October, Revisited, Plus November

I'm a woman of my word (or at least I try to be), so when I posted some goals for October I said I'd publicly hold myself accountable. Honestly, this post is probably more for me than anyone else, but I already wrote the whole thing. So here we are:

1. Learn to turn the water main off- Nope! The weird noise went away and I stopped obsessing about my house flooding. I attempted to look at some pictures online for about three minutes, but I got bored.

2. Take Sawyer to do something autumn-ish- Yup! We went to a huge pumpkin patch with some friends, the Homecoming Carnival at my school, and then the fall festival at the place where he used to go to PT. 

3. Make plans to see friends at least once- Yup! I also had to reschedule some things from this month for next month, so I should be out and about quite a bit in November. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm one of those people that needs to interact with others. 

4. Do yoga or Piyo at least twice a week- Sorta! I've been pretty good about going to yoga on Saturdays and I've done Piyo like twice. Better than last month, but still lots of room for improvement, especially if I'm going to run again. 

5. Make a charitable contribution- Yup! A favorite colleague at work is doing a charity run, so I donated some money towards what he needs to raise. 

6. Leave at least 100 blog comments- Probably not! I started off really strong at the beginning of the month, but definitely tapered off as things got crazy. 

7. Make a new playlist- Yup!  I love seeing what other people are listening t, so, for your amusement/judgement:

8. Walk 80,000 steps a week- Yup! I was up around 90,000 once or twice, too. 

9. Hang you with my husband more- Sorta! I decided that every Thursday I'd play videogames (just the silly Lego ones) with him after Sawyer is in bed, but the past two weeks I was tied up. It's not like we don't see each other or anything, but actually putting down our phones/tablets and designating time to hang out is something to work on.

10. Do things to de-stress at work- It's complicated. But I love my students very much and I enjoy what I do. No job is perfect and accepting the things that are hard along with the things that are great will get you far... most days. 

I'd say that October was a much better month than September, although there have been some bad days and a moment or two where I thought someone had knocked me upside the head with a two-by-four out of basically nowhere. But anyway, I do have to say putting things down like this made me prioritize better and just work harder on certain things. And because I was able to do that I felt happier in general. Naturally this must be replicated.

So, things to work on for November:

1. Read five books- I haven't been reading quite as much as I'd like lately (do we ever, though?).

2. Eat at a new restaurant- We used to do this once a month. Then the child happened; there's no reason we can't still. 

3. Less Diet Coke, more water- Nooooooooooooooooooooooo. But yes. 

4. Make a new recipe a week- I'm in a cooking rut. I try to cook five nights a week, so this has made meal time a bit of a chore.

5. Start (lightly) training- While I'm not going to go balls-to-the-wall on half marathon training it's would be a joke to assume that I'd go in without some sort of base mileage. I want to be that person, who just goes for it, but I'm not.

5. Blog 17 times- I just pulled that number out of my ass, but ever since this school year started my posting has suffered a little bit.

6. Really try to finish NaNoWriMo- Who the hell knows what will happen.

7. Find some sort of not-lame Christmas craft to make- I don't have a ton of Christmas decorations, but I tend to think simple, homemade ones are the nicest. This will unfortunately mean a trip to Michael's, which will take a year or two off my life.

8. Reevaluate my fall/winter wardrobe- Last year I was trying to finish losing pregnancy weight and the year before that I was actually pregnant, so I'm frustrated with my closet. It won't exactly be freezing here, but I do need things and to get rid of those articles of clothing I won't wear anymore. 

9. Go out without Sawyer- We're long overdue for a night out without the little munchkin. My birthday is this month, Scott's is next, and our anniversary is next week, so maybe we can lump it all into a night out in the next few weeks. 

10. Throw out or store a bag of junk a week- I'm a minimalist and with the holidays approaching it's time to downsize. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I'm back! Link up, link back and say hello!

1. We took Sawyer to the park in his Max costume last weekend so my husband could take some photos and he did so well, even with me forgetting one of his shoes and making him go barefoot. This is just one I snapped on my phone:

2. I'm officially not buying books until my birthday and Christmas are over. It's painful, but considering there are people in my life who insist on buying me things, it's the only real item that makes it my wish list.

3. I went to the podiatrist this afternoon and he was not on board with shooting up my feet with cortisone shots. After I told him I was registered for a half marathon in three months he went into problem-solving mode (he's an incredible runner; he qualifies for Boston every year at St. George). He recommends surgery for my toe and custom-made athletic orthotics for my collapsed arches and massively inflamed accessory ankle bone (it sound so cute when you put it that way, like my ankle has a little purse or something). I'm going to put off surgery for a little while and get some more information, but he's just so darn convincing. He also wants me to sign up for a weekend running club and consider a full marathon. Crazy talk. Also crazy will be the bill I get from everything that went down today. 

4. I need/want a really nice, tailored grey flannel blazer. Or maybe black. Or maybe corduroy. And I'm willing to shell out some solid cash for it. Suggestions? Personal shopping applicants can go ahead and email me.

5. The only way I'm currently surviving Halloween candy season is by buying the kinds I hate so that I'm not tempted at home. So instead of giving out the good stuff, like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, and Snickers, we're going to rot the mouths of babes with Skittles, Starbursts, suckers, and other gross, chewy, fruity treats. 

6. I things I maybe miss advising yearbook a little bit. Not a lot, but just enough to make me slightly sad that I'm not worrying about selecting layouts, covering the rivalry game this week, and harassing the kids about the looming fall deadlines. There's good stress and bad stress; yearbook was always a good stressor in my life. Maybe we'll meet again.

7. Sawyer managed to break a kid's flashlight that one Amazon reviewer said "is the toy we tried to kill but won't die." One part proud, one part scared.

8. I bought this delicious, albeit a little ugly, Jack-o-Lantern Pinata ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins last Friday and I still haven't finished it. When the guy told me that it only feeds six to eight people I assumed I'd polish it off last weekend (especially considering my shitty mood), but I still have at least piece left. Who am I?

9. Conferences last Thursday went really, really well. I saw almost ninety families in three and a half hours with absolutely no break, so it was a little tiring. But it was really productive, whether I was having a serious talk about a kid's grades or telling parents how much I love their child. It's a long night but I have never left unhappy.

10. My seniors are finishing up Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, which means that we're on to Sylvia Plath's poetry really soon. I feel like a lot of them are pretty stressed right now (college apps and whatnot), so the timing may not be ideal. Honestly, I'm not even really in the mood to read poems by a woman that ended up sticking her head in an oven.  

(Possibly) Poor Choices I (Sort of) Made Over the Weekend

[unrelated: is it fall? or the drought? fun California game]

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is ridiculous because I have no free time at all, yet am attempting to commit to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I've been feeling the need for a project outside of work and the house, though, so timing-wise this worked out. I'm not going to write a novel and plan to go about things differently from last time, which I'll post about later. I'm skeptical about whether or not I'll finish, but I'm hoping that I end up focusing on the fun instead of just being competitive.

I got too carried away in the negativity department by dwelling on a few things that appear to basically be resolved at this point (knock on wood, if you believe in that sort of things). At the time it didn't seem like a choice, but in retrospect I need to learn to better recognize when this is happening and shake it off sooner. On the other hand, we are all entitled to occasional bad moods, but this one ended up being a total waste of time and energy. I'm pretty confident it was catalyzed at least partially by exhaustion, since on Sunday I was able to take a very, very rare ninety minute nap right after drinking a huge coffee. And I still woke up tired!  While not fun at the time, it does serve as a lesson to take better care of myself, I guess. 

This one is most absurd, considering my foot pain and lack of desire to train: I signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon in February. In my defense, I had signed up last year but deferred because life was super hard and I didn't want to complicate matters with dealing with childcare, breastfeeding logistics, motivation, etc... Part of the reason I went for it was because my husband was nice enough to tell me that he was cool with me spending the night before the race at the beach. Alone. In a hotel. By MYSELF. I don't really intend on training, and since the time limit only requires 3 mph I could saunter the whole time listening to podcasts or audiobooks and still make it time for a medal and bagel. 


[sleep depriver, time sucker, heart snatcher]

Reading... Lots and lots of student work. Both of the classes I teach had tons and tons due (my fault) the last few weeks and I got buried, right in time for parent-teacher conferences. And I'm still not caught up! On the book front, I just finished Michael Ondaatjie's Running in the Family with my seniors, and am thirty or so pages into The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, by Joseph Appel, for a student's project that I'm advising. 

Coveting... Sleep. It's been a rough few weeks (months?) and I'm beat. I was hoping to put a dent in the deficit last night, since it was Friday, but Sawyer woke up three or four times and then was ready to go at 6:30 (he's usually up once, none when he's not teething). Timing wise, this has been more unfortunate than normal since things that probably shouldn't be so stressful are more so. This too shall pass. It always does. 

Playing...  Guitar Hero. Why is it so addicting? Why did my husband choose a weekend where I have tons to do to buy it? How many songs do I have to play until my hand gets used to it again? . A brave soul also tried to teach me how to play chess last week, and while I know more now than before, I still am pretty abysmal. I also just bought Bananagrams and haven't even opened it.

Writing... Oh wait, I'm not. Obviously not quality blog posts, nor on any sort of projects. And I thought I was considering NaNoWriMo. Hilarious. 

Hoping... that my podiatrist will shoot up my toe (and maybe ankle) with Cortisone when I visit him on Wednesday. If I leave without a game plan I'm firing him... again. 

Resisting... buying dresses. Apparently I have enough to get me through almost three weeks of work without repeating. How did this happen? In all fairness, many of them won't work for winter tights and sweaters, so just maybe a few more?  

Looking... forward to Halloween. I usually am indifferent, but this year Sawyer will be able to trick-or-treat and appreciate my awesome pumpkin carving skills. We're going to try to take him to the local park tomorrow in his costume to take some pictures, which is always fun (knock on wood). 

Pouting... about the fact that we aren't going to be continue our "traveling for Christmas" tradition that we adhered to for several years and were adamant we'd continue to do so after Sawyer. The real issue now is not having care for the dogs, though, as opposed to being unable to leave with a kid. 

Winning... our weekly Fitbit challenge for either the second or third week in a row. I'm trying to be a humble, gracious winner and not talk about awesome- I'll stop.  

Regretting... my dietary choices lately. I've actually been able to drop a few pounds this month, because I'm simply eating less and being more active. The problem is that what I am eating isn't exactly all quinoa and kale. It's more like ice cream cake and Cheesecake Factory. Chased with Diet Coke and Starbucks. So fine, maybe I'm only consuming 1600 calories or whatever, but it's mostly carbs of the refined sugar sort (the best kind). And tomorrow will be icing on the cake, so to speak, since my friend and I have a cupcake date. I'd like to say that I'm going to make some changes, but I don't think I'm ready to commit. 

Wondering... where the heck El Nino is. I want to wear sweats and hoodies now. Also, do kids under the age of like eight or nine really want to play organized sports? Or do their parents just sign them up?

Planning... on what to make for Thanksgiving (a month away!). I honestly have no clue what our plans are, but one thing is for certain: I'm not hosting and I'm not driving far. If it's just us and my brother, I'd be okay with it. And if that's not what we do, I'm still going to make a feast the night before so I can finally try out the recipes I've been wanting to do for years but haven't, since I've played it safe for all the guests we've had (I actually really like having people over, but it's just not the year for it; I'd rather have a party with friends). 

Wishing... for a night out. Like a legitimate night out, not just a dinner at a local place. Or maybe a weekend away, with my husband or friends (or by myself). I have cabin fever, can you tell? I want to get dressed up and be distracted. I'd love to go to a concert or another Derby Dolls bout or a try a new restaurant in Orange County or LA that is not family-friendly. We're trying a new sitter soon, so if that works maybe we can get out a little more often. We'll see. 

Amused by... The bored pictures of Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearings. Not that it wasn't a serious situation, because it was. But come on. Come on

I'm not sure if this "lately" thing was started by someone? Should I be giving credit? I've seen other bloggers do it but have not seen the source. Let me know. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back!

True to form, it's parent teacher conferences week and I'm swamped, so I'm bailing on this post. 

I'll be back soon with useless crap five people care about. 

Instead, enjoy this picture of my child five seconds before he stuck his fingers up the horse's nose and laughed his butt off about it. And then did it again when I wasn't looking. 

Have a wonderful week. 

What Happens When I Attempt to Color

"It's really cathartic."

"It'll help you relax."

"It's nostalgic!"

Those are some of the comments I've heard people make about the whole "adult coloring fad" that gained steam a little while ago. I like catharsis! I like relaxing! I like to be reminded of my childhood!

So, when the publishers of Daria Song's beautiful coloring book, The Time Garden, reached out and offered me a copy I decided that I would try it. The fact that it was almost two months ago should have been the first red flag; when it arrived I flipped through it and then set it on the far end of the kitchen table, where it has stayed. 

Before I go any further, I have so much respect for those that make these sorts of coloring books. The artwork is intricate and in this particular one the story is simplistically sweet. My overall cynical attitude about life and experience are in absolutely no way a reflection of her work.


Today I finally decided to sit down for thirty minutes and give this a try. Sawyer was napping, my husband was out with a friend, and I didn't feel like really doing anything. Here's what happened:

Minutes 1-5: Stars are easy, I'll color stars. Maybe I'll do some sort of pattern? That makes it more complex and adult, right?

Minutes 6-8: This is boring. I need a new page. This one with the hearts looks fun.

Minutes 8-12: Hey! I have nothing occupying my brain right now! Let's think about bad things happening! Always my go-to form of masochism.

Minutes 12-15: Maybe I should watch Sons of Anarchy instead of working myself up into a bad mood. I started the first episode of season ten weeks ago and haven't finished it. *loads it on phone* Apparently by "started" I meant I only watched thirty seconds. Hey. What do you do with these coloring books when you're done, exactly? 

Minutes 15-20: Coloring... coloring... poor Jax... I hope they find his baby... he still looks really attractive drunk and crying... now he's in the shower... coloring... coloring... coloring....

Minute 21: My hand hurts really bad. Are those who color prone to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? My mom had that. She had surgery. Is it genetic? I'm I going to get it? Sometimes my hands hurt. Shit, do I have it already?

Minutes 21-24: Google symptoms, defying household rule of not going on WebMD. Results are inconclusive.

Minutes 24-28: Coloring... coloring... a little excited that there are metallic colored pencils hiding in the box... getting bored... I can't color and watch, I'm missing too much... coloring...

Minutes 28-29: My fingers are cramping... ow... almost done... that was nice of the guys that were going to shoot SOA to hold back when they realized they were just trying to find the baby... coloring

Minute 30: And we're done. Probably forever.

1. Coloring actually causes me to become more of an anxious person that I already am.
2. I need to work on my hand/finger stamina.
3. I probably am not cut out for this sort of activity.
4. I was not reminded of my childhood. 

Thank you again to Watson-Guptill; I'm sorry I have mental issues and poor finger strength. 

Bad Feminist, Part 2

The other day I wrote a post quickly reviewing Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist. First of all, there really isn't such a thing as "bad feminist," really. Sure, there are different degrees of feminism, but I hate the idea of declaring someone "bad" at it, and I'm pretty sure Gay would agree.

What I did find amusing and thought-provoking, though, was her sort of gradual cataloging of what would make her a bad feminist by the stereotypical definition of the term. This of course made me think of my own, imperfect, version of feminism and what I do that would make a "good feminist" and a "bad feminist." I started explaining each item, but thought I'd spare everyone the novel. 

1. I didn't change my name when I got married.
2. We have separate bank accounts and maintain a joint one for household expenses only. We split things like vacations, dinners out, etc... 
3. I believe women should receive equal pay for equal work. 
4. I passionately believe in a woman's right to do what she pleases when it comes to her reproductive/contraceptive health. 
5. I have never let men pay for me on dates just because they're the male. Except on my birthday. 
6. I believe women should have the opportunity to apply for any job out there, especially in the public sector/military. 
7. I do not believe a woman should be submissive to a husband for religious, traditional, or any other purposes. 
8. I think the concept of chivalry is archaic. 
9. My husband and I don't know each other's passwords for anything; not our phones, bank accounts, credit cards, emails, or anything else. 

1. I didn't put up a fight about my son having my husband's last name. 
2. I do most of the domestic chores and childrearing at home (this one I have to explain some; my husband commutes and isn't home late, while I'm home much earlier, so while tiring, it is logical).
3. I shave my legs every single day. Sometimes twice if I, for some reason, shower more than once.
4. I sincerely (and I guess vainly) care about my looks. 
5. Sometimes when I go to Home Depot I don't even bother trying to find things myself; I find a nice gentleman worker, smile, act slightly clueless, and let him find those light bulbs, or whatever, for me. 
6. I've let men be aggressive, condescending, and disrespectful towards me.
7. I think that women would get more respect when it came the issue of equality if they didn't put down men in the argument (is that bad?). Actually sometimes I think being so vocal, period, pushes people away from the cause. It's tough. 
8. I hate the "you go, girl!" movement. I hate how women get all cheesy and annoying about empowering each other. 
9. I get a tad bit pissy every Valentine's Day because we don't celebrate it. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, etc... 

1. If you read a blog post and instantly think "eff you, shut up" it's time to unfollow (as my number of followers dwindles...)

2. I think there may be some of my colleagues that think I'm getting a divorce (I'm not). I've had a lot of trouble wearing my rings since giving birth to Sawyer, as I have a severe allergy to whatever metal is under the white gold. I have to have them re-dipped every 6-8 weeks, which is pretty costly. People  I barely know seem to just all the sudden seem to be asking about him and are apparently just now realizing I didn't change my name. It's weird. I don't really care, I just don't love the notion that people are discussing my personal life behind my back. 

3. I finally bought a lawn gnome. Don't tell my husband (so, the like two of you that read and know him I will figure it out!)! If he finds out I put it in the yard I might end up getting a divorce after all... He's a little on the smaller side, so I'll have to find him a big brother eventually.

[Hello, new friend!]

4. This last Friday I went to urgent care to get my asthma inhaler refilled, since my doctor won't do it without an office visit. I've been using one Sawyer had for bad chest cold, but I have to admit I don't have it controlled well at all. It would almost be easier if it was just wheezing, but instead it's a sudden tightness in my chest and the inability to get a full deep breath in (no, they are not anxiety attacks... I know they sound like it). This is super hard during the day when teaching and needing to talk a lot. My students, husband, and son also make me laugh frequently, which sadly also aggravates it. I talked to the doctor for a bit and while he did give me what I needed for the short term, he said that I needed to get my allergies and stress under control. Ha! I was born with allergies and stress. I came out of the womb sneezing and over-analyzing worse case scenarios. I was tested for an ulcer in kindergarten I was such an anxious little child. Anyway, I guess I need to go to my regular doctor for a pulmonary function test (in my free time...).

5. Apparently out district must have changed their IP address or done something differently with the servers, because I can now detect traffic from our schools on my blog. It was a good reminder to mind my manners, I guess. It also spurned a middle of the night "oh my god do I need go back through and delete posts like last time?" mini-freak out, but that was interrupted by my kid, who has been getting up again because he hates me and doesn't want me to ever get a good night of sleep for the rest of my life. 

6. Anyone an Orange Theory fan? There's a new studio not too terribly far away that I'm tempted to check out. Will I die? Will I love it? Will it cry? Will you go with me and do slightly less better than I so I don't feel stupid?

7. It is impossible for me to talk about asteroids and not refer to Armageddon

8. This weekend will be fun; Friday I'm taking Sawyer to the homecoming carnival at our school, Saturday I have yoga and then we are going to the fall festival at the ranch where his old PT place did hippotherapy, and then Sunday possibly to Irvine Regional Park with friends. It's been so nice to be back at yoga, even if it's just once a week. The instructor is insane, though, and I feel like it's getting worse each week. It's funny as hell after the fact, but in the moment I hate her so much (I will not do "ommms" ever, nor will I say "I love myself" or "give a big dorky smile" with my eyes closed). 

9. I did a bad thing last weekend that involved Anthropologie and their 20% off dresses sale. I actually feel like a total uppity asshole when I shop there, but I just can't help it sometimes. Plus there's a tree in a glass enclosure at the one I go to, which is pretty cool. 

10. I'm about to start a book blindly. A student is doing an extended research paper regarding post- and pre- 9/11 literature and he found a book called The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up by Jacob Appel. I honestly don't even know what it's about, so this should be interesting. Or not even close. I'm also rereading Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family, which is a structurally complex memoir that my students seem to hate, at least right now. I love that there's very little available online for it, so they actually have to read for once and not BS their way through it with the help of the internet. But, if we're being honest, few of the works we read senior year knock me off my feet. Maybe someday we'll get to redesign the curriculum...

Bad Feminist- Part 1

I just finished Roxane Gay's collection of essays, Bad Feminist, and thought it was quite the thought-provoking read. Today I'm going to just sort of review it and then I thought I'd talk a little more about how I too really am a bad feminist, so to speak, in an upcoming post. 

First of all, Gay is an intelligent, African American, early middle-aged, unmarried, childless, witty, opinionated woman. She's a professor and blogger, not a career-activist. She is flawed and honest. You have to know where she's coming from to understand where she's going (but isn't that the case for all of us?). 

Gay's book is divided up into a series of essays, focusing on herself, gender and sexuality, race and entertainment, and then politics, gender and race. Going into this, I honestly knew nothing more than the title and the fact that everyone loved her TED Talk (in my queue to watch; I know, I know, I need to get on it). I honestly didn't know that race would factor in as much as it does, but I loved that it did, given the sort of crossroads we're at right now as a society. What I appreciated, though, was that I didn't walk away from this book feeling ashamed of my privilege or my color, which I think a lot of activists end up doing, whether on purpose or not. It makes sense, though, since for Gay her feminism and color are so often linked.

My favorite sections were on her personal life, including the chapters on Scrabble competitions (!!!), career path, and experiences with men. She honestly discusses being, for lack of a better term, gang-raped when she was younger by the friends of a boy she was secretly dating. She doesn't write about herself in a way that evokes pity or applause, though. It's emotional, but it's straightforward. 

The definition of "feminist" is discussed at length. What exactly is a feminist? The word has such a negative connotation these days; a feminist is seen as a "man-hater," someone who doesn't shave her legs, as a female that puts down the opposite gender. But that really, truly isn't what a feminist is. A feminist is someone that wants equality and that wasn't to be thought of less because she isn't a man. Gay talks about what it means to be a "bad feminist"- is she one because she is a "woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen"? (Gay xi). Or is she a good feminist? I loved her point that, "the most significant problem with essential feminism is how it doesn't allow for the complexities of human experience or individuality" (305). There is no one-size fits all feminism.

This book isn't for everyone, although I think everyone would at least be provoked to think about gender, and racial, politics. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. If you link up below can you do me a favor and post a link back on your post? Most of you already do, so thank you! 

1. We were at this kind of lame safety festival by our house last week so Sawyer could see the emergency response vehicles (and dogs and horses) and I saw a fireman grab a woman breastfeeding on the ground a chair. It just struck me as something really nice to do, since I feel like a lot of people still turn up their noses to nursing in public. 

2. I will always inwardly cringe when total strangers call me "honey" or "sweetie." I'm looking at you, Starbucks barista who is five years older than me. 

3. I will never feel comfortable offering my condolences to people on social media. It feels so insincere and awkward.

4. In other news, I was sort of blindsided by an educated adult whom I know very well, for my "white privilege" today, completely out of nowhere. How fun! I wrote a very long response to the person and was a millisecond away from pressing send but deleted it and tried to move on. I have obviously not moved on, as I feel sort of insulted, since I'm still thinking about it. Maybe if it was in person it would have been different (see #3, I guess). I just don't get it and am trying to be a good friend and believe that it wasn't meant to upset me. 

5. I'm reading Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist and have been really conscious of the role women play in children's books lately. Sawyer has a book about trucks and out of the like twelve drivers in the books, only two are women and one drives a pink truck. In a book he has on robots the female robot is also pink and makes cookies and helps with homework. Naturally. Because that's all she can do. 

6. I'm about to make these guys for a work baby shower tomorrow.

7. Why do car clocks gain time?

8. I've said some weird things as a parent, but I think one of the strangest so far has been "No, that is not a ball, it's Oscar Wilde's head."

9. When I saw this earlier on Facebook, in reference to teaching, today I was like, "Yes! That is so true! We need to be there for the students! I love this!" But then I started thinking about it more and decided I actually hated it. I don't even know what I needed when I was in high school! Probably someone to tell me to relax, go to a party, and stop stressing about my family and the future for five seconds. But kids need different things. Some need a firm kick in the pants. I didn't need that, but I can do it! Some need a friend. A cheerleader. A confidante. An intellectual rival. A sounding board. A break. I'm probably reading too much into this. It probably just came from Etsy or Pinterest.

10. I finally figured out how to shuffle all my music with the newest itunes on my phone. So yay for that. 

About NaNoWriMo...

A few years ago I successfully completed NaNoWriMo (they host a writing project every November that challenges people to write a short novel- 40,000 words). A colleague did it as well and we had fun comparing our total and motivating each other. I felt creative, inspired, and it made me cling to some hope that maybe someday I could become a world-famous novelist whose wardrobe consisted purely of Anthro dresses and was contractually obligated to tour awesome cities for readings. So fun. So unrealistic.

Here's the thing- the process was great, but the product, not so much. I didn't pursue finishing it (40,000 words is not a novel; it's a novella) and I ended up not really liking where I went with it because I felt so pressured into finishing it.

I'm fairly convinced that I'm not going to do it again this year, but the competitive side of me is trying to take over (so typical). So, in order to sort out my super complicated thoughts on this really critical, life-altering decision (I kid), I made one of my favorite things ever: 

I still don't know what I'm going to do, but I need to figure out some sort of plan to start writing for fun again (other than blogging). It's like everyone's lotto fantasy- you can never win if you don't play. 

Doing October

September has been hard in many ways, some routine and some not so much. This month is consistently hard every year; I guess the reality check of summer ending sets in and the heat usually peaks. Combined with other life things it just seems like a long, difficult thirty days every year. 

But now it's October.

I've allowed myself to sort of wallow in the woe that is September for the last thirty days and it's now time to pull myself out of the funk. So, I need a plan to have fun and be productive. Yes, people who love lists plan out their fun. I can't help it. 

So I sat down and put together a plan for ten things that I need to do this month to feel better about life, in various areas. And since I'm highly competitive and respond very well to public accountability, I thought I'd share:

1. Learn to turn the water main off- I'm still abnormally paranoid about a water leak, so I think this would at least help ease my mind. Plus it seems like something a homeowner should know how to do.

2. Take Sawyer to something autumn-ish- I guess like a pumpkin patch or a festival or apple picking? 

3. Make plans to see friends at least once- This is something that's key to my mental health. And not just go to the same yoga class kind of outing, but something  that requires something besides stretchy pants and a quick nap at the end (not that there's anything wrong with that- maybe everything in life should end with a nap).

4. Do yoga or piyo twice a week- I've got the cardio down, but I feel stiff and like I've lost a lot of my old flexibility. Plus I just bought a new mat, so I need to use it.

5. Make a charitable contribution- I've bought enough random stuff for myself lately and feel sort of guilty (this is probably motivated by the amount I spent at Ulta the other day). I'll probably donate to Planned Parenthood or The Sierra Club or The Nature Conservancy.

6. Leave at least 100 blog comments- I feel really guilty about my lack of participation, while still enjoying what people write and hoping they'll comment on what I post.

7. Make a new play list- Every morning I get so bummed out in the car when I'm scrambling to put on music for the commute in. I've been listening to the same five songs for a month or more.

8. Walk 80,000 steps a week- This means lots of afternoon walks which helps everyone be happier. Especially since my kid is now like a dog and brings me my shoes around five-o-clock and points to the door and yells "go" until I give in. 

9. Hang out with my husband more- It's hard with a full time job and kid and I know I've been slacking. And by slacking I mean choosing to read of surf the internet during the hour of free time I have at night. I could at least watch one of those shows we are slowly getting through or -gulp- play videogames with him on occasion. After over ten years of togetherness I'm lucky to have a guy that still wants to hang out with me. 

10.  Do things to de-stress at work- This will mostly come from unburying myself from the stack of grading and getting my materials organized for this month. I hate the feeling of knowing I have a ton to do and now knowing where to start. 

Onward and upward. 

September Reviews

September is my least favorite month of the year, so I'm pretty happy it's over. I did read a few great books this month, so let's get to it:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
333 pages
This is the true account of a Syrian man named Abdulrahman Zeitoun who, as the back of the book puts it, is "caught between America's two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina." Zeitoun is a hard-working man who owns and runs a painting business in New Orleans, which his wife Kathy helps manage, when she's not caring for their children. When Katrina hits his family leaves for safety and he decides to remain in order to watch over their home and business assets. He begins helping those in need until he finds himself arrested and held in poor conditions. Eggers follows his story and examines the justice season of the city during this time period

Verdict: Zeitoun has had a ton of legal troubles in regards to spousal abuse since this book was written, which I didn't know when I read it. I'm actually glad; I really, really enjoyed this book and I think it may have tarnished my interpretation a bit. Despite the fact that he might be a huge douche now, his story during this point of his life was fascinating. 

Macbeth by William Shakespeare
191 pages
This was a reread for work. "Double, double" and all that jazz. Macbeth wants power, Lady Macbeth manipulates him, murders are committed, hand-washing after the fact occurs, and so on and so forth. We know the story.

Verdict: Like I explained to some of my students today, it took my a long time to understand Shakespeare, let alone appreciate him. I'm not likely to read his plays for fun, but out of the many that I have read this one is near the top.

San Miguel by TC Boyle
367 pages
Boyle writes this story centered around the island of San Miguel in three parts. The first is about Marantha Waters, who moves to the small island off California in 1888 to hopefully help with her TB. Living in such a secluded area in pretty primitive conditions is tough for her, as is her role as a sheep-farmer's wife. It is also difficult for her adopted daughter, Edith, who also struggles with the confinement and also, eventually, her step father. The story then jumps a few decades into the future when a new family moves out there and slowly gains some fame for their way of life. 

Verdict: This isn't the best Boyle book I've read; I found the third part's presence weakly connected to what he had spent several hundred pages building up. I did enjoy the characters and the internal and external struggles they had to cope with to survive. The setting was also pretty unique and I appreciate his apparent fascination with the Channel Islands, since he wrote about them in another one of his novels. 

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
226 pages
I probably would have listened to this, but it came with the ticket to her event that I attended the other night. Kaling writes essays about everything from BJ Novak to her typical daily schedule to a made up email exchange that would have occurred if she had decided to teach high school Latin.

Verdict: It was entertaining, quick, and fun, just like I expected. It wasn't anything deep or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, juicy, but I still left wanting to be her friend. I probably most appreciated her unabashed love for McDonalds. I'm a closet nugget fiend, myself, but I limit my trips through the golden arches hell to once every other month or so, though. She's a daily kind of gal, which is pretty impressive. 

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 
247 pages
This Nobel Prize winner is about fathers and sons and life and religion. John Ames is writing to his young son as he faces his own mortality. He recounts stories from his own childhood, his father's life, and his relationship with both wives. 

Verdict: I have to admit it- I thought this book was painfully boring. Yes, I know, the beauty of an ordinary life, but yawn! Robinson is an amazing writer, she really is. Her prose are fluid, simple, and melodic. But my God. It was really hard for me to get through. 

1,364 pages