It’s Monday and I have been behind for over a week

January 16, 2023

I’m blaming both the fact that my flight home last Thursday (Jan. 5) was delayed and that my stupid job had our stupid FLEX (professional development) day on January 6. (Can you tell I’m still salty about it?) Ever since I have worked at this school–this is my sixth year–the FLEX day has been in March, after school has already started. March! So when I made my travel plans, it didn’t even register that they had moved it, and I didn’t even realize it was the Friday BEFORE the semester began until the last week of class when they sent out the registration link. I have been teaching a very long time, and I would never (never) book a flight that got in the night before I had to be at work first thing in the morning. UGH.

Anyway, I missed the first session of the day because I was too exhausted to get up, the guy leading the second session went over FIFTEEN MINUTES into LUNCH TIME (like, sir, are you kidding me? I had to raise my hand and let him know because he was gearing up to keep going. I seriously do not believe he would have stopped if I hadn’t called him on it) and then had the absolute audacity to say he was going to start the second session “promptly at 1.” That barely gave us enough time to collect and eat our lunch, so I was late getting back because, of course, I had to use the restroom. Then he went over the end of the session which made me late for the next one. The only reason I didn’t just up and leave both times is that he was doing the EEO (equal employment opportunity) hiring training, so I figured whatever he was saying was important.

I spent all day Sunday rushing to get my classes planned and published (the goal was for the first two weeks for all of them to be up and running in the learning managing system). I was on time to my first class on Monday but the door was locked, and I thought I didn’t have my key (I did) so got started late. The same thing happened on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I got to therapy early but the parking garage was weirdly full so getting parking was a challenge so I wound up being late for that. I then had to rush to get to my class because of the travel time between the therapist’s office and my home and lunch and work. Thursday was fine, but I found out I had to go into work on Saturday (SATURDAY, sigh) for a job fair because I’m on the hiring committee (see above re: EEO training). I was on time to that, but late to church yesterday, so, basically, you know, who has two thumbs and needs a three-day weekend?


Anyway, here’s what I read since my last post:

The Ghosts of Ashbury HighThe Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listen, we all know I love Jaclyn Moriarty and her penchant for whimsy. Plus, is there a better epistolary novelist out there right now? One who consistently mixes the types of epistles (documents, not strictly letters) throughout one novel? Probably not.

I think what Moriarty gets at so well in this particular novel is how dramatic teenagers are, you know, as a species (that’s not a complaint). To wit, one character writes, “So, I was very busy that week. I had to have a series of mood swings because of my exam results.” Anyway, this book deals with rumors and specifically how they can get started based on appearance. The epistles are mostly students’ exam answers with a couple of blog posts and PTA minutes thrown in. I found it interesting that we didn’t hear much from the subjects of the students’ obsessions, namely classmates Amelia and Riley.

While Moriarty always deals with pretty serious subject matter (alcoholism, abandonment, etc), I did find that this one took a slightly sadder turn than most of her other books. Still, it never became maudlin and she balances it out with a lot of humor. Emily might be a new favorite character, honestly.

Also, I loved that the book ended with a reminder that the British Empire was evil.

Some quotes:

Students love Mr. Garcia so they’re always trying to make him quit smoking, for the sake of his longevity. Other teachers are welcome to smoke.

Their reactions were predictable. They are kind friends, but they can laugh hard.

She’s a blogger…I clicked on her name–but her blog can only be accessed by the blogger (her). Which, I mean, go figure. What’s the point? Keep a diary already.

I hate being cold. It hurts my feelings.

I was thinking about taking it up with the teacher–he was talking about irrelevant things so it was a good time to interrupt.

It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I did, I was hooked.

4.5 stars, rounding down just because the beginning was a little hard to get into.

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Scattered ShowersScattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this collection of stories because it was mainly about prickly girls finding love and finding out they’re worthy of being loved.

Midnights – This was cute and sweet, about a girl and her best boy friend spending New Year’s Eve together from their first meeting in high school up to their first college break. – 4 stars

Kindred Spirits – Star Wars nerds hang out in line, (eventually) make friends with each other. – 3 stars

Winter Songs for Summer – This was probably my favorite story in the whole book. A girl has broken up with boyfriend and her constant repeat of a break up song bugs her downstairs neighbor so much that he makes her a mix CD of break up songs, which leads to them getting to know each other. – 5 stars

The Snow Ball – Listen, I love a story about an abrasive girl, but I had a hard time understanding why Owen was friends with Libby based on their exchange here. So this one was kind of a miss for me. – 2 stars

If the Fates Allow – A love story for these here COVID times. I liked it. – 4 stars

The Prince and the Troll – This was told in the style of a folk narrative or allegory, and I liked the ultimate message of this one even if it did take a minute to get used to the fact that it was a different genre than the others – 4 stars

Mixed Messages – I read the ebook version of this but I had to request a paper copy from my library because it was impossible to read this particular story on my Kindle or even in the Kindle app. Which…I just don’t even have the words for how angry that makes me. Anyway, this was a nice conversation with friends about aging, but I ultimately found the ending unsatisfying. – 3 stars

Snow for Christmas – I didn’t care about Simon Snow when it was fanfiction in Fangirl, and I still don’t . Still, I read the story and it was cute and fine, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I cared at all about that particular series. – 3 stars

In Waiting – The final book in the collection, this one is about a character waiting for her story to start. I love meta-narratives, so I was very into this and, again, I just loved the overall message. – 5 stars

Some quotes:

When other girls complained about how to deal with unwanted male attention, Elena wouldn’t feel jealous exactly, but she would feel curious–how does one go about attracting such attention?

True love wasn’t guaranteed. No one owed you love. And you couldn’t earn it. You just had to be in the right place for it.

She wasn’t ugly–not really. But she was the sort of girl who really pretty girls liked to hang around with because they wouldn’t be a distraction.

The guys who liked Summer in high school had gotten to know her first. She had plenty of personality.

“You can trust yourself to fall in love.” He pulled her closer. “You can trust me to catch you.”

No one called Reagan for comfort.
No one called Reagan to offer any.
No one ever said, “I’m lonely, could you come by?”–and no one ever came by.

Reagan didn’t let many people into her life–but once she had gone to the effort, she didn’t like to let go of them.

Are you hiding here? From your story?

Who was to say what she’d been meant for? She’d been born too long ago. She’d waited too long with no direction. She’d given most of her memories to herself.

She imagined herself letting go. She imagined herself arriving someplace better than the place where she’d always belonged.

So, you know. I only related a little bit.

Rainbow Rowell is a very skilled writer who was able to make me care about almost all of these characters in a very short amount of time, and her prose is just lovely, always. Highly recommend.

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Have a great week, everyone!

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