ร€ la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: The O-G CSI. I started back at the very, very beginning. HA. It’s wild how many episodes I’ve randomly seen surrounded by others I don’t remember at all. The joy of rewatching an old show like this is the constant popping up in the extras–people who are NOW famous who often were no one then. Oh wait–Voodoo Tatum! OMG a young Blake Lively! Oh look it’s the grandpa from Everwood. I mean, you always know that person is going to be either the killer or the victim. Also I am SO EXCITED to be back in movie theaters and last week I saw the quite odd, definitely disturbing, yet oddly compelling The Card Collector.

Reading: I am really burning through books these days now that I’m back on the bus AND modeling 15 minutes of silent reading for my students in three different classes. I’m up to 104 for the year, already past my annual goal. Some recent hits (linking to my Goodreads reviews) are Ladyparts, The Second Rebel and The Women of Troy. I’m also WAY back into poetry right now.

Listening to: I was listening to tunes every morning on the bus, but my latest refurbished iPod decided to die so I’ve been bereft for about a week. However, until that point I was REALLY into the new Big Red Machine, an EP by a band called Pronoun, the latest Liz Phair, lots of singles/EP releases from Yoke Lore, and I am also currently, bizarrely obsessed with the song “If I drink this beer” by Will Chase (as Luke Wheeler on Nashville, which I rewatched all of in July/August).

Writing: Lesson plans. Wasting time spelling out the 97 steps I already know how to do to teach what I need to teach. What a waste of veteran teacher time. I will admit, I think they should be required of new teachers. Lesson plans were very helpful to me the first few years, especially if I needed ideas to fill extra time (paralyzing!), or really know what I was going to teach. And if you had a mentor teacher, they gave you a base to start from. You could use them for reflection: what worked, what didn’t, Now I already know how to do all of that and it’s so stupid to have to write them out, especially when it’s become very clear that NO ONE is actually reading them.etc.

Cooking / Eating: Mid-school year, the cooking gets to be such a drag. I do it every weekend so that I keep adding to the options for my lunches, rotating through the freezer, but it’s so much more drudgery than it feels during the summer! Here’s a couple yummy recipes I added to the rotation in 2021. Also I have become OBSESSED with Magic Spoon cereal. I have all the but the newest flavors. My favorites are: 1) Fruity; 2) Frosty; 3) Cinnamon; 4) a tie between Blueberry and Strawberry; 5) Cookies & Cream. I did not like the peanut butter which kinda bummed me out but OH WELL I will just eat peanut butter on toast. Heh.

Drinking: I’ve gotten really into V-8 over the past week. Huh.

Sewing: New masks. I have a few other things cut out but I haven’t gotten to them.

Quilting: Thinking about it, but not doing it.

Knitting: Ditto.

What’re YOU up to? ๐Ÿ™‚

ร€ la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: Every old episode of NCIS–ha! I started at season 1 at some point in December and now I’m up to season 11. I’ve got to say the post-Ziva episodes are…not great. But I had forgotten about Ellie Bishop and I really like her, so we’ll see.

Reading: I am in my usual “attempt to read every book that will be in the Tournament of Books in March” flurry of January reading. I had already read “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” by Kawaii Strong Washburn (LOVED IT! Mythic) and “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi (didn’t love it, recommend her previous book “Homegoing”!). I have now also read “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride (so good! lots of slapstick while still going super deep) and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (fabulous). I started “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Barry last night. It’s entertaining but a little uneven.

Listening to: I am re-listening to every single piece of music I bought in 2020 because I KNOW you are eagerly anticipating a report back on my favorite albums. I think I’m in March right now because I keep getting distracted. But it’s on my list to finish up this week!

Writing: Lesson plans. 2021 intentions poems. Not much really. ๐Ÿ™‚ Heh.

Eating: I’m still cooking at TON from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks (Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for More). I like the second book better, partly because I got it first, and partly because of the font/layout (HA!, seriously). This weekend I made Jok Moo already and am whipping up some scalloped potatoes in a bit.

Drinking: Lots of bubbly water, which means…at least I am finally drinking water?* I still don’t love it but I probably drank 8x as much liquid in 2020 as in any year previously. Mostly I’m drinking mini-Cokes to help with my tummy which is in a bit of disarray. *For those who are unaware, I detest the taste of water. And yes, it has a taste.

Knitting: I just redove into a sweater that I started in January of 2018 (Lemongrass by Jojo Locatelli) using some Rowan Magpie yarn. Maybe 2021 will be the year I finish it! ๐Ÿ™‚ The back and front are both done and it’s time to start the sleeves.

Quilting: I made a mini quilt for my mom’s bday, and I am finishing the binding on four mini-friendship log-cabin quilts for Secret Club. Feeling kinda productive quilt wise, frankly, since I also made six placemats (very mini quilts) for a friend in December!!

Sewing: I have the fabric ready to be cut out for three more Farrow dresses. But I want to finish up my quilts in progress first!

Focusing on: Trying not to freak out too much about how my job is planning to force us back to F2F teaching before we can get the virus… Trying not to focus on my impending death by coronavirus contraction via public transit as I have a 45-minute bus ride each way… TRYING.

There’s a lot going on around here, despite not leaving the house for 11 months at this point and being very miserably alone for 99.9% of the pandemic. What’s up with you????

“The Lager Queen of Minnesota” by J. Ryan Stradal

First finish of 2020 for me! This book was pretty fantastic. The majority of the book is about two people obsessed with making beer—one because she loves (LOVES) it from her very first taste of it and the other because she loves chemistry and she’s got to prove herself to be interesting—and the person they’re both related to that a lot of the plot revolves around. I will say that it was a good thing it was written with alternating perspectives though, because if it had all been from Edith’s POV (as the first chapter was), I probably wouldn’t have finished it. There was just a *wee* bit too much “hey this about Minnesotans, are Minnesotans so charming” setup in that first section for me… but perhaps that’s the curse of actually having lived a large part of your life AS a Minnesotan. HA. I loved Helen, I loved Diana (and her evolution). And man, I would still probably love to work in a brewery. Maybe that’s my next career. My beers, I will warn you, will be high on sweetness and low on hops. Cheers, y’all.

ร€ la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: I just finished a rewatch/watch of One Tree Hill (I had only seen some of the first few seasons) and now I’m rewatching Firefly, which as you may know will hardly take any time at all. ๐Ÿ™ I can’t figure out what I’ll watch next!

Reading: I’m about a third of the way through “Theft” by Peter Carey, which is definitely fun so far. I read quite a bit of Peter Carey back (BACK) in the day.

Listening to: Completely bingeing on Maggie Rogersย “Heardย Itย inย aย Pastย Life”, but also really obsessed with J.S. Ondara‘s “Tales of America.” It’s so good!

Writing: Sexy daydream poems on the bus, in the duplex form created by Jericho Brown (whose poems I’m obsessed with!).

Eating: Suddenly finding myself in sammy mode, I’ve been making nice big fat ones with ham, turkey, provolone, pickle slabs, roasted red peppers, giardinera, tomato, spinach and a little mayo. Oh yum they’re so good.

Drinking: So much lemonade I think it might be giving me acid reflux. Ha!

Knitting: Ah, nope. ๐Ÿ™

Quilting: Also nope.

Sewing: Just made another tunic! And two more cut out. Let’s keep that momentum going…

Focusing on: Not spending any unnecessary money. Not bringing work home. Not staying at work beyond the hours I get paid for.

What’s up with you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Words I Had to Look Up While Reading This Fabulous Novel.

Go read this: “The Angel of History” by Rabih Alameddine. (Here’s a review if you want a synopsis.) My dad introduced me to this author last year (with his novel “An Unnecessary Woman”) and then I just happened across this new(er) novel in the library on Saturday. It was So!GOOD! And so literate and compelling.

  • caisson = a large watertight chamber; a chest or wagon
  • chelonian = basically turtle-esque
  • jellabiya = traditional Egyptian garment
  • dithyrambic = a frenzied impassioned hymn and dance; an irregular poetic expression; a wildly enthusiastic speech or piece of writing
  • rachitic = rickety; like having a inflammed spine
  • recrudescent = revival of material; recurrence of symptoms; renewal
  • inanition = exhaustion; lack of mental or spiritual vigor
  • cephalore = a saint who is generally depicted carrying their own head

Cephalore was my favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚ Inanition I do feel like I should have already known, heh.

I was also really proud of myself for picking up on random literary/musical references:

  • “I couldn’t write, I couldn’t write, stop all the clocks, poetry has gone and left me…” (W.H. Auden reference, a poem I JUST taught my students!).
  • “Hope might be the thing with feathers but in the Middle East we hunt those birds for sport. (Dickinson)
  • “I sound like a Miles Davis trumpet, like a Bach partita, no, wait, a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, whereas you’re a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop, but baby, if you’re the bottom, I’m the top.” (Cole Porter)
  • “Do you understand me now, Satan said, when things go wrong I seem to be bad, I”m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” (Nina Simone, et al.)

(I’m sure there were more I didn’t notice!!)

ร€ la Super Eggplant, currently in March, I amwas…

Hey, here’s a post I drafted March 31 and never finished… Enjoy! HA!

Watching: In February, I watched (some re-, some fresh) all of Revenge. I figured out that I had only seen about 2.5 seasons originally. It got a little ridiculous (as those kind of shows do, especially once they start killing off characters) but I’ve been an Emily Van Camp fan since Everwood so I still enjoyed it. Now I’m rewatching White Collar. I mean you’ve got to find something to watch when all the current season shows go on what seems like the world’s most extended holiday break. I’m still loving Brooklyn 99 but, about to share an unpopular opinion warning, I hate (HATE! HATE!) the Doug Judy episodes so every time I see one, I have to take a few weeks break from that show! Chicago Fire has been pretty intense the past few weeks.

Reading: Since I last updated you (and the tournament began), I read another Rooster book “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It was a lot of fun… but it still really surprised me that it wound up winning the whole thing. It was definitely unique, but the characters were all a little flat–no one ever looked at things from more than one side, and the lack of true astonishment over the happenings within was a bit amazing. I guess for Korede this has been going on long enough since before the book started, that any feelings she may have had like that are already gone. I also read a really good middle-grade novel about the war in Iraq (“Sunrise Over Fallujah” by Walter Dean Myers), a good horror book for bookclub that I then forgot to go to (“Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson), a silly but sweet middle grades graphic novel (“Ghostopolis” by Doug TenNapel) and a stand-alone Laurie King novel “Lockdown” passed on by my mom. It had a LOT of interlocking threads but I thought it was really good and not as sick or nasty as some of her stand-alone books are (you may know her from her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series). I’m currently reading book 3 of Sabaa Tahir’s “Ember in the Ashes” series “A Reaper at the Gates”. It’s been out for a while so I’m not totally sure what’s taken me so long to get to it. I am not loving it as much as I loved books 1 and 2, though. I’m not sure if it’s due to distance in time, or Elias and Laia’s changed roles or what. It feels a tiny bit flat.

Final Rooster Update!

The Tournament goes live tomorrow with the Pre-Tournament Play-In Match which unfortunately is two books I LOVED and one book I liked and damn it, at least two books I liked are therefore getting knock out on the first day!!! The unfortunate luck of the brackets.

SO: I read 11 of the 18 books (15 in brackets + 3 play-in). I read the wrong book by one author, didn’t finish one book due to both boredom and its library due date (#12), and am in the middle of my 13th. So although I didn’t make my goal of reading ALL of them, I feel pretty thrilled with how close I came! ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s what I finished since my last post:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner — it was a super easy, quick read. But I didn’t really like it. I think I just don’t jibe with this author since I didn’t like the last book of hers I tried to read either.

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi — This was a long complicated read full of lots of philosophical ideas about heritage and literature and how we carry our world within us. And so much of it was really interesting and so much of it was whacked out weird. I finished it, but it did become a slog as the book went on. Neat ideas but I didn’t love it.

So Lucky by Nicolas Griffith — you may remember I am a huge (HUGE) fan of Griffith’s viking historical novel “Hild.” This is an entirely different thing: a contemporary novel with a bit of a mystery. I didn’t outright love it, and there was a sort of side- or sub-plot to the mystery that ultimately proves wrong and felt very distracting. But there was a lot to like here and a lot of things I’ve definitely never read in a novel before. Also so nicely coincidental to have just read this and learn of Selma Blair’s diagnosis. I do feel this book gives a strong picture of being inside a body being attacked by MS. Definitely worth reading.

I did not finish:

The Overstory by Richard Powers — a novel about people and, in some ways, a specific type of tree. Each chapter introduced a new character and some sort of family or disaster relationship to a tree. Presumably at some point the characters will interact? But some of the chapters were long and quite uneventful / not that interesting, and it’s due back at the library tomorrow, and I’m just not that bothered by not finishing it. It’s been NOT compelling enough that I didn’t even have it with me on my commutes this weekend, so… that says it all.

And I am currently reading:

There There by Tommy Orange — which is not at all what I expected and pretty good so far. Although it annoys the FRAK out of me that the GoodReads search engine is incapable of finding this book by searching for its title!!! (I thought maybe it was just a mobile / phone problem but I just tried on the desktop and nope!)

I’ve still got the three other books I didn’t get to on hold at the library so I’ll read them when they come in–although my stupid library branch by me is closing FOR A YEAR and it’s going to be SO NOT ON MY WAY ANYWHERE to go to these other branches to pick up and return books and I am Officially. Annoyed. OK, bye for now.

Rooster Update #5

As of this morning, I have officially read EIGHT of the TOB’s sixteen books–halfway there! Actually I thought I read nine books, but I guess I was too overeager on my aforementioned bus trip all the way across town, and while at that new-to-me library I checked out the wrong book by one author! Oops!

I loved The Golden State, by Lydia Kiesling–the story of a melancholy, lonely woman who just removes herself from her normal life and takes off for the hinterlands, so to speak. It was a short but frenetically paced book, and there were many moments where I thought it was going to go incredibly bad… (which was sometimes the case, but sometimes not). There was a well-drawn out sense of foreboding.

I also really liked America Is Not the Heart, by Elaine Castillo, in many ways a completely opposite style of novel. While both books told stories about family, this book was long (400 pages), slowly paced, with the secrets and twists and turns that connected these people revealed across many chapters. A story of immigrants, and revolutionaries, of different kinds of belief, of the power of food to bring people together. There was romance and deep friendship. The author threw in two chapters written in second person POV, so rare in narrative fiction, and although the book stuck with single perspectives for long periods of time, I really felt like I was let deep inside so many of the characters. In this book, no one’s lonely unless they want to be.

This morning I started The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner. We’ll see… I put down one of her books unfinished a few years ago so she might not be my thing.

I’ve got two more books checked out, four pending (on hold), and one sent to me by a friend. And as I may have mentioned, there’s one book I’m definitely not even going to pretend to read. Also I might let go the book where I checked out (and then spent valuable reading time on!) the wrong one. I mean, I got a good look at that author’s style so if I don’t get around to reading that one, I’ll feel OK judging based on style, ha. So can I finish five more books before March? We’ll see.

Rooster Update #4

How seriously am I taking my personal challenge to read all the Rooster books before the tournament starts? Well, I took two buses an hour one way to a library branch that’s nowhere near either my home or either of my jobs in order to pick up three of the books! It was supposed to be four but apparently someone checked out the fourth right before I got there GAAHH!!! Yes, I could have put them on hold to have them circulated closer to me… but here’s the thing: I already have five of the most widely known titles on my library hold list (I’m 77th of 85th, or 89th of 101, etc. on each) and if I drop one of them off the hold list just to bring books that are available to my closer library branch, then I would fall even further down the hold list on those high in demand ones!

Anyway, not only did I spend two hours commuting to pick up my three next Rooster reads, I’m pretty much doing Rooster reading only–I’ve entirely dropped off my mornings: YA / evenings: adult reading plan I told you about until these are all read! (Except for on a rare day when I’ve finished what I have and haven’t picked up the next one yet…)

In the meantime, I’ve finished two more Rooster reads:

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman — wow, what a bittersweet melancholy book. Spending your whole life trying to get your dad to notice you is not going to lend itself to joy and bliss, but there was a lot of humor in this book and the self disparagement was aces! ๐Ÿ™‚ As I have found with certain other books about painters (Siri Hustvedt’s “What I Loved” springs to mind), the art really came alive off these pages.

Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan — a novel detailing the events of a slave’s life is obviously going to have its harsh, hard to read parts. This book is just all about what defines your identity, what makes a family, how important are one’s own dreams, how far should one go… It was desperately sad in places, extremely sweet in others. And lots of fun for those of you who like lots of science in their fiction. ๐Ÿ™‚

I liked both of these a lot. I’ve started my next Rooster read though and I’m not sure it’s really up my alley… We’ll see, I’m only about 100 pages in.

ร€ la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: All I’ve watched in the past week or so are the latest episodes of Blackish and New Amsterdam, and some NUMB3RS episodes from beloved season 1. Oh, and Yoga with Adrienne, as I’m doing her annual January challenge. I’ve only missed 3 days!

Reading: I finished another Rooster book and a YA sci fi novel (scroll back to previous posts or click on the “reading” category to see some comments) and tomorrow I get to start a new book, woo hoo. I believe it will be “The Italian Teacher” by Tom Rachmann which was the next thing on the Rooster list that I could grab at my library branch this weekend.

Listening to: hmmmm, I really haven’t done that much listening over the past couple of weeks. But I am obsessed with Rosalia and her videos. A mix of hip-hop sensibility and operatic emotion–so intriguing!

Eating: I made an old-favorite chicken tikka masala in the slow cooker (added in okra that had been cooked with onions and some spices) and a caufilower-sausage casserole in the oven (a new recipe), and sour cream chili bake from Cinnamon’s cookbook, so basically anything hot and heavy with tomatoes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Drinking: So! Much! Water! Yup, I still hate it.

Knitting: Haven’t done any in at least a week. Boo, hiss.

Quilting: Still nothing.

Sewing: Keep meaning to cut out a few things. Keep not doing it. At least with the Monday holiday, I’ll actually have a two-day weekend. Big plans, people, big plans!!

Focusing on: Not spending any money (I’m seriously tracking my no-spend days!), coming home from work RIGHT AWAY, and doing actual random adult things when I get home. No schoolwork on unpaid hours in 2019! Of course that’ll never happen–even our weekly lesson planning is on unpaid hours since we do it after school–but I’m trying to come out a bit better on my life-work balance this year as us old ladies just can’t hang with the insane work weeks.

What’s up with you? ๐Ÿ™‚