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What I'm Reading: December 2016 #2

Saturday, December 31, 2016


This is my  bi-weekly series to share with you whatever I’m reading that has either interested, entertained, or angered me.  I’ll talk about the book I’m reading, articles I’ve read, blog posts I’ve liked, interesting videos, ect.  This is one of my favorite type of posts to read on other people’s blog, so I hope you will find some links you enjoy!
Want to know what else I’m reading? Be my friend on Medium and Bloglovin’ and Goodreads for more!

Books:

I finished up reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  She is definitely on my badass role model list.  Wow, I love Rhimes and I am so inspired by her.  I am definitely going to re-read this book over and over again for the rest of my life because its lessons will always be relevant.

I also started reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell on Christmas Eve and finished it up Christmas morning, which in my opinion is the definition of a perfect Christmas.

Around the internet:

Love Sylvia Plath? Here's a zine dedicated to Plath and the girls who love her ---> The College Girl Mentality

I really want to just road trip around the US and hike EVERYTHING ---> My Favorite Hikes Around the US

Your brain structure changes when you're pregnant, apparently.  Brains are so cool.

Caitlin Moran on how we as a society communicate: through langrage (aka hateful talk where the only objective is to be right)

"Hillary Clinton acted as if women could be presidents of the United States, for God’s sake. Of course we had to take her down."

In case you don't have enough of your own family drama, you can watch Gilmore Girls Christmas episodes ranked by the amount of family tension.


Have you read anything interesting lately?

exactly one week until takeoff

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Takeoff," I say, as if I'm going to space instead of just an 8 hour flight to Glasgow.

Although I would like the record to note that I do want to be one of the first people to go on a Mars colonization mission.

One week until my plane leaves for Scotland.  I won't be back in America until early June at the earliest, mid-August at the latest.  (Unless something horrible happens.  Please God let nothing horrible happen.)

It hit me the other day that I'm actually going to be gone.  I was getting frozen yogurt with my little cousin and I realized that the next time I see her she'll be almost 9.  And my other cousin, he'll be 11 by the time I get back, there's a good chance he'll be taller than me.  And I'm not even short.

I also had a bad dream last night about my transit to Glasgow.  Well, not as bad as bad dreams go, but it was extremely anxiety-inducing.  I'm on my train to Scotland (from America...this is a dream, remember), and halfway through the trip I realize that I left all my luggage at home.  I ask the nice train manager, Sally Field, to let me off so I can go back, but it's not possible to stop a train in the middle of the Atlantic.

So I woke up stressed out with the extreme desire to start packing.  I should probably start with making a list.



I hope everyone is having a very happy holidays!  I'm leaving for my grandma's soon, for the second day in a row, to eat leftovers and celebrate my aunt's birthday.  This'll be the third day in a row that I've seen these people.  Good thing I like them.


How are your holidays going?  Anything exciting happening in the New Year?

Header Photo by Mike Kosiakov on Unsplash

My Glasgow Bucket List

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Buchanan Street

Listen, I love bucket lists.  They give me clear goals and a list to refer to when I complain about being bored.
I'll have five months in Glasgow, beginning of January to the end of May, and I want to make those months count.  I'll divide this list between activities that are specifically Glasgow-related and things that are in the rest of Scotland.

Glasgow

  1. visit Ashton Lane
  2. Kelvingrove Art Gallery
  3. Gallery of Modern Art
  4. Botanic Gardens
  5. Glasgow Cathedral
  6.  Voltaire & Rousseau bookstore
  7. Necropolis
  8. Good Press Gallery
  9. Burrell Collection
  10. Hunterian Museum
  11. eat lots of Indian food
  12. Mitchell Library
  13. St Aloysius Church
  14. Glasgow City Chambers Tour (apparently it's free)
  15. consume haggis
  16. football (soccer) game
  17. St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life & Art


Scotland

  1. Arthur's Seat
  2. Whaligoe Steps
  3. Loch Ness
  4. pet sheep
  5. St. Andrews
  6. West Highland Way (it's 96 miles long so... maybe)
  7. there's a lot of hiking to be done
Lonely Planet has a pretty comprehensive list of things on their site.


and beyond...

  1. see the Harry Potter play in London (I may or may not have bought tickets back in October 2015...)
  2. Persephone Books in London
  3. go to Ireland
  4. go to Wales. Hay-on-Wye sounds cool.
I think it's settled, I definitely need more than five months in Scotland.  I would prefer five years at a minimum; who wants to offer me a job after I graduate in 2018 please and thank you.

pin it!

What do you suggest I do/go/see while I'm in Glasgow/Scotland/the UK?

Header Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Photo by Toa Heftiba

Become my friend on Goodreads to follow along with everything I read as I'm reading it!

The Two Worst

I'm starting with the two worst because I don't want to end this blog post on a negative note.  Always end positively!

1. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and I know Maureen Johnson is a good writer, so I had reasonable expectations for this one.  Sadly, few books have disappointed me like this one.  NOTHING happens in this book until the last few chapters.  That's when the plot actually starts getting somewhere, but then the book ends.  Maybe the series gets better with the third book, but I won't bother finding out.  If you have to read this series, read the first book and end there.  You can thank me later.

2. Every Day by David Levithan

Okay, so, this book isn't BAD per se, it just has a lot of untapped potential.  This person, A, wakes up in a different body every single day.  We don't know if they are a boy or a girl, because even they don't know.  That's cool, I like that.  BUT, this book barely touched the surface with that concept.  It focused on the love story, which is an interesting facet of A's condition.  Levithan could've explored so much more but chose not to.  What happens if the body dies while A is in it?  Are there other people like A out there?  Why is there a geographical limit to which bodies they inhabit?  What happens when A grows old?  Of course, Levithan probably can't answer all of these questions in one story, but the story he did choose to tell was a boring one.

The Five Best


1. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This is the first Jandy Nelson book I read, but now I need to read more.  Sadly, she has only two published books, but if she ever comes out with something else I'll be first in line.  This book is about romance, sexuality, and growing up, but at its core, it's about family.  Even though it's marketed as YA, Nelson's writing style is truly unique and she doesn't dumb it down.
“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”
Brownstein's band, Sleater-Kinney

2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

This memoir focuses on the Riot Grrrl punk rock scene, primarily set in the northwest.  Almost everything in this book was new to me: all-female rock bands, music, touring, the American northwest scene, punk music.  I had no point of reference or background information before diving into this book, but I'm sure glad I did.  The problem with most memoirs is that they're just not well written; Brownstein proves that she is not only a good musician, actress, and producer, but also a great writer.
"We were never trying to deny our femaleness. Instead, we wanted to expand the notion of what it means to be female. The notion of “female” should be so sprawling and complex that it becomes divorced from gender itself. We were considered a female band before we became merely a band; I was a female guitarist and Janet was a female drummer for years before we were simply considered a guitarist and a drummer. I think Sleater-Kinney wanted the privilege of starting from neutral ground, not from a perceived deficit or a linguistic limitation. Anything that isn’t traditional for women apparently requires that we remind people what an anomaly it is, even when it becomes less and less of an anomaly."

3. The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French

Tana French is on my top 10 list of writers ever.  She is that good.  I really can't tell you anything about the plot without giving important things away, so just trust me on this one.  It's heavily influenced by The Secret History by Donna Tartt (which I also read this year), but set in Ireland.  What I love about French is that she never ties up the ending of her novels perfectly for you.  She knows that you, the reader, are smart and don't need everything spelled out, which I greatly appreciate.
“Some people are little Chernobyls, shimmering with silent, spreading poison: get anywhere near them and every breath you take will wreck you from the inside out.”

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Let's be honest, Sylvia Plath gets a lot of crap just because young girls like her.  If young girls like something, it will always be mocked by popular culture but nine times out of ten it will actually be good (see: One Direction and Teen Vogue).  But how many of the people that make fun of Plath and the girls who read her have actually took the time to read Plath?  The Bell Jar is compelling because we know Plath based it on her own experience.  How much of it is autobiographical?  If it is true to life, is any of it embellished?  How much is fiction?  We'll never know, but what makes this book beautiful is that it all feels real, no matter where her inspiration came from.
“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.
"Oh, sure you know," the photographer said.
"She wants," said Jay Cee wittily, "to be everything.”

5. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Will Shonda Rhimes ever do anything that doesn't please me?  The cover makes it look like a self-help book aimed at people who will never actually take the steps to improve their lives, but the inside is completely opposite.  Even though it is obviously in book format, it reads like a blog post.  I know people say this about a lot of books, but it truly feels like I'm sitting down with Shonda and she's dealing out life lessons over brunch.  We're buddies now, me and Shonda.  The premise of the book is simple: Shonda realized she wasn't living to her full potential by saying no all the time.  So she started saying yes, even when it scared her.  This book gives me lessons that I'll take with me while I'm studying abroad in Scotland and traveling in general: I need to say yes to new experiences, activities, people, and life.
“They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until your dream comes true.
I think that’s crap. 
I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.”

What were your top books of 2016? The worst?


What I Learned From NaNoWriMo16

Sunday, December 18, 2016


I'm going to share with you a lot of hard truths.  Things I needed to realize, and everything feels so much clearer now that I know.

Do you ever say a statement and it just feels right? It's the first time you've ever vocalized that statement, you never even thought about it before.  It feels like a content sigh, a warm hug, it's your truth.  It's always been a part of you, you've just never gave it words.

The most recent revelation I've had was when I was sitting in the kitchen floor of my aunt's house, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I was a Neuroscience major, which I loved, but I felt stuck going down a path that only ended in science.  Setting myself up for a life of being a researcher or a technician, and while those are good jobs, my limited prospects scared me.  I do not like feeling trapped.

I sat on that carpet in front of their refrigerator, googling my school's course catalog, and said to myself: "I am an English major."

And I immediately replied to myself, my inner Kermit speaking, said, "Well duh Victoria, of course you're an English major."  It was a truth universally acknowledged, as Austen puts it.


Here is my truth, the truth that I could only realize after giving NaNoWriMo an honest try:

I don't want to be a writer.

Or, to put it more accurately, I don't want to be a fiction writer.  At least not right now, not at this time in my life.

Without fail, every time I sat down at my laptop to write for NaNoWriMo, I would think to myself, "Ugh, I wish I was reading right now".  Every. Single. Time.

I gave up on this year's NaNoWriMo, after averaging about 2,000 words a day, over Thanksgiving break.  I picked up The Secret Place by Tana French and felt so content and happy.

Sure, maybe it was the pace I was writing at that of course would lead to burnout.  I liked my story, I liked my characters, I loved the message I wanted to weave through the text.  And I realized that hey, I'm not actually a horrible writer.  Many times I could stop and chuckle at what I just wrote, and then send the quote to my friend Amber to see if it was actually a good line or not.

I just don't want to create my own fictional story.  Why would I do that when I could be reading the beautifully plotted and character developed worlds of other writers?

Because of NaNoWriMo16, I've decided that I should focus more on creative nonfiction. Life writing. Blog writing.  That is obviously what I'm drawn to at the moment.

So, for now, I've given up on fiction writing.  My energy can be better used in other areas.  Maybe one day a story will grab a hold of me that I can't let go, but for right now I need to write my own story.

Did you learn anything from NaNoWriMo? Have you realized some obvious truths about yourself this year?

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

What I'm Reading: December 2016 #1

Friday, December 16, 2016



This is my  bi-weekly series to share with you whatever I'm reading that has either interested, entertained, or angered me.  I'll talk about the book I'm reading, articles I've read, blog posts I've liked, interesting videos, ect.  This is one of my favorite type of posts to read on other people's blog, so I hope you will find some links you enjoy!
Want to know what else I'm reading? Be my friend on Medium and Bloglovin' and Goodreads for more!

Since this is my first 'What I'm Reading' post there will probably be much more article links than normal.  I've been saving up posts to share with y'all for awhile!

Books:

The first week of December was a huge struggle due to finals and all the messy stress that comes along with them.  I managed to finish reading The Sea is Quiet Tonight by Michael W. Ward.  It's a memoir about a man who lost his partner to AIDS and their love story.

I'm also halfway through reading Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes which I started reading during November.  I didn't think I could love Shonda Rhimes any more, but never say never.  I just want to be as cool as her, okay?  I can tell that I'm going to read this book over and over again for the rest of my life.

I will go more in-depth about these books in my 'What I Read in 2016' review list!

Around the internet:

There's been a lot of think-pieces on the new Gilmore Girls revival.  If I only had to share one (which I am), then I'd want you to read this one: The Problem With Everyone's Problem with Rory Gilmore.

When you think you know everything about sex trends, something else surfaces: Inside the Dark, Dangerous World of Chemsex

I Have Wasted Years Thinking I'm Not Good Enough: "I need to stop focusing on not being good enough. I need to believe I am, or can be, or will be good enough."

If for some reason you can never ride on a plane again, look how far you can get in Europe just by train in 24 hours.

This list would've made AP Lit much more interesting: 5 Sexist Books They Made Us Read In School, And What We Should Have Read Instead

If you need more books to add to your 2017 reading goals: 40 New Feminist Classics You Should Read

More books to read!!! Non-western books every student should read

"I think you should write the truth. Be real. If you obsess about redemption instead of the truth, you'll be like me, writing nothing, because life is not redemptive. Life isn't like that. Just write your own messy life, and let it spill out."

2016 is the worst year ever, until next year.

I hope the real Mike Pence knows about this: Gay Mike Pence Doppelgänger Is Collecting Money For LGBTQ Causes

 

Have you read anything cool lately? Share it below!

Welcome to Vitae Victoria!

Thursday, December 15, 2016




I've noticed something.  By going far back into the archives of other blogs I like, I've noticed that they never have a true 'first post'.  No excited introduction, no awkward bursting through the internet door.  It feels like they just started their blog halfway through and I'm missing something.

They just started their blog and began shouting into the Void, no introduction needed.  (Or maybe, introduction later deleted.)  But I need to introduce myself to the Void that is the internet.  Sit the Void down, pass it my resume, let it ask questions about where I see myself in five years.  The Void and I are going to have a nice little chat, right here in this post, and then I'll give the Void a firm handshake and be on my merry blog-post-writing way.

Hello Void! This is me! And this is my blog!

I'm very excited to meet you.

And why shouldn’t I be? Life is exciting, man.  I know that makes me sound young and naïve, but who cares? Not me, not right now, hopefully not ever.  (I'm cringing already while editing this post.)
Life is spanning out in front of me and there are so many paths I can take.  And if I ever choose a path and end up hating it, I can start a new path.

I'm Victoria, a college student, a Libra (which is sadly not a mix of a lion and zebra), and  a Hufflepuff.  I’m a Neuroscience and English double major, but I’m betting myself five dollars that neither of those majors will impact my life much in ten years (that is the trend I'm noticing among most college graduates).  Or maybe they will. I guess I’ll have to find out.

I want to keep this blog fairly anonymous, at least until I graduate.  You can know my name and whichever country I am in at the moment (and at this moment of writing, it is eastern USA), but I’m going to keep my last name, university, and sorority off this blog for the time being.  Eventually I will work my way up to being more transparent (see below: Intention #1), but for now I’m going to play it safe.

So what, at its core, is Vitae Victoria about?
It’s about me.  For the next five months it will be about Scotland, then eastern Europe for two-ish months, then back to college for what’s (hopefully) my final year, and from then on it will be about South Korea/Japan/India/Cambodia/Mongolia/Peace Corps/ESL/who knows!  At the root of it all, this blog is about me.  And books, of course, because books are a part of me, always.

Is that selfish, to want something to be completely about me? By the definition of the term, yes.  But I don’t think being selfish is a bad thing, especially for girls, who are taught that they should be selfless above all.

I’m carving out my own space: on the internet, and in this world.  If no one ever reads this, then wow that’s kinda sad I was hoping for some back-and-forth dialogue.  But it’s still my space.

I don’t want to sell you anything (although I am open to those affiliate links, if I’ve actually used and liked the product), I don’t want to make you feel like your 9-5 job makes you less fulfilled (congrats to you for having a job!), and I definitely, definitely don’t want to inspire you (my beef with people trying to be ‘inspiring’ will be a post for another day).

I’m just going to be here. I’m going to be me.


In more definite terms, I will list out my intentions with this blog.  My intentions with you, reader, and with the Void.
  1. I want to feel more comfortable with demanding my own space, and this blog is a great step in the right direction. Being over-private is one of my vices and this blog terrifies me in that aspect.  I’m opening up and letting you in.  You could be my mom, my grandma, people who I went to elementary school with, people who I go to college with (this is the scariest of them all, nothing hurts worse than peer judgement), or just a random person on the internet.  That’s scary, but I’m working on it.
  2. I want an open dialogue. Talk to me!  Reply to posts!  It can be something as simple as an emoji or an in-depth reply with your ~feelings~ and input, which I highly value.  I genuinely want your two cents.  Hell, give me three cents.
  3. Improve my writing. I want to keep this blog for years and years and years and see myself develop over time.  This blog is my mandatory writing practice.  I want to experiment with what works, what doesn’t work, with the ultimate goal of developing my own voice.  Because isn’t that what all writers want?  A voice that is heard.
  4. Have a creative outlet. This is basically a blend of #1 and #3.
  5. Bring the soul back into travel blogging. Now I’m not saying every blog that chooses to monetize is a sell-out.  What I am saying is that people who blog with the sole purpose of advertising and making money are boring.  I’ve come across so many popular yet mind-numbingly boring blogs.  This little bullet point on my list is to publicly ensure that I will never become boring.  Please, give me a virtual shin kick via email if I do.
So, reader, I hope you’ll stick around.  I hope you’ll watch Vitae Victoria develop during the coming months and years. I hope you’ll talk to me via comments/twitter/email/Instagram, because shouting into the void all by myself can’t be fun.  Let’s shout into the void together.
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