5 Reasons I Love the Library

When I was a kid, summer always meant a few things for me: no school, swimming pools, and… trips to the library? (Yes, I was a nerd even back in elementary school.) Summer has always been the best time to catch up on reading- you have hours upon hours to spend reading. But besides checking out books, here are five other reasons to go to your local library:

5. Online Services

Technically, this doesn’t require actually going to your library. Still, it’s great to check out your library’s website to see what services they offer online, such as e-books or digital collections. My favorite feature is placing holds. I can easily browse the catalogs and place holds for items I want to check out. It’s awesome because I can place holds for items that aren’t available in my particular library, but are at other locations in the county. I don’t even have to drive to another location, because my holds will be sent to whichever branch I choose.

4. Volunteer Opportunities

If you’re having trouble finding a job this summer, or just don’t have much to do, check your local library to see if they need volunteers. Throughout high school, I volunteered at my library once a week. Responsibilities vary, but you may shelve books, decorate bulletin boards, help organize events, or tidy up community space. You’ll learn a lot about how libraries really work. It’s a great way to help out your community and meet new people.

3. Library Events

Libraries are always hosting activities and events for the community, especially during the summer months. Just this month, my local library is hosting movie nights, open-mic nights, crafting clubs, language classes, seminars, and computer classes! (Previous events have included book fairs and yoga classes.) The library offers something for everyone, and the best part is many of these events/classes are free.

2. DVD/CD Rentals

I’m really lucky because my library has an absolutely fantastic selection of DVDs and CDs. Checking out CDs at the library offers a lot of musical options, and it’s a legal way to obtain free music. There’s a wonderful variety of movies too, from old-school comedies like Bringing Up Baby to newer releases like An Education. I’m constantly placing DVDs on hold. Plus, because it’s free of charge (unless you want to count the taxes you pay) there’s no need for me to go to Blockbuster or subscribe with Netflix.

1. Relax and Discover Something New

One of the best things about libraries is the peace and quiet they offer. It’s easy to relax while you go through book shelves, or find a comfy armchair to do some reading. There’s no rush at all. And if you spend time regularly at the library, it’s only a matter of time before you learn something new. Whether it’s a new favorite book or hobby, libraries are great place to grow and discover something new about yourself.

What do you think? Do you love going to the library? What are your favorite things about it? And what are you planning to read this summer?

~ Sarah

P.S. Happy Birthday to my friend Vince! 🙂

5 Stages of Being a Sports Fan

This has not been a good month for me as far as sports go. Seriously, it’s been one disappointment after another: the Gators eliminated the Hurricanes from the College World Series, the Marlins’ relief pitching keeps getting worse while their bats cool off, and the Lakers won the NBA Finals. And if you know what’s good for you,  you won’t ask me about the U.S.-Slovenia game. Please, just don’t. (On a side note, this World Cup is doing a great job at reminding Americans why we tend to hate on soccer: lots of melodramatic players, blown calls, several ties, and some completely scoreless games. Americans love winners, so we have issues with draws- just saying.) It’s hard being a sports fan sometimes: emotions are constantly in flux. You don’t just root for some team on the field/court- it’s your team! So, now my breakdown of the five stages of being a sports fan (when your team loses):

1. Anticipation

You know the feeling- it’s right before the big game. All those expectations- good and bad- are floating around in your head. Your thoughts just become a series of “what if” questions. What if the team isn’t healthy? What if the defense sucks? What if we were playing at home? What if we lose? What if we win? When the anxiousness and the excitement of anticipation starts getting to you, you know it’s time for the game to begin.

2. Frustration

Things aren’t going according to plan! The defense is being sloppy. The offense isn’t producing. And the refs- what’s up with them? What was the coach thinking? The game is already out of reach. No one’s head is in the game- except for you, the fans who are grinding their teeth.

3. Euphoria

Your team is staging the comeback of the century! The first half/five innings/three games of the series has fired up your star player. Things are finally going your way. That goal/basket/homer has finally tied the game! And wait- there’s enough time for you to actually win! Imagine that!

4. Anger

They blew it- the refs/umps, the players, the coaches! Whoever it was, it doesn’t matter. That’s it- it’s over. Sure, your team probably shouldn’t have been losing in the first place, but after that epic comeback… Why do they even bother? Your team is a tease, flirting with victory.

5. Acceptance

Who are we kidding? Ask any England fan (1950 World Cup), Boston Red Sox fan (Bill Buckner), Miami Hurricane fan (2003 Fiesta Bowl), or Yankees fan (2004 ALCS), we can and will continue to mourn (read: rant about) that game until the end of time.

~ Sarah

5 Reasons I’m Excited About the World Cup

Soccer City Stadium, site of the World Cup Final

We’re now less than 24 hours away from the start of the most prestigious international football tournament. I’ll be honest: I’m not always passionate about soccer. Call me a bandwagon fan if you want, but I can’t help but be caught up in the excitement for the World Cup! Here are the top five reasons I’m looking forward to the World Cup:

5. The tournament has already been a wild ride.

The Adidas Jabulani, the official World Cup ball.

When it comes to big-time athletic competition, some injuries will happen. For this year’s World Cup, the injuries started early. David Beckham, one of the world’s most famous footballers, has been out for months. England’s captain Rio Ferdinand was also injured, so Steven Gerrard is stepping into the role. Just last week, Ivory Coast’s striker Didier Drogba broke his elbow and underwent surgery. North Korea incorrectly listed one of their players as a goalkeeper, and now he won’t be able to play as a striker. Plus, the official match ball the Adidas Jabulani has been met with mostly negative reviews from both keepers and field players. You can’t make this stuff up.

4. The U.S. has a shot.

Forward Herculez Gomez & Midfielder Stuart Holden

Granted, no one expects the U.S. to actually win the World Cup. Still, coach Bob Bradley has assembled a squad that’s exciting to watch. In last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup (a warm-up of sorts for the World Cup), the U.S. upset powerhouse Spain 2-0 in the semi-finals, only to lose to Brazil 3-2 in the final game. The team has seasoned veterans, including goalkeeper Tim Howard plus Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, as well as young studs, like José Francisco Torres. There are still some question marks concerning injuries and the defense, but the U.S. will benefit from drawing a favorable group. The team’s first match is Saturday against rival England (2:30 P.M. EST, ABC).

3. Africa

Nelson Mandela with the World Cup trophy

This World Cup is the first-ever to be hosted in the African Continent. South Africa beat out Morocco and Egypt in the bidding process to host the tournament. It hasn’t even been two decades since democracy began in the country once torn apart by apartheid. In South Africa, people still perceive “soccer [the sport] of the black man” despite its popularity.  The continent has a reputation for being a land of endless famine and war, but many countries are making progress. Historically, home-grown teams do well in the tournament, so expect an African team to be successful (the best bet: Ivory Coast).The World Cup is a chance for both continent and country to shine.

2. Media Buzz

Time Magazine Cover

If you watch as much Sportscenter as I do during the summer, you know ESPN is hyping the World Cup like nobody’s business. Of course, the network is broadcasting all the games, but they are relentless with their advertisements, segments, and previews. Some commercials even star South African actor Djimon Hounsou. (It’s not like ESPN has to convince Americans everywhere that we’re a soccer-obsessed country like the rest of the world or anything.) Last week in the mail, I got the latest issue of Time (pictured above). It’s the best issue I’ve seen in a while, and it discusses the cultural and political impact of the World Cup. If you’re excited at all about the World Cup, I definitely recommend you pick up a copy. Oh, and then there’s this epic commercial: 

1. It’s the World Cup. Duh.

The World Cup, like the world’s other great sporting competitions, is an event. Die-hard soccer fans have been looking forward to tomorrows since Italy won the last World Cup in 2006. (And who can forget that game, with Zidane’s headbutt seen around the world?) Like the Olympics, it’s hard not to get swept up in national pride when watching the World Cup. Let’s face it Americans: soccer is the world’s sport- it’s egalitarian and has the power to unite people.  

The World Cup kicks off tomorrow with South Africa facing a talented Mexico team (9:30 AM EST, ESPN). Are you going to watch? And who are your favorites?

~ Sarah