Disney as an Adult

1. Etsy Ears

  If you don’t know already, Etsy is a wonderful website to buy Disney themed merch at. Not only do they have shirts and jewelry, but there are countless shops solely dedicated to handcrafting and selling Disney ears. You can find pairs in almost any color or theme. Many shops will even do custom orders. My most recent purchase was a pair of skull ears that glow in the dark. 

2. Wait Times and Planning 

   This probably doesn’t speak well of me, but I swear I’ve grown more impatient as the years go on. So when it comes to Disney, the wait times can be excruciatingly long. However, I also now have apps like the My Disney Experience and Headsup to help me make the most of my time and provide some entertainment in line. One of the best parts of being an adult at Disney is being able to completely plan and customize your trip to your every whim. Planning out fast passes in advance help you to make the most of your time and avoid as many long lines as possible. 

3. Dining and Drinking Around the World

  Something I’ve learned to greatly appreciate in my recent ventures to Disney is the food. Sure as a kid I loved to get a snack here and there, but never fully appreciated the full experience  Not only do the parks have mouth watering must-haves such as pretzels and dole whip but countless sit-down restaurants available if your budget allows for it. Epcot and Disney Springs are the places to go if you’re looking to have the Disney eating experience. Being 21 and Disney is a great combo. Epcot has an endless array of alcoholic beverages that are both tasty and strong. 

4. Money

One of the biggest things I’ve come to realize as an adult is how expensive going to Disney is. Everything from the food to the park tickets themselves is pretty high in cost. Even with Disney Blogs giving us all the top notch ways to save money, there’s no doubt that a Dinsey vacation is going to cost you a pretty penny. I’m definitely way more appreciative of my trips looking back.

 

5. Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours at night are some of my best hours spent at Disney. Simply put, fewer kids and shorter lines.

 

6. Changes to the Park

One of the things about being able to return to the Disney park as an adult that is equally as exciting as it is heartbreaking are the changes they make to the parks. Your reaction undoubtedly depends on your taste as a Disney fan. New park additions can mean more rides and experiences for park goers, but can also mean older and more classic attractions get torn down. I’m still pretty bitter about Tower of Terror.

7. Memories

Since I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Disney more than once growing up, I have some pretty fond memories (mainly of Disneyland) that make going back even more special now. Returning to places and reliving experiences that made me so happy as kid help to make it just as special as an adult. I often find myself tearing up during the firework show (I know, make fun of me all you want.) Disney sure knows how to capitalize on nostalgia.  

8. Disney is romantic

There’s nothing better than spending a day at Disney with your S.O. The food, the mutual love of pin-trading (I got lucky with that one) and the firework shows at night all make for a great date.  There’s a reason I’ll be spending my five year anniversary at Magic Kingdom this year!

My most recent trip to Disney (Spring 2017) rockin’ some classic Minnie ears.

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Being Brave

   We know there are phrases that will undoubtedly change our lives. I love you’sand I do’sboth bringing cheerful memories or associations along with them. However, there are other words we hope we never have to hear. Your little sister has canceris definitely on the list. I was fourteen when my younger sister, Grace, was diagnosed with precursor t-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

   I had been out of the country with my mom for a couple of weeks, and when I returned home my dad urgently requested that I come over the next day. I had no idea what was going on, but being fourteen, I automatically assumed I was in trouble for something. The whole drive over I prepared myself for a lecture that never came, but instead heard my Dad say the words Grace has cancer. Time seemed to stop at that moment. Everything felt heavy, the air, my limbs.  I didnt know what to say. Should I ask questions? What questions am I suppose to ask? How can you subtly ask if your three-year old sister is going to die? My dad kept talking about how the cancer was aggressive. At fourteen I wasnt aware that there were nonaggressiveforms of cancer. I focused on breathing. He asked me if I wanted to go play with Grace upstairs. I nodded.

   I went upstairs to play with my sister, unsure if I should be acting normal. At three years old one of her favorite games was dress up. I found her in her bedroom among assorted plastic jewels, shiny bows and itchy dresses. She was beaming when I walked in, proud of her collection. She handed me a purple hairbrush and asked me to do her hair. I slowly combed her soft brown curls while she looked through the assortment of bows and barrettes. After a few moments of silence, she said, Sissy, its okay if some of my hair falls out; its because of the medicine.I was stunned by her candid tone. I focused on brushing her hair to keep from crying. But then my sister turned around and looked at me and said: Its going to be okay, because Im being very brave.

   Today my sister is nine years old, finished with treatment, and less than a year away from being cleared. She has been busy helping organize toy drives and working with the hospitals dog-therapy program to help provide some joy and comfort to the kids still going through treatment. In her two years of treatment, she fought like hell to keep her spunk and sunshine demeanor, some days, though, got the best of her. Yet, on others, like the day at the park when two older boys made fun of her not having hair, she had the courage to go up to them and say, Well, I have cancer and Im cute. 

   Im so incredibly proud of her. I know some people are proud because she beat it. As happy as I am about that, it feels wrong to say because along the way I met so many other children who werent so lucky, and its not because they didnt fight hard enough. Im proud of my sister for keeping her spirit and positivity and having the insight to use them to give back even at such a young age. Ive tried to learn from her and have a more positive outlook. Thats why even though Grace has cancerdid change my life, Im choosing to focus on Its going to be okay because Im being very brave.

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The Life of a Homeschooler

  Okay, I’ll admit it, I was homeschooled.

I know what you’re thinking, but I was not homeschooled in the antisocial-god fearing-I only wear sandals-sort of way. In fact, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided to be homeschooled at the age of ten. I was raised by a single mom who worked as a school teacher. My mom, bless her heart, has always put 110 percent into everything that she does. It didn’t come as a surprise when she was a favorite among students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary school. However, growing up as an only child, and attending the school where my mom taught was not a great experience from my young perspective. For me, it meant waking up at 5 am and getting to school before the sun came up. It meant eating cheese danishes from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for breakfast. It meant sharpening pencils for my mom’s classroom every morning. It meant re-watching every VHS from the school library (I might scream if someone ever makes me watch the animated Hobbit movie again). However, in most people’s eyes, I was the shy girl who read all the time and had an amazing teacher as a mom.

So, in third grade, when I started dreading school and straight up refused to go, it came as a surprise to many people. My mom hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years, a result of traumatic brain injury. I was struggling socially and academically throughout third and fourth grade. I didn’t get bad grades, but I had a hard time sitting at a desk all day. I excelled in reading but was average at math and was skimmed over in a class of 35 kids. I was not only bored but I was a weird kid. I was obsessed with horror from a young age, loved to read at lunch and had crushes on girls and boys (I didn’t connect this idea until I was 14). None of these things helped me to make friends and I remember being mortified when I realized that many people in my grade would talk about me behind my back. Secret conversations and laughter ending abruptly with eyes averted whenever I walked past. Even my “best friend” in third grade told me she had to be my secret friend at school even though we had sleepovers every weekend. All of these things resulted in tears before school and refusal to go. Eventually, my mom sat me down and had me make a list of everything I wanted in a school.

      Addy’s Dream School

  • More reading time
  • Pets at school
  • Help with math
  • More field trips
  • Wearing PJs whenever I want

After making the list, homeschooling was an obvious option. My mom and I only knew one other family that homeschooled, so it was a mostly unknown option to us. Still, we started this strange and exciting endeavor at the beginning of my 5th-grade year.  My mom used her teaching background and resources to create general lesson plans and we eventually found local homeschool groups to join. I continued with homeschooling all the way through high school. I took community college classes from age twelve, graduated with double the credit needed for high school graduation, performed Shakespeare, volunteered with multiple organizations and traveled extensively with my mother.

Despite all the weird looks when I told people I was homeschooled, the probing questions about my social life and college plans, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a homeschooler anymore. It has brought me academic challenges and travel opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, but more importantly, it introduced me to a group of friends that taught me self-confidence and accepted all of my weird quirks. I was immersed by people who wore whatever they wanted, studied everything from music theory to Latin and valued treating each other with respect. This has shaped me in numerous ways, but most obviously brought me to Emerson College where I continue to be surrounded by creative, weird and passionate people.

Reading in Strange Places

“Addelynn Rose please come to the checkout desk. Your mother is looking for you. Thank you.”

I’ve heard my name called out over the Barnes and Noble speaker countless times. I would climb out from behind whatever shelf or display I was reading behind and go to the checkout desk, a sheepish grin on my face. My mom would take a breath of relief, then smile warmly and ask, “Was the book really good?”

As a kid, I never sat in the chairs at bookstores. I know; it’s weird. I preferred to find a small corner, a nook between bookshelves, anything that was slightly hidden. I must have gotten weird looks from the few people that walked past me, but I was too absorbed in my book to care. It wasn’t just bookstores though. I’ve always managed to find odd places to read. Staircases, boat cuddies and playground castles have all served as reading nooks. I attribute a lot of this, particularly when I was younger, to being shy. They say that cats like to sit in boxes because it gives them the illusion that they can’t be seen which dramatically lowers their stress levels. Finding hidden places for me to read did the same thing for me as a kid. I’ve never felt comfortable in a large group of people. Reading was my escape so I figured that it made sense to literally hide as well. Each corner or crevice becoming my own secret place where I could experience other worlds without distraction. If you’re doubting me you should go watch The NeverEnding Story again.

As I got older it became less about hiding and more about forming attachments to a place. I started to notice that I would associate a particular place with what I read there. I can walk through the park near my childhood home and name places after what I read at each one. A small hill slopes down parallel to my cul-de-sac, Judy Blume hill. I remember filling my afternoons, stretched out on a picnic blanket on this hill, reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and Superfudge. The Eucalyptus by the park is Book Thief. The pine next to it is A Wrinkle in Time. The top of the playground tower is Stargirl tower. I’ve read multiple books in each place, but usually there’s one book that sticks out in my memory.

Every time I read somewhere it was like I was leaving a bit of myself there too. The more I read in a place the more I felt comfortable in it. For me going to a new place was like getting to know a new friend. There’s always one conversation where you share a secret, a part of yourself, and that’s when you become really close with them. Reading somewhere new was like sharing a secret with that place; it would become mine in a sense. It was comforting to know that no matter where I went I could find somewhere to read, to feel safe.

Reading in strange places wasn’t always a solo activity for me. My love of reading is definitely influenced by my mom. She not only encouraged reading by filling our house with books but by reading with me. We use to read out loud together, switching off every page or two. We would read whenever we got the chance like on the public bus or at our favorite restaurant. I have a pretty distinct memory of starting Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at The House of Egg Roll. Although I’m pretty sure we read in a tree at least once or twice. I’m extremely grateful that she not only inspired my love of reading, but my love of reading outdoors or wherever I feel comfortable. I often felt like an outsider growing up and being able to read where I felt safe was so important to me.
I’ll admit that I sometimes read in chairs or semi-normal places now, but having somewhere that I don’t associate with anything besides reading is important to me. I’m in love with the idea of spending hours alone with a book, completely transfixed by another world filled with complex characters and stories. They say the best books are the ones where you can forget you’re reading a book, and I agree with that wholeheartedly.

For me, a strange reading place, whether it be underneath a tree, inside a cuddy, or in a blanket fort, only enhances the experience of a good book. There’s something that just makes it feel right. The same way you feel when you find the perfect sleeping position or have a really good first kiss with someone. I might not hide in Barnes and Nobles anymore, but I still find my own hidden places whenever I can. My current favorite? Graveyards.

A Thank You Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom, 

    Happy 45th Birthday!!! This is one of the few times where I’ve been away from home on your birthday, so I wanted to do something special. I know that you’re very excited to be getting older. You’ve never shied away from aging, but instead,  have embraced it with poise and gratuity. This is only one in a long list of ways that you continue to inspire me. I have always looked up to you. 

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The Pros and Cons of Staying in Hostels

As someone who has stayed in plenty of hostels within the U.S and abroad, I can say there are plenty of wonderful features, and um, not so pleasant things. Hostels can be a great way to see the world and meet new people but have the potential to be a disastrous experience if you don’t know what you’re getting into. I hope this list will help you weigh your options and figure out if the hostel life is right for you.

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