Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ramblings on Identity

One of the benefits of teaching high school is spirit days. Once or twice a year there are several days with various themes. This week is spirit week at the high school where I teach. Tuesday was Culture Day. In the last few years I have sharply limited my wardrobe, so I don't have many dress up clothes. This called for some creative thinking. So I was going to represent a subculture, punk. I got red hair paint and a t-shirt from my husband. I pulled out my make up and bobby pins and got to work. I rarely do my hair and make up and certainly never with an end goal in mind. I was a bit concerned about how it would turn out. In the end I had nothing to worry about. I did a pretty great job. (I did not do such a great job on the photo.)



When I was done, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "I could get used to this." I really liked the way it looked. It felt like this is really me. If I didn't have to live up to the expectations of family, friends, co-workers, etc., then I would dress like this more often. A part of me thinks that is really annoying and wants to rebel against expectations. However I realize that I wouldn't want to pay for that many salon visits or the make up. The part that really makes me the saddest is my son's response to me yesterday. He didn't want to look at me because my eye makeup was 'weird'. Also he asked if I could 'paint my hair brown' when I got home. So even if I got over my frugality and fear of disappointing people, my son wouldn't like it. I know he's 6. Most 6 year olds and him in particular don't like change. And if I did it long enough he would get used to it and tell me I look beautiful, like he does on normal days. So it isn't a permanent thing and it isn't a judgment against me, it is him being 6. However it still makes me sad. It leaves me wondering. Who am I really? Is that person okay for my current cultural settings? Do people like me or my presentation of me?

I know that those closest to my heart, already know that the crazy hair and make up suits me. They wouldn't expect anything less. And I love you so much for giving me that freedom to be myself crazy looks and all.

Last week I took two tests which if I pass will allow me to teach English. I was nervous about the tests at first. As studying time went on I came up with several fun ideas and started getting excited about it. In fact, I'm still excited about it. I haven't found out my scores yet, but I feel good about them. I also feel good about the possibility of becoming an English teacher at my current high school. At some point in the excitement, I started wondering why I was excited. A new challenge is exciting for me.

So then has my current work become stale and not challenging? Evidently it has. Why? Because I wasn't challenging myself. (And I have a plan to fix that for my Spanish classes.) So does that make me the type of person who needs a challenge to be really engaged in what I'm doing? I guess so. Does that mean I'm someone who can't be satisfied with where I am? Um... I hope not, but maybe. I don't want to be that kind of a person. I want to be someone who is satisfied with where God has put me. I don't want to need a change to excite me about life. On the other hand, I don't want to be so satisfied that I stop reaching for better.

Maybe I'm thinking too deeply into an outfit and a test, but that's just who I am.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Reading is Life

Social media is amazing for lots of reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it connects us to our favorite things online. One of my favorite things: Reading!

Photo Credit: erin m


I read glanced at an article that was something about falling in love with reading. I looked over the list and could not come up with a book that made me fall in love with reading. I couldn't remember a time that I didn't love reading. I vaguely remember running to my room to pick up as many books as I could carry to bring to my Mamaw to read to me. She sat there for as long as I wanted to read to me. I couldn't even read them yet. I was about 3. She had tons of books at her house too. Her book shelf was the first place I would go. I grew up watching my mom reading. I would even read the cereal box just to have something to read.

Reading has been with me longer than Jesus has been with me.

That was a rather stunning thought to me. I accepted Jesus at 15, so I've been with him for about 20 years. That seems forever, but I do remember my years before Jesus. I don't remember my years before reading and books. I remember Cabbage Patch books were my favorites as a toddler. I then fell in love with the Boxcar Children. Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen were my favorites in junior high and high school. I still have several Cabbage Patch books, a couple Boxcar Children, and a Jane Austen novel as well. My Kindle is full. I have two library cards that are fairly well used. My books shelves are overflowing.

It is safe to say that I love reading.

It is a comfort to me when I'm stressed.
It is a vacation for me when I can't take one.
It is a teacher for my soul.
It introduces me to new friends.
It shows me new ways of living.

Reading is life and it has been for as long as I can remember.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Medium Dead by Paula Paul: A Book Review

Medium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone MysteryMedium Dead: An Alexandra Gladstone Mystery by Paula Paul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The good-

I loved the way she wrote a tension between science and spiritual beliefs. The idea of modern medicine and knowledge of body functions is new to many in this small English town. It really put this novel in the right time period.

The race at the end to catch the killer and keep everyone safe was great. It is not often that you can get that effect in a novel as you do on TV. Ms. Paul did and I am impressed.

The bad -

The characters were so focused on how it couldn't be one character that they weren't really looking for the murder. They were looking for ways to exonerate the one. It seemed like half the novel was obsessed with this. It was overdone and very annoying.

The main characters of Alexandra, Nancy, and Nicholas were not terribly memorable. I didn't dislike them, but I didn't really like theme either. I just didn't have a strong sense of who they were. That by itself wouldn't have bothered me too much, but that and the obsession with exoneration almost made me rate it at 2 stars.


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Product Details

  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (April 14, 2015)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English

Book Description

 April 14, 2015
Sure to delight readers of Jacqueline Winspear, Emma Jameson, and Laura Childs, Medium Dead features Queen Victoria herself—and she’s rumored to have slain a local psychic in Newton-upon-Sea. Now the task of clearing her name and catching the real killer falls to Dr. Alexandra Gladstone.Under Victoria’s reign, women are barred from calling themselves physicians, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Gladstone. As the first female doctor in Newton-upon-Sea, she spends her days tending sick villagers in the practice she inherited from her father, with her loyal and sometimes overprotective dog, Zack, by her side.

After the corpse of village spiritualist Alvina Elwold is discovered aboveground at a church boneyard, wild rumors circulate through the charming seaside village, including one implicating a certain regal guest lodging nearby. Tales of the dead Alvina hobnobbing with spirits and hexing her enemies are even more outlandish—but as a woman of science and reason, Alexandra has no doubt that a murderer made of flesh and blood is on the loose.

Finding out the truth means sorting through a deluge of ghostly visitors, royal sightings, and shifty suspects. At least her attentive and handsome friend Nicholas Forsyth, Lord Dunsford, has come to her aid. Alexandra will need all the help she can get, because she’s stumbled upon dangerous secrets—while provoking a deadly adversary who wants to keep them buried.


Kindle Price:$2.99

Night by Elie Wiesel: A Book Review


Night (The Night Trilogy, #1)Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An intimate portrait of what one man experienced in the Holocaust. He didn't add in other bits of history that he didn't experience, so if you are looking for a sweeping summary of all parts of the Holocaust, look elsewhere. I LOVED his extremely small focus. We hear one man's story of horror. We find out the true depths of horror that humanity will put itself through. I felt sick at my stomach in a several places. There are no easy answers and no tidy endings. This is simply what he went through.

In the face of the worst horrors of humanity, what is our response? Too often it is cowardice. We are not alone. Elie discovered the coward within himself. It was honest and gut wrenching. I found myself discovering my own cowardice as well. This is a life changing novel.


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Book Description

 February 7, 2012
A New Translation From The French By Marion Wiesel

Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; Revised edition (January 16, 2006)
  • Language: English

Buy New
 $6.00

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Asylum by Madeline Roux: A Book Review

Asylum (Asylum, #1)Asylum by Madeleine Roux
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was potential for lots of greatness in the book. The back story that the characters were discovering was great. However, the characters themselves were unimpressive. Their personal "secrets" were overblown and took away from the story. The pictures were cool but added very little to the novel. There were too many questions left unanswered and the ones that were answered were too quickly answered. The characters didn't discover the answers. The answers just fell in their laps. And some of the answers didn't make sense.

There are two more books and two novellas in this series. Maybe more answers will be given in those. However, I doubt it considering the reviews I have read. And the fact that there are two novellas needed to further explain what is going on makes me very skeptical of the "main" novels.

This is a YA novel, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on it. Some YA novels hold adult appeal and some don't. This doesn't. In my opinion, Miss Peregrine's is a better YA novel. And Carol Goodman's books are much better for creepy locations full of dark history that is being resolved in the present.

If I was a teen, I think I would have enjoyed this book a whole lot more.


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Amazon information:

Book Description

 August 20, 2013
Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-illustrated novel that Publishers Weekly called "a strong YA debut that reveals the enduring impact of buried trauma on a place." Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity, perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline's twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum's dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.


Product Details

  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English

Buy New  $6.31



DISCLAIMER:
I read this book for my own enjoyment. I did not receive any perks from reviewing this novel. I linked to Amazon simply because that was the easiest place to find the information.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Tensions of Today

This morning I find myself with a few extra minutes. I have work today, but my son doesn't have school. So I'm not getting him ready or preparing lunches. So I'm sitting down to write. I have an idea that has been percolating, but I don't think I'm ready to write about it yet. That leaves me with a few random thoughts to throw at you


Photo Credit: Adrian Berg

Today is the end of the quarter and I have one more day to hound students for missing work. Some teachers don't allow late work and some do. There's always a tension between crediting them for doing the work and teaching them responsibility. I think it is a tension that most teachers feel.

Today is the last day before Spring Break. People have asked if we are doing anything special and the answer is no. Mostly because we are both so tired. Careers, choir, youth work, soccer practice, birthdays, holidays, extended family obligations, and raising two kids have left us feeling like we are coming to the end of a long and very tiring marathon. Spring Break for us will hopefully be a time to relax and decompress. It will also be a time to study. I have a test coming up in a couple weeks and study time has been limited. Hopefully Spring Break will provide some study opportunities. There is a tension between helping out and having personal time. I'm not sure that I'm successfully finding a space in that tension.

Today is Good Friday. Some students will not be there today due to religious observances. Some people might be offended that there is school today. I am going to be there and I'm not offended by it. I'm actually thinking there might be the opportunity for some wonderful conversations today. I'm loooking forward to it. If I wasn't working today, I would probably just stay home. I don't have much of an opportunity to share with people why this day is important for me if I'm just at home watching TV. However if I'm at work, I have lots of colleagues to share with. The more people I am around today, the better the chance to share my faith in an authentic way. (And it is totally fine if you do not agree with me.) Today there is a tension between honoring Jesus and sharing Jesus.

So I'm tired, but hopeful and trying to find a comfortable space between the tensions of life. How are you today?