Not Your Birthday

That’s right. Because it’s mine!!! 😀 (prepare for a picture overload!)

My, my, my, it has been one hell of a year. Who even was I last August 14th? I had braces and long hair. I was still in high school. I had different friends. I was positive I would be moving to New York right about now. I was afraid of Ms. Caluya, the AP English teacher at my high school. I was bleeding red and white; I was an Indian.

Now, I am brace-free with short hair. I am going to college. I have a tiny friend group that I adore. I am staying in California for college. I am still afraid of Ms. Caluya–but I love her! I bleed green and gold; I am a Mustang.

There is nothing too special about turning nineteen, I know, but I am so unbelievably excited. I have felt this way about every birthday since middle school. As people get older, they begin to dread their birthdays because it is a sign of them getting older. Not me. Not right now at least. I cherish my birthdays. I celebrate them. Why? Because I am alive to experience them.

Three years ago, my sixteenth birthday was my goal. If I could make it to my sweet sixteenth year, I could do anything. Each month came with an encouraging message I wrote in my planner in advance. As you can see, I made it to that day. Each birthday is a milestone for me because I lived another year; I didn’t let depression beat me. The Dark Place didn’t consume me.

I am truly thankful for so many things today: my family and my friends, of course; my return to faith; and honestly, every single person that I have interacted with in the last nineteen years. Each individual I have come into contact with has affected me in some way, whether noticeable or not. I am even grateful for my depression and the people who fueled that fire because I am so much stronger now. I know that I can overcome massive obstacles in life. I feel like I can take on anything!

I have been on so many adventures in the past year and I cannot appreciate them more than I do right now. Let’s take it through the seasons:

SUMMER (just August and September, though)

I worked the extended part of summer camp, which I am currently doing again this week! I loved my munchkins; it was much easier than dealing with them all day and then extra hours after camp. I loved (and am loving now) every minute of it, and not just because I got paid.

Then school started, and I was so ready for senior year. I was prepared to kick its ass. Right off the bat, I adored Econ–and my teach was totally awesome. Even now, I bring Econ concepts into my everyday life! Remember? People are motivated by incentives. Needing to graduate and go to college was my incentive for going to class.

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First day of senior year!

Then came my very last Pali, which is a camp the entire choir program goes to. It is three days of intense singing and dancing sessions. And the food is great! As much as I was ready for it all to end, it was bittersweet. On Saturdays, we had our own SNL show, and the seniors in my choir sang a medley of throwback songs like the Kim Possible and That’s So Raven theme songs. It was truly great!

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My Sound Sensations ❤

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Our senior SNL act 🙂

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Autumn

This was the time of my last BOB (Burroughs on Broadway) show. Again, it was bittersweet. Choir shows are always extremely stressful, so I was glad to have one down and three to go! It was fantastic to spend all that time with my fellow seniors.

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Then came the concert that changed my life; it was the first time I saw the Maine. Edie dragged my sister and I along, but we ended up absolutely adoring the band! I had never been one to love–or even like–punk rock, but something was different about these five men. I still don’t know what it is, but I cannot stop listening to them. I love listening to their songs, and their lyrics mean a lot to me. The members are also totally awesome and genuine.

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With John!

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With Garrett ❤

On Halloween, I went trick-or-treating–yes, I know. I just can’t say no to free candy! Plus, it was probably the last time I could ever go candy hunting. Looking younger than eighteen helped grow my stash.

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I made an adorably cute Minnie Mouse 🙂

Then came October 23rd, the day I finally got my braces off. Three years of not eating caramel apples almost killed me. I had smooth teeth at last! Just in time for my last homecoming dance.

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Brace-freeeeeeeee!!

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I spent Thanksgiving with my family, no surprise. My dad has always made these to-die-for bread rolls that I could eat every day for the rest of my life. Dinner, as usual, was positively delicious; I could barely eat another bite for what seemed like days! Pie is also my favorite dessert of all time: pecan, apple, pumpkin, you name it! And I truly was thankful for everything I had in my life.

Then college applications were officially due. I applied to so many schools and worked my ass off on my essays and supplements. Chapman, USD, Seton Hall, Ithaca, Manhattanville, Elon, Seattle, Santa Clara, Sonoma State, Cal State Channel Islands, UC Davis, and you all know: Cal Poly SLO! But which one would I choose? The right one would find me and everything would pay off soon enough.

Next was my last ever fall finals week. I crammed for each of my tests and projects. I got that A in Econ I strived so hard for!

In December, the holiday choir show took place. My choir sang “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which I love. Every year, the entire VMA (Vocal Music Association) sings a beautiful arrangement of “Silent Night” and all the alumni in the audience come onstage and sing with us. It is a really great performance and moment. If I were to ever return to my high school for a choir show, it would be to sing that number.

Winter

I got my first college acceptance letter on eDecember 20th. It was from Seton Hall, which was my first choice at the time. I was at Disneyland when my mother texted me a picture of the massive envelope. She opened it and sent me pictures of the “congratulations” letter and another about a $22,000 per year scholarship. I cried and my friends announced it to everyone around us. I was ecstatic!

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In honor of getting into college that day!

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The day after Christmas, I flew to the airport in Oakland, got picked up by Natalie’s mom, and surprised her for her birthday (which was December 14th). She was so shocked that she cried. I loved seeing her reaction–it’s probably on video somewhere. I spent the rest of vacation up there, including New Years, meaning I wouldn’t get my New Years’ kiss 😦 Regardless, I wouldn’t have traded the mini vacation for anything.

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The beginning of January signaled Camp Crags, another choir camp. This one was only for the advanced choirs, so there was much less fun and much more work. We were getting ready for competition season, so that meant getting serious about our set.

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They called this the “Vagina Tree”

This month, I also saw the Maine again! They had an acoustic show and it was utterly flawless. Once again, the band members came out of the small venue to meet all of their fans. They are seriously the sweetest guys in the world. The lead singer complimented my flannel and called us twins because he was clad in one, too. I fell in love all over again.

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With Kennedy

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John again!

In February, I took my first trip to New York! Well, New Jersey, but still, I did visit the city. I wanted to visit Seton Hall before I sent in my confirmation of enrollment. When I saw the school, it was covered in snow, but that wasn’t the part that turned me off. I could handle the snow; however, I just didn’t feel right on the campus.

loved the city so much. We went to the 9/11 Memorial, which was gorgeous and touching. We stopped by Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall and then Times Square. I fell head-over-heels in love. My college years wouldn’t be spent here, but graduate school at NYU or Columbia sounded pretty nice.

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My first time in the snow!

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The downside to the trip was that I missed Valentine’s Day, my first with a boyfriend. He had gotten us Imagine Dragons tickets for the day of love and I couldn’t go. They are one of my favorite bands. In the end, it wasn’t all bad because he found good priced tickets for a show in January and took my brother to the one on the 14th.

Winter also meant Pop Show, the biggest choir show of the year. Practices every day for two weeks and non-stop rehearsing our dances. It was the most stressful time of the show choir year. The performance was perfect, though, per the usual. I enjoyed it all, which was great because I’d never get to experience it again.

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Steph and I were “prop girls” for Men @ Work, the all mens choir at my school.

Spring

The school year is ending soon and all my acceptances (and one wait-listed letter) had arrived, no big deal or anything. But which one would I choose? I still didn’t know.

My mother made me take a tour of Cal Poly. Natalie met us there; we were texting and both of us only went on the trip to see each other. By the end of the day, we had fallen completely in love with the school (can you tell I fall in love a lot?). I do not know how I ever doubted going there.

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By spring break, when I was in Big Bear with Stephanie, I was ready to commit. In just a few months, I would be Mustang! Big Bear was one of the best trips ever. It was just the two of us and Steph’s dad. We went sledding and bowling and to a play. It was so much fun, and I needed that girls’ time more than anything.

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Ap Tests were also approaching quickly, oh dear! I was taking four this year, so that meant $360 on the line. It also seemed like every one of my teachers had a project due within the same week. I was making presentations more times than I could count! As someone who is terrified of public speaking, I was in hell. However, it actually got easier. By the last week of school, I was only slightly panicky, as opposed to nearly peeing my pants and passing out.

We also went to Nashville for show choir Nationals. I adore the country music capital, so I was in heaven. We went country line dancing and toured the city. We got to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, and I about died. I cried onstage. We also recorded two of our songs in Studio B, which is where Elvis recorded all of his hits. It was beyond perfect. We got second place, which hit us hard because we don’t lose; we are national champions. Call us what you want, but we are good.

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In Studio B 🙂

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Our prom theme was “A Night at Gatsby’s” and it was amazingly fantastic. Our ASB did a wonderful job. Though I am not one for dancing, and my now ex-boyfriend hates dances, I had a fabulous time. And I adored my dress. It was a night to remember.

I didn’t go to any after parties, though. We went home and fell asleep. Oops! That is okay though, I needed sleep because I hadn’t been getting very much. I am glad at how I spent the night. I would not have had fun at a party, even though there wasn’t going to be alcohol. I am not one for drinking. Ever. I have never even had a sip!

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We may be broken up, but our prom pictures were ADORABLE.

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Finally, finals came. And then graduation. I cannot tell you how happy I was to make it that ceremony. Everything I’d worked so hard for had paid off!

Welcome to summer vacation and work! The first week of work, though, I went back to Nashville to the CMA Fest, and let me tell you: IT WAS FABULOUS. I have no words for how much fun I had those four days in the humidity of the south. I met the Property Brothers, which made me nearly pee my pants. Not kidding. I am so in love with those 6’5″ Canadian twins.

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Yes, those are tampon sashes.

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Selfie with Hunter Hayes ❤

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Back to Summer

Work, work and more work. Y’all know the rest.

Wednesday, I had my birthday festivities with Edie and Grace. We went to BJs and gawked at the cute waiters. So what else is new? I love that I have spent so much time with these two girls this summer because I would be so lost without them. I haven’t laughed this hard and this much in too long a time. I can’t believe they are both leaving so soon. By the end of next week, my loves will be gone. What will I do then? I know it’ll be hard to be so far apart from each other, but the friendship we have is forever–and not just because Edie and I are cousins.

Stephanie will join my family for my actual birthday dinner at Islands tonight. Can you say lava cake? Ally will not be joining us, but that is because she is still in high school and has choir prep all week. I told her she can come over for lunch during the first month of school.

My two trios. I love them so much and I do not know how I could’ve gotten through this summer without them. I more than love them.

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Basically, I am another year older, another year wiser, another year better. This is one more year to celebrate life. The life I have worked so hard to keep. This year will be one for the books, but isn’t every year like that?

Happy birthday also to: Steve Martin, Mila Kunis, my cousin Patrick, the grandma I never met, and countless others 🙂

Time to party! -A

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