Monday, May 15, 2017

Life Update

It's been a whirlwind of a which I haven't blogged once. Not that that comes as a shock to anyone.

Bailey is now just about a year old, and goes by many names: BC (Bailey Cat or Bad Cat, depending on the day), Trouble, Menace, Hooligan, and Bully are the most common. He's all kinds of ridiculous and crazy, but he also still loves to cuddle and make sure you know he's there.

I started Grad School, but am currently taking a break due to other developments which I will get into next. I've also begun a credentialing program.

Most notably, though, I am preparing to MOVE. You heard it right, people, this girl is finally moving out on her own. And the most exciting part is that I'm moving 1000 miles away. Yep. To a new state. Texas. Getting out of the desert! (Except I'm moving to another desert so does it really count?) That credentialing program I mentioned? Yeah. It's for Texas, and that's also why I'm taking the break from Grad School. Once I have my credential and have established residency, then I'll go back and finish. I'm so excited, y'all. This is a huge and scary adventure, but it also feels so right and beautiful. Being in an LDR is not for the faint of heart, nor would I recommend it. But the LD part will be gone for good in 17 days.

I cannot wait for this new chapter of life. It's certainly going to be an adventure, and there will more than likely be times that I want to run back home to the time when everything was cheaper and easier, but that's okay. That's how this is supposed to work, isn't it? So here. We. Go.

Joshua 1:9 ESV
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Friday, June 10, 2016

A New Addition

So, I accidentally adopted a kitten this week...

It all started on Monday, when I I was cleaning out my classroom, doing all of the end of the year things a teacher is responsible for. I heard the most pitiful sounding "Mew" from somewhere, and intentionally didn't go looking for it. I'm a sucker for baby animals of any description, and cats are definitely my weakest of all weaknesses. But then, as I was driving off to grab lunch, I caught a glimpse of it and vowed then and there that I would take it when I got back if nobody else had.

Nobody else had.

I gathered up the little squirmy ball of fluff and took him back to my room while trying to decide what exactly I was going to do. First things first: get this boy to the vet; figure out how sick he might be. We ended up at 4 different vets--the first was closed, the second couldn't get us in until four, the third couldn't get us in until the following evening, and the fourth vet wasn't even in. So we settled for the 4:00. The vet confirmed that he had some worms, but all things considered, he was a pretty healthy 3-4 week old Bengal mix. I didn't intend to keep him. I put some posts out on social media hoping someone would be willing to give him a home.

No one did.

By Wednesday, I was in love with him and very much regretting my decision to bring him home in the first place. But what was done was done. On Thursday, I went back to the vet to pick up some medicine for him, and here we are. Friday. And my family is one animal larger.

Meet Bailey.

Bailey likes running, jumping, climbing, playing, and other cats...specifically their tails. He is a skilled user of teeth and claws, and I'm already dreaming of the day that he outgrows the violent kitten stage. My fingers and furniture are anxiously awaiting that time. But for now, this is where we are, and where we are looks pretty dang adorable.

Monday, April 11, 2016

[Book Review] Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083

Surviving Antarctica [Andrea White]
Rating: 2/5

I picked this book up when I found myself subbing for two weeks. I jumped into chapter 21 with the students and was very confused, as one is wont to be when starting from the middle. So I went back to the beginning to catch up. 

The whole time, I was plagued with mixed feelings. The concept of this book is cool: a dystopian society that selected 5 kids to reenact an expedition through Antarctica? Yes. Good. I'm on board. However, the execution of the story left a lot to be desired. Two of the characters were entirely indistinguishable from each other until the last 30 pages or so, and I didn't connect with any of them at all. 
The gravity of the kids' situation is never really delved into...there are so many scenes that could be catastrophic, but just peter out after a page or two. I found the writing be dull; I understand that it is written for a young audience, but the vocabulary really could have been improved significantly. 

My biggest issue with the book, though, came with the resolution of the story. It just ends. As a reader, I felt let down. I won't give things away, but the end was supremely unsatisfying in my estimation. Things wrapped up far too nicely, and the way it concluded brought up bigger questions about how the plot progressed as a whole. It created more plot holes than it filled. For me, the resolution killed any positive impression I had of this book. 

Honestly, I'm so disappointed that this is required reading for a class. This is one of those books that I feel will turn the kids off to reading, simply because the story isn't as well thought out as it could have been. 

Overall, I was underwhelmed.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

[Book Review] Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice [Jane Austen]
Rating: 5/5

I wanted so badly to not like Pride and Prejudice, or at the very least, be underwhelmed by it. Prior to reading this, my exposure to the story included 5 or 6 failed attempts to read it, one viewing of the Kiera Knightly version of the film roughly 10 years ago, and three viewings of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. But all that aside, I sat down a week ago and decided to give it another shot...mostly because I couldn't justify reading PPZ when I hadn't yet read the original. It was a means to an end, really.

I didn't expect to fall so in love with it. I really didn't. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I didn't expect to fall in love with Mr. Darcy (mostly because he's basically the human version of a cat. I love cats.) I didn't expect to be thoroughly amused by Mr. Bennet, and let's be honest, he's probably my favorite character in the book. I didn't expect to be so mad at Lydia and Wickham so often. I didn't expect to care so much, but here I sit, yet another girl that is completely sucked in to the beauty of this story.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't grinning like an idiot through most of the book. Seriously, my cheeks hurt. It's absurd. I get why so many people love this story. I feel like I'm cheating on Persuasion, which has held the place of my favorite Austen novel for five years. Whether P&P has actually replaced it remains to be seen. I'd have to give Persuasion another read to be able to make that final claim, but it's certainly a very close second at the least.  I'm sad that it took me so long to read it, but I'm excited to spend the foreseeable future on the Pride and Prejudice bandwagon.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Real Life

Guys. I graduated from college. And now I'm a "real adult".

I don't feel like a real adult, or like I've joined "real life". What does that feel like? What does that even mean? I always assumed I would feel like an adult when I got to college, because in my perfect Mind Palace, I moved out when I went to school. But we all know that didn't happen, so I did some shifting and decided I would feel like an adult when I started a "real job". Then I spent last summer working in a grocery store. It could be considered a real job, but again, what does that even mean? And I still didn't feel any different. So I figured that it would all start to make sense when I graduated. Surely that would make me a "real adult" in "real life", especially if I got a "real job". Well, here I am. Graduated, working for Parks and Rec, with a teaching position to commence in August, and a coaching position to commence on Monday. Yet even here, at this point in my life, I don't feel like a real adult. It would be so easy for me to say, "oh, when I move out. THEN I'll be a real adult. 100%" But somehow, I think it won't feel like it will be then, either. So here's the conclusion I've come to: There's no determining factor that makes you an official grown up, and real life has been happening all along. Adult things happen, like getting a job, graduating college, paying your own bills, getting married, etc., but there is no exact formula. It just kind of...happens. And maybe it hasn't happened to me. Maybe it never will. Maybe I'll never wake up and realize that adulthood has finally begun. Maybe I'll spend the rest of my life just floundering, pretending like I know what I'm doing. And maybe that's okay, because life is about learning. But that also doesn't mean that the life I've lived up to now has been invalid.

When I sat down to write this post, I had a very different direction in mind. I was going to gush about my recent accomplishment, the amazing way in which God has lined everything up for me, and how excited I am to start this new phase of my life. Because it all happened, and it's all true. God has blessed me in incredible ways these past few months, and I am so excited for the road ahead. But the fears and concerns are very real too, and as much as I try to keep it hidden, they're always just under the surface waiting to bubble over. I'm scared because I'm a part of this "real world", and I feel so out of place. In a recent conversation* with a very dear friend, it was brought up that "people are so focused on the illusion of 'settled' that they forget to let the newcomers in on the secret that nobody actually knows what's going on".

So this is me, explicitly stating that I have no idea what I'm doing with my future, and that is okay, because I'm going to figure it out. I'm continuing in real life, armed with the all-knowing God of the Universe, the wisdom of my elders, and How to Adult YouTube videos.

*and by recent I mean it happened while I was writing this blog post...

Matthew 6:34 ESV "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

[Book Review] Human Croquet

Human Croquet [Kate Atkinson]
Rating: 5/5
I originally gave Human Croquet a 4/5, but now that I've been removed from it for about a week and have had time to mull it over a little, I've bumped it up.

I had to read this book for a class, and I knew absolutely nothing about it going in. I'd never heard of either the book or the author. When it arrived in the mail, all I could focus on was how whimsical and fun the cover looked. Then I read the synopsis on the back. The first line says, "Part fairy tale, part mystery, part coming-of-age novel, this is the story of Isobel Fairfax, a girl growing up in Lythe, a typical 1960's British suburb."

I'm not going to go into too much about the plot, because I think not knowing about it adds to the fun of it. 

That being said, there is so much to consider in this book. It literally has a little bit of everything: fairy tale references, Shakespeare, time travel, alien conspiracy theories, disappearances, a general air of mystery, etc. It also deals with a LOT of bigger issues such as domestic violence, kidnapping, prostitution, and death. Like I said: literally everything. There was a lot more depth to this novel than I anticipated. It also is one of the most spectacularly written books I've read. As  I was going through it, I spent most of the time being really frustrated because I wasn't every exactly sure what was going on, and I had no clue how it was all going to work out. I also wasn't convinced that I was going to get closure in the end. Then, after I finished it, I still couldn't articulate my feelings about it or what happened. But even though I was as frustrated and confused as I was, I was still in love with the book and characters. I still cared about what was going on. Lots of conflicting feelings. All the time.

It's one of those books that needs to be read twice. The first time, so you can get the basics of the story, and then a second time, so you can see exactly where certain things are mentioned and how it all ties together. Human Croquet is quite brilliantly written, especially when you take the time to go back and see how/where Atkinson sets things up, because it is subtle. There were several tiny and seemingly insignificant details from the first 50 pages of the book that result in much greater plot points towards the end. It's fantastic!! 

This book is so much fun, and kind of all over the place, but it is an awesome experience. Especially if you like weird, down-the-rabbit-hole sorts of tales. (Seriously, there are SO MANY references to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. So many.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

[Book Review] Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire [Anne Rice]
Rating: 3.5/5
I was really excited to start this book. It's been sitting on my shelf for four years or so, and I finally decided it was time to sink my teeth into it. (See what I did there? HA!)*

Overall, I enjoyed it. That is to say, I enjoyed the plot and the things that Rice focuses on through the lens of the narrator and protagonist, Louis. Perhaps my favorite theme throughout  the story is that of perspective. Like any good story from a vampire's perspective, there is a relatively high regard for mortal life and a displeasure towards the necessary evil of his dietary habits. Beyond that, however, Rice uses Louis to comment on the value of humanity (despite our frequent failure to see it), the nature of change, and how the two work hand in hand. It is through his immortality that he begins to appreciate life, and he "condemn[ed] all fruitless guilt and passion that would let it slip through the fingers like sand". He also comes to realize that the only thing that is constant is change. There is a conversation near the end of the book that really hones in on this: the desire for immortality comes from a desire to remain forever in the time that is known--not taking into consideration the inevitable changes that come.
I also really enjoy Rice's writing style. There were times that she phrased things in really cool ways. There were awesome little tidbits scattered throughout the novel, and they made me pause and think for a while, which I enjoyed. The downside of that was the novel didn't move nearly as quickly as I had anticipated it to.  

Unfortunately, I was generally disappointed in the characters. There were none that I was overly fond of, either good or bad. I appreciated Louis and his perspective on things, particularly in contrast to Lestat, his companion. Lestat is the summation of the stereotypical vampire, and there isn't much depth to him, particularly in the light that Louis paints him. I really think that both Louis and Lestat could have been significantly more dynamic. Claudia was by far my favorite character. She possesses some of the insight that Louis exudes, while being simultaneously the ruthless predator that Lestat is. Her struggles are of a different nature than Louis', and they aren't developed near to the extent that his are, yet I found myself more intrigued by her than either Louis or Lestat. I felt that she possesses a depth that the other characters didn't.

As a reader, I care more about the depth and development of the characters than I do about the plot. I think I would have enjoyed this book far more if I were the other way around. The story was excellent, but I didn't relate to the characters on the level I would have liked. That being said, I would still  highly recommend Interview with the Vampire.

*Okay. I should apologize. That really was terrible.