Monthly Wrap-Up

MAY 2019 | Wrap-Up

What’s this?! My first monthly wrap-up of 2019?!?! I know it’s been a while, but I’m so happy to say that I’m back! May has certainly been a time…

In May I read a total of 4 books:

  1. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  2. Food by Gertrude Stein
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers

My favorite book this month was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I watched the movie over spring break with some friends and loved it, and I think that positive memory definitely shaped this reading experience too. I’m excited to read the rest of the series at some point this summer! Review coming soon.

+ TO WATCH: The only thing I actually watched this month was the new Avengers: Endgame, and let me tell you: what a RIDE. I cried basically throughout the entire thing, especially at the end. (If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean!) It’s strange to think that this means goodbye to some of the characters I’ve grown up with, but there’s also an exciting silver lining: new characters! New stories! An ever-evolving and changing franchise! Definitely recommend watching it if you’re a Marvel fan.

+ TO LISTEN TO: In light of some things that happened recently in my personal life, I’ve opted not to listen to music on my commute back and forth to work every day (can’t get too emotional with those memories…). Instead, I’ve been listening to audiobooks, which has been really nice. Not only do I get a lot of reading done, but it also makes the ride go by a lot quicker.

+ TO EAT: Recently I made lemon and ginger cookies and they are so good. I used this recipe and they were super easy to bake. Will definitely be making these again soon!

+ TO GO: For the last time as a student, I’m going to have to say Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. I’ve made such incredible friends there and have so many amazing memories of this tiny campus.

May was a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs for me. I successfully defended my honors thesis, graduated from Wheaton College with a BA in English, and said goodbye (or “see you later!” as I like to think of it!) to so many of my close friends. I’ve also recently went through some pretty $#!tty stuff in my personal life, which is not fun. But thanks to the help of my family and friends (and my love for books!) I’m getting through slowly but surely. So in lieu of me going into any details, please enjoy these photos of my month of May!

Am I wearing an outfit made of drafts of my thesis? Why, yes I am!
Me and my finished thesis!
After Holi on the last days of classes…. very wet, but very colorful!
The roses they gave us to hold during graduation.
I graduated!

 Here are some posts from other bloggers that I’ve loved this month: 

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your month of May? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Monthly Wrap-Up

SEPTEMBER 2018 | Wrap-Up

September has come and gone faster than I thought possible, especially considering how much has happened in the past month. It’s hard to believe that we’re already five weeks into the semester! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

In September I read a total of 8 books:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  2. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  3. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  4. Without a Name by Yvonne Vera
  5. Under the Tongue by Yvonne Vera
  6. The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera
  7. Narrative Form by Suzanne Keen
  8. The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

As you can tell, I’ve read a lot of Yvonne Vera’s writing in the past month. I’m currently in the process of researching for my honors thesis, which involves reading a majority of what Vera has written and learning more about Zimbabwean literary traditions and narrative form. (Let me know if this is something you would be interested hearing more about!)

It’s difficult to choose a favorite book this month because I genuinely loved everything I read by Vera, although much of it was painfully sad and unsettling. However, I’m going to have to go with Butterfly Burning as my favorite book of September. Not only is it the first book by Vera that I ever read (making this a reread for me), but it is also provides one of the most striking, moving, thought-provoking reading experiences. Would absolutely recommend!

+ MOVIE: Moving back to Wheaton means hopping aboard the Film Club train again! One of my best friends is the president of our Film Club this year, which makes attending meetings even more fun. A few weeks ago we watched Loving Vincent (2017), the first fully painted feature film ever created. This film is breathtaking. The painting technique is absolutely incredible and the story is heart-wrenching. If you ever get the opportunity to see this film, please do. 

+ MUSIC: Dodie recently released a new song called “Human” from her upcoming album and it is so lovely. The music video literally made my jaw drop–it makes you think about the song in an entirely different way!

+ FOOD: Chex mix has been sustaining me these past few weeks–always a go-to snack!

+ PLACE: I fell in love with my suite this month. I absolutely love living with three of my closest friends and I can’t imagine spending senior year any other way.

September was a month of many transitory ups and downs. Adjusting back to Wheaton has been difficult after a year away, both in terms of academics and missing Oxford dearly. Fortunately, I have a group of amazing friends and people who are always willing to listen and help when I need some cheering up. It also helps that senior year is filled with plenty of exciting events (amidst the mountains of work, of course). I’m grateful that I’ve found time to make fun, hilarious memories in between classes, working on my honors thesis, and apply to law schools.

Wheaton’s nondenominational chapel, home to a cappella performances and drag shows.

 

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to see Chris Fleming perform life at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, which was amazing. I’ve been a fan of his Gayle videos for years, so seeing him in person was surreal. If you’ve never seen his comedy before, then you should definitely check it out!

 Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your month of September? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

AUGUST 2018 | Wrap-Up

What a month August was! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like August is a month of transition. Perhaps this feeling has been instilled in me from decades of back-to-school prep, but it nevertheless rings true every year. Here’s what I’ve been up to this past month:

In August I read a total of 3 books:

  1. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
  3. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions definitely wins the Favorite Book of the Month award from me in August. This text is incredibly empowering and thought-provoking and I would highly recommend it!

I wasn’t able to read much this month, but I’m still happy with what I did manage to read considering all that I was busy with otherwise. Hopefully I can squeak in some extra reading besides what’s required of me during this semester.

+ MOVIE: I actually didn’t watch any movies in the month of August. *gasp!* I was so busy trying to wrap everything up at home before moving back to campus for the start of the semester that my movie list went unwatched. However, I did listen to several great podcasts, including one of my new favorites: S-Town. Would highly recommend!

+ MUSIC: Lately I’ve been listening to Brockhampton, which has been an interesting time. The playlist I listened to on my commute during my last week of summer was a mix of rap and Disney songs, which pretty much sums up what a transition point in the year I’m in.

+ FOOD: Definitely burritos from the local place near my home in New Hampshire. I always make sure to go there a few times each summer before I have to leave for school.

+ PLACE: Ah, isn’t this the ultimate question this month? Moving back to Wheaton after an entire year away has been a strange and lovely experience, and I’m happy to say that the suite I now share with my friends has quickly become a favorite place this month.

What a month! August encompassed the last couple weeks of my summer as well as my move back to Wheaton after an entire year of being away. It’s been strange and overwhelming to be back in such a familiar place where I don’t know most of the students anymore, since most of the people I was close to outside of my class year have graduated. So many aspects of Wheaton are the same, yet many are so different that it makes me feel like a freshman again in some instances. At first I was taken aback, but fortunately I adjusted fairly quickly with the help of friends. The mountains of work have already begun to pile up, so there hasn’t been much time to wallow.

Mary Lyon Hall at Wheaton College, MA.

Also, can we just take a second to talk about how I’m a senior. I still can’t believe that this is my last year at Wheaton. Where has the time gone? It feels even shorter since I studied abroad, as though there should somehow be an extra year to make up for the one I didn’t experience here. However, part of me does feel ready to complete this year and take on a new path. I have a feeling that this year will be filled with the unexpected!

 Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

How was your month of August? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Discussion

Looking Back on 2017

For the past few years I’ve made one of these posts reflecting on the concluding year. After reading what I wrote at the end of 2015 and 2016, it hit me just how much has happened in 2017.

I got accepted to study abroad for an academic year at Oxford University. My friends and I went to NerdCon in Boston on that same weekend, where I saw John and Hank Green speak and actually had a conversation with Watsky (honestly, amazing weekend). I wrote and performed my own monologue in the annual Wheaton Words production at my college. I visited the Met in New York City for the first time. I visited Willa Cather’s grave in Jeffrey, New Hampshire and took some very rainy photos (thanks, mom!). I watched my brother graduate from high school and start college in the fall. I said far too many goodbyes in September before traveling outside of the United States for the first time to begin my first term at Mansfield College in England. I visited so many incredible places, met even more incredible friends, and did things I never thought I would do (join my college’s soccer team at Oxford!). I ate in a chapel every day that was fit to be the Great Hall at Hogwarts, wore a gowns (short wizard capes) to formal dinners, and danced for hours at bops. I spent hours and hours in libraries and lecture halls studying my favorite subject in the world. I turned 21. I flew on a plane by myself for the first time. I said goodbyes to new friends and hello to so many old ones. I marveled at how much I did that I never, ever expected to achieve.

As always, I am grateful to everyone who made 2017 one of my best years yet despite the tumultuous world we live in. {And thank YOU for sticking with this little blog of mine!} Happy New Year!!

How was 2017 for you? Highlights? Things you’re looking forward to in 2018? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

APRIL 2017 | Wrap-Up

April is one of those months where you never really know quite what to expect. This is especially true in New England, when the weather can be freezing and rainy one day and gloriously sunny the next. Though we definitely had our share of ups and downs weather-wise this month, life has been steadily looking up! Here’s what I was up to in April:

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In April I read a total of 4 books.

  1. The Cambridge Companion to Frederick Douglass edited by Maurice S. Lee
  2. On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
  3. Newsies: Stories of the Unlikely Broadway Hit edited by Ken Cerniglia
  4. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

I read some great books in April (courtesy of one of my dear friends who loans me fantastic books), which makes choosing a favorite one difficult. However, the one that I’ve been thinking about the most recently is Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Interestingly enough, I bought a copy of this book when I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City last month without even realizing that Wilder, the mind behind Our Town, is the author. (Clearly, this was an impulse purchase if I’ve ever made one.) Its rather short length is certainly not indicative of the depth and resonance it possesses, making it a sort of TARDIS in a sense. (Doctor Who, anyone?) At any rate, if you have not yet read this book or Our Town by Thornton Wilder, I highly recommend them!

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In many ways, the month of April on a college campus feels like a whirlwind of contradictions. Apart from the aforementioned unpredictable weather, there are also lulls and spikes in coursework, feelings of excitement and exhaustion, and the desire to be in far more places doing far more things than humanly possible. It’s hard to balance doing coursework and focusing on wrapping things up for the semester in the midst of Easter and Spring Weekend festivities, yet that’s the sort of balancing act that April requires. Overall, April was certainly a month to remember!

I briefly want to mention the fact that I watched the original Star Wars for the first time this month, because I feel like that’s a pretty landmark event, at least for me. Up until this point I’ve been wading through life lost in a sea of Star Wars references I only vaguely understood, but now everything makes SO MUCH SENSE. And Yoda is so cute and funny! And I can relate to C-3PO so much! And Princess Leia is such a fantastic female heroine!! And THE MUSIC!!

Finals week is now fast approaching, which means I am currently up to my ears in papers, papers, a few exams, and more papers. Though I desperately want the work to be done and over with, the prospect of leaving all of my friends behind when I move back home for the summer has painted everything with a bittersweet hue recently. I have two weeks left on this campus before embarking on the four-month stretch of summer (I know, we have a long summer break!). I’m really excited for the fun adventures that I’m hoping to have this summer, but in an ideal world those adventures would take place with my Wheaton friends alongside me. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling pretty conflicted lately!

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Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

How was your month of April? What was the best book you read? Have you ever had a month where you read nothing? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

AUGUST 2016 | Wrap-Up

JUNE 2016-3

I’ve always considered August to be one of my favorite months. Not only does it bring a new school year and a promise of the coming autumn, but it also allows you to enjoy the last few weeks of summer without baking in July’s toasty heat. This August was no exception, from both a reading and personal standpoint.
June

7597In August I read a total of 9 books:

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
  6. The Mulligan Guard Ball by Edward Harrigan
  7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  8. Light in August by William Faulkner
  9. A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland

10974Choosing a favorite book this month is a challenge because I read quite a few 5-star books, but I suppose that’s a good problem to have! I think it’s a tie between One Hundred Years of Solitude and As I Lay Dying. Both are brilliant in different ways, so it’s difficult for me to distinctly favor one over the other.

Reviews of these works will be posted in the near future, so stay tuned!

June (1)

The majority of my August was spent preparing for college and tying up lose ends before move-in day. As always, there are many “lasts”: the last time soaking up the summer sun, the last time eating at your favorite local restaurant, the last time sleeping in your own bedroom, the last time seeing friends and family until the next break in several months. These lasts are bittersweet, for they are inevitably accompanied by numerous “firsts”: first time seeing old friends since the end of last semester, first time sleeping in a new dorm room, first night away from home in a while. It’s all new and different but still familiar in some way, reaffirming my belief that August is the most nostalgic month.

This month I completed my internship at a local Child Advocacy Center, an eye-opening experience for which I am incredibly grateful. The purpose of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) is to provide a neutral, safe, comfortable environment in which to conduct forensic interviews of children who are alleged victims of abuse. Throughout my time working at the CAC I observed several of these interviews, and each time I couldn’t help but be heartbroken by how traumatic and awful their experiences were. It really puts things in perspective.

On a lighter note, I also got new glasses! My prescription changed and my other glasses were several years old, so it was finally time to purchase new ones. I’ve always wanted bolder glasses like these. I love them so much! ❤

As you read this I have already moved back to campus and have settled into my new dorm room for my first semester of sophomore year. It feels strange and exciting and nerve-racking to be back after nearly four months of glorious summer break, but I can’t wait to get the ball rolling at Wheaton again. Bring on the new adventures!

June (2)

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here’s the thing: because school is now in session, I basically have negative time for blogging. I’ve scheduled posts like a fiend this summer, and I was actually able to schedule posts in advance for all of September and even much of October. However, this means that I won’t be as active reading and commenting on all of your lovely posts and it may take me a while to respond to any comments that you leave on mind. But don’t worry– I still read and greatly appreciate each and every one of them!! ❤

How was your August? What books did you read? What fun things did you do? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

College

Sophomore Status Achieved | College

SO LONG, SUMMER!-3

It’s official: I’m now a sophomore in college!

As you read this, I am moving into my new dorm room and bracing myself for my first semester of sophomore year to begin. Currently I’m an English major (and potential Hispanic Studies double major) at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. 

The thought of starting a new year and semester of college is both incredibly exciting at a bit nerve-racking. Leaving freshman year behind means that I will have more independence, opportunities, and responsibilities than ever before. It’s all a little daunting, to say the least!

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Nevertheless, I’m ecstatic to be able to see my college friends again and get back into a routine of classes, clubs, and countless campus events. I love steady routines and schedules, so this aspect of college is actually really comforting to me.

As per usual I’m taking four classes this semester, which are:

  • Evolution of English
  • Contemporary Women Writers {Spanish}
  • Modern Spanish America {History}
  • Introductory Physics {to fulfill my science requirement}

I’m definitely the most nervous about the physics class because science isn’t really my forte. However, I’m looking forward to the Spanish literature class because we’ll be reading several interesting novels over the course of the semester. Hopefully everything goes well!

It’s so strange to think that this new school year is finally here. my first year of college certainly had its ups and downs, but all in all I couldn’t have asked for a better freshman year at Wheaton. I can’t wait to see what exciting adventures this year will bring!

Wish me luck!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rambles

My First Year of College Is.. Over?!?!

My First Year of College Is... Over?!?!Why yes, it’s really me– I’m back!! Yesterday I moved out of my college dorm for summer vacation and it’s a strange, wonderful, and bittersweet feeling. Although I vividly remember August orientation like it was just the other weekend (so. many. icebreakers.) it also seems like I’ve been waiting an eternity for the end of second semester to finally arrive. These past few weeks have been insanely busy and stressful with final exams and all of the usual events that happen when the semester comes to a close. All I want to do now is lounge in the sun with a good book, spend time with my friends and family, finally finish watching Lost…

It’s strange to think that one year of college is already over and done. Next year there will be new freshmen walking around Wheaton’s gorgeous campus and experiencing its quirky traditions for the first time. They will feel lost and confused but also incredibly excited that this new chapter of their lives is finally beginning. While I’m grateful that I won’t have to experience that intense few weeks of facing the unknown again, it’s also a little frightening. I always thought that sophomores have their lives together and know what they’re doing, but as I near the beginning of my own sophomore year I realize that this is yet another misconception: not many people really know exactly what they’re doing. We’re all just doing the best we can to try to figure things out.

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My freshman year of college had many ups and downs, as I’m sure most people’s do. I met a group of amazing friends that I’m endlessly grateful for, tried countless new things, and learned more both within and beyond the classroom than I ever expected. I went to Six Flags for the first time, visited the Richard Rodger’s Theatre in NYC, watched a total of 53 movies, and spent more time doing homework than I thought humanly possible. My professors were fantastic, and they’re honestly one of the things I think I’ll miss the most this summer– them and my friends, of course. Saying goodbye yesterday involved a lot of hugging, promising to stay in touch, and holding back tears.

When all is said and done, I wouldn’t trade my first year college experience for anything. I’ll miss freshman year dearly, but I’m also welcoming sophomore year with wide open arms. And let’s not forget what comes in between: SUMMER VACATION!

I’m looking forward to getting back on a regular blogging schedule. My fingers have been itching to type up all of my blogging ideas, so brace yourselves for a bunch of posts coming up soon!

Until next time!

Yours,

HOLLY

P.S. Nut Free Nerd now has an Instagram! 

Rambles

Looking Back at 2015

LOOKING BACK ON 2015

2015 was a crazy year.

College acceptance letters arrived in my mailbox. I found out that I possibly have exercised induced anaphylaxis (it’s a long story). I decided to attend Wheaton College in Norton, MA. I saw Walk the Moon perform at the House of Blues in Boston. I survived (and passed!) 4 AP exams. I danced the night away at prom. I graduated high school (FINALLY!). My family and I took a road trip to West Virginia, which I will hopefully never have to do again. I interned at my local county attorney’s office during the summer. I had my last day of work at my local public library, which was one of the saddest days of my summer. I experienced my very first semester of college (!!!). My mom and I sat in the front row at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. I turned nineteen.

 

2015

2015 has been a year of ups and downs, new experiences, and a lot of change. So much has happened in the past year that I hardly even know how to describe it. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for each and every person who helped me along the way and for all of the amazing things I’ve had the opportunity to experience.

As always, I’d like to thank you all for reading this blog of mine! It means the world to me! ❤

Happy New Year! May 2016 be a great one!

Yours,

HOLLY

College

On Reading in College and Being Home

On Reading in Collegeand Being HomeWhat’s that distant cheering I hear? Oh, it must be the sound of my bookshelves rejoicing over the fact that I’m finally on winter break.

I’ve been home twice since move-in day in August– for Columbus Day weekend and Thanksgiving– but both of my stays have been really more like visits. Four or five days is not nearly enough time to truly unwind and recharge at home, especially when a mountain of homework is calling your name, midterms and finals loom in the near future, and the holidays are blissfully distracting you from getting any real work done. As such, I am ecstatic to finally be home for a solid month before going back for the next semester. I love school at Wheaton (MA, not IL) but those oldies Christmas tunes are right: there really is no place like home for the holidays.

Being home in between semesters is the strangest feeling. Due to the fact that my classes just ended I have no homework to do, no essays to write, no articles to read and no exams to study for. I don’t even know what textbooks I need for next semester, so it’s not as if I can get a head start in that regard. In January I’ll be busy with another internship, but for these next few weeks of the holiday season I am positively, absolutely free. I can read as much as I want, watch as much Netflix as I want, sit around in my pajamas well into the afternoon, and hang out with the friends that I haven’t seen in what feels like forever. My schedule is more clear than it has been in years– in fact, go look at a dish you recently cleaned. See how spotless that is? That, my good friends, is my current schedule.

And I love it.

What a difference from a mere week ago when finals were quite possibly driving me insane! Since Thanksgiving I had exclusively done homework with very little time for much of anything else. If I wasn’t attending class, in a meeting, tapping (I’m in Wheaton’s tap dancing group!), eating, or sleeping, then there’s about a 99.995% chance that I was doing homework. By the time I handed in my last final paper and took my Spanish final exam I was basically the definition of burnt out. 

Even before finals week I didn’t really have a lot of free time to do the amount of reading that I have done in the past. My wonderful friends occupied most of my free time, for which I am incredibly happy and grateful. As a consequence, my reading definitely fell to the wayside. Sure, I read quite a lot for my Introduction to Literature class (which was amazing, by the way– maybe I’ll write a post about it in the near future?) but very little of anything else. Looking back, I like to laugh about the large stack of books that I foolishly brought with me to college. How in the world did I think I would be able to read all of them? Instead of bringing five or six books with me like I did this past semester I’ll probably only bring one or two. Realistically, that’s probably all I’ll have time to read. (Plus, there’s a gigantic library on campus to fuel my bookish needs.)

What I’m trying to say is that college has definitely changed both my reading habits and the amount that I read. Not only does my busy schedule mean that I have less time to read, but the analytical way I’ve been “trained” to read for my literature classes means that now I often take my time when reading something to better understand it. I can shut that mindset off, of course, but I’m not all that sure that I want to. I feel as though I get so much more from books by reading them this way that I necessarily view as a disadvantage.

Moral of the story? I am looking forward to a solid month of doing absolutely whatever I want during this glorious winter break. And you know what that means: SO. MUCH. READING. I’ll be doing other things as well, but at least for a few days I feel as though I need to simply curl up with a good book (or two or three) and just relax. 

*sigh of relief* Now, bring on the Christmas spirit!

For those of you also on winter break, do you experience these feelings as well? How do you like to spend your winter breaks? Got any bookish recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY