117. Visit My Sisters in Boston

When I first graduated, most of my friends still lived in the Rochester area. Now that it’s been a few years, my friends have scattered themselves all over the country. A few of my sorority sisters, including my best friend Ariel, are currently living in Boston. I love the city of Boston and I hadn’t seen Ariel in nearly two years, so I was really excited when Jackie, Ariel, and I started planning this trip in December!

Ariel and I five years ago.

Ariel and I five years ago.

The Good?

Fajitas and ‘Ritas! Fajitas and ‘Ritas is a Tex-Mex restaurant in Boston that specializes in fajitas and margaritas. Ariel, Jackie, and I met my friend Sam there and had a very filling lunch that started in typical us-fashion by spilling half a pitcher of margarita all over our table. Next time I go to Boston, I’m definitely parking my butt there for a few hours.

This is why we can't have nice things.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Going Out I don’t really go out much in Reading. I like staying home and hanging out with my best friend aka my free-loader roommate aka my dog. Ariel and Jackie are on the same page as me, but we planned one staying in night and one going out night. We had so much fun on our going out night AND Ariel had an Uber coupon so we basically got home for free. I really liked the place we went (I unfortunately cannot remember the name), mostly because I was with my friends, it wasn’t too crowded, and they were playing good music.

Freezing our butts off at the bus stop!

Freezing our butts off at the bus stop!

Sunday Brunch On Sunday morning, we found ourselves sitting in the living room debating between going to a diner or driving a little further to this farm with a restaurant on it. We chose the farm-restaurant. The restaurant itself was tiny and there was a long wait, but it was SO worth it! I was going to get my usual (eggs benedict) but then saw that they had lobster eggs benedict. When in Rome Boston!

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

Reunited and it feels so goooodJust being in the same place at the same time was enough for me! I’ve noticed that whenever I’m on adventures with my sorority sisters, we manage to turn wherever we’re staying into a mini-version of our sorority house. Ariel’s apartment was no different. With our arrival, there was suddenly an abundance of monogrammed shirts, purple everything, Disney princess cups, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and clothes everywhere. Some of my favorite moments of the trip were just sitting around talking.

IMG_3813

The Not-So-Good?

Craft Show Ariel purchased tickets to this major craft show for us to go to over the weekend. It was actually a lot smaller than we expected it to be and everything that was there was SUPER expensive – furniture, glass sculptures, other stuff we could never dream of affording or creating ourselves. Probably the only reason we somewhat enjoyed it was that we went straight there from Fajitas and ‘Ritas.

We didn’t see our other sisters. Plans fell through with the two other sisters we were supposed to see that weekend. I actually haven’t seen Laurel and Kadley since I graduated, so that was kind of crummy. It didn’t help that our “plans” consisted of “let’s text each other later” which is literally my least favorite way to make plans. Luckily our sorority’s big twenty year celebration is next year, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing them (and everybody else) next spring.

Sebbie’s “special treat”. Ariel has a GIANT dog named Sebastian. He is unaware that he is giant and will try to sit in your lap. He is especially a fan of looking you in the eye, meaning he puts his paws on your shoulders and gives you a good stare down. The first night we were there, Ariel, Jackie, and I went to the store to get some things to make dinner. Jackie and I both are dog owners, so we took the normal precautions – zip everything or put it where the dog can’t get it. Apparently Sebbie knows how to use a zipper and we came home to find tampons EVERYWHERE. Hope those tasted good, Seb!

I can't imagine that they tasted very good.

I can’t imagine that they tasted very good.

 

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and MUCH too short! Jackie is coming down for the Lilly Pulitzer warehouse sale in June and I think both Ariel and Jackie are going to come down once I’m in my new apartment. Here’s hoping my sisters and friends continue moving cool places so I can do some more traveling!

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119. Meet all the Littles I Haven’t Met Yet

I write about my sorority occasionally every single chance I get. Clearly I enjoyed my experience. A lot of people that aren’t involved in Greek Life question how a fraternity or sorority differs from any group of friends. There are a lot of ways that the Greek experience is different, but few of them are tangible. There’s really no way to explain exactly what is brotherhood or sisterhood. One thing that’s NOT standard in most friend groups is the idea of Bigs and Littles. And like plenty of sorority women, I think that my big is the smartest human being on the face of the planet and that my little is perfect.

Look at that perfection right there!

Look at that perfection right there!

Thanks to the ever-continuing tradition of Bigs and Littles, I now have a sizable family tree. My aging, post-grad brain can’t handle learning the name of every single new member, but I always get excited for a new addition to the family line. I would love to be able to meet all of them as they are welcomed to the family, but, you know, post-grad problems, I have a job and stuff. The next thing I knew, I had multiple generations of littles down the chain that I hadn’t met yet!

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

In March, I made it back to Rochester for the first time in ages and was able to meet all of the littles during multiple events throughout the weekend. I felt crazy old…I’m a big to the 5th! (And yes, I just had to count down the chain on my fingers.)

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

RML!

RML!

I hope to see more of my littles (all the littles) throughout this project and include them on some of my goals!

Junior League

I leave for my big Joplin trip tomorrow, so I figure I’ll just keep going with this week’s theme of volunteering!

Before I joined the Junior League, I had several different “pictures” of it in my mind. The first image that came to mind was a bunch of rich old ladies that wanted to do something good with all of their time and money. Next, I imagined a bunch of bored, rich, housewives…that view may have had something to do with “The Help“. So when somebody recommended that I join Junior League as a way to make friends, I was completely baffled! I didn’t think that I was old enough to join Junior League. But I decided to give it a try – at the very least, I thought I could maybe get some babysitting jobs out of it.

At my first meeting, I quickly learned that Junior League was NOTHING like I imagined. Yes, there were some rather well-off older women and some stay-at-home moms, but there were also working moms and single moms and unmarried professional women and recent college grads. Even though everybody had joined Junior League for different reasons, everybody supported our Junior League’s mission of helping kids in the Reading school district.

Similar to a sorority, my first year in Junior League I was considered a new member. We were welcome at the general meetings but also had our own new member meetings and planned a new member project. The ultimate goal of your new member year is to become familiar with ALL aspects of Junior League so that you can easily serve on a committee your next year.

I’m currently in my first active year and I am on the New Member Committee, so I am still attending all of the new member meetings and teaching the new members about Junior League. Each year you get “placed” with a different committee and while we don’t find out our placements until May, I’ve had a few people ask if I would be interested in a certain position, so I have a feeling where I’ll be heading next year!

Unfortunately with my work schedule, I haven’t been able to GO to every volunteer opportunity, but I try to help out behind the scenes. Last month I was able to spend most of my Saturday volunteering at Junior League’s Young Women’s Summit. Each year, the Junior League invites teenage girls from the Reading school district to come together for a weekend to learn leadership skills and discuss how they can improve their community. It was really fun to go an interact with the girls, but my favorite part was chatting with a former attendee that is now going to college and doing all sorts of awesome things. She came back to speak to the girls about her experiences prior to and during the summit. It was really emotional but at the end of her presentation, all of the current attendees told her how brave she was and that they looked up to her and admired her because she had worked hard, despite everything else going on in her life.

Joining Junior League has not only allowed me to meet people, but it has been an awesome way to get to know Reading and the surrounding areas. I’m excited to see what comes next!

Volunteering

This was originally going to be part of my “Manic Monday” post, but as I started writing, I realized it was easily turning into it’s own post! Volunteering is something that helps me get involved in my new communities as I move, so I’m more than happy to write an entire post on it!

The first time I can remember volunteering was when I was maybe nine or ten. I was with my Girl Scout troop and we were helping to pack boxes at the local food bank. I knew the boxes were going to “poor people” but I didn’t think they were in my own town. One of the girls from the troop wound up sneaking a peak at the list of families getting these packages and all of the sudden she blurted out, “C—, why is your family on this list?!” We were all so stunned! I remember being appalled by the one girl’s behavior – she was going out of her way to look at a confidential list, which was bad enough, but then to call a “friend” out in front of everybody?? I couldn’t believe it. I was also shocked that a family from our town, let alone a family I knew, needed help. It made me realize that you can’t always “see” when somebody is in need of help.

Through Girl Scouts and various other programs, I frequently volunteered in my community until I graduated high school. My favorite opportunity from Connecticut was to help out at a summer school/day camp for students with special needs. These students ranged anywhere from having really hard to control ADHD all the way to having severe mental disabilities. Several students didn’t speak at all. When I went to college, it was harder to find ways to volunteer. I was living in a brand new community, so I didn’t know WHERE to look for these opportunities. My contributions at that time were limited to helping out with food drives.

My sorority highly values both service and philanthropy. By this point, service was an old hat, but philanthropy was something completely new to me. I was a broke college kid – I had never donated my (non-existent) money to any cause and I had never run any sort of fundraiser. My pledge class and I collected cans to raise money for a local animal shelter and my senior year, I was Mr. RIT chair! I was still able to help out my hometown as well – one of my pledge sisters was from my hometown and shortly before Christmas one year, we held an event at the house to make Christmas cards which we then distributed to nursing home residents at my grandma’s nursing home.

Mr. RIT 2009

When I started at the University of Delaware, I quickly found ways to volunteer. I hosted a “Day of Service” project my first year which gave me one of my favorite UD memories – we ran out of bread for the “PB&J Jam”, so I ran out to buy more. When I returned, it was POURING so I asked some RAs to meet me at the door. The RAs and residents participating in the program actually made a line stretching from my car into the building and passed everything down fireman brigade style. I WISH I had a picture of it. Back then, “Day of Service” was only complex-wide, but it soon became a campus event and now various alumni groups hold their own service events the same day that UD is hosting Day of Service. This year I met up with some alum from Reading to volunteer at an animal shelter.

My favorite organization that I got involved with at UD was the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation. I had heard Andrew’s story years and years prior when I was still going to RIT. My then-boyfriend was from Wilmington and had siblings that had attended school with Andrew. The B+ Foundation’s goal is to raise money for children’s cancer research and to assist families with expenses they are unable to cover. I got to personally meet Joe McDonough twice during my time at UD – the first time he came to speak to my staff as we were racing money for UDance and the second time I invited him to come to speak at Widener University during my internship. My favorite part about working with B+ is that they emphasize that every little bit helps. At Widener, Joe McDonough told the story of how just $400 was able to get a little girl a portable oxygen container so she could fly home and spend her final days at her own house with her family members and dog.  I really hope I get to work with B+ again.

Since moving to Reading, I’ve continued to volunteer in my community and in other parts of the country. I joined Junior League a few months after moving here and have been able to help with several organizations that serve the children of Reading. I’m planning on doing a separate post on Junior League later this week! I was also asked by my students to be a trip advisor for Alternative Spring Break. I said yes without even knowing where I was going to be going or what I was going to be doing. I wound up going to Joplin, Missouri to help with two organizations and in just a few days, I’ll be heading back!! I’m super excited and Joplin is DEFINITELY getting its own post! 

If you have any favorite volunteer stories, be sure to leave them in the comments!

102. Print out pictures that I’ve taken and display them.

I might be dating myself here, but some of my favorite days in middle school were the days after a field trip. Why the day after? Because everybody would have taken their rolls of film to get developed and a good portion of the day would be spent passing around those little envelopes filled with pictures. I remember spending HOURS organizing my photo album so my favorite pictures were all in there.

Unfortunately with the invention of Facebook, my favorite one hour photo place took a major hit. Instead of passing around a pile of pictures, now you could click through them while not paying attention during an Art History lecture. Now there are even MORE ways to share pictures. I swear, I have like eight different accounts just to see people’s pictures.

And then came Shutterfly. For those of you not familiar with Shutterfly, it’s a company that lets you upload and print pictures and photo gifts like mugs and calendars and cell phone cases. I’ve used them to print photos for YEARS, but I’ve also made photo books and Christmas cards. My two favorite things about the company is the frequency that they send me coupons and the ability to print to Target. I’ve gotten some AWESOME coupons since I’ve signed up as a Shutterfly member. I printed a photo book for last year’s Joplin trip and shortly after Christmas, they sent me a coupon for 101 free prints…hence this entry.

So with that coupon, I was able to print some pictures from the past few years. The next step was figuring out how to display them. I have quite a few pictures in frames in my living room, but with all the effort I spent hanging them, they’re not coming down until I move out. I wanted something cute, but also easy so I could change the pictures frequently…maybe that will encourage me to print more!

I wound up creating a display above my bed, as my bedroom didn’t have very much decoration. I’ve got some colored twine taped up with hair bows clipped at the end to disguise the tape. The pictures are clipped to the twine with clothes pins. Very Pinterest!

My newest picture display!!

My newest picture display!!

In other decorating news, I did attempt to fix the gallery wall in my living room, and the frame that holds my concert tickets promptly fell down. Again. I also thing I can do more with my bedroom. With as much as I’ve moved around, I always feel like once I have “finished” decorating, it’s time to packet it all up and move again!

47. Get a massage.

When I saw that the fitness center was having a special on massages for the month of January, I knew the perfect time to get one – right after spring semester move in. I scheduled my massage for the morning after and didn’t give it anymore thought until I arrived for it.

Obviously, this is going to be a post without pictures. Massages are supposed to be all about relaxing and de-stressing and I’m pretty sure snapping pictures with my iPhone would have been frowned upon. I already think I’m on my masseuse’s shit list for having my phone on the table with me. (What? I was on call!)

Overall, the experience was wonderful and I would have just loved to crawl back into bed afterwards instead of going to my office. Below are some of my more…interesting…observations.

The Music.

So you know how all yoga classes have the same CD of “relaxing” music always playing? My masseuse had a very similar CD. While the music was definitely more relaxing than say…Beyonce…I found myself paying WAY too much attention to the music. First of all, it’s not just music. It’s a mixture of Asian-sounding instruments, water flowing, and forest noises, like birds chirping. I spent a good amount of time thinking about that set up. One, I’m clearly not getting a massage in the woods, so why pretend? If I was getting a massage in the woods, I’d probably be concerned about spiders and bugs and snakes and birds pooping on me. Also, if I was in the woods, why would there be all these musicians in the woods with me? Just when I finally started to accepted that the ideal massage experience would take place in the woods with an entire orchestra present, the music changed slightly and started to resemble something from the “Titanic” soundtrack. The sounds of water were still present. Done.

The Clothing (or lack thereof).

Until I arrived for my massage, I completely forgot that you’re supposed to get undressed. This was my first professional massage – all massages done before this were those free chair massages during finals week and my massage therapy class at RIT. So the morning of my massage, I woke up and got dressed like it was any ol’ day. It wasn’t until I got in the room and saw all the blankets that I thought, “Oh shit, I forgot to shave my legs!”. I thought it would be really weird, but the masseuse left the room so I could strip down to my undies and climb under the covers. During the actual massage, the masseuse practiced some fancy blanket-origami so only the body part being worked on was exposed. This was wonderful, since it was January and I really didn’t want to get out from under the blanket at all. This also made it so the masseuse didn’t have to see the underwear that I picked out thinking that nobody would see it.

The Lotion.

This probably sounds like a weird thing to notice, but I’m a weird person, so of course I noticed it. Part of my post-shower routine (also known as Towel Time) in the colder months is to completely slather my body in lotion. I then sit patiently play on my iPad and wait for it to dry. Well, during my massage I also got lotion slathered all over my body. The major difference was that it wasn’t MY lotion. My masseuse doesn’t know my life. At the end, I still felt kind of slimy. Actually, the texture felt very similar to my cream blush, which was really weird. Also, my feet were the last area of my body worked on and right after I had to shove my sneakers back on, so my feet felt really gross all day.

Ideally my next massage will be part of some spa package at a resort, but until then this will have to do!

Ready? Okay!

(Truth – the only time those words have come out of my mouth, they have been completely sarcastic!)

I was never a girl-y girl. I swear, if I went back in time and told my 12 year old self that my twenty-something self became a cheerleader, joined a sorority, and was obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer, my 12 year old self’s head would explode. I’m starting at my closet right now. My eye is twitching a bit from the amount of pink.

So getting back on track. I became a cheerleader. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but I think it started with my friends renting the movie “Bring it On” when I was in eighth grade. Most of my friends at that point were cheerleaders, so we spent this gathering learning the dances and cheers from the movie. I think I still have the opening cheer memorized. Within weeks, the high school that we were all planning on attending announced that they were holding cheerleading tryouts AND that it was open to incoming students. I had absolutely no intentions of playing any sports in high school, unless you count “competitive saxophone-ing” as a sport but somehow I got suckered into it. I might have spouted off that “cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded” line in front of my friends one too many times. Now if I hadn’t made the team, this post would not exist. I won’t bore you by telling you about tryouts. I can’t really remember the nitty gritty details anymore. I just know that it was winter and I was dancing in the cafeteria to Britney Spears and then next thing I knew, it was summer and I was going to the high school for cheerleading camp. ME. CHEERLEADING CAMP.

Somehow, I made it through that year with only minor humiliation one truly embarrassing story. There was all sorts of drama, including a last minute coaching change. The following year, I didn’t return. Don’t get me wrong – I have some wonderful memories from that year. I really enjoyed it. But at the end of the day, I had to choose between cheerleading and everything else I loved. And I chose everything else. And I enjoyed that too.

Unfortunately, I had been bitten by the cheerleading bug. It came in handy sometimes. When my friends needed to reach something high, they’d quickly throw me in the air to get it. When CMT announced that it was doing a show about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, I was GLUED to the TV. I was regularly doing parts of the DCC’s routines in my parents’ living room. I thought it was all I was going to get until I had a little girl of my own and could coach a pop warner team.

Fast forward a few years to my first second week of college. I started seeing posters advertising – GUESS WHAT – tryouts! I hadn’t cheered in AGES but I still decided to give it a go. For being such a large college, there was a surprisingly small number of girls trying out. Similar to my high school days, tryouts were a week long – the first part was spent learning different routines and the second part was the actual audition. I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing. I wanted to surprise my friends and family. Some people were planning on visiting in October, so I had to keep it a secret until then, but I wound up quitting the team before any of my friends could arrive on campus. I couldn’t afford the uniforms and the shoes and everything else.

Fast forward a few more years. While watching “Making the Team” one night, I suddenly had the craziest idea. I live near a major city with an NFL team. What if I tried out just one more time? I went through with this insane idea. I drove to Philly for different workshops and got to meet the coach and the returning cheerleaders – it was a pretty awesome experience! Very early on I realized that I had a very, very minuscule chance of making the team. I was competing with girls that were DANCE MAJORS. But I stuck it out just to say that I did it. Surprisingly, they waited until the second round to cut me. A benefit of going through the process – I was in the best shape of my life at the end of it and I wound up with an impressive collection of make up.

I chatted with the one in the front!

 

Now, at the ripe old age of 26, I have officially retired from cheerleading. Yes, I still watch “Making the Team” and occasionally I break out one of my old workout videos, but I will not be hauling my butt to Philly (or any other city) for auditions any time soon.