The Happy List | 6

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury
  2. Sarah J. Maas
  3. ECF
  4. The end of AP exams
  5. Not having an appetite
  6. Finding a new all-time favorite, #1 book for the first time since freshman year
  7. College friends coming home
  8. 70s style
  9. Feeling better about my body
  10. Emotions of all kinds, especially hope
  11. RSVPs
  12. The possibility, however slim, that Lightning players are coming to my grad party
  13. Daydreams
  14. Nighttime dreams
  15. Ear plugs
  16. Lavender sleep mist
  17. An amazing mom
  18. Siblings
  19. Salads
  20. Music, books, and writing that inspire me, that make me feel alive

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

2015 Recap

With the end of one year and the beginning of another, I find that I do a lot of thinking and reflection on the past 365 days of my life. As I was pondering the year 2015, I began to realize just how much happened and changed for me this year. So I thought I’d write a 2015 recap that highlights my, well, highlights, of 2015. Enjoy.

I met Lightning players and got cool, autographed stuff.
This year, I met (and took photos with!) goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and left wing Ondrej Palat. My dad won me a signed, game-used Valtteri Filppula stick at an auction, and I had a few chance run-ins with defenseman Anton Stralman. I also got most of the 2014-2015 team’s autographs at an open practice held in a town nearby.

The Lightning tweeted me. Several times. 
They tweeted me happy birthday on my birthday (the Lightning beat the Dallas Stars). Then they delivered a birthday cupcake to me at my seat a few days later and got the whole row to sing me happy birthday. I tweeted them to thank them and they tweeted me happy birthday again! Later in the year, they retweeted my Black Friday picture with Ondrej Palat. AH.

I joined Lit Up Review
I became a bimonthly contributor for a teen book blog run by a bunch of bibliophiles and fangirls just like me. It’s been a fun experience and has inspired me to write more book reviews/discussions.

I traveled a lot.
I went on five trips this year. First, I visited Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts over spring break in March with my dad. We toured colleges, skied, saw relatives, and attended a Lighting/Bruins game in Boston, as well as a UVM/BC college hockey game. Next, I traveled to Portland, Maine in early July with my mom, dad, and youngest brother. He had a hockey tournament, but on the off-days, we explored Portland and its surrounding area, including a few state parks. Just two days after returning home from Maine, I left with one of my best friends for Europe. But I’ll discuss that trip a bit more below. In September, I traveled to Chicago with my mom, touring colleges and taking a day trip to Indiana to attend my first college football game. The Chicago Blackhawks were also present and the team sat just yards away from us, with the Stanley Cup, no less. Finally, in December for Christmas break, my family of six traveled to Keystone, Colorado to ski for over a week. More on that below.

Zayn left One Direction. 
I think this is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll spell it out anyway. As an avid 1D fan, this was a rocky year. Zayn left the band, the four remaining boys finished their tour and released an amazing new album, and now they’re going on a yearlong break. Sigh.

I was inducted into the Order of the Gold & Black honor society. 
It’s the most selective and prestigious honor society at my school – only twenty juniors get in in the spring. And I was one of them. It’s always nice when your hard work pays off, and getting recognized for it is just a bonus.

The Lightning made the Stanley Cup Final. 
Need I say more? I attended every home playoff game and it was such a blast. Looking back on the 2015 playoffs, it was definitely one of the best times of my life. I have so much love and nostalgia for that period, though going through it was actually very intense and nerve-wracking.

I got job. 
I’ve worked all throughout high school – babysitting, tutoring, swim instructing, and working baseball concessions – but in June I started my first “real” job at a women’s clothing boutique. I think it’s been a valuable learning experience and it’s always nice to have a steady (if meager) income.

I started watching Game of Thrones.
AKA the greatest show on earth. Jon Snow, Jon Snow, Jon Snow. In England, I bought the complete box set of the book series, along with a Funko Pop! and Jon Snow sweatshirt. In Northern Ireland, I got to go on a Game of Thrones filming locations tour. So, so cool. (The cast was actually in the area filming at the time, but we didn’t know until we met a locations scout for the show on the bus back to Dublin.) I can’t wait for season 6!

I visited Europe for the first time. 
I left North America for the first time this year and got to travel to my favorite place on earth: Europe (sorry Canada). I visited Paris, France; London, Oxford, and Cambridge, England; Dublin and Malahide, Ireland; and Belfast, Northern Ireland (along with all the GoT tour stops, like the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge).

My best friends graduated from high school and started college.
Two of my high school best friends left my hometown to begin college this fall and it was very bittersweet. There was definitely an adjustment period I had to go through, as I was so unused to not having them around. But yay for school breaks when they come back to visit!

I became a senior.
It’s actually crazy to think about. I’ve been dreaming of this for years, but when it finally happened I just couldn’t wrap my head around it for awhile. Again, another adjustment period because it was weird at first being the oldest in the school. But now, I’m doing just fine.

I was named a National Merit Semifinalist.
This was something I distantly hoped for, but actually earning this honor was an incredible surprise. It’s opened up scholarship opportunities for me and just makes me happy and proud.

I attended some amazing concerts (key word: some). 
I attended 5 Seconds of Summer’s Rock Out with Your Socks Out Tour with my friend Kathryn in September and it was tons of fun. The highlight of the year though, in terms of concerts, was Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, which featured opening acts Shawn Mendes and Vance Joy (both were phenomenal live). For the not-so-great, I attended The Weeknd’s Fall Madness Tour, which was supposed to open with Halsey. However, she was in the hospital on my tour date. The music was too loud, people were drunk, vaping, and smoking indoors, and, while The Weeknd sounds good live, the show was just a total bust for me.

I concluded my swimming career.
I finished my nearly ten-year stint with competitive swimming at my last high school State meet. I swam really well, medaling in the medley relay and doing two personal best times in the 400 freestyle relay.

The Hunger Games film franchise ended. 
The odds are always in this film franchise’s favor: The Hunger Games films are arguably some of the best book-to-movie adaptations out there. I absolutely adore these movies – the screenplay, actors, acting, characters, plot, everything. The final installment to the series, Mockingjay Part 2, released in November and it was fantastic.

My family took its first family vacation in 2.5 years…
… And survived intact. We traveled to Colorado for Christmas – the first Christmas I’d ever spent outside of my city. We stayed there for nine days in a cozy little condo with a fireplace that warmed us from the -10 degree weather outside. Colorado is breathtakingly beautiful, and I really enjoyed the longer runs down the mountains (as opposed to the northeastern U.S., where I’ve skied in the past). And our private instructor, Will, was awesome!

I applied to colleges. 
What a hellish nightmare. Absolutely awful. 0/10, would not recommend. But seriously, joking aside, it’s not a fun process. I’ve received two acceptance letters and one deferral, but I won’t hear from the majority of schools I applied to until February or March.

Well, that’s it for me and 2015.
What were some of your 2015 highlights? 

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

The Happy List | 4

  1. It’s December.
  2. I can taste the scent of pines on my tongue. Is that strange?
  3. Winter Candy Apple from Bath & Body Works – it’s my favorite scent.
  4. The song Cake by the Ocean by DNCE.
  5. Vlogmas!!! I’m nosy and love getting a peek into the daily lives and refreshing normality of some of my favorite YouTubers.
  6. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. It’s laugh out loud hilarious.
  7. Studying so much that I dream I’m a tree… Thanks, APES.
  8. A Lightning win last night. And hoping that it happens more often.
  9. The unexpected love, support, and overwhelming kindness that people went out of their way to give me this week.
  10. Functional adjustment.

Let me know what’s on your happy list below!

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

Thoughts | 4

1. One year ago today, I attended the One Direction concert in my city. So much has changed since then, yet much has also remained more or less the same.

2. I haven’t gained or lost weight since going vegan over a week ago, but I feel better about my body. Maybe it’s the diet change itself or maybe I just can’t hate this body when it is working so hard to make a difference in the world. But that begs the question: why can’t I simply respect it for keeping me alive?

3.  Halsey is an extraordinary lyrical talent. She is so utterly poetic and raw and she brings images and emotions to life with her vocal chords.

4. The band Bring Me the Horizon named itself after part of the last quote in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when Jack says “Now, bring me that horizon.” I think I might love this small detail more than the band’s music, which, by the way, is fantastic.

5. I have my hopes and my theories, but underneath them all, I am Team Aelin. If you know, you know.

6. I think I’ve finally decided where I’m applying early action and it is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Nothing good will come of it, most likely, but at least I’ll know that I gave it my all.

7. My sister is running for student council at her school and she designed the most adorable posters I have ever seen and when I did see them, I was overcome with a gushy feeling of adoration for her. She was already in bed, but I just wanted to squeeze her. (I did today and she did not take it well.)

8. Lately, I’ve been going by a different name in my head than the one I was born with. It feels normal and right and that’s disconcerting for a girl who’s spent the better part of three years searching for another name that fits her wholly.

9. London is endgame, but what about hockey?

10. I am reluctant to begin writing both essays and blog posts because they are often large emotional, mental, and time commitments. I think that sometimes I just don’t know where to start, or if I do, I fear the process will be draining. But I find (and subsequently forget for the next time) that I actually enjoy writing blog posts and don’t mind writing most essays once I’m in the rhythm of thinking and typing and backspacing and reconsidering and then typing again.

751707090435814070915

2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Wraparound

AH, how it pains me to say this: hockey season is over. It ended on Monday, June 15 when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Chicago won the cup and then: The End. I was planning on doing an extensive recap of the playoffs, including each round, once the season ended but honestly I don’t want to anymore. The 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs were an absolute roller coaster of ups and downs, but they were two of the best months of my life, too. My home team made it all the way to the Final for the first time since 2004, when they won the Stanley Cup. While they didn’t end up taking home the big, coveted hardware this year, I couldn’t be more proud of the players, the organization, and the fans. We had a record-breaking season that was so, so fun to watch and the support this city has shown for the home team has been unprecedented (aside from maybe 2004) and unbelievable.

I’m going to quickly gloss over the rounds and their outcomes:

  1. The Lightning faced the Detroit Red Wings with home ice advantage in the first round. This round was probably the most difficult aside from the fourth because the Lightning struggled to counter the Red Wings’ clutch-and-grab style of play. Bolts won in seven games.
  2. Next, the Lightning found themselves up against the Montréal Canadiens, who swept them in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Lightning won the first three games despite not having home ice advantage, but it took them six to close the Habs out for good.
  3. The third round was the Eastern Conference Final, and the Lightning were up against the 2014 ECF champions: the New York Rangers. This series played out like a track meet, with blowout games followed by tight defensive games. It went all the way to Game 7 in New York, but the Bolts pulled out a big shutout 2-0 win to become the new Eastern Conference Champions. They are the only NHL team to beat three Original Six teams in the playoffs to get to the Final.
  4. And finally, the Lightning faced their fourth Original Six matchup in the Stanley Cup Final: the Chicago Blackhawks. A modern day dynasty, the Blackhawks won in six games, despite the Lightning having home ice advantage. Every game was close, with neither team holding more than a one goal lead at any point until the third period of Game 6, which the Blackhawks won 2-0 to capture the first Stanley Cup for Chicago on home ice since 1938. The Lightning were burdened with injuries in some of their stars, lost their spark, and ran out of gas a little too soon. Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on their third Stanley Cup victory in the last six years. They earned it.

I was fortunate enough to attend every home game during the playoffs. My little brother did the pregame Thunder Skate for the Lightning three times: once during the ECF and twice during the SCF. I got to take him the third time and we sat right across the hall from the Blackhawks’ warmup soccer game. I made my first meme (and second and third) during the playoffs to use on Twitter. My dad flew to Game 6 in Chicago and got to see the Stanley Cup ceremony. The on-ice pregame show was absolutely stunning at every home game. The entire playoffs experience was amazing and I am so incredibly grateful that I got to take part in it, up close and personal. This season and these playoffs have been unforgettable and I can’t wait for October. Go Bolts.

And now, here is a gallery of images from my 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs adventure. Mon Dieu, merci.