Au revoir 2012!

And so ends one of the craziest years of my life.. Not necessarily the bad kind of crazy (although lord knows, it had its moments). I made a lot of progress this year and met a lot of goals, especially in my academic life – which these days is my life. I passed my 15 hour paper, as I blogged about earlier. But even more exciting: I passed my language exam! I spent a lot of time worrying about that stupid thing, I really can’t express how happy I am that I passed!!! I also applied to two academic conferences and got into both (including the International Congress on Medieval Studies). I also just realized I got an A+ in every seminar I took  in 2012…
That was a lot of bragging, wasn’t it? But as I blogged about earlier, I need to start acknowledging my accomplishments and stop fixating on my (real and imagined) failures.

Even more exciting than all that is: Eric passed his latest actuarial exam is now an actuary! He gets a new job title, letters behind his name, etc etc.. He still has to be inducted in to the ‘society,’ which will take place mid-May in Vancouver (and I’m going, yay!). He is the hardest working person I know, and I’ve watched him work towards this for years. It’s so so amazing to see all those late nights and lost weekends finally come to fruition! Of course he still has a few more exams… ugh. However, once he finishes that he will be a “Fellow” and extra cool 😉

My top 5 books I read this year:

My photos from this year are a probably a better way to catch up with some of the stuff I did this past year, click on the pictures below to see more!
Spring and Summer:



AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND…… here is Gary in a tie, just because I can. Isn’t he dapper?


And here is a song I’ve been listening to lately – the newly released piano version of an old Rammstein song, Mein Herz Brennt!


Lots of stuff has been happening!
First of all, on May 27th my baby brother graduated from Highland High School! I can’t believe it. Not that he’s stupid or anything (quite the opposite) – I just can’t believe my little "Boo" is a high school grad! Almost 18! Time flies… I’m so happy for him and so proud! Luboo!!!!

In other news, Eric and I went to Vegas to see Flight of the Conchords. They were in Phoenix a while ago, but Eric got sick at the last minute and we weren’t able to go. He felt really bad and surprised me with this trip to make up for it 🙂 The concert was AMAZING. They played a bunch of old favorites and a few new (hilarious) songs. We both grinned/cracked up like an idiot the entire time. You need that once in a while, you know?
We stayed at the Venetian again. GOD I love that hotel! We got $25 of slot credits with our room reservation, so we decided to try gambling for the first time. After $6 we stopped due to boredom and never spent the rest, lol. We went to the Cabo Wabo cantina (Cabo is my fav alcoholic drink) a couple times and got blasted on delicious margaritas. All in all, it was just the relaxing weekend we needed. And this trip is just more evidence that I have the best fiancé in the world. Just sayin’…

I suppose the craziest news is that.. Eric and I finally got our house!!! It only took 14 months of waiting, despairing, yelling at the bank, etc… but really, it was worth the wait. We signed the papers a little over a week ago and moved in IMMEDIATELY afterwards. We’re still not done moving – turns out we have a lot of crap. However, we’ve bought most of our furniture AND put it together. The most recent thing we got was our patio set, and the "no assembly required" sticker just about brought me to tears (of happiness). Damn you IKEA! (I still love you<3)
The most difficult thing to move were my books. Books are rather heavy en masse. They are currently strewn all over our front room/dining room while I work on cataloging and arranging them (see picture). I’m kind of putting that off until later this week when Eric is out of town for an actuary seminar) for 5 days. Arranging my books will keep my mind (some-what) off missing my love 😦
Basic info on the house: in Gilbert, 3 bedroom, 1650 square feet, pool/spa, awesome, cantbelieveitsfinallyours. The rest you will have to find out when Eric and I throw our housewarming party 😛 … or when I post pics eventually.


I would do awful terrible despicable things to own this table:

  (Nettlestone Library Ensemble, available [here])

But I’ll just try to save up the money first.

In searching for an image of it, I came across an amazing blog about bookshelves: The Blog on the Bookshelf. It made me gasp aloud in child-like wonder. And sinful coveting.

Amazon Kindle

I have a bone to pick with the Amazon Kindle. Now, I understand what they are trying to do – access to millions of books under a minute is an interesting and noble cause. However, I just don’t understand how people can think it is superior to a book, or even that it will replace books. (ASU is even experimenting by giving some students Kindles to replace their textbooks!)

Now, it’s not just the ridiculous price tag that bothers me, but the experience of reading from a Kindle itself. To me, reading a book is not just about receiving information, but an experience (partly tactile). I was reading The Library At Night by Alberto Manguel this afternoon and he summed up how I feel about reading from a screen:

“As any reader knows, a printed page creates its own reading space, its own physical landscape in which the texture of the paper, the colour of the ink, the view of the whole ensemble acquire in the reader’s hands specific meanings that led tone and context to the words. (Columbia University’s librarian Patricia Battin, a fierce advocate for the micro-filming of books, disagreed with this notion. “The value,” she wrote, “in intellectual terms, of the proximity of the book to the user has never been satisfactorily established.” There speaks a dolt, someone utterly insensitive, in intellectual or any other terms, to the experience of reading.)

… leafing through a book or roaming through shelves is an intimate part of the craft of reading and cannot be entirely replaced by scrolling down a screen, any more than real travel can be replaced by travelogues and 3-D gadgets.”

If people enjoy the Kindle, good for them. I hope it encourages reading for people who normally wouldn’t (if you shell out $500 for the latest gadget, hopefully you’ll force yourself to use it!). I’m all for anything that gets people to read, even if it means books like Harry Potter and Twilight, and overpriced gadgets like Kindle. However… for me personally, I’ll stick to my old fashioned tomes that line my walls, not my hard drive. Aside from the supposed enormous selection (they are currently only at 275,000), I think I, as a huge book nerd, can live without the supposed “benefits” on the Kindle… as seen in the comic below:

(click to enlarge)

In one last caveat: I love how the kindle is marketed as a “wireless reading device” – isn’t that what a book is??

Less Anatomical?

Long time no see, bitches.

The first thing I have to bring up is the movie Atonement. It is a remake of Ian McEwan’s novel, which happens to be in the Top 3 best novels I’ve ever read… Ian McEwan is just a total genius!
The movie was directed by Joe Wright, the same guy who made Pride and Prejudice, which is one of my all time favorite movies… plus the soundtrack was made by Dario Marianelli, the guy who wrote the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, and that incredible soundtrack is up there with The Hours soundtrack!
Anyway, the movie was so good…. words can’t even explain. As you can tell by this rambling post, I am having a hard time putting it all together because it was just so.. AMAZING.

Speaking of amazing, Eric and I saw Amazing Grace – total crap. It all seemed to contrived and it was just.. boring. and I love historical films! What a shame…
We also watched Paris, Je T’aime – a series of short films about love and Paris. It was.. interesting. Some of the films were stupid or I totally didn’t understand them. Others were incredible. So I had a roller coaster of emotions the entire movie!

Since my last book post, I’ve read: Enduring Love (another amazing Ian McEwan novel), The Thorn Birds, Affair of the Poisons, The Boleyn Inheritance (one of the worst books I’ve ever read), Slaughterhouse Five, Amsterdam (*another* Ian McEwan novel), and Count of Monte Cristo (not the abridged version like most pussies! it was amazing).
I’ll spare you all my other thoughts on the subject.

/end rambling.

Flagstaff/Grand Canyon Trip

(click to enlarge)

Hey everyone! Eric and I are back home 🙂 For those of you who didn’t know, we went on a little trip to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon for a few days (We left on Nov 9th and got back Nov 12th). I bet you are dying to know what we did….(HA) so here is a summary of the two busiest days:

– We woke up and drove straight to the grand canyon, while listening to awesome Navajo music on the way up
– Once we got there we hung out at the most popular point and listened to all the different languages… very few people were speaking English. Eric and I decided we wanted to look Polish instead of American so we started saying all the random Polish words knew. Hopefully there weren’t any Poles there because we said a lot of not-nice things lol There was a huge group of Japanese tourists with a Japanese tour guide and I followed them around and actually understood some of what they were saying!
We spent most of the afternoon driving around and hanging out at different spots. We even climbed down into the Canyon a bit and just…. hung out and enjoyed the scenery.
– On the way home we stopped at the Little Colorado River Gorge, which is absolutely beautiful. We took a lot of pictures and chased a rabbit around!
– Then we went to Outback and had a huge delicious dinner. The waitress left us at our table for 20 minutes without taking out order, so we got a free onion blossom (MMM). It was happy hour “two-for-one” deal so we got blueberry martinis – DELISH.
– Then we went to Barnes and Noble and I got three books that I’ve been wanting for a while now (Three Musketeers, Amsterdam, and Slaughterhouse Five). what is better than buying books?
– Then we went to the Lowell Observatory. Not only is on top of a mountain kind of far from the city, but the city has laws against how bright lights can be so that the astronomers don’t have ‘light pollution’ problems. So.. when we got out of the car we almost passed out because we could see SO many stars – EVEN THE MILKY WAY!!! It was absolutely amazing, I wanted to cry…
We got to look in two big telescopes – one pointed at a comet, the other at the Andromeda galaxy. Then we got to look through the really really big telescope and as the M15 Star Cluster – it was so cool!
– When we got back to the hotel we watched Jim Gaffigan’s DVD “Beyond the Pale” and laughed til we cried. We had to keep pausing it because our stomach muscles hurt from laughing and we couldn’t breathe hahaha

– we woke up and went to Denny’s where we both got the lumber jack slam, which I hadn’t had in FOREVER – it was sooo good. Plus I had delicious hot tea because it was cold outside.
– Then we went to a grocery store and bought a bunch of fruit n stuff for our picnic later.
– On the way to the Wupatki ruins I read my “Amsterdam” book – it was beautiful writing as usual.
– We went past Sunset Crater as we drove towards Wupatki ruins. Then we got out and did all the walking etc required to see the ruins – and it was SO worth it! They were beautiful and we could actually go inside them in stuff, which they don’t usually allow at places like that…
– After we were done climbing around we sat down and had a little picnic.
– After all that we were tired so we hung out in the hotel room for a while. Then we went to dinner and the movies. We saw Dan In Real Life and it was pretty horrible…..
We came back, and fell asleep, and left in the morning.

I took a bunch of pictures but they aren’t all uploaded yet, I’ll post a link when I am done!

one mistress and no master

Last night Eric and I saw “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” I have been looking forward to this movie for FOREVER and I wasn’t disappointed! Of course, it wasn’t as good as the first one, but I didn’t expect it to be…. how could any movie be as good as the first!? My two biggest complaints: 1) the should have used Mozart again lol 🙂 and 2) They made Mary Stuart FUGLY. Which is weird since she was widely known for her incredibly beauty. But yeah.. it was AMAZING!!! Although historically inaccurate, but so is the first film (widely inaccurate!).

Cate Blanchett is SUCH an amazing actress, I just can’t even believe it…!! Even the people who didn’t like the film (whiners), agree on that much.
(click to view larger image) 

We also saw “The Heartbreak Kid” which was horrible. I mean… just… TERRIBLE. One of the worst movies I’ve seen in the theaters in a LONG LONG time. and we finally watched “The Lives of Others” – a German film that was amazing!! Now THAT is good story telling and character development!

As far as books go (I know I know, boring, but I’ll try to be quick), the best one I’ve read since my last book-post was
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir. Seriously, Weir is the best historical non-fiction writer EVER. Her Elizabeth book was so ridiculously good..!!!!!!! but… I’m not going to gush about it anymore because I would take up pages and pages lol
– I also read The Way of the Gladiator by Daniel P. Mannix which is all about all the messed up stuff they did in the Colosseum. It basically scarred me for life. I almost couldn’t finish it because it was SO graphic. And I handle stuff like that pretty damn well!
– Next was On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. McEwan is one of the most incredible writers I’ve ever had the enjoyment of reading!! I *loved* his “Atonement” and “The Daydreamer” was one of my favorite books as a child. This book did NOT disappoint!!! A.Maz.Ing.
– Then I read The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. For being an evolutionary biologist he is an amazing writer! I already knew a lot of the stuff he covered in the book, but he still entertained me with his wit and style.
– Next was Breaking The Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett. It was… interesting. Good interesting. but different from most atheistic texts I’ve read recently. It was like one long rambling account of all of his thoughts on the subject.. but they were interesting thoughts so I hung on. Not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but not the worst… so, eh.
– And then…. I Am America (And So Can You) by Stephen T. Colbert D.F.A.! One of THE FUNNIEST things I’ve ever read. The whole time I was just giggling my ass off!! it takes a lot for a book to make me laugh out loud… You must read it!

Ok I think I’ve bored you long enough 🙂
Now I’m off to get wasted at Outback Steakhouse with my family! hahaha (it’s my birthday dinner… even though my birthday was Sept. 6th….)

Books galore!

I know it’s been far too long since I last updated, but things have been crazy.
First my laptop fan was broken for almost a month, so every time I tried to turn on my laptop it would make this horrible screaming sound. Once it got fixed, school started.
This semester is already kicking my ass and it’s only been 2 weeks!

A quick update on the books I’ve read recently:

Caesar and The October Horse – the 5th and 6th books (respectively) in the Masters of Rome series. Both were amazing, as usual of Colleen McCullough. The October Horse was especially heart-breaking since it had the assassination of Caesar, which was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read. Poor Caesar L That is the last book of the series, but she is supposed to come out with part 7 – called Antony and Cleopatra – in November or December. I still can’t believe I read all those books in just a few months. That’s well over 6,000 pages!… oh well, it was definitely worth it. There’s not much more to say on these books that I haven’t said about their predecessors…

Roman Sex – I have John Clarke’s previous book “Looking at Lovemaking” which is also about Roman sexuality, but Roman Sex was much more accessible. It had big color pictures, which is important in an art book, as well as fascinating insight into the sexual ideas of the Roman people, which are far different than our own. I read the entire book in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down!

Mayflower – by Nathaniel Philbrick. I bought this book a year ago when I was interested in early American history (for once). About a third of the way through I was too bored to continue, so I stopped reading without any real plan to continue. A few days ago I just picked it up and started reading from where I had left off. I was SUCKED IN and couldn’t put the book back down again! I finished the last 2/3 of the book in about 2 days… It is truly heart breaking to see what Americans did to the Indians, and just the horrors of war in general… It’s also disgusting to see how we’ve glossed over and idolized the pilgrims into this garish thanksgiving facades that’s so far from the truth… 

I’m about half way though Alison Weir’s Life of Elizabeth I – which is proving FASCINATING reading! Talk about a page turner… I also picked up Plutarch’s Fall of the Roman Republic and Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days at Half Price Books (both of them together only cost me $10!!!!!).

The unfortunate thing is, I have to do SO MUCH reading for my classes that I have little to no time for pleasure reading. Oh how I wish it was summer again…

I’ll update soon with more interesting stuff … (hopefully)