Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts



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1. There's an interesting difference between acknowledgement and validation.

2. I have a problem with the aggressive military recruitment of high school seniors.

3. Someday I'm going to do an experiment: I'm going to leave my curling iron or hair straightener on all day while I am home to prove to myself that nothing (I think...) will happen if it gets left plugged in on accident while I'm at work. While this is obviously not something I plan on doing on purpose, I hate myself every time I triple check that it's off in the morning.

4. Do you ever think someone is upset with you or mad at you all of the sudden and you have no clue why, so you keep replaying your last interaction with them over and over again? Yes? Me too. 

5. The other day I saw something about Machu Picchu online and texted my brother about hiking it (we've talked about it before). This is why I love him- without any hesitation he answered "is this a question?" I tossed out the year 2021, since that would give us plenty of time. I have no clue if this will happen, since it's quite the undertaking. I don't want to do one of the wimpy up in a day with a guide trips, but nor do I want to backpack for five days. I also know that acclimation can be an issue, as is timing since they're below the equator. Who knows. In the meantime it's fun to hope.

6. Follow Book Bento Box on Instagram. It's fun and pretty.

7. I've ordered two more books this week (three if you count the Scrabble dictionary I got for my classroom). I have a disease.

8. One of my best friends and I are probably going to drive together (with Sawyer) back to our hometown in the Central Valley in a little over a month. THAT is the sign of a good friend- someone willing to be trapped in a car for 350 miles with my two-year-old. She's the best. 

9. I assigned my seniors their "Dictionary of Self" (I need to think of a new title) assignment to do, based on Amy Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary. I always feel compelled to write one myself so that I have a model for years to come and because it seems sort of fun. The obvious problem is that I don't have time, but I'm also conflicted about what exactly I should write. It's meant to be authentic and fun, but I don't want to accidentally over share, if that makes sense. 

10. I got a pair of Tom's for $18 the other day- Zappos sent me a random $30 credit  out of nowhere. I was a Nordstrom about to wander into the shoe department and was checking my email, and there it was. Such timing, Zappos. Lucky for me, considering how much I had just shelled out for a bottle of foundation in my ever-present quest to look like I have the skin of a twenty-year-old again. 

April, Revisited, Plus May



Sometimes I think my goals for the month should be:

1. Keep everyone alive
2. Don't lose my shit
3. Prevent house from becoming a hazmat area

But, alas, I like to torture myself. 

Last month's goals and progress:

1. Prep my students for testing: Yes At least to the best of my abilities and as much as they were willing to cooperate. Today was day one and they came out with the perfect level of confidence. Too much in either direction can be unsettling. I'm cautiously optimistic. 

2. Plan something for Sawyer's birthday: Yup We had fun at the aquarium, had his favorite dinner, and did the cake and present thing.

3. Book map up: No This shouldn't so hard.

4. Curb 3-7 snacking: Partially "Curb" is definitely not quite the word I'd use to describe it, but I definitely have improved. Some days I still want to eat everything that has excessive amounts of carbs and fat in the house (and, uh, probably do...), but on the days I'm careful and deliberate it's fine. I've noticed my levels of stress and energy are of course a factor. Smoothies have been a success in the sense that I've made them twice and have like a dozen cute little baggies full of frozen fruits and veggies made in the freezer... why am I lazy about the easiest part? 

5. Finish my audiobook and choose a new one: Yup and yup!

May

1. Abs, abs, and more abs- Once upon a time (aka before Sawyer) my core was fairly strong. Well, at least strong enough that I could pop up in a tripod headstand. While that is definitely something I'd like to be able to do again, right now I'd like to get into a routine of a quick ab routine five days a week.

2. Finalize June travel plans- I'm making two trips to places in June (Lake Tahoe for work and back home for... fun... or something like that) and need to deal with logistics.

3. While at home more iced tea than Diet Soda- Heartbreaking. 

4.  Enjoy the rest of the school year- I know this is probably an oxymoron for a lot of teachers, but the next month for me is the last few weeks I'll be spending with my seniors, an opportunity to get my room organized, and a time to reflect on how I want to start next school year. 

5. Organize Sawyer's toys- I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am responsible for another human's crap. My husband and I have always taken care of our own things, and now I have to sort through the clothes and toys Sawyer has outgrown. I have to clean another person's room. It's sort of bullshit, if you think about it.

6. Do book-related things and post about (some of) them- I'm supposed to attend a reading with a friend on the eleventh, go to a book festival with another friend next weekend, and need to just generally organize my books in general.  

I have decided that if I can stick to all five these I can upgrade my Fitbit at the end of the month. I feel guilty about getting a new one, since mine works just fine, but the of the matter is the black plastic band isn't exactly cute and I'm sick of it standing out when I'm attempting to look nice. 

May! Already! It's exciting. 

April Reviews


Another month, another four books. 

April was good to me, but man were we busy. I'm sitting here on May 1st, barely able to keep my eyes open after another busy weekend, including a six-mile walk around Back Bay in Newport this morning and lots of things done around the house. Oh, and there was the DUPLO building. Such tiring work. 

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
256 pages
I wrote about this collection of essays by the late Keegan here.

Verdict: The youthful, unpolished-ness of it was part of it's charm.   

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
368 pages
I read this as a part of Brie's book club (check it out here!) and had also read What Alice Forgot last year, and enjoyed it. This novel was about a police officer that learns that he suffers from the deadly, debilitating, Huntington's Disease. What makes it even worse, is that he has four children and a grand-baby on the way- the disease in genetic and dominant. The book follows his condition but also the different paths his children take in coping with their 50/50 odds of testing positive for the gene.

Verdict: I enjoyed learning about a medical condition that I was unfamiliar with; I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff (hence my love of Grey's and ER after both lost their original charm). I didn't think the writing was anything amazing; the characters were flat, the dialogue was forced, and the ending a bit predictable. I am also concerned that Genova is a sort of one-trick pony in terms of subject matter.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
320 pages
This book is about an single elementary school teacher by day, artist by night. She's fantastic at her job but filled with rage at the same time, still mourning over the past and feeling stifled by her present and future. This changes when she becomes close to the family of one of her students, falling in love with both parents and the son in three different ways. Nora must learn to decipher her emotions and decide what she wants for the rest of her life. 

Verdict: This book suckered me in with the first few page and continued to hold me in it's grip for the first 2/3 of it. Towards the end I became slightly disinterested, though, and I'm not sure if it was because I took a quick break from reading it or because I really was tired of Nora and her excessive self-analysis. Nonetheless, Messud is a strong writer and is capable of writing strong characters. 

Point Omega by Don DeLillo
117 pages
I just finished this book this weekend, so it's still sort of percolating. This novella is about two men out in the desert skirting around creating a film the younger man wants to make of the older, a man heavily involved in the military. The story is bookended by scenes from an art gallery where the movie Psycho has been slowed down to span twenty-four hours. This idea of time, space, and detail is relevant throughout, the desert a perfect backdrop for the slow, thought-provoking text. While reading this I kept thinking about existentialism and was trying to figure out what it reminded me of, and when I saw an article in the New York Times on later it mentioned Camus. Yes! The Stranger. This meandering sense of self-reflection, dread, and a blinding honesty that maybe in the end isn't as transparent after all. 

Verdict: DeLillo is a tough guy; Underworld is my literary arch-nemesis. I am going to a reading for his new book in a week and a half (hear that? A READING! For someone amazing, too. It's just like old times) and I want to stand up during the Q&A and simultaneously yell at him and kiss his ass. He's a great challenge, though, and I think he's someone you read when you need to put your English degree to work. 

1,061 pages 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hi! Gotta make it quick today! 

1. Tonight I will be attending our annual IB Celebration at the school where I teach, in order to recognize you students and jump into testing season. It really is bittersweet as a senior teacher. This marks the beginning of The End, and while I am ridiculously excited about summer break and proud of their success, I have grown very attached to some of my students and find it a little hard to accept that soon they won't be "my" kids anymore. But, we still have a few weeks so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

2. I was browsing iTunes for new music and checked out the Strumbellas' new album on a whim (basically because I thought their name was strange) and am really enjoying it. 

3. I rarely ever get seriously angry, but getting a text from my husband yesterday morning with our backyard fence knocked over pissed me off beyond belief. Yeah, I'm mad about having to spend the money, but the truth in the matter is that I don't want to have to take care of something else. I don't want to deal with finding a reputable contractor or company to fix it or going back-and-forth between the neighbors. I don't want to have to worry about the liability that comes with an exposed fence and a pool. And I don't want to have to schedule my life around people coming out the house to complete the project. I know this is a part of home ownership and that I'm lucky to have a home, but seriously, I don't have time for this shit right now. Couldn't the wind wait a few more weeks until I'm off?



4. Amusing: people are SO mad at Target because HOW DARE they consider people that are DIFFERENT in their store policies and yet their stock dropped for about five minutes and has gone back to normal levels. Moral of the story- investors don't think there are legitimate financial threats. 

5. I have asthma and it's been acting up big-time lately. Last fall I had problems with it and the doc at urgent care kindly told me that it was probably due to the fact that I needed to get my shit together (well, maybe not quite those words). I don't manage my asthma or allergies well, nor do I my levels of stress (well, I manage them outwardly, but on the inside I'm always two steps away from losing it). Anyway, I think I'm back there again, and probably need to have the pulmonary function test that he recommended done. Sure. Maybe the fence contractor can meet me at my PCP's office and we can talk about my lungs, the fence, grade papers together, and watch my kid.

6. I just finished Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs today and need to pick something else out. I try just sort of go with my mood and expected levels of free time when I choose something, but I'm at standstill right now. Maybe the fact that I'm at an all-time of over 70 unread books on my shelves right now that makes the process a little overwhelming. 


A Tardy Weekend Update (Sawyer Turns Two!)

Sawyer turned two yesterday and instead of a party we took him to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I had never been and while I thought it was neat, I won't be in a huge rush to go back. He enjoyed it, though! We went through the place in maybe ninety minutes, which doesn't really justify the hour drive frequently. But I'm glad we went once! 





We of course did the whole cake and present thing. Now I need to to the whole clean out the old toys thing.




Sunday the kid and I drove down to Carlsbad to see the Flower Fields. I have never been in the middle of the afternoon and it was horrible to find parking (like to the point where I almost turned right around and drove the ninety minutes home). Once we were able to get a spot we took a tractor ride around the property, which Sawyer was convinced was the only purpose of going to the place in the first place. Once he accepted that it was in fact not, and mommy wanted to walk around and buy flowers, he had a blast. 

[ranunculus for days]


I met an older couple on the infamous tractor ride that for once agreed with my sentiments about kids getting older. They were going on and on about how much fun it is to watch your child grow up, instead of lamenting past stages. I find each age more fun than the one before, and while I did love my squishy little ball of baby Sawyer chub, along with his gummy smile, I much prefer having a toddler. I'm excited for him to grow up and do cool things with me that I haven't been able to make anyone else do, like go to the Smithsonian, hike around Yellowstone, visit the Grand Canyon, and whatever else I'm able to persuade him into doing. Plus it'll be exciting to see where his interests lie and to have actual two-sided conversations with him.

Not that having a toddler is always a walk in the park. He can be a picky eater, an inconsistent sleeper (still! He was doing really well for the past few weeks, but birthday weekend has apparently disrupted his schedule), and feisty as hell. But nothing that working with teenagers hasn't prepared me for! 

Happy birthday, kid. You're the best. 

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