23 Things I Love Most About My Sister

with love, (1)

You asked me earlier this week if I had started your graduation collage for Facebook. I shook my head no and laughed as you reiterated how you’re expecting a graduation collage for Facebook. Well, I’m gonna give you something else: a blog post with the 23 things I love most about you. I chose only twenty-three things because I figured I’d write something I love about you for every year that you’ve been alive. So without any further adieu, here’s my list of the 23 things I love most about you.

  1. We communicate better than anyone else – living with you has made me realize how much you are me and I am you. I don’t even have to make sense for you to understand me. In fact, we communicate best when we hardly speak at all (cue odd grunts that no one else understands). I love how we chat secretively in Persian, and then make an excited-surprised face when we catch someone speaking Persian in public.
  2. Most reliable shopping partner. You’re my favorite person to go shopping with because you spot unique pieces that I would easily pass by without giving a second glance (you’re especially good at finding dresses for formals and weddings). You make long shopping trips that would otherwise exhaust me seem so enjoyable. And an acute fashion sense is a girls best friend.
  3. You are the perfect roommate – from the #215 to #306, after living with you for two years now, I’m moved to tears to see you go. We’ve shared so many moments together: hysterical (when you would wake me up after you got home from 6th), scary (that time we were trying to fall asleep and you remembered the scary lady with the black drink from Prisoners), late nights studying (that time I woke up in the middle of the night and saw you still awake, studying for Drilling), sick days (how many times have you made fun of me for using the Nedi Pot?), and just plain ridiculousness (the “this-is-where-I-do-weird-things” hallway). I love having someone to listen to turn down songs with before we go to sleep, someone to talk to about absolutely anything, and someone to pick me up from class in MRH on Fridays then go shopping with. I literally don’t know how I’m going to deal with having one less-roommate when you’re gone.
  4. You get me hooked on the best TV shows. Where do I begin? There was Gossip Girl, Revenge, the Vampire Diaries, How To Get Away With Murder, the Originals… and now you’re tempting me to start other shows like Scandal and House of Cards.chuck-3
  5. For somehow always convincing me to do stuff for you. Even though it’s really annoying when you ask me to do you a favor right as I’m about to lay in bed and watch Netflix, I’d do it any day. Yes, I’ll grab your iPhone charger from your room before I sit down. Yes, I’ll bring you your multivitamin and fish oil. Yes, I’ll bring water too. We don’t even keep track of favors any more, because you’re always willing to do stuff for me too.
  6. You helped build my character. You’ve taught me so many priceless things throughout the years that no one else could possibly begin to teach me. You are my life guru, and I don’t know how to thank you for it.
  7. You let me wear your clothes – when you left for college and I was still in high school, there were three years of strategic outfit sharing. You can have this shirt this weekend, but I really need it next weekend for the homecoming game. Though we’ve fought over clothes countless amounts of times – sometimes so intensely that I’ve made mom buy me the same shirt or sweater so we wouldn’t have to share – I wouldn’t trade those memories as there’s no one else I enjoy negotiating with more.
  8. You help me decide which Instagram filter to put on my picture. No explanation needed. An Instagram feed says so much about a person, and the perfect Instagram filter is essential.
  9. Your sense of humor. You’re possibly the most hilarious person that I know. Sometimes you say things that make me think “how on earth did you even come up with that?” And the best part is, when I compliment you on a joke or something funny you said, you’ll reply with “what part was your favorite?” as if you’re taking notes on how to be funnier. But the best thing is that your humor is effortless and it just comes naturally to you.
  10. Your personality. I don’t know where to begin on this, but ask anyone who has met you – whether they met you five seconds ago or have known you for years – you fill the room with light and a unique positive energy that not everyone possesses.
  11. For coming up with the nickname “Golbs.” I can’t believe I used to hate this nickname. Honestly, this is one of your original accomplishments and I’m so proud of you for it. Also for naming me ____bou. For Thanksgiving there was Gobblebou. For Winter and Christmastime, there’s Snowbou. In the Spring, dubbing me Dewbou. Oh, and then getting of your friends to call me by those nicknames too.
  12. For being a basic betch with me. This is for all those times we got the seasonal Starbucks drinks together during the summer and winter. And for going to Bath & Body Works to buy seasonal scents.
  13. You let me hang out with your friends when I was a tween. And when you didn’t, I’d go to mom and ask her to make you include me in your plans. “Bebegol, can I please hang out with you and your friends?” *eyeroll* “Fine”
  14. Your positive outlook. This goes hand in hand with your personality. Side anecdote as a demonstration: one time I was having a hypothetical conversation about camping with our dad, and I mentioned that I’d be scared of sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag because there could be cockroaches that could crawl into it. Even though you too acknowledged the potential of gross vermin, you were quick to be enthusiastic about the experience. Dad then pinched your cheeks and told me warmly, “Bebegol is always so positive, making the best of any situation.” For some reason, I will never forget that discussion. You’re able to make the best of a not-so-great situation and see the silver lining of the experience.
  15. Your childhood obsession with Jesse McCartney. Which rubbed off on me… and well, yeah.
  16. You’re my mentor – not only have you helped me with how to: write the perfect email, nail the perfect interview, dress business formal, etc., but you’ve paved the way for me. You know what’s best and what to do to get ahead, and you’re always so willing and enthusiastic when sharing your experiences with me. I look at everything you do with admiration and aspire to take what you’ve done and replicate my version of it in my life.
  17. You hate going to the dentist just as much as I do – I don’t think anyone hates going to the dentist more than you and I do, but at least we have each other to keep us company.
  18. You “broke-in” our parents. As the first child, you grew up with so many more rules from our parents: “don’t stay out past 10,” “call us when you go from place to place,” “will there be boys? (if so, what’s the girl-guy ratio).” So thanks sis, you’re the reason why parents were way more chill with me in high school because they had took out all of their extreme-parental-responsibilities on you. Let’s be honest, there’s no way they would have let you come home at 1 am without freaking out and contacting the SWAT team for a city-wide search. Oh, and God FORBID you don’t answer your phone after the first missed call.
  19. You’re my number one Snapchat friend. You come before all else and you’ll always have priority in my heart. You are the original bae forever and always. No matter who you date, just remember one thing, I will always be your number one Snapchat friend. And all of your ugly Snapchats. Even though you’re not capable of being ugly, you’ve sent me some of the most award winning ugly-snaps. Double chin in all its glory.
  20.  You’re easy to blame when I’m not sure whose fault it really is. “Mom, sorry we’re late, it’s Bebegol’s fault – she was taking forever to get ready” When honestly, I was curling my hair in the time that you changed outfits a zillion times, but hey, you’re an easy target, so thanks for taking the blame and being a good sport.
  21. For reading me chapters from the books on your middle school reading list then quizzing me after each page to make sure I was paying attention. Note: you still do this and before you ask to read me something from one of your textbooks, be warned that I’ll request you not quiz me. How did you even come up with this idea?
  22. You pushed me out of my tomboy phase. Ahem. A moment of silence for the awkward 12-14 year old Golbou. Now I’ll continue to explain this less than pleasant awkward chapter of my life where I loved cargo shorts, army print (in fact, anything green), and was generally a tomboy. Fortunately, good things happen to good people and you pushed me out of that phase as I was influenced by your girly taste and experimenting with beauty products. I mean can you believe it, me? A tomboy? LOL.
  23. You give me something to brag about to my friends. Did I mention that my sister is graduating with a Petroleum Engineering degree from UT Austin? You don’t even have to know what Petroleum Engineering is, just know that she’s extremely bright and also “aesthetic AF.” Oh, and she’s made it on My Campus Story twice (that’s before I’ve even been on it). Ask any of my friends, there’s not a day that you’re not brought up in admiration in my conversations.

I cannot sufficiently put into words how much I love you and how much I’m proud of you. You did it. You excelled beyond expectations in every way possible and you’re officially a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. You’re my big sister and you’re the biggest blessing of my life. I only wish that you continue to defy expectations in everything that you do.

For traditions sake, I made you a collage of some of the pictures that bring a smile to my face. You’ve been by my side since day one, and I wish nothing but for billions of more happy moments, side-twisting laughs, and vibrant smiles with you. Oh, and dayuummm girl, is that how you felt about that test?

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7 Austin Things You Must Do This Winter

If I were to write Texas weather a letter, it would begin with:

As Katy Perry would say, “you’re hot and you’re cold,” you’re jeans then you’re shorts, umbrella or scarf? Boots or flip-flops?

Though it feels like a very confused motley of summer and autumn here in Austin, it’s my pleasure to inform you that it’s nearly wintertime! Recognized for its snow-white landscapes and frosty cold temperatures, winter is a time celebrated across all cultures and religions.

Persians celebrate Shabeh Yalda (“Yalda night”), the longest night of the year, an ancient Zoroastrian tradition celebrating the arrival of winter, renewal of the sun, and victory of light over darkness. Buddhists reflect on Bodhi, the day Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment, earning the name Buddha, meaning the “enlightened one.” For Christians, the winter brings cheer and patience, as they celebrate Advent, the time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, leading to Christmas. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is observed for eight days across all nations, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. African Americans celebrate the festival Kwanzaa, the celebration of life with the seven principles and symbols. In all richness of cultures, we find unity in celebrating the wintertime for all it symbolizes.

As for me, the wintertime marks the transition from light sweaters to layers engulfed by my North Face, the preference change from iced coffee to extra-hot Americano’s with steamed soy, and Mahogany Teakwood candles over my summer favorite, Palm Leaves. While I spend most of my winter back home in Houston, or traveling to destinations around the world, I love the few weeks of winter that I spend in Austin while I’m in school. Though as I’m caught up in preparation for finals, it’s easy to miss out on all the holiday spirit Austin has to offer. As a sophomore now, I’ve learned from my experiences and plan to maximize my winter holiday festivities, starting by making this list of some of the top winter-holiday things to do in Austin. Enjoy!

  1. Ice Skating at Whole Foods in Downtown (Nov 29 – Jan 11) – even if you’ve never ice skated before, all the fun of making memories with your friends will be worth the few times you slip and fall on the freezing cold ice! For just $5, you’re given music, the perfect backdrop for pictures, a magical view of Downtown Austin’s beautiful skyline, and even the option to buy a cup of hot cocoa. Unfortunately, I missed this opportunity last year, though this year I certainly plan on going!
    babmi-skating(P.S. I will gladly be the Thumper to your Bambi if we go ice skating)
  2. Santa’s Ranch (Nov 7 – January 3) – from the warmth of your car, get a group of friends together and drive through a winding country road decorated in Christmas lights and displays, complimented by homemade kettle corn or hot cocoa.
  3. Elgin Christmas Tree Farm (Nov 28 – Dec 23) – fields of Christmas trees make for the best holiday pictures, and what better way to bring the holiday spirit than the refreshing scent of evergreens in the open air. Plus, there’s even a little animal farm for visiting, hayrides, and a maze! (P.S. you can take the perfect holiday Instagram picture here! I know I will)
  4. 37th Street – much like the Heights in Houston, 37th St. is an Austin tradition. From all the research I’ve done, the reputation these lights have made beg the qualifier, “Keep Austin Weird.” Quirky lights in a quirky little-big city.
  5. Trail of Lights (Dec 7 – 21) – whether it be with a group of friends or a first date for a budding romance, the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park is one of my personal favorite traditions. The home of ACL,  Zilker provides the perfect wintery backdrop as you walk through the pathways of flickering lights, under the starry skies. My first time at the Trail of Lights was with a group of friends during my freshman year, after we finished studying for finals (for the night), we took the bus to the lights then walked all the way back to campus!

    Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.20.08 PM
    Photo courtesy of Jacob Bage.
  6. Capitol Christmas tree lighting (Dec 6) – just a short walk away from campus, the Capitol celebrates the holidays with their annual Christmas tree lighting. With live music, entertainment, and free food, Austin’s Congress Ave. turns into a holiday getaway with a noble cause. While you’re there, spread the holiday spirit and support the City of Austin by bringing by canned goods for donation to the Capitol Area Food Bank.
  7. Mozart’s Lights – it’s a fair statement to say that if you’re a student at UT, you’ve seen the Christmas lights at Mozart’s at least once in your four years here. Mozart’s is the perfect place to go with friends, order hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, and sit by the lake, admire the lights, and talk for hours. I absolutely love Mozart’s, and during the holidays, it packs a just a little extra charm.
    copyrighted image, Thomas McConnell
    Photo courtesy of Mozarts Coffee.

    Whichever holiday tradition you celebrate, be sure to check out some of the beautiful sights Austin has to offer. As you can see by this list, I really love Christmas lights and walking under the stars. And hey, if it’s not too cold, bring a blanket to a South lawn, pour some hot tea in a thermos, bring some speakers and stargaze with friends! I truly hope this list helped get you in the holiday spirit, just as it’s making me excited as I write it!

Edit: As I wrote this blog post in 2014, I’m so thankful that one year later, I’m able to share the winter spirit with thousands of people. Whether you’re a native Austinite, a visitor, or just a lover of all things winter, I hope that you find the holiday cheer in this beautiful city to be just as magnificent as I do. Thank you for sharing this article with friends and family, as you give me reason to continue to do what I love and to share it with the world. All suggestions are my personal opinion.

The Last Tuesday of the Year

With 2013 coming to a close, I just wanted to leave this with you all. It’s a index of just a number of Turtle Tuesday Snapchats I’ve received from my friends. Though Turtle Tuesday is something silly I came up with due to a striking resemblance between myself and well, turtles… I get so much fun out of it with this little trend I call Turtle Tuesday. In case you’re unsure of what the hell I’m talking about, let me redirect you to an older post explaining what exactly Turtle Tuesday is.

So here it is, chances are if you’re reading this, you’re probably in this index. I just want to thank everyone who has ever sent me a Turtle Tuesday Snapchat because honestly it makes my day when I see my friends act silly in response to my ridiculous Turtle Tuesday trend. And now, December 31st is the last Turtle Tuesday of 2013, and I want to wish you all an incredible day and evening, and please, stay safe! I love you all, and have an incredibly happy new year!

TURTLE TUESDAYP.S. go for it, click the picture! You can zoom in on every individual Snapchat to see them up close 😉

2013: Keeps Getting Better

Take it as you will, say it as you want, 2013 was my year. You know how everyone has that one year in their life where they see themselves truly blossom from uncertainty into a defined image, persona? Well, that was 2013 for me. I saw myself grow and mature as a person, and develop a clearly defined, unique, identity. I learned from others, but most of all, I learned from myself. I learned to listen to myself, and embrace myself fully. I discovered some things about myself that I didn’t know so clearly before. I understood myself and let go of the past, starting on a blank page for a new year. So now, I want to share with you some of the highlights of my year as seen through some previous Facebook statuses. And with social media it’s kind of hard to see sometimes, so forget the comments, forget this likes, this year was all for me, all for my self-development and nurturing myself to become the person who I am today.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. ~ Lucille Ball

2013 was the year where I learned to love every aspect of myself. Now, looking back, twelve months from where I started, I wouldn’t change a thing. I did what I love, spent it with those whom I love, submerged wherever I went with that love, and most of all shared that love with the people I met along the road, the people who would play a bigger role in my life in the future. In short, it was the year where I harvested stronger bonds with my friends and family, graduated from high school, and set sail for the next chapter of my life. So before I go on and on, let’s start off with January. It was a small first step, but I finally did something that I wanted to do. Now, my cartilage piercing is a reminder to myself to let go of hesitation, and fall into new opportunities with an open mind. 0104 0123 You could say this was one of the greatest days of all of 2013. All of my hard work and dedication in high school, having transferred from an all girls private school to a co-ed public school, truly paid off. I took a leap of faith when the University of Texas at Austin was the only school I applied to for the Fall, but it sure was a decision that was well worth it.02140307 0323 0412April and May were big, exciting months for me, as having gone to two proms with some really great guys was an incredibly fun way to end my high school career. I also went to my own prom, but spent it mostly with my senior homecoming date, one of my friends who I’ve gotten closer to since the start of senior year. 051105060523 When the Mr. Lakin, our school principal, told me that senior year would go by faster than I expected it to, he was right. When you spend twenty-four months of your life at one high school, you truly see yourself grow. Coming in as a sophomore to Memorial, I was incredibly timid and self-conscious, not really knowning anyone at all in the school. But through my junior and senior years I was exposed to classes I learned to love, people I loved spending time with, and an incredible amount of self-confidence and reassurance in myself. When people say they hated their high school, it makes me feel really sad for them. Why? Because I loved mine and it made me exactly who I am today. 0525 Blessin’s little Laska bear. Laska was given to us by a friend as she didn’t have someone to look after her. She’s a bundle of surprises weighing in at three pounds! Laska means “love” in Czech. 0531060106012 May 31 – June 3. Let’s discuss lack of sleep. These few days were some of the best times I’ve had all my life, and definitely a highlight of 2013 for me. And once the graduation festivities and music festival finished, I packed my bags and head out to Austin on the 5th for UT orientation.0707100717 On this trip my best friend and I wrote in a travel diary all of our adventures. We navigated the city on our own, met a famous British YouTuber, ate ice cream for breakfast, met Grumpy Cat, &ct. We also travelled to Santa Barbara and Venice Beach where we met up with one of my close friends that I met at orientation (incredible how you can make connections around the world!) As for the travel diary, we kept it alive for about 4 days but then realized we could just Tweet and Vine about the experience. So guess which we picked. 08190831 0911 If anyone gives you the warning not to take Calculus at Texas, listen to them. I have never spent so many hours in the library, made so many eraser shavings, and gone through so much stress for a single class before, especially calculus. If you value your social life in college, don’t take calculus at UT, I beg of you. 1108 Starting this blog made me appreciate myself more, listening to myself more clearly. Does that make sense? I learned to speak my mind, share my thoughts, and share my Leo DiCap love in a completely personalized place, and that is my blog. After making this blog, I got a lot of feedback from friends  and even strangers saying that they really enjoyed reading my blog. Honestly, there is no greater feeling than someone complimenting your personal creation! A few friends of mine even made their own blog after seeing how much fun I was having with mine. 1217 I already made a post about finishing my first semester at UT. Now in the middle of my break, getting my grade back and seeing all of my hard work pay off… it really gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Texas, I got you. 1225And this concludes my timeline for 2013! The year has yet to come to an end, but when it does, I’ll have known that this year was my year. Looking back, when I ask myself how 2013 was, it pleases me to be able to say that I made this my year. I matured, I learned, and most of all, I shared myself with the world. So this brings me back to the quote I referenced at the beginning of the post, “love yourself first and everything else falls into line.” In 2013, I learned to love myself and as a result, everything else fell into line. As the countdown begins and the clock strikes midnight, billions of people make countless resolutions with the incentive to make the coming year the best they’ve ever had. Well let me leave you on this note, if you can’t think of a resolution, don’t worry. Here’s one I came up with (and I’m going to use) that you can apply throughout your life, every single day: Strive to become a better you, and to do this all you need to do is learn to love yourself, then everything will fall into place.

One last note on resolutions, when the calendar year turns 2014, that’s all it is. A number, a calendar year. Don’t think that just because it’s 2014, magically everything will be different and it’ll all happen for you. That’s not the message I’m trying to get across. What I want you to know is that it’s all within you. Your willpower, your strength, your outcome. You have the power to make yourself what you want to be by dedicating yourself to be fully you. Embrace yourself. 2013 was my year because I learned this all throughout the year and as a result, I became my best me yet, and I couldn’t be happier. This coming year, I’m going to add onto that self-betterment and make 2014 even better than 2013. Progress. That’s all it is! And you, yes you who are reading this right now, I challenge you to make 2014 your year. Do it with me, let’s make it our best year yet. And best of all? It all begins within you. Let’s make it the best, because it keeps getting better. That’s all.

Now you know how skilled I am at going off topic and writing like I’m Joel Osteen or something.

Blackfish

Last night I watched something that made me realize a truth that I didn’t even realize all throughout my childhood. Visiting amusement parks with massive creatures enclosed behind a glass window… seeing orcas, dolphins, and sharks in front of me, the incredible size difference… it was magical. But the sudden truth set in now. SeaWorld makes its money through the exploitation of orcas. Simple. Taking regal creatures like killer whales and keeping them in tight, enclosed captivity is morally inhumane in every possible aspect. And the fact that Tilikum, the main killer whale at SeaWorld is still, to this day, kept in captivity and exclusively released just to make a few splashes in the show is just… heartbreaking.

Everything with this picture is so skewed, beginning with the entire expedition for hunting wild killer whales to then capture and basically imprison for the rest of their lives. Starting with capturing baby orcas, and separating them from their parents… I can’t even begin to express how much this breaks my heart. One thing I learned in this documentary is that orcas, killer whales, have a part of their brain that’s meant for communicating emotion to other orcas. Orcas are social creatures, and they communicate on levels humans could never begin to understand, meaning everything they do, they do together. The mothers never leave the baby orcas, the eldest orcas never leave the mother. It’s a two way street that humans couldn’t begin to process. So to separate, hunt, and trick these orcas into captivity is simply savage. And the saddest part? When the baby orcas are being taken away from their mothers via stretcher, and the hunters drop the nets to release the mother orcas, the mothers don’t leave. They stay and watch. They cry, they scream, they release all this emotion… and the hunters continue to take them away from their mothers. It’s monstrous.

No, it’s not just because I have a heightened sensitivity to animals, any decent human being knows that what happens with these killer whales is barbaric. I’m in no way an expert about these whales, but after seeing this documentary, my eyes have been entirely opened to what I hadn’t even spent a split second to think about. The treatment of these wild, majestic animals is so disgusting and overwhelming that I can’t help but feel pure anger towards corporations like SeaWorld. And in the end, that’s all it is. An enterprise focused on making ends meet, no matter the cost. No matter the physical, mental, and emotional trauma they cause these creatures.

From what I saw in this documentary, it’s a corporation that brainwashes its employees to believe that the way they’re treating these animals is “better” than they would be treated in their natural habitat. I’m just disgusted. I can’t say anything more than that. Maybe the documentary is biased, maybe it’s purely funded by OSHA to expose SeaWorld for it’s cruelty. But who knows.

And lastly, yes, I have been to the SeaWorld parks before. Multiple times. Did it ever cross my mind how they treated these creatures? Of course not. Not when there’s plush orca whales at every gift shop on every corner of the park. Not when there’s Disneyland-esque, magical music playing to drill into your mind you’re in a happy environment. Not when there’s trainers smiling, feeding the animals fish, acting like they have a legitimate relationship with the creatures. You don’t even take a moment to think about what goes on with these animals. You’re not supposed to, why would you?

So if there’s one thing you can take away from this rather long… rant, post, tell-tale, whatever you want to call it, it’s this: please watch the documentary Blackfish. It’s only about 90 minutes long and honestly so eye-opening. It makes you think about things you’ve never thought about, taking a new perspective on animals in captivity. While you’re on Winter holiday and you’re already on Netflix, just take some time to watch this powerful documentary. Maybe with the release of this documentary SeaWorld will stop their multimillion dollar exploitation of orca whales. In fact, all of their animals at the park. And for that matter, not just SeaWorld, every organization that takes animals and tortures them for entertainment. There’s so much going on in the world that it’s easy to overlook all the injustices. Well, here’s a start. Just take a look, you’ll only learn.

Music Friday

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This post is actually completely unrelated to the picture, but I just wanted to post a few songs that I really love and want to share. Some songs I discovered this past summer, some I came across in local Austin coffee shops (oh, how cliche). Most of the songs have a really calm, relaxing, electric feel to them. I’ve had these songs on repeat for so long, and they just have this vibe that’s especially perfect for the winter time. It’s honestly hard trying to capture the essence and emotion of the song in a few words, so just take a listen and tell me what you think. They’re not in any particular order, just the way they’re uploaded in my iTunes.

Hold On x SBTRKT

Flawless x The Neighbourhood

Waiting All Night  x Rudimental

I’m Into You x Chet Faker

Fools Game x This Century

Doin’ It Right x Daft Punk

Everybody Loves Me x OneRepublic

Natural Blues x Moby

We Come Running x Youngblood Hawke

Sparks x Coldplay