Sisterhood // Family Week Day 3

The final day of family week is here!

The best way the describe my sister and I is that we’re exactly the same and incredibly different. We have very similar interest but completely different personalities. On speaker with her a few weeks ago, her friends explained how to them it sounded like she was having a conversation with herself, that’s how similar we sound.

Hannah was born in ‘95 and I was born in ‘97 (yeah, I know). Being two years apart meant that we were constantly connected growing up. We had roughly the same friends, were interested in the same things. She matured first, but because she was mature I quickly followed suit. Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly the Bad Years. We were both terrible teenagers at the same time and we fought constantly for a few years

Now we’re closer than ever. That’s how sisterhood is.

I’ve written a lot about my sister. Don’t worry, I can’t shut up about her off the internet either. She’s been a parent, a companion, a partner-in-crime, a best friend. She’s the one I call first when I’m feeling homesick or something’s wrong.

I can send her a completely obscure text in the middle of the night and she’ll get it. I can ask her some totally random question and she’ll answer without questioning. I can stay up all night with her watching the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies.

Some of the best times of my life are driving aimlessly around with all the windows rolled down and terrible sugar-pop blasting through the speakers. Laughing at bad jokes in McDonalds so late it’s morning. Movie premiers, trips to the beach in the rain, burger runs. My concept of family and to a greater extent happiness is inextricably linked to her.

In one of my classes we had to pick a stance on a series of moral questions. One of them concerned where your loyalties lie– government or family– and how strong.Me? I’m ride or die, baby. All the way til’ the end.

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Mother Dearest // Family Week Day 2

My relationship with my mom has been turbulent at best. Now that I have the gift of hindsight I’m just so embarrassed about how I act towards her when I was a teenager. It was bad, to say the least.

I may or may not have mentioned this before but my parents divorced when I was thirteen, which is just a terrible age in general, even worse when your life falls apart before your eyes. And… I blamed my mom. I blamed her for walking out on us, even though she didn’t. I just couldn’t understand the sacrifices she was making. For my sister and I, for myself. For two years she lived in a terrible place that could only be described as a cabin, with no heat, just so she could be close to us. But I didn’t want to see her. I can’t imagine how awful the way I acted made her feel.

I don’t deserve her. All things considered I’ve been a terrible daughter to a mother who has done nothing but love me. She drove me to school almost every day the year between my sister going to college and me getting my license (this was no small thing– by then she’d moved twenty minutes away, forty with the terrible morning traffic). She was always willing to make me food when dad hadn’t gone grocery shopping, bought me food, sent me sweet text messages in the middle of the day.

She’s also so strong. I wanted to write this before Breast Cancer Awareness month was over, because my mom had breast cancer twice. The first time was in the midst of when I hated her, and I hardly knew anything about it. Imagine having to deal with the contempt of your daughter and fucking cancer at the same time. But she did, and was fine. Until the cancer came back, that is. This time I was older, our relationship was mostly repaired but she still suffered largely without me knowing (don’t worry, one double mastectomy later, she’s fine).

It’s so easy for us to go through life without ever thinking about the things our parents sacrifice for us without our knowing. It’s so easy to never say thank you, to never give anything back. And that’s fucked up. I want to be a better daughter. I want to give the love my mom gave to me back to her.

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Daughters of Fathers // Family Week Day 1

I’m my father’s daughter.

We don’t look that similar; the only feature I inherited from him was my hair (which, thank you). My nose, my eyes, my freckles– all my mom.

As far as personality goes? All him.

We’re quiet people. After my sister moved out and it was just and him (and my cat, Ziggy), the house was so quiet. It’s so nice to sit in silence with someone and still feel close. I also got my dad into scented candles (Yankee Candle is very important to me), so our house always smelled like fall. Yeah, even in the summer. Hey, I like what I like. His love of history I got too, though he probably forced his hand with that one. Every night we would watch the nightly news (David Muir is our favorite), then Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy to round things out.

I inherited some of his bad habits, too. Not great with the whole “expressing your feelings” thing.

I meet a lot of people with bad relationship with their fathers and nothing could make me sadder. My dad is a cool guy and I wish I could share my experience growing up with him (he did kind of adopt my best friend). More than anyone, he tells me what I need to hear when I’m complaining. He believes in tough love and doesn’t hesitate to tell me to just deal with the problems I’ve made for myself. But when I really need it he’s there with a hug, and the fact that he doesn’t give them out often makes them more significant.

He’s a total softie on the inside though. His favorite movies are Spirited Away and Up.

Speaking of favorite movies. He says something to me, everytime I go off with reluctance (work, the SATs, a boring social experience): have fun storming the castle! Of course, that’s an improvised line from The Princess Bride, another favorite movie of ours. One day I have plans to get that tattooed on my body as my first big piece.

I’m far from Daddy’s Little Princess. My dad’s probably never treated anyone like a princess. When I was little and we played Mario Kart and Mario Party together on our beat-up Nintendo 64 (we still have it, by the way), he would never let me win. Self-reliance, that’s what I was taught.

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Tips To Waking Up Early

When you’re in college, waking up to do anything can be difficult. 8am’s are excruciating, napping in the middle of the day can lead to sleeping all night, and don’t even get me started on getting up at 6am to volunteer and boost your resume.  We all need sleep, sure, but too much of it, like any good thing, is bad. I have my bad days, but I like to think I’m pretty good at waking up. Here are my tips.

Don’t sleep in which is much easier said than done. I try to not sleep in past ten on any given day, including weekends. This is a must for me, because at 10am I’m scheduled to take a pill. Turn your snooze option off, so you won’t be tempted to go for “ten more minutes.” Alarms work, but what’s even better is getting your inner clock to go along for the ride. To better facilitate this, create an uncomfortable variable. Back home, I had an east(ish) facing window and no blinds, so in the mornings it would eventually just be too sunny to sleep anymore. In the swing of things I usually couldn’t sleep past 8:30 even if I had been up all night. College messed that up a little.

Eat immediately (or drink coffee or shower or work out). I am almost totally caffeine tolerant (meaning caffeine does nothing to wake me up. I’ve drunk expresso then napped.) so I don’t drink coffee, but eating always does the trick of waking me up in the mornings. I’ve heard the same about showering. Don’t daddle around in bed, even if it is super comfy. Just get up, and do it. I promise it will make things easier.

Now, a lot of waking up is mental. Don’t make excuses. Don’t lie in bed staring up at the ceiling contemplating all your life choices that let up to you having to get up so early. The alarm goes off, roll out of bed and get your blood pumping. If you think that your 8am isn’t important (which maybe it isn’t, but that’s not the point), chances are you won’t go so make it a priority. Even if it seems stupid, going to class is important. You’re paying a whole lot of money, why waste it?

I hope these helped some struggling student or anyone else. Remember, you got this!

Top Five Favorite Books

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Published 2006 by Knopf. 550 pages
    Where on earth have you been if you’ve not read this book? It literally amazes me that there are people out there who haven’t picked this up for whatever reason. Yes, it’s long. Yes, it’s technically YA– but as someone who generally hates YA I can say for sure it transcends categorization. I am haunted by this novel. I cannot escape it floating around in my mind. The first time I read it I was in middle school (my copy is from a Scholastic book fair), and I still get emotional about it sometimes. I’ve also made everyone I’ve ever known read it as well.
  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Published 2004 by Random House. 509 pages
    Most of the books I love are long. I don’t know what that says about me. Cloud Atlas is one of those books that makes me look like a total snob, but, you like what you like. If you’ve seen the movie (ugh), you might get the impression that each separate narrative is being constantly cut by others. But the structure is actually more like a pyramid– except for the middle narrative, each one gets two lengthy chapters. It gets a bad rap for being difficult, and at times it is, but it probably won’t be as hard as you think it is. Prepared to get seriously introspective, though.
  1. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. Published 2008 by Vintage. 576 pages
    This is where things get a little messy. While I can say definitively that The Book Thief is my favorite book ever written and that Cloud Atlas is the second, a myriad of other books play for the last three spots. The best way to describe this book is that it’s as if a comic book became a novel. It’s crazy, action packed (ninjas are a main plot point), and science fiction without being overwhelming. The twist in this book? Completely unexpected, which is rare these days. Out of any author I can think of, Nick Harkaway writes truly unique books.
  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Published 2001 by William Morrow. 465 pages.
    The vast majority of the novels I read recreationally is soul crushing literary fiction. Why? I like crying. But most of my favorites of favorites are dramedies, and comic-booky. American Gods is a bit like the previous entry. To be sure, a lot of serious shit goes down but the concept is decidedly low-key fantasy. Basically: all the gods still exist, but they’ve been overrun by the gods of the new age. Shadow, our wonderfully ethnically-ambiguous protagonist gets caught up in the mess. I also got to meet Neil Gaiman back in 2011. It was as awesome as you’d think. (Watch out for a Bryan Fuller (!!!) run Starz series!)
  1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Published 1973; 30th Anniversary Edition published 2007 by Harvest Books. 512 pages.
    Who are you if you’ve never heard of The Princess Bride? First, the movie is a total classic. Second, the book is just as good, if not better. Short story: everything you loved about the movie is in the book, plus more. A note on the edition: the thing you can buy in stores these days is the Anniversary edition, which is not 512 pages, but includes a lot of additional information and stories. It’s very good, strong recommend on it. 

Honorable Mentions: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; We the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

Field Trip! Wilma Theater, Philadelphia

Staying in my dorm all day is lousy, so I try to take myself on field trips around the city as something to do. Solo trips can be fun!

The school was kind enough to pay for a ticket to see Antigone at the Wilma Theater in Center City, Philadelphia. It’s kind of notorious for being an “artsy” theater, which, yeah. I’d agree with that. However, I’m into that kind of thing. My theater director in high school spent a lot of time dragging us around Boston to see shows, and we certainly saw some weird ones (Shockheaded Peter, anyone?)

The Wilma is beautiful. The facade itself harkens back to the past thirty years and is lovely, but I do wish the lobby was a bit bigger. Especially because they didn’t start seating until nearly 8, when the show was set to begin (they also specified no late seating, meaning most people were well early and had to stand around waiting). In the theater itself (holds 300) there’s not a bad seat in the house, and the light and sound systems are superb.

If you’ve never seen or read a more conventional version of Antigone, you probably would have no idea what was happening. In fact, the translation was so different– the performance is in both English and Greek– I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening and I read the play two days before I saw it. At times it certainly tries too hard to be unique and some very odd artistic choices are made. Spoilers, there’s a lot of spitting. While most people I talked to didn’t understand this choice at all, I (think?) I did. It’s a physical play, tackling the innately physical nature of suffering.

I could be making this all up, but we try to make sense out of what we see.

I was intrigued by the company, though. Overall, the performances were strong (even if Antigone suffered from Constantly Yelling Syndrome). Even better, the Wilma currently has a bold initiative to make theater affordable, meaning you can get tickets for $25 (general public) or $10 (students and theater professionals).

In conclusion: the Wilma is worth a visit even if to just appreciate the theater itself. It’s cheap as hell to see a play, and even if it’s weird and you don’t like, chances are a night out on the town will be fun anyways. To see the full catalog of shows, tickets, etc., visit the Wilma’s website.

As always, please like a comment if you enjoyed this post! Cheers!

A Thousand Splendid Suns // Review

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Kahled Hosseini. Published 2007, Riverhead Books. 372 pages.

Beautiful, heartbreaking, savage. A Thousand Splendid Suns is the interwoven story of two Afghani women in Kabul during the height of violence in the 80s and 90s. Any more than that will be a disservice to the story. I personally didn’t have much knowledge of Afghanistan before I read this novel but I was so captivated by the picture Hosseini painted I was compelled to discover more. His Afghanistan is lovely, and cruel, but uniquely home to its characters, so much so that they can’t let it go.

photo (1)

That’s something I can relate to.

A lot of reservation surrounding this novel is that people fear it won’t be as good as The Kite Runner, Hosseini’s novel of similar circumstance yet different subject. I haven’t read it, so my view is completely unbiased. It does make me want to read it, though.

Ultimately, I was so involved in the story I wasn’t paying much attention to the overall thematic arc. Part of the beauty of Hosseini’s storytelling, however, is that it snuck in between the words and pages. As strong as the storytelling is, there is the undeniable social and political commentary that comes along with this novel. It’s almost downright educational in nature, providing a complex view of the struggle of modern Afghanistan and the parties involved.

Often I would find myself reading a passage somewhere on campus and struggle to keep my composure. It’s not fun to cry in public, but I am definitely a crier and there were times I had to close to book and take a break. I won’t get into narrative spoilers here, but there are parts that are hard to read. Sometimes you can feel it coming, a terrifying suspicion, and other times it catches you off guard.

This is a book about love. The kind you glue together from the broken pieces smashed on the floor, the kind you stitch together and prick your fingers with. Unyielding, because in Hosseini’s Afghanistan, you either yield or perish.

Date Your Friends

Not romantically. Platonically date your friends.

Let me tell you a story: during the summer I had a standing date with my friend Cleo on Monday mornings. We’d go out to breakfast (sometimes lunch if she slept in late, which was often), get a pedicure together, go shopping. It was one of the best things I did all summer, if to just spend two hours with someone I cared about a week.

There is literally no one on earth who rolls their eyes harder when adults (or fellow young people– looking at you Odyssey articles) bring up how technology is destroying intimacy, our lives, the economy, world, etc. BUT there’s something wonderful and special about seeing someone in person. Even if you instagram your breakfast.

Chances are, your friends are cool! You’ll want to hang out with them and laugh with them and eye that cute guy with a man-bun with them. Or girl, I dunno.

My point is: friends are much less likely to let you down than a boy (or girl!) is. Boys are stupid– sorry, they are. I can’t wrap my mind around them. They’re too distant or too clingy. Or they’re a bipolar combination of both. Either way they’re gonna break your heart. Going on cute dates with your friends is much better, honestly, because there’s no expectation or awkwardness. This is a time where you don’t have to impress anyone, you can just have fun. Your friends won’t judge you when you eat a whole pizza by yourself (if you’re ever in the Dover NH area, do yourself a favor and go to La Festas). They’ll get bloated with you at Margaritas and will bitch and whine with you while you wait for nachos (I’ve done some weird shit with my friends– I could go on). There’s just good ole fashion gossip, chatter, and smack-talking.

As always, please like and comment if you enjoyed this post! Or even if you didn’t, I dunno.


Whether we think consciously about it or not, we all make goals.

I am a success oriented person. Winning feels great. I don’t play sports, but I love to watch them, and I love to see the guy I’m rooting for win. If I find something and I think it’s meaningful, I automatically put 110% into it– it’s just part of who I am. For the moment, the thing on the top of the list is school and that’s how it’s been for a long time (we could get into how thinking about not being in school terrifies me, but, shudder).

I think this blog is getting up there. I’ve proven to myself that I can do this, publishing three times a week, so it’s about time I hack out some more concrete goals.

  1. Be more involved with the community
    Comment on more people’s blogs, first and foremost. I’ve also been thinking about starting a twitter account just for this blog (now that my personal one is private) so I can share relevant content to. I don’t want this blog to just be me typing words at a screen– I want an experience for me and my readers.
  2. Sustain a more unified style/theme
    Sometimes this blog is all over the place. I write about whatever I want, mostly, and that’s great. But sometimes my style dips from narrative to conversational, even in one post. This is something that can definitely be helped out by better scheduling and an organized tagging system.
    I definitely need to invest in a calendar or planner of some sort reserved for this blog only. Some weeks I have a huge output, where inspiration just hits me and I can write, three, four posts in a couple of hours. Other weeks I just have lists and quotes. I want to make sure there’s a better mix of all these things. It’s not fun to wake up on a Monday and realize you have nothing to post (like today).
  4. Photos and Photoshop
    I want to be able to have my own original photos and Photoshop my own graphics, which takes both time (on the Photoshop front) and money (on the camera front). It’s not question these things would improve the quality of this blog, but the question is availability. I might have to come back from this one– especially because I do not have the money to buy a new, nice camera right now. Even my phone camera is crap– I still rock the iPhone 4. Featured images with the title is also something I want to look into doing more, but once again, that would involve actually knowing what I’m doing beforehand.

As always, please like and comment down below! 

Dipping Into the Quote Jar

Sorry this is a day late. Posting on Friday’s is hard.

I keep a little jar of book quotes that I’ve collected over the years. Because I have midterms coming up and am short on time, I decided to dip into the jar and pull out a few quotes to share.

1. “So it goes” –Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Of course, possibly one of the most well-known literary quotes ever. People get this tattooed on their body (I’ve been thinking about it, actually), but I think for good reasons! It’s a statement of being alive, of the constant battle against our human perceptions and the ways of the universe.

2. “But the sparrow still falls” –Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

Admittedly, I haven’t read this novel yet, but it’s high on my TBR list. My sister read it three years ago, and she read aloud from it often. This is the tail end of a larger quote: “There’s an old Jewish story that says in the beginning God was everywhere and everything, a totality. But to make creation, God had to remove Himself from some part of the universe, so something besides Himself could exist. So He breathed in, and in the places where God withdrew, there creation exists.”

So God just leaves?”

No. He watches. He rejoices. He weeps. He observes the moral drama of human life and gives meaning to it by caring passionately about us, and remembering.”

Matthew ten, verse twenty-nine: Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”

3. “Each time is true, but the truths are not the same” –Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams

Einstein’s Dreams is a lovely, tiny novel, a series of vignettes and fictional account of the dreams Einstein has while working in a patent office and coming up with the theory of relativity. I can not emphasize how easy a read this is: each vignette is at most four pages long. I read almost the entire thing on a plane from Boston to Baltimore. In each vignette there is a different world where time (and truth) is displayed differently.