Friday, December 26, 2014

Next year I'll read less; it will make a shorter blog post.

This year I found a study that stated,  
"As of January 2014, some 76% of American adults ages 18 and older said that they read at least one book in the past year. Almost seven in ten adults (69%) read a book in print in the past 12 months, while 28% read an e-book, and 14% listened to an audiobook." 
You can read more about the numbers of it all here. The numbers were lower than I expected, being a fan of reading myself. Then I wondered, "when was the last time I read a NEW book?" I have a tendency to find one book I like and then read it over and over and over again, rotating through a collection of about a dozen books within the year. How lazy am I? So, with the help of my iPad and Peter's library card from Seattle, I made a goal to read more new books this year. 

I made it to 52. Here's my list. I didn't include books I did not finish, but maybe I should have, because there were several that I tried to read but were not worth it. 

1. My Story - Elizabeth Smart
The memoir of young kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart. The author manages to take something so horrifying and hideous and produce an uplifting story, a task that I did not know was possible. She explains her experiences with eloquence, but it is for sure a harrowing tale; I found myself needing to skip to the end, when Smart was recovered, before going back to read it through again. 

2. Looking For Alaska - John Green
You know those books where the words are just so pretty the way they are strung? This is one of those books. The characters are flawed and realistic, angsty but sympathetic. I took an emotional roller-coaster for the day that I read this, because I couldn't tear myself away from it. Does contain language and teen sexuality. 

3. Piece of Cake - Cupcake Brown
Another memoir (I adore memoirs, le's be real). Not for the faint hearted. Cupcake Brown (yes, that's her real name) tells her story starting at the age of 11. She faces foster care, child abuse, prostitution, gang involvement, drug addiction, drug dealing, and homelessness, however, is now a working attorney in the United States. This story... wow. I repeat, not for the faint hearted, you have strong language and horrifying situations from the very first chapter, but I felt an incredible sense of compassion for Cupcake and other children like her failed by the court systems, and gratitude for my own life. 

4. The Fault in our Stars - John Green
I honestly wasn't a huge fan of this one. Had I been a young teen girl, I am sure I would have been going crazy for it, though. Cute, heartwarming, but also crippling, teen love story about a girl with terminal Cancer who falls in love with (wait for it) another Cancer patient. I did really enjoy the fun quips and jokes that Green put in this book. 

5. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Another one I could not put down. I essentially live tweeted my emotions to Allison my entire way through this book. Amazingly written so that every step of the way YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE. My opinions of each character fluctuated from start to finish. Gillian Flynn captivated me, flipped me upside down, and continuously punched me in the gut, yet somehow in a really beautiful way. Contains language and sexuality. 

6. Before I Go to Sleep - S.J. Watson
Another mystery, although one which is less rapid and quick moving than Gone Girl. S.J. Watson does a good job at presenting several different possibilities for the reader to cling to without ever nudging you in one direction or the other. Twisty and surprising. 

7. Exposed - Jane Velez-Mitchell
An analysis and overview of the Jodi Arias murder trial. If you followed that trial, or you like court proceedings, you'll like this, if not, you won't. Contains sexuality - readings of explicit texts and emails. 

8. The Amityville Horror - Jay Ansen
Ahh!!!! This book put me on edge and meant that Peter got several easy scares out of me for the week I was reading it. Creeptastic, and full of supernatural thrills, I strongly recommend this book for a cold, windy, stormy night. 

9. Catch Me if You Can - Frank W. Abagnale jr.
Memoir of the famous conman, this book was intriguing and informative. I enjoyed being amazed by his audacity and tenaciousness, although I am pretty sure his tactics would be less effective in our modern day. Abagnale has a good voice for story telling, and his stories are unbelievable. 

10. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby
Another book with truly beautiful language and prose. The memoir of a man suffering from locked-in syndrome. Short, but stunning. Bauby is a poet. 

Okay, and 10 book descriptions is proving enough for me for now. Here's the rest of my list. Gander through and if there is another book you would like to discuss, comment below! 

11. Sarah's Key - Tatiana de Rosnay
This narrative voice felt mildly pretentious to me. It was an interesting story concept, however, it did seem to drag in getting there. A dual narrative split between modern day and World War II, both discussing the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942. Moments of beauty, but also moments of slow "why are you telling me about your failing marriage?". You win some, you lose some. 

12. Ava's Man - Rick Bragg
For a biography of the author's grandfather, a man whom he never knew, Bragg portrays a deep love for his family, and for a particular stretch of dirt road along the Alabama-Georgia border. Ava's Man is an intimate piece of American history as it was experienced by the working people of the Deep South. Granted, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of Bragg's voice, but once I did it felt like warm Campbell's soup.  

13. Between the Shades of Grey - Ruta Sepetys
Follows the suffering of a Lithuanian family in a work camp in Siberia under Stalin's communist regime, which is something I cannot say I have read about. An easy read, and one that still flirts with young romance, among the grit and the starvation, I enjoyed Between the Shades as educational yet guilt free story telling. While I was presented with pain and suffering, somehow I didn't feel entirely like a hideous human being or like I wanted to go cry forever. I appreciate it when I'm not made to suffer over things I can't control, so thanks for that, Ruta. 

14. Room - Emma Donoghue
Amazing, but frustrating. Told from the perspective of a four year old boy who lives (and has only ever seen/been) in "Room" with his mother. Room is his existence, and his reality. I was riveted and tortured through this entire reading. I felt so incredibly angry at the characters for their life choices. I think if you find yourself screaming at written words for being so helpless, the author has probably done a good job at writing a decent novel. 

15. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick
Trigger warning for self-harm, there was a couple sections at the beginning regarding cutting that I had to skip. This book made me feel glad that I wasn't a teenager anymore, because I could remember feeling a lot of the emotions that Leonard feels. My sister recommended this one to me and after I finish we discussed. I found myself unfulfilled by the ending, but the fact that I felt that way was kind of horrifying and needed to be addressed. Read it, and talk to me.
Contains frequent language. 

16. Daughter's Keeper - Ayelet Waldman
Eh. I did finish this book, so the author at least captivated me, but when it was all over I wondered why I had been captivated. Characters seemed inconsistent to me, but maybe that means they are super realistic, because us persons are never all that constant. If you have phobias of being wrongfully incarcerated, like I do, maybe give this one a skip. Or just skip it because nothing really happens. 

17. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
I did not have the pleasure of reading Fitzgerald in High School, so this was my first exposure to his writing. Very eloquent and descriptive. I disliked that everything important took a long time to actualize, but instead we spent time just being told about the people and the scenery, however, when action actually began, I liked it a lot. I did not expect to feel depressed at the end. Definitely did. Poor Gatsby. 

18. Marley and Me - John Grogan
I love love love love LOVED this book! Have you seen the movie? The book is the movie but with hours of extra scenes slipped in. People say that Marley and Me is a sad book (/movie), but I don't think so. Yes, I did bawl my eyes out at the end, however, I laughed and had a genuine good time in celebrating the hilarious and well lived life of a wonderfully awful pet. If you adore the puppies, you should read this book. Warm, happy, butterflies, and lots of slobbery kisses. 

19. Until You're Mine - Samantha Hayes
Back to the mysteries and fun twists! I liked this book a lot. Another great book for live-tweeting your emotional ups and downs to your BFF. Extra plus, set in England so you have a marvellous voice writing it all. Multiple narrators all telling their sides to a story that you will try to piece together in every which way, and still probably be surprised when it ends (although, I totes guessed who dun it, and felt super proud). 

20. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
I can't say I've read a book about a turn of the century travelling circus. Well, I mean, now I can! I liked this. Romantic voice on the beauties and comings of a circus and all that entails. You've got class issues (performers vs. techies), forbidden love, and violent personalities who aren't above murder. Fun all around. 

21. Melissa Explains it All - Melissa Joan Hart
A memoir by our darling 90's queen full of fun stories chronicling her life. I was interested because I love Clarissa Explains it All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but I will admit, once she got into her extensive stories about football parties with her husband, I just didn't care anymore. Give it a miss if you aren't interested in celeb memoirs. 

22. Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
Dark. Twisty. Super dark. A lot of self injury stuff. I loved it, though. Gillian Flynn just has this magical talent of making you want to stop reading, but also want to never ever stop reading again. Incredibly cruel characters who I hope don't actually exist in real life, and a murder mystery that you hope you're wrong about, but you probably know it from the beginning if you're being honest with yourself. 

23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
24. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
25. One More Thing - BJ Novak
26. Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
27. The Book of Unknown Americans - Cristina Henriquez
28. Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman
29. What is Visible - Kimberly Elkins
30. The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling
31. What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty
32. The Psychopath Whisperer - Kent A. Kiehl, PhD
33. Z - Therese Anne Fowler
34. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button   and Other Stories - F. Scott Fitzgerald
35. Wild - Cheryl Strayed
36. Slaughter-House Five - Kurt Vonnegut
37. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
38. The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh
39. The Shining - Stephen King
40. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
41. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Dave Eggers
42. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
43. Bad Monkey - Carl Hiaasen
44. The Hallowed Ones - Laura Bickle
45. These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf
46. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
47. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery - Robert Kolker
48. Pain, Parties, Work - Elizabeth Winder
49. The Bedwetter - Sarah Silverman
50. Beyond Belief - Jenna Miscavage Hill
51. Mice - Gordon Reece
52. Dark Places - Gillian Flynn

Yay literacy! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our year in review

Here's the MeGregorvy's first ever Christmas card year update. Enjoy ;) 


Peter began his last calendar year of undergrad and received a promotion at work. I moved into a new apartment and began my new job at Bayada Habilitation, making sure I stood out to my employers by fainting on my first day and spending time in the ER (but still was always completely fine). Yay for low blood sugar!

Valentine's Day was full of bacon roses, giant balloons, snuggies, junk food, and Friends. In other words, Peter and I shared the perfect date.
February also brought with it an abundance of rainy Saturdays, challenging our creativity as a couple and introducing a plethora of rainy-day games. Peter danced with a pineapple on his head for my roommates. The things rain will make you do.

I went through the temple for the first time, something very sacred and reverent in our church, and made new covenants with the Lord. It was a difficult transition for me, but I felt very supported and loved by my friends and family.
Later in the month I discovered (and introduced everyone I knew to) the game 2048, which quickly led to a manic addiction. Peter lovingly supported me and didn't insist on an intervention. He is totes adorbs.

We got married!! On April 12th, the 3rd anniversary of our first kiss, Peter and I were sealed for time and all eternity in the Laie Hawaii temple. Our parents and my little-big sister were able to come celebrate with us.
We spent a wonderful week long honeymoon on the island of Kauai, and moved into our new apartment.
On the 24th Peter turned 22 and we sang Taylor Swift. Obviously. He received Lego sets from his parents and me, and built some amazing things. He has a gift for Lego creations. It's super neat.

At church, Peter was called to be a Sunday School teacher at church. His lessons were, and continue to be, energetic, spiritual, and always inclusive of at least one short joke.
I began a second job watching an adorable two year old named Nash. I also reentered the blogging sphere in the hopes to actualize one of my (very real but probably not at all realistic) dreams to be the author of a well read and loved blog.
We hosted our 1st annual (as a couple) Battle of Hogwarts party. We played Quidditch pong, made wands, and drank Butterbeer. The only setback was having close to no airflow in our tiny apartment, leading to some serious sweating on all of our behalves.

My brother and his family visited island to baptize our nephew Benny on Temple beach. We partied hard and hiked even harder, and it was wonderful to be with them again.
Peter reached his one year mark of being home from his mission in Japan and began his internship for a local politician as the assistant campaign manager. *Spoiler alert* the politician won his campaign cuz Peete's the bomb.
He also took the LSAT (and did awesome) which is a pretty massive thing.

Peter and I had our first political debate that did not include hurt feelings. We felt very proud of ourselves for becoming adults. Kind ones.
I knocked off an item on my bucket-list by starring in an infomercial! Our very own "House Spouse" included bad acting, a continuous voice over, and black and white editing, but unfortunately lacked giant red Xs and Muzak. Next time.

Peter was able to relieve some of his Japan withdrawals by finding us a Yaku Niku restaurant in Kaneohe. We have returned several times, and I have learned to surrender all of my ordering rights to Peter, seeing as what he orders is always the best at the table.

Peter officially entered into his last ever semester of his undergraduate career and we began our grad school applications, choosing Penn State, BYU, Seattle Pacific University (me), and Seattle University (Peter) to apply to.

Peter indulged my fantastic adoration for Halloween and October by watching Halloween movies with me all month. We endured our first weekend apart since his return in 2013 while he went to Seattle to be reunited with all of his siblings for his little sister Shanna's wedding. It was a wonderful occasion, but also a horribly difficult one for me to live through ;). Luckily, I had friends who texted me and hung out with me all weekend, so that I wouldn't have to be alone.
I took the GRE and did a lot better than I expected to.

For Thanksgiving I taught Peter how to make homemade pies, and Peter made a masterful spread for ourselves and Azriel, equating to about 5 pounds of food per person. The leftovers fed us far into December.
At church I was asked to join Peter as a teacher in Sunday School. We love being able to prepare lessons together and feel we are finding just one more way in which we are a superawesomeneat couple. No one is as cool or as humble as us.

Peter graduated Cum Lade with his bachelors of arts in Political Science. At the department graduation banquet, he was awarded with a Legal Studies certificate, BYU-Hawaii's first ever Emergency Management certificate, was one of the this years three distinguished graduates in Political Science, and was recognized as the department's distinguished graduate in Public Management. He is twenty times cooler than I ever was in school.
We moved into our new studio apartment, which is teeny tiny, but has its pluses. It's fun being someplace new.
Peter received his first acceptance to Law School at Seattle University with a $12,000 scholarship.

So, there you have it! Our entire year in one blogpost. Thank you for reading and showing us your love and support all year. We wish you a Melece Navidad, a Mele Kalikimaka, and a Melly Christmas! (Poor Peter doesn't have any festive nicknames.) I hope you have a wonderful holiday celebrated with those you love. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Boyfriend Test

One thing that dating can teach you is what you are unwilling to tolerate in the person you marry. With every person you date, you are able to see what characteristics you like and the ones you don't. It is kind of great, though; you're shopping for people!

Sometimes I find myself thinking about the deal breakers that I encountered in my dating life and wondering if I overlook those same important (and awful) characteristics in Peter. Obviously the only logical way to make sure you married the right person is subject them to a series of secret tests all based on the things you couldn't stand in your exes*.

Peter and the Boyfriend Test

1) Ketchup, please!

When I was younger and stupider than I was now, I entered into an infatuation with a boy more clingy than cling film itself. He was particularly upset with any time I spent away from him, which meant that my friends got sick of him relatively quickly. One day after school I was playing on an arcade game with some friends, and he was giving us no space. While he was in the restroom a friend of mine remarked that no matter what I asked, this boy would do, even if it made no sense or served no purpose. This mildly bothered me, and I denied it, because the idea of having a blind follower is kind of an unattractive one to me. My friends then challenged me to request the boy to find me ketchup when he returned, saying he would do so without asking, even though we had no food with us, nor would ketchup be of any use to me. I agreed, and casually requested later when he returned. To my discomfort, he did so unquestioningly.
I understand that many could see this willing and open devotion as sweet, but to me, it indicated a lack of individuality. I knew that I could not be happy being with someone who never questioned me. I needed someone who, yes, was willing to serve me, but also had a mind of his own, and could call me out when I'm being completely unreasonable. This little ketchup scenario told me all of that. Because I over analyse n' stuff.

Thus, requesting ketchup when I was clearly in no need for such a thing was the first entry on the boyfriend test. One Sunday, while we were lounging around the apartment, I called to Peter from the bed. "Will you bring me ketchup, love?" I asked.
His head appeared around the wall, "bring you what?"
"Why do you need ketchup?"
"I don't."
"Okay." Pause. "Do, do you want me to bring... It to you?"
"Nah, it's okay. Thank you, though."

One point to Perter!

2) Understand the Importance of Cherries

I had been only dating one boyfriend for a few weeks when we went to McDonalds together. I ordered my meal with a milkshake, and then went to the bathroom while he waited for the food. When I returned, he offered me my milkshake. The drink sat with its beautiful whipped cream on top, cup sweating drops of condensation, but was obscenely incomplete.
"What the heck??!" I exclaimed, "they forgot my cherry!"
"Oh! Uh...." My traitor boyfriend stammered, "I ate it."
"YOU ATE MY CHERRY?!" I screamed, pretty irate and loud for a public fast food joint. "What kind of monster eats the cherry from on top of another person's milkshake without being offered it?!"
The relationship was doomed from the start.

I am happy to report that, since marrying Peter, I have never had a cherry disappear from atop a milkshake.

Two points for Peege! Yaaaay!

There were other tests, but they aren't as funny, so I won't force you to read them ;).

Obviously, there are more things that my exes have done that Peter does not, which is so great, and I totally married the crap out of him when I realized how insanely amazing he was. I hope when you find the person who you love at their worst and their best, you do similarly.

I hear so many people justifying bad relationship decisions by saying, "but she's not always like this!" Or "but I know he loves me." That makes me all sorts of uncomfortable, because it seems a way to push unacceptable things aside for silver linings. I bet I could have married Peter had he brought me ketchup and eaten things I was saving for myself, but only if those things were things I knew I could live with easily.

So go out there, you crazy kids! Go make friends and then get married when you find someone who you love even at their crappiest.

I don't know if I have a point, but if I do, it's probably that I'm #soblessed.

*there is probably a bunch of better ways to do such a thing than this. Readers accept any misfortune that may come from administering the Boyfriend Test, and cannot hold Tiny Anxiety responsible for the actions of any angered spouses. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Times in which I am enraged even though I have no right to be.

I originally drafted up this post the week of Thanksgiving, but then I thought it probably wouldn't be a good time for me to post about all the things in my life that I hate.

This isn't even necessarily an "I Hate Things" list, so much as it is a "Things that give me a disproportionate amount of rage when they really are small things" list. You can judge me. I totally understand.

1. Parents choosing to be illiterate when naming their children.

I have a strange obsession with names, this is no news to anyone. Sometimes I wonder if I am similar to adults who go through a traumatizing experience when they are young, then go on to be great ambassadors of change for others going through the same experiences. (See Elizabeth Smart and others.) I suffered through having an unusual name as a child, and now I use my (very limited power) to rant about bad baby name choices.
There seems to be this trend to slaughter common baby names beyond recognition in order to make the baby different from its peers. This bugs me much more than new, made up or unusual baby names, for the specific reason that you make your child look illiterate. Put yourself in the child's place: verbally, your name is exactly the same as many others, but then as soon as you try to spell it, you reveal your parents as adults who have never seen the English language written out.
Is this none of my business? Absolutely. Does it bother me? IT DRIVES ME INSANE.

2. Signs that stay up past their relevancy

Reading a flyer that tells me to "Come see the school play on October 14th!" when it is December, gives me an incredible amount of rage. Who in particular am I angered at? Surely not the sign, it is not its fault that it has been taped up and abandoned for months. Maybe the people who abandoned their signs. Even though I am sure that person has a job and a schedule and important things to do, removing their sign when the information it is offering is no longer pertinent apparently needs to be their #1 priority when asking the rage monsters in my brain.
Shockingly, this rage extends to decorations that stay up past their holiday. Forget your holiday cheer. Whether it be valentine's day, st. Patricks, halloween or christmas, as soon as that holiday is over, you better be taking down your celebrations.
Knowing this, one year my coworkers lovingly decided to decorate the entire Reading/Writing Center with paper hearts, jack-o-lanterns, shamrocks, flags, and christmas trees in order to try to coax me through this hatred through some sort of demented flooding therapy. Amazingly, they also managed to do all this within an hour, while I was in the center working on homework, and all without me realizing. When I got up from my computer, I rage-screamed and tried to tear everything down. It was traumatizing for everyone.

3. When apps aren't one defined colour, and other colour tragedies.

My apps on my phone and iPad need to be organized by colour. No other way makes sense to me. You think that app designers would realize that this organizing concept is the one true way, and thus all apps should be ONE COLOUR. Where am I supposed to place an app which is 5 colours at once? Tell me that, designers. Riddle me this terrible life decision of yours.
Recently my Heads Up app went from being blue to red, which was probably a smart marketing decision because now that app gets to be bumped up to one of the #1 slots, but having it change was a spark of immense anger in me. Who do you think you are, Ellen Degeneres?! Changing your colour on me! Geez.
Similarly, when colours of the rainbow are all present but not in their God given order, I blame the patriarchy for destroying America*. Where is the logic in having things going orange, green, yellow, red, purple, blue?! My heart rate is going up just considering it. I need to move on.

4. Click bait and Facebook like ifs.

Frequently I hold back likes on Facebook out of spite. I see a picture or a post that I enjoy and go to like it, then those fatal words hold me back, "like if you..." I don't care if that last word is "agree" "enjoy" or "love puppies" I am not your puppet and I will not like this! Disregard that moments ago I was ready and willing to use my mouse to tell you I enjoy your Facebooking, you are not my mother! You can not tell me what to do! Granted, if my mother were to post one of these things, I probably wouldn't like it either, because my rage at being told when and when not to like something is that unreasonable. Sorry, Mommifer. I hope you can potentially forgive me in the case this hypothetical situation occurs.
I also have a deep rooted hatred for click bait. "This happened and then YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT," "This post changed my life," "What happened in this video blew my mind," "You've gotta see to believe!"
Click bait leaves me feeling cynical and bitter. "I GUESS I WILL NEVER FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT" I yell as I forcefully scroll past, proving my point to no one but myself. "I bet I WOULD believe what happens next! Don't tell me what I wont believe!"

All these things indicate that I have not quite yet made it to maturity. Or perhaps they show that I'm mature beyond my years? Older people are more likely to be grumpy and particular. I'm probably just super mature. Be jealous.

Shortly after this picture was taken, a psychological break was manifested. 

*while I do, in fact blame the patriarchy for many things, incorrect colour order is not one of them, but rather this is a hyperbolic statement intended to bring amusement and laughter.