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~{Abandoned…}~* A Flair for the Dramatic and A False Interpretation of Our Architecture. 

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2016 at 11:50 pm

I work at a house museum. So, when work is slow, I have a little down time to play on my phone–I mean, tweak yet another job application and read intellectual stimulating books. Okay, when I need to take a break from that, I go on Pinterest. There, I can browse through hundreds of pictures of everything I’m interested in–home decor, places to travel, clothes I like, tips and tricks for living in the real world  (I need extra help with that).

Recently, I’ve been on a kick where I am pinning pretty much all Italianate houses in any condition. Though the Queen Anne style has been my favorite for years, I’ve grown to appreciate the long, angular, and austere architecture style of the mid-19th century. You can get a huge range of design within the Italianate style. Some are embellished with brackets over every aperture. Some have impressive and imposing eaves that would make some of the Greek Revivals look like vernacular cottages. Others, though, are simpler–though not plainer. These are the ones that I believe best represent the architectural bones of the Italianate style across the country. The ones that are built with white-painted clapboards, the ones that possess tall windows with thin muntins that almost disappear into the glass, leaving facades with large expanses of windows to let in light (and for architectural voyeurs like myself to peek in).

circaitalianate

This one is for sale! Who wouldn’t want to live in an Italianate in Vermont? I’m having heart palpitations.

hightower

This is my dream right here. The tower’s mansard roof, rounded hood molds–it’s perfect.

In the last few days I noticed a trend on Pinterest that disturbed me for several reasons. Pinterest will bring up recommended pins on your homepage that they think you will like based on your other pins (that disturbs me, though that’s for a different day). So, since I’ve been pinning pictures of Italianate houses, my homepage is now filled with recommended pins of other houses with the style. And I noticed something. Nearly every board title on these recommended pins had the title “Abandoned,” or some variation.

This made me pause and narrow my eyes. Abandoned? How did they know? I typed into the searchbar, “Abandoned.” Board after board popped up under the architecture category. They were filled with “old houses” in the most basic sense. Numerous photographs depicting historic churches and houses filled my screen. I noticed the things they had in common–stripped paint, frame, all or nearly all windows intact, (the appearance of being) structurally sound, in a field. They’re all in a field. Guess you can’t have “abandoned” houses in cities? (Tell that to Detroit!) I clicked on a few of the links that took me to the source. Some were from Flickr, the photo sharing site. Others were from blogs. The overhwhelming majority, though, did not identify the structure, its history, its location, why it was photographed, and, most importantly, why it is labeled as “abandoned.”

Dictionary.com defines the word “abandoned” as forsaken or deserted. Now, this is the problem I have–so many of these houses would not be considered abandoned by historic preservationists today. In fact, that word really isn’t in our vocabulary. And I think that is a good thing. I like to think of houses as possessing anthropomorphic characteristics, such as pride, loyalty, and a soul. I try not to think ill of any structure. Even the Brutalist hospital building three blocks from my house–I don’t understand the style, I do not like it, but I can appreciate its role in American history and aesthetics and respect that. All structures demand as much respect as we’d give each other–houses especially so, because houses give shelter to people, families, roommates, pets, and everything else people give meaning to. That includes furnishings that have been passed down, portraits of loved ones, and the intangible parts of making a “house”–a structure meant to be lived in– into a “home”–a retreat, a palpable though not physical definition that ascribes being comfortable. I have arrived.  My classmates and I were banned from using the word “home” when describing a structure. It is not a structure, it is an adjective given to a structure that is derived from personal attachment and meaning. I think people have a hard time accepting that, preservationists and laymen alike. It’s asking us to think critically and sometimes brutally but not emotionally, when at its heart, preservation of historic and culturally significant structures is one of the most emotionally-wrought jobs to embrace. I would not be a preservationist if I did not love buildings. If I didn’t want to see another 19th century farm knocked down for a high-density neighborhood in my once-rural hometown. If I didn’t want to cry anymore whenever I learned of a structure that had nobody to fight for it, so it lost its battle without even raising a sword. This brings me back to my problem with people labeling boards full of historic structures as “abandoned.” It implies a human factor, a complex emotional component no one can begin to understand without having experienced it themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Problem With Country

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

The past week I had the family dog, Quincy, with me in Charleston. He needed a little vacation from his puppy sister. She has so much energy and personality that I feel especially confident Quincy could be elevated to sainthood for only occasionally placing a well-placed paw on Sophie’s back to push her away from him. I dropped him back home on Sunday and drove back to Charleston on Monday. The Sunday drive was lovely. Bright, sunny, clear, with drivers confidently speeding down the highway in all lanes. Monday, however, was less enjoyable. 45 minutes into my journey the skies opened and poured down rain for 5 and a half hours of my journey. The stress of passing serious car wrecks caused by the weather and every lane clogged with people driving no more than 58 miles an hour made me irritable and not very excited to arrive back in the Charleston heat, sans Quincy. When I am stuck, like how I felt driving solo down a wet, gray highway, I turn to the one thing that pushes me through–country music from the 1990s and early 2000s.

20 year old country music? Really? If that’s what you first thought, you have likely been affected by the results of country music today on us. I’ll get to that in a minute. Right now, let me explain to you why old country music is the best country music.

The likelihood is very strong that the very first song to ever reach my ears was probably a country song, played on the radio of my parents’ black Nissan Maxima as they drove me home from the hospital in a snowstorm four days after my birth. Though my mother usually has controls over the radio, regardless of who is driving, I’m guessing my father already had the radio tuned into a country music station when they turned on the car. My mother, whose family has Mississippi roots extending before the Civil War, is no fan of the genre. She makes fun of the Rascal Flatts and their drippy emotional songs and Shania Twain’s energetic yelps in her songs that, according to my mom, sounds like a seal, with her usual amount of vigor when criticizing something that displeases her. My father, on the other hand, has listened to country at least as long as I can remember. His family hails from the northeast so I can’t say it was his environment growing up in the 60s and 70s involved any country singers on the radio. It remains a mystery to me why country is his favorite genre. As with pretty much anything else he explains, his reasons are vague and confusing enough that I can’t even recall them.

As soon as I put on Google Play’s “90s Gone Country” playlist, the warm, easy melody of Brooks & Dunn’s “My Maria” played through my car’s speakers. This is promising! I told myself. My favorite country song of my childhood. I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but as a kid I didn’t know or care about song lyrics. It was the melodies of the guitars and violins, the harmonies of the singing voices, and the tempos of the songs that appealed to me. Put on any 80s song and ask me to sing along, I won’t get any of the lyrics right, but I will get the title and the name of the artist (“There’s a bad moose on the right” is a great one–such a classic!).

I still remember my British friend telling me the first country song she ever heard. Before she even mentioned the artist, I said “OH NO, DON’T tell me it was–” “WHISKEY LULLABY” we said simultaneously. Obviously, she never wanted to hear another country song as long as she lived. I don’t blame her! It’s beautiful, but that’s a good one to ease into once you’ve heard the happy songs by Tim McGraw and Trace Adkins. You made her cry, Brad Paisley!

Anyway, here’s a list of my favorite country songs. You really can’t expect me to limit this list to one Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, or George Strait song, so they’ve got several listed here.

Trisha Yearwood–She’s in Love with the Boy

Alabama–I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

John Anderson–Seminole Wind

John Michael Montgomery–Sold

Alan Jackson–Drive

Patty Loveless–I’m That Kind of Girl

Hal Ketchum–Small Town Saturday Night

Diamond Rio–Meet Me in the Middle

Tim McGraw–Something Like That

Mary Chapin Carpenter–Passionate Kisses

Kenny Chesney–How Forever Feels

Lonestar–Amazed

Garth Brooks–The Thunder Rolls

Tim McGraw–Down on the Farm

Faith Hill–This Kiss

Martina McBride–Wild Angels

Travis Tritt–It’s a Great Day to Be Alive

Brooks & Dunn–My Maria

 

Joe Nichols–Brokenheartsville

Garth Brooks–Friends in Low Places

Trisha Yearwood–XXX’s and OOO’s

Toby Keith–Should’ve Been a Cowboy

Tim McGraw–Just to See You Smile

Dwight Yoakam–Fast As You

Brooks & Dunn–Play Something Country

Jo Dee Messina–Heads Carolina, Tails California

Brad Paisley–We Danced

Tim McGraw–I like It, I Love It

George Strait–Check Yes or No

Sammy Kershaw–She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful

Garth Brooks–That Summer

Lonestar–Front Porch Looking In

Tim McGraw–Where the Green Grass Grows

Alan Jackson–Gone Country

Dixie Chicks–Wide Open Spaces

Shania Twain–Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?

 

I have such distinct memories for these songs. Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” resurrects an image of my father mowing the bottom of the front lawn on a a summer day, his usual Saturday afternoon routine. Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That” played on the speakers in our family room every weekend–it was a sign that my family would take things easy, of t-ball and soccer games I’d watch my brother play, and a break from school.

I still don’t know the lyrics to Diamond Rio’s “Meet Me in the Middle.” I just liked the beat. It was fun, happy, and it sounded good when played in the car. People getting along! Yay!

A major problem with country music today (and music in general) is that the image of the artist is more important than their voice. That’s disappointing.

toby keith

Oh gosh. This wouldn’t fly today. But it didn’t matter then, because his songs were really great.

I look at the pictures of people I went to school with who went to college at very southern schools. They shed our school uniforms for another, less creative, more socially acceptable one. Country culture today requires girls wearing cut off jean shorts with fake cowboy boots because real ones are way too expensive and functional to dance in beer-soaked mud at frat parties and country music festivals at their schools. They curl their hair out to here and wear plaid, like plaid is really the only uniform of “country people.” The guys basically wear t-shirts and jeans with boots too, and a baseball cap turned backwards. Everyone looks the same. The. Same. I turned away from country music around 2004, when my best friend who previously made fun of the genre incessantly, preferring hip-hop and “Now 10,005” albums, enthusiastically began listening to our local country stations. She and all of her friends agreed it was great music to listen to at parties and sleepovers. That was when I knew country had migrated into the music that appealed to teenage girls because everyone else listened to it. So I stopped. Sugarland gave me headaches anyway.

Country music today lacks sophistication, cleverness, truth, relatableness, and nostalgia. Instead it encompassed everything I didn’t experience, agree with, believe in, or understand. Yeah, I can get that feeling of complete love and pride when I hear Lonestar’s “My Front Porch Looking In,” even though I’m not a father and I don’t have a red-headed child (or a house I own). No, I don’t want anything memorable to have started with a beer, thanks though, Frankie Ballard. I also don’t think it’s cool to key my ex’s car. And No! I don’t have long tanned legs and I don’t want to be a song to somebody! Don’t roll your windows down and cruise because of me! What does that even mean? It’s not relatable! Like 2% of the population may have popped out of the Georgia water with a bikini on and made a guy roll down his window. Ugh. I’d rather have wished somebody would have sent me a love note in elementary school with the directions “check yes or no” and not have it happened (lol, boys didn’t know who I was in third grade), than wishing to lie “nekked” in a bed with Luke Bryan (him saying that line gives me shivers, and not in a good way). And you know, my extreme un-impulsive nature growing up didn’t keep me from finding “Heads California, Tails Carolina” a thrilling idea (to maybe try in the far off future). I LIVED for the day when “She’s in Love with the Boy” would be applicable in my own life. Still hasn’t happened, but at least it was something I could think might happen! Country songs today don’t do that. My friends who have sworn off country feel that way because the songs they’ve heard are the songs today. It’s just a disappointment.

If you’re still unconvinced, listen to county artists active from the 1990s to now–I’d suggest Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley.

Maybe I’ve just grown old. Maybe the songs today don’t resonate with me because I didn’t hear them for the first time as a kid, who, for all intents and purposes, was still a relatively blank slate. Regardless, I’ll keep listening to the old country songs that resurrect some of the best days of my life.

 

Hello From the Other Side

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Hello readers,

It’s been 4 years since my last post. Originally, I began this site as a way to occupy by unemployed summer before studying abroad my junior year of college. I wasn’t unemployed by choice, and I was too restless to sit on the couch all summer. I won’t say I wasn’t surprised to see that people continued to access my site.

In the 4 years since my last post, a lot has happened. I graduated college with degrees in history and art history. I graduated from graduate school with a degree in historic preservation. I worked at some amazing organizations involved with historic preservation (with a stint at Yankee Candle where my love of candles may have turned into an alarming hoarding situation).

Now, I find myself in a similar corner as when I first began this blog. It is summer–and this summer is truly jarring for me. Four years ago I happily stayed within the confines of my parents’ air-conditioned house in Georgia where I began the habit of avoiding the sun however I can (and suffering the pale, pale result). Now, I sit in my carriage house apartment that faces east in the magical, wonderful, lovely city of Charleston, South Carolina. I have two AC-window units that are so pitiful it makes me sad thinking about them. My apartment is a constant 85 degrees once May comes around.

Though I am way more patient about the job search than I was four years ago, I have so much time on my hands now that I do not spend 14 hour days in studio writing my thesis on early American stables (available through ProQuest, should it strike your fancy). I do not like being restless, nor do I enjoy having this much time on my hands. There’s only so many hours you can spend writing and submitting job applications in a day, after all!

I am still as voracious a reader as always, and I am happy to say that I’ve branched out a bit in the types of work I am drawn to. Tomorrow, I will be taking my havanese to Blue Bicycle Books on King Street, where I hope to find many more books to line my shelves! They’ve always got a wonderfully curated selection of books ranging from coffee table books to children books to award-winning novels. I even found a book on the barns of the county in Georgia I’m from!

 

 

5 Year High School Reunion: 0 Attendees

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Last week my aunt attended her 20th high school reunion. She posted a photo on Facebook of her high school I.D. card, complete with blonde hair teased and hair-sprayed with at least one bottle. I was actually quite shocked at the difference between what she looked like then and now (she’s my aunt by marriage, not blood, so I haven’t known her my whole life).

The next week I hung out with one of my friends from high school. She was back from taking summer classes at school and had to leave for recruitment the next week. I started thinking about if we would attend our 5 year high school reunion, or eventually our 20th. When I was a young girl and I watched movies which featured high school reunions, I remember thinking how amazing and wonderful they were– you got to see who made it, who didn’t make it, who married others in their class, who divorced, whose career is better, and, of course, you get to have everyone see you. But back when students graduated in the 90’s, 80’s, and before, Facebook didn’t exist. When they had been graduated for 5 years, social media existed in the form of emails. To keep in contact with friends from high school you had to keep their phone numbers and their email addresses. My mother went to high school in London, even though she was born and now lives in the U.S. Do you think she has ever gone to one of her high school reunions? Never. Not once. My father went to school up north. Has he ever been to a high school reunion? Never. Not once. They both have Facebook (and we were in London one week before my mother’s high school reunion in 2010).

I find it somewhat worrying. It might be the traditionalist lover in me. But these days we drive cars that have web surfacing capabilities. You can have a chat with your phone (which I find quite creepy, and yes, a little pathetic). You can hop into the bathroom while on a date and quickly search the web to make sure he or she never went to jail. What would happen if you just asked the person, though? If you circled around the question for a little before jumping in tactfully? It could start a very interesting conversation on what could be a very nice date, instead of hiding in the bathroom and talking to your phone about it.

I don’t know if I’ll attend my 5 year high school reunion. I’m friends on Facebook with nearly all the members of my class (192), except a few I hardly knew and didn’t really care about and so I un-friended them (oops…). I can log on at any time and see what they’re up to: Oh, they went to the mountains this weekend! Hey, I forgot she was born on my parents’ anniversary date. Interesting. Why did she un-friend me?? We’ve known each other since pre-school! Anyone can look at your profile (if you’re friends) and figure out what you’re up to. And high school reunions used to serve that exact purpose. They hand our name tags in case people don’t recognize you. But now you can just pull up their profile picture.

I believe high school reunions are becoming obsolete. It makes me sad. Talking face to face is so much different than stalking their profile. We all know Facebook lies sometimes. We exaggerate, we put on a fake smile, we pretend to look happy sometimes. It makes me sad because I believe my high school and even college friends and I will slowly drift apart because we always think we have the lifeboat that is Facebook to hold on to. I can imagine that I’ll start to think to myself, “Kelly texted me that she’s going to Africa to do service work…I should ask her how that is. Well, I’ll look online and see if she posted any photos.” And then pretty soon I’ll delude myself into thinking that that’s a better way than calling my friend up and listening to her personal stories, the ones she didn’t post on Facebook or Twitter.

It saddens me, and although I think I can get over myself and call up a close friend instead of talking through Twitter, I’m afraid for the future. Again, this may be the traditionalist in me, but I don’t think I’m alone on this one. I’m sure you could come up with a billion different ways in which technology benefits us, but does it trump meeting with an old friend face to face?

Outlander: every girl loves a man in plaid

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

Last night I watched P.S. I Love You with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. I watched it around a year ago and couldn’t believe how much I cried over it. I really dislike crying during movies. Especially when you’re alone. With food. But I was in a mood all day and when I saw it was on TV, I had to turn it on. And then I cried again. Especially when it plays Flogging Molly’s “If I Ever Leave This World Alive.” The lyrics are so beautiful. But it and the movie reminded me of Jamie Fraser and Claire from the Outlander series from Diana Gabaldon (if you haven’t read it or know much about it, you might not want to read any further because I may give some things away from the series, and you really don’t want me to do that…)

There’s a beautiful quote Jamie tells Claire in one of the novels in which he says, “when the day shall come, that we do part, if my last words are not ‘I love you’-ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

What a beautiful sentiment! I mean, come on. How more romantic could a person possibly get? And Jamie Fraser is also a Highlander, speaking in a Scottish brogue, while wearing various plaid clothing items. And strong hands. And an unrivaled heart. So, yeah, when I read that quote, I had to go write it down (I keep a journal of my favorite novel quotes) so I’d always remember it. And when I watched P.S. I Love You  tonight it made me think of him and the story.

So. Outlander. Who’s read it? Who hasn’t? (crazies.) Well, basically, if you need a refresher, Outlander concerns a Brit named Claire Randall who, during the 1940s, goes back in time to Scotland in the 1700s (I’m really not giving anything away, it says it on the back cover). I’m currently on An Echo in the Bone, and a part of me is slowly dying inside because I know as much as us Outlander fans want her to, Gabaldon cannot write the series forever. I mean, Claire and Jamie will have to die. Gabaldon will die, eventually (sorry, did I just get too morbid?). Trust me, I would love it if Jamie could suddenly become immortal and revert to his tweny-five year old self. But that won’t happen, and I have to face it. (WHY do some authors make us fall in love with their characters?? I know that makes them really good authors, but WHY? I want the Outlander series to live forever! Such is the life of a bookworm. Sad face.)

For the people who have read the series and loved it too, why do you think Jamie is such a likable character? Romance stories can be found anywhere, some bad and some good. But there’s something about Claire and Jamie’s that makes me pause every once in a while and think about how lucky and special they really are. The whole time travel aspect may have something to do with it. But only a little, I think! I know I’ve thought several times that if I could meet a real life Jamie (he doesn’t have to be a Highlander, I could survive if he was just a plain ole American….maybe…) I mustn’t let him get away. I think that the two of them are so perfect together, and their love really does transcend centuries. If Austen wrote in the 21st century, I wonder if Elizabeth and Darcy’s love would hold a flame to Claire and Jamie’s (and trust me, I’ve thought of this many times before, and how I’m practically betraying my favorite author in the whole world…I still love you Austen! I promise!)

Gabaldon writes scenes in which I am absolutely blown away at the emotion displayed in the scenes. Her scenes are so gritty at some times, and truly touching in others. They make her stories realistic. She is such a truly, truly talented author. Do I get a second? My mother’s had the good fortune to meet her several times and is always completely awed by her presence (I think it’s a little funny how there’s a hierarchy in the writer world). Honestly, if Gabaldon came out and professed that she knows so much about 18th century Scotland and such because she actually time traveled….I’d believe it. Seriously. Her writing is so descriptive, her images so colorful, that each book blows me away.

Isn’t it amazing how much a reader can feel for a fictional character? Such a cruel fate.

And, look, I’ll be honest. I’ve never been in love. And I don’t plan on being so in the near future. But I do know that if love ever tries to find me, I’ve got raised expectations from this series!

I’ve collected just a few of my favorite Outlander quotes (they’re from all of the series, not just the first book. And I cannot find them all because my journal is still packed away in all of my college belongings, and I know it would be fruitless to search for it now…I’ll probably find it when I’ve returned to my school in January, after the semester in St Andrews.)

“Blood of my blood,” he whispered, “and bone of my bone. You carry me within ye, Claire, and ye canna leave me now, no matter what happens. You are mine, always, if ye will it or no, if ye want me or nay. Mine, and I wilna let ye go.”

“Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you’re mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.”

“Ye werena the first lass I kissed. But I swear you’ll be the last.”

“You’re tearin’ my guts out, Claire.”

“I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower’s stem.”

“Oh, Claire, ye do break my heart wi’ loving you.”

“Scots have long memories, and they’re not the most forgiving of people.”

“Hodie mihi cras tibi, said the inscription. Sic transit gloria mundi. My turn today, yours tomorrow. And thus passes away the glory of the world.”

 

Word of the Day: Soul— The spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part. The spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, auras believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul. The disembodied spirit of a deceased person. The emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments. A human being; person. (source: Dictionary.com)

Oh, look! That computer just flew out of that window!

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

How many of us have had computer issues? Everybody. It’s a necessary part of life, just like getting one’s driver’s license or getting a haircut. It happens often.

For me, however, it happens a bit more.

I honestly believe I was born in the wrong decade. The wrong century, really. I have NEVER been able to understand the inner workings of computers. what exactly is an IMAP? what is a RAM processor thingy? I couldn’t tell you.

I took computer classes all throughout school. The funniest part of this whole messy hate-hate relationship between computers and me is that in 8th grade I won the Computer Science Award. I had to walk up in front of the entire school (Pre-k through high school) to receive a metal award attached to a  red, white, and blue ribbon, with a pained smile on my face while my friends snickered and my mother didn’t bother smothering her surprised laugh. Yes, everybody was laughing because it was quite comical. Me, winning an award about computers? That was crazy talk. To clarify, they gave it to me because I had the fastest typing skills in the 8th grade. I believe my score was 56 words in a minute (is that fast?). But regardless, I hardly saw how that qualified me for the Computer Award. A father of a boy in my grade (who really should have won it) even said something along those lines after the ceremony (rude, right?)

So, as you see, it’s been quite obvious to myself and people around me that I”m the Kiss of Death when it comes to computers.

When I left for college my father bought me my first laptop (which I still have, but might not any longer….). It has a yellow and white polka dot cover and weighs a ton (I liked the size of the screen and didn’t understand how complicated it would be to lug my heavy laptop all over campus).

Enter my father. Probably the most adept computer person I have ever seen (and that includes my computer teachers in school). I think he majored in Econ or something in college, so I don’t know where he learned all of that, but nonetheless, he knows exactly everything there is to know about computers.  He ordered it, he installed all of that stuff that goes onto computers (it came on a CD disk?), installed a backup system and all that anti virus stuff (which I still don’t understand because I thought a lot of viruses pose as anti-viruses, so how do I know it’s a real one when it asks me to update the software? Sheesh), among other things. Do you want to know what I did? I put a pretty background picture of a Christmas window front display of Anthropologie and coordinated colors with the sidebar (you can do that, you know. Isn’t that cool?).

The first day my parents dropped me off at campus, I had a minor heart attack. It was not because of homesickness. It was because my father could no longer be ten feet away from me when (not if, when) I had a computer problem. Sure enough, later that night I couldn’t connect to my school’s Wi-Fi and called my father frantically (sadly, he thought I was calling because I was missing them already. It made me feel kind of guilty. I’m such a bad daughter).

And now this year. My ethernet thingy on the side of my laptop broke (a piece of it came off or something), so at school I couldn’t log onto the internet after 9 pm (got my homework done early at least!) When I took it into the school’s tech center, they said I would have to send it out for two weeks. Uhhhhhhhh, let me think about that….NO! It was the week before finals! I’m a history and English major with minors in Art History and classical studies. Do you even know the amount of essays I have to write? It’s ridiculous. (But I secretly love it.) So I angrily took my laptop and left, secretly wishing it may fall out of my car on the train tracks and get run over (one can dream).

I sent in my computer (after my dad called Dell, of course) 3 days before the warranty was out so they could replace my motherboard (what the heck is that, exactly? It almost sounds like a curse word…) which would have cost 400 dollars if my laptop wasn’t covered. When they sent it back, EVERYTHING WAS SO WRONG WITH MY LAPTOP. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of software problems my computer had.

My dad has been on the phone with dell for over 4 hours in the past two days, and they are planning on calling again today or tomorrow to make sure the box they sent came in, so I can then send my computer back to them. (note: the laptop was fine when I sent it in. It was PSYCHO COMPUTER when I got it back. Seriously. They could create a horror movie starring my laptop.)

So basically my hardrive will be wiped out, all of my files have been saved to CDs and Dropbox (which I still have no idea what that is or how it works), but I will still lose all of my personal computer setting and possibly iTunes. Yayyyy….. And the might fix it. Might. They can’t be certain.

Why are computers so complicated? If everybody owns or uses one nearly every day, shouldn’t it be so easy that any moron could resolve any issues? I mean, it’s seriously putting a damper on my life plans. How am I supposed to live a single life alone if I can’t fix my computer or understand the accents from the tech guys? That scares me more than living alone where my house could be burglarized and I could be kidnapped and then tortured and then who knows what else?

I really want to throw my laptop out the window. It’s a common phrase in my family (uttered by both mother and daughter more than son and father). But I REALLY really want to throw it out my window. I can hear the satisfying crunchy thud it would make when it landed. I bet it wouldn’t come apart at first. But when I throw a hammer down after it it might.

Sigh. I don’t think my father would be very pleased if I did that. Especially since I don’t have the funds to replace it.

Sheesh. What will happen when I go to Scotland? If my laptop dies and I have to buy a new one, it won’t have the $ sign on the keyboard! Eek!

Disappointment: Eating Me on A Friday Night

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm

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Geez. My last post got a very disappointing number of views. 0. I don’t like to be so easily persuaded, but it seems like my blog is failing a bit. I’m not quite sure why though. Are book reviews not in vogue for WordPress? Perhaps. And I know there are only so many books I can read with so many types of genres, but even I was worried before I created my blog that it would be boring, a waste of words. I was actually weirdly excited about my last post because I thought it was a great perspective not many people think about. It was either so good that people couldn’t possibly fathom it/bother to read it or it was just a huge flop. I’m favoring the latter.

I don’t want my blog to be a collection of my thoughts. They’re not that interesting. I keep a journal for my thoughts, and people will never read them (because I won’t let them). So. What should I do about my blog? Leave it be? I can never do that. I am not one to quit. I may feel like it most of my life–that’s just the personality I was born with– but I was also born with the personality that perseveres, that forces me to finish everything I start. So I guess I won’t trash this blog. If anything, it will be a trial run for my hopefully more interesting blog about my life at St Andrews University in the fall.

Maybe I should shift the point of my blog: keep it semi-focused on books and the written word. Maybe a couple posts on special phrases and thoughts from books I’ve read along the way? A history lesson on a topic that was in a book I read a dozen years ago? I’m no expert (although I’m trying– it’s a history major’s life goal) but I have tons of educational books I’ve picked up along the way (nerd status). Maybe I should add more pictures. I just haven’t seemed to master HOW to perfect adding photos– good photos, at that.

I really didn’t want to think that people won’t care about my reading tastes. That’s maybe why I started out with Nancy Drew. And sure enough, the most views I’ve ever received was Pt 3 of my ND series. I got less for Julia Quinn, and I suppose that’s understandable, since she’s a very specific writer with a very specific genre that not everyone’s into. I get that. But what am I supposed to write about if I’m trying to cater to everyone’s interests? I received no notifications today. Not one. And that disappoints me. I thought that by writing this blog I would feel a sense of purpose in my otherwise excruciating, grueling summer in which I am jealous toward everyone with a paying job. Jealousy motivated this blog. I won’t lie. I thought– maybe I can do this, and place it on my resume, and have it be respectable and professional, worthy of the Smithsonian (where I wish to intern next summer and eventually work permanently).

Don’t give up on me yet.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. MLK Jr

Elizabeth Bennet and Lisbeth Salander Walk into a Room: What Happens Next?

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Currently I have not finished the book I’ve been reading for a few days. It’s terrible. The book and how long it’s taken me to read it. The book, if you must know, is Derby Day by D.J. Taylor. It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, so naturally I believed it would be an enjoyable read. It’s not. I detest reading books where every character is immensely unlikeable, and I really dislike essentially every character. I am an avid horseback rider and even compete with my university team, but seriously, this book is NOT about Derby Day. I’m halfway through and it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m pretty sure the actual event doesn’t occur until nearly the end. So, I suppose that instead of not posting for a few days (because I promise, even if I don’t like the book, I’ll do SOMETHING with it), I’ll talk about something else having to do with reading, and a topic I would love to talk about.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if a character in one book met a character from another book? Am I the only one? (please say no.)

Here’s a list of characters meeting characters from other novels that I’ve come up with:

  • Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind) and Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina)
  • Claire Abshire (The Time Traveler’s Wife) and Claire Randall Fraser (Outlander)
  • Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) and Emma Woodhouse (Emma)
  • Dexter Mayhew (One Day) and Robbie Turner (Atonement)
  • Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre) and Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights)
  • Noah Calhoun (The Notebook) and Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility)
  • Cecelia Tallis (Atonement) and Tess Durberville (Tess of the D’Urbervilles)

What do you think? Should I add any other characters you think would have an interesting dynamic?

I’ll explain why I chose each pairing. (some of them can only be written if I give away key aspects of the books, so just watch out when I alert you to **spoiler alerts**)

1- Elizabeth Bennet and Lisbeth Salander- First of all, P and P is my most absolute favorite novel of all time. Dragon Tattoo is not. In fact, I hated it. Strongly.  I felt like I had to go cleanse myself after reading it. I just felt dirty and gross, and I really really needed to get out of Lisbeth’s head. That girl has some serious issues going on! For those who have read it, the scene where she enacts her revenge that stemmed from that thing that happened (you all know what I’m talking about…maybe) scarred me. Ew. So, if Lizzy met Lisbeth, I think she’d dislike her. That’s not just because I dislike her. I believe that although Elizabeth certainly tried to wash away common societal norms (like marrying within one’s class), I don’t think she’d appreciate Lisbeth’s surly, depressive, and unhappy attitude. Elizabeth would probably try to encourage Lisbeth to act with a more sunny disposition and to open up more, but eventually she’d back off because she would realize it was hopeless and that it really wasn’t her place to begin with. Lisbeth, on the other hand, would be bored by Elizabeth, although she may admire Elizabeth’s tenacity and strong character.

2-Scarlett O’Hara and Anna Karenina (**spoiler alert…don’t read this if you don’t want the ending of Anna Karenina to be revealed yet)**- personally, I think this is the most dynamic duo of the bunch. For those who have read both novels, these two women are full of drama. They thrive on it. If the two of them were in a room together, the electricity between the two would be quite forceful. This is how I believe it would first play out: Scarlett would size Anna up, and vice versa. Each would think their lives are better than the other. Then, Anna meets Vronsky and begins the affair. If Scarlett knew, first she would envy Anna. One, because S would believe that A is blissfully happy, and that that happiness would last forever. S would envy A’s ability to grab and successfully obtain what she wants. Secretly, S would loathe herself for not doing with Ashleigh what A’s doing with Vronsky (although Scarlett wouldn’t yet realize it’s because her moral compass is more align than Anna’s is, and S loves Melanie too much to break up a marriage). Scarlett would begin plotting how she could do the same, and if she would be as happy as Anna. Eventually, Anna’s happiness lessens. She becomes paranoid, clingy, and desperate. Scarlett begins to feel supercilious. Then, as Anna’s downfall spirals even further and she’s shunned from society while Vronsky can still do whatever he wants, Scarlett will begin to feel that she did the right thing in not forcing herself on Ashleigh to the point where they’d commit adultery. She’ll feel especially thankful when Melanie dies, because she never desecrated her only friend. Anna’s suicide would convince S that S did the right thing, and that she is stronger, has more character, and better moral judgement than A ever had.

3- Claire Abshire and Claire Randall Fraser- For those not familiar with these people (shame on you! just teasing. But really. Life altering novels.): Claire 1 deals with a husband who time travels with hardly any warning. Claire 2 herself is a time traveler, although she can’t do it as often as Claire 1’s husband or she’d kill herself. I believe pairing a non time traveler with a time traveler who are both familiar with each side would be interesting, especially since they’re both from “modern times” (both from the 20th century, early and late), but one lives in the past. Each faces her own battles dealing with time travel. Claire 1 feels frustrated that her husband always leaves her, even at the most inopportune times, and she never knows where he is until he comes back (one of my favorite lines from the book- “I won’t ever leave you, even though you’re always leaving me“. Tear jerker). Claire 2, on the other hand, has to deal with knowing too much information. And although her husband (Jamie Fraser…yum) respects and supports her, she realizes that he can feel frustrated sometimes with his “lack” of knowledge, which makes him feel inferior (and you  really don’t want to make an 18th century male Scottish highlander feel inferior). Both Claires can bond over the fact that their lives are inexplicably different from everyone else’s. Claire 1 can take comfort in knowing that if Claire 2 can live in the past she wasn’t born into and survive, then Claire 1’s husband could be okay wherever he travels to, even if he’s alone.

4- Hermione Granger and Emma Woodhouse- I’m really quite sure everyone is familiar with Harry Potter, even if you haven’t read them. Emma is a pretty straightforward novel, so I don’t feel the need to put spoiler alert on here. I chose the two of them  because I believe they’re very similar. Emma, for example, likes to get in everybody’s business through match-making. She does a rather horrible job of it, but she won’t let anyone tell her differently. She’s a bit stubborn. If she and Hermione paired off, they’d do great together until they disagree on something, and then their stubborn attitudes would bring about their downfall unless they listen to the people around them. Can you imagine? Emma would think Mr So and So should definitely marry Miss So and So, but Hermione would then say that Mr So and So should most certainly NOT marry Miss So and So because SHE is a horrid toad (or something to that effect). Hermione and Emma would be charming together, when one looks past their stubborn personalities. Emma would most likely end up setting her up with Harry (and we all know that wouldn’t be a good idea).

5- Dexter Mayhew and Robbie Turner (**spoiler alert** for both of the endings)- I absolutely adore both of these tragic love stories. ADORE. I would go for Robbie over Dex, but they both have a certain quality to them– a bit mysterious, a bit brooding, self-confident– that I’m quite attracted to. I can’t quite figure out, though, whose story is most tragic (from birth till death). What do you think? Dexter spends most of his life aimlessly living life, not accomplishing anything and disappointing nearly everyone closest to him. He wastes too much time not realizing his perfect girl has been there the entire time, and when he finally does, she dies. Tragically. They have very few perfect years together. Perhaps they would have had more if Dex hadn’t been so oblivious and hadn’t changed so much. Robbie, though, has a hard life from the begining, although it’s not as depressingly self indulgent as Dex’s. Robbie has a generally good job working at the Tallis’s home. He pines for the daughter of the house (Cecelia) and finally has one night of passion. But is one night enough? Would it have been better if he never knew what could be and lived contentedly, or was it better that he knew even if it lasted only once, and he could never, ever, repeat it. I think it may almost have been worse for Robbie than Dex (romantically) because Robbie was ripped from his true love. He knew she was The One, but he was cruelly barred from ever seeing her. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s thrown into a war where he can never advance because he’s a convict, and where he dies mere days before being rescued. He never learned what became of Cecelia. He never knew the perfect ending Cecelia’s sister created for them through words only. Perhaps one consolation with Robbie’s luck is that soon Cecelia dies, so they meet up in the afterlife sooner than Dex and Emma can. Poor Dex has to deal with his demons for years before finally coming to terms with Emma’s death, and finally, finally dying at however old he makes it to be. So, I suppose they both face really bad luck. They also have really good chances with fate, but both have been touched by Death. But beautiful nonetheless. I think they’d hit it off if they ever met, before or after their tragedies. Their personalities would balance each other out, don’t you think?

6- Jane Eyre and Catherine Earnshaw– again, I feel like most people are familiar with their stories, so I’m not putting spoiler alert. Jane Eyre is a great deal less crazy than Catherine. Poor Catherine was driven crazy by the harsh landscape of northern England, lack of neighbors and company, and even more lack of suitable people to fall in love with. Although Jane’s life is certainly touched by sadness, she encounters shelter in Thornfield Hall, if spurned only by the crazy woman living upstairs who’s life vendetta is to kill everyone. But really, if Jane met Catherine, she’d probably face her just as she faced Bertha. Although she handle it better, by not running away. In fact, Jane might offer some solace to Catherine and help her through C’s difficult life. I’m not sure if Catherine would come out differently knowing Jane. She’d still die, I suppose. But would she die happier? More content? I don’t think so. I do, however, think Jane would come out stronger meeting Catherine– and who knows, perhaps if she met Catherine before attending Thornfield Hall, she’d face Bertha and kill her herself!

7- Noah Calhoun and Marianne Dashwood– you all better be familiar with The Notebook! I must say, I hated the written story. I absolutely adore the movie, but the book was simply awful. But the character remained the same with both book and film so I think it’s still okay to write about him. I put these two characters together because they’re both such romantic people who are very in touch with their emotions. They may not suit each other romantically, but I do think they’d admire each other. For one, Marianne appreciates a person who can express himself, who doesn’t keep things bottled up inside. She’d most likely become infatuated with him, adoring his love of Whitman and his shyness at his early stutter. A move like restoring an entire house simply for the one he loves would likely send Marianne to her knees. And while she’d eventually realize they were unsuitable, she would most likely be looking for someone to fill Noah’s heart; say, a girl named Allie, perhaps? Noah might actually think Marianne silly sometimes, but maybe only because of her young age. He, though, would appreciate Marianne’s decision to deal with thins outright and her willingness to throw everything away for one man.

8- Cecelia Tallis and Tess Durberville– (**spoiler alert for Tess**) Tess of the D’Urbervilles had me crying so much, especially the end. So did Atonement. Both of these girls face extreme loss in their lives. I think we can all agree, though, that Tess had it much, much harder. Cecelia led a charmed life, at least up until WWII, but Tess was born into a poor family in the English countryside with a drunk father who can’t make money. Tess tries so very hard to improve her life and eventually finds love, even if it doesn’t last. Both girls, however, shared some form of true happiness in their lives. And even if their romance lasted of only a night or so, they still had it. Both lives end tragically, but was it a blessing? Could they have continued to live? Cecelia faced the tragic loss of Robbie, but Tess just had so much loss and sadness bottled up in her life; would Angel had been able to truly make her happy forever? If these two women were placed in a room with each other, the sadness would be suffocating.

First Official Post- A Collection of Thoughts

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hello WordPress.

I suppose I should start off by letting people know that I am terribly technologically challenged. A good friend of mine suggested I start a blog for my upcoming travels in Scotland, and I immediately shied away from her (terrible) suggestion (I had thought at the time). Me? Write a blog? For one, only I could break my computer, send it in to get a new motherboard (3 days before its warranty (whatever that really means) ran out…), and then get it back even worse than when I had sent it in (shocker).

I must apologize, for I believe this post will be a lengthy one. I promise not to repeat it unless absolutely necessary. I don’t know if blog etiquette exists (I assume it does), and I don’t know how to properly write  a blog that will capture people’s attentions. But I suppose the best way to write this post would be to explain what the upcoming blog will entail.

Firstly, I am bored. Not like, “I finished a book and am temporarily unable to find something to do,” or “I have 30 minutes to spare before going out to dinner.” As in bored, I mean “I have been out of school since May 14th and have been refused every summer job opportunity I applied to (not that there were many places to apply to in my town…meh), and am in danger of sinking into an unmistakeable pit of despair, self-pity, and jealousy at every other Facebook friend’s glorious summers.” So, in order to combat that, I decided to take up my friend’s suggestion at a blog and try. Now, you may be thinking why wouldn’t you just sit around and find something that uses less technology and is something you are familiar with? You echo my thoughts exactly. The truth is, I cannot simply sit around. I go to the gym for 2 hours 5-6 days a week (not that it’s not doing anything), and I’ve read no less than 36 (that was thirty-six, in case you thought I was joking the first time) books since May 15th. I am clearly bored. I do have friends, I assure you, it’s just that they’re spending their summers taking summer classes out of state or enjoying fabulous internships guaranteed to get them somewhere fabulous in New York or somewhere else fabulous like that (fabulous, I must include, becuase that is EXACTLY how I view their summers. They have no opportunity to disagree.)

So, what will this blog entail? Since I decided to take my friend’s suggestion seriously this morning, I have been thinking the same thing all day today. Clearly, I possess a voracious reading appetite. In addition, I love history. So much so that if anybody says anything hurtful about it I can literally feel my heart grow heavy and tears prick at the back of my eyes (not that I would EVER let them fall). I think, as a history/English double major, these topics can be easily applied to my blog. Therefore, this is what my blog will consist of- book reviews of the novels I read this summer, accompanied by a fact or two about history (hopefully relating to the book I’m reading), accompanied with a Word of the Day (I’ve always wanted to do that). I apologize if that seems like it’s an odd, disjumbled sort of blog. I am bored, if you haven’t already realized. This blog is supposed to be temporary, as well. It should end at the beginning of September, when I go to Scotland to study for the semester (yay me!). Then, if I’m good at blogging after 3 months, and maybe a few people have read and commented on my posts, then perhaps I will take up my friend’s suggestion and keep a blog to update my friends and kilt-lovers how my life is going at St Andrews University.

 

Ok, now I have to figure out how to post this…. (I can hear my imaginary readers laughing at this. I told you, I really don’t understand technology! I was REALLY born in a different century. Like, earlier than the 20th century, in which I was “technically” born).