Thanks, Mom and Dad

You may have seen my Thanksgiving day post where I not only explained why Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year, but also wrote about the people, places, and things that I am grateful for. Among those people that I am grateful for are my parents, who I had the pleasure of spending some much-needed quality time with this weekend. Between all the glasses of wine, movies, pumpkin pie, shopping, and laughter, I realized just how important my parents have been to my development. I may throw the word “literally” around a lot, but I literally would not be where I am today without them.

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So, as I attempt to recover from my never-ending turkey coma, I will say little prayers for all the things my amazing parents have done for me over the years.

Mom and Dad, thank you for carrying me, feeding me, and changing my diapers before I could do anything for myself.

Thank you for holding my hand.

Thank you for teaching me all of life’s great lessons — from potty training and tying my shoes, to sewing on buttons and parallel parking cars, to language and logic and love of learning.

Thank you for teaching me to be independent.

Thank you for the hours of helping me with homework over the years.

Thank you for answering all of my questions.

Thank you for providing me with a beautiful, safe, and comfortable home.

Thank you for providing me with food, love, and warmth.

Thank you for making my childhood magical.

Thank you for letting me believe in Santa Claus.

Thank you for being there for me through everything, and for letting me know that I can tell you anything.

Thank you for always reminding me how proud you are of me.

Thank you for always reminding me that you love me.

Thank you for loving each other, thereby showing me what love looks like.

Thank you for teaching me to love myself.

Thank you for teaching me to respect myself.

Thank you for teaching me that to gain respect, you must give it first.

Thank you for teaching me to polite.

Thank you for letting me see the good in the world.

Thank you for teaching me to be skeptical.

Thank you for teaching me to be trusting.

Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for knowing what was best for me, even when I didn’t know what was best for myself.

Thank you for giving me my space when I needed it, and for being strict when I needed it.

Thank you for teaching me about actions and consequences.

Thank you for teaching me to have a strong work ethic.

Thank you for teaching me to take pride in who I am and what I’ve worked for.

Thank you giving me my first car, and for sitting in the passenger seat through hours upon hours of frightening behind-the-wheel training.

Thank you for helping me fix my mistakes.

Thank you for putting up with me through mood swings and nervous breakdowns and late-night phone calls.

Thank you for teaching me that it’s okay to cry.

Thank you for teaching me how to laugh at myself.

Thank you for teaching me the importance of learning from my mistakes.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to forgive.

Thank you for always trying to make me happy.

Thank you for letting me be myself.

Thank you for letting me explore.

Thank you for my surprise 13th birthday party, even if it was exactly four months after my actual birthday.

Thank you for creating special memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Thank you for teaching me the value of good etiquette.

Thank you for teaching me the importance of loyalty, honesty, integrity, and faith.

Thank you for fostering my curiosity.

Thank you for pushing me to be the best version of myself.

Thank you for realizing my potential before I ever could.

Thank you for providing me with the emotional, financial, and mental means necessary to go to college.

Thank you for your unwavering support.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for teaching me the importance of education.

Thank you for teaching me that success isn’t all about money.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to be happy.

Thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams.

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My parents with me on my 21st birthday last year. As if I weren’t already tall enough, I just had to wear six-inch heels.

What do you have to thank your parents for? Send me pictures of you thanking your parents and I might retweet you!

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#WolfPackProbs

Any true football fan knows that Sundays are for the NFL and Saturdays are for college football. This week just so happens to be one of the biggest weeks in any college football season: rivalry week.

College students and alumni across the nation have been sporting their alma mater’s colors all week in support of today’s big game.

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At the Univeristy of Nevada, our rivalry week traditions are simple, but straightforward. First and foremost, there is to be NO rebel red worn on Nevada’s campus during Beat UNLV* week. (*See also: FUNLV, FunLove)

Second, each year, the week of the big game, hundreds of Nevada students gather in the quad, face northward, drop trou, and moon our southern neighbors in the annual Moon Off. Obviously, we take our rivalry with the UNLV* Rebels very seriously. (*See also: Nevada Southern)

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Notice the ceiling decorations

Today, in the annual Battle for Nevada football game, my beloved Wolf Pack will play the Rebels in hopes of bringing home the coveted Fremont Cannon and restoring it to its proper hue.

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The Fremont Cannon

After watching three years of glorious football victories against the Rebels, I did not take last year’s defeat very well. After all, it was the first time the UNLV football team beat Nevada in nine years, allowing the Rebels to kidnap our cannon and deface it with their hideous red paint.

Although I cannot physically be at the game to see the Wolf Pack destroy the Rebels today, I will be there in spirit, chanting “N-E-V-A-D-A, you say, NEVADA!”

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Battle for Nevada 2013 at Mackay Stadium #Selfie

But really, who scheduled Battle for Nevada over Thanksgiving weekend? Probably a Rebel. #WolfPackProbs

Now let’s bring that cannon home!

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How does your school show it’s pride during rivalry week? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Why Black Friday is the Most Underrated Holiday of the Year

IT’S HEEEERRRREEEEE!

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For those of you who missed my last post, I explained that Black Friday marks the official start of the Christmas season. Although yesterday was filled with turkey, football, and all things Autumn, today, it is entirely acceptable to blast Christmas music, hang Christmas lights, and begin your Christmas shopping. And since we all know that Christmas is not so much a single day as it is an entire season, we can infer that today, truthfully, is Christmas.

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Let’s set the mood, shall we?

Ahhh, nothing sounds quite as sweet as the sound of Christmas. Before today, it would have been socially unacceptable to listen to such music. Today, however, is all about indulging in all things Christmas, while still reaping the benefits of Thanksgiving leftovers.

And let’s not forget about the shopping.

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Black Friday is teeming with incredible deals from practically every store you could possibly think of. Smart shoppers know that today is the absolute best day of the year to save money on Christmas gifts for all of your friends and family. What could be better than a holiday based on shopping? That’s why I believe that Black Friday is the most significantly underrated holiday of the year.

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In fact, Black Friday gets a pretty bad rap. We’ve all heard stories of Black Friday shoppers trampling each other at midnight when the doors open at Wal Mart. Believe me, I think that is awful, just as I think it’s awful that some stores now open on Thanksgiving day, rather than Black Friday. People should spend time at home with their families on Thanksgiving day, and should leave the shopping for after the tryptophan has worn off.

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The reason this whole holiday started was because people who had Thursday through Sunday off for Thanksgiving needed something to do after the real holiday ended. Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered from all over the country to spend one turkey-filled day together, only to be struck with boredom the following day. So, the brave forward-thinkers of the inaugural Black Friday buttoned up their coats, grabbed their credit cards with the highest spending limits, and hauled their family members to the mall for some quality Christmas shopping.

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I invite you to do the same! For a list of incredible deals, check out TheBlackFriday.com, and don’t forget to shop local this Small Business Saturday, and online this Cyber Monday! May your Black Friday be filled with all the merriment and joy of the Christmas season, and may you save big on amazing deals!

Where is your favorite place to shop on Black Friday? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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I’m Thankful For…

Last year, I decided that Thanksgiving is actually one of my favorite holidays. Compared to Christmas or Valentine’s Day, which each come with unrealistic expectations perpetuated by Hollywood blockbusters, Thanksgiving has relatively low expectations. Still, everyone in the nation is given anywhere from four to ten days off of work or school to relax over this All-American holiday weekend.

For college students, the day before Thanksgiving, commonly referred to as “Blackout Wednesday,” is all about reconnecting with high school friends at hometown bars we used to only dream about getting into.

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And let’s not forgot that the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas season.

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But today, Thanksgiving day, is all about a few things: food, football, and family. Oh yeah, and giving thanks.

Being it my last year in college, I am thankful for the wonderful time I have spent at my amazing university, which I have come to love so dearly. I am thankful for this brief moment in time that I will one day view in hindsight as my college years. I am thankful for the here and now. I am thankful for the opportunity to actually be in college, furthering my education in pursuit of a career. I am thankful for all the doors that college has opened for me. I am thankful for everything I’ve gotten to do in college, and for getting to experience it all one last time.

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I am thankful for the friends I’ve made, the incredibly wise professors who have supported me, and for all the things I’ve learned from each of them. I’m thankful for those things I’ve learned outside of the classroom, which have helped me mature into the woman I am today. I’m thankful for each of the little ups, downs, twists, and turns that college has thrown at me because they taught me that I was strong enough to survive them.

Mostly, I am thankful for my parents, and all that they have given me. I am thankful for them providing me the means necessary to receive a higher education. I am thankful that they have always believed in my dreams, and that their dream is for me to be happy. I am thankful for the times they pushed me to keep going when I didn’t believe I could. I am thankful that they’ve always known I could. I am thankful for them answering my late-night phone calls, for helping me through my mental breakdowns, for proofreading my essays, and for helping move me in and out of my dorm room, sorority house, and very first apartment. I am thankful for the occasional Sunday morning money transfer. I am thankful that I can tell my parents anything, that I’ve always known that I am loved, and that my parents are proud of me, no matter what.

I am thankful that, for now, home is only a four-hour drive away, and that my agenda for the rest of the day consists only of cheering on the Niners and helping Momma Collins in the kitchen. Do you think she’ll like this turkey recipe I found?

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What are you thankful for this year? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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She Doesn’t Even Go Here

This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my dear friend Lexi whom I met while interning in Washington, D.C. this summer. Though she now works full-time in D.C., (Oops, she actually has her life together, graduated in four years, and started a career…) she makes trips back to her home state of Georgia as often as possible. Particularly, she goes home to visit her alma mater, the great University of Georgia.

Having an inexplicable affinity for the South, despite having never been there before this weekend, I did not hesitate to book a round-trip flight to Georgia when Lexi told me two months ago that she would be visiting. I mean, what was I going to do, pass up an opportunity to watch an SEC football game in person? Be serious.

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So, this past Friday, I did the unspeakable and woke up BEFORE THE SUN WAS UP in order to drag my tired butt to the airport (Code for: I made my friend wake up at 4 a.m. in order to drag my tired butt to the airport. Sorry Kevin.) just to make the trek from Reno to Las Vegas, from Las Vegas to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Athens. Now that’s dedication.

Let’s skip over the parts when I shamelessly passed out on my first flight, when I wandered around like a lost puppy in the Vegas airport, then gave up and spent 30 minutes in line at Starbucks, and when I may or may not have shed a tear as I caught my first glimpse of the South from my airplane window while the flight attendant announced that a U.S. soldier on the plane was returning home from his tour of duty.

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So we’ve skipped ahead. I grabbed my bag from the overhead bin (Can we take a moment to appreciate that I managed to pack everything into ONE bag?) and practically RAN off the plane. You can imagine how Lexi and I looked when we first saw each other…

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Then we headed to Athens. I gazed out my window in awe as we drove by the beautiful Georgia countryside. My heart was happy to see a part of this beautiful nation I’d never seen before. As the sun set on the state of Georgia that day, I felt fulfilled knowing that I couldn’t have dreamt of a lovelier view.

Lex and I talked at a million miles per hour as we tried to cram four months of catching up into a one-hour car ride. It’s almost as if we hadn’t been texting, calling, FaceTiming, SnapChatting, Instagramming, Tweeting, and Facebooking each other all that time. Add the entire 1989 album to this madness and you’ll begin to form a picture of what that car ride was like.

And then we were there. Lexi played tour guide by pointing out the locations of where her college memories took place as she drove. It seemed that each little spot, even the most seemingly insignificant of them, held a little part of her heart; a moment captured in her mind, that when all pieced together, formed the scrapbook of her life in college. Though everything in Athens was new to me, everything there was home for Lexi. All I could hope is that I one day feel the same way about my little college town.

Athens. What an incredible town. The biggest difference I noticed between my university and the University of Georgia is that, whereas the University of Nevada is a university that just so happens to be based in the city of Reno, the University of Georgia is based in Athens — a town built around its university. Everything in that city revolves around its university, especially game days.

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EVERYONE in the area is a die-hard Dawgs fan, and even if they aren’t, they wouldn’t be caught dead rooting for any other team. So that was my excuse for stocking up on lots of red gear, even though that’s the color of my own school’s rival. (We may or may not be playing them this coming Saturday.) What, am I not going to flaunt my new spirit jersey? I bought it so that, to the naive passerby, I may give the appearance of actually belonging at the University of Georgia.

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And why wouldn’t I? The campus itself is beautiful, with traditional buildings and gorgeous landscaping, it felt like the classic American university. Everywhere we walked, Lexi had some fascinating UGA tradition to tell me about, such as the chapel bell or the Georgia arch.

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The Georgia arch is one of UGA’s most recognizable symbols. Built in 1864 (ten years before my university was even established), the arch stands at the entrance of the university, but is only to be used as a walkway by UGA graduates. It is said that any UGA student who walks underneath the arch before graduating will never do so, and that any non-UGA student who walks underneath the arch will encounter bad luck.

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UGA’s chapel bell can be rung by anyone by pulling the rope that stretches to the ground. Built in 1913, the bell used to signify the beginning and end of class periods, religious services, and emergencies, but is now rung to mark special occasions, such as athletic victories and graduations. The bell is not, however, to be rung before any sporting event, as it is bad luck for the Bulldogs.

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One of the few living collegiate mascots, UGA’s aptly named “Uga” comes from a prestigious lineage of English bulldogs who have served as the face for UGA athletics over the past half a century.

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The Dawg Walk is a game day tradition of UGA football players walking through the marching band and a crowd of fans before entering the stadium. Georgia fans come from all around to partake in the tradition of school pride and celebration.

Lexi and I spent the majority of our time catching up with her college friends, touring the campus and surrounding town, and doing quintessential “Georgia things,” like dining at Waffle House. Side note: as a California native, I had never even heard of Waffle House until about three years ago, and even then, I didn’t know that it was a real chain. Any doubt I had of Waffle House’s existence was quickly diminished when we passed nearly 30 on the drive into town.

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And yes, the waffles were actually pretty good.

As one of its former bartenders, Lexi wanted to spend a lot of time at Pauley’s, one of the downtown bar/restaurants, which was nice, considering that it is a central gathering place for Lexi’s friends. We sipped on manmosas — Pauley’s speciality drink, which are made like classic mimosas, but are topped with a splash of vodka — and hung out with the bartenders. One thing that I loved about the downtown scene in Athens is how the bartenders are current students, and are not only encouraged to invite their friends to the bar during their shifts, but are welcome to hang out with their friends while bar tending. This phenomenon made the downtown scene very relaxed, and is something I think my college town could stand to mirror.

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Double-fisting Starbucks and manmosas with new friends at Pauley’s the morning of game day.

We hung out at Pauley’s at all times of the day — morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and late night — and it was always a blast. I loved how versatile the bar/restaurants of downtown Athens are, in that students can seamlessly move from a low-key dinner with friends into a rambunctious Friday night on the town. Moreover, each bar/restaurant is mere walking distance from another, or a darling boutique, parking garage, or campus building. The barrier between the university and its downtown is non-existent, which allows for a safe, comfortable environment that students can call home.

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Although I only visited for a short weekend, I fell in love with the charming city of Athens, Georgia, and its beloved university. I’ll miss the rounds of bombs that Southern boys just love to buy, and the way I could effortlessly walk from bar to bar. I’ll miss the new people I met, from old friends of Lexi’s to Georgia alumni with whom I shared a drink and a spirited “Go Dawgs!” I’ll miss the stories Lexi told me about each new person and place I encountered, and I’ll daydream about what it would be like to park in the Clayton Street garage one morning, attend class, walk to a shift at Pauley’s, and move seamlessly into a night out with friends. I’ll wonder what it would be like to walk under that infamous arch.

But for now, it’s time I return to reality, and prepare myself for a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend at home! Thank you, Lexi, and Athens, for an incredible trip!

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What dream school would you spend the weekend at if you could? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Make Time for the People You Don’t See Everyday

It happens to all of us. We say we’re going to keep in touch with someone after high school, over the summer, during the school year, or after some life-changing experience like studying abroad. But then, you don’t. You go back to school and slip back into your normal routine, and everything and everyone that doesn’t fall into that routine just, sort of, takes the back burner. It happens to the best of us. And I would know, obviously, because I AM the best of us.

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Just because we don’t talk to certain people everyday, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as important to us as those we do talk to every day. Honestly, who’s more important to you, your best friend from high school or that one annoying kid who has a class with you every day of the week?

That being said, it is important that we do nurture those relationships that are important to us, whether it be via a text or phone call every once in a while, old-fashioned letter-writing, or a timely visit. That’s why, this weekend, I am packing my bags, hopping on a 6 a.m. flight (THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, LEXI) and heading to a place in this country I’ve never been before — the South.

That’s right, this weekend, your girl will visit her former roommate, Lexi, who is currently holding down the fort in Washington, D.C., but just so happens to have graduated from one of my dream schools, the University of Georgia. I’m not saying everyone can just hop on a cross-country flight at the drop of a hat just to see one of their best friends, but then again, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned, in-person visit.

So, this weekend, while I venture into Dixie Land, try my very first manmosa from Pauley’s, and root on those Dawgs, I urge you to call up an old friend, write a letter to someone you miss, or just send someone a heartfelt text. More likely than not, they’ll be glad you did, and they’ll be thinking about you, too.

Also, if you need help understanding the header picture for this post, watch the following video. Try not to cry. Cry a lot.

Who have you been missing? Tell me about them on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Take Time to Notice the Little Things

The other day, I was walking back to my car, parked in the same parking garage I’ve been using since my sophomore year, when I noticed something. On the side of the garage were little metal structures, positioned in such a way that when the sun shone just right, the structures’ shadows spelled the word “NEVADA” down the side of the building.

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This got me thinking. Has that always been there? How many times have I walked into this parking garage without noticing that? What else have I been overlooking?

I started to feel as though I might be missing out on all these little things that someone, at some point in time, put thought into. And I, it seems, have been taking these little things for granted.

What have I seen or heard so many times before that I don’t really see or hear it at all anymore? What of life’s little pleasures am I depriving myself of?

So, I urge you to look around today. Experience each thing as if it were something new. Really look at the trees in the quad turning orange. Really listen when the bell tower chimes on the hour. You might just discover something you’ve never seen before, and even if you don’t, you’ll appreciate what your surroundings have to offer you while you still can.

What did you see for the first time today? Show me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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