Summer Reading: Contested Will by James Shapiro

First book of the summer down! And what a lovely, gripping book it was!

Ever since my first introduction to Shakespeare in middle school, I have been aware of the authorship question. However, the topic never intrigued me quite enough to do significant research. I knew who the big contenders were–Earl of Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon–and why they were candidates–educated, intriguing, established. I could have a superficial conversation, but not much else.

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#SmallTales: Derelict

She estimated she had thirty minutes before heat and laziness pushed her back inside, but that would be enough to cure her stir craziness.

After scrawling “Going on a bike ride. Be back soon” to ease excitable minds, she set off.

The cacophony of cicadas provided the sound track, and she followed her gut, passing construction sites and summer condos and gated communities.

Her instinct led to a dead end. Turning to retrace her tracks, she stopped; peaking through the forest, the ghost of a house caught her eye. Maybe she could last more than half-an-hour.

Baccalaureate Speech: Identity

I was asked to speak at my baccalaureate speech at Messiah College for the graduating class of 2015. Some people have expressed interest in having a copy of my speech, so I decided this was as good a place as any to post it! Enjoy:

In recent months, I’ve noticed a common term cropping up in articles and books (and baccalaureate speeches) geared towards my demographic: the quarter-life crisis. And that term seems to encapsulate the identity crisis most of us feel on the brink of. To compensate, quizzes clog our newsfeeds offering to figure out what color we are and what our name means and which character from that cult classic film we should date. In 140 characters, we announce to the world what we are thinking, and we broadcast our adventures—whether they are running a marathon or marathoning a TV show—through Instagram. I will admit, I carefully tailor my different social media accounts—Facebook, Twitter, and blog—to appeal to the people that frequent them. On those platforms, I craft my identity: I choose exactly who sees what and where and when as well as what filter or hashtag accompanies it.

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#SmallTales: Candle

The worst part wasn’t the nudity, or costly refurnishing. The worst part was the constant retelling…

During a tour of the house: Our bathroom is the most recently updated, because one time Edmund was doing his business…

While looking at photo albums: … and he brought a book to pass the time…

Or randomly at meals: He didn’t realize Dad lit a candle on the back of the toilet. When he put his reading behind him to finish up, it caught and he screamed and ran out with his trousers around his ankles and a trail of burning toilet paper!

#SmallTales: The Upper Hand

In a world of modesty, she had the upper hand. Other girls had to hide their best assets, smothering curves and covering skin, counting on a dowry or demure smile to ensure their future. Not her.

Despite a comely complexion, she drew the attention of all the eligible (and ineligible) men.  Using a fan attracted unabashed stares, removing gloves brought the minister to distraction, and doing needlework out of doors could cause carriage accidents.

In a few decades, the tables would turn, but for now, the best inheritance a young lady could wish for was delicate smooth hands.