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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pretty Frickin' Awesome.



via Geek in Heels from Harry Potter Facts

Listen, I don't see my Harry Potter obsession waning anytime soon.  So.  In the immortal words of Phil and Lem from the awesome and underrated (and cancelled) show "Better Off Ted,"

Deal with it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pretty Dorky

Okay guys.  It's time for the dorky, geeky Jessica to come out.  "What do you mean COME OUT? Like she hasn't been here all along?"

Very funny, guys, very funny.

But I have something serious to talk to you about today.  It affects only awesome, dorky, slightly embarrassed people like myself.  It's called Fan Fiction.

Ohhhh yeah.  We're going there.  I'm trying to not blush as I write this.  I have a little shame.

But I have to say... I'm seriously addicted to Harry Potter Fan Fiction.  Some of it is terrible, but some of it is AWESOME.  And not just a little bit awesome, but MEGA AWESOME.  We are talking hundreds of pages of awesomeness.

For those that like Harry Potter... stop crying over the end of the series.  Maybe you didn't love the epilogue to Deathly Hallows.  Maybe you, too, think Ron was sort of a git, and wouldn't have held Hermione's attention forever, especially since he's a bit fickle.  Maybe you think that Draco's character could have been redeemed, or at least been more developed.  Maybe those last two opinions are totally mine ::nods head::

Maybe you've stopped reading by now.  WHATEVER I DON'T NEED YOU. (Yes I do).

To the rest of you... let me introduce you to FanFiction.net.

::Cue angels singing::

On FanFiction.net you can read fan fiction (which is fiction written by fans, for those of you who are a Sickle short of a Galleon) based on many many books, tv shows, and movies.  And anime, but I'm not that sort of dorky.  Sowry.

You should know some things before you just go and read, however.  First of all, to find Harry Potter fan fic, you to go the BOOKS section and select HARRY POTTER.  Good, you've narrowed it down to almost a half million fics.  Let's proceed.

Next, we sort.

fanfiction.net
First, I like to go to "Status" and select "Complete."  Why?  Because when I read something that's not completed I get way frustrated waiting for the writer to finish.  Which is what I'm doing right now, because I started two fics that weren't complete.  I don't love that.  Next, select "Language."  I choose "English" because I'm a stupid American/Canadian that can't speak anything but English and really crappy amounts of Spanish.  Ta-da!

Next, I go to "Genre."  Here you can go wiiiiiiiiild!  I usually pick "Romance" or "Adventure."  I'm not sure who is dying to read Harry Potter Western fan fic, but to each their own ::cough::weirdo::cough::

Next, pick your rating. You can pick K (equivalent to "G" movies), K+ (like "PG"), T (like "PG-13") or M (M, "R" or sometimes higher.  Will often have sex and/or violence).

If you have a specific character(s) that you'd like as the main character in the story, you can select that as well.

Click "Go" and you'll see the stories that fit your criteria.  If you look under the title, you'll see a summary, as well as some other info.

fanfiction.net
You can see this fic is a Harry Potter fic rated "T" that is in English. The genre is Angst/Romance.  It has 26 chapters, and 90,546 words.  It has had 1,525 reviews, and was completed this February.  It stars Hermione and Draco.

I usually pick fics that have a good amount of reviews, at least 500, usually.  There are some TERRIBLE writers on this site, but there are a lot of goods ones as well.

Once you pick a fic, you can go to the bottom and change the background to black and the type to white, which I find easier on the eyes.  You can also read reviews, but they often give away crucial elements to the fic, so I try not to read them until I'm done.

There are definitely some important terms that are helpful to check out before you pick out a fic.  This is especially important if you want fic that follows all of the Harry Potter books, or you are offended by certain pairings of characters.  For example, here are some terms:

AU - Alternate Universe. This means that the fic will deviate from the story line found in the actual Harry Potter books.  For instance, Dumbledore may be alive after Half-Blood Prince, or Harry may not be an orphan, etc.

Darkfic - focuses on darker themes.  For instance, there may be torture, murder, etc., or a "good" character may turn "bad."

EWE - Epilogue?  What Epilogue?  Doesn't follow the Epilogue to Deathly Hallows - everyone doesn't end up married with kids, or they might, but not to the people in the book.

Fluff - kind of obvious.  The story is sweet and fluffy and usually romance-based.

OC - Original Character.  The author has made up a new character not found in the books.

OOC - Out of Character.  A character will act differently than portrayed in the book.  Hermione may be foolish about some things, Harry may be cruel, etc.

Slash - Same-sex romantic pairings.

WIP - Work in Progress.

You'll also see PS/SS, CS, PA, GF, OTP, HBP, DH, which correspond to the book titles (Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone, etc).

The awesomesauce thing I found out earlier this week?

You can download Fan Fics to your Kindle!! (did you hear that Stacey?? KEEP READING).

You can use the Fanfiction Downloader to get files to your computer or Kindle.  You'll need to log into your Google account, find a fic you want, copy the first page's URL, and paste it into the Downloader.  Select Mobi (Kindle), and them click download.  It will take a few minutes, and then you can download the file, then copy it to your Kindle.  Ta-da!!!!

I HIGHLY recommend the fic, "What the Room Requires" by Alydia Rackham.  It was really well written, and keep my attention and was very entertaining.  Seriously.  Read it.  It's awesome.

Anyways.  I think I'm doing with my Fan Fic love post.  I don't care if you think I'm the dorkiest, geekiest, nerdiest girl ever.  I love Harry Potter fan fic, and I'm not (okay, only slightly) ashamed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pretty Tattoo

I'm not a tattoo girl, but if I was, I would love something like this:

love at first blush
It's feminine, pretty, and just emo enough to appeal to my high school self. I love how it follows her body's lines as well.  Just lovely.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worship

Bryan and I grew up in different Christian faith backgrounds.  He grew up LDS (Latter-Day Saint, or Mormon) and I grew up quasi-Baptist.  Since we've been married, we've visited and attended a number of different churches. In Humboldt County, California, we attended Catalyst, a church in the Emergent strain of theology (you can listen to their message podcasts - they're awesome, very intellectually stimulating).  When we moved here to Jackson Hole, we really struggled to find a faith community that we fit into.  Most of our friends here were either LDS or agnostic, and when we visited a few churches, we just didn't feel that sense of belonging.  I'm not sure I'll ever find a church that makes me go "Yes, this is entirely perfect and I believe everything they're saying and I agree with everything they do."  The church is a body of believers, and since no one is perfect, no church is perfect.  However, the church we go to now is one that we both like, and 90% of the time, we agree with what is being taught.

The interesting thing about our agreement... I think it comes more from the fact that often the things that are taught from the pulpit are not very controversial.  It's an Episcopal church, and it's very "we love you, you're welcome here, come worship with us."  The messages are often straight out of the Bible, and then the Scripture is extrapolated on.  When we attended Catalyst, we often felt very challenged in our beliefs.  I remember Bryan and I driving back from church when we lived one town over; it was about 20 minutes away from our apartment.  After service, one of us would invariably turn to the other and say, "So what did you think about ______?"  We had really awesome discussions and I think it made us both think a lot.  Even very basic things come a lot less basic when you pull them apart and really question them.  I enjoyed the dialogue, the conversation, and the questioning.

I don't really experience that in the church that I attend now.  We do meet for a Bible Study every so often on Tuesdays... it's supposed to be every Tuesday, but with everyone's summer schedules, and it being a small group, that doesn't always work out.  During this time, however, we get to delve into ideas or certain Scripture readings and really tear things apart.  And I really do like it quite a lot.

One thing that the church we attend now has that is different than any other church I have attended is a liturgy.  What is a liturgy you ask?  According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge... after all "anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information" - Michael Scott, 'The Office'), liturgy is a "set form of ceremony or pattern of worship."  It often includes the Lord's Prayer, readings from the New and Old Testament, and Communion/Eucharist/Sacrament.  And some of it is old school, at least compared to the services I am used to from my experiences.

Even though this church is vastly different from others we've attended together, we do enjoy it.  When I was younger, I attended a slightly-creepy, sorta-cultish now that I look back at it, youth church.  The worship was VERY VERY LOUD, with a full band and boys who wore girl jeans and occasionally eyeliner.  Worship practically REQUIRED that you lift up your hands when you sing, and if you could cry, even better.  It was definitely more of a charismatic service.  While I enjoyed it at the time, I don't think I'd go to a church like that again; I enjoyed the music, but there were other things about it that left me unsettled.

At Catalyst, we had a few different music teams that led worship.  One was a bluegrass band; suffice it to say, Bryan and I LOVED them, especially singing old hymns in a bluegrass style.  Ridiculously awesome.  Sometimes it was a full band and the music was louder.  And sometimes it was one guy with a guitar and one guy on a drum.  There was a nice mix of hymns, current mainstream worship music, and original songs.  I liked it, and when we left Catalyst, I hoped for something similar.

However, we didn't get that at any of the churches out here.  And more and more I realize that worship isn't about music, or a certain style.  It's about giving God respect and honor and showing our love.  And it can be done in lots of different ways.  This was an idea that was impressed on us very often at Catalyst, but being away from that church, and not able to have that kind of music at all, made me realize the truth to it.

And so I've found that I can enjoy things I'm not used to; I can engage in different forms of collective worship and enjoy them just as much as the full band or bluegrass.

So here in a responsive prayer that we shared on Sunday at the service in Moose, Wyoming, at the Chapel of the Transfiguration.

Wild Nature Images
Seriously.  Is that not the coolest little log cabin church you've ever seen?  This is the view of the Tetons from the inside:

source
The congregation reads the bold-faced type:

Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your radiant love.  Come, Father of the poor; come, generous Spirit; come, Light of our hearts.  Perfect Comforter, you make peace to dwell in our soul: Come Holy Spirit.
Wonderful refreshment, in our labor you offer rest; in our trials, strength: Come, Holy Spirit.
Kindly Light, enter the inmost depth of our hearts: Come, Holy Spirit.
Bend our rigidity, inflame our apathy: Come, Holy Spirit.
Send rain upon our dry ground, heal our wounded souls: Come, Holy Spirit.
Give us lasting joy: Come Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your radiant love.
For many, this form of worship may be business as usual, or what you grew up with; we did have some responsive reading in the church I grew up in.  For some reason, it seems to actually impact me now.

And at service this weekend, the special music was a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" complete with some original verses that aren't in Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright's versions.  It was lovely.

Even though I've been to many churches in many denominations, I find that the spirit behind the worship is the same in most churches.  Although I never plan to join one denomination over another, I do find the differences and similarities beautiful.  So, lovely readers, do you belong to a religion or denomination? What do you like about it?  What would you share with those interested, if you could?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grrrrr, Meow

So I went to Chicago a couple of weeks back for my friend Monica's wedding (and to see family and friends, of course). When I was packing for the wedding, I realized that I didn't really have any appropriate dresses to wear to the wedding. I have several dresses that either 1. no longer fit or 2. no longer are appropriate. Since I've put on ::coughcough:: 15 pounds ::coughcough:: since I got married, I've gotten bigger in the hips, and I've gone up almost 2 cup sizes. Some things that used to... contain the girls quite nicely now look positively INDECENT. NO ONE NEEDS TO SEE WHAT I'VE GOT GOING ON. It's just not working for me.

So I went shopping with my fabulous SIL Amanda and my mom. It was really fun, and I was SO thankful to have those ladies there giving me advice! I had a good idea of what I wanted - something in the vein of a sheath dress. Classic, classy, and sophisticated. And I love Calvin Klein's tailoring.

I found this gorgeous navy blue sheath dress at Dressbarn, complete with pearls at the neckline... it was VERY Jackie O. with a bit of Audrey Hepburn. Which pretty much equals AMAZING in my book. What can I say, those ladies were darn classy.

Alas, it was NOT in my size. I needed one size up in order to... you know, sit and breathe at the same time.

So onward and upward. We went to Carson Pierre Scott, which usually has some good finds. I am not kidding when I tell you that I tried on at least 3 dozen dresses... maybe 4. And the dressing rooms were apparently not air conditioned. It was disgusting.

BUT, at the end I had two really cute dresses! And Amanda picked out BOTH dresses. I don't have any pictures of them on me at the moment, but I do plan on wearing the HECK out of them, so hopefully I will have some soon. And I think that either my dad or my friend Kathy has pictures of the wedding reception.

I can't find a picture of the dress I wore to the bachelorette party, but here is the dress I got for the wedding:

Overstock.com
It's animal print!!  I don't think I've EVER worn animal print before, but I friggin' loved it.  The cut was classy and sophisticated, and so it didn't get anywhere near slaggy, like some animal print does.  I LOVE this dress and felt awesome in it.  But now... now I want more animal print.

Not a lot.  Maybe a scarf.  And some flats.  It's so fun to incorporate just a LITTLE bit into an outfit.  So here are the flats I'm considering:

amazon.com
They would look SO cute with a black sweater and dark jeans.

And this scarf:

amazon.com
It's a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I sort of like it....

It's a little Grrrrr.  A little meow. 

Any other closeted animal print fans out there??

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Littlest Warbler

Have I posted this?  I don't care.  I love Glee, and this kid makes me SO HAPPY.  Okay, the song is way inappropriate for a child to be singing, but he is the CUTEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN.  I like to watch it whenever I'm bored, tired, sad, or... yeah.  Bored.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Social Work?

Today I talked to a couple people about Social Work; most specifically, how I have a degree in Social Work that I do not use.  I was asked if I was going to go back for my masters.  While I have planned on going back for an MSW, my initial reaction at the moment is "No."

That doesn't mean I won't go back to school ever.  But I don't think I'm going to get my masters in Social Work.  I'm just not sure that my heart is really in it anymore.  It seems like most jobs that require an MSW also require at least 5 years of experience.  I have 2 years experience working a Behavioral Aide to a kid with Autism, but that's about it.  I've been the supervisor of a Teen Clinic, working with sexual health... which SORT of is in the Social Work field... sort of.

But when we get down to it, Social Workers make VERY LITTLE money.  The SW jobs I looked at in California, the ones that I could do without getting a MSW, made HALF as much as I make now.  Half.  Which is ridiculous.

I just don't think I can go back to school, even if it's a YEAR program (I could do advanced standing in some schools because I have a BSW).  It would be more student loan debt (between Bryan and I, we have over $40,000 already) and it would be a year off work (the advanced standing program is pretty rigorous, from what I hear, and requires a lot of practicum and internships).  And most jobs that require an MSW only make $5,000-$10,000 more a year, from what I've seen, at least.  That may sound like a lot, but when I'm already making a fairly decent wage as a medical receptionist.... well let's just say that making $2 more a hour than I make now doesn't seem worth a year of college and not working. 

I have considered going back to get my RN or Masters in Public Health once our kids are in school.  I like working in the medical field.  It's interesting.  Being a nurse would be much more hands on, which I like in some ways, and don't like in others.  A Masters in Public Health would open me up to administrative positions, which would be really cool.  Bryan has told me over and over again that I'd make a good Office Manager or would do well working in a hospital in an administrative capacity.  So that's an idea.

Really though, I still have NO idea what I really want out of my career, or if I really want a career at all.  Would I be happy just working jobs I don't so much care about, but that pay the bills?  I plan on working when we have kids, at least 2 days a week.  Am I okay doing something that doesn't fulfill me, and finding my fulfillment elsewhere?  That's what I do now, and although my job is boring at times, it's not terrible by any means. 

Bryan and I always talk about how we're going to get rich.  In reality, we don't really care about being RICH, we just want to have enough cash to not worry a ton about cash.  We're doing much better now than we ever had, which is awesome.  But we also talk about what the next big thing is - what should we invest in?  What would be a good business strategy?  What if we went the entrepreneurial route?  Bryan has talked more recently about investment rental properties, which is something my grandfather was involved in.  I have no idea what we'll end up doing.  Bry has no idea what he really wants to do.  Does he want to work in a different bank (I don't think he's interested in Wells long term)?  Does he still have any interest at working at a hospital?  He's considered so many things.  And still, we have no ideas.

I get jealous sometimes of those people who always knew what they wanted to do.  My childhood best friend, Alaina, always knew she wanted to be a teacher.  And from what I hear, she's GREAT at her job.  She's passionate about math, and about teaching.  I am not really built like that.  I tend to be passionate about the things I'm currently involved in; when I worked with my little friend with Autism, I was PASSIONATE about Autism research and prevention.  When I worked at the Teen Clinic, I was PASSIONATE about sexual health and education.  I still really care about those things, but I'm not so totally captivated with them like I used to be. 

So all this is to say, I don't really know what's going on in my life, or in my future.  But at the moment, I don't think I'm going to go back for my Masters in Social Work. 

Is there a job in reading Harry Potter fanfiction?  Or searching for free Kindle books?  Because I'm, like, SUPER good at that.