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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Divergent

Lots of stuff has been going on, and so I'm going to pretty much ignore it all and just post this.  It's weird.  My last post was about me driving to work, and the post prior to that was two months ago.  So there's officially so much crap that's happened since then that I'm just going to sweep it off the table like it never happened so I can move on. 

Oh...funny(ish) sidebar...

In college a fraternity brother of mine and I went to a party where we all sat around a table and played quarters.  My personality immediately drew "rules"...Jim talks, Jim drinks...that kind of thing.  Similarly, my friend Todd.  Todd "the Wad".  So the Wad was sitting directly across the table from me, and everyone had gotten up to refill the pitcher or make potty stops or whatever, and Todd looks up at me blearily, as if to speak, and throws up on the table. 

I recoiled, scooting back as far from the table as I could, and the Wad...well...he just swept it off the table like it never happened.  They came back with more beer, and the Wad just kept on playing.  He was a trooper, the Wad. 

Anyway...when I said I had all that crap that went on over the past two months and I was just sweeping it off the table?  I immediately thought of Todd the Wad.

Back on track...

I've always been an avid reader.  We've always read to the kids and I've done my level best to encourage Emma to find joy in books as well.  The Harry Potter series seemed to hit home with her.  We read it to her until she was about 11, then she finished the series off herself.  But after Harry Potter, she sort of hit a dead spot.  She just doesn't get as much out of reading as I did.  And to be fair, she's probably more active than I am. 

She's starting 7th grade.  This past weekend she came home very stressed out because she had learned that in addition to the assigned reading (in Reading class), she also needed to read three novels per 9 weeks.  She just didn't see how that was going to be possible.

We talked it out, trying to make her feel better, explaining how when she has time to read, instead of playing Words with Friends, or chatting with friends, or whatever the app du jour is...if she reads, she'll have no trouble finishing.  She seemed skeptical, but somewhat less stressed. 

The 7th graders have a choice this year, "pick one of the following:  Hunger Games, or Divergent."  I told her to just pick whichever book she doesn't want as her assigned reading.  The way I saw it, some of the kids were going to pick the other book, and if she used that as an extra novel, she'd at least be able to talk to kids who were also reading it.  The next day she came home with her first "In addition to the assigned reading" novel, "Divergent."

Okay...on the books.

I read Hunger Games.  While I don't have a problem with the book, I just wouldn't ever have picked it for my 12 year old.  It just seems too...grown up.  We shelter her from so much.  When the news is on, we turn it off.  Is she ready for this kind of book?  I would have recommended "The Borrowers" or "Chronicles of Narnia" or something...but Hunger Games?  I made my peace with it.  I decided that I would read Divergent with her, so at least I could see what she was reading.  I enjoyed it.  But she...

Loved it.  It's more grown up than the other books she's read, was that what she needed to really love a book?  Have I, all this time, been doing her a disservice by recommending books (that ARE good) that are just too...childish for her? 

She just started dance at a new studio.  She'd promised herself she'd work on her flexibility more and was stretching every night.  I know this sounds like I'm changing the subject, but...

She told me that she could really SEE the characters and what they were doing in a way that she didn't think any other book apart from Harry Potter could do.  She was sooooo into it.  I loved it.  The first night she started reading it, I told her the story of how I'd once read a book all night and went to bed only when I realized the sun had come up and I hadn't slept yet.  That night I told her she was free to read a little past bedtime, but at 11:30 to find a good spot to stop, and then go to sleep. 

I kissed her goodnight and went downstairs to finish cleaning some stuff up and walk on the treadmill.  At 12:30 I walked up the stairs to see her light still on.  I walked in to see Emma, unapologetically very wide awake and still reading. 


"Em, honey, it's after midnight.  I told you to find a good spot to stop an hour ago!"

"There wasn't a good place to stop!"

Fair enough.  She marked her place in the book and went to sleep.  I wondered if she'd have trouble sleeping because she was so excited about it.  She slept fine.  Finished the book the following day. 

One day into her assignment to read three additional novels per nine weeks, she was done with her first novel.  I think she feels a little less stressed about her class requirements now...and I am hopeful that she's discovering, in more grown up story-lines, a love of reading.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Staying Even Keel

We just got back from vacation.  A week away in Myrtle Beach.  It was largely successful.  Everyone seemed to have fun, the weather cooperated, and the long drive home was mostly uneventful. 

The problem with being on vacation for a week is that you come home and still have to do all the stuff you didn't get to do because you were vacationing:  Laundry, grocery shopping, lawn mowing.  So the return from vacation was a long and tedious drive punctuated by a return to a warm house with no food or clean clothes in it. 

The other "problem" with being on vacation is that you fall out of routine.  It's my routine to listen to audiobooks on my drive to work.  I finished the last one just before we left for vacation, and it's sort of a pain in the ass to search the online library for the next one, so I sometimes forget until right before my commute that I'm bookless. 

This morning, right before I left for work, I remembered that I was bookless, but I'd downloaded a couple songs the night before and decided instead to listen to them.  After I played them, I started browsing through my playlist as I drove, clicking a title here or artist there that struck my fancy.  And...apparently...my fancy was angry angry music, because once I started, I began looking for specific artists from that "genre" (I know "angry" isn't a genre).  It was nice to have high energy and fast beat to break the bubblegum pop routine that I'm forced into when the kids and Leslie are in the car.  BUT...

Holy shit, I'm an angry driver when I listen to it.  I drive faster.  I drive more aggressively.  I am less tolerant of people driving aggressively around me.  At one point I resisted the urge to glance into the rear view to see what I looked like...I knew I had resting bitch face, my eyebrows pinched into an angry glower.  It just...happened.  And I wasn't angry.  Or at least I don't THINK I was angry.  I actually felt pretty "good" submerging myself in the phlegm-loosening, pulse-quickening bass, sharp staccato snare, and throat rending lyrics.  But man was I aggressive! 

I should have probably gotten a couple tickets.  One would really have done the trick, I think.  On my lunch break I need to find a new audiobook. 

This morning's angry commute brought to you by:

System of a Down:  Mr. Jack
Volbeat:  Halleluja Goat
Juicehead:  Death of Democracy
Circa Survive:  Get Out
Skindred:  Nobody
Fair to Midland:  Whiskey and Ritalin
Static-X:  Destroyer
Deftones:  My Own Summer

And they're very sorry.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Haven't COMPLETELY Stopped Writing

Today I posted at Glade Run about how Lily is slowly but surely teaching us to speak her language...
Link below:

Adapted Communication