Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Summer!

I thought that this looked pretty summer-y :)
Last night, I packed up my things in an assortment of boxes and bags and laundry baskets.  My dorm room was the cleanest it's ever been in the history of ever.  Seriously, that place has been scrubbed from top to bottom.  My dad and I loaded up my things into the car (one trip!  Woo!  Or at least it would have been had I not needed to come back for check-out and later to retrieve food that I had forgotten) and drove the (comparatively) short distance home.

Today, I left my house around noon to return to campus for my anthropology final (the last one of the semester).  Two hours of writing later, I am finished.  I have successfully completed my second semester of college!  So now, I'm halfway through my sophomore year (because of the credits I brought with me from high school).

I don't know what to say.

This past year has been the most emotional school year by far.  High school was never like this.  Never has balance been more critical to achieve, even partially.  I have been challenged on several fronts this past year and I've managed to survive them all this time around.

A second year is in my future, but for now, I'm going to settle just a little bit.  I have one class this summer and I'm working as an on-campus gardener!  I'm definitely going to be busy and it's going to be wonderful.

Happy Summer to you and good luck with finals if there is anyone left that fits into this category!

Thanks for Reading!


Monday, May 13, 2013

A Review of 'Why We Broke Up' by Daniel Handler

"This is the box, Ed.

Inside is everything.

Two bottle caps,
a movie ticket from Greta in the Wild,
a note from you,
a box of matches,
your protractor,
Joan's book,
the stolen sugar,
a toy truck,
those ugly earrings,
a comb from the motel,
and the rest of it.

This is it, Ed.

The whole story of why we broke up."

If you're familiar with Lemony Snicket, this will be a wonderful and slightly different read for you (if you didn't know, Daniel Handler and Lemony Snicket are the same person)!

This is such a beautiful book and I'm so glad that I have a copy of my own!  I loved everything about it.  The weight of the entire book, the glossy pages, the beautiful yet seemingly simplistic illustrations, the format of the story...

I'm in love with the concept of a break-up letter (hmm...).  I've never had to write one, much less break up with anyone.  It's really sad to see something like a relationship fall apart, but sometimes it is inevitable.  I can't decide if Min and Ed's relationship was destined to fail or not.  There were glimpses of both angles to this argument.  Min and Ed came from totally opposite worlds and neither seemed willing to share in the other's worlds.  Min hated attending basketball games, watching sweaty men run up and down the court.  Ed hated sitting in dark theaters for hours watching obscure foreign films.

Actually, I can't blame Min... basketball games sound awful... this coming from a person who has a hard time caring about sports of any kind.

In any case, I thought each of the characters was well-written and interacted with the other characters in interesting ways.  Min was definitely a good choice for the narrator, however, I'm wondering what this story would be like from Ed's perspective.  What would it be like for him to leave and be left by this really great girl and then have all of the things that this girl ever associated with you returned?

This book was quite an experience and I'm really glad that I have a copy of my own.

If you're looking for a love-story, a heart-breaking story, and something a bit simple, this would be a good book for you!

I give 'Why We Broke Up':
Thanks for Reading!


Monday, May 6, 2013

A Review of 'Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens' by Kathy Belge and Mark Bieschke

"Teen life is hard enough with all of the pressures kids face, but for teens who are LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), it's even harder.  When do you decide to come out?  To whom?  Will your friends accept you?  And how on earth do you meet people to date?

Queer is a humorous, engaging, and honest guide that helps LGBT teens come out to friends and family, navigate their new LGBT social life, figure out if a crush is also queer, and rise up against bigotry and homophobia.

Queer also includes personal stories from the authors and sidebars on queer history.  It's a must-read for any teen who thinks they might be queer-- or knows someone who is."

In an attempt to read more non-fiction, I came across this book, not really sure what to expect.  But it's quite great!

This book goes through just about everything.  Figuring out whether or not you're queer, what 'queer' means as far as definitions go (because it's often used as an insult, and that's not the case in this book) as well as what it means for a person to be queer, tips on coming out to friends and family, handling bigotry, getting involved with the LGBT community, advice on sexuality and dating... it's a very good starter's guide, I think.  But for teens who are discovering their gender and sexual identities, a starter's guide is most immediately needed rather than the expert's opinion in-depth.

The language in this book was simple, but I don't feel like it was simple in a demeaning, "insult to my intelligence" kind of way.  It was to-the-point.

I like that this book lays out options for those who read this book.  Of course the author's have their own viewpoint, and when it matters, they give it.  For example, when talking about sexuality, they really push safe sex, but they don't say that sex is absolutely where you need to end up.  It made being LGBT feel open to a variety of different pathways.  What I mean is that, if someone who is attracted to women just wants to get to know her and do other couple-y things, she can do just that.  Gender roles aren't defined, the couple needs to figure that out for themselves.

This struck me as a really cool thing!

If you are struggling with your sexual or gender identity, this is a great book to check out!

I give 'Queer':
Thanks for Reading!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

College Adventures: Thinking About the Future Again--Study Abroad

In about a year and a half, I am planning on embarking on one of the biggest challenges and adventures I think I will ever experience.  I will study abroad in the Netherlands, hopefully living in Leiden (check the map).

This trip is so far away, but I get waves of longing to be over there, even though I've never visited the country.  I don't know the language (Dutch) or really any history, but there's nothing like complete cultural and linguistic immersion!  Right?

I've been thinking about it, and this trip could potentially be a 5-6 country trip.  The tentative plan is that my family will fly across the Atlantic with me around Christmas and we'll spend some time in France, visiting our family friends, the Dhermands, and if possible, the other girl we hosted, Clementine.  Maybe even the family who hosted me a little over a year ago, though this may be a little bit of a challenge.  I haven't really spoken French with anyone since that time (I've been trying to write letters in order to keep up my French language skills).  French club will be a must next year!  It has to be.  Besides the fact that I haven't spoken French in a while, my sister is proficient in Spanish, my mom knows a handful of words and phrases, and my dad... I think he took German in high school.  The family who hosted me knows bits and pieces of English, though my host sister was excellent at consoling my homesickness in English, which I greatly appreciated.

My mom was talking about visiting England and/or Ireland, but I haven't heard anything more about this plan.  So who knows!

My boyfriend, as a reward for graduating high school will be visiting Germany for a week (?) three years after his graduation.  He would have traveled there last summer, but once he found that I was planning on studying abroad, he wanted to be able to see me before he wouldn't see me for three or four months.  So while he's spending time in Germany, I'll come and visit him.

After spending time with my family and my boyfriend, I will truly be on my own until I make friends at my college in the Netherlands.  The college that I'm looking to apply to for a semester is for international students (it's really strange thinking of myself as an international student, because I've never really been one of those before).

If all goes well during the application process, I will be living in Leiden.  My understanding is that it's a University town, which could be fun!  It's much smaller than the city I'm used to living in.  Any way, while I'm here, I'll have a two week Dutch language learning intensive course and then school will start (I might keep up Dutch for the semester... it sounds really neat!  A cross between English and German.  It's actually sounds kind of cute).

Because we're a school of international students, it's rumored on the website that there's usually a three day excursion to Belgium, so I'll probably be headed there, which will be great!

I still have a spring break while I'm there, so during that time, I really want to make the journey to Poland so that I can visit Warsaw, Krakow, and see Auschwitz with my own eyes.

I've got a lot of saving to do and tons of extra planning, but I think it will be so worth it!  I am very excited!

Thanks for Reading!