don't even worry about it

Don't worry--I haven't fallen off the face of the planet. I've simply been playing the Wii and watching Alias, Friday Night Lights, and a plethora of other movies and playing Sudoku and playing Nertz and taking pictures with my new camera and finishing one book and starting a new one and cooking some and texting a little bit and cleaning and eating junky food and wearing stretchy pants at least 60 percent of the time.

Ah, it's been a wonderful Christmas break. And I still have another whole week.


an unappreciated patron

I went to Borders today, partly for Christmas . . . and partly for myself. I was having trouble finding a particular title, and after looking for it in the specified shelves without success, I asked an employee for help. Yeah, I get that retail during the holidays must be hellish, but does it really justify the response I got?

Me: "I'm having trouble finding _______ [please excuse the censorship—it is Christmas]. Do you know where I could find it?"

Obviously disgruntled employee: "Well, you have to look by the author's last name, not by the title."

Me in my head: "Did you really just say that to me? I'm a longstanding patron of this establishment and given the fact that I'm 22 and a college senior, I do, in fact, know how to navigate a bookstore. Thanks. Thanks for nothing."

I found the book on my own.



I'm two finals down and two more to go. I'm in the library studying for those last two finals and am finding my concentration fading.

Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

I'm so close. Two more finals. . . . And boom goes the dynamite.


comments about a December Sunday

When I came to BYU I quickly realized that everyone could do everything that I could do, and they could do it better. And I don't say that in a self-deprecating way--that's just how things are here. I could easily go through an entire school year without many people knowing that I play the violin; whereas in our home ward, Emily and I are called upon frequently for accompaniment and solo/duets--everyone knows we play instruments.

Last minute, I was asked to participate in a musical number for our ward Christmas musical program today, and while my violin skills are often "hidden under a bushel" here at the Y, I gladly accepted, because I really do love to play. When I arrived at church--a little early to find a place to set my violin--I found myself one of six violinists performing during sacrament meeting (other pieces besides mine).

Yes, I love playing my violin--I really do. But seeing all those violin cases lined up on the front pew made me laugh and shake my head a bit. Yes, I am indeed in a BYU student ward. The bench proves it.

In other December Sunday observations, snow accumulated over the past week combined with rain from yesterday and today combined with three-inch black patent-leather sqaure-toe chunky-heeled pumps makes for the worst walk to church ever.


"there will always be room in the world for Kraft mac 'n' cheese"

One night I was whipping up some dinner and started discussing macaroni and cheese with my roommate Megan. We love macaroni and cheese, especially when it's homemade, but as Megan aptly stated, "There will always be room in the world for Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese." I fully agree.

Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese is my college food. This is the dish that has played a great part in defining my culinary college experience. Had a long day on campus? Take 15 minutes and make some Kraft mac 'n' cheese. Wanting to just crash on the couch and watch some "Law and Order"? Kozy up with Kraft (and yes, I did indeed make cozy a misspelling travesty--intentionally, just to make you gag). Need a quick meal before heading to a study group? Heat up your mac 'n' cheese leftovers from last night's "Law and Order" watching.

It's the perfect meal for an on-the-go college student. Or for a TV-junkie college student. Or for a needing-a-break college student. Or for a it's-been-a-long-day college student. Or for a homesick college student. Or for simply a hungry college student. And I've been all of these at one point in the past three and a half years.

Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese, I love you. You have treated me well. I never get sick of you. And thanks for always being less than a dollar a box at Smith's.

a pitfall

One of the pitfalls of being an English major—and if you ask me there aren't too many besides having classes with the theory-obsessed faux intellectuals—is that the bookstore doesn't often take back your books at the end of the semester, and when they do, they pay you between $0.50 and $3 for each (although I did have a high roller that sold for $8 today). I came out of buy-back today with a solid $18.75 in my wallet for the almost $100-worth of books I purchased in September (granted, I didn't take all of them to sell back). I still have a few to try and sell, so maybe I can come out with $30—if I'm lucky.

But hey, that's $18.75 more than I had before, right?


Drumroll, please

Throughout the semester I have tantalized you readers with only a few reviews of the many YA books I've read since September. Now that I've almost finished my adolescent literature course and have completely finished all of the books needed for this class and then some, I am presenting you my final ratings. You ready for this? (Note: the star ranking and my own ranking do not have to correspond. This list is how I liked the books relative to each other. The given star ranking reflects more than just my own response.)

  1. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak *****
  2. Whirligig, Paul Fleischman *****
  3. Running Loose, Chris Crutcher *****
  4. The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton *****
  5. After the First Death, Robert Cormier *****
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon ****
  7. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson ****
  8. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine *****
  9. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins ****
  10. Chasing Fire, Suzanne Collins ****
  11. Tenderness, Robert Cormier ****
  12. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman ****
  13. A Dance for Three, Louise Plummer ****
  14. The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman, Louise Plummer ****
  15. Rapunzel's Revenge, Shannon Hale ****
  16. The Whole Sky Full of Stars, Rene Saldana Jr. ****
  17. A Thief in the House of Memory, Tim Wynne-Jones ***
  18. Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse ****
  19. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor ***
  20. The Maestro, Tim Wynne-Jones ***
  21. Frenchtown Summer, Robert Cormier ****
  22. Monster, Walter Dean Myers ***
  23. Godless, Pete Hautman ***
  24. Miracle's Boys, Jacqueline Woodson **
  25. The Game of Sunken Places, M. T. Anderson **
  26. American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang ***
  27. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones ***
  28. A Girl Named Disaster, Nancy Farmer **
  29. Guinea Pig Scientists, Mel Boring ****
  30. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, Jennifer Armstrong ***
  31. Robert Cormier: Daring to Disturb the Universe, Patty Campbell ***
  32. Brian's Winter, Gary Paulsen ***
  33. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennsion **
  34. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson **
  35. Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff *
  36. My Secret Boyfriend, Lurlene McDaniels *
  37. Finding Daddy, Louise Plummer *
 If you're interested in my reviews of each of these books, email me. Other authors I didn't get around to but wanted to read are John Green and more Robert Cormier (Cormier is a new favorite).

Operation Superhuman Reader has reached new heights this semester, and remarkably I'm not burned out but actually checked out more books from the library last night. I think this class somehow mutated me into a more relentless reader. Oh dear. . . .


Happy birthday, Dad!

Hey, Dad!

It's your birthday, and I wanted to tell you that I love you. I couldn't ask for a greater dad. I love it that I always know that your family is your biggest priority, and I love the love you have for Mom. I know that I can talk to you about anything--I mean that. I really can talk to you about anything that's on my mind. Thanks for being there for me. I love you for being a worthy priesthood holder; that's helped define my life. There's so much more that I love about you, but this is what has been on my mind most recently.

Thanks for being so wonderful, Dad. I love you.

Love, your daughter,

I'm immunized, baby!

I got an email from BYU telling me that they're giving out free H1N1 shots. I took them up on that. And I had Emily take them up on that too.

Emily was a little sketch.

But we were both fine. And afterward we went to the bookstore and bought each other early Christmas presents, which we exchanged in the CougarEat.

Give it up for immunizations!


food for thought

The lesson in Relief Society was really good today. It was the presidency message and talked about how we are daughters of God, His treasures, His divine children and how we should and can remember that. Here are some of the things that stood out to me:

"If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently": This is a quote from a story the teacher read, and I love it. We should treat ourselves and our relationships differently if we want them to last forever, and further, God treats us differently because we're going to last forever.

God loves us the way He does--unconditionally, all encompassing, absolutely, flaws and all--because He's God. Yes, He expects things of us and values our devotion and obedience, but He will love us wholly regardless of choices, good or bad. He can love that way because He's God; and as beings with divine potential and heritage, we can learn to love that way too. The word worth means "inherent value." I love that.

In the midst of this discussion, I was reminded of my experiences from the beginning of the semester. When I was so hurt and confused, it would have been easy to feel bad about myself and my life. But instead, God gave me unmistakable manifestations that I am His daughter, that I am of infinite worth, that I am loved beyond my comprehension. Remembering that brought tears to my eyes. God doesn't make us seek to know our worth--He'll require us to seek for guidance and answers--but He will never hesistate to let us know that we are His children, that we are divine, and that we have a holy and celestial inheritance. That confirmation will always be there when we seek it.

Any thoughts?

Tree Topper Triumph

Friday I finally got around to decorating my Christmas tree (I would have decorated on Monday, but after rejecting the too-expensive decorative ornament hooks from Target I went to Robert's where they didn't order ornament hooks this year--clearly Robert does the ordering there). When I was home over Thanksgiving and purchased my ornaments I found these bejeweled wires that I thought would be fun to fashion into a tree topper. However, let's remember that my invention skills aren't quite up to par: remember the Jack Bauer reaching stick?

So for my imagination-needed tree topper, I commissioned an engineer. After my work Christmas party, Josh and I headed back to my place where we decorated the tree and he fashioned the tree topper, which eventually included not only the jeweled wires, but also a pen, two bent-out-of-shape ornament hooks, and a hair elastic to hold the topper up straight.

Josh, your engineering schooling has schooled you well.


Roller Coaster Semester

I can't quite believe that it's already December, that the last day of class is less than a week away, that I'll be back home for Christmas in two weeks. Anyway, I just wanted to give the blogosphere and my small audience updates and reassurance about my rocky-start semester. (I realize some of my earlier posts this semester did not inspire confidence in my functionality.)

September was a bad month. To the max. And October was a bit on the rocky side sometimes too. I was making big decisions while having to deal with hard realities. The drama of the past few months was unsolicited and a little ridiculous (I'm harking back to my my-life-is-a-movie post). But I made it through. And I'm okay. In fact, right now I'm more than okay—I'm great.

Yes, I was a little heartbroken at times, and yes, I was often discouraged, but after all of that, my testimony and faith grew. Heavenly Father knows what He's doing—and seriously, let's all be thankful for that!

And while the semester turned out pretty good in the end, I am not sad to be saying goodbye!


some days I just love my job

I'm reading through BYU–Hawaii devotionals to help pick one for a brochure, and I came across this in one of them:

The Hebrew night was divided into four watches. The first watch—six o’clock at night to nine [p.m.], second watch—nine to midnight, third watch—midnight to three in the morning, fourth watch—three in the morning to sunrise.  Sometimes that creates a bit of a problem for us, certainly for me. I worship a fourth watch God. One who tends to feel that it is good to let His children toil in rowing against the wind to face a little opposition. My problem is that I am a first watch person. Now there is something inside of me that understands that it is good for me to toil in rowing against the wind. But certainly by the second watch He would come. And when the second watch has passed and He still has not come. Sometimes I forget that as Mark says, He is watching. He watched them toiling and rowing. 
I began to make some assumptions that are often dangerous to make—maybe you make the same. We begin to assume that, number one, He is not there. That is why He’s not responding. And then we calm down and understand that He is there; He is always there. Then the second assumption is if He is there, He must not be listening. And then again, in calmer times—He always listens. Well then the third assumption is He must not care. No—He’s there, He listens, He cares. Maybe the most dangerous assumption, the fourth assumption is I must not be worthy. Now that fourth assumption we are probably correct on. But when has that ever stopped Him from responding; we are as worthy as we can be. We must assume that we have not yet reached the fourth watch; and He is a fourth watch God. . . .
We worship a fourth watch God. So when the trials aren’t over and the blessings don’t come, don’t assume that He is not there, or He is not listening, or He doesn’t care, or you’re not worthy. Always assume you have not yet reached the fourth watch.—S. Michael Wilcox (for the full talk go here)

That resonated with me. I wanted to share.


Operation Superhuman Reader: Another YA Lit Recommendation

The Book Thief The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Printz book/coming-of-age/Holocaust

I've heard so much about this book and was excited to add this to my list. Initially I was trying not to be too excited about it in case it was overhyped, but I was not disappointed. I love this book. Love it. I thought that I'd fly through this book--despite its length--because it's so good, but I found myself wanting to take my time and soak in the words and images. The writing was just mind-blowing. The way Zusak combines words and sentences is an art form--incredible.

After a million and one Holocaust/WWII units in grade school I've felt a little burned out on the topic. However, The Book Thief greatly touched me. The characters had so much depth, and the Nazi ideologies, while I've studied them so many times, became horrifically real to me, more so than at any other time in my education. I've read countless books that touch me emotionally, but The Book Thief reached me on a deeper level. Liesel's relationship with Max was beautiful and poignant and tender. The Book Thief showed me that while evil exists in the world--even such intense evil like Nazism--the individual can triumph and effect change, however small, because small change is still change and proves that good can and will persist.

While technically a young-adult book, this book can touch readers beyond adolescence. I'm confident in saying that The Book Thief will continue to affect readers for many years to come. The Book Thief merits a place on the bookshelves with the classics, with the books that effect change within the reader, with the literature that endures.

View all my reviews >>


hit the ground running

I'm back from Thanksgiving break and am in the final leg of the semester.

Today I need to

  • Read Monster
  • Read sections 65–69 of D&C
  • Read articles for personal finance and complete corresponding assignment
  • Go through my planner once I get back to my apartment, because I forgot to throw my planner into my book bag
  • Go to Target because I came back to sour milk and I'm out of other necessities like Diet Pepsi
  • Get a Big Gulp with Emily, because I didn't see her much yesterday, and even though we're freakishly awesome friends and I just spent an entire week with her, I miss her
  • At least seriously consider going to FHE
  • Make it to my orchestra dress rehearsal at 5:40—concert tomorrow at 7:30 in the de Jong!! (It's free!)
  • Call my visiting teaching companion to check up on our visiting (I think we still need to make a visit. . . .)
  • Decorate my Christmas tree after I buy ornament hooks at Target
At least I won't be bored today.


pie crust tutorial

Remember the pie I made not too long ago? The crust was a travesty, and I vowed to commission a tutorial when I came home.

Wednesday morning I made my way over to Grandma's in the early afternoon and observed her expert pie crust making in action. It doesn't look too hard, but I know that when I decide to put my lesson to practice I'll find it harder than expected. As Grandma iterated, "Making pie crusts is a skill born of experience."

So I ate almost an entire loaf of pumpkin bread on my own while I watched Grandma's skilled hands mix and roll and crimp pie crust. Really, though, the best part was sitting at her counter and talking with her and being reminded that I have one incredible grandmother.


it's like buried treasure

When Dad bought a first edition copy of My Name Is Asher Lev he gave me his other copy . . . I think. In fact, I'm almost positive I have my own hardback copy of Asher Lev, so today I began a more dedicated search for the book (you see, I'm reading it with someone and said I could probably finish it over break). No surprise to any of you I'm sure, I have many, many books. I have a few shelves in my bedroom, a drawer in my captain-style bed for books and two or three boxes full of books out in the garage. After looking for the book in the usual places (e.g., my many bookshelves plus my parents' bookshelves in case the book gravitated back to its original home), I took on the garage.

Yup. So I started looking through boxes, trying to decipher if any of them were mine. I was up on ladders and step stools and crouched down all the while trying to avoid the spiders I knew were there but couldn't see.

My first hint of success was finding a box full of old high school workbooks and AP test prep books and college application remnants. No luck with actual books, but finding that box at least told me that I do have possessions somewhere in that garage. And I found this eighth-grade treasure:

Oh the joys of 14-year-old creativity!

After some more rummaging—and really the actual rummaging was kept to a minimum, because Dad wouldn't love the organized chaos of the garage to be become unorganized chaos—I found another box that contained many of my books! I sifted through this buried treasure—I think it was literally buried—and made a selection of books to take inside with me.

Many of these books are writing books I bought back in high school and writing books Grandma gave me. Regardless, I was excited to find this treasure trove of words and stories I'd forgotten.

But did I find Asher Lev? No. I swear I have my own copy. . . .


my nose is frozen

Yesterday the pump on our water heater went out, so for the past two days we've been without heat. It should be fixed pretty soon—thankfully the problem is just a bad wire—but the temperature in the house has been hovering around 60 for the past two days.



Yes, I woke up at 4:30 a.m.

So, I actually like the airport. I get a thrill out of getting through the security line and making my way to the gate to wait to board. Admittedly I have had more than one occasion when I've had to run through the airport to make my flight on time—and those airport excursions are not fun at all—but I do find myself excited when I can take my time and stroll through the B terminal.

On this particular airport morning, Emily and I had time to stop at Starbucks and drink their Signature Hot Cocoa (a combination of four chocolates!) and eat a buttered croissant, my favorite on-the-go breakfast. So delicious.

I also got to start a new book, The Book Thief, that counts for YA lit and pure pleasure. Lovely.

I dozed on the plane while listening to my iPod and arrived in Denver before 9 a.m.

Now I'm in Denver blogging, eating York Peppermint Patties, and enjoying the glow of our downstairs Christmas tree.

Welcome home, Charlotte. You made it.


another senioritis manifestation

I'm just not in the mood for a research outline for Doctrine and Covenants. I'm not motivated to research the Second Coming and compile everything into a two-page, single-spaced outline with references from scripture, conference, and other church books. All I want to do is read for adolescent lit because 1) I still have more categories to fill so I really need to be reading and 2) I love it. Also I wouldn't mind catching up on Bones and Law and Order.

And I'm going home in four days anyway, so who needs homework? That's right—four days.

I'm feeling very senioritis-y today. Ugh.


an announcement

Almost two months ago, on a whim, I completed the online application for an internship position with Church magazines. A week later I received an email asking me to submit a portfolio. A week after that submission I was called in for an interview, and since my interview I haven't heard anything.

On Friday I had call from a number I didn't recognize. I answered it and after talking to an HR representative with Church magazines, I am pleased to announce that I am the intern for the New Era for four months starting next May!! It's a full-time, paid internship, and I'll be mainly writing for the magazine, plus doing some editing.

I'm not sure where I'll be living next summer, whether I'll stay in Provo and commute via bus or carpool or find a place in Salt Lake somewhere. But regardless, I have a real magazine internship where I'll be doing real writing and real editing for a publication that goes out to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people each month.

Sham. Wow. I'm still in some shock.


epitomic domesticity

As you've no doubt gleaned from former posts this semester, I've been having the greatest urges to bake and cook and try new things in the kitchen (mind you, new meaning family favorites that I don't often have the guts to try). Last Sunday I had the remarkable idea to try my hand at pot roast and mashed potatoes. I tried this a couple of years ago with marginal success, but at that particular time I was not equipped with decent pots and pans to make such roast, and if I recall correctly, the roast turned out a little on the dry and tough side. I haven't tried it since.

Monday I went and bought a chuck roast from Target (making sure it was nice and marbled to make the best pot roast possible) and after inviting some people over for Sunday dinner (nervously I might add--I was hoping against hope that I wouldn't produce substandard roast), I prepared for my domestic demonstration.

I took this cut of meat

and unphotographed potatoes and carrots and put together this meal

with these guests (from left to right): Emily, Josh, Laura, Megan, Daniel, and Jordin. (And yes, we did indeed pull out the ugliest tablecloth known to man in a fit of fashion-reckless hilarity.)

For dessert I made homemade eclairs--homemade pastry shells, filling, and ganache. Please note the Christmas tree in the background, and pretend that you can hear the Hilary Weeks Christmas album in the background.

Emily and Laura posed too.

All in all I'd say the dinner was success, despite the spilling of the flour-water mixture I was about to use to make the gravy, which spill necessitated the future dry cleaning of my skirt and the mopping of the kitchen floor. And with two stock pots, two sauce pans, a mixing bowl or two, a real meat fork, and several serving dishes, dinner plates, flatware, and drinking glasses to take care of, Josh gallantly stepped up and did the dishes.

While my efforts at domesticity were not perfect by any means, the effort was certainly epitomic and the result duly satisfying.

I spent the rest of the night reading and almost finishing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for class. A good Sunday? Oh, yes.


I dare you not to like it

I was out with Emily today, and she had to run to Michaels for some yarn. While there I checked out the artificial Christmas trees and subsequently purchased one that was on sale. Once back in my apartment I took a couple minutes to assemble said tree while listening to an N*SYNC Christmas.

Yes, I realize that it's only the middle of November, and yes, I know that usually decorations go up sometime around Thanksgiving, if not later. But today it snowed for the first time, and I made hot punch, and it was the perfect day for a Christmas tree. And yes in that blurry photo there are pinecones and berries set into the tree to make it cute and festive even without ornaments (which I will acquire sometime this week).

I dare you not to like this tree. You would have put it up too.


A Card for Charizard

When leaving the Testing Center after completing an exam, there's this little vestibule right before the exit. In this vestibule, there's this ledge that is always filled with notes and treats and surprises for those coming out of taking an exam. I don't take too many tests in the Testing Center anymore, and really, who could complain about that? But on the infrequent occasions when I do go to the Testing Center and come down those stairs leading to the exit, I always glance at the window ledge full of post-test surprises, hoping to see something with my name on it, and in my three-and-a-half years attending BYU, no one's ever left me anything. Until yesterday.

Yesterday coming down from taking my second personal finance midterm, I made the routine glance at the collection of cards and plates of cookies, not really expecting to see anything for me. Then a little red envelope caught my eye, and while it didn't have my actual name on it (yes, in fact, the envelope was addressed to "Charizard," one of the fire Pokemon), I immediately recognized Emily's serial killer handwriting. My heart soared—I actually had a note waiting just for me!! And while the test did not go as Shamtastically as I'd hoped (how is it that I got a better grade on the first midterm for which I last-minute crammed and took while battling a migraine than on this exam for which I spent significant time studying?!), the note from Emily made my day.

And apparently the camera on my work computer takes mirror images, hence the backwards writing.


I probably deserve this

So my semester has been pretty low-key as far as school goes. I have only one research paper assigned, and I spend most of my time reading for young-adult lit. Pretty smooth sailing, really—until these past two weeks. Out of the five classes I'm taking (and orchestra doesn't really count, so four classes), three of them have midterms this week. My last round of midterms I played the whole week (ha) and pulled through mildly unscathed. But I'm taking this round more seriously. I started studying last week and am going to dominate, I've decided.

So the past two weeks I've been studying for these three midterms, working on my research paper due next Tuesday, completing my personal finance tax assignment, and still reading my adolescent literature (I'm up to 25 books read this semester so far). Life has been crazy, and my back has a few knots in it.

But like I said, after a cruising sort of semester, I probably deserve some crazy.


It's all in the jeans

I think it's funny this is my third post I've written that is somehow related to blue jeans. I just really love jeans--I daresay they're my favorite type of clothing. Maybe. Anyway, it's time to retire my most loyal pair of jeans. (I think I can hear my mom singing the Hallelujah chorus from here.) They're pretty ratty; I'll even admit to being embarrassed to wear them now. Plus, after I dropped an entire pant size over the summer because I was never hungry, I have only one pair of jeans that is actually my size. Yesterday was payday, and I decided that it was time to buy another pair of jeans, because having only one pair in your size is a little frustrating. (I do wear my other jeans still, because I can't completely give up on my other pairs.)

So armed with my 25-percent-off-your-total-purchase Gap coupon, I made my way to University Mall yesterday. Can I tell you how satisfying it was to try on jeans that actually fit me?? (Plus the size reduction was a great esteem boost.) I just get a thrill wearing new jeans, especially when they fit you well. And in the exhilarating rush of trying on well-fitting jeans, I was overcome with a thought of seeming insanity--what if I bought two pairs of new jeans??

I did. I bought two new pairs of Gap jeans for less than $100, thanks to the 25-percent-off coupon. Sham. Wow.

Look at that--my pants fit!!


A Saturday morning

Who likes to go up to campus on Saturday morning to study for the week's upcoming midterms??

Not I.


No Turning Back Now

I was watching Nancy Drew last night, and there's a whole montage of Nancy's first days in her new school. She's clearly a star: she crafts woodwork masterpieces, out-runs all the competition in gym class, and eats a well-balanced lunch complete with a placemat. In one part of the montage, she recites the quadratic formula:
And while I recognized the formula and can even sing the song I was taught in pre-algebra, I don't think I could effectively or correctly apply the quadratic formula to save my life. I used to be able to integrate and derivate with the best of them, but now that I've completely forgotten how to use the quadratic formula, there's no turning back now. I'm officially a humanities girl, if I wasn't already.


ushering in November

After a lovely day of sleeping in even with the extra hour gained last night, a drawn-out breakfast, being visit taught, reading young-adult lit for a couple of hours, going to stake conference in the oh-so-uncomfortable Provo Tabernacle, eating a baked potato for dinner, mixing up some sugar cookies, and watching the CES fireside, I am cuddling up in my pajamas, blogging, drinking a giant mug of cocoa, and getting ready to watch Nancy Drew.

Hello, November!


Spoooooky . . . or Not

Apparently every year on the Friday before Halloween, the Provo Library holds a scary storytelling up in the attic of the building. The building was renovated a while ago, and the attic was the only part never touched by the remodel. So a scary storytelling up in the attic would be a fun Halloween activity, no?

No, it's not.

I'd never heard of it before now, and there's a reason for that.

The storyteller--Ginger--was . . . well . . . entertaining, I suppose?

Story 1: Three boys can't go trick-or-treating and go to a witch's house instead, because the town grocer told them that "some things that happen on Halloween can't be undone."

Story 2: A woman dies and has her hand cut off. She left a little baby behind whom the innkeepers rear. A creepy peg-leg comes after her and tells her that "she's meddling with magic that she knows not from whence it came from" (yes, that was the spoken syntax--shudder).

Story 3: The evil stepmother gets sick of the stepchildren, so she cooks them and feeds them to their father.

Story 4: A bratty girl dies because she won't listen to her mother.

I was continually laughing because I felt so uncomfortable and the stories were so awful. Spooky? Definitely not. Funny? Only in an uncomfortable way. There's a reason I'd never heard of this particular Halloween event.


a first, and I hope, a success

The other day I made my first ever chocolate cream pie for Brooke's birthday. (She likes pie better than cake.) The filling turned out pretty good, I think. The pie crust, however, was a hack job. I will be requesting a pie-crust tutorial when I'm home for Thanksgiving. I didn't have any whipped cream to spread on top of the pie, but I think that, overall, my first cream pie endeavor was a success.

In other news:
  • I bought my Christmas ticket for $95.20, round trip. I'm completely serious.
  • I interviewed with Church magazines today for one of their internship positions for next spring/summer. I feel good about my interview. Now I just have to wait more.
  • It's getting cold. I'm adjusting.
  • I love my fall and winter clothes.
  • I hate wind.


Operation Superhuman Reader: Young Adult Literature

Like I said before, I'm not going to post reviews of all of the books I'm reading for young-adult lit, but these books deserve a post. These books could just be another literary fad and may not transcend through several generations of readers, but they're replete with likable and unlikable characters, meaningful themes, and moving plot. I read both books in a little over a week and am eagerly anticipating the release of the last book next year (still so far away!).

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
adventure/romance/sci-fi perhaps

Set in a post-apocalyptic-like future world, this book follows Katniss Everdeen in her participation in her nation's Hunger Games, a barbaric reality competition in which the contestants kill each other to win. The story is well written and fast paced; I made my way through the 350ish pages quick.

What was most fascinating was the examination of humanity, mercy, and authority. Sure the book is easy to read and extremely compelling in its plot, but the character development is still thorough and the themes still deep. I was impressed. As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I think that this book would definitely engage teenagers: the writing is good, the characters relatable, the premise morbidly fascinating.

I'd definitely recommend this book to teenagers and adults alike, especially if they're looking for a quick, fun, and still thought-provoking read.

View all my reviews >>

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)
I didn't include my review for the second book, Catching Fire, because it references events that would spoil The Hunger Games for you, but I did include the cover, just to further entice you.

Granted, these books are no Steinbeck or Tolstoy, but they're good, fast-paced, entertaining reading. Enjoy!



In Sunday School and Relief Society today we talked about temples and temple work and as the teachers taught and we discussed I was struck with gratitude for my parents' temple marriage. Their decision to be married for time and all eternity completely defines our family and fully defined my childhood and continues to define my relationship with each of my family members. Knowing that I'm sealed to my parents and siblings for eternity adds a depth and bond to each of those relationships that couldn't be there otherwise.

In one class we talked about the mission of Elijah and the turning of the hearts of children to fathers (and vice versa). We started talking about the how the "earth would be utterly wasted at his [Christ's] coming" if this turning of hearts didn't happen. Without the keys of the priesthood, without the power to bind families together forever our entire mortal experience would be in vain. Everything we've worked for would be wasted if we couldn't be sealed to our spouses, children, parents, siblings.

I'm so blessed to be sealed to my family, immediate and extended. My family are my favorite people, and I can't imagine not being with them in the eternities.


The Charlotte Diet

These pants were always kind of loose, but after my cyst/surgery/excruciating pain/no appetite summer, I look like I could be on a diet commercial.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I can take off these pants without unbuttoning or unzipping.


a hankering

I have a hankering to bake today. I have so many possibilities: sugar cookies, chocolate chewy brownie cookies, Denver sheet cake, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, angel biscuits, banana chocolate chip bars, apple donut hole muffins, maybe even a chocolate cream pie.

Hello, weekend.

I want to see this trailer

Lately my life has felt like a movie. You know, that kind of movie where the plot twists are so ridiculously improbable yet you still find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat dying to see what happens. You don't know who to root for (well, I'm rooting for me, obviously, but if I felt inclined to give the full scope of my movie life, you'd know there would be others for whom to cheer in addition to the star of the show), and you wonder how everything is going to play out, because the plot is so crazy that you can't even guess.

That's my life right now: a movie starring Charlotte Jane as the protagonist, a chick flick that I hope contains some grain or two of substance, because if my life has to play out like a romantic comedy, I at least want there to be moments of emotional poignancy.

So I'm trying to just sit back and enjoy the show, participating when the director calls. But sometimes I'd like to see a trailer for this Charlotte movie, because maybe I'll see clips I haven't yet lived. Because I'm a-okay with a spoiler alert. Just so you know.

PS—I should think of a good movie title.


Pumpkin Play-Doh

Think that pumpkin Play-Doh sounds like a fun fall treat? Just forget to add the baking soda in the pumpkin bread recipe.

I was so excited for Saturday night. Emily and I planned to bake pumpkin bread and watch Wait Until Dark: a stellar October Saturday night. Well, Wait Until Dark is nowhere to be found anywhere in Provo during the month of October, so we settled on The Ring (creepy but funny). We even wore festive Halloween socks, with the exception of our friend Josh who didn't wear any socks.

We ran to Smith's, where we picked up some extra pumpkin, and Emily posed with the Granny Emilie's bread.

Then we went back to Em's apartment and mixed up the pumpkin bread.

Then we baked the pumpkin bread. And it took forever. And it was looking funny. And then it finally finished and came out looking like Play-Doh. You know when you think that if you just take one more bite of something gross, it'll end up tasting okay? I tried that. It still tasted Play-Doh-esque.

I threw it off Emily's balcony in angry frustration.

The movie was good in a dumb, funny way, though, and I ended up spending the night at Emily's. And after church today I tackled the pumpkin bread again.

Victory. Take that, Play-Doh.


Catch me up please

A couple of weeks ago I walked into my college advisement center and applied for graduation. I applied for my college graduation.

Remember the days of little freshman I-have-absolutely-no-clue-how-to-be-a-grown-up-college-kid Charlotte??

Because I do, and to be honest, it wasn't that long ago. Would someone please catch me up on the past three years and tell me how in the world I got to be a college senior applying for graduation??

I couldn't decide which graduation application receipt SP to post: "Yay! I'm graduating!" or "Yikes! I'm graduating!" So you get both.


Brief rant

Get this: I am, at the very moment of writing this, in the library finally studying.

I get to the library, find a table, get settled, and then other people sit down and just start chatting it up with each other. Then more people come and join, and I'm just sitting there trying to study 401Ks and the origins of paper. Agh!!!

I move upstairs.

And once again I sit down at a table where just five minutes after getting all my stuff out again people decide to come and congregate and catch up on life. Because it's not like the library is for anything academic, right? It's just a social gathering place, no? And really, it's not like I have midterms or anything.

Just chat away. Really. Don't mind me.

ZT to the max.


Productivity Improvement?

Plans for tonight: hunker down in library and study my butt off.

What I really did: went to Applebee's for karaoke night so Emily's roommate could "publicly step out of her comfort zone" for a class assignment.

Has my productivity improved from last night? Clearly not.

Maybe this is what collegiate senioritis feels like. . . .

Good intentions. . . .

Yesterday, this was my to-do list:
  • Personal finance "Wealth of Great Health" assignment
  • Daily internet task for personal finance
  • read through Howl's Moving Castle chapter 10
  • Finish The Millionaire Next Door
  • Read my scriptures first :)
  • Get through half of History of the Book review sheet
  • Get through three days of personal finance notes and eleven Millionaire Next Door review points
  • Go to Target
  • Clean my sheets and towels
Note that this list was titled "What I HAVE to get done today." How much did I cross off?? Three things: reading my scriptures, going to Target, and doing my laundry. I worked on a couple of the other things but only was able to cross off three things. Oi vey.


Operation Superhuman Reader: Young Adult Literature

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm in a class that looks at literature for adolescents, and we read a lot. Soon I think I'll post a list of the books I've read so far and my ratings, but posting an individual post about each book with my review would easily take over my blog. Ha.

But, I do want to post this review, because I found this book fascinating. Last week we split into groups, with each group reading a different Robert Cormier novel. (Cormier wrote The Chocolate War, if you've heard of that book.) Cormier writes what the field calls "bleak" literature, literature that doesn't carry that optimism often pervading adolescent fiction. His books are dark, but his writing is incredible. Cormier has been called the "grand master of young adult literature."

The book I read was Tenderness, his darkest novel written. And interestingly—and creepily—enough, I actually really liked it. I like it moreso after the fact, but I like it all the same.

Tenderness Tenderness by Robert Cormier

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
bleak literature/psychological thriller(ish)

I'd bump it up to three and a half stars. This book follows the collision of the worlds of two dysfunctional teenagers, one of whom is a serial killer just released from juvenile detention for killing his parents, the other a seriously insecure runaway girl. The concepts in this book were so alien to me—I mean, not many people can (thankfully) relate to the psychopathology of a serial killer—and it was that exploration of Eric's mentality that kept me reading. It was a little disturbing when, by the end, I found myself sympathizing with Eric. Scary. This book made me reexamine my definition of humanity and made me think that maybe some seemingly black and white situations aren't as easy to figure out as we might think.

The writing in this book is just brilliant. Taking such an intense topic and writing for teenagers, Cormier does an expert job of creating the characters and crafting the story. He's not ever graphically explicit in the murders (no actual murder even takes place within the timeframe of the book—you just see flashbacks), and with such a serious, sensitive, and intense subject, a book like this wouldn't succeed without exceptional writing.

I think there are young adults who could handle this book, but clearly, some could not. I'm conflicted about how to feel about this book as a young adult book. I'd like to give teenagers credit when it comes to dealing with intense literature, but I also think many students wouldn't react well to this book. Oh the quandary. . . .

View all my reviews >>

I won't be as audacious as to give a blanket recommendation for this book, but it's one to consider. Don't read it if you like only happy books, and even then, read with caution. Ha.


just amazing

Mom came out last weekend. You can read about it here. It was just amazing, and I'm just so floored by gratitude that she's my mom forever.


I'm not kidding

At the end of August when Mom, Emily, and I were out shopping to get our apartments settled, we obviously had to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond. We browsed the clearance section and came across a tablecloth. In the packaging Mom and I both thought that it looked pretty cute. Plus it cost only about $2 after all the markdowns. We were pleased with this purchase. Very pleased.

Yeah. That's what I bought. I put it on my table, and Mom and I didn't say anything. We went on to work on something else, but our eyes strayed back to the table.

"Well, it's not as cute as I thought. . . ."

"Actually, I think it's really ugly."

"What were we thinking? It looked okay in the packaging. . . ."

"No I really hate it."

"I hate it more and more the more I look at it."

Tablecloth off.

I actually bought that, thinking that it would make a cute addition to my college apartment. I'm not kidding. And I have nothing more to say on the subject.


mac 'n' cheese

Step one to feeling awesome again?

Let your sister paint your nails Mac 'n' Cheese Orange while you both watch MK&A. :)


enough is enough

Okay, Charlotte. Life hasn't gone how you thought it would the past little while, and you know, it's been hard. And then the other day you found yourself feeling like you'd been punched in the stomach: that one thing happened that just compounded everything and made everything feel like it was crashing in on you.

But you know, in spite of all that, even though you've been feeling so out of control of your life lately, you've experienced miracles--true miracles. In the moments when you've felt the most alone, you've been reminded of how many people love you and are rooting for you. You've been blessed with a heightened ability to see the beautiful things in your life. You have beyond incredible friends and a seriously amazing family.

Let's reassess your miraculous life:
  • It's a real miracle that you're doing as well as you are. You've kept a sense of who you are and what you deserve from life. Your functioning of the past few days has been a direct answer to prayer--it's not you. It's 100 percent the Atonement.
  • You've been blessed with an increased ability to better understand and implement the Atonement. Your faith is stronger than you thought.
  • You have motivation for school. You like your classes, you like your job--you want to excel. You know you have a future. You remember what Sister Holland said: "The future holds everything for us."
  • You have a great calling (compassionate service committee member). You have the opportunity to step outside of yourself and serve others.
  • You've realized that you can take control of your uncontrollable life and make to-do lists and put together motivational playlists on your iPod. You want to clean the bathroom, do your laundry, pick up your room, and be productive.
  • At the same time, you know that it's okay to be sad sometimes. You don't have to be 100 percent okay right away or all the time. You're dealing with deep disappointment, and that won't go away overnight.
So, Charlotte, enough is enough. Decide now to be happy. Keep an eternal perspective. Have faith. Live your beautiful and miracle-filled life. You're not broken.

I hate to see you cry
lying there in that position.
There's things you need to hear,
so turn off your tears
and listen.

Pain throws your heart to the ground;
love turns the whole thing around.
No it won't all go the way it should,
but I know the heart of life is good.

You know, it's nothing new,
bad news never had good timing.
But, then your circle of friends
will defend the silver lining.

Pain throws your heart to the ground;
love turns the whole thing around.
No it won't all go the way it should,
but I know the heart of life is good.

Pain throws your heart to the ground;
love turns the whole thing around.
Fear is a friend who's misunderstood,
But I know the heart of life is good.
I know it's good.

~John Mayer, "The Heart of Life"

The heart of your life is good.



a surprising, punctuated weekend

Friday afternoon I was sitting at my desk when Emily hollers to me from my front door saying that Mom sent us some homemade bread (score). I went out into the living room, and Emily opens my front door further to reveal Rachelle! Rachelle decided to surprise me by flying out for the weekend! It was a most excellent surprise :)

Here's a recap of our weekend:

Emily and Brooke threw me a belated birthday party, punctuation themed of course.

We played Punctuation Bingo

and Pin the Comma on the Sentence.

We also played Apples to Apples and Catch Phrase.

Saturday Emily and I gave Rachelle a thorough tour of BYU campus.

We went to the physics department and showed her the tasteful decorations

and, of course, Nan's giraffe office.

We stopped by the bookstore, where Rachelle indulged her inner Cougar.

We went to the library, followed by a trip to the Sugar 'n' Spice for Creamery ice cream.

We went to Brick Oven, a classic Provo experience, and then watched two movies at Emily's.

Sunday, we slept in a bit and went to church.

Now she's back in Colorado. . . . But even though her visit was short, I loved having a respite from the norm, especially given my unexpected Provo transitional issues.

Thanks for coming out, pal :) And thanks to Emily and Brooke for a ShamStellar birthday party. And thanks to Dan for driving us to the airport to take Shel back. (Now this is getting Academy-Award-esque.) But yeah, it was a good weekend :)
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