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Published: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:57:31 -0500


Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Come Out to My Homophobic Family?

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:57:31 -0500

Dear Auntie, I don't know who else to get advice from, so I saw this section on Sparknotes and thought I might give it a try. Ever since I was young I have known that I was different. In elementary school I would find girls and guys attractive but I just assumed the girl part was only friendly. Then in 4th grade (around the time the song "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry came out) my friend was curious on how kissing a girl felt, and since no one else wanted to I did, because the idea of kissing girls didn't really disgust me. That was my first kiss and it was wonderful. Then in 7th grade I developed my first real girl crush on my best friend. I got guy crushes in between so I was really confused. I actually had to google search what this was because I didn't know that bi existed. Anyway, now I'm a senior in high school and I have come out to my best friend, the same girl I had a crush on in 7th grade. I didn't tell her I had a crush on her because I didn't want her to feel awkward. Now here is the issue. My mom is really anti-LGBTQ and she finds all that stuff really disgusting. One day we had a discussion about lesbians and she said that if I were lesbian, she would actually disassociate herself from me which makes me sad and kinda scared. My brother doesn't really believe in the whole "bi" thing and my dad died four years ago. He would have been the only one who was accepting and if were alive he would probably have been able to convince my mom, but that can't happen. Should I tell my mother and face the consequences or just keep quiet until I go to college? Also, I didn't tell all of my friends so should I tell my friend group? All of them are accepting but I don't want them to feel awkward when we have sleepovers and stuff together. Also I'm not sure there is a point because I'm going to college in a few months and I probably won't see them much after. The good news, Sparkler, is that I have just the answer to all your many questions. The bad news is, that answer is that it's all entirely up to you. Which seems like the punt to end all punts, I know. But this is your identity we're talking about, and it's your life and your relationships that stand to be affected if you choose to come out. I can't make that decision for you! I can only tell you that any decision you make is right, as long as it's right for you. Of course, that also means that when it comes to telling your mom, there's no "should" about it — and if you think there will be negative consequences for revealing the truth about your orientation, then you would be fully entitled in no uncertain terms to keep it to yourself, at least until you're out of the house. Your safety and happiness come first. And coming out? That can always come later. (Your mom may even surprise you by being more accepting than you anticipate. People who claim to be disgusted by all things LGBT have a funny way of changing their tune when they discover that someone they love is queer.) But with that said, there's also no reason why you shouldn't come out to people who you know will respect and support you. You deserve the comfort of being accepted for who you are by people who can give it to you — and perhaps your friends, who care about you, deserve the chance to prove that they're worthy of your trust, too. I would gently suggest that a group of open-minded, intelligent people are more than capable of doing the math and realizing that if sleepovers with their bisexual friend haven't been weird for the past five years or so, there's no reason why thing should suddenly become weird just because the bisexual friend came out of the closet. It's something to think about, anyway. What matters most is that you find a balance in terms of telling-versus-not-telling that you can live with, that doesn't chafe in all the wrong places, that doesn't make you feel like you have to hide. Make it your goal to live fully and authentically, whether you're out to the world at large or not. Because if the time comes when you do want to tell your family, that full an[...]

9+ Things You Should Do Right Now To Make Your College Applications Stronger

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:00:57 -0500

Some things on this list which may seem pretty obvious, but hey—you never know! I also went ahead and covered a couple of bases, namely recommendations for the actual app and all the stuff you gotta do IRL to actually put on that thing. Have a tip I left out? Please share!   Show the school love: Tour the campus. Friend the university on Facebook. Meet with admissions officers. Follow up with questions. Get to know the professors with whom you want to study. Ask to sit in on their classes! If the college/university offers them…enroll in a summer course for high school students.   Optional essays? Write them! Elaborate whenever possible.   Research the school thoroughly and then talk—in your essay—about how much you like what you discovered.   Include supplemental materials that demonstrate your hobbies and passions. Link to videos of performances, music clips, photography portfolios, or personal (and appropriate for viewing by a college admissions board) websites and blogs. If possible, include newspaper clippings about your involvement in the community or your participation in a local (or national!) competitions. Make sure the college accepts these supplemental materials! Show the admissions team that you engage with and contribute to your community beyond the classroom. Volunteer! Possible organizations to join: the Red Cross, Boy/Girl Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, local tutoring organizations—check out Volunteer Match to see what’s available in your area! Participate in competitions within your particular area of interest, both academic, creative, and athletic. Volunteer to work in your school’s front office. Take part in a school fundraiser.   Demonstrate a deep commitment to and genuine appreciation for what you spend your time doing by starting your own club/organization/group.   Make sure your letters of rec are not just run-of-the-mill rave reviews. They need to be very specific in terms of description of your talent and ability. If it’s possible for someone to write a letter for you who has known you a shorter amount of time than other teachers, but who was your supervisor on a project that connects with your intended area of study—go with the latter.   Study hard. Prepare for SAT and ACT exams and retake them if you don’t do well on your first try.   Get a part-time job. Not only does this look good on a college app, it will allow you to put away money for books and tuition.

How to Tell if You're in a Coming-of-Age Novel

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:00:49 -0500

In real life, coming of age isn’t as simple as reaching the end of your story and knowing you’ve grown as a person. More often than not, you simply wake up one day and taxes are happening to you. It is then, and only then, that you'll realize you’ve made it—you’ve staggered dumbly through the labyrinthine mire also known adolescence and somehow emerged, victorious and bewildered, on the other side, even though you're still not entirely sure how you did it. In books, things are much more straightforward. Here’s how you know you’re coming of age: 1. You hate the suburbs. They are a prison. 2. Someone named Chad is being a jerk. 3. A popular girl takes you under her wing. She gives you a makeover both physically and metaphorically. 4. You develop an unlikely friendship with someone outside your social circle. 5. You have an embarrassing part-time job. The popular kids come by every now and again just to watch you suffer. 6. Your car is very old, and borderline unusable. 7. Your family is charmingly dysfunctional. 8. You’re about to find out who your real friends are. 9. Your childhood best friend is wise beyond their years and probably marked for death. 10. Your parents just don’t get it. 11. Your English teacher is life-changing and subversive. 12. Something terrible is happening, and you’re forced to grow up too soon. 13. It’s heavily implied that your first love interest is the only person you will ever date. 14. Your mentor has a dark secret. 15. Your mentor makes references to books you have not read. 16. Your mentor is killed unexpectedly, leaving you to make your own way in this crazy world. 17. You are doing stupid things with your hair, and you’re wearing sweaters that look terrible on you. Someone of higher social standing calls attention to this. It is a turning point in your life. 18. You are going on a road trip with no set destination. 19. You are clumsy. It’s one of your more endearing flaws. 20. You are the only teenager who doesn’t like going to parties. Your love interest finds this both mysterious and alluring. 21. You are a boy, and you have sex once, and you are a man now. 22. You are a girl, and you have sex once, and the now the whole school hates you for it. 23. All teenagers are on drugs, and they want you to be on drugs, too. 24. You don’t have a date to the school dance. You don’t care about this, but everyone else is worried about you. 25. You are the only person in your group of friends who has not gotten their period. 26. You finally got your period, and thus have reached enlightenment. 27. Everything leads to graduation. 28. Your father figure disapproves. 29. You have a crush on the hot, emotionally stunted jock even though your best friend has been right there the whole time and is secretly in love with you. 30. You have a mysterious past that you’re not ready to know about. Not yet, anyway.

The Flirt Test

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:00:24 -0500

"Do you like Billie Holiday?" "I love him." [viralQuiz id=39] This quiz was originally published in May 2016

Open Thread for January 23!

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 08:00:46 -0500

The Saddest Fictional Sacrifices of All Time

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:00:50 -0500

The self-sacrifice is an essential plot-point in so much of fiction. It can be redemptive (""), allegorical (when in doubt, safe to assume Christianity), or the ultimate Edible Arrangement (say it with sacrifice)! Which category do each of our 10 saddest examples occupy? The choice is yours. [This slideshow was originally published in June 2016]

Ginny Weasley Is Not as Great as You Remember

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:00:06 -0500

We’ve all fallen for the irresistible charm of Ginny Weasley. To borrow a chant: she’s pretty, she’s cool, she dominates [that] school! She’s almost too good to be true, which is actually my number one complaint about her characterization. HOT TAKE: Ginny is not actually that great. Let me break it down. Ginny turns out to be a very talented and popular girl with a mind of her own, and many readers admire her for her loyalty to Neville and Luna, who happen to be the two least popular kids in school. But before we elect Ginny Class Protector and congratulate her for taking such a huge stand against bullying, let’s admit there has been a bit of a collective-selective memory when it comes to our favorite Ginny and Luna moment. Here’s what we like to remember: ‘You could’ve taken anyone!’ said Ron in disbelief over dinner. ‘Anyone! And you chose Loony Lovegood?’ ‘Don’t call her that, Ron’ snapped Ginny, pausing behind Harry on her way to join friends. ‘I’m really glad you’re taking her, Harry, she’s so excited’ -Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Yeah, yeah, it’s nice to see this friendship flourishing, because the beginning of it sure was problematic: [Neville] ‘…everywhere’s full… I can’t find a seat…’ ‘What are you talking about?’ said Ginny, who had squeezed past Neville to peer into the compartment behind him. ‘There’s room in this one, there’s only Loony Lovegood in here – ‘  -Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix Ginny is actually the first person in the books to call Luna “Loony Lovegood.” Judging by her attitude, she did not choose that compartment so she could introduce her dearest Ravenclaw friend to Harry and Neville—for the rest of the train ride, Ginny is openly laughing at Luna’s unusual perspectives. Bit rude. Of course, she grows closer to Luna and they become friends, and Ginny goes from laughing at her face to standing up to her, but I’m not quite done with the bullying topic. When teenage drama gets magical, it gets a bit harder for us readers to see the lines being crossed, ‘specially in Hogwarts, where if you mess up your transfiguration homework you might end up in the hospital wing with a tail, and an inter-school magical competition has a death toll. It’s hard to tell if causing a slight diversion by turning into a large canary is a traumatic and humiliating experience or just another Wednesday. But even in the admittedly perilous halls of Hogwarts, Ginny's tendency to finish arguments with jinxes and hexes is noteworthy. The point that Ginny is extraordinarily talented and capable of defending herself is made by how well she did in the DA, and surviving duels with witches and wizards more experienced then herself—hexing other students because they annoy her (like she did with Zacharias Smith) shouldn’t earn her any gold stars. This difficulty to sort out right from wrong, a defensive spell from an offensive spell, and even light from dark magic is not something that Ginny is guilty of exclusively—a long list of dear characters have a history of meddling with tasteless magic: Fred and George (from whom Ginny might be taking some cues) testing products on first years and selling a love potion (aka the roofies of the wizarding world) in their shop, James and Sirius hoisting people up in the air for the banter, Hermione’s wicked “SNEAK” jinx, Harry and the whole Sectumsempra episode: ‘Give it a rest, Hermione!’ said Ginny, and Harry was so amazed, so grateful, he looked up. ‘By the sound of it Malfoy was trying to use an unforgivable curse, you should be glad Harry had something good up his sleeve!’ ‘Well, of course I’m glad Harry wasn’t cursed!’ said Hermione, clearly stung, ‘but you can’t call that sectumsempra spell good, Ginny, look where it[...]

Literary Dystopias, Ranked by How Likely You'd Be to Survive Them

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:00:12 -0500

As long as literature has existed, people have been writing books about what would happen if our world was pretty much the same except worse. More often than not there was a war, and then everything changed, and the time to fight back is now. Also, the government is watching. These dystopian hellscapes are deadly enough for our heroes—our Offreds and our Katnisses—but what about someone normal like you or I? You know, the kind of middling everyman who has below-average archery skills, has never skipped a meal, and looks bad in beige henleys? Where would we fit into these post-apocalyptic dumpster futures devoid of all hope? Well, some of them we might survive. Others? Not so much.                

Dating With Science: Guys Prefer Compatibility To Hotness

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 10:00:09 -0500