Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hate New Year's Eve. No really. I so love October through December and hate January through April, that New Year's always ushers in a dark and dreary four months ahead (not to mention dreaded VALENTINE'S DAY...ick). Sigh...having gone about my terribly negative diatribe, let say that I do like being in Hawaii over New Year's and knowing that we're the last ones to still get 2008 all to ourselves! :) I know...weird.

As my year ends, I do have one last piece I read. I finished Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. I wish I could discuss the amazing insights on human nature and the American Dream set forth here by Miller, especially since this is such a famous American play..., but I can't. In the end, main character, and father Willy, was just too obnoxious in his desperation for me to handle. I got the fact that his son Biff was disillusioned with his father's imperfections, failures, and expectations, but don't all children (to some degree) come the the conclusion that their parents are fallable and even failures at times? I'm glad I've read the play to get it under my literary belt (so to say), but I can't see myself teaching this play. I think I'm off to read one of the two others I purchases so that I can see if there's something out there I feel more connected to and passionate about, otherwise teaching it will be all for naught!

In closing, I wanted to give a high two thumbs up for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I was sad to see that one of my favs, Meg Cabot, hated it and felt that Brad Pitt's character failed to learn anything through his experiences. Although I can see why she felt that way after watching this old child continually move backwards and grow younger as he got older and not stick out his own life experiences, I appreciated his insights and what it taught me about embracing life (regardless of age). I thought the movie was beautiful, and I have to say that I thought it's concept was unique and thought-provoking. Sorry Meg...I love you in every way, but I have to say that I really liked this film!

Anyway, for all who are now in 2009, let me give my best, Mahalo, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz

With the craziness of the wind and weather, we've spent more time inside than you might think. Having said that, I finally finished Melissa De La Cruz's third book in the Blue Blood series, Revelations. I wanted to say how much I liked it, but found that I was dragging myself through it like a chore. So sad! The first two books had at least caught my attention, but this one left me feeling like no matter what I guessed about who was a "Silver Blood" or a bad guy was just beyond the point. The story would twist around and change, no matter what I guessed or thought. You would think that would make a good story, but for me it just felt a little distracting.

Since this is the third book in the series, I don't want to say much, but can say that it follow Schuyler Van Allen and her turmoil as she learns how to become the vampire that she was born to be. Unlike other "vampire" books I've read, this one really talks more about the community of vampires than just Schuyler, but you definitely follow her to see how she deals with the challenges she encounters. This is not a humorous book in any way, and takes a pretty serious bent throughout, but is still on the YA/Adult border. I'm pretty bored with them at this point, but will probably read the 4th book just to see how it works out.

Well, off to finish reading Death of a Salesman. I know, can you believe I've never actually "read" the silly thing?!? I actually realized about a month ago that I'm pretty uneducated when it comes to plays. That bothered me, so I did a bunch of research one day at work about plays that my AP students might want to know, and then went to Barnes and Nobles and bought three plays I've never read. I love teaching plays, so I'm excited to add to my limited knowledge of plays (other than Tennessee Williams, who I fell in love with at BYU). Anyway, I'm off to do some reading! Finally...I'm getting into a little reading. Sigh...

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Wow...what a day! Yesterday mom and I headed out to attempt some after Christmas shopping. We decided to go to Pearl City (West of Honolulu & Waikiki) to go to Walmart there, and then followed it up with a movie. We went to see Yes Man with Jim Carrey, and NO I wouldn't recommend it (my mom wanted a good laugh...I don't know if it was what we were looking for). Anyway, as we came out at 6 pm, we noticed the night sky lighting up. I didn't think anything of it, but really just wanted to get our car out of the parking garage and hit the road. Well, as we came up and out of the garage...POOF...out went every light, in every store, in every building in the shopping strip we were in. SPOOKY. We instantly realized the electric storm had cut out the power, so we braved the blinding headlights against the rainy roads and surfaces to edge out into the flow of traffic. Now, if you know anything about merging onto the Kamehameha Highway there outside of that shopping area, it's an insane intersection. Thankfully we were merging to the right, so I just followed a line of traffic out onto the highway, towards the North Shore.

What should have been an easy little trip home turned into a really quite scary drive. I tried to stay in the outside lane, but realized that with the slope and the way the water was pooling, that the lane tended to be under water in places. Once we got off in Wahiawa, I just gripped the steering wheel and prayed we could get through this one last traffic spot. You have to drive through the middle of the town before going down a slope, over a bridge, and up on your way towards the Dole Plantation. SCARY. I knew "down" was not cool, but knew the bridge would allow the water to run over the bridge into the gulley below. Thankfully, I was right, and we made it all right. It was darker than death, and our GPS quit working, but we made it along the north shore in relative safety. By the time we hit Turtle Bay, it was only mom and I and a couple of other cars riding my tail (just like in a blizzard, following someone else is way easier than leading the way and braving the wet road!). By the time we turned off on Temple Drive, I finally sighed and let the muscles in my neck relax a bit. Talk about a headache from that drive!!!

I have to say how much I love the people here in Laie. Our neighbors up and down the road were outside visiting, children out lighting fireworks, etc. Mom and I just hauled our stuff in our cave-like apartment, found flashlights, and got the emergency radio on. It wasn't long after being home that we heard that it was going to be over 12 hours to get electricity back!!! Sigh. We sat in the living room for a little while, listening to the reports and callers until a little after 10 pm. Oh, and let me say that some man from Akron, Ohio called in and griped about how Hawaii Electric needed to take a lesson from the mainland in getting electricity up a little faster. ***Oh no he didn't!*** The broadcaster hung up, then proceeded to get really pissed (his words) and tried to explain over the radio how when you fly here, you cross thousands of mile of OCEAN between here and California that prevent hooking in to anyone else when the power goes out. Hello, if the President elect didn't have power, then how would these people expect anyone else to? DUH!

Okay, well mom and I hit the bed early. I actually took a sleeping pill, but still woke up because of the rain pounding outside at around 2am (I'm still nervous mom's place will flood again), turned on the radio, and still got the gist of the fact that we were all still down. By morning the broadcasters were announcing power back up where President Obama and his family are, and in other places down by the power plants, but most of the island would still be out until past noon. We had several huge rainstorms throughout the day, and mom and I had to go for a walk after awhile because the apartment was so hot and muggy, and it was just too dark! Thankfully, the lights came on 20 HOURS after they went out, at about 2:30 pm. Sigh. The last time this happened here was some earthquake of '06. The last tsunami was back in the 40s, and the last hurricane (mild) back in the 90s?'s been through a flood last week, and now this blackout the day after Christmas. Please say we or she's not due for anything else! :)

Regardless of it all, I love Hawaii. With all good and beautiful things, you do seem to have to take the opposite to balance it out. The people here are like family, and while I about went out of my mind (yes, this technology junkie suffered), I'm thankful that it was only an inconvenience and not something really dangerous! Mahalo!

Here's the news report from the Associated Press:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka

Merry Christmas all. I could have posted yesterday, but because I've been so LAZY, figured I had nothing exciting to say so why do it. It's been very nice here in Hawaii, and much sunnier than I remember it being last year. It's not quite like it was over the summer, but that's fine, as you sleep better with a little "chill" (is 75 degrees a chill?) in the air. We did the PCC again, the luau and the evening show. It was really nice, and once again amazing that they can keep up the kind of professionalism that they do day in and day out. It was a nice Christmas Eve though.

So, while I've been too lazy to actually read (can you believe it), I've really only been watching tons of TV and movies in my down time. Last night we watched the cutest movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I HAD TO post something about it because I found it so enchanting. It's not necessarily a movie I'd watch over and over again, as the first go at it is spent keeping up with the characters and fast paced dialogue. Overall though, it was a charming, fun film to watch, and different enough from what I've seen come out of Hollywood, that it really just grabbed me. In a way, Miss Pettigrew is a Cinderella story for the over 40 crowd. It was really quite charming, and I give it a high two thumbs up to anyone looking for something with a different feel to it.

Well, we're off to go do a little after Christmas shopping. I have some "Hawaiian" things I want to pick up while I'm here, so we're going to go see if there are any sales today. Until I actually have something to write about...Mahalo!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blue Christmas and More...

Just to update anyone who knows about the flooding situation that occurred in Laie last week, mom had someone come in to inspect her apartment and was told that she needs to trash most of her furniture because of contamination. Now, I'm not proud of myself, but it totally flipped me out! Besides being her only support (working my tail off for enough to get by), I freaked out because it hit me that we'll be semi-homeless for Christmas. After another LONG day of school and grading (still plowing through 8-page research papers for AP--just 25 left), I fell apart. I know, I know, I know. How selfish am I, when so many people are suffering and struggling this time of year. I was tired, and out of that fatigue, I snapped! I think I cried for two hours..., but it will be all right. It just added another layer of stress right now.

Anyway...let me stop whining (impossible, I know, but I'll try). Yesterday I finished two books: Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews, and Papa Married a Mormon from our November book club choice. I'm just thankful I finished one of our book club choices so far! :)

Blue Christmas was actually a book I listened to on CD while driving to and from work. I finished the previous book to this follow up last month, also listened to in the car. Both books are about Weezie Foley's adventures as an antique dealer in Savannah. As a follow up to her previous book, she now owns her own store, she is still dating Daniel--who she hopes to marry but who is also a big scrooge because of family baggage, and she is trying to prepare for Christmas so she can bring together all the people she loves. It's a cute little story, despite the non-stop, frantic preparations she makes for Christmas, i.e. decorating her store window, decorating her house, throwing a party, buying presents for Daniel, and preparing a huge Christmas feast for her family. As with her previous book, Andrews likes to throw in a bit of mystery, so throughout this novel someone seems to keep getting in Weezie's house and stealing food, in her vehicle to sleep one night, and even in her store front to sleep in the antique bed in the display. Overall, it was a fun story to listen to, and since it's so short, it took no time at all to get through it. While not my favorite Christmas-set novel, it was still fun.

As for Papa Married a Mormon, it ended up better than it started. I guess I didn't care for hearing about the two "apostate" boys who moved out to Utah to settle among the Mormons, being ostracized for being outsiders, and all of that set up. Once the marriage happens between the Mormon girl and the "apostate" Catholic, the story picks up and I really enjoyed hearing all the anecdotes and stories the author recounts about his childhood. It struck me though how sad it was/is that people avoided his family, even though he and his brothers and sister went to Sunday School as children. While some people were open and interacted with his family, most seemed to say, without saying it, that the mom chose to marry outside her faith, therefore she was no longer "true" and in the club. I don't know, it just really struck me. It kind of made me sad, and makes me hope that I'm open and loving to all people that cross my path, regardless of background or choice. I realize this book was more of a man's memoir about his family, but it did leave me thinking about a few things. Not really a fast read, but in the end, I did like it.

Well, I need to head off and get more grading done! Two more days...

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Perfect Elizabeth

I came home tonight after working a 12 hour day, threw my work bag on the floor, and went in to take a nice hot bath and read. I've pretty much been grading non-stop, with stretches of procrastination in between, but the weight of knowing how much I still have to do keeps me from really getting anything accomplished! Anyway, I picked up a book that's been renewed three times and has to be returned to the library on Friday, The Perfect Elizabeth by Libby Schmais.I have to say it was an interesting read, and one that I would recommend to my 30-ish friends who are still searching for that thing--whatever that might be--that they are searching for in their lives. The main character, Liza, is close with her sister Bette, but honestly that's not what the novel is about. The entire plot circles around Liza trying to figure out what will make her happy. It's interesting, because it's not like anything is all that horrible in her life, but she questions and second-guesses if she's really moving towards her full potential and all that will "really" make her happy. Who hasn't wondered that? It's taken me until just this year to really feel plugged in again to my own life, and yet I'm always questioning if there is more I could do? Let's be honest here. I'd love the "ideal" this and that I was raised to want...not just because I was raised that way, but because--for the most part--I really do still want a good portion of it. But...(and I hate starting sentences with a CONJUNCTION!!!), there is a part of me that wonders what gloriously adventurous things I could do if I'd only try. What's holding me back from writing. Not even writing for any great purpose or end, but just writing? It's a romantic ideal to be a writer, but I can't say I haven't glorified the idea of sitting on a beach somewhere, or at a little wood table overlooking the Mediterranean from my home on a Greek island, considering the next line of my novel. What English major hasn't glorified that idea?!? Sigh...

Well, to wrap up, this novel has an interesting, yet realistic feeling to it about a 30-ish girl trying to figure out what matters most to her and how to attain it. Yes, there's a boyfriend in the book that she's actually living with, but for some reason, even he felt secondary to the journey she was taking. There are plenty of cliche's along the way, but I still kind of like the thought process this novel took me on, which at least got me away from work and grading for a little while!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to family and friends. Surprisingly, I'm not much in the Christmas spirit this year and it hasn't dawned on me to be alarmed by it. Should I be? I leave for Hawaii on Saturday, but I worry about what I find when I get there with the flash flooding they've been having and all the flood damage to mom's apartment. I guess it gives me reason, once again, to focus on those things that are most important. (Am I bad for just praying I have a bed and a TV to overuse while I'm there, to catch up on much needed R&R?!?) Well, until next time, all my best!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas with Harry Potter!

Yes, I'm going to post before I leave work today. First off, I allowed myself an hour last night to read and was able to finish Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. A student of mine was packing it around, and when I asked her if it was any good, she shrugged!?! I then saw some comments posted on author blogs about McCafferty's novels and thought I'd give them a try.

Well, let me just say that the author has written for Cosmo, which is not exactly ideal reading material for teens. Now I'm not a big prude, but will say that this novel had me floored (not in a positive way...) by all of the sexual references. I may not realize, completely, how rampant sexual experimentation is for my students, but I KNOW that it's not as flagrant, nor as common, as written about in this novel. The story is basically about a girl whose best friend moves away, becomes friends or is forced to hang out with a new group of girls (who she detests and find shallow), and who tells the story chronologically by month during her sophomore/junior years. It has your typical angst over boys (more about sex & drugs actually), disconnection from parents and siblings, and a snarky view of the world--feeling they are somehow the unique one in a pond full of copycat goldfish (when in reality, most teens think this is them).

Honestly, I wasn't okay with the gratuitous nature of the story--obsessed with losing one's virginity--and wondered at times if there was a point???'re left with a huge cliff hanger at the end of the novel that has forced me to put book two on hold so that I can see what happens. I have a feeling I'll be ticked at myself for spending time on this when I have so many others I need to be reading, but I at least want to know what happens!

On another note...our book club choice was in MY hands this month! :) I wanted something fun, and possibly Christmas-like, but have to admit that the choices for "Christmas" books out there left little to be desired. Having said that, I decided I'm ready to dive into my "Adult" British versions of Harry Potter, so I chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone--British, adult version--as our read of the month.

I've actually been pretty excited about reading this version ever since one of my favorite professors at K-State mentioned in a grad class that we should read the British versions for the differences in language. So, if you're a Harry Potter fan at all (hurrah, as am I!), then enjoy your dive into this magical story. (I have a feeling I'll be reading well beyond book 1 though!) Too bad these aren't available yet on my Kindle!!! :(

Also, don't forget to pick up your copy of the new Tales of the Beedle Bard by J.K. Rowling, that came out last Thursday. My copy arrived on my doorstep yesterday evening, and I'm excited to read these "children's tales" as something new.

Anyway, until then...Happy Holidays to all, and to all happy reading!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Empowerment...I Guess

It's always hard gearing back up after a break, but I know that I have three weeks (two at this point) until I leave for Hawaii!!! I can't believe how quickly the past four months have sped on by. Yes, I can see that the final six of this school year will also pass by in a scary way. Can I just say though how much I'm enjoying teaching this year? I know it's odd for me, since I usually only complain out of my exhaustion, but I really did want to mention how much I'm enjoying my classes this year. Whew...reassures me again that even though teachers get paid very little, that I'm doing something I actually enjoy.

Well, at the end of the break, I'd started The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I'd read about it somewhere--can't remember where now--and picked it up at the library. At the end of Thanksgiving Break, I was watching a Book Award show on CNN and noticed that this novel won an award for young adult fiction, so thought I'd better get to reading it.

Frankie is the central, female, teenage character of the novel, who attends boarding school with multiple other teenage characters who come from wealthy families. As a prestigious boarding school, it is rife with the typical academic banter and study groups, but is the secret society element that seems to be central to the novel. Early on, Frankie begins dating a popular young man, who allows Frankie to be part of the "gang" of boys that all hang together--and each has a girlfriend more as a "rite" than anything else. Frankie quickly notices that she is constantly discounted because she is a girl, and as a teenager who is riddled with angst, she always second guesses her role with her boyfriend and his friends. Eventually, Frankie gets somewhat fed up of being a second class citizen in her relationship and begins tagging her boyfriend to his "secret" meetings and soon find herself in the middle of a secret society, armed with a secret weapon, and able to wield a little bit of power behind everyone's back.

I'm still not 100% sure if I like this novel or not. The feminist bent to the story grated on my nerves a little, and that's hard to do with me!!! I think it was the fact that it was so blatantly stated or shown, over and over again, that annoyed me. This is my question though. Did the author do that as a way of focusing her young readers in on an issue that they might not acknowledge--gender discrepancy. I'm not sure. I did cheer Frankie on through those last 100 pages, but will have to stew on this one a little longer to decide how I feel about the novel as a whole.

Off to grade and get more work done! Mahalo!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Late Show - A Monkey Sneezing

As I sat around with my family on Thanksgiving Night, we watched Dave's Late Show and laughed our stuffing-filled selves every time he played this clip. I'm sorry, but is pretty dang cute and funny!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm grouchy today. Why am I grouchy, when I've had 10 days off and didn't touch one bit of my grading? Oh wait...I'm grouchy BECAUSE I had 10 days off and didn't touch my grading. I get it now. I already miss my boyfriend Kindle. Maybe this weekend he and I can fix a date?!?