Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good morning

An early morning writing session calls for hot tea! I'll be back with more posts once I get some time to settle and write for myself a bit more. Happy Hump Day! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Update from Boston

We made it here Saturday afternoon after only a short struggle of trying to fit everything and everyone into the car. We then only had to make two trips from the car up to the apartment with all of our baggage. A little background info: my mom owns some properties in Boston that she rents out. The apartment we're staying in is one of hers that she leaves open and furnished so that friends, family, and herself, of course, have a little place to stay when visiting Boston. My family loves this area and we have some strong ties here—I was born in a town 20 minutes north of Boston! We did some reorganizing and cleaning out to make a littler more space for AJ and me and then grabbed a some quick take out from a cafe up the street (we ordered one sandwich, and when we got back home we found that they had given us two!). 

After a 20 minute nap, AJ and I headed to the North End for 5 o' clock mass and on the way home we stopped at Upper Crust on Charles Street to grab some pizza for us and my mom. Pizza, wine, and Dateline was our Saturday night. 

Yesterday, AJ and I made the trek to the South End where he'll be working the few weeks we're here. We took the T and then walked but the T to the bus would've been faster. Still, I don't know the South End well at all so it was fun to explore a new area! 

Some cousins are staying with us this week for their own vacation, but by the weekend it will be back to unpacking and finding room for all of our things! Stay posted for more fun from Boston and have a happy Monday!

Friday, March 21, 2014

A New Adventure

It was well over a year ago that AJ took the above photo of the Boston skyline. We stood on the roof of The Lincolnshire apartment building, nestled at the flat of Beacon Hill between Charles and River Streets. It was a few days after Christmas 2012. It was freezing, the wind was blowing, and the mugs of hot tea that we clutched did little to warm us. But we were warmed, excuse the sappiness that is coming, by our thoughts of our future together.

“Do you want to live here someday?” I asked, tentative of his answer and my own.
“Yeah. That’d be really fun,” he answered, or something along those lines.

I pictured us in a cozy apartment. Me, attending grad school for creative writing and working on the side. Him, working as a PTA and maybe taking classes on the side. I pictured long walks down the cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill in the Fall and walks along the Charles River in the Spring. Going to mass on Saturday nights at St. Leonard’s, followed by dinner in the North End and, once in a while, a Florentine cannoli with a cappuccino at Mike’s. My imaginings, while romantic and idealized, have always remained probable in my mind. Living in Boston with AJ has been a part of my daydreams for years now. I never knew for certain if it would happen, but I always hoped that one day we would do it. Little did I know, AJ had been making actual effort to make sure it happened.

A few months ago, maybe in October, AJ called me as I was pulling into work and told me that he had gotten his third internship placement for the year at an out patient facility in Boston. He’d been working with his professor all along to secure this internship, hoping to surprise me. And surprised I was! The timing was perfect;  his internship would start in the end of March and I had just found out that I would graduate in January leaving my Spring semester open and my final day at my internship was forecasted to be March 20th, days before AJ’s new one would begin.

After a few conflicts, a cancellation, an engagement, a new contract, and a final signature we are moving to Boston tomorrow. My daydreams have come true and our conversation on the roof that night has been fulfilled. AJ’s internship will last 6-7 weeks, after which time we will come back to Connecticut with the intention of returning to Boston in the Fall…pending grad school acceptances or rejections. I am hoping to write, a lot, while we’re there. I am hoping to soak in as much Boston greatness as possible, too! I feel so fortunate that we have been given this opportunity. This is something that we talked about together and thought about independently. The fact that we are able to do this says leaps and bounds about what people can achieve when they really want something and really try hard to make it happen. I am beyond excited to have this little adventure with the man I love and I am very excited to continue to blog from Boston! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I don't want to complain. Five months ago, I was lucky enough to land a paid internship 25 minutes from where I live. It was in the industry that I was looking into, part time so I could still take classes and write, and it was a small office with only three other ladies so it seemed like a good transition into the real world.

I've been happy off and on with my job. Some days I get to do really exciting things that use my creativity and abilities, other days I stare at the slow moving screen of the computer doing monotonous work that only requires I know how to copy and paste. Those days stink. Not to mention I HATE sitting in a chair without moving for hours on end. Recently, though, I've realized that it's not so much the work I'm disliking, it's the limitation of my position that are frustrating. As an intern, I do random tasks that my managers need assistance with or flat out don't want to do. There are other times that they don't have any work for me, so they give me an invented task that doesn't have a real purpose or necessity. Because I'm an intern, I don't get to feel completely invested in the tasks I perform because I'm only doing a small part of something. I don't get to follow through and I don't get the satisfaction of completing a project from start to finish because I'm only a small piece of the process. I don't like finishing an assignment only to sit at my desk and ask, "Does anyone need me to do anything?" I want to be able to jump into things! I want to have a long list of things that need to be done because I'm the only one who's job it is to do!

I am so thankful for the knowledge that this internship has granted me. I'm not positive this is an industry I would like to remain with but I learned a lot of research and office skills that can be used elsewhere. I learned a lot of things that I would never have learned otherwise. This was a necessary step in my life and my career but I am very eager to move up and forward to an advanced position that I can throw myself into.

Today was my last full day and I'm working too more half days this week before my hours as an intern are up. The five months have gone by fast but slowly at the same time. I'm excited to have some time off before I am able to start job searching again!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Journal Prompt #1

In a post about journaling from last week, I promised to post a journal prompt to guide those hoping to get started or get inspired for their personal writings. I think that Sundays are a great day for writing. It's a calm day, for most, and it's a day where you can carve out a chunk of time dedicated to yourself. This is a perfect time to write, to get out the thoughts and feelings that have been cluttering your brain all week. Then you will be able to start afresh on Monday with a clear mind and the satisfaction that writing gives. 

For Journal Prompt #1, I want you to do just that. Reflect on the past week. What was your favorite moment of the week and why? How were you feeling in that moment? Was there a particularly difficult obstacle or conflict that you endured? Was there anything that you had been worried about, but it turned out you didn't really need to be so stressed? Happens to me all the time! Finally, was there a time this week that you were able to slow down and take in the small joys of life: the nice weather, a good book, a moment with loved ones? Write about these moments and reflect on how they affect your life! If you're comfortable with sharing, leave a comment! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shakespeare Saturdays: L'estatua di Giulietta

Photo by Flickr user SteFou!

This statue of Shakespeare's famed Juliet has stood in the courtyard of Juliet's House in Verona, Italy since the 70's. I first read about her in the book, Letters to Juliet, which inspired the movie of the same name starring Amanda Seyfried. But this Juliet is getting a new home.  
The statue's breast is often touched by tourists which has caused damage over the years. 
My sister's good friend, Sarah Scheffer, recently wrote an article on this statue for PBS. She discusses how the statue's breast is often touched by tourists which has caused damage over the years. In order to preserve it, the statue has been moved to a museum where it can be restored and protected from wandering hands. 
I love the idea that tourists, love-seekers, and hopeless romantics can visit the supposed House of Juliet. You can leave her notes, stand at her balcony, and view her supposed tomb. You can even mail her letters if you can't catch a flight to Italy! (You can mail letters to this address: Club di Giulietta via Galilei 3 - 37133 Verona ITALY).  It's all very romantic and I would LOVE to go to Verona one day, and maybe even leave a letter for the eternal and loving Juliet. 

Shakespeare's immortalized character is one of the most famous names in literature and emotions of love, sadness, and bravery are conjured upon hearing her name. It is only fitting that she be remembered with a statue and a courtyard for many to honor her. 

You can read more about Juliet's statue here!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wedding Stress and Should There Be Such a Thing?

Thankfully, my wedding planning has been pretty stress-free so far. This is largely in part to my Mom, who is the most amazing and helpful woman on this planet. She kindly, but not in a controlling way, took the reigns a few weeks after we got engaged and began looking for a venue, photographer, and florist—all the basics. She didn’t pick anything, but she wanted to give me options and guide me towards what needed to be planned and when. I honestly could not plan our wedding without her! I’d end up at the end of the aisle in a nightgown with fake flowers and no bridesmaids. Again, THANKFULLY, I have her. The other day, when our Save The Dates arrived, she addressed them ALL. I had barely even realized they got here!

Another reason that there has been little stress is that neither AJ nor myself view our wedding as MINE or HIS. It’s OURS. We both want the other to be happy with all aspects of the planning. If he feels strongly about something, I go with it. It goes both ways. This has made it much easier when making decisions.
I did have my first little bout of wedding related stress, regarding the amount of guests we can have. It was NOT fun but thankfully it did not last too long. I was thinking and stressing for most of the workday yesterday and as I sat at my desk, I realized how many different movie scenes in romantic comedies depict a similar scene. And that made me come to an epiphany: How can I be upset about something like this? I’m planning a wedding in which I will marry the love of my life and I’m going to let this little, tiny detail get me upset for even one minute of this fun, exciting, and short experience of being engaged? I don’t think so. So I stopped worrying. Every time a negative thought came into my head, making my heart rate rise, I reminded myself how petty I was being. Here I am, lucky enough to have found my soul mate and to be marrying him, and I am moping.

So from here on out, no more stress! Weddings are happy and amazing and should only be surrounded with happiness. Regardless of who’s there, what kind of flowers we have, and what music plays, in a few short months AJ and I will be getting married. The details are just details, they do not determine the fact that we will be joined together forever. In 50 years, we’ll remember our I do’s and the butterflies in our stomachs we had that day, but we won’t remember the details. I don’t want to waste a minute of this experience on frivolous worries. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Currently Reading: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Whenever I write about a book I’m reading, I always feel a few steps behind the rest of the game. I’m always writing about books that were published and had their heyday long before I got to them. But, I suppose, a truly good book never becomes irrelevant and therefore can be read and praised at anytime. I think Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, Special Topics In Calamity Physics, fits into this category. Published in 2006, Pessl got an insane—I mean INSANE—advance for her first novel, to the tune of $615,000 according to the New York Times magazine a few weeks ago. I do not know how that happens! How can someone get such a big advance on their first book? I know Donna Tartt did it too, as did Chad Harbach and Karen Thompson Walker but still! How does a publisher get that invested in someone with no sales data? And how do you get an agent good enough to negotiate such a high price? Seriously, if you know, tell me! These questions are not rhetorical.

Anyway, Pessl had a good agent who had 20/20 vision into the future sales of this book. It was a bestseller and paved the way for Pessl’s sophomore novel, Night Film, which came out at the end of last year—it’s not surprise I haven’t made my way to that one yet but it’s on my list! 

I picked up Calamity Physics at the bookstore the day after Christmas. I was eager to read a novel by a writer who has a career that I aspire to achieve. Pessl published her first book young, was very successful with its publication, and then got started on her second novel with an inspiring amount of creativity. Her career thus far seems to be ideal and I feel that reading books by writers who you hope to one day be like is a great way to start towards that achievement and a great way to improve your own writing.

The front and back cover of this novel will entice any bookworm or lit nerd. A book that promises “A sudden drowning, a series of inexplicable events,” and a narrator as witty and unassumingly brilliant as they come sells itself, as far as I’m concerned. Open to the table of contents, and you’ll be pulled in even more. This book is structured around “Required Readings.” Each chapter is titled after a great literary work. The abundance of references to literature and academia will have you wishing you were as smart as Blue van Meer, our narrator.

I’m almost halfway through this novel and I am definitely reading at a slower pace than usual in order to preserve these brilliant words for as long as possible (and my To Read list is getting longer each day!) because it is that good. Pessl is a skilled wordsmith. She writes in a style, filled with information, that many readers could get bogged down under, but her diction is so light that you can imagine her writing this with a pencil hovering gently over clean paper, rather than with her hands typing quickly across a keyboard.

Pessl easily builds the drama and mystery behind each character, all of them having distinct personalities that round out this eccentric group of students and their scandalous teacher. This book pulls you in so quickly that you don’t notice you’ve read over 100 pages in a single sitting. That being said, there are long stretches in which little of significance seems to happen. We are let in on the fact that Hannah, a significant character, dies at the beginning of the novel and the rest of the novel will seemingly explain the events surrounding her death (and this isn’t the only similarity between Calamity Physics and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History). At the halfway point, I’m ansy to know about her death—it’s taking too long to get there! But that’s not necessarily a criticism, any writer would want to build enough interest and investment that makes a reader scramble for more information.

When you read Special Topics in Calamity Physics, you will undoubtedly feel as if you are in the presence of true brilliance, not only that of Blue but also that of Marisha Pessl. She writes as a writer should. It is effortless for her and therefore makes the task of reading effortless and pleasurable. She is the definition of a writer and should be considered one of the best of our times. She stands out and has carved her place next to the likes of the writers of classics. 

I'll write another post about this once I finish the book in its entirety! Have you read either of Pessl's novel? What do you think about her writing style?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Shakespeare Saturdays: Sonnet 130

I have had a very long love affair with all things Shakespeare. I have a bookshelf dedicated to his works and works about his works. If a lit class at school promised we’d read one of his plays, I signed up. It is a goal of mine to see a production of his (ideally Romeo & Juliet or The Taming of the Shrew or Macbeth or Hamlet or anything really) at the Globe Theater.  I just can’t get enough of the man!

This is why I am introducing a weekly (maybe bimonthly) blog posting, dedicated to the Bard—Shakespeare Saturdays, if you will. Perhaps some Saturdays we’ll discuss a particular play, a sonnet, a theme of his, a mystery behind the man, a book about him, anything having to do with Shakespeare. It will be a great way (I promise!) to brush up on your knowledge of Will Shakey’s works or to learn something new about them!

Since this is the first posting, we’ll start slow with just a sonnet! One of the more well known sonnets. First, I’ll give you a little background information on Shakespeare’s sonnets.

There are 154, published in 1609, however they were not published by Shakespeare so it is unknown in what ordered he would have wanted them to appear. Almost all of the sonnets are constructed using three quatrains and a couplet at the end. Many argue that you can split the sonnets into two groups based on who the sonnets are about or who they are aimed towards. Numbers 1-126 are commonly viewed as being addressed to a ‘fair youth.’ These sonnets explore sexuality, love, family, and the brevity of time. The other half of the sonnets, 127-152, are addressed to The Dark Lady. These sonnets are overtly sexual and focus on passionate, sexual love instead of platonic or familial love.

Today, we will discuss Sonnet 130.

My mistress’ eye are nothing like the sun,
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
         And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
         As any she belied with false compare.

This sonnet is written to his Dark Lady, you can tell because he refers to her skin as “dun” and her hair as “black,” and can be read in many different ways. Shakespeare compares his mistress to beautiful things, but always states that his mistress is not as beautiful. Her lips are not as beautiful as coral, and her skin is dull and lacks the luminosity of snow. He makes it clear that she is no goddess nor does she have any qualities that would make her goddess-like. She can’t sing and she smells, ouch.

However, the turning point of this sonnet is in the final couplet. Shakespeare finds that his mistress is rare because she cannot compare to all of these other-worldly beauties. She is not a goddess, and that might be a good thing. She is real and tangible. And that is better than any goddess Shakespeare could imagine. By comparing her to all of these wondrous qualities that are not held by humans, he is not berating her, but praising her.

I think that a definite connection can be made between this sonnet and the world we live in today. People often want to look like supermodels and celebrities, that are airbrushed and professionally done-up to appear attractive behind possibility. But that might not be the best definition of beauty. Perhaps, as Shakespeare seems to argue, beauty is seen in the natural form of humanity. Being the most organic form of yourself is what is truly beautiful because it is relatable and real and for a person to be able to love you, they must see the real you.

I know, I am really reading this with as much optimism as possible but I think that is it a nice way to interpret these 14 lines. What do you think Shakespeare meant with his words? And what other works of his would you like to see on Shakespeare Saturdays?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Lent

I wasn't really planning on writing about Lent today, Ash Wednesday. Although I will be leaving my house to receive my ashes and begin the celebration and recognition of Lent, I find it's a difficult topic to discuss. However, my mind was quickly changed on my way to work this morning.

A radio show was discussing the top 11 things that people give up for Lent and it made me think. So many people give up silly, frivolous things that are really pointless in relation to the sacrifice that Christ made for us. It borders on insulting. People give up sweets, ice cream, soda, and Oreos. Some people give up online shopping or watching reality TV. Is Lent the time to lose weight or to save money? I don't really think so. Those are what New Year's resolutions are for. I can understand giving up meat every day rather than just on Fridays because it has  religious symbolism. If you want to give up shopping, do something good with the money you save—donate it to your church or a charity. But why give up something that you'll take up again as soon as Easter comes? I don't really understand the point, especially when everyone gives up something that they can easily go without! 

I think Lent should be a time of change or transformation for oneself. It's not to better your physical or monetary status, but a time that could be an inspiration to better you emotionally and spiritually. Instead of giving up food or TV or shopping, give up negativity. Give up judging others. These are things that will bring you closer to Christ. Whenever you are tempted to think poorly of another, think of Christ's sacrifices for us and be inspired to change your actions. 

Or, don't give up something at all! Start doing something new that will benefit yourself or others. Volunteer. Read a 40 Day devotional book everyday (this is my choice for Lent). Go to Church every day (or more than once a week) during Lent. Pray more. Read the Bible every morning or night. These are all things that could benefit your spirituality and will more than likely become a habit and a way of life when these 40 days end. Lent seems to be turning into a secular time. This should be a time to refocus our lives on Christ. I decided to read from a 40 Day Devotional everyday during Lent and reflect on this time. 

What will you do for Lent?

Amazon Addictions

I have 51 books sitting in my cart. Fifty-one. 51. The contents total cost of all those items is $655.28. But that’s not all! I also have 27 other books in my ‘Saved for Later’ list, and that one does not give me a total price. Needless to say, I will not be emptying my cart in one big swoop. Hopefully I will be able to slowly but surely whittle away at that number one or two books at a time…over the next few years! There are so many books I want to read and so many new books that I will want to read, how can I keep up?

Even though I have a small bookstore worth of books in my cart, there are few standouts that I’m the most eager to grab soon.

The first is a recent book called MFA VS. NYC by Chad Harbach.

The book includes opinions and thoughts of established writers, editors, professors, students, and publishers on the topic of whether or not writers should purse an advanced degree or just move to New York City and write. It’s an interesting topic, one that I’ve though about often, and I would love to learn about what professionals have to say on the topic. I really, really want to get into grad school and obtain my MFA but I know it’s not the right choice for everyone. It does not have great reviews on Amazon, but the New York Times reported on it so it’s worth a mention, at least! I can’t wait to read it.

Another book I’m hoping to read soon is A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor.

This was published in November and I’ve been hoping to get it since then! It truly sounds like an amazing and insightful read. It was written while O’Connor was studying at the University of Iowa. She writes extensively about her own writing and religion, portraying how it intertwines in her life. O’Connor’s writing is absolutely influenced by Catholicism and her relationship with God. She writes prayers about her future as a writer and it’s amazing to read the book knowing that her prayers were answered. Also, having such personal insights into the early life of a writer who became a wonderful success is inspiring.

How about you? What's been burning a hole in your Amazon cart?