Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Fifteen: My iPods

Say what you will about the cult of Apple products, but I am personally thankful for the freedom and portability of music that I have enjoyed with my iPods.  My family does a lot of iPod swapping, the older iPod with less space going from the recipient of a new iPod to a family member without one or with one even older and less spacious.

Thus my first iPod was a 2GB white iPod that barely fit a quarter of my musicals on it but which I loved for years.  It now is still working and handles my grandmother's music quite well, with room to spare.  Which is one of the things about the iPod that sticks out in the world of electronics- in general, they work.  And work well, and easily, for many years.  There are not many other electronics that can boast the same.

 My second iPod is a red iPod nano with 4GB of space- so much more compared to my first iPod, but once I discovered music that I like beyond musicals and what my parents liked, I still needed more room.  (That one is now letting my dad listen to audio books on the way to work- my scheme to get him to read the Ender's Game series finally worked! mwa ha ha ha ha)

Which brings me to my current iPod- a purple 5th generation iPod nano with 16GB! like the one pictured above to the far right.  It has accompanied me across the country, twice, and on countless trips to and from work, home, and rehearsals.  It holds an audiobook, the best of my musicals, my rehearsal music and most of my other music perfectly. Maybe in another couple years I'll make a bid for a bigger one to fit more music on, but maybe my robot butler will take care of that by then :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Fourteen: The Library

I can't remember the first time I went to the library, or even when I got my first library card because I was so young, but the library has been and is, an important part of my life.

I chose this picture because it is the library that I remember going to all through my childhood and coming out with a stack of books under my chin.  Since I have never had a large amount of disposable income and a voracious love of books, the library has been my friend.  I spent countless hours roaming the stacks looking for my next new literary treasure.  My sisters never wanted to come on these outings, not because they necessarily didn't like the library, but because they never wanted to spend as much time there as I did.  My mom understood, though, and was happy to take me when she could.  I still remember the day I had two teeth pulled and I had a mouth full of cotton but I begged to be taken to the library because I didn't have a new book to read after I finished the one I was currently reading and I wanted a new book and a new movie to watch while I was in pain.  Mom said OK because she knew what it meant to me and she knew I was about to be in not insignificant amounts of pain once the dental shots wore off. (yes I had other painkillers but they were to dull the pain, not get rid of it)  I was so numb that I didn't realize that I was drooling blood in the middle of the teen fiction section, my sister had to point it out;  so I went outside, changed the cotton and went back in.  Such is my love for the library.

My family likes to joke that I have subsidized a wing of the library with all the fines I've paid, and they are exaggerating, but I bet I have bought a few shelves, but the late fees I've paid are not near the price of the books I have read or the value of what I have learned and experienced from those books.

When I discovered interlibrary loan, I was hooked.  I can get any book I want, from anywhere. The classics of science fiction, the complete works of that new author I found, that random nonfiction book that sounds so interesting that I heard about on the internet, all at my fingertips.  Heaven.

But let me say, the library hasn't kept me from having a significant library of my own at home, but knowing which books I want  to keep and read again and again is part of my debt to the library that I can never repay.  Which is why, today, I am thankful for the library and why I think I'll go over there later and pay off my newest collection of late fees.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Thirteen: Scripture Scouts

Reading the scriptures as a kid can be challenging.  Heck, it's challenging as an adult!  So finding a way to make the lessons and stories from the scriptures come alive for children has produced cartoons (Living Scriptures and Veggie Tales anyone?), simplified storybooks and longer illustrated versions of the scriptures.  But what influenced me, personally as a kid, was Scripture Scouts.

Scripture Scouts is a series of audio adventures that tell the story of (refer to the picture, in order) Baby, Skyler, Boo the Dog and Sue who have a tree house that they visit to share their problems and relate the stories in the scriptures to their lives- with music!  Not only are the problems that the children face extremely relatable, but the music is fun, catchy, and helps to illustrate the stories and the principles behind them perfectly.

I still remember many of the songs and even though they are simple, they are still very true and touching. I can remember so many nights when my sister Kelsey and I fell asleep listening to these stories and feeling happy and safe. I am so happy that I get to share Scripture Scouts with my little brother and I can't wait to share them with my children someday.  I am thankful for this sweet, simple introduction to the scriptures.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Twelve: Joss Whedon

If you've been living under a geek rock, as I was about six years ago, you have never heard or seen anything by Joss Whedon, and that is sad.  Joss has created some of the most original, interesting, creative, science fiction and fantasy shows of the last two decades.

While packing up my room from my sophomore year of college, I got distracted (not unusual) and wandered down the hall.  One of the girls on my floor was also packing and watching a show on her computer, a little show called Firefly.  Having run out of Stargate SG-1 episodes to borrow from one of my other hallmates, and sensing some science-fictiony goodness, I asked if I could borrow Disc One to watch while I packed.  She said sure, and I promptly popped in the DVD and forgot about packing.  I did manage to get packed and get home that summer, where I found the rest of the Firefly discs from the library and then proceeded to devour Firefly and Buffy in quick succession- that was an awesome summer.  (Sidebar: It's funny to think how I watched TV shows without Netflix- finding discs?  Who does that anymore?)  

Each of these shows have characters who are noble and self-sacrificing and brave.  Characters who, although they might be hurt or have issues or be the Chosen One, are able to work with other people.  Joss knows how to use an ensemble cast, which is why I am super excited to see The Avengers when it comes out next year.  

Superhero movies, up to now, have been exclusively focused on the main hero and their origin story or their problems facing villains and so forth.  There might be a girlfriend or friend who helps/needs help, but no real ensemble feel, which is perfectly fine for the kinds of movies that have come before.  But The Avengers doesn't have a main character- it has six!  And who else but Joss to make it work.

Joss also has a fondness for music and musicals, another genre that is dear to my heart, so when I came to the musical episode of Buffy I was in fantasy/musical geek heaven.  And when Dr. Horrible came out, I watched it raptly and bought the DVD as soon as I could.  The soundtracks live on my iPod to this day.  Because they are good.  I never would have expected a science fiction or fantasy show to produce a good musical, but, by George, or actually, by Joss, they did.  The songs are fun, tuneful, and emotional and forward the plot at the same time-  there are shows on Broadway right now that can't say the same.  

So, thank you Joss Whedon, for bringing courage, nobility, fascinating stories, great ensembles, and some darn good music to my life.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Eleven: Washington DC

It's funny the way that people who live close to places that are important or popular can take those places for granted.  I, personally, have lived most of my life near a popular beach town, Ocean City, MD, and not too far (2ish hours) from Washington DC.  Washington is far enough away that I guess I never completely took it for granted, but I did go almost every other year on a school trip, and on enough family trips that, for a while, it lost a lot of its appeal as a day trip destination.  I know where to get the rock candy in the Natural History museum, I know how to get to the sculpture garden from the Air and Space Museum, and I know where Kermit is in the American History museum- I figured that was enough.

But then I realized that there is so much more to DC than just the Mall (though there is more there to see than you realize when you are 12).  It could be fun just to spend a day reading the buildings!  There is a building that says, I kid you not, that the organization within the building strives to be an "ear trump to the world."  Hehehe- I wish I was an artist and I could draw the picture that comes into my head when I hear that phrase- kind of an old cartoony version of the world with arms and legs and a cane and a long white beard saying "Eh?"  with an ear trump to its ear which would be right over DC.  And I really want to go to the spy museum and the newspaper museum sometime.

And now, DC is my destination.  I've decided that I want to be a bigger part of my family's life, especially my little brother who is only one and I want to be close while he grows up.  On the other hand, I want to live my life, have friends, make money, and be on my own, and the Eastern Shore isn't exactly full of the best opportunities for me to do that.  So Washington DC is my goal- it has jobs, friends from college who have moved there, and a world of the arts that is only a couple hours from my family. Win-win. :-)  So that is why I am thankful for Washington DC.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Ten: Nutella

A lovely little treat that is good on toast, pretzels, or just by the spoonful.  I think I encountered Nutella first on my first trip to the UK.  Man, they have good breakfasts there.  Except for whatever that tomato thing was.... Anyway, today I am thankful for this small, delicious jar of happy.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Nine: Converse

Cute. Classic. Comfortable.  What else do you want in a shoe?

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Eight: The United Kingdom

I am thankful for the United Kingdom.  Not only have I visited twice and loved the country itself, but the UK has produced some of my favorite things and people.  Doctor Who for one, which I explained in great detail a few days ago... (okay, I gushed a bit)  Also Charles Dickens, the Beatles, David Tennant, Cadbury chocolate, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Sherlock, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, James McAvoy,  C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Monty Python, The IT Crowd, Ewan McGregor, ... I could go on and on, but I think I've hit the high points.

The United Kindom is also the home of the best accents in the world.  I swear that an Irish accent will always make me smile, a Scottish accent will make me grin, and a British accent can make me melt.  The UK consistently produces great actors, great dramas, and great literature- all things that I love.   Add in great music and it's not hard to see why I'm thankful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Seven: Disney

I am thankful for Disney.  Like most 80s babies, I grew up with the Disney renaissance.  The Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King were all an integral part of the soundtrack of my childhood.  My sister Kelsey and I would hours pretending to be Disney characters, attempting to construct costumes out of the odds and ends in the dress up box.

We took our first trip to Disney World in 1998.  We packed up the van, and made the drive from Maryland to Florida in one day.  The van only had one bench seat in the back- that meant there was always a girl in the middle seat ready to inadvertently touch or breathe the air of one of the adjacent girls, which was bound to happen in twelve hours of driving.  But it was worth it.  We were able to see the sun rise on Daytona Beach and then we arrived at Disney World.

Space Mountain was my first roller coaster- I can remember still being apprehensive but thinking, "What could be cooler than a ride through space?"  Going through each land felt like stepping into another world- something I had always longed to do with the books I read.  Disney's attention to detail and dedication to preserving the magic were things I didn't notice until later, but are definitely what made my first DW experience wonderful.

When my sister Kelsey attended the Disney College Program and had a blast, it didn't really occur to me to do the program myself because I was on the right track to finish my double major in four years and I didn't want to interrupt my studies, but when I was facing graduation and facing the prospect of "the real world" I found out that recent college graduates could attend the program if they applied before graduation. So I did and I spent a wonderful nine months working for the Mouse.

I was a character attendant and it was perfect- I worked with the Power Rangers (my 9 year old self was sooooo jealous), I could go to what ever park I wanted whenever I wanted, and I was able to see behind the scenes, which you would think would ruin the magic, but it actually added to the fun to be able to see how the magic was made and especially to be a part of it.  I would still be there now if they had hired me full-time, but the job market was looking bleak and no one was leaving.  Maybe one day I'll go back.

From my Beauty and the Beast pillowcases (which I only use when all the rest are in the laundry...),  to the tape of me singing "Part of Your World" when I was four, and the anticipation of the look on my little brother's face when he sees Mickey for the first time, I am thankful for Disney.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Six: The Gospel

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is hard to express how grateful I am that the church is in my life.  The gospel is something so personal and living it is not always easy, but I know it is true.

I know this church is true with a sure, quiet knowledge.  I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who sent us here to give us the chance to return, the chance to learn and grow.  I know that we have an older brother, Jesus Christ, who loved us enough to take on our sins and die for us and who rose from the dead so that one day we may do the same. They love us, They know us, They know our trials and They know our joys.  They know our potential, even when we don't see it.

I know that when I am in need, I will be comforted.  That there is always time to start to make things better.  I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are together testaments of the life of Jesus Christ and those who followed Him.  I know that by studying these books, I can improve my own life.

I know that I am not perfect and that that is OK.  I know that if I continue to try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, that He will make up the difference, I know that I can never repay that debt, but I need to try.  I know that serving others is the way to happiness.

I know that this is the church that Jesus Christ established when He was here on the earth. I know that is was restored in the present day by Joseph Smith, who was called by God as a prophet to restore His church.  I know that there is a prophet on the earth today, President Thomas S. Monson, who is able to receive revelation for us today, who is called to give guidance on issues that are especially important in our lives now.

I am grateful to belong to a church with the truth and the answers to many questions that I know many people in the world struggle with, or struggle to ignore.  I know where I came from, why I am here, where I am going and why bad things happen to good people.  And that is so important to me.

I am so grateful for my church, for the gospel, for this knowledge.  I hope that anyone who does not know what I know, who wants the answers, will look for them- go to mormon.org, ask that LDS guy you know, I promise you will find what you are looking for.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Five: Kit Kat

I am thankful for Kit Kat bars.  Especially from leftover Halloween candy. That's all for today. :-)

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Four: College

(I lived in the large garret room on the top floor my freshman year and the small room to the right of it my sophomore year- the one with the dormer window)
I am thankful for my college education.  Not just for the piece of paper that says I worked my butt off for four years and finished a double major, but for the entire experience.  I loved attending Southern Virginia University.

I loved the cool (not literally- no AC!), oddly shaped attic rooms I lived in my first two years in Main Hall, where we weren't supposed to hang things on the sprinkler pipes, but where else was I supposed to hang my christmas lights? I loved the hours spent in Chandler Hall rehearsing, spending time offstage not backstage (who needs one of those?) but crammed on the stairs or in the scene shop with no place to sit or in the green room where hopefully you timed things right to get back onstage because there was no way you could hear what was going on upstairs.  Writing this and reading it back to myself it kind of sounds sarcastic but I really did love all the quirks of SVU because they were our quirks.  They were part of what made SVU a family.

Not only were we so small that you knew everyone's face or their name, though you might not necessarily put the two together, but we knew the campus and loved it together.  We knew not to walk off the paths near Durham after a rainstorm for fear of losing a shoe, and we knew that there was a secret passageway from Main Hall to Durham, or maybe the library, but no one could say they had personally gone through it, just they knew that someone had.  We knew our professors, and I can personally say that I never hated a professor at SVU.

I loved being able to take a class from one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card.  Not only did he give me a new perspective on my favorite genres, but he showed me that authors are people too- not just mythical figures spinning perfect prose, but people with opinions and families and a job that required a lot of work, but could also be incredibly rewarding.

I also loved classes from my other professors- Professor Stoddard, Professor Cluff, Professor Dwyer, Professor Dransfield, Professor Jones- at what other university would a couple of professors sit down at a table in the cafeteria with some students and start discussing Harry Potter?

I discovered that even though I hated algebra, I loved logic problems, to the point where I think I annoyed some of my classmates in my logic class (sorry!).  I rediscovered my love of Greek mythology.  I found out how to make an auditorium with an extremely limited stage and no permanent seats into- an abbey, a Russian village, a theatre in the round, a tacky old woman's house, a Southern hair salon, and many more.  I found out how to clothe an entire play from Goodwill.  I learned how to find Cassiopeia.

I think I'll make my friends from college another post.  I am extremely thankful for my education from Southern Virginia University and if you, dear random reader, are a high school senior considering going to SVU - Go.  If you value a feeling of community and family in your life- Go.  If you want to be challenged by professors who know your potential- Go.  If you don't mind putting in the work to achieve something wonderful- Go.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Three: Computers

Today I am thankful for computers.  They have gone through many incarnations within my lifetime and from Kidpix to Google Chrome, I have used and enjoyed them immensely.

I can't even imagine what college would have been like if I hadn't had a computer.  Research and simply writing would have taken so much longer.  I don't know if I could have completed both majors in four years without my computer.  With the sheer amount of time you need to spend backstage when you are a theatre major, if you have your laptop, you can start writing your paper on the Aeneid and finish your Latin homework and still be on stage in time for "Sunrise, Sunset."

With the internet, it's easy to send pictures to my sister or talk face-to-face even though she is almost 3,000 miles away (OK not exactly easy *cough cough* Skype *cough cough* living in the middle of nowhere with the worst connection ever *cough cough* but it can be done).

I can network with my friends from college who live all over the country. I can finally find out that I am not the only geek in the universe who likes science fiction and musicals. I can explore the inner workings of whatever industry interests me.  I can buy books and find out when the new Orson Scott Card/ Brandon Sanderson/ Terry Prattchett book will arrive.  I can revise and update my resume and print out as many as I need when I need them.  I discovered my own musical taste beyond musicals and the music my parents like. I can buy Scripture Scouts CDs for my baby brother for his birthday.

Any of these things would have been not impossible, but extremely difficult and/or time consuming even 30 years ago.  And for all these things that computers can do, I am thankful.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Two: Doctor Who

I am thankful for Doctor Who.  Due to a chance reference on The Big Bang Theory, my brother-in-law decided to give this BBC sci-fi show that he saw on Netflix a try- little did he know he was starting a chain of Whovians that continues to this day.  He started watching, and my sister started watching over his shoulder, which prompted her to tell me about it. I then proceeded to watch the first four seasons of the new Who (and the 2009 specials) in a little over two weeks- devouring the show in up-til-4am marathons.  I then bought all the new seasons plus the specials from eBay and watched them all again in a more leisurely manner with my roommate.  And then again through season three with another friend. And I told my grandfather about them and he watched them all.  And then my roommate's family started watching.  Who knows how far the joy will go?

 Doctor Who is a show that America wants to have- a show that the whole country loves that the whole family can watch and love together, but a family is not necessary for watching the show and enjoying it.  The reason there is no corresponding show in America is the constant view that live action shows for kids must a) always include children and/or talk exclusively to them- b)always include adults that are dumb or condescending- c) always have simple plots and/or plot devices because children couldn't possibly understand complexity.  And if it is a "family show" it must either be vanilla bland or include sly sexual jokes and innuendos "for the adults."  Ugh.

Doctor Who succeeds because of the strength of its characters and storylines.  It doesn't talk down to children or wink at adults.  When I first watched the series, I was unaware of the fact that it was seen as a "family show" or a "children's show" in the UK.  I just fell in love.

And I admit that no small part of that was because of David Tennant.  He is and will always be "my Doctor."  He portrayed a character who wasn't afraid of jumping into a wrong situation and talking his way into making things right.  He was haunted by his past but he didn't let it stop him from saving the world. A lot.  (Also why I like BtVS)  He used his brain instead of guns.  And he had fun!  He could walk up to a monster and say "Brilliant! I've never seen a monster quite like you!  Have you always had those large teeth?"  and walk away!  Christopher Eccleston did a remarkable job of reviving the Doctor's character and Matt Smith is wonderful and goofy and old in all the right ways, but David Tennant could go from fun and brilliant to intense and powerful in the blink of an eye (btw- love "Blink").  And he is just as amazing on stage- I was able to see him in Much Ado about Nothing this past July and he could stand on stage covered in paint and make the audience roll in the aisles with the twitch of his eyebrow.  I may not have been able to get his autograph (they are serious about  not being out backstage for long), but that show is a memory I will not be able to forget.

Finally, it is the best science fiction show ever. Period.  Not every show hits all the right notes, but the ones that do- really do.  Not because of their originality (though there is enough of that) or lack of holes (though the handwaving is, IMO kept to an ignorable minimum)  but because of their service to the characters and the experience they give the audience.  Neither I nor anyone who watches the show be in the position to save the world, but making sacrifices for our friends and standing up for what is right in the face of fierce opposition is certainly a possibility and having a character who isn't mostly vain and self-serving is, unfortunately for television in general, a fairly unusual occurrence.

And that is why I am thankful for Doctor Who.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sooooo- I kind of skipped September...and October

So- Let me 'esplain.  No, is too much- Let me sum up.  I think about things too much and when I don't know what to do, I tend to take the "avoid" option if it is possible- thus my lack of blogging.  But here's how the last two months were- Yay! Kelsey and Nathan are here! (my sister and brother-in-law for those fictional readers outside my family)  Boo! They left to live in St. George.  Yay! I have a birthday!  Boo! I'm 25 and still single and unemployed.  Yay! I'm taking a trip to DC to have an interview with a job agency!  Eh?  I am with the agency but they don't typically have jobs that I would be a good fit for so I should keep looking anyway.  So not bad, but not exactly great either.  So one of my favorite blogger/authors, John Scalzi, is doing a Thanksgiving Advent calendar with one thing each day that he is grateful for.  I think that is a great idea and a way to get myself going on this blog thing.  So without further ado..... Day One!
My Family
(Top Row: Dad, Mom - Middle Row: Me, Kelsey, Taylor - Kelsey's Lap: Adam)
I have been extremely blessed to have a family that loves and supports each other.  Not that we never have problems or challenges, but we get through them.  We keep in touch, we talk too much, we catch each other when we fall.  We have wonderful surprises (Adam) and great additions (brother in law Nathan).  We have great genes- my great-grandmother is still alive and well, and have you seen my parents?  That photo was from last year!  I hope I have inherited the ability to look that much younger in my 40s. My mom taught me to read when I was 3? 4? I can't remember a time when I couldn't read, she taught me the power of a good book, of learning not only from my mistakes, but learning from other's mistakes so I didn't have to make them too.  My dad is my rock as well as the hand on my back, pushing me in the right direction. Kelsey is my sounding board, Taylor is my baby sister who I must protect from all evil, and Adam is my daily joy while I am here at home trying to figure out my life. I also have amazing grandparents- I didn't get to know my paternal grandmother because she died when my dad was 9, but I did know my Grandad and he loved my sisters and me so much and I know he would have loved to meet Adam too, but I guess we'll have to wait for that.  My maternal grandparents- my Nana and Popi-  have been a source of strength and love for my family my whole life.  Living so close to us we always had Sunday dinner at their house (still do),  and went there after school all the time.  Popi is my science fiction and fantasy buddy and I love sharing books and movies with him.  Nana's house has always been a refuge.  A place where I can go and think and figure things out.  For all of them and all they have done for me, I am thankful.

I think I got a little sappy, but I guess that's the point of this whole "being grateful" thing- realizing how much you appreciate what you have.  Until tomorrow- this is Elizabeth, signing off.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Glaring Omissions from my YA post

There are a couple books that I realized I should have included in my beloved YA books list so here they are.  Next time maybe I'll start in on the series books I loved.
Holes by Louis Sachar
One of the only books that I think the movie did a good job of interpreting the book- but the book is still better.  I was never a juvenile delinquent and never wanted to be- and I still didn't after reading this book, but it gives very interesting insight into the characters and backgrounds of those who do end up in places like Camp Green Lake.  And it is a western/eastern european-style fairy tale as well!  Try it now. Thank me later.

  Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
This book started my love of retold fairy tales.  And it is still, in my opinion, one of the best.  The fascinating nature of the curse that Ella is under and her freedom despite its restrictions is inspiring.  And the romance is handled very deftly.  Whatever you do, DON'T see the movie.  If you have seen it, forget it before you read the book- the book is so good and the movie so bad in comparison that, unlike Holes,  I am sorry they made the movie- hopefully it will be remade eventually with the love and respect it deserves.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Anne is why I always wanted to be a redhead.  She was the character I always wanted as a best friend when I was in 4th and 5th grade.  Anne is adventurous and outspoken (unlike me) but loved books and imagination like I do.  I was (and still am) sure that we would be "kindred spirits" if we ever could meet. 
Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
This is the only other Anne of Green Gables book that I read more than once.  I love the adventure and spirit of the first book and the subsequent books seemed to be more sedate.  Except this one.  Anne goes to be a teacher at a school away from Green Gables and has to hold her own against a number of colorful characters in a way that again captured the fire that I found in Anne of Green Gables.

P.S.  All of the YA books I have mentioned are in my house, so in case Hurricane Irene brings about the apocalypse a year early *heh* I will be fully prepared to share my wisdom with the new generation of rubble-dwellers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Do You Do With a BA in English?

I know I'm not the first to use this quote from Avenue Q as a title to a post, and probably not the last, but it sums up so well where my mind is right now.  I know the standard, optimistic answer to that question is "Anything you want! You know how to learn and adapt."  But what it feels like is "Anything you want if you want to go back to school for a few more years" or "Anything you want if the economy improves overnight" or "Anything you want if you know people who do what you want to do and can help you."

I've always loved reading and I found a love for theatre very early and I'm extremely stubborn so I guess it wasn't that surprising that I picked a double major in English and Theatre and stuck with it, and even the times when I think, "I'm a good enough student that I could have been a lawyer or something"  I think again and think "And I would have been awful because I would have been simultaneously bored and belligerent because I hate red tape and stupidity"  which covers most jobs that make lots of money.

Granted I wouldn't have actually made trouble- I hate confrontation- but I wouldn't have done good work.  Which is something I really want to do.  I want to make life better for people in some way.  I would love to do that by performing but the theatre world is, at the most basic, expensive and mean.  You have to either have enough money to be out of work a lot or work at crappy jobs that you don't care about just to be able to audition and you can't care about them because if something good comes along you have to take it.

And I want to do well even at crappy jobs because even though it's a crappy job for me, it means something to the owner or the customer.  That's the reason why I'm having a hard time deciding if I should get a job while I'm looking for a full time job.  If I get a part time job then a) I won't be spending all my time looking for a full time job and b) if I get a full time job shortly after I get the part time job, I would be leaving a job I would have promised to be available for right after I gave my availability.  And I doubt I would get a job if I said that I was hoping to leave at any time.

So what do I do with my BA in English?  Well if I'm not spontaneously discovered by a vacationing record producer who goes to my church, I'm going to keep trying to get into publishing.  I'll explain why next time.  And I'll try to be less boring!  I know how boring I am but it feels great to put my thoughts out there.  Allons-y!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Books I Have Loved

I was reading a post on Epbot where she reviews a few YA books that she has read recently and she gives The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley a rather lackluster review. I can understand her review because The Blue Sword is the one McKinley book that I don't really care for.   But I didn't want one book to keep her from reading any more McKinley, so I left a comment echoing the prevailing sentiment that she should give McKinley one more try.

Commenting on the post and professing my continuing, love for The Hero and the Crown and Rose Daughter, I started thinking about all the other books that I started reading in elementary and middle school that I continued to return to on the days when just any book wouldn't do.  The days when I needed to be more than a chubby little bookworm- I needed to fight a dragon, or become a sailor, or survive on my own in the wilderness.

So if you have a bookworm who needs some classics to return to again and again, here are some that worked for me:

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
The story of a girl who slays the dragon, but is wounded in the process and must struggle to heal not only her body, but her spirit.

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
A wonderfully unique take on the tale of Beauty and the Beast.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
A girl from the 19th century discovers that she has what it takes to be a sailor.  This book has a lot of rich characterization and detail about ships and sailing.

 Nothing but the Truth by Avi
I was never really a rebel of any sort, but this book gave me a taste of rebellion for a good cause and standing up for what you think is right.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Probably my first taste of the science fiction idea of a flawed utopia.  I love the way that a world similar but vitally different from our own is introduced, especially because the main character has lived his whole life in that world and doesn't know anything different.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
This book combines an element of fantasy with a truthful look at the Holocaust.  Like the rest of the recommended books, the main character may not be perfect, but she learns and grows and makes the right choices even when things are darkest.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
A wonderful book, almost a fairy tale, about a boy who appears and turns a neighborhood upside-down. He's allergic to pizza, he loves butterscotch krimpets and briefly lives in the zoo.  He meets a girl who carries a library with her in a suitcase- I always wanted one.  Fun and noble with warm fuzzies on the side.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Another vibrant character from Jerry Spinelli.  Stargirl  I think really helped me realize that being different isn't the end of the world and can be the best thing about you.  It is also a sweet romance, real and innocent at the same time.

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Not only are the characters quirky and fun and deep, but the whole book revolves around a trivia tournament.  And somehow the answers tie in to the lives of the characters.  Genius.  Did you know the word "tip" started as an acronym for To Insure Promptness?  Definitely a book that will stick with you.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
I loved this book because it shows such a real family in such a perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction.  And this was a book that I loved the first time through but I definitely didn't understand all of it at first.  This was a book that I didn't reread just because I loved it, but because every time I reread it there was something I didn't notice before.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
It was kind of odd that I loved this book, because I did not enjoy being outside myself very much.  But I loved the courage and resourcefulness that the main character showed just trying to eat, something I always took for granted.

The Monument by Gary Paulsen
Now, believe me, I am a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy- some of that love came from some of these books, but I wish that some of the YA books coming out about wizards and vampires now had half as much heart and character depth that I cherished in this book. Harry Potter does, and a few others, but not nearly enough.  This book is probably the one on the list most firmly grounded in the real world, the others have, at the very least, a touch of "magical realism." But it doesn't feel the need to say, "Look how real I am! Aren't you impressed by how real I am?!?"  It simply is.  And that makes a huge difference.

Going through these books, I didn't realize that so many of them were Newbery award winners! Just so you know, I was not exactly a picky or discerning reader as a kid.  I read Babysitter's Club and Saddle Club and Sweet Valley Twins books like they were popcorn, but these were the books that I kept coming back to.  I hope this list inspires at least one person to give a book they haven't read a try, or to rediscover an old friend.

P.S. Ok, so not exactly short and sweet, but I hope you stuck with me :-)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Living in Limbo

When you're in elementary school, you think that high schoolers are the coolest of the cool, and so much older.  When you get to high school you realize that you were wrong (well, slightly mistaken, after all, you do know everything). No, college kids are so awesome and old and mature- surely they know what they are doing and what the future holds.  Then you graduate college and realize that you are only slightly less clueless about the "real world" than you were in elementary school.  And you deal.

So that's where I am right now.  Dealing.  Well, I've been dealing for three years, but it's very in-my-face right now.

And dealing isn't really the right word for everything I've been doing.  I worked at Disney World as a character attendant and had a wonderful time learning how to make magic.  I lived in Utah and got paid to be in a show for the first time.  And those things were So. Cool.

But now I'm back home and back to dealing.  Not that I didn't want this- I decided to come back to the east coast to be near my family.  The job I had in Utah wasn't my cup of tea and depressing as well.  Bah. Life has to be so complicated sometimes.  I want to be here but I want to move on.  I feel so between.

Between a child and an adult.  Between dependent and independent.  Between daughter and sister and friend.  Between past and future.  I want to arrive!

Well, it won't be forever.  I just need to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Unless I see something shiny...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Single Post

I've been debating for a while how to start, and I've decided to go with a classic.  Who am I and why do I want to start a blog?  Answer:  I am Elizabeth Brady, I am 24 years old, and I am currently unemployed.

This blog is not a way to say "I'm so awesome please hire me now" (because it's kind of silly to think that employers are just cruising Blogger looking for new writers when the economy is such that writers are falling over themselves to get in line for the good jobs) it's just a way for me to brush up on my writing skills which I have used, shall we say, "sparingly" in the time between graduation and now.

I will try to keep these posts short and sweet because I know the attention span of the average internet reader, heck, the average person nowadays, is kinda small.  So in case someone does happen to stumble across my blog, other than my mom (Hi, Mom!),  it won't take long for them to make up their mind whether they want to stick around or not.

Finally, these short posts will be on whatever I want, following the example of one of my favorite blogger/authors, John Scalzi.  So if a journey starts with a single step, this archive will start with a single post.  As the Doctor says: "Allons-y!"

P.S.- Dear Future self looking back on your first blog post,
         I hope you have all the things I haven't quite found yet.  Just little things like "a job," "a car," "money,"  "a great guy"... if it's far enough in the future, "a great husband," "kids..."  I hope you appreciate them as much as I want them.  And when you read this, make sure you find a way to show it. (Especially the hubby- give him a big kiss for me and then punch his arm for not showing up yet.  I mean now.  I mean my now. You know what I mean...)