Blast From The Past – College Crash Pads

This morning I was on my way to work and Worse Than I Thought by The Critics came on my iPod. I immediately thought back to Johnathan’s birthday one year in college when some of us decided to surprise him by having Myles (lead singer of The Critics at the time and previously of Jolly Napier – one of our favorite bands ever) show up to his apartment and do an impromptu concert in his living room. This memory cracked me up, because I remember it clearly – Johnathan knew we were trying to surprise him, so he made it obvious he knew. You know, the whole “Geez, I wonder if there are any friends hiding in the dark in my apartment right now?” thing. He was laying it on thick. He opened the door to his apartment, we all yelled “surprise!”, he shrieked and started fanning his face (adding to his I’m-really-not-surprised-but-I’m-going-to-humor-you act), and then suddenly saw Myles and was genuinely surprised – and clearly embarrassed at his over-the-top previous reaction. It was hilarious. (Hence why I was cracking up on my drive to work.) It was a fun night. We ate cake and ice cream. Myles sat on the couch with his guitar and took requests for a while.

Johnathan lived in Royal Crest apartments off Tech Farm Road. We lovingly referred to his apartment as “Royal Crap”. It was straight out of the early 80s, complete with dark wood paneled walls. It was not aesthetically pleasing, to say the least, but it was still such a great place. I took many mid-afternoon naps on Johnathan’s couch on days when I wanted to stay in Ruston for something at night and didn’t want to drive home to West Monroe. I ate many bowls of ice cream over there. Large bowls. Johnathan always bought huge buckets of ice cream and we didn’t skimp on serving sizes when at his apartment. We watched lots of movies and Friends episodes. I remember rushing to Johnathan’s apartment after an intramural flag football game during the final season of Friends and I seem to remember that we were locked out and ended up missing that episode.

Jennifer had a great apartment, too, over on East Reynolds. I lived in that complex briefly and it was fun to have Jennifer living just around the corner. To this day I can’t hear a song from David Crowder Band’s Illuminate album without having a flashback to playing old school Nintendo late at night in Jennifer’s living room. We’d play Super Mario Brothers or Super Mario Brothers 3 with the TV muted and David Crowder playing loudly. I also can’t hear Eminem sing “I’m sorry, Mama, I never meant to hurt you” without thinking of Jennifer’s hispanic neighbor singing that (complete with his I’m-not-from-Louisiana accent) as he walked up the stairs and Jody busting out laughing. Jennifer had a great couch for napping, too. She had the best couch ever. That thing was like a bed.

Janie was always a great hostess. She rented an actual house with a couple of roommates. Janie would invite a large group of us to her house – 808 Marie – also known as “Bob Marie” – and she’d cook a big meal for us. How she afforded to feed six or eight friends with large appetites while in college, I’ll never know. We’d all sit around the table like civilized people and eat an honest to goodness meal – lasagna or roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy. Then we’d always play games afterward. I remember once a really quiet guy named Ryan came to a game night at Janie’s. We played a game called 1313 Dead End Drive. Once we were ready to move on to a different game, Ryan quietly got 1313 Dead End Drive back out and set it up again. I remember once when the ABS planned reverse trick-or-treating in the dorms, Janie offered up her house for making/painting our costumes. I remember that Keith was running around the house scaring us that night, knocking on windows and running. Someone got brave – either Jennifer or Brooke, I think – and met him outside with a pitcher of water. Surprise! Janie rarely even went to the ABS, but she was friends with lots of us. The best was when you’d end up spending a night at Janie’s because you’d usually wake up to sausage and homemade waffles.

Brooke and Emily occasionally had us at their apartment, but it rarely turned into a late night. Brooke would get tired usually between 9:00-9:30 and would start brushing her teeth. That was our cue – go home, folks! I do have two particular memories at their apartment. Once when a large group of us gathered there before starting our own photo scavenger hunt (we were good at entertaining ourselves), the neighbor’s dog ran inside. I think his name was Cal, but Brooke was yelling, “No, COW! Get out! This is not your house, Cow!” I also remember one night with Doug, Julie, and Brooke when we stayed up visiting way past Brooke’s usual bed time. Doug ended up making predictions about all of our futures and wrote them down, sealed them in envelopes, and instructed us not to open them until we were engaged to be married. Brooke and Julie have opened theirs fair and square, but I finally just opened and read mine several years ago. Doug was wrong about my future. Good thing he’s not a psychic!

One of my earliest memories of Jody was when we were playing the board game Risk at Doug’s apartment at the beginning of Jody’s freshman year. Jody’s turn immediately followed Adam Owens’ turn and Adam was hesitant to make a certain move because he thought Jody would overtake him. Jody assured him she wouldn’t, so he made the move. Jody immediately made the move to overtake Adam and he reminded her that she promised she wouldn’t. Jody’s reply – “This is not a Christian game!” That’s when I knew Jody would be a funny, feisty character. I also remember leaving Doug’s apartment one night and instead of saying, “It was fun”, he accidentally said, “I was fun!” That quote is still in rotation when we’re all together. In fact, Brooke and I said it to each other a few weeks ago when we parted ways.

Goodness, Ruston is a charming place. I’ve got so many good memories there. Thanks for the memories, friends. And thanks for the naps on your couches.

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Things That Take Me Back

My sister made brownies last night.  This morning I was cutting one to put in my lunchbox and the smell took me back to long road trips as a kid.  When we went on vacation – and I only remember a few big ones: Pigeon Forge,Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia – my mom would always make brownies and chocolate chip cake mix cookies.  She’d put the cookies and brownies in a big square Tupperware container and when we’d get hungry on the road, we would open it up and the smell of brownies would fill the van.  We would also get to have brownies for breakfast when we were on vacation, so that was pretty special.  But the smell of brownies, to me, equals childhood vacations with my family in our big, ugly Ford Aerostar van.  Those were fun times.

My light blue Smurfs lunchbox – yes, I carry my lunch in a lunchbox; it’s convenient and I paid a whopping $1 for it at a garage sale – also always takes me back, especially when I have an orange packed in it.  An orange and a brownie!  I think it takes me back to the movie The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I haven’t seen that movie in years, probably even in decades.  Is there a scene in that movie where a kid has a light blue lunchbox with a brownie and an orange inside?  Does anyone know?  Maybe it’s a different movie, but I know I’ve seen this before and the image of a light blue lunch box with an orange and a brownie is easily conjured up in my mind.

Store bought pound cake and 12 ounce cans of coke take me back to my Memaw’s house.  Memaw would always insist on giving everyone a cold can of coke with a straw.  If she had pound cake in the house, which she often did, she would insist on sharing that as well, whether you were hungry or not.  She usually had some kind of ice cream bar or popsicle in her freezer, too.  She wasn’t big on cooking.  In fact, I remember many of our childhood trips to visit Memaw ended with a stop at Wendy’s on the way home, but Memaw almost always had some kid friendly treats available.

Old school Nintendo takes me back to the summer after fourth grade when my parents bought one for us.  We didn’t have a lot of games, but I remember playing a lot of Super Mario Brothers – the original and Super Mario Brothers 3.  We would go to Jennifer & Johnathan’s house and play Contra or hook up their Power Pad and get some exercise.  I remember Daddy went on a business trip once and brought us home a new game called Marble Madness.  Then in college, a few friends and I somehow happened upon some old school Nintendo systems.  We played Super Mario Brothers 3 well into the night at Jennifer Crosbie’s apartment while David Crowder Band played in the background.  Janie somehow missed the Nintendo phase of the standard 80’s childhood, so it was fun watching her struggle through the original Super Mario Brothers while the rest of us could pass a level with our eyes closed.

Old country music from the early 90s takes me back to riding in the back of my dad’s truck on the back roads of Calhoun as he drove us to the ball park for our softball games.  These rides often included friends of ours – Lynnette and Emily, Kristy and Ashly, Raeni, or Craig and Greg – and sometimes we would sing country songs, loud and off key, often making up our own lyrics.  A lot of those trips in the back of Daddy’s truck were because Melissa, Craig, Greg, and I would ride our bikes to the ball park on a summer day, which I think was about five miles, and then we would stay until dark and would be too tired to ride home.  At that point, one of us would head to the pay phone and call Daddy.  Of course, Daddy didn’t want us riding bikes in the dark, so he would come pick the four of us and our bikes up and drive us back home.

Nostalgia is fun.  I’m thankful that the vast majority of the things that take me back also make me smile.  I know it’s not that way for everyone, so I am truly grateful.

Do y’all have any nostalgic items or foods that take you back and remind you of happy times?

Blast From The Past – San Francisco, 2006!

I was just scrolling through some old pictures on iPhoto and decided I needed to do a little throwback vacation entry.  In fact, I may do several of these, because these trips were during the phase when I didn’t blog at all.  I have my scrapbooks from that time period, but I figure Jody and Jennifer may get some laughs out of this with me.  So let’s take a trip back to the summer of 2006.  Jody had been living in Nevada for a few months after moving there upon graduation from Louisiana Tech.  Jennifer and I flew out to visit her.  We flew into Reno and we all stayed the night at the home of one of Jody’s friends.  We were given the upstairs of their house for the night.  I remember the next morning when Jody’s friend told us how quiet we were and that we said we had never been called that before!

We loaded up in Jody’s car and drove to San Francisco.  We wanted to spend one night there and visit the city.  Jody lived in a very small town in Nevada, so this was our chance to see something other than wide open plains and dirt.  We roamed around Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Wharf area that evening.  I remember getting severely lost as we drove around town, but I never budged out of the back seat.  Jennifer and Jody took turns driving, but I never made a move to get into the driver’s seat.  No ma’am.  We drove down “The Crookedest Street” and sang the Full House theme song.  We also found a great spot to take a photo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge!

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That night we went to the hotel that Jody had found for us on Expedia.  I must explain our method.  When Jody or I were given the task of booking a hotel, especially during and immediately following college, we would type in the town, sort by price, and pick the cheapest one.  While I have always been one to read reviews first, Jody doesn’t really bother herself with that task.  Is the hotel in the town we need?  Yes?  Great – book it!  Also, Jody told them there would only be one guest.  There were three of us.  The outside of our hotel and the area of town looked great.  In fact, here’s a photo I took the next morning.  So our first impression from the street was good.
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Then we went inside.  The front desk was scary.  The elevator was scary.  Then we got to our room. Good job, Jody.  Good choice.
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Fortunately, we all just started laughing, and then started fighting over who was getting stuck on the floor.  I can’t remember which one took the floor, but I shared the bed with somebody!  To make matters worse, with Jody’s claim of there being only one guest, we only got one towel.  One towel, three of us, and a shared bathroom down the hall.  Without being crass, let me just say we kept reminding each other to respect the other towel users when drying off.  Jody showered first.  I went second.  I remember being in the shower and thinking how San Francisco is famous for bad earthquakes and praying an earthquake wouldn’t hit while I was in the shared hall bathroom shower in all my glory!  I respected Jennifer’s upcoming use of the towel and then got back to the room to find out that Jennifer had gone down the scary elevator and asked for another towel.  Well.  That’s one way to handle the situation.

That day we visited Alcatraz, which was really cool.  Here we are on Alcatraz Island with the San Francisco skyline behind us.
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Before leaving town, we wanted to stick our toes in the Pacific Ocean.  It was another ordeal trying to find it, but we finally did.  I think we were in a town called Richmond when we finally found the ocean.  We are Louisiana girls.  We are used to the warm waters of the Gulf.  Warm waters these were not.  It was beautiful, but my word, it was cold.  It was frigid.  Jody was venturing much farther out – like actually above her ankles – whereas Jennifer and I turned and ran as soon as the icy waters touched our toes.  It was bizarre to me!Image

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On the drive back to Nevada, we stopped at Chipotle and ate supper.  Then, minutes later, we stopped to put some air in Jody’s tires and realized Jennifer had a big piece of cilantro stuck in her teeth.  This made us laugh so hard – dangerously hard after just stuffing ourselves!
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San Francisco with these two gals was definitely the highlight of that vacation, but here’s a pic of us at Lake Tahoe later in the week.  We were the only ones on that beach who were wearing something other than swimwear, but it was cold!  I don’t know how all these west coast folks can handle those cold temperatures!
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Speaking of Lake Tahoe, I’ll wrap this up with one last hilarious memory.  We went to Lake Tahoe on the Fourth of July with big plans to watch the fireworks.  It was extremely crowded that day, but we got the bright idea to return to this beach for the fireworks instead of fighting the traffic after we went out to eat that night.  So we made our way back to this beach.  We unloaded our lawn chairs and headed to the shore, celebrating and really patting ourselves on the back for how smart we were.  I mean, look at this.  All those idiots fought with each other for parking and here’s the three of us on our own private beach where we could sit anywhere we wanted.  We were geniuses, I tell you!  Then we started hearing cheering.  What were all those people cheering for?  Nothing was happening yet.  Then we started hearing the booms and cracks of fireworks.  More cheering.  We didn’t see anything; we just heard all the hoopla.  Suffice it to say, our big, proud talk ended abruptly!  Suddenly we were the idiots and we could not stop laughing.  Even now, nearly eight years later, I am laughing.

Good times, ladies.  Good times.