Tuesday, March 29, 2011

30-Day Challenge 8: Nature of Magic Blogfest

Question of the Day: When was the last time you taught someone how to do something? How would you describe your teaching style?

Day 08: Long-term goals of the year.

**Nature of Magic Blogfest**
~Hosted by Tessa Conte and Laura Diamond~

Once again, my apologies for posting my submission so late! But I guess "better late than never," eh? Here was our task:

Write or share something you've already written that, to you, shows the nature of magic. It can be an excerpt from your WIP, something you've written especially, poetry, whatever strikes your fancy. It just needs to show the nature of magic as it exists for you or for those you write about. Unless you're writing poetry, try to keep the entries somewhere between 250-1000 words.

The nature of magic? When people first think of magic, what first pops in their minds are the supernatural, the spells and the unicorns, and The Harry Potter. But what about the magic that happens all around us everyday? I believe that magic in reality deals with feelings, thoughts and things that can't be touched or seen. Like love. Like the moment when you are teaching someone else who is frustrated and confused and, after several moments of struggling, you finally get through to that student in some other way.

(I apologize for my super-long entry! Once I start writing, I just can't seem to stop!!!)


“Let’s try this again.” I tried to keep my voice at a steady level, but with every tick my watch was reminding me that the hour was drawing to a close. Adriana Sanchez was squirming in her seat, her coarse, black hair wrapped around a single finger. She breathed out a deep sigh of clear frustration and, once again, bent over the textbook to study the sentences.

All I knew about this child was that she and her family had migrated into the states from Mexico and that, while she was brilliant in mathematics, the sciences, and even in American history, her ability to speak English was lacking. Sure, she could understand the language, but her Spanish accent was so thick it was always difficult for the other children to understand what she was even saying.

What had I been thinking when I’d agreed to tutor Adriana? Yes, I studied Spanish all throughout high school and college. Yes, I’d already taught Spanish to children before. But wasn’t spending eight hours a day with a class of thirty-two children enough already?

What on earth is wrong with you? a voice in my head whispered. You love teaching! You spent years getting your degree in education and now you’re counting down the seconds until you can go home and, what, take a nap?

It was true. I’d loved teaching. Loved. But did I anymore? I’d dreamt of teaching at one of the top primary schools in America, and here I was. I’d achieved my goal and, up until six months ago, I’d been living the dream. My dream.
It no longer felt like a dream. The rush of excitement was gone, the rush I used to feel every time my students would slowly nod their heads after they’d finally mastered a particularly abstract concept. What was often left in its place was exasperation and impatience.

How could things for me have come to this?

“The dug rrron oberrr the heel.” Morgan’s big brown eyes squinted close together as she struggled to match her words to the letters that glared back at her.
“Close,” I said wryly.
“The dog-uh rrun oberrr the heel?”
“Not quite.”

Things happened so fast. One moment, I was eyeing the text below pictures of Golden Retrievers running over hills and across neighborhood streets. A split second later, I was staring at the top of the desk where the book used to be.

The book was now grasped tightly in the hands of Adriana, whose face was filled with nothing but resentment and pure anger. With one mighty thrust, the girl slammed the book to the ground, making such a large thump that even I couldn’t help but flinch.

I stared at Adriana, shocked. “Adriana! What has gotten into you?!” I cried.

“I am tired of this! Lo más cerca que alguna vez me va a conseguir es ‘cerca!’ Quiero ir a casa ahora!” The closest I'm ever going to get is "close!" I want to go home NOW! With that, Adriana began swiping all the books off of the other desks and trashing the floor with them. Tears were streaming down her face.

All at once, I was taken back to one year ago, the day Billy Carson threw up during Reading Hour. The day Principal Lawson had patted my shoulder and said in a satisfactory tone, “You did good, Miss. You did good.” Quick, think! I thought frantically to myself. What did I do back then? How did I handle the catastrophe?

I remembered ushering the kids out, cool as a cucumber. Some of the louder, more obnoxious boys made bets about how many gallons of puke there were on the classroom floor. Big, brawny, nine-year-old Tray called Billy a heffalump. “Don’t pay attention to them, I’d said to Billy outside the boys’ bathroom, helping him wipe off leftover Trix cereal mush. Everyone has puked at least once in school. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of puking experiences way back when I was your age. You never know, it might be Tray next time who gets the “queasies.” And Billy had laughed.

Just don’t make it a big deal. “Don’t make it a big deal,” I whispered to myself now. “Yeah.”

I stood up and slowly walked to where Adriana was still abusing the poor textbooks and littering the ground. I waited until she finally came to a stopping point to catch her breath. Before she could resume her vandalizing, I asked, “se sienta mejor?” Feeling better?

Adriana glared at me before returning to her desk and plopping down on her seat. “No. Yo quiero ir a casa.” I want to go home.

“But we aren’t done with the lesson, Adriana,” I said, doing my best to keep my voice from quivering. I walked back to sit across from her again. “Now can you please tell me why you threw those books on the floor?”


“Usted debe haber tenido algunarazón.” You must’ve had some reason.

I remembered how my mom used to stroke me on the back whenever I got upset over something. I gingerly placed my hand over Adriana and patted lightly.

“I was angry,” Adriana said. She wore a pout on her face and her eyebrows were scrunched up together. A bird in the distance. Her head was bent down so that her big, brown eyes met her pair of Converse on the floor.

“Por que te enojaste?” Why were you angry?

“Because I didn’t get English,” she said. One black and white shoe kicked the other. Thump.

I took a deep breath. “Adriana,” I began slowly. “You are not the only one who doesn’t get English. It is hard, I know. My sister had trouble too when she was your age.” Technically, anyway. My sister had been diagnosed with dyslexia ages ago, but how could you explain “dyslexia” to an eight-year-old?

“Adriana, do you understand me?” I asked, looking at her intently, hoping that she’d meet my glance.

She nodded slowly, but still looked down. It was like there was some magnetic force pulling her eyes to the floor. “I was mad, so I throw books.”

“I know…but, you know, everyone gets mad sometimes. Even grownups do, and Salma Hayek.” That was her name, I think. Some Mexican celebrity, whom I’d overheard Adriana and her mother talking about a week ago after school had ended. “But everyone can’t go and throw some books around every time they get mad, can they?”

Somewhere on Adriana’s face, I spotted a small curl. A smile.

And, all of a sudden, a wave of triumph and relief washed over me. I couldn’t help it; my corners of my mouth stretched far and wide. Her smile was contagious; it made all the difference to me. My heart quickened at the thought that I was getting through to the other side of this student. My student.

“Now, I think we ought to pick those books up before the mice come out and start chewing on them. What do you say?”

Adriana nodded. “Si.”


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Delay in My Nature of Blogfest Entry and Blogging In General

Question of the Day: How do YOU apologize to your readers for seemingly abandoning your blogging and then randomly returning?
To answer my own Question of the Day.....I give my readers a bit of eye candy! Doesn't this cupcake look sweet? I think the Tooth Fairy would have a Field Day over one of these...

Okay, okay, I won't avoid the main subject anymore. I deeply apologize for my lack of blog entries and for the delay in my Nature of Blogfest entry! The past week and a half have been extremely hectic; for some reason, college professors want to hoard as much work on their students as possible the week after spring break. I won't list all the to-do's and do-that's I have had (okay, well maybe my killer Economics midterm is worth noting), but I just wanted to let it be known that, well, I've had a lot on my plate. Plus, my poor blog isn't the only thing I have neglected due to school...I have yet to clean my room (as of right now it is filled with scrunched up pieces of scratch paper and leftover snacks), wash my turtle tank and a number of other things I've been putting off.

But thankfully things have simmered down now, and while my schedule is still filled with to-that's and do-do's (whoops! to-do's and do-that's!) I am on the path towards reorganizing my life! Hurray!!!

You can expect a full-blown magical blogfest entry about the nature of magic tomorrow. :) And there's a long list of lovely bloggies that are to come in the near future! Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the magical cupcake. It is watching you. o.o


Sunday, March 13, 2011

30-Day Challenge 7: The Broken Hearts Blogfest

Question of the Day: If today was your last day on Earth, how would you spend it?

Day 07: A picture of something that has the biggest impact on you.

Because of books, I have discovered my love for writing. Because of books, I am able to escape the real world and discover the millions of best friends that I have found within the characters of Jo March, Huckleberry Finn, Anna Fitzgerald, and so many more. Because of books, I know what is to become of me and what I want to do with my life.

Today is The Broken Hearts Blogfest day!

This blogfest is hosted by Dawn Embers at It's In the Book. The idea is pretty straightforward... an entry with the theme of broken hearts. It's not too late to sign up--the whole thing lasts from today 'til Tuesday!

I decided to share with you an excerpt from my novel, Sophie. It may be a bit over 1,000 words but much of it is dialogue. I have slightly altered it for you to better understand the context. Please enjoy!

“So, what is it you want to talk about?” Excitement was whirring inside of me like pressure of gas inside a car that was getting ready to accelerate forward. This was it. It had to be.

“How have the last couple of years been for you, Sophie?” Paul finally asked. He’s making sure that my time with him has really meant something to me before he asks The Question, I thought to myself. The car within me roared to life.

“These years have been really great, Paul,” I said as softly and gently as I could, even though I was exploding on the inside. “Really. The time I’ve had with you has been spectacular. I’m so glad to have you in my life, I really am.”

Paul laughed, but his laugh sounded off. Like it had been forced out.

“I’m glad to hear that.” He shifted his position on the picnic towel. “I’ve enjoyed them too.”

Seconds ticked by, and the stillness drifted between us like a blanket of white fog.

“Remember when you met my parents last Christmas?” Paul asked. How strange...it wasn't like him to change the subject. He had always been so straightforward, to the point.

“Yes,” I said automatically. “It was awesome…I was so excited when your mom hugged me after dinner…I remember being so worried that they wouldn’t like me.” I giggled at the memory.

“Listen—Sophie…” Paul began, and then stopped. He looked at me blankly. “I’d like to…to…suggest something,” he said slowly, carefully.

“You think we should get married?” The words tumbled out.

I had no idea what made me say it; one minute I was waiting excitedly and anxiously for Paul to just come out and say it, and in the next moment I had said it myself.

The longest, quietest silence I had ever encountered drifted between us. I could hear the rustling of leaves on our maple tree as the wind began to pick up. Out of the corner of my eye, the ants on our picnic towel were taking advantage of the peace to intrude our picnic and retrieve the remains of banana peel and sandwich crumbs that lay neglected on the cloth.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea, Sophie,” Paul said quietly.

The elation I had felt just moments before disappeared, and the impelling car inside of me screeched to a halt.

“You what?” My voice was barely audible; I wasn’t even sure I had said anything.

“Sophie…I don’t think it’s a good idea if we get married,” Paul said again, this time a little louder. Every word punctured a little more of me until I was as feeble and helpless as a dummy.

“Why?” Suddenly, I had a desire to laugh. Maybe Paul was frightened and wanted to back out because he thought I wouldn’t want to be with him because of his job and hectic schedule.

“I mean, you know I love you and I’m pretty sure you love me too. It doesn’t matter to me what your job is as long as you’re happy. Any difficulties you and I encounter, we can overcome them. And—” My last few words failed me as I looked into Paul’s face and realized it was no good. Realization dawned on me, but I refused to comprehend with it.

“Are you breaking up with me?” I whispered, not understanding the words I spoke. It was like trying to speak another language.

“You matter to me, Sophie,” Paul tried to explain. “You really do. But Mother and Father need me to be with a woman who is willing to go into the same field as me, so we can work together.”

“But—but you said your mom and dad loved me when…when I first met them. You told me before that they think my job is ‘lovely’ and—and whatever I did should make me happy, regardless of what it is.”

“Things change.”

“Is this because we never get to have time on our own?” I asked Paul. “Because if it is, we can work things out, we can rearrange our schedules so we’ll have enough time to—to be together …”

“You know, it’s kind of hard to be a surgeon and rearrange patients’ schedules according to my own,” Paul said. Was it my imagination, or was there an edge of ice in Paul’s voice?

“But—but Paul…” I fought back tears that were fighting to escape from my dignity. “I—I’m willing to do anything for you. I want to be with you.”

“Are you willing to give up your job as a teacher, go back to school and get a medical degree?” Paul was looking at me intensely. His electrical blue eyes felt like lightning blinding my gray ones. It hurt.

I didn’t understand why Paul was asking me of this; he knew how much I loved to teach, how much it meant to me every time a child’s look of understanding burst its way through after I’d explained a mathematical term or the spelling of a word, when moments before there stood a look of blank incomprehension.

“You…you know I can’t do that,” I said, hardly surprised to find my voice shaking tremendously. “This is my very first year of teaching. I’ve waited six years to be where I am now. I’ve just started my dream and you know that...”

“In which you should know that since you’re just starting and you’re not completely delved into a real teaching career yet, you have time to leave and back out now.”

“You…you want me to give up what I love to do, just so…” I felt incredulous.

“Just so we can be together,” Paul finished.

“You said you loved me,” I argued.

“You said you were willing to do anything,” Paul reminded me. “You said you wanted to be with me.”

“But I do!” I said loudly. “I do want to be with you! But…every time I imagine us married, living our lives together…it involved us being happy and both of us doing what we want to do.”

“What my parents want is for me to live my life with someone whom I can be partners with, career-wise,” Paul said. “They don’t think teaching is a good enough job to keep food on the table and tuition money for my kids’ future college experiences.”

“You’re leaving me because I don’t meet your parents’ requirements?” I asked, disbelieving.

Paul considered. “Yeah. Something like that.”

The rain was finally coming. Big, heavy drops of rainwater poured over us; the tree we were sitting under was no longer a wonderful protection, no match against the force of the angry clouds above us.

I bowed my head, hair covering my face in shame. I realized then that the tears I’d been fighting back had won the battle. Salty wetness trickled down my cheeks and was now pouring down my face like a waterfall. I was sobbing. But then, another feeling began to overshadow the repentance. I slowly looked up, trembling with fury.

“You’re a coward,” I told Paul. Clouds were progressing even faster, and the rain got heavier. “You’re a grown man, and even now you can’t do what you want without having to listen to your parents. This is your life and you need to live it the way you want.”

Paul gazed at me with his blank stare. Before I knew it, he had stood up and was now walking away from our picnic.

“You’re a coward!” I screamed at Paul. The back of his white shirt was soaked and his skin was visible against the material. The nostalgia of his strong, secure body against mine, a feeling that seemed to have been felt a long, long time ago, made me angrier and sadder with every second that flew by.

“Fine, leave me!” I yelled, as the other, the better, the much greater half of me continued to walk away from my life, step by step. “You’re a coward! You won’t even be with me because of my job! You’re a coward, Paul Reynor!”

You’re a coward…you’re a coward…you’re a coward…


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

30-Day Challenge 6: A Tribute To Glee

Question of the Day: What was your favorite toy or game to play as a child?

Day 06: Favorite Superhero and why.

If you've been following me for a while, you already know the answer to this challenge! My favorite hero is Clark Kent, otherwise known as Superman. If you'd like to read the long version of why, check out my Superman post here. The short version? I have always admired how he symbolizes justice and hope and "The American Way." I grew up watching Smallville, which is about Clark Kent during his early years before he becomes Superman. Clark is always able to look at the good sides of people and believe that everybody deserves a second chance no matter what.

Not only does he help so many people each and everyday, but he helps them with no questions asked. Although passersby see the red cape and know it's Superman who has once again saved the day, Clark Kent still receives zero credit. I think that’s a big part of what integrity is…to do these good deeds even when nobody is watching, because you know you’re doing them because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want to attract fame and attention and money. I think Superman sets a really good example of that.

Speaking of television...one of the greatest TV shows that has emerged in the last couple of years is the musical comedy, Glee. The show's popularity and number of viewers has sky-rocketed since it debuted in September 2009; plus, it has won the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy) and additional Emmy awards. From the very beginning, the show has been at the very center of pop culture and awarded full attention by today's youth. An avid Gleek myself, I'd like to point out some of the show's best songs and moments in history.

The "Duets" episode was definitely one of my favorites. "Sing!" by Tina and Michael and this "Lucky" song--featuring Sam and Quinn--were the star duets of the night. This was the second time we heard new guy Sam sing, and this song couldn't help but make me like him even more than before. I don't think I've ever met another television character couple who have as much chemistry as Sam and Quinn!

This adaptation of "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry was really well-made and well-sung in my opinion. For the first time, we got to hear the Warblers do their thing. Not only did we realize how much happier Kurt could be in this new school, but also how much of a threat this new Glee club could be to New Directions.

Wow!!! The Glee team took an old classic and turned it into a modern hip-hop tune. This is probably my favorite stage performance by New Directions...absolutely love the choreography and the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow stars in it. From the looks of this song, Glee's budget is over-the-top!

There was one episode during Season One that featured all Lady GaGa songs. I couldn't decide between "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance," but in the end this one won. I mean, look at the costumes. Totally epic.

How could I not feature New Directions' Journey medley from last year's Regionals competition? I absolutely loved this "Finchel" (Finn + Rachel) song and think Rachel's voice is beyond amazing. Even though this song was a part of the last episode in Season One, I think it provided a lot of foreshadowing about the relationship between Finn and Rachel.

So, this is like...the perfect wedding. Every time I hear this song I just want to dance to it, and every time I watch this video that's all I do--dance! This was a wonderful and touching number and I loved how it brought all the best members of the show together.

If there is one episode that had me bawling my eyes out more than once, it was the "Grilled Cheezus" episode in which Religion was the theme of the week. This song was extremely emotional, and I think Chris Colfer did a fantastic job playing Kurt and performing it [this song]. When I looked up "I Want to Hold Your Hand," I was shocked to find that the initial version of this song by The Beatles was upbeat, fast-paced, and fun.

It's really neat how you can take one song and then transform it into something very different. But Glee always does a great job of preserving the original feel and melody of every song they remix.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

30-Day Challenge 5: Giveaways Update

Question of the Day: If you could live with only television or only music...which one would you pick? Why?

Day 05: A picture of somewhere you've been to.

I have had the privilege of visiting many beautiful locations during my youth, including Germany, Japan, Spain, the U.K., and of course....China. One of my most memorable vacations, however, took place in our very own country, America. During the year of 2007, we went to Waikiki and Big Island in Hawaii. That state is one of the most gorgeous areas I have ever been to in my entire life. There were exotic plants and foods that I had never seen before. Mongooses (I confirmed with Google that mongooses is correct, as opposed to mongeese) roamed the streets as often as squirrels do in North Carolina. I hope to return there some day.

(c) The Red Angel

A couple days ago, I found a wonderful surprise waiting cozily inside my mailbox! It was....

Last Sacrifice by the amazing Richelle Mead! I received this from Frankie Diane Mallis's Last Sacrifice Giveaway. Frankie is a young adult author, belly dancer, teacher and blogger! She always seems to be doing something and is a wonderful inspiration to many people. Be sure to check out her blog.

....Aaaand the book was signed by none other than Richelle Mead herself! :D I remember being soooo excited when it was announced that I was the winner, thank you SO much, Frankie! :) As it is spring break for me now, I can't wait to start reading!!

In other blogfest news, Tessa over at Tessa's Blurb and Laura B Diamond of Diamond--Yup, Like the Stone are hosting "The Nature of Magic Blogfest" together. The idea is to write an entry between 250 and 1000 words showing the nature of magic. This takes place on March 26th, be sure to sign up and participate!
Another awesome blogfest that is taking place in March is "The Broken Hearts Blogfest" at It's in the Book. This is taking place from March 13th-15th and pretty much self-explanatory. Looking forward to reading everyone's entries!

As for me, I am planning to host my own blogfest once I reach 100 followers! :) Let's make it happen by April, shall we??


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

30-Day Challenge 4: 83rd Academy Awards Fashion Review

Question of the Day: What is one habit that you wish you didn't have?

The QOTD just so happens to be the topic of today's Blog Challenge. Just between you and me, I have a bad habit of starting books that I never finish reading. Hmm, that sounds backwards. *rearranges* I have a bad habit of never finishing books that I start to read. It's true... I am currently "reading" The March by E.L. Doctorow, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. Not to mention my Economics and Adolescents & Media textbooks! AND I also promised my good friend that I would begin Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin soon. You get the gist. Yikes...I don't think I even realized how many books are on my to-finish list until I just wrote them down!

New Goal for Spring Break: Finish the books above!!!

This past Sunday on February 27, the 83rd annual Academy Award show took place in--where else?--Hollywood, California. What I love most about award shows is that you finally get to see actors as themselves, not as characters in movies. Who knew the Love & Other Drugs star Anne Hathaway had such a remarkable voice? In case you missed the show...

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Actor: Colin Firth from The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale from The Fighter
Best Actress: Natalie Portman from Black Swan
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo from The Fighter
Visual Effects: Inception
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Cinematography: Inception
Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Director: Tom Hooper from The King's Speech
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More
Film Editing: The Social Network
Foreign Language Film: In a Better World
Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Original Song: Toy Story 3
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Social Network
Best Short Film (Live Action): God of Love
Sound Editing: Inception
Writing (Original Screenplay): The King's Speech

Major kudos to The King's Speech! However, if it had been up to me, I would totally chosen Inception (click for my movie review!). :) Congratulations to Inception for receiving four Oscars!

Here are my top picks for this year's Red Carpet beauties:

Helen Mirren from The Queen and producer Taylor Hackford

Shaun Robinson from Bruce Almighty

Singer Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman from Rabbit Hole

Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit

Halle Berry from Frankie & Alice

Click here to see last year's Academy Award show picks!

What do you think about this year's Oscar winners? Who do you think looked best on the Red Carpet?

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