November Wrap-Up

How is November almost over? That means we're almost to December! And didn't we just start 2021 like a month ago? Maybe three months? XD 
In any case, my November was really amazing! It was busy, yes, insane, yes, I had a lot on my plate, yes, but I got to do a lot of amazing things, watch a lot of amazing things, read a lot of amazing things, and write some things that I hope will be amazing someday with a lot of editing. 
Let's get to it!

1. To get the obvious question out of the way first, yes, I won NaNoWriMo! I in fact won it before we were 2/3 of the way through the month. *hides* (What can I say, I'm really good at getting things done when they're for fun and not school related. XD Not that I'm not good at getting school things done, too, I just...yeah, anyway. I'm good at making myself do stuff. Moving on.) But after I won, I just kept going, because the story wasn't done, and there is no cosmic rule that once one has written 50k, the rest of the story writes itself. Which is quite irritating, in my opinion.

So, my story is still not quite done yet, and its being very obstinate in stopping and refusing to tell me where it wants to go next, but I'm confident I can coax it along. *cough* At least semi-confident. I have slowed down a bit in my progress, because I can't figure out how I want the ending to go. Which is not ideal. XD

I'd give you stats for the month, but then I might have to include how many characters I killed, and we can't have that, now can we? 

Image credit to owner.
2. So, I got a job! I believe I mentioned that in passing, but to give you some more details...I have a part-time job with the Meat Science Lab (basically the campus butcher) on Tuesdays and Thursdays! I'm getting a respectable level of pay, and learning a lot! 

I've gotten to grind meat, sort meat, vacuum seal meat, make sausage of all kinds, label meat, season meat, cut meat (wearing a chain mail glove. For real. Also, I have my own set of knives), sort cuts of meat, sell cuts of meat, clean meat, cut bones out of meat, and even assist in slaughter (which, yes, is a bit of a lot...I've only done pig slaughter so far, and that's even less intense than cattle and lamb slaughter, so.). 

One of the coolest things I've gotten to do so far was this past week when I was told to cut the bone out of a ham, and when I extracted the bone, I realized that it was the femur-tibia-fibula-patella complex (aka the knee) and the tendon-y things were still attached, so I could make the joint move like it was still alive. #onceahomeschooleralwaysahomeschooler

I'm taking 20 hours of credit  next semester, though, so I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to keep going with the job, especially since one of my 4 credit classes requires around nine hours of in-class time per week. XD

3. Quotes of the Month, from Various Sources

"Chickens...are not the brightest lightbulbs on the planet." --My Animal Science prof

"Oh...I just bit C. S. Lewis." --George

My supervisor: "Do you need me to help with packing [online] orders?"
My boss: "No, I have Samantha. Samantha is better than you."

Thomas: "Bring me back some snack sticks [from work]."
Me: "As a reward for driving me to the airport?"
Thomas: "That would be acceptable."

"You always need a CAPE to survive!" --The little kid behind me on the plane [I mean, he's not wrong]

"I'm not only their absentee mother, I'm their ESTRANGED absentee mother??" --Sara [I will give you no context for this. Actually, never mind, I will--context is later in the post, if you can figure it out. Virtual cookies if you figure it out. XD]

4. In September, I got to go on an amazing retreat through the Newman Center called Koinonia, and for some reason didn't write about it on the blog? It was a new experience for me, and was a great blessing, especially in growing closer to my friends and other people I know at Newman! This month, I got a chance to help out with the next Koinonia retreat with a bunch of my friends, who were both on the retreat or also volunteering. Which was an amazing way for me to re-engage and get away again from the hustle and bustle of school, and I couldn't believe that I got to do it again so soon! And I met some new friends who I'm looking forward to getting to know. So, moral of the story, go on random retreats that you find through your Newman Center! :)
(It did snow as we were driving to the retreat center. In the middle of November. Illinois is weird.)

5. This...may require some background. This background is not strictly necessary, but I think it's funny, so I will share it in any case.

So, at Newman, there's a complicated genealogical system among some of the people in my friend group wherein there are currently three pairs of parents: Alphonsus & Fia, and then two other pairs, JC & Jen, and Calum & Sara. Peter & Sarah are the children of Alphonsus & Fia, George is JC & Jen's, and Lewis, Thomas, and I are Calum & Sara's. Peter, Sarah, George, Thomas, Lewis, and I are all cousins (except the ones who are siblings, obviously). The siblings defend each other in the chats, the cousins tease each other relentlessly, and "Don't talk about my cousin/sister/mom like that!" is uttered unironically on a fairly regular basis.  

So, my cousins and brothers and 'dad' and I, along with another friend of mine, decided to start watching Band of Brothers, an HBO series based on a book about a squadron [?] of paratroopers during WWII who were involved in the invasion of Normandy. 

And it is excellent. The way the men relate to each other and take care of each other is so sweet, and there are funny parts and heart-rending parts, and all of it is very accurate, and I have definitely not gotten attached to some characters who will probably die...

Each episode starts with interviews with some of the actual men who fought in the squadron [?] and that is very strange and fascinating to see and hear. And the things they say often play into what happens in the episode. 

I never really thought I would be a war movies person, but I really am at least a war show person! I can't wait for each episode, to see what happens to the men, to see how they cope with it, and to hope my favorites don't die.

It also does an excellent job of demonstrating that War Was Not Romantic. We romanticize war, but there in the trench, or trying to take over the town, or lying in one's own blood? That's not romantic.

(It does have quite a bit of graphic violence and some's TV-MA for a reason. Watch with caution.)

One thing that caught me by surprise as I was watching was that many of the boys are really young. Like, eighteen. And we got to a part where someone mentioned his age, and I looked around at the guys I was watching with (my own band of brothers...and cousins) and realized...if we were living in a different time, it could be them in the trenches, trying to take over the town, lying in their own blood. It could be me at home, watching the newspaper for any news of them, hoping they'd make it back alive, if not in one piece.
And I was suddenly very grateful that that was not the case. And honestly, I also felt a little protective of them! Of their ability to sit in a dorm room watching a war show without experiencing it themselves. 
So, so, so.

6. For Fall Break, instead of going home to the West Coast, I went out to the East Coast! I stayed with Eowyn and her husband near DC, and as of the time this post comes out, I'm staying with my cousins about an hour away from there. It's been a really good rest for me--I've been able to do nothing, or just read, and not feel guilty about it--and I've gotten to see some really interesting stuff as well! Eowyn and I saw a bunch of the monuments in DC that we've been talking about in my Landscape Architecture class, and we also went to the Natural History Museum, and the National Gallery of Art, and she took me to her favorite used bookstore at which I purchased an obscene amount of books (15? 18? I don't even know)! 

The art gallery was especially amazing--we went through half of one floor (it was mostly the Middle Ages Catholic art), and I still have enough art to think about for the next, oh, year? It was a glut of art, and I am satiated. :) I love going to art museums, but for some reason, it's mostly the Catholic art that interests me? The other art, unless it is incredible, just doesn't hold my attention as long as a well-done Pieta or Assumption or Resurrection. I'm curious about this. Does art have to have a personal connection for the viewer? Does it help in interest to know that what is being depicted actually happened? I may write a blog post on this at some point...along with reflections on the tactile, apropos of Catholicism. :)

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we also got to go to Mass at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which was absolutely amazing! There are so many beautiful side-chapels and altars that it's almost mind-boggling...we kept thinking we found all of them, and then finding some more! I especially loved the Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Africa, and Our Lady of Czestochowa ones. I would definitely recommend a trip there if you ever happen to be in the area!

With my cousin and aunt, I got to go to the Air & Space Museum at Dulles, which had such amazing things as a Messerschmitt, the Enola Gay, a Blackbird, the Discovery Space Shuttle, and a bunch of WWI planes and WWII American, German, and Japanese planes. I was a bit sad that there weren't any English planes--didn't get to see a Blenheim, or a Spitfire, or a Tiger Moth--but I still got to see a lot of amazing things! 

Today (Friday), we're going to the zoo, where my cousin works, so hopefully we'll get to see some behind-the-scenes, and on Saturday, we'll hopefully get to see Father TA!

7. When I was at Eowyn's, I found a book on her shelves (she has beautiful bookshelves, the kind that I might want to have when I grow up) that I had heard about when my mom read it, yea these many years ago, and so I randomly picked it up off the shelves to read, to my friend's approbation (apparently it was a good choice).

I was not prepared for the sheer wonderfulness that was within these pages. It was incredibly well-written and well-charactered and well-set, and GAH.

The writing style, first of all! It was the right mix between showing emotions and telling action, but not entirely--it's such an interesting way of writing, because a lot of the action is very understated, and leaves you wondering "did that really just happen"? And it usually did. Also, each chapter weaves seamlessly between the past and the present, bringing a picture of Ove much more clearly into focus throughout the narrative. It just works so well, and I don't know how to describe, really. But I want to learn to write like that. :)

It also is such a remarkable book in that it is horribly sad and wonderfully hilarious in equal measures, and that is very strange. 

All of the characters are marvelous. Ove himself is deeply understandable, despite being a character who, seen from the outside, would be hard to understand. Crotchety old men often are. Parveneh and her girls are delightful, and most of the other characters become sympathetic in the end, and it's lovely. Especially the Cat Nuisance.

The setting, also! I could almost see Ove's house, and the setting of his daily inspections, even though it was not described at length.

And the plot! It was nondescript, sort of slice-of-life, but it really did move the characters through their arcs so very well, and even though it didn't seem like much was happening...much was happening.

In sum, Ove is one of those fantastic Scandinavian books that have been popping up so often, and I think you should read it immediately and tell me what you think. :)

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Have you ever been to DC? What was your favorite book that you read this month? Have you ever been on retreat? 


  1. Thanks! And yes, as always, your blog was amazing (:
    I got to the 50k word count too! But, as my book is not done yet either, I'm taking it easy and writing about 100 words a day, just to keep the streak. Sometime later I'm going to finish it up, I don't know when, as my writing schedule is *really* busy. (I have planned to write 4 books next year... arduous)
    Don't worry about where the story will go next! You can always come back sometime *nervous that you don't have time* and clean up the mess you've made. At least it will be a delicious mess that will be lovely to read!
    Speaking of NaNo, I'm already thinking of my next NaNo project! XD I haven't even finished my current one!
    Catch ya next time!
    Yes, I have been to DC before, because I live quite close to it. However, I don't remember if I've walked around DC, but it sounds super fun!

    1. Aww, thanks!
      Hurray for you! Keep up the good work, and I hope you get accomplished all that you want to accomplish!
      Thank you! That is definitely true. I would like to *finish* the mess before I leave it on its own for a while, though! It will be delicious and delightful to come back to, though, I'm sure. :)
      Wow, forward-thinking! I can't do that, or I would lose all motivation. XD
      You should walk around DC sometime! :)

  2. Bravo again and again and again on NaNo! Oh dear, yes, I guess you mustn't tell us stats because they could break my heart...

    You having your own knives is very impressive. I have a fear of cutting myself (not that that's ever happened...) so I avoid cutting or slicing or doing anything with knives as much as I can (my sister one time pointed out how ironic this was that I was perfectly happy chopping kindling when I had to hold the piece of wood. She was terrified I was going to hurt myself, but I was a total proooooooo.). See, this is where you and I differ: in Biology it's taken all my self restraint to not lose any self control while talking about muscles while you find it cool to move a knee joint around like it's still alive. XD Go, you! Man, even the lungs gross me out. Right now we were talking about the heart which was the only interesting thing we've come across.

    If you aren't committed to writing write a post about art then you are definitely going to be convinced after finishing Asher Lev. XD Just sayin'. *settles in happily to wait for it*

    Ah, you did end up going to that bookstore. ;) Nice. Care to share which books you got there?

    I know my sister has been wanting to watch the movie A Man Called Ove for ages, but I want to read the book first. Even more now that I've seen it has your stamp of approval!

    Band of Brothers sounds so good! Please let us know if you end up crying because that will be a real sign. I always think I don't like war movies, but I really do. Especially The Bridge on the River Kwai (maybe because it is about a war camp instead of seeing action?) and The Great Escape (likewise). I have so many that I want to see!

    1. Thank you again and again! I don't know that they would break your heart, given that you don't know any of the characters, definitely broke my heart. 😬

      Haha, wait, you use an AXE but not a KNIFE?? Chloe, that is very backwards. (Plus, I wear a chain mail glove and a cutting apron when I'm cutting, so I don't have to worry about cutting myself.)
      That is, indeed, one of the many areas in which you and I differ! I love the practical Biology stuff! I really don't need to take A&P after working at the meat science lab. The heart is super cool!!

      That's true! I think Asher Lev might lend some depth to my thoughts on art...we'll see!

      I did indeed. ;) I got a whole bunch of stuff that I don't remember all of off the top of my head, but including Crime & Punishment, In This House of Brede, A Tale of Two Cities, some Madeleine L'Engle, some Narnia, Confessions of St. Augustine, The Chosen, and so on! I'm going to see if I can get it all back to UIUC in my backpacks, but it's going to be a bit of a squeeze...

      Yes, definitely read the book first!! I had no idea there was a movie...

      It's amazing! And I definitely think you would like it, although I'm not sure what I'm basing that on, haha. I will let you know if I end up crying...but I'm not sure I will. It's not That Good, it's just Good. ;) I've never seen River Kwai or Great Escape, but maybe someday!

  3. CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING NANO!!! I am so scared for your characters and so proud of you.

    Band of Brothers sounds AMAZING. I love war movies. Love love love them. Not that I've seen a whole bunch--it's difficult when you generally only watch stuff with your whole family and your family includes little kids, y'know. But jeepers. It sounds beautiful. Groups of men are like my favorite fictional trope ever, especially in that kind of situation that you describe, and yeah. Yeah. I'm very very interested in this. Especially because paratroopers. I should know way more about paratroopers than I do.

    Your quotes are always so much fun that I've taken to writing down quotes myself. XD

    And gee thanks, Samantha, now I need to go to DC! (I will, one day. I will.)

    Also your job sounds super intriguing. (I worked in a deli once! but we only dealt in cold meat, not, like, MEAT meat. There's a very big difference.) And 20 credit hours. Man. MAN. I thought I was tough for taking 19 this semester. :D Best of luck to you, my brave, brave sister in Christ.

    (Speaking of sisters in Christ, I'm glad to hear your had such a great experience on the retreat, cuz I signed up for one next semester on basically a total whim and--yeah. Looking forward to it.)

    HAPPY FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT. Gosh I am so excited.

    1. Thank you so much!! That means a lot. :)

      I think you would really like Band of Brothers! It's a little lighter on the character arcs/development than I usually watch, but there are still really beautiful moments where the men come together and <3. And the paratrooper element is super neat!

      Oh yay! I'd love to see some of your quotes on your blog at some point...

      You're very welcome, and please can I come with you when you go? XD

      It's definitely intriguing! Working in a deli sounds fun, too! We do some of that type of thing, but we mostly sell raw meat, not cooked, so yeah, it's a bit different. Um, everyone is reacting like that to my taking 20 hours, which makes me a little worried? But I honestly didn't have all that much trouble with 18, so can two more be that much worse?? I guess we'll see.

      (Hurrah! I hope you have an excellent time on retreat, and I'd love to hear all about it!!!)

      HAPPY CHURCH NEW YEAR! I'm so happy to be starting fresh at the beginning of the Church year. :)

  4. "there is no cosmic rule that once one has written 50k, the rest of the story writes itself. Which is quite irritating, in my opinion." <----- I concur. Also, WHY?! Books should totally write themselves after you've hit 50K. *nods*

    Loved reading your update! I'm so terribly horrible at actually commenting on posts lately. Life is... sort of careening out of control at breakneck pace lately around here. But it is always wonderful to come read your posts.

    That's interesting about what holds your attention in an art museum. I've never been super thrilled about going to an art museum in general. My favorites are usually landscapes, because they are often beautiful, views I wish I had from my window, and realistic. I'm sort of with Brian Regan when it comes to critiquing art, "Looks like a bowl of fruit. A+. Picasso... people don't have both eyes on one side of their face. Gonna have to subtract points for that." LOL

    Oh, Band of Brothers is soooo good. I've only actually seen about 3 episodes (it's not the sort of thing I can marathon my way through over Christmas break, which was when I was introduced to it some years back) and it's hard for me to watch. But I love it. And you really described it just perfectly.

    Funny story related to Band of Brothers: my parents used to have a DVD player that you could put parental controls on, so that it would mute out cuss words and then give you alternate words in subtitles so that you didn't miss the gist of what was being said... and we... turned that on for Band of Brothers... and it was... pretty hysterical.

    Happy December! I'm glad you're getting to have a nice break! (Oooh, the Air and Space museum is super cool. We have family that lives about 5 miles from there and got to go see it when we visited! So fun!)

    1. I KNOW! We have to make this happen...

      Thank you! I'm so glad you had time to comment, with life being crazy (something that I totally understand)!

      I'm now really curious about what different people like to look at in art museums and how long they spend at each painting...maybe I should do a sociology study. XD Landscapes are cool, too! Haha, with most art I'm with you on the method of art critique...I don't really "get" modern art.

      Isn't it great??? I agree, though, that it's not the sort of thing that one can binge, but I want to watch through it slowly all the way to the end...even if it takes a really long time.

      Oh my goodness, that story is HILARIOUS! I can just imagine what the TV player came up with...

      Thank you! Happy December to you, too! (It is so cool! I'm glad y'all got to see it, too!)

  5. "I won NaNoWriMo! I in fact won it before we were 2/3 of the way through the month. *hides* (What can I say, I'm really good at getting things done when they're for fun and not school related. XD"


    I came here to have a good time and honestly, I feel SO attacked. But SAME. Not only is that how my NaNo went, but I'm actually avoiding two 10 page papers right now *hides*

    But no Spitfire?! The OUTRAGE!!

    1. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!!! But all I can do is tell the truth, really...

      So, your NaNo went well? I'm glad to hear that! (But I hope you get on those 10 page papers...those things are the worst. I have much shorter papers to write, and I'm still avoiding them. XD)

      I KNOW, RIGHT? What is an Air & Space museum without a Spitfire?

    2. An AMERICAN Air & Space museum. Ah, sweet sarcasm. I think you rubbed off on me, Sam!

    3. Eomer! Give her a break!

      It is IN America, so that's what counts

    4. Eomer & Faramir, this is my one warning that you are not allowed to argue in my comment section ESPECIALLY in my responses to other comments. Further such conduct will result in the termination of your privilege of commenting on my blog.

      Loooove you! ;)

    5. Lol, yes its still a shame. I think the Smithsonian has a spitfire on display though!
      OR speaking of cool plane displays, the National Museum of the USAF is based near a base in Ohio and you should absolutely check it out if you're ever in that area. It has some of the Air Force One planes on display from past presidents and they're set up so you can actually walk through the plane!!

    6. Lol, yes it is! I'll have to go to the Smithsonian one one of these days!
      OOOOH I am not that far from Ohio right now? I might have to go? That would be AMAZING!

  6. I feel the same with how the year has flown by! It has been a wonderful year for me though, so many great things have happened in my first year of being an adult. And that picture is simply stunning!

    CONGRATS on winning NaNoWriMo! I couldn't imagine doing that along with school. You have talent for sure. :)

    Your job sounds amazing, partly because I'm taking A&P and it is so much fun! The amount of studying it takes is another story, but I wouldn't trade anything for the lab portion. We just finished muscles and now we're doing the nervous system. The human body is so cool! We also got to dissect a rat and a sheep brain, which was super interesting!

    Your trip to DC makes me want to visit even more. My friend is currently living out there doing missionary work with the Sisters of Charity. I've heard all about the Catholic area and I must visit one day!

    Kudos to you on taking 20 credits. That sounds...I don't know...hard/rough/nearly impossible, at least for me? I only have 12 this semester and next, but I wish you the best of luck!

    1. I feel like as we get older, the years are shorter and shorter? Which is really scary! But I'm glad it's been a wonderful year for you--it has been for me, too! Aww, thanks!

      Thank you so much! It was certainly a bit tricky at times.

      Ooh, your A&P class sounds like fun, too! I wish I'd gotten to do more technical dissections in HS and that I'll get to do more in college, but I think the closest I'll get to dissections is probably my job. :)

      You should totally go visit! That's amazing that your friend is working with the Sisters of Charity!

      Well, I haven't taken the 20 credit semester yet, so we'll see how it goes. Even twelve is nothing to sneeze at, so I hope that goes well for you!

  7. Congrats on winning Nano, seeing other people meet their word count, always makes me want to get back to mine. :D

    1. Thank you!! I hope your wordcount goes well. :)

  8. Congrats on Nano!! I don't know how you managed that with everything you have going on but dang, good for you!
    I loved not having context for the absentee estranged mother bit right away XD

    1. Thank you! *I'm* not entirely sure how I managed it with everything, to be honest. XD
      Haha, I'm glad that worked. :P

  9. People keep telling me that I should read A Man Called Ove... I am really thinking I should read it now.


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