Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

It's almost Thursday! Which means it's almost Friday! Which means it's practically the weekend? Yes? No? Damn. Link up, link back, say hi, be understanding of my horrible commenting these days.

1. It's not that I'm okay with having a cold, because I'm not, but for the first time in two years I can actually load up on cold medicine. Also, when a child is sick feel bad for the parents. Mom and dad are already feeling super sad for their little kid, but meanwhile they're the ones that turn into a human effing Kleenex and has to subject themselves to the whim of an unhappy little person that is already a tiny bit volatile in their unsick state. So, if you can't read between the lines, I had to deal with a sick kid and am now sick myself so feel bad for meeeeeeeeeee. But not really, because I can now take my favorite cold medicine that has my most favorite side effect EVER: "may cause excitability." Achoo. 
2. I signed up for Artifact Uprising two weeks ago and was given 25 free prints (only the price of shipping, which was about six or seven bucks). I loved the quality of printing on heavy card-stock and will definitely use them to print Instagram pictures in the future:

3. I'm also a fan of my new necklace:

[Christine loves Scott? Sawyer? Soda? Saturdays? Starbucks?]

4. I just honestly filled out my first-ever workplace satisfaction survey, which is sad, considering I've worked in the district for ten years. I was honest... I hope they really are anonymous. And read. And considered. 

5. I'm considering a monthly, or yearly if I like it, membership to Gaiam TV so I have access to a ton of yoga videos. I've started doing PiYo at night occasionally and I really started missing yoga. Part of it is the studio itself, but it's also the practice. You can do the first month for a buck, so I can't really argue with that!

6. Sawyer is walking... sort of. He can take a few feet worth of unassisted steps (yay!) but has absolutely no desire to take the initiative. I'm trying to give him any opportunity I can to get him on his feet... even if that means he takes off with the stroller.

7. I've been telling my husband about what I thought was a unique conspiracy theory about the Clintons paying Donald Trump to run to put yet another wrench in the Republican Party. Apparently that's a thing already! Part of me hopes it's true just so I can see the looks on his supporter's faces to see they've been duped BY THE CLINTONS!

8. I ordered twenty binders at work to supposedly organize every single IB novel and AP lang unit I teach. This is a very, very ambitious undertaking that would make life so much easier, that I'm optimistically hoping will be done by the end of the year. Part of me is always nervous about what I'll be assigned to teach the following year, so I'm concerned I'll do all this work for nothing. 

9. Despite its gains today, the stock market has been having a rough time lately. This is bad news for many, but good news for people like me who are considering investing. I have a little bit of money that I'm trying to work up the courage to play with, but I'm having trouble cutting the cord. This is why I don't gamble when I go to Vegas! I'm so worried that I'll lose money that I just don't put in any to begin with. Realistically, though, I know that right now is the time. I don't know what to do and I don't want to pay for financial advising. I thought about downloading an app and "practicing," but then I'll still miss this window of opportunity. Investing and overthinking are a hard combination. 

10. And because it's National Dog Day, here's one of two:

Things to Look Forward To

Once upon a time I knew what books were coming out when, and what the author's tour schedule looked like before they did (not really, but I was a bit of a go-getter when it came to stalking the websites of places that host the big guns here in Southern California). Then I had a kid and my concern has been more about when I can go to bed, rather than go to a reading. 

I know. I know

Anyway, I finally started digging around and found a few favorite authors that have some books coming out this fall and thought I'd share, just in case you live in under rock like I apparently am.

John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries (11/3)

David Mitchell, Slade House (10/27)

Salman Rushdie, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (9/8)

Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last (9/29)

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (9/15)

Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking (10/13)

Marilyn Robinson, The Givenness of Things (10/27)

Isabel Allende, The Japanese Lover (11/3)

Now, the real question is if I can wait until my birthday/Christmas for most of these.... 

Sponsored Post- In the Language of Miracles

This book was provided free-of-charge from Penguin. 

I don't accept many books for review anymore, since my time is limited and my shelves are over-flowing. But Rajia Hassib's novel about an American-Egyptian family that must cope with a tragic event sparked my interest. Plus I can be a sucker for a first time novelist.

Just to give a brief synopsis, Samir and Nagla's family is devastated after their older son, Hosaam, shoots his ex-girlfriend and long-time neighbor, Natalie, and then himself. Given their Egyptian background, the community is quick to start a loud, angry, violent backlash towards the family. They find themselves in the midst of the chaos once again a year later when a memorial is planned for the young girl. The family must accept their own dysfunction as they react to Samir's decision to speak out at the service, despite everyone's advice not to. 

There's a lot that I appreciated about this novel. Racial intolerance is at the forefront of our society constantly, whether people are lashing out at African Americans, Mexicans, or those from the Middle East. Drawing attention to the issue in an appropriate, compassionate manner, is always a good thing. I also liked the touches of science, both in Samir's career as a doctor and his son Khaled's passion for butterflies and hiking. The narrative structure, in terms of a countdown towards the memorial, with flashbacks to pivotal moments for the family, contributed towards's Hassib's perfect pacing and suspense. 

As a whole, though, I did find fault with a lot of the dialogue. It frequently felt forced and unnatural, which therefore made the relationships between the characters a bit flat. I also thought some of the references were a little awkward, like how Khaled regards Facebook (Facebook's main demographic these day isn't really with the high school crowd...) and how he listens to Matchbox 20 and Jay-Z (I personally like both, but the way they were both mentioned was odd). Like with any sort of pop-culture references these sorts of things tend to date themselves, which can work sometimes, but here did not. While I'm being nit-picky, I'll throw in the fact that the beginning of the book, a flashback to a time when Khaled was sick and his grandmother was trying to heal him did not hook me at all. I understand the set up in terms of establishing a conflict between American and Egyptian ways, as well as the family dyanmics, but I found it a bit hard to settle in at first.  

As a whole, I thought this was a decent book for an author's debut and I think her writing shows a lot of potential. I'd be interested in checking out her future projects.  

On Fridays....

[this has nothing to do with anything. but they were delicious]

... everyone at work is nicer. It's a fact. We have pep in our step. 

... I don't bat an eye at wearing jeans, skipping the eye-liner, and piling my hair on top of my head.

... my students do independent work, whether writing or oral commentary commentary practice, all period so I can grade or plan.

... I don't have to feel guilty about taking the back, more scenic way home, since traffic is always worse. The one that sucks up the gas like crazy but allows me to at least see some (brown) rolling hills and a (low) reservoir instead of cars and cars and cars. 

... I have this naive sense of optimism about what will get done over the weekend. There just seems to be so much time awaiting. All-the-time-in-the-world kind of time. 

.... I get to make a monster to-do list that is categorized and ambitious and sometimes color-coded (see above).

... I can accept that whatever stresses the week brought are at least temporarily put on hold. 

... I can begin my two-day dinner-making hiatus. Friday means burritos. Or pizza. Or french fries.

... I can sit around after work and watch Sawyer destroy the kitchen instead of rushing around to fold laundry or "do-whatever-just-has-to-be-done-right-now-because-oh-my-god-tomorrow-I-have-to-get-up-at-five-in-the-morning-and-go-to-work." 

... I at least pretend that I'm going to catch up on my sleep. Miracles do happen. Teething toddlers do sleep ten hours straight. 

Happy Friday, friends. The weekend takes on a whole new meaning when summer break is over. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Hey. What's up? Link up, link back, say hello.

1. I just met with a solar panel company rep for the last hour and holy heck, SIGN ME UP! Fine, it's not quite the "you can run your air at 65 degree all day, every day" party that I thought it was going to be, but still, long term it's good. And after everything is said and done it's not going to cost us anything upfront... I'd rather be paying a smaller, more local solar panel company than the ginormous asshats at Southern California Edison.

2. Sometimes I wonder what the daycare lady and physical therapists think of my mothering capabilities...

3. An old student/friend bought me a twelve-pack Diet Coke last week, and a current kid brought me a terrarium filled with succulents a few days ago. They either like me or are terrified that I'm about to self-combust and are trying to bring me back to normal.

4. I'm currently reading The Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib, a story about an Egyptian-American family that must deal with their place in the community after their son and neighbor die. It's good, but there's something lacking I can't quite put my finger on yet. I think it's slightly unnatural dialogue? I'm not sure. It's a puzzle.

5. Sawyer, at 4:55 this morning when I was trying to get him back to sleep so I could get ready in peace, he fell asleep and just started saying the only he word he can, "ball," over and over again. If it wasn't so early it would have been cuter, but now, fully caffeinated, it is. 

6. I need to make these asap. Nilla Wafers, peanut butter, and chocolate? Can it get any better?

7. I think, as a society, we have got to start thinking about HOW we address social issues, whether gun control, race, immigration, abortion or whatever. Who is our audience? What will push them away? What will confuse them? What will offend them? People, I think, are rebellious by nature, so if you try to attack them, even with the best intentions, it will cause them to do the opposite of what you want. I mean, not to compare apples and oranges, but the cashiers at Target tried to push the Red Card on my for years, but I resisted (despite it being great), because I found their tactics annoying. And, in case you need more evidence, I have a toddler. And I work with teenagers all day. 

8. So, if you've read by blog religiously over the past few months (because, you know, who hasn't?), you'll know that there's weird noise coming from the water main or water softener in our garage. It's been completely for a few weeks, but then it came back for a few a little while last night (and it's not the nightly softener recharge). It's like The Telltale Heart. It's driving me absolutely insane. I know it's not a leak, because our bill hasn't increased, but still. What is it? WHAT IS IT??????

9. I've started accepting the fact that I will probably never run a half marathon again. My foot is simply not getting any better, and never will, unless semi-drastic measures are taken. And now I have an aggravated toe issue on the opposite foot. I'm basically okay with this realization, but after running twelve, and the hobby being such a huge part of my life for a few years, it's a little unsettling. Luckily there are other ways I enjoy staying in shape. 

10. This article on reading to kids is a nice blend of reinforcement and science.