Hello jackets, scarves and boots! How I missed you all

Winter is upon us! Well, at least for the weekend. Just in walking to school (with several layers, plus a coat & scarf) I got a severe case of the sniffles and a wee little cough as well. But despite all this, I can’t help it. Winter is my favorite season. Or at least, it is until New Year’s. January goes by quickly enough, but then after the Superbowl, it’s really all for naught. Then winter just toys with us, pretending to be done by giving us glimpses of the beautiful spring to come and then taking it away with a snowstorm. Although I must admit I enjoy freak snowstorms. I’ve been stuck in enough of them to know it’s not always pleasant, but I still love the snow more than anything in the world. There is nothing better than a white Christmas 🙂 In any case, early winter is my favorite time of year.

  • Allll the clothes – as with most seasons, there’s cute clothing for winter too. But I get far too excited getting out my big coats, scarves, gloves and boots to prepare for the winter. Having lived in Canada, I used to also take out bright pink snowpants as well, for the walk to & from school. While that’s long gone, I still feel the same sense of anticipation when I take out my winter sweaters and jackets. I enjoy getting all bundled up to waddle outside into the cold.
  • Warm food – let’s face it. Summer can get so hot that all I want is a salad, ice cream, or a cold drink. Or all of the above. The heat just makes me not want to eat. But winter! It’s so freezing outside that all you want is warm food, and it feels extra-special delicious when it hits your tummy (at least it does in mine 🙂 )
  • Hot Chocolate – nothing better than a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day/night. with marshmallows. mmmmm.
  • My Santa hat – I finally got a Santa hat last year, and I wear it almost every day after Thanksgiving. It’s just too much fun not to.
  • CHRISTMAS – the stockings, the gifts, the tree!!!!!!!!!! I love decorating a Christmas tree. I put it up, I decorate, and I leave it up as long as humanly possible after the holidays. Yeah, I’m that girl.
  • Christmas Lights – my mom and I hang up the Christmas lights after Thanksgiving every year. We wrap them around our small porch and over the benches. Anyone driving down our street will see two small Asian women, one teetering dangerously on a stepstool (me), attempting to get the lights as high as possible. I always think that my house looks like a Gingerbread House with all those lights around it 🙂 We leave those up for as long as possible, too. Although never until the Superbowl. We found out in ’08 that was a bad idea (I’m so sorry Pats).
  • The city preparing for Christmas – the store decorations, the wreaths on the lampposts, the lights everywhere. It’s a gorgeous gorgeous time of year.
  • Christmas Village – the most adorable section of the city. A little bazaar set up for random shopping, beautiful lights and trees everywhere. And PUPPIES all over the place (people bring their pets. I hug them.) It’s a Christmas tradition for my roommates & I.
  • SNOW – God, I love the snow. Ever since I was little, I’ve had a white Christmas (and birthday, since that’s pretty close to Christmas, too). After we moved in 6th grade, though, I had to learn to deal with a not-so-white Christmas. Which sucked. A lot. But here in the city we usually have some snow on the ground at some point during December, which is all I’m asking for. Last year was interesting, since I had to drive in it, but for the most part I managed well enough. Still, snow = snowball fights, snowmen, and wonderful fun. I will always love snow, and snowstorms (when I’m inside) 😀

Here’s hoping for a Winter Wonderland this year!

Road rage

I honestly don’t understand how some people get their license, let alone survive the roads. It’s mindboggling, it really is. I think I can call myself a somewhat experienced driver, having traversed the shithole that is Route 76 about a million times, for two or more hours a day, for six months of an internship. I hate that road. I have seen and had so many stupid, annoying people on the road, and today was no different, even though I was only on the road for a half hour as opposed to my usual two. But people pissed me off enough that I had to let it out somewhere.

Some of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to driving:

No turn signal: really, it’s not that freakin’ hard. It’s a flick of the wrist, that’s all it takes. I promise. Just so I know that you’re PLANNING AHEAD to turn into my lane, instead of just VOILA, turning the wheel and assuming I’m going to stop. Because one day, there’s going to be two cars in a spot where there should be only one. Come on, people, I do not want to bring physics in to this. Really.

It’s called the left lane for a reason: GET OUT OF MY WAY. Look. I’m not normally a left lane driver. I’m usually fine chugging alone by my lonesome in the right/middle lane. But when I have to pass a gigantic truck that could easily crush my tiny car, I’m going to pass him and I’m gonna do it FAST. LEFT = PASSING.  So please, do me a favor, and MOVE. I should not have to use the right lane to pass you. That’s just wrong.

Weaving: I’ll admit, I’m slightly guilty of myself in some situations, but only when people really piss me off in both lanes.  It’s only happened a couple of times. Yet for almost every day I’ve been on the road, I’ve had a car get thisclose to me, then veer sharply into the other lane to tail another car, as if it’s going to magically move faster IN TRAFFIC. Everyone’s stuck, honey. You can be stuck with all of us. Nothing says you get to go further by bashing through several cars. In fact, you’ll probably be the cause of an accident that makes traffic back up even more. So calm the F down.

Tailgaiting: don’t do it. Seriously, don’t do it. This pisses me the hell off. If you want to go faster, DON’T GET UP ON MY ASS. MOVE OVER. There are multiple lanes FOR A REASON. I really don’t need you on my ass while I’m happily driving along and jamming to my music. ESPECIALLY WHEN THE LEFT LANE IS EFFING EMPTY. MOVE THE HELL OVER. It’s not my proudest moment, but I’ve hit the brakes a few times to give the car behind me a little warning now & then that tailgating me is a bad idea. Because if you hit me, it’s your fault. And I really hate getting pissed off enough to have to hit the brakes like that, but I’ll do it. Moreover, if we’re stuck in traffic and you’re tailgating me, what is your problem?

I just had to get that off my chest. Because it sure as hell is not the first or last time this will come up, unfortunately.

 

Girls just wanna have fun

Today was one of the biggest exams of the week for me and my roommate: developmental bio. Our professor is a brilliant, hardass woman who is an excellent teacher but one of the most difficult testers I’ve ever encountered over my college career. Over the past four weeks, we meet at 8am twice a week for lecture. While we usually review slides weekly for our quizzes, studying the material for this exam was just killer. Probably because it was already late during a week of little sleep and lots of work, and we were just getting tired of having back-to-back exams and papers to worry about. That kind of week. This exam was the one thing preventing us from getting to the weekend; we just wanted to get through Thursday morning.

Once that hour and half was over and the exam handed in, we decided to finally enjoy our break and go to the mall.  We got delicious food (mmmm, Popeyes!) and did some window shopping. The best part came during our browsing of FYE, where my roommate found the most epic Game of Thrones poster ever:

(“It’s Boromir!!!” we yelled.) Not only was the poster on sale, but at the register, she had another wonderful surprise: the poster was only $2.50.

Popeyes and Game of Thrones awesomeness in one day? Almost made up for our crazy exam 😛 But it was the most fun hour & half break we’d taken in a while. After this hectic (more than usual) week, my roommate and I finally gave ourselves a break and enjoyed ourselves. And it was totally deserved and well worth the wait 😀

Last night, we also finally got our shirts off Threadless, which my other roommate ordered last week! The shirts have some great print styles and every now and then, go on megasale for $5-$10. It’s awesome. So we picked out what shirts we wanted and ordered 🙂 Today I wore one of the two that I got:

I love this design so much. I knew when I saw it that I had to have it. It’s a great visualization of red riding hood and the wolf! I also got another shirt called Night Catcher, which I’ll definitely post a pic of soon.

So, Threadless shirts, Popeyes, & Game of Thrones poster vs. Exam. Not a bad day, all in all. (Hopefully I’ll still agree when we get grades back.)

Down, but most certainly not out

So I’m totally pooped from studying, but I had to share this wonderful quote I heard today. In my speech class, we watched several speeches as examples of good public speakers. Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford University in 2005 was among the videos we watched. While that entire speech is stirring and chilling, given his recent passing, some moments really stuck out for me. My favorite was this quote:

“Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path.”

It certainly added a lot of wisdom to an otherwise horrid week of midterms and papers. Even more than that, though, it is by far one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard someone say, and I’m pretty sure I’ll carry it with me forever.

 

So excited I can’t think straight

A little less than 10 minutes ago, I found out Lady Antebellum was coming to Philadelphia as part of their Own the Night Tour May 19. I’ve been literally bouncing off the walls since. MAY 19!!!!! This is the first time I’ve been remotely near a Lady A concert venue…the closest one to me last time they toured was in northern PA, about five hours away. This time, they are coming to my city, at a venue that I hope to goodness is nearby. Even if it isn’t, it’s in my city, which means I’ll be there. Someway, somehow. I’M SO EXCITED. I know that’s like 7 months away. But I will have a post-it on my wall reminding me of the date, so that I’ll remember to check when tickets are out. I just hope tickets don’t cost an ungodly amount *cough*JOSHGROBAN*cough* But either way, for now, I am soincrediblystoked for this 😀 Thankyouthankyouthankyou, Hillary, Charles & Dave for coming my way!!

It was close, but we made it

The Cowboys gave my Patriots a pretty good run for their money, but thankfully Tom Brady did his thing and in the end, we managed to pull out with a win. That made my day of endless studying/papers a lot better 🙂

My favorite shot of the game:

Finally, pretty boy (shaved head and all, thank goodness) got his act together and drove his team down the field in the last couple of minutes for a touchdown. My man Wes Welker still leads the NFL in receiving yards ❤

At 5-1 (thanks for that, Bills) we’re heading into a bye week for some rest before an interesting schedule (Steelers, Ravens, yay) resumes.

Other football shoutouts:

-New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton is a hardass mofo. One of his own players was pushed out of bounds by the opposing team and ended up bowling right into Payton, rolling over his left leg. Payton had a fractured tibia and torn MCL, last we heard, and was STILL COACHING from the booth for a while. Eventually, though, the pain took over and he had to go to the locker room. His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, apparently. Here’s hoping he heals soon.

-Congrats to the 49ers! Jim Harbaugh has done a great job with his team and quarterback. At 5-1, they look pretty damn legit. Although last season’s 0-16 Lions still have a heck of a lot to be proud of, at 5-1 as well.

-Aaron Rodgers is still the man. Duh. 6-0 Pack.

Good week in football. At this time next week, hope to be home once more enjoying it with the fam 🙂

Review: ‘The Best of Me’ is not Sparks’ best, by far

I’m a Nicholas Sparks fan. I can’t help it. Usually, I really like love his books; not just for the love story, but for the characters and the way he manages to bring them off the pages. While I admit some of his stories have melodramatic elements, most tend to stay pretty straight and true to a good story, or so I think, at least. But unfortunately, The Best of Me is an exception to that.

Dawson and Amanda were high school sweethearts. He came from one of the town’s oldest and most violent families and had nothing, while she came from a rich family steeped in tradition. But the two of them found common ground and eventually fell in love in high school. They broke up when she went off to college, a decision made by Dawson because he believed she deserved the chance to live her dreams. Okay. It’s fine here, really. Sparks knows how to take us back to the days of teenage summer love, and it works well. Dawson and Amanda are brought back together for one weekend, to the town they grew up in, because of the death of an old friend. Feelings resurface, not just between them, but from other relatives in town who know how to hold a grudge.

The tagline/summary for this book pulled me in simply because I was curious to see how Sparks would handle writing a book about two people who, once in love as teenagers, faced each other again at completely different stages in life. I found it really intriguing to look at the ideas of love lost, and looking at an old partner with new experience but old memories. I thought Sparks could do something really interesting with it. But the added “danger” of Dawson’s troubled past and crazy family sort of killed the whole thing. The story descended into melodrama pretty quickly in the last half, and it lost me. I was with Dawson and Amanda until then. I felt their surprise, resistance, and love for seeing one another, and was rooting for them to be together but also trying to figure out how it could be possible, given their current situations in life. My problem is, Sparks didn’t really answer that question. Instead, a chain of events that seemed soap-opera-esque lead to what was supposed to be a “twist” conclusion, but something I saw coming a mile away. I was dearly hoping I was wrong. But I wasn’t. And unfortunately, this book just didn’t cut it for me. Once it turned from a study of a relationship to this ridiculous domino effect of events, I just wasn’t willing to follow it anymore.

I really do like Nicholas Sparks. I hope he can find a way to go back to books like True Believer (although he completely ruined it for me with a sequel, whose existence I usually deny), or even The Notebook. I know all “romance” novels come with some elements of melodrama, and that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t escalate and overtake the entire story. Sparks has usually been good about tip-toeing that line. Also, I’ve always admired him for making the characters and relationships so strong that I can usually look past the bits of soapyness. Unfortunately, I couldn’t this time. Hopefully next time turns out better.

 

 

 

That’s how I know

About two months ago, when looking for a community volunteer position, I found a program that helps promote literacy and reading among young students. Having volunteered at my public library throughout middle and high school, I knew I loved working with kids and opening their minds through books. Books were my first love, and still are. The joy of reading a good book is really just unparalleled for me by (mostly) anything else, and I loved seeing kids learn and open their imagination through books as well.

The main program was sending volunteers to various public schools in the city to read to kids during their library period. But when I got to the orientation meeting, I learned about another program the organization had: newspaper clubs afterschool. I almost jumped out of my seat when I heard that. Having been deeply involved with my high school paper and college paper, both as a writer and editor, I jumped at the chance to impart my love of journalism to other students. I was so excited to hear that the organization was working with younger kids on journalism.

Today, finally, I had my first session at a middle school helping fifth and sixth graders with their articles. I met them for the first time, and I remembered why I love working with kids. They are so unassuming and full of infectious energy, and have so many fantastic ideas that they can’t wait to share with the world. It’s so refreshing. And working with them just makes me forget my worries for a little while, and the time passed so quickly because I was enjoying myself. But the young girl I was working with was so hyper and brilliant and full of ideas, she could barely concentrate on one. Getting her to finally focus and get her ideas on paper was great, and she was so clearly proud of her research and eager to share her work. It was so much fun to see. And it’s only the first week. I can’t wait for the sessions in the weeks (and I hope, months ) to come.

Every time I leave, I just want to turn around and run back

Leaving home is never an easy thing to do. I know that just as well as most people. And I’m pretty settled into a routine during college when I visit every few weeks, just to see my parents and refresh a bit, and then return to school. I go when I want, since I’m driving myself. And today, after a nice three-day weekend at home thanks to Columbus Day, I thought would be no different. I’d say bye to my parents and head back to school. I was fine for most of the day. I said bye to my dad after he assured himself that my car was packed properly, and upon driving away felt a twinge of sadness. Normal, I thought. I’m always sad leaving home.

Then I went to my mom’s work to say bye to her. She hugged me a little tighter, a little longer, and said “take care of yourself, okay hon?” And for some reason, my throat tightened, and the tears welled up. I kept it together enough to not start the waterworks as I left her work, just managing to keep my voice from breaking. Then, in the car, as I drove away, I let it out. Think pilot-episode Glee, when Emma is sitting in her car, sobbing to loud music. Except, I’m not crying over greasy Mr. Schue. And yes, I’m driving. I know, not the best idea. But I was stuck in traffic for a bit, mercifully, so I just let it out for the first 20 minutes or so of my drive. Pretty pitiful. I blasted music after some time, attempting to get back into my road-trip-level loudness of singing along with the music and pretending I’m just as good a singer.

Once I somewhat settled down, I just couldn’t believe that had happened. An hour and half later, when I got back to the city, I felt slightly incredulous that I had been so upset a short while ago. And while I’m going to blame the sheer suddenness of feelings on my hormones, I know that the feelings themselves were probably simmering for a while. Because I hate going home and seeing my parents getting a little bit older, and hate that they have to do all the work themselves during the day because it’s hard to find good, hardworking employees – seriously, why the eff are people so lazy and picky? I thought the economy was bad…a job is a job, right? Also, my parents are some of the most understanding people out there, so when you piss them off, it’s pretty bad. But mostly, I just hate going home and remembering how it is to live at home and still do my homework and be around my parents. I’m an only child. I love being around my parents. My dad and I got to watch football together on Sunday and it was great. I got to sit at my kitchen counter and do homework while my mom made dinner. It’s like remnants of a past life or some shit. And it sucks. It really does. I’m sure other people have it worse and I should be grateful, and thinking about the good things usually helps push down those sad feelings. For whatever reason, though, leaving today was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

Sometimes I wish I could have my own Neverland so that I didn’t have to grow up and neither did my parents. Or maybe an Everybody Loves Raymond type deal, where I end up just living nextdoor/down the street forever. I’d be alright with that, honestly. My future self might kick me for saying it. But so be it.

Also: Thank goodness for music. Don’t know what I would have done with out it today…probably would have turned around.