Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday has no lines on her chin.

Casey: So glad you’re back! I hope the tumult slows soon. Times like that can be quite tough.

Christina: Thanks for asking about my delightful girlfriend! I am, of course, more than happy to talk about her : ) We met (officially; we’d encountered each other a couple times before—one especially hindsight-awkward event will be outlined another time) through the theater fraternity that Cassie and I are both members of. She was my Big [read “club mentor”], and we hit it off like WHOA. She was the one who made me the Alot for our fraternity formal (written about here: I wrote that post almost exactly a month before we started dating. As of right now, we are four days shy of our three-month-iversary! She really is the most wonderful of all. Cassie can attest to this—they are best friends.

Also, excitement must be building for France! I can’t wait to hear about your travels!

Cassie: I had no idea of your fear of vampires! It makes sense, though. I don’t like doctors taking my blood, much less someone who had more sinister intentions of what to do with it… digestion, for example.

Alexandra: What a lovely video! Thanks so much for sharing! You two look so dang happy. I love it.

Also, happy almost-birthday!

Also, I’ve had some horrifying experiences with needles and poorly trained healthcare professionals before, too… it can be quite the traumatic experience indeed. I feel your pain, as it were!

Also, YOU SAW TOBUSCUS?? I’m a fan. Win. ::boulders crush competitors::

And now, on to my fears…

I’ve got your typical ones: I don’t care for spiders, I’d rather not fall to my death, I would like please to be successful in whatever field I actually choose to go into, I fear not choosing a field in time, etc. But I have another fear. One that is more… unreasonable.

Ventriloquist’s dummies.

It’s called automatonophobia, and it’s more broadly classified as the fear of anything that falsely represents a sentient being. So, like, wax museums are a no-go for me. I had the chance to go to Madame Tussaud’s in London and turned it down. Hell to the no. But farrr, far worse than wax models (which can be kind of cool, when not en masse) are those dang ventriloquist’s dummies.

Especially the ones in suits, with the bowties, and that slicked-back black hair, and those eyes that shift back and forth… and the chin lines. For the love of everything good in this world, the chin lines.

Sidenote: I’m going to have to watch a good three episodes of Dr. Who to get my mind off writing this.

Anyway. There is a story about why I have this rather odd (but I think not entirely unusual) fear.

When I was about eight, I had a Woody doll, like from Toy Story. He had a pull string and a voice box and everything. He was one of my favorite toys, and he lived in—IN—my toy chest in—IN—my closet when I wasn’t playing with him.

One morning, I woke up to “Howdy pardner! My name’s Woody. You’re my favorite deputy! Someone’s poisoned the water hole! There’s a snake in mah boot!” I looked to my closet. Sitting on top of—ON TOP OF—my toy chest was Woody. Talking. Of his own accord.

Being a relatively precocious and unsuperstitious child, I was sure it wasn’t a matter of demon possession or anything like that. And I treated my toys well, so I knew it wasn’t a revolt, like the one against Sid in the movie. It was probably just a broken voice box combined with an oversight of room cleaning. Nevertheless, I didn’t go into my room for days. I slept on the couch and had my parents get anything out of my room I needed for day-to-day living.

Oddly enough, I have no problem with Woody himself these days. I can watch the Toy Story movies with fondness and no shivers of terror. It has somehow transferred to those awful ventriloquist’s dummies, with those awful chin lines…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tuesday's First Film was Tremors

Cassie: **SPOILER** You're going to get some poorly photographed images of a newspaper folded into a hat and/or boat, a hat which does not fit my head and a boat that does not sail. I'll colour it in with crayons or something, though, so it looks pretty.

Casey: Glad to hear you're okay. :)

My mother is a horror buff. She loves horror movies, gore fests, b-movies, and other weird, disturbing, or strange cinema. I remember watching "The Shining" (Jack Nicholson) when I was young enough to still be in a playpen, my favourite film series as a child was "Nightmare on Elm Street", and even from before the early years, my love was with Jeremy Irons' Scar, from The Lion King, and Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. I grew up loving horror movies, which had something of an odd effect on me, one I've described somewhat before. A sense of nostalgia for the horrific. I look at terror and spurts of blood in the same way the rest of my generation looks back on the Rugrats. Really. And in that same way, even though I may occasionally marathon a bit of Masters of Horror, I certainly don't think of it as something I genuinely like any more (a few exceptions aside, of course). It's all just fond memories. With that in mind, I say that most of my fears are rather grounded and completely rational.

I fear my financial future, I fear that I may not be able to get Canadian residency and will be forced away from my husband, I fear that one day I may fall out of love - or worse, he may fall out of love, I fear for the health and wellness of those closest to me, and in very particular circumstances, I may fear for myself. I had a bad reaction to a bit of bleach a few months ago that I fainted from for a few moments, and was a bit blinded by for an hour or so after. I don't have a fear of bleach, or a constant paranoia about my health, but for those moments, I was afraid.

There is only one thing that makes me cringe, shudder, shrink away from. That, even as a woman of nearly 20 (as an aside, Friday is my 20th birthday!), I'll cry and shriek as it comes closer to a time when I need it. That fear... shots. Not just needles. I don't freak out at the sight of acupuncture - though I'd never do it myself all the same - nor am I going to shy away from a bit of sewing. It has to be a hypodermic needle, or hell, even a syringe. I actually recoil a bit at the site of a needleless syringe, as silly as that seems. I can, however, give even this a bit of background.

When I was six years old, I had a bit of strep throat. The problem? I didn't have a sore throat. A bit of a rash, enough to warrant a trip to the doctor's, but they couldn't figure out what it was. After a couple of weeks, though, I ended up in the school nurse's and she managed to pick it out as strep (it was going around), so I got my strep medicine and came back in a couple of days, ready to jog around the field. And... got an asthma attack. Which was odd, because nobody knew I had asthma. I had to go to the hospital after that, and that's when they figured out that my untreated strep had developed into pneumonia, which meant two months in the hospital. A lot of blood tests, the IV, and above all else, an untrained nurse and my pale, pasty skin. You see, I'm not an outdoorsy sort, and I'm a quarter-Swedish. I'm about as white as you can be, and my veins simply do not show. The newbie nurse couldn't find them, and must have stabbed me about twenty times before an older nurse stepped in and gave my arm a good squeeze to expose the veins and got it in herself. I barely remember it - hell, I barely remember lunch - but it's definitely given me quite the distaste for injections.

On a lighter note, I was at PAX this weekend - a large video game convention in Seattle. I saw Angry Joe, the Angry Video Game Nerd, the NES Punk, Toby Turner/Tobuscus, and a few others around the con. Mostly just went to panels - I've never really cared for the exhibition hall, too crowded, overpriced merch, and honestly, five minutes is not enough for me to judge a game's demo, let alone a game - and they were pretty fun, and a few informative. Many industry ones, as my husband is interested in getting into game design/programming. Not sure I'd ever want to - I like the solitary writing experience - but it was fun all the same. I did play a few games, most of them were completely terrible, but Just Dance 3? Completely entertaining. I have Dance Central or whatever it was for the Kinect, and that was good fun, but Just Dance 3 has better songs and more... unique gameplay, I suppose. The dances seem like they are more specialized for the songs being played, as opposed to being made up from a set of established moves.

Until next week! I'll be spending this week going to the PNE (a local fair/amusement park) and seeing Shark Night 3D for my birthday. Might go out for dinner, as well. Should probably get cake ingredients, too... ah, you get back from a vacation, and then there's a bunch to do.

Monday has her neck well covered, for your information

Hello, girls! It’s Monday! And I almost completely forgot that I hadn’t written a blog post yet today!

Alexandra - Thank you so much for sharing your wedding video with us! I love your outfit, and the ceremony was classy, nice and simple. I wish you and your husband much happiness. And hee hee hee! (Which was me cackling evilly and rubbing my hands together as a wicked overlord might be wont to do) Yes! A craft challenge! I look forward to seeing what comes out of it. :)

Carlyn - I hope your visit with Meghan went splendidly, and I can’t wait to hear more about grad school!

Casey - Good to hear from you! Try not to get too overwhelmed by life and school and such, yeah? Also, I love meeting people who also follow dearblankpleaseblank because that site is awesome.

Christina - Niagara Falls is amazing – just astoundingly beautiful. I highly recommend a visit if you ever get the chance. And wow! France is coming up fast, huh? Keeping track of that time change is going to be interesting for those of us carefully waiting to punish others . . . :)

Now for my fears.

My classic illogical fear is heights, and it’s also the answer guaranteed to have a wide amount of agreement (Although I feel like Terry Pratchett is tsking in my ear whenever I say that, for, as he rightly pointed out in his Tiffany Aching series, I do not actually fear heights, as I can look up at a tall building without any trouble at all. What I actually fear is depths. But for the sake of ease, I will continue to refer to my fear of heights). Now, people can tell me that the fear of heights is illogical all they want. It doesn’t make a difference. I know they’re right. I know that it is almost entirely unlikely that the balcony/observation deck/cliffside that I’m standing on is going to crumble beneath my feet and send me crashing to my death, but I actually have a very good reason for caution, and that’s that you can’t be sure that the balcony/observation deck/cliffside that I’m standing on isn’t going to crumble beneath my feet and send me crashing to my death.

I’m also not a fan of tornadoes.

As for the more abstract fears, it’s the one you’d expect from a perfectionist, really: failure, disappointing people I respect, leading a meaningless life. Things like that. Also, because there is a history of alzheimers and dementia in my family, I have a terrible fear of developing one or the other as I get older. But those fears don’t really affect my day to day life as often as one might think, and I actually deal with them better than the heights thing. I would call none of the above crippling fears.

My crippling fear is something altogether much more terrifying. I suffer from sanguivoriphobia. For those of you who enjoy breaking words down to their Latin or Greek roots and translating them to decipher meaning (and who doesn’t?), you might figure out that this fear translates roughly to “fear of blood eaters.”

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Monday is terrified of vampires.

I’m serious. It’s bad. Just the act of writing this post has me itching to find a scarf and wrap it around my neck, you know, just in case. Just thinking about them sends shivers and shudders up my spine. The first time I watched Jane Eyre, not knowing the story at all, and I got to the point where Mr. Mason is up in the tower room with bite marks on his neck and shoulder, talking about some creature who said she was going to drink all his blood, I had to stop watching because it was dark outside and I had no idea whether or not there were going to be vampires in this story, but if there were I wasn’t going to watch a movie about them alone in my dorm room after dark.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did read Twilight, and yes, it was excruciatingly difficult, especially as I got to the end, and yes, I did, in fact, finish the book with a scarf wrapped around my neck, you know, just in case. My brother keeps trying to get me to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I keep telling him it is never going to happen because hello! Vampires! It’s right there in the title. I once swore I would take any class my favorite professor offered because I loved him as a teacher so much, I said he could offer a class on the life cycles of dung beetles and I would take it. He offered a class on vampire literature. I didn’t take it. In his Sleeping Beauty class, he tricked me into reading a vampire story by telling me that “there’s a tiny bit of a vampire in it, just to warn you,” when, in fact, THE ENTIRE FREAKING STORY WAS ABOUT VAMPIRISM. I have yet to entirely forgive him for that. I will never read Dracula, let alone watch a film version of it, and even coming close to touching any part of my neck sends me into a legitimate spaz attack. You can ask my boyfriend. He’s been dealing with that for 18 months now.

*deep breath* Okay. Okay. I’m better now. I am. But I have started to freak myself out a bit, so before I go completely mental, I think I’m gonna say farewell, wrap this up, and go find a turtleneck to put on.

Alexandra, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Week 25 - Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Sorry for the lack of Theme Post yesterday -- it was crazy over here!

Our last theme from Alexandra this week -- our fears! No, sorry, we're not talking about the old Nickelodeon show. You know. Unless you were terrified of it and would like to work it in somehow.

But, no -- fears! Abstract fears, tangible fears, what do you fear?

See you later today!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just Another Friday

Casey!! I'm glad to hear you're alright! I've got to admit, I was getting worried there. It's good to have you back. :) Also, I've heard lots about My Little Pony from Kristina Horner and my interest is increasing. I'm afraid of what may happen if I check it out though...

Alexandra: Sounds like it was a good wedding! A handful of people I know (from school, college, etc) got married this past week- it was a good week for weddings, apparently.

Carlyn: It makes me happy to read about how happy you are with your girlfriend! How did you two meet? (There's a nagging thought in my head that you may have already told us and I'm just drawing a huge blank at the moment.)

Cassie: We sound very similar in the whole planning out trips thing. I've never gone on a impromptu trip (I agree that three weeks' notice is impromptu), but it sounds like it was a great experience! Especially Niagara Falls, it sounds beautiful.

Also! Before I get onto my week, I want to let you all know that I have not forgotten about my challenge! I moved out of my apartment last week and all my things were in disarray. I'm now home with my parents for a month before I move to France so things have calmed down and I'll be able to watch a horrible movie now. :) I'll check the challenge done for next Friday, okay? Okay! (I hope.)

So, JAB: This week has been very low key. I had to drive back to Ann Arbor to work Monday and Tuesday. My advisor/boss is having difficulty letting me go. I'm one of the few people in the lab who knows how to do everything- running studies, paperwork, IRB, etc. so she was not so happy when she found out that my lease was up in mid-August and I had to move. So, I'm driving in two days a week for the last two weeks of August. Next week I have two more days and then I'm done! I really like the lab, don't get me wrong, but I'm excited to move onto something else. I've been there for two years now, which really isn't that long, but given the large amounts of work we do there, it feels like longer! And also, I'm moving to France, how could I not be looking forward to that?

Speaking of which, I've started working more on the whole moving-to-France process. I have my plane ticket now (leaving September 25, coming back in December for Christmas/Hanukah, and heading back in January). I also know where I'm staying when I get to Lille and before I have an apartment! This is very exciting because up until a few days ago I was essentially homeless in France. I met some other girls on the program's facebook group and we're going to couchsurf together with a (seemingly) very cool French guy. I've exchanged messages with him for the past few days and I feel confident that he's a very nice, legitimate guy who will not harvest our organs upon our arrival.

Another part of getting ready for France is getting my work visa, which I will be accomplishing next Tuesday. I'm driving over to Chicago with my mom for my appointment at the consulate (it requires an in-person appointment) and besides procuring my visa we'll also be hitting up some museums and generally enjoying Chicago for a day. Chicago really is a great city and given its proximity (about 3-4 hours away), I've been there a surprisingly small amount of times (3... in 22 years *hangs head in shame*).

That's what I've been up to this past week! Oh, and watching more Buffy. I don't think I mentioned that before: I'm working my way through Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I started Season 5 today and my goal is to be done before I leave for France (also, I'm borrowing my old roommate's dvds, so I need to be done before then). My mom and I are going to Eastern Market tomorrow, which is this old farmers' market in downtown Detroit. It's full of fruits, vegetables, flowers, food carts... it's very nice, to sum it up. I'm excited!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday's been going through very tumultuous times.

I'm so very very very very sorry about not posting the last few weeks. I've been drowning in Arabic and one of my friends in class got dropped, so I've been trying to spend time with them before they go away forever. So...yeah. Well, I will quickly answer last week's blog by saying that I spend the majority of my time on the internet on facebook, though I also enjoy imgur, dearblankpleaseblank, stumbleupon, and xkcd (f yeah for Firefly references!). Pretty much all your time waster sites. And if any of you have Google +, you should add me so that it's no longer just me and my ex-boyfriend on there (yeah, that happened, though it wasn't so horrible so much as awkward).

But yeah...that's what I do on the internet.

However, for my JAB, I shall tell you that I'm trying my hand at Magic: The Gathering. I recently started hanging out with some pretty awesome nerds, and they were kind enough to teach me how to play, and just a few weeks later I ordered some cards and am currently working on putting together my decks. I think I'll remain a very casual player, and spend no more money on it than I've already spent, but I think it will be a good way to meet a lot of cool people and possibly boys (actually, nothing but boys. I went to a casual tournament the other week with a friend, and the guy in charge actually said that two girls entering the room was the most XX chromosome the guys there had seen there, ever).

Also, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I remember playing with the little pony toys when I was little, and I f-ing loved those things (chewing on the plastic was nice, and I liked to brush their manes), but as far as I can tell, the old show was horrible. However, a male friend of mine told me about the new show, and while I was skeptical at first, I decided to watch it. And OMFG, it is so amazing! It's made by the same people that did Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and it's every bit as great as those shows, and because they have yet to get all copyright happy, the shows are available on Youtube, along with fan made videos made of awesome (watch MLP:FiM Anthology). So please, if you aren't a brony (what the fans of the show call themselves since most of them are males ages 18-35) go watch it on youtube and become 20% cooler!



The ponies have invaded my mind.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday's chillin'

Casey: ::looks around:: Are you there? Do we need to send a search party??

Christina: A good slew of internetactivities!

Cassie: CASTLE! There’s a building that looks almost like a castle in the middle of downtown in my new city. I’m going to have to explore.

Alexandra: I can’t wait to see more pictures of the wedding! It sounds just wonderful.

So I’m all settled into my new home. I have been for a little while, but now I’m officially unpacked and started with classes. I’m three down, one to go in terms of classes, and they’re awesome so far. I think my cohort is going to be a really fun one. It’s an eclectic mix of people, and I’m really enjoying getting to know people.

As much as I am loving this new life-building experience, it’s still quite new. I miss my family, my friends, my girlfriend… it’s a bit tough. But thank goodness for technology! I still get to talk to people regularly, and I am much looking forward to a long-weekend visit from a delightful lady of mine. (She's the best thing ever, and I miss her terribly.)

In the meantime, I’m finding ways to settle in. I found a Chinese food place that delivers the best General Tso’s chicken I’ve ever eaten. There’s a smoothie place down the street that’s to die for. I’ve started hanging out with friends and opening up to them about myself and enjoying getting to know them similarly.

By this time next week, I’ll have more of an update about specific classes. This week is Syllabus and Introduction week; I’ve heard introductions from the same thirty people about four times now.

I hope everyone is enjoying life! And Casey, I hope we get to hear from you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Could Tell You About Her Wedding...

But honestly, there isn't much to say. It was good fun for a bit, but after a couple of hours, I was happy to see the limo pull up. Our commissioner, Ann, was a sweet old woman who kept the ceremony short and sweet. Both my husband and I are atheists, as are a great deal of our friends and family (you have to go back to my great-grand parents to find a theist), so we cut out any references to God, so it was basically just a bit of romantic frivolity and the official, "by British Columbian law" bits. Took about ten minutes, maybe even less, signed our forms and had our maid of honour and best man sign as witnesses, and it was done. Food was nice - Italian Culture Centre, Cupcakes (the owners of that one are on Cake Boss or something), and Benton Brothers Fine Cheese - and I got to bring Carina up to Vancouver, which was a treat. Particularly since her mum never would have let her if I weren't getting married. We also had Absinthe. It tastes a bit like licorice and mint.

Oh, and I don't have many pics yet, so not much to show there. Only one whose settled in after getting out here and had the time to upload any pictures is my cousin James, who had a cell phone camera. To tide you over, though, you may enjoy this picture.

Other than the wedding, I've spent the past bit of time with my friend, Carina, and my family. My nonna (grandmother, father's side), my two cousins, my parents, and my brother all flew out from England and New York (as well as Carina, who then had to drive to Ohio right after she got back). Took them to a few Canadian restaurants, went shopping, considered seeing a film but then immediately chose not to (the only one of any interest to me right now is Fright Night, and only because of David Tennant). Carina quite liked the city, and my family seemed mostly indifferent. My nonna and cousins did a bunch of tourist stuff, which I think is silly. Lovely place to live in, but honestly, not the best place just to visit. I suppose there's more now, since the Olympics, but it's definitely better as a resident.

Started work on another story. A fantasy, slice-of-life story of sorts, about a woman who ages one year a decade (so she'd live to be about a thousand), who is about 30/0, now. Mostly, it is just her travelling around Vulcamiel - the kingdom she lives in - enjoying the people, the food, and the scenery as her friends grow old, have kids, and die. Not much of a story - it spans from the time her best friend dies to the time her lover dies, so there is certainly an arc, but a story is a stretch - it's just an exploration of another world and the characters and things in it. Not as dark as my usual stuff, but I like it.

It was nice to see where all of you hangout, and what vlogs, blogs, and webcomics you all enjoy. As I did not get a chance to properly respond last week, I will end my post on an elaboration of my internet-based activities.

As I've said before, I am a tumblr addict. Love me some tumblr. I follow art blogs - gingerhaze is one of my favourites - and plus-sized fashion blogs. I follow a few official ones, too, as it is handy. Modcloth is my favourite clothing store, by the way, and their tumblr is great for keeping me updated on their new clothes. They sell things in all sizes, so I'd recommend them highly. I read BBC's website to keep up with the news, for the most part, as they are a bit more international than American news sites, but still in English. I also am a big fan of xoJane, particularly Emily. It's a very frank, honest website for women to talk about the sorts of issues you won't find in Cosmo and whatnot. Not to mention a few fun articles where they try odd things, like odd fashion trends or strange, erm, 'personal' wares.

I love internet reviewers - on That Guy with the Glasses, I am fond of MasakoX, Obscurus Lupa, Todd in the Shadows, MikeJ, Paw, Brad, and Phelous. I also like the guys at NormalBoots (JonTron, PeanutButterGamer), and I'd definitely recommend Movies You May Have Missed. Webcomics - pretty much what you'd expect. Cyanide & Happiness, xkcd, Hyperbole and a Half, Wondermark, and my personal recommendation: Happle Tea. Mmm, mythology jokes.

Thank you all for the congratulations! I'll be going to PAX Prime this weekend, hoping to catch a glimpse of Toby Turner at the Assassin's Creed panel (he's going to perform his literal trailer, apparently), so I'll see you all next week with fun about that! Oh, and a crafting challenge? Lord have mercy, at best you'll be getting a bit of origami, and at worst you'll get something worthy of the Guggenheim. *

* The Guggenheim has 'art' like white painted on white canvas, and slabs of rock. They're the sort of museum that thinks something painted by a dog covered in non-toxic paint is worth money.

Edit: Here, now you can pretend you were at the wedding with me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday found a castle!

Hello, girls! It’s Monday! And before I look at the clock again and realize, “Oh, Lord, I’ve lost ANOTHER hour and half of my life to Doodle God 2, I’m gonna write a blog post! (Please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t google that. It’s too late for me, but you can still save yourselves!)

Alexandra: I know I commented and said it, but congratulations on being a married lady! I hope married life is living up to your expectations! I want to hear all about the wedding, and see pictures!

Carlyn: I had a feeling that my challenge would be right up your alley. :)

Casey: I hope everything’s going all right, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Christina: Isn’t Maureen Johnson absolutely, without a doubt, the most entertaining tweeter on Twitter? I love her! You especially, don’t Google Doodle God 2. Just don’t do it.

And now for my JAB post.

So, I wrote two weeks ago that I was on an impromptu road trip. I went to New York (the state, not the city) with my friend Maggie. Well, she read said post, and her response was, “Hey! This trip wasn’t impromptu!” And, to be fair, she was kinda right. I mean, she asked me if I wanted to go late July, and we didn’t leave until three weeks later. But for me, that’s impromptu.

See, I love schedules. And itineraries. And organizing things. I mean, you all saw my Neville notebook. My planner is very similar in nature. I got irrationally excited when Sharpie came out with a ten pack of highlighters, because with ten different colors, I only had to find one more to adequately color code my schedule (yes, you read that right. I have an eleven-color schedule)!

Now, I’m not completely OCD about it. I don’t need every minute of every day perfectly mapped out. I don’t have to get out of bed at the same time each day, or section off my life into hour-long chunks. But I like to have a sense of the big picture. If I’m going on a big trip, I want to know when and it’d be nice to know a decent length of time in advance. This has a lot to do with how busy my schedule gets; seven times out of ten, it’s just necessity.

So a big trip to New York that got thrown at me a mere three weeks before the fact? Pretty spontaneous for me, who just doesn’t do spontaneity. Spontaneity actually makes me pretty anxious. I was a wreck when, as August approached, I still had no idea where I’d be living in a month. As soon as my boyfriend and I decided to stay in Bowling Green another year, I was fine. I like to know where I’m going, is the point.

So this road trip to New York was a pretty odd occurrence for me, for a variety of reasons. The biggest? It simply wasn’t planned. Maggie and I had a vague idea what we wanted to do every day, but beyond that, our trip became a lot of “Drive until we see something that looks interesting enough to stop and see.”

Basically, we went to Niagara, New York. Maggie has a cousin/aunt/thing (first cousin once removed) who lives about five minutes from Niagara Falls, and so we went and stayed with her. We spent day one driving there. We spent day two exploring Buffalo. We spent a lot of money at a Borders that we drove past, and then, we just kinda kept driving through the city until we saw something worth exploring. We walked along the water front and got soaked by rain, and we found a Theatre for Youth where I nearly got into a fight with some guy who dissed youth theatre in front of me, and we visited a few more bookshops and spent some more money, and we came to the conclusion that Buffalo is one of the Wizarding areas of America. Why? BECAUSE WE FOUND A FREAKING CASTLE.

No joke. There’s a castle just sitting in the middle of downtown Buffalo. No explanation, no signs telling us what it was, just a castle. Sitting right there, taking up a full two city blocks. And when we got out of the car to explore, people were giving US strange looks. Wizards. No question.

Okay, fine, turned out to be an Army reserve base, or at least that’s the cover. But Maggie and I remain convinced otherwise.

Second day, we spent at the Falls. Now, I’ve been to Niagara once before, but I was eight, and we only explored the Canada side. This time, Maggie didn’t have her passport, so we couldn’t cross the border, but that was fine. There’s plenty to do on the American side. And the falls are incredible. Just absolutely breathtaking, and there’s plenty of little walks and woods and places to explore in and around the area. We rode the Maid of the Mist and walked the Cave of the Winds, which gives you free sandals so you don’t destroy your own shoes as you basically stand IN Bridal Veil Falls. It was incredible. We both got soaked.

Third day we devoted to hiking the Niagara Gorge around Devil’s Hole. We climbed up 336 stairs at the end of the mile-long hike after climbing down just as many, and THEN we had to hike the mile BACK to where our car was, but the view was worth it. After that, we drove to little towns around the area trying to find the company that offered boat ride down the rapids of the river, trying to keep up our streak of getting soaked every day. Unfortunately, at $60 each to ride, we decided to decline and find amusement elsewhere. We found an old book shop and spent, again, more money on books, and then we returned to the Falls that evening just to see them one more time, they were that incredible.

Last day was spent taking an underground boat ride through an old manmade cave, and then making me read my ENTIRE 80,000 word Sleeping Beauty novel out loud on the car ride back to Ohio.

It was a great trip, and a very freeing one. Not having the trip planned out was nowhere near as stressful as I thought it would be. A lot of that has to do with Maggie, I know. She’s the Gryffindor in the group of four I’ve mentioned previously, and while many things that she wanted to do prompted the line, “Maggie, that’s how horror movies start,” she did pull out some slightly Gryffindorish tendencies in this Ravenclaw. And you know what? That’s no bad way to spend four days.

Alexandra, I’ll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 24: JAB Week!

It's time for another JAb week, girls! I look forward to hearing about how life is going for the new married and the newly returned to school! :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Can you list the internet as a hobby?

Congratulations Alexandra!! I look forward to hearing more about the wedding and what married life is like!

Casey: Is everyone okay on your end? I hope to hear from you soon!

Well, this may come as a surprise to you all, but I spend way too much time on the internet. I know- surprising, right? Someone who's part of a collab blog with four other girls she met online spends too much time on the internet.

Currently most of my online time is spend divided between facebook, gmail (I enjoy organizing my contacts and labels, okay?), google reader, twitter, and youtube.

     - While I'm not in love with facebook like I was the first two or so years of college (remember bumper stickers?), I still spend a fair amount of time there. It's a necessary evil really; I do enjoy keeping up with friends on it and getting ready to move to France I've been spending a lot of time there talking with other people in the program. I've met some other girls who are going to be in Lille and we're going to stay together in the interim time between arrival and finding an apartment (and possibly even find an apartment together). It's things like that which renew my love of the internet (not that it ever really diminishes). Just a week ago I was totally lost with making plans for moving to France and now that I've found two other people to make those plans with, it all feels much more manageable. Anyway, I digress.

     - I spend time on gmail too- beyond the usual reading and responding to emails. Like I mentioned, I get an odd satisfaction from organizing on my emails into neat little labels and sub-labels and making sure I have every possible contact that I could possibly need in my address book, along with phone numbers and addresses when applicable. Just in case I need them, you know? I like to keep my google calendar nice and organized like that too.

     - I LOVE google reader! I look back on the days I didn't use it and wonder how I managed to keep up to date with so much content. I use google reader to keep up with most of the sites I read (blogs, web comics, photostreams... really most sites that update can be subscribed too through the reader). Hark A Vagrant is one of my favorite comics (and I love xkcd too!), I highly recommend it. I also keep up with The Oatmeal which is always good entertainment. Blog-wise, I'll share with you guys some of my favorite blogs at the moment. It's BEDA right now (blog every day in August/April), so many of the youtubers I watch are also blogging regularly): Kristina, Kayley, Rosianna, and Hayley (though Hayley's been MIA for the past 8 days or so... I hope everything's ok with her!) They also blog when it's not August or April and their blog updates are one of my favorite things to see on my rss feed. Another one I read is Temerity Jane whose blog I've come to love. I was suspicious at first because I'm not really in her target audience (she just had a baby and the majority of her posts are about being new parents, yada  yada), but I really enjoy the way she writes and she's just hilarious in general. Even if I can't relate to most of the things she's writing about, I do enjoy reading about them!

     - Twitter, for me, isn't really used to keep up to date with friends, but rather celebrities and "internet people." For instance, I follow Maureen Johnson whose tweets are fantastic. The twitter conversations that occur between Hank, John, and her are wonderful. I follow a lot of youtubers on twitter, moreso than celebrities I think. I also use twitter to post little things occasionally, a bit like a mass text message to friends. If I want to share something, but there's no one in particular I want to tell, then I'll tell twitter.

     - Youtube! I really, really love youtube and spend lots of time there, perhaps a surprising amount for someone who doesn't actually make videos herself. I've been watching youtube regularly and subscribing to my favorite for four five years now (wow, has it really been five??) (I've been doing lots of these parenthetical questions today, haven't I?) I've wanted to start making my own videos many times, but never have for many reasons, just a few being my fear of being terrible at it and the cruel internet criticism that would follow and also just the sheer work involved. I'm not very good at keeping hobbies going, so if I did start making videos I'm not very confident that it would last all that long. I like the idea though, I'm a fan of the idea. Maybe when I'm in France to chart my progress over there? .... We'll see. Anyway, youtubers! I started out with Caitlin Hill, boh3m3, Natalie Tran, Mr. Safety, LisaNova: youtube before nerdfighteria, really. Then I found Alex and Charlie and was satisfied with my subscriptions for many years. It wasn't until this past fall that I really delved into nerdfighteria. I found Hayley, Kristina, Kayley, Rosianna, Tom, and of course Hank and John. And I'm now a nerdfighter! As for recommendations, Rosi (missxrojas) is one of my favorite youtubers and general internet people. Her videos are beautiful, as is her writing in general. She is very thoughtful and natural in her videos by which I mean that she shares her real and personal thoughts. She just sits and talks to the camera and has a conversation with you (well, you know what I mean). Her videos are simple and my favorite. I also love Tom (frezned) who is just hilarious. For some of his videos he just turns on the camera and starts talking, and what he comes up with is brilliant.

Well, there you go! I've talked (perhaps too much) at length about my favorite internet places and people, maybe someone will like one of the things I like too. Oh, speaking of which I just found this site today (Rosi actually posted it on tumblr) and it's hypnotizing and relaxing. You create circles with your mouse which, when they bump into each other, make little chiming sounds. Odd to describe, but check it out! It's very quickly addictive though, as a warning. And with that, I'm off to bed!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday is neither late nor revealing punishment!

Casey: We miss you!

Christina: I agree with Cassie’s punishment. Best of luck!

Cassie: Bwahaha! ::skates exact punishment yet again:: I cannot be stopped. Also that is an awesome challenge. I accept!

Alexandra: Hey married lady! Glad you could post! I hope you are having a wonderful time being married, and the ceremony sounds beautiful. The cheese platter is a wonderful idea, by the way : )

I have several folders of bookmarks on the top of my Google Chrome (best browser EVER, if you ask me) window.
Funny Things: Mostly webcomics, a few tumblrs. More on this later.
Games: My favorite of these is Drench. Google “drench game” if you want to play the most addicting game ever by clicking colors and… it’s just awesome.
Email/Networking: This includes bookmarks to all my email accounts, FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Psych Things: A compilation of resources every psych major needs!
Shopping: My favorite online places to buy things.
Blogs: Friends’ blogs, and this one!
Misc: Cool pages I’ve found over the years.

I typically have three tabs open at any given time: Facebook and my two university emails. I open another tab for browsing other sites… my favorites of which are webcomics.

I am a webcomic junkie.

I have a few more than a dozen that I keep up with regularly, and I re-come across others sporadically.

Here are some good ones you should definitely check out, if you don’t know them yet:

Natalie Dee
Married to the Sea
Toothpaste for Dinner
Cyanide & Happiness
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Stupid Fox
Exploding Dog
Shark Attack
Mr. Lovenstein
pictures for sad children
Dinosaur Comics
Endless Origami
Calm Blue Oceans (thanks Cassie!)

Naturally, I also keep up with such sites as FailBlog and DamnYouAutoCorrect. But the webcomics are the bossest of all.

Hope you’re all doing well! Enjoy those webcomics : )

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Has Time to Kill While Her Husband is in the Bathroom

Hey, I'm married. My husband is in the loo of our hotel room - we're chilling downtown because how unromantic is it just to go back to our flat? - and I thought I would make a short post to tell you that the wedding went well. I will include pictures next week. :) Our hotel room has a two-person bathtub in the bedroom, awesome, no? We had an amazing cheese platter at the wedding. 8 year cheddar, cave-aged gruyere, Bleu d'Auvergne, a fantastic Spanish goat cheese, and a bit of brie. Good catering, too, and some cute cupcakes. My parents, brother, best friend, and a few English relatives (my grandma and two cousins) all made it out there. Not a fan of being in the spotlight, but it was alright overall. Al cried during the ceremony. It was sweet. :)

Oh, and I mostly hang out on the NaNoWriMo forums - Ophiucha - and on tumblr - - both of which you are free to add, follow, whatever me on. I have a Facebook I never use, and a Google+ I've used once. In general, google "Ophiucha" if you want to find me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday got a little distracted at one point . . .

Good morn— evening, girls, it’s Monday! (I’m writing this later in the day than usual, can you tell?)

Alexandra: I hope all the preparations for your wedding are going well and that you’re not too stressed out to enjoy the day! We will not see you tomorrow, but will hopefully see you later this week! :)

Carlyn: . . . you keep cheating on this punishment . . . know that I will get you eventually! :P

Christina: I was never on HPANA, but I got to be a pretty big name on HP Requiem (a Harry/Ginny forum) before they shut it down. I’d spend hours there when I was younger, defending Dumbledore and Ron/Hermione, and speculating like crazy about our favorite couple. I was so upset when — AAAAAH TANGLED IS ON NETFLIX MY BOYFRIEND AND I JUST DISCOVERED THIS I AM SO EXCITED!!!! — they decided to shut the forum down after book six, because they claimed there was nothing more for us to do. Grrr....

But a perfect segue, that, into this week’s topic! Our online haunts.

I’m a very cyclical online presence, meaning that I have a series of websites that I visit every day in the same order, and I don’t venture much outside that list. I spend far less time on the Internet than I used to (see above about spending hours on a Harry/Ginny forum). These days, I check both my email accounts and Facebook, naturally, but the places where I’m actually a presence are connected to the things I spend most of my time doing.

I’ve had a Livejournal account for a few years now, but I’ve been actively using it for the past two or so. My username is Realmer06 (long story, that), and while I will very infrequently talk about my real life or, somewhat more frequently, direct my handful of readers over here to see what we’re up to, I use it mainly for monthly book review posts and for my fanfiction.

Because I write fanfiction. I will stand up and declare it (if I haven’t already here – I honestly don’t remember) proudly: I write fanfiction. Again, my author name is Realmer06, and I stick to Harry Potter, mostly. I write very infrequently about Harry himself, choosing instead to focus my time and interests on characters more on the fringe. I have written about everyone from Dean Thomas to Luna to Neville to Lavender to Petunia to Peter Pettigrew and back again. I love writing NextGen stories (Rose/Scorpius is my beloved pairing because come on, it is FAR too perfect not to happen!!), and my friend Maggie and I just sat down on our road trip and hammered out our preferred chronology of the Weasley grandchildren.

So, clearly, another hangout for me is, though it has become more just an easy place to house my work. I very rarely read fanfiction anymore – no time – and my writing of it is incredibly sporadic. I just put up my story about Draco and Astoria, and three will follow in quick succession by the end of October, but that’s because I sign up for fests in the summer and the friends I write for have birthdays in the fall, so they all come due at the same time.

Continuing in the writerly strain, I visit the NaNoWriMo site and forums pretty regularly, more as we get closer to November, of course. This will be my second year doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, if you’re curious), and I’m halfway kinda technically I suppose participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, but I am dreadfully behind and don’t really see getting 50,000 words written in the next two weeks.

I also visit YouTube – I follow the vlogbrothers, of course, and Wheezy Waiter and hopeonatenspeed and italktosnakes and lukeconard and bandgeek8408. I also appear periodically on bandgeek8408, as that’s my brother’s channel and I get roped into some of his storylines for his Books vs. Movies series.

I read every single day because it’s hilarious, and you’re all welcome, by the way, for being introduced to that site. I also read Cracked and and because I have a bizarre fascination with lists that other people put together. I also fairly recently signed up for PaperBackSwap, and that’s been a lovely thing! I have expanded my  library so much!

And that’s where I spend my time, really. When I get through my cycle of those sites, I start to hit my StumbleUpon button, and that’s when I really get into trouble because I like to procrastinate, and that makes it oh so easy!

But my presence on the Internet? I think it’s really felt on LiveJournal and in the Harry Potter fandom. I expect, also, to be on Pottermore just about every day once I can sign in.

And now, my challenge! You have, I think, six weeks? But here it is:

Find a die (or pick a number out of a hat or choose a number between 1 and 6 right now before you look at the list below). Roll it. Read the list below for your junk item.

1 - Newspaper/tissue paper
2 - Cardboard
3 - Pop can/pop tabs
4 - Plastic bottle
5 - Bottle caps (plastic or metal)
6 - Glass bottle

Your challenge? Take and beautify this object of yours. Turn trash into a treasure. I would like step by step photos of your process, but a photo of the finished product is definitely required! If you are feeling particularly crafty or creative, roll for two items and create one product out of them. And yes, you can use other supplies to supplement, but your junk item, in whole or in pieces, must be fairly prominent in the final product.

Okay, I now have to go watch Tangled! See you all later!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week 23: Online Existence

Another topic from Alexandra this week! Unfortunately, due to the hacking of YourPants, I lost the exact wording, and am working from my shorthand in my notes, but what I have written down is this:

What do you do online? So, unless Alexandra corrects me, we will expand on that theme this week: Where are your online haunts? Facebook? Twitter? Tumblr? Others? Where do you spend your online time?

Looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

In which I have trouble narrowing down my love of Harry Potter to one topic

Cassie: Yes, yes.... I believe I am still owed a punishment. I await the verdict. And Neville!! Yupp, that about sums it up.

Alexandra: Best wishes for your wedding! And I must agree, I love wand lore as well. That's one of the things I'm most excited about for Pottermore as well... we're supposed to find out more about wand lore, such as the differences in wand woods! 

Carlyn: While the trio in the movies may not match the trio in my imagination, I do agree that they were all very good fits for the characters. And I'm glad that they're not a perfect fit for my imagination's trio because this way the images in my head stayed intact over the past 10 years, but I was still able to enjoy the movies fully. I've also grown up with Emma, Dan, and Rupert and (in the least creepy way possible) feel like they've been my friends for the past ten years. Well, if not friends, at least a big part of my life!

Also speaking of Harry Potter, did you guys get into Pottermore beta? I did and I can't wait for the actual welcome email! My username is SkyLumos47! Did you guys try to get in? If so, how did it go and if you got in, what's your username? Questions, questions, questions.

Okay, Harry Potter time. My favorite time.

Harry Potter's been, if not completely, a major part of my life for the past ten years. I'll admit that the weeks following the release of the last movie I was going through some very real HP withdrawals including listening to nothing but the audio books, going through old pictures, rereading books, and getting teary at the smallest bits of nostalgia. A bit ridiculous to some people, perhaps, but natural when facing the end of such a large part of one's life. It's not really the end though, as we've seen in the month following the "end," as it was called. The fandom is going to continue on just as strong as ever, at the risk of sounding overly sappy. 

Which leads me to my Harry Potter topic of choice for tonight: fandom. I love this fandom so much. My best friends are part of this fandom and I would be delusional if I didn't recognize that the fandom brought us closer together over the years. We would still all be best friends, yes, but I know our relationships would be different and I wonder what they would be like without HP. We've written fanfic together, slowly accumulated Hogwarts uniforms, reread the books over and over, obsessed over Emma's outfits and hair... Our whole teenagedom was really based around Harry Potter. We started going to the midnight book releases when OotP came out (we didn't get into HP until after GoF was already out, unfortunately). We went to the same bookstore for all three releases (we'll miss you, Borders) and saw familiar faces from other releases each time we returned. We made one friend, in particular, who was there right next to us in line at all the releases (actually, was she at the OotP release? Kim and Beth, do you remember?) We all waited together in line for DH, now friends after our shared experiences in the fandom. 

Other major parts of the fandom for me were online forums (theorizing!) and wizard rock shows. Harry and the Potters shows, in particular, were another place where we made fandom friends. I had one friend, Denise, who I saw at at least three different HatP shows and kept up with on myspace for awhile (oh, the olden days of myspace...). That's one of my favorite parts of fandom: having those friends and familiar faces whom you regularly see at events. It's just a nice constant. 

Oh and those online forums! HPANA was my favorite. My username was (well, still is, technically) ConstantVigilance12 and I spent so much time on there. Theorizing was one of the most fun things in the fandom, for me. Rereading books for the who-knows-how-manyth time, making notes in the margins (in my used copies, I'm very strict about keeping my personal copies in good condition), and reading as many other theories as possible. It was on HPANA that I read someone's theory that Voldemort had put part of his soul in Nagini. I read that theory before OotP even came out and it stuck in my head for years, it's crazy to think how close that person got to the truth of it. Oh and the "Harry is a horcrux" wars! I was on the "Harry is not a horcrux and that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard" side and it took me some time to come around to the "Well, I guess it was Jo's plan and the way she did it was okay" side. Now I'm completely okay with it, see why it makes sense for the story, and also accept that it's not as stupid as my teenage self once thought. The sentence "Harry is a horcrux" still makes me cringe, though. Old habits and all that. And c'mon, it does sound kind of cheesy, doesn't it? 

Oh and the shipping wars on those forums! I've always been a staunch R/Hr shipper and back in the day I would give those Harmony shippers a good amount of flack for their delusional leanings. I made quite a few H/Hr shippers angry when I said they belonged in St. Mungo's.... oops. Sorry. Ohh I miss those forums. They're still around, yes, but it's just not the same and there's no way it could be. It's an inevitable part of this stage in the fandom, but sad nonetheless. 

And now, we have Pottermore! I can't wait to see how it will change and add onto the fandom in its own ways. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday has a REALLY long post for you. It includes vampires.

Casey: Good luck with time and things!

Christina: Good choice. Homelessness affects all of us, even indirectly, and its causes are many.

Cassie: I hope you’re having fun in NY! Also… I miss you already too. I’ll be back through town soon! : ) Also I feel lucky to have had a warning that this notebook post of yours was coming. Neville is freaking awesome. ALSO I am writing this post without any reminder! : P

Alexandra: Ditto Barty’s actor…

As much as I love HP, my adoration is recently vivified and not quite in-depth. So due to the fact that I have a pretty serious punishment to conquer, I’ll give slight mention to my favorite things about the series and get to fanficking.

My very favorite thing about HP is how brilliantly crafted each character is within such an incredible context. The character I know best in terms of development is probably Neville, and that’s mostly due to talking to Cassie about him ( ::sticks tongue out at Cassie:: ). But I agree with her—at the end, he became the only thing he could have become.

I am equally smitten with the casting of the movies. How in the world did they pick those kids?? Neville in Movie #1 was a stubby little awkward kid. Neville in Movie #7.2 is a handsome hunk of a BAMF. And most, if not all, of the other characters were as well cast. Nearly a decade of movies made, and at the end, all the actors suited their characters just as well as they did at the beginning. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

And now… My challenge. Nine hundred and twenty-four words of Twilight fanfic continuation.

I’ve included the first portion just above the new one, in italics. The continuation starts in Roman text below the second set of asterisks.

Here goes.

A burst of light.

A brisk breeze that neither cooled nor warmed.

A popping sound, then tearing.

The wind picked up speed.

Her eyes cracked open, and then shut again, exhausted and angry at the brightness that assaulted them.

The tearing sound grew closer and closer, until Bella was forced to open her eyes and expose them to the offensive light that had somehow engulfed her.

There was nothing to see, apart from a blindingly luminous glow. She assumed that she was outside, as that would be the only way to explain the wind that blew with increasing intensity. Bella opened her eyes fully and tried to sit up, but found that she was unable—and sit up from what? She realized with dawning confusion that she was not, in fact, laying down on anything at all, but seemed to be hovering. There was no up, there was no down; there seemed to be no boundaries whatsoever. Bella’s wonder began to mix with panic.

There!—a flash of something… something metallic? Bella tried to turn her head to follow the direction of the flash, but soon found that she was unable to move at all. She glanced around, squinting through the haze that was beginning to form on the edges of her vision. Of her own body, she could only see her arms stretched out in front of her, her skin sparkling like diamonds. She was outside, then, and this was sunlight.

She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, glad to have at least that slight ability of movement. When she opened them again, the ripping sound had grown to a roar, and she saw something in the approaching distance. She couldn’t tell what it was, but it sparkled like diamonds.


The haze overtook her.


Sudden silence awoke Bella from her unconsciousness. The tearing sound had ceased abruptly. She opened her eyes cautiously, anxiously, tiredly, and saw that the sparkling thing was still approaching. But that’s not all she could see: the blinding light had subsided somewhat, and she could see that she was, in fact, in midair. And, gauging by the rapid movement of the earth below her, she appeared to be flying.


Bella knew she did not have the power of flight; the only vampire she had ever met with that particular ability had been a young woman they had encountered at the Massacre of 3015. That had been many centuries ago—a mere drop in the bucket, though, of Bella’s already two-millennia-long life as a vampire.

So why was she flying?

Clearly, that answer would not come of its own accord. She could still not move any part of her except her eyes, so she could see nothing to any side of her save for that which was in front of her.

The sparkling thing continued to approach—or, rather, she continued to approach it, she reasoned. She focused her improving sight on discerning its shape.

Soon, Bella realized that the object had been approaching her after all, just as she had been flying towards it. It was a personal transport pod, a very antique model from the late 4500s. These days, people traveled by mindport. Who would be zipping around in a pod?

The transport pod slowed as it reached Bella, and just as she caught up with it, it changed direction, matched her speed, and flew next to her over the vast expanse of clouds and earth below. Its smooth silver surface glittered in the sunlight.

Bella tried to call out to whoever would be flying the pod, but she found she could not open her mouth. She attempted to call out with her mind, in case the person could read her thoughts (though no one had ever been able to in her entire existence, save one person, and that person was long gone). But to no avail: while her mind could project, all she got in return was the tearing sound that had awoken her mid-flight in the first place, however long ago that had been.

The silver sunshield that covered the pod’s surface retracted partway, revealing a video recorder’s glistening eye. She stared into that eye and, to her surprise, it seemed to blink.

“What the hell kind of video recorder blinks?” Bella wondered. She knew technology had made immense progress in recent centuries, in part because of Edward’s contributions to the fields of technogenetics and electrobiology.

The sunshield folded back along the egg-shaped inner glass windshield. Within the pod was something she never could have
expected. The eye was attached to a monstrous face, one she had grown to love, then know, then understand, then hate, then fear:



A burst of light.

… though her mechanical eye adjusted to the brightness almost instantaneously. The hangar’s dodecahedral aperture opened quickly, revealing the grey-yellow of the Venusian sky. The sun was visible thanks to mid-34th-century terraforming, and it bathed in golden light the interior of the carbontube structure surrounding her. If she’d been able to appreciate beauty anymore, she would have found the sight captivating.

A brisk breeze that neither cooled nor warmed.

… though the windshield and climate control of her personal transport pod didn’t allow her to feel it. As if she’d have been able to feel it anyway.

Her pod was an antique model she’d had difficulty acquiring during the Ore Crisis. Only through back-alley dealings—and yes, she allowed herself to admit, a bit of intimidation and telepathic manipulation—had she finally gotten hold of it. Normally Renesmee used her, ahem, abilities only in accordance with the law. After all, a girl needed to make a living, and her job with the TEA (Technogenetic and Electrobiological Alliance) would be terminated immediately if they ever discovered her breach of the Ore Conservation Act. But her pod was necessary, she reasoned. Her technogenetic enhancements made mindport impossible, and she needed some way to travel quickly. Slow travel was not an option. Not in her line of work.

A popping sound, and then tearing.

Bella was on the move, then. And at least somewhat conscious, if the intense ripping sound was to be an indication. Renesmee looked on removedly as her mother began to ascend up and out of the enormous hangar into the luminous sky.

With one well-directed brainwave, Renesmee launched her transport pod and zipped past Bella through the aperture into the open air.


As she zoomed along, Renesmee meditated on what would be asked of her. Jacob had been very clear: He would have no part in the destruction of one he had loved for so long. That complicated things somewhat, but Renesmee knew she could accomplish her task alone. Not that this would be an easy burden to bear, though; the convoluted mission of the TEA prevented that. “Advance the Cause,” she muttered to herself in the silence of her soundproofed pod. The TEA’s public motto, on all the e-letterhead and at the top corner of every consumer broadcast. Laymen knew the Cause as the preservation and advancement of science, but Renesmee understood a far darker truth.

Suddenly Renesmee’s attention was drawn to her dash screen. Against all odds, against all prevention, a primitive sonar system had picked her up. Good thing she had installed the detection system, she thought, even though it had seemed unnecessary at the time. Sonar like that hadn’t been used since at least the early 3000s. It had been obsolete since the surprise technological advances mercilessly unveiled at the Massacre of 3015. Renesmee had been away at the time, seeking leads for a job, but word had gotten to her by way of telepathic connection with her mother. That connection had ended around the same time as the sonar. Renesmee recollected that her mother had pathed images of a flying vampire, and the irony of Bella’s current flight struck her as morbidly humorous. If she’d still been able, Renesmee would have let loose a chuckle that had once resembled that of her father.

Her father. Renesmee could scarcely allow herself to be distracted right now, but memories long gone of Edward began to fill her mind. Early memories, memories of swingsets and, a little later, schooling and biotech labs. Memories of smiles and laughs and the last warmth Renesmee had really known. Jacob’s high body temperature these days did little to bring warmth to what was no longer recognizable as anything but grotesque manmade spectacle.

A panicked siren began to sound from the dash console. Renesmee begrudgingly sent a brainwave to the pod’s central nervous system, and in one immediate and smooth motion, the pod reversed direction. Back from where she had come. Back toward Bella.

Renesmee slowed as she caught up with Bella, changed direction, and matched the flying vampire’s speed. The carbontube sunshield was still up, so Bella could not see the interior of the pod. But Renesmee could see Bella clearly. For a while they flew that way, right beside each other. It seemed that they were stationary and that the whole planet was speeding past below them.

Abruptly the tearing sound reentered Renesmee’s consciousness, and she realized that it had been silent through the rest of the flight. Bella was reaching out with her mind as she was unable with her body, sending out telepathic threads in an effort to understand what was going on. Renesmee was glad the pod had telescramblers; any connection to her mother at this point would be ill advised. The thought threads were reduced, in the minds of both sender and receiver, to nothing but the grating sound of tearing fabric. Renesmee was amused that she could remember such ancient things as that particular sound.

And yet… Something within her begged Renesmee to turn off the scrambler, to receive the distress call her mother must be sending out. She had her mind just barely attuned to that control, almost thought the scrambler down—but stopped. It was just too big a risk. There was too much at stake. But she couldn’t continue without letting Bella in at all. She came to an internal compromise: Pull back the sunshield. Let Bella see what was in the pod.

The sunshield folded back along the egg-shaped inner glass windshield.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday loves Wands, and is Early!

I don't own one, oddly enough, never really thought to get one in my miscellany merchandise purchasing endeavours, but I do. Wands are my favourite part of the Harry Potter lore, in fact. Ollivander is one of my favourite characters. I just like the idea, and I wish it were more heavily explored. At least I got the Elder Wand, I suppose.

And yes, I am technically posting on Monday today because wedding stuff is consuming my life and I have to prepare the guest room for Carina and all these things and I can't be bothered to lie to you by setting the timer on the post to tomorrow. :p

Anyway, wands intrigue me. I like the idea of having a core. The woods interest me, too. Don't know how much I care for the whole birth tree thing - in general, I have a great opposition to any sort of zodiac-esque thing, even if it is just assigning a wood to your birth month (though I did, as a kid, love birthstones). More than anything, that's what I'd like to learn more about in Pottermore - and what I'd like to get from Pottermore. For all that I love Slytherin, I'd be fine with any house, and I'm not going to hold any great weight or suspense to my inevitable sorting. But my wand? I'll go crazy over that. I hope we learn something about Ollivander, or the Ollivander family, if nothing else.

For the sake of it, I should say that my other favourite characters are Barty Crouch Jr., Lucius Malfoy, and Fenrir Greyback - all for very superficial reasons. Barty and Lucius are almost strictly due to their actors, though Lucius' older aristocrat thing doesn't hurt. Fenrir mostly because I love werewolves, and Remus isn't exactly terrifying. As people, I have no strong attachment to, really, any of the characters in the series. They never seemed very real to me - it works for the medium, and I still love them all to bits, but I can't say I'd want to meet any of the characters or be friends with them. They're interesting, though, and for what that's worth, my favourites are the aforementioned.

I think I am, similarly, more sympathetic towards the generally disliked characters of the series. Namely Lockhart and Umbridge. They are caricatures, as many of the characters are, and they serve their purpose well. I guess that may be the writer in me talking. For all that I dislike their traits, I can't dislike the characters because they succeed in what they are meant to do for the novels. Lockhart, in particular, intrigues me. He's a Ravenclaw, yet by far the least competent and not exactly the brightest we've seen from the house. Even though I'd hesitate to call him dumb, and I'm sure he's quite the writer himself, I honestly think of him as sort of a pompous, adult male version of Luna Lovegood. Do we know if Luna is smart, now that I mention it? I can't say I recall her grades ever being mentioned, and I somehow doubt she excels in certain classes (Defence and CoMC in particular) given some of what she says. I'm also rather neutral to Cho. At least as neutral as I am to Ginny, anyway.

Monday has this notebook . . .

Hello girls! It’s Monday! And I’m leaving for New York (state) in just a few hours! Gotta love impromptu road trips. :)

Alexandra: I can completely understand your viewpoint about charities, and I’m glad you went local! Supporting community is always important, especially local artists, farmers, small businesses, etc. I think you found a great cause! Also, yes, I think we can give you a blog extension during your wedding week. :)

Carlyn: IRL announcement: I miss you already. I look forward to your punishment. Should I remind you on Wednesday morning that it is, in fact, Wednesday morning?

Casey: I’m sorry you’re so crazy busy – that can get stressful! But I look forward to reading about your challenge completion as soon as you’re able to post it!

Christina: Great charity. It’s certainly a huge and growing problem in this country. Thanks for the challenge! Also, do we still owe you a punishment?

And now, onto Harry Potter. Again.

Hello. My name is Cassie (*waits for “Hello, Cassie” to echo around the room) and I am a Neville-holic.

Seriously. I love Neville Longbottom. I love Neville Longbottom probably more than is reasonable (Boyfriend in the background: “Probably?”). I would leave my boyfriend in a heartbeat for Neville if he weren’t fictional (he knows this. He’s come to terms with it). So I think it is only appropriate, during HP minutiae week, for me to talk about Neville.

I have always liked Neville’s character. He was the sweet, bumbling boy who was awkward and clumsy, and your heart went out to him because we all know a Neville in real life. And back when I was reading the first six books of the series, before I’d really learned to read critically or learned about how storytelling works, I didn’t give him much thought beyond that. I rooted for him in Order of the Phoenix, and I was proud of how far he’d come, and I was greatly interested in the fact that the prophecy could have been about him, but I didn’t really think about his role in the series overall.

But then I went to college, and I took a class on literary genres and a class on critical thinking, and I started to learn about things like the hero’s journey and how storytelling worked, and so when the seventh book came out the summer after my freshman year and I reread the series in preparation for Deathly Hallows, it was dozens of lightbulbs turning on in my brain as things clicked together and I started to figure out what she was doing and where she was going and how things were being set up. And I started to get very interested in Neville.

And then I read the seventh book and OMG, I became a Neville fangirl overnight. Seriously. This boy is awesome. And a BAMF. And Harry’s parallel hero, going through his own hero’s journey, albeit one condensed into three years instead of seven. But I’m getting ahead of myself with that last bit. We’ll return to that in a moment.

Neville became one of the most fascinating characters in the books for me after Deathly Hallows, I think largely in part to the fact that his transformation is so sudden. When we hear about Neville throughout the book, we picture him as we’ve always known him: round-faced, bumbling, awkward. But then he shows up, and he is not that person anymore. It takes Harry, Ron, and Hermione by surprise, and it takes us as readers by surprise, too. And more importantly, it serves to underline the idea that things have changed drastically at Hogwarts, and that’s forced the people there to change as well.

That’s why I had a little bit of a problem with the last movie’s treatment of Neville. Don’t get me wrong – I loved that they gave him all his badass moments, but they kept his awkwardness so that there would be that familiarity, but the point of his appearance in the seventh book is that he’s not awkward anymore – he’s a warrior, and he’s not going to stand and make a speech about banding together in front of Voldemort, he’s going to say “I’ll join you when Hell freezes over!” and kill a freakin’ snake. Just saying.

But anyway, fast forward past the book’s release to spring of ‘08. My favorite professor of all time offers a Harry Potter based seminar, specifically focused around Deathly Hallows. I, of course, sign up for it the very first moment I am able to. We spent two weeks doing an in-depth reading and discussion of the final book, and then we read essays and critical analyses of all aspects of the series and debated those as well. And our final project for the class was a paper on pretty much any Harry Potter related idea we wanted to explore. And I wanted to explore Neville.

My professor expressed concern when I showed him my prospectus, saying he didn’t know if I could generate enough material for a character analysis that was an in-depth as he wanted. I may or may not have laughed in his face at that and said, “Watch me.”

In preparation for this paper, I kept a notebook. When asked produce the belonging that serves as my badge of ultimate nerdiness, I bring out this notebook. Words don’t do it justice. Here are pictures.

  is my Neville notebook.

And this:

is what I spent a weekend doing.

Each of those half-page segments represent a book in the series. I skimmed all seven for every mention of Neville and wrote down the page number. The colored squiggles next to each page represent one of sixteen different categories that I separated Neville’s mentions into: physical description, Trevor, family opinion, memory, clumsiness, courage, friendships, academics, personal history, magical abilities, the DA, Potions class, bullying, miscellaneous activity, the prophecy, and BAMF moments.

For those of you with raised eyebrows/dropped jaws, I’m not done yet. It gets better.


is my six-page cross referencing system. Each category above has a quadrant, and books and page numbers are listed chronologically, so that when I needed to reference the times Neville was bullied, I could go to that quadrant, find all the references, and pick the one that best suited my point.

This was all before I even started the paper, by the way.

I am a nerd. Of freakish proportions. And proud. :)

Anyway, as you should not be surprised to learn, I had more than enough material to work with. I wrote a 19-page analysis that outlined Neville’s role in the series as a parallel orphaned hero to Harry and as a child of the prophecy. I put forth the argument that because the prophecy had once applied to both boys, it continued to do so, even after Voldemort made his fatal choice. I argued that Neville as well as Harry fulfilled every particular of the prophecy, and that it was only when both boys were equals that Voldemort was able to be defeated. If anyone should be interested, I am more than willing to talk about these arguments in more depth, but I won’t recreate all 19 pages here. :)

So yeah, basically, I love Neville, and I’ve kinda made myself into an expert on him. He is my all time favorite character. I’ll be honest, I like him more than Harry. His journey is incredible, and the parallels that JK sets up for him? Brilliant! If you’re reading for them, it’s clear from book one that Neville was always going to grow into what he became. When he takes on Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle in book one, it’s a direct parallel to taking on Voldemort and his Death Eaters in books seven. When he stands up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione before they leave to go through the trapdoor, it’s book seven Neville in the Room of Requirement telling the Trio they can’t just show up and then leave. Neville is the boy who Could Have Been, and his job, therefore, is to remind Harry and the rest of us that this was everyone’s fight, not just the fight of the Chosen One(s).

I look forward to hearing more about Potter from all of you this week!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week 22 - More Potter!

This week's theme comes from Alexandra. In honor of Pottermore early registration (whether we registered early or not or even care about such things), this is the week to talk about a favorite book series in more detail than was previously done. We've given an overview - now let's get into minutiae. Dig down deep and go in depth on your favorite character, favorite plot point, favorite pet theory -- whatever you like! Sky's the limit, and there's no such thing as too much Potter!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Challenge Friday

This will need to be a quick post because I'm going to try to get up tomorrow for morning yoga at 6:30 (spoiler alert: I don't think it's going to happen), but nevertheless, I'm going to try so I need to go to bed!

It probably won't be a surprise that when I proposed this challenge I already had a charity in mind. I live in Ann Arbor, MI where the homeless population has been steadily increasing for the past few years. Streets that were void of homelessness just a couple years ago now have homeless people every block or so. It's really sad and I wish there were something I could do to help at least one person get back on their feet. However, as a poor new college graduate, I've never felt like there was much I could do that would directly affect someone's life. In the future when I have a steady, secure income I want to be more involved in helping the homeless, but in the meantime I decided to donate to a homeless shelter in the area. I found the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County ( which provides homeless shelters, food, and services to get people back in jobs and homes.

I'm sorry I don't have much else to say about it! Homelessness is something that, although I have no personal or familial experience with it, I really care about. I may not have an expendable income, but with how lucky I am (apartment, food, education...) how could I not help out people that don't have those luxuries? I just don't think I'd be able to live with myself. So yes, there's my charity!

(And also, Alexandra, yes I think it's totally fine if you don't blog the week of your wedding! And good luck/congratulations/BEST WISHES!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday is really busy!

I'm writing this post now so that I'm not punished again, but I don't have time to get the full challenge post out yet, so I'll edit this post as soon as I've got more than five minutes at a computer. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your posts!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday is for the birds

Casey: Ants suck.

Christina: What an awesome trip! That must have been quite an experience, and you got to share such a good tradition with friends. Awesome. Also… Fruit Ninja is AWESOME.

Cassie: What a great charity. Cancer affects us all, healthy siblings more than most. I’m glad to know that an organization like that exists. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Alexandra: Props for all that consideration and research. There’s a lot out that there that needs charitized… but it’s tough to find one.

For my own charity challenge, I knew immediately what I would choose. The day before the challenge was issued, I was visiting friends and we found a tiny baby bird on the doorstep. Its eyes were still closed and it was quite featherless. We promptly built it a nest out of a Tupperware container, fed it shredded wet cat food, and named it Winston Chirphill. Of course, it was quite late at night (because that’s when all the baby birds come out to play [?]), so we called and left messages with as many nature preserves as we could find. In the morning, after twelve hours of incessant chirping and near-constant feeding, I got a call from Nature’s Nursery. They could take Winston Chirphill! My most excellent girlfriend and I made a mild roadtrip of dropping him off.

Nature’s Nursery is a small wildlife center in my state. Its goals, from the website, are “to improve the well-being of [local] wildlife populations and habitat through public education and rehabilitation of injured, ailing, and orphaned wildlife with an emphasis on coexistence.” I am of the viewpoint that humans expand. It’s what we do. We encroach and do all sorts of other human activities. But that doesn’t mean we have to hurt our planet or its inhabitants. Nature’s Nursery is dedicated to improving how we interact with our wildlife, and I think it’s a great idea. I have a pretty serious admiration and adoration for my local fauna, and that is in large part due to the education I received as a child at my own home nature preserves.

I chose to donate to Nature’s Nursery because (a) I hope Winston Chirphill is doing well, (b) it is small enough that my donation will make a direct impact in what NN will be able to do, and (c) I want future children (and adults, etc.) to be able to understand how they can best interact with their world.

In terms of my punishment… Cassie, I think you are fair. Everyone can look forward to next Wednesday’s post including another exciting installment of "Why the #@!% Is Bella Flying?".

Pleasantest days to you all!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday is Conflicted, but Charitable

Charities are a tough subject with me, truth be told. Many of the issues that concern me have few charities attached to them, and donating to small charities is often like tossing a penny in a well: good thoughts, empty ends. And the largest of charities have their bad histories, need I bring up the Red Cross? I have my biases as well, I think we all recall Hank's recent video on this. There are some concerns, such as illiteracy, which I consider to be very important, and it leads me to want to donate to causes that help children learn to read. Objectively, however, I can't justify that sort of donation. Treating the symptom, all that. I also considered the Heifer International, but I have donated immensely to them in the past, and I wanted to find something new.

There is also policy to consider. I am fond of the works of Chalice, but I cannot in good conscious donate my money to a Catholic organization. I ran into the same issue with Samaritan's Purse, a Christian organization. Indeed, a great deal of organizations are directly tied to the Church, and I cannot find it in myself to sign a check for such a charity. Further, I found it hard to justify a donation to any specific disease. I wanted to donate to breast cancer, originally, but I realize that my reasons are selfish. I grew up on Long Island, which has an abnormally high (for America, at least) rate of breast cancer, and I've had several unpleasant 'lumps' I needed to get checked out, while not cancerous they are certainly not a good sign. Inevitably, choosing a charity to donate to is quite the challenge indeed.

In fact, I avoided it to the greatest of my abilities by donating to the Vancouver Foundation, the local community foundation which distributes its wealth across various fields to aid the people of British Columbia. It is a thorough charity, eliminating any bias I may have towards certain causes over others, donating to youth programs, hospitals, the arts, young philanthropists, the homeless, the disabled, the environment, animal rights, etc. Just checked off 'donate my money to where the need is greatest' and the burden of bias is out of my hands.

Of course, I still donated quite specifically to a Vancouver-based foundation, one which combats problems found in the city and province I live in and ultimately will better my way of living, even though I am not the target of its charity. Still, it was the best one I could find in Canada that was efficient with its funds and not directly linked to any cause or organization I do not agree with. They have an excellent track record, as well. If you care, you may read more about them here. So there it is.

Before I forget, I must also ask for an extension or an excused absence (haha, what is this, high school?) on August 16th, the Tuesday after next. I am getting married on the 15th, and admittedly I doubt I will have the time on my first day as a newly-wed to write up a blog post.