2013: A Year in Review, By the Numbers

This is the post where I brag about how this year was so much better than last year. 

Make it so.

62 books read

21,213 pages read

60 pages read a day (average)

2 boats traveled on [cruise + brother's Navy ship]

1 horribly awesome book wreath made

3 concerts attended [Lady Gaga, Matchbox 20, Legends of the Summer]

1 bike bought [and a few hundred miles ridden]
11 trips made into LA [readings, UCLA, friends, etc...]

4 hikes hiked

1 baby conceived 

9 audiobooks listened to

2 plays/performances attended [Pageant of the Masters and Wicked]

1 time trapezing 

60 (+/-) yoga classes attended

22 books purchased

1,000s of ranunculus seen [Carlsbad Flower Fields]

8 readings attended

2,600 hours reading essays [fine, I made that up]

231 blog posts posted 

2 recipes created and posted [pie and rice krispy squares]

22 people cooked for on Thanksgiving 

1 trip to Hogwarts  

Hope your 2013 was great and your 2014 even better! 

I promise I wrote this before I saw Julie's, but apparently great minds think alike! Check our her post as well!

December Reviews

Despite the craziness that was this month (holiday prep, catching up on mountains of grading, more letters of rec, a quick trip to Vegas, etc...) I still managed to read four books. 

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
143 pages
I'm sure most people have read this play about the Salem Witch Trials. I used to it to teach my AP Lang students about logical fallacies, so it wasn't something I reread for fun.

Verdict: I've always felt fairly neutral about this play; I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. I have a hard time connecting to characters and plot lines with plays, and this is not an exception. 

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
352 pages
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about smart, honorable Subhash and his brother, a political activist in Indian, Udayan. Subhash leaves tumultuous India for the United States to study when he is younger, while his brother stays behind. The incredibly well-written story chronicles Subhash's life as he becomes an old man, focusing on the idea of cultural differences, independence, honor, and love.

Verdict: I appreciated her interpretation of some classic themes, as well as the insight into Indian culture. I'm always up for a new Lahiri novel!

Blindness by Jose Saramago
352 pages
We read this for a work book club (that has yet to meet... despite the fact that some of us busted our asses and put our end-of-the-semester grading on the back burner to meet our end of the bargain... not that I'm still bitter or anything) and I really loved it. A blindness epidemic has swept a population and government officials decide to quarantine those that have lost their sight- until everyone has (except one woman, at least that we know of). The novel studies what happens to both society and a group of people that have clung to one another from the start.

Verdict: This book is not for everyone; the characters don't have names, punctuation isn't used in a traditional manner, and it is graphic at times. That being said, I thought it was fascinating and well-written.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
504 pages
Just like The Lowland and Blindness, The Circle also received a spot on my best of the year list. This novel is about a young woman named Mae who begins working at The Circle, which is basically Google on steroids. When you start working at this company you either drink the Koolaid or you leave; Mae opts to drink and we follow her as she rises in the company. There are definite flaws- Eggers isn't exactly a wordsmith and there are a few eye-roll invoking parts that generally take place on kayaks. That being said, I found it so compelling because of the social commentary taking place- when and where will our reliance on technology stop?

Verdict: Despite being a long book it was still a quick read, so don't let the page count deter you. If you are concerned with technological monopolies, our reliance on social media, and issues of privacy I definitely recommend this.

1,351 pages

Resolutions- 2014

Who the hell am I kidding?

This post is also being used for Top Ten Tuesday.

I really love resolutions, despite the fact that they're frequently forgotten, failed, or mocked. It's just a nice chance to start over and to reassess where you're at and where you'd like to go. While I do make personal ones that I'll keep to myself, here are my more bookish ones, divided up into pre-baby and post-baby. I'm not an idiot- I know things will change some reading-wise from May on.

Pre-Baby (January-May)

1. Read 40 books- Lofty, but important to get the bulk in if I want to reach my goal of 62 books this year (one more than 2013). And by "lofty" I mean probably unattainable, unless I start reading YA (ha!).

2. Blog an average of 4.5 times a week- this is hair above what I have been doing, so at this point it's more about maintenance. 

3. Become a better commenter- I need to be more active on other blogs and my own!

4. Read at least 5 nonfiction books- This means one a month, which should be pretty manageable.

5. Finish a rough draft of the project I'm working on- Just like last year....

6. Go to the Festival of Books- This may be pushing it, since it's typically in mid-April (baby is due 5/5 but is measuring quite a bit ahead), but on the plus side, if I do go into labor I could just scoot right on over the 10 freeway and deliver at UCLA... Wishful thinking, I know.

Post-Baby (May-December)

7. Read 23 books- Considering I will be off for 3 months and possibly breastfeeding (who the fuck knows) I think it'll be doable. My goal is to squeeze in 20 minutes of reading a day.

8. Blog 3 times a week- I'm not saying they're all going to be deep and meaningful, but I'm determined to not let the blog slide into nothingness.

9. Go to one reading- Ambitious, I know.

10. Find some awesome, well-written kids books- There are a lot of simple, cute ones out here that I'm sure I'll buy, but I'd like to do some research and get some really great ones that are fun for kids and the adults who are reading them.  

Have any of your own?

Document This- Blackfish: Why I'll Never go to Sea World Again

I usually try to save up a few documentaries to write on at once, but I just watched Blackfish the other night and was seriously affected by the film (streaming on Netflix now!). I know most people have seen it, since it aired on CNN awhile ago, but for those who have not a quick rundown. Basically, it tracks the issues Sea World has had with their orcas since they began their program of capturing them from the wild in the seventies. They interview four ex-trainers that discuss the positives and negatives, ranging from the almost ease of becoming a trainer (you don't need any sort of marine biology or veterinarian background) to the living conditions of the whales to the loving bonds they developed with the animals they worked with. The documentary also follows the OSHA case against Sea World that claimed the lives of trainers are endangered when working with these whales.

Personally, I've had issues with all places that keep wild animals in captivity for some time- circuses, zoos, aquariums, and marine parks. I support reserves or places that focus on rehabilitation or protection, as opposed to parks that are relying on animals to jump around to generate income. These large animals needs more space and need to interact with more of their kind. Biologically, they need to be kept in habitats that compare with their environments- polar bears in San Diego? Come on!

Anyway, Blackfish served to reinforce my feelings of hesitancy and even disgust. First of all, these huge orcas are kept in the small tanks, granted anything is tiny when you compare it to the ocean. Tilikum, the largest and oldest whale in captivity, who has also been associated with more than one death, resides in a lonely pool all day, only let out occasionally for the occasional show finales. Secondly, whales are incredibly smart and they are being reduced to jumping, waving, and diving for fish. Sure, I do this with my dogs too- the  difference? Whales are exceptionally intelligent. And they do this for the profit of Sea World.

But the real issue at hand is the safety of the orca trainers. I knew that there had been deaths and injuries in the industry before, but I really had no idea that the number was dozens and dozens. Interestingly, there are very few reported in the wild, and no deaths. Of course interactions are much rarer, but if you look at shark attack numbers you can see that aggression is the real issue. Orcas are not naturally aggressive towards humans. Recently, and a large focus of the documentary was the death of Dawn Brancheau's, an experienced trainer who was killed by Tilikum. Many of the incidents seem to be a result of whale frustration- they think they should have deserved a treat but didn't get one, are tired of doing the same trick, think they're playing, etc... But who can really know why they do what they do- they're as complex as you and I.  Most memorable for me was the clip of Kenneth Peters, who was dragged down to the bottom of the tank several times by the foot- he miraculously remained calm, stroking the whale each time they surfaced, only to be taken down again. After nine minutes Peters was able to get his foot loose and frantically swim past a net other trainers had put in place for him. Incidents like this are not isolated. I've included the video below, but be warned- it's scary as hell. But also incredible enlightening. 

This is of course a documentary with not only a message, but an agenda- it is primarily one sided. Sea World has since issued an open letter after facing a PR nightmare, including falling stock prices and attendance. I sincerely think that there are many, many people at Sea World that care a great deal about the animals, preservation, and protection. But bottom line- it's a for-profit company that keeps highly intelligent animals in small tanks and makes them perform tricks so that they can make money. I'm not comfortable with that.

But what about your kids? Don't you want them to see these amazing animals in person? 

I do, yes, but I also believe that sometimes you have to do what's right and not what's cool. Not contributing to corporations who house wild animals is what's right for me. I'll show my kids Planet Earth and explain to them the difference between animals in the wild and captivity. And when they're much older (and can pay their own way and drive themselves) they can make the decision for themselves. I just won't support something I don't believe in.

Like anything controversial, this is something that you have to decide for yourself. Living in Southern California where there are a plethora of zoos and the now infamous Sea World this is definitely something relevant. I strongly urge people to watch the documentary before visiting a wild animal park. It's not a feel-good movie, but it's not gory either. Do some research, talk to your family, and decide if the pros outweigh the cons for you.

Like a Bandit

I must say, between my birthday and Christmas I made out like a freaking bandit these past two months. People know what I like by this point! I thought I'd share my bounty:

The only itty-bitty problem with this is that the dent I made in the TBR list is now totally gone. Not a bad problem to have!

Top Ten of 2013

It wouldn't be the end of December without a list of the top ten books I read this year (I'm anticipating 62 to be my final number). So, in no particular order, I give you my 2013 favorites (please note that rereads, like The Handmaid's Tale, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Macbeth won't appear despite my appreciation of them all):

1. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann- This book is the perfect example of achieving the perfect trifecta- exemplary writing, characters, and plot.

2. The Interestings by Meg Wollitzer- A group of summer camp friends grow up and see how their lives change and intertwine.

3. Blindness by Jose Sarramago- The world is overcome with an epidemic of blindness.

4. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple- A young girl must deal with her eccentric mother. It's just plain well-written fun.

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot- A nonfiction story of how Lacks' cells changed the medical industry.

6. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller- The funniest, most absurd satire I've ever read.

7. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri- A beautiful written story dealing with traditional thematic concepts involving family, honor, death, independence, and age.

8. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- A brilliant commentary on what it means to be an African living in the United States.

9. Night Film by Marisha Pessl- This book was definitely not perfect, but I love Pessl and appreciated her inclusion of multimedia aspects into her text.

10. The Circle by Dave Eggars- While there were a few parts I rolled my eyes at, the message it sends about social media is incredibly powerful. The novel kept me interested from beginning to end.

A few that came oh-so-close:

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
Fathermucker by Greg Olear
Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

A few to stay away from:

Lord of Misrule by Jaime Gordon
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky 
Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

If you've had enough of opening presents, shopping, and stuffing your face link up below! 

1. Tis the season to have an argument on Pinterest over a Sylvia Plath picture:

[A legit attempt? Call for attention? Nonetheless she put her head in an oven!]
2. I feel like our pool vacuum is a living, breathing creature. I even refer to it as a "him" to my husband, who really doesn't need anything else to make fun of me about...

3. I love the phrase "my hackles went up." I think I've used it approximately twenty times in the last week (at least in my head).

4. I think kangaroos are onto something in terms of birthing and whatnot.


5. I love the period between Christmas and New Years- still vacation, laziness is still justifiable, and there are still sales.

6. Who the hell has time for this nonsense? I've seen variations floating around Pinterest for awhile, and I just do not get it. Maybe that's why I make a better high school teacher than elementary one.

7. Speaking of time sucks, I dowloaded the Tiny Death Star game yesterday and am slightly obsessed with building levels and making money.

8. I've baked and cooked more in the last two days than I have... since Thanksgiving. I made peanut butter cups, honey horns (cinnamon roll type things), jam strips, and browned butter sugar cookies on Christmas Eve, as well as homemade pot pies. Then on Christmas I made breakfast and then roasted a chicken will all the appropriate fixings for dinner (just for 3 this time, though, as opposed to 22). I'm ready to order pizza.

9. We reached a high of 79 degrees yesterday. I sat outside in the backyard in a sundress, without shoes, to call my mom and wish her a Merry Christmas. Part of me loves it, part of me wishes there were at least a few clouds in the sky...

10. My husband bought me my first pair of Chucks for Christmas- they're so pretty I'm scared I'll mess them up by wearing them.

If You Haven't Seen It, It's New to You

I understand that compilation posts chalked-full of links are total cop-outs, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to do so with an upfront disclaimer and apology.

Disclaimer: This post contains absolutely no new material

Apology: I'm sorry for being a lazy shit

As NBC used to say during rerun seasons in the nineties, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you."

Why I Don't Read YA (pretty self-explanatory)

Foster the People (forcing teenagers to read)

By the Book: The Story of the Failed Croissants (the time I use used cooking as an allegory for frustrating things in my life) 

The Catcher in the Wallflower (calling out Perks for being like Catcher)

The Trifecta Achieved (my adoration for Let the Great World Spin)

Reading: Cheryl Strayed (conflicted bookish feelings) 

My Weekend: Books- 0 Waterfalls- 4 (for the Yosemite pictures)

Rice Krispy Interlude (recipe) (my attempt at recipe writing- Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips) 
On Boredom (being bored is important)

Signs You Need to Move On (quitting a book)

I Almost Forgot- I'm Pregnant (oh yeah, that's right...)

Update: Satellite/Cable Free ($100 a month richer, bitches!)


Bookish Baby Onesies

Before I go any further let's just say my baby will have tons of the cheap-ass multi-pack onesies from Target and Old Navy. There is no way my rapidly growing kid is going to be outfitted in expensive clothes every day! That being said, there are a ton of cute bookish onesies that I've spotted recently:


A Look Back: 2013 Resolutions

Last year I made some bookish resolutions and thought I'd look back at how I did:

1. Read 61 books- YES!
I just reached 61 the other day and may be able to squeeze one or two more in there before the ball drops.
2. Go to at least 10 readings- NO!
I came so close-8! I don't really accept responsibility for failing, though, since the last few months have been a little sparse.

3. Visit the Huntington Library again- YES!
We went for a brief visit this summer with some friends. I'd like to go back this spring for a longer visit, when the temps are lower and the flowers are blooming.

4. Check out some of the few independent bookstores left in LA- YES
 Technically just one, but the Last Bookstore was pretty awesome. 
5. Consider moving the blog to a different format/host (a big we'll see)- YES
I didn't move to a new host, but I did pay for a redesign, since I'm totally clueless.

6. Continue to grow the blog by being super smart and funny- YES!
The blog didn't grow astronomically, but there are a few more followers and page views. I think a lot of this is because of increased posting and commenting on other sites. I'm nowhere near big or famous, but I like what I've got.

7. Read at least 2 graphic novels-NO!
I read one, The Underwater Welder, but wasn't able to sneak in another (it's so shameful that I haven't tackled Building Stories yet).
8. Read at least 10 nonfiction works-NO!
I came close on this one, with eight.
9. Read at least 5 "classics"- YES!
I read six, seven if you count The Handmaid's Tale (debatable).

10. Finish a draft of my novel by the end of the school year, work on editing during summer break, and then go from there- NO!
I actually stared a new project mid-year, and while I didn't finish it I did make a dent and really enjoyed what I did. 

All Those Lists...

This post is also serving as The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday this week- books we wouldn't mind receiving for Christmas. 

'Tis the season for lists! And unlike the empty calories, long checkout lines, and cheesy songs, this is something I can get behind. I love lists- the organization, the structure, the precision. Needless to say, there might be a few more to come in the next few weeks, but for today here's the books I'd like based on all the other lists that have come out recently:

1. Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel
2. The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
3. The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley
4. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer
5. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
6. The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
7. Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

8. A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Marra
9. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
10. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
11. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon
12. A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

Read any of these? Inspired by any lists out there?

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below!

1. You'll have to excuse the brevity (and buttload of errors that I'm sure exist since I'm not editing) of this post- I'm frantically trying to finish brilliant Jose Saramago's Blindness for book club tomorrow afternoon. I'm slightly over half-way done, which is better than a few hours ago, but still pretty far away. I feel like I'm in college again (I'm on such a time crunch we're even eating frozen pizza tonight... the first time in like five years), minus the No-Doz and plus ten years.

2. We found out yesterday that we're having a boy. In the interest of full-disclosure, we were sort of hoping for a girl (my husband more so a muppet). But at this point, I'm thankful I even got pregnant and the baby is healthy. Plus, what can you really do? I love the name we have picked out for a boy and it's just nice to know. 

[that's his leg, just so we're all clear]

3. I really wish people would realize that I'm so much nicer in writing. Everyone should just email and text me.

4. Finals week is almost over- today is our last student day. I am still so behind (made worse by the fact I'm reading a novel and not essays) and am a little curious how this will all pan out... I have some serious yearbook work and another round of letters of rec to do as well. It'll all get done... supposedly.

5. Speaking of letters of rec, one of my students got a huge scholarship to Tulane in New Orleans! He has an incredible story and I've been going back and forth with him on letters of rec, possible interview questions, etc... so when he told me today I almost actually cried (it was obvious that he had been). So awesome. 

6. Gary Shtyengart's trailer for his memoir is great:

7. I've never told anyone this, but I have a huge fear of somehow leaving accidentally doing something in my classroom to burn the school down. I know, dramatic and totally not rational. I make sure all my computers are off, no chargers are plugged in, etc... before I leave every day. I'm also like this at home, to some degree. I seriously blame it on hearing stories throughout childhood about my mom and dad's housing burning down while she was pregnant with me. Traumatizing. 

8. Super happy that Blackfish is now on Netflix. Not because it's going to be warm and fuzzy, but because I was going to suck it up and rent it over break. 

9. Every year my mom buys me and my siblings a new ornament- I have one from every year of my life. Today this year's arrived in the mail! She also sent me my Christmas stocking from home- I think this means I'm kicked out of the family....

[made by mom circa 1983]

10. A student gave me a Christmas card today with glitter inside! What the hell? Not a glittery Christmas card, but a card containing glitter. I effing hate glitter. I was probably the only elementary teacher who outlawed in from her class.

Top Ten Tuesday- New to Me Authors


This week Top Ten Tuesday brought to us by the Broke and the Bookish asks us what the top ten "new to us" (ie old to the rest of the world) authors are from this year. Here we go:

1. Greg OlearFathermucker was a witty, touching story about a stay-at-home father who cared for his two kids (one of who was autistic) and worried about what his wife was really up to.

2. JoJo Moyes- I read Me Before You, which I was surprised to like so much, and then The Girl You Left Behind, which I didn't care for as much.

3. Colum McCann- I fell in absolute love with Let the Great World Spin (can you have sex with book? Does that happen?) and also enjoyed Transatlantic. I had the privilege of hearing him speak too.

4. Meg Wolitzer- The Interestings was amazing and it made me realize how stupid I have been not reading anything else of her before.

5. Maria Semple- Where'd You Go Bernadette was quite possibly one of the most fun novels I've read this year, if not ever.

6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Americanah was quite possibly the best book I read this year. Adichie is a genius.

7. Sylvia Plath- Can you believe I hadn't read more than maybe one or two of her poems prior to teaching her this semester?

8. Joseph Heller- Catch-22, finally! I'm still trying to get over the shame of going this long without have reading it.

9. Rachel Joyce- The Unlikely Pilgrimage was touching without being cheesy. Old people FTW.

10. Jaimy Gordon- The only book on the list that I despised, Lord of Misrule. Can't win them all!

Weekend Update

Visiting... UCLA. My husband I went back for a visit and then dinner in Santa Monica yesterday. It was pretty great (and tiring- between the dog walk I went on before and then all the walking we did in LA I logged over 7 miles!).

Baking... peanut butter balls and fudge for tomorrow's yearbook potluck (fingers crossed for tamales!)

Reading... the end of The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and the beginning of Blindess by Jose Saramago. So different, so fantastic. 

Dreading... how much work I have to get accomplished this week before grades are due and the semester is done. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but holy crap is there a lot to get done between now and then.

Hoping... the baby cooperates at the 20-week ultrasound so we can finally have the sex confirmed this week! Time to see if this little parasite is a boy or a girl.

On Teaching Sylvia Plath


Today was a great day, not just because it's Friday and for the first time in months I slept for 7.5 hours straight last night. Today my students finished up with their last Sylvia Plath poem- our twentieth in sixteen days. This isn't to say that we're done with her completely- there's more in store next week and after Christmas break. But in terms of new material, we're done. Smiles and sighs of relief all around. 


I went into the unit feeling very pessimistic- I'm not a fan of poetry and she's not exactly a good time, given the serious subject matter of her work. We had have a large sampling of poems, though, and of a certain line length, so she did fit that bill. A colleague also had a list of several poems that she had previously used, so I was able to take several from what she had and add four or five of some that I had found as well. Part convenience, part "what does it matter I hate poetry anyway." Adding to the feelings of contempt is that teaching poetry means a lot of copies, on shitty machines that barely work. 


As we started I realized that I didn't hate teaching Plath quite as much as I thought I would. First of all, teaching poetry with the time restraints that I had requires systematic routines and procedures, which I love. My students would get a copy, they'd read it and annotate it on their own to the best of their ability, and then we'd discuss in class, either by stanza or with some guiding questions that I'd throw up on the board. I typically had them read the poem in class in order to prevent them from simply asking Google what it was about, which wasn't the most efficient use of time, but it seemed more authentic to me. And it worked, since a lot of her poems aren't terribly long. Then the following night they had a standard three activities to do with it. Anyway, the routine was good. I'm a big fan of routine.

I also, at least temporarily, enjoyed analyzing the poems myself, which I made sure to do each day, since I'm the teacher and all (although I had to make sure to be careful about telling the students the answers; they needed to be the ones doing the heavy lifting). Some of the poems, like "Family Reunion," and "The Eye-Mote," were on the simpler side, while "Thin People," "The Collosus," and a few other were much tougher. It definitely did not come naturally to me, but unlocking the pieces ended up being quite rewarding. I haven't really felt challenged on a literary level for awhile, so it was nice to feel like I was actually learning.


My students had mixed feelings about the experience, and I plan to give them a reflection on Monday for more feedback. We did enjoy making fun of her at times, and I had several students that read, and liked, The Bell Jar. They struggled quite a bit, especially in the beginning, but in the last few days they really started honing in on their natural teenage BSing skills and started making some vast improvements. I think (?) that at least some of my more serious students ended up feeling the same way I did- relieved to be done but proud they battled through the work. And I even had a few girls that said they really wish we were going to keep going with Plath for awhile, which was surprising. 

While I'm not in a rush to read anymore Plath, or any poetry for that matter, I do think that it's important to stretch yourself as a teacher, reader and person.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

  Link up below!

1. The Naked 3 Palette by Urban Decay is out! I have the second and absolutely love it, although I probably don’t utilize it as well as I can. 

 2. One of the best things about nightly cold walks with the dogs around in the neighborhood is my own personal Second Annual “Oh Tacky Night” Outdoor Decorating Contest. The more blow-up creatures, moving parts, and crazy lights the higher the score. I guess if I really wanted to be more authentic I’d score during the day, since that’s when everything really looks the worst. Call me simple, but some simple white lights and a few wreaths. And for the record, having kids will not change this. I will have a Santa in an airplane, a huge-ass Christmas dog, or blow up Frosty  in my yard. 

[Oh man.]

3. I feel like LA has been slacking in the reading department this season. Something tells me that some publishers don’t see this area as a “literary contender” in terms of the market (often authors will go the Bay Area), perhaps due to sales, Hollywood, or just the general stereotypes that exist about Southern California. Take Jhumpa Lahiri- her tour includes Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. While I know I’ve been lucky to attend the events of some pretty major authors, I do fear that it may be a trend.

4. This month we’ve had several minor things go wrong around the house- a leaky garbage disposal, some bad light switches (which my mom’s boyfriend fixed over Thanksgiving, luckily), pool pump issues, internet connectivity problems, and now the brakes on my car. Nothing catastrophic or massively expensive, just annoying to deal with. During the midst of all this I continued my desperate wish that we were handy, or at least had some super handy friends we felt comfortable bothering.

5. I have so much to do right  now at work I’m scared to actually sit down and figure it out. I have never, ever been this behind going into finals- the next week will be a long one!

6. I’ve started to play around with Picasa- it’s not Photoshop, but it is a step above PicStitch.

7. I’m still reading Lowland by Lahiri (oops), but man am I loving it. I enjoyed her past works as well, so I’m not terrible surprised, but still- so great.

8. If you can’t run… volunteer! I’ve always said that I’d volunteer at a race, since I’ve done quite a few, and I’ve finally committed to handing out registration packets at the Surf City expo in February.  This is one of my all-time favorite races (and where my PR is from) and it’s also the first race I hope to come back to post-partum, if I’m able to (my baby will by 9-ish months old and if I can start a run/walk program two months after the kid is born it should be doable- note that I didn’t say impressive).

9. One of my favorite things to do is try new restaurants, and this month we’re going to one in Santa Monica for my husband’s birthday and then, more importantly, Bouchon in Vegas later in the month. After attempting a few recipes from Thomas Keller’s book I’ve become a huge fan, so I'm excited, even though I can't drink wine, try their cheeses, or even sample their milks (it's a French place).


10. Pregnancy dreams are out of control, and have been for many weeks. I'm already a really vivid, bizarre, dreamer, so all these crazy hormones are making things even more intense. The other night I dreamed I was doing lines of coke (?!?) with George W. Bush. Willingly. I'm not sure what's worse- fraternizing with a Republican or doing hardcore drugs. Rest assured, I've never done coke. Or crack. Or any of those things that can get you busted.