Ireland pt. 2 – Still Rainy and Beautiful, Now with more cows.

Now that schools started up again (and I’ve been hit smack in the face with deadlines and grad school and thesis) I’m taking a journey down memory lane…

Here are some of my favorite photos from our last journey to Ireland.

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This was my third time back there and I have to say, I fall in love with it more every time. Here’s hoping I get to go back soon, but for now these photos will just have to do…

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XOXO

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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.

XX

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.

XX.

 

SUMMER SO FAR

Lipstick pressed onto the rim of a glass,

the crackle of the record player, the first sip of lemonade,

two cups of tea in the morning, allowing myself time to exhale,

crying on the interstate,  folding papers, sifting through old letters of a woman i will

never know,

the last line from books you aren’t sure you enjoyed,

a kettle without water, the first lines of a movie,

salt water, blueberry, sand slipping beneath your feet,

sunlight as you tip your face towards the sky.

 

Sign of the Times

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These are the carrots I grew! They came out super messed up and weird looking and I couldn’t be more proud of them. What a metaphor for the year.

It’s cheesy to start a blog post about Junior year by talking about a song, but sometimes you need a little cheese. French cheese if you can swing it, but since my accent is terrible I’ll just give you some craft slices…

Two days ago I packed up my room, said goodbye to my friends and hit the gas pedal, driving as far away from Junior year as I could get (only a 40 minute drive, but the poetry sounds good). Then I slept for fourteen hours. Then I did nothing but watch SNL videos on youtube. Now I’m looking over the last year and contemplating, as I always wind up doing, successes and failures and all that junk. I’d like to think I’m a Chill Individual, but at my hearts of hearts, there’s a very anxious perfectionist shrouded under layers of procrastination. So. That’s fun.

Harry Style’s released a song a bit ago called Sign of the Times. It’s a throw back tune with a lot of elements of 70’s rock in it. Now, maybe I don’t understand the lyrics that well, but to me, it’s a sad, bittersweet song about letting go of something. There’s a lot of very angsty lines but ultimately, it may have become the soundtrack to my last few days of junior year. The night before finals ended I put it on repeat and just walked around.

There’s a lot I’m proud of this year. I directed my first show. I got cast as a lead in a musical. I finished a five class workload. I learned how to grow bell peppers. I’ve made amazing friends and had some pretty fun nights (possibly to the detriment of that five-class work load).

Mostly though, I’ve gotten a little better at loving myself. It’s hard to let go of the mistakes I make, and while I was wandering around campus listening to ‘just stop your crying have the time of your life, breaking through the atmosphere, things are pretty good down here’ I realized, once again, how unbelievably lucky I am. I did a lot this year that was good and bad and everywhere in the middle. Looking back though, it’s just one more chapter of my ongoing life. I’m going to look back on this year and not remember the stress or panic I felt near constantly, but snapshots of the good times. Laughing with my friends, dancing like an idiot to Earth, Wind and Fire, playing DnD for the first time. It’s been a whirlwind of a year.

I’m working on living life in the moment instead of constantly worrying about what’s coming next. I’m trying to forgive myself a little more. It’s been a rough journey so far, but junior year was so valuable to me for giving me some of the best friends and memories a girl can ask for.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blog. I appreciate everyone of you. Do yourself a favor and give Harry Styles’s new album a chance. I’m going to put it on blast and enjoy being young – after all, it only comes around once.

(Or at least until we invent transferring human consciousness, but that’s a completely different blog post entirely)

Have an excellent summer – see you soon.

XOXO