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, 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. :)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships - My Early Childhood Friends

I'll start this year's series off with the first two women in my life, my mom Lucille and my Aunt Ea, or simply, Ea. Her real name is Maria, but as a kid I struggled to say it, so my Grandma Mary suggested that it be shortened to just "Ea" and it stuck. I still call her that to this day and now my teenage cousin, her nephew Michael, calls her the same.

l-r: Ea, Me, and Mom
My Mom and Ea are sisters and are both 100% Italian American, so they definitely contributed to my Italian culture pride. FYI, I'm not Italian at all on my father's side, hence my last name.

I am very thankful for my caring tight knit family and cherish the experiences we share.

My mom is entirely the best. I love her so much. I mean, sure like any mother and daughter we have our disagreements, but we have such a close and affectionate relationship. I'm an only child, so I tend to spend time with my parents a lot and my mom and I share mutual interests. We always do things together, such as go to the theater and movies, watch TV, color, exercise, and cook, particularly the traditional Christmas Eve seafood meal. Another favorite mother/daughter activity we enjoy is going out to eat for appetizers and drinks lol.

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful mom. We are sometimes mistaken for sisters (she loves that lol). She is truly my best friend and we're constantly laughing together. I can talk to her about anything. She gives me pretty good advice and tends to be right about everything in the long run lol. She is always there for me and constantly encourages me to heighten my self-esteem and confidence. Without fail she shows her neverending love and support for my writing and anything else I do. I love her so very much and my friends love her too.

Then there is who I call my second mom, my Aunt Ea. Ea was my designated babysitter along with my two grandmothers. When I was a child, she was my built in playmate, often taking part in homemade plays with me. She says that even though I no longer really play with toys anymore, now she can spend time with me in other ways. Normally when I talk or blog about Paper Mill Playhouse shows, I see them with her. See? There is clearly a theme. No matter what my age, we often go out to eat together. I also like going to the Borgata in Atlantic City with her. lol :)

Ea watched me grow up and was always there for birthdays and other big events. I may call her my second mom, but she is also my official godmother, assigned at my Baptism, so therefore she makes sure to instill Catholic teachings into Michael (her godson) and myself consistently. Her house is also my second home. My family often has dinner there (it always smells good in her house lol) and I sometimes sleep over there too. I attribute plenty of fond lifetime memories to Ea. I love her. :)

Cyndi (on the left) and I at my miniature dachshund
Jeffrey's birthday party that I threw for him. lol
Because I grew up an only child and only have male cousins (Michael on my mom's side, Chuckie and Jimmy on my dad's), I did not really have any female relationships my age during my initial years of life. Then I remembered that Cyndi, my neighbor, was there to fill that void. Cyndi herself has two older brothers and became, I guess you could say, my surrogate sister.

When my parents moved in, they befriended the couple across the street. Eventually both my mom and Cyndi's mom were expecting at the same time. Cyndi was born in late August and then I came around early November. Cyndi's father said that we could play together until we eventually made our own friends and we did just that. It was easy to hang out because we lived right across the street from each other. She would come over my house and I would go over hers, but most of the time our conversations consisted of us shouting to each other from our opposite lawns. :P

Cyndi's father's prediction ultimately came true. Cyndi and I went to different schools and then our separate ways as we got older, her becoming an athlete and me becoming the artsy fartsy you know and love. However, although our play dates have dwindled, we still talk. :) Despite our differing interests, we have remained friends. It's nice to have her there. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Stef's Female Friendships Women's History Month Project!

This Women's History Month I am going to do something extra special. For my series "Real Influential Women Role Models (Real and Fictitious)" in the past, I have written about fictional female characters and the occasional celebrities and historical figures who I feel exhibit characteristics of the strong woman. I also spotlighted several female TV show cast of characters that compose the nature of their particular shows. Now I am planning something completely different.

Last Women's History Month, I decided to write blog posts focusing on the various groups of women who have shaped me, from family members to friendships I have made during my different stages of life. I've noticed that I have individual groups of friends that each has its own title depending on our friendship's theme. I was going to share these last year, but because I was preoccupied and never felt like they were completely ready, it got too much past March to share them so I decided to try to stop being such a perfectionist with them and to postpone them until this year. :P

So throughout March (the plan is every Friday), I am going to share stories about some of my closest friends and how they have each contributed to my life and continue to do so. :)

I'm very excited about these heartwarming installments. Stay tuned!

Happy Women's History Month, everyone! :D

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Special Blog Project Announcement Tomorrow ;)

I feel like there is a lot that I want to talk about on here. There are posts that I am working on and brainstorming that I feel I should get out before February is through. But I've decided that for now I am going to dedicate this blog to a special cheerful project that I am hoping to finally deliver throughout March and I don't want any other posts to get in the middle of it. Details to come. ;)