auld lang syne

This year has been a whirlwind.  Doesn’t everyone say that?  In fact, I would bet that December 31st sees more use of the word “whirlwind” than any other day of the year. Here’s a look at some of my best memories of 2013.

Spring:

In January, I traveled to New York for the second time with my Cicerones mentor Jordan to see the fabulous Mara.  While there, we saw The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Jersey Boys on Broadway.  I also (finally!) saw the High Line in Chelsea, which quickly became one of my favorite spots in the city.  We went ice skating in Bryant Park, saw the Columbia campus, rode bikes in Central Park, marveled at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, saw a Zac Efron movie being filmed, sat on the steps of the Met (Gossip Girl style), and got mistaken for Broadway stars in a piano bar.  (And that’s not even all of it!)  To say this trip was memorable is a vast understatement.

During February, I went with Cicerones to a CASE ASAP District Conference in Atlanta.  This is where ambassadors from all different universities in the southeast come together!  From the lip sync competition to giving a presentation about recruitment with Noah and Kate, I enjoyed this conference even more than the first one I got to attend the previous year in Auburn.  I reconnected with old friends, celebrated Appalorida (our Florida/Appalachian State alliance) and made new friends, one of which I keep in touch with often and who even reads this blog!  (Hi, Sam!)

I spent spring break in March with about 40 of my friends in a beach house in Hollywood, Florida.  This was probably the most typical collegiate thing I’ll ever have done in my university career.  I’ll leave it at that.

In May, I saw many of my close friends graduate from the University of Florida.  I am both thrilled and terrified that it will be me walking across that stage in just a few months.  I also went with the 2012-2013 Cicerones executive board to Islands of Adventure this month.  We drank butterbeer, rode rides and ate dinner at a classy Italian restaurant; it was perfect.

Summer:

I interned, beginning in May, at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.  I spent much of my summer inside this office or at Chamber events, learning not only more about communications but a good deal about small business, startups and local government as well.

I traveled to Nashville about halfway through the summer with my friend Molly.  We went during CMA Fest, so we got to see lots of live music all over the city.  We also went to a Darren Criss show at the Cannery Ballroom, during which I fangirled to his cover of “Teenage Dream” and after which we found ourselves driving directly behind his tour bus.  While in Nashville, I got to spend time with two other amazing ladies: Alex, who was interning at a record label, and Anna, a musician who’d moved there herself just weeks before.

I met up with my family in Seaside for a few days at the beach in the second half of summer. We shopped, swam, rode bikes and soaked up the sun. I’m so lucky to have grandparents who invite me to their beach house vacation every summer!

Fall:

I got a new job as a waitress, watched my beloved Gators suffer a humiliating football season, grew closer to teachers in my college, and completed half of my goals for senior year (post coming soon).

One of the coolest parts of my semester was the number of concerts and shows I went to. Alex loves live music as much as I do, so I always had a buddy whether it was for Ben Rector, The Icarus Account, Landon Austin, Selena Gomez, Capital Cities or just a local Gainesville jazz quartet.  We are already planning the shows we want to see in 2014!

Another special thing was having Mara in Gainesville this semester.  Although she graduated in 2012 (and has been living in New York since then), she returned to care for her brother who is being treated for leukemia.  While the reason for her move wasn’t positive (although, praise the Lord, Christopher is doing very well), I relished having her here for half of my senior year (along with Jordan, Mary Grace and Coleman, the other members of my Cicerones family).

The last big thing this year, which I mentioned in a previous blog, was being a bridesmaid for my mentor Jordan’s wedding just a few weeks ago. I was so honored to get to stand by her side on the big day!  Being a bridesmaid also meant that I got to help host an amazing bachelorette weekend for the bride and her favorite girls at Epcot!  We got special treatment all day in our “Team Bride” shirts; now we just need someone else to get engaged so we can re-wear them and go to a different park!

I’m entering 2014 as a 22-year-old college senior with just a handful of months (and only two classes left) in my University of Florida career.  I’m eager for the adventure, changes and travels that lie ahead.

holiday breaks: the thompson way

malloryreidMerry Christmas!  I’m home for a few days celebrating my favorite holiday with my family.  I hope you are having a splendid, cozy holiday with your loved ones as well!

One of my favorite things about being home in Pensacola is the chance to hang out with my younger brother Reid.  He’s 7 years younger than me and we’ve been extremely close forever.  So close, in fact, that he sleeps on a trundle bed in my room when I’m home.  (Not normal, I know.)

Allow me now to paint a portrait of what a typical visit at home with my younger brother looks like (this post will coincidentally serve as an explanation for why I’m single).

First of all, we spend most of our time in “the lair,” aka my bedroom.  We take snacks with us to the lair every night and lock ourselves inside, only emerging when we can no longer put off a need to go to the bathroom.  Bear in mind that these aren’t just any snacks…we go to Tom Thumb every single night.  We buy candy bars, Icees, etc.  These are the treats worthy of the lair.

We then watch Gossip Girl or Aquamarine (seriously, we’ve probably watched this movie 100 times) on a laptop until one of us accuses the other of falling asleep and we turn on the television.

These are just our nighttime activities, though.  During the day, we have other pastimes, such as shopping at Target, perusing Barnes and Noble or getting beverages from fast food restaurants.

Clearly, we’re the pictures of health and fitness.  And fiscal responsibility.  (Side note: Reid has single-handedly milked me for probably $500 of food and drink in the last five years.  It’s alarming and impressive.)

The thing is, I’m actually happiest spending my Christmas break drinking Coke and fighting over chocolate-covered pretzels with my younger brother.  I guess these aren’t the standard nighttime activities of a 22-year-old, but then what about me is standard?

With that, I’m being summoned to the lair for a quick Netflix binge before lunch.  So, until I leave on Friday, if you need me, I’ll be there (or at Tom Thumb).  Merry Christmas!

2(7) dresses

As I peruse Facebook, amid the “so humbled and honored” posts where friends brag about their new jobs and the “look at this amazing place I went to that you’ll never see” travel posts that worsen my wanderlust, I see them: the engagement and wedding posts.  I am officially at that age.

This past weekend I had my second experience as a bridesmaid.  The first time was last December, when I was a bridesmaid in my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding.  This time, I was a bridesmaid for my friend (and mentor) Jordan.

Here’s the thing–I absolutely LOVE love.  It’s evident to those who know me.  I cried when Jordan and Evan got engaged; I cried when they rehearsed their walk down the aisle; I cried when Evan arrived to the B&B and Jordan had to hide so he wouldn’t see her…the list goes on.  Seeing two people so in love and so incandescently happy makes my heart overflow with joy.

However, I was reminded as the DJ ordered all of us fun, single girls off the dance floor and called on the “couples in the room” that I am not in love.  Ugh.

I’m perfectly happy being single most of the time, except in moments like that.  Moments where I feel utterly alienated because I lack a better half.  On one hand, I feel comforted by the other girls sitting around me, forced off the dance floor with me in their singleness.  On the other hand, I feel sad knowing that they’re probably just as hyperaware of their loneliness in that moment as I am.

At this point, I have accepted the fact that I will quite possibly wear 27 dresses before I get to wear that one special dress.  I’ve got two down, 25 to go.  However, I cling to the hope that my James Marsden character will come in the middle of all the bridesmaid-ing and sweep me off my feet (but hopefully not publicly humiliate me in journalistic pursuits).

Don’t get me wrong; I recognize the pros of being unattached.  When I graduate in May, I have no strings tying me down.  I can go on a spontaneous trip at any moment without telling anyone first.  I can flirt with any random (single) guy, ever.  But it’s hard to get excited about these things when you’re sipping sweet tea out of a mason jar, watching beaming couples slow dance under sparkly lights.

A boy named Michael Jones told me in the fifth grade something that I’ve never forgotten.  He said, “You are the most intimidating girl at our school.  That’s why boys don’t like to talk to you.”  Not much has changed.  I still have what I’m told can be a very intimidating personality.  Everyone says “it” happens when you aren’t looking, but let’s be honest: everyone is looking.  We are designed to love and be loved.  While I am by no means actively scouting a better half, I’m am hoping that one of these days, the right boy will talk to me.  And when he does, I’ll have a heck of a lot of bridesmaids ready.

PS- Christian Mingle, you can stop emailing me now.  I’m nowhere near rock bottom.

21 things that 21 taught me

In honor of turning 22 today, I thought I’d reflect on some of the things I learned while I was 21.

21. Pants are always optional.  You don’t have to wear them at home and in public you can wear skirts or dresses (or substitute leggings as pants if you’re that kind of girl).

20.  Have an arsenal of playlists ready for any occasion.  You never know when you’ll need “driving,” “songs about love” or “harmony.”

19. If hair is dirty, clean, tangled, smooth, pitiful or pretty…it can and should go in a high bun.

18. Sub sandwiches can comprise 50 percent of your diet.  You’ll be fine.

17. TWINKLY LIGHTS ARE GOD’S GIFT TO BARS AND RESTAURANTS.  Seriously.  Why would you ever sit indoors when there is a sparkly paradise outside?

16. Laundry is overrated.  Don’t do it.

15. Cooking is overrated.  Don’t do it.

14.  …unless you’re a guy reading this and you like laundry and/or cooking and in that case let’s get married.  21 has taught me that I need to find someone who can help me meet my basic needs once I live somewhere with no Larry’s.

13. Forget what your parents taught you.  Talking to strangers rocks.

12. Have at least one person in your life who speaks with a foreign accent.  It’ll serve as a reminder that hotness, I mean adventure, is out there.

11.  College in your pajamas is a thing; it’s called online classes.  Game.  Changer.

10.  You know someone has become your close friend when you  no longer feel the need to shove all the crap from your car into your trunk before you pick them up.  Have a seat right on top of it, my pal!

9. If you’re ever truly broke, look on the ground outside of the drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant.  Boom.  70 cents richer.  (Note: you must go at night.  Let the change accumulate throughout the day.)

8. Some say you shouldn’t shop for groceries while you’re hungry; I agree.  Just go to the grocery store, try all the free samples then buy a sub and leave.  No shopping necessary.

7.  You don’t need a boyfriend to be happy.  You just need friends who also don’t have boyfriends.

6.  Don’t fight it.  Allow Netflix to be a part of your routine much like grocery shopping (ha) or the gym (haha).

5.  You can use beach towels as bath towels in non-summer months.  (See #17)

4.  When you feel ugly, look at high school pictures of yourself.  Feel better now?

3.  In need of a serious laugh or cry?  Or the classic laugh-cry?  Go check your bank account.

2.    Know that even if you’re 22, and single, and without any real prospects on the horizon, life still rocks…

1.  …because you’ve learned to be a completely unedited, vibrant, carefree version of yourself.  Life’s too short to be anything else.

Thank you to everyone who has eaten a sub with me, laughed at my misfortunes in love, binge-watched old television shows with me or otherwise supported me as I transition into this 22nd year of adult (gross!) life.  You make the dull parts of life shiny.

the elusive to-go guys

I work at a BBQ restaurant.  Who eats at BBQ restaurants?  (Besides old couples and families, which are pretty great.)

GUYS.  CUTE GUYS.  CUTE GUYS AROUND MY AGE.  Which are pretty great as well.

So every shift of work goes something like this: I wear my inevitably BBQ sauce-stained t-shirt with pants that are slightly unflattering because hey, it’s work, and comfortable, unattractive footwear because, hey, it’s work.  I add a bow or headband to my hair because hey, even though it’s work, my heart is beating so I need a hair accessory.

Then, halfway through my shift, as my hair is coming out of its bun or braid, and the sauce on my shirt is nice and soaked in, and I’m super thirsty and hungry, he walks in.  A guy.  A cute guy.  A cute guy around my age.

He is always alone, and he’s always getting his food to go.  This is a problem.  “Sit, stay a while,” I want to say.  “Perhaps even until 4 p.m. when I get off work?”

But no, the ones who sit and stay a while are the rowdy guys in large groups who use cheesy lines and ask me for 46 different things before leaving an unsurprising 10 percent tip on the table.

These guys–the to-go guys–are the good ones.  Today, like I every day that I work, I said a too-soon goodbye to one of the good ones.  I delayed his departure as much as I could, but the time came when from the kitchen I heard “Order up!” and I just knew.  Knew that I had to let him go.

After all, he had a cat waiting in the car and had just made the drive up from Orlando.  He needed to get home.

And now I sit at home, thinking of Drew (I’m so Taylor Swift-y that I just published his name.  And it really was Drew.) and wondering who the next to-go guy will be when I work again.  At least I can cling to the fact that I know one will come.  They always do.  Perhaps next time I’ll have to guts to invite him to sit and stay a while.  (Or maybe I’ll just kiss my dignity goodbye and take to Craigslist to post an infamous missed connection.)