2015 Summer Bucket List Evaluation

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The Simpsons Land at Universal Studios Florida

Now that it’s Labor Day Weekend, it’s time for me to accept that summer is, unfortunately, over (even if it still feels scorching hot outside). And it’s probably something that I should have accepted two weeks ago when I school started back up again, but that’s beside the point.

This past summer was one in which I actually compiled a summer bucket list. It’s not that I hadn’t had things I wanted to do during past summers, but, this time, I actually took the time to jot down what particular activities I wanted to do during summer break. And, I’ve got to say, I fared pretty well, especially when considering the fact I rarely do much anything worth talking about during the summer.

SUCCESSFUL VENTURES

Make (at least) two crafts
Neither of the crafts that I made were for me, which isn’t ideal. Rather, the two crafts I made this past summer were graduation gifts for my friends, Dana and Sofie. And it was still great to make them, because, as you may know, I really love giving people gifts.

20150615_151121The craft I made for Dana was a canvas. I painted a gray basecoat, placed stickers on top of that to create the quote (It says, “Peace will win. Fear will lose.” It’s from the a song called, “Car Radio” by twenty one pilots—a band Dana and I both love), and then painted a tribal print pattern over all of that. I used absolutely no stencils, so I’m quite proud of how it turned out considering I did all of the details by hand.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of the wooden ‘S’ I painted for Sofie before giving it to her. (I didn’t decide exactly what to give her until the last minute, so I rushed in getting it done. But it was just a wooden ‘S’ I painted. I believe I used teal or turquoise as the base color with yellow, light blue, and either teal or turquoise (whichever wasn’t the base color) splatter painted on top of that. I could definitely be wrong, though.

Jamie Tworkowski Event for If You Feel Too Much
When I first found out that Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the non-profit “To Write Love on Her Arms”, was going to have a Chicago stop of his If You Feel Too Much book tour, I immediately decided I needed to go to it. And, to make things better, the Chicago stop was actually in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. This made things so much better (and easier) for me, because I live in the suburbs, making the trip less of a hassle.

I could still rant on about how great this was, but I already wrote a blog post about it early on in the summer.

Practice photography
This school year, I’m the photo editor for the Illio Yearbook despite never really considering myself to be a true photographer. Sure, I have a DSLR, know more about photography than the average person, and always use the manual setting on my DSLR, but, if anything, I like to think of myself as a “wannabe photographer.” I don’t have an exact reason for this, but it just feels wrong to identify myself as a legitimate photographer.

Regardless of that, I wanted to take the time to practice my photography because of the position as the photo editor. I wanted to make sure I became even more comfortable with the art of photography so I could advise the staff photographers on yearbook as best as I can.

Most of my practice came during my family’s vacation to Florida, where we visited Disney World and Universal Studios, but it was still good practice for me.

20150716_172434Make Oreo cupcakes
Oreo cupcakes are my favorite cupcakes, and I love to bake. So with all of the free time summer break offers, there was no way I wasn’t going to make them.

Make macaroni and cheese
Last time I made mac and cheese, I was trying a new recipe, and I really liked it, so why not make it again if given the chance?

Make carbonara
Carbonara is one of the only pasta dishes my sister Amanda eats, so it’s a go-to dish for us to cook together if we can.

Try (at least) three new Pinterest recipes
I’m living in my first apartment this school year, which means I actually have to cook for myself. With that being said, I just wanted to try to cook more and get used to doing that a little better. Plus, I did just want to try foods I hadn’t tried, but wanted to. I lost track of how many new recipes I tried, but among them were chocolate chip muffins, red velvet muffins, cinnamon roll pancakes, and churro waffles.

Go to Dew Tour
Dew Tour is an action sports competition styled as a tour with different competitions taking place in different cities. My brother, Winston, was into action sports a little bit when he was around (maybe) 13 years old or so, and that exposed me to them as well.

20150620_150521As a kid, I would attempt to ride his skateboard from time to time, and I would play all of his Tony Hawk video games as well as his SSX (snowboarding) ones. So, when Amanda—who wrote a blog about it—and I heard Dew Tour would have a Chicago stop during the summer and it was free admission, we told Winston, and he was totally all for going. Unfortunately, we didn’t see all of the competition, but it was a pretty great experience. I met and got some skaters’ autographs and took a photo with Kelvin Hoefler and Greg Lutzka.

QUESTIONABLE SUCCESSES

Publish something every single week (with the exception of when in Florida)
I’m an aspiring sports writer, and I didn’t have a summer internship like some other fellow aspiring writers did. But I did have writing gigs to keep up with, and I wanted to try to write more for this blog.

I believe I accomplished this task, but I failed to keep track. I know for a fact that I didn’t publish anything while in Florida—which I was never going to do, because I felt I deserved to simply enjoy my vacation. If I’m remembering correctly, I only didn’t publish anything the week before I left for school, and that was only because the Internet in my house wasn’t working thanks to a dysfunctional phone line that affected both my family’s Internet connection and landline.

So I’d like to say I did indeed achieve this task, but I could be wrong and have forgotten a week.

Write every weekday (with the exception of when in Florida)
I know for a fact that this didn’t happen. However, I did write most days. Whether it was simply for myself or something I published, I did write a lot this summer. So even though I didn’t write every weekday like I had hoped, I am proud of the fact I invested a lot of time writing.

The Bulls Charge Logo 4Revamp The Bulls Charge
The Bulls Charge is a Chicago Bulls blog that I run, and I’ve been doing so since summer began. And, with my status there going from contributor to owner/editor, I felt it was time for me to revamp the site. I also really didn’t care for the original logo I had designed for the site, so that was something I desperately wanted to change. And I did design a new logo, and I even made some tweaks on the site (like adding the “ON THE SCHEDULE” aspect on the homepage or having a page for news and another for columns), but I don’t know what exactly I meant by “revamping.”

I should have made some sort of specific guidelines or something, so I’d have something to refer back to and make clear whether I achieved my goal or not. But, even so, I’m proud of the logo I did design and feel the site looks pretty nice. (But please feel free to check out the site, and let me know what you think.)

ACTIVITIES FOR ANOTHER TIME

Read two books per month
I’m really bad at reading books, and, by that, I mean that it can take me a very long time to read books. This makes it so that I rarely read books for pleasure, but, as of late, I’ve really tried to change that. I know reading a lot will only make me a better writer, so I’ve been trying to read more if given the time. Unfortunately, I certainly didn’t read two books a month, but I started off rather well.

My summer break started in mid-May, and I was able to read Jamie Tworkowski’s If You Feel Too Much before the month ended (I read it in a day actually, so shoutout to me for doing that). Then, in June, I read Paper Towns by John Green before watching the movie, and I did enjoy the book, but I’m still trying to decide if I liked it better than The Fault in Our Stars. I will say, though, that I feel I appreciate the writing in Paper Towns more than that of TFIOS while I liked the story of TFIOS better than Paper Towns (if that makes any sense).

That same month, I reread IYFTM for two reasons: I really love that book, and I got a third copy to highlight in, so I had to reread it. And yes, you read that right. I have three copies of IYFTM: one to simply read, one that’s highlighted for quick finding when in need of inspiration and whatnot, and one that is signed by Jamie himself and will forever be cherished.

After June, I didn’t complete another book, but I did start reading IYFTM again the next month and continued reading The Best American Sports Writing: 2013. So, while I may not have read two books per month, I’d say it was a good try.

Sand volleyball
In both the summer of 2013 and 2014, I went to the sand courts in my hometown to play sand volleyball with Amanda and our two friends, Greg and Josh. Josh moved to California last year, though, so that tradition ended rather quickly, but I still wanted to go to the sand courts and play. I just never really got the chance to do so, because Amanda and I didn’t really have anyone to go there with us.

Downtown Chicago
I really enjoy going to Downtown Chicago, because there’s great food and shopping, and I don’t get to do it often. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go there this past summer, but I’m hoping I’ll get to go there sooner rather than later, as it has been a while since I’ve gone there. I can’t even tell you when I last went on a trip there.

Try Sprinkles Cupcakes
This is something I’ve wanted to do for years, because I do love cupcakes, so why wouldn’t I want to try the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes? Dana and I have actually joked about both how we should both go there and try it together, and I’d totally be up for that. But we didn’t lived in different suburbs that aren’t too close to each other, and now we’re in entirely different states. Hopefully, it’ll still happen one day.

Try Shake Shack
Bacon cheeseburgers and cheese fries aren’t healthy, but it is what my favorite meal consists of. So, when I heard there was a Shake Shack opening in Chicago, I knew I needed to try it, especially since they also have milkshakes.

I was hoping summer would give me a chance to go there with all of the time I had, but it didn’t really. I think Winston was going to take me there before Dew Tour since we’d be in Chicago already, but we were also with our mom, who offered dim sum for lunch and wouldn’t be in favor Shake Shack.

Shedd Aquarium
I haven’t been to the Shedd Aquarium since second or third grade (around 2002-2003), so it has been a while. I don’t remember anything about the field trip there besides seeing dolphins and going to the gift shop, but I remember enjoying it, and I’d like to enjoy it again, but actually remember it.

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