Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading and Knitting

Since finishing up a particularly tough semester, I was all ready to dive into reading what I want to read. I started off with Lois Lowry's The Giver, since Dude had been at me to read it. He's on a post-apocalyptic fiction kick. I love that he wants me to read the books he loves so we can talk about them together.

The Giver is one of those books that brings home to me that he's not little anymore. The themes Lowry tackles in the book, particularly infanticide, really got to me. The story takes place in a controlled society that has done away with color, feeling and emotion, and individuality. Each year of a child's life comes with a group milestone - the Nines, for instance, all receive sweatshirts with zippers in the front; at one age (I think it may be Tens), they all receive bicycles. At Twelve, the kids are given their professions; Jonas, the main character, is chosen to be the Receiver, the one person in the society who's the repsitory for public memory. The Receiver alone gets the memories of emotion and times before The Change. The Giver in this case is the former Receiver, who looks forward to being "released" - which, we learn, is given a lethal injection. I can't recommend the book enough. Dude and I have been having conversations about it here and there and we're both blown away by it.

When we first started Family Book Group, I tried to make it a formal thing; I'd print stuff up online about our books and try to have a sit-down discussion, but it felt so forced. Now, after I read a book he suggests, we just start talking about it whenever we want to. Sometimes, it's a 2-minute conversation, sometimes we come back to it somewhere else at another time. It's more organic and it works for both of us.

Now, I'm reading another review book, The Confession of Katherine Howard, which is yet another historical fiction novel involving one of Henry VIII's wives (the other one that he beheaded). I used to live for these types of books, but this one is yet another version of Another Boleyn Girl. It's maddening how these things go. One book will define the genre and every other book is a play off of it. Look at Twilight, and all the teen vampire novels that have followed. It happened to Bridget Jones. Sigh.

Once I finish the Katherine Howard book, I promised Dude and Cutie that I'd read the newest Wimpy Kid book, The Ugly Truth. I've read all the others and loved them. They're hilarious and well done. Cutie started reading them this year and loves them.

Knitting, knitting, knitting. I'm going through another bout of knitting ennui. I was working on a sweater vest for myself that was going well until I decided to knit while sick and managed to screw something up somewhere. I started the long and drawn out unknitting process but lost patience. I have to get back to it, but right now, I'm just letting it langish. Cutie wants a pair of yellow mittens, which I started but see the one I'm working on looks HUGE. I have to rip it out and start on smaller needles. Again, just not into it. So it languishes. Maybe I'll start them today, since we have a long trip out to the Island facing us.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wow. Two Posts in Two Days?

One of the many awesome things about having a laptop is that I can pretty much post anywhere at any time. It's not like I can open up the laptop and take a snapshot in the middle of the street yet, but hopefully once I get my new and improved cell phone, that will go far. So here I am, with everyone else in bed, blogging. Just like old times.

Thankfully, I seem to finally be getting over the bug that rocked me for about a week. Naturally, Mike's sick now; I hope he gets over it quicker than I did. We're supposed to be taking the kids to see the Radio City Music Christmas Spectacular tomorrow night, so I hope we can still go. The boys have been so excited.

I'm still recovering from this semester - it only ended on Sunday evening, and writing a final paper while feverish and sick really, really sucks. I would say it's not my best work, but I know I say that about almost everything I hand in. I hope my teacher thinks otherwise.

While I enjoyed the class and the material this semester, I did make a big discovery: I can like archives, but I just don't connect with it. I had initially been toying with splitting my specialization between archives and youth literacy, even weighing more heavily in archives, until this semester. I can talk books. I can talk kids' books. I connect on so many levels with books. But archives? This semester was a struggle all the way through, whether it was catching up with the reading or getting the simplest assignment committed to paper. I wasn't on fire and I had to fight to create every sentence. Which is helpful in that it showed me what NOT to do.

I decided to go to library school because I love books. Because helping develop my kids' love of reading made me love kids' books in a whole new way. I took a career detour of sorts years ago when I somehow got away from my original career plan - from the time I was 4 or 5 until I was about 12, I wanted to be a teacher or a librarian - so why am I going to do this to myself a second time? I'm not. Taking this archives class showed me more than ever that yes, I want to be involved in children's literacy. Next semester, I take a collection development class, which any librarian needs to have. I also have an historical research class down, which I thought of dropping; I do, however, need a research class and the class itself sounds interesting. So I'm going to stick with it. After these classes, I'm pretty sure that the rest of my electives will be in children's literacy, perhaps with one or two Web classes to round me out.

Having that direction in place has given me a tremendous sense of relief and peace. Something in my crazy life is settled.

I've been knitting away, but naturally, being sick and knitting equals huge mistakes. Luckily it's a stockinette piece so aside from having to negotiate the ripping back of a few armhole decreases, I should be fine. Grr, regardless.

More tomorrow on books. I should probably get a good night's sleep since I'll be back at work after three missed days. Zoinks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Decade, Same Me

Wow. I'm 40 today. Rather, in a little less than an hour, I will be (it's currently 10:21 a.m. I was born at 11:17 a.m.). It's an interesting feeling.

I remember turning 29 and sobbing for an entire year in the awful anticipation of turning 30. As it turns out, my 30s were some of the best years of my life this far. I became the person I was supposed to be, and it turns out, I actually like that person. My teens and 20s were spent trying to figure out who I was, so having the guesswork taken out of that was really relieving. I figured out how to be the best Mom I was capable of being; I worked at being a better wife and daughter, and I really found out who my friends are versus who the very cool acquaintances that I enjoy having around are.

I finally decided, in my late 30s, what I wanted to be when I grew up. Turns out, it's one of the career choices I'd made for myself when I was 6. Sometimes, we really DO have the answer when we're that young. I could have saved myself a lot of angst, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today, I'm home sick and woke up really cranky and irritable. What a way to turn 40, right? Feeling all Emily Dickinson-comsumptive and weepy. Not the greatest way to kick off my next decade, so I'm not. I'm surrounded by family and friends that I love, I've just finished one of the toughest semesters in grad school that I've had so far, and I got a shiny Tron light cycle and a Dwight Schrute bobblehead for my birthday. And a fabulous new laptop. Now THAT'S a way to turn 40.

So I'm going to enjoy this, a forced day off of sorts, and crack open an actual book that I've been waiting to read. Today is a day to be enjoyed. And who knows? Maybe having this laptop will guarantee that I find my way back to the blogosphere a little more often now.