Friday, September 30, 2011

May the odds be ever in your favor.

I've been meaning to write a review of The Hunger Games for a while now, but this week seems especially perfect. I finished the third book of the trilogy, Mockingjay, on Tuesday, and it also happens to be Banned Book Week. In some places, The Hunger Games trilogy has been banned for these reasons:

"sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group"

Source: via Tippi on Pinterest

Well, after reading all of them, I don't see how they are sexually explicit. Unless of course, kissing at the age of 16 is considered sexually explicit, but I don't really see that holding up against some of the other "young adult" books that are published today. As for violence, I can understand. When my friend first told me they were banned for violence, this particular line from Mockingjay came to mind:
"Weapons fall from their hands, fingers clutch their faces, as blood sprays from all visible orifices - eyes, noses, mouths, ears.... I grit my teeth and run, leaping over the bodies, feet slipping in the gore." Mmm, yummy.
In light of passages such as that, I can see why some people might think the books are "unsuited to age group." After all, when I encourage my peers to take time out of their busy college schedules to read the series, I always tell them: "It's a really fast read. I read the first book in two days during recruitment! [And if they're Greek, they understand how impossible it is to do anything except recruitment during recruitment.] Think Twilight, but better. Much better." I only compare The Hunger Games to Twilight because they are both written at a very low reading level but enjoyed by an older age group. It is there that the differences end.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You are more than you have become.

Last night, I saw The Lion King in 3D. I went with four of my female classmates, and we were all amused to notice every person in the theater seemed to be at least 18 years old.

Source: via Danielle on Pinterest

Watching the classic Disney film as a 21-year-old university student was an eye-opening experience. I hold The Lion King close to my heart, as my sorority's mascot is a lion. In fact, it's a running joke among my close sisters that I like to quote inspirational sayings from the movie in my everyday life. My personal favorite is from a leadership conference I attended with Alpha Delta Pi in the summer of 2010. During one workshop, we watched the scene where Simba sees his dad's image in the stars. Mufasa tells his grown-up son (in his deep, oh-so-sexy cartoon voice):
"Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become." (Hence my post title.)
So of course, when we discovered the movie was being re-released in 3D, we had to go. I'm proud to say that I contained myself quite well (unlike my embarrassing Harry Potter episode). I stayed dry-eyed through Mufasa's death and Simba's discovery of his body, even when Simba tugged on Mufasa's ear to wake him up. My willpower ran out, however, when Simba began crying and running across the gorge, begging for help from "somebody ... anybody!" Then I cried.

Source: via A on Pinterest

Sunday, September 25, 2011

These are their stories.

Anybody recognize the title of this post? Would you recognize it with the all-too-familiar "dun dun" immediately following?

That's right, it's the end of the introduction to "Law & Order" and its numerous spinoffs, including my personal favorite, the Special Victims Unit. Season 13 started last week, but I just got the chance to watch the newest episode today. Here are my thoughts. (Warning: Might contain spoilers, but I'll try not to ruin the episode for y'all.)

As a devoted fan (I have seen every single episode since 1999), I was nervous to watch the new season without Christopher Meloni (a.k.a. Elliot Stabler, a.k.a. a hot-but-loses-his-temper-too-easily sex crimes detective). I like how they embedded his story and reason for not returning throughout the episode, however, instead of just announcing he was gone at some point during the show. Of course, the average watcher might not even know Stabler wasn't returning to this season, and in that case, they definitely need the storyline to explain why. I do wish they could have at least included him a final goodbye scene or something. I'll miss him.

The new detective, Amanda Rollins (played by Kelli Giddish), doesn't seem too bad. I loved her go-get-'em attitude when she handed off her box to a passerby so she could get in the elevator with Cragen. But from my preliminary research on Season 13, I've learned Olivia Benson/Mariska Hargitay will be moving to a smaller role to allow the producers to wean her character out of the series. Wahh. So I was a little too judgemental of Rollins during the episode. She tried too hard, had a forced accent and could have seriously screwed over the case. But I'll keep an open mind. After Benson leaves, I'll need someone new to cheer for.

Things I loved about this episode: It was classic SVU. Money, power, credibility issues, twists in stories and a surprise witness at the end. And they brought back A.D.A. Alex Cabot to fight the bad guys; I absolutely love her character. So let's just say that though I miss Stabler's tantrums and volatile personality, I'll definitely be tuning in next week for episode 2. Who knows, maybe I'll even get to watch it on television for once instead of streaming on my computer!

Source: via Coldilox on Pinterest

Goodbye, Elliot. It was a good 12 years!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall into autumn.

I just love fall. It is undoubtedly my favorite season of the year.

The weather is perfect for jeans and a cardigan, but it's not yet necessary to bundle up in gloves and a hat every time I want to leave the house. It's cool enough for a hot drink at Starbucks but warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a good book. It's acceptable to wear a scarf with shorts or boots with a sundress.

Fall is also the perfect time for adorable day dates, like visiting a pumpkin patch, apple orchard or a corn maze. Which reminds me, the food of autumn is wonderful! Apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, other various pumpkin-flavored noms, sweet potato casserole, Thanksgiving dinner ... the list goes on.

And then, of course, there's the football. College football, professional football, tailgating, exorbitant amounts of barbequed food and clothing with school logos.

So get me some apple cider in the morning, take me to a tailgate with BBQ pork and hot chocolate, cover me in black and gold to watch the Mizzou Tigers take Faurot Field, and send me home to an oversized sweater, a good book and cuddling on the couch. That's my idea of heaven.

What's your favorite part about fall?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Increasing your Starbucks efficiency.

Unfortunately, this is not me. I am not this fashionable.

Back when I thought I could make a name for myself being a college advice blogger (a.k.a. last year), I always wanted to write about how college students can save money. If you know me at all, you probably know I'm a cheapskate. (Also appropriate: n: Tightwad, scrooge, penny-pincher. adj: Stingy, frugal.) One particular money-saver I always wanted to write about was Starbucks.

Now, you're probably wondering how on earth Starbucks could be a money-saver. My favorite drink is $4.24, for cryin' out loud! I'm not saying Starbucks will save you money over coffee from home or the grocery store or even the gas station. What I am saying is that a registered gift card on can save you a lot of money if you insist on buying a non-fat, no-whip, grande Peppermint Mocha before your 5 p.m. class every Thursday.

I am currently the proud owner of a Starbucks gold card. It's a fancy gift card with my name on it and says, "Cardholder Since 2009." As my friend likes to say, I'm like the Jay-Z of Starbucks. Impressive, huh? I love my card because I get my peppermint syrup free (a whopping 50 cent savings!), and after every 15 drinks I buy on my card, I get a free coupon in the mail! Of course, this coupon is always saved for that day when I really need a venti to get me through the day, because the coupon is good for any drink with any special additions. Score! Needless to say, I can't remember the last time I bought a Starbucks drink without my card. Why would I, when I get so many great benefits with it? (See the full list here, including free refills on regular tea and coffee.)

After reading this, you might be nonplussed, considering I still spend an exorbitant amount on Starbucks coffee. And I will admit, if I didn't have my registered card (with automatic reloading capabilities), I might not be able to justify the amount of drinks I buy. But if you're an addict like me, and you're going to buy the overpriced skinny vanilla latte anyway, I highly encourage you to get a gift card and register it online. Really, any other form of payment is just silly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Would You Rather?

This morning at work, my coworkers and I began a fun game of "Would You Rather?" It started with a question a friend (quite randomly) asked me at a tailgate this weekend:

"Would you rather only eat cheese for the rest of your life, or only eat hot dogs?"
(Obviously, I chose cheese.)

This continued with more silly questions (i.e. "Would you rather murder your significant other or win $20,000?" Yeah, think about that one for a minute), until one girl finally asked a question I really had to think about:

"Would you rather date someone horribly vain or wildly insecure?"

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

I know my answer, but I want to hear yours, first. Please comment with your answer (and reasoning, of course).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

94 Days at Mizzou.

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Whew. Every day I look at the countdown on my phone and the number gets smaller and smaller, meaning graduation is getting closer and closer! The 94 days I have left until graduation include:
  • 11 chapter meetings with Alpha Delta Pi
  • 44 scheduled shifts at MizzouRec
  • 84 class meetings
  • 5 home football games
  • 82 nights in the Pi lodge
  • 1 academic break (boo!)
Wow. I probably shouldn't have done that. Now graduation seems so much closer, and I'm started to feel a little depressed about leaving my carefree college life behind....

Talk about an overachiever.


Seriously, that's all I could think when I finished reading what I'm about to share with you. I found this amazing piece by Outside magazine online last week, which I'm sure will be influencing my bucket list shortly. The piece (if you didn't click the link ... but you should!) is titled "You're Going to Need a Bigger Bucket" and includes 51 "dream trips, daring quests, essential skills, and exalted states of body and mind" that Outside thinks everyone should experience in his or her lifetime.

Photo via Pinterest.
After reading this article, I'm confident this could be me one day. What great motivational advice!

Although I'm sure the piece as a whole will be the inspiration for many more blog posts to come, today I wanted to share with you No. 9: "Overachieve." I really can't say it any better than Outside already has, so I'm just going to include the text below. (All font modifications are of my doing and do not reflect the opinions or design choices of the Outside online staff.)
Outside's chief inspiration officer, 36-year-old ERIC GREITENS, is a master of getting things done. Like becoming a Navy SEAL commander with four tours, earning a Rhodes scholarship and a Ph.D., running 12 marathons and three ultramarathons, and now juggling operations for his own philanthropic organization with public speaking engagements, media interviews, writing books, and consulting—while still finding time to run, climb, and practice taekwondo. Here's how he does it: "It's all about energy. Whether you're leading a nonprofit organization, running a private company, doing something outdoors, or conducting military operations—you have to build habits that keep your energy high. This is my formula: (1) Vigorous exercise: Six days a week, I walk out of a gym, a dojo, or off a track pouring with sweat. When I have a great workout, I rarely have a bad day. (2) Good fuel: When I eat clean, quality food during the day, my energy never sags. (3) Good partners: Working with a team of positive people keeps your spirits up. (4) Balance: I pray every day, and I also laugh, a lot. You won't have focus without balance. (5) A goal: A worthy challenge will take care of your motivation for you."
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. It sure makes me feel like I could achieve a little more in my life!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Moment of Being: 09.11.2001

In my Advanced Writing course this semester, we discussed "moments of being." These are moments during everyone's life in which very detailed memories are formed. These can be moments of pure bliss, deep tragedy or any other drastic change or emotion in your life. Sometimes, you don't know why a particular memory has become a moment of being because you're not quite sure what you're supposed to have learned from it ... yet. Regardless, these moments are ingrained in your mind, from the things you saw and heard to the way you were feeling and even the way something smelled. Every nuance is recorded in your memory.

There is also such a thing as a "national moment of being" - a moment during which everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing when said moment occurred. For an older generation, this might have been the assassination of JFK. For those a few years older than me, it could have possibly been the Challenger explosion. For our generation, and so many above ours, it was most certainly 9/11.

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I lived in California in 2001, so it was fairly early in the morning when the television stations began broadcasting the attack on the Twin Towers. I remember my mom waking me up and telling me to come downstairs to her room, where the small television screen at the foot of her bed was filled with smoke and screams. I didn't quite understand then why something happening 3,000 miles away was such a big deal, yet when I walked outside to go to school a few hours later, I half expected the horizon beyond the cornfield outside my house to be similarly filled with smoke.

At school, the coverage continued to be played in the library and in our classrooms. Friends and teachers inquired about my family members in Pennsylvania after Flight 93 went down. I became worried; at 11 years old, I wasn't quite sure which county my grandparents and cousins lived in. But wouldn't my mom have told me if something had happened to them? (Don't worry, they didn't live near the crash. And my cousin who lived in New York City at the time was out of the state visiting friends, so I'm fortunate to not have any personal tragedies related to the attack.)

I know there were probably a million blogs posted today about September 11, and I don't presume to think my post offers any insight that another blog wouldn't. But I do remember that day, and I will remember it until the day I die. It was truly a moment of being, for myself and an entire generation.

I did stumble upon this gem today, however, which offers a new and interesting perspective on 9/11 and the lack of social media that existed to perpetuate the tragedy. If a major terrorist attack happened in America today, I'd hate to think of the unnecessary rumors and violence that would come out of the Internet's prominence in today's society.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

100 Days at Mizzou.

Well, maybe the boys in this post don't look quite like this. But a girl can dream!

So, I was walking past a particular fraternity house on my way home from work today and was inspired to write a new post. See, this fraternity really likes to play music on its lawn when the weather is nice, which is usually accompanied by several men playing sports in the front yard or lying out on lawn chairs, sometimes sans clothing. Some days, I find this irritating, but today I really appreciated the music because the fabulous almost-fall weather we've been having put me in a good mood.

As I was walking by the house (singing along in my head, of course), I realized it is probably the trivial things like this that I will miss about Mizzou when I graduate in December. I've lived in my Greek house for the past two years, so I've become accustomed to the surrounding atmosphere. This realization came only a few hours before I looked at my phone and noticed my graduation countdown app, which now says:

"Graduation! 12/16/2011. 100 Days Left."

Of course, I took this as a sign that I needed to somehow commemorate my last 100 days of my undergraduate eduction. So this is the first post of (probably) many, to record the good times and the bad before I leave Mizzou at the end of the semester.

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Someone, please feel free to make these for me.
They will make the fact that I'm graduating so much easier to stomach.

P.S. - As I was writing this post, the above-mentioned fraternity house began playing Justin Bieber ("One Less Lonely Girl"). Yes, I can hear it from my room.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nine movies in 24 hours.

Saturday/Sunday, July 23/24

At the Amboseli airport, waiting for the flight back to Nairobi.

Finally, after 23 unforgettable days in Africa, it was time to return home to the U.S. It would take me 24 hours and 15 minutes, including a 16-hour flight over the North Pole. Actually, if you want to count from the time we left Amboseli, it took 38 hours and 45 minutes - plus the two-hour drive from San Francisco to my home. That's right, we had a 14-hour layover in Nairobi, which we spent at a little cafe at the airport because we really didn't have anywhere to go in the city. I did get to try Pineapple Fanta, however. That was exciting.

I have now tried Citron, Fiesta, Apple, Pineapple, Orange
and Strawberry Fanta. It's kind of a game for me now.

Mom was flying straight to Switzerland for work, so we parted ways in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. I had a semi-quick layover in Dubai, which gave me the following impressions: Shiny! Western. Unbelievably hot. I felt like I was in a kiln the moment I stepped onto the jetway, despite the fact it was 4:50 in the morning. In the airport, I saw a familiar green straw, so I wandered about the terminal for a few minutes and - sure enough! - there was a Starbucks in the airport. I didn't get in line, though, because I didn't know if they would accept my gift card.

A monkey stole my apple!

Friday, July 22

Today, Mom and I made the very fortunate decision to ask Victor for an abnormal game drive time, at 10:30 a.m. Our British friends had seen giraffes when they went at this time earlier in the week, so we were hoping the animals would follow the same pattern today. Victor was very accommodating and agreed to take us, even those this wasn't a time offered by the lodge.

As luck would have it, we saw both lions AND giraffes on this drive! The lions were extremely far away, so it was difficult to capture a picture of them, but we could see them (a lion and a lioness) clearly through the binoculars. The giraffes were a different story; they were everywhere! There was a group about eight walking along the horizon, plus four more under a smattering of trees, and finally a momma and baby giraffe crossing the road.

After the drive, we spent the day eating and lounging by the pool. Before dinner, I took my book with me to enjoy an apple and a drink by the main lobby. I set my book and apple down on the table and turned to get some hot tea. I had barely taken a step when I remembered a member of the hotel staff warning me that the vervet monkeys that overran the hotel liked fruit. (He told me this after I ordered a cocktail by the pool. Apparently, the monkeys like to jump up and take the fruit pieces right out of the glass!) I turned around to grab my apple, and a monkey was already sitting on the table, holding it in his creepily human-like hands! The monkey held it to its face guiltily before it turned and scampered up the pillar to hide on the roof, before the Maasai man standing nearby could run over and scare it away. I felt bad for my neglect, especially considering the signs that are posted all over the lodge grounds:

I did feel a little better later, though, when a woman sitting nearby had her soda knocked over multiple times by a persistent little monkey who climbed onto the table to lick up the spillage after she finally moved seats.