Posts Tagged With: Reading

Sissy Trip

Completed my challenge! It wasn’t a particularly difficult one, but my challenger-sister and I just drove from North Carolina to California in four days, and I think I maybe made myself sick on one of them trying to make sure I finished reading on time.

My challenge was to read this book by today:

a-curse-dark-as-goldMelodramatic as that title is,  I enjoyed the novel pretty well. The story is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, so–as a fan of fairy tales and their various manifestations–I was excited for this challenge. It’s set in a fictional woolen mill inspired by the early Industrial Revolution and the cultural transition of values from superstition to “reason.”

The narrator is incredibly frustrating sometimes, and there are several characters in whom I was more interested, but the plot itself was strong enough that I didn’t have any issues sticking with it. It’s an easy read, I really like the writing, and I’m grateful for the pleasant resumption it provided for my challenges.

I discovered in the author’s note that she visited a functioning 19th century woolen mill in Missouri which is extraordinarily convenient to the sight-seeing trip that we’ll be taking back east next week. If I can convince my sister to read the book herself before we leave, I think it would all be pretty cute to check out the Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site as an interactive follow-up to this challenge.

This is the part when I should choose a new challenge from the suggestions I have. However, since I am on this grand cross-country adventure, I’d like to open the floor to travel-challenges for my sister and me in case anyone has any good ones that we can afford. My last post got 5 views, so I’m not overly expectant, but you can’t get what you don’t ask for. So! At risk of this being a particularly clumsy conclusion, I am requesting challenges relevant to a drive through northern CA, NV, UT, CO, KS, MO, KY, WV, VA, and NC. Thank you and good night.

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Floating

I’m mainly posting today because I read an article that is lavishly called “Why can’t we read anymore? Or, can books save us from what digital does to our brains?”, which I feel is relevant to the purposes of this blog. It discusses the role technology plays in our productivity and ability to finish things efficiently. I want to post a link to it on my blog so I can easily find it again later because I appreciated how bluntly honest and–importantly–relatable the author is about his “digital dopamine addiction” (a phrase which is actually a lot of fun to say despite its negative implications) and the role it has played in his life, professional and personal. Go read that article here, and then focus on something else for half an hour 😛

I’d also like to mention that I was quite flattered by how many people read the post I made about me. I usually try not to consider myself especially interesting, but y’all certainly made me feel like I was, so thank you :3

Tapering down on this post to mundane life updates, I’ve had an interesting weekend+, primarily highlighted by visiting the Boy and doing dope stuff like learning the basics of hurling–ahem, I mean, the basics of camogie (since I’m a lady)–and helping Boy spray-paint a hockey helmet for hurling (he’s a gentleman). I also got to spend an evening in DC to see an Irish performer Boy really likes, and spend another evening hanging out with him and his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.

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I tried to take a picture of Boy and my spray-painted flip-flop tan-lines, but the color wasn’t showing up properly, so this picture I already posted on Facebook will have to suffice

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Long Grey’s Journey into Night

There’s a high probability that I was more annoying than the actual books as I raged at them, but I’ve finally done it. I’ve finished the 50 Shades trilogy, and it’s contending as the most disappointing thing I’ve ever “accomplished.” I bristle when forced to use any words I associate with literature to describe any part of them. I hovered over my keyboard before I reluctantly typed “trilogy” up there. I did and do hesitate in conversation when I’ve had to say “book” or “reading” if it had to do with 50 Shades. The words come out tinny and false, like whenever I had to read poetry aloud in middle school. I’ve whined to literally anyone who would listen about how stupid I think 50 Shades is, but my dear mother and boyfriend in particular have endured the many coping mechanisms I’ve employed throughout this experience with unparalleled grace. I thank them and everyone else who demonstrated the necessary patience to not smack me during this time, because these books brought out in me a childlike inability to deal.

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I’ve seen different versions of this quote floating around, and put it to you that we can go even shallower. If Christian Grey merely wasn’t hot, this story would fall to pieces.

I honestly considered writing E.L. James for the inspirational letter challenge I’m doing right now, because she definitely inspired contempt and self-loathing I didn’t have when I wasn’t reading about her dull characters and their impressively uninteresting sex and drama. However, since the challenge was issued with the hope that I would get a response, I will not to write her. I can’t really overstate how much I would love not to read any other thing she’s written, and any chance that she would personally write something to me with the intent of me reading it is most unwelcome.

Although E.L. James is decidedly off the table for options, I’ve been embarrassingly stumped on this challenge. I had no idea that I was so uninspired by strangers in my life, but I haven’t really been able to come up with anyone who feels right and to whom I could get excited about writing a letter. Rachel gave me a two week time constraint on this challenge, and I expected I wouldn’t need all of that time, but here we are. I’ve been frustrated because this situation means at least one of at least two things: I have been so out of touch with the real world that I’m completely unaware of the cool things any one person out there is doing; I have been so out of touch with my own world that I can’t remember a single other hero I’ve had in my life besides J.K. Rowling.

Fortunately, while I was writing this post I figured out with a friend who I want to write my letter to, and I am pretty stoked and relieved. I actually have been keeping up a bit with someone who is currently inspiring me: actor Myko Olivier. I discovered Myko around September last year in a wholly ridiculous, so-bad-it’s-good movie called Barely Legal, and he is probably most recognizable right now for at least two commercials I’ve seen, and his role as “Head Warbler” on Glee this season. Looking at how he, first of all, manages to deliver a solid performance in Barely Legal, despite its goofiness, and then continues working his way up to more dynamic opportunities has been encouraging as I work on my own much less glamorous climb to success.

I’m finally getting to a point that I can catch up on some of my earlier challenges that I’ve had to put on hold for various reasons, so I don’t need to beg for more of them this time around. HOWEVER, if you still are so inclined, go ahead and submit challenges. I love them. They make me happy, and even if I don’t need them just yet, I want them. I am greedy. Here’s my list, again:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies
  • reading more books

Thank you for reading! I’m going to go sleep off the dregs of Christian Grey & Co. now.

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I’m most productive at night

I fear I may have misunderstood my last challenge, which was:

Read 50 Shades 😉

I assumed that “50 Shades” was just a shortening of the first book’s title, 50 Shades of Grey, but apparently this story was written in its entirety first, and then literally split into thirds with almost zero regard for how thoughtfully composed books and stories are supposed to work (I say almost zero because they did at least bother to finish out the chapter as a stopping point). The ending of 50 Shades of Grey was absolutely ridiculous and lazy and I’ll leave the expression of my feelings for it at that.

Since 50 Shades of Grey is actually just a third of one larger book consisting of the entire 50 Shades “series,” I don’t really feel like I actually finished the book. Therefore, on my own time outside of my challenges, I feel like I have to read the other parts of the horribly-written, paradoxically dull and rage-inducing thing, 50 Shades Darker and 50 Shades Freed. I’ve begun 50 Shades Darker, and am even less happy than I expected to be.

I didn’t know that I had any actual triggers, but apparently the romanticization of emotional abuse causes a sharp downturn in my mood, ultimately making me depressed enough to want to cry. I became aware of this within the first 4% of 50 Shades Darker. To E.L. James’s credit, even though most of her writing is elementary-school simple at best and head-shakingly baffling/dreadful at worst, she does manage to depict the thought processes of an abuse victim shockingly accurately, at least compared to my own experiences.

Unfortunately for her, most of that credit will probably be cancelled out because although she is capable of making that part of her fiction startlingly realistic, as far as I can tell from the patterns in the story and foggy spoilers I’ve been exposed to since the books came out, I expect she does not offer a similarly realistic representation of her abused main character leaving their abuser and moving on to a healthy life. Instead, I expect James perpetuates the myth that the troubled, tortured man who lashes out to cope with the pain can be cured by the sheer staying-power of the one woman who suffers through it all until he finally realizes that she is worth changing for. That incredibly misinformed idea is why I spent five years in a relationship that should have lasted three or four months tops, and why I even have a trigger now in the first place.

I do still plan to produce the product I mentioned for this challenge. Even though the books have bummed me out enough that I don’t want to do anything silly regarding them, I think it will be therapeutic to undercut any credibility the books might have in whatever way I can. Therefore, I intend to fulfill that promise and will post it as soon as I can.

Moving on to happier things, I have a new challenge that began yesterday, put forth by my cousin Rachel:

You should write a letter to an inspirational person for you who is still alive and see if you get a response.

I beat her to the punch four years ago when I wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling–I got a response on her behalf as well as a small portrait of her, and I was so happy I cried.

They sent me a version of this portrait

This puts me at a disadvantage because it rules out the most obvious inspirational person for me who is still alive. Rachel also did not include a time frame for this challenge, so, again, I will update when I have it. I haven’t chosen who I will write a letter to yet, but obviously I will tell you once I have.

I am immensely appreciative of all of the support and feedback people have given me for these challenges, and I want you all to know that I am continuously offering my gratitude. I’m offering it this moment, and this one, and every other moment that will henceforth exist. Thank you all very much 🙂

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OMGrey

I did not complete my 50 Shades of Grey challenge by Valentine’s Day, partly because I wanted to actually enjoy some of my Valentine’s Day and spend it with my valentine, and partly because I was more miserable reading this book than I can remember being reading anything ever. I instead finished the book today, and if you were within an eight mile radius you heard me despairingly proclaiming my distaste for the never-ending “novel” to the heavens. I enjoyed reading My Immortal and Heart of Darkness significantly more than I enjoyed reading 50 Shades of Grey, and those have both been different and significant kinds of painful for me. This being the case, I will create and present my product for it later because I need some time to return my brain to its rightful place and state.

Please give me challenges to restore the health that this book stole from me. Thank you.

UPDATE: I forgot that this existed, but I’m happier than I was:

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Update plus begging

As previously discussed, I met with Nina on Tuesday to read. In the interest of not reading 50 Shades of Grey for the next sixty years, Nina and I have decided to instead read the book individually and confer with each other later on what we’ve found. I’m not holding her to the same schedule, but I am going to finish reading the book by Saturday so that I’ll have read it before the movie comes out and also have a deadline for this challenge. I have no intention of seeing the movie in theaters, but, like with Eragon in tenth grade, I want to read the popular book before the popular movie comes out. Fortunately, unlike with Eragon in the tenth grade, I will (hopefully) be reading this book without ten or more people helpfully informing me that there’s a movie coming out for the book that I decided to read because there’s a movie coming out for it.

My next order of business is to beg you all again for challenges. Pleeeeeease. I’ll even post the inspiration list again, look!

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies
  • reading more books

Since I now have a deadline for my current challenge, I also have a pseudo-deadline for getting more challenges. As i said, I want lots! So, again, pleeeeeeeease. Even if you’ve already posted a challenge, you can give me new ones. If you haven’t posted one, get on it! I’ll be super super grateful wherever they come from.

To everyone reading, thank you 🙂

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Checking In

I realize it’s been a little while since I’ve done any challenge updates, so I thought I’d post one to let all five of you keeping up with this know that I haven’t forgotten or abandoned my challenges 😛 I’ll start with this picture of radishes I cut in half in pretty patterns yesterday because I like how images in the blog posts show up in the link when I post these on Facebook and I want a pretty picture on the link to this post, too.

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I did those!

I am, as I said in my last post, reading 50 Shades of Grey for my current challenge. I’m reading it aloud with the friend who put forth the challenge, and so far we’ve had some fun with the little bit we’ve been able to get through. I do have a plan for a silly “product” to present with this challenge, but I want to keep that a pseudo-surprise until I’ve finished it. Now that things are settling out again (however briefly) we’ll hopefully be able to knock out more chapters more quickly and I’ll be able to put together this exciting product soon. No official due date, which I realize breaks the rules, but Nina and I are meeting Tuesday, so we will establish one then, and I mean it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep checking in until I’ve finished this challenge. I also welcome, encourage, urge you all to line up more challenges for me. I’m really enjoying this project and I want to have so many challenges that I have no choice but to be working on them for a long time in order to finish them all 😉 Thank you so much for reading!

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Experiments in different genres

My third challenge was submitted by the goddess Tori, who told me to:

NOW WATCH ANCHORMAN. Bonus points if you watch the sequel too ❤

I just finished Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and am going to start the sequel any minute now, once I take a break from the absolute silliness that is the Anchorman universe.

I’ll be honest, my relationship with Will Ferrell has been a bit love/hate. Sometimes he’s incredibly clever, and sometimes he’s just obnoxious. I personally don’t think desperate yelling is necessarily a one-way ticket to hilarious, but I get that that was supposed to be some weird character quirk for Burgundy, I guess. His conversations with Baxter were delightful, though, and I especially enjoyed that Baxter is the real life version of Seymour from Futurama.

Baxter_Anchorman2_imageSeymour

When I was in high school someone changed the screensaver on the computer in the band room to a crawl of the Anchorman quote about leather-bound books and his apartment smelling of rich mahogany. I remember that vivid imagery making a strong impression on me, and I’m not sure when I learned that the quote was actually from Anchorman, but I’ve been looking forward to it. I wasn’t disappointed with the delivery, either, which was pleasant because I was really afraid I would be.

Overall, I’m glad I finally watched it so I can be one link closer to the rest of my generation and hopefully understand certain things better. I’ve already been promised to have the movie frequently quoted at me by Tori, so I will, if nothing else, understand her better. I did genuinely enjoy it, for the most part, and it did reconfirm for me that I’m dating a taller, burlier version of Paul Rudd, so that’s pretty rad.

I know the Anchorman challenge isn’t really complete yet because I haven’t gotten the bonus points, but I’ll go ahead and set up the next challenge that I’ll start tomorrow.

My friend Nina and I apparently hate ourselves, because we are interested in the primary source material for 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, so my next challenge, from her, is:

Read 50 Shades 😉

She and I had originally discussed doing dramatic readings of it together, so that’s how I’m opting to do that. I haven’t got a timeline yet for when, but I’ll update when I do.

In other news, I hate to be picky about my challenges, but the ones I have left after the 50 Shades one are relatively undoable right now because we’re remodeling the house. You would be my best friend if you broadened the pool a little bit for what I have to choose from 🙂 As before, here is the list of inspiration:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies
  • reading more books

As a final note, I would just like to say thank you to everyone who’s been reading this and submitting challenges. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it ❤ Keep ’em coming!

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I’ll come up with a better titling system maybe

I have completed my second challenge! As a reminder, here is what it was:

Read The Slight Edge over the span of a week and report on how it can apply to your life…

I finished the book last night, so here is my report:

The “slight edge,” which author Jeff Olson refers to by name about six thousand times throughout the book, is “simple disciplines or simple errors in judgement, repeated consistently over time,” and actually fits incredibly nicely with this whole challenges project. His main point, repeated ad nauseam, is that those things compound to either wild success or your eminent doom, depending on which simple things you elect to do (or not do) every day.

Because of the time constraint on this challenge, I was forced to use the slight edge while reading The Slight Edge; I needed to read about three chapters a day in order to get through it the “slight edge” way, and in general that worked out pretty well for me. As far as how the slight edge can apply to my life, I actually came up with this challenges plan as a way to achieve that same goal of wild success that Olson says the slight edge can help me achieve, so in a way I’ve already started to apply it.

The book is divided into two parts: “How the Slight Edge Works” and “Living the Slight Edge.” He helpfully offers spaces for you to directly make plans in your own life during the second half, and wanted me to write in the book, but I didn’t, so I suppose filling it in here instead would be fair. First I was to write out five dreams, get specific about them, and give a timeline of by when I want them:

  1. I want to move out and support myself. I’m not sure where exactly yet, but I want a decent paying job and to move out within the next six to eight months.
  2. I want to live in Boston, and be settled there for at least a few years. I want to move there in the next one to three years.
  3. I want all of my possessions to a) be all in one place (rather than scattered across storage and my parents’ houses, etc.) and b) to all fit into one moving truck, within the next six months.
  4. I want to be ambidextrous. I want to do all things equally well with both hands. I want to achieve this within the next five years.
  5. I want to start saving for retirement and pay off my student loans. I want that taken care of in the next ten to fifteen years.

The other things I was supposed to write out were my slight edge habits that I would do to improve my health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and my positive impact on the world. Those were to be outlined as:

My dream for (whatever area of my life)

Plan to start

One simple daily discipline

He said that the relationship one should probably stay private, so I will keep that one to myself, but here are the other six:

  1. Health
    1. I want my body to be able to do everything I ask it to without difficulty
    2. I plan to start this by eating more plants and walking my dog more
    3. Eat three servings of plants and walk my dog
  2. Happiness
    1. I want to be satisfied with and proud of my life
    2. I plan to start this by finishing some of my unfinished projects and finding more productive uses for my time
    3. Finish something, be it the dishes or detailing my car or writing a story or giving birth
  3. Personal Development
    1. I want to continuously develop my already possessed skills and acquire new ones
    2. I plan to start this by asking people to challenge me to do things at their discretion
    3. Read about those skills or about something with which I’m unfamiliar
  4. Finances
    1. I want to live comfortably, have a real budget, save money, and not buy as much useless crap
    2. I plan to start this by finding a job
    3. Save all of my loose change and ones
  5. Career
    1. I want a stimulating and rewarding position where I know I am valued and important
    2. I plan to start this by finding a job
    3. Research positions and put in applications
  6. My positive impact on the world
    1. I want to have concrete things left behind for people to remember and know me by, as well as bring out the best in people in ways that won’t necessarily be recorded
    2. I plan to start this by actually finishing, maintaining, and sharing my blog
    3. Write something down that is useful or positive

I think filling in those blanks pretty well completes the requirements for my challenge, so I’ll finish up this bit of the post. If you’re looking for some direction in your life, I’d recommend checking this book out. Olson’s done a great job of making sure you won’t have excuses for not reading his book, so if you want it as a physical book, or a digital book, or an audiobook, you can find whatever catches your fancy here.

In other news, during the time I was doing this challenge I actually checked off another thing I’d had on the list I’ve been posting with this; my friend Laura helped me make that capelet brainchild and I think it’s pretty cute considering we made it up.

Fluffy side

Fluffy side

Shiny side

Shiny side

I think I want to add some appliques to the shiny side because I intended for it to be reversible and so far wearing the purple side out just looks like I’m wearing it inside out to me, so technically this still isn’t finished, but the bulk of the work is done. I’m glad I went to Laura for help with it because if I’d done it myself it probably would have looked less like respectable clothes and more like the last thing I sewed, which was a pair of pajama pants ten years ago that had exposed elastic in the waist because I apparently couldn’t sew two pieces of fabric together with a machine specifically designed to do that. Anyway, go check out and like her Facebook page or follow her sewing instagram blog account thing (I don’t know how to Instagram or what to call things on it) because she’s made some really impressive and adorable pieces, and Laura is also just delightful.

I’ll post tomorrow about what my next challenge is going to be. Here’s that list again, revised again:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies
  • reading more books

Feel free to post any challenges in the comments! 😀

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Very important

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Yesterday I accepted my first challenge, issued by my good friend Jessica Davis:

Jerrika! You should use one of the challenges to write me a letter!

Jessica was very generous to offer this challenge to me because it both gently helped me get started and forced me to almost make my own envelope before I learned that we, against all normality here, had some envelopes already. I wrote the letter last night, and feel that I officially completed the challenge when I put it in the mailbox this afternoon, where it is waiting alone in the dark to be picked up tomorrow by the station wagon that takes and delivers our mail.

I know I only posted yesterday, but I think this milestone event warrants a timely acknowledgement, especially because it means I am ready to move on to a new challenge.

This brings us to Challenge the Second, which comes from family friend (who is actually just family) Mrs. Lissa:

Read The Slight Edge over the span of a week and report on how it can apply to your life…

I’m looking forward to this one because I don’t read books nearly enough anymore.

I’ve gotten good challenges from a handful of people already, and am very grateful to these pioneers for stepping up in giving me things to do. Virtual cupcakes for all of you. I realized too late that I left one other topic of especial interest off of my list of challenge inspiration in my first blog about this idea, so here it is again, abridged, with the addition:

  • walking my dog
  • learning to play guitar
  • improving my abilities with media and multimedia projects
  • yoga, sort of
  • significantly reducing my possessions
  • sewing a capelet I want
  • letter-writing
  • watching iconic or important movies, so people will quit making that face at me that they always do when I say I haven’t seen Braveheart/Scarface/The Godfather/Star Wars/Anchorman/Casablanca/The Jerk/Alien/Pretty Woman/Friday the 13th/Stand by Me/Iron Man/Green Mile/One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest/etc. etc. etc. etc.

As I said, some people have already submitted some great challenges, so keep it up and send me more in the comments! I can’t wait to see them.

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