The calendar of 2015

Am I on my fourth year of bucket list blogging? Is that seriously possible?

One thing’s for sure when it comes to goal setting: you need to get things on the calendar. You can let things float around in your head with good intentions, but it’s easy to lose track of what you want to do when your constantly struggling with what you have to do.

 

Here’s my 2015 calendar:

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For the first time in all my blogging, I’m actually on schedule!

For me, periodically going back and looking at my calendar gives me a visual reminder of what I should be looking forward to. Since I have all summer off to have fun, more goals fall into July and August. Then I reign it in for September and October, as we are starting a new school year.

Then there’s money. I see a lot of bucket lists full of items such as “zip line through the Amazon” or “go on a tour of European castles.” I don’t know about you, but I certainly can’t afford that without some major planning. Just a few years ago, planning a trip to Omaha was about the max of my travel budget. This year I’m stretching it a little bit with our week in DC to the FBI Headquarters (considering we already went to Hawaii in January). Looking at “traditional” bucket lists used to depress me because I thought, “When would I ever have enough money to do that?” Now, I’ve learned that some of the best bucket list items are the small and simple ones.

Finally, I need the help of my friends to offer their expertise. Who knows how to needle felt? Where can I find a breakdancing competition in the Pacific NW? Who wants to paddle board in the ocean with me?

#5 – Learn how to roast my own coffee beans. Check!

Although I do consume a lot of coffee (we’re talking 1-2 cups daily), I somehow don’t consider myself a “coffee drinker.” Perhaps this is because in my home of Portland, Oregon, our coffee drinkers are almost as snobby as our beer drinkers. Basically, drinking Starbucks is consider a big time faux pas, yet that’s where I stop on Friday mornings because it’s convenient. (Plus they have that app where you don’t even need your wallet!).

That’s not to say that I can’t taste a DISTINCT difference between a delicious Stumptown latte, and a sub par Starbucks latte. I can, and I definitely prefer the former. But in the mornings, I’m in a hurry. Number one, I don’t have time to go to some little hipster latte place that takes 32 minutes to make one drink; number two, I don’t need their freaking attitude! When I walk into a Starbucks, they have carefully crafted my happiness, with their seasonal drinks and can-do attitude – I like that. It also helps that my students hand me many gift cards around the holidays.

But one student chose to break the mold last December and, instead, gave me a bag of Guatemalan coffee beans she had helped roast herself with her dad. Although I’ve known a lot of people who roast their own coffee, I suddenly thought, “Well if this 11 year old girl can do it, why can’t I?” Thus my #5 goal was born.

In January, I shared my goals with my students, and mentioned that this particular student inspired my goal of roasting coffee on my own. She’s pretty quiet and didn’t say anything; until last week when she handed me a ziplock baggie full of green coffee beans and some instructions on how to roast them myself. BEST. PRESENT. EVER.

IMG_3874Roasting my own coffee beans was totally amateur hour. I don’t have any special roaster, or even a popcorn popper (as she recommended). I considered picking up a popcorn popper at Target but then I wasn’t convinced that I would want to roast coffee beans more than once, and have another oversized appliance taking up space in our compact kitchen. After reading several websites on coffee roasting, it appeared that heat and proper airflow were key in the process.

I set my oven to 500 degrees, laid them out in a single layer in a pan, and basically kept turning them for 15 minutes.

IMG_3875While I’m certain that the beans didn’t roast as uniformly as a pro would have done, I’m chalking it up to my first exploration – and frankly I don’t think it was that big of a deal. Then I dumped the roasted beans into a metal sieve and shook them around a lot to let them cool and get rid of the “chaff” (the outer part of the bean that gets shed).

My beans sat on the counter for 24 hours to “de-gas” and tonight I ground them up. They totally smell like Stumptown beans. Like totally. Tomorrow morning I’ll be drinking my own roasted coffee, and assuming it tastes as good as it smells, I think I’ll do it again.

Top 5 Reasons I Won’t Have Children

First off, you can blame this post on an after school meeting I had today where someone brought me an espresso.

Second, I’m nervous to publish this post because I fear some backlash, but frankly it’s my blog, and you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

Third, this post comes as a response to not one, not two, not even THREE people aggressively questioning my decision to not have children, but FIVE separate people in the last two weeks. What the eff? Do I have some sort of sign on my forehead lately?

Having my grandma badger me is one thing. She’s a fiery Italian woman from a very large New York family. She rules the roost, and she lays her accent on thick when she moans, “You must have a baby before I die!” When I replied, “Who else do you know who is as happy as me?” She laughed and said, “No one! Ok it’s all bullshit!”

However, when random acquaintances or parents of my students ask things like, “So when are you going to start a family?” or “Don’t you want to have your own kids?” it gets under my skin. To be polite, I shrug it off, or make jokes, “I have enough kids in my life as a teacher…I don’t need anymore!” Everyone laughs. Ha. Ha.

But seriously – I have some very real reasons for not having children. It’s not that I want to live frivolously or that I don’t like children (hel-lo! I’m a freaking teacher!). Sometimes I worry that this bucket list blog I have kept for four years now communicates the idea that all I care about it ME, and frankly I think my reason to not have children is the most selfless choice I’ve ever made.

Here’s why:

Top 5 Reasons I Won’t Have Children

1. Overpopulation. The world does not need more people right now. Period. What are we at now? Seven billion? That’s not to say no one should have children, but I’m not going to contribute to a problem where we know for a FACT that our earth can’t keep up with human growth that is exploding across the planet.

2. Dismal Future. Between mass pollution of our natural resources and intense political and religious conflicts all over the world, I honestly wonder how livable things will be for us in 50 years. If I truly can’t say that I am confident the world will be a place fit for humans, why the hell would I create one that might suffer the fallout of our choices?

3. Orphans. Do you know how many orphaned children there are in the world? UNICEF estimates that 153 million children are without parents. That number is pretty much incomprehensible to me, and frankly it makes me sick to  my stomach that those children are already born and we are out there making more.

4. My role as an educator. Everyday I attend to the needs of society’s children. I take money out of my own paycheck to give them snacks, buy cool art supplies, and make school the exciting and creative space it should be. But they wear me out. If I had to come home to kids, I would be a crappy teacher and a crappy parent. I’m certain that I don’t have the stamina for dual roles.

5. Money. At this point, I can barely pay off my own college loans, let alone save for someone else’s. I honestly don’t think we have the capability to afford a kid without going on some psychotic Dave Ramsey rice & beans plan.

So tell me – when someone asks why I don’t or won’t have kids, and I supposed to unload all of this?? I really don’t begrudge those who have children (my career depends on them – right?), but I assume that if I said all this stuff to someone who did have their own children, I’d sound like a real asshole.

When I was around 9 or 10 years old, I was already thinking about overpopulation and orphans around the world (maybe because two of my best friends growing up were adopted from Brazil). A very distinct feeling came across my mind that having children wasn’t for me. Luckily, I found a husband who shares similar (albeit less fatalistic) views on parenthood. Why don’t we adopt? Because he doesn’t want to.

Instead, I take comfort in the knowledge that I am at least attempting to mold young brains into becoming better global citizens in my classroom. Why is it that people give me a funny look when I say I don’t want to have children, but rarely do I hear praises about the important work I’m doing with children everyday in my career?

My new Passion Planner

If you know me personally or ever read my blog, you know that organizational tools are my porn. I use checklists everyday at work, at home, and for social stuff. When I get to school, I have a self-made checklist pad that I use everyday, all day. You would think that entering attendance multiple times a day would just become a habit, or writing the daily schedule on the whiteboard, but somehow those little things can fall through the cracks if I don’t check it off. Earlier in my career, I assumed that those little tasks would become ingrained in me, but after reading Atul Gwande’s The Checklist Manifesto, I learned that even airline pilots and surgeons go through a very important set of checks before they do anything – so now I just consider it an efficiency tool.

It’s a lifelong mission to explore and implement other efficiency tools into my life (because I’m nerdy like that). Back in December, I saw this video:

Within minutes, I had located Passion Planner’s homepage and pre-ordered myself a copy for the new year. I think I speak for many people when I say the idea of Passion Planner is genius, but as to whether it will help me in the long run is yet to be seen.

I have consistently used it for 3 weeks and I like it, but I don’t yet love it because it is a change from how I already schedule my calendar. For basic work scheduling, I use iCalendar on my phone; but for teaching, I need a full teacher planner that is completely separate (but if Passion Planner were to make a teacher version that would pretty much make my brain explode); and at home I use a whiteboard calendar, as well as written checklists. Now that I write it all out there, it sounds a little exhausting, but it’s my system and it works.

Well, most of the time….

Sometimes I’m sitting at my desk thinking, “Am I doing anything this weekend? I can’t remember…” because it’s on the whiteboard in my kitchen. And ever since I updated my iCalendar, the damned thing keeps messing up my dates! I near missed a hair appointment and accidentally double booked myself for a parent meeting and a massage at the same time (guess which one I went to). Thus on a functional level, my Passion Planner is about condensing and coordinating my many roles in life.

What about the PASSION part though? I was surprised to find that the end/beginning of the month review took me over an hour to complete, but ultimately it was time well spent. Since my long term goals are a bit blurry, my short terms are inevitably disconnected – but using the planner has helped me tease out some actionable pieces.

If you’re the kind of person who is good about printing things and keeping track of loose copies, you can print the weekly templates from Passion Planner for FREE, but frankly I would recommend shelling out the $30 because the real thing is fancy and makes you feel important, even if you are like me and only writing things like, “Cat Cafe – 6pm.”

Mailbox surprises

Last month, I wrote four letters as part of my goal of writing a letter a week for a year. I chose four former students to check-in on, not expecting any responses, but mostly just to say, “Hey.” Just a few days later, I received a letter back in my mailbox from one of the students. Out of all four, he seemed the least likely to write back, based on the fact that he had a really rough year last year, and I’ve literally never met a kid who seemed so trapped by the institution of school (though I could relate).

This year he moved to a private school and I was just curious if things had improved for him at all. His letter was a little depressing (he literally said he was “trying not to hate school”), but nonetheless he wrote me back (and he hated writing). I thought that was pretty cool.

Then today I got another letter in my mailbox, from a much more enthusiastic student (who also moved to different private school to pursue a life in the arts). She even added pics of her new puppy, and mentioned a lot of the things that she learned in my class had come in handy at her new school.

I don’t know if the other two students will write me back, but it’s pretty cool that right off that bat my plan to write a letter a week has unexpected results. In an age where I frequently hear an older generation bitch and moan that “kids today” are too addicted to technology, these students have made me wonder if maybe the younger generation is just waiting for opportunities like this to go low-tech. Maybe we are being bad role models for not really writing real letters anymore (because, no offense, your holiday photo card doesn’t count).

So now I’m putting you on the spot: when was the last time you wrote a letter and sent it through the real mail?

What I Won’t Regret in the End

You’ve probably seen those articles flying around that are about the top regrets of people who are dying. A lot of people have been posting it on Facebook over the last year, and I even saw a video in a workshop not too long ago. Here’s a nice infographic if you haven’t already seen something similar.

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Do you agree? What might you regret as the end draws close?

Well after today, let me tell you what I am not going to regret when I get to the end. SITTING IN LIFE SUCKING MEETINGS. Today, I am proclaiming that I will no longer waste my precious time wanting to drill screws into my toes while someone reads off a Powerpoint.

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Why the sudden outburst? This week I have literally wasted ten full hours (and it’s only Wednesday!) wanting to jump out of a window while stuck in painfully bad meetings. To be fair, on Monday we didn’t have a traditional staff meeting, but instead had a video training that entailed 90 minutes of a Powerpoint being read to me by a voice recording (because clearly my reading skills as a teacher require someone else to read TO me). Today, I sat from 8:00am to 4:00pm in a meeting hosted by my school district where not only did I have the luxury of the Powerpoint being read for me, but the last three hours had no clear direction and the heat was blasted to 105 degrees.

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Many of my colleagues could tell you that I’m not the most patient when it comes to a these types of situations. If I get the hint that my time is being wasted, I start getting squirmy. After about 30 minutes I start doodling. At the second hour mark, I discreetly pull out my phone and check email. If things don’t improve by lunch, I’m fully disengaged, lolling back in my seat on Facebook.

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Sounds totally rude, doesn’t it? I agree. And I am truly sorry that I seemingly can’t control my behavior at a certain point. (Last year my student teacher leaned over and muttered, “You’re a bad role model,” as I was slouched down with my hoodie pulled tight around my head as I suffered through a poorly organized training).

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But I’ll tell you what’s more rude (in my opinion): wasting TIME. I can’t get these minutes back, people, and I’ll be damned if I have to sit through another meeting where the information can be communicated in an email, or the same person is allowed to raise their hand over and over, or the presenter scrambles for 27 minutes to get a video to load.

I. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore.

Why do we allow ourselves to sit like sheep for hours on end? How is it that someone doesn’t stand up and say, “I have more important things to do,”? Why is it in education the expectation is that we deliver authentic and engaging lessons to our students everyday, but all that flies out the window when we have a meeting? WHY???

This is not to say that there aren’t good meetings, or trainings. In fact, I’ve been to some pretty engaging staff meetings where I walk away energized for my next task, but sadly it happens so rarely.

Whether I’m teaching my 6th grade students, or leading a workshop with grown-up adults, I strive to tell stories, get people talking, and even show a cat video or two. If said cat video doesn’t load right away, BOOM! We move on! No yawning here! Oh, and don’t forget the homemade muffins.

So here I am publicly announcing it: I will no longer waste my time in life-sucking meetings. You have 30 minutes to hook my attention, and if at that point I am squirmy and doodling, I will politely remove myself from the room. As the infographic above states, “Happiness is a choice.”

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#6 – Visit a cat cafe. Check.

Did you know Portland opened a Cat Cafe just a couple weeks ago? It’s true. Purrington’s Cat Lounge is located on MLK Blvd & NE Fremont, and for $8 and hour, you can have a drink and play with some cats that are looking to be adopted.

So last night, three friends and I visited Purrington’s for the first (of probably many) times. IMG_3750

Here’s how it works: the cafe is separated into two rooms. The first is the “cafe” part, where you check in and can purchase your snacks. Then once you’ve received clearance, they let you go into the “lounge”, where there are cafe tables and the cats are milling around.

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The cat room

Groups of people are arranged in hourly shifts, so we had the 6-7 hour block on a Saturday night (and were totally surprised how many grown men were also there). There were a slew of rules (i.e. don’t pick up the cats, don’t be loud, don’t feed them, etc) and pretty much you just hang out.

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Wine and deviled eggs – what more could you ask for?

For us, it was pretty cool, but I must admit the cats weren’t as snuggly as we’d all hoped. Mostly, they did their own thing (and half of them were sleeping in hidden areas). Let’s be real – they’re cats.

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If you’re planning to visit, here are a few important notes:

1. Dress in layers – It may be cold outside, but they have the heat cranked to something like 92 degrees in there.

2. Don’t expect a full meal – They serve a few finger foods, but we ended up going out to dinner afterwards since 19 deviled eggs does not a meal make.

3. There’s no parking – And it’s not very obvious just driving by; park around the corner on the street and then you’ll find Purrington’s across the street from Subway.

4. Make a reservation online – They have a 20 person maximum so you can schedule your slot ahead of time.

5. Get there on time - Your hour doesn’t start when you get there – it starts when your reservation starts and it goes by fast.

6. Don’t bring the kids – They are banned under 10 (due to some incidents).

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A view from the outside.

Letters of January

One of my ongoing goals for the year is to write one letter a week (or maybe more like four letters a month). Obviously I spend a lot of time online, and I’m thrilled with the ease at which I can communicate with friends across the world. That’s pretty rad.

I’m the first to admit that I haven’t written very many real letters in the last couple years, but I do think actual letters sent through the mail have some purpose.

For instance, when we got married, I used a gift card to purchase a trust Kitchenaid can opener. In less than a year, the can opener totally broke. Like seriously? I wrote a stern letter to Kitchenaid with the broken can opener enclosed, and a couple months later, I got a new one in the mail. Guess what? That one broke, too. I sent it back, explaining how pathetic it was that the replacement broke, and that I would tell all my friends and family how shoddy Kitchenaid products were. A couple months later, I got TWO new can openers and a $35 check good for any Kitchenaid items.

I’m also a big proponent of using handwritten cards in the workplace. When I was an instructional coach, I made it a point to drop at least one card a week into a teacher’s mailbox where I acknowledged the good work I saw them doing. I could have sent it in an email, or just passed the info along to the principal, but that handwritten card had more weight.

(When I went back to the classroom, I wrote a nice card to our new Assistant Principal to welcome her to our staff. Not long after, we realized she was a total she-devil and I was forced to ironically stare at my own card displayed on her shelf as she lectured me on good listening skills).

Since I was a kid, I’ve been the kind of person who writes letters to the editor, complains (or compliments) a product to a company, or expresses my opinion to a local politician. As my friend Courtney once said, I’m “full of advice.” Sadly, I’ve felt “too busy” to write letters recently.

Today I sat down at my desk and spent 30 minutes writing four letters and then dropped them in the mail. Strangely, I haven’t been annoyed with any products or felt compelled to passive aggressively chime in on any local issues, so I chose to write to four former students.

Three of them were in my class last year and all moved to different schools. The final letter I chose carefully, and ended up with a student from two years ago at my former school. Brian was a kid who was way to smart for his own good, and a total rebel at heart, which was difficult since he came from a relatively strict Vietnamese family. He stayed out of real trouble (rare for that school) and I always knew he would get the joke when others didn’t.

The best memory I have of Brian was a day right after lunch. I always had a list of directions projected on the whiteboard so that kids would get settled while I dealt with attendance, student questions, etc. One day as we walked in, I glanced up at the screen and instead of my directions, there was a long paragraph that said, “This is what happens when you talk shit about me…” and it went on to call out an anonymous group of students who were gossiping a little too much. I turned off the projector immediately and since there were no names attached, I looked around; Brian was the only one paying attention.

The counselor and I pulled him into the hall and were like, “What was that…?” He totally came clean, very calm, and explained he wanted to “make a statement” against those who start drama. I couldn’t stop laughing, and after he apologized we called it good. Once he was out of earshot, the counselor goes, “That kid’s got balls!” 

If there’s one thing I respect (and expect) from my students, it’s to stand up for yourself and what you believe. He didn’t exactly do it the right way, but it was still pretty hilarious.

Where did your resolutions go, people??

It’s the end of January and I’ve noticed that a lot of people on Pinterest have stopped pinning pictures like this:

8fba7d10612d8a5ecac680dde37b66c8to pictures like this:

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Now I’m not judging; that nacho bar looks dope.

On New Year’s Day, I went running in my neighborhood and I distinctly remember seeing A LOT of people out getting their run on. People of all sizes wearing all their new gear they bought for the new year (me included). But yesterday I went running my same route, and I didn’t see a single other runner…It was like 57 degrees and sunny at 10am on a Saturday morning: PEAK running conditions for Portland. Then this morning, the gym was noticeably empty…

I have a lot of time to think while I’m out running (another benefit of getting out there), and I sort of agonized where all the people were. Was there a big sale I was missing? Is there a national crisis happening? Ultimately, I sadly decided that people have already forgotten their fitness resolutions. Am I right?

A couple weeks ago in Hawaii, I worked out EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was awesome. I imagined myself trying out for mini-Iron Man (I believe they call it “Tin Man” but I’m super short so I’m going with “mini). I ran along the beach, I swam laps in the ocean, I lifted weights in the park next to the meat heads. Then I came back to cold and dark and rainy-ass Portland and my workout steam was gone. I could barely get up in the morning, let alone slowly jog out a few miles in the rain. Hellll no.

Luckily I have a regular boot camp with my co-workers that’s non-negotiable so I didn’t completely slack off, but my head was not in it. I work out 4-6 times a week so I permit myself an occasional pass like that. In Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, he said he tries to finish his runs on a high-point – like when he’s feeling really good; that will get him back out the next day. I like that idea, and this last week was semi-miserable, which told me to just lay in bed instead.

But yesterday the sun was out and I had nothing to do all day, so I forced myself outside. Guess what? It wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of good. All the same, I was going to allow myself to skip today’s workout if I wasn’t feeling it. AFter a cup of coffee, I opened my New Rules of Lifting book just to browse, and ended up preparing a super tough weightlifting session for my morning instead. It’s all mental.

So if you’ve given up on your resolutions, or you feel a dip coming, here are some of the things I do to get myself out the door:

1. Buy new workout clothes –  Seriously – this one works. Duh.

2. Get a buddy - Last year, my bff, Courtney, and I decided that we were spending too much time drinking wine and playing the jukebox. We didn’t say we wouldn’t go out and have drinks anymore, but instead made a pact that if we were going to, we’d workout first. It totally worked. We did boot camp and climbed stairs and went spinning all the time.

3. Get a trainer – I don’t currently have a trainer, but I definitely have worked with a great one for many years in the past and it’s the only way to go if you’re feeling a little lost or unmotivated. I learned so much and learned to really love going to the gym. There are usually package deals in January, too.

4. Get a subscription to SHAPE or Women’s Fitness or something like it – When I get my new magazine in the mail, I instantly get inspired to try something new (usually workout and food related).

5. Before falling asleep, visualize your workout – It sounds cheesy, I know, but for me it works. I learned this when I was in physical therapy for my knee. On Friday night, I totally imagined myself out running my regular route with my headphones in, and when I woke up, it was like I had already mentally prepared for the challenge. I also read Michael Phelps does a lot of this for his olympic swimming…so that’s a pro-tip for y’all.

6. Check in at the gym on Facebook or post your run – Some people hate me for this, but that’s their problem. I like to share my workout with my other runner friends, and I honestly enjoy seeing what other people are doing for their workouts. Last year, my friend Darcy was posting about how she could barely make a couple miles on the treadmill, now she’s out at 5am running like10 miles in the freezing cold! Like multiple times a week! That’s pretty inspiring.

7. Eat some dope nachos after you run - I’m not advocating a binge after you workout, but every once in awhile, it feels good. Something to think about if you’re headed to a Superbowl party next weekend…

I’m not a personal trainer or a nutritionist or anything like that, which is why I think my advice is more credible. I’m not paleo or gluten-free or even an amateur marathon running. I’m just a regular person trying to be regular healthy – and I’m here to represent.

Two words: PIZZA NACHOS.

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Books of January

I will admit that when I woke up on the first day of 2015, I did not feel like reading a book for awhile. I powered through so many in December as part of my 2014 goals that I just wanted to enjoy playing videos games instead.

And yet, here I am mid-way through my fourth book of the month – maybe last year’s goal of reading three books a month has become an official habit (only time will tell).

UnknownFord County by John Grisham – Normally John Grisham isn’t on my reading list, but someone had given me a 2nd hand copy of Ford County so I stuck it in my suitcase on my recent trip to Hawaii. It’s a collection of several short stories, all set in a (real?) place called Ford County. Overall, the stories were well-written and it was a quick read, but most of them were forgettable. The first story, about three rednecks getting into a lot of accidental trouble while traveling to the city, was the most enjoyable to me because it went from silly to completely (but believably) ridiculous. It was a great book to read by the beach, but it won’t end up on my Top 10 list.

18114233Solsbury Hill by Susan M. Wyler – In a desperate move, I paid $1 for a used copy of this book at a thrift shop for another easy beach read. The amount of things I disliked about this book could fill an entire blog post on it’s own, but since you probably won’t read it, I’ll keep my complaints to a minimum. Although I’m not a Wuthering Heights superfan, I’m still a fan of the Bronte sisters, and the back of the book promised to revisit some of the original gothic story lines of WH. This story focuses on, Eleanor, a late 20s fashion designer in New York, who is blessed with a waify frame but eats pastries all day (do you hate her yet? cause I sure did). Eleanor has a deep romance with her childhood pal, Miles, but (*spoiler alert*) she catches in bed with another woman, leading her to run away to coastal England, where it turns out her long lost aunt is dying and about to leave her a giant estate that is rumored to have been owned by Emily Bronte. Just when the novel feels rife with cliques, we meet Mead, a rugged and handsome man who has taken care of her aunt and the property since he was orphaned as a baby (are you dying yet?!). Eleanor spends the rest of this (too long) novel “learning” about her self as she inherits the abbey – but mostly whining and crying and daintily eating all day long.

I will say I think this story was well written, but gaaawwwddd I just wanted to murder Eleanor. Not only was it offensive to me that the leading lady couldn’t seem to make a single decision without the help of anyone, her life was a ridiculous fantasy that wasn’t even fun to fantasize about. When Miles follows her to England and shows up to smooth things out, she just takes him back – no anger or anything. Apparently breaking a few dishes back in New York meant she was totally over it. Of course, she chose Mead in the end, but I couldn’t even figure out why; he sat around listening to her whine and instead of slapping her or making her a woman in the barn, he just held her hand and said, “Yes, yes…tell me more…” BLAHHHHHHHHHH!

If you are a huge fan of the romance between Heathcliff and Catherine (which I never thought was a healthy romance anyway), maybe you would love this book – but to an independent woman like myself, well…….

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71bmwJ6z--LAmerican Sniper by Chris Kyle – Naturally the only thing I could read to counteract the previous estrogen-fest was Chris Kyle’s account of being a Navy SEAL. For me, this book was entertaining despite the fact that there was no specific rise/fall of action; it’s just a collection of his experiences. As someone who regularly looks at SEAL websites for workout inspiration (and if I had been born a dude, I’m telling you this might have been my calling), I loved reading about the workouts, physical tests, and hazing he went through. And politics aside, I have an obligation to respect someone who is willing to die for my right to blog about lame romance novels. Kyle’s wife also gives her perspective of their frenetic marriage, where he is often portrayed like a spoiled boy who never grew up and was never that committed to his family. I realize some people think he’s a big liar, but I guess I don’t care. Personally, I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t think you can talk shit about Chris Kyle until you read the book first because just like I say to my students, “You must reference evidence from the text to support your argument.”

*If you haven’t read it and plan to, I recommend the enhanced version on the iPad. It had several videos of Kyle and his wife, which added a personal touch, and a little clarity when he seemed to tune out while she talked about their relationship.