- Some of you (I hope most of you) may remember that last month's Doings post went up a little bit early, and that I proceeded to disappear for about two weeks after that. The reason? I was off in Rivendell, otherwise known as White Sulphur Springs. Like last year, I was part of the Support Staff, a group of teenage volunteers who basically help maintain the hotel and grounds. This year, my little sister came up with me, which was pretty awesome. Some other highlights and significant bits from our time up there:
- A mini-retreat at the start of our volunteer session. I might've freaked out a little, because the couple in charge of said mini-retreat referred to it as a mini-camping trip/adventure. I, fairly naturally, jumped straight to the extreme of sleeping in a tent (or possibly just under the stars), possibly in a location that we had to hike an hour to get to, probably cooking our own food over a campfire, and undoubtedly getting a maximum of four hours' sleep that night. I was, naturally, wrong- we were in cabins, maybe ten minutes' walk from the hotel, eating food catered by the hotel, and generally having a pretty good time. And while there were some girls who got only about four hours of sleep, I was not one of them- I don't think I got a full eight hours, but I got enough.
- I also got to see several of my friends from last year again, which was awesome! There was one person on Girls' Support Staff who'd been on it last year as well, two on Boys' Support Staff, and several people from both staffs who were serving in other positions.
- Plus I made quite a few new friends . . . quite a lot of whom were fellow bookworms/writers! Never in my life had I found so many people in one physical place who love the same sort of things I love, and, guys, it was SO AWESOME. There were so many book-chats over meals . . . and one of the Support Staff guys and I chatted for literally hours about our stories and characters and creating characters . . . and I got to chat about writing and books and life in general with the Fine Arts Coordinator (who is awesome, by the way), and I got a bunch of book recommendations (several of which I proceeded to devour as soon as I could get them from the library) and yeah. Much awesomeness. And one of those friends also introduced me to the game SuperFight, which is basically hilarious. I might've spent a few hours playing that too . . .
- Oh, and square dance is still awesome. Though I did end sitting out a fair bit of dancing on the second night for various reason . . . but it was ok, because sometimes not dancing can be fun, depending on who you're doing it with. If that makes sense.
- Also, the Girls' Support Staff girls and supervisors were all absolutely awesome. Just saying. If any of them are reading this: Hi! Virtual hug for you- I only wish it could be in person!
- This year was a lot busier than last year as well . . . particularly the final weekend. Oliver North was the speaker, which meant that both the new hotel (the one mostly used for conferences and such) and the old hotel (now mostly used as staff housing) were packed to the point that the speaker's own daughter was on the waiting list for a room, and in the dining hall- oh! Both Girls' and Boys' Support Staffs had to be on call for serving meals, and there was no time or space for us to eat dinner at the tables with the guests like usual. It was still good, though. And, miraculously, we got a block of a few hours on Saturday of simply free time, which helped a lot.
- I probably could've made this its own post, but . . . oh well. It's a bit late for that now, I think.
- After returning from White Sulphur Springs, we stopped at my grandpa's house for a few days, which was fun. Then we headed home for a week or so before the really big event of the month. That is . . .
- I'm at college. What even.
- We got here for orientation on the 19th, which was . . . slightly crazy, but not as bad as I feared. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and my roommate and we got there early enough that I could get all my actual registration stuff done, plus go to all the talks I wanted to and get my room mostly organized that day. My family went to a local restaurant/ice cream place for dinner, and then we said goodbye . . . at which point the realness of college finally kicked in, and I had to go to bed quite quickly afterwards so that I didn't spend an hour or two either in shock or crying or both.
- But the next day was ok. And so was the day after. And the week after. And now I've been at college for almost two weeks, and I'm doing pretty well. So that's good. I'm enjoying most of my classes- most of them are pretty awesome, one way or another. (So are my professors. Particularly my New Testament Literature professor who references things like LOTR and Narnia in class when he's trying to make a point Yep. The last few class periods, I've actually been disappointed when they ended. Though my philosophy professor is great too- very smart, slightly sarcastic, very deadpan, and a bit intimidating because he's so very good at forcing us to think and think again and yeah.)
- And I'm making quite a few new friends, I think, as well as meeting some who I'd known only online before now. (One of them is in my major, yay!)
- Oh, and my roommate is awesome too. She's a bookworm and a fantasy/sci-fi fan and very smart and incredibly sweet and pretty much just an amazing person. We get along well- we're both introverts, so we're cool with giving each other space when we need it, but we have enough common interests and opinions that we can enjoy hanging out with each other.
- Also, the food is pretty good. I'm pretty sure my college is up there near the top on the list of Colleges With the Best Food. And if it's not, it should be.
- Plus the campus is gorgeous. I haven't visited a ton of college campuses, but I, in my biased opinion, will say that mine is the prettiest.
- Basically, I'm enjoying college so far. And I'm writing all this so that in February, when it's freezing and snowing and I have a ton of homework, I can look back and say "Right. There's good things here, Sarah. Appreciate them. For five seconds before you go back to studying."
- Um. Yeah. That basically sums up life for me this month. Not that I really need more . . .
- So I'm still working on Fight Song. I've been keeping up with an average of about 150 words per day, which comes out to about 7.7K this month. Which, no, isn't a ton. But it's not bad either. And I swear that I am going to finish this novella eventually. Maybe Labor Day weekend I'll get super motivated and have a writing marathon day or something like that. Or I'll get way ahead in half my classes and so have more time for writing later. Or maybe a portal will open to Narnia and I'll go off there, have a great many adventures, and come back knowing exactly how to finish this book.
- Basically, yeah, I'm in a writing slump. Part of me wants to just go back to editing- but I also want to finish this story so I can share it because I really, really like it. In theory. It's just the actual writing that's getting me down right now.
|There is lots of it and it is glorious.|
- LOOK AT ALL THE BOOKS!
- So, yeah. I basically was trying to make up for July, when I read next to nothing. Plus I had a few 8-10-hour car trips and a week without any real responsibilities, which meant plenty of time for reading. And thus I managed to get in 20 whole books in the month of August! (Plus one week of July, which I mostly spent on The Shadow Rising. It counts.)
- So. Let's see. I usually start with highlights . . . which are really hard to pick. I've read a lot of really fun books this month, y'all. It's awesome. But it might mean that I just run through all the different books/series in some kind of non-preferential order. If that makes sense.
- The month started with finally finishing The Shadow Rising, which was definitely a highlight. The end of the book was . . . interesting, as were the revelations about the Aiel. My feelings on characters haven't changed much from what I said in July, with a few exceptions. Namely, I love Perrin and Faile, and I'm very interested to see how Perrin reacts once he realizes what he's actually done here. I think I'm slightly less annoyed with Egwene than I was in July, though I could be wrong. And I have been informed that she becomes pretty awesome in future books, so we'll see how that goes. And I rather do not like Aviendhra- while I suppose I might sulk if I were in her position, I don't think I'd do it quite so much- and I also predict that she and Rand will end up married. Which, as I mostly ship Rand with Elayne, poses a bit of a problem. Oh well.
- After finishing The Shadow Rising, I was ready for a long, long break from heavy fantasy, so I started in on the Fablehaven series, which was enthusiastically recommended and (in the case of the first two books) lent to me by a friend at WSS. I very much enjoyed the series- it wasn't amazing, but it was solid and had some pretty good storylines and characters. It also got surprisingly dark in bits . . . but it wasn't a bad type of dark, I don't think. I enjoyed the Beyonders series, another series by the same author that I read later in the month, much more; while the basic concept was slightly less unique than that of Fablehaven, I liked the characters and storyline more.
- Another series recommended to me by a WSS friend was the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the first of which was Dealing With Dragons. It's a sort of fairy-tale-parody series, though I'm not sure if "parody" is the right word- it's not so much that it retells fairy tales as it takes place in a world where the fairy tales are the normal and accepted thing and basically determine how the world works. On the whole, it's a highly amusing series, and if some things occasionally seem to work out a bit conveniently, well, fairy tales tend to be that way. The first two books in the series were my favorites, but the second two aren't bad either.
- Finally, a smattering of miscellaneous books: The Girl From Everywhere was delightful and time-travel-y and mysterious and I wouldn't mind sailing with Nyx and the crew for a while if that's all right? Enchanted Glass is a Diana Wynne Jones book which I've been meaning to read for a while, happened to see in the college library (there's an awesome section of classics, Middle Grade, and Young Adult fiction on the lower level; it's one of my favorite places on campus), and thought sounded like a good way to spend the second-to-last afternoon before classes started- and, happily, I was right. And, on the topic of books I happened to see in the college library: I also reread the second and third books in the Wilderking Trilogy, as well as the first two books in the Fairyland series- that's the series starting with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It was slightly weird, rather Lewis-Carroll-ish, but on the whole a decent read. (The second book isn't pictured above, for the record, because I only read about half of it in August- the rest I read this morning while I was on the exercise bike.)
- Not pictured above is the book I'm currently reading for Western Literature: The Odyssey, which has been much more enjoyable and easier to get through than I expected. If I didn't have to answer questions about it every third section (not to mention do other schoolwork), I probably would have just read it straight through by now. If anyone's interested in reading a bit of Greek mythology, I definitely recommend it. (Do get the Robert Fitzgerald translation, though. I can't speak for any of the others.)
- Yeah. So. This is going to be a thing now. My roommate is much more into TV and movies than I am- which is to say, she's spent more time watching them than I have. And, conveniently, we have fairly similar tastes in movies. So, yeah, movie/TV nights are hopefully going to be a regular thing when we're not too busy.
- All this to say: if you can't guess from the image up top, I watched the first episode of Firefly, which is sort of a space-western thing! It's sort of odd and I don't quite have a good feel for the world yet, or how the characters got from where they are when the episode started (apparently in the middle of a battle for . . . somewhere? some planet? which didn't work out so well) to where they spent most of the episode (six years later, in space, smugglers, though I don't think they exactly want to be). But I like the characters and I like the plot and I'm not so confused that I can't keep up, and I hope that my roomie and I can find time to watch the next episode sometime soon.
- Then we had another movie night Sunday and watched GalaxyQuest, which is sort of a Star Trek-spoof thing . . . with a surprisingly good plot once you get through the painfully embarrassing beginning and the rather campy everything. Essentially, it's about six actors who played characters in a Star Trek-type show years ago . . . but somehow this show got discovered by aliens across the galaxy who assumed it was real. And so when the aliens find themselves in a mess, they go looking for the actors, thinking they're heroes . . . you can probably guess the rest, but the basic plotline is of a type that makes me very happy.
- Obviously, now that school's started up, my life pretty much revolves around that. I expect that the amount of work will be increasing as the months go on, but I'm hoping to use Labor Day weekend to get a bit ahead in my work for some of the classes. (Since that'll mean reading a great deal of The Odyssey, as well as a historical fiction novel about the early church, I'm rather looking forward to that.) One nice thing about my schedule (that I didn't expect to be as nice as it is): I don't have any early classes, though a lot of my friends do. That means that I can often get a lot done before classes and then I'm mostly free in the evenings. (It also means that I don't have to lug more than the absolute minimum of textbooks across campus- very useful.) There are exceptions, yes, but I can almost always get the tiresome stuff out of the way early.
- And I still want to finish Fight Song. Somehow. I keep thinking that "Oh, there's just one or two scenes more before the climax," but no, there's more like three or four or five. But it needs to be done by November and that's that.
- And there will hopefully be a fair bit of reading-for-fun; since I try to get to classes early, I generally have five or ten minutes there where I don't have enough time to work on schoolwork but I do have time for a chapter or two. I'm going to finish the Fairyland series, and hopefully reread Reapers so I can finally get to Beyond the Gateway, and I keep telling my roommate that I'm going to read the Shatter Me series . . . Yeah. I won't be lacking reading material, despite having left most of my personal library at home.
- And I'm trying to find a church in the area, which is an interesting process. I know where I'm going this Sunday, more or less, but the Sunday after- no idea. (If you know where I am and have a suggestion of a good church, please leave it in the comments!)
How was your August? What are your plans for September? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)