College is a Lot Like Laser Tag…

…And other graduation speeches I won’t write.

Last night a group of friends decided to race to the nearest Laser Tag arena after work. Unfortunately, most of us had work, so we managed to only get there an hour before closing. I’m sure the workers were more than delighted to see nine very loud and foul-mouthed college students come pouring in the door just to catch the last session.

I’d thrown out the suggestion that we go play sometime at the beginning of the summer, and found myself incredibly nervous to actually play. I’d only gone once (a birthday party where I believe I was the only girl) and the combination of not-knowing, imminent possible physical activity and tiny children was a sure-fire way to get my anxiety going. 

Needless to say, we got our collective asses handed to us by a group of kids and their parents, who seemed to take even more delight in just following us around constantly tagging our vests while their kids ran into home base. You know the arrogance of a child that knows they’re truly good at something? Like they aren’t being pandered to by adults or let win? There were approximately 800 of them there and they were all running and yelling in the dark while fog machines went off and ALSO there were lasers.

It was when I was leaning against a wall, four tiny kids constantly shooting at me with their later guns, laughing hysterically as I heard my friends yelling things like ‘HAVE WE STARTED?” and “I DON’T KNOW HOW THE LAZER WORKS” that I realized something. Lazer Tag is a lot like college.

At the beginning, you’re funneled into a dark room with a assorted group of people you don’t know, told to get somewhere, given vague rules and sent on the way. You enter into a confusing maze of walls, and don’t get a starting bell. On our team was a mom who had to tell us that the game had started, right as three of us got tagged immediately. There’s also the imminent fear that you’re doing nothing right (we weren’t) and there’s no real point to it (there wasn’t) but it was extremely important to us suddenly to win (we lost both games). To add to the metaphor, people younger than us seemed way more qualified to be playing and knew way more about the game than we did (in my convoluted metaphors, these are high-schoolers). The parents are bored alumni who sometimes helped us out but mostly seemed to have fun watching us mess up. There was also a employee who would intermittenly  wander through and offer advice to me that mostly constituted of ‘gotta say out of the lasers’ and ‘listen to the team leader’. The team leader, in our case, was a small child nick-named Panda who enjoyed screaming incomprehensible  numbers at me regardless of whether I was firing, moving, or standing still. I’m not sure where he figures into the narrative of college, but I’m sure he’s there. 

On the other hand, it was incredibly fun. Sure we lost, but it was incredibly worth it – and I’m not embarrassed to admit it. Those kids were ruthless, and earned their victory. It’s always fun to do new things, especially because I don’t know the next time I’m going to just be able to run into a laser tag arena. When we left, all of us were doubled over in stitches remembering highlights from the adventure.

It was great getting out of the comfort zone and doing something a little silly, a little embarrassing, and yes, childish. But that’s what being an adult is about! I can choose when and where to play laser tag, whenever I want to. Oh, and also I can drink. So I do win in the end.

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A Quest’s End.

Hold onto your seats, because it’s about to be a nerd-fest up in here.

This past Sunday I said goodbye to a world that I’d been creating for nearly four months. After a brutal 6 hours of playing, my dungeons and dragons team solved the mystery, saved the world, and got the girl. Or grumpy, four-armed mechanical dwarf, as it were.

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My amazing friend created these moodboards for various characters of the campaign.

It’s always a little embarrassing for me to tell people that I play DnD. Probably left-over survival instincts from high school, where anything that I deemed as nerdy (which were most things I enjoyed) needed to be hidden as much as possible. I’ve gotten better about embracing things I used to cringe about talking openly, but it’s still a hard time for me to admit that I really enjoy reading fan-theories, or fiction, or that I like to pretend for three hours on Friday nights that I’m an elvish fighter who is on a quest to avenge her dead husband.

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My first character – Bonameah Larkspur. 

For the summer, I asked if I could lead the DnD group. Most of the original members would be around my apartment, and it seemed easy to make up a short campaign that would fit into two or three months. It didn’t have the same amount of stress that a longer semester campaign would, and I was eager to see what it would be like to lead and craft the story, as opposed to simply participating in it. By that point, I’d only been playing for around two months, but I’d gotten the bug. As I try to explain to my friends who don’t play (and who listen to me natter on with an air of gracious bemusement), that you have to actually play to understand why people like DnD so much. It’s everything I love – story-telling, acting, hanging out with friends. It’s not a surprise by the second session I was sucking it up and admitting to the DM ( a close friend of mine who was kind enough to run the first part) that yes, I got it. DnD was super – freaking – fun. Only I didn’t use freaking.

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Prince Boo – a particular favorite NPC of mine…

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…And Daphne of Barns.

Planning a campaign was infinitely different from only playing. I had to create a satisfying story, enough mystery to keep them engaged and thinking, and also run and remember a whole host of different characters – each with their own voices. I admit, I did eventually get tired and nearly every other NPC was just vaguely serene-toned. It was super fun getting to create the world – and incredibly nerve-wracking every time I DM’ed, hoping that the party was having a good time and trying to split my attention evenly between players. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was incredibly nervous for the final chapter. I wanted everyone who’d been kind enough to play with me (and suffer through my bumbling on stats) to leave feeling like they’d heard a good story and it was worth their time. In that way, DnD’s a lot like writing. The only thing you can do is hope people like it.

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Philomena Burke – the party’s resident Sharpshooter.

As we wrapped up, I was hit by a sense of melancholy. It would be the last time that we played in that particular sandbox – although plans are already being made for the next story and characters. Still, saying goodbye to my NPC’s was surprisingly hard. As their creator, it sucks that I won’t get to talk or interact as them anymore. In a weird way, it was like saying goodbye to friends who have been with the group for nearly two months.

Or maybe I’m just being a giant nerd about it. It’s odd how DnD can draw you in. But then again, humans have always loved telling stories.

Also – I owe a huge thank you to my friend Allegra, who helped guide me through the process and also created the amazing sets of photos in this post. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to DM. I’d be surprised if I did it again, but it was a treat to create an interactive story and try to keep things interesting. Luckily, I have a wonderful party and their support and kindness were integral as we journey into the world I’d built together. I think over the process I’ve grown as a collaborator and a storyteller. It’s definitely opened up news ways and opportunities than I had before playing DnD, and honestly y’all? DnD is the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done, and I love it to pieces. I’m so excited to start playing again and seeing where the next story takes me.

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‘Chella, The Most L.A Thing I’ve Ever Done.

 

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It seems to be the cardinal rule: If thou goes to Coachella, thou must post about it. Well, I definitely went, so here’s my post. Mark this weekend down as the most L.A thing I’ve done since…oh, I don’t know. Maybe the last time I had a small internal temper tantrum over not having an avocado?

Around four months ago I received a message in all caps from my best friend – DO YOU WANT TO GO TO COACHELLA, BEYONCE WILL BE THERE. And obviously I responded yes, but I never actually thought it would happen. Coachella always seemed like the epitome of everything I dislike – extended amounts of time in the sun, dust, large amounts of strangers, and loud noises.

“Then why are you going?” Was pretty much every response when I told friends my apprehensions. For a complicated variety of reasons. I’d just turned twenty one, I was feeling stressed about not living My Youth, fears over looking back at college and regretting something, anything. Also; Beyonce was going to be there.

 

We arrived back yesterday at two in the morning, extremely dirty, ears ringing, exhausted and buzzing. Coachella was definitely an experience – I understand why people either love it or hate it. With the exception of camping (waking up in the 100 degree sun trapped in a plastic sweat lodge was not my idea of fun), I loved it. The energy, the music, the weird fashion choices. And boy, there were a lot of weird fashion choices – we saw a lot of buckle-on fringe skirts, one dude dressed like a unicorn sans pants and glitter everywhere. The people watching alone was worth it.

That being said, it was truly special, in a ridiculous way. Getting to listen to so much music, and being around people who you love. Even dancing at two-thirty in the blazing hot sun doesn’t seem bad when you’re laughing at your friends dumb jokes. Maybe that’s not what I was supposed to take away from Coachella (probably something about art, or how dumb people are during music festivals), but I’m always going to remember dancing like an idiot to Lorde, which is all I can ask at the end of the day.

Sorry for rambling on like this – honestly, my memories and thoughts were so scattered during this last weekend that it’s hard to form a cohesive whole. If you have the chance though, I’d definitely recommend. Or maybe just take a boombox into your backyard and bake in the sun for three hours on shrooms. It’s pretty much the same effect.

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Sometimes Good Things Happen in Fives

I actually can’t believe February is over. Man, this month flew by fast. Every weekend I had something going on – and I’m not complaining!! It was wonderful being able to see friends and family alike, but I am also missing another loved one. My bed. We started off the month with my Mom’s birthday (looking better than ever Mom! XX).

The weather was absolutely beautiful for my parent's - the sunsets even more so.

The weather was absolutely beautiful for my parents – the sunsets even more so.

Then it was time for my own birthday celebrations (fast approaching the end of my teen years – which is a terrifying and cool thought). My lovely friends threw me a surprise party. Which made up for being thrown into a pond in the middle of the night. (Traditions are weird, and very chilly). IMG_1979

Love to all my gorgeous friends!

Love to all my gorgeous friends!

Next up was parent’s weekend!! My parents still reside in HK, so it was absolutely the greatest birthday present to see them during parent’s weekend. We celebrated by touring all the campus (my poor feet) and showing them what life is like for me in college. I was also lucky enough to have two of my best friends visit me. The first popped down from UChicago to perform in a Raas dance competition. If you haven’t heard of Raas, you should absolutely go check it out. I was just in awe watching the incredibly difficult looking moves and the beautiful (and glitzy!) costumes. So. Much. Glitter. Click the video for a small snippet of their performance. They came third but in my opinion should have won. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qUAwy4X6P0&feature=youtu.be Performed in the MOST AMAZING play, Blue Heart Beats. It was such a privilege to be a part of an incredible play and cast. Working with such talented people was definitely intimidating, but inspiring beyond belief. The playwright is currently workshopping it and I am so excited to see it being performed all over the states. It’s an incredibly powerful piece that deserves to be seen.

Unfortunately the weather was gross - but we made the best of it :)

Unfortunately the weather was gross – but we made the best of it 🙂

Finally, my best friend made the trip down to come see me! We spent the weekend together, which resulted in a lot of laughter and memories. We were also lucky enough to go see Hannibal Burress. He’s on one of my favorite shows, Broad City, so I was super pumped to see him live. The act right before him definitely was hard to stomach, but Hannibal was incredibly funny. I’m looking forward to his next album of porcupine songs. I am so glad that she came down to visit, and am looking forward to heading up to her own college. I literally can’t think of a better way to wrap up a perfect month. IMG_1917Whew. Looking back definitely illuminates why I’m feeling so tired (there may be a weekend in soon). However I wouldn’t change it for the world! Seeing so many loved ones and being able to make such incredible memories was worth every yawn I tried to stifle in class today. March is also shaping up to be a crazy month, with Mid-Terms and spring break right around the corner! Much love to everyone who I was able to see and those I wasn’t. IMG_1959

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