"Something Worth Reading": A Guest Post by Jessica Byam

Get a notebook, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  - Spencer W. Kimball
My mother gave me my first journal for my 9th birthday. It took me 7 years to fill it, and up until the very end, it consists of little more than a girl’s dreams of ponies and confessions of school yard crushes.

But I was 15 years old when my infant brother was born and died, and suddenly I had something important to write about. He lived for 4 hours—such a short time for such a beautiful soul—and I wanted to remember every minute with him. It was this brush with heaven, this first real exposure to the fleeting nature of human life that convinced me that I needed to make a record of the people and events that shape my own.

I am 25 years old now, and the attic of my parents’ house is stacked to the rafters with my words, which they are kind enough to store for me until I convince my gypsy heart to set up permanent residence somewhere.

Those volumes are quite literally the story of my life. They are filled with the fear and excitement of a young girl leaving home for the first time to attend school 2,000 miles away. They chronicle my time in AmeriCorps, where my view of the world was turned on its head and I discovered myself through forgetting myself. They tell of my first love, my first heart break, and of daring to love again. They bear witness of friendships formed in times of happy abandon and tested by time and distance, and of strangers who existed in my world for only a moment but changed my life forever.

My grandmother is starting to have trouble remembering things, but I once had the opportunity to read a journal she kept while bicycling across New York state as a teenager. She had never told me about this adventure before, and I fell in love with her voice as I read the little limericks she wrote about her traveling companions and described the hostels they stayed in. In an entry dated July 4th, she wrote about how proud she was to be an American and how grateful she was for the freedoms that granted her. Her words were simple, but they inspired me.

Journaling is a way to capture the ephemeral nature of life and hand it to those who inherit what we leave behind. If I ever get around to having posterity, I hope that I have left them something worth reading.

What about you? Do you journal? What inspires or compels you to record your life?

(And thank you for having me, Annie!)

I suck at this blogging thing.

Yes, I know I've been slacking in the blogging department as of late. You can blame my students -- needy little buggers. I don't know why I felt the urge to bombard them with projects and assignments and what-not with only 7 weeks left in the school year (can I get a hallelujah?), not to mention a full reading of Romeo and Juliet.

Hello, my name is Annie Cristina and I am a masochist.

But I promise to get back into blogging soon. As of June, you're going to be begging me for radio silence, I'll be blogging so much. But in the meantime, feel free to peruse my greatest hits, my favorites, and of course, my archives. And here is my favorite scene from "The Lion King" to help make up for my sorry blogging performance. It's not much, but it's damn funny (IMHO).

Are you aching, yup-yup-yup! For some bacon, yup-yup-yup!
Yeah, that scene never gets old. Anyway, tell me what's up with YOU! Leave me some happy, happy comments.

ETA: I should add that while I've been inactive here, my Tumblr has been seeing some action. *guilty look* It's just that it's so much more low-maintenance than Blogger!  And-And, it's so easy to reblog and post pictures and videos and stuff. I promise I like you guys here more, though. Pinkie promise. (But you can totally go visit my Tumblr, if you're into that sort of thing.)


These are a few of my (current) favorite things...

My lovely bloggy friend Asheyna asked me to write a guest post for her this month, so I decided to take my favorites feature on the road for April. Click here to  read my post and see what I'm loving right now, and don't forget to let me know in the comments what your favorites are this month. :-)


Things making me happy right now...

I took this picture using the Instagram app
 going to the Miami Seaquarium with my boyf for free, just because I'm a teacher.

reading cheesy romance books for fun.

watching the NBA playoffs. (and rooting for my home team, the Miami Heat. :D)

taking an afternoon nap with the rain pattering against my window.

winning a giveaway from this sweet Etsy shop.

finding out my favorite coffee from Starbucks (white chocolate mocha) can be ordered nonfat. (and it still tastes good!)

getting medical tests done for the first time in many, many, many years and having all my results come back normal (minus my cholesterol, which is a bit high, but I'm working on that). next up, lady doctor! (gulp.)

What's making you happy right now?


You know why I'll never be a food blogger?

I'll tell you why -- it's because I am too impatient. I can't wait to take the pictures. I have to eat the food RIGHT NOW.

It's not for want of trying, either. I attempted to do this just last night. Ricky and I went to the Village Tavern, where we discovered, lo and behold, they served the very dessert I'd been craving all week, crème brûlée. I had all of the good intentions -- I even had my camera ready (okay, fine it was my iPhone's camera, but still, the Instagram app has some really nice filters!). But it was all for naught. I told myself I would just take one bite, just one little bite, before taking the picture. But then one bite became twenty, and well you know the rest.

So that's why I'll never be a food blogger. At least, not a very good one. Because if I took any pictures at all, they wouldn't look like those beautifully framed ones you see on food blogs. No. They would look more like this:

Yeah, I know. I'm pathetic. And also hungry.


Something funny for your Friday.

I recently discovered the hilariousness that is Julia Sweeney by listening to her audiobook, Letting Go of God (you can hear an excerpt here on YouTube). She is that rare comedian who is able to make you want to laugh and cry in the same breath. A real talent.

Here she is discussing her recent "birds and the bees" discussion with her young daughter. Warning: You will laugh, and often. Enjoy!

By the way, I noticed some of you are still entering my Amazon giveaway, which ended this past Tuesday, April 5th. I'm sorry, but a winner was already selected for this giveaway on the specified date, April 5th. Please stay tuned for the next giveaway!


Wish List Wednesday

Wish I may, wish I might...

I have been craving this dish like mad, but alas, my favorite French restaurant closed and I don't know of any other place that makes it quite as well. I wish I was even a tiny bit capable in the kitchen, because then I'd attempt to make it myself!

We haven't been to the theater in a bit, and I really, really want to see this one, especially since I finished rereading the book on Sunday. (Are you paying attention, boyf???)

I am dying to go back to Busch Gardens, especially now that a new roller coaster will be opening soon. We might be going in May, for Ricky's birthday. I can't wait!!!

I am already counting down the days until June 11th -- that's when I'm officially on summer vacation, in case you were wondering. I just want to sleep (and sleep and sleep and sleep).

What's on your wish list this week?


One Day Without Shoes

I started wearing TOMS this year after I kept hearing about them on blogs. I thought they looked really cute online, so I ordered a pair, hoping they would fit. Happily, they not only fit, they fit great. I even wore them to a few theme parks this past winter.

As I started learning more about the TOMS company, I discovered these weren't just regular shoes -- these were shoes with heart. I learned that for every pair of shoes you purchase, a pair of shoes is given to a child in need. And there are so many children in need of shoes -- in need of healthy feet -- in need of an education. You see, shoes don't just protect children from soil-borne bacteria, they also allow them to go to school. For so many children, they are not able to go to school because shoes are a required part of their uniform. So what this basically means is that if a child cannot afford to wear shoes, they cannot afford to get an education.

As a teacher, this really tugs at my heartstrings. So I started talking up One Day Without Shoes to my students. I even got some of them interested in becoming ambassadors of sorts for the movement. Today, these students went classroom to classroom explaining what One Day Without Shoes is, and how a pair of shoes can impact a child's life. They also baked some cakes to celebrate the event (spoiler: they were delicious). Here are some pictures from today.

Thank you to Brittney, Pamela, Julissa, and Tania for your hard work today. Next year, it will be even bigger and better. You are my inspiration! :-)

To learn more about One Day Without Shoes and to find out how you can participate, click here. 


And the winner of the Amazon giveaway is...

Using random.org, I selected the following number:

And the person with lucky comment number 29 is:

Congrats, Brittany! I hope you are able to get yourself those new books you've been craving. :-) Please email me ASAP so I can send the Amazon gift certificate your way.

Thank you to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for more details on my next giveaway.


Things making me happy right now...

taken using my instagram app
getting "surprise" flowers from the boyf, just because

 having all of my grades done for the semester/beginning a new semester

hitting that snooze button one more time

watching (complete!) operas on YouTube with the boyf

rereading a book and remembering the little details

getting random, sweet emails from my students

sliding into a freshly made bed

trying a cake pop from Starbucks for the first time (they're delicious!)


"You transfix me quite."

So I'm currently rereading "Jane Eyre," and I'm trying to take my time with it, because there's so many little details I had forgotten, like the scene early on between Jane and the "gypsy." I'm trying to savor the book, take pleasure in the small nuances of characterization and plot. But at the same time, I'm eager to finish, because I can't wait to see the film adaptation. The trailer alone looks amazing.

Have you seen the film? Did it measure up to the book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! :-)

P.S.) I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to Amazon. Click here to enter!