Monthly Archives: May 2015

Thursday Update

In college, I used to do this thing where I was so anxious about how little time I had to do something, so I did nothing at all.  Or I did something that had absolutely no rush on it.  I have one story I like to tell about how my roommate came home from a date one time, looked at my side of the room, and said, “Wow!  It’s really clean in here!  You have a Hebrew test tomorrow, don’t you?”

Sometimes, I power through.  Others (of course, only when my decision affects no one else), I choke.  Today was a choke.

By choke, I don’t mean I was completely useless.  I did write six pages today, and I read about a hundred pages.  Plus, I made two sauces from scratch.

But I didn’t write as much as I wanted to and I definitely didn’t finish To Kill a Mockingbird like I wanted.

Yes.  I am finally reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  My sister just finished reading it for her class, which reminded me how I never read it even though it was assigned.  At the family picnic I told you about on Tuesday, my uncle insisted I had to return my degree until the book was completed.  Plus, it’s way shorter than the other book I’m trying to get through right now.

I’m almost halfway through.  I really like Atticus’ parenting style, but I don’t know if that would actually work in reality. Partway through chapter 8, I found myself wondering, “When does something actually happen?”  I like the writing style, but in books like this where I know what the main plot is, I get impatient for it to get there.  It’s a slow build I’m noticing.  I think it’s going to be worth it in the end.

I promise I will finish it by next Thursday.  I’m hoping to finish my draft by Sunday, which will free up some of my time.  I’m going to have lots of it in June, so don’t forget to vote in the poll for my Reader-Voted Project!

Also, leave a comment.  Did you read To Kill a Mockingbird? What did you think?


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The Three-Parter

Like the Guinness cake I made for my boyfriend’s birthday last year, this blog post comes to you in three parts.

Part 1.

As promised, I’m going to share about the family event that happened on Sunday.  We drove down to Chester State Park for the day.  It’s really pretty down there.  I got a little carsick on the way (bumpy, twisty roads), which has never happened before, but once we got there, it was a lot of fun.  I played cards with my two younger cousins, who just finished their school year.  Then I went for a hike with my uncle and my oldest cousin.  We saw some birds and talked about books, movies, and my job.

The food was amazing.  We brought home four pieces of corn because the way my aunt made it was so good.  She also made chocolate chip scones which were equally delicious.

This is my dad’s brother and his family, who live in the next state, so we don’t see them as often as we’d like.  As such, it was really nice to catch up with them.  They’re planning a HUGE road trip for the summer and suggested some movies for me to watch as well.

Part 2. 

I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road this week.  To keep this post from being the length of a novel (or at least, the first draft of mine), I’m going to do very brief reviews in the form of Pros and Cons.

Age of Ultron:

  • Positives: The sass!  The sass is great.  The treatment of Steve’s PTSD, plus his treatment of the twins.  Tony’s characterization, culminating in the creation of Ultron.  Tony and Thor bragging about their women’s accomplishments.
  • Negatives: Basically everything else.  CGI mainly looked like a video game.  The Natasha/Bruce relationship came out of nowhere.  Clint’s hidden family?  Sucks and has no emotional weight because they also came from no where.  I actually wanted to see Jane and Pepper, and Falcon should have been involved in the fight more. Natasha’s only scenes were related to her relationship with Bruce.  And the fact that they made her barrenness about him was an insult.

Mad Max:

  • Positives: SO MANY KICKASS WOMEN!  We have Furiosa the warrior, the “wives” who were declaring their independence and that “we are not things,” the mothers who are protecting their own and set out to find a new home, and even the women at the end of the movie who used to pump milk but opened the floodgates to give the people water.  I LOVE THEM ALL!  Max handing Furiosa guns is the best thing ever.  The story of them looking for the “green place” and finding it where they started but without the warlord is amazing.  Every death (and there is death) is important and meaningful.  All the road rage is awesome.  Made me want to go drag racing…
  • Negatives: …I honestly can’t think of anything to put here.

So you can see which I preferred.  Not sure I’ll watch another Marvel movie until Captain Marvel.  I guess we’ll see, but you should definitely go see Mad Max.  It isn’t your average action movie.  I mean, it definitely has explosions and fight scenes, but it also has emotional resonance and awesome female heroes.

Part 3.

This is the last Tuesday post of May, so I’m looking ahead to June.  Here’s what I’ll be writing next month, barring any surprises.

June 2: Brad Paisley concert (yay!)
June 9: Novel Writing: The First Draft.
June 16: June Reader-Voted Project.
June 23: Father’s Day, and the lack of.
June 30: Sarah Dessen at Malaprops!

And speaking of, this is the last week to vote in my Reader-Voted Project poll.  So cast your vote, and we’ll see what happens.

(Also, yes, I got the challenge in my comments.  I’m going to work on it during June, but won’t post until July.  But I will post it!)

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The Other Boleyn Girl, Take 2.

Of course, I finished The Other Boleyn Girl the day after my blog post last week.  Most of my thoughts did not change.  William Stafford protected his wife while still allowing her to make her own decisions.  Anne was her own undoing through her ambition.  While it was pitiable and wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t produce a son, she’s the one who taught the king that lack of an heir was reason enough to “set aside” a wife.

To the end, I loved Mary.  Even while her rivalry went on with her sister, she supported her and loved her.  In the end, her love for her siblings was only eclipsed by her passionate love for her children.  If not for them, she would have died alongside her brother and sister.

As far as writing goes, it’s difficult to tell a story where most people already know what happened, but using Mary as her narrator allowed Gregory to do it fantastically.  She bookends the story with two executions, both of which Mary expects to be stopped at the last minute, showing her faith in the king as well as the absurdity of the events we accept as history to the people of the time period.  And her final word is a foreshadowing.  Though Mary claims Elizabeth will never be on the throne because of her mother’s disgrace, she does say that Elizabeth is a Boleyn and a Tudor and, with that combination, anything is possible.

My most favorite thing about this book:  I love Mary more than any of the other characters because of her loyalty, love, and growth.

My least favorite thing about this book: How young the girls are when they’re first expected to consummate relationships, and not even for pleasure but for family gain.  Yes, again, I know: it’s how it was.  But it sucked.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: People who are interested in Henry VIII specifically or, in general, life at royal court during that age.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  Between Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie and Just Ella, which MAY be my favorite Cinderella retelling.

Book Challenge

There’s still time to vote for the Reader-Voted Project in June!

And stay tuned Tuesday for the family gathering and a brief rant on why I hated Age of Ultron.

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Today has been the most terrible day.  I could vent and whine and tell you all about it, but instead, I’m going to stick with my original plan and tell you about something even better: Pitch Perfect 2.

Allison and I went on Thursday night and, since I loved the first so much, I wanted to talk about it.  Spoilers incoming.

From the first number, it was clear: these Bellas were a professional group of artists.  Or as professional as any group that contains someone called “Fat Amy” can be.  It also showed how high they had climbed and, by the end of the song, how far they had to fall.  This problem and their ultimatum from the association set the movie up nicely with higher stakes than the first one.  In Pitch Perfect, they just wanted to win and had to learn to work together.  But in this movie, their main concern was keeping the Bellas together, literally and figuratively.

After beating them at Lincoln Center, the Treblemakers are no longer the Bellas’ archenemies.  They have new competition: Das Sound Machine.  Their performances are theatrical and loud, and even the people are bigger than Beca.  But theirs an even bigger problem the girls have to worry about: their future is right around the corner, since the Bellas are seniors.  Beca splits her time between the Bellas and her new internship at a music studio.  Meanwhile, there’s a freshman Bella who has to figure out how she fits into the existing team that’s trying not to fall apart.

The story itself is perfect for a sequel: it follows the same theme but makes it bigger and throws in new problems.  In the first movie, the girls had to build a team from the ground up.  In this one, they had to figure out how to remain a team with the threat of dissolution.  But it also fits perfectly to the characters.  Chloe still believes the Bellas and singing are everything, Beca still keeps people at a distance even as she’s trying to be better about it, and Fat Amy is just as wild and crazy as before.  Even Jesse and Aubrey, who’s parts are not as big as the others, perfectly combine their central characteristics and the growth they saw in the first movie.

And of course, the music is so central to the story and characters.  It combines all of what we loved in the first movie (even bringing us a new Riff Off!) with the ups and downs of the new story.  The first time new Bella Emily tries to sing with the group, she stumbles.  When the group tries to imitate Das Sound Machine, they realize it isn’t for them.  And when they finally rediscover their sound, its the “Cups” song we all know and love from the original.

Of course, the final number was amazing, both visually and musically, and was a very satisfying ending that solved the main problem of the movie.  Which wasn’t actually the need to win so they could remain a team, but figuring out what being a sisterhood would  mean when they moved away from it.

I loved it, and I was so happy to see the girls I fell in love with a few years ago growing up and staying strong.  I bought the soundtrack.  And listening to it and realizing even Beca Mitchell doesn’t have her shit all together makes me feel way better about today.

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Who is the Other Boleyn Girl?

I was trying to finish The Other Boleyn Girl for you tonight, but it’s over 700 pages and Pitch Perfect 2 came out tonight.  I will tell you more about the movie on Tuesday, but first: my initial thoughts about this book by Philippa Gregory.

1. I was horrified by how young she was when she married and subsequently bedded the king.  I mean, I know it’s historically accurate, but my god how disturbing.

2. The casual way that children are cast aside is also concerning.

3. I LOVE William Stafford, and I HATE the king.  I understand that’s because he was spoiled and raised to be king, but it still sucks.

4. I’m simultaneously impressed and disgusted with Anne.  The fact that she can manage to keep it going for so long is incredible but how she treats her sister is despicable.

5. I would HATE to be a courtier.

I promise it will be finished by next Thursday (hell, I’ll probably be done tomorrow, since I don’t have to work), and I can tell you more of my thoughts on it. In the meantime, look for my post about Pitch Perfect 2 and how it was the perfect sequel.  Oh, and don’t forget to answer my poll.

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I do not have a story about meeting Cary Elwes, but I do have GOALS. And you can help!

I was very excited to be going back to Chapel Hill for a day to meet Cary Elwes, because I love him in The Princess Bride and Psych and, of course my favorite movie, Robin Hood: Men In Tights.  But then this happened.

Clearly, not as I wish.

Clearly, not as I wish.

It made me very sad but, on the flip side, I did manage to write twelve pages that day.  So there is a silver lining.

The downside is that I don’t have an awesome story for you guys today.  I could make one up, I guess, but…that’s what my novel is for.

Now for goals, specifically for this blog:

  1. I want to give it a little more focus.  I’m thinking the tagline is going to be something about “Working out Life in Your Twenties.”
  2. More reader involvement.  THIS IS THE PART WHERE YOU REALLY COME IN.
  3. And more honest writing.

So if you have any “twenties-something” challenge you want to see me do, or any hard questions you want me to answer, leave them in the comments.

As for reader involvement: I’m going to try something this month.  Below is a poll.  It will stay opened until June 1, 2015.  It will be my “reader-voted project” for the month and I’ll do a write-up about it before June is over.

So if you’ve read this far, pick an answer.  If you really don’t have a preference, just check the first dot your cursor comes across.

(I need an awesome sign off phrase but can’t think of one clever enough.)

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Saint Anything, and Who’s Your Favorite Superhero?

I read two books this week…plus more comics than I can say without admitting I might need help.  So this post is coming to you in three parts.

First, as I mentioned last Tuesday, the new Sarah Dessen, Saint Anything, came out two days ago.  I happened to be awake at five am and decided to head to Walmart to get it.  I started it when I got home at 5:30.  I slept about another hour and a half, went to work for four, and had tutoring for one, and I was still done with the book before 8 that night.

Now, my favorite Sarah Dessen book (and book period) is always going to be The Truth About Forever, but this one, Saint Anything, may be the best she’s written to date (objectively).  This exploration of cause and effect, the evolution of relationships (romantic, familial, AND friendly), and learning to show others who you are when you’re still working it out yourself is powerful, to say the least.  It’s also beautifully written with lovable characters and strong, real emotions.

In short, I loved it…like I love every Sarah Dessen novel.  But this one felt stronger and more substantial than even my favorites.  It is her twelfth book, and I believe we’ll discover, with every book that comes after, that apparently you can improve on perfection.

Of course, as this book came out only this week, it didn’t meet the requirement I set for my book challenge that it be a book I got before the end of last year.  So the book I’ve read that is actually going to check off an item is Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.  My best friend bought it for me as a graduation gift, and I’ve been reading a little bit of it before I start writing hour every day.  It’s going to count as the book originally written in another language, German.  It’s been very inspiring (as Em hoped it would be) and encouraged me to continue my creative endeavors.

Book Challenge

And, finally…yes, I’ve been reading a lot of comic books.  Mostly female superheroes: Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel, and, my favorite, Captain Marvel.  I also just started Lumberjanes, which is a completely different thing but I’m liking from page one.

Who’s your favorite superhero?  And, if you read comics, what do you suggest I read next?

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My Misadventures with Networking

I HATE networking.  I’m such an introvert with mild social anxieties and it’s hard enough for me to keep up with people my age that I like.  So talking to people that I’ve never met who might have the power to help me professionally is very stressful for me.

Yet, somehow, I ended up with two networking meetings on Friday.

I woke up at seven, had a quick shower, and went downstairs for breakfast and to help Mom with the kids for a little while.  I put on my make up and my nice black skirt and my favorite pink button down that I’ve had since senior year (of high school) and went out to the car.

“Did you get my parking pass?” Mom asked.

“I’m about to.”

Of course, I got distracted by the fact that my wallet wasn’t in my car and had to go back in.

“Did you get the parking pass?”

“I’ll get it when I go back out.”

The good news was that the hotel where I had my first meeting was very easy to find.  The bad news was that I got there a half hour early and suddenly realized I hadn’t grabbed the parking pass.

So the first meeting happened, it was fine, I got coffee.  And since I had two hours before my next one, I figured I could actually go home and get the parking pass.  Of course, driving down the road I spill the coffee all over my nice pink shirt, so now I have two reasons to go home.

I get home, I change quickly, I grab the pass, and I head back to my second meeting.  Getting into the car, though, I hear a rip.

I figure…it probably isn’t that bad.  Plus, it doesn’t matter how bad it is.  I don’t have any other “professional” bottoms, and the black jeans I sometimes use as a substitute are dirty.

So I went into my second meeting with my skirt split up the back.  It was kind of awful.

So yes.  I hate networking.  I mean, I guess it was fine.  And I know it’s necessary.  And I really, truly, desperately wish I had done more of it in college and while I was at Disney.  But there are a lot of factors and I’m bad at all of them.

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