hunger games - the mockingjay

2012 in review

Well, I know I haven't made a LiveJournal post since (*checks*) July, but today is December 31st, and to let the year end without a year-in-review post on LJ just feels wrong. So, without further ado:

Media things

Best book of 2012: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Hands down. Granted I didn't read many books this year that were actually released this year, but this book speaks to me on a level few others match, to the extent that my therapist suggested using it in our sessions. It also gave me a completely new appreciation for Fire, which I had previously been meh about.
Best book of 2012 not written in 2012: The only other new read I gave five stars to this year was Poison Study by Maria Snyder. It's pretty amazing, but my enthusiasm for it has been dampened by how disappointing the sequels, especially the "Glass" series, were. The world had so much promise, and the subsequent books rarely lived up to that potential, and sometimes had really unfortunate implications. So if you're going to read the book, do yourself a favor and stop there.
Authors of the year: I read 14 books by Tamora Pierce this year and 12 by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. They both have series(...es?) that are extremely addictive, and though they write for different age groups, I recommend their books to all fantasy fans who like kickass female heroines. My favorites: Squire and Emperor Mage by Pierce, and the heart-wrenching short story In Sea-Salt Tears by McGuire. And yes, those are all later books/stories that you have to read the earlier books in the series to get to. Muahahahaha.
Chapter of the year: Chapter 26 of Feed. LIFE-DESTROYING.

Also: This year I finally finished my Goodreads Challenge of reading 50 books! I think next year I'll up it to 75. I would like to thank the awesome women who write addicting fantasy series for this achievement.

Musical artists listened to most: According to last.fm, they were Fun., the New Pornographers, Florence + the Machine, Tegan and Sara, and Neko Case. This year was the year I really got into Tegan and Sara, who are amazing.
Favorite songs of 2012:
- Look, I really like "Gangnam Style". It's fun and dancey and strangely subversive once you research the lyrics. Plus, PSY just looks like he's having so much fun. Video: Eeeeeey, sexy lady!
- My love for it has faded a bit due to overexposure, but I can't not mention "Some Nights". The fact that a song I loved this much got so popular warms my heart. You mean regular people really like harmonies and power-pop and Nate Ruess's voice? ME TOO! Let's be friends! Video: This is it boys, this is war.
- "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers is a sweet, simple love song that makes me smile. "I don't know where I belong / I don't know where I went wrong / but I can write a song." Yep, sounds about right. Video: I'd be standing on Canal and Bowery.
- This didn't come out this year, but I discovered it only recently: "Settle Down" by Kimbra. I have Alan to thank for introducing me to this gorgeous song that's more than a little bit unsettling. Video: On just one knee for now.
- Honorable mentions: Of Monsters and Men - "Little Talks", Imagine Dragons - "It's Time", Gotye - "Somebody That I Used to Know", Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Like... ever.), Jay-Z & Kanye West - "N***as in Paris"
- Guilty pleasure: Maroon 5. Yeah, I know. I can't help it if One More Night is catchy as hell.

Best movie seen in theaters: Come on, did anyone really think I was going to award this to something other than The Hobbit? It's not the best movie ever made (or even the best Middle-earth movie ever made), but I just want to love it and squeeze it and call it George. Martin Freeeeeeman.
Movie I regret not seeing in theaters: The Hunger Games. It was amazing and so true to the book, especially visually.

Favorite TV show discovered this year: Teen Wolf. Shut up. It's one of those shows that's deceptively mainstream, but a lot of thought goes into it if you look past the hott dudes with no shirts on. Although there's that, too. Female gaze FTW.
Honorable mention: The Legend of Korra. It's no Avatar, but it tries.
Best rediscovery: Dollhouse. I never finished watching it the first time, but watching it again for Mark Watches I'm catching all sorts of nuance and awesomeness I didn't see before. Also TOPHER MY HEART.

Life stuff

Biggest life change of 2012 (positive): I got a job motherfucker. It is such a relief to be able to support myself! Working full-time is something I wasn't even sure I would be able to do, but I've been doing it for six months now and so far I'm not dead.
Biggest life change of 2012 (negative): I like my job, but I am really sad that it makes me so busy and tired that I can't foster kittens anymore. I miss my kitties so much. I haven't had one since Pippin and he was almost a year ago... but I remember how overwhelming it was even while working only 20 hours a week, and I know I'd run myself ragged if I tried to do it now. Someday, perhaps, I will be able to foster again. In the meantime, I have my own kitty and she is wonderful (and I'm sure especially happy that I'm not fostering anymore), but I miss getting to know all the different kitty personalities, and there's something special about the teeny-tiny ones. They're challenging and rewarding and when you finally earn their trust and love, it's a wonderful thing.

Speaking of tiny creatures--If it was a big year for me, it was huge for my niecelet, who turned 1 this year. I mean, she learned to walk and run and talk and do sign language! How awesome is that? Even though I only get to see her every few months, I love watching her grow up. She's not just "aww, cute baby" anymore--she's turning into a person.

I hope everyone has an awesome New Year's Eve. Happy 2013!
hunger games - the mockingjay

HAY GUYS

Soooooo I have a job! A real job, with full-time hours and benefits and everything! I can support myself! I am no longer dependent on my parents! Yay!!

I haven't updated the eljay in forever, but I figured I should because for once I have actual news. I applied for this job last October, and after six months of what I assume was bureaucratic gear-grinding behind the scenes, they finally notified me that I was qualified to take the Civil Service Exam that would be the next step to getting the job. So I took the standardized test in March, had to wait two more months for results, went for interviews in May, and heard about the job on my birthday, June 7. Whew. I feel like years have passed in the past month. To the point that I was actually startled when I saw my niece's birthday balloon a couple of days ago, because I thought it had been much longer since her birthday than it was. (The niece is one year old now! She can walk!)

The job is with the Milwaukee Public Library, which covers all the branches within the city limits including the main branch downtown, but I'll be working at the East branch which is like a ten-minute walk from my house. Score. It's also my childhood library, where I discovered everything from the Alice books to Katherine Applegate's teen romances to Terry Pratchett. They're going to do a complete re-building of the site starting next year, and that should take about a year (by estimates, but we all know how construction projects run long), which means that for at least a year they'll have to squeeze the library into what will probably be a much smaller space. I don't know how long I'll be working there, but I'm excited to see the new building once it's done. That particular library is, IMO, long overdue for a new space.

It's going to be really strange to not work at Shorewood anymore, since I've given that library seven and a half years of my life. (Or to look at it another way, the majority of my twenties.) I only have one more week of my old job and then I start the new job. In between, Alan and Trish are coming to visit for the weekend, which OMG YAY. I haven't seen them in over a year. I'm currently working on de-allergizing the house for Alan, who is allergic to everything breathable, including, possibly, air.

And it's summertime, which is my favorite here in Milwaukee, and I'm 29 now and I don't have to feel bad about that since I can finally support myself, and once I get into the swing of the job I'm going to see about getting new kittens and saving up for travel and all the things I have been wanting to do for years and not been able to because of money. I feel like I can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief.
misc - tinycat

I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table

I finally got my coffee table! I've been looking for an Ikea Leksvik table for a while--they don't make it anymore, but apparently it has its own Facebook group about how awesome it is, and I see them pop up on Craigslist occasionally. They've always been snapped up before I can get to them, though, or I don't have the money or the time to go get them. Well, today the stars aligned and I was the first one to call, so I drove out to Germantown where the addresses have way too many numbers and letters in them and got a new (to me) coffee table for $30!

This replaces our old Ikea Lack table, which was falling apart and kind of shoddy and IMO way too big for our space. (As if to demonstrate that a new table was needed, tonight my kitty stepped on to the lower "level" and it immediately tilted downwards and everything that was on it slid onto the floor.) And Kate just got us a dining room table and chairs (the old one wouldn't fit in the U-Haul when we moved so we curbed it), and a cabinet to hold DVDs. Our apartment is slowly becoming a more awesome place to live.

Sadly I lost one of my cool smartphone gloves somewhere along the way. It might still be lying in Germantown guy's driveway, so maybe I'll call him and ask. I quite like those gloves and the cold weather is far from over.

I need to take Hypatia to the vet to get updated records before I can start fostering again this year. I'm enjoying having a break from kittens though, just to rest and not have to worry about all my stuff being knocked over whenever I leave my room.

Sadly, in other kitten news, my favorite internet kitten whose story I had been following from afar got very sick and didn't make it. I had been reading his story since he was a bottle baby and his foster-dad had to keep him in the file cabinet at work so he could be fed regularly. As he got older, somehow he never got any less adorable. But he turned out to have a deadly virus.

The saddest part to me is that he already had a permanent home lined up and a family looking forward to taking him home. Lefty will be missed. :(
lotr - WHERE WAS GON--

They make DOGS for their polygamy cult?!

"Smell of Success" is such a fascinating episode of Pushing Daisies. Why is Chuck wearing sixties clothing now, instead of fifties? (Will she someday catch up to the present?) Will Paul Reubens come back and expose Chuck's secret smell? How many shots of Kristin Chenoweth's bouncy boobs can they fit in one episode? Will Lee Pace ever stop looking adorable in black t-shirts? And most importantly, how awesome is Ellen Greene singing "Morning Has Broken"? The answer is ALL OF THE AWESOME. ALL OF IT.

I keep wondering whose dog died so that Digby could live, though.

Today on Mark Watches we got to discuss one of my favorite Buffy episodes ever, "I Only Have Eyes for You." SO GOOD. I never realized that the kid playing the ghost is also Auggie Anderson from Covert Affairs. Which... I haven't even watched that show in a long time, but omg come here Auggie and let me munch on you.

Unfortunately today on Mark Reads, Mark talked about the problematic portrayal of Orcs and how Tolkien used the term "Mongol-types" when describing their physical appearance, and the comments exploded with OMG HOW DARE YOU CALL TOLKIEN A DIRTY RACIST I HAVE PROOF THAT HE HATED NAZIS. And now that's the most commented-on post ever on Mark Reads. *headdesk*

It's just like... look you guys can we just accept that LotR is not without its problematic elements and go back to talking about war allegories and how cute Dom and Billy are? Because that is way more fun than having the exact same argument fifty times.

I do still love being a moderator though.
lotr - WHERE WAS GON--

OK so what I don't get about Pushing Daisies

1. The whole thing where he can touch things back to life but then something else has to die--does this apply for things other than humans? Because they talk about his amazing ability with pies and how rotten fruit becomes alive again in his hands, but does that mean other fruit has to "die"? Plants are weird, they're not just "dead" or "alive" like humans. Is this like in Carnivale where Ben can heal stuff but only if he kills all the grass and/or fish in the vicinity? Also how does he chop/prepare the fruit for pie without touching it again? Also if he touches it again after it's cooked into pie does the pie immediately taste like rotten fruit? Or is the fruit technically "dead" again by then from being cooked?

2. I'm re-watching the Pie-lette and you see him wake up a dude with a big chunk gouged out of his face and that's NOT magically healed when he wakes up, unlike the strawberries. So do the people he wakes up still have their physical injuries? Does the dog still have his internal injuries from the car accident? HOW DOES THIS WORK I DEMAND SCIENCE

3. I am over-thinking this. Also this show is super depressing for something so upbeat and silly; I forgot that it started with HIS DOG DYING

4. OMG Thranduil you are adorable

(I am re-watching the show and also seeing if Kate likes it--it has some of her favorite things such as (a) supernatural elements (b) Kristin Chenoweth and (c) whimsy)
downton abbey - matthew/mary otp

to say nothing of pocketing the spoons

DUDE. You know what I just realized about 2012?

IT'S A SUMMER OLYMPICS YEAR.

This is my most favoritest of things. Gymnastics! Diving! Swimming! More gymnastics! And this year, British things! Still hoping they can get that David Tennant thing sorted out.

Anyway, moving on--

I'm dog-sitting for my parents this weekend, which means I've actually been channel-surfing because they get ALL the channels and there's always something on. This led to me catching the repeat of the new-to-the-US airing of Downton Abbey S2E1 the other night, and OMG I forgot that this show makes me feel SO MANY FEELINGS. Even the characters I loathe are just so goddamn interesting and the relationships on the show are all so wonderful and well-written and I just want to step into the world of Downton and live there forever. (Not literally like as a human from the 1910s or whatever, more like an invisible fangirl ghost who spies on everybody all the time.)

spoilersCollapse )

So after watching that, I was like MOAR, so I downloaded the entire season since it's already aired in the UK. But now I'm reluctant to watch it because if I finish the season then there will be no more Downton Abbey to watch and I will be sads. I want to savor it, like a box of really good chocolates. You don't just eat them all at once!

I started watching North & South on Netflix instead to get my period drama fix, and it's pretty awesome. Someone in a review described it as Pride & Prejudice meets Dickens, and so far that is completely accurate. The main actress reminds me SO MUCH of someone and I can't think who and it's driving me to distraction. Also it has Richard Dwarfitage in it so I'll be able to see what the fuss is about him before The Hobbit comes out.

(Also why did nobody tell me Anna Maxwell-Martin was in this? I adore her. And Bates from Downton Abbey plays her dad, so that's neat. He has such a cute teddy-bear face.)

All this period drama fangirling has led me to think I need to read more historical fiction. Anyone have recommendations? Preferably for a similar time period to Downton, but I'll take any recs you've got.
misc - writing

the important thing is to try. deal with it, yoda.

I don't really like making New Year's Resolutions. It sounds too mandatory, and then when you fail, you feel like crap. What I like to make are Goals. Goals can be met or unmet; the point is to have something to aim for.

Goal #1: Read 50 books! This has been my goal for the past three years; I have yet to meet it. Well, I met it in 2008 when I was in school, but I'm pretty sure my goal was 100 that year. Maybe I should make my goal 100 and then I'll get to 50? *pondering Iroh face*

Widgets make things more fun:

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Sophie has read 0 books toward her goal of 50 books.
hide

Goal #2: Blog moar! Which I am doing at this very moment. I remember liking Blog Every Day April when Duncan and I did it that one time, because it challenged me to think of something vaguely interesting to say for each entry. It also takes away the excuse of "Aw, nobody wants to read my ramblings about crime shows and cats! My life is so boring and nobody reads this journal because I suck!" TOO BAD. BLOG ANYWAY.

Goal #3: Do more things. This is the vaguest goal ever, I know, but it makes sense in my head. Basically I want to build up more change energy, which helps combat my usual paralysis. I want to listen to more new music, read more books, watch more movies, see more people, go more places, eat more good food. Be more active. I still have a very limited amount of both money and spoons, so it might be a challenge, but I spend a lot of time not doing things, and this year I would like to do more things.

I think three is enough. These are all relatively small things, low-pressure, fun to do, and most importantly, they are all under my control. Oh, and my fourth goal is to not beat myself up if I don't meet the other three goals, because that defeats the purpose of having goals in the first place.

I will leave you with a bit of wisdom from cleolinda to start the New Year: S'up, 2012.
orphan black - sarah

2011 year in review

Well, I took Pippin back to the Humane Society yesterday. They said he'd go for surgery that day and be up for adoption late today, but I didn't see him up on the website so I'm betting he'll have to wait until Tuesday (they're closed New Year's Day and there are no adoptions on Mondays). I hope he goes to a lovely home with people who will appreciate his rascally-yet-sweet personality! Preferably with another kitten or high-energy cat, since he really needs someone to wrassle.

I don't usually do year-in-review memes, but I feel like it right now. This year has been kind of depressing overall. Well, I shouldn't say that. The past few months have been really depressing. Before that it was going allright. But the stress of being poor and not having a real job has been overwhelming recently. And there's no end in sight. 2012, please be better.

Meme via [personal profile] newredshoes.

2011 year in review memeCollapse )

Reading over this, I feel like I barely did anything this year. I didn't read very many books, see many movies, meet many people, discover much music. I just sort of existed and tried not to feel too hopeless and depressed. I did meet some lovely kitties, though, and they took up a lot of my free time, so maybe it's not so surprising. (Also, I had no money to do anything.) We'll see how 2012 goes. *side-eyes 2012*
leverage - a swell day

glasses follow-up #1

(If you missed it, here's my first post about buying glasses online.)

So far my online glasses-buying experience has been mixed. One pair I'm still waiting on, one pair is gorgeous but something seems wrong with the lenses, one pair the lenses are fine but the frames are so-so, and one pair has cute frames but a chipped lens. No Perfect Glasses yet.


Goggles4u

Both of the pairs I ordered from Goggles4u are sold out/discontinued, so I don't know how long these links will work. The first is a black and clear plastic frame. They're pretty nice and the prescription is very sharp, but the frames are a bit too big for my face, I think. I'm not in love with them. Still, they're a good backup pair.

The second pair I liked a lot. It's a gray half-rim skinny cat-eye, and it was something of an impulse buy. I was like "dude, for this cheap, I'll get a fun pair too!" so this was my "fun pair." I ended up liking it more than the regular pair! However, after a day of wearing them I noticed one of the lenses is chipped. I don't know if they came that way and I didn't notice or if they chipped somehow in the course of me wearing them (unlikely, as I wasn't playing dodgeball), but either way it's not a great testament to the quality of Goggles4u. I e-mailed them but I'm not sure anything will come of it, since their return policy seems to say "we don't want to give you any money back" with lots of words.

For the record, I did NOT get my glasses in a cloth bag from Pakistan or whatever the thing is. I was a bit disappointed. However, I was amused that the confirmation email and return address listed them as coming from "Steve."

Time from ordering to arrival: 8 days
Comes with: Hard clamshell case, cleaning cloth (I got baby blue and baby pink for some reason)
Pros: Huge selection, cheap, cute
Cons: Useless virtual try-on, abysmal website in general, cheaply made?
I paid: $23 per pair (with their current deal of $0 frames and $10 off lenses)
S&H: $9.98


Coastal Contacts

I ordered the Jill Stuart 112 frames using their "first pair free" option. Their virtual try-on is great and as soon as I saw the glasses on the photo of me, I was like "THESE." They look pretty great in real life too! Slightly larger than I'd imagined, and after wearing brown and burgundy glasses for five years, the shiny blackness startles me every time I look in a mirror. But I really like them; they're my favorites so far.

They tried to push thinner (and more expensive) lenses on me at checkout, telling me 1.61 was "the minimum recommended index" for my prescription. Well, after getting the actual glasses I can say that this is bullshit, because I got the 1.59 polycarbonates, and they don't look thick at all. They don't protrude outside the frames in any noticeable way. Maybe with wire-frames they'd look huge, but with these thick-rimmed frames they're fine.

But... something seems wrong with the lenses. I'm not sure if they got my PD wrong or what. At first I thought it was the prescription, since things just don't seem as sharp and clear as with the Goggles4u ones. So I went to the eyeglass store located at my eye doctor's office, told the guy I got them online, and asked him to measure the prescription on them. Before he even measured them he asked me a bunch of questions about how did I get my measurements and my PD, basically being condescending about me trying to buy glasses online. I was thinking Look just measure the glasses dude. He finally measured them and said the prescription strength is correct, but then he tried to give me a lecture on how "that's only ONE of the measurements that goes into making a QUALITY pair of glasses." Yeah, whatever. Some of us can't afford the price of all that QUALITY.

I've heard that a lot of people have this experience with physical glasses stores--that they'll try to discourage you from buying online. Of course, since they want your business and they can charge you hundreds of dollars. But surely they realize that a lot of people can't afford hundreds of dollars?

I just wish I knew what was making these particular glasses feel "off." I didn't ask the guy to measure the PD on them, because he was being obnoxious, but maybe they got that wrong? Maybe the coatings are wonky? (I messed up and got UV coating even though the lenses are polycarbonate, which comes with UV protection already.) Or maybe my eyes are too low or too high to be at the right point on the lens? I don't know. A millimeter or two seems like it shouldn't make too much of a difference, but obviously I don't know about QUALITY pairs of glasses.

I can see OKAY out of these ones, but not AWESOMELY like with the Goggles4u ones. But I can't very well return them to Coastal Contacts and be like "make these again, you did it wrong even though I have no idea how!" So I'm kind of stuck on what to do. Should I:

- Go to an actual physical glasses store and try to get them re-lensed, possibly for a lot of money and/or hassle, but then they can measure my face and make sure all the little things are right, or
- Send them to a cheaper online re-lensing service like 39DollarGlasses.com has and see if that helps, or
- Suck it up and deal?

I REALLY like these frames and would love to be able to see perfectly with them. I'm willing to pay more money to make that happen, because I think I could wear these for years and not get sick of them, but obviously I am still as poor as I was before this started so I can't pay TOO much. I would appreciate any advice.

Time from ordering to arrival: 6 days
Comes with: Hard clamshell case, cleaning cloth (I got blue), little tiny screwdriver for adjustments
Pros: Designer glasses, petite frames, great virtual try-on, quick turnaround, 365-day returns, first pair free
Cons: Expensive, website overrides "open in new tab" function, tries to upsell on lenses, no wishlist, lenses are somehow weird?
I paid: $34.95 with the "first pair free" deal (so the cost is for lenses only--these frames are normally $88)
S&H: a whopping $18.97--part of that is for insurance, which you can't opt out of, but whatever


39 Dollar Glasses: Not arrived yet

These are taking their sweet time to get here, but when I checked the status of my order it told me: We are sorry but your order has failed final inspection. We have already begun remaking your order and are fast-tracking it so it ships with minimal further delay. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but the very purpose of our thorough inspection is to ensure that your new glasses are accurate and free of any defects.

I don't know how common this is, but it's probably not their usual shipping time. I e-mailed them to bug them about it, because they've been stuck in that status for over a week and that doesn't seem like it's been "fast-tracked." We'll see if anything comes of that.

Time from ordering to arrival: ???
I paid: $57.56 with glassyeyes's 10% off discount
S&H: $4.95

No photos yet because I haven't showered today and my hair is dumb, also it's nighttime. I'll try to take pictures in natural light tomorrow.
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