Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday is feeling the pressure

Hello, girls, it's Monday, and I'm cutting this REALLY close to the wire! Therefore, I'm just gonna jump right in to the topic of the week: stress levels!

I put my current stress level at moderate. It's not as bad as it's been before; I'm keeping all the balls I've been handed up in the air. But I can feel that waver that lets me know I could miss one at any moment and send everything crashing down around me.

I don't know if I mentioned it here, but I started a new job last week. I'm now a part-time librarian in the children's place at my public library, and I love it. I really do. I'm finally getting to the point where I'm being given actual projects instead of just learning the ropes, which is exciting but also stressful, especially because all my Horizon projects are starting to collide a little. Spring classes just started and are still settling in numbers. Every day it seems I have a new email with a student wanting to join late or shift classes or drop out, and keeping track of it all is a nightmare. On top of that, my one acts audition next week, so I'm frantically lining up directors and freaking out over finding rehearsal space and whether or not any kids are going to show up to audition. Plus, drama club is an ongoing project, at some point I have to figure out the educational half of the summer show, and oh yeah, I just got asked when I'm going to start putting together info for summer camps.

So yeah. If my hair puffed, puff levels would be high.

What I'm really missing about life pre-new-job was the freedom to set my own hours. I could shuffle things around as needed, and last minute scheduling switches weren't an issue. Now, though, my hours at the library are regulated for me, and while they're much more flexible about the schedule than most workplaces, it's still a drastic change from what I'm used to. Plus, I'm around people and constantly on my feet for five+ hours a day when I work, which is exhausting. I come home at 8:30 and all I want to do is collapse. And then I get into the loop of feeling like I'm not doing anything but working! The meeting I just got home from was the first time I'd seen friends outside my family and the boyfriend in a week. I want to go out, I want to spend time with my friends, but I'm just so drained at the end of the day.

But, I do love the work I'm doing, and I do love being busy, and I certainly feel productive, which is better than the alternative. So I'm getting by. And I just keep reminding myself to take deep breaths and invest in more post-its!

How are all of you?

Week 47: Stress Test

Sorry for the lack of topic post yesterday! Here 'tis, just a little late:

Let's talk stress levels. Where are yours? What, if anything, is making life a little anxious? Talking can help, so let it all out! And if you're not particularly stressed at the moment . . . what's your secret??

Friday, January 27, 2012

Christina didn't have the best balance as a child

Cassie: Hahahahah, I remember drawing on "non-drawable" things when I was young too. It was just so much more fun to draw on the speakers than on construction paper.

Alexandra: Come back to us!

Carlyn: Oh my gosh, car phones! I often forget about their existence and then am reminded every few years or so. Those were sure short-lived.

I think the strongest memory I have from my childhood is when I nearly cracked my head open. Cheery, I know. I was a big Winnie the Pooh fan when I was little (still am) and I'm was imitating Owl I'm pretty sure (I know I was pretending to be an owl at any rate). I was about two or three at the time. Well, while pretending to be an owl I was kneeling on the arm of the sofa, by the fireplace. What I remember of the experience is saying "Daddy, look!" as my dad was walking by with the laundry- and then falling backwards off the couch and hitting my head on the edge of the brick fireplace. My parents then of course rushed me very quickly to the hospital, ruining the spaghetti that they had been making for dinner. I remember my head being wrapped in a blanket (for the blood, if you wanted to know- and sorry if you didn't) and lying in my mom's lap as my dad drove us there. I don't remember anything after that, but I know I did end up getting stitches. I don't think my head actually cracked open, I'm pretty sure it was just the skin, I should ask my mom about that. Well, 20ish years later and I still have a scar on the back of my head underneath all my hair where no hair grows. So that, girls, is what happens when you pretend to be an owl. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday recalls her sister's birth

Christina: I love the story about your grandmother and her daughters! She sounds like a woman ahead of her time, and took her daughters along for the right. That’s so awesome.

Cassie: Your siblings are awesome.

My earliest memories!

My very, very earliest memory is of the car telephone my parents used to have in the 80’s-something Camry they had when I was a baby. This memory is vague, but it occurred before I was 18 months old, because we got rid of that phone when I turned that old.

My second-earliest memory is, much like Cassie’s, that of my sister’s birth when I was two and a half years old. I don’t remember much about it, apart from being in a very dark room, with a beam of light coming down from the ceiling to the hospital bed where my mother was laying, holding my brand new little sister. I climbed up on the bed—and that’s where my memory ends. There have been 20 years of memories of my sister since then, both good and bad, but that’s the first one I have.

And now, in the interests of time, that’s the end of my post for the week! Hope you are all doing well!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday was a clumsy child

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra - I second Christina's comment -- I like how in not having family stories, you end up with a cobbled together sort of story.

Carlyn - Your parents are adorable. Just sayin'.

Christina - Your mother and her sisters sound like my dad and his siblings, who used to sing two-part countermelodies in the car on long road trips.

And now, moving past stories about family and on to stories about ourselves, here we go.

My earliest memory is falling down the stairs. I was . . . maybe two? We were living in a house with one floor and a basement, and the stairs to the basement were covered in this thick, ugly orange shag carpeting, which is pretty much the only thing I remember about that house. It was summer, I believe, and I had just been given a popsicle, and I was heading down to the basement for some reason. My memory tells me it was the tornado sirens, but my parents tell me that's inaccurate. Anyway, something happened, and, being two, I fell. All the way down the staircase. Bouncing off each step. But! That popsicle? Not one bit of carpet fuzz on it. Two years old, and I knew my priorities. :)

My second earliest memory was the birth of my little brother. I actually wrote up the story for a children's literature class. Jeffrey was born six weeks before my third birthday. He was also six weeks premature. Doing the math, he was due just about at my birthday. So, I got it into my head that he was going to be my birthday present. And I wanted a sister. A sister would mean two against one on my older brother, plus it would be someone to play with and teach things to and all that jazz. Plus, hello, birthday present. I couldn't get a birthday present I didn't want, and I didn't want another brother. Been there, done that. So, when he was born, I went to hospital expecting a baby sister. So imagine my chagrin when the nurse brought ought this . . . boy. Actually, you don't have to. It's all cataloged in photographs. Me, beaming with excitement. Me, looking in puzzlement at the nurse. Me, glaring down at the bundle of baby I am holding. Ah, sibling love.

But the tale that gets told over and over at family functions is the one I alluded to last week. Backstory:

My cousin and I were both very imaginative and creative children. She was . . . slightly more mischievous, though, and a more forceful personality, so wherever she went, I followed. From an early age. When we were three, our aunt was married, and so the family rented cabins in New York for a week to help with all the preparations. Well, at one point, she and I were both inside our cabin and all the adults were elsewhere. My older brother was watching us, but not really because he was seven. Anyway, to make a long story short, I had markers, and she had a penchant for coloring on the walls. Putting two and two together . . . we colored on the walls. Of a rented cabin. With marker. My grandmother still, twenty years later, does not find this story amusing.

That's all I got for this week. I look forward to hearing your childhood tales!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week 46: Stories of Your Own

So, last week we talked about stories from our families. Well, this week, let's talk about some stories of our own. Possible options:

Earliest memory
First day of school
Birth of a sibling
That time you got into huge trouble doing that thing
That story that gets pulled out all the time at family functions

Anything else you'd care to recollect!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Christina's family is not so story-based

Cassie: I love both your family stories! The story of how your grandparents met is so just... adorable. And the holy water story is hilarious. They make me want to hear more family stories. :)

Alexandra: I totally understand not having much in the way of family stories, I point which I'll soon touch on...

Carlyn: Your story was funny and sweet! I also identify with it right now as I've been doing a lot of penny pinching (actually more like centime pinching) here in France as of late.

I alluded to the fact that my family doesn't have many stories, a hunch that I had when Cassie first announced this topic and which I now know after I struggled this week to think of stories to write about. We're pretty good on family history, I know where my grandparents came from, what they did, etc. But little family anecdotes? Not so much. There are a few little things I can think of, however, and I'll share those now.

-My mom used to play the cello when she was in high school and she likes to tell the little story of how, when her sisters and she were little (there are four of them total), they would get together, dress up like The Beatles, and pretend to put on a concert using their violins and cellos (they all played) as guitars. Pretty adorable, right? (Perhaps also a precursor to her daughter dressing up and pretending to be a student at Hogwarts... what?)

-My mom's mom (aka maternal grandmother, to use Cassie's wording!) raised four daughters at home, but also worked as a reporter for, I believe, The Hartford Courant. That may not be the paper, but it was one of the local Connecticut newspapers. She would go around town with my mom and aunts in tow, collecting stories, then write them up at home on a typewriter in between cooking and taking care of the kids (it was the 50s, so that housewife role was still in full force), and then hurry over to a bus stop where the driver would take her stories into town and deliver them by the deadline. My aunt has a newspaper clipping from when a story was written about her, showing her (with one of my aunts or my mom, I don't remember who) handing off an envelope full of stories to the bus driver. I never knew my maternal grandmother, so seeing that picture and hearing the story was really nice and helped me get more of a picture of her.

I have tried and failed to come up with a story from my dad's side of the family. There are little things like the fact that he was a very difficult child, something my grandma (his mom) would tell me a lot, but I never got any specific examples, just the general thought that he was difficult. The one story I can think of isn't the most happy. My dad is deaf in one ear and the story is of how he found out. They were doing those usual hearing tests at school and when he got home from school that day, he found his mom crying at the kitchen table because they'd called to tell her that he couldn't hear in one of his ears. Yupp, a real upper that story is. (He gets by just fine hearing out of his one ear, if you're wondering!)

I can not think of any other stories, so there we go for this week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday's story is cheap

Christina: It sounds like you are having a lovely time! Enjoy those sales : )

Cassie: Ben’s is awesome. As are your freaking adorable grandparents. Whom I can now claim to have met.

Alexandra: You seem to have a very storysome family, even if you don’t know the stories!

My family is also very storysome. We’re small (four in my immediate family, plus one grandma and minimal aunts/uncles/cousins), but our oral history is vast. It’s impossible to pick one story to call the best, so I will tell one about my parents and how very dirt poor they were when they got married.

One day, when they were maybe 22 and 24 (my parents got married pretty young [Mom was 21, so not as young as some in present company : ) ]), Mom and Dad realized they had 76 cents. This was a pretty big deal; they had not had spending money in a long time. So they decided to go out for dinner.

They went to McDonald’s, where a double cheeseburger cost 75 cents. They got one double cheeseburger and split it.

On their walk through the parking lot outside, they found a penny on the ground. Add that to the penny they had leftover from their lavish burger feast, and they had two cents! Enough to buy a Tootsie roll from the convenience store next door.

So they bought one Tootsie roll and cut it in half for dessert.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday... has a family, I guess

Reason I didn't post last week? I was in a haze of odd sleep schedules and no longer knew what day it was. Not really any other excuse there. You can punish me if you like.

Continuing, to say that I do not care about my family's history, genealogy, etc. is perhaps the world's grossest understatement. I do not know anyone outside of my pretty immediate family's names. I know my grandparents, my one aunt's, and her two sons. I know my father, mother, brother. It ends there. I have a great grandmother who, to my knowledge, is alive. But she could be dead, I wouldn't know. I have numerous great aunts and uncles and I can't remember any of their names. I think there is a John? That could be a lie. I don't know one of my grandmother's maiden names (Benoit maybe?) and the other I only know because it's hilarious (Hoare). I know my cousin's surname, but I probably wouldn't be able to spell it if one of them didn't post on Facebook six times a day.

So any family stories I have are... pieced together from vague memories or just first hand accounts. I seem to recall that I have a great aunt (Miriam? M-something, I think) who is quite notoriously unattractive. I remember a story being told about two men, one related to us, another not, who were talking about the most hideous woman they both knew, and by the end, they realized they were talking about the same woman. I have no idea who she is or what she looks like, so I cannot confirm or deny that. There is the classic story of my uncle Chris. My father, a right troublemaker, had so many parent-teacher conferences with Chris (his teacher... science, maybe? could've been math) that he ended up getting to know my dad's sister very well. Can never go wrong with a bit of a Hot for Teacher story, particularly if it ends in marriage. I know their son, my cousin Tom, does things just to scare his mother, like travelling to Calcutta.

I think my mother's side of the family is full of less pleasant characters. I know my great-grandmother walks all over my grandma. I know I've got a bunch of cousins once removed and great aunts my mother doesn't like. I seem to recall a story about a man with a missing arm. There was someone who was old and sick and curmudgeon who may or may not have been killed by his wife. I don't know how I am related to any of these people, their names, where they lived, who showed up for my mum's wedding and who was barely even in her life, let alone mine. I don't hold any real value to the fact that I share a mutual great-grandparent with somebody, so I suppose I never asked as a kid about anyone in my family. It just never mattered to me. I'd rather know about the lives of the people who cared to share it with me, be they my closer relatives or my friends.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday's great-grandfather was a heretic

Hello girls! It's Monday!

Carlyn - I am sorry for your puffy hair, but less sorry than I would be if you had continued to read The Book Thief. And don't try to pull the "Oh, I'm in grad school and I have so much work to do" line -- because it'll probably work. :)

Christina - Isn't it great to be a regular? The closest I've come to being a regular is at Ben Franklin's. I actually had one of the workers there ask me the other day how my show went last month, so that was nice.

On to the topic of the week!

So, as I said yesterday, and as I've mentioned before, my mother does a lot of genealogy, so much so that she has basically run out of her own family members, and my dad's family members, and so has started doing research on my uncle's family, an uncle related entirely by marriage.When my great-aunt was alive, Mom would drive up to see her at least once a month, both to check in and to get Aunt Muriel talking because she was the last of her generation, and so a generation's worth of stories would die with her.

So my mother is, in many ways, a collector of stories, and she's passed a lot of those stories down. Now, I could take this time to tell classic stories from my own childhood, such as the time I flooded my grandparents' bathroom with my cousin or the time I colored on the walls of a rented cabin with my cousin (actually, many of the most interesting stories from my childhood end with the phrase "with my cousin" -- and there's a reason), but rather than dwell on the embarrassing moments from when I was young, I think I'd rather share some tales of generations past.

To that end, I have two stories for you. One, the story of how my paternal grandparents met and married, and two, the story of how my maternal great-grandfather was a heretic.

Story one:

My paternal grandparents are 90 and 87 and have been married for 64 years, first of all. They are adorable and spry and like few 90 year olds you will meet. For example, for my grandmother's 90th birthday earlier this year, they took a cruise down the Danube River. Yes, that's in Europe. And my grandmother didn't want a lot of people to know because she felt it was extravagant.

But anyway, they've been married for 64 years and have 5 kids and 10 grandkids, and this past Christmas, we were told in wonderful detail the story of how they met.

They met in a Sunday school class in Indiana. My grandfather was in college post-WWII and my grandmother was working in a library in Fort Wayne. The class was about to begin when a member of the church brought a new student to the class last minute, a young lady named Emily, and to quote my grandfather, "she was a vision." She wore a bright yellow dress and white gloves, and it's the gloves that are the focal point of the story.

Grandpa was captivated, and for the next three weeks, he waited and waited for her return each Sunday to Sunday school, hoping that this week, the gloves would come off so he could see her bare hands. You see, he wanted to know whether or not he had a chance with her. But the gloves never came off, and so finally, he had to resort to tracking her down at the library where she worked during the week, where he could finally see that there was no ring. He immediately asked her out on a date.

Their first date was on August 3. On September 6, he proposed. And the next June, they were married. It's the kind of old-fashioned love story that makes me prematurely nostalgic.

Story Two:

This is one of my favorite family stories of all time, but I have to be careful the company I share it in, because many people would not find it funny.

When my great-grandfather on my mother's side was growing up, the Catholic priests would come to the town square periodically to do public baptisms. When they started to run low on holy water, they would pay the local boys a penny to run back to the church and fetch more. My great-grandfather was one of those boys.

Except that he very rarely felt like running all the way back to the church. So he would take the penny and the container, run back to his home, which was closer, and fill the container up with tap water and take that back to the priests.

Side note: I love hearing my mother the minister tell that story and laugh.

So those are two of my favorite family stories. What are yours?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week 45: Family Stories

The topic for the week:
This Christmas, my grandmother requested that my family do something we've never really done before. We all sat in the living room together one night and talked about the future and our ambitions and where we were in our lives. But we also asked my grandparents to share some stories about their past that we hadn't heard. I heard the tale of how my grandparents met for the first time, among other things.

Family stories are important. My mother is an amateur genealogist, and she's drilled this into my head often enough. Years from now, what will be recorded for the future genealogists to find will be names and dates and little else. It's up to us to pass the family stories down so that the future has a glimpse into what our lives were like.

I'm expounding. Basically, what are your old family stories, the amusing or romantic or mildly embarrassing tales that get told over and over? They can be about you or about generations past, but let's share some of those stories that show how human we are.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's going away for the weekend

Hello! I'm actually writing this post Thursday night because I'm going to be leaving tomorrow morning to spend the weekend in Lille with my friend Sarah who lives in Paris. She's never been to Lille and I haven't spent much time in Lille, so we're going to make a weekend of it! I'm excited to see the city and especially excited to spend the weekend in a hotel. I've always loved hotels. There's something very relaxing for me about not having to worry about the room. And generally the beds are bigger than the one I usually sleep in. :D

In France they have huge sales twice a year which are called Les Soldes ("The Sales"). The started this past Wednesday, a fact that Sarah and I had overlooked when we planned to be in Lille this weekend. It is going to be crazy. When I was there for the Christmas market in December you could hardly walk down the main roads, there were so many people. I can only imagine what it will be like with nearly every shop having blowout sales. Many of the shops here in Douai (a medium-sized town near Lille) are having 50% off sales, so I'm very excited to see the sales in Lille. I don't want to spend lots of money and I'm not the biggest fan of shopping, but I sure do love a good deal. (I can just hear friends reading this formulating jokes.)

I've been back in France for a little over a week now and things are going well now! The first six days or so were rough. First I was getting over jetlag which meant I was cranky about small things which seemed very big to me. A mix of jetlag and the angst of being separated again from family and friends is not a good combination, but after I got over that things very quickly started looking up. There's a café here in Douai called l'Equitable that I absolutely love and going there makes any day a great day. I've always wanted to be a regular at a coffee shop or café and now I can say I am! When I go in I know at least one person who's working there and I usually recognize some of the other customers too. L'Equitable is one of the things I'm really going to miss when I leave Douai. What else is new... Oh! In a break from my normal personality I went running yesterday. It was a really nice day (50 Fahrenheit or so) and I had a surplus of energy, so I did it and it was the first time I'd run outside and not felt like I was dying afterwards (I prefer running on treadmills). I felt really good afterwards; however, today it is so painful to walk. Anyway, I'm going to try to make it a habit to run or at least get exercise often. If the weather stays unseasonably warm like this that should make it easier. :)

Okay, I'm off to bed to get up early and head to Lille tomorrow, have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday's life is enjoyable, if not entirely exciting.

Christina: I’m sorry you’re feeling stalled! Maybe while you’re spending your stalling time in such a cool place, you can make some leeway figuring out what it is you really want to do with life! Also, Community rocks.

Cassie: To be frank, I haven’t continued reading… not because I don’t love it, but because I tend to be a bit lazy about such things. As soon as I remind myself how amazing it is, I’ll pick it back up : )

So, my life this week. Not a whole lot is going on. I’m back in my own apartment after being gone for three solid weeks (my cat is not letting me out of his sight), and while I wish I could bring all my important people with me, it is good to be back. I started classes with one on Monday, had another today, and have two more tomorrow.

Beyond that, I’m really not sure what to write about! So I guess I’ll tell you little things that are going on.

I quit biting my fingernails again (it happens about three times a year) and am in the midst of painting them a very pleasant turquoise.

My television is stuck on Comedy Central. I can turn it on and off and change the volume, but the channel is stuck. As I often have my TV on for background noise, this led me the other day to watch Jeff Dunham and his ventriloquism. I’m pretty sure I’ve told my talking Woody doll story at some point in the last months on this blog, but in case I didn’t, or in case you have forgotten, I will remind you that I have (or had, as this story will relay) automatonophobia, which is the fear of ventriloquist’s dummies. I have been slowly trying to get over this fear, and I was actually able to watch and enjoy Jeff Dunham. I rejoiced and promptly updated my Facebook status.

For some reason, my hair is really puffy today. I am less than thrilled.

That’s about all I can come up with! Hope all is well with you. Catch you all next week!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday met her goal!

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra - I've heard good things about the BBC's Sherlock, though I haven't seen it myself yet. I also completely relate to the boyfriend/husband standing over your shoulder as you play a game, telling you what you're doing wrong!

Carlyn - How goes the Book Thief?

Christina - I was three semesters into my education degree when I came to the same realization you have -- that a classroom was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. So I can understand your frustration with the next four months. That being said, soak up the experience of being overseas in every way that you can. You're lucky enough to be doing what so many people say they're going to do someday but never get around to. Enjoy France!

As for this JAB week, my life is much the same as always, plus a new job (I just got hired part time at my library) and a virus that's making me miserable (Worst words ever from a doctor: "It's viral. There's nothing we can do."), but I don't want to talk about any of that.

Instead, I'm going to do my 2011 Reading Wrap-Up that I never got around to. My goal was to read 125 books, a goal I met early in December, at which point, Chase challenged me to hit 150 by the end of the month. I did. Boy, was that exhausting! But anyway, here are my final totals:

Total books read: 150
New Books: 82
Rereads: 68
I looked online and I found an end of the year reading survey that I'm going to adapt to suit my purposes here, and for the sake of ease and fairness, I'm going to limit my answers to the new books I read last year.

Best Book: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Favorite Book: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Fire by Kristin Cashore
Most Interesting Book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?: 
Disappointing was probably The Extra Ordinary Princess by Carolyn Q Ebbitt -- It had such promise! It was a wonderful premise, but it was not executed well at all. Book I wish I loved more than I did, Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. It was fascinating, but so complicated. I just couldn't keep all his ideas in my head at once. I know it's a brilliant book; I just didn't enjoy reading it.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
I was pleasantly surprised by Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin. I was expecting some YA romance fluff, but it was actually very good and a lot more complex than I had anticipated. 

Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, as part of the Hunger Games trilogy.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson -- one of the best books of hers I've read thus far
The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Best series you discovered in 2011?
Hands down, the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?   
Eilis O'Neill, Polly Shulman, Ally Condie, Elizabeth Gaskell

Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Definitely Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene, a book about a young bride in a polygamous Mormon sect

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
Book you most anticipated in 2011?
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I know, I know. Also, To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper. Who gets to be 23 without having read those books, right?

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
From I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, one of the reasons I love him so much:
"There is a lot of folklore about equestrian statues, especially the ones with riders on them. There is said to be a code in the number and placement of the horse's hooves: If one of the horse's hooves is in the air, the rider was wounded in battle; two legs in the air means that the rider was killed in battle; three legs in the air indicates that the rider got lost on the way to the battle; and four legs in the air means that the sculptor was very, very clever. Five legs in the air means that there's probably at least one other horse standing behind the horse you're looking at; and the rider lying on the ground with his horse lying on top of him with all four legs in the air means that the rider was either a very incompetent horseman or owned a very bad-tempered horse."
Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Fire by Kristin Cashore will be reread, as will many that have sequels or next in series coming out this year: Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Heroes of Olympus books by Rick Riordan, and probably several others
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which gets mailed out tomorrow!!! Also The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, the sequel to Pegasus by Robin McKinley, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Reading Goal for 2012?
120 books for the year, 60 new. 
Here's to another year of reading! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week 44: Jab!

Well girls, it's another JAB week, and you know what that means!

Free topic time! Write about whatever captures your fancy! :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christina catches up

And I'm back! I'm sorry for missing last week's post, I was in my last days at home before returning to France. I was feeling stressed out and not-so-happy about leaving and wanted to spend all my time enjoying home, so I flaked. Punish me as you see fit! So, as you may have deduced, I'm back in France now. Now that I'm over my jetlag I'm feeling much better and less angsty, but I'm still looking forward to heading back home in four months. I don't dislike it here, but I've figured out that teaching is not what I want to do with my life and now that I know that, I feel a bit like I'm just wasting time doing it. Now that I know I don't want to teach, I'd like to move onto the next thing instead of having to continue with the thing-I-don't-hate-but-don't-love-either for the next four months. I feel like my life is... stalled for the moment? I think that's a pretty good way to describe it. Seeing all my friends and family also made me realize just how much I had missed them and now that I know that and I'm away again I miss them more. Waahhh waahh I live in France waahhh. I must be so annoying right now! I will say that something I love about this program is that I get to travel all over. I'm going to be in Amsterdam with my friend Beth at the beginning of February and am very excited to see her and visit a city which I've heard lots and lots about! Anyway, I just felt like giving a little update.

 Okay, moving on to the topics... relationships. Well, this is fairly short for me because I've only had two romantic relationships, one of which was official; the other was never actually labelled. My first boyfriend was in my freshman year of college. I knew starting off that it probably wasn't the greatest idea because we lived next to each other in our dorm... yep. Well, anyway, I suspected that he was interested in me when some people in our hall were all watching a movie together and I kept catching him looking at me. Then after the movie when we were all back in our own rooms he friend-requested me on facebook and my suspicions were all but confirmed. We started hanging out and talking and then he finally asked me out to a concert and dinner. It was all very nice but also quite awkward since it was the first date for both of us and neither of us really knew what we were doing. Well, progressing with the story, we ended up dating and then were "boyfriend/girlfriend." I realized at the time and especially looking back that I never liked him as you're supposed to when you're going on with someone. Okay, I was happy to hang out with him, but I wasn't infatuated and didn't have any of those crushy feelings like you're supposed to when you really like someone. I realize now it was really more of a relationship of convenience. I don't know how he feels now about the whole thing, but from my point of view it seems like neither of us had gone out with anyone before, we found someone we got along with and liked to a certain extent, and said "hey, why not." That relationship ended up lasting two whole months, at which point it just sort of non-violently imploded. We talked and still hung out  for a couple weeks after, but then just drifted apart and it became more and more awkward to talk until we stopped talking all together. I think I'm starting to hit ramble territory so I will hurry on to the second "relationship." I went a few years without going out with anyone else and then I dated one of my friend's old roommates for a couple months. It was very casual and I still really don't know what to call it, so I'll just say we dated. We would go to restaurants, the movies, hang out and watch tv, so I think dating is an accurate description. That "relationship" was actually, I think, much healthier than my first one. It wasn't awkward at all, we could talk and get along well, we liked many of the same things, and there were no expectations (living next to each other really does crazily raise expectations for a relationship). We dated for a couple months over the summer, but when it was time for him to move to New York for grad school and me to move to France, no one was heartbroken or anything. All in all, I enjoyed it a lot more than my first relationship (I actually liked him) and at the end of the day it was a good learning experience. Well, I hope you guys got something out of that because I feel like I just rambled for the past 40 or so lines.

I'm a fan of the list of random things that make me happy, so here are some things that come to mind at the moment:

-the family cottage in Connecticut and the campgrounds
-tomato, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil (aka caprese salad)
-hot tea
-novelty mugs
-the majority of the internet
-ice skating
-the winter Olympics
-Harry Potter
-seeing my friends and family (awwww)
-YouTube (I am pretty addicted)
-learning foreign languages
-speaking a language with little effort
-my hot water bottle

I hope you're all having a good weekend and I'll see read you next week.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This is a PhoneBlog

Hellooo! This is a little message being sent from my phone tell you that I am alive, just without internet. Okay my phone is starting to give me lots of trouble it apparently dos NOT like blogger, so I will go to the library tomorrow to actually post!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday is a bit of a people person

Cassie: I like Meghan’s Little Things too : ) And the story about how your grandparents met is ADORABLE. AND Book Thief is amazing.

Alexandra: The new Sherlock is wonderful!

And now for what makes me happy.

Most of it has to do with people.

My family makes me happy. We’ve already had a post on family, so I won’t go into detail now, but my parents and sister are the most wonderful foundation a person could ever hope to have. More extensively, my grandmother and aunts, uncles, and cousins are pretty awesome. My grandma is the only one I know well, but everyone else is fun too. (I also include my girlfriend in my idea of family. I don’t want to get all mushy, and she knows how I feel, but I love her immensely.)

I love getting to know other people, too. I enjoy my friends, old and new. I love maintaining friendships (though goodness knows I could use some work at it) and building new ones.

In terms of my own personhood, I really like getting to know myself better and understanding where I fit in the world. Right now, that means developing facets of myself to become a better counselor, daughter, sister, and girlfriend (in no particular order, of course).

I like lots of other things, too, of course. But it’s the people that make me happiest.

That’s all for now! I hope everyone is having a great 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday is Sherlocked

I am a woman of the internet. I played computer games like Fatty Bear, Putt Putt, Flight Simulator, and the perhaps ill-advised on my parent's part Wolfenstein 3D before my I was three. I learned how to get past every attempt my father made at keeping me from my computer as punishment before I was out of elementary school, and I was well aware of the 'Clear History' button by the time I was out of my preteens.

As such, I have far greater a connection with perhaps the distant than I do the things closer to me. I never played sports except in gym, and I only enjoyed a couple of them. As much as I enjoy board games, I find them highly impractical due to the necessity of another human being. And for all that I love to write and to cook and my pathetic recent attempts at knitting, ultimately I consider this productive endeavors as opposed to entirely pleasurable ones (though I daresay I love them dearly). No, I need the distance to really have fun. Writing is in a way my job, cooking is something I do for the gain of getting food and feeding my husband. Playing video games or watching movies, however, is purely a selfish and useless endeavor, and that more than anything makes me happy.

Obviously the specifics of fandom will vary depending on my mood. In my youth, nothing more would make me happy than a good chat about Harry Potter (I still love this, of course) or discussing the merits of a Pokemon team. I've gone through many fandoms, some lingering strongly in my heart while others have faded into little more than nostalgia. I could not discuss them all, so I guess I'll just have to say that there's something holding my heart and my smile up high.

Sherlock. BBC's, to be specific. Now, I love Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.'s fantastic portrayals of the characters of Sherlock and Watson, and the recent movie's addition of Stephen Fry - the greatest man alive - does not hurt the fact that I am madly in love with Sherlock as a fictional entity. But between the movies (particularly Asylum's baffling rip off of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock, which includes dinosaurs and a steampunk!Iron Man), the books, the radio dramas, and previous television adaptations, nothing has ever pulled me into fandom fever like the BBC's modern day adaptation.

Right now, any smile on my face is because of Martin Freeman or Benedict Cumberbatch. Or, you know, my husband. I think that's kind of a given? Not much else to say there. I'm happiest just disconnected from responsibility or obligation of any sort, and ultimately that means books, movies, games, whatever it may be. I think I should say that I appreciate solitude in games. I don't like playing games with my husband around, particularly because he's much better at most of them. Unless it's a silly game, like Lego Harry Potter, I just kind of feel awkward playing them with him watching and giving commentary and telling me what I should be doing. I also generally avoid multiplayer unless it's just a bunch of strangers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday is made happy by many things

Hello, girls! It's Monday!

Alexandra - I'm happy to hear that your marriage is going so well! And between you and me, "traditional" romance is overrated. I hope your honeymoon was lovely!

Carlyn - Oh, dear. Oh, dear. I remember those awkward adolescent dances . . . I wonder what Jerry is up to now . . .

Now, onto the topic of happiness!

So, if you Stumble around the internet long enough, you'll happen upon this quote:

"When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life."

Cheesy as it is, I've always like that quote. I'm a firm believer in the idea that a financially successful future and emotionally successful future are not the same thing. In other words, it's more important for me to find a way to do the things I love from day to day than it is to be paid well and make a lot of money, which is why I have a degree in theatre (though, you know, if it's possible to snag both, I'm gonna go for that option. Another quote you'll find on the internet is "Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable." Just saying).

But while happiness in the grand scheme of life is certainly a goal for my future, I've also learned to appreciate the fine art of being happy in the little things. My friend Meghan has had an ongoing project on Facebook for at least the past year that I really like. Her only status updates are the "Little Things" in life that make her happy at any given moment. She's on 384 or something like that, and those updates always bring a smile to my face. So for this post, I thought I'd imitate that idea. Here goes.

Cassie's Little Things

- a full tray of perfectly dipped chocolates
- a ten-minute West Wing quote explosion with my older brother
- sitting around singing Christmas carols with my family in my grandparents' living room
- "I used to live in a telephone booth, a telephone booth and that's the truth!"
- romantic stories about how my grandparents met
- pinky promises sworn via text message
- mulled cider and Maurice and Friday night movie nights
- The Princess Bride
- a well-adapted fairy tale
- cast iron skillets and hand mixers
- How I Met Your Mother and Neil Patrick Harris
- popcorn with cinnamon-sugar
- moments of silliness that no one will believe happened
- sharing my favorite books with someone reading them for the first time
- The Book Thief
- stories that make me cry
- writing something that is powerful and meaningful enough to make someone else cry
- completing a five grid, interlocking, sodominoku puzzle after a week's work
- sitting with my dad while he teaches me how to solve the puzzles in his Games Magazine
- sharing director's horror stories with my dad, knowing that he completely understands
- watching a show I've directed come together for the first time
- hearing my students say that what I've been teaching them is what they want to do for the rest of their lives
- being hugged on the sidewalk by eight-year-olds
- having a two-year-old fall asleep on my shoulder
- spending time looking at the world through a child's eyes
- Easter morning on the big hill outside of Hayesville
- My mother's Christmas Eve service
- Being read to by my parents
- Knowing that no matter where I end up or what I end up doing, I'll always have family to come back to.

And so many more.

Happy New Year, girls.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week 43: The Seed of Happiness

This week's topic: What makes you happiest? (This could be people, activities, places, anything!)

I look forward to hearing from you!