Spring Favorites

With posts about my fall, winter, Christmas, and now spring favorites, there’s only one season left to do. Summer’s warm weather will be upon us soon, but for now let’s focus on SPRING and everything it has to offer!

As always, I hope this post gets you thinking about what it is you most appreciate about the seasons!

books.

I started reading Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series in April 2014… yeah, I loved it so much I remember the date that specifically! I know the later books are quite dark + violent, but I will forever associate this series with the brilliantly sunny days of early spring.

Jacqueline Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is another book that reminds me of spring, although this has less to do with when I read it and more with the subject + setting: It’s about nature and evolution and Charles Darwin! So naturally I think of spring, when everything that lay dormant during the bitterly cold winter begins to grow and flourish once again.

Finally, I think of The Raven Boys and its sequels by Maggie Stiefvater, since the first book opens on April twenty-fourth – AKA St. Mark’s Eve. I don’t know anything at all about St. Mark but I think of this series, its wonderful characters, and the fictional town of Henrietta, VA every time this date comes around!

movies.

Not quite sure why, but spring brings to mind Lord of the Rings. Do I associate spring with the luxurious green of the Shire? Or does it have something to do with my almost-obsessive tendency to keep track of dates that feature prominently in my favorite stories? I love to trace the progress of the Fellowship from my birthday on September 22nd – yeah, I share it with Frodo and Bilbo! – to March twenty-fifth, when the One Ring is finally destroyed.

tv.

Doctor Who, honestly. I first got into the show in the spring of… 2013? 2014? Somewhere around there. And several of the recent seasons have come out in the spring. I don’t know. My main TV-watching times are the summer or winter, tbh, because that’s when I have the most time to catch up on shows.

music.

I associate Hayley Kiyoko’s EP Citrine with the fall because that’s when it was released and I first heard it, but the track “Palace” makes me imagine a cute springtime wlw romance. Reminds me of sunshine and daydreaming and lazy afternoons spent lying on the grass in a park!

food.

Plastic Easter eggs filled with candy! My family isn’t religious, so to us the holiday is more about making yummy food and maybe inviting a few friends or relatives over. When I think of Easter, I also think of ham, which we often eat on that day.

clothes.

More than anything, I think of making a trip or two into town to buy new clothes during spring break. But this is also the time of year when I slowly begin wearing sweaters less often and put on shorts far too early. (Which is always a bad idea, because then my friends have to listen to me complaining about BEING COLD.)

activities.

I absolutely adore going for walks in the springtime. I love seeing how the grass gradually becomes more green as the weeks go by. And the smell of damp earth… it’s one of the most comforting scents I know. When I come across it, I understand what people mean when they say that life begins again in the spring and I get real emotional, no lie. 

memories.

I will never forget meeting Alison Bechdel when she visited my town in April 2016! She autographed my copy of Fun Home (and drew a lil doodle of herself!) while I said something unintelligent in a probably-squeaky voice because I was super nervous.

I also fondly remember the Literary Retellings & Impersonations writing workshop I took last spring. I made so many great friends there, read some truly amazing books, and produced some of my best pieces of writing yet! It didn’t hurt that the professor was incredible, too.

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What are your spring favorites? Be sure to tell me in the comments below OR write your very own post about your favorite spring-related things! I don’t mind at all if you steal this idea; in fact it would make me super happy.

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An Update On My Classes | Group Presentations, Cardi B, & STRESSING TF OUT (!)

Hi, everyone! I haven’t been very active here lately… I’ve been either sick, dealing with a bad bout of mental health, or super freaking BUSY with a kazillion end-of-semester responsibilities.

But I made time for a quick update. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately!

Diversity & Power in the US

Currently hard at work on a partner presentation about Moonlight! How many school projects can one person possibly do about that movie, you ask? THE LIMIT DOES NOT EXIST. This is an introductory-level course, so we’re keeping things pretty basic with a discussion of quantity vs. quality of representation, intersectionality, et cetera. The whole class will vote on their favorite presentation and whoever wins gets a prize… fingers crossed that it’s me!

Women in Premodern East Asian Literature

It’s smooth sailing from here on out: All I’ve got to do is keep on top of my readings, take the final quiz, make some minor edits to a creative writing assignment, and type up a reflection essay about what I learned in the course. We’ve already completed the bulk of the work and there is no final exam in this course, so now I just have to hang in there!

Women & Their Bodies in Health & Illness

Really gonna miss this class! I have a six-page paper due next Thursday that I haven’t even begun to think about, so I should probably get on that ASAP. And then it’s just a matter of showing up to the final few class sessions for a discussion of that day’s assigned reading…

Transnational Feminism

Working on a group presentation in this class, too. We decided to research the prison-industrial complex. Each member can either read and annotate three scholarly articles or read a book on their group’s subject, so I picked The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I’d like to say I chose it solely because it provides an overview of our topic, but I also picked it because I’m sick of searching for scholarly articles to use in assignments!

Also, it’s on my 2018 TBR list anyway, sooooo…

Music Journalism

The final article is due a few weeks from now and I still have no idea what I’m going to write about. We have to interview at least one person and every time I think I have a good idea, I get stuck because I don’t know how I would ever get them to agree to it when they have so many other demands on their time.

Never fear, I’ll figure something out. Always have, always will.

In the meantime, we’ve been asked to review Cardi B’s latest album before class on Thursday, so I’m planning to give that a listen tomorrow!

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How is your semester going so far? What have you been up to this April? (Are you as ready for school to be over as I am?!)

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The Cheer All Year Tag

Why, hello there! Today’s tag is taken from Oakstar @ An Amazing Case of Wanderlust! This tag was originally created in 2015 to spread cheer during that year and it seems almost impossible that so much time should have passed already. I graduated high school in 2015 and soon, now that we’re in 2018, I will begin my senior year of college. WHAT EVEN.

Anyway, I try so hard to be grateful for all the little things that cheer me up in one way or another, so this tag is right up my alley. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

What is something that cheers you up when you’re blue? Why? 

Music! Not a unique response at all, I’m afraid, but I’m trying to be honest here, not original. I have a variety of Spotify playlists, mostly ones I’ve made myself, that I love listening to if I’m having a bad day. Queen fixes everything, did you know?

What objects make you feel cheery?

Thick sweaters. Letters from friends & family. Cats. Photos of long-ago happy times. Tea and hot chocolate. Crazy socks. Skittles. Books both beloved and as-yet unread.

What do you do to cheer others up?

I love hugging or cuddling with people – as long as they’re OK with it, of course! If they’re not, or if they live far away, I’ll text them or send them wholesome memes. (I have a giant and ever-growing stash on my phone, cobbled together from various wholesome meme pages I follow on Facebook.)

And sometimes, crankiness is due to low blood sugar, or is exacerbated by it, so I’ll encourage my friends to EAT A GODDAMN MEAL PLS. My roommate and I often eat dinner together and talk after one or both of us has had a bad day.

Who cheers you up the most?

My mom is one of the first people I turn to when I’m feeling down. She always texts me good morning and gives good advice when I call her to complain about all my problems.

My best friend, Jill, is also one of the cheeriest people I know. In fact, she is my role model for what truly positive and supportive friendships can be, and I work hard to emulate her! She’s studying abroad this semester and aaaah I miss her hugs so much.

What is the most cheerful time of year for you?

Hmmm… early fall, perhaps? When the leaves are just beginning to turn colors, the weather is cool but not cold, and school isn’t stressing me out yet. Plus, my birthday is in the early fall – the first day of the season, as a matter of fact!

What is something that happened recently that made you feel cheery?

[This is a scheduled post because I don’t have time to blog regularly during the semester anymore . As such, the Happening mentioned below took place in December when this post was written lmao sorry it’s not more recent.]

I’ve been cheery quite a lot lately, actually, but one event that sticks in my mind is making pancakes with my friend Clarissa when she came over to my house. Our breakfast turned out beautifully and we were laughing so hard at all sorts of little inside jokes and things!

What books or movies cheer you up?

Books:

  • Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Frindle by Andrew Clements

Movies:

  • Miss Congeniality
  • Imagine Me & You
  • The Little Prince
  • Moana

What is the #1 thing that makes you feel cheerful?

Sunshine. Although my depression is year-round, one of the times it worsens is during the winter and I wonder if the increased hours of darkness is partially to blame. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 is to spend more time outside; I’ve been trying to go for lots of walks and take my books outside with me to read so I can get some sun!

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I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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Based on what I’ve discussed here, are there any objects, hobbies, et cetera that you would recommend for those times when I need a little cheering up? Thanks!

P.S. Please remember that if you’re ever feeling blue and just need someone to talk to, I’m always here! Me and my memes.

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National Poetry Month 2018 | Days 1-5

This April, I’m reading one poem per day to celebrate National Poetry Month! I asked you for recommendations, compiled a list of the most promising-sounding works, and have been having great fun with this project ever since! This is the first of what will eventually be six updates, with my thoughts about the most recent five poems I’ve read in each post.

Enjoy!

4/1

To The New Year

W.S. Merwin

Such a beautiful piece, but if I’m honest it left me feeling more than a little melancholy! The poem itself seems to have this stillness + silence that you don’t want to break. With spring just getting underway, this was a great way to kick off National Poetry Month.

4/2

Buffalo Dusk

Carl Sandburg

Another somber poem! I feel like I’ve heard a lot about this one so I have no idea how this is my first time reading it! Definitely a lot shorter than I expected.

4/3

Culture and the Universe

Simon J. Ortiz

An incredible, though brief, musing on what it means to be human. The line “we are measured by vastness beyond ourselves” made shivers run down my spine. I’ll have to check out more of this guy’s work!

4/4

There Will Come Soft Rains

Sarah Teasdale

Every poem I’ve read so far is sad yet beautiful… this is an especially timely one. Now I just need to read Ray Bradbury’s story based on this poem!

4/5

Ocean of Forms

Rabindranath Tagore

If I’m honest I don’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about here, so I’ll definitely have to do some research! But I loved the language he uses + the way this poem flows. This is my first time reading his work after meaning to for a very, very long time…

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Have you read any of the poems mentioned here, or any by the same authors? Do you have any recommendations for further reading for me based on these works – a sort of “if you liked that, try this” thing? And how are you celebrating National Poetry Month?

P.S. I apologize for the delay in posting this… as the end of the semester approaches I’m more and more busy + tired, so today was the earliest I could get around to writing this post! Hope you don’t mind.

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Review: Everyone’s A Aliebn When Ur A Aliebn Too

Here is the unforgettable story of Jomny, an alien sent to study Earth. Always feeling apart, even among his species, Jomny feels at home for the first time among the earthlings he meets.

How do I review this book? To say that something “defies categorization” is a cliche and yet Everyone’s A Aliebn When Ur A Aliebn Too really does.

Part graphic novel, part science fiction, it reminds me a bit of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.

There seems to be a distinct message about mental health + happiness, too. It’s more philosophical than you may think at first glance.

There are puns. And misspellings. And conversations that don’t lead anywhere and resume again at the oddest of times.

It’s about creating art and making friends and understanding that things change.

It’s about the understandings Jomny comes to with the most unlikely creatures and the misunderstandings that occur in the most unlikely situations.

It contains a depth only the the most childlike books possess.

It’s bittersweet: Adorable, yet sad at the same time.

It’s nihilism + optimism.

It’s beautiful.

And quiet.

If I’ve already, somehow, convinced you to pick it up, then that’s great. But if you’re looking at it right now thinking “no way,” then I promise that you are exactly the sort of person who needs this book the most.

It’s a book to heal your soul, is what it is.

I want a copy for myself, but first I want to buy copies for all my friends.

This is the kind of book you almost want to intentionally lose in a train station or cafe somewhere, so someone else will discover it.

Reading it will make you more human – or humabn, as Jomny would say.

Rating: 4/5

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Review: The Sleeper And The Spindle

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems.

Thus far, my exposure to Neil Gaiman’s works has come through his children’s books: The Graveyard Book, Coraline, and now The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Like his others, this is a delicious, twisted little book. I wish I had nieces and nephews or cousins young enough to still enjoy being reading to! (I mean, reading aloud is – should – be for everyone, but unfortunately so many people forget that and think it’s just for babies… sigh. #Englishmajorproblems)

I’m suddenly tempted to see if the public library has any volunteer read-aloud programs I could sign up for, but on the other hand is it really worth the risk of having boogers wiped on me?

I’m picky about picture books. Sure, there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but there’s also stuff that should have never seen the light of day. The very best picture books can be enjoyed by adults as well as children: In fact, they may be appreciated even more by adults than by children, who may not pick up on all the nuances someone older would.

This is one such book.

Combining elements from “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” The Sleeper and the Spindle is beautifully constructed. It’s not quite a retelling, but its fairy tale influences are far too strong to go unnoticed, either. From Gaiman’s wonderful way with words to Riddell’s gorgeous yet eerie line drawings, this book is a feast for the senses.

Between the gloriously creepy atmosphere and the fact that all the main characters are women, this really reminded me of Maleficent… my favorite live action Disney movie. The queen leaves her husband on their wedding day to rescue a princess! And wears beautiful, badass armor!

When this book was published back in 2014 there was a big fuss about it potentially have LGBTQ+ characters, but that rumor wound up amounting to nothing. The queen does kiss the princess, but it’s definitely a motherly smooch. Which is fine. I’d love more stories about wlw royalty, but Gaiman didn’t tease us by promising there would be any romance either.

So. The plot twist at the end. I don’t want to give it away and ruin the book for anyone, so let’s just say that I did not see that coming. At. All. It was perfect! If I’d read this as a little kid I would’ve totally shrieked and run to hide under my bed.

Rating: 4/5

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The Anything But Books Tag

Steeeeealing this tag from Bianca @ The Ultimate Fangirl! As much as I adore books, I think it’s equally important to show my love for all the other things that occupy my free time (and occasionally my I’m-supposed-to-be-working-right-now time)!

Enjoy!

What is a cartoon you love?

I’m going to cheat like a CHEATING CHEATER and name an anime instead. Last year’s roommate got me into the genre… admittedly, I’ve still watched very few shows, but one I particularly enjoyed was Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (田中くんはいつもけだるげ Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge), a gently humorous slice of life anime based on a manga. It tells the story of two high school students – Tanaka, who is perpetually lazy, and Ohta, his much more responsible friend. I only wish there were more than one season!

What is your favorite song right now?

I would be very impressed indeed if anyone who’s ever done this tag managed to name just one song, right off the bat, without having to give it any thought. I spent forever trying to figure this out and I’ll have to go with “Sleepover” by Hayley Kiyoko because I’m a giant lesbean!

What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

You all already know that I love to write – wow, what gave it away? the blog? – but I’m going to list it here anyway because GODDAMN I LOVE IT SO MUCH. While I refuse to decide which activity I enjoy more, reading or writing, both constantly occupy my mind and I’ve often lost track of time doing either!

What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

My family lives not too far from the Indiana Dunes at the bottom tip of Lake Michigan, so we go there fairly often. I love to pick up unusual or beautiful stones while walking along the edge of the water! I don’t have a collection per se, but the variety I’ve found is amazing. Sometimes I spot beach glass, too!

What is your unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

I love learning new tips and tricks for school from the studyblr community (as well as studytube and studygram)! I’m always finding different ways to be organized, productive, and motivated. What did I even do before I had studyblr?

What is something unusual you know how to do?

I once took a quiz that told me I read 300% faster than the average adult… can I count that here? Since this is the anything but books tag? Screw it, I’m going to. Once I actually make myself focus, I can zoom through pages like nobody’s business.

Name something you’ve made in the last year.

Uhhhhh, how about a recipe? My mom and I made two kinds of peppermint bark this past Christmas – dark chocolate and white chocolate. Both tasted delicious and were super easy to make! For as much as I love cooking, I don’t spend nearly enough time doing it. I really need to make more time for it when I’m home from school on breaks.

What is your most recent personal project?

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start journaling, since I have an abundance of notebooks that have remained empty for years. I’m quite enjoying myself so far; it’s been great fun to spend time writing something by hand rather than on a computer!

Tell us something you think about often.

I think a lot about how Irish (Gaelic) appears to have neither rhyme nor reason to its structure, let alone its pronunciation. The longer I was in Ireland, the more confused I became.

Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

How about my favorite clade* of dinosaur? The most exciting one I learned about in my Age of Dinosaurs course last semester was maniraptora, from which birds are descended. They’re fuckin badass, with adaptations that allowed them to maintain a stable grip on struggling prey. (Basically, they had special bones limiting rotation at the wrist and enhancing movement of the arm.) Plus, they’re the only dinosaurian clade alive today. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. GOD SAVE OUR SOULS.

*A group of organisms believed to have evolved from a common ancestor

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I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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What’s the latest thing, OTHER than a book, that has you obsessed lately?

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