Snug Shelving Itenary

I have four bookcases in my room – one even twice as large as the others, so rounding up to five might be fair. I keep a lot of different books around for a lot of different reasons. Some I love, some I used to love, some I still keep coming back to. There are some that I have never gotten around to reading even after years, and at this point I suppose it’s likely that I never will.

I’ve stayed in a couple different college dorms, and all of them have had a desk for each occupant, with varying degrees of accommodating shelvature. Regardless of what I’m given, I definitely plan on maintaining a little bookshelf in my dorm next year.

I can find it very soothing to make little lists of the books I know I either mean to acquire or bring with me onwards into my adult life. I thought it would be equally soothing to flesh out that list on this blog, so I’m giving it a try.

  • Harry Potter (The only copy I have separate from the Very Fragile Paperback Set of the household is the Sorcerer’s Stone, so I dream of acquiring my own box set? Fresh, new, and intact.)
  • Books by Tamora Pierce: my Song of the Lioness Quartet, and the Trickster’s Choice/Queen Duology. My copies of her other books will be in safe hands with Benjamin.
  • Books by Malinda Lo: Ash, the lesbian cinderella that fills my heart with joy, and Huntress, the somehow even gayer super-pre-quel.
  • Books by William Gibson: Pattern Recognition, Neuromancer, the collection of short stories Burning Chrome. Count Zero will probably end up tagging along.
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, only those are both Large Hardcovers so we shall have to see!
  • Evolution by Stephen Baxter. And probably the other books I have of his (Flood, Ark, Stone Spring) if I don’t get around to reading those. Because I want to get around to reading those. But they’re not as important to me as these other books, to be on my Important Book Bookshelf
  • Books by Tolkien (you all knew this was coming): a LoTR box set of my very own, with the Alan Lee watercolor covers, one of those adorable amazing tiny little editions of the Hobbit, and… I can’t believe I don’t have my own copy of the Silmarillion yet. At least I bought one and gave it to Alex so that she could not read it? Also, if Benjamin lets me snag his copy of Unfinished Tales.
  • Ender’s Shadow, of course! And Shadow of the Hegemon, (quite possibly accompanied by Ender’s Game itself, although that’s less of a given.)

That’s all I can think of! But it’s quite possible that something has slipped my mind, so… suggestions are welcome? I’m 99% sure that commenting is a thing one could Do.


4 Gays + Clarissa*

*working title

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture



Katherine Waterston as Julia


Jackie Chan as Alex


Claire Danes as Clarissa


Deborah Ann Woll as Emma


and Ryan Reynolds as Hannah

When Julia Borthwick leaves orchestra rehearsal one day, she witnesses the unusual: a cult of violinists led by her soon-to-be concertmaster successor, attempting to summon aliens to their school. Her entire world turns upside down when a mysterious race of the interstellar consequently enslaves the students at Grady High School to their bidding- most notably the frightening, ominous productions Julia’s theater friends are forced to put on. Meanwhile, a dark cloud of its own nefarious origin has descended upon the robotics shop, imprisoning the entire team in build season purgatory. It will be Julia’s task to save her friends, the school, and potentially… the entire world.

~ Squad film pitch, courtesy of Alexendrea Len

Start of a Season


This past Wednesday I resumed rehearsals with the Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra, and we received our music for the upcoming concert. For the first time, our smaller chamber-orchestra-esque winter concert will include winds, which is always exciting. We are playing Leia’s Theme, in tribute to Carrie Fischer, Pavane pour une infante defunt by Ravel (in a similar vein – “precession for a dead princess”), and the first movement from the Lord of the Rings Suite by Johan de Meij, Gandalf.

It won’t surprise anyone that I almost jumped out of my skin with excitement to be playing LotR music in any form, let alone THE ORIGINAL LOTR MUSIC. Which, by the way, has a FANTASTIC viola part. Is every movement like this? I honestly don’t know, but de Meij has given the violas some amazing solos and I can’t get enough.

(I was fantasizing the whole class, as you do, of Prior somehow finding it worthwhile to ask if anyone knew anything about Gandalf’s backstory, perhaps as it might be influencing a part of the music, and I would step up all “Well, his original name was Olorin, and he was one of the Maiar, higher order beings akin to angels or minor gods, and he was among the five Istari, or wizards, sent to Middle Earth by the goddess Nienna to guard against the return of Sauron, and actually he didn’t want to go at all……..” I don’t know why I do this to myself.)

One nice moment I did have courtesy of Prior earned the viola section some laughs and some brownie points, which was wonderful. He was asking the entire violin section why their tone wasn’t unified and why they thought that was, and there was a long silence, and then I piped up in my soft-tentative-question-type-cadenced voice all “placement of the bow???” and he pivoted around and said “And the answer comes from the violas!!! Violins! What is going on!” Everyone laughed and my section looked happy, and I felt fizzy and proud. Before we started playing he said, “let’s start in the same place of the bow, thank you violas!” and as he cued us in he said “thank you, Julia,” and it was kind of great. I feel like I’ve only ever heard him call me Ms. Borthwick, before, that I can remember, but my name sounds so nice in his accent.

It continues to feel like the principal violist likes me? Which is great, because I like her. It would be really nice to be her friend. (Or more than a friend?????? Not something I’ve actually devoted thought to, but hey. Not taking it off the table.)

Because I’m on a super groovy plan to Actually Practice this semester, I hope EYSO will be more enjoyable than ever for my final two seasons. Stay tuned!


Requiem for a Day

I feel wilted right now.

It’s been just a bit of a wilted day.

I’m relatively underslept and my period started yesterday, and I am having a painfully subdued day. Aside from bleeding all over everything, I have occupied myself with anticipating how tired I’ll be tomorrow, curling up into small balls, and generally stewing in a depressive fog.

This morning, Mackenzie in orchestra held out two fingers that had gotten cut slightly working on the set, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Normally wounds don’t look like that, or there’s blood to cover it up, but it hit me pretty hard. I’ve never seen any injury looking that way anywhere else around me before, and it was a bit of a slap in my face.

I came home and somehow my energy just melted. Or transformed into anxiety, I don’t know. But I felt nervous and exhausted and unhappy the way I do before a long rehearsal, but there was nothing at all on my schedule for the night. That was… frustrating. I couldn’t wheedle myself out of the anticipatory mindset towards the burden of a rehearsal tomorrow night. Twas disgruntling.

I was left with narry a gruntle to be found.

The late evening has been better, and I’ve had some nice conversation with wonderful people. I’m already feeling significantly more animated than when I first embarked on this post an hour or two ago. I just don’t know how to avoid all-consuming wraith-moods like these, but I want to be able.


I’ve never been consistent about New Years resolutions; typically I dedicate myself more to the creation of resolutions on Rosh Hashanah, in the fall, and consider the matter settled until next September.

This has been an important New Years, however; my last one before Official Legal Adulthood. I didn’t have resolutions at the ready January 1st, but in anticipation of my birthday on the 12th, I’ve decided to put effort into a concentrated list. Thusly, behold:

Julia’s New-Year-In-Addition-To-Entering-Adulthood Resolution Extravaganza


  1. Communicate, when needed, in a timely manner. Get used to emailing and calling people, even when you are intimidated by the prospect. Handle your plans, your financial situation, your academics, everything as needed via the routes of communication available to you.
  2. Schedule your time. Schedule blocks of homework, blocks of art, blocks of resting. It will make all of those areas that more effective, and better preserve your energy throughout the day.
  3. Study. Study hard. I don’t know why you’ve been underperforming so badly in Calculus so far this year, but you have the ability to recover. Just do all the homework and practice and studying, don’t give up, don’t feel discouraged. You know you have this in you, and you know how to increase your chances.
  4. Explore new ways to please yourself through art. You feel like you’re stagnating, like there’s no point in doodling when you always doodle the same constipated designs. There’s plenty out there to brighten your way. Be inspired, not discouraged, by those who you admire.
  5. Take care of yourself. Go to sleep at a nice hour, give yourself time to wake up in the morning. Take your meds every day. Pack food when you need food, eat in the morning. Shower, or take a bath. Simple, essential stuff.
  6. Document. Write things down, here or on paper, in your agenda or in a notebook. Take pictures – use your new camera! Go out and document what your life looks like now, posterity is important to you. Make albums. Get good pictures of all your friends, of you with them, of the places you know before they change.
  7. Engage in things that matter to you. Be the best concertmaster you can be, show leadership in every way that you can, step up to what would be helpful. I believe in you, I know you have that energy in you somewhere. Throw yourself into your AP art exhibition, into studying personal interests, into organizing your workspace. Fill your life with the big rocks first, the little rocks later.
  8. Practice! This is quite possibly your last ever semester of private violin lessons. These will be your last recitals! Make them count. Take the time you have again, use your senioritis to advance yourself. Make your parents proud, make yourself feel good. Practice for orchestra, that’ll make everything so much less painful. Do everyone a favor.
  9. Do work around the house without prompting. Get back into that litter box groove, wash the dishes so that Mom won’t have to, keep your bathroom clean. Empty trashcans regularly! And keep toilet paper supplies up in the bathroom pls
  10. 🙂

Re: Movie Escapism

Presenting a self-examination of my recent moviegoing infatuation

Movies, comic books, and outlets of fantasy as a whole have been valued by Americans since the early 20th century. It has always been refreshing for our society to watch good triumph evil or see the underdog rising above their station. It isn’t an epiphany to anyone that movies are cathartic during periods of tension, but I’ve been looking deeper to examine my own personal attachment.

In recent months in particular, I have buried myself in fantasy films – Rogue One, Moana, and in particular Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Fantasy films are founded in the reality of human experience, with certain elements distorted. The circumstances of a movie elicits emotional responses from its characters, often evoking empathy and catharsis in viewers. We see our characters, be they isolated or gifted or “chosen”, undergo difficulties and setbacks, failures and anxieties, fears and vulnerabilities. These backstories and storylines are crafted to emulate experiences that viewers may have had. Everyone has characters they can relate to, and all of those characters are prone to struggles.

We as viewers might have had similar burdens and traumas as a given character, but a fantasy movie will exaggerate this upset for their character, either by cause or effect. In the Harry Potter books and films, the major characters are outsiders. However, the story augments the impetus for their loneliness, or the consequences of their isolation in such a way that it forms an important plot, imbuing their troubles with a sense of import and relevance. That relevance, that notion of cosmic entitlement to problems that matter, is something that can be hard to find.

Recently, I’ve been having a very hard time, in school and in general. I struggle with depression, with the stress of college applications and calculus, the leadership responsibilities I’ve been grappling with in my orchestra. It is hard for me to feel like my own hardships are important, when so many friends and acquaintances are dealing with grades and health and home environments so much worse.

In movies, the problems the characters are having matter. Their problems are a focal point in the film. Other characters notice and respond to their struggles, and the presence of an audience inherently validates their concerns.

I have always loved fictional stories, worlds, and characters. I have always been fascinated by fantasy settings, and intrigued by punchy science fiction. There are tons of reasons that I might read a book or watch a film, but I believe that it is this validation of characters that has provided such an addictive escape for me in the theaters, this past month or so.

I just want to imagine a world where my problems are ones that matter.


Everyone seems to be in despair about the early dismissal tomorrow and the cancellation of weekend and potentially Monday activities, for a myriad of valid reasons and conflicts, but I’m as happy as I’ve ever been!

I realized last week that this was my Last Chance to pray for snowfall to come through and completely shut down the city for a day or more. Being such a cornerstone of my winter experience, it hadn’t occurred to me before that I mightn’t spend further days crossing my fingers in delightful anticipation of a 1 inch blizzard. Only one inch because this is Atlanta, and one inch is all it takes for every activity in which I partake to grind to a grudging halt.

The potency of my hope correlates with the potency of the Theoretical Event – all my wishing has to squeeze out of the universe is a measly twinkling of snow to achieve my aim.

I don’t mean to be bragging about how happy I am to avoid things – there are certainly exceptions to that avoidance, fore one – but I can’t pass up any way of relishing this final stand of a snow day’s delight. Even if I stay in Atlanta for college, as I just as well might, I imagine that things will be more important and more enjoyable to attend than anything I’ve slogged through in high school, and thus a snow day might bring me more regret and anxiety than relief, an effect it is already having on my friends.

I made myself write this out and post it, no matter how droll, because my brain has gone dull and bemused tonight, and I’d quite like to joggle it into a focused, productive state, if not a happy one. Cheers.