Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Three Musketeers Readalong Post 2: Chapters 30-67.

Welcome to the second post of our The Three Musketeers readalong hosted here at A Literary Odyssey. Two weeks ago, participants posted their thoughts on the first half of Dumas' novel. Today, we will be discussing the second half of this French classic.

I really enjoyed the first half of this novel. I found it to be fun, light, and easy to read. In fact, I was well on my way to declaring this a favorite.

Because this truly is a fun read. Each chapter is filled with action and laughter. The musketeers and D’Artagnan are slightly ridiculous and while they seem to be in "peril" in certain parts of the novel, I never fear for them.

However, the book began to lose its charm for me in the second half of the novel. The focus shifted away from our male heroes for a length of time to follow our villain as she made her way to England. Madame de Winter is captured and we spend the next length of time with her in her captivity.

This is where Dumas lost me...and made me angry. We watch as de Winter continues to be made into a villain, which she is. But it is the way she reaches her viciousness that bothered me. She uses seduction and low tricks to manipulate the men around her...and after reading it for a while, I got annoyed. Why is it that women can only be clever when they use their sex appeal? It seemed to me as if Dumas was saying that women are either helpless (aka Constance Bonacieux or the Queen), or some kind of evil seductress. I didn't see a middle ground.

I also got annoyed with the treatment of Constance Bonacieux near the end of the novel. It almost felt like Dumas didn't know what to do with her.

I also got to the point where I was done being humored by the exploits of our heroes. It started to become tired. I wanted to shake them and make them care for the people around them. By the end of the novel, I began to see them as selfish and spoiled. Yes, grown spoiled men.

But the biggest problem is that I simply wanted more from this. Where The Count of Monte Cristo left me thinking and debating in my head, this was just what it appeared to me. I have been thinking about this novel for the last few days since I finished it, and I still can't find the deeper meaning I am looking for. In comparison to many of the other classics I have read, this one just seems to lack the lasting impact I want from these titles.

It was fun, yes. And I will probably reread it at some point. But it just lacked the depth I crave and the power to make a lasting impression on me.

How did you feel about it?

If you participated and completed the readalong, post a link to your post below. In addition, please leave me your e-mail so I can contact you. :) Thank you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Graduate School.

I have mentioned it a couple of times on twitter, but I am in the process of applying to go back to school for my Master's. I am planning on getting my degree in English.

This is different than the plan I had laid out for myself a few years ago. I always thought that I would graduate college and be one of the lucky ones with a job right out of school. The longer time goes from the date I graduated college, the more I wonder if someone up there is trying to tell me sometimes. Perhaps I am not meant to work in a secondary environment. Don't get me wrong, I love it. But there are other things lingering in my mind...

Had I gotten that teaching job right out of school back in 2008, I would have eventually gone back for my Master's in Education, since that is more the norm for teachers returning to school. There is nothing wrong with that, and I was never as IN to my literature as I have been in the last year or so.

The more I think about it, and the longer I am out of school, I am finding that I really want to focus more on the literature end of things. I was reading with my sophomores today from The Crucible and my class was getting really into discussing it. It clicked again in my mind-that I would prefer to just talk about the literature end of English. It is what I love. I like teaching writing and grammar too, but talking about books? It is really my passion.

I have been thinking about this for awhile and have started the process. I have just over a month to get all the pieces in to the university I am applying to, then, I'm crossing my fingers tight. I really, really want to go back to school.

Right now I am waiting to hear back from the professors I contacted for letters of recommendation. However, two of the professors I contacted I haven't heard from. I am getting a little antsy, so for those of you who have gone through this process, who else did you ask to write letters? The university says, "Please submit three letters of recommendation, preferably from professors who have taught you in literature courses. These letters should speak to your record and potential in literary studies." My interpretation is that it doesn't HAVE to be a professor, but who should I ask in case I need a back up?

Anyway, I am continuing on with the process and will let you all know what eventually happens!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up for March 27, 2011.

Umm, where did this past week go? I feel as if the weeks keep going by, and now that spring break is 4 school days away, I'm in a bit of shock. Where has the first part of this year gone?

I am still beyond busy. I haven't had a day off in two weeks between teaching and working at the park on the weekends. I am tired and a little grumpy (according to my husband, I am a LOT grumpy). But the extra hours are nice and I am sure that when I get that paycheck from the park I will be a much happier camper. :)

I should also note that since the weather in Michigan decided to skip spring, summer, and fall and go straight back to winter with snow and ice this week, there is little outdoors work to do at the park. So, I am able to grade some papers and read a little bit. I really can't complain too much, can I?

In any case, Thursday is the last day of school for the kids and substitutes, so I will be more than excited to have that day come! I am already making lots of plans for a few days of glorious reading next week. I am going to enjoy my break!

In reading news, I had a fairly successful week. I didn't realize until last Saturday night that my Classics Circuit Tour post was supposed to go up on Monday, so I flew through The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway in a couple of days. I also started teaching The Crucible this week to my sophomores, so I took it home one night and finished the whole thing (it has been a long time since I have read it). I avoided Atlas Shrugged like the plague and decided to start something new-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

I have been putting off Jane Eyre for a number of reasons-mainly that I was afraid I wouldn't I like it. I read Villette in the fall and adored it, so perhaps you can understand my misgivings. However, with all of the talk about the movie version coming out, as well as more and more reviews being posted, and nagging from other bloggers, I figured it was time to pull it off the shelf and finally open it. I consider myself lucky that I have made it this long without hearing much about the story. The only things I do know is that it is about an orphan, and sooner or later, some guy named Rochester is going to come into play. I am curious to see how it all works and what kind of story I am in for. I am 100 pages in and really loving it (in a different way than Villette). I am hoping to finish it this week.

As for the blogging break, well...I am sure you will see more posts pop up this week. I don't want to be officially back, since I really don't have time to visit and go to other blogs like I used to, but this is a big step in that direction. :)

Happy Reading everyone!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones: 1934-2011.

I was shocked this morning to see tweets discussing the death of the wonderful and inspiring Diana Wynne Jones. After looking around the internet, it looks as if the rumors are true and the literary world has a lost a great talent.

I read my first book by Jones when I was a high schooler. Her titles jumped at me off the shelf, and I quickly read my way through a number of her fantasy novels, loving each and every one of them. She had a talent for making her stories inventive, fun, and heart-warming. I loved every one of them. I even featured Howl's Moving Castle here on the blog as a Thursday Treat (a feature I have since put on hold).

I am sad to know that someone who I loved so much when I was younger is gone. I am sad that I won't get to read new works by her, since she had plans for two more novels before her death. Instead, I can reread some of her novels from my childhood, find copies of the ones that are out of print, and savor the few novels by her I haven't managed to read yet. I will remember all the things she taught me through her writing.

And one day, I'll pass on her books to my own children-so they can be as inspired as I am. That is the great thing about literature. Even though the writer is gone, their presence lives on in their worlds. And I am aim to keep rediscovering them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Classics Circuit: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another" (19).

Welcome to my post for the Classics Circuit tour of the "Lost Generation" era of American literature. I was really excited that this era of literature won in the vote, since I love this era of U.S. History. The period of U.S. History from the beginning of WWI to the end of WWII has defined the country we are today. What better way to explore that than through the eyes of writers?

For those of you unfamiliar with the "Lost Generation" writers, they are a group who worked closely together in the 1920s and focused on many contemporary issues in the American way of life. If you have read The Great Gatsby, then you are familiar with the era.

Given that there were so many choices by these wonderful authors, I had a hard time choosing. I was stuck between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. I have had limited experience with both, so you might understand why I had a hard time deciding!

I ended up going with a Hemingway novel. It spoke to me off my shelf. The Sun Also Rises, published in 1926, really starts this idea and concept of the "lost generation" of Americans. That term, in reference to history, identifies the young generation of Americans who came home from the war. for many, it had been a nightmare-vicious and violent. Many felt that it hadn't been our war to fight (since before WWI, the U.S. was rather isolationist. We didn't really involve ourselves in world affairs). When these men and women came home, they were lost. How DO you come back to living a normal life after seeing so much death?

For many of them, they struggled to find a purpose and place back in America. Things were different, freer, and these young people had to adjust to that new feeling. Many struggled, but many more triumphed. It was a period in U.S. history (the twenties) where things appeared to be good. People were happy. We were at peace. We were not dominated by thoughts of violence and oppression.

So I was curious to see how Hemingway's novel captured this attitude and feel. I love the history of the 20s, so I couldn't wait to see his view.

The novel focuses on a group of Americans living abroad. Some are writers, others are just lost. Our narrator is Jake Barnes, a veteran of the first world war. In sparse prose, we are included in this collection of lost souls as they try to figure out where to go next. There are love affairs, fights, and pain, but the overall theme of this novel comes back to that idea of being lost.

Where do you go after you have faced death? What do you do when you have been through war?

I can't answer those questions. I haven't been there, I haven't faced those things. While members of my generation are fighting a war, it is not as widespread, as panic stricken, or as devastating as WWI was. I have never had to come home with the knowledge that I killed a man, or saw death on battlefields or in hospitals.

Those are feelings that many people in the twenties felt, and I can see all of those things in Hemingway's novel. He is not a flowery writer, preferring to get across his message in short, declarative sentences, but he doesn't need to beef things up to get across the sparse, bare feeling of being lost. He does that well by being straight forward. I love that kind of writing.

The characters are great examples of this feeling of a lost identity. This passage, taken from near the beginning of the novel, really sums up that feeling of confusion:

"'Listen, Jake,' he leaned forward on the bar, 'Don't you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by bad you're not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you've lived nearly half the time you have to live already?'
'Yes, every once in awhile.'
'Do you know that in about thirty-five more years we'll be dead?'
'What the hell, Robert,' I said. 'What the hell" (19).

I'm sure we all feel that way sometimes, but that feeling of desperation and loneliness was such an ingrained part of their lives.

Here is another passage that I have reread numerous times in the last few days:

"She was sitting up now. My arm was around her and she was leaning back against me, and we were quite calm. She was looking into my eyes with that way she had of looking that made you wonder whether she really saw out of her own eyes. They would look on and on after every one else's eyes in the world would have stopped looking. She looked as though there were nothing on earth she would not look at like that, and really she was afraid of so many things," (34).

Beautiful, isn't it? While I can certainly appreciate flowery description, sometimes all I really want is something to that point. Hemingway is good that way.

The Sun Also Rises is a beautiful novel-one that defines both a generation of writers and the hopeful nature of young Americans after the Great War. It captures a period and feeling of American history unlike any other and would be an excellent place to start for anyone interested in the time period.

If you are interested in signing up for future Classic Circuit posts, or to track other posts in the Lost Generation Tour, please visit the Classics Circuit Blog. It is a wonderful opportunity to promote the reading of classics, meet other bloggers, or dust off a classic that has been on your shelf for years (we all have them-don't be ashamed!).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up for March 20, 2011.

I am still officially on a blogging break. I haven't read very many blogs in the last few weeks and I am still trying to keep my head above water on things going on elsewhere. More on the blog in a bit...

I was given the date that will be my last at the school I am long-term subbing at. I was really sad to know that I wouldn't be finishing out the school year with "my" kids. I seem to have really found my groove in the school and with my students, so I am sad to be leaving. But, it has been a great experience and I have learned a lot. Additionally, I've gotten great feedback from staff, students, and parents, so I am feeling very confident about going ONCE more into the job hunt this summer.

A very big part of me feels like this is my year and that if I am meant to be a teacher, it will happen this year.

My last day is April 21, which leaves me 4 more weeks with my students (1 week is Spring Break). In that time period I get to teach many wonderful things: I'm finishing a rhetorical analysis unit with my seniors and we're going to look at literary criticism next, my sophomores are starting The Crucible next week, and my U.S. History kids are going to finish studying the 50s before Spring Break, then begin discussion on the 60s after. So, I have a lot of great things still to teach.

The other big thing going on is that I started back at my summer-time job yesterday. I work at a local city park as a seasonal ranger, which I have done for the last 7 years. They asked me to start a little early since they are short-staffed, so I agreed. This means that I am currently on day 7 of at least 22 days of working in a row. It is not as bad as it sounds since I can grade and lesson plan at the park. The extra income should hopefully make my husband lift my book buying ban as well. ;)

As for the blog...

Like I said, I am still officially on a "break." Not having pressure to post and read has really been helping me get hold of everything else going on in my life right now. I AM still posting any obligatory posts (readalongs, wrap-up posts, etc). All of my reading has been centered on these things anyway. But I am finally getting my groove back. I WANT to be reading now, which is a big difference to how I felt in the months prior. I feel good about where I am.

I imagine I'll be back to full blogging duties in another week or two. Spring Break is in two weeks, and since I won't be subbing or working full-time at the park, I plan on spending some time enjoying myself-reading, writing, and getting some things done around the apartment that have been neglected a bit. Hopefully before that hits I will be back in the swing of things. Not that I have really been "gone," have I?

In any case, I look forward to having the freedom over the summer to go crazy hacking away at books on my list. For the first time in months, I am feeling motivated and driven to make a lot of progress. Let's hope this feeling continues!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Readalong Post 1:

Well folks, it is time to talk about the first third of the behemoth Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Going into this post, I am going to try to stay away from just giving summary, but instead talk about some of the deeper issues in the book (I say this because I find myself merely summarizing in my readalong posts-I think I feel, that as the host, I should only be forming a starting point for other bloggers to comment on-know what I mean?).

In any case, I went into this book with a lot of apprehension. I don't know a great deal about Rand, but the pieces I do know are unsettling. I'm not sure how I feel about her, even after looking around for answers. I was also intimidated by Adam, who finished the whole shebang rather quickly. His post, which is linked below, really dove into the depth of this book far more than I hope to.

At the time when I read his post, I was only two chapters in. I hadn't formed a real opinion, but was finding myself annoyed with Rand.

That feeling has gradually disappeared. While I don't agree with her philosophy of Objectivism, I get it. I mean, I can understand why some would feel that way. And as a vehicle for her philosophy, Atlas Shrugged really seems to shove those ideas down the readers' throats.

I didn't really mind once I got going. In fact, I read the rest of this section, 8 chapters, last night in a long reading spurt. Of course there were pieces that made me a little angry. I have thrown my copy of the book a few times at the wall (I'm serious-one side is dented). I don't like it when writers shove things down my throat. It irritates me. I hate that there seems to be no middle ground-that things are black or white, right or wrong. Life can't function that way and examples of that just serve to piss me off as I am reading...

But I kind of like what Rand is doing. Since this is my first read and I know little about Rand and the story, I don't know where this is going. It is certainly a bit of mystery and I am enjoying that. I like going into books not knowing the story. They catch my attention far more.

I also really like the character of Dagny. She is spunky and ferocious, which I love in a female character. At times I feel like we don't know enough about her, but I can fill in the blanks. I think that if I were ever to be in the business world, I would also be a bit spunky and ferocious. I'm like that with my students (restrained of course), but I don't take nonsense.

Some of the other characters are a at this point so I am curious how Rand, or if, she develops them more. I can't stand Reardan, but who really can? He seems to be rather cold-hearted. In fact, a lot of the characters seem to share that trait. That is hard to relate to as a reader, so I must struggle through some of those sections.

I am curious, and anxious, to see where Rand will take me. I am curious about what else she has to say and how she'll get it across to me. I wonder how many more times I will throw this book to the ground in frustration, and how many times I will wonder if Rand has a point. All of that has happened in this first section, and I am just curious.

I will say that this is not as bad of a read as I was expecting. I thought I would be sucked into a novel with horrible writing. And while Rand isn't a great writer, she is easier to read than I though. The language isn't complicated.

Anyway, I will see you all again on April 8th!

If you have your post up, please comment and leave a link to your post below!

Adam (his post covers the entire book)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Discussion: Your Reading Speed.

My two sophomore English classes have been reading a number of short stories over the past two weeks. Today they were assigned a science-fiction story and to mix it up, I told them I wanted them to read it solo. I usually try to vary how we read things in class-from reading with a partner, to class readings, and following along with an audio recording-I like the diversity and the way it makes each class day different.

Reading in class can be painful for some students, so by mixing it up this way, I try to prevent as much of that self-conscious feeling as possible. However, today I really wanted the kids to read the story on their own so I could check their reading comprehension. Makes sense, right?

Well, one of my classes got sidetracked into an intense discussion on reading and reading speed. We spent some time today talking about average reading speeds, skimming, and comprehension. Some of my kids admitted that they have a hard time reading on their own while in school. The pressure of watching other kids reading and flipping pages faster than they do stresses them out.

I never had that problem in school. I have always been a fast reader. I would say that on average, I read 2-3 pages a minute. That changes depending on the material (War and Peace averaged about a page/minute-YA novels can be read 4 or 5 pages/minute). Just the other night I read about 90 pages of The Three Musketeers in about 45 minutes or so.

So it has taken me some time to check the assignments I give my students. My reading speed and comprehension is faster and higher than theirs, so I have to slow it down.

But then I started wondering how fast you all read. As bloggers, reviewers, and dedicated readers, we (in general terms) probably read more than the average person. My questions to you are these: How fast do you think you read? What do you think is an average reading amount? Does reading quicker lower comprehension?

You get the idea, right? I'm curious to see what your answers are!

Lady Chatterley's Lover April 2011 Readalong Sign-ups.

Welcome to the sign-up post for April's readalong of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover hosted here at A Literary Odyssey! This post IS a little late in going up, but better late than never, right?

You voted and selected this title over Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, so hopefully this is the one you voted for.

I have very little experience with Lawrence. I read Sons and Lovers by him last year and was left feeling a little..."meh" about the whole thing. However, I have heard that this title is far superior and I am looking forward to reading it.

If you aren't sure if this is something you are interested in, here is a synopsis taken from

"Perhaps the most famous of Lawrence's novels, the 1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover is no longer distinguished for the once shockingly explicit treatment of its subject matter--the adulterous affair between a sexually unfulfilled upper-class married woman and the gamekeeper who works for the estate owned by her husband. Now that we're used to reading about sex, and seeing it in the movies, it's apparent that the novel is memorable for better reasons: namely, Lawrence's masterful and lyrical writing, and a story that takes us bodily into the world of its characters."

It certainly sounds interesting, doesn't it?

I have organized this readalong into two posts. Each post will cover half of the book and will take place on the following two days:
  • Post 1 will be posted on April 15: Post 1 will cover the first half of the novel (the first ten chapters-in my edition it is 146 pages)
  • Post 2 will be posted on April 30: post 2 will cover the second half of the novel (chapter eleven to the end-in my edition it is just over 150 pages)
I do hope you'll consider joining in on this! The length is significantly shorter than some of the other readalongs, so maybe that will entice you. :)

If you want in, please comment and leave me a link to your blog so I can link you here (that way we can all cheer you on!). Keep in mind that all participants of my readalongs who complete the readalong are getting something special (more on that when you finish one!), so sign up if you're interested!

I only require my participants to make their post and link it here. You don't have to comment on other participants' posts, but of course, that is always encouraged.

Please spread the word around so that someone (hopefully YOU) might decide to join me. :)


Peppermint Ph.D.
Lit Addicted Brit

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Three Musketeers Readalong Post 1: Chapters 1-29.

Welcome to post 1 of 2 for the readalong of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers hosted here at A Literary Odyssey. This post covers the first half of the book (roughly 300 or so pages depending on your edition), or the first 29 chapters.

This is only the second novel by Dumas that I have read. I have read The Count of Monte Cristo twice and have loved it intensely both times. So why did I wait so long to pick up another novel by Dumas? I think we can all be intimidated by the length in Dumas’ works. The Count of Monte Cristo is truly a brick of a book (my edition is over 1000 pages), and so are many of Dumas’ other novels. Sometimes when it comes to a choice between a 200 and a 600 page book, my sanity meter kicks in and I pick the shorter read.

But, halfway through The Three Musketeers, I feel like I am reading a quick novel. The pace never lets up. Each page has action and drama. I am sucked in to the world of the musketeers and D’Artagnan. Their swords crash constantly and there is never a dull moment.

When I first started, I was a little wary. Our main character, D’Artagnan, is introduced from the beginning a young (and kind of foolish) man who seemed to draw his sword at every little insult. I was put off by him at first and couldn’t believe that Dumas would craft such a silly character.

As the novel went on and I was introduced to more of the main characters (mainly the three musketeers: Athos, Porthos, and Aramis) I was drawn in to the action and liveliness of D’Artagnan. He wasn’t silly anymore, just chivalrous and young. Soon, I found myself beginning to fall in love with the romantic sweep of the novel.

Because at its very core, this is a fun novel and I need some of that fun in my life. While the novel certainly explores some deep things-like murder, treason, etc-it is done in a way that I am constantly entertained. Each of the four main characters makes me smile in their own way and seem to dance off the page. I love their banter, and their need to constantly draw their swords. It is fun, light-hearted, and not at all what I expected.

I will say that the only fault I find in the novel is the main characters lack of...morals? There is constant repetition of the fact that they borrow money from others, steal, and gamble. I understand some of it, but it has gotten to be a little much (particularly the scene with Athos trapped in the cellar of that poor innkeeper). However, it is not enough to prevent me from really enjoying the story, and that is what matters.

The story is progressing and while 300 or so pages have passed, I am still anxious to see what happens. So far our heroes have killed numerous men, rescued gems from England, and been wounded. We have also learned a bit about each of their mysterious pasts and the lives of our musketeers are slowly being unfolded. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens.

If you are participating in the readalong, please comment here and leave a link to your post so I can link it here. Make sure you check back often so you can visit other participants and see their thoughts (that’s what makes a readalong fun!).

I will see you back here on March 31 for the second half of the book!

All for one and one for all!








Amy-Lit Quest (Not a participant, but wrote a GREAT post!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up for March 13, 2011.

Hi there.

I am still on a blogging break. I really needed to step back for my own sanity, and with the amount of craziness that has happened this week, I know I made the right decision. I can't talk about everything now, but I am sure I will reveal bits and pieces in the future.

Anyway, you will see some posts going up this week. I am going to continue hosting for my readalongs, as well as getting the one for April up and running. You'll see posts for The Three Musketeers, Atlas Shrugged, and the last post for War and Peace that never seemed to make it up. Again, I am really sorry about that.

I am doing some reading, but my focus has been on other things this week. I already broke my book buying ban since the Borders that is closing near my home reduced their prices again this week. I have a serious problem. I think Matt is on the verge of taking away all book buying rights, so my ban has been reinstated after a serious splurge yesterday. But these are the new titles sitting on my shelves (oh, and I need more of those as well...)

The left pile includes (from bottom to top):
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
  • Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl
  • The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

The right pile includes (from bottom to top):
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  • Possession by A.S. Byatt
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  • Electra and Other Plays by Euripedes
  • Ethan Frome (Deluxe Edition) by Edith Wharton
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Metamorphoses by Ovid
  • Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
  • The Sea Wolf by Jack London

Lots of new titles and quite a few from my book list. It is hard to say no to books that are 40% off. It is also incredibly sad to see a bookstore half empty when two weeks ago it was bursting.

I hope you are all doing well, and I hope to be rejoining you all sooner rather than later.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making it Official.

The last week or two I've been a little MIA, so I suppose it is time to make it official that I am on a short blogging break.

I will still post for the readalongs, as well as my weekly wrap-up posts on Sunday, but I am taking a step back for a week or two (possibly more). I have a lot going on at the moment, and I simply can't put in the time or the effort right now.

That makes me horribly sad. I want you all to know that I miss writing here. I have been complaining of late about not feeling like myself, and I think that it has a lot to do with restricting my time here. I wish I had more time to read and write, but I have to sleep sometime. :)

I'll be around if you e-mail, or comment, or tweet me.

Happy Reading everyone!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: What a Horrible Week.

This week was just awful. I feel like I was productive at school, but that school took over my life in a way that I shouldn't allow it to.

A couple years ago, I had another long-term sub job and I was constantly at school way too late. I was always spending hours grading during the week and my entire Sunday sitting at the kitchen table planning and prepping. Parts of that had to do with the fact I was in my first year and that I was completely on my own for planning. School took over my life.

I promised myself that I wouldn't let that happen again, but this week took me back two years to that level of insanity. I was at school for really long hours. I brought too much home with me at spend all night Tuesday and Wednesday grading until the wee hours. I think me being tired led to a little meltdown Friday afternoon. I was tired and worn out and ready to just sleep.

And sleep I DID. I was in bed by 6:45 Friday night and fell asleep quickly. I ended up sleeping for 16 solid hours-straight through the alarms I had set. But when I woke up yesterday, I didn't feel like myself. My body ached, I had the chills, and my throat was all scratchy and uncomfortable. I took it easy and watched some mindless TV. I also checked the handful of papers some students sent me (I have essays due in 3 of my 5 classes next week. I did not plan that well for grading purposes). The rest of the night was spent with some books.

This morning I am still feeling slightly like death. I have some things to do-like laundry at my parents', but I am not feeling up for it. I just want to lay in bed all day and sleep/read. But if I want clothes to wear to school tomorrow, I suppose I should get to it, huh?

Needless to say, I got little reading and blogging done this week. I tried to spend some time yesterday commenting and reading, but I don't think I got very far. Oh well, it happens.

I am hoping for much better things this week, and progress to be made in my readalong titles. I have yet to crack any of them open, so it might be time to get that done.

Anyway, I have clothes to wash and a few tests left to grade.

Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm a Busy Bee.

Just a quick post before I tumble off to bed to let you know that I am still around.

This week is a tough one. We have been testing our Juniors and giving them the ACT and MME (Michigan Merit Exam). I have spent 8 or 9 hours this week proctoring. While proctoring, I was not allowed to do any of the following:
  • grade papers
  • read
  • work on the computer
  • write
  • drink water or any other beverage
All I was allowed to do was read the instruction manual or walk around to monitor students. It was mind-numbing and a great form of torture. But that also meant that the papers I was collecting really started to pile up.

I also made the mistake of collecting my sophomore students' interactive notebooks (basically their class assignments are done on the right side and for "homework" every night they go home and complete some kind of response on the left side). They were super time consuming to grade and I needed to get them right back to students, so I am currently running on no sleep.

All three of my English classes are working on papers, so drafts and thesis statements and outlines have also found their way home with me every night to "look over."

Needless to say, my brain can't comprehend editing the posts in my draft folder.

This weekend I will get back on track.

Miss you all!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I Read: The February 2011 Edition.

I had a fairly successful month in regards to the number of books I read, but I won't call this month a success. Most of my reading was outside my project list. In addition, I hit a wall with my reading that I have yet to get over. I think my work at school is finally tiring me out to the point that when I come home, reading isn't my first priority. But, I am pushing on and trying to refocus my energy.

I will say that you may see less posts from me if I continue on this crappy reading spree.

Anyway, here are the titles I read this month:
  1. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  2. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  3. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
  5. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (read in school for a class I teach)
  7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (read in school for a class I teach)
  8. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  10. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  11. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  12. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  13. Mariana by Monica Dickens
I should point out that half of War and Peace was read in January for the readalong.

Anyway, how was your month? Do you have big goals for the upcoming month?