The Reading Situation

What I'm Currently Reading:
Evicted by Matthew Desmond- This is for book club and while it's really important and infuriating, it's also really depressing, which isn't doing anything for my mood.

So many papers- This is typically one of the craziest weeks of the year for me; parent-teacher conferences always coincides with the ending of a work-of-study (this time Macbeth), so I'm buried. Imagine someone (me), being buried in the sand up to their nose, but pretend the sand is now essays and assignments. 

Halloween children's books- Sawyer has a few that he loves and he's super pumped to trick-or-treat this year, so we've been reading them quite frequently.

Articles on how much water sprinklers use- Fun story: I received my water bill today and it had gone up a lot. I panicked, thinking that we have a leak somewhere slowly destroying our foundation or inner walls. THERE GOES MY TRAVEL FUND. I then remembered we have had some sprinkler repairs, so I got swallowed by landscaping articles. An hour or two later my husband came home and reminded me we had increased our outdoor watering by two days a week. And there you have it. 

What I Actually Want to Be Reading:

Banff, Jasper & Glacier National Parks Lonely Planet Guide- I want to reserve the hotels for next summer in the next week. I need to plan and overwhelm myself with information! 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng- I read about thirty pages of this and then put it on the back burner for everything else. It was such a tease.

Recent Acquisitions

The Accusation by Bandi- Stories out of North Korea

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander- Clearly the political and social climate of the country and world are influencing my reading. 


You Are Not  a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett- This collection of short stories is quite old, but I had no idea he had written so much else!

Good Without God by Greg Epstein- Religion is hard. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward- All the cool kids are doing it.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[spotted on the way to preschool]

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Ten things I've done lately:

1. Went to Knott's Berry Farm with Sawyer and Scott over the weekend. It had been a decade since I'd gone and it was Sawyer's first time- we had a blast! Tickets are cheap if you buy them online and then for like ten bucks more than a regular gate ticket you can upgrade to an annual pass, so I did. The park is so much more affordable and less busy that Disneyland, so it will be fun option for Sawyer and I. 

[confession: I ate an entire boysenberry funnel cake at Knott's]

2. Bite my tongue, many, many times. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes I think I let people get away with things. 

3. Take Sawyer out cruising on his scooter. He's getting good! 

4. Have bad dreams. The other night I dreamt that I was late to a morning meeting and when I got to preschool to drop Sawyer off I realized I had left him upstairs with Scott and was two hours late to something important. 

5. Decide to take the plunge and book the lodging for our summer vacation. I hope to do it in the next few days and will do the flights later (we are going to Banff in Canada!). I always have a reason to possibly put off a large trip (intimidated by schlepping around a car seat alone in an airport, my financial conservatism, etc...). I need something super awesome to look forward to. Plus the idea of getting my three-year-old a passport is equal parts awesome and weird to me (I got my first one when I was in my mid-twenties!). 

6. Cancel my tickets to the Jennifer Egan reading next week, since it's on parent-teacher conference night. Womp womp womp.

7. Run and run and run. I have a 10k on Sunday and while I don't have major hopes of doing amazing, I am fairly confident I will manage okay for where I am at right now. The biggest issue I am having right now is the fact that while this hobby makes me feel fit and less stressed, it also makes me more tired than I already am.

8. Make very slow process on reading Evicted for book club next week. 

9. Bought a new comforter for the guest bedroom- my mom is coming in to town next weekend and my mother-in-law the weekend after (Sawyer will be in heaven! So many grandmas!). Guess where the comforter is? In the bags, on the floor, because there's so much crap on the actual bed. Sigh. 

10. Worry about the fires. The Canyon 2 fire is about thirty minutes away from us, so while we aren't at risk it's been so upsetting seeing people so close lose their homes and not be able to get past evacuation boundaries. The fires upstate are far, far worse and even more devastating. I think the common perception was that California would have an easier fire season because we had so much rain last winter. In reality, the rain catalyzed a ton of growth, when then naturally dried out during the hot summer. And here we are. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! Link up, link back, say hey!

1. I bought myself a little Keurig for my classroom and it way the best decision I've made in a long time. Why did it take so long? My room is freezing and I'm always tired- now I can be warm and artificially awake. It's a win-win.

2. I recently stayed Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, which I am liking so far, but I think I will have to put it on the back burner so I can read Evicted for book club in two weeks. I've heard mixed reviews, so I've been dragging my feet on starting. 

3. I also need to start rereading Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, since that's what we're reading next, now that our study of Macbeth it finally over. I have grown to love the play, but we're approaching two months, which is more than enough on any work, as far as I'm concerned. 

4. I finished my last audiobook and was really stumped on my next selection. On a whim I downloaded What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman, a travel memoir. So far it's pretty entertaining and perfect for the car. 

5. This weekend is going to be a busy one! Saturday we have Sawyer's pumpkin patch for preschool and a community safety event nearby that has emergency vehicles on display (I have a three-year-old, free things like this make him very happy). Sunday, if the weather is cool enough, the three of us are going to head to Knott's Berry Farm. And somewhere in there I plan to make croissants, clean my house, run 5 or 6 miles, and grade 57439439573 papers. Gimme all the coffee. 

Now for the serious business:

6. Now is the time to talk about gun control. Actually, years and years ago was the time to talk about and act on it. Why the hell do civilians need assault rifles? Why would they ever need a silencer? Why do they need dozens of weapons? Fine, have your one or two shotguns after you've passed extensive background to go shoot ducks or whatever out in the country, if that's your thing. I'm not saying no guns ever. What I am saying is that we need some massive reform and we needed it years ago. 

7. Puerto Rico is a mother-effing mess and those people are Americans. And is now, when they're hungry and thirsty and dying, really the time to deliver guilt trips about the budget, which they contribute to financially? I think not. So stop throwing paper towels at these poor people and get them the support they need. 

8. How did the day come where Rex Tillerson looks... somewhat qualified? How is he the voice of reason? 

October Goals

October! Yes! September had some great times (apple picking, Tall Ships Festival, a cooking class, etc...), but some not so fabulous ones either (numerous colds/mild cases of bronchitis/a sinus infection passing through our house, getting more and more behind at work, etc..). I'm looking forward to the beginning of fall.

For those newer around here, every month I set a few goals and review those from the previous month. Some are book/blog related, some are not, but more than anything I just try to hold myself accountable and this has proven a good way to do so. 

A look back at September:

1. Prep for the week: Nope I did a few things here and there, but not consistently enough to say I truly did.

2. Keep logging calories: Yup! I was really good about this and have lost a few more pounds (because of this and running).

3. Organize book shelves No I'm scared.

4. Write down all personal expenditures: Yes! I did a really good job at this and feel like there are a few areas I can work on going forward.

5. Get rid of 100 things: Probably not Being sick two weekends of the month put a damper on things

October Goals

1. Organize the book shelves: Let's try again

2. Eat a lot of veggie burgers: I am horrible at eating vegetables consistently and I love the convenience of eating the Dr. Praeger ones for lunch, so I'm trying to eat them three or four days a week.

3. Run a 10k I'm pleased with: I have two weeks to go! 

4. Cross stitching progress: This is always first to fall off the radar when things get busy, which they are right now. 

5. No social media after ten of week nights: I'm not too bad, I'm not exactly laying in bed until eleven checking Instagram, but I need a hard and fast rule to help me make sure I'm getting as much sleep as possible.

6. Make croissants: This needs to happen ASAP since I don't want everything in my class to be forgotten. 

My next monthly post will be at the start of my favorite month! November is coming! 

September Books

I am definitely not sad to see September go! This was a busy month filled with getting acclimated to new schedules, back-to-school sicknesses galore, a general lack of sleep, the horrible news cycle, and everything else. Plus, October means one more "regular" month and we get into the holiday season with vacations and super fun activities. But, anyway, the reading. I read five books this month, heavy in the nonfiction department:

A Long Way from Home by Saroo Brierly 
288 pages 
My husband told me about the movie and said he though I'd like this book about a young boy who was separated from his family in India and ended up adopted by an Australian couple. He lived there quite happily for his childhood and young adulthood, and then became obsessed with tracking down his biological family, based on the memories from his five-year-old self. He uses Google Earth and is eventually able to reconstruct his old town, finding his family upon visiting.

Verdict: I enjoyed this story and was impressed by his abilities to use technology to find such a tiny village, but the whole thing was a little bit anticlimactic since the reader starts off knowing that they are reunited.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
145 pages
This was a reread for work- you know the drill: Macbeth ends up making sure the prophecies of the Three Witches come to fruition. Blood is spilled, hands need to be washed, the woods move, and c-section baby Macduff gets his revenge.

Verdict: I think this is my fifth time reading this play and, like any Shakespearean play I read, I always like it more when the reading is actually done.

I Hear She's a Real Bitch by Jen Agg
368 pages
I wrote about this restaurant owner's memoir here

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
464 pages
I wrote about this incredibly powerful story here

What Happened by Hillary Clinton
512 pages
I wrote about this depressing time in American history here.

(sorry for all the "click here" links today! I didn't realize I had written about so many books directly this month!)

1,777 pages 

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton- My Favorite Quotes

It took me a few weeks, but I have finally finished What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton. I was a little concerned about it being too dry and possibly a bit boring, but I actually found it full of personality, quite interesting, and accessible. There are some sections that I found to be a little too "politician kissing babies," if you know what I mean, but as a whole it was nice to see her on a different level (albeit still polished, so the guard was definitely still up). Nothing incredibly revolutionary was confessed or revealed, either, but I didn't have high hopes to be stunned. Instead, it's a reflective, fairly humble piece on Clinton's time on the campaign, the election, and the aftermath. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"I prayed for help to put the sadness and disappointment of my defeat behind me... so that the rest of my life wouldn't be spent like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations..." (32). 

"To me, it means not just being grateful for the good things, because that's easy, but also to be grateful for the hard things to" (34).

"We know now that I lost that bet-- not because a Republican came along and made a more credibly counteroffer to middle-class voters but because Donald Trump did something else: appeal to the ugliest impulses of our national character" (81).

"This has to be said: sexism and misogyny played a role in the 2016 presidential election" (114).

"If we're tough, we're unlikable. If we're soft, we're not cut out of the big leagues. If we work too hard, we're neglecting our families. It we put family first, we're not serious about the work" (119).

"We did not win, but we made the sight of a woman nominee more familiar" (145).

"They also faced different, deeper fears that I never had to think about. My daughter and grandchildren are white. They won't know what it's like to be watched with suspicion... People won't lock their car doors when they walk by" (176). 

"I am more convinced than ever that driving progress in a big, raucous democracy like ours requires a mix of principles and pragmatism- plus a whole lot of persistence" (196).

"Joe Biden says, 'Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value'" (224).

"One of the most important but least recognized facts in American politics is that Republicans tend to win in places where more people are pessimistic or uncertain about the future, while Democrats tend to win where people are more optimistic" (278).

"Trump doesn't think in terms of morality or human rights, he thinks only in terms of power and dominance" (334).

" reason the Russian misinformation campaign was successful was that our country's natural defenses had been worn down over several years by powerful interests that sought to make it harder for Americans to distinguish between truth and lies" (365).

"Even if Comey caused just 0.6 percent of Election Day voters to change their votes, and even if that swing only occurred in the Rust Belt, it would have been enough to shift the Electoral College from me to Trump" (406).

"I was the first Democrat since FDR to win Orange County, California," (424).

"'What do we do now?' I said. There was only one answer: 'Keep going'" (464).  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Last week was rough, so I wasn't able to share any of the pictures from our little apple picking trip. It was early in the season, so the apples weren't completely ready, but the place was pretty empty, which was a worthwhile trade off. I made an apple pie and applesauce with the excessive amounts of apples Sawyer picked.

2. Last weekend I took a croissant making class at Sur La Table in Newport with my good friend and it was so much fun! Once upon a time I attempted to make them at home and failed miserably, so when I saw this I jumped on it immediately. We ended up being the only two in the class, so we basically had a private lesson, which was awesome. I might attempt to make them on my own this weekend, if I have the time/energy/guts. 

3. Would it be weird to crowd-source knitting lessons on our neighborhood HOA page? I want to learn how, but I want someone local to teach me. I'll pay! 

4. I'm several months behind, but Andy Weir, the author of The Martian, has a new book coming out in November. I had a lot of students who ended up being fans, so I anticipate having a lot of book talks about that one next semester. 

5. My iPhone 6 is two years and some change and has slowed down SO MUCH in the last three or so weeks. I don't know if it's because my phone is "old" or because of the supposed conspiracies that Apple does it when there are new models out, but I'm over it. I'm still really resentful that I can't get the like $399 rate for renewing my contract and either have to shell out twice that much or agree to the monthly plan. I know. Such privileged, first-world problems. I'm sorry.

6. To redeem myself a tiny bit, let me just say that while I am THRILLED Saudi women can drive now, I hate the fact that this is even a thing. My God. 

7. I have a few minutes left listening to The Couple Next Door and I must say that the last hour or so, once the mystery was basically solved, has been almost boring. It might just be my impatient, admittedly, but I'm ready to choose something new.

8. We're on the cusp of October! So many fun things coming up- my mom is coming down, a 10k in Huntington, Halloween, a possible Knott's Berry Farm trip, and lots of other little fun seasonal activities (and hopefully much cooler weather). 

Four Reasons Why You Should Read The Hate U Give

I'm not a YA reader, but when I learned what The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was about and saw the incredible buzz it was getting, I gave in. I read the book in an entire weekend, sincerely concerned for the main character, Starr, and how she was coping with being the only witness to her childhood friend's shooting by a police officer. There were some definite "YA-y" elements that I am not a fan of (a few instances of dialogue, a few cheesy teenage moments, etc...), but Thomas and Starr were easy to forgive and I am so happy I read it. Here's why you should to (that is if you haven't, since everyone else has):

1. No matter where your political and social opinions lie you need to read this book for a really important perspective on race, police brutality, poverty, the BLM, and gang dynamics. I try to be informed about all of these things and consider myself pretty liberal, but seeing it out of the eyes, albeit fictional, of this character made me feel in a way I haven't necessarily before. 

2. Despite some very real, tragic, heartbreaking moments, there is still hope and optimism for African Americans, race relations, those in poverty, and our society as a whole in this book. If people are willing to work and talk, we can move towards some sort of okay (or better).

3. I absolutely loved Starr's family- her nurse mother, her ex-con turned small-business owner father, her siblings, and even her conflicted police officer uncle. The characters possessed depth, humanity, and were just extremely lovable and real. Actually, all the characters represented important archetypes, which is important because this means pretty much anyone who reads this book can find themselves in it and see how their role might impact others and society as a whole. 

4. Read it so that you can recommend it to people and buy it for them to Christmas. People who are liberal and conservative, who are white or people of color. Everyone needs to read this. I plan to let my students have the option to read it next semester for their outside reading, since their genre requirement is one that deals with a social issue they're concerned about (YA is usually off the table, but again, this book is worthy of an exception). 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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Today has been one of those days where a lot of little things have gone wrong and I'm just.... done. For example: today is my late day, so I don't get home until 5:30 (mind you I left the house before 7). I promptly dropped my heavy MacBook charger prong down on my big toe (all the expletives), busted it open and now possibly might have a broken toe, as the swelling, throbbing, and inability to bend it seem to indicate. Fine. FINE UNIVERSE. Then I went to urgent care after Sawyer was in bed for this annoying burning, slightly suffocating, feeling accompanied by an inconsistent cough that's left over from a cold I had over two weeks ago (this always happens when I get it lands in my chest- my asthmatic lungs can't hang) and they decided the only option was prednisone, which makes me crazy. Seriously. I won't be able to sleep and I end up so hyper-aware of everything that I'll be able to like hear my hair grow. I'll get a lot done and my lungs will feel better, but that stuff ruins me. Sleep? Ha! Unfortunately, the doc said it's really my only option unless I want to risk pneumonia. Thanks, sir. I arrived at the pharmacy as it was closing, so now I can't get my mania-inducing prescription until tomorrow. And so on and so forth. 

I'm done. So here we are. 

Let's just say I'm going to go eat a lot of Lucky Charms, ice my toe, read a little bit of What Happened by HRC and hit the hay. This too shall pass. 

I'll be back soon (possibly a lot if I have super fun prednisone insomnia). 

Lemme Tell You a Story (5)

It's been a few months since I've dumped some Instastories on you guys, so here are some to lighten the mood (have you seen the news today? Ugh times a million):

[I won't, I won't]

College: The Rights and Wrongs

This time of the year many of my old students tend to touch bases with me, letting me know what college classes they’re enrolled in, what they’ve changed their major to, what they’re struggling with, and what they’re excelling at. I love it. Not only is it validating that we’ve done something right at the high school level, it’s also genuinely exciting to see the kids that I’ve cared about so much grow as individuals. I also become quite reflective about my own undergraduate career at UCLA, pondering the good along with the bad. If I could go back in time and have a do-over I’d change many, many things, although I also have to give myself credit for not completely screwing up.

Can I Get a Re-Do

Going Abroad- I really, really wish I would have taken a quarter or two and went to Europe. Truth be told, I was worried about my finances and boyfriend issues to make the jump, which was ridiculous. This is hands down my biggest regret. 

Joining More Student Organizations- I was very involved in high school and then hit the brakes on all extracurricular activities in college. It’s such a shame! I almost wish I would have even joined a sorority, just to get me out there more. 

Taking Advantage of Cultural Opportunities- UCLA and the surrounding areas are teeming with museums, readings, exhibits, lectures, etc… and while I got much better about being out-and-about my last year or two, I wish I would have taken advantage of my proximity to so much culture.

Going to More Sporting Events- The Bruins excel at so many NCAA sports and I totally failed at going to watch them. I think I’ve gone to more as an alumnus!

Working Less- I worked a lot as an assistant to the research coordinator at the vascular center at the UCLA Medical Center. It was an awesome job that started as a work study position and extended because we were such a good fit. I worked constantly, though, walking to campus for class, walking back to work, walking back to class, etc… and then working full time for three of my summers. I am so thankful for the opportunity, but I should have worked a little less and played (and studied) a little more.

Ditching the High School Boyfriend Sooner- We were not happy or a good match, and I spent a lot of time commuting from LA to Irvine to see him, as opposed to improving my own life on campus. The relationship made my insecurities so much worse and I wasted a lot of time stressing about it (sorry D if you read this... luckily we are both well-adjusted, married adults now). 

Taking “Random” Classes- I loved most of my English classes, but I wish I would have taken a few off-the-wall courses or ones to enrich my other interests (architecture or nutrition, for example).

But, Seriously. Good Job on This Stuff:

Fiscally Responsible- I left college with less than $1,000 in credit card debt, a reasonable amount of student loans, and a few thousand dollars in savings for an emergency. I was frugal, but I recognized the importance of shelling out the cash for a good haircut, the occasional dinner out, and taking care of my car.

Efficiency- Because I was working a lot and commuting from Orange County to LA for two of the four years, I had to use my time wisely. I was young and my to-do list game was pretty basic, but I learned a lot about prioritizing and multi-tasking (this is something that has it’s pros and cons, but reading for class on the elliptical was always a good idea).

Gym Rat- Because of issues with stress and anxiety that are so common with college students (and humans in general), I took to the gym to get a handle on things during freshman year. I took advantage of the free student membership when I lived on campus and then bought one to LA Fitness later. I will be forever thankful that this habit has stuck with my fifteen years later.

Learning to Cope/Staying- I had a really hard time after moving over five hours away from my family and at one point I started researching how dropping out/transferring would affect my student loans and status. Luckily I sort of woke up and realized that there was no way I’d trade UCLA for Cal State Stanislaus and decided to stay. It was hard and I spent a lot of time feeling lonely, but I am proud of myself for forcing myself to deal with the rough stuff.

No matter what, I'm proud of the fact that I got into a great school and graduated from it, on my own. I figured out how to financially get myself through school and how to manage life in general. My experiences there made me stronger, smarter, and ready for the "real" world. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday (or whatever day you're reading this)! Link up, link back, say hey!

1. I have felt healthier and happier the past few days than I have in weeks- I give credit to the passing of my chest cold, ten or fifteen minutes more of sleep than usual at night, and my increased running over the last week. I ran three miles last Friday, four on Sunday, and three yesterday. Obviously that's not that much compared to when training really ramps up in a few months, but I'm pleased with how things are going so far.

2. Last weekend I took Sawyer to Dana Point to the Tall Ships Festival and we had a really great time. Parking was free offsite and they drove attendees over in trolleys to the dock, which made the whole things so much better. We were able to walk around six ships, explore the oceanography center, and look through the vendors for less than $20 for the two of us. There were lots of pirates walking around and the weather was perfect. 

3. This weekend I'm hoping to get up to the hills, to Oak Glen, for some early apple picking. I've been before, but it's always been later in the season when things are picked over and the warmer weather makes a reappearance. This week it's barely supposed to be 70 degrees and the orchards have just been open for a week or two. Should be fun and will be a good excuse to make a pie. 

4. I love this post from Sally on cupcakes tips. It's always a good idea to review the basics.

5. Fantasy Football is in full swing! I lost horribly last week, but I'm still having fun. There are ten of us, women I invited from work and friends, and I'm hoping to host a big brunch at the end of the season.

6. I really miss bike riding outside. It's such a hassle, though, taking my bike off the trainer, taking the car seat out of my car, detaching the wheel, driving to the trail, and then reversing the process when I'm done. 

7. I started Hillary Clinton's new memoir What Happened last night. I'm about 25 pages in and it's a lot more readable than I thought it was going to be. I was worried it would be dry and too full of facts and figures, but it's not (at least not yet). 

8. I ordered The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas this morning, since I have heard nonstop great things about it for awhile. I don't read YA, but given the fact I teach high school and the way things are socially in our country, I thought I just should. So I will. 

9. I finished Cat Marnell's How to Murder Your Life audiobook and... wow. She was a beauty editor at Lucky and worked at several other magazines over the years, all while being a massive addict. I felt so conflicted while listening to her; I sympathized with her mental health issues, but I was also disgusted by the connection between her privilege and drug accessibility. I rooted for her, but I was also frustrated by her. It was a good listen, and if you've read magazines for ages like I have you would probably enjoy it. 

10.  I am currently listening to The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena (clearly my listening choices differ very much from my actual reading choices, but that's for another time... unless I've already written about it...?). I think it's going to keep me interested, if I can get over how idiotic the parents of the missing baby are...

Four Reasons Why You Should Read I Hear She's a Real Bitch

The kind people at Penguin provided me with this ARC- all opinions are my own.

I am a huge sucker for restaurant-related memoirs and the fact that I Head She's a Real a Bitch by Jen Agg is written by a  strong, feminist owner made it even more enticing. Here are five reasons why you should pick it up:

1. Jen Agg is honest- you can just tell. She admits her strengths and weaknesses, is the right amount of self-deprecating, and is willing to provide multiple perspectives. She gives a candid look at relationships, intimate (seriously- you will learn a lot about her very active sex life) and professional, as well as her thoughts on her role in the industry. 

2. As someone who spent several summers working in different restaurants during college, including one that was just opening, I greatly appreciated the attention to detail regarding the ownership side of things. Opening a place is no joke and Agg's passion for entrepreneurship is exciting and energetic. I love the nuts and bolts that go on behind the scenes and she provides plenty of them. 

3. She's unapologetically feminist, but admits to her flaws. She's strong and up to the task and isn't afraid to tell men to back down and let her execute her plans. Agg is willing to stand for herself and other women, even when it's not the popular opinion, which she has faced public backlash for doing.

4. The writing is witty, conversational, tough when it needs to be, and obviously comes from the place of experience and intensity. I'm maybe a tiny bit afraid of Agg, but mostly I want to sit down and talk crap over a G & T with her.

It's not perfect- I didn't love the excessive caps at a few points and I thought some of the chapter ending illustrations or diagrams were a little overkills. But the strengths definitely outweigh the flaws- this is a book I would have picked up anyway. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. This has been a really frustrating week: I brought home a chest cold last week, Sawyer got it with a fever and I had to stay home yesterday, DACA ending and worrying about my students, a new weird stomach pain I've developed, not getting to run/work out for almost a week, etc... I just need Friday. I'm a mess. 

2. I know this is silly, but I can't wait for Trader Joe's to bring out their $1 mini pumpkins. I buy a million.

3. If Sawyer and I are up to it I hope to go to the Dana Point Tall Ships Festival on Saturday. They have I think four or five out to explore, plus lots of other fun activities to participate in.

4. I'm currently reading an arc of Jen Agg's I Hear She's a Real Bitch and so far it's excellent. I'm a sucker for restaurant-related books, thought. 

5. Any brilliant tips for helping a little guy not bite his nails? I put the gross polish on them after trying a few other things, but it wears off and I forget to reapply and I feel like we're not making progress. He seems to just do it when he's bored, and I know he's doing it at school. 

Running Around (Again)

I've taken to this space several times before to discuss my running, for better of worse. Calling it running seems a little indulgent, to be honest, since I am quite slow, but jogging just sound sounds lame. So humor me- I run. I've been a runner for many, many years and ran my first half marathon in 2010 (I think?). Since then I have done 11 and a smattering of 5ks and 10ks, both of which are awkward distances for me, as my goal is always endurance and never speed. I haven't run a half marathon in over a year and a half, due to a deformed toe, an extra bone in my ankle, a mysterious hip pain, and lack of time. I've maintained an active lifestyle, working out 4-6 times a week in various ways, though, so despite not being race-ready, I'm still not exactly a couch potato. 

This summer things started changing, though. I wanted to train. I needed to train. My hip problem had gotten progressively worse, though, and after and MRI and a visit with the orthopedist I ended up with a cortisone shot, which has made the pain 95% disappear. I've slowly added the miles back on over the last five weeks, aiming to run four times a week for whatever I can manage. I signed up for a 10k in October and realized that if I decided to train for my favorite half marathon, Surf City, in Huntington Beach, in February, this would work perfectly training wise. 

I didn't want to jump the gun, though, and told myself if I could keep to a four-times a week plan for five weeks and was feeling good then I could sign up for the half. So I did and I did. My hip feels great and my toe is fine if I tape it up carefully. My endurance has also been steadily increasing (it's nowhere near what it needs to be, though) and I have lost a few pounds as well. Training to train has been positive.

I have to admit being a little nervous about the whole thing, though. I am six months out from race day and I created a training plan for myself that calls for four runs a week with one long one on the weekends, which is a time commitment that I will be tough at times. Luckily the weather will cool down some soon, which will make things easier, but still. Running for an hour at night after a long day or work once Sawyer is in bed isn't always what I want to do, nor is getting up and busting out anywhere from 3.5 to 12.5 on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I have also not decided on a system of incorporating speed work, nor have I made any sort of commitment to strength training, which my legs and core need. There are some holes in my plan, obviously. 

I want this race to be different than the rest. I've never been great at sticking to a training plan and it's been a very long time since I PR'ed. I don't necessarily expect to do that this time around (or do I?), but I want to finish feeling like I didn't waste my time training. 

Here we go! 

September Goals

For those who are new around here, I tend to start off each month with some goals (personal, professional, health, reading, social, etc...), just for public accountability purposes (and guaranteed post topic, duh). I opted for some broader ones over the summer, but now I'm back to the month-by-month schedule that I've done before.

September is shaping up to be a fun month. I hope to go to the Tall Ships Festival in Dana Point next weekend, have plans to go to a cooking class with a friend two weeks later, and I also want to head towards the orchards for some apple picking. And who knows what else! And here's what I'm attempting goal-wise for this month:

1. Prep for the week: In my ever-constant quest for the most efficient life ever, I want to work on doing a better job doing a few little things here and there to prep for the week on Sundays. 

2. Keep logging calories: This is absolutely the only way I can ever lose weight, and I'd like to drop a few pounds (nothing crazy, but after a long summer at home with full access to the fridge it's time to clean up shop). I started a few weeks ago and it's already proven to be successful, so I'd like to keep it up. I always take a cliched cheat day, but the other six I've been pretty diligent. I do everything on my Fitbit App, so at least it's streamlined with my exercise stats.

3. Organize book shelves: You know how it goes, you've gotten some books over the course of several months, and now it's time to shuffle things around so they all fit. 

4. Write down all personal expenditures: I try to do this a few times a year to just make myself aware of what my spending habits are and where I should make changes, if necessary. 

5. Get rid (donate or trash) of 100 things: I hate it when things accumulate. 

Have a lovely September! 

August Reviews

It’s always a little sad to see my reading plummet from ten or so books a month during the summer down to four once school starts, but gotta make that money, right? Here’s what went down:

Anthem by Ayn Rand
66 pages
This was my first Rand book, as I have successfully avoided her thus far. A student of mine whom I am advising for a large essay is discussing this novella, so I had to suck it up. For those who haven’t read it, Rand’s dystopian story describes a time where we must speak collectively, don’t have our real names, and have no control over our lives.

Verdict: I appreciate what she’s doing here, both in content and in writing, but I just feel like there are so many other books from this genre that do a better job.

How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King
384 pages
I bought a few parenting books after Sawyer had a few rough days at preschool, and consequently home (things were much better by the time the books had even arrived, as it was just a bit of an “oh crap this whole preschool thing is the new normal?” sort of transition thing on his part and a "did I screw my kid up somehow?" moment on mine) that we have now all accepted and learned to love). A large portion of this books is spent giving tips and tools to how to acknowledge the feelings of your kids, make things more playful, offer choices, articulating feelings, etc…

Verdict: I don’t think there was anything groundbreaking in here, but it did serve as a really good reminder to me to maintain patience, validate his feelings, and to talk more rather than just lay down the law or put him on a time out. I do disagree with some of their ideas, though; I think that maybe they’re a little too lax about mealtimes, I do think that the occasional time out is effective, and I’m not going to make  a game out of every single clean up session, thanks.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
276 pages
I wrote about it here.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
244 pages
This nonfiction work follow several people in the slums of Mumabi, undertaking heavy facts of every day life for them, like poverty, class, politics, social infrastructure, and corruption.

Verdict: This took me awhile to get through, but I think that was because I was reading it at the very beginning of the school year. Boo writes this true story more like a novel, without delivering pages upon pages of statistics like many books like this would. It was definitely a sobering look at how others live and it made me pause and be much more thankful for what I have.

970 pages 

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

There's been a lot of buzz around Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire and for good reason. Here's five reasons why you should pick it up immediately:

1. The modern retelling of Antigone is spot-on. I have read Sophocles' play four times and Home Fire does an excellent job of making some critical parallels but also maintaining it's own identity. I will say that you don't have to read the Greek tragedy, but it will enhance the experience if you have or do. 

2. The structure of the text, which maintains a third-person narration but provides the vantage point of the major characters in their own sections, works perfectly for the pacing of this story. Everyone possessed their own depth, revealing their strengths and weaknesses.  

3. Shamsie is brave enough to humanize a member of ISIS, but she doesn't attempt to demand sympathy, either. The social and political sentiment in timely and important. 

4. The familial relationships are incredibly strong but also ridiculously conflicted. So many of the characters were tested- what will you do for you brother? Twin? Son? Father? This would make an outstanding book club selection for that thematic component alone. 

5. Shamsie's writing is beautifully simplistic and complicated at the same time. Her descriptions are detailed without being over-the-top and the emotion she evokes palpable.

I am pretty much recommending this book to everyone I see, including all of my students, since they read Antigone last spring. It's really that good, I promise.