Month in a Nutshell: July 2015

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Ah, July! It's always one of my favorite months of the year, for pretty obvious reasons that have BIRTHDAY written all over them. But I feel that this July has been one of the best.

On the blog

  • To kick off my birthday month (I'm fifteen now! EEEK), I opened up a Pinterest contest for writers! That ends TODAY, and the results should be out soonish after that!
  • Alyssa the Great tagged me for the #MoreHappyThanNot tag, so I incorporated that into a Weekend Wordfest post about my writing growth.
  • #LitLove (with my lovely ATTAC gang) swung by for another round, this time on the haunting horror work and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • I participated in the Tag of Randomocity, thanks to the loveliness that is Alex McCarron and her blog.
  • For another Weekend Wordfest, I shared some bits of On the Midnight Streets by doing my part for the 777 Challenge (thanks Rachana for the tag!) and linking up with Alyssa and Emily's Snazzy Snippets. 
  • I announced that book reviews and other bookish whatnot are coming back to Fairy Skeletons.
  • I did a mini-review of Emily St. John Mandel's gorgeous and poetic Station Eleven.
  • I also did a mini-review of my Freshman Fifteens mentor Kim Liggett's spooky, romantic debut, Blood and Salt.

That one time I was offline *gasp*

  • I had so much fun on Independence Day meeting with family friends and having lots of good food and watching fireworks. 
  • My birthday was wonderful! I got to do just about whatever I wanted, because my family is the best, and I had so much phenomenal food. I just.
  • I took a short trip out of town with a dear friend of mine, and we spent lots and lots of time together. I also got to see one of my other friends who moved to the area about a year ago. It was a wonderful experience, if a little strange (it was the first time I've gone on a plane trip without my parents). I'll be able to put it to good use, as I learned so much about observing people and absorbing subtleties of character.
  • And, um, food. We had Indian and Italian and Korean food while we were there, to be exact. Oh, and pastries and French toast and the most sublime omelet I've ever had in my life. (The friend I was with is the biggest food snob I know, so.)
  • I've been writing and exploring a lot for my Adroit mentorship, which is pretty much over at this point. I wish I could share some of my most recent work with you all, but alas, I've got to revise it and put it together for competitions and things. 
  • Yeah, I have to up my game so I can actually get into a decent college. Fun times.
  • Anyway, I feel that I've grown leaps and bounds as a poet, and I've tapped into a really unique headspace that I think has come from Adroit forcing me to be prolific (two poems a week is no joke for this turtle-speed writer, you guys). I've also been reading lots of contemporary poetry to try and inform my tastes better, and it's been fascinating. I love how my style has developed over the summer—well, when it's not busy being a disaster—and I hope you all will be able to see some of my newer poetry in the coming weeks/months/years.
  • Oh yeah, and I managed to finish the longest poem I've ever written without losing my mind. (All right, fine, that last bit is debatable. But hey, at least the poem is done.)
  • I just really liked this month? I need to be more productive, yes, but I feel like this month was really nice.

I've been watching

surprise! my parents actually let me watch this
While it 120% is NOT something I'd have watched purely out of my own interests—this movie is solidly outside of my standard comfort zone—I'd been hearing a lot about Mad Max: Fury Road on Tumblr. It was tasteful! It was feminist! It was well-executed! So naturally I became curious.

This film is essentially a two-hour car (truck? assorted post-apocalyptic vehicles?) chase across a brutal but very aesthetically pleasing desert landscape. I've heard it described as "very artsy but also explosions," and I'm here to tell you all that that's completely accurate. The soundtrack is gold (hello flamethrower electric guitar), the action is heart-in-your-throat thrilling—high praise coming from me, since I don't normally enjoy action movies all that much—and the worldbuilding is subtle but incredibly ingenious.

All of that good stuff is made brilliant by the heart of the movie: the characters.

The storyline of Mad Max: Fury Road centers on a group of sex slaves, or 'wives', who are forced to serve Immortan Joe aka Actual Scum of the Earth, a prominent leader in this post-apocalyptic desert. But surprise! These women are fed up with being treated as objects, and they show it by getting the heck out of Immortan Joe's fortress.

With the help of Imperator Furiosa, who is one of the greatest female characters I've ever had the privilege of encountering in film.
My absolute favorite thing about this movie, beyond all of the wonderful aspects I mentioned before, is how it treats its female characters as human, as deserving of respect, as fierce and kind and sometimes cruel. As full of anger and the potential for anything and everything. The women are never sexualized by the camera, despite the fact that the wives are wearing little more than strips of gauze the whole time. It's blatantly feminist without ever explicitly mentioning gender inequality, and it's critical of other issues without mentioning them, either. It's so well-done. Ahh.

My mom stumbled upon this little French animation film at the library and decided to bring it home for us to watch. And OH MY GOODNESS. The concept and characters were adorably done, and the art itself was gorgeous. Ernest and Celestine's story of unlikely friendship is heartwarming and lovely—who could imagine an artsy mouse and a lazy bear having such a grand adventure together? I'd recommend this film for fans of Kate DiCamillo's books.

Also here, have some screenshots:

Help, someone teach me how to Instagram

As always, click to get to the full-size photo!
birthdays call for cake. mine was delicious. (and had a nice color palette to boot.)
i tried out steller with some much-deserved piano appreciation! i've embedded that below:

Links of interest

  • This essay by Andrew Solomon in The New Yorker outlining some advice for young writers is gorgeously written and very thought-provoking. Well worth the (admittedly somewhat long) read.
  • Meg over at Cuddlebuggery redesigned the covers for Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy (you all should know that's one of my favorite series of all time by now). And GUYS, she has mad design skills. Her use of colors, fonts, and icons basically totally rocked my world. It's all amazing. I actually kind of prefer them to the actual covers!
  • This article in The Atlantic about teen writing contests is super insightful, and it contains a lot of hard-hitting points that I can definitely agree with. Some very good food for thought, especially for teen writers like me who want to get more competitive. 
  • This essay by Ocean Vuong on his experiences and growth as a writer is beautiful and brimming with meaning. Ocean Vuong is one of my favorite poets ever—right up there with Siken and the crew at The Adroit Journal—so this is really special to me. 
  • Alyssa @ come on, you know exactly where (it involves takeout and a killer color scheme) did a great, very on-point post on ethnicity and casting for Disney's live-action Mulan adaptation. (However, just a historical note: I don't think China ever technically had Korea under its jurisdiction. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that was my understanding.)
  • The lovely Paola Bennet @ Paola Francesca discussed some things that creatives should keep in mind if they're ever feeling out of inspiration.
  • This amazing post by C.J. over @ Deadly Darlings discusses some issues with the current landscape of 'diverse books' in the literary world.

So that was my July! How was yours?

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