Wednesday, November 04, 2009
With my project push on, it is important that I take that time to focus on my writing, right?
Well, not if I listen to my husband, who encouraged me to upgrade to Windows 7.
Why, why, why?
I know these things never go as quickly or smoothly as you want them to. I KNOW that. However, because I am currently able to get a special student deal (Windows 7 Home Premium for $29.99), I decided to go ahead. My computer has been having these little hiccups for awhile now so I've been hoping the upgrade would take care of these persistent problems. The jury is still out on that. However, the jury is not still out on finding myself guilty of software-installing naivete and misguided persistence in the face of overwhelming odds.
12 hours. By the time it was all said and done, attempting to install the update, finding fixes for my Toshiba issues, realizing my computer wasn't responding well to those issues, performing a clean install, reinstalling Office 2007... what a nightmare.
in the middle of all that, I had to take my son for his senior pictures... my son who HATES getting his picture taken.
So... I ended up actually being online to look for fixes and stuff... but I DID stay away from Facebook and Twitter. It was tempting to whine and vent but I refrained... until here and now!
I am so frustrated that my good intentions to get one or two sections of my literature review written got sucked into the Software Time Wasters Universe. There were several points in the day when I think I should have told myself to STOP! and work on the computer later. But I didn't.
Looking at the brighter side of my disastrous day, my computer is ready to go. Today I have some obligations in the evening but I have ALL day to get back to work. Developmental Education and the Millennial Generation, here I come.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
This year? I just can't do it. I have too much on my proverbial plate. However, I did think I would try to do something a little different. You see, I am trying something new. I am self-binding. And while that does conjure up an image for me that is less than pleasant, it is actually an attempt to create some space in my life... space that The Internet is taking up. The author of the article, Stop Your Search Engines, defines self-binding as...
"intentionally creating an obstacle to behavior I was helpless to control, much the way Ulysses lashed himself to his ship's mast to avoid succumbing to the Sirens' song..."
I've announced this on Twitter and Facebook so many of you will already know about this. However, here at Life, the Universe and Everything, I thought I might take some of my Internet-allowed time to share a little bit of my experience as I go along.
Regular readers (Hi there, all 5 of you!) will know that I am really, truly, FINALLY trying to write my masters' project. Life had thrown a few obstacles in my path. I have thrown a few obstacles in my path. But the countdown is on. I need to start knocking out chapters... like NOW, baby. But I am addicted to my social networking time. I had discussed this with my sister-in-law and when she read the article, she forwarded it to me. I don't have the right computer (a Mac) to install the program that it mentions, called Freedom, which lets you tell the computer when NOT to let you use the Internet. However, I do have a removable wireless card for my laptop, which is a long, embarrassing story of a woman who was so anxious to order her new computer that she accidentally deselected the internal wireless card during the ordering process.
The good news, though, is that allows me to hand over my wireless card to my husband at 10 a.m. and retrieve it from him at 8 p.m. These are somewhat random hours... it gives me time to do a little hanging out on Twitter with some of the bestest people ever in the morning and also attempts to make me available to my family for the afternoon and evening--without a laptop in between us.
Yesterday was Day One of my Ulysses-inspired experiment and things actually went very well. I did a little bit of writing on my project but the most beneficial aspect of it all was that I interacted with my family in a more meaningful way. It is really quite embarrassing to admit this but I am really glued to the computer for hours and hours a day. Homework was completed with less frustration and no raised voices... bedtime happened with less bother.... I felt better about myself to be honest. I did experience some anxiety about an hour or two before 8 p.m. but I think that was more due to worries about the writing process for my project than withdrawal from Web 2.0.
Over the next month, I am planning on giving updates... on my writing progress... on the dynamic at home... anything related to this bid at reclaiming space in my life. I'll see you around the 'verse... before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m., Monday through Friday!
Monday, October 26, 2009
That would be my life-draining experience for the week. I have a tendency toward anxiety and this week it has been an issue. I am going out of town tomorrow and getting to my destination requires getting on a plane--for hours. I hate flying.
I am going to a conference where I am going to co-present at a small conference session. It is my first professional conference and I want to do well.
While I am there, I will be working on my masters' project. I am a little (!!) behind and need the time away from home to get a good start on my first two chapters. It is a critical time--a do or die kind of time.
So... I think most people would agree that there is some reason to be anxious.
Except there's that pesky verse in the Bible:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 (NAS)
And that leads me to my life-giving experience for the week.
That is kind of a wild concept, isn't it? I prayed. I had some things to confess and the anxiety was weighing on me. So I went through some prayers from a book. My own words have been sorely lacking. Dealing with grief and some depression has left me inarticulate in prayer. I rest on the promise that the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf but I also like using prayers others have written.
I woke up early this morning. I made myself stay awake as I will have to be adjusting to a new time zone AND I am getting up early, early, early for my flight. With the morning, I am feeling some anxiety again. There is lots to do to get ready... and the thought of that plane ride hovering at the forefront of my consciousness.
So, instead of spending the day in worry and fear, I am getting ready to pray.
It will help. And I am grateful for that.
Every Monday (well, sometimes on Tuesdays), I host Sleeping with Bread, a spiritual reflection meme, over here. Right now, my participation is a little sketchy. I usually get the host post up--and lately, my friend, Tara has been helping out with that--but I don't always participate with my own time of reflection. I am actually trying to do better at that. The discipline is good for me. If you head over there, you'll find this entry cross-posted and some links to others' contributions.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
When I Am Old I Will Wear Clothes Appropriate for My Age!
When I am an old woman,
I shall clothes wear clothes appropriate for my age - -
With or without a hat as long as it goes,
and looks good on me.
And I shall spend my money
on books and movies
(and maybe a trip to Ireland)
and probably more and more skin care products,
because, DANG, it was easier to be holier-than-thou when I was 20 and wrinkle-free.
I shall sit where ever I can find a comfortable seat when I'm tired
and Lord help me, if I am gobbling up samples in shops
without regard to my health
and thinking I can still be as active as a young person,
while forgetting what it was like to be young and stupid.
I won't mind wearing my slippers in the rain but hope that
I only pick flowers in other people's gardens if I have permission
and NEVER learn to spit!
I don't want to wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat a pan of brownies all by myself,
or only bread and butter for a week,
and collect coat hangers
and sugar packets and Styrofoam popcorn.
I have responsibilities now like raising my kids,
and paying my bills,
and not driving while talking on my cell phone,
and setting a good example for the children.
But I enjoy having dinner with friends and talking about things.
And I don't want to be a different kind of person
So that people who knew me are shocked and surprised
when suddenly I am old, and stop acting like myself!
Monday, October 19, 2009
I went a little insane the other night. One of the people I follow decided to hold a contest to give away a Google Wave invite. Here is the transcript of what happened. (Note: I use TweetDeck, a Twitter managing application. Sometimes the tweets are posted out of order.)
D. B. Grady, author and tweeter extraordinaire makes an announcement:
dbgrady Okay people listen up! I've got Google Wave invites, but you've got to earn them. The first person to answer this question gets invite #1
dbgrady On my blog, I compare the "water breaking" during childbirth to a scene from this movie. http://dbgrady.wordpress.com. Go!
a_crezo @dbgrady the shining. And it's like that. But I don't want an invite. :)
MaryLUE @dbgrady @a_crezo Give me hers, then. I'm curious what all the fuss is about.
MaryLUE @dbgrady Unless it's the Watchmen
dbgrady The water breaking during childbirth is like that elevator scene from The Shining! @kaosblaze FTW!
a_crezo Yeah, @dbgrady, hand it over to @MaryLUE. I like her. :)
MaryLUE @a_crezo Thx! The feeling is mutual. And the bugger @dbgrady already gave it away!
a_crezo @MaryLUE lol! I bet he's got some more contests up his sleeve.
dbgrady One more Google Wave invite giveaway tonight...
dbgrady First to answer gets Google Wave invite #2: On my blog, I frequently mention conversations a close fellow reader. What's her name?
MaryLUE @dbgrady I DO NOT KNOW!!!!!
dbgrady @MaryLUE Start reading :)
MaryLUE @dbgrady I'm skimming as we speak.
MaryLUE @dbgrady R we allowed more than 1 guess? If so, I'm gonna throw a dart & say @a_crezo. If not, then that's not my guess.
a_crezo @MaryLUE it's not. Lol
MaryLUE @dbgrady K. Rachel Sternbergen-Friedman
dbgrady @MaryLUE Nope, not @a_crezo.
dbgrady @MaryLUE Keep trying.
dbgrady So close! @Synchrome, you lost to @MaryLUE by 10 seconds! Better luck next time! :) Mary, DM me your email address.
a_crezo @MaryLUE yay! Have fun making embarrassing social gaffs with @dbgrady. I'm too self-concious for GWave. Lol
MaryLUE @dbgrady Aaralyn Montgomery
MaryLUE @dbgrady Pamela S. Thibideaux
MaryLUE @dbgrady Angie
dbgrady @MaryLUE You already won! It was K. Rachel! Send me your email and I'll invite you.
MaryLUE @dbgrady Melissa Techman
MaryLUE @dbgrady Your baby.
a_crezo @dbgrady TweetDeck is having seizures. I think she's missing some tweets. Lol
via Direct Message:
dbgrady LOL STOP GUESSING! You WON! Send me your email address so I can invite you! :)
MaryLUE @a_crezo The TOTALLY hilarious part of this is that I really do not even know what Google Wave is or does or WHY I'd want it!
via Direct Message:
dbgrady It was K. Rachel. You won by 10 seconds. :)
MaryLUE @a_crezo @dbgrady And yes, I can see know that I missed a tweet! I blame it on my intense focus in skimming & scanning the blog.
MaryLUE @dbgrady P.S. Thanks!
MaryLUE @a_crezo @dbgrady see "NOW" not "know"
MaryLUE FWIW Twitterverse, I have know been invited to Google Wave. Once I know what it is, I'll tell you if I like it!
None of the names have been changed because they were all on public pages.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here's a sample of books I've started:
Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Lord is My Shepherd by Harold Kushner
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Those poor books! They don't deserve to be neglected like this. I think a need a prescription from the doctor that says I HAVE to read for 30 minutes a day. No matter what. Not that I do everything my doctor tells me to do.
Anyway, I was just wondering have any of you ever experienced Reader's Block? If so, do you know what caused it? How long did it last? Do you remember the first books you read after your reading slump was over?
Cross posted at T-Dot Bloggers Book Club.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
For months now, I haven't had any problems with it. I didn't really think about the fact that I wasn't having my wee hours-wake ups. And then the pressure to get going on my final push for grad school began. Guess what? More insomnia. It's so frustrating.
Today I worked for hours to get the product part of my project ready to email to my advisor. I finished and emailed it at 11:59 pm. (I'd originally promised it on Friday and then repromised it on Monday.) I was glad to get it turned in--just in the nick of time. I considered waiting to send it until tomorrow (TODAY actually) so that I could have someone look over it for me. But Nooooooo, I was getting to anxious to have it in my advisor's inbox. So I sent it.
I had to unwind for awhile so it was about 1 am before I headed off to bed. And then Marley had a nightmare. (Remind not to let her watch any Harry Potter movies for a long, long time.) I had just barely drifted off when she came in to tell me about her bad dream. (David Tennant as Barty Crouch, Jr. was the culprit.) Great. Now I was awake and trying to get back to sleep. What thoughts drifted in my head? A sudden realization that I maybe hadn't explained aspects of my project. Did I really turn in a curriculum handbook that didn't have all the information in the instructor notes? I think I did.
Yes, I said CRAP on my blog.
Now I can't get back to sleep. It's 3 am. and I'm surfing the internet, playing Word Challenge on Facebook, exhausted as can be. Sleep just slithers right on by me.
So I reckoned, if I had to suffer through it, you might as well suffer reading about it.
I'm probably going to regret this when I get up--if I ever manage to get to sleep.
Morose, possibly inept, seriously sleepy, Mary-LUE
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Well, not EVERYTHING but after a post about Life that was followed by a post about the Universe, it was a given what this one would be called.
So here is a list of LOTS of things that I love about my town.
- The Jacaranda trees that bloom every spring
- The downtown market that shows how much community we have in our community
- Frati Gelato! The YUMMIEST gelato and sorbet made by someone who went to gelato school in Italy. Did you KNOW there was such a thing as gelato school?
- 25 minutes to the beach
- 45 minutes to the mountains
- My daughter's alternative, multiage class in a public school
- Hill!!! Paul and I lived in Texas for almost four years and it was FLAT where we lived. I love our hills.
- Excellent restaurants. I think we have a surprisingly large number of restaurants that have very good food.
- Old houses. We have some lovely old houses. I love old houses.
- Starbucks. I know, I know. Starbucks is so ubiquitous. I don't care. I like not being more than five minutes away from a Starbucks not matter where I am at in town. So sue me.
- My son's high school. It has excellent programs... the arts, honors, a farm (!), a culinary school, a nationally ranked speech & debate team (and yes, sports). It also is over 100 years old. Again with the old. I like old. Which leads me to. . .
- Hosted at the 100+ year old high school auditorium, the Orange County Theatre Organ Society shows silent movies accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ. The next showing is Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror. I think that's pretty cool.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
And I've been thinking since then that I would try to write this next post about the Universe... and then a post about Everything. But there is a wee problem with that...
Right now my Universe is just so small. All I can see are the proverbial trees and not the forest. There is so much going on right now... issues over health care reform... H1N1 flu preparedness... the continuing recession... and that's just the U.S. I don't have the energy, though, to think too much about those issues. In some part, that is due to how emotionally charged the Internet is. If I were to really try to write about the Universe these days, it would probably have more to do with incivility, a determined mindset to outsnark those who think/act/believe differently from you, the demonizing of "the other," a general unwillingness to ask questions... and most of all, a complete abundance of Absolute Certainty. It exhausts me--all this Certainty.
I am living with too many certainties... including those age old favorites: death and taxes. I received a long, long document from the lawyer for my mom's estate. I haven't been able to make myself go through it yet. I've just peeked at it enough to see that I need three years of tax returns for my mom--but she didn't keep any of those records. I have to set up a separate bank account in the name of the estate--but there's no money to put in it. When I set my mind to these issue, my body rebels. I feel a tightening in my chest, a queasiness in my stomach. I get a very clear picture of an ostrich with its head firmly buried in the ground.
All that and the pressure of deadlines for grad school... kids who need their mother to be emotionally present... the ongoing challenges of my father's estate... a house that's fit for How Clean is Your House... knees that have gone wonky, preventing me from doing any real amount of exercise.
And I cannot STAND writing about all this... because I think I sound like a big, whiny child... because I am feeling so crappy about it all that I cannot balance it--like I usually can--with the sunny side of things. I function in two modes: Denial or Depression. (Before I get a bunch of worried comments and emails, I HAVE started seeing a therapist--just last week.)
I KNOW things will get better. I KNOW this is all temporary. This knowledge comes from two things: my Faith in Christ and my previous experience when Life has overwhelmed me. I know that however long it takes, it will just be a portion of my life--not the entirety of it.
In the meantime, the Universe will have to wait.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Death certificates… forwarded mail… letters from banks… just a few of the things Life brings you when there is a death in the family.
Emergency card forms… homework folders… payments for lunch accounts… just a few of the things Life brings you when a new school year begins.
Ash from fires miles away… air conditioners running incessantly… tears and tempers… just a few of the things Life brings you when the traditional end of summer heat wave arrives.
Lunch with friends… talks in restaurant parking lots and the phone… greetings on Facebook… encouraging tweets… just a few of the things Life brings you when you are experiencing the above.
Sadness… gratitude… restlessness… confusion… anger… lethargy… avoidance… many of the feelings I've been having as I live this Life right now.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This is it. The last week of summer vacation for my family. My tweenage daughter starts 4th grade next Monday and my teenage son starts his senior year in high school the following Thursday. Looking back over the summer, there have been a few "worst things" and a few "best things."
I never got any real work done on my master's project. I had hoped to finish it... then I hoped to get a big chunk of it written... then I hoped to get the reading for it finished...
Let me just insert a huge sigh here.
I also was working on getting into shape and losing some weight. After a great start, my knees went out on me and that has stalled my progress.
How about another sigh?
Finally, the BIG one that you all know about. My mother's sudden death. I'll not be too flip with this one. It's complicated and sad and one of those life changing events that you cannot avoid. It happens and when it does, you have choices on how to deal with it--but it becomes a central part of your life for awhile.
Still, that's not all there is to this loaf of summer bread...
I am in a very good position to truly begin working on my project. I have the actual curriculum completed. I've got all my reading together to go over. I have a good friend working with me to help me with accountability.
I've not really gained much ground in my quest for physical fitness but I haven't really lost any ground either. In spite of a few weeks of careening off the diet track when my mom died, I am pretty much back on the tracks. It isn't perfect but I am not letting all that happened interfere completely with my efforts to get healthier.
Although the trip back to Oklahoma was not expected, it did give my kids a vacation. They got to play with cousins, hang out in a place where there was more to hold their attention than television and video games. In spite of the sad circumstances, I believe they experienced some rest and relaxation and relationship building.
I can't say I am looking forward to the fall. It brings some demands for me... that I act with discipline and commitment. I will be getting knee deep in probate matters for my mom's estate. The kids will have very different schedules and my husband will be, as always, a man on the road. I know, though, that with all its demands, life will also bring me comforts and joys. And those? Those I look forward to.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I'm a little worded out right now about it all so for my Sleeping with Bread post, I thought I'd share some pictures from the trip. The pictures encompass some of the grief and some of the joy in that trip.
I hope to be more regular with posting as we head into the school year. I realize how much Twitter and Facebook--and life, the universe and everything--has been interfering with this blog. In the meantime, if you want to check out more Sleeping with Bread posts, here is a link to this week's bread.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Actually, now is the time on Life, the Universe and Everything when I drool over the Comic Con schedule and renew my promise to myself to go one day. In what will either be one of the blogverse's most boring posts or the most saliva-inducing depending on your Comic Con orientation, here are the panels that caught my eye:
Who wouldn't want to get the scoop on the science fiction you should be reading:
10:30-11:30 Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life— The staff of io9.com, Eisner Award–winning author Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics), and others talk about science fiction from the last year that does more than blow things up. It might also blow your mind. What science fiction should you be reading and watching if you want your brain to grow so big it pops out of the top of your skull and starts throbbing and shooting lasers? The panelists have some tips. Room 8
Terry Gilliam. Need I say more?
4:30-5:15 Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus— Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of both Comic-Con and Monty Python, we welcome the sole American Python, the great animator and director Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Brazil, 12 Monkeys) to introduce you to his new film starring Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Colin Farrell, Jude Law, Verne Troyer, Tom Waits, and Lily Cole. Dr. Parnassus is a fabulous anachronism, touring the streets of modern-day London in a horse-drawn carnival wagon accompanied by his beautiful daughter, devoted dwarf, and neophyte barker. On stage Parnassus plays a holy man whose Imaginarium can realize the innermost fantasies of all who dare to enter. Backstage, he is a drunkard, a gambler who centuries ago lost a wager with the Devil and must now pony up with his daughter once she turns sixteen. Tomorrow. Yet, there may still be hope for the Doctor and Valentina in the person of Tony, a well-dressed amnesic they rescue from a perilous fate and invite into their world of unrelenting magic and possibility. Hall H
Bones! David Boreanaz! Emily Deschanel! If Sweets were going to be there, I just might have to sneak my way in.
3:00-3:45 Bones— Showrunner Hart Hanson and stars David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel are on hand for a discussion of what's on deck for Booth and Brennan, hot on the heels of this year's much talked-about season finale in which the pair finally wound up between the sheets. Ballroom 20
Anything w/Joss Whedon involved. Any. Thing.
4:00-5:15 Dollhouse— Join Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star/producer Eliza Dushku for a no-holds-barred Q & A about what they have planned for season 2, after they unveil a special screening of the never-before-seen "Epitaph One" episode of the Fox hit, which releases on DVD just four days later. Ballroom 20
5:15-6:00 Joss Whedon— After the Dollhouse presentation, stick around for 45 minutes of information and Q&A with Joss Whedon about his upcoming Dark Horse Comics projects! Ballroom 20
Okay, this was just too much to resist. My one time attendance at a Star Trek convention notwithstanding, this is a show I would love to see.
7:45-8:45 Klingon Lifestyles Presentation— This latest mission of the IKV Stranglehold finds the crew giving assistance to the IKRV Hurgh Hap on a First Contact Mission, but problems from the planet's inhabitants and an agent from Klingon Imperial Intelligence complicate matters. How will the crew handle this situation and still keep their honor? All species are welcome to experience the ongoing voyage and adventure of life aboard a Klingon vessel. Room 6A
This one ought to be interesting given that Fox has just announced that they are recasting most of these actors in the new episodes.
1:00-1:45 Futurama: Life or Death?!— Be a part of sci-fi history! Join executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Maurice LaMarche for high-stakes thrills as a top-ranking FOX executive decides live, on stage, whether Futurama will make yet another triumphant return or whether it is gone forever! The very fate of Futurama hangs in the balance! Paramedics will be standing by in case the intense excitement causes any panelists to collapse. Raucous celebration or abject despair to follow the news. Ballroom 20
Discussion of Bram Stoker AND Joss Whedon? Oh yeah, baby.
1:30-2:30 Bram Stoker: The Joss Whedon of His Day?— Moderator Leslie Klinger (The New Annotated Dracula), an authority on the influence on generations of storytellers of Stoker's work, discusses Stoker's impact with panelists Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt (Dracula: The Un-Dead), Jeanne Stein (The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles), Chris Marie Green (The Path of Razors), Tony Lee (From the Pages of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula': Harker), J. F. Lewis (Staked), and Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). Room 5AB
She is an icon.
2:30-3:30 Spotlight on June Foray— She's the first lady of cartoon voices! Comic-Con special guest June Foray, known for her memorable work with a certain moose and squirrel (Bullwinkle and Rocky, the Flying Squirrel, that is), returns to Comic-Con for the 40th show. Mark Evanier and Earl Kress interview June about her career as a voice actress, author, and Hollywood legend. Room 5AB
I first started reading science fiction in junior high & a lot of it was Ray Bradbury.
3:30-4:30 Spotlight on Ray Bradbury— The legendary fantasy and science fiction writer is once again a Comic-Con special guest, as he was for the very first show in 1970. Ray Bradbury will discuss his new books, plays, and other projects with his long-time friend, writer and producer Arnold Kunert, and biographer Sam Weller. Room 6BCF
It's Dr. Who! You HAVE to go to this one.
10:00-11:00 Dr. Who— Actor David Tennant, writer/executive producer Russell T Davies, director Euros Lyn, and executive producer Julie Gardner discuss their creative process and experiences working on BBC America's Doctor Who—television's longest-running sci-fi series—with exclusive clips and a Q&A session. Ballroom 20
I don't read Christian comics & to be honest, a lot of Christian media sends me right 'round the bend. Still, listening in on this discussion could be very interesting or very infuriating.
10:00-11:00 Christian Comics Meeting— What are the different ways that Christian creators express their faith through their art? How can "new media" best be used to communicate timeless truths? Discuss the latest trends of the Christian comics movement with moderator Buzz Dixon (Serenity, Goofyfoot Gurl) and panelists Eric Jansen (Foursquare Missions Press), Leo Partible (Behind the Screen: Insiders on Faith, Film & Culture), and others. A short sermon and worship music will precede the panel discussion. Room 24A
Well, Duh! Reading is my thing. I've not spent almost two years in grad school for nothing! (Actually, this just sounds very intriguing.)
11:00-12:30 Secret Origin of Good Readers— AKA "Evil Plots to Get Kids Reading." The 9th annual Secret Origin of Good Readers panel consists of Dr. Robyn A. Hill (National University, San Diego), Mimi Cruz (Night Flight Comics, Salt Lake City), Bill Galvan (creator/artist The Scrapyard Detectives, artist for Archie Comics), Dr. Bill McGrath (National University), and Jim Valentino (creator/publisher Silverline Books/Image Comics). The panelists will discuss how teachers, librarians, retailers, authors, artists, and publishers can work together to bring comic books into the classroom for use as an innovative and motivating cross-curricular teaching tool and a vehicle for promoting reading and literacy. Through a multimedia presentation, personal remarks, and a question-and-answer session, the speakers will present an overview of the medium and highlight specific ways that comic books and graphic novels can be used to engage a variety of learners. Breakout sessions will follow the main presentation. The 70-page resource book The Secret Origin of Good Readers is available for free download by clicking here courtesy of XMission.com. Room 3
Thursday, July 02, 2009
This is a perfect project for me because I am notorious for buying books and then not reading them. Whenever anyone comes over to my house and makes noises about being impressed at what they find on my shelves, I feel compelled to disclose that many, many of them have not been read.
I made a quick run through the two main book depositories in my house and came up with the following books that I have but haven't read yet and still WANT to read. (This does not include the books on my summer reading list.) There are a few I left out because I am very ambivalent about them. Life is too short to read books you aren't interested in.
Without further adieu, Mary-LUE's Neglected Books List (in no particular order):
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
- The Path to the Spiders' Nest by Italo Calvino
- The Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell
- A People Betrayed by Alfred Döblin
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
- The Illustrated Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
- Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner
- The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
- The Gifts of the Christ Child & Other Stories and Fairy Tales by George MacDonald
- The Short Day Dying by Peter Hobbs
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- Real Christianity by William Wilberforce
- Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
- The Rock That is Higher by Madeleine L'Engle
- Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
- Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation by Neil Howe and William Strauss
So, there it is, my list of books that have been left unread. I am so itching to explain why each book is on the list. But is that really necessary? Do you need to know which ones were book club selections that I didn't have time to read or which ones I bought because I liked the cover, etc. The only one I will explain is the last one. Most of my reading for my Master's project is journal articles. However, I need to at least get through a good chunk of this book. This one is a MUST READ and a MUST READ SOON actually. I'm hoping by posting it, I will get motivated to actually get started.
I wouldn't be me if I didn't decide to add a little bit to this project. If people are going to be coming by to look at my list of neglected books, I think I will take advantage of their presence to list a few of my "wish everyone would read and love" books. It's much shorter than the first one. I promise.
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I think this story is worth reading, even if you are not a science fiction fan.
- The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Don't let Barbra Streisand's film version interfere with this very compelling story of the adult lives of three children from an abused family.
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. This book won a Pulitzer Prize for a reason. It transcends the Western genre because of it's wit and in-depth characterization of the men of the Hat Creek Cattle Company.
- Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. Simply one of my favorite books ever and, I think, one of Coupland's best.
- All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland. This book is very different than Microserfs but still retains Coupland's ever present theme of dysfunctional families and community.
- A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley. This is a book I bought because I liked the cover. I was working at a job where there was very little for me to do and so I read and read and read. It is the story how one man, Tucker Caliban, began the mass exodus all black people from a Faulkneresque Southern state. This is a book that has never failed me as a book recommendation. Every person who has read it based on my suggestion has loved it.
- Kindred by Octavia Butler. There are many different reasons to read this book but the BEST reason to read it is the fascinating story of an African American woman who is inexplicably drawn through time to the pre-Civil War South.
And finally, because I am just feeling a little bit cantankerous, here is one book I came across on my shelves that I could have gone my whole life without reading:
So let me know what you think of these books. Have you read any of them? What are your favorites? If you WANT to know why I have these particular books on my list or if you just can't stand some of my recommended books, let me know. Reading is such a subjective endeavor. I know that something I think is the best thing since chocolate truffles might be someone else's cold oatmeal. And if you are interested in participating, head over to Veronica's place and leave your link in the comments to her post.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
So I looked up the poem and read it and I'm thinking, oh yes, this will be good.
And then I read some of the commentary about what certain words meant in Victorian times and decided... nah, I'm not gonna do that. Instead, I'll stick with the metaphor my doctor used... the age old story of the tortoise and the hare.
At 20something, if I had decided I was going to work hard to get into shape, I could have worked out hard and often and seen quick results.
At 40something, I decided to work hard to get into shape. My body screamed NO WAY in the form of shin splints and a painful knee. I talked to the chiropractor about the shin splints and came up with a plan. I talked to the doctor about the knee and he obliterated my plan.
No jumping jacks.
No jumping rope.
No daily exercise.
Now, this wouldn't be necessary if I was already accustomed to exercising. It's the fact that I am 44 and grossly out of shape combined that are making my knee hurt. There is no specific injury to it. It is just getting worn out. Nothing is going to change that.
Instead, here is my new plan: Aleve once a day while the knee hurts. Once the knee stops hurting, I can do fitness walking for 10 minutes at a time, three times per week.
30 minutes a week for cardio.
If I do that for a month and my knee doesn't hurt, I can add two minutes to each session. Two minutes. Not five. Definitely not ten. I'm not strictly limited to walking. Dr. LUE says that (for me) legs are for walking, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers (maybe), and swimming.
This new plan is depressing. I need to lose weight and exercise because I am not feeling well and a number of the issues that are contributing to that are weight/fitness related. I want to make some good progress--NOW. But Dr. LUE says that I need to look at the long term picture. I need to be the tortoise, not the hare.
So if you see a tortoise gathering rosebuds by the side of the road... that will be me. Wish me luck!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sleeping with Bread day.
I did not want to write a post today. I had a migraine yesterday. I actually woke up and couldn't see straight because of the aura I get right as a migraine is starting. THAT is a bummer of a way to begin the day. It was also my second migraine in just a few days and it takes a while for me to get back to a state of equilibrium after that.
I am trying to be more consistent in my SWB posts... in posting in general so I am going to try to write something coherent. Bear with me.
I think as I look back over the past week, memories have brought me both consolation and desolation.
With all the coverage of Michael Jackson's death, I've been revisiting some unresolved issues from my past. I know... that sounds a little weird. It's just one of those tangential things. It isn't Mr. Jackson's death itself. It's the wondering about his life and what you make of it and then thinking about other people's lives and wondering what to make of them. Some dead Greek guy once said something to the effect that you should not judge a man's life happy until the end of his days. Along those lines, I'm wondering how you judge a man's life at the end of his days. As people debate the true legacy that Michael Jackson leaves behind, I've been thinking about a person in my life. He died a long time ago and I will not go into the details here, but I STILL do not know what to do with his life... was he a good person? a bad person? a victim? someone who victimized others? all of the above? none of the above? The reality is that I will probably NEVER be able to sort all that out. Never. But it HAS been on my mind this week and it makes me sad.
Still, remembrances of the past, have also been pleasant this week. On Saturday night, I went to go hear some friends perform at a local restaurant. My husband was playing guitar for them and one of Marley's teachers joined me for a grown up night out. The band that followed them, a group called The Sorries, includes a number of acquaintances. The drummer was the first person who lived with our family when we moved into this house. He needed a place to stay for a few weeks and that turned into a few months. He was a great guy. He still is. He plays drums for our church once in a while but I had not seen him in a band-type setting for a long time. He reminded me of our first months in this house, my son before he started school, our dog (Bob!), and my job working with college students at the church.
The bass player was part of a band that Paul and I both enjoyed very much. They were great musicians, FUN (FUN!!!) guys, intelligent. That band broke up and the guys--for the most part--got married and "settled" down. The bass player reminded me of the community of musicians that we knew for a long time. So much talent, but more importantly, so many good people. People who cared about others, were creative, and enjoyed life.
Finally, the guitar player is someone I've known since he was starting high school. His family was part of our small group from church for years. This small group was such a joy for our family. Although we journeyed together through many sorrows, there were also many celebrations. There was such an acceptance amongst this group of people. There is a passage in the Bible that often gets quoted to describe the ideal Christian community and our small group embodied many of these characteristics:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
What fun it was to be reminded of all those people and experiences just by watching one band perform!
Thanks for reading my ramblings, which may or may not have made any sense!
There are other Sleeping with Bread posts to be found here.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Tonight, though, I am challenging myself to write this post before heading over to the SWB blog to write the host post. I'm feeling a little less funkish tonight. It is a beautiful breezy, cool night here. My husband is back in town after a long business trip. There was a good sermon on discipleship at church this morning. I've been inspired by reading about the life of Simone Weil. Whatever the reason, I am up for this task tonight. So here I go:
In the last however long, what has caused you desolation?
My Body, My Self. Working against the weight I've gained, the continued struggle against the infernal CPAP machine, middle-age hormones running amok all contribute to feeling like I'm going through my days trying to walk quickly through quicksand. The hormones have been bad enough that I'm actually thinking how nice a hysterectomy would be. This coming from the woman whose always believed that hysterectomies are often unnecessary and should only be a last resort. Now? Getting rid of that thing sounds like a nice idea sometimes.
She's not my little girl any more. I've also been experiencing some grief--that maternal grief that comes as you watch your children grow up. Marley has moved from being a little girl to a full-fledged tween. Her body, her face, her words, her humor... all of it is changing and I just want it to stop. I don't feel quite ready for all of this. This grief has probably been accentuated by the fact that she just finished her last year in her multiage classroom. Instead of just leaving third grade to go to fourth grade, she left the classroom, teachers, and classmates that she has been with for four years. It seems to throw the changes she is experiencing into greater relief.
How clean is your house? Well, I think those British ladies from the television show would have a heyday in my house. We are a family of sloths and there are too many other things I'd rather pay attention to. Still, my house is messy/dirty enough that it is not conducive to getting school work done, having people over, just feeling like I can really relax in my home. This problem is very closely related to the feeling-like-cr*p problem.
Wah, wah, wah. . . Let's take a look at something positive. . .
In the last however long, what has given you consolation?
Twitter! I know, I know, it doesn't make sense. However, through Twitter, I am able to connect with people and have some fun conversations. Seriously. There are a few of my Twitter friends--I hesitate to call them Tweeps--who I get to spend part of any given day or evening chatting about recipes, television shows, child rearing, etc. The long ago phenomena of neighbors talking to each other over their backyard fences is what I get out of Twitter. I actually enjoy it more than Facebook connecting. Hi Twitter friends! XXX OOO
Today's church service. I don't end up sitting in the church service all that often. It's one part working in the nursery and one part being too lazy to get myself there. Today, though, everything lined up. I was ready on time. I wasn't schedule to work in the nursery. The worship was wonderful and the sermon challenging. (According to my son, it was too intellectual and academic, but hey, I kind of like that approach.)
My living room is clean! I marshalled the LUE family troops and we picked up the living room, pulled off the couch cushions and cleaned out all the junk, moved the couches and cleaned underneath them, swept and cleaned the floors and put it all back together. How is it that cleaning what you cannot see can make you feel better? I don't know but it does. I am sitting in my living room as I type and it FEELS good. One room down, eight to go.
The weather. My favorite times of the year in California are at the turns of the seasons. When the air is crisp, either from beginning to cool down or beginning to warm up. We are having warm days but the mornings and evenings are cool. It is so nice to have the doors open, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood, feeling the breeze. So peaceful. Ahhhh. . .
The Dreaded Shred. I started working out to Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred video two nights ago. It hurts and it's hard. I decided to do it weeks ago but it took this long to get going. I am doing it with a friend. We live too far apart to actually do it together, but we are connecting with each other for accountability. I don't know if I am actually feeling physically better from just two days or if I am just feeling better because I am finally doing something. I'll take it, either way.
And finally. . .
Reading! I finished one book on my summer reading list and am in the middle of an introduction to works and life of Simone Weil. She was a fascinating person. There are some ways in which she reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh. They both had this intensity, passion for the poor, and a ability to withstand physical suffering. So far, the excerpts of her readings have been very interesting (She had some interesting points of views on rights/obligations.) and when my intellectual juices get going, it gives me energy. Reading just the excerpts while reading about her life makes it all much more accessible. I'm bright enough, but no intellectual giant.
So, I start a week actually having done my spiritual bread baking! Now, I'm off to get into my exercise gear. The Shred awaits.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I finally got to meet a blogger buddy! I've always been a little envious when I've read about the different bloggers I read meeting up in groups of two and more. I've never even been to a BlogHer conference. Today, though, after several weeks and a few Facebook exchanges, Riley over at All Rileyed Up and I met for lunch... That would be Ruby of Ruby's Diner in the picture with us. She didn't have much to say... or maybe Riley and I were monopolizing the conversation.
As much as I've always wanted to meet some of my blogger friends, I will confess to having some anxiety worthy of a teenage girl before a first date at the thought sometimes. "What if they like the blogger me better than the real me?" "Will we have anything to talk about?" "Am I cool enough?" Those anxieties were pretty much in check before Riley and I met up. I think because we just live about a half hour apart from each other. I don't know. Maybe I just knew that it would work out all right.
And it did.
We talked about life (current circumstances, kids, spouses), the universe (from education to parenting philosophies), and everything (how long have you been blogging, etc.) I can say that I really enjoyed talking with her and getting to know her in person. Sadly, she is moving out of the area soon, but I have hopes that on some of her trips back to the area to visit family, we might get together again.
Who's next? Now that I've got one meet and greet under my belt, I am ready for more!
Friday, May 29, 2009
Once upon time there was a girl--who loved to read books--and a boy--who loved to play guitar.
They were both young and stupid and lived in So-So Cal.
They got together.
He played guitar. She read books.
They broke up.
He got a job. She dropped out of college.
They got together.
He played some more guitar and worked. She got a full-time job and read books.
They broke up.
He moved away to the land of 10 gallon hats. She kept working and moving from apartment to apartment to apartment. Her friends never wrote her address in their address books in ink.
They started talking about getting back together with the added idea of getting married.
He brought her a pretty sapphire ring. She moved to the land of 10 gallon hats.
They decided to get married by a local justice of the peace instead of having a wedding back in So-So Cal. There was no money and neither of them was interested in getting up in front of a bunch of people to say their vows.
They went back to So-So Cal for a wedding reception in her aunt’s backyard. Her mom’s friend made the cake. Her uncle’s Vo Tech high school class printed the invitations. Her family made the food.
While he moved up the professional electronics sales ladder, she completed her literary studies degree.
They got a dog who would give the cinematic dog, Marley, a run for his money. His name was Bob.
They moved back to So-So Cal.
They had a baby. She stayed at home. He traveled.
A bunch of other stuff happened. Some good. Some bad. Some happy. Some sad.
She worked at the church. He played guitar for the church.
Eight years later they had another baby.
More stuff happened. Some good. Some bad. Some happy. Some sad.
He is still working in the professional electronics industry and playing guitar. She went back to school to learn how to teach people to read.
What’s next? Who knows, but I bet there’ll be some guitar playing and reading going on.
Monday, May 25, 2009
This post is published in lieu of a Sleeping with Bread post.
I went poking about my archives today looking for something to republish in honor of Memorial Day. (I'm too irritable to write a fresh post.) I've written several posts about Vietnam. My uncle served there and--whether it is just this connection or something else--the subject of the Vietnam War just draws me in. I chose this post, about the nurses who served there, because: a) Those nurses are worth remembering; and b) It seems there has been a lot of talk about feminism on the 'Net relating to mommybloggers and Facebook and blah, blah, blah. Instead of writing a post about whether or not Betty Friedan would be turning over in her grave because women use pictures of their children as their Facebook avatars, I will republish this post about some women who did incredible things, under horrible conditions, in spite of what people thought they could and should do.
Originally published August 24, 2006:
This past weekend, a documentary aired about women nurses in Vietnam. It coincided with the station's airing of China Beach, an early 90's drama about women in Vietnam. I have had an interest in the women veterans of that war since reading Home Before Morning by Lynda VanDevanter for my American history class at UTD and because my uncle served in Vietnam in the early 70's. After watching the documentary, I knew I wanted to write about it here but I feel at a loss as to what to say.
The women featured in the documentary and in the book, Home Before Morning, experienced a year in hell. Most of them were less than one year out of nursing school and in their late teens or early twenties. They were often promised that if they joined the military they wouldn't be sent anywhere dangerous. Some of them signed up specifically for duty in Vietnam. I remember one nurse saying that her father, a non-demonstrative man, gave her the biggest hug ever as she left and said brokenly, "I have four sons but it is my daughter I am sending into war."1
Upon arriving in Vietnam, their lives turned absolutely upside down. Spending 10-14 hours on a shift, steeped in blood, often without the proper supplies, American nurses in Vietnam worked with doctors in a way that was not common in the states. The doctor's had to depend on them and give them more responsibility than they would have been given in the states and they met that challenge heroically. More than one nurse has recounted encountering a burned soldier, holding his hand or touching his arm, only to have his blackened flesh come off with her hand. Chest wounds with shredded hearts and legs hanging by a tendon were amongst other common casualties. It wasn't unheard of for a nurse to perform an amputation. Sometimes the best they could do was reassure a soldier that he was in good hands knowing that soldier would probably die. When they were off duty, the women nurses played hard just like the men. Anything to shut out the horror that had just been and would be again soon.
After returning from being "in-country," the nurses were in a different situation than the male veterans. While the men also had a difficult time adjusting, they had each other as they continued their terms in the military or they were better able to connect with each other more easily. Of the thousands of thousands of men who served, only about 5,000 women were there so they were more isolated from each other upon returning to the states. Typically, they had no one to talk to who could understand their experiences. Their families usually didn't ask or want to hear about life there. They expected their daughter or sister back as they remembered her not the utterly broken woman who was returned to them. These nurses experienced post-traumatic stress disorder like the men veterans did, but it was much longer before it was recognized in them.
If they continued to nurse, they found themselves in a subservient position without the respect of the doctor's they worked with and they were not allowed to use any of the more advanced skills and training they learned in Vietnam. I remember in her book, Lynda Van Devanter eventually found her way into emergency dialysis nursing. Routine nursing was not for her. Emergency nursing provided the same burst of adrenaline that she experienced during her tour and emergency dialysis required incredible skill.
As I watched the documentary it reminded me of the interview portions of Band of Brothers. Sixty years later, the veterans of Easy Company still are haunted by the horrors of World War II. Over thirty years later, these nurses are no different and still have nightmares, deal with depression, and still have questions about why the war happened and how they ended up there. Eventually, more and more nurses received help. Lynda Van Devanter herself was instrumental in raising awareness of the particular issues of women veterans. Many people worked together to honor these women and their service and in the early 90's the Women's Vietnam Memorial was erected. I hope to visit it someday.2
Who's to say why one issue, topic or story strikes a chord that resonates more than another? There are so many stories of hardship and horror, recovery and redemption out there. Why did this one affect me so much? As I said, my uncle served in Vietnam. In the few years before he died, he opened up more about that experience. Knowing and loving someone who was there is probably part of the reason. Reading about Lynda Van Devanter's experience also impacted me greatly. But there is something greater about their words, their faces, their tears that makes my heart ache and I can't express it any more clearly than that.
Here are just a few links available about nurses in Vietnam.
The Women of the Army Nurse Corp During the Vietnam War
Jeanne Diebolt's Keynote Address at the Women's Memorial
Nurses and the Daily Horror of Vietnam (This is the article which discusses the documentary I mentioned.)
I wrote about my Uncle L.T. here and here and here.
1. The words of the father in this story are paraphrased.
2. I did get to go see the Vietnam Nurses' Memorial in January, 2008.
Note: I did a little editing of this post for clarity/wordiness. (Yes, it was worse before the editing!)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton
Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (read w/Marley)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (No sparkly vampires for me)
Wrestling with God by Simone Weil (an introductory text)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (I put it on my Amazon.com shopping list but can't remember why.)
Creating Robust Vocabulary by a bunch of Ph.Ds (I just came across this book in a professional journal and am curious about their instructional strategies. Vocabulary development is HUGE for college developmental readers.)
The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer (for Book Club 2 this Thursday)
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (for Book Club 1 next week; haven't read an Irving in AGES)
I don't know that I'll get all that read. I have a lot of cuddling with Marley to do... and laundry... and grocery shopping... and housecleaning... and exercising... and more to do. AND, in June I am writing my Master's project. I will have more reading to do for that, although quite a bit of it is re-reading.
Any other recommendations?