Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1. I had my second Covid-19 shot on Monday and ended up feeling like a dumpster fire. Albeit a very grateful dumpster fire, but it was still a rough day and a half (especially getting it on a Monday... starting the week feeling horrible was not the best. Nonetheless, I am happy I got my appointments!). I feel fine now, but I still have a pretty swollen, red bump at the injection site. Interestingly, both times I had my shots I was told that I was a "bleeder" and was asked if I was on blood thinners (I am not). I left a message with my doctor, curious to see why that might be, and I guess she wants me to make an appointment. Sigh. I don't think it's anything and was hoping she'd just send a message back telling me not to worry, but it does feel irresponsible not to follow up. 

2. An appointment I am over-the-moon excited for? My hair. I had it done in August and am lucky that my stylist is willing to do my hair at her house (one of the perks of going to the same person for like 16 years). I am most definitely not one of those people content with their highlights growing out and hints of grey popping in, nor am I in love with my dry ends. It's a hot mess right now and I can't wait for order to be restored. 

3. Sawyer, my first grader, goes back to school on Monday. We've had like 391 start dates this year, but this is the real deal. Our county case numbers have gone way down and TK-6 grades can start back once their safety plans are approved my the county and state, which his district's have. He goes back for 2.5 hours four afternoons a week and I am incredibly thankful that he has the opportunity to be around others and that I am able to transport him without stressing about my schedule. It will be super weird to have him not at home... He has been under parent supervision for 11.5 months straight, so having him out in the world feels strange. I predict I'll be used to to it after approximately two days. I also predict that I will cry my eyes out on the way home from taking him (although not too much, since I have another class to teach when I get home, haha). 

4. I started my symbol-per-book embroidery hoop and am really pleased with the format. I am determined to keep up with it this year!

5. Once upon a time, when I was in seventh grade I took an aerobics elective class and I remember really liking it and thinking it was a good workout. Lately I have been taking Ellie to play outside a lot in the backyard and I've been using the pool border as a sort of step, just to move around and kill time. I then realized what I was doing was basically step aerobics and decided I might buy a step for inside and really get in touch with my inner eighties work out woman (pastel leotard optional). 

6. I am reading Interior Chinatown Charles Yu right now and am really enjoying it. We have book club for it on Friday and I can't wait to discuss it. I'm also making my way through Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, which has been really thought-provoking and humbling. 

7. Never, ever, ever put in your information in a car dealer website- they will never leave you alone. I mean in a way I think that I am playing hard-to-get is giving me some leverage, but still. So annoying (and totally my fault). I honestly don't know what I'm waiting for... 

8. I did something amazing the other day: I got the email I use for students and Google Classroom down to ZERO. ZERO! Magic, I tell ya.

9. I just read an interesting article on CNN on how family estrangement is increasing, especially in regards to the parent-child relationship. I am so, so, so thankful for how close I am to my mom and that I talk to at least one or two of my three siblings each week, even if it's just a quick text. It's great how there are little niches carved out for the three of them, whether animals, Harry Potter, sports, exercise, reading, whatever. I miss my family so much, but I am so happy we've made efforts in our own ways to stay connected. I think my mom and Sawyer have an exciting lunch date this weekend, which makes me so happy to see.

10. Three nonfiction books I've added to my wishlist:
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee 
The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Practices into Soulful Practices by Casper 
Running with Sherman: How a Rescue Donkey Inspired a Ragtag Runners to Enter the Craziest Race in America by Christopher McDougall 

Bloggers Banter: Bastard Out of Carolina

Julie and I did another buddy read and post on Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. Read our conversation below:

Christine: First of all, I have to admit that I read this when I was probably sophomore or so in high school and didn't remember how intense, and graphic, it was! It was on a recommended reading list from an English teacher and I thought it would be funny to put a book with the word "bastard" on my Christmas list. Nonetheless, as an adult I thought it was heartbreaking, powerful,  and well-written. 

Julz: I can’t even believe you read this as a 14-year-old.  I do have to admit, it probably would have made me feel less guilty about certain things I felt as an adolescent had I read it at that age. 

But good heavens, the rape scene was pretty much the most terrible chapter ever. And I’ve read some graphic stuff (American Psycho, The Painted Bird).  Even typing the words Daddy Glen makes me nauseous.  

Christine: I think Bone's mother, Annie, was one of the most frustrating, infuriating characters in the text for me that I really had to push myself to feel any sort of empathy for (she chose to basically ignore the fact that her husband was abusing her daughter). What about you? 

Julz: Yup, infuriating is the word I would have used, too.  But (playing devil’s advocate here), she was seduced at 14, a mother by 15, a widow at 19, and married to an abusive douche at 21. Tragedy piled on top of tragedy.  Ultimately, though, she was the enabler, and I know well enough that those are the worst kinds of people.  

Christine: I think that's a good point, that she was so much younger than she seems. The circumstances of her life aged her so quickly, and while that does make me muster up some sympathy I still think there is some sort of inherent maternal right/wrong one would have hoped she'd developed. I guess her leaving Bone at the end was really the only thing she was capable of doing to help her daughter.

One interesting theme that stood out to me was the emphasis on physical beauty. So much time was spent describing characters, evaluating whether they were good looking, etc… They lacked the means to provide better lives for themselves, but being naturally attractive was free. What did you make of the running commentary on appearances?

Julz: (in response to Christine’s most English teacher question so far) Beauty is a commodity.  If it helped Anney earn more tips, so be it.  Uncle Earle probably got let off the hook more often than not because he had handsome features and knew how to flaunt them.

Christine: This book is quite episodic. So many of them stood out to me- the whole chapter on theft, her aunt's nervous breakdown, and her relationship with Shannon. What about you?

Julz: I certainly didn’t think Shannon would meet her end as she did!  That was a helluva punchline for that episode.  My favorite was the break-in at Woolworth’s.  I could not figure out the dredge/grappling hook obsession until I realized how nefarious it could actually be.  The episodic nature reminded me a little of Owen Meany, except without the symbolism.  Speaking of, we encountered Wheelwrights in Irving and now we have Boatwrights…

Christine: Besides Bone, I really loved Uncle Earle. He of course had some less-than-redeeming qualities, but I appreciated his protective nature and honesty. Who did you gravitate towards?

Julz: Aunt Raylene is the one I connected with and admired most.  Probably because of her stoicism.  I figured her out from the get-go, but she still had a mysterious aura.  I loved her independence and resourcefulness.  She wasn’t maternal, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t fiercely defend her family.

Speaking of family, the Aunt factor here had a bit in common with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  And Bone and Francie are both good students who escape into books.  Did any other similarities resonate with you?

Christine: I can see that, now that you mention it. I hope that Bone was able to use her bookish tendencies to escape poverty. And aunts in general are often an interesting sort of archetype- a romanticized version of the mother. I remember when I was young I adored one of my mom's sisters. I thought she was so much cooler than my mom (sorry, mom), but in retrospect she was actually so similar, just in better clothes and the ability to be more patient because I wasn't her kid.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

 1. Sawyer was able to have two virtual book club-ish type meetings over the long weekend and it makes me heart so happy for him to have time to interact with kids his age. The first one was with the sons of my old high school friend- we realized the kids loved Dog Man. The second was with a kid Sawyer already knows, so my friend and I just sort of shut them in their rooms to do talk about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, thinking they'd last ten minutes. They went for over an hour, talking about the book and lots of other silly things. It was great!

2. Over the past weekish there have been many stressful fires I've had to fight- possibly childcare arrangements for the fall (so much uncertainty in the world, STILL), an issue with getting my second Covid19 vaccine scheduled (oh, county health... I love you and I hate you), and getting our taxes done (three hours of phone calls later our return was in tiptop shape). The bad news is that I spent most of my week off trying to deal with these things, and the good news is that they all have happy endings. I love having time off from work, but this week it has felt good to get back into a routine and have a lot of things to be happy about!

3. I'm I the only one that's a huge baby about getting a new phone and dealing with the set up? First-world problems, I know.

4. I have been thinking about signing up for MasterClass, but I know the smart thing to do would be to wait until the summer when I have more time. There are so many cool classes to take, with so many amazing people. I feel a little stifled lately, culturally, intellectually, whatever you want to call it. I like the flexibility of MasterClass and I know that paying it all at once makes it feel expensive, which will motivate me to use it. I used to use Coursera, but I think the fact that it was free ended up being a sort of deterrent (although I did follow through with a bio class or two that were great refreshers).

5. Speaking of feeling intellectually stunted, I "went" to a reading last night, Rebecca Makkai interviewing Brandon Hobson. They did a great job and I can't wait to read his new book, but I still much prefer going to the real thing. I like driving to DTLA on a weeknight, knowing that my family has to figure things out while I'm gone. I enjoy getting a little dressed up and sitting in the audience, either alone or with a friend, eavesdropping on the people around me talk about other authors, their jobs, etc... It's a thing and this was not. 

6. I bought several books the other day, for several reasons. First: I wanted them. Second: We got our taxes done and I usually take a small portion of and treat myself Third: There was a buy two get one free sale. Here's the thing: I should have just left it at the first item. I am horrible about feeling like I have to justify expenses, when I do not. I am incredibly responsible and if I want to buy something than I should be able to. Is this is a result of patriarchy? My upbringing? Social media? My own personality? I'm not sure. 

7. I mentioned that I'll be receiving my second Covid-19 vaccine, which makes me so very thankful. I had some intense arm pain that traveled into my next for a little while with the first, and some exhaustion that may not have even been related, so I'm truly interested to see what the second one brings. The CDC uses a text system to contact you every day for the first week to get your symptom update, and then weekly after, which was easy and important for people to do. It's been really great to see my friends get their shots and I can't wait until anyone who wants one can go in!

8. If the numbers in our county keep going down there's a chance that Sawyer will finally get to go back to school soon, for half days. His district has gone back and forth about seventy times since the fall, but it feels more definite this time. I have faith in his teacher and school to be safe; there will only be about 11 kids in his classroom and they must be masked. I teach high school and the data has to be even stronger for us to go back, which I don't know if I'm too optimistic about happening this school year. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[link to Etsy seller's page]

1. I have this week off for President's Week (or whatever my district is calling it), and while I'm not one to complain about time off, it hasn't been amazing. Part of this is because Sawyer's district is not off, meaning we still have to get moving in the morning and I have to help him with his work. Another issue is that I've "assigned" myself really boring chores that I've been putting off for ages (redoing shelving paper in the pantry, cleaning out drawers, cleaning out fans, getting tax docs ready, etc...) and the happiness of productivity isn't trumping the irritation of the tasks. I've also let a few things totally ruin several days so far, but that's on me. I finally had a good-ish night of sleep, so when I got up this morning I felt like the funk had been lifted, so at least I can somewhat enjoy the last five days of break. I don't normally get like this, so I'm annoyed but also trying to give myself a break.

2. I think we finally turned the corner with my dog's stomach troubles, after nearly three weeks of dealing with it. I'll spare everyone the details, but it's been really irritating and slightly worrisome (she has been acting fine and eating and everything, so it was more of "let's figure it out" not "ohmygod she's super sick"). Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it is the strong medication she was recently given or the change of food, but nonetheless, we're getting there!

3. Speaking of dogs, I am here to admit I really hate the puppy/young dog stage. I like getting them this young so we can train them to our liking from the get-go, but four to like nine is the best. I feel this way about kids, too. Babies and toddlers are the cutest, but once my son was about three it just kept getting better and better. 

4. Books! First of all, Julie sent me the best coffee table gnome book after reading my post last week. I am reading Hood Feminism and Bastard Out of Carolina right now and have two books for two book clubs after. Sawyer and I finished a Magic Treehouse  book and also James and the Giant Peach

5. I generally do my own embroidery creations, but I bought this Chloe Jo pattern this morning and hope to get to it in a few weeks (see above). I will make some color changes, but I just love it so much!

6. I finished the 2000 piece Star Wars puzzle that my husband bought and we started last April and I couldn't be happier. He said I could have just taken it down, but not finishing what I least help to start is not how I do things. I will never participate in a puzzle that is more than 1000 again- mark my words. 


5 books high on my wish list:  
1. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted  by Suleika Jaoad
2. Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan
3. Luster by Raven Leilani
4. One All Fronts  by Clarissa Ward
5. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

4 really boring adult things I'm doing during my week off
1. Prepping for taxes
2. Scheduling a fence repair
3. Redoing the shelving paper in my pantry
4. Cleaning ceiling fans

3 things that aren't as exciting as a vacation but better than above, that I'm also doing during my week off
1. Reading a ton
2. Working on a few embroidery projects
3. Finishing this stupid 2000 piece puzzle my husband bought and abandoned LAST APRIL. It's taking up valuable real estate in our dining room and I want it done and gone. 

2 things that I'm trying to work on
1. This past weekend something INCREDIBLY stressful came up that I had to deal with, but couldn't until Monday. I spent the ENTIRE weekend inwardly panicking over something that was easily resolved by 10:30 am... it was so unnecessary. I used to do the time when I was younger, but have done a better job of being a more reasonable adult... I need to get it in check asap.
2. Post-lunch, pre-dinner snacking. I am the queen of portion control during meals, but I also mindlessly graze. I've decided I can only have a snack during certain times in the afternoon and I've already dropped a few pounds

1 thing in the works that I'm looking forward to
1. I have this crazy idea that involved going to Yosemite for a very, very, very brief amount of time after the snow is gone. Sawyer and I usually go every spring, but didn't last year, so it's been nearly two years since I've been. I think I have a plan.