Tuesday, December 20, 2016

16 Highlights of 2016

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.

Top 10:

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.

At the airport! From left to right: Amy, me, Sammy, Sarah (though everyone calls her Mikey because of her roleplay character), and Morgan (even though everyone calls her Charlie). What isn't shown in this picture is the fact that several of us got knocked over in the rush for hugs.
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.
2. I turned sixteen and got my learner's permit in April.

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.

Some of my best friends have been made through this writer's camp, and my second year there was no different! There were seven of us who regularly got up to shenanigans, laughed hysterically into the early morning, slept in each other's dorm rooms (I think the RAs gave up early on when it came to getting all of us to sleep in our own beds), and wrote like the wind. The teachers were awesome and the week flew by. In fact, it was so fun filled, that I'm even writing a screenplay that's not-so-loosely based on our adventures there. 90% of the events depicted actually happened. I posted a bit here, but I'll share a little more down below.
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.
Guys, I found it!
Found what?
The most terrible fan-fiction ever to inhabit this earth.
I bet I've read worse. OneDirection fics aren't something you just recover from.
Dana all but stumbles over to Sarah in her haste to grip her shoulders intensely.
Oh no, my friend. This is no OneDirection fan-fiction. This is a work of art. And by art I mean trash. And by trash I mean flaming piles of garbage. And by flaming piles of garbage I mean--
I think she gets it.
This, this, is a Draco Malfoy fan-fiction. In which he's paired up with a vampire named Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way. I kid you not.
I wish you were kidding. Do we have to put ourselves through this torture again?
I think we must. Consider it Initiation Part Two. For the newbies.
Should I be scared?
Where's Kat? Shouldn't she hear this, too?
As if on cue--and it's quite possible she was waiting for this exact cue--Kat bursts out of the large closet at the end of the room, arms thrown to the sky.
I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm ready to party!
Oh my.
I think we're ready to hear this flaming pile of garbage.
Dana gives Sam a sympathetic look.
You will never be ready.
Dana clears her throat, then reads from the laptop in the most over-the-top dramatic voice known to humankind.
"Hi my name is Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that's how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don't know who she is get da hell out of here!). I'm not related to Gerard way but I wish I was because he is an effing hottie!" I KID YOU NOT. Anyways, skipping ahead . . . "It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was happy about. A lot of preps stare at me. I put up my middle finger at them."
Do you feel like you're dying a little yet?
I think I've already died.
Every time I read this frickin' thing.
I'm weeping on the inside.
This is fabulous. I hate it so much. I want to punch it.
Now look what you've done, Dana. You've turned Kat to violence!
Honestly, no offense, Kat, but I get the feeling you were already turned to violence before you even got here.
I'll spare you the rest.
4. My mom took me to see my first Broadway show ("Les Misérables") in August.

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.

5. I took my first college classes at my local community college starting in August.

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.
6. I went to my first school dance in October.

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.
8. My grandparents visited for Thanksgiving and took our family to see "Something Rotten" on Broadway in November.

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!
9. Our family saw "Hamilton" in December.

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.
5. I went to my first sleepover in August.

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.
6. Our family watched the "Gilmore Girls" revival in November.

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!


Jesse Porter said...

Fun, Fun, Fun in the summertime--and all the way thru 2016.

Siths and Jedis said...

Sounds like you had as much fun as me, maybe more. I love the story you did for writers camp! It's even more funny when you are reading it with Dana.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Jesse Porter

Absolutely! :) I'm looking forward to 2017, too.

@Siths and Jedis

Ha ha, it was pretty busy and fun-filled! Thanks! :) Dana's great at reading these things out loud. I'm hoping I can somehow turn the script into a movie or something eventually.

Ophelia said...

So, so happy to meet you and have you be a part of my life. You and the rest of the writing camp kids were honestly the highlight of my year.

Jimmy said...

What a great year for you! We have Regal theaters here and one of my best friends manages the Century 21 theater in Albuquerque. He's super geeky about movies. Of course I have no geek in me so I'm not sure how we stay friends. (You can laugh all you want at that, but I was being serious.)

I still can't believe you saw Hamilton! That had to be awesome.

One of my 2016 highlights was camping in Pagosa, CO with our new 4-wheeler and tubing down the river, which in retrospect was probably too dangerous for my younger girls. And, let's see. Well I recently had a birthday and my wife and girls pitched in and got me a stereo with a turntable so I've been able to listen to all my old albums that I had stored in the garage attic. I was flooded with memories of 7th grade when I got my first stereo and the Foreigner 4 album to go with it. Man I loved my stereo. And my bike. I couldn't have made it through childhood without those two items.

Let's face it, you had an exceptional year thanks to Broadway! I can't really compete with that--and I'm so happy for you!

Dr. Mark said...

Great recap. At first I was like, "16? That's a lot of things to come up with." And then I remembered how long ago January 1, 2016 was, and how I feel like we've lived 3 lifetimes in one year, and I was like, "16? Whatever. So easy." :)

It's fun to hear your thoughts on a really fun year. 2017, bring it!

musingsfromnevillesnavel said...

Ahhh this was so much fun to read! Sounds like you did a lot this year. :) I'm going to do a similar post sometime soon, the "X-number of things I did in 2016 that I'd never done before" idea that I got from a year-in-review post your mom and dad did.

Rain said...

I love musicals! I can't believe you've seen Hamilton - I may have a minor addiction to the soundtrack. Just a minor one! I mean, it's not like I've barely listened to anything else in weeks... I'm glad you enjoyed it!
It sounds like you've done absolutely LOADS this year!
Is college university over there?

The Magic Violinist said...


So glad to have met you, too! :) Camp is a magical place.


It's a fun place to work! I think most of the managers there are pretty geeky, even if some try to hide it. ;)

I still can't believe it either! It was amazing.

Ha ha, I'd be way too scared to go tubing, but I know people love it. That's awesome! Music seems to have a really strong connection with memories. I had a creative assignment for English class that involved making a timeline of your life with song lyrics.

I'm glad we both had good years!

@Dr. Mark

I knew I wanted to do sixteen things from the start, and I thought I'd have to stretch a bit for the last two or three, but it ended up being really hard to narrow down the list! This year was definitely a good kind of busy. :)


Thanks! :) Oh, so much, you have no idea (or maybe you do now that you've read this post!). I can't wait to read your post!

The Magic Violinist said...


Ahhhh, we have lots of talking to do then! I think lots of us have had "minor" addictions to the "Hamilton" soundtrack this year. xD It was the only thing I listened to for a good couple of months. I can sing each song to speed, which shows just how much I've listened to it.

I have! And a four-year university is in the near future for me now. Just a couple more years. :)

Boquinha said...

I love this post so much! I love hearing your thoughts on the year and all these things!! SUCH a full year. Wow. Good things. Wonderful things. We are very lucky indeed. What a joy. I'm happy you have good friends and fun hobbies and interests. Thank you for sharing all of this with us! Some of this stuff makes me think, "We did that this year?!?" It's crazy to me, for example, that the Supernatural Girls' visit was just this past April. Whaaaa?? Amazing. And musicals. So many musicals! I love sharing so many of these things together, too. Aaaaaah. So awesome. I love you!!

The Magic Violinist said...


Right? It seems like years ago we did some of these things and other times it just seems like yesterday. Time is crazy when we're busy having fun! I love you, too! :)

Loony Literate said...

Ahhh so many things to comment on! I've been to a murder mystery party before and it was so much fun. And you saw Les Mis, how exciting! I saw my first ballet this year which was a lot of fun :) And how exciting that you got your learner's permit. I'm on my green Ps now so I can drive on my own and I get my full licence in two years...seems like it's gone so fast.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Loony Literate

I'd totally do another murder mystery party some time. With my love of shows like "Castle" and "Sherlock" and "Veronica Mars," it was perfect for me.

That's so cool! :) I've only seen the Nutcracker for ballets, but any time I see clips of them they always look gorgeous.

That's exciting! It must be cool (and kind of weird) to feel fully independent with a license.