Thursday, June 30, 2011


It was brought to my attention that I should have included this next musical tid-bit into my "Musical Summer" entry... but I thought it deserved an entry of it's own.  This is THAT epic.  So epic, in fact, that it is was on my bucket list!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted a link on his facebook wall about a local area doing a flashmob.... A FLASHMOB!  I have always wanted to b a part of one, and this one was going to be amazing.  I mean, how can it not be when the dancing is done to Beyonce's "Move Your Body" song?  Yea... It was going to be amazing.

So, some friends and I learned the dance, went to the "secret location," and participated hardcore.  Unfortunately, there is no video of us dancing, but there are some pictures for proof, which is awesome!  Haha... Here's an article and video about the flashmob for your viewing pleasure...

The next task?  We're going to create and complete a flashmob on/around the Gateway fountains (credit to someone bored in science class... not me) in the end of August... Get ready.

P.S.  I really, REALLY wanna do a singing flashmob sometime!

Song of the Day: Christina Perri has a new jam that I am lovin' on... "Distance."  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words NOT to Live By...

Current Favorite Quote: 
"Among the many lessons that I've learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less." 
- ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, former governor of Illinois, after being convicted of 17 counts in a corruption case.

Yea.... I feel the same way, but for doing much less stupid things.  Someday I will perhaps dip my toes into the political arena (a goal of mine) on some level, and attempt to be a non-corrupt politician.  I know - sounds a bit of a paradox... but it's possible.  I have faith.  Haha!

Other favorite quotes from the recent weeks:

After practicing kickball catches for awhile, "I'm gonna go practicing eating..." - Nicole S.

Sidenote:  So, when we were playing kickball for FHE the other week, someone got REALLY into the game and accidentally hit one of the girls in the face with the kickball when throwing to try and get her out.  With no offense toward her, the incident was HILARIOUS.  The thrower was SO embarrassed and felt terrible, but she was fine... and we were all dying laughing on the ground.

"I've been really bad at swearing lately.  I've been depressed lately." - Nicole S.
(It sounds really sad, but it really was just funny... had to be there?  Maybe.)

"He made his bed!" - Spencer
"He better not sleep with her in it!" - Linze

"Just touch him!" - Bro. Minnick to me.... they wanted me to run my fingers through this boy's chest hair.  Haha - Awkward! 

"I have like four..." - Mark about his chest hair, while doing a very funny hand-motion protruding form his chest...

"They know I'm dirty..." - Lauren (I can't wait to go clubbing - that's all I'm gonna say.)

Eliza's fake phone was "ringing" with the press of a button and I asked if she was gonna answer it.  Her reply?  "It's just a voicemale... I get a lot of those."

"We're the easiest!" - Michelle and Karin

"I get cheered for wherever I go." - Spencer (Thanks for shutting the blinds, Spence...)

"That's what I do naturally... sink." - Linze

"I pictured her more with umbrellas and doing weird things with balloons..." - Spencer

"I don't like mine well-done." - Linze (In relation to her steak at TX Roadhouse)
"Maybe he likes YOU well-done." - Spencer

"You shake it and squeeze it, and shake it and squeeze it, and..." - Spencer
"If I had a dime for every time I hard that..." - Linze

"Let me see your baggy-pants! Who gonna want yo baggy-pants!?" - Hailey... Singing at the Bee's game... Best moment of the night. :)

"Where should I touch?!" - Spencer  (I'm not posting the story on here, but it was hilarious... If you wanna know, ask and ye shall receive...)
"Wait... where do I touch?" - Linze, directed to Spencer in all seriousness
"Thank you... THANK YOU!" - Spencer

"We don't do it as a family!" - Karin  (Hahahahaha!)

"Bye! Take Care!" - Eliza
"Take Care!" - Linze
"NO!  YOU take care of her!" - Eliza, regarding her baby doll - haha!

We were listing off good "E" names for a a boy and Erin L. says, "Egbert." 
"You're never naming my children." - Linze

"I could learn a lot!" - Erin after our long talk about relationships... Yes, Erin.  Yes, you could.

Sidenote:  I just have to say that I heard the LOUDEST, ODDEST sneeze on the train coming back from the He Is We concert... Erika laughed for about 25 minutes after that, which meant we ALL laughed for about 25 minutes after that. Classic...

"On OPENING NIGHT!" - Tottie  (I loved you and Lindsey even more after this WHOLE conversation - hahaha!)

"What would it be called...?" - Tottie
"Sneak Peek!" - Linze, Lindsey, Tottie (IN UNISON)

"What were you thinking...?" -Linze
"I'll text you." - Tottie
"Don't put it in writing!" - Linze

"I need to throw-up." - Lindsey W.

A favorite of mine came from the man sitting in front of me and my girls at the Bee's game the other night.  One of the workers came down to tell the man his kids needed to sit while they were batting, but then could stand, but had to sit back down when the batting started again.  To this, the man replied, "It's like we have our very own Catholic church!"  Hahahahaha!  It was pretty classic.

I also enjoyed the following billboard:

I had been wondering about that... I'm glad this billboard cleared that up for everyone - or just me.

It's been a great summer so far... and it keeps getting better.

Song of the Day: There was a free download off this site the other day from a group called Frame & Canvas.  I love this song they do called, "Sure."  Enjoy!

King of Anything (Cover) - WebShow #4!

Are you ready for yet another episode of the Linze & Kate WebShow?!  I thought so... It's pretty epic.

Here's our version of Sara Bareille's "King of Anything."  We kinda love the song... Enjoy!


Monday, June 27, 2011

My Summer is a Musical!

"Without music, life would be a mistake." 
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Music is a universal language.  Music can move your emotions and shape your ideas... it's powerful.  Emotionally speaking, music is the thing that soothes me when I'm angry and boosts me when I'm sad.  It has the poswer to heal my heart, and strengthen my character's endurance.  Spiritually speaking, music speaks to my spirit, my soul, more than words or books...  Music is the thing that has the power to make me smile no matter my mood and transforms my focus to positivity and productivity.  Music motivates and captivates me...  Everyone has that one thing that communicates on a full-level with them, and for me, that is music.

"There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. 
-William P. Merrill

I truly feel what that quote above has to say is true... really.

My favorite scripture of all time is a scripture that I found right before my audition for BYU's Music Voice Performance Major.  I was scared out of my mind and thought I'd flip through my scriptures to calm my nerves, when I found this: "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." (2 Nephi 22:2)  I found it because my favorite number is 22 and I wanted to look up a scripture with all 2's in it... and it stuck with me because randomly, it is about the power of Heavenly Father, and of music.  These are two of the most important things in my life...

That being said, I have a summer jam packed with singing (personally, jamming with friends, my musical web-show with Kate, etc.) and going to concerts!  I started off this summer right and set up numerous occasions that I would be attending concerts.  So far, I've seen Parachute and Allred for free (Hugo and Damato too), which was epic, and He Is We and Andrew Allen.  However, I also have lawn tickets for Sara Bareilles (SO stoked!  She's my favorite!) and Sugarland already (Go buy tickets & come with!) and am working Stadium of Fire this weekend... so I'll see Brad Paisley and David Archuleta there for free.  There are other people I've been considering seeing, and I honestly feel like it's a good use of my "play money."  I just LOVE music...

So, first I saw Allred and... PARACHUTE!  Finally!  Last time I saw them play live they were still called Sparky's Flaw and we were all in High School together in Charlottesville, VA.  Yep, I sat next to the lead singer (Will) in math class one year - haha... Don't get me wrong.  We've never been friends, but I saw them performed and we spoke a few times, so it was cool to see them climb the ladder of success.  Classic... I was helping out with the event for this AMAZING organization called Fight The New Drug - educating people on the harmful effects of pornography (check out the site by clicking on the name) - so I got to see the sound-check a bit.  It was really cool, but weird.  I was thinking, "I went to HS with him... and he looks virtually the exact same," as did Alex, the bass guitarist.  So funny!

An amazing moment during the concert was when Will was talking about UVA and C-ville and I screamed MEGA-LOUD for that, to which the whole crowd looked my way and Will stated, "You don't know where that is!"  My friends and I were all laughing because of all the people he could have said that too... homeboy was WAY off!  Haha... I started yelling, "It's my hometown!," but knew he wouldn't hear me, and it didn't matter to me if he did.  Haha!  I just kept thinking, "All I'd have to say is 'Bodo's Bagels,' 'Christian's Pizza' or 'Monticello' for him to know I'm from there."  Haha!  It was just kinda funny...

Singing "What I Know" - AMAZING! His voice, you can tell, was a little shot, but I give them MAD props for pushing through and for doing an unplanned encore after the crowd was screaming for it - it's the only time I've seen a band come back out AFTER the house-music went up!

The concert was fantastic and I got to see SO many friends, while supporting a great cause!  It was a perfect, summer evening...

The very next day I met up with my old flat-mate from London, Erika, and her sister to head into SLC for the He Is We concert.  I was a bit appreehensive about going bcause I had heard they weren't very good live and the YouTube videos didn't instill confidence in the vocal abilities either.  However, tickets were cheap and I wanted to see Erika, so I went!
They were actually pretty good live!  It wasn't the best concert I've ever been too, and the main girl wasn't amazing, but she was pretty spot-on.  I like it a lot... AND, the bass guitarist (in blue) was QUITE attractive.... I was diggin' on him.  Haha... Also, I loved the first guy that opened for them!  His name is Andrew Allen and he was like a Canadian Ryan Cabrera (whom I adore), so that was a nice little bonus.  Haha!
Now, I tackle Stadium of Fire this week, and that is going to be INTENSE I feel... It'll be a good learning experience, but this year especially, it'll be a lot of work for me.  I'm excited!  Anyone going to hit up SoF this next Saturday???

Song of the Day:  I know I posted a song from each concert already above, but I wanted to post a song from this Andrew Allen guy I saw on Friday... I debated between this song and one called "Tears in My Eyes," which I love, but it came down to this song having a music video.  Haha!  Here is his song (that I also love) called, "Loving You Tonight."  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You're a Good Sport!

I love sports.  I love to watch sports, and I love to play sports.  I love football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer... My favorite sport is football, but they all make me happy.  This summer I had all intention of going to different kinds of sporting events and playing a lot of sports... I am completely fulfilling that "summer goal."

I have played kickball with friends (and filled in one day for a friend on her Draper City League kickball team), played softball with Eliza (not the most effective, but ridiculously adorable), kicked around a soccer ball a few times, threw around a frisbee a few times, and yet, no football... yet.  It'll come.  I need to find friends who want to play more than ultimate frisbee.  Sorry y'all... doesn't do it for me.  I need a full-fledged sport...

Along with playing sports from time to time, I have been lucky enough to fulfill two things on my "summer bucket list": aka - my list to do before summer dies, and not before I have die.  Haha!  I have gone to a Real Salt Lake game and a Salt Lake Bee's game!  I've been to Real games before, but I had never been to a Bee's game... or a minor league baseball game, for that matter.  Growing up, I would go to Padres and Phillies games all the time with my family, and developed a love for pro-baseball games, while I enjoy them more when I'm present in the stadium, rather than watching them on television.

It was a blast! I went with a group of my favorite girls and made friends with some little kids in front of us as we taught them how to cheer... In fact, when we left a bit early another little kid asked his dad, "Why are those loud girls leaving?!"  Haha... I had no idea that a Bee's game could be so much fun, and thanks to Tate's awesome tickets he gave us, we not only got to go to the game for free, but we had AMAZING seats right next to the visiting team's dugout.  This left us money to buy soft pretzels and churros... and time to sing the "Baggy Pants Song."  Life is good.  Haha!  (Hailey -  we still need to record!)
The Real Game was also a LOT of fun!  I was never into soccer growing up, and though I'd still rather watch football or basketball, I really have grown to enjoy soccer.  Living in Europe twice, over the past two World Cups (2006 & 2010), helped a lot, I think.  Real is a fantastic team,  but I can see they aren't playing as well as they have the last few years... Hopefully they pick it back up.  They're still great, just... not AS great.  They'll get back there...

So, what's next on the list?  Well, I haven't played a real game of flag, touch, tackle football since before I was in Germany, so... I say bring that on.  Who's in for a rousing game of football??? That or season tickets to BYU football games...:)

Sidenote:  The NBA Draft = Jimmer going to Milwaukee Sacramento...  I have no set pro-basketball team I root for each year.  I switch around each year... This next year, I could potentially be a Kings fan... maybe?

Song of the Day:  I heard this song today on Drop Dead Diva (amazingly, awesome show, by the way) and downloaded it right away!  Here is Britt Nicole with "Safe."  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Nanny, Take Two: Meet Eliza!

So, about a month and a half back I was given the opportunity to take an amazing job for a nearby family, being a nanny for their little 3 year-old girl for 30 hours a week (perfect amount and will be great fitting in with school in the Fall!).  This girl is BEYOND adorable, and we have the best time together.  I told my mom the other day that I had better have pretty adorable children because I get SO many compliments on how cute Miss Eliza is... and she's not even mine to claim.  Haha!  She really is the cutest thing, especially when she tries to say her "Ls."  For example, she says "lello" instead of "yellow," and "lesterday" instead of "yesterday."  She also has trouble saying her "sh" sounds, so words like "fish" come out a little funny.  I'm working on it with her, but it's so blasted cute.  Haha!

Here are some things that we have been doing together:
We spend lots of time hanging out, having tea-parties, and playing the "taste-buds" game!
We went to a story-time and exploration-day at Thanksgiving Point, and we spent a good deal of time wandering around the Kid's Garden and seeing all the animal statues!

At Thanksgiving Point's Kid's Garden they had lots of little experiments that kids could take part in, like this geometric shapes water race... Very cool!
Sugarhouse Park!
We went to feed the ducks (Above) and then play on the playground for awhile (Below).

Play-Dough time!
Our superhero names are Jetta (Eliza's) and Zetta (mine), which she picked for us... We like to dress up and save the world... or at least her house. 
I'm a bit blurry here, but we love making funny faces together and Eliza's is CLASSIC here!  We also like baking cookies together!  Hence, the aprons...

On another note, we have created this game (mentioned above) called the "tastebuds" game... We say, "Both our tastebuds like ______," and fill in the blank with something real or funny (i.e. Cherry or Chair - haha!).  We play it ALL the time... It's fabulous!  See the video below:

This is what I've been doing the past month and a half... I'm in love with it all. 

Song of the Day: Elliot Yamin (whom I adore) has a new song out called "Still Gonna Try," which is a great slow-R&B-jam... I love it.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Current Joys!

I need to post a few videos below so that I can constantly come back to them... Thus, here are some current joys for me!

The first one is a song ("Breathe" from In The Heights) I have become a HUGE fan of BECAUSE of this girl... I heard it FIRST from her, but I've heard other amazing singers take a shot at it too... She's still my favorite on it for now. 

The second is a cover of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" that I love... His voice is simple and sweet and he does a good job making it original, but not changing too much.  I loved it...

I like this next one because it's hilarious... I laugh ever time I see it. These parents have THE whitest "swag" I have ever seen... Love it. My favorite part - when the dad knocks the girl's tea party pieces all over the ground - haha! You can also watch the other videos from the "family" and they're CLASSIC.

I'm putting this commercial on here (only 32 seconds) because it's called "Sizzlin' Entrees," but every time I see it on TV all I can think is, "He's MY sizzlin' entree!" Haha... He says, "I love when that happens," in reference to people checking out the food he's carrying... Honey. They're checking out more than that food!

Last one is the song of the day! It's BEAUTIFUL, but hauntingly sad. I heard the band off a free download on ITunes & then a friend posted this video on her facebook recently... I'm in love. Here's The Civil Wars with "Poison & Wine." Enjoy!


Sidenote:  Judge me all you want, but I had to add one more... :) 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Zumba in the Name of Love!

Has anyone heard that song "Step in the Name of Love?"  Yea... this is the same idea, but with Zumba... obviously.

Yesterday was a day of firsts for me.  First, I bore it all and went skinny-dipping for the first time.  Yes, I just admitted that on the internet... don't pretend like most of you haven't done it before.  I know you have... Haha!  It was very liberating... and I was freakin' out slightly the entire time.  Haha!

Second, I joined a gym!  Yep, I am a proud member of 24Hour Fitness, thanks to my friend Candace taking me to a Zumba class last weekend.  I have wanted to join a gym for their classes (Zumba, WeightPump, Pilates, etc.) and their weights, but I have hesitated because it's so expensive in most cases.  However, this was a $10 start-up fee and only $30 a month - not too shabby.  Plus, quite frankly, I'm a cheapskate and if I pay for something I want my money's worth.  Meaning, I'll definitely be going to the gym a lot each month.  This is going to be a painful, great summer... Haha!

Today, I went to another Zumba class at the gym and noticed a few things.  One, don't lift weights before you do a Zumba class.  I was early and tried to kill some time, so I did a bunch of leg lifts, calve workouts, and thighmaster-type stuff.  Haha!  Yea... My legs were jelly all through Zumba and I was felt myself pushing extra hard... not fun.

Second, sometimes Zumba makes you feel sexy... and sometimes it makes you feel very UN-sexy!  I thought to myself, "I'm a pretty good dancer."  I've always been able to move and had a good sense of rhythm. Friends have complemented my dance skills.  Today, partially because I have was so tired in my legs and partially because I'm just bad at it, I have never felt less sexy.  Haha!  Not that I would call my self a "sexy" woman a lot of the time anyway, but... this was just sad.  Hilarious?  Yes... but sad, too.  Haha!  Half the moves I was spot on with, and half of them I looked downright awkward doing.  I can't imagine doing Zumba if I were rhythmically challenged. 

Third, I'm going to conquer Zumba and do it until I am sexy doing it... I'm determined.  I mean, I'm not terrible... I did Latin dance in college and Hip-Hop dance in high school, but doing it straight for an hour and STILL looking hot?!  Yea... I'm going to demolish this...

Now, take a look below for your viewing pleasure (No, it's not me doing Zumba... That would only bring us both to an awkward stand-still...).  Here is Linze & Kate... A WebShow #3 (Singing starts at 3:51):

If I really were to die young, I'd wanna be cremated and sprinkled in different places of meaning to my family members and close friends... kinda like in Elizabethtown.  Also, I don't wanna be buried in satin... Maybe a onesie?  No, my yellow dress with the lilac flowers embroidered on the outside... Okay, this is "If I Die Young" analysis overkill... and weird.

Moving on... Here is one last treat for all the men reading my blog.  If you are one of the single guys reading my blog then this video is specifically for YOU:

It didn't work out for her the first time around... maybe now on of you lucky gentlemen are ready?  The challenge is on - in many ways. Good luck, boys.... Good luck.

Song of the Day:  "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry Linze & Kate.... See the link above. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Past and Present Quips

This day last year I was in London, England, watching the first World Cup game in a little pub off of Bayswater... Today, I sit here in Draper, Utah (which I am grateful for and love) with an earache.  Even without the earache, I think I'd be inclined to choose London and football... :)

Below, there are some past and rather present little moments of subconscious word-play for your reading enjoyment:

"Get your yam on!" - Lindsey W. 

"I want to name my little boy Liam." - Lindsey Syb.
"Lamb?!"- Linze

"Everyone else here made my blog... Luz, I'm waiting on you." - Linze

So, a group of us were talking about when we were little, and how we use to play Power Rangers on the playground.  The girls there said they all use to fight over being Amy Jo Johnson.  Kate then asks, "Who is she?"  We all responded by gasping with shock and loudly stating, "The Pink Power Ranger!"

"There's some cop-porn... POPCORN!" - Spencer... It was an honest to goondess mistake that was HILARIOUS!

"You just swore." - Hailey
"Porn is not a swear word." - Bekah

Speaking of swearing, Candace...

"Hell & Damn.  I love those two!" - Candace (HAHAHAHAHA!)

"Is this a pretzel?!  It's round...?" - Luz, while we were eating pretzel M&Ms

So, some of the ladies were trying to teach me some Spanish words and I accidentally swore in Spanish... Oops! "Punto verses puto... Eek!  This is the best Spanish class ever!"

"I love canoodling." - Lindsey Syb.

"Sporking?  That WOULD be better!" - Linze

"Woman, I have fire." - Lindsey Syb. (Regarding her bonefire pit...)

"... Cerebral Intellect." - Uncle Danny
"That's what I have!!!" - My Mom

"Sponsor me!" - Linze (Does anyone from that convo remember WHY this was funny!? :P)

"Linze, inappropriate." - Luz
"Really, Luz?  Because I wanted to discuss your love-life on my blog." - Linze

"I need an appointment with the Bishop... I'll just text Spencer and tell him to get me an appointment with the B Word." - Lindsey Syb.

"It's a womance." - Linze to Michelle (Hahaha!  There are SO many Bromances, why not a womance?!  Haha...)

"I thought you said, 'Are you a member?'" - A random girl in church said this to me after I asked her if her name was Amber and she misheard me... Haha!  It was really quite entertaining.  I mean, who asks that to a girl who JUST walked in and sat down?  Haha!  Apparently, she thought I would...

"My last moving violation was during the Nixon Administration..." - Uncle Danny

Me and Eliza were sitting outside on the swings, playing "Both Our Taste-buds Like..," when I made a joke and said that both our taste-buds liked broken glass, to which she replied, "Oh, Linze. You crack me up!" shaking her head and patting my knee in a very adult way... She's three.

"Now, smell the flower and say (in a British accent), 'How Lovely!'" - Eliza (She likes to tell me what to do or say... a lot. :P)

""We all just applauded for The Bachelorette." - Linze
"I did NOT applaud." - Amber
"Me neither." - Hailey
"I think I did cause Linze did..." - Bekah
Twenty minutes later... Bekah applauds again.
"That time you applauded on your own." - Linze
"Yea, well.... I did." - Bekah

"We are all going to look bomb when were resurrected." - Linze, after discussing all our scars and how they'll be gone from our resurrected bodies.

"I use to do a lot crazier things in a car." - Nicole L.

"When are you going to become a member of the Bang Club!?" - Linze, meaning when are you cutting your hair and getting bangs.

"Someone said cervix! Someone really did!" - Bryce - The ladies were talking about having children, as one of the girls at the party had just had a baby a short while ago, and he overheard her says something about the cervix and freaked out - no joke.  Haha!

"I love inflation.  Also, can we please have less jobs so that I can keep struggling to find one?" - Linze, rather sarcastically stated... and sidenote, I have a job now. :)

"I just wanna get to second base... at least first, but second would be nice." - Ian (talking about kickball)
"What?!" - Linze, walking into the chapel and hearing this out of context.
"Kickball!" - Amber, Kortni, and Karin together
Hey, what would you have thought!

"This relationship is toxic, obviously, and not the Britney Spears toxic... The bad kind of toxic." - Harvard Sailing Team, which comes from the video below:

Just to finish off, here is a quote that's not really humorous, but I thoroughly enjoy:
"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of it's trouble, it empties today of it's strength." - Plato 
Thanks, Plato.  I needed that.

Song of the Day:  "Steal Your Heart" by Augustana.  They were in SLC recently, and I wish I had know how great they are... I just bought their entire new CD this past weekend... Love them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Linze & Kate - Our Web-Show: "Perfect"

I have wanted to blog SO much lately, and I haven't had time... Aak! (In the words of Liz Lemon/Cathy)

So, to hold you (or, actually myself) over, here is the most recent WebShow song from Kate and me!  We chose to sing Pink's song "Perfect!"

We're starting to get the hang of it - the color and quality are much better than last week, but sound was stronger last week.  I got a new video editor and just have to learn how things work on there.  It's great actually, because I was still using Windows Movie Maker... Thanks, EFY.  Haha!  Next show, it'll be even better I'm sure...

Song of the Day is the link ABOVE!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Hunger Games

My name is Linze Struiksma.  I am twenty-five years old.  My home is in Utah.  I was at BYU.  I escaped graduated.  My favorite color is yellow and I have two webbed toes.  Today, I finished The Hunger Games series.

If you have NOT read these books and are planning to (which you should, because they're amazing!), I give you fair warning that this entry may does included some spoilers - some minimal and some sufficient.  Once read, there is no turning back... You're brain can't erase the words on the screen, so choose wisely.  Also, this entry MIGHT make me look a bit over-analytical and nerdy... I embrace it. 

Remember, I gave you fair warning...

I think I will choose to begin where it ended, and circle back around.

In a matter of moments, a few final chapters, all of the thoughts and emotions I was feeling throughout this series were wrapped up into a little package with a feeling on finality attached.  That doesn't always happen in the conclusion of a series, but I think that this particular one articulated what was needed by the reader.

Answers to all of my questions regarding Katniss and who she really is past the war zone arenas were revealed/confirmed.  All my thoughts about not only the dictatorship of The Capitol, but also District 13 and their duly fascist approach to maintaining life, were voiced.  My feelings about Katniss and her need to truly break before being rebuilt was made manifest. The "love-triangle" between her Peeta and Gale was, in my eyes, resolved... and the feelings that I had about each of those individuals need for the other was pronounced so perfectly.  They were feelings that I had felt all along, but couldn't justify feeling until the ending of the book.

I wanted to give each "player" a chance to win me over... I wanted to see each side of the issue.  Perhaps, just as the governments turned out to be created, neither would be right.  However, I didn't see that... I saw a clear-cut choice for (and by) Katniss inside of my mind, developing and mostly staying the same with each book.  However, comments of friends about one or the other man jarred me a bit while reading the series, and had me looking back to analyze the intent behind actions of each character... It was kind of cool to re-read sections with that mind set, and equally with that analytical take regarding government and human agency.

First, the love triangle.  [For those who haven't read the book, this part will probably appear confusing and moving onto my sections regarding political and social themes might be better - or equally boring?]  You do not have to agree with me on my take... just know that if you don't, you're wrong.  Haha!  No, really... I can see the points others make to a certain extent, but nonetheless, I don't agree.  That being said, I was content and comfortable with Katniss and Peeta's ending together - happy even.  I don't think that there was necessarily a "right answer" between the two of them, but I think her choice was valid.

Some can argue that there was no choice - that the two were forced together through the games and the government/media.  In the ending of the series, they didn't have to choose to be together... She could have gone after Gale, written him, and been with him.  She made a choice, and it was because love had started to form prior to the ending of the series.  Gale made a choice too.  He made a choice to stay away, believing that would be best for her and what she wanted.  Peeta also made a choice.  He chose to be there, and to make an effort to take care of her again.  I believe both choices were made out of love for Katniss, but ultimately one choice landed two individuals together.

I have heard four or five of my friends say that they believe Peeta is manipulative... The thing that strikes me as odd is that I see KATNISS as manipulative.  I mean, her strategy to win the games comes from pretending to love someone in order to gain favor from her mentor and sponsors - someone who was merely being honest about his feelings.  He had no idea she wasn't doing the same.  Also, take to heart the fact that after Peeta finds out Katniss does not in reality love him back (after truly believing she did), he must still allow her to play pretend.  We are not all built to be actors and actresses to that extent...

He is forced through media and an image to maintain a closeness with her - emotionally and physically.  Think about it - this is a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD BOY!  Imagine the thoughts going through that head.  Add to that, the girl he is in love with holding his hand, kissing on him, and displaying an emotional response to him in public... Then inviting him to sleep with her (even if no sex was involved) in the nights.  Words spill out and honesty is released from the "love stricken" teenage boy, while it remains a vague concept coming from girl.  I would be so emotionally distraught and thinking, "Well, if she's asking me to do emotional, personal, and physical things off camera with her, perhaps I just need to try harder... perhaps I just need to keep letting her know how I feel and she'll see she could feel the same way too."  Except, I would be talking about a boy - keepin' it real.

This might all sounds crazy, but when someone is throwin' out signs, then you state how you feel about the person and they say, "Oh, you're just my friends - I'm not sure I feel that way about you...," are you not perplexed?  I would be.  I have been.

I'm not doggin' on Katniss - that's not my intention - I just don't get the bad rap Peeta gets from people.  I think it all comes down to agency and the fact that both Gale are different people, with different things to offer, and she loves them both for different reasons... Circumstances guide her to each at a different time, and ultimately, a choice is made.  It's not wrong for her... even if it's not right -for you.

In fear of dragging this entry on and on, I will make this next assessment brief.  Who is more brave: Gale or Peeta?  They're both brave - and equally yoked in this aspect.  Again, they just exhibit there bravery differently.  Example:  Gale is more of the "get in your face, stand up for what you believe in man," while Peeta is more of the "talk about it, straighten it out through words man."  Neither is right, but handles situations where lies their strengths.  To me, Peeta truly fought by saving Katniss, because he knew who she could become.  No pun intended, but he saw the fire in her before it was burning.  He knew that most powerful thing for the rebellion would be for her to be there to lead people... and he loved her.  Love is beyond powerful, especially when everything The Capitol was breeding spawned from hate and insecurity.  Cheesy?  Yes.  True?  I think so.

For me, I liked the way Katniss put in the end of the book, "That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred.  I have plenty of fire myself."  I'm not gonna lie - I'm probably a mix of both... but I am all about handling situations with the least (or no) amount of violence as possible.

Sidenote:  I think it's interesting that Gale says to Peeta that Katniss with choose that which she can't survive without, and how stung she is by that assumption, yet that's that she does...  I think love is a part of surviving too, though, and she realizes that with her understanding of her feelings for each individual. 

Moving on, I have to take a moment to discuss the themes of Suzanne Collins' (author) work.  For those who have read the books, you can completely see the anti-war themes within the book.  You can see themes relating to power and the use of power within the government.  You realize how controlled the people of the districts and The Capitol are by the government, but also by District 13 and their leadership.  Daily schedules tattooed to their arms, limits on where they can go or what they can eat, and extreme forms of punishment for mild infractions... Killing children in order to gain power (by both Snow and Coin)?  It reminded me slightly of 1984, which is one of my favorite books.  She also touches on social issues - bulimia, plastic surgery, skin color, the importance of economic status, etc.  She begs the question: what is beauty, and how to obtain the right look?

Their society is driven my violence, to the extent that those in the capitol enjoy the Hunger Games and watching children die... until it is their own children and they realize the reality behind the games.  I think that's a problem in our society today.  Obviously we are overridden with violence in films, music, television, games, books, but it's more that we find enjoyment in it... because it's fake, right?  When reality kicks us in the gut and something really DOES happen to kill those close to us, we lash out at the media, claiming it's their fault.  However, are we not asking for it to some extent?  I think we are... 

The media is ever-present in each book... When something bad happens, it is filmed and tweaked.  When something good happens, it is filmed and tweaked.  The media presents things in the manner they wish them to be seen, and makes each "tribute" in the games sustain a particular image... Even Katniss finds herself acting a certain way (holding back emotion, or showing it) when in the games because she knows she is on camera, and must be what the viewers wish in order to receive sponsor's favor.  We do this today as well... We dress, dance, talk, walk, act like those who are portrayed to us as "cool" or "beautiful."  Even when we overcome to an extent our insecurities, and embrace who we really want to be/are, we still emulate who media tells us to emulate... We still ask media to "keep it comin'!" and hope to catch a glimpse of someone from a movie or a show on a magazine, commerical (propos?), or (gasp!) in real life.

It's a vicious cycle... but I admit one I'm a part of each week -watching the Bachelorette or American Idol and gossiping about who on TV reality shows are "hot-or-not."  I'm not ashamed - I DO enjoy it.  However, some people... a lot of people, let it consume who they want to become.  I'm not talking about "dreaming big," because I'm all for that!  I'm talking about people who says, "Ashley is SO pretty and has the BEST legs!  I need to have those legs."  Why?  No, you don't... Media tells you that's hot, but what you are can be considered that too, if you allow yourself to look past the raging signs telling you what to become.  How can you do that when media is ALWAYS right there telling you what to do next, or what to believe in?  How can you do that when everything that you do, every move you make, is made for someone else?

In The Hunger Games media tells people to dye their skin, to celebrate violence, to obey the oppressor, or to the fight the oppressor... It tells you what to believe, and gives you little option to form your own opinion because it's busy shoving it's opinions down your throat - just like many of today's forms of media.  I say this as a woman who wants to be a part of the industry, too. 

Wow - I am a nerd... This is getting FOREVER long!  If you're still reading, you deserve a cookie.

One more thing (though, I might think of more, to be honest - Haha!)...

I am not a crier - you all know this.  However, did I cry when reading the final book?  Laugh all you want (Ken!), but yes... Yes, I did cry.  I get emotional with books, movies, and babies for some reason.  Eh.  Now, you pose the question: where did you cry, Linze?  Let's just say not in the "traditional" spots of the book.  Well, perhaps the second time I cried (yes, I cried twice...) was legit.  I cried when the ending was wrapping up and you found out that Katniss had children - see, this was books AND babies... a double wammy for me, which is so unfair.  Haha!

The first time I cried...?  Nope, not when Prim died, and not when Peeta calls Katniss a mutt (though I did choke up a bit).  When all the tributes left in the end (6) are to vote for if they should have another Hunger Games using The Capitols children in order to even out the deaths they caused over the years to the district's children, I cried at Katniss's response.  She thinks, "Nothing has changed.  Nothing will ever change," and yet still responds, "I vote yes... for Prim."  The thing they had been fighting against, they were about to let happen again... I know rebellion was about more than the games, but they were about to endorse and support the sicklycle cycle that began the rebellion in the first place, and I literally felt sick.

I know it's just a book... but books are never really just books for me.  They're often an escape - and I get invested in the characters.  I didn't want Katniss to defile what she was striving for because of revenge of resignation to defeat.  I wanted her to take this most poignant moment to fight back.  I think she really changes when she chooses to shoot Coin, but at first I was so nervous that the cycle was beginning again... and I wanted her to really win the war.

In the end, through her ability to marry and bring children into the world, I think that is exactly what she does.

Song of the Day: I had a friend show me this song the other day when driving home and I felt instantly in love... It's beautiful, and it's called "Paperweight" by Josh Radin and Schuyler Fisk.  Enjoy!