March 8, 2014

How Sweet It Is #2

I’m always telling my friends how it’s the little things in life that truly make me happy and give me the most enjoyment. I definitely need to start focusing on the positive things in my life, so I’ve started to chronicle the things that make me smile or bring me joy, each week.

01) Finding out that I was right about something all along – for the second month in a row.
02) Finally getting over bronchitis.
03) Finding a new antibiotic that doesn’t cause an allergic reaction. Always good!
04) Introducing someone to Harry Potter.
05) Coming up with a name for my bakery.
06) Printing off the forms for a business license.
07) Rediscovering what a social life is.
08) Making new friends – and actually doing things with them.
09) Experimenting with new recipes – and enjoying the results.
10) Being told that something I made was “a perfect combination of flavors that pleases the palate” by one of my managers – and then having him place an order with me.
11) Discovering that Red Velvet Poptarts are a thing.
12) Purely platonic sleepovers.
13) Long talks with one of my closest friends.
14) Brand new books. Psychological thrillers are fantastic.
15) Discovering every inch of my local library.
16) Smashbooking again – I’ve missed it.
17) Spinach and arugula salad – so yummy.
18) Dates with J – I’m enjoying getting to know him.
19) Boxing up things from someone I used to care about and removing them from my life.
20) Enjoying the fact that that same someone is out of my life. It has brought me much peace.

March 6, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

There was something about the music on that tape. It felt different. Like, it set her lungs and her stomach on edge. There was something exciting about it, and something nervous. It made Eleanor feel like everything, like the world, wasn’t what she’d thought it was. And that was a good thing. That was the greatest thing.

Synopsis:

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.

I love this book. I mean LOVE. It’s been a truly long time since a book has made me feel so many different emotions all at the same time. And I have a confession to make. While I had heard of Eleanor & Park and had added it to my “to read” list awhile back, my interest was peaked when a Twitter friend (the truly talented photographer Jamey M. – seriously, go check him out) tweeted about reading it. After that, I had to run to my local library and borrow it.

Eleanor & Park is set in 1986, which makes me ridiculously happy. As an 80’s baby (though I was only 6 in 1986), I was giddy from all the nostalgic references. Cassette tapes, walkmans, vintage punk bands, landline telephone calls, postcards … all of it makes me homesick for times passed long ago. Aside from the nostalgic mind trip, reading this brought up memories of falling in love for the first time. The familiar feeling of butterflies in the stomach when you see them in the halls, sharing private smiles, passing notes in class, holding their hand for the first time. Ahhh. There is nothing like holding someone’s hand for the first time, and Eleanor & Park isn’t shy with the hand-holding. Not even a little. It’s breath-taking and even a little intense. In fact, this simple act is described in the most beautiful way possible: “Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

Eleanor & Park isn’t just about a first love. It’s about being different, bullying and growing up in a difficult and, often times, painful, household. Eleanor isn’t your typical high school protagonist. She’s a misfit. Brand new to the school, a “big girl,” dresses in an unusual style and her mass of curly red hair all makes her stand out and causes her to be a major subject of ridicule. Park on the other hand, has a fairly normal home life and several friends but because of the fact that he is the only Asian kid at school, he often feels that he cannot connect with the other kids his age.

And then one day, Eleanor sits down next to Park on the bus ride to school. And their lives change. Not immediately. In fact, at first they never even talk. But eventually, Park introduces Eleanor to the wonderful world of 80’s music (such as The Smiths) and comic books and they begin to talk. And fall in love. And it gives Eleanor a chance to escape from her horrific step-father and less than happy home life.

Beautifully written and told in alternate voices from both Eleanor’s and Park’s point of views, Eleanor & Park isn’t just about finding love and discovering romance. But also about surviving the hardships that life can fling at you and pushing through all the crap just to see the good at the end of the day.

FIVE STARS

March 4, 2014

Tuneage Tuesday #1

I absolutely love music. I can’t go through a day easily without it. Even at work (at least with my early shifts) I’ll have one of three music apps on my phone playing before the store opens. While working on a blog or even writing in my journal, I have to listen to one of my several playlists on itunes (playlists are the best things ever) or on 8tracks. Because of my love of music, I plan on sharing one song a week here on my blog. Either something I’ve always loved or a new song I’ve recently discovered.

Crystalised – The XX
“Things have gotten closer to the sun
And I’ve done things in small doses
So don’t think that I’m pushing you away
When you’re the one that I’ve kept closest”

I discovered The XX (a British indie pop band) about two years ago when a friend introduced them to me. (We’re not friends anymore. In fact, I only knew him about 9 months and he turned out to be a truly horrible person. But he had some great taste in music.) The first song I ever heard by them was called Islands and I instantly fell in love with their music. They are the perfect soundtrack to a long, lazy day of writing or for relaxing at the end of a long day.

What songs/bands have you been listening to? Feel free to comment with some of your favorites or the ones you just discovered and can’t seem to stop playing.