#19 Girl Scout Cookies

cookies

…Don’t pretend your heart didn’t just skip a beat seeing that picture.  As Wayne Brady says “you cannot resist the power of the thin mint cookies!!!” muhahahaha.  Or at least, Girl Scout cookies.  We’ve all got a soft spot for them or a sweet tooth for them.  I happen to have both.

Believe it or not, this ginger was a Girl Scout from whenever  you can first join until…well…I actually don’t remember when I stopped.  I don’t remember if I ended as a Brownie or a Junior. I think I had my green vest…Hmmm…Regardless, I was a Girl Scout for a pretty substantial amount of time. Ha. Worst opening to a blog ever. Ah well. Continuing…

My mother and friend’s moms were our troop leaders the entire time we were all involved. I have countless memories with the troop, troop 974 if I remember correctly, (did I remember correctly? Someone help me out) but since it was so long ago, I don’t remember a lot of them.  Clearly I’m just failing at this reminiscing thing. I remember Halloween parties.  I remember lots of camps and camping trips.  I remember getting clothes lined pretty bad during one game of Red Rover. I remember being terrible at every single arts and crafts project we ever did, and my mother letting me know it. (It’s okay, it’s funny now). And of course, I remember every year, being terrified to go door to door and sell Girl Scout cookies.

It wasn’t a fear that made me cry or anything when I had to go do it.  I just didn’t want anyone to say no. Little 7 year old Kaitlin wanted to make everyone happy, so I tried my hardest to make everyone buy cookies.  Of course my family always stocked up and we lived in a neighborhood that was primarily senior citizens, so that was always an easy sell as well:) But as a little kid, it’s scary to go ring stranger’s doorbells and try to sell them something, even if it is delicious cookies.

I don’t really remember any good “Girl Scout cookie selling” stories either.  I think we got prizes that got better the more cookies we sold. I recall one year being really excited to get a pewter wolf and a stuffed husky.  Pretty sweet.

Even though my memory seems to be a little (okay A LOT, shamefully) fuzzy on specific events, I know that I am happy I was involved in something that does good in society, forms great bonds, and lets girls just have a fun time doing all sorts of activities and fundraisers. And because I have nothing but positive memories, I continue to support the Girl Scouts today.

Unfortunately, actually supporting them hasn’t really had many actual, face to face opportunities. I know my family still buys Girl Scout cookies every year.  But since I stopped being involved, I can’t actually think of a time when I’ve run into a Girl Scout troop selling cookies or doing any sort of fundraising.  Until today.

I made the mistake today (March 8), a Saturday, of making a Wal Mart run.  Not sure why I thought that would be a good idea in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend.  It was packed!  One of the perks of going to New Jersey aside from the cheap prices and open space, is the lack of people, at least compared to New York City. Nope. Not today.  It was like grocery shopping in Midtown.  Too. Many. People. And it totally kills the fun of it.

While walking into the Wal Mart, I passed a little girl.  She was set up behind a table with a cash box in front of her, a sign reading “Girl Scout Cookies $4.00, and a lovely display of all the cookies.  I had just gotten that package from my parents which contained Girl Scout cookies, but I wanted to support this troop, as people had supported me in the past.  I decided to wait until after I was done shopping and kept walking.  As I approached the Wal Mart, I realized that with my luck, this girl would probably be gone by the time I was done.  And I was so happy to finally actually get the chance to support a Girl Scout troop, why would I wait and risk that?

I wheeled around and went back up to her.  I bought a box of Samoas, which I know as Caramel Delights, for Patrick.  They’re his favorite.  I already had Peanut Butter Patties from my parents. So I opted for a box of Thin Mints for myself. Or my parents. They’re in my freezer and I haven’t decided who they’re going to yet…:/  But they’re my mother’s favorite. And it was just one of those nostalgic things.  I had to buy them.

It was a simple act. But I was happy to do it.  I was happy being able to support a troop.  And just seeing that little girl selling those cookies made me smile.  It made me think of my times as a Girl Scout.  Although clearly I’m not able to recall many specifics, again, I do know they were positive.  It made me think of growing up. It made me think of my mother.  It just gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies.  Another simple joy that has made quite delighted.

Support the Girl Scouts if you get the chance.  Especially with Girl Scout cookie sales.  I mean, really, it’s a win-win.  You know how irresistible those cookies are…;)

*rubs hands together in villain-esque fashion and cackles*

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#18 Coffee deals and addictions

coffee

Hi my name is Kaitlin Klemencic and I struggle with an addiction.

A coffee addiction. Well chocolate too, but another post for another time.  Yes readers, I didn’t think this post would come for a while.  I was waiting for the perfect moment.  The moment I woke up to a sunny day, looked into my cabinet where the entire top shelf is purely coffee, (it really is. I’m not joking) reached up for my favorite kind, and brewed the perfect cup.  And then I realized that this scenario happens more often then not and if I wanted to write a post about that another time, I could. What happened today (March 7) is far more worthy of the big coffee blog post. But, as per my writing style, a little backstory first.  A short one this time, I promise.

I have not always been a coffee addict.  In fact most of my high school career when I was doing high school shows and then driving to Shorewood for community theater, I was an avid energy drinks addict.  And there was a point that it got scary bad.  Like I’d down three of them, different kinds, in like an hour and a half period. Thus too began my no sleeping habit. Oops.

It wasn’t until college that I got sucked into the beautiful coffee world.  It was the same deal, tons of shows, tons of school work, tons of running around, and very little sleep. So naturally instead of sleeping more or taking naps, (which I have never found a particularly good use of my time, as I have a problem with sitting still and relaxing) I decided I needed to travel down the caffeine path again. It had stopped. Not sure how. But it had. And the addiction needed to be revived.

I don’t remember the day. I don’t remember what exactly prompted the trip. All I can remember is that this day changed my life. Yes, this post is over dramatic and over embellished. It’s from the point of view of an addict, remember? Just enjoy the crazy:)

One fine day, I was driven to heaven on earth.  That place, dear friends, if you haven’t gotten the memo, is Caribou Coffee. I’m not sure which of my fabulous friends it was, Jenna Mark, Reba Clamp, or Kelly Houlehan, but because it’s based and I think founded in Minnesota, I think credit goes to Kelly on this one. I was driven to a Hy-Vee grocery store, where Caribou is housed in Nebraska.  Now, since I had never been keen on just black coffee and since, hi it’s me and I have the biggest sweet tooth known to man, I of course ordered one of their blended, frozen drinks. I didn’t fully know what I was about to experience. Kelly and Reba talked up the place, claiming it was the best in the entire world.  I had had some of Starbucks sugary concoctions before and liked them. And I figured with a frozen shake-like drink with an added caffeine boost, it would taste good no matter what.

Good does not begin to describe the delight of tasting Caribou Coffee.  This particular drink was the Smores blended beverage.  And from that first sip, I. Was. HOOKED. Without elaborating too much, Caribou trips became pretty frequent amongst that trio of girls and it became my new must-have item when I was tired, when I just needed a boost, as a reward for a long week, before a big opening…basically if I could find some sort of reason for justifying my purchase, I was golden.  It started off with the blended drinks. Then I experimented with flavored ice coffees.  Which were also delectable.  But they didn’t hold a candle to the blended. Mmmm mmmm mmmm:)

Eventually, I realized that maybe running there a few times a week wasn’t very good for my wallet.  The frozen drinks were around $5.  I was spending probably $20 a week on coffee. On a good week…:/ Plus I had just gotten a coffee grinder for Christmas, so I decided to be a grown up and dabble in the world of boring black coffee. It was hard at first, but with Mo Java, a local Nebraska coffee place closeby, I was soon weened off my sugary coffee addiction and was drinking very delicious flavored black coffee.  Ok, I wasn’t totally weened off. Caribou was still a “treat” I gave myself every once and a while.  Every week…:/ What?! It’s so freakin good!!!

Okay…backstory was not as short as I had planned…I may be writing on a caffeine high right now.  Well, okay, confession time. Most of my posts are written on a caffeine high. Or at 2 AM. If you know me, I know you’re really surprised right? Moving on…

So that is how my coffee addiction began.  With the beautiful Caribou Coffee.  With my new black coffee addiction, I soon discovered Door County Coffee.  This coffee is brewed in my home state of Wisconsin in Door County, a vacation Martha’s Vineyard-esque area upstate.  I think I probably just happened to buy some at Pick N Save one time, as they stock it there. And likely it was around a holiday since, in my addition to coffee and chocolate addictions, I seem to shell out an obscenely large amount of money for anything and everything holiday related. Addiction numero 3. Holidays. Another post for another time;)

I suppose my black coffee palat is not that extensive, and no, I have not traveled the world, but I stand by this statement. Door County Coffee brews the best coffee in the entire world. Oh yes, Caribou frozen beverages all the way. But black coffee? Door. County.

Holy crap. If you have not tasted it, then go online to there website and hit that up! Or take a vacation to Door County because that’s worth it too.  They have the most creative and fun flavors.  Caribbean Rum?! Chocolate Cherry Delight?! Red Velvet?! Their seasonal stuff just rocks my world. Blueberry Cobbler?! Apple Pie?! White Christmas?! uuuuuuugh! I am just in love. This soon became my new must have black coffee, especially around the holidays.

But, as it goes in most love stories, we hit a rough patch in our relationship.  What I thought would be the tragic ending.  With my re-location to New York, both of my loves were taken away from me.  There is no Caribou here. There is no Door County Coffee here. And although I didn’t talk about it as much, there is no Mo Java here either. And that is a fine cup of coffee too.  Yes, yes I know that I am in New York City with no shortage of amazing coffee I’m sure.  And I’ll get around to it.  But I’m a stubborn redhead who is not too keen on certain things changing. This, obviously, being one of them.

But wait, there was hope!  The internet!!! How could I have been so foolish as to overlook that magical thing? I could find the coffee I was guaranteed to love and have it shipped to me!!!  Well, not the frozen Caribou beverages.  But Door County, of course! I was overjoyed!!!

However, when you live in New York City and you’re ordering things from states away, as one can expect, the shipping and handling is astronomical (thank you once again NYC for being so damn expensive).  Oh don’t get me wrong, I still purchase my Door County coffee. (cmon, this love story has a happy ending). I just essentially pay double what it’s worth so I can have it.  Hey, we’ve all got our vices. We’ve all got things we do or purchase we know technically aren’t “worth it,” but to us, they are and we have to have them. And this is one of those things for me.  Plus every time I order online, I get a free mini pack of coffee and a coupon for next time.  They’re clever, these Door County creators.  They keep the addicts coming back for more.

I usually reserve my Door County purchases for seasonal stuff. One bag. An actual treat. Not my college “three times a week” treat. An actual, special purchase. And these past couple times since I’ve been home for the holidays, I’ve been spared the shipping and handling and have just been buying it in stores.  So it’s all been working out pretty well.

Now, we come to this week.  When I opened my cabinet and found that my once gigantic stock of coffee had diminished to a mere almost empty bag.  This had never happened before.  I had always been surrounded by coffee places I loved, or I had just been home and had stocked up on Bou and Door County.  I panicked. Okay I didn’t panic, but I had to think of a solution. And quick!  If Kaitlin doesn’t have her coffee, you best stay far away from her. I also can’t really function like a normal human being without it. Soooo….problem.

At the same time my coffee stash was running out, I was working on a Valentine’s gift for Pat.  He hadn’t decided what he had wanted when the actual holiday was approaching, so it was a little delayed.  He decided he wanted a new coffee mug.  I created a Don Quixote one for him online, very happy with my decision, and then I had a thought.  As it’s a coffee mug, and as in our senior year of college I had gotten him addicted to coffee too, why not get some coffee to go this this mug?! It only made sense.

But. Not just any coffee.  It had to be a special Valentine’s Day surprise.  And I knew just what to get.  Mo Java makes a mean Highlander Grogg blend.  And with St. Patrick’s Day now approaching and with that being Pat’s favorite blend, I knew that was what I had to do.  So I texted my friend Darrin, a Mo Java enthusiast as well, and asked him to pick up two bags and send them to me and I would re-reimburse him. (Yes. Two. You didn’t think I wouldn’t get some for myself did you?)

So, I had created a wonderful gift and I had fixed my coffee problem.  But one bag was not going to last me very long. This I knew.

And that (finally) brings us to today. On my way to work, an email from Door County Coffee popped up.  It was a promotional email.  I clicked on it, expecting it to announce that the spring flavors were now available for purchase.  Instead I got something much much better.  Free shipping for the entire month of March!!! Oh. My Gosh. I freaked the fuck out.  And this time I am not exaggerating.  I didn’t even wait until I was home to buy. Because, well, what if they ran out of coffee?! I had to buy now!  (Yes. My addict mind actually thought this)I bought three bags of Door County Coffee, on my phone, while waiting for the kids to be done with school. I bought Dublin’s Delight, for St. Patrick’s Day obviously. Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti, one of their spring seasonals that I had really enjoyed last year.  And Caribbean Rum.  Because it was getting nice out and I wanted something for that transition into summer.  Plus. Caribbean Rum. I mean, come on.

Yes friends, three bags of coffee, both whole bean and ground.  $7-10 plus shipping and handling usually would have come out to about $50.00.  Not with this deal.  $25 bucks baby!!! I debated only getting two, actually telling myself that three was overkill.  But free shipping?!  That’s what kills me everytime I order anyhow, so I may as well stock up while I can get everything essentially half price. And I did:)

That email and my purchase happened today, March 8.  And when I got home, my Mo Java coffee had arrived from Nebraska.  Free shipping and Mo Java in one day?  For this coffee addict, it was a no brainer that this was the blog-worthy moment:)

Ha. Oi vey. I hope you got a good laugh out of this post.  Now that my caffeine high is diminishing, and I went back to edit, I sure did.  I sound like I’m on speed!

I know to some it may sound like a silly post.  It’s just coffee.  It’s a material thing.  And depending on which research you want to believe it’s either a really good thing or really bad thing that I’m an addict.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that mere coffee was important in my life.  Because it is.  To function, for one. haha. But for other reasons too. It came about, as most good things do, completely out of the blue.  It has excellent memories and stories associated with it, it really does. And, it’s just one of those silly things that I absolutely love.  I will fork over obscene amounts of money to have my favorite coffee shipped to me.  Every time I’m home or in a state that has a Caribou, I will go. This past Christmas break, my parents actually made a special trip for me just so I could have my Caribou.  (Awesome right?) And, as in my buzzfeed/youtube post, I think in life it’s really good and essential to have things like this. To have vices and obsessions that maybe are a bit silly, but mean something to you.  And they don’t have to mean anything dramatic or emotional.  They didn’t have to begin in some epic way. They just have to make you happy:) Little things, my friends, are sometimes the best things in life, and I think what this 100 happy days journey is supposed to help everyone realize and remember.

So don’t beat yourself up for spending a little bit more money on something that makes you happy. Treat yourself. Embrace your strange addictions and quirks.  If they make you happy, then nothing else matters.

And on that note, I’m out of coffee. Time for a refill.  Keep smiling friends. And please, enjoy the little things.  They’re wonderful:)

#17 Ramin and Colm sing “Bring Him Home”

raminIMAG0810

This. Link. This, my friends, is why my heart can barely be contained in my chest right now and why I am sitting on the couch clutching my heart, my hair, and sobbing. Yes. Sobbing. That flattering photo of me, note the mascara ALL underneath my eyes and my crazy looking hair from being pulled at. I figured you would think “sobbing” was an exaggeration. It’s not. Not with this show. Not with this song. And not with these men and this arrganament. My Les Mis post will be coming at another day. So this is short and sweet. Words will detract.

I cannot believe that in one month, if not before then, I get to see this amazing man, Ramin Karimloo, on Broadway in my absolute favorite show ever, Les Miserables.  I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am. I am seeing it when my parents in town. I will for sure be seeing it after they leave and odds are, I will cave and go see it before they arrive as well.

But this clip. This clip of my two favorite Valjeans, Ramin Karimloo and the original, Colm Wilkinson…Words can’t describe it.  It’s perfect. I get chills when I listen. If I could take a picture of my goosebumps or somehow post some sort of body temperature reading, I would. My heart expands with joy and breaks at the depth of emotion each man puts into this song and this role. It’s a dream come true to watch and listen to these two brilliant men sing together. What I would give to go back in time and somehow acquire a ticket to see this live.

I had some other happy moments today (March 6). And I know I’ve posted this clip before. But with Les Mis’ opening drawing nearer and nearer when I re-watched this, I simply had to put it on my 100 happy moments list.  It is definitely worthy.

#16 Autocorrect Fails

auto

Dog Damon auto cucumber!!!

Ohhhh I’m sorry, did you want English?  Well if you have auto correct, as most of these wonderful smartphones do nowadays, English is primary a second language to that of the screwed up, creative, usually inappropriate language of auto correct.

Yes friends, some days or nights you just need a good, hard, tears rolling down your face, ab workout kind of laugh. Whether that be to make up for a bad day or just because you realized nothing really made you giggle throughout the entirety of it, these little gems are on my list of “things guaranteed to make me laugh” whenever I am in need of it.  Auto correct fails, more specifically, Buzzfeed’s (duh) “The 30 Most Hilarious Autocorrect Struggles Ever.”

I can’t say I’ve ever really been a culprit of this.  At least not anything nearly as bad as some of these.  The phrase I typed above I did in fact type on my phone. And yes. I use the word Damon so many times, it has changed damn it to Damon. (And you thought you were a fan…not until your auto correct decides you are! muhahaha. Damon forever!) Anywho…Most of my auto correct fails have been just weird.  They don’t make sense to some people. You have the word “go” instead of” to”. There’s a misplaced period.  Definitely not anything worthy of the auto correct fail list.  But, to be fair, it’s very rare that I send a text message without editing it. I know I know, what a nerd, but it’s the writer/grammar freak in me.  And it has managed to save me from the embarrassing, awkward world of auto correct.

Some people, however, are not so lucky.  And thank goodness or my night of tear inducing laughter wouldn’t have happened.

Today (March 5)  was a pretty ordinary day. I woke up. I worked on some stuff. I went to work. I went to hip hop class (woohoo!) And I came home. Even though I tried to avoid it, or at least put it off and pretend I had stuff to do, I ended up on the couch with Sam doing our usual buzzfeed bonding and taking quizzes.  It’s gotten to be a pretty awesome tradition, if I do say so myself.

Suddenly the “The 30 Most Hilarious Autocorrect Struggles Ever” popped up in the sidebar.  Now I had seen this before. Countless times. And I was sure Sam had.  But, just in case, I asked her.  She replied that she hadn’t!!!  I went on to proclaim that it was one of the funniest things ever and she seemed genuinely interested.  But not interested enough.  She was in the middle of taking a quiz or reading something else and that just wasn’t going to do it for me.  She had to see this now!

So, I did something I have never done before.  I clicked on the link and proceeded to attempt to read, out loud, the auto correct fails. Holy. Shit. I could not have guessed in a million years that it would be as difficult as it was!  I had Sam’s attention at the first one I struggled to get through. And after sitting through my poor reading and hysterical laughter, I figured she’d click on the link and just look herself. No one wants to hear someone read a line, laugh, start the second line, laugh, start it over…it’s like a flashback to middle school when the kid who was so slow at reading had to read out loud. (UGH) No one wants to listen. They want to take over.

But I guess my narrating skills are pretty damn good, because I ended up reading off every. single. one.  Yup.  Out loud. All 30 of them.  And it is freakin hard!!! Some of them, like the one posted above, I had to stop multiple times to breathe and wipe tears away.  I mean, they’re never long. You see how short that one is.  But they would take me minutes to get through because I was laughing so damn hard!  And some of them just have ridiculous typos that you can’t even pronounce or understand.  It just became about a half an hour of hysterical gut wrenching laughter and crying.  The kind where you start off legitimately laughing and then because it’s so infectious you just can’t stop and you’re laughing before anything funny is even said.  Gasping for breath, grabbing your stomach, making howling noises. It’s a fantastic thing. And it was a beautiful night.

In my opinion, the dirtier the better, like the example posted above.  Or the more offensive.  It’s funny when there are just crazy words all smushed together that make no sense. And in your head you’re thinking “they must have at least typed this at some point in their life because auto correct thinks its a word. WTF?!” Like wakawakaskittletites. Yup. But I think my favorite fails are when those poor souls attempting to text keep trying to correct themselves, and auto correct still one ups them.  And they never actually get out what they want to say. And then they give up, via text. And sometimes, even on the giving up phrase like “damn it” or “I give up,” auto correct still messes with it. bahaha. I love it. I’m chuckling right now just thinking about it.

Like I said, I’ve been fortunate enough to have never *knock on wood* have an embarassing auto correct fail.  I’m aware of how annoying it is though.  I’ve got pretty fast fingers.  I’m a fast typer.  But with auto correct now, I feel like I’m like everyone else when trying to send a message and not some fast texting hybrid.  Because auto correct corrects everything. And it’s annoying as hell because then in my case I have to go back, try to get the little cursor in the middle of the word, backspace, fix my typo and then sometimes it corrects it again! Duckin autocucumber!

But I guess I have to be grateful that it exists.  The reason it’s around is definitely for a good cause, as I feel it was created  to avoid typing mistakes. Isn’t it ironic that it is now the cause of so many of them? Funny how that worked out.  But if we didn’t have auto correct, then we wouldn’t have auto correct fails.  So thank you auto correct. Although you’re kind of a bitch and cause me and many others unnecessary grammar drama, you have provided me with nights of gut busting laughter due to your need to correct everyone’s texting.  And without that, it would be a sad world indeed.

Spank you augocorrecy!!! (WTF?! Meh. I’m laughing)

*warning. Do not eat or drink while reading unless you want cette food or drink anywhere but in your mouth* :

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/the-30-most-hilarious-autocorrect-struggles-ever

#15 Texas Shakespeare Festival “On-Call”

TX

Blogosphere.  I am overflowing with joy.  I can barely wrap my head around this. Today, March 3, something absolutely wonderful happened. And for once, it’s actually related to the reason I moved to this insane city in the first place.  Theater.  No, no I haven’t been cast in anything, don’t get too excited, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. And although it’s nice to feel good after an audition, its nice to have something concrete positive as a follow up rather than just a self pat on the back. But let me back track a little and lead up to today…

To be an actor, or rather, attempt to be an actor, in NYC, it’s all about what you put into it.  There’s no one holding your hand. There’s no one giving you a bad grade anymore if your monologue is not prepared.  If you want even a chance to make it in this business, it comes down to you and only you. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out the correct and most effective way to do this . And I bet the majority of other people auditioning haven’t either.  Because here’s the thing.  Even though I learned how to audition in college, even though I have friends who have siblings out here who have had experiences, even though I’ve talked to and picked Broadway actors’ brains, even though I’ve tried tons of different outfits, looks, songs, monologues etc, I have learned that there is no right, magical, golden way to go about this crazy audition process and to guarantee and get oneself a job.  Do I go and sit at an EPA? Do I tell them I have dance experience even though I haven’t had formal training, I just happen to move really well? Do I go to a chorus call? Should I sing from the show? Is this audition really worth getting up at 6 AM for? Should I audition for things that don’t pay me? Someone tell me how to do this!!!!

The list goes on and on. And depending on who you ask, you’ll get different opinions. Some of you reading this right now may be laughing at me for still having these questions. That’s cool. But I really think it’s all about finding what works for you and taking huge, terrifying sometimes stupid risks.  That’s the only way you’re going to figure this shit out. And I’ve got a few personal examples to back up my current reasoning.

Exhibit A: I was told never to submit via email or snail mail for an Equity Principal Audition because they’ll consider it a waste of their time, get pissed and discard anything you give them and put you on a blacklist. Dun dun dun. I accidentally (yes I’m telling the truth, accidentally) submitted for a Shakespeare EPA a few months after moving out here.  I just didn’t see that it had listed EPA submissions only. Their response? “Do you have video clips you can send us?” Well. Sweet!  Exhibit B: I was told never to go to a dance call because I had no formal training.  I know people who are dancers who insisted that even they wouldn’t go to a dance call. Well. I went to a Rock of Ages dance call and I got seen more than once.  I didn’t get cast.  I wasn’t the best. But I certainly wasn’t the worst. And more importantly, I went. I broke down that “you should never go to a dance call” wall.  I mean, I’m not auditioning for 42nd Street anytime soon, but certain dance auditions aren’t as scary anymore. Plus if I’m getting up at 6 AM, few things are better than dancing like a stripper to Pour Some Sugar On Me that early.  Pretty damn good way to wake up;)

I’m certainly not trying to toot my own horn and brag. I’m just proud of those moments. Those risks. Those flukes that turned out well. They’ve made me more confident. They’ve made me realize that just because you know the business, doesn’t mean you know the business. One company might be pissed you submitted for an EPA only. One might find time and say “what the hell, we’ll see her anyways.”

On the flipside, however, for those of you who do think I’m bragging, are flukes that have not gone well.  I’ve gone to really weird creepy auditions, gotten cut off doing a monologue that went over by probably a second, gotten cut just by not looking like a character, not gotten seen at EPAs, forgotten and then made up words to a song, and slept in my fair share of times instead of getting my ass out of bed. Ahhh such a wonderful profession I’ve chosen. It sure does help you get a spine, some balls and a thick skin if you’re lacking in those areas though, I tell ya.

I had been at this for almost a year. Trying new things. Talking to people. Getting up early and putting myself out there. And come Christmas of 2013, I was kind of fed up. How the hell do I go about getting a fricken job out here?! Someone just tell me the secret!!! How do I show a casting director everything I’m capable of in 8 measures of a song? Seriously. How do I know which auditions are good and which ones are a waste of my time? My brain, body and heart were tired. For this much money, is this much failing and missing people I love worth it? If I’m not doing theater, I have no reason to be in NYC.

And then, while at home for two weeks at Christmas, away from the stress and craziness and stuffiness of this city and it’s people, I realized something.  (and bare with me for a bit so I can explain)  It doesn’t matter.  There is no right. There is no wrong.  I care so much about theater. I absolutely love it.  But you can only dwell and focus on things so much.  I need to pick songs I love. I need to pick monologues I love. I need to wear things that I like. I need to stop listening to everyone else, stop caring what people think and audition and try this theater thing for me.   Duh! Hello! That’s why I’m here.  I got into theater for me, not anyone else.  Not to be a star, but to have fun!  It makes me so damn happy when I’m doing it, why would I make anything, even the audition process, more stressful than it needs to be? And I know the professionals have some weight. And the college professors we’ve had. And the people in the business.  Listen to what they say and take note, but if it doesn’t feel right or you don’t like it, don’t do it. Regardless of who they are. Kind of simple right?  We really do over complicate things as humans.  Life shouldn’t be as hard as we make it, and therefore, neither should theater.

So this is where I landed on Christmas break.  My big epiphany that I had heard mention of before, but never truly grasped until that moment. This is the philosophy I adapted and was riding high on when I walked into my Texas Shakespeare audition.  I had emailed them a while back and requested an appointment and to my delight, was scheduled with a time. The productions they were auditioning for were Macbeth, Cymbeline, Noises Off and My Fair Lady. If you know theater, you know why I submitted. Fantastic shows. Definitely a couple dream roles in there for me. And I felt really good about the company. At least, I got as good of a vibe as one can via email and website.

So I’m jazzed about the shows and I’m really happy that it’s an appointment, as they are far easier than open calls.  With an appointment you literally can get there a few minutes beforehand, go in at your time, and peace out. No lining up in the cold at 6 AM and leaving 12 hours later. In and out. To make it even better, I then found out what the audition requirements were.  One Shakespeare monologue. And one cut of a song from My Fair Lady, using the accompaniment provided for whichever song you picked on their website.  I get to do any Shakespeare and any song from My Fair Lady? Epic. Win. I know my Shakespeare pieces better than any other pieces (not sure how that happened) and I’ve been singing My Fair Lady since I was 5.  Finally an audition that fits me!

That morning, I left early but of course, just barely made it to the damn building on time.  Stupid New York and it’s delayed trains, repeating street names and confusing addresses.  But, as I was running high on adrenaline from barely making it to the building and getting lost in the process, I didn’t really have time to psyche myself out before going in.  I took off my coat, handed the monitor my stuff, took a few deep breaths, switched my shoes and entered. Although not intentional, this has proved effective for me in the past.  The waiting game always messes with my head.  It’s better if I’ve been running around doing something else prior to an audition. Frees up my right brain so I don’t think as much and freak myself out. So all in all, although out of breath from running, I was off to a good start.

I walked into this really open room which had some sort of leftover set design in it.  There were columns and arches everywhere, but it was really kind of cool. Made you feel like you were on a stage and part of something rather than just in some open, empty classroom giving a presentation for a teacher, like most of these appointment auditions feel like. Behind the table was just one, mid 60’s gentleman who before either of us even spoke, gave off this incredibly welcoming vibe.  I know monitors aren’t supposed to show emotion so as not to give any hints as to casting, but this man was just so warm.  He smiled at me when I walked in and greeted me with enthusiasm.  He asked my name and where I was from, and then asked a little bit about my background.  And he seemed genuinely interested in all of it, not just following protocol.  Or maybe he’s just a really good actor himself. We bonded over the Midwest, which instantly made me feel at ease.  That’s always a selling point for me. That also explains why he was so nice:)

I started with my Shakespeare and a couple lines in, I could feel that I had a good rhythm.  If you’re an actor, you know that feeling.  And because of that, you feel unstoppable.  I felt so free.  I know this piece so well, I was just able to let go.  And that carried over into my song.  I sang “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady and it just felt so good.  I was so in the moment.  Again, not tooting my own horn, but it’s just so nice when you feel like you did good, regardless of what the people sitting there deciding your fate think.

The gentleman, however, must have thought I did a somewhat decent of a job too because after I was done singing he leaned forward and said with a grin on his face “well.  It’s a shame you can’t sing.” And chuckled, clearly joking, as he followed it up with “that was very very nice. Very nice. Thank you.”  He then explained some facts about the company and said that, whether we were cast or not, he would inform us by the end of February.

I was incredibly happy with my audition and was eager to hear back from them.  But being it was so far away, I tried not to think about it.  Which got easier as the months past.

When it came to the end of February and I hadn’t heard, I was anxious.  I kept checking my inbox and my spam, checking the website to see if things had been posted. Nothing.  They had said they’d let us know either way, but maybe they had changed their mind within the past month.  So I wrote it off as not getting a part.  Which was totally okay!  I had had an incredible audition and I was able to keep that in mind for the future.  Remember what I had done, keep that carefree philosophy in mind and mimic that for other auditions.

And then today, I got an email from the gentleman I had auditioned for.  Quite a lengthy email actually.  I skimmed it once, as you do, to see if there was any mention of a character.  My eyes flitted over the words unfortunately, so I knew I wasn’t in.  Not unexpected in the least.  No big.  So then I went back to actually read the email.

It started off with saying how difficult it was to cast shows.  That even though everyone is talented, sometimes it really does come down to how you look or how you look next to your cast mates, whether or not you live in the area etc etc.  Then it went on to say that I wasn’t cast due to one of these small things, not because I had a lack of talent.

And at this point in the email, although it’s very complimentary, I was thinking okay, they’re just writing this to make us feel good.  Props to the company because it is very nice.  But I’m sure they don’t really remember me. It’s probably a copy and pasted email, altered maybe slightly per person.

I continued reading.

The next paragraph went on to state, however, that the reason it took so long to contact me and whoever else received this email, was because they were trying to find spots for us.  That we were essentially in the final running. That those who didn’t get cast received an email a week ago, but that they were trying to find some sort of position for us.  I still didn’t make the cut, but Texas Shakespeare put me on an “on call” list.

I had never heard of that.  And because this very personal and nice email was so different from anything I had ever gotten or seen before, I was still a little skeptical.  It made me feel good, if nothing else, that this was indeed a good company who cared about their actors and the process, but I wasn’t sure if it was all BS or not.

Apparently, it’s not.  I mentioned the “on-call” list to Maya who immediately went “oh heck yeah, that’s a thing.”  Basically it’s this.  Think of football. You’ve got your quarterback. You’ve got your second string, basically the understudy.  You’ve got your third and fourth string who are understudies/swings, what have you.  And then, I guess if all of them go down, they would call in someone “on-call.”  Someone who was good, who could play the part, but didn’t quite fit into the mix that they were going for, but is capable of doing so if need be.

Now, I am well aware that there are a slew of people before me, and a slew of people who are probably on this list as well.  Trust me, I’m not quitting my day job. But this is the closest thing to getting a part, hell just being acknowledged as someone with talent, that I’ve gotten since moving here.  And, now I am tooting my own horn, I feel pretty freakin awesome about it.  And you know what, maybe it still is a load of BS. Maybe they don’t have an “on-call” list.  Maybe this company is so devoted to making people feel good that they have some email all gussied up and ready to send to the masses of poor souls who got cut and just need to hear “you don’t suck, really” in letter form.  And maybe “on-call” means absolutely nothing at all.

But you know what, I don’t care. Because, as I told you, I felt good about that audition. And if this “on-call” thing is legit, then I did something right.  No, nothing is going to happen.  I don’t anticipate moving to Texas to fill in for anyone.  Honestly, they’ll have other people.  But it was the ego boost that I needed.  It helped me find what I’ve now adapted as my new audition/theater/life philosophy.

When I say “I don’t care,” especially involving theater, it doesn’t mean that I actually don’t care.  What it means is the age old saying that you can’t get hung up on what other people think.  You can’t let other people tell you what to do or how to feel.  Along with that, we all have our biases, I guess you could say.  Just because I say “sing what you love,” doesn’t mean if Ramin Karimloo came up to me and said “sing this song the rest of your life, it will get you work,” I wouldn’t listen because “I don’t care”.  But I would do it only if I wanted to do it and if I felt good singing it.  Okay that’s a lie, I would do anything Ramin said to me.  Bad example.

Here’s a better one. Apparently in the theater world, no one likes hearing songs from Jekyll and Hyde.  Well. That’s one of my favorite shows. And if I can work on a song and get it to sound really good where I’m happy with it and think its worthy, maybe I’ll bust it out one of these auditions.  And if they hate it, then they got their laugh in for the day. But if I do it well…well, you never know. As I said, there is no right and wrong. You don’t know until you try. One casting director might hate it. One casting director might have a secret love for the show just like you and that might just get you a part.

Perhaps you think this post has turned rude or preachy.  I am certainly not saying this is the right way by any means.  Everyone has their own way of living and their own opinions. And if I don’t want you to judge me, then I am certainly not going to judge you.  I just wanted to share with everyone that I think I’ve finally found a way to make this audition thing more bearable.  For now. At age 25. Being in NYC for one year. And that’s an accomplishment for me and where I am now and I owe it all to this Texas Shakespeare audition.  Where I went in, I sang what I loved, I was confident, I had fun, I didn’t freak, and it paid off.

I’m off my soap box now, but I will leave you with this.  On my birthday this year, I was so lucky to get to see Sierra Boggess perform.  She had a piece in her showcase called “I Don’t Care.”  She prefaced this song with her experience in The Little Mermaid and how she made the silly mistake of checking out reviews online, post her Broadway debut.  And then, after a series of cry sessions and breakdowns, she found a quote, and a song, that I will now leave you with.  Because I think it’s bloody brilliant and is now my new outlook on this whole crazy acting thing and this whole crazy living thing.

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

Listen to the song. Enjoy. Love life. Be happy.

I apologize. WordPress is refusing to let me upload the entire song. So here’s a clip. Meh. Better than nothing.

http://www.amazon.com/I-Dont-Care-Live/dp/B00H4RDPEU

#14 SPiN

Spin 2Spin 3Spin

HAPPY MARDI GRAS CRAZIES!!!

I know, I know, Mardi Gras is technically tomorrow.  But since tomorrow is Tuesday, isn’t that the day known as Fat Tuesday?! It seems wrong to have the day of binge eating and the day of “show us your sexy body and get beads” as one combined event. Was Fat Tuesday last week? How is it working this year? Someone tell me…This redhead is confuzzled. And spending way too much time worrying about it/telling you about it.

Regardless of when the two holidays fall, tonight (March 3) is our unofficial Mardi Gras celebration.  I have just decided. Because honestly, I totally forgot about Mardi Gras. (Mega fail for a Holiday freak like me, I know.) I’m not sure I’ve ever actually celebrated it, aside from French class in High School. Psh the Fat Tuesday part I got down. Eat a lot of unhealthy food? Welcome to every day of my life.  But aside from that, I don’t think I’ve ever gone out and partied as one is supposed to do on this joyous day.

But tonight, that is changing. Kind of. (It’s a Monday so it’s not exactly a “woo-hoo booze” kind of night) Tonight, joined by the returning Maya Naff, Sam, Pat and I are making our second trip to one of our new favorite places in NYC. SPiN. Introduced to us by our college friend Tim, via his girlfriend, Rhiannon, who works there. Ahhhh knowing the right people is a wonderful thing:)

What is this SPiN, in all of its weird capitalizing glory, you may ask?  Well SPiN, my friends, is a bar. But not just any bar. Oh no.  It is a PING PONG bar!!!  You heard me right. Ping Pong.  But it’s not some hole in the wall dive bar, jukebox in one corner, crappy ping pong table in the other kind of bar. (Not that that’s a bad thing!) This is all New York Citied up. Flashing neon lights, loud pumping music, overpriced drinks and all.

You walk down the steps to this fabulous venue and to the left is a private room with a smaller bar and a stage where bands sometimes play.  But take a right, and enter a gigantic space full of bleachers, couches, a DJ, a huge bar in the back and ping pong tables as far as the eye can see.  There are definitely a long list of things NYC has yet to impress me with.  This, however, is not one of them.  It’s a pretty cool scene. And in case you didn’t hear me the first time. It’s a Ping. Pong. Bar. As the welcome sign says; Eat. Drink. Play Ping Pong.  Pretty sweet? I think so.

The atmosphere is exhilarating, especially on the weekends.  For a fee, you’re able to reserve a ping pong table for you and your friends. You can also reserve a huge semi-private booth in the back few corners that have their own ping pong tables for an even bigger fee. Or, you can get it for free if you know someone on the inside…;)

But it’s not just ping pong enthusiasts or drunken idiots who are playing.  They actually have professional ping pong players come in and play rounds on what they call the “center court.” This is the big court that has the bleachers all around it, directly in front of the bar.   I wasn’t really sure what to expect the first time we got here, especially when it came to the “professionals.” But they are goooood. Damn good. It’s really fun to watch!

Our first visit was back in January, I believe.  Tim had mentioned the place to us a few times and told us that Rhiannon was finally able to work something out.  So, myself and the roomies, Pat and his brother Ryan, and Tim and Rhiannon, all met up at SPiN.  We had one of the coveted gargantuan booths in the back with our own table.  We started out with a game or two, just to ease everyone into the feel of things.  To my knowledge, none of us were ping pong masters, so a few practice rounds were necessary. Especially when you’re in heels. You gotta get a feel for the game in heels.

The ping pong was interrupted when the “host” of the evening announced that there would be a dance contest on the center court.  My first thought: Ehhh. Well. Why the hell not?! I don’t know anyone. I like dancing. I’m going to be more upset if I don’t do it than if I do, even if I look ridiculous. Live in the moment baby. Let’s do this. And to my surprise, it really didn’t take much convincing to get everyone else to join me! Ok, most of them I dragged out to the center court saying things like “come on, you have to, it will be fun,” until they were eventually cornered by the host and forced to stay out there and dance. But still. They all participated.  Mission accomplished;)

There were three rounds and each round was American Idol style, “audience/fans pick.” You know how that goes. Whoever gets the loudest screams advances.  I think we all made it past the first round. I’ll keep the salacious details and exact dance moves chosen a secret to spare embarrassment to my wonderful friends, but as the contestants grew fewer and fewer, you had to get more and more creative. I know she’ll be pissed if I tell you how, but Karlene won. Use your imagination;)

There’s really not much to describe or discuss other than to say we had an excellent time. Post dance contest, Karlene was able to get us complimentary drinks all night as her prize. So the rest of the night went as follows.  Grab a drink. Play some ping pong.  Grab another drink. The ping pong gets a little funnier to watch. Grab another drink and suddenly you’re creating new rules factoring in your shoes, which you refuse to take off because, let’s face it, they look amazing. You get the gist of it.  Oh don’t freak, we were all fine and made it home unscathed.  Thank you McDonald’s for your greasy awesomeness. It was a delightful evening:)

Unfortunately, with busy schedules and the high demand for tables at this awesome spot, we haven’t been able to go in over a month. Lucky for us though, Rhiannon was able to use her awesome redhead powers (yup, fellow redhead) to snag us another reservation for this evening:)  Our group is smaller than last time, as it is a Monday, but I can’t imagine the level of fun to be any less.

I really appreciate that there is a venue like this in New York City.  I’m sure it’s not the only one of its kind and I’m sure there are places that are similar, but it’s a refreshing combination.  It’s in a classy, cool part of the city, but the atmosphere is light and fun, not stuffy or exclusive. It’s nice and hip but it’s sporty and casual. Every stranger I’ve met there seems to be surprisingly nice. And like a legit nice, not some forced pretentious nice like you meet at some of these other clubs. It’s got bar food and shots, but if you’re feeling a martini, they’ve got that too. There’s good music, but it’s not blasting where you can’t even have a conversation.  And oh yeah, PING PONG!!! Even if you aren’t particularly fond of the sport, I just think it’s so cool that you can go to a place like this with friends, hang out and engage in a game that whether you’re good at or not, everyone usually ends up enjoying or at least getting a laugh out of watching their friends fail miserably.  I appreciate the creativity and originality that went into this location and just the super fun atmosphere that it has.

Props to SPiN. If you live here or are on vacation, go check it out.  It’s more chill during the week. The professionals and the party starts on the weekends. But whenever you go, it’s going to be just a really great time.

And if my story/review is not enough to get you to visit, I think I forgot to mention that Susan Sarandon loves this place and hangs out there all the time…;)

#13 Reign

Reign2Reign Ahhhh Happy Sunday my dear readers.

This week was a tiring one.  I worked extra hours.  I was with the kids all day on Friday due to parent teacher conferences, as you know. And I also worked for another family on Saturday night.  I had auditions, I went to the gym, I had what seemed like lots of little things to get done.  It was a nice amount of busy, but tiring nonetheless. Needless to say, I am very happy it is Sunday (March 2) and that I have a full day off to regroup,  relax, see my boyfriend, call my parents, and oh yeah, watch Reign🙂  That’s right friends, it’s time for another nerd post.  You’ve seen it in relation to books, but today, we’re taking our first, of at least three trips, to TV land.

Reign is a show that just began its first season this fall on the CW.  It comes on directly after The Vampire Diaries on Thursday nights. (Yes. That’s one of the three) Unfortunately for me, we have neither cable nor really any other channels here in Harlem.  We get four local channels but they kind of cut in and out and frankly aren’t worth the effort of futzing with the antenna, especially with all the media sites out there nowadays.  Netflix, Hulu etc.

I had seen previews for Reign when I was home for the summer but forgot about it for a bit.  Until Christmas.  When I hung out with a certain someone all day and was re-introduced to the show.  Betcha can’t guess who fueled this addiction… 😉 (Reward yourself with something you deem appropriate if you guessed Nicole)

That’s right, on one of our mandatory cousin days, we were debating what to do or watch when Nicole had asked me if I had heard of Reign.  I told her I had seen previews and thought it looked interesting.  Reign focuses on the historical figure Mary, Queen of Scots, one of the lesser known and talked about Queens, and her rise to power in France.  Mary has been hidden in a convent since a young age to avoid the use and abuse of the surrounding kingdoms for political power.  She is set to wed Francis, the Dauphin of France, and after an attempt on her life in the convent, finally sets off to see this arrangement through.

I knew I would like the show.  A powerful, real life protagonist.  All sorts of medeival-ness; sword fighting, magic, and just the essence of the time period itself.  And of course, being a CW show, freakishly good looking actors who seem to damn sexy for this world.  Yes, I’m mainly talking about the men. I’m convinced CW has their own island where they recruit these men from.  Have you seen Ian Somerhalder?!   How is it possible someone is that good looking and awesome?! *drool*. I don’t care how much of a prude you are, you have to admit, having sexy men definitely doesn’t hurt a TV show. And is definitely a draw.

What I didn’t expect, was to go through the entire season, or what was at Christmas time, with Nicole in just that day.  Nor to like it so much!  We joked around with the first episode, insisting that this show would be like a “guilty pleasure” show;  You know, the show you really love but don’t want to admit that you love because you know it’s bad. Like a Honey Boo Boo kind of the thing. Or the show that you are so biased towards because of something you find passionate, but you know it’s not the best. (I can’t think of an example. All my shows rock;p) We both love history, we both love the time period and we both liked the potential of the show.  But we were not unaware that it was being broadcast on the CW.  Which is a fine network, but is no stranger to throwing in some cheese and unnecessary drama to a show to make it stand out.  I think I have to be honest with myself now though.  This show is much more than a guilty pleasure.  It is definitely mine, and Nicole’s, newest addiction.

Without giving too much away, let me set the scene.  Mary goes off to wed Francis, who, although hesitant towards Mary initially, is everything you’d expect in a prince.  Tall, blue eyed,blonde and built.  Chivalrous, polite and direct.  A little reserved, but opens up, as you can expect, once Mary is back in his life.  He has a huge heart and, once he remembers the friendship he and Mary had as kids, completely gives his heart to her.  It’s cute.  And historically, this is who Mary ends up marrying.  Though in real life, Francis was sickly and their marriage maybe lasted a year.

Francis is the son of King Henry and Queen Catherine.  Henry, although very much in love with his Queen at the time of marriage, has since taken up a permanent mistress named Diane, causing his relationship and the Queens to be incredibly strained and hostile.  Which also makes for amazing TV, I might add.  Although he has his faults, he’s not the worst king, and the actor who portrays him does a fantastic job. He definitely has his moments of badass-ery and his moments of “aw come on, you’re such a tool!”

And Queen Catherine.  Ohhhh Queen Catherine, where do I began?  Not quite as harsh as Cersei.  This is the CW, not HBO.  But the same concept.  The woman you absolutely love love love to hate.  Megan Follows does an absolutely astounding job portraying her.  This woman is strong.  And fierce.  And fricken intelligent. And yes, completely evil most of the time, but as with Cersei, her maliciousness is all done out of love for her children.  Though in this case, it’s a bit more believable and not quite as intense as Game of Thrones.  Catherine has an intense bond with the philosopher, Nostradamus, which is actually historically accurate.  She is one of the only people who believes in his visions without question, so when he sees that Mary is ultimately the cause of Francis’ death, Catherine takes action.  In a way only Catherine can.  Thus begins our show. Dun dun dun!

We also have the illegitimate son of Henry and Diane. The bastard of France, Sebastian, referred to as Bash. And if you know me, you know that the instant this character was introduced, this was my guy.  Tall and built like his brother, but brown hair and striking, amazing blue eyes.  As the bastard with no claim to the throne, but still royalty by blood, he’s the rogue, mysterious brother.  However, the CW does an excellent job with his character.  You expect Bash to have that rebellious, charmingly devious brother thing going on.  Maybe I’m just used to The Vampire Diaries, but I anticipated Bash to be the Damon character.  In love with his brother’s girl, rule breaker, but a heart so big and the charm turned up so high, you can’t help but love and forgive him. (Am I right ladies?)  And every once and a while, Bash has his moments.  But the CW sticks to the time period very well.  Bash isn’t out causing trouble. He’s not a rebel in a bad sense.  He is a very very good guy and always helping people and thinking of others. Bash is smart.  Smarter than Francis.  He has a bigger heart.  He, yes, loves Mary, but it’s different.  Whereas Francis wants a Queen and will always put his power as King before her power as Queen and her love, Bash just absolutely wholeheartedly loves and adores Mary. He wants no claim to the throne at all which of course, makes him a much better ruler than Francis because he’s lived a little bit more outside of that world.  He’s passionate.  He thinks with his heart, but is so chivalrous that his actions are never hurtful towards others. And of course, he has a beautiful relationship with his brother despite his illegitimacy, making it difficult for you to hate on either of them, despite which “side” you may be one. Basically he’s the perfect man if you just want to get to the point of it all. Let’s be real.

So the show takes off and you’re introduced to numerous other characters along the way. Mary’s four ladies in waiting, each with their own little story, Clarissa the mysterious Castle “ghost,” who takes a liking to Mary, but whose identity is hidden from us, the viewers, as she wears a sack over her head the majority of the first season.  And there’s plenty to entertain.  Paganism.  Fighting countries.  Fighting brothers. Sexual tension. Romance. Scandal, both political and personal, inside the castle.  All the makings of an entertaining CW show.

Despite the fact that it’s on the CW and is very loosely based on history, what makes this show, in my opinion, worthy of my dubbing of “addiction” rather than “guilty pleasure” is the fact that it’s still going strong.  And kicking some serious ass. When the show started, as I said, I knew I’d like it.  But I figured sooner rather than later, the plot would become too dramatic and the twists and turns wouldn’t really be that unpredictable. You’d have the romance and medieval fun, but the real plot was soon to wear thin. I was interested to see where they would take the show and how long they could make it go before running out of steam or having to come to the actual historical ending and facts, which, let’s just say, aren’t exactly CW material.

There have been a few instances of this lately in my life with books, TV and movies; Where I had something to read or watch that I knew would be ‘good’…just not as good as they ended up being.  Mindblowingly good, usually.  See my Scarlet post.  In my opinion, if you grab my attention with the basic plot and idea and then are constantly surprising me and surpassing my expectations, you are doing something incredibly right. And Reign is one of those.  I can honestly, and shamefully, say that I did not think this show was going to be as a good as it is. I am very happy I was wrong.

The twists and turns in the show are never expected for the most part.  And even if you know something is coming, the writers always seem to do a good job of making it just a little bit different than you’d think in your head.Example: You know Mary is going to kiss Bash in one scene.  You know he’s going to like it.  You know she’s going to like it, but will instantly feel guilty, since she’s to be wed to Francis.  So when she pulls back and says “I shouldn’t have done that,” you’re thinking “yeah I figured, but we got the kiss so I’m happy.” What you don’t expect is for Bash’s next line to be “you’re right. I should have,” and to then go in for another kiss. (* squeal of delight*)That’s an example I figured wouldn’t give too much away. There are better examples for those of you who aren’t impressed or swooning over that one.  I however, find that line to be quite wonderful:) Yes, I’m a biased Bash lover. Deal.

Also great, is the acting.  It shouldn’t be surprising that the actors are good.  It’s what they’re paid to do of course and you’d hope they would be talented.  But again, it’s the CW. And I have nothing against this channel, I swear!  I love it, but it’s not HBO.  HBO has Peter Dinklage and Kevin Spacy, not unknowns or less knowns. But what makes them so good is that they fully embrace and portray their characters passionately.  It could be that this show is much more cheesy than I think it is, but the actors are so good at what they do, you’d never really know.  Again, I’m just really impressed.

Although my love and loyalty is completely towards Bash, Catherine gets the acting and bad ass character award for this show, hands down.  Lady. Is. Awesome. Her scenes with Henry are just so chalked full of spite and hurt and power.  Her friendship with Nostradamus is so interesting. Her determination to stop Mary from hurting her son and the interactions she has with Mary are so fiery.  She is so damn intelligent and determined.  And every actor/character has those moments.   There are quite a few characters, but you get to know each of them.  Mary’s ladies in waiting, although not protagonists, have enough of their own story going where you care about them too.  They’re not just bodies or characters who fill the plot when maybe the writers were having an off day.

And fine. Yes. I’ll be honest.  It’s another adventure tale.  Set in another time. Filled with characters and attitudes that no longer exist.  And that’s my weak spot. However, as I said before, it surpasses my expectations. I may like something, but if it’s cheesy or done poorly I’m not above admitting it.  I read 50 Shades of Grey.  (yeah yeah I know) I was entertained and intrigued and it had its moments.  But I’m not unaware of the flimsy writing and ridiculous plot line. Doesn’t mean I still don’t like it.  But I can admit that it’s not the greatest.

With Reign, that’s kind of what I expected.  A good show that, with my tinted adventure glasses on, would be perceived just a little better in my biased mind.  But I think that even without those glasses, this show could hold its own.  It’s fresh and different for the CW, who has its modern day dramas like Pretty Little Liars and then complete fantasy dramas like The Vampire Diaries.  It’s time we had some historical drama thrown in the mix complete with some really strong female characters and a love story that could really go multiple ways.

My history/medieval/adventure side is very satisfied with this show.  It’s really got it all and thus far, the writers have done an incredible job at keeping it suspenseful and exciting and the actors have just nailed their parts and made everyone fall in love or love/hate with them.  I suggest you check it out, especially if you have a weak spot for this kind of stuff as well. Or if you just like looking at really hot, really awesome men. There’s that too. Hey, just being honest.

The more I watch it, the more I love it. And the more I want to be on it. Hey, they’re going to need Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth eventually.  Isn’t it just grand that she’s a redhead…;) I wonder if they’re casting yet…

#12 Packages

package

This, my friends, is an epic tale of how this little package had a hell of a time making its way to New York City and how finally today, March 1, it made it’s way into my apartment.

Flashback to Valentine’s Week.  I had called my parents to chat with them and they had mentioned that they were sending me a Valentine’s Day care package.  Hurray!!!  I told them they certainly didn’t need to, but I always love their packages.  They know their daughter very well and pack the best stuff:)

Unfortunatly, Mr. Package was already causing some problems.  To ensure I got it by Valentine’s Day, my mom had gone to the Post Office extra early on in the week.  She walked up to the counter and they asked if she was packaging and shipping any liquids, to which she replied, “yes.”  Apparently she should have lied, because the Post Office doesn’t feel its cool to ship liquids. Lame.

So off to the UPS Store she went and successfully mailed the package out on Monday, February 10.

Now. I have learned in NYC, it is always best to have yourself or someone you know around to receive a delivery.  At least in good ole Harlem.  Here’s why: Not to take this on a negative rant, but the Harlem post office is full of the most incompetent and mean people I have ever met.  They’ve actually gotten into the habit of not informing you if you missed a package by putting a ticket on your door and then since you don’t have a ticket (which they forgot) they fight with you over giving you your package.  “If you didn’t get a ticket, we didn’t deliver it!!!” “Hm. Really. Let me just pull up this confirmation number online…” Oh it’s a swell time.  And this has happened to multiple people.  I’ve witnessed it. And some of them are not as nice as me.

Specifically with NYC UPS, you want to be around because they’re not exactly smart and considerate like UPS delivery people in the Midwest.  Oh I know NYC is big and you have a lot of deliveries.  But I love that if you’re not there on day 1 to pick up your package, they keep coming back at the same time until your final delivery.  Do you think, perhaps, that maybe I’m not around at 2 PM because I work?! Maybe try an earlier or later time next time.  Oh, no, still 2 PM. hm.  Well no shit I won’t be there! Ugh. Put 2 and 2 together guys, cmon…

Rant done.

So. Going off of what I’ve learned, I informed my roommates of the situation and got their schedules and even had Pat “on call” to come over if there was ever a window of time someone wasn’t here.  Oh yeah, I had that many bases covered. Because of course they have a knack for coming, even if someone is home all day, when that person is in the shower or something.

The first delivery attempt was made Thursday.  We missed it. The second attempt was made on Friday. We missed it.  No idea how. But they checked off that I had one more delivery and that they would come after 5:00. On Monday, I was going to be with the kids all day, but both my roommates were home! Hurrah!!! Nope, President’s Day. No mail.  And on Tuesday, they yet again managed to find a window of time when no one was home.  One girl was finishing her shift and two girls had just left.  Damn!  They left a ticket on the door saying that they had made their final delivery…but they did not check off where they had taken the package!

Usually an unreceived package goes back to the store in the city it was delivered to, in this case, the UPS store in the Bronx.  I quickly went online to check and to my horror, found that my package had already made its way to Illinois!  They were sending it back home!  And fast too!  Yeesh, they must have knocked once and put it right back on the truck. Goodness.

I informed my very disappointed parents about the predicament.  By mom was frustrated that I had not only not received my package on the holiday, but that it was now coming back to their house and had to be re-shipped!  But, my parent’s, being the wonderful people that they are, did re-ship my package. Through FedEx this time. Liquids and all. Take THAT FedEx. muhaha.

Which brings us to Friday, the 28.  I was with the kids all day again, but Sam was home and Karlene later on and my dad said the package was for sure coming today.  Late afternoon I received a text from my father saying the package had been received!  Hurray!!! Finally a success!

When I got home, I burst through the door and screamed “PACKAGE!!!” And ran into the living room where my roommates stared up at me, confused. “There’s no package for you Kaitlin” said Karlene.  “You gotta be fuckin kidding me,” I screamed.  I ran into my room, thinking it had magically walked in there and delivered itself. Nope. Nothing.

So I texted my dad.  He said the online tracking said it had been delivered to my exact address.  And signed by a man named Beano. My dad thought Beano was my super.  I told him my idiot super didn’t even live in my building.

Well, now we had a problem.  The package was here, but likely in someone else’s hands.  However, I back tracked a bit, recalling a time or two when the online tracking said the package had been delivered and then I had received it the next day.  Meaning it had been delivered, just to the post office.  My dad insisted that no, someone had signed for it.  He was going to call FedEx in the morning.

Well Friday wrapped up and I crawled into bed.  I read a good chunk of Lady Thief. (!!!!) I watched some Jenna Marbles.  I had just shut off my light when I heard, what I thought, was a loud pounding on my door.

I threw my covers back and listened again, thinking “what the hell, it’s 3 AM, this is not good.”  This had never happened.  I tiptoed out into the living room.  I knew Sam was taking a bath, maybe she was cleaning or pounding on something?  Nope, it happened again, a very distinct pounding on the door.  Sam peaked her head out of the bathroom and went to go look through the peep hole.

Now, on the back of our door, we hang all of our coats.  So up until now, as the apartment was dark, I think the mysterious stranger maybe thought no one was home.  But when you start moving coats around to look through the peep hole, your cover is blown.  Sam said the man was all in black and had his hands in his pockets.  She was freaked.

He was speaking a strange mix of English and Spanish, but I caught the word “package” amongst a few others and quickly put it all together.  I bet this man has my package, I thought!  I told Sam to move aside and I creaked open the door and asked “what do you want?”

From what I gathered, the FedEx people had come earlier on Friday and 1.) either wouldn’t stop pounding on the door so this man took my package to stop them OR 2.) They had knocked on my neighbor’s door and dropped the package off there instead just to get rid of it.

I saw him move into his apartment so I went out and stood directly in front of my door.  He came back with a package!  I asked if it had a name on it, took it from his hands and to my delight, saw my name staring back at me!  I thanked him over and over again, delighted that he had gotten my package…and also significantly freaked out that he had pounded on my door at 3 AM. Apparently he had been working the late shift and had just gotten home. But he was a nice guy. Totally harmless.  Trying to do a good deed.  In fact, it would be nice to be able to not have to worry so much about someone being home if your neighbors are willing to take the packages for you.

Since my adrenaline was going and I needed a minute to wrap my head around the crazy event that had just taken place, I figured I may as well open my package:)

I didn’t much care for the hassle everyone had to go through for this package, but it was definitely worth the wait.  Mac and Cheese, cereal, trail mix, pop tarts, soup, candy candy and more candy, girl scout cookies, jewelery, St. Patrick’s Day Socks, a card, gift cards, this package had it all!  It was wonderful:)

And that, dear readers, is the tale of the Valentine’s Day package.  I finally received it at 3 AM, today, March 1, and am now enjoying all of its contents.

So thanks to all of the mailing services for still being stupid. And thanks to Beano for freaking us out, but doing a good deed and safely storing my package for a few hours.  And thank you to my awesome parents for sending me yet another wonderful care package, made even more wonderful by all of the trouble they went through to send it.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day:) xoxoxo ❤

#11Buzzfeed and YouTube

buzzfeed

The technological world we live in now completely fascinates me.  The internet and all of the cool items that have spawned from it have come quite a long way in just a short amount of time.  And although I am nowhere near a technological genius, I feel like my relationship with that of technology is a fairly healthy one.  I have a computer which is the item I use primarily.  I don’t really like doing things, particularly typing, on anything else.  I also am not a fan of mobile websites.  I’m the weirdo who wants the desktop version all the time.  I also have a Galaxy Tablet, which I use for more nerdy and more organizational things.  My lists, my resolutions and every app I have found appealing is on there. Cooking apps, how to learn different languages, Green Bay Packers app etc.  I even have a few books on there, although, again, I’m stubborn and like the good old fashioned original. And this past May, I finally caved and got a smartphone too. Definitely a good idea being in a completely new and gigantic city.  I have the traditional social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as of November, WordPress as of a couple of weeks ago and I’d like to think I use them a pretty good amount, not really ever overkill.  I have apps on my tablet, but the ones on my phone are nothing exciting.  I’m not much big into the games craze, Angry Birds and whatnot.  Yes, I’d say I’m handling the technology craze pretty well and not getting sucked in too much. Well. Except perhaps for two things. Buzzfeed. And Youtube.

Yes my technology loving friends, today (February 28) we are here to discuss what I like to call “The Vicious Cycles of Buzzfeed and YouTube.”  But never fear, this is not a negative post.  Because even though you do get sucked in and spend hours looking at sometimes pointless stuff, you can’t deny that the things you find on these two sites are pretty wonderful.

Today was Parent/Teacher conference day at the kid’s school and, apparently in New York, the teachers schedule them all day, which results in the kids not having school at all.  So I was with the kids all the live long day. By the time I got home, although it was well worth the money, I was dead tired.  Well not actually, physically “I could go to sleep tired.”  My brain was just deciding not to function at the moment.  So, naturally, I threw my stuff on my bed, pulled out my computer and sat next to Sam on the couch.  I did the usual, check Facebook, check Gmail, you know the drill. I leaned back on the couch, trying to figure out my plans for the rest of the evening and debating which photo to post on Twitter for the 100 happy days challenge.

Sam had since clicked on a YouTube link that caught my attention.  It was a 15 minute compilation of actor Tom Hiddleston’s funny moments; Movie bloopers, funny interviews, dancing, crashing ComicCon in costume.  It was brilliant.  And although there were several happy moments in my day to choose from, I knew in that instant, watching this brilliant and beautiful man shaking his hips to Shakira, that this was going to be the focus of my post for the day. (check out my Twitter for the link)

Why, you may ask, would you dedicate an entire post to YouTube?  Well, because of what I just said above.  There’s a video of Tom Hiddleston shaking his hips to Shakira!!!  Come on! How amazing is it that we can find any and all sorts of things, crazy and useful, on this media based site!   Music, karaoke tracks, movie bloopers, movies themselves, interviews, tutorials, it’s like a fricken online treasure hunt!  You can even upload your own stuff on there.  Amazing!

However, as good as YouTube is, it’s also kind of evil.  And you know exactly what I’m talking about. The dreaded sidebar on the right hand side.  The “suggested videos” strip.  Exhibit A: It’s been a long day.  You need something guaranteed to make you happy and you need it now.  You pull up YouTube and type in “Ramin Karimloo, 25th Anniversary Phantom of the Opera” and watch this wonderful man sing his heart out and basically make your body shiver with delight.  And then you look to the right. “Ramin Karimloo in Les Mis?!  What’s this?”  You click. You watch. You enjoy. You look to the right.  “Oh my gosh, the 10th Anniversary full recording of the Les Miserables concert? That’s my favorite!” You click. You watch. You enjoy. “Wait, Ramin does a duet with Colm Wilkenson.  My life is complete!” You click. You watch. You enjoy. “Wait. It’s 4 AM? WTF?! Shit…”

VICIOUS. CYCLE. OF. YOUTUBE. And you have ALL been there do NOT even deny it.  It’s evil!!! It’s just waiting to cause trouble and lure you in with things that make you happy. YouTube knows that you clearly like this actor.  If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be there looking him up in the first place.  Why are suggesting more things to me that are related to him when you know I have no self control?!  I think my favorite though, is when it throws in one or two random videos that have nothing to do with your original search.  But they’re usually good.  Or they’re totally weird and you’re intrigued. So you click on them and, as they’re unrelated, the sidebar changes completely and then you’re off again in a whole new cycle.  You are cruel YouTube.  And yet, oh so wonderful.

And no. That is not a true story.  That hasn’t happened to me on more than one occasion. Ever. Especially not anything involving Ramin. (Who is a God, by the way, so check him out.)

My YouTube cycle with Sam tonight was not bad.  But it got ugly when one of us pulled up Buzzfeed.  I mean, like really bad.

I know there are all sorts of “Buzzfeeds” out there, but I find this particular site to be my favorite.  I love the categories.  Some are serious.  Some are just updates on any and all current events. Some, and most of the ones I click on, are there for a laugh.  I think the lists are my favorite.  And that’s a pretty generic thing to like because there are any and all kinds of lists.  But I just find them so great.  Funny, interesting and sometimes freakishly spot on.  “17 ways to be insanely productive.” “35 parents who are nailing this parenting thing.” “The best AutoCorrects of all time.”  And still to this day one of my personal favorites, “12 Things Disney Forgot to Answer about Beauty and the Beast.”  I have no idea why.  I love the movie.  I would never diss it.  But this cracks me up every time.  And it’s kind of legit. Take a look.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/donnad/questions-disney-forgot-to-answer-about-beauty-and-the-be

However, and I did not see this coming, what has now become almost a nightly tradition between Sam and myself are the damn Buzzfeed quizzes.  For a while now, I’ve been seeing people post these fricken things like MAD on Facebook.  And I’d see their results and take a quiz if I’d liked it, but it was only if I were really bored or really intrigued by the quiz.  Well when you go on the actual Buzzfeed site, obviously there are more quizzes in front of you.  And when you click on one, golly gee, that damn sidebar comes up again.  “You’re taking quizzes.  So I must show you more quizzes that you are going to like. Muhahaha! I got you now, sucker!”  And when there are two of you taking different quizzes, it’s double trouble!  “Sam is taking one about which biblical character she is, well now I want to take that one!  But after I finish figuring out which Fandom Universe I truly belong in.”

I am not kidding, tonight was bad.  We spent hours taking these pointless, ridiculous, stupid quizzes.  But you know what, we were completely aware of how silly it was and it didn’t matter.  Because it’s okay to have these kind of nights.  Yes, sometimes you go a little overboard.  And no, of course you don’t need to take the quizzes.  Do I need to know which celebrity I would party with?  Do I need to know how I would die in Game of Thrones?  Do I need to know if I would survive The Hunger Games?  Of course not.  Do I want to know? Of course I want to know!!!  I wouldn’t have clicked on it if I didn’t want to and neither would any of you.  It’s fun!  It’s exciting!  And we all know that when you get one that’s spot on in description or at least a character you like, your nerdy self that made you click on these things in the first place gets all giddy and happy inside.  And then because you’re happy, you take another. And another. And another. VICIOUS (wonderful). CYCLE. OF. BUZZFEED.

Of course, if you don’t get an answer you like, sometimes you roll with it.  Laugh it off.  Insist that it was a bull shit, stupid quiz.  Or because you can’t accept the fact that you would die getting shoved through the damn moon door at the Eerie you go back and retake it, tell yourself you’re answering more honestly instead of just totally changing your answers, and are sickly satisfied when you get that you would would die being beheaded instead. Again. Not a true story. And that’s the Game of Thrones quiz for those of you who are wide eyed and confused.

I hope you’re reading this and laughing as much as I am while writing it. It’s been a grand post to write. Because I am pretty sure that every one of you has had one of these website binges.  You get sucked into things that entertain you, time flies and you feel like you wasted an evening or a morning or whatever.  And maybe you did.  Maybe you put off your research paper.  Maybe you could have been more productive.  Or, maybe this was exactly what you needed.  In my case, it was definitely a stress reliever.  A different, ridiculous and weird stress reliever, but one at that.  And I got to do it with my roommate which just made it even more fun.   I’m not saying make a habit out of this or get totally addicted.  I mean really, if you put off writing a research paper that’s due tomorrow for a Buzzfeed quiz, that’s probably not good.  But every once and a while, I think we are all allowed a little indulgence from time to time no matter how incredibly ridiculous it may be.  Hey, if it makes you happy…;)

So don’t feel bad my friends.  We have all been there.  And we will all continue to go there because these little things are sometimes what get us through the day.  You never know what you’ll find on these websites, but you just might find some pretty cool buried treasure.

Ok, I’m done now right…? Because this “Which Gilmore Girls Guy is Your Soulmate” quiz has been staring me down this entire post and I can’t wait any longer…

#10 My Grandparents

gg

Hello blog friends!

I have officially completed 10% of this challenge!  I won’t lie, it feels like it’s been a lot longer.  Oh the photo thing is easy.  Piece of cake.  And I love writing these posts, but that takes a little bit more out of me than just snapping a photo and writing some lame little description.  But, even though these next few posts are extremely late, I am pressing on with this blog thing.  It is exhausting and makes me have flashbacks to writing research papers in college, but it’s fun to reflect and describe in detail the things in my life that make me happy.  And I know when it’s done, I am going to be very glad that I did this.

For my #10, I wanted it to be a special post.  And lucky for me today (February 27) I called my grandparents and chatted with them for over an hour.  Unfortunately, this is also the reason all of these next posts are so delayed.  How do I write a post about these two wonderful people I have been blessed to know so well and see so frequently for 25 years?  How do I include all of the great memories and convey how amazing they are to you readers, while not making you want to tear your hair out because you’re reading a novel length post?

I haven’t found an answer.  I just know I have to write.  It’s probably going to be choppy and in no way capture the true astounding essence of my grandparents.  But, you’ve been warned. Perhaps to make this blog more entertaining for yourselves, you could make a drinking game out of it; take a shot every time I say something cheesy like “I’m so lucky” or “I’m so blessed.”  No I’m not kidding. I would be delighted if you did as such. It’s going to be a sentimental post. So. Do what you need to to get through it, those of you who enjoy my random banter instead of my heartfelt writing.  Off we go then…

Joan and Gordan Singer are my mother’s parents.  They have always lived close to both my mother and her brother.  We all currently reside within a 10/15 minute drive of each other.  And it is kind of like what you see in the movies or TV shows depicting small town/Midwest life.  We do drop by unannounced with goodies or just to chat. And I think that is super special.  I am blessed to have to my mother’s entire side of her family so close to me. (shot. heh. This is going to be fun)

I have no shortage of amazing memories with my grandparents.  I know that I’ll write too much and I know that when I’m done and post this, I’ll remember 50 other stories and convince myself I didn’t do them justice. But we’ll start when I was little and work my way up to now. Or try to at least.

Fun fact not many of you may know, my Grandmother was my kindergarten teacher when I lived in Milwaukee.  And actually, the only teacher who I ever got into actual trouble with!  It was a winter day and of course being little kids, we were throwing snow at each other.  One of my snowballs had ice in it.  I didn’t know it at the time, so I threw it at some kid, made him cry. And then after I got yelled at, I think I did it again. Oops.  As punishment, I had to go sit in my grandmother’s classroom in the dark during the rest of recess.  I cried. And I got a “pink slip.” DUN DUN DUN!!!  Yup. The only time my parents have been notified of their child misbehaving.  5 year old Kaitlin with her Grandmother as her teacher. Awesome.

Because my Grandma was a teacher, she was never lacking in creative activities for us to do.  She always had fun games.  She always had great, educational books.   She took us to movies, we helped her in the kitchen, and I have no idea how many boxes of crayons we went through drawing her photos.

I think when all of the kids think of Grandpa, the first thing that comes to mind are all the amazing stories he tells.  Grandma has them too of course.  Both of them are fantastic at narrating their lives and sharing them with us.  You could listen to them for hours.  But Grandpa.  He was a troublemaker when he was little.  Heck, well into his college and young adult years.  And I mean like the good ole fashioned kind of troublemaker.  Nothing that would ever hurt anyone, just wonderful, hysterical, classic pranks.  Which he of course passed onto other members of my family.

Going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house was never a chore like perhaps it was to some of you.  There were never groans of discontent, only shrieks of joy. It was an adventure! And throw in my cousins and we had the time of our lives.  We ran around and played outside.  Knights and Princess. Pirates. Indians.  We did it all.  My Grandparents had this little travel sized keyboard that just blew our minds and we played on that constantly.  I can’t count the number of times our families sat through one of our brilliant concerts. My Grandparents had this huge, stuffed, black bear I believe we so creatively dubbed “Blackey” that acted as a pillow, as well as a toy, for years.  It’s funny to see Blackey now.  He’s not so big now that we’re big:( It’s sad.

Along with numerous toys, my Grandparents had a number of other trinkets that they’re known for among us kids.  My Grandmother has these two beautiful blue birds  made of glass that I now posses.  She also collected these blue and white plates with the year on them.  And spoons from her travels.  Being Swedish, she also has some beautiful decor from Switzerland as well.  And my grandfather, though he no longer has it, used to smoke a pipe and blow rings from it.  For a little kid, that was fricken sweet!

Grandpa also has four other memorable things to us kids. A pool table/ping pong. A gigantic, awesome train set. The biggest collection of hats you will ever see.  And a drum set.  He also used to have this really old in-home bowling alley thing.  I have no other way to describe it.  But it was awesome. All of these things were played on and with constantly.  God bless my Grandparents for putting up with the noise and racket we hellions caused. My cousin’s kids are now pretty skilled on the drums themselves. That’s right, he still has them.  How cool is that?!  And how did we play with Grandpa’s hats, you may ask?  Well, he had them all set up in the back of the basement on standing hat racks.  They created a wonderful maze, excellent for hiding and scaring people…:)  See. Troublemaker gene.

All of my family are lucky in the fact that we are all able to travel a lot.  My Aunt and Uncle and cousins have been to national parks and the Olympics.  My family took a vacation every year to someplace in the US, everywhere from L.A. to Sedona, Arizona.  And my Grandparents, well, I think they’re running out of places in the world to travel.  They’ve been everywhere!  And, as Grandparents do, each time they would also come back with great gifts for everyone and even better stories and photos.

We were even fortunate enough to take vacations together.  We have, as a family, visited Florida several times.  There are tons of stories there, pertaining more so to my cousins and I causing trouble, and not to my grandparents, so we’ll save those for another time.  But they owned a timeshare down there and it was amazing that we got to go and spend as much time in Florida was we did. One very special year, we all took a Christmas Cruise together.  We were on the Carnival ship The Imagination.  I believe this was Christmas 2000 and we had a marvelous time.  As I said, we see each other a lot, but there’s something really cool about taking a vacation with your whole extended family and absolutely loving it.

My Grandparents also have a cottage about two hours away from where we all live on Tuttle Lake.  That place in itself could fill another book.  It really was a home away from home for everyone.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been up there.  Anytime we had vacation in school, if it wasn’t a major holiday.  Deer hunting weekend.  Countless times during the summer.  Always, always ALWAYS for the Fourth of July. That has to be my favorite time to be up there.   My Grandpa owned a speedboat that I’m surprised is still kicking since we were able to use it so much.  My cousins and I, well, we like to tube, you see.  My mother and uncle used to water ski a lot, and every once and a while will still dabble in it.  We have since purchased the speed boat from them and my Grandparents now have a pontoon boat.  Double boating. Heck yes. We would canoe down the Mecan River.  Go for slow boat rides together after 4:00 PM when it was “no wake” time.  Every night, provided the weather was good, we would have a bon fire, roast marshmallows listen to Grandpa’s stories about The Night Rider, a sort of headless horseman legend up by the cottage.  Truly great times.

But I think, even though it’s totally cliche, my favorite memories with my Grandparents have to be the holidays.  I hope I never ever have to be one of those people who can’t make it home for the holidays.  I know flying home is expensive, but if I am anywhere else or with anyone else, it feels wrong to me.  It hurts me.  And I can’t think of a better way to spend my money than to be home with my family. Times like those are priceless.  My favorites in particular have to of course be Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Thanksgiving has now become a rotating holiday. My family has done the holidays every which way.  We used to consistently do it at my grandparents.  Then we did a Round Robin for a bit.  And now, we kind of just rotate.  “You had it last year, so I’ll do it this year.”  However, if we don’t spend Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s, all is not right with the world. We go over.  We have appetizers.  We go to church, where I usually sing. We come back, eat dinner, open a ton of gifts, drink and have dessert and just have the best time in the world.  As kids, we used to go down to the basement at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, dress up in whatever costumes we could find, and dance around a mini Christmas tree.  We always have to have the big brown trash bag to crumple up wrapping paper and shoot hoops with.  The kids always have their “stockings from Santa.”  It’s magical.

I realize I’ve just been spewing out random events, mostly not really even talking about my Grandparents.  I’ve realized writing this that I am not going to be satisfied with this post.  It’s hard to write about the people you love the most because no matter how descriptive you are or how many amazing stories you tell, the people reading can’t experience what you feel with these people or truly understand the greatness behind all of these memories. Sometimes it even comes off as a contest.  “My family is more cool than yours because we did this and this and you just don’t understand how amazing we all are.”  No.  We all have traditions and stories.  It should never be a contest. So if you’re getting that vibe reading these final paragraphs, that is certainly not my intent.

My Grandparents are so incredibly selfless.  They really did spoil their grand kids.  Vacations, little presents here and there, Grandpa’s constant gift of a giant bag of M&M’s. They are extraordinary human beings.  I am so lucky (shot) that we are as close as we are.  They were always there for me.  They always came to as many activities and events as they could.  They even came out to Lincoln when I was in college to see shows! Whether I knew it or not, growing up, they were constantly educating us.  Telling us stories about their youth, reading to us, letting us help out in the kitchen or help rebuild something or put the boat back in the water. It sounds very simple to say it, but they are good people.  They are so good.  If anyone embraces and is the dictionary definition of that word, it’s them. They love so deeply and care so much about their family.  That’s all they want is to make others, especially their family, happy. And I can’t describe it in a way you readers will understand, especially if you don’t know them, but you can tell it’s there.  And they’re strong and fun and have fight in them.  They are in their 80s and they are kickin!  They love life.  They do things and are members at clubs.  They still keep in touch with their friends from long ago and make a point of seeing them.  They are just the most amazing, wonderful people.

I have 90 posts to go and I know I will face this struggle again, because I’ve got more family members and friends who are like family to talk about, but this so far, has been the hardest post to write.  I can’t capture everything I want to and in my frustration I went and vented to Karlene and she said something I hope is what you will take away from this post.  That “by writing about your family and people that you love, even though you don’t like what you write or can’t describe the feelings you feel, it will remind people of their family. And of their wonderful memories with them. And the feelings they experience each time their with them.”  And hopefully that’s what you’re taking away.  Not some overkill on how “my family is awesome and my gosh I am so lucky and so blessed” (yes that was intentional. Double shot.) I am both of those.  And I do think my family is the coolest most amazing family around. But I am obviously, happily biased. And rather than writing more stories that you’ll kind of get and identify with, I hope instead, you will read this and it will remind you that you too are lucky. And that you have a wonderful, loving family as well.  And if you don’t and you can work on that, that you do.  And if it’s not a fixable or happy situation, that you are surrounded by people who do fill that ‘family’ void. Because family or those who make you feel like you a part of family is truly the most special, meaningful thing in the entire world.

I am writing this with tears in my eyes because I hope my Grandparents know how much they mean to me and how lucky I am to be their granddaughter. It was frustrating but wonderful to write this blog.  Because even though it may not have reached everyone, it made me reflect on so many wonderful times and just made my heart swell. And unless I sat down and planned and detailed for years, no blog post, book, mini series or film could capture the years of wonderful memories they have given me and how special they are to me.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for being the best Grandparents in the world. I love you both.

…I am so lucky and blessed…;) hehehe.  Just one last one for good measure. But really. I am. Thanks for reading. Now go tell the people you love that you love them. Seriously. Go. Now. Why wait? Thats dumb. Spread the love<3

xoxoxoxoxo