Friday, July 29, 2016

Life Post: Week One of Student Teaching is Complete

The last time I'd posted, I'd been student teaching for two days, but the students hadn't started back yet. Now I've officially spent three full days with students, and I am, admittedly, exhausted. I knew I would be. It's one of the things I was told the most about student teaching before it began.

That isn't to say that things are bad. Things are actually really, really good. Considering what happened last semester and how I was placed somewhere and then had to switch because of circumstances, I'm really thankful to be at the school I'm at with the teacher I'm with. It's been a great experience so far.

However, it was just summer break for a couple of months, and aside from that, I'd gotten used to college where you rarely, if ever, spent an entire day in class. Being in class all day long again is an adjustment, and this time I'm standing a lot more than when I was a kid, which means my feet have been killing me this week. Although, if that's my biggest complaint, then things really are going well.

I'm excited to see what the rest of student teaching brings. Like I mentioned last time, I'm not sure how much I'm going to be posting since the workload is only going to increase as the semester goes on. I don't expect to disappear completely, but things here on the blog might be slow in comparison to usual. When I do post, I imagine it'll be life posts more than anything else. They're just easier to write. We'll see though. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Life Post: Student Teaching

I've been rather MIA from the Internet for the past couple of days. I did manage to get a book review posted yesterday, but that and a few Tumblr posts have really been the extent of my Internet activity. That's because I began student teaching on Monday, and right from the beginning, life has begun to feel hectic.

The workload wasn't unexpected though, and it's really not that bad. There will be more work as the experience continues. I know the only reason I even feel particularly busy at the moment is because it was just summer break. I still have to snap myself out of that mode.

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned at some point in the past that I was unlikely to really talk about student teaching on here. That's for the same reason that I've never talked about any of my previous practicums here either. There's student privacy concerns, and on top of that, I don't know if it's anything that anyone would have an interest in unless they're in education. (Towards the end though, I may write up some posts about it that would most likely be geared as advice for future student teachers, since blog posts like that have really helped me a lot recently. We'll see.)

What I will say is that the first two days have gone well. The students' first day is tomorrow, so the past two days have been meetings and preparing for the students. While I have yet to see everything "in action", I do think the meetings gave me a great overview of how the school works before the students show up. Fingers crossed that the rest of the experience goes just as well.

I'm not planning on the workload of student teaching to prevent me from posting that much because I'm going to try to write as many blog posts as I can on weekends (not that I won't also be doing school work on the weekends) and then scatter posting them. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if posts do come out less frequently. We'll just have to see what happens as the semester goes on. It's a new experience for me, so I don't know what exactly to expect.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Book Review: Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

ISBN: 0553418084
Published: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Crown
Received: Blogging for Books
Read from July 20th to 25th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
An unforgettable portrait of individuals who hope, struggle, and grow along a single street cutting through the heart of China’s most exhilarating metropolis, from one of the most acclaimed broadcast journalists reporting on China today.
Modern Shanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas, and opportunity. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighborhood, forging deep relationships with ordinary people who see in the city’s sleek skyline a brighter future, and a chance to rewrite their destinies. There’s Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself with religion and get-rich-quick schemes while keeping her skeptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, musician and cafĂ© owner CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he’s searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes more involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: A mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family’s – and country’s – dark past, and an abandoned neighborhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed.
A tale of 21st century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China’s distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous, and at times heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese Dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity and texture to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz’s insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world’s most captivating cities.


This book was fascinating. While I expected the book to be interesting going into it, I didn't expect to fall in love with it the way I did. Schmitz talks to many different people who all live on one street in Shanghai, the Street of Eternal Happiness (it's real name translated into English). Often, having the stories of so many people told can make it easier to not fully connect with anyone, but that wasn't the case here.

After finishing this book, I felt like I'd been consumed by everyone's stories. The people whose lives you learn about fall into a variety of demographics. There are young and old who were born during varying stages in China's history, and there are also different social classes and different experiences.

Even when you connect with books that tell a multitude of stories, some typically stand out more than the others to you, but I didn't experience that with this book either. Everyone's story was just as fascinating as everyone else's, and I wanted to hear about everyone so much that I was eager every time it switched to someone else again.

If you're looking for a book that will reach your soul, I think this is one of those. I would also highly recommend it for anyone who wants to read real stories about life in China. The author is American, so this is a book told by a foreigner instead of a personal story about life in China by a Chinese person. Still, it's an excellent book for what it is, and I would recommend it to just about anyone.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon Go Book Tag

Aentee from Read at Midnight created a Pokemon Go book tag that I'm incredibly excited to be doing today. (Like everyone else, I've been completely sucked in with Pokemon Go recently, and as I'm writing this post, I even have the app open beside me. I just couldn't resist.) She also created the awesome graphics in this post.

This question is impossible for me to answer. Honestly, I've loved reading since the days I was being read to because I couldn't yet do it myself. While I have memories of quite a few of the books I used to read back then, I don't remember many titles. I know that I loved the Bernstein Bears and some different Disney books and this Winnie the Pooh series we had. That's as specific as I can get. By the time I can remember specific titles, we've moved into my late elementary/middle school favorites

If we still have those books, then they're packed away somewhere, so I can't easily go and look through them either. But there were quite a few, and I don't know if I had one stand out favorite book until I read Harry Potter at around age eight. By then I already loved reading though.

I've seen plenty of people who've done this tag say Harry Potter, but I have to follow them and say the same thing. Like I said above, Harry Potter was the first "favorite book" that I remember having, even though I already loved reading.

Harry Potter managed to take over my life. I started begging my friends to play Harry Potter games at recess. Whenever I was able to choose our game for the day, it was Harry Potter themed in some way. Then I discovered fanfiction, and I went from reading it to writing it, which was the first story I wrote outside of school.

Then there were the fan sites and the fan discussions online. People aren't getting when they say that the Harry Potter fandom is a huge part of the magic. I still love it today, but I was lucky in that my childhood was during the golden years of the Harry Potter fandom. I have so many fond memories of both the books and the fandom that surrounded them. That's never going to change.

(Speaking of Pokemon that are everywhere, I do not need another Rattata, guys. I know they're purple, which is my favorite color, and they're based of rats, which I love. But I have enough at this point.)

I'm going to have to go with Divergent. When it first came out, I kept hearing great things from other people, both in the online book community and in real life. I fully intended to read it, but it was one of those books that I just didn't get around to.

Then the last book came out, and I began hearing negative things about it. Then the movies kept coming out, and the last one didn't do so great. I don't know. People don't seem as enthusiastic about it anymore, or maybe that's just my own skewed perception. All I know is that I'm not as eager to check the series out as I was in the past, but I still might. I'm not sure.

I'm having difficulty coming up with something for this one. Of course, I notice sometimes that books have similarities, but I can't think of one that particularly stands out as being like other books.

Maybe I'll just say Sarah Dessen books in general. Her books are all rather similar to each other. You know that certain elements are always going to be there, and you pretty much know the ending when you start reading. I still find them to be enjoyable, and I'm always excited to pick up another one.

Right now, this is just about every series for me. I've managed to get in the middle of so many series at the moment that one of my goals for this year was to not start anymore until I'd finished quite a few of them. How is that going? Well, I did start one new series, and I have the Infernal Devices trilogy sitting around waiting to be read. (I don't know if that counts as a new series technically though since I have read the Mortal Instruments, so in a way, it also works towards my completing more series goal.)

I have to admit that I'm not typically intimidated by size though, whether it's one book or a series. I just never really think about it, so I'm not sure I'd ever be hesitant to start a series because of how many books are in it. Not unless we're talking about something with like dozens of books.

I've spent all night reading Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games after new releases, but I have to admit that I haven't done something like that since high school. I just don't really stay up all night to read anymore.

When I got to college and had a roommate, I would often stay up later than her, but I was always worried about keeping her awake, so I would usually go to bed quickly after she did. Maybe that broke me out of the habit of late nights.

Actually, I've been having to adjust my sleep schedule recently to prepare myself for the coming school year and student teaching (much earlier nights and mornings), and the whole thing has made me feel like a boring adult. So, there haven't been any late nights for me recently. It's a bit of a shame. I miss it sometimes.

I always have to choose Ron and Hermione for this sort of question. I have a lot of OTPs now, but they were my original, which means they'll always hold a special place in my heart. I think Ron and Hermione also managed to have a huge influence on what I typically love in fictional couples. Whenever I read a book and two characters manage to remind me of Ron and Hermione, I'm probably going to ship them together.

I recently read all four books of the War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich and fell in love. Perhaps it was because it was the first time in possibly forever that I had read an entire series so closely back-to-back like that. (Even if an entire series is out, I tend to read them more spaced out because I won't even buy the second book before reading the first.) It's an action-packed fantasy that I absolutely adored.

This is difficult because I'm never sure if my answer would hold true if we did start getting spin offs. I was excited for both Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child, but now my excitement for both seems to have fizzled out. With Cursed Child, I've actually become scared about whether or not I'll like it, so while in the past I would have always chosen Harry Potter for this, I'm not so sure anymore.

I might say the Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. I know I'm not the first person who's given that answer for this question, but it's true. She already has a done of spin-offs in the series, and I like that they focus on new characters while giving glimpses of the old. Maybe it's because the spin-offs were already out when I began reading Mortal Instruments, but they feel less high-stakes than the Harry Potter spin-offs do for me, which allows me to enjoy them without worrying.

After following Maureen Johnson on Twitter for years and thinking she was awesome, I finally picked up her Shades of London series, which was the first of her books I'd read. I had high hopes because I enjoyed her tweets so much, but I was also worried.

I'm not a scary story fan. Mostly because I get scared too easily. So putting "Jack the Ripper" in the synopsis wouldn't typically be a good way to pull me in. I doubt I'd ever have picked it up at all if it hadn't been for Maureen's Twitter account.

Wow, am I glad I did pick it up. That series is one of my favorites, and it's the only ghost story that is remotely close to being one of my favorites. I love those books so much, and I'm eagerly waiting for the fourth.

There are a number of them. One would be the Infernal Devices trilogy. I enjoyed the Mortal Instruments, and a lot of people say they enjoy TID even more than TMI, which has me extremely curious.

I could list a number of other series too. My TBR list is intimidatingly long.

I wish I owned all of the Harry Potter editions, not just the collector's editions. I know I'm not alone in desperately wanting the boxed set where the spines form a picture of Hogwarts. Plus, I'd really like the anniversary editions.

Admission: I rarely feel particularly excited for debuts. It's not even that I don't read debuts and enjoy them. I do, and I do feel a certain level of excitement. I just don't get the same level of excitement as I do for authors I've read before. It's hard to pinpoint one debut here because, while I'll often think a debut sounds interesting, I'm not sure I could label myself as "very excited" for them.

I have a number of them. Sarah Dessen is one, and of course, J.K. Rowling. Those are probably the two that were my first auto-buy authors. Sarah Dessen's books were actually the first YA that I ever read.

100% I have to say the next Shades of London book by Maureen Johnson. I read the third book after it came out, so I haven't been waiting since the release. I don't even think it's been that long, but I'm so eager that it feels like it has been. I really can't wait for the next book. It may wind up being the first book in a long time that I stay up all night reading when it comes out.

And that's all the questions. I'm not going to tag anyone specific, but if you want to do this tag, feel free too. Plus, make sure you check out Aentee's original tag post if you haven't already read it.

Life Post: The End of Summer

Since I wrote about my laptop's hard drive crashing, I feel like I need to write an update. I have Chromebook now. Since I'm so used to having a Windows computer, I was a little nervous about it. So far though, I'm really happy with it. There are downsides to having a Chromebook for sure, but there would be with any computer. As I've only had the computer for a few days as of right now though, I'll probably write more about it later and how I'm liking it.

Other than that, I've really just been busy thinking about school beginning. The past day or so the nerves have really hit me hard, so it's become one of the only things I can think about. I feel like there is so much that I need to do to prepare, yet logically, I don't know what else I could do.

Of course, I've also been packing. It's strange since I have to stay with my sister for a bit before I move into my dorm, so it's like having to pack for two different stages. It's difficult trying to figure out which things need to go up now and which can go up later. Plus, I think it's leading to me forgetting things more. At least, I feel like I've packed less than usual, and I don't know if that's because I've just cut things down or if I'm forgetting stuff that I'm supposed to have.

That's the bulk of what I've been doing the past several days. Well, that and playing Pokemon Go. Soon, school will start, so I'm sure I'll become extremely busy. I'm excited, if a little terrified.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Review: Paper Hearts, Volume 1 by Beth Revis

ISBN: 0990662659
Published: November 1st, 2015
Publisher: Scripturient Books
Received: Netgalley
Read from June 17th to July 19th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Your enemy is the blank page. When it comes to writing, there's no wrong way to get words on paper. But it's not always easy to make the ink flow. Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won't make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.
Practical Advice Meets Real Experience
With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:
How to Develop Character, Plot, and World
What Common Advice You Should Ignore
What Advice Actually Helps
How to Develop a Novel
The Basics of Grammar, Style, and Tone
Four Practical Methods of Charting Story Structure
How to Get Critiques and Revise Your Novel
How to Deal with Failure
And much more!


Writing advice books are one type of book that I always want to read. Between the books and the blogs I feel like I've heard every piece of writing advice at least once, yet I still want to absorb it all.

The one frustration I've always had is that both the writing books and the writing blogs I've read are never written by YA authors, yet that's the kind of writing I enjoy doing. While much of the advice is applicable whether you're writing adult or young adult fiction, I've always thought it would be nice to read something written from a YA perspective. This book is has that perspective, and as soon as I saw it on Netgalley, I was excited to dig into it.

Beth Revis is a familiar name to me. Funnily enough, I've been following her blog for years despite not yet having read any of her books. I've heard great things about them, and trust me when I say that they've been on my "to read" list for years. It just hasn't happened. However, she is one of the authors I believe I most need to read, which only made me more excited to read this book.

The book didn't disappoint. Admittedly, each of the chapters is short (something that I've taken to be Revis' style), and at times, I would have appreciated a topic being discussed in more depth. At the same time, that shortness allowed her to cover more ground in the book, and I appreciated that. I think just about anything about writing that you could want to know was covered in this book, and all of it was from a young adult writer's perspective. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight were the most frequent sources of examples, and you can always win me over by discussing Harry Potter.

Was there much that I hadn't read before? No, but that didn't matter to me. Like I said, I like reading writing advice from different perspectives because I always think there's nuance to each writer's perspective that's helpful, even if the underlining advice has been said before. Plus, one thing I really loved, was that the book covered some topics that (while I had read about before), I had never seen in a book on writing, such as diversity, feminism, and fanfiction. Yes, there is a a section about fanfiction. This book knew how to win me over.

If you write young adult fiction and want a writing advice book geared towards YA, then check out Paper Hearts. Even if you write adult fiction I think you could appreciate much of the advice within this book, but many adult authors would probably scoff at the idea. That's why I'm thrilled to have a YA-focused book.

There are two other volumes of Paper Hearts, one about publishing and one about marketing. I'm hoping to get my hands on them too. Again, I've read a lot on both topics but not much of it was YA-focused. I'm sure those books will be great too.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fandom Might Be Why I Don't Believe in Soul Mates

I filmed a video about friendship the other day, and I suppose that this could be a sequel to that. This time, though, I'm talking about romantic relationships instead of friendships.

One of the first times I remember discussing the concepts of "soul mates" and "true love" with someone was freshman year of high school when my best friend asked me if I believed in soul mates. I hadn't known that I had a firm opinion until I responded with an adamant "no" and went on to say that I thought too much depended on circumstance, how people acted in the relationship, etc. I had a lot of beliefs that I hadn't realized were there, but my best friend agreed with me, which meant there wasn't a long discussion about it. And I can't remember having a discussion about it with anyone else for a long time after that either.

The only context through which I analyzed relationships and what "love" meant was shipping. I think fandom was a big part of me giving my friend the answer I did when she asked me that question. I'd spent years (even by the first year of high school) analyzing fictional relationships. To defend your ship, you had to have concrete reasons why they worked together, and "they're soul mates" would never convince anyone. Plus, I read fanfiction and saw firsthand that the same character could work with many other characters depending on what situations you wrote them in.

Back then, I didn't think about any of that as having an effect on my views of romantic relationships, love, and everything else in that realm, but of course it did. All of your experiences have an effect. So, in a way, the amount of time I spent as a kid (and still spend) analyzing fictional relationships is at least partially to blame/praise (depending on your outlook) for my lack of a belief in soul mates. I'm sure there are people who can say the opposite based on their own experiences in fandom, but I do think it goes to show you how analyzing media can affect how you view the world. I might not have gotten the same beliefs if I'd just watched/read romance and not analyzed why the couples worked together or realized that they could be paired with other characters too.

For anyone who views a lack of a belief in soul mates as pessimistic, I'll have to disagree. It's not that I believe that no couple can ever be happy or stay together for the rest of their lives. They can. Not believing in soul mates does not automatically lead to not believing in love. If I didn't, why would I ship any characters together at all? Actually, I think love means so much more without soul mates. It gives people more credit for their own relationships and adds value. It doesn't take it away.

What are your beliefs about soul mates and love? Do you think your experiences with fiction and/or fandom have shaped those beliefs?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Life Post: My Laptop's Hard Drive Crashed

Time to write a blog post about something I'd rather not talk about anymore. As you can tell from the title of this post, I'm currently without a laptop. I'm writing this from my phone.

Saturday night, I opened my laptop after I'd left it sleeping for somewhere between a half hour and an hour. The laptop had Windows 8 of that will help you picture what I'm about to describe. Normally, when it's opened, the date and time came up. You would then press enter the bring up the login screen. Well, when I opened the computer, the time didn't even come up, just the background, and it stayed like that.

Eventually, I hit the power button to restart it. As it came on, it said it had to run automatic repair, and that led just to a black screen. So I restarted it again, and the same thing happened, over and over. My dad ran diagnostics on it, and that came up saying it was a hard drive failure. more laptop.

It really sucks. The laptop wasn't even very old. The warranty had just expired back in February. That wouldn't have mattered either though because I'm pretty certain this is a delayed consequence of spilling coffee on the computer almost a year ago. When the guy replaced the keyboard after that happened he said that he'd cleaned it the best he could, but that he couldn't get all of it. He'd said that it could very well affect the hard drive eventually, so I'd been worrying about this happening since. (It's hard to go back and check old posts on my phone, but it's very likely I brought up that I was worried about this in a post.)

So, that's what's been going on the past few days. I'm extremely thankful to have my phone which lets me still do a lot of what I could do on a laptop, even if it's often more difficult. I do have two videos that I've filmed though that I can't edit. Hopefully I'll have a new laptop sometime this week since I go back to school this coming weekend. We'll see what happens.

My Favorite Animated Movies

I quite like animated movies. They're some of my all time favorite movies. I'm terrible at having favorites and ranking them because, if I'm allowed to, I'll go on and on until I've added everything to the list. Keep that in mind while reading this list. There are plenty more I would have happily added, but I'm trying to keep it reasonable. Because of that, a movie I love could very well be missing from this list.

Beauty and the Beast. If you ask me what my favorite movie is, this will be my answer. I'm going to be honest with you, I found most of the princess movies from before the Disney Renaissance boring as a kid, and I still kind of do. I just can't sit through Snow White or Sleeping Beauty without feeling bored. The Disney Renaissance princesses and on, though, I love. Of course, the princess who loves to read would be my favorite. I also sometimes wonder if my love for Beauty and the Beast led to my fondness for werewolves later...

How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2. This is likely the only sequel that will be on the list. I'll watch Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (How many people have actually seen it?) and enjoy it, but it's not on my list of favorites. Both HTTYD movies blew me away though. I talked about the second one in a video recently. I'll  talk about the franchise as more in the future. They're genuinely great movies that don't get the amount of love that they should.

Zootopia. I think this will be the newest addition to the list as it has only come out on DVD recently. This is one of those movies that you want to push everyone to watch. I've heard it described as one of the most important movies Disney has made in recent years, and I completely get it. I mentioned this in my review, but it kind of reminds me of the Animal Farm of our generation. But funner.

The Princess and the Frog. Speaking of underrated movies! Why does no one talk about The Princess and the Frog? Tiana is one of my top three favorite princesses (the third is coming below), but this movie is hardly even talked about. I don't think people dislike it; I think they haven't seen it. That's a huge shame.

Brave. Now, this is a movie that people do seem to have seen but have disliked, although fewer people have seen it than the more popular Disney movies. I can't for the life of me figure it out. Merida rounds out my top three favorite Disney princesses. I knew she would from the line "I'll be shooting for my own hand". Plus, the entire movie is about her relationship with her mother. I genuinely can't understand what there is to dislike about it.

WALL-E. This would be my second favorite Pixar movie after Brave. One of my favorite aspects of it is that it's a movie about robots. The beginning of the movie has no dialogue, and neither one of the main characters have facial features to show off emotion that well. Yet the movie manages to be touching. Plus, we can put it down as another movie with an important message.

Mulan. Mulan is the first movie I remember seeing in the theater, and I'm pretty sure I fell in love with it immediately. The only reason Mulan isn't in my top three princesses (which would then be top four I guess) is because, despite Disney including her in the official lineup, she's not actually a princess. I struggle with considering her a princess for that reason. I mean, we can have awesome animated Disney movies with female leads that aren't princess movies. We don't have to turn Mulan into a princess when she isn't one. (Although, considering the Disney princess lineup is in need of some diversity, I think it would be great if Disney created an actual princess who was Asian.)

Shrek. Shrek might be one of the "classical" animated movies of my generation. I'll let you figure out for yourself what that says about my generation. While it's not my number one favorite, it does make it onto my list of favorites. I found Donkey hilarious when I was a kid, and I still find him hilarious now. Also, I had to include more Dreamworks on this list because Dreamworks doesn't get enough love, which is why we're having to wait so long for How to Train Your Dragon 3. (Seriously, guys, watch How to Train Your Dragon.) When it comes to Dreamworks though, Shrek is pretty much their Mickey Mouse. Which, now that I think about it, might say something about the difference between Disney and Dreamworks.

There are plenty of other animated movies I wish I could include. Even now they're still flying through my mind, but I think nine is more than enough. I had planned to cut myself off before then. If you haven't watched any of these, I'd recommend them. And remember, everyone, cartoons are not just for kids.

What are some of your favorite animated movies? Do you agree with my choices?

Friday, July 15, 2016

What Happened On My Birthday in the Past?

In a couple of weeks, I turn twenty-three. This birthday is going to be a strange one for me. Not because of the age itself but because I'll be spending the day student teaching.

My entire life, I've had a birthday during summer break. I'm not used to going to school on my birthday. This will be the first year I've had to do so, and on top of that, it will only be my second week of student teaching. I won't have settled in yet, so I'm feeling strange about the whole thing. I plan not to tell anyone that it's my birthday and just quietly act like it's any other day. I'd much prefer no one making a big deal about it anyway.

However, in honor of my birthday, I've decided to explore world events that happened on my birthday in the past. I've read these sorts of things on websites before, but I've forgotten everything, so I know I won't have remembered any of this.

Well, except for the four celebrities that I know share my August 4th birthday: Barack Obama, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and Jeff Gordon. (You have no idea how happy sharing a birthday with Dylan and Cole Sprouse made me as a kid. I spent years with a massive crush on Cole, and I freaked when I discovered we had the same birthday, even if they were a year older. Anyway, moving on from embarrassing story time...)

Here are some things that happened on August 4th (other than my birth):

The US Coast Guard was founded on August 4th. I was going to make a joke about the Coast Guard being the least talked about branch of the military, but I can't come up with one that I don't feel bad about making. I don't actually want to insult the Coast Guard.

The first issue of The Saturday Evening Post was published on August 4th. I've never read The Saturday Evening Post, but it is a magazine name that I recognize as significant, so that's pretty neat.

The first income tax in the United States was collected on August 4th. I have now made every American reading this significantly less fond of my birthday.

Colombia adopted its constitution on August 4th though, so it's a happier day for Colombians.

I didn't even realize that the Kermit and Miss Piggy break up happened on my birthday (though I must have on the actual day). If I keep finding stuff like this, even I won't like my birthday anymore, and I'm already purposefully leaving out the tragedies that I'm coming across. I'm telling myself that there would be this many for any day of the year.

NASA launced Phoenix on August 4th. There's one I can be proud of. Phoenix is extremely amazing. I have a birthday twin who went to Mars.

I'll end on that happy note instead of coming across another break up as notorious as Kermit and Miss Piggy. All in all, I think August 4th is an alright birthday, even if it's had some not so great years. Hopefully, this year will be a good one. I guess I'll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out.

Do you know of anything interesting that happened on your birthday?

Life Post: Update on My Finger and Moving

Update on that finger that got shut in a car door: It's doing a lot better. The swelling is gone, although the place where it's cut still puffs up a bit and is a little tough when you press on it. I think that's because it's where the finger got damaged the most, so it's healing. Once the swelling went down, my entire finger bruised more than before, but that bruising has mostly gone away. The bruising is now concentrated at the top of my finger. There's some on the outside of the finger, but the bruise on the inside tip of my finger is the worst. It's still better than before, but it's making touching things with that finger not the greatest feeling right now. (It's kind of tingly when it brushes against things.) I'm back to typing with the finger, but I get that feeling every time it presses down on the key. Still, at the rate the bruise has been going away, it should be normal again soon.

In other news, I move back to Indianapolis in about a week, and it's turned into something very stressful. There's still some uncertainty about how I'm going to get moved into my dorm. That's a long story that will only put me in a negative mood if I tell it though. The important thing is that I can stay with my sister until then, so I'm not completely lost and without a place to live.

The happier news about the end of summer is that I finished the first draft of the story I was writing. It had been my goal to finish it before school started back. I'd scheduled it all out and everything, and I thought that, at the rate I was writing, I would likely finish within days of going back. Instead, I finished it a week and a half earlier. It feels good to have that off my back.

I think that's the biggest news I've got. Most of my energy this week will likely be devoted to packing, especially now that I have to decide what's coming up with me immediately and what's coming when I actually move in later. I'm also trying to prepare myself for student teaching, although I"m not sure if there's much I can do beyond what I've already done. I just want to be as prepared as possible.

Over on my writing blog, I posted a piece of flash fiction about guilty pleasures. I'm not really sure where it came from other than the fact that I saw the phrase "guilty pleasure" and that story is what happened.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#PotterheadJuly: Head Canons About the Next Generation Kids

This month culminates in the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and in honor of the release, Aentee over at Read at Midnight has put together Potterhead July, a blog festival where multiple bloggers are posting about Harry Potter each day. You can check out the schedule at the previous link and read everyone's posts so far.

Today, I get to write about my head canons about the next generation. There are three (well, kind of four, but two are heavily tied together) head canons in particular that I want to talk about and are the entire reason I chose this topic. Even within discussions about Harry Potter, I don't often have an opportunity to discuss my next gen head canons, so I couldn't resist.

Let's get the one that people will likely find the most strange out of the way: I ship Lysander Scamander and Molly Weasley II. Yep, the son of Luna Lovegood and the daughter of Percy Weasley. I know, I know. That sounds like something out of left field, and it likely doesn't make sense to anyone who hasn't seen the inner workings of my brain. Let me explain how I came to care about two characters we know almost nothing about...

You see, more than five years ago, I was active on a Harry Potter fanfiction challenge board. (Most of the time, I wish I was still active there, but I don't have the time to complete challenges if I want to work on my own fanfiction ideas too.) One of the challenges I was given was to write a story with Lysander and Molly that used the prompts frozen lake and lost. It didn't have to be romantic (as far as I can remember), and when I was given the challenge, it was one I had to sit with for a while before I knew what I was going to do.

It was such an odd pairing of characters, which, admittedly, is what made it such a great challenge to give someone. There was nothing for me to go on as to what their personalities were like, but I couldn't stop thinking about their parents and how interesting a conversation between Luna and Percy would be. You have to admit that such a conversation would be something amusing to see. So, when I wrote the story, I had to give Lysander a bit of Luna's personality and Molly a bit of Percy's. I couldn't resist, although in a longer story I would have enjoyed fleshing them out and not just making them imitations of their parents.

Suddenly, what had been an odd fanfiction challenge had me excited, and by the time I posted the one-shot, I found myself feeling fond of the pairing. I may not be quite as invested in them as I am Ron/Hermione, but I'd say I'm a fan.

As I haven't read any Cursed Child spoilers, I can't tell you if either of them appear, but if they are seen, I'd be interested in seeing how they're portrayed. Maybe I'd come out of it no longer shipping them or maybe my feelings would be strengthened. If they're not seen at all or are only their briefly, then I suppose I'll largely be stuck with my own versions of the characters, and I'll probably continue to ship them like I do mow.

My second big headcanon is something that I feel strongly enough about to argue with people: Teddy Lupin is a Hufflepuff. He just is. You can think whatever you want, but I refuse to believe he was sorted into any other house. (Please, please, please, don't let Cursed Child shatter this for me.)

There are several reasons why I'm adamant about this. Yes, Teddy is Remus' son, and I'd love for him to have a connection to Remus like sharing a Hogwarts house. Remus is one of my favorite characters, but so is Tonks. I feel like, with the amount of head canons people have about the next generation kids being sorted into Gryffindor, I like the idea of Teddy taking after this mother and going to Hufflepuff instead.

Plus, Hufflepuff doesn't get enough credit. The only truly important character we get in the series from Hufflepuff is Tonks. We have more than enough from Gryffindor. That only makes me want Teddy to take after his mother even more, and I'm saying this as a Ravenclaw (or a Slytherclaw, it's still up for debate).

As Teddy is, admittedly, my favorite of the next generation, I do have another head canon concerning him, and that's that Harry gave Teddy the Marauder's Map instead of passing it onto his sons. I've dedicated an absurd amount of time to thinking about this.

Harry has three kids, and James will probably get the invisibility cloak because he's the oldest, which makes me feel bad for Albus and Lily. (I always feel that way about inheritances in stories if there's more than one kid. I feel so bad for the gets that didn't get whatever it was.) While Harry could also pass the Marauder's Map onto one of his kids, I like the idea of it going to Teddy a lot more.

It was, after all, created by Teddy's father instead of a grandparent like in the case of Harry's children. I think Teddy would be more appreciative of the meaning behind the map than Harry's kids as he's grown up without Remus in his life. Having something James helped make just wouldn't have the same effect on Harry's kids as having something Remus helped make would have on Teddy. I imagine the moment Harry gives it to him to be a touching one.

On top of that, I have this idea of Harry giving the Black family fortune to Teddy once he's an adult. Teddy is related to the Blacks through his mother, of course, so I believe that gives Harry a legitimate reason to give it to Teddy instead of making it part of his own children's inheritances. Plus, Harry has the Potter family fortune, which seems to be more than enough for inheritances for all three of his children. Even if Teddy is "only" his godson, I feel like giving him an inheritance from the Black family fortune would be a nice idea.

Those are the head canons I'm steadfast about. There are other aspects of the next generation that I'm iffy on. Like, I've never been able to decide what house I think Albus was sorted into. I can be easily influenced to believe he wound up in just about any house, so I can't really say that I have a head canon about it.

Do you guys have any head canons about the next generation of Harry Potter characters? Or do you have an opinion on one of mine? Let me know in a comment.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Life Post: Shut My Finger in a Car Door

I had an exciting day yesterday, Matthew and I went to eat lunch with our grandma, and afterward, when we went back to her house, my finger got shut in the car door. I'm trying to keep this as brief as possible actually because I'm currently typing without one index finger. Repeatedly pressing down on it sounds excruciatingly painful.

Over all, I'd say the finger is doing fine. It's swollen, hurts, is bruised, and such, but it could have been worse. Mostly I'm frustrated that I woke up to it looking the same as yesterday and not any better. I think the pain is a bit more present than yesterday (except for right after it happened), but maybe that's me just not remembering the pain correctly.

All I can say is that I hope it gets better soon. Typing like this is extremely difficult. I've been trying to still write despite it, but it's difficult enough that writing something takes far longer than it would otherwise. Not convenient, but I'm trying.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 336-340

After seeing each of the episodes about Kabuto's past, I have to say that he's still my least favorite villain in Naruto. Maybe that's because I'd already become too prejudiced against him to be swayed by his story. I do, however, appreciate him becoming more of a complex character, and I felt sad when you see his old friend refer to Kabuto as his brother and say that he keeps hoping Kabuto will come back. That managed to tug at my heart strings, I won't deny that. It left me really hoping that Kabuto does wind up going back someday.

Still, as far as all of the villains in the story go, Kabuto remains my least favorite. I'd rather watch a storyline with just about any other villain, so I'm okay with getting past that point in the story.

My favorite part of this set of episodes was the interaction between Itachi and Sasuke. I loved Itachi teaching Sasuke about history of their clan that he hadn't known previously, and I loved that he told Sasuke that he loved him, as I feel like that is more closure than Sasuke ever got before.

Speaking of closure, I'm torn about Tsunade getting to see Dan again. Sasuke and Itachi had more time to talk, which is one of the biggest reasons I like the idea of it providing closure for Sasuke. Tsunade saw Dan much more briefly, and to me, it felt far more likely to bring up old wounds than provide closure. If she did manage to get more closure from it than she had before, then I suppose that's a good thing. I just don't see how it's possible from that short moment alone. It was definitely a touching moment though. I'll give it that.

Where episode 340 ends seems to be a natural cutting off point as the reanimation jutsu ends. I'm not sure what will come in the next several episodes. The fights with both Madaras are still going on, so I'm sure that whatever is in store will be exciting.

Life Post: Summer Break is Almost Over

Just how soon my summer break is going to be over has hit me over the past several days. It really is coming up fast since I'm going back earlier this year than I ever have before. There's just so much I want to get done before then. I'm in the middle of re-watches of both Shadowhunters and Ouran High School Host Club that I think I can manage to finish. Plus, I want to finish the first draft of the story I've been working on, which I also think I can manage. Those aren't the only things, but I feel like the story in particular is what I'll really have to push myself on in order to make sure I finish it before I'm back in Indianapolis.

It's still summer break for now though, and I'm trying to appreciate it while it lasts. Today I got to see my friend Ji, which was nice. We got lunch together, and I got to meet her cat, who appreciates being around people more than any cat I've ever met before. It was a lot of fun.

While I was on my way home though, severe thunderstorm warnings started coming over the radio, and I noticed how dark it was back behind me. Luckily, I was driving away from the storm, and I managed to get home less than five minutes before it began pouring down rain outside. I'd count myself pretty lucky.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 Talk

Monday, July 4, 2016

Life Post: Happy 4th of July

I feel like the only posts I'm writing recently are these posts. Like I mentioned last time, I do have drafts of other posts saved, but at least one of them has to wait until my assigned day for Potterhead July and the others I do need to open up and edit.

Anyway, today's July 4th, so happy Independence Day to all the other Americans who read my blog. I'm not actually doing anything today. There was a cookout at my aunt and uncle's on Saturday. They hold it every year, but I have to say the weather this year was the best I ever remember it being. The temperature was perfect, and while there were a few sprinkles, it never rained all that hard. Too bad it can't be like that every year.

Despite the lack of rain at the cookout, it has been storming both yesterday and today. That hasn't stopped everyone from setting off fireworks. I've been hearing them since July 2nd. I think it is supposed to storm through the evening tonight, so we'll see if anyone sets them off on the actual holiday. Of all the holidays, the 4th of July might be the most inconvenient one to get rain on considering so much of it revolves around fireworks, but I know that I, for one, can't complain when it means we have the cooler temperatures that we've been having all weekend.

Whle I've been terrible at posting here recently, I did finally post on my writing blog (which I've been neglecting even more) a few days ago. I wrote about why writing romantic relationships sometimes feels intimidating to me. Feel free to check it out if you're interested.

I hope everyone celebrating the holiday tonight manages to have fun even if it's raining where you live too.

Friday, July 1, 2016

List Post: Back from Vacation and Check Out Potterhead July

We are back from vacation. Actually, we have been since the beginning of this week. That's why I was able to upload the video that I filmed while there (and the Reign review that I filmed before leaving but didn't have the wifi to upload).

Looking back at that post I wrote from my phone, it's a lot longer than I thought it would be while typing my phone. I won't lie. It's nice to be typing on a computer again. While I love smartphones and think it's amazing that we have the ability to access the Internet from phones now, typing on a phone will just never be as easy as typing on an actual keyboard. Not unless the trend for large phones keeps going and going and we end up with something more like a laptop than a phone. I hope that doesn't happen, but to be fair, I also didn't like how large the iPhone 6 was until I got one and began using it. Now whenever I use my mom's iPhone 4 it feels ridiculously small.

Anyway, that was a tangent I didn't mean to go on. I'm primarily writing this post to say, "Hey. We're back from vacation." I've had a string of videos on the blog without any written posts since, so I figured I needed to post something. The reason for that is that I had the two videos either from vacation or before vacation that needed to be posted. Plus, I've been posting quite a few fanfictions that I've been working on, and I have been busy finishing up editing all of those. With that and feeling like I needed a rest after vacation (Am I the only one who feels like they need to rest after a vacation instead of coming back feeling rested?), I just haven't been up for getting any posts up.

Although, while I said that, I do have two posts saved as drafts right now. As of right now they were me blurting thoughts out into a draft. None of it is logically organized to make sense to anyone but me because I didn't feel like making them coherent to others while writing them. I will make those easier to read and post them soon, but one of them is for the Potterhead July blog festival, which means you won't be seeing it until my designated day on July 14th. (As you can see from the schedule, I'm writing about my next generation headcanons. Yay!) I'm incredibly excited to be participating in the event, and I highly recommend that you go read every one else's posts as well. It starts today (July 1st). Who doesn't want to talk about Harry Potter every day for a month?