Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Call To Duty

For the first time, I played Call of Duty on the Xbox with my brother.

I played video games with him a little bit in the past; I guess that’s what happens when summer boredom ensues.

I remember we used to play Crash Bandicoot and Black Hawk Down on his original PlayStation. One time, I beat him SO BADLY playing Black Hawk Down that he couldn’t believe I wasn’t cheating.

But this week I tried out Call of Duty, the game my brother now plays more than any other. He has all 7 of them. We played Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops II.

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I’ll admit I got frustrated because I’m not familiar with the Xbox controls. And it didn’t help that my brother has countless more hours of experience than I do. But I did enjoy the sibling bonding that resulted.

We played a few games against each other, and it wasn’t a complete landslide score-wise. While trying to show me all of the “cool” aspects of the game, I was able to get a couple of cheap shots to gain some points for myself, even though my brother was a clear winner in all of the rounds.

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My brother’s player (displayed in the bottom half of the screen) shows off his gun.

Playing Call of Duty on the Xbox once doesn’t make me want to play video games more, but it does make me wonder what things I will do to spend time with my brother.


Crackin’ The Barrel

Last week, I went to Cracker Barrel for the first time.

My mom and I went to have a big breakfast since I had to take her to a doctor’s appointment that involved an entire days’ worth of fasting; to say the least, we were ready to stuff our faces with the tastes of this country-style eatery.

I was surprised to find a country store as soon as we walked in. At first I thought we had entered through the wrong door and ended up in the store next door, but as it turns out, all of these restaurants are designed like this.

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The very first Cracker Barrel opened in Lebanon, Tennessee. Currently, there are 719 locations around the United States — mostly in the south — and only nine locations in New York State. We ate at their 350th location.

I liked the set-up and design of this restaurant a lot; there was plenty of space on the table and the walls were covered in old photographs and history, which I loved. We had a table near a giant fireplace that added a unique aspect to the dining room.

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My mom and I both got a breakfast combo. I ordered French toast, smoked sausage and scrambled eggs. My mom had pancakes, turkey bacon and eggs.

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Every breakfast comes with a cute little bottle of syrup, which they serve warm. It was adorable! The food was delicious and I was glad I got to have some time with my mom.

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Before we paid the bill, we looked around the shop, which had lots of cute apartment decorations! If only I was returning to college, or else I would have a reason to get some new décor!

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Taste And See: A Search For Faith Continues

I have never liked doing anything alone, and growing up, rarely had to. My twin brother has been through it all with me, from the first day of preschool all the way up to the first day of high school. We’ve had joint birthday parties, took our road tests on the same day and even took some of the same classes in high school, meaning we did our homework together.

When I moved to college, I had to start doing things by myself. Although I prefer running errands with other people, I learned to shop by myself, and even ate a few meals alone in Alliot.

One thing I never thought I’d do alone is attend church. But in May I conquered that fear when I wanted to continue going to Mass and didn’t have anyone who wanted to go with me.

When I found myself in the parking lot of a completely unfamiliar church, even I was shocked to find myself pushing against my own comfort levels.

Last weekend, I went to Sunday morning Mass by myself at St. Joseph’s Church, one town over from where I live.

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I had been thinking about going for a few weeks, but never thought I’d actually do so. Since I’m not Catholic, I usually feel a bit out of place at church, especially at churches I’m not familiar with.

My biggest peeve with the church in my town is that the priest and Eucharistic ministers don’t bless me when I go up for the Eucharist (being a non-Catholic I obviously don’t accept the bread). I also don’t like how the early morning Mass does not have a choir or any singing (they simply recite the words).

Along my summer travels thus far, I was able to attend Mass at a lovely church in Illinois and a beautiful church in Maine that both had great singing and music, and priests that blessed me when I went up for the Eucharist.

I was hoping to find the same at St. Joseph’s.

As I sat in the church parking lot, I realized I didn’t even know where the entrance was. As usual, I was over 15 minutes early, which left a little too much time for my mind to take over, challenging me to face my ever-growing fears and actually go through with this. I was extremely nervous.

When others started to arrive, I followed them with my eyes to figure out which building was the church (it really wasn’t obvious from my vantage point, since the parish office is located in a completely separate building).

I thought about not going and driving back home. But I’m too cheap to waste all of that gas. I figured the worst that could happen was that I’d have an awkward moment, and the chances that I ran into someone I knew were pretty slim, so I had nothing to lose.

After I mustered up enough courage, I started the long walk in. Along the way, the priest came out from the parish office, as he, too, was walking into the church, and he greeted me and asked how I was doing.

Immediately I felt like I belonged. Something reassured me that I was supposed to be there.

Once I found a seat, I said my prayers and took in my surroundings. That’s when I noticed there were no Bibles in my pew. Or any pew.

Apparently you have to get them in the back, but since I came in from a side door, I didn’t know that, and didn’t have one.

Despite that, I ended up enjoying the Mass. They had a piano player and one singer (I actually enjoy piano music). The priest’s homily discussed finding lost faith, and how the parish welcomes those who haven’t been to church or who haven’t prayed in years.

Things were going fine until I was taken for another loop when it came time to go up for the Eucharist. Unlike any of the churches I’ve been to, St. Joseph’s has ushers who direct the congregation, starting with the back pews. Although I was a little slow to realize this, I did go up and received a blessing from the priest, which I was pleased with.

The song they played/sang during the Eucharist was “Taste and See,” one that is familiar to me from St. Mike’s. I knew the words without even needing a book to follow along with.

After Mass, I felt proud of the fact that I had actually gone. I pushed aside all of my fears and uncertainty and decided that I would try to find a church that appealed to me. And I did. I guess all it takes is a little taste for one to see what else exists out there, even if it means doing so alone.

Powerhouse Theater Sends A Powerful Message

I’ve always been a fan of plays and musicals. I’ve seen more than a handful of Broadway musicals and always attended my high school and college theater productions.

Last night my mom and I saw “The Babylon Line,” at the Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College. I had never been there before, and I’m so glad my mom won tickets on the radio.

We had second-row aisle seats, which provided the perfect vantage point of the stage; an estimated 140 people sat behind us.

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The play takes place in 1967 Long Island. It stars a 38-year-old writer who commutes from the city once a week to teach a class of six adult-education creative writing students.

His class consists of a clique of three high-class women, one female recluse, a man affected by his time serving in the Vietnam War and a very quiet but spunky young man.

The actors and actresses all gave phenomenal performances. With their thick New York accents I’m all too familiar with, quick wit and ability to transform characters with only a change of props and mannerisms, there was never a dull moment in this show.

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All of the students have their own writing process and personal revelations. While some are hesitant and seek a specific writing assignment, others find a therapeutic means by writing about their pasts.

With a simple set and creative transitions, “The Babylon Line sends” a strong message to its audience: write because you can and because you have something worth saying.

As a recent college grad who aspires to become a writer, I am inspired by how writing impacted these characters’ lives. Professor Port’s message rang through to me as clearly as it did his one student: take chances and allow yourself to become so passionate that you could shatter the world in a minute.

As one student so successfully turned her life around through writing, I hope my efforts can one day have a similar result.