What I’m Into: March 2017

March. proper noun. The month in which it’s sorta spring and sorta not.

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March is always a weird month of transition in Minnesota. We’re dying for spring, but the temps rise from bitter to mild to warm oh-so-slowly. We’re getting there.

Below is what I’ve been loving in this current in-between season.

Reading

Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner. This book tells the story of two young married couples, the friendship that forms between them, and how it shifts as they age. The narrator, at one point in the story, says, “How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?” I’m not sure how Stegner does, but his writing is gorgeous and provocative. I loved this one.

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson. This is another quiet, striking book. I had been warned when starting Gilead that there are no chapters and it is simply a collection of letters written by an old minister to his son. That’s it. Since I was armed with those expectations, this book seemed meditative and beautiful, and Robinson weaves subtle suspense as she reveals events one small moment at a time. I finished it and added Home and Lila, its companion books, to my to-read list.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline. This book begins in a dystopian world where everything is falling to pieces, so everyone spends most of their time in a virtual reality called OASIS. The inventor of OASIS dies and leaves his fortune to the first person who can work through a series of clues to find an Easter egg hidden in the vast virtual world. Wade, known as Parzival online, is one of the people who joins in that quest. It’s not my typical style, but the concept was intriguing (and frighteningly possible), and the storytelling was well done. All the praise I’ve been hearing of it is justified.

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher. Do not start this book unless you have no other plans for the night so you can read the entire thing. I started this during 6th hour at school (when I’m not conferencing with students during silent reading time, I “model good reading habits” by reading alongside them. That is not an excuse for wasting time at work. They genuinely read better when I’m reading at the same time)… and had finished it by 7:00 that same night. Anyway. A high school boy receives a mysterious set of cassette tapes. As he starts to listen, he realizes that they are the recordings of a girl who committed suicide, detailing the “thirteen reasons why” she allowed herself to make that decision. He is one of them. The story, told in both Hannah and Clay’s voices, is heartbreaking and suspenseful and completely worth reading. There’s a movie of this story coming out soon that I will not watch because it would make me weep copiously.

Currently reading: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley. The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis. The Boys in the Boat (audiobook) – Daniel James Brown; narrated by Edward Hermann.

 

Watching

Beauty and the Beast. Twice. I’ve been anticipating this movie for literal years – it’s my favorite Disney princess story, and I adore Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Overall, it was a delight. The new music was perfection, and the world they created was enchanting. That said, I also have to admit that Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle didn’t seem quite as timeless as I had hoped. It felt more like I was watching Emma Watson, not her character, avoid Gaston and discover the Beast’s library. Recommended anyway.

 

Listening

Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide. His songwriting is so stellar. I especially love this.

 

I’ve also been listening to this, plus the rest of the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack:

 

Loving – Spring break edition

The highlight of my March? Adam and I flew to Florida for my spring break, and I loved pretty much everything about it.

1st love: the beach.

On our first day in FL, we headed to the Tampa/Clearwater area, rented kayaks on Honeymoon Island, and paddled/waded across the bay to Caladesi Island. Even though it was the height of spring break, Caladesi was quiet and perfect. We packed a picnic, took our time lazing on the beach, and explored the mangroves by kayak. We did go to Clearwater Beach after the sun set to check out Frenchy’s South Beach Café for dinner, and to be very thankful that we chose a less rollicking place to spend the day.

 

2nd love: THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER.

IMG_7046.jpgIt deserves all caps. I love Disney, I do, but I think the Wizarding World may truly the most magical place on earth. Adam said that he has never seen me so excited in all of our relationship as when I was sprinting from the gate of Universal Studios to Diagon Alley. And I maintain that my fangirling was entirely justified. They have butterbeer (my definitive ranking of butterbeer varieties: 1st place – hot. 2nd place – cold. 3rd place – ice cream. 4th place – frozen.).

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They also have Hogwarts. And a fire-breathing dragon. And a freaking train station. And Honeyduke’s. The details are all perfection, and I want to go back next week.

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3rd love: manatees.

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We capped off our trip by an early morning trip to Crystal River to snorkel with manatees. Manatees are massive – 10 feet long and over 1000 pounds. I didn’t fully appreciate these facts until a manatee surfaced right in front of my face. We only saw two, but I would absolutely do this again.

So many thanks to my aunt and uncle for hosting us and making our trip extra awesome!

 

Doing

Road tripping to Madison, WI. My sister is interviewing for grad school, and her first interview was at UW-Madison. I joined her on a quick one-day road trip, which meant I had lots of time to explore the city while she did professional things. Even in the dead of late winter, the Olbrecht Botanical Garden and Conservatory was beautiful, and definitely worth another trip. (Imagine if the picture at the top of the post and the one below were green!) We also explored A Room of One’s Own, an independent bookstore with an excellent selection.

 

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Celebrating Brita! My sister turned 22 this month, and we had a weekend long celebration in her honor. On Friday, we went with my brother to our alma mater’s performance of Mary Poppins, which was an utter delight. My favorite moment was Bert tap dancing on the ceiling during the Chim Chim Cheree number. On Saturday, we ate donuts and did a girls’ viewing of Beauty and the Beast, went shopping, and ate Sebastian Joe’s ice cream cake (one of the best desserts on the planet). Sunday brought waffles and thrifting. Yay, Brita. Thank you for letting us eat sugar in your honor.

Attending Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at Orchestra Hall. It was part of their Symphony in 60 series, where the piece is introduced with a quick lecture, then performed. Rite of Spring is, put bluntly, jarring and weird. But it also changed the face of music and has some fascinating moments. This format worked perfectly to help us get the most out of the performance.

And finally, school is still in session. Spring break kicked off the third trimester, and we’re onto the final (admittedly long) stretch before summer! We’re working through myths and legends (in the midst of MCA preparation) with both of my classes, and I have a new appreciation for just how wrong the Disney version of Hercules is.

 

What have you been into this month? Head to Leigh Kramer’s link-up to see other views of March, too!

 

 

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February

February. proper noun. The second month of the year, named for a purification feast that used to happen this month. Considered by most to be the last month of winter. (Except if you live in Minnesota, where the weather is crap.)

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Image via Pinterest

Here’s what I learned in February. If you want to see what other people across the Internet are learning, head to the link-up on Emily Freeman’s blog.

  1. By the end of February, I am desperate for spring. I am so dang sick of snow. I want to choose footwear based on factors other than warmth and traction. I want to go outside without putting on a jacket. I want to see colors other than white. I want to not worry about crappy road conditions. Okay, forgive the rant. On to less whiny things.
  2. I am officially going to China this spring! For the girl who has a bit of wanderlust and learned to speak Chinese last year, this is a big deal. I’ll be in Beijing for close to three weeks this May and June with some other students from my school’s education department. Our agenda includes checking out an international school and doing some pretty spectacular sightseeing. I’m pumped.

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    I will actually get to see this in person.
    Image via Pinterest

  3. Drinking a glass of water immediately before you go to bed is supposed to help you remember your dreams. I don’t remember where I read this, but it actually worked for the week I tried it. However, this gets exhausting when you have weird dreams for multiple nights in a row. For example, one night, a wolf came running at me while I was stuck in a snowbank in my yard. The next night, people sitting around a campfire were whispering about me and taking pictures of me because I was sitting next to some guy. It was very strange. You should try it and tell me what happens to you.
  4. How to make baked potatoes. (It’s not hard. I’m kind of ashamed that I had to Google it first.)
  5. The TV show Parks and Recreation is actually funny. I was anticipating a variation of The Office, a show I don’t like. (Oh, the shame. But it’s true.) I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Leslie Knope is winning me over. Watch this clip and you’ll see why. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0MKUXNzvDE
  6. On a closely related note, I have an obsessive personality where I either never watch Netflix or want to schedule my entire day around watching Netflix. It’s a problem.
  7. These are the traits of highly sensitive people. I think I’m one of them.
  8. There’s this website called Feedly that is free and awesome and makes reading blogs way easier. You enter the blogs you want to follow, and the website compiles all of the new posts for you. I get stressed out by getting lots of email updates and I am not techy (as in I have heard of RSS feeds, but I don’t know what they are or how they work), so this user-friendly website is golden. It is also way more effective than the bookmark-a-million-blogs-and-forget-to-check-them strategy I have used up until now.
  9. You can have a cold for over three weeks. Over this time span, you may blow your nose through at least an entire roll of toilet paper (if you are unprepared to be blindsided by illness) and almost two boxes of tissues. It will suck.
  10. Nice people at college coffee shops sometimes give you hot water for free. This is beautiful if you are sick and carry your own tea bags with you.
  11. Walgreens-brand Sudafed has more cold-fighting power than Target-brand Dayquil.
  12. How to do some swanky new swing dancing moves. I got to take some informal lessons and go dancing a few times this month, and it was swell.
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    This is me. Ha. Not. Image via Pinterest

    What have you learned in February?