Blogger Recognition Award

Hello, friends! If you recall, yesterday I made a post about how I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award, which was super cool, but looook! I received another award nomination! Continue reading “Blogger Recognition Award”

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30 Days of Video Games | Day 6: A Magical Mystery

Hello, friends! We’re nearly a full week into A Geeky Gal’s 30 Day Video Game Challenge, and I nearly wasn’t able to schedule this Day 6 post ahead of time! The horror! Continue reading “30 Days of Video Games | Day 6: A Magical Mystery”

30 Days of Video Games | Day 3: A Sassy, Wisecracking Breegull

Hello, friends! Well, here we are, on Day 3 of A Geeky Gal’s 30 Day Video Game Challenge, and I have to say, I am having so much fun writing about all of these games that had such an impact on my life. Continue reading “30 Days of Video Games | Day 3: A Sassy, Wisecracking Breegull”

Jan Reviews Mobile Games | Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Fans of the magical world of Harry Potter, like myself, have been waiting very patiently for a worthy Harry Potter game to hit the app store for years. Sure, we’ve had a few puzzle and hidden object games, not to mention the countless quiz games, but nothing that has really quenched our thirst. So when I saw that a new Harry Potter game was in the works, one that looked quite promising, I immediately pre-registered for notifications, and waited. Continue reading “Jan Reviews Mobile Games | Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery”

Random Prompt | 6th Grade

“Write about yourself in the 6th grade.”

I’ve written about this in the past, but wanted to share it again with anyone who never read those posts. The 6th grade was actually a monumental turning point in my life. Four years prior (I think?), the first Harry Potter novel had come out in the US. I was only 8 at the time, and did not really know much about it. It wasn’t until I was in the 5th grade that I heard much about the book, and it wasn’t until the 6th grade that I was able to read it. And it changed my life.

My 6th grade homeroom teacher’s name was Mr. Eder. He was also my English teacher. Mr. Eder was already very familiar (and slightly obsessed) with the world of Harry Potter, and decided to plan our entire school year around it. First, my class was divided up into the four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. I was put into Slytherin, which I later learned was actually quite perfect, and I have related with being a Slytherin for the rest of my life. No joke.

Next, each group voted on who would be the Head of the house. Guess who won for Slytherin? Meee! It didn’t really mean anything though, but it was still fun. We read the book aloud in class, but I finished it on my own time within a week. I had never known that I was a fast reader before that point in my life. Each week, we had a test on what we had read thus far, and the points from each house’s tests were averaged, and the houses that scored the highest would get points. We also had fun tournaments and games, including a Quidditch game at the end of the year. I don’t mean to brag, but Slytherin won the Quidditch game, as well as most of the other challenges (my friend Travis and I carried our entire house basically). We won the House Cup at the end of the year, and got to choose a theme for a party for the class… we chose Harry Potter theme. Obviously.

Being a part of this experience not only opened my eyes to the world of Harry Potter, but also the world of books, and imagination. I started spending a lot more time at the library, and convinced my mom to buy me books whenever we went out. I read so much, that I won an award at my senior assembly for graduation as well! It also helped me with my writing, which is something that I also got really into in middle school.

I still wish I had tons of money to throw at books, but, ya know… adulthood stuff happened. Stupid bills.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2

Hello, friends! I recently posted a blog entitled 5 Pictures, 5 Stories, which people really seemed to enjoy! I really like going through old pictures, and reliving memories of the past, so I thought that I would do it again. So here we go, 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 2.

1. New York, New York
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Back row: April, me, Danielle. Front row: Barbara, Kat, Theoni.
The summer after my junior year in high school, I had the amazing experience of going to NYC with several of my soon-to-be senior friends in the Upward Bound program. This also happened to be the weekend that the final Harry Potter book in the series was being released, marking the end of our collective childhoods, and we all bought it, and basically all finished reading it that weekend. It was amazing. I struggled so hard, because I was the first person to finish the book, and I wanted to talk about it SO badly, but I had to wait. This picture was taken in Central Park, the day after the release. I still in contact with all of these wonderful ladies, and I miss them all so much.

2. Manduca Sexta
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The summer before the summer that I went to NYC, I had an internship in the Biology department at the University of Southern Maine (I was part of the UB program for 4 years total). My boss was a very tall, very nerdy man, who was obsessed with Harry Potter, and we got along amazingly. I also worked with a young woman named Muna, and another guy… whose name I can’t remember. My main job, every day, was to take care of the Manduca sexta caterpillars, in all of their various life cycles. Every day, I would:

a) Scrape the eggs off of tobacco plant leaves leaves from the moth cage, and put them into little containers with slices of wheat germ loaf (which I also made).
b) Take out the hatched eggs from the days before, and transfer them into bigger containers with more food.
c) Take the even BIGGER caterpillars from the days before that from their containers, and put them in even bigger containers with food.
d) Take the biggest caterpillars, which were ready to begin their chrysalis stage, and put them in wooden blocks with holes drilled in them, and store them away.
e) And finally, take the oldest blocks, with the already formed chrysalis, and put them in a giant moth cage. However, I was not allowed to open the moth cage myself, because the dust on their wings was dangerous to inhale, and at my height, they would fly directly into my face. My very tall boss handled that part.

The best part was that all of this was for cancer and tumor research. Something about how the caterpillars go from having multiple eyes within an eye (sort of like a fly), to two eyes as a moth… or something… I never fully understood it, but it was an amazing experience, and I loved it so much. I enjoyed the work, and keeping meticulous records on all my little bug friends. I wanted to be a forensic entomologist for the longest time, and being able to work closely with scientists and these insects was an amazing experience.

3. Dancing Kings
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These are my friends, Julien and George. When I was accepted into the Upward Bound program as a freshman, which is pretty uncommon, I had a hard time making friends. As an upcoming sophomore, I was a whole year or two younger than everyone, and my awkwardness and shyness didn’t help me connect to anyone. Until I met Julien and George, who were two years older than me, and best friends. They were both genius level intelligent, and I still have no idea why they chose to befriend me, but I’m not complaining.

We had very similar interests in music (Julien introduced me to the Foo Fighters, George introduced me to Pink Floyd), books, and video games… including DDR. I had been playing DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for only a year, mostly in the privacy of my own living room, when I met them. We started a DDR group in the lounge, and spent all of our free time playing. They were both incredible, and pushed me so hard to be good at it. This picture was taken at the Friends and Family Night Talent Show, which I was too afraid to enter. They KILLED it. That was the last summer I spent with them, as they went to  different school, but they helped me become more confident in myself, and also helped me get on a healthy track with my weight loss. I lost 45 pounds between my junior and senior years, and I owe it all to them.

4. Little Sister
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This is a picture of the last time I ever saw my little sister, Desiree. The picture was taken at her 4th birthday party, the summer that I left for college. Desiree had been taken from my father and his girlfriend, along with her other two girls, and had been adopted by a woman named Amy, and her husband. I was not able to visit them often, and was fed a lot of bullshit reasons as to why. In 2012, I flew to Maine as a surprise for my mom, and had planned to visit them, but my grandmother, who had known of my plans all along, told me that I could not. According to her, despite my sister knowing she was adopted, she would not understand who I was, or how we were related… yet she understood who our grandmother was, and she was allowed to visit frequently. I was so angry. This beautiful girl is 11 years old now. Maybe I’ll get to see her again at her wedding. Who knows? I also now have a 4 year old sister, who was also taken from my father, who I may never see again as well. Family

5. Relay For Life
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I had the honor and privilege to participate in our local Relay for Life event for 3 summers in a row. Kyle’s grandmother and mother both have teams, and Kyle had been doing it since he was young. His grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, as is mine, and my uncle died of a brain tumor, and I wanted to be a part of this so badly. This picture was taken in the summer of 2014, when I was 3 months pregnant, at the last Relay event that I attended. That is our stand in the background, which was boxing themed, to match the Relay theme of “Finish the Fight“.

We had our snow cone machine set up, which Kyle and I manned every year, as well as trinkets for sale, and a boxing ring and props for pictures. This was the first year that the event had to be held indoors, due to weather, and we had to fit our tent inside the hallways of the high school. The turnout was still great, and we ended up raising the second largest amount of money out of the two dozen teams there. Kyle’s mom joined a nursing program that same year, and we had to say goodbye to our Relay team. Hopefully we can do it again in the future, especially after this incredibly emotional year, where we have already lost so many to this disease. Fuck cancer!

Thank you for reading, friends!

Jan

Daily Prompt 2/5/2016 | Second Time Around

The Daily post’s Daily Prompt 2/5/2016 | Second Time Around

“Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?”

I wish I could say that I was the type of person who could retreat back to my favorite books for comfort, or just for the sake of memories… but I’m not. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, and I’ve read over 1,000 books since elementary school (I got an award at my senior assembly in high school for having checked out more books than anyone in the school, a total of 937 book over the course of 4 years). However, since graduating high school in 2008, I’ve read a lot less. Having moved from small town to small town several times in the last nearly 8 years, access to a decent library has not been easy to come by. There was also no book store within 45 minutes of where I live, up until 2 years ago, and it isn’t a very good one.

I’ve probably read… maybe 12 books in the last 6 or 7 years. Since having my son, the amount of time I even have to read has all but vanished, but even if I did have a few moments to myself, there are a dozen other things that I should be doing instead of reading. But even if I wanted to blow off showering, or vacuuming, or feeding myself to read a book, I just can’t. Why not? Because I can not reread a book that I’ve already read. I just can’t do it. There are only a handful of exceptions to this rule, and they are all from the same series, I’m sure you can guess which. The same goes for movies, as well as most TV show episodes.

I can not re-watch/reread anything. I need that element of surprise to push me forward. If the element of surprise is ruined, like if someone spoils it for me, I won’t watch or read whatever it is. I just won’t. Is that weird?

The ONLY exceptions to my weird little rule are the Harry Potter novels (but only in chronological order). They are just that good, and I relate to them so much. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the book that set the wheels in motion for me, and literally changed my life. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever read any other books more than once. As far as movies go, I can watch the Harry Potter movies over and over, but I do lose interest after a while. I’m easily distracted. The one movie that I have seen at least 200 times, however, is Spaceballs. Quite possibly the greatest movie of all time. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I used to only be able to sleep if I had this movie playing, and used to use it as background noise in my old apartment, before I had internet or cable. It’s just such a great movie! A few others I can handle are David Bowie’s Labyrinth, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Mirrormask.

So, I think I might be broken. Any time I’ve ever told anyone that I can not reread a book that I’ve already read, they think I’m crazy. I can’t explain it. Well, I can, I guess, since I just did…

I’m going to go now. Anyone else out there have a hard time getting through movies and books that they’ve already finished?

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan