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 
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