2017: The End

Every year, Maribeth at Trekking Through Hobbit Holes  does a year-end tag; while I’ve occasionally done “year in review” posts, they’ve been pretty scattered and disorganized. So, I’ve stolen hers 🙂 I’d forgotten so much that had happened over 2017, and it took diving into my journal to remember everything that happened during the first several months of the year. 2017 wasn’t an easy year, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad one.

What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? I auditioned for a play at my college! I haven’t acted in over four years (and then it was for a school drama program, so the auditions were a bit different) so this was a big step for me. I’ve got a small part in a student-led production of Romeo and Juliet, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and do you have any for next year? The only resolution I made was to read more classics than any other book genre; I actually succeeded. (though it was a close one!)

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My resolutions for 2018: I don’t really make resolutions so much as goals. I want to keep up with my journal writing more, and I want to get physically fit. As far as writing goes, I want to get January Snow ready to be published by the end of the year, and I want to finish the first draft of my Little Mermaid retelling. There are other writing-things I’d like to work on, but if I just get those two accomplished I’ll feel like I made real progress.

Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant? My cousin announced at our Christmas celebration that she and her husband are going to have a baby, so that’s pretty exciting!

Did anyone close to you get married? Yes. One of my dearest (and oldest) friends tied the knot this summer. Their wedding was beautiful.

Did anyone close to you die? Only my sister’s two goldfish. Alas, Finn and Rey are no more. 😦

Travel? Nope.

Did you move anywhere? YES. Finally, after living in rentals (one in particular a terribly small little place) we moved into our brand-new beautiful house this past spring. It’s been such a blessing to have a place of our own.

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What was the best month? My sister Emily, my brother Harrison, and I had the house to ourselves two weeks in late July. Despite missing our parents and two youngest brothers, we had so much fun. We saw three movies in the theater (Spider-Man, Dunkirk, and Wonder Woman) rented one for home (The Dark Knight), made our favorite foods, and tried our hand at being Independent Adults.

What date(s) from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 13, 2017. My family and I stayed out late watching the meteor shower. Think blankets on the ground in the backyard, squealing, spilled coffee (sorry, Joey), siblings piled on each other and so much laughter as we all watched the stars and chatted. I tried to remember astronomy facts I learned in my spring course (but mostly just spouted Greek mythology facts instead), my sister fought for the electric blanket, and my youngest brother just tried to keep us all plied with coffee.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? What was your biggest failure? My biggest achievement was finishing the first draft of my first sci-fi novel. The accomplishment wasn’t just in finishing, but in the fact that I consistently wrote nearly every day and finished in a month. Another achievement would be the fact that I started working out at my school’s gym two days a week this fall and miraculously stuck with it. My biggest failure was probably in neglecting my journal. I hardly wrote anything.

Did you suffer illness or injury? Aside from some typical season-change colds, not really. Whoops-I had almost forgotten during that last week of July I suddenly was struck with severe back pain. I still don’t know what it was, but it lasted days and I could barely move. It finally got better around day 5, and then the next month it happened again. I still don’t know what the deal was.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My dad’s. He, my mom, and my two youngest brothers traveled up to Tennessee so he could donate stem cells to his brother, who had cancer (but who is now in remission!). It was a pretty grueling process, and I’m so proud of my dad for doing that.

Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed? Uhh…almost everyone on the internet? Whether it was on politics, fandoms, or religion, it seemed I couldn’t click on a single site without seeing profane, nasty, and idiotic comments on everything. And I’m just so sick of everyone celebrating sin.

Where did most of your money go? School books and clothes.

Who or what did you get really, really, really excited about? The end of the fall school semester. It was the most stressful semester that I’ve had thus far, and I was so ready for it to be over.

What song(s) will always remind you of 2017? So, my brother started college this fall, which meant that he, my sister, and I all carpooled. Since he was the driver, we’d listen to his Spotify playlists, and we’d turn up his “Girl Power” playlist which consisted of mostly Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. It was either that, or we’d sing along to 70s & 80s tunes. Fun times.

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What was an unexpected surprise? Um, my brother’s music choices?

Did you fall in love? *laughs* no.

What was the best concert you’ve been to this year? I didn’t attend any; I’m not much of a concert person. They get a little loud for me.

What were your favorite TV programs? I got Netflix this year, and as a result watched way too much TV. I can’t deny how deeply in love I fell with some of the stories, though. Leverage, Person of Interest, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,White Collar, and The Flash were the most notable ones.

What were your favorite films? I feel like this was a year with a lot of movies I really liked and enjoyed, but none that I fully loved. I (finally) saw The Dark Knight for the first time. I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would, probably because my expectations were so high because everyone always says that it’s the best of the Batman trilogy. It’s philosophically fascinating, though, and I’d like to watch it again. Wonder Woman was good. Thor: Ragnarak made me laugh a lot and  I *think* I liked The Last Jedi.

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One-eyed lightning Thor for the win

What was the best book you read? Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races stands out as being the most absorbing and dare I say magical? read that I dived into this year. You can read my review here.

Who was the best new person you met? I’m always meeting new people because every new class has a new crop of faces. But this year I’ve been blessed in cementing some wonderful friendships. Two of my friends and I were in a British novels class during the spring semester (yes! A British novels class! It was amazing) and I got to know them much better and we’ve had a lot of fun together this year.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? For my 23rd birthday my parents and I did our usual thing of hanging out in downtown Charleston, getting my birthday chocolates at the Godiva store, and then going out to eat.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? This year I weeded out a lot of my older clothing that was faded, dated, or just not my style anymore and actually started spending money on clothing that I like. My personal style is definitely a bit quirky-librarian-ish. I enjoy browsing wornontv.net because even if I don’t watch a show, I can usually find a TV character with a style similar to mine. I probably resemble Kara Danvers, Clara Oswald, and a toned-down Cassandra Cillian the most. (Clara’s one of my style icons, y’all. I don’t think there’s a single outfit of hers I don’t like.)

What political issue stirred or exhausted you the most? I’m not sure who I find more annoying: the hysterical Trump haters who think the man literally eats children, or the hysterical Trump supporters who would still defend him even if he did. I’m just tired of it.

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What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2017? That I’m human, and I make mistakes. That seems like such an obvious life lesson, because of course I know that I’m imperfect! But there are imperfections that I am, for lack of a better word, comfortable with. I know I can be thoughtless and selfish, for instance. But those are Faults™ that can be overcome. This year I’ve been trying to come to terms with the fact that being human means that sometimes I say stupid things, sometimes I’m horrifically awkward, and sometimes I just might embarrass myself. Those aren’t sins, but troubling, humbling imperfections that will plague me for however long I’m on this earth, and sometimes I just have to take a moment, sigh, and know that God loves me even when I say something ridiculous.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: I can’t think of a song, but if I was to take a symbolic snapshot of 2017, it would be of a galaxy full of stars. I took an astronomy class, enjoyed a meteor shower, wrote a science fiction novel (and watched several scifi TV shows). Learning about the vastness of outer space and our universe has only strengthened my belief in God and how incredibly amazing and creative He is.

Carina Nebula star system picture. #starsystem #space Please like http://www.facebook.com/RagDollMagazine and follow Rag Doll on pinterest and  @RagDollMagBlog @priscillacita https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/rag-doll-13744543 subscribe to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-CB-g60FwQ4U1sJ3ur-Bug/feed?
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When The History Fact Is a (Sort Of) Science Fact, Too

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I don’t know what your family does around the dinner table, but mine has a habit of sharing weird things that have happened at school. Sometimes, especially between my sister and me, these turn into a subtle wars of who-learned-the-most-interesting-or-gross- fact-today contests. Given our areas of learning, mine are usually history-related, and hers science-related, but that isn’t always the case, as this history fact is one that I happened to learn from her.

A couple of semesters ago, my sister had the opportunity to read a book on the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 for extra credit in one of her biology classes. Since we share a room, she’d periodically update me with interesting tidbits as she read through it.

The epidemic was significant not only for the sheer number of people it killed worldwide (about 100 million) but also because, in the words of the The Great Influenza, it “marked the first collision between modern science and epidemic disease.” While it’s a fascinating study from both a scientific perspective and a historical one, for the people living through it, it was terrifying. (The epidemic is notably absent from L.M. Montgomery’s novel of the Canadian homefront experience during The Great War, Rilla of Ingleside. Despite having been such a prominent issue and fear in real life, it’s not once mentioned in the book, perhaps because, not only did Montgomery contract the flu herself, but her best friend died of it. We can only assume its intensely personal effect on her life prompted it too painful to write about.)

Nursing During the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918

The desperation of the people affected by the pandemic cannot be overstated. The illness was so widespread that patient care became an incredible problem. According to John M. Barry:

It was impossible to get a doctor, and perhaps more impossible to get a nurse. Reports came in that nurses were being held by force in the homes of patients too frightened and desperate to allow them to leave. Nurses were literally being kidnapped. (The Great Influenza, pp. 276-277)

It sounds like something from a dystopian novel. The lack of nurses during the time came from a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most obvious was the fact that so many nurses were on the front caring for soldiers. It’s amazing what a crisis or disaster can do to society. Nurses literally being kidnapped to care for desperate, frightened families sounds like something more liable to happen in a movie or book than real life- but then again, real life sometimes is even crazier than what we put into fiction.

(also, another little fact: This strain of flu is often called the “Spanish Flu,” even though research suggests the flu actually originated in an army camp in Kansas. This is because when the outbreak occurred during the War, both sides only wanted to report positive news. Spain, being neutral, was therefore the first country to publicly report on the pandemic.)

And now, since I’ve uplifted your heart with that little ray of optimistic sunshine, have a lovely day and remember to wash your hands often, cough into your elbow, and for heaven’s sake, stay home if you don’t feel well.