Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And So It Begins (Again)

Ah, the delights of an approaching September.  The sounds of cheering fans from the football stadium a mile south of my house, the smell of new books and freshly sharpened pencils, and the days slowly becoming shorter and shorter until the leaves turn red or gold and fall to the ground.  Isn’t the beginning of a new school year kind of fun?  There are so many things to hate about school, but also so many things to love about it.  New people to meet, a new season around the corner (followed by the three most fun holidays ever), and apparently new television shows, which I don’t know much about because I don’t actually watch that much TV. 
I thought a list would be fun for today.  If you leave a comment, let me know what your favorites are. 

My Favorite Back to School Books  
One of my favorites!  Who doesn't remember having a day like this?
Elementary School: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day
                     Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
                     Miss Nelson Is Missing
                     Anything Harry Potter (What’s more fun than a school much more exciting than your own?)

Middle School: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series(Ok, technically this could go Elementary, but I love it)
                         Sweet Valley High (very girly, fair warning)
                         The Diary of Anne Frank (might have to read this anyway)
                         R.L. Stine (he has a line of scary books for young adults)

High School: Sleeping Freshman Never Lie (this is one of my all-time favorites)
                      The Uglies (Westerfield is one of my favorite authors)
                      Twilight (I know, so cliché.  But I also really think it touches on that young adult feel)
And a slew of teenage movies about the loveliness of high school:
                        Mean Girls (This is actually a lot less shallow than it looks)
                        Ferris Bueler’s Day Off
                        Can’t Buy Me Love
Ok, that’s the extent of my lists today.  To all of you starting school, good luck.  I’m starting too – today.  I’m excited and nervous and all kinds of anxious at the prospect of going back to school.  It makes it extra nice to have a supportive guy by my side, cheering me on (minus the skirt and pom-poms). 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back In The Day

What I’m Listening To Right Now: If I Die Young, The Band Perry
Mood I’m In Today: Reading 

Ah, back from vacation and not a smidgen more creative for it.  Nothing is flowing; I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.  Yuck. 

However, I did read a fantastic book during this marvelous road trip.  The Old Willis Place, by Mary Downing Hahn.  I absolutely love this author, and first fell in love with her books when I read Wait ‘Till Helen Comes when I was ten.  She tells the best ghost stories in the world, and she can make you feel like you are there, from the smell of the air to the chill of the wind.  The Old Willis Place is now my favorite book by Hahn.  I love the characters, and I came close to tears a couple times.  My husband loved it (he made me read it out loud) and it’s now his favorite as well.  If you need a spooky book, but don’t like those intense, ultra-creepy kind, this is a good book for you. 

The main character, Diana, is twelve years old in the book. Her brother, Georgie, is ten.  She takes care of him on the farm where they live.  When the new caretaker comes, he brings his daughter with him, another twelve-year-old girl who Diana immediately wants to become friends with.  But there are complications, and she is soon involved in a nail-biting adventure that reveals the truth about everything that’s happening around her. 

It made me think of when I was twelve.  Holy cow, that was a long time ago.  At that age, friends were important, and I was just starting to break away from my need of family.  I started noticing boys, and how completely incompetent I was when it came to communicating with one.  It’s so funny…when I look back on how scared I used to be.  I probably didn’t need to be so freaked out. 

Ok, so I was a little bit shallow.  But I worked really hard, and started to find out what I enjoyed.  English was my favorite subject, and my favorite class.  I had been placed in the honors English class, which was a double-edged sword.  It was challenging, and I learned a lot, but I also became discouraged because I was at the bottom of the class.  It frustrated me to death that everyone around me could read faster than I could.  Going from top of the class to the bottom wasn’t exactly heartening. 

I experienced other things that made me not so shallow, however.  I’d already seen an uncle and two grandparents die, and the next year would go to yet another funeral.  Since then I’ve lost three cousins and a third grandparent.  I also saw friends fall to things like drinking, teen pregnancy, and experimentation with drugs.  I’d like to say it made me more aware as a person.  I would often notice when people around me looked troubled, but I didn’t always say.  I had this gigantic fear of offending people, and I’m not sure why.  Sure, I probably would have offended some people, but I think I would have also made some really good friends, and possibly even helped someone out. 

I think there’s a lot of that “helping a friend out” going on in this book, so definitely give it a read if you haven’t already.  And until next time, here’s the Mary Downing Hahn website.  Enjoy!