Tuesday, September 21, 2010


You know that feeling:
When you're sick as a dog and you've worked all day, you come home and take some extra strength super-dee-dooper medicine, slip under your covers, close your eyes, listen to the thunderstorm rolling in and smell the moisture filled air (through that one nostril that works).

It's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blogger Awards

About a week ago, Catherine over at The Writing Room gifted myself (and wonderful others) with two blog awards! I'm here to pay it forward!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award. 

Share seven things about yourself. 

Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it. 

Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award. 

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. 

Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. 

Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Here's the thing. I'm so new to Blogger that I'm not sure I'm in a position to hand out 15 awards right away. So what I'll do is this:

As I find a blog I want to gift I'll post until I have 15, and if any of you have suggestions please feel free to let me know and I'll check them out. I do have one to start us off.

1. My friend Mary is a very talented musician who has channeled that ability into writing PB's accompanied by music and lyrics. I realize she hasn't posted in awhile but maybe a couple awards will jump start her! Either way, check out her blog and her books!

Second order of business: "Share seven things about yourself."

1. I am an "Expert" singer on Rock Band, a "Medium" drummer and a "Laughingstock" guitarist.

2. I severely dislike the guy on the new All State commercials that keeps cutting people off while they are talking. Makes me want to switch insurance companies.

3. I'm an avid fan of NFL football. AVID.

4. I go to school at night to study Graphic Design at the amazing Columbia College of Chicago.

5. In April I won first place in the "YA" category of a conference contest. It judged you based on your first page only. It was the Writers' Institute in Madison, WI.

6. I've been lucky enough to have traveled quite a bit in my young lifetime. In America and abroad.

7. I use Scrivener to organize my research but I still write my MS in Microsoft Word. Old habits are hard to break.

I suppose that's it. I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I was a senior in high school in September of 2001. I had my first two classes of the day free, so I usually strolled into the building just before ten. My mom would leave for work around eight and I would have the house to myself until I left. In those days I listened to Eric and Kathy on the MIX (101.9) as I got ready. Eric was always cracking jokes and the music was my taste. 

On September 11th I woke up, told my mom to have a good day as she ran out the door and made myself breakfast. Eric and Kathy were chattering as they always did and I was about to turn them off so I could shower when Eric stopped everything. There was silence for a moment, then with a voice so serious I stopped in my tracks he said that a plane had flown into one of the Twin Towers. I immediately turned them off and flipped on the TV, scrolling madly for a news station. 

Then there it was, rough footage of one of the Towers billowing smoke and debris. My first reaction was complete and total confusion, which seemed to be everyone's reaction. The newscasters were awkwardly speculating about what had happened. Terrorism was not on their lips. Yet. 

Their live camera was trained on the South Tower with the North behind it, it's top on fire. It was an image no one could have pulled their eyes from and I found myself inches from the screen when a grey object moved into the field of view and collided with the South Tower. The newscasters were flabbergasted and suddenly it dawned on all of us that this was deliberate. America was under attack on its own soil. 

I scrambled for the phone and called my dad, who was at work in the EPA building in downtown Chicago. He picked up quickly and I asked him if he had seen the news. He hadn't. When I told him he became very quiet. I heard him open his office door and raised voices from the hallway wafted in. He told me he would have to call me back and hung up. Shortly after that his building, along with all other major buildings in the city were evacuated for precautionary measures.

I drove to school listening to the news the whole way and when I got there, people were crowded around TVs all over the school. Some classes still continued, either they didn't know or they didn't know what else to do. By the time I got to a TV, Flight 77 had just hit the Pentagon. No one could say anything. There was nothing to say. I don't know how the newscasters kept talking.

By the time Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, everyone was so shell shocked that classes ceased to function. We rotated with our schedules but most teachers  had a TV on in place of a lesson. We were all aware that this was a day we would never forget. We were all present for a moment in history that saw tragedy and heroes.

When I look at the 8th graders I work with now I'm shocked to realize that most of them were around four when 911 occurred. They are fuzzy on the facts of what happened that day. Some think only NY was hit. Most don't quite grasp the gravity of the event. Such it was for my generation missing the JFK assassination. 

When I think of 911 I remember everything I did that morning. I remember the emotions I felt and the reactions I had. In the days following I listened to stories of American heroism that made me cry and made me appreciative. What always came to mind in the weeks, months, years that separated us from the event, was that the people who attacked us underestimated the spirit of the this country. 

For all their intricate plans and execution, they couldn't have realized how their attack would bring Americans together. Even those of us, a thousand miles away, felt connected to the lost. The pain reached everyone. Patriotism soared and people started doing everything they could to help. Give blood. Help the rescue and recovery teams. Join the army. 

I read Meg Cabot's harrowing personal account of that day and I recommend you read it if you haven't. The individual stories of heroism are important to remember. My heart still goes out to all those who died on that day and all those who died in the wars that followed. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Put Title Here

Happy Sunday everyone!

First off, Catherine over at The Writing Room kindly gifted me a blogger award which I'll post about soon!

Numero dos, I'm gearing up for Columbia's semester starting next week. Now I'll have night classes to tack on after working all day. And the hopefully going to the gym. And maybe seeing my friends sometimes. And reading a book or two. Oh yeah, and writing.

The Mockingjay Pin
Speaking of reading books, I managed to finish Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, within six hours of buying it on its August 24th release date. This was mostly due to not wanting to have to avoid spoilers everywhere (I work with 8th graders). I promise the below review has NO SPOILERS if you haven't yet read it.

My first recommendation is to reread The Hunger Games and Catching Fire before embarking on Mockingjay. There were some little things I had to remind myself of once I had already started reading.

The end of a series is always such a bittersweet experience. I'm usually anxious to see what ends up happening to the characters I love and yet I'm sometimes not ready to see them go. When I read The Hunger Games I enjoyed every heart thumping word that came across the page. I cared instantly about Katniss and her family. Catching Fire succeeded in making me care even more deeply about the world Collins created.

I had meetings the day Mockingjay came out and as soon as they ended I zipped to my nearest bookstore and gleefully picked it up. I found the pacing to be similar to Catching Fire, by starting slower and picking up speed as it went. The story was both satisfying and not, which I thought I was appropriate for this series. If we were meant to be happy with everything that happened it would have been penned by Disney, not Collins. The book was bloody, upsetting at times and, I felt, completely necessary. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions.

In a YA world seemingly obsessed with "Team Boy A" and "Team Boy B" I was happy to find that the love triangle in the story was a background thread woven into a larger tapestry. When discussing this series, most people wouldn't start with the Peeta vs Gale debate. They want to talk about the horror of kids killing each other or about the parallels of the Capitol and our society. I think that's how it should be in this type of series. Don't get me wrong, I adore a good love story. I just never want it to come at the expense of a fantastic story.

And as far as I'm concerned, Mockingjay is a fantastic story to cap off a thought provoking series. I rarely reread books but I know I'll reread this series at some point in the future.