That time I graduated (again).

Trying to hide the fact that I’m hungry and my hood is choking me.

Hi. Hello. It’s me, the person who has gone MIA the last few years aside from sporadic Tweets and even more sporadic book reviews.

I guess this post is meant to serve as a graduation announcement/return to the land of the living. After three years, numerous emotional breakdowns reminiscent of those displayed by the small children I live with, far too many Trader Joe’s frozen meals, and mental health treatment, I’m finally done with my MLIS.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with myself now that I’ve graduated AND I’m on summer vacation. Applying for jobs, obviously. Playing with the Legos that have taken over our living room with the soon-to-be kindergarteners in my life. Caring for the numerous plants I have somehow acquired in the last few months. Eating real food. Figuring out how this whole writing thing works again.

I guess the only real answer I have to what comes next is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. And that’s okay.

Currently Reading: Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen
Currently Listening To: Vitamin String Quartet — “Get Lucky”

In which I show you my shelves

Currently Listening To: NSync – “I Want You Back”
Currently Reading: Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

I was having a hard time coming up with a topic for a blog post that wasn’t a book review, seeing as how unexciting things are around here. (I believe this tells you all you need to know about my life right now. Or maybe this. Moving on.)

And then I saw my bookshelves. I mean, there are three of them in my bedroom currently, and that’s only because there isn’t room for another one. (See: multiple stacks of books hanging out under my window.) I mean, they’re not exactly hard to miss.

I thought back to discussions I’ve had with people – in real life and in the internets – about how they organize their books. While this isn’t quite as divisive a topic as writing in your books, it has generated quite a bit of discussion. My methods have also led my roommates to brand me a nerd, but it’s not like that was news to me, or anything.

As you may or may not have gleaned from the above photo – based on your level of observation and whether or not you were reading the titles – I alphabetize by author last name, first. Then, if I have multiple titles by the same author (e.g. Tamora Pierce…), I arrange the books in order by series. Or, if it’s not a series, I arrange the books by copyright date (e.g. Jane Austen, John Green, Nicholas Sparks [I AM NOT ASHAMED]). I used to arrange them by size, but I found this way made it way easier for me to find things when I want them, since I’m really big on rereading. Also, I have the books I still need to read laid across the top, both to save space and as a visual reminder that I still need to read them.

Another thing I’ve discussed is the subject of what else – if there is anything else – should go on your shelves.

I for one, am all for putting knickknacks on my shelves, as there’s usually some personal connection to them – just like to my books. I definitely have a Thing for snowmen. I don’t remember exactly when or why I started collecting them, but my aunt has given them to me for Christmas almost every year since I was in high school, including this one. So there are several of them hanging out in my room. I also have a couple pictures on my shelves, as well as a pot where I keep all of my bookmarks.

What about you? What do your bookshelves look like?

Being a normal person (or: Stephanie has an actual weekend [for once])

Something miraculous happened over the weekend: I actually had an entire weekend off for the first time in forever, since the dining hall is closed for the summer now. And, actually, last weekend was actually my last shift at the dining hall, ever – I’ve decided that, since I’m no longer a Western student, it’s time to move on and try to find a big girl job. I’ve worked at the dining hall for four years, and I’ll miss some of the people I worked with, but really…it’s time to move on.

Anyway, what did I did with my free time? Um…not what I totally planned on doing, which was sit around in my pajamas and eat Oreos and read all day. See, having free time freed me up for something called a social life, which I accidentally took full advantage of.

Saturday night, a couple friends randomly came up to visit for graduation, and we went out to dinner. It was actually really nice out, so we were even able to sit at a table outside. Given that we here in the PNW fondly refer to this time of year as June-uary, it was a very nice treat.

Sunday, an actual real, live book tour came through Bellingham. The Fierce Reads tour was in town, so, of course, I had to put on some pants and go to that. I didn’t actually take pictures at the event, since there were only, like, twelve people there and I didn’t want to be that creepy person drawing attention to herself. (Also, as a couple of the ladies discovered, the room also has some very inconveniently placed columns that would’ve made pictures hard to get, anyway.) I did buy Cinder and Shadow and Bone, and I totally got them signed (and ended up introducing myself as “the one who made the pants comment” on Twitter. I’d tell you I’m not normally that awkward, but I’d be lying.)

All six of the authors present had something really interesting to say, but I think my favorite was Emmy Laybourne’s advice about writing, which was to write the book you want to read. (Obviously, other people have said this, too, but it’s always good to have this beaten into you every chance you can.)

And now, I have an Epic Laundry Pile staring at me, so I’d probably better go fold all my clothes before they eat me in my sleep. Business as usual here!

On becoming a morning person.

I’ve been getting up every day at 5:30 for work, and something completely terrible is happening as a result: I’m turning into a morning person.

It’s Saturday morning. I think I actually woke up at 5 or 5:30, but I finally got out of bed at 6. And…I’m actually sort of okay with it. My apartment is so quiet right now, I don’t have to fight anyone else for the coffee or the bathroom. I have time to sit and leisurely enjoy my coffee and my book before I have to go to my weekend job. It’s actually pretty nice, not being in a hurry.

Theoretically I should also be able to get some writing done, now that I’m not falling asleep (seriously, I fell asleep last night while catching up on last week’s episodes of Colbert – how is that even possible?), and I probably will in a little bit after I’ve checked my email and checked out some more of your blogs. I’ve got a short story in progress that’s a sort of companion piece to SHARDS. You see, there’s this whole reincarnation plot that I keep forgetting to mention in all of my summaries everywhere, so this story is a little bit of the backstory to that, me trying to get inside one of the characters’ heads a little bit more since we only really get one side of the story in SHARDS. (Plus, it’s fun to write from different perspectives every once in awhile!)

Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish that today, and then I can return my focus back to my SHARDS revision! Which isn’t really progressing, with the whole being busy thing. I’m outlining the book right now so I can see the different threads and where they all are, where I have holes that I need to fill in, or where I might shift things, or cut things altogether. Thinking about this doesn’t actually make me want to cry anymore. It’s reading my writing in the early chapters that makes me want to cry. This story was written over the course of two years, and I like to think that my writing got better over time…but I guess I’ll have to see. Apparently I had a tendency to, ahem, misplace my modifiers. ALL THE MODIFIERS ALL OVER THE PLACE. Now that I’m teaching writing, this mostly just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

I’m also toying with some ideas for more writing posts. We’re doing a short story unit in writing right now, so we’re talking about all sorts of things with the students – characterization, setting, conflict, plot, POV, verb tense…I might try to write up posts about some of these topics in the coming weeks.

Ooh, there’s another thing about mornings. I feel so much more productive now that I’ve got all that extra time before my day really gets going! Because if I wait until after my day is over to try to get anything done…it doesn’t work because I’m tired and my brain is fried. But right now, I’m still fresh! (And well-caffeinated. Can’t forget about that!)

Morning people, I’m sorry I hated on you for so long…but I still suggest waiting until I’ve had at least one cup of coffee before you try to talk my ear off.

Currently Listening To: David Guetta feat. Fergie & LMFAO – “Gettin’ Over You”

Currently Reading: Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase

On Piracy & Censorship

So, yesterday, large portions of the internet blacked out in protest of two bills before Congress, SOPA and PIPA. (If you want to learn more, you can go here and here.) This included websites such as Wikipedia (related: the number of people who rely on Wikipedia as their sole source of scholarly information makes me sad), Reddit, Craigslist, Google…not dinky little websites people never look at.

I joined in, blacking out both this blog and my Tumblr. (I tried to do the Twitter blackout. I think I made it 21 or 22 hours. I couldn’t help myself.) Obviously, neither of these patches of internet will ever be anywhere near equaling the scale that Wikipedia and Google reach, but still, I had to show my solidarity somehow.

While I agree that piracy is bad and things should be done about it, punishing everyone because a small group of people are jerks isn’t the way to do it. I mean, yeah, I sternly lecture my friends every time they mention illegally downloading music or movies or whatever from the internet, because even if you think the big wigs are the ones making all the money off of it and don’t they have enough? – well, someone still took the time and energy to create that (yes, even this person), and as someone who spends large amounts of time and energy creating things, I find it very, very uncool to steal things.

But going to the point where you’d potentially be forcing big websites like Google or Tumblr to take responsibility and potentially shut down because some kid who doesn’t know anything about copyright law reblogged a picture they found online? I mean, maybe the ultimate goal isn’t censorship. But, that’s basically what would happen, because everything in these pieces of legislation is so broadly defined, it could leave it open to abuse, and then what? How are we supposed to be able to express ourselves freely if we’re always looking around, worrying about getting in trouble? And if these laws were to pass, couldn’t that just be the first step to even worse things?

Guys, piracy is lame. But censorship is even more lame.

Teaser Tuesday: zombie apocalypse survival plans

Last week for my English class we had to write 200-250 word essays about some aspect of college life. This is what I came up with:
College is the first time many of us will have to face the “real world” and being a “grownup.” Until this point, many of us won’t have had to deal with things such as paying our own rent or cooking for ourselves – although, to be honest, many of us still refuse to face the latter, popcorn being a completely valid option for every meal. Even more important than having food or a place to live, though, is having a zombie apocalypse survival plan.
            Chances are you know what to do if there’s a fire, or maybe even an earthquake. But when you go off into the wide world around you, and actually start to realize how many people are actually out there, you start to realize just how disastrous things could really be if those people you’re running into every day on the bus were to be infected and turned into zombies. You start looking around, trying to figure out the easiest escape route from any lecture hall. If you’re on the bus, you try to figure out how to best maneuver to slay any zombies who try to spread their dreaded virus while some stranger is practically sitting in your lap. You try to find slow people to be friends with so you can use them as bait should you encounter zombies walking around campus.
            The reality is that you really don’t know when the zombie apocalypse could happen. And now that you’re on your own, you have to formulate your own survival plan because Mom and Dad are no longer around to tell you what to do.

In which I surprise graduate.

So, internet, I’m not really sure how one goes about graduating from college by accident, but it would not be me if I did not at least try to find a way. And it would appear that I succeeded.

So, basically, I applied to graduate in June 2012, which is when I finish my student teaching. I got a call from my university asking me if I would like to graduate sooner than that, since I finished all of the requirements for my degree and all I have left is teaching certification courses.

So today I went to go talk to the registrar, having decided that I would like to graduate in December, since it would be more beneficial for me in the long run to have my degree before I finish my certification.

Well, I’m definitely walking in December, guys. But since I’ve finished everything, they’ve awarded me my degree now. As in, I technically graduated from college today.

So, basically, I surprise graduated from college.*

…and then I went home and celebrated by finishing my coffee and straightening the untamed beast that is my hair.

I’m such a winner, guys. A winner who now has a B.A. in History/Social Studies 😀

But never fear, guys. I’ll be back in class at 8:30am three weeks from today, because the craziness is just getting started.

*I just realized this is the fourth paragraph I’ve started with so. I feel like my English teachers and professors would all be very, very sad right now.

Summer of Nostalgia & Discovery

I swear this summer has been the summer of nostalgia for me. I finally saw the Backstreet Boys, the last Harry Potter movie came out, The Lion King is being re-released for two weeks and I’m totally going to go see it, I just finished reading the latest Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book, I went to an outdoor movie on Saturday because it was The Princess Bride, I saw a bunch of my old teachers at my younger sister’s high school graduation, the whole graduating from college thing is making me look at pictures from when I was a wee little freshie and thinking about all the fun times that I can totally get away with in college but are probably frowned upon in the Real World, one of my best friends I hadn’t seen in a few years came up to visit and is moving up here next summer and asked me to be in her wedding next fall, I signed up for a summer reading program for the first time since I was in first or second grade…

Who knows what else will come up in the next three weeks of summer?

I’ve also been trying to keep to my goal of wandering around town and trying out different places I’ve never been, or even really known the existence of because I spend the school year curled up in the fetal position in the library and I spent all of last summer in Retail Hell.

For instance…

At the beginning of the summer, my friend and I saw a poster in the bagel place downtown that advertised a summer outdoor movie series in Fairhaven, this totally expensive adorable part of town that has some pretty awesome shops, restaurants and bars I’m regrettably too poor to actually try out, and my favorite book store on the planet. After failing all summer to actually make it to one of the shows, we finally went last Saturday to The Princess Bride, which was pretty much mandatory. We got there two hours early and managed to score some pretty awesome seats.

We have x-ray vision, so the columns were not a problem at all.

I’ve also been exercising my taste buds…a lot. There’s this Cajun restaurant downtown that my roommate, another friend, and I just randomly happened to walk by and decided to try on a whim, and it is delicious. We’ve gone there a ridiculous number of times since discovering it, and pretty much the entire staff knows us by sight, if not necessarily by name (yet!).

A couple weeks ago we also went to this Indian restaurant that’s a lot further out, which I think is why it was so empty when we were there, because the food was delicious. On the downside it’s right next to the retailer I worked for last summer, and I actually, literally shuddered when we walked past. (Not a lot of happy memories of that place, as you can tell.)

And then last night we went to this little place in the alley behind our apartment that specializes in mead, of all things. It was my first experience with mead, and it was delicious. I had a raspberry, and a sip of my roommate’s orange, and both were good. The orange one was really sweet, and the raspberry one was really tart, and totally delicious. I will definitely be going back and sampling the rest of their offerings.

And now I’m going to return to eating my way through the remaining three weeks of my summer. However, I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with this:

Currently Listening To: Cobra Starship – “Middle Finger”

Best project EVER

For my young adult lit class we have to do a group project on something related to the adolescent experience. My group decided to do teen fads, specifically focusing on music, dance, movies, tv shows, and fashion. As the history major in the group, I volunteered to cover the 1940s and 1950s (although none of the other group members seemed particularly enthused about these decades anyway…).

So now I’m listening to a 1940s big band playlist on YouTube. And it’s totally productive, because it’s research. Best project ever.

In other news, I signed up for the public library’s adult summer reading program. I haven’t done a summer reading program since I was a little kid, and I have this giant stack of library books, so I figured, why not? My goal is 20 books. I already have two. And, given the pace I’m reading Anna and the French Kiss, it’ll probably be three by tomorrow. I think this is probably the cutest book I’ve ever read. I just want to hug it and never let go.

I’m also taking the WEST-E next month. Which, for those of you not in the know, is the state test that I have to take in order to get a teaching certificate that proves that I have enough knowledge of my subject area to be able to teach it competently. Next month I’m doing the Social Studies one, and then this fall I’ll take my other one for my Humanities endorsement. I have like a 19-page PDF file with all of the things that should be on the test. Most of it I feel pretty solid on, but I pretty much looked at all of the stuff that pertains to Washington State History and was like, “When did we ever talk about that?” But I’m not too worried about it.

I have a job interview on Thursday for a summer job…wish me luck!

Oh, and before I forget, the world definitely needs to be exposed to this: