Monday, April 27, 2009

Afternoon Detention

I have D-Hall duty.
As if it's my punishment.
There are 7 kids in here.
2 reading books.
One boy has his lit book out.
2 girls seem to be writing notes.
One is doing her homework.

Then there's this kid in the back who looks like Stephen King.
Clearly his first D-Hall.
He's just staring, looking around.
Blank TV.
The girl next to him (homework girl) who probably thinks he's a creeper.

His name was just called over the PA.
His ride is waiting out back.
So he got up and left.
Clearly doesn't understand how detention works.

The other kids know.
Spaced evenly throughout the room.
No one talks,
No one sleeps.
They are surprised when I say,
"You can go."

This is not punishment.
This is quiet time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Professional development.

After three months of bloglessness, I reappeared here last night. It heralded what was, in my mind, the beginning of a series called Bound and Determined, in which I try to read one of my purchased-but-as-of-yet-unread books weekly and then blog about it. So I introduced the concept, prattled on about Birdwing (which I read during the ice storm), and then went to bed. After sleeping on it, I made a decision.

Actually, my first decision upon waking (which, interestingly, turns out to be after getting out of the shower and eating breakfast) was not to go to work. My stomach did (and does) not feel right at all, and well, it didn't take much arm-twisting to get me to log onto the help-I-need-a-substitute! website and unplug the curling iron.

Then, after making a nest in the living room, I made this other decision. Instead of just a series, I turned Bound and Determined into its own blog. I've done this before. And by this, I mean both starting up a new project blog on a whim and starting up a reading blog. I do not have a good track record here, but you never know when I just might stick with something.

Plus, and this is where I'm really honest, I am way too impressed with myself for coming up with the multi-faceted title. I mean, bound? Like books. And determined? Because I am and the whole point of writing the blog is to keep myself motivated. Okay, I'll stop patting myself on the back, but you gotta admit… But of course, I did some research, and I'm not totally original here. Bound and Determined is also the name of a few other blogs and a work of erotica. It's a cliché, unique only in its redundancy. Whatever.

I have to admit that I'm jumping the gun a little. I've already acknowledged my paper-thin willpower. Ha, I haven't even written about a second book yet. And I have over thirty – thirty! – other books on my list. The sheer magnitude of the list alone is enough to defeat me. Some accountability can't hurt.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm not doing this because I want to be a librarian. Obviously, I am. Books and reading are what I love, but I have a lot of work to do if I honestly want to consider myself "knowledgeable about current children's and young adult literature". It's professional development.

Follow me as I develop professionally at And join in the discussion. Ask questions. Make reading recommendations. Let me know if you have read / want to read / don't want to read the book I'm reading.

I've recently decided that books are only important because they connect us with other people. If I can't share the experience or knowledge or insight that I gain from a book, what's the point in reading it?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bound and determined.

I have a problem. I cannot stop buying books.

Once after acknowledging our similarly overflowing bookshelves, Niaz and I half formed a pact in which we vowed to allow ourselves to buy only one new book after reading three already-purchased ones. That sounded nice, didn't it? A good way not only to get through my ever-lengthening reading list, but also to give my bank account a break. I don't know about him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he too surrendered like I did to the siren song of bookstores. I think I read one whole book before going to Barnes & Noble and buying enough books to make my 10%-off Member Card worth the membership fee.

I have never been good with resolutions – New Year's or otherwise – and it's becoming increasingly apparent that I might have an addictive personality. This probably explains the almost-one-hundred dollars I dropped at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green on Saturday. While unpacking from the weekend last night, I somewhat proudly and somewhat ashamedly added seven or eight freshly-bound books to my collection, dividing them up among the large bookcase, the small unofficial YA shelf, and the stool-turned-nightstand beside my bed. I stepped back, surveyed the situation, and one thing was abundantly clear: It's time to rededicate myself to the not-a-resolution I considered back in February.

I refused to make it public then because I'm fairly convinced that telling other people about my goals has approximately the same effect on my progress as high school sweethearts professing their love to one another via a yearbook ad has on their relationship's longevity. The endeavor is doomed before the intentions are even published.

So I knowingly enter into this with great trepidation, but here it is: My goal is to read one book a week. To an average reading adult, this seems doable, but in the two months since I half-heartedly began, I've finished three books. (Time to buy more?! Okay, so I've already taken care of that. Plus, I've decided not to impose a book-buying embargo on myself because I learned long ago that I'm too smart – er, weak – to fall for my own fictitious rules and deadlines.) I can blame in on the lifestyle of being a new teacher, but let's face reality. The height of the book-stacks has reached mountainous, and intervention is critical.

I'm bound and determined to scale this constantly growing mountain. And I'm taking you with me.

Birdwing by Rafe Martin

I have a feeling that even if the plot of this fairy tale had been disappointing, I would have still loved it despite itself. Luckily, the coming-of-age adventure of Prince Ardwin did not disappoint. I had not expected that a winged boy would become the one character in all of literature with whom I most identify.

This is one of the many books that I've purchased because of its attractive cover, even though I later learned that the artist's rendering of the protagonist, the one-armed-one-winged Ardwin, is inaccurate. (No, the wing is on his other left, I'd say.) I picked it up at the Scholastic Book Fair that the book club sponsored in the library at school. I mean, I had to buy books to support the student organization, right?

Not surprisingly, though, the book landed on my bookshelf unread until a month or so later when Victoria asked me for reading recommendations and I, despite having read the book, suggested it. She and I once had a tryst with the Brothers Grimm, and this story reimagines and expands the Grimm's tale "The Six Swans". Seemed like a match. She took it, read it, loved it, and foisted it back at me so that I could read and love it, too. Done and done.

Rafe Martin's writing style drew me in immediately, and I suspect it would carry me through an even poorly spun yarn. The tale is written in prose, but it is nothing short of lyrical. Martin is fond of alliterative and original adjective pairs, prepositional possession, intriguing names, and weighty nouns and verbs. His characterization is vivid and his setting is timeless in the way that the realms of the best legends are. The cast line-up is full of archetypes (orphans, evil step-mothers, and wizened wizards), but Martin develops them into a unique humanity despite their otherworldliness. The themes of love, loss, betrayal, and belonging are worked out with heartbreaking and redemptive reality.

Birdwing's narrator is omniscient, which explains my frustration with the thought processes and choices of Ardwin, the young hero. The reader is far more enlightened about reality and its consequences than he, so the attempt at dramatic irony sometimes fails because the plot twists are apparent to the reader long before the twists occur. This makes Ardwin seem very naïve, but this may just be part of the tale's theme. This youthful naivety juxtaposes nicely with the young man at the end of the novel.

I would have loved this book no matter what because I am a sucker for a nicely turned phrase, but Birdwing is more than a pretty book. It is a journey that takes us – Ardwin and the reader – fearfully into our insecurities and brings us victoriously out of ourselves.

Coming Soon! Bound and Determined: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Check it out here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Greenjeans: Now with cables!

This is the fun part. I really do like doing the cables, which are far easier than I had ever imagined. And I have no shame in admitting that I get giddy every time I've added at new twist to the cables. Joy in the small things, for certain.

Related: I stayed up into the wee hours of this morning updating my Ravelry account. I have most of my projects on there with pictures and notes. The site may be more addictive than the knitting itself, but it is an incredibly useful tool. How else would I find over one thousand other knitters who have completed or are in the middle of completing the very cardigan you see above? I'm in awe.

Go. Join. I'm washedup. Who are you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Greenjeans: an update.

It is becoming more and more apparent to me that I actually am knitting a sweater. A plus size sweater, at that. And that is certainly something. I brag not. I myself can't believe that I'm making this thing appear on the needles. Off the needles. Wherever. Here is an off-needle picture. I did (successfully) try it on, but the pajama pants and general unkemptness told me I was not a model today.

I don't believe the color is accurately represented here. While I know the color is indeed called olive, it's not so olive drab in person. It's far happier -- with a hint of yellow, even. Oh, and the periwinkle business is just waste yarn keeping everything from unraveling until I come back and pick it all up. So, no. It isn't going to be a sleeveless, bare-midriff number.

Still to come: Ribs and cables to the bottom, three-quarterish sleeves with rib-and-cable cuffs, and a ribbed button band and collar. I wasn't feeling too bad about the future of the project until I picked up Knitting Rules today for some between-row reading, and the Yarn Harlot made me fear the button band for reasons I don't yet understand. And she told a horror story about a green cardigan. Great.

The truth is this: I've probably made too much progress. "This is a knitalong, not a race," says Kim, the knitalong ring leader. Oops. I've even done a few rounds of cables since taking this picture, which testifies to how much I really do not want to do all that planning for school. And I have some serious planning to do, considering the three-week KTIP marathon staring me down.

I am a very productive procrastinator.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


This is more than a lifeless blob. It is the beginnings of a cardigan. An actual sweater.

To see a completed and smaller version in a different color yarn of a different fiber, click here.

I'm knitting mine in Vanna's Choice Olive, which is acrylic and afforable, which I may regret for its texture, but this is my first sweater. I didn't exactly want to buy that delicious forty-dollar-a-skein alpaca just so I could mess it up.

So far, I've only forgotten to increase one stitch on one row. I don't think that's going to result in total lopsidedness -- yet. I keep thinking about how, when they were building the arch in St. Louis from the bottom up, they couldn't be a fraction of a degree off, or it wouldn't have met properly at the top. But I have to keep telling myself, This is a cardigan, not a landmark.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's only right.

My guess is that I pull this one out about once every .87 years. But I'm no mathematician.

current clothing: The long-sleeved gray shirt that I got at Goodwill to take to Honduras and these four-sizes-too-big Christmas pajamas pants that I shamelessly wear year-round.

current mood: Productive, apparently. Not productive productive. But just wanting to do something.

current taste: The aftertaste of a peppermint mocha truffle. Christmas clearance at Wal-Mart.

current hair: Curly, verging on frizzy. And close to needing a trim. I'm not used to getting my hair done more often that once every six months.

current annoyance: I've been sitting in this wooden kitchen chair for far too long now, and well, my butt hurts.

current smell: *sniff sniff sniff* Nothing (a la Yukon Cornelius). Actually, I keep thinking I smell caramel apples, but I must be making that up.

current thing you ought to be doing: Oh, this is easy. Updating grades. Planning Monday. Planning Tuesday. Planning the semester.

current jewelry: Big ol' earrings I got at Lane Bryant when I was eight dollars away from another discount bracket. I'm wearing these only because I managed to lose one of those silly earrings for which I paid way too much when I was distraught over losing one of my copper Bell's Drug Store earrings. O, the despair! Ahem, and my teacher watch. I'd be willing to bet that in all the instances of filling out this survey, I've never listed a watch here. My, how things change.

current book: I have a stack a mile high beside my bed, but truth be told, I'm only really trying to read Making a Literary Life right now. The first chapter calls upon the reader to write one thousand words a day, and I haven't managed to do it two days in a row. I feel like a fraud picking up the book to read Chapter Two.

current refreshment: I'm fresh out of my new invention, Tangerale. It's a glass of ginger ale with about two-thirds teaspoon Tang. Ay, que rico.

current worry: That I'll be unprepared for the last day of last semester and the first day of next semester, also known as Monday and Tuesday.

current crush: The cashier at Hobby Lobby. He's probably either a husband or a high schooler. Or homosexual. So it goes.

favorite celebrity: Hmm, I find this one more and more difficult to answer as the years pass. John Green? I don't know.

current longing: For one more week before school starts back. Just one? Aw, c'mon...

current music: Nada. My computer can't handle the internet and a music player.

current wish: That out-of-state tuition for master's degrees wasn't so exorbitant.

current lyric in your head: "You'll learn to hate me / But still call me baby"

current makeup: Physician's Formula that needs to be washed off.

current undergarments: This would require actually checking. This much I know: I am wearing some.

current regret: Not doing all of my teacherliness earlier in the break.

current desktop picture: Party lights on the camper. From several summers ago.

current plans for tonight/weekend: Tomorrow is Sunday, and by necessity, I will be a teacher in preparation for the coming days.

current cuss word du jour: Today? I think I'm clear today.

current disappointment: Hm, Sissy, Victoria, Kathryn, and I saw Tale of Despereaux today. It was a cute movie, but not exactly what I expected it to be.

current amusement: Looking at AT&T to see which features everyone on our plan has.

current IM/person you're talking to: One is the loneliest number.

current love: My bedroom. I rigged up some paper lantern garden lights over my mirror. It's all about the lighting.

current obsession: It might be safe to say that I'm not totally obsessed with anything at the moment. Knitting may have taken the prize just a few days back, though. I've found my balance.

current thing or things on your wall: The only actual thing that's not just scooted up or leaning against my bedroom wall is a little "antique" shelf that just happened to be the perfect height to hold DVDs.

current favorite book: I'm never good with this question. I did, about a month ago, decide who my favorite authors are: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, Anne Lamott, and John Green.

current favorite movie: Driving Lessons is still holding on for the win. Though I did just rewatch Love Actually for Christmas, and that cast just couldn't get any better. I like the Brits, apparently.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bandwagons, ho!

It may not last for another twenty seconds, but I am -- watch me screw this lingo up -- twittering. Tweeting? Oh, what is it? Am I now so old-fashioned that I shouldn't be allowed a login on the website?

By way of being old-fashioned... I got organized last night. Well, with my yarn, at least. I bought one of those dorm closet shoe organizers at Big Lots and then Roy G. Biv-ed my yarn. My shoes, mind you, are piled up and pairless at the bottom of the closet and so they shall remain.

Who knew I had so much yarn? And this set-up doesn't even include my whites, blacks, grays, and browns. Nor the in-use, recently in-use, or soon-to-be in-use skeins. Just as with books, I buy more before I can read (or knit) what I've got. *sigh*
Here's to seven years -- some more interesting than others -- in the archive list.