Monday, December 27, 2010

Goodnight, Nashville

Tonight I am posting from just outside of Nashville, Tenessee. We started driving this morning at eight and didn't make it here until around nine pm. I am so tired. Isn't it funny how just sitting in the car all day can make you feel tired?

We didn't do much sightseeing yet. Our plan is to get to Florida as soon as possible so we can have more time to sightsee while we're down there. We are staying until January 7th or 8th.

I've been enjoying the scenery from the car and watching how the terrain changes in different areas. So far it's not too different, though Illinois was much flatter than Missouri and Kentucky seemed to have a lot of lakes and rivers. I've noticed some different kinds of trees as well that we don't have many of in Missouri. I'm looking forward to driving through some small mountains tomorrow. I love the mountains.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I had a good birthday, and I am now twenty years old. I don't feel twenty. Growing up is different from how I imagined it.

When I was a kid I imagined growing older as some kind of magical transformation. I knew sixteen-year-old me would be grown up and mature and different. When I got there, I was still me and I didn't feel any different. Even then I thought that surely when I got into my twenties I would feel different somehow. In reality, I am still just me, the same as I've always been.

Of course, I know I've changed a lot since I was a little kid. I just didn't notice the process of changing like I thought I would.

Anyway, since I finished the school semester, I have been doing a lot of reading and crocheting.

My friend gave me a new book for my birthday on Saturday, and I was done with it by Monday. It was really good. It's by Megan Whalen Turner, and it's called The Thief. I'm almost scared to read the sequels because I was told that they're not as good and I don't want them to ruin it, so I'm waiting a few days before I read them. That way I'm less emotionally attached to the characters.

I stopped at the library last night at around five, and since then I have finished two books. Since almost all I read over the school semester was Hamlet, I've been starving to read some good books. In fact, we made our Christmas wish lists the other day (Mom told us to write them to make it easier for her to know what to get us) and almost every item on my wish list was a book.

I've been crocheting a blanket for my baby nephew Blake and it's almost done. I'm getting excited. I won't post a picture until after Christmas because I don't want my sister to see it yet.

Unfortunately, other than that blanket, I haven't aquired any other Christmas gifts yet, and Christmas is a short four days away. I need to go shopping as soon as possible.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy birthday!

Today is Jane Austen's birthday.

Happy birthday, Miss Austen. You are my hero.

In honor of her birthday, (which, if she were still alive, would have been her 235th) I will say a kind word or two about each of her novels and what I love about them.

I have also put them in order of my least favorite to most favorite.

Mansfield Park

Mansfield park is probably my least favorite Jane Austen novel, but I still have a great appreciation for it.

Many people criticize Fanny Price as being "self-righteous," but they are wrong. She is not self-righteous, she is simply right.

The difference between this and almost every other Jane Austen novel is that, in this case, the heroine does not have to mature and change her mind about something. Fanny is the constant throughout this novel; she is observant and wise, humble enough to take others' advice but strong enough to stand against something she believes is wrong.

I like this novel because, like Fanny, I am extremely shy and awkward in social situations. It was nice to identify in that way with the heroine when I read it the first time.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a great book. It is about a relationship between sisters, which I enjoyed as I have three of them. I really admire Elinor as a character. She is so patient and practical, the opposite of her dramatic and self-centered sister Marianne.

All of the characters in this book seem stereotypical at first glance, but in everyday life I encounter more characters from this book than any other. I think everyone has had a Mrs. Jennings, an Elinor, a Marianne, or a Lucy Steele in their life. Robert Ferrars and John Dashwood are also two people who I have seen in the modern world. When I think about it, I could probably cast the entire book with people I know.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice. This is the book that started my Jane Austen obsession. My first exposure to Jane Austen was the BBC mini-series of this book, and I read the book itself soon afterwards. I was pretty young, maybe 10-12 years old.

This book is "rather too light, and bright, and sparkling," according to Jane Austen herself. However, I have a feeling that she was still speaking satirically when she wrote that, because she goes on to describe an exaggerated version of serious topics she should have thrown into the middle of the book for no other reason than to darken it.

I think this book is a work of genius. It is a romance, and yet that's not really the focus of the plot. It follows Elizabeth Bennet as she matures and figures out who she wants to be.

Pride and Prejudice is not my favorite of Jane Austen's novels, but I still appreciate it.


Emma. This book is one of my favorite books in the world. It is a romance, a mystery, and a commentary on the social structure of the early 1800's. It's filled with wonderfully faulty characters who interact in a realistic way and make stupid mistakes. It's about the nature of love and friendship, redemption, forgiveness, misunderstandings, patience and self-awareness.

For more of my feelings about this book, see this post.


Persuasion was the last novel written by Jane Austen, and it has a bitter-sweet feeling to it that I love. It's about second chances and the constancy of true love.

Anne Elliot is a person I really admire and respect. (Yes, I'm aware that she's fictional... I'm just in denial.) She is so incredibly lonely, but she is determined to be happy and content despite everything in her life going against her.

Persuasion is one of my favorite novels, along with Northanger Abbey. They trade places as my favorite and second favorite depending on what mood I'm in.

Northanger Abbey

There are some books that are impossible to be made into movies, and Northanger Abbey is one of them. The plot can be captured, but the novel is a satire of gothic romance novels, a fact which is conveyed through the sarcastic voice of the narrator.

This book is probably the funniest of all of her novels, with the witty sarcasm of the narrator and the teasing banter between Henry Tilney and Catherine.

Henry is the youngest and most charming hero in any of the novels. He is so sweet to Catherine, but he has such a distinct personality that he is not the stereotypical romantic hero. He ties with Mr. Knightly as my favorite.
This book also has the greatest "defense of the novel" ever written. : )


So, there are my thoughts on the six major Jane Austen novels. I feel like my comments were largely redundant and could be summed up by "I like Jane Austen and her novels," but I was afraid to talk too much about them for fear of making this post extremely long. : )

Happy birthday, Jane Austen.


Monday, December 13, 2010

81 places mapped

I was looking at my blog and I just noticed this map at the bottom of the page. I had forgotten about it. Look at all the different places that have visited my blog! That is so cool. I wonder how many of them read my blog and how many were just random, accidental page views. That one dot way up there in Russia somewhere was probably just a random page view. I wonder if the one in Australia is a real blog reader?

I have always wanted to travel. When I was younger I thought it was my destiny to be a photographer for National Geographic and travel the world and have all kinds of adventures. In reality I get motion sick in any kind of vehicle, I am picky about food preparation and I do not know how to pack light. Also, I am not a photographer.

So I guess travelling for a living isn't my destiny, but I still would like to see other places in this world before I die. It's strange to me that I have never been overseas at all when it is not too difficult to get a plane ticket.

Someday I will travel. I want to experience different cultures, not just be a tourist. I would love to rent a flat in London or Paris and just immerse myself in a different world for awhile.

In the meantime, I am content with my hometown, and I will share my plain midwestern life with whoever in the world wants to read about it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shakespeare (Long post!)

Miss Georgianna Penn left me this note on my last post:

Dear Miss Jane.
I have tried several times to get into Shakespeare and have failed miserably. You seem to (aside from when you have to write and essay on it) enjoy his works. How in heavens name do you suggest one to get into Shakespeare, and do you think that for some people it's just best not to?

Thank you,
The Want to be Shakespeare Lover ;)

Well Georgie, to tell you the truth, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are the only works of Shakespeare that I have read so far.

It is very difficult to get used to the language of Shakespeare, but once you get a grasp of how people talk and what some of the words mean it gets so much easier. I suggest first of all that you find a version of the play that has footnotes. The copy of Hamlet that I'm reading has notes at the bottom of the page when there is a word that is archaic, or when there is a reference to events that the audience in the 1600's would have known about. It is extremely helpful in understanding what they are saying.

You can also find the text online with a modern interpretation of each line next to it. Here is one called No Fear Shakespeare.

As an example of what this looks like, here is the beginning of the king's speech in Act 1, scene 2 of Hamlet. This was taken from the original text.

Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe,
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.

To anyone unfamiliar with Shakespearean language, this sentence is convoluted and confusing.

Here is the side-by-side modern text of this section from No Fear Shakespeare:

Although I still have fresh memories of my brother the elder Hamlet’s death, and though it was proper to mourn him throughout our kingdom, life still goes on—I think it’s wise to mourn him while also thinking about my own well being.

If you look at the original text after reading this, it makes it a lot more clear what the king is saying.

As to the last part of your question, I do think that if you are just not interested in Shakespeare, it is not going to hurt you to skip it. Shakespeare was an amazing playwright, and he contributed a lot to the English language, but reading his plays is (in my opinion) not as valuable as reading other classic works.
If someone had to choose, I would direct them to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Silas Marner by George Eliot, Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter and An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott over anything by Shakespeare. These are some of the books that have really had an influence over me.
On the other hand, a familiarity with the works of Shakespeare can add richness to the reading of other books. There are allusions to Shakespeare in many classic works.
For example, in Emma by Jane Austen, Emma remarks, "The course of true love never did run smooth." This is a direct quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
When you have read the play (or are at least familiar with the plot) you start to understand the irony of Emma quoting this passage in reference to a match between Harriet and Mr. Elton. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, this line is in a conversation between Lysander and Hermia, who are deeply in love. Lysander has been deemed unworthy by Hermia's father, and he is trying to split them up by engaging Hermia to another man. Isn't that an ironic parallel to what Emma is doing to Harriet and Mr. Martin? She is trying to split Harriet up from a man she has deemed unworthy by pairing her up with Mr. Elton.
This not only adds a richness to the reading of Emma, it shows us an example of something we already know about Emma's character. She always tries to read the classics and never gets very far. The line quoted is from Act 1, scene 1 of the play, and she doesn't even understand the situation of the characters enough to see that it was a bad comparison to use.
So if you can, I would recommend having at least a basic familiarity with Shakespeare's plays, but not if it's going to make you so tired of classic language that you won't read other classic books. I hope that answers your question Georgie!
Sorry for such a long post!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ask me questions!

Today I woke up early to work on my Hamlet essay. Nope, it's still not done. I am getting weary of reading Hamlet now. I love it, but it's beginning to not be fun anymore.

I then went to my second-to-last history class. We are still talking about Vietnam. I hope the teacher will be able to get through the rest of the material in the next lecture. There's not too much left, but she tends to go into detail instead of getting through. We've been behind schedule for most of the semester.

After that I ran to the store, started making cinnamon pie, ran back to the store because I forgot the butter, finished making cinnamon pie, watched Psych on tv and ate a piece of cinnamon pie.

These particular cinnamon pies are for a class tomorrow. In creative writing we are having a pizza party instead of a final exam. Isn't that cool?

I keep realizing that my posts on here are increasingly dull and journal-like. I haven't been reading much because of school. Well, I've been reading Hamlet. Would you guys like a Hamlet post? What would you want to know about Hamlet? A Hamlet post is actually not a bad idea. It would give me the oppourtunity to talk about Hamlet in a less formal way. I'll think about it.

You know what it's time for? I need topics, and you have questions.

Ask me questions!

Preferably questions that won't require research or much deep thinking to answer, please, it is finals week.

Now it's up to you to make sure this blog stays interesting! Ask me anything, and I will try to give you creative and hopefully entertaining answers.


Sunday, December 5, 2010


...I read a book called The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. It was really good. It's not going on my list of all-time favorites, but I would read it again. I liked all the Shakespeare references.

...I discovered the wonderful yumminess called cinnamon pie. It was mentioned on a tv show we watch, and we didn't know if it was a real thing or not. I looked it up, found a recipe (here's a link) and made it this evening. It was absolutely delicious. I'm making a few next week for our church potluck. It was really easy, too. It's just basic ingredients you would already have (except for maybe the pie crust.)

Cinnamon pie (not my picture, but ours looked just like it only without whipped cream)

...I procrastinated on finishing one of the last pieces of homework I have to do. It's a reading log which I was supposed to be keeping up with this whole time but had forgotten about. There's about ten of them now that I must finish by Tuesday. I guess I had better stop blogging and go work on those now. : )