Wednesday, February 13, 2013

War and Peace and Lent

I started reading War and Peace, partly because I've really wanted to read it since I went to see the War and Peace movie marathon at the Russian Embassy and partly because now I have real motivation in the form of Annie-the-amazing. (It is also her birthday for another half-hour, so С Днем Рождения! or should I say joyeux anniversaire?) Anyway, She suggested we read it together and commit to posting about it as we go, we decided on Lent which gives us 40 days (and is only very mildly sacrilegious.)
I'm really excited, reading is one of those things like strawberries that I seem to forget I actually love -- I can go for months at a time until I pick up a good book or taste a really ripe strawberry and wonder how I survived without serious withdraw. When I was at Thomas More I read a ton. (And I also watched nearly no TV, where did that go?) By read a ton I mean we read Crime and Punishment in barely over a week. And that's a big Russian novel, notable not as big as War and Peace, but still a serious amount of people with really long names and significantly unpleasant lives. So 40 days for War and Peace is totally doable - plus that might even include Sundays off. Tolstoy's novel includes more than 1,100 pages, hundreds of characters, and 365 chapters. You could read it a chapter everyday for a year as the world's weirdest page-a-day-tear-away-calender.
Why yes, you are correct -- my Russian novel does appear to be speaking French.
The opening line to the effect of "Hey how about those Bonapartes?" has got nothing on Anna K's unhappy families, or Rebecca's dream of Manerley, or Rachel's Four Turnings, but it gets the book going nonetheless. And so we begin!

Got any Russian novel reading advice for us?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gettin' Crafty

...and pretending I'm pinteresting
I've been all sorts of grown-up in the past month: applying for lots of non-4-am-style-jobs, signing a lease (+10 grown-up-points!) and I even let the doctor draw my blood despite the fact that: A. I was using that blood and B. I have a hardcore-panic-reaction to needles ever since I stepped on an up-side-down-pin-cushion (something I would entirely advise against). On another note though, I've also been mildly crafty crocheting myself some borderline-homeless-dude-glove-things and making myself a kindle case. Tada!
I love my Kindle. I love it even more after finding out how useful a compact-yet-endless-supply-of-books is when commuting to school /living overseas. I wanted a Kindle case to avoid losing my dear Kinny to an untimely-end-by-screen-damage, but my word are they expensive! Seriously -- most  cases cost a 1/3 to 1/2 as much as the Kindle itself. Not cool people.

[I've also got a whole rant about how nonsensical it is that other e-books and cases don't work with kindles and vice-versa, cause it's idiotic. Dvds, cd, mp3 and freaking cassettes work in other brands' players, so why not e-books?  Makes about as much sense as country-coding dvds --Also stupid. Ranty-rant-rant.]

Anyhow... I decided to just make my own case. Recent pre-moving-cleaning-o'-my-room resulted in compiling the disturbing amount of unused notebooks/journals I own into huge piles. Although the upside to my unruly addiction to notebooks is that I had a great little "Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake" journal that I got on sale at some point from Barnes and Noble. So 1, 2, 3, I converted it from a cute notebook to an awesome kindle case in the span of just one episode of Castle:

1. Removed most but not all of the pages.
First I just carefully torn out most of the sections of pages. I left in about three little sections, because the notebook's spine is slightly thicker than my Kindle and because it gives me some note-taking/thoughts-on-books-recordings space in the front which seems pretty handy. (I also left in just a couple of pages in the very back)

2. Glued in elastic hold-in-place-bits.
After trying a couple of other types of glue, I switched to a hot glue gun, which is honestly right up there with duct-tape, so it should have just been the first thing I tried. Naturally it worked the best. I glued the ends in place with the elastic around the back of where I wanted it to be, then once it dried/cooled I just flipped 'em round into place.

3. Prettied it up.
I covered up the glued-down-edges with the pages I had left in the back, plus more hot-glue-gunning to be sure everything stayed in place. Then I put a bit of black ribbon over the torn-out-messy-looking-spine. And I moved the pocket from the inside of the back cover to the front so I could still use it -- with the very artistic tactic of ripping it out of the back and gluing it inside the front. Yup, I'm oh-so-skilled.

And so voila! I have an awesome meme-inspired-cupcake-themed-home-made-ish-kindle-case-with-note-taking-pages-included. It would be just as easy to make a case for a nook/ different sized kindle/ ipad, as long as you find a notebook it fits. 
I decided against using the other cute-notebook-of-the-right-size that I found in my room, because it had a magnetic closure and I don't know enough about technology to know if that would have bad-effects on my kindle over time. Better safe than sorry.

Now I'm off to read some of my abundant collection-of-public-domain-and-therefore-free-to-download-classic-lit on my well-dressed little Kinny-the-Kindle.

Monday, January 28, 2013

P&P and LBD

Guess what today is?
Today is January 28th, 2013 and that makes it the 200th anniversary of the publications of Pride and Prejudice! Yay alliteration and congrats Jane Austen!
It's a brilliant book and there are a couple of wonderful film/mini-series adaptations (Collin Firth!). However my favorite by far is the current vlog-style-adaptation-on-You-Tube-produced-by-John-Green's-brother-Hank-Green-of-nerdfighteria. It is the most clever and engaging adaptation I've ever seen. I may like it even better than the book, although my inner-lit-major recoils at that blasphemous thought.
Lydia-as-Lizzie and Lizzie-as-Darcy
for a Jane-Austen-Dance-Scene
It's super clever in context, trust me. 
This web series is really amazingly well done though, so well done that I actually like Lydia! The loud-crazy-ditsy-trouble-attracting-little-sister-Lydia, at this point I adore her and her videos are some of my favorites. (And I may or may not stand around hipster-filled-concerts overly-engaged with my best-y about the lives of fictional characters, but I sure wouldn't admit that over the interwebs)
Regardless of my border-line-unsanity though, you should check out the Lizzie Bennet Diaries to celebrate P&P's bi-centennial birthday. Go now and watch the first handful by clicking on this poorly constructed sentence.  But ye've been warned, once you are hooked there is risk of severe addiction. These guys not only are on youtube, they tweet, and pin and have facebooks and the cleverness abounds everywhere.
To top it off Lizzie may have answered a question from me in one of her videos and it may have been my favorite internet moment ever. Although this kid's peptalk may be my new favorite moment on the internet now -- you should check out that too.
Happy birthday Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, Bing, and Darcy! And well done Miss Austen and the LBD team!

Monday, January 7, 2013


New year, new background. Whadd'ya think? The get-computer-file-to-do-what-I-want-credit all goes to my big bro and sis-in-law who are both clever and attractive. Thank you both so much.

Since I ended last year with a list of 2011's highlights I'm posting some for 2012 as well. This was by-and-large the year I moved to Galway. Living in Ireland for 5 months was amazing and uncomparable (comparableless? incomparable? What is the word I'm looking for?) I learned a ton, made great friends, and soaked up so many wonderful memories, while soaking up an overabundance of rain water as well. The rest of the year back here in the states has been full of life and loveliness as well. Here are my 12 highlights of 2012 all haphazardly and in no particular order:

1-- Moving to Galway, everything from the plane-turned-train ride leaving BWI in January, to exploring and getting to know my darling city, to my wonderful visitors, to stepping back into Maryland humidity again in May was intense and bright with travel-details. I will always love the little city of Galway.

2-- 74 St Branden's Ave and the girls I lived with were better than I could have hoped for. Turns out moving overseas to live in a house with complete strangers you've only ever emailed a couple of times can be a perfectly fine idea, no ax-murders for me.
3-- My piccolo trip to Paris, as my first really solo trip it was unbeatable. I was thrilled to met up with Rei and her hubby on their trip from Japan. Not only did I get to see a precious friend, Paris made me feel brave.

4-- Rome, mio first amore. Possibly the only city I love more than Galway. I threw another coin into the Trevi fountain so I'll be sure to return. Then we visited friend's friends in Florence and Turin drinking in even  more great memories and the world's most delicious nutella-and-espresso drink.

5-- Dancing, One of the highlight of being home in Maryland is Mobtown Ballroom. Taking Lindy Hop lessons and going to see the incredible dancers at ILHC were high points of my summer. Now I can even do a successful swing-out without tripping over my own feet . . . most of the time.

6-- Jobs, This year I was also a productive member of society working at Starbucks, Program-Directoring at camp, interning at Manna Inc, and starting my job with Habitat for Humanity Montgomery County. Now I'm even sort-of-kinda-maybe figuring out what I want to do long-er-ish-term for work.

7-- Babies, since I was back in the States I flew out to WI for my old-college-roomie's baby's baptism. Then when I was suppose to fly home Super-Storm-Sandy hit, delaying my flight. Meaning I was able to help take the world's cutest Carpenter, Walrus, and Oyster trick-or-treating. "This!"

8-- Books/Films/Plays. This year I read and saw plenty of awesome books and films. The Fault in Our Stars is most definitely one of my new favorite books. And while I can't quite say I liked it, I'm not sure I would ever see a more emotionally intense movie than As If I Am Not Even There. Plus Cabin in the Woods, Avengers, and Cloud Atlas were kick-butt-good. And I got to see brilliant plays down in DC.

9--Русски - Fall 2012 I took Russian 101 with my lil' bro which was really fun. Did you know the Russian word for brother is brat? That is also fun. (although my little brother is totally not a brat)

10--Grown-up-ish-stuff, I have also spent a good deal of time this year getting rid of stuff I don't need, learning to cook/ feed myself and clean and budget better, and to stay sane as a semi-responsible adult.

11--T.V. Another good amount of my time was spent watching every episode of Downton Abbey, Friends, The West Wing, and How I Met Your Mother.

12-- The Boss in concert in Philly, was another bug highlight of 2012. Bruce Springsteen played for more than four hours straight and was amazing - blew my mind. The concert was incredibly fun. I hope to be just a fractious of that energetic and impressive when I'm in my 60s.

Over the course of this past year I've checked off bucket list items I didn't even have on my imaginary list: spending the night in an Italian train station, getting John Green's signature, taking a freezing-cold-April-dip in the Mediterranean, impressing an Irish lad with my tolerance for whiskey, puking off the side of a boat, finding the world's coolest tree, and watching a movie marathon at an embassy. 2012 has given me plenty of great stories. For this new year, I don't think I'm going to try any new year's resolutions, I'm just hoping to be more brave, adventurous, compassionate, and strong in 2013.