Thursday, December 6, 2012

Heidi Has a Happy Hippo

Just in case you're wondering, this post has a lot to do with religion.

When I was in fourth grade, I was invited to participate in the program, Oddyssey of the Mind. In our radically eclectic skit, my character was a puzzle peice named "Happy." I thought it was fitting, seeing as my first name is Heidi, and like Stan Lee, I'm a sucker for a good alliteration, especially when it comes to names. "Happy Heidi."

A little while after that, Stephanie drew these little illustrations of animals for each of us. They had adjectives, too. We each had a different animal. Well, mine was a hippo. A happy hippo. I didn't like being associated with a hippo, but I really liked being named "Happy" once again.

I don't have anything especially exciting to report. My life is pretty routine. I go to work, I go home. I go to church, I go get groceries. I look forward to the weekend, and I don't love Mondays.

But, I am happy.

Sometimes, when I kneel beside my bed to pray before I fall asleep, reflecting on my day and my life, I am overcome with a sense of happiness. I am surprised by it. It is not fleeting. It is constant. I am truly, deeply, actually happy. (No matter how much I wish it were different, the only thing I really feel in the morning when I pray is sleepy. Oh well).

I'm not really sure how long I had been deeply unhappy, but I can tell you: I was. I was so busy with college, and dating (I figured it out. Since I was 21, I have had only 10 months of "singleness," 6 of which have been the last half year. That's exhausting, and admittedly, a little unhealthy), that I really wasn't keeping my self in check. And I wasn't happy. To be honest, I wonder if I was ever really happy at college.

The summer was a little strange for me. I felt sad, but I enjoyed it. After all, I have a right to be sad, . Being sad is a part of the human experience, and a blessing. I am thankful for ALL of the blessings that my Heavenly Father allows me to have.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't wallowing: I've done that before, and it isn't productive. No, this was a productive kind of sad, and sad might be the wrong word for it (maybe contrite? But nobody uses that word anymore). Anyhow, being sad helped me think about my SELF and who I am, and most importantly, what makes me happy. (Leave a comment if you can think of a better word for this. I just can't think of one).

I started reading more again. I used to read quite a lot for pleasure, but at school, I couldn't really choose what I read, because I was reading, reading, reading what the professors assigned me to read. I love the way I grew as a reader and a scholar during school, but there was something missing, too. So, here I was at home, and wanting to read, so I went to the library and brought home a stack of books, all picked by ME. Then I read them. Then I took them back. Then I got a new stack of books. Which I read. It was awesome.

I started painting with watercolors, too. I'm not very good, because I'm a beginner, but I enjoy watercolors. I like to play with the colors, and mixing, and trying to get the shapes and textures on the page the way I imagine. I think of myself as an artist these days. My work with markers and color pencils is, in my opinion, inspired. When I paint or draw, I feel a sense of peace and trainquility.

I re-evaluated my relgion. This, to me, means I re-evaluated my relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that I re-decided whether or not to have this relationship, but that I decided to change the way I related to Them. I prayed more. I studied the scriptures, my patriarchal blessing, and my journal to re-discover the many tender mercies I am showered with constantly. I changed my journal writing to focus on them, and describe them, so that in the future, when I come to a similar place in life, I will have more material to study.

I worked in the garden. I hope I helped my Mom, working in the house. I made new friends and I made new plans for myself.

Being happy is fantastic. I don't have to be at a party or playing a game to feel it; that's not the same kind of happiness I'm talking about. I don't even need to be dating someone. It's a feeling of deep satisfaction with who I am, and knowing that God is also satisfied with who I am, too.

I have this theory about cycles: everything is a cycle. Life is a cycle. Each day cycles in and out, each week, each year -- and so, too, do our lives, in a way, through a cycle of self examination and self acceptance:

1. First, we lose ourselves, and become a stranger with the person we are.
2. Then, we re-discover ourselves, or discover our new selves for the first time, again.
3. Then we learn to accept and adjust to who we now are.
4. Finally, we change again, becoming a stranger to our selves once more, starting the cycle over again.

I don't think that's deep or profound, but it's beautiful, and I don't have anything deep or profound to say, except that I am happy. I may not be the same little girl with a painted, plywood puzzle peice costume dancing on a stage singing "Happy, happy ha-PPY!" but I still am (or rather, am again finally) "Happy Heidi."

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Couple of Japanese-Inspired Poems

So, yeah. Haiku is un-translatable into the English language. I get that. But here are a couple of "standard" English-language, autumn-inspired haiku's that I wrote today as examples for my creative writing students. I don't think they're too bad.
He hands her a cup

That’s full of apple cider

Too soon it empties


Red salamander

He doesn’t know that the fall

Comes without warning

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Students are Geniuses.

We wrote these "found" poems together as a class. I was amazed by my students' talent.

Three girls laughing
in bright colored dresses
Jewelry jingling,
plastic bags crinkling,
cars going,
elephants roaring.
The happiness,
the love,
the spice
of India.

"The Owl"
The coolness of
morning fog
crickets cricking
pine needles poking
a birch tree branch --
silent wings flapping
white and brown silk
the warmness of his stomach
yellow eyes.

"Whale Song"
Sunny dady
salty sea water splashing
waves of water -- wet.
A whale breaching
excited, happy, hungry.
playful, free, energetic --
Whale song.

Water seeping in the dirt
Rotting flesh. Rat feces.
Screaming shouts of cursing men
The sky reflects their mood.
Eyes down-cast.
Boots squish with every step
A comrad being carried --
the boy's body: barely breathing.
Injured or dead?
Sweat on my lips,
dirt on my teeth,
blood on my tongue.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Make a Sandwich

  1. First, move to New York City from Yugoslovia.
  2. Learn English by watching daytime soap operas.
  3. Meet an Elementary school teacher named Suzy in Central Park. Use soap opera vocabulary to woo Suzy into a quick, green-card-grabbing wedding.
  4. Identify hunger.
  5. Yell out, "Suzy, make me a sandwich!" Preferably while watching your soaps, wearing a wifebeater undershirt, and drinking a cheap beer.
  6. Wait patiently for sandwich to be prepared.
  7. Enjoy sandwich!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Designing Heidi

We've been told that everyone is different, everyone is unique, but lately I've had my doubts.

People follow patterns: it makes life easier to live. Making decisions, even stupid ones like "Apricot or strawberry jam on my toast today?" add up, and can be exhausting. So, we tend to make the choice once, and then repeat it. That's why people have a favorite donut --- "oh, I always get the chocolate covered bavarian" or a favorite soda '---"diet coke, please?" --- but they don't tend to stray from that often, if ever.

I've had moments of odd realization, like "I always use THIS stall in public bathrooms," or "why do I always walk this way to school?" and I don't really have an answer for myself, except that it just seems like it would be exhausting to have to pick a different john or walk an alternative yet equidistant path to class.

It doesn't stop there.

If you zoom out on your life and look at the macro-vision of what you've done, you might find that you're living life a little bit like you write a paper. First, you get an idea, brainstorm it, an then write an outline. As you draft, you follow the skeleton outline you've already envisioned to help you make important decisions about the shape your paper is going to take. You get to a point somewhere just beyond adolescence where everything has been outlined, and if nothing goes wrong, you can feel comfortable with the steady ebb of life's big decisions (many of which tend to happen just beyond adolescence. Isn't that interesting?).

You know, I've actually written that outline. You probably have, too. Really, anyone who's written down their goals or "5 year plan" has outlined, at least in part, their life. That is the major shape of your life which you will live.

When I'm writing a paper, I mean a really long research or argumentative paper, I can't possibly succeed without an outline. It's weird when you realize that you're writing your own life, but last time I checked, life is long. It needs an outline the same way a long paper needs an outline -- you can't possibly succeed without it.

Individualism is overrated. Why be an individual, when you could be successful? Success is a pattern that we can weave into the outline of our lives. Not every life is the same, but successful lives are all similar: those who live successfully are satisfied with what they have done with their time here on earth.

Sure, they've done different things. They've made different contributions, and they've said different words. That's not the point: they've all lived life fully, and found satisfaction in the end.

Are you satisfied with what you've done?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Utah? Well O.K.!

I can't believe it, but I got the most amazing job!

I will be teaching 7th grade langauge arts and creative writing at Syracuse Arts Academy in Utah. It is a dream come true. I am extremely excited. I really can't tell you how far over the moon I am for this job!

I also bought a new car: yes, Baby had to go. Remember the little ford focus I was so enthralled to find last summer? It passed away loudly on my way home from a YSA conference my good friend Ivan put together in Gettysburg (which was incredibly fun, by the way! I probably should have blogged about it, but... oh well! haha). We got it towed (if you don't have towing insurance, get it. It usually only costs a few dollars more per year, and it just saved me $200.00, so it was well worth it!) back to Montgomery and worked on. Then my Mom took her for a shake-down cruise (again to Gettysburg and back) before heading out to the wild, wild west, and it started having a different problem, so I decided to trade her in for something a little more reliable.

Meet Olga, the Olympian.

She's awesome. She gets about 38 miles per gallon on the highway while burdened with all my worldly possessions (she even got a little over 39 once). She steers like a dream, is incredibly comfortable, and smells like a brand new car -- which makes sense, because after all, she's only 2 years old.

By the way, I have an amazing credit score (yes, I am bragging. It was quite surprising, and I'm delighted).

Anyhow, I'm back in Utah with Olga. I didn't really want to come back to Utah when I graduated, but luckily Utah and Provo are actually two very different places, and I'm excited to spend more time with my sisters and cousins who live out here, too. Not to mention my very good friends (you know who you are)!

And honestly, I'm actually very excited to be back in the Beehive State. As my good friend Brigham once said, "this is the place!" ;-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Recognizing Excellence in Writing

It took me approximately 1 hour to get through the first Twilight novel by Stephanie Meyer, and felt I should gouge out my eyes with a broach to adequately mourn the time wastefully spent skimming through page after page of trashy cliches and basically poor prose. In contrast, I spent 2 delicious hours savoring each word in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, a deeply beautiful novel that also caused me to mourn: not for time ill spent, but for the end of something so exquisite, so poignant and so beautiful that I wished to always be reading it. It is not ironic that I should so happily spend double the time reading a book of only half the length of Twilight:  it is simply the difference between good and poor writing.

Shakespeare is a fantastic standard in the English language for good writing. He unceasingly employs creative and exacting poetic devices that elevate his writing in a continuous upward transcendence. He does use cliche, but not generally speaking, and not as a fall-back tool of the trade. No. The Bard is much better than that.

Students, too, can learn to be better writers than a New York Times bestselling author! Student writing can be monotonous to read when poorly done, but it also can be a fantastic experience when students rise to the occasion and produce quality work.  I have noticed, while reading student essays, that a few always cause me to to pause and read a little slower. They make me think, and they have a funny sort of beauty, too. They use delicate and sometimes intricate figurative language, and they are rhetorically sound. Writing is nothing more than communication: the attempt of a thinker to transmit his or her thoughts to another. It is immediately apparent to a reader how much thought fueled the writing. The craftsmanship of the figurative language, the complexity of the thoughts, and the poetry of the two fused together make good writing unmistakable.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Sad Life in a Series of Disney Quotations

Lately I find myself easily comparing me to Jessie the yodeling cowgirl:
"When somebody loved me, everything was beautiful. Every hour we spent together lives within my heart." -Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl, Toy Story 2.

My main tactic for moving on with my life has been to just not think about the last year at all. The experience is way too much like the above quoted Sarah McLachlan song, and the truth is:

I am a desperately hopeless romantic.

I believe in LOVE. What can I say? I was nourished by Disney movies growing up, and now it's just too late. You are what you eat. I can't believe in love and let myself wallow in self pity, not this time. I can't be Mariana of the Moated Grange any longer, or say to myself, "Sometimes its better to be alone" (Megara, Hercules). 

"If there's a prize for rotten judgement, I guess I've already won that." -Megara, Hercules

I know that makes me old fashioned, but I really, truly believe in the kind of love that transcends time, space, and circumstance. I believe that there exists a love that embraces all my weird quirks and histories, and someday, when the time is just right, we will meet.

"¡Ven conmigo! ¡Te mostrarĂ© las maravillas de la galaxia, y juntos lucharemos contra el despiadado Zurg!" -Spanish Mode Buzz

It just hasn't happened yet. Until then, "I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now" (Edna Mode, The Incredibles).

"Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!" -"E"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life Enrichment vs Life Sustaining

I have been thinking lately about what makes life worth living. Here is a short list:

  1. Ice cream. Any time, any where.
  2. Visiting the zoo.
  3. Watching a double feature at the drive-in movie theater with my friends, and making jokes that they laugh at, even though I'm not that funny, but feeling like Tina Fey because they laughed a LOT.
  4. Going for a long run or bike ride and feeling like I'm not running, but flying.
  5. Donuts at Grandma's house.
  6. Stopping at Little America for 50 cent cones after a long drive through Nebraska
  7. Walking through Mammoth Cave in Kentucky with my Dad.
  8. Listening to Shakira sing "Waka Waka" and convincing myself that she's talking to me, personally, and that the whole thing has nothing to do with soccer, or Africa, but everything to do with my life lately (Or as John Green would write it, My Life Lately).
  9. Reading a book by John Green, and realizing that even though he chose to be a writer instead of a minister, he actually is a minister, not a writer.
  10. Reciting "The Soldier" by  Rupert Brooke at work and replacing the word "England" for "Reptiland."
  11. Singing along to "Hotel California" with my sisters and brothers as I drive them somewhere, and realizing that my brothers and sisters are more awesome than I ever gave them credit for, because they already know all the lyrics.
  12. Watching "Little Women" and crying EVERY TIME when Beth dies.
  13. Finishing a large drawing of the solar system, and feeling a small portion of what God must have felt when he created the real solar system.
  14. Selling the book Verdi to a young mother who hasn't read it yet.
  15. Discovering that there is a new Avatar, and all of the first book so far is available on, and watching the first 3 episodes with my sisters!
I don't need to do any of these things. They are not requisite to survival. The same is true of many things: in fact, most of the things that make life worth living, I find, are not the things that make life possible to live.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Plea From Hell

I wrote this poem originally in 10th grade while reading The Inferno by Dante Alighieri and studying the romantic poets of Great Britain. I recently found it and made a few small revisions for rhythm and rhyme (considering the content, I felt that an ontology was required):

We've fallen underground
the sounds of Hell around
The pressure and the strain,
the fire and the pain
The gnashing of the teeth
the stench that from us seethes

It's endless torment;
We're in Hell.
the relief we seek
we know well
is never to come
we won't die
though how our souls will
Always try
I can only start
to tell.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What Dorothy Gale Didn't Tell Aunty Em

"End, begin: it's all the same. Big change!"

I love my home, and I've wanted to come back for such a long time -- but, I've got to be honest -- I've had a recurring nightmare for the last few years: when I come home to visit, I am forced by legal or maternal forces to return to high school, and it is awful.

I've been thinking lately that I might want to get an art add-on to my certification. So, before diving into that, I decided to observe some art classes in motion. I contacted my high school art teacher, as well as the elementary art teacher, and I observed them teach for a day.

I loved observing, especially the elementary classes. They were sweet, and creative, and excited about art. They thought I was awesome, and, well, that made them awesome.

Going back to my school was like entering the twilight zone: all of my nightmares congealed with my actual memories, and I felt like I was swimming through a Dali painting.

Everything was just the same as I left it. The teachers were all the same, the posters in the halls and in the rooms were the same, the carpet and schedule and broken policies were the same. The students even seemed to be the exact same students who roamed the halls before I was released, wearing the same cut off shorts and bunched up tee-shirt, combing the same section of hair carefully over the same eye as ever before. The band room reverberated with the same sounds, and the cafeteria stenched of the same smells, the gossip dripped in clinging, black gobs from the same mouths into the same ears.

I took my little sister to a fund raiser fair for the elementary last night, and I saw a classmate who graduated with me. We had been through all those years together, in the same OM team in elementary, in some of the same classes, calling each other strange nick names until the bitter end, and yet, when we passed each other in the hall, we didn't make eye contact. We barely said hello. We walked a little faster.

This town is a fantastic place, full of kind people, and a great school district. There's just something funny about leaving a place as a child, and coming back as an adult. It strips you bear of all you've built around yourself since that time, and it makes you feel trapped in a never-changing mirror.

It doesn't help that I'm in a similar place in my life as I was the last time I was in that building: flux. Then, I had just finished high school, and I knew that I was going to BYU, and everything would be changing, but I was blind the reality of how that change would affect me, shape me, make me the woman I am now. Today, I just finished college. I know that I am going to become an English teacher, and everything will be changing, but I am cognizant of how blind I am to the reality of how this change will affect me, shape me, and turn me into a different woman than I am today.

I wrote a post a while ago about Luke Skywalker. I've been thinking about those thoughts, and I've wanted to take my own advice: but I think that it may have been flawed. Luke and Frodo both find, eventually, the perspective their elders have masted -- eventually. Who am I to criticize them for the time it took them to find serenity amidst a paradigm shift? It may take practice, more than sheer will power.

What do you think? I am all at sea.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter About Life in College

To: my sweet sister, Kimber, upon the occasion of your graduation.

Dear Kimber,

This is an exciting season of change for both of us. You are graduating from high school, and in the fall, you are going to BYU. I am graduating from BYU, and in the fall, I will be going to high school (as a teacher). . . (I hope I hope!). I think it's as good a time as any to tell you all you need to know to survive the jungle. Seeing as you and I are so similar, I think that my advice will be especially helpful for you. Here is a list:

  1. don't drink the water. It may not be a foreign country, but it is in town, and you are used to well water. It will taste really gross, and if you try to drink as much as you need in a day, the poisons in it will make your belly ache, too. get a Britta filter. Use it.
  2. Spend as little money as you possibly can in the BYU bookstore. It seems cool at first, because it embodies the spirit of BYU in a sense, but I promise you: you will come to resent that establishment almost as much as you resent someone spitting in your morning cereal. The solution?, which is powered by ebay. Yes, ebay is the answer. Ebay is always the answer.
  3. Eat real food. Food that you literally eat day in and day out will eventually make you sick at the sight of them. So, if you ever want to enjoy Cheerios or peanut putter sandwiches again, make sure that you also eat something else during the course of the day. Like meat. And vegetables.
  4. If you eat junk food, you WILL get fat. It's just one of those things you don't want to learn the hard way.
  5. If you got it from a vending machine, it IS junk food, and it WILL make you fat.
  6. If a boy asks you on a date, and you are in the HBLL, then he's a jerk and a player. Don't bother.
  7. If a boy asks you on a date, and it is not the library, you might as well say yes as long as you're not already in a serious relationship and you're not getting creeper vibes from him.
  8. Never go for a run after dark.
  9. Never run on the river trail.
  10. If a boy asks you out, and you are both in the same ward, then think carefully. It sounds nice, the idea of getting to spend 2 hours every Sunday with your boyfriend during church, BUT, do you really want to spend 2 hours every Sunday with your ex boyfriend?
  11. Use to find the right professor for each class. Remember, too, that a negative rating might be positive in actuality (IE: "Don't take this professor! He requires you to .....learn! And it will stretch your brain until it expands to capture a larger portion of the knowable universe!" How dare he!)
  12. Take astronomy from Professor Moody. That way, you can say that you took a class from Professor Moody.
  13. Even if you don't go to "FHE" or devotional or institute every week, go to the temple every week. It's a good choice. You may never again have the opportunity.
  14. When a boy asks you "What are you thinking about?" when he hugs you goodnight after a date, he probably is thinking about kissing you. Beware.
  15. You don't have to marry the first jerk who tells you he loves you.
  16. Keep a separate journal to record all of your dates in, and keep a running tally of all the boys who ask you out. Dating is a game of feast or famine. Written proof of the coming feast will help you stave off the hunger of famine.
  17. Learn to find quality, cool clothes at the DI. This is a very difficult and frustrating talent to foster, but it will save you tons of money if you can pull it off.
  18. Do NOT join the medieval club. I will disown you if you do.
  19. Wash your dishes every time you make a dish dirty, and wash them right away. If you leave even ONE dish in the sink, you basically fail as a roommate and you deserve to feel crummy about how rude you are to all of your unfortunate roommates who have to deal with your crap under their noses all day long. Remember: You are living with strangers! They don't have to love you, and a sure-fire way to make sure they don't is to be a slob!
  20. Do not expect your roommates to ever, ever ever clean up after you. You are a grown up. Act like one. They shouldn't have to even look at your mess. Plus, it is not their mess; it is YOUR mess. If you are too busy to clean up after yourself, then you are too busy to make a mess in the first place.
  21. Whatever you do, do NOT put your boogers on your roommates' bed covers. She will throw up a little in her mouth when she finds the green scab on her otherwise clean duvet.
  22. Wash your sheets every week.
  23. Seriously, wash those bad boys.
  24. Procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency for ANYONE ELSE.
  25. Don't spend more money than you earn.
  26. Continue to read for pleasure. The HBLL is an amazing place where magical dreams come true, if only you dedicate some of your time to reading.
  27. Act like a grown up, even when everyone else is acting like they are 5 years old. It might seem like the cool thing to do, but really it not. You won't regret it!
Well, that is all, at least for now.

Your sister,


P.S.: Does anyone else have good advice for my little sister about college life?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sweet Freedom

"Today is a good day to die."
-Lt. Commander Worf

 Do you remember "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin? I read it first in high school. A woman with a heart condition is told that her husband has died in a tragic accident. Locking herself in her room, she does not find pain in her husband's passing, but rather, joy:

"She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her."

And when she learned that her husband was not in fact dead, she died of the shock. It's a very interesting short story; you should read it.

I thought that if Jordan and I ever ended our relationship that I would die of grief. I find myself, on the contrary, released of an immense burden. Just as Kate Chopin's Louise Mallard felt, I feel:

"Free! Body and soul!"

When I read this story for the first time, I had never been in love. I was 15 or 16, and I thought that Louise must have been in an abusive relationship. I thought that Mr. Mallard must have been a horrible man, or Louise must have been a terribly selfish woman.

I find my opinion is changed. Jordan was not abusive. I was not selfish. And yet, here I am, exulting in the inner chamber of my self:

"Free, free, free!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lovers and Ducks.

Today, welcome to Spring.
Lovers are saying:
"Let's stroll in the sunshine
And bask in the Sun,
bright like our love,
warm like our hands,

Children are saying:
It's a duck!"
And mothers are saying:
"Yes, This one is called a mallard."
The mallard is swimming
and quacking with joy
his mate,
she is preening
shaking her head
and pinching her feathers
in her long, yellow beak.

This morning she said
to her mallard:
"Let's swim in the sunshine
and bask in the sun,
bright like our love,
warm like our feathers,
when we sit side by side!"
Thus lovers and ducks,
Strolling and swimming,
Welcome Spring.

Monday, March 19, 2012

For Your Enjoyment: A Postmodern Love Poem

I lick.
I like.
I love.
A dove.
In love.
It's luck.
Good Luck.
You muck.
My truck.
A rut.
King Tut.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Favorite Books

I made a list of my favorite books. Of course, the scriptures are the most precious books to me, especially The Book of Mormon, so in this list I only included "secular" books. These novels may not have changed my life as The Book of Mormon has, but they have made it more beautiful.
  1. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
    • I first saw this book in a Deseret Book (a publication company) catalog when I was about 12. My sister Stephanie and I went to an art fair at Penn State with our art teacher that summer, and we stopped at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, where I calculated that as long as I did not buy lunch, I could buy the book. I remember Stephanie asking my multiple times if I were hungry, and I was, but I said no, because I needed every precious penny to buy that book, and it was not at the library.
    • A re-telling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid from the perspective of Psyche's sister, this book has been different every time I have read it. As I grow up, I feel like the book grows up with me. When I first read it, I thought it was about fitting in, and finding one's self. Now that I'm older and have re-read it, I think that it is about accepting who one really is, and loving that person, despite inevitable flaws. I am certain that when I am older, I will find new meaning in the pages of this, my favorite book.
  2. The Rising of the Lark by Ann Moray
    • My sister Stephanie first read this book. It was in our high school library. I once asked her if she recommended any books, and she told me to read this one, so I did, and I loved it.
    • Without departing from reality, Ms. Moray was able to create a feel of magic in this story about a young girl coming of age on the brink of the first world war in Wales.
  3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    • Most movies made of books are "not as good as the book," but Ella is a special case: if only they had stuck to the book, it would have been infinitely better. I think it was a budget issue.
    • A re-telling of the story of Cinderella, I was deeply pleased by the added depth of Cinderella's character.This is a book I love for its magic and heart. So lovely.
  4. Little Sister by Kara Dalkey
    • I found this book in the library in high school, and loved it. I've read it multiple times.
    • A beautifully written story engaging with Japanese mythology, this novel is about a young girl who faces the supernatural because of her love for her older sister, trapped in a trance after the  tragic death of her husband.
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    • I read this book for AP English in high school. I found myself drawn to the emotion, the imagery, and (I now realize), the Gothic Romance of this novel.
    • Jane Eyre, a plain and poor orphan, finally finds love as well as her place in the world despite supernaturally great odds.
  6. Lirael by Garth Nix
    • The 2nd book of a trilogy, I found myself deeply connected to the titular character when I read this two summers ago, and ergo, it is on this list.
    • Lirael wants nothing but what everyone around her already has, and waits patiently for the gift of foresight that all her family enjoys. As her birthdays pass her by, she despairs of ever being able to not only fit in, but also be seen as an adult in her community. She is graciously allowed to begin a vocation as a librarian, and finds in the library things that no one knew existed, including a book with her name on it.
  7. Beauty by Robin McKinley
    • This retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast is also one that I associate with Stephanie. The first time I read it was a copy she owned, and it had an enchanting picture on the front of a young woman smelling a rose.
    • Robin McKinley's strong female lead has more personality than all the Disney princesses combined. She also happens to experience personal growth, which is something that no Disney princess has ever done (that I can think of: Sleeping Beauty? No. Cinderella? Not at all. Snow White? Nope. Bell? Hardly. Ariel? Quite the opposite. Rapunzel? Ha! Don't make me laugh!).
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowrey
    • This is one of two books from this list that I was assigned to read for a class, and it was in middle school.
    • This distopian novel engaged me in a way I had never been engaged before with a novel. It probably was because I had such excellent teachers.
  9. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackman
    • I read this novel for my senior capstone course in English, with Dr. Perry. It was the American Gothic Novel. I loved that class. I love that professor. I love Gothic literature.
    • Is Hill House Haunted, or is Eleanor as unstable as all that? Is it possible. . . is it both?
It's interesting to me to see that most of my "favorite" books are (1) modern and (2) books that I have read multiple times (and probably the only books I have read more than once).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flowers From My Valentine

 Jordan buys me flowers. This is a practice which I fully support.
 For Valentine's day/our anniversary (1 year?!), he bought me the most beautiful bouquet.
 . . . Then he left for Virginia.
 I was so sad, thinking about these flowers dying, until I realized that I can take pictures of them ,and then they will last FOREVER!
 So I did. And these are they.
 There were 3 beautiful lillies in the flower arrangement, though only one was open when I got them. So, I watched the 2nd and 3rd slowly open, then turn from pink to purple. It was really quite magical!
 Are they not lovely?
 There were gerber daisies, too. And this red one below, and ferns, and baby's breath.
Ah, love.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I = - (Dorothy)

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Why would you go there? Is it always summer? Or beautiful? Are there things you can only do there, like skiing, or surfing, or looking at the original Mona Lisa?
If I could go anywhere in the world, I would go somewhere over the rainbow, where I can see my family members, and do art, and write things that interest many people.
I would have purpose, and also be at peace.
I would be able to value the beauty around me, whether it was summer, or winter.
The most important thing is that I would not be alone.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Dragon

Like the dragon, awakening
to life outside the egg
and finding inside, a dragon.

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's the New Year, Step in Time!

I love teaching!

I've taught 3 days now. 3 days is not a whole lot, but I have loved it. I look forward to tomorrow, the next day, and the next day! I feel even more confident teaching my own lessons, which are part of my own unit, than I ever have before in my teaching experiences.

Of course this is a "honeymoon" period. Of course I do not believe that I will always feel this elated, but . . .

I might! ;-)