Just like old times!

So I finally got to visit my alma mater over the Easter break, and it felt great to be back on the grounds of UMBC. It was almost like coming home, but everything was strangely different. Many of the familiar faces around campus were gone, and now, coming back, the landscape of the place really changed a lot. There are so many younger students who I’ve never seen before, and it’s really different from how it was before, where everywhere you go, you would recognize someone. Here’s how the day went:

The day started with me getting up around 9 in the morning: took a shower, got some breakfast, and left for UMBC around 10 am. The traffic up to UMBC was absolutely perfect, so I actually got to UMBC incredibly early. I was planning to get there around 11, but I wound up getting there closer to 10:30. I went to the Game Room first to see if anyone was there, only to find a couple of people lurking around. I played there for a little bit, and then went to the second place I would expect everyone to be: the Student Organization room. When I was going to UMBC, all of my friends would hang out in there, and surely enough, they were all there! I found two of my great friends, Burton and Alina, along with Jess, Dan, Frankie, and Andrew, who came in a little later. Andrew had one of the quotes of the day for me:

“So you got a haircut…..and glasses with frames…..wow, since you graduated, you’ve become a fob!”

I also met Morgan, a new friend that hung out with all of the others. She was great to talk to, and everything was going great. Then noon drew closer, and it was time to go have lunch for Steff’s birthday. So I headed over to the bridge on the second floor of the Commons when I saw Stephanie walk into Flat Tuesdays. Just a short walk down the stairs, and it was party time! The lunch was small, but a lot of people stopped in to wish Steff a happy birthday and to give her cards and gifts. I gave her my gift: a USB drive containing a special birthday album that I’ve been compiling for the better part of a month. Her friend Alex got her a dozen pink roses, which I thought was a great gesture. While we were at lunch, Steff started singing a song by Rihanna, when she suddenly said “I should stop singing that! It’s a bad song!” My friend Uwem and I both kinda looked at her, seeing nothing wrong with the song, when she told us that she watched a YouTube video about how Rihanna plants a lot of messages about the devil in her music, and that she worships the devil. I had never heard about this beforehand, but apparently, some people have been making YouTube videos with evidence of the satanic messages in her songs. It’s one of the craziest things I’ve seen people post on YouTube.

Afterward, I was still with Steff, so we decided to sit outside while I got my lunch, since the lines at the food places were too long when the actual birthday lunch was happening. I got a Chicken Caesar Salad and headed out, and Steff showed me a lot of the pictures that we took from our day in Silver Spring. A lot of them turned out to be incredible! Steff really deserves to get an A for that project, and I’m glad that I was able to help. Of course, halfway into looking at the pictures, her grandparents in Germany called her on Skype! So she got the chance to talk to them and thank them for their birthday wishes. Just after that, Steff’s boyfriend Nicklas (I hope I got the spelling right) called her on Skype, so I finally got to meet (well, in a digital sense) her guy. Honestly, he was a great guy, although his internet connection made the conversations chop a whole lot. But he had a great personality, and was just a really nice person to talk to. After a couple more pictures with Steff, it was time for her to head to work, so I walked her over to the Fine Arts building.

On my way back to the Commons, I ran right into the person I was going to meet up with next: Cara! She was free from 2-4, so we walked around the Quad for a little bit before we realized it was way too hot to be walking around, so we settled inside the Commons and talked for a little while. She’s been going job hunting, seeing if there are any government jobs available in DC. I was telling her about work, and my constant pursuit of an apartment in DC. After a while, we decided to go get some coffee at the new Starbucks on campus. After we got out coffee over there, we sat down to talk some more, and then my friend Paridhi found me! I introduced the two to each other, and then Paridhi ran off to the bathroom. Around that time, Cara had to run to her next class, so I walked her over, and gave her a big hug, hoping that we get to do this again soon. Then, I went back to the Starbucks place to spend some time with Paridhi. She was doing well, and she was actually one of the friends that I had seen recently (when her and Ha came to visit DC over the winter). She actually wasn’t one of the people that I didn’t think I’d have the chance to run into, but it was just one of those days where I was just in all the right places.

After leaving Paridhi, I went back up to the Student Organization room, where Dan, Burton, and my friend Jeff were playing poker. The buyin was $20 with 25¢/50¢ blinds, and I was really in the mood to play some real live poker. I’ve been playing all the online tournaments, so I wanted to see how I would fare in a real cash setting. The first hand I got dealt was K-Q of diamonds in the small blind. I called the raise from the button, and the flop came down 6-Q-3 with two clubs I believe. I bet, Dan called, everyone else went out, and the turn was a 4, putting the potential straight on the board. I bet my top pair again, and Dan called, and the river was a blank, but Dan decided to overbet the pot by about three times. Now, since this was the first hand, I had no idea what Dan’s style of play was. I was trying to get a read on him, asking him questions and try to get him talking, but whatever he had, he concealed it well. I ended up folded, and he showed a J-7 for the total blank bluff. He got me good and I was stuck about $13 in the first hand.

However, I got back. I was at about $6.25 when I picked up Q-2 offsuit on the button. I raised it, Jeff and Dan called, and I flopped bottom pair. Jeff led out, Dan folded, and I called, hoping to make something out of bottom pair. The turn was a Queen, which gave me top two pair. Jeff still kept the aggression on me with a bet, and I called. The river was a third club, and Jeff bet me all in. I called, and he had flopped top pair that was counterfeited by my two pair on the turn. So I managed to get to $12.50, and Jeff wasn’t too happy. I did make a pretty bad call on the flop, but I was figuring I would get all my money in on something to put me back in the game.

The very next hand, I got the exact same Q-2, and raised it to about $1.50. Jeff, angry at my bad play from the last hand, decided to reraise to $10 on the button just to force me out of the pot. However, Burton decided to call him in the small blind, so they went heads up, and the flop was A-A-2. Burton checked, and Jeff made a continuation bet, realizing the pot was more that $20 before the flop, and Burton called. The turn was a king, I believe, Burton checked, and Jeff fired another bullet. Burton called, and the river was a blank. Burton checked, and Jeff went all in. Now, this pot swelled to over $100, so Burton had a big decision to make. He ended up making the call, and Jeff showed King high. Burton turned over A-10 suited, having Jeff dead on the flop, and busting out Jeff.

Of course, Jeff started reeling after the beat, citing that Burton made a bad call of his $10 reraise pre-flop. Now, from face value, Jeff may have been right, but Burton noticed that Jeff was a bit on tilt after I beat him the pot before, and my action pre-flop on the next hand incited Jeff to make that killer raise in an attempt to recover some money from what I took from him. Also, Burton had a pretty decent hand for a four-handed game: A-10 of diamonds has potential for nut straights, nut flushes, even full houses. Even if Burton missed the flop, he could have Ace high in the event that Jeff had nothing. He didn’t give Jeff credit for his huge reraise since Jeff tends to play loosely. The only risk there was that if Jeff made that raise in any other situation, it would mean it’s either holding a pocket pair like queens or higher, or A-K, where Burton would have to draw to a flush to beat him. Nevertheless, in that one hand, Burton won over $200. He told me that for the month he was down a lot of money, and that one hand brought him back to almost even.

There was another hand that Burton and I played where I laid down what I think was a pair of aces, and almost instantly folded on the turn because I knew that Burton had three kings. I had no idea how I folded that hand or how I even knew I was beat, but my mind was just working on a level I hadn’t played on before. I guess losing that first hand to Dan really helped me getting into the right gear! At the end of the game, I was up $35, meaning I bought in with $20, was down to $6.25, and left with $55. That’s a pretty great comeback! I was happy with the way I played today, and it really brought me satisfaction knowing that the survival skills I learned online really came in handy in a live setting.

I pretty much hung around there for the remainder of the day. I just talked with Alina about work and life while Burton was at class, and watched Kyoo play heads up with Dan. I also played with Alina and another guy named Yoshi (I might be getting that name horribly wrong) for fun, and I lost pretty horribly. For some reason, when you don’t play for money, everyone had a full house but you!

After that, it was nearing 7 pm, so I went to the Game Room one last time, and played against Tai, who had gotten markedly better at pool since the last time I saw him. I was shooting pretty badly all day, but I played my best game of the day when Enrique and Lem walked in. It was just luck of the draw that they both came, since we were all part of the old guard of people that used to frequent the Game Room all the time. So we caught up a little, and after that, I had to get on my way back home before it got too dark.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was exactly what I needed, especially because I was reading about something that Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park said about getting a job and then becoming a robot after a while. The whole “get up, go to work, go home, go to sleep” deal gets old, and it’s not healthy, either. So I was glad to get to see everyone, and even better that I got to see all of them in one day. It seemed like overload, but you can never have enough of the friends you love. =]

Alright, I’m sleepy. Good night!

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