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.

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MARSHALL: On being a flood tourist

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With the summer in full swing and the rain continuing to come down routinely, the river has been up in full style.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

My friend Heidi and I went down to the riverfront to see how high the river had gotten from its usual boundary. In Clat Adams Bicentennial Park it covered the concrete structures holding flowers, so that you could only make out the tray of flowers, not the planter sitting off the ground.

We walked down to the edge of where the water was. It completely covered where the parking lot was and a strange collection of different things littered the area.

Normal markers looked out of place because they were immersed in river water, which kind of threw me off. My brain imagined the usual look of the park, and it made me feel as though I was somewhere else at first. I waded into the water — as it was only ankle-deep — and ventured off the soggy bits of land left uncovered. I spotted some driftwood which I mistook for a decorative stump that was an interesting addition to the park.

Even though flooding causes problems, it is somewhat beautiful to see a place completely transformed because it has been overwhelmed by the Mississippi.

I got to witness the power of the Mississippi first hand. I only hope the river stays only gets lower from this point on.

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MARSHALL: Catching up with a classic in ‘Fargo’

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Recently, my Mom and I went to Bloomington to check out my future residence for college next year. It gave us a great excuse to check out the Normal area and the college.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

It was a nice evening, and we ended up hanging out in downtown Normal for a bit afterward. There was a little local theater open showing “Fargo,” which I have never seen. My Mom exclaimed somewhat amazed, “You haven’t seen Fargo?” So she insisted we go see it.

I just loved the movie. It was a dark comedy, based on actual events, which made it really resonate with viewers. I say dark comedy with apology because I tend to laugh sometimes at gruesome things in movies to kind of get through them and try to enjoy the movie instead of taking on the movie seriously. But, the fact that they are real events is not funny, although when you look at it in movie form you can laugh not thinking about the reality.

The film was very cinematic and you could thoroughly appreciate the shots that they transitioned to. I have always been a fan of the Coen Brothers’ films, and this is just another one to add to their list of masterpieces. The all-star cast made it easy to watch.

All the Dakota accents had me laughing throughout the movie, along with polite personalities that were so kind. The movie was just an addition to a lovely night and I now cannot say I haven’t seen ‘Fargo.’

Another classic down many more to watch!

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MARSHALL: Homemade ice cream

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Once again I have the pleasure of talking about one of my favorite dishes, ice cream.

The other day I helped my great aunt make some homemade ice cream at her house. We got out and cleaned out the ice cream maker she had in the garage, beginning the process. She told me a story about when she was finishing cleaning out the ice cream maker and accidentally left the napkins in it during the process. Little did they know, until they tasted the napkins in the batch, which left those eating their dessert a little surprise in the mix.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

I didn’t know how to make the mixture for the ice cream, so I had the simple, and therapeutic, job of ice crusher. Basically I put a bunch of ice into a sack and smashed it into finer pieces. For this I used a bat, which I found worked the best for the job.

It was a nice, relaxing job, that did require patience.

Aunt Mary made up the recipe and poured it into the cylindrical inner part of the machine, we filled the outer edges with ice, and we were on our way.

Then we waited. And waited. Then we gave up on waiting turned the machine off and ended up eating it when it was pretty mushy. That did not take away a bit of the delicious taste.

I won’t bore you talking about myself eating ice cream. But, when I set my mind to it, I can really eat some ice cream. This time, though, there were also chocolate chip cookies though so I didn’t exactly do as well on bowls consumed — or as I like to the call them, BCs — as I usually do. But I still ate a good amount.

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MARSHALL: Break out of your entertainment mold

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Last Monday was a both a good day and a bad day. A day of excitement and sadness.

This is because volleyball ended.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

We were called to the sands once again to defeat a team, and this time we actually did. The week before did not go as well, but this final week we redeemed ourselves with glory. We strode across the sands with confidence and served well throughout.

The first game we dominated, going on for long streaks without any rallies, just serves that ended in a missed hit.

Now I have not played volleyball for ages, probably since mandatory PE class in high school. I think everybody on our team pretty much has not played since then either, so every game we do well I am proud of myself and my teammates.

Over the span of all the games, I learned that the good thing about competing at the Grove is it is a lot more about fun and playing volleyball with your friends than about winning. It is a reason to go out on Monday night and do something for a change.

Some people have problems going out on a weekday, but what stops a weeknight from being as awesome as a weekend? You don’t have to stay out all night if you have work, but I have hung out with friends late summer nights on Wednesdays that were more fun than Saturdays.

Quincy is a little smaller than other towns, but there is plenty to do, it just takes a bit more searching and creativity when you are planning a night out. Sometimes it just takes getting outside of your usual normal comfortable patterns and going to see music somewhere or playing in a volleyball league.

MARSHALL: Pub party, part II

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The second phase of the night we moved through the pouring rain in all our vehicles a little ways down the road to Tangerine Bowl.

The bowling alley was a bit crowded with families, couples and the assorted groups hanging around cracking pins. We marched up to the counter giving out fake shoe sizes for each other, as we got ready to bowl.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

Matt was in charge of the names and for some reason we received a mix of biblical names, Roman names, complete with our advisor Rob bowling as Kevin. I like to think I got the biggest compliment of being selected for the name Luci.

Now one thing to let you know about the Pub Club is we are not bowlers, we are writers. Some bowlers can write and some writers can bowl I am sure, but the point is: none of us can bowl. So instead of worrying about the score we had a good time and just messed around.

Some members tried to use the lightest ball, put a spin on them and then get a few pins; others tried to bowl. It came out about the same score-wise. We congratulated each other, made fun of each other and had a few random tidbits of conversation.

It was just a nice opportunity hanging loose with friends, and forgetting about life’s troubles for a couple of hours. When we left the bowling alley it was with goodbyes and more jokes, along with a camaraderie that will never be forgotten.

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MARSHALL: Pub party, part 1

Recently I had a night of fun and celebration with a group of close friends.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

The Publications Club from John Wood Community College, which I founded, got together for a well-deserved outing after the hard work on our monthly publications during the school year.

A rag-tag group of misfits at our very best, we definitely know how to have a good time. We started at the Tower Pizza. Thankfully we sat in the bar area, so it was already pretty loud and our own volume didn’t alarm anyone.

After much debate over what to order, mostly in satirical suggestions — like getting everybody the same toppings with separate individual pizzas, or asking for seven different cheeses — we settled on the Jeff’s special and another kind of pie with more vegetables.
Our appetizers came and we went through many shenanigans over why double-dipping is not acceptable, then came to the conclusion it is. I made a bit of a mess of the marina sauce, and we conversed.

Everyone discussed their summer, and how it was going, how work was, all the pleasantry stuff. Then the food arrived and we chowed down like we hadn’t eaten since we last met. Seth served the pizza to many of us quite sloppily, sometimes spilling it upside down onto the plates.

Then we dined. But the evening didn’t stop there…

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MARSHALL: Listen to the last note

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On beautiful days it is especially enjoyable to cruise down the streets with the windows all the way down, the breeze rolling through the vehicle in a calm way.

Today is one of those perfect days with the sun out and the perfect amount of wind to make your skin not quite feel the burn of its rays .

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

Every time I drive I have to have music going, and I always prefer to be moving when the music is playing. It always feels better to me to have the car in some sort of motion while songs play; just sitting in the car at a standstill listening is not nearly as exciting.

When playing music in the car — be it on the radio, a CD, an mp3 or whatever the form of music — I have learned a pretty important rule passed down from my parents.

This rule is simple, and some people may dismiss it as real silly or unnecessary, but I am a firm believer that this is important when of course not in a big hurry or an emergency. Never ever, ever in a million years, even if you are tired, click off a song right in the middle when you get to your destination!

The solo must go appreciated; the last note must ring in your ears! Silencing an artist—especially one of your favorites — in the middle of a song you love is just terrible.

Call me crazy, but I like to hear the song in entirety and not just click it off dismissively. Maybe this is just a symptom of my youth, but I hope that I do not live to see the day I won’t sit in my car for one of my favorite ballads to finish.

So now you know the rule and except in emergencies, it should wisely be observed. You might find those last seconds of Sweet Emotion will improve your day, even make you appreciate it more.

Sometimes the little things can team up and make your day a good one.