Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

My two sisters and Mom (I'm in the middle)... we missed my brother!

1. Last weekend I went to Modesto for my sister's wedding and it turned out really nice. It was in her now husband's family's backyard and they did everything themselves, for about sixty of so guests. I left Sawyer and my husband at home, so I spent the evening with my other sister, her fiancĂ©, and my aunt and uncle. It was my first big social event since Covid and it felt kind of weird, but also very safe. I was sad my brother couldn't come, but Kansas is far and he's trying not take much time off work before his wife has her baby in a few months. Nonetheless it was a great night and I'm so happy for the newlyweds! So many great things have happened for my siblings and I love watching their lives unfold. 

2. I'm still working my way through Sally Rooney's newest, and I can't make up my mind whether or not I like it. Ain't that always the way with her books? I haven't been able to read in big chunks lately, though, so that might be part of it. 

3. Between Covid shots for Sawyer in a few weeks (hopefully), a booster for me (hopefully, I have Moderna and it depends on the FDA/CDC meetings later this week), and flu shots I feel like there are a lot of vaccines on the docket for our fall. Super grateful, but also, I have no time for appointments, since I'm trying to not take any time off work. The sub shortage is super real, especially at the high school level. Since secondary teachers can cover other classes on their prep periods, they often redirect our subs to the elementary schools. It makes sense, but since I don't want to screw over my fellow teachers with the hated prep-period coverage, I'm trying to not take days unless I have to. 

4. I have never read Louise Penny before, but I have to say I'm intrigued by the book she just wrote with Hillary Clinton. Obviously, I am a fan of Clinton, but the reviews are coming in pretty solid. 

5. At some point in my life I'm going to accept that I don't have time for subscriptions to the New Yorker, right? I think I've had them on two separate occasions and I found myself considering signing up again today. If they were once or twice a month I'd be able to handle it, but the once a week delivery KILLS me. 

6. I read somewhere on a post today there there are only ten Saturdays before Christmas and I cringed. How!?!? Now that we're feeling better about doing more I'm starting to get that "how will we fit in all the stuff?" feeling that I haven't felt since 2019. It's good, but my planning brain is in overdrive. 

7. I listed to an episode of The Armchair Expert the other day with David Sedaris and he was delightful as usual. One of my book clubs is reading his newest, A Carnival of Snackery, which is over 500 pages of his diaries. I have high hopes.

8. So, once upon a time I fell in love with this pink herringbone blazer from Boden and hemmed and hawed too long before committing. Of course my size was gone by the time I went for it, and I've lived with this overwhelming regret and sadness for like two years. Well, guess what? After searching long and hard I found a comparable one and it comes next week. Let this be a cautionary tale: ALWAYS BUY THE PINK BLAZER. (Please come back weekly for extremely critical life advice).

9. Recently I found myself on the horns of a dilemma and when I mentioned the issue to someone they said, basically, "go for it, but I wouldn't tell other people because they might thing XY and Z." I had thought my mind was made up, and it gave my pause, so I ran it by one of my best friends and she said, "Eff the people! If they know and love you they know you have the best intentions and are responsible." I hope everyone has at least one of these friends.

10. Are we all excited for the new Adele song this week? 

Five Things About... Murder on the Orient Express

Five things about…. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This was an impromptu book club selection by a friend who had never read Christie before (neither had I). We had a book club brunch and didn’t talk about the book at all. Ha! Any excuse to get together, #amirightoramiright

This book is ALL plot, which, honestly, isn’t my preference. No character development, no nuance, no themes… you get the gist. I knew that going in, though, and also totally acknowledge that it’s an accepted characteristic of this genre.

It was like I reading the game Clue, except it was “who killed the asshole on the train with the knife”? 

The twist was good, and this is where I have to give mystery writers their credit. She’s known for being a master of her craft and I can see the excruciating work that goes into constructing the bones of the plot. So while I probably won’t read another of hers, I can appreciate her efforts. 

I have ridden on my fair share of trains from the Central Valley to Southern California and the first thirty minutes is great, always followed by wistful regrets of wishing I had driven. It’s been years, though, so this restored the romanticism that is the railway for me. Maybe it would be different if I wasn’t in a rush and the train ride itself with the event?

Five Things About... Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Modern Hawaiian magical realism… I mean, I feel like I could just leave it at that (but I won’t). 

The parents, Malia and Augie, of this novel are so utterly flawed and the journey they take from the conception of their children to their adulthoods made my heart hurt. They knew they were making so many mistakes, but they also desperately wanted the best for the next generation. It’s so hard when you’re in the thick of trying to survive to be reflective- hindsight’s twenty-twenty and all that. Despite the familial damage caused, they never give up on their kids. 

I really enjoyed how the element of nature became so integral to the story, whether it was hiking through deep Hawaiian valleys or farming techniques. Washburn’s message about the importance of staying connected to the earth is one of the most prominent. 

One of the things I really loved about this book is that it’s messy, just like life. People pop up and then disappear, moments are regretted later, characters hurt, they say the wrong thing, exaggerated weight is placed upon things in the one that, the wrong people are loved… 

The waxing and waning bonds of siblings was also something I could relate to, the relationships between brother and sisters changing as people get older. There’s so much baggage that comes with growing up together in the Flores family that when they’re forced to confront it their lives are shaken to the very core.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

This August-November stretch of the year is kind of a slog, but I still can't believe it's the end of September! I think being so busy lately has had something to do with it, between work and home, but I'll take it. Last weekend Sawyer and I hiked around a nature preserve in Orange County that was new to us and then Sunday we met for a park date with some friends. Next weekend I have a virtual book club, am hosting a different small book club outside, and Sawyer and I may go to Knots for an hour or two on Sunday morning when they open for the Halloween stuff. We are still being super careful, but since everything is outside and we will masked I think we are okay before it gets crowded.

Speaking of the c-word, I am giddy with excitement about the pediatric vaccine. When I saw the update last week about them being so close to a EUA I stopped in my tracks at 5:15 AM outside walking the dog in disbelief. We are so close! 

I am reading Sharks in the Time of Strangers  for one of my book clubs and am loving it. It wasn't on my radar at all, so it's the perfect example of why we should be open to books that might seem outside of our interest. 

I am using nearly half of my yearly classroom budget on books for my classroom, which mean I just submitted an Amazon order for TWENTY new, high-interest, quality books, for the kids. It's kind of a pain to deal with reimbursement, but it's worth it get the most bang-for-my-buck.

I am totally sure the Sex and the City spin off on HBO will be a total disaster, but I have to admit once it's on I'll probably bump into my to-watch list. This is absolutely no indication of when it will actually be viewed, though, since I still haven't finished the Friends reunion I was excited about back in May (or the Flight Attendant, which I started in December). 

Oh, and since we're talking about Friends, I was totally suckered into buying Jennifer Aniston's new hair product Lolavie product since Jessica Yellin of New Not Noise posted her before-and-after pictures. I'm the worst.

While we're being confessional, I also did some damage on the Frye boots site because they gave me a $50 off coupon, and I also stared my Christmas shopping for Sawyer since the headlines have been all "shipping and inventory delays expected." I am a marketers dream (aka sucker), which is incredibly ironic because that's my husband's field and I should KNOW BETTER. 

Go Giants (as in baseball, since I gaf about football, thankyouverymuch).  

Five Things About... Antigone by Sophocles


This is the fifth time I’ve taught this classical play and the sixth or seventh time I’ve read it. It’s a sort of chicken-or-the-egg sort of situation- do my students love it now because I love it or do I love it now because my students do? I read the other two plays in the trilogy a few years ago and I think they helped- I play up the incest component of Oedipus and Jocasta hard in my background lecture and the kids DIE when they hear about the curse. Boom. Total investment in what one students called “the incest babies.”

There are so many great thematic concepts to discuss with the kids that relate to current events- power/authority, corruption, gender roles, etc… Timeless.
Confession: choral parts are not my favorite, although I see the purpose and appreciate the context. Keep up the good work, guys. 

I had my students read this in small groups, outside, with their masks on, and 99% of them gave me positive feedback on it (I asked on a reading assignment and told them they’d get full credit no matter what). They said that it was great to get fresh air, so something different, that it was easier to discuss with their group, etc… it took six class periods and I loved it too! We will be outside much more often in the future. Take that, covid!

Can we just appreciate Haemon? He tries so hard to rationalize with his father and save Antigone.

Five Things About... Kafka on the Shore


I’ve owned this book for a very, very long time- so long that there’s a sticker for $14.95 from Borders (rip) on the back. I’m so angry at myself for waiting so long to get to it- if I had read it twelve years ago (or whatever) I would have probably read half his backlist by now. 

The timing of reading this book was perfect- coincidentally I am teaching Sophocles’ Antigone right now and am moving into Kafka’s Metamorphosis soon, both of which are tied to this text. Oedipus’ curse of killing his dad, sleeping with his mom, and finding himself in exile is also that of the main character, while Kafka-esque existentialism runs rampant (although interestingly, there’s a lot of absurdism in the text as well, which is not the same). There’s so much to unpack on a philosophical level that I probably need to read it again someday. 

This is my third Murakami book and I’m yet again so appreciative of his prose. He has this sort of ethereal quality that makes Japan seem sort of mysterious or delicate. His descriptions are perfect, his subtle wit is ever-present, and his dialogue spot on. He is notorious for his poorly-written sex scenes (I think he’s even won mock awards for this!), though, and this one does not disappoint. We’ll forgive him. 

There were many characters I was quite fond of, but the elderly Nakata, who has no memory of this past and can talk to cats was my favorite. 

The ending was a big fat slap in the face of WTFery; let’s just say slow-to-die giant slug emerging from a dead body level strangeness. I have my theories about that whole scene, and many other strange ones, but sometimes you have to accept magical realism, reading a book with cultural allusions and ties you might not understand, and the author’s own internal projections. I love reading about this book, but I’m also okay not truly understanding every piece of it. Fun fact- after this was written the publisher set up a website with questions, which topped out at 8,000ish. Murakami a answered 1,200, but unfortunately many haven’t been translated.

Five Things About... Nightbitch


Five things about Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder:

1. When people ask me what this book is about I tell them it's equal parts Kafka's Metamorphosis, Kevin Wilson's Family Fang, general mom angst, and feminism.

2. I love that the whole SAHM versus working-mom conundrum was explored in a diplomatic way. Basically, it's all challenging and the grass tends to be greener on the other side.

3. There are so many opposing forces in the text, which I found fascinating. Realism vs the absurd, science vs art, men vs women, employed vs unemployed, children vs parents, animals vs humans, day vs night... if we think about our lives, this perpetual tug-of-war is constant and part of the reason why we're always so exhausted. 

4. The evolution of the main character, who is unnamed in the beginning and then referred to as "Nightbitch, ironically, as the book continues, is a whirlwind. Her animalistic nature cannot be suppressed and the commentary on what can happen to us if we ignore our needs is loud and clear. The ultimate harnessing of this struggle and utilization of it for power, instead of seeing it only as a weakness, speaks volumes and provokes more questions about authenticity. 

5. This book isn't perfect; the pacing is a little off at points and I wish there was more to a one-sided emailing campaign the main character embarks on (but I get it, her evolution needed to be of her own volition). Nonetheless, I found the novel incredibly ambitious and unlike anything I've ever really read before. I can't wait to see what Yoder does next. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1. We just completed the first grading period (six weeks) and it's going okay! I have had a few kids officially out with Covid, but guess what? The kids who sit in the areas surrounding them did not. Why, you ask? Because they are all wearing their masks properly and some are vaccinated. Science is the best.

2. Despite my issues with Newsom I was incredibly amused by the recall election results last week. I mean, nearly twice as many voted to not recall.... 

3. I finished Kafka on the Shore by Murakami yesterday and it was so impressive. I think I need to read it again to really let everything sink in (but probably won't any time soon), but what he does with his characters, the story, the setting, the themes... I could go on and on. It's a special book and I definitely need to read more by him.

4. Sawyer has to decorate a fake pumpkin as a book character for a contest at school and he didn't even hesitate before picking Dogman. Do I have time to help him do this? Not really. Am I so happy that he gets to do activities like this this year? For sure. And it is a pretty cute idea.

5. I went with my friend so she could get her first tattoo yesterday and it made me so sad that my appointment for my next (and probably last) one isn't until May (although not sad enough to find someone new... I go to Daniel Winter and his availability is pretty ridiculous if you're not a celebrity, haha. He does really great work and I need his fine lines, so I'll wait!). It was so much fun to see what other people were getting and see the different levels of nervousness. 

6. Every weekend I've been trying to get a little house project or extra chore done, and this week I did my succulents. Part of me is impressed that they were mostly alive after so much neglect, but part of me is deeply embarrassed that I've let them go for so long (years!). It does feel really good to knock some nagging things out, though.

7. My students are reading Sophocles' Antigone and we've been doing it outside in small groups and it has been the best (they keep their masks on). We are three days in and have three days left, and I'll be sad when it's over. They're so much more relaxed and conversational outside, which makes it a pleasure to walk around and get to hear them talking about the play. 

8. Last weekend Sawyer and I went up to a small lake in the mountains and walked around for a few hours. It was such a nice break from where we live and it we were still able to be back to swim and relax in the afternoon. I am really trying to take advantage of the nature that's within an hour or two of my house; I am so good when I travel, but I get stuck in a rut with a few places locally. Time to change things up!

Five Things About... We Are the Babysitter's Club

We Are the Babysitter’s Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers by various writers and artists 

As a huge BSC fan from about, maybe, second to fifth grade this was nostalgia city. I always wanted to be a Stacy, but was probably 80% Mary Anne, 10% Kristy and 10% Mallory.
I loved the mix of both critical and complimentary pieces. There’s a lot to dissect when looking at treatment of race, disabilities, and gender. Martin got some of it right, ahead of her time, and some not so much. 

The collection was representative of a diverse group of writers and artists, which I really appreciated. BSC meant so many different things to so many different people. 

I love that I wasn’t the only person who loathed the chapter reviewing who everyone was and what they were like at the beginning of each book. The worst. 

The flow and organization was well-done, but I will say one minor complaint I did have was that a few of the pieces felt slightly redundant. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts


1. Still in shock that LA Unified is mandating vaccines- obviously we know I am pro-vax, but I am a little surprised that they're making such a bold move, given their size. I love that they had a closed-door session yesterday that had one agenda item- impending litigation (or something like that). They know it's coming and they give zero effs! It will be interesting to see if other districts follow.

2. Things have been going relatively smoothly this week and I've been really trying to adjust my thinking from "when is something bad going to happen?" to "let's just enjoy this." I've also been really thinking ahead to the next few months and have made a list of all the things I want to do, safely, and it just makes me happy. 

3. I'm reading Nightbitch still and am  loving connecting it to Kafka's Metamorphosis. I'm reading Kafka on the Shore by Murakami, coincidentally, which I find amusing ("tell us you're an English teacher without telling us you're an English teacher"). 

4. This weekend is shaping up to be pretty great- Saturday morning I plan on going up into the mountains and doing a little morning hike with Sawyer and then Sunday I have plans to walk with a friend in the morning and then we are meeting up with Sawyer's friend's family outside for some ice cream. Friends, outdoors, and food- right up my alley. 

5. Everyone is telling me to watch The Chair, and I promise, I want to, and I will. Not sure if it will be this calendar year, but eventually I'll get there. 

6. There's a new illustrated Jim Kay Harry Potter book coming out this month that looks at "366 moments" at Hogwarts (or something like that). We'll see if I can keep it for Sawyer for Christmas or if I let him have it early. It looks like so much fun! We're reading the fourth book verrrrrrry slowly, which is actually sort of nice, since we get a little Potter every day. 

7. I haven't done any writing, really, outside of the blog and my journal, in a long time, but I'm thinking of entering a flash fiction contest next month. It's only $30 bucks or so, and I love the premise of having to be concise and fast. I did one several years ago and was picked to go to the next round but got super, super sick and couldn't complete my entry! I need a second chance!

8. I told myself I'd order a Milk Bar cake for my birthday this year, but that I said maybe I could get it at the end of October after making through the world's longest teaching month... now I'm like "end of the first grading period?" (next week). I made the version in her cook book and it's really good, but they are a TON of work. We'll see how long I last. 

9. I resisted Olaplex for a looooooong time, but I finally bought and used Number 8 and after one use I might have to cave in and get more products. It's just so good. Gah. 


5... things about Labor Day Weekend
- I drove to Modesto super early Saturday morning for my sister's bridal shower. She's getting married next month, so I'll be back on the road before I know it
- I got lost in the country on the way to my other sister's new house, since she GAVE ME THE WRONG ADDRESS. It was actually kind of nice, since I passed by my mom's ex-boyfriend's dairy twice, saw where my old friend used to live, and drove by some people who let us swim in their pool when we were little (they had a slide, it was a really big deal). I didn't grow up in the country-proper, but in a subdivision on the outskirts of the town. It's the best of both worlds
- I have some SERIOUS issues with the Central Valley (see also: how do we get all the Larry Elder signs removed?), but that moment when I come down the 99 from the Grapevine and see the fields I get this super nostalgic "I'm home" feeling. A few minutes later I swore a crop duster was about to hit my car, I kid you not.
- For the first time in a year and a half I stayed in a hotel alone and for maybe the fourth time since having a kid and getting a new dog I slept "in" until 8 (not joking, I can count on one hand how many times I've slept in since Sawyer was born).
- I made my family of to my favorite taqueria and ice cream place, not that they seemed to mind

4... books I'm currently reading
- Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- The Molecule of More by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling 

3... things about fall I'm looking forward to
- cooler weather cooler weather cooler weather (and it hasn't been that hot)
- doing some of our normal Halloween things we didn't get to do last year (my husband and I have talked about how to do trick-or-treating, dressing up to go to Knott's Berry Farm, and a few other things safely and I believe we have arrived at a good plan) 
- hiking more! After getting in so many miles in Tahoe (over thirty over three days) with Sawyer I'm so ready to hit some local ones

2... books arriving tomorrow
- Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (I feel so conflicted about Rooney...)
- Matrix by Lauren Groff (a true test of whether Groff can do no wrong) 

1... thing I might as well set a Google alert for, since I check alllllll day
- news on Pfizer submitting 5-11 vax data to the FDA. They said September, okay? 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Since starting my "Five Things About..." posts I won't be doing separate monthly recap posts here. I did read seven book in August, pictured above, though! Clearly I've needed to escape.  

The fires in Lake Tahoe are breaking my heart. We were there in July and they Tamarack Fire had just started- it has gotten a million times worse. I have a friend on the east side of South Lake and I keep checking to make sure it hasn't gotten to her. 

The theme of this week has been "death by a thousand cuts"- lots of generally manageable problems piling up and up and up. Finally last night I had to give myself a massive pep talk (and it was only Tuesday, haha) and totally refigure my expectations for many different things. After a truly horrific start to my morning today I rallied and might not die after all. 

I am going out of town this weekend and I asked Sawyer what he was going to do with his dad while I was gone and he said that they'd "have a party" where they would "eat cake and draw pictures for each other." Scott hates cake, so it will probably be more like Sour Patch Kids, but I can't wait to see their drawings, haha. I love how my son is so satisfied with the small, fun things in life.

On that note, a friend and I were just chatting about how the last two years and impacted out kids. I know that a lot of people focus on what their kids have lost, but I think a lot of us will be surprised (well, if we've set a good example, that is). My son knows a lot about being safe for our community, trusting science, making fun with what's around us, and about some of what goes on in current events (we still talk about the shooting of George Floyd on a monthly basis... Sawyer wanted to write a "mean" letter to Derrick Chavin in prison which was one part awesome and one part a little sudden). 

I haven't spent the night alone in a hotel room since February of 2020, before a half marathon, which meant I got up before dawn. I also can count the number of times I have been able to sleep in past 7:45 am since Sawyer was born in 2014 on one hand, so the fact that I am going to be alone in a hotel this weekend and not have to set my alarm the next morning is next-level MAGICAL. 

I am reading Murakami's Kafka on the Shore and boy oh boy oh boy did things just get weird. 

I just realized I haven't watched any sort of anything in almost a month- I clearly don't miss it. 

I absolutely do not support what is happening with reproductive rights in Texas at all. 

Scratch that Book-Buying Itch (but for a Good Cause)

 Buying is fun, right? 

When the pandemic struck in March of 2020 we found out fifth period that we were shutting down- that day. Many of my classroom library books were with my seniors at their homes, and, since we aren't allowed to have visitors on campus and many have since gone to college, my books never found their way back (understandable!). 

I set up an Amazon wishlist for my class that I use to purchase from, but also decided to recently share it in case anyone wanted to scratch that book-buying itch. No pressure, of course, but if you are so included please see the list below and thank you for your consideration!

Five Things About... On All Fronts

Five thoughts on Clarissa Ward's On All Fronts:
I learned a ton about the Middle East- Ward is informative without being boring. She doesn’t weigh anyone down with excessive history or data, but instead provides the right amount of context for her various experiences.

Along with her own personal perspective, she works to bring voices to different people in areas like Syria, Georgia, and Libya. She refrains from making sweeping judgements, instead focusing on explaining why cultures and individuals may be the way they are (I heard her on NPR’s Fresh Air the other day doing the exact same thing, when explaining why in rural Afghanistan there is more of a concern for survival as opposed to women’s rights).

Her writing is solid- she strikes a good balance between being personable, descriptive, and informative (which is why she’s such a great journalist).
While I don’t have much of current desire to travel to many of the places she discussed, it was fascinating to feel so immersed in travel. I have some major wanderlust lately, so this was a treat. 

So often with reporters we see them on camera, but her discussion is more behind-the-scenes moments seemed so honest. She talks about withdrawing from loved ones after tough trips, being concerned about what motherhood would do to her career, and how exhausting being in war zones was. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I'll post more about it soon, but I finished Clarissa Ward's On All Fronts yesterday and was so sad to be done. It will be a contender for my top ten list of the year, I think. I just started Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which I am sure will be excellent, but I find it slightly hysterical that I thought now would be the time to begin something challenging.

Twenty of my fifty-four books so far this year have been non-fiction! That's nearly half! I think last year I tapped out around fifteen, and I'm assuming I'll probably read 5-10 more nonfiction before my January, so that's a pretty large increase. 

My son started getting homework this week, and, traditionally, a second grader should get around 20-30 minutes a night. He's been getting closer to an hour... sigh. I think the issue is that his teacher adds a lot of video content before the actual work and maybe doesn't realize how much time it's taking. I don't want to be the annoying teacher-mom who says something, but it's making the time between work and dinner pretty miserable. He is good about sitting down and doing it, but after a full day of school and knowing he's missing out on play time, it's a lot towards the end. Hopefully the kinks get worked out. 

We have for the first time EVER Back to School Night at the high school were I teach (done virtually). Here's the thing- parent contact is important and I know the lower grades do theirs every year. I am pretty sure turn out will be extremely lackluster, since it's also the first home football game, so I am screwing up my entire evening because of it. Luckily my husband works at home right now and can help with my son, but still. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. 

I have fallen back on the single-use K-Cup train again and I am so ashamed. I have been using the reusable ones you fill with ground for years, since it's cheaper and better for the environment, but now that I am in such a hurry and I have a Keurig I am using in my classroom, I caved in and bought some. Global warming is all my fault, I'm sorry guys. 

I listened to the Armchair Expert with Quentin Tarantino the other day, and, I kid you not, he claimed that he "punctured the consciousness of the zeitgeist." First of all the phrase is brilliant and the English teacher in me practically crashed her car swooning. Second of all, could his head be further up his own ass? 

I need a new audiobook, since I have a long, solo (!), car trip ahead of me soon. I'm so picky about what I will listen to, since it can't be something I'd read. But if I deem it inferior it can't be that bad, since I can't stand to listen to something that's complete crap. There's a fine line. 

I've been doing a lot of daydreaming lately about paying off all debt, including the house early (Dave Ramsey has a great calculator). I paid off my student loans earlier in the year, my car will be next, and then the HELOC. I still fantasize about getting a little RV, but then once in awhile I daydream about investing in a little condo somewhere in Tahoe or towards Yosemite (obviously this is all under the guise that our financial situation and health stays the same; I've been in plenty of situations where it's all about staying on top of the current bills, so this is not me coming from a place of being spoiled). Honestly, this is what it feels like to be old. 

It's Not That I Hate Babies

Sawyer picture 3,208 of 17,325,555 

A lot of my friends are moms and a pretty consistent refrain I'll hear on social media is, "I miss my babies" or "I wish they were small again" or "just you wait until they're older." I feel like with so many moms this starts when their babies are like nine months and I'm guess will continue until they have grandbabies or pop another one out in the final quarter (ie early forties). Recently, though, I saw an old high school friend talk about how every stage her kid is at is her favorite and I was like "ME TOO!" Finally. 

It's not that I hate babies, because babies are super cute. The cheeks, those little sweatshirts with animal hoodies, all the firsts, and how sweet they feel when they nap on you. Don't forget, though, the total and complete incapability to control their bodily functions, their lack of concern about sleep, and the fact that they really don't communicate all that effectively. 

Toddlers? My toddler was a gem- never once did he throw one of those nightmarish fits and he was capable of doing very quiet, tedious activities like putting stickers on paper for hours. Watching them learn so much about the world is absolutely delightful and hearing them talk is the best. But, still. They need help with EVERYTHING. I mean, sometimes I don't want to put shoes on another person. Put on your own shoes. It's not that hard. 

Then, they become tiny people! Hooray! They're housebroken, then dress themselves, they put cream cheese on their bagels, they have conversations with you, their hobbies start emerging, and you can rationalize with them (most of the time). It's great.

I've worked with all ages of elementary between teaching, student teaching, subbing, and whatnot, and I've been at the high school level for more than a decade. I know that aging doesn't make kids void of flaws, and there are always hiccups along the way. There are many inevitable, uncomfortable things headed my way in the years to come, I know. 

But still.

I'm glad I don't have a baby anymore. Maybe it's because I waited until I was thirty to have a kid and had a good, long taste of comfortable adult life while not being responsible for a human. Maybe it's how I'm wired? It's not that I'm not maternal, because I think I am, and it's not that I hated pregnancy, because mine was fine. I just love not being responsible for an super tiny creature and I thoroughly enjoy seeing my son become more grown up. 

Ultimately, it's a commentary on motherhood, and out society's expectations of women. We're supposed to make comments about our ovaries aching at baby showers and get weepy when looking at old pictures of our little munchkins. Taking it a step further, we're supposed to want babies in the first place, and at least two, since we'd never want our first o be *gasp* not have sibling (please, so many people don't even really like their siblings, ever- not me, I love mine). Don't even get me started on whether we're supposed to do crying it out, institute allowances, fight with our spouses in front of our kids, or any of the other seven million things people have such strong opinions on. 

(If I was grading this, I'd give it an abysmal score for staying on topic and being organized)

I love my son and he was the cutest baby I've ever seen in my life, but I'll take a conversation about Harry Potter, an afternoon of him playing upstairs with LEGOs while I read, or (when COVID is "over") an easy travel partner any day over those pudgy little cheeks. 

Five Things About.... The Vegetarian

Five thoughts on Han King's The Vegetarian:

This is not a happy book, not that books have to be happy. Just be prepared- the characters are all completely miserable.

There have been many comparisons to Kafka and his abstract existentialism, and I definitely concur. As a reader we’re constantly questioning the characters’ distortions of reality, all the while forming conclusions about their identity. 

The narrative is told in four parts, with another character’s dreams and thoughts spliced on. I typically don’t love this style, since it makes me feel inevitably detached from characters, as there’s no return to their thread for closure. It worked for this novel, though, form and function coinciding. Detachment is such a crucial thematic concept, so it’s parallel to the structure was appropriate. 

I appreciated the glimpse into South Korean life- the food, setting, gender roles, medical system, etc…

There’s this interesting portrayal of this sort of decay of natural beauty, specifically flowers. At one point an artist paints beautiful floral designs all over another character, but soon the beauty fades, the flowers symbolizing something much darker and almost grotesque

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

All I'll say about work and having an unvaccinated kid in public school right now is that it's really stressful. I cannot imagine working in the South where there are no mask mandates. We have them and still... yeah... My students are awesome about wearing them, and Sawyer is too, but, still. Stuff to say but probably shouldn't here...  I have decided, though, that for every month my family and I stay healthy I will make a donation to Doctor's Without Borders. It's my way of being thankful and trying to put SOMETHING back into the world, I guess. If you're financially able, might be something to consider!

Happier things! Sawyer and I went to a big park with our books and a bag of excessive gas station snacks and read under a big shady tree for nearly two hours last weekend. It was the highlight of my week, for sure.

I am currently reading The Vegetarian by Han King for book club, and it's a bit of a trip. I'm not quite done, but I can totally see why people were making connections to Kafka. 

If being helpful and nice is being done to make yourself feel better, does it detract from your intentions? My students and I were talking about this today, and it's good food for thought. On the flip side, if you're willingly doing nice thing for people and it makes you feel worse what kind of person are you?

My son has one of those "question a day" books that lasts for three years, and today's question was "what is your favorite restaurant?" Every single year he has chosen Panera. I have failed. 

As of tomorrow my students will have finished reading their first book of the year, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I'm so proud of them! Two weeks, one book already. It's a novella at only 117 pages, but, still. Way to be off and running. 

I didn't assign summer work this year, which is usually not the case (well, last year I didn't either, but that's a whole other story, since we started virtually). It has been amazing to start the year and not have a billion papers to grade. It does mean we have to hustle to get through everything (see above), but I am so thankful that I made that call. The kids needed it, too. 

I listened to the Kate Beckinsale episode of The Armchair Expert and I want to be her best friend. I had no idea I loved her so much! She is so smart, so funny, and seems so down-to-earth. Love her. 

I am trying really hard to just lay low this weekend, since I have lots going on the following two. The weather is absolutely amazing right now, though, so it's hard to fathom not getting out and about somewhere... (it's like in the 80s- usually we're triple digits in August). 

Five Things About.... Real Life

1. Taylor captures Wallace’s inner rage so perfectly- his emotional imagery left no uncertainty. Honestly, I was terrified at some points that he would end his own life, not because he was weak, but because he was surrounded by such selfishness.

2. The examples of racism and homophobia, both big and small, were painful and uncomfortable, as Taylor intended. How many times have you stayed silent? I am asking myself the same and know that we have to do better. 

3. I really wish this had been a book club book, since I feel like the relationship he has with Miller needs some collaborative unpacking. I understand that they both have so much trauma to cope with from the past, but the violence scared me on Wallace’s behalf. 

4. The scientific setting was such an added bonus for me. I loved reading about the lab, his research, and academia (although his perception of the dysfunction was not exactly inviting).

5. The female characters were fascinating- the woman who seems to just want a gay friend, the woman who tries to use feminism as a weapon, the woman in power who is way too steadfast in her support of other women, and the woman who is a loyal friend.