A Delayed Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[when you let your son pick out the tree topper and don't look at the box]

I'm finally on break for three weeks (all kinds of yay), so I thought I'd pop in with the post I had planned for last week but didn't have time to finish. 

1. As I said, I am now on winter break, which is three weeks (usually two, but they took a week from us at summer and added it here). We ended the week with several games of Scrabble in each class, pajama day, and being happy about finishing our initial analysis of Sylvia Plath. I also am in good shape with my grading, with just a set and a half of essays to grade (yes, 200 ungraded essays is nothing for this English teacher), so I feel good about going into finals when we return and doing semester grades. 

2. I couldn't be happier last week when I noticed that Sawyer had decided to entertain himself with getting scraps of wrapping paper and tape, making "sand castles" on the floor. It was creative and cute and he even cleaned up when he was done without being asked.

3. I am a total Christmas person this year- gimme all the Christmas activities, music, crafts and baked goods. Having a three-year-old who is obsessed with the holiday has transformed me. So far we've done Breakfast with Santa, the Mission Inn Festival of Lights, normal Santa pictures, a showing of Polar Express at my school, gingerbread house making, and tomorrow we are going to the San Diego Zoo to see their holiday lights. I also make sure we have plenty of time at home, too, though, so we can relax and just soak it all in.

4. Can men just not touch women without permission? Can we have just have some compassion in a tax bill? BUT, Alabama! I was so impressed and pleased.

5. Do I need an Instapot? Why or why not?

6. I think I can officially call myself a Ludite-Lite. I love technology to a point, but I don't want to keep adding more and more, especially at work. I think it's important to expose students to it, of course, but I think sometimes the want to add so many gadgets, interfaces, portals, etc... is just too much. 

7. I am currently listening to Charlie Engle's memoir Running Man and love it so very much. He was a former cocaine addict who took on extreme running (including the Sahara) and then had some other issues to resolve in life that landed him in jail. It's honest (I think), raw, and incredibly interesting.

8. I am reading The Accusation by Bandi and like it a lot more than I thought I would (this is the short story collection written in secret by a North Korean). I just finished Like Water for Chocolate and adored the magical realism. I have high hopes for reading the rest of this month, since I have so much time off. 

9. Because of the previously mentioned Scrabble thing, I've reactivated my Words With Friends account- play me at Christeenie222

10. I haven't see the new Star Wars movie yet because we don't currently have a sitter and had wanted to see it together. I told my husband to just go over the weekend and I am going to go on Thursday- can you believe I have never been to a movie alone before? I consider myself to be quite independent, but never have I been solo in a theater. This week I'll finally put on my big girl pants and do it. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Happy Wednesday! I have about 1,000,000 million things on my plate right now, so I'm going to write today's post off as a wash and go deal with the 999,999 other things going on (nothing bad). Luckily, winter break starts in less than forty-eight hours and it will be posts galore! Have a wonderful week! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hey.

1. The other day I was thinking about how a large group of my friends and I got together regularly for massive board game/food nights at different people's houses towards the end of senior year and the summer after. It was really, really fun, as lame as it may sound, and I wish I could do that now with my friends. Maybe when everyone's kids are older!

2. Saturday Sawyer's preschool is having a Parent's Night Out- for $10 they'll watch the kids from 6:30-10:00 so parents can have some time. My husband is at a conference, so my friend and I are going to get dinner and drinks at a family-UNfriendly place and catch up. I can't wait!

3. Besides that, my plan is to Christmas the shit out of this weekend. Tomorrow Sawyer and I are going to see Polar Express at my school that the choir is hosting, Friday (if it's not too windy), we're going downtown to see the Festival of Lights, Saturday morning we're having breakfast with Santa at a local restaurant, and hopefully Sunday I'll do some baking.

4. My students and are wading through Sylvia Plath's poetry (I know, so festive), and it's actually going really well. I've split their work on each poem in thirds, between independent/group/whole class analysis and they're doing well. And because they're so receptive to the work, I'm enjoying it a lot more. Win-win.

5. Between nonsense going on with the government (looking at you, tax bill) and our school board, I have to be really careful about what I consume right now. It's so easy to get wrapped up and emotionally carried away. 

6. Earlier today I got the urge to just book a train ride up the coast, snag a window seat, and read and roll for a day. I have no idea where it came from, but it just sounds so peaceful.

7. I hadn't planned on going to Modesto to visit my family over the holidays, but *newsflash* apparently my mom and her longtime boyfriend are getting hitched at City Hall and I feel like an asshole for not attending. So it looks like Sawyer and I are going on a little bit of a road trip. I'm hoping that if the weather is good enough and I can coerce at least one other family member into it, I might head to San Francisco for a day. 

8. I finished listening to Jodi Piccoult's Small Great Things and what a piece of crap. Sorry (but not really). It's so over-the-top and the ending is just so far-fetched and ridiculous. She didn't racial issues justice at all. I am now listening to Running Man, Carlie Engle's memoir, and so far I'm enjoying. 

Zadie Smith in Conversation with Michael Chabon


The other day I was looking up a reading for the spring at UCLA and saw that two days later Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon would be together for an evening. My first reaction was disappointment, since I had nothing to do with Sawyer (it started at 8, which means that I'd have to leave by 5:30 to fight seventy miles in the horrible LA traffic- my husband usually comes home around 7:15). I then mentioned it to Scott and, knowing how important seeing these two would be to me, suggested I drop Sawyer off at his office with the iPad for the last part of his work day. DONE. Traffic ended up being worse than normal, since a few big rigs decided to overturn, so I had to leave at 5:10 and ended up getting to UCLA at 7:40. Sigh. It's the price we pay to live down here, I guess.

The event was at Royce Hall, which is absolutely beautiful and one of the buildings I had class in once upon a time in my youth. The political and social rhetoric of those emceeing the event were just what you'd expect for an arts program at a UC, something the audience obviously appreciated- I definitely had a "I'm home!" kind of moment. Once Smith and Chabon came out they agreed to put off talking about the general horrible-ness that is the US as long as possible, which ended up being a solid thirty minutes or so.

Chabon mentioned that this was the fifth time the two had participated in an event like this one, which is explained their natural chemistry and knowledge of one another (sometimes when it's just local moderator it's a bit awkward if the proper research and pre-interview conversation haven't happened). The two spent awhile talking about what they were reading and the role of the historical novel, since they are both reading older books and she is writing one right now (despite not being very fond of them). The topic of conversation then turned to the internet and how it's such a huge weight on them both, especially in the current climate. Smith talked about how she read something about Trump on a plane the other day and then spent hours just reading comments and articles that validated her opinion. They then contrasted escaping into the internet with escaping into books, which I could have listened to for five hours. 

The two took some questions that had been pre-written by the audience, which asked about the importance of places to them in real life and in their works (something I then started reflecting personally on), cultural appropriation, inspiration (Smith made a comment on how she takes things from her own life, puts then into her novels, and then ends up being incredibly tired of them, like tap dancing), and writing dialogue (the both downplayed it's importance and even said it can be used as a "crutch"). 

I must say, that this was definitely one of the best events I have ever been to, and there are have been many. I thought that Chabon might come off as a bit pretentious, since I've gotten that vibe from him through his writing before. I wasn't sure what Smith would be like, but maybe a little intimidating because she's just so damn brilliant. Instead I fell in love a little more, listening to her talk about going to dinner with her husband and kids and feeling like a circus act since none of them were on their phones and were trying to entertain and corral the whole time (I have a no device policy at dinner for my kid too, so I was like "I get you, Zadie!"). They were fantastic. 

Things to Look Forward to: December

1. Reading a different Christmas story every night with Sawyer 
2. Breakfast with Santa at a local restaurant
3. Traditional pictures with Santa
4. Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn
5. Our nightly Star Wars Advent Calendar
6. Dinner out with a friend while Sawyer is at his preschool's Parent's Night Out (and his other parent is at a video game convention)
7. Decorating the tree and rest of the house 
8. Donating to toy and canned tree drives
9. Making a "snow globe" door for Sawyer's room
10. Knitting lessons and lunch with a friend
11. Seeing New Star Wars movie
12. Making a million peanut butter balls
13. Seeing if we can pull off this year's Christmas card photo shoot 
14. Finishing up my 2017 family photo book
15. Wrapping gifts (I really, really love doing this)
16. Going to Santa's Village in Lake Arrowhead
17. Making a cookie a tree with my ridiculous new Wilton's cutters
18. Watching Home Alone
19. Being thankful our gifts for Sawyer this year don't involve assembly 
20. Seeing my brother when he visits California (and hopefully my mom)
21. Three weeks of winter break
22. Attempting a Scrabble tournament in my classroom
23. Pretending to hate Christmas music but listening it in secret with Sawyer 
24. Watching Home Alone 
25. Putting everything away and getting life back to normal