Keeping An Eye Out

The husband and I just arrived back in town from our brief visit to Orlando and the Food and Wine Festival. If you’d like to see my Twitter thread of the foods we tasted and our time there, click here and you can scroll through.

I’m currently reading four books at once, which means I’m going to have a bunch of reviews all at once pretty soon, but also that I’m not moving through any one of them particularly quickly. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m reading and how far through I am, my profile on Goodreads will show you what I’m working on, and you can access my past reviews.

If you have a reading tracker that you use that you prefer over Goodreads, leave a comment with the program you use and I would love to check it out. Making my reviews more accessible to you on the platform you use would be a delight.

This week I’m gonna be on what I talked about last week, eating healthier meals and heading to the gym two days a week, writing in the evenings. I’ll be posting on Twitter to hold myself accountable, so follow me there if you’d like to hold me accountable too. I even have my spooky handle up: Angry Angel BOO!ks 🙂 LOL.

Have a great week. I’ll have those reviews up soon. Thanks for being a part of all of this. Thanks for being here.

Food and Wine Festival

Food and Wine

I love food. Food doesn’t always love me back, but eating good food is definitely a favorite pastime of mine. Once a year we try to go to the famous Bern’s Steakhouse for an excellent steak dinner with exceptional service. To have amazing food and a waiter that knows his shit makes you feel cared for and comfortable and I can’t recommend it enough.

The last time we went to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was back in 2013, and let me tell you something it is crazy bananas. If you’ve never been to Epcot before, it’s one of the four parks that make up Disney World in Orlando, and it’s set up in two sections: “Future World” and the “Around the World Showcase.”

(Click on the map to make it bigger.)

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That big ring around the lake on the map moves you from Canada to England to France and so on until you’ve visited several different countries. Each offers quick eats, sit down meals, or fancy sit down meals that you have to be sure to get reservations for. But during the food and wine festival these countries put out even quicker eats than their usual stands, and you walk up and get a gourmet offering.

The cornerstone countries aren’t even the only ones. Special booths and tents get set up all around the World Showcase to offer small food plates from other countries: Ireland, Australia, Belgium, among others. If you want to see all the special offerings, both drink and food, click here and scroll down. Click on the “read more” for each section to see any drinks and food they will have out for purchase.

Personally I am excited for Australia, the Belgian Waffles, the crispy pork belly that will be at the Brazil booth, and who could resist the bratwurst on a pretzel roll in Germany? My plan during my lunch tomorrow is to copy paste these lists into a single Word document and print it out so the husband and I can mark down what we want to taste most so we don’t forget anything. We have to make the most of our time, because we can’t be sure when we’ll be back.

We’re also taking advantage of a Florida resident special on tickets, otherwise we couldn’t go at all. I’ll be posting updates and pictures of the park and the food on Twitter, so if you haven’t followed me there yet, please do. You won’t want to miss out on the pictures.

I’ll have some more reviews up next week, a non-fiction memoir/cautionary tale as well as the finale to the Rebel of the Sands series by Alwyn Hamilton, Hero at the Fall (#3). I’ll also have an update on my book with (possibly) a snippet! Until then I’ll be trying to recover from this late summer cold that tried to murder me in the face, eating delicious food, and sleeping whenever I get the chance. Have a great weekend, angels. Thanks for being here.

Storm Surge

This was one of the most difficult weeks I’ve gone through this year. It felt a million years long, had several not-so-great events, and toward the end I began to develop a whopper of a head cold (which I am dealing with today and hoping to have shaken off by Monday). I’m exhausted, I’m sick, and I’m still behind in my work despite having requested (and received!) a planning day this past Monday to attempt to catch up.

It’s just not enough. I’m doing 2-4 times as much work as teachers who teach only one or two “preps” (subjects, e.g. Algebra 1 and Geometry) but I have the same amount of time to plan. I’m doing my best, but this planning on top of the difficulty level of the topics I teach and the grading that results is really weighing me down. It was a worry I had when deciding whether I would accept this position, and it turns out my fears were well founded.

Unfortunately this has led me to break a personal rule that I have set for myself since day one of teaching – I am going to have to start planning for a small segment of time on the weekend days. If I don’t, I’m going to go crazy from stress and being overworked. I’m going to get sick more often. And right now I’m not writing anything on my book or going to the gym, two things that were contributing to my physical and mental health over the summer and are sorely needed now.

So I’m going to plan for the upcoming week on the weekend: two preps on Saturday and two of them on Sunday. This means I can leave my planning periods and after-school contract time for grading only, something I have been consistently falling behind in favor of planning my instruction.

Mondays and Wednesdays I don’t have meetings, so I’m planning to leave around 2:30 to get to the gym before 3:15 so I can spend about an hour there doing cardio and strength training. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have meetings so I’ll grade at the meetings and leave at 3:00pm to come straight home. Eventually, if this routine works, these will become gym days too. Fridays will probably also become gym days but I want to give this routine a chance first and I don’t want to tucker myself out going from nothing to EVERY DAY.

I figured out that to hit 100,000 words I have to write 850 words every day between now and Halloween. Tbh, once I get going I usually write more than that, but the trick here is to make sure I have the time and the energy to actually open up the document and add stuff. So every week day I’m going to shut myself in my office at 5pm and write for no more than one hour. Usually the husband gets home around 5:30/6 from his trip to the gym, so I’ll have the solitude for writing. On the weekends I’m going to go in around 10am with a cup of coffee to get the job done. This first draft is SO CLOSE to being done and I know what I want to happen so LET’S DO THIS.

On top of the exercising and writing, I have been trying to eat better so I also want to get back to tracking my intake on MyFitnessPal. My sodium and sugar intakes are things I keep an eye on because I am sensitive to those, but overall I use the site to be sure I’m balancing my diet well.

I am hoping that by spreading my work into the weekend it will make living my normal life during the week more enjoyable. Next year won’t be like this. I’ll have my plans organized to be reused and I’ll only need to worry about keeping up with grading. But for this year, and this year only, I have to invest extra time or I’m going to lose it. I’m gonna get sick and depressed and fatter and more uncomfortable just to stick to these resolutions that are justifiable, but not tenable in my current situation.

If you are interested in hearing more about how teachers are overworked AND underpaid, check out this week’s TIME magazine cover series on teachers in America.

Rock You Like A Hurricane 2018

A year ago today I was in the process of surviving Hurricane Irma.

Rock You Like A Hurricane

Hurricane Irma: The Aftermath

Angry Angel Anxiety – Hurricane Update

This year another catastrophic hurricane barrels toward the US East Coast, this time to devastate the Carolinas, and I find myself thinking about what I would do differently this year if I was facing another disaster.

Google “Hurricane Kit” and you’ll find the typical suggestions – batteries, gas, canned food, water – but there are some things that you only find out once you’ve been through the wind, rain, and terror. Let’s go over some of the things I learned last year that I wish I had known beforehand.

Air Conditioning. Oh god if you want to torture state secrets out of me keep me in a balls hot house for a week and deprive me of sleep because I can’t sleep because it’s too hot. We did buy small, battery powered fans ahead of time but they were just a small drop in the ocean of heat and suffering, and toward the end of the week the grocery store had ice in stock again so we tried to sleep huddled around a bag of ice in a tupperware. I swore last year that I was going to buy a generator before the next hurricane season, and I did, and we’re also going to get a small AC unit at the next paycheck so we won’t have to worry about that again.

Wifi: THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT – Without wifi we were using the data plan on our cell phone plan. Luckily Verizon Wireless forgave all overage fees for anyone in the affected areas. We would have paid over $100 in overage fees for that week alone if they hadn’t put that policy into place. Make sure you check with your cell phone provider to make sure they would enact similar policies. If not, make plans for entertainment that do not involve cell phone service because it adds up really fast.

I cannot tell you why but we did not have a battery powered radio. Last year for Christmas I asked for this emergency radio that runs on solar, crank, and battery power, and last spring I bought this CD Player. My suggestion is to find things that run on C batteries because hardly anything does and the AAs and the D batteries go first in a panic. So this year if we face another hurricane, we’ll be able to listen to broadcasts on a radio running on batteries instead of on a radio app on a phone that might be needed in an emergency. Also we have tons of CDs and comedy albums that we could play to keep us occupied. It gets REALLY quiet when there’s nothing on.

FOOD: All the lists tell you to get canned food but be smart about what canned food you get. Some suggestions I would make in addition to canned soups or chilis or tuna or what have you are crackers, peanut butter, bread, that weird Goober pb/jelly combo that doesn’t require refrigeration, dry milk (you can combine it with water and use it with cereal), and fresh fruit. If you have a generator you can run a LOOOOONG extenstion cord inside to run things like a coffeemaker or a low wattage microwave or even a hotplate so having a few of those cheap things you used to hide in your dorm room in college wouldn’t hurt either. Also if you have a grill have the tools you would need to use it to cook with, and also consider getting camping cookware so you don’t damage your kitchen cookware using it on the grill. YOU DON’T WANT TO EAT HOT FOOD ANYWAY so stock up on things that are good cold or room temperature.

Something you might have to do is hide in a closet or a hallway or a bathroom to escape any damage winds might cause or possible tornadoes. A few suggestions here: Have a couple of twin air mattresses in your linen cabinet so you don’t have to sit on the hard ground. Also, in addition to your flashlights, have smaller book lights that clip onto things to free up your hands, and you can also get little clicking lights to help light the way down hallways, up stairs, or in dark rooms. These clicking lights run on AAA batteries and have long lives, so you could leave them on for longer than a flashlight.

Returning to the idea that it might be too hot to sleep I highly recommend ZzzQuil, from the makers of NyQuil. It helps me fall asleep and it probably would have come in handy last year to get me to sleep despite the heat. Whatever sleep aid you prefer is fine too, but you’ll want to be stocked up on that in case you have to go a while without air.

The luckiest part about last year was that we had tap water. If you run on well water, or your county/city water gets messed up god help you. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t take a shower, albeit a freezing cold one since the water heater wasn’t on, or drink from the tap. We had bottled water ready to go, but it was such a weight off our backs to not have to worry about that part of the entire experience. HOWEVER I STRONGLY suggest buying water enhancer drops or flavor powder for your bottled water to give it a little flavor and kick when cold sodas and other flavored beverages are out of commission.

That’s most of the stuff I wish I had known last year, and any other suggestions will be on your run-of-the-mill hurricane kit list. The downside of this is that all these supplies cost money and none of this takes into account what you should have if you are ordered to evacuate. We have four pets and I can’t even imagine what that would be like. We have family across the state so at least we would have somewhere to go that wasn’t a crowded shelter or a hotel. I had to save up for a generator, and the radios and other things came slowly in the off season. We get a pack of batteries of some flavor every third grocery trip or so. A good hurricane kit is impossible to make all at once in the moment of an emergency – supplies will be scarce, and even if they aren’t it’s cost prohibitive to create some of the more important pieces of the kit. Last year getting things for that hurricane ruined us financially for MONTHS. I don’t think we were fully whole again until like February, and even then it was a balancing act.

If you are a reader of AAB and you are in the path of this hurricane please stay safe. Follow evacuation orders. Keep all human and fur babies safe and make sure you have food and water and prescriptions for everyone. Make sure you have everyone’s important documents in one place, and bring a book or two to read. Then, if you have to, get the fuck out of there. This is going to be a catastrophe.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Stay safe.

 

A Mile In My Shoes

Since returning to the gym over the summer and to my new school for work, I have been discovering some unsettling symptoms in my legs and body. My feet swell up, my hips give out or hurt so badly that I limp, and my back hurts all over, especially in my upper back around my shoulder blades. My feet ache all the time, especially my heels.

We just got paid for the second time this school year, so we had enough breathing room to not only pay bills but also get some things that we’ve been putting off for financial reasons. This morning the husband and I set out into the wilds of Wesley Chapel, Florida to hunt for resources. After a lovely Cracker Barrel breakfast, the husband got a new pair of glasses with lenses updated for his new prescription and a new pair of sneakers at Target to use at his daily gym visits in place of the 5 year old sneakers he had worn out.

After Target we ventured to Happy Feet Plus, a local shoe store where there is personalized service. They measure your feet with those old timey machines and they have one of those insert measurement stations where you stand in them and they show you how your weight is distributed with angry red colors. The salesman even got down on the floor to put my shoes on and lace them up for me.

When I tell you I almost cried in that store. Standing up and walking around in these shoes with the orthopedic inserts made my whole body feel completely different. Everything felt…I don’t know, aligned? Like my body was firmly mounted on a pedestal that was holding me up in the best way. I could stand up without hoisting myself with my arms/my body’s momentum. My knees and hips felt like they had goosebumps, like they were finally able to relax after being stressed for too long. It was a tingly feeling. It was unreal. I couldn’t believe the relief. They even came in my favorite color.

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I can’t wait to see how this changes how I feel on a day to day basis. I’m hoping it makes it easier for me to go to the gym. I stopped going when the school year started because I was too tired and sore to walk any more than I already was. I hope that my hips feel better soon; right now it’s hard to turn over at night without pain, and they still make it hard to walk some days.

In case you were wondering, tear-inducing relief costs $220. The shoes were $150ish and the inserts were $60ish. The salesman said that at my weight and how I plan to use them (both at work and walking on the treadmill at the gym) they should last about a year, year and a half before the inserts need to be replaced.

This is something I had to have. This is WAY MORE money than I would have ever spent on shoes. I’m a Crocs-on-sale girl and once I buy them I wear them OUT before another pair comes inside the house. But my body was telling me something had to be done or I was headed for injury. $200 now might save me significantly more later.

If you are a regular reader of Angry Angel Books, enjoy what you read, and you have some extra change jingling around in your pocket, please consider becoming a Patreon patron. There are different levels, as low as $1 a month! The cost of one cheap paperback per year supports your friendly, neighborhood reviewer and essayist. Being a patron isn’t required, your continued readership is all I could ever ask for. But any additional support is always very much appreciated.

Also I will be posting more about my day to day life as well as pictures and general writing updates on Patreon once I leave Facebook this month, so if you’d like smaller bites of my world you can follow there without ever being a patron! Some posts are patron only, but I make quite a few public posts too. You don’t want to miss out on anything from pupper pics to book festivals! And $1 a month gets you access to those patron only posts too!

I’ll be breaking in my new shoes this weekend as I take my older pupper to the vet and clean up around the house. I wish for you the best weekend and as always, thank you for being here.

 

Reclaiming My Time

If you are a member of the Facebook group you probably noticed my post over the weekend stating that I am planning to transition away from Facebook. I joined Facebook in 2006, back when you had to have a college email to get in, before they allowed children and adults at large to join, before messenger, and long before it was a for profit venture (although we always knew that someday it might be). It was useful – I kept in touch with friends, they could know what I was up to, and eventually it became a handy place to store pictures and memories. It was like a virtual scrapbook.

As I have moved around the country, gained and lost friends, and reshaped my idea of who I am, Facebook has changed as well, most recently into something that is more of a waste of time than a useful place to gather and share memories. My friends list is a tidy 35 people or less to protect my privacy and my job (screenshots are forever), and most are people who would easily switch to texting to keep in touch with me (never mind that Messenger can be used with or without a Facebook account, which is something I will explore). I am not a member of any groups, and the one group I have for this blog is simply another way to disseminate the links to my posts, something that is easily done by encouraging followers to subscribe to my posts (and these subscriptions help my website more anyway).

I hardly use Facebook anymore, and when I do it’s next to impossible to see what my friends post since I have so few of them; they are lost in the deluge of ads, recommended posts, and posts my friends like. Posts are less for information and more for entertainment, and in this way I cannot keep up and I am not interested in competing. There is a part of my leaving that speaks to protest the fact that Facebook refuses to get a handle on the problems inherent in its current state, but it’s a smaller percentage of why I am leaving, and Twitter has similar issues so my continued presence there would seem hypocritical if that was truly the reason.

The basic truth is that I enjoy Twitter more, and my experience there is easier to craft into something I benefit from. Publishers and authors are easier to reach with my positive reviews, and the writer community there is rich and thriving. If I’m going to waste time on a social media app, I’m going to narrow it down to one. I don’t have that much free time to waste.

So by the end of September I will be completely off of Facebook. It is time, and I’m ready to break the habit. Please be sure to subscribe to my posts or follow me on Twitter so you’ll always have my updates right when you want them. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting Angry Angel Books.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

As I move through my thirties and am now almost 40, I am learning some really important things about myself that I wish my elders had shared with me. My younger readers need to understand that your body doesn’t start breaking down in your 50s and 60s. IT STARTS IN YOUR THIRTIES, CHILDREN.

Man, there are so many things that I just can’t eat anymore. I’ve been listing them as they arise, but one of the things is pizza and I’m just not willing to give that up. Fried seafood, tomato-based sauces, and raw onions are all there too. One of the literary agents I follow on Twitter said he wished someone had told him how much of his thirties would be spent keeping his stomach acid in the right place. Shit man, that’s real and I’m telling you now that it is true and you should watch out because it’s coming for you.

Also did you know your feet can swell even if you aren’t pregnant? It’s a new phenomenon for me, but it happened to me the first time this summer when I attended the Advanced Placement training. I walked the 5983492873432 miles from the building where my training was to the student center in my Kadie Croc Flats to use my free food voucher, then walked all the way back. Later that night I reclined and didn’t recognize my foot because it was a sphere instead of a foot. This happened again last week when I was moving into my classroom and walking all over my new school to attend meetings. One day my toes on my left foot almost disappeared, the next my right ankle bump was completely engulfed. The lessons I’ve learned here are that I need better shoes and that I need to limit my activity to walking from/to my car at work and walking on the treadmill at the gym. I have to be careful I don’t hurt myself so I don’t find myself in a situation where I can’t walk at all.

I am thirty-five fucking years of age and EVERYTHING HURTS. Some nights I can’t even roll over in bed without my right hip sending lightning bolts of pain up through my back and refusing to move. I do more with my right leg so sometimes my right heel hurts so badly I have to limp. Earlier this week I somehow injured my upper back so that moving my left arm was almost impossible and it still feels like a golf ball is wedged under my left shoulder blade today.

I have begun to have new kinds of headaches where it feels like someone set the top  of my brain on fire a la one of those flaming desserts they serve table-side at fancy restaurants. Sleeping doesn’t help them go away, only Tylenol has managed to make dents. I would like to send up a #blessed  for my usual migraines staying away during this difficult time but I have to say that I’m not a big fan of what seems to be replacing them.

Also apparently the husband found my first grey hair but it didn’t have the decency to sprout where I could see it, he found it in the back. I looked but I couldn’t find it. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR FIVE WHOLE YEARS TO START GOING GREY AND I CAN’T EVEN CONFIRM IT’S HAPPENING. What a rip off.

I’ll just limp off to bed now. I bid all your creaking joints a pleasant evening. ❤