Category Archives: Reader

Back to Being Me

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Back to Being Me

It was almost instantaneous.

On Saturday, I worked all day and half the night to finish my research paper on “Araby,” and when I realized that my Theories of Teaching Writing professor had posted our final exam, I used that momentum to just go ahead and get it done.  I hit submit on my final assignment some time after midnight and slept the glorious sleep of those who’ve accomplished something in the previous 24 hours.

Sunday morning, I woke up early, had coffee, made a grocery list, made a wreath, bought flowers for the front porch, had lunch and a nap with my family, did all the laundry, cleaned out the fridge and the cupboards, went to Kroger, and started a new book just for fun.

I’m back.

I didn’t realize just how draining these last ten months had been.  Even when I wasn’t reading or writing or researching, I was dwelling on all the reading and writing and researching that needed to be done.  But enough about that.  Let’s talk about all that fun stuff I did yesterday.

I actually am some kind of weirdo…I like making the grocery list and doing the shopping.  I like to Pin new recipes and make a meal plan for the week ahead. I’m even planning to try my first adventure in freezer meals in preparation for baby Axton’s arrival next month.  I’ve really missed cooking for and with my family, so I’m excited to get out of the drive thru and into the kitchen.  Here’s one of the Pinterest recipes I can’t wait to try this week (Click the image to see the recipe).  Did I mention it’s going to be 80 degrees here all week? Fire up the grill!

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Next up on the list of things I’m excited to do now that I’m human again: home improvement projects.  Nothing major, just little things to spruce the place up. Oh, and setting up the nursery.  I’ve been ignoring my nesting instincts by keeping a running list of things to do starting this week, and it has worked, though I hate to look back and feel like I’ve put my life on pause. But that’s a rant for another day.  So, to keep from being overwhelmed, I’ve decided to start with a small task or area and tackle the whole house (inside and out…I’m trying not to be scared…) that way.  First was the refrigerator and cupboards.  Two bags of old crap thrown out: Check.  Now, the front porch.  I made this wreath, only my second so it isn’t perfect, and bought a mixture of plants to put on either side of the front door.

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After I hung it up inside to adjust it, I think I kinda want to make one to leave on that door!

I will update with pics of the front porch in all its glory when its finished, hopefully this evening.  Adam is going to complete the front landscaping within the next few weeks, so the whole exterior will have a facelift!

Once I was settled down for the day, I started a new book, and I’m seriously excited about it.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

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I’m only a couple of chapters in, but basically Harry August lives the same life over and over, always returning to the same moment of birth in the same life after he dies.  He is able to change things, but the general details are the same.  The most intriguing part is the detail revealed in the very first chapter, which was the reason I decided to download this book in the first place:

(from the book description) As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.”
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
I brought my Kindle to school with me today so I can use it during reading time with my students.  I am relishing in the thought of kicking back and spending some time just reading for fun.
My nearly instantaneous return to myself has been pretty fantastic so far.  I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks hold as I get back to being me.
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Making Time for “Leaving Time”

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cover image courtesy of www.jodipicoult.com

cover image courtesy of http://www.jodipicoult.com

Let me start by saying I’ve spent the last ten months immersed in British and American literature, from the classic to the obscure.  It took me an entire agonizing week to trudge through a Forster novel, so when my final semester started winding down, I decided to reward myself by purchasing a Kindle Fire and Jodi Picoult’s October 2014 release Leaving Time.  Seventy-two hours later, I’d read all 400+ pages…for the most part.

I’m always intrigued by Picoult’s conflict and style; that’s why I stay engaged with her work.  She manages to create intricate conflicts that dip low and rise high as realistic characters evolve individually and in relation to one another along the way.  I love the alternating chapters that shift perspective amongst the various main characters.  And the Law & Order junkie in me is a sucker for the legal twists that are usually involved in the plot in some creative way.

Leaving Time is characteristic Picoult in regard to the conflict and style, though the legal aspect that is usually served by some court case or battle actually manifests as a former detective who helps thirteen-year-old Jenna search for her mother following her disappearance ten years prior. Add to the cast the washed-up celebrity psychic Serenity, Jenna’s institutionalized father, and her mother’s presence in chapters from her journals, and you’ve already got me hooked into Picoult’s world.

But wait, there’s more.  Picoult also loves to work a good angle, which provides a motif and a relevant context for her poignant tidbits of reflection woven into each story.  In House Rules, the background is the intricacy of autism.  In The Storyteller, it’s World War II.  In Handle with Care, it’s the rare disease osteogenesis imperfecta.  The angle in Leaving Time?  Elephants.  Yes, elephants.  Both Jenna’s father and mother study elephants, work toward their preservation, observe and record their cognitive abilities and habits–especially in the areas of memory and grief.  Appropriate for a story about a girl looking for her lost mother, right? That’s what Picoult does.

Overall, I enjoyed Leaving Time.  It was the perfect reward for passing my MA exit exam and relaxation prior to finals week.  I sincerely enjoyed the “elephant chapters” and how they aligned with the human characters’ emotions and situations.  The mystery that unfolds is compelling, and the resolution completely unexpected.  The explorations of motherhood and loss were resonant.  I will admit, I rushed through the last 7% of the novel (not sure how many pages…Kindle reading…sigh), but that was mostly out of my own anxiety to get to the ending and get to bed at a decent hour on a Sunday night.  I do think maybe Picoult dragged out the elephant info in the end, and it interfered with my reading experience.  But then again, maybe I was just in a hurry.

I didn’t post any discussions on Blackboard all weekend, and I definitely didn’t start my final proposal paper for Theories of Teaching Writing or my research paper about the importance of chronology in James Joyce’s short story “Araby.”  Instead, I made time for Leaving Time, and overall I’d say it was worth it.