As the year wraps up, usually on New Year's Eve, I like to write this gigantic post that looks back on my favorite books and songs and various other categories. As a sort of warm up to that post, here's a list of my top ten highlights of 2016, plus six honorable mentions.
1. Our family hosted long-time online friends of mine in April.
Best birthday present ever. To celebrate my turning sixteen this year, my parents, my aunt, and four super close friends of mine that I met through a "Supernatural" roleplay group on Tumblr surprised me with a visit that lasted several days but felt like just a few hours. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as I did when they came. It was so much fun. And Charlie and Mikey came back in July for another visit! It felt equally as short but was just as fun.
|My mom and all four of them made me wear a tiara and feather boa for my birthday when we spent the day in town.|
|All of us making moose antlers as we play "Curses."|
|And because we're basically children when we're together, Charlie and I had to steal Mikey's phone and take ridiculous selfies.|
Driving is way harder than it looks once you get behind the wheel. Those first few days in the parking lot consisted of a lot of jerking forward, crawling to stops, making turns that were way too wide, and then jerking forward again. It was also fun trying to navigate all of that with not only a parent in the passenger's seat giving me instructions on what to do, but a little brother in the back saying, "Did you use a turn signal just now?! You're five over the speed limit!"
But it's still exciting! I drive to and from work with little to no difficulty and have gotten a lot more practice on main roads.
3. I went to writer's camp in July.
|First night! From left to right: Sam, me, Peyton, Dana, Anna Marie, Kat, and Sarah.|
|The original writer's camp squad. #2015 Peyton and I were roommates across the hall from Dana and Anna Marie. Every day was like an episode of "Friends."|
|I don't even remember what was happening here, but it was glorious.|
|Awkward family photo time.|
|Our attempt at an Indie album cover. This was Peyton's idea. I'm pretty sure a few of us still have it as the background on our phones.|
|Dana turned criminal for a few minutes and stole four rolls from the cafeteria. This is me trying to look like I know nothing about what's happening. As you can see, I have a terrible poker face.|
The girls are in Dana and Anna Marie's dorm room again. Anna Marie and Peyton sit on one bed and Sam, Sarah, and Kate sit on the other. Dana is standing at the desk, searching for something on her laptop. Kat is nowhere to be found.
I got really into musicals this past year, and before discovering "Hamilton," "Les Mis" was by far my favorite. So it was especially cool that it was the first one I got to see performed on Broadway. My mom and I took a train into New York, caught a Ham4Ham show with Rory O'Malley (yay for going on a Wednesday! It was one of the last shows they did, too), got sushi for lunch, and saw the show. It was amazing. The talent alone was fantastic, but for a pretty sparse set overall, the special effects they did for certain scenes were really cool. I loved it. And I got an autograph from Madame Thénardier after the show.
I was really nervous at first to get started at college, seeing as I was only a Junior in high school and hadn't ever taken a regular class in person before. But it was really fun! I started off with General Psychology and added in a late start English Comp 101 class. Both were already interesting to me and both, while challenging, were completely doable. I got As for nearly every assignment and made some great friends in the process. Both of my teachers were funny and engaging, too. Next semester I'll be doubling up my classes and taking some tougher subjects (like biology and public speaking *shudders*).
|My school supplies.|
|First day of class.|
My good friend TJ asked me to Homecoming, and while I'd only seen the cliché versions of school dances (usually ending in someone vomiting, relationship drama, or the Prom Queen getting pig's blood dumped on her), I had a ton of fun. We hung out with the band and theater kids and awkwardly danced toward the side of the room. And I really loved my dress.
7. My dad and I went to our first "Supernatural" convention in November.
After spending the past two years watching every video from every convention I could get my hands on, my dad got us tickets to go to one in New Jersey maybe seven or eight months ahead of time. I used that time to create a list of episode highlights from all eleven and a quarter seasons that we could watch before we went so he would get all the same references the fans got.We barely made it through, but we finished the list all the same. It was SO MUCH FUN. Just being around that many fans in one crowded space was cool. The fandom is so supportive and the actors were just as hysterical and amazing as I'd expected. I got to see a panel with Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, and Osric Chau first. They're all very positive and full of good energy. Mark Sheppard was, of course, nothing but dry wit and deep messages. He spent most of the panel wandering through the crowd instead of staying on the stage, because he can do whatever he wants. Matt Cohen, Rob Benedict, and Richard Speight Jr. are like fully grown toddlers. The energy and the joking around never. stops. And then Misha Collins closed the show, and he is WONDERFUL. He's extremely thoughtful with his fans and always speaks directly to them when he's answering their questions. He has conversations with them just like he's talking to an old friend. Plus there was the added bonus of my name getting drawn in the lottery to ask him a question! I was freaking out so much I forgot the first few minutes of the panel as I was waiting in line to talk to him, but it was WORTH IT.
Click HERE to see the video of the panel (cued up to my question). I'd like to think I was mostly composed in the presence of a celebrity I've admired for two years. I probably wasn't as composed as I'd like. Pretty sure I came close to crying before and after. During is a blur.
|It was hard to get clear pictures from where we were sitting, but this is Louden Swain playing as Richard Speight Jr. opened up the convention.|
|Mark Sheppard walked RIGHT BY ME.|
|I spotted Misha in the hallway on my way to the bathroom.|
|Matt Cohen, Richard Speight Jr., and Rob Benedict getting ready for a crazy panel.|
So this year was apparently the year of musicals. "Something Rotten" was, even though the title suggests otherwise, absolutely hilarious. If you're a fan of musical theater and/or Shakespeare, you'll love this. They have an entire showstopper where the entire purpose is to make fun of musicals. It's brilliant.
After the show, Max and I got an autograph from Shakespeare, who was being played by none other than the one and only ADAM FREAKING PASCAL. That's right, the original Roger from "Rent." I fangirled more than a little.
|There's Adam Pascal signing my Playbill!|
We miraculously spotted a Facebook post from the official "Hamilton" page announcing another batch of ticket sales and nabbed seats all the way in the back, in the balcony, up against the wall. But we could see everything from up there and it was beyond incredible to be there live. It's not an exaggeration to say I'd listened to the entire soundtrack hundreds of times this year. I knew every single word before going to see it, and it was still like the whole thing was brand new. The choreography, lighting, and stage effects with their double turntables was spellbinding. We were a little disappointed not to see all of the original cast (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, and several others were already gone when we went), but holy crap the whole cast was so talented. Javier Muñoz perfectly embodied Hamilton like we'd seen with Lin, but he totally made him his own. We saw two understudies, Michael Luwoye as Burr (who is also the alternate for Hamilton, the first actor to play both parts!) and Syndee Winters as Eliza. They did not disappoint! And Mandy Gonzalez was everything I'd hoped she'd be as Angelica. But Rory O'Malley totally stole the show as King George III. Hysterical. He was perfect for the role. I started crying as soon as the first notes started and didn't stop until the end of "My Shot," but the whole time I was trying to blink my tears away so I could see everything that was happening! I laughed and cried through the whole thing. It lived up to every expectation.
And after the show, we shivered in the cold to wait and see who would come out for autographs. They were encouraging kids to get up front, so Max got one from Syndee Winters right away, and then we each got pictures and autographs from Nicholas Christopher (George Washington) and Michael Luwoye! They were super kind and patient with every fan. Michael Luwoye complimented my Gryffindor scarf, too, which only made him about a thousand times cooler than he already was.
All this to say, this was definitely a very memorable highlight from the year.
10. Our family went to two Cursed Child parties for the midnight release in July.
I was seven with the Deathly Hallows came out, so even though I remember lots from the party our local bookstore at the time hosted, I don't remember everything. I remember tons more from the midnight releases of the last two movies. So it was really fun to be able to enjoy the excitement from other Potter fans all over again this year. We went to a party with a bunch of our geeky friends to eat themed foods and play Harry Potter trivia (I got more than a little competitive), and then we headed over to our Indie bookstore for even more games and fun. I was second in line for a book and I devoured half of it before going to bed that night. I would've read the entire thing if it weren't for the fact that I had to work the next day and I needed to be semi-responsible with my sleep that night. But my mangers know me too well, because two of them asked if I'd finished reading the book yet when I went into work that day.
Top 6 honorable mentions:
1. I had a murder mystery party for my sixteenth birthday in April.
I'd been to a murder mystery dinner at the Renaissance Faire a couple years ago and loved it. With all the detective shows I watch, how could I not? So it was lots of fun putting together a murder mystery dinner of my own with my parents for my friends and me. It was a steampunk theme and most of us dressed up accordingly. The dinner was delicious and trying to figure out who'd committed the murder was both parts enjoyable and infuriating. After over an hour of careful clue gathering, we were all ready to cast our accusations. None of us were right, but we got pretty close.
2. Our family went to the beach in New Jersey in June and Delaware in September.
All of us love the beach. We go every year for day after day of eating seafood and relaxing by (or in) the ocean. I always take a few books with me to read on the beach and end up bringing at least half a dozen back with me from the bookstore on the boardwalk. We always leave happy and content.
3. Our family took NOH8 pictures in June.
The NOH8 campaign works to promote LGBTQ+ equality through these beautifully taken pictures of people with pieces of duct tape across their mouths, which represents the LGBTQ+ community's voices being silenced, and the NOH8 symbol on their cheek. The pictures are always really empowering and being in a room with that many people working for the same cause was almost spiritual. It was a really great experience all around.
4. I got a job at Regal Theater in July.
After a couple of interviews, it was clear that Regal was where I was meant to be in the end. My interview was conducted by my geeky manger who's a huge Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel fan. We ended up talking about Captain America almost as much as we did my skills for the job. The flexibility the job offers is great, and all of my co-workers are really nice and hardworking. Everyone loves working there. Plus, you can see movies for free! And eat all the popcorn you want during your shift!
|My friend Shavon and I snuck in a selfie during our shift.|
I've hosted a lot of sleepovers over the years, but this was the first time I went away to someone's house for a sleepover, and it was a huge hit. I went with a bunch of my friends from writer's camp and we spent the whole night making ridiculous music videos, eating way too much candy, and watching about half of a "Sherlock" episode before we all crashed. I'm not sure anyone ever ended up in their designated spots for sleeping. Dana and I were curled up on the couch. I used the armrest as a pillow. Anna Marie was on the other couch. Sam was on the floor, but I'm not sure she ever slept on the blankets.
|It's kind of fuzzy, but these were the costumes involved when we made the music video.|
It was an all-day event. We got lots of takeout, made coffee (of course), and other junk foods appropriate for the occasion. Pop Tarts and Mallomars were involved. We binged all four episodes in a row. I won't say too much about it for the sake of spoilers, but I really enjoyed most of it. And if you want to have a more in-depth discussion, you can always go to my "Connect With Me" page so we can have a conversation on the side. ;)
That's been my year! How was your 2016? I want to hear all about it. Leave a comment!