10 things, college edition

it’s that time of year (fall-ish) when loads of children, teens, undergrads, grads, teachers and professors return to school and so it’s fitting that i came across this post by maureen johnson. i forwarded it to sister E because, you see folks, the youngest mumford (E) has up and gone to college. and my parents? they’re leaving for a 3 week cruise. empty nest, what?

anyways, sister E asked me to give her my own set of advice. i’m no MJ (maureen johnson OR michael jackson), but i figured i could give the college giving advice the old college try. here’s my top 10 list of things i wish i’d known before entering my freshman year in college.

(1) freshman travel in packs. everywhere. to the dining halls. to orientation meetings. to class.

it’s because none of you really know your way around campus and so when one person is going “to the quad”, you all join in. it’s fine and it’s fun and you’ll meet a lot of people that way. but it also makes you stick out. get used to hearing “FRESHMAN” yelled at you. and just know that when you holler down the hall “i’m leaving in 5 minutes for dinner,” you’ll probably get 15 people joining you. it’s the freshman mentality. embrace it because it’s okay to walk around campus as one big glob of freshman nerves, though only for that first semester.

(2) you might think this is cute:

but your roommates, suite-mates, hall-mates will not. don’t bother hanging up the poster unless you’re okay with lots of ridicule. (it took me 2 months to take mine down.)

(3) in high school, you know everyone by their first and last name. and have known some of them since kindergarten. but in college, no one has a last name.

who knows why. you just only learn their first names. even if you have four jennifer’s on your hall, they’ll all go by some variation of their first name. jen, jenn. jenny. jennyo. jennifer.

(4) frozen yogurt is delicious after any meal.

yes, even breakfast. (maybe this is just at my school. maybe this is why i gained the freshman 15.)

(5) early morning classes are the opposite of fun.

especially since college night life starts late. when you’d normally be going to bed? yeah, in college, that’s when you’re getting ready to go out. so an 8am class? it hurts. but you’re bound to have them your first semester of college because the administration scheduled them for you. after that first semester, though, you get to pick your classes and times. tip: don’t schedule any classes before 10am, noon if you can.

(6) email becomes your lifeline to both the outside world (family, HS friends) and inside the college bubble.

before i went to college, i never checked email. i don’t think i even had an account.  (yes, that makes me sound old. i swear, i’m really not.) i remember on the campus tour, the guide said something about how wired JMU was and how he checked his email 6x a day. i thought that was a lot. and in the fall of 1999, it was. but then i arrived on campus and would check it 6x an hour. prepare yourself. or, perhaps your already are? you kids with your smart phones these days. however, don’t underestimate the power of checking your mailbox. and finding a handwritten letter. or a “you’ve got a package” slip.

(7) even the best of friends would fight if forced to live in a room the size of a china cabinet, so you and your roommate who never met before moving in together? there might be some tension as you learn things you did and didn’t want/need to know about each other in the way that only living in a teeny, tiny room forces you to do. so you better learn how to communicate.

or get a good set of earphones and crank up your music so loud, it drowns out the sound of her talking. or find a friend down the hall whose room you can crash in until the storm blows over.

(8) no matter how much you were craving independence, you will miss mom and dad more than you anticipated. (or, maybe that’s just my mom and dad).

and though you may not realize it, they gave you the proper tools you need to succeed. your tool box may be unorganized and disheveled right now, but they’re all in there. it’s up to you to figure out when the situation calls for a screwdriver (the tool or the OJ variety) or a hammer.

(9) there is no alarm clock or parent or teacher to keep after you to do your homework.

you have to figure out to organize your time and stay motivated. because when kelly and lisa come in giggling and wearing winter hats and parkas on an august afternoon, it’s going to be hard to resist joining in on the shenanigans. and remember, go talk to your teachers! when you’re stuck in a freshman class with the other 900 incoming freshman, your professor won’t know that the D on your paper is because you were confused rather than you decided to party instead. go to their office hours. show them you care.

(10) even though you’re the low man on the totem pole, HAVE FUN.

you’re about to meet some of the most amazing people. and create some of your fondest memories. and have some sad times. and be stressed about schoolwork. but you’re living and learning and becoming an adult. there’s no better way to do that than by living on your own. (while still funded by mom and dad.)

any tips i missed? anything to add?



i was going to call this post great expectations, but it turns out i’ve already written a post entitled that. not to mention, there’s a very well known book by that name. so instead of plagiarizing myself* and that book, i called this masterpiece anticipation-ville.

and that’s today’s theme.

anticipated event: the release of MOCKINGJAY, the third book in the hunger games trilogy.

payoff: i know there are people who haven’t yet read it, so i’m not going to spoil anything, don’t worry. i will say that an interesting thing happened while reading it. usually when i read a book, it’s just me and the pages. and sometimes i think about the author and why they chose to go this way instead of that way with the plot, but usually, it’s just me and the characters. but this time, i wasn’t alone. i knew that everyone and their mother and their mother’s cousin’s twin’s stepsister’s brother was reading it and i couldn’t stop wondering what everyone else was thinking when they had read this chapter or that passage. it was weird in the sense that it felt like a house guest who isn’t taking the hint and leaving, but also, kind of nice in a “if-i-need-to-talk-about-the-ending-i-know-i-have-half-a-dozen-people-i-can-count-on-to-talk-to-me-about-it-right-now.” and trust me, you’re going to want to talk about this book.

anticipated event: joining twitter and gaining access to hollywood by following celebrities’ comments and quotes.

payoff: today, almost a year and a half later, twitter continues to surprise me, as we have an entirely different relationship now. the only celebrities i follow anymore are those of the authorial variety. that’s authors for the laymen. i’ve joined a book group. i’ve gotten to know friends of friends better. i’ve gained a vast amount of knowledge about publishing, querying, and writing. i’ve encountered support groups and cheerleaders and allies all associated with writing. i’ve found new favorite authors. i’ve added to my TBR list so much that if i had each of those books stacked on top of each other, it’d reach the moon. (hey, i’d like to visit the moon, maybe i should look into this stack-able walkway. and spacesuits. and time travel. and, anyways…) i’ve learned more about the city i live in. i’ve found new restaurants to try and bars to hit up and stores to shop in. i’ve had my ego boosted. i’ve laughed. i’ve been blessed to have the kindness of people on twitter leap off the interwebs and land in my real life.

anticipated event: upgrading my normal phone to a smartphone.

payoff: after going into the store to have them activate my new DROID, i was very confused for about a week. and unable to properly answer the phone. i still have trouble with the phone portion and usually answer with a tentative “hello?????????” but i’m getting it. i am. except for the part where i am very upset i’ll have to buy a bluetooth as my hands free device. it’s impossible to hear people on those things, but long car rides are a part of life when you live 300 miles away from your closest family members and talking during that drive makes it bearable. on my previous two phones, i had a plug-in head set (sassy, i know) but now, they’re funneling me down the path of a bluetooth. i must resist. actually, it’s really easy… anyways, ANYWAYS, two weeks into my new phone? now i’m a whiz. well, more of a whizlet. i’m still learning. but i am getting to know little tricks and tips and how to conserve battery life. but the best part? other than the first weekend i got the phone, i’m not nearly as addicted to it as i thought i would be. i can still go about my life and interact with human beings and look around and enjoy the sights. but, if there is no one nearby or nothing good to look at, i have the option to explore the digital world that’s in the palm of my hand, yo. cause that’s how i roll. nowadays. i am so hip to getting jiggy with it. yeah, just like that.

does verizon offer a monthly plan for maturity upgrades?

*is it still plagiarizing if you are copying something you yourself wrote? or is it just lazy?


getting to know you. or just me.

i’ve heard that in order to really know someone, you should travel with them. and considering i’m leaving for italy in 12 days, i guess i’m about to get to know myself really well.

here’s what i know pre-solo-international trip:

i have blonde hair.

i have played, currently play, and will continue to play sports for the rest of my life. and when i get too old to play, i’ll continue to watch and support the local teams.

i am severely directionally challenged. it’s annoying. and almost unbelievable. and it appears to rub off on people when i’m with them.

i love wine. and beer. i know a lot more about beer than people originally suspect, so much so that the majority of my male coworkers ask me what they should get. at lunch. (yes, we occasionally get treated to a beverage at lunch).

i read YA books. all the time. i used to say it was for research purposes (since that’s what i write), but i can now admit that i just plain like that genre better than adult books (no, not THAT kind of adult book).

i got a new phone (droid incredible) and activated it this past weekend. i have officially joined the 21st century. it’s amazing and confusing all at once. sometimes i feel like i’m the only one of my generation who has a hard time with technology and as such, i’m learning how to use it through trial and error. mostly error and mostly, by accident. but by accident or on purpose, i feel powerful with this mini computer in my hand. and less alone. because now i can contact anyone on phone, email, text, skype, or on TWITTER. yes, folks. i can now access TWITTER on my phone. my life is complete. (wow, that’s strangely sad.)

i worry a lot. about everything. about anything. i realize it’s a waste of time. but i can’t stop. especially when it comes to this upcoming trip to italy. and as a result of all this anxious energy, i’m planning out every inch of my trip. but that can be bad because things will get knocked off schedule and i have to remember to remain flexible. (what’s italian for “go with the flow?”)

i love pizza. especially this kind.

i adore ice cream. and i’m obsessed with this cookies and cream ice cream cake from JP licks. it’s an ice cream shop local to massachusetts and honestly, one that isn’t my favorite. i’d rather go to christina’s in inman square or berryline in cambridge. but my roommate got this cake as a thank you for taking a last minute babysitting job. and let me tell you, this cake is better than dollars. (i feel like we’re in that trident commercial where the dad comes home, opens his wallet to find it empty, and asks the babysitter if he can pay her in trident layers gum. she squeals with excitement. but this cake is WAY better than gum, even trident layers). i find it weird that i like this cake so much because 95% of the cake is ice cream from JP licks, which i’ve already established isn’t my first choice. there must be some other ingredients they toss in there to make it so extraordinary. and you better believe that for every birthday party i attend from here on out, i’m bringing one of these. you know you want to invite me now, don’t you?

i write handwritten thank you notes after christmas. and my birthday. and random other times i deem thank you note worthy. my mom trained me right and, well, who doesn’t love getting a handwritten note in the mail? i know i do.

even though i crave it, i haven’t had a cup of coffee in approximately 9 months since it makes me feel sick. here’s hoping the italians put something different in their espresso because i’m about to drink it. not right this second, but you know, in approximately 12 days.

i’m the 3rd of 4 kids. and i’m the shortest. by 8 inches.

i ask a lot of questions, especially during movies. i find movies hard to follow because it’s not like a book where i can just go back and re-read. so i ask questions. to the annoyance of everyone around me. perhaps that’s why i don’t watch many movies. i don’t like being annoying, but i find it very hard to keep quiet. which is weird because it’s easy for me to be quiet at all other times of the day. except when i’m playing sports.

here’s hoping that when you add all of those ingredients together, i’m like that JP licks cake. irresistible, surprisingly so.

now you know all these fun, random, potentially boring facts about me, which means it’s your turn to tell me something about yourself, so i can get to know YOU and YOU and YOU, my dear readers.


an international quickie

due to the enormity of yesterday’s post, today’s is going to be a little blip. a quick note to say i’ve gotten the go ahead to travel to italy for work. on one hand, i’m really excited, thrilled, ecstatic, happy. on the other hand, i’m terrified, petrified, and potentially about to pee my pants. why? i’m horrible at directions. i get lost in my own neighborhood. daily. i don’t speak italian. i look american. and i am traveling alone.

the alone part is what freaks me out the most. if i had a traveling companion, this wouldn’t even be an issue. but, as is my lot in life of late, i’m going it alone. i don’t mean to sound whiny, i’m just stating the facts.

which is where YOU come in. basically, i’m using this post to serve as a sounding board for solo international travel advice. please offer up any thoughts, tips, tricks, things to do, say,  avoid, etc. etc.  because while there, i’d love to look like this:

rather than this:

because i will be alone (and therefore can’t accept any ACTIONS of support [in the form of hugs, a partner in crime or you sitting next to me on the plane, in the coffee shop, drinking the vino with me]), i need you to supply the WORDS of support. dear readers, will you help?

book club

BOOK HUNGRY: hunger games

who says you have to be crowded into the living room/kitchen/dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.

the founding members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.

side note to all readers: if you’ve read the book, jump in on the conversation. comment away. if you haven’t read the book, go out and buy a copy, you ninny. and then come back and comment. if you’d like to become a full time BOOK HUNGRY member, contact one of us and we’ll get you set up. no need to have a blog. we can post for you. it couldn’t be easier. and it couldn’t be more fun.

and now, the inaugural selection of the BOOK HUNGRY is:

HUNGER GAMES by suzanne collins.

there’s really only one this to say about this book. IT’S AWESOMESAUCE with a side of geniusbutter.

i’m not a person who likes to read spoilery reviews, so i’m going to do my best not to write one. it’s a good thing this book is so very easy to talk about in general terms. the overarching themes of rebellion, submission, individualism, reality, romance, team work, technology, and survival are so effortlessly incorporated into the plot and the characters that one can’t help but talk and talk and talk some more about katniss and Panem and peeta and gale and haymitch and cinna and effie and rue and thresh and cato and the arena and the muttations and and and…

the world building is so full and rich and believable and scary and real that it’s easy to dive into the story and swim around in it. the districts. the Capitol. the laws. the people. the audience. the families. the friends. the employees. the leaders. the rebellion. oh yes, there are hints of it. you just have to listen carefully for the whispers.

then there’s the romance…if you can call it that. it’s more of a very tangled relationship that might or might not involve one or two boys (peeta and gale) and one very determined young lady (katniss). suzanne collins handles the budding love story with ease. nothing ever feels forced or unnatural but all very real and confusing and complicated and exactly how relationships in real life unfold. even though they’re surrounded by horrific events, this tiny thread of love floats along complicating things. again, how very lifelike that is. what starts as a crush ends up becoming a power play between katniss and the capitol. i mean, come on. as if just talking to boys when you’re a teenager isn’t hard enough, but being stuck in a place where every single person is ultimately trying to kill you (on national TV) and on top of that having to deal with do i like this guy or that guy? and yet, collins stays true to katniss and to the story. the romance aspect is never overpowering for the sake of drawing in a particular type of audience.

and, in fact, the unusual thing about this love triangle is that while i know people who are team gale and others are team peeta (me), pretty much EVERYONE falls under the category of team katniss. she’s so strong and vivid and awesome that, honestly, she’ll be okay no matter which boy she ends up with. or, even if she ends up alone.

one of the things i find most fascinating (and slightly infuriating) about this book/series is that everyone has the same initial reaction upon hearing the premise (futuristic and dystopian and gladiatorial) and/or seeing the jackets. “ugh” or “are you sure it’s good?” or “that sounds terrible.” or “no thank you.” to which both elizabeth and i have said “Do you trust me? Am I not smart? READ THIS. NOW. Don’t hesitate.” and every single person who’s picked up this book has been blown away by the writing, the characters, the intensity, the reality, the plot, the love, the horror, and the drama of this time, this place, this world, which fuels real life emotions and THAT’S what everyone can relate to. and then that person will recommend it to a friend who says, “ugh, that’s so not my thing.” and the cycle continues. happily.

well done, suzanne collins. well done. i’m so glad you were flipping channels that day and got stuck between the news covering the war and a reality TV show. thank you for your imagination and writing skills and this book, this series.


is the second book. and it’s available now.

is the third and final installment and it hits shelves on August 24th. that’s in, like, 5 days! excuse me while i go set up my tent outside of the bookstore.

p.s. to all my loyal readers, YES, this is taking the place of my normal friday post. unless something grand happens. in which case, there shall be a post. it’s ONE BIG, GIANT SURPRISE. will i post friday? won’t i? you’ll have to check back and see. *insert evil laughter*