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laura
20 January 2010 @ 07:38 pm
Winter break is almost over, and it's been lovely. Other than the tonsillectomy, but that also had its benefits in that I got three weeks out of work. I started feeling lots better after a week and a half. Yay!

Books read over break:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (fiction) - Really amazing. About an apartment full of rich people and a brilliant thirteen-year-old and self-educated concierge who are searching for meaning amongst all the shallowness. The book is pretty much a theory of aesthetics woven into an engaging story.

The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe (poetry) - Also amazing. One of my favorite poets. She writes about the beauty of ordinary life. Makes me ache with sharply-focused details.

Number9Dream by David Mitchell (fiction) - I love David Mitchell and enjoyed this book, but not as much as his others. About a 20-year-old boy, Eiji, in Tokyo, looking for his father whom he has never known. But it's really unusual, all techno/cyber adventuring and underground plots. It reminded me of a shonen manga.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (fiction) - Wonderful and dreamlike. I love Murakami. This book is delicious in the way that really delicately flavored food can be delicious. About a college-age boy, Toru, and his first love, Naoko, who has become mentally unstable after the death of her boyfriend, also Toru's best friend.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (re-read) (fiction) - One of my old favorites. Kind of similar to I Capture the Castle except perhaps more lighthearted. Set in the 50s in England, all about pop and glamor and modernity taking the place of old traditions. A charismatic and incredibly witty narrator, 18-year-old Penelope, lives in a centuries-old grand house in post-WWII England with her young mother (bereaved after the death of her husband in the war), and an American pop music-obsessed brother Inigo. Penelope meets new friends who introduce her to a world of wealth and parties and youth.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom - Sweet by kind of cliched. It was around the house and I decided to read it. About a man who has ruined his life with a drinking problem, who decides to commit suicide, then miraculously meets the ghost of his mother, who died years ago, and straightens his life out.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith - Another author I love, and a brilliant book. About a family in a posh New England college town, with a professor father. Set right outside Boston. All about issues of race and class in the academic world, really interestingly articulated.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addision Allen - So adorable and enjoyable. Reminded me very much of The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery (woman in late twenties living a stagnant life and longing for adventure and romance). Also touches of magic throughout the book, that make it really lovely. Ghosts and books appearing from nowhere to help people out and an air of delicious fantasy.

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor - Loved it. A memoir by mother and daughter, mother coming to terms with growing older, daughter afraid of her future and figuring out what she wants to do with her life. Lots of really interesting Jungian musings about the divine feminine, Greek mythology, and Mary as a nontraditional figure.

 
 
laura
13 January 2010 @ 10:03 pm
news  
Last Friday I had my tonsils out, which is apparently much more of a big deal for a 21-year-old than for an 8-year-old, so since then I've been laying about on the couch, watching many many movies and reading everything in sight. The most annoying part is being incredibly hungry, but eating is rather painful. I'm getting better though. Today I could actually talk! I think I'm going to make a post about all the movies I've watched and books I've read lately, because there are a lot of them and many were quite good.

I have finished eleven out of twelve MFA applications! I will probably finish the twelfth in the next couple of days. It is very nice to have the anxiety of completing the applications done, but now all I have is the (incredible mind-consuming) anxiety of wondering if I will get in. Oh god, please let me get in somewhere, preferably one of the Boston schools. I have this overwhelming need to get out and away and start doing something really interesting and important to me. Soon.

School starts again in a couple of weeks, my last semester as an undergrad. Wow. I have decided to give myself an awesome and insane semester of six classes, 18 credits, even though I only need ten more credits to graduate. Yeah. Well I figured out that if I only take one more Writing and Rhetoric class, I can declare a minor, which is cool. Also, last semester I took a creative nonfiction class with an amazing professor, and at the end of the semester, she invited me to take her GRADUATE creative nonfiction class even though I am only a lowly undergrad. After I recovered the ability to speak I said "Really?? YES! THANK YOU!" and had to stop myself from kissing her boots.

Soo hello huge workload of reading and writing. To add craziness, I am not even going to get credit for the grad class, because I've reached the credit cap for English classes. Oh well. It will still be amazing.
 
 
laura
28 December 2009 @ 02:32 pm
New Year's Survey! I have a ritual of doing this at the end of every year.

2009!Collapse )
 
 
laura
16 December 2009 @ 04:33 pm
Things I want to do on winter break:


  • Get a haircut. My bangs are so overgrown that they attack my eyes constantly.

  • Organize my closet, hang stuff up, take old stuff out, maybe sell clothes & shoes that I don't wear enough on ebay.

  • Start a blog and update it frequently! A blog of the fashion/lifestyle/photography/random musings sort. There is too much in my life these past couple of years that has gone unchronicled. I have all of high school written down in journals, in paper, on livejournal and blogspot, but not too much of college.

  • REEEEAAAD. Fiction, poetry, nonfiction, YA fantasy, chick lit, ANYTHING that catches my fancy. I've barely read anything this semester that wasn't for school. Also, every winter break I say "I'm finally going to finish Ulysses!!!" Well I doubt it, but maybe.

  • See my friends! I have had no social life this semester, other than seeing Tristan usually one night a week. There are some friends I haven't seen since the summer, and some whom I've only seen a few times since then. It is not good.

  • Various random adventures!
 
 
laura
16 December 2009 @ 04:26 pm
I FINISHED WRITING ALL MY FINALS. Oh my God, it feels good. I just have one that is finished, but not turned in yet, for a (wonderful) American philosophy class (Thoreau & Emerson! oh, and the pragmatists too). The professor is amazingly awesome, so he's throwing a party for his students at his house on Friday night, and told us to bring our final papers to the party. Haha!

Thennn I have five more grad school applications to finish and send, and only one of them is really intimidating. It has a special essay instead of the regular personal statement, in which I'm supposed to write about how my reading life has had an impact on me as a writer. It sounds easy, but it's actually really hard. The answer is "yes, I read a lot, it influences what I write." But I have to turn that into 3-5 pages. And I'm finding it really difficult to articulate how my reading influences my writing. I'm pretty much an entirely intuitive person, so I hardly ever really think critically about how I can take what I read and apply it to my own writing. It's just kind of like, I read something, I unconsciously absorb something from it, and next time I write, that something unconsciously seeps into my own writing. But how can I put that into an essay??

I also get the idea that I'm supposed to talk about my "literary influences," but I feel kind of pretentious doing that, and also my influences, I've realized, are pretty strange, and many of them don't have much in common with each other. I thought about it and came up with this pantheon: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Walt Whitman, WB Yeats, e. e. cummings, Marie Howe, and Darcie Dennigan. WTF?

But... the Christmas tree looks beautiful.
 
 
 
laura
14 July 2009 @ 09:25 pm
Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you. These are from norrell.


New England, books, the sea, writing, fall.

New England: I've lived in New England my whole life so far and I feel very attached to it. I'll probably live elsewhere eventually but can picture myself coming back because I feel such a connection with the place. It's all about autumn, woodsmoke air, sidewalk magic, crinkled pages, sea-chests in attics, captains' houses built in 1708. Every city has history in its corners and ghost stories in the cobblestones.

Books: Are life. There's never a time when I'm not reading a book, and I'm often reading more than one at a time. I couldn't be anything other than an English major even if I tried (I did try briefly to be a journalism major, but came running back to English). Rooms filled with books are glorious and I hope to have a wonderful library-room someday. (When I was little, my favorite Disney movie was Beauty & the Beast and I wanted to be Belle and marry the Beast just so I could have THAT LIBRARY.)

The sea: Another wonderful thing I've lived with my whole life. I live in "The Ocean State," and the sea has always been a mere half hour to 45 minutes away from my house. A quick drive to the beach after work or classes is the simplest thing, and I only really realize how awesome this is when friends from landlocked places point it out. Very many important & glorious things have happened to me by the sea. Also, almost every first date I've ever been on has involved the sea in some way - walking along the shore, sitting on the sea-wall, climbing the sea-cliffs. So I have quite a lot of memories involving the sea.

Writing: Is my thing. I've always written in some form. Journal entries, personal essays, short stories, have chronicled my life & imaginings. Lately I've been most into poetry, after struggling for a while with thinking I should be a fiction writer but not feeling very excited by writing fiction, although it is my favorite thing to read. In the fall I'm going to apply to grad school for an MFA in poetry.

Fall: My favorite season, the season that feels most like home and has the most magic in it. There is beauty and there are colors everywhere, and also ghosts. Chimney-smoke, hot drinks, a thrilling feeling. My birthday is at the very edge of summer & fall. I think fall is also the absolute best season for fashion - boots, light jackets, scarves, fingerless gloves. Knitted things. It's just wonderful.
 
 
laura
26 May 2009 @ 02:28 pm

The Providence Journal had a feature the other day on interesting things to do on Memorial Day. I picked “Shop Downcity,” an event on Westminster St. where the shops do kind of a sidewalk sale, selling stuff outside at discounted prices. My mom came along with me. We got there toward the end of the day so there wasn’t all that much left, but it was nice to walk around anyway.

The best part of the day was when we stopped in Tazza Cafe for a drink and ended up having a delicious lunch & dessert. I had an iced chai and a panini, and for dessert a strange and marvelous creation called pistachio napoleon. Layers of phyllo with Grand Mariner cream and vanilla-coated mandarin oranges.

While we had lunch we talked about plans for my 21st birthday in September and college graduation one year from now. About the first, I’m very excited. Plans include classy dinners at places with wine lists (one with my parents, one with the boyfriend), an adventure with my best friends (maybe a road trip). About the second thing – graduation – I’m more scared, but the prospect of a party on a nice lawn somewhere with a band playing in the background makes it better.

picturesCollapse )
 
 
laura
18 May 2009 @ 05:33 pm
I'm sitting in the lobby of the English building at school, which is blissfully empty since it's one of the last days of finals. After I turn in a poetry portfolio and have a meeting with a professor (about whether or not I should go to grad school), I'll be officially done with my junior year of college. I'm taking an online summer class, a senior seminar in creative writing and publishing, but that's more fun than work. Other than that I have no plans for the summer other than working at my (crappy) retail job and spending time with the boyfriend & friends, hopefully managing a few adventures. I entertained the idea of looking for a summer internship, but when it came down to it I was too damn indecisive and lazy, not to mention that I have no idea what kind of internship I would want (and the idea of unpaid work seems dreadfully unfair to me). This could be my last summer vacation, I suppose.

Junior year was a good one, the best year of college I've had so far. In sophomore year I finished taking the boring required classes, so this past year I got to take a lot more classes that I was actually interested in, including a few creative writing classes. I started getting interested again in poetry after not having written much in a while, and also wrote a few short stories. I won second place in the English department's poetry contest. This year I also started seriously thinking about grad school, which made me feel more hopeful about life after college since I still don't know what I want for a career.

Various things that happened junior year:
- Turned twenty
- Met and got together with my boyfriend Taylor
- Took a lot of creative writing classes and got to know the faculty
- Continued working at the same retail job
- Made friends with some people at my job and started hanging out with them
- Applied to work in the writing center as a tutor next year and got the position (unpaid, but for credit)
- My lifelong best friend Nikki started college at my school
- Another of my best friends, Justine, got married & I was a bridesmaid

This is the first year where I felt like I had something of a place in college. That was the consequence of going to the big state school & living at home in order to save money, instead of going to the prestigious private colleges that accepted me and getting buried in student loans... It meant that my college would be closer to my house than my high school was, that I wouldn't have "the college experience" living on-campus and making friends, that I would often feel like I had picked the boring route and that my life had become stagnant. But the upside is that I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, met a wonderful guy with whom I am in a happy relationship, took classes with some really excellent writing professors, and stayed close to my friends. I don't regret the decision about where I went to college anymore. Especially now that I'm thinking of grad school, which probably wouldn't be a possibility if I'd already blown $40,000 a year on my bachelor's degree. So, all in all, things are good.
 
 
laura
28 January 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  • I went back to school. I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is awesome - and I'll probably be able to do the same thing all next school year, too. I'm taking all English classes: poetry writing, fiction writing, a class on epic poetry, and one on African folklore.

  • Trying to find a second job. Also I begged my boss for more hours. I would really rather just work almost full-time at my current job instead of working two part-time jobs. It's a boring job, but I work with fun people and my boss is awesome. (I knew I would like her the day she walked past me mumbling "I hate these friggin' customers.") Anyway, my boss likes me so she said she'd do what she could.

  • Seriously thinking about moving out of my parents' house by the end of the summer. Hence the need for more employment.

  • Reading - over winter break some highlights were Virginia Woolf's Orlando (I love, love, love Virginia Woolf), Kerouac's On the Road, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, also Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and a fantasy novel by Jacqueline Carey called Kushiel's Dart. Right now I must devote my reading time to The Iliad for the next couple weeks (for my epic poetry class).

 
 
laura
12 January 2009 @ 08:34 pm
There's a week left of winter break and I don't want it to end yet. I've been spending it in a rather idyllic way. Spending time with the boy and with friends, reading, lazing around on the internet, listening to music... I definitely don't feel like being tossed back into school life.

But I shouldn't complain because next semester looks like one of my easiest. I discovered that I only need 38 more credits to graduate, which means four classes each remaining semester instead of the usual five (or, in the case of last fall's temporary insanity, six). Then I'll just have to pick up a couple more credits; maybe I'll do an independent study. I've never just taken four classes in a semester before and I'm looking forward to the lightened workload. Two of them are creative writing classes, which are so much fun that they hardly seem like classes.

Also I realized that, after this semester, I only need one more class to finish my English major. Whoa. I'll probably just keep taking English classes, but it will be nice not to have any required classes left. I'll be able to take a lot of creative writing classes instead of literary theory and all. I'm feeling a bit edgy about being a second-semester college junior, though. Next year I'll be a senior, then I'll have to think about scary stuff like what to do after college... about which I am clueless. But I am trying not to think about that now and just focus on enjoying the present.