Thursday, July 26, 2012

NYC Day 1/2

Hello readers!! I am so, so sorry that I did not blog over the past week about my New York vacation :( But I had an absolutely amazing time, and I have the pictures to prove it! I will make each blog entry correspond to each day I was there, so get ready for a whole slew of pictures and random comments :)

Saturday, July 14th:
Ok, so nothing happened that day. We drove out of Naperville at 9:30 (two hours later than expected; my sister and I were very irritated) and drove all the way to Clearfield, Pennsylvania, where we were staying for the night. On the drive there, I read a whole mystery novel (by James Patterson; it was REALLY good), listened to just about every single song on my iPod, ate, and bugged my sister. It was hilarious. When we reached the hotel, my parents went out to get gas and (hopefully) find food. Jill and I roamed around the hotel and watched The Big Bang Theory until they returned. Apparently, the town of Clearfield was extremely depressing (Pennsylvania IS a depressing state) and there wasn't an actual food establishment to get takeout there. We went to bed very hungry. Harumph.

Sunday, July 15th
My family got up really early, left, got Dunkin' Donuts(!), and hit the road once more. Once again, I read another mystery novel and listened to my iPod. It got really boring. But, once we hit the New Jersey highways and saw signs that read, NEW YORK CITY 20 MILES, then I was pumped! We got into Jersey City around 11:30, checked into our VERY nice hotel (The Westin at Newport. I recommend it), called our friends to let them know we were coming in to Brooklyn, and headed to the subway.  

Our subway station in Lower Manhattan. I was sitting next to two French guys and was trying to figure out what they were saying! 

Ok, here's the real deal on the subway: it's not that bad. Yes, you will sit next to strangers and stand awkwardly in their face. But it is a convenient, cheap mode of transportation that millions of people take everyday and if you asked me to choose between the subway and a taxi, I would take the subway.

Eventually, we made it into Brooklyn and walked into the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. I really like it there; it was a quaint but contemporary neighborhood with beautiful brownstone buildings and a nice park with a promenade you could walk on by the river. Plus it was where my parents met, so that was really sweet :)

We met up with my mom's friend and she took us up to the rooftop deck on her apartment building where I saw the most beautiful views in all of Brooklyn, if not New York City. It was probably the only time in my life where I've been completely speechless and blown away, which is saying something! Let's see if you had the same reaction as I did:

 Here's Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower! 
There's the Empire State Building against the concrete jungle....
Some random person's rooftop decor I liked.   

After this, the five of us walked down to the extremely snobby River Cafe for refreshments, took a walk in a park by the Brooklyn Bridge, and went to dinner in an open air restaurant where I had a delicious flat bread pizza.
The Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO! (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass, that is)


Just a sliver of the skyline! Pretty, though...


Does this look like a roller coaster to anyone else?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Two Day Vacay!

As many of you who read this blog live in the suburbs, I can imagine that life for you is as mundane and routine as it is for me. So to break it up, I just made two day trips! 

On Wednesday, my mom had a doctor's appointment at Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago, and my sister and I hopped on for a free ride into the city. We both went and had lunch, shopped around, and ate some delicious Red Mango that is MUCH better than the Red Mango shop we have here in Naperville. (For those of you that don't know, Red Mango is an up-and-coming frozen yogurt place catering to yuppies who live in the city and hipsters who live in the suburbs). We met back up with my family and we went home, glad to have the distraction of the city for the day. I love going into the city as much as I can because the suburbs are much too boring for me and all of the theaters that I love are there, plus the college I want to go to is there (Columbia of Chicago!). 

Yesterday, my mom's friend invited us up to Union Pier, Michigan for the day. After almost getting lost on the expressway, we made it to the town and headed to the beach immediately. Now, I usually don't like lakes because I am an ocean person and it just feels, I don't know, right, swimming in the Atlantic for me, but the water yesterday was beautiful, calm, and it felt like our party of five were the only people on the beach. I hadn't been to the Union Pier/New Buffalo area of Michigan in forever, so it felt great to be back at a place where there is a natural body of water. 

Tomorrow, I am leaving for New York City! I will keep everyone posted on my vacation and put up pictures and blog (hopefully) daily about my trips into Manhattan! Stay posted, readers!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Reading Reviews

Well it's finally done! All of the required books I had to read to start my sophomore year are completed with essays written for each one. Who's the procrastinator now?
For both Honors English II and AP European History, I had to read two books each, all four from  different backgrounds. Since I spent so much time and effort on them, I will give a book review on each so maybe you will find one interesting and read it (Or not. Whatever).  

For Honors English II, I read the novel Into The Wild, by Jon Krakauer. It chronicles the short life of Christopher Johnson McCandless, who after his graduation from college donates all of the money in his bank accounts to charity, burns all of his cash, gives up most of his worldly possessions, and hits the road to hitchhike to Alaska to live in the wild, unbridled of the problems of the world he left behind. Along the way, he encounters many communities and touches the lives of countless people while he left behind a loving family. His odyssey was one of solitude and soul searching, but right as he is about to return to society after four months of isolation, he tragically dies of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. When I first started the book, I thought, "Nutcase kid, wilderness, early death, etc. blah blah blah." But as the book unraveled the life of McCandless and his goals, hopes, and dreams, I was moved by his quest and felt inspired by the events that transpired. It's an awesome book for adventure seekers and anyone who feels compelled to sit and think for a while. 

The second book I read for Honors English II was the novella The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It is a memoir of sorts and weaves a tale of culture and adolescence effortlessly against the background of a poor Latin neighborhood in Chicago. Although it is a critically acclaimed novel for the ages and I did find some interesting passages while reading, I found it to be a boring, complex book that did not have to be told in a series of vignettes spanning one hundred and ten pages. The whole story could have been told in less than twenty pages. If you do want to read it, I would recommend it for those of you who like to learn about different cultures and those who like memoirs and short reads. 

Now onto the opposite end of the spectrum, history! 

The first book I was required to read was Out Of The Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. It tells the story of the heretic genius Michael Servetus, who wrote one of the most controversial books in Christianity to date, was burned at the stake for it, and all of his copies of the work destroyed along with him. However, throughout history, three different copies of the book continued to crop up among different owners in various parts of Europe, and later, the United States. The book delves deeper into Servetus's background and the ideas, reformers, inventions, and political/religious masterminds of his day to create a man who is know for ushering in the Renaissance Age and being the first "Renaissance Man". It is a work of nonfiction and I can't imagine most teenagers reading it for fun, but if you are a fan of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, etc. this book is for you.  

This fourth and final book I will be describing was the second book I had to read for AP Euro. Thankfully, we were able to pick a work off a whole list of books, so I chose The Lady and The Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier. It is a historical fiction novel that takes readers through medieval France and Brussels on a romantic romp that tells the story of the painter Nicolas des Innocents who is commissioned to design six tapestries for a French noble. There, in Paris, he falls in love with the noble's daughter, Claude, and is separated from her when he goes to Brussels to weave the tapestries and clashes with the talents of the various guilds while there.......and falls in love with the daughter of the weaver who is finishing his beloved tapestries! It is a choice for Nicolas and the story is told through the different perspectives of the members of both families he stays with. Nicolas eventually moves on, but his love for these women lingers in the figures of his tapestries, which tell the story of the seduction of a unicorn by the aforementioned lady. I LOVED this book because it was rich in detail and it was interesting to hear all sides of the story from at least ten different perspectives. I recommend it for ANY girl, especially one who loves history, romance, drama, and art (or all of those combined!).

To all who are reading this blog, if you don't know me I am a very avid reader, so I will be giving book reviews every once in awhile. I hope you may pick up a copy of one of these and enjoy them!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


In our society, there are several activities one can do either alone or in a group. One of these is rollerblading. You can rollerblade alone for exercise, to go flying down your street, exhilarated in isolation for an hour or two while you get to watch suburban life plod along. In a group, you can go on a local path for exercise or to a roller rink with your friends, which disguises the exercise, but not the fun! 
Last night, some of my friends and I decided to form a group and go rollerblading at the area's roller rink. We used to go when our elementary school would hold skate parties, but that wasn't as fun because we were younger and couldn't stand on our own two feet with skates on without our parents holding us up. Now, we have our own skates and fully developed balance, not to mention cell phones, so we all go out whenever we get the chance! 
It was really hot last night, so we only stayed for about three hours or so, but we had fun being silly out on the floor and coming around a person to scare them. However, the music wasn't that great (lots of dubstep) and the food overpriced ($6 for a small plate of fries? Really?), but I didn't care. As long as I could do something with my closest friends, I was happy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 4th of July on the 3rd of July

Happy Independence Day! 

While today is usually known as the day our founding fathers declared independence from Great Britain, it will also be known as one of the hottest days of the 21st century. Triple digit temperature records are being set across the country. And what better way to celebrate the holiday but with a 4th of July party the day before AND outside in the heat!

Well, that's what was on my agenda yesterday, and was it a party! The Aurora Country Club does know how to throw a soiree.  

My family was invited by our close friends and it is a sort of tradition between us. My sister, Jill, our friend, Julia, and myself spent the evening traipsing across the immaculate golf course, drinking to beat the heat, and taking crazy pictures with random objects. The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks show, which NEVER disappoints! 

Enjoy the pix!    

I swear, this girl and I could be sisters! Then my real sister shows up....

A view of the party with me and Jill!
 On the green!
Our version of box height! (It's a marching band thing.)
Just a little bit of the gorgeous ACC golf course.

Last night's fireworks! The show went on for a full twenty minutes!

Have a happy Fourth of July! And stay cool, America. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Happy First of July! 

This weekend, I went up to Galena, Illinois with my family. We have a second home there, which I am not really a fan of because I'm more of an urbanite, but my parents love it up here. We really like to do things as a family up here, which brings us closer. For instance, today we decided to rent a boat and go out on the lake. It was really fun, but a little hot and my sister and I got into an argument before and we made faces at each other the whole time. 
But that's pretty normal. 
Anyway, since I just got my permit I decided to drive the boat a little, which was enjoyable, but I have to say I like driving a car much more. I feel like I'm more in control. 
The weather is beautiful and we hope to do more up here this weekend!