MARSHALL: Farewell!

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I just wanted to take some time to thank all of my readers and say that I have had a real good time blogging each week beside all the talented writers at The Herald-Whig.

I am honored to be a part The Local Q website.
I would like to thank Gerri Berendzen for her lovely teaching and help with my writing as well as this nice opportunity to write for the people out there.

Now that I’m done with classes at John Wood Community College, I’m off to Illinois State University.
So when you’re out there surfing on the inter-web, navigating through all the websites just typing away, don’t forget about me! I am going to make it a point to get a personal blog going. And I am only going off to college, not swearing a life away from technology.

Thank you and best of luck to you all in this wild journey we call life! Don’t let it get you down and remember, there is always a better day somewhere ahead.

Your happy blogger,

Andrew Scott Marshall

pool

MARSHALL: Playing pool with work friends

pool

The other night was last night at Lowe’s before going away to school at Illinois State, and this is also my last set of blogs, which is very bittersweet.
So, some coworkers and I decided to go out and celebrate. I had never gone out to a bar with work friends, having only been of the age to drink for a little while, which got me excited.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

It was my friend Hillary’s last night at Lowe’s as well so we had to all go out at least once while we were still coworkers. Hillary and I had to wait to get off work, but Anthony and Aby were lucky to be off that night already. Finally around 10:30 we were all together and in the car ready to go.

We head to one bar, walking in and then immediately out. We changed our minds and decided to go to Rack Daddies, where there were more pool tables so that we could drink, hang out and play pool.

I haven’t played pool too much in my life, although I’ve practiced shooting at a table from time to time. I got some balls in the pocket and was proud to land a couple of cool shots.

We played without many worries for rules, and just talked up random conversations focusing on the games. There were $4 pitchers that night and we just played pool, the time slipping away. Eventually we left the bar and parted ways later that night.

I can always look back to a fun time for one of my first work outings off the clock.

G of the G

MARSHALL: A starry summer movie

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I was waiting for the movie anxiously, ever since I saw the preview many months before, wishing that it would come out sooner.
I was thinking it would be a great summer movie that I would probably love and put up there as one of my favorites.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

The movie was “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which exceeded my expectations. I loved the characters and they were all easy to relate to, with their struggles seeming so real. The visual effects were superb and it was hands-down hilarious.

Chris Pratt plays the main protagonist who is stolen from Earth as a child and becomes an outlaw of the galaxy. When he steals a precious orb, he ends up in a conflict of epic proportions that gets him in a heap of trouble.

He meets and compiles an awkward band of misfits to fight by his side: the large tree-person Groot, the hybrid raccoon Rocket, the green, trained assassin Gamora, and the terrifying Drax the Destroyer who does not have the best capacity for understanding humor. They are all led by the charming yet self-absorbed, intelligent but reckless and wildly entertaining Starlord who takes them on a journey across the galaxy.
It has a real cast of stars to accompany Chris Pratt: Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and many other actors that give great performances.
Basically, it was the best movie I have seen this summer and I feel like I should definitely give it my special thumbs-up.

Even if you don’t end of loving the movie as much as I do, the special effects and the computer-generated imagery is brilliant and worth seeing on a big screen.

MARSHALL: Defeating the Blank Page

It was staring at me just seconds ago. The blank page, the little blinking cursor that keeps on blinking even when you bring paragraphs to the page or leave an essay on the screen, written by you.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

This may be a bit strange to talk about, but I have learned to appreciate that blinking cursor and the blank page. It used to trouble me, and make me feel like I could never defeat it and never write anything worthy. It is still challenging sometimes, but I learned it is so easy to remedy.

With another semester of college approaching I will have the blank page countless times to tackle and write on. Sometimes it bothers me that I need to write something — although I have found the answer. It’s simply to write. One single word defeats that blank page and changes everything. A sentence is the beginning of an idea milling about in your head ready to reach the page.

As far as assignments and procrastination go, starting is key. In my case, I completely avoid doing things, but once I begin an assignment I can’t just stop in the middle of it. I realize how necessary it is to get it done in the first place.

Once I get going on a chore, writing assignment, class or just about any necessary thing in life, I don’t usually stop half way. So I have realized if I just start doing something then I usually get it done. It is as easy as that. All it takes is an idea, a thought, a word, a sentence to begin.

It took me a long time to realize it’s all about beginning a task and not stopping. Rarely, I will stop at some point, but it is much harder to stop once you are already working on it. I just find it fascinating that it can be so hard to begin, so hard to start to get somewhere, so hard to type a letter on a page.

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MARSHALL: Chillin’ in the park

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After my guitar lesson last week at the always rockin’ Second String Music, I decided go over to the park for a little while, which is conveniently located right across the street. The sun was shining and I felt like it was a perfect opportunity to jam out in the park. There was even a nice breeze going so the sun wasn’t that overwhelming.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

I picked a spot over in the corner, by a big tree and sat myself down. It was just a perfect summer day, not too hot, not too cool, but just right. I practiced my scales, took my time warming up my fingers and watching the people walking by enjoying the day. There were kids playing in the fountains, some ladies taking photographs — which looked to be official, like for a class — and then there was the usual traffic humming on the road. There was a calmness about the area. The downtown was relaxed and this particular Wednesday evening people seemed to be happy. I never thought about how much the weather can approve your mood although, many a passerby joyfully walked by looking at the shining sun.

With the weather so nice and breezy, I thought that called for some finger-picking, of which I am not the best, but enjoy. I practiced slowly and melodically messing around and playing Hallelujah and the very different “Creep” by Radiohead, which are some of the only songs I have learned to finger-pick.

All in all it was an easy-going and very chill thing to do in the park. I will have to play some more outside, get out there a little bit and play while the weather is still good.

fishing

MARSHALL: Going fishing

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Later that same day as our creek hike, I came back to my Aunt Mary’s house for another meal. With her cooking I was lucky to catch, not one, but two scrumptious meals at her home.

This time it was one of her specialties, which she is so modest about: her homemade pizza. After I ate until I could barely lift myself up from my chair, we went fishing in the pond down below the house.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

It was a perfect night for it. The weather was just right, it had cooled down by 7:30 that night when we went down to the pond. Although I say the pond is below the house, it is a bit of a trek down and across a field to reach it. So, we all rode over in relative Nathan’s truck, everybody in the back bed besides Nathan who was driving. We packed in there pretty good, all the kids holding on for dear life, some sitting on the wheel-wells others against the back window.

We laughed and had a good-old time making our way to the pond, kidding about ourselves falling out. In this instant, I realized how much I loved hanging out with this side of my family and was glad for the time.

As we reached the pond, we had some technical difficulties with fishing poles. Fishing poles are many times trickier to deal with than you might think and when they are sitting in the garage for a while they tend to have numerous problems.

With the poles acting up cousin Kenny went to save the day and look for more poles at his house. He came back with better ones and I was happy to get to throw in a line for a little bit. Mostly though I helped the kids bait their hooks with worms or get their line out of some muck.

I didn’t care about fishing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love to fish and try to catch the big one, but the kids having fun was more important than me catching a fish. I was just happy to be there, actually fishing, being comforted by the cool breeze and hearing the sounds of the bugs humming nearby.

Autumn caught the most fish out of the bunch, some little sunfish and bass that she threw back. Her friend was the winner for the most interesting catch, snagging first a frog then a turtle. Right before we were about to leave a snapping turtle broke her line and apparently you could see his tail as he made his escape.

I got to kick back and relax, watching my bobber disappear once without snagging one.

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MARSHALL: Nature hike

creek

It is not every day that I get to experience nature and its fierce beauty, but recently I had one day where I soaked up the local wilderness and had tons of fun.

My Great Aunt Mary’s grandkids happened to be in for a little while from New Mexico, so their family organized some activities to keep them entertained.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

I got to have lunch at my Aunt Mary’s, which is just delicious, and then my cousin Kenny and the whole crew went to visit a beautiful area of creek that had huge walls that towered many feet above to higher ground. It reminded me of when I visited Giant City State park south of Carbondale.

Seeing the creek gave you a feeling of having stepped back years in time to before Illinois was filled with shopping malls and fast-food restaurants.

Now the reason I described us as the whole crew is because we had quite the group. This humongous group consisted of my second cousin Kenny, his daughter-in-law, his wife Nancy, their two grandkids complete with one friend, his niece and her four boys.

So we had a big group of kids ranging in age from years 5 to 21, if you count me, your child-like author.

We walked the creek, many of the kids with water shoes, myself with flip-flops, and had a ball. We hopped from rock to rock, and I felt the mud in my toes as I sunk in. The scenery was a lovely sight and you could see the minnows swim through the murky water.

At times the water was crystal clear, and sometimes you would fall into a bit of a hole. I did not wear a swimsuit although I should have, and I got soaked enough to enjoy myself. I played with the little kid, as I am only a big kid myself, splashed around, and it just brightened my day to do something outside while the summer sun shined above us.

It was only the beginning to a great day. And afterward, on the way home, we got ice cream, which made it even sweeter.

MARSHALL: Moving forward in life can be scary

At this time in my life I am undergoing quite the transition. I am transferring from community college to a school where I will live in an apartment with some friends and be forced to be responsible.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

Any shred of childhood I have hung onto for this long will be all over when I have to work a job and go to school. Lately, this has been kind of been a big deal for me.

Moving out on my own to Normal, where Illinois State University awaits me will come quicker than I am suspecting. I never imagined how exciting, awesome, scary and terrifying one thing could feel. It is hard to believe that you can be looking forward to something and also be incredibly nervous about that time actually coming around.

I suppose this is my little coming-of-age drama that will end soon in forgetting my fears and just taking the plunge into adult life. I still will be in college, I suppose, so still a student. The worries will be there, however. The freedom and adventure involved are completely worth it in my opinion.

To go to a new place is different and takes getting used to, but just thinking about all the fun stuff to do on campus and off in the Bloomington-Normal area makes my heart race with anticipation. Never again will I worry so much about such the small matter of being independent. Now it will be real worries of adult things, like bills and the battle to achieve a perfect credit score.
I am glad I chose this path and don’t regret coming to this grand town. And I still have some time to try to entertain you readers out there so I could never ask for anymore.

MARSHALL: Brownies offer sweet-tasting memories

Since I have not talked about food in a while, I have to talk about my latest endeavor making brownies.

This is something that I can actually bake by myself — if the box of mix is provided of course!   My friend Heidi and I decided to make some chocolate fudge brownies. She also brought chocolate fudge ice cream to put on top of the brownies, and I was just in heaven.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

When I make brownies I am always brought back to the simpler days when I was a little kid and life was carefree. I made brownies many times with my grandma and mother. I am not the best baker by any measure, so being able to make simple brownies from a box is enough to make me happy. Almost every year for my birthday my Mom made me brownies with blue frosting that I brought to my class at school. I even brought them to one of my college classes this year.

To some that might be childish, but blue is my favorite color and by now it is just a tradition that is fun to continue. Plus, even in college, people love brownies. Maybe I should say in college they especially love brownies, given students’ constant hunger for more food.

I do have one rule when making brownies: I have to be able to lick at least one of the utensils after the brownies are mixed. I am a humble person, so I only need one single utensil to satisfy me.

When the brownies come out of the oven, I put the ice cream on almost immediately and I chowed down. Nothing can beat that hot/cold combo.

After some intense thought I decided that warm brownies with ice cream might even topple the cake and ice cream combination.

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MARSHALL: A summer night in downtown Quincy

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Recently, my friend Heidi and I explored a little of Quincy’s downtown. I had no idea what rich history it had to offer.
We started off in Washington Park on the town square, enjoying watching people react to the pretty fountain in the center and, in the case of an unlucky lady, getting sprayed unexpectedly.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

After that Heidi remembered that there was a museum nearby that was closed, but had some things outside. I was pleasantly surprised to check out the exterior of the Gardner Museum, which featured artifacts from around Quincy in many years past. It was basically an assortment of stones and land markers. There were parts of church spires, statues and sculptures … forgotten ruins of time not so long ago.

They have a nice setup outside. Everything was placed with artistic talent, accenting each piece like they do in an exhibit. I saw a sign for a brewery in Quincy and wondered if my older relatives remembered the days when that existed.

After that we walked around a bit more looking out on the side of a parking lot and catching a gorgeous glimpse of the sun as it set over the river in a purplish hue. I had not had such a nice evening just walking around and hanging out in a very long time.
The perfect summer night is hard to find, but I think I found it if only for a little while.