Thursday, December 31, 2015

Books I Read in 2015

  • Whoooooooooo 2015 books!

  • Disclaimer: All of these ratings are awarded based on how much I would recommend the book--not how good I think the book is. I'll add the authors of books with ** or above, and provide links to and reviews of *** books. 
    NF = Non-Fiction, which in this case I'm using to mean non-narrative NF. Books that read like fiction, even if they're true, don't get the marker.

        = I would tell you not to read this book
      *=  I would not tell you to put this book back on the shelf.
     **= I would hand this book to you.
    ***= Traditionally means "READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW," but this year it's more of a "this book changed my life in a meaningful way"

  •  **4.48 Psychosis, by Sarah Kane
  •  **Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel
  •  **Art of Asking, The, by Amanda Palmer
  •   *Beowulf
  •  **Birth of Tragedy, The (NF), by Friedrich Nietzsche
  •  **Blink (NF), by Malcolm Gladwell
  • **Bone Clocks, The, by David Mitchell
  •   *Book of Margery Kempe, The
  •    Brief History of the Romans (NF), A
  • ***Confessions of a Submissive, by Sophie Morgan
  •  **Dance with Dragons, A, by George R. R. Martin
  •   *Death in Venice
  •  **Diary of a Submissive, by Sophie Morgan
  • **Element, The (NF), by Sir Ken Robinson
  •   *Ezra Pound: Early Writings
  •   *Feast for Crows, A
  •  **Fellowship of the Ring, The, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  •    *Fifty-Year War, The: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War (NF)
  •  **Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
  •  **Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, A, by Eimear McBride
  •   *Hector and the Search for Happiness
  •  **Lancelot: Knight of the Cart, by Chretien de Troyes
  •   *Language and Sexuality Reader, The (NF)
  •  **Metamorphosis, The, by Franz Kafka
  •  **Misquoting Jesus (NF), by Bart Ehrman
  • ***Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
  • **Ocean at the End of the Lane, The, by Neil Gaiman
  • ***On Writing Well (NF), by William Zinsser
  •   *Return of the King, The
  •   *Sacred Realms: Readings in the Anthropology of Religion (NF)
  •  **Saga of the Volsungs, The, author unknown
  •   *Salem Witch Hunt, The: A Brief History With Documents (NF)
  •   *Song of Roland, The
  •   *Supreme Court, The (NF)
  • **Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust
  • **Tipping Point, The (NF), by Malcolm Gladwell
  •   *Troilus and Criseyde
  •   *Two Towers, The
  • **Waste Land, The, by T.S. Eliot
  • **Witchcraft, Lycanthropy, Drugs, and Disease: An Anthropological Study of the European Witch-Hunts (NF), by H. Sidky


Sophie Morgan's first book, Diary of a Submissive, is a half-erotica half-memoir about the author's experiences with discovering BDSM and dating others within that community. It was pretty good, and I think that if I was also a single woman dating around, that book would take this spot.

Confessions is about Morgan settling into a committed relationship with a man who happens to be her complement both sexually and in personality. It's more about falling in love and how to merge the lives of two independent and goal-driven adults who have decided to commit to one another than it is about the sex. There's just also a lot of sex, and most of it happens to be kinky.

Honestly, this book meant way more to me in that it gave me a model for the relationship stage that I'm in (committed but not married, and only pseudo-living together) than it did in terms of being really good erotica. But it was super great on both levels.


What this book is actually about isn't really important to this review, because what changed my life is the genius of Virginia Woolf's writing. I wrote a paper about this book that I've submitted to a couple conferences, and right now I'm feeling like Woolf studies is going to be one of my fields of study in grad school.

The other great thing about this book is Woolf's portrayal of a bisexual heroine IN THE 1920s. REPRESENT.


As a writing tutor, this book is a big deal to me because it gives AMAZINGLY GOOD writing advice in a REALLY HELPFUL WAY. For each concept, Zinsser provides all kinds of examples from his own and other people's writing of both things to emulate and things to avoid emulating.

Also, it's HILARIOUS. He plays with words in a way that only someone who REALLY LOVES THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE would bother doing.

The book is geared at both people who struggle with writing and want to get better AND people who already love writing and just want to continue improving. Wherever you land on that spectrum, you will benefit from this book, because who doesn't EVER have to write things?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Books I Read in 2014

  • Welcome to the annual Elf Army Writes book review post of 2014! Yay!

Disclaimer: All of these ratings are awarded based on how much I would recommend the book--not how good I think the book is. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey has 2/3 stars because while it's a ridiculous book, it's also (in my opinion) fantastic erotica. I'll add the authors of books with ** or above, and provide links to and reviews of *** books. NF = Non-Fiction.

    = I would tell you not to read this book
  *=  I would not tell you to put this book back on the shelf.
 **= I would hand this book to you.

  • *Acting: The First Six Lessons--NF
  • *Aeneid
  • *Applying Cultural Anthropology: An Introductory Reader--NF
  • **Battle for the Mind--NF by William Sargant
  • Biological Anthropology--NF
  • **Blasted by Sarah Kane
  • *Constant State of Desire, The
  • *Crimes of the Heart
  • *Cults in Our Midst--NF
  • Field Projects in Anthropology--NF
  • *Fifty Shades Darker
  • **Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  • Ghost Dance, The--NF
  • **Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, The by Stieg Larsson
  • **Girl Who Played With Fire, The by Stieg Larsson
  • **Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • *Hush
  • **In The Next Room (or, The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl
  • *Innocent Anthropologist, The--NF
  • Lab Manual and Workbook For Physical Anthropology--NF
  • *Living Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology--NF
  • *Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication--NF
  • ***Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson 
  • **Outliers--NF by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Past in Perspective, The--NF
  • *Peyote Hunt--NF
  • ***Pillowman, The by Martin McDonagh
  • **Serpent and the Rainbow, The--NF by Wade Davis
  • *Shades of Milk and Honey
  • ***Smartest Kids in the World, The--NF by Amanda Ripley
  • **Squid Nation^
  • *St. Martin's Sourcebook for Writing Tutors, The--NF
  • *Suddenly Last Summer
  • **Venus in Fur
  • *Woman in the Body, The--NF by David Ives

^Squid Nation is an unpublished novella by my friend Caleb that I'm including here because I ~think~ he does intend to try and revise it for publication. I thought it was hilarious.


Every year I've written a Books I Read post (that's since 2010), there's always at least one *** book that's just an incredibly fun fantasy novel. This is that book. The magic system is super cool, the characters are awesome, it's not pornographic so everyone can give it to their kids without worry--it's just super, super great. I was busy with school when I first started reading it, so that went slowly, but once spring break hit I sped through the rest in a day or two.


This play blew my mind. My boyfriend and I both read it in a single afternoon. It's the story of a writer under interrogation for a series of murders intermeshed with the writer's own short stories, and it's hilarious and scary and heartbreaking and thought-provoking all at once.


This is just a really important book. A journalist decided to investigate what makes the most educationally successful countries just so successful and did this in part by working closely with teenage exchange students. It's absolutely fascinating, and the timeline happens to line up in such a way that the three students all came up through the U.S. school system at the same time as I did. A must-read for anyone in education, anyone currently getting educated, or anyone who does or plans on having a kid who will be educated.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books I Read in 2013

  • **  = I would hand this book to you
  • *   = I would not tell you to put this book down if you picked it up
  •     = Don't bother

  •  **1984, by George Orwell
  •  **American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  •   *Anatomy of a Boyfriend
  •  **Anatomy of a Single Girl, by Daria Snadowsky
  •   *Anthropology (NF)
  •  **Bossypants (Narrative NF), by Tina Fey
  •     Caesar's Women
  •    *Canterbury Tales, The
  •   **Clash of Kings, A, by George R. R. Martin
  • ***columbinus, by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli
  •     Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
  •     Craft of Research, The (NF)
  •     Creation-Evolution Debate, The (NF)
  •     Crime and Punishment
  •     Dance of Shadows
  •   **Diary of Anne Frank, The (Narrative NF), by Anne Frank
  •    *Faiths of the Founding Fathers (NF)
  •  **Game of Thrones, A, by George R. R. Martin
  •  **Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The, by Catherynne M. Valente
  •  **Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  •   *Heart of Darkness
  •  **Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen
  •   *Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The (Narrative NF)
  •  **King Lear, by William Shakespeare
  •  **Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
  • ***No Exit, by Jean Paul Sartre
  • ***Noonday Demon, The (NF), by Andrew Solomon
  •   *Paradise Lost
  •  **Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch
  •   *Religious History of America, The (NF)
  • ***Republic of Thieves, The, by Scott Lynch
  •    Revel
  •  **Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
  •   *Russian Fairytales
  •   *Russian Folk Belief (NF)
  •   *Seven Theories of Religion (NF)
  •  **Starstruck, by Rachel Shukert
  •  **Storm of Swords, A, by George R. R. Martin
  •  **Waiting For Godot, by Samuel Beckett
  •    Who Done It?


From Wilkipedia:
columbinus includes excerpts from discussions with parents, survivors and community leaders in Littleton as well as diaries and home video footage to reveal what it refers to as "the dark recesses of American adolescence".
The first act of the play is set in a stereotypical, fictional American high school and follows the lives and struggles of eight teenage archetypes. These characters are not given names but labels, and the two outcast friends designated in the script as "Freak" and "Loner" are slowly driven to crime and madness by the bullying from their classmates. In act two, these boys become Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, in scenes taken from their videos and personal journals, illustrating the days approaching and including the shootings and the suspects' suicides. The newly added act three has the other cast members become survivors and townspeople who reflect on the events, including the cover up of information surrounding the suspects. The play briefly touches on modern shootings such as the incidents at Aurora or Newtown.
 This play will mess you up. This play will have you sympathizing and empathizing with two mass murderers. This way will leave you in a fog for a long time afterward. This is a play you will want to read all at once. This play is incredibly weird, painfully real, and immensely powerful. I started sobbing in the final scene for no clear reason at all and couldn't stop. It's poignant and brilliant and important and all of you should read it right now.


From WIkipedia:
The play is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre's especially famous and often misinterpreted quotation "L'enfer, c'est les autres" or "Hell is other people", a reference to Sartre's ideas about the Look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in the world of another consciousness.
I actually read this back in the spring all in one afternoon, so I don't remember it very well, but like columbinus, it's a very good play that messed with my head and made me think about a lot of things, that while clearly the details of specific scenes/etc. haven't stuck with me for the most part, still very much qualifies for "READ THIS RIGHT NOW." It's on my list of things to read again, because I feel like I missed a lot of things and will get different stuff out of it at different points in my life, and I highly recommend it to everyone.


From Amazon:
The Noonday Demon examines depression in personal, cultural, and scientific terms. Drawing on his own struggles with the illness and interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, policy makers and politicians, drug designers and philosophers, Andrew Solomon reveals the subtle complexities and sheer agony of the disease. He confronts the challenge of defining the illness and describes the vast range of available medications, the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the impact the malady has on various demographic populations -- around the world and throughout history. He also explores the thorny patch of moral and ethical questions posed by emerging biological explanations for mental illness. With uncommon humanity, candor, wit, and erudition, award-winning author Solomon takes readers on a journey of incom-parable range and resonance into the most pervasive of family secrets. His contribution to our understanding not only of mental illness but also of the human condition is truly stunning.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, read this book. If you or someone you know is not suffering from depression, read this book. I didn't actually finish it because my library fines started mounting, and it isn't a read, but it's really comprehensive, really informative, really well-written, and really important. I am deeply glad to have read the parts that I did, and some of the people I know who are/have been depressed highly recommend it as well.


I'm not going to post a synopsis here, because it contains spoilers for the first two books, but this is the third book in the same series as The Lies of Locke Lamora, which was on my "GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW" list from last year. While I loved book 2 (Red Seas Under Red Skies), it didn't quite make the cut, but this one was amazing.

It's not a heartwrenching social commentary. It's not an existential exploration of Hell. It's not an atlas to a debilitating mental illness. This book is just a really goddamn fun fantasy novel.

It contains literally everything I love most in a fantasy novel--a well-developed world I can immerse myself in, characters I'm invested in, charming, clever, hilariously snarky, and really sexy thief lords that remind me strongly of my boyfriend, complex yet believable schemes, sex, magic, badass get the idea.

I tell you to go read this right now not because I think you ought to read it, but because I really, really loved it. It's one of those books you miss for a couple days after you finish because you enjoyed it so much.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Two Books, Not Alike In Dignity

I know I've basically abandoned this blog for more than a year now, and I don't know if anyone uses Blogspot anymore, but I wanted to write something that matches up more closely with what I've been doing here than on Tumblr.

Spring of 2012, I compiled the Cary High Speech and Debate Handbook, which was essentially 120 pages of inside jokes with some debate jargon and pictures thrown in. I enjoyed doing it, and the majority of the team bought copies, using them as our own special yearbooks. It was silly. It was fun. I'm glad to have done it.

Spring of 2013, having left the debate world for rock4ever95's theatre company (oh dear god is it weird to use that handle after all this time--remember when we waged bitter blog-war against each other about John Green? Yeah, we're in love and kicking ass in the local theatre community now, just to catch up all of the mothballs still hanging around this place), I'm now working on a vaguely similar project detailing the history of said company.

Similar in that it's a book about a group of friends who have been collaborating on something for a long time, but totally, totally different in contents. While God knows we have our share of inside jokes too, Left Field Theatre is bigger than a school club. It means something. Sure, debate can bring kids out of their shells, make them some friends, and win them some trophies, and those things are all good, but I've watched Left Field Theatre transform people--and have been transformed by it myself--in a way debate never did or could.

Sure, I gained some things from doing debate. I learned a few philosophical principles, gained the courage to talk in front of a judge and someone just waiting to tear apart my every word, and found some people to laugh with--and yes, won some trophies too.

But contrast a room with an opponent and a judge with a church filled with dozens of people. Contrast reading off a carefully planned argument before refuting any rebuttals with becoming a completely different person for three hours. Contrast small weekly meetings and one full-team practice the night before tournament with months of rehearsals leading up to a single weekend. Contrast standing behind a podium in a suit with doing a strip tease in a leather trench coat with every eye in the building fixed on you.

I've watched people fall, and I've watched people rise. I've done some rising and falling myself. I've watched people go from immature, joking drug users to production staff members. I've watched people open up--not just verbally, but emotionally. I've learned about people and life--not just how to twist a statistic to fit my purposes and bullshit persuasive responses to questions. It's been beautiful. It's been hellishly painful.

I won't pretend everything has been perfect and that theatre is the magical cure-all and Great Unifying Force of all people. There have been drop-outs. There have been falling-outs. But for the people it has touched--the boy who realized he didn't need twelve layers of irony to truly connect with people, the self-harming girl who found a reason to get out of bed in the morning, the boy cast out of his school theatre department who finally found a place to be accepted, and all of this while working together to create a work of art-- nothing could ever replace it.

This book tells a story. And while right now I don't feel like my writing has done that story justice, that story is about more than just some fun times in high school.

This is the story of three teenagers, only one of whom had any theatre experience worth mentioning, putting on a show with just $40 to rival those of the independent and town-sponsored groups in our area. This is the story of some artists who did something new. This is the story of a group of people reaching out and supporting one another through both the awful and the amazing--as we like to say in our vocal warm-ups, "Whether the weather is cold, or whether the weather is hot, we'll be together whatever the weather, whether we like it nor not."

I loved my time with the debate team. Truly, I did. But this has been something else--something so much more and better. And this book, and the experience of writing this book, which of course is what triggered this post tonight, reflects that.

I'll post a link to the PDF once I'm finished.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Books I Read in 2012

  • I don't rate books in these posts by quality, really, but just as me recommending things to people, so keep that in mind.

  • **  = I would hand this book to you
  • *   = I would not tell you to put this book down
  •     = Don't bother

  •    172 Hours on the Moon
  •  **A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby
  •  **A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
  •    All The King's Men
  •  **All The Right Stuff, by Walter Dean Meyers
  •   *Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  •  **As You Like It, by William Shakespeare
  •   *Assassin King, The (I loved the first 3 books in this series a lot, this one less so)
  •    Bewitching
  •  **Birth Order Book, The, by Kevin Leman (NF)
  •   *Book of Blood and Shadow, The
  •   *Children and the Wolves, The (This is not a pleasant book to read by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean it's bad)
  •  **Chopsticks,  by Jessica Anthony
  •  **Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
  •  **Deadly Pink, by Viviane Vande Velde
  •   *Dreamsleeves
  •   *Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To-Do List
  •   *Fault in Our Stars, The
  •   *Glimmer
  • ***God is Not One, by Stephen Prothero (NF)
  •  **Great Gatsby, The, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  •  **Hacking Harvard, by Robin Wasserman
  •   *Keeping The Castle
  • ***Letter Q, The, edited by Sarah Moon (NF)
  •    Lexapros and Cons
  • ***Lies of Locke Lamora, The, by Scott Lynch
  •  **List, The, by Siobhan Vivian
  •  **Marly's Ghost, by David Levithan
  •  **Miseducation of Cameron Post, The, by Emily M. Danforth
  •  **My Name is Mina, by David Almond
  •  **Nevermore, a novel by my boyfriend which I love a lot even though he hates it
  •   *Of Mice and Men
  •   *Old Man and the Sea, The
  •  **Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow
  •    Pure
  • ***Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
  •  **Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
  •  **SchoolGirls, by Peggy Orenstein (NF)
  •  **Universe in a Single Atom, The, by The Dalai Lama (NF)
  •   *Unwind
  •   *What Boys Really Want
  •  **Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
  •   *Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers


If you're at all interested in religion, read this. A lot of books now try to emphasize the similarities between religions in order to try and create harmony between them--the "different paths up the same mountain" approach. This book looks at religions as completely separate mountains, with totally different goals--of course Christianity is the only pathway to salvation, because other religions don't care about salvation. I love it a lot.


This is a book of letters by LGBT authors to their younger selves. And it is amazing whether you're LGBT or not. I haven't cried this much while reading a book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and this was for much more meaningful reasons than the death of a fictional redhead. IT'S JUST SO FRIGGING HOPEFUL.


From Amazon: "In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…

An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting."


Basically it just fits the criteria of "I will pull this off the shelf and follow you around, jabbering incessantly, until you agree to read it." The Gentlemen Bastards are amazing.


In which you get to live out all of your nerdy pop culture fantasies while accompanying Wade on his quest to win $200 billion through the world's biggest and greatest MMORPG ever. And when I say "all of your nerdy pop culture fantasies," I really do mean basically all of them.
After finishing this book I went home and spent a full hour relating the entire plot to my dad I was just that excited.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

In Which I Write A Post

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." - a five year old named Karl

God, I haven't posted in months. Sorry about that. A combination of school, Tumblr, and life got in the way.

Things going on with me:
  • Full schedule of AP classes
  • Applied to college
  • Got accepted/am officially going to UNCG
  • Working on a production of As You Like It
  • Turned seventeen
  • Found myself the most excellent of boyfriends
  • Am generally happy
So yay.

Sixteen was pretty great, and so far seventeen is better.

Unfortunately, I'm kind of fresh out of the type of stuff that used to go on this blog. (I tend to avoid looking over the archives, but from what I remember I think that's probably kind of a good thing.) I have one post idea right now, there will undoubtedly be some NaNoWriMo things going on over here, and of course there will be my usual "oh hey the year is over let me process things and write about my life" stuff come December/January, but for the most part you will--officially, this time--be seeing a lot less of me.

Part of this is due to the fact that my whole focus on getting published has shifted dramatically to just writing things I feel like writing and sharing them with my friends, so there really isn't any big exciting news going on. Although I did do another workshop type thing about NaNoWriMo at a library.

You guys are just like my blogging family, and I've left for blogging college (in the form of Tumblr--if anyone cares enough to come hang out over there leave a comment and I'll give you my url) or something--I'll still come back to visit. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thoughts on Neil Armstrong

"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." - Will Durant

Alternate Title: In Which You Realize Just How Massively Nerdy My Childhood Was

I do not remember a time before I knew Neil Armstrong's name. My dad's first memory is watching the moon landing with his siblings, and many of my early ones are him teaching me things about outer space--important events, the order of the planets, classifications of stars, etc.

Some kids idolize sports stars (my nine year old neighbor loves Tom Brady), some historical figures, and some actors. For a long time, however, the name that was always spoken with a whisper of awe was that of an astronaut. An example of someone who did something great/brave/courageous? Neil Armstrong. The answer in our own personal variation of 20 Questions? Neil Armstrong. Occasionally, even bedtime stories were replaced by Neil Armstrong (instead of the usual fare of Doctor Who/Lord of the Rings/let's-teach-the-girls-about-natural-selection-via-dragons-and-bunny-rabbits. Yeah, I had an interesting childhood).

I realized today, though, that I never actually knew all that much about the man himself. And he knew that would happen--that all people would ever remember would be his one giant leap for mankind--and I'm sure he was, for the most part, fine with it.

I mean, I'd be okay with it if all I was known for was doing something that freaking cool.

But I feel a little bit guilty, and then I feel even more guilty for not caring at all up until this point--what is it about the death of a complete stranger that makes us suddenly care about all of the little details you never bothered to know beforehand?

Even though I haven't ended up wanting to work for NASA or anything (although it's been my dream more than once over the years), the man has had a very subtle but very profound impact on my life. Where would my dad be, had he not been so inspired by a fuzzy image on his black and white TV in the tiny little town of Tonowanda, NY? Would he have wanted to be an engineer? Would I have even been born? Would he have ever bothered teaching me all of those little facts about space before I even hit kindergarten? I don't know.

It's so weird, how random people can have the biggest effects on your life without them ever knowing.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who went on to work in aeronautics because of Neil Armstrong. I am not one of those people, nor do I expect I will be, but that doesn't mean his existence and his life hasn't shaped my life, too.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

What I've Been Doing With My Time

"Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Arthur Schopenhauer

Back in May, I was asked to be on the board for the independent theatre company two of my friends were starting. The first show would be Romeo and Juliet, and they wanted me to stage manage. I said yes. There was a little bit of a rocky start, but we got things rolling and everything was fine.

Back in July, I was asked to take up a part in Romeo and Juliet. Someone had dropped out, and they needed me. I said yes. There was that day it was pouring down rain and the only cast member present, the director, and I paced around on top of tables shouting monologues at each other. There was that week when I threw up on two days, and felt sick for all five.

There was that week when I was out of town and the rest of the cast had the police called on them due to a prop gun someone thought was real.
There was that night when I was rehearsing in full costume in front of my house very late in the evening and had the police called on me.

There was that week of panic when we unexpectedly didn't know if we even had a performance space.

There was that week when everything came together and we put on a freaking fantastic show.

And now the best three months of my life so far are over--I start school in a week, and I won't get to hang out in 100+ degree heat for 3-4 hours every day anymore (tragic, isn't it?). As our director said right before I walked on stage, tonight was the last night we'll ever do Romeo and Juliet together. I'm going to miss it.

And then, after a couple weeks' break, we'll be throwing ourselves right back into the fray of our next production, and I'll start wondering why I thought it would be a good idea to pile on yet another activity.

I'm so excited.

(Oh, hi college applications...I didn't see you there. No, I haven't been ignoring you. What? No, not at all...)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Birth Order Book, by Kevin Leman

"I don't read self-help books. On any given day my self seems to need so much help that 200 pages of cheerful advice and end-of-chapter exercises miss the core of my dilemma. The real question keeping me up at night is this: What the hell is a self anyway? How did I get one and why is it so damn desperate for help?" - Adam Frank

Naturally, that is how I start a post about the self-help book I just finished.

Leman claims that birth order has a significant impact on how you turn out as a person--to the point that he gets scared if he's on a plane and the pilot isn't a functional firstborn or only child. This book outlines the typical characteristics of each birth order, how to deal with it yourself, how to deal with it in others, and how to take it into account when parenting.

With the exception of one of my sisters, his predictions fit my entire family almost perfectly. It's kind of freaky (in that halfway through the chapter on firstborns I was shouting "THESE ARE MY PEOPLE." And that's only a little bit of an exaggeration).

All of the psychology and analysis is interspersed with stories about his clients, and his own family. He's a likable enough person, and it's always amusing to be reading along and find something that describes someone you know to the letter.

The whole book is fascinating (to anyone who has siblings, anyway), and I'd recommend it to anyone who has an interest in that sort of thing. My mom picked it up a couple days ago and decided that all five of us were going to read it, so we'll see what happens after I'm not the only one in the house with this Deep and Perceptive Knowledge about the Mysterious Secrets of Birth Order.