Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nerd Love

Today I got up early to search for a dress at Forever21. Of course, the store didn't have the one I liked online, but they did have a sweater that says BE YOU on the front. I bought it to be worn with a denim mini and pink tights.

As I then made my way to Newbury Comics to purchase the new Angel and Faith comic I started thinking about this in terms of John Green's quote about being a nerd. He says:

“…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about 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’.” 

And I've been letting myself believe this more and more lately. My room is covered in posters, I don't hide my Buffy love (and neither does Operation Awesome), my passion for YA lit or my adoration of dorky heart-shaped sunglasses.

But being you is about more than just unabashedly loving stuff. It's about not conforming yourself to fit the way you think other people want you to be.

And I'm still learning that six years after high school.

But I'll talk about Doctor Who to anyone who asks.

How about you? What stuff do you love? 

Win two books!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Defense of Libararies

I was wandering Boston with a friend yesterday when she informed me that she'd never been inside the BPL. I was totally shocked. I practically lived there last year, and this year I alternate between there and the light-filled Cambridge library. A whole shelf of my bookshelf is library books, and I'd never be able to support my book habit otherwise.

My library love is come by honestly, Dad took me there all the time as a kid, but my love truly emerged in Oxford. There it was usual, expected even, for one to do all one's work in the library. You can't check books out of the Bodelian, so I spent many happy days there copying things out of books. It made things easier when any books I bought I wouldn't be able to take home anyway.

My friend's reaction made me realize not everyone feels like this. I guess people need to support bookstores (not that I don't) but to me it's like Netflixing a video. Half the time if I like a movie or tv show I buy it anyway, and multiple people who produced the things I love get rewarded.

But others may not see it this way. They may not want to read a book people have sneezed on before, or whatever.

How about you? Do you go to the library or prefer the bookstore?

And don't forget to go here to enter my September two-book contest!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two Books, One Contest!

Since I'm so late with this, a lucky follower will win two disability-related books this month!

The first is Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, which I reviewed here.

Goodreads Summary:
Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school—but no one knows it. Most people—her teachers and doctors included—don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she can't, because Melody can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.
Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

And Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Goodreads Summary:
Shawn McDaniel is an enigma and a miracle—except no one knows it, least of all his father. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like. In this extraordinary and powerful first novel, the reader learns to look beyond the obvious and finds a character whose spirit is rich beyond imagining and whose story is unforgettable.

My life is like one of those "good news-bad news" jokes. Like, "I've got some good news and some bad news—which do you want first?"

I could go on about my good news for hours, but you probably want to hear the punch line, my bad news, right? Well, there isn't that much, really, but what's here is pretty wild. First off, my parents got divorced ten years ago because of me. My being born changed everything for all of us, in every way. My dad didn't divorce my mom, or my sister, Cindy, or my brother, Paul—he divorced me. He couldn't handle my condition, so he had to leave. My condition? Well, that brings us to the guts of my bad news.

Two books that are about non-verbal children with Cerebral Palsy, but are incredibly different in tone. I can't wait to hear others' comparisons of them!

To win:

1. Be a follower of the blog
2. Comment on this post.

The winner will be announced on September 30th!

Book Musings: Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Up to about seventy pages into this book I wanted to burn it. 

It's a book told from the first-person point of view of a child with cerebral palsy, but her voice sounds more like an adult's view of a child's voice. Lots of exclamation points and syntax I wouldn't attribute to an eleven-year-old. The only way I could explain it was that this kid is shown to have spent most of her time with adults, and probably a good amount with condescending ones, so maybe she picked up their speech patterns. However, it's supposed to be written by her at the end of the novel after she's spent a good amount of time with other kids, so maybe not. 

Aside from this unfortunate issue, the book is a good and thought provoking one. Melody is severely disabled, but becomes increasingly mainstreamed in school after she receives a special computer that speaks for her. The discrimination she still faces at school is extremely heartbreaking, and the author does not tie everything up into a nicely wrapped package, which I'm grateful for. Melody's life is affected by her family and friends just as much as by her disability. 

However, several elements of this book are very similar to Stuck in Neutral , a novel about a non-verbal child with CP aimed at a higher age group, and for anyone older I'd recommend that one. (Interestingly, both authors contend that these children have increased memory capacity, particularly for words. Can someone tell me if that's actually a thing?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Oh Grey's Anatomy, you are playing with my heart. If they lose that baby for keepsies it might be the one thing that makes me stop watching. But I have high hopes it won't go that way, mostly because thinking about it made me realize you've never truly let me down--unless someone left the show and we're not talking about that.

2. I went down to the mail room a few minutes ago to pick up my packages and not only did I get the Grey's Season Seven DVDs I expected, but I also had a copy of Looking for Alaska (I've read it, I just didn't own it) and my "Keep Calm and DFTBA" poster. Nerdfighters, represent!! (For those of you who didn't get this at all I send you here).

3. Last night, a group of us Children's Lit kids went up to Cheesecake Factory for a birthday dinner. One of the girls had bought Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present for all of us to sign. Of course, we annotated it. It's a picture book from 1962, there are SO MANY things about it that can be hilarious, from the creepy anthropomorphic rabbit on. Anyway, we made the birthday girl read it allowed complete with commentary. A few minutes later, a couple that had been seated nearby began to leave and the man came over and said, "We enjoyed the book!"


4.Did I ell you about the library books! I requested a ton of books from the Cambridge Library thinking they'd be slow as molasses like the Boston Library and trickle in at a steady rate.

Oh no. No they had to be all conscientious and stuff.

So, Wednesday afternoon, me, my backpack and a tote lugged back an impressive stack of books that we added to the Library Shelf (arranged by due date). You guys will soon have all the reviews!

ALSO watch this blog, the September contest will be announced tomorrow!

 This might be the funniest thing EVER:


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

After the Wedding

We piled into the car after the wedding. To give you an idea of the state of the union, one of us (not me) had stolen two leftover bottles of wine from the bar, and Brian later said: "Three drunk girls in the car. I expected pee breaks, maybe the occasional puke break."

What he didn't expect was the blood.

I was lying in the backseat of the car against Marla, and my arm caught either on her purse or the seriously hardcore zipper of my adorable jacket-thing. I sat up somewhere between Nowheresville USA and Atlanta.

"Oh my God," Marla said. "Your arm is bleeding."

"Oh that's just norm--nope, not normal at all."

I had totally gashed my arm open. (For the record? NOTHING in the universe is more sobering). I definitely knew I needed to go to the ER. But having never lived in Atlanta past the age of 21 and always going to the children's hospital meant I had no idea where to go.

I decided to call the doctor I'd gotten close to over my years there. But my phone, as you may recall, resembled a doorstop more than an iPhone at the moment. I had to call my mother.

I always plan to make this cal after I'm done with the ER, safe and sound. It never works this way.

"Mom, I gashed my arm open. Can you hack into my contacts and get Dr. S's cell?"


"All you have is his work number. I have his cell."

NB: she only met the man once. I spent a semester seeing him almost every morning. Why she had his cell and I didn't remains one of the mysteries of life.

My doctor's first question? "Chelsey, was there drinking involved?"

"Okay, but see, here's the thing: i didn't fall! I didn't do anything!"

Which is, actually, depressingly true.

Dr. S directed me to Northside Hospital. We got there after stopping by Sonya's apartment for her to put on jeans and me to get a new contact (mine had OF COURSE fallen out)

In the ER I gave my connective-tissue-disorder-bruise-and-tear-easily spiel to a nurse who said, brilliantly, "Wow! You must have to be very careful!"

Thanks. That made me feel so much better about the gash in my arm.

Then she leaned in and squinted at my nose. "If you tear easily, why get a piercing?"

Seriously. Seriously!?

I said something like, "Oh, it didn't tear," and she disappeared.

A very nice med student took care of me and I received 24 stitches as my wedding party favor.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Road to Washington (Georgia)

Today and tomorrow's posts will detail my trek to Georgia for my friend's wedding. Trust me, it was quite the adventure.

I flew up to Atlanta on Wednesday to spend time with other friends before the ceremony, and also because I could since I only have classes on Tuesdays.

Saturday morning, a group of us piled into the car en route to Washington, Georgia, a town of very few people, midway between Augusta and Athens. The bride, my "panhellenic" big sister (meaning, she wasn't in my sorority, but she took Freshman me under her wing, and we've been close ever since) had often told me she grew up in the country, but I'd never quite country.

There are four of us in the car, all from our undergrad. Sonya, my best friend and host for the weekend, Marla my actual sorority little sister and Bryan, a guy who everyone from school except Marla and I knew. (This? doesn't make much of a difference at my undergrad.  Thursday, a girl I'd never met recognized me after she sat down at a table near me at a cafe this week and immediately we bonded over the quirks of our university).

We hit the highway, already almost-late. Speeding on 85 is expected anyway. We were fine.

Then we turned on to GA-316.

This? Made me look up the definition of the word "highway" APPARENTLY it is only a "main road for vehicles" which 316 may satisfy, if you squint. In my opinion, two lanes and exits at traffic lights isn't a highway. It's a road, surrounded by cows and some very sketchy gas stations. But, whatever, we cruised down it, making our way to Washington. We turned onto Highway 78, which the address on the invitation gave as the street name for the church.

And then the GPS said "You have reached your destination."

At an intersection.

Nary a church in sight.

We kept going. Marla yelled "Church!" every few minutes, but never the right church. This is the south.

At a gas station, Bryan asked for directions. They directed us back to the intersection. We drove past a (the?) high school and an empty-seeming downtown. We were all pretty sure the church didn't exist. I thought we might be entering horror-movie territory and felt rather nervous as, unless you're in Joss Whedonia, The Blonde always dies first.

Our friends, who had arrived slightly-less-late than us, informed us that the wedding had ended. So we decided to go onto the reception. We plugged Country Club Road into the GPS and set off.

At one point, the arrow on the GPS spun around and pointed back at us.

We soon approached Country Club Road (CCR, if you will). We missed the turn initially, but on the second go discovered....

An abandoned old country club and a few power lines blocking a dirt road.

City girl that I am, I took out my iPhone to google an alternative address. The phone couldn't take the lack of civilization.

It died.

Sonya called our other friends. They told her the country club would be easy to find.....

It was just past the church.

She shrieked and hung up on them.

(At this point, three days later, I'm still not sure that church exists. We NEVER saw it)

Eventually, after passing umpteen million "Welcome to Washington!" and "You are now leaving Washington!" signs as we circled the postage-stamp sized town, we made our way back to downtown. Sonya got out to ask for directions.

The woman who helped her saw her dress and exclaimed, "Oh! Y'all must be going to the reception!"

THE reception. The only event in town. Again, in the movies when it is the only event in a small southern town, you'd better not drink the kool-aid.

Her directions of right at the McDonald's, then another left, then pray to God and do a rain dance worked perfectly. We arrived at the reception before the bride and groom (though not long before).

And believe you me, we drank PLENTY of the kool-aid. Still, all too soon, it was time to begin the journey home....

The adventure had barely begun.

(For the record? The moral of this story is When you are driving around Nowhere, Georgia, put the name of the location into the GPS, not the address. There is more than one Country Club Road.

But no church. Ever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Musings: Hell Week

Hell Week (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs Evil)

I am sure I'm not the first person to describe this book as "Veronica Mars meets Buffy", nor will I be the last. For a girl who has spent the summer obsessed with the Slayer, and who is more likely to pop in a V*Mars DVD than to ever tune into Jersey Shore, that combination won me over completely. Clement-Moore lands the snarky voice, awesome family dynamic and mystery of Veronica, with the cool underworld mystery of the Buff.

This book also hit seriously close to home. I'm a sorority girl, a Sigma even (the sorority in the novel is Sigma Alpha Xi, I'm Sigma Sigma Sigma Sigma) and the opening scene set in a recruitment party made me believe Clement-Moore had gone to my school.... I guess Rush is the same in most small schools, but still. The little details, from sundresses to name tags, were eerily familiar. And that's the strength of this book. It's so, so well grounded in the real world, with a well-fleshed out setting and wonderful characters. The reader goes right along with the supernatural elements, because the real-world elements are just that--real. It could be an episode in one of the above TV shows, but in book form.

I haven't read the other Maggie Quinn books yet, but I've requested them all from the library!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Father Mychael


That's not all I have to say about 9/11. For unknown reasons Maureen Johnson's post made me think of my 9/11 hero, a man who I knew nothing about until this summer but who, to me, represents an evolutionary step toward what I want the world to be.

Father Mychael Judge was a priest, and the chaplain for the FDNY. He was also victim number 001 on that day ten years ago. He was also homosexual. This New York Times article tells his story better than I ever could.

Obligatory 9/11 Post

Sometimes it feels redundant to make yearly posts like this, particularly because Meg Cabot sums the whole thing up so beautifully in this post, which she reposts yearly. Please go read her post to memorialize the thousands of wonderful people we lost and the tragic, and yet inspirational, effect this had on a city I didn't get to know until after the attacks.

I don't have the knowledge to do that.

What I can reflect about is this:  it's been ten years. The world has changed immeasurably, and I think I finally have to accept that it's not going to go back.

I have a different perspective than a lot of people whose blogs I've read about this.

I was twelve years old the day the planes hit the towers, and I didn't understand it at all.

I remember little things. A classmate asking why, because this Osama guy must be rich, we couldn't just bomb his mansion. My aide asking my ex-navy teacher if he was okay, and not quite understanding why he wouldn't be. My sister telling me that with two bases nearby, we'd be next. George Bush mispronouncing terrorist as "tourist" and being amused by that.

All of these are stupid, self-oriented things, and by default this post will be somewhat selfish because that's how I perceived 9/11. I saw the way it altered my world. At twelve, I definitely didn't fully-comprehend the amount of deaths, or what this meant for the country.

I was growing up in the barely-post Clinton era. I feared school shootings and bomb threats, in the abstract. But really, I'd never been anything but safe. Then this happened and the world became unsafe. But stubborn kid that I was, I kept expecting things to revert and go my way.

We wouldn't always be forced to take our shoes off at TSA screenings.

One day you'd be able to meet people at the gate again.

We'll destroy Al-Queda, the war will end, and we'll stop talking about it.

None of that has happened. And the way I see it, ten years from now maybe the world will have progressed. Maybe someone will acknowledge we're a global society and some restraints will be lifted, but the knowledge and memory of this time will be there. Nothing will be as carefree again.

We'll have lost a lot of trust. As a kid, I remember going through security to meet people at the airport. It was an adventure, not an inconvenience. And I think that can be said about a lot of things these days.

Maybe that's the crux of my wish for the world in another ten years. I hope we learn to trust again, the way a twelve-year-old kid did until a group of terrorists with a name she couldn't pronounce changed her entire world.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Five!

1. I'm not going to lie, I spent a significant amount of this afternoon watching Muppet Classic Theater on Youtube. I really wish more studios would realize how much they could benefit from having older movies available to stream/download. At the moment, only Muppets From Space and Sesame Street are available on Netflix Instant Watch. Most of the 90s movies I'd love to see again aren't on there, either. Nickelodeon cottoned onto the nostalgic tendencies of my generations and put Nicktoons on there. I wish other people would.

Mostly, I am DYING to watch Space Jam.

2. This Disability Scoop article discusses possible ways Apple may be making their technology usable for people with disabilities. This is stellar. I know a lot of people with dexterity issues who would benefit from this. Personally, I have issues typing on my iPad because of the skin on my hands touching the screen by accident, so I understand the frustrations people face.

3. I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season yesterday (while I hobbled to my room in not-yet-worn-in-boots.) It's officially autumn here and now that I know more people here I'm hoping to really Massachusetts it up this season. I want to go apple picking and visit Salem and all kinds of things! Also, pumpkin bread. Lots of pumpkin bread.

4. I'm going to Atlanta for a wedding next week. I'll  have to transition back to hot weather (fall appears there some time in November. Maybe.) but I'll be going to see one of my best friends take a huge step in her life. Lately, I'm starting to realize how long I've known some of the important people in my life, and how long I WILL know them. One of my guy friends and I just realized that next year we'll have known each other for ten years, and that goes for everyone I started high school with. Wow.

5. Speaking of things I did ten years ago, this comic describes basically every conversation I have with my youngest nephew.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things That Haven't Changed

This is how I spent my afternoon. But I HAVE SHELVED BOOKS:

Things Book People Love

My last package from home (made up of things I forgot or that wouldn't fit in the suitcase) arrived today. This means I have ALL THE BOOKS.

Well. Not really. I have all the books I keep at school, which s only about maybe fifteen percent or less of all the books I own. BUT STILL.

I get to organize them!

Last year I did not have bookshelves. I had the shelf above my desk, and the rest of m books were stuck places. On the dresser, above the fridge, on the desk. They tended to make tall piles and fall from these places and generally make me feel cluttered and annoyed.

But now I have TWO bookshelves and I get to organize my books and put them on them so they are pretty!!!

What random book things make you excited?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

Dear Self,

Blog More.

Love, Me.

Anyway, today's YA Highway question is a really interesting one:

What non-YA character would you love to see star in a YA book as themselves?

There are SO many possibilities, but I'mma be my predictable self.

Meredith Grey

I mean I've even written fanfic featuring teenage Meredith. All dark and twisty with pink hair, a totally absent mother who's a surgeon, a vast amount of medical knowledge she tries to repress...

Yeah, teenage Meredith would be a fabulous YA character.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Whoa. Way to reconfigure, blogger. It'll take some adjusting to, but I'm not going to sit here and declaim against the change. That's the one thing that bugs me most about humans and our reaction to change, particularly on the internet. It's so inconsistent. We exclaim over the newest Apple device, but God forbid Facebook change its layout. What gives with this do you think?

2. It's been a surprisingly long time since I've had a really good Chelsey Gets Lost story, but yesterday I did. Trying to meet my friend at the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square, I plugged it into my phone. Mind, I knew there was an Au Bon Pain, but because I usually frequent the indie shops or the Starbucks in The Garage, I didn't remember where it was.

My phone sent me IN CIRCLES before I realized it had me going to the wrong place. I plugged it in again, finally remembering the place is on Mass Ave. Then it AGAIN sends me in the opposite direction down back roads. I realize there are two Au Bon Pains on Mass Ave about .3 miles from each other. Yeah. Luckily, it sent me close to Club Oberon, the route to which I know like the back of my hand so I corrected. But it made me remember my Google-map equipped phone CANNOT read my mind, and I cannot rely on it.

Also even with it, I get lost like it's my job.

3. Said friend and I went to the Cambridge Public Library and...guys...I think I may cheat on my lover, the Boston Public Library, with the CPL.

This is the teen room:

And this is the children's FLOOR:

LOOK AT ALL THE LIGHT! It's like all the light I don't have in my bedroom here went there.... This library is reason number eleven hundred to get an apartment in Cambridge.

4. I miscalculated the day classes start. Thus, I have a further week off than I expected. Hopefully I'll be able to put my nose to the grindstone and get some writing done. A mini-NaNoWriMo, except without a full novel, obviously.

5. It's Labor Day Weekend and I am most excited about going to my friends' new apartment to have a Buffy marathon with them. Oh the life of a twenty-two year old geek girl.... :D