Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I'm telling you, when I grow up I will sit down every Sunday and bang out three of four posts to schedule, but until then I'm going to stick to being consistently inconsistent, I guess. I've finished a few books lately and need to do some "five things about..." posts, so hopefully I can get that going in the next day or two.  

How is next weekend already Halloween? But, also, how is it still October? This time of the year is such a slog for teachers, since we go from the beginning of August to Thanksgiving without a break. Burnout it real this year in my profession; the kids aren't behaviorally worse, but their levels of ability and their needs are much different. There's also a lot of mixed messages "have high expectations, but also slow down," and "take care of their social-emotional needs but also make sure to collect a lot of data to fill out forms on assessment." It's no one's fault, we all have bosses and boxes to check, but it's just a lot, for all of us. Throw in one's life outside of the job and it can be overwhelming sometimes. 

Yesterday evening I had my Moderna booster and a flu shot in the same arm, which is basically dead weight today. The side effects I have today are far less than the second shot, which I'm super thankful for. Frankly, I'm super thankful to have the option of a booster, period, and I can't wait for Sawyer to get his first one in a few weeks. 

I just started Mexican Gothic for book club and while it's fairly entertaining, I'm not sure how I feel about the quality of her writing. We wanted something sort of spooky for Halloween and this one had gotten buzz when it came out, so it made sense. I think it will be a good one for us to talk about, though, since sometimes when we all love something it's a bit harder to discuss (I always go back to Michelle Obama's Becoming where we just sat there and repeated "I just love her. And him" over and over, haha). 

Thursday Sawyer and I were invited to an Halloween trick-or-treating event in Pasadena and I can't wait, despite it being a bit of a drive. We have been really busy again over the past few months, but I love having new things to do and getting some extra mileage out of his Halloween costume (Indiana Jones!) always seems like the cost effective thing to do. 

Speaking of new things, there's a map of a huge hiking area in Orange County that I've never been to next to me and I can't wait for a free weekend to head out there. I guess there's a small lake that not many people know about and is one of the few natural ones in the region. I love finding new nature spots that are easy to drive to. 

I haven't been to a museum since a few months pre-lockdown, but I feel good about going again. My favorite art museum in LA has timed-released tickets and still requires masks, so I think I am going to take Sawyer next month if we can get tickets when they go up this week. I'm super lucky that he is so willing to go and is fairly engaged when we go to places like this. The only exception was one of the indoor tours at Hearst Castle a few years ago- he trudged along quietly but when it was over he requested to never have to go again! 

LEGO is releasing a Home Alone set next weekend. SOLD. 

My grandpa is turning 90 next month and after a false-alarm on a big family party (thank goodness.... I was against it for many reasons, mostly his health), I volunteered to spearhead a huge memory book project. Honestly, I'm pretty excited, since I love designing them digitally, I just need everyone to step up and send me what I need. I also know that the fact I said that people had until Friday means I need to wait until... Saturday. Ha!

As I sit here alternating between grading essays and adding to this exceptionally long, meandering post, my son is next door playing nicely alone. Most of me thinks this is amazing, but a tiny part of me feels guilty. He's an only child, our weekdays are a constant state of rushing, and studies say we should play more with our kids. But studies also say kids need to be self-sufficient and entertain themselves. It just goes to show that mom guilt is ever-present, even when everyone is happy and doing what they need to do. 

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.