Sunday, June 29, 2014

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to skate. She dreamed of a day when she could skate for money, and never stop doing what she loved. But, often, that day seemed far away.

Then one Sunday, the girl went down to Boston. And they got lost, and drove around the city twice (that's the boring part, though).

Finally, they arrived at a magical place: The Skating Club of Boston. There, they met very nice woman and watched a theater on ice team practice. They talked about skating levels, and Nationals, and Worlds, and the ups and downs and struggles and successes of skating on a senior TOI team.

Once, the girl asked about the Novice level team, because she thought that's where she'd probably end up.

"Oh, you'd be too good for that team." the woman said.

She had never been told that before.

The girl found out there was a workshop in August, and then auditions in September. She looked at the girls during practice and thought, after a bit of learning curve, "I could do this."

On the way home that night, the girl thought about her goals, and dreams, and how skating  was what she loved and all she wanted to do. She thought about all the time she'd spent this last year, and how she hadn't felt that she'd improved. But then she remembered where she was exactly a year ago. She realized she'd had improved--just in small increments, so she'd hardly noticed until it hit her all at once.

The girl thought about trying Novice Moves in the Field in August.

She thought about her better attempts at axels lately.

And she thought about TOI.

And for the first time, she looked to her dreams and said, "I could do this."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pride and Prejudice

I was 10 the first time I watched Pride and Prejudice 1995. My wise mother knew that it was best to start a life long love for Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, and Jane Austen at as early an age as possible.

I loved every second of it. I found it romantic, and funny, and the costumes absolutely amazing. I've turned into the person that re-watches it every year, and seeing I'm 17 now, it's safe to say I could turn down the volume and narrate the entire thing without a slip up.

But here's the embarrassing part: I'd never gotten around to actually reading Pride and Prejudice. 

I know. Go ahead a stone me, I'm ashamed. I've read Jane Austen, and many other classics, before, so it's not about it being 'difficult' or anything. That sort of thing doesn't bother me, and for the record, while Austen's books obviously have depth, they aren't particularly 'difficult'.

I really can't blame it on anything. Except, perhaps, the fact that I knew the story line so well. So little books, so little time; so why not read something I know nothing about?

No matter what the reason was, this spring I got serious and finally read it.

And it was amazing. Duh, you already knew that. This is Jane Austen we're talking about. But coming from the die-hard 1995 mini series fan, I can proudly say that the book still beat the movie, by, like, a million.

While I'm still heartily ashamed over my lack of Austen reading (I'm going to hide that fact from the world, it's so embarrassing. Right after I finish writing about it on the internet, obviously), in some ways I'm happy my first-time came when I'm a little older. Like I said, P&P isn't a difficult book. As far as classics go, there's not much 'deciphering' and the plot is easy to follow. But what is difficult is coming to understand the motivations of each character, their complexities, and the culture of Austen-era society as a whole. Even Mr. Bennet's jokes are often lost on readers who have no desire to understand the characters.

With each watching (and now reading) of P&P, I come away with something I hadn't before. This time, I was struck with Austsen's theme of being in full control of your life.

Most ignorant and unintelligent uninterested readers of Pride and Prejudice come away with the image of lots of women chasing men just because of money. They think the entire book is about 'helpless' women at a time when they could do nothing for themselves.

Seriously? Are we even discussing the same book?

P&P is about the exact opposite of that.

Pride and Prejudice is all about staying in control of your life, and making life decisions that are best for you. It's about caring and thinking about others, but not allowing them to make decisions for you, even if they supposedly have your best interests in mind.

Lizzy, as the heroine, is the prime example of this. Mrs. Bennet believed that marrying Mr. Collins was a wonderful plan. And, as unpopular as it may be, she was right. Mr. Collins would provide a home (through his inheriting Longbourne), as well as security, as no one would turn out his wife's family. The marriage would mean support for Mrs. Bennet and all her daughters, something Mr. Bennet, in all his good humor, 'forgot' to provide for with saving. Logically speaking, marrying Mr. Collins would be a good decision.

But Lizzy knows that she needs more than 'logic'. She knows that being taken care of in a financial sense would mean nothing to her if the man she married literally drove her crazy. Lizzy believes that "nothing but the deepest of love could induce me into matrimony", a thought probably re-inforced by her parents love-less, less-than-perfect marriage. I highly doubt Lizzy is unaware of the security she's depriving her family of when she refuses Mr. Collins--but she knows being married to Mr. Collins would make her too unhappy to justify.

While it's true women of that time couldn't exactly go out and get a job if things got tough, they were still themselves. I think we get trapped believing them totally helpless with no opportunities--and they weren't. They still had brains, and personalities, and had command over their attitudes and decisions. Women who wanted to had full control over their lives; they might have just had to stay more committed to that idea for it to happen. That's probably something women of today could work on, too.

While it's easy to see how Lizzy retains control of her life, we often forgot about another of the books characters that does the very same thing. Charlotte Lucas is just as much her own person as Lizzy, but because she 'settles' for the awful Mr. Collins, we ignore her. We forget that Charlotte's decisions have the same motivations as Lizzy--a keen sense of self, and a sense of what her version of happiness looks like--they just have different outcomes.

Charlotte's situation is very different than Lizzy's. Though there are slights by Mrs. Bennet about the Lucas' doing their own cooking, you're still left with the impression that they're better off than the Bennets. Also, the fact that there are Lucas sons puts the daughters in a better situation. But life as a spinster sister isn't something desirable, and Charlotte chooses to step away from that roll at the first opportunity. Yes, Mr. Collins is awful. But like Jane suggests, we must 'make allowances for differences in taste and temper'.

Mr. Collin's isn't intelligent, witty, or at all exciting. He tops it off with being inept in social situations.

But he is respectable, provides a comfortable home (which isn't too close to Lucas Lodge!), and is naive enough for Charlotte to quietly win her way on most fronts.

Mr. Collins would have been a terrible husband for Lizzy. Lizzy needs an equal match, an intelligent conversationalist, and someone with caring and empathy; but just because he would have suited Lizzy terribly, doesn't mean it was a bad decision for Charlotte to marry him. Charlotte has a different image of happiness, and even a different view on the purpose of marriage. She's content to garden, and have her sitting room, and tend to her poultry--basically, living a largely solitary life, with only minor interruptions from a less-than-perfect husband. Even with his faults, Mr. Collins provides the life Charlotte wants.

Pride and Prejudice, and Austen novels in general, are chock full of heroine's who make their own decisions and stand up for themselves. They aren't afraid to go against the grain, and often against 'logic', to follow a happiness of their own definition. As Austen readers we're used to that from most of her female characters. And when a female character doesn't have those traits--well, it's often written to point out how vital those traits are.

I'd question anyone who says, "P&P is just about a bunch of girls trying to get married", on whether or not they've actually read the book. Or if they bothered to turn on their brain while they read it. Or at the very least, take into account the society and culture that they're reading from. Hello? Anybody listening?

The general thought that P&P is about women desperate for marriage could not be farther from the truth. P&P is about how first impressions are vastly important, but can also sometimes be wrong. It's about how we must write our own definition of happiness, and how we have the duty (not just the right; the duty) to become at least a halfway decent, intelligent, compassionate person. P&P is about not loosing sight of yourself or your standards, and doing what's right, even when it's uncomfortable. Finally, Pride and Prejudice is about having control of your life, and even in the face of opposition, having the power to make your own choices.

Now, read it. I know you'll love it. 

This is a Classics Club post. Be sure to read the rest of them!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

2 Years

I just realized that you have to read this backwards. Brilliant.
Today marks two years since my first-ever post on Young Yankee Lady (which I'm refusing to link to because it was terrible).

Most people write blog-iversary posts and talk about how they 'never imagined what this blog would turn into.' I can't really say that. From the start, I wanted to be a fantastic blogger. I wanted to give people advice and be revered for my constant wit. I went through many phases and many different snobby voices.

But now on the 2 year anniversary, I've got a new and improved Young Yankee Lady to share with you!

You see, I love reading story blogs. I love waking up and reading about how someone spilt coffee on their shirt, and how that led to an amazingly strange turn of events. I like reading about how couples met, or about someones most awkward moment, or about how they finally did something they didn't even think they were capable of. I love reading stories about normal people. It makes me happy, and in a grander sense, it gives me a bit of hope for my own mundane life.

You see, I just like to tell stories. I like to talk about people and the mundane little things that lead to great things. On a daily basis, there are so many random things I want to tell you guys. Funny things, weird things, heartfelt things. And I feel like I've been limiting myself trying to blog about 'how to do whatever'.

I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm not put together, I don't have a grand success story, and I certainly don't have secrets to improving your life. I don't have secrets to improving my life. But what I do have is a voice.

Since the start, I've had the wrong attitude towards blogging. It became something else I had to worry about and plan and get done. I was putting too much energy into something that wasn't part of my goals. I love blogging, I love the outlet, but right now my goals are skating and school. Everything else is extra.

So I've deleted every pin on Pinterest that linked back to this blog. I'm no longer doing link-ups for the sole purpose of leaving my link somewhere. And I'm no longer doing a two-month blog schedule. Right now, I'm just blogging because I want to. I'm going to share more stories, gush more, and vent more. I'm going to post as I have time and just go with it.

So, that's what Young Yankee Lady's working towards. There'll still be book posts, and probably outfit posts--but I'm going about them in a different way. My goal now is to tell stories. And brighten someones day. And let that poor little person who just spilt their lunch wrap all over their lap, and then walked straight into the fridge, know that they aren't alone. Because I might have just done that.

So, here's to two years! Let's meet back up in a year and see where things are, okay? :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Twitterature: The So-Far Edition

Today, I'm linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy (yes, the best blog name ever!!) for Twitterature. The premise is mini book reviews, like those little 120-characters from Twitter. I thought I'd go ahead and do a 'so far' edition, since it's June and the year is officially half over. I'm still not over that.

My goal for this year is to read 30 books, and I'm at 11 so far. Not too shabby, but I'd like to do better. Compared to my reading for last year, though, I'm two books ahead! the Goodreads reading challenge has been my absolute favorite thing lately. It's great motivation, shows me all my books in one place, and tells me how far behind I am (because let's face it....I'm always running behind).

one // The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

I love Twain's humor, but this was a necessary re-read and therefore I wasn't really into it. While everyone should read this, and I loved being older and picking up on themes I hadn't thought about before, overall I came away just happy to finish it up. An anti-climatic first read, that's for sure.

two // Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence. Five-stars, Biography.

Loved. This. So. Much. It totally converted me to a biography and non-fiction fan. It's a great look at the life of Jane Austen, one that I feel is accurate and warm. You come away with so much respect for her. I love that Spence speculated on areas we simply will never know about, without putting words in her mouth.

three // My Bonny Light Horseman (Bloody Jack #6) by L.A. Meyer. Five-stars, Historical Fiction.

Honestly, each book in this series is the exact some story. She gets separated from her fiance, proves how awesome she is, travels to a new country, almost gets reunited, and then gets taken away again. Every. Single. Time. But I still love them with all my heart, and could read these all day. They're fast and full of adventure. What's not to love?

four // The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1) by James Patterson. Read on audio, Downward Slopes.

Guys, I have absolutely no respect for James Patterson. He is NOT worthy of all the praise he seems to get. While the plot/concept was very interesting, the execution was terrible. I won't be finishing off this series, that's for sure. It was so boring, so obvious, and I couldn't get close to the characters at all.

five // The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerlad. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

It's a sin not to be head-over-heels for this book. So call me a sinner. I loved the thoughts, premise, and general writing style, but I very seldom love a book if I can't love the characters. While this is definitely a good book, and very thought provoking, I wouldn't go out of my way to read it again. At least not anytime soon.

six // The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Lit-class, The Classics Club.

This is a likable book. Not lovable, but definitely likable. Hemingway's style is interesting, and not completely unlike Fitzgerald's, even if Hemingway is less glitzy. For such a short book, there were certainly times where the story just dragged. But there were also several points I enjoyed.

seven // Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. Classy Chick Lit, Five Stars.

This book is the definition of classy chick-lit. Intelligent. Relate-able. And fun. I can't even express how much I loved this book. The premise is what really got me. The feeling that you're running out of time to reach your goals, that you aren't adequate. Those are things that I've been feeling, especially in the last year, and this book gave contentment.

eight // The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. Biography, Downward Slopes.

I got this when our library did a blind date with a book, so I felt obligated to read it. Eh. It started out okay, but by the middle I had totally lost interest. If it wasn't fairly short anyway I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it. Ozma was too scattered. What was supposed to be about her 'father and the books they shared', ended up just a rather mundane biography of her life, with no real point or conclusion.

nine // Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Five-stars, The Classics Club.

How can one review Pride and Prejudice? Honestly, this was my first time reading it, but I've been a die-hard fan of the 1995 movie version since I was 10. The book is EVEN BETTER than that version. I loved everything about this, but my favorite part were the last two chapters. I found them so sweet, and they answered questions I'd always had about 'after the story'.

ten // How to Murder a Millionaire (Blackbird Sisters Mystery #1) by Nancy Martin. Classy chick-lit, Mystery.

This book was so cute! Fast and funny, it's another great classy chick-lit choice. I didn't particularly like the ending (it wrapped up to quickly, and seemed a little forced...), but otherwise this book was great. Great beach reading!

eleven // I Dare You by William H. Danforth. Motivation, Self-Help.

Weird, I know, but I'm kind of in love with the self-help genre. This is classic self-help (if there is such a thing...). Written in the 30's (or 40's?), some of the language/layout is a little hokey, but the message really can't be argued with. It was a re-read for me and the kind of 'you can do it, stop focusing on the obstacles, put forth your best' pep talk I've been craving.

There we have it! 11 books so far! We're leaving for camping on Monday, and I can't wait for the extra reading time. I went to the library yesterday and went on a bit of a spree. :) But enough about me, how's your reading going? Do you have a number goal this year?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Monthlies: May '14

Prom // Finally looks like spring!!
In May:
-Went to prom!
-Got a job!
-Participated in SAD.
-Enjoyed some fresh flowers.
-Bumped up off-ice training.

Goals for June: Ahh! June already!
-Get more in the swing of things with managing skating/school/working.
-Squeeze in more friend time! And thrift store time!
-Land an axel.
-Finish French, Biology, and Geometry.
-Do an awful lot of reading.

Books read this month:
I completed three books this month! Whoo hoo! First, I read The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma, which was honestly pretty boring and not worth the time. But it was my 'blind date' book from the library, so I felt I had to read it. Then, I finally got serious and finished Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Of course it was amazing, and while I wished I had read it faster, it was rather nice to dip into a couple of pages for Jane's wit. Last but not least, I finished How To Murder A Millionaire by Nancy Martin, which was just as light, and funny as it sounds. While it wrapped up too quickly for my taste (big big build, and then all at once THE END...), it was still cute with relatable characters. A great beach read!

Reaidng goals for June:
I want to finish reading The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien before we go on vacation, and then read 2-3 books while we're gone. I'm definitely bringing along The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century by Howie Carr, which is nonfiction about Whitey Bulger and the mafia down in Boston. I'm also planning on getting to Raptures of the Deep (Bloody Jack #7) by L.A. Meyer, and hopefully something lighter, like Sweet Tea and Secrets by Nancy Naigle. I wouldn't mind dipping back into the self-help-motivational genre again, but I'm not sure what...

Recent Favorites:
-This video from the University of Texas Commencement Speech. Easily one of the most motivating things I've ever seen. Worth the 20 minute watch!!
-This post from Carly on getting it all done.
-This outfit from Forever Amber. We've had quite a few rainy and cold days this spring, and honestly I want to live in this!
-This quote. Motivation to keep going!

On the blog:
This was a busy month on the blog! We started off with an explanation of why I own 6 pairs of black shoes, and then got a little more serious with 8 Ways To Make The Most of this Spring/Summer. I finally got around to reviewing A Study in Scarlet, and then published a list of somedays. Last, I talked about my desire to do the stuff.

Seriously, I can't believe that it's June. Halfway through the year! When did that happen??

PS-my prom dress is the Lady Love Song Dress in Sapphire from Modcloth. Totally recommend, but DEFINITELY size up!