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

Oh August, what a month you were. I read a lot, went back to my high school to say hi to a few people, and felt the beginning of college creep closer and closer. I also wrote a lot, which was a refreshing change from July. But without further ado, here's a closer look into what my August was like: 



Swan by Mary Oliver
When I was thirteen years old, my mom took me to see Mary Oliver at a poetry reading. At the time, I didn't really like poetry all that much, and I couldn't see the point of going to watch someone read their poems out loud (oh, young one, how much you will change...). I went anyway, and even though I didn't totally understand everything that she was saying, I liked how Mary Oliver read her poems, and I liked how simple yet deep they were. A little while ago, I got this book of her poems. I read in a only a couple of days, and I once again was astonished at how simple yet deep her words are. Mary Oliver is able to reach the deepest part of the reader's soul, and through that she brings peace and comfort. Just like nature does. 

I recommend this book for: Lovers of poetry, espcially poetry about animals, nature, and finding the beauty in everyday things. 
I don't recommend this book for: Those who prefer poetry that is obviously deep. For you I recommend Give Me a God I Can Relate To


In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It by Lauren Graham
Back in April, I read Talking As Fast As I Can, but when I was buying that book, I discovered that Lauren Graham had another book coming out that was specifically written for high school graduates. Being a soon-to-be high school graduate, I preordered the book. I got in April, but it had been sitting on my bookshelf until a couple of weeks ago. Like in her memoir, Graham uses her words to encourage, to make others feel less alone, and to let them know that whatever happens, it was supposed to happen that way. It's only around 40 pages,  This book is full of little tidbits of wisdom, and pocket-sized comfort for bad days. 

I recommend this book for: The new high school seniors, the class of 2018, and anyone else who just went through a giant life change. 
I don't recommend this book for: Those who are looking for something longer (if this is you, I recommend Talking As Fast As I Can), or who don't like Graham's writing. If this is you, but you still want something inspirational in the form of a memoir, try Bossypants


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Back in December, my teacher who also ran the book club recommended this to all of us. The way she described it made it sound interesting, so I kept my eye out for it. We Were Liars is a a book that attacks the image families present to other people, and it does it a mysterious way. This book doesn't feel like a mystery at first, but after the first two parts, you quickly start to realize that not everything is as it seems. If you like mysteries, I'd definitely put this on your list. 

I recommend this for: Fans of Celeste Ng. The writing is similar, but still distinct enough that each author has their own voice. 
I don't recommend this for: Anyone who doesn't like mysteries. If you still want a fiction book that you can get lost in, try To Kill a Mockingbird


I took this picture from their  Facebook Page

I took this picture from their Facebook Page

Bayside Church
I was raised in Seventh Day Adventist schools and churches, and had never gone to a church of another denomination for a service. But a couple weeks ago, Annaliese asked me if I wanted to go to a non-denominational church with her. She said the music was good, and I'd been trying to find something to do on Sunday anyway, so I said yes. It was one of those mega churches, so there were lots of people, and there were drums and lots of lights, which I didn't see much of in church growing up. I actually really liked it. Since it was non-denominational, there was less theology and more Jesus, which I think is what church needs to be anyway. 

My High School
The school I graduated from has an alumni football game at the beginning of every school year. I was never on the football team (or any team, for that matter), but a few of my friends were, so I went to watch them and to see some of my other friends who are now Juniors and Seniors. It was a bittersweet experience for me. I loved seeing people I hadn't seen since June, but it was definitely strange to go to my high school campus and know that I won't be back for a really long time. They've already started school, and some things are different. I'm happy for everyone that is still there, but it's certainly a weird experience to know that your time with the school is now over. Still, seeing people was really good. I'm going to miss everyone very much, and you can bet that I'll be trying to get a few of the seniors to join me in Washington ;-). 

This month was a good one. I used the motivation I'd regained to write a bunch of future posts for my first quarter of school. I read a lot, started writing in my journal again, and did a couple really good things with really good people. I know that at the beginning of the summer I superstitiously thought August would be the worst month, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I have throughly enjoyed the month of August, and I hope all of you can say something similar. Here's to September, who knows where I'll be this time next month. 

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

Well, July is over and my oh my what a month it was. This month felt a lot like June at the beginning, with the theatre internship most evenings and mornings spent watching The West Wing and struggling to write in my journal. Once tech week for the theatre hit, however, everything picked up. I saw opening night of The Music Man, and felt an overwhelming pride for how far I've seen the actors come. I went to France and Luxembourg, and that was really good for so many reasons. As you'll see, I didn't read anything, but I did a lot of other good things. 


This month, like June of 2017, I didn't read anything. The first part of July was intense, and I felt bogged down by a lot of things, including reading and writing. I didn't post anything to this website the last couple of weeks, and fill that extra time with reading. So what did I do instead? I made myself live. I finished my internship with a theatre, and I went to France and Luxembourg. I got out of my own head. I forced myself to sit and not think about anything except for what was right in front of me. I have books ready to be read in August, but honestly I'm very happy that I didn't read anything in July. 



Paris, France
I had been wanting to go to France (and Paris in particular) since I was twelve. I'm so excited to write about my experiences in the three cities I went to, but for now I'll just say that Paris is beautiful, but it's beautiful in different ways than what I was expecting. Cobblestone streets aren't as common as I'd thought, but pigeons that follow you everywhere certainly are. The city doesn't smell like cherry blossoms or daisies or roses, it smells like a city. 


Marseille, France
Marseille was probably my favorite part of the trip. A city in the south of France, Marseille is known for it's soap, which I found random yet delightful. While there, my mom and I went to a market place that had been set up right across from our hotel, where we bought souvenirs for everyone back home (and for ourselves, too). Speaking of hotels, our room had a terrace, and we spent part of both our nights there sitting outside and observing the goings on from above. It was truly a beautiful place, and I would go back in a heartbeat. 


Dommeldange, Luxembourg
When thinking of things we could do while in France, I kept wondering if there was any way we could leave and go to a surrounding country for a little bit. I remembered learning about Luxembourg in Sophomore year World History (it's capital is Luxembourg City, which is very helpful when you need to learn all the countries and capitals), and figured that since it's such a small country, it wouldn't be hard to pop over for 24 hours. So my mom and I took a train, and spent one night in a Double Tree hotel while we watched TV in English for the first time in a few days and ate pizza. It was an odd way to spent our time in a new city, but it was fun nonetheless. In the morning we went for a walk in the nearby neighborhood, and it was quite beautiful. The walls were colorful and there were lots of flowers. To me, it actually felt a little bit like England, except almost everyone spoke German. 

I came into July feeling very unmotivated with this blog. I've had it for over a year and a half now, and somewhere in June I lost my love for it a little bit. So I took a two week break and focused on two other things that I love- theatre and traveling. I needed to get out of my own head so that I could step back, see this blog for what it is, and come back feeling like I actually had things to write about. August is going to be good. I have posts read to go up that I am very proud of (some of which I have been working on since March). My motivation for this blog that I love so much is back, and I'm excited to see what the rest of this year has in store. 

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

Remember last June when I didn't read any books and basically hid from the world all month? I'm very happy to say that this wasn't the case this year. Sure, June had it's ups and downs like every month does, but overall it was still a better month than June of 2017. This month I started an internship and got to spend lots of time with theatre oriented people who love many of the same things I do. I also read a book that gained a permanent place on my bookshelf. 


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Bossypants by Tina Fey
I've mentioned this a couple of times since October, but this year I really wanted to read more memoirs. I definitely haven't read enough of them yet, but this summer I wanted to change that. Last time I was at Barnes & Noble, I picked this one up. Bossypants was released in 2011, and I've been hearing about it almost ever since. I love Tina Fey, and after watching all of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I decided to give her book a try. I finished it in only a few days, and I loved it. It made me laugh, and gave me much of the same information from Jenna Fischer in The Actor's Life, only with a more humorous take. 

I recommend this book for: Fans of Tina Fey, memoirs written by comedians, or both. 
I don't recommend this book for: Anyone who doesn't like any of the above, and anyone who doesn't like Saturday Night Live



Stage Right Productions
This month, I've been working as an intern for a nearby community theatre. I'm the intern for their production of The Music Man, and so far it's been a really good experience. There's still a few weeks to go, and they're going to be busy weeks, but I'm excited for them. I'm going to miss this internship when it's over, and I'll always be thankful that I had it. So far I've learned a lot that I wouldn't have learned otherwise, and it's all information I needed to know in order to grow and progress. 

This has been a month of adjustment to a simpler life style and a slower life pace. I've spent a lot of time watching movies that have been in my Netflix List for forever (should I rename this Books I've Read, Things I've Watched, and Places I've Loved? Haha, nah...) and journaling. June has been a very reflective month, and I think we all need one of those every once in a while. Here's to July, I hope it's a good one for all of you. 

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

Before we begin, I think it should be noted that yesterday was my last day of high school. Tomorrow begins my graduation weekend, and wow did I start to think this day would never come. This month was insane. Parts of it dragged by while others flew by faster than I could blink. I'm glad this month is over, and I'm glad that this school year is over, even if I am getting more nostalgic by the minute. With all of this in mind, here is the book I read and the places I've loved from this month. 



Helium by Rudy Francisco
Rudy Francisco has been one of my favorite poets ever since I saw him recite his poem entitled Scars/To the New Boyfriend. He has a way with words and metaphors that is just so beautiful, and his book was incredible. Some of my favorite poems that were included are To the Man Standing on the Corner...SisterStrength, and Museums

I recommend this book for: Those of you who like poetry, especially poetry that talks about mental health and race, as well as poetry written for poets. 
I don't recommend this book for: Anyone who doesn't really like poetry, or who wants poetry that's a little more on the tradition side in terms of form. 



Campbell Heritage Theater
I ended up not going on my class trip, so over Memorial Day weekend I didn't have anything to do. This was really great, because I finally got the break I so needed, but I also got to go to my first high school's graduation. I told a couple of my friends and surprised a couple others, and got to sit and watch my first group of real best friends graduate high school. It was really cool to see three of my best friends walk across a stage to get their dimplomas when I'd known them Freshman and Sophomore years. They all worked so hard, and I'm very proud of them. 


The Gazebo
When I first started this website, I told myself that even though I have loved this gazebo since starting at this school, I wouldn't include it in these things until I was about to graduate. And here we are. This gazebo has been there for everything in the last two years, and I actually have a poem going up soon (Ode to My Gazebo), because I'm just kind of cheesy like that. This gazebo will have a special place in my heart forever, and I will miss it very much. 

Mentally, this month wasn't the best. My emotions were numb 90% of the time, and that isn't a feeling I'm used to. I was really stressed and my anxiety crept up on me a couple of times. Still, I'm glad that this month was what it was, because having gone through the last 31 days graduation seems even sweeter. My emotions have definitely returned, and the feelings of nostalgia are back as well. I'm ready for next month, even though I'm not really sure what to expect. 

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

Oh my, April, you brought so much good with you. From the musical performances, to a spring banquet and music tour, I'm so thankful this month was what it was. I read many amazing books (some poetry- finally!), did some awesome things, and went to some really cool places. Here are the books I read and the places I loved this month! 



Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
I've mentioned Gilmore Girls a few times, but I don't think I've ever fully expressed just how much I love it. Her book goes through her journey to where she is now, and also chronicles her experience on Gilmore Girls, as well as Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Reading this book felt like I was talking to her directly, like were just sitting on a couch and she was telling some of her favorite stories. 

I recommend this book for: Anyone who is a fan of Gilmore GirlsParenthood, or Lauren Graham. 
I don't recommend this book if: You don't like any of the above or if you aren't a fan of memoirs. 


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
After four months of being in a musical preparation class, I made my way back to book club. This is the first book I've read since being back, and I finished it in two days. The writing is easy to read, but the story is incredibly deep. It's easy to get lost in, and that's one of my favorite feelings. 

I recommend this book if: You like poetic writing, internal monologue, and a hint of mystery that unfolds throughout. 
I don't recommend this book if: Rape is a trigger for you. 



My school's gym (again)
April brought the end of Pirates of Penzance, and while there were moments when I couldn't wait for April 8th, once it actually came around I realized how much I was going to miss this musical and all the people who helped make it what is became. Everyone pictured in the photo above affected my school year in a positive way, and I couldn't possibly be more thankful for them. 

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The Carmichael Public Library
On the Tuesday after all the musical performances ended, I found myself reading one of my poems to a group of people at a nearby library. Since I'd be preoccupied with the musical in the days leading up to this, I didn't really have time to be nervous. But around 5:00 on that Tuesday, the nerves set in. I was really, really worried about how it would go, but luckily I wasn't the only one who had never done an open mic before, and that definitely helped. The open mic went really well, and I'm glad I can check this off my bucket list before going back to do it again. 

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John's Incredible Pizza
This picture was taken in a photo booth at this year's SA spring banquet. If I'm being honest, this night wasn't my favorite considering it was from 11:00 pm - 1:00 am, but there were still some moments that I loved. Taking pictures in the photo booth with Annaliese was one of them, as was walking around in a long, green dress so I could look like Morgan la Fay (the theme was to come dressed as something that begins with the letter M). 

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Monterey Bay Kayaks
Over my final music tour, I seemed to do less singing and more unrelated activities, one of which was kayaking in Monterey Bay. I have a fear of water, and that fear is even bigger when it comes to the ocean. But I still went kayaking, and I'm very happy that I did. Annaliese was my boat buddy, which made things feel a lot safer for me. I wouldn't be surprised if I wound up kayaking again in the near future. 


The Bay Area
Just in general, being the Bay Area for five days (ish) was really nice. Getting to walk down Pier 29 and eat strawberries, seeing the San Francisco symphony, and singing at Grace Cathedral were all incredible moments from this month. I love the Bay Area, and I've found that I seem to love if even more now that I've moved away. Returning to a place you lived (or lived near) makes you appreciate the ordinary beauty in it, and ordinary beauty is something I strive to see everyday. 

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Santa Cruz
I've said before that I grew up near the beach, but for some reason I always forget how much I miss it until I'm back with the sand and the waves. On the last full day of our music tour, we went to two beaches. The picture above was taken at the first beach, and I spent most of my time running through the waves and taking pictures with some of my favorite people. Being on the beach again after being away for so long was definitely one of my favorite things from this month. 

April was a really good month. Towards the end I started feeling more stress than necessary, and I was fairly anxious all month, but overall it was still good. I went to a lot of good places and met some really cool people. The books I read were easy to get myself lost in, and that allowed me the chance to escape from my daily stresses and anxiety. May is looking like it'll be really hectic, but part of me is still looking forward to it. I hope you all had a good month of April, and hopefully May will be wonderful as well. 

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

Happy end of March! Even though I'm sad that this month has come to a close, I'm very excited to see what April has in store. This month was very full. Trips to England and Los Angeles, dress rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance (our first performance is on Saturday!), and a couple good books as well. With all that said, here are the books I read and places I loved in March of 2018. 


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Secrets for the Mad by dodie
dodie (lack of capitalization is intentional) is one of my favorite musicians. When I learned last year that she had written a book, I bought it as soon as it was available. I did not, however, read it as soon as I had it. I received the copy in November (?) of last year and only started to read it at the end of February. I can't believe I didn't start it as soon as possible, though, because this book is absolutely beautiful. It's part memoir, part advice, part song lyrics and poem stanzas. 

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin
I may have read this for an AP Literature book report, but I loved it so much that I counted it towards my 18 books while being 18. There are characters I see myself in, characters I see other people that are around me in, and characters I hope I never meet in real life. I also loved it because even though it was written in the 19th century and has the language to go along with it, it was still easy to read and easy to get lost in. I definitely would recommend it. 


Newbold College

Newbold College

Bracknell, England
I love England, and Bracknell in particular is one of my favorite places on earth. I'm so excited to go to school here in a few years, and I'm hoping to return to visit within the next year. I had such a wonderful time here, and I'm really glad I went back, even if it was for only four full days. 

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London, England
I feel that the best way to start this is by saying that I saw the Queen of England. She was driving out with her entourage and we saw her. My little 36.2% British heart was extremely happy to part of something like that. While in London I also climbed the stairs of St. Paul's Cathedral (all 528 steps. But I'm not totally convinced it isn't more), ate vegetarian fish and chips (the "fish" was really just breaded cheese, but it was delicious), and because I wore the same shoes that caused the Great Seattle Blisters of 2017, my feet hurt very badly by the time we got on the train to head back home. It was still a wonderful day, and I'm really glad we did everything that we did. 


Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
This is my favorite place in the entire world. This may seem strange, but it's true. I love that you can see the Hollywood sign and I love the lower level of the Observatory where you can sit before a wall of stars. My mom and I always walk up from the parking lot, so while there we walked 2 miles (1 up and 1 down), not including all we walked while inside the observatory itself. This was the last place we went while in Los Angeles, and to me it was the perfect way to end my Spring break. 

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Downtown Disney, Los Angeles
My "needs to be gluten-free and really shouldn't have that much dairy" stomach was not pleased with my trip here. I had a pizza, fully gluten and everything, and a chocolate ice-cream milkshake thing and I didn't feel great on the walk back to the hotel. But all that considered, I'm so glad I went to Downtown Disney. Disneyland itself isn't the happiest place on earth for me, and it really never has. But I've always loved Downtown Disney. Being  there at night is especially lovely because of all the lights, but during the day it's wonderful, too. Like I said, I had pizza and the milkshake, which my tastebuds adored. And then the next day we went to Starbucks and the Disney store where I left with a Dumbo mug, which I may have used three times since returning home. 

This has been a really good month, and there's still more to go. In my detox tea talk for the month, I mentioned that the two predominant emotions for the last few weeks have been happiness and contentment. I've had a wonderful month. Memories were made, good books were read, and I felt myself living for the first time in a while. I hope you all had a good March as well, and here's to an even better April!