Friday, November 29, 2013

November Wrap-Up

It's the end of November, y'all! Happy Thanksgiving (and Black Friday)! I hope you ate until your pants busted and found new super cute pants at 90% off. I can't believe 2013 is wrapping up so quickly, but I am more than ready for the presents, family fun, and (most of all) end of the semester!

November in One Word: Schoolwork.

My Favorite Memories in November 2013:
  • Ernst and Young Promotion Party
  • Kay's birthday party on a beautiful afternoon!
  • Having Jeromy working in town for two weeks (and eating at Blue Dog Cafe 5 times in those two weeks!)
  • Going watch So You Think You Can Dance in New Orleans with Simone and MEETING FIK-SHUN!
  • Thanksgiving with the families
Books I Read this Month

Favorite Posts from the Month:
  • "Forgetting, Remembering, & the Holidays" - A Practical Wedding - The holidays are awesome, but the holidays are STRESSFUL. Juggling family time is never easy, and often, someone's feelings get hurt. By the end of the holidays, we are exhausted and stressed, and that's not what the holidays are supposed to be about! This article does a great job of reminding you to remember what's important for the holidays.
  • "Histagrams: What History Would Look Like On Instagram" - Bored Panda - I saw this post and laughed out loud! (Mom, you'll love this one!) The captions are especially awesome.
  • "26 Abortion Stories" - NY Magazine - This article stuck with me more than anything else I've read in a long time. I found it particularly impressive, since the article does not take a pro-choice or pro-life stand. Rather, it just documents accounts told directly by women who had abortions. Not something I'd recommend for everyone to read, but it really stuck with me in a profound way.
  • "Why I Turned Down an Offer for my Dream Job" - Cordelia Calls It Quits - This is written by a woman who quit her 9-5 job in order to start running her blog full time and do freelance work. She's been working for herself for three years, and in this article, she writes about an experience she had when her "dream job" was offered to her. My favorite line from this article is "Quitting Something Doesn't Mean It's Bad". I love that.

Songs that were Popular on my iPod:

New Obsessions
  • The Billfold - I know I mentioned this one last month, but I've been reading and rereading. If you want to know about anything related to money, or if you just need support with setting a budget and sticking to that budget, or if you just want to stop feeling alone in debt/brokeness, this is the site for you.
  • How I Met Your Mother - Seriously guys, I have become obsessed with this show. I mean, I'm sure it has nothing to do with my addiction to Netflix, my busyness with school, or the fact that it has 8 seasons so far…. But this has been my go-to activity all month. Bowl of popcorn, coke, and Barney Stinson, for the win.
  • APW - A Practical Wedding - So I may not be engaged, BUT this website is AWESOME. It takes a feminist view on weddings and life, and it has amazing posts about everything from love to Thanksgiving dinner. It features real world weddings and also has blog posts that center around different themes each month (December's theme is Celebrations.) Seriously. Awesome.
  • Chocolate - I keep a candy jar in my office (I am my mother's daughter, after all), and with so many hours spent in this tiny prison of a room, I've eaten way too many bags of chocolate. I won't say how many, because it's that embarrassing. Sadly, I can't see this trend improving with Christmas upcoming.
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with November

  • No Shave November. I mean really, why does it ever have to end? I know this girl has liked seeing all the wonderful beards out and about.
  • Fall weather. Let's be honest. Louisiana has approximately three days of fall weather. But this cold snap has me missing those three beautiful days of fall.
  • My money. Ya'll, Christmas has me broke already. I just love spoiling all of my friends and family!
3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in December
  • Christmas, for obviously obvious reasons.
  • Having a few weeks off of work and school to blissfully explore New Orleans and/or be lazy with my kittens
  • Book Club Christmas party, because we are wild and crazy! (Ahem.)

Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month

Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only—if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things—beautiful things—that they connect you to some larger beauty?
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Beauty Challenge

In undergrad, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join Kappa Delta sorority. While the sorority was a blast in undergrad, as a graduate and alumna, I've grown to appreciate the values that it instilled in me in some of my most influential growing years. The volunteer work I did as an undergrad certainly impacted who I am as an adult.

When I was a sophomore or junior in the sorority, Kappa Delta partnered with Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. This campaign is designed to encourage women to feel comfortable in their own skin, and long-term, it hopes to change the marketing and fashion industries to include women who are not size negative 2. I LOVE THIS. Women of all ages are put under so much pressure to conform to a certain look that is not necessarily healthiest for all women. I know men experience something similar to this pressure, but in the working world, women are judged for their looks far more than men are. A woman who is typically "pretty" is underestimated in her intelligence, and a woman who is "plain" is overlooked by society as unworthy. It's a terrible cycle that social media has only furthered.

Today, I read this article written by sportscaster (and super beautiful female) Sam Ponder. In it, she describes her first experience using Twitter while reporting. The comments she received are astounding. Women and men tearing her down and commenting on her boobs, the scar on her lip, and her fashion sense. Ladies, do you realize how hard it is to be a woman?? Every single one of us wake up in the morning and look in the mirror. Nearly every single one of us find something that we hate about ourselves. Why would we spend time trashing other women when we feel so insecure about ourselves?

Could it be that we are so insecure in ourselves that we need to bring others down?

I know I am just as guilty as the next girl for criticizing the fashion choices of girls walking on campus, but I have decided to make a conscious effort to stop. We have a hard enough time finding the beauty within ourselves. We shouldn't be tearing other women down.

Back to Dove. I saw this outstanding video months ago, but someone posted it again today, and when I watched it, I got chills all over again. When describing myself, I know I would do the same thing that these women did--focus on the negative aspects of myself. Pointy chin, big nose, circles under my eyes. I wouldn't describe my awesome eyebrows or rosy cheeks or big brown eyes. (Even writing those positive things about myself makes me blush. Why should I be embarrassed to admit the things I like about myself?) Check out the video, and make a conscious decision to love yourself the way you are!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So... You Think You Can Dance?

Years ago, I was a dancer. I guess I still am a dancer, as I love to shake my butt to any music that comes on the radio. I don't think I'll ever wrestle the term "dancer" from my description of myself... Anyway, I danced from the age of 3 to the age of 20, and for many years, I was part of the competition team and was an instructor. Of course, life interfered, and when you are as unflexible as I am, dancing isn't a viable career move, and if you want a stable family life, teaching dance isn't a viable career choice. Sadly, dancing also isn't an adult hobby. Most dance studios are comprised of school-age children, and the "adult" classes are generally just college-age people who stay in the same studio since they were born. Moving away for college didn't leave me with many dance opportunities, and aerobics and Zumba just aren't the same as pulling on a leotard and learning intricate dances.

Me, in my "Butterfly Kisses" costume.

Long story short, I miss dancing terribly, but I look forward to the day when I can force my little girl into a tutu and teach her how to jete. It will happen, folks. (Apologies to my future children.)

Obviously, So You Think You can Dance (SYTYCD) is one of my favorite shows on TV. I think it does a great job of showcasing real dancers who are spectacular and showcasing fantastic choreographers. In short, this show is a dancer's ideal. There's no reality drama. It's strictly about the dancing.

Last night, my friend Simone and I went to New Orleans to watch the SYTYCD tour. And it was phenomenal. They showcased dances from Season 10 of SYTYCD, as well as new dances that were created for the tour. They had choreographers that gave little video intros to the dances (and all of my favorites were featured: Travis Wall! Sonya Tayeh! Nappy Tabs!), and the top 10 dancers from the season did solos.

Even better, it was in the Saenger Theatre, which is where I saw my first Broadway play (Phantom of the Opera!), and which has been recently restored to its previous beauty. The entire production was awesome, and now my throat is sore from cheering on the dancers!

The beautiful chandeliers in the Saenger!
The original architect designed the ceiling lights to look like the night sky.

Just breathtaking!

Simone and I before the show!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

“Everyone has learning difficulties, because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult.”
― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 


Book Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Publication Date: 2004
Genres: YA Fiction, Mental Disabilities, "Mystery" (Publisher's genre suggestion, not mine!)
How I Found It: On Sale at Barnes and Noble
Goodreads Rating: 3.71 Stars 
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Characters:
Christopher Boone - narrator; 15 year old with autism who lives with his father
Ed Boone - father of Chris Boone; raising his autistic child alone
Siobhan - Chris's counselor/mentor at his school
From the Publisher: 
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, fifteen-year-old Christopher is autistic and everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
My Thoughts:
First let me say that I've been eying this book for years (YEARS!) simply because the cover is so eye-catching. Bright red and an upside down poodle? Marketing gold. Finally, when I went to B&N and found it on sale, I figured why not? I had no idea what the book was about, but I have been in a reading slump after Allegiant tore my heart out, so I was hoping this would be a quirky read to bring me back into the groove of things. 
I was right. It was definitely quirky and different and interesting in quite a few different ways. For one, I've never read a book written in first person point of view from the head of someone with autism. The effect is dizzying. There is rambling, there is fixation, there is lists and charts. Also, the chapters are numbered by prime numbers (which really threw me off, considering the first chapter was number 2). 
The book begins with the murder of Wellington, the neighborhood dog, and, of course, Chris wants to find out who did it. From there, though, the story spirals through complex emotions and plot twists that I, as a reader who tends to let the story unfold rather than try to figure it out, did not see coming. The beginning started off strongly, with great character development and interesting plot twists. However, as the book went on, some of that interesting plot structure vanished, and I'd say the book took a downhill turn. It ended well, but pretty predictably without a major climax. Of course, this is all coming from Chris's perspective, and, as you can see below in the quotes, he tends to simplify and rationalize everything, so he is not easily excited, which may be why at the end of the novel, I wasn't exactly excited either. 
What I loved most about the book was the quirks. His obsession with Sherlock Holmes. His fascination with science. His determination to go to college and get a physics degree. His hatred of the color yellow. His easy acceptance of death and loss. All of these things made him a fascinating character to read, and a fascinating lens through which to view the world. These quirks are what kept me reading.
The Pros:
Interesting POV
Deep Thinking
The Cons:
Faded Downhill
Wrong Genre
Try Hard
Further Reading:
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes we get sad about things and we don't like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don't know why we are sad, so we say we aren't sad but we really are.”

 “I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.” 

“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery…and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.” 

“Metaphors are lies.” 

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” 

“But I don't feel sad about it. Because Mother is dead. And because Mr. Shears isn't around anymore. So I would be feeling sad about something that isn't real and doesn't exist. And that would be stupid."