Friday, November 20, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This year, I'm asking solely for things that I need, will use, and/or already have a place for.
Somehow, in all my years of college+grad school and the hundreds of books that Scott and I own, we don't have any bookends. Actually, we have one. We have one bookend. I think I bought it for about 30 cents at a fellow grad student's yard sale. He only had one, otherwise I would have bought two. The one doesn't help us much, being all alone in the world. I would LOVE (and could totally use!) one or two pairs of bookends.
2. sitting pillow
Because of our abbreviated living space and not having a large comfy couch, I do a lot of my grading of papers and reading in bed. I have some neck and back problems, so a pillow that would let me sit up instead of propping up awkwardly on pillows would be a very helpful, very useful gift. I found this one, which seems pretty simple. I've also seen something called the BedLounge which looks like the Ritz Carlton of sitting pillows. Yowzah.
3. colored ink pens
I go through a pen about every three days since I do so much grading, writing, revising, commenting on drafts, ect. I love using colored pens on my students' papers because it keeps me awake, and when I run out I have to use boring blue and black. I'm not an equal-opportunity pen user. I like colored ink pens and gel pens, and I do need and use them.
4. tennis shirt and skirt or shorts
Scott and I have been playing tennis for a few years now, and I've never had the right "gear" for it. I don't have any athletic shorts with pockets, which it's essential to have when you're playing tennis and need a place for tennis balls. I usually wear old t-shirts and running shorts when we play, and I'm never comfortable because they're not right for the sport. Since we started taking faculty tennis classes together at the college where we teach, I think I would play better if I could have proper tennis clothes to wear to class each week. I would probably need to try these on before purchasing, though...so perhaps a gift card to a sporting goods store?
5. an attachable book lamp and/or book stand
These are pretty self-explanatory and would be used everyday.
6. Coffee grinder
Ours broke from overuse. Ha!
7. A few other kitchen helps: cheese slicer, garlic press, zester, round pizza pan
8. A new non-stick frying pan, since ours has been turning into a stick frying pan.
So...not a super-exciting list, but at least it's honest. These are things that would make my life (full of marriage, three jobs, grad school, and crazy California nonsense) a lot easier in 2010.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
"The U. S. government should be much more protective of primates, especially chickens."
Do I laugh? Do I cry? Do I quit and head for the proverbial hills? No, I wrote the ever-appropriate comment in the margin: Nope. Check your source on this one [with "chickens" underlined].
So, I set up a meeting with the young lady to discuss the essay, because the remaining pages were virtually indecipherable. Hopefully I'll be able to help her today during my lunch break. All I have to say is that teaching writing is not for the weak. Or for those without a sense of humor.
For example, one of my football players turned in an argument essay about how it's easier for an athlete to receive new concussions once they've already had one in the past (apparently he's already sustained four concussions in two years), but he wrote, "By the time I got to the hospital, it still took awhile for me to regain my conscience."
All laughing aside, it may take years for me to regain my conscience after reading all these papers and chuckling (sometimes for hours on end). I love my students. I encourage them. I care about them. I pray for them. I teach them well. All I can do is nurture their brains the best I can while they're in my classroom, because once they find their way into the big big scary world out there with a questionable grading curve, they will need to have consciences, rudimentary knowledge about primates, and, of course, basic writing skills.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I saw this one at Melissa's Shhh I'm Reading blog here and on S. Krishna's page here. The Read Your Own Books (RYOB) 2009 challenge hosted by MizB encourages you to read the books you already have on your shelves rather than buying more! The challenge runs from Jan 1, 2009-December 31, 2009, so there only a few months left. However, you get to choose the number of books you feel is appropriate. My list is as follows:
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (in progress)
Adam Bede by George Eliot
The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
2 caffeinated beverages
4 big glasses of iced water
6 blog updates
50 blogs visited so far --everyone did amazing work yesterday!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Dearest Charles, my dashing Dickens, my wonderfully witty word warrior, heart of my heart,
I love Bleak House so far, but it is not as easy to get into as some of your other novels, like Great Expectations or Dombey and Son. I am still trying, though. Because I love you.
MY READING STATS
75 pages read (KB), Bleak House and Waverley
about 3 hours of reading here and there
45 pages read (hubby--he's getting to the scary part of Dracula!)
2 caffeinated beverages
2 big glasses of iced water
4 blog updates
25 blogs visited so far
currently listening to: Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Toward Ecstacy
MY READING STATS
40 pages read (KB), Bleak House
15 pages read (hubby)
1 caffeinated beverage
1 big glass of iced water
2 blog updates
10 blogs visited so far
wearing: cute pink tennis shorts, tennis shoes, and a big t-shirt
currently listening to: The Weepies Hideaway album
Until we go out and pick up batteries for our digital camera later today, I'm going to be sans photos on my blog, but I am giddy about starting some big novels and hopefully finishing some others. Maybe I'll have some pictures after the homecoming game. All of our students were excited that Scott and I were going to be there.
And THIS JUST IN, my husband is going to join me in the readathon for a little while today! He is reading his first novel in like...um...maybe 8 years? He's a big non-fiction history buff, but I am very excited that he is dipping his toes into fiction, especially since I teach literature for a living!
Scott is reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, so it's a great gothicky pick for October. :) He told me that I could document his pages along with mine as I update my status online. I am glad to have a partner at home in the read-a-thon, along with all you out there online.
MY READING STATS
0 pages read (KB)
0 pages read (hubby)
1 caffeinated beverage
1 blog update
Let the games begin!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
If you're curious and would like to see what all the fuss is about or thinking about joining, all the details are HERE!
Anyway, it turns out that I won't be able to read for the entire 24 hours of the read-a-thon, but I will read as much as I can. Scott and I have tennis lessons on Saturday mornings (which we've already paid for and can't miss!), then the homecoming football game at the college where we teach. But, that said, I am incredibly excited about all of the reading I'll be doing this weekend. Woo hoo, qualifying exams list!
A few people have asked me what I'm going to be reading, and while I don't have a specific read-a-thon list like I did last time, here's what's on my quals list for this week:
Charles Dickens Bleak House
Mary Shelley Frankenstein
Sir Walter Scott Waverley
Thomas Hardy The Return of the Native
So...I am obviously breaking rule number 1 of all read-a-thons which states that I need to pick short fun books, but I would be knee-deep in these novels this weekend anyway, so I might as well keep on reading them!
In other news, I finished THREE books this week (yay, fist pump). Charles Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers, and Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders. Of course I didn't start and finish them this week, but let victories however small be victories.
Okay. Now I have to go grade papers so that I'll have time to read this weekend!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Charles Dickens is my favorite author, a position rivaled only by his acquaintance and writing partner Wilkie Collins. To date, I've read nine Dickens novels, and Lil' D will make 10. Quite an accomplishment! Dickens is hard to get through, if only because of the hundreds of characters that make their way into the seven or eight hundred page plots, but he is well worth the effort.
I have been laughing, smiling, crying, and *God knows* chortling at the humor and tragedy of the Dorrit family. Little Amy Dorrit is my heroine, if ever I have had a literary one. She is tired but strong, and she warms my heart each time I learn more about her. Her endearing qualities are rivaled only perhaps by those of Florence Dombey or Sissy Jupe, from Dombey and Son and Hard Times, respectively.
If anyone out there has read it, don't ruin the ending for me! But, if you haven't read it (and are looking for a long, drawn out, hilariously unlikely but precious tale that may or may not take you a month to finish), go right out and find a copy!! I really do love this book. :)
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So today when I had a great conversation with someone I hadn't seen in about 4 months, I was feeling happy and sure of myself. I smiled at the right time. Made jokes at the right time. And even though I made the unfortunate and inevitable references to how busy I am (teaching three classes, studying for qualifying exams, tutoring three days a week at a writing center, etc., etc.), we had an overall enjoyable few minutes of catching up. And then it happened.
My life changed.
My timid walls of self-confidence crashed.
My heart pounded and my cheeks flushed.
She had said, "You are amazing, doing all of these things with a baby on the way. I don't see how you handle all the pressure."
I swallowed. Hard.
I said, "Excuse me?"
She said, "Teaching and tutoring and studying and expecting!"
I said, "What...? No..."
She paused. I wished desperately that the floor would swallow me whole, or that I could tesser away in true Madeleine L'Engle fashion, so far away in time.
She said, "You are expecting, yes?"
She said, "Oh, I just saw your, um...you looked, I just...um...oh."
I saw her difficulty in processing her mistake into appropriate words, and so I took a deep breath, smiled, giggled a little and said loudly, "Oh, no, not yet! We're trying to finish our degrees first before we have a family. But it's a nice thought!"
Despite my pretense, I'm sure my eyes gave away my embarrassment, because it was mirrored in her eyes. I made a quick get-away, saying a short goodbye, and turned as I blinked away tears and tried to swallow the lump that had formed in my throat. Bitter humiliation.
Just one more thing that will end up in my stomach.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Last night, there was a faculty/staff kick-off dinner for all who work at the university, and the whole night rocked my socks off. (Okay, well the standing in 100+ heat and humidity for several hours was less than comfortable, but the inside part of the night was great. Especially the blueberry cheesecake!) From the distinguished speakers, we heard about the amazing growth that Azusa Pacific University has gone through in the past year, both in terms of students and budget. Plus, the school was endowed with 5 fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls this summer. Five! Only three academic institutions in the country have DSS fragments, and neither of the other two schools have five. This is going to be amazing for the Biblical Studies department, and I hope that they'll be able to contract much more funding for outside scholars to come work on these tiny pieces dating back to 150 BC.
But, I guess what really impressed me about the whole evening was the sense of community and teamwork that exuded from everyone. We are all prayerful and excited about what this school year will bring, and I know that it is a blessing to teach for an institution that strives for God-honoring academic excellence. It's encouraging, you know?
As I begin this semester of my own education (which, often, is hard to distinguish from the education of others--just ask any teacher), there are three questions that I'm going to ask myself every day.
The Honesty Questions
1. Of the million things that "must" get done today, what are the one or two most important tasks?
--And I will work on those two things until they are done. No more schitzo, crazy Ph.D. student behavior. Only rational, God-honoring perseverance.
2. What can I do today to make tomorrow easier?
--And I will try to do it without whining or procrastinating. Whether it's getting all the dishes done before going upstairs, or reading 100 extra pages from the quals list if I know the next day will be too full to meet my pg. quota...
3. Is this healthy--emotionally, physically, spiritually?
--I'll be taking better care of myself, asking myself this question when I'm eating, drinking, driving, studying, talking to myself, reading, praying...
I would like to challenge each of you to come up with a system to make your days healthier, positive, and more enjoyable and productive. Ask yourself these questions, or --better yet--come up with your own three. And make it a point to be as honest as you can be as you answer your questions. (I'm talking to myself here, because I have a bad habit of tricking myself.)
I wish everyone a special back-to-school season. Surprise yourself at how awesome you can be!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I have some challenge updates to make, and I am SO excited to make these lists. They have been a long time in the making.
I've been reading steadily for months and months for Trish's Classics Challenge 2009, and these are a few of the classics that I am counting for this challenge. Trish broke the challenge into various categories, and I signed up for the Classics Feast, which means reading 6 classics. I also participated in the bonus round, which meant reading one extra book that I felt should someday be considered a classic. I don't have reviews for these books posted, mostly because I have finished them since the last time I posted, but also because...how does one review Hamlet? :) I'll add links to this page once I get more reviews typed. It will actually be really helpful as I study for qualifying exams.
My Classics Feast + Bonus
1) Hamlet by Shakespeare
2) Dracula by Bram Stoker
3) Villette by Charlotte Bronte
4) The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
5) The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins
6) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
7) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8) Hard Times by Charles Dickens
9) The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
10) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
11) Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
12) Bonus "someday" classic: The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson
The next challenge update I have is the 2009 Read-your-own-books Challenge. I'm doing really well on this one, and it mirrors the above list since I owned all of those novels...only with the exception of the last book, which I read from the library. So, I've completed both of these challenges!!
The final challenge update that I have tonight is the 100+ Challenge, which is shaping up pretty nicely. I count 53 books so far, although I need to go back through my records to find the others.
1. Caleb Williams by William Godwin
2. The Hudson Book of Fiction: 30 Stories Worth Reading
3. The Giver by Lois Lowry
4. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
5. The Messenger by Lois Lowry
6. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
7. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
8. Dracula by Bram Stoker
10. Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders by Bill Brittain
11. A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce
12. The Essence of the Thing by Madeleine St. John
13. The Wonderful O by James Thurber
14. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
15. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
16. The Law and the Lady by Wilkie Collins
19. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
1. Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
2. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
3. Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
5. Blasted by Sarah Kane
6. Henry V by William Shakespeare
7. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
8. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
9. King Lear by William Shakespeare
10. The Tempest by Williams Shakespeare
11. Much Ado About Nothing by Williams Shakespeare
1. At Day's Close by Ekirch
2. New England Funeral Sermons ed. by Bosco
3. The Book of Common Prayer
4. The Puritan Way of Death by David Stannard
5. Film Noir by Bruce Crowther
6. How to read literature like a professor by Thomas C. Foster
7. Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen
8. The Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
9. The Big Moo edited by Seth Godin
10. Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly
11. Detection & Its Designs: Narrative and Power in 19th-Century Detective Fiction by Peter Thoms
12. Perfecting Ourselves To Death: The Pursuit Of Excellence And The Perils Of Perfectionism by Richard Winter
13. All Cooked Up: Recipes and Memories from Elvis' Family and Friends
14. Students Must Write: Guide to Better Writing in Coursework and Examinations by Robert Barrass
more here...I'll have to find them
Volumes of Poetry
1. The Hudson Book of Poetry: 150 Poems Worth Reading
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Guess who just found out that she passed her Spanish language exam!! And with only one week of studying. SO EXCITED!! Now I can buckle down with my qualifying exam reading. Adios, mis amigos. I'm making my famous chicken enchiladas tonight in celebration.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson is a small little novel about the last month of a man's life with his loving wife. The two (Ambrose Zephyr and Zappora Ashkenazi, "Zipper" for short) live a simple and happy life in London. After being diagnosed with a terminal disease and only a month (give or take) to live, he decides to spend his last days traveling the world. Since the alphabet has nearly as many letters as there are days in a month, Ambrose whisks his wife off to one city per letter, such as "A is for Amsterdam, B is for Berlin..."
My favorite aspect of this novel was its linguistic simplicity. The story itself was complex with emotion and plotline; the characters zigzagged across Europe, and there were just as many flashbacks as there were "present-day" scenes. But the language was not over-embellished. The sentences were short and to the point, though they never felt choppy because they always contained a nugget of something special.
Luckily, readers spend the entire novel (from page one, essentially) preparing for Ambrose's death, otherwise I would have blubbered all the way through the conclusion. What starts out as a man's shocking diagnosis turns into--as the chapters proceed--an exploration of his wife's ability to deal with losing her husband. I thought this was one of the most beautiful books I've read this year, along with one I finished last week--The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa. The End of the Alphabet is a fast and meaningful read, and one that most definitely will stick with me for years to come.
Friday, June 12, 2009
There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)
But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect souffle. Rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.
What niche books do YOU read?
I love this question, if only because it makes me think about a lot of my favorite books!
My first niche is definitely 19th C. Victorian fiction, which is why I have built my future career around teaching this genre of literature. I love Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, the Brontes, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Marie Corelli...ALL OF THEM!!
My second niche is something that fits into niche 1 but has also expanded beyond that--classic and modernist detective fiction. Collins, Doyle, Agatha Christie :)
Niche 3 is cookbooks. I can't get enough of reading cookbooks. I enjoy the little side stories and information about food and nutrition, or the history of certain dishes, but I really love reading recipes. I don't care if I never make the item. I just love learning about food combinations and ingredients. I make probably 90% of our meals at home from scratch, so even if I don't use the recipes, they always help me with my own cooking. Just like Molly, I love reading muffin cookbooks. I also love cookie recipes and crock-pot ideas. Just recently I combined two of my obsessions (Elvis Presley and cooking) into one of my readings...a book called All Cooked Up: Recipes and Memories from Elvis' Family and Friends. The writing was abysmal, but the pictures and recipes were top notch. What I'm really looking for is a good Pie cookbook. Does anyone have any suggestions? So far I've been disappointed at the bookstores.
Thanks for the question!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
- All Cooked Up: Recipes and Memories from Elvis' Family and Friends
- Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Alice Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly
- The Big Moo: Stop Trying to be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable, edited by Seth Godin
- A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
How is everyone else doing on their summer challenges so far?
Friday, June 5, 2009
Since this is an epistolary novel, the story is told through the letters the characters send to each other, and the letters become continually more creative as the characters search desperately for ways to regain their freedom of speech and language. One of the most darling moments of the book is when our protagonist, Ella Minnow Pea, has no option left but to sign her name "LMNOP," as those are the only letters left hanging on the monument.
There's much more to the story, and I won't give away the ending, as it is a precious tale of love, creativity, and language that you would want to experience for yourself. But, I wanted to mention Ella Minnow Pea because I encountered another book in a similar vein called The Wonderful O by James Thurber. I was able to read it all in one sitting a few days ago while I waited for my husband to get out of a meeting.
Thurber's short children's book, originally published in 1957, has just been republished this year as part of the New York Review Children's Collection with illustrations by Marc Simont. As the story goes, two bad men, Littlejack and Black meet up with similar intentions--to seek treasure by sailing to a remote island on Black's ship, the Aeiu. He explains that he hates the letter "O" and therefore named his ship a word with all the vowels except O. With the help of a very vague map, Littlejack and Black sail Aeiu to the island and demand that the islanders give them all of their gems and treasures. When the islanders claim that they know of no such treasure, the bad men and their crew ransack the island, destroying everything in their paths that contains a letter O, even books. Furthermore, Black takes over the island and decrees that O must be "o"mitted from the language. Just like in Ella Minnow Pea, the community affected by the loss of letters attempts to overthrow the leadership to win back their rights and freedoms of speech.
Unlike Mark Dunn, Thurber does not attempt to write without using certain letters--in this case, O. In fact, he probably uses more O's than usual in order to show how beautiful the letter can be in our language, and how elegant and smooth it sounds in words of all kinds. Here is one of my favorite passages that demonstrates his style well:
"I'll take away from them," said Black, "everything that plays and has an O."
And so the following morning the crew went from house to house, seizing violins and cellos, trombones and horns and oboes, pianos, harpsichords, and clavichords, accordions and melodeons, bassoons and saxophones, and all the other instruments with O's, up to and including the woodwinds. A man and his wife who loved to play duets on mandolin and glockenspiel drifted apart. Children, forbidden the use of combs, could no longer play tunes on combs with tissue paper. The crew spent the afternoon breaking up an old calliope they had found rusting in a field, and taking apart a carillon.
"All they have is fifes and drums and cymbals," gloated Black.
"And zithers and guitars," said Littlejack. "And dulcimers and spinets, and bugles, harps and trumpets."
"Much good they'll get from these," said Black, "or any others. I haven't finished with the O's in music, in harmony and melody, that is, and compositions. They'll have no score, and what is more, no orchestra, or podium, or baton, and no conductor. They can't play symphonies, or rhapsodies, sonatas or concerti. I'll take away their oratorios and choirs and choruses, and all their soloists, their baritones and tenors and sopranos, their altos and contraltos and accompanists. All they'll have is the funeral march, the chant and anthem, and the dirge, and certain snatches."
"They'll still have serenades," said Littlejack.
Black made an evil and impatient gesture. "You can't serenade a lady on a balcony," he said, "if there isn't any balcony. Let them hum their hymns and lisp their litanies." Black's eyes began to glow as he names O-names that would have to go: "Scherzo, largo, and crescendo, allegro and diminuendo. Let the lyric writers have their Night in June. Much good it'll do 'em without the moon."
Both of these books are clever and fun to read. They intrigue our minds and remind us how beautiful words can be when they are unrestricted, unfettered by lowest-common-denominator standards of vocabulary, and free to play and create. I recommend both of these books, and I also recommend that you read aloud!
Friday, May 29, 2009
I told my husband after it was over, as we were meandering through the grocery store and I was trying to de-frag from the exam, "at least it wasn't excruciating. The Latin exam was excruciating. This was merely painful." I actually completed about 80% of the passage and felt good about 90% of that, so...I really hope I pass this test. I love languages, but I'm not a super-fast language learner.
In other news, tonight we're having friends over for my husband's famous burgers, my famous drinkies, and other good stuff. I am looking forward to unwinding con mis amigos a la fiesta. ;)
BUT BEFORE I can relax even just a bit, I have a meeting with a former professor who is willing to help me work out a filmography for my grant-funded research project for 2009-2010. Does anyone out there in the blogging world love classic films and film noir? I DO!! I've been analyzing the issue of females attacked in their sleep in crime movies and mysteries for a huge project. Let me know if you have any films in mind that I should add to my list. I love suggestions and recommendations! Ciao <3
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I love books. I love pink. I love coffee. I love to bake and cook. I love Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. I hate driving on the freeway.
Not too long ago, a new acquaintance asked me why I wanted my Ph.D. in English since I was already teaching at the college level at a good school. The obvious answer, probably the one I ventured forth to give her, was that I love my job, but eventually I hope to teach at an institution that is more research-focused along with the strong teaching emphasis that I have here. I want to earn a position among my colleagues that is worthy of my degree as well as a seat at the table --to discuss, debate, publish on issues that matter in the world of academia. I'm not pursuing the Ph.D. only to qualify for higher institution jobs. I am in this "mess" because I love literature with every fiber of my being, but I also love teaching, researching, diving into ideas and exploring new facets of imagination, and I love learning. Because I believe strongly that there is no better way to learn than trying to teach a subject, I have found the perfect career for myself. No matter how difficult, exhausting, and, at times, pull-out-my-hair frustrating this egotistical and hyper-political academic setting is..., simply, I love the challenge of working as hard as I can to accomplish the near-impossible, and it's a blessing that I get to work with books all year long.
But...that's not all I am. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter, a daughter-in-law. I rarely see my family (other than hubby, who is also a doctoral student at my school) more than twice a year--summer and Christmas. Luckily we're both from the same city, so we don't have to split our vacations between families. What a relief!
My husband Scott and I grew up in a medium-sized city in the Texas Panhandle. We have known each other since sixth grade, although we didn't start dating until college. For college, I moved out to southern California to attend a wonderful liberal arts Christian university, concentrating on honing my skills as a symphony violinist, and he attended Texas Tech as a trumpeter. I went to TTU for summer school (it was always more affordable than staying out in CA for the summer), so we got reacquainted at that point in our lives. After graduating with bachelors degrees in both music (violin performance) and English, and after a horrible and painful wrist and arm injury, I moved back to Texas Tech to work on my Master's degree in English. In 2007, Scott and I both completed our master's degrees (his in Music), got married (bliss!), and moved out to CA to start the next chapter of our lives together. I am so grateful that I'm not doing this all by myself. Grad school can be a very lonely process.
Now that we're at a private graduate university, pursuing our final degrees and pushing hard to survive this last huge academic hurdle (we have finished coursework and are now studying for qualifiying exams, then dissertation later), life is very interesting. I'm working as many as three jobs at a time to pay for rent, but I feel the exhilaration of reading and exploring literature. I still have anxiety about my performance, my knowledge, my understanding of a text...but at least I'm learning and trying to get better everyday at what I do.
I guess the moral of this story is...
My blog was not designed to be a strict book blog, so I don't want to force that label upon it, but it is--very often--about books! I don't have as much time as others to review and post everything I'm reading. I'm mostly reading obnoxiously (deliciously?) long 19th century Victorian novels for my degree. But, I will post reviews as often as I can, and talk about books or teaching or grad school or learning more broadly in almost every post. I am an avid book blog reader, and I subscribe to more each week. I am addicted to reading about books, even if I don't have time to read the books themselves. Thank you for your encouragement and comments during and since the read-a-thon. And thank you for letting me have a place, though perhaps a *quiet* place, in your reading as well. This blog is designed to be about love, faith, and learning, and my main goal here is to grow in all three.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I've also read one novel, The Essence of the Thing by Madeleine St. John (is that not just the greatest author name, or what?!). I'll try to tell you about it soon. I'm still sorting out my thoughts about it. I've also been reading classics and rearranging my bookshelves to try to get ready for qualifying exams. It's going to be a big summer!!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Anyway, sorry the Pink Bookmark has been quiet for the past few days. I've been working my rear off trying to get the Puritan paper done (it took me about five days longer than I was planning, whimper, whimper), and now that it's finally printed off and ready to hand in, I have to finish my Shakespeare text edit, which is due tomorrow.
SO...I have to get back to work. I just wanted to say hello to the bloggity blog world.
What I must do before the next time you hear from me:
Finish all my grading and input grades into system Finish Puritan Funeral Sermon Essay Finish Shakespeare's Henry V text edit Turn everything in, yell a feeble hurrah, fist pump in the air Dinner with Hubby's Seminar on John Adams (he's a contemporary composer) in Pasadena, 5 p.m. Friday Attend John Adams' opera in Los Angeles at Disney Hall Friday night. Attend the graduation of my lovely partners in crime at CGU, Jan, Sharone, and Stefani, who will be receiving their MA's in English on Saturday. Go Team! Attend the Champagne Reception, even though it isn't my graduation. I already have my MA, and won't be receiving my Phud for about two more years, but I fully support the graduations of others.
- Pack for mini-vacation w/ Hubby, bikini, sun-block, six or seven books, not much else.
- Escape for three days
- Come back in time for Scott's interview at APU
- Catch up on all the blogging action I missed while I was gone!
Friday, May 8, 2009
As this semester winds down, I am getting more and more excited about reading for quals. Especially, I am looking forward to reading all of my amazing 19th century novels that have been patiently, oh so quietly, sitting on the shelves waiting for me to pick them up with a voracious hunger for learning.
So, of course I joined another challenge.
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (in progress)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (in progress)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
- Adam Bede by George Eliot
- The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope
- Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Friday, May 1, 2009
Because this pill, called Longevity, keeps the elderly (and everyone else, for that matter) alive indefinitely, the world population has skyrocketed, and the government has made procreation illegal in order to curb overcrowding and violence. Every citizen since 2080 has been forced to sign a declaration, which states that they will not bear children. Any child born to parents who take Longevity pills will be ripped away from them at birth, labeled “surplus” children, and forced to work off their parents’ “sins” at a Surplus boarding school while the parents serve prison sentences.
Surplus Anna has grown up as an illegal citizen at a school called Grange Hall. She hates her parents because she has been indoctrinated by her superiors, particularly the head-mistress Mrs. Pincent, to believe that her parents did her an enormous injustice by conceiving her illegally and forcing her to live outside of the law. When Peter, an older surplus boy arrives at the school, one who has been kept hidden by an underground movement of rebels all his life, Anna is stuck watching after him and teaching him the Surplus doctrine of obedience and submission. However, Peter has other plans. He tells her that he knows her parents, that her name is not Surplus Anna—it’s Anna Covey, and that he has come to break her out of Grange Hall. The majority of the novel follows the adventures of Anna and Peter as they risk their lives to escape from slavery and fight for ordinary freedoms such as conversation, looking people in the eyes, owning simple possessions such as journals, and seeing the world outside the confines of gray cement walls.
This book, as a young adult fiction novel, was a fast and suspenseful read. I loved Anna’s journal entries to which the readers were privy, and I felt like these few-and-far-between entries were much better than the prose sections, which did not feel youthful enough. Malley wrote with a strong sense of urgency, and her political platform occasionally got in the way of the beautiful language she clearly was capable of. Even with Malley’s tendency to over-write the controversial sections (probably trying to hammer her point so as not to be misunderstood), the novel held my attention and gripped my heartstrings. My heart broke for Anna’s misinterpretations of the world and her place in it, and I became emotionally attached to her wellbeing.
My favorite line that described Anna was, "The girl had always looked like she willingly carred the weight of the world on her shoulders and still thought it wasn't enough of a burden" (210). Sound familiar, anyone? Now you know why I enjoyed it.
I recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys utopian/dystopian novels or futuristic adolescent fiction. Malley’s Anna is a far cry from a Judy Blume or Lois Lowry teenager, but she has a beautiful heart and longs for acceptance in a cruel world. I can't wait to read the sequel!
My rating: 4 stars
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I have give this award to the following lovely ladies: