November, Revisited, Plus December

The last few months I've set some goals and have recapped how I've done on them at the end of the month. I was having a bit of a hard time at the beginning of the school year for various reasons, and it helped give me some direction. Plus, I love a good list and respond well to public accountability. And, like I've said before, this is more for me than anyone, but oh well. 

What I had planned for November:

1. Read five books- Nope! I only read three, and I'm quite upset about this. Grading, life, and exhaustion have been cramping my style in a bad way. 

2. Eat an new restaurant- Yup! A friend and our kids went to a place called Afters in Chino Hills and I ate this lovely concoction that consisted of peanut butter s'mores ice cream shoved inside a hot donut.

3. Less Diet Coke, more water- Sorta! I have been drinking more water, lots of tea, fair amounts of coffee, but still quite a bit of Diet Coke. 

4. Make a new recipe a week- Yes! I made a chocolate cake in my Deep Covered Baker, a crock pot chicken and stuffing casserole, a few new things for Thanksgiving, and enchilada chicken soup last night. 

5. Start (lightly) training- Yes! I've been piling on the miles this month because of Fitbit competitions, both walking and running. Two weeks this month I averaged over ten miles a day- hey there, cardiovascular endurance! I've also started truly running- last Friday I did four miles straight, at a respectable speed, so I'm feeling motivated. I did 2.5 yesterday afternoon, as well, between grading and dinner. Unfortunately, I'm paying for it in extreme foot pain (they don't typically bother me too much while running, but later... wow).

6. Really try to finish NaNoWriMo- No! I'm really, really bitter about this. I wrote two short stories at the beginning of the month and nothing since. I'm not giving up, though.

7. Blog 17 times- Nope! Almost... Honestly, I'm surprised that I've posted as much as I have. 

8. Make a non-lame Christmas craft to make- Yes! Maybe it was a little lame, but I made this for Sawyer:

9. Reevaluate my fall/winter wardrobe- Sorta! I have definitely started buying things for colder weather... I still need to clean things out a bit, though.

10. Go out without Sawyer- Yes! My husband and I left Sawyer with a sitter and went to lunch for our anniversary. 

For December....

1. Not gain any weight- I bake a lot this month. A lot.

2. Go to yoga three times- This is pathetic, but it was more than last month. Once upon a time I went three times a week. 

3. Work on my 2015 book- I created a yearly book for 2013 (last year was Sawyer's baby book) and want to start doing it again. 

4. Read a graphic novel- I have read zero this year and it's an area I'd like to be better versed in.  

5. Pay more attention to the dogs- I used to walk my dogs for an hour a day... not so much now. While I can't commit to that, I'd like to walk them more, get Cordie groomed, and start brushing their teeth twice a week.

6. Salute the sun- I'd like to do some sort of sun salutation challenge, at home. The repetition is calming and it can be a really great work out. 

7. Make appointments- This one is SO boring (because the others are so terribly fascinating), but I need to get into the optometrist, dentist, podiatrist, and doctor in the new month or two.

8. Cards and thank you notes- I'd like to be good about actual paper correspondence this year, meaning holiday cards soon and thank you notes for gifts before New Year's.

9. Clean out every cabinet and drawer in the kitchen- There are thirty. This should obviously be great fun. 

10. Get out and have fun- I know this one is pretty generic, but I have high hopes for some outings planned with Sawyer, a quick getaway to Ojai with Scott, and seeing family and friends. 

Get Behind at Grading! A Guide.

[this was the start of vacation; it looks much better now]

I figured that there are a lot of teachers, or potential ones, out there, that might need a little help figuring out how to bury themselves in a grading hole. Imagine this: you're ten feet below ground, surrounded by dirt and your students just walk by and start tossing their papers in on you. You furiously grade as fast as you can, but the papers just float faster and faster. Soon, you're entire body is covered in essays, paragraph analysis writing, extra credit assignments, quizzes, explications, and tests. Who could not possibly enjoy this experience? What doesn't sound blissfully wonderful about slowly being smothered by copy paper? Well, lucky for you, my fellow educators, who I'm sure know nothing on the topic, I'm here to help. Let me be your guide.*

1. Assign projects, papers, and tests at the same time- Why space things out? Never! Next week assign your students an essay, a notebook of work, and a test. Fun for hours! Bonus points if you teach different courses and you seem to always assign things that take longer to assess at the same time.

2. Have a child!- Of course you will love and adore your little time suck, but he or she will constantly need or want you. Child is in a good mood? Awesome, let's play! You are so cute and fun! Child is hungry/tired/teething/has a cold? Fabulous, please, whine at me some more. Sure, latch on to my legs as a I walk, it's cool.   

3. Give students in-class essays or tests so you can get things graded- Oh what, they work faster than you can grade? You can't grade five sets of essays while, in a day, your five periods produce five more sets of essays? It sounds so logical... in theory. BUT IT'S NOT AND YOU WILL END UP WORSE OFF. And you will never learn. 

4. Overestimate your abilities- Absolutely, you can totally grade fifteen stacks of papers tonight! Who cares that it's Thursday and it's been a long week. You can do it! Oh, what? It's ten and you're exhausted and you want to go to bed? Oh wait, your work is still in the car? You have to be up at five and will probably be woken up a few times in between? What a loser. 

5. Try to have a social life- Those pesky friends and your desire to, you know, see them, can be such an issue. Friends over for dinner on Saturday? Brunch on Sunday? Are your friend smart? Have they read Running in the Family? Are they good at analyzing rhetorically? Yes? Give them a rubric and party! 

6. Marry someone who wants to hang out with you- Apparently, those men exist. Guys who want to spend time with their wives. Pre-married me thought that was a myth. It's not. My husband loves me and thinks I'm super fascinating and fun and wants to do more than just eat dinner together (maybe I'm exaggerating, a smidge). 

7. Have hobbies- Hobbes are an amazing way to get behind at grading (unless your hobby is grading, hardyharhar). Can you run and grade? Can you read a novel and grade? Can you do twenty sun salutations and grade? Can you write blog posts and grade? Can you bake cookies and grade? Can you spend hours contemplating what to buy online and grade?  The answer? No. No. No. No. Maybe. No. 

8. Sleep- You need to drive, form coherent sentences, and remember to match your shoes to your outfit. Plus, if you're sleepy you can't really grade well, because you'll find yourself either getting a little snotty with the comments (well, more than normal) or reading the same page seventeen times with no clue what the kid was saying. 

*Obviously, this is tongue-in-cheek, and typical of the end of the semester (three more weeks!), And while I know some teachers "forget" to grade things or "misplace" assignments, that's not something I do. Being behind as an English teacher (who is also a wife, mother, friend, and person who has actual interests) is pretty much the norm. It's stressful, absolutely, but it comes with the territory. I can also joke around about it now that I've made a solid dent in my stacks,  not to say I'm caught up. 

Three more weeks! Three more weeks! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! Link up, link back, say hi!

Time to fess up.

1. I am so, so happy with our Thanksgiving plans this year, which I feel like is a confession since I'm not hosting and we're not going to anyone's house. It's just my husband, my kid, and my brother. I can wear sweats. I'll run the vacuum over the downstairs carpet at some point instead of the marathon cleaning session that's usually required. I'll make pies tomorrow, rather than today since I won't be rushing around. I won't have to worry about extra chairs, tablecloths, how to politely tell people they can't have drinks over our couch, or whether or not I'll botch the gravy. I'm sure at some point I'll have a moment of regret, but right now? I'm so good.

2. I don't care if stores are open on Thanksgiving and that people ditch their families to go shopping. So what? I don't want to, so I don't. And I am genuinely sorry that the employees have to work, but as callous as this sounds, when you accept a job in retail in one of the most materialistic, capitalistic nations in the world it's a risk you kind of take.

3. I went to a place the other day with a friend that sells ice cream sealed up in warm donuts. I hate the entire thing without looking back. Actually, that's not true. I do keep looking back, thinking about when I can return for another one.

4. Yesterday I was at Starbucks and the stupid barista filled my drink up too full and some spilled on my white shirt, in the upper chest region. I was faced with a dilemma- either go to Target (in the same parking lot) as planned, with this horrible stain, or go home. I am embarrassed to admit that I went for it. The old me, the one that wouldn't have to load and unload a squirming toddler in a car seat, would have just gone back later, but nope. I was that mom, in the store with a coffee stain on her boob. Never again. Once, when I was fifteen, I got pizza sauce on my shirt at the mall and I was so horrified I begged my mom to go buy me a new short so I could change. Shockingly, she did. 

5. A few weeks ago I made the uncharacteristic decision to impulse buy a Clarisonic. I haven't quite decided if I like it yet, so now I'm worried that I wasted a lot of money. To be determined.

6. I swore up and down up until a few weeks ago that I'd never give Sawyer those stupid puree pouches. But then the babysitter said she had and he was eating things like spinach and kale and I started thinking about how, well, nutritious, they sounded. And easy. So I've been giving him one a day and feeling like a lazy parent. A friend made me feel better, though, pointing out that Sawyer knows how to eat with utensils and is getting a more well-rounded diet now. 

7. Whenever I am off I text my husband so much more often, most of it completely mundane things. Like how I really want Arby's. Or pictures of out child's bed head. Or expletives about my fellow Costco shoppers. And then I wonder why it takes him so long to reply. 

8. I think I have an unhealthy relationship with my Fitbit. I'm in two workweek challenges right now and it's taking over my life. I guess it's not the worst obsession to have, since I'm really active for a vacation week, but last night I finally had to make myself not check it so I could let myself sit down and watch a movie with Scott, instead of hopping on the treadmill. As a result, when I woke up I was 500 steps out of place in one, and only 6,000 steps ahead in first place in the other, as opposed to 10,000 like before. I'm a monster.

9. We watched Trainwreck last night and I can't decide if I like Amy Schumer. Everyone in in total love with her, except me, apparently. I don't dislike her, but I think she carries too much of her stand-up in her regular acting delivery that it bothers me (I hate stand-up; I'm the worst person to invite to an improv). The movie, though, as a whole, was funny.

10. I recently found out someone sort of never let me in on a joke they played on me (aka LIED) quite awhile ago. Definitely outside the appropriate "time to come clean" window. Who does that? Six-year-olds? We'll just file this under "things that make you go hmmmm" for now (as opposed to the elaborate plan for the good-natured, legal, revenge I was considering).

Sponsored Post: Like Family by Paolo Giordano

This books was kindly provided for review from Penguin.

A few years ago a book club I was in selected The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano for out selection. We all enjoyed it so much that we attempted to go to his reading, but someone didn't take my advice that we should leave far earlier than we did seriously, and we ended up at a bar instead of a reading. But anyway, I digress. Giordano's first impression was a good one.

His newest release, Like Family, is a novella based on factual events, detailing the impact a nanny/housekeeper named Mrs. A had on a young family. The narrator is an academic, a physicist, and his wife, Nora, is an interior decorator. The two find themselves on the verge of parenthood, needing someone to help steer their domestic ship while Nora struggles with a difficult pregnancy and then as they adjust to parenthood. 

The family becomes quite dependent on Mrs. A as their young son gets older, especially as they obviously struggle to adapt to having an "average" child. Unfortunately, their elderly caregiver becomes incredibly ill with cancer and they are left to their own devices. The impending loss brings to the surface a myriad of emotions that cause the couple to look inward and towards the future. 

Gioradano's writing is smooth, simple, and beautiful. He is a man of few words, but the ones he does offer us are deliberate and meaningful. Like Family resonates in the days to come and the smallest things, especially if you have a child, a significant other, or an elderly caregiver in your midst, will remind you of the story. 


Certain times of the year make me nostalgic. New Year's Day. The end of the school year. Sawyer's birthday. But mine? Not so much. The older I get, the less I care. 

That being said, the sweet texts, posts, gifts, and visits I received yesterday were touching. Time is such a valuable commodity, so whenever people are willing to share a little on my behalf I'm honored. 

The day itself was simple, but pleasant. I got to sleep in, which by itself would have been gift enough. I enjoyed a long walk with Sawyer around the duck pond, got coffee, and went grocery shopping (I honestly really enjoy doing this every week, which is probably crazy). I had a few visitors stop by and then read while Sawyer napped, as opposed to grade or clean, as I normally do. And then we had burritos for dinner and watched Jane the Virgin

I know. I party hard

I am admittedly excited about the books my husband got me. We don't mess around with guessing what each other wants for birthdays and Christmas. Again, time is limited. So, we set limits and give each other lists. It's super romantic. But it works really well and we generally throw in a surprise here and there. 

And that's it. I'm 32. I need to start using my eye ream more diligently. 

Sponsored Post- The Fox and the Star

I've really slowed down the amount of books I'm willing to take on for review, but when Penguin offered to send me The Fox and the Star, a beautifully illustrated book by Coralie Bickford-Smith, I happily accepted. 

This story tells the tale of a fox that looks for the guidance of a brightly shining star in the sky and must break out of his comfort zone to find it once it disappears.

What I loved most about this book was the complex simplicity, both of the story and the art. It's a story that adults and kids will appreciate; Sawyer even enjoyed looking at the pictures with me (although he did "meow" at the fox). Not to mention the book itself is simply a beautiful hardback. Those that are fans of mythology and folklore will undoubtedly appreciate Bickford-Smith's work as well. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hello, accept my apologies for sucking at commenting back on your awesome blogs (but soon! Vacation is coming!)

1. Who want invite me somewhere awesome so I have a reason to buy this predictably overpriced but oh-so-lovely dress from Anthro? This is why I should have signed up to chaperone prom. 

2. Last week I walked just over 102,000 mother-effing steps in five days (that's an average of about ten damn miles a day) in order to win a Fitbit challenge with a coworker new to the game. It was so bad that at eleven at night on Friday after an exhausting week I was on my treadmill reading magazines and texting kind people that were willing to entertain me while I attempted to stay awake. And did I win? NO! He beat me by about 5,000 steps. I pretend to be outraged (fine, I am a little bit), but it was actually super motivating and sort of fun. 

3. I bought a Deep Covered Baker from Pampered Chef a few months ago and have used it just a few times. I haven't used it enough to justify the expense quite yet, but now that I tried making their infamous lava cake in it I just might in the near future. Let me preface this with saying that I completely believe that the whole Lava Cake dessert fad was incredibly gimmicky, on a culinary level, but whatever. I mean, I think peanut butter on a slice of cheese is delicious, so who am I to judge? Anyway, you make the batter from a boxed (the horror!) cake and pour it in the baker. You then plop in spoonfuls of 2/3 container of canned (the horror!) frosting, cover, and bake in the microwave (the horror!) for ten minutes. Boom, you have lava cake. It's sort of magical. 

4. I just renewed my single subject teaching credential and it cost $102.50 (I have a multiple subjects one too, for elementary, but at least that one is good for a few more years). That seems like a lot for a public service job. One one level I get it- people are required to buy uniforms and things like that for their careers, so this is just something we need to make our work possible. But, on the other hand, I am spending my days educating our state's kids and have completed years and years of schooling to do so (and have the student loans to prove it). And I have to pay? To educate? I don't know. A least it's a tax deduction.

5. Why not spend some more money? I'm about to head over to Visual Editions to pre-order their stunning version of Don Quixote. My husband wants in on this one, at least, so joint account it is... We have all their books except the last one, on maps, which I'm still pretty sad about somehow missing.

6. Can we just all agree, as a human race, to not put up Christmas decorations outside until after Thanksgiving? 

7. So, the mascot at the high school where I teach is Native American-related and there is an effort right now to change it to something that is more culturally sensitive, as has been done in countless other places. While I'm not going to get into the politics and excessively discuss my personal beliefs right now, since there are spies everywhere, I can certainly say that I am so very disappointed in how disrespectful some people are, on both sides of the debate. I desperately wish that this could be a civilized conversation that was used as a teaching tool, but for the most part it is not. I'm also concerned that people are saying things they shouldn't on social media- if this debate ends up going anywhere and the press gets involved, derogatory comments publicly made could impact people's future college acceptances, careers, and reputations. It's sadly messy. 

8. Also, not to get too political yet again, I am so disappointed by the ignorance people have towards refugees. This broke my heart. 

9. I'm still listening to Do No Harm, a memoir about a neurosurgeon in the UK by Henry Marsh and really love it. It took me a little to get used to the narrator's voice, but I think that's pretty much always how I am. 

10. One of the best things about Sawyer right now is that he's starting to become intentionally affectionate. He'll just walk over to me and hug me out of nowhere or blow me kisses while I'm putting him to sleep (that's probably him learning to be manipulative, who am I kidding?). He's finally starting to give Scott kisses, too, which is pretty adorable. 

Getting Me Through...

Four more work days until we get an incredibly much-needed nine days off (well, one work week and two weekends). Besides the mythical notion that I'll be caught up with grading before I walk out of my classroom (cue laughter), here are some of the little things getting me through the week:

1. The new Adele album comes out on Friday! I'm in desperate need of new tunes. I'm musically frustrated right now, and since I love the single (after hating it) I'm excited.

2. People have been telling me to try Stumptown for ages, since I'm an iced coffee fan, and I ignored them, since I have the lowest standards ever when it comes to coffee. This was delicious and got me through my Monday.

3. As soon as I sit down for a few minutes I'm registering for my first race in almost three years. It's nothing big at all, just a 5k Turkey Trot next Thursday at a local park, but I'm really excited to line up and go! 

4. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (food! no gift-giving stress! time off!) and now that our plans are cemented I'm ready to decide what recipes to use and get organized. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[this morning. before seven-thirty. shoot me.]

Link up, link back!

1. Last weekend I was driving up the parkway, which runs up a steep hill into our community. I was going the speed limit and cruising along when a ten-year-old boy darts out in front of me without a helmet. Luckily I saw him and swerved into the opposite lane, which was thankfully empty of oncoming traffic (upon further reflection, I'd rather hit someone in a car than a kid on a scooter, if I had to choose the lesser of two evils). I popped a u-turn and went back to the kid, who had fallen, and his older sister to make sure they were okay. I wanted to scream at him about how he could have just ruined both of our lives, and those of the people we love, by not using the cross-walk about an 1/8 of a mile down the road. I did, not, though. I made sure they were okay and kindly reminded them about cross-walks and helmets. I was very shaken up and wanted to either throw up or cry, but did neither. It's scary how quickly accidents can happen.

2. Have you ever tried explaining the difference between curling iron sizes to a guy? Don't.

3. I just finished Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret on audiobook and did not really enjoy it all (and the ending was a funny coincidence, considering what I talked about in my first point). I was amused by Big Little Lies, but thought this one was pretty weak. I think I'm done with Moriarty. Now I'm listening to Do No Harm by Henry Marsh about a neurosurgeon- so far so good!

4. Confession: I am nearly thirty-two years old and I still cannot use our wine opener. My husband opens the bottle every single time.

5. I'll make you a deal: if you stop talking about Red Cup I'll stop wishing you'd shut the hell up about the Red Cup. 

6. I finally finished The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up and am about to start an ARC of Paolo Giordano's Like Family. I really enjoyed The Solitude of Prime Numbers, so I'm hoping this novella is also a good one. I feel like I've been in a bit of a rut lately, since work has been so busy, which has been discouraging.

7. Apparently I made plans with four different friends for this weekend, all of which involve eating. I'm thinking I should start fasting until then. Probably not. 

8. I really, really appreciate people that will give you reassurance, without a hassle. People that will listen to something that's paranoid or has no real basis for existing in your mind and will take (or at least pretend to) you seriously but then make you feel completely at ease. 

9. They started putting up our solar panels yesterday! Finally! This is also requiring a lot of logistical issues in terms of making sure they have access to our house, which is locked up with an alarm set during the day. They also made a huge-ass mess all over our backyard and garage while working yesterday, which admittedly irked me when I arrived home. They cleaned 90% of it up before they left, but still. In my book I'm the only person that's truly allowed to make a mess at my house, since I do the cleaning.

10. We have today off! Sawyer and I met up with a friend and her little guy to walk and talk this morning and then ran a million errands. Later after he naps, and I grade, we're going to bake a pie. And then have it for dinner. 

Happy Wednesday! 

Weekend Update/My Blogging Game is Weak

I am on the verge of getting it together- I can feel it. Soon, really soon, all my papers will be graded. My NaNoWriMo project will be rolling. More books will be read. I'll feel like I'm not half-assing this blog. I'll be able to once again be able to pop up into a tripod headstand and run 13.1 miles straight. 

The truth of the matter is that this is probably not true, although I won't let the dream die. This is just my current reality- I work full time, I have a toddler, my husband works late, and I have interests that aren't necessarily conducive to my present life. But, we're happy, we're healthy, and we're getting by. It'll all happen eventually. 

So, instead of coming up with great blog posts this weekend and reading entire novels, I got my hair done. I spent time at the playground, the duck pond, and walking around the same fountain seventeen million times. I drank iced coffee outside in the "fall" weather by myself for four minutes before someone woke up from his nap. I cleaned and did laundry. I snuck away for a few hours for lunch with my husband for our anniversary. I read a book that I just can't seem to get through quickly for a student's project that I'm advising. I wrote a test and graded papers. I talked to my mom. I texted friends. I spent too much money at Ulta. I listened to the new  Adele song that I so adamantly despised approximately sixty-seven times. 

But soon. Soon I'm gonna get it together.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[in honor of our up-coming anniversary... I still love our cake]

Link up, link back! 

1. For the love of all that is sacred and holy in this world, please stop talking about your bodily fluids and functions on social media. I don't want to know what comes out of any orifice you possess, thanks. That also goes for your children and pets. 

2. I've decided that one of my favorite feelings on the planet is relief- the feeling you get when you finally get to pee, when you realize your keys were just in the wrong pocket in your bag, when you can finally get that sneeze out, when it turns out you're not pregnant, when a work evaluation goes well. Relief is where it's at.

3. I was at Barnes and Noble recently and they replaced a huge area of the kid's area with that stupid Elf on the Shelf. Nope. Never. It's bad enough that the government is in our business, we don't need to worry about a creepy little elf snooping around.

4. Sometimes, you have to stop and remind yourself that things aren't always about you, and I don't mean that in unkind way. We need to respect people's privacy, their decisions, and their feelings. I've been on both ends of the spectrum lately, and I think it's so important to just stop sometimes and remind ourselves of this. It's hard.

5. I was in Target, alone, on Sunday morning, after Halloween, and there were so many little kids SCREAMING THEIR HEADS OFF. You'd think as a mom I might be immune to this, but I'm not. I get that as a parent sometimes you have to take your grumpy-ass kid into the store to get toilet paper or some toothpaste, but my goodness. So much noise. I'm sure it was just residual effects from the night before, but all I know is that I'm so glad I didn't have a hangover. So loud.... So many of them... So early... 

6. Yesterday I was in a meeting and someone chipped their tooth on a piece of candy and I almost threw up. I am still traumatized (I loathe teeth so much so that I've expressed my disbelief that anyone would choose dentistry as a profession to my actual dentist). If that had been me I would have curled up in the fetal position under the table and cried while the poor presenter kept talking about SBAC data. Actually, no. I would have had to leave. 

7. This article was good. Not in the sense that it's well-written, but in the sense that it's correct. I respect people who can find silver linings, but sometimes things just suck. I mean come on; let's say someone's kid dies. You're going to tell them that it "happened for a reason"? No. 

8. Sunday is our our seventh wedding anniversary. I don't think we really have plans, but I will make sure to remember our beautiful cake (and venue!), contemplate taking my dress out of it's professionally stored box to see if it still fits (hahahahaha), and be angry that there wasn't Pinterest when I was wedding planning. I'd post more pictures, but that would require me finding the CD from the photographer and searching for ones that my husband isn't in, since he hates his face on the internet. 

9. I'm doing the yearly "do we get flu shots?" debate. I have to admit that laziness factors into it all, although if my kid gets the flu and ends up in the hospital I'll feel like the hugest asshole on the planet. If I get the flu and end up in the hospital I'll feel happy that I get sleep and that someone will make me food. Just kidding. I'm going to get on it.

10. It's finally fall in Southern California, which means it's down to the fifties at night and our highs are in the seventies. Bust out the scarves. I currently have on sweats and a hoodie. It's just so cold. 

I've been trying to renew the linky thingy and it's being a pain in the ass. It should be back up next week, or sooner. 

NaNoWriMo Set Up

NaNoWriMo has begun! I (stupidly?) have decided to join this year, despite complaining approximately seventy-eight times a day that "I'm so tired and I have no time to do anything." Whelp, it's time to shut the hell up and put on my big girl panties, since I'm going to somehow manage to write 50,000 words in November. Challenge accepted. 

I guess. I mean, maybe I'll finish? It could happen.

That's the spirit.

As discussed previously, one of my biggest issues, besides time, with NaNoWriMo is that I feel like a lot of subpar writing comes out of it, since people just rush to meet the word count. I have two ideas for large projects that I'm sincerely excited about and I don't want to screw them up like the last time I did NaNoWriMo (I ran with an idea that I thought was decent and just totally massacred it while trying to finish up; the result was a mess that I just want to forget about). 

Enter: The Storymatic. 

I decided that instead of a large novel, I'd write a short story a day. And because I lack the creativity to come up with thirty short story ideas, I started digging around online and found this little box of fun.

The Storymatic is a box of hundreds of cards (the box says that there are "six trillion stories in one little box") that can be used for writing or even as a game. There are many variation on how to utilize the contents, but I'm going for their more traditional, straightforward approach. Every day I will pull two gold cards, which list attributes of your main character, and then two copper cards, which are lead ins for your actual plot. These are the cards I drew yesterday, for day 1:

I sat down late last night and plugged away, making things up as I went, which is typically not how I write at all. It was fun, though, and challenging. Last night I didn't hate what I wrote (and there was no wine involved, so there's a chance that I may have been somewhat accurate), so we'll see when, and if, I go back to edit some day. I was two hundred or so words short of the necessary 1,666 (or whatever it is), so if I keep going I'll have to make it up eventually. 

Tonight I plan to do the same thing, although in the two hours or so that I have to spare between Sawyer's bedtime and mine, I need to get in a quick run, grade some papers, say at least two coherent sentences to my husband, relax for a second, and shower. I have I mentioned this whole NaNoWriMo thing might be a bust? 

Halloween 2015

A few snapshots from our fun yesterday: 

[the one time a year I use power tools]

[this was actually from our little session from last week]

[let's take inventory on the sidewalk in middle of the foot traffic]

[thank goodness I bought candy I hate, since we have TON left]

October Reviews

To say that I'm disappointed with the lack of reading that happened this month would be an understatement, but it happens. Nonetheless, here's what I was able to get to:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
336 pages
I discussed this extensively already in this post.

Verdict:I really enjoyed Gay's compilation of essays, as I felt they were honest and offered a perspective on feminism similar to mine. I also appreciated her discussion on race in America, as well.

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
208 pages
This memoir was a reread for work. This memoir chronicles Ondaatje's journey back to Sri Lanka to put the pieces of his family's past back together. The narrative structure is unconventional and there are a photographs and poems tossed into the mix. The setting is different, as not many books in English are set in this part of the world, yet many of the themes related to family, identity, and voice are familiar.

Verdict: I really enjoy this book; I enjoy the idea that we can't really trust our recollections of the past but that we should embrace the uncertainty. It's definitely not for everyone, though... just ask my students.

Light Boxes by Shane Jones
149 pages
This short experimental novella is about a town that is stuck in February- gloomy, cold and depressing. February is a character, with whom they wage a war on, especially after he starts taking their children. Jones experiments with font and other formatting techniques, and also narrative voice and content. There is a definite level of whimsy, but one should not overlook the depth of darkness of the story, either.

Verdict: I just finished this book today and am still sort of letting it percolate. I know it's allegorical and I'm in the midst of deciding what exactly Jones is trying to tell us. Is February meant to represent mental illness? The government? Some sort of sociological ideal that imprisons us all? Being experimental, it was different from what I normally read, which apparently suited me well right now. 

693 pages