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.

A New Thing

Happy New Year! This is the time that people sit down and reflect on the past 365 days, and resolve to make changes. I'm not a huge fan of resolutions, but I do like fresh starts. I'm a huge fan of fresh starts, actually. It's why I love the first day of school, New Year celebrations, cracking open a new book, coming home from a vacation, and all that jazz. This is my "fresh start" to my blog.

If you know me at all, then you are well aware of the fact that I enjoy reading from time to time. I mean, I'm the kind of girl who selects a purse based on whether or not I can fit a book in it. (Hence my refusal to use a clutch in the rare event that that's a viable option.) Anyway, I'm always in the middle of one book or another, and I've come to the realization that I'd like to talk about them upon their conclusion. So, I'm going to start reviewing some of them as I go along. In a perfect world, I'd aspire to review all of them, but we all know that I'm bad at keeping up with things like this. These aren't going to be super in-depth reviews; they're just going to be a way for me to sort out what I like/dislike about a book, so that I have a record of my thoughts should I ever choose to revisit them.

I'm hoping that in doing this I will not only create this record of my scattered and fleeting thoughts, but that it will also make me visit my blog with a bit more regularity. Again, if you've been here before, you know that that's a thing I've wanted for the past two years.

My Goodreads goal for this year is 50 books. Within that, I hope to read at least 12 classics, and also expand my horizons a bit, generally speaking. I found a reading challenge that has 50 books on it, but it isn't specific books. It is more along the lines of suggestions (a Pulitzer Prize winner, something set in the future, a book with a one word title, etc), most of which will help with the diversifying of my reading habits. So we will see how that goes. There is also a challenge floating around the internet known as #0by16, and the purpose of this is to get your TBR stack down to zero by 2016. Ideally, I'd accomplish this, but I think that's more than I can chew at this point in time. If I get my 50 down, though, that will help tremendously. 

So there you have it. My sort-of resolution that isn't really a resolution. Books. Discussions. Excitement. Huzzah!