[162] giddens wedding.

I’ve just come from the Blakemore-Giddens wedding at the Wisteria Place in Mesquite, TX, and I’m just so happy to say that it was so much fun. Definitely one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to – it was whimsical and sweet and full of dancing.

I know most of you are just here to look at pictures, so I’ll spare you the chit-chat and get to it.

Tim and Cara’s first dance

Dad and Daughter

And sweet Cara gave me the surprise of my life when she walked down the aisle  wearing a pair of earrings that she bought from me on Etsy! Isn’t she stunning?

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you all when I get back from Texas!


[160] giveaway winner!

This weekend is probably going to be pretty spare posting, if at all. I’m heading to Texas on Friday to spend the weekend with some dear friends at a dearest friend Cara’s wedding. I’ll try to post some fun pictures from my phone, but we’ll just have to see.

And the winner of my first ever (but not last) Etsy giveaway is Mary of Undergrad Fab! I’m especially thrilled because she happens to be my Internet twin and one of my favorite all-around bloggers. She runs some pretty spectacular giveaways herself, so you should probably just add her to your reader.

[159] got those harry potter tickets + last day of my necklace giveaway

Because I am tired as all get-out, I don’t have a post for tonight, either. Something about sleeping outside in a tent next to a giant movie theater just makes you more tired.

But we did get our tickets! We were probably the last people in line to get balcony seats, and we were about 17th of around 175 people, at the very least. A lot of disappointed faces this morning. But not us!

Really, if you haven’t seen a movie from the Warren balcony, you are missing out. It is glorious. The best way to see a movie – especially at midnight.

And remember, today’s the last day to enter the giveaway for a Magpie Nest Necklace, so be sure to do that tonight! I’ll randomize the numbers tomorrow and announce the winner.

Happy Wednesday!

[157] YA saves.

For those of you not entrenched in the book world (or at least dreaming of it and living vicariously through the blogosphere, like me), there’s been an uprising in defense of YA (young adult) lit over the past few days. Meghan Cox Gurdon of the WSJ wrote an article entitled Darkness Too Visible, a biting editorial on the content of modern young adult literature.

Obviously, the book world is up in arms about it, as am I. Here are the parts I really take issue with (because it would be wrong to post the entire article here):

How dark is contemporary fiction for teens? Darker than when you were a child, my dear: So dark that kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed, broadly speaking, at children from the ages of 12 to 18.

Well, you know, there are a lot of things that have changed in the last 40 years. And really, no matter what a parent can say, the world is different. Yes, the fundamentals of human emotion and experience are the same, but those same feelings are reached in different ways and through different media. It’s possible for adults to understand how teenagers today process their environment, but not probable. That’s not to say that teens are writing all of the YA fiction that exists, but those who are writing it have exited that stage of life generally within the last decade, and are more in tune with the existing struggles.

Reading about homicide doesn’t turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won’t make a kid break the honor code. But the calculus that many parents make is less crude than that: It has to do with a child’s happiness, moral development and tenderness of heart. Entertainment does not merely gratify taste, after all, but creates it.

Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.

You know what this says to me? This last paragraph walks the dangerous line between a harmless sentence and accusing YA writers of condoning acts of violence. The last time I checked, YA books aren’t about teaching their readers that it’s okay to live life without fear of consequences – but it is acknowledging the harsher world we live in now, to and with great effect. More people die untimely and violent deaths than in the past, more families are drained by all sorts of cash vampires, more teens are saddled with rising levels of responsibility than they ever have been. Why shouldn’t literature address this? Today’s YA lit is a reflection of the struggles that young adults face, rather than an acceptance of poor decisions.

I would guess that more YA books are banned in school libraries these days than are non-YA. Why? Simply because there are more of them. Because they target the youth, they’re automatically seen as acceptable – until they aren’t, by someone who wants to censor their children’s learning. Before we get in too deep, I don’t think we should just live in an anarchy of anti-censorship, but that’s not to say I agree with it, either – every person has his or her own rate at which he or she is capable of adjusting to the world that isn’t always there to protect.

But whether it’s language that parents want their children reading is another question. Alas, literary culture is not sympathetic to adults who object either to the words or storylines in young-adult books. In a letter excerpted by the industry magazine, the Horn Book, several years ago, an editor bemoaned the need, in order to get the book into schools, to strip expletives from Chris Lynch’s 2005 novel, “Inexcusable,” which revolves around a thuggish jock and the rape he commits. “I don’t, as a rule, like to do this on young adult books,” the editor grumbled, “I don’t want to compromise on how kids really talk. I don’t want to acknowledge those f—ing gatekeepers.”

By f—ing gatekeepers (the letter-writing editor spelled it out), she meant those who think it’s appropriate to guide what young people read. In the book trade, this is known as “banning.” In the parenting trade, however, we call this “judgment” or “taste.”

Excuse me? I really don’t think it’s up to parents to dictate what their young adult children read. If they have concerns, a conversation is probably in order, but my parents never told me I couldn’t read a book. There are a few books that I had an extremely limited reading of because I didn’t really understand them, and my mom told me that was probably going to be the case, but I insisted. And look at me, I’m fine. I got a degree in reading, for crying out loud.

At the same time, she notes that many teenagers do not read young-adult books at all. Near the end of the school year, when she and a colleague entertained students from a nearby private school, only three of the visiting 18 juniors said that they read YA books.

Notably, there are no actual teenagers quoted in this article, nor are there any statistical figures on the topic. Just some opinions and parental censorship quotes. While I do think parents have a dog in this fight, theirs is a small dog compared to those of the teenagers reading the books.

And obviously only a few of them owned up to it.

  1. Reading YA isn’t considered cool. It’s generally considered Twilight and Harry Potter, which it is not really.
  2. Let’s be completely honest here: how many of these teenagers are avid readers? In one class, it’s probably not too many. But we don’t have their answers in front of us to assess, so this is all rather a moot point.
  3. Another reason it isn’t cool to read YA? It does tackle tough subjects. A lot of YA readers find books that deal with their specific issues, and who wants to talk about their problems in high school? I didn’t, that’s for sure. And I had relatively zero problems compared to the rest of suburban high schoolers.

I’ve read some incredibly moving YA books in recent years – some of them far better than the “literature” I’ve read, too. Just because a book has a younger character set does not mean it can’t be meaningful for readers of all ages.

Both Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are marketed as young adult, but are wildly successful with people of all ages. My brother has been reading them for a few years – he and I stayed up to read the last book together the night it came out five years ago, when he was seven and I was 18. Even now, we share books. We share books with my parents. Of course, we have different interests, but our main interest lies in good literature, no matter the target age.

And really, I think a lot of people could really use with reading some books that demographically target a younger age. If you’re reading this blog post, I would guess that you grew up privileged enough to have books in your home. You learned to read at an early age and have thoroughly enjoyed reading since. (If this isn’t you, I’m not sure how you stumbled upon my blog, but I suggest you go back where you came from and take a book with you.) You probably grew up reading Maurice Sendak, developed into The Phantom Tollbooth, and worked your way into the Penguin classics.

Have you looked back at those books since?

I reread The Phantom Tollbooth last year for the first time since I was a little girl, and I realized how much more there is to it than I could have ever understood when I was younger. It’s a book of choices, of having to make the right decision, and learning what to do when you make the wrong decision, among so many other things. Sure, it’s covered in a fantasy setting, but that doesn’t make the lesson any less real, does it? You could say the same for any genre novel published “for adults.”

It’s rather funny that Gurdon bemoans the literature of today, wishing for the days of Judy Blume, when, in fact, Judy Blume is a staunch supporter of literary development and support for young adults.

And really, if you need more proof that YA Saves, go search the #YASaves tag on Twitter. Go Google “YA saves.” There’s been a tremendous outpouring of love for the genre, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It doesn’t get much better than that.

[156] history said what?

One of my favorite pastimes is finding new blogs, usually Tumblrs, to keep up with. Some of the best ones recently are I’m Not Racist But/I’m Not Sexist But, Dumb Tweets at Brands, and Texts From Pawnee.

But today I want to talk about History Said What?. Basically, they attribute song lyrics and movie quotes to famous people in history. And it’s hilarious, every single time.

And then there are, of course, the people who do. not. get. it.

Oh, and if you didn’t catch the MTV Movie Awards tonight, Twilight won everything, Harry Potter took the rest, and all of the hosting/announcing was hilarious. I’d recommend watching a homemade highlights reel on YouTube sometime this week. No reason to put yourself through the torture of watching the entire show. It wasn’t that good.

[155] weekend update

It’s a working weekend for me, so there isn’t a whole lot say as in regards to doing a lot of fun things. I worked all day today, and then came home and watched two hours of Doctor Who with my brother, and then we switched over to X2 because it was on TV. I live the high life, I’m telling you.

But one of my best friends is moving to follow her dreams this weekend. We’ve been friends for about eight years, since mid-high school. We first bonded over our love of Pirates of the Caribbean then, and we’ve stayed close ever since. She’s just one of those people with whom I can just talk about anything at any time – we just get each other, you know?

So anyway, she’s moving to LA on Sunday to get into the movie side of music business. It’s kind of scary, but also kind of awesome.

This is us when we were babies. We’re in Vienna at Nymphenburg, which I only have vague memories of seeing, unfortunately. I believe I’m sixteen here. Cute fanny pack, I know. We had to have them. It wasn’t a choice.

A bunch of people got together at McNellie’s the other night for a going-away party of sorts, and it was a blast. I haven’t seen most of these people more than a handful of times since high school, so it was nice to have a few hours to sit and just catch up with each other. Have grown-up talk, I guess, since we’re all done with college and on to bigger things these days.

One of my favorite things about Kayla’s move is that she interned in LA the same summer I was interning in NYC. We’d kind of lost touch for a while before that, but we ended up talking almost every day, either online or on the phone, about all of the cool things that were happening to us in our respective big cities. We also talked almost every day about how once we were graduated, we were going to move back and make all of our dreams come true.

And that’s actually happening.

It’s all good and well to talk about it like a plan you’d like to have – but when you get the chance to really grab hold and make it happen, it’s kind of amazing. And I’m so proud of her, and I can’t wait to be in those high heels in just a few short months. As if we’d tackle the greatest cities in the world in anything less than our best heels. Please.

Music Saturday: Anjulie. This song, Boom, is on our playlist at work, so I finally looked it up, and her whole first CD, Anjulie, is really excellent. Also, I want to live in this Alice-inspired world (or any Alice-inspired world, really).

New Twitter account of the day: @jarpad, Jared Padalecki. Best known in my mind as Dean from Gilmore Girls, but currently more famous (is that possible…) as Sam on the CW’s Supernatural. Did you ever think I’d be watching a scary TV show? Yeah, me neither. Surprise!