Monthly Archives: March 2015

Small Victories

Last week’s post was a little bit sad.  This week, I thought I’d try a little more upbeat.

I have this problem with Facebook where I look at all the people I knew in middle school, high school, and even college who are getting married, having babies, or starting full time jobs doing exactly what they always wanted to do.  In the wake of that, I get very depressed because I worry that I’m not progressing quickly enough.  To counteract that, I’m going to take a moment to appreciate some of the small victories I’ve had over the last few weeks.

1. I started tutoring a kid a few weeks ago.  The first few sessions were kind of a nightmare.  I dreaded going every time because it was so difficult to get him to sit down and focus and I didn’t think i was actually helping him.  But over the last few sessions, it’s gotten so much better.  I’ve learned not to make him sit if he can do the activity standing, he’s been enjoying these Phonics lessons that Cora (my sort-of cousin, if you don’t know) used that helped her improve her reading, and he recognizes a lot of the “at” words.  I took some legos and wrote the sounds on the side so he can build the words, and he loves that.  He’s still got a ways to go, but he’s learning, and it’s a lot more fun.

2. I’ve been slowly knocking off movies from my list.  For some people, that might not be considered an accomplishment, but since I don’t watch all that many movies, it feels like one to me.

3. I actually got paid for a piece of writing that I submitted.  (It’s here, by the way.)  It wasn’t much, but it was a paycheck for writing, which felt like a step towards what I really want to do.  And it has encouraged me to keep submitting.

4. Jennifer and I are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, which goes towards my “get out and see more” goal.

These aren’t big things, but they are progress, and when I’m worried that I’m standing still in life, it’s good to remember the progress that I have made.  More importantly, it helps me know what to do and keep doing so that I can continue progressing.  It’s like with tutoring: you try things, they don’t work, you try something different and, if that does work, you know you should keep doing that.

So yay for progress, and here’s hoping for more.

(Oh, and I am taking on new clients, if you’re looking for a freelance writer.)

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Loss of a Pet

Sometime when I was in Elementary School, my family got a cat.  My dad was a daycare worker and he had taken us to the park, where this group of teenagers was tossing around a kitten.  He was a tiny thing and he was scared and, I don’t know how my dad did it, but he got the teens to give him the kitten.  We named him Tiger.

The thing about kittens is that they eventually grow into cats.  Tiger did, and my mom commented that it might be nice to have a kitten around again.  Almost as soon as she thought it, she realized how much work it would be and that kittens turn into cats and changed her mind, but by then it was too late.  The morning of her birthday, my dad left with me and my sister and came back with a kitten.  He sat the kitten on top of my mom and that was her wake up call.

Since we already had a boy cat, we had intended to get a boy cat.  With that assumption, my mom named her Mickey.

We’re not entirely sure, but we figure it’s been about thirteen years since then.  A few months ago, we took her to the vet because she’d been losing weight.  It turned out her kidneys were starting to fail.  Then a couple weeks ago, she got a cold and her body started to shut down.  We took her to the vet and they put her on fluids for a few days.  We brought her home and thought she was getting better.  Until last Thursday, when we had to take her to the vet because she was having a hard time breathing.  They found fluid around her lungs and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.  On Thursday, we had to put Mickey to sleep.

It was especially hard because we had thought she would be okay.  It’s the mistake I usually make: optimism.

Mickey was part of the family and I assumed I’d get to keep her forever.  But I didn’t and I’m sad, but if I’ve learned anything about grief, it’s this: it doesn’t go away.  Some days are harder than others.  But all in all, over time, it does get lighter.

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Book Club Thursday is canceled this week, on account of I couldn’t read the book today.  We had a pet emergency and spent a good amount of time today at the vet.

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St. Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day folks!  In honor of the holiday, I thought I’d tell you all about my trip to Ireland.  But, since it’s closing in on midnight and my stomach is a little worse for wear, I figured I’d just give you the bullet points.

  • First off, the adventure started early.  The bus was pulling out to head to the airport when one of the guys we were traveling with realized he had left his passport in his dorm room.  Then, I got retained for about thirty minutes as they double and triple checked my carry-ons with some cotton swabs.
  • The first night, we ended up at The Brazen Head, which is the oldest pub in Ireland, and Temple Bar.  I had Irish coffee at Temple Bar, but really it was just overpriced and overcrowded.  The Brazen Head, on the other hand, was fabulous.  I tried Guinness there for the first time, which has become basically the only beer I drink, and I tried Writer’s Tears, this whiskey I had been looking at for over a year.  Plus, it had low lights and this little band that played these Irish songs and, basically, I loved it there.
  • Emily and I went to the Guinness Storehouse.  We’d barely gotten through the first floor when the video went off and an alarm sounded.  They evacuated the entire building and we could swear we smelled smoke.  I went back on our last day in town, and it was incredible.  Besides the fact that I love Guinness, the story of how Guinness got from Arthur Guinness to where it is today was a really cool one.
  • We went to the leprechaun museum twice, once during the day and again at night.  The time at night was a murder mystery kind of thing.  I played the bartender and my fiance had been kidnapped by a man trying to protect himself from the fae.  It was really fun and a little bit scary, and I loved it.
  • The day before we were due to leave, almost the entire group went on a bus trip out to the cliffs of Moher.  We also stopped at this lovely little castle, as well as King John’s castle (which was really exciting for a Robin Hood nerd like me), and passed through Galway while “Galway Girl” was playing on the radio.  It was pretty fantastic, even though it rained and was misty and cold and I couldn’t see a whole lot of the cliffs.  The mini cliffs were really great though.
  • Oh!  And that’s where I bought baby Garrett a present and threw it away by accident.  I was so angry.
  • Yes we went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  It was beautiful, as was the countryside.

All in all, I had a lot of fun in Ireland, and I really look forward to the day I get to go back.  Oh!  And I recently spoke with my grandfather’s cousin who had some old family documents.  I officially have proof that I am part Irish.

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It’s Book Club Thursday!  Between work and tutoring, I managed to finish a book to talk about with you all, and the book is Nameless.

No, seriously, it’s called Nameless, it’s the first in Lili St. Crow’s Tales of Beauty and Madness series.  It’s a retelling of Snow White set in a world that sort of mirrors ours, with the addition of “Potential,” which is their word for magic.  It’s a little difficult to understand at first for that reason, in addition to all of the other special vocabulary that is used in their world to describe people and objects.  However, once you’ve passed the first few chapters and begin to understand the jargon, it becomes impossible to put down.  I used it for my book with a one word title.

Cami has a mysterious past, lives with the Family (their term for a group of vampires), and has two best friends who end up being Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.  After her adoptive father “transitions” into a full-fledged vampire, a boy shows up with her eyes and opens up the answers to her past.  As is to be expected, considering she was found bleeding in the snow when she was six, that past is dark and dangerous.  Even though she doesn’t remember it, it left her scarred physically and mentally, leaving her with a stutter, constant nightmares, and a voice in her head that continually tells her she is nothing.  In the end, she has to overcome all of that to fight back against her mother and realize that where she grew up is where she truly belonged and that family are the people you choose.

My most favorite thing about this book:  I love Cami’s friendship with Ellie and Ruby.  Even though she feels like the third wheel, the reader can tell how much they love her.  Plus, it fulfills my dream of Disney Princesses being best friends.

My least favorite thing about this book: Cami’s relationship with Nico is a little shaky.  He says things and goes against them sometimes, making him seem unreliable.  He gets better, but because the story is so Cami-centric, we don’t see his evolution nearly as much.  It makes their relationship seem a little flimsy.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Anyone who likes a good fairy tale retold, or who thinks Snow White can’t be feminist.  You can bite me.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  Between Heidi and a juvenile book called The Ghost, the White House, and Me.

Book Challenge

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My Movie Update

I’m not much of a movie person, so there are a lot of “classics” I haven’t seen.  For instance, I finally saw Jurassic Park the other week.  But the movies I’ve been really excited about watching are, of course, animated.  This past week I saw Big Hero 6 and MegaMind.

First, Big Hero 6: I went into it already knowing (spoiler!) that Tadashi dies, but it still made me very sad.  I LOVED the diversity. My cousin watched part of it with me and I got to show her the girl scientists and we talked about how cool they were.  Plus, the personalities are so well-developed.  I loved that Go Go is the tough chick, but she’s still the first to comfort Hiro.  And I love Honey Lemon with her sweetness and her toughness and her high heels!  I love that the lines are blurred between the good and bad guys, the heroes get emotional and make mistakes, even bad moral ones, and have to be reminded how to be good.  I’ve already ordered it and am really excited to show the rest of it to my cousin.

Then, MegaMind.  SO GOOD.  It was incredibly funny, both on a line-by-line level of just general wit, and on a deeper level of making fun of superhero/supervillain tropes.  Of course, my favorite characters are the “jerk with a heart of gold” types, so that might have influenced me a little.  I loved that, in the end, he did get to be the good guy.  And when he tried to do it pretending to be someone else, he failed, but once he was himself, he managed to save the day.  Lots of great lessons about destiny, staying true to yourself, etc.

So while I really liked Jurassic Park, I loved the two animated features I watched.  But…I fell asleep during Pretty in Pink.  It’s the next one on my list, besides The Book of Life which I’m waiting for at the library.  My list has gotten rather long, but I’m hoping for good things.  I am also open to suggestions, so tell me your favorite movie in the comments.

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Someday, Someday, Maybe

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages, and I finally got around to doing so this past week.  It’s written by Lauren Graham, a fantastic actress from one of my favorite shows Gilmore Girls.  After finishing Watchmen, I needed something with a little less meat, so I read Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham.

The story follows a young actress as she tries to break into show business while juggling her waitressing job and her personal relationships.  Part of the story is told using pages of her day planner so the reader can see into her head even further.

If you are looking for a light read, it’s great.  It’s funny and sweet with clearly defined good vs. bad guys.  If you’re looking for hard literature, this isn’t for you.  It shows the obstacles to making an acting career happen, but doesn’t make the stakes feel particularly high.  She has a back up plan for most of the book and by the time she discovers that Plan B has fallen through, it’s already pretty clear that her Plan A is going to work out.  Plus, it’s pretty obvious what is going to happen and how her life is going to end up.  Even though the book tries to end on a note of ambiguity, it isn’t difficult to infer what happens next.

This is my selection for a book with a love triangle although, as Franny points out, it’s actually a more complicated, realistic shape.

My most favorite thing about this book: There is a huge parallel between the main character and J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.  As a literature nut, I loved the reference.

My least favorite thing about this book: The planner pages didn’t work as well as she intended.  They were great for showing passage of time and level of activity, but sometimes they got too overcrowded and difficult to read.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Gilmore Girls fans!

Where I read this book: I actually finished this book in Chapel Hill.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  Between a book on women of the Bible and John Green’s Paper Towns.

Book Challenge

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A Peek Into the Past

This past weekend, I drove up to Chapel Hill for a reunion dinner.  The group of people I spent six weeks of my life, watching Shakespeare, drinking ale, and wandering London with had a dinner at Top of the Hill.  Obviously, everyone couldn’t make it, but I did.  Even though I was kinda sick.

I didn’t think I was sick when I drove up, or when I sat down for dinner, but over the course of the meal, my stomach turned and lurched and it didn’t end up being the best time for me.  And while I did enjoy seeing those people, it occurred to me that it still wasn’t the same, that what I missed most was the time and the place.  I may go back to London again, and I may see those people again, but it will never be my last class before college graduation, my first trip to King’s Cross and Paddington Station, my one chance to actually study at Oxford.

I went to bed early Saturday night, thinking I shouldn’t have gone.  But, while I sincerely hope I didn’t make anyone sick, I am glad I went, if only for Sunday.

The stomach problems were completely gone Sunday morning.  I ate breakfast at Alpine Bagel, went to one of my favorite bookstores (Flyleaf Books) with two wonderful friends, then got to have lunch with them at RamsHead Dining Hall.  Their omelettes are still amazing, by the way.  Then, I had coffee with a different plain at Caffe Draida.  I had intended to take her to Sugarland for a martini (I’ve been wanting to try one since I was 20, and it still hasn’t happened), but the coffee was really great too.  They gave me a mocha bowl and we discussed writing, our plans for the next steps of our lives, and even a little wedding planning.

I’m not exceptionally happy with the way my life is right now, so it’s very tempting to romanticize the past.  To be fair, my life was possibly less put together then.  I think the difference was, I didn’t feel like it was supposed to be.  I didn’t want it to be.  You know what I wanted?  To take odd jobs and live everywhere for a little while.  Now I feel like I’ll never do that, but if my 20s can’t be that way, I want the other goal: the marriage, and the career, and the white picket fence.

…that is not what this post was supposed to be about.  It was supposed to be about how happy I was to see my friends and how, even though the weekend began on a disappointing note, it ended happily.  Instead, I sort of rambled about feeling lost.  Umm…stay tuned next week?

See? I literally got a bowl of mocha.

See? I literally got a bowl of mocha.

Coming up this month: Big Hero 6, my weekend in Ireland, and my job search.

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