Saturday, March 31, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships, Women's History Month 2018

These recollections of the female friendships I have made throughout my life are some of my favorite blog posts that I have ever written. They took me a couple of years to prepare because I wanted to make sure they were right, so I feel extra accomplished having finally published them all. Here they all are now in one blog post! :)

My Early Childhood Friends

My Childhood Friends

My High School Friends

My College Friends

My Adult Friends

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships - My Adult Friends

I'm posting this one now because it's Holy Week and I don't want to blog on Good Friday.

I refer to this group as my more recent set of friends because I met them gradually toward the end of my college life and then we stayed in touch after graduation. Like me, they too are writers. I met plenty of female writers during my college and adult life, forming a community with them, but these are the girls with whom I correspond the most. I also graduated the same class from Montclair State University with most of them. Unfortunately I don't have a group shot of us all for this blog post. lol

The following women have all attended Literally! writing group meetings that I have hosted and give me great, helpful feedback regarding my writing. I am thankful that I feel at ease sharing my pieces with them.

One of the first times Kacie and I hung out
I consistently refer to my best friend Kacie as my right hand woman. We're usually always on the same page about things and hang out quite often. We met towards the end of college but corresponded earlier on Facebook. In my sophomore year, I saw her in an opera on MSU's campus called Albert Herring, which I actually blogged about in the past. I somehow found her Facebook page, reached out to her, and shared my blog with her. Then we kept in touch. Eventually we found a way to meet each other face to face and the rest was history. She is a family-oriented only child like myself, so I believe we bonded over this, and we have a lot in common.

Kacie is very kind, patient, understanding, and always there for me, and like Abby, I feel like I can always go to her without receiving any judgment. Anytime I am upset about something, I seek advice from her and she automatically makes me feel better and calmer with her perspectives. I feel comfortable with her.

Kacie is definitely who I would call my creative friend. She is a music teacher but also a singer/songwriter and musician. We have the same artistic goals and are constantly encouraging each other's work.

I met my friend Lindsay (not pictured because we haven't taken a photo together lol) on a Montclair State University Facebook group. She was a fellow English major graduating a year or two before me asking for suggestions on another course to take to finally reach the credits in order to graduate. I commented on her post, recommending theater classes (of course), and then the two of us started talking from there. I would sometimes visit her at her job on campus and we also attended another writing group meeting together. That was fun. :) I also like her unique sense of humor. lol

I consider Lindsay one of my most logical friends. She contributes advice to the business side of things and gives me a taste of reality. It's nice to have a companion who knows the technicalities of a lot of things, particularly the freelancing life. That's true too. Lindsay is a fellow freelancer like myself, but while I mainly do journalism, she does more copywriting.

Next is Evaline. I actually met her through Bonnie! Although she was not a broadcasting major, she and Bonnie took a broadcasting class together called "Electronic Journalism". Evaline needed writers to interview for a video project for this class and so naturally Bonnie thought of me and I agreed to it.

Here is the final product.

Since then Evaline and I have stayed connected. A creative writer herself, at one point she said to me that if I ever needed a writing partner, she was available. So then, as a result, I invited her to Literally! meetings and she, along with Kacie and Lindsay, was one of the group's initial members and participants.

She is always such a kind, sweet, patient, and grateful person.

Finally there is Sashel. I met Sashel, and a bunch of other fellow writers with whom I still keep in contact, in my Intro to Fiction Writing class my senior year at MSU. I always thought that she was very quiet, but it turns out that she is actually very bubbly and outgoing once you get to know her. She is always laughing and smiling. Like many of my friends, I see her as my religious, spiritual friend as well. She incorporates plenty about God and strength in her written work and I appreciate this trait.

She's a delight. ;)

And for some reason, she and I have bonded over our mutual love of food... Random, but yes. lol

So, there you have it! My Women's History Month blog project "Stef's Female Friendships" is complete for this year! To all of the women that I have wrote about in this series (or not), thank you for being positive influences in my life. Happy Women's History Month! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Stef's Female Friends - My College Friends

In college, friends come and go. Coming from a small private school and now entering a large public state college, I met and befriended a lot of people at this point. This is the group that remained constant all four years. We refer to ourselves as "The Originals" because we were the original friends freshman year. lol

Taken the first day of freshman year, Red Hawk Day, on Bonnie's MacBook Pro Photobooth and then Katlynn filtered it. I wanted to recreate this for graduation, but we never did. lol
Clockwise from left: Me, Kelly, Katlynn, Bonnie, and Shan
Not pictured: Melissa and Anthony (but he's a boy anyway so :P)

Here's another shot from the same time so you can actually see us. lol 

Facebook was a thing now, so that's how friendships were made. I corresponded with them all on a Facebook group that was created for the incoming Montclair State University Class of 2013 and then we all, along with some others, planned to meet in person on Red Hawk Day, which is a day that celebrates kicking off the new school year. We actually all connected because none of us were interested in drinking, which was a friendship quality I held dear back then.

This day was one of the best days of my life. Instead of participating in the freshmen ice breakers, we all opted to go to the Willowbrook Mall together because Shan, Bonnie's roommate that year, needed to buy a new phone. It's funny because I was so used to being surveyed in high school that I thought that I would get in trouble ditching the ice breakers. I actually snuck by them in the Student Center Quad thinking that I would be pinpointed, but nothing happened. This was when I realized that college would be a totally different atmosphere. I considered this my first college independent adventure and I loved bonding with my new friends. It also got me more excited and relaxed about college because that morning I was nervous.

Now I walk the MSU campus like I own the place. :P 

Alas, the excitement died down because eventually schedules got in the way and it was a struggle to see each other. I commuted to school whereas they lived on campus and we all had different majors, so that all contributed to the withdrawals I was feeling. I was an English major, Katlynn was also an English major with a Creative Writing concentration but yet we only took one class together throughout the four years, and Kelly majored in Nutrition. Bonnie and Shan were originally undeclared, but then majored in Broadcasting and Sociology respectively.

Melissa (not pictured) could be considered another member of The Originals. She too was an English major and I actually took an Art of Fiction course with her sophomore year. Bonnie was into Japanese culture (still is) and so she joined Japan Club, which is how I met Melissa and others that would turn into my group of college friends. Even though we weren't as into anime and such, Kelly, Katlynn, and I found ourselves attending a lot of these events just to hang out with Bonnie and the rest of the members.

Kelly, Bonnie, and Melissa eventually all became roommates in sophomore year and I hung out in their dorm room often. I considered myself the fourth roommate. lol

Even though Shan and I gradually didn't really see each other as much as the years went on, whenever we ran into each other on campus we would greet each other and converse. She is a very funny person, the type with whom you joke around. However, we would also talk about serious stuff, like Christianity. I remember this one time when she and I chatted for like an hour or so about this subject on campus.

I wasn't kidding about the whole almost drowning thing. :P
Katlynn and I walked and sat next to each other for convocation (the one that nearly drowned us :P) and to this day she and I still chat writing. She was my closest writer friend throughout college and I talk with and relate to her the most these days, especially regarding our careers. She and Kelly would be the ones to come see either campus shows with me or readings of my plays that I wrote for my Drama Workshop classes, so I am so very grateful for their support.

Katlynn, Kelly, and I actually had our own subgroup called "Cheerios". The three of us were all into "Glee" at the time so therefore we associated ourselves with The Unholy Trinity. Katlynn was Quinn, Kelly was Brittany, and I was Santana.

Bonnie is what I call my optimistic, encouraging friend. No matter what I said I was considering, she would be the one to usually say "Go for it!" or "Do it!" usually starting or ending with "Girl!" For example, I once auditioned for a Players (MSU's student run theatre organization) Lady Gaga show with her.

Anyway, she would always be up for anything and was always a ray of sunshine even when I was gloomy. These characteristics are useful for her current profession. Even though she majored and graduated with a broadcasting degree, she then went on to get her Masters in education and is now a teacher to little kids and loves it. :)

Funny enough is that one thing she, Kelly, and I are doing lately post-college is making fun of the Elf on the Shelf on Facebook. I don't know how I started this, but it has turned into a Christmas tradition for us now. lol

I had a lot of personal issues in college. Even though I always say that college was the best time of my educational life (elementary and high school were kinda meh), I questioned everything about myself, specifically about my role as a woman, as a person, as a professional, and as a Catholic. Now college is the time to do this and "find myself," but it made me so stressed out and confused about who I was that I was constantly an emotional wreck. Thankfully I had Kelly there to ease this. She and I were the same when it came to concerns like this and she was often a listening ear to whatever issue I was having and I took on the same role for her. She was the one with whom I hung out the most and I missed her whenever we weren't together. We were your typical dynamic duo: she was tall, and I was short, and we had a lot of the same interests. She was my best college friend. She was also the one who introduced me to the Nostalgia Critic (while she was introduced to the character through our mutual friend Jess), whose criticisms of film eventually got me interested in pursuing the same.

Given the distance between us all and life priorities (somewhat reminiscent of early freshman year), we don't really see each other anymore. However, we're still connected on Facebook and meeting up is always a possibility. We've actually been discussing this recently.

These girls will always be icons from my college life. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships - My High School Friends

If you follow my film vlogging and podcasting life, this is the group with whom you would be most familiar. My Paper Cup Review Crew gets together to record our "Paper Cup Reviews" web series and podcast, for which we discuss the movies we have just seen. This crew consists of my Lacordaire Academy high school friends Abby, Janis, and Breon.

Screencap from the "Paper Cup Reviews" premiere episode "Ted"
From l-r: Breon, Me, Abby, and Janis

Our circle of friends extended beyond the four of us, with whom I also credit memories, but I found myself closest with these three. They've always shown support for my writing and artistry. Like me, Abby and Breon are also only children.

Volunteering at school's used book sale
I met Janis first. She and I were paired up for a freshman ice breaker exercise. I was given the character Minnie Mouse, so basically I was supposed to find my match and chat with her. Janis had the Mickey Mouse card, so we met and hit it off.

I refer to Janis as my historian friend. She loves history and out of all of my friends I would go to her if I have a question about it. She's also my bookworm friend and is now a librarian. In fact, she was voted "Class Bookworm" for our Senior Superlatives.

Although this trait is attributed to all three of them, Janis is a friend that would always be completely honest with me.

I'm not sure in what order I met Breon and Abby, but I think I met Breon next. Breon and I were locker neighbors freshman year. I chose my locker and then Breon chose the one next to mine. She smiled at me with braces and I thought she looked so cute because she wore braids at the time. To this day she always has a keen sense of style. ;)

Breon is my "voice of reason" friend. We actually discussed this at my 26th birthday dinner. She is very wise and gives pretty good insight and advice on situations. She's so sweet, mature, soft spoken, hilarious, and quiet, but when something needs to be said, she says it. Appropriately, she was voted "Most Quiet."

And then finally there is Abby. Abby and I sat in front of each other in homeroom because my name came right after hers alphabetically. Our first of many conversations was me explaining the prepositional rules of FANBOY to her. Why? How did this get brought up? I have no idea. XD

Abby is one of my very best friends and constant companions. She's my foil and yet my twin. We were actually once told by a classmate that we look alike, but we're also alike in personality and interests. We're movie and Shakespearean theater buddies.

Abby has a lot of qualities that I admire. She's very studious (another girl in our class actually got this superlative but Abby deserves it too lol), focused, kind, patient, understanding, and, of course, she was voted "Smartest."

I confide in Abby a lot about stuff. I know I can say anything to her without receiving judgment from her end.

You know what? I'll also include my friend Cara in this. Cara is my borderline childhood/high school friend, but I think this blog post is more appropriate for her than the last one.

Prior to high school, I attended Lacordaire Academy Elementary Division for seventh and eighth grade. "Freshman for a Day" was a specific day when eighth grade girls from all different schools visited Lacordaire Academy Secondary Division to see if we wanted to choose it as our future high school. They split us all into groups and my female classmates and I were all distributed accordingly. I was paired with two girls from my eighth grade class.

That's when I befriended Cara. She was another girl in our group. She and I bonded over our quirky enthusiasm and so we kept in touch. She eventually attended Mount St. Dominic Academy, our rival (BOO! lol), but we still remained friends all the same. She came to my Sweet 16 and celebrated National Dance Day with Lauren, Janis, and myself. She even joined Lauren and I when we went to our very first "So You Think You Can Dance" Tour in 2008 (OH MY GOSH. I just realized that it has been 10 YEARS since this!!!).

Here we are with tWitch:

One of my favorite photos, this one actually served as my first ever Facebook profile pic. lol

She is another friend that I haven't really seen in awhile, but I've realized that she represents my transitional phase, the one between childhood and teenage hood. I was the new kid in seventh grade and back then my self-esteem was extremely fragile because I was picked on and ostracized in my previous elementary school, so Cara's friendship made me excited about starting high school and making new friends. :) And, you guessed it, she too is an only child. ;)

I'm thankful that I continue to have these great people in my life since high school.

Years later, I would write an article about him. :)
By the way, if you're wondering what MY Senior Superlatives were, well, I was voted "Funniest" along with two other girls. I'm actually very honored about this because I didn't realize I was that funny and being told this made me more confident in my comedic timing.

AND I even got voted my own personal one, of which I am VERY proud: "Best Attitude." The photo representing this in the yearbook is of me high fiving our headmaster. My idea. ;)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships - My Childhood Friends

This blog post is making me delve back into my mind and remember all of my childhood female friends that I made in both elementary school and church. :)

SLL, or S Double L, refers to my friendship with my childhood friends Lauren and Lucero, whom I have mentioned throughout this blog I believe. Our group name is simply our initials put together. I thought it was cool. :P

I met Lucero in kindergarten and then we met Lauren in first grade. Lauren, Lucero, and I all went to the same school with other little girls with whom we played and the same church as well until Lauren moved away after fourth grade. Now the three of us always try to make it a point to get together. :) A favorite activity of ours is game night. lol Those are a barrel of laughs.

From our first SLL night out! From l-r: Lucero, Me, Lauren

When we were kids, Lucero (or Cito) was very quiet and timid. However, she has grown more outgoing and outspoken since. It's nice to see her get comfortable like that. :)

Lucero is a Christian, and a VERY spiritual Christian at that. She is the one who normally guides me towards God's Word whenever I am upset about something. She has a way of wording things, which brings me to our shared interest in writing and literature. Both of us majored in English in college (Lucero's was English Literature specifically). Nowadays she is a graphic designer and we both write together and give each other feedback for our work.

Lucero is into fantasy, but like MANY of my friends, Lucero likes anime and was actually the person who introduced me to it. She basically kicked off the anime loving trend that I would soon experience with my later groups of friends. I never identify myself as an anime fan, but I was obsessed with "Digimon" (English dub) as a kid and so she and I had daily verbal battles in the classroom because she thought that "Pokemon" was better and that "Digimon" was a mere copycat.

Ha. Whatever. I clearly won. :P "Cardcaptors" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!" English dubs were my other faves.

On the other hand, Lauren and I have the same humor and like the same TV shows. Our enthusiasm for "So You Think You Can Dance" remained consistent throughout the years. Like myself, she also didn't adhere to the anime trend. Although, like Lucero, she too is religious, and I will never forget the following story. When I was in third grade and about nine years old, I suffered from pneumonia. Along with the illness I endured unbearable pain in my legs to the point where I couldn't even walk and had to be carried everywhere. I missed a great deal of school because of this. Lauren's mother later told my family that Lauren spent every night praying for me in her room.

It was then that we realized just how true of a friend she is to me. Lauren is the type of person who always stands up for her friends, her beliefs, and expresses her eternal love. If you are friends with Lauren, you never question her loyalty.

Even though it has been years since I saw the following ladies, I would love to talk about them as well because they too left an imprint on my childhood. Jeniffer (Jen) and Kathleen (Kate) are examples of friends I made through church as opposed to school. Jen's grandmother always used to talk to my mother and Kate's parents used to talk to my parents, no naturally all of the adults figured, "Hey! Let's introduce the kids!" And then I hit it off with them. :)

l-r: Kate, Me, Lauren, and Jen

But here is something a little different about these two. Jen was a grade below me whereas Kate was two grades above me, plus I didn't go to their schools, so therefore we weren't in each other's space as often. I see Jen as a little sister and Kate, on the other hand, as a big sister figure. Like myself, Kate is an only child as well. :)

I would hang out with them individually, especially Jen, or with my other friends. Jen and I would explore the choir loft at our church, which was the first activity we really enjoyed together. Thereafter we always used to hang out. Jen and Kate were often included in my birthday adventures and get togethers with Lauren, as evidenced by the photo above. They would also always come to see my play performances, whether I was acting in them or writing them.

I'm thankful that we all have social media to keep in touch. :)