Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, stop and chat.

1. My grading at work is at an actual manageable level. As in I have less than one assignment outstanding to grade. This hasn't happened since the end of last semester. It's an end-of-the-school-year miracle.

2. This essay from the New Yorker is really great- it's Pinterest personified. I wish I wrote it.

[source Fiona Crawford Watson via The New Yorker]

3. And now, because of number two, I think I'm going to subscribe to the magazine... again. I received six months as a gift many years ago and I got behind really quickly. But now you can do twelve weeks for twelve bucks, and you get the digital and physical copies. Done deal. I can become more cultured at one in the morning when I'm rocking the crazy baby back to sleep.

4. Something happened at work yesterday that really bothered me (not related to my students, which I find amusing, because you'd think the majority of a high school teacher's workplace strife would come from the 100+ teenagers they're with all day) and now I'm really, really, really ready for summer. 

5. I'm supposed to go to see Pitch Perfect 2 this weekend and I can't wait, no matter what the reviews say (and I don't even know what they say, since I haven't looked, but how often is a sequel that well-received?). I was so pleasantly surprised with the first one, so I'm looking forward to catching up with the girls, taking a purse out instead of a diaper bag, and being entertained. 

6. I'm sort of in love with washi tape, and I have no idea why. I just covered a notebook in it. Why? I have no idea. But it's so... cute.

[the possibilities are endless; source]

7. I ordered the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marle Kondo, hoping it motivates me to organize the heck out of my house this summer.

8. Scott just gave me permission to watch the rest of Sons of Anarchy without him, since the last episode of the second season pissed him off. Whatever. Anyway, if I didn't have a child I'd be done with the who show in approximately one week. Because I love Jax. And motorcycle gangs. And when Jax hold his baby. 


9. We just started watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, with no knowledge whatsoever about what the premise was, except that everyone says it's funny. The pilot was funny and weird, but, in typical pilot fashion, it was a tiny bit... overdone. Or corny. We'll see what the next few are like.

10. If you've seen Easy A, you'll recall the scene where Olive hates the song "Pocket Full of Sunshine," but after listening to it several times she has a change of heart. This is me and "Uptown Funk." I want to hate it, and I tried to hate it, but I can't. Plus Sawyer always busts out his baby dance moves on, which pretty great. 

Top Ten Tuesday- Free Style

[time to learn to cook! and sew! and take care of the home! source]

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie, so I decided to go on a slightly different path. Traditionally I turn to books to teach me how to do things- cook, take care of a newborn, train for a half marathon, etc... But some things you need some more hands-on instruction for. So today my list is ten things that I'd like to be able to do, with lessons or classes or some sort of tutoring:

1. Sewing: I have a machine and some basic knowledge, but how awesome would it be to be able to sew my own, custom-made clothes? I'm envisioning vintage McCall's patterns that lead to dresses that look like they're from Anthro of Modcloth. 

2. Decorate cakes/cupcakes: I go the actual cake part down, but my decorating skills are pretty abysmal. 

3. Change a tire: I have AAA, but they can be slow. 

4. Archery: I'm concerned with my lack of upper-body strength on this one, but I think my brother and I might take a lesson this summer at a range right up the road. 

5. The piano: I'm pretty sure this would end badly, but I've always been told I have "piano fingers" and think it would be pretty cool to play some Elton John. Because Chopsticks is too basic. 

6. Calligraphy: This is probably pretty amusing to those that know me, because I have pretty shitty writing. Fact: a student thought I wrote "bullshit" on her paper when she got it back today, when it was in fact "bashing." Oops. I think it would be nice to be forced to slow down and be a little more aware of my penmanship. 

7. Makeup: I can do the basics, but I'd love to get better at everything past that. 

8. Basic house maintenance: Toilet fixing, shelf hanging, faucet leak fixing, etc... 

9. Dog grooming: Cordie is a furry beast that is scared of the (expensive groomer). 

10. Pure Barre: We have a knock-off studio nearby that I might try this summer, and if I like it I might get some of the DVDs to add to my at-home routines.

Your turn- what have you always wanted a chance to either learn to do or improve at? 

By the Book (NY Times Book Review Q & A)

Not long ago I picked up the New York Times Book Review's By the Book, a compilation of Q & A columns that some pretty hard hitting figures of our time have answered (David Sedaris, Anne Patchett, Dave Eggers, JK Rowling, John Irving, David Mitchell, etc...). I figured, since it's sort of a slow day at the office blog I 'd choose some of my favorite questions to answer (many of them are the same but they tweak some for relevancy purposes). 

What book is on your night stand right now?
CS Lewis' The Problem With Pain and Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelson. The first has been sitting there for like four years, when, during a dark time I asked my minister-uncle for a title that would help me grapple with the idea of why a God, if one exists, would be so darn cruel. Maybe God works at Amazon? As soon as they delivered the book life got better and I didn't read it. Last year when things were tough I seriously contemplated reading it, but preferred to escape when reading instead of dwelling. Yes, Chef is because 2015 is the year of my Restaurant Memoir Obsession. 

When, and where do you like to read?
On airplanes, in coffee shops, in parks, in doctor's offices, on beaches, on the couch, in bed, by the pool, in a rocking chair, or in the bathtub. Outside is always best, and preferably with an iced coffee or Diet Coke. When? Whenever I can.

What was the last truly great book you read?
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, in terms of fiction, and Sous Chef by Michael Gibney representing the nonfiction category. There was something about the tone and syntax that he used that really stuck with me. 

What was the best book you read as a student?
A toss up between House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky. I read both during junior year in high school and I remember putting in so much effort and time into the assignments that came with them. I felt like I truly understood them and connected with the content. It was probably during that time that in the back of my mind I started thinking I could be an English major if the whole "doctor thing" didn't work out. 

Do you prefer a book that makes you laugh or makes you cry? 
It depends on where I am in my life. Right now? I'd prefer to laugh. I think sometimes it's harder to write smart, effective humor. A tearjerker is easy- cancer, death, divorce, family strife, abused kids. But a true, out-loud laugh? I'm admittedly a tough audience. 

What's the book you wish someone [else] would write?
I super concise, high-interest, witty, maybe slightly humorous, summary of the top twenty world religions. Really break it down. Maybe have some pictures. 

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
I have a few by Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, and John Grisham, all from high school. I wouldn't read any of those now, but I'm not embarrassed of the process I've moved through as a reader. You have to read a lot of everything when you're young so you can develop a taste and learn to have a basis for your later criticism. It's like fast food- how can you appreciate fine dining if you've never eaten at McDonalds?

 What are you reading next?
After I finish Yes, Chef, I'm going to start our next book club book, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I keep bumping it for other things, but we meet in a few weeks so I'm going to have to bite the bullet. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back (and stop and say hi!)

1. Honorary degrees are such a bunch of shit. 

2. Confession: for years I used to use the wire whisk on my Kitchenaid to make cookies, having no idea that there was a much better option. 

3. Yesterday I was at the grocery store after physical therapy with Sawyer and there was a mom being such an asshole to her daughter, who was reminding her that they needed to take something store bought starting with the letter "g" to school the next day. The daughter wasn't whining, yelling, or crying and looked completely crestfallen when her head was publicly bitten off. I know there definitely couldn't have been extenuating circumstances; that could have been the seventeenth time she reminded her mom since they walked into the store or the mom could have gotten fired from her job just hours before. Nonetheless, it was a good reminder to me, as a mom, to make sure to remember that patience is something to strive for... especially in public.

4. I'm reading Toni Morrison's novella Home right now and had a little trouble finding my footwork at first, but I think I'm back in the groove. I will say that I have an inkling that her older work is better.

5. Back to physical therapy. Sawyer has been seeing a PT once or twice a month since he was three months old for a mild case of torticollis (one muscle in his neck was tighter than the other, so he had a slight tilt). After a few months of diligent stretching and exercises he was back to normal, and now at a year it's resolved. The physical therapist won't exit him until he can walk, though, because she wants to make sure his alignment is fine. Well, he's not walking- he's pulling himself up one things, starting to take really awkward steps when we hold his hands, and can crawl up both sets of stairs, though. Yet I feel like they're constantly nitpicking now- do I really need to work on him bending over to transfer weight from one side of his body to the other at home? Isn't that something he will developmentally pick up on his own? He also cried during most of the 45 minutes appointment yesterday because they were pushing him pretty hard. I'm feeling pretty conflicted about continuing.

6. This is the forecast and I couldn't be happier; rain, clouds, sunshine, mild temps

7. My students are working on big IB papers right now and I've been getting to spend some one-on-one time conferencing with them on their writing and it's a really nice change of pace. It's so much easier to articulate how to make improvements face to face.

8. I'm listening to Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg and am really enjoying it (although the narrator's voice is borderline acceptable- her pauses are very awkward). The truth is that I would love to start a restaurant or bakery. One summer I worked at a place that was just opening and got to be there from right before the soften opening until a few months post grand-opening. It was absolutely fascinating and terrifying. Given my tendency to be a task-master and a semi-decent problem solver (I have back-up plans for my back-up plans) I think I could at least make a go of it (with a financial backer, someone experienced to mentor me, and the ability to once again consume alcohol). There's this tiny, crappy, little restaurant space for sale right down the street from where I work that I pass by everyday and I always think about how I could turn it into a tiny little bakery that would possibly make money from all the high school kids that pass by it twice a day... It's not going to happen, but it's fun to dream.

9. I highly recommend What Pete from A to Z by Maira Kalman. It's like what Wes Anderson would write if he was doing an alphabet book for kids.

10. Ever need help with a defective product? Take to the company's Facebook page, apparently. The tray for Sawyer's highchair was loose, so much so that he was once able to push it off on his own (and cry hysterically because it scared him), so I posted a comment. A rep contacted me immediately and I received a replacement less than a week later. Hopefully it works! 

Hard Hitting News

My kid can read.


[the quality of this looks okay on Instagram, Facebook, and my phone, but appears to look horrible on here... thanks, blogger]