Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 rewind.

2011 has come to an end.  good riddance, i say.  and since reminiscing is a byproduct of this time of year, here i go:

worst parts: daddy getting so sick, being too busy to do the things i love, hospitalization after hospitalization, constant stress, frustration, anger and sadness, hurting my wrist, sophie, the river running through my office, broken water main, losing the world series

best parts: sewing, austin with gabe, the return of the tomato, mineral wells with nick, the epic ice storm, the mercedes of sewing machines, beaver nuggets, tulsa with nick, ALCS win, making it to the world series, the galaxy edition of the fireman

it's been a pretty rotten year with a few good bits. i know that i have it better and easier than so many others, despite the year's tremendous hardships.  so now on to the resolutions.

in 2011 i resolved to:
1) work seriously on the bradbury project. maybe even go to ohio to see the manuscripts. (yeah, so i have reworked it over and over again.  i think i'm closer to being finished.  maybe)
2) master the better crochet hold (after the wrist injury of may/june, crochet has taken a backseat.  i can't really crochet much anymore, so this one didn't happen)
3) quilt.  for real. (yup.)
4) make grading deadlines and stick to them. (yup.)

in 2012 i will:
1) work seriously on the bradbury project. maybe even go to ohio to see the manuscripts.
2) learn the new sewing machine (emmie) backwards and forwards
3) cook more

best of 2011 (the best things i've encountered this year)

    * the body farm series - jefferson bass (total crap, but oh so fun!)
    * the maltese falcon - dashiell hammett
    * bossypants - tina fey
    * the passage - justin cronin
    * the hunger games trilogy - suzanne collins
    * the brief wondrous life of oscar wao - junot diaz   

    * mission bell - amos lee
    * 21 - adele
    * the band perry - the band perry
    * modern love - matt nathanson
    * barton hollow - the civil wars
    * four the record - miranda lambert

    * true grit
    * i am number four
    * horrible bosses
    * cowboys and aliens
    * the muppets

    *fox sportscaster during a world series game:  "pujols squeezes out number two!" (say it out loud)
    *gabe: "my prose will destroy you."

2011 in review (quotes from my dear bloggy blog):

janeiro: "i've decided to take some time off from the blogosphere."

fevereiro: "It is hard enough to get students to open their minds and discuss things rationally without the added pressure of deadly weapons."

marco: "i was lucky enough to be able to purchase a text that i have lusted after for several years now, the february 1951 edition of gold's galaxy science fiction magazine, and it arrived in the mail today."

abril: "i'm swamped--eternally busy with a very, very weak light at the end of the proverbial tunnel."

maio: "creativity is bursting out in all different directions--sewing, crafting, cooking--but not in the direction of the printed word."

junho: "in an effort to get over this terrible creative block, i'm cannibalizing facebook's 30 day song challenge here on my bloggy blog."

julho: "i'm listening the stan getz and joao gilberto on vinyl right now.  that's right.  be jealous."

agosto: "i was like them, and in the minutes after the attacks, i wasn’t."

setembro: "to all the writers out there--those who have been banned/challenged and those who haven't:  thank you for doing what you do.  we hear you.  we feel you.  we understand."

outubro: "beginning november 1, i will buy no more books for a period of six months."

novembro: "underlying all my english and literature nerdiness is an epic love of culture and social sciences. "

dezembro:"please don't judge all texans by rick perry."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

dear world,

please don't judge all texans by rick perry.  i promise that a lot of us are more open minded and less skeevy than him. 

we, too, think he's an idiot and are embarrassed that he is even associated with a state we love so much.


a mortified texan

Friday, December 2, 2011

one month later.

yesterday marks the one month mark on my buying-books-ban.  that’s right: i’ve made it a full month without purchasing, virtually or otherwise, a single book.

i have been tempted.  a lot.  but i have refrained, and i’m proud of myself.

this month, while devoid of book buying, has been full of text.  here’s a rundown of what i’ve been reading (and listening) to in the past month:

the passage – justin cronin
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression:  pretty good.  the longest book ever, but pretty good.  an interesting take on the current cultural vampire obsession.  the next book comes out soon, and i intend on finding myself a free copy to borrow.

seriously, i’m kidding – ellen degeneres
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression: eh.  i didn’t find it very funny, despite being narrated by ellen.  i lost interest and stopped midway through.

blood, bones, and butter – gabrielle hamilton
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression:  the first part was great—sentimental and her passion for food and family really came through.  the rest left me pondering how someone who is so completely narcissistic warrants my time.  i don’t like this woman.


the city of falling angels – jon berendt
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression:  really interesting, but a bit unfulfilling.  there were intensely interesting moments that captivated me, but there were some equally boring and drawn-out periods that i really wanted to skip.  i’m still kind of baffled at how berendt is able to pull all of the various stories together at the end, but he does.


water for elephants – sara gruen
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression:  my opinion isn’t fully formed yet.  it was alright.  i don’t “read” a lot of contemporary fiction, especially not in the wishy-washy romance genre, so i don’t really have a basis for comparison.  i didn’t hate it, but i didn’t love it either.

the disappearing spoon – sam kean
medium: print
obtained through: already owned it – just hadn’t gotten to it yet
impression:  snooze.  i got three chapters in and quit.  mark kurlansky and erik larson this guy is not.  his information is dry, and his writing style is bothersome.  i’ll be selling this book to hpb when i’m able to purchase books again.


american on purpose – craig ferguson
medium: audio
obtained through: library
impression:  i’m almost done with this one and think it’s pretty good so far.  craig ferguson is freaking hysterical and his narration makes the book that much better.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

operation read what i have: the beginning

quite a few people over the past two days have expressed various degrees of disbelief and confusion about why i’m challenging myself to stop buying books for a six-month period.
there are myriad reasons why i’ve accepted this challenge, but before i get to those let me make one thing clear:  i’m not going to stop reading for six months, i’m just going to stop paying money for books for that time.  rest assured, i will read just as much.

reason 1:  space
i don’t have any more room for books.  i’m out of space.  books are becoming furniture already, so i need to curb their takeover for just a little bit so i can sort through what i have and am willing to sell off.  i don’t like shedding books, so it takes me time to embrace the decision.  this challenge is a way to postpone the inevitable and give myself time to make smart decisions about the purge.

reason 2:  practice what you preach
i fuss at my students all the time for not using the amazing resources they have available to them.  i’m guilty of this crime, too.  i have so many literary outlets, and, sadly, most of them go unused because it is so blasted easy to tap “buy” on my nook or “check out” on amazon.  rather than taking the three extra steps to use a free resource, i buy books.  so part of this challenge is to force me to start using these resources, thereby allowing me to practice what i preach.

reason 3: playing with form
since i got my nook, on top of e-book purchases i’ve bought more books—actual paper and glue books.  i’m probably atoning for buying an e-reader, but it is what it is.  i love that we have so many different forms of books available to us, so i want to make better use of all the forms.  currently, i’m really enjoying audiobooks (partly because i have a long commute, and partly because they allow me to multi-task—you mean i can drive and “read” at the same time?!).  this challenge will allow me to continue to play with different forms.

reason 4: lack of inspiration
i have been utterly devoid of inspiration lately.  i have no creative drive whatsoever.  i'm hoping that, by forcing myself to find ways to get the books i'm after, i can overcome this immense creative block.

reason 5: the social experiment factor
underlying all my english and literature nerdiness is an epic love of culture and social sciences. 

this challenge is allowing me to see what it would be like to not have the ability to purchase books—what some might consider to be a luxury or frivolous purchase.  books are such an integral part of who i am, that i’m interested to see what happens when i remove my ability to buy them from the equation (will i stop reading due to the hassle?  will i mourn for amazon and barnes and noble? will i count down the days until i can buy books again?  will i be perfectly fine?).

another part of the experiment side of things deals with knowledge and intellectual property.  do i have to own a book to know it?  do i need to physically hold a book in my hands and have it on my bookshelf to have rights to the knowledge or story it has provided me?  can the two—book and knowledge—exist separately or must they coexist?
so there are some of the reasons i’m doing this.  and here, for the record (and so others can hold me to it), are the rules:

not allowed
books i already own
purchases of new books
library materials
purchases of used books
project gutenberg
purchases of e-books
books borrowed from friends/family
using a gift card to buy books
free e-books (b&n free book fridays)
any exchange of money for books

as i move through this experiment, i will be chronicling the experience here—all its ease, difficulty, and whatever else i encounter along the way.