Thursday, February 26, 2009

Revenge and Tess

Yes, I should be in bed, but about two hours ago I hopped online to check on an assignment for a student, and he reamed me out on every response...for no reason! Since I don't have kids, I suppose this is what then keeps me up at students. Man, do I need a life!

Anyway, I didn't mention that I've been catching up on various BBC films while I've been grading lately. Over the weekend, I watched the new release (actually not BBC) of Brideshead Revisited, which is a look at the last of the British aristocracy and their fight with maintaining social norms, family expectations, and religious pressures. It's not a feel-good sort of film, but I have to say that I really liked it because it made me want to go back to graduate school again and be in my Contemporary British Fiction class. discuss the impact of class structure on everything from basic friendships to gender identity was pretty fascinating. It's a bit deep and dark, so I can't say that I can recommend it to anyone interested in light and peaceful. For me though, the issues left me thinking long after the movie was over.

I also watched the film version of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. It is an amazing piece of cinematography, with beautiful landscapes and vibrant colors. The story is very nicely portrayed here as well, so overall, I really loved their keeping to the heart of Hardy's novel...especially since it's one of my favorite stories.

Once again, not a happy-ending sort of film, but holy cow...what a treasure of ideas and musings! I'm supposed to be throwing a film night for my AP students, next weekend. So here's the problem, towards the end of the film, a male character hops out of bed buck naked, to stand in front of the window to stare out at the "morning after." It's not really part of the story, but we know how creative license occurs. My problem is that I have to watch out for it when I know my students will be wanting to watch the film. Of course, now I'll be a huge Nervous Nelly, because I'll have to be right on my tiptoes to skip ahead long before we hit that scene! (P.S. Not a cute booty shot either!) Anyway, I do still think this is the best of all the Tess films I've seen.

To finish off, I wanted to share a book I finished tonight. Yes, after a hideous week of long hours so far...getting to work this morning at 6:30 am, I rushed home to read and unwind. I needed to finish Jo Barrett's novel This is How it Happened, so I pushed through to get it read and returned to the library.
The basic premise of this novel is that her ex-boyfriend basically used her the entire time they were together, to the point where he gets her fired from her job, steals her files of ideas, and makes it almost so that she can't get work again. The book opens with her spiking brownies with poison, and thereafter trying to come up with every possible way of getting even known to man. So, I can't say that the emotions she expressed in these scenes as being totally unfamiliar to me, so I felt for her. The bad side here is that I didn't necessarily like her or any other character all that much, so I didn't really believe the story as a whole. I've read another of Barrett's novels, which I remember being a so, so read for me at the time. Her narrative style and ideas are good, but somewhere in the middle of it all, I simply don't end up relating to the female leads she creates, and then don't like the story. Overall, not my favorite read, but okay.

Well, having said all this, I have to admit that I've had a horrible craving for my old graduate school fare. I went down and dug through my old Native American novels and books of theory, and literally felt a painful twinge in my chest. What I wouldn't give to be studying literature again! So I grabbed an armload of books and hauled them up to my already overrun room, in the hopes that I can read some Eldrich soon!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I worked ALL DAY yesterday. Skipped breakfast (which I NEVER do), ate leftover biryani while I photocopied lesson materials, stayed at work until 7 pm to grade, drove home in silence (too tired to beebop to music), took 40 minutes off to eat dinner, then went right into grading online stuff. Finished my night by climbing into bed with 16 AP essays that still need grading. Still have a stack of work to grade that officially measures over 6 inches tall. Sigh...sorry, just have to gripe.

Next time you hear someone complain about the education system today, or that teachers don't do like the Stooges and poke their eyes out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Celine Dion Concert & HOT Captain Wentworth!

What a crazy couple of weeks! Some days I feel that I have the most mundane, unimportant life ever, and other days I still feel that way....but feel as though I'm flying by the seat of my pants from one second to the next. There are so many things I overlook! I've had Valentine's cards since the second week of January, and STILL haven't mailed them. I have a couple of packages I need to mail, but just don't want to face that silly post office after work. Sigh. I'm feeling a bit like a lost cause. How do people do it all, and why can't I?!?

Anyway, I HAVE been reading, as it's really my one way of letting go of my stress and frustrations, but I haven't read anything of great importance lately. I'll quickly review a book I listened to on my drive to and from work though. Sleeping Arrangments, by Madeleine Wickham, was rather interesting. Wickham is actually Sophie Kinsella, the author of the Shopaholic series and others, which I really loved. Anyway, I'm not sure about her Wickham novels. I'm wondering why she's publishing these under this new name? Although, I have to say that for the two I've read/listened to, I haven't liked them as well as her Kinsella novels. Anyway...the story is about two families both promised a vacation stay at their friend's vacation home in Spain. The problem is, he doesn't tell them he double-booked them. The husband of the one couple, and the "girlfriend" (since they've been together for like 15 years but never married) of the other were once a couple that had a sad falling out and misunderstanding. You think that the story is going to be about the two of them leaving their spouses/partners and children to go with the other, so you watch to see what the background story is that's driving them together (and secretly wonder what is wrong with these two!?! just want them to get a grip).

To be quite honest, it was a bit jumbled in its telling. The two main characters bounced back and forth between mature clarity, and sappy romantic sympathies for one another so often that I had no faith in the development of the characters; you didn't honestly feel that these characters were reflective of real people that might be in this situation. I don't know...if I ran into my ex with his family some day down the road, I'd be more likely to run him over with my car than trying to hook up with him! :) So, not my favorite Kinsella novel...but interesting story idea.

Besides feeling paralyzed by the barrage of papers I have to grade, the daily demands of students, and all the "adult" problems of bills and household, I've been just trying to figure out my headache issue. I think I can isolate what's causing them, but I'm seriously going to beg for a lobotomy soon if they won't stop slowing me down! Anyway, I bought tickets for Celine Dion's world tour about a year and a half ago for my mom as a Christmas present. Well, mom arrived in November for the concert, but it ended up being cancelled until this past weekend, so Doc got to go with me to it. Besides starting at 8 pm (yes, I'm feeling like an old person...with a 5:15 am wake up call every day, anything that late is a nightmare), I downed a bunch of Advil to ward off the headache sure to come with those hideous noise levels you get at these concerts, and off we went. What can I say? Celine is a brilliant performer and amazing talent. She sang acapella a couple of times, showing that it really is her voice, which was AMAZING. She would sing her songs, climb these ramps, and hit high notes as if it was nothing! Honestly, she's one of the best, most talented vocalists that I've ever heard. In the end, she didn't sing one of my favorite "get me going" songs "That's the Way it is," but overall, she sang so many great ones that I love, that it didn't matter too much. In fact, she sang her duet with Andrea Boccelli, "The Prayer," which honestly got me through BYU after my dad died. These giant screens dropped to show Boccelli (since he obviously wasn't going to fly in for one song), and she sang the duet with him. SO BEAUTIFUL. Anyway, it was really great, and I'm sad my mom had to miss it. She would have told me it was too loud though.

Oh, so last week we had registrations for next year. To do that, they took all my juniors during English class. So in my AP classes, I let my seniors watch a Regency film to coincide with our reading of Tess. Being the loving teacher that I am, and SINGLE, I suggested (highly) that we watch the new version of Persuasion. If you haven't seen it yet...RUN to see it. It's SO good. Sigh... Makes me so happy. Unfortunately, I let it slip a couple of times how hot I think Captain Wentworth is in this version. Hot, hot, hot. I have to say though that I did have students (yes, all girls) that stayed after class to see the end of the movie, and those who couldn't have been begging me to bring it back to school and show them the ending. A couple of the boys in my classes said, "I don't get why you all think he's so hot!?!" One girl remarked, "He loved her for 8 years!!!" :) They made me giggle a little. I need to watch more of these films with my AP students. Their insights are so funny sometimes! Sigh... So, my recommendation for this week is to pick up the newest BBC remakes of Jane Austen classics. I obviously, and especially, loved Persuasion, so there you go!

Well, I have to run. I'm at always. I need to get myself together for class today, so I better run. Until next time...adios!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Saving Money

Well...after a weekend in Vegas with Doc, I'm rethinking thrift and how to tighten my belt after spending more than I would have liked. It was a GREAT weekend, and I really had a lot of fun (walked my buns off!!!), but now I need to save money like crazy so that I don't let my one many-hundred dollar weekend get the better of my budget. Having said that, I noticed an article about how to save money from this "Dumb Little Man" site (crazy name for a site there). Anyway, I'm listing his suggestions for saving thousands a year:

Here are his choices, and my answer...maybe I need to rethink my life's priorities???

1. Brown bag lunches--Already do this. I don't have time to do otherwise with my job!

2. Go Vegetarian--When you're single, buying salad is almost like throwing money down the just can't eat the lettuce that quickly unless you eat your next three to four meals as all salad. Besides, I don't eat meat all the time. Pasta and rice are more my fare.

3. Switch to store brands--Some things are okay...others not. Does clipping coupons to make name brands, store brands prices count?

4. Take a thermos--I don't know that I drink anything that requires a thermos???

5. Leave your gym--NO WAY!!! That's asking me to let go, gain the hundreds my body seems to want--not to mention the health issues. My mom would FLIP OUT if I stopped going to the gym!

6. Don't buy greeting cards--I don't buy a lot of cards, but I could back this one up if the few I actually send out cards to (grandma & grandpa, aunts, and mom) wouldn't think I'd given up and didn't love them anymore!

7. Buy non-perishable food in bulk--I've kind of done this. Once again...when you're single and share storage space with a roommate, this can be tricky.

8. Switch off the lights and TV--This one I need to do. I tend to leave a light on in my room when I get home so that I never have to cross the room to switch the light on. I also leave my TV on when I'm puttering around upstairs, all for the noise. I guess I should stop!

9. Get your home choices there.

10. Buy clothes on E-bay--I do a HUGE amount of my shopping at TJ Maxx, so I think I'm doing okay here. My only exception is my once a year trek to Kohl's and Macy's for nice school stuff.

11. Use the library--ADDICTED to the library. Although, I will admit that I still collect, purchase, and download to my Kindle, books that I really want. I do need to chill on this one.

12. Read newspapers online--Yes, I pretty much read my news online all the time, and check out news on TV on a daily basis.

13. Host weekly get together--I can see what he means if you go out to eat all the time. I DO tend to get together every other weekend or several weekends a month with Doc, and we tend to go out to eat. So, does that mean he wants me to cook for us???

14. Car-pool--NO WAY! My car gets the same gas mileage as a hybrid, and it's paid for. I really can't beat being able to have the freedom to come and go as I need from work.

15. Buy multi-packs of chips and cookies. --Umm, I don't think this is a good idea! :)

16. Buy from Amazon.--I'm a Prime member here, as I order things using my school account. However, Amazon can be addicting as well...especially when you own a Kindle and LOVE reading. The other downfall here is that I've had some real NIGHTMARE stories about UPS and DHL. In my opinion, the USPS is the only way to go anymore. The other shipping companies just give you too much of a run around and don't seem to care about their customers. (Yes, I have stories to back that!)

17. Carry a water bottle.--I've done this for years, so no savings there.

I guess in the end, I have to just evaluate my own spending and cut accordingly. For me:

  • Cook at home, saving leftovers by freezing and putting into serving sizes for later.
  • Limit book & other purchases through Amazon.
  • USE the gym consistently so that money is well spent and keeps medical bills down ( joke there).
I'm sure there are other ways of cutting back. I need to just tighten my belt and not spend unnecessarily. Thank goodness I have a good, steady job, so I need to be thankful and make do and wear it a wise man once advised! :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Late Library Loot

I actually headed to the library last week and returned a few things, picked up a few things, and all that jazz, but since I've been sick...yes, ongoing still this week...I haven't felt up to posting or had time. Midterms are due today, and yes, I'm behind with those as well. So why am I posting?!? Well, after grading all evening last night, I felt like I wanted just 15 minutes to make a post. Sigh... Isn't it funny that posting a little something becomes my break? :)

Anyway, I picked up a really cute book called How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbaleister. I'd read about this little book on someone else's blog and put it on hold at the library. Who knows when I can read it, but I have it sitting in my room, cheerfully waiting on me.

I also couldn't resist this yummy looking cookbook that was set up on the non-fiction viewing shelves. The cookbook Osteria is supposed to mean some small Italian tavern. All I know is that this beautiful bowl of pasta looked amazing, and if I had the time to spend cooking it up, I'd love to try my hand at it! Honestly, I just love cookbooks. They're so great. The added bonus to them is that I don't have to buy cookbooks for my favorite chefs. I can check out their cookbooks, and if I really do like them...THEN I can make a purchase.

Well, I really must be off to do midterms. *Sigh* Until later...adios!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Little Bit Sick & A GREAT Read

Yes, I've been sick. Now I realize that no one really cares. We like hearing stories about people's illnesses about as much as being ill ourselves. However, I have to say that it has totally impeded by life this past week. I've had a wee problem with migraines the past three months, and it has really gotten out of hand. My doctor gave me things to try, but the side affects have been monstrous (semi-heart attack feeling in one) in almost every case. So, on Saturday I had to administer a practice AP test for about 22 of my students who NEED to see how a full-length test will feel. They were 30 minutes into it when I felt my stomach lurch...ran to "chuck it up" (sorry, no nice way there...), and then proceeded to, over the next three hours, run back and forth about 5 more times. By the time the students all left, and I talked the other teacher into locking me into the library so I could sleep a little on the couch there, I knew it was bad. Well, to make a long story short, I made Doc take me to a walk in clinic for IV fluids, some injection for my headache, and phenegran (drug straight from God above) for the nausea.

Today I'm doing 100%, so I'm happy to be back on track and hope not to repeat that again. This is the second time though that I've had to go get IVs for this sort of thing. NOT COOL!

Well, I did get a couple of REALLY GREAT books read this last week. The first one was A Hopeless Romantic, which I mentioned earlier. I actually finished this one on Thursday while I was resting from that medicine that gave me chest pains! :) Honestly, I haven't read a "chick-lit" novel that had me so early on in the game.
The basic premise of the novel is about a girl who always chooses the wrong guy, hopes or wants for him to change into her perfect match, and pushes away all her friends in the process. (Why did that feel familiar to me...I wonder!) In an effort to turn over a new leaf, she decides to de-romanticize her life of all that she feels has led her into her hearts and flowers landscape, with all of its larger than life expectations. Having decided to change, she goes on holiday with her parents to the British countryside, to celebrate her nans birthday. On a visit to a beautiful, historic manor home, she meets a young man that helps run the estate, and the two become fast friends. She, however, refuses to let her romantic heart get the better of her, and cuts it short of any sort of romance.

Honestly, I can't say more, but let's just say that for was like a walk in a flower-strewn garden. Maybe reading it in about two sittings did it for me, but I really got sucked into this story, and really wanted all the best for these characters. This was just such a joy to read, and gave me GREAT HOPE! :)
I also read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. What a fun little novella! I read about this on one of the reader blogs I follow, and decided to pick it up at the library. Well, it has sat here for quite some time, but literally only took me about an hour to read. The basic premise is that the Queen (of England) is out walking her dogs when she runs into a Book-mobile parked on the side entrance of the palace. She enters it, finds a young kitchen worker picking out a book, and decides to follow suit. Having never really read for pleasure, she chooses a book and then spends the rest of the week captivated by the world the book presents her. She returns the book that next week, and decides to read another, and then she's off! In the process of falling in love with a couple of books, she becomes a constant reader that must fill her appetite for novels, authors, and themes with more all the time! The problem lies in the fact that those around her see it as a selfish activity that takes her away from her work, and thus the story unfolds. Honestly, I'd never thought of reading as selfish, but I guess it really could be that way. This novella definitely made me rethink all the things that I love about reading as I watched the Queen fall in love with reading for the first time. Such a fun, quick read! Honestly, I want to read it out loud, as it seems to be meant to be read that way.

Well, until I get more read, or get another illness to force me into a supine position wherein reading is applicable, then I'll see you when I see you! :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Author Bashing

Okay, I have to admit that I REALLY HATE when authors do this (see link to article)...when they discredit another writer and say that they are crap. If you haven't heard, Stephen King said in a recent interview that Stephenie Meyer was a bad writer. Now I'm not going to say "yea" or "nay" on that, but will say, as I've always admitted, that there are writers who are good STORYTELLERS (and yes, I think even King falls in this category), and authors who are talented writers (and let's be honest...sometimes they don't tell very interesting stories). I think there is a viable place for both types of authors, and can't stand it especially when we bash popular authors that have actually gotten my students to READ!!! Publishing is tough anyway, so why condemn an author who found an audience and was able to reach a whole new reading audience.? Thank goodness for the J.K. Rowlings, Stephenie Meyers, and even Stephen Kings for reaching out to my students, and giving them a reading experience that they seek after again. And no...I still don't like most "Christian" fiction, but I definitely don't bash it publicly, because if it speaks to someone and gets them to read, then I'm all good!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Tuesday

The students are testing today, and since I've been like a mad woman with preparing two novels to teach in class (which is why I haven't had a chance to read much on my own), revising my AP audit, grading new things for my online course (English 12...reading a DeFoe novel, which I've never read before), and trying to read AP & English 11 essay have all just about done my personal time in completely. Actually though, believe it or not, I'm enjoying teaching still, and I have liked being overly busy so that I don't have too much free, nutty time!

Well, I am reading a great book for fun though, in the midst of everything, called A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans. I'll review it later, but this 500+ page novel feels like a walk down a flower-strewn lane in the lake country. Okay, so it's not, but it feels that way to me whenever I get a chance to read it! I'll review later, but so far, I'm really loving the escape.

I did finish reading a novel this weekend that I've renewed TWICE and was finally overdue but had a million holds. The novel was Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young, and is the British novel that the movie "Wedding Date" with Debra Messing played in a year or to ago. (I'm not really sure why they chose underwear for the makes no sense and nothing to do with anything in the novel!)
I usually really love Brit writers, but this particular novel, really seemed to drag in places and detailed too many people at times. To be quite honest, I've already lost some of the plot in with my new novel (also set in England), but I can say that it's about a woman who has to pay an escort to go with her to her sister's wedding so that they think she has a boyfriend. (Man, I ought to try that one!) As with any good chick lit., there end up being a lot of misunderstandings, lies told out of embarrassment at one's life circumstances (i.e. single status, job, etc.), and a cute romance in the end. It wasn't my top pick, as the middle dragged along a bit, but I still liked the way it turned out.

As for my Library Loot...I picked up a number of books this week. I had read a review about a YA novel called How to Ditch Your Fairy, by Justine Larbalestier, and picked it up to try out. I'm sure it will be awhile, but it looks really cute. I also got the audio book Sleeping Arrangements, by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella). I'm not as big a fan of the Wickham novels, but I so loved everything Kinsella wrote (i.e. Shopaholic series), that I wanted to hear her newest novel on my drive to and from work. I also picked up King of Queens, Season 3. SO FUN! Kevin James is just so stinking funny, and I love the old grandpa living with them. While doing a bit of grading last night, I watched an episode where Kevin's character is laid off and decides to substitute teach at a high school for some extra work. HILARIOUS!!! The kids eat him alive, and he flips out on them. He's actually not exaggerating the environment at all, especially if not handled correctly. I've grown to love teaching again, but if you're at all unprepared or not dedicated, it will swallow you and then spit you out again! :)

Well, I must go circulate among the test takers, and then write a couple of quizzes for later today. All my best, and Mahalo!