Tag Archives: why not

Happy 100th Post!


To me.

this is a copy of a drawing my friend misha made that he claimed represented my soul

this is a copy of a drawing my friend misha made that he claimed represented my soul

A few notes on what I’m reading lately:

Since I got laid off, I’ve been going through the some of the stages of grief- anger, denial, bargaining, depression- and am working up to acceptance. I’ve been numbing the pain with job applications, coffee, and a ton of books.

In brief, I loved re-reading a bunch of books I unpacked from my classroom. I finally started Pillars of the Earth, then dropped it in favor of a Sarah Dessen novel a good friend loaned me. I’m still working my way through the Isabel Dalhousie books, but am less enthused now that she’s (*SPOILER*) with her love interest. I’m almost done with Elder Leonid, and am still working my way slooooowly through Everyday Saints.

I’ve been depressed about politics, I’ve been finding new things to do in the city, and I’ve been seriously contemplating a move (looking at apartments next week!). I’ve also been working on a new blog that has nothing whatsoever to do with books, and I’ll tell you about it when it’s ready. Much more excitingly, I’m going to choir school in a week.

I just came across this list of top books for people in their twenties.  I couldn’t bring myself to read Into the Wild, and some of the others look a little too self-helpy for my taste, but my twenties are a-wasting. What do you think?

Happy Friday, y’all.


Change of Pace- Novel Writing


1984 opened last night, and at least our first night was a success. I often compare theater to music- it’s meant to be heard, it’s all about the tension, harmonies, and well placed silences. I spent a lot of the performance curled up in the fetal position, listening. Very few gaps. I’ll call it a win.

Now, in the morning after, I face my next big challenge- 30,000 words in the next fourteen days.

Yup, you read me right. 30,000.

I knew that 50,000 was going to be too much, but it’s important to me to push myself somewhat. Besides, remember my New Year’s goals? (Be Brave and Write More!) The teacher side of me is telling me that it’s good to switch learning styles, so I’m really doing a good thing by exercising my brain. The emotional side of me is busy trying to drown it out with ARE YOU CRAZY YOU NEED TWO COFFEES JUST TO HAVE A CONVERSATION IN THE MORNINGS?!?! However, since the emotional side of me has been thoughtfully providing me with nightmares for the last week, it may be time to tell her to shut up.

Right. Novel. I scrapped the Ms. Maverick idea. It crashed and died after over a week of willful neglect. I still want to use the name some time thought, because I don’t know if I’ll ever have a student make up such a cool pseudonym for me again. My new book is based on three moments:

1) Last year’s debacle in which my brother was the best man at my First Love’s wedding and… never mind. Yes, my mother went, too. I ate ice cream and watched some chick flicks.

2) February’s debacle in which 2.5 of my exboyfriends appeared in a concert I choreographed. They didn’t even know each other. Did I mention I became violently ill and vomited thirteen times in eight hours? And that I was a six hour drive from the comfort of my bed?

3) Narrating the above and various other hilariously awful romantic circumstances I’ve been in yesterday at lunch with some co-workers.

The premise of my novel is more or less this: “Hey, what if I took every horrible thing that’s ever happened in my romantic life, set it in high school, and tossed in some pop song lyrics?”

I’ve written close to 1500 words since yesterday, so it must be working. I need to write 2,000 a day to accomplish my goal. Wish me luck!

Poem of the Week #8



We’re discussing character in preparation for National Novel Writing Month… which begins next week. My personal goal is 25,000 words. I would go for the 50,000 word goal that’s set for adults- but with 1984 opening halfway through the month it’s just not going to happen. I challenge you to match my seventh graders’ goal of 10,000 words by November 30th.

Back to our poem. I am not a fan of the musical Cats- just want to put that out there. People dressed as cats with fur all over their faces does nothing for me. In fact, it kind of wigs me out. The one song I sort of kind of maybe like though, is Macavity: The Mystery Cat. Catchy, catchy, catchy. So I pulled the poem from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. As we think about our “novels”, it provided a great example of creating an intriguing character through imagery and action. I liked being able to introduce T.S. Eliot, so when they encounter his poetry and plays later in life they’ll have some context. It’s even grade-level appropriate, for once. Enjoy!

Macavity: the Mystery Cat

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movement like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found on any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair—
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—
But it’s useless to investigate—Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
‘It must have been Macavity!’—but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place—Macavity wasn’t there!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just control their operations: the Napolean of Crime!

My New Year’s Resolutions


it's 6000 something!

The Orthodox Church New Year is in September- tomorrow in fact. It makes waaaay more sense to me than having a somewhat arbitrarily chosen new year in January. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a January baby and love my month. But why on earth would anyone choose to have new beginnings in the most miserable, depressing, darkest part of the year? Everything feels more achievable when the air is crisp, the leaves are golden, and people around you are making fresh starts. If you have a family, then your entire year arranges itself around the school calendar.

This past January, I made goals for 2012 instead of resolutions. They were:

1. Be brave.

2. Write more.

Up to this point, I think I’ve come a long way towards both those goals. I committed to this blog. I kept a daily journal for my entire trip to China. I wrote a letter a day from June 1st through August 16th. I hope the practice is paying off.

As for being brave… I can’t begin to tell you how much things have changed since January. On New Year’s Eve, I was unemployed, in a destructive relationship, almost out of money, crying every day, struggling horribly with trichotillomania, and terribly depressed about the future. Today I have a job that seems tailor made for my skills and interests. It may not be perfect, but I found it and earned it based on my own merits and it’s mine.  I have a very positive relationship with someone who makes me feel beautiful every day. He’s supportive, we share interests, and we go to church together. I have a car. How did that happen? I’m not sure. It’s a standard, and I bought it anyway. Getting in and driving took (literally) insane amounts of courage. I’ve been pull free for seven months, making this the second longest and most sustainable period since trich manifested at 10. I’ve taken a lot of risks since 1/1/12. I’ve staged a concert. I spoke in front of 4,000 people. I took seven adolescents to China and translated for them. I started dating again.

A few years ago, my wonderful book club friends and I decided that on Church New Year we would make resolutions pertaining to our spiritual lives. Mine was to read the Bible daily. It mostly stuck. It’s not perfect, of course, but with God’s help it’s become a habit.

This year my resolution is to read two more Optina Elders. It’s not especially ambitious, but it’s achievable (I hope- I’ve been working on Elder Barsanuphius since the beginning of Lent, and I still have about eighty pages to go). I would also like to discover more Orthodox writers (say… three?).  I’ll need your help with that.

Wherever you are, and whatever you believe in, a very happy new year to you.

Of Thee I Sing


Happy 4th to all! We’re still free of the British, and the Chinese haven’t chosen to claim any of the fifty states we currently owe them. Let’s party.

As I struggled with a few ideas for my next post, Christopher suggested doing a post on the most patriotic books I’ve ever encountered. Why not? The only problem was that I couldn’t think of any books I’ve found patriotic. Rather, I found myself thinking of books that embodied America. Since I just finished rereading The Great Gatsby, that was at the top of my list.

Why Gatsby ? I would think that F. Scott Fitzgerald captured a particularly American spirit in that book. The sort of restlessness, the nostalgia and materialism, the glittering gaiety and desperate struggle to stay young all struck me as typically post-Civil War American. The characters Fitzgerald created are all, or have since become, American archetypes. Daisy- the popular girl, Tom- the athlete who has it all, Gatby- the outsider who can’t fit in no matter how he rises, Jordan- the athletic best friend, Myrtle- the tart with a heart… You can find them in any high school drama. They’ve just aged a bit. (Not to mention that we all had to read it in high school. The older you get, the fewer books we all have in common.)

Disagree? Well, you’re not alone. Here are a few other gut reactions to the question (paraphrased by me):

[Quick warning- apparently the 25-40 crowd is a wee bit cynical about our country. Shocking, I know]

Jesse (a seminarian at St. Tikhon’s)- On the Road because it shows how directionless the American way of living is. He has nothing to do with himself because he doesn’t understand the true purpose of life.

John (mid-thirties writer and one of my best friends since high school)- Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, any of those. That, or Fifty Shades of Grey.

Andrew and Janet* (a newly married couple living in Cambridge)- Anything in Oprah’s Book Club. The appropriation of classics into a personality cult is typical America.

Xenia(my niece and roommate)- Fahrenheit 451, because of the book burning. Or, you know, anything by an American.

So, friends, what’s the most American book you can think of? Gut reactions preferred, but f you want to give it some thought, go ahead. Don’t forget to watch some fireworks for me- some things you just can’t be cynical about.

*to be fair, Janet initially said Gatsby, too, so I almost won.

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Education Day = Book day!


I am so there. You should come too!

SAVE THE DATE! Orthodox Education Day 2012 Focuses on Writings of Tolkien and Lewis & The Hunger Games!


October 6, 2012

Save the date of Saturday, October 6, 2012, for our annual Open House, Orthodox Education Day (OED). This year’s theme will be “Inklings of Glory: Godward Journeys with Lewis and Tolkien,” and features of the day will include:
  • Lecture by Priest Andrew Cuneo (SVOTS alumnus ’10), the first Oxford University scholar ever to receive a doctoral degree on C.S. Lewis, and currently the founding priest of St. Katherine of Alexandria Orthodox Mission in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California
  • Book Study for your parish book clubs or personal interest! Father Andrew Cuneo, an expert on the writings and thought of C.S. Lewis will lead a discussion on the book The Abolition of Man; please bring your book and thinking caps!
  • Lecture by Dr. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, which houses a major research collection by and about seven British authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. View a lecture by Dr. Mitchell, “Lewis and Tolkien: Scholars and Friends,” here.
  • Young People’s Workshop by Dr. Kate Behr, professor of English at Concordia College, on the book and movie sensation: “The Hunger Games.”
  • Weeping Icon of St. Anna from St. Tikhon’s Monastery displayed for public veneration
  • Early morning Divine Liturgy and mid-day Akathist service
  • Seminary library display of icons from the British Isles
  • Sacred music choral performance
  • Traditional national dance—including a champion Irish step dancer!
  • Variety of ethnic foods


Click here for more information.

So, what’s the point?


I had an unemployment blog, and it lasted for about a month. Posting was one of the best parts of my day. I’d sit here in Starbucks typing for hours for the benefit of HR departments (HR robots?) with little to no joy involved. The blog, however, was my space to talk about the job hunt without fear or the desire to impress.

So now- what is the point? Why keep blogging at all if I’m soon to be gainfully employed?

Well, in large part because Katharine told me to.

I have trouble writing without some sort of framework (limitations set you free!). So for the time being we’ll call it a book blog. Religious and secular both.

I hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t, just remember- it’s a room of *my* own. Yours is out there too. Go get it.