The One Where It's Always Tech Week: April 2019

I’ve been doing “Books I’ve Read & Places I’ve Loved” since December of 2016. I loved doing that series, and I still love looking back on those posts. However, I’ve found that they no longer accurately depict how my months go, and as you may know I’ve been trying to be more honest and genuine with these blogs. With that said, here is the first installment of a new idea I’m trying out :-).

Monday, April 01st - Today officially marked the beginning of Spring Quarter, which meant new classes, a new schedule, and (finally!) new weather. This quarter I’m taking a class in communication and languages in a global society, a class on privilege and oppression, an advanced acting class (cue the happy tears when I officially got in!), and research writing (in order to take advanced acting, since it’s an upper division class). I went to all the classes today, and while I think research writing is going to be the bane of my existence for the next eleven weeks, I’m feeling very optimistic about where everything is headed. Today also marked the beginning of rehearsals for A Wrinkle in Time! I’m so exited to be back to days of rehearsals, line memorization, and bonding with a giant group of people.

A happy Claira on a happy day :-)

A happy Claira on a happy day :-)

Friday, April 05th - It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier! It’s been such a wonderful week and it’s been really great to get back to friends and classes and play rehearsal, but it’s also going to be really nice to sleep in for a couple days. Today started out all beautiful and sunny, and slowly the clouds and rain crept in. My roommate wanted to get her haircut, so we walked to another friend’s house before the rain started and when we left it started sprinkling. We fed said friend’s horse and then drove back to school. The picture below was taken on the drive back to school when it had officially started raining. My little friend group (minus two) went to vespers and then had a mini game night later on. It was a typical Friday that served as the perfect end to a wonderful week.

A rainy drive back to school.

A rainy drive back to school.

Monday, April 08th - I am full on craving an AWIT rehearsal. One was supposed to happen tonight but it was canceled due to my director traveling back from a weekend film festival. So, I must be content with memorizing lines and getting the endorphins through using the dorm gym (a less fun way to keep my happiness levels up, but good for me nonetheless). It’s still raining today, and while it’s really pretty to look at from inside, my walk to Privilege and Oppression was anything but fun. I made the mistake of wearing a dress (I just really didn’t want to wear pants), and by the time I’d made it to the other end of campus the front of my dress was pretty soaked. But we live and we learn, and I have definitely learned to suck it up and wear pants on rainy days. I am now off to do some reading and some line memorizing, all while drinking a very good cup of coffee :-).

A smiley Claira with her afternoon cup of coffee.

A smiley Claira with her afternoon cup of coffee.

Tuesday, April 09th - Fall Quarter, I had so many bad mental health days I lost track. Winter Quarter was so much better and I only had a couple days where I didn’t feel my best. I was hoping Spring Quarter would be much of the same, but the last couple of days haven’t been the best. Today was a rough one, and I’m hoping tomorrow will be better but I’m not sure how to make that happen. I had a rehearsal tonight, and I think I’m suffering from a little bit of imposter syndrome. Here’s hoping I can figure that out and tomorrow’s rehearsal will go better.

A subpar picture of my (yup) coffee during my walk back from my class.

A subpar picture of my (yup) coffee during my walk back from my class.

Saturday, April 13th - Today was quite the day. I had a really relaxing morning (a rarity), and then spent the afternoon with a bunch of kids. I’ve worked with an organization that’s a bit like VBS (Vacation Bible School) since the beginning of Winter Quarter, but I never felt like I was bonding with the kids. That seemed to change a little today, and I’m very thankful for that. Afterward, I cleaned my room and started working on my homework at around 8:00 pm. Tomorrow is supposed to be a crazy day, so hopefully working on stuff earlier than usual will pay off.

Privilege & Oppression homework at 9:15 at night on a Saturday… this is the life I lead.

Privilege & Oppression homework at 9:15 at night on a Saturday… this is the life I lead.

Sunday, April 14th - Today I got to participate in a really cool project, and it was so much fun. A friend of mine is a senior and for her senior project she worked with some elementary students who wrote scripts, and then college drama students performed them. I was lucky enough to be one the actors, and the scripts were wonderfully whimsical, hilarious, and, of course, creative.

A cheesy face, NASA t-shirt, and wet hair (because a normal time to shower is a now a nonexistent thing in my world, so my hair is often wet at odd times of day).

A cheesy face, NASA t-shirt, and wet hair (because a normal time to shower is a now a nonexistent thing in my world, so my hair is often wet at odd times of day).

Wednesday, April 17th - This week feels like it will never end. Everything is still super exciting, but I’m definitely tired and ready for a couple days of more sleep. Today I had my acting class, and when it was over a bunch of us stayed behind to talk with our teacher about how to do theatre in the Adventist world. We talked about shame and how hard it is to make good art in a community that has a tendency to put aside hard progress and conversation. Talking with my teacher and my friends gave me a lot to think about. Today was definitely one of my favorites so far.

A random black and white selfie (and the drawing on my wrist is a subpar depiction of what a tesserat would look like…)

A random black and white selfie (and the drawing on my wrist is a subpar depiction of what a tesserat would look like…)

Saturday, April 20th - After the conversation with our acting teacher on Wednesday, one of my friends asked if I wanted to find a mountain to go sit and process our thoughts on Saturday. I said yes, of course, and found myself waking up at 8:00 on a Saturday to drive to Oregon and sit on a stump to think about my future in the Adventist church. I still have loads to think about and figure out, but right now I am trying to reconcile my idea of God with my idea of church and how I don’t think I need church but I know I need God and spirituality to be part of my life. Combining my need for spirituality and my need for theatre is what I’m trying to figure out next.

I took this while sitting on a tree stump with my raincoat pulled around me as raindrops fell down from the trees above me.

I took this while sitting on a tree stump with my raincoat pulled around me as raindrops fell down from the trees above me.

Wednesday, April 24th - I have no words for today, so I will take some from Meg: “You are my darling, and my dear, and the light of my life, and the treasure of my heart. I love you, I love you, I love you.” (Meg, to Charles Wallace).

Friday, April 26th - I spent a lot of time outside today. After four hours in the sun, I’m pretty sure my shoulders will be a bit pink tomorrow, but the time was still needed. I went on a walk with a good friend, and we talked about many of the events of this week. It’s been so long, and parts of it have been so hard. It’s been one of those weeks that makes you think about how you’ll put it in your memoir in thirty years and what you’ll have to say about it then. Still, I am thankful for neighborhood walks with good people, and tea, and swing sets, and sunsets.

I took this on my walk to vespers. It’s been really nice having the sun go down later, especially because it means I can walk through the sunset.

I took this on my walk to vespers. It’s been really nice having the sun go down later, especially because it means I can walk through the sunset.

Sunday, April 28th - Today was one of those weird days that is constantly making you wonder if it’s a good day or a bad one. There were many good things, such as breakfast and dinner with lovely friends, a trip to an empty parking lot where one of my friends let me drive her car (in preparation for when I’ll have to take my driving test this summer), and the realization that I know more lines than I thought I did. But it was also filled with procrastination, a weird AWIT rehearsal where I didn’t feel like anything was clicking, and a consistent dread of the upcoming Monday. I have decided, however, to go to sleep only focusing on the good. I have so, so much to be thankful for right now, even if some moments leave me feeling unbalanced.

I had a few moments in an empty blackbox, which is one of my favorite things :-)

I had a few moments in an empty blackbox, which is one of my favorite things :-)


Well… that was quite the month. It was messy and beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time, and the end is leaving me with a bad mental health day and an unsettled spirit. I hope this month was good to all of you, and I hope that if it wasn’t, May is much better. Here’s to the next 31 days, I really hope they are consistently wonderful.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: February 2019

Hello! I’ve said before that February isn’t really my favorite month of the year, and often I spend the 28 days counting down until March. This year, however, was completely different. I had a wonderful month, but unfortunately I have no books and very few pictures to show for it. Still, with that said, here is a small peek into what my month was like.

BOOKS I’VE READ

Like I mentioned earlier, I did not read anything this month I don’t know if it was because I was so busy, or because I was so happy, or perhaps a combination of the two. Winter quarter has been incredibly busy, and it has been hard to find time to read for fun. I do have a few books I want to dive into, though, so here’s hoping for a book-filled March!

PLACES I’VE LOVED

KCACTF- Eugene, Oregon
As a drama minor, I had the opportunity to go to a theatre festival called KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival). While there, I attended workshops and panels, and spent an entire week learning more about the thing I love so much. I took a lot of workshops on directing and diversity in theatre, and came away with pages and pages and pages of notes. I learned so much, and I hope this wasn’t the last time I get to attend a conference like this.

My time in Oregon was also a wonderful bonding experience for me and friends I haven’t seen much this quarter. Although we are all drama minors, we don’t see each other all the time anymore now that we don’t have an acting class together. We’re all in the winter show festival, but we’re all in different plays so we still manage to miss each other. This week was the perfect chance to catch each other up on how winter quarter has been going, and to offer love and support to each other (which is something we do best!).


As mentioned in the introduction, I had an amazing February, and I am honestly quite sad to see it go. Still, March is looking to be wonderful as well. If this month has not treated you kindly, I hope March turns things around. Here’s to a beautiful beginning of spring (hopefully. There’s still a horrible amount of snow on the ground in Washington)! <3

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: January 2019

Welcome to the end of January! This month has been the busiest of my Freshman year so far, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I didn’t read much (the only book I read for fun was read before I came back to Washington), or write very much, and I spent all my time in only a couple of places, but I really loved this month.

BOOKS I’VE READ

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The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
Ever since I started college, Fredrik Backman has become one of my favorite authors. Both A Man Called Ove and this one have become some of my favorite books, as well. This is a small novella that took me a day to read. It’s a Christmas story with a twist, and it ends in a way you wouldn’t expect from reading the first page. It’s gripping, thought-provoking, and captivating, and I have a feeling I will return to it for many Christmases to come.

I recommend this book for: Anyone who wants to start reading more and wants a small book to start them on their way.

If this doesn’t appeal to you, try: A longer one of Fredrik Backman’s novels. I still think everyone should read something he’s written, and A Man Called Ove is a great place to start!

PLACES I’VE LOVED

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The Little Theatre of Walla Walla

Much of my time this month was spent at a nearby theatre, working with their production of Calendar Girls. Working as a dresser meant having to master the art of the quick change very fast, and that was definitely one of the most challenging parts of the month for me. I spent many hours in the theatre, especially towards the end where the game of “How many twizzlers can Claira eat during tech week?” was played. Working with this theatre has been a really good experience for me so far, and I’m so glad I still have two weekends of shows left.


January was a really good month for me. It started off a little iffy with a lot of changes (and we all know how much I loath change), but by the end it had become a wonderful month. I’m hoping the last 31 days were an indication of what the rest of 2019 will be like, and if it is, I can only imagine the good things this year has in store. I hope January was a good month for all of you, as well. If it wasn’t, here’s to 28 days of a wonderful February.




Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: December 2018

Happy end of 2018! I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but I had a really good time this year. Despite the awful things that happened, so much good in humanity was revealed. On a personal level, I tried many new things and had more successes than I thought were possible. This month in particular I finished my first quarter of college, which while being harder than I originally thought, was a wonderful way for me to fine tune what I want to do with my life. Upon coming home for the holidays, I was able to read a book and go to a few nice places (not all of which are pictured here due to a lack of pictures… haha).

BOOKS I’VE READ

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Manuscript for Murder by Jon Land (or Jessica Fletcher ;-))
This book was certainly interesting to read. I love Murder, She Wrote, and I love mysteries in general, so when I saw this in a bookstore I figured it would the perfect easy read for after finals. It was, and while it wasn’t what I thought it would be like, I’m glad I had it. The mystery is interesting, the ending isn’t super predictable, and there’s Jessica Fletcher. Parts a little cringy, but overall I had a good time reading it. If you want something easy to read with familiar characters, I’d pick this up.

I recommend this book for: Fans of Murder, She Wrote who aren’t opposed to fan fiction and who need something fairly mindless to read.
I’d skip this one if: You don’t like Murder, She Wrote, or you do but you don’t want the slightly cringy moments that inevitably arrive when a different author tries to capture well-loved characters.

PLACES I’VE LOVED

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Mendocino, CA
Yup, I went back! I’ve gone to Mendocino once a year since 2015, and the last three times have been with my mom. Originally we were trying to go over the summer, but when that didn’t happen we knew that in order to keep our tradition we’d have to squeeze it in during one of my trips home from college. Since I was only home for a week, it didn’t happen over Thanksgiving, so we managed to fit it in during the last few days of the year. Our tradition is still going strong! I loved returning to Mendocino, even though it was super windy. My mom and I walked through the town, said hello to Jessica Fletcher’s house (see book above), and ate lunch at one of the best places I’ve eaten in a while (the gluten-free bread was fantastic). Returning to Mendocino is always a little bit nostalgic for me, and since I’m already feeling extra nostalgic at the end of the year, this was the perfect time for us to return.


This December marks the second full year of being recapping my month in this format. I recently went back to Books I’ve Read & Places I’ve Loved: December 2016, and I was once again greeted with how much can change in two years. What I’ve come to learn, especially in the last year, is that nothing truly great comes from your comfort zone. In 2019 I am challenging myself to leave beyond my comfort zone, even if it’s just a inch further. I have a lot going on in January, and some of it is pretty scary. But hopefully, as long as I stay that inch beyond, I’ll run into February with some new stories to tell.

In this new year, I hope all of you do what is best for you. I hope you remember that you know yourself. I hope you breathe, and sing, and run, and dance, and laugh. I hope you remember the good things and put more good out there into a world that so desperately needs it. I hope this last day of 2018 is everything you hope it will be, and here’s to 2019- may it be a year we look back on with happiness.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: November 2018

Like July, November was a month where I accidentally took a break from writing. I say accidentally because I got to the end of the month and realized that I had barely posted anything, and when things were posted, I forgot to share them like I usually do. This month was one of many ups and downs. I had my first college breakdown (my writing teacher had said that if it didn’t happen during weeks 3-5, we should all expect one before Thanksgiving. He was right), had a mini crisis when it came to this blog, and tried my hardest to expand my social circle while still staying on top of everything else. November was a little crazy, but it was also really good.

BOOKS I’VE READ

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This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
I think it’s official- I will read anything recommended to me by my cousin. I should always keep in mind that anything recommended by her will result in me crying, but that’s neither here nor there. This book is spectacular. It revolves around a family of seven, with four boys and a child who was born a boy but discovers she’s actually a girl. This book goes in directions you don’t expect, and this book makes you think about how not even the black and white is black and white.

I recommend this book for: Fans of Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere). The writing is very similar, and Frankel has the ability to wrap readers in the lives of the characters and make them feel like they are part of the story.
If this book seems like a little too much right now, try:
Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng). Like I said, the writing is similar and the story is still deep, but in a different way that may seem more approachable.

PLACES I’VE LOVED

The Drama Department’s Fall Show - You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
I wasn’t expecting to get involved with the the drama department so quickly, but when a friend called to ask if I could help with house management, I jumped at the chance and said yes. This month I spent hours in a headset doing my best to keep up with unfamiliar- yet still extremely familiar- territory. I loved helping backstage, and it reminded me of how much I love tech people and being involved with a production in any way possible.

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Sacramento, CA
I realized towards the end of Thanksgiving Break that I hadn’t taken any pictures of my time back home, so here’s the picture I took in the Walla Walla airport to show how small it is. Going home for a week was exactly what my tired soul needed. It was so nice to burn candles, eat home cooked food, and play music without using headphones. I got to play card games and watch movies with my family, and I got to spend a day with friends I hadn’t really spent time with in over a year. I have a whole post going up next week about what it can be like to go home when you’ve been on your own for a couple months, but the main thing to take away is that I was really happy to go home, even for a short while.


November was a month of inner turmoil. I had that breakdown, started the process of changing my major and adding another minor (more on these later), and spent most of my time trying to figure out how to be a little happier with my circumstances. But I also took time to remember how blessed I am. I go to a good school and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good people doing good things. This month may have been a little strange, but I’m still very happy to be where I am, even when it isn’t perfect.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: October 2018

Before we get to this month’s summary, I feel the need to let you know that tomorrow is my 19th birthday and I’m really excited about it. In other news, this was a really good month for me. I continued the process of adjusting to college and have settled into new routines. I picked up some new hobbies (swing dancing is one of my new favorite things), and still had time to read some new books and go to a couple of new places.

BOOKS I’VE READ

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Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Last month, during the week of the Kavenough hearings, I posted something on my Instagram story about believing survivors. My cousin saw it and mentioned that I’d probably like this book. I bought the audiobook right away, and I listened to it everyday for a week while working. This book made me think about my own childhood, and maybe even gave me an insight into what some of the people around me were thinking and going through ten years ago.

I’d recommend this for: Fans of Brené Brown. Even though both women have their own distinct voice and they don’t talk about the same ideas, there is something that feels familiar.
I wouldn’t recommend this for: People who aren’t in the right place in their lives to listen to someone else’s vulnerability and see if any of it is applicable to them. And that’s okay! This book is pretty darn honest, and if you can’t appreciate it I’d wait a little bit. I also wouldn’t recommend this if topics like alcohol, infidelity, or eating disorders are triggering for you.

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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
My mom has been talking about this book for forever, and when I was a Freshman in high school she used to read me parts of it when I’d be having a particularly bad day. After reading Love Warrior, I decided to give this one a try for myself. Whenever my mom would read me sections, they were always about perfectionists and perfectionism (shocking, I know). Because of this, I expected the majority of the book to also be like this, but boy oh boy was I wrong. Apparently, most of the book is about shame, and this became a book I didn’t know I needed.

I’d recommend this for: Anyone who, like me, needs a book about how shame affects our daily lives and how we can overcome it.
I wouldn’t recommend this for:
People who aren’t fans of Brené Brown. I still think everyone should read this book, but if you don’t like the author then you won’t be able to hear what she has to say.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
I have become the girl who really only reads books recommended to her by her mother and her cousin, and I am very much okay with that. My cousin sent me this book as a graduation gift, and for whatever reason I kept putting it to the side to read something else. I am so, so, so glad I finally picked it up. When I started it, I wasn’t so sure since it seemed pretty slow, but it quickly picked up speed. Every chapter brings you deeper into the minds of the main character, and every chapter brings you deeper into the world of the other characters. This book made me cry (and when you’re cleaning bathrooms that’s not helpful). This book made me understand a lot of things a little bit more. This is definitely one of my favorite books that I read this year, and I’m happy it’s the last book I read while being eighteen.

I’d recommend this for: Everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.
I wouldn’t recommend this for:
See above.

PLACES I’VE LOVED

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The Barn Party (Adventist Halloween party)
One of things I’ve always found humorous about SDA culture is the universal agreement that if a gathering of more than, hmm, fifteen people should occur in the month of October it must be called a “Barn Party” (barn optional). This particular barn party was held in the middle of October, and I almost didn’t go. I was snuggled up in my bed when Annaliese asked me if she could draw some whiskers on my face with eyeliner. I rolled my eyes, but it was actually a really good night.

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Howard Tietan Park
One Friday morning, I got up at 6:30 to go watch a hot air balloon stampede with my roommate and another friend from high school who also ended up in college with me. It was very cold, very colorful, and very fun. I’ve always wanted to go see hot air balloons, and I have on more than one occasion googled flights to Albuquerque to see the giant hot air balloon festival in New Mexico. I’d still love to do that someday, but this stampede, with these people, in that park was one of the best ways I’ve spent an early morning.

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A Little Hotel Near My School/Downtown Walla Walla
As I’ve mentioned before, Family Weekend happened to fall the weekend before my birthday. My momma came up for the weekend (and is also staying for tomorrow too! Yay!!), and I left school for a few days to stay in a hotel with her. We ordered food and watched Gilmore Girls and I was able to fully relax for the first time since leaving home. It was the perfect way for me to spend my last weekend of being eighteen, and I’m really going to miss her when she goes back home tomorrow.


This month was a beautiful one. It was really weird not being around my family all the time, and at times the lack of familiar faces was overwhelming. But there were so many mornings where I woke up happy, and there were many, many nights where I went to bed smiling. I’m so thankful to be in this place, with all these new people, doing all these new things. This month felt like a really good start for the rest of 2018 and the rest of the school year. I hope all of you had a good October as well. If not, here’s to a wonderful November.