5 Things I'm Looking Forward To:
- Finishing a virtual IB four-day IB training (it's actually fine, just better in-person)
- Two book clubs this week! One a lunch!
- Two playdates this week with kids whose parents are friends
- Going to Torrey Pines this week to hike around the beach and maybe a stop in La Jolla for the Sugar and Scribe bakery (I've ordered things online, but would love to go to the actual place while we are close)
- Vacation... now that it's happening I'm obsessed

4 Books to Finish This Week:
- An IB training book for next week, so that I feel better about the curriculum changes
- Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo
- Delicious! by Ruth Reichl 
- A yoga anatomy book 

3 Things I Am Currently Listening To:
- The Office Ladies, Season 2
- To Live and Die in LA, Season 2
- Yearbook by Seth Rogan (so funny!)

2 Things About Doing LEGO (you have no idea how hard it is to not pluralize LEGO):
- I am doing a large Treehouse set right now and am enjoying it SO much. I've been working on it for like two weeks, just doing a little section every day or so, and it's so relaxing and rewarding. 
- I ordered their typewriter set that was just released- I couldn't resist! But, that's it! I have space to display just these. 

1 Goal for the Week:
- Move my bike off the trainer in my office/gym where it is never used, to the garage, so I can get it back on the streets occasionally 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1. I just reread this post about being socially-isolated for three months that I wrote last June and I laughed so hard at the "really toxic auras" comment. Oh, Christine of June 2020, it got worse. Ha! The whole post made me really, really thankful for what life is like right now. 

2. I am GOING ON A TRIP next month! Sawyer and I are going to Lake Tahoe for several (yes, SEVERAL) days and I couldn't be more excited. I don't want to fly with him until he is vaccinated, nor do I want to drive a million hours in the car, so Tahoe was a great choice. Probably 8-9 hours with stops, I can see my mom on the way, and it will be WAY cooler there than it is where I live. Plus green nature, as opposed to the dry brown vegetation I'm currently surrounded by. I am so, so, so thankful. Also, I need a break from my dog. 

3. I've been a reading machine in June- I think I've finished six books so far and will probably get another three or so done by the end of the month. Sawyer is in summer school in the mornings, so that has given me some uninterrupted time. Next month will be a lot busier but I'm still making a huge dent in my yearly goal.

4. I am continuously disappointed with Prime Day, year after year. 

5. So, I bought myself a reading couch for the master bedroom instead (in my defense, the chair I have is basically the opposite of ergonomically designed). It's being delivered in late July and I can't wait!

6. We had friends over for lunch and swimming yesterday and it was the best. Our kids are finally old enough to (mostly) just play so we can catch up. I have loved my son at all the various stages so far, but I love this delightful mix of "I can entertain myself" and "I still love my mom and want to snuggle with her on the couch" that seven brings (and hopefully eight and nine as well). 

7. I'm reading Louise Erdrich's newly-crowned Pulitzer Prize winner The Night Watchman and it's so good. We have our English Department monthly book club for it next week and I think it will be a good one to discuss. 

8. I was super excited to finally realize that my Down Dog Yoga app also includes their sister apps for Barre and Meditation in my monthly membership. I would like to attempt to meditate occasionally, just because I think we can all benefit from slowing down and taking a breath, but mostly I'm thrilled with the Barre component. I did a ten minute ab focused session today and I can tell this will definitely be a part of my fitness routine. 

9. I feel so bad for Britney Spears. 

10. I know I've mentioned this before, but my two sisters are both getting married and my brother's wife is expecting- I love seeing everyone's excitement and prep! 2021 has been (knock on wood) SO good to my household and many family members- there's just so much joy. I'm just so thankful.

11. My dog is making it her mission to befriend everyone on our walks over the age of fifty. She has so many old-people friends.

12. I recently had to go on the IRS website to change some information regarding the new Child Tax Credit, and MY GOD the process for getting an account for the website is a lot! You have to send in pictures of your driver's license, provide your SSN, authenticate your email, wait for a two-factor code, and swear on your mother's grave. It had to be done so we don't get dinged at tax time next year, so it was a necessary evil, but sheesh (now I just have to get my husband to do it, haha). The whole time I was worried that I was going to get rejected and have to prove myself to one of the scariest governmental entities. 

Shock Value

I don't consider myself someone who is shocked easily- I mean, I've been a public school teacher for like fifteen years, over a decade of which has been with high school students. That being said, there have been some notable moments as a reader where I've been pretty shocked, for various reasons, whether it be the context of the story, my age, or the extent of the vulgarity. 

My age, which directly corresponds to my naïveté, is of course something to be taken into consideration. I read John Grisham's A Time to Kill when I was probably eleven or twelve- I had absolutely no idea that people sexually assaulted children. I remember reading this on Christmas Eve, late at night while everyone was sleeping, the juxtaposition of this sad surprise and the gifts from "Santa" under the tree (I didn't still believe in him then, I wasn't that innocent) notable. A random mass market paperback that I believe was called Shank informed my very young self what a "glory hole" was in a prison- again, I was probably like eleven and had used my allowance money to buy this book at Wal-Mart. Lest us not forget Flowers in the Attic where I learned what incest was- are we seeing a theme with all of my young literary surprises? 

In college, my shock of a different variety; here the shock was the challenge. I read difficult texts in my IB program in high school, but I remember taking a Russian Literature class as a freshman and being blown away by the rhetoric that juniors and seniors were using to discuss Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. I was also shocked by the sheer volume of reading I'd be forced to do in a week, something that sounds pretty darn wonderful now. 

As an fully-cooked adult, true bookish shocks are few and far between. Chuck Palahniuk definitely comes to mind, one of his short stories about a young man who loses one of his most dear appendages to a pool vacuum being one such example. I haven't read much of Palahniuk's recent works, but I remember grappling with this idea when I read him- when does shock move from a strategic tool to a gimmick? He constantly towed the line, sometimes crossing over, sometimes being strategic and brilliant.  

Over the weekend I read Lisa Taddeo's newest release, her novel Animal, and I felt similar. As a whole I thought it was excellent; her examination of a severely damaged woman's psyche captivated me from the first page. By the end, the shock value had been laid on a little thick though, including the scene outside at the end (I don't want to spoil it). Her use of this device has range, though, and isn't all coming from a place of purely gore. We're floored by her financial decisions, her use of men, her reactions, her emotions, her sexuality, honesty, physicality, and background. The shocks are meant to unsettle you and force you to actively decide whether you will be judgmental or empathetic.

As a whole, I see shock the same way as I see most of other technique a writer uses; it has to be done well to be effective. If the placement doesn't pack a punch the impact will be negligible, while too much comes off as immature and cheap. I think Taddeo, while laying on a little thick at times, still manages to end up ahead. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Me, every day.

Next week is pretty busy, so this week I've forced myself to not make any official plans Monday-Friday. Honestly, it's been really great. Basically, each day is spent having a few hours to myself while Sawyer's at summer school and my husband is working, and then after I pick the kid up at noon the rest of the day is me alternating between spending time with him, reading, and doing whatever else I want. It's so much easier to wrap my brain around being at home when I'm not doing so for the pandemic. 

Next week I have three friend dates, a book club meeting, and a virtual four-day training for work. The week after Sawyer is done with summer school and I'm starting to plan some outings and invite friends over to swim. I love having people over again! 

California has "opened up," which is interesting. It's so great to see the numbers down in every horrible category (positive tests, ICU admits, death, etc...), but it still feels really weird. I still plan on wearing my mask in indoor places, since my son needs to and I want to set a good example. Even when he is not with me, I will wear one when I am indoors (like a crowded store), just because I could still technically contract it from someone and bring it home to him. I know the stats on kids not reacting the same, but it gives me piece of mind to know I'm still doing my part to keep him safe. I don't have a backup, okay? 

My mom was down last week and Scott and I were able to *gasp* go to dinner alone for the second time in a month. This time we actually went to a *double gasp* place that wasn't in our city and needed *that's right, triple gasp* reservations. And it was at like 8:30... at night. Wild and crazy, indeed. But honestly, it's so nice. We have very few people locally who I would ask to watch him while we went out, since I'm not ready to have my old rotation of college kids come to my house yet, so I'm thankful that my family was around at the right time. 

I watched a movie! The shocks continue! In the Heights was a lot of fun, although I am definitely aware of some of the backlash that's occurring in terms of the issues with racial representation in it. 

I am listening to so much right now in terms of podcasts and audiobooks- I started Seth Rogan's Yearbook, which is hilarious, and I am going to download Malibu Rising when I am done with that (please don't come at me, but I don't think TJR is a great writer; I appreciate what she did in terms of format for Daisy Jones, but she's definitely a listen, not a read). I am listening to The Office Ladies as I slooooowly rewatching episodes, and am also keeping up with Bad on Paper, some episodes of The Daily, Smartless and The Armchair Expert, and want to start the next season of To Live and Die in LA. Luckily I walk the dog for well over an hour a day, but still. So many options. 

I started Lisa Taddeo's Animal yesterday and... wow. So gritty, so dark, so sexual. It definitely falls in line with Three Women in the sense that Taddeo definitely has a really particular, unique voice that is present in her fiction as well. 

20 Years Ago...

If we're going to be totally honest, I sort of forgot that this year marked twenty years since I graduated from high school. I vaguely remember some social media chatter last year about what would happen with the reunion with the pandemic, but I've had bigger fish to fry. Then today I saw some of my old friends posting pictures and memories and I had to jump on the nostalgia train with a few of my own. Twenty years? How am I this old? Yet, also, it feels like lifetimes ago.

I dug out my photo album and spent a few minutes reminiscing, remembering back to our big senior trip to not far from where I live now (we did Downtown Disney's now-gone ESPN Zone, Grad Night at Disneyland, stayed in a hotel for a few hours, and then hit Six Flags up for the day on the way back... thirty-seven year old me cannot imagine how tired our poor chaperones were). There was our IB Senior Banquet, graduation rehearsal, graduation itself, a small gathering with friends that night after family stuff, and then a week of get-togethers. The normal stuff, really. 

For the most part, I really enjoyed high school. Not to the point where I consider it my glory days or anything, but I was fortunate enough to get swept into a group of fellow IB students, and we stayed together all four years. I had come from a close-knit group that stayed at the same school from kindergarten to eighth grade, so having this sort of school-within-a-school idea helped make the jump between the two places easier. I had friends, I did very well academically, I respected my teachers, I was involved in extracurricular activities, I went to all the school events, had various little part time jobs (umpiring, babysitting, etc...), blablaba. I had a boyfriend most of freshman year, played the field for awhile, and then finished up senior year with a guy I dated throughout college (until I met my husband, but that's a story for another time). I stayed out of trouble, but I also had a lot of fun.

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, though. My dad killed himself at the end of freshman year, and a lot happened in my immediate family consequently. I was the oldest of four, which meant that I spent A LOT of time helping my mom, especially with the two siblings who are a lot younger than I am. Money was a constant issue and I had to work hard to secure various forms of funding, on my own, to go to UCLA. My boyfriend and I senior year had a dramatic relationship (although most high school ones are), and I felt often very anxious about him leaving me, so I never pulled the plug (this continued for three more years... sigh...). The culmination of the stressors of home and my relationship led to a great deal of anxiety, which I at the time had no idea how to cope with. I lost a lot of sleep, got sick often (I had strep throat multiple times one year), and wrote in my journal lists and lists of backup plans and fears. While all of this was obviously unfortunate, everything I went through during this time really helped me learn to push myself in a lot of ways and I'm proud that I was able to handle so much, so young. Life handing you lemons and all that. 

What makes me the most amused is that my life twenty years later is nothing at all how I thought it would be. I thought I'd be a doctor... I'm an English teacher (although I can teach biology). I thought I was going to be marry the other half of my four-year-old dysfunctional relationship... I ended up with the guy I started dating soon after I broke it off with high school boyfriend boy. I thought I'd have three kids... I have one. I imagined I'd live in a big city... I live in a suburban city that I'd never even thought of back then. Life definitely doesn't end up the way we think when we're seventeen or eighteen, and that's probably for the best!

I'll finish up by saying that I feel incredibly lucky to be friends with several people from high school, though, despite how far and wide we've spread. The education I received during those four years prepared me so incredibly well for college and I'm glad that I had to figure out things for myself.  

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

My mom is coming tonight! After not seeing her for sooooooo long it's so exciting. Technically this is the third time in the last few months (although one visit was less than two hours), which feels so lucky. We have a few things planned and then she will also be spending a chunk of time with my grandparents. Scott and I have reservations out for a late dinner one night, which seems like such a treat (although we just went out alone a few weeks ago when my sister was down, but still). 

Yesterday Sawyer and I went to Knott's Berry Farm for the morning, since our annual passes have been reactivated. He has always been incredibly easy to go do things with, ever since he was tiny, but now that so much time has passed and he's even more self-sufficient going to amusement parks and the like is a total breeze. 

A few of my students have joined Goodreads and I love seeing what books they're reading, earmarking for later, etc... I've even spotted them interacting with each other over literature they read for fun (Sally Rooney), which makes this English teacher so happy!

I watched several seasons of The Office back when it was actually on, but only made it to season... 5? My husband is full-blown obsessed and has watched the show in it's entirety a few times, and is willingly re-watching with me. The show is of course hilarious, but now I am more motivated than ever to watch since I love the Office Ladies podcast SO MUCH. 

Sawyer and I had a book party the other night- basically, he just took advantage of the fact that I love that he reads so much and brought a bunch in to read in my room past his bedtime. It was actually pretty perfect- every time he started getting chatty I just threatened to kick him out, which shut him up real fast. We got a ton of reading done!

Sawyer starts summer school next week for four hours a day (just two weeks of it), and I can't wait to have some brunch dates and time to *gasp* myself. We have some fun things planned for some of the afternoons, so it's basically perfect. 

Not to sound annoying and bougie, but I've had my eye on a recliner from Pottery Barn for reading in for a few weeks but cannot take the plunge. In my defense, it's really hard to find modern, cozy chairs, but the price is so steep. I keep thinking that I could put the money towards my car, my 2022 summer trip, or some other responsible endeavor. But then I sit for an hour in my sparsely-padded not-so-ergonomically designed current reading chair and I start fantasizing about the PB one again... 

The school district where I live, where my son goes to school, is starting to develop their ethnic studies courses and implement elements of CRT (critical race theory). If I read ONE MORE COMMENT implying that it's "racist" to make white people examine their privilege I'm going to scream. It's incredible how people take one nugget and run away with it, making gross generalizations and acting ridiculous. I've been saying for years that the best way to develop a better society as a whole, one with empathy and intellect is to start with kids. And I'm not just talking about race- we need to teach kids to think more critically about a lot of issues, look at things from different perspectives, and be responsible citizens. I have a feeling it's going to get ugly. I need to take a deep dive into what a CRT (both critical race theory AND cultural responsive teaching) curriculum looks like, but I do know I want my son to receive direct instruction on the mistakes our country has made and on how to be an ally. 

Summer Plans

This summer is a strange, limbo sort of year. A million times better than last year, but also not typical. I would love to take a big trip, but I am not for two main reasons, the first being is my travel partner is seven and is unvaccinated for a few more months (hopefully he can get his shot in the fall, and then I fully intend to fly somewhere close by for a long weekend... maybe Tahoe? Portland? Who knows!). The second is that if I'm going to spend thousands of dollars on the trips on my list I want to fully experience everything there is to offer, no COVID limitations, closures, etc... I feel fortunate to have taken some great trips in the past and some renewed patience, so I can get over this one last hurtle!

So, for summer 2021 I want to make the best out of staying local! I want time at home without the dark, uncertain cloud of the pandemic looming, I want to see friends, I want to have people over (we've already started having friends over to swim again and it's so nice!), I want to go places we've missed over the past sixteen months, and I want to spend time just relishing being in what feels like the best place I've been in a few years (knock on wood and whatnot). 

I wouldn't be me if I didn't have some sort of plan to publicly declare, though, so here's some of the things I hope to accomplish:

1. Continue to work on the dog-training (she gets better and better each day, she just has TONS of energy and still wants to eat all the things)
2. Do some sort of small-improvement project (other than the new dishwasher being installed in a few days... maybe replacing all the door knobs or something like that)
3. Reorganize clothing closets 

1. Keep up our screen-time ticket system (this was one of my stipulations when we bought him a Switch for his birthday... no endless playing, no playing every day, and additional weekend time has to be earned with extra chores)
2. Work on bike riding, shoe tying, swimming, and time telling
3. Strengthen math skills
4. Play dates aplenty 
5. Look into starting art classes

1. Abs and arms. Abs and arms. Abs and arms. 
2. Bring back yoga big time- 4 days a week
3. Try to get my hip problem under control without needing an MRI, PT, etc...
4. Sleep more

1. Read 18 books 
2. Create a few new hoops for my Etsy shop
3. Go to the places we missed, and then some 
4. Lots of in-person friend time
5. Join Master Class and do at least three courses 
6. Be more active here, on my Instagram accounts for Etsy and books
7. Learn some basic frosting piping skills (I really don't know why)
8. Get caught up on a few shows- I started The Flight Attendant in January and still haven't finished 

1. Decrease in iPhone time
2. Start and get caught up on 2021 year-in-review book 
3. Try to plan a weekend away with a friend (if it works, AWESOME, if it doesn't, okay, but we must TRY)
4. NOT do anything for work, other than a virtual training I have in a few weeks, until August (call me selfish or lazy if you'd like, but after a long, tough year that required constant above-and-beyond I'm reclaiming my time)

More than anything, I just want to feel like I did something every day- maybe it's big like go to Disneyland with my family like we just did, or productive like calendaring a plan to pay off my car way early, or leisurely like finish a book by the pool. Different strokes for different folks, but I can't handle wasting days. 

Summer Stack

Not pictured: Lisa Taddeo's new one, out next week

For the record, yes I was nervous about putting a stack of books by so much water, but, you know, summer picture opportunity and all that. 

Every year to reward myself for making it to the end of the school year alive, I buy myself a box of books, after months of limiting my purchases (not completely, since I'm not a total glutton for punishment). I don't necessarily commit to reading every single one during my eight weeks off, but I generally though most. 

A few things to note:
- six of them are nonfiction, which is quite a bit!
- ten are by women
- the one I'm most unintimidated by is Rachel Cusk's Outline, since word on the street is that it's tough (but rewarding)
- The shortest is Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabout, a novella clocking in at just over 150 pages, and the longest is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, at almost 500

In a very small nutshell, why I chose each:

Outline by Rachel Cusk- love stories about writers, also up for the challenge

The Hour of the Land by Terry Tempest Williams- I love well-written books about nature, especially after reading Portage last summer. I am not planning on any big trips this year (next year, though! No clue where!), so this will give me some inspiration!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott- A friend recommended this to me, plus it seems like a creative push

North by Scott Jurek- I am not always a huge fan of Jurek's voice, but he is an absolute beast when it comes to running, so I can't wait to hear about his time on the Appalachian Trail

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri- She wrote this in Italian, which she learned really as an adult, and then translated it back into English

Of Women and Salt  by Gabriela Garcia- Latin American family saga

The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken- short stories with rave reviews

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donvan- food memoir!

We Came, We Saw, We Left  by Charles Wheelan- a family takes to the road during the pandemic (what we all wished we had done) 

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee- McGhee looks at how racism is actually a poor financial choice for the nation 

The Guncle by Steven Rowley- I loved Lily and the Octopus and heard this was fun

Project Hail Mary  by Andy Weir- his first was great, his second mediocre... what will the third attempt yield?

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue- I have been meaning to read another book by the Room author and this one had good reviews

Animal by Lisa Taddeo (not pictured)- Nearly everyone read Three Women when it came out a few years ago, her nonfiction account of three women and their sexuality, and we're all standing by to see what her novel will be like 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

From Disneyland 

Summer break has arrived! I have been very absent around here lately, since life has been pretty hectic. In the last few weeks alone I have gone wedding dress shopping with my sister, to see my grandpa, to the San Diego Zoo, to Disneyland, to our graduation, and to the Central Valley to meet my mom to drop off my sister (we met half way). I also had to deal with a very visit that lasted a few hours with Ellie (she is fine now), buy a dishwasher, and get my classroom ready for the summer school teacher who is taking over for the next few weeks. PHEW. But so many good things, all thanks to the vaccine. 

The rest of the month will be pretty busy, too, and we'll see what July will hold!

I ordered my normal summer box of books, which I'll post tomorrow (really, I will, the school year is about broken blogging promises, not the summer). My TBR is absolutely insane right now, but I give no effs. That's what new bookshelves are for. 

I was soooooooooooooo excited for the Friends reunion but I have to admit I've only watched the first thirty minutes! I think it's a lot fun so far, I just can't get enough time to sit down in one chunk to watch it. 

I had subscribed to the Melissa Wood Health app, but recently canceled my subscription, since I thought she handled the pandemic really poorly (and also, her personality doesn't quite... "mesh" with mine). Instead I am going to sign up for Master Class instead! The first session will probably be dog training, haha. 

I have had an unresolved hip issue for years (long boring story), but it's gotten quite uncomfortable lately. Since resting isn't really my thing, I decided to basically throw all the tools in my tool box at it- icing, yoga with a hip flexor emphasis, nightly foam rolling, and adjusting how I walk/run Ellie. It's been getting better, but now I regret not trying one thing at a time, since all of these things take quite the commitment.

My brother has finally publicly announced that his wife is pregnant! Yay! I am sending the baby a book every month until it's born, so that it can start it's little TBR pile in utero. He/she is born in December, so I am hoping to fly out to Kansas where he lives  over my February break (weather permitting). I am so excited to have a little niece or nephew that I can snuggle and send things to! Sawyer is super excited, so I will hopefully bring me too- he can't wait either. 

Some not so fantastic family news is also on the horizon, too. My grandma has suffered from Alzheimer's for many years now and is in a residential care facility down the street from my grandpa. Her condition has started to rapidly deteriorate and she is losing the ability to swallow. Her advanced directive is pretty explicit, so we are predicting that her time left is starting to dwindle. I lived with my grandparents for three years during college, so I was obviously very close to her. She wasn't the typical grandma who spoiled us, but I would have been terribly uncomfortable if she had been (spoiling is not my love language, haha). She hasn't recognized me in years, but what actually makes me the saddest is just seeing how my grandpa talks about it all.

Dinner last night was Half Baked Harvest x two: Pesto Chicken, Corn and Avocado Salad and Herby Everything Cheddar Swirl Buns. She can do no wrong. 

I also plan on being a lot more active on my bookstagram account, so make sure to follow along at @bookishlyboisterous 

May Reviews

I am sitting here right now, looking out my dining room window at the pool water splashed all over our backyard from our first real summer swim and I'm slightly in disbelief that we've made it. Summer. While I'll wax and wane on future posts, I just have to say that the last month has been completely different than the last year and I couldn't be happier. Life was far busier than recent months, but I still got through four books, which seems meager but also impressive, considering how many papers I graded and hours away from home I spent. 

The clear winner of the month for me was Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad, a memoir about a young woman's fight with a rare form of cancer. The beginning of the book is her her experience struggling with the disease, the middle her adjusting to remission, and the final a road trip she takes to meet the people who wrote to her. Beautifully written, emotional, and honest- go buy it.

I also read another memoir, the graphic one, And Now I Spill the Family Secrets by Margaret Kimball, a story about a woman's family history with mental illness. I felt a strong personal connection to this one, since I too had a parent commit suicide when I was young. It was fascinating to see how her family's story unfolded and how she coped with what was going on around her, starting with such a young age. 

Danielle Evans' collection of short stories (and a novella) The Office of Historical Corrections was everything the hype said it would be- rich, well-developed characters, plot lines with quirk and brutal social honesty, and overall cohesiveness.

The only book that really wasn't a win this month was Outlawed by Anna North. I typically feel that Reese Witherspoon's book club is hit-or-miss (probably more misses for me), but this one sounded fun! And there were spots that were really entertaining, but given the subject matter of female reproduction and sexuality, I thought she could have done a much better job of shedding light on her topic. The characters were flat and the plot rushed. 

I CANNOT wait to blog more, read more, sleep more, and get out of the house more! Hopefully I at least double my reading for next month!