Day One-Hundred-Eighteen/One-Hundred-Nineteen (Best Friends)

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There are strangers. There are peers. There are friends. And then there are best friends. When I was in first grade, I longed for a best friend. Someone to whom I could divulge my deepest fears, desires, feelings, and thoughts. That person didn’t seem to be coming along any time soon. So I created my own best friend. This was how I met my very first best friend. My stuffed Bunny. In 4th Grade, I met my first real-life best friend. She was the new kid and still figuring things out. For some reason she chose to befriend the mute girl. We became inseparable and we are still good friends to this day. Even if we live far apart and don’t communicate as often as I would wish. In 5th Grade I met another one of my best friends.

In 6th Grade, I met my next best friend. Someone who I am still incredibly close with to this day. We even roomed together my freshman year of college and we lived to tell the tale. That takes a high caliber of friendship. In 7th Grade I met one of my other best friends, though we grew apart after High School. The summer after 8th Grade I met my twin, who people still mix me up with. To this day. My freshman year of college I met one of my best friends, followed by three more best friends my Sophomore year. By “best friend” I mean someone with whom I am my true authentic self, someone who I have loads of inside jokes with, someone who I have become “those two guys” with, and someone who I have stayed in touch with through all the different trials and tribulations of life. I have plenty of other close friends who have not been mentioned (who I love, as well!!!) and plenty of circumstantial best friends. Such as best friends for a specific class, show, or club. Just thinking about all of these people right now is making me really want to contact everyone to see how they’re all doing…

Anyway, those are not all of my best friends either. I also have “BEST FRIENDS!!!”. These are usually quiet guys who I have rarely, if ever, spoken to. Who I think I would get along with very well, if only I would dare to approach them. Who I like to fantasize my hypothetical friendship with, but I struggle to actually talk to them due to either anxiety or circumstances. These were mostly quiet guys I was in shows with, in class with, or with whom I work. They have no idea I long to be their friend. I’m “BEST FRIENDS!!!” with them, they just don’t know it yet. They’ll learn. “BEST FRIENDSHIP!!!” is an eternal bond. 😀 (Really, this is just a silly little thing me and one of my real best friends came up with a few years back. She declared this one quiet guy in our cast was her “BEST FRIEND” so I declared this other quiet guy in our cast was my “BEST FRIEND”. It took off from there).

Anyway, back to the people I’m actually friends with…my friends mean the world to me. All of my friends, but particularly my best friends. They haven’t just accepted me as a friend, they’ve accepted me for all that I am. For both the good parts and the bad. They’re the ones who I can talk about absolutely anything with and they’ll give me the truth and won’t tell anyone what I’ve said. Best friends are a rare breed of friend, but they’re all the more special for it. I cherish these people so so so so so much. I just want to contact them all right now and tell them how much they mean to me. They’re the ones I can call up at any time to ask to hang out. They’re the ones who will tell me when I’m making a mistake. They’re the ones who stand by my side on this crazy journey that is life.

So, five-year-old-me, your wish came true. You did find yourself a best friend. In fact, you found yourself many best friends. Each of them amazing, special, flawless individuals. Even at 22, you’re still friends with them all. I know you feel like it’ll never happen. Like you’re too quiet, too weird, too socially awkward. But give it time. You’ll find people who will accept and love you just the way you are. They’re all a little quiet, weird, and awkward too. You’re not alone. You don’t have to create someone to be your friend. Although Bunny was a great friend, too. Just wait a little bit and you’ll meet some of the most extraordinary people. You’ll find that you’re not so bad, either.

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Day One-Hundred-Seventeen (Viola)

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Today, for the first time in a long while, I had a music rehearsal. The thing about music rehearsals is that it is often quite different from belting out songs in the shower or in the car. If you asked me to sing a “G”…..I have absolutely no idea what that note would sound like. I can make inferences about music, but I can’t read sheet music. All that I know about reading music I learned in Orchestra. As a viola. Playing the viola and singing isn’t exactly the same thing. Really, only the rhythm and music notations (like crescendo, fortissimo, staccato, etc.) apply to both. Also nobody sings in alto cleft. Barely anyone even plays an instrument in it. The violas stand alone.

Playing the viola was one of my all-time favorite experiences. I loved being a part of the Orchestra. I loved learning the background music to some epic soundtracks (Star Trek, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Apollo 13…). I loved the friends I made. I loved the trips to Hershey Park, Virginia Beach, and Disney World. I loved the feeling of finally getting a difficult section and the high of flying through the notes. I loved seeing a fully marked up sheet with notes, fingerings, and circled measures. I loved being part of the smallest section of the Orchestra and sometimes getting singled out because of it. I loved watching myself improve over the years. By senior year, I was a leader in my section. No, I never made the elite group. No, I never became first chair in my class. No, I never pursued music. But I loved being a viola.

Today, as I was trying to follow the music rehearsal, I started getting massive Orchestra flashbacks. I was remembering rhythms for the first time in ages. I was remembering fingerings (well, they weren’t accurate because the clef was wrong, but whatever). I was remembering being the confusing middle part. I was remembering being the quiet one who knew her shit but always got overlooked or ignored. Orchestra wasn’t always a fun class for me. My freshman year ended with many days of frustration, anger, hurt, disappointment, and ego trips. My teacher took special notice of me and loved to point out my flaws in front of everyone. I appreciate it so much in hindsight. At the time? Not so much. My Sophomore Year my teacher never gave me any credit when I did things correctly because I was too quiet to stick out. It drove me nuts when I knew something better than my fellow violas and it was ignored, and then later they would get all the praise and acclamation. My Junior Year I was placed near the back in my own stand to be out of everyone’s way. I didn’t even get first stand my senior year, because I missed a class and someone else took the chair. I was moved back to placate the obnoxious freshman kid because my quietness slowed him down a little. It was all immensely frustrating. Especially at the time.

But, at the same time, there were always good parts. I got along well with my fellow violas, I had some great friends in the violin section, and I loved concerts/competitions/trips. I even managed to earn my teacher’s good opinion by my senior year. Looking back at High School, he was my favorite teacher without a doubt. Even if I hated him for the longest time and he was the source of a good portion of my High School ego trips.

At heart, I will always be a Viola. Everyone played violin. A good amount of kids played cello and bass. But being a viola was special. We were the quiet ones. The ones who usually just supported either the cello part or the violin two part. The ones who got made fun of the most (the amount of viola jokes out there is absolutely ridiculous). The ones who had to explain their instrument to non-musicians the most. No one fucking knows we exist. Being a viola is in my blood. It was in my blood before I even picked up the instrument and it is in my blood now. Despite the fact that I have not picked it up since High School. Screw Myers-Briggs, Star Signs, or Hogwarts Houses. Being a viola is who I am.

Day One-Hundred-Sixteen (Fencing)

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Happy National Fencing Day!!! I kind of have to make my post today about fencing, since it’s an obscure little sport that means so very much to me. I feel obligated to celebrate this day by making a post dedicated to this sport. I hate sports. The fact that I hold any sport so near and dear to my heart is quite the impressive feat. The credit belongs more to my friends than to the sport itself. But I honestly love the sport too. Like…it’s really fun. And intense. And oftentimes painful. And so incredible.

I never, in a million years, thought I would ever be involved in any kind of sport’s club. Let alone an active member or a board member on the Sport’s Council. Like….what. That is so not me. But, my freshman year, my roommate and a few other friends dragged me to a practice. Then two older team members trained me and were so nice that I felt like I had to come back to prove myself. One member literally said “well, yeah. of course you’re not doing so well right now. you literally just learned this. this is why you have to practice”. I don’t know if I would have returned, had it not been for that one simple sentence. So I can blame all of the ensuing chaos on this one girl. Or thank her for it.

Fencing is a fun sport. The laps are hard, some of the beginning warmups are painful, and the sport itself can be immensely frustrating. You’d think whoever hit who first would just get the point. Nope. There’s all these complicated little rules determining who had the “right of way” and who gets the point. Fortunately, there is oftentimes a judge there to help you figure out who had the right of way. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to be the judge. And it’s not fun trying to figure out who pulled their arm back a fraction of an inch while two people are flying towards each other at hyper-speed. Then there is the footwork, which takes a lot of time to become muscle memory. Then there’s strategy and tricky moves you can use to your advantage. Not to mention the anxiety before practice the ego trips during.

Fortunately, being an analytical and observant person often worked in my favor. Fencing strengths and weaknesses directly correlate to personality strengths and weaknesses. You can be great against one member and then lose horribly against another. Oftentimes, it just depends on your skills, knowledge, and personality. Much like life itself. It was such an incredible feeling to improve though. To get a point. To win a match, or even just to put up a decent fight. To have witty banter against your opponent. To tease each other. To hang out while you catch your breaths. To play goofy games like you’re in a gym class made up only of your best friends. The whole experience was impossible to describe in the best of ways.

I miss it so much right now, but I don’t regret one second of it. I grew as a person in that smelly old gym. I grew physically, mentally, and socially stronger. I met some of the greatest people I have ever had the good fortune of knowing. I had magical fairytale nights twice a week every week. I learned how to sword fight. Like…that’s pretty epic. I’m a musician, actress, and sword fighter. How cool is that?!?! I would recommend this sport to anyone if the chance ever presents itself. It’s not easy by any means. I can remember sporting some nasty bruises and barely being able to get out of bed some days after practice. But it’s completely worth the pain. No pain, no gain. A few small bruises is hardly a hefty price for all of the great memories, amazing friends, and irreplaceable self-growth.

Day One-Hundred-Fifteen (Rot and Ruin)

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So I’m making it a tradition that when I complete a series, I will make a blog post dedicated to that series. In this case, the Rot and Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry. Which took me a good few months to finish, mostly due to my ridiculously busy schedule. But, tonight, I finally finished the series. Except the “Bits and Pieces” part, which I should probably check out later. I’ll give myself a break first though. I promised my friend I’d immediately read this book series she’s been trying to get me into for years once I finished Rot and Ruin.

So what did I think of these novels? I picked up the book at random and I easily could have hated it. Nobody recommended it to me. My favorite character died in Book Two and it was honestly a bit of a hard read after that. The biggest reason I enjoyed the first two books was due to this one character. Another character also quickly won me over, but he didn’t do shit in the fourth book until the very end. A lot of characters were either killed off too soon or put on a bench for awhile. But, to be fair, all of the characters were pretty great. Having too many great characters is a good problem to have.

The plot was exciting and interesting. It kept me wondering the whole way through. And I really admired how the book never dumbed itself down for it’s audience. It was intense, dark, morbid, and a little fucked up. Just how I like my books. I really liked the character growth and the questions on morality. The villains were all fantastic. I especially enjoyed the biological mumbo-jumbo. I didn’t comprehend a lot of it, but I appreciated the research that must have went into figuring out how the zombie plague actually worked.

Overall, I would recommend this book to others. While it is not my favorite book, I did highly enjoy the saga and it kept my interest from start to finish. Mostly cause Tom and Joe were both so badass. And it was hard not to root for Benny, Nix, Chong, and Lilah. Maybe I’ll take a little break before starting the next series. I still need to recover emotionally from that ending. I am also a little salty at the writer, for making the character Joe so great in this series that I now feel obligated to check out the Joe Ledger series. Dammit.

Days One-Hundred-Thirteen/One-Hundred-Fourteen (Friendship)

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“If it’s time to go, remember what you’re leaving. Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me”-Doctor Who

I could go on and on about myself. Both my flaws and my strengths. I spend the majority of my time with myself and my self-image is very important to me. My relationship with myself is the most important relationship in my life. But, if I’m honest, my friends have always been the best of me. I’m including family in this as well, by the way.

Last night, I hung out with my parents and my brother. Today, I went to a rehearsal for the show I’m in and laughed and joked around with my fellow cast members. Tonight was also a fencing practice for my friends still in college. I’ve been feeling rather lonely lately (a side-effect of life moving on while I’m still standing still, I suppose) and I’ve been hesitantly reaching out to friends. I don’t want to bother them as they continue their wonderful and exciting lives, but I also sometimes just need to talk to a friend.

When I look around at my friends, both close friends and acquaintances, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful and honored to call all of these amazing individuals my friend. They’re all such independent, intelligent, funny, compassionate, and inspiring individuals. The fact that they see me as a friend too never fails to astonish me. I’m an awkward potato who over-thinks things, creeps people out, and is socially awkward as fuck. I’ve been pushed aside, forgotten, and underestimated my entire life. The fact that these unbelievable individuals have made the decision to be my friend…I’m eternally grateful.

As I sat in rehearsal tonight, I couldn’t help but feel the strangest bittersweet emotion. Bitter, because I know that my college crew are mostly together tonight. While I’m not there. I do not know whether I will ever see them again or where and when that may or may not happen. It kills me to know that my dysfunctional makeshift college family is continuing their lives without me. I can’t think about it too much without getting really really sad. But at the same time, being back in theatre is so sweet. I am in a show again! I’m in a show with people I’ve known for years who I also consider friends! We’re all bonding and having a blast! As I walked through the different rooms in the building tonight, I heard the echoes of other rehearsals going on, rehearsals that other past friends and crushes are participating in. It’s a truly awesome feeling to be back in the theatre world again; doing a show. I haven’t felt this rush since High School. It’s a great new adventure.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, it is my friends who will have mattered the most to me. I’m a Hufflepuff, man. Loyalty and compassion is in the blood. When I was in Elementary School, I had to create imaginary best friends to fill the void created due to my lacking social skills. I was the weird loner kid who had to go to the guidance counselor to learn how to talk to other children. Look at me now. Even when I’m alone, I’m not really alone. My family loves me. My friends love me. And I love them all so so so so so much too. Whatever may come; I can face it. Because I know, no matter what, I have amazing friends who will support me. And I’m so thankful for all of them.

Day One-Hundred-Eleven/One-Hundred-Twelve (Newsies)

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The summer before my senior year of High School, I was in a Disney-themed show. The show included songs from Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast…mostly Disney princess movies, but a few others. One of the segments, which I had the fortune of being in, was Newsie themed. At first, I was not happy. Many Disney films were skipped over for this short kids show. But somehow Newsies, a show I’d never seen (and I pride myself as a Disney obsessive), had made the cut? And, of all the segments to be a part of, I had to be stuck in the Newsies one?

By the week of the show, the Newsies segment was my favorite part of the entire performance. I loved getting to act like a tough New Yorker who owned the stage. It was a real confidence booster and the songs were a lot of fun. It was honestly one of my favorite segments of any show I’ve ever been in. I also got to watch the film as a part of my “rehearsing” and it wasn’t so bad. A little slow and dull, but definitely worth a watch. When the musical came out a few years later, I listened to the soundtrack. Some of the songs I listened to on repeat for weeks, but many I forgot after listening to them.

Fast-forward to today. Newsies is on Netflix. All of a sudden, the memories came flooding in. The Newsies segment four summers ago. Watching the film for the first time. Listening to the soundtrack obsessively. Obsessing over Jeremy Jordan. One of my best friends being utterly obsessed with the show. All the memories were returning. I dragged my dad with me to the basement to watch the film on the bigger screen. It was well worth the wait.

I don’t really know what to say about this show. I love a good underdog story. I love an entertaining history lesson. The characters are all great and I especially love the changes they made to the main girl. Katherine is a major improvement to Sarah. I love watching these plucky kids stick it to the man. The singing is great. The dancing is incredible. I’ll probably go back to forgetting this show exists in about a week, but for now it’s unbelievable. It’s honestly an amazing show and I’m glad I watched the film and now the musical. Also “Seize the Day” is, and will always be, one of my all-time favorite songs.

Day One-Hundred-Eleven (Stars)

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During my week at camp, one of my absolute favorite parts of camp were the moments around 10-12, when I was awake while the kids were asleep. I would sneak out of my cabin with my co-counselors and we would all hang out with the other counselors. We’d binge on junk food, discuss our days, and joke around. That part was pretty fun, but I was always exhausted from the long day and worried about the kids waking up. Even so, I did enjoy those nights immensely and I won’t ever forget them.

But, my favorite part of those nights, was looking at the stars. Being that the camp was in the middle of nowhere; the stars were actually visible. They were clear and easy to see. It was magnificent. When I did fencing, I always enjoyed looking up at the stars on the walk to my car with the other commuters after practice. Whenever I drive home late at night, I always take a moment to stop everything and just gaze into the night sky for a moment. To remind myself that, from the perspective of those stars, we are little dots on a tiny planet light years away. Somehow that makes my little life seem that much more extraordinary.

Also planets, space, and shit is fucking amazing. Like…aliens are totally real. There’s no way we’re the only living species in the whole galaxy. There’s so much unexplored territory up there. Why do people act like Science Fiction is so close to fantasy. Space is real, guys. Stars are real. Planets are real. We have no idea what the hell is up there. It’s probably not as humanistic as our stories make it out to be, but even so….there are infinite possibilities. It’s kinda awesome, yeah?

Day One-Hundred-Ten (Going Out)

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Today, for the first time in a long while, I was invited to go out by two separate friends. Of course, I had work from 9-5 and I have work from 9-5 tomorrow as well. So my time for going out was very limited tonight and I have to be up early tomorrow. The one friend was having a get together for her birthday in the afternoon. I was unable to make that because I would be at work at the time. The other friend was having the get together an hour away late at night, which was impossible due to the fact that I have work tomorrow. Also, I’m seeing those friends tomorrow anyway.

Going out has always been an interesting process for me. I enjoy seeing friends and I make a point to try and keep in touch with the people who matter to me. I don’t abandon friendships easily. But I also desperately need my alone time. When I was at camp, I constantly ran into this problem. Once the kids were asleep, the counselor’s would sneak out and meet up to talk about their days and just joke around. I honestly loved going to see the other counselors and getting to be a part of this wonderful group. At the same time, I loved having quiet “me time” after a long day with my cabin going from event to event. It was a difficult choice every night, choosing between alone time and socialization.

For the week, I chose to be an extrovert. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever see the people from the camp again and I wanted to make the most of that week. Also, my one co-counselor kept peer pressuring me into going out and living life to the fullest. After getting home, I’ve felt exhausted. I have to recover both physically and socially. My ears are still clogged, my nose is still running, and I still have permanent bags under my eyes. At the same time, I’m still emotionally exhausted and so done with everyone. I have to catch up on my alone time and I have four days straight of work. Not a great combination.

I need a lot of alone time. The idea of getting together with the same large group all day, or multiple days in a role, is unfathomable to me. Unless it’s like camp and you will only see this group for one week of the year or if you’re on a field trip and you’re far away. Other than that, I need my “me time”. Seeing people for a few hours every few days is more than enough for me. I used to spend all day in college with the same group and then all night with them. It was horrible. I spent about a month doing that before deciding that I had to either avoid them during the day or avoid them at night. All day with the same people was not for me. I didn’t even attend one party in college, either.

Going out can be great sometimes. I love seeing friends, especially when I spend time with only a few friends having nice deep conversations. I love being a part of a group, especially when we’re hanging out late at night with nowhere else to go. I absolutely love hanging out with friends. I just need some balance. Or, more time alone than with other homosapiens.

Day One-Hundred-Nine (Gym)

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Today, for the first time since 8th Grade, I stepped foot in a real gym. Okay, maybe that’s not totally true. I did go on the step contraptions once because my friend dragged me. I went rock climbing once. I had a fencing practice and a tournament in the gym. Mostly, I just ate my fatty lunch in the lobby. Actually using the gym on a daily basis for exercise? Um. No thank you.

On a whim, I decided to try out the local gym today. I went with my parents to check it out and try out all the different pieces of equipment. The step contraption is still cool and I enjoyed the bikes. It was an easy way to exercise without quite realizing how much effort you were actually putting out. The death traps that strengthened specific muscles were not my thing. They were all way too painful and difficult. Maybe with time and persistence I could learn to get better at them. It would be a nice goal. For the current moment, it’s just not my thing. I don’t have the time or dedication to improve that much. I’ll have to find my exercising method somewhere else.

To be fair, I never thought I would ever step into a gym after High School. I loved gym class. It was just playing games with your friends for an hour a day. I sucked at all the games and I was perfectly okay with that. It was just fun and games, anyway. Once in awhile I would find a sport that I was great at, too. Gaga Ball and Badminton were my shit. Dodgeball was always fun, too.

The thing about gym class and organized sports (or club sports) is that it’s a great way to get exercise without realizing how much exercise you’re actually getting. You’re so busy trying to prove yourself, improve your skills, and have fun that it’s always a surprise when you take a breather and realize that your shirt is soaked with sweat and all your bones ache. It’s an amazing feeling, rather than an painful one.

Kudos to those who exercise, go to the gym on a daily basis, and keep themselves healthy. I’m sure my opinions on this subject will develop as I mature. As of now, I’m not a huge fan of the gym. Maybe in the future!

Day One-Hundred-Eight (Academia)

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I have spent the majority of my life in school. When classes started this past Monday, I expected to feel the crushing weight of fear, sadness, and disappointment. Instead, I just felt exhilaration. I’m finally on the adult path. I can do whatever I want. Yeah, the job hunt is hellish. Yes, I’ve been attempting to get a grown-up job all summer. Yeah, it’s scary not having any clear-cut structure anymore. It is a little overwhelming, intimidating, and unsettling. But, as my college friends recounted their stories from the first week, I found that I had no desire to go back. No desire to return to what once was. That’s the past now. I miss having the easy structure, but that’s about it. I’m ready for something new.

It wasn’t until I picked up an old textbook that I’d never gotten around to reading that I started to intensely miss college. It felt weird to read an academic novel without having to answer any questions. Without having to highlight important parts and take notes. Without having a discussion with a full class of students and an intelligent professor to help make the material seem more comprehensible and interesting. All I could think as I read the first chapter was how much better it would be if I could discuss what I was reading with a handful of my favorite professors. My parents just tuned me out when I tried to excitedly explain the concepts I was reading. It’s not their thing. And, I suppose, it’s not really mine anymore either.

Academia is a strange world. Where ideas really matter, writing skills matter, and intellectual thoughts are important. It’s not exactly like that when you get outside of that world. Academics are seen as very bright, respected, and all-knowing. But there is a distance to them. And not everyone is an academic. I miss being analytical and driven. I miss when the world was made up of thoughts and innovation. I was good at that world. I had the skill set for that universe. Now it just feels lonely learning new things when there is nobody who understands to share it with…