WHO EVEN FOLLOWS THIS THING ANYMORE?

Dear Reader,

The only consistent thing about me is my inconsistency, that’s for sure. But it’s final’s week in my life currently (well, the past three weeks have basically been considered “final’s week” for me), and I am a terrible procrastinator. Fortunately for me, I often procrastinate schoolwork by working on passion projects.

I’ll practice guitar or listen to covers I think I might be able to pull off one day. I’ll write handwritten notes or journal entires. Sometimes I’ll work on my teaching portfolio or browse Pinterest to see what I could implement in my own classroom. And just now, even, I finished listening to Logic’s third album, “Everybody,” and then read some articles on what people think about him–side note, LOTS of people hate on Logic. I don’t really care, though. I like his message and I like the way he tells it. Good enough for me.

But this blog is very much a “passion project” for me. I’ve never tried to make money off of it (lol could you imagine) and I haven’t been consistent in my posts for QUITE some time. But I still keep it around because every once in a while I feel like writing a blog post.

That being said, I really feel like I’ll be utilizing this more once the summer hits. So I thought I’d just make this little update post for anyone out there who still checks in on me every once in a while.

MUSIC: Music is one of the things that continues to inspire and motivate me. I’ve gone kind of crazy with making playlists this year (pushing on 90 in total, so says Spotify) and I’ve certainly pulled the occasional accidental all-nighter because I got wrapped up in finding new shit. But I have a lot that I want to share and a lot of half-written blog posts that I want to eventually publish. There’s one in the works about my favorite albums of all-time, and another one of my all-time favorite covers from The Voice that I can’t stop listening to. I also just have a lot of admiration for people who know SO MUCH about music. So, while this certainly isn’t going to turn into a “music blog,” you can definitely expect that in these next few posts.

SCHOOL/TRAVEL: Every semester I get more and more into my major–English Education–which is a good thing, of course. It’d be pretty concerning if I became less interested in it over the years. But in a little over a week, I’ll actually be leaving for Europe to take a two-week course that compares different education systems. Now, this blog also isn’t going to turn into my professional development in that realm (that’s for a separate corner of the Internet where I reside), I will be visiting four countries in two weeks, and then hanging out in Vienna for another week with my family. So, you’ve seen me in Hilton Head. You’ve seen me in Gulf Shores. Get ready to witness me taking on Europe.

TV: Netflix has sort of been killing it with the originals lately. I, along with everyone else, finished Thirteen Reasons Why and definitely had some thoughts. I really don’t know if I’ll post all of that, though, because my journal entry about it ended up being over 3,000 words. You guys don’t want to read that. I also watched BoJack Horseman before that (LOVE, btw) and am now watching Girlboss which makes me want to get bangs and steal stuff. So who knows, maybe I’ll share some opinions on these shows in a bit. Critical thinking can happen everywhere, y’all. Don’t let our hierarchy of culture tell you that we need to bash good television and praise art that makes us feel nothing.

 

LOVE LIFE: 

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READING: Lastly, I’m hoping to read a lot more this summer than I have thus far in 2017. Last semester I was going strong all the way until the end, but the motivation just hasn’t been there lately. However, I did just give a speech on the importance of reading and as I was talking I was just thinking, “shit I need to start practicing what I preach.” So, if anything, this blog might start being book recommendation and review heavy. But, hey, could be worse, right?

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’m twenty-years-old and the world’s lookin bright. If you’ve been following me for a while and like what you just read, I’m happy to have ya around. If you’re bored out of your mind and wanna leave, no scrape off my nose. I’ll probably have to delete this thing or make all the posts private when I start looking for a teaching job in a year and a half, anyway. So let’s live it up while we can.

I mean besides, it’s not like the internet is forever or anything.

Sincerely,

Sammy

[BOOK REVIEW] ME BEFORE YOU

Dear Reader,

Two days ago I went to Books a Million because Me Before You (the film) comes out on Friday and I obviously have to read the book first. Despite having the mission to find and purchase one book, I spent $100 on six (and a membership). But even though my wallet is hurting, my blog will now THRIVE with all the new book reviews, right?

9780718157838-me-before-you-reissue-jacket-2.jpgAnyway, I started Me Before You late that night and in between the chores, grad parties, and now online class that I have to work on, I’ve been reading this all-consuming book.

As an aspiring writer who understands the distance I have to go in order to mature my writing, whenever I read books, I will either underline certain parts or write them in my notes app on my phone or label them with a sticky note to later transfer into my journal where I write my thoughts and reflections after reading a story.

This book was filled with stickies.

JoJo Moyes reminds me of John Green in the sense that her writing–her phrasing, the descriptions, even some of the vocabulary–is so impressive. And maybe part of that is because she’s British and I really enjoyed seeing words like “bloke” and “lardarse” used throughout the book. But it’s also the fact that she is truly a talented writer, and it seems to come across as effortless.

The story itself is beautiful and tragic and thought-provoking and makes you want to talk about things and figure out what you believe. Just reading this story and recognizing when I didn’t like a certain action from a character, but then exploring why and, further, working to see the story from their side as well is eye-opening. It’s a beautiful thing when you get to learn more about yourself by partaking in a 400-page journey.

Reading it sparked at least five new ideas for blog posts that I can think of right now, so there is plenty more I want to say, but I’ll save it for another time. For now, I’m just going to strongly recommend this book to anyone and everyone and I will be first in line for my tickets to the show on Friday.

Also, sorry this isn’t a real review where I tell you what it’s about and the who the characters are and what the biggest problem they face is. I’m just sharing the fact that I loved it and I’ll be writing more on it later to discuss what parts tugged on my heartstrings and filled my eyes with tears.

There’s plenty more to say.

Sincerely,

Sammy

WHAT A WEEKEND

Dear Reader,

This last week has been one of the most stressful yet, and so I took the weekend to just relax and make some good choices. (Relatively) It might not have been the most productive, but I think it was much needed.

We’ll deal with the repercussions later.

I got a little this week and she’s a sarcastic little shit that I love a lot. We bonded over our love of Always Sunny in Philadelphia as well as Vine and Twitter. I found out she loves Kanye just as much as I do, and I ended up making that into our big-little shirts–which she loved and we both got mad compliments on so not too bad for making them on Friday morning.

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On Saturday we had our date party and I once again had the opportunity to go out in a t-shirt and leggings because our theme was “PJ party.” And because I took a friend from high school who I didn’t have to worry about impressing, I didn’t opt for the beloved Victoria Secret robes or short dress-type sleep shirts with phrases like “invitation only” written in cursive. Instead, I went to wal-mart and picked up some Bud Light slippers, matched them with my D.A.R.E shirt from 2007, put my hair in braids, slapped on a sleep mask, and called it a night.

It was beautiful.

I also have been listening to Macklemore’s album on repeat this weekend because I’m in love with it and I decided to rewatch the Office but when I got to the season 2 finale I was so sad about the shitstorm that was about to hit Jim and Pam that I decided to skip ahead a few seasons and watch their wedding episode(s).

Many tears have been shed this weekend.

Oh! And I might do a completely different post about this but I finished listening to “Ready Player One” on Audible (great book by the way) and I’ve discovered how much I love audiobooks. At least when I have headphones, that is. I seem to have lost mine this week (which is the WORST), but when I had them I would listen to the book everywhere I walked–in between classes, walking around the dorm doing laundry, when I went to the gym and decided to try running. Audiobooks make me feel extremely productive and like a multi-tasking champion so 10/10 would recommend.

Let me know if there are any books I should download next. 

So yeah, that was my weekend–the good parts at least. Why recap on the bad?

No, we’re focusing on the good because that’s what made this weekend.

And as far as I want to remember, it was one for the books. 

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK EIGHTEEN: FUN HOME

Dear Reader,

I was reading this book the other day in my living room and my mother walked in and said, “I didn’t know you read comics!”

And because I always say obnoxiously snobby things to her (it’s fine, she loves it, she thinks it’s hilarious) I replied, “oh my god Mom, it’s a graphic NOVEL.

And don’t worry, I’m not about to go into a whole big rant about the proper classification of these books, because honestly I don’t think it’s a big deal what people refer to them as or what stigma they associate with them because a story can be told a million different ways. And some stories are told better in the form of a graphic novel while others are better told in a video format–or others are best told by one person on stage with a microphone, talking to drunk people in a comedy club.

That’s why I love this book so much. Fun Home is a great story. It’s written like a graphic novel (with panels and captions and such), but the writing isn’t what you might expect from a “comic book.” It’s written in a really sophisticated way and it’s actually a lot more words than you might think. Some of the panels are news articles or diary entries or things written in scratchy handwritten notes that you have to try extra hard to make out.

So, while it still only took me a day to get through, it was a lot. It made me think and reflect a lot. And even though it’s an autobiography, it tells much more about the life of her father than her at some points. But it’s all so connected and just truly well done.

Also, it’s been reformatted, in you will, into a Broadway musical (a hit, I should add) and I desperately want to see it. So you can just add that to the list of things in NYC that are taunting me.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Here’s a video of Fun Home’s performance at the Tonys this year that I can’t stop watching.

{ESC} BOOK SEVENTEEN: I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU

Dear Reader,

Merry Christmas Eve! I’m currently partaking in a Mario Kart tournament so I’ll make this book review quick.

I got the book “I Wrote This For You and Only You” as an early Christmas present (thanks Zach!) and I read it in one night. It’s this book of short poems that are each paired with really cool photography and I couldn’t put it down. I was marking the pages with different bookmarks and writing some of my favorites in my journal and all of a sudden it was 2AM.

I mean, it happens.

I’ll probably make another post with a few of my favorite ones, but for now all I want to say is this book is great. A lot of the poems are so deep and thoughtful and choose all the perfect words to say things I’ve felt but could never articulate. There are also other books in this collection and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Alright, I’m going back to my family now, so I’ll just leave with you with this:

“If all you do is making something beautiful for someone else, even if it’s only for a moment, with a single word or small action, you have done a great service.

Because life can be ugly and frustrating and for so many, it is.”

Sincerely,

Sammy

[VIDEO] MY YEAR IN BOOKS

Dear Reader,

Last week I spent way too much time editing and uploading this video of me discussing the 20 books I’ve read so far in 2015 (I’m having a hard time mastering YouTube lol I h8 technology).

Because it’s fifteen minutes long, I don’t expect many people to take the time to watch it, which is why I linked all of my reviews in the description of the video. But, just in case, I thought I would link the video on my blog as well.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Let me know your favorite books from the year/of all time because all I’m asking for for Christmas this year are books and I’m running out of names to give my family members.

PPS. Is it bad that the majority of my family (myself included) hasn’t started our Christmas shopping yet?

{ESC} BOOK SIXTEEN: BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is the story of Gabe, a boy who is about to graduate high school and just got his very own weekly show that he calls “Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.” But the thing that drives the plot of this book is one little detail: Gabe was born a girl.

For as long as he can remember, Gabe has felt like a boy. But because he is in this girl’s body, he is treated differently. He is defined by the people who perceive him as Elizabeth, despite the feelings he has inside.

And isn’t that crazy? That people can be so offended by the way others choose to act? It’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to ask questions and it’s even okay to be ignorant. We all are ignorant at one point or another. There are certain things that you simply may not know until they come up. Until you become educated. But we cannot promote that ignorance. We must always strive to learn–and if we cannot understand, we must at the very least strive to accept.

This is why I love this book. You start the story with a character that you are just now learning about. Someone who has never existed in your mind before. And you see him develop in front of your eyes.

He’s on the air. He’s playing Green Day and Mika.

Now he’s talking to John, his neighbor and idol.

Now he’s talking to a viewer, and we learn his name is Gabe.

We learn more and more about him, this picture of him in our mind is forming, and then, seven pages later, we learn that he was born a girl: Elizabeth.

That’s the wonderful thing about books: we learn the characters from the inside out. And sure, we can learn of their appearance as well, but those are often the details that can be overlooked. Plots are driven by the actions of characters and these actions are driven by who they are and how they think.

And in the case of this book, a lot of the actions are driven by how others feeling about the appearance of Gabe, but that reveals much more about those characters than it reveals about him.

I think that’s a very important lesson that needs to be taught, and I think this book does a very good job teaching it. The characters are vibrant and lovable and the story is heartbreaking but hopeful.

This was a book that I finished in one night, but will stay with me for a very long time.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FIFTEEN: BINGE

Dear Reader,

I absolutely love reading biographical books written by my idols. I love their ability to capture and showcase their voice when telling their own stories. It feels so authentic and personal. I’ve read the autobiographies of Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson–hilarious individuals whose stories have me giggling at the pages even in public. But there’s always more, too. They share their experiences with failure and tell stories that have overarching morals that are applicable to real life. I love it.

And then I read the memoirs of Connor Franta, as you know.

This was the first book I bought that was written by a YouTuber and I was, to say the least, extraordinarily disappointed. I won’t get into it too much (because you can read my other review if you really want a recap of all the corny ways he ended his chapters), but let’s just say I was disappointed.

Then a few months later, after it was heavily recommended by a friend, I decided to pick up yet another book written by a YouTuber: Binge by Tyler Oakley.

Amazing. Hilarious. Inspirational without trying too hard. Real without the forced happy endings. He shared stories that definitely didn’t portray him in the best light, but this only made me adore him even more.

His writing was so authentic and him that it was hard for me to put his book down. The only cons? One, I found two typos which always confuse me because don’t these things get proofread meticulously before getting sent to print? And two, I felt like throwing up the entire time I read the chapter on foot fetishes–but that’s probably just because I hate feet.

But you know what? In Connor’s book I learned lessons like “hop on that high-speed train.” I learned how he was homecoming king and his accomplishments as a competitive swimmer. And I still love Connor, but I felt like he was just shouting inspirational quotes at me and trying to make everything in his 22 years of Earth into a lesson that should be learned.

9781471145131.jpgI learned real things from Tyler.

I learned to “check thyself before you wreck thyself.”

I learned that when life throws a wrench into your plans, you make an IKEA bookshelf–something he demonstrated when interviewing Michelle Obama.

And I learned that you should always try something twice. Sure, he used a story about a guy’s foot fetish to convey that particular message and I felt a bit queasy after that chapter, but I learned something.

He wrote about the times he’s flipped out on restaurant employees, T-Mobile workers, and even fans. He discussed his eating disorder and the desire he had to kill himself and that time when the entire One Direction fandom had #WeWantTylerOakleyDead and #RIPTylerOakleysCareer trending worldwide. He talked about the hardships of his fame and the secret wishes he had (just last year) of his plane rides taking a turn for the worse.

He wrote about life so authentically. He captured both the beauty and the pain and intertwined the two into this beautiful piece of writing.

I feel so much more connected to Tyler as a person and a human being. I love him and appreciate him more than I did just a few days ago, and it’s all because of this book. Sure, he shares his life online with millions of people, but we didn’t really get the full story.

This book gave us that–or at least more of that. I’m sure there are many more stories that could be told to invite us into the real life of Matthew Tyler Oakley.

And maybe one day he’ll bless us all with a sequel.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FOURTEEN: MORE HAPPY THAN NOT

Dear Reader,

This isn’t the fourteenth book I’ve read this year, but I’ve been really slacking on book reviews. So I’m getting back into the swing of things with–I kid you not–the best book I’ve read this year.

If you’re not familiar with the way that I do most of my reviews, I hate spoilers. So, I try to give as little information as possible, while still recommending the good books that I stumble upon. The reason is because I absolutely love indulging in a story with absolutely no idea where it will take me.

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So here’s what I will say: I am in a class this year that is helping us future teachers be able to implement different reading material into the curriculum in order to relate to more diverse audiences. All I knew of this book was that it is about a guy who is coping with his father’s suicide with the help of his girlfriend, but he starts becoming confused when he starts talking to this new guy.

Sounds kind of interesting, right? Eh, maybe not. I even thought it wasn’t the most gripping story before I read it. But I honestly couldn’t put it down and started gasping and making exclamations when things happened–which is how you really know I was lost in the story. I even cried in the suite (discreetly, I might add) because I couldn’t hold back. Who knows how many tears would’ve come out if I were alone.

But I really, really don’t want to say more–not that there’s not more to say, but because everyone gets one chance to read this book for the first time. And I have a problem with over-promoting my recent obsessions to the point where they can’t possibly meet the expectations of those I recommend them to, but I don’t think that’s the case with this. I truly think this is a story that will stick with any reader for a long time. I think it’s shocking and touching, but also heart-breaking as well as eye-opening.

Basically, I’m just really excited to use this in my future classrooms and I can’t wait for the conversation it’s sure to provoke. And I understand that this book deserves a much better review, so I’ve made one. It doesn’t have spoilers necessarily (don’t worry, I won’t give away the ending), but if you don’t want to read a book with such little information, then you can go ahead and check it out here, using the password: esc (I hope this works… I’ve never done this before) 

Anyway, I really, really hope you read this. And I hope you love it as much as I do because I certainly played it up enough.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK TWELVE: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (and intro to my own Happiness Project)

Dear Reader,

I adore this book. I picked it up at a bookstore in Columbus (post about that road trip coming soon) and immediately started reading it when I got home. And I don’t mark in every book I buy, but about four pages in, I knew I would have to for this.

Whether or not you want to start your own happiness project, I would recommend that you read this book. It’s full of awesome quotes, really cool resources (how did I not know about the website lulu.com???), and good tips on how you should go about making yourself happier. I finished this book last night and I already have a mental list of people I want to lend this to to read, as well as an actual list of resolutions I want to start implementing in my life.

In 16 days, I go back to school. And while I’m extremely excited, I’m also kind of nervous as well. I haven’t talked about it on here yet (though I’m sure I alluded to it), but freshman year was really hard for me. I found myself struggling with feelings of unhappiness and signs of depression–which was very new to me. But this year, I’m determined to be better.

So today, on August 1st, 2015, I am starting my own Happiness Project. I may not be as prepared as Gretchen was when she started hers, and it may seem kind of weird to start a year-long project in August, but waiting until January seems dumb to me. I don’t want to wait. I can’t wait.

So today, it begins.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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