Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

ImageSince last summer I have had Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children on my “To Read List”. I finally found it at our local used book store (McKay’s) for super cheap and bought it with much excitement. I dove right in to the book and finished it in about a week.

I usually read fast, but I wanted to slow down for this one. My reason being that for school I read hundreds of pages a week (thousands sometimes..) and I did not want to read it the same way as I do my school readings… if that makes any sense.

SO, with that being said, I give this book a full 5 stars. If you don’t know anything about the book, the author, Ransom Riggs, tells the story of a boy named Jacob who loved to listen to his grandfather’s imaginative stories from his time in World War II. Jacob’s grandfather was a jewish child at the time and found refuge on an island on the coast of England, which is the setting for his wild stories with peculiar characters that he recounts to Jacob. As Jacob grows up he disbelieves these fairy tales; however, after his grandfather’s mysterious death (or murder) he sets out to find this island. Anything else would be a spoiler so I won’t go into detail, but the rest of the book is wonderful.

Ransom Riggs consulted vintage picture collectors and used several black and white photographs (only some were slightly edited) throughout the work. I loved the experience of reading a book with vintage pictures. It added more depth to the visual part of reading. Some pictures were pretty creepy, while one in particular actually caused me to shut the book and cry a little because it was so sad. I loved turning to page and seeing what had been described to me on the previous; it was like my imagination was working with the author on a deeper level to fully understand what peculiarities he was describing through his words (which were still very descriptive, even with the aid of the pictures).

It was definitely a book I think I would have enjoyed from early high school to now. Since I read A LOT of philosophy and theory for school, reading a book like this felt a little out of my element at first. I was wondering, “Am I too old for this?” and “Am I going to be bored?”; however, it was not boring at all. I found the plot to be pretty simple, but the mythological and purely fictional elements of the book to be creative and unique.

Since the book is narrated by a sixteen year old boy, there were points that I found laughable because it reminded me of my guy friends in high school and their thought processes. But the narration was not un-relatable at any point, which I think can happen in any book when it is written in first person and there is an age division between the narrator and the reader or the character is of the opposite sex than the reader (this is just a personal opinion from reading experiences but it does not happen all the time).

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 14. It does not have explicit content or any sort of inappropriateness about it, but I think that in order to fully appreciate the duo of the pictures and the writing, that a more mature reader is the one who needs to pick up the book.

AND I can’t wait to read the sequel! But first I am going to go back to philosophy for a while… because I do miss it.  I will say hello toHeidegger before picking up my next read. Again, I will be consulting goodreads.com. My new BFF.

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Heidegger. How intimidating.

 

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Graduation

After four years of finding my way, I finally made it to the center stage to receive my diploma. 

I never felt like I was ahead of the game or close to the light at the end of the tunnel until I was literally walking across the stage. In fact, it still seems a little unreal. I have a small paranoia of forgetting to translate latin or write a final paper, even though everything ( absolutely everything) is all finished. 

I think the best part about graduation was that Jared and I got to do it together. Not only is he my husband, but he is my very best friend. We have been through everything together while at school, and when we found out that we got to graduate one after another we were so pleased. And on top of that our graduation’s guest speaker was unbelievable. She gave a speech that I will never forget and that I will probably use as motivation in the coming years. 

In the coming year we are moving to CANADA and we are both going to start masters programs in Toronto. I think it will be a unique journey that not a lot of people make, but I am certain we will have a blast. But in between moving and starting fresh, I want to take the summer to reflect and to enjoy the time we have at home. 

My sister is also graduating high school this week! 2014 is definitely marked by these ceremonies and transitions for my sister and me. Its such an exciting time! Here’s to the graduates! (Below are my past roomies and best friends!)Image

Adventure: The Blue Hole

This past weekend Jared and I went to a place called “The Blue Hole” on the Ocoee River. We love doing things outdoors and now that summer has officially arrived we were so excited to do something new. I had been to this spot on the river before about 4 years ago and did not like it, but a few of our friends and Jared were insistent upon going because it is a pretty iconic spot that mostly everyone raves about. So we went.

It was a blast! I did not spend too much time in the river because I forgot the right kind of shoes… (not on purpose) and one of our friends could not get in the water because of a previous injury that could not get wet. But everyone else loved the river and the weather was perfect. We went on a hike too and that was absolutely great (besides the plethora of baby snakes). Afterwards we went to an overlook (I think it was called Boyd’s gap) and we saw fantastic views of the mountains and the river, plus a few old hippies smoking pot. We had such a great time with our friends and we were so blessed for a little break from studies and preparations for graduation.

Over the summer I hope to take more adventures and would encourage anyone to get out and do something in the sun! It made me feel so happy to have my skin and hair soak in the sun and to feel so warm after such a long winter. I love the feeling of being active and being outside. I would never call myself an adventurist, (like, I am never going to hike the appalachian trail or catch a wild animal with a trap I built myself, or even pee in the woods) but these little mini adventures always make me so joyful! I can’t wait for our next excursion! Rafting maybe?

 

The top is the married group, and the bottom is our two single bachelors. We took so many pictures, but these are my faves

The top is the married group, and the bottom is our two single bachelors. We took so many pictures, but these are my faves

How to Shop: Respect in the Store

So in the past year I have worked in nearly every kind of retail. Victoria’s Secret. Bath and Body Works. The Limited. and a Discount Shoe Store called Becky’s.

At each and every store I have discovered that there is a general lack of appreciation for employees, disrespect to product, and overall laziness exhibited by shoppers. From this year of experience (which I know is not a lot) I have made some personal rules of how to shop with the whole picture of the store in mind (that is keeping the employees, display, product, and other shoppers in mind) while I am in the store.

Rule 1: Don’t touch it unless it’s necessary. For employees everything that is slightly off kilter is something that they have to fix again. When I go to any store, even Wal Mart or Target, I have a no touch rule. I don’t touch anything unless I want to check a price or look at a label.

Rule 2: Be friendly to greeters. I realized while at the Limited that greeting was an actual job. When I was in this role I was supposed greet everyone who came in the door and tell them all about the promotions. Most of the time people would shrug me off and keep on walking. It was such a hard job to do right mainly because people did not think it was necessary for me to tell them how to save in the store or to make them feel welcome. I think greeters (who try) deserve a brief moment when you walk in the door.

Rule 3: Put it back where you got it… unless you are told to leave it somewhere else. I don’t know why people pick things up and put them down elsewhere. At Bath and Body Works people would pick up a lotion and put it down over in the anti-bacterial gels. Why? And at Becky’s people will literally leave one of the shoes that they tried on in the floor, the other on the shelf. Not only that but they will usually put them back on the shelf backwards if it makes it to the shelf at all. I know this is more than likely an issue of lack of awareness of the rest of the shoes in the store and the direction they are facing, or laziness to actually turn the shoe around, OR I have heard several customers say that “oh a worker girl will get that.” One time a man told his son to not put his shoes away because I would not be earning my money if he did it… Basically, when I shop, I always will return any item that I have to the place I got it.

Rule 4: I don’t haggle with coupons. After working in stores that do not stack coupons, I now understand why discounts on discounts are not offered. There is always special deals going on in the stores and usually coupons can only be used selectively. Before I shop I always read the fine print on coupon BEFORE I go to the store.

Rule 5: Say Thank-you. Usually the employees will thank you for coming in today… and its awkward when people say you’re welcome or nothing at all. I know that is the normal response, but every time some one said it I felt a little unappreciated. So now, when I am leaving the store, I always say thank you.

Rule 6: Speak Up/ Listen: Through watching people shop, I have found that until there is an issue on price or some other random conflict with the cashier that most shoppers are passive aggressive. When shopping its better to speak up, even if you want to ask to squeeze by another shopper (so many people will walk around an entire store instead of interacting with someone blocking an isle). If there ever is a problem when checking out (like if you don’t agree on the price or think something was scanned twice ect) it is important to bring it up and then LISTEN to what the cashier has to say. I have cried so many times over people yelling at me for a mistake that was easily fixable. It is frustrating to not be treated like a forgivable human being.

Rule 7: Don’t always blame employees for the way the store looks. At Victoria’s secret, the panty bars were an total mess 80 percent of the time. Some nights we would stay past mid night trying to make every drawer perfectly sized and folded (folding underwear is my new worst nightmare. I hate it). Then the next day the shoppers would ransack our work and it would be a wreck again. THEN shoppers would complain about the mess and sometimes tell the workers that they needed to do a better job. If things are messy… I have learned it is because for every customer there usually needs to be an employee right behind them cleaning up. Don’t blame the employees.

Rule 8: Don’t multi-task. I never try to eat or drink anything in a store. The chances of a mess or a spill is very likely, especially if I want to use my phone and carry anything I want to buy too. Plus, its always gross when other people leave their trash in the store. Sometimes I even find people’s straws in the floor. Gross.

Rule 9: Wear what is appropriate. When I shop, I always dress for the occasion. I try to never bring a bulky coat (that I will have to carry around) or layers. So many customers will try things on and forget their cardigan, their belt, or even their socks when they get caught up in all the items that they want.

Rule 10: Don’t shop in a bad mood! Unfortunately, the trend of retail therapy is extremely hot right now. So many people seem to be angry shoppers. I have found that when I shop, if I can’t be nice then I go home. Most of the time I am moody because I am hungry, but for other people maybe they had a bad day or haven’t found anything they like; either way, it is best to not be in a situation where you can take out your mood on others.

I know these seem very general, but it has been on my mind. I have found that I enjoy shopping more when I look at the whole picture, and I feel bad for all those years of acting like such a stuck up ponce by not noticing employees enough. Its so much better to shop, be happy, and to make it easier for employees! I know I love it when people respect me, respect my job, and respect the store.

P.S. I know Waiters and Waitresses are under appreciated as well! So many of my friends work in restaurants and getting tips seems to be the worst way of making money most of the time. From their stories I have turned into a 25 percent tipper and even tip at Sonic and Fazolis. If someone brings me my food or asks me how I am doing, they are getting a tip for it.

Relaxation

Lately my life has been so busy but so blessed. 

Thankfully I got a new job closer to school and in the same town that I live. This turned a 45 minute drive to work into a 10 minute drive; I am saving so much more time plus I am in a better work environment (that has complimentary chocolate and a higher pay!). 

On top of a new job, I am about to graduate. This has been a whirlwind of preparation, but I guess after 4 years of working for a degree that working a little for the ceremony when I am given that beautiful piece of paper is worth it too. 

I am looking forward to the summer months and all of the summer-y things that I consider traditions. I love summer in Tennessee, and since this may be my last one for a while, here are some ways I am going to relax and make the most of my time here: 

1. READ. Usually every summer I go through all 7 Harry Potter Books. I swear, I cry every time but I also learn something new every time. I have also just discovered goodreads.com. It is an excellent site for recommending books that are similar to the ones you like. I am now obsesssed with it and can’t wait to start compiling a perfect summer reading list from the thousands of books I have found on the website. http://www.goodreads.com/

2. TAN. I absolutely love the feeling of my skin being warm. I love being outside in general, but just laying outside… that’s wonderfuly relaxing. I have natural sunscreen too! I learned that some sunscreens really damage your skin even while protecting it. 

3. LEARN  A LANGUAGE. I know, I know, I am a nerd. But I really want to learn Italian so whenever I make it back to Italy I will be able to converse more with the people there. How fun would that be? 

4. VOLUNTEER. I have a friend who serves breakfast at a homeless shelter in town. Since I will more than likely be working in the evenings now, I can definitely volunteer with him and  help those in our communities. I have served at several homeless shelters while in college, and it is my favorite type of volunteering. 

5. COOK. I have been pinning so many recipes that look absolutely yummy. My first recipe to conquer will be home made iced coffee done right. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/perfect-iced-coffee/

6. JESUS. Yes, summer is a time of relaxing and there is no one better than Jesus to do it with. This summer I want to study parables and allegory in the bible to see if there is a trend of topics that Jesus used when telling stories. I have read through Augustine’s City of God (a tome of a book) this semester and he had interesting things to say about allegory so I would like to do some further investigating. Hopefully, I can learn more about Jesus and how he liked to interact with the mind of people (again, I am claiming Nerd status, but whateves). 

7. SONIC. Sonic Drive in is the best place for cool drinks in the summer. I have already been going frequently because they now have NERD Slushies…. genius and delicious. 100 percent sugary goodness. Plus they have half price shakes after 8pm and who can say no to that? 

8.THE DRIVE IN. Summer has perfect nights to stay outside well past dark. I love going to the movies in general, but there is something genuinely enjoyable about watching a movie outside at night in the summer with a nice sweet tea and buttery popcorn. I have not kept up with the movies lately (except for CAPTAIN AMERICA. Best Marvel film yet) but I am looking forward to going to the drive in to see a summer block buster that I don’t know about yet. 

9. ADVENTURES. Obviously my husband and I have several summer activities planned. Right before graduation we are going to a popular River Spot called “the blue hole”. I have been and he has not. I was not impressed last time I went because I hate swimming and being in a bathing suit, but it is an iconic place in TN, so we have to go for him to experience it. We are also going rafting at some point in the summer and I can guarantee we will come up with other adventures. Groupon usually has great deals on quirky adventures so you can bet we will be checking that often. http://www.groupon.com/

I am so excited about Summer. I feel like a kid again! But I know that summer can go to waste if I binge watch Netflix every day or sleep until noon, so having a great list of things to do (woops, did I forget working out? oh well…) will really help to keep me doing enjoyable things and not wasting such a great time of the year!