Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunburns and Harry Potter in Florida

Hey folks! It's been a month. Whoops. Things are busy here (go figure). I had this blog all planned out in my head when I get back from Chicago three weekends ago, but since I'm a bum and didn't actually type it out the topic of that blog has escaped me. Instead I will tell ya'll about the awesome multi-YAV site retreat in Florida a little over a week ago.


So, Thursday April 10th Sister Helen Prejean came and spoke at The Chapel of the Holy Comforter (where I work for UNO stuff). She was an amazing speaker, she is an advocate against the death penalty. Not only did most of the YAV house come there was also some support from the Lakeview crowd. It was great.

Directly after sister Helen, we all headed out to Florida for a giant YAV region/retreat. Not only was New Orleans present, we also spent time with Miami YAVs, Nashville YAVs and Atlanta YAVs. All in all there were about 20 of us hanging out in this big house on a cove in Florida. There was a rooftop porch perfect for sunbathing. There was also a dolphin sighting and fishing. Lots of porch sitting. It was wonderful. Also I reread the first Harry Potter book. What a wonderful book! I can't believe it's been over 10 years since I read it.

The retreat was a wonderful way to reconnect with other YAVs. It was nice to share 'war stories' and talk about all of our experiences. I think being a YAV is very unique, so it was nice to have someone who could relate even if they were in Atlanta, or Nashville or Miami. We shared meals together, had devotional and also had the chance relax. It was wonderful. Check out the pics.




View from the rooftop porch also known as heaven


Had to jump Layne's car our first morning there. 

Alyssa taking int he view from the rooftop

Suyeon was in my small group at YAV camp. We got to reunite over the trip!
She's wonderful and we had a great time catching up.

My terrible sunburn. I look like a sad frat star.

Sunset on the cove.

Road trip buddies. Also future (and current) housemates. Here's the planning for fall of 2014!




Take 1 of the whole group on the retreat. Thankfully Michele has
this awesome camera that take wide shots. So we all fit in.

A little closer and harder to see everyone, but I love this one the most.


The New Orleans YAVs (minus colleen, she had to go to a wedding and missed the retreat :( )

Also, on a completely separate note, I officially got a pretty name tag on my locker at ceramics class. That means I'm officially a regular. I am so thankful for this wonderful community in New Orleans. They are truly wonderful people. And I get to make cool stuff, like mugs and clocks and platters.



-Alex

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Here's to Nostalgia

I spent the past weekend in Dallas with my family. While I was there we got some exciting news, SMU's natatorium is going to be torn down and a new pool is finally going to be built. I'm sure that seems trivial to most of you all or at the very least you're confused about why in the world this is such a big deal to the Pappas household. Let me explain.

Both of my parents are SMU alumni. They grew up in Oklahoma, my father in Stillwater, my mother in OKC, and they both participated in swimming and diving programs at their respective schools. My mom was such a bad ass in high school that she was the only girl who dove, meaning she dove against the boys. My dad was a swimmer and claims to have watched my mom when their school were competing at meets. He claims that he told his high school friend he would marry her one day. This may be an exaggeration, but it makes for a great story so I'm gonna run with it. In a twist of karma, both of them went to college at SMU where my father continued to swim and my mother continued to dive.

Now, even though my dad claims to have watched my mom dive in high school, she will readily say she had no idea who he was. Fast forward to college, both of them are involved in SMU's aquatic program. They know of each other on the peripheral. They have mutual friends, they run in the same circles and, apparently, my mom finally got to know my dad's name. While they knew of each other, both were dating other people. It wasn't until grad school that my parents started dating. It was a match made in chlorinated heaven. 

They both stayed in Dallas and are still incredibly involved in the swimming and diving community. My father is involved with the Dallas Aquatic Masters program, swimming is still his favorite way to exercise. My mother is a diving coach, working for a handful of private schools in North Dallas, she is also employed as a coach at a Dallas club team, Mustangs in the Sun. 

To say that I was raised at the SMU natatorium would be an accurate statement. I grew up in a family where you learned to swim before you learned to walk. It sounds like I'm exaggerating but I don't think I am. When you have babies around a pool, you teach them to swim as soon as possible. I remember running around the indoor pool, dragging mats over to the pool lip and using them as slides. Katy Stillson and I were little terrorists, wiggling into diving lines so we could do something silly off the boards, daring each other to finally take the plunge off 10 meter. One summer we threw water balloons at the passing cheer camp from the tower. In the natatorium I would beg Jim to rig me up in the belt above the trampoline. Right as I would spring up he would pull the rope sending me higher than I would ever jump on my own. 

I remember summers where I was spent a majority of my time darting in and out of the Swimming and Diving offices, begging for change from Eddie or Greg or Jim or any other available staff member to get a soda. Every year I was dragged to the Dallas Morning News Classic, both men and women. For a long time it was boring, until I realized the amazingness that was college boys in speedos. Needless to say, I was much more enthusiastic about that meet from there on out. I would sneak back into this meeting space to the left and rummage through the framed team pictures until I could find the years my dad and uncle Bob were on the team. My favorite thing was the bring friends along with me so I could show them my mother's portrait hanging in the front of the building. She was a nationally ranked diver who competed in the 1980 Olympic trials. Once I even had a lifeguard coworker at SMU say, "You're mom was really hot when she was in school." A few portraits down I see familiar faces like Cheryl Santini, another amazing diver who was always nice to me when I was on deck, had a family that would pay attention to me at meets, and even babysat a couple of times. I took my first swim lessons in that pool, swam club in that pool, even took a stab at diving (that phase didn't last very long) there.

I went on to play basketball for Parish and than attend college at Rhodes, even then I still found myself at the SMU natatorium. My first real summer job, one where I got taxes taken out of my check, was as a lifeguard at the pool. Let me tell you, lifeguarding is not glamorous, but it was always nice to know most of the coaches on deck. Getting a bear hug from Eddie Sinnot is a great way to start a hot summer day. I may be a lynx cat, I still say Pony Up with confidence.

Renovating the pool is needed. It's an old pool and updating it will be a big boost to the program, but that doesn't mean I won't miss it. If there's one place I know on SMU Blvd, it is the Perkins Natatorium. It is kind of crazy how a building can hold so many memories. So this post is for nostalgia and excitement about what the future holds for a program that has touched my life in so many ways. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mardi Gras Picture Post Pt. II

Here's the second round of Mardi Gras pictures. This covers the rest of Mardi Gras. It's an awesome celebration that I will actually blog about sometime in the near future. Until than, here are some pictures to enjoy.

A float mocking Putin

US Navy band (Michael Delong, you better see this)

Memphis!

The best game in the world, Stump! It involves throwing a hammer 
in the air and trying to hit some nails.

So many floats!

I got to see Endymion from scaffolding, definitely the best way to watch the parade

1st crawfish of the season

Bacchus float, hunting frogs on the Atchafalya

"Is that a dinosaur?" 
"yes, of course."

Bacchus float up close

Proteus float featuring Zeus and his pet seal, because Zeus has pet seals

Even cooler Proteus float

Gandalf? Is that you?



Quentin Tarantino, King of Morpheus

Sunny Saturday for Endymion

Freezing rainy Mardi Gras day, there are people under that blanket

See what I mean? So cold and wet.


Zulu float

Emily got a coconut at Zulu

I'm afraid I've set the bar pretty high for future Mardi Gras celebrations, look at some of the awesome throws I got this year!

-Alex


Friday, February 28, 2014

Mid Celebration Pictures!

Here are some awesome pictures from the Mardi Gras celebrations so far:


Awesome peacock float, queen of Muses I think? 

Valentina and Colleen decked out from all of their catches at the Nyx parade

The front of a float from the Nyx parade on Wednesday night


Nyx parade swag

Hand warmers, probably the best investment I've made for this chilly weekend

Flambeauxs 

Decked out from the parades last night

Jess with one of the shoes she caught, thank you for making our night Catherine!

Another shoe thrown to Jess from Catherine, thanks for sharing Jess :)

Last but not least, this amazing purse I caught at the Nyx parade. One final thanks goes to Stephanie Veech for throwing this down to me on Wednesday!

-Alex

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mardi Gras Pt.I


'Tis the season ya'll! True to New Orleans, celebrating Mardi Gras is a two week long affair. Obviously the actual Mardi Gras is on this coming Tuesday, but the parades started two weeks ago. Above is a picture from the first parade of the season, Krewe du Vieux. This is one of the smaller parades, with floats drawn by smaller cars. The theme for Krewe du View was "Where the Vile Things Are" and pretty much anything was game to be made fun of. Bobby Jindhal? Check. Vladimir Putin? Check. BP Oil? Yup. This is a great, mostly political, satyrical parade that is NOT child friendly. I had a blast with my roommates, but seriously, don't take your kids to this parade.

Here's a blurry picture of one of the floats. 

Not only were there lots of parades to attend, the weather this weekend was phenomenal. Seriously. I finally got around to singing up for a gym membership and I have barely used it because I've been outside instead. Below are a couple of pictures I took while I was walking around uptown,


(no, I did not photoshop this in any way, I think someone living on this street got bored with the usual water meters and decided to spice things up)




On Friday Alexander came into town to join the festivities. Friday night there were two parades on St. Charles that we went to. Thanks to help from YAVA/friend (I really just consider her a friend, but she's also a YAVA) Valentina who is a pro at getting catches from the parades that come by. She claims it's all about eye contact, I suspect her bright red hair helps her stand out some as well…

While we had to rush around a bit on Friday to get down to the parades (had to wait for Alexander to get into town), Saturday we decided to set up early and hang out all afternoon. I would say the best way to describe Saturday was like tailgating minus the annoying freshman who don't know how to keep themselves together. We set up a bunch of folding chairs, had a cooler and watched the first round of parades at 1. Than just hung out and people watched until the second round started at 6. On Saturday Valentina and Alexander and I went with my mentor family, the Kates, and we all sat around and enjoyed the day. While we were out there we ran into my site supervisor, Layne, her husband Crawford and their puppy Justice. Justice loves to chew on things, she's at the age where pretty much anything is fair game.

Valentina's backpack? Definitely chewable.

We also happened to set up less than a block from Alexander's cousins. Here in New Orleans families with younger children own ladders with a little seat attached to it. This way the younger kids don't get trampled, instead they get to sit above the crowd. If you are an adorable child in a ladder you're more likely to get throws. An adult always stands up there with the kids to one, help with the ladder, two to make sure their kids don't get pelted in the face with beads. Because yes, that definitely happens.

Alexander took over for Ryan for a bit and helped with the girls, he obviously enjoyed himself.



All in all it was a great weekend! I was told those parades are jet a warm up for the big ones happening this weekend (well really they start on Wednesday, so tomorrow). I had a great time. And the cherry on top was Alexander getting this wig from one of the floats and being called Bob Marley by one of the street car passengers on our way home from the parade.






-Alex