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:

Summer in the City of Subdued Excitement

My friend and her fiance were visiting from California this weekend, looking around because they’re thinking about moving here. (She is familiar with the area, he is not.) We ended up revisiting a few of the places we used to go a lot during our freshman year before she transferred colleges, a lot of which I hadn’t been to in a few years.

It really made me nostalgic. It also made me thing…this is it. This may quite possibly be the last summer I have up here. I have tons of time on my hands (for the moment – I have an interview for a part-time job coming up!) – I should slow down and try to really enjoy it, and try to soak it all in one last time.

I love it up here. I really do. I remember the spring of my junior year of high school, when I was starting to think about which colleges to apply to, I had my heart set on the University of Washington – until my guidance counselor told me to look into Western, which is known for its teaching college. I’m really glad I ended up taking his advice, because let’s face it – while I love visiting Seattle, I could never live there. It’s too big. I’d be miserable.

Anyway. Bellingham has a unique charm to it, and I’m going to miss it if/when I have to leave. So. I’m endeavoring to make this last summer up here truly awesome, even with the class and potential job. And I’m hoping to be able to share some of that with you…if I can remember to pack my camera/that I have packed my camera. (Let’s face it, my cell phone camera just doesn’t cut it.)

And on the writing front, I opened my Word document for the first time in months yesterday morning, and was all set with my coffee and my Cobra Starship…and then I ended up writing a poem instead. I’ve written a little bit tonight, though, it’s been awhile so I’m trying to get back into the groove.

And now I’m falling asleep, so I’ll call it good here. Have a good night, everyone!

Currently Listening To: Enrique Iglesias – “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)”
Currently Reading: Lirael by Garth Nix

In which I politely rage.

The Wall Street Journal published this article about how books written for teenagers are too dark and are going to lead them all into depravity.

I think this is ridiculous (and not in a good way). Yes, there are dark YA books out there. But these books aren’t dark for the sake of being dark. These books tackle serious issues in ways that are accessible to teenagers. Teenagers need these books, because often this is the only way they can deal with these issues because the adults who should be there for them are too busy burying their heads in the sand, pretending that teens are completely ignorant about the world around them. (Newsflash: they’re not. They’re way smarter than they get credit for.)

You know why the sorts of books this author complains about exist? Because they exist in our society. If things like rape, abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, etc. didn’t exist in our society – if teenagers didn’t have to deal with them – there would be no reason to have to write these books.

I might someday be a language arts teacher. I think about the things I had to read in school – how many of these things can students really relate to? I mean, yes. There is something to be said for having them read the classics and broaden their horizons and whatever (and I love them, don’t get me wrong), but at the end of the day, is a story about twenty-somethings trying to find rich husbands, or an exploration of the depravities of Victorian society, or a crazy king with conniving daughters, or anything part of the literary canon of dead white guys, really going to grab their attention? Or is it going to be books like Looking for Alaska, or Speak, or The Hunger Games – books that are real, books they can relate to, books about kids who could just as easily be them? If I can get away with it, I would definitely pull these books in. I don’t think forcing kids to read books they don’t want to read, anyway, is very effective; it just kills any love of reading they might have had. Kids need these books, because it might be the only thing that will get them to read.

Personally, the characters in these books were the only friends I had whenever I was the “new kid.” I’m really glad these books exist. If it wasn’t for them, there are so many lunchtimes I probably would have spent sitting alone. And when I did make friends, often it was these books we bonded over – Tamora Pierce and Meg Cabot both come to mind.

So, if people are going to continue to insist on attacking and belittling these books, I’m going to continue to politely rage at these people.

New Years Resolutions

First, I would like to point out that the Huskies won the Holiday Bowl. And it was a beautiful thing to watch.

Now to join the clamor of year-end posts, blah blah blah. I already covered what I learned. So now I’m going to look ahead to next year (or, I guess, 14 hours from now):

1. Take a few minutes to read and write every day. During the three months that made up fall quarter, I didn’t finish a single book that wasn’t for class. Similarly, I’ve been working on this draft of SHARDS for a year and I’m only 13,000 words in. Both of these things must change.

2. Try to avoid future nervous breakdowns by taking a break when I get stressed to the point of completely shutting down and/or throwing tantrums. Sometimes I just need to go for a walk, go downtown to get coffee, or go to the gym and beat the crap out of something.

3. Each day, find at least one thing that made me happy. I didn’t focus enough on the positives this year. This is something else I need to work more on.

And there they are. Hopefully I can keep these up for longer than a week. =)

Anatomy of a history paper.

A week and a half ago, I had to submit a rough draft of my Big Paper to my professor so he could read it and offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. I got mine back, and now I have eight days to revise it.

…and by revise, I mean more or less rewrite it.

I got three pages of written comments back with my draft, in which my professor conceded that I did a very good job using my primary sources, but other than that didn’t really have anything positive to say. This professor is notoriously critical. He does a very effective job of (very politely) making you feel like a complete idiot. But if I could pick anyone in the world to help me revise my novel when I finally finish this draft, he is probably one of the people I would choose.

So, basically, my poor paper is about to be Humpty Dumpty’d: I am going to shove it off the wall and try to put it back together again. And, when I’m done, it will hopefully be a much better product than this one was.

(Confession: I didn’t turn in a completed draft. It was due the same day Harry Potter came out, which I made sure to note when I turned in 20 pages and a detailed outline of the last 6 or 7 pages.)

And now, it’s time for me to turn on “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” (which is quite possibly the single most inspirational song ever) and do this thing.

Encouraging our children to read.

Last night I went to the second Harry Potter Club meeting of the year. The meeting revolved around “Harry Potter and You” – or, how Harry Potter has affected our lives.

A lot of people talked about how their families would all sit and read the books aloud together. Or, alternatively, how family members would fight over copies of the books. Others talked about how they never liked to read…and then they read Harry Potter. My little brother is one of those. He really does like to read, but it’s really hard to find things that will keep his attention long enough for him to finish. (Harry Potter, Pendragon, Percy Jackson, and the Inheritance books are the ones he reads over and over again. Does anyone know of anything else out there in that vein?)

I had a similar experience when I was in first or second grade. It was clear from the time we were split up into reading groups in first grade that my reading level was very advanced compared to the rest of my classmates. I read the Boxcar Children books initially, but soon ran out of those. What was there for me to read next? My mom thought I might like the Little House books. So she brought home Little House on the Prairie for me to read. I finished it in two days. I still have my copies of every single book in the series at my mom’s house (despite her attempts to convince me to part with them, which will never happen), and that now beat-up and yellowed copy my mom gave me 15 years ago is in my room up here.

Given how important I think it is for children and adolescents to read, and how hard it can be sometimes to convince them to do this, I don’t like to trash books as “bad”. Do I disagree with how Stephenie Meyer chooses to portray Bella’s relationships with Jacob and Edward in the Twilight saga? Yes. Yes, I do, because I think it sends a negative message to teenage girls, and I’m very glad my sister has enough common sense to realize how creepy Edward is, and that dating a guy like that in real life is probably a Bad Idea. But if it gets teenagers reading, then I’m going to support that. Because at least they’re reading.

What were the books that got everyone else reading?

&hearts Steph