One of the things I’ve loved most about sophomore year so far is the way my friends celebrate birthdays. Every birthday is a surprise party. Of course, it was easy at first. No one suspected it. The evening of a friend’s birthday wasn’t suspicious and you could fill his or her apartment with people without drawing too much attention. After a semester of 7 or 8 birthday surprises, however, we’ve had to get creative which, I think, makes it all the better. This past week was a lot of fun with not just one but two birthdays to celebrate. Monday was my birthday, and Friday was my friend Travis’. Here are the tales:

January 18th: The Monday of my birthday was bound to be a success, since there was no school for a change (Thank you Martin Luther King Day!). However I had no idea that Sunday would be just as fun. After making dinner in my boyfriend’s apartment with a bunch of fun people, he and I went up to my apartment to make some ice cream with my new ice cream maker and watch an episode or two of one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing. What I didn’t see was that he had brought along his doorstop and used it to prop the door open while I was around the corner in the living room. A little later, in the middle of an episode, he turned to me and asked me for a piece of gum, which inevitably led me into my room — where a huge crowd of my friends was waiting. We ate cake and ice cream, danced to really fun music and played telephone charades, which is perhaps the greatest game I have ever played and might even make it as the subject of a later blog posting. We stayed up late into the night and then I finally fell asleep, exhausted. The next evening was just as fun. We spent most of the day catching up on homework. I had a novel to finish for one of my GEs, but it was a fun, relaxing read — not at all a bad way to spend my birthday. That night 4 of my friends and I went downtown to the Westin Bonaventure where they have a lounge that rotates 360•, providing a view of all of downtown Los Angeles. We had some delicious desserts, walked around LA for a bit, and then came back. Overall, it was one of the best birthdays of my life.
January 22nd: The theme of this surprise is misdirection. Three of my friends and I were supposed to go on a retreat this weekend, but because of the snow that they got near Big Bear and the bus’ lack of tire chains, the retreat was canceled. We kind of “forgot” to tell Travis this, however. On Thursday night we said goodbye to him and that we’d see him on Sunday afternoon. If only he had known that we’d be seeing him less than 7 hours later. At 6:15, two of my friends and I gathered in our building and walked across campus to where Travis lived. With his roommate’s help, we crept into his building and into his room. My friends jumped on top of him and forced him to get up and get dressed as quickly as possible. We led him to the lounge and made him eat ice cream. Oh, and we pretended that this was our real goodbye. We avoided him all day and, despite some slip-ups that were quickly explained away, we managed to convince Travis that we really had left and were on a bus headed to the mountains. Instead, we were in our friends’ apartment with about 30 of Travis’ closest friends. Luring him to the apartment with hopes of leftover ice cream, we sent one group out to surprise him. Then we sent a second group. Lastly, the 4 of us who were supposedly not on campus came out and gave him a third shock. It was a great night. Every time someone new came in they would jump out from behind a couch or chair and “SURPRISE!” him again and again. We played more games and loved each others’ company.
I don’t know what to expect for the rest of the birthdays that will happen this semester, but I can’t wait. I know no matter what we do, we’re sure to have a blast.
P.S. Be sure to check out our webisodes for more information on what life as a Viterbi engineer is like!