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The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2)

The drawing of the three

The Gunslinger (TDT #1)

I’m going to sum this one up for you very quickly, because I almost put this trilogy down again in the middle of this book. Similar to my assessment of The Gunslinger, I think that this book suffers from some dialogue that hasn’t aged well, and some of the themes that would have seemed ~deep~ in the late eighties/early nineties are now relatively old hat (heroin/mental illness).

The drawing is what Roland does – the pulling would be a better way to describe it. The magic of his world presents him with 3 doors along a terrible beach, and when he steps through them his consciousness passes into the mind of the person he needs to draw, or pull back, into his world to help him reach The Dark Tower. The first is a drug addict (“The Prisoner”) Eddie Dean, the second is a schizophrenic African-American woman named Odetta/Detta, depending on what personality is presenting, and the third is a surprise. He needs all three to reach the tower.

This book was very procedural. Character development is very deep here, which I suspect is necessary because once we launch into the remainder of the books we’re going to be plot driven the rest of the way. But gosh was it a slog, halfway through the Odetta/Detta story I was like, “do I really want to read these right now?” and then once he goes through the third door things pick up a LOT, racing to the end of the book. The last section is 100% awesome and I wish I had gotten to it sooner.

On to the next one, as they say. I’ll be on the lookout to see if reading Cliff Notes for the first two books will get you through the rest, because I honestly don’t know how anyone makes it this far and continues.

PS: A movie version of this and The Gunslinger would be SO AMAZING so I don’t know why they did what they did. Why not a movie series?

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Memoir Monday: This is Just My Face

this is just my face

The charming start to my Memoir Monday series couldn’t have been a more entertaining read. And look at that photography – where can I buy that dress?! Gabourey Sidibe has had an interesting life thus far, and shares her first quarter with us. Three main themes stuck out for me.

Family

It was interesting to learn about how non-traditional her family was. From her parents’ green card marriage to her father’s Senegalese heritage, reading her stories that take us on a journey through Senegal and polygamy to her mother’s insistence on being independent and singing in the subway, you’ll probably keep asking yourself how they did not end up homeless. I found myself holding my breath when they moved out after her dad brought his second wife to America, when her mom stopped teaching and decided to sing in the subway, and when Gabourey moved out on her own and her mom and brother were erroneously evicted. I couldn’t believe how often she and her brother traveled to Senegal with her father, and how they were treated by his family there. All of this was happening in New York City, which makes the financial elements that much more daunting. Her family history alone is enough to hang a solid memoir on.

Fat

I was so intrigued by how Gabourey describes her relationship with her body, especially her decision to have weight-loss surgery. I was thankful that she was truthful without getting too gritty – the message that this was a tough time in her life is delivered loud and clear without gorey details; I appreciated her levity. I could sense that she was expecting critics to clap back at her about the weight loss surgery, but she addresses it well and is clear that your decision about your body is your own and you should do what is best for you and your health. Her writing on this topic was inspirational and reminded me to continue on my quest to be okay with my body.

Fame

The only part of the story that felt…like it was missing something? was her path to her role in Precious. Wouldn’t it be great if things just happened to come together at the right time while we’re working for a phone sex company? If what psychics predicted about us randomly at different moments in our life came to be? I mean, I believe her because there have been too many moments in my own life when I happened to be in the right place at the right time to think it’s impossible, but here was where details seemed to be lacking. I’m not sure it matters though, she’s here now and we’re all better for it.

This was a short, informative, enjoyable memoir. Even if you have never seen her act you should learn her story. Don’t miss it.

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No Questions, Please

**If you’re missing my book content, visit http://basedonthebook.libsyn.com/ and subscribe to my podcast! You can also find Based on the Book on iTunes or Google Play Music or through your favorite podcasting app. So many convenient options!**

This morning was the only the third morning I have had to get up earlier than 7am and I am already longing for the sweet embrace of death. Our dogs are also not digging this change, and their own sleep patterns are all jacked up – waking us up last night around 4am. We’re all dragging pretty hard at this point, with two more days left to go in planning week.

I finished Gabourey Sidibe’s memoir yesterday and I am very excited to share that with you for the first of my 8ish week Memoir Monday series next week, and I am finally finishing book 2 of The Dark Tower series tonight and starting book 3 tomorrow. I remember now why I kept putting these books down either at end of book 2 or start of book 3; you have to be fucking patient and stick with it because it’s…not super exciting right now. I’m hoping I have enough time to read over the next week to bring you book 3 as well, but we’ll see.

Something that was discovered today is that I am on my own in terms of instruction. I am 100% in favor of this, but I’ve taught in so many places that require common planning/lesson plans/assessments that it’s weird that I was able to submit my syllabi today having made them completely on my own, and have them be accepted by the principal. I planned my calendar, my instruction, and everything completely on my own today. It’s not that I don’t have the ability, after 13 years I can do this with my eyes closed, it’s just strange that there isn’t more oversight. I mean, maybe that speaks to the level of micromanagement that exists elsewhere, but it feels…unsettling.

I also get the sense that people may not really know what they are doing. Every time I ask a question at the school level, (everyone at the district level has been very helpful) someone says they don’t know, state that it used to be someone else’s area but they aren’t sure who’s in charge of it now, or they give a nothing answer that makes you feel like they’ll look into it but then they don’t. The math department doesn’t have a department head. This is absolutely wild. I wonder how much slips through the cracks. I guess as long as the school’s academic performance puts them in the top 3 schools in the district, maybe they don’t care? I’m not going to rest on my laurels, but at the same time I’m just going to do what I feel is right until someone tells me otherwise.

I feel badly for any teacher that actually needs materials or things done for them, they must be going crazy with anxiety. I know I would be. Luckily I can live that streamlined life and work with what I have (thanks to your generosity!). They say that in some situations it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. I think that’s going to have to be my motto for this school year.

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Semper Paratus

So as I mentioned before, we might experience some bumps as I transition into my new schedule. I didn’t finish the memoir for today so our Memoir Monday series will have to start next week. I did want to give you a small peek into what my first day back in the real school environment was like. This is teacher planning week, so my morning was spent in meetings.

A few things stood out. I would like to share two of the most…jarring? Disturbing? Eye-roll inducing? You decide!

After a morning breakfast and principal’s message (we’ll come back to this in a sec) we were required to attend 4 breakout sessions. Ignoring the fact that my fellow teachers fucked this up and were unable to rotate in numerical order if they started at any station other than #1, the second station I went to (#4 for the record) went over “discipline” (aggressive finger quotes) which mainly involved talking about how kids can’t get to class on time, tracking dress code violations, and using acronyms in a futile attempt to build school spirit. At the end everyone got VERY VERY VERY excited about new school-themed lanyards AND THEN TALKED ABOUT FLAIR. You know, pins? FUCKING PINS. That was when I noticed that the veteran teachers from this school had lanyards COATED in pins and the assistant principal that was a part of this session handed out small pins TO ADD TO OUR LANYARDS TO SHOW TEAM SPIRIT. Oh my god I cannot. Someone please tell me this isn’t real. I’m caught in the movie Office Space and can’t get out. I mean, I guess it’s a thing to do, it’s just not a thing I’m going to do unless it becomes a requirement. If I have an option then NOPE.

Okay, so let’s go back to that principal’s message. After he listed the people that left and the new teachers that replaced them alternately like we had killed the ones that left and taken their position via absorbing their power through mortal combat, he took a question from a teacher about the work polos we had been given. They are white polos, which people had specifically requested not to have because they are notoriously see-through (to which he responded: “you’ll just have to wear the proper foundation garments then” – IT IS FLORIDA I AM NOT WEARING LAYERS OMG), but the main question arose from the backwards American flag patch sewn military-style into the sleeves of each and every polo. The first question was “why is this flag backwards?” to which a detailed explanation about the military-style was provided. Apparently because when the cavalry carries a flag, the blue appears on the right side of the flag because it would obviously be floating majestically behind the bearer.

But then people were like “why are you making us wear an American flag like the military?” to which he responded that he likes to think of himself as a patriotic human being and he made the decision to have them placed there, so if we object to wearing the American flag well then…<dramatic pause>…”you’ll just have to come and talk to me and I’ll get you a plain shirt.”

Translation: I dare you to come talk to me and my patriotic self about how you hate America and my decisions  to honor her in order to request a plain shirtI FUCKING DARE YOU.

Wow. Just…wow.

Other stuff happened, but those two were the most surreal and stuck in my memory so here I am sharing them with you. Enjoy!

***

Don’t forget if you would like to help me stock my classroom for the kiddos, I do have a wish list set up to help me do that after being let go from my job earlier in the summer. Thanks to everyone that has sent items already, my room is looking awesome because YOU are awesome. You are in no way obligated to do this, but it is here if you would like to add some tax deductions to your 2017 receipts. 🙂 Here is the link: http://a.co/8V3X8T1

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Sunday: The Long Dark Night

Now that I’m back to a 7am-3pm desk job, Sunday has returned to its status as the day that isn’t really a part of the weekend. Sunday is for twisted up stomachs and OMG ANOTHER WORK WEEK so you gotta do the most with Saturday and spend Sunday getting ready. Winter is coming.

I am heading into my THIRTEENTH year of teaching. I have taught pre-K all the way through undergraduate students at college. I have taught classroom music to elementary school students, band to 5th through 12th grade students, and choir to middle school students. I’ve taught financial math and algebra 2. I’ve taught regular and honors classes. I’ve taught online classes. I’ve taught in the northeast, the midwest, the southwest, and the southeast. I’ve taught at private and public schools. I’ve taught in very poor inner-city schools, rural schools, universities, and high performing schools. I have taught in classrooms, in portables, in gyms and cafeterias. I have had fantastic administrators, administrators that should have been called out for harassment, and everything in between.

I have seen a lot of shit and experienced a lot of stuff that I can’t unsee or un-experience and it causes me to have a fair amount of anxiety about in-person teaching, so for the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about what I can do to make this transition as comfortable as humanly possible on my psyche.

1. Coffee and Water

Having a warm cup of coffee in the mid-morning helps de-fuzz my brain and open my eyes. Having water regularly available helps my fat body stay hydrated and healthy. So heading back into a rigid schedule when I can only leave my room for certain amounts of time at specific times made me worry about these two things. When I went to the BlogHer conference in June one of the vendors was a Melitta specialist who was handing out free pour over coffee thing-a-ma-jigs and filters. I already had a water heater-upper so I packed all of that at got #4 filters on BOGO at Publix and ground coffee so I can make it whenever I want.

Melittafilterscoffee

For the water side of things I’m going to fill both of my 32oz Nalgenes here before I go, plus I will have a flat of bottled water there in case I forget. The bottled water will also be used for the pour over coffee.

2. Office Chair

There is a story behind where I got my pretty good/okay office chair but basically what I’m saying here is that I’m not sitting on those kids chairs with wheels that they give teachers to sit in. I’m bringing my own damn office chair that has padding and is made for my fat, adult ass. IF ANYONE STEALS IT I WILL HUNT THEM DOWN AND WITH FIRE AND BLOOD I WILL TAKE BACK WHAT IS MINE.

dragons

3. Bathroom Accoutrements

There are not many things that are worse for me than not being able to go to the bathroom when I need to go. I’m one of those irritating people who has to go RIGHT NOW because I didn’t have to go THEN and so that can make sitting through a 50 minute class period torture. Eventually my body adjusted and while I still had occasional bouts of “DON’T MURDER EACH OTHER I HAVE TO PEE” and leaving the room, my bladder tends to learn when my prep period and lunch periods are.

But this year I’ve decided to take that up a notch. I am in a classroom in an actual building and I am right next to the staff bathroom. I plan to take full advantage of this by making my own bathroom kit. I took a small tupperware tub and placed it inside a Publix reusable grocery bag to add stability, and I proceeded to fill it with the comforts of home. Good toilet paper. Wipes. Febreeze spray.  Foaming hand soap. On top of that I put a travel bathroom bag and filled it with stuff too. Hand sanitizer. Hand lotion. Listerine strips. Floss pick thingies. Face wipes (bc I sweat like a mofo). Excedrin. Pepto Bismol chewables. Fingernail clippers. Hairspray.

I am going to be comfortable.

4. Entertainment

When I was working from home I would have podcasts on. Netflix. Hulu. “Hey Alexa, play my Beyonce radio station on Pandora.” Luckily most of those things are available on the wifi at school. I received my school issued laptop last Wednesday, and immediately signed into iTunes and found all the podcasts I listen to at home and subscribed to them there. I have a bluetooth speaker AND bluetooth headphones (for listening to The Read, LOL) and the classroom has a setup that allows my computer to be hooked up to a projector and speakers in the classroom so I can watch shows or listen to music that way too. Once we start getting paid again I may even buy a battery dock for Alexa and bring her back and forth with me. 🙂

Side note: I now have access to Garage Band so making my podcasts each week will be much easier and higher quality (hopefully). Hooray!

5. Quiet Time/Brain Reset

I am an introvert. Not because everyone thinks it’s cool to say they are an introvert because they like to be alone sometimes, but because I am one. Being around a lot of people for an extended period of time drains me pretty extensively. Here at home I could take a nap or jump in the pool with my snorkel on and surround my face with water to drown out existence, but those just aren’t options in a public school. So I had to think fast, because I honestly can’t overemphasize how jarring this transition is going to be. The kids won’t notice because I am a fucking professional, but inside my brain it’s just constant screaming and Rick Rolling.

I bought a yoga mat for that special yoga event at the blogging conference and then they ended up providing them for us, so I have this brand new mat that’s not doing anything. I brought it to school with the intention of maybe locking my classroom door and doing ten minutes of meditation during my lunch. I know that would be SO GOOD for me, so I’m hoping I actually do it, you know?

If course there is also planning for teaching to do, but I’ll do that during paid time. 🙂 For now I’m having a good time making sure that my time is comfortable and as low-stress as possible. Everything I’ve mentioned was stuff I just had around the house and threw in a bag. The only things I bought were the coffee and filters for the brewer. Thank goodness it doesn’t take too much.

Wish me luck.

 

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Angry Angel Abandonment: Illuminae

Illuminae

This book is 600 pages. Now, visually that is a bit daunting, but with the insides made up of emails, documents, transcripts, and schematics, I figured it would be a faster read.

Our two main characters: Kady and Ezra are exes who find themselves caught up in a war between two corporations in space, and must hack and fight their way to the truth. Their story is told through documents which have been presented as proof of what has happened, presumably to a court or government, and when I first opened the book to find this alternative structure, I already knew I was done for.

Friends encouraged me though, and since I had enjoyed Nevernight (by the coauthor of this book, Jay Kristoff) I figured I would give it a chance. I have had this book for almost a month and I am only 100 pages in. I avoid it at every turn and reading it feels like a chore. I don’t care about the story, the characters are boring, and the format feels hectic and disorganized to me. Add in the sloppy references to the attempted love story and I am just so disengaged that I have to stop.

I’m sorry I can’t give you more information about the book. Since I didn’t get very far into it, the information I have about the plot can probably be found online as a preview on Amazon or other booksellers’ websites. It wasn’t for me, but I don’t feel strongly enough to tell you not to read it. I am certain that this book would be engaging for others, so if you like YA, space, war, intrigue, hacking and twists, all written in an off-the-beaten-path kind of style, do check it out. Let me know what you think.

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On Podcasts: Live From the Poundstone Institute

poundstone institute

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510322/live-from-the-poundstone-institute

“Every week, we’ll keep looking for knowledge, because we know we left it somewhere.” – Paula Poundstone

I am not a regular NPR listener, mostly because if I’m going to listen to something while I’m in the car it’s going to be the Lemonade album over and over until the CD refuses to play anymore don’t @ me. But when I’m riding in the car with the husband he listens to NPR ALL THE TIME so if I had to pick, I would pick All Things Considered and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

One fateful Saturday a lovely lady named Paula Poundstone was on the panel and I fell in love. She’s absolutely hilarious and fills my need for women in entertainment that are not here for your bullshit. Dry, witty, and quick, it’s always a good show if she’s on.

So when I heard that she had a new podcast out I jumped on it because I am tired of catching up to podcasts that started like 390842075483 years ago and this is my chance to listen from the beginning in real time! It attempts to gather knowledge on all topics far, wide, and wacky. Episode 1 was a delight – they talked to someone who studied perceptions of appearance, a scientist who takes swabs of surfers for science, and gave an unusual personality test to a celebrity. It’s all done live, giving it a WWDTM feel, but with more focus on Paula, AS IT SHOULD BE.

I already know this podcast will be on my regular listening schedule. It’s smart, dry, and funny and I love it. Go check it out! (Paula if you’re reading this, you’re amazing and I love you!)