CLOUD and Me

WAM Collective

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WAM Collective member, Laurel Darling, helping piece together CLOUD.

I have thought to myself several times since the beginning of my college career, this is the coolest thing I will ever do in my entire life. One of these times was the Friday morning that I came to WAM to help install Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garret’s CLOUD piece for the new exhibit, Clouds, Temporarily Visible. I was in awe when one of the artists, Caitlind, handed me a bag of lightbulbs and said, “Go for it.”

For a freshman like me who is not used to being around this much art, playing a role in the installation process was an amazing experience. Seeing the artists as real people whom I could talk to was unbelievable. I am so used to thinking of artists as distant people whom I will never interact with, like celebrities. So, I was surprised that the artists were so laid back…

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Books to Warm Your Heart

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Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and nothing screams love like reading in solidarity for hours on end. To prepare you for the day of love, I have come up with a wonderful list of books that I am more than happy to present you with. As many of you know, the only thing I love more than reading is feminism. Which is why, all of these amazing stories come from equally amazing female authors. This year’s top picks so far are from Colleen Hoover, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Huntley Fitzpatrick. With that line up who could go wrong?

November 9th by Colleen Hoover

I’m starting off strong with November 9th. What can I say? Colleen Hoover really knows how to do it. I still haven’t read Slammed but after how in awe I was after reading this one I might have to. November 9th starts off with a great idea and Hoover pulls off the intricate storyline with her realistic writing style and endless plot twists. This story was honestly a trip. It begins when Ben saves Fallon in a tough situation with her father, after that the two begin to fall in love as any other teenagers would do. The complication (of course) is that Fallon is moving across the country that night. The couple agrees to meet up every year with no contact besides that day so Ben can write a book about it. The couple sees each other through new lives, deaths, friendship drama and otherwise.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

After all the hype for this book I finally gave in and read it and boy, was it worth it. Anna and the French Kiss is about a girl who gets sent overseas for her final year of high school by her parents (honestly that sounds like a dream come true). At first, Anna resents that the decision was made for her, but as soon as she makes some new friends she kind of learns to deal with it. “Where does the french kiss come in?” one might ask. I will tell you, but not too much because I want you to actually read this book. Anna meets a boy in France and while she is falling in love with the city and the language she is also falling in love with the boy. But wait! What will happen to them when Anna has to go back to America?! For that one, you will have to read to find out.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins strikes again with Lola and the Boy Next Door and I am here to tell you all about it. Lola is an eccentric high schooler who is beginning to hang out with the wrong crowd because of her older boyfriend when, out of the blue, a friend (and a not-so-friend) move back into the house they occupied when they were younger. Lola finds her time being taken up by the pair of siblings that are back into her life as if they were never gone, and you guessed it, a love story is spawned. This book was a super fun read because Lola is not a conventional character and neither is Cricket or Calliope, they are all so different and interesting and their lives intersect in such a perfect way. Perkins does not disappoint with the characters from the first book, she brings Anna back even though the stories are completely different. This works with the story well, because their lives just fit together they way the do in works of fiction.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve read a lot of Stephanie Perkins this year, fight me. It was so worth the time it took up, the whole three days. Isla and The Happily Ever After was a beautiful end to a beautiful series of books. This book takes place between the states and France, combining elements of both the other books. There was a ton of overlapping of different character’s lives and stories and I live for that kind of stuff in writings. Although, Anna and Lola certainly have their difficulties in love, Isla really had a harder go of it than either of them. I actually really enjoy that in a love story because it’s more real to me. Real life is rarely perfect and although sometimes it’s nice to read an ideal life, sometimes it feels better when it’s the reader can relate. On top of being hopelessly in love, Isla has to deal with normal person problems too, like pesky sisters, and picking out a college and making the right decision for her and her friends, which is equally, if not more stressful. It was really a great read.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments is a love story about adults, and adults in strange circumstances at that. I know that is a rare thing to find on this mostly YA blog, but here we are. Many relationships these days begin with the internet, but not the way Rowell sets this story up. I would say that Lincoln is the main character and he has a not very interesting life. Lincoln is what one might call a nerd. He lives with his mom, he plays Dungeons and Dragons, and keeps going to school because he doesn’t know what he wants to do and works in a newsroom screening computer usage. I liked Lincoln, he was doing the best with what he could with what he had and just figuring things out, kind of like we all are. Lincoln’s strange job leads him to (kind of) meet Beth and Jennifer. Lincoln gets to know Beth the way us readers get to know characters in a book, because his job is to screen emails and web history, Beth’s included. As you can imagine they encounter a few bumps with the whole privacy thing but over all it was a good book.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Whaaat?!? A second Rainbow Rowell book?! I know, I’m literally in love and it’s ridiculous. I loved both of these books equally and they were both so different. When an author can do very well in different types of stories I am just in awe of this author’s skill. Attachments was a book in a world that could actually happen, Carry On was a completely different kind of amazing. It was an adventure romance for all the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter lovers out there. This story takes place in a school for magic and, Simon, the main character orphan and most powerful magician of all time, spends all his time trying to protect the magical world from the Insidious Humdrum all the while trying to prove that his roommate is a vampire. It does have some Harry Potter similarities but honestly they didn’t cross my mind until I was writing this post right this second, there are so many differences though and this just might be my favorite love story I’ve read all year which is saying something. This one is just so different and it can’t be put into categories.  Seriously read this one.

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The only reason I only have one Huntley Fitzpatrick book on this list is because I read all of her books previous to this post. If you read My Life Next Door, The Boy Most Likely To is the perfect addition to your reading list. The characters are from the first book but this time around the story is focused on Nan’s brother Tim. The Garrett’s definitely have quite the presence in this book because they welcome Tim into the garage bedroom to get his life together. Like any time anyone ever has tried to get their life together, there are a few unexpected mishaps. Overall this book is worth your time and I am very impressed with this book and this author. I think Huntley Fitzpatrick has enough promise to be the next Sarah Dessin.

Mexico

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After a long first semester at college, winter break was welcomed with open arms. A change of scenery, my own room, and meals made not entirely of tater tots were all I can think of in December, leading up to my departure from Minnesota. Although I had spend time away from home every summer since I was old enough, last semester was the longest I have ever been gone and it was a big change. So it was so nice to get back home and spend some time with my family. And that’s exactly what we did. Shortly after Christmas, my entire family got on a plane and set off for Cancún, Mexico. Seven days of uninterrupted family time on the beach. It was perfect.

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Most of our days were spent at our hotel, Grand Oasis, without much of a plan. As a natural early-riser, I had many mornings to myself to do some reading, some photography, drink lots of coffee, and ocean-side yoga. I really value travelling and getting out in the world, which is why I want to find a career with travel as a main aspect. Even in at the resort my family stayed at it was very easy to find a whole other piece of myself. Everyone can benefit from a little time to think about their lives, and for me it’s so much easier in a new environment. While wandering around the beach, I realized that some things that are very important to me I don’t put enough time into when I get busy with school and work and general life things. Reading, writing, art, and yoga take a backseat to homework and college and I need to do a better job of living my life with balance. As a nineteen year old, I have a lot to learn about myself and the world, but every time I leave home I learn a little bit more. Of course, family vacation rarely revolves around self-discovery and there was much more to the trip than that.

I really, really enjoyed the days that I spent just reading on the beach, but I also really loved going out into the town and exploring what else Cancún had to offer. We made a ton of trips to the local outlet mall, determined to stock up on clothing from Zara and lime flavored Fritos. One night we made the trip to Senior Frog’s which was more than worth it, the whole family had a great time and the staff was so fun. As a family of five with three teenage girls, it’s not often that we can all find a place we enjoy. Plus, we saw a super huge crocodile on our walk over to it and I got a good picture. We all really enjoyed the night life and overpriced ice cream, but the absolute highlight of our family vacation was the Talum/Xel-Ha combo.

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Before we left for this trip, my parents talked about this being the last time we went to Mexico together. With that in mind I was determined to see the Mayan ruins and after several days of pleading with my family that it was important, I got my way. My dad and I got one a separate bus from my mom and my sisters at 6:45 in the morning for the two hour ride to the site. Once we were there, we were separated into the English speaking group and took a simple little tour around the ruins. It was amazing to see and hear about but I was more than a little disappointed that I was not allowed to climb up the stairs and wander around the temples and buildings. It was pretty hard to take good pictures so that was kind of a bummer, but it was worth the experience. And my dad bought me a coffee so all in all the morning was an experience.

The day didn’t even really take off until we got to Xel-Ha to meet up with the rest of my family. That place knows how to do tourism. It was like Wisconsin Dells, but with more fish and more nature. There was snorkeling, water bridges, a beautiful garden, and we even got Mom to jump off the small cliff. I definitely recommend it if you are in the area. We all had tons of fun, even though some guy stole my flippers and googles while I was ziplining. You win some, you lose some.

My family is interesting and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything. I am so grateful that I was able to spend so much time with them over break because I hardly ever see them now that I go to school in a different state. I miss them sometimes, but you’ll never grow as a person if you always do what you’ve always done.

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