at once). If you had told me in high school that 1) I would know over 20 people who wanted to hang out and 2) these 20+ people had a shared love for general geekery and being goofy and that being with them is a beautiful thing, I wouldn’t have believed you. Parties and social events are usually the bane of an introvert’s existence, so I never would have thought I’d have so much fun mingling with so many people, let alone hosting them in my apartment.

This is only half the room. I've never had so many people over in my life.

Erin enjoying the food and company

In the end it isn’t the fact that I’m in a weird transition period that makes me stop to think, but it’s the way the two worlds I’m in between mix together. Yes, there was a sense of adult responsibility last night – everyone brought some kind of food and they mingled and had little chats – but there was an overwhelming youthfulness when the final group left at 3 a.m. after a wonky game of charades and I still had unspent energy.

I don’t know how long this period will last, but I hope it continues to surprise me and be as enjoyable as this weekend was.

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.

 

Aristic Getaways to Dublin and Paris

As you may have heard, I have a thing for art.

Don’t ever give me a ballpoint pen in class ‘cause I’ll sketch all over my notes if I get distracted. My bedroom has become a mini gallery from the number of postcards that plaster the walls. As for museums themselves…well, sometimes it’s like I died and went to heaven. Which has happened twice in the past two weeks.

What, might you ask, could have caused me to smile uncontrollably when I entered the art galleries in Dublin and Paris?

Well, first off, being in Dublin and Paris (The purpose of which I’ll get to in a minute). Secondly, actually understanding the contents of the rooms. I love art for its beauty, but I also have a deep appreciation for the subtleties of hidden messages and the artist’s conveyance of social commentary or capturing an individual’s private life. It’s really cool when I get to see a piece I’ve learned about in class, or, in the case of Dublin’s National Gallery, am writing a paper on.

But I suppose I should probably explain why I was in Dublin in the first place, right?

Well….

I went to my first gaming con! Cons (conventions) in Europe are different from the US – it’s a lot more about spending time with cool people in a chill environment than cosplaying and attending panels. While I was at the con I learned a bunch of really cool games, like Resistance and Saboteur (SO MUCH FUN – but don’t play with loved ones ‘cause they’re all about lying/tricking people), and added to my collection of buttons and kooky earrings.

I love calligraphy, so these are perfect!

I also invested in some shiny dice!

On one of the days I wasn’t gaming, two friends and I went into the city to explore. After a blessed cup of coffee and access to free wifi at a cafe near the city center, we walked around the neighborhood of Trinity College and eventually decided to split up to visit the National Gallery and History Museum.

 

The Irish National Gallery is fairly small, but the pieces it has are no less spectacular than those at the BMA or the Met. Some of my favorite artists have work displayed there, like Sisley and Vermeer. I feel like seeing one of your favorite pieces of art is like meeting an old friend. You’ve seen them so many times, looked at every single feature, but every time you encounter them you discover something new to love.

Metsu's paired paintings

This feeling of greeting an old friend extended to my visits to the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The Loyola group trip to the City of Light included a tour of the Louvre and a chunk of free time to visit wherever we wished, which in my case involved a 3 hour stop at the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world.

I never thought I’d get to see these masterpieces!

I love Van Gogh’s work. I just kept smiling to myself the entire time I was in the room with his paintings.

After hours of staring at gorgeous works of art, Erin and I strolled down the Champs-Élysées (thank you high school French teacher for getting this song stuck in my head) and took the required tourist photos at the l’Arc de Triomphe.

Even on our final day in Paris, I was surrounded by art, this time in the form of the beautiful architecture of Notre Dame. Oh Mon Dieu! C’est encroyable! C’est magnifique!

I had never realized how large it was. I mean, just…HUGE. Huge and breathtaking. I feel like everything in Paris is breathtaking. From the Louvre, to the food, to the architecture (to the smell of the subway even), the whole city is an experience in itself. I can only hope that I will return one day to see it again.

Give New A Chance

Ba-bum Ba-bum Ba-bum
Heart pounding, eyes wandering, ears straining
Shuffle feet, adjust shirt, smile nervously
“You wanna go in?”
“Yeah, I mean, I think so. I’ll just be…following you around. You know this better than I do. This is your world more than mine….I have no idea what to do.”
“Oh honey. You’ll be fine.”

And with that reassurance, I step over the border of General Nerdery and join the ranks of Table-Top, Role Play, and Comic-Con Enthusiasts.

Also known as The Awesomeness Of Meeting New People Who Have More In Common With You Than You Think.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I’m a bit on the nerdy side, but I contain my fan-girling and rants about certain shows and hobbies for the most part. You know I love to read, cook, listen to not-your-typical-pop-music, and knit. The posters on my wall range from painted dinosaurs to Monty Python, and you don’t want to know how many postcards I’ve amassed at this point. I’d like to think of myself as an intellectual, or at least someone who enjoys learning for the sake of learning, not just for getting a passing grade.

But when people think of “nerd” or “geek” I generally don’t fit the physical description, and until Thursday night I was sorely lacking in the social experience of gaming. That has since changed.

Now, you’re probably wondering how this has anything to do with Loyola or studying abroad, or some other reason you’d be reading this post. Well. Let’s just say I’m practicing what I preach:

1. Get Involved!

and

2. Try Something New!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually ok with trying out new things – as long as I’ve seen someone else go first, or it’s absolutely necessary for me to move on with my life (Like adopting the local customs in Ireland because it makes the transition process easier).

But sometimes trying a new activity can be kind of intimidating. Maybe the people who are involved are so good at it that you think they’ll scoff at you. Or what if they don’t accept you because you aren’t One Of Them (yet)? What happens if you aren’t good/nerdy enough for the group?

I know those sound like ridiculous questions, but they were what I was thinking as I stood outside the meeting room of WARPS (UCC’s Wargames And Role Playing Society) this past Thursday.

And even though I was internally freaking out as I followed Erin into the room full of people playing board games, and even as I stuttered when introduced to the guys who run the group, and even when I lost Settlers of Catan because I totally could have made a smarter first move, I am so happy I chose to go.

Between the people I met, the conversations at the pub afterwards, and the plans that are being discussed for the future (Gaelcon!?!), I don’t know what I loved the most. I just hope it continues.

So if this is your third week of class, or even your third year of college, and maybe you missed that first meeting for a club or sport or any interest group in your area, or maybe something caught your eye but you have no idea what it entails, don’t be afraid to get involved.

Put yourself out there, try something new, and just have fun with it. You never know who you might meet, or what new adventures lie ahead if you don’t expose yourself to new ideas and experiences.

Thumbs Up For Fun