Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book and Movie Reviews: Not Super Braggy Except to Say that I Engaged with These Texts

Good news: I've recently experienced two non-fiction stories in different media.  One was a movie and one was a book.  Here are my blurbs:

Last night my mom and I saw Spotlight, the film about the group of investigative reporters that uncovered the massive sex abuse cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese.  It was riveting and inspiring.  It also highlighted the importance of teamwork.  As David Sims writes in his Atlantic review, the film resists glorifying any one player, but rather heralds the "combined efforts of a well-run, well-staffed journalistic organ not beholden to moneyed interests, and with enough will to push past any political or social pressures."  I'm going to go ahead and heartily recommend this film.

I'm going to do the same - heartily recommend - the investigated memoir by Suki Kim entitled Without You, There Is No Us that I finished yesterday. The book is about the author's stint as a visiting English professor at a North Korean university for the sons of the ruling class.  Kim's style is spare and factual, except when she discusses the love she feels for her students.  Her descriptions of the strict and baffling rules set forth for her and the other professors by "the counterparts," their North Korean censors, highlight the role of fear in absolute control.  I'm going to call the book chilling, and maybe a little hopeful.  As Euny Hong writes in her New York Times review, "Kim's narrative suggests that the regime's stranglehold on information is starting to crack."  Gosh, I hope so.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Catch Up Brag: Status Report

Yes, it's been too many days since I last published a blog entry.  But, as this is already my most prolific year of the last ten as a blog writer, I'm not feeling too terrible about that.

Let's see here:

Entertaining: Dan and I hosted a dinner for sixteen people.  All the food was amazing, even the food we didn't make.  The company was phenomenal.  The fact that three of my five siblings were there was unprecedented and sublime. Let's not talk about how I'm the shortest of all the siblings. It's not fair, but it's reality.

Running: Shef crushed me in our Turkey Trail Trot by 3 minutes and 21 seconds.  The kid can run.  He also got 13th place overall out of 237.  While it's true that I got majorly pounded by that one competitor, I did beat 210 others.  That's right: I got 26th place, 10th for women, and 3rd in my age group.  #stillgotit

Professional Development: Friday morning at 8am, I met MM for a lovely chat about our professional practices and interests.  We shared book and article titles and patted each other on the back.  It was delightful, and we're going to do it again soon.  Slapdash, you're on the guest list for all the other times.  Get ready.

Green Smoothies: I'm at seven days of drinking green smoothies.  I feel pretty great.  Highly energetic.  I got Dan to also drink them.  This seems to be a very good health decision, and I feel superior every time I mix one up.  It seems braggy and sort of annoying to tell you that, but that's the whole point of this month on the blog.  It might be the hardest challenge ever, but I'm obviously rising to the occasion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mind Meld #TwinTuesday

"Do you have a salamander?" asked Lee.

"I think so," I said. "And how about something with laundry?"

And so salamander and dryer sheet was born.  Little did we know we have EXACTLY the same red plastic salamander.  We actually had not an inkling until we posted our photos (mine on the left, hers on the right) this morning on Instagram.

There's never been a #TwinTuesday as #TwinTuesday as this. I know.  It's flipping out of control.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Incredible Health: Bragging About Breakfast

My friend Melanie is a food and nutrition blogger.  She's got this thing going on right now, which is a GREEN SMOOTHIE CHALLENGE.  You try to drink a green smoothie every day between now and January 1.  Because why wait to make positive health changes?  She says you don't even have to stop eating the other holiday stuff.  Just ADD the green smoothie.  Finally, she doesn't even get mad at me for not doing it.  She just says, Good Try!  Thanks for thinking about it!

So, it took me ten days and some whining and asking for special favors to start the challenge.

But I did, and I'm on Day 2.  My GREEN SMOOTHIES have had a blend of dark greens, including baby kale, chard and spinach, coconut milk, frozen mango, and a little banana.  Also I sprinkled in a little of Dan's protein powder.  Don't tell him, or he'll probably have me arrested for stealing, right after he makes me read his blog.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hate to Brag: Just Developing as a Professional Over Here

If you're not an English teacher, you probably didn't even know that you should come to the National Council of Teachers of English convention today in Minneapolis.  You wouldn't even have realized that it would be your chance to hear acclaimed and ground-breaking cartoonist Alison Bechdel discuss her path as a writer and artist.

You also probably wouldn't have had an opportunity to yuk it up with middle-grade writers who generously shared their processes and perspectives on diversity in children's lit.

Then, you wouldn't have been able to hear from one of your favorite researchers in a talk about teaching an LGBTQ-themed literature class to high school kids.

Next, you wouldn't have been able to peek in on Newbery winner Katherine Applegate talking about reading as a writer.

Finally, you wouldn't be sitting with me right here right now listening to some researchers and professors talk about teaching through Ferguson.

There are lots of times when being an English teacher might seem sort of ordinary and unglamorous to you.  That might not actually be the case. It might be the case that you just can't properly interpret what you're looking at - the unending thrill and sophistication of a constantly-evolving vocation.

Wish you were here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

So Brag: Thursday is the New Friday

This week, I was smart enough to sign up to go to the NCTE conference, taking place this year in MINNEAPOLIS, tomorrow.  That means this is my last teaching day of the week.  Also because I team teach, I no longer have to write lesson plans when I'm going to be gone.

Can you even imagine that benefit?  My team just covers for me, and kids have the same educational experience they would have had if I had been there.  Later, I cover for my teammates when they have alternative obligations.

It's smooth, it's smart, and it's good for kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Thank goodness we're still in the month of bragging, so I can tell you that this is one of my favorite #TwinTuesday pics ever.  I'm not sure why I find it so whimsical, but I do.   

Head over to Lee's blog to see her take on Wrench and Avocado. While we're on the subject, I hate to rub it in, but it's not easy to find a friend like Lee who will support your creative endeavors and do quirky projects with you. Even if you have found a friend who fits the bill, yours is probably not as great as mine.