And by “here,” I mean in Tampa, scoring AP exams.
Hello! This has been a wild weekend. First of all, I fully participated in a yard sale with friends on Saturday. I did make some money, which turned out to be a very good thing because it rained Saturday (we are in our monsoon season) and that reminded me to check the weather for the AP week. And guess what? It’s supposed to rain, rain, rain all this week, too.
And since I don’t have my car here, I realized that I should probably get some rain boots since I will have to walk everywhere.
Especially since our weather has been pretty much like this for the past week or so:
On Saturday, I went to the beach with a friend. On our way there, my friend revealed that she had gotten an annual pass to the state parks because her plan is to explore different parts of the state. And I realized that her plan is brilliant–brilliant! Because, essentially, she is going to be a tourist in our state. “Why didn’t I think of that?” I said. So now that is my new goal. State tourism!
Anyway, more happened at the beach, including a blinding migraine caused by sinusitis–opposite of fun and a prime opportunity to practice gratitude for sure. But the beach is the beach and it was marvelous. Because BEACH.
Yesterday and today were fun family times. My mom brought over hamburgers to grill yesterday and then I invited her to bring over kielbasa to grill today. These were both A+ choices.
And tomorrow it’s back to my regularly scheduled vacation. Which is just a fancy way of saying doing more unpacking, cleaning, and purging. While not going to work. Because of vacation. (VACATION.)
This was a good weekend. I went to a wedding, which…I love weddings. I don’t ever want to have a wedding (at least not in the traditional sense), but they are a delight. Anyway, the couple was super cute and happy even if there was a slight rain delay. (It’s been bone dry for weeks so of course it finally rains on the day of their wedding. Of course.)
Anyway, some slight changes had to be made to accommodate the weather, but everything after that was two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.
Then, on Sunday, my daughter and I went to my parents’ to spend Mother’s Day with my mom, and we taught my daughter how to play Spades. She’s almost ready for college for real now.
We also watched Miss India America, which is really cute and fun and a great example of a compelling, though mostly unlikable protagonist. It’s also streaming on Netflix. Ahem.
Vacation, vacation, vacation, vacation! Also: vacation.
I am not at Jay Pritchett levels of luxury or anything, but I did wind up taking super long naps every day since Wednesday. You know, not to brag or anything.
(Okay, okay. A little bragging.)
Anyway, this week, I have some appointments so it may be a while before I can get to that nap level again. Oh well.
I may post about being on vacation every week, just so you’re all forewarned. Did you know school doesn’t start until August? Oh, this is just delightful.
So, yes, I went on my church retreat and it was quite relaxing and delightful. I took several naps and even got to play Catan, which I now want to play again. Don’t worry. I have pretty much already set up a game night to make that happen.
Ah, the beauty of retreat.
Speaking of the beauty of retreat, here is a picture of my view from the dock on Saturday morning.
When I was a teenager, one of my friends had a brother who beat her up. At the time, I didn’t understand what that meant and couldn’t reconcile it with what I thought I knew about sibling relationships. To me, the fact that he “beat her up” meant that they got into fights sometimes. And, for me, then, fights were fair and equal matches that both people signed up for.
I remember I mentioned it/them to my parents once, and my dad even remarked with a shake of his head on it. “Isn’t that the boy who beats up his sister?” he asked. And I corrected him. “No,” I said. “They get into fights sometimes.”
I was young and had a limited understanding of the world. However, I knew about intimate partner violence and child abuse by parents/guardians because of soap operas and books. I had no clue that sibling abuse was a thing. I thought that siblings could fight or maybe get on each other’s nerves or participate in schemes and manipulation (okay, yes, this is all stuff I read in Sweet Valley High), but not once did I understand that domestic violence could occur between siblings.
Not because it was hard, but because (a) my daughter kept talking to me and (b) I kept getting distracted by The Oscars. And Twitter and Facebook. Also, I was trying to figure out which leggings to buy. Anyway.
Okay, I had to look at my calendar to see what I actually did this past week. Is that sad? It feels sad. I guess it’s a good thing I’m doing the Slice of Life challenge next month, huh? Anyway, that’s where I am. So yes, this past week I:
- went to a Hamilton trivia night (my team lost)
- went to the dentist
- went to a search committee meeting for the church’s new minister
- attended a plagiarism hearing as a witness
- visited an astronomy class as part of the pilot Teaching Squares program at my school (and learned quite a bit!)
- attended a student conduct hearing as a member of the conduct board
- went to see a student production of The Drowsy Chaperone, which was super fun (I love a good farce and a good meta-narrative)
- dropped in to a party I wasn’t invited to to visit a friend who was only in town for one night
- went to the Women’s March celebration and activist fair held by the local chapter of the march
And that doesn’t even count my regularly scheduled activities (work, gym, etc.).
I only met with my students once last week, so this week is the full grind. A miracle occurred today, though! I didn’t bring any work home. The key seems to be going back to my office to do work instead of leaving immediately after class. Imagine that.
The rest of last week is a blur, for sure. All that course prep makes my brain go to mush. Oh, and I forgot to post this e-card a friend sent me when I was complaining about course prep last week, so here it is now:
Now that I’m back, of course, I’m fine (and even in the zone). But, man, that prep week is whoa.
No, seriously. I still have ten left in the stack that I want to get to before the move, and I don’t think it’s going to happen. Also, reading them is starting to feel like work now–probably because I am trying to read them in a specific order. It might be time to start jumping around the stack.
This past week, I read:
The best stories were the title piece, the first story, and “Chocolate Pudding.” But these are all honest, real, and raw and, as someone who will likely be a spinster, I appreciated the last story a lot.
Two weeks ago, I saw:
I forgot to mention that I went to see Love & Friendship, which is based on the novella Lady Susan by Jane Austen. I am not a huge fan of Austen’s books, but I think they translate really well to screen. I should state up front that I’m also not super into period pieces. However, I liked the humor in this, and I loved how Lady Susan was always ten steps ahead of everyone else. This movie is very talky-talky, so if you don’t go in much for that, you might not like it. I am generally a fan of talking movies, though, so this worked for me.
Also, I haven’t read the book but the movie kind of makes me want to and, as I said, I’m not a huge fan of Austen’s books, so it definitely has that going for it.
I do have to say that I don’t get the title at all. It didn’t seem to match the movie. Maybe I’m missing something, though. I think Lady Susan would have worked just fine. I mean, it is all about her and her machinations after all and not really all that much about friendship and Love & Friendship is so darn generic (I kept mistakenly calling the movie Love & Acceptance, for example). Ugh. Anybody else who saw it have an opinion on the title? (ETA: Duh, the title is meant to be ironic. But still, generic and bland, especially given the rest of the movie.)
As of today, I’m reading:
I was feeling kind of slumpy (and it’s almost time for The Cursed Child), so I decided to reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I mean, it’s only been a little over a year since my last reread of Prisoner of Azkaban, so. It might be time is what I’m saying.) I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and I can tell you right now that the beginning of the book needed way less Quidditch. Also, there’s a lot of great foreshadowing and framing in all of the opening scenes when they head to the World Cup and before they get to Hogwarts. You know, minus the Quidditch match descriptions.
My plan was also to sign up for the Potterhead July Blog Festival, but I (a) totally missed the sign up AND (b) will be moving in July so it’s probably not the best time to commit to anything. I am looking forward to reading the posts, though.
Daniel José Older is one of my favorite people on Twitter, and my colleague highly recommended his book, so I finally decided to read Shadowshaper. I’m listening to the audiobook, and Anika Noni Rose narrates. I’m digging it so far.
I’m participating in a blog tour for Stepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins at the beginning of July. I’ll be starting this one later today.
Happy reading, everyone!
I wanted to tell them that I’d never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren’t meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz has been on my radar since it first came out–not only because it has won so many awards and is lauded by many, but also because my summer book club picked it a few years ago. I didn’t read it then because I had required reading fatigue (it’s a thing I tend to get every summer), but I knew I would get back to it eventually. Well, eventually came this year once I found out Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) did the narration for the audiobook.
The plot of the book is pretty straight-forward: Aristotle (who goes by Ari) is a lonely 15-year-old who befriends Dante one day at the swimming pool. Then, you know, life and stuff happens. Big life and big stuff. I am avoiding spoilers here, obviously.
What I Liked
– First and foremost, this is a friendship novel. I LOVE FRIENDSHIP STORIES. They make me happy. Friendships can be easy and challenging and hard and beautiful, and that’s exactly what happens here.
– Dante is pretty fantastic. He’s such a great character: open, honest, frustrating, angry, challenging. He’s just so earnest! Ah, it’s adorable.
– Ari is pretty great, too. He’s the narrator, so the reader is more privy to his thoughts, and he is struggling to find his place in the world. I liked that he is pretty much just doing what comes next like a checklist for life, even if he isn’t sure what he wants yet. I think that’s pretty accurate for how many teens do things.
– This is a kissing book. Lots of talk of kissing here. Lots of kissing happening, too. I approve.
– THE PARENTS. Both boys’ parents are excellent. They are supremely flawed human beings who are doing the best they can, which means they screw up sometimes but that they love their kids so, so much–and the narrative acknowledges it. Also, Dante’s father is an English professor, so that automatically raises his level of awesome for me.
– Gina Navarro and Sophie (I can’t remember her last name). These are girls Ari grew up with who drive him insane but also love him a super lot and force him to participate in life stuff. At first, I was jarred by their presence, but I really like how they challenged him and how he came to see their place in his life.
– So basically all of the characters were great is what I’m saying.
– THE ENDING. I 100% love the ending to this book, and that’s what took me from liking it to really liking it. And when I say the ending, I don’t mean the last chapter. I mean pretty much the whole last act, starting from the moment Ari’s parents sit him down for a heart-to-heart until the very, very end. It was pretty much perfection.
– The dialogue is super realistic and I loved, loved, loved any time the characters were talking to and interacting with each other. I could pretty much see every single one of those scenes playing out in front of me. They were so great.
– One of the running threads through the book is this idea of being a “real” Mexican. I loved that exploration of the boys’ identities and how the idea is tied into not only cultural expectations but also outside stereotypes. It’s really well handled and Saenz is subtle in how he completely and most emphatically states that the only thing that makes someone a real Mexican is being Mexican. Love.
– Lin-Manuel Miranda is A+ as a narrator. I would listen to another book he reads. Also, he can definitely roll his r’s. I tried over and over to say Bernardo the way he does, and it just wasn’t happening. I also don’t speak Spanish, so you know.
What I Didn’t Like
– I thought this was a summer book. It’s not. When Ari went back to school, I was so confused and a little upset. This is all about my expectations as a reader, but it is what it is.
– I am pretty sure Ari is depressed throughout most of the novel (thought it’s never explicitly stated), and that’s fine. He’s also a pretty interior character, which is also fine. However, what that meant for huge chunks of the novel is that Ari is completely in his head and most of what he thinks is expressed in negatives. There is a lot of “I don’t know why I did this” and “I don’t know why this” and “I didn’t say anything, but” or “I didn’t ask him this.” Those moments (and there are A LOT of them) made the narration and the story drag.
Also, one thing I was taught when I studied creative writing was not to describe what a character doesn’t do and so I am hyper aware of when an author does it.
Those moments may have played out better in the text than in the audio, but just imagine listening to someone tell you for five minutes straight all the things they didn’t do in a given situation. It would get real old real fast.
On the plus side, it did make the moments of dialogue and character interaction that much more enjoyable, so.
In conclusion: A really powerful look at friendship, family, and love with great characters and an excellent ending.