Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday's Awkward First Relationship

As I mentioned last week, I did in fact date a nice chap named Takeshi. I was, at the time, a bit of a manga geek. I still like manga mind, but back then, I spent more time and money on it than I even have these days. And for a girl like me, a Japanese boyfriend was a dream.

Takeshi and I met through his sister, who I met through her girlfriend's sister, who lived in New York. Our relationship was not really a romantic one. We were good friends; we shared a lot of interests and a lot of beliefs, some less... well-respected than others. But there was never any romance. Frankly, neither of us were each other's type. He wasn't much of a chubby chaser, but I made up for it in spades. For perspective, I'm a chubby girl, but my fiance is twice my size and several inches - 7 or 8 - taller than I am. Takeshi was my height, arguably an inch shorter, and a stick. Also, he had a rather male 'friend' on the side. A lovely chap, by the way. I probably talk to Masashi more than I do with Takeshi these days.

But we were 'together', because it benefited us both. I had a lot of issues with my body at the time, and though he was hardly attracted to me, just having a boyfriend made me feel better about myself. And a pretty Japanese one? In my sort of group? I wasn't going to complain. He, oppositely, wanted a girlfriend who wouldn't mind anything on the side and he could say was there if anyone (his parents or friends, namely) asked.

We didn't see each other often, as you might imagine. I was in high school, he was in Japan, and though he did travel a lot, the few instances we saw each other in NYC or at some event around the coast were few and far between. Once a year was the average. We exchanged gifts - I helped him get a puppy, he got me Swiss chocolates (some of you are perhaps already crying over the thought of me giving him up, I know) - and we even had... relations... on a couple of occasions. But once I went to college, and he moved to Switzerland, we both decided it would be best to break it off.

He took a flight out to Vancouver and we had a nice date, the first proper one we'd ever had in fact. Dinner and a show, a night together without his friends (a rarity for us), and some chocolates. And we broke up. He lived with Masashi and another close friend in Switzerland and really didn't need the excuse, and I had no friends to impress and was feeling more confident with myself even as I grew less happy with everything else. We stayed in touch (and yes, he still sent me chocolate, he ended up owning the store he worked at!), though we haven't spoken much recently. His brother died earlier this year, and though he was never close, I think it hit him hard. The next man I started dating was Al, my now-fiance. I guess that's a bit weird, eh?

I still talk from time to time with Yuriko, too, though far rarer than even Takeshi. I mostly keep in touch with Dessie and Masashi; it's kind of odd how distant it has all gotten, though. We were always distant in terms of spacial relations, but two, three years ago? I was talking to each of them daily. Then again, I guess that is the same with all of my friends from high school. Aside from Carina (my Bowling Green friend), the most I ever talk to even my closest of friends from high school are the occasional reblog on tumblr or a 'like' and rare comment on Facebook.

Nostalgia's overcoming me again, I guess. I really need to make more friends out here, but over the years, admittedly it has been hard. Since 10th grade, really, the only friends I've made are friends-of-friends. I only made 3 friends since I moved here, and one of them is already out of Vancouver and another is my to-be husband. I guess it is just kind of weird to think about. At 15, I was outgoing and had more friends than I could name and was openly dating not just a foreign guy, but a man seven years my senior. Now my closest friends are all online, and I still only talk to my RL friends on Facebook or Skype. I sometimes wish I was an outsider looking in, just to see what really happened during the years.

I'm not unhappy, mind. I like my life as it is, and having met Al, I can't remember a time when I was happier. But it's interesting to see how I have changed. I guess this is now way less about Takeshi and more introspective. Oh well. :P I title these things before I write them, so... yeah.

As an aside, the movie rental store near us was having a Buy One, Get Two free sale. We got Inception, Sharktopus, Let Me In, Dorian Gray, The Other Guys, and Fantasia, as well as Bayonetta, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Wii; oh yes, I know it's bad), Splinter Cell, Metroid Other M, Silent Hill Homecoming, and Two Worlds II. And I am getting a new laptop. My Macbook - which I've had for about three years - overheats at the slightest provocation and the keys are falling out. I managed to get a Lenovo W series (great keyboards, great memory, just what I need) for $1,500 less than it was meant to be. Still about that much, but hey, it is a laptop, after all. Probably a grand less than a new Macbook would have cost me.

Monday, May 30, 2011

How Monday's Sister Came to Be

Hello, girls! It’s Monday!

It’s gonna be a short entry from me today (maybe. We’ll see) because I’m about to head out to my local park and complete a challenge (See yesterday's post for my thoughts on Christina's punishment)!

I highly enjoyed reading everyone’s lies, especially seeing the truths that remained within those lies. Often those truths were twice as fascinating as anything else . . .

But for my just another blog entry, I feel like I owe some explanation of Kate. See, I didn’t make up anything about Kate for last week’s post. I’ve had an imaginary older sister for going on five years now. Kate was conceived in the fall of 2003, and came into fully realized being some three years later. It started like this:

My mother, as I have mentioned, is a minister, and as one of a handful of local ministers for my school district, she was periodically invited to speak at the meetings of my school’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). She did the program for one such meeting the fall of my sophomore year. She’d found a story she wanted to tell, and that’s precisely what she did.

She introduced and then told a first-person narrative about a woman and her daughter, Katherine. I don’t remember much about the story beyond the fact that the Katherine in it was grown with two children, estranged from her mother, and loved sunflowers (I have a feeling the sunflowers were important to the overall point).

Well, somehow the people at my school missed that this was a story Mom had found and told in first person, and they instead believed that the story was a personal story, and so for the rest of the day, I had classmates asking me why they’d never heard about my sister and how they’d always thought there were just the three of us siblings.

Early in the day I would laugh and patiently explain that, no, I didn’t have an older sister, it had been a story. But as the day wore on, I finally got tired of explaining, and so I just started saying, “Oh, Kate? Yeah, she’s been around forever. She lives in Kansas, and she’s got two kids – Jeremy and Jessica, cutest little buggers you’ll ever meet. She graduated before we moved here.” And people believed me. That’s the astounding part in all this. People who had known me and my family for six years suddenly believed I had an older sister and a niece and nephew I’d just never talked about before.

The story died down over the weekend, and I’ll admit. I kinda forgot about Kate until my first semester of college. Somehow, I’d never mentioned the incident to my older brother, but during fall break of my freshman year, Kate somehow came up, and Matthew wanted an explanation. I told him the story, he thought it was hilarious, and, long story short, Kate was born that night. We discussed details of her life and family all through dinner, giving her a husband (Ken Murdoch. He’s an accountant, but he plays jazz saxophone on Wednesday nights) and a birthday (Leap Day, 1980, which is, unfortunately, two years before my parents got married . . .) and an occupation (high school English teacher who also directs plays). Her kids got firmed up ages and personalities, her high school got a name, and as soon as we got home that night, we made her a Facebook page. Which, now that I think about it, needs to be updated . . .

Jillian, Kate’s youngest, came about because the first of my generation of existent grandkids got married three years ago, and we needed a reason why she couldn’t go to the wedding. The family is moving this summer for the same reason. We’re not sure what’s going to happen when one of us siblings gets married; some huge and unexpected event, no doubt.

So, yeah. That’s Kate. It’s just like any other sibling relationship, really. We can’t keep track of her kids’ birthdays or how old they are, and we’re always forgetting her anniversary (which is actually in about a week, now that I mention it). Matthew and I are kind of collaboratively in charge of her and of deciding things about her life, and when she writes notes on Facebook, it’s one or the other of us pulling the strings. We intend, one day, to write her biography, to be called My Life as an Imaginary Sibling. We like to wait until people have gotten to know us for awhile and then casually drop Kate into conversation and see what happens.

I told you I was from a family of storytellers.

Monday out.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 12: Just Another Blog

It's just another blog week! Question to consider: What's on your mind?

Also, as a reminder, next week is Challenge Week, so I hope you're all thinking hard about how you plan on completing Carlyn's challenge.

Christina, I am inclined to acquiesce to your request, as the same anxiety plagues me. I think punishments should possibly be ever so slightly embarrassing, but nothing that causes real discomfort. Girls? What do you think?

Friday, May 27, 2011

What Friday hasn't told you about the time she met Daniel Radcliffe

I want to second what Carlyn said, I really like our blog too!

I also wanted to briefly discuss punishments... I don't want to be difficult/lame/evade punishment, but where do we stand on our ability to veto a punishment? I'm speaking in terms of if they make someone really uncomfortable/anxious/panicked. Specifically (for me) the idea of handing out things to strangers who didn't already ask for whatever it is I'm handing out... just the thought of it gives me a slight anxiety attack. I had to do that once for a psychology class (an in-class experiment) and I just froze up in a state of panic and someone else had to do it... :/ I don't want to wiggle my way out of a punishment by any means, but just the thought of doing something involving strangers makes me nauseous. I feel bad requesting this though, so perhaps whatever you have me do will just be super embarrassing, ridiculous, or something along those lines.

Anyway, onto more fun topics: all your stories have been really fun to read! I hope you enjoy mine as well. :) (I'll also be using asterisks like you guys did.)

Today I'd like to tell everyone about the day I spent with Daniel Radcliffe. I believe I've mentioned before that I went to the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park with some of my best friends on June 18, 2010*. Well, I was not entirely upfront about the events of that day. We arrived at the theme park at the early hour of 5 pm, just as the sun was rising*. The air was already heavy with humidity, as is the case with Florida summers. There were probably about 100 people there with us as we waited at the main gates and we ended up being let into the park two hours before their official opening time*. They rounded us into the amphitheater at the back of the park, right next to where WWoHP had been built and we waited there for about half an hour, when they then led us into the park (!!!) to be in the background of the Today show as they interviewed the cast*. Well, flash forward a little bit, we watched the interview and then were escorted back out of the park to wait at the entrance for the grand opening ceremony, when fireworks would go off and they'd pull down the big banner*. At 9 am we finally got to officially enter the park, go on the rides, eat at The Three Broomsticks, drink Butterbeer, in general- enjoy ourselves, which we did!*

It was around 11 am that my day took an odd, but exciting, turn. While attempting to find the ATM, I took a wrong turn down an alley which ended up leading to the "behind the scenes" area of the park. I got all turned around, couldn't find my way out, and ended up taking a door which I thought would lead back to Hogsmeade. I instead ended up in a back room with a sofa and bowls of snacks set up, I briefly wondered who they were for*, but was quickly distracted by the bathroom right across the room. Past the point of caring whose bathroom it was, I used it. After getting that over with, I was free to look around and wonder where exactly I was. I was standing in the middle of the room, looking around with a confused look on my face, when I heard someone approaching up the hallway. I didn't have any time to move when the person arrived in the room.... and it was Daniel Radcliffe. I was in his makeshift dressing room. He froze and looked at me in a confused "should I be afraid, are you crazy?" way and I froze and looked at him in a "I'm completely mortified, but also really excited" way. After an awkward pause, I explained in a shaky, nervous voice that I'd gotten lost and was so embarrassed and sorry and would leave now. He was so nice though, he introduced himself and we talked a bit about the crazy day and how much fun the park was. After about half an hour I got a call from my friends wondering where I was and if the Deatheaters had gotten me. I hadn't realized that half an hour had already gone by and I told them I'd be back to meet them soon. This isn't some story of a clandestine meeting with my favorite actor in which we suddenly fall in love and promise to see each other again as soon as possible. I just thanked him for being so nice and said that I enjoyed talking with him, asked for a picture with him (he obliged) and then headed off to find my friends and enjoy the rest of the park. It was all so crazy and exciting, but also just... normal.

I'm going to be in NYC this summer to see him in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and I'm hoping to run into him again to say hello, we'll see if he recognizes me!

And that's the story of how I met Daniel Radcliffe!**

**Please don't sue me Dan, everyone here knows it's not completely true!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday is really tired...zzzzzz

Well you guys, it's about time I made a confession. I have narcolepsy. You see, sometimes, I will be writing, or studying Arabic, or talking to somebody, when all of the sudden uhesafihurh

Sorry about that, my head hit the keyboard. I normally edit over that, but since I'm telling all of you the truth, I figured that I wouldn't need to hide it anymore. But you see, this is why it takes so long for me to post my blogs, because I keep falling eoajodkja asleep, which significantly alters my ability to complete any task in a timely manner.

Now that you are made aware of my problem, I hope that you will be understanding, and I hope that this won't change the way you feel about me in any way. Gosh, it feels so good to clear the air and tell you about this. Maybe if I'm not so stressed from keeping it secret, I won't succumb to sleep as odaejjojsd often.

I've got to go take my meds, so I will see you again next kldajojeo Thursday.*

*I actually do feel pretty tired most of the time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday is honored and grateful that you have invited her to your home on the wedding day of your daughter.

I really like our blog project, y’all.

Casey: I agree with your soapbox. In my own mind, there exists a world wherein all people are allowed to marry whomever they want. It’s always jarring when I’m forced to realize that this is not actually the case.

Christina: Hm… a punishment… I think Cassie has a great idea with the challenge. I also commend your choice of soapbox. I’m undecided on the subject of drug legalization (apart from marijuana—I think it’s rather silly that it is illegal), but if hard drugs were legal, it would make them much safer. I additionally enjoyed reading the discussion in the comments section! Also, that poor monkey… I can’t tell whether its face indicates happiness, good training, or complete hysteria.

Cassie: Kate sounds like quite the sister! I hope someday she gets to write a guest post or something. There’s another topic idea: Writing a “guest post” as someone else. Or perhaps actually getting someone else to write your post for the week. Or perhaps both.

Alexandra: I love your lie. Well crafted! The true parts fit seamlessly into the untruths. Awesome.

And now I will tell you the story of how I worked for the Mafia,* using asterisks just as others have.

It all started when I was 16, just after I got my driver’s license.* I was driving my Lamborghini down the street (it had been a gift from my grandmother when she decided she wanted a yellow one instead of a red one) when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an elephant stampeded (can a single elephant stampede alone?) out of the forest by the side of the road.** Of course, I had graduated from strategic driving class not long ago, so I was able to get away, high-speed-chase style. But then I hit a telephone pole.

So I had all these car repairs that I had to pay for. To pay for them, I needed a job. The only job I was able to get was working as a banquet server for a local party center*… which was owned by a Mafia family.*

Everything was going swimmingly with my new job. I was serving salads, entrées, and desserts with customary Italian gusto (though I am not very Italian*), and being appreciated by all the guests and our maitre d’, whose name was Evil.*

And then one day, the banquet center was the site of the marriage of a mob princess* and a tiny shrimp of a man who disappeared into his sizable new wife during their first dance as a married couple. The robust maid of honor gave a lengthy speech about how she and Princess had met during school; the pint-sized best man avoided public speech altogether and cowered next to his diminuitive friend the groom. It was all quite lovely.

At this point, with six months on the job, I was one of the most tenured servers on staff. (The turnover was astronomical; some servers were never seen or heard from again.) Therefore, I was given the responsibility of serving dessert to the parents of the bride. As I inched toward their corner table, squinting my eyes against the dense aromatic fog of cigar smoke, the soundtrack from the Godfather started playing over the sound system.* Faces began to emerge from the smog, most of them mustacchio’ed and cigar-stuck. One by one, the faces, previously celebratory (if not jovial), each took one look at my pallid mug and turned decidedly displeased (though that could have been just my internal terror speaking). I not-too-hastily dropped each slice of cheesecake down in front of its new master and, through shortened breath and a cold sweat, made for the hills.

I was never seen or heard from again.

* True
** My hometown was truly the site of an elephant escape once when I was growing up. A circus came to town every year, and during one fateful tour, a zebra headbutted an audience member and an elephant escaped (and walked right in front of the car I was riding in with my father). I kid you not. The circus didn’t come back the next year.

Looking forward to the rest of the lies!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday's Day in Athens

I'm in a bit of a rush, so I'll respond quickly to the gay rights point. :) Obviously I support it highly, and whenever I see someone cite the Bible, I will flat out tell them I won't accept that argument until they start wearing 100% cotton and refusing to shave. The 'pick and choose' attitude just seems contrary, both on the outside and on the inside. If you genuinely believe that, say, Leviticus is a holy text, why would you arbitrarily abandon half of it?

Ah well, I guess it's time to tell my story.

During high school, I on-and-off dated a man named Takeshi Takahashi*. I had met him through a girl I knew online, in a convoluted series of who-lives-where. Takeshi and his sister Yuriko* were born in Japan, Takeshi remained there for his education (for 8 years without even a bachelor's degree to speak of!*; and yes, he was 23 when I was 16*, deal with it) while Yuriko (about my age) went to England for school. She met a lovely woman named Nicole and the two began dating just out of secondary school. For further convolutions sake, Nicole's sister was attending school in New York*, where I lived. It was quite the international group, particularly once I moved to Vancouver. Soon after, I got the wedding invitation.*

Takeshi and I were no longer 'dating'* (it was 90% long distance, so to call it dating was perhaps a stretch), but for the sake of appearances, we flew into Athens together from Quebec City. Athens is a gorgeous city, and the art history major in me almost did not want to go to the event. That said, once it came time for dinner, I realized I'd prefer the Japanese-Greek fusion to pure Greek. Goat cheese and I have never mixed.*

It was a very small affair, truth be told, to the point where I was surprised I was invited. The family of the "brides", a few friends and friends of friends, maybe 30 people in total had attended. This was the first time I got to meet a lot of his family, as well. Kiba (RIP*) and Mitsuko, his younger brother and older sister, were the ones I was most interested to meet; I had heard great things, and needless to say, they lived up to my expectations. I wish I was still in touch with Mitsuko, in particular. I think we could have been good friends. I was also... 'lucky' enough to meet his grandfather, who was a German soldier during the war*. I didn't say much beyond 'hello' to him. I met some of Nicole and Dessie's family, as well, though only briefly. Overall, they seemed nice, though some seemed put off by the expense at a 'fake' wedding (as it was strictly a ceremony; the legal aspect was taken care of in England).

The blend of the two cultures was the most interesting part of the wedding, for me. A Greek wedding and a Japanese wedding could not be more different, and the mix of garb and gourmet alone made it jarring. The ceremony was performed in Greek, a language I can't speak a lick of (though I do know that ophis is snake*, at least in Ancient Greek), but I caught a few words I could put together. God, love, the very basics. I am sure it was lovely, all the same.

The party was a standard affair, all things considered. A big cake and fine dining, a bit of music and a bit more liquor. Takeshi and I mostly sat together at our table and caught up on things, occasionally stopping to talk with a relative or friend. We spent another two days in Athens before returning to our respective countries (by now, Takeshi was living in Switzerland*). It was good to see a friend get married; the two of them are still happily together* and though I was not fond of the affair at the time, I look back at it fondly now as I prepare for my own wedding. And it was great to knock another country off of the list 'to visit'.

For those interested, the asterisked points are true.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday would like to tell you about her sister.

Hello, girls! It's Monday! I hope you are all as excited for this week as I am. I do occasionally worry about that, as I am well aware that many of the things that sound fun to me do not necessarily sound fun to others. So, if you hate the theme this week, please be forthright, and I will get back to choosing themes that you, too, can be excited by!

Alexandra: I agree with your soapbox completely. Love is love, and as long as it's healthy and doesn't cross into obsession, who are we as a society to term certain kinds "right" or "wrong"? I hadn't thought too much before about polyamorous relationships beyond what little I knew about Mormonism, but I appreciate the way you made me think!

Carlyn: Interesting challenge . . . I look forward to seeing what it yields.

Casey: I also completely agree with your soapbox. I especially like your point about all sins being equal. My biggest argument with the religious side of the issue is that the Biblical mention against homosexuality is right in the middle of a whole bunch of religious "rules" that no one really follows anymore. It's the "choosing which verses actually help my side and ignoring all the rest" mentality that really gets me.

Christina: Punishment, punishment . . . I feel like your punishment should tack onto Carlyn's challenge. Like, a certain amount of time that you spend in public doing something you wouldn't normally do has to consist of giving away free poems to passerby or something along those lines. Girls? What say you?

And now for the lying. I have not yet begun to lie to you. I will begin to do so now.

I am one of four siblings. I have two brothers* and one sister. My older sister is the oldest of the four of us, and something of an enigma. Her name is Katherine, but we've always called her Kate. I'd post a picture for you, but very few pictures of my sister actually exist. She's horrifically camera-shy and won't let anyone take a photograph of her.

She was also born on Leap Day, February 29, 1980, to be precise, which makes her either 31 or seven and three-quarters, depending on how you do the math. She says that being born on such an interesting day is the only thing that makes up for the fact that she was born in February, which she hates as much as I do.**

You may have noticed that there's a bit of an age gap between Kate and Matthew. Not a huge one, but about four and a half years, which makes her eight years older than I am and a full eleven older than Jeffrey. She graduated from high school before we moved to the place where my parents live now, which meant that she barely got to know any of our friends in that town. To them, it was like she didn't even exist! I'm sure they must have thought that more than once.

Nowadays, Kate lives in Kansas with her husband Ken and their three children. Kate and Ken got married straight out of high school, and their oldest, Jeremy, was born a year and a half later, in 2000. He's turning eleven this year, and I'm not at all ready for it. Their middle child, Jessica, was eight in April, and their youngest, Jillian, will be three in August. They've grown up so quickly! Jeremy is a kid after my own heart, fully immersed in the theatre and auditioning for everything he can. He's playing Wally in a production of Our Town in about a month, and he couldn't be more excited. Jessica is not at all interested in the theatre, however. She's been enrolled in gymnastics for the past few years, and she loves it. She plans on competing in the Olympics someday, if she doesn't become the world's youngest tornado chaser first! Jillian's still too young for her interests to have started emerging just yet, but she's apparently become a huge fan of Jessie from Toy Story.

I say they live in Kansas, which is currently true, but won't be in about two months. Ken's been transferred, and so the family is moving to New Hampshire in July, unfortunately, right around the time our cousin is getting married***, so they won't be able to attend. We'll miss them, of course, but that's how it goes sometimes. It's a shame, really, because they missed our other cousin's wedding three years ago because of Jillian's birth. But we know they'll be wishing everyone well.

As for what Kate does, she's a high school English teacher, and she also runs the drama program at her high school. She also just found a teaching job in New Hampshire, so she's very excited about that. She's sad to leave her students, of course, but she knows this is a new opportunity.

Even though I rarely get to see Kate, I would say I'm still pretty close to my sister. I know her very well, and I seem to know her big news almost before it happens! We keep in touch on Facebook (she has a Facebook, by the way), and while it's not an ideal situation, we do the best we can. We'll always be sisters, after all, no matter what else might happen.

It's strange. Everyone always seems surprised to learn about my sister, usually because they've never met her. But I talk about her all the time, and most people who meet me and become friends with me hear about her pretty quickly.**** Which is why I thought it was high time I introduced her to you!

 Alexandra, I'll see you tomorrow.

* Actually, that's true. Matthew is older; Jeffrey is younger.
** Another truth. I loath February.
*** That’s true, too. My cousin is getting married in July. I’ll be in Seattle for a week, and I can’t wait!
**** Perhaps the truest statement in this post.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week 11: The Week of Elaborate Lying

All right, girls, after the heaviness of last week's topics, I think we need something a little more fun (Or at least, I think it will be fun. Hopefully you think so, too).  Let's put our creative storytelling powers to the test. This week, let's do some elaborate lying.

Spin us a completely false story about yourself. A moment from your childhood that never actually happened, a truth about your current self that is completely off the mark, anything you want, really. There can be seeds of truth within the lie, of course, but overall, we should see five complete and utter falsehoods this week.

Have fun!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's my body and I'll do what I want

Hello again!

So first off, orders of business. I agree that Casey shouldn't have to complete a punishment because of blogger's glitches. Alas, the only punishment next week will be mine.

Casey: I completely agree with your soapbox. I was actually going to write about gay marriage as well, but I think you wrote about it in a much more eloquent way than I could have. And you had facts! So, I think you covered it well and it suffices to say that I completely agree.

Carlyn: Interesting challenge! Finding time to do the challenge should be pretty easy seeing as I'm living alone this summer (or at least until my absent roommate finds a subletter), it's the doing-something-I-wouldn't-normally-do that I'll have to think about some more... hmmmm.

Alexandra: I really appreciated your soapbox topic because it made me realize that, even as someone who proudly supports equal rights for all, I hadn't given much thought to the marriage rights of polygamists and polyamorists. I'm quite ashamed that I hadn't thought about it and I think you made very good points that I agree with. I'll touch on this more in my soapbox topic, but I don't think the government has any place to tell us what to do in our private lives and with our bodies. If they can't tell us where to live and where to work, then why can they tell us who we can marry?

Cassie: While reading your soapbox topic I kept being reminded of Harry Potter. Let me explain. It seems that in children's literature (Harry Potter being at the forefront of my mind) that children are much more able than in real life. However, this isn't actually the case! I don't think it's that children are able to accomplish more in fictional works than in real life, it's simply that we are not as cognizant of their abilities in real life, less willing to acknowledge their capacity to influence the world despite their young age. Great topic!

As for my topic? I debated about this for awhile. I initially was going to write about gay rights, but like I said above, I think Casey did a great job talking about it and there's not much else I would add to her argument. I was then going to talk about animal rights, specifically the fad of pets as accessories, which angers and disgusts me. I saw this picture online today, of the monkey from The Hangover at the premiere for The Hangover II, and it made me want to hurl stones and obscenities at whoever thought to do this:

What. The. Fuck. What were they thinking?? That is a monkey! A wild animal! It's not some fun toy there for your amusement, for you to put in a dress and parade around to publicize your movie! Just... Fuck you whoever thought of that and fuck you whoever OKed it!! That is NOT okay.

Okay, so I guess I actually have two soapboxes now that I think about it. The monkey-not-a-toy one being the first, and my second being governmental control of personal rights. Many people are up in arms over Ron Paul's opinion on heroin and prostitution. You see, he believes that both should be legalized. Well, I agree with him. I don't believe that the government should have the ability to tell us, first off, what we can and cannot do with our bodies. If I wanted (which, for the record, I don't) to have sex with people for money, I should be able to. It's MY BODY. I should be able to make money with it however I choose to (as long as I do not harm others), not just by using it to flip burgers or make a latte, but also by providing sexual services. Legalizing prostitution would, of course, also make it healthier for both the customers and the prostitutes themselves, but that is not my main argument at the moment. My argument here is that the government is telling us what we can and cannot do with our own bodies when they really should have no right to do so. As for Ron Paul's support for the legalization of heroin, I also agree. If a person, knowledgeable about heroin's effects and associated health risks, wants to use the drug in their own home, let them. My opinion on this is not focused solely on heroin, but on all drugs. Marijuana, cocaine, LSD... if someone wants to use these drugs without harming other people, why shouldn't they be able to? It's not the government's place to babysit its people, telling them what's good and bad for them and not letting them have their dessert until they've finished supper. If someone wants to have that cake before finishing their spaghetti, that's their decision and they can deal with the consequences of their own decision. As long as eating that cake doesn't somehow affect another person against their will, there shouldn't be a problem. As with prostitution, legalizing drugs would make the drug industry much safer. There would be health guidelines for the drugs, people would know what they were getting, drugs would be taxable (thus helping out the government), etc. However, for this soapbox I'm focusing on the "It's my life and I'll do what I want as long as I don't hurt anyone else!" side. People who know me might find this stance a bit odd seeing as I have never done any drugs and do not plan on it, but there you go. Just because I don't want to do drugs doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to, and the same goes for all of you!

Edit: Discussion in the comments has brought up some good points, so I wanted to edit some things in here. I said this in the comments, but I'm putting it here too for neatness and accessibility: "I also want to clarify some things that I didn’t state outright in my post. Legalized drugs would still have a minimum age limit (personally, I think 18 would be appropriate, but others might prefer 21). Proper licensing would be necessary in order to make and sell drugs. Drug sellers as they are now would not be able to just go about their business as usual; they would need to submit to inspection, meet guidelines, apply for the proper licenses, etc. Just as you can’t sell liquor without a liquor license, you wouldn’t be able to just go out and sell marijuana for a bit of spare cash. Use of drugs and being under the influence of drugs while in public would also be illegal (similar to public intoxication). I think it goes without saying that driving while under the influence of drugs would also be illegal (as it is now)." I will also add that the argument about the highly addictive quality of drugs is one that I go back and forth on a lot as a reason to keep hard drugs illegal. Yes, they can be harmful, but if someone is fully aware of the risks and still wants to use them, why shouldn't they be able to? Please go check out the comments for more discussion, I (personally) find it very interesting!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday is giving everyone a present

Hi girls,

You guys get a treat next week (in the form of a punishment)- I'm going to be posting late today. Specifically, I won't be posting until tomorrow. I ended up coming home this weekend and I'm currently hanging out with some friends. I was debating whether to spend some time here writing a full post or just hanging out and I've decided to see my friends while I can and deal with the punishment later.... so start thinking of your most evil plans! :) I have to admit, I'm almost looking forward to seeing what you think of, but I'm mostly terrified.

Talk to you all tomorrow!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Supports Gay Marriage

Hello everybody. I am surprisingly on time this week. And, I love all of your soapboxes, especially the one on polygamy. I'm the sort of person who thinks that people should be able to be left pretty much alone, so long as they aren't trying to murder each other or start nuclear wars with China (but businesses should be watched carefully because more than one person working together toward a goal equals something epic happening, and many epic things are epic failure). But this is not my soapbox, well, not exactly.

I think gay people should have the option to get married. In every state (and in every country too, for that matter). Also, once married, gay people should be granted the same rights as a traditional heterosexual couple. Also, while I may just refer to gay people, I also include lesbian, bisexual, transexual, transgender, hermaphrodite, and anybody who has human DNA and wants to marry someone else with human DNA (because as of this moment I'm still not sold on this whole bestiality issue) in this argument, because gay is the shortest catch-all term I can use, and I'm a lazy typist.

It is my understanding that as of this posting, the only states allowing gay marriage are Conneticut, Massachusets, Vermont, Iowa, and New Hampshire, as well as the District of Columbia. Three other states recognize same-sex marriage from out-of-state; these being New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland. Three others allow for civil unions with state-level spousal rights, and eight states provide some state-level spousal rights to same sex couples who are unmarried. For more information regarding same-sex marriage rights, I reccommend this website, http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/what-states-allow-gay-marriage/, which gives a brief overview of the history of gay marriage legal issues, and provides links to other sites of the same.

I will admit that I have done very little research for this post, and perhaps that makes me as ignorant as some of the bloggers who take the opposite opinion on this issue, however, I do believe that my points are valid. The major opinion against gay-marriage is that marriage is an institution between man and woman. I personally don't agree with this, as I believe that love is what makes marriage the institution that it is, not the gender of the two (or three or four or more) entering into the union together (how naive does that sound?).

I suppose I could even accept people refusing to call the union between same-sex partners marriage if, and this is a big if, these civil unions carried the exact same rights as married couples. However, this is not the case. Less than half of the states in this country, the United States of America, recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages, and of those states, only 12 of them provide the exact level of rights granted to a heterosexual marriage. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military was recently repealed (and has yet to be put in effect, but will be), which was a major step forward for gay couples, however, the new policies to be put in effect are still insufficient when compared to privileges and rights that are granted to heterosexual married couples.

I was recently given a brief over exactly what the changes in policy were going to be, and I couldn't help but notice how uneven certain policies were. For example, a service member legally married to a same sex partner cannot receive BAH (a housing allowance) with a dependent, whereas a service member with an opposite sex partner can receive that extra payment. The exception to this is if the same sex couple has a child. Also, there are a lot of deficiencies in the areas of child care and overseas care.

The Constitution states that every person has the right to pursue happiness, and I believe that marriage, for anybody regardless of gender, race, or creed, or other, should be included in this.

And for those who would like to tell me that being gay is a sin, and shouldn't be allowed at all, then I would like to tell you that, according to the Bible, God considers are sins equal, which means that being gay is just as sinful as cheating on your significant other. However, Thou shalt not be gay isn't one of the 10 Commandments.

Thus concludes my soapbox speech of the week.

Shaffer, out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Presents a Challenge!

Phew... Glad we got that glitch out of the way! Darned internets...

Awesome bucket lists, everyone! I love what such lists tell us about people.

Christina: A real elephant graveyard! And my tulip field thing sprouted (pun intended) from a visit I took to Scotland when I was 16. It was quite incredible.

Casey: I hope you liked Thor!! I've seen it twice, and it's just awesome.

Cassie: I agree with your soapbox. I'm quite new to the theater world, so I haven't seen much in the way of youth theater. But what I've seen has blown me away, and I am consistently astonished by the kids I do encounter, in whatever they do. They are amazing.

Alexandra: I also agree with your soapbox. I haven't done much reading up on polygamy (and all its iterations), beyond that which I learned in anthropology classes, but just like anything, it can be done right. People ought to have the right to love whomever they like, in whatever form they like.

My soapbox: Suicide. I'm afraid that, while my thoughts on suicide are thorough, they are not many; I won't be able to write too much. But I will do my best to convey them.

Suicide is selfish, cowardly, shortsighted, and devastating. There's not much more I can say about that. Completed suicide ruins the lives that are left. It forces loved ones to rebuild entire foundations.

But even worse than that, it reflects that the people who complete it have lost hope. That is quite literally the saddest thing I can think of. I hate that people can cause that lack of hope in others, and I hate that people's own life circumstances can cause it without outside intervention.

However, I do feel that assisted suicide is justifiable in cases of irreparable decreased quality of life.

Sorry this is so short! If I come up with anything additional, I will edit this post (and mark edits as such).

Ok! Here's my challenge, due in Week 13. I expect reports!:

Spend at least four hours by yourself in a public place. And during that time, do something you wouldn't normally do. Interpret this as you will :)

Good luck, y'all! Can't wait to see your blogs in the coming weeks and reports on the challenge :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Loves You, and You, and You, Too!

Thank you all kindly for the warm wishes. :)

@Casey, yeah, I was browsing Blogger that day and reckoned that might happen, so I say 'no punishment'; what can be expected? Though we should perhaps contact one another in the future, via Twitter or email or something, if the website isn't working. Just to be sure. Also, lol @ the Eragon movie. I'm not a fan of the books by any means, but good lord, at least they had a straight narrative. What the hell was the movie doing? Saphira just aged herself instantly and then they dallied around for a bit learning swordsmanship until they reached the Varden? There were arcs and things, and some towns they were meant to hit up. Honestly, nobody on that project was really trying. Except maybe Jeremy Irons, for some reason.

@Christina, I like the one yesterday; poetry about testicles FTW. Also, it was a good message. One I would have liked to have heard when I graduated.

Moving on, soap box time! I mentioned this when someone asked about something that ruffs our feathers, and I guess it's only fair I talk about it now. Polygamy, polyamory, and polyfidelity! Strange topic though it may seem, it is one that I have been interested in for a few years, and one that - after considering - I am amazed is still so widely regarded as 'wrong' and pretty much universally illegal. I'll start by defining a few of the above terms.

Polygamy is when one or both parties in a marriage are also married to somebody else. The classic example of this is what is often referred to as the Mormon household, somewhat inaccurately given modern Mormon practices, but nonetheless associated with them. One man, two or more wives. Of course, in a modern society, this could practically mean a woman has two or more husbands (or wives, herself, if she is bisexual), or both the man and the woman have additional spouses, not just exclusively a man with more than one wife. This is illegal just about everywhere, save a few countries that still define it as a man with two+ wives. Polyamory is basically the same thing, but without marriage. The 'base' couple may or may not be married, but none of the additional partners are married to the original pair. Finally, polyfidelity is basically the long term result of a menage a trois. Or more than three, theoretically. Everyone in that relationship is involved with one another, and more importantly, there are no lovers on the side for any participant. If there are three people in a mutual relationship who do have side relationships, then it is polyamory or polygamy.

Phew! There are other terms thrown about to define every odd possible combination of spouse, lovers, swingers, and menages, but they aren't really worth going into for the sake of this post. What we're discussing today is society's opinion on this. And, pretty widespread, the opinion is either "eww!" or "burn the witch!" It is regarded as unfaithful, at best. As though the relationship cannot be stable with additional partners, and it is only just above outright cheating (some see it as worse, like a form of cuckoldry). Others see it as perverse, damnable, and something worth jailing others for. And, as mentioned, marriages involving this are widely regarded as illegal. Sometimes even polyamory is, if the laws about extramarital 'affairs' are interpreted as such. Personally, I consider this fundamentally sick.

Relationships should, first and foremost, be built on trust and love. A polygamist who hides a second wife from the first in Baltimore, when he's off on "business trips", is a scumbag and a cheater. No question about that. A polygamist who sits his wife down and has a long conversation about the idea of having a second wife, his wife and his potential second meet and start a nice Tupperware party together, and inevitably his wife agrees to let be part of the family? He's just a guy who has two loving wives. And if the two wives get married themselves (let's be honest, by the time anyone considers legalizing polygamy, gay marriage will have long since been legal), then all the more power to them.

I won't even acknowledge religious arguments against polygamy because, yeah, separation of church and state. But I do have counterarguments for the main concerns. The first, jealousy. Any relationship has jealousy, but having your partner actually with another wo/man? That can be tough. I understand that; I, personally, would have a lot of difficulty coping with my fiance sleeping with another woman. But I am not polyamorous, and I won't judge people who can overcome those jealousy issues. Secondly, it devalues women. This, obviously, comes strictly from 'one man, two+ wives' polygamy. But that would exist, even if not the majority, in a nation that legalized polygamy. What could be done about it? What we're doing now. Women who are in a relationship where they are being ignored, neglected, and perhaps even abused? They can call the police, find a woman's shelter, or just get a divorce and go out on her own. There are always going to be cases of women in bad relationships, and the fact that there might be other women doesn't really change that unfortunate fact.

Legal issues. Two key ones. Divorce, and 'abusing the system'. Divorce is already a nightmare of custody battles and split funds. Imagine doing it between three or more people. Yeah, it would be a disaster. Child support? Does each partner have to pay it, or simply the ones who spawned the child? What if the mother never bothered to get a paternity test (if she has two husbands, why bother knowing which is the real father?), would you have to get that done? And what if some of the other partners adopted the child, legally, as often happens in second marriages of the non-polygamist sort. None of these are easy questions, but none of these are reasons to keep polygamy illegal. What if a gay couple gets a divorce and, while they were married, one of them was artificially inseminated and the other adopted the child at birth? The same issues of legality come into play, but I don't think anyone here would argue against gay marriage because of that. Similarly, 'abusing the system' is one that is pulled up for gay marriage a lot. If we legalize it, a couple of girls who are just close friends can get married for a tax deduction. That's been happening since marriage was conceived of; it's nothing new. Some have proposed a 'cap' on polygamy (three people, nine people, whatever), but once again, there is no easy answer.

It's definitely a lifestyle of the minority, and one that comes with its own unique set of baggage. But it isn't harming anybody outside of the relationship, and I certainly don't think it is a source of moral decay. It is a relationship that should be recognized by the state, just as any other between consenting adults, and keeping the people who participate in it living a life of secrecy, or else being brought into question by the law, is absurd.

Also - Embassytown, the new book by China Miéville, came out today! It's a sci-fi book about genetically engineered linguists. Don't expect to see much of me this week, eh?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Don't you dare tell Monday that they're "Just Kids"

Hello, girls! It’s Monday! And it’s a cold, wet, dreary Monday here in Northwest Ohio. I hope the weather looks better where you are!

Alexandra: I find your bucket list to be perfectly acceptable. I think there’s a difference between the future goals we have for our lives and those random things we’d just like to accomplish at some point. Good luck on your residency and on accomplishing all of your goals.

Carlyn: Yay bell choir! And really, that’s all that needs to be said.

Casey: I knew one of us would get screwed over by technology at some point. I say no punishment. In the immortal words of President Bartlet: “I always knew one day I’d get screwed by a computer.” Also, I love your head scarf!

Christina: I’m glad you enjoyed the Twilight video. I had a lot of fun working on it. To answer your question, any video with Henry in it has been a favorite of mine, especially Hank’s birthday video. That kid is utterly adorable. And I’m a huge fan of any and all of John’s Question Tuesday videos.

Also, to clarify my suggested challenge structure, not everyone needs to come up with their challenge this week. Just Carlyn. The rest of us can wait until closer to the day, as long as we post the challenge in enough time for the others to adequately prepare.

And now for my soapbox. I actually just went on this rant not too long ago. My little brother was in a theatre class where he had to interview someone and then recreate the interview, and he interviewed me about this topic because he knew I’d get interestingly heated about it. And he’s right, because anyone who knows me even a little knows what my hot topic is.

But first, a bit of background. If you don’t understand the climate, you won’t understand the rant.

I work in youth theatre. The field of youth theatre is sadly under-represented and under-valued. The prevalent attitude toward youth theatre seems to be that it’s a necessary annoyance, a good opportunity to keep kids occupied, but that it doesn’t really hold up against “legitimate” adult theatre.

This opinion angers me. This opinion angers me greatly.

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard, “Oh, that was a good job for kids,” or “For youth theatre, that wasn’t too bad,” or “It’s just a kids’ show; it’s not that important.” It drives me crazy, and what’s most infuriating is that it comes predominantly from within the theatre community. There’s this ridiculous attitude that the theatre being put on by young performers is somehow less than other kinds of theatre. And I am sick and tired of it.

I have seen and been a part of youth theatre programs that are the lifeblood of the community theatres they are a part of. The theatre I grew up in has an eight or ten show season, two of which are youth theatre productions. And the main stage shows are made up of second-rate musicals like “Gilligan’s Island” and one of any number of Nunsense sequels. The casts are made up of the same twelve people playing the same role over and over again because they’re not drawing in any new blood. And these shows are drawing half a house at best, night after night. While the youth theatre is doing the big shows, Oklahoma and Cinderella, and they’re pulling 80 to 100 kids at auditions, and they’re casting 50 to 60 of them, and selling out every night and having to add weekends to the run to accommodate the demand, and still the attitude of this theatre board is, “Oh, it’s just youth theatre.” That “just” youth theatre is what is keeping their theatre afloat and functioning, thank you very much, and to refuse to acknowledge that is the highest insult they could give.

I have directed three full length shows, taught six semester-long theatre classes, and run a summer camp program, and I have been consistently blown away not only by the talent I have encountered, but by the dedication and the drive and the passion these students have for their craft. They’re doing these shows because they want to, they want to squeeze it in among everything else that they’re doing. These young performers are just as talented, just as dedicated, and put just as much energy and hard work into their performances as adult actors do, and sometimes more, and to dismiss that work and that love out of hand is inadmissible. Do not undermine the work that these actors are doing, because they are actors, regardless of their age. They have earned that title, and I am sick and tired of dealing with people who insist on seeing that talent as the exception to the rule.

It is especially infuriating that it is the theatre professionals, these adult actors, who most often put forth this attitude, because I guarantee that at one point or another, almost all of those actors were young performers! They out of everyone should recognize the importance of youth theatre! But instead, they act like it doesn’t matter, like kids don’t have the right to have access to the kind of facilities or sets or what have you that adult actors do. Like it would be wasted on them somehow.

It is insulting, and it is condescending, and it is disrespectful. It is treating these students like they’re stupid or incapable or lesser. And I cannot stand it. I have seen my student actors overcome challenges that a lot of adult actors I know wouldn’t be able to. When I directed Cinderella, I lost two actors on final dress and opening night to illness. The adults involved were freaking out, saying I was going to have to step in or get another college student to step in and take the roles so that we could still perform. I didn’t. I took two actors from within the show and plugged them in. And both of these girls, one thirteen and one eight, took the parts that I had handed them on top of their own, and memorized the new part in a single day. And you could not tell that they hadn’t been in that part from the beginning.

These kids are not the exception to the rule. I don’t happen to have the most talented child actors in the world here in Bowling Green with me. The fact that I have worked with over 100 incredibly talented students over the four shows, six classes, and two camps I’ve done in the two years I’ve been with Horizon should show that. It’s not luck or coincidence or happenstance that our shows are as strong as they are, and it shouldn’t be chalked up to such. It’s because of the incredible amount of work and dedication and passion that these students have put into everything they’ve done, and it is our duty to recognize that. Dismissing their success as a fluke undermines everything they have done. And that is true across the board.

This soapbox is specific to youth theatre, but the rant behind it is much more broadly applicable. To paraphrase the immortal John Green, shut up and stop condescending to kids. They are not anywhere as stupid as we treat them, and that’s good, because from all accounts, we apparently think they’re pretty stupid.

They’re not. I have been working with kids since I was a kid, babysitting, teaching bible school, teaching theatre classes and camps, stage managing and directing shows. They are not stupid. Collectively, my kids are smarter than I am. I am continuously blown away by the amount of creativity that explodes out of every group I work with, far more creativity than I could ever produce on my own. They are not stupid, and they should not be treated as such.

I will never tell my kids that what they’re doing doesn’t matter because they’re just kids, or that they shouldn’t worry about doing their best, because they’re just kids. It would be the worst disservice I could ever do them. I hold my students and their productions to incredibly high standards. And they’ve met them every time.

One of the first pieces of feedback I ever got from Horizon thanked me for choosing a script that really treated the kids as mature actors, and wasn’t just a glorified pageant. My first thought was to be appalled that anyone had been doing anything else with them.

We have to start recognizing what our children are capable of. Doing anything else is dooming our future. So shut up, adults of the world, and stop condescending to your kids. Please.

*Cassie climbs down off her soapbox and walks away*

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 10: Soapboxes!

Well, folks, here it is.  Flex your fingers, prepare those strong statements, and grab the nearest box of Tide detergent, because it is time for us to get on our soapboxes and have a rant.

So, what's important to you? What do you feel the most strongly about? What will get your ire up faster than anything?

As for challenges, here's my proposal:

We plan five, one chance for each of us to challenge the other girls to some kind of project. The catch is, the challenger has to complete the challenge as well. The challenge weeks will fall as follows:

Week 13: Wednesday's challenge
Week 21: Friday's challenge
Week 29: Monday's challenge
Week 37: Tuesday's challenge
Week 45: Thursday's challenge

The order, by the way, was chosen by completely random naming of the weekdays by my roommate. So, Carlyn, issue your challenge to us this week so we can get started!

I look forward to hearing everyone's soapbox speeches!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday Has an Excuse!!!!

I did not post because blogger was down and wouldn't let me on!!!! Don't punish me!!! Please?

And now that I've plead with you, I would like to say marhaban and salaam aleikum to everyone (which is hello and peace be with you in transliterated Arabic). Today (Thursday, we're goin to pretend this is on time) was a good day. I only had a half day in class, I'm learning good Arabic, and I went and made brownies for my sick boyfriend, and we watched Game of Thrones together (which has become a weekly thing and is very enjoyable). Even better, tomorrow (that's right, Friday), there will be a mini festival of sorts called Language Day where a whole bunch of people from different languages and backgrounds put on little performances displaying their different cultures. Also, there will be food stalls set up all over with food from the different areas (I will eat a chicken kebab, and it will be delicious). There, I will also buy a beautiful black robe with golden embrodery from Morocco at a tent there (along wiht a head scarf and a bracelet-ring thing).

Sorry, you can't see the robe in this picture (from the future!).

And now, my bucket list.

1. I want to learn a foreign language. Technically, I'm already doing this, so I guess this will get checked off pretty quick.

2. I want to see the Aurora Borealis. I haven't yet, and I've wanted to ever since I read The Golden Compass (or saw Brother Bear, not sure which came first).

3. I want to meet Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, and Zooey Deschanel. I love all of these actors, and I think they would be the coolest to actually meet.

4. I want to see how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. The world will know!!

5. I want to play with penguins. Do you really need to ask why?

6. Visit an Arabic country and speak only Arabic. Hopefully, this will be possible soon :).

7. Remake Eragon. It deserves so much better than what it got. Like seriously, you're going to change the entire story and expect the fans to still enjoy it? However, I will bring back Djimon Honsou because he was so perfectly cast. But sorry Ed Speelers, you sorta can't act that good (is it strange that I still remember his name, I bet I'm the only person who does).

8. Live in a box for a year.

Well, those are all I can think of for now, though there are probably more. Now, I'm going to go see Thor in my new Morrocan robe, which is actually from Casablanca (We'll always have Paris). Peace and Penguins to you all.

The future is full of languages for Friday/Vendredi/Venerdi/Freitag...

Hopefully blogger's glitches will have worked themselves out soon! The whole internet was being a bit pissy this morning, youtube and twitter were also having some issues. You alright there, internet? You in a better mood now?

Cassie: I forgot to mention in my post last week that I watched your brother's Twilight video and really liked it! I haven't had enough free time to sit down and watch the rest, but I'm looking forward to it and I'll let you know what I think when I do.

Carlyn: I'm curious, do you want to visit an actual elephant graveyard, or the colloquial kind? Also, does the goal to sit in a tulip field in Scotland come from something specific, or is it based more on how pretty and cool that would be?

Alexandra: I'll add to the well wishes in getting your residency! Once you're married should it be relatively easy? Maybe I'm just being naive in thinking that if you're married to a Canadian citizen they wouldn't kick you out of the country. Either way, best wishes!

And now onto my bucket list! This was a really good topic this week because by complete coincidence I met up last Wednesday with a guy who lived in my dorm hall two years ago and one of the things we talked about while drinking delicious Sangria was bucket lists. I've never really spent too much time thinking about a bucket list, but I do have a few things that have been floating around in my head for awhile now and I'll start with those.

1. My main bucket list goal for quite a few years has been to learn all the languages of my ancestors. This week's topic being bucket lists, the idea has been right in the forefront of my mind and I've been putting even more effort into figuring out definitively what countries my ancestors were from. Now my mom's side of the family is easy and I've known it my whole life, her dad's side of the family is completely British (came here from England long, long ago, signature on the Declaration of Independence kind of British) and her mom's side is Swedish. My dad's dad came here from Russia with his family when he was just 4 in 1912. My dad's mom was always a mystery though; my dad didn't know what her background was and seeing as she passed away six years ago, we can't really go and ask her. I emailed my aunt yesterday, however, and she had a bit more information. Turns out my grandma's parents were from.... Russia! So I am officially half Russian (then why can I only handle 2-3 shots of vodka?). What I'm still trying to figure out is what language that side of the family spoke. I initially assumed Russian, but they were all Jewish, so it was probably Yiddish... but maybe it was both? That's what I'm trying to find out currently. Okay, that was a very longwinded way to say I want to learn Swedish and Russian and/or Yiddish before I die!

2. My second goal that I've had in mind for awhile is tied to the first: I want to visit the countries that my ancestors are from. Easy enough in theory, I just need to make it to Sweden and Russia sometime in the next 60 years or so (80 if I'm being optimistic). I would like to do it while I'm still on the younger side of life, though.

3. Related to goal number 2, I'd like to visit all seven continents. I won't be heartbroken if I don't make it to Antarctica though. ;)

4. Live abroad for an extended period of time (come next year I'll be able to cross this one off!)

5. Become completely fluent in French. This one is kind of crossed off. I don't feel comfortable saying I'm completely fluent in French now, but I'm just so close. So... almost, but not quite yet.

Now for some goals which I have little control over, but would like to do all the same:

6. I want to live to see gay marriage completely legalized with all the same rights as heterosexual marriage.

7. I want to fall in love. I've never been in love, which I'm okay with, but I'm now 22 and it would be really nice if that would happen sooner rather than later at this point... I still have yet to meet that "someone" though. And it's not like I'm putting too much effort into it right now, to be honest.

8. I want to have my children while both my parents are still alive so that they get to meet their grandchildren. And also because I can't imagine going through the whole process without my mom there.

I'm sure there are more, but they're escaping me at the moment!

As for a project, I've been trying to come up with good ideas all week and I haven't yet come up with something I really like. I'll keep thinking! A basic idea I had to build on, though, is that something Harry Potter-related would be nice to commemorate the end of this era and all that.

I also just wanted to mention John's video from today about just taking the train to Belgium on a whim. It got me even more excited for France next year, if that was possible. Like I mentioned before, Lille is right on the border of Belgium and now my head is full of daydreams in which I tell myself, like John, "I think I might just go to Belgium today." What have been you guys' favorite recent vlogbrothers videos?

Technological Glitches?

Somehow, Carlyn's Wednesday post has disappeared, and if Casey posted yesterday, it is gone as well. Did anyone delete any posts for any reason?

And now we'll see what happens to this post . . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday likes buckets!

Casey: I’m so sorry to hear about your grandfather : ( On a lighter note, your riddles are very riddle-y! I agree with Alexandra’s assessment of the second one (in a comment on your post).

Christina: Violin! Cool! We string players know where it’s at : )

Cassie: I’m glad to hear your kids did well! I wish I could have seen them. And great bucket list (since others’ assessments of our goals are important, of course).

Alexandra: I hope you get your residency!! Methinks that would make things much easier. And now that I’ve thought about it, Dean and Castiel makes more sense than a lot of potential pairings in Supernatural…

And now… my bucket list!!

-Rebuild an old car
-Visit an elephant graveyard
-Experience real, blissful, ridiculous love
-Survive the beginning of that love to see it through to the end of life
-Write a pop-up book
-Write descriptions for a catalog
-Sit in a tulip field in Scotland
-Go on a trip of all the major art museums in the world (Chicago, NYC, Louvre, etc.)
-Get or learn acupuncture
-Hold a patent
-Learn another language fluently
-Drive stick
-Experience urban exploration
√ Play in a bell choir (thanks Cassie!!!)
-Go to cosmetology school (or at least learn to cut hair)
-Visit a house with secret passageways

That’s what I’ve got so far. I add to it all the time, and I’m always doing things that I didn’t realize I’d always wanted to do until I did them (if that makes any sense??). I also only included (with a couple exceptions) items that can be completed, as opposed to constantly developed. Those are a different, more enduring kind of goals, I think, and not quite what bucket lists are intended for (mine, anyway).

I'm loving this topic. Can't wait to see the rest of folks' bucket lists!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Doesn't Really Have a Bucket List :P

Oh me and my contrariness.

I am nineteen, twenty later this year, and if there is one thing I know for sure, it is that nothing I know now and nothing that I aspire for now is guaranteed to be the case next year, five years from now, or anywhere near my - hopefully far, far away - death. For this reason, I don't think heavily about the distant future. I think about in terms of finance and practicality; I ensure that I am saving money and keeping money to pay rent and pay for groceries and pay my fiance's student loans. But thinking ahead much further than that? I don't see the point.

That in mind, I do have things that - in an abstract, and perhaps temporary sense - I would like to do at some point in the not quite imminent but likely close future. In the lack of alternative things to discuss, I shall list those.

1) Publish my novel. I've already written one - I've written loads, truthfully - but rewriting, drafting, editing, it is pretty wearing. My current project has gone farther than any before it, but it is still hard to see the end. Still, my goal is publication.

2) Go to culinary school. I would already be in culinary school if my father believed I would enjoy it; I don't necessarily think I will, but I both want certification and want to feel productive. I couldn't do university because I knew I would end up doing law or teaching and neither of those had a thing to do with what I was learning. I couldn't stand it. I love to cook, and though I doubt I'd love to learn how to cook, I'd at least feel like I was learning something worthwhile and stick with it. Also, it's only 6 months.

3) Become a Canadian resident. This one will hopefully fall through by Christmas, because if it doesn't, that could be quite troubling. I am an American - a New Yorker, to be specific - and I am marrying a wonderful Canuck as you have no doubt gathered. I am... was?... here on a student visa, but as of May 1st, I am no longer a student. I am out of UBC, and though my visa lasts me another year, I am by all rights no longer here. I am getting married before summer's end, and hopefully that will let me become a resident with little fuss, but it could be quite the pain. I don't know what I will do if I get denied residency.

4) Get a part time job. I've never worked before, not really. I've done freelance work as a magazine editor, but that was under the table pay and easy work. I know my fiance can support us, but it would be paycheck to paycheck, and I would like to have a bit of money to spare.

5) Find that darn bottle of Advil. Seriously, I have cramps and I can't find it in the medicine cabinet or the cupboards. :/

@Cassie, I like the idea of photodocumentation of a week, though I would have to go buy a camera for that. Also, every picture would be of my room, my laptop, my fiance's computer with Civ 5 opened, and the kitchen in states of increasing disarray.

@All of you, thanks for the compliments on the rings! <3

@Carlyn, At least is isn't Sam and Dean. :P

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday is not yet a harpist

Oof. It was an exhausting weekend, and I think it made me sick. Not that it was a bad weekend by any means. The four theatre classes I’ve been teaching this semester had their performances, and they pulled everything together and did really well and I’m very proud of them.

But now I’m sick and it sucks and I don’t want to move, but I hate staying on the couch all day and BLARGH.

With that out of my system, I move on to responses.

It sounds like everyone’s in favor of doing projects/challenges, so let’s tentatively schedule our first one for Week 13? Spend some time this week kicking ideas around, yes? I really like Christina’s idea about sending something around. I also like the idea of doing some kind of photodocumention of our lives – a week in pictures. Something like that. Thoughts?

Alexandra: I love the rings! Simple, elegant, classic. They’re beautiful.

Carlyn: Yay for graduating! Yay for alots! Yay for the look on your face when we announced your honorary membership! I’m so glad no one blabbed to you and that you were genuinely surprised. You deserve it.

Casey: I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather, and I’m sorry that circumstances prevent you from going to the funeral. I can only imagine how hard that must be. I’m glad you got to spend some time with your family, though. As for the riddles, I already knew the answer to number one, and thinking about number two just makes my head hurt. I’m a theatre major for a reason. :P

Christina: Read The Book Thief, read The Book Thief, read The Book Thief!!! . . . [insert the textual equivalent of “I’m sorry. Did I say that out loud?” here]. Also, congrats on graduating, and good luck on grad schools!

And now for my Bucket List.

I picked this theme because so many of us are starting new periods in our lives, and I feel as if much of our focus is on the future. So let’s talk about those things we want to do before we die. Here’s my top ten, in no particular order:

1. Publish at least once. I have so many story ideas, and I know I’m a good writer, and I want to share the stories that I have with other people. I don’t care about becoming a bestseller or making money or winning prizes. I just want to send my stories out in the world to affect other people. In the words of [title of show]: “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”

2. See the aurora borealis someplace where it will be spectacular. I’ve seen it from Ohio, just a faint green tinge in the sky, but I’d like to see the night sky alive with brilliant color.

3. Spend a month in England. I spent ten days in London two years ago, and I loved it. I loved the history and the feel and the atmosphere and all of it, but we only saw the city, and I’d like to spend some time in the country.

4. Take a spontaneous roadtrip around the country. Just leave one day without planning it, without worrying about having an agenda, just get in a car and go and see where we end up. I don’t do spontaneity well, so I’d like a reason to get better at it.

5. Learn how to play the harp. It looks like fun. I’d like to learn.

6. Direct 13 the musical. I love this show so much; it’s the perfect show for young adult actors, and it really showcases what they’re capable of and how much they can do.

7. Get John Green, Hank Green, and as many other famous vague-Harry-Potter related people that I can to add annotations to my annotated copy of Deathly Hallows.

8. Spend a summer (at least) working for a Renaissance Faire. I love Ren Faires so much, and I think working at one would be an absolute blast.

9. Be an announcer at the Academy Awards. I harbor a burning desire to say, “And the Oscar goes to . . .”

10.  Be a strong and able wife and mother. As much as I consider myself to be a strong and independent woman, I want to get married and have a family and live out that piece of the so-called “American Dream.” I want a long and happy marriage and I want kids. I love kids, and I want them, at least two. I want a happy family, the kind I had growing up.

So there you have it. Ten of the things I want to accomplish before I die. What are yours?

Week 9: Bucket Lists

No punishment for posting the theme late, right? I've been sick and away from computers for the last day.

Anyway, the theme! Bucket lists -- what's on yours? What do you want to see/accomplish before you die?

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Friday, I'm here, I'm blogging!

I can't believe it's already been two months! It's at that point where the novelty of blogging every Friday has worn off a bit, but it hasn't completely become a habit, so I keep almost forgetting to post. I dread the day when I actually forget and am subjected to a punishment, I know it will be terrible. :)

While reading your guys posts this week, I realized that I think someone asked me before what instrument I used to play in orchestra and I never answered. I played..... the violin! Wasn't the suspense worth it?

Sooo, what's up with me? Well, I graduated on Saturday! I was a lot more emotional about it than I thought I would be, though I didn't cry. I'm glad to have all the ceremonies over with, but I am sad to leave college behind. Also, the whole thing has made me realize how much I really do like school. Just a few weeks out of college and I already really want to be back in school. Crossing my fingers I get into grad school! Besides graduation, the past week has been quite uneventful. I started working full time at the Psychology lab that I've been in for the past two years. However, everyone else in the lab is in China visiting our partner lab right now, so I'm alone at work during the day. Then I get home to my apartment where, yet again, I am all alone as both my roommates went home to visit their families for a bit after graduation. The past few days have been filled with lots of tv watching and youtubing. I started seriously watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've seen a lot of it because my roommate is obsessed, but I never actually sat down and watched episodes in order, so that's my new project (in addition to finishing Firefly). Ohh, also in response to Cassie, I have been very tempted many, many times to just marathon through Firefly online, but I'm trying to watch just one a week as they're reaired so as to prolong the wonderfulness- they're almost done though, just 3 more if my count is correct.

As you guys can see, nothing of extreme interest to report this week. I am reading three books at the same time seeing as I suddenly have copious amounts of free time. I'm reading The Book Thief, Lolita, and Anansi Boys. I actually started reading Anansi Boys and The Book Thief awhile ago, but had to put them on hold when schoolwork really amped up, but I'm finishing them now! I'm not far enough into The Book Thief yet to give an opinion (though we know Cassie speaks very highly of it), but I'm about halfway through Anansi Boys now and I'm loving it. I can't wait to read more Neil Gaiman. And to see his episode of Doctor Who in about a week!

Cassie: I like the idea of having projects. What do you guys think of also doing something where we send each other things or send around one object that we all put in pictures or something like that? Like the traveling pants except.... not... and cooler.

Alexandra: Your wedding rings are so pretty! The first thing I thought when I saw them was that they look like something out of Lord of the Rings.

Carlyn: That. Alot. Is. Awesome. I also like the sound of your handmade planners. I've been searching for a better planner myself. They're surprisingly expensive! And congratulations on graduation this weekend! I'll see you on the other side next week. :P

Casey: I'm sorry about your grandpa and my thoughts are with your family. Those riddles are pretty tricky... I can't think of an answer to the second (I'll keep trying though), but as for the first riddle: one person!

Okay, I must be off because I'm supposed to pick up a friend to go to another friend's house where we're going in his hot tub! I'll see/read you on Monday, Cassie!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wait, It's Thursday again?

The weeks fly by really fast when I know that once of week I have to find the time to sit down and type something that 14 (awesome) people read (but still enought to keep me motivated!). I'm glad all of you are having mostly awesome weeks, when, alas, mine wasn't very good at all. My grandpa passed away Monday morning, and his funeral is this coming Monday. I will be unable to attend because I'm at military training and unable to get weekdays off, but I'm very fortunate to be able to go home for the weekend and see most of my family for a day or two. This will actually be the first time seeing my sisters in almost two years (just wish it was under better circumstances).

I really can't think of anything else to write about, so I think I shall leave you all with two riddles.

The First Riddle:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kittens
Kittens, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives?

The Second Riddle:

You are given a 5 gallon jug and a 3 gallon jug in front of a fountain. Measure out exactly 4 gallons of water.

Now, solve them or God kills a kitten (one of the ones belonging to the wives' sacks' cats).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday's life is alot of fun.

Hello, blogmates!

Christina: Congratulations on graduating!!

Cassie: Your bibliophilia amazes me, Wielder of the Red Pen. And I think a big project is a great idea!

Alexandra: Dean and Castiel? You have weird friends. :P And gorgeous wedding rings!! They’re amazing.

How it’s going:

This week has been a vaguely out-of-the-norm one. I guess I’ll go through the rather momentous occasions…

First of all, I switched to a new planner! I can never find any that suit my crazy-specific organizational needs, so I always make my own, always out of notebooks by designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (they used to be sold in my University bookstore, but now I have to buy them online). Every day has its own page, with times down the left side in half-hour increments starting at 9 am and going to 10 pm. Every month has its own page as well, with dates and a little grid calendar at the bottom with holiday dates written in purple and the lunar cycle written in green. Anyway, my previous planner ran out in April, so I pulled out my new one that I started hand-writing in March. It’s quite rewarding, to be just as perfectly organized as one wants. : )

Both of my fraternities had their formal dances this weekend, one the night before the other. First was Sigma Alpha Iota, an international professional women’s fraternity. The formal was pretty okay; most of my friends in my graduating class weren’t there, so it was slightly lackluster.

However, my honorary theater fraternity’s masquerade was the next night. It was one of the highlights of my year. Though I pledged this semester (yes, my last semester), I was unable to be initiated for various reasons. However, at Masque, I was made an honorary member! I cried when they announced it. I’m especially proud of this:

It is an alot. Alot of love, to be exact! A dear friend (who is also my Big) made him for me as a congratulatory gift for my honorary membership. If you don’t know what an alot is, please click this link: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html

All in all, Masque was a smashing success. I’ve gotten to spend time since then with some of the more remarkable people in the group, and I adore them quite thoroughly.

This week has been finals week. I had 1.5 finals—that is, one written French final and one oral French final, and one final paper to write. Everything was done by 10:07 yesterday. And now I am DONE. I graduate Saturday!

My mother called me the other day and said that, while my family would (of course!) be going to lunch after commencement, it didn’t seem like enough. So we’ve decided to go to the zoo, or, if it rains, the art museum. : )

For now, I’m finishing data entry for one of my psych labs and trying to feed myself on McDonalds gift cards until money should happen to re-insert itself into my life. And what a life it is!

Casey, catch ya on the flip side!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Can Never Leave Her Computer

I'll start today with a humorous anecdote about my Sunday. My internet went out, I panicked as per usual (I have an addiction and I know it, no need to stage an intervention). After fiddling with the router for about ten minutes, though, my internet had safely returned. I immediately refresh my tumblr, previously filled with images of my high school friends talking about how cute Dean and Castiel of Supernatural are together (I don't know, either), and upon refreshing, it's just a good twenty pages of "OMG OSAMA BIN LADEN DIED". Conclusion? I can't quit you, internet. I leave for ten minutes and BREAKING NEWS INSTANTLY EMERGES.

To Cassie, projects sound cool. No other comment at this time.

I don't have any real topic to discuss, honestly. I guess I can just jumble together a few random thoughts in a non-coherent fashion and let the post just fizzle out of existence. Sound good to you guys?

Those are my wedding rings. They're being fitted (hence why they are seen here on our pinkies), but there they are. I didn't really want diamonds, at first, but they were a good price, they matched, and they weren't too... gaudy, I suppose. Now I just need to get all of the paperwork done and figure out what to do with crockery, and I'm set. As an aside, I can't find a way to rent plates, forks, linens, etc. for less than $1,000. There is no politically correct way for me to express my thoughts on this issue.

I bought a Kindle in the past week. Amazon is amazing, so I didn't have time to inform you of this last week. I decided I would like one after I had made my post, and it arrived before I could make this one. I have mostly been reading public domain books, because (a) I mostly read old books, and (b) they are all free in the Kindle store. It's a big pile of win, in my humble opinion. I bought a couple of other books, too, just to test it out, and I like the kindle. It doesn't feel like a book, but it definitely reads like one, and for me, that is enough.

As per usual, I have also been writing. Maybe I should tell you guys what I write. It would probably make much more sense when I reference it again in the future if you know what the hell I am talking about. Basically, it is a high fantasy, quasi-exploration story. There is a plot, but it is low key and very character-oriented. It is about an elven king, Theodore, traveling through his kingdom with his loved ones (and sister; he only just met her), learning about the diversity of his people and the impact of the lord of the West, and his decision to either help this 'dark lord' or destroy him. It's a quiet novel, lots of character and introspection, but there isn't too much action. What action there is, though, is usually about sacrifice of some sort. The two big battles of the book have one character destroying the bond between himself and his father, and the other has my protagonist lose his arm.

I am writing this post a day in advance, by the way, as I have much to do on Tuesday and can't guarantee the time needed to get this written. I'll let this end now by saying that I'm making chicken parmesan for dinner with a new chicken recipe. My fiance is working late hours and doesn't get back until 10 for the next couple of weeks, so I guess I'll have to get used to late night dinners. :) See you soon, Carlyn.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday rambles when she's stressed . . . and talks about umbrellas a lot

So, it's a write about your life week, and I'm gonna be honest: it's been a rough week for a lot of different reasons. My fraternity's farewell masque was on Saturday and I'm moving away so there was a lot of crying involved, I had to drop out of a show I was really looking forward to working on in favor of the musical I'm directing that I'm also really looking forward to working on, my students who are supposed to perform in a week are not really ready, one of my best friends graduates and moves away on Sunday and I don't know when I'm going to see him again, and the weather has sucked recently.

But I'm not going to talk about any of that. I just needed to get it off my chest.

Also, I lied. I am going to talk a little about that. I'm going to talk about the weather. Specifically, I'm going to talk about umbrellas. Why? Because I can.  Also, because I don't think you want me to make one week Umbrella Week.

So, I don't know what the weather's been like where you all live, but around here, there's been lots of rain, lots of dreariness, and lots of flooding. Now, I don't mind rain as a general rule. Summer thunderstorms are some of my favorite weather ever. What I mind is Bowling Green rain.

Bowling Green, or Blowing Green as it is often called, is the real windy city. Forget Chicago. See, BG is flat. It's in one of the parts of Ohio that the glacier actually crossed over, so we have no natural hills to speak of, and therefore, nothing to stop the wind. The buildings on campus and downtown create wind tunnels because of this. When I lived on campus, I never owned an umbrella, for one simple reason:

BG is where umbrellas go to die.

 Seriously. Your typical, five dollar, pocket umbrellas will last you two rainstorms, maybe three if you're lucky, but after that, you're left with a bent and hopeless tangle of metal and waterproof material that is barely recognizable as having once been an umbrella. Also, even if they don't turn inside out or snap in half, they don't do much good. The rain combined with the wind means that it rains sideways here and never from the same direction for long.

Then I got my hands on one of those big, fancy umbrellas and I moved off campus. The rain falls in a more vertical direction most of the time on most of the routes I walk, and the big, fancy umbrella has held up for more than a few months now, even if it is more of a hassle to carry around when it’s not raining.

But there are days here in BG when even the best of umbrellas does no good. And one of those days was yesterday. It wasn’t raining or drizzling or sprinkling yesterday. It was misting. Misting! Like I was at Niagra Falls! My umbrella did nothing, and I was just vaguely damp most of the day, and it was decidedly unpleasant.

As I write this, I can see my boyfriend sitting up and flexing his fingers to write, “And you still want to move to the Pacific Northwest?” To which the answer, dear, as always, is yes. Yes, I do. Because while it rains a lot, it’s proper rain. Oregon is not humid, it’s green, and blue, and gorgeous, and has the perfect ratio of city to mountains to ocean. Also, Powell’s bookstore.

I’m rambling now. And I’ve spent my entire blog post talking about weather and umbrellas. So let’s wrap this up with something of substance, shall we? We just finished a month, which means I just posted a reading wrap-up on my LiveJournal, and I’ll post it here, too. Here are the books I read this month.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
* I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
* The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
* Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
East by Edith Pattou
* Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

The asterisks are the new books I read. The rereads are all worth taking a look at, especially The Crimson Thread and East if you like fairy tale retellings. And you’ve all heard The Book Thief recommendation. So, this month's new books, with my thoughts, are below.

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

This is the final installation in the Tiffany Aching series, and . . . God, I loved it. It was the perfect ending to that series. It's sad that it has to end, and clearly, he wrapped it up the way he did because of the Alzheimer's, and there's definitely a different tone to this book than to the others, but the quality of the story suffered not a bit. I highly recommend this story. Pratchett is the best kind of author, and to tell you why, I 'm going to be infuriatingly vague to avoid spoiling the series. I'll just say this: That it takes a special kind of author to set something up for three books, make all his readers anticipate that the something will happen in the fourth book, and then in the fourth book reveal that it's not going to happen while simultaneously chastising you for expecting it to happen, which makes you feel guilty for wanting it to happen, and yet continue to make you hope that, before the end, it just might happen anyway. And then, to snatch that hope away from you and have something completely different happen that, a book ago (hell, even six chapters ago), you would have been infuriated by yet somehow get you absolutely in favor of what does, eventually, happen. Takes a special kind of author. And I hate him for it. But you should all go read this quartet.

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

I picked this one up on a whim at the library, and I'm very glad I did so. A vague prophecy, mistake identities, last minute switch-ups, and a twist that even I didn't see coming make this a very fun and engaging read. Basically, a girl who has spent the first sixteen years of her life believing she was the princess suddenly finds out on her sixteenth birthday that she's not, she's just a decoy, and the real princess is on her way back, so Nalia is being sent back to the peasant family who gave her up. The book does a really good job of showing how Nalia deals with that and how difficult it is to adjust to a new life and a new identity, and O'Neal really makes us think about what kind of motivations truly drive our actions. I enjoyed this book a lot.

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

This book made my head hurt. Like, a lot. I'm not saying it wasn't good and well written and well crafted, I'm just saying that if I'd known it would include quite that much time travel, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I still don't understand half of the things that happened. It's a sci-fi/fantasy combo that actually combines both fairly well with both versions of time travel (1. You CAN change the past, 2. You can't change the past, it exists in a loop) existing side by side and sometimes even being used simultaneously. There's a good story at the core and it's very well written, but I probably won't ever pick it up again, and I'm probably not going to read the sequel it seemed to be setting up. But reading it did make me feel like I could take on pretty much any other time travel book right now because it can't possibly be as confusing as this one was.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

I really liked this book, which was exciting to me because I wasn't expecting to. Not that I was expecting it to be bad; I just thought it would be a pretty light, fluffy love story. And while it was, in the end, it also went a lot of places I wasn't expecting, and it built really strong, well developed characters and answered questions like "Who would you be if you could be anyone?" I liked and appreciated the openness of the ending, too, as well as the exploration of how romantic love doesn't have to be part of a friendship, but that friendship does need, on some level, to be a part of any romantic love that lasts. That's an idea I really buy into, and Zevin crafted it very well in this book.

Oh! And I helped my brother review Twilight over on YouTube. It’s being posted in an epic video series this week, and here’s the link to the first video, should you be interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEvVhKbU6Jc&feature=channel_video_title.

Alexandra: I think I’m gonna point people toward your post last week when they ask for someone who is more HP-obsessed than I am. I own very little in the way of memorabilia (though I do now have Neville Longbottom’s wand because my boyfriend is awesome). I want robes, but I’m unwilling to pay a hundred dollars for the ones on the theme park website when I can just sew a Ravenclaw crest onto my college graduation robe and be down with it. I would like a Ravenclaw scarf, though . . .

Carlyn: Well done on your challenge. You made Bella an extremely interesting character without her even having to speak! Or maybe because you didn’t have her speak . . . seriously, go check out what I have to say about Bella in the review that will be posted Thursday on Matt’s channel.

Casey: Firefly and Simon Tam love for the win! Simon is my favorite character, though I love them all, and his relationship with his sister is so well done. I need to actually finish enough of my fanfiction that centers around him to be worth posting somewhere.

Christina: I’m so glad you’re getting into Firefly! If you don’t want to wait to watch week by week, all of the episodes are on Hulu. But in the meantime, we will do our best to keep this blog spoiler-free. :)

And a question for all of you: How would you feel about doing some kind of big project/challenge like . . . every three months? We could decide it pretty far in advance and assign the week and be able to work toward it. But I like the idea of either challenging each other or doing so collaborative project within a collaborative project. So, what do you think?

Two months down! Read you later!

Oh! And happy 13th anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts and the Final Fall of Voldemort!