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Monday, August 17, 2015

Maggie's Monday Music (40)

Let's make Mondays slightly less dreadful.

So today is the first day of this semester's classes. Chances are, as you're reading this, I'm avoiding eye contact with my professor because I walked into class ten minutes late.


The one thing about first days is there's always so much potential. I've yet to get a horrible grade on anything. I've yet to FREAK OUT because I remember I have an assignment due in half an hour with no computer nearby. Who knows! Maybe my future husband is sitting three seats down from me! Doubt it! But there's still a chance.

Or at least that's what I try to keep in mind as I stumble around, full-on zombie mode, praying we get out early so I can pick up some dang coffee. 

8AMs are hard, man.

At least I know I can enjoy some good tunes on the way there.

(Cocoon; Catfish And The Bottlemen)

(Carry Your Throne; Jon Bellion)

(Blame It On Me; George Ezra)

Don't let this week scare you. Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

P.S. I Still Love You (by Jenny Han)

About the Book:
Lara Jean didn't expect to really fall for Peter. They were just pretending. Until they weren't. And now Lara Jean has to learn what it's like to be in a real relationship and not just a make-believe one.

But when another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean's feelings for him suddenly return too.

Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? Lara Jean is about to find out that falling in love is the easy part.

My Thoughts:
I've been a big fan of Jenny Han for as long as I can remember. Her SUMMER books still top my list, and when I read TO ALL THE BOYS, I was happy to find I fell in love with Lara Jean and her crew, too. The last story of her other series was a little disappointing, though, so I was nervous to read this one since it was the final of the pair.

I want to say overall, I was very happy with this book.

P.S. carries on almost immediately after the first book. In fact, we still have a chunk of the whole beginning to get through before Lara Jean and Peter are in the same room. This I didn't mind, though it did build quite the anticipation for a rather quick reunion. The story explores Lara Jean and her time learning how to be more selfless and trusting while in a relationship. And how to be, you know, like, in a relationship.

But it's deeper than that. Which is the point.

I love the characters in these books. I love Lara Jean, because in a lot of ways, I was her in high school--quiet, nervous, sort of selfish. (I'm still all of those things! Sigh.) Her inexperience and confusion in how to handle suddenly being committed to someone else and their feelings and opinions felt very true to her personality. She's quiet, but she's herself, and she's rather secure in that aspect. Suddenly she's got this boy she really likes, who she's only been fake dating? And now they forreal like each other? Suddenly she's got this real thing happening between them, and she's hyper-aware of it, and she doesn't know how to handle it.

Bring in John. John is the second boy mentioned in the jacket summary of this story. WHAT. A. BABE. He's super hot, he's super confident, and he's super kind. He's brought in when Peter and Lara Jean's relationship starts to get bumpy.

Here's the part that ruined me from completely loving this book. In the same way the last story of the SUMMER series felt like a boy-choice-cop-out, I felt like Han almost invited John in purely to give Peter a reason to fight harder for Lara Jean. And I get it--it's kind of how high school relationships really work. But, again, I felt like the way the story was going throughout the novel, and the way the novel ended just didn't fit. I don't want to say I'm disappointed in it like I was with her other series' ending, but I felt unsatisfied and a little confused.

Other than that, I loved the story! (I know--kind of a switch from how I've been talking.) The way Han creates such a real family dynamic with Lara Jean and her sisters and dad is wonderful. (You know me. I'm a sucker for family.) I want more books just so I see how her family turns out! Does Dad start dating? Will Margot come home with a serious boyfriend, or Kitty make up with her friend? Will the new pup learn any tricks?? I'm so invested in her family, which made me feel right at home in the story.

And also, shout out to Stormy. I want nothing more than to be her when I'm older! If you read the book for anything, let it be her crazy personality.

Overall, I think a lot of my complaining spurs from the fact that Han made me fall in love with a boy, only to choose a different one. You can decide which is which for yourself, and if Lara made the best decision! Otherwise the story was wonderful, and I'm glad to have it accompany the rest of Jenny Han's stories on my bookshelf.

Friday, August 7, 2015

a post about knowing nothing

I don't want to sound like a lame-o fakey, but here's the deal: I'm overwhelmed. And listen to this: The last time I was blogging with a decent bit of knowledge was four or five YEARS ago. Truly. TRULY.

That's such a long time! Literally about a quarter of my life! And I don't know how so much time passed. Since then, lots of things have changed.

Well, duh.

But I mean I don't feel like things have changed, and they obviously have.

On twitter a few nights ago I was having a bit of a crisis about where I stand in terms of bookishness and blogging. Basically how I feel like an impostor. You see, for me, it feels like when I took a break from blogging and reading religiously, the rest of the world must have, too. And they didn't.

Again, duh.

So the books that were new when I was still in the game still feel new to me. And I still feel like I'm in the know about new authors and stories, when in reality I can't tell you more than a couple of books that have come out recently, and they're written by authors I already love.

Blogging, too, is the same way. What's popular in blogging is different than it was those few years ago. The people I followed are now talking about different things, or the same things but in hugely different ways. And I'm still writing my posts like a 2010 sixteen-year-old, except even more awkwardly because I'm still trying to get back into the swing of it all.

Suffice to say, I'm clueless. I'm going to try to catch up to present day, y'all, but it's going to take me a while. In the meantime, I'm going to start picking up books and reviewing them. I won't know if they're new, but they'll be new to me, bringing everything back to my reoccurring theme of finding it again.

Is this what it's like to get older? Am I gonna feel this way in ten years when I still feel hip and cool and will so totally not be? Maybe I shouldn't tease my mom so much...

(Kidding! My mom's awesome. And I've never been on top of what's been cool at any given time, so who am I even playing at.)

Do you have any good stories that you think I've missed out on? Trends--books included--happen so fast on the internet there's no way I can try to catch up if not for doing the hard work and finding out what's good for myself. If you've got a suggestion, please, let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Maggie's Monday Music (39)

Let's make Mondays slightly less dreadful.

1. My tastes are varied.
2. Yes, I found the Isakov song from a car commercial.
3. Natalie Dormer (!!!)

(Here; Alessia Care)

(Someone New; Hozier)

(River; Leon Bridges)

(Time Will Tell; Gregory Alan Isakov)

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

leftovers for dinner, aka my writing


The word itself is an aesthetic, honestly. I instantly picture a nicely structured organization of colors, patterns, photos. The older I get, the more I appreciate people and their use of design to make something beautiful, unique, and interesting. I've always been envious of those who can create a nice set of images. Those instagrams that are all succulents and neon signs and simple phrases and, like, white? I'm so friggin' into those. 

Feeling like I'm constantly in a tornado of chaos, I have never been able to master this art of design. I'm too messy, to begin with. I don't have the patience to think an image through. I have a very flighty personality, so I get obsessive over different things constantly. I'm too inconsistent to be so consistent. It kills me.

I think you can usually pull a kind of "aestheticism" out of a person's writing, too. Except in writing it's called your voice, and it isn't always so distinct as a visual form can be. 

When you look at my room, you'll notice a mess of things, all of these more than likely spurred by some aesthetic that I tried to mirror and instantly failed--but that I've made my own. I have photos and a map of Paris. I have framed pictures of animals and trees. I have my shelf of books, with an assortment of doodads. Above my desk are a bunch of fangirl posters of Supernatural and The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. I have dying succulents on my television stand. There are a ton of the same, like, three photos of my animals in a multitude of frames scattered about.

(This is my aesthetic. Coffee stuff and dog stuff, simplified.)

In my writing, depending on the project, you'll see my attempt at different voices, different ways of writing, inspired by that same need to mimic those I admire. Inadvertently, after reading a Maggie Stiefvater or Jandy Nelson book, my writing takes on a not-so-greatly executed form of poetics. Sometimes I focus on different aspects of a book, like how I try and fail to make beautiful settings a la Kirsten Hubbard or Lucy Christopher.

They all obviously turn out bad. They aren't me.

I'm a mess, but a simple mess. Despite my mismatched room, it all fits in a homey kind of way. Not too cluttered or I get overwhelmed. My writing, I think, it the same. When I haven't been trying to copy someone else's way of writing, I've been told by various people that my voice is distinct. I'm not good at flowery language. I can't move someone with a sentence, or make someone swoony with a setting. But I'm decent at simple humor. I can make someone feel comfortable with my characters.

I can't keep a succulent alive to save my life (which is so ridiculous! they're supposed to be easy!), I can't figure out how to make myself fashionable. But people generally feel comfortable when they enter my space. And my writing is easy going and at least vaguely entertaining, if only to myself.

I've never been able to accomplish the kind of organization and design that I admire from others. I can't pull off anything fancy or cool. But at least I'm myself in my mess, and that's all I can really hope for. It's taken a lot of practice and morphing of others' talents to get me where I am at this particular point.

I used to talk about a person's voice in their writing all the time on here, because I've always felt like voice is such a huge aspect in a novel. It's the voice someone is drawn to and sticks with. Even with different characters in different stories, you can always seem to pinpoint that sometimes unexplainable voice of the author hidden between the words.

I don't know what you would call mine. A dinner made out of previously delicious leftovers in the fridge?

Something like that, probably.

(Even now, thinking too hard about it, I'm becoming overly aware of how this post is even being written. Yikes.)

Do you have any tips for perfecting your writing voice? Or how to make my dumb plants stop wilting? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maggie's Monday Music (38)

Let's try to make Mondays slightly less dreadful.

For the next few days my big butt will be planted in an innertube floating down a river. I love floating! Yes, I'll be consistently paranoid a snake will slither my way or nonexistent leeches will attach themselves to my little feetsies. But it'll be fine! I'll be fine! Rivers are safe!

Sort of. It has been raining a lot here lately...

Have at some songs, y'all.

(Fast Lane; Rationale)

(Runaway, Aurora)

(Saeglopur; Sigur Ros)
I've loved Sigur Ros for a long time, but I'd be lying if I said the finale of Sense8 didn't get me listening again.

Have a great week! I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

lizards, and keeping true to a story

April 1st, baby Wicket, day 1 of our adventure.

At the beginning of April this year, I bought a baby bearded dragon.

Now, I'm a worrier. I have issues with anxiety, which leads me to be super obsessive when it comes to making almost any decision. The other day I spent ten minutes working myself into a tizzy trying to decide if I wanted to get a blue ice bucket or a distressed silver one. The blue is prettier and more fun but the silver has that shabby chic thing going for it! The decisions! (this bucket is now my dragon's bathtub! and I chose blue.)

I spent weeks of my freetime researching bearded dragons. I watched youtube videos. I read care sheets. I researched set up costs, and what foods they can eat when they're little and what foods they eat when they're big and what to do if they choke on a roach and how to treat yellow fungus. Every possible situation a lizard could have in its lifetime, I researched it.

Bearded dragons are popular reptile pets because they're so laid back. It's rare they bite. Mostly they're just curious little scaly-butts who will sit in the sunlight and are scared of birds flying past the window. Being a reptile lover, I was ecstatic to be getting my own lizard best friend. Because we were, one hundred and three percent, going to be best friends.

Flash forward to now. I spent hundreds of dollars on his set up. I've invested a lot of time and money and effort into this tiny beardie baby.

And we are not best friends.

Teeny tiny dangling feetsies.

I love him more than anything. He is my baby butthead. But he is, in fact, my baby butthead. He's small and a lizard, and so he doesn't like to be held for long. I have to chase him around his enclosure to take him out. He's realized if he sits still in my hand long enough, I'll trust him, and then he can dart from my fingers while I'm off my guard. I recently spent forty dollars on different feeder bugs because he was going on a food strike. He's the biggest punk of all time. Totally not the lazy, loving lizard I was expecting.

Like I said, I adore him more than anything. He's got so much spunk and personality, it'd be impossible not to. But I realized my problem about a month after I got him: I was expecting him to act like a mammal. I expected a type of cuddle and strong bonding relationship as I raised him practically from birth (he was very, very tiny when I first got him).

But he's a bearded dragon. And as sweet as they can be, they are reptiles. They understand comfort and security and food. They do not understand emotions. They aren't dogs, who form emotional bonds. They are lizards, who appreciate your care, but do not want to lick your face out of love.

As much as I was hoping my bearded dragon would act like a species outside of himself, I couldn't change him. No matter how many worms I feed him or how dope I make his enclosure, he will never love me the way I love him. I've come to terms with this, and it's made our relationship much better!

Me and my growing potato.

Why am I telling you all of this? You can't change your story either.

I've discussed how I wasn't capturing emotion in my writing before. Well, the same goes for trying to pull emotion from something that doesn't fit. In my creative writing classes at school, we're told to write a very specific type of literary fiction. And as hard as I try, I just... can't. Not well, at least. I'm not capable of writing about a man going through a midlife crisis after a separation from his wife unless something crazy has happened. Did he leave his wife because she was turned into a zombie in a post-apocalypic setting? Because I can do that. But I can't suffer through a man's emotions and make it feel true without a reason I've been able to create and understand. I can't sympathize with a man who cheated on his wife and regrets it, but I can one who cheated on his wife and then regrets it because he couldn't apologize to her before she went all undead on his ass.

Stories need to be organic. You can have an idea given to you and work from it. But you can't have an idea forced onto you. Each writer thinks differently. This is great! Books would be awful if everyone thought the same way and wrote about the same things! But you can't write a story that isn't your story. You can't force a character's life and expect it to turn out well. In the end, you'll only be disappointed.

Is your scene not working out? Try a different angle! Maybe what you think you want isn't really what you need. I thought I wanted a lizard who would sit on my shoulder and snuggle my neck. And I'm sure when he's older and settles down, we'll get to that point. But I'm so much happier with my fiesty baby who puffs up at his bugs and tests his boundries.

You'd be surprised what a little lack of control can get you. Which, coming from the biggest control freak in town, is saying something.