How to be a Pink Hat Fan

With the Super Bowl coming so soon, it’s inevitable that you may be thrown into the dangerous situation of pretending to know about football. It’s quite an accomplishment that I’ve spent nine years of my life attending weekly football games, three years playing on a flag football team, and a lifetime of sitting in on daily dinner conversations without ever totally understanding the game of football.

However, if you are like me, never fear!

After a lifetime of observing/non-observing, I’ve come up with some Super Bowl guidelines for what my boyfriend calls “Pink Hat Fans.”

1. Come to the Super Bowl party prepared with knowledge on alternative topics you understand: who’s performing at half time, which commercials are supposed to be good, etc.

2. Bring some great food/drinks so that everyone subconsciously decides that your presence is essential while watching football (transitive property).

3. Try not to shush people during the commercials. Surprisingly, you’re not supposed to interrupt the GAME, and the commercials are actually the time to talk and move around.

4. No one is really going to care (or notice) if you are wearing one team’s colors or not. But you will most likely plan out your outfit anyway.

5. Encourage bets on things unrelated to football: the first commercial, how long the National Anthem will take, or, my personal favorite, encourage a Box Pool where you can win money by pure luck.

Box Pool

Me winning the Box Pool freshman year. Also note the Steelers-colored outfit.

The tricky part is going to be when people stop talking about your safe topics and start talking about–weird–football. In this situation, I’ve gathered some phrases that you can most definitely get away with and sound knowledgeable:

  • Come on, ref!!
  • Where’s the flag?
  • That was huge!
  • They’re losing their legs.
  • He’s inconsistent.
  • Milk the clock/Run the clock down.
  • It all comes down to this.
  • This is a HUGE play. (*See “That was huge!”)
  • They’re in the red zone.

If you’re not sure who just made a play (or who you should be rooting for), go for the noncommittal “Whew!” or grunt.

Follow these rules, my friends, and everyone will be impressed by your extensive football knowledge. And when in doubt, just ask someone for their opinion–everyone seems to like to show off their football knowledge. For all we know, we could all be Pink Hat Fans…

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GIF-ing Thanks

It’s less than one week until Thanksgiving, people. It feels like it’s taking forever for the day to get here–probably because Thanksgiving is the latest it could possibly be this year.

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my caring family and friends, thankful for all the time I’m given that I’m lucky enough to spend with them…and thankful for Buzzfeed, and their sparsely-worded articles that can help explain so much.

And so–my Thanksgiving in GIFs:

Every Thanksgiving since I graduated from high school, my carpool and I have checked out of class and/or work by the end of Tuesday night to avoid Wednesday’s traffic.

On Wednesday, my parents frantically clean the house and my mom starts cooking. When I was younger, I was a huge help.

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

After high school graduation, Wednesday night is apparently high school reunion night.

On Thanksgiving morning, my brother and I like to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parades.

Of course, last year I was much healthier and ran a 5k Turkey Trot with my boyfriend and his sister. Here’s a clip of me from a passerby:

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

Anyway, I’m normally presentable by noon in time for our relatives to come over.

The 54 Best Animated GIFs Of 2012

We get so excited to see our family.

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

Usually before dinner, we’ll play games, watch videos of people’s band performances or choir concerts we missed–or both.

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

Also before dinner, it is usually my job to make and put out place cards. It’s something I started doing when I was little and no one ever told me to stop.

The 54 Best Animated GIFs Of 2012

You just can’t look away, can you?….

Anyway, when we sit down for dinner, we say a prayer and then start to dig in.

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

Thanksgiving dinner is all about being strategic about where you put food on your plate as dishes get passed around, so that you have room for everything–and so gravy doesn’t spill into places it’s not supposed to be.

It’s awesome getting to see family after not seeing them for a long time.

The 54 Best Animated GIFs Of 2012

But by the end of the day, there’s only one way we know if this year’s Thanksgiving has been a success. When the meal is over, we all look like this:

31 GIFs That Will Make You Laugh Every Time

Including the bumble bee costumes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Halloween, Kids

When I woke up Sunday morning, I powered on my iPhone and checked the weather like I always do. It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Maryland, which I thought I was looking forward to until I remembered that fall means colder weather. But as I was looking through the weekly forecast, I saw that it’s supposed to be a high of 74 degrees on Thursday.

“That’s great!” I thought. “The kids won’t be as cold for Halloween!”

Everyone knows that Halloween always seems to be one of the first freezing nights of the season, which coincided with your mom making you wear a ton of bulky layers under your costume. (Even if you happened to have the cutest Genie in a Bottle costume in your whole class.) You also had to follow some other unsaid rules: if with a group, always wait until everyone got to the door to ring the doorbell; don’t eat anything until you can spread it out on the floor or table when you get home; and always, always try to get more candy than anyone else. While these rules may have been just important when we were trick-or-treating, they kind of still make sense: make sure everyone gets a turn, be careful about what you eat, and…do your best!

This got me thinking about other “rules” that we followed when we were younger, and how we still follow them today.

THEN: Never cut off TY tags

If you take the tags off, you won’t be able to sell them later!

NOW: MUST SAVE EVERYTHING!

T-shirt quilt!

THEN: No butting

I see you.

NOW:

Nope.

THEN: Same seats!

Fives.

NOW: 

Sheldon knows what’s up.

THEN: No tagbacks/ no tradbacks/ punchbuggy no punchbacks.

Yellow!

NOW: Finders keepers, losers weepers.

THEN: Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets are for everyone!

That tickles

NOW:

 

Happy Halloween, kids, from Apollo 20!

r5

Apollo 20

 

The University of Maryland: An Insider’s Map

After seeing the blogger at Map Attacks make his own map of DC rooftop bars, I thought, “Wow! That’s a really cool idea! I should try making one!” Then I remembered that navigation is not my strong point–actually, according to anyone who has ever driven with me, probably one of my weakest points.

I strained to think of a location on which I was an expert. I came up with this sort of veteran’s map of UMD in honor of the first day of classes coming up and all our new Terps coming onto campus.

You may want to click on the link to make it bigger. Enjoy!

Being a Mentor

Last week, my office was nice enough to send me and a coworker to a conference for local admissions counselors. It was at a university, so we got to go to classes about current admissions topics and sleep in dorms (or as we call them in the admissions world, “residence halls”).

In addition to the great advice, something I really took away from the conference was the message from our keynote speaker, Professor Steve Roberts, a famous journalist and author. After working for The New York Times, speaking on NPR and various news shows, and writing a handful of books, he told us the most important thing he has taken away from his career was being a mentor.

Our speaker talked about his own mentor. Roberts was a young research assistant at The New York Times, and his boss was one of the most famous figures in American journalism. Still, his boss took time out of every day to help Roberts with various tasks or give him pointers. This meant the world to our speaker, and apparently it was important to his boss, too. For his funeral, instead of having family members carry his casket in the traditional manner, he had 26 pallbearers who were all his mentees. Roberts was one of them.

Our speaker’s mentor inspired him so much that he has aspired to be a mentor to his own coworkers and students. “We all need that person in our lives,” he told us, “who says, ‘I believe in you.'”

This speech made me think about, of course, all of the mentors in my life–loved ones, friends, professors, childhood instructors–but it also made me think if was doing my part as a mentor.

So many reflections we have at this time in our lives are about how we have no idea what we’re doing, or how we think we totally know what we’re doing, and then are proven horribly wrong. But what if we as twenty-somethings started being a little less concerned about our own trials and insecurities and started helping out the generations before us?

At least personally, I always imagine a mentor as someone much older than me. But now that I’m 23 (SO old), I’m a lot older than many people. I survived college AND middle school, and although these may not seem like challenges now, they seemed like Mount Everests when I first started out.

We may not be experts in much yet, but I think it’s our responsibility to start giving back as mentors even at this stage in our lives. If we got a job, we should be helping other people get jobs. If we learned how to navigate difficult relationships, we should help our friends doing so. In Tuesdays with Morrie, the old dying Morrie says that he feels like he is “every age” because he has gone through all the ages in his life and they are all still a part of him. Even though we may not know what the future holds, there’s still so much we can help with from our pasts.

Let’s all overcome that self-centered stigma of our generation and start helping each other out. I think we could do a lot of good!

String Cheese and Graduation

Welp, friends, it’s that time of year. Graduation. For my Class of 2012 friends: can you believe it’s been a year?! For my younger friends: congratulations on graduating/not graduating yet! For my older friends: you guys are getting OLD!

I love this time of year because a lot of great graduation articles and speeches begin to spam the internet. As someone who is interested in speechwriting, I eat these up and admire the speakers’ and writers’ wisdom.

But at 22 (yes, I can sing Taylor Swift’s song for one more month), I feel like I still have a while before I can give advice about the “Real World” to graduates.

However, I AM an expert on the Fake World of college. Today I put together some advice I would give to myself a few years ago, or to any college student who still has a little time left in what is scientifically classified as “the best four years of your life”:

  • First: do stupid things. Not dangerous things, but things stupid enough that the memories will sustain you in years to come. In an embarrassingly G-rated example: my roommate and I threw a tea party in our dorm room freshman year. Stupid, but a great memory.
  • Second: do smart things. Meet professors, write awesome papers, and apply for internships even when it feels like you should be studying for tomorrow’s exam instead. I’m pretty sure it will help in the long run (but I’ll let you know).
  • These precious years will be the only time when it’s not weird to sit, do work, watch movies, and dribble crumbs on other people’s beds. Take advantage of it.
  • Make your bed. (See above.)
  • Buying cheap, generic food is OK. Except when it comes to string cheese. Generic string cheese is never ok.
  • Laundry does not need to be done every week. Who do you think you are?
  • Dishes probably SHOULD be done every week—at least. Leave those dirty pots and pans in the sink for the few days and your apartment will have a new scent.
  • Actually, don’t use pots and pans at all and don’t cook at all. There is enough free food and underclassmen with dining plans to make this work.
  • Study less. All those hours you spend in seclusion are hours you are missing with your best friends.
  • Go to the gym more. This will be the nicest free gym you ever have in your life, and if I know you, the most you will take advantage of is its smoothies.
  • Be nocturnal. You immediately lose this ability after you graduate.
  • Some people will give you the advice to “never graduate.” This is great horrible advice. You did go to college to get a degree, after all. Plus, if you never graduate, you never get to take awesome graduation pictures.
  • Lastly for now: you’ll learn a lot in college. A lot about love, a lot about heartbreak, a lot about coffee and the sunrise and margin sizes, a lot about the world that has yet been opened to you, and a lot about the amazing people you’ll meet and come to call your truest friends.

Mess it up. Suck it up. Live it up! Enjoy your college adventure, and congratulations on your accomplishments, Class of 2013!

TRUE LIFE | I’m addicted to free food

Through the tumultuous, ever-changing years of our 20s, there is one thing that we will always be able to count on: our addiction to free food.

I didn’t realize how far gone my own addiction was until this spring. Since I am a college admissions counselor, my stomach is still trapped in the environment where there are many temptations to eat free food. It turns out that it is always “stomach over mind” when it comes to these temptations, which became ever more clear last week.

For the past month or two, our office has been organizing our own overnight stay program for prospective students. We invite them to campus, bring them to different activities throughout the day like a class, a tour, lunch, bowling, etc. Then at 5pm the high schoolers meet their college student “hosts” and we send them off for the night with a box of pizza and a warning about curfew.

Last week, it was 5:15, our students were gone, and we were left looking at a tower of full, white pizza boxes, exuding the heat and aroma of Papa John’s.

Three pizzas were set aside to bring back to our officemates. Then one was taken by a coworker to “feed” his four-month old. Then suddenly, the group of young admissions counselors were grabbing the cardboard boxes like they were the last food on earth. Even after we each had called dibs on one, there were still pizzas left over.

I grabbed another. “My boyfriend might want one,” I mumbled, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be seeing him that night. I just couldn’t help myself. It was “free.”

So there I was, driving home with my friend Papa John in my passenger seat. Not one, but TWO whole pizzas for a 22-year-old girl who historically only ever eats two slices. But again—they were free!

Papa John's

However, on my drive home, I started to feel guilty. Maybe I didn’t need all that pizza. I parked in front of my apartment complex. It was a warm day and a bunch of neighborhood kids were playing soccer on the small patch of grass in front of the parking lot.

“Maybe I can give a pizza to them,” I thought as I climbed out of my car. It wasn’t a bad idea—little kids like pizza. Everybody likes pizza. But then I thought that no, it might not be smart to offer this food to these kids. Wasn’t it the first rule your mom taught you, to never take Papa John’s from strangers?

So I kept walking, two pizzas in hand.

Next, I turned the corner to head toward my building. As I rounded the bend and stepped into the courtyard, I looked up and saw a creeper-photo-worthy scene. At the building across from mine, there stood a young boy (probably 11 or so) standing under a cherry blossom tree in full bloom. He was looking up to the third floor balcony, where a young girl was smiling and talking to him. It was a modern day Romeo and Juliet.

“Now this,” I thought, “would be a great person to give a pizza to.” I could give the box to little Romeo and he could give it to his Juliet. I mean, what’s more romantic than free pizza?

But then I kept thinking. That whole exchange probably wouldn’t be romantic at all. The only time I’ve ever heard of people using pizza for romance was when Mia apologizes to her crush in The Princess Diaries.

Princess Diaries pizza

Props to anyone who remembers this from the movie

I sighed and turned into my apartment building. I unlocked the door and dropped the two free pizzas on the kitchen table, yelling to my roommate to take some. But I knew that really, I had failed and given into the free food temptation all day.

My addiction—our addiction—to free food is just going to have to be something we live with (and live on). Food tastes and just feels so much better when it’s free.

I know for me, it’s going to be a while before I get over my addiction. I know that because when I woke up to my phone alarm the next morning, I thought it was someone calling about a pizza delivery!

True story.

 Pizza

You know you’re a Terp if…

Once you start going to Maryland, it’s hard to get away.

When you see anything with the Maryland flag pattern, you’re like:

You hear there’s going to be an inch of snow, and you’re like:

You honestly believe that a turtle can scare people.

At football and basketball games, you put your hands up…and they stay there:

When you eat Old Bay you’re like:

But when you and your friends hear about free food on campus, you’re like:

Getting up early feels like this:

image

But sometimes you’ll have this great moment in class and you’re like:

This Turtle Just Realizes The Absurdity of Existence

A day at the mall can mean this:

or this:

turtles on the McKeldin Mall

Let’s face it–you and your Terp friends are tight:

And that’s how you know you’re gonna be a Terp for life.

 Animated Gif on Giphy

Home Sweet Apartment Building

Those of us just starting out in life often find that the only way to have a home is to share it. And I’m not talking about when we’re just born and get placed in those little plastic bins in the waiting room with all the other babies. I’m talking about living in an apartment and sharing your home: sharing your apartment building.

After growing up in a suburban house on a half acre of land, making an apartment my home was new for me. When you walk into an apartment building, you have this forced, shared experience with people who share your building but who you most likely have never met.

For example, many days I walk in and smell dinner cooking next door. I wasn’t really in the mood for any food when I walked in, but suddenly, my neighbor’s cooking makes me also want to cook spaghetti. Of course sometimes, one neighbor is cooking fish and the other is smoking on their balcony, and I don’t have any control over these simultaneous smells. Then I unlock my apartment door and don’t want to cook at all.

Sometimes my mood changes because of my mysterious neighbors. Last night some couple had a very large fight outside my window and I wanted to help. Many mornings I hear the upstairs shower turn on as I’m getting ready for mine, and then I think, Yes. We are all in this early hour together. 

Sharing sounds and smells with strangers is weird, but it definitely makes home life more interesting. Maybe I will learn those Spanish songs they blast next door someday–gracias, amigos. Gracias.

Red Velvet Cupcake Surprise

One of my goals this year is to cook more. It’s cheaper and if I have time, why not? Recently it was my friend’s birthday and we surprised her at her apartment. I decided to be a little adventurous with the cupcakes I brought and I love the way they turned out! They require very few ingredients, and since I could make them, they are idiot-proof.

Anyway, in my experience, no one reads the actual writing part of a recipe post, so let’s just get to the important stuff:

Red Velvet Cupcake Surprise

(Red Velvet Cupcakes with Oreos or Red Velvet Cupcakes with Chocolate Chips)

Red velvet cupcake with Oreo

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cupcake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 Oreo cookies (I used Winter Oreos that had red Double Stuf icing)

Icing Ingredients:

  • Mix from Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cupcake box
  • 4 tsp. water
  • 1/2 stick of butter (softened)

Red Velvet Cupcake ingredients

Directions (***from Duncan Hines box*** plus my additions):

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Line muffin pans with baking cups (I had enough batter for 16 cupcakes).

3. Drop Oreos into the bottom of a few baking cups. I made half of mine with Oreos but go wild! Make as many as you want!

red velvet cupcakes with Oreos

4. Empty contents of large pouch into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, water, and oil.

red velvet cupcake mix

5. Pour the batter over the cupcake liners that have Oreos in them. Fill each to about 1/2 full.

6. Add in chocolate chips to batter and fold in. Then distribute batter into remaining cupcake liners to about 1/2 full each.

7. Bake in center of even for 20-25 minutes.

8. In the meantime, start the icing! (Gotta give my boyfriend credit for the icing when we made it, especially since I don’t have an electronic mixer =]). (Also, if you don’t get this specific Duncan Hines mix, you can always make your own cream cheese icing!)

9.  Duncan Hines icing instructions: Mix softened butter with electric mixer on high 1 min until light and fluffy. Slowly add frosting mix to butter while mixing on low speed. Add water while mixing on low speed. Scrape sides of bowl. Mix on high for 2 min.

10. Once the cupcakes are finished, let them cool 5-10 in the pan, then take them out and let them cool completely.

11. Ice the cupcakes–you can try to be fancy, or just use a knife to spread it like we did!

12. Enjoy your cupcakes–you can either try to separate the Oreos and chocolate chip ones, or mix them together and make each new cupcake a surprise!

Red velvet cupcake