I’m hoping to come out of an unofficial hiatus that inadvertently started a little while ago. As October drew to a close, I realized things were very quickly getting out of hand. I found myself coming down with strep and during that time, I don’t think I was able to cross anything off my to do list. And so that list grew and grew and now it is a bit of a beast. I have several reviews to catch up on and a boat load of writing tasks I both want to and need to complete. Oh and then there are those stacks of papers waiting to be graded. And the lesson plans waiting to be written. School is entering into that hectic time when everyone feels the stress to try and finish as strong as possible. All of those things that I had been putting off suddenly matter in a whole new light. Catching up really matters right now!
The biggest task of all? November is National Novel Writing Month. Back when I was planning out my happiness project I made a goal to make November the month to focus on my creative endeavors. I wanted to spend a month fostering good habits that help me garner all my creative energies and use those energies toward a product that I can be proud of. I’ve dabbled in Nanowrimo before but never got very far with it. I hoped that by making it a part of my happiness project I might be able to finally nail down some of that discipline necessary to truly live a more creative life.
So far I am not off to a good start. Day 1 was a rough start and I neglected to write on days 2 or 3 due to some pretty hectic (but fun!) weekend plans–more on that later in the week. I’m hunkering down on the couch while Brian works on beating Assassin’s Creed IV. I am starting to feel the story really and truly take shape in my mind. We’ll see how that translates into words on a page. I have some outlining and planning to do for sure but right now, I’m just trying to get exposition details on the page while they are still flittering around in my mind.
My month of writing recklessly is under way. I’m going to hopefully document some of my successes and failures on here as I write. I’ve never been the best at multitasking but maybe this month things will truly start to fall into place. So you can expect some posting from me again. It might not be as regular as I would like, but it will be something. Your encouragement is always appreciated. I’ll try my best to return the favor especially if you are participating in Nanowrimo this year too!
Are superheroes born or made? Are they science experiments gone wrong? Are they genetic mutations, freaks of nature? Are super powers a gift or a curse? Do superheroes really exist out there? Why do we continue to hope and believe in something that refuses to make any sense?
People to be inexplicably drawn to superheroes. The idea that one person can harness some sort of special power tantalizes our imaginations. From comic books to movies to television shows, we are drawn to this idea of celebrating the heroic feats of the extraordinary. I am guilty of falling prey to this phenomenon. I enjoy a good super hero flick and have been eagerly gobbling up the new Agents of SHIELD TV series (a spin off of Marvel’s Avengers franchise). I’m super excited about the upcoming release of Thor too.
Unfortunately, many superhero stories lack a strong female presence. Women are notorious for being the damsel in distress or the cunning, evil temptress. Women are rarely celebrated as superheroes themselves. And that is why the premise of Super Born: Seduction of Being by Keith Kornell caught my eye. I don’t take many ARCs for review but this premise intrigued me even though it is not necessarily in line with what I normally read.
Here’s a short synopsis from the book jacket:
Super Born: Seduction of Being follows a single mom in Scranton, PA, who suddenly develops superpowers and the journalist who discovers her heroic, high-flying antics. Follow her as she struggles to balance her superpowers with her duties as a single mom, questions morally and ethically the immensity of her new found skills, an wrestles with whether or not to keep them a secret from her daughter. All while dealing with those who want to abuse her powers!
Clearly this book has a lot going on. Although intriguing, the book wasn’t completely my cup of tea. The writing is rough and gritty: a lot more crude than I expected. Now don’t get me wrong, I read Atwood books so nitty gritty language and graphic details doesn’t always bother me. I just didn’t feel it was necessary in this book. The plot is also a bit more sci fi than I expected. I keep trying to dip my toes in the sci fi pool but I don’t typically enjoy it as much as others do. I guess part of the disconnect for me is I was thinking more philosophically about superheroes when I accepted the book and I discovered more of an action, science fiction, fantasy blend. If these genres and the thought of a female superhero lead sound interesting to you, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this book. The mis just started to feel odd to me after I got 50ish pages in.
Still the book did resonate me. I was especially enjoying reading about the struggles Allie faced in trying to find balance. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I struggle with finding balance in my own life. And as I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare Allie’s life to my own. I couldn’t help but begin to compare my life with other women that I work. And I was astounded to realize that I work with a lot of mothers and they manage to somehow balance the craziness so effortlessly (or at least they do any amazing job of making it look effortless!). So all the moms out there who manage to balance everything that you do, I honestly have so much genuine respect and admiration for you! I hope to be you one day. You are my superheroes!
Life in General: I lost my focus. I procrastinated. I threw my writing on the back burner while I frantically graded and planned for school. When the school year started, I told myself I would figure out a way to balance everything I had to do for work with everything I wanted to do as a writer and a reader. My goal was to find that sweet spot of balancing my career ambitions with my passions for art with my life. I haven’t been doing all of that too well lately.
Still, I have been making progress toward my goals. I have been feeling more happiness in my life. I have been making time for celebration and fun. I attended a wedding last weekend which has definitely given me a bit of wedding fever, but I don’t have any engagement news to share. The boyfriend is doing well though. He is still on the job hunt and we have been enjoying our condo. It truly feels more and more like our home every day. I find myself eager to come home and have a nice dinner every evening after work. Despite my lofty ambitions for a better balanced life, I have been doing pretty well for myself lately.
My apologies for my prolonged absences here. I am always planning ways to make a big comeback, but I recognize that this is not necessary. I write when I can. I accept my progress for the progress that it is. I cannot dwell on the number of missed days or the posts I didn’t get around to writing. Instead, I continue to stockpile. I jot down my ideas and I work toward crafting posts that capture the truths I am learning. Because every day I am continuing to learn.
Fitness: Just as writing has eluded me, my strict fitness schedule has also eluded me quite a bit. Making the time to schedule work outs has been a bit of a scheduling nightmare. Still, I haven’t completely given up on working out. I’ve managed to stick to yoga which is helping me find some calm and focus in the middle of my hectic weeks. I also just bought a FitBit Fitness Band and am looking forward to finding some friends to challenge. Let me know if you’re interested in teaming up to get some serious walking done!
Music: I’ve been bumping Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Part 2 along with Lorde’s Pure Heroine. I have become obsessed with the genius that is Lorde so if you haven’t heard of her, you should go take a listen now.
Reading: I’m working on finishing a book for review called Super Born by Keith Kornell. I fell a bit behind on that one. I have a couple more books fore review in my queue right now. I’m struggling with reading though because I have so much grading and reading to prep for class. I’m in the midst of teaching The Crucible so I’m re-reading that right now. I find I’m enjoying it a lot more now that I’m reading it for the second time. So I’m thinking that I might review the play again this year.
All in all, life is busy but still pretty darn good. I have decided that even though I feel like I’m dying when I’m swamped with work, I also somehow thrive when I’m drowning. Maybe this is just a truth I need to learn to accept and embrace about myself as I forge forward into whatever lies ahead.
I have big plans to catch up with all of you my lovely readers. You continue to inspire me.
I’ve avoided reading anything by Joid Picoult for quite a long time. She’s widely read and I know a lot of people gobble up her book like candy. But usually when I hear about an author gaining huge acclaim for being able to worm her way into people’s hearts, I get a bit weary. I guess the teenage rebel in me still feels like she can’t like anything that goes too main stream. Even more, I’ve heard a lot of critiques of Picoult’s work being too “formulaic.” I don’t know how much truth this claim has, but I don’t like the idea of authors developing a formula to guide their writing.
But then My Sister’s Keeper was chosen as one of the summer reading picks and so I didn’t really have a choice. I had to read it. And I’m going to say that it wasn’t quite what I expected. I knew the gist of the story line from seeing commercials for the movie adaptation that starred Cameron Diaz. For those of you who don’t know anything about the book, here’s a fabulous summary from Goodreads:
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
This book started off my summer. Right after I graded the last final, I got sick. And I spent about a week in bed trying to recuperate. I went through the motions of napping, watching episodes of Mad Men, and reading this book. And all of these activities had me absolutely captivated. There were definite times during the novel when I couldn’t put my iPad down. I had to keep reading. I needed to know what was going to happen next. I loved the whirlwind of emotions and sympathies that this novel created in me. I found myself confused because I couldn’t really decide who to actually root for because everyone was so right and wrong at the same time.
But I think that I have to say after finishing the novel that Anna emerged as the definite star for me. She isn’t perfect. She’s so young and naive. She doesn’t really know what she wants. But that is why I found myself sympathizing with her the most. No one in the novel really had anything figured out. But they all were running around acting like they did. Anna acknowledged that she didn’t and so she had the greatest chance of actually figuring anything out.
All in all, I would actually recognize this book because it asks people to closely examine their ideas about what it means to be a sister, a mother, a person. This book asks us all to look inside and think about who we are in the world and who we want to be in the world. I would say that this would definitely make a great book club books as there are a lot of very serious issues that can be discussed in depth. Even more, the multiple narrators ensure that there is a little something for everyone.
I don’t know if this book necessarily made me a huge Jodi Picoult fan but I did really enjoy the story. In so many ways it was haunting and has stayed with me. The ending through me for a complete loop and had me weeping. Still, I enjoyed the tears because even though I didn’t LOVE the ending, I understand the ending. And I found that many of my students also enjoyed the novel. I’m not sure it necessarily fits into the American Literature curriculum as smoothly as I had hoped our summer reading choice might, but it did seem to actually reel in a lot of students who were pretty eager to talk about the book. And ultimately, I just want to share the gift of reading and start interesting conversations about topics that matter to my students so I’d say that this book was a success in this department.
Have you read this book? Did you love it or hate it? Are you a Jodi Picoult fan? If so, what is your favorite novel of hers? I’m always open to hearing your thoughts and recommendations, dear readers.