Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A book problem.

So here's my problem. There are too many books around me that need to be read.


Yes, need.  I need to read them all.  Right now.

I don't usually let them pile up like this because I start to get kind of anxious about getting through all of them and it starts to feel like summer reading.  I usually only let myself read one physical book and listen to one audio book at a time or I start to feel overwhelmed.  I had good intentions, but somehow I landed myself in this space where I'm simultaneously reading like three different things and I've got another nine billion standing there, tapping their toes at me.  Of course I have time and brain cells to be reading only about 1 thing at a time.


So anyway, here's what I've got going all at once in Book Town.  Try not to laugh.

First of all, I accepted failure this afternoon and I returned Zadie Smith's White Teeth to the library.  I just can't make myself like that book, and no amount of personal pep-talking is going to get me through it.  So for the record, I bowed out at about page 200.  If I really decide I want to go back and finish that sucker, it's still on my Audible account.  Or I could check it out again.  But I was not feelin' it.  The good girl part of me (that part is about 98% of me, if you're wondering) feels really bad about not finishing something, and the only other book I couldn't finish in recent history was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo... but I'm trying to tell myself it's going to be fine and they don't hand out Incompletes in life.

I've still got a little less than two hours of Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists to listen to.  That book, I like.  But most of what I've listened to, I've listened to in the dentist's office this winter, so when I tried to play it at the gym on Monday, it made me feel all heeby jeeby.  I will hopefully finish this one in the next few weeks, and I can say that it's been enjoyable.  But I'd be glad to finish it up soon.

I started listening to Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Monday morning.  I really like it.  I don't know why I started another audio book when I wasn't finished with the one before; I have no excuses for myself.  I think since it's a short little book I figured it couldn't hurt anything too bad.

A while ago when I was stuck somewhere with my Kindle, which is mostly full of books I've already read but also full of (free) classics I should read for the first time or read again, I started reading Pride and Prejudice.  I've strayed from Austen lately (got tired of listening to 18 year olds talk about Mr. Darcy) and I thought it might be nice to go back and rediscover this little gem.  I'd like to conquer the nagging association I have with bad AP English 12 presentations and this book.  And bad AP English 12 essays and this book.  And bad AP English 12 literary analysis and this book.  So I started reading that and I'm, like, 50 pages in.  I'm just trying to read it for pleasure and so far that's going okay.  I'm hoping to be reconverted to Austenism by the time I finish.

Surprisingly, I don't have any Kindle library books on my Kindle right now.  There was a weird screw-up with my card number and I missed a couple of my books when they came up.  I think I'm on the waiting list for about 42 things but none of them have been available lately.

BUT... I couldn't help myself when I took the monkeys to the library today and I saw Karen Russel's Swamplandia and Steve Martin's (yes, that Steve Martin) An Object of Beauty just sitting there on the "new books" shelf.  WANT.  So I checked those suckers out.  Why?  Because obviously I have hours and hours of free time to lay around reading things that are due by February 20th or I will pay a fine, thank you very much.  Three cheers for kickin' it old school with books with pages.  Sigh.

Oh, and did I mention that last night E downloaded Lamb and he's been laughing so hard ever since that he says I have to read it?  Yeah.  Add that one to the list, too.  And Middlesex?  I've been wanting to read that for a while.  I scored a copy at a used bookstore for my classroom, then I promptly brought it home because I thought hey, I should read this.  Same goes for East of Eden.

See? I have a book problem.  That's just the list of books I physically have access to at this moment.  Forget about all the others on my "want to read" list.  Sheesh.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Well, today is an example of win some, lose some.  I'm home on my couch instead of wrapping up my third period class.  Even though I did find the fortitude to drag my (still sick) butt out of bed at 4:15 this morning to go run at the gym, I came home to a sick Roo.  So I ran (well, run/walked) my 3 miles but I was benched for the rest of the day and I had to call a sub.  E's home too--he had a doctors' appointment but he couldn't take Addie--so it's kind of a strange weekday.

Photo on 12-8-11 at 10.22 AM
This morning, just for fun, I'm linking up with Chelsy at The Paper Mama for her Currently post, inspired by the Currently posts at Sometimes Sweet.  I enjoy both blogs, and it it was nice inspiration for my weirdo day off.

Obsessing over… Breaking Bad.  E and I started watching episode 1 of season 1 on Christmas Eve.  Last night we finished the last episode of season 4, which takes us through the current seasons.  I like it a lot, but probably not as much as E.  Sometimes it's a little gruesome for my tastes, but it's an interesting idea.  I really felt like the writing got better in season 4 and I liked where it was headed.  I have no idea where it's going to go in season 5 and now I just have to sit and wait like everyone else watching the series.  (And while I'm talking TV, I have a new interest: Alcatraz.  E wanted to give up in the middle of the pilot because he said it was too much like Lost.  I'll admit I see the similarities in how it's filmed and what kind of show it is, but it's different enough--and interesting enough--that I'm hooked.  I felt like the second and third episodes were good.  I'm hoping it keeps up.)


Working on… many things.  I just finished a short story for grad school a few weeks ago called An Accusation, based around the idea that in education it doesn't matter what you really do (or are), only what your reputation is.  I just got it back and I'm going to rework (or add) a new ending.  I'm also working on a stack of 58 essays by my seniors today since I'm home.  I'm trying a new grading method where I don't write comments but instead track student areas for improvement on a spreadsheet so I can figure out what to reteach.  We'll see how it goes or if I just end up getting so excited about making a chart that I procrastinate on the actual grading.  (I have a prediction.)  I'm also working on getting us back to healthier eating around here.  We had a really good weekend of good food (and vegetables!) and I want to keep it up during the week.  That means planning, planning, prepping and planning meals.

Thinking about… running.  This morning at the gym I started listening to Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  Not only is it a pretty easy read (listen?), it's interesting to listen to someone talk about running from a writer's perspective.  As you can imagine, it strikes a chord.  I'm signed up for the Inaugural Running of the Elk Half Marathon on April 1st, so I'm hoping I can muster enough excitement about running to get me there again.

Anticipating… lunch time.  When I have a fridge full of good stuff I get way too excited about eating.  And since I didn't know I was going to be home today, my lunch is already made.  All I have to do is go get it.

Listening to… Everloving station on Pandora.  I find myself writing to it a lot lately.

Eating… edamame and drinking Zen tea.  Green theme!

Wishing… I didn't have anything else to do except write today.  And nap.  Definitely nap.  This is my last sub day for the year (sad panda!) and I feel like I should be doing something way more awesome than grading.  But I don't really think that's in the cards.  I better get moving.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Costco, Tequila, Running and Spoiled Pups

This has been another not-so-eventful weekend.  I spent yesterday doing the Grocery-Target-Costco run all day, and this morning I've been parked on my couch since about 6:00 AM.  But really, nothing in the world makes me happier than my fridge being full of good--healthy--food and my cup being full of hot coffee.  When I woke up this morning at 5:30 I had a moment of oh great, I'm awake early on a Sunday, but it passed when I realized that meant I got some quiet time by myself for a few hours before the rest of the house started to stir.  I didn't do much but clear out my DVR and play on Pinterest, but man was it nice.


Last night E and I went to Centro, because he knows I've been wanting to give some of their three million (slight hyperbole, but not much) tequilas a try since my sister told us about them at Christmas.  We had a great dinner--really good food--and some great infused tequilas.  I tried two (one sweet and fruity--in a margarita, the other spicy--just straight) and I was hooked.  I'm definitely going to be making some of my own this summer.  Like most nights we didn't talk about anything important, but it was good to hang out without the distractions of home and pets and chores.  I like going into Sacramento for a date, too, because I feel like I blend in.  I don't have to be Mrs. P.  If we go to dinner around here, the chances of me running into a student or student parent are pretty good.  Actually, most of the servers of the local restaurants are former students.  That's nice and all, but it makes me feel like I have to be on.  Last night I was just me, hanging out with my husband, blending in to the crowd.  Love.

I am grateful for down time this weekend, despite the fact that there's a pile of laundry staring at me.  I am such a homebody.  I'm glad I got away two out of the last four weekends; I like to take off even if it's with students, but nothing makes me feel more rested than a weekend of being home, seeing the kids, hanging out with friends and E, and prepping for the next week.  It feels like a big reset button.  I was in definite need of a reboot this weekend.

Lately I'm carrying around a big sack of guilt about the fact that I'm not running.  I'll get a momentary burst of inspiration and map out an entire run plan, and then I just can't make myself go do it.  I try to think about why it is that I can't make myself get up in the morning and do it, or lace up my shoes and go outside after school, and I just can't figure it out.  All I know is that I just don't want to.  That's pretty lame, I'm aware.  I've been trying to think about how I might adapt my routine (you know, remove the excuses) but everything I've tried so far hasn't worked because I manage to not go run no matter what plan I set out for myself.

The thing is, I need that alone time.  I'm feeling it quite a bit because I'm not in a place where automatic solitude is happening every day.  I'm also, as I told E in the kitchen the other night, starting to shake like a bowlful of jelly.  I worked really hard to get in shape in the fall for my marathon and a couple of half marathons... I fear that is all slipping away (if it hasn't done so already).  I need to get on it.  My jeans aren't going to hold out much longer and dammit I am not going to go up a size.  I was my fattest ever last February, and I don't want to fall back into that hole just because I'm being a big baby.

I don't know what I'm trying to say.  I need to just stop worrying about why and get over it.  I need to put on my shoes and get outside.


This guy is not helping me leave the house, but I'm glad he likes his new blanket.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting caught up.

Yikes, this has already been a long week. I found myself wishing it was over on three separate days.  Since we finished the science fair project, all was (relatively) well last night.  I decided to salute the days end and get reacquainted with the bottom of this glass.


And a couple of nights ago E and I also did some Breaking Bad-watching.  Anyone else watch that show?  We just started season four.  The reason I ask is that I want to punch Skyler in the face.  Also, Marie.  Well, and if we're being honest, I want to punch Hank in the face too.  So pretty much everyone except Walt or Jesse is annoying me.  But I kinda love that this show makes a teacher kind of a B.A., even if he is kind of breaking all kinds of laws.  Minor television detail.  Props to my chemistry teacher friends.


E snapped this one of me and Henry (below) last night.  Buddy boy figured out how to install Angry Birds on Google Chrome for free and he won't leave us alone about wanting to play it on our laptops.  At least he's not asking for his own personal Angry Birds Machine, or as I hear they're more accurately called, a Kindle Fire.  You know I'm right.


It's bugging me that I haven't been great about posting lately.  It's been a case of not wanting (or being able to) broadcast to the world what's on my mind.  But I've been channeling the desire to write into my recent stuff for school.  I suppose it's good it goes somewhere.

Tonight E is out picking up sushi and I think we're going to settle in for some good ol' fashioned Liz Lemon and company.  Love me some Thursday night TV, plus I haven't really watched anything else I recorded this week yet.  Stupid school.  Stupid being responsible.  I uploaded a packet last night, though, so this is the rare but highly celebrated free night where I get to feel really awesome about meeting a deadline.  Free night always comes a day or two before Oh My Gosh I Better Get Moving On My Next Deadline Day.

If I could only stop checking Blackboard obsessively to see if my fiction prof commented on my story, this night would be ten kinds of relaxing.

Peace and Beauty

CarmelCarmel 3Carmel 4AsilomarAsilomar 3

Last weekend I was chaperone to 12 high school kids on yet another Mock Trial field trip.  Those punks tried their darndest to give me some new grey hairs, but we made it through relatively unharmed.

On the way out of town we stopped to stand for a minute on the edge of the earth and soak in some ocean air.  We weren't there long, but man was it nice.

The ocean makes me feel small in a really good way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bad Mommy.

I'm going to break one of my personal blogging rules and say something I promised myself I wouldn't say.


I'm mad at my kid.

I don't typically let myself go there, but I think in the grand scheme this one isn't going to send her into therapy.  Or, at least, she'll find it charming enough when she's 30 that she won't mind that I complained about it to the world wide web.  Fingers crossed.

My girl is making me so angry.  Currently I'm sitting on the couch, foregoing a much-needed nap after a long day (after a long weekend)  while I wait for her to finish her homework.  Then we're starting night number two of Science Fair Extravaganza.  And that would be bad enough, in and of itself (what with my general lack of enthusiasm for science, right and wrong answers, kid projects that need parent-doing and, you know, work) but she's had six weeks to do this and she didn't tell me about it--at all--until Sunday night after I got home from Carmel.

Sunday night I was already exhausted from dealing with other people's children for three days.  When she told me she had a project due Wednesday (and why didn't she tell her father all weekend when I was gone?) I just about imploded right in the living room.

I have a packet of nonfiction work due on Wednesday, too.  I have not been procrastinating.  I've been working to schedule, but that schedule included a large chunk of hours Monday and Tuesday night that I'd spend wrapping things up, editing, and finishing critical papers.  Right now all of that is out the window.  If I would have known she had this due, at least I would have planned for that, too. I have no earthly idea when the work for my nonfiction class is going to get done, but I fear it's going to go something like this: "from three to five A.M. for the next two days."

I'm mad because I can't get mad and that is usually a pretty big trigger for my anxiety.  I can't get mad at her, though, or this thing won't get done and we'll all suffer.  Believe me, we all will.  When you're a teacher and your mom is a teacher and your kid goes to your mom's school, she's not going to not do the damn science fair project and get an A.  It just doesn't happen.  Like my dad always said, we don't get B's.

I'm also afraid that this demonstrates some kind of developing problem in her work habits, but I can't really deal with that right now, either.  There's no time to waste on long talks or crying jags.

The thing is that we have to focus on getting this done.  And yes, I mean we.  A fourth grader doesn't do any kind of project by herself.   Maybe I'm just exhausted from all the hours I put in editing her last project, a California Missions video.  I know there's no better way for kids to do stuff, but my patience is gone.  Hopefully E gets home soon and wants to take over again.

You have no idea how bad I want that nap.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Pweh, rain.

Pweh, cold. Pweh pweh, I'm grumpy.  Still.

But, I get to go back to Carmel tomorrow.  We can put that on the list of things that don't suck.  I'm traveling again with our Mock Trial team to a tournament.  If it just so happens to take me within a five mile radius of the beach, I won't complain.  A little ocean air ought to do me good, even if it's raining.  I'm going to go to bed early and think real hard about getting better.  This cold is not the business.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Food Network, I'm just not that into you.

Today. I'm not that into you today. I'm sure we'll resume our relationship again soon. But today Ina seems annoyingly smug about breaking into her friend's house to sneak them some truffle mac n cheese (Back to Basics, my ass, Ina!), Giada is way to excited about her arugula, and Rachel Ray needs a throat lozenge, stat.

I'm just cranky.

I was up all night with throat pains and I missed work today to go get a throat culture.  The doc kind of laughed at me for thinking I might have strep.  BUT I'M NOT CONGESTED, I SWEAR.  (Also I've had some back luck with strep in the past.)  She said I'm having some kind of inflammation in a "deep sinus" (what the heck is that?) and even though my nose and lungs and ears were okay, this was just plain ol' post-nasal drip.  Not that I'm disappointed to not have strep, but I love having things wrong with me that need antibiotics because it makes me feel like I'm doing something to cure it.  That's much better than waiting it out for people who are patience-challenged.

But no matter what, I still feel like crap.  So that's fun.  My throat hurts so I can't sleep.  I'm hungry, but OH YEAH, MY THROAT REALLY HURTS so it's not so pleasant to eat.


I'm trying to make the best of my day at home. Been laying low, watching Food Network (natch) and drinking lots of tea.  I just made myself a smoothie, too, so I don't pass out for lack of calorie intake.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Free day


Yesterday felt like summer.  This unseasonably warm and dry winter we're having is so strange.  I love it. I spent the day hanging out with my teaching buds but it was just sunny enough and just far enough away from home that I didn't feel like Mrs. P, just Heather.

We didn't make it off the porch to walk, but we gabbed away the entire day like it was nothing.  Even though I teach with so many of my friends, we barely ever get time to sit around and actually talk unless it's July or we go away.  It's the same for teachers as it is with kids--if your schedule doesn't line up with your friends' then you're SOL.  If you all have different lunches, well then, forget it.  You're not going to manage more than a quick hey, how are you? when you pass on your way to the bathroom during the five minutes you're allowed to pee.

And, really, there's something nice about coming together for good when so much in education is difficult right now.  I have a feeling that sharing this rough time with these awesome people is going to mean something in terms of how close we are.  I know we're going to look back on 2009/10/11/12 and say remember when we thought it was going to be that bad forever?  At least that's what I tell myself when we start to talk about pink slips every year.  And then I say another quick prayer for the economy and the state budget.

It's just nice to kick off my shoes and laugh all day.  I fall so comfortably back into my introversion that sometimes I convince myself it's easier not to hang out.  But then I spend a day with wonderful friends--good people, people I can trust--and I remember that having those people in my life is a wonderful thing.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

That's some sound bat logic.

Ah, Saturday. I'm sitting here staring at my Christmas tree. Yes, that's right. On January 14th, a full two weeks after what I am assuming is the socially-accepted Period of Allowable Holiday Tree Displaying.  Stop judging me.  Or at least do it quietly so I can't hear you.  Hopefully when E wakes up we'll get to it.  Maybe.


My fingers are cold while I type because this morning, instead of my normal Saturday morning piping-hot cuppa joe, I decided to go with what is usually a weekday breakfast, the bright green smoothie.*  The very one that both makes my children cringe and makes me feel like Batman.  Batman, you ask?  Yeah.  I remember few things about The Dark Knight, but I do remember it being over-hyped, and I remember Mr. Christian Bale shoving spinach into a blender for his daily dose of awesome.  Ergo, I am basically Batman.  ANYWAY.

*Today's green monster:
-1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
-1 tbsp almond butter
-2 cups fresh spinach
-1/2 frozen banana
-1/4 cup frozen blueberries
-1 tsp instant espresso
-3 ice cubes

Yesterday I finished all of the writing part of my first packet for Winter quarter, which is a feat since the quarter started on January 11th (Wednesday) and my packet of 20 pages of creative work and 2-3 critical papers is due on January 16th (this coming Monday).  Um.  Not a lot of time.  So as of yesterday everything is down on paper, and I'm just readin' and revisin', man.  Readin' and revisin'.

Oh, speaking of yesterday, I decided to make good on my threat to start a new campaign for modesty in my classroom.  I put my printer to good use and came up with this little gem:

After printing it I did discover that someone else beat me to the punch. Please enjoy this link.  And before you say but Heather, stretch pants/leggings/lycra/spandex tights ARE pants! I feel compelled to ask you if you are a male ballet dancer who is currently standing onstage dancing Act IV of Swan Lake.  Or if you are currently at mile 21 of a marathon.  When you answer no, I will feel compelled to share with you that the preceding incident which inspired the sign was seeing multiple ladies wearing sheer tights (like NYLON STOCKINGS) to class with only waist-length t-shirts or sweatshirts (that's right, I could see chonies!) in my presence.  I'm not even trying to deal with leggings yet.  But this tights as pants shit has got to stop.

And last night K and I saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which holds the distinction of being probably the only book in the last ten years I couldn't make myself finish.  The movie was really interesting, but boy was it disturbing.  I woke up last night about 2:30 AM from an awful dream, and I'm sure there's a direct correlation.  I quit reading the book because the details of the family lineage were so dry and hard to follow (read: boring) but in the movie that was all fine.  The rape scene just about put me over the edge, though, and I hadn't gotten that far in the book so I didn't know it was coming.  I don't think I could watch it again.  I'm not saying this means it was a bad movie.  It was definitely a good movie. I'm just saying it means I am a Grade A wimp with some anxiety issues.

Anyhoo... this promises to be a busy but fun weekend.  Today I'm going for some hiking (walking? drinking?) with friends and tomorrow I've got family pictures with the big fam and April's birthday dinner.  Monday we're heading to a party for ML's daughter, and then I'm meeting my friend Dorothy from residency for coffee and a little writing chat.

Aaand... CRAP.  I just realized that I left my draft of my short story in my desk drawer at work.  Yeah, the draft with all of the changes I need to make.  Perfect.  Maybe I shouldn't have been quite so smug.  You know what that means.  To the Batmobile!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Supine Feline


Some cats have serious troubles.

Not my cats, though.

We (humans, not cats) just polished off a pot roast.  I tossed a roast and some potatoes in the crock last night (which I put in the fridge) and then I actually remembered to (take it out and) set it this morning.  Glory, hallelujah!  Nothing better than getting home at 6:00 to the smell of slow-cooked meat.

Even though I'm feeling bad, (I've got minor cold) I'm feeling good.  This afternoon I typed up the last of my next short story.  I have to submit it Monday.  E's reading it tonight and I'll spend the weekend making revisions.  I feel good about it, and I feel good about having it done.

Oh, and I didn't wear makeup today.  It was awesome.

Is it Friday yet?  No?  Almost.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Reads

So far this month I've read two great books.  I actually had to tell myself yesterday to slow down on the reading because I need to focus on getting some major writing done in the next week or so.  My quarter officially started today but my first packet of work is due next Monday.  Yikes and a half.

I'm also on a really nice, long streak of really good books. I'm feeling lucky to have this full-time assignment to read stuff.  Good things have been coming my way.

A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A little Wikipedia-ing tells me that this book was incredibly well-received.  It won the Pulitzer Prize and many, many other book awards in 2010 and 2011.  When it won the Pulitzer, it was optioned for an HBO series.  Of course I didn't know any of that when I read it, but I heard it mentioned at residency, so I added it to my library list.  I really enjoyed it.  It was different than anything else I've read.

A Visit From The Goon Squad is either a novel or a set of linked short stories.  Egan calls it a novel, but it isn't one in the traditional sense.  Things take place out of time, so you might know what happens to a character at the end of her life but then read a short piece on something she did when she was young.  I liked that, though.  Egan also has this way of using narrative summary to forecast where a character will be twenty or thirty years from the present scene, and it gives the action of the scene a different tone.  Each chapter is told from a different perspective, one even from second person point of view.  As a writer I can still barely wrap my head around that.

The link these characters all have is that they are mostly involved with the music industry.  But this is a novel that travels across decades and continents.  There was a lot here.  If I had to pick one thing I didn't like about it, I would say that I just didn't feel like I got to know the characters as well as in a traditional narrative.  Still, I feel like that was the point.

My recommendation: Definitely read.

The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown

Once I heard James Brown speak at residency in December, I knew I wanted to read his books.  He had such a refreshing and clear perspective on storytelling (his lecture was on truth in creative nonfiction) and he discussed many of the scenes in this book.  Brown comes from San Jose and moved to Los Angeles as a child.  His mom was an arsonist who served time and then moved Brown and his brother and sister to LA to be child actors.  All three children ended up using and living lives that reflect some major struggles.

I liked that this book was beautifully written but it didn't feel forced.  Brown has a very straightforward, engaging style.  His life is an interesting, sad combination of academia and drug use.  He managed to capture it in a way that didn't seem to glorify his trouble or to make it more glamorous than it actually was.  the book is a quick read.  I read the book in about one day, almost in one sitting.  I'm still trying to read more memoir.  His was a good choice.

My recommendation:  An interesting memoir about Los Angeles, acting, writing for Hollywood, addiction and self-awareness.  If you're looking for a good true story, I'd recommend this one too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Henry: Mom, I have to tell you something.

Me: Okay, Bud. What?

Henry: So, um, people in my class? They are in love.

Me: Really.  What's that look like?

Henry: Rohan and Divia.  They're... boyfriend and girlfriend.

Me: First grade is too young for boyfriend and girlfriend, Bud.  You can be friends with a girl, but no boyfriends and girlfriends until you're a lot older.

Henry:  Well, they don't talk to each other or anything, Mom.

How life is different in an MFA


I got an email a few days ago from a sweet woman wanting to know if I thought it was worth it to pursue an MFA with UCR. Short answer: YES.

Her email got me thinking about how my life is different since being in the program.  Aside from the more significant life-experience kind of changes, I can say that being in the program has impacted me in one major and tenable way.

You ready for it?  Here it is:

I carry a notebook, a good pen, and a book (or books) on me at all times.

Funny, right?  Not that any of that is super interesting, but it means my purse weighs more.  I find that when I don't bring all of those things with me, I regret it.  I'll hear a line that I want to use or I'll be stuck somewhere with time on my hands.  Time is pages, people!

That pink notebook, above?  It has 7 pages of a short story in it, scribbled out as I watched that Mock Trial competition last weekend.  It also has a cover page that says this:

"It was either get my eyebrows done or get a stats tutor.  I chose my grade."

"Back-filled behind Jesus and other stories"

"all mustard and no turkey"

"Babies make me mad."

"Smells like vinegar and pain."

All of those are snippets from conversations I've heard or pedestrian things I've read in the last week and mined for ideas.  I know none of them make any kind of particular sense, but they strike me as ideas that might make a good title or a good line.

Hopefully all this diligent toting of materials serves me well.

Monday, January 09, 2012



Days are blurring together, weekends into weeks. Busy times.

This weekend I was at a Mock Trial tournament with kids from school.  The same kids I traveled to New York with in October.  They're so easy.  It's kind of incredible to watch them compete.  I was so proud.  They're genuinely good kids and it's kind of nice to get to be with kids who aren't going to try to sneak off and do bad things.

But this afternoon I got some more fillings replaced.  Again.  So, there's that.  My mouth hurts.  Again.  It's hard to think of anything to write about.

The end.

Friday, January 06, 2012

His & Hers & His


Busy week. Sold our truck. Had a hell of a test-drive at a Chevy dealership (I'll have to write that one up soon because it is a doozy and deserves its own post) and test drove 3 different Hondas before making a late-night purchase of a zippy blue CRV last night. Our kids are troopers, though after a while Henry got creative about his reading technique at the dealership.  (I'm happy he's hooked on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Anything to make them want to keep reading, you know...)

This week has been d-r-a-i-n-i-n-g.  Errrrrrgh.  I hate making this blog about how tired I am, but DAMN. I am so effing tired, y'all.  Last night after we bought the car, I had to finalize Addie's Carmel Mission video, and then I had to set an alarm for 3:30 to get back up and burn the discs.  This was after the hours of editing I spent on it all last week... it was all too much on top of selling cars, buying cars... oh, and RETURNING TO WORK and having new students and a new semester.  Oh, and having a parent waiting for me outside my door when I got to work today... what?  Yay.

This morning when my alarm went off I had the urge to cry.  A very, very strong urge.  I hate being cry-tired.

Total naps for the week:  1.  That number is way too low for my standards.

But.  Addie presented her video today and she was as excited as I have ever seen her when I picked her up from school.  WORTH IT.

Tomorrow morning I leave early early for a Mock Trial tournament, but I'm pretty excited.  I miss the kids and we're starting to gear up for county (and hopefully, state) competition.  Should be a fun weekend, although it is bound to be... wait for it... more work.

Oh, and because I can't go anywhere without being a total dweeb, I left my damn library book on the chair at the nail salon tonight.  Freaking A.

But after I got home we had a small accomplishment.  E is grinning ear to ear tonight because for the first time in our three car garage ownership, we actually fit all three cars into our garage.  It goes a little something like this:


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 5:30 AM-8:37 PM

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Woke up. Gym. Audio book. 3 miles, run. Then half mile walk. Smoothie.  Then shower.  Then school.

Pretty sure I was halfway into my second class before I woke up, despite the copious amounts of caffeine in my system. My teeth hurt all day like a beast. I guess that's what five new fillings will do for you.  Today the school day felt really, really long.  I miss real life.  I'm not feeling like I'm Mrs. P yet... still feeling like Heather.  The show is a little rusty--my thoughts keep wandering to my book, cats, and couch at home.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Ready, set...

Back to work/school/grad school/running/routine tomorrow.

Today was not exactly as great as I'd hoped (see: dentist replacing five fillings rather than the three I thought she was going to do) but I came home from my 7:00 AM appointment and promptly slept until noon.  I can't remember the last time I slept until noon under any circumstances.

Our house is clean, our lunches are packed, our fridge is full, our meals are planned, the coffee maker is set to turn on in the morning.  Tonight I braised a pork shoulder.  Our bellies are full and we should have some nice taco meat later in the week.  I'm about to go lay out my clothes (and running gear) for the morning.

Sauté. Braise. Eat. Cooking up a pork roast tonight.
Onions for my pork shoulder roast

It feels like Sunday, and a good Sunday at that.  I love when I spend the day before the work week getting things prepped. It means there's a very good chance I'll have an excellent week--or at least if the week is hard, that I won't have to worry about any of the little stuff at home.  Such a nice peace of mind that comes with planning.

School (grad school, I mean) doesn't start until January 11th, but I am pretty sure my first due dates for packets will be January 16th and 18th.  I'm almost finished with books #5 and #6 for the first month, so I have the next couple of weeks to devote to just my writing.  That's a good thing, because since I spent my day mapping out a short story I haven't had time to really work on it.  This week I'm going to be spending my nights back at "the office," aka Starbucks, banging some stuff out on the keyboard.  I'm glad I have some direction.  Let's just hope that inspiration meets preparation.

This week is going to be an adjustment.  New students, one new class that I'm taking back over after having an excellent student teacher.  New shot at my old running routine.  I have a good feeling about what's ahead, though.  I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Goal-setting for 2012: Part II

Eh.  I kind of lost steam on the second half of these questions, but I promised myself I'd finish them.  I can't leave things undone, it bugs.  So here are the second half of my goals for 2012.  Enjoy.

IV. Goals for Your Children

1. What are ways you’d like each of your children to grow in the following areas?

a. Physically:

Addie:  I'd like Addie to either continue to run or to play some kind of team sport.

Henry: I would like Henry to figure out how to ride his bike without his training wheels.  (And, consequently, to stop being afraid to ride his bike.)

Actually, I typed that yesterday, when I started that post, and today he did it.  Check one goal off already. Score!

b. Emotionally:

I want to help Addie become more confident and to help her see just how awesome she is.  I want to help Henry let go of guilt about things he does.  Homeboy worries too much.

c. Relationally:

I really hope to get them both involved in some kind of group activities to widen their friend bases a little bit more.  I also hope we can get them together with the kids in our neighborhood a little bit more.  There are some great kids around here, but we we need to do some planning to make things happen.

d. Spiritually:

I could do a whole lot better of a job, here.  Just all around.

e. Educationally:

My kiddos excel in school, but I want to keep looking for ways to keep them curious outside of school.  More traveling, more exploring.  More adventures.  More reading.

f. Other:

2. How will your children be educated this year? What are some resources you’d like to explore to help your children develop intellectually and academically?

We're still at the same Elementary school and we all love it.  It's been a great school in terms of curriculum, discipline, and expectations.  As I said above, I'd like to continue to push them a little bit more at home.  Henry especially needs encouragement to read.  E and I are determined for both of our kids to be readers.  We need to find that kid a series and get him hooked, stat.

3. What are your children’s strengths? How will you help them use these well?

As I said last year, Addie is incredibly sensitive.  She pays attention to the slightest details.  I'd like to help her continue to find things (like running, riding bikes, playing) that help her to ease some of her anxiety, and to find creative ways to express all of the many, many things she is thinking all the time.

Henry's strength is his amazing ability to do math and solve puzzles.  That kid wows me on a regular basis.  I'd like to push him outside of video games and keep him interested in card games and board games and just about anything else where he has to flex the same muscle.  He loves to figure things out, and I think there are lots of ways to do that.

4. What are your children’s weaknesses? How will you help them overcome these?

Addie--making friends.  Henry--guilt.  Addie just needs more practice and she needs to be involved in a group activity so there are more opportunities to expand her friend circle.  We know she has more friends than she gives herself credit for, but she worries about it.  For Buddy, I want to help him get rid of whatever hang-up he has right now about having to confess every single bad thing or negative thought he has.  It's a tough balance for him to figure out, and right now he's so worried he's done something that will land him in trouble, he can't stop confessing.  We're working on it.

V. Money Matters

1. What is one specific area of progress you’d like to see this year in your financial health?

I'd like us to figure out how the heck we are going to move out of this too-small house in this not-as-awesome-as-it-used-to-be neighborhood.

2. How is your current income? In what ways can you make this increase?

Our current income is f-r-o-z-e-n.  Like I said yesterday, we work for the state and a school district.  Everybody gettin' pay freezes up in here.  Well, I guess that's not true.  E gets a raise at the end of next year, but he also has to pay more into retirement and I think he's still furloughed once a month... so... it's not going anywhere, is what I saying.  And I fully anticipate that I'll be teaching next year for a salary of five pennies and a health care plan of approximately three band-aids and a can of Bactine.  Lowering expectations in 5-4-3-2...

3. How much debt do you have? In what ways can you eliminate a sizeable portion of it (or all of it) this year?

Hi there.  We have a lot of debt.  Remember law school?  I am not going to tell you the number, Internet, but it would make you blush.  And not much makes you blush.  But it was important that he do that, so it's ours to deal with.  Plus that's a big part of why he works for the state--9 more years and then his loan is forgiven.  Win.

4. How is your savings account? In what ways can you save more money this year?

I repeat:  what's a saving's account?

5. What are some of your long-term financial goals? In what ways can you make progress on them this year?

We'd like to move and we're trying to decide if we're going to stay here until we're in our "someday" home or if there will be a stepping stone along the way.  It's looking more and more like there will be a stepping stone home, and that's fine with me.  Sometimes thinking about moving to property or out into the country (E's personal heaven) overwhelms me at this stage.  So maybe we look at movin' on up and we sort the rest out later int he future.  My goal here is to, as I said, figure out what we're going to do this year.

6. Are you giving regularly? If not, in what way can you give financially this year?

Not really.  I'll be honest and say I don't really feel like financial giving is something we can do.  So our giving will be more in things like what we did last year... coaching, etc.

7. What is your plan this month for starting progress towards better financial health?

Keep using a cash-only system for monthly expenses, keep paying down our debt.  Keep working on my master's program in the hopes that when our salary scale gets "unfrozen" I can move up a few steps.

VI. Relationships Outside the Home

1. In what specific way would you like to grow in relating to your friends this year?

I would like to a better job of following through.  Often a friend will just kind of drop off the radar and I don't really make as much of an effort to stay in contact as I should.  I know it's not possible to maintain all kinds of friendships all of the time, but there are people in my life who I don't see as often as I'd like.  But also (and I think this is related) I'd like to do a better job of not saying I'll do something when I don't think it's going to work out.  I'd rather be honest up front than have to let someone down later.

All of this to say I have the same goal as last year.  To be a better friend to the people in my life.

2. What are some ways you can be of service to your immediate community?

Hmm.  I feel like I get a whole lotta community in my job and sometimes that makes me negative.  But maybe there are ways to think outside of the box, here.  Perhaps thinking outside the box can be my goal. (Looking at last year I see that I didn't really know then, either.)

3. Who are some specific people in your life that can use some encouragement? What will you do to encourage them this year?

I have to go with the same answer, again.  My students.  High school is a difficult time for so many kids, and I think I can always have a more careful eye on the little souls in my room.  No matter how much I try to improve, there will always be kids in my classroom that I just don't get to know as much as I should.  I want to try to reach out more and listen more.  Notice more.  Ironically, the thing that most stands in the way of me doing this is my own introversion.  Since it's not natural for me to strike up a conversation with someone, I have to really push myself.  When kids are also introverted, it's a long bridge to cross.  I need to work harder.

4. Who are some people in your life that you admire? What are some practical ways you can positively use their influence in your life?

The older I get, the more I feel the importance of my and Eric's grandparents' influence upon our lives.  I know we're so lucky to have grandparents who are still alive and I know there is so much I can learn from them.  I'd like to make a regular effort to see all of our grandparents.  They are such a blessing.

5. Are there any damaging relationships in your life? What will you do this year to make these relationships better?

I'll state (again) for the record that I think this is a lousy way to end this list.  So negative.  But anyway.  Sure, there are negative, damaging relationships in my life.  But most of those are complete and utter necessities and I will never be completely free of people who piss me the heck off.  But that doesn't mean I have to fix people or that I have to take it.  So in light of my being unafraid in 2012, I will make a more concerted effort not to let people bother me who do not matter to me.  The end.

Source: etsy.com via Kiara on Pinterest

And in light of this "one little word" idea for resolutions, I present you with my one-word resolution for 2012:


In 2012 I want to stretch my imagination as a writer and I want to redefine my image of what life can be like for our little family.  So there you go.  It's kind of a kindergarten word, or a dopey teenage girl word, but I'm going to embrace it.

Happy New Year.

Goal-Setting for 2012: Part I

Yellow, there, 2012.  Oh, speaking of yellow and of 2012, I know you're dying to know what color the year is in my crazy head.  The answer is yellow-clear-white-yellow.  Very synesthetically pleasing, as was last year.  Let's hope the good colors bode well for a good year.

I am continuing with what I started last year: I'm going to answer these goal-setting questions for the upcoming year.  Not because I think you'll be fascinated, but because I did it last year and I had the best, most concrete and focused goals for the year and that helped me to get a lot done.  So you see, Internet, I'm just using you today so I can get something accomplished in 2012.  Feel free to read along or feel free to come back later when I post more pictures of my cats.  It's your deal, really.

The questions from Simple Mom are longish, though, so I'm breaking them into two parts again.  That seemed to work well last time.

Here we go.  Hold on to your hats and glasses, for this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness.  Not really.

2012 GOALS

I. Personal Growth

1. What healthy character traits would you like to see developed in your life this year? What are some specific steps you can take to develop these?

This year I have a very specific answer.  And pardon my French, but it's the best way to say it.  This year I would like to please stop being chickenshit around everyone.  I would like to please grow up and stop being afraid of people for everything under the sun.  Random and varied examples: What if that person hears what I have to say/write and they judge me?  What if that person thinks I am dumb/lazy/not smart enough/ugly/obnoxious?  What if that person doesn't like me?  What if I say/do the wrong thing?  What if I let that person down?

I would like to knock that shit off and grow a pair.  Jack Handey had it right.  I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.  And the ones who don't like me don't get me so I need to let that shit go.

Okay, I'm done swearing.  For a while.

2. What is your plan for maintaining accountability for progressing in personal growth?

Hmm.  Hard to gauge how I'll be accountable with this one, but I am sure I will know if I'm succeeding or not because if I am I won't be cowering under my covers, hiding from life.  I think the only way I'm going to make progress in that department is by continuing to push myself outside of the comfortable boundaries of my life.  (Read: pursuing school, reading, writing boldly, being awesome without apology.)

3. What are some of your learning goals for this year?

This year I'd like to continue to read a lot and write a lot.  A specific goal I have--one which, at this point is entirely for learning purposes rather than for purposes of actually getting anything out there yet--is to submit my writing.  (Basically, try to get published.)  Like I said, I don't think anything will happen, but I know I will learn a ton from just applying, which will help me to actually be published some day.

4. What books would you like to read this year?

Okay.  I have a giant list of things I want to read, and it changes almost daily.  But currently the next set up on the list are:

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (alredy started... finish it)
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachmann (already started... finish it)
White Teeth by Zadie Smith (already started... not liking too much, but have to finish it because that's how I am)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
just more of anything by David Sedaris
Drinking, A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Source: tumblr.com via Mareah on Pinterest

And I most definitely, 100% did not meet my other reading goal for last year, to start or join a book club.  I would still most definitely like to do this.  I need to get on it.

5. Do you enjoy your job or jobs (include being a stay-at-home mother, if this pertains to you)? If so, what are your favorite things about your work? If not, what are some ways you can change this?

Unfortunately, I was enjoying my job more last year.  The things about it that I don't like--shortages of money for supplies, too many kids in each class, tough times for teachers when it comes to respect--have an impact on the classroom, but they don't have much to do with what I can do when I'm up in front of a class.  I suppose my goal is just to keep my head down and just keep teaching and pray really hard that the economy gets better in the near future.

II. Physical Health

1. What is one area of progress you’d like to see this year for maintaining or improving your physical health?

I would like to run. Regularly.  Increase my running speed, maybe just a little.  I'd like to maintain flexibility so I can keep running.  I would like to build strength.

2. What are some tangible, daily choices you can add to your life that will improve your health?

I can lace up my shoes and get out the door at least 3 days a week.  I can stretch after I run and make sure I foam roll.  I can work weights into my gym routine.  It's that easy, even though it isn't.

3. In what way would you like to be physically healthier by December of this year?

By December of 2012 I'd like to have better endurance under my belt.  I'd like to find a way to keep fitness in my routine even when I'm busy and in school.  I think this is going to mean placing more importance on sleep.  When I sleep well, I am always better prepared to run, and when I am better prepared I am way more likely to actually do it.  I'm not going to set a goal of a particular distance, but I will say I'd like to still be a regular runner by December of 2012 and not to have petered out by the end of the year when the going gets tough.

4. What is your plan this month for starting this progress towards a healthier you?

I've already got the mileage on my Google calendar for the next two weeks.  This is what needs to happen:  I need to lay out my clothes at night.  I need to get to bed on time.  Then I need to get up and get out the door.  If I can do that for one day, I can be regular in my fitness routine.  All it takes is one day at a time.

III. Marriage & Family Life

1. What are some goals you have as a couple to strengthen your marriage?

Hmm.  This question is hard because of how it is phrased.  I know that I would like some things for us.  Like, I'd like us to travel again, just the two of us.  I'd like us to keep our house more clean because (I know it sounds silly but) it means more peace at home.  But things we'd agree on?  Probably that we'd talk to each other about money, that we'd get maintenance counseling (alone or together) before we're in crisis-mode, that we'd do a better job of learning when to walk away from an argument, and that we'd set an example for our kids about how people in a marriage should act (and expect to be treated).

2. In what ways can you grow in intimacy with your spouse this year?

I HATE THAT WORD, intimacy.  (The thing is cool, but the word conjures pictures of creepy therapist-types.)  Not answering.  In protest.

3. What are your plans for having regular date nights? How will you handle childcare?

I'm gonna go with a big, fat wish that people who love us continue to be generous with their time and watch our children.  If that happens, the date nights will continue to follow.

4. What plans will you make to have “family meetings” together? What books would you like to read together this year?

As I said last year, we do okay with talking when it comes to the four of us.  E and I are 100% on the same page about parenting and how to talk to the kids.  I just hope to keep that going.

5. What will deliberate, regular family time look like this year?

I was just thinking about this the other day.  A few years ago we did a better job of eating dinner together every single night around the table.  I like that it makes us all focus on each other and really listen.  For Henry, it's good practice sitting still.  I was thinking I'd like to make more of an effort to keep the table cleared off so it's easy to eat together.

6. Do you have specific planned vacation time in mind for this year? What needs to happen to make this vacation a reality?

We didn't really do as well taking the kids different places as we'd hoped last year.  I ended up traveling, but as a family we didn't do enough.  E and I are talking about trying for Disneyland or Hawaii.  Who knows.  For this to happen we just need to get a realistic budget going and make up our minds to make it happen.  Often it's our indecisiveness that means we don't follow through.

7. How is your current physical living space working for your family? Do you need to make changes to this? If so, what are they?

We are finally in a place where we feel like our house isn't big enough.  I know this is totally selfish, but now that I'm writing so much I really feel like E and I should have an office space.  I feel guilty that it took me being in a program to notice it, but it did.  I know the configuration of our house isn't great, either.  We are definitely feeling like it's time to try to do something about where we live.  Of course, we're still in the research and planning stages.  But we're feeling like we could stand to stretch out a bit.


And, just like last year I split the list in two.  Tune in tomorrow for Part II of 2012 goal-setting.  TTFN.