Keeping with Music (for a moment)

I’m trying to remember the day that I stopped buying physical forms of music and started buying music on iTunes. I can’t remember the first album I bought on iTunes. It was likely something I already owned.

That made me try to remember the day I stopped buying music on iTunes and started streaming. It was Spotify at first. Now, it’s Apple Music (I LOVE Apple Music).

For my last two moves, I carted around tubs of CDs that I haven’t played in a decade. Now, I only own about five – a few that I couldn’t bear to give up.

The reason for this thinking is I was very anti-Kindle. My parents gifted me a Nook for Christmas probably ten years ago, but I could never read books on it. It felt largely inauthentic, and I had a hard time focusing. (I had a similar issue when I first switched from newspapers to online news – now I avoid it all together, but that’s another story.)

Then, I tried audio books, and couldn’t do it either. I couldn’t follow the stories very well. I guess I was always trying to multitask and didn’t have the focus.

But then I had kids.

And Audible became my best friend. I could listen to books as I walked with the stroller. That’s the only way I read the few books I did over the past four years. I listened. But even that wasn’t as fulfilling as reading a book.

So, I went back to Kindle – the app, not the device. And turns out my brain is much more primed to read digitally. The best thing is I use it on my phone, and I read five minutes at a time whenever I have a chance. Works perfectly for this stay-at-home, work-at-home mom. And I’m actually reading!

I just finished Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and have started The Handmaid’s Tale.

Ah, but back to the point of this post. I purchased a few books about three months ago and have read none of them, unfortunately, despite my best efforts.

So, as I sit here wanting to pre-order Michelle Obama’s Becoming, I’m wondering for the first time, should I order the book or a kindle version? And I wonder what will be the last print book I order.

Novel Synopsis ~ Lucha

I finally finished a draft of my novel Lucha that I was okay with calling finished. Very, very strange feeling. I just received the draft back from an editor and have some additions and changes to make (personal deadline = one week).

I am also working on the synopsis for this novel and am looking for feedback. From the basics of does it make sense to is it any good?

(And p.s. I started posting the novel by chapter on this site: Teresa Jordan Crimes. It’s a few drafts old, but if you’re interested in the first  chapters of one of the original drafts, you can find them there.)


Teresa Jordan, a detective who has been suspended from every job she’s ever held, is wrapping up a drug trafficking case before serving her latest suspension. Moving between the U.S. and Mexico, she finds herself in the world of lucha libre wrestling where she sets her sights set on El Scorpion as the mastermind behind the drug operation. Teresa thinks she is close to wrapping up the case when the bodies of three young women dressed in the insignia of El Scorpion turn up on the border.

Ayanna Sanchez is the manager behind El Scorpion, a star wrestler and her brother. Ayanna has developed a large clientele of fans and bettors on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She has teamed up with bookies, Saul and Carlos, and assures her brother that betting is perfectly legitimate in this business, but the money isn’t enough for her. She double-crosses the team of Saul and Carlos by partnering with drug traffickers who increase her revenue exponentially. The wrestling business works well as a cover operation, and she begins to hire a staff of young women whom she grooms to look, act and think like she does.

Lucha is the story of Teresa Jordan’s investigation of a triple homicide during an attempt to solve a drug-trafficking case. From the moment Teresa adds murder to the investigation, she’s thoroughly confused about who to trust, which only takes her deeper into the world of lucha libre wrestling and El Scorpion. Time seems to be running out, though, as another body turns up at the border, and Teresa appears to be the next target.

Summer Reading

Without even planning, my summer reading list developed quickly this year. This is my mandatory reading for work and some are books that I have read in the past. I decided–along with a teacher who will be teaching one section of the same course–to completely change the book list. So, that gives me 12 weeks of some pretty interesting reading to come!

Professional Development:

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. This one was assigned to all teachers, but it’s one that I’m actually quite interested in because of the psychology aspect. At the end of the day, I love to learn about the way people learn, particularly what motivates them.

inGenius by Tina Seelig. This one was assigned to teachers who teach an art course. As a creative writing teacher, this lumps me into that category. As with the other, I’m looking forward to learning about becoming more creative myself and taking that into the classroom.

Other Work Books:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is one of those books that I would definitely read on my own if I had all the time in the world, so I’m a little excited that it was picked as an “all school” book. It gives me a good reason to read something for “fun” that I probably wouldn’t get around to otherwise.

The rest of the books for work comprise my reading list next year, and I’ve read them before. I’ve never taught any of them in a classroom, so I’m excited to re-read them with the intention of teaching. It definitely changes the way I read and what I pay attention to as I read.

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The decision was to overtly teaching self-realization this year, which led to the addition of the Morrison selections, Obama and Goodwin. At the same time, our discussion centered around the idea that there is a world outside of the school and neighborhood in which we teach.

I have to admit that it was extraordinarily hard for me to keep my opinions to myself this year when students stated that racism doesn’t exist anymore, women are completely equal to men and that poverty is something “in other countries”. So, I’m very excited to explore some deeper themes and discuss what the human experience for more people who my students actually interact with.


books: The Art of Fielding

I bought this book on Amazon because it was on the NY Times bestseller list and because it’s about baseball.

Author Chad Harbach was praised in multiple reviews for this as his first novel, and I have to say that the praise is well-deserved. It is an extremely well-written novel. The characters are well-developed and believable. The setting is beautifully described. Dialogue is crisp and unique. From the writing standpoint, it leaves little to be desired. This is a major reason that I was able to read it in four days (which considering my work schedule and its length of 528 pages was pretty close to a miracle). It has that light and easy read that signifies the intricacy of the writing.

My only complaint–and I have to put a disclaimer on this in that it comes from the lens of a baseball fan–is that it’s not entirely a baseball story. There are moments when I feel that the story, specifically the backstories, is a little too romantic, a little too dramatic. But that is just a personal take that comes from a personal interest and obsession with baseball.

The story started out with great focus on Henry Skrimshander–being discovered by the catcher of the Harpooners, adjusting to college life, and struggling through a major slump.  I appreciated the struggles of Mike Schwartz, the aforementioned catcher,  as he tried to figure out what life would be after college baseball. Apart from these two major storylines, the book also wove in the tales of Guert Affenlight, president of Westish college, his daughter Pella, and Henry’s roommate Owen. And despite the lack of baseball in some instances, the collision of the storylines of these characters is masterfully done.

Overall, an amazing book. Harbach is an incredible writer, and I will definitely read whatever tale he spins next.


currently reading

What Now? by Ann Patchett

I bought this one after hearing the commencement address that inspired it. It’s a very quick read. I read it this morning in about an hour. It’s about the life of a writer and just general thoughts on how to think about what comes next. It’s interesting that it does not broach the topic of deciding what’s next at all. Dealing with, however, is probably much more practical.

How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One by Stanley Fish

I bought this book to help me design curriculum. No, really. I thought it might break down sentences in a way that I hadn’t thought about yet. And that is the ultimate struggle in teaching writing. So many teachers want to dive into paragraph structure and forming an argument and writing essays. The honest truth is that poor sentences destroy all of that anyways. It’s funny because I was recently told that 10th grade is way too old to re-teach sentence structure, but I always say that I had my writing stripped down to basic sentence structure as a Sophomore in college. So, it’s never too late. Apart from the curriculum inspiration, it’s a fascinating book. If you like writing at all, it’s definitely worthwhile.

Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

I’m about two chapters in and have already realized that this is totally going to mess with my head. In a good way. The timing is perfect, too. I absolutely loved the discussion about the difference between the brain and the mind. And of course, this warrior Socrates reminds me of someone…


not blogging

The last three posts I’ve written are sitting as drafts. See, I’ve made a promise to myself not to complain. Honestly, they are not even true complaints, but they’re not happy and I’m trying to this an unhappy free zone.

But I also want to be honest so I’m going to just write a list. Facts only:

  • My brother gave me “Moneyball” for Christmas, and I just started reading it. A few chapters in, the short version is that it’s the story of Billy Beane. It really makes me want to be a baseball scout. Like really badly.
  • I switched my runs to outdoor runs this week because the weather has been so nice and because I really want to run a 5K. It hasn’t been nearly as bad as I thought it could be. I will say, though, that Elysian Park is brutal.
  • Every time I look at these cats, I really just want a dog. It’s starting to get to me.
  • I realized on Saturday evening that for the past 7 years I’ve done the exact same thing and gotten the exact same results. I know that’s part of the definition of insanity, BUT this time I didn’t expect different results. I knew what I was doing this time.
  • One of the best friends I’ve made in my adult life moved to South America five months ago. And while I fully support his happiness, I miss him terribly. That’s starting to get to me, too.
  • I have an overwhelming desire to disappear right now. I’m slowly shutting down social networking, except for Twitter at this point because that’s my only source of news.
  • The other thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is that there was this guy I went out with for a while, and while I know we don’t belong together, I feel really bad that he never knew why I liked him.
  • I really, really, really miss baseball. When I spent thirty minutes this morning reading minor league stats, I realized that someone needs to play a game soon.
  • I have had this friend since freshman year of high school. And with all of the above thoughts rolling around in my brain and exhaustion from trying to catch up after three months of working two full-time jobs, I appreciate all of the laughter last night. All joking aside, he truly is one of my soul mates.

“Brida” & Soul Mates

I spent last night reading the Coelho book I picked up at the library a couple of days ago.”Brida” was no different from any of Coelho’s books. It took  a very Catholic tradition and drew in another way of believing. In this case, it was witchcraft. And I know that is probably sacrilege to some people, but it really wasn’t. It was a very heartfelt following of the journey of the young Brida as she attempted to learn the secrets of the world.

The funny thing is that along the way she learns that she is going to find her Soul Mate (Coelho’s capitalization). And this is where Coelho does his magic. He says something that–for me–always feels like something I’ve always known without really knowing it. Or something that I’ve said half-way without being able to articulate it properly.

The energies of the world split up into millions of little pieces so much so that parts of your soul used to be parts of another soul. The awesome thing is that the other pieces are in someone else. He describes the “light” in someone’s eyes when you see your Soul Mate. It’s a nice thought.

And it makes a lot of sense. It goes back to something I just said last weekend at a wedding. That the instant attraction for me–not even romantically–is nothing more than feeling a matching energy from someone. The Light, I suppose.

How do we find them? In the book, it takes a lot of work to find one’s Soul Mate. But, I think that they have a certain way of finding you when you least expect it.

things like work

And umm…where have YOU been?

I think I heard that question about five times yesterday.

I’m just excited that I get to see you!

That one was from my mom.

So, it occurred to me that perhaps I’ve been working too hard. And then it further occurred to me that perhaps my workaholic tendencies (yes, tendencies, not workaholism) have reached new heights bordering on workaholism.

But in my defense, in addition to working what I have labeled should-be-but-aren’t-really-because-the-way-I-do-them three part-time jobs, I have also:

  • Finished First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. Deeply, deeply disturbing and heart wrenching. Still not quite at the caliber of A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah which made me physically ill, but a very worthwhile read.
  • Not missed a single Dodger game in the past two weeks, including going to two last home stand. This is quite an accomplishment, considering that it’s downright painful to watch.
  • Started watching Keith and Rachel on nightly basis again so I actually know what’s going on in the world.
  • Kept up my running regime.

I officially realized that there are, in fact, enough hours in the day–if you plan correctly, drink a lot of caffeine and don’t mind a little sleep deprivation.

Oh! And the best part of all is that–I’ve got an idea. Two, in fact.


I’ve pretty much been listening to Led Zeppelin for the past three weeks or so. Just been in that kind of mood. Plus, it’s good working and running music. I like the transitions to be seamless so pulling the iPod off the dock and switching to headphones to run is important. My current favorite, favorite song is “What is and What Should Never Be.” Screeching guitars. And it totally sets you up to think you’re going to get a nice, slow song. Then, BAM! That’s a good description of my overall mood, too.

Coincidentally, this has become my wedding-prep song. (Not for me getting married, but for shooting weddings.) Don’t ask.

For the books:

I picked up today “The Bullpen Gospels.” I heard Keith Olbermann talk about it a couple of months ago and was so disappointed to figure out that he had obviously gotten an advanced copy. So, I’m excited for it in a major way. Plus, I think it will help with the rewrites I’m about to begin.

The other is “The Winner Stands Alone” by Paulo Coelho. I’m working my way through Coelho’s books in the order they appear in my life. Seriously. I’ve had friends hand them to me. Then, I found one sitting on the shelf–out of place–at the library a few weeks ago. So, when I returned it today, this book was the only remaining book in the “Coelho” section. Figured that it must be the right time for it. The eerie thing about these books is that not only do I feel like they’re telling my story, but I also feel they’ve been timed perfectly each and every time.

currently reading: books for travel

Packing for trips is not my strong suit. I’m happy to just toss stuff in a bag and see what happens. But, I am very thoughtful about the books I choose. I figured that I was going to have a lot of travel time and down time on this short trip, so I spent quite a bit of time choosing the books I would read.

  1. The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. I started this at home and had to bring it to finish it off (see my previous post for the significance). I loved it in that it really made me think kind of way.
  2. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. It’s been on my bookshelf for about a year, and a friend saw it a couple of weeks ago and made reference to something in it. So, I decided that I should read it. I’m loving it so far.
  3. The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho. I love Elijah. I really do. And I was so excited that this book arrived at home on Sunday so that I could bring it with me.
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Recommended to me by a friend, but I haven’t really had time for “fun” reading.