Take a Break Already!

Oh, ow, my eyes. *Puts sunglasses on* That’s better. *Creak, tramp tramp tramp, squish* Ugh, mud. *Looks up at the sky* Wow, that’s beautiful. Nice to see you again, sun.

Of course, the brief spell of warmth Baltimore experienced this weekend departed all too quickly, but we got to enjoy it while it lasted. Admitted students toured the campus, current students reclined on the Humanities Porch, and I rolled up my sleeves to feel the breeze across my arms. But then I looked down and was blinded by my own paleness. You win some you lose some.

A taste of spring is so very welcome right now – it’s midterms. Everyone is getting cabin fever, especially as break is less than a week away!

Ah yes, Spring Break. A time for reveling, relaxing, and revamping for the second half of the semester. I will be having a pretty low key time at home, you know, doctors appointments, summer job search, museum visits etc. Yeah, not exactly the most thrilling or adventurous activities, so I asked around my friend group to find out what other Loyola students planned to do with their week of freedom. I got some pretty cool responses!

My roommate, Erin, is planning to spend some quality time with family and friends and, drumroll please, boyfriend who’s visiting from Ireland! She’s very excited – she’s been counting down the days all week.

My friends Victoria and Katie will be in Florida – one visiting her dad and the other  kicking back in Disney World with fellow seniors – definitely a smart idea since the North is supposed to be getting more snow!

A trio of my friends, Ben, Alex, and Allie, are planning to camp in Pokomoke River State Park (I’m kind of super jealous, the last time I went camping was freshman year of high school).

Many friends and acquaintances will also be working – my roommate from Ireland is currently interning in Vienna and another friend from study abroad said that he would be working in a music shop most of the time.

There are of course my more lackadaisical (SAT word of the day meaning lacking in enthusiasm or carelessly lazy)* friends like my roommate Claire informed me that she will be sleeping for the majority of break and pro-active friends who will be going on SBO (my previous roommate Mary will heading off to the Appalachian region of VA to tutor and promote cultural awareness).

In short, spring break isn’t so much a “break” as an opportunity for adventures. Preferably sunny adventures.

*Edit from my roommate Erin

Brotherly Love and Christmas Tidings

“I’m going to kidnap your roommate”
“What?”

A few moments later there was a knock on my door and my neighbor/friend came in, picked me up by the legs, and proceeded to carry me to his room.

Ah yes, the joys of having brotherly friends.

Don’t worry, I was going to hang out in his room anyway, so I got him to put me down so I could get my knitting and homework. But honestly? I love having friends who can be totally goofy and are like a second family.

Actually, they’re more like my primary family for nine months out of the year. And that’s truly what gets me through each day, knowing there’s someone who has my back (or legs), and can relate to my experiences. It’s true I have two sisters, but there’s such a large age gap it’s like we’re in two different generations!

So, when I get back from breaks it’s like a little family reunion, everyone hugging each other, visiting our neighbors, and enjoying each others company.

In the case of this Thanksgiving break, our reunion consisted of freaking out over homework, decorating our Christmas tree and the rest of the room, and other prep for the holidays.

I won’t bore you with the first bit of our reunion, except to say that reading a book (for history class) about the Holocaust will make you 100 times more thankful and appreciative of the life you are currently leading.

As for the second bit:

I have now experienced the joy of a Christmas tree in my own place!!!

You know when people move into their first apartment and have to buy their own furniture, or celebrate their first (fill-in-the-blank) in their new “place” and it’s a really big deal? Big in terms of life steps and making your own way in the world. Well, that’s why I’m so excited about having a Christmas tree in my apartment.

Setting up the tree

Always the dramatic one...

Last year my roommates and I hung things up and baked sugar cookies we then decorated, but we didn’t have a tree.

The Christmas tree at my house is always one of my favorite childhood memories. We would get a real tree, strap it onto the roof of the car, I’d help my dad bring it into the house, set it up, and laugh at the cats’ reactions to its sudden appearance in our living room. We’d spend one night decorating it, filling it with ornaments passed down through the generations, pictures of family members young and old, ornaments made in kindergarten with bow-tie pasta and glitter paint. The whole house would smell like pine; it was wonderful. On Christmas morning candy canes and small presents would be hidden amongst the branches.

The tree in my apartment is significantly smaller and therefore can’t be host to as many surprises, but it still adds Christmas cheer to the room.

Fin!Close up

As my roommates and I decorated, we listened and sang along to Christmas music, everything from Jason Mraz’s “Winter Wonderland” to Bing Crosby’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I’ve also discovered the wonders of Pandora’s Folk Christmas playlist (my favorite artists so far: John Fahey and Windham Hill).

We’ve also been modifying the posters in our room; there will soon be a sleigh and reindeer traversing the Starry Night.

500 Days of ChristmasSheldon

I’m sure we’ll decorate more before we go home for the holidays, and I know I have to put some time into knitting Christmas presents for my roommates! I think I’ll be spending more time with my brotherly neighbors to work on that.

I want the presents to be a surprise!

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

Freedom to Dance And Other Inalienable Room Rights

I really hope no one ever goes by my window when I’m listening to music. Why? Because I will either a) be singing, or b) dancing, or c) a dramatic combination of both.

HmYes, you can dance tooJust Sing

My dance moves are akin to the awkward flailings of a seal powered by the enthusiasm of Gene Kelly. I’m not as hard core as Napoleon Dynamite, but I still tango across the common room with my roommate to The Muppets version of “The Habenera.”

For me, dancing as if no one is watching and singing as if the walls aren’t paper thin are how I get the crazy build up of tension out of my system. You know those people who jiggle their foot incessantly in class? That’s me (sorry guys!). So coming home and just belting Florence + The Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over” or dancing to Passion Pit’s “Take A Walk” while cooking dinner is a kind of therapy.

Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do this without trusting my roommates.

Having a good room environment is essential to having a good college experience. Some people say they’re OK just being acquaintances with their roommates; it’s only a place to sleep, eat and keep your stuff, right? Well, it works for some people, but not me.

As a freshman last year, I was really freaked out about having a roommate. I have a sister, but there’s a huge age gap so I was basically raised as an only child. As move in day approached, I got more and more anxious about my roommate.

What if she thought I was weird? What if she had completely different tastes in music? What if she studied all the time, or didn’t study at all? What if Loyola’s survey screwed up and I got put with the polar opposite?

Luckily, my worrying was pointless.

Sharing an apartment with five other girls was definitely a culture shock, but it turned out to be really fun. Part of this has to do with the sense of community Loyola builds within its dorms.

I was in an Alpha class, so I lived on a floor with other Alpha/Collegium students, which provided a sense of commonality starting day one. Throughout the year, my floor kept its doors open and I got to know almost everyone in my hall. My neighbors and I would have family dinners or get together to watch Once Upon A Time or Psych. We even made a fake family tree! (If you ever hear a guy call me Nana, this is why)

Family Dinner Freshman Year! Different Familiy Dinner, but same food

Sadly, not everything was always peachy keen. My room had its moments of tension last year, and I’ve heard horror stories from friends who just didn’t click with their roommates (not just at this school).

Overall, I lucked out and had a really good roommate experience and I’m super happy it’s continuing. Yes, this year I got to choose my roommates and yes they are really good friends, but the comfort level of what is essentially my home hinges on the room dynamic.
I don’t want to give a secret recipe for success, because let’s face it, every room situation is different. But here is what allows me to dance and sing without a care in the world:

  1. The room is a judgement free zone.
  2. Conflict? Bring it up ASAP. Talking it over helps.
  3. Don’t be afraid to speak out, even if it’s to make a bad joke.
  4. You don’t have to be best friends, but it’s cool if you are.
  5. Share! Ask to share! Share without thinking! The fridge has only so many shelves.
  6. Listen. With an open mind.
  7. Hug and dance and sing.

'Cause I'm that cool (jk, I know my dance moves are ridiculous)

Fall’s Furry Friends

As soon as he said “Breathe in slowly and exhale, feel your muscles relax. Breathe in and let the stress flow away from your body,” I knew that as Friday wrapped up a wonderful weekend would begin.

I was not wrong.

You might be wondering why on earth I’d be psyched about a little meditation, but trust me, after the week I had, I was really happy the Student Leadership Corps focused on stress and time management in our weekly session.

Taking time to unwind is crucial at school; I know I sound like one of those info sessions everyone gets dragged to in high school, but it’s true. I’m usually wound up really tight (both physically and mentally) so having an evening to hang out with friends, while partaking in not quite “conventional” entertainment for 19 year olds, is really appreciated.

What might this unconventional entertainment be?

Build-A-Bear

My friend turned 19 last week, so she requested we go to Build-A-Bear as celebration of this momentous event. My roommates and I met her on the East side of campus, where I noticed the trees were changing and got really distracted by the beautiful colors:

SO PRETTY
I love little inconsistencies

After a brief ride to the mall, we embarked on our journey to make new furry friends (Hey, I’m just quoting their website).
Paige, me, Nicole, and Erin

And yes, we did do the little dance/embarrassing series of hops and hand motions to ensure our bears had hearts full of love. No shame.

So much love

Here is Dr. Hiddles Holmes, one of the newest members of my room’s family.
Be jealous guys, he's a triple threat!

After eating the obligatory food court dinner and meandering through some shops, we headed home and (literally) chased down a shuttle to take us back to our dorm.

Some hours of sleep later found me yet again taking an early morning stroll to the art studio (I’m amazed my roommate hasn’t thrown a pillow at me yet for waking up at 6 on the weekends).

I love this tree by Knott HallBones are very interesting to draw...

As much as I love art, I wanted to get back to my room so we could decorate for Halloween. See, my mom sends me care packages labeled with “Do Not Open Till” leading up to various holidays (including International Talk Like a Pirate Day) so my roommates and I were pretty excited when we opened the box full of fall decorations.

So festive!

Don’t worry, the festive atmosphere didn’t go unseen by others! Students from the Alpha  Theology class I’m an Aide for came over for spaghetti dinner that night. Apparently our room has a very homey atmosphere, but is very clearly “young adult” oriented (Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory stares me down when I walk out my bedroom).

Homemade Sauce, too!!!We have so much leftover....Anyone want to come by for spaghetti?

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. Jam packed, but totally worth it. I live for those moments that seem to span an entire day when it’s only been a few hours. Sadly, those days are the most tiring, and right now it’s coming back to bite me.

Maybe I’ll put those relaxing exercises to work later this evening….