Archive for June, 2009


some things I would like to do once in my life

June 24, 2009

– drive from Goshen to Camp Friedenswald in an old-style convertible on a clear day in October, with my hair held back by one of those 50s scarf things and a good friend in the driver’s seat

– get married to a man who looks good in vests

– sail around the Mediterranean on one of those boats where you actually have to do the work yourself

– visit the White House

– pick peaches in Georgia

– ride in one of those tiny little airplanes like they use in the Gods Must Be Crazy II

– take a hot air balloon ride over the cornfields of the midwest

– make my own homemade sausage

– have a meaningful conversation with an author I deeply admire

– fly to Europe in the first class section (preferably in one of those planes where you have your own bed

– live in Seattle

– visit Paris with several girl friends and spend our time in cafes and walking down streets wearing skirts


busted alternators and fresh strawberries

June 18, 2009

I don’t think I have mentioned that I have been dealing with some major car issues as of late.  But to make a long story short, after some issues with stalling out (and then mysteriously restarting) I took my little Prism to the tried and true O&J Auto.  Where I relieved the news that there were around 1,500 bucks worth of repairs needed including a clutch leak, tune-up, bad wipers, busted alternator and loose spring on the rear struts.  After much hemming and hawing and discussion, I decided that despite the age of the car I should go ahead and repair.  But my Dad being the wonderful (and thrifty) person that he is thought that he and I could probably replace the alternator ourselves, saving around $150.  Which explains why I just spend the past 3 1/2 hours driving my car back to Goshen, trailing a slight burning smell (thanks to the busted alternator) behind me.

Usually I am not a fan of driving distances longer than an hour by myself.  I have a tendency to get sleepy and a bit bored on long solo car trips.  But this time I didn’t get sleepy, but entertained myself by singing random hymns to myself (mashing together parts of verses and repeating the familar choruses), and just took time to think and pray a bit (I mean I was essentially driving on my battery alone!).  The singing and thinking got me to Elkhart, where I stopped and visited my Mom and the seminary where she works.  I got to see the full tour (including the awesome new library) and then run into a wide variety of old friends from high school and college.  After the tour, Mom tipped me off to a produce stands selling flats of fresh strawberries for $24 and so now I am sitting on my parents’s couch, with my sheets in their washer, and a few of these as pre-dinner snacks.


round 2: YA fiction

June 2, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid:

Diary of a Wimpy KidI think this book truly captures the incredible self-centered nature of many teenagers, while at the same time creating a character that everyone will relate to in some way.  In middle school, Greg’s main concerns revolve around hair-brained plots to increase his popularity, playing video games, and avoiding his parents.  In other words, it is incredibly easy to understand why this book (and the resulting series) has become so incredibly popular both in elementary schools and the adult section of the library.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging:

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal SnoggingJust as Diary captures the mind of a middle school boy, this book perfectly captures the early high school female brain.  While all of us may not have had the same experiences or the same insane cat, most women who read this book will identify with the swirling thoughts and zany actions of Georgia Nicolson.  Set in Britain and shock full of British slang, another great part of this book is the hilarious glossary in the back.  While not heavy in good writing or stunning plot lines, this book is highly readable and as my friends can attest literally laugh out loud funny.

Kit’s Wilderness:

Kit's WildernessLast night in class my mini-discussion group attempted to summarize this book for the class and failed pretty miserably.  It isn’t that the plot was too confusing or that nothing happened, its just that the places you think the book are going tend not to be where it ends up.  Essentially this book tells the story of a young boy’s return to the old mining town where all his ancestors used to work.  While the mines have closed, the heavy history of them weighs on Kit and his friends.  Kit is also one of those children for whom the surreal and supernatural are quite common place and frequently just as real as the more traditional forms of reality.  Kit struggles to deal with a dying grandfather, the town bully and stories from times long ago.

Looking for Alaska:

Looking For AlaskaThis book reminded me a bit of Jellicoe Road, probably because once again its setting is that of a boarding school, where adults and teachers are secondary characters of little impact on the story.  For the most part Miles (or Pudge to his friends) finds an intensity to life sorely missing in his previous high school experience.  Thanks to his close friends the Colonel and Alaska, Miles experiences a lot (including a fair share of sex, drugs and alcohol) during his first semester of his junior year.  However this story is told in a much more chronological order than Jellicoe Road, and is centered around a critical moment in all the friends’ lives.  I really liked this book and found the southern Alabama high school the perfect setting for its themes of  intelligent rebellion and philosophical pondering.

The Final Solution:

The Final SolutionThis book wasn’t actually required for my class, but I got hooked on the idea of reading it when the synopsis stated that it borrowed the fictional character Sherlock Holmes.  Some of you may know that one of my all time favorite series is the Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, which at its core pairs the semi-retired brilliant British detective with an equally brilliant, feminist teenage American woman.  Now that may sound awful to you depending on your dedication to Sir Author Conan Doyle, but trust me King’s series made Holmes more real to me than any of Doyle’s stories.  But anyways in regards to Final Solution, this time Holmes plays an unnamed older man helping a mute Jewish refuge boy from Nazi Germany find his pet parrot.  I won’t go too much into the plot, but I will say I found it a nice twist, without being too dis-jointed.  Also I liked Micheal Chabon’s writing style, which bodes well for other books by him on my too-read list (The Yiddish Policemen’s Union)

The Outsiders:

The OutsidersI am pretty sure I had to read this for school at some point during my junior high / high school career, however I figured it was probably due a re-read because I couldn’t remember the ending.  And wow, I have to say this book has aged well (origionally published in 1967).  While it doesn’t have quite the same ageless quality that Catcher in the Rye did, Outsiders still manages to connect to some of the universal aspects of youth.  What I was even more surprised by was the realization that S. E. Hinton wrote this while she was still in high school!  It was published during her freshman year at university, which makes the way she captures her fellow teenage boys all the more impressive.