Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Desserts, Just and Less So

So I got the job. Either they liked me more than it seemed they did or I was the only applicant - which is fine, I'm not proud. To answer Steph's question (HI STEPH) it is to supplement my current gig, which is only one day a week at one school. This is on Mondays at a different school which is very close to my house; my ten-minute drive on Wednesdays is now my long commute. It's all kind of funny because years ago when I started my diploma, people were saying there was a projected library tech shortage for right now, and I would roll my eyes and say "yeah, okay, we'll see" and now postings are showing up fairly regularly on the job board. It's not a huge deal and it's not a large amount of money, but I do regularly feel very happy about the fact that I'm actually getting paid to do a job I went to school for because at one point in my life it seemed unlikely that that would ever happen. I suppose it's barely possible that having a classroom of seven-year-olds bellowing thank-you in French at the end of library time might get old some day, but I kind of doubt it.

I feel like I should write more, but I'm tired and my feet hurt and I really need to do laundry because none of my good bras are clean from the trip and my boobs were in full revolt by the end of work today. Oh, but this morning was the awards ceremony at Eve's high school. It was originally supposed to be last week so we were going to miss it, and then they re-scheduled, so we were really happy we could go. Since she was in grade nine last year, her group was first, starting at 9 a.m. We figured this would work out great, since Matt had to get to work to organize Bring Your Kid to Work Day because he's the most senior member in his group, and I would have lots of time to get Lucy to my parents and get to work after the ceremony. So we were going to be those parents, take a picture of our kid walking across the stage and then bolt for the doors. And her last name starts with an A.

Then as I'm sitting there waiting for the thing to start, my phone pings with the chimes of divine retribution and Eve texts: "Take a picture of M. getting her Honour Roll medal, because she didn't tell her mom and she's going to get murdered." Want to guess what her best friend's last name is? IT'S ZOUZOULAS.

I still made it to work on time. Barely. Served me right.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Day 13

I had another job interview this morning. It's another small position close by, but the resemblance to the last interview process sort of ended there. I sent in my application from Mexico from my husband's computer with a small degree of difficulty. The principal called me last night. Instead of just asking me to come in, she grilled me to a pretty high degree about stuff I thought was already in my cover letter and résumé. Then she said "are you applying to other positions?" and I thought oh! She's afraid I don't really want a one-day position or that I won't stay for long. I did my best to reassure her that I lack ambition and am very happy to work very little for the long term.

The last interview was a joyous happy frolic. I immediately loved the principal and v.p., we had a bunch of coincidental things in common, our purposes dovetailed nicely in that they were desperate for a library tech and I was one. The interview today was the usual drill - they give me a list of questions, fifteen minutes to jot down notes and then the principal and vice principal take turns reading me the questions and I answer. I don't love this process at the best of times - it's weirdly formal and stilted and I don't do well with that. Today was even worse because the questions were - how do I put this? - too grand. I'm fine talking about my education and training and how I deal with kids, parents and teachers, but when terms like 'vision' and 'initiative' and 'describe an example where you went to extraordinary measures to save the world' just make me want to roll my eyes and say "can we just cut the bullshit and be real?" Somebody was just talking on one of my Facebook groups about how she's excellent at her job but lacks polish. I feel the same - I'm not good at formal. I don't do well with situations where I feel like I have to be fake, and even though it seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to have to force it for a good reason, it is. It is a big deal. It makes me want to die. Oh well. It's good experience. I have a job already this time. It's fine.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Best-Laid Plans and All That

Wi-fi was spotty and Blogger refused to work any harder than I was in Mexico. I'm a tiny bit sad that my nine-year streak was wrecked. On the other hand, this trip was, despite an epically, comically, historically bad flight home (tiny plane with no leg room to begin with, man in front of me reclined his seat until my tray table was jammed into my boobs, family behind us with four kids, one of whom kicked my seat for four hours like it was his job, another of whom was the literal Screaming Baby, only three bathrooms in the back of the plane, which was blocked off with the service cart for most of the flight) such an incredible gift. I have apologized to my husband extensively for doing everything I could not to have to go (although not for mocking the Circle of Excellence thing, I still think that's hilarious).

Friday, November 9, 2018


Let’s be honest. We all knew blogging from Mexico would be a stretch. I thought at least I’d post a photo a day or something. But I suck at typing on my phone and, well.... tequila. I’ll make it up to you when I get home. 

Here’s some pictures of a cool statue. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Not at All Confusing 

Korean Street Tacos. In Denver. En route to Mexico. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Day 5

We're going to Mexico on a reward trip for my husband for being in a "Circle of Excellence" at work (will I mock him for something that nets me a free trip somewhere warm in November? Yes, yes I will. I'm not proud of it, but there it is). There's a website with numerous pictures of the beautiful resort, a detailed itinerary of all the fun things we get to do, and pictures of all the trip winners and their spouses.

So naturally I'm spending all my time obsessively poring over the pictures of the wives, who are all better-looking than me.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

That Feeling When

it's been raining for days and days and everything feels heavy and soggy and life is okay but distinctly Novemberish and then the week-end comes and there are plans but you really just want to hibernate and try to stay dry but you haul your ass onto the treadmill and out to the park and next door to your fabulous neighbour's birthday party because it's always a tremendous risk moving into a house where you plan to live for years and years and not knowing who you're going to be living beside, and finding out that they're amazing people whose kids will become friends with your kids and who will let you crash their new year's eve party when your kid has a stupid hockey game on new year's eve and who will lend you sugar or tomato sauce or a margarita when you need one is purest good luck to be treasured.

And you drink and laugh and stay up way too late and feel happy that your friend has other awesome friends. Then you come home and go to sleep and get up and your other friend has decided to smoke a turkey just for fun and the rain has stopped and you go and laugh and eat and don't drink because, well, limits, and the light is warm and the kitchen is full and you look around and realize that you are blessed beyond measure with everything anyone needs or wants for a full and happy life.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Day 3

I've been lacking exercise lately. I'm not beating myself up because things have been busy and I have been not feeling my best, so that's fine. Last night I had plans to walk on the treadmill but instead I cocooned on the couch and watched a really good British mini-series, so that was also fine.

Today I slept in and decided to get on the treadmill before showering. Usually I do five minutes slow warm-up and then try to go pretty fast for half an hour. Today I just stayed pretty slow and walked longer than usual and felt really good - my shoulder and feet and hips have all been cranky lately, and they all felt fine.

Lucy hates it when I'm on the treadmill - she sits at the closed basement door and whines the whole time. So I usually take her out at least for a short walk when I come up, even though I am sweaty and gross and my hair is tragic. It's been raining for what feels like all of recorded history here, but as I took her out it cleared a bit and the sun shone a bit and we met a sweet Dachshund wearing a sweater and it was all very lovely.

Then we entered the path between two houses that goes from the park into the little subdivision that brings us home and the wind picked up and I got smacked in the head really hard by a leaf. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Newbery Post: Crispin the Cross of Lead and Walk Two Moons

Yes, it's another entry in my slow-and-irregular Newbery Medal series - I hope no one was holding their breath. 

Last year when I was subbing in various libraries around the city, I would scan the shelves for Newbery books and read them at breaks. I found these two at Mutchmor Elementary School.

Crispin, the Cross of Lead by Avi (Newbery Medal Winner 2003): Synopsis from Goodreads:
"Asta's Son" is all he's ever been called. The lack of a name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in 14th century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less - no home, no family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name - Crispin - and his mother's cross of lead.

This was probably one of the best examples of a book targeted at the exact audience meant for the Newbery Medal books - middle-grade readers. There's not a whole lot of nuance, but for younger readers there is pathos, excitement, adventure, a suitably sympathetic and entertaining adult figure, and a big payoff of a plot reveal. There's enough history that you could write a paper on it and pull out a few impressive details about the period, as well as some good "compare your life to Crispin's" type of deal. 

So yeah, I wasn't blown away by this, but I think as a third-or-fourth-grader it would have held my interest. There were five Honor books that year (runners-up, essentially) and the only one I've read is Surviving the Applewhites. It's more contemporary and I probably liked it slightly more, but there's nothing wrong with getting kids to ingest a little historical knowledge with their fiction.

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech (Newbery Medal Winner 1995): Synopsis from Goodreads: "How about a story? Spin us a yarn."
Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. "I could tell you an extensively strange story," I warned.
"Oh, good!" Gram said. "Delicious!"
And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold — the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother.

In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.

I really liked this one, pretty much from the beginning. It was not at all what I was expecting. As with many of the Newbery books, I'd been aware of the title for years, and I always assumed it was about an indigenous girl quite far in the past. Instead it's contemporary, about a girl named Salamanca tree whose mother has some Indigenous blood, and truthfully the borrowing/mashing up/mutilating of Indigenous themes has not aged well and is quite painful at times. There is something right about the expression "Never judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins", though (I think I read that the author found it in a fortune cookie). Sal's voice is strong and affecting and the dynamic between the two grandparents is really lovely. The author doesn't shy away from themes of loss and deep sadness, which I always think shows respect for young readers, who can often handle more than adults think they can. This was just a really great story - I cried at the end. Oh, but I have to mention that the teacher, Mr. Birkway, who is supposed to be a pivotal adult figure? He assigns journal writing to the class and then reads out embarrassing journal entries that are supposed to be private. It's all supposed to be in the name of revelation and empathy and shit, but if he did that to me, or my daughter? Heads would ROLL, people. Ahem. 

I also read a book called Firegirl by Tony Abbott from this library (the cover called out to me) and it was excellent. A girl disfigured by burn scars joins the middle-school class of Tom, the narrator, and predictably causes a stir. The author pitches the story just right, and I felt viscerally Tom's fear, discomfort, sympathy and torment as he tries to navigate reassessing his relationship with a selfish and opportunistic 'best friend' and being a friend to Jessica, facing customary fears about being accepted. It's not quite Wonder, but while I always appreciate a young readers' book that works on a lot of levels, there's something to be said for a book that addresses ten-to-twelve-year olds exactly where they are. 

Geez, book review posts are exhausting. On the other hand, I'm going to my awesome neighbour's birthday party tomorrow so expect a blurry picture of a margarita glass at best. Happy week-end. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

How Much Can No Blo?

I apologize heartily for saying that blogging was dead, particularly because Swistle is still busy KILLING it. I think it's safe to say that NaBloPoMo is kind of dead, at least in its original incarnation, since BlogHer doesn't seem to be running it anymore. This matters not a whit to me, since when I started doing it I was just copying a fellow blogger and didn't even really KNOW what the deal was, I just thought it was a cool (and terrifying and horrible and stupid) idea. I've done it every year since, even when I think I'm not going to, even when I've been a completely slothful waste of space leading up to it, and I am nothing if not a creature of (usually bad) habit. It also brings something hopeful to November, that damp stale dishrag of a month, so here we go.

Please be advised that my habitual disclaimer stands: there will be a post every day. Not a good post. Not a long post. Just a post. I will pontificate on the minutest of minutiae. I will post about things that I should have posted about six months ago and in all fairness should have lost my chance to post about. I will pimp out my children and friends ruthlessly (not really ruthlessly. There will be a modicum of ruth. Damn, it would be really cool if I had a friend named Ruth).

Let's talk about Halloween. Where are you in the Halloween arc? I am mostly out of it regarding my children. Angus is away (we texted him and asked what he was going as and he said "a Canadian"). Eve dressed up for our friends' annual Halloween party and for school, made her costumes and slayed it, but just went over to a friend's house for the evening and handed out candy. Halloween used to really stress me out when I had to figure out who my kids were going trick-or-treating with and if I had to go and feel like a schmuck walking along not-too-close not-too-far, often in the rain or snow. Matt was often away so I had to figure out how to deal with trick-or-treating and handing out candy here. It was just a big logistics nightmare. Last night he was home and did most of the handing out, just calling me to the door if there were particularly cute costumes. It was kind of nice. I felt like maybe I SHOULD miss the kids going out, but didn't really.

She still carves the pumpkins.

Doll from Coraline

Moth and lamp. (I know, I know, properly speaking the expression is "like a moth to a flame" but apparently there's a meme right now and it had to be a lamp. I thought it was a pretty good repurposing of her old purple fairy wings).