Thursday, August 29, 2013

Self Improvement

At the start of every semester, I get really ambitious. I start thinking of all of the ways I will stay super organized and on top of my game. I write to do lists and make fun charts (See example A.). However, it usually gets to the third week of school for me to start falling apart. I generally stay on top of things that are due, but my to do lists fall apart and I forget to check my planner when I'm, you know.. planning things.

Example A. My binders for this semester. Color coded.

So I thought, maybe, just maybe, if I put down my goals in a public forum, I will be required to have some accountability. Even if it is just feeling incredibly guilty for letting all of you down in failing to go work out that one morning when I'm just so sleepy.

So.. ta da! My life list:

Short Term Goal One: 4.0 GPA

Of course, this is always my main goal, and about half way through the semester, I have to decide if I'm going to commit fully to a course or if I'm just going to pray for the best and hang out with my friends instead. In the past, friends always win. (I love you guys!) However, this semester, my classes don't seem too difficult AND I have a totally bad ass job that lets me do things like homework (and blog posts) in my spare time. So fingers crossed that this gets done.

Short Term Goal Two: Be Healthy!

Ok, I'll admit it. I am really REALLY bad at this one. I generally despise vegetables and my body hates exercise. But, I've been feeling my age. And when you are 24, feeling old is NOT a good sign. So, I resolve to eat better (which isn't a stretch considering marshmallows and frozen pizza are main staples of my diet), cut out the Coke (eventually.. it will taking some weaning.), and exercise at least 3 times a week (hey, I'm being realistic here.). To go along with this, I'll have to cut vending machine food out of my diet too... It's just so tempting to get that candy bar when you're on campus for 9 hours a day.

Short Term Goal Three: Clean Living

It's so easy to come home at 9 pm and crash. Let's face it. No one likes cleaning. And if you do, well you are more than welcome to take my portion of it so I can, you know... live life or something. But, I've also noticed that when my apartment is a mess, my life is a mess. So my third resolution is to keep my apartment, car, and workspace clean and tidy. I'm moving in a couple of weeks (YAY!), so I'll be able to declutter and reorganize everything to make it efficient and easy to keep up.

Now those goals are lifestyle changes that I can make now that will hopefully impact my future success. I do have a couple of (fun!) long term goals that I would like to achieve within the upcoming years. Because I am an academic person (nerd.), I love learning new things, and I've quickly come to realize that some of our most valuable learning doesn't occur in the classroom, but rather, what we go out and find on our own. Here are a few of my goals!

Long Term Goal One: Get a Ph.D.

Not only are the caps and gowns really cool looking, but it's also really cool to be a Dr. Although I'm not a hundred percent sure what I would like to get my Ph.D. in, I'm know that I one day want to add this to my list of accomplishments.

Long Term Goal Two: Learn Spanish

This kind of goes with Long Term Goal One. Most of the doctoral programs that I have been researching require applicants to be proficient in a second language. Plus, I kind of feel lame that 50% of the world is bilingual and I've only mastered one language. Luckily, my lovely cousin Stephanie is fluent in Spanish and can teach me everything she knows! (Um, right Steph? You could do that for me, your favorite cousin?)

Long Term Goal Three: Learn to Sew

Sewing is like.. the first job women in America had. But somehow along the way, I missed out on a core woman skill... sewing a button. Sigh. Thanks to my grandmother, I do know how to cross stitch, but, thanks to Pinterest, I would really like to learn to do handy things like hem pants, as well as fun things like sew pillows. Luckily, when Steph needs a break from teaching me Spanish, she can help me learn how to use her sewing machine! (Right, Steph? Who needs grad school anyway?)

Long Term Goal Four: Learn Techy Things

This is, by far, my most ambitious. More ambitious than learning Spanish? Yes. More ambitious than a Ph.D.? Quite possibly. One day, I would love to understand computers. I would like to know how to fix something if it breaks without having to call the tech guy every 5 minutes, and I would love to know HTML to design a website (or fancy blog!). Sadly, this one will probably get put on the backburner for a while until after I'm finished with grad school. MBA has enough math and numbers for me to deal with.

(As I was writing this whole thing, I ate a salad! One step closer to achieving my goals!)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Throwback to MySpace

So I've been super incredibly bored this week. In addition to pinning a thousand different crafts and annoying the crap out of my book club on Facebook with articles that I found (like this one and this one and this one and this one), I've been working to find blogs that I want to start following. I started using Feedly to keep track of different blogs and YouTube channels that I am following. I'm still not 100% sure how I like it (the app is awesome, but I'm not a huge fan of the actual website version).

However, while browsing aimlessly, I came across this amazing blogger, Jamie, at Perpetual Page Turner. Seriously in love with this blog. It has interesting articles about new things happening on the book scene, as well as novel reviews. Plus, she loves YA Fiction, just like I do.

On Friday, she posted this cool blog post that sent me back to 2006 and MySpace! So it's Survey Time: Book Edition!


Cutest Couple
Of course, I have to give it to Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. How could I not?

Class Clown
Chip "The Colonel" Martin from Looking for Alaska by John Green. Everyone loves a practical joker!

Most Annoying
Holden frickin' Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger... Could he get any more angsty and hypocritical?

Most Likely to be Friends Forever
Charlie, Sam, and Patrick from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky

Most Likely to Have their own Reality Show
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Most Unique
Tender Branson from Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk... Unique = Crazy in this case.

Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
Got to give this to Jun Do from The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson considering he survived wars, tortures, and a shark bite.

Most Gullible

Mrs. de Winter from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. That's what you get for marrying a man after knowing him for a few weeks.

Most Likely to Break Your Heart
I'm going to make this one a tie between Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska by John Green and Lady Brett Ashley from The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. Two very different books, but the characters are strangely similar, and definitely have broken hearts in their time.

Most Changed
Craig Gilner from It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Most Likely to Get Arrested
Bernadette from Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Best Person to Bring Home to Mom and Dad

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Have you ever met a bigger suckup to parents?


(Note: I tried not to use the same book twice in this category, and trust me, it was difficult not to put TFiOS for everything!)

Most Likely to Make You Cry

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson has the best character growth I've ever read AND it WILL make you cry.

Dares to be Different
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. Written starting on page 300something and counting down to one. Different!

Best Dressed (Prettiest Cover!)
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Beautiful book, beautiful cover.

Never Saw It Coming
There are so many that come to mind, but I'll say Little Bee by Chris Cleave was a book I picked up on a discount rack at BN and it shocked me.

Loveliest Prose
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Seriously one of the best written books (and best translated to movie) I've read/seen.

Most Likely to Change the World
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher really affected me. It may not change the entire world, but it certainly made me rethink how I treat people.

Most Likely to be Put Off Reading

 The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This is the only novel I have attempted to read on multiple occasions and FAILED. Oh, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. I just couldn't get into the translated English. Blehhhh.

Most Likely to be Christmas Gifts for Everyone You Know
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Most Likely to be Thrown
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and I'm so so so sad about that.

Most Likely to be Reread More than Once
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Giver by Lois Lowry. I love dystopian/utopian society books and these are two books that I find something new in every time I read them.

Most Likely to Keep You Reading Through an Earthquake
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I was able to sit in my apartment in NYC on vacation for 5 hours at a time reading because I. Just. Couldn't. Stop.

Most Likely to be Passed on to Your Children
Harry Potter, of course.

Most Likely to Break Your Heart into a Million Pieces
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because it ends and it would be better if it never ended. Ever.

Most Likely to Brighten Up Your Day
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. Even though this novel deals with a pretty heavy topic (stress-induced depression), it is hilarious. The characters are witty and different.

What do you think? Any that I missed way off of the mark?

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Nerdiest Moments

"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." - William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

I am a book nerd. Period. It's a way that I truly define myself, and I believe I am a more open, a more tolerant, and a more educated person because I read. While I do indulge in a chick lit book every now and then, my true loves are books that make you think deeper about yourself and the world around you.

This summer, I did not get to read nearly as often as I wanted to. Alas, working a full time job and taking night classes on the side burdens the schedule. (Alas is one of my favorite words I learned from a book. Dumbledore taught it to me!)

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it." - Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

However, I did get to read two very interesting, very different books this summer that I feel may leave a lasting impression on me well into my life. They are books that I probably will not recommend to anyone, and yet, they are books that I continue to come back to and consider even after I've finished them.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The first one (and the one I am most likely to recommend) is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. The novel follows the journey of an old man across England. One morning, his every day routine gets interrupted by a letter from an old coworker stating that she has cancer and is dying. When he walks to the mailbox to mail a response, he ends up walking past his mailbox, down the street, and across England to see her. Throughout his journey, Harold reveals things about his past, his son, his wife, and his future.  He learns about himself and he inspires others. While the novel has very little plot (other than him walking and... walking...), it really stuck with me. Not only did it make me want to start exercising, but his self-awareness and personal growth really struck a chord. I felt like he was literally doing what I've been metaphorically doing lately, the soul searching and retrospective thinking to see what path my life has been on and where it should go from here.

"You got up, and you did something. And if trying to find a way when you don't even know you can get there isn't a small miracle, then I don't know what is." - Maureen, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The second novel is vastly different from Harold Fry. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson has won more awards than I can count on my hands, including a Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2013 Tournament of Books (knocking out The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, one of my personal favorites of all time!). I don't usually go for Pulitzer Prize winners. I have nothing against them, but I find that books that win awards like that are usually too deep and metaphorical for my taste (I'm all about the characters and plot, not the symbolism!). However, my book club chose this book for the month, and I was excited and up for the challenge! First things first, this book is intense. It's an undertaking to read because it is so lengthy in it's plot. The narrative overall covers a man's life in North Korea from the time he was born to his death, covering the time period from the Korean war to present(ish?). What fascinated me most about this book was the amazingly in-depth portrayal of North Korea. As students, we never learn about that area of the world. So little is known about their culture and government because it is mostly propaganda that comes out of the country. However, Adam Johnson (a graduate of McNeese actually!) was allowed to research in North Korea, walk among the people, and talk to some (approved) citizens. It was so interesting to me to learn about such a different area of the world where life is so drastically different from the life I know.

"Where we are from, he said, stories are factual. If a farmer is declared a music virtuoso by the state, everyone had better start calling him maestro. And secretly, he'd be wise to start practicing the piano. For us, the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change...But in America, people's stories change all the time. In America, it is the man who matters." - Pak Jun Do, The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Overall, these two books are books that I may never read again, but I know they will stick with me for a while because they enlightened me and make me think on a deeper level.

"We read to know that we are not alone." - William Nicholson