Monday, August 20, 2012

Scholarly Summer: A Reading List

One of the things I do every summer is read a lot of books. Since this was possibly my last free summer, I decided to keep a list of all the books I read during these past 14 weeks. But now that the first day of school's arrived, the list must be considered finished.  
Part of the reason I kept this list is because I love reading about famous people's favorite books and their reading lists. I was recently fascinated by this list of Steven Soderbergh's pop-culture consumption ( The man read multiple books a week while directing a major motion picture! There are a plethora of news articles and blogs that record celebrity pop-culture consumption. And I read all of them.

Back in Harry Potter's heyday, Daniel Radcliffe used to occasionally update his website with the books and movies he'd consumed lately. Seeing as he was Daniel Radcliffe, he only listed about 2 or 3 books at a time. Since I'm not world-famous and have a bit more free time, I managed to get through 17 books this summer. Not bad. Here's the list in the order that I read them:
A Treasury of Great American Scandals: Tantalizing True Tales of Historic Misbehavior by the Founding Fathers and Others Who Let Freedom Swing by Michael Farquhar
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
A collection of 3 short stories by Truman Capote: House of FlowersA Diamond Guitar, and A Christmas Memory
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes by Bill Peschel 
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Atonement by Ian McEwan
A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls
One Day by David Nicholls
Calico Joe by John Grisham
A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summer at Tiffany by Majorie Hart

And though I didn't read every single page, I still must include the Kaplan GRE 2013 Premier in my list because I spent a significant amount of time this summer pouring over it.
Before this summer, I had never read any Tokien. Nor Capote. Nor any of Alcott's work for adults. My goal this summer was to read as much important literature that I could. 
It wasn't all serious though. I indulged my love of trivia by reading the books of Peschel and Farquhar and my love of travel with Elizabeth Bard. I learned more about the art of writing with Miller. The Grisham and Hart books? Pure fun--I read both of those books in a DAY (two separate days mind you, but less than 24 hours for each one).
My reading of Atonement is a bit complicated. I have this quirk where I refuse to watch a movie without reading its book first. Well, I wanted to watch Atonement because Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. (I may be a tad obsessed with BC.) But my rule stuck. So I read Atonement, and at the time of this writing, I STILL have not actually seen the movie. (Fun Fact: BC is also in Starter for Ten, which is the film version of A Question of Attraction, but I didn't know that when I read the book. And I watched that film shortly after finishing the book and it was great!) 
Also through my reading this summer, I found what kind of book I want to write---a interesting, unique, chockfull-of literary references book like Nicholls has done (twice over). Nicholls' writing made me feel that my knowledge of important books was severely lacking. When I finished A Question of Attraction, I went "Man, I hope I can write a book that good one day." And then I drove to the library and picked up One Day the next day. His writing is deceptively simple--intense emotions in few words. If I ever become famous for my prose and they ask who or what inspired me, I'm going to list Rowling, Fitzgerald, and Nicholls.

As for my last book of the summer, I began East of Eden by John Steinbeck while on vacation. I was reading it for fun, which I realize makes me ridiculous. But I didn't finish it, and who knows when I'll get those last 200 pages read. Maybe Thanksgiving?
And now that school begins again, I'm still reading. My first book of the school year will be Light in August by William Faulkner for one of my English classes, the first of five Faulkner novels I'll be reading this semester.
I really like keeping a list of the books that I read. Once I get out of school and have more free time (and more choice over what I read), I may make this a permanent habit---a never-ending list of books. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

(Not) Looking for Love

I'm weird in that I read a lot of blogs written by women who are married and/or have children. One of these is Modern Mrs. Darcy. This week she's doing a link-up post on love and marriage stories. Since a lot of her readers appear to be at a similar point of life to her, I thought I would offer a different perspective to the link-up, as someone who is not anywhere near ready for marriage.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, a 21-year-old, and a fellow senior in college, updated her Facebook relationship status to Engaged. There were romantic pictures, plenty of likes and comments, a wedding date set for June 2013, and the realization that we are all getting older.

That last one was just me though. I think.

I am 22 years old. I feel like my life is just beginning. I don't know everything. For all my boasting of being a grown-up, I don't truly know how the real world works. Life is easy when your parents pay your rent.

Shortly after this engagement announcement, my brother and I made a late-night run to Jack-in-the-Box. As we ate our burritos, I pondered.

"How can she get married? She doesn't even know what she's doing with her life yet!"

My brother, older and wiser at age 25 with a broken engagement under his belt, replied, "Marriage is about saying I put you first no matter what. She'll make her life plans adapt."

There are obvious reasons why I'm not the one getting married next summer. No boyfriend for one. But more than that, I want time to myself first. I have to learn how to "do adult life" before I add another person to the mix. I want to pay my own rent, have my own cat, buy my own car, go on my own vacations, and start saving for my own house before I share those responsibilities with another.

Right now, my future plans are more important than my future husband. Is that bad to say? Going to grad school and getting a job consume me right now. My husband is merely a abstract figure that I sometimes dream about and pray for. And while I pray for him, I don't typically pray to find him. I pray for grad school exams and entry and for job opportunities, but not to find my husband. I think this is because I really don't have strong feelings about finding him right now. But I know that I'm too focused on my perceived goals. I need to also be keeping my eyes open for the possibilities of something else. And it's unrealistic to think that I'll be 100% settled when I marry. Part of marriage is going through the unsettled parts of life together.

I've always been independent. It's thanks to my mother, the Montessori mom who, while getting married at age 23, still got her law degree and waited 10 years to have children. My mom was a working mother who taught her daughter that marriage was not a requirement. 

I think a lot of women are afraid of not getting married. I'm afraid of the opposite: getting married and finding out it was a mistake. I want to be absolutely sure when I get married, and I don't think I would have that certainty right now. 

As for being alone, I'm used to it. I spent my high school years being the girl who ate lunch in the corner while reading a book. I'm an introvert. I like choosing what to do and where to eat and making important decisions.

At age 22, I've never been kissed. I'm certainly not actively looking for a boyfriend. It isn't that I've stopped looking really, it's that I've never seriously looked in the first place. I've had crushes before obviously, and I even have certain requirements for my husband. I may even have too many requirements. I don't worry about when or if I'll get married. I figure if I'm meant to be a wife, God will send the right man my way. 

With this logic, I already realize that there's a high probability that I'll end up a cat lady. But it's OK. My brother has ambitions to be a husband and father. I'll spoil my nieces and nephews rotten if I don't have my own children. Heck, I'll spoil them even if I do have my own!

Matthew Paul Turner has written that humans were made to have a spouse, that life was designed that way. I definitely get that. No doubt my future adult life would be easier with a husband who could do home repairs and open jars for me.

Another deterrent is the divorce rate--I worry about getting involved with something that only has a 50% success rate. But I can't let that stop me either. If I meet the right man, then it's not going to be about the "institution" of marriage, it's going to be about him and me and the work we do to keep our marriage going. I do think humans as a whole are too independent. Society tells us that we should be happy ALL. THE. TIME. Which in a relationship with another human being is not going to work. People have to be wiling to struggle in a marriage sometimes.

So Dearest Husband, I'm waiting for you. But I'm not mindlessly waiting I assure you. I'm getting my college degree, and going to grad school, and paying my own rent, and buying a car, and when you show up (or at least make yourself known), we'll do life together.

So, after all those words, here's my story: Girl lives independently for as long as she needs to, Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy date for at least a year, Girl and Boy have proper engagement and small wedding, Girl and Boy face the ups and downs of life together forever. And Girl gets to still be independent at times. Also Girl gets to always have cats. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK to go to Chipotle multiple times a week.
It's OK to always order the same thing at Starbucks. But it's OK to switch it up sometimes too.
It's OK to get excited about your new planner.
It's OK to stay up until 3 am (but only sometimes).
It's OK to still be obsessed about the Olympics.
It's OK to think Phelps is cuter than Lochte.
It's OK to still love Disney movies at age 22.
It's OK to spend two nights in a row hanging out with your parents.
It's OK to be jealous that your parents are going to Australia.
It's OK to be Type-A.
It's OK to want a new kitty, but it's also OK to miss your old one.
It's OK to be stressed about the GRE.
It's OK to be interested in the workings of the United Methodist Church.
It's OK to read JSTOR articles for fun.
It's OK to be ready for summer to be over.

What's OK with you this week?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm a Senior...Shouldn't I have this College thing down by now?

My senior year of college begins in less than two weeks. In high school, being a senior was exciting. Now it's just terrifying. In about 40 weeks, I'll be out in the real world.

Because the real world is getting closer and closer, I'm determined to make this last year the best one yet. To do so, I'm getting my organizational skills into gear! I want to do only things that will bring me success!

I'm so Type-A that I've already written out a daily schedule for the semester and I hope to stick to it. And by daily schedule, I truly mean a DAILY schedule. Y'all, I've decided I want to sleep 12am-8am every. single. night. Do I actually believe that will happen? No. But I wrote into my schedule anyway because positive thinking yeah?

The most obvious thing that would bring me success this coming semester (and school year) is to limit my tumblr, facebook, and Google Reader consumption. If I said I could view those things only on Sundays, then my school life would play out much better. I have a blocking program on my computer. Why don't I use it?

I think in the past, I've had too much free time, so I have a false sense of security of what I can get done. I say, "Oh, I have 2 days to write that paper!" But then something unexpected comes up and I find myself up at 2 am the night before it's due, frantically writing. This semester though, I'm volunteering both at the library and the local mission, so I have more things to do. Less free time = tighter schedule. In addition to my volunteer gigs, I have Wesley activities and grad school/employment applications to fill my time. Plus, you know, actually doing all my homework in a TIMELY manner.

In addition, I want to start living a healthier lifestyle. My plans for this goal include cooking healthy meals (microwaving may be quicker, but it's not good for you!), getting the afore-mentioned 8 hours of sleep a night, and working out regularly. In addition, I want to make time for daily Bible\God time.

Also, writing regular blogs would be nice too.

If I just did the basics every day, I'd have a lot less free time and wouldn't NEED to fill my time with the internet.

I have the blessing/curse of having class only 4 days a week this semester, meaning my Fridays will be completely free. If I use those Fridays wisely and work on homework all day, then I will be much better off the rest of the week. I'd like to make it where I don't do homework on Sundays and if I really focus on Fridays, I can meet that goal. I shall see how these Fridays play out.

I think another reason I always get behind is that I slack off the first week of school because it's "syllabus week" and classes are usually shorter and there are no assignments due yet. But if I got AHEAD on my reading (shocking I know) and worked hard on grad school stuff and other non-school things, then I wouldn't be wasting time and I wouldn't be so stressed later.

The blessing of being a History major and English minor is that you get to READ a lot. Which is great because I love to read. But it's assigned reading and not always the most interesting stuff. I'm taking a class on Faulkner where I have to read FIVE books by Faulkner and one book of criticism on his work. That's a lot of Faulkner. I've never actually read any Faulkner before. Let's hope I like him.

Also, here's an interesting thing. Despite being a history major, I'm not taking a single history class this semester. This is because I've finished with my history plan (besides my thesis), so any history classes I take now would only count for hours, nothing else. I'll be writing my thesis in the spring (which is totally NOT recommended by the History Department. But since I didn't become a History major until the spring of my sophomore year, I was behind on the typical history major plan.)

It's my senior year. I'd like to end my college experience on a positive note. Sure, I'm probably headed to grad school, but it's not the same really. If I just force myself into a regular schedule of useful activities, then I'll see many benefits I'm sure. I don't want to be stuck in the same rut of the past three years. I want to do more than I believe I can.