Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I just started the graphic memoir And Now I Spill the Family Secrets by Margaret Kimball and it is SO good. This is the second memoir I've read this month, both of which are stunning!

My need to be a people-pleaser has been struggling with my tendencies to have strong opinions lately and it's absolutely exhausting. Navigating inner and outer conflict is complicated. There's this sort of balance I strive for- how can you make your thoughts known in a respectful way, while not being steamrolled? Obviously who you're up against is part of the battle, but no matter it's exhausting. 

Also exhausting is running with the dog nearly every morning 5:30- my body hurts everywhere, a combined effect of running on concrete (I usually run on the treadmill) and my gait being changed from handling a leash. I started foam rolling, which has just made my arms sore from pushing my lower half against the roll. I know it's worth it and I'll adapt, but in the meantime I'll just whine more than usual.

I think a topic in education (life?) that really needs to be addressed right now is moving past the trauma of the pandemic. Yes, I know we aren't completely past it, but we have to stop being reactionary and be proactive. How can we change the rhetoric next year to treading water to swimming forward?

I just yanked out my son's front tooth because it was dangling (he let me)- the Tooth Fairy needs to bring be a treat too. That noise. That feeling.

I am going out to a restaurant with some friends this weekend, for the first time since pre-pandemic (going out and the three of us being together all at once). I cannot wait. I also have a pedicure this weekend, so it's basically Christmas.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1. I know, I normally do these on Wednesday.... so does that mean I'm a few days late or a few days early?

2. I just finished Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad and I cannot stop gushing about it. Her memoir is about battling nearly-terminal leukemia and then traveling the country to visit people who wrote her while she was a columnist at the NY Times. It's basically perfect. I enjoyed the medical part, the personal aspect, and the travel component. If I can get it together, I plan on writing a whole post on the book.

3. I received a few books in the mail yesterday, despite my temporary deal with myself to wait until the end of the school year and purchase everything at once. In my defense there was a deal, so who am I to argue with being fiscally responsible? Two are graphic novels, and then I finally got The Final Revival of Opal Nev, which I'm super excited about.

4. I started a shared doc in one of my book clubs so we can put our ideas down for our next year of selections and I think it's so interesting to see what people put down.  I've only put one so far, but am resisting the urge to plop down a dozen more. 

5. Most of next week at work will be consumed with some online assessment, which I'm super bummed about, since we just finished Macbeth. I am, though, also super psyched to get some massive time to catch up on grading and hopefully do the rest of my lesson plans for the remaining two weeks of content I have left to teach.

6. Yes, that's right! Three weeks until summer break, basically! I can't believe it. Sawyer is in school a bit longer than I am, so I cannot wait to have a few days of time to unwind alone. We don't have a trip planned this summer, since everything was so up-in-the-air with Covid, but I renewed our annual passes to the San Diego Zoo and Knott's Berry Farm, so it will be pretty darn awesome to start going to the places we weren't able to for so long. Between those types of things, the beach, etc... I am hoping my cabin fever will be kept at bay. I might try to manage one little trip away at some point, but it also depends on a few other things. Who knows! Starting next year, I plan on a big trip every summer. Short-list options: a drive up the West Coast as far as Whistler (in a rental so that we can fly home), NYC, Hawaii (I may be able to convince my husband to come on that one... we have already been but I would like to take Sawyer), Charleston (this might end up being a long weekend sort of things with a friend), Nashville (yes, I want to go just so I can go to Parnassus.... also a long weekend situation) Chicago, and Montana. I could go on and on. There's also a BIG trip to Europe in the beginning stages of planning with a friend, Sawyer, and maybe my mom, but that's going to be in probably three or so years when he's a tad older. Maybe I need to write a whole post... stop rambling, Christine... 

7. I have been running most mornings with Ellie before work and it's so effing hard to commit to this as 5:30 am. I have found the trick is to push myself into wearing shorts and a sports bra- if I can just put these things on and get out the door, I'm awake enough after walking half a block or so to just bite the bullet and speed up. It's ironic, though, that the thing I dread ends up making her so tired and my so happy. My mood is noticeably better on days I run instead of walk, not that it's bad, it's just downright good when I suck it up and go. 

8. I'm getting another tattoo! I had been thinking about a very small new for a year or two, one but wasn't sure where I wanted it. I finally decided the other day and emailed the artist I used for my tree one and he booked me. For May. Of 2022. I know. This guy has sort of blown up in LA and is in high-demand, so I get it. I would find someone else, but he does amazing fine-line, single-needle work and since this is going to be really small writing there is absolutely no room for error (is there ever any room for error on a tattoo?). Something to look forward to, I guess!

9. I have to start dishwasher shopping.  Appliances are the absolute worst- so boring! I haven't had a working dishwasher in WAY TO MOTHER-EFFING LONG, so I'm of course absolutely thrilled at the actual prospect, it's just getting there that is a drag. 

10. The weather has been absolutely amazing where I live- it's this wonderful time of year where the highs are in the 70-80 and the nights are chilly. Having to stay inside seems like a total punishment! I just want to go lay outside with my book and Diet Coke and alternate between reading and dozing. Soon it will be approximately 187 degrees and I'll be complaining nonstop. 

11. I sent my mom a huge order of pastries from Porto's for Mother's Day. Our family's love language is carbs.

12. This weekend is kicking off a stretch of a few jam-packed ones in a row. HOORAY! Tonight we have a park play-date with Sawyer's friend (I love his mom, so this almost feels like a social activity for me, too), tomorrow we are going hiking, and I hope to take most of Sunday "off" (mom "off" is basically 50% of a break, at least when you have little ones). 

May Goals, Plus April, Revisited

The treadmill is beckoning from across the room, so I'm going to make this fast. I did pretty well with my goals this month: 

Buy a new phone- Nope! I've decided to just wait to deal with it until summer. The one I have is fine and I'm being horribly over-dramatic, so it's been tabled.

Finish and ship all Etsy orders- Yes! All seven orders, six being custom, have been sent out into the world. I also squeezed in a gift for a friend. 

Get a few health issues under control- Thank goodness! Yup! I had some issues with my eyes that are a million times better and I will hopefully be in the clear after my recheck later this week. I also had a stomach issue that improved dramatically with a round of medicine, so I am a happy camper. 

Make sure Sawyer had a great birthday- Yup! We had a great weekend. His friend dropped by a surprise gift on Saturday and then on his actual birthday Scott and I took him to walk around the beach and we did gifts, cake, lots of family FaceTime, and his favorite dinner. 

Step up my skin care- Yes again! I am not getting any younger, so I've slowly built up a good routine that hopefully will prolong the inevitable. 

Stay away from a really negative Facebook page associated with my son's school- Yes! I really don't have time for that toxicity, anyway. 2021 has been a much happier place on the Internet, so any little change that adds to it is awesome. 

Now, May:

Finish the school year without losing my mind- I like to make my goals easily quantifiable, and trust me- for a teacher this is

Have fun doing fun things- I feel like May marks my return into the world. Every weekend is pretty booked and I am beyond thrilled.

Two non-Etsy embroidery hoops- I love that people trust me to create things for them, but I have been itching to try out a few of my own ideas. One of these things needs to be updating my book hoop. All I have done is January- and these really aren't that time-consuming! It just gets pushed back first, I guess. 

Keep running with Ellie- I have converted 4-5 of our daily morning walks to at least partial runs, and I want to maintain that (for both of our sakes)

Finish rereading Jane Eyre- I really do enjoy it, I just can't always read it in huge chunks or I get sleepy

It's Okay to Be Good

The other day someone at work asked me how I was doing and I genuinely answered, "good." Not "tired," "okay," "getting through the week," or any of the other generic responses I'd typically throw out there to disguise the fact that life was mediocre or even rough, depending on the day. 

I am good. I am doing better than well. I feel content, happy, optimistic, and ready to tackle life. Even when something not-so-great happens, like the pool guy informing me that some sort of digital salt-cell indicator board needs to be fixed, I don't feel like I'm going to lose it. 

While I wouldn't have described myself as necessarily depressed, pessimistic, or unhappy, the last... two or two and half years have been really tough, personally. And then you add a pandemic into the mix? I felt like I was constantly treading water to maintain normalcy for my son and to figure out how to somehow be okay in the place I was in at the time. It was exhausting. 

But now, the last few months, I'm still exhausted, but in a different way. My husband and I are both busy with our jobs, Sawyer is in in-person school more, my sister is around to help with childcare while I'm away, my exercise is at an all time high, I've had a lot Etsy orders, I'm seeing friends again, my eye problem is basically resolved, we have a lot of fun things on the books for May- I could go on, but, the million dollar question: who really wants to hear about the happy things?

You know the phrase "misery loves company?" I have this sneaking suspicion that a lot of people don't really want to hear about the good stuff, which I totally get if you're struggling. It's like a happy slap in the face and when you feel like crap that's the last thing you want. Good for you, being all happy while I'm sitting here feeling like a dumpster fire, thanks. Not that I walk around radiating giant happy face vibes, but I get it. Even if you love the person dearly, when you're in the middle of your own personal dumpster fire you don't necessarily want to hear about how someone else's has been extinguished. 

There's also the fact that there are so many horrible things happening in the world right now- India's COVID surge, the ongoing systemic racism in America, the drought, kids struggling academically after the pandemic... Who am I to be happy? What gives me that privilege?

So, no one likes a happy person, and if you are happy you should feel incredibly guilty about it, the end. 

But not really.

I compartmentalize in good times and in bad, so this is no different. You taper your happiness, depending on who you're around, reading the room. You enjoy your happiness, because it's a good thing. You acknowledge the bad in the world, because denial is unhealthy, and you use what you have to do better (I can donate a few bucks to causes I feel passionate about, work to reduce my carbon footprint, help my students make up for lost time, etc...). 

But, more than anything, you give thanks for the happiness. It won't be around forever, I know this as much as anyone. You can't let your guard down- lapses in unhappiness are inevitable. But until one comes up, you bask in your turn to feel good and you express gratitude for the opportunity to feel lighter. 

It really is okay to be good. 

April Reads

It's May! Whoa! I have a life-update kinda of post scheduled for this week, but, needless to say, things have been a bit chaotic lately (but in a good way). I'm trying to simultaneously do like seventeen things right now, so I'll keep it brief:

I reread Shakespeare's Macbeth for maybe the fifty-seventh time? Fine, fine, probably the seventh, but still. I actually really enjoy teaching this play and really getting into the analysis. It has been different this year, though, since I can't have them read it in groups like a normally do, but we're making it work!

I ready Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun with Julie, which I have an in-depth post about here. 

Two of my books were for book club, Therese Anne Fowler's A Good Neighborhood and Emmanuel Acho's Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Fowler's was about a white family and a black family's whose social awkwardness takes a very serious, intense, catastrophic turn for the worse. We definitely criticized her writing a lot, but I think the message she conveyed about race in America was important. We agree this was a good book for someone who is still sort of trying to navigate the beginnings of their "what is white privilege?" journey, which actually so was Acho's. I really appreciated how organized his text was, breaking down the book into chapters focusing on different questions white people have, and then answering them with historical, social, and personal context.

Finally Patricia Engel's Infinite Country was absolutely beautifully done, examining immigration in such a poignant, thoughtful way- it was literary and socially realistic.