Learning How to Read for Fun Again

Somewhere in my parents’ attic sits a cardboard box filled with dozens of books from the “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” series. My first-grade self stumbled across the series at my elementary school’s book fair.

This cover is absurd. Ways you can tell Karen is about to drown: 1) Where’s your oxygen tank, Karen? 2) Where’s your wetsuit, Karen? 3) What’s up with those two fish next to you that look like a bulldog’s head, Karen? 4) Where’s your scuba diving buddy, Karen? It sure ain’t that platypus/stingray hybrid creature in the background.

I LIVED for the book fair. I didn’t want to be a kid in a candy store. I wanted to be a kid in a book fair. Buy ALL the books, buy ALL the bookmarks with fuzzy animals on them, and buy ALL the pencils! Anywho, I don’t remember exactly how I realized that “Karen’s Island Adventure”  would be a good read (I do, however, remember that I learned how to spell the word “surgery”  while reading the book. For about the first half of it, I didn’t understand how Karen’s friend could possibly be having heart “sugary.” I thought the doctors were going to cover it in sugar, which made absolutely no sense. Yeah, I was dumb), but since I was like 6 years-old, there is an astronomically high probability that I just thought the cover looked pretty. That’s right, I judged a book by its cover. And guess what? It paid off, because I flew through that book in a day.

And so began my addiction to Ann M. Martin novels. I had always been a voracious reader. My mama taught me well. Bedtime stories were a must. I always checked out lots of books from the library. I borrowed “The Rainbow Fish” so many times that my parents bought me my own copy. It is now one of my most prized possessions. But I digress. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, my personal “Baby-sitter’s Little Sister” library.

I eventually graduated to the “Baby-sitter’s Club” series, but by that point, I had to check them out from the library because my “little” collection was getting rather expensive to maintain. I was so obsessed that I modeled my handwriting after the character Stacy’s handwriting (I know, I was nuts).

I began dabbling in other series, and pretty soon, I was a fixture at the local library. I loved going to the library so much that I signed up as a volunteer shelver every summer during middle school.

Surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books was like being in heaven. I was like a less cultured Rory Gilmore (“Nothing, nothing smells like that.”  “I’m sorry, did I just see you smell that book?!”). To this day, I love the smell of books. Once again, I’m nuts.

Somewhere along the line – probably the latter half of high school – I stopped reading as much. To make a long story short, I just didn’t have enough free time anymore. Plus, Facebook was invented. #loser #procrastination

By the time I reached law school, my love of reading was dead (#RIPBooks). After reading cases all day, the last thing I wanted to do was read some more. My hands were cramped from scribbling so many handwritten notes in the margins. You should see my law school textbooks from my first year. I switched up my pen colors and highlighter colors – because that was one of the few ways to make the textbook look remotely happy and fun – and the result at the end of the year was a collection of rainbow-colored papers. Yes, I am a nerd.

Torts-textbookExhibit A: making a law textbook look slightly cute by using a purple highlighter and pink pen
Continue reading

Coldplay Needs an Intervention

(c) AZM 2010

Coldplay has released two new songs over the past couple of weeks. I finally mustered up the courage to listen to them today. They are terrible.

Let me just say that I have been a Coldplay fan for at least a decade. I own physical copies of all of the band’s albums. I can happily listen to “Viva la Vida and Death and All His Friends” from start to finish. I’ve been to one of their concerts (after which I became violently ill with the flu, but it was still totally worth it). Seven of the top ten songs in my iTunes library are their songs (ranging from “Clocks” to “Life in Technicolor II”). I know that a lot of people hate the band; they think its music is boring, annoying, and/or overrated. I was obviously never one of those people. But I’m becoming one of them now.

When I heard that Coldplay had released a new song late last month, I was afraid to listen to it. The group’s track record over the past two or three years has not been good. The song they cut for last year’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack was an enormous let down. Their previous EP, “Mylo Xyloto” was easily their worst album. The only redeemable songs on it were the ones that were classic Coldplay: just Martin singing along with a guitar and piano until a steady-buildup to an epic final chorus. No bells. No whistles (literally or figuratively). The best song on that album is “Us Against the World,” and it is actually one of my favorite songs by them. Oddly enough, it would have been perfect for the “Catching Fire” soundtrack. I mean, the chorus includes the phrase “through chaos as it swirls/it’s us against the world.”

(c) 2014 AZM

Just when I thought Coldplay’s music couldn’t get any worse, it did. The band released the first single, “Midnight” off its forthcoming album, “Ghost Stories,” near the end of February. Lyrically speaking, the song has some great potential. But the band fails to deliver (also, is there even a band? I can’t even figure out what instruments are being played in the song).

“Midnight” appears to be suffering from an identity crisis. It has no idea what type of song it wants to be. Does it want to be a simple and eerie song? Does it want to be a lullaby? Does it want to be an EDM song? Does it want to be a Muse song? The answer to all of the above is YES. It tries to be all these things at once, but fails miserably. It sounds like the “ingredients” of the song were thrown in a blender and then produced by Keyboard Cat.

And then Martin’s voice is so synthesized that you can barely understand what he is saying. The song has no melody, no rhythm. It would be quickly forgettable if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s so bizarrely unintelligible that it made my ears bleed. Continue reading

There’s Something About Jennifer

JenniferLawrenceCouchQuoteWhile watching red carpet coverage of the Oscars a few years ago, I vaguely remember seeing a blonde bombshell wearing a rather simple red dress. I had no idea who she was. I figured she was some random starlet who was probably dating somebody important enough to be invited to the Oscars.

I was wrong. She was Jennifer Lawrence, she wasn’t anybody’s date, and she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for the low-budget film “Winter’s Bone.”

Fast forward a few years, and now JLaw is the girl I wish was my best friend. In fact, it seems like every girl wants to be friends with her and every guy wants to date her. Why? Because she’s relatable. Because she doesn’t fit the celebrity mold. Because she isn’t afraid to be herself.

Sure, she wears couture designer clothing, but she admits she has no idea what “couture” means. She once told Conan O’Brien that she creepily followed Full House star John Stamos around a party, but refused to speak to him because she was too scared. She told Jay Leno that she got into a car accident because she thought she saw Honey Boo Boo driving down the road.

But perhaps one Jennifer’s most laudable attributes is her willingness to challenge Hollywood’s beauty ideals. She has stated on numerous occasions that she refuses to conform to the scary skinny standards that Hollywood glorifies. 

In other words: she’s just like us! She is random, she loves food but hates exercise, and she loves nothing more than a night in with a few good friends.

Still not convinced that JLaw is your imaginary celebrity BFF? Here are some more Jennifer-isms:

  • “You know that Kate Moss quote that goes ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’? Well, I can name A LOT of things that taste better than skinny feels.” (during a red carpet interview at the 2011 Oscars)
  • “I’m totally happy to be here. I can’t wait to use my losing face!” (during a red carpet interview with TV Guide at the 2011 Oscars)
  • “I really would not call myself a fashion icon. I would call myself somebody who gets dressed by professionals. I would call me more of a monkey.” (talking about her personal style)
  • “I hate saying, ‘I like exercising.’ I want to punch people who say that in the face.” (during an interview with Glamour magazine in 2012)
  • “I go to the interviews, and I’m like a chihuahua! I’m shaking!” (during an interview with David Letterman)
  • Reporter: You’ve been rumored to be with Prince Harry for the past six months.
    Jennifer: REALLY? Oh, my God, that’s so exciting!
  • “I eat like a caveman.” (during an interview with Elle magazine in 2012)
  • “Screw those people… What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That’s just dumb…These unrealistic expectations for women – it’s disappointing that the media keeps it alive and fuels that fire. It’s something that really bothers me, because I love to eat.” (at a Q&A session during a promotional tour for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013)
  • “I wish this was like Mean Girls so I could break this award and throw it at all of you.” (during an acceptance speech at the 2013 People’s Choice Awards)