Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Look

I have to thank Valerie for my blog's cool new look. Last week, I mentioned that I was bored with the look of my blog and planned to change my template. She said that she had been thinking about changing hers too and would help me do mine. Didn't she do a great job!

Now, I need to find time to write something worthy of this cool new look. ;-) Maybe my visit to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and the MFA will inspire me to write something worth reading. The kiln-glass exhibit at the craft center was very cool. I would never have dreamed that someone could do some of those things with glass. The MFA currently has several interesting exhibits: The Gee's Bend quilts, contemporary Argentine photography, works by Houston artist Bert Long, some works from the Peter Blum Edition archives.

I always return from the museum wishing I was an artist, wishing I could speak to people through art of some kind, wishing I had the time to create, wishing that my creations would be deemed important. Over a year ago, I purchased a set of watercolors, brushes, and paper, but I have yet to paint anything. Last night, I wrote a poem, or started a poem, about a person that I saw in a pub recently. His image haunts me, and I tried to write about it. I have thought often since I saw him that I should paint that scene, but I have yet to even try. As usual, I am not satisfied with what I wrote last night, so it will probably never be seen by anyone.

Enough whining. It's summer vacation! I think I will spend the afternoon doing some pleasure reading before I get back to work on my library science classes. Later.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No eBook Reader for Me

After I saw A Work in Progress post that mentioned the first ever summer reading issue of Oprah's magazine, I had to run out and purchase it. I haven't had a chance yet to read the articles, but I did scan a few of the reading features.

The first page of "the O list," showed a photo of a Librie, a Sony ebook reader, which can hold up to 80 plus ebooks. It costs $300-$400. The caption reads, "This portable reader lends new meaning to the phrase 'book smart.' Download up to 80 of your favorites (hundreds more with a memory card), and say goodbye to heavy lifting forever." I am usually very smitten by new technology, but I have to admit that I have no desire for an ebook reader. I was reminded of a conversation that I had with Valerie a while back. I think the conversation concerned the possibility of selling some books to Half-Priced Books, which I have done a few times.

I remember that I made some remark about how I like to own books rather than borrow them. I really feel like once I have lived a book that it becomes a part of me. If I sell it or return it to library/friend, I lose part of myself. I know it's silly because I still have the memory of the experience, but I feel a bit mournful when I have to give up a book. I feel like I am returning a lost pet to it's rightful owner. I have taken care of that animal and shared experiences with it for a short time. I know returning it is the right thing to do, but I still want to make the pet mine. I really don't like this metaphor, but it's the best I could do while I was waiting on my online class to re-load so I could finish something before I went to bed.

Oh well. It's rather late, and I have textbook chapters to read before I sleep. Too bad I won't be reading chapters for pleasure tonight. :-(

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Perfect Weather

This post has to be quick. I have soooooo much work to do today. I am going to spend my day reading, and it is the perfect weather for me to do that. It's a dark and rainy day. Too bad I have to spend it reading for my courses. I would much rather spend it reading for pleasure. I am listening to classical music via my digital cable provider, and classical music would be the perfect background music for reading Sophie's Choice. However, I have to get caught up and ahead on my class work since I have to do real work on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

I wish I had been able to find a new job, so I could have neglected the curriculum writing on Tuesday and the workshop teaching on Thursday, but apparently no one in HISD believes that I am the right teacher for their high school. I'm not going to even mention the 16 jobs that I applied for or the fact that I got only 2 interviews, because I will just depress myself further and not get the work done that I need to do.

It just started raining harder, so I'm going to start reading now. Maybe I'll post something interesting soon.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Summer is under way

How's this for luck? Yesterday Valerie (that's her in her rally cap during the 9th inning) and I went to the Astros game and got to sit on the FIRST ROW just past the dugout. We usually sit in the cheap seats, not the cheapest, but cheap, read high. It was very exciting to sit so close to the action Unfortunately, the lineup didn't include all the best players, and the Astros lost. :-( Of course, today they won, 14-4. Losing our Saturday games and winning on Sunday has been the routine for us this season. I think we have only been to one winning game. As much as I love the Astros, they SUCK on Saturdays!

After the game, I came home and worked on assigments for one of my library science courses until midnight. These two classes are going to keep me so busy this summer. I am so glad that I couldn't afford to take a third class.

In addition to taking classes, I am hoping to find a new teaching job, one that doesn't require an hour commute. I have one interview, which I thought went very well, but they didn't call me and offer me the job, so I guess it didn't go as well as I thought. Then I went to the HISD job fair on Friday, and it was a big disorganized mess and waste of time. I have applied for about fifteen jobs on the HISD website, so maybe I will get a job somewhere closer to home. I really don't want to have to drive by myself.

So, despite being at the beginning of summer vacation, I don't think I will have that much time for vacation fun this summer. I will, however, go to some more Astros games (maybe they will win at least one of the ones that I attend), go to some movies (I saw MI3 last week and will blog about it later), and read books (children's lit for my class and adult lit for my pleasure, blogging will follow). If you have nothing better to do, stay tuned and maybe I will say something worth reading.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday Cleaning

Something must be wrong with me. I spent this morning cleaning, first my bedroom, then my bathroom. I really don't like to clean and always procrastinate, especially on cleaning the bathroom. I stayed up until about 2:00a.m. reading a book that I couldn't wait to continue reading this morning. I even woke up early, 7:15, and started reading it again.

Yet, by 8:30, I had finished my first cup of coffee and decided I needed to clean. My messy bedroom was getting on my nerves, and (I think) the book I was reading, The History of Love, was making me sad. So I spent the morning finishing the cleaning that I had been putting off all week. Earlier in the week, I had cleaned the kitchen and living room and straightened up the dining room, which can never be completely free of mail/printer/work stuff--I don't have a study or work space other than my dining room table. But I kept saying I would do the bedroom and bathroom tomorrow, but I never specified which tomorrow. I guess today was the day though.

As I was cleaning, which included dusting, something I rarely do, I became tearful every time I looked at a photo of my mom and/or my dad. I have a family photo from several Christmases ago that my sister-in-law or my niece copied and framed for each of us. I haven't paid much attention to that photo in a while, but today after I dusted it, I sat on the bed and studied it. My dad was completely dressed and standing with no help, smiling his smile. I don't even remember the last time he looked like that.

I had to resume cleaning to keep from lying on the bed and bawling my eyes out. Then I came across some photos of my mom and I in England many years ago. More tears ensued (and they are falling as I write this too). I actually had already decided to procrastinate on the bathroom, but the feelings of sadness seemed to dissipate only when my brain was occupied with cleaning, so I cleaned the bathroom, even the shower walls and tub, something I rarely do. (Sidenote: Recently, I bought some Easy-Off Bam, and it works really well in the bathroom. If you have a hard to clean tub/shower or haven't cleaned in a while, like me, you should try it.)

I never intended to read The History of Love next. I finished both Case Histories and Runaway at the end of last week. As usual when I finish one book, I have a huge stack of to-read books and even more on a list. It usually takes me a day or two to settle on a new book. I thought I was using from Kite Runner, The Curious Incident of the Dog, and The Penelopiad. I even entertained the idea of reading The Penelopiad while I read one of the two novels.

Then I read a comment on a Bookworld post, and I clicked the name of the commenter and was taken to her blog, A Work in Progress. The most recent blog was about her beginning to read Sophie's Choice. I bought Sophie's Choice a while ago, intending to re-read as soon as possible, but I kept reading new reads instead--my copy of SC is 562 pages and as I have said before I am a slow reader, so you can understand why I hesitated.

After reading this blog post, I decided that SC should be my next read. I read the first chapter, 25 pages, and thought I had made the right choice. Then I spied The History of Love, in the stack on my headboard. I picked it up and began to read. I immediately began to feel an affinity for the first narrator, a lonely old man who "[makes] a point of being seen" because "all [he wants] in not to die on a day when [he] went unseen." How poignant! For some reason I am reminded of a quote from 1984, a quote that I describe as beautifully depressing: "He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear." Being invisible must be the saddest thing a person can experience.

So I stayed up late last night reading, thinking that I would stop at the end of the next section and go back to Sophie's Choice, but I haven't yet. Now, I have a clean apartment and can get back to reading The History of Love. Hopefully, my sadness has been cleansed from my psyche for today, and only pleasure will accompany further reading.