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 >>
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