Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below! 

1. I made a really, really tough decision- I'm done going to yoga for the rest of my pregnancy. For the first hour of the ninety minute class I'm fine- I have to modify, but I expected that. The last thirty minutes were basically a waste of my time, though, since it was mostly dedicated to inversions, abs, and sometimes back bends. Classes are $12, meaning I was essentially lose out on $4 and thirty minutes of my day (this was the kicker, since I'm feeling so behind lately). It's not a lot, but over the course of a month it adds up. I bought a stupid prenatal video that is still sitting in it's plastic upstairs, and am doing a lot of hill walking and some cycling, so I'm still quite active. It's just a bit of a loss, because I really love going.

2. I'm slightly obsessed with buying a small portable shop-vac. Our dust buster is dying and it's really hard for me to haul the vacuum up the stairs step by step to clean them. With a little guy I could clean the stairs (it's only 8 pounds), my car, the tops of the fans... the possibilities are endless.

3. I finally updated my iPhone after to the new IOS (well, new several months ago) after the email security issue. It was traumatic. And the neon colors make me feel like I'm a fourteen year old Japanese kid that loves anime or something.

4. Best senior will for yearbook ever: "I, [student name], will to my younger brother, [student name], my sword, bow, and ax. May they help you on your journey to destroy the ring. I have left behind my final horcrux, but you will never find it, so I will be immortal. May the force be with you, and may the odds be ever in your favor."  So much awesomeness in one place. I have her as a student and she's the neatest kid.

5. If you're a blogger who tries to be conscientious about copyrights on pictures, check out

6. We settled on a day care, after looking at several. There is so much to consider, but ultimately this one met some of the more important requirements on our list, so I dropped off the paperwork last week. I feel like it's going to be a good fit! It's definitely a relief to have the mission accomplished.

7. I'm legitimately concerned about California's drought, which I almost take personally, being from the Central Valley (aka the heart and soul of California's agricultural economy). Sure, the ski resorts are turning to fake snow and our grass is going to cost more to keep green, but those really feeling the burn are the farmers and migrant workers. It's going to be a really rough year- those big grey clouds rolling in right now better have some rain for us and some snow for the mountains.

[What Folsom Lake has been reduced to; source]

8. I really hate stand up comedy. I'm listening to BJ Novak on The Nerdist pdocast right now and they're going on and on about the stand up days. So no, I don't want to go to the Improv with you (unless by some miracle Tina Fey is there).

9. This is going to change my life:

10. I'm not incredibly thrilled about my upcoming trip to Houston, but I am excited that I should actually have some time to read something besides student papers (I'm not bringing any, at all). I feel like I've been reading Oryx and Crake for forever.

A Day in the Life... of an English Teacher


I recently read an article in the Washington Post that talked about how many people don't really understand what teachers do. So many people think it's all about getting the summers off, a cozy retirement, union protection, and taking off at 3pm most days (although there are many that legitimately appreciate and respect the profession, and I thank those). Are there perks? Heck yes. Is it hard? Yes, if you're trying to do a good job (like any profession there are those that do not, I know). I think for me, teaching is the most demanding for three reasons: there is just so much to grade (1 essay = 4 minutes x one for every student = 400 minutes, or almost 7 hours), I think about the kids all the time (allowing them to email me at all hours of the day doesn't help), and the pressure in terms of adhering to policies and changes is constant.

I've been toying with this idea, a "day in the life" post, for awhile, part of me thinking it would be an interesting reflection piece, hopefully encourage others to do the same,* and allow me to take a a good, hard look at how I spend my time (I should do a follow-up one in a year to see how things look differently with an infant and job). The other part of me thinks it's self-indulgent and unnecessary. But then I remembered that's I write a book blog, not one on curing cancer. So, here we are! I hope you're prepared for how exciting my life is.

Prep for Monday on Saturday and Sunday:
- Aprx. 1 hour finishing lesson plans
- Aprx. 4 hours making an itty-bitty dent in my grading
- Aprx. 2 hours on yearbook edits  
- Aprx. 1 hour on letters of rec and answering emails (legitimate ones, not from the kids that are just being conversational)

5:50-6:30- Wake up, get ready, feed self and dogs (my first thoughts every day when the alarm goes off is some sort of profanity- I am not a morning person).

6:30-6:55- Commute (rock out to my normal mix of Rhianna, Led Zepplin, Lady Gaga and Tom Petty)

6:55-7:30- Enter the grades for the things I worked on yesterday. Answer the door for students that use my classroom as a closet during the day, leaving their sports bags and heavy textbooks. Reply to emails.

7:30-8:28 (first period)- I've given up my first period prep to help tutor students who are at risk for failing the high school exit exam for the next three weeks and today is the first day. We are paid an hourly rate for this, so it's not quite out of the goodness of my heart. I need a Fitbit and my baby needs [insert one of ten billion things here].

Generally, when I'm not doing this, I spend the fifty-eight minutes grading, copying, running to the ASB office on yearbook related tasks, planning, and answering emails. 

9:35-10:41 (second period)- I teach my AP students about a new type of essay that they're working on, the synthesis essay (and argumentative essay that requires them to evaluate different sources that they will incorporate into their writing as evidence). We read a few of the sources together and fill out a graphic organizer- they have the last ten minutes of the period to do one on their own. Over the course of the next week we'll "put the essay together" as a class before they're expected to start working on their own.

10:48-11:45 (third period)- My IB seniors come in and we work on in-depth character analysis for Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This is by far my most boisterous group (lovable 90% of the time), and they're super wound up today because they're starting some Spanish IB testing. The kids are divided into small groups and each receive a character that they are to become an "expert" on, based on some guiding questions I had already given them. After fifteen minutes of discussing and collaborating they walk around the room, filling in a graphic organizer based on quick interviews with other "experts" (whatever they don't get to his homework). The last five minutes of the period are spent on a quick character quiz with questions they should have addressed during the period ("Who is a foil for Okonkwo and why?" "Describe Ikemefuna and Nwoye's relationship and describe Okonkwo's perception of both characters"). I roam the room and make sure no one is doing work for other classes, copying straight from other peoples' notes, or are screwing around on their phones. They sound pretty smart today, so I tell them. They ask if they sound dumb the rest of the time and I shrug my shoulders and raise my eyebrows. We all love each other very much (joking aside, we actually sort of do).

11:53-11:51 (fourth period)- Yearbook starts off with me giving a stern lecture (I think I said the word "crap" a few times... obviously I mean business and am pretty pissed) on the fact that we have fourteen days until our final deadline and that they need to get it together. I pull up a couple of pages that have been half-assed and let the class know that whatever groups fail to meet their given deadlines with decent submission won't get anything better than a C- for the semester. Everyone gets to work and I start being nice again. I really, really hate being a hard-ass, but we're getting down to the wire and some of them have been slacking (it's like this every year and we pull it off, so I'm not too worried when push comes to shove). I spend the rest of the period editing pages, working with kids to improve and finalize what they've done, and emailing the yearbook plant to finalize the cover, which we've had a few rounds of edits on.

11:51-12:25- Lunch! Yup, we get less than forty minutes to ourselves. I have two friends that generally come eat in my room, which gives us an opportunity to talk to adults and complain as necessary.

12:33-1:31 (fifth period)- IB English again, so same as above.

1:38-2:36 (sixth period)- IB English again.

2:43-3:41 (seventh period)- I tutor for an extra period in the afternoon (I am paid at an hourly rate). 

3:45-4:20- Commute (listen to The Nerdist podcast with Christina Ricci, who is super weird and pretty awesome).

4:20-5:00- Feed dogs, have a snack, and sit on the couch reading blogs (I used to read my book but now get too sleepy after driving and eating... I blame the baby). Technically, this time is probably know as "dicking around."

5:00-5:30- Make the batter for the cookies I'm taking to tomorrow's staff meeting. Every time I bake I swear I'm going to not make a mess- it never happens. 

5:30-6:00- The dogs start glaring at me, as we're officially thirty minutes late for their walk, so we head out for a half an hour (I'm pretty proud to still be doing this at 30 weeks pregnant- we're talking 150+ pounds of dog, one of which who is scared constantly scared and the other who wants to investigate everything). I've been listening to A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and it's finally getting to the good part- she's been kidnapped in Somalia.

6:00-6:35- Hop on the treadmill for some more exercise (I try to get an hour, or 10,000 steps total, a day). I do a hill program while reading In Style, answering student emails on my phone, and looking at the Pinterest app. Do some brief, light weights.

6:35-7:15- Grade papers. 

7:15-8:00- Make dinner, clean up kitchen, may my lunch for tomorrow, eat once husband gets home at 7:45.

8:00-9:30- Bake cookies, grade more papers, answer student emails, write a letter of rec, attempt to spend time with husband.

9:30-10:30- Shower, read for a bit, go to sleep

Pretty typical, minus the cookies (usually I'd probably do some more reading or cleaning their place). I also don't always grade quite so much, but I'm a bit behind. I try to multi-task as much as possible and have a to-do list every afternoon (I know, control-freak much?). Once yearbook is wrapped up things will be a lot less stressful, but for the next two weeks I'm screwed 

Everyone is busy, no matter what career you choose, whether you have kids or dogs, live alone or are married. Teachers make it home an hour or two before everyone else, but most of us take a lot of work home with us. I know there are a lot of teachers who do more than I do at home, and some who do less. I think (?) I'm somewhere in the middle.

*Do it! Write one of your own! I think it would be awesome to read how other bloggers spend their time and handle their careers. Make sure to leave your link in your comments if you do, so we can all be nosy together. 

Top Ten Tuesday- Rereads

[What is this rewinding you speak of? source]

The Broke and the Bookish are rewinding today, so I'm taking the liberty to talk about the books I'd like to reread (I don't think they've ever done this one, but oh well). I'm not a huge rereader- I feel like there are so many other books out there that I'd like to try out. On the other hand, the times that I have (generally for work) I'm always pleasantly surprised.

1. Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky- I read this junior year in high school and loved it- I'd even say it was my favorite book, despite the fact that it's been fourteen years since I last picked it up.

2. The Narnia Series by CS Lewis- I read these in elementary school and have the complete series on a shelf here at home. Any day now! I definitely look forward to reading these with my kids years down the road.

3. House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende- This is another from high school that I thoroughly enjoyed. I've read several Allende books since, but I'd like to go back to the one that started it all.

4. Spark by John Ratey- I read this a few years ago and was really inspired by his studies regarding exercise and the brain. It's great motivation!

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- It's been many years since I've read about Jane and crazy Rochester. 

6. Lord of the Flies by William Golding- I read this sophomore year in high school and we're constantly talking about not having enough copies to read with the kids at work. I remember I enjoyed it, but I feel like I maybe my fourteen year old self didn't catch everything.

7. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole- I honestly don't remember when I read this- maybe early college? I do remember it being hilarious and loving the bumbling idiot Ignacious. 

8. The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen- I know I just read this a few years ago, but I truly loved it. The movie comes out soon (I think), so a refresher would be nice. I really wish the man would write another book...

9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides- Another book that I read several years ago but truly loved.

10. Underworld by Don Delillo- I find this a bit ironic, considering it took me over five years of starting and restarting to read it in the first place. It's such a dense, layered book, though, and I know a second read would give me an even better perspective.

Are you a rereader? What would you reread?

One Time Only

Confession: I don't really like spending money on the baby. Maybe because I DON'T EVEN KNOW HIM YET! It's almost the same as walking down the street and handing random people cash, except that they're not curled up in the fetal position in my abdomen (nor am I going to have to change their diapers in the middle of the night, so there's that...). 


This one time only I bought him more books than myself. You're welcome, baby. Don't get used to it. 

And no, I'm not reading to my belly. 

Window Shopping

So yesterday I talked about money, and how I'm a definite saver fueled by fear. I'm pretty tight with the purse strings and I prefer to save or pay off loans than to spend. I put off purchases so long that I forget I wanted to make them. What can I say? But sometimes I do get the urge to spend- especially when I have a tiny bit left over from my half of the tax return! Luckily, some heavy window shopping tends to do the trick and tide me over (minus the allotment I spent on books, but that's another post). Some things I've been coveting and probably won't buy:

[$37 Silver Tree Earrings from The Zen Muse Shop on Etsy]
I have a things for trees- in nature, home decor, accessories, etc... In fact, this may also deserve it's own post as well, one of these days.

[$150 Textured Turquoise Blazer from Banana Republic]
The older I get the more likely I am to spend more on one piece of higher-quality than less on several lower-quality pieces (as long as they're classics and have longevity... and not maternity clothes- I go cheaper there). I love the color and fit of this blazer and appreciate that I could actually wear it right now.

[$54.95, Arlo Turquoise Pillow from Crate and Barrel]
These would look perfect on my couch- the knitting looks so comfy! I'd probably never pay that much, though, since we would actually use them. But still. So pretty. 

[$14.95 each, Myko Dinner Plates from Sur la Table]
I really don't need to dinnerware, but these definitely match the feel of my dining room. We're having a few couples over for dinner next month, which is something I wish I did more of, and I'd love to have a set of dishes strictly for "entertaining." 

[$129, Fitbit Force from Fitbit]
I wore my husband's Fitbit Flex for a few days recently and was hooked on the stats- steps, sleep, and active moments. The Force also gives you information regarding incline and serves as a watch. I'm not thrilled about the sporty look, especially when I'm dressing in slacks and whatnot for work, but all of those numbers are just so motivating.

[$32.89 from Amazon]
The baby's nursery has a Where the Wild Things Are Theme and this collection of Maurice Sendak work would be perfect placed up on a shelf... out of his reach.

What's on your wish list this month?

Fiscally Responsible: A Post About Money

[source; via AMC's Breaking Bad]

Last Friday I met with my two good friends, who also happen to be a couple (making for an even more interesting conversation), for happy hour and much of our evening turned into a discussion about money- everything from how we budget to what money actually means to us. When we left we joked about how old we felt, our tequila shooting evenings turned into something Suze Orman would appreciate. But in truth I really enjoyed our talk, as it's rare to find people that you can honestly discuss something so controversial and sensitive as money. It made me see my relationship with the dollar a little clearer and forced me to articulate things that had been bouncing around in my brain for years.

This post isn't meant to give advice, but to instead let me ramble on about something that I think about often and enjoy, albeit the stress it sometimes brings. I know that everyone has different experiences with money and is in different phases of their lives, so don't feel this is a blanket post for all. 

The Financial-Talker Types
I think so many of us are a bit squeamish about talking money with others, since it really is a very personal thing. My hesitancy often comes from motive, though. I feel like there are usually five types of people: those that are complainers, nosy, private, nervous, or open. The complainers may focus on their lack of money, their hatred of taxes, or how the spending habits of others bother them. Nosy people love to pry either because they need some sort of ruler to measure their own bank accounts against or because they relish in the details of other people's lives. Some are private, feeling that they don't owe anyone anything, while others are perhaps embarrassed, in denial, anxious, or disinterested. And then there are people that read like an open book- they'll happily provide you their most recent tax returns if you ask for them nicely.

Personally, I'm a combination of a few types. There are certain people, like my husband and some super-close friends that I'm very open with. At our happy hour conversation specific figures were even thrown over the table, and I didn't feel the slightest bit intruded on. I have no problem telling my students about how much my student loan or car payments are, or how much I spend on utilities (I don't go into how much I make, my mortgage, or how much my wedding ring cost, but instead practical things that may help them realize that the real world is expensive). There are some people, though, the nosy ones and people I don't know well, that I completely shut off around. I don't go out of my way to tell my family how much I make or what I spend on vacations or "luxury" items, nor would I hide the information if asked. Money does cause my a great deal of anxiety, though, evidenced by my semi-strict budget and constant second-guessing before purchasing items that are deemed necessities.

Products of Our Environments
Like so many other things, our backgrounds influence our financial paths. Some inherit money from rich parents, while some may take responsibility for a family's debt. Some parents go out of their way to teach their children about money, while others may remain tight-lipped on the matter. Some of us use our parents as financial idols, wanting to replicate the solid nest-eggs they built, while others of us learn what not do by their examples. Personally, my family had no extra money left when growing up- my father was the primary source of income and after he died my mom had to compensate so that we could keep our house and survive month to month (no easy task with four kids, two of which quite small). There wasn't anything to fall back on and extra expenditures were incredibly stressful. This has obviously shaped my spending habits and need to save as an adult. It also has made me incredibly independent; I refuse to accept financial assistance from others and feel uncomfortable when people give me money or high dollar gifts. It's simply not what I come from.

Safety in Money
Nest egg, cushion, rainy-day fund- all terms that imply safety. A savings account may not buy happiness in some senses, but in a way it can. Having x amount in the bank provides some of us with a feeling that if those tragic "what-ifs" come true there's something to fall back on. This of course implies that there is a danger, to those people (myself included), of not having a certain amount saved. A danger of what, I'm not sure, but that's the point- I don't want to find out. Knowing that I have what I have in my savings account makes me feel better, it provides a comfort that if something happens with my health, job, car, or home I could probably make it through for awhile until a more permanent solution was found. 

I also am a firm believer in saving. I think there are a lot of people out there that believe that since they can't afford to save a lot that it's not worth the trouble. But let's say you won't miss $20 a month (that four mochas at Starbucks)- that's nearly $250 for the year. After four years of doing that you'll have $1,000, not counting interest. And maybe that's not enough to retire on, but it is the means to fix a car, hop a flight to New York, or just let keep growing.

Making Your Money Work for You
This topic definitely took the bulk of our conversation. Money should make money, if you're investing correctly. You should diversify your funds and choose where to place your money depending on your age, income, and end goals. Personally, I'm horrible with this. My retirement is through the teacher's union (which needs to get it's shit together with the state, so that it still exists in thirty years) and my savings is in a high-interest savings account. That's it. I guess the house is a long term investment, but other that that I have been way, way too conservative with my money. Some people excel at investing wisely, and have the balls to do so. They see the long-term picture, knowing that the market will go up and down and will probably always correct itself with a gradual upward motion. They don't panic when they lose a few thousand dollars and they don't get too attached when they gain. My reluctance to invest undoubtedly goes back to my upbringing; we never knew when something bad was going to happen and the idea of not having the  money  readily available, or losing any of it for "no reason," is too frightening for me. Interestingly, I adored playing stock-market games in high school and loved playing around with $500 I threw into some stocks a few years ago (but then sold when I got in a car accident... for a slight profit!). Bottom line- there are different types of saving styles.  

I love to budget (given that I have money coming in). My husband and I keep separate accounts for all personal, recreational, and luxury expenditures, and a household account that is for our mortgage, utilities, groceries, pet expenses, and eventually for baby costs. Student loans, car payments, gas, books, video games, travel, meals out, etc... come from our own accounts- we take it a whole step further and even pay separately when we eat out. While some think we're crazy, it works perfectly for us. I can count the arguments that we've had about money in ten years of togetherness on one hand. There is no resentment, secrets, or issues with overdrawing. That's the key, though- you have to find a way to manage your monthly budget that works for you. I know exactly, within $50 usually, how much our household account needs each month, so we each deposit half of that. When it comes to my personal account I subtract my regular bills, allow $100 per week for gas and weekly expenses, and then usually split the remainder in thirds- a part for savings, a part for paying down a car or student loan, and a part for something "fun." This is of course flexible; I've been madly trying to pay off my car for the past year (and just did yesterday!), so everything extra has gone to that. I'm not a big shopper, either, so I don't buy a lot of clothes or "things." I am, however, more lenient when it comes to doing things- I'll drop $50 or $75 on a great dinner a few times a year, go to concerts or other events, or spend money to drive to cities to do new things with friends. Personal prefrence. I also tend to use my Amazon credit card for everything I can- I save the points and use them for Christmas gifts, paying off the balance each month (or sometimes each week, if I'm being really on top of things). Again, it works for me. 

I understand that a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck, or are seriously in debt, whether they're students, laid off, or manage in a single-income family. But there's power in being honest and aware about your financial state, even if it's just to yourself. 


Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below! Please and thanks! 

Also, so sorry to anyone I twitter spammed this week- no sure what happened, but I think the problem is solved. 

1. I was listening to a Nerdist podcast and the guys were talking about God-know-what and the subject of mix tapes came up. That somehow turned into "Mix Books"- taking various chapters of books and putting them together for a romantic prospect. If someone had done this for me I would have been total putty in their hands. You want me to what? You just gave me a mix book? Yeah, okay, fine. Maybe I'm just easy.

2. Help me decide what Netflix show to watch while treadmill walking! I have it narrowed down to three: Nip/Tuck, Dexter, or The West Wing. All three are shows I've wanted to watch but my husband has zero interest in. What should I start with?

3. Speaking of shows, holy shit House of Cards season 2 is ridiculous. The first episode alone had us reeling. And I'm sorry, but I like Claire. I know she's a manipulative, maniacal bitch, but I can't help it. Maybe the power and success? The level of control and decorum she maintains? Or maybe it's the fact that I want her finesse when I'm her age. Nonetheless, I admit it.


4. Last weekend was crazy- I met with my favorite happy hour buddies Friday night (they each had shots of tequila, though, so that wasn't fair), walked four miles with a friend Saturday morning, drove to Orange County Saturday afternoon to visit with my mom, who was briefly in town, went to Ikea on Sunday morning to finish nursery furniture shopping, and then went to my brother's girlfriend's dance recital at UC Irvine that afternoon. Monday I graded and yearbooked for at least 6 hours. 

5. I'm currently reading, and loving, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. I received the trilogy (I know! Me! Reading a series!) for by birthday and Christmas, and am kicking myself for not getting on board sooner.

6. There have been zero interesting readings in the greater Los Angeles area the past few months, and none are brewing on the horizon, from what I can tell. This dry spell is ridiculous, and I'm not sure if it's because no one wants to come here or if no one I'm interested in has really put anything out lately. I'm crossing my fingers that the LA Times Festival of Books has some decent people (and also that at 36 or 38 weeks, or whatever I am then, pregnant I'm good to go).

7. I was excited to see that Yosemite (yosemitenps) is now on Instagram today! I follow very few people that aren't my actual friends or family members (exceptions: Pete Souza, the White House photographer, and Giada de Laurentiis, my girl crush), but this was a given.


8. Can someone please explain why J.K. Rowling is still planning to write under a pseudonym? It's so lame. The cat's out of the bag!

9. I hate it when people say that you can mend split ends with various hair products. The only way to fix split ends is with scissors. People are so delusional. Or maybe they're just magical. Maybe J.K. Rowling should write a freaking book about that.

10. My students have finished their study of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and seem less than impressed. Challenge accepted. 


Where the Wild Things Are Inspired Nursery

I'm trying to limit the baby-centric posts to just two or so a month, so bear with me. This one is book-related though, since the theme of our nursery is Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. I wanted to take a minute to share my "inspiration board" of sorts. My husband is painting a mural and doing some other artwork for the room, so I'm pretty much off the hook when it comes to wall decor now that we have the paint color selected. Most of the furniture has already been bought, or will be soon (except the shelves... we have to figure that out still), while the other decor items are still falling into place (but those damn blocks are a given. I love those things).

1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
2. Lauren Graco Crib
3. Where the Wild Things Are mobile, A Continual Lullaby
4. Poang Rocking Chair, Ikea
5. Behr Paint, Tropical Breeze
6. Threshold lamp shade, Target
7. Corner shelving ideas, Project Nursery
8. Where the Wild Things Are blocks, Storybook Blocks
9. Malm dresser, Ikea
10. Nordis Rug, Ikea
11. Expedit Shelving, Ikea
12. Grey bedding, Babies R' Us

Document This- K2 Climbers, Babies, and Keeping it Real

I've started watching more documentaries while walking on the treadmill this week (on an incline, for the record- just because my stomach will look like a deflated fleshy balloon post-partum doesn't mean my ass has to), so here's a quick rundown:

The Summit
102 minutes
This documentary tries to piece together went wrong during the K2 (the second highest mountain in the world, located on the border of Pakistan and China) disaster in 2008 when 11 climbers died (not all at one time; it seems that there were various issues that led to this tragic episode). There are reenactments, interviews, footage, and various accounts by those there and not there. 

Verdict: I don't think this is necessarily the best documentary, but given the fact they were 8,000 feet above sea level and so many people died it was probably the best documentary on this subject. Personally, I enjoy climbing stories and nature documentaries, so I did appreciate this. The scenery itself is amazing.

Life in a Day
95 minutes
I've had this documentary in my queue for forever and decided that I'd finally
give it a try. Basically, filmmakers asked people all over the world to record their daily activities on Saturday, July 24, 2010 and send them in. They then turned thousands and thousands of hours off footage into this documentary that records everything from mundane activities like brushing teeth, eating, and going to work to more life-changing events like birth, cancer, or shaving for the first time. We see people from all over the world, every age group, and from varying socioeconomic backgrounds.

Verdict: I loved this film; I enjoyed seeing how they put it together in terms of editing and organization, noting the differences in cultural practices, and the message that each day is both the same and unique. It also made me appreciate what I have and what I've worked for. 

More Business of Being Born
Episode 2- Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk About Giving Birth 
74 minutes
I watched the first Business of Being Born a long time ago, when we were trying to get pregnant, so thought I'd give the second installment a go. This was the
only episode that seemed appealing to me, since the others are about doulas and VBACs and whatnot. This one interviews women like Giselle Bundchen, Cindy Crawford (has she had work? She's still so beautiful), Melissa Joan Hart, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Alyson Hannigan, and Alanis Morisette, who all started off wanting natural childbirths. Each describes their stories from start to finish.

Verdict: On one hand all of the women wanted natural childbirth, so I felt, just like the Ina May Gaskin book I read, that there was sort of an "agenda." But as their stories unfolded I felt that the eventual message was that you just have to do what's right for you and your baby at the end, which I appreciated. I was also glad that this wasn't as graphic as the first one; in fact, there were very few pictures at all.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below! Thanks for stopping by and participating, everyone!

1. Last week while I was out at a training I gave my students a few articles on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe after only skimming them. They've been horrible for the subs I've had lately and have proven to be currently unable to handle flexibility, so I had to leave something they needed to complete and turn in. Unfortunately, one of the articles completely spoiled the ending for the kids. Part of me was so irritated with their recent behavior that I didn't care, but after some distance I feel like shit. Sorry, guys.

2. Since I've had this week off for our February break, I've taken on a few sewing projects for the baby- 10 burp cloths and two receiving blankets. Terry cloth is a huge pain in the ass to sew, if anyone was curious.

3. I feel like it's my civic duty to push this potato soup recipe on everyone- it's delicious, easy (hash browns instead of peeling and chopping potatoes) and the leftovers are fantastic.

4. When trying to find an app for my whole "reading globally" log I came across some that let you track places on earth where you've shat or had sex. You know, in case anyone is interested. Hopefully there are very few places that overlap from those lists...

5. We saw the LEGO movie last Friday when it came out and it was super good- the adult humor was perfect in terms of politics and society. We went at 9:15, thinking that most people would be home with their kids, you know, putting them to bed at a normal kid-like hour. Nope. Luckily everyone was pretty well-behaved, minus the middle schoolers.

6. A few weeks ago my husband excitedly told me about two new Oreos flavors that were due to come out- Rice Krispy Treats and Cookie Dough (those might not be the technical names). I picked up a pack of each this week and must say those cookie dough ones are pretty damn awesome. They're limited edition, so now I feel compelled to start stocking up. 


7. I've been visiting daycares this week and must say that the process is pretty nerve-wracking. It's so awkward meeting someone for the first time in their home, putting them on the spot. But then I remind myself that this is where my kid is going to be potentially spending at least eight hours a day- it's their job to sell themselves and their business to me, the person that's going to be paying them hundreds of dollars a month. I have a few more to look at and then a decision to be made- I can't wait to sign a contract and be done.

8. Amazon came out with a list of 100 books to read- it's pretty mediocre. A list that tries to tell me that to be well-read I need to read Gone Girl and The Hunger Games loses my respect. Or does "well-read" mean that you just have to read, well, everything? Not that those books are the worst books in the world, they're just nowhere near my top 100.

9. My husband is a huge movie/tv-show lover and buys a of Blu-Rays. A lot of times I could live with Netflix, but the fact that he bought the whole season of Downton Abbey that's currently being aired in the US is pretty awesome. While all you suckers are still on like episode seven or whatever, we finished the season last night. I've heard complaints, but I thought these last nine episodes were pretty good. Fine, characters weren't killed off like they were in the past and Downtown seemed relatively financially stable, but the rape? The racial issues? Edith's "situation"? I loved it.

10. I made this:  

Dear Diary...

[my inner-workings, in paper form]

Keeping a journal is one of those things that our society tends to make fun of- the idea seems to be that those who are actually living life don't have time to sit around and write about it. That journaling is for fifteen-year-old girls sitting around on their pink bedspreads in head gear and acne cream lamenting about how the popular boy made fun of them in the cafeteria. Or that keeping track of one's life in writing is narcissistic, or at best unnecessary.

I've been keeping a journal since my seventh birthday. I know I've probably mentioned it hear or there in passing, but I have to admit to being a tad bit, well, embarassed, of it. Shame no more.

My aunt sent me my first journal for my seventh birthday, complete with combination lock. It took my a couple of years to write through the entire thing, and many of the entries were angry ones, directed at my sister for "getting me in trouble," my mom for making me do too many chores, or a silly crush on a boy in school. My entries were very inconsistent from ages seven to about twelve, but then I started writing more regularly, probably because this marked the time where my dad's bipolar disease was out of control, his suicide following shortly thereafter. Oh, and I finally got my first boyfriend (obviously because I stopped wearing my glasses all the time and spent my allowance on Pantene Pro-V shampoo). Since then I've been more or less consistent (maybe one to four times a week), although there are some serious gaps, especially in college.

[after this first one they were known as "journals"- diaries are lame]
I never go back and reread old entries- it's pretty uncomfortable. I do love the process of selecting new journals to write in, once I've completed one. During my youth most of them are obviously very cheap and brightly colored, while in the past few years I've been willing to shell out a bit more for more "mature," understated ones. Lines are a must, as blank pages result in crooked writing and graph paper is just weird. I have yet to decide what I want done with them when I die. There will probably be too many to put in my casket with me, so I'll probably have to have them burnt in the huge chest I will one day buy to store them all. 

I've been very lucky that I've had no horrifying stories about people finding my journals, and that I live with a man who respects my privacy so much that I can leave them out in the open and he won't touch snoop, not that I generally do (he even has Kurt Cobain's journals that were published and refuses to read them, saying it's an invasion of privacy). When I lived with roommates I made sure they were hidden, usually folded up in sweaters, in shoe boxes, or tucked in the back of messy drawers. From what I know, they've remained for my eyes only.

The big question is why, I'm sure. The simple answer- therapy is way too expensive and time-consuming. The long answer is that over the years some shit (both life-changing and in retrospect trivial) has gone down and I haven't wanted to burden people with my problems, so I've turned to writing instead (seldom are the pages of my journals filled with happy, mundane things).  Putting things down on a page allows me to organize my thoughts and find solutions- it's incredibly cathartic. I feel better after even fifteen minutes of writing and it forces me to look at what's happening in life through a different lens, as opposed to sitting around letting my thoughts chase one another around in my head. 

And I'm not the only one who feels this way. Many famous people and successful writers have kept logs of their life. Take Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Dave Sedaris (he's been writing every morning for over thirty years), Jonathan Franzen, CS Lewis, Anne Frank, and Frida Kahlo. Oh, and Doogie Howser. I'm in good company. 

Research shows that journaling has major psychological benefits (so, basically, I'd be even more fucked up if I didn't do it). Apparently writing can strengthen brain cell connections, reduce stress by making you come to terms with problems, and help you be happier if you make an effort to include some good things on occasion. It can also help improve your memory.

So, there you have it- I'm one of those people. Judge away.

Have you ever dabbled in journal writing?

Top Ten Tuesday- By Swoon I Mean Laugh

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish asks us what books make us swoon- I just can't. Nothing makes me swoon, except maybe a bare-chested firefighter playing with a baby and a puppy simultaneously, and that's not even a done deal. I don't even like the word swoon. I do like to laugh, though, and I appreciate well-written books that crack me up. Here are ten of my favorites:

1. How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely- His narrator spells out the formula for how to make it big as a writer, throwing in some competition thinly masked as Nicholas Sparks and John Grisham.

2. Family Fang by Kevin Wilson- This family of performance must once again reunite.

3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller- The book is just completely outlandish, whether criticizing bureaucracy, describing women, or explaining how to get extended leave in hospital care. 

4. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky- The narrator, Russian Rosa, is outraged when her daughter ends up pregnant. She ends up loving her granddaughter and desperately wants to get the three of them out of the Soviet Union. 

5. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell- A hitman for the mob pretends to be a doctor.

6. Nick Hornby- It was hard to narrow it down to just one, but his dry British humor is great. I'm definitely partial to How to Be Good, which handles religion.

7. Tom Perrotta- Another author that I find in generally humorous, from Election to even his most recent, The Leftovers.

8. Gary Shteyngart- The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad Love Story are equally hilarious.

9. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr.- A writer travels to a small island in the Caribbean to get over (and write about) the woman he loves.

10. Tobacco Road by Erksine Caldwell- I remember reading this in college and being floored by how crass it was for the time period for which is was written.

Reading Globally

[January books and one from February; Source: 2014 Books Read Map via Zee Maps]
Towards the end of last year I started wishing that I had kept some sort of geographical log of where each book I had read was set, curious to see how globally I had read. The blog Whispers of a Barefoot Medical Student did a post at the end of the year about creating one in Google Maps (I think) and I was seriously jealous of her record- I knew I had to start in January so that I wouldn't have to do it all come December 2014. 

Last night I started looking for an app that would let you create a simple map of pins or tags of places you've traveled- I'd just sub in the setting of the book. Unfortunately, the "simple" part is easier said that done- most apps get into geotagging, check ins, photo labeling, network sharing, and seventeen million other options that were not working for me. 

I then started searching via my laptop for sites online and ran into Zee Maps, which didn't require I start an account, allowed me to simply pin locations with titles, and has options for notes, colors, etc... Each month I'll use a different color pin, just to see what the final spread is like. You can also pay to print the image (although after looking at the free print preview I'm not sure if I like the way it's set up).

I don't like that it requires you to have a specific address, at least for the detailed entry, so usually I scroll through the list of suggestions they give you based on the city and just pick somewhere that seems like a central location. It really doesn't matter, since I'm just using the map as an overall visual. The zoom in/out controls are a little wonky as well. I'm also not really sure about the company- they may disappear, along with my map, at any given time. They may also use the data, although I'm not terribly worried since this isn't really about my actual travels.

I have toyed with the idea of doing an actual physical map instead, numbering each book and just keep a log of what's where. But then it would just be one more piece of paper to hold onto, and the only thing I could really think of doing with it at the end would be posting it in my classroom for my students to look at or use. And I'm sure they would spend hours of their own time pouring over it (or not). I still may go this route, time permitting.

If you're interested in starting your own visit Zee Maps, and if you're dying to look at mine in detail, just follow this link

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up below (by the way, I try so, so hard to get over to all of your blogs to visit, but some weeks are insane... like last week)

1. I'm so excited to be taking part in another virtual book club through the Book Wheel. This time we're reading A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka and I'm really enjoying it. Participating online in a much different experience than in-person; we read a section a week for a month and then discuss via comments on the blog. 

2. I generally wear a pedometer, but I borrowed my husband's Fitbit last weekend for fun. The steps were basically on par with what I was getting, but I really loved the sleep function. It tells you how many times you wake up during the night (usually three) and how long you're restless (one night almost an hour). The only drawback is that I'm not really into the sporty accessory look, but my obsessive nature and need for data might win over in the end. 

3. I figured out what I want my epitaph to say. Under my name and birth/death dates I want it to simple say, "She read good books." That is all. Nothing about being a wife, mom, sister, friend, teacher, etc... Just "She read good books." 

[source; yes, I plan on living to 100]

4. Speaking of dying, I've started researching life insurance a little bit, always a fun topic. When my dad died when I was in high school his policy was pretty meager and my mom was left with four kids, a mortgage, and all the other expenses life likes to doll out. If anything were to happen to my husband or I I'd like to be prepared so that we could at least take care of the mortgage. It's serious, but I really feel like it's important- my goal is to have it taken care of by the end of the year.

5. Heck yes for the new Broken Bells album coming out earlier this week.

6. I've come to the conclusion that I really just can't handle reading two books at once. I'm read the one I mentioned above and have started reading Things Fall Apart for work, and am failing miserably. I just can't juggle books like I do men. Kidding, kidding.

7. I had one of the best cupcakes ever recently at Sprinkles, which I actually don't think necessarily has the best ones in Southern California. Anyway, it was a chocolate chocolate-chip raspberry one for Valentines Day and it was amazing. 

8. Saturday I volunteered at the Surf City Marathon Expo for five and a half hours, handing out race bibs to runners. It was incredibly interesting being on the other side of things, and the people watching was top shelf. Take the man who came with his huge Persian cat on a leash. Or the eighty-four year old man picking up his packet. Or the guy who was in from Switzerland just to run. It did make me very eager to get back out there- I hope that it's my first half marathon back postpartum in a year.

9. Yesterday was my last day of IOCs (the IB tests that I've been doing 1:1 with the students) and I had a least four kids that were really sick. One I almost stopped mid-commentary to send home because I was afraid she was going to die. I appreciate the dedication, but now I'm pretty nervous that I'm going to end up sick- knock on wood. I went straight home after work yesterday, changed my clothes, drank a ton of water and orange juice, showered, and took a walk, all in the hopes that I'd scare away the germs with an abundance of healthiness. Fingers crossed. 

10. Everyone is so in love with the Facebook one-minute movie of their memories since joining, but I was pretty underwhelmed (not with my life... with the "movie"). You'd think that they could have at least gone for higher resolution of the pictures... 

Top Ten Tuesday- Cry Baby

My identity as crier is complicated. I cry during nearly episode of the wonderfully horrible Grey's Anatomy, bawl hysterically when I watch Follow that Bird (he turns blue! the symbolism has astounded me since childhood), and tear up whenever I think of my seniors abandoning me in a few months. There are certain people that know what buttons to press to get my going and I think I may have quietly shed a tear when we ran out of water hiking down from Half Dome a few years ago (I definitely hid that, though, with some grunted expletives). I guess I'm a bit of a closet crier. One thing that doesn't generally pull at my heart strings? Books. Strange, I know. As a part of The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday, here are a few exceptions:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: I have never cried more while reading than when I read this book- it's the animal factor. The night I knew I was going to finish it, I went outside with my book light and a box of Kleenex while my husband was playing video games and just went for it. It was incredibly cathartic and overwhelmingly sad. It's just so easy to transfer the emotions for Enzo on to my actual pets. And let's just say I'm glad the neighbors didn't see... it was pathetic.

Marley and Me by John Grogan: I read my old elementary students the young adult version of this book and had to focus very, very hard to not get started in front of them. The day I knew Marley's end was imminent I'd make sure to have a bottle of water with me to start sipping (it washes away those sobs that start building up in your throat) and would make sure to seek out a kid that was inevitably doing something wrong to scold at the height of the emotion. Some good old-fashioned discipline does wonders for sappiness. 

Charlotte's Web by EB White: I don't know if the beloved spider's death has every made me actually cry tears, but I still find it so very sad. I also hate the beginning, where Fern's dad implies that the poor tiny little piglet will be put down if it returns to the farm. 

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton: I read this a really, really long time ago but remember just feeling down for much of it, as a woman must cope with the grief of her friend's daughter drowning under her care. To make matters worse, others accuse her of molestation and her husband ends up becoming involved with the friend whose daughter drowned. I didn't cry, but just felt so very depressed and sympathetic. 

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes: I didn't get my overly upset or anything while reading this, but I definitely did feel the end was quite sad.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch: This is another book I read over a decade ago but remember being incredibly moved by the sadness of the foster care system. 

That's all I've got! What makes you curl up in the fetal position and sob like a baby?