Monday, February 25, 2013

My Former and Future Book-Loving Self

I grew up reading. My whole family is filled with book lovers. In a house without television for 7+ years, it was inevitable that this uncoordinated little girl would choose to stay indoors to read a book. Or to scour the library shelves weekly for new books to read. Inevitable I tell you.
However, once I hit college, I discovered the power of the Internet and the expanse known as YouTube and Hulu. To add to it, I was forced to read—every day. And not interesting things, mind you. The tedious textbooks filled with science jargon and boring theories. Even the books for my major and minor were, at times, difficult take on. In short, this once devote book lover came to hate reading.
It’s not something I’m proud of. But it’s a fact.
Ever since, I’ve struggled to rekindle my old love.
And struggled I have.
I think I read five books last year. Maybe.
My heart aches because I know that my Goodreads to-read list is at 136 books and counting. I know that I will never be able to read all the books that I want to in this lifetime. And new classics are being written every year. Nevermind the fact that I should probably re-read some books so I can actually appreciate them now that I'm older. It's all so overwhelming!
Have you ever watched The Twilight Zone? There’s an episode called “Time Enough At Last.” It may be one of the saddest episodes. I encourage you to watch it because I love The Twilight Zone, so I won’t ruin the ending. But just know that the ending is truly heartbreaking for a book lover. And at times I can relate to poor Henry Bemis who just wants to read in peace, dangit!
So, in an effort to get my butt in gear in regards to reading, I’m declaring to the world—and by world, I mean my small blog audience of five people—that I’m determined to read at least 25 books in 2013, 20 required and 5 variables*.
Here’s my list of 20 must reads for this year.
1. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
2. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
3. The Infinite Atonement – Tad R. Callister
4. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
5. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
6. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
7. The Scarlett Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
8. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
9. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
10. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
11. Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
12. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
13. Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
14. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
15. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
16. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
17. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews – Peter Duffy
18. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy**
19. The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson***
20. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

*I'm up for suggestions! Befriend me on Goodreads!
**I actually started this book last summer but only got about 40% of the way through. I'm determined to finish it this year.
**Don't judge me. I think I need some YA fiction somewhere in this list.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Post in Which I'm a Grouchy Old Woman

I like music. I like music a lot. I also like attending concerts. However, some concert experiences are marred by stupid and annoying people.

I’m no stranger to pop/rock concerts. My first concert was Maroon 5, with Sara Bareilles opening for them. It was the day after I turned 16. Needless to say, I felt so cool.

Later that summer, I saw Chicago with my mom. Yes, that Chicago. Gotta love rocking out with all the baby boomers.

My mom had to bail on the Fleetwood Mac concert, so my dad took me. I remember him with his back turned and fingers in his ears. I found out just last week that he did, in fact, enjoy the concert. However, he has sensitive classical ears, hence the look of pain throughout the guitar and drum solos.

Since then, I’ve seen James Taylor, Billy Joel (!!), Mika, The Fray (with Jack’s Mannequin), Snow Patrol (with Plain White T’s), Modest Mouse, She & Him, SHeDAISY (not sure if this really counts since half the crowd was children, but I’ll include it), and Ellie Goulding.

At the James Taylor concert, there were a group of college-aged kids, who were probably drunk. They were dancing and singing and yelling during James Taylor’s performances. As an avid James Taylor fan, my mom was irritated that they were so disrespectful during the songs. She didn’t understand why the kids were yelling during songs. At the time, I dismissed because I thought she obviously didn’t understand the way concerts work.

However, at the Ellie Goulding concert this past weekend, I think I agree with my mom, which brings me to the topic of this post.

I hate teenagers at concerts.

Actually, this probably isn’t limited to teenagers. It’s Gen Yers.

I hate Gen Yers at concerts.

After this weekend’s adventure, I feel like I’m a grouchy grandma (not a commentary on my mother, I swear) among my fellow Gen Yers.* Please allow me to complain a bit about kids these days as if I were the irritable old woman who everyone's afraid of.

1. The Confessioner
I do not think it is appropriate to yell and scream throughout songs. By yelling “I love you, Ellie!” during a song, you ruin the otherwise poignant song. She isn’t listening to you. She’s listening to her band and trying desperately to sing (in tune) because you paid to see her perform live. Also, she probably already knows that you love her because you are at the concert.**

1a. The Screamer
It is disrespectful and selfish to scream when the performer has explicitly asked the audience for quiet during a song. You are not thinking of others and their concert experience; you are only thinking of yourself. And you wonder why people hate your generation... (Side note: This was for Ellie’s cover of Elton John’s “Your Song,” which is one of my favorite songs. Thanks for ruining it, screamer.)

2. The Wannabe
Related to number one, I find it terribly annoying when people treat the concert like karaoke sing-a-long. I’m not talking about, singing along to yourself. I’m talking about yelling the lyrics, off key, like you’re in your car alone. I’m sorry; I thought I paid to hear Ms. Goulding. No? Oh well, let me know when you and your friends tour next, and I’ll be sure to grab some tickets for that chorus of screaming cats.

3. The Packer
In standing room/general admission concerts, we’re all packed in like sardines. We get that. That’s what we expect. However, when some kid makes the comment “If you’re that close to the stage, you should not be able to put your hands up like that” that is not an excuse to get your friends to make a massive push toward the front. I was comfortable up until that point. Then I just had an annoying shorty with her shoulder unabashedly rammed into my back for the next hour. Not cool, dude. Not. Cool.

So, if you ever go to a concert, please be considerate of the other concert-goers. They paid good money to experience the concert. Please let them.

And since you’ve made it through this rant, I’ll leave you with the music of St. Lucia, the opening act for Ellie Goulding. Think 80s electronic meets African beats meets 2013. Seriously fantastic.

My favorite is "Closer Than This," but "September" is also great for a more dance music feel. It will probably be their break-out single.

*In all likelihood, I probably will be that old neighbor yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.
**I realize that this was probably made worse because of the setting we were in. If we were in an outdoor or stadium venue, I don't think this would have as bad. But it's still an issue.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Facebook Rant #1

I’ve thought about deleting my Facebook account several times. I once disabled it for a bit. A whole 24 hours, I think. I meant to go longer, but I got bored.

Usually my reasoning stems from one thing: it can be so incredibly depressing.

Studies have shown that Facebook can lead to depression. People see everyone else’s “perfect lives,” the lives they lead online, which are filled with trips, adventure, and non-stop fun.

But that’s only a small part of my reasoning.

Yes, I still get jealous of people traveling, spending every weekend with friends, or…uh…getting engaged. I think that applies to everyone, right?

You see, I’m a passive Facebook user. I prefer to watch than to participate. I will gladly leaf through dozens of pictures from someone’s trip, but I will hesitantly put up my own pictures—especially when I’m not sure the people in those pictures want them out in the cyber universe.

This is a result of my insecurities, which are many. I wrote a post about one of them once. Maybe I’ll get around to posting it.

Back to Facebook. Though I’m more of a passive user, sometimes I try to interact on Facebook, but I feel like I end up as that Facebook friend. You know, the annoying one who says something that is really stupid and kills the conversation. And then you hover over the unfriend button because you're not really sure why this person is even in your friends list.

Facebook is yet another opportunity for rejection. A rejection of friendship of sorts. Whenever you make a comment, you are trying to be a part of the conversation. However, when you aren’t acknowledged, it feels like rejection. You have been ignored by others in the conversation.
Sometimes it feels like when you’re at a party and you desperately try to be a part of the conversation but then you fail miserably when you say something like “Potatoes are my favorite thing ever” when everyone else was talking about Spider-Man reboot #12. Everyone stares and you're outed as awkward in front of people who don't really know you and don't have evidence to prove otherwise.
But then it's even more awkward to delete your awkward comment because everyone has seen it already.*

And when that rejection happens, you're just poor Andy Bernard. And that’s depressing.

*This instance may or may not have happened this week. And it may or may not have been on the post of a guy I've been slightly crushing on on and off for several years. Granted my comment was related, but by the time it posted, it was not related to the current conversation. Moral of the story: no late-night commenting on people's posts who are not close friends. It's just awkward.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jackson, Jordan; Potato, Potahto

Remember this niece? Well, I have another gem of a conversation.

Her older sister, who is now officially a teenager but has been acting the part for over seven years, apparently is a music snob.

But not in a good way.

In a way that makes me want to shake some sense into her.

Or sit down and cry at what society and music is doing to today’s youth.

She abhors anything that is not country or Taylor Swift.*

No, I’m not sure how I’m related. I think some genetics went terribly wrong. It may be a defect, passed down from her father** but is ten times worse because she’s a young girl in America today.

I should be glad she isn't a Beibs fan, right?

No matter, I’m determined to similarly educate my niece(s) to the finer things in life, namely good music.

But I digress.

My seven-year-old niece, her teenage sister, and I somehow got on the subject of Michael Jackson. I believe the seven-year-old brought it up. Her older sister promptly told me that she didn’t like his music, which I don’t think is even possible. But that was after the following conversation.

Me: Do you even know who Michael Jackson is?
Teenage Niece: No.
Seven-Year-Old Niece: Yes.
Me: Really? Good for you. Who is he?
SYON: Yeah, he’s a basketball player.

If I wasn’t in a small clothing store at that moment, I probably would have laughed a lot louder and longer than I did. Which would be a lot.

It reminds me of the time my older sister (who was at least 16 at the time) casually mentioned that Louis Armstrong walked on moon.

Yes, he walked on the moon, trumpet in hand.

I like to think he was also singing “What a Wonderful World.”

*Taylor Swift is categorized by herself because I believe TSwift has abandoned whatever country roots she may have had as is evident by her last album.

**At least her father likes other genres, specifically rock, and can appreciate decent music. Nevermind the fact that we had to educate him on how to correctly pronounce Chopin and Tchaikovsky when he joined the family. He fits in just fine now.