Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Live...Therefore I Am?

I live! Yes, I survived this past week, and I can now dread those days ahead that lead to the next two parent-teacher conferences. The crazy part about these conferences is that they completely wipe you out! After that long Wednesday, which included a pretty basic threat that since I'm in the "3 Year" group of hires at my school, that I am due to be cut when the high school splits into the new one. Between the stress of now knowing my life can be thrown back into chaos again by a move to a school that's almost twice as far from my home, and the stress of the 13 hour day we'd all had, I just was left a wet noodle for the rest of this past week. Oh, and let me top it off with me staying up until 2 a.m. on the following night so that I could finish grading AP response papers to hand back on Friday. Sigh... Tonight? Well, I'm alive and kicking. :) My good friends Jessica and Irene came last night to spend the night, and then to head to Women's Conference tonight. It was a lot of fun laughing and visiting with them, and Sari and I tortured them with a re-broadcasting of the Presidential Debates last night. :) I can't wait to vote this year!!!

As for other news...I did a bit of shopping today and bought some new clothes. I kept thinking I'd wait to buy clothes for when I lost weight, but who am I kidding? That will take a miracle! Oh...and guess what? My doctor's office sent me a letter on Thursday to tell me that not only does my blood work show a horrid lack of basic vitamins, but that my vitamin D was "very low." When I was at the docs office, she had asked me if I get enough sun. Hello...I spent my summer in HAWAII. Need I say more about sunshine? I still have the tan marks to show for it, so this news was pretty frustrating. I was on the phone with my mom at the time, and I just started cussing. Yes, not the best reaction, but I was tired and SO ANGRY considering how fanatic I've been about eating like a freaking health nut...oatmeal and flax meal, fiber one bars, organic fruit, salads, quinoa, soups, etc. All I heard on the other end was the clickety-click of my mom's work keyboard as she searched google for Vitamin D deficiencies. Guess what they call it? Rickets! :)

That made me laugh though, so I guess that's good. No, I don't think I have rickets (my legs are still relatively straight), but we did read a bit about how pancreatic issues can lead to this deficiency. Who knows. Maybe all this is a good thing, as I now can have a few more answers for all the hideous fatigue I've had since this summer. I joked with Sari that I probably would have been just as well off if I filled my diet with things like nachos, tater tots, cheeseburgers, oreos, and more! Well, if my "rickets" get the better of me, I'll let you all know! :) Besides, maybe rickets will keep me from buying these beautiful Jimmy Choos that I've been daydreaming about...yes...I know I'm a walking cliche of single women everywhere...

Having griped about my exhausting week, rickety health (ha, ha...), and limited budget for random shopping,...I have little to share in the way of reading. I honestly DIDN'T read. I got through the Prologue and "The Knight's Tale" in Canterbury Tales, but that's about it. Let me report on a few things that I checked out this week. First off, the last installment of "Lost in Austen" was on this week. Pious Janeites are slamming it all over the place, but I happened to really enjoy the escape. I'm not really sure why Jane Austen fans are so uptight about the "purity" of the story. It's not as if readers can't tell the difference between the original and a modern, fantasy version of it! Nevertheless, the four part series is over now, and I happened to find it pretty fun and relaxing to watch.

I also have been rewatching the PBS House Series as of late. About a month ago I watched "1900's House," and currently, I'm rewatching "Manor House."

If you haven't seen any of these series, and you like history or reality television, then you might enjoy these as much as I do. They take a family or groups of people and have them live the lifestyle of a certain era. In Manor House, they are living the Edwardian period (early 1900s), and all the social hob snobbery that the time period entailed. They are all really interesting social experiments, and really show how desperate we are as human beings to gain status, often at the expense of someone else.

Well, to end my randomness this week, I thought I would plug a book that I did get a chance to check out of our local library here, and that I think is sweet, quaint, and makes me want to pick up a book and read for days, The Book Lover's Cookbook.

In this beautiful little cookbook, the authors have compiled food references from various novels and poems, and included recipes for the foods mentioned. Scattered throughout, you also find lovely little quotes on the power of reading, writing, and books. It's really beautiful, and it just made me want to bake some scones and sit down in a comfy chair with a good book in hand to while away the hours. It may not be a story to tell, but if you enjoy cooking AND reading, then this little cookbook is at least fun to flip through.

This brings me to the end of my ramblings. I suppose I'll take my ricket-ridden self to bed and see if I can't lose myself in a good book before nodding off! Right now I have about six books that I just can't seem to get into, but would like one of them to grab me so that I could snuggle down and enjoy. I suppose that getting off of here would help, so until next time, Adieu! Oh, and if you should try those recipes...good eating!

Oh...a new Coach bag that once again makes me wish I had millions so that I could buy this at random!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Much Ado...Part Deux

Sorry, but I know that reading long posts can be pretty tedious! I just have so much to post about all of a sudden that I need more room for it all. :)

So on to what I've been reading. First off, let me not give off the impression that I've had tons of time for reading, because that's not the case at all. Here's the issue I've had this past week or two. The pollen count has been "Very High" now for over a week, which has sent me in a veritable tail spin. I've been on every prescription allergy medication known to mankind because I'm the type that gets these hideous sinus infections that create pressure behind my eyes, cheeks, and forehead. It's been murder! Well, it seems like once I take my last round of meds at night, have showered, and even taken my nasal spray, that I finally feel some relief, but can't get to sleep at night. Having said that, how do I spend my restless nights? Well, I grade for an hour or two, and then force myself to try to get drowsy so that I can get a couple hours of sleep by reading. That's where the reading time has come sleep!

I actually finished Tori Spelling's autobiography Stori Telling late last night, but barely picked it up from the library on Thursday. I have to say that I actually have a new-found respect for Tori Spelling. I know it will sound a little strange, but I started watching her Tori and Dean show after Meg Cabot, in her blog, kept making comments about how much she loved the show. I gave it a try, and yes, I was hooked. She's amazingly down to earth, and you can see her vulnerabilities spelled out in a very charming sort of way. Besides, she genuinely loves her family and spends a lot of time being an actual mother, not just a Hollywood star like I'd always thought. Her autobiography really just spelled out why she is the way she is, and I found it kind of fascinating.

Now let me say though that I've ALWAYS had a thing for biographies of any form. I went through a phase in the 4th grade where I couldn't get enough of them, and remember reading one about Abraham Lincoln, Bob Hope, and Jimmy Carter. Granted, they weren't written for adults, but I remember reading a ton of biographies when I was in gradeschool. What a nerd, right? :) Honestly, I think it plays into my "cultural studies" side that loves observing human nature and why we are the way we are. My fascination with human behavior has also kind of turned me into a much more liberal person than I ever was before, based on the fact that I've seen what freedoms do for a person. We can either CHOOSE to be horrifying and kitchy, or we can CHOOSE to follow paths of happiness, but it seems that built in that choice comes greater humanity and good on a global scale. (Okay, so that all sounds a little grandiose in a discussion about Tori Spelling, but you get my gist?) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading more about Tori Spelling's life, and will thank my lucky stars that I'm living a life out of the spotlight.

The second book I read this weekend was Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Mackler. I actually read half of it Tuesday night when I ended up only getting an hour's sleep. Had I not been so sleep deprived, I might have finished it that night, but just couldn't stay up a second longer. I finished it this morning in one last swoop, and thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. Again, it's YA fiction, but interesting. Besides loving a novel that places me in a different time period, and one that is so foreign to me, I loved reading this author's take on Shakespeare's early years.

The novel was told from a Anne Hathaway's point of view, who lived in the same village/township as our young Shakespeare. I vaguely remember that his wife had been older than he was, but the book reallly highlights the way this played out as both grew up. It seems that Will was a whimsical fellow, full of creativity and a desire to do and be more from the very beginning. You really grow to care about Anne, and really want to see her with someone who will appreciate and love her, but is Will the one to do that? Yes and no. I was really caught up in the angst that was Anne's as she grew older and knew that she was becoming less of a "spring chicken" with each passing year, and at age 26 was told she might be sent off to a home so that she did not burden her family anymore. (Gasp...yet another reason to be glad for our modern day, and for living in the US, as I know some countries still feel this way. Okay, so we DO feel this way, but we socially ostracize in a way, but not physically...thank goodness!) Anyway, I really cared about Anne and wanted Will to be her hero in the story, but found the way the author dealt with his rise to fame and fortune to be interesting, and a little gut wrenching for Anne. You'll just have to read it to find out why, but I will say that it's a decent enough read. At least I liked it, which made it for a fun read.

Well, I'm off to keep grading Don Quixote essays. :( I have about 1/3 of them read from my time down yesterday, but REALLY need to get the other 2/3 finished today!!! Besides, I have parent-teacher conferences coming up this week (which I hate more than just about anything), and new units to start in both 11th and AP classes. much to do. We'll see if I fit in any more time to read, but pray it's not replacing my sleep like this last week, because I'll surely go mad if it does!

Much Ado...

I have so much to report on, between period dramas and random readings! I just finished two books this weekend: Stori Telling by Tori Spelling, and Loving Will Shakespeare by Caroline Mackler. I don't think I could have read two more different books, but I'll talk about them in a minute. First, let's cover what I watch yesterday while I was down with the dreaded aches and pains of that wretched flu shot! Oh, and I'm actually feeling almost back to my normal self today...thank goodness.

As always, I've been watching "Lost in Austen," which I found out is only a four part show that ends this upcoming week. ITV slammed the door on watching it on YouTube, so thanks to a wonderful person on a blog I read, they mentioned that you could download them from a place called mininova. Admittedly, I went there with plenty of trepidation over dreaded viruses, etc., but my yearning for more Austen pushed me on. :) Anyway, last weekend I figured out the wonderful world of torrents, codecs, and downloading media. I now think I'm on my way to figuring out how to transfer my own media to my video IPod! Two cheers for my learned media-savi! Too funny. If I had more meaningful challenges in my life, I'd be tackling them, and NOT media players! Anyway, episode 3 was a real shocker, but made it so I can't wait until this week for the finale.

I've also been watching Robin Hood, Season 2. What a great show! And so free of any smut. I really love the show, and I look forward to each disc that comes in the mail through Netflix! I'm on the last disc, so rather than give away the shocking end to Season 2 that I've already somewhat heard about, I'll just say that I can't believe I have to wait until APRIL for BBC America to start broadcasting Season 3. I think I might be pulling out all the stops and downloading weekly episodes from mininova!

One last show I wanted to comment on is "Lilies," which was recommended to me by Netflix because of my penchant for period drama and anything BBC. Well, it is true that it's a BBC-North Ireland production based around post-WW1, but...well...

how do I put this? It's pretty postmodern in its take of the family its based on. I felt like I'd stepped back into the Pat Barker novel Regeneration that I had to read for my Postmodern British Lit. class in graduate school. It has it all: post traumatic stress, poverty, gender disparity, class issues, religious repression, and sexual orientation. It's pretty gritty, and while not some smutty R-rated piece, I can't say that it's a relaxing good time. Maybe watching it under the influence of antibiotics and a cocktail of other medications helped me get throug it? Nevertheless, even though I don't hate it, I definitely WON'T put it in the same category as my other BBC loves.

Maybe I should create a second post with my 411 on the books I've read? Yes, I think that might be better! Until later then, Cheers!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lazy River Prank

So I had a doctor's appointment this week to renew some prescriptions, was talked into the flu shot, and now HAVE THE FLU!!! Yes, you heard me right. Last night about 9:30 pm I started to ache all over and feel like crap. As if the allergies and sinus infection weren't enough, I had to go and get an injection of pure muscle cramping, joint aching hell! At least I can stay in bed all weekend if I want to, which is why I decided to find one of my favorite pranks on YouTube to get a good laugh, and to post to my blog. The part where the people can't get out of their tubes is just too funny! Sorry, but I needed a good laugh! :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Get Thee To a Nunnery!

After teaching two sections of 12th grade English this summer, I had a few questions about my students' perception of Ophelia from Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Without spoiling the issue they had with Ophelia, and thereby ruining the book, let's just say that they thought that Hamlet and Ophelia's relationship went way beyond a promise and a flirtation. I kept scratching my head over the suppositions they kept making, until I picked up Lisa Klein's YA novel Ophelia.

While not my favorite read of the summer or even year, I could appreciate yet another remake of a "classic" tale. The language tries to imitate some of the sound of Shakespeare, but NOT at the same time. It's a pretty easy read, but feels familiar, and not just becuase I've read the play. I can't really put my finger on it, but even though it was a retelling and meant to be surprising, you really could tell where it was heading. Did I enjoy it?'s not bad, but it's not one I'll be keeping around.

This has me wondering though what's up with us that we keep thirsting after and reading all these reworked stories? In a way, at least from my end, it's starting to get old! I know that sounds snobby, but after reading a slew of pretty horrid retellings, I'm ready for some pretty original thinking again. Sigh...I guess I am sounding snobby, especially after recommending "Lost in Austen" as a new TV series in Great Britain.

So far (and although you have to watch it on YouTube), I'm loving it! In fact, Doc sat in the recliner in my room while we watched the 2nd installment of the show from my 27" computer screen (huge discount on it when I bought my new HP this fall). It's whitty, engaging, and funny to watch this snarky Bridget-esque girl from the present step into Pride and Prejudice of the past. It's just fun!

One last recommendation, and then I'll head back to grading response papers (yuck!). As noted previously, I have a teenage-like, yet adult size crush on Richard Armitage. Well, he's currently starring in the BBC drama "Robin Hood." I actually just finished Netflixing the first Season last week, and spent yesterday and today watching the first two discs while I was grading papers. To tell you the truth, it really floats my boat. :) Not only is Armitage smoking hot in black leather as bad dude Guy Gisbourne ( that the REAL reason I'm watching???), but the story is fun to watch. If you're looking for a clean series with action, history, and a nice dose of romance (oh, and hot guys in leather), then I heartily recommend getting your hands on "Robin Hood."

Well, I have midterms this next week, and about 100 papers left to grade, so my reading for pleasure or future GRE purposes could go decidedly downhill. :( So, until I return, Cheers!

P.S. Let me know if you've read or seen any of the things I've posted. I'd love to hear anyone's response about them! Oh, and "G" from KSU...If you read this, I'm still waiting for a link to your blog! :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Anything Austen-esque!

So, I found out that there is a new ITV program in Great Britain called "Lost in Austen." I went to ITV, and you can watch the episodes online!!! Guess what I'll be doing during my prep??? :) Here's a link if you want to check it out. I have no idea if it's any good, but I'm willing to give it a try. Wait! They won't let you watch it outside the UK?!? Greedy Bas....tians of light and glory. (Whew...saved that one!) I guess you can catch it on YouTube, but my school is afraid of what teens will do if they have access to such a demon site, so I'll have to wait until I get home!

Oh, and one other quick sidenote. I tore through the leaked manuscript of Stephenie Meyer's fifth novel in the Twilight series, and I have to admit that I was really hooked! At a time in my life when I have VERY LITTLE faith in men actually being capable of returning or showing love, this somehow made me hope there are men who feel like this about the person they love. Yes, I'm a huge sap, which is also why I'll always be disappointed by love (sounds like an Austen line somehow?), because I have UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Okay, so I'll go back to my John Thornton/Mr. Darcy fantasies and keep my mouth shut! :) I'm probably better off being by myself anyway so that I can travel and someday end of living here:

Ahh... Now there's something that hard work and a dream can ACTUALLY achieve! Besides, that chair looks like it might be more comfy for one, with a hot guy serving me cold drinks.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Should Be In Bed, BUT...

Yes, I should be in bed, but I feel like I've been pushing through to get things done for tomorrow to such a degree that now I'm too wound up and need to UNwind! Can I just say though that I've missed graduate school so bad that I could hardly stand it?!? Yes, I miss being around other students and professors who are reading and overanalyzing anything and everything. (EDIT: I think I miss the schedule! :) As I roll out of bed to head to school by 7:15 am every morning I think to myself, "Why did I stop being a student?!?)

Well, I might be missing graduate school and its work, but my recent reading choices wouldn't necessarily reflect what I "should" be reading. :) I just finished The Luxe early this morning, and while it's definitely a little eyebrow raiser, I thought the writing style and story to be pretty engaging. Also, what can I say? I liked all the descriptions about pretty clothes and how rich people lived in NYC at the turn of the 20th century. It is a little scandalous, and the characters are definitely getting some action, but it's not described in detail (thank goodness). Basically, the story is very much like Edith Wharton's famous novel Age of Innocence (which I loved, by the way), with women who must be married to men with money, and men must marry women with social standing. In neither case does love play into their choices, so we find that like other cultures that FORCE loveless marriages on their children ( I bringing my personal experiences into this? Yes...I think I am!), that the characters must struggle with responsibilities to family and society versus true love. Here we get that age old question about whether true love can withstand poverty, or if it can win out over all? We keep wishing and hoping!

I actually really enjoyed this YA novel, and while it has its fair share of 90210 (since I've never seen Gossip Girls) drama, it manages to clip right along and keep you interested and engaged in the characters' lives. I'm not sure I'd recommend this to every one of my students, but to some of the older ones I might. If nothing else, I'll recommend it to friends who have a penchant for YA fiction. :) Now let's see if I can nod off! Honestly, I just need to pick up Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, and I'll be out in no time! Wish me luck, and until then, Adios.