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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Looking at the List #11

137. Go on a New York Times “36 Hour” trip.

The New York times has been publishing 36 hour trip itineraries since 2002. Recently, they’ve compiled the columns into books by region. I bought the USA version as a graduation gift for someone and I bought myself the Northeast edition. I do want to travel more and I like that these trips can be done with limited vacation time. Maybe I’ll use my copy of the book to explore a city right here in Pennsylvania!

 

140. Donate to RIT.

This picture is from 007. It was on RIT’s website until very, very recently.

About once a week, I get a phone call from RIT’s Telefund Office asking me to donate money. Well, at least that’s what I assume they are asking, I’ve personally never picked up. I know, I know, it makes me kind of sound like a jerk, but I really hate talking on the phone. I really did enjoy my time at RIT and at some point I do want to give back. I’ve helped in the past with different volunteer events, but hopefully in the next few years I’ll be at the place where I can support the school financially. My plan is to donate to a specific department or organization…maybe I can get together with some of my sisters to do something really great for the house!

142. Do the whole tropical vacation thing.

There was a period of two or three weeks this winter where EVERYBODY I knew was on some awesome tropical vacation. The only thing that kept me sane during that time was that I got to go on vacation as well…to Missouri. I’m not the biggest fan of tropical vacations, but in the middle of this crazy, snowy winter, the idea of laying on a beach doing nothing for a week sounded FABULOUS. I added this to the list during that time and since then I found out that one of my cousins might be planning a destination wedding…so this goal might be a bit easier to accomplish than I imagined!

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!

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!

With a D and an E…

It’s Formal Recruitment Week at Albright! As much as I dread this week each year, I also love it. Nothing makes me happier than to see everybody jumping around on Bid Day and making memories that will last a lifetime. Recently I’ve had a bit more involvement with my sorority sisters – I’m going to be seeing some in a few weeks for Formal AND I was assigned a new member pen pal!! To continue my “everything sorority” obsession, I just finished the book “Sorority Sisters” by Claudia Welch and LOVE LOVE LOVED IT. It reminded me not only of my friends that I made through my sorority, but my friends that I made from the music department and still keep in touch with to this day. I seriously wanted to call every single person once I finished that book. Since I don’t exactly have the time to write an entirely new post, I’ve taken bits and pieces from a post I wrote for another site back in the day! Enjoy!

Why I THINK I Joined a Sorority

It’s no secret that I was in a sorority during my time at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Unlike some of the people I joined with, I haven’t “outgrown” it. I still try to get back for larger events and while I don’t keep in touch with everybody, I do my best to keep in touch with those I was closest with. One of my friends from Junior League said that she goes on a trip with her entire pledge class every year. Eighteen women. Ten years. That’s kind of awesome.

Probably my favorite picture from the trip!

Me, my big, and my little in Disney World. We’re trying to make an annual trip a thing.

People frequently asked why I joined a sorority. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it was never my intention to join a sorority. In fact, I spent most of my first year hating the sororities at RIT because one put a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve found that my answer to that question has changed over the past few years, probably because my feelings towards my sorority have changed. I’m not saying there was ever a point where I didn’t like it, not at all! It’s just that being active is very different that being an alum.

(Some of) my wonderful boys! The closest thing I had to a sorority…before joining and sorority.

I think I first joined because I really didn’t have any female friends. I am still super close with the guys I spent most of undergrad with (we have yearly vacations!) but let me tell you, things get awkward FAST when you’re on a day trip with all guys and realize that you need a tampon. There was only so much that I could talk about with my guy friends, especially if (when) it involved GUY DRAMA… #awkwardcollegeproblems.

Bid Day!

As I got closer to my last preference night ritual, I realized that I was going to have to tell all these potential new members about why I joined my sorority. This was towards the end of my senior year and I had been reflecting on the past four years, including my rough transition from high school to college. Something that one of my home friends said to me that first year seemed to apply to my joining a sorority…I was a fish that was always looking for a bigger pond. Once I got comfortable with being at college, I needed to find a new challenge. That challenge was joining a sorority and thrusting myself into a new group of people that I had never met before….because you know, that hadn’t happened enough my freshman year. So at that last ritual, I told all these girls that I joined to take on something new…and let me tell you, my sorority let me try TONS of new things!

I was Mr. RIT Chair and even wound up on the news!

Now that I have been out for a few years, I think I joined because I NEEDED sisters. I’m an only child and very recently had to see my mother and her siblings care for their aging mother. They struggled. There’s only one of me. It terrifies me to know that some day I will have to take care of my parents without any help. Not to mention the mere idea of not having parents…at least if you have siblings you have SOMEBODY. I have tons of close friends, but at the end of the day they have their siblings. Heck, even most of my sisters have actual sisters. I know that my sorority sisters will always have my back, but I still always wanted somebody that was just mine…and then I met my big. My big is also an only child. She has cousins that she is close with, but while many people go to older siblings for advice and to talk about important stuff, my big and I have each other. She’s put up with me hating…just about everything and I’ve helped her navigate surviving life after college ends (side note – that would be an AMAZING book title…just saying) and we bounce ideas back and forth constantly.

My big and I at her graduation party. Sometimes, we wear our hair the same way.

Just like I didn’t (and still don’t) have a set reason for joining a sorority, there are MANY reasons to go Greek. There are still so many negative perceptions out there and I nearly fell for them! I always encourage students to check it out…the worst that is going to happen is you won’t like it. If any of my lovely sisters are reading this, please comment below so I know you’re out there! If you’re a student reading this, check out the Greek Life at your college!!

Hamming it up at 15 Year.

Twist-a-thon!

My unplanned attendance at a Cops and Robbers social.

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Day!

We’ve had two snow days and a delayed opening this week! The last time I missed this much school because of snow, it was 2001!

RIT was notorious for NEVER CLOSING. My freshman year, the first day of fall quarter was Labor Day and the last day of the quarter was Veteran’s Day. You know, days that my high-school-self was used to having off. After awhile, I accepted never having holidays off. But you know what I really missed? Snow days. There was something special about a snow day. A snow day was always such a nice, unexpected surprise.

But RIT was in Western New York. On average, the city gets over 90 inches of snow each winter. Plus the area around campus was pretty flat, so it was much easier to drive around than my neighborhood in Connecticut. I quickly got used to walking to school in all sorts of weather. I also became a pro at layering! Pro tip? Wear sweatpants OVER your jeans/leggings/normal pants so that if you want to take a layer off, it’s the outer one.

Bye Pam, don’t get lost in a blizzard!

One Martin Luther King Day, I woke up to my roommate Tiffany crouched next to the side of my bed. “School’s closed!” she said. “No it’s not,” I said as I rolled away from her. She explained that there was an ice storm and Monroe County made us close down. I still didn’t believe her, but I reached for my laptop, checked my email, and sure enough, RIT was closed. The next thing I checked was Facebook, which of course was filled with…wait I’m not even sure statuses were a thing. But you know what I mean! I remembered that I set an away message about my day off, to which my non-RIT friends replied, “Of course you have today off, it’s Martin Luther King Day.” Sigh.

 

Found this bad boy on Facebook. Oh the glory days!

Since it was technically an ICE day and not a SNOW day, we didn’t get to do any of the fun things like go sledding, have snowball fights, or build inappropriate snow sculptures. I remember being able to enjoy the day with my roommates. The other thing I remember about that day was meeting our weird neighbors. They set the fire alarm off, so our whole row had to wait outside in the ice storm. Lovely. Luckily one of us was parked nearby, so we waited inside a car.

This is probably the only reason I have pictures of our ice day.

During the rest of my time at RIT, I remember there being a few times that afternoon/evening classes were cancelled, but no whole day events. I’ve been enjoying these past few days, but I’m hoping the weather stops being so crazy in time for recruitment and my upcoming trip to Rochester!

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.