Saturday, December 31, 2011

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Being Grateful.

2011 has been an interesting year for me and mine.  We have had a rough few years due to circumstances out of our control, but I always take comfort in the fact that The Hubs and I continue to remain happy and strong when we are together, no matter what life throws our way.  Thankfully, this has been a pretty good year, a crazy year, a year full of changes and new jobs and books upon books upon books, and I really couldn't be happier.  Lots of great things planned for 2012, so I really hope the world doesn't end.

I would like to thank all of you out there who've read my blog craziness over the years as well.  I love having an outlet with which to express myself, and I never imagined anyone would read this besides The Hubs or my mom or something.  So, from the bottom of my heart, no matter how you came to read this, thank you for taking the time to make me feel just a little bit important.  I am so very grateful.

Please enjoy this mega-cuteness from Zooey and Joseph.  See you next year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why I Love Being Called a Nerd aka Thank You, John Green

Two quotes (and the videos in which they appear) from the incomparable John Green about why I value and embrace my nerdiness.

"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself.”

"...nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff!  We don't have to be like, 'Oh yeah, that purse is okay,' or like, 'Yeah, I like that band's early stuff.'  Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff,’ which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Review of "Young Adult" or Why I Needed This Movie Right Now

I was joking on Twitter with my buddy Nick that Young Adult should be titled Jessica's Movie.  Anyone who knows me at all, whether IRL or not, knows that I love YA and I love quirky, awkward movies.  My want to see this movie was a no brainer.

Needless to say, I loved this movie in all its uncomfortable, awkward, realistic and unrealistic glory.  What I didn't realize was that it would leave me feeling elated and depressed, a brilliant mix of sad/happy in the best way.  As I walked across the parking lot immediately post-movie, I was overwhelmed with the urge to simultaneously laugh and cry, both hysterically.  

Here's the part where I try to explain myself...

Mavis Gray, the "heroine" of the film, is a YA (ghost) writer for a series that has seen more popularity in its past than it's seeing now.  In fact, her series is being cancelled, and she's currently working on the last story.  She lives in Minneapolis in a high-rise apartment with her Pekingese, she drinks Diet Coke and all other alcoholics beverages fairly heavily, she hates her life just as much as she loves it, and, after receiving a birth announcement email, she becomes obsessed with winning back her high school boyfriend, even though he's happily married with a brand new baby girl.  Mavis sees all of these facts as non-important, as things he can overcome, because she knows deep in his heart that he's just as unhappy as she is and that all will be fixed when they are together.  So she returns to her small Minnesota hometown to win Buddy back, fully believing that she will be successful in a matter of days.

Clearly, Mavis is mentally unstable.

That's the beauty of Mavis, though.  Her instability is so far out there, but it's so relatable as well.  I'm not saying that I want to win back anyone from my past (because, uh, do you see who I married?  SO the man for me!!) but that yearning to recapture a time when you felt invincible certainly sounds appealing.  Throughout the course of the film, she is absolutely out of control, vindictive, brash, bawdy, inappropriate, and totally unlike anyone I actually know in real life... but I feel like I know what she's going through.

Becoming an adult is painfully hard and extremely awkward, especially becoming an adult outside of the town in which you grew up, especially when you grew up in what's considered a "small town."  While my hometown is technically Richmond (not a "small town" by any stretch of the imagination), I grew up in a small district that operated just as a small town operates.  Because of this, whenever I return to this part of Richmond, I have a tendency to return to the Jessica of those days of yore.  This is partially of my own volition due to years of feeling that this is the Jessica that people expect, but also... I feel I have to be the Jessica they expect.

Recently, I have been thinking about my personal Arrested Development very often, wondering why I do this, wondering why people treat me this way, wondering why I allow people to treat me this way.  I think that everyone obviously grows and changes and adapts as time goes by, and this growth and change and adaptation should be acknowledged and allowed rather than looked at with confusion.  I should be allowed to be my true self, no matter what version of Jessica you've met along the way.  And I shouldn't be chastised for being myself.  Frankly, if you don't like what I say or how I act or who I am... then why are you friends with me?

...Am I still talking about the movie?  Sort of.  Let's get back on track, shall we?  Great.

Charlize Theron is just incredible in this, giving life and layers to a character that could so easily be one-sided and awful.  You're not supposed to like her, but you do just as much as you don't.  And Patton Oswalt?  Oh. Wow.  Perfection.  I really want him to win all the awards for this.  ALL of them.  The script is pitch-perfect, as I expect from Diablo Cody, and it all fits together just as it should.  It doesn't end all wrapped in a little bow, but that's exactly how it should be.  I cannot think of another way to say it, but I loved it.  I really, really needed this movie in my life right at this very moment.  Not only because the girl at the ticket counter ACTUALLY CARDED ME to make sure I was over 17. Seriously, that happened.

In short, I predictably and unpredictably adored Young Adult.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Childhood Books

There is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish called Top Ten Tuesday.  Every Tuesday, they ask YA book bloggers to post their Top Ten of whatever that week's theme is.  This week's theme is Top Ten Childhood Favorites (which, incidentally, was the *first* TTT theme, so they reposted it since they thought more people would participate this time around).  In reading the many different lists, I was inspired to post my own.  SO, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my Top Ten Favorite Books From My Childhood.

1. Tuck Everlasting

Holy crap, I love this book like it's my job.  I've read it more times than I can remember.  Thinking back, this story has probably influenced  my current reading habits much more than I ever realized.  Even in elementary school, I adored how (mild spoiler alert) it ends on kind of a downer, and yet it's still so hopeful.

2. The Baby-Sitters Club

Oh, I read them all.  Every single one.  Every book, every special edition, every anthology, even every Baby-Sitters Little Sister.  I even owned the game pictured.  I bet it's still at my parents' house in my closet right now.  I may or may not have tried to get my parents to take me on a trip to Stoneybrook, CT as well.  (P.S. it's not real so don't ask.)  My personal favorite was Stacey because she was super fashionable and she lived in Manhattan and dotted her i's and lower case j's with hearts.  However, I always loved that Mary Anne, the plainest girl in the eternal 8th grade, was able to bag a hottie like Logan Bruno.  Good for you, girl!

3. Sweet Valley Twins, more specifically Jessica's New Look

Obviously, this Jessica was a huge fan of the Wakefield twins, seeing as one of them has my name and all.  Why this one in particular?  Well, much like my girl Jessica, I also had to get glasses.  However, this book came out about 2 years before my glasses initiation, but I always knew it wasn't far away.  I must have read this one a billion times.  Freakin' glasses.

4. The Secret Garden

I distinctly remember this being one of the first books that wasn't a school summer list read or a BSC/Sweet Valley book that I chose myself.  I just started reading it on a whim, and I couldn't stop.  It's where my love of the UK began, frankly.  I wanted to live in a big manor house out in the English countryside with beautiful gardens and foggy moors and a dude named Dickon to teach me about animals.  And also a really demanding cousin.  Have you ever seen the 1993 movie?  It's amazing.  Dame Maggie Smith is in it, and she rules.  My mom also took me to see the musical when the touring company came to Richmond.

5. Bridge to Terabithia

Truly, truly, truly one of my favorite books on the planet still to this very moment.  I first read this in the 4th or 5th grade, and I swear I cried in class because I was so wrapped up in the characters.  This was the very first book that made me realize just how much words can affect your heart.  Amazing.

6. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

I mean, come on.  This one just sells itself in title alone.

7. Wayside School is Falling Down

This is the silliest book ever, and that's why I adore it.  In a complete turnabout of my usual character, I read this without having first read Sideways Stories From Wayside School (aka the first book).  However, that didn't really matter.  I would still rock a shirt that says, "Star Bringing Purple!"

8. A Light In The Attic

I seriously cannot choose my favorite poem.  Everyone loves Shel.

9. The Monster at the End of this Book

My dad used to read this one to me all the time, and his voice would get progressively higher and more nervous and it was hilarious.  He's not a big reader at all, but he always read to us.  That's important.

10. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

All girls of a certain age have read this.  Fact.  I think it's like required.  It's terrifying in its description of maxi pads on belts.  BELTS. WHAT DID THOSE GIRLS LIVE THROUGH? Oh, I'm still totally wigged out.

What about you?  What are your favorite books from childhood?