Monday, January 30, 2012

Dancing and A to Z Blogfest

I do not know if this is wise, but I'm joining the A to Z blogfest, because it looks fun and challenging and because I've made such great friends through blog hops and blogfests that I figure it's worth some effort. Maybe I'll subject you to bad art, or bad poetry, or...I don't know yet. But I like the suggestion that you start from the blog beneath yours on the list and go down--that seems like a logical way to do things, and I like logic! And the alphabet! So yay!

But in spite of all the links and glittering-alphabet-pictures I could add, I promised my son a music video tonight. Specifically, this one, which he hasn't seen yet and will have dozens of questions about. Ah, the fascinating endless-question-capacity of a four-year-old!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mission: Impossible--Organizing a Sick Week

Normally I've got a good memory. I return library books on time (okay, mostly), I go to church during the right hour, and I even manage to feed my boys three times a day (plus snacks!) and put them in bed at a reasonable hour. This week, however, was different.

It started on Monday. I woke up sick. Mondays are laundry days, but the laundry languished, because I didn't want it to get all stinky in the washer and I knew with a muddled head I wouldn't remember to move it out of the washer. On Wednesday my baby had a doctor's appointment that ended up giving him five shots. Five needles. In his baby little legs. He couldn't look at the nurse after that without shaking his head and saying "no, no, no" in a sad voice, and he hasn't want me to put him down since.

So I forgot to return my library books on Wednesday. I forgot a meeting I was supposed to attend on Thursday. And either my right arm is going to get really strong, or it's going to fall off, because I have an eighteen-month-old permanently attached to my hip.

Anyway, after a week like this I'm not feeling super organized. But I did donate blood today. I finished my third rewrite of my second book, and there are nebulous plans about putting a calendar in my library/writing room. Plus I'm getting better--I can smell things again! and swallow orange juice without horrific stinging!--so I won't stay this disorganized forever. Right?

Well, the house might stay disorganized forever (or at least as long as my kids are under the age of five). But if I show up to my meetings and teaching wearing clothes that sort of match (with my kids also wearing sort-of-matching clothes! bonus!), no one will ever have to know about my house...

My children do not look this apologetic. But if I buy a blue polka-dot hat/dress combo, maybe things'll change...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I love fantasy that is lyrical and well-written and haunting. Laini Taylor's latest book was all those things.

I take a while to read anything that has too much hype. I remember hesitating with Harry Potter in high school because so many people recommended it. Then I read the first book--and bought books four to seven at midnight sales. Twilight I heard about from my students while I was pregnant with my firstborn. I read the first book in Barnes and Noble--and liked it enough to buy the second as well. I'm omnivorous with my reading: I love Middlemarch and Edmund Spenser and Sandman graphic novels and, of course, young adult fantasy. I can see problems with books (like Twilight) and still enjoy them. I'm excited when I find a new author I like.

So I've decided that maybe I should listen to hype.

I like The Hunger Games. I love Discworld. I've read everything by Neil Gaiman. And now, with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I've realized that if I hear a book is wonderful and magical and stunningly well-written, I should check it out.It's possible I won't enjoy it (the House of Night novels come to mind), but I always learn something about myself as a reader (and a writer).

So yay. Read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, if you can. And tell me if you want to hype any book. Because I'll believe you now, and I'll find it, and I'll read it, and maybe, just maybe, I'll fall in love again.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Teaching/writing/moving day!

Today's been one of those days. A snowy, wet day where you help people move and go to Carl's Jr. for dinner and wrestle your four-year-old out because he never wants to leave. A day where you had to dash up the street to Office Max and buy a print cartridge early in the morning so you could print your example movie reviews for your students in time to make copies before your 9 a.m. class. A day where you woke up stuffy, and at night you're supposed to submit to more agents but you don't want to because you are feeling lazy.

I think lazy is a valid emotion. I'm going for the popcorn. And the root beer. You can find me under the Thomas the Tank Engine blanket on the sofa, watching Veronica Mars.  And that shall be the day's The End.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I thought about writing several posts today: on rejection (ah, the life of a writer), on stalking, on the humane society (guess where we went tonight?), but I'm going to settle for this: my four-year-old got up at four this morning, and I am not so coherent. So this video of Daleks from Doctor Who is dedicated to his boundless energy, as is all of this short blog post.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe!

I would leave a rose at your graveside, if I were near enough. May your poems and stories creep through reader's brains forever!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


My blog is a tiny thing, but I really, really believe in free speech, so I must post this anyway: oppose SOPA and PIPA in any way possible. If you live in the United States, you can contact your representatives. If you live abroad, or just want to know more, read about it or watch the video below. There are petitions to sign, as I'm sure you've seen on Google, and it's worth it. I believe in the power of words, and ideas, and open communication. I don't want that power given up to any government or corporation, because that's one way to hold them accountable.

So I know my four-year-old will be sad tomorrow that I didn't post a video with stormtroopers or daleks, but he'll live. This is important.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Little sanity things in the winter

Here's a sort-of secret: I love Christmas, but I hate winter. Driving in the snow is scary. Getting coats on the boys before we go anywhere is enough to keep me homebound. And exercising without a gym in the winter is...tricky, to say the least.

So I've decided on some tricks to keep me happy in this turn-in-grades-make-a-new-syllabus season:

Lots of library trips for good books
Popcorn for snacks
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic snuggle time with my four-year-old
And occasionally, every so often, we eat dessert first

(The pony clip doesn't have desserts, but it does have Pinky Pie, and that's got to count for something, right? Plus there's a lot to be said for laughter in dark places--or seasons)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Post with a baby on my lap

I've never written a post with a baby on my lap (well, and 18-month-old), so I figure it will be an instructive new thing! It's just that I have to pack tonight, as I am driving to Idaho tomorrow for my Uncle Mike's funeral. I'm not sure if a seven-hour drive (we're going both ways) with two children is a good idea, but we shall see. So far this blog post is turning out with no extra j's or x's...maybe it's a good sign? Anyway, if anyone has tips on traveling with young children, I would love to hear them. Also, I shall add some interesting linkage if you're into sports or sporting-figure-type behaviors, since I plan to show the article to my husband later and see what he thinks. I will now close with a link from the They Might Be Giants CD we bought our four-year-old for his birthday. You may think the sun is a mass of incandescent gas, but...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inspirational Blog Award

The kind and soothing blogger WilyBCool gave me this rather nifty award...

...which includes butterflies and some questions! I am not sure I deserve the butterflies (although they are pretty!), but I'll do my best to come up with answers. So.

1.  What makes you laugh, smile or giggle?

Um...Muppets. Tickling my baby with my head. The voice of Edna Mode on The Incredibles. My three four-year-old's jokes. Dory talking to baby jellyfish in Finding Nemo. Calvin and Hobbes. Terry Pratchett. Foxtrot. My husband's puns. And lots of other stuff, too.

2.  What are your dreams for the future?

Teach my boys so they can be happy. Travel with my husband. Read books. Publish books. Meet other awesome writers. Eat sushi. Read more books in a warm bath. Feel happy myself.

3.  If you were going on a cruise where would it be and why?

I want to go to England and Ireland and Scotland because I've studied so many authors from there, and because I've heard the weather over there will make the Seattlelite in me feel at home. Also, maybe I could meet Sherlock. Or Doctor Who.

The United Kingdom isn't exactly a cruise place, though, is it? So maybe I'll say Micronesia. Because my husband lived there for a while, and I've always wanted to learn how to scuba dive.

4.  Who would you spend your vacation with and why?

My husband. And my boys (if they're older). Because they are awesome and make me laugh (see question 1).

5.  If given a life, what life would you chose and why?  Past or future?

If I could be someone else, you mean? I'm happy being me. But if it were a kind of temporary thing, like a chance to download someone's life experiences, I'd go for Mary Cassat. Or William Shakespeare. Or maybe Queen Elizabeth. There's so many intriguing choices! So I'm going to cheat and say I'd choose some future psychic who could see all past lives and reveal them in a healthy, educational, and compassionate way. Whew! Did I pass?

And if you want to see the blogs I'm reading, you should check out my sidebar. I totally stalk each one of these poor bloggers every time their blog updates, and I am lucky I have so many interesting people to read about!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The end of a semester

We have one class left, and then our semester is over. And this year my students are surprisingly easygoing--not one complained about their grade, or implied they should be doing better, and a heartening number are willing to rewrite essays. I'm all about rewriting essays: if I can't get my writing right the first time, why should I expect that of my students? Some students take two drafts, other students take twelve, but if they're getting to the same level of research, analysis, and creativity, it really doesn't matter. This time of the year is hectic, but it's a good reminder of what perseverance can do--usually it's my students who rewrite the most who get the best grades, not necessarily those with the most raw talent. Of course some years, like this year, I get super-talented students who also rewrite. Yay!

On an unrelated note, I wish to post this video. Because it is five people playing one guitar, and that is a noteworthy thing.

Friday, January 6, 2012


It's that time of year again: scholarship essays, recommendation letters, GPA's and standardized tests--all my students meeting deadlines and waiting to hear back. It's not an easy thing: I remember checking the mail as soon as it came, especially while applying to Master's programs and, two years later, Ph.D.'s. I remember all the work that went into my personal statements and requests for recommends. I remember the joy of getting in--and the stinging pain of rejection. It felt personal, even though it wasn't. Much like writing rejections, except for worse, because I'd spent so much time imagining where I would move and what each program would be like. I don't spend the kind of time or money on agents, and I don't usually get the physical-kind of response from agents, either. Like the rejection letters I got from one Ph.D. program every day for a month.

Every. Day. For a month.

I know how much my students (well, most high school seniors) get caught up in the Stanford/Harvard/MIT/Berkeley race, and how much test scores and GPA and extracurricular stuff seems to matter. But I've known lots of friends and lots students who've faced rejection from high school onward, and the ones who do what they love--the ones who develop all those interests they've had from childhood on, the ones who work and play with equal passion--those are the ones who are happy. It doesn't matter what they scored, or where they got in. Smart people succeed no matter where they go.

I know nothing anyone writes can make the wait all better. I know those studies on success don't take the sting away. But even daily rejection doesn't hurt as much if you buy yourself a book (or a Darth Vader clock, or a Lego penguin, or whatever your thing is) with every letter! That was my strategy, at least. I should tell my students, but first I must find an illustration:

Lego penguins! I tried to find some eating a rejection letter, but apparently Google searches are only so good...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goodbye, Christmas

I'm getting the decorations down! Birthdays are over, grading is slowing (is grading ever done?), rewriting is picking up for my second novel, and even though I love Christmas it will be nice to have a little bit less cluttering up our lives. In the interest of having less clutter, I'm going to return some books to the library, so I've put a bunch of fireworks on music on top to distract you from the fact that I've only written three sentences. Now four: yay!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


My oldest son has officially destroyed his Angry Birds cake, opened his "Here Comes Science!" CD/DVD by They Might Be Giants and his Dinosaur Train set, and settled down in his room for a long winter's nap. And I know he's only four, but it's already bittersweet to look into a face that's changed from an infant's to a preschooler's and know that he's getting older. Soon enough he'll be in high school, then college, and I won't see the snuggles or the tantrums because they'll get all bottled up inside. So happy birthday to my son--there is no brighter, funnier child I'd rather spend time with, and I will always love you.

And I hope you are this happy (if not making this exact face) forever.