Monthly Archives: December 2014

My Year In Review: 2014

Tomorrow is the last day of 2014.  Everywhere else has been doing “Year in Review” features, so I thought I’d do one too.

I spent the first few months of 2014 down at Disney World.  I worked as a costumer, which was actually a lot of hard work.  I met a few good friends I am sad to say I will probably never see again.  I met a few people who made me feel small and who I am glad I don’t ever have to think about again.  I was at Hollywood Studios for its 25th anniversary, which was kind of a magical moment.  It would be difficult to sum up the experience because I spent a week there with my family, and saw Dream Along With Mickey almost a half dozen times and cried and met every single princess there.  It is the most magical place, and I was so proud to be part of that for a little while.

I did take a couple breaks from Disney.  One was a weekend trip with my mom and my sister to New York where I saw Idina Menzel kick butt in her newest musical If/Then.  It made me reconsider life, and the tiny choices we make every day.  Sometimes I contemplate the decisions that led me to this specific point.  Sometimes I wonder if I would be the same person if certain things were different.  Then I spent a weekend in Chapel Hill with my family and my boyfriend celebrating my graduation from college.  I saw people I hadn’t seen in a while and once again contemplated how much I had changed in such a short period of time.

Then I spent three weeks in London and three in Oxford.  I drank about three cups of tea a day, I wrote four papers, I got my wallet stolen (along with my ID, my cash, my credit, and my debit card), saw a TON of Shakespeare plays (including one with Martin “f*** you I won a BAFTA” Freeman!) and made some good friends who I actually do think I’ll see again.  I loved England.  It’s full of history and culture and, most importantly, stories.  And now some of them are personal, and that makes it so much better.  Sometimes I want to live there.  The museums, the plays, the bookstores…the streets and the parks and even the food.  I took a weekend trip to Ireland with those friends and fell in love with Guinness.  I took a trip to Nottingham by myself, that made me feel like I could do anything and then made me feel completely helpless, but most importantly made me fall in love with Robin Hood a little more and inspired me to continue working on my novel.

I got a new job, a semi-permanent part-time position at the library meaning I am, for all intents and purposes, a librarian.  I have always wanted to be a librarian.  It’s the perfect job for me.  I get to find books people are excited about reading.  And if they don’t have an idea, I get to SUGGEST books to them.  It’s fantastic!

On the one hand, if this year proves anything, it’s that things happen.  I have lived in three different places and had three different jobs, which has kind of been my dream since high school.  And yet, I worry that that was the “college/grad” thing and now that I have “settled” into a job, I won’t be able to pick up and travel, I won’t be able to live as a nomad at all, I won’t be able to be a “free-spirit.”

Or maybe…maybe all it means is that now I have to make things happen myself.

So my goals for 2015 are as follows:

1. Find a way to travel and have new experiences despite being “grown up.”

2. Finish the first draft of my novel.

3. Read.  Read a lot.  Read more than I did in 2014.

4. Be kinder.  Especially to myself.  This includes standing up for myself when necessary.

5. Lose 50 pounds.

6. Stick to a budget.

7. Get a full-time job, either at the library or elsewhere.

These are goals, not resolutions, and I have already begun trying to put in the work to make them happen.  Still, I have a long way to go.  Overall, I’d like to try to be brave this year.  I want to be healthy and happy with myself.  I want to be, as cliche as it might sound, alive.

Wish me luck.New

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Merry (late) Christmas, and the end of the Book Challenge

Yesterday was a lovely day.  Presents, of course.  Breakfast with our old neighbors.  Lunch with the family AND the boyfriend that went…surprisingly well.

As expected, some of those presents were BOOKS!  And so, I shall complete the  Book Challenge.  The first two parts are here and here.  Sorry this is a day late, but this has been the hardest leg of the challenge.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

19. Traveling home, reading this: This year, I’m living with my mother, so I didn’t have to travel for Christmas  But the last few years, driving home from school for Christmas break, this is the book I was listening to:

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20. Set where I live: For my 2015 challenge, I need to find a book set in my hometown.  But for this one, I just figure my state will do fine.  And every Nicholas Sparks book is set in North Carolina.  This is the one I’m working on now…and have been for a while…

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21. To be read:  I have a rule where I only read books I own.  And I have almost 400 of them. The list is here.  And here they are on my “to-read” book shelves…

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22. Favorite festive scene: Yeah…I don’t have one.  But the most recent festive scene I’ve read (except for the ones in A Christmas Carol, was in this book.

23. The best present: I got a few books for Christmas.  They’re all lovely.  But this one is autographed!

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24. For Father Christmas: See, this is why this was the hardest leg of the challenge.  What book would I give Father Christmas?  The only thing I can think of is this:

25. Under the tree: And these two I opened on Christmas Day.  They’re simply beautiful.

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(If you can’t read it, that’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned and then Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, actually bound by and purchased AT Tiffany’s.)

So these are some of my books.

Also, this is the book challenge I’m going to try to complete in January.  I got it off Tumblr.

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20 Christmas Questions

I’m trying to brainstorm blog post ideas in advance so I’m not stuck when Tuesday comes.  Today was meant to be “my thoughts on Christmas.”  And even though that is something I absolutely should be able to talk about, I have nothing to say.

It may be due to how today is going.  I’m working and we are…dead.  Ridiculously dead.  Like Marley dead.  (I did end up finishing A Christmas Carol.  Really good!)

Since I’m having trouble, I thought I’d answer the questions I found here.  At least I’m posting, right?

1. Wrapping paper and gift bags?  I prefer wrapping paper.  For some reason, gift bags seem less fun.  Probably because they’re less work.
2. Real tree or artificial?  It’s only been since I was 17 that we started getting a real tree, and I love it.  We still have one real and one artificial.  If it were up to me, we’d JUST have real ones.

3. When do you put up the tree?  When we get to it.  I still live with my mom, so lots of these things aren’t up to me.  We usually do it the first few days of December.  If I can hold my sister off until after Thanksgiving, I’m satisfied.

4. When do you take down the tree? Again, not up to me, but Mom doesn’t like to leave it up for long.
5. Favourite gift received as a child? I think the one I was most excited about at the time was my My Twinn doll.  Which…I did not realize were still around.  But they are?

6. Hardest person to buy for: My boyfriend.  I mean, I could get him anything and he’d like it fine.  But it never feels like enough.

7. Easiest person to buy for: Lately it’s been my sister.  I think I’ve gotten to know her a lot better since I got home from college.  Plus, she’s very vocal about what she likes.  And what she doesn’t.  She’s the best really.

8. Post or e-mail Christmas cards: Oooh…I’d love to do post, because I love mail in general, but I don’t really do either.

9. Favourite Christmas film: You know, I was thinking about this the other day, and I can’t really decide.  Something Disney, obviously.  Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas? Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas? Prep and Landing?  Not sure…

10. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  No earlier than November, but that’s the point where, if I see something and think of someone, I’ll start getting it.

11. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Don’t think so.

12. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas. Probably ham.

13. Lights on the tree (Coloured or clear?)  Colored!  Our pre-lit artificial tree has white and I so miss my colored!

14. Favourite Christmas song: Brad Paisley’s “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy.”  Plus, Snoopy vs. the Red Baron

15. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Stay home.  Travel lots before.  But on the day of? I want to stay home.

16. Angel, star or ribbon on top of the tree?  My ultimate goal is to have Angelique from Beauty and the Beast: the Enchanted Christmas on my tree.  But that’s a pipe dream.

17. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?  We open one Christmas Eve and the rest super early Christmas morning.

18. Most annoying thing about this time of year: Traffic.

19. What do you want for Christmas this year?  Lots of things.  Mostly books, a couple movies, the Belle Animator’s Collection Doll

20. Traditional colours (red and green) or other colours?  Mostly traditional, but I don’t decorate to a color scheme, if that’s what you mean.

Any other questions about Christmas preferences? I’d love to answer them…
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Book A Day Challenge, 12 through 18

Hello again!  Like promised, I’m going to do seven more books from PenguinUK’s December book challenge.  1 through 11 can be found here.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

12. Book of Poems: I wanted to use my Langston Hughes book, but I’ve kind of misplaced it.  So instead, I decided to use the prettiest book of poems I have: Princess by Tennyson.  It also has my favorite poem of all time in it: The Lady of Shalott.

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13. Stocking filler: I picked this one specifically because of its size.  The picture has it next to a coffee mug so you can see how small it is.  I bought it in London, and it’s a replica of a book created for Queen Mary’s dollhouse.

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14. Read at school: I was an English major, so there are a lot of books I could have used for this one.  Plus, my seventh grade math teacher saw me at my job at the library and said, “This is the perfect place for you!  How do they keep you from reading all the books?” so I could also put a lot of books here that I literally read at school.  But this was one of my favorites, which I read my senior year of high school.  Plus, I’ve been thinking about that class a lot anyway because my senior English teacher’s wife just passed away, and…well, it doesn’t seem quite real.

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15.  Favorite color cover:  For the poetry question, I had a lot of books to choose from.  This book could have easily fit the description, but it is also pink with black in it, and those are my favorite colors.

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16. It’s already wrapped, but you can see the actual book here. It’s called Beautiful Brides, because my cousin has been wanting a book that has Jasmine’s wedding in it and we’re trying to teach her to read.  Which is why I don’t mind posting it here.  She’ll never know.  Anyway, I love her a lot.  Sometimes my boyfriend has to remind me that she isn’t actually my child.

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17. A funny read…not for the faint of heart or easily offended.  Or…even the not so easily but still possible to be offended.

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18. And a massive tome.  Possibly the longest book I’ve ever read.  Not that I’ve measured…

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So show up next week to see 19 through 25!  I will still post, even though it’s Christmas.  And we’ll see what books I get!

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Alma Mater

This weekend, I took my first trip to Chapel Hill as an alumna.  I spent four (three and a half) years there as a student.  I found The Whispering Bench and Gimghoul Castle.  I met some amazing authors.  Heck, I’ve met some amazing people period.

I love wearing Carolina Blue.

In honor of the occasion, I bought a new shirt that says, “The Alma Mater is all that matters.” at Johnny T Shirts.  I also went to He’s Not Here, this iconic bar at Chapel Hill.  I only went once when I was actually in school.  I’m glad I went.  I felt like I was part of a tradition, and I had a very satisfying, slightly buzzed conversation with the person I went with.  And sometimes I think I missed out on things I could have been doing in college.

The more I think about it, the more I think that’s wrong.  I mean, I did go to a frat party, and I did spend one (and only one) night “bar-hopping.”  (Okay, I went to He’s Not Here and this other bar called The Library that I had wanted to go to since I was a freshman because I’m a giant book nerd.)  I’m glad I got to experience those things.  But, all in all, they aren’t me.

My college experience was more about how many amazing authors I met, the Mark D. Sanders performance I saw in Graham Memorial, the GISHWHES I almost failed at, every omelet I had in Rams Head Diner, and the crazy walk I made with Katie, through ice and snow, to get to Chipotle.  There are the people I met and still talk to, and the people I only got to have a few great and powerful conversations with.  There was that creative writing class with the professor I hated that I dropped mid semester, and all of the ones with professors I loved.

Sometimes I worry that those really were the best years of my life.  I worry that I’ve “peaked.”  I was spending my days writing because I “had” to, seeing people who made me happy, and taking random trips because the mood struck.  Freshman year, I went to DC for a weekend on twenty bucks.  I slept on the floor of some guy I had only met once, but I had a great time.  And a lot of what I want for my life is what I already had in college: lots of reading and writing, lunch with good friends, talking to published authors (and good ones too. ahem), cultural shows, and lots of opportunities to try new things.  That’s what I want in my life.  That level of independence and freedom and my main job being writing.  That’s it.

That being said…I’m going to go work on my novel now.

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Book-A-Day Challenge, 1-11

So…this is a thing that I wanted to do, but I don’t live in the UK, I don’t have Instagram, and I’m awful at doing anything “a-day,” so I figured what I would do is do it here, for Book Club Thursday.  But since it’s for the entire month of December, I’ll just start with today and the ten days of December that have passed us.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

This was found on the PenguinUKBooks Instagram.

1. Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Lizzie Bennett has the t-shirt and, to be honest, I’m still upset I missed it when it was in the dftba.com store.

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2. This is Water: This book is super short, but left me feeling unsettled and wanting to pray, for the first time in a long time, at one o’clock in the morning.  Books like this keep you up at night.

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3. The Beautiful and the Damned: Not only is this book on my Christmas list, this specific edition is on my Christmas list.  Usually, I read a book, fall in love with it, and THEN want the pretty copy, but this and The Wind in the Willows, I want the pretty copy right off the bat.

This is the only image (besides the challenge itself) that I did not personally take. I found it on booksamillion.com.

4. I guess it depends on how you define a “chilly night.”  If it’s a night that you’re scared or lonely and can’t get the covers to wrap tightly enough around you, then this is definitely my book for that.  The edges are worn because I’ve read it so many times and if I go anywhere for longer than a couple of days, it comes with me.

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5. I guess this is because it’s actually a British arm of the publishing company, but for me, there was no contest.

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6. I’m choosing this as my “everyone should read” not because of how great the writing is, but because it’s really helpful for parsing the crap from the reality when people are trying to sell you things.

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7. Childhood favorite: No. Contest.

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8. A classic, Perry Mason. Also, a pretty book.

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9. If you open it up, it’s got physical souvenirs in a little pouch.  That, and the rose on the cover, were the only things I knew about this book when I asked for it.  Also, if someone without phone anxiety issues wants to call this number so I can find out if anything happens, I’d love you forever.

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10.  I buy books so often and have such a horrible memory that it’s hard to determine which was my last.  However, I think it was these…at Goodwill.

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11. And, for my Christmas classic and, coincidentally, the book I was intending to read next: Dickens.

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I’ll do 12 – 18 next Book Club Thursday, so come back then.

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Mockingjay

Last Wednesday, I finally went to see Mockingjay (Part 1) with a friend of mine.  I avoided Catching Fire while it was in theaters, and thought I might do the same for this movie until she invited me.  It isn’t because I don’t love the book series, which I do, or because I was afraid they’d mess things up, because they didn’t for the first two.  I think the reason is because it is done so well, I wasn’t sure I was ready to relive what that book put me through.  In the end, I, of course, loved it.  Here are five things I thought about the movie (possible spoilers ahead).

1. The characters felt so real.  They were true to themselves, but also true to the development that has already happened.  Katniss being shy about asking for things, until they tell her no was perfect, and Prim being both clever enough to realize this was an option and kindhearted enough to go back for the cat was beautiful.

2. I am so so sad about Philip Seymour Hoffman.  He was amazing in this movie.

3. I was incredibly moved by the grassroots nature of the revolution in this movie.  I loved that Rue’s whistled tune was the signal and the dam breaking scene made my chest swell in awe.  I was inspired by their determination and by the fact that the Peacekeepers could take down some of them but could never prevail against all of them.  It gave me a little hope for the world.

4. Finnick and Annie’s reunion scene was the most romantic thing I’ve seen on film in a long time.  And I am so glad they kept in his description of what happened to him.  Sam Claflin was magnetic.  During that portion, every time they would turn the camera to the action happening in the Capitol, I would will them to turn it back to Finnick.

5. One of the things I loved most about this movie is that they got out of Katniss’ head.  Don’t get me wrong, I love her as a character and I love hearing her voice in the books.  But since they don’t spend the movie focusing on her perspective, we get to see things we didn’t in the book.  The scene where Snow announces that any association with the mockingjay will be cause for death, for instance, so his granddaughter takes down her braid was subtle and yet breathtaking.  Of course, this is why we were able to see all of the grassroots efforts.

Overall, I think it was an amazing adaptation of its source material.  It wasn’t exactly the same, but it got through the same themes and ideals, and it was beautifully done.

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Big Five (Again)

I don’t think I have a whole lot to say today so, instead…here are five things that have happened to me in the last week.

1. Yesterday I ordered my new laptop.  Single largest purchase I have ever made, personally, and I was very nervous about it.  But I spent the extra five bucks expecting it to get her Thursday, and it actually arrived today.  So far so good, but it’s still a little weird.

2. I named her Felicia.

3. I am working on my first Story Time.  It’s going to be on December 23rd, and it’s going to be Christmas Eve themed.  I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited.  I’m also planning a book themed Story Time and a princess themed Story Time for next year.

4. I went to see Mockingjay Pt. 1.  I plan to talk more about it on Book Club Thursday.

5.  I did go to my boyfriend’s house the other night.  We cooked dinner together, had some wine, and watched (in between the cooking and eating) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Between that and the laptop-buying thing, I’m noticing more moments where I feel like an adult.

Yeah…I guess that’s really it.

Well, that’s not it.  There’s one other thing.  But I really don’t feel up to talking about it at the moment, so…until next week?

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