New Year’s Eve Mystery: The Case

Like I said in the last post, when I thought about wanting to do a Murder Mystery Party at some point, I knew who I was asking first – the Game Night group. I knew they’d take little to no convincing, as we tend to like dressing up to play games because that’s pretty much the only way to get us to play a full game anymore – unless it involves alcohol.


This time, the only alcohol was a shot before the game (for the adults) and the rest was saved until the case was solved. And thank God, too, because there was a lot to keep straight. I was giggly without alcohol. I just kept looking around the room saying “My dream has come true.”

It’s really better to show you how the night went, rather than tell you. But the gist of it is, everyone has a part to play and everyone has a motive. The murderer didn’t know they were the murderer until after they’d committed the crime (which basically was us turning off the light for a second and then back on and looking at Oreo – our pretend victim – and screaming).


(Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this post. Nor were they hurt at the event. Nor have they stopped being called Steve sometimes.)

The rest of the night we spent questioning and blaming and talking about each other – because that’s what our assignments we received said to do. However, not a single one of us guessed who the murderer was when that time came at the end. Wasn’t the alcohol’s fault – or our acting, everyone put on a good show. We just didn’t look at the provided “evidence” close enough and therefore none of us should be detectives in real life. Except maybe Brendan. He was close at one point.

Some highlights of the evening:
– Caitlin fainting after the murder
– Jennifer’s voice getting progressively deeper the further she got into character
– Jennifer helping Rachel with stretches (as seen here)


– No one talking about it beforehand but all deciding to treat Liz the same way (as someone you don’t want to be talking to for longer than about 10 seconds). I was the only exception, because I was her lawyer.


– Shane somehow convincing everyone to give him money.
– The dance-off



– Rachel dancing along w/Janet Jackson on TV, but on a delay
– Sami and Austin’s in-character drama
– Shane going full guido in the middle of the game and also sounding a lot like Fonzie from Happy Days
– Shane checking envelopes and drinks for Chuckie before he handed them to him
– Brendan’s accusing of so many people
– Matt just giggling and smiling a lot
– Watching my best friends have so much fun with this party and saying how much they wanted to do it again once it was over.

So here is (part of) our night in photos. I love these kids.

If the whole writing thing doesn’t pan out

In 1993 two important events happened in my young (then 9-year-old) life. First? Baby Einstein was born and the world became a better place.

Second? Free Willy swam into theaters. And my heart. And changed my life…for a couple of years.

I’m not over-exaggerating that movie’s affect — effect? I never remember — on me. I was 9. And impressionable. And looking for a career path, apparently.

But wait, you say, “didn’t you always want to be a writer?” And you’re correct there, I did. At age 3 I wanted to be a bus driver though. Dreams change.

So I saw this movie. And all of the sudden, the only job that sounded like it made ANY sense at all to me was that of a marine biologist. I wanted to work at Sea World or a zoo or anywhere I could feed and train and hang out with whales and seals and dolphins.

Related? The only song I was waiting to hear them play on the nonstop playlist of his songs they had on the radio after Michael Jackson’s death was the one from this movie.

Here’s a refresher.

So anyways. The years passed and I realized I sucked at science and my career plans changed. I joined the newspaper staff at my school in eighth grade and never looked back.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t lost my love for sea creatures. The ocean still has a special place in my heart and so do most of the things that live in it.

And for several years now, I’ve wanted to go to an aquarium to pretend for a day that I’d gotten that job I’d wanted when I was 9.

Cut to our Boston trip, a day Rachel had to work and couldn’t entertain us and an awesome aquarium that my traveling partner (and Ines) were game to hit up with me.


We saw penguins (some were on vacation, but the babies were still there!) and seals that did tricks and I pet a stingray and OMG I think I want to be a marine biologist again.

Or, I mean, just work at an aquarium.

So before we get started on the magical tour of the aquarium…. Sami and I had something to check off the scavenger hunt list. Picture with a penguin.


OK. So the very first thing we did not long after walking on the door? PET A MOTHEREFFING STINGRAY.

Look at this childlike joy I am expressing as we watch them swim out to us.


Seriously I am ecstatic as hell.

so excited!

OMG here they come. I think I was the oldest person at this exhibit by at least 20 years (not counting Sami and Ines).




They feel so weird. Rubbery and squishy and I can’t believe it was one of these things that took out the Crocodile Hunter. R.I.P. Steve Irwin.

Sami and Ines tried it out too.


Then it was on to the jellyfish room. They’re hypnotizing to look at.


See, here’s Sami, hypnotized.


Baby Penguins! I think they were pissed they didn’t get to go on vacation, btw.


Here’s Sami being all anthropological with some seal skulls.


We stayed and watched these seals FOR.EV.ER.


Then we remembered there were more fish to see.


So, Sami took oceanography last year at college and in addition to providing some of the greatest Tweets I’ve ever read, she learned lots about the ocean. So much so that she never wants to enter the ocean again and can differentiate whale sounds. And impersonate them.

Case in point.

Here she is communicating with fish.


And singing to the Dory-fish.

There were lots of Finding Nemo references that day.


Exhibit B:

Among the other sights of the day? A scary piranha. (Seriously they just sit there and look creepy).


An electric eel.


And the delicious but ugly salmon.


Aw, that’s a horrible picture to end on. So here’s a better one.


I like tuhhtles.

You guys, when I was at that aquarium, I was so happy.

Did I regret abandoning my childhood dreams of whale/dolphin training? Nah, not really.

Did I want to steal a seal or a baby penguin? Yes.

And I wanted to watch Free Willy.


See what I did there? I’m so smart. i should totally be on Jeopardy.

Ugh, dammit, Jeopardy.

As many all of you know, the Jeopardy online test was Tuesday night. I was as prepared as I could possibly be, I guess, meaning I didn’t really do anything beforehand any differently from the last time I took it.

Well, I take that back. Sami texted me like, four questions and also gave me a quick German/philosophy lesson during a phone call last week. So I was more prepared than last time.

Still failed pretty miserably though. I think. I could tell you what the questions were, but the Jeopardy test is a lot like a job interview, in that I get really nervous and have no idea what happened as soon as it’s over.

I only know that I got about 15-20 questions out of the 50 and that’s because most of them were pop culture-related or about books or something I already knew and I’d give you an example but I seriously just sat here for two minutes trying to think of one of the questions and the only one I could think of had to do with what show Sofia Vergara is on.

Oh and I also got one right about Led Zeppelin, but it was as time ran out so I’d only typed “Led.” Wonder if they’ll count that.

I do remember they give you 15 seconds for each question and besides the fact that a lot of the questions are harder than the ones that make it on the air, 15 seconds is NOT THAT LONG. I realize you have to be prepared for this once you’re on the show and all, but this test doesn’t account for outside factors, like sleep-deprivation from spending a weekend in Disney chaperoning middle- and high-schoolers.

I have no idea when they notify you if you moved on but I do know that in the case of Jeopardy, no news actually is bad news, because they don’t tell you that you didn’t make it.

Still got my fingers kind of crossed for the slim chance not many people took it or did worse than me so they have to take me. I hyped it up a lot beforehand, too, people were talking about having parties to watch me on the show and I was already spending my prize money. Not really seriously, of course, but OMG how cool would it have been???

I’ll let you know, of course, if I hear any differently, and I still maintain I’d totally rock the personality part of the try-out if I were to get that far. But for now, it’s just time to wait and see.

And there’s always next year’s test. I’m gonna start studying now.

Dammit, Trebek

I’ve been sucked in again. And all it took was an e-mail. That I should have unsubscribed from.

Back in February I attempted to make my dreams come true. Oh what dreams? Just the ones where I get on Jeopardy and dominate.

Whenever it’s on, I play along, usually guessing the answer just as fast as — if not faster than — the contestants actually playing. A considerable number of times I have known the answer to the Final Jeopardy question.

Well, what does one do when one has all this knowledge and confidence? Signs up to take the online test to see if you can make it to the first of several rounds determining whether or not you are a contestant.

So that’s what I did. In February. I had high hopes for this year. And then, in February, all hell broke loose. My appendix needed to be freed and I failed at accomplishing a goal I’d had since at least 5 years ago.

They trick you, see. You get your hopes up and then take a sample test and get questions like this:

Yeah. So you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Until the end, when they tell you Congratulations. Congratulations that your computer is capable of allowing you to take this test on the date that has been pre-selected.

‘Cause when you get to take the actual test, the questions are nothing like this. They are more like “What are the names of three of the eight rivers in This Country You Didn’t Even Know Existed?” And also, “What was the third queen of England allergic to?”


So. I will, once again, not be preparing for this test – it’s set for 8 p.m. Jan. 17, a day after I spend a packed three-day weekend with a bunch of teenagers at Disney World for a church trip. I’ll let you know the results. But they probably won’t be good.

Maybe I should start a Twitter campaign. #LauraPlaysJeopardy or something like that. It seems to work for some things, and some people. Usually when it’s something important.

And this is something important. We’re talking dreams coming true here, people.

Wherein a concert can make your dreams come true

Remember how I have a girl crush on Katy Perry? And how I said for the past few months how much I would enjoy being able to attend her musical performance in Louisville in September?

Well, it’s a good thing I talked about it as much as I did, because boy did it pay off.

One of my very good friends, Daniel, mentioned over our routine of Penn Station sandwiches with avocados he brought from home that he had an extra ticket.

And he let me have it pay him for it!

That’s what it looks like when dreams are about to come true.

You guys, it was everything I thought it would be.

First of all, it smelled like cotton candy in the Yum! Center, which I’m sure was intentional but may have been made possible by the fact that vendors were selling cotton candy all over the place. And the things cost $10, so they’d better smell great. Or do tricks. Or something. Which reminds me, I still owe Liz $10 for that cotton candy.

After the cotton candy – where I had a ridiculous amount of straight sugar in a short amount of time, something that hasn’t been equalled except for that time at a youth group thing in high school where I snorted powdered sugar – it was time for me to hug Daniel a lot and tell him thanks for making my dreams come true and, oh yeah, watch the frigging concert from amazing seats.

Best concert I’ve been to, at least in terms of a big arena show. There was always something happening, I sang and yelled until I almost lost my voice. I got absolutely no usable pictures from my end to share with you – but once again, Daniel has come through. He got some great shots thanks to amazing zoomage and a badass camera, so I’ll share a few with you.

P.S. Love this guy. I owe him. Not for the ticket though – I paid him for it that night.

Girl Crush

I’ve told you about my various pretend boyfriends, before. Like Jason Segel, who I fully intend to marry. Or Naveen Andrews. Or Justin Timberlake. Or Rob Dyrdek.

I can be a little boy crazy.

But there’s one girl I kind of love a lot. And not in a like, be my girlfriend way, just a more I wish I was you but really I just think you’re great way.

Katy Perry.

Yeah her songs aren’t mind-blowingly deep or the stuff that changes your life, but it’s good stuff. I don’t really know a song of hers I don’t like.

And then I read the cover story about her in Rolling Stone a year or so ago. And she’s normal. She’s surprisingly normal. Like, we’d be best friends if we met in real life.

She’s coming here for a concert in a month. I missed my shot to buy tickets. And now they’re sold out, I think, or ridonkulously expensive or if I can get them I have to sit up so high in the arena I might as well just listen from outside on the street.

I went out with one of my good friends, Daniel, the other day and the subject of the concert actually came up. And, wouldn’t you know it, he’s got an extra ticket. That he’ll sell me. At a reasonable price.

And, even better, we’re in one of the 100-something sections. As in, you can see Katy Perry. And not just the 10,000 people with better seats than you.


Needless to say, I’m pumped. I can’t wait. I’m sure it’ll be awesome, too, because, in the words of my favorite person in the world right now, Katy Perry’s just “delightful.”

Sweet dreams, little one

When stressed: some people develop a twitch. Others grit and grind their teeth while they sleep (which I actually kind of do too).

Weirdos, like me, have dreams that their graduation from high school was a fluke.

Yep. One of many indicators that I need a chill pill is when I wake up in the morning wondering if I really passed that class I needed to graduate. It’s happened for the past few years – obviously any and all times I’ve been stressed. Even if I think I’ve calmed down before bed, I wake up in the morning wondering how in the world they let me graduate if I failed Physics.

Uh, well, here you go. When I looked up failure on – obviously the definitive source on psychoanalysis – this is what it says:

To dream of failure, signifies fears of inadequacy and low self-esteem. You are not applying yourself to the fullest potential. Or you are overwhelmed with anxiety and the pressure to excel.


Also, this – when I looked up high school:

To dream that you have to repeat high school, suggests that you are doubting your accomplishments and the goals that you have already completed. You feel that you may not be measuring up to the expectation of others. The dream may occur because some recent situation may have awakened old anxieties and insecurities.

Wanna know my problems/anxieties/fears? You just saw them, summed up in a paragraph, seriously.

I’ve had a lot of bad dreams lately, none of which I can really remember, only that I woke up after them mad, sad or really happy that it was just a dream and wasn’t real.

But these, I always remember. This last one was my Latin class. Three years of that language that no one speaks. But damn if it didn’t help with Spanish.

So, yeah. I’m trying to get the stress and anxiety under control, which I’ll gladly take tips for. And here’s hoping my dreams focus a lot more on things like being on the beach with Bradley Cooper – just an idea…

Putting my dreams on hold

Apparently, my time spent at home recovering from the appendectomy would have been better spent studying rivers in Europe and authors from other countries. Oh, and every language but English. Because that knowledge – not my knowledge of the name of every Kevin Smith movie ever made – is what would have gotten me on Jeopardy.

Yeah. Remember how I told you I was taking the test? Well, it didn’t go so well.

Here I am, ready at my computer this past Tuesday night at 8 p.m., just like the website said to be. I didn’t study or anything because, well, I pretty much kick ass when I play at home against the contestants on TV every night at 7:30. How hard could it be?


Out of 50 questions, I got maybe 10 right? I don’t know. They don’t tell you your score. They just tell you if you’ve moved on to the next round, which in my case would, in a perfect world, be another practice test, interview and personality assessment in Lexington sometime soon to determine if they want me on the show.

I’m thinking it’s not gonna happen.

Whatever. My personality’s awesome. And I know lots of stuff.

Alex Trebek is really condescending anyway. I’d probably get myself in trouble.

Idea for a career change that comes up everytime I see a new musical

I am by no means an awesome singer.

I can read music. I can match pitch. I can carry a tune. And given the right song to work with, I can harmonize like a champ.

The extent of my singing includes that time I was in choir at church when I was like, 5 – you know, when everyone’s in choir and it doesn’t matter if you can sing because “Look how cute they are!” – a couple times singing with a group at church as a teenager and the occasional (and usually beer-induced) karaoke.

I sang by myself once at karaoke. It was bad. I blame Ashlee Simpson (my song choice for the evening). Luckily, my friend Katie was there and instead of looking at all the people wondering why I decided to sing in public, I just stared at her and pretended I was anywhere else.

Since then, it’s improved a little. I sing with my friends sometimes at karaoke – Liz and I do a pretty impressive version of “Cowboy Take Me Away” and Chuckie and I kill it on the FRIENDS theme song – “I’ll Be There For You.” But I could never sing solo. Or in front of hundreds of people. Or on American Idol.

Which is why in my car, my apartment and my shower, I take the time to practice for the career change that will pretty much only happen IN MY DREAMS. What career, you ask? Oh, the one where I give up the whole writing and photography thing and join a touring company and perform in musicals. I could have parts in Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler On The Roof, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hairspray and Les Miserables. Doesn’t matter. I know all the songs for all of them. And now, I can add a new one to the list.

About a week ago I saw Wicked. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Ever since that night, I’ve listened to the songs from it at least three times a day. And when nobody else – except maybe my sisters…or Liz – is around, I belt it out like I’m the one on the stage. It’s like that whenever I hear/see a new musical. A couple years ago, I was pretending I was Tracy or Penny (depending on the song) whenever I listened to Hairspray. I usually listen to the songs enough times that I know the dialogue they throw in too. Yeah, I’m that cool.

Too bad I don’t have the amazing voice I need to actually be in a musical. One of my favorite things about seeing a show like Wicked or Phantom or whatever, is seeing people with voices made for these kinds of performance. For example, there was a point – or three – in Wicked where the girl playing one of the leads, Elphaba, hit a note in the song that sounded so amazing it gave me chills. And almost made me cry. Yes. That good.

I will never be that good. But I’m awesome at pretending I am. You should hear me in the car.

Decapitation and Detectives

Maybe it’s because I keep watching True Blood right before bed. Maybe it’s because I saw Sherlock Holmes on New Year’s Eve and haven’t been able to NOT think about Robert Downey Jr. – or Jude Law for that matter – since. Maybe the Weight Watchers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream has drugs in it. Maybe all this insomnia is finally getting to me.

Whatever it is, it is giving me some CRAZ-AY dreams. Yes, I realize that is not how the word is spelled, but, ya’ll, the “A” is for emphasis (even though it should be “E” for emphasis…).

I’m thisclose to giving a notebook and pen a permanent home on my nightstand so I can write this crap down the second I wake up, otherwise it tends to get a little fuzzy and I forget.

Recently, though, two of my dreams were so random and one was so seriously messed up, that I still remember a good portion of them, or at least the important points.

First one was right after Christmas, even though it wasn’t Christmas-y AT ALL. I don’t remember how it happened or why, but in the dream, I had been decapitated.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. De.cap.i.tat.ed. As in MY HEAD HAD BEEN CUT OFF, kids.

Not only that, but somehow, miraculously, I woke up (in the dream) in the hospital, where they had apparently succeeded in re-attaching my head. No one else was in the dream – that I can remember – except me and whoever the doctor was. And then, this guy came in my hospital room with a flier for an event. That he wanted me to make sure GOT PUT IN THE NEWSPAPER. And I was like, “Um, my head just got cut off and re-attached. I don’t have time for typing things up right now.”

The other one I can still remember happened over the weekend. On Dec. 31, I saw Sherlock Holmes – great movie, you should see it, if not for the amazingness that is RDJ and Jude Law, at least go for some awesome previews. A couple days later, Robert Downey Jr. was in my dream. I don’t remember how the dream started, or really what all was going on.

All I know is I was in the parking lot of my church and RDJ was running around inside the church. And for some reason, we weren’t allowed to go in and get him. The middle of the dream is fuzzy, but I do remember that he came back outside at the end. After that, I woke up.

Second one is a lot less crazy than the first, and trust me, I’ve looked up what it means to dream about decapitation. It was interesting. As was what it means to dream about celebrities and the church. Apparently there are different interpretations depending on if you saw the church from the inside or the outside.

I couldn’t find anywhere where it said what it means to dream about Robert Downey Jr. Guess it just means I’ll have to go see Sherlock Holmes again. Darn.