Monthly Archives: August 2014

First Time FaceTime Friday

It started with a SnapChat.

Amber had sent it, and the photo that encapsulated my phone’s screen for 10 seconds displayed three of my former suitemates, all together, back at school.

I was the only one missing.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I knew I’d soon be back on campus with them, but since I already graduated, looking at this image made me feel empty.

Last semester, the four of us started Roommate Recap, which is pretty self-explanatory. Every time the four of us were all together in the suite, we’d sit down just to chat and share what each of our busy schedules had planned for us. This gave us time to relax, kept me sane while writing my thesis, and also formed the basis for lasting friendships. 

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Me, Monica, Amber, and Taylor at one of our last Roommate Recaps, when we went out to dinner.

This year, I’m living in an entirely different state, and my three former roommates are all living in separate housing on campus.

As I continued to SnapChat Amber about how much I missed them and school, Monica decided to FaceTime me.

I’ve had my iPhone for five months now and had never used this function, despite the fact that I’ve spent countless hours video chatting with friends and family on Skype. 

I was overwhelmed with emotion when three beautiful faces popped up on my phone. It was the first time we’ve all “seen” each other together since May. 

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A sceenshot from our FaceTime!

I was so delighted that we were continuing our tradition of Roommate Recap with me being so far away and all of our busy schedules. However, along with those feelings of happiness, I was also very sad.

For the first time, it really hit me that I’m not going back to school. It’s over. Done. 

Even though the four of us had never FaceTimed before, our conversation flowed naturally. It seemed like we hadn’t even been apart. We talked about our summers and what our plans are for the coming year. It was great to catch up just like old times. 

I guess you could say my first time FaceTime-ing was bittersweet. While I was both happy and sad to video chat with my friends, I didn’t really like how FaceTime works. For starters, I felt like I had to hold my phone directly in front of my face so that my head didn’t look huge. And it was also strange that when I looked at my friends talking to me, it didn’t appear as if I were looking straight at them, but rather to one side (due to the fact that I was holding my phone in landscape).

But, like anything in life, it will get better with time — it just takes getting used to. I’m sure that I’ll be more comfortable next time I FaceTime.

Although I know I’ll see my friends in just a few weeks when I drive up to visit for alumni weekend, things will never be like they were last year. No longer are we four girls living within feet of one another and sharing a bathroom. Now we’re four friends who will do anything just to sit down together and chat. 

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Our last in-person Roommate Recap, when Tim decided to join us. 


Is Humanity Against Michelle Obama’s Arms?

Did that title spark your attention? Then chances are you already know where this is going.

I’m talking about Cards Against Humanity, which might be the college card game. It’s crude, hilarious and meant to be played with friends.

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In my three years at school, I never got around to playing this game. Only one of my friends had it, and I was never available when he wanted to play.

A few weeks ago I went to hang out with Stephanie, a friend I’ve known since grade school. After catching up over her homemade egg rolls (check out her recipe and marvel at the gorgeous photographs here: we sat down with a few of her co-workers and friends to play Cards Against Humanity.

I was a little worried at first, considering I know how sexual this game can get. And it didn’t help that I only knew Stephanie and her sister — the other four guests were strangers to me. Luckily, I have played Apples to Apples before, so understanding how the game is played wasn’t a problem.

In case you don’t know: Everyone is dealt seven white cards with “answers” printed on them. One by one, each person takes a turn drawing a black “question” card. The other players each put one white card in the pile in response to that question. The individual who pulled that question then selects one answer card as the winner. The winner gets the black card, and the player with the most black cards wins. 

When it’s your turn in Apples to Apples, you usually pick the (red, noun) card that most fits the (green, adjective) description. But in Cards Against Humanity, there are no straight rules for choosing a card. 

Some people select the card they find the most funny, others pick the one that’s most out-of-the-box. This is why it’s more enjoyable to play with people you know.

Admittedly, I didn’t understand some of Stephanie’s friends’ senses of humor. Earlier in the evening, they had been discussing the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie and comic books, a conversation I just couldn’t contribute to.

It didn’t help that I’m not caught up on my lingo and pop culture, either. (Skeletor? What is that?) But the more rounds we played and the better I got to know everyone, the more fun the game became.

In my hand, I almost always had a variety of people, things and actions. Here’s one I snapped a photo of.

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One of my favorite question cards came when I drew “When I am a billionaire, I should erect a 50-foot statue to commemorate _______” although I didn’t quite have the same liking for every response I got to that question.

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I don’t remember which I ended up choosing, but I bet it was between “A bitch slap” and “Lunchables.”

Probably THE best card I drew was “Five-Dollar Footlongs” which made me howl in laughter because the Subway commercial has turned into a huge inside joke with a friend on my high school track team.

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At the end of the night, when we all counted up how many black cards we had earned, I was surprised that I had the most (15!). While I did earn quite a few, I didn’t think I won more than the other players.

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I won by one card, making it a close win, but a win nonetheless; some would call that beginner’s luck, but I’d like to think Humanity was just on my side (and perhaps explains why Humanity may be against a certain First Lady’s arms).

Nepal + Sunsets + Friendship = Lapsy

My taste buds recently went on a trip to Nepal, and without a passport.

I was so happy to finally reunite with my friend, Prahelika, who spent three weeks this summer in Nepal visiting family. As we raced along the highway on a last-minute decision to view the quickly setting and absolutely stunning sunset from the mountains, she told me about her adventures. 

As we parked at the top of the plateau, we realized we had just missed the sun, but could still watch the sky as it turned from shades of blue to bright pink and finally gray.

Prahelika brought with her this baggie, and even though I spotted it when she first stepped in my car, I didn’t ask about it.

As we stared at the sky, she asked if I wanted to try Lapsy. I had no idea what it was.

She explained that Lapsy is a fruit grown in Nepal, and is often turned into sweet and sour candies. 

I was all in.

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Prahelika laughed at how ridiculous I looked trying to take my own picture while tasting the candy/fruit. And let’s face it, I do look like a baby in this photo.

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Prahelika tried to imitate me, but came out looking far better!

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I didn’t find it spicy, as it often is, and I didn’t think it was sour, either. It was definitely sweet, but not as sugary as American candy.   

It was a soft candy, and the center was squishy like jelly. I liked it. 

Prahelika and I had a great night catching up and even got a few nice shots of the sunset, which fell just behind the Mohonk Mountain House.  

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Even though I won’t be visiting Nepal anytime soon, I will always remember the small sample Prahelika brought me.  

Pay Or Play?

I’ve been working 40 hours a week for six weeks. Although my job isn’t always hard in the sense that I’m constantly busy, it does get tiring, hot and repetitive. 

It’s summer and I’m cleaning my middle school; if it’s 90 outside, it’s easily 100 degrees plus on the second floor. I usually work with one other girl, but for the last three weeks she was on vacation; my boss expected me to do the work of two people in the same amount of time by myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful to have a job, but like any job, it’s not always fun.

And although school wasn’t always fun, I had perfect attendance for 12 of my 15 years of education. I only ever missed days for funerals, my same-day surgery, and that one time I got sick during the school year and not on the weekend or Christmas vacation.

So far in life, I have worked six different jobs. I’ve only called out sick once, when I had strep throat. You could say I’m a committed person. 

Despite my near-perfect record, I decided I needed a day of fun last Friday. For the first (and predictably last) time, I played hooky. 

I felt guilty about calling out sick without notice. And I don’t even have either of my bosses’ numbers to call out. So I went to work and finished what I had started, then asked to leave at break time. 

Although I genuinely wasn’t feeling my best (a part of it was definitely guilt), I had no plans to sit on my couch and binge watch TV. Instead, my mom and I went to the county fair. 

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I can’t remember the last time I went to the fair; it was well over seven years ago.

We arrived just as the gates were opening, which gave us prime parking. I thought it would be a lot less crowded than a weekend, but since it was Friday, the tents and walkways were packed with summer camp kids. 

My mom and I walked around, scoping things out. We looked at the animals — baby goats, horses, rabbits and cows — and the vendor tents. 

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When the rides finally opened, we went around the Ferris Wheel to see the set-up from the sky. It also provided a great view of the mountains! 

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My mom wanted to go on all of the rides. I’m not a huge fan of amusement park rides, but I will go on them, so long as they don’t go upside down. 

We went on one ride that swung side to side, then went in a complete circle, but kept you sitting upright at all times. The very first dip was a doozy on the stomach, but then didn’t even phase me. My mom, on the other hand, was screaming “oh my God” the entire two minutes the ride lasted. I thought it was hilarious. After that, she no longer wanted to go on all of the rides. 

As expected, we ate greasy fair food for lunch. We had hot dogs and chili cheese chips with 4-H milkshakes. 

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After, we went on more rides and enjoyed everything the fair had to offer. I even saw one of my co-workers with his family, which made me feel not-as-bad for skipping out on work.

We left just before the huge thunderstorm hit, breaking the increasing heat and humidity. Although I didn’t work and therefore won’t get paid for that Friday, it just so happened to be payday, making my sick day all the more plausible (who goes home sick on payday?!), and endlessly bittersweet.   

Spreading The Love

This post is embarrassing, but only because of the timing. If I had done this First Time Friday earlier, it wouldn’t be so bad. But time has gone by — literally evaporated into the air — and in the end, writing about this now is better than some unknown time in the future.

Let me explain.

I’ve worked with the company The World Needs More Love Letters for the last six months. Our goal is to spread love around the world through handwritten letters.

Check us out, we’re awesome!

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Look, there I am!

One of the biggest campaigns we organize is the Love Letter Bundles, where we encourage as many people as possible to send a love letter to a specific person, showering him or her with kind words, love and inspiration.

I’ve been getting the email list of letter requests (found here: for months, but never actually sent a letter until today.

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I started writing letters in the second grade, sending little notes to my grandma who lived one town over from me. And when my friends and I moved away to college, I sent letters to keep in contact. Over the years, I’ve sent a ton of letters, and frequent the post office.

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Several people have told me how much they love my notes. Many have said that they came at the perfect time, when they least expected it, and that it made their day.

So why has it taken me so long to write a love letter to a stranger?

When I was in college, writing my thesis and going to class, it was easy to understand how I missed the Love Letter Bundle deadlines. But I’ve been home for over two months. No excuses.

I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t know what to say to strangers — I am by no means a good conversationalist. Some of the letter requests I struggle to relate to; I have no experience with the Armed Forces, nor have I had a personal connection of struggling with disease.

Beyond that, many of the people nominated for love letter bundles are mothers, fathers, sisters and friends. I have a mother, a father and friends I can relate to. So what difference is there? Again, no excuses.

Yesterday I decided that enough was enough. A change was in order. I dug around in my ottoman until I found the “every occasion” stationary I bought on sale last month, and sat down once and for all to pen a love letter to a complete stranger.

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At first I didn’t know what to write.

I’ve never been good at complimenting other people, or even praising their work. Doing so is one of my biggest challenges, but I’m aware of it and working to change myself for the better. Along the way, making others feel loved and appreciated has gotten easier, but I wouldn’t say it’s natural for me to easily share with others the positive thoughts I have about them.

No excuses.

I scrolled through the current list of letter requests and found one I thought I could really speak to. I chose to write to this person over any of the others because I found her the easiest to relate to.

What I wrote was very general. I wished her well, explained that the bad days help us appreciate the good days and reaffirmed that she is loved. Lastly, I told her to always remember how she feels in this moment, as she reads through her bundle of letters.

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I love decorating the envelopes with stickers!

I did it. I wrote my first love letter to a stranger.

And it felt good. It felt like I was making someone’s day.

I had always thought I needed to directly relate to those I communicate with. What I discovered is that it’s not necessary to find a direct point of connection to the recipient. Love translates across all differences.

The act of sending a love letter is the connection. It’s you saying, “Hello, you are loved and appreciated” and the recipient accepting that love. You don’t necessarily have to bond with someone before you spread love and happiness their way.

Now, I challenge you to write a love letter of your own, whether it be to someone you know or a total stranger.