Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Why do car clocks gain time?

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

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

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

About NaNoWriMo...

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

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

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

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

Doing October

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

But now it's October.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward and upward. 

September Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1,364 pages

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's Wednesday! Time to link up, link back, and say hey.

1. Yesterday a student gave me an awesome collection of succulents to add to the ones I already had. I decided to transplant the ones I had to some legitimate pots that I actually went to Home Depot for the other day and am pretty proud of my efforts. Day two in their new homes: everyone is still alive. 

2. When I was at Home Depot I wandered around the store for a really long time looking for a lawn gnome. I didn't want to ask someone, which I normally have no problem doing. I just know lawn gnomes are a little... weird and I'd much prefer to maintain the illusion that I'm just some young(ish), average-looking, clueless homeowner who needs something very practical and normal, like light bulbs or picture hanging thingies. So, I'll just have to order one (or fifteen) on Amazon.

3. After the Home Depot I went to the expletive-expletive-expletive podiatrist for my horrible and mysterious toe pain. I guess I have some structural issues, which is a nice way of saying I have a "mallet toe" (anyone who is reading that has never before is probably pretty weirded out by the lawn gnomes and deformed feet at this point). But, the symptoms I'm experiencing are more in line with nerve damage. So, he taped up my foot and told me to leave the tape on for three days without getting it wet (I had scheduled a pedicure for after the appointment, so this was very irritating news) and, the real kicker, I am supposed to stop whatever I am doing as soon as the pain starts and mark on my toe where exactly it bothers me with a Sharpie. Sure. Completely reasonable. And then the tape fell off later that day and I could have gotten my mother-effing pedicure. 

4. Also, while we're on the topic of things pissing me off, the annoying weird water main noise that disappears for months and then comes back has resurfaced. Two of my good friends have had issues with water damage lately and I'm terrified that I'm going to come home from work and my house is going to be flooded. I don't even know how to turn off the water. Or the electricity. Or the gas. I don't know how to do anything. I am useless.

5. Onto happier things. Sawyer's Halloween costume (Max from Where the WIld Things Are) came the other day and he looks ridiculously adorable in it. Like so cute I want to dress him in it every day and just have him live in it, until he grows out of it and I order the next size up for him to continue to wear 24/7. Until kindergarten, at least. 

6. It's basically fall:

7. I've established the fact that I'm basically pretty cheap but occasionally I'll get these ridiculous ideas of things to binge spend on. This time it's matching Star Wars pajamas from Hanna Andersson for Sawyer and I (my husband declined a pair). I haven't ordered them yet, since the price is beyond absurd, but I haven't forgotten about them:

8. I'm currently finishing Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? and while it's funny and entertaining I think I much prefer listening to her books.

9. There's a college fair tonight that all my students are going to tonight and I seriously considered going when I found out there was cake. This desperation stems from the fact that I decided when I went grocery shopping over the weekend to not buy anything sugary to snack on and now want to cry. It has curbed my snacking considerably, so I better lose five pounds by Friday.

10. I went to yoga last week and the teacher is crazier than normal (maybe it was the moon... she kept talking about that). She tried to make the front row turn around to face the back row, where I was, and mimic their dance moves. Come again? I am here for the work out. I want to do reverse the warrior and do pigeon prep. The woman across from me looked at me expectantly and I shook my head. Nope. She started doing this arm-swaying routine that reminded me of this high guy in tie-dye that I saw a concert once. I crossed my arms and glared. I was prepared to tell the instructor, who is also the owner of the studio, that I'd blast her on Yelp if she tried to make me do anything but I think she knew better. It's all in the eyes.

Have a great week!